Friday, November 28, 2014

An Unexpected Dinner…

Sometimes a meal on the road can truly be a gamble.  It is even more likely when you’re in a small town with limited offerings available.  

Years ago while visiting Valentine Nebraska, I’d asked our host at the local motel where she’d recommend we go for dinner…and she sent us to the local VFW Hall.  We joined for the night, ($1.00 each), and we enjoyed a good old fashioned potluck!

On this occasion we were staying at the Cambridge Inn in Cambridge Nebraska.  The town of Cambridge has a population of only around 1,000 people so we were a bit dubious about our dining chances...

The Cambridge Inn itself provided very nice accommodations as well as a fine breakfast in the morning.  I wrote about this top quality bed and breakfast operation in an earlier posting.  You can check it out at  Website:

Our host at the Cambridge Inn didn’t hesitate when it came to a restaurant recommendation for dinner… She sent us to the Town Talk Restaurant in downtown Cambridge.  The restaurant was only a couple of blocks from the Inn.  

The interior of the Town Talk Restaurant was pretty simple and straightforward… It felt like a big dining room in a farmhouse.  There was a bar and despite the fact that it was a weekday, the bar and the restaurant were both busy.  Needless to say, almost everyone in the restaurant knew each other.  There was lots of table hopping and local chatter…

We ordered a drink and then started studying the menu.  It was much more expansive then we’d expected…

The seafood section of the menu included such items as Walleye, Catfish, Trout, Shrimp, Salmon, Mahi Mahi, Tilapia and Orange Roughy.  Wow!  That kind of variety was completely unexpected!  Prices of the seafood entrees ranged from $13.95 - $16.95.  

Laurie ordered the Walleye dinner. ($16.95)  This huge hand-breaded filet was deep fried to a golden brown.  It can also be charbroiled…but this style was recommended.  Laurie’s meal was accompanied by a side salad, rolls and rice pilaf.  Laurie’s dinner was excellent.  The walleye was terrific!  I was glad that it was huge; otherwise I wouldn’t of even gotten a bite of it.

Since Laurie had chosen the seafood menu, I focused on the beef, chicken entrees for my dinner.  As you can see, I opted for the Pork Chops, two 6 oz. chops breaded and fried. ($12.95) In addition to my roll and house salad, my entrée came with applesauce and my choice of potato…in this case, hash browns.  The pork chops were moist and flavorful and the hashbrowns were perfectly cooked!  For our meals, the Town Talk Restaurant scored 2 for 2!!

The beef portion of the menu offers a 14 oz. ribeye for $17.95 and a 20 oz. ribeye for only $22.95, definitely not big city prices!  Liver and Onions ($11.95) and Steak au Poivre ($19.95) were also featured.  I almost ordered the latter item…

We would highly recommend the food at the Town Talk Restaurant.  The food was very good/excellent plus the service was good and the dining atmosphere was friendly indeed.  Town Talk Restaurant, Banquet and Bar is located at 606 Patterson in Cambridge Nebraska.  Phone: 308-695-6100.  Check out the menu at   For a review of this restaurant in Nebraska Rural Living, plus more photos, just go to

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

History along Nebraska’s Highways – Part VI

Every small town and rural county has its story…its history.  Some of these stories are more interesting than others, but they are all part of America’s fabric.  These bits of history are really part of what has been woven together to take us all where we are today…

Continuing with our early September trip through south central Nebraska… We drove south from North Platte on US 83 for about 66 miles until we came to the town of McCook Nebraska.

Note: To view a map of the USA showing the route of US 83 from the Canadian border to our border with Mexico, you can go to

The first property we found in McCook Nebraska that was listed in the National Register of Historic Places was the Senator George W. Norris House.  Senator Norris served in the House of Representatives from 1903 – 1913 and then in the US Senate from 1913 – 1943.  He was a prime mover in the establishment of Nebraska’s unique unicameral legislature as well as such landmark legislation as the Rural Electrification Act and the Tennessee Valley Authority.  (The first TVA dam built, the Norris Dam, is on the Clinch River, within an easy drive from our home)

The home was originally owned by a superintendent of the Burlington Northern Railroad.  I couldn’t find anything that pinpointed when it was built but George Norris and his wife purchased this 2-story 8 room house in 1899.  The home now operates as a branch museum of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

