Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall Scenery in East Tennessee

I thought that we’d share a few of Laurie’s photos of our East Tennessee Fall scenery.  Enjoy!  

The woods next to our house…

Looking up to the heavens…

Along the loop road in Cades Cove, Smokey Mountain National Park.

Another view from Cades Cove…

Another ‘road’ photo in Cade's Cove… We liked the soft light.

Cades Cove…an overview just prior to peak Fall colors.

The mountains, the colors, a split rail fence and an old homestead…Cades Cove.

Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a scenic photo tour!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Sunday, October 30, 2011

2011 Road Trip – Railroad Depots (#4) NY

As we moved north through the center of New York State, we kept our eyes open for current and former railroad depots… My collection of depot photos is growing with each trip that we take.

Nice conversion!  This is the former Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railway Depot in Red Creek New York.  It’s now a private residence in this town of just over 500 people.  Red Creek was first settled in 1811 but it was originally named Jacksonville.  The name was changed after the chemicals used by a tannery washed into the creek, coloring it red.

Here’s a postcard photo of the Red Creek Depot when it was still in use with the RW&O railroad.  Later on, the New York Central Railroad took over the RW&O, building a new depot.  By 1971, the town was serviced by 3 trains per day in each direction…

This is the original Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Depot in Oswego New York.  It is the oldest surviving DL&W Depot, having been built in 1848.  It may look a little rough around the edges but I found another photo on line that showed the roof partially caved in…

Here’s another view of the DL&W Depot.  The windows are boarded up but this 163 year old building has at least been preserved for now.  The Oswego area on Lake Ontario was first settled in the early 1700’s.  A series of forts were established, the town developed and in 1829, the Oswego Canal was opened.  It was an extension of the Erie Canal. 

This was the New York Central Railroad’s Depot in Oswego.  It’s now been converted to ‘Paul’s Big M Food Depot’.  The Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg railroad first came to Oswego in 1843.  The original depot was located in a big 4-story downtown hotel.  The railroad had to build a bridge over the river and a tunnel under the courthouse in order to connect with the Lake Ontario Shore Railroad…which the RWO bought out.  Construction of the bridge and tunnel was completed in 1876, just before the market crash of 1877.

Taken from another postcard, this is the New York Central Depot as it appeared shortly after it was completed.  Oswego was also the home of major railroad repair and maintenance shops.  By 1885, 5 trains in each direction stopped in town.

For more information about Oswego, go to,_New_York.  For additional information about the Rome, Waterstown and Ogdensburg Railroad, go to 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, October 28, 2011

Willie’s in Seymour Tennessee (Again!)

Once again, we’ve introduced another couple to Willie’s Italian Restaurant in Seymour Tennessee… That in itself isn’t remarkable.  However, all of the family and friends that we’ve taken to this casual restaurant felt that the food was very good or better…and that it was a great value!  That is a remarkable record…

Our dining experience with our latest couple, Paula and Gary, offered the group a chance to try a couple of entrees that we hadn’t tried before.

Gary had the Shrimp Alfredo over fettuccini noodles. ($8.95) All entrees come with garlic bread knots and a dinner salad.  It’s a heck of a value!

My choice was the Shrimp Scampi…penne pasta in a lemon-butter-garlic sauce…with count them…10 shrimp! ($8.95) The noodles are never overcooked at Willie’s nor are the shrimp…

Paula and Laurie went with the tried and true Lobster Ravioli! ($10.95) In fact, Laurie always orders the Lobster Ravioli.  If Willie’s was closer to our house and we dined there more frequently, she ‘might’ try something different…but maybe not.

FYI… This is Willie.  He’s from Queens in New York City.  He just looks like he should know something about Italian food!

