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August 20, 2019

TripAdvisor Has Changed Travel

Every month, 456 million people visit TripAdvisor to plan or review a trip.  That works out to about 1 in every 16 people on earth!  For almost every place there is a review, even fictional ones.  In fact the fictional Grant Budapest Hotel (from the movie) has more than 350 reviews and a 4.5 star rating.

The volume of consumer-sourced reviews has led to what some travel experts refer to as “reputation economy”.  While positive reviews can boost a business, bad reviews can be devastating.  Even before the days of print travel guides, people wanted to know everything about their destination before they got there.  Those who post on TripAdvisor are doing their best to help their fellow travelers.

TripAdvisor Comments

At Buckhorn Inn we are fortunate that 865 reviews from our guests have given us and overall rating of 5 out of 5 stars and made us the #1 B&B/Inn in Gatlinburg!   http://www.tripadvisor.comHere are some of our recent comments: 

We have received many positive guest reviews on TripAdvisor.

The view from Bebb House is spectacular.

Judy B said.  Chef Allen was incredible with his selections for dinner. I must admit there was so much food I couldn’t eat it all. Well, I had to leave room for the dessert didn’t I?

According to Relax164989.  Just a beautiful, happy place to unwind…with beautiful views…wonderful food and a very helpful and absolutely lovely staff.It’s in a great location right in the 8 mile loop of all the galleries, potters and cute restaurants and bistros.Will definitely return and experience a different season.

marcus1248 wrote. This was a most unforgettable experience. The drive down the entrance with the lush forest trees on each side of the road, the greeting by the owner Lee, as if we were long loss family, and sitting on the screened in porch of our cottage with a breath taking view of the Smokies, all created memories that will last forever. The entire staff was friendly and very accommodating. The breakfast and dinner meals were absolutely divine. This was our first trip, but definitely not our last.


July 2, 2019

Blackberry Season is Here!

In the U.S., Oregon is the leading commercial blackberry producer.  Here in eastern Tennessee, we find them at local farmers’ markets as well as in the grocery store.  Their deep, purple sheen attracts our eyes.  The soft, juicy berries fill our mouths with fresh, sweet, and slightly tart flavor.  Blackberries are not technically a berry, but rather an aggregate bramble fruit.  Did you know that blackberries have been used for medicinal purposes by the ancient Greeks, native Americans, and other peoples worldwide? 

Our blackberry coffee cake is only one way to use this delicious berry.

Blackberries capture the sweet taste of summer.

Chewing the leaves was a remedy for mouth ailments and a tea brewed from the leaves, roots, and bark was used to treat pertussis.  The fruit, high in vitamin C, was used to treat scurvy.  A 1771 document recommended a tea of blackberry leaves, stem, and bark for stomach ulcers.  https://en/wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackberry  

They are rich in vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and dietary fiber.  They also are anti-oxidant rich.  The fruit also has been used to dye fabric and the stems to make rope.  The wild plants have sharp thorns, so have been used as barriers against large animals.  The berry is often used in desserts, jams, jelly, wine, pies, and crumbles.  We use it is this delicious coffee cake.  What a way to start your day!

Blackberry, Walnut, Bran Coffeecake

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

 

Grease or spray 9X13 baking pan

 

Mix together the following ingredients:

 

1          cup                  sugar  

½         cup                  vegetable oil

2                                  eggs

¼         cup                  molasses

1          tsp                   vanilla 

1          cup                   oat bran

2          cups                all-purpose flour

1          tbsp.                baking powder

1          tsp                   salt                 

1          cup                  fresh blackberries 

1          cup                  chopped walnuts

 

Bake 35-40 minutes (or until top is brown and tester comes out clean)  

Yield: 18 squares

To get this delicious taste of summer year-round, you can substitute frozen blackberries.  This recipe is also a treat when made with blackberries, raspberries, or your favorite berry mix.