To learn more about this Republican, then ‘progressive’ Independent politician/Senator who was born to a large and poor family, just go to

This is the H.P. Sutton House, also in McCook Nebraska.  This Prairie style home was built for the Sutton family and it was completed in 1908.  Of significance is the fact that it was designed in 1905 – 1907 by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.  Mr. Sutton owned a jewelry store in town and he was very active in community affairs.  This house cost $10,000 to build…double what the Sutton’s wanted to spend.  $10,000 in 1908 is the equivalent of $261,000 today.  At that price, this home would be a bargain!

This mission-Spanish revival structure is the former McCook YMCA.  It has served as an important community cultural center from the time it was built in 1925.  For about a 10-year period, this building was also the home of the McCook Junior College.  It was remodeled in 1999 to provide 12 low-income apartments and a sign out front provides its current name…”Landmark Apartments”.  

To view a great photo that shows much more of this building, you can go to,_Nebraska)_from_NE_2.JPG.

This eye-catching building is the former McCook Carnegie Library.  The library, built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, was completed in 1908.  When the town’s library in the county courthouse had expanded beyond that building’s storage capacity, it was decided that a new library should be constructed.  Property was donated by a local firm and Andrew Carnegie donated $11,000 for the building’s construction.

McCook eventually built a new library and this building now serves as the home of the Museum of the High Plains.  There are displays of pioneer artifacts from the 1870s, the history of the American railroad, the Daughters of the American Revolution and more.  Political exhibits cover Senator George W. Norris and the three former governors from McCook:  Frank B. Morrison, Ralph G. Brooks and U.S. Senator E. Benjamin Nelson.  A collection of photographs provides an interesting glance into Nebraska History.  The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 1 PM – 5 PM.  Phone: 308-345-3661.

The Keystone Hotel was constructed in 1922.  The hotel represents the organized efforts of a citizen group, the “Can-Do Club”, to pursue the organization and completion of a new hotel to expand the commercial attraction of downtown McCook.  It was designed in the Renaissance Revival style and it retains a high degree of structural integrity.  The hotel was in operation until 1970. 

Today a portion of the building serves as an event center.  That activity utilizes the conference room, a modern training room with advanced electronic systems, and dining hall, mezzanine or the grand lobby.  Two other floors are being leased out as office space.  The top 2 floors have been have been cleared of existing walls and provisions for utilities have been provided.  The space could be used for technology, programming, call center development, or apartment/condominium development.  There is 5,600 available square feet on each floor. 

This solid looking classic revival structure is the Red Willow County Courthouse.  McCook is the Red Willow County seat.  McCook became the second county seat in 1896.  McCook residents built a courthouse on the present site that served the county until 1927.  In 1926 the county passed a bond issue to finance this new courthouse.  Construction began the same year and the Classical Revival-style building was completed in 1927.  From what I’ve read, the interior of this structure is quite classy…with art glass windows, top quality woodwork, marble stairs and fancy plaster work…

McCook has a population of about 7,700… McCook was planned out in 1882 when the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad was extended to that point.  The city was named after the Union Army’s Brigadier General, Alexander McDowell McCook, of the “Fighting Ohio McCooks”, who were known as military leaders and Indian fighters.  General McCook served the Union for 43 years, initially against Indian uprisings in the west and later against the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Another day…another county seat!  This is the Phelps County Courthouse in Holdrege Nebraska.  Holdrege was designated as the county seat in 1883.  Construction on this, the third county courthouse, began in 1910 and by 1911 the Beaux Arts-style “county citadel” structure was completed.  Buildings like this were designed to convey simplicity, strength and prosperity.  Holdrege is a city of about 5,500 residents.  It was established in 1883 when the railroad was extended to that point.  The town was named for George W. Holdrege, a railroad official.
Phelps County was originally named for a Mississippi River steamboat captain, Captain William Phelps. Thousands crossed the North end of the county on the "Oregon Trail."  The site of the “Plum Creek Massacre” is marked with graves in the northwest part of the county.  On Aug. 8, 1864, more than 100 Indians attacked a wagon train carrying freight from Sidney, Iowa, to Denver. All 11 men from the wagon train were killed in the attack and 1 woman and a boy were taken captive.  This attack was part of the Cheyenne War of 1864.  It would culminate in the infamous Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado on November 29, 1864.  