Just a side note… One restaurant on our list of places to try was Danny’s, just up the street from Willie’s in Seymour.  We’d been told that Danny’s also served good Italian food…and that his Pizzas especially stood out in comparison to the competition. (Willie’s pizzas are OK, but not what we’re looking for…) However, on this trip we noticed that Danny’s in Seymour had gone out of business.  Too bad…but the good news is that Danny is the owner of and head chef for Classico Italian Pizza and Pasta in Loudon Tennessee.  We’re still looking for great pizza in East Tennessee…so we’ll be dining at Classico in the near future!

Willie’s Restaurant is located at 11612 Chapman Highway in Seymour Tennessee. Phone: 865-773-0170. For more on Willie’s and to view the menu, go to:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Antique Wooden Boats Galore!!

Sometimes it’s the museums located in the small towns along the comparative back roads of the U.S.A. that really impress us.

This is an aerial photo, (borrowed), of scenic Clayton New York.  In the foreground it’s easy to spot the 4.5 acre campus of the Antique Boat Museum.  The four largest buildings as well as a couple of the smaller buildings are filled with antique wooden boats. 

FYI, Clayton is located near the western end of the St. Lawrence River at Lake Ontario where the river begins its journey east to the Atlantic Ocean.

Now, this beauty is moored at the museum but it’s not an antique…it’s actually a reproduction with a molded fiberglass body.  This boat is based on a 1909 design and these new versions are being built by The Everett Boat Works Company in Canton New York.  The deck and interior are varnished solid mahogany and Spanish cedar, upholstery is of soft leather and the engine is a Marine Power 4-cylinder developing about 140 hp.  Top speed is about 30 mph.

This is a photo of the interior of the Launch building at the Antique Boat Museum.  It is packed with antique wooden works of art…wooden launches and small yachts.  There is also a collection of inboard and outboard motors for those that are a bit more mechanical than I am.  However, I was disappointed to discover that despite the fact that I noted a couple of early Sears outboard motors…I couldn’t find an old Montgomery Ward outboard!

This classic is a 1935 16’ Gar Wood Speedboat (The ‘Speedster’ model) Her name is 'Miss Behave'.  Only 6 of these boats survive.  Although back in the day, this model was a big draw for boat showrooms, customers usually ended up buying similar more family friendly launches.  A two-seater just didn’t work for most families!

This is a 1931 Dodge Split Cockpit Runabout.  Her name is 'Sweetie'.  She’s 21’ 6” long with a 125 hp Lycoming engine.  Her interior was finished with pleated French blue leather upholstery.  But the big attraction was the introduction of the new ‘V’ shaped windscreen.  Prior to this, windshields had been straight across rectangles.

This is another view inside the Launch Building.  I can just see Laurie and myself on that big beautiful motor yacht…wealthy of course…cruising through the Thousand Islands… Hey, everyone has to dream a little bit!

One large building on the museum campus is dedicated to the maintenance and restoration of donated craft or museum displays.  At the time of our visit, the museum’s craftsmen had stripped down and were doing a total restoration of a 40’ 1915 launch.  The ‘Wild Goose’ was built by the Hutchinson Boat Works and it served the Dodge family at their ‘cottage’ on one of the Thousand Island.

This building is filled with fabulous looking old canoes.  This is a 12’ ca. 1890 birch bark canoe that was built for a local resident by ‘the canoe builder’ for the Onondaga Indian Tribe.  Another nearby building is filled with a large assortment of antique wooden sailboats.

Then there is this extensive collection of high speed racing boats.  Again, an entire building is dedicated to this grouping of spectacular and historic boats.  Miss Canada III G-8, (above), made her first race in 1938…and won the Silver Cup in 1948.  As sleek as she is, it’s hard to believe that she is about 73 years old!

This is the beautiful antique reproduction cruiser that Laurie and I signed up to take a ride in.  It was a one hour cruise up and down the St. Lawrence River (Cost = $25 each)

If you would like to buy one of these ‘new’ antiques, they are being built by a boat manufacturing company on Lake George New York.  The starting price is $200,000!

Yes…here we are…cruising the St. Lawrence River in style and comfort!  The ride was sooo smooth and the sights were spectacular. 