 

June 18, 2019

A Trip to the Cabin Dolly Parton Called Her Home

Dolly Parton is arguably this area’s most famous person.  She is a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, record producer, actress, author, businesswoman, and philanthropist.  And she was born right here in Pittman Center, Tennessee!

Our recent guests, Herb Galbreath and his family, have seen the replica of Dolly’s cabin at Dollywood.  While they were here they decided to track down the original cabin that Dolly had called home.  She was born in a small cabin near the Little Pigeon River on January 19, 1946.  http://www.memory.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/html/dollyparton  Dolly’s childhood home was rural and isolated.  She wrote about it in song:

Megan Galbreath gets photo credit for this picture of the Dolly Parton statue in Sevierville.

This photo of the Dolly Parton statue in Sevierville was taken by Megan Galbreath.

 

In my Tennessee mountain home

Dolly Parton entitled an albumn "My Tennessee Mountain Home".

Dolly Parton’s cabin is featured on the cover of her 1973 album.

Life is as peaceful as a baby’s sigh,

In my Tennessee mountain home

Crickets sing in the field nearby.

The Road to Dolly Parton’s Cabin

As the Galbreath family drove in search of the cabin, they reflected on the fact they were backtracking on a road that ends in Hollywood, having come from Nashville, Knoxville, Sevierville, and which starts in Caton’s Chapel.  They started their journey on Caton’s Chapel Road and followed GPS directions to get to Locust Ridge Road.  The houses became fewer and farther between and the roads narrower.  The road twisted up and up through the mountains. 

Finally, they saw a little tin-roofed house.  That was the Tennessee Mountain Home.  The road that leads to it was gated off, and the house appeared to be unoccupied, but well-tended.  The family speculated on the effect that growing up in a setting so majestic, but also inaccessible and lonely, must have had on Dolly.  This remarkable Appalachian woman acquired a unique view of life in these hills.  The Galbreaths felt they had gained a new insight into the mindset of this national treasure.

Replica of the Dolly Parton Cabin at Dollywood

A replica of Dolly’s childhood home can be found in the Dollywood theme park.  Visitors enter from a front porch.  A hallway runs along the cabin’s interior and a glass wall separates visitors from the two-room home.  Guests marvel that Dolly, her parents, and 10 siblings lived in this small space.  The kitchen walls are covered with floral wallpaper and old newspapers.  The table is set and a kettle sits on the stove.  By the stove are a broom and a butter churn.  In the bedroom lace curtains hang in the window and there are wooden toys under the bed.  Several photographs of her parents are in the bedroom. 

The sign in front of the cabin reads:  “This cabin is a replica of the Parton Homeplace where Lee and Avie Lee Parton raised Dolly and her 10 brothers and sisters.  The replica cabin was constructed by Dolly’s brother Bobbie, and the interior was reproduced by her mother Avie Lee.  Most of the items on display are original family treasures.  The original cabin still stands at its location in Locust Ridge.”

Our guests loved the scenic drive to the cabin, and we are sure you will as well. 

 

 

June 6, 2019

“Fireflies Display Left Us Speechless”

Yesterday’s USA Today headline read “See the Synchronous Fireflies Smoky Mountains Display that Left Us Speechless” .  https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2019/06/04/synchronous-fireflies-great-smoky-mountains-tennessee-spectacle/1342743001/  Are you familiar with this amazing display?  How do these insects know how to flash together?  Is it some sort of count led by a leader?  Are they responding to some sort of scent?  The real answer is their search for a mate.  

Seeing the display of the synchronous fireflies is truly a bucklet list item for many.

The display lights up the forest in a magical way.

We owe the show to the Photinus Carolinus, commonly known as the Synchronous Firefly and the Phausis Reticulata, the Blue Ghost Firefly.  For about three weeks every year these species of fireflies unique to this area emerge for an annual mating ritual.  This ritual usually takes place in late May or early June.  National Park scientists use air and soil temperatures to predict the timing of each year’s mating season.  The males use their lights to dance for the females.  The females respond with a brief double-flash.  What makes this display so unique is that the males shine their lights in a synchronized display, followed by a synchronized period of darkness which allow the females to shine their lights.

