Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cumberland Mountain State Park

Laurie, my better half, rightfully pointed out that in my 7/29/11 blog about the Cumberland Mountain State Park Restaurant, I’d mentioned the great view of Byrd Lake from the dining room… But, I’d failed to include a corresponding photo for my blog site visitors to check out!


Well, here is the photo that Laurie took from the dining room.  Byrd Lake is a beautiful little 50 acre lake/reservoir.  I didn’t include it with my blog on the park’s restaurant because I wanted to research and write a bit about the park and its history, especially as pertains to the Byrd Creek Dam.  

On August 30, 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corp, (CCC), began construction of what was then called the Cumberland Homesteads Park.  The 1,720 acre park was part of the Greater Cumberland Homestead Project, a ‘New Deal’ depression era initiative that was the brainchild of the Resettlement Administration. (For more on the Resettlement Administration, check it out at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resettlement_Administration.

What is now Cumberland Mountain State Park, was deeded to Tennessee by the US government in 1938.  From 1938 until 1940, the park supervisor was WWI war hero, Alvin C. York.  He left the position in 1940 to assist with the production of the movie, “Sergeant York”.  

There are many facilities and activities available in the park.  These include rental paddleboats, canoes, row boats and fishing boats with electric trolling motors, swimming, board games, hiking and other sports.  There are also 145 RV and campsites.  Fish in the lake include bass, catfish, bluegill and brim.  In addition, there also is a 18-hole par 72 Jack Nicklaus Golf Course named “The Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain’. (For Golf Course Information, call 877-611-2327)

This is one of the most beautiful bridges, (and dams), that we’ve seen in the USA.  It too was built by the CCC, using Crab Orchard sandstone.  It was the largest masonry project ever completed by the Civilian Conservation Corp...measuring 28' high and 319' long. 

In addition to this combined dam/bridge, the CCC built the boathouse and pier, the bathhouse, a caretaker’s house, several cabins, and a water system which included a pump house and a water tower.   There are 37 rustic cabin’s that can be rented…accommodating from 2 – 12 people.  In addition, there is also a small lodge that can be rented that will hold up to 16 guests.  Most of the old buildings are also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Cumberland Mountain State Park is located on the right off of US Hwy. 127, just 9 miles south of it’s intersection with I-40 (Get off at I-40’s exit 317)  For much more information on this park, just go to http://www.tn.gov/environment/parks/CumberlandMtn/.  
All photos can be enlarged just by clicking on them...
Have a nice day! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Good Eats in Cumberland Mountain State Park

When Laurie and I ventured over to Crossville Tennessee, to attend a presentation of the play “Oklahoma!” at the Cumberland County Playhouse, we were accompanied by our friends Mari and Ed.  In addition to being good traveling companions, they also had an excellent idea as to where we might have dinner after the play.


This is the front entrance of the Cumberland Mountain State Park Restaurant in Crossville.  It’s a big restaurant in a great setting…


Here’s a view of the restaurant from the side along the Byrd Lake.  There are some great views of the lake, the bridge and the dam from the dining room.


This is a look at one end of the dining room in the Cumberland Mountain State Park Restaurant.  This is a buffet operation, so if you don’t like all you can eat buffets, this isn’t the place for you.  Fortunately, especially with a nice selection of food available and with the price of only $9.95 plus tax, drink and gratuity, this buffet was the place for us!


Laurie took several photos of the buffet line but I opted to just show one segment in this blog.  Suffice it to say that there was a wide selection of items to chose from to include a nice salad bar with soup.


The buffet included a variety of salad fixings plus Cream of Vegetable with Cheese soup.  The soup got high marks from Mari and Ed.


The entrée section of the line included Southern Fried Chicken, Roast Beef and Gravy, Cold Baked Ham, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Cream Corn and Baked Apples.  In particular, the fried chicken and baked apples received solid praise.


Then there was desert,  Here we have Banana Pudding and Apple Cobbler.  Available desserts also included Cheesecake and some kind of Chocolate Cake or Brownie. 

