Monday, September 25, 2017

Casa Fiesta Mexican Restaurant – Lenoir City Tennessee

On this evening, we had plans to drive down to Knoxville’s ‘Old Town’ area to sample a Scottish themed pub and restaurant.  But, as it goes, the best of plans often go astray…


As you can see, it was a very rainy, stormy nasty evening.  We decided to avoid the weather related traffic issues and dine closer to home.  Our friends Norm and Linda planned to go with us and when we suggested Casa Fiesta Mexican Restaurant and Grill for dinner, they gave it their enthusiastic endorsement.  It turned out that this is their favorite local Mexican restaurant…


We arrived early, at about 5 PM so Casa Fiesta wasn’t busy yet.  This is the main dining area.  By the time we finished and were ready to leave, the restaurant was packed!  Not bad considering it was the Tuesday after Labor Day…


The other side of Casa Fiesta has a smaller dining area and a small bar.  As with most Mexican restaurants, the décor is colorful and upbeat.


Of course the server automatically started us out with the usual basket of tortilla chips and salsa.  A small dish of bean and cheese dip was also served with the chips.  Except for myself, everyone else at the table loves guacamole so Norm ordered this big bowl of Guacamole Dip for the table. ($4.75) It was enthusiastically consumed down to the last bits…


As usual in a Mexican Restaurant, the menu was huge…with 4 pages loaded with a wide variety of selections.  Linda chose her dinner from the section of new dinner offerings. 

This is the Burrito Texano. ($11.99) It consists of shrimp, steak, chicken and onions with cheese over the top and it was served with lettuce, tomatoes and more guacamole.  A ‘to go’ box was requested so that none of her meal would be wasted…


Norm also picked his entrée from the new dinner selection.  This is the Burrito Norteno. ($8.99) In this instance, we have a flour tortilla filled with eggs, shredded chicken (or beef) and covered with cheese sauce.  As you can see, lettuce, sour cream and rice completed Norm’s meal. 



As I’ve mentioned in previous posts about Mexican restaurants, Laurie loves quesadillas.  She was very happy to spot the Quesadilla Loca on the menu. ($6.99) This tortilla was filled with melted cheese, spinach and mushrooms…and then it was grilled.  She really liked it and said that she’d definitely order it again!


I was happy to note that Casa Fiesta has a ‘sauce’ bar, stocked with everything from a green sauce all the way up to a couple of very hot spicy versions.  I got a cup of one of the hotter versions plus a few jalapeno slices in preparation for my dinner…

My entrée was the Chili Colorado. ($10.99) It included broiled sliced strips of steak in a red chili sauce and it was served with Mexican rice and beans along with 4 soft tortillas on the side.  I’ve had Chili Colorado in at least 4 other area Mexican restaurants…and this was easily the best of them all!


After those big meals plus the chips, salsa and guacamole, sensible folks would have called it a day… We just aren’t sensible folks.  It was dessert time!  Norm ordered the Sopapilla. ($1.99) These deep fried tortillas were topped with honey, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.


Laurie ordered the Flan. ($3.49) The traditional Mexico City style crème caramel was buried under this mound of whipped cream, caramel, chocolate sauce and as you can see, it was topped by a cherry.  Although this seemed to be an unusual way to serve flan, Laurie said that it was very good…


Linda decided to try the Fried Chimichanga. ($3.99) This dessert comes with a mixture of apple or bananas with nuts, butter, cinnamon and sugar rolled into a flour tortilla and fried, then covered with whipped cream, caramel and chocolate sauce.  She cleaned her plate... 


My choice was easy… I love top quality Churros!  Casa Fiesta’s version of this deep fried Mexican treat was especially tasty… They were filled with apples, and then coated with cinnamon and sugar.  Casa Fiesta must have overbought whipped cream, chocolate sauce and caramel…but it all worked well with the churros…

Service was fine, the restaurant was clean and the food was superior.  We will have to visit again to try other items on the menu but my feeling is that Casa Fiesta will become our favorite area Mexican Restaurant!

