Crow Family Happenings

Monday, June 27, 2016

Family Reunion Activities 2016

Smoky Mountains (Free)

Auto Tourism 

These are places you mostly drive to in the Park. There might be some walking but it is generally under a mile. This includes...
  • Newfound Gap (on the way to the top, not much here, but it is a pretty stop on the way to...) Clingman's Dome (the highest point in Tennessee) which has a visitors center and a steep but short & paved 0.3 mile hike to the top where there is a spiral ramp up a tower. There is no shade, but there are plenty of places to stop and rest.
  • Cades Cove is a beautiful valley surrounded on nearly all side by the Smoky Mountains. The residents were forced out when the park was formed in the 1930's and their homes & farms were preserved and can be toured. The drive around the park can be crowded & painfully slow as people stop frequently to photograph the wildlife. There are also trails to at least one waterfall and a one way dirt road back to Townsend.
  • Cataloochee is a smaller version of Cades Cove.
  • Roaring Fork is a 5.5 mile drivable scenic nature trail that follows a mountain creek. There are historic building to stop and see and a hiking trail to a waterfall.
  • Rich Mountain Road in a one way dirt & gravel road over the mountains from Cades Cove to Townsend. Open only in the summer.
  • Little River Road runs from Townsend up the Little River into the park. The views are pretty. There are several numbered pull offs for some areas like Meigs Falls & The Sinks and some without numbers like White Oak Falls Flats & Cane Creek Twin Falls. Some are right off the road, some have a short hike to see the waterfall. Some are great for picnics, others for hiking.


There are a couple dozen waterfalls in the Park. Some can be walked to easily, others hikes are strenuous. The name of the falls is followed by it height, the round trip distance of the hike, a difficulty rating, and the trail head location.

NorthWest Side (where we are)
  • Abrams Falls, 20 ft, 5m, moderate, Cades Cove (short falls but lots of volume)
  • Lynn Camp Prong Cascades, many & small, 1.3m, easy, Tremont
  • Grotto Falls, 25 ft, 3m, moderate, Roaring Fork
  • Rainbow Falls, 80ft, 5.4m, moderate, Roaring Fork
  • Laurel Falls, 80ft, 2.6m, moderate, Sugarlands (popular)
NorthEast Side
  • Ramsey Cascades, 100ft, 8m, strenuous, Greenbriar (popular)
  • Hen Wallow Falls, 90 ft, 4.4m, moderate, Cosby Campground
  • Mouse Creek Falls, 45ft, 4m, moderate, Big Creek
North Carolina Side
  • Mingo Falls, 120ft, 0.4m, moderate, Mingo Falls Campground
  • Indian Creek and Toms Branch Falls, 25 ft, 1.6m, easy, Deep Creek Campground
  • Juney Whank Falls, 90ft, 0.8m, moderate, Deep Creek Campground


The are some popular hikes for every skill level. The views will depend upon the weather. Noted for each line is the elevation change, the round trip distance as well as the starting point.
  • Charlies Bunion, 1600ft, 8m, a picturesque stone outcrop on the AT, Newfound Gap.
  • Andrews Bald, 1200ft, 4m, a clearing at the top of the mountains, Clingman's Dome
  • Chimney Tops, 1400ft, 4m, popular but very steep hike, Sugarlands
  • Mt LeConte. 6593ft, This mountain inspired the song Rocky Top, There are five different trails leading to the summit. The shortest in just under 10m round trip, but is closed on week days.

Attractions (Usually Not Free)

Cherokee Indian Reservation (90 minute away)

Located on the North Carolina side of the park, The Qualla Cherokee Land Trust is populated by those Cherokee who hid in the Smokys to avoid forced removal. Today they are the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. There are several attractions, a museum, a traditional village, outdoor dramas, art galleries, arts & crafts markets, golf course, and a casino.