This was a very nice buffet with well prepared food in very pleasant surroundings.  We will definitly return…hopefully trying the menu for another day of the week.  Note: The Cumberland Mountain State Park Restaurant is closed on Mondays.  However, the buffet menu varies during the 6 days per week that its open.
For example, Tuesday lunch, ($7.95), is grilled chicken with rice, country fried steak with gravy, white beans and cornbread, fried okra, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and potato soup.  Tuesday night ($13.95) is Seafood Night.  The buffet features baked and fried catfish, frog legs, fried shrimp, scallops, peel-n-eat shrimp, etc., and for $19.95, you can add all the crab legs you can eat!
Wednesday is Crazy Chicken Day, ($7.95 all day), Thursday lunch, ($7.95), focusses on chicken and dumplings and fried pork chops, Thursday dinner, ($9.95), has the same menu as does Sundays, Friday is Catfish Day, ($9.95), Saturday lunch, ($7.95), has baked chicken and rice plus meatloaf, and Saturday night is Rib Night, ($13.95), featuring smoked ribs and smoked pulled pork.

The Cumberland Mountain State Park is located 9 miles south of I-40, (Exit 317), on US Highway 127.  The park is on your right.  Once you enter the park, just follow the signs to the restaurant.  To view the menu for the restaurant, go to  http://www.tn.gov/environment/parks/CumberlandMtn/pdf/menu.pdf.  The restaurant’s phone number is 931-484-7186.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quality Live Theatre in East Tennessee!

Recently, we were part of a large group who drove over to Crossville so we could experience a live theatre production right here in East Tennessee.  We carpooled with our friends, Mari and Ed, and I followed my practice of driving the back roads instead of the boring expressways.  The scenery along TN Rte. 68 from Sweetwater Tennessee over to US 27 and Crossville was very soothing and, as most scenery is in this part of the country, it was beautiful as well.


This is the entrance to the Cumberland County Playhouse.  The playhouse was the ‘brainchild’ of Paul and Mary Crabtree.  It was built in 1965 after a terrific reception of a play produced at a local junior high school by Paul Crabtree entitled “The Perils of Pinocchio”.  The town of Crossville, along with Cumberland County, decided that they should introduce a bit of culture to the area, while simultaneously creating an venue that could create some jobs and build local tourism.  The successful project was quite an accomplishment for a town with a population at the time of only 5,000 and with a county wide population that only totaled 25,000.


This is a partial view of the lobby area.  The Cumberland Playhouse is one of the 10 largest rural professional theaters in the USA.  This non-profit organization has 2 indoor and 2 outdoor stages, an operating budget of almost $2 Million and it attracts about 145,000 visitors/theater goers per year!


This is the snack bar at one side of the lobby.  Roughly 85% of revenues for the Cumberland County Playhouse result from earned income rather than via donations although there has been some publicity lately that indicated that the theater is experiencing some financial difficulties due to our ongoing stagnant economy.  That problem was echoed in the front of our theatre program.  The Playhouse supports a resident professional company with a staff of 16 plus roughly 100 visiting professionals and a significant group of volunteers.  About 50% of the theater’s income is paid out to the artists.  It’s interesting to note that the theater has been managed and directed by the Crabtree family since it's founding...


This view is of the stage and part of the audience… It was a full house for our matinee performance!  There were several groups in attendance, including some young people from a local summer camp. 


The play that we saw was a classic…”Oklahoma!”.   It was very well staged and presented.  The talent evident in the cast’s singing, dancing and acting surpassed what we expected for a ‘country’ playhouse.  The couple shown on the cover of the program pictured above are Nathanial Hackmann and his new bride, Nicole Beque Hackmann… They starred as Curly and Laurey, the lead characters in the play.  Both are very talented!  Jason Ross, who played the itinerant and randy peddler, ‘Ali Hakim’, had a plum role and he gave a great, (and very funny!), performance.      

This was definitely a professional production… No amateur hour here at the Cumberland County Playhouse!   In addition to "Oklahoma!", there are 2 other shows that are ongoing at the theatre complex right now… They are the “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Chicago – The Musical”.  Laurie and I will definitely attend a performance of "Chicago"!

Upcoming shows include the long running bluegrass and gospel favorite, “Smoke on the Mountain”, (a ‘backwoods comedy’), “Dearly Departed” and “Dreamgirls”.  For more information, the Cumberland County Playhouse website can be found at www.ccplayhouse.com.  The theatre is located at 221 Tennessee Avenue, near the airport, in Crossville, Tennessee.  Phone: 931-484-5000.    