Casa Fiesta Mexican Restaurant is located at 455 US Hwy. 321 in Lenoir City Tennessee. (Near the Big Lots Store and across from the Ingles Supermarket) Phone: 865-816-1041.  This restaurant doesn’t appear to have a website but you can find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CasaFiestaRestaurantGrill/.  Note: The menu shown on Facebook is definitely incomplete…

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by to see what was for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Wagon Train/Caravan 'Rally'

On the Labor Day weekend, we’d driven out to Tellico Plains Tennessee for dinner… As it turned out, we were also treated to something that we’d never seen before!


From the parking lot of the Tellicafe Restaurant in Tellico Plains we spotted these horse and mule teams pulling wagons down the road.  I’d heard of a Corvette Rally, or even a Studebaker Rally, but this is apparently the equivalent event featuring wagons or caravans with horses and mules. 


This is an annual event, one that we’d never heard of despite living the next county over and only 35 minutes away from Tellico Plains for the last 8+ years.  A bit of research revealed that nightly entertainment is provided for the participants on Friday and Saturday nights.  Admission for the general public this year was only $5.00 per person.  Featured artists this year were the Moonshine Creek Band and Hunter Grayson. 


To sample Hunter Grayson’s music, just go to


We took a bunch of horse and mule photos because we love horses and think that mules are one of the smartest, most interesting 4-legged creatures around…


…Are you looking at me?!  Mules are so darn smart and they really know how to get us human’s attention too.  




So, the questions were…just why and when did this whole wagon train thing started?  The answers to these questions were partly practical and partly a lobbying effort…

The Tellico Plains Kiwanis Club, as part of their efforts to promote the creation of a Tennessee-North Carolina highway, organized the first wagon train on the 4th of July in 1958.  On that date, 67 covered wagons and 325 horseback riders made the trek through the Smoky Mountains from Tellico Plains to Murphy North Carolina.

Such enthusiasm was generated that 5 years later, the trek was incorporated as a non-profit named the Western North Carolina Wagon Train, headquartered in Andrews North Carolina.  Apparently this annual event or rally had some positive impact, because in 1967 construction began on what is now called the Cherohala Skyway, which now stretches from Tellico Plains Tennessee to Robbinsville North Carolina. 


This annual event was originally known as the Tellico to Murphy Wagon Train.  Apparently to the surprise of most folks, interest grew and people came from all around to participate and witness the spectacle.  The original wagon train left Tellico Plains on an early morning in late June and they were greeted by spectators all along the route.  On July 4th of 1958, they arrived in Murphy where they were welcomed by a cheering crowd of thousands of spectators.  


For the next 5 years, the wagon train used the same route.  Interest has spread so far that various routes have been traveled throughout the mountains, always ending with a parade on the 4th of July in a town to which they’ve been invited. 

Traditionally, every 5 years, the wagon train travels the original route from Tellico Plains to Murphy.  In recent years, due to the difficulty of getting clearance for routes through the mountains and securing campgrounds for the event, the Wagon Train has stayed in Andrews North Carolina and staged their July 4th parade in that town.


…More mules checking out Laurie as she took their picture.

In 1963, the wagon train group was incorporated as a non-profit corporation…the Western North Carolina Wagon Train…with their headquarters in Andrews North Carolina.  The board of directors is made up of members from North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and North Georgia.  In 2004, the organization officially expanded their original mission to include the encouragement and promotion of fair treatment of equine livestock.


Laurie captured this team of horse pulling a wagon down the street in our direction by shooting the photo through our windshield.  Very cool!

If you would like to view a video of the 2011 July 4th Wagon Train Parade through downtown Tellico Plains, just click on the following link: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=tellico+plains+wagon+train&view=detail&mid=B34D8B21DE9D8332E732B34D8B21DE9D8332E732&FORM=VIRE.

This year’s Labor Day Parade, (which we weren’t aware of), formed up at the campgrounds and proceeded through downtown Tellico Plains.  Anyone could participate including floats, wagons, horse, mules, tractors, four-wheelers, antique cars, emergency vehicles, etc.  The William Blount High School Marching Band led the way and local TV coverage was provided by WBIR, Knoxville’s NBC affiliate.