BIA Highway 441, Cherokee, NC 28719

State Road 1361, Cherokee, NC 28719


123 Cromwell Dr, Townsend, TN 37882 Admission $7
        July 29 Concert 7:00pm Emisunshine and the Rain $8.

Sugarlands Visitors Center (free)
2 miles south of Gatlinburg on US-441, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

A historic grist mill located on the North Carolina side of the GSMNP

121 Schoolhouse Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771 

5040 Highlands Road, Franklin, NC 28734

Dollywood (40 minutes away)

Dollywood is really two parks in nearby Pigeon Forge: A theme park ($65 all day pass) with roller coasters, shows, & pricey food, AND a water park ($48 all day pass) with water slides of various heights and intensity. Open from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM (7:00 PM for the water park)

Alpine Slides

There are a couple of these. Each is $15 per ride with discounts for buying multiple rides.
Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster
Ober Gatlinburg Ski Mountain Coaster
The Coaster at Goats on the Roof

Inner Tubes on the Little River

On the Little River which runs through Townsend. Prices range from $10 to $15, but are for all day and include unlimited shuttle rides back up river to start again.
River Rage Tubing $10
River Rat Tubing $15
Cowboy Tubin $10

White Water Rafting

On the Pigeon River, Trips are about $30-$40 per person, depending upon the intensity of the trip.
Big Creek Expeditions
Rafting in the Smokies

Zip Line/Tree Ropes Courses

There are more of these in the Smoky's than you can shake a stick at. None of them are cheap, but for 1 to 2 hours of high flying excitement you will pay between $50 & $100 per person. Here are two of them.
Smoky Mountain Ziplines
Wears Valley Zipline Adventures


Forbidden Caverns
455 Blowing Cave Road, Sevierville, Tennessee 37876
Tuckaleechee Caverns
825 Cavern Road, Townsend, Tennessee 37882

Bike Rentals

10035 Campground Dr, Townsend, TN 
8125 Old Highway 73 Townsend TN 37882
Motor Cycle Rentals
8459 TN-73, Townsend, TN 37882

Horseback Riding

Guided Trail Rides cost $30 per person. Maximum of 9 riders per group. Rides are about 1 hour through the "wilderness" of Cades Cove. No reservations.
Guided Carriage Rides cost $12 per person. Maximum of 6 riders per group. Rides are about 30-45 minutes along forested trails. Guide will tell some of the history as well as the point out wildlife. No reservations.
Guided Hayrides cost $12 per person, and carry up to 65 people (minimum 2 people). Rides take 90-180 minutes depending upon traffic (apparently they use the same roads as the cars). Only 4 rides are scheduled per day. 10am, 12pm, 3pm, & 6pm.

505 Old Cades Cove Rd. Townsend, Tn 37882
1\2 hr - $15; 1hr ride - $25; 1 1\2 hr - $37; 2 hr - $50
Reservations preferred. 865-448-6411

Next To Heaven
Unguided Horseback Riding - $37 plus tax
1239 Wears Valley Road
Townsend, TN 37882

Other Fun Stuff

Outdoor Gravity Park - Because rolling down a hill inside of giant plastic ball your idea of fun. Bring your swimsuit cause the ball has water inside it. $14-$20 a roll
Flyaway Indoor Skydiving - Because no one want to jump out of perfectly good airplane. $35 for the first 3 minutes. Additional minutes are cheaper.
Helicopter tours - Because why see it from the ground when you can fly over it. Depending on the tour you pick the rates are from $35 per person on up (way up).
ATV Rides - Because we don't need no stinking roll cage. $60-$160 per hour plus tax and insurance. depending on the size of the machine you want to drive.
Balloon Rides - Because the view is outstanding, and you are on a tether so you wont float too far from your car. Pick daytime or evening, weather permitting. $17 per person. (an untethered balloon ride will run about $250 per person).
Circe G Ranch Safari Drive - Because you want to see zoo animals but you hate to see them in cages. $9.00 per person.
Zip Coaster - Because ziplines through trees are for tree huggers. Its $29 but the price includes a ride from the ticket booth up to the Zip Coaster "Dome" in a giant yellow Monster Bus! The Zip coaster itself is almost half a mile long. And when you are all done you get to ride the Monster Bus back down to the parking lot!
Monster Truck Rides - Because monster trucks!! $13 per person
Indoor Shooting Range - Because you could be shooting. $14 hourly, $8 daily gun rental

Gatlinburg (50 minutes away)

Gift shops, candy shops, clothing shops, lots of restaurants (Hot dogs, popcorn, ice cream and an oddly large number of places for pancakes). You pay for everything, including parking. Lots of people walking around. Driving is painfully slow in places. There is the Sugarland Cellars Winery, though I can make no claim for its quality. There is even a tram/cable car ride to the top of the mountain.

