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New Attractions coming to the Smoky Mountains in 2019 – Part 2

There is a melting pot of new things to do, from pirate shows to pinball machines from the Civil War to the National Enquirer. Continuing on from our last post, here are just a few of the new attractions coming to Smoky Mountains in 2019 (Part 2).

Dolly Parton’s Pirates Voyage Dinner And Show

Dolly Parton Selects The Great Smoky Mountains For Second Pirates Voyage Dinner And Show. The Water Spectacular is Slated to Open in Spring 2019

Keep an eye to the spyglass, mateys; Dolly’s pirates will be searching for treasure in the Great Smoky Mountains, this summer!

After nearly a decade of rave reviews and financial success on the Carolina coast, Parton’s newest Pirates Voyage dinner attraction is slated to open in the spring.

When complete, the 21,000 square foot arena, adjacent to The Island in Pigeon Forge, will be the stage for Crimson and Sapphire pirates that battle on deck, in the water and in the sky above their full-sized pirate ships in a 15-foot-deep indoor lagoon. Spectacular acrobatic competitions, live animals and an original music score by Dolly Parton and Mark Brymer creates an immersive adventure experience all while guests enjoy a spectacular five-course pirate feast.

Rocky Top Mountain Coaster

Not just another mountain coaster; an entire family experience and one of the exciting new attractions coming to Smoky Mountains in 2019 ! Sitting on over 20 acres of beautiful Smoky Mountain scenery, this coaster features plenty of tunnels, curves, and 360 degree turns. Reaching speeds of up to 30 mph, this attraction is projected to set records as the longest coaster in East Tennessee….over 9 minutes long. With four uplifts and four drops you;’ll have four times the fun at Rocky Top Mountain Coaster.

You’ll want to come visit after nightfall where the magnificent lights will guide you thru a thrill packed excursion: an experience that will stay with you long after the ride is over! Rocky Top Mountain Coaster is something both the young and senior in age can enjoy. Rocky Top Mountain Coaster is located across from Dollywood on Veterans Boulevard.

Buttonwillow Civil War Theater

Dixie is calling, step back into 1864 at the Buttonwood Civil War Theater. Billed as American history with Southern humor this production tells the story of a die-hard Tennessee Unionist as he runs into his Confederate Cousin; both struggle to understand the others viewpoint as to how to save the South.

Steve Gipson leads the show with a determined Unionist attitude and a zeal to protect his Granddaddy’s Union.  Race Gipson stands his ground and will not give an inch to the northern invaders who threaten his farm.

The production is called “Grandaddy’s Watch” with a story that will open your minds and with an ending that will leave you in awe.

Buttonwood Civil War Theater is located at 2135 Parkway in Pigeon Forge.

Gatlinburg Pinball Museum

Here is one of the more unique new attractions coming to Smoky Mountains in 2019. The largest Collection of Pinball’s & Retro Games in the Smokies! The history of a museum meets the fun of an arcade.

The best kind of museum is one where you can play with the exhibits. The Gatlinburg Pinball Museum’s goal is to provide their guests a fun, informative experience by sharing their love and passion for pinball. The museum collection includes mostly Limited Editions from both modern times and dating back to the 1960’s!

Some of our pinballs include: Medieval Madness, Attack From Mars, Lord of the Rings, Metallica, Dialed In, The Addams Family Gold Edition, The Walking Dead, the 1965 classic Gottlieb Sky-Line, and many more!

Admission is $15 for adults and $12 for children age 10 & under. Unlimited game play all day on all pinball’s and retro games. No coins or tokens required!

Located off the Parkway on Historic Nature Trail, just past the Space Needle.

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The National Enquirer Museum

The National Enquirer Museum is one of larger name new attractions coming to Smoky Mountains in 2019. “It’s not about reading, it’s more about the experience,” explains one of the people aiming to bring to Pigeon Forge the first of a number of themed attractions planned by AMI, Inc.’s National Enquirer.

Among the plans for the attraction is an interactive exhibit that will allow visitors to create their own Enquirer-style headlines and share them on social media. Bringing you a fresh, exciting new interactive adventure with cutting edge technology in June 2019!! Guaranteed fun for ages 8 – 80!

The Enquirer project is attached to the former site of the Smoky Mountain Jubilee, a live performance family attraction closed in early 2009 (2115 Parkway), on the north end of town.