The Antique Boat Museum was founded in the 1960’s and it is now home to well over 250 watercraft…the largest collection of antique and classic boats in North America.  In August of each year, the museum is also the home of the nation’s largest antique boat show and auction.
The museum is now closed for the Season and it will reopen on May 11, 2012.  It is located at 250 Mary Street in Clayton New York.  Phone: 315-686-4104.  Website: 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Monday, October 24, 2011

Aubrey’s – An East Tennessee Restaurant

After a recent golf outing, Laurie and I, along with our friends Karen and Charlie, debated where we wanted to go for a casual dinner.  We decided that we’d go to a local restaurant in Lenoir City Tennessee.

We’ve been to Aubrey’s several times in the last couple of years.  The food that this local restaurant chain serves is plentiful, reasonably priced and it’s easy on the palate!

This is probably the most attractive bar in Loudon County Tennessee.  It has a nice feel to it…big with lots of wood and a warm décor.  Of course, this isn’t a big focus for those of us who are really into good food…

This Aubrey’s restaurant is really very large… This photo shows perhaps a third of the seating and there are tables in the bar area as well. 

Charlie ordered the Seafood Alfredo… It is includes shrimp and surmi crabmeat, tossed with sugar snap peas, red onions, with bowtie pasta in a classic Alfredo sauce.  The crab, sugar snap peas and bits of red onion provide a nice color blend for this entrée.  Charlie gave it a thumbs up!

Laurie’s entrée was Aubrey’s aptly named Haystack.  The Haystack includes grilled chicken and sautéed mushrooms, tossed with linguine in a classic parmesan and mushroom cream sauce.  Laurie has ordered this dish before and its one of her favorites! 

This was the side dish that came with my entrée… These thick cut potato chips are big time favorites at Aubrey’s!  Sometimes I’ll even sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on them. 

I ordered this ‘heart unhealthy’ but very flavorful Buttermilk Chicken Breast.  It’s a whole double chicken breast, marinated in buttermilk, double-battered, deep-fried and then smothered with homemade white gravy.  I just sprinkle this platter of flavor with a bit of Tabasco and I’m ready to attack this major food challenge!

Karen ordered something that we’d previously taken a photo of…and now I can’t remember what it was!   However, Laurie and I can attest to the fact that all of us really enjoyed this après golf dinner… We would recommend Aubrey’s to anyone in the area or to any travelers passing by Lenoir City on I-75.  It’s not gourmet dining but it’s very good comfort food and the prices are right!
Aubrey’s has 7 locations in East Tennessee…3 in Knoxville with others in Farragut, Maryville, Cleveland and Lenoir City.  The Lenoir City restaurant is about ½ mile east of I-75 via US Highway 321.  It’s on a hill behind the local Cracker Barrel.  The address is 401 Town Creek Road East.  Phone: 865-986-3113.  Website: 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bed and Breakfast...

During our end of summer road trip, we stopped in Skaneateles New York for one night… It is a beautiful area with a great little downtown area that we didn’t have a chance to really explore. 

For our stay in this upscale small town, we decided to skip the big chain motels or hotels…and try something more local.

Finger Lakes Lodging is a quaint Adirondack ‘great camp’ style motel.   It was well maintained and charming on the outside.

That Adirondack ‘look’ is carried over to the rooms.  It was full of ‘stick’ style furniture and, as you can see, the bed was covered with a big wool Hudson Bay type blanket.  While not the greatest room ever…just a bit small…it was comfortable enough and it was clean.

However, the best part about Finger Lakes Lodging was the price.  The room came in at several dollars under $100 for the night, including taxes.  This motel is owned by the same group that owns and manages the upscale Mirbeau Inn and Spa that’s just down the block.  Finger Lakes Lodging is located at 834 West Genesee Street in Skaneateles New York.  Phone: 315-217-0222.  Website:
The next morning, when we were ready for breakfast, we decided to try the restaurant just across the street from our motel…

It’s a Restaurant and Bowling Center… This combination brings back memories of our favorite breakfast, (and sandwich), joint ever!  It was the Snack Shop and Bowling Alley in Des Plaines Illinois…now long gone.  But I digress…back to current history.