To learn more about the Cheyenne War of 1864 in Nebraska, go to the middle of this page:

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

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, November 24, 2014

Chaos and Fun at Wild Wing Café!

While visiting us here in East Tennessee, Laurie’s Cousin Carla and her friend Diane insisted on taking us out for dinner.  After some discussion, we agreed on Wild Wings Café in Farragut as our dining destination.

This is an early fall photo of the Farragut branch of the Wild Wings Café chain of restaurants that I borrowed from the Internet.  The company operates in several southeastern states.  Wild Wings Cafés are not to be confused with the Buffalo Wild Wings chain…which Laurie and I just don’t care for.

When we arrived, it was pretty early in the evening but we could see that something big was going to happen as there were extra tables and chairs filling this restaurant’s huge dining and entertainment area.

We began with drinks and a couple of appetizers… I ordered a few wings to start us out.  Wild Wings Café offers 33 different homemade wing sauces or flavors!  I toned it down a bit for our visitors, ordering half of the wings with “Red Dragon”, (symbolized by 3 hot peppers), and “The Slayer”, (2 hot peppers). Everyone gave the wings 2 thumbs up! 

To check out the variety of wing sauces on the menu, you can go to

We also ordered some Buffalo Chicken Dip with chips.  As advertised, it was creamy and a little spicy with a hint of 'bleu' cheese.  When we were done, that bowl of Buffalo Chicken Dip was clean as a whistle!  It was very good…

Carla and Diane both ordered the Grilled Shrimp Skewers…2 skewers, each containing five marinated shrimp, grilled and then tossed in the sauce of their choice.  In this case, the 2 side dishes chosen were the steamed broccoli and the flame roasted corn, black beans and peppers.

The side dishes for these Shrimp Skewers were the fiesta rice and Dave’s Homemade Bacon Potato Salad.  Our visitors from the north woods of Wisconsin both enjoyed their entrees… Another cocktail please! 

Laurie decided to have the Cool and Creamy Avocado Turkey Wrap as her entrée.  As you can see, it featured plenty of turkey plus fresh avocado with pico de gallo with Monterrey jack cheese, lettuce and homemade red pepper spread all inside a jalapeno cheddar tortilla.  She went with the French fries as her side dish.  This was a very filling and satisfying wrap… (Sorry for the red tinted photo!)

Note: French fries are a matter of personal preference.  Laurie thought that these thick wedge cut fries were very good, while I thought that they were just ok… I usually prefer thinner French fries. 

What can I say!  I didn’t stray far from my normal likes and preferences… This was my burger “creation”!  In addition to Wild Wing’s specialty burgers, diners can also build their own burger… I ordered a medium rare Angus chuck burger on a toasted pretzel bun with Pepper Jack cheese and sliced Jalapenos.  YUM!  It was cooked just right and there was a bit of heat too…

So…you might ask, “Where’s the chaos!  Not too long after we placed our order, the Wild Wing Café began to fill up fast… The new patrons were kids in their Halloween costumes with their parents.  In this photo, tables in the background were covered with pumpkins for the ‘trick or treaters’ to decorate.  It was a contest of sorts plus treats for the children.

With all of the kids having a great time, running around in their costumes or energetically decorating their pumpkins, we did reach the level of semi-controlled chaos!

FYI… According to many scholars, All Hallows' Eve is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals.  The word Halloween or Hallowe'en dates to about 1745 it’s of Christian origin.  The word "Halloween" means "hallowed evening" or "holy evening".  It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day).  Over time, the Scot’s “Hallow Even” evolved into Halloween.

The chaos increased as the kids and their parents kept flowing in the door.  This was a really big event!  We had to push our way through the crowd to the left of this photo to escape this wild scene.  This special evening had to be good for Wild Wings Café’s business!

Note: Trick-or-treating does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the first U.S. appearances of the term in 1934.  The first use of the term “Trick-or-Treating” in a national publication occurred in 1939.