Monday, July 25, 2011

Michael's Restaurant - Etowah Tennessee


This was our second visit to Michael’s.  Our first experience at Michael’s resulted in feedback regarding the food ranging from “OK” to “Good”.  See my blog entitled “Dining Out in Etowah TN” dated 6/27/11.


The big difference this time is that we were accompanied by Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill.  This was a great opportunity to try four different entrees and to pick up some feedback from people who had no bias for or against the restaurant.  My thought process was skewed slightly when both Laurie and her sister ordered the same thing for dinner…


As we’d experienced on our last visit, the salad was fine, with the lettuce chilled, fresh ingredients and enough salad dressing to ensure that there is some with every bite.


OK…so Laurie and Bonnie both ordered the BLT Club sandwich and onion rings.  Both of them commented that there wasn’t enough bacon on the sandwich and Laurie thought that the bread, (Texas Toast), was just too thick.


Bill ordered the smoked prime rib.  First of all, he ordered it medium rare and when delivered to the table, it was definitely ‘rare’! (Still, that’s better than being overdone…) It took awhile to get the waitresses attention… After several attempts, she finally saw us waving and she came over to the table.  Bill told her what the problem was and, without saying a word, she picked up the entrée and headed off to the kitchen. 

When he got his prime rib back, it was actually medium rare as requested.  The problem was that, in Bill’s opinion, it just wasn’t a very tasty piece of prime rib.  In addition, his side was a bowl or pot of baked beans. (We failed to take a photo) He described the beans as tasting like they’d just come out of a can.

I ordered the Tilapia dinner…blackened Tilapia filet’s, with a baked potato as the side dish.  Tilapia is a mild fish but even blackened, it lacked much flavor.  The potato with butter, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese was just fine.  All in all, my meal was OK.

While we wouldn’t go out of the way to eat at Michael’s, it’s an OK local restaurant.  The food was passable…even with Bill’s complaints about the smoked prime rib.  Service improved following the return of his entrée from the kitchen.  It was like a light switch had been turned on for our waitress.  The restaurant is clean and it has a fairly warm and pleasant atmosphere.  Prices are fair and reasonable. 

Michael’s of Etowah is at 862 Highway 411 North in Etowah Tennessee.  There is no website.  For more information, call 423-263-2603. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dining on the Dock!

What’s not to like about dining lakeside?!  Even better, how about dining on the water in a nice cove on the lake?  Our friends, Larry, (a.k.a., “Big Dude”), and his wife Beverly, invited Laurie and I, plus Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill, over for " Dinner on the Dock" in their own little cove.   


Laurie took this picture of the dinner party…Bill, yours truly, Larry, Bev and Bonnie.  Another tough day on the lake!  After a few libations, it was time to eat!

Now for a look at the evening’s cuisine…and I do mean ‘cuisine’!

How about this luscious crab cake with homemade remoulade sauce on a bed of spinach and parmesan!  I don’t even care for crab and I never order crab cakes in restaurants…but this was a spectacular appetizer.  Everyone concurred and there is no doubt that I would have been happy having a few of these as my entrée!  The remoulade sauce was excellent and I didn’t even think about using my usual Tabasco…


Larry and Bev followed up that wonderful crab cake appetizer with this terrific flavor packed bean salad.  The produce was right from their garden and they accented the salad with bits of fresh mozzarella.  The presentation is beautiful, isn’t it? …eatable art! 


I love quality baked goods.  Bev told us that these were simple drop biscuits but I have to tell you that these warm cheddar and parsley creations were loaded with flavor…a truly delectable complement to a fine dinner!


Finally the entrée!  A ‘simple’ meal of garden fresh new potatoes, plus grill roasted shrimp with melted butter accompanied by slices of perfectly cooked maple glazed pork loin!  I had seconds of the pork loin and I grabbed one of Laurie’s potatoes.  What a great meal!  Our guests, Bonnie and Bill, were blown away by the hospitality and the food…

Not bad for a dockside meal…or a meal in a top notch restaurant either!  Larry and Bev’s dock is equipped with a refrigerator, running water, a grill and all of the necessary small appliances needed to produce such an elegant meal.  It was like eating at a resort…just a great experience with great people…a terrific evening all around!
To check out Larry’s Blog Site, go to http://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Easy Living in East Tennessee!

Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill drove over from St. Louis Missouri to pay us a visit and experience a little bit of the good life in East Tennessee.


So, on one beautiful but hot day, our friends Karen and Charlie (above) took us all out for a relaxing boat ride on Tellico Lake. 


First we cruised up river toward the Chilhowee Dam and the Smoky Mountains… 

Tellico Lake was formed in the valley and along the tributaries of the Little Tennessee River.  There are 357 miles of shoreline just at Tellico Lake.  Down the lake or river near the Tellico Dam, a wide channel was carved through to Ft. Loudoun Lake, in effect creating a ‘super lake’ stretching from the base of the Smokey Mountains down river to the Ft. Loudoun Dam and then back up the Tennessee River through Knoxville to the Holston and French Broad Rivers. 

This is a view of some of the homes and private docks along the shores of Tellico Lake… It’s a beautiful lake or reservoir with several developments along its shoreline.  There are also a number of public boat launch sites, several marinas, a couple of campgrounds and several parks scattered along the waterfront.  One nice feature of the lake is that its level only changes by 6 or 7 feet in the off season.  The water levels of many of the other lakes that were created by the Tennessee Valley Authority can vary greatly.


Here are Laurie and I along with Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband, Bill, at the front of Charlie and Karen’s boat…just ‘chilling’ and enjoying the ride.


Unfortunately, there is a sad side to the creation of Tellico Lake as well as the formation of the other lakes comprising the Tennessee Valley Authority.  Those that were living in the river valleys were forced to sell their property and move out.   Here and there a few ‘leftover’ silos protrude from lake, surviving testaments to the hard working farm families that were forced off the land.  Tellico Lake also has covered several Native American sites, including the historically significant Cherokee sites of Chota and Tanasi. 

If one were old enough…like me…you might recall the environmental legal war over the small Snail Darter fish… It was Tellico Dam and the TVA vs. the Snail Darter and the environmental lobbyists.  After a long and protracted battle, Congress passed a law exempting the Tellico Dam project from the Endangered Species Act.  But, before the closure of the gates of Tellico Dam, numerous Snail Darters were transplanted into the Hiawassee River in Tennessee.  The Snail Darter was reclassified from endangered to threatened on July 5, 1954.

So, as the sun began to sink in the west, Bill, Bonnie, Laurie, Charlie and Karen, all relaxed around Charlie and Karen’s pool at their house.  I tried to stay out of the photo…but my reflection is all too evident in the window on the right.

Thanks for dropping by to check out what’s been happening here in East Tennessee.  Life is good!

Click on any photo to enlarge it… 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Company and Another Great Meal!

It’s been a great summer so far!  We’ve had lots of guests  visiting and staying with us here at our home…our slice of paradise…right here in East Tennessee... 


Our latest visitors are from the St. Louis Missouri area.  This is Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband, Bill.  They’re spending a few days at 'Casa Myers' and, as with our other guests, Bonnie and Bill give us both an excuse and the impetus to get out and about.  So far, we’ve explored a flea market, gone to an auction, hit a couple of our favorite places to eat, including the Tic-Toc ice cream parlor in Loudon, plus we’ve examined the contents of a dozen or so antique shops...

Next up…time with friends on their boat, then a drive into the mountains, lunch at Tellico Grains in Tellico Plains and a dinner party with some other friends on their dock.  Then, to cap off the week, maybe a movie…and a visit to Willie’s Restaurant in Seymour Tennessee before they head home.

We certainly have been eating well!  This was dinner the other night… A rib eye steak from Benton’s in Madisonville Tennessee, fresh sweet corn and a heirloom tomato from a roadside stand, a slice of tomato from our own tomato plant out on the deck and some pickled asparagus…

If the steak wasn’t so big, this would have been almost a healthy meal!   With a little luck, we’ll actually wear some of this off while we’re out paddling around in the lake.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Neighborhood Dinner…

There are a little more than 7,000 residents in our town or village in East Tennessee.  It’s a very friendly place with lots of social, cultural and athletic activities available for those that are interested or who want to get involved.

One casual social activity is called ‘Dinner for Six’.  One couple hosts the event, providing the entrée and accompaniments…plus the adult beverages, tea, etc.  Another couple brings the salad and appetizer and the third couple brings the bread and dessert.  It was our turn to host the event.

Laurie set up the table for our dinner party…put on some easy listening music and we waited for our guests. 

So…given the fact that there are three couples at each dinner, everyone hosts once, brings the salad once and the dessert once.  There are 3 months to a Dinner for Six cycle.  The couples are ‘mixed and stirred’ by the program coordinator…meaning that the 2 couples that you dine with one month won’t be with you for either of the other 2 meals.  Each month the odds are that you’ll meet someone new…potentially broadening your social circle.

From left to right, our guests are Lew, Laurie, Big Daddy Dave, Mark and Sue.  I’ve always maintained that ‘real men’ don’t wear bibs (unless they’re eating BBQ shrimp or crawfish), but given that Mark set the example for me, I ‘dressed up’ for this photo.


Just to prove that my Laurie was actually there for dinner…and that she sat down to eat with the rest of us, ‘Lew’s Laurie’ took another picture including my better half in the photo.

This was one heck of a group!  Everyone enjoyed traveling, exploring the area, trying new restaurants, looking for new experiences and could address current political issues without losing it, etc.  It was a very convivial group and a great evening!

Now, I know that you could see the entrée on the table in the full views of the table and our guests, but I wanted to provide a close up just to show you how beautiful our Smoked/Slow Cooked/Barbequed Ribs were… Three racks of ribs, courtesy of our friend Larry, aka. Big Dude… Laurie warmed them up in the oven.  Then I slathered them with a coating of ‘Famous Dave’s Rich and Sassy BBQ Sauce’ and slapped them on the grill for a couple of minutes per side to give them a little crust or chew.  (For Big Dude’s Blogsite, go to http://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/)

My apologies to Lew, Laurie, Mark and Sue… I neglected to take photos of the salads…or anything else for that matter.  Every side dish or food item that our guests brought with them for dinner was very delicious and complemented the main course.  We also served Baked Beans infused with Benton’s prosciutto…  The prosciutto provides that extra something that makes the beans pop!

You may have noticed our favorite BBQ sauce on the table… I have a mixed case of ‘Gates BBQ Sauce’ shipped to us once each year from Kansas City…6 bottles of Hot BBQ sauce and 6 of the Original.  Note: The Hot is Hot and it’s my personal favorite.  Check it out at www.gatesbbq.com.  I also enjoy ‘Famous Dave’s Devil’s Spit BBQ Sauce’.  It’s hot but it’s sweeter than Gates Hot BBQ Sauce.  There are many Famous Dave’s Restaurants around the country, but you can buy the sauce and other products on line as well.  Check out Famous Dave’s at www.famousdaves.com.    

Thanks for visiting…

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brew Pub Cuisine in East Tennessee

So, there we were, cruising over to Willie’s Italian Restaurant in Seymour Tennessee…about an hour drive…with Big Dude, his wife Bev, and our friends from Arkansas, Patty and Dave. (To view Larry's, aka Big Dude's blog site, go to: http://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/ 


This adventure in dining started out at Big Dude’s home for a few libations and a bit of conversation.  We spent some quality time with Patty and Dave on Larry and Bev’s party dock on the lake.  Then we were off on the drive to Willie’s!  We, (especially Laurie and I), couldn’t wait for some great Italian food…

Well, you’d think that after all of these years I might learn to call ahead just to check and insure that our destination is open… Apparently, you can’t teach new tricks to an old dog!  Willie’s was closed for vacation… Yikes!!  Depression, slight panic, frustration…

(FYI…Despite this disapointment, we highly recommend Willie's.  Check out their menu and contact information at: http://dininginthesmokies.com/_seymour/willies_restaurant_seymour_tn.htm)

So, the search was on!  Where do we take our out of town guests on the spur of the moment without driving another hour out of our way?  Laurie saved the day by recalling a restaurant/brew pub that was directly in line with our route home…

This is the Smoky Mountain Brewery in Maryville Tennessee.  Laurie and I had eaten at another Smoky Mountain Brewery in Farragut Tennessee, so we knew that the food and atmosphere would meet our needs…even if it wasn’t casual Italian!


