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Archive for March, 2010

The Flight of Honey Bees Means Spring Has Arrived in the Smokies

While honey bees don’t hibernate, they do remain in their hives throughout the Winter months, living off honey they made and stored last year. And now, with warmer days and budding trees, the bees at Balltown Bee Farm are finally emerging from their hives — officially confirming the arrival of Spring in the Smokies. In another rite of Spring, Balltown’s beekeeper Kelley Penn (above) carefully inspects each hive to see how the bees fared over the Winter. “Quite well,” she said.

More than just bees, Balltown Bee Farm is a small, sustainable farm producing mixed vegetables, spring transplants and shiitake mushrooms, all raised chemical-free. You can find their products at the farmers markets in Bryson City, Sylva and Cashiers (in season).

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When in Deep Creek, Don’t Miss the Trail to Juneywhank

Because they’re on the main trail, two of Deep Creek’s waterfalls — the Tom Branch and Indian Creek falls — are relatively easy to visit. But Juneywhank Falls requires a little more effort. And those that make the short quarter-mile uphill trek to the falls are rewarded with a beautiful 80-foot cascade. And if a brief rest is desired, there’s a wide foot bridge at the foot of the falls, with benches for sitting and viewing the show.

Download a map of the Deep Creek trails and waterfalls. More info.

Photo by Shari Jardina, an Indianapolis photographer who’s captured many images of the North Carolina Smokies.

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Next Sunday, Try This Sundae Breakfast at Home

One of the most-requested breakfasts at the Folkestone Inn Bed and Breakfast is their French Toast Sundae. And innkeepers Steve and Eva Clayton are graciously sharing their recipe with Postcards From The Smokies readers.

French Toast Sundae

Serves 6

5    eggs
2    cups Half n Half
1    Tbsp. vanilla extract
1    Tbsp. cinnamon
1    Tbsp. sugar
1/8    tsp. nutmeg
12    slices French bread, sliced 1-inch thick
Crushed cornflakes, enough to coat one side of bread
Fresh sliced fruits, in season
Whipped cream

Preheat griddle to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and Half n Half until well combined. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Dip bread into mixture but do not soak. Dip one side of the bread into cornflakes.  Repeat with all slices.

Add butter to griddle and cook bread with cornflakes side down first. Flip when golden brown. Turn and cook other side. Place two slices on plate and top with fresh fruit. Add dollop of whipped cream. Serve with maple syrup.

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The Little Tennessee River, Briefly Interrupted

When it was completed in 1944, Fontana Dam was the fourth tallest dam in the world. And at 480 feet, the Tennessee Valley Authority dam is still the tallest in the Eastern United States, and a must-see for visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s the first of five hydroelectric dams along the Little Tennessee River.

Constructed to provide additional electrical power for the war effort, the dam and the resulting 11,700-acre Fontana Lake required the purchase of 68,292 acres of land, 5125 acres of which was forested and had to be cleared. 1,311 families and 1,047 graves had to be relocated, and four Western North Carolina towns — Fontana, Bushnell, Forney, and Judson — were completely inundated.

As the four towns disappeared, a new village was created to house the project’s 5,000 construction workers. Many of those structures remain today as part of the Fontana Village Resort.

The story of the dam’s origin is portrayed at the Fontana Dam Visitor Center (Open May to November, 9 am – 7 pm, daily), and in Lance Holland’s book, “Fontana – A Pocket History of Appalachia.”

Photo by J.R. vanLienden

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