Fireflies Display Lottery

This natural phenomenon has become so popular that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park conducts an annual lottery to determine which visitors are allowed in the park for the show.  Only about 1,800 visitors are admitted each year, coming from all over the world.  The lottery provides parking passes and shuttle service for the Elkmont area.  The lottery typically is announced in April each year.  

Some of our guests were fortunate enough to see the display at Elkmont last evening.  One guest described the experience as magical.  “It felt like the stars were coming down to light the forest!”

Both species of firefly are common in Southern Appalachia.  So if you are in this area in the month of June, stay outside a bit later.  When it is good and dark you might be surprised at the light show you see!

May 28, 2019

Tennessee Wildflowers Come to Buckhorn Inn

Wildflowers are a tremendous asset to pollinators, in addition to looking beautiful.  In fact, we have planted a mini-meadow of wildflowers near our bee hives.  Our seed mix includes perennials, self-seeding annuals, and biennials.  We sowed:  butterfly weed, partridge pea, lance-leaf coreopsis, plains coreopsis, purple coneflower, rattlesnake master, Indian blanket, standing cypress, blazing star, wild lupine, lemon mint, drummond phlox, Mexican hat, clasping coneflower, black-eyed susan, scarlet sage, and spiderwort.

How to Grow Wildflowers

Wildflowers have survived floods and drought, sandy soil and clay, scorching sun and freezing wind, all on their own.  They can be as tenacious as, well, weeds.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”  So how difficult are they to grow?  As it turns out, they are very adaptable.

Wildflowers attract pollinators.

Honeybees love black-eyed susans.

We ordered a seed mix specifically designed for our geographic area from http://www.americanmeadows.com.  We selected a sunny site and removed the grass from the soil.  We loosened the dirt and scattered the seeds.  We worked the seeds into the soil by walking on top of them.  The seedlings have emerged.  We will continue to water them until they are about 6″ tall.  After that, Mother Nature will handle the watering!  We hope the first blooms will appear in early summer.  

In late fall, after the flowers have dropped their seeds, we will mow the whole area.  The clippings will stay in place to break down and feed the soil.  

Our meadow should not require chemical fertilizers or herbicides, so they are an eco-friendly option.  If this small experiment works, we may expand our meadow.  There are many advantages to growing wildflowers.  They enrich the soil and require very little mowing–usually only once a year.  Different bloom times guarantee a spectacular show throughout the warm months.  The plants are good for steep slopes where they can stabilize the land and prevent erosion.  

We will be sure to post pictures as our new addition grows and blooms!

May 13, 2019

Reflections of an Apprentice Innkeeper

“What is it like being an apprentice innkeeper?”  “How do you and Jack like Tennessee?”  “What do you do at Buckhorn Inn?”  “What do you do when not at the Inn?”  So many of our guests have asked me these questions.  Now that Jack and I have lived here for two years this week, I feel that I can finally answer them!  

Life in Chicago

Jack and I both moved to Chicago in 1981 after completing our undergraduate degrees.  I went to Purdue University and he went to the University of Kentucky.    We met on the commuter train from the western suburbs to downtown Chicago.  We both loved reading, college sports, and exploring our new city and quickly became best friends before we became sweeties and then husband and wife.  By 2011 we both had completed our MBA degrees and I had my PhD under my belt.  I was serving as CEO of the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) and Jack was a founder and CFO of Business IT Source (BITS).  

Moving to Eastern Tennessee

Jack and I built the Greenbrier House  three years ago with the idea that we would offer it up as part of the Buckhorn Inn for “5 or 6 years” until we were ready to retire.  

Life as an apprentice innkeeper includes spending more time with my wonderful husband.

Our plan was to offer the Greenbrier House as part of the Buckhorn Inn until we retired here.

 

But once the house was built, retirement became an incredibly alluring thought!  I had just finished leading OREF through a complete refocusing of our business model and was deciding if I wanted to simply maintain our new organization or go on to a new challenge.  Jack had a 90-minute commute each way to and from work and was finding that to be really wearing.  So, we clasped our hands together and jumped into the unknown of moving to Eastern Tennessee!

Life as an Apprentice Innkeeper

Jack and I serve breakfast at Buckhorn Inn on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  I began as a new face, but guests immediately recognized Jack as John’s son.  In fact, I often tell my pop-in-law that looking at him lets me know how my husband will look 30 or so years from now–and the prospect pleases me!  Jack works with Lee on the payroll and accounting.  I work in the office checking out guests and taking reservations on Saturdays.  We get to participate in regular management meetings and have spearheaded some projects, like the new landscaping around the pond.  Lee has entrusted me with Buckhorn Inn social media and many of you read my blog posts and follow us on Instagram and Facebook.  I admire Lee greatly and enjoy spending time with, and learning from, her.  

Cooking, Gardening, Beekeeping

I grew up on a farm in Indiana and greatly enjoyed 4-H.    So our work at the Buckhorn Inn gives me a great opportunity to further explore some of the activities I have always enjoyed–namely cooking and gardening.  I am somewhat a “chef groupie” and feel so fortunate to get to observe Chef Frank in the kitchen.  His knife skills are astounding and everything he plates looks beautiful and tastes delicious. 

I love to cook, so sometimes I get to provide salads and desserts for special luncheons and bake desserts for dinner http://www.buckhorninn.com/dining.  I got to consult with Frank on revamping the Buckhorn Inn wine list.  A wine aficianado, I am taking a wine expert certification course so that I can help more in this regard.  Our friends Brian and Dana at The Rampant Lion have a very nice wine list and have really helped me when my “homework” involved tasting different wines.  A new cookbook is in the works–I am hoping to finish the draft in the next month or so. 

Jack and I created some raised bed vegetable gardens to grow fresh produce for the Inn.  Jack has installed two bee hives and I am his “bee girl”, helping with their care.

The Buckhorn Inn guests have been so welcoming and so kind to me.  Well, for the most part.  When Purdue played Tennessee in the NCAA tournament this year I served breakfast in my Purdue shirt.  Who knew that cultured, well-mannered people could boo me so soundly?!!

Other Activities

How marvelous to be so close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!  Jack and I enjoy taking early morning hikes before work.  Jack is still working remotely for BITS, so we have to get back before his day begins.  I am still a flatlander, so am working to conquer the uphill portions of the trails! 

This past year I finished my time on the board of CreatiVets, a national nonprofit that serves veterans with post-traumatic stress gain healing tools through the arts.  We have programs at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Southern California as well as writing opportunities with professional songwriters in Nashville.  We are a new foundation, but have accomplished much in five years.  Feel free to check us out at http://www.creativets.org.

I also have been elected to the Board of the Anna Porter Public Library and enjoy helping guide our programs.  I belong to two books clubs, and have gotten to meet many new friends through our book discussions.  We met some local friends through frequenting the same restaurants and love being part of this community.

Family is Important

We enjoy spending time with my brother-in-law Bill and his wife Louise.  Bill, Jack and I are trivia fiends and have spent some delightful afternoons matching wits with trivia contestants nationwide.  We get to spend off time with John and Lee.  Currently we gather together at Buckhorn House on Sunday evenings for supper and to watch Game of  Thrones.

I very much miss my mother and my brother Herb and his family in Indiana.  But now I have the flexibility to take a week every few months to spend with them.  One of my nieces and I went to New Orleans for the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival and another joined me for a trip to Boston.  Next spring I am hoping to travel with my third niece.  Being an auntie brings me great joy.  

Thank you to all the Buckhorn Inn guests who have expressed an interest in how we are finding Tennessee.  It is beautiful here and we love it.  

Your apprentice innkeeper,

Sharon

 

April 22, 2019

Great Golfing in Sevier County Tennessee!

