Eclipse Madness (and Other Natural Phenomena)!

As locals know, Tennessee is no stranger to awe-inspiring natural events and features.

The total eclipse of the sun, visible at totality in many locations here in East Tennessee, is just three days away!

People from around the country are flocking to our area to view this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. We’re hoping for good weather to view the eclipse. If you’re planning to get a glimpse of the eclipse, please keep in mind that not all eclipse glasses are equal. Get NASA-approved lenses if you’re going to stare up into the sky on August 21!

Also, be aware that interstates and highways are going to be choked with traffic. Between out-of-town eclipse-chasers and locals trying to get the best view, there is an extremely high volume of vehicles expected to be out and about over the next several days. You don’t want to be stuck in a wreck instead of witnessing one of the most noteworthy scientific events of our time!

As locals know, Tennessee is no stranger to awe-inspiring natural events and features. To prove it, we’ve listed a few below.

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Synchronized Fireflies

Every summer, in a specific location in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a breed of fireflies get together for a unique light show. These little guys glow frenetically for several seconds before total darkness descends in the woods, almost like a firefly switch getting flicked off. Then they start back up again! You can witness the synchronized fireflies yourself, but you have to get on a waiting list. After all, if everybody went tramping around in the woods after these little glowy guys, they’d probably be crushed into extinction. Check out the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website to find out more.

Wildlife

Black bears, white-tailed deer, owls, skunks, coyote, turkey, bobcats and painters (mountain lions) … even though the great herds of buffalo and elk were moved on when people moved in generations ago, Tennessee is still home to an amazingly diverse roster of wildlife. Even in neighborhoods closer to urban areas, turkey, deer and even bear sightings aren’t at all unusual!

New Madrid Earthquakes

Reelfoot Lake, which stretches into Arkansas, Missouri and about as far into western Tennessee as you can get, is relatively young for a natural lake: only about 206 years old. The New Madrid quakes (named for a town on the Mississippi River that took the brunt of the damage) were the strongest quakes in recorded history east of the Rockies. Although it’s pretty to see now, the site of Reelfoot Lake was terrifying on the night of December 16, 1811, when the Reelfoot Rift gave a mighty heave!

Haints

With natural wonders like blinking fireflies, glowing foxfire, bobcat cries that sound like distressed women, and drifting, eerie fog, it’s no wonder our lovely valleys and ridges are fertile ground for ghost stories and superstitions. You can’t learn Tennessee history without hearing a ghost story or two! Click here to read more haint recollections.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little bit about the wonder of our lovely state! If you’re looking to settle here, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com for current listings.

Back to School Time!

It may be the dog days, but there’s something else that makes August notable: Back to School!

It’s August already! It’s been a beautiful summer: at times hot and muggy, but we’ve had our fair share of crystal-clear, lovely weather, too. It may be the dog days, but there’s something else that makes August notable: Back to School! Kids and parents all over East Tennessee are gearing up to walk back through those lobby doors, heading to new classrooms, new desks and a new year of learning. Here are a few tips to make the transition from summer to school a little softer.

Snacks!

It’s amazing how far a good snack can go toward cheering a kid (or parent!) up, or just helping them wind down after a day of rules and work. Add a couple of fun snacks to lunches for a little midday boost, and have something healthy and yummy waiting for a just-off-the-bus treat. Here are a couple of ideas: pinch the middle of a baggie of grapes with a twisted pipe cleaner to make it look like a butterfly, or slather peanut butter on celery and stick on raisins for “ants on a log.” Then sneak a few bites for yourself!

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Downtime

Yeah, your older kids probably have a stack of homework already, but a little bit of quiet, unscheduled time (coinciding with the snack, probably!) can set the right tone for tackling those worksheets. Reading a book quietly, building with Legos, imaginative play, even just sitting and daydreaming: all these things help a kid’s brain release after school. Note: screen time, even though it can seem like relaxation time, actually overstimulates kids’ brains, making it more difficult for them to wind down.

Get Out!

Since they’re spending so much more of their days indoors, make sure kids have plenty of opportunity to get outside. Studies show it increases their learning capabilities, reduces stress and can even help them be healthier. Kick the kids out to the backyard during the school week, and go to the park on the weekends. It’s good for parents, too! And, luckily, we have the majestic Great Smoky Mountains practically in our backyard, so a Saturday day hike is a short trip away.

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Healthy Habits

It’s important for both parents and kids to get enough sleep and eat healthy meals during the school week. It can be stressful making sure backpacks and lunches are all packed up and ready to go, the kids aren’t wearing the same stained shirt they wore for the past two days, pick up and drop off happen on time, and a million other things don’t fall between the cracks! Give yourself a boost with healthy habits.

Kids at Home

Does little brother or sister still stay at home? You can do lots of fun things to prep them for the big day they get to go to school, too. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will send free books to your home to help you jump-start your kids’ love of reading. Local libraries have reading programs and story hours that help you get out of the house and help your entertain kids, too.

Good luck with back to school time! Visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com for your East Tennessee realty needs.

Pickin’ in East Tennessee

People around here buy and sell anything from lamps to antique mason jars…

Rural East Tennesseans are no strangers to the “gettin’ it done” mentality. Only a few short generations ago, it took hours—even days, for those living way up in the hills—of arduous travel just to get to the nearest town of any size. So, if you needed farm implements, kitchen staples or even clothes, you made very certain you loaded up on all you could in that semi-annual trip to town.

As a result of living so remotely, people in East Tennessee made do with what they had. They learned to make just about everything with what was available: barrels, boats, furniture, homes, clothes, preserves … you name it, it could pretty much be conjured with some hard work and creativity. And, people didn’t throw away anything that had some kind of use left in it!

These days, of course, just about anything a body could need is a short drive into town or a decisive click of the computer mouse away. But that creative philosophy of life never quite left folks in this part of the world. One of the best results of this is a thriving flea market economy. People around here buy and sell anything from lamps to antique mason jars, and if you’re willing to spend the time hunting, you can find what you need. (Or what you didn’t even know you needed!) And, of course, the hunt is most of the fun!

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Some flea markets, like the Porter Flea in Nashville, are an annual event, worth the pilgrimage if you want to combine a vacation with a pickin’ trip. Others are closer to our neck of the woods, like the Centre Brick Indoor Flea Market in New Tazewell or the Green Acres Flea Market in Louisville (near the airport, just outside of Knoxville.)

If yard sales get your creative gears cranking, there are plenty of events in Tennessee for you. Every weekend in the summer, sometimes starting as early as Thursday morning, you can find yard sales. If it’s a big event you’re looking for, Tennessee has annual yard sale events that stretch for miles along our highways! A little bit west of here, in Fentress County, there is the annual 127 Corridor yard sale. This one’s coming up: August 3-6, 2017. It actually stretches from Addison, Michigan, to Chattanooga, Tennessee! Next spring, plan for the U.S. 11 Antique Alley and Yard Sale, which runs from Meridian, Missouri to Bristol, Virginia.

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Need a little inspiration for what to do with your newfound trash-to-treasure? Check out this article from Good Housekeeping. You can turn out-of-date end tables into a Lego brick paradise, colanders into planters, and jars and cans into anything from candle holders to terrariums. If something has “good bones,” you can find a fantastic use for it! And, really, nothing makes a house into a home more than the hand-made touch.

So, get pickin’! And, if you see a property you like while you’re out searching for antiques and up-cycle projects, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’ll be happy to help you find your East Tennessee home!

Millenials and Home-Buying

For many millenials, the American Dream has lost some of its luster.

The American Dream used to be all about owning your own house, where your family can be safe and sound with a white picket fence out front. But, for many millenials, the American Dream has lost some of its luster.

Millenials today (this group has a mushy definition: anyone born between 1977 and 2000, according to some) face a lot of challenges in the house-buying arena.

Bidding Wars

In some markets, competing with other, established homeowners for desirable homes is a losing battle: previous homeowners with good credit usually have more equity from a previous home and more money saved for a down payment, as well as an established financial history. On top of this, houses are getting very expensive around the nation! (Click here for an article about how this affects millenials.) In some areas of the country, such as urban California, houses are valued so high it’s almost impossible to win the bidding war. Sellers often make tens of thousands more dollars than the listing price!

Financial Burden

A major roadblock for millenials trying to buy a home is difficulty in getting home loans, which is in part due to another difficulty: high student loan debt. (We published an article here about financial assistance with buying a first home.) Many millenials feel they just can’t afford a house payment in addition to their other debts, or can’t afford to save for the down payment.

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Relief in Sight!

In East Tennessee, mortgage prices are often the same, or lower, than rent. Housing prices around here are so comfortable, it makes sense (if you’re planning to stay in the area for more than three years ) to invest in owning a home. And, especially in rural areas, it’s easy to get down payment assistance from government loan programs. Plus, when you make mortgage payments on time for more than three years, it’s just like putting money in an equity bank. When you’re ready to move, you can sell your home and roll over the equity into a down payment on a new house. (Or use the money for whatever you need it for.)

Don’t Forget the Dog!

Of course, buying a home is about more than just financial considerations. A home is an emotional and time commitment, too! What kind of lifestyle are you looking for? Millenials often have a different answer from Boomers, when it comes to lifestyle. For example, this article says that millenials are more influenced by their dog than any other reason when it comes to buying a home. Sure, extra space for the family is nice, as well as the idea of investing in real estate and being more fiscally responsible, but having a more stable place for the family pooch wins out over what we consider the more traditional reasons for buying a home.

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Home ownership might not make sense in other places, but here in East Tennessee, low home cost (and low cost of living,) options for down payment assistance and the chance to invest in your family’s future make buying a home a great option.

Whatever your reason is for house hunting in East Tennessee, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com to get started.

Historic Appalachia: Resort Hot Spot!

Appalachia was the vacation spot of choice for droves of travelers in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

Travel is so easy nowadays. All we have to do to get out of town is hop in the car, gas it up and drive down the interstate. Or, we can head to the McGee-Tyson Airport in Alcoa (just outside Knoxville) and hop on a two-hour flight to Florida for palm trees and sandy beaches. It wasn’t so long ago—less than two generations—that travel was very difficult, time-consuming and expensive! In that era of days-long train travel, the upper-middle-class of America came by the car-load (train car, that is) to Appalachia.

You read right: Appalachia was the vacation spot of choice for droves of travelers in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Many leisure travelers lived inside cities, where industry was concentrated, so to get outside the brick-and-cobble jungle was a real treat for body and soul. In fact, during our country’s Industrial Revolution, medical doctors prescribed trips to the green, coal-smokeless hills of North Carolina and Tennessee on a regular basis. (That’s how the Vanderbilts ended up in Asheville: a trip for clean air away from railway smoke.)

The little towns of Dandridge, Morristown and Bean Station all had their tourist spots. Oh, they’d never give Dollywood a run for their money, but in their heyday the rural hot springs and bed-and-breakfasts did a pretty good business. Some of these places still retain a glint of their former allure. You can go there and walk, or sit awhile and see a glimpse of what it might have been like to enjoy the finest of rural American vacations at the turn of last century.

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This gem of a town still retains its hardy brick buildings, some over a hundred and fifty years old. Although the TVA dammed the river nearby to flood most of the richest farmland, changing the landscape surrounding the town, many historic homes and businesses remain intact.

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Bean Station

Not much remains of the Tate House Springhouse resort these days; the 500-guest hotel was demolished years ago. There is still a lovely spring, though, and the pavilion is a local favorite spot for prom and wedding photo shoots. Its close proximity to the lake makes this a sweet little spot to stop by for a picnic.

Clinton

Part of the “White Lighting Trail,” this little town just outside Knoxville has a great, historic downtown ripe for strolling and enjoying a meal. Plus, if you like antiquing, this place holds some fabulous treasures.

Morristown

The General Longstreet Museum, Crockett Tavern Museum and Rose Center for the Arts all hold turn-of-last-century allure, giving a glimpse into the life and times of those who lived, loved and made a life in Morristown pre- and post-civil war.

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Modern vacation tastes often run to bright lights and rich foods, exciting rides and never-seen-before entertainment. We could take a page from vacationers of yore, who took a prescription for cleaner, Appalachian air and headed away from the overstimulating city for the noise of cicadas and crickets, the gentle breezes and distractions of a good game of lawn croquet.

Interested in owning your own little piece of history? Go to DarleneReeves-Kline.com to find properties for sale in lovely East Tennessee.

Cost of Living: By the Numbers

Let’s break down the cost difference between a more expensive city and Morristown, Tennessee.

By now, you’ve probably heard that Tennessee has one of the most favorable cost of living vs. quality of life ratings in the whole country. We decided to break down what this means in terms of real things you’re likely to buy.

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If you’re moving from the Albany, New York metro area to Morristown, Tennessee, you’re about to be pleasantly surprised at how far your money goes. According to this cost comparison calculator, you can take about a 17% decrease in household income, and maintain the same quality of life you had up north.

That means if your household brought in $50,000.00, you could make less than $41,500.00 and still enjoy life! Conversely, that means if your income stays the same after you move, you’ll have 17% more value out of your money to save or take an extra vacation. That’s great news if you’re considering moving for work with the same salary, or if you’re one of the many retirees who have discovered that your fixed income would go much farther in our beautiful part of the country.

How do things like mortgages and groceries compare between New York and East Tennessee?