This is a photo of the interior of the restaurant that Laurie took from our table.  The ambience is friendly, warm and comfortable.   There are 4 Smoky Mountain Brewery locations. (Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN plus the Maryville and Farragut restaurants) These brewpubs are part of the Copper Cellar family of restaurants, a regional chain with a total of 17 locations.


Kayla, our server, was warm and friendly plus she was more than willing to go out of her way to chat with us and to explain the beer tasting options.  This is a photo of the bar from our table.


As usual, we started eating before we remembered to take our first photo of the food!  This is what was left of the chicken wings we ordered for an appetizer when we finally took a picture!  The feedback on the wings ranged from good to very good… ($8.00 for one pound of wings)


Four members of our group decided to go with the Brewmaster Pizza.  This is a four-cheese blend ‘white pie’ with roasted chicken, garlic, roasted tomatoes and spinach.  We ordered 2 16” pizzas, ($20.00 each), and we had plenty of leftovers to take home.  Although Laurie and I prefer our pizza crust a bit more crispy, this was a very nice pizza…perhaps the best that we’ve had to date in East Tennessee.  I tasted it at the restaurant and we had the leftovers for lunch a couple of days later…still delicious!

In addition to the Brewmaster, other specialty pizzas included: the Baker’s Choice, (pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, sausage and green peppers); White, (four-cheese blend, fresh basil, onion and garlic…no tomato sauce); Veggie, (mushrooms, olives, onions, green peppers, garlic and roasted tomatoes); Buffalo Chicken, (four-cheese blend ‘white’ pie with blue cheese crumbles, onions and roasted chicken tossed in their Sweet and Spicy Thunder Road Wing Sauce), and; the Margherita Pizza, (cheese pie with fresh mozarella and tomato slices topped with fresh basil)

I was so bummed out at not being able to eat at Willie’s that I rejected the idea of pizza!  I ordered the Roasted Chicken and Smoked Cheddar sandwich with peppercorn ranch dressing.  ($9.00) The sandwich came with my choice of a side and I chose the French fries.  The bun was toasted and the chicken really was roasted and not just ‘deli’ chicken.  It was a good to very good sandwich and I popped it up a bit with my usual liberal use of Tabasco.  The fries were a little limp for my taste but they had a nice flavor. 

Other sandwiches available include a Philly Cheesesteak, a Chicken Cheese Philly, a Grilled Sausage Submarine, the Chicken Reuben, a Meatball Grinder, the Big City Reuben and 7 different hamburgers.  In addition to the French fries, other sides include Honey-Mustard Potato Salad, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Fresh Broccoli with Beer Cheese and Mashed Red Potatoes.

Being a true carnivore, Dave ordered his own 8” made-to-order Pizza with pepperoni, sausage, olives and other tasty bits. 

Made-to-order Pizzas can be ‘constructed’ in 8”, 12” and 16” configurations with a wide variety of toppings.  Prices are $6.00, $11.00 and $14.00 respectively for plain cheese pizzas.  Depending on the size of the pizza, additional toppings cost $1.00, $2.00 and $3.00 per topping. (Laurie and I usually order a large pizza with pepperoni and Italian sausage… That would have cost $20.00.  That seems to be a couple of dollars higher than comparable prices at other restaurants)

The menu at Smoky Mountain Brewery also includes 10 different appetizers plus the wings, Calzone, 3 pasta dishes, Ribs, Steaks, and Brew-B-Que Chicken.  In addition there are 5 vegetarian dishes available.  There are a total of 8 Smoky Mountain Brewery microbrewed beers plus seasonal selections available.  Larry, aka Big Dude, tried a flight of samplers and he said that he enjoyed them all.

Smoky Mountain Brewery’s ‘sister’ restaurants include: Copper Cellar, 2 locations; Calhoun’s, 9 locations; plus Chesapeake’s and Cherokee Grill and Steakhouse, 1 location each.  For more information on these restaurants, go to   http://www.coppercellar.com/index.php.  The Maryville Tennessee Smoky Mountain Brewery is located at 743 Watkins Road.  Phone: 865-238-1900.  Website: www.smoky-mtn-brewery.com.