Do you enjoy golfing?  If so, you need to pack your clubs the next time you visit Buckhorn Inn!  We have several beautiful courses that you should not overlook.

Sevier County is a great destination for a golfing vacation.

Our moderate climate makes golfing possible all year.

Gatlinburg Golf Course

Golf Digest named this course the “Best Municipal Golf Course in Tennessee”.  With its breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains, the course has been celebrated as one of the most picturesque courses in America.  The  natural landscape lends itself to quite a few unique holes.  Hole #12 is known as “Sky Hi”.  It is 194 yards in length and drops 200 feet from tee to green.  It is one of the most dramatic holes in the country!  The 529-yard, par 5 hole #3 is aptly called “Long Lane”.  The course is open year-round and features a fully-equipped pro shop and food services area.  http://www.gatlinburg.com/to-do

Golfing Challenges at Sevierville Golf Club

The River Course is a par 72 that plays along and across the Little Pigeon River.  The Highlands Course is a par 70 course that winds through lush, rolling hills and fresh water mountain ponds.  If you are short on time, you can play the Highlands Front Nine Course, which is a par 37.  You may book your tee times online http://www.seviervilletn.org  Additional amenities include a driving range, a putting green, and a chipping area.  The club also boasts Mulligan’s Bar and Grill.

Creekside Golf Course and Practice Facility

Creekside is located in Seymour, TN.  This nine-hole course provides challenge for every golfer’s skill level.  It has gained a reputation for its comfortable environment to play a quick and satisfying round.  The course is open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on Monday through Saturday.  It is open 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on Sunday.  The clubhouse has a pool.  

Bent Creek Golf Course

This Gatlinburg course is a par 72 designed by Gary Player.  The front nine hugs the valley floor while the back nine offers a challenging mountain course.  A beautiful sparkling mountain stream meanders throughout the entire course.  Southern Living Travel Guide named Bent Creek one of the “Top Fifty Golf Courses in the South”.

 

March 25, 2019

Lemon Panna Cotta is Perfect Spring Dessert

What could be more spring-like than a lemon dessert?  Panna cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian.  The sweetened, thick cream is the perfect ending to a meal any time of year.  The brightness of lemon makes this version taste light and sunny.  Panna cotta is sometimes called a custard, but a true custard is thickened with egg yolks, not gelatin.  

Panna cotta is a gluten-free dessert.

Lemon adds a bright note to this creamy dessert.

Lemon Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce

1 cup whole milk

1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup crème fraiche

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Lightly oil six custard cups and set aside.  Mix milk and cream in a heavy saucepan.  Bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat, cool slightly, and add vanilla.  Pour lemon juice into a small bowl.  Sprinkle gelatin on top of the juice and let stand about 10 minutes.  Stir sugar and gelatin mixture into milk mixture.  Stir over low heat just until sugar and gelatin dissolve, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in crème fraiche and lemon peel.  Divide among custard cups.  Cover and chill until set, at least six hours.

Sauce

2 cups fresh blackberries

2 tablespoons packed golden brown sugar

2 tablespoons crème de cassis

Puree 2/3 of the blackberries, brown sugar and crème de cassis.  Strain into a medium bowl, extracting as much liquid as possible.  Stir remaining berries into sauce.

To serve, run a small knife around each custard cup.  Place bottoms of cups, one at a time, in a bowl of hot water for 45 seconds.  Place dessert plate on top of custard cup and invert, shaking gently, to turn out the panna cotta.  Serve with sauce.  This recipe make six servings.

Our chef notes that if you cannot find crème fraiche, heat one cup of whipping cream to lukewarm.  Remove from heat and mix in two tablespoons buttermilk.  Cover and let stand in a warm area about 24 hours until slightly thickened.  Chill until ready to use.

February 18, 2019

Why Stay at a Bed and Breakfast Rather than a Hotel?

Why opt to stay in a bed and breakfast rather than in a large hotel?  The website http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/info/trav discusses the many reasons travelers opt for smaller, independent inns and bed and breakfasts.

