Monday, March 31, 2008

Smoky Mountain Visitors Bureau To Host Herb & Wildflower Day In Townsend April 5th

Smoky Mountain Visitors Bureau To Host Herb Wildflower Day in Townsend

By Iva Butler
of The Daily Times Staff
With the wildflowers in peak bloom during April, the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau (SMCVB) is once again hosting Herb and Wildflower Day on April 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow locals and visitors not only to experience and enjoy the beauty of these wildflowers, but also to learn about the practical and medicinal uses of herbs and wildflowers that are found in East Tennessee.

"This is the seventh year for Herb and Wildflower Day, and it has become a great springtime tradition. People really enjoy learning new things about the wildflowers," said Herb Handly, executive vice president of tourism for the SMCVB. "It's a fun and educational event that is great for the family. The mountains really show their true beauty during this celebration. It is so important for visitors to take advantage of this natural opportunity."

At 7:30 a.m. participants will gather at the front porch of the Townsend Visitors Center for a special tour along the Townsend bike path with wilderness wildlife recording expert, Mark Dunaway. Dunaway has an extensive background in avian communication, which explains how and why birds sing.

On the walk, Dunaway will be identifying common species found in the area along with any summer migrants that have returned to breed. Then he will be discussing tips for identifying birds and learning their songs.

"Once you become proficient in identifying birds through their songs, approximately 90 percent of the birds you will detect in a given outing will be by ear. During bird census work, the vast majority of birds that are recorded by ornithologists are detected by ear," said Dunaway.

Dunaway currently specializes in recordings made inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, mostly recording bird songs, particularly those erupting from the Cades Cove area.

The day will continue at 9 a.m., with a talk about the spring wildflowers by senior botanist for the TVA Heritage Program, Dr. Patricia Cox. In addition to talking about some of our more common showy wildflowers, Cox will discuss some of Tennessee's rarest wildflowers and why protecting the plants as well as the plants' habitat is so important. She will also talk about steps that can be taken to help with conservation measures to prevent the loss of these species from our native flora.

Then, at 9:45 a.m., Meredith Clebsch, owner of Native Gardens, a Greenback nursery that grows and sells native plants, will speak about how to garden with plants native to the area. Since 1983, Clebsch and her husband have been operating Native Gardens in Loudon County, where they offer more than 200 different plant species.

At 10:30 a.m., Dunaway will return to give a presentation on planting for the birds. The talk will instruct people on how to create and enhance a backyard habitat for birds through plantings, shelter, food, and water sources.

During lunch, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., visitors will be able to purchase plants, baked goods and pottery as well as view gardening demonstrations.

"We won't be providing lunch, but we encourage visitors to grab a quick bite from one of the Townsend eateries or purchase some fresh bread from Marjie Richardson, owner of The Bakery Lady, a local, home-style bakery in Seymour," said Jeanie Hilten, special events coordinator for the SMCVB.

After lunch, from 1:30 to 5 p.m., Dunaway will be signing copies of the audio CD set, "Bird Songs of the Smokies," which is a soundtrack to the bird sounds in the Smoky Mountain. Each recording was made in the park and offers listeners a detailed narration in how to find the specific birds.

During this time, visitors will also be able to choose between two different hikes that will last from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. or a longer hike that will last until 5 p.m. All hikes are in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"Ferns and Flowers Stroll," led by Cox; on Chestnut Top trail is a moderate 2-mile hike that can be very narrow in places, so participants are asked to wear sturdy shoes. While on this hike, Cox will focus on ferns and other wildflowers. Some of the wildflowers visitors can expect to see will include bluets, dwarf ginseng, fire pink, little brown jug, Solomon's seal, Solomon's plume, several species of trillium, and wild ginger, just to name a few. Additionally, ferns are abundant including Christmas fern, maidenhair fern, maidenhair spleenwort, marginal shield fern and others.

"The Chestnut Top Trail has one of the most spectacular displays of wildflowers and ferns of any trail in the Smokies. If you have never been on this trail, it is amazing and you will love it," said Cox.

Visitors can also choose to take part in the Tremont area walk called "Bees and Blooms," led by Dr. Jim Lowe, a forest entomologist. The Tremont area is home to a former pioneer Appalachian community and logging town. The hike, considered easy along the wide, flat trail, follows a large stream, which features several scenic cascades and a four tiered waterfall at the end.

Or, visitors can take a nature hike to White Oak Sinks, led by Jim Burbank, a national park volunteer and expert in wildlife management. This popular trail features 60 different species of wildflowers along a moderately difficult 2.6-mile trail. Some of the wildflowers you can see along this route include yellow lady's slipper, Columbine and shooting stars.

"White Oak Sinks is a special place in the Smokies, furnishing a great variety of flowers -- at least three species difficult to find elsewhere in the Park, a 'blow-hole' cave, and a disappearing waterfall," said Burbank. "The hike is moderately difficult but well worth the effort."

Throughout the day, visitors can purchase baked goods from The Bakery Lady, which include home-made bread, sweet rolls, cookies and pies.

Additionally, Stringtown Pottery, a Townsend pottery shop, will have items for sale relating to the day's theme of herb and wildflowers. Honey Rock Herb Farm and Native Gardens will also have plants for sale so visitors can buy a plant and a planter to take home.
Article Courtesy of The Daily Times - Maryville TN

Photo by C. Gilliam Heavenly Cabins
See Last Minute Cabin Openings for this weekend 4/4- 4/7/08 - Come to The Herb & Wildflower Day in Townsend TN, enjoy a cozy cabin with awesome Smoky Mountain Views.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Surprise Smoky Mountain Cabin Vacation & One Brave Man!

