Monday, September 29, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Autumn Splendor

This is where I live...jealous?
As many of you know, moving to the remote mountains of Tennessee has been a huge adjustment for this Atlanta girl. It has definitely had its challenges. Some things I expected to miss, like Target, Ann Taylor, Starbucks, and generally just any decent place to shop. Some things I did not expect, like having to go to four different grocery stores to get ingredients for one dish because no one grocery carries everything. The day I asked a supermarket employee for pesto and he had to call a conference with five other employees who kept taking me to the Mexican food section, I almost packed up and moved home. But, one time when I completely, totally LOVE where we live is the Fall. We live in the Cumberland Mountains, at Cumberland Gap where Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia meet. Cumberland Gap is called, "The Gateway to the West" and is where Daniel Boone and other settlers passed through the Appalachians. It is steeped in history and beauty. Almost every fall, Southern Living features the Cumberland Gap in its September or October issue has having some of the most beautiful scenery. Here is this month's article:

Three Favorites Trips for Fall
Our Travel editors share their favorite fall places to visit

Hand-hewn wooden fences once kept livestock from the fields. Now they corral the colors of the season.

Sometimes we find fall in unexpected places. When we do, we like to tell you about our discoveries. These spots make the region proud when it comes to blazing color. You’ll also experience so much more than the brilliant foliage. One of Kentucky’s highest points shelters buildings from a long-gone settlement, along with an unparalleled view. An upscale South Carolina city harbors an amazing urban park in its midst. And Oklahoma offers up a lively festival to match the crisp air. Give these fall destinations a try; you’ll find them worthy of further exploration this harvest season.

1. Cumberland Gap, KY
by Les Thomas

When I travel, I like to be comfortable. I would have made a lousy pioneer. But as I stand in their footsteps in the embrace of the Cumberland Gap on this autumn morning, I realize I have something in common with them. They didn’t like crowds either. That’s why I slipped away to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, where Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia meet. I wanted to leave the bustle of the city for a getaway that isn’t overrun with tourists.

Room To Roam
“This park is a gem off the beaten path. We get a lot of people who are trying to escape the crowds of the Smokies,” ranger Scott Teodorski says. “It’s a nice piece of wild mountains.”
It was a snap to get here. I only had to drive two hours on the interstate south of Lexington, Kentucky, and then take an easy 20-minute walk to stand in the saddle of America’s first mountain retreat. Up to 300,000 pioneers—ancestors to millions of us in the South—passed this way. I watch a lacy curtain of clouds melt away and think of what this view once meant to them. It was the promise of a new frontier. “It’s hard to imagine Kentucky being the Wild West,” says Scott, “but in those days it was.”
Mighty efforts have gone into restoring the wilderness during the past 10 years. The largest project rerouted U.S. 25E through a nearly mile-long tunnel so the Cumberland Gap could return to the rustic path it once was. More than half of the national park’s 24,000 acres is wilderness.

Discover a Lost Village
One morning, I head over to the national park to see a secret place that many travelers often miss. The gap is the centerpiece of the park, but part of its soul rests atop one of Kentucky’s highest mountains, where Scott and other rangers take visitors on guided tours. We drive to Hensley Settlement on a winding gravel road that makes the Blue Ridge Parkway seem like a superhighway. A sourwood tree, bright as a Roman candle, gleams in the light that bathes a rustic schoolhouse and the weathered cabins of the settlers who once lived here. “The thing that makes it unique is that it’s isolated even to this day,” Scott says. “The solitude is wonderful.”
Autumn whispers a benediction over these mountains. Sunlight dances on tawny meadows. On a day like this one, it’s paradise.

Going to the Gap
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park: U.S. 25E, P.O. Box 1848, Middlesboro, KY 40965; or (606) 248-2817. Visitors center hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Tours to Hensley Settlement continue daily through October 31. Reservations are required. Admission: $10 adults, $5 ages 12 and under. Bring bottled water, snacks, warm clothing, and comfortable shoes. The tour lasts about four hours.

Web Exclusive:

Autumn Activities
October 3-5—Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival: Middlesboro Arts and crafts festival with live entertainment, kids’ stage, petting zoo, and lots of food;
October 11 and October 18—Elk Viewing Tour: Pineville Guided elk tours at Pine Mountain State Resort Park; or (606) 337-3066.

Interpretive Center at Pine Mountain State Resort Park: Learn about the area of Pine Mountain, the wildlife, and the plants that turn golden in fall. An interactive kiosk and exhibits help tell the story of the park; or (606) 337-3066.
Gap Cave Tours: Explore a cave, along with park rangers, on this 1.5 mile tour located at the Cumberland Gap. Two hours of stalagmites, cascades, and maybe a bat or two await. No children under 5. Tickets: $8 adult, $4 ages 5-12; or (606) 248-2817.
Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum: Just a few minutes away in Harrogate, Tennessee, sits a repository filled with amazing Abraham Lincoln memorabilia. Included in the artifacts are the cane Lincoln carried to Ford’s Theatre and a tea set belonging to Lincoln and wife Mary Todd; 6965 Cumberland Gap Parkway, Harrogate, TN; or (423) 869-6235.

Holiday Inn Express: 1252 North 12th Street, Middlesboro, KY 40965; (606) 248-6860. Rates start at $79.95.
Pine Mountain State Resort Park: U.S. 25E, 2 miles south of Pineville; (606) 337-3066. Rates start at $104.95.

Avenue Café & Antiques: 1915 West Cumberland Avenue, Middlesboro, KY; (606) 248-3958. Known for its daily specials and home cooking, this bistro also has great knickknacks and antiques for sale. Try the homemade chicken salad and soup.
The Flocoe: 122 West Kentucky Avenue, Pineville, KY; (606) 337-2034. Another local favorite, this spot offers down-home cooking at its finest. Don’t miss the chicken and dumplings.
Webb’s Country Kitchen: 527 Colwyn Avenue, Cumberland Gap, TN 37724; (423) 869-5877. This is biscuits-and-gravy land. Open for three meals a day; check out the Pinto Special at lunch, which comes with beans, greens, fried potatoes, cornbread, and onions.

Nothins Perfect Craft Store: 521 Colwyn Avenue, Cumberland Gap, TN 37724; or (423) 869-4410. Pick up some primitive dolls, candles, or potpourri.
The Cumberland Gap General Store: 503 Colwyn Avenue, Cumberland Gap, TN; or (423) 869-2282. More than 6,000 items fill this fun spot, including chimes, gnomes, teddy bears, and kitchen items.

Ben and have have explored most of the places mentioned in this article. The Hensley Settlement was one of the first places we went, and the drive to get there is even more harrowing than the article allows! If you have October's issue of Southern Living, you should read the article, is has more pictures, including one of the Pinnacle Overlook which we visit often. In fact, the picture on the right column of my blog of the tri-state peak is taken from the Overlook!

An even better article to read on the area was published in 2002, you may have to manually type it in, or you can also just to to and search Cumberland Gap, it will bring up all the related articles.

The mornings here are chilly and breezy; the sunshine has changed from the harsh, glaring yellow of a summer grown old to the beautiful deep golden hue of fall; the produce stands are filled with 'mums and pumpkins. During my morning commute I see lovely rolling hills with the hints of yellow and red. When I arrive at work I climb a hill and see the green quad stretching out before me, the breeze gently weaving in and out of the trees, singing songs of autumn. An overwhelming peace and happiness overcomes me. I feel God at my side, and I know I am indeed blessed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dime Decorating Diva

I've been trying to get better at putting together a home on a very limited budget. My decorating talent normally consists of picking out which page in the Pottery Barn catalog I want my house to look like. It is so important to me that Ben and I have a warm and inviting place to come to together at the end of the day, and that takes talent on our funds! My home isn't exactly ready to feature on the pages of Southern Living, but here are a few of my favorite spaces so far. . .

Living Room



Reese Witherspoon, a Tennessee Belle, was asked in an interview one time if there was a difference between Southern women and Northern women. She responded, "I think Southern women like to have a lot of things monogrammed". I found that hilarious because I like to put monograms where ever I can, as you can see by the bedding! Can't fight the roots!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Justin Timothy Arwood , Welcome to the World!

My cousin Heather gave birth to her fourth child, Justin Timothy Arwood, on September 14th! He was born at 36 weeks and 1 day, and after a few problems and nine days in NICU, he was able to go home today! He has two older brothers and one older sister and he looks just like they did when they were born. I borrowed these pictures from Heather's blog to share, I hope she doesn't mind! For more pictures and updates on Baby Justin and the rest of the Arwood clan, click on Arwood Adventures on the right of my page.

I had to post this one, this is Heather updating her blog a little over an hour before giving birth! Now that's blogger commitment!!
Hello world, I'm here!
In the NICU, sweet boy.
At home at last, all six of the Arwoods finally together!

We have been praying hard this past week and are so thrilled the Arwoods are all at home, happy and healthy! Congratulations Heather and Nate on another beautiful addition!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Book Club

Through the Student Advocate Association at the med school (a group made up of the families and communities of medical students) I assisted in beginning a book club. I was so excited to do something like this because I love to read and I'm always looking for suggestions for great books. Eight of us met this month at my house and enjoyed yummy snacks and great conversation! The first book we read was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseni. It was a wonderful book, although very difficult to get through. It dealt with very dark issues, and reminded me how lucky I am to have the family I do and to have grown up in this amazing country.
We meet again next month at Savannah Edwards' home and we'll be discussing The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. I'm looking forward to new friends and new books this year!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Baby Shower Weekend!

Our family is very blessed with LOTS of babies, and I mean LOTS of babies! I was able to go to Atlanta for two baby showers, one for my sister-in-law Mandy and one for my cousin Jennifer. It was so great to get to see the mommies-to-be, family, and other new babies that had arrived! I stayed at my Dad's in Atlanta and got some quality time with him, my step-mom Cindy, and little sister Taylor. I know Dad and Cindy loved having both me and Taylor there since we are undoubtedly the favorite children!

Sister Taylor and sister-in-law Mandy at her shower.
Sweet Baby Caroline, 3 weeks old!
The only 3 Robinson girls in the last 28 years! Me with Chris and Tiffany's daughters, Christina and Caroline. They are such beautiful girls!
Mandy with the two soon-to-be grandmothers!
Me and my beautiful little sister Taylor!

Mommy to be Jennifer at her shower!
My new cousin...Marc and Jessica's baby Malachi (Blog, Dewberry-Daze)!
Jessi holding her baby cousin, she's such a pretty little lady!
Malachi trying to give me a kiss! Actually, he was just making this face because Aunt Krista had taken his paci out of his mouth for the picture.
Mommies-to-be, cousins Heather (Blog, Arwood Adventures), Erin (Blog, Special Delivery), and Jennifer (Jennifer, you need a blog!).