More to come…New attractions coming to Smoky Mountains in 2019

These are just a few of the new attractions coming to the Smoky Mountains in 2019.  Over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting more of the the new dining establishments coming to the area….stay tuned!!

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://wordpress.com/post/dancingbearfoot.blog/53

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

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New Attractions Coming to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in 2019 (Part 1)

Wow, what a year it’s going to be in the Smokies with all the new attractions coming online soon.  Here a just a few of the new attractions coming to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in 2019 (Part 1).

Blake Shelton’s Ole Red in Gatlinburg

Probably the most talked about attraction is Blake Shelton’s Ole Red in Gatlinburg. Ole Red is a lifestyle and entertainment brand inspired by Blake Shelton’s clever, irreverent third-chart hit, “Ol’ Red.” Ole Red Gatlinburg is a $9 million, a multi-level 16,000-square-foot entertainment venue with a two-story bar and restaurant, exterior terrace, performance space, dance floor and retail area. The venue will open March 11-17 with a week-long grand opening celebration. Guests are invited to get in on the “Spring Blake” fun as Ole Red Gatlinburg hosts multiple events throughout the week, including a grand opening concert with Blake Shelton.  More information can be found here…https://olered.com/gatlinburg/

Dollywood Wildwood Grove

The expansion, the largest in the park’s 33 year history, will be called “Wildwood Grove.” It is set to open in 2019. The new park is designed to bring families together in a whimsical, magical setting. Guests to the park will walk through a massive hollow trunk of a fallen tree known as “The Wildwood Tree.” Once there, guests can visit six new rides, including:

The Dragonflier– A suspended roller coaster lets guests soar with a dragonfly as it dips and darts along the gushing geysers and lush landscape of Wildwood Grove.

Black Bear Trail– Hop on the back of friendly “bears” for a trek through their natural habitat.

Sycamore Swing– Guests aboard this “leaf boat” swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree.

Treetop Tower– This family tower gives guests a sky-high view of Wildwood Grove as they soar nearly 40 feet in the air. Riders, seated inside giant acorns, spin around the top of a tall oak tree before gently drifting back to the grove floor.

The Mad Mockingbird– Tennessee’s state bird–the mockingbird–gives visitors a lift as it flies in a high speed circle around a tall tree. Riders control their ride experience by moving a sail as the birds rush above the ground.

Frogs and Fireflies–Frogs hop up and down as they chase each other around the lily pad trying to catch the flickering fireflies fluttering from the tall reeds and grasses. Adventurous guests can hop aboard for this riveting race.

More information can be found here… https://www.dollywood.com/themepark/Rides/Wildwood-Grove

The Gatlinburg SkyBridge- The Most Spectacular Experience in The Smokies

The SkyBridge will be the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America, and the most spectacular and awe-inspiring experience in the Smokies.

From the top of the Gatlinburg SkyLift, the SkyBridge quite literally crosses the sky as it stretches 680 feet across a deep valley. Guests will be able to walk across at their own pace, taking in the views and enjoying the spectacular setting before walking back when they’re ready. With a height of 140 feet at its midpoint, the SkyBridge is an absolutely spectacular but easily attainable experience you’ll remember for a lifetime – especially as you cross the glass-floor panels in the middle of the span. If there’s one photo you’ll want to share with family and friends after your trip to Gatlinburg, it will be of the SkyBridge. The grand opening of the SkyBridge is coming in spring 2019.

August Moon Indoor Drive-In

One of the most anticipated new attractions coming to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in 2019 is the August Moon Drive-In. Building on the success of movie experiences that offer more than the status quo, the August Moon Drive-In is conceived as a mini indoor theme park that transports people in space and time to a quintessentially American experience – where that perfect summer night at sunset, where crickets chirp in the distance and the audience breathes in the scent of fresh meadow air, can be repeated with absolute consistency within what is effectively a giant movie set. In addition to being a re-invention of the movie-going experience, the August Moon experience allows audiences time to explore, play, and dine, in addition to watching the movie.

THE EXPERIENCE

AUGUST MOON will feature 40 classic cars within which patrons can dine and watch first-run movies and cherished blockbusters from years past.  Featuring food and beverage service with an artisanal approach to classic American favorites – the best burger and fries you’ve ever had and full bar service from multiple bar areas and private event spaces.

