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October 22, 2019

Late Fall and Winter Hikes Offer the Best Views

Unless you have been in the Smokies before in the late fall or winter, you might not realize that it is the perfect time to experience our amazing views.  Winter temperatures are more than 50 degrees on about half of the winter days.  Moderate temperatures coupled with low humidity make for comfortable hiking conditions!  Higher elevations are cooler, so dress accordingly.  Be sure to dress in layers and remember to wear a hat.  A thermos of hot cocoa is a treat during your rest breaks on the trail!  Grab a couple of sack lunches from the Inn and have a winter picnic while admiring the scenery.   

Here are some of our favorite winter hikes:

The Laurel Falls trail is 2.6 miles round-trip and paved.  If you are lucky enough to be here during a stretch of below-freezing weather, the frozen water fall creates a crystal castle.  The freezing and thawing from warm days and cooler nights makes an incredible display of dripping ice. 

The hike to Andrews Bald is about 1.8 miles with 1,200 feet in elevation changes.  The hike starts at the Clingmans Dome parking lot.  When you get to the Andrews Bald area, you will have the chance to take in the winter views of the snowcapped peaks of the Smoky Mountains.

Sparkling icicle formations can be seen at the Alum Cave Bluffs, about 2.3 miles from the start of the Alum Cave Trail.  The hike through the old-growth forest is especially quiet and peaceful without the summertime crowds.  The path goes from Newfound Gap Road to the top of Mount LeConte.  You will see log bridges and stone stairways. 

Porters Creek Trail is a gravel road for the first mile or so.  The trail then changes to a dirt trail and heads to Fern  Falls.  The hike to the Falls is about 4 miles, round-trip.  You will cross log bridges and see some of the stone walls erected by this area’s original settlers.

If you prefer to drive, Cades Cove is a favorite winter destination.  The valley is a great place to observe wildlife, such as coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and deer.  The Visitor’s Center is open year-round and can help you plan your visit to the historic buildings in the area.

October 7, 2019

Buckhorn Inn Memories Captured in Watercolors

What special memories have you created at Buckhorn Inn?  Long-time guest, Tanya Young, is a watercolor artist.  She and her husband have made the Inn their special space for rest and renewal.  On her visits she has found quiet time to create watercolors of scenes that are special to her.

Inspired by a desire to capture some of her own moments at the Inn, her paintings are created as vignettes.  These vignettes invite the viewer to remember their own experiences here.  They also function as an invitation to perhaps see differently, according to Tonya.  “Simple moments of beauty are always around us, if we have eyes to see them.”

Memories Vignettes Available in Gift Shop

Painted in a brighter palette, these watercolors are designed to be a reminder of your own Buckhorn Inn story.  They also remind us to appreciate the beauty before our eyes every day, just waiting to break through and be noticed.

The matted prints are $25 each and are found in our gift shop.  They measure 8.5″ x 11″, including the matting.  Her vignettes capture the meditation labyrinth, the path down to Cottage #1, a window table in the dining room, and the red-shaded lamps above the book case in the dining room.

The watercolor series is designed to spark your own Buckhorn Inn memories.

Tonya Young’s watercolors capture special scenes at Buckhorn Inn.

Watercolors are usually translucent.  They appear luminous because the pigments are used in a pure form with few fillers.  In the late 1700’s, William Gilpin wrote a series of books describing his travels through rural England.  http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search  The books were illustrated with watercolors of river valleys, ancient castles, and churches.  The popularity of these books culminated in the celebration of watercolors as a distinctly English “national art”.  

Watercolors are an expressive medium.  The brilliant hues in Tonya’s paintings paired with the ethereal luminosity evoke a dream or memory.  We are delighted with these charming images and know that you will be, too.

September 16, 2019

Downton Abbey Afternoon at Buckhorn Inn

We were proud to host a Downton Abbey event for 50 guests on September 15, 2019.  Our speaker, Dr. David Woodfine, has served as personal butler to the 11th Duke of Marlborough.  He also has been High Steward at an Oxford College and oversaw the wedding of Lord Andrew Lloyd Weber.  Guests received a copy of his memoir “When Angels Dare to Tread”.  Ticket sales benefitted reading/writing programs through the Hilliard Institute for Educational Wellness, a non-profit teaching and learning centre located in Spring Hill, TN and operating in Tennessee, North Carolina, Ireland, and England.http://www.hilliardinstitute.com

Insight into Lives of Downton Abbey Characters

Dr. Woodfine’s professional experiences shed light on the real lives of fictional characters, such as those on Downton Abbey.  His memoir shares his love of educating students.  The following story is an excerpt from “When Angels Dare to Tread”.

Dr. Woodfine shed light on the lives of characters in "Downton Abbey".

Dr. Woodfine’s new memoir is entitled “When Angels Dare to Tread”.

“One occasion I know that some of them [his students] will remember is the wedding of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Madeleine Gurdon in 1991.  A company that gave our young caterers and waiters experience of events invited us to take part in this one.  What excitement!  First, David Oswald and I attended all the planning meetings and were shown around the beautiful Lloyd Webber home, Sydmonton Court near Newbury, so that we could familiarize ourselves with the kitchen, cellar and layouts.  Then we put together two teams of students, about forty in all.

On the day of the wedding, the house was transformed as we were transported into a scene from “Phantom of the Opera”.  Chandeliers sparkled against black drapes and the hexagonal plates on the tables were glazed black.  Our students wore white gloves to that no finger marks would transfer to the crockery and I was pleased as I watched and directed them to serve Michael Caine, Jason Donovan, Elaine Paige and a host of others from the world of stage, film, and television.  I worked discreetly in the background, feeling very satisfied when my students exchanged little pleasantries with the likes of Esther Rantzen, David Frost, and Michael Ball and seemed to take it all in their stride.  Quietly, I congratulated each one on how splendidly he or she was coping with the big occasion.  They did well, and I felt that if they could just handle this situation with confidence and efficiency–and keep smiling–then a good career was waiting for them.”

August 26, 2019

Buckhorn Inn featured in Paula Deen’s Magazine

Be sure to look for the October 2019 issue of Paula Deen’s magazine Cooking with Paula.  http://www.pauladeenmagazine.com  The issue’s travel section features an article “Smoky Mountain Retreat:  Good Eats and Great Views Await in Gatlinburg”.  Author Whitney Durrwachter wrote:

Paula Deen's magazine recommends the fine dining at Buckhorn Inn.

We were thrilled to be included in the magazine article.

“For a refined, fine-dining experience, visit the Buckhorn Inn bed-and-breakfast (www.buckhorninn.com).  Visitors can make reservations for the delicious four-course dinner, served daily at 7 p.m. in the inn’s dining room that features a cozy fire and views of the Smokies.  If you’re a guest, you can also enjoy the delectable breakfast and the respite of the tucked-away cottages and lovely rooms for a relaxing mountain escape.”

Paula Deen’s Feature Includes Neighbors

For “sights and bites”, the article features Anakeesta and its Cliff Top Grill & Bar.    The  outdoor family park features sweeping panoramas and a myriad of ways to enjoy them.  Once you take the enclosed gondola or open chairlift ride to the top, you can go ziplining,.  Or if you prefer, you can enjoy the view from a walk through the tree canopy or a rocking chair by the fire.  The Gatlinburg Sky Park with its 680-foot long suspension bridge is included.  In addition to Buckhorn Inn, Pancake Pantry, The Park Grill and Split Rail Eats are recommended for dining.

Of course the shopping recommendations include the Paula Deen Store!  But Savannah Bee Company, and  Ole Smokey Moonshine Distillery are recommended stops also.  You know that we love the many artists and artisans whose shops are located near us.  The article touts the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community and give a special shout-out to Alewine Pottery.

We were delighted to see Gatlinburg promoted as a beloved vacation spot filled with attractions for all ages.  As the article says, “from the excitement of exploring downtown to the relaxation of winding through the surrounding mountains, there is something for everyone in this Appalachian destination”.  

 

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