A Bed and Breakfast Offers Value

The article points out that hotels usually do not offer a big bang for your buck.  The rooms can be small, you may pay for parking, and if there is a free breakfast it typically is a continental breakfast.  Most amenities are available for an extra cost.  At the Buckhorn Inn, you get a comfortable room and free nearby parking.  We offer complimentary Wi-Fi, which has been newly upgraded.  One of the best perks about staying with us is the hearty and delicious breakfast that comes as part of your stay.  You enjoy fresh fruit, juice, and fresh-baked biscuits and sweet breads while you contemplate your choice of entrée.  You may opt for a savory dish, like Country Eggs Benedict, a sweet dish like Bananas Foster French Toast, eggs cooked the way YOU like them with a breakfast meat, or a hearty bowl of oatmeal with delicious optional add-inns.  And while you enjoy that, your mug will be kept filled with robust, regular or decaf coffee or tea.

Unique Rooms

Many people prefer the inns because they like a room with character.  At the Buckhorn Inn you may

A typical bed and breakfast offers unique rooms as this traditional Buckhorn Inn room.

The Buckhorn Inn provides a serene oasis from the crowds viewing the eclipse.

choose from several different traditional inn rooms, premier suites, cottages, or guest houses.  Each has its own personality and décor.  Many of our guests find their favorite and always try to book “Cottage 5” or “the Red Room”!

Rich History

Many B&Bs have rich history and stories.  At the Buckhorn Inn, we are proud of our 80-year history of serving guests.  We have tried to keep the original charm and feel of Douglas Bebb’s vision, while providing our guests with the most modern amenities.

Personal Attention

Innkeepers go the extra mile to make sure you feel comfortable and welcome.  Innkeepers John and Lee Mellor provide personal attention and assistance to all their guests.  The bed and breakfast staff are great local experts and can provide you with great advice on what to see and do in the Gatlinburg area.  Part of that personal attention is providing fresh-baked treats in the afternoon and providing a library of good books and DVDs.

Please let us know why you choose to stay at Buckhorn Inn!

January 7, 2019

Plenty of Winter Activities in our Area

Need a winter get-away?  While summer is the peak tourist season, our area offers plenty to see and do.  

Gatlinburg is gussied up through February for Winterfest.  Literally millions of lights and displays make the area glow.  This is a great time of year to stroll the downtown streets, admire the lights, and visit some of the shops and restaurants.  Because there are not the crowds of summer and fall, now is the time to visit some of the local indoor attractions.  You might want to check out Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the new Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and the Guinness World of Records Museum.  The mild

Winter vistas are beautiful.

When the leaves are down the views go on forever.

seasonal weather also makes it a great time to visit Ober Gatlinburg.  The resort has eight ski trails with varying levels of difficulty for beginners, intermediate, and experienced skiers and snow boarders.  Certified instructors are available and an on-site shop rents skis and other equipment.  The view from Anakeesta goes on for miles!  Enjoy a meal or a snack, try your hand at zip-lining, or enjoy the treetop walk.

Winter Hiking

In this area about half the days in winter have high temperatures at more than 50 degrees F, making it very comfortable for hiking.  Fewer tourists means more quiet.  The absence of the leaves opens new vistas.  It is easy to spot the stone walls, chimneys, foundations, and other reminders of past residents of the area.  If there is snow on the ground, spotting and identifying animal tracks adds to the fun of your hike.  If the weather has been below freezing for a length of time, you will see frozen waterfalls, sparkling icicles, and azure blue skies.  Please note that as of today the federal government shutdown is still in force.  That means that for most national parks there will be no park-provided services such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance.  For information go to the park website https://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.html.  Before you start out, be sure to check the weather in the area you intend to hike.  In addition to temperature and precipitation, wind is an important consideration.  Limbs blowing down create danger.  Our guests report that some of their favorite winter hiking trails are:  Rainbow Falls, Porters Creek, Max Patch, and Andrews Bald.  Please share some of your favorite hiking adventures!