AN INCREDIBLE SCENE

50 full size trees, a half-acre of grass and gravel pathways, a starry sky and a tracking moon overhead, fire flies and an immersive sound design (crickets and a summer breeze), a 360-degree lighted backdrop that creates the effect of a beautiful sunset before each showing all combine to form a total “reality” that TRANSPORTS audiences in time and space.

LUXURY SEATING

Beyond an amazing car collection, August Moon features luxury seating. These options include couches in private booths, tree swings and wide-aisle stadium seats offering additional premium ways to experience August Moon.

The Jacks Are Back: Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud

The New Lumberjack Feud, scheduled to open in early May at Walden’s Landing, Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud will be the first permanent outdoor lumberjack show venue in the state of Tennessee. There is not a bad seat in the house at this all new, 350-person outdoor venue. Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud will feature padded stadium seating under a covered, climate-controlled grandstand designed for the guests’ comfort, rain or shine.

Fun for The Whole Family

The high energy show will feature lumberjacks from all over the nation competing in events such as the underhand chop, standing block chop, springboard chop, speed climbing, log rolling, boom run, ax throw, hot saw event, cross cut and more. Heckling, booing and cheering are encouraged; but be warned, too much smack talk and you may end up on the stage competing against the professionals!

Lumberjack Show + Adventure

In addition to the performance, guests will also have the chance to compete in their own lumberjack competition with simulated elements from the show such as speed climb, log roll, springboard chop, and more. The area will also include an extreme zipline roller coaster, an 80-foot jump tower, an exciting aerial kid’s playground, and a multi-level lumberjack-themed adventure park. Audience members will also be able to participate in an exciting, interactive experience during the show, with a special intermission just for kids.

Walden’s Landing is home to the new Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud. Located in the heart of Pigeon Forge, Walden’s Landing also houses Tennessee’s own Calhoun’s, Smoky Mountain Brewery, Forge Cinemas, No Way Jose Cantina and many unique local shops.

More to come

These are just a few of the new attractions coming to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in 2019.  Over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting more of the new attractions coming to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in 2019 in parts 2 and part 3.  We will also be focusing on the the new dining establishments coming to the area….stay tuned!!

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://wordpress.com/post/dancingbearfoot.blog/53

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

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The Foothills Parkway

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If you’ve visited our website dancingbearfoot.com, you may have seen we have a page dedicated to scenic drives in the Smokies.  We know hiking isn’t everyone passion and driving through the park is a great way to see the amazing scenery the Smokies have to offer.  Now there is a new way to see the Smokies that no one can afford to miss, the newly completed section of The Foothills Parkway.

Brief History of the Foothills Parkway:

For those of you not familiar with The Foothills Parkway, Congress authorized the Foothills Parkway in 1944 as a scenic parkway that would provide magnificent views into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from a road corridor that was outside the Park.  When completed, the Parkway will be a 72-mile long road traversing the western and northern perimeters of the park and will extend from Interstate 40 east of Cosby, TN to Chilhowee, in the west.  So far only 38.6 miles of the parkway have been completed.

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The section that just opened (Sections E & F on the map above) runs from Wears Valley on the east to Walland TN on the west. I took my drive during the first week of December. Let’s just say that’s not the prime time for scenic views, all the leaves are off the trees and my day was overcast and drizzling.  BUT (and that’s a big but) the views were still breathtaking and well worth the drive.

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Getting to the Foothills Parkway:

Getting to the Foothills Parkway is easy.  If you’re like most people, you’ll be heading out from Pigeon Forge or Sevierville.  Take Wears Valley Road (US-321) west, you’ll travel a few miles and then you’ll see a sign marking the entrance to the Foothills Parkway on the right.  Keep in mind once you get on the Parkway there is no exit until you get to Townsend.

The Foothills Parkway sort of parallels US-321 but at a much higher elevation. If you’re a person who really likes driving and the twists and turns of a scenic mountain road you’ll love driving this parkway.  I’m sure this will be a must drive for the motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts who enjoy riding and driving on the Tail of the Dragon.  The pavement of course is brand new and perfectly smooth, I drive a  Mazda and this road was a blast.  I’m not encouraging speeding by any means but if you have a car that handles well you’ll really appreciate this road.