We truly have the most wonderful guests in the world at our Heavenly Cabins near Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN. We are blessed with caring, friendly folks that come back year after year and become like family - even when we may not meet them face to face....

During the last 7 years, we have had honeymooners, family gatherings, business groups, Sunday school classes and others at the cabins but Harold Mann's surprise was a first for me... He and wife, Carol travel quite a bit and love the Smoky Mountains - so they do visit there often.. It is customary for them to rent a cabin near Pigeon Forge around the Wears Valley area but this was their first trip to our Glimpse of Heaven cabin.. He emailed me months in advance and noted that he was impressed with our guest testimonials, Yeah! - you can read them here ....

We traded emails for a while and Harold shared with me that he was totally in charge of finding the "perfect" cabin for his and Carol's Smoky Mountain trip but with one catch - Carol did NOT want to see any photos or website info about the cabin - NONE, Nada, Zilch!! Wow, I have to say that is one trusting woman or Harold has great taste and she knew it!! Harold seals the deal, months go by and they get another surprise.... Their son will be joining them along with his wife after arriving home from Afghanistan !!! Wow - even better...

The Mann's arrived earlier this month and thankfully - Carol was impressed with Harold's choice - whew, I was relieved also... Not only were they both thrilled with Glimpse of Heaven - they left us a gift - A BAMA bear for our collection!! See the photo above of BAMA bear lying in the hammock at the cabin and their awesome comments below...
Harold's personal email to us.......
I think you can read my feed back(on the online guestbook) and see that we had a wonderful time. Carol was tickled with what she found when we arrived. She said it was worth the wait to finally get to see the beautiful cabin and the surrounding mountains. I did promise you some pictures of the Bama Bear and I am sending a few. I think it is apparent that he is enjoying his not nearly as much as we did. Thank you for putting this cabin together and allowing your many visitors a chance to enjoy a real "glimpse of heaven".
Harold & Carol Mann
Harold's Online Guestbook Entry
Carol and I truely enjoyed our stay in your cabin. We were joined by our son (just back from Afganistan)and his wife, and we could not have picked a better location for our time together. The cabin was spotless, well decorated and large enough for the four of us to spread out and enjoy ourselves. Since we have stayed in many cabins, I have found from past experience that there are many things usually lacking, so I loaded up lots of my trusty home items and lugged them along. The cabin was so well equipted, that most of them stayed packed up until time to head back home. We loved the bears that your other guests have left and left you a "Bama" bear to join the others. The view from the cabin was spectacular and we were fortunate during the week to experience some beautiful days with the sun shining and the temps in the 70's and spent one rainy day at the cabin watching the mist rising from the surroundng mountains and enjoying the fireplace and had an unexpect snow day and had about 9 hours of heavy blowing snow....a real beautiful site to behold from the decks. Of all the cabins we have visited, this one was by far the best in every manner. We will no doubt become frequent visitors and are already looking forward to our next trip. We, like others who have taken the time to leave comments, really appreciated the beautiful cabin, the very appropriate decor and the beautiful mountain views and feel like you named the cabin just right, because while we were there and since we have left, we know that we have had a "Glimpse of Heaven". Thank you and your husband for making this available to us all....
Harold & Carol Mann, Seneca, SC (

THANK YOU Both and to ALL our Wonderful Guests/Friends - You make all the hard work - worthwhile - Praise God ! Roger & Cheryl Gilliam

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's Dollywood Time!! Opening March 21st With Dolly Visiting in April 2008

Spring is almost here and it's once again time for Dollywood to open for 2008. This year will feature a new, $5 million dollar - River Battle Ride when the theme park opens its doors for the 2008 season on Friday, March 21, 2008. Dollywood will also add a 750-foot walkway to connect Timber Canyon with Craftsman’s Valley, reopen its Thunder Road attraction at Adventures in Imagination and host five spectacular festivals for the 2008 season. There is also a new entrance for 2008 to improve traffic flow into the theme park.

River Battle is a themed water raft ride equipped with powerful soaker guns. Nine rafts, each with room for eight passengers, follow a 500-foot channel. As the rafts navigate the waters, the battle begins as passengers, each armed with a soaker gun, take aim at each other and more than 100 targets along the way, including large-scale “talking animals”— Photo from

Dolly will be making her annual appearance at Dollywood on April 11th and 12th to help kick off the 2008 season with press events scheduled during the day on Friday followed by her traditional parade through Pigeon Forge on Friday evening - Aprill 11,2008. The Dolly Parade will begin on River Road near traffic light #7 and will travel north along the Parkway disbanding at the Belz Factory Outlet World at traffic light #3. The Dolly Parade will get underway at 6:00 p.m. Just a taste of the entertainment that can be found all year in Pigeon Forge.

Dolly will also be doing a number of tributes to her late friend Porter Wagoner throughout the weekend including a musical tribute and rose ceremony. The musical tribute will feature many of the original Wagonmasters complete with their characteristic sparkly rhinestone suits. Dolly will also include long-time friend and original Wagonmaster, Don Warden, on steel guitar in the tribute show.