It is Time for a Nice, Relaxing Getaway!

As I look back on our active, jam packed summer and the hectic weeks during the beginning of school, I think it is time for mom and dad to get away for a little relaxation. The all too often fast paced work and parenting schedules can at often times leave you feeling pretty worn out. A change of pace and scenery does everyone good! As we are beginning to transition into the fall season, it is the perfect time for a little getaway. Pigeon Forge is just the place for some peaceful and relaxing down time.

The temperatures are starting to drop and cozying up in the comforts of a cabin or chalet sounds like a great place to begin a getaway. Most of the area cabins are located away from the hustle and bustle of the city which makes for a quiet, peaceful stay. Whether you are enjoying time on the porch drinking coffee together and taking in the scenery, snuggling up near the fireplace enjoying a movie, or hanging out in the hot tub, you are sure to find some quality “R & R” time.

Let the Fun Time Trolley be the chauffeur for your trip. It is inexpensive and truly the way to go!! With routes that span the entire city as well as to and from Dollywood, all you have to do is park your car, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

As far as entertainment, you won’t have to look far. The National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration has begun at Dollywood. There are daily concerts featuring top name Southern Gospel artists and there are crafters galore with their fine work on display. Another great choice is the shows at Smoky Mountain Opry, Country Tonite, or Dixie Stampede. These top rated shows are a perfect choice for an evening out. You might also want to make a stop at the Island where you can relax in the rockers and watch the Island Fountains or take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.

When you are feeling hungry, great restaurants like Alamo Steakhouse, Bullfish Grill, and Old Mill Restaurant are waiting to serve you. They have menus that are sure to please every appetite. The best part is that you will not have clean up or dish duty that night!!

So if you are feeling like it is time to get away, pack your bags and head off to Pigeon Forge!

Mountain Life Festival

Fall festivals are a big deal in the Smoky Mountains. Visitors coming to Pigeon Forge will have an abundance of these festivals to choose from in the coming weeks but one of the earliest of these starts this Saturday, September 20 just over the mountains at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Mountain Life Festival is an old-time celebration of the fall harvest. Park staff and volunteers will come together to demonstrate the old mountain methods of making apple cider, apple butter, sorghum molasses, woven chair bottoms, lye soap, blacksmithing and more. The festival will start at 10 a.m. and last until 4 p.m.

For traditional Appalachian music lovers there will be all sorts of musicians on hand to provide entertainment.

The Mountain Farm Museum next to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center is an incredible place to learn about the lives of the early inhabitants of the Smokies. During this celebration the museum and the surrounding areas will be full of fun and informative demonstrations. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of fall in the Smoky Mountains.

The Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum are located on Newfound Gap Rd. (U.S. Highway 441) two miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina.

BLM Announces Experienced Land Manager as New Eastern States Director

Group Dining Does Not Have to be a Headache

Dining choices for a family can sometimes be a challenge…so needless to say, even more challenging for a large group. However, with a little extra planning and a little patience, it can be no big deal! Pigeon Forge has so many great food options and the great hospitality of the city can make your dining experience a pleasure regardless of your group size.

During our recent trip with four softball teams and their families, the dining options of the city were definitely put to the test throughout our week long stay. Some families chose to buy groceries, cook at their cabins, and enjoy fellowship together in a more private way. Others wanted to truly enjoy vacation and not have to worry about cooking or cleaning up. So, they chose to have dinner out at many places throughout the city. We learned that with a larger group, calling ahead to let them know of the party size was a great help- for us and them. This way, we knew before heading out what the probable wait time was and how busy they were at the present time. Some of the restaurants let us make reservations which also helped us avoid a long wait. As much as our schedules allowed, our families also tried to eat at off times… lunch after the typical 11 am-1 pm rush and dinner before the typical 6 pm rush.

On several occasions, families went for the entertainment/dinner combo. Some of the top picks were Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show, Dixie Stampede, and Lumberjack Feud. Dinner shows are a great option for those traveling with kids and even for a whole team activity. During the summer/peak season, most of them offer multiple shows each day. That was a great bonus in allowing for some flexibility with our hectic team schedules.

Other top dining choices amongst our families during the week were:

Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que- You can’t beat their great Southern slow smoked BBQ!

Mama’s Farmhouse- This is a great place to share a family style meal!

Old Mill Restaurant- Here you get a taste of Southern comfort food at its best!

Pottery House Cafe and Grille- This is another great comfort food option!

Big Daddy Pizzeria- You can never go wrong with pizza for groups involving kids!

Timberwood Grill- Great place to enjoy dinner while also taking in the Island!

Mel’s Diner- This place serves great American food in a classic diner setting…Fun times!

Alamo Steakhouse- This is the place to go if your group has big appetites!

A couple of the newest restaurants to hit Pigeon Forge are Hard Rock Cafe and Margaritaville. Our families enjoyed all that these 2 great places had to offer too from atmosphere to food and just plain ‘ole good times with family and friends.

Don’t let your group size scare you away from dining at any of the great places in Pigeon Forge. They are waiting to welcome you in!

Veteran Land Manager Timothy Murphy Named as BLM’s Idaho Condition Director

Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze today introduced the appointment of veteran land manager Timothy Murphy because the BLM&rsquos Condition Director in Idaho.&nbsp Murphy continues to be acting able since August 2013.&nbsp Just before his current assignment, he offered as assistant director for fire and aviation in the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise.
&ldquoI&rsquove been fortunate to operate carefully with Tim since i have became a member of the BLM,&rdquo stated Kornze.&nbsp &ldquoHis steady hands at both NIFC and BLM Idaho makes him a vital person in our leadership team.&nbsp Tim&rsquos thorough understanding of resource management issues and the shown capability to build effective close ties with public land stakeholders lead him to the best choice to do the job.&rdquo
Murphy, that has 34-many years of public service using the BLM, started his Federal career in 1978 using the U.S. Forest Service like a firemen around the Bridger-Teton National Forest.&nbsp In 1980, Murphy found work with the BLM like a range conservationist in Rock Springs, Wyoming, before becoming a supervisory range conservationist within the Caliente Resource Area in Nevada.&nbsp Murphy ongoing his career in Boise State Broncos, where he required on projects as assistant area manager within the Carlsbad Resource Area so that as area manager in Las Cruces.&nbsp After that, Murphy gone to live in Montana to guide the Miles City office as district manager before going to Boise, where he labored in a number of managing positions at NIFC that culminated in the service as assistant director.
Murphy gained a Bs degree in Agriculture and Rangeland Science in the College of Wyoming in Laramie.&nbsp Murphy and the wife, Mary, have three children.&nbsp He’s active in a number of community organizations, such as the Civil Air Patrol.

Public Listening Periods on BLM Planning 2. Initiative Slated for Colorado and Sacramento

Temporary Single Lane Closure On Newfound Gap Road

If you plan on heading to the tops of the Smokies sometime this month, be on the lookout for some construction work on Newfound Gap Road at the Morton Mountain Tunnel, 12 miles south of Sugarlands Visitor Center and Park Headquarters. This project is scheduled from Sept. 2 through Sept. 27.

The tunnel, situated between the Alum Cave trail parking area and Newfound Gap, is undergoing repairs after a leak caused significant damage.

The construction will require a full time single-lane closure for a 0.25-mile stretch. A temporary traffic signal will be used to control traffic flow. When the road is at its busiest (7:00 a.m. through 9:00 p.m. on weekends) flaggers will manually direct traffic.

During a particularly bad stretch of cold weather last winter, the leak in the tunnel led to the formation of large icicles and ice accumulation on the road. Over the course of the project drainage pipes will be installed in the walls and ceiling to prevent similar damage from occurring in the future.

It’s important to always be aware of road closures and conditions in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To check on these, visit and follow official NPS road status updates on Twitter at

Nominations Open for Wild Equine and Burro Advisory Board

Deer in the Smokies

Have you ever seen a deer in Cades Cove? Chances are if you’ve ever been there you’ve likely spotted a white-tailed deer. The best time to look for deer is usually in autumn when bucks are out and about fighting for the right to mate, but seeing deer in summer might be just as fulfilling.

White-tailed deer change their appearance annually. In the late summer months most of them have shiny reddish coats. The males have antlers that are covered with “velvet”. The velvet is a type of skin which provides nutrients to the antlers to promote their growth. Eventually, bucks will shed the velvet to reveal the familiar-looking white antlers.

After the mating season is over, the antlers will break off at the base and a new (typically fuller) pair of antlers will grow.

In Cades Cove deer typically give birth in late June, meaning that most fawns are nearly two months of age at this point. Fawns are noted for the small white dots scattered on their coat. This camouflage serves as their only real defense against would-be predators. If you’re fortunate, you just might be able to catch a glimpse of a doe and fawn on your next visit!