To learn more about the history of Halloween, you can go to

Wild Wings Café…with its daily specials and regular entertainment…is located at 11335 Campbell Lakes Drive in Farragut Tennessee.  It’s adjacent to the Turkey Creek Shopping area.  Phone: 865-777-9464.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, November 21, 2014

Old Time Railway Display – North Platte NE

Our first stop in North Platte was Penny’s Diner right off of I-80.  Our second stop was right next door to Penny’s…the Fort Cody Trading post with Buffalo Bill standing guard right out front.  

The third attraction that we checked out was the Golden Spike Tower and Northern Pacific Railroad's huge Bailey Yard...the largest rail yard in the world!  Our next North Platte attraction continued the railroad theme...

NOTE: Sorry for the variations in print size below... I can't figure out what's going on or how to correct it and I don't want to have to start over!

This is the sight that greets visitors to the Cody Park Railroad Museum in North Platte!  Wouldn’t it be something if you could see these 2 trains headed on down the tracks in your direction? 

Cody Park is North Platte’s largest park.  It not only features Railroad Museum, but it’s also the home of the Wild West Memorial, lighted sports fields, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a disc ‘golf’ course and horseshoe pits.  In addition, there are kid’s rides, a concession stand and animals including peacocks, geese and ducks, donkeys, deer, elk, buffalo and llamas.  To learn more, go to

This locomotive is the only Challenger 3900 series steam locomotive on static public display anywhere in the USA.  A total of 105 of these locomotives were built.  One other Challenger, (#3985), is part of UP’s Heritage Collection in Cheyenne Wyoming.  That locomotive is occasionally used for freight hauling, special excursions, etc.  It has also been used to pull the Ringling, Barnum and Bailey Circus train.  

To check out a nice series of photos of Challenger #3985 in action, just go to To view it pulling a circus train, go to

Compare this “control panel” to a modern airplane’s instrument panel…or even your automobile dashboard… The good news is that we don’t have to shovel coal to keep our cars in motion!

The Union Pacific Challengers were articulated 4-6-6-4 steam locomotives built by American Locomotive Company specifically for the Union Pacific Railroad.  Only 105 of these locomotives were built between 1936 and 1943.   The Challengers were nearly 122 feet long and weighed more than one million pounds.  They operated over most of the Union Pacific system, primarily in freight service, but a few were assigned to passenger trains operating through mountain territory to California and Oregon.  These locomotives were capable of speeds of up to 70 mph. 

This is the former Union Pacific Railway station from Hershey Nebraska.  It was built in Hershey in 1892 but it’s been relocated to Cody Park in North Platte as part of the railroad museum.  I found a photo of this station on line in the park with the sign still on the end of the building.  But, for some reason…perhaps it was being refurbished…it wasn't in place when we visited.

Hershey is a village with a population of less than 700 residents that’s located about 10 miles west of North Platte.  It’s most famous resident was Ben Kuroki,  the only Japanese American in the United States Army Air Forces to serve in combat operations in the Pacific theater of World War II.  Ben was born in Gothenburg Nebraska but his family moved to Hershey where they raised their 10 children on their farm.  Ben was Vice President of his senior class in Hershey High School.  I talked about Ben in one of my blog postings about Gothenburg… You can learn more about him if you go to

How’s your imagination?  It’s mid-winter in the early 1890’s and you’re sitting on this bench with your family, trying to keep warm while you’re waiting for the train that will take you to the big city.  It certainly was a different time and place…

As an aside, the only time I've ever sat on a bench like this waiting for a train, (in a depot from the 1800’s), was in my home town of Jackson Michigan.  Amtrak still utilizes that depot.  To view photos of the depot in Jackson, you can go to,_Michigan_(Amtrak_station).  To check out some historical photos of that depot, go to

On the track next to the Challenger steam locomotive is diesel locomotive # 6922, one of the 6900 series diesel locomotives, which were the largest ever made.  This 6,600 horsepower diesel-electric locomotive was one of 47 built by the General Motors Electro-Motive Diesel division in La Grange, Illinois for the Union Pacific Railroad.  These locomotives were nicknamed "Centennial" and "Big Jack".  They use two diesel engines they are the most powerful single-unit diesel locomotive ever built.   These Centennial locomotives are 98 feet long!
Only 1 of these huge locomotives is still in use.  Union Pacific #6936 is owned by Union Pacific Railroad and it’s the sole example of the "Centennial" type that is still in operation.  Therefore, it’s the largest operational diesel-electric locomotive in the world.  That unit is still occasionally used on both excursion trains and in revenue freight service.  To learn more about the 6900 series and to view some additional photos, go to:
That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Quality Ice Cream Option!