The restaurant was fairly busy, despite the fact that it was after the early morning 'rush'...we’re not exactly ‘break of dawn’ travelers.

Yes, the ‘north woods look’ once again popped up inside the Hilltop Restaurant.  It reminded us a little of restaurants in northern Wisconsin or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

This was my breakfast.  Lots of food!  How about buttered toast, 2 eggs over easy done right, 2 big sausage patties and some ‘chunked’ fried potatoes… I would prefer hash browns but chunky fried potatoes seemed to be the ‘in thing’ for breakfast in New York and Pennsylvania.  Still, this was a good breakfast!

Laurie loves waffles and she thought that this waffle was good…but her hang up is that she likes and appreciates it if the restaurant serves their waffles with whipped or soft butter so it’s easier to spread and it gets in all those nooks and crannies!

Service at the Hilltop Restaurant was very efficient and friendly.  The food was good and the price was right.  Stop by if you’re ever in the area. 
Hilltop Restaurant and Cedar House Bowling Center is located at 813 West Genesee Street in Skaneateles New York.  Phone: 315-685-0016  (No, neither one of us can pronounce the town’s name either!)
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Thursday, October 20, 2011

2011 Road Trip - Railroad Depots (#3) NY

Our search continues for old, abandoned and active railroad depots.  Of course, as I laid out the route for our late summer road trip, I also went on line and did a bit of research, locating probable depots along our route.  One benefit of this planning activity is that in the effort to locate the railroad depots, we end up exploring a lot of small towns as well.   

This is the former Urbana Township Railroad Depot which is located in the Village of Hammondsport New York.  The Village purchased it from the Livonia, Avon and Lakeville Railroad in 1995.  In 2004, it was dedicated as the new Village Office building.  Hammondsport is located at the south end of Keuka Lake, one of New York’s famous Finger Lakes.

This is another view of the former Urbana/Hammondsport Depot.  The original railroad into Hammondsport was the 9 miles long Bath and Hammondsport Railroad that began operations in 1875.  The Erie Railroad took over the line in 1908 and ran this line until 1936.  The line then was taken private one more time, with Hammondsport operations ceasing in the mid-1990’s.

This postcard shows the Hammondsport Depot at its operating peak.  On Sundays from 1889 to 1907, as many as 7 passenger trains per day brought families to the village to spend time cruising the lake on the many steamboats that used to operate on Keuka Lake.

Hammondsport demonstrated the positive reutilization of an old railroad depot…

Then we came across this old depot, located in Burdett New York.  It sits on private property at a lumberyard/saw mill operation.  It still has a decent roof and it isn’t exactly falling apart…but if it’s being used, it’s just for storage.

Here’s a photo of the same depot, with its original roof line, back in 1910.  Based on this picture, it’s apparent that this former Leigh Valley Railroad Depot is over 100 years old!  One can only hope that the village or some other benefactor will come forward and restore this old passenger depot.

Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Taste of Chinese Cuisine...

Laurie and I really enjoy Asian cuisine.   We are always searching for quality Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese or Thai restaurants.  While we enjoy dining at restaurants like P. F. Chang’s, it just isn’t the same as having a ‘real’ ethnic meal in a locally operated venue.  We've found good Vietnamese and Thai food but we hadn't found a good Chinese restaurant and we just haven't gotten around to trying one of the several Japanese restaurants in the Knoxville area.

This is China Pearl… It’s actually the first locally operated Chinese sit down/full service restaurant that we’ve found in East Tennessee that looked promising. (Any other suggestions would be welcome!)

China Pearl was founded by Sam Yap in 1991.  From what I learned from a neighbor, the restaurant was originally located near its present address and the place was sort of run down...but the food had been pretty good.

