Friday, May 31, 2013

Restaurand Review -- Cootie Brown's, Johnson City, Tennessee

On our way to North Carolina last weekend, we stopped for a meal at Cootie Brown's, 2715 North Roan Street, in Johnson City, Tennessee.  It is a funky little place, and very casual and fun.  They have a wide variety of food on their menu, and the place had several gluten-free options for Mom.  Sarah and I went for their pizza, and Sherry had a jerk chicken salad that was delightful.  Mom had a big burger with gluten-free flatbread.  Cootie's is only a minute off of Interstate 26, so it was very convenient as we passed through town on the way across the mountains to Blowing Rock.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Glen Burney Trail

On Saturday morning, Sherry, Sarah and I hiked the Glen Burney Trail.  It is not a long hike, but you descend about 500 feet from Blowing Rock into the valley to get to the falls, which, of course, means you get to climb back up to get back to town.  The trailhead is in the Annie Cannon Gardens, just behind the park on Main Street.

It's been many years since I've hiked this trail, but I like it because there are several cool things to see.  The first is a ruin of a waste treatment facility built in the 1920's. 

Sarah likes to lead the way, and I have challenged her to try to move as quietly as she can through the forest.  From her lead position, she saw three chipmunks as we walked.
This is the second interesting site on the Glen Burney hike, the Cascades.

This is the top of Glen Marie Falls.  It is well-marked with warning signs, but I risked a closer view.
At this point, the river dives steeply.  You definitely wouldn't want to let your kids anywhere near here.  I don't have any particular problem with heights, but this spot will take your breath away.
We marched a few hundred feet further down the trail to behold Glen Marie Falls in all her grandeur.
Sherry took this snapshot of Sarah and I with the falls behind us.
False Solomon's Seal
By the time we explored Glen Marie Falls, the girls were spent, so we didn't see Glen Burney Falls.  As you would expect, the climb back up was more strenuous than the hike down, and the gals were very happy to reach this bench, near the beginning of the trail.  I highly recommend this wonderful trail.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Old Robbins Place

As soon as we got to Blowing Rock, we walked up to Mom's erstwhile residence, known to locals as "The Old Robbins Place."  It was the home of Grover Robbins, founder of a nearby tourist attraction, Tweetsie Railroad, and Mom rented the home from his daughters, who would not sell it at the time.  After Mom moved out, it became the home of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, but it was vacant the last time I was in Blowing Rock, which allowed me to peer in the windows and remember the many holidays and feasts we shared in that home.
The Chamber of Commerce has since moved back into the house.  We were on the front porch taking pictures, when one of the ladies who works for the Chamber came out the door to head home for the weekend.  Although it was quitting time on Friday for her, she was kind enough to invite us in for a look around, which was wonderful.  She took this photograph of us standing in front of the fireplace in the living room where we opened Christmas presents back in our college days.
Here is a full view of the house, with Frazier wandering across the front yard.
Thanks again to the nice lady who let us have a look inside.  We had a lot of good times in that old house, and we weathered a few fierce winter storms there, too.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Visit to Blowing Rock

We spent the holiday weekend in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, where my mom used to live and where my sisters and I used to visit quite frequently during our college breaks.  This is the view looking toward the Highway 321 bypass out of one of the windows in our room in the Meadowbrook Inn.  It was fun to stroll around town, take in the sights and visit Mom's former home, about which more later.
Grace and Sarah relax in a pretty garden.
There is a wonderful park in downtown Blowing Rock, and it was one of the first places the kids wanted to go.  After they had worn themselves out on the playground equipment, we headed back up to Main Street to window shop.
 Flame azeleas
They apparently have some fast ducks in Blowing Rock now.

The state is widening the 321 bypass to four lanes, and there were orange barrels everywhere.  Fortunately, and wisely, they halted construction during the Memorial Day weekend.  I took these photographs from Woodlands Barbecue, known locally as "The Woodlands."

 The flowers weren't exactly at peak season, but it was still quite colorful and pretty around town.
In addition to Mom, Leslie and Frazier came with Grace, whom they are babysitting while Laura and Stewart are in Hawaii.  We rented adjoining and connecting rooms, which worked out very nicely.  The kids got plenty of use out of the indoor pool and hot tub on site, and Meadowbrook is on Main Street and very convenient to downtown.  Our friend Robert also came up to visit on Saturday from Taylorsville, and it was fun to catch up with him.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

THE MUFFLED drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping-
ground their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

Bivouac Of The Dead, by Theodore O'Hara

Sunday, May 26, 2013

She Turned Me Into a Newt

On May 26, 1647, a woman named Alse Young was hanged for witchcraft in Hartford, Connecticut.  She was the first person executed for witchcraft in Britain's American colonies.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Diet of Worms

Luther at the Diet of Worms by Anton Von Werner, 1877

The Diet of Worms ended on May 25, 1521, with the Edict of Worms condemning Martin Luther for his dissent against some of the practices of the Roman Catholic Church.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Stormtrooper and Rebels

Worlds collide as a stormtrooper finds his way into a rebel encampment.  The Civil War was more complicated than you thought!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Captain Kidd

William "Captain" Kidd, of pirate fame, was hanged in London on May 23, 1701.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Half Cat


Sarah graduated from John Sevier Elementary School last night.  She opened the program at the Clayton Center by leading the Pledge of Allegiance, and she was awarded an Academic Excellence Award for being the top reading student in her class, based upon her GPA and performance on assessments.  The twenty minutes worth of reading she's been doing every evening after school paid off.
Sarah's cousin Grace is also a recent graduate, having graduated from kindergarten at Thackston School in Knoxville last week.  Congratulations to both young graduates!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Last Day as a Third Grader

Today is Sarah's last day of third grade, the last day of a wonderful year in Mr. Judkins' class at John Sevier School and her last day as an elementary school student.  Coulter Grove Intermediate School awaits her next year.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Hike To Laurel Falls

I have not hiked to Laurel Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park since I was in my teens or twenties.  It is a relatively short backcountry hike, and the trailhead is very close to Gatlinburg, so it gets a lot of use, which is why I haven't hiked it in so long.  Sarah and I hit the trail at about 7:00 a.m. Saturday to avoid the crowds.  As you can see, it was quite misty, and a light rain fell on us during most of our outing.
I told Sarah that this hike was similar in length to the hike from Abrams Creek campground to backcountry campsite one.  I was accurate, but I believe the trail to Laurel Falls ascends more, which makes it a little bit tougher hike.

We were soaked by the time we made it to the falls, but it was well worth it.  We didn't encounter any other hikers on the way up, and we had the falls to ourselves during our short stop there before our return journey.  We saw two groups of hikers, one of three members and then a couple, on the way back.  We also saw three chipmunks and Moe the crow during our hike, as well as a few other birds I could not identify.
Laurel Falls
Here is Sarah on the bridge that goes over the river just below the falls.
Below the aforementioned bridge, the river plunges on down the side of the mountain.  There are signs on the trail warning parents to keep a close watch on their kids.  I certainly kept Sarah on the inside of the trail and away from the steep drop-off on the outside edge of the trail.
We were fortunate to see a couple of flame azaleas on our hike.  I've seen them up at Look Rock campground, and Gregorys Bald is famous for them.

During our mountain weekend we saw a salamander, a crawdad, a rabbit, eleven turkeys, three chipmunks and Moe the Crow, and his girlfriend, Flo, on their way to a show.  Surprisingly, we saw no deer.