Pigeon Forge (35 minutes) & 

Built up around Dollywood, there are places to mini golf, go carts, bungee jumping, laser tag, and endless varieties of themed dinner shows (Hatfields & McCoys, Magicians, Titanic, Ripleys Believe-it-or-Not, etc). It also has lots of shopping, similar to Gatlinburg (above), but it is more spread out, with wider streets, and fewer pedestrians.

Maryville/Alcoa (20 minutes away)

Food Lion
1707 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Maryville, TN 37804

244 S Hall Rd, Alcoa, TN 37701
507 N Foothills Plaza Dr, Maryville, TN 37801

836 Louisville Rd, Alcoa, TN 37701

Parkway Drive-In -
2909 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy.
Maryville TN 37804

Vienna Coffe House -
212 College Street, Maryville, TN 37804

Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria
128 W. Broadway, Maryville, TN 37801

Smokey Mountain Brewery -
743 Watkins Road, Maryville, TN 37801

Townsend (5 minutes away)

Called the peaceful side of the Smokies

Townsend Historical Trail
Bike path & walking trail) about 10 mile loop
Markers along the way and an informative booklet tell the histories of Native Americans, settlers, special places such as springs and cemeteries, railroad and logging days, and features along the Little River.
from 6959 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy
to 8520 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy

Townsend IGA - Supermarket
7945 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Townsend, TN 37882

Burger Master Drive In
8439 TN-73, Townsend, TN 37882

The Chocolate Bar - Sweet Shop
7807 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Townsend, TN 37882

The Artistic Bean - Coffee Shop
8027 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Townsend, TN 37882

Trailhead Steakhouse
7839 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Townsend, TN 37882

Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro - Restaurant/Bar
7140 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Townsend, TN 37882

Cades Cove Cellars - Winery
7126 East Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Townsend, TN 37882

Other Stuff

Old Knoxville home (45 minutes away)
214 Druid Drive, Knoxville Tenn 37920

Closest LDS Chapel (20 minutes away)
706 Amerine Rd, Maryville, TN 37804

Monday, June 29, 2009

I got an email the other day from a long time friend. It sat in my inbox for a couple of days because I didn't notice it at first. I have over 450 unread emails cramming up my inbox. Mostly junk. I'm afraid I've missed other emails in all that junk so if you have written me and I haven't responded that could be why. I have created a new email and will post to friends and family. If you would like the new address just let me know in the comments area.

But my point was...she mentioned she checks my blog to get updates and finds I seem too busy to post to the blog. Which is not that far off the mark. In my return email to her I gave a pretty comprehensive update of my family. While proof reading before I hit the send button, I thought it would make a good blog update. So here is The Crow Family Happenings update...slightly modified for a general audience. Enjoy!

"Glad to hear from you. We are doing great. Bruce is happy in his new job and we (me and the kids) are dealing with the frequent travel like champs. Bruce actually feels more comfortable and in his element in this new position so it was a blessing in disguise when he was laid off. Last week he interviewed for a new position within the company with encouragement from his boss. Bruce was told he is at the top of the short list for this position!

I am doing good and feel good for the first time in a long time. I have increased the amount of exercise I get and decreased the amount of food I eat. With 3 months of this I have only managed to lose one pound! Frustrating beyound belief. But the true goal is to increase my energy, endurance and health. The side benefit was supposed to be better fitting clothes but we can't all have everything we want right?

