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Driving down Interstate 26 last weekend, my mind resonated with everything I had ever heard (or learned) about Unicoi County and the town of Erwin.

Of course, there’s the incredible scenery…where you can see the ghosted peaks of the Unaka Mountain Range separating Tennessee and North Carolina. There’s the “Grand Canyon of the East,” a vastly deep gorge carved by thousands of years worth of flowing waters from the Nolichucky River. There’s that good old story of “Murderous Mary,” the crazed elephant that was hung from a railroad derrick…

And I wandered through every recollection I’d ever had about this place, there was one thing I just couldn’t seem to figure out: “What the heck is so special about apples anyway?” Read the rest of this entry »

Stopped into this great little antique store in downtown Newport, with all the old dishes, toys, photographs and jewelry you could imagine. The highlight of the stop: a museum-quality, civil-war-era “mourning dress,” which a lady would wear when her husband was killed in battle. It’s shown in the first couple of photos below.

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I’ve been to fresh-food markets before, but this one (in Cosby) even has its own restaurant, overlooking an orchard. Just look at that view.

Oh, and most orders come with “apple cider, apple fritters, apple butter, and apple-cider rolls.”

How ’bout them apples?

And over in the market, you can get everything from sweet potatoes to bananas to tomatoes, to…you guessed it…apples. Ah yes, and the fried apple pies are incredible.

And if you’re into southern hospitality, just look at that sign on the wall…

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Just stopped in Cosby at Holloway’s Country Home, and if you’re a quilter (or if you just enjoy quilts themselves), then this place has got to be on your list. The quilts they’ve made are amazing (and featured in all sorts of quilting magazines), and if you think you might be interested in doing your own, they’ve got quilting kits to get you started.

Take a look below.

SPECIAL TIDBITS: the fireplace (see photo) is original to a section of the house which was built in the 1700s! Also, next door is a “guest house” they’ll rent out to quilting groups. That’s right, just pack your fabric, your pajamas, and bring a few friends, and enjoy a weekend away.

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Just found this awesome little place on Highway 321 (Cosby Highway) between Gatlinburg and Newport. Its incredible. Master wood-carver Billy Orr has done work for Dollywood, and also does larger commissioned pieces. Or, if you really want to be blown away, stop by and see all the pieces in his road-side gallery!

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Just stopped at the Smoky Mountain Winery in Gatlinburg, the oldest winery in East Tennessee. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an a German Wine Cellar, complete with the hospitality you’ll only find on the Sunny Side of Tennessee.

This place has won a ton of awards in competitions across the country. In fact, they’ve only got one wine that hasn’t won a “Golden Glass” or some other kind of award or distinction (just give it time). The best seller is the Blackberry wine (try it out this summer), but they’ve got raspberry, strawberry, and all sorts of varieties of grape wines (most grown in the Dandridge area), including Muscadines (white and red), Rieslings, Vidal Blanc, American Niagara, and American Concord.

Everything I tasted was absolutely delicious, and just as appealing, they’re all affordable!

Many thanks to David Fowler, head winemaker, and Peggy Register and Kay Proffitt for their hospitality and great wines.

Treat yourself to the tastier side of Tennessee. You won’t be disappointed!

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