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The arts and crafts heritage is alive and well in the Smokies

  • Written by and photos by Deborah Stone

It takes Pastor Jimmy Morrow about three hours to make one of his famous kudzu baskets. Watching him wind this tough and stringy plant’s vine over and around countless times is a hypnotic experience. Listening to him tell tales of Appalachia, on the other hand, is an insightful journey into one of the most fascinating regions in our country. Morrow is a multitalented man – an author, historian, artisan and snake-handling pastor – who is a well-known figure in the Smoky Mountains. His family dates back to the Civil War era with roots in Morgan Gap, deep in the heart of East Tennessee. Pastor Morrow’s primitive art paintings tell both historical and religious stories, and his folk art dolls of corn husk are portrayed as characters within these accounts. He’s one of many residents in the Smokies doing their part to keep the Appalachian arts and crafts heritage alive.

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Making family memories in the Smokies is easy as pie (pecan, preferred!)

  • Written by and photos by Deborah Stone

It’s impossible not to have fun in Gatlinburg. Activities abound in this quaint Tennessee town, as well as in its neighboring burgs, from a variety of thrilling outdoor adventures to an array of exciting indoor attractions. And lest we not forget, Gatlinburg is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most unique and special wilderness areas in the country. With its extensive lodging, dining, shopping and other services available, the city is the ideal host community for many of the park’s millions of annual visitors.

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Tigers and monkeys and mongoose, oh my!

  • Written by Deborah Stone

IMG 1744Svelte and graceful, the lithe tigress made her way through the tall grass, her movements barely making a whisper. She had come to check on her three cubs, who were playfully engaged in some sort of comical roll-over game with one another. As soon as her presence registered, however, the cubs stopped their antics and began to dutifully follow their mother. We watched in awe and wonderment as this elegant creature in all her glorious stripes crossed the road in front of our safari jeep. Though we knew the tigress was fully aware of us, she never glanced our away, preferring to remain aloof and distant. The cubs trailed after their mother, one at a time, closely adhering to her path. Two of the trio made it to the other side; the third became wary and then balked, choosing to retreat back into the grass. It only took a moment before the tigress realized the situation and quickly headed back over the road to retrieve her skittish young’un. It was a privileged moment for our group and we reveled in the good fortune and timing that had allowed us to witness this amazing scene at Ranthambore National Park in northern India.

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Bern is a city of superlatives

  • Written by Deborah Stone

If there were a beauty pageant for European capitals, Bern would get the crown. This well-known Swiss city oozes with cosmopolitan charm, history and culture, and consistently gets high marks from visitors. They extol its accessibility, unique attractions and impressive Alpine views, as well as its ample shopping and dining options.

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You don’t have to be a celeb to enjoy the star-studded Swiss cities of Lausanne and Montreux

  • Written by Deborah Stone

It’s hard to imagine what a noted British poet, a famous film actor, a celebrated French fashion designer and the lead vocalist of the rock band Queen could possibly have in common. Yet, each of them – Lord Byron, Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel and Freddie Mercury – all resided, at one point in their lives, in and around the French-speaking region of Lausanne and Montreux, Switzerland. After visiting this vibrant and alluring locale, I understood why these celebs and others have chosen to call it home.

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