The Scenery:

Now getting back to the main attraction for all of us and that’s the scenery.  There are plenty of places to pull over and enjoy the view but near the middle just before all the “missing link” bridges start there is a pull off that offers one of the best views in the Smokies.  Pictures do not do this view justice as to the side to side expanse of the park.  Where Newfound Gap offers you a view that is depth of view the Foothill Parkway offers you the panoramic view and it’s incredible. I can only imagine what this looks like during the fall colors, simply breathtaking.  Unfortunately, I saw it on probably it’s worst day but it was still worth the drive and still incredible.

Construction of the Foothills Parkway:

Now stepping back a moment from the enjoyment of driving the road and incredible views one must appreciate the engineering and road building that went into constructing this parkway.  The missing link bridge section is especially fascinating.  Bravo to all of you engineers that paid attention in math class and the tenacity of the crews that built this roadway. It’s amazing to me how these roads an be built on the side of a mountain.  Plus, they kept the look of the original roadwork from the conservation corps that built the original roads in the Smokies.  That attention to detail didn’t escape us, it’s beautiful.

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Simply put the Foothills Parkway is a new jewel of the Smokies and shouldn’t be missed as these views will change with each of the seasons.  I can’t wait to see what the spring summer and fall hold for us.

If you want to learn about other scenic drives in the Smokies visit our our page https://www.dancingbearfoot.com/scenic-driving-tours.html

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://wordpress.com/post/dancingbearfoot.blog/53

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

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1-part Home, 1-part Hilton and 1-part Disney – The Dancing Bearfoot Story

 

1-part Home, 1-part Hilton and 1-part Disney

“Absolutely Not!”

Sipping Moonshine at the real estate closing.

I wrote my first mortgage check on Friday and the forest fire came on Monday.

“You want us to build what…where?”

“That’s a good snake, you want to keep those around.”

As crazy as it sounds all of the above statements are true, welcome to my first two years of cabin ownership in the Great Smoky Mountains.

My wife and I are what most people would consider practical people, we don’t go off spending money frivolously so the thought of buying a vacation cabin never entered into our minds.  Sure, we had vacationed in the Smokies for many years and stayed in cabins during those trips but we never longed to own one.  Instead, we had the idea of fleeing Illinois for Tennessee and building a log cabin for our retirement to live out our golden years in the “peaceful bliss amongst the mountains and the woods.”  We did what everyone does, read the magazines, learn all about cabin construction and the start searching the online listings for available real estate both lots and existing cabins.

We sat down with our financial planner discussing just the feasibility of buying one.  Then comes reality, I’m not retiring for ten years or more and who’s going to maintain this cabin that’s 650 miles away (we live in Chicago)?  Our financial planner just tossed out “how about renting it out?” My wife’s reply was swift with a hand hitting the desk “Absolutely not! No one is going to be staying in my house!” Case closed or so I thought.  “What about a bridge cabin, one that we own and use as we please and rent out on the side to offset some of the expense of maintaining it without any emotional connection” I suggested.  Not at all a bad idea. And so it began, the search for our bridge cabin.

The cabin spoke to her.

Trulia, Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com all became like a video game to us, every night pouring over listings.  It took the better part of a year but we narrowed our search down to six cabins.  We trekked down to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area during Labor Day 2016 to find our cabin.  We met up with our realtor Tim and off we went to tour our cabins.  Our top choice cabin’s condition was a bit misrepresented in the listing pictures plus it had a white-knuckled, near vertical drive up to the cabin reminiscent of the mountain in How the Grinch Stole Christmas….pass.  Our second choice was decorated beautifully in Japanese décor, again not in the listing photos….pass.  Our third choice went under contract one day prior to our visit….pass.  Our fourth cabin we realized we actually rented on a previous vacation (no wonder it looked familiar)….pass. We skipped the fifth by location and opted to see our last choice which had a terrible listing photo of a cabin with blowing snow flurries and faded stain and a satellite dish mounted to the front of it but it was nearby.  We pulled up to the cabin, stepped inside and my wife said “this is it”.  The cabin spoke to her, we found our cabin….so much for no emotional connection.

Original Real Estate Listing Photo:

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The Smoky Mountains area is filled with log cabins but mostly what you would consider a commodity cabin, they are built to be rented more so than lived in. When you buy them, you buy them furnished right down to every fork and spoon in the drawer.  Pictures, furniture, lamps, everything is now yours and we really didn’t want any of it.  As we looked around the list of things that needed to be addressed grew.  Kitchen cabinets that were poorly made, a jet tub with plumbing issues, old, aged and broken appliances, window blinds that were over a foot too long for every window and soon I would own them all.  After quickly taking some fast measurements we moved on to negotiations and pretty soon we had our price and for us it came in at the bottom of our budget.  Now we can do something special here.