This is one of the 2 free camp grounds being used by the Wagon Train participants.  In this case, it’s the late Charles Hall’s field across from the Hardee’s Restaurant, (and next to Tellicafe, where we ate dinner), in Tellico Plains.  Note the mountains in the background…


This is the other camp ground that was available for the wagon train.  It was also loaned to them free of charge and a local farmer furnished the water needed for the visitors as well as their livestock.

This is one of the longest lived wagon train events in the United States.  This was its 60th anniversary!


While the participants in these photos have trucked their horses, mules and wagons across the mountains to Tellico Plains, many others apparently were on the way via the ‘old fashioned’ method…by wagon across the mountains. 
  
This event was listed as the Second Annual Tellico Plains Tennessee Labor Day Ride.  The trek wasn’t for sissies.  It began in North Carolina on August 31st.  At the end of the first day, the wagon train had covered 14 miles and spent the night at Charlie’s Mountain.  

On September 2nd, they covered another 13 miles…4 of it paved and 4 on gravel (with a 10 – 12% grade), stopping at Old Furnace.  The 3rd day was along another 13 mile route with 6 miles paved and 7 miles on gravel.  They stopped at Conesaga Falls.  On Labor Day, this group was scheduled to have a short ride into Tellico Plains for the parade at 10 AM.  


We included this photo because we liked the more traditional ‘look’ of this covered wagon…


…and I’m ending this post with another team of mules, one of which is giving Laurie the ‘eye’. 

We will put this event on our calendar for 2018!  Between the 4-legged attractions and the music, it is not to be missed when it comes around again.  To learn more about the Wagon Train as well as future events, you can go to the organization’s website at http://www.wncwagontrainnc.com/.

That’s about it for now!  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what we’ve been up to!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave and Laurie 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Beth Thomson’s Paintings - #2

Continuing with my homage to my mother’s paintings as well as her many multi-media arts and crafts creations, this posting is all about her watercolors, something that she seemed to really focus on in her latter years…




To begin, these first 3 paintings were among her earliest watercolors...probably from the late 1940s or early 1950s.  



I have no idea when she created these 2 very impressionistic watercolors...both featuring flowers and/or other vegetation.  




As with her oil paintings, Beth loved to paint flowers. These style of impressionistic watercolors are among her grandson David's favorites... 



You are right!  This is not a painting... Mom loved photography too and I have hundreds of her old photos.  They frequently provided a basis for future paintings...



This is a perfect example of the symbiotic relationship between her photos and her art...


This whimsical painting includes some colorful little mushrooms or toadstools...


...and then there are the paintings that are beyond my limited artistic imagination!  







This series of watercolors are all about the forests, foliage and greenery.  Our son and his family in Omaha have many of his grandmother's paintings on display throughout their home.  




These little paintings featuring people, including a mother and her daughters, are a departure for her usual watercolor subjects, but Laurie and I love them.  Laurie especially relates to the hair styles in the first one as she worked for many years as a hairdresser...



...yet another photo leading to a painting.


Mom's impression of pebbles in a stream...



 These paintings continue with her usual theme or subject...nature interpreted in art.  

Sorry for the glare in so many of these paintings. The glass protects them but it also makes them harder to photograph.  



This certainly isn't a great photo but it is one of the more meaningful paintings from my perspective.  Mom painted this for me because it was one of my favorite views near her home in the countryside near Concord Michigan.  This valley is in the upper reaches of the Grand River...




I do believe that I see caterpillars in this second painting...a whimsical touch.



Love the fall leafs and with the rocks...





These last 3 paintings were among the last ones that she did.  The style is much different, because as was her tendency, her desire to try something different, albeit a painting style or different artistic medium meant that she was always in a learning mode.

There will be two more posts about my mom's art work.  The next one will focus on multi-media efforts including weaving, pottery and 'crafty' creations.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them...

Thanks for stopping by for a 'gallery tour'!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave