Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sacks Full of Loot

As everyone knows, this evening is Halloween or All Hallows Eve. It's the one time of the year where fantasy can come to life. We dress up in all sorts of costumes, walk a little on the wild side, and definitely look for new ways to scare ourselves or others.

So you may be asking why on Earth is a Halloween post is on an outdoor blog? The answer is simple, we have to go out the door to go trick or treating! Then there's always haunted houses, forests, and, nowadays, corn to explore. We always take time in October to visit a corn maze. It's a family tradition!

This year we scrambled our brains navigating Oakes Farm in Corryton, TN on the Northern outskirts of Knoxville. It was a ton of fun, as always, and the corn was so tall this year! But this post is not about that. I couldn't help but show off another silly pic of our girls though.

So back to trick or treating. This year the kiddos dressed as a skeleton and a zombie to go out for their loot. Wifey spent a couple of hours doing their make-up, and Ash's costume took her a few weeks to hand draw and sew.

As the light was fading, we hit the road in search of a neighborhood to pillage. Considering that All Hallows Eve fell on a Sunday this year, there were several counties, cities, and neighborhoods that decided to do the whole trick or treat thing on Saturday. (I don't know about you, but that is the silliest thing I've ever heard).

Luckily, we found a neighborhood not too far from home, and the race was on! We walked around, mostly staying behind the girls, letting them sack unsuspecting folks and loot their candy bowls. After a good two hours of raiding, the kiddos -- growing weary, but mostly just tired of all the caked on make-up -- walked away proud of their plunder. We made our way back to the house for make-up removal, pizza for supper, and candy sorting.

We hope that everyone had a wonderful and safe Halloween! Enjoy the candy, but beware the bellyache.

Happy Trails,
Tim and Robin

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What a mess!!

We've been working hard to make this place better for you!

So, kick back, relax, and grab a muffin while we gather our thoughts and sweep up the dust bunnies.

Coming soon:

A new look and a store to buy prints of the photos you love!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Newport's 25th Annual Harvest Street Festival and Carver's Apple Orchard and Restaurant

It was the last day of our annual unplugging, of course we had plugged back in to a certain extent when we got back from camping. With it being the last day of the holiday, and the kiddo was out of our hair, Wifey and I decided that we would head over to Newport, Tennessee for their 25th Annual Harvest Street Festival. The weather was beautiful and after the drive up to Erwin the day before we knew we would see some sites regardless. Besides, downtown Newport is a nice little town tucked away in the Smoky Mountains and right next to Cosby, where we rent a cabin for a weekend getaway every year.

So it was off to the festival to check out the crafts and goods, as well as look for good shots with the camera. I don't know if you know this or not however if you read the blog, or at least look at the pictures, then you can possibly ascertain that wifey is a bit of an amateur photog. I swear, if she wanted to, she could be pro in a heartbeat. I'm sure it's more the pictures than my writing that keeps everyone coming back.

Anyway, we spent a good hour or so at the festival walking around, taking in the sites. We even spent 2 dollars on some wonderful necklaces. That's right, we got 6 necklaces for two bucks. That's a bargain, a deal, maybe even possibly a steal. Of course the trip wouldn't be complete without checking out the main act that was performing this year. Mountain Edge, a bluegrass foursome, that apparently has quite the following. To be quite honest, they played exceptionally well. I can see why they have the following they do. By their last song, they had a few ladies up and out of their seat, clogging and dancing away. It was definitely worth the ride all the way out there just to see that.

With the festivities rapidly winding down, we decided to skip the festival food and look for something a little more appetizing, after all we were at a festival the day before and had funnel cake then. So we headed in the direction of Cosby, hoping to find something suitable to fill our bellies with, when we found ourselves in a familiar area. It was minutes later that we happened upon an apple orchard that we've passed several times in the past in our travels through Cosby, but were never able to stop before because it was either too late or off season. Today was different though. It was our lucky day. We happened to come across the Carver's Applehouse Restaurant and Orchard with a few hours of the business day left and a bit of money we felt we could part with, not to mention some hungry bellies.

Upon pulling in, we were amazed to see a little candy store, a produce market, and the restaurant. In addition, they had some really nice photo opportunities. Tons of interesting items around the orchard not to mention the orchard itself, right there with the Great Smoky Mountains as its backdrop. So we stopped in the candy store and there was a nice selection including Dolly Parton Choco pops. While we didn't indulge ourselves with those, we did grab a little bag of choco covered peanuts and a nice assortment of taffy. The nice lady at the counter even threw in a sample of cookies and cream fudge, which I might say was to die for.