The entry or foyer for China Pearl was tasteful and promising.  The entire restaurant had a nice clean contemporary Chinese style to it. 

We were at the restaurant during the mid-afternoon…but the lunch specials last until 4 PM.  We took advantage of the situation!  The specials came with the usual Wonton strips plus our choice of Egg Drop, Hot and Sour or Chicken Rice Soup.  We both ordered the Hot and Sour Soup.  The flavor of the soup as well as the spice/heat level was just right!

I went with my favorite, General Tso’s Chicken, accompanied with Broccoli, rice and an Egg Roll.  I used a bit of the Hot! mustard with the egg roll.  It was quite good.  I’d ordered extra spicy chicken and the chef didn’t disappoint me!  The top of my head started sweating…meaning he or she got it just right…

Laurie ordered the Beef Szechuan.  It also came with the egg roll and rice.  She really enjoyed her meal!  The heat was right and the flavors ‘popped’ for her…

Two lunch specials = two wins!!  Even better was the price… Including the Sweet and Sour Soup, my lunch cost $6.95…and Laurie’s cost $6.25!  Good food at a very good price…that’s hard to beat!
The menu at China Pearl is huge…and it includes Thai, Panang, Yellow and Green Curries, Stone Grill Dining and, for the more adventurous, a large selection of Traditional Dishes.  This latter grouping includes such items as Chinese Bacon and Taro, Ginger Duck, Beef Tripe with Black Beans and Stewed Pig Ears.
We will return with some of our friends and neighbors so we can sample the dinner menu.  This was a good experience, but the big test will be via our next outing!  I was pleased to note that perhaps the best restaurant reviewer in the area had also enjoyed his experience at China Pearl.  Check out his comments at:
China Pearl is located at 115 Brooklawn Street in Farragut Tennessee. (It’s right in front of the Kroger Marketplace) Phone: 865-966-6937.  Website:
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Finger Lakes New York Wine Country

Laurie loves to stop at wineries…and upper New York State, especially around the Finger Lakes, is just wall to wall with them!

The combination of the beautiful lakes and the adjacent hillsides create an ideal microclimate for the vineyards.  It’s hard to believe that when I was going to prep school at DeVeaux School in Niagara Falls, (late 50's, early 60's), about the only wines you heard about that came from New York, were sweet wines, such as Mogen David. 

Well, time changes everything!  Americana Vineyards and Winery was the first of three vineyards that we checked out during our trip… There was one in New York, one in Pennsylviana and one, much later, down in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.   The Americana Winery has been in business for over 20 years.  It’s located north of Ithaca on the west side of Cayuga Lake.

This is an exterior view of the Americana Winery’s retail operations.  In addition to the expansive tasting room, the winery offers brunch, lunch and light meals at The Crystal Lake Café, shown to the left of the photo.  But, our timing was bad and although the menu was very interesting, it was just too early in the day for lunch.

For some unknown reason, we missed taking photos of three key attractions who live at this winery… We petted and talked to Ruby and Max, big Chocolate Laborador Retrievers, as well as Theo, the resident ‘boss’ cat.

Wine tasting cost $3.00 per person, allowing customers to taste eight, (8), different wines.  Laurie did the tasting and the buying…but in the time since we’ve returned from our trip, the bottle of Cabernet Franc table wine, as shown above, is the only bottle of wine remaining from our visit to this winery!

Americana Vineyards and Winery offers up to nineteen (19) different wines.  They range from dry white wines to hardy reds as well as light and fruity varieties.  Single bottle prices range from $9.99 to $19.99. (For those into chocolate, the winery also has homemade fudge for sale)
Americana Vineyards is located at 4367 East Covert Road in Interlaken New York.  Winery Phone: 607-387-6801.  Café Phone: 607-387-6804.  With the exception of key holidays, they are open year around, 7 days a week.  For more information, go to 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave