Campfire Ghost Tales

Check out a few local “haunted” places!

Every year there comes a season for telling tales to make your short hairs stand up, for giving you the shivers, for making the friendly light of a bonfire turn trees and shadows into dancing ghosts … if you think I’m talking about Halloween, think again!

It’s camping season, and the weather has been great for it! Aside from all this rain from Tropical Storm Cindy, we’ve had days and nights of mild weather and even relatively low humidity here in pleasant East Tennessee. All this sweet summer weather makes it just right to pitch a tent in the backyard, roast hot dogs over a camp fire and chase fireflies in the twilight.

But, when the moon is out and the fire gets low, the time for telling tales is just right. Locals know that East Tennessee is famous for storytelling! With misty apparitions, magical fireflies and mysterious late-night animal noises, the background is perfect for some old-fashioned yarn-spinning! And, something about a good campfire brings out the best ghost stories.

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Here are a few infamously haunted places in our area to get your campfire tales started:

Bethesda Church and Cemetery in Morristown, Tennessee

Reportedly, Confederate soldiers buried here at the cemetery don’t take kindly to visitors with *ahem* Yankee accents coming around. Stories of women weeping, misty, foggy shapes and general creepy feelings surround this historic site when the sun goes down and the moon comes out. If you find yourself wandering outside the cemetery at night, you’d best starting whistling Dixie!

Greeneville, Tennessee: General Morgan Inn

HauntedPlaces.org lists historic General Morgan Inn as one of its haunted places. Green Room Grace, a waitress in times of yore, is supposedly playful and fun. Her favorite prank is snatching spoons from the hotel restaurant! Maybe they’ll renovate the hotel someday and find a whole stash of tarnished spoons behind a wall!

Jonesboro, Tennessee

The oldest official town of Tennessee, this place has two reportedly haunted hotels! The Hawley House Bed and Breakfast and the Historic Eureka Inn have given guests the heebie-jeebies with late-night whispers, unexplained footsteps and shadowy figures,  thought to be the spirits of women who once worked in the hotels.

Glenmore Mansion in Jefferson City, Tennessee

It’s rare that a ghost announces he’ll be a ghost before he passes, but that’s what witnesses say happened at the famous Glenmore Mansion! This Victorian gem, restored and maintained by diligent locals, is reportedly a favorite spot for now-deceased historian Thomas Roach. Witnesses have seen a friendly, misty figure roaming the property. There have also been sightings of an apparition of a woman in white in the upper windows at night.

Looking for more ghost stories? Check out these haunted tours by Appalachian Ghost Walks!

If you like to hear a masterful tale spinner, then Jonesboro, Tennessee is the place for you. The International Storytelling Center there has events year-round for audiences and participants alike! You have plenty of time to plan to attend this year’s National Storytelling Festival, October 6-8, 2017.

Interested in looking for the perfect backyard to tell your own campfire tales? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com!

Two of the Coolest Bugs in East Tennessee

Plants, animals and bugs (and people!) of many varieties thrive in East Tennessee.

East Tennessee is a vibrant, lush place to live. Plants, animals and bugs (and people!) of many varieties thrive here. If you’re drawn to the outdoors, like many Tennessee residents are, you’ve probably noticed a few interesting species. On this week’s blog we’re featuring two species of bugs you’re sure to encounter soon, if you haven’t seen them already!

Fireflies

Fireflies, or lightning bugs, are not an unusual sight for anyone living in the southeast part of the United States. But, for those moving in from western states like Montana or Colorado, fireflies seem truly magical! We have lots of these glowy creatures. We have a great climate for them, as well as plenty of places for them to live, since they like the damp, rotting wood that’s found on the floors of our forests.

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This is a great firefly habitat!

Here are a few fun facts about fireflies: it’s usually the males who fly around, signaling to find mates. The females are what we think of as “glow worms,” and they are usually very different from males. They don’t have wings, and instead look like grubs on the ground (similar to larvae, actually.) They glow their own kinds of signals to the males. In the Great Smoky Mountains, there is a special place where fireflies synchronize. It’s a pretty amazing sight! The woods go from very dark to completely lit up in pops of light. You have to buy tickets to reserve a spot to see these amazing creatures.

But, you can still enjoy your own lovely backyard firefly show during the summer months. They might not synchronize, but it’s still a magical sight.

Cicadas

These creatures are fascinating, because they have either 13- or 17-year life cycles. They have a distinct, rise-and-fall whine that tunes up at night during the spring months, lasting far into the summer. Usually, 17-year cicadas live in northern states and 13-year cicadas live in southern states. Because of Tennessee’s location, we get both 13 and 17-year cicadas.

The cicada life cycle is fascinating. The female lays eggs in slits in trees, which then hatch in six or seven weeks. The nymphs make their way into the soil to live and eat tree sap from roots for 13 or 17 years, before coming back up to the surface and morphing into adults. If you look for them, you can see the nymph skins left behind on tree trunks and sides of buildings. (Kids are great at spotting these!) Adults are colorful, with black-veined wings and bright red eyes. They don’t bite.

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Listen for cicadas tuning up after sunset!

You might be worried about cicadas harming your saplings, and you’d be right. Cicada nymphs under the soil don’t noticeably hurt trees, but adult females laying her eggs in trees can cause damage during this process. Check out this website for more information about how to protect your trees from cicada damage.

If you’re interested in finding about more about living in East Tennessee, please check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Landscaping in East Tennessee

Planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to our area brings many benefits.

Spring is here! Dogwoods and redbuds are in bloom and flowers are popping up everywhere. This is an especially exciting time to be a new homeowner in East Tennessee, because you never know what beautiful plants you’ve inherited with your property until they show their pretty faces in the warm growing season!

If you’re getting inspired by our lovely, warm weather to spruce up your landscaping, consider these ideas:

Go Native!

Planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to our extremely biodiverse area brings many benefits. They are more likely to survive and thrive in our climate, since they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years. They are also more likely to attract the pollinators. Helping pollinators like bees and butterflies with habitat and food helps us, too. Bees and butterflies not only ensure the beauty and propagation of our lovely flowers, they play a big part in growing crops that we need to eat. Check this list for ideas on native plants for your grand landscaping plan.

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Buy From a Nursery

Going native doesn’t mean digging up from the woods. DON’T take plants from public land, like a national park. It’s illegal! If you have access to ferns, trees and other plants you think you’ll be able to successfully transplant on your property, then go for it. But if you’d like a little more help and even a little guarantee, go to your local nursery. Family-owned operations are likely to have great advice on what to plant where, and when. Some places (like Lowes) have guarantees on their plants, which means if you save your receipts and your plant dies within a year, you can take it back and get a replacement.

Think Big, But Start Small

Frederick Law Olmsted, when he designed the landscaping for the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, thought long-term. Like, really long term: he planted stands of trees that would take a hundred years to mature. He knew he’d never see his vision completely realized, but he understood the grandeur of his legacy. If you have an acre of land you’d like to landscape, you don’t necessarily need to think of how it will look to your great-grandchildren, but do pay attention to how things will look in the next few years.

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Ivy and other vines might grow out of control, swamping out other plants and slowly destroying your buildings if they are given free reign. Bamboo certainly goes rampant, requiring heavy mowing. And trees are high on the list of culprits behind unsafe foundations; the roots grow out as far as the canopy, undermining the safety of your home if they’re planted too close. Evergreens are a little safer; their root systems tend to head down instead of out. Even so, that sweet little sapling you plant this year might take off in our mild, plant-friendly climate and become a danger to your roof, sewer or foundation in as little as ten years!

Consider Goats

One of the pervasive problems in rural East Tennessee is the fast-growing, invasive vine: kudzu! The best way to get rid of it? Goats. They eat it right down to the roots.

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Interested in real estate in East Tennessee? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. Happy gardening!

Community and Beauty: Why We Love East Tennessee!

Our eastern corner of Tennessee is full of places like that: local secrets, where the authenticity hasn’t been polished off by the tourism industry.

Ask anyone who has made East Tennessee their home what their favorite things about living here are, and sense of community is bound to make the list.

During our 2016 wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains, local businesses, churches, schools and groups of private individuals banded together to provide relief in the form of food, clothing (including pajamas and teddy bears for displaced kids), Power Bars, water and Gatorade for fire fighters, and money. The support was so immediate and overwhelming that, at one point during the crisis, aid workers in Sevier County couldn’t find space to put all the supplies! It’s exactly this spirit that makes Tennessee the Volunteer State.

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Our smaller communities have this amazing “helping out” attitude, too. It’s evident in the revitalization of the Mossy Creek district in Jefferson City, the organizations that provide help to homeless families in Morristown, the knowledgeable folks at Clinch-Powell RC&D in Rutledge who help local families become first-time homeowners and veterans get help paying off their mortgages.

Remember that list of reasons why people love to call East Tennessee home? The beauty of our natural environment is high on that list, too.

Clinch-Powell RC&D combines its mission for benefiting local communities with benefiting the environment in Hancock County. There, they have revitalized an old general store into a hub for ecotourism. Kyles Ford in Hancock County is remote, but it’s this secluded quality that makes it ripe for a great family vacation experience. There are cabins for rent and space to pitch a tent if that’s more your pace. There’s a great restaurant in the old store, and the porch doubles as a stage for regular local and regional live music performances.

