Coney Island Boardwalk
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina boardwalk
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, "main drag"
Gatlinburg, Tennessee Shopping. This says it all.
Each year, for the past four years, our older daughter and her husband have given us a getaway trip for Christmas. Our daughter buys them using one of those companies like Groupon or Livingsocial that arrange for discounted merchandise or services with the business offering them. This year the coupon was for a night at Foxtrot Inn B&B just outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
It has been, literally, decades since the two of us went to Gatlinburg. We weren’t truly looking forward to the trip because Myrtle Beach is Coney Island below the Mason-Dixon Line, and Gatlinburg is Myrtle Beach in the mountains. If you like watching people you will like all of those places. You are likely to see anything. For the most part you see young families walking along looking at other young families looking at them or in the window of a shop that sells T-shirts and other memorabilia. Everyone has a slightly confused and anxious look on their face. They took their vacation to come here, it’s already mid-week, and they haven’t had fun yet.
The tourists look Blue Collar and as L pointed out, they are the people who voted for Trump. There is nothing wrong with Blue Collar. In fact, there is everything right with Blue Collar. Blue Collar built America and deserves to enjoy what they built. The problem is that they can no longer afford it. But, that is another long and sordid story.
I said that it had been decades since both of us were in Gatlinburg, but the town is well known to L who attended a number of week-long courses at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts which is located in the heart of the town of Gatlinburg, yet tucked away on its own secluded campus.
The Arrowmont School is one of those Arts and Crafts schools, like Penland, Haystack and John C. Campbell Folk School, that were started by educators intent on teaching women in the Appalachian chain skills that they could use to augment the very meager income that mountain families had in the early 20th century. In Arrowmont’s case the founders were Pi Beta Phi sorority which in 1912 opened the school. Finding that the women in the region already possessed considerable skill in art and craft the focus was on refining those skills and developing a marketing strategy for the things the residents created.
In 1926 the sorority opened the Pi Beta Phi Settlement Store.
Today, the school teaches all sorts of arts. L who already had an associate of arts degree in jewelry fabrication and metal work, took several week-long jewelry workshops over the years as well as a couple of week-long classes in ceramic sculpture.
I stayed home and worked so that she could go.
Over the last decade the school has undergone a great deal of turmoil. Pi Beta Phe sorority decided, given the value of the land, to sell the campus the school was located on. A buyer was found and after considerable negotiation the new owners offered to sell the school the actual land that most of the buildings sat on, but kept some of the land that was in the most valuable location for business development. The school did not have to move and is still in Gatlinburg thanks to assistance from donors and the city of Gatlinburg.
So, in a way, L was looking forward to dropping by the school and getting “fed” by looking at the items in the resident artists’ gallery, and we were looking forward to a couple of days away.
Neither of us was disappointed. This is a stock photo, but the items in the gallery were every bit as interesting as those pictured here. For artists there is something inspirational about seeing the work of other artists. While there is no desire to imitate what those artists have done, the artist is inspired to create.
Gallery at Arrowmont
The Foxtrot Inn B&B is owned by a retired couple, originally from the area, who lived and worked in New Orleans for 30 years seeking fame and fortune. As they neared retirement they found that they had neither and came back home planning to open a bed and breakfast. They are a very pleasant couple and they have created a very cozy retreat with a marvelous view. Shirley is a chef, with all of the credentials, who made three course breakfasts that were heavy on the pastry side but wonderfully prepared and presented. Bob, as he pointed out, spent four years in the Air Force and learned how to make beds. He is also a chemical engineer. Bob has a love of the history of the area and can give the background on about any attraction in the area.
View from Foxtrot Inn B&B
For those of you who followed the news of all of the fires in Western North Carolina this past winter, Gatlinburg was not destroyed by the fire. The businesses in the area have been hurt by rumors to the contrary. That is not to say that the fires did not cause damage. It caused a lot of destruction. Because the fires were caused by burning embers carried by high wind from fires in the Great Smoky National Park nearby, the destruction was spotty like tornado damage. A house on one side of the road would be unharmed and the one on the other burned to the ground.
The Arrowmont school lost the “New” dormitory while the old dorm referred to as the Red Barn, just a few yards away was not damaged, and while there may have been other damage, that appeared to be the big hit.
The Red Barn
None of the businesses on the highway running through the center-of-town were damaged, but some nearby businesses were completely destroyed..
A Wood Fired Vase purchased at Rocky Flats Pottery and Soap
With Flowers from Our Yard
So, if you want to take your family and wander around slightly confused and anxious, Gatlinburg is waiting for you.
The weather the day we arrived and the following day was very mild. We spent the day visiting Arrowmont and stopping at some of the nearby craft stores. Dinner at Crawdaddy’s consisted of New Orleans style cuisine, and we sat on the balcony watching the crowds and chatting with a couple visiting from Alabama.
That evening there were storm warnings and it turned off cold and rainy. Since we had to go home over Newfound Gap (5,049 ft. elevation) along U.S. 441, which goes through the National Park and the Cherokee Reservation, we left fairly early the next day.
It was snowing when we got to the top, and the road to Clingman’s Dome (6,644 ft.), the highest point in the park and only a few feet lower than Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the eastern United States, was closed.
We got home in time to change clothes and go watch the Beach Boys in nearby Franklin, NC.
This was the second event that we weren’t really looking forward to. Franklin has a very nice facility that hosts a number of different entertainers. For the most part the performers are famous but over-the-hill groups. The Beach Boys are my age, not exactly the teens who wrote and performed the music of my youth. They made no bones about their age. At one point Mike Love announced that there would be an intermission so that the group could take a nap.
We couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. The Beach Boys put on a good show, and although some of the members are no longer with us, three of the originals were and that guy with the high falsetto can still hit the high notes.
I Get Around
The author has no financial interest in any of the businesses mentioned above or the Arrowmont school. The photos of the view from the Foxtrot Inn, snow at Newfound Gap, and the wood fired vase and flowers are the authors. Others are linked to their original webpage.