Let’s look at a few examples:

According to the cost of living calculator, the average home price in Albany is $397,060.67. The price for a comparable home in Morristown, Tennessee: $235,086.33. The difference: $161,974.33

That’s a huge difference! The great news is that Morristown has a great market of beautiful homes for someone looking to upgrade, downgrade or just get into their first home. It’s a diverse market in more than just price; lake homes, mini (or big!) farms, subdivisions … Morristown has a lot to offer.

What about daily living? Here’s how groceries compare:

Lettuce in Albany: $1.83 In Morristown: $1.43 Difference: $0.40

Canola Oil in Albany: $3.76 In Morristown: $2.95 Difference: $0.80

Dozen Eggs in Albany: $2.65 In Morristown: $2.26 Difference: $0.39

Coffee in Albany: $4.40 In Morristown: $4.20 Difference: $0.20

If that’s all you needed to buy this trip to the store, you’ve saved $1.79.

This is just a sampling, but you can definitely see how even a few dollars per grocery trip can add up to hundreds by the end of the year! That’s money that can go toward a trip to Dollywood, or back into your investment account to earn even more money. (And, don’t worry, if you need a good banker: we have plenty of those, too.)

There’s a lot more to love about our area than just lower cost of living. Remember that part we mentioned about good quality of life? We have all four seasons here in East Tennessee, with gorgeous spring flowers, stunning autumn leaves, lush, green summers and just enough winter weather to leave us all refreshed and ready for warmth again.

Let’s do a quick winter weather comparison between Albany and Morristown.

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The average high temperature for January and February in Albany is 31 degrees and 35 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. For Morristown: 46 and 51 degrees are the average high for January and February. The numbers prove it: our winters are much milder down here!

Between mild weather and lower costs, we’ve got what it takes to live life a little easier around here.

If you’re interested in finding out more about homes for sale in East Tennessee, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Summer Bucket List

Here’s a list of fun, family-friendly summer activities right here in East Tennessee!

There’s so much great stuff to do with your family here in East Tennessee, sometimes it can be hard to keep it all straight! We’ve compiled a list of things you should check out before the days start to get shorter, the nights get that crisp edge and the fireflies fade away for the season. Read on!

Visit the Zoo!

Easily accessible of I40 in East Knoxville, the zoo has lots to see and do. They recently revamped their tiger habitat, bringing you up close and personal to their gorgeous, endangered Malayan tigers! Asian Trek, where the tigers now live, is also home to rare cranes, and primates.

We’ve had thunder-stormy weather lately, but when the skies dry out you can have fun on the splash pad. The zoo has changing rooms and lockers available for your dry stuff, so you can still see the rest of the animals without feeling too soggy.

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Check out Dollywood!

This theme park in Sevierville is a local and national favorite! Dolly is always changing up the performances, so each visit is a whole new experience. In the summer, the park lights up the sky with fireworks each night. There are roller coaster rides, local artists and artisans giving live performances, and lots of food to try. Don’t forget Splash Country, as long as you’re headed that way!

Picnic at the Park

We can’t say enough about our wonderful parks. A low-key afternoon playing on the swings and slides, a competitive game of disc golf, splashing at the edge of the lake … it’s a classic summer day! Bring a cooler with some sandwiches and Popsicles (and sunscreen) and you’re all set.

We also have some great splash pads at our parks, so pack your swimsuits and towels!

Take a Hike

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in our backyard, and it’s spectacular. You can choose anything from a stroll to a rigorous day hike, to even backpacking into the backcountry—but be sure to check with the Park’s rangers to find out about permitting.

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We have lots of wildlife in the mountains, including bears, so be cautious. Never, ever attempt to feed the bears! When you feed bears, you’re giving them a death sentence. Rangers can’t keep bears away from people once they’ve figured out that humans are a food source, so sometimes the only answer is to euthanize them.

Cade’s Cove

This settlement, located in the Smokies, is accessible by car. It’s a glimpse back in time, to when communities had to be self-reliant. You can park and take one of the many day hikes just off the paved loop, or just walk up to one of the cabins, or even the old mill. Cade’s Cove is a living history lesson!

White Water Rafting

Our area is full of natural wonders, and the beautiful mountains can’t get all the credit! The Big Pigeon River, in Hartford, Tennessee and the Ocoee River, about an hour east of Chattanooga, offer thrills you can’t experience anywhere else! Take a guided raft tour of the rivers and stay the night in a nearby cabin, or head back home in time to grill out for supper.

Interested in finding out more about the lifestyle here in East Tennessee? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com.