We do like ice cream!  On the other hand, we rarely keep any in the freezer because it’s just too tempting and it plays havoc with any attempts to minimize excess calories. 

Our favorite source for an ice cream treat in East Tennessee is the Tic-Toc Ice Cream Parlor.  This terrific ice cream parlor is located in downtown Loudon Tennessee at 504 Grove Street.  Phone: 865-408-9867.

Tic-Toc serves excellent ice cream with a real variety of flavors!  My favorite is the Praline but we also love the George Washington Cherry and the Cookies ‘n Cream among others.  We love their milk shakes too!  To check out some customer reviews of the Tic-Toc Ice Cream Parlor, just go to TripAdvisor at  

The problem is that Tic-Toc closes in the winter months… Where could we go for a cold weather ice cream ‘fix’?

This is Chadwick’s Churn Gourmet Ice Cream Parlor in Alcoa Tennessee.  It’s about 35 – 40 minutes from our house, but in mid-winter when you need an ‘ice cream fix’, one might be willing to make the trip if the quality is there…

The inside of Chadwick’s Churn looks like other modern looking ice cream parlors.  It doesn’t have the charm of an old time parlor like Tic-Toc, but hey…it’s all about the ice cream isn’t it!

Laurie opted for this great chocolate coated waffle cone with chocolate mint and mint chocolate chunk ice cream.  It was very satisfying and the ice cream was nice and rich.  She liked the little cookie inserted in the top too… Chadwick’s has a nice selection of cones… Laurie’s cravings were happily resolved!

I went for my usual…a nice thick vanilla milk shake.  It was very nice and I was a happy camper!  The ice cream at Chadwick’s Churn is high quality if not quite as rich as the product offered at Tic-Toc…but it was very good!

Although Chadwick’s Churn doesn’t have as many reviews posted on TripAdvisor as Tic-Toc does, they are all positive.  You can check them out at

Chadwick’s Churn Gourmet Ice Cream opened in 2010 and they are open in the winter months… This ice cream parlor is located at 727 Louisville Road in Alcoa Tennessee.  Phone: 865-233-7355.  Chadwick’s is on Facebook at

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

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Largest Rail Yard in the World!

I really enjoy airplanes, autos, trucks and trains… Laurie and I have visited many, many automotive, aircraft and train exhibits or museums and we’ve taken photos of a plethora of railroad depots. 

Some time ago we visited Folkston Georgia.  Folkston is one of the premier train watching locales in the USA…and its home to the “Folkston Funnel”.   The "Funnel" is a double track which serves as the main artery for railroad traffic into and out of Florida.  There is a public viewing platform for true ‘railheads’.  Check it out at

On this trip, we were wandering around south central Nebraska.  My research into sights and attractions had revealed a major ‘railhead’ site in North Platte!

Yes…that is a giant viewing tower or platform.  The upper level is glassed in and the level just below the top is open.  From this tower, visitors can view the Union Pacific Railroad’s “Bailey Yard” in action.

The structures shown comprise the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center.   The upper level is 8 stories high.  The Visitor Center itself includes Union Pacific Railroad and Nebraska memorabilia and educational displays as well as a gift shop with a large selection of souvenirs.

This is Union Pacific’s locomotive service, maintenance and repair facility at this enormous rail yard.   This locomotive fueling and servicing center handles more than 8,500 locomotives per month.  It has a locomotive repair shop that can repair 750 locomotives monthly, and a car repair facility that handles nearly 50 cars daily.  The car repair shop replaces 10,000 pairs of wheels each year.


·       UP developed a method for changing wheels in the field on empty westbound coal trains, which enables 3 workers to use a hydraulic jack under the couplers between 2 cars and exchange the trucks (wheel assemblies). This has reduced the time needed to replace trucks from up to 12 days to just 8–12 minutes.