Monday, July 11, 2011

She’s A Winner!!

Last summer, Laurie, my wife and chief blog site photographer, took the following photograph.  It’s a view from the top of a hill in one of the residential neighborhoods in Tellico Village.  With crepe myrtle trees framing the scene, you can see the Smoky Mountains in the distance with Tellico Lake in the mid-distance.  To us, it seemed to be a very 'summer like' and calming photo…


So, this spring Laurie noticed that there was a photo contest being held by a local newspaper, The Connection, through its parent company, Loudon County Publishers, Inc.  Loudon County Publishers, Inc. also publishes the Tellico Village Directory and the Loudon News Herald, as well as other local newspapers. 

The photo contest called for the best summer photo of the Tellico Lake community, one that visually demonstrated what life is like here in the summer.  The winning photo was to be used on the front cover of the 2011 summer edition of the Tellico Village Phone Directory.  

As you can see above, my better half (the family, vacation and blog site photographer), scored on this one!  She won the contest, had her photo published and she was featured in an article on pg. 3 of the June 29th 2011 issue of ‘The Connection’.

I think that she’ll probably try to double up and shoot for the cover of the Winter Directory as well!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dinner Construction Project!

Well...the other night, we just didn’t feel like putting together a normal dinner for two… We each went our own way and pulled together whatever we could find in the refrigerator and/or in the pantry.  Well, I'm not a gourmet chef by a long shot...more of just a full-time diner.  I’d noticed a leftover cheeseburger patty, a hoagie bun and I knew that we had a can of Hormel Hot Chili in the Pantry. 

When I mentioned what I was thinking about for my dinner, Laurie suggested that I add a couple of fried eggs to the plate…and then I was off and running.  I knew what my final construction was going to look like!

These were my basic starting ingredients… To these, I added pepper, a quantity of onion powder and some coarse garlic bits.  I chopped up the cheeseburger and heated it up with the hot chili.  When that was heated up…and a little crusty in the bottom of the pan…I fried the eggs and then scattered the shredded cheese over the top of my monumental dinner.


This is the finished product!  I added the peperoncini’s to pop it up a bit...and to provide a little vegetable content with my dinner.  After Laurie took this photo, I sprinkled Tabasco over the entire structure.

It wasn’t quite as good as my favorite breakfast ever… While attending Michigan State University, I used to eat at a place called Uncle John’s Pancake House.  They served a similar construction…only they used buttered Texas toast and a freshly fried hamburger…whole and right off the grill.  Still, I had a tasty dinner and I wasn’t hungry again until the afternoon of the next day.

This breakfast/dinner construction project is dedicated to Big Dude at http://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/.   Big Dude, also known as Larry, is the master of the creative breakfast.  He puts together leftovers and other ingredients that he has ‘just laying around’ in a fashion that defies my limited imagination…and he does this in the morning…when I’m barely functioning… Here’s to you Larry…!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Airliners & Airlines I've Known...

I started flying on commercial airlines in 1958…mostly back and forth from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to Buffalo, New York.   I attended DeVeaux School in Niagara Falls, a Episcopalian college preparatory school for boys.  It was located adjacent to the State Park by the Niagara River’s Whirlpool.  (The school is long gone…too bad, as I have some great memories of the 4 years I attended classes there)

I must admit that I loved flying in those days…  Each trip was an adventure and the ‘stewardesses’ were very appealing, especially to a young male between the ages of 15 – 18!  Then there were the planes!   Unlike today’s aircraft, they truly differed in style and character.  Here are 4 different aircraft I flew on and 3 airlines that no longer exist, that I was able to experience in my early years of flying…

This is the American Airlines version of the Lockheed Electra.  It seated between 66 and 80 passengers, depending on the configuration… Unfortunately, it acquired a rather negative nickname…the ‘flying cylinder of death’. (Early on, not long after the plane debuted, they experienced 3 separate fatal crashes in a 14 month period from 1959 to 1960)

For its day, this was a very nifty looking airplane.  Lockheed built the Electra as its successor to the Constellation, which certainly was one of the most aesthetically pleasing airplanes ever built.  However, given its negative beginnings, the Electra never really caught on with the airlines or the public.  Only 170 L-188 Electra Passenger aircraft were ever built.  As of this year, only 9 are left in service…with Buffalo Airways in Canada flying 2 of them. (Seen on the National Geographic Channel’s TV show, ‘Ice Pilots’)

Note: It’s quite interesting to note that the US Navy bought 734 P-3 Orions, the military version of the L-188…and some of them are still in service!

This picture from my collection of old postcards, pretty much tells its own story!  I flew on Mohawk Airlines…in a Convair Metropolitan 440’s that looked just like this one.  Mohawk was founded in 1945 and it served the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S.A., primarily focused on New York and Pennsylvania.  In 1958, it became the first US airline to hire an African-American woman as a flight attendant.  Mohawk was acquired by Allegheny Airlines in 1972.

The term ‘Convair’ is an amalgamation of the Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Company…in its day a well known and respected manufacturer.  The Convair 440 was an evolutionary development that started with the Convair 240.   American Airlines had requested that Consolidated-Vultee design a new aircraft to replace American’s aging fleet of Douglas DC-3’s.  The 440 was the final piston-powered upgrade of the Convair 240.  It carried 44 – 52 passengers.  In total, 1,181 Convair 240, 340, 440 (and other lesser variations) were built.  They’re still in use in many countries around the world.

This was my favorite airplane back in the day…It’s a Vickers Armstrongs Viscount…the first passenger turboprop aircraft ever developed.  It had 4 quiet engines, (compared to the US piston-driven aircraft), and it carried 48 to 53 passenger.  It was first introduced in 1950…and Capital Airlines was the only US Airline that purchased the plane.  Capital bought 40 Vickers Viscounts 745D’s.  A total of 445 of the Viscounts were built… There are no more than 4 Viscounts left…and only 2 may be flyable.

Note: The Vickers Viscount's very best feature was its windows!  They measured an incredible 19” wide by 26” tall… Compare that to the little portholes we have to look out of today!

Capital Airlines began life as Clifford Ball Airlines…with its first scheduled passenger service in 1928.  In 1936, Ball merged with Central Airlines and then in 1948, it became Capital Airlines.  At one point, Capital Airlines was the 5th largest domestic carrier in the US.  The airline served the Eastern US until it merged with United Airlines in 1961.  

And yes…I did fly on one of these great airplanes!  This is a Douglas DC-3 and I actually flew on one with Lake Central Airlines from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to Erie Pennsylvania and then on to Buffalo New York.  It was like a flying history lesson…even in 1959!

The DC-3 is the most successful airliner and all around airplane that has ever been built.  They would hold 32 passengers and cruise at 150 mph.  Top speed was 237 mph and they have a service ceiling of 24,000 ft.  They’re still popular and in use in many 3rd world countries.  One reason is that they can land on grass or dirt runways.  A total of 16,079 DC-3’s were built and the first one went into service for American Airlines in 1936.  December of 2010 marked the 75th anniversary of the first flight of a DC-3.   My favorite description of the DC-3 is that its ‘a collection of parts flying in loose formation”. 
Note: Buffalo Airways, as featured on the National Geographic TV Channel's show, 'Ice Pilot', also flies DC-3's on their routes. 

Lake Central Airlines operated from 1950 to 1968.  It started out 3 years earlier in Indianapolis Indiana as Roscoe Turner Airlines.  After being purchased and renamed, it expanded into a 6 state area…gained popularity for it’s prompt and on-time service and slowly expanded through out the mid-west.  It became famous for it’s 4 minute turn arounds.  They would leave one engine running on the DC-3’s and quickly unload and reload the passengers.  In 1961, Lake Central was flying 23 DC-3’s and 5 Convair 340’s.  Of interest is the fact that this airline was the first employee owned airline in the US.  Lake Central flew their last DC-3 flight in 1967 and the airline flew into oblivion in 1968 when it merged with Allegheny Airlines.

Thanks to http://www.airliners.net/Airliners.net and Bob Gabbard for the non-commercial use of the Lake Central Airlines D.C.-3 photo.  For the airline/airplane enthusiast, this is a terrific website …check it out!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them… Have a great day!