Alyssa has decided to be homeschooled with the boys this year. I am really excited about having all three kids home. It's amazing. It surprises me continually how much I enjoy teaching them and being with them all day. I have seen so many improvements in all the kids.

Austin is so much more relaxed and less stressed about school. Alyssa and Austin are getting along and on occasion actually act like friends! Andrew is just a little love and continues to bring happiness to all. Sibling rivalry is minimal and life seems more enjoyable without the demands of homework in the evenings. We now have uninterupted family time and less stressful mornings.

I love the research and planning involved in deciding what to teach the kids. I have settled on a literature based curriculum for history, geograpghy and language arts. Through reading both classics and "modern" classics we will study the cultures, history and places where we read. All of the writing and english type assignments will be based on what we read.

I am still looking at different sciences because a lot of homeschool science is based on "Christian" science. Meaning they believe in a young Earth (6000 years old) and there is no discussion of evolution. I have found science for the boys but still looking for something that will challenge Alyssa.

We just finished our plans for our family vacation. We are headed to Oregon for my Grandmothers family reunion. All of my siblings will be attending so we will also be doing a mini "Pratt family reunion". We finished planning our route and activities and decided we will stop in Utah for a couple of days. August 3rd-5th. Monday we'll hang out and go to Park City to do the Alpine Slide. (All Utah friends are welcome to meet us there!) Tuesday we are headed to Provo. Bruce wants to look at some documents in the BYU library and it would be fun to take the kids around campus, etc. Wednesday we'll spend in Salt Lake. Bruce has more documents he wants to see at in the Church Archives. (He's working on a historical book about The Cane Creek Masacre that happened in Tenessee in the 1800's.)

We'll leave Utah on Thursday and head to Oregon. Friday my sister and her family will be sealed in the LDS Medford temple. Saturday is the main reunion activities. Sunday we will head to Crater Lake for some hiking, etc. Monday we will go rafting on the Rogue River. Tuesday we drive to California through the Redwood National Forest and on to visit Bruce's parents in Stockton. Then down to Hollywood to visit my brother at his restuarant XIV. Our next stop will be the Grand Canyon! That was Alyssa's request for our vacation. We will travel through New Mexico, Texas, Oaklahoma and Arkansas. All places we've never been before. We will be gone a little over two weeks. We are excited for the family time and seeing many national parks, friends and family along the way."

So there you have it. Crow Family Happenings both past and future. Hope to see y'all soon!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Job

I have a job now. It involves travelling a bit more than I did before, but the important part is I have a job. I am working for a software company, installing, training, and consulting new clients on how to get the most out of their purchase. So far in May I will travel 9 out of 20 days, or 45% of the time. But that probably won't maintain itself.

Work progresses on the book. My wife is reviewing the first part and says she likes it so far, and is making lots of "corrections." It proves she loves me. I'll be looking for some others to read it to make sure I can actually write an interesting sentence or if I just think I can. And getting the opinion of someone who doesn't know the story already would be valuable.

My other blog has been getting more attention. The Mormon Times, sort of a online arm of Deseret News, posted a link to one of my posts and my traffic that day jumped 1300%. The Mormon online blogging community (called the Bloggernacle) is not that large, a couple hundred at most, but getting bigger quickly. The size of the readership is bigger but who knows by how much.

I'll be arriving back at home late tonight. It will be good to be home. I have really good kids and my wife obviously loves me. [Now, why was it I took a traveling job? Oh yeah, I need the money.]

Monday, February 23, 2009


I was recently laid off from work. My employer decided that in the current market that they could not compete with the low overhead the smaller boutique firm. So instead of even trying, they are walking away from an already established business. In the process my position became unnecessary. I was given two weeks notice and a small severance package.

So into the job market I went. It wasn't so bad really. Lots of phone calls, most to people I didn't know. Many online job applications. Most employers are only accepting the applications online nowadays. Some you can still wal into, but evn ten they direct you to a kiosk with a computer which connects to their internet site. Might as well be at home. A few called me back and scheduled interviews. So that is what the job search consisted of, phone calls, online applications followed by phone interviews.

A little over a week ago I had two face to face interviews. Both seemed to like me. Both called to say they wanted to move foward. One even said they wee going to make an offer, by today. The other said they were going to meet to decide if they were going to make an offer, today. And so I am dying under the anticipation of "what next?". I have a few things to do. But nothing seems to keep me busy enough to stop the "I'm gong crazy!" feeling.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Woodbury Fudge

My grandmother had a recipe for Fudge that I have found few other places. She got it from her mother who got it from hers traceable back as far her ancestors were Mormon. Over the Christmas holidays, my siblings and I were talking about it origins. None of us could recall the details. So it was time for some research.

Apparently her recipe is called "Opera Fudge" and was "invented" in 1866 in Baltimore. Opera fudge is made like regular fudge except that after cooking to a "soft ball" stage the fudge is then treated in the "creme fondent method" which means it is poured on a marble slab or on a large platter and allowed to cool completely. Then it is stirred with a wooden spoon or paddle until the glossy shine fades to a matte finish. It is then worked by hand adding butter and milk until it is soft like clay. It is then formed into inch thick logs and sliced for serving. It is call Opera Fudge probably because of its similarity to Opera drops, which were vanilla and made the same way but then covered in chocolate. One source claims this method is older than the currently more popular method of fudge making, but fell off because of being more labor intensive.

And the Woodbury connection? Family histories contain countless attempts to supply the sweets the family wanted. Sorghum molasses and honey were the two most common. One ancestor made a very popular sorghum peach preserves. Others made candy with honey. Every effort was made to replace the supply of Sugar the Utah just did not have. At some point the fudge recipe made it out west, since the Woodbury family has been in the old Salt Lake City 4th and 7th Ward since before they were formed in the early 1850's, they would not have brought it with them.

My Aunt, however, thinks her mother got this recipe when she was attending UofU studying Home Economics in the 1920's.

1 1/4 Cup Milk
2 squares baking chocolate
3 Cups Sugar
2 Tablespons of Butter

Adding a little Corn Syrup helps prevent it from crystalizing too soon, but that is a modern addition.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snow Day?

I was awakened this morning at 5:30 AM by my cell phone. I didn't think much of it. I've grown used to waking up to my cell phone alarm. But I set it to 6:00 AM. So I grumbled, rolled over and turned it off. 15 seconds later my wife's cell phone went off. "She doesn't use her cell phone to wake herself up" I thought. She turned off her ringer and rolled over. It took me another 30 seconds to realize it was a real call.

The only one crazy enough to call both of us at 5:30 AM was a family member, with bad news! Reaching over I looked at my phone and saw I have a message. A few numbers later I hear this message "This is the superintendent of Robertson County Schools. Due to inclement weather, schools will be delayed for two hours." What? I get out of bed and run (OK, I stumbled) to the window. Looking out I see......nothing. No snow, no ice, not even fog. I see a couple of cars with frost. It is cold. It is in the 20's. But come on! School delayed on account ....cold?

This happened last year too. The school budgets a certain amount of snow weather days, and they never use it all. So when the chance comes, they take it.

I get to work and find there were some areas with snow... south of us. And most of the counties cancelled school altogether. Black ice was every where. There were even some cars with an inch of snow on top driving on the freeway. I must have been in a pocket of clear weather.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Young Women Service Project

Tonight the Young Women are offering free baby sitting at the church. The idea is that the parents can use the time to go Christmas shopping. Our meeting house sits two blocks from a very large shopping district. It includes a large mall, a Target, a Walmart, and miles of strip malls. So the two hours they are offering would not be taken up driving.

I recall an advirtisement last year for a church that did the same thing, except they offered it Sunday Morning. Parents could drop off their kids and go shopping while the kids went to church. It gave me all sorts of mixed up feelings. Is it good or bad?

I have fewer mixed feeling for this activity, mostly because it isn't on Sunday, but have we just bought in to the commercialism we should be staying above. Do we really need help from our church to be more material? When was the last time group baby sittng was arranged for a ward temple trip? Or a service project?

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