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It’s called River Place on the Clinch, and it overlooks (you guessed it!) the sleepy Clinch River, which is home to an amazingly diverse ecosystem. There is more diversity of mussels in the Clinch River than can be found in the entirety of Europe! So, don’t be surprised if you see scientists wading through the water to study its residents. In fact, you might see lots of things you’d never catch sight of in town, like turkey and deer wandering in the grass down below the back deck.

River Place offers tube rentals and shuttles during the hot summer months. You could spend a whole weekend just floating on the river, listening to live music, chowing down on food, spotting wild deer and turkey, catching twilight fireflies, and generally enjoying the natural bounty of East Tennessee. With spring peeking around the corner, this kind of vacation sounds just about perfect.

Kyles Ford is about an hour from Morristown on Highway 31, making it a great weekend escape location. Lots of repeat visitors found it originally while wandering on the backroads, or traveling via motorcycle on Highway 70. Our eastern corner of Tennessee is full of places like that: local secrets, where the authenticity hasn’t been polished off by the tourism industry.

If you’re interested in learning more about real estate in Morristown, Jefferson City, or even Hancock County, go to DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you need a little holiday motivation, there are plenty of things going on in our fair part of the country to help you out.

This year is pretty warm for an East Tennessee Thanksgiving. Usually around this time we’re waking up to frosty mornings, laying by stockpiles of firewood for the cold winter ahead and snuggling down with a cup of hot cocoa, trying to enjoy the calm before the storm of cooking our turkey dinner feast.

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We’re trying not to let our warm weather dampen the holiday spirits, though. If you need a little holiday motivation, there are plenty of things going on in our fair part of the country to help you out. Here are a few:

Dollywood Lights

It’s not quite Bob Segar’s “Hollywood Nights,” but this time of year is illuminated to the max at our favorite regional theme park. Local artisans practice their crafts, musicians perform in the theatres and outside and everywhere you look you see vibrant Christmas decorations. It’s worth a visit if you’ve never been, and your out-of-town guests will appreciate the experience, too.

Visit Dollywood.com to get visiting hours and ticket prices.

Speaking of Lights

Take a trolley ride in Gatlinburg to see the decorations of the season! The balmy weather makes for comfortable strolling, too. Be sure to check out the artists’ guild and the huge cowboy boot store. If you’d like a little taste of Tennessee shine, there are moonshine tastings available to those of age on the famous strip.

Rolling on the River

Tnvacation.com has some fun activities to help you with your festive spirit, especially if you are allergic to cooking. They recommend the Thanksgiving cruise on Knoxville’s river boat, Star of Knoxville or the Southern Belle in Chattanooga. The cruises include food, entertainment and, of course, lovely Tennessee scenery.

Get Local

The Rose Center in Morristown has a great lineup of entertainment, arts and crafts events, and classes. It’s a good time to get started making this year’s Christmas gifts! Or, you can support local artists and give pottery, paintings or other unique gifts this year.

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#Opt Out!

REI is among the growing number of retailers who shun the anxiety and general bad sportsmanship of Black Friday, instead encouraging folks to enjoy the natural beauty of our mountain home. Go for a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or walk your dog at the local park. Ride your bike, sit outside with your relatives on the porch swing, play corn hole in the back yard. Take a minute to breathe and enjoy this holiday before plunging into the gift-buying frenzy of Christmas!

 

 

Winter in East Tennessee

Be prepared this winter, but, mostly, enjoy it.

This post is for our  most recent transplants, who might not know what to expect for their first winter in lovely, temperate East Tennessee. For those who can claim to be “from around here,” feel free to add your own two cents about how to survive this upcoming cold season.

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First Things First

Winter in East Tennessee is a slightly different animal if you’re new to the state…an animal that sometimes basks in warm, golden sunshine while the bare trees and short days are the only real proof you have that you’re truly in winter. Sometimes it’s so bitterly cold and blustery that this temperate region shuts down for days while residents scramble to deploy salt trucks and buy all the milk and bread in a twelve-mile radius.

Add some eggs and nutmeg and you’ve got all the emergency-weather French toast a person could ask for.

So, aside from stocking up on perishables, how should you really prepare for winter in Tennessee?

Multiple Heat Sources

Stock up on firewood or propane–whatever fuel your fireplace or other heat source needs. In a mild winter this will serve as a pleasant way to ward off the chill in the mornings. In one of our hunker-down, polar-winds-a-blowing seasons, you’ll need those sources to help out your straining central heat source. Occasionally, the power will go out. Around here we have lots of trees and occasional ice or snow storms, a combination which will bring down heavy branches over power lines. The power companies are quick to fix the problem, but for a day or two you should be prepared to lose electric heat sources.

Pipes, Plants and Pets

The generally mild winter can make us complacent about bringing in plants and pets and protecting our exposed water pipes. Down south it doesn’t matter as much, and further north there is a seasonal ritual for protecting all these tender things from a hard freeze, but here it can sneak up on you. So pay attention to the frost advisories on the weather, and go ahead and cover up sensitive plants when fall temperatures dip into the 30s and insulate pipes and faucets. And make sure your outdoor pets have somewhere warm to go.

Lurking Ice

In some ways, our biggest enemy is ice. We don’t (usually) get much snow, but as it melts in the warm sun a slick layer of ice builds up, sometimes completely unseen under the inch or two of white. Invest in a bit of sidewalk salt so you don’t find yourself nursing a bruised ego and tailbone, and drive a little more cautiously.

Layer Up

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Layering is about to become your fashion statement of choice. Especially if your kids wait out at the school bus stop each morning, you’ll want them to have a t-shirt, sweater and jacket. Chances are all three will be needed and then peeled at some point during the day. Temperatures can start out in the teens and soar into upper forties–even fifties or higher–in the fall and winter around here.

Emergency Car Kits

Keep a stash of water, dried food like granola bars, walking shoes, an old jacket and a blanket in your car along with your auto emergency kit. If you break down or slide off the road on a patch of ice you might need to shuck your work shoes, slip on those walking shoes and get walking, or even wait a while with the vehicle. We’re not as isolated as the wilderness out West, but we do have some sparsely populated, rural areas where cell phone service is patchy and not many vehicles pass by. Our beautiful mountains make for lovely scenery but treacherous back roads, so please drive cautiously and plan for unfortunate possibilities.

Enjoy

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Be prepared this winter, but, mostly, enjoy it. This is one of our lovely, distinct seasons that bring people to our area from all over the country. The milder weather makes winter hiking delightful, and the trees graciously drop leaves so you can see for miles and miles (as the song says.) Frost sparkles in the morning, and winter sunrises and sunsets are nothing short of inspiring. And, just when you are so sick of being cold…it starts to warm up, and spring is just around the corner.

Looking to move here? Check out Darlenereeves-kline.com.

Easing Retirement Concerns

Retirement brings with it dramatic life changes. Those approaching this milestone have concerns.

Real estate is about more than just location, location, location! It’s about investing in a life of security and comfort, and it’s even about having something solid to leave as a legacy. Many people choose to relocate (or stay put!) in Tennessee because land is affordable and the cost of living/standard of living ratio is among the very best in this country.

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from retiretennessee.org

Retirement brings with it dramatic life changes. Those approaching this milestone have concerns, about finding stability, financial safety and finding a life of fulfillment after a lifetime of focusing on a career. CBS Money Watch addressed a few of those concerns in this article.

We took a few points and tailored them to fit those recent or pending retirees who might be looking to move to Northeast Tennessee.

Concern: running out of money.

“Between saving enough, being able to spend efficiently, affording your desired lifestyle and the possibility of outliving your money, running out of funds is likely your top retirement concern.”

You can outrun your budget no matter where you live, but if you stick to your limits, this upper right corner of Tennessee is a great place to stretch the value of your dollars. Hiking, swimming, sight-seeing…all this greatly increases quality of life and costs almost nothing. Home costs and energy bills are very low in comparison to other states, in part due to milder weather and in part due to lower prices.

Concern: feeling empty.

“Consider taking up some hobbies more seriously, joining a local group, spending more time with friends and family or planning a trip to kick off your retirement.”

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Thriving arts communities in Morristown and Rogersville, golf clubs, Friends of the Smokies, volunteer opportunities…our area is built on community. Leaving your career can make you feel unmoored, but the solution is to find a new tribe, a new purpose and like-minded group of people to help anchor you in this new stage of life.

Concern:  healthcare.

“Just one reason it’s important to maintain an emergency fund into retirement.”

Moving to a rural area doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your care. Overall lower living costs in Tennessee are a boon to those needing to pad their emergency fund, or pay for prescriptions and other ongoing medical treatments. Also, the medical community in Hamblen, Jefferson, Grainger and surrounding counties includes a wide variety of professionals, ranging from medical doctors and nurses to chiropractors and osteopaths. This means a wide range of care is available to you, close to home.

Concern: falling home values.

“If you planned your retirement timing and total savings taking in the factor of home appreciation, it’s a good idea to allow that to be a bump up in lifestyle but not the money you need to live.”

If you plan to sell your home in a state with higher home prices, you might be pleasantly surprised at how much house your money will buy in Tennessee. With what you have left over, you’ll be able to pad out your emergency fund or pay for a trip to Dollywood when your grandchildren come to visit!

If you’re interested in listings available in Northeast Tennessee, please visit my website at darlenenereeves-kline.com.

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