Quite a few pictures later and we were headed to the produce market to check the different varieties of apples and gourds they grew at the orchard. If I remember correctly, the orchard has over 40,000 hand grafted apple trees and grow well over 40 types of apples almost year round. That's a lot of apples. After a bit of browsing, we decided on a 1/2 peck of Mount York apples and a 1/2 peck of Jonathan Apples, both of which are really good, and I'm still waiting for that apple pie wifey is planning on making.

Satisfied with our candy and apple purchases, it was time for some dinner. Into the restaurant we went, and the atmosphere couldn't have been more pleasant. The table we got was next to a window with a wonderful view of the orchard and a wonderful sunset playing out over and behind the mountains. The restaurant was very clean and the staff quite friendly. We placed our order and instead of bread or something like most restaurants bring out, they served us some hot apple fritters, apple butter, and a small cup of apple cider, all of which was absolutely scrumptious.

For supper, wifey ordered the veggie plate complete with mashed taters, pinto beans, green beans, and cinnamon apples. I ordered the BBQ sandwich with french fries. Of course we shared our meals with each other and between the two plates we had ourselves one fine meal and at a reasonable price.

With our bellies full, and our bounty in the trunk it was time to head back to the homestead and rest before rejoining society and the daily grind. I must say that it was truly a wonderful vacation/unplugging. It was definitely needed and we had an absolute blast spending time together as a family. I hope you enjoyed reading and seeing our adventure through words and pictures.

Don't worry there will plenty more out of doors adventures to come. You forget, Autumn is our most favorite time of year. However, I may throw you all for a loop with the next blog entry and start sharing some of our experiences in turning our homestead into a farm. At the moment we are in full swing of a small project to build a wood shed out of used wood pallets. I plan on posting our progress here. After all, it is an out of doors adventure/project. Oh and there will be other adventures coming soon as well. I can promise you that. Until then...

Happy Trails and God Bless,
Tim and Robin

A few more pics to delight the soul...
Dolly Choco Pop
Wifey in the orchard
It's Corn!!!
Mmmmm... Apples.
A nice little cabin on the farm.

Old Farm Equipment

More candy

Me in the orchard

One of the sunset views at the orchard

Another view from the table.
Look at all the apples.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Erwin Apple Festival - 2010

Last Saturday, October 2, 2010, which also happened to be the last weekend of our annual unplugging aka vacation, we headed up to Erwin, TN for their Annual Apple Festival. We had went last year and had an absolute blast so we knew we would go back this year.

It's this time of year that the quaint little towns in East Tennessee, and well I'd imagine everywhere else, are having their harvest/autumn festivals. All the artisan, crafters, farmers, food vendors, and the like show off their talents in beautiful, elegant displays. People from all around flock to see what goodies they can buy to decorate their abodes with, or what stocking stuffers they can find to check off one more person on their gift list.

Aside from the foods, crafts, and art, there are also musicians that play at these wonderful events too. Around here, the musical delights range from gospel to bluegrass, or jazz to school bands.Yes even musicians sometimes make instruments to sell at the festivals.

One of the greatest things about is always the food, particularly the fried with powdered sugar variety. Yes, every once in a while, we must allow small indulgences. Otherwise we might kill ourselves in an angry sugar craving lunatic fit if we don't allow ourselves to have a funnel cake. Especially if it's been 6 months or more since our last funnel cake.

Of course while you are in the midst of the festivities and crowds of people, sometimes you find the oddest little things, and sometimes you find the occasional treasure to take home for yourselves like the cute coffee mugs we picked up from Kim Ross. Heck, sometimes you just might have a grand ol' time and make some really fond memories. So if you haven't yet, make plans to get out to a festival really soon, maybe there's one near you this upcoming weekend. For the East Tennessee area, here is a site that keeps a very fresh, up-to-date list of happenings in our area, So if you happen to be in our neck of the woods or are planning to be soon check it out and plan some fun.

I can tell you this, you won't be disappointed with any of the festivals around here. Like I've said before, there's always a little something for everyone. The whole family should have a blast, get their bellies full, and wish they didn't have to leave. Anyway, enjoy the rest of the pics below and once you have the chance, get outdoors and explore the world around you. There is so much to see and experience. You'll be glad you did. Until next time...

Happy Trails and God Bless,
Tim and Robin

P.S. Sometimes the journey is just as good if not better than the destination.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Honey Creek Loop - Big South Fork NRRA

Wifey and I decided Thursday September 30, 2010 would be our big hiking day on our vacation. I had stumbled across the Honey Creek Loop trail, located in The Big South Fork NRRA, one day in my search of trails and absolutely knew that I wanted to do this trail. I had showed the trail to Robin and she seemed pretty excited too, yet a bit nervous about it all the same.

It had beauty and adventure written all over it. In my research, I saw that there were ladders and boulders to climb, and that it was rated difficult or strenuous. As a matter of fact, it was written that it was approximately a 5.5 mile loop and that you needed to give yourself an hour per mile. Now tell me if that doesn't spell adventure?

So Robin did more research and the research she did clued us in even more than the infinitesimal amount of research I did. Isn't she the greatest? See after her research, she was way more nervous than she originally was although even more excited.

I won't go into a whole lot of detail as I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Additionally there are a couple trail guides online that can do a much better job than I at giving you the low-down on the trail. I would highly suggest printing them out and taking them with you. They will definitely come in handy.

The trail guide we used:
A good write up on the trail:
A map and description provided by the National Park Service:

What I will tell you is this, if you are just the casual hiker this may not be the trail for you. However, if you are a junkie for adventure and challenge, then this, my friends, is just the trail that will satiate your appetite.

I've not gotten off the beaten path in most of the places I've visited before, so I really can't tell you for certain if there is anything more beautiful and untouched as the Honey Creek area of the Big South Fork. I can tell you this though, you will not regret doing this trail, unless you somehow manage to get lost in the few rhododendron hells that the trail takes you through, or you get careless, or you end up hurting yourself. However, the raw, natural beauty of this area is something to definitely behold.

For the faint of heart, do not despair, the road to the trail head continues to the Honey Creek Overlook where you can take in the breathtaking view of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Of course to those of us who like to get dirty, what fun is that? :P

So without further ado, I give you a glimpse into the beauty, ruggedness, adventure, and excitement this trail has to offer.

Burnt Mill Bridge.
(This is on the way to the Honey Creek Trailhead)
Yours truly, being silly.
Wifey enjoying the trail immensely.
Don't let the first half mile fool you.
It gets tough from here.

Wifey on a little foot bridge.
(Ain't she purdy?)
Our trusty, or is that crusty, Merrells
Yep, we hiked right along the creek bed.
Wifey and I at a small rock house prior to reaching the overlook.
A small taste of the natural beauty.
Just follow the orange arrows.
(And the green blazes, and yellow arrows...)
The first ladder to the overlook.
(There is another one just like this one immediately afterward.)
A stairway to the overlook.
After the ladders of course.
A view of God's Glory.
Part of Honey Creek
More of the beautiful Honey Creek.
We hiked alongside Honey Creek a good piece.
(Good thing it hadn't rained in a while. We would have been wet.)
Yes, we had to go through there.
This sign was on the ground leaning on a tree.
The first of several large rock houses.
(Be careful on the ladder. It used to be caged the whole way up at one point. However most of the cage is no longer present. Also the second to last step at the top is very loose, so check your footing.)
Wifey climbing the ladder to the rock house.
A view from inside the rock house.
The second large rock house.
No ladder needed for this one.
The third large rock house, AKA The Great Room
Inside the third rock house was a bunch of stacked rocks.
(Have you seen the Blair Witch Project?)
Need I say more?
Inside Boulder House Falls, you can actually walk in there.
Yep, we had to crawl through there too.
Treetop Rock.
(Just follow the arrows.)
Another pretty foot bridge.
You get the idea right?
Honey Creek Falls

So that's pretty much it. Like I said, it is a very technical and tough trail. Definitely do your research prior to going. The links I provided above should help you out tremendously. Constantly be on the look out for blazes and arrows. They will guide you through. And when I say be on the lookout for them, I mean stay on the lookout for them. Some of the arrows have been weathered so much that you can easily miss them. Enjoy the hike. I know we did. Until next time...

Happy Trails,
Tim and Robin

P.S. Stay tuned for the next entry of our annual unplugging, The Erwin Apple Festival.