In between the time from our agreed upon price to the closing we went to work making plans to hit the ground running with renovations.  We wanted to kill off the commodity cabin look (Cheap fixtures, cheap appliances, pooltables, arcade games, tube tv’s, etc.) we wanted a cabin like what you see in the magazines, we wanted different.  We wanted texture and natural materials, we wanted to bring outside inside.   We agreed nothing from Home Depot as far as cabinets, vanities or sinks go, we wanted an authentic cabin/lodge look. We wanted our 1-part Home, 1-part Hilton and 1-part Disney plan. Little did I know how difficult finding a contractor to share our vision would be at first and then by accident we found lightening in a bottle with Jan and Daryl Byrd from Tennessee Kitchen and Bath.

The Best Laid Plans.

The first item on my agenda to change out was the corner mounted jet tub in the master bedroom.  I’m not sure why that’s a requirement for every cabin in the Smokies or who even started it but in my mind it’s time has passed.  Instead of the jet tub I wanted a copper soaking tub with rock walls surrounding it and a fireplace in the background.  No contractors wanted to talk with me about a change like that, that’s blasphemy in their minds to remove a jet tub!  I stumbled onto a Facebook post where Jan and Daryl we’re removing a jet tub and installing a walk-in shower in a cabin and I thought “close enough.”  I sent them a message with my plans including a mocked-up picture and they jumped onboard.  They admitted they had never done this before but really enjoy a challenge.  I found my partner.

With all our plans in place now all we needed to do was close on buying the cabin. Our car was loaded front-to-back and top-to-bottom with supplies to start remodeling our cabin.  After we drove 650 miles from Chicago to Gatlinburg the call came that there was a last-minute problem and we wouldn’t be able to close. Let’s just say the next 24 hours didn’t go well for the bankers, the realtors or the title company people.  After all the last-minute issues were worked out we all gathered at the title company for the closing. As we waited for our meeting a very nice woman from the title company seeing that we were stressed approached us and asked us if we wanted any refreshments, I declined but my wife asked jokingly for a large glass of wine. The lady smiled and said, “we don’t have any wine dear, but we do have some moonshine if that’s agreeable?” and that’s how it came to pass that we sipped Ol’ Smoky’s Apple Pie Moonshine while signing our closing documents. Only in Tennessee.

We Own A Cabin! And then it happened.

Finally, we own a cabin!  It was October 28, 2016 and our cabin “Dancing Bearfoot” was born!  We met with our contractors and laid out the plans for the bedroom and the cabin.  We were planning to take our time and do one project a year, of course under the delusion that the rental income would pay for all of this – wrong!  Looking at schedules it was decided February of 2017 will be our renovation month, they were slow in the winter and cabin rentals are very slow in February, the best of both worlds.  With our plans laid out we spent the rest of the weekend tearing down, replacing, moving, washing, repairing almost everything inside a cabin.  We took an Economy cabin and transformed it into a Luxury level cabin in a weekend and we headed home…exhausted.

The first month the cabin started to rent very nicely, we were pleased with the start and all was going well.  I sat down on Friday November 25th the day after Thanksgiving and wrote a check for my first mortgage payment on the cabin, little did I know what was coming next.   On Monday November 28th in the afternoon I got a text from Jan our contractor “Chimney Tops is on fire and it’s moving north”.  Unknown to us, a fire was started in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on November 24th but a storm blew up on the 28th sending the fire north into Gatlinburg up the bypass and heading straight for our cabin.  I was thinking “my check is still in the mail…I haven’t made my first payment yet and it’s all lost”.  Luckily for us, the rains came, and the wind shifted and the fire stalled less than a mile from our cabin.  We were spared.

Sadly, 2500 other cabins and 14 lives were lost in the fire.  Which brings a dilemma, those 2500 cabins will be rebuilt and they will be bright shiny and new while the existing cabins in their current state will be old and outdated.  All the cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom were cheaply made and falling apart, unfortunately we were at risk of being one of those outdated cabins.  Time to change our timetable.  We decided we were going to overhaul the majority of the cabin during the entire month of February, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, we turned our cabin over to Jan and Daryl from Tennessee Kitchen and Bath.

Work started in the bedroom by tearing out the corner jet tub.  The walls were stripped and then framed to allow for the installation of the fireplace.  Stacked stone was installed and then the plumbing and drains were routed for the copper tub.  Ceramic wood tile was installed on the floor under the tub and finally the tub was installed on top. We were very hesitant that the electric fireplace would look cheap when compare to the copper tub but when you turn out the lights and turn on the fireplace the glow from the tub and the rock wall is incredibly soothing, exactly the look we were hoping for.

When you ask someone about curling up in front of the fire on a cool autumn evening, sipping warm cider from a mug with cinnamon sticks in it…no one is picturing white subway tile and gray laminate flooring on a sofa from IKEA. In everyone’s minds eye they are picturing a cabin.  Our goal is to create that feeling of fantasy.  As I mentioned before, nothing premade from Home Depot.  We had our kitchen cabinets custom made from a picture of one cabinet door found on Pinterest.  We had them finished to the natural pine wood color knowing that in time they will begin to turn to that deep rich amber color of most cabin interiors, it just takes patience.  The pine branch knobs came from a forge in Colorado, we love the feel of the knob, you can feel the quality.  Custom building each cabinet allowed us the opportunity to maximize what was a very limited kitchen area.  We had granite counter tops cut and installed and eliminated a two tub sink for one deep bowl sink, this gave us almost an extra foot of counter space.  After installing new appliances, the kitchen was complete.

In 1st floor bathroom they removed the old unsightly sink and vanity.  To keep the rustic feel we had the vanity custom made by a craftsman in Texas. Our goal was to have the sink look as if it had been there for decades, we wanted the rusty hinges and a bit of a weathered look.  On top we installed a rock sink and water pump style faucet.  We installed shelving with gas pipe to complete the rustic look but also to provide needed storage. The same stacked stone walls as was behind the copper tub was brought into the bathroom and installed as a backsplash. Add a branch framed mirror and oil rubbed bronze lighting and the rustic bathroom was complete and it’s amazing.

Fast forward to September 2017, my nephew while staying with us points out that the upstairs bathroom is not on par with the rest of the cabin, the one lone remaining cheaply made vanity is falling apart.  Once again, we turn to Jan and Daryl and start sharing ideas.  Daryl had recently built a live edge dining table that I fell in love with so I asked if he could build a live edge counter top that ran from the sink to over the toilet, they had never done that but were up for the challenge.  We closed off the cabin for February 2018 and again the work started.

Not knowing what to expect we turned the entire project over to Jan and Daryl.  They picked the wood, the finish….everything.  This project was blind faith and they delivered a great bathroom.  Live edge counter with a cedar enclosure hiding all the plumbing.  Custom cedar framed mirror and again cedar shelving with gas pipes for storage.

Now when I call Jan and Daryl the conversation pretty much starts with “you want us to build what..where?  The last time it was a flight of stairs going down the side of the cabin to a deck built inside the underneath of the cabin and install a full size 8×8 garden shed on top of it for private storage.  They never know what’s coming next.

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We say our cabin is one 1-part Home, 1-part Hilton and 1-part Disney.  We have all the comforts of home from comfortable beds to cable TV, to a fully stocked kitchen with premium appliances to the hot tub on the back deck.  If you’re a guest in our cabin we have every amenity you’d expect from a top-level hotel.  From our sheets on the bed to the towels in the bathroom to the USB outlets on every nightstand and our ultra-fast WIFI. As for the Disney piece, nothing washes away your stress faster than a log cabin. Every corner of this cabin takes you out of your suburban or city life and transports you to another place.  It’s an experience you can only feel not one you can describe. That’s “Dancing Bearfoot” and that’s the name of our cabin.

As far as the snake story, sorry I’ve gone too long as it is. Maybe next time!  But it’s a GREAT Story!

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Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dancing Bearfoot and The Star Throwers

Dancing Bearfoot and The Star Throwers, sounds like a marquee for a couple of bands doesn’t it? This is the one blog post that may not be of interest to many people but it’s a story I really want to share. How does one small cabin in the Smoky Mountains with a passion for helping injured and orphaned black bears go on to gain the attention of a worldwide community, humanitarian, ecological organization such as The Star Throwers?

The first question to ask is why are we dedicated to helping black bears to begin with, where did that come from?  The truth is my wife and I have a soft spot for animal causes.  She used to joke that whenever those Melissa Etheridge commercials came on TV for the ASPCA with the sad dogs…”there goes another $19.00”.  We had four rescue dogs living in our house at one time, the tumbleweeds of dog hair when you opened the doors and windows was laughable.  If we had one of those robotic vacuums it would have come out of its dock traveled three feet said “oh heck no” and gone park itself back in the dock.  ASPCA, Rover Rescue, PAWS Chicago, Midwest Beagle Rescue, I could go on and on with the checks we’ve written to these worthy organizations.

So why black bears?  A few years ago, I was reading a book called Bear in the Back Seat: Adventures of a Wildlife Ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park” by Kim DeLozier.  It’s a collection of short stories about his experiences as a ranger in the Smokies.  It was a great book to read on an airplane, so it became my constant travel companion.   The chapter about the skunk roundup in Cades Cove will leaving you in tears laughing. In the book the author points out that young bears that were injured or orphaned used to be euthanized by the rangers as it was more humane then letting them suffer or starve to death.

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A group of dedicated volunteers decided to form Appalachian Black Bear Rehabilitation & Release Center, Inc. to help the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park care for the orphaned cubs of the Smokies. The very first bear, “Zero”, arrived on July 8, 1996 and was released on September 20, 1996. So far over 260 black bear cubs and yearlings have been assisted by the facility.

So how did we get involved?  I’ve always admired companies that have a giving nature and try to make the world a better place, Patagonia Clothing and Tom’s Shoes are two great examples.  My wife and I decided early on that we would share part of our income from Dancing Bearfoot with a worthwhile organization in the Smoky Mountains area.   Since we had a love for animals, the National Park and its wildlife, supporting Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR) was a perfect fit. We started donating a portion from every guest stay to ABR as well as donating several vacation packages annually to the organization to be used for fundraising purposes.

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Who or what are The Star Throwers and how did we become involved with them?  One of the main forces behind The Star Throwers is a gentleman named Matt Landau.  If you’re in the vacation rental business you know Matt Landau as one of the giants in the industry.  Matt is a speaker, author, hosts a show called “A Sense of Place” on YouTube, he travels the world searching out and writing about the vacation rental business.  Think if him as the Guy Fieri of vacation rentals. Matt has a fleet of luxury vacation rentals in the historic district of Casco Viejo, Panama. Matt started Esperanza Social Venture Club who’s goal is to make their community safer and more resilient by demobilizing street gangs and integrating their members into formal society and their territories into the broader community.

Matt’s collaborator is Bob Garner, again a well-respected vacation rental operator of Casal dei Fichi which is a set of 6 eco-friendly apartments in Le Marche, Italy. Bob has a deep love for the environment. Through Bob’s collaboration with Treedom, local restaurants and his guests, Bob is planting trees to combat climate change.

The Star Throwers members are a group of vacation rental professionals who want to change the status quo by directly solving our community problems (aka. Throwing Stars). The Star Throwers have aligned themselves with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) These 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are universal, aiming to tackle global poverty, inequality and climate change.

In reading the story below, we remind ourselves that every vacation rental professional has the capacity to change his or her corner of the world.

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The Star Throwers program was inspired by The Starthrower by Loren Eiseley.

While walking along a beach after a storm, an elderly gentleman saw a boy in the distance bending down, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one back into the sea.

He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.”

The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

To this, the boy replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the man commented, “But do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The boy listened politely as he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it back into the ocean past the breaking waves. “It made a difference for that one,” he said.

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How did Dancing Bearfoot and The Star Throwers come to be?  What started out as a simple comment about a post on Matt’s weekly blog turned into several emails simply discussing our unique approach to the rental business in the Smoky Mountains. During one of those exchanges I brought up our project with Appalachian Bear Rescue and we discussed The Star Throwers. Next thing you know it’s 40 emails, Skype calls and drafting documents and redrafting those documents and finally certification.

There are 12 Certified Star Throwers initiatives worldwide in places like; France, Budapest, Thailand, Italy and Panama.  There are 7 in the United States and we are number seven and the only property in Tennessee with this honor.  We’re so very proud of this accomplishment and recognition.  Our hope is that within a few years there will be hundreds of rental properties making a difference in the world, each one of us throwing our own starfish back into the sea.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our project please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.