·       Locomotives can be serviced in a NASCAR-like pit stop facility staffed by five crew members—an electrician, machinist, fireman, oiler and car inspector.  Locomotives are serviced in 45 minutes without detaching them from their trains.

This is the Golden Spike dining car #4613 which is located just to one side of the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center.  It’s a beauty…  This vintage dining car is currently being renovated.  When it’s completed, the car will take visitors back to the romance of passenger trains with both the look and feel of a real railroad dining car with all the amenities.

The name “Golden Spike” was chosen because North Platte is where East meets West on Union Pacific’s rail line – just as East met West in Promontory Summit, Utah when the Transcontinental Railroad was built.  It was there that the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads met and drove the Golden Spike to open up the west.

The idea of the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center was first conceived in the mid-1990's as Union Pacific’s viewing platform was falling into disrepair. North Platte community leaders thought it would be a good idea to erect a tower that would allow visitors to get a birds-eye view of Bailey Yard. The Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center opened in June, 2008.

The Bailey Yard is huge! (You really need to enlarge these photos to appreciate its size) This massive rail and classification yard covers 2,850 acres, and it reaches a total length of eight miles.  Put end-to-end, Bailey Yard’s 315 miles of track would reach from North Platte in western Nebraska east past Omaha on the Iowa border along the Missouri River.  This Union Pacific rail yard has over 2,500 employees…in a town that has a population of roughly 25,000!

This huge rail yard and rail car sorting facility is called the “Bailey Yard”.  It was named after Edd Bailey, whose leadership led to the expansion and development of this rail complex. Bailey started with the Union Pacific in 1921 as a helper in the car repair shop.  He worked as a blacksmith, loaded mail cars, served as a brakeman, conductor, special police agent and trainmaster as he rose up through the ranks.  In 1965, he was named as the President of the railroad.  He retired from the Board of Directors in 1974, after 53 years of service!

The numbers that are involved when talking about this rail yard are staggering.  Every 24 hours, Bailey Yard handles at least 10,000 railroad cars and 150 trains!  Among the other traffic, each day 34 loaded coal trains head east and 34 empty coal trains head west for another load.

Of the rail cars, 3,000 are sorted daily in the yard’s eastward and westward yards, nicknamed “hump” yards.  Using a mound cresting 34 feet for eastbound trains and 20.1 feet for those heading west, these two hump yards allow four cars a minute to roll gently into any of 114 “bowl” tracks where they become part of trains headed for dozens of destinations.  Together, these two yards have 18 receiving and 16 departure tracks.

This postcard gives one a better idea as to the vast expanse of Union Pacific’s North Platte rail yard and classification facility.  At its widest point, 301 tracks run parallel to each other!  

If you’re interested in railroads, transportation or just massive man made complexes, this is a must stop when passing through Nebraska.  Docents and employees at the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center are mostly retired Union Pacific employees or employees of ancillary businesses.  They are really ‘into’ this important part of their lives and they are eager to share their knowledge.

The Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center is located at 1249 North Homestead Road in North Platte, Nebraska.  Phone: 308-532-9920.  To learn more about the Bailey Yard and the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center, go to   This attraction is also on Facebook at:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit! 

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave   

Friday, November 14, 2014

Special Visitors from Wisconsin!

Laurie and I do enjoy having guests at our home here in East Tennessee… We were very happy recently when Carla, one of Laurie’s cousins from Wisconsin, and her friend Diane decided to escape the cold weather and head south! 

Our home in the woods shines just a little bit more during the fall season.  Carla and Diane arrived at a great time of the year…beautiful mild weather…and lots of color.  As it turned out, their visit coincided with the peak of our fall foliage display. 

The ladies woke up to this sunrise on their first day with us… The flowers and plants on the deck, (facing east), and the front porch, (facing west), even survived for duration of the visit.  This was despite a couple of freeze warnings and some very low overnight temperatures.

This is a photo of Diane and Carla.  We have a couple of ‘must’ places and sights where we take all first time visitors.  One of the places is the Tellico Grains Bakery.  We purchased some terrific scones and cookies and we had some great sandwiches on fresh bakery bread for lunch.

FYI… Tellico Grains Bakery is located at 105 Depot Street in Tellico Plains Tennessee.  Phone: 423-253-6911.  Website:

Following lunch we headed on up into the Smoky Mountains following along the Tellico River.

