Saturday, February 27, 2010

Trail Travels


Wow, sorry it has been so long since I posted something. I have been on the road a lot with our exciting new tourism project, the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. The small town girl in me is loving this project, and let me explain why. We're producing trails state-wide that start in key areas like Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains area, producing self-guided driving tour loops, and pointing out all of the hidden gems.

It may be pointing out the things in the heart of Gatlinburg, the history behind it all, that you never noticed. It's showcasing local favorites like Tipton's in Greeneville or Arnold's in Nashville, where you'll love southern cooking. Antique stores, historic attractions, stories behind the communities...it's connecting the dots and making it an adventure. I am really loving digging up stories like the history of Mountain Dew, which started in Knoxville or realizing that the French Broad River is the third oldest river in the world. We're also pointing out wonderful historic homes along the way, some of which are private residences, but as you drive by, you wonder about the story of the home. Now, you know I love that! Discovering folks like Lewis Buckner, an African-American master carpenter, cabinetmaker and home builder, who built more than 40 homes in the Sevierville area at the turn of the 20th century and each one is a work of art.

Wasn't wild about history in school, and now I'm jumping in head first.

Yet, most likely, I'm loving this project because of folks like Imogene, who reminded me of someone that would have been in my grandma's pinochle club. She works at Dandridge's Visitor Center and she practically hugged me for this effort to bring tourist to the town that she loves so much. She was a wealth of knowledge, and only fell slightly short on restaurant options, because she always cooks at home, which made the experience even better.

It's for folks like Nancy, who heads up the tourism efforts in Rogersville, another wonderful historic town. She grew up there all her life, gave me a wonderful walking tour and we enjoyed lunch at the Sweet Tooth Cafe, where she knew everyone in the place. It so reminded me of my hometown, Carterville, and made me envy the efforts made here that I wish my hometown would make. Later, we passed by some eager youth with papers in hand, and she asked them if they were making any progress. When we left them, she explained that she leads a youth group, and their assignment is community service in the downtown area and she had them on a mission. What a wonderful way to instill downtown pride.

And it's for the antique shop owners and servers at the wonderful "dive" restaurants, who offer a smile of gratitude when I mention they're included on the trail.

I could go on and on, but for now, I'll stop. But I will do a better job of posting these experiences, not only with a quick Facebook photo, but with a story on my blog. Right now, we're trying to finish up brochures for the White Lightning Trail (Knoxville to Cumberland Gap area), Sunny Side Trail (Great Smoky Mountain area to Northeast Tennessee) and Nashville's Trace (Tennessee portion of the National Byway - Natchez Trace, and our suggest loops off this historic road).

As I'm researching and traveling, I'll post some items on these journeys. I just finished riding a large portion of the Sunny Side Trail, made it as far as Bull's Gap (home of Hee Haw star, Archie Campbell, BTW) and will have to finish up in the next week or two.

For now, check out a blog that inspired me during my research, when looking for information on the replica childhood home of Dolly Parton, which is on the Sunny Side Trail. This happens to be a great blog for home lovers, so it was right up my alley.


Happy trails,
Jennifer

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