We have some incredible National Parks in this country.The most visited one is right here in the South and contains a glorious mountain range: The Great Smoky Mountains, aka The Smokies.Meet us at the table as we discuss this ridge that straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. We have partnered with our friends at ORCA to let you know about new product they are launching this week: the Traveler and Camper! Get a handle on your morning coffee with the ORCA Traveler, 24 ounces available to take your morning caffeine on the go. The Camper, ORCA's new insulated mug, holds up to 16ounces. Whether your commute is 10 feet to the couch or an hour into the office, you can depend on ORCA to keep that coffee the right temperature. State of the art drinkware designed, powder coated, and shipped out of Nashville, TN. Double walled, vacuum sealed, and seamless design that ensures your hot drinks stay hot, and your cold drinks are ice cold. Check them out: https://orcacoolers.com Points of Interest Referenced:
- Hike or Volunteer with Friends of the Smokies, https://friendsofthesmokies.org
- Cade’s Cove-gem that is not to be missed; 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road is a feast for the eyes. For enthusiasts of wildlife, wildflowers, and wildly diverse hiking trails (for all ages and levels)
- City of Townsend, https://exploretownsend.com
- Camp Little Arrow Outdoor Resort (Tiny Homes/Glamping), https://camplittlearrow.com
- Tuckaleechee Caverns of Townsend, TN. Known as the “Greatest Site Under the Smokies” are the highest rating Cave or Cavern of the Eastern United States. Carved inside the earth’s oldest mountain chain. https://tuckaleecheecaverns.com
- Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, GSMHeritageCenter.org
- The Celebration of Fireflies, a remarkable and rare phenomenon occurs sometime between mid-May and mid-June, https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/fireflies.htm
Want to connect?
- Join our Patreon Community of supporters for a Southern Sister Chat BONUS episode, perks and SWAG: https://www.patreon.com/steelmagnolias
- Sign up for our mailing list: https://mailchi.mp/e3cef217a5e7/sweetnews
- Instagram @SteelMagnoliasPodcast
We have some incredible national parks in this country. The most visited one is right here in the South and contains a glorious mountain range, the Great Smoky Mountains, also known as the Smokies. Meet us at the table as we discuss this ridge that straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.
I'm Lainie and I'm Laura Beth. And we are Steel Magnolias the strength of steel with the grace of a magnolia. We're here to have uplifting conversations about life in the South.
And we've got plenty of room at our table. So pull up a
Welcome back to Steel Magnolias podcast. Hey, before we jump into today's topic, I wanted to let you guys know that we have partnered with Orca, for this month, the month of April because they are launching some new products and I'm pretty excited about their products that we've already experienced. So these are sure to be great.
Yeah, I'm still carrying around my Christmas plaid Vino tumbler. Yeah, they call it the vino but I use it for my coffee. I guess they call it that because it looks like a stemless wine glass. Yes, it does. It keeps it so hot. Okay, temperature
matters with drinks! Yes, you want your hot hot or you want your cold cold. So, all of that matters. Yes. And so these two new products, the traveler and the camper. Did you think about that? It actually goes with our topic. You gotta have your coffee, that right temperature in the morning. It just is so important. And so these are double walled, they're vacuum sealed. A seamless design. Wonderful for just keeping those hot drinks hot. And some people's commute is what 10 feet to the couch. That's true these days. But some people still have that hour drive. Either way, you're good to go.
Even if you get locked in on work at a laptop at home, to have to get up and warm up your coffee. Such a pain can feel a little counterproductive. So yeah, it's so true. It's not like being at the Waffle House where they're just continually walking by. So it's important to get it right and then go sit down. Well, so their traveller is a 24 ounce. Yeah, so it's a little bigger. Where is the insulated mug? The camper is an insulated mug that holds 16 ounces. I am getting this camper. I'm getting the camper because it's a mug. It looks like a mug but it's functional. And they come out this week! So y'all, we'll be posting on our Instagram all about the two products that we're talking about now. And we're doing a giveaway. So you have to follow us on Instagram at Steel Magnolias podcast. For all the details on how to enter.
Ocra is based right here out of Nashville. I love that they come out of Nashville. Yes, natural fit for us.
So today we're talking about the Smokies, that's probably what I'll refer to them as for the duration of the podcast, but they are the Great Smoky Mountains. And you know, there is something about being in the mountains. I know a lot of people swing towards the beach more or museum or sightseeing types of trips, but there are some killer benefits to vacationing in the mountains. So many benefits. I even looked them up. I mean beyond health benefit, bonding relationally if you're with another person or a family, you know, like you're working through things together, you're figuring out how to set up camp together. You know, those sorts of bonding moments, hopefully not too many fights. Peace, just the peace of like bonding with nature and tranquility. Sure, I think yes. And my personal favorite is that it's cheaper than Disney. So there's that. I love that there's an ad for the Smokies that has a cell phone ringing and the caller ID says “the mountains”. How cute! Have you seen that? Like the mountains are calling-that is adorable. So yeah, so cute. We've been to the Smokies but it's been a while. So we're going to be just kind of, you know, talking through probably a lot of the trip planning questions that you might have, but you know, it is the most visited national park in the country. That's amazing and the entrance fee… free. Amazing! Now I think they're actually legally not able to charge. There's some sort of federal law that prevented the National Park Service from charging entrance fees where tolls are prohibited on primary park roads. So because new found Gap Road and the Little River Road are the primary roads in the Great Smoky Mountains, to this day, they're unable to charge an entrance fee. So I will say this, there are millions of people that come to this park annually. And they are feeling that this is just kind of what I'm gathering, you know, with trash and just the wear and tear of maintaining the roads. Yeah. So they are thinking about charging for parking, okay. But I even think that's probably going to be pretty minimal. So this is, even our little way to give a call that if you're in a position to throw in a donation, do it. Yeah, that's true.
So the Smokies are named for the blue mist that seems to hover around the peaks of the of the mountains. The Cherokee called them place of the blue smoke. The Cherokees being the original settlers of this area. So a little history between Knoxville, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina, there were quite a bit of notable contributors between those two cities of people that advocated for this to become a park. Okay, which I just forget about. I'm like, oh, yeah, there was a time where I wasn't a park. And it primarily happened between the mid 1920s to 1930s. So there's a guy named Colonel David Chapman, he played a leading role in bringing the idea of a park to fruition, especially on the Tennessee side, because like we said in our intro, this straddles North Carolina and Tennessee. So the period of like 1923 to 1925. That was a particularly crucial time in recruiting advocates who would push this goal and there was a lady named, Ann Davis, who entered politics in 1924 and was elected the first female from Knox County to serve in the Tennessee State House of Representatives. So she's in the mix of this. She was an advocate for the making of a park but I just thought this was a really cool mix of people. And again, these are just some of the ones that I found in doing some research. I'm sure there were droves of people that put some blood, sweat and tears into the work. But you had a backpacker named Paul Fink, there was an early settler settler named Horace, Kephart, a Japanese photographer George Massa, Knoxville Mayor Ben Morton, North Carolina State Senator Mark Squires, Knoxville photographer Jim Thompson, and editor and copublisher of the Asheville Citizen Times Charles A. Webb. So, all key players- that's how you get stuff done. You pull influence from everybody from those that have been walking the park to those that have Senate offices, to those taking photos of it. Yes, exactly. But President Franklin D Roosevelt is the President that actually dedicated the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on September 2 1940, for the permanent “enjoyment of the people”, he’s quoted as saying, Well, isn't it sweet when you hear about any kind of land trust or park or something that is going to maintain the beauty? The natural beauty because as we're watching, even in our little town here, so much building is happening. Yes, it is. And it affects everything. Yeah. water drainage problems to wildlife problems when there's so much concrete and anyway, I'm so grateful when there’s preservation. One thing effects everything else, right? We've even been feeling like we hear that word ecosystem everywhere lately. So yeah, I mean, again, stepping back and remembering Okay, yeah, it wasn't always a park. But yeah, even buying the land was difficult, even with money in hand. So think back to our episode on the TVA, where Roosevelt and his new deal. They were working through the Great Depression, trying to bring a solution to people to get out of these floodplains and that required moving people and they didn't want to move. And there was I never know sticklers out there that you know. Anyway, if you want to listen to that, that was a interesting episode. So kind of the same scenario here. There were 1000s of small farms and just different people that were in the mix here. It wasn't just Oh, yeah. And even timber and paper companies had valuable equipment and were very established just more than it. When I started thinking about it. I was like, oh, yeah, it's more than just putting a sign up and saying, This is open to the public. We'll put down some paved trails for y'all to walk on. So yeah, I mean, by 1934, the state of Tennessee, North Carolina had transferred deeds for 300,000 acres to the federal government. Okay. It's a lot of land. I actually feel like we mentioned Roosevelt, quite a bit on here. But he was pretty integral in the TVA piece and the New Deal was big for the South. Yeah. And I didn't even realize or remember till recently that he served four terms! That gives you a lot of time to get stuff done. So that's why we mentioned him, probably even more than other presidents because it's like twice the presidency, potentially. So yeah, he served from 1933 to 1945. There was also so much changing in our world in that time too. Okay, so on July 18 1940, it was unprecedented history and precedent for him to even take a third term. So his farewell address states that it was because of his age, but his successor saw it as necessary defense against monarchy is what I read. Okay, so anyway, there were no formal laws written about term limits. And when World War Two broke out in Europe, Roosevelt agreed to run for a third and then fourth term. So that's how that'll happen.
Anyway, I wanted to mention money raised for the park because everyone from schoolchildren collecting pennies to the Rockefellers donating millions. I mean, all people from all walks of life stepped up to supplement state funds needed to purchase the lands that were then eventually transferred to the National Park Service. So just donating that's the sweetest like that. Well, probably bigger percentage of what they had than the Rockefellers millions. Well, for sure. And I would just think that that's cool. Thinking of when it was dedicated by Roosevelt, him saying for the permanent enjoyment of the people, like, you know, it was pretty much everybody that had pitched in all different walks of life. So I just thought that was cool. So let's talk about some things we could do in the park. So camping for one, I'm sure a lot of people think about camping. If you're into that sort of thing. Well, there's all kinds of different Yes. Some things you can do accommodation wise from just a tent camp to a little what do they call it, Tiny House? There's all different kinds of things you can do now, yes. And you can do what they call back country camping, meaning you've you're not parked at the car, you are hiking up into a destination that's marked and I've done back country camping one time, we never made it to the destination spot. So we just kind of camped where we camped because it was like nightfall, and I'm just gonna say right now, I'm not a fan of that at all a fan of that. And I am not too proud to do what they call front country camping, which is camping near your car. Yeah, I'm not afraid and No, no shame. So yeah, there's you know, there's campsites with the typical Fire, fire grate, and picnic table, and you can do it that way. That is pretty fun though. Because it's like, there's some things already established for you. Um, not having to cut wood and yeah, rub sticks together. Yeah, there's large campgrounds too. If you've got a group, a big group, or, you know, like eight or more people, I think is what they consider a group. So yeah, there's areas and facilities for even large groups and I’ve got to have a shower. I'm not doing the Yeah, I need to toilet and yeah, if I'm camping. Yes, exactly. What else hiking, hiking, obviously. I mean, a very popular thing there. I would say just go ahead and get with a local guide. Friends of the Smokies is a group that does guided hikes. So they know their way they can help give you all the tips. I mean, there are black bears and like there's things you need to know you know how to maneuver. And so don't just take this flippantly. Well, so you mentioned bears my first time seeing a black bear was So they're all over that area. So again, they have babies. It's the cutest thing you've ever seen, but mamas are protective. So I saw the baby and then I was like, Oh my God, there's a moment somewhere. Yeah, and this was very far away, but it still had me shaking a little bit. And since this is Forest primarily, it can be a little hard to see wildlife because it's so densely forest so there's some open areas of the park. One example is like an area called Cades Cove. Yes, that offers some of the better opportunities to see like deer, elk, black bear, like we said, Turkeys
Well, I would say that that's actually a gem that should not be missed. Cades Cove I mean, it's beautiful. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. If you're into wildflowers or wildlife, you know, hiking, that's definitely nice. Yeah, on that on a trip to the Smokies and for all ages and levels, right. There's things to do, right. You can drive so much of this park and I will say it is a doozy. Whether you're a passenger or you are driving probably white knuckling the steering wheel, it could be hard to not get carsick. This is actually the first place I remember getting carsick. Okay, well, I'm very prone to that. So you are yes, you need to be in the front. Yeah, so bring a Sprite or ginger ale seriously. And there are crazy cyclists it's not recommended I'm talking I'm talking bicyclist actually I know there's motorcyclists that do it too. But the the real ones that are so dangerous are the bicyclists and there is steep terrain. You know, coming around her. I wouldn't even do it for the strenuousness of it but it seems so unsafe but it is they are out there so it is quite the experience to drink that is why motorcyclists like it too, because of the curves like that. Yes. Oh, they love con Yes. Bicycling. Yeah, so just giving you a heads up you know, we talked I feel like that we kind of talked about this when we had our episode on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Yes, yes. We talked about driving and motorcyclists and all that the Blue Ridge Parkway is the scenic motor route extending 469 Miles primarily through the Blue Ridge segment of the Appalachian Mountains, which is in the western portion of Virginia, and North Carolina. So the Smokies are a sub range of the Appalachian Mountains, and they form part of the Blue Ridge province, if that makes sense. So, if you want to know a lot about even the Blue Ridge Parkway, we did a whole episode on that too. You can fish! Lots of fishing for men and women to dive into. This park has about 2900 miles of streams within its boundaries. I'm gonna say that again. 2900 miles of streams within its boundaries. And approximately 20% of the park streams are large enough to support trout populations, which lots of people like to fish for trout. Yes, fishing is permitted year round in the park from 30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset. So fishing is allowed in all the streams you do entry have to get a permit. Yeah, that would be the case. Anywhere no matter where you are fishing.Yeah, that's right. Yeah. In fact, yeah, sometimes that's something you don't think about and you need to get done ahead of time. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Look into all of that. Golfers will be pleased as well to know there's 18 holes at the Wild Laurel golf course, near Townsend. Yeah, and I wanted to mention Townsend, it's called the peaceful side of the Smokies. Not the hubbub of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge you're not going to have all of the shops and shows. No strip of places with souvenirs and family packed restaurants. Which, there's nothing wrong, whatever your thing is. Not that there's anything wrong with that-ha ha. Townsend would be a lot more my speed.
Is that where BlackBerry farm is? outside of Townsend?
It is outside of Maryville, in Walland,Tennessee. I have not been to Blackberry Farm. I looked into going, but it was a little out of my league. I knew when Matt Lauer went with the today show that I probably wouldn't be staying there anytime soon. I have heard if you are able to make that trip that they do a spectacular job on everything they do, but Townsend is just seems like it's got really good restaurants and yeah, you know if you're wanting to hike but not get into all of the busyness that is Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, it might be a good option. There's also a little I wanted to mention this, maybe we can put it in the show notes. Camp Little Arrow. That sounds cute. A client of mine goes there often and they love it. There's different options of the places you can stay but they have tiny houses, they have cabins. Looks like a really neat option if you want that outdoorsy kind of adventure, but you need a little more luxury. Now I'm talking better. You may. Yes. Because their cabins have like heating and air conditioning and a bed. Oh plush bed. Okay. Yes. Because people my back started hurting as soon as cable but I don't need cable. No, you know what I mean? Yeah, but to have, you know, a nice bathroom in Yeah, to get in after your hikes. That's pretty wonderful. So that might be a good option. And you can also follow them on Instagram. I think another good resource if you're making a trip to the Smokies is the it's je s m heritage. center.org. So Great Smoky Mountain heritage center.org. They have like a little historical village. They try to do some like cultural, you know, maintaining some of the that's cool during history of the area. They have permanent exhibits and some rotating exhibits. But they also have some concerts that happen on the property there. Okay, so that might be a good resource if you're wanting to plan a trip. Okay, check out their calendar. Okay. Oh, that's fun goings on with the Heritage Center. That's so fun. I forgot to mention this earlier, if you do like hiking, and maybe even you live near this area, that Friends of the Smokies that I mentioned that does the guided hikes that so they're a nonprofit organization and they oftentimes are looking for volunteers to hike at least one designated trail and submit a report on your finding. I don't even know what all kinds of things that would entail but that could be fun too for somebody that is really into hiking absolute and wants to find a place to serve.
I also want to mention the Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend. Now, this is called the greatest site under the Smokies. And I was thinking this could even be a fun thing to do on a rainy day. Like if you're up there and it's a rainy day because in these caverns, you're kind of indoors. It's true. You're covered under outdoors but indoor dripping here in there. Yeah, lots of stalactites and stalagmites. Remember those? You know from the drips, but pretty much you'd be dry on a rainy day. It's also the highest rated cave or cavern of the eastern United States. So there you go. That's a metal.
We've talked about this once before, but there's the celebration of fireflies. Yes. I'm so glad you're mentioning this. Yes. So it's mid May to mid June. Yes. And it's this like remarkable and rare phenomenon that happens where these fireflies get synchronized. Yes. It's like a mating call kind of a thing that's happening. It's supposed to be absolutely beautiful. But you do have to have reserved tickets. Yeah, because they have to not have hordes of people right? And there's rules like I think you have to have some kind of cover over your flashlight or something so trying to not interrupt the habitat. Yeah, that's happened everybody's got their cell phone out there taking pictures and running flashes. Yeah. Anyway, that's something I would love to see. It looks like from picture from clips I've seen like almost literally magical, symphonic, rhythmic beauty. Yeah, that's cool and streaming it does not do it justice. Do you remember we tried to stream something and it ended up basically being like a nerd talking about? It was like it was a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the firefly. Not what we were looking for, not what we were looking for at all.
Yeah, so I mean, overall, just an incredible Park to get to visit. It's, you know, it's East Tennessee. So it's going to be drivable for a lot of people. Yes. And yeah, I mean, I didn't even mention like horseback riding, you know, he said, fishing, hiking, camping, golfing, I’m sure this even glamping we didn't, we didn't use that word. But if that's still a thing, I'm sure there's some glamping out there, but really, really stellar park. There's a reason that it's the most visited out there, they keep it up well and just can't recommend it enough. So I hope that gives you guys sort of an overview of the park and if you haven't already, be sure to follow us on Instagram for our giveaway this week of the Orca product - the Traveler and the Camper that you can take to the Smokies. Well, the mountains may be calling and you may get to enjoy that beautiful peaceful scenery. But if you're not going to get to go right away, I still want to say peace be with you, Laura Beth, thank you and also with y’all.