The Tellico River rises in the mountains of North Carolina, but it flows mainly through Monroe County, Tennessee.  It is a major tributary of the Little Tennessee River and it’s one of the primary streams draining the Unicoi Mountains.  The Tellico River and its main tributaries are renowned for their brook, brown, and rainbow trout fishing. 

Our primary objective was to show off the Bald River Falls!  These spectacular waterfalls are more than 80 feet high…and they’re right next to a paved Forest Service Road.  The Bald River Falls is considered to be the most impressive and scenic waterfall in East Tennessee.

Carla, Laurie and Diane posed for me on the bridge overlooking the falls… The sunshine kept going behind clouds and then popping in again.

Laurie and I have visited this waterfall many times in the past 5+ years.  In the spring, with the rain and snow melt, it is truly an impressive sight.  In mid-summer, the younger crowd swims in the pool beneath the falls and some of them even jump into the pool from the rocks above the pool.

Diane took this photo of Laurie and me… I think that Laurie still likes me!

The forests of the Bald River and the Tellico River basins were almost completely logged off during the early 20th century.  The present road up the Tellico River was built on the old logging railroad bed.  The Bald River and 3,721 acres of its watershed are now part of the Bald River Gorge Wilderness.  The Wilderness area has an average elevation of 2,642 feet above sea level. 

I took this photo of the fall colors along the Tellico River right on the other side of the bridge over the Bald River.  That river joins the Tellico almost immediately after coursing over the falls…

This is another picture of the Tellico River looking downstream.  After it merges with the Little Tennessee River, the water flows into Tellico Lake which in turn merges with Fort Loudoun Lake. (Both of those ‘lakes’ are actually Tennessee Valley Authority reservoirs)

Note: The Tellico River is also very popular for kayaking, so if that's your 'thing', check it out!

Following our drive along the river, we turned onto the Cherohala Skyway. (TN Route 165/NC Route 143) This road has been designated as a National Scenic Byway.  The Cherohala Skyway crosses through the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina.  The name “Cherohala” comes from the names of the two National Forests: “Chero” from the Cherokee and “hala” from the Nantahala. 

This photo was taken by Laurie from the Brushy Ridge Overlook. (Elevation: 3,750 feet) 

The Cherohala Skyway is a wide-paved 2-lane road connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee, with Robbinsville, North Carolina, and it’s about 40 miles long.  The elevations range from 900 feet above sea level at the Tellico River in Tennessee to over 5400 feet above sea level at the Tennessee-North Carolina state line at Haw Knob.

Carla loves old cars, especially fast ones!  This 1951 Ford was ‘on display’ at the Brushy Ridge Overlook.  Its owner had a lawn chair on a grassy area where he could watch travelers admire his ride…

Laurie showed the ladies around our area, focusing on the available amenities.  This is a view of Tellico Lake from inside the Blue Heron Restaurant at the Tellico Village Yacht Club.  

I took this photo of Laurie and Diane. 

On this particular day, we all drove into Knoxville’s Turkey Creek area for a little shopping and dinner.  (Carla and Diane’s treat!) We chose Wild Wings Café.  They have great wings, sandwiches and salads as well as a full and reasonably priced bar…

I also took this picture of Laurie and her cousin Carla.  When I took this photo, the Wild Wings Café was fairly quiet… Before we left, the place had filled up with a jillion kids.  The restaurant was staging a big pre-Halloween pumpkin painting party. 

To find out more about this fun and food venue, you can go to  Wild Wing Café also has locations in 6 other states…

I also took this photo of Diane, Laurie and Carla at the TN Route 444 north portal to Tellico Village in Loudon County.  The sunshine and I were in conflict when I took the picture…

To make the ladies feel at home, I was wearing a ‘north country’ sweat shirt from Traverse Bay in Michigan.  When Laurie took this photo, Carla thoughtfully tried to camouflage my slowly shrinking by still impressive girth…

That’s about it for this adventure… When I was writing this posting for my blog, it was 62 degrees and cloudy in Loudon County Tennessee.  It was 39 degrees and cloudy in Portage County Wisconsin!  Ladies…you may want to make a return trip in the near future!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave