Friday, June 28, 2019

Exploring Cades Cove - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

…continuing with the recent visit by Laurie’s sister Bonnie, Bonnie’s husband Bill and their granddaughter Avery.

The day after our trip to Tellico Plains and Bald River Falls, we headed out US Hwy. 321 in the direction of Cades Cove, a special place within the Smoky Mountains National Park that features wildlife viewing.  It was a nice day…still comfortable in the morning…and Avery loves animals!

So the big question was…would we get lucky?  There have been times that we visited Cades Cove and we didn’t see any wildlife.

Our drive on the 11 mile long Cades Cove Loop road started out on a positive note!  It seems that all young girls…or most women for that matter…love horses.  A portion of the riding stables horses were chilling and relaxing next to the fence by the road.  That made for 3 happy females!  One horse in the second photo was just trying to scratch an itch…and he looked content.

Europeans settled Cades Cove ca. 1818 but the Cherokee had established a settlement here much earlier.  It was known as “Tsiya’hi”, or “Otter Place”.  The European name, Cades Cove, was derived from a Cherokee leader from Tsiya’hi named Chief Kade.

As we continued our drive we got lucky, spotting this buck standing out in one of the Cove’s meadows.  This early in the year his antlers were still in velvet…but I think that he was an 8-pointer.  

By 1850 the population of Cades Cove grew to 671.  The size of farms in the Cove ranged between 150 and 300 acres.  Residents were fairly self-sufficient but relied on nearby Tuckaleechee Cove for dry goods and other necessities.  A post office was established in the Cove in 1933.  A weekly mail route was established in 1839.  By sometime in the 1890s, residents even had phone service after locals built a phone line to Maryville Tennessee. 

I’m sure that life in Cades Cove was challenging for the residents but my, oh my, what scenery they woke up to and labored near each day!

Despite the presence of 3 different churches in the Cove, life wasn’t always peaceful.  The 2 Baptist churches were the result of a schism… Moonshining was a money maker for some residence but anathema for others. 

In 1921, the Gregory’s still was raided by the Blount County sheriff.  The Gregorys blamed the Olivers and the day after the raid, 2 of the Oliver’s barns were burned, destroying a significant portion of the family’s livestock and tools.  Then one of the Gregorys was assaulted by 2 of the Sparks family and, in return, 2 members of the Sparks family were shot on Christmas Eve 1921.  

The Gregorys were convicted of the barn burning as well as of felonious assault…but they were pardoned by Tennessee’s Governor after 6 months…and he personally escorted them home. (The Gregorys must have produced some high quality moonshine!) 

When we drive through the cove, we seen honeymooners and wedding parties being photographed in the Cove…so we took these photos of Avery and her grandparents!

Cades Cove wasn’t given up easily by its residents.  Cades Cove put up the greatest resistance of any of the mountain communities in the formation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Originally, they had been assured that their land wouldn’t be included.  But in 1927, with the approval of funds to buy land for the park, the Park Commission had the power to seize properties within the park via eminent domain.  Death threats to key officials followed as did lengthy court battles.  Defeated, John Oliver was the last resident to abandon his property on Christmas Day in 1937.   

There are a number of historic buildings still standing within Cades Cove that are maintained by the National Park Service.  The photo above shows the Becky Cable House (1879).

Other buildings in the Cove include: John Oliver Cabin (1822 – 1823); Primitive Baptist Church (1887); Cades Cove Methodist Church (1902); Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church (1915 – 1916); The Myers Barn (1920); Elijah Oliver Place (1866); John Cable Grist Mill (1868); Henry Whitehead Cabin (ca. 1895); Dan Lawson Place (1840s); The Tipton Place (1880s), and Carter Shields Cabin (1880s).


·       Parishioners from the Primitive Baptist Church defied the National Park Service and that organization’s plans for many years, continuing to meet at their church in the Cove until the 1960s.

Here are a couple more views of this beautiful place.  Amazingly, the park and the loop drive wasn’t packed with tourists on this spectacular morning.  Cades Cove is the single most popular destination for visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Its scenery, well preserved historic structures and its display of wildlife draws over 5,000,000 visitors every year!

Of course, as regards the wildlife, traffic flow, time of the day, timing on your drive, ability to spot animals along the route and luck are all critical for visitors.

So…at least for Avery’s sake, did we get lucky?

Yes we did!  Laurie captured several photos of a nice size black bear feeding in the brush fairly close to the road.  An adult male American black bear can weigh up to about 500 lbs. and a female can reach about 375 lbs.  Most of our previous bear sightings here have been at long distance or up in a tree.
You’d think that they’d be seen more often!  After all, about 1,500 black bears live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  That equals about 2 bears per square mile.  That’s the reason that we often have local reports, especially early in the spring when food is scarce, of bears in town and near homes…just looking for something to eat.

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, June 26, 2019

Spending Time with Family in East Tennessee

Family time!  Laurie’s sister Bonnie, her husband Bill and their 11 year old granddaughter Avery spent a few days with us late in the spring season.  An 11 year old in the equation changed our usual itinerary, causing us to go places and do things that aren’t normally on our list. 

However, this particular day was fairly normal… We went for a drive and were pleased to note that Avery actually looked out the window and wasn’t buried in her smart phone!

We got a late start and decided to grab some lunch before showing Avery one of our local scenic highlights.  We stopped at the ever popular Tellico Beach drive-in restaurant and got in line.  The place was packed and the line was slow.  This restaurant is inexpensive and there are a series of picnic tables ranging along the Tellico River, very appealing to casual diners. 

However, we decided that it was too crowded, the line was too long, etc. so we headed up the road to show Avery the river and its special draw for visitors. 

FYI, the Tellico Beach Drive-In has been in business since 1962!  It’s located at 1801 Cherohala Skyway in Tellico Plains Tennessee.  Phone: 423-253-2606.  Facebook:

I’ve written about Bald River Falls too many times already…but what the heck, Avery hadn’t seen them.  Many people think that these falls are the most impressive and scenic falls in East Tennessee.  In any case, Avery seemed to like the scenery and she posed on the bridge over Bald River with her grandparents.

After checking out Bald River Falls, we headed back into Tellico Plains to find a place for a late lunch.  Bonnie spotted Buckets and Brews and we decided to check it out.

Laurie and I have been living in East Tennessee for almost 10 years now and we’ve been to Tellico Plains and Bald River Falls many times.  Probably because we tend to eat at Tellico Bakery in the center of Tellico Plains, we generally bypass this restaurant and we take an alternate route home.  It turns out that Buckets and Brews has been in business for a number of years. 

Customers place their orders at the counter and the food is delivered to your table when it’s ready.  The dining area is quite expansive and there is a second room with more tables and a pool table too.  T-shirts, hats and more are offered for sale…

Entrees and sandwiches come with one side and a side salad from the salad bar.  Customers can chose a second side if they don’t want to go to the salad bar.  Sides include baked beans, coleslaw, escalloped apples and ‘smashed’ red potatoes in garlic butter. 

I think that we all opted for the salad bar.  Salad ingredients were somewhat limited but everything seemed to be fresh.

The Pulled Pork Sandwich was one of our choices. ($9.50) In this case, baked beans were the side chosen to accompany the sandwich.  The grilled bun was a plus...

Another item ordered was the Grilled Grouper Sandwich…7 oz. of grouper, blackened or grilled with garlic herbs with a side of coleslaw. ($11.50)

Two of us ordered burgers.  This one was sided with baked beans.  The 4 oz. burgers are $8.50 and an 8 oz. version was $11.50.  Cheese, shallots or mushrooms were 50 cents extra.  The burgers were cooked a bit more than we like but they were still juicy…

Bill is a seafood junkie!  He went for the Low Country Boil ($16.00), something you wouldn’t expect on a menu in Tellico Plains Tennessee.  His entrée came with a side salad.  The entrée itself included Dungeness crab, shrimp, red potatoes, corn, plus kielbasa and andouille sausage.

The staff was helpful and friendly but we weren’t overly impressed by the food.  It was OK but it wasn’t anything really special.  Still, it was a decent place to stop for lunch.

Buckets and Brews Bistro and Banquet Hall is located at 123 Main Street in Tellico Plains Tennessee.  Phone: 423-253-2322.  Facebook:

Much later in the day, we found ourselves at Wild Wing Café in Farragut Tennessee.  Examining the photo, you might be able to deduct the reason for our destination.  Our visitors from St. Louis were all glued to the tube! This giant sports bar put us in a corner and turned 4 of the TVs onto the channel carrying the St. Louis Blues Hockey playoffs vs. the Boston Bruins.  Sadly, St. Louis lost this game…but they did win the series and The Stanley Cup Trophy!

We had a lot of wings and a bit of beer while watching the game.  Thanks to Wild Wing staff for their help and hospitality.  This restaurant is located at 11335 Campbell Lakes Drive in the Turkey Creek shopping area.  Phone: 865-777-9464.  This location’s Website is at:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, June 24, 2019

We Love Having Visitors!

Once we returned to East Tennessee from our family visits to St. Louis Missouri and Omaha Nebraska, we took time to take a look around our place and really appreciate our home…

Our Oak Leaf Hydrangeas in our back yard were in full bloom… For those who might not know, these plants are a species native to the Southeastern USA.  They grow in woodland habitats from North Carolina, west to Tennessee and south to Florida and Louisiana.  The oak leaf hydrangea was named the State Flower of Alabama in 1999.

Laurie captured this photo of our local Bengal cat stalking through our backyard.  FYI…his name is “Cruiser” and he belongs to a neighbor who lives a street over from ours.  He’ll stop and listen to Laurie…but he won’t let her get too close.

The Bengal cat was created from hybrids of domestic cats, the Asian leopard cat and the Egyptian Mau.  This spotted cat breed has a golden shimmer in their coats, they’re long and lean with the normal weight for a male ranging between 11 – 17 lbs. 

Cruiser would probably like to visit our bird feeder…but it’s quite high up and in the open where the birds can see him.

Some of our most frequent feathered visitors are these eye-catching male eastern Bluebirds.  Sometimes Laurie furnishes them with their favorite food…mealworms…but they still come to feed even when we’re just offering seeds. 

Bluebirds are perching birds related to the thrush family.  While they prefer our platform feeder, as you can see they will stop in at our vertical suet and seed feeder for a snack.  In the winter, they like to utilize our heated birdbath.  In the early 1970s, bluebird populations had declined by as much as 70%.  However, thanks to nesting boxes and birdwatcher’s love for these colorful birds, their numbers have surged in recent years. 

This handsome bird was a recent visitor at our suet and seed feeder.  This was the first Brown Thrasher we’d seen in our yard.  They are related to New World Catbirds and Mockingbirds.  The Brown Thrasher is the State Bird of Georgia.

While this bird resembles a Thrush, it isn’t in the same family.  The Brown Thrasher is normally an elusive bird.  When feeling bothered, it usually hides in brushy thickets and makes cackling sounds.  Of interest is the fact that this bird is noted for having over 1,000 song types…the most expansive repertoire of songs of all birds! 

We actually had people visit us too!  This is Laurie’s 11-year old great niece Avery from the St. Louis Missouri area.  She posed on the big boulder in our front yard.

Avery was visiting us in the company of her grandpa Bill and her grandma Bonnie.  Bonnie is Laurie’s youngest sister…

Good news for Laurie and me!  Finally, guests that actually enjoy eating lamb!  We bought this boneless roast from our local Fresh Market…our favorite source for special cuts of meat for special occasions.

The first photo pictures the roast with mixed small potatoes before roasting and the second photo displays the finished product before carving…

Avery likes to cook and helped with the lamb roast preparation beforehand.  She wanted to cut the string-wrapping that was holding the boneless lamb roast together while I held it steady with a fork.  She was really focused on the task at hand!

We put the roast and potatoes on one big platter…and I think that it looked very appetizing.  It was a great meal and I had plenty of leftover lamb for sandwiches.  The only negative was that we all agreed that those little purple potatoes were way too sweet for our taste.

I had a doctor’s appointment so I missed going to Tugaloo Beach in Tellico Village on Tellico Lake.  Laurie went along with Bonnie, Bill and Avery and she took the rest of these photos.   

This is a photo of the beach in Tellico Village.  There are several beaches around the lake as well as over on adjoining Fort Loudoun Lake.  For the most part, they are maintained either by the Tennessee Valley Authority or by local municipalities.  The 2 interconnected lakes have well over 600 miles of shoreline between them…

Kids love beaches and they love water!  Avery was no exception.  Besides catching a crappie with her bare hands, she found some other kids to play with.  Ahhh, to be young again!
What was next for our visitors?  I’d set up a couple of days with plenty for us to do…things that Avery would really enjoy…after all, she was our special guest!  Much more will follow.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, June 21, 2019

A Hidden Gem for Sure!

After our son’s belated birthday celebration and our grandson’s high school graduation we headed home across Missouri on US Hwy. 36.  When it was time for lunch, we stopped in the town of Macon where we’d found a possible ‘winner’ on Laurie’s cell phone. 

This is downtown Macon Missouri, the County Seat of Macon County.  As you can see, it’s a pretty peaceful place.  Although it looks like much wasn’t going on, the town has a population of about 5,350, not too far off it’s high in 1980 of 5,680. 

The town was laid out in 1856.  The county seat used to be the town of Bloomington…and it no longer exists.  During the Civil War the residents of Bloomington were mostly southern sympathizers and that raised the ire of General Lewis Merrell, the commander of the Federal post at Macon.  There was talk of burning Bloomington down but at the suggestion of Major Thomas Moody, the then county seat was destroyed more slowly and humanely.  The County Seat was moved to Macon…and Bloomington spiraled into permanent decline and extinction! 

Macon’s Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks chapter #999 at 212 Rollins Street was established in 1905 and this large 3-story building was constructed in 1922.  The building offers dining, dancing and pool tables.  There is a service bar used for special events such as weddings, receptions and fund raisers.  The top level is used for lodge meetings and there is an exercise room for members use.  The lodge’s website and history can be found at  


·       Macon is known as the “City of Maples”.  The city received its nickname because in 1872 a local resident donated 10,000 maple trees to the city as a settlement for back taxes he owed that totaled $116.00.  Today the city is home to 275,000 maple trees…

The earliest post office in Macon operated out of a hotel back in 1857.  Following the Civil War, the post office occupied several sites.  This big post office at 218 North Rollins Street was opened in 1912.  It has since been replaced by a new structure.  From what I could determine, it’s now occupied by local businesses and possible serves as a residence too…


·       Those of us of a certain age fondly remember a TV series that debuted on CBS in 1964.  Patrick Lilley (b. 1953), one of the stars of this show, was born in Macon Missouri.  He was better known by his stage name “Butch Patrick”.  He was that little monster, Eddie Munster.  Later Patrick recalled that although he had plenty of experience at the time he auditioned, he may have gotten the role because of his bad teeth.  As he said, his teeth were so bad that the fangs were actually his and when he closed his mouth, they still stuck out.  He was shorter than most other kids too.  Another little factoid about Patrick…in 2016 he married Leila Murray in Macon Missouri.

But hey…we really stopped in Macon for lunch so how did that go?

This was our luncheon destination…the Apple Basket Café.  It is located directly across the street from the Elks Lodge.

It was a bit after lunch on a Monday but this place was busy!  Note the line of people paying their bills.  The ‘feel’ of the Apple Basket defines what a small town country restaurant should look like.  The staff all appeared to be ‘tenured’ and everybody knew everybody.

The dining area is more than double the size indicated in the top photo.  In addition, if you look through those curtains there is another room, in this instance populated by a group of ladies.

Since we still had a long drive ahead of us, we didn’t want to eat a monumental meal.  We stuck to a couple of juicy burgers.  They were made with lean ground beef, hand formed into patties and served on a grilled bun (key fact!) and served with lettuce, tomato, pickle and onions.

Depending on toppings and whether or not it is a 4 oz. burger or an 8 oz. burger, prices range from $5.00 to $8.50.  Most sides are another $1.25.  The menu is huge and the price is right!  A basic 2 egg breakfast with bacon, ham or sausage and a biscuit, toast or English muffin with hash brown potatoes is $7.00!  Coffee with refills is a bargain at $1.25…

The Apple Basket Café has a head cook and another person who is in charge of pies…perhaps all desserts.  We love fruit dumplings and pies.  I also noted that sometimes they offer Biscuit Bread Pudding to their patrons.  We were determined to skip dessert…mostly so I wouldn’t fall asleep at the wheel from carb overload!

However, our friendly and very persuasive waitress convinced us that we should try something because it was all so good!  So we shared that lovely slice of coconut pie.  Yum!  The good news is that I managed to stay awake the rest of the day…

The food was very good, the atmosphere was relaxing, folks were friendly and the prices are right!  We will return either coming or going on our next trip to Omaha. 

The Apple Basket Café is located at 215 North Rollins Street in Macon Missouri.  They are open from 6:30 AM until 8:00 PM Monday through Saturday and from 7:30 AM until 2:00 PM on Sundays.  Phone: 660-395-7015.  They are on Facebook.  You can check out their expansive menu at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave