Smoky Mountain Thanksgiving

 

The Great Smoky Mountains are a place for families to come together and remember what life is all about. There are many things for us to be thankful for this season, and with Thanksgiving nearing we thought we could share what we are most thankful for!

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1. We are thankful for the Great Smoky Mountains! Being surrounded by these majestic mountains day in and day out is such a blessing. If you’re walking through or driving, you’re sure not to miss just how beautiful they are. We are SO glad we get to enjoy them year round! US-NationalParkService-ShadedLogo.svg.png

2. We are thankful for the National Park Service! This year, the NPS turned 100 years old! Without their aid and effort, the Smokies might not have made the Number One spot on the Most Visited National Park List. They strive to preserve our natural beauty and work hard to ensure that it stays that way and we are so very grateful.

 

3. We are thankful for the Seasons! We can not believe how much our surroundings change throughout the year. We were fortunate enough this Spring to walk through the wildflowers and spot a few salamanders! Summer was a hot one, but it made for lazy lake days and pleasant walks through the shade trees. Fall is still here and the colors are bountiful!

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4. We are thankful for all of the Attractions! There is no shortage of things to do in the Smokies. The area has everything you can think of! Tanger Outlet is the perfect spot to catch a bargain. Dollywood offers a family fun approach with shows and high flying coasters. We have go-karts, ferris wheels, mini golf, and more!

5. We are thankful for all of our visitors! Without all of our wonderful guests, the area would not be what it is today. It makes us SO happy that SO many people share our love of the Great Smokies! With over 10 million visitors to our Mountains, there’s no surprise in the amount of joy that is shared each year.

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6. We are thankful for our firefighters! With the drought we have had recently, the area is full of wildfires. Our firefighters have been working so hard to put out these natural and man made fires to their best ability, to help make sure that our land (and air quality!) is preserved.

 

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This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

 

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Fall Family Fun!

Gatlinburg is in full swing with smell of the seasons in the air! The colors are changing and providing the perfect backdrop for family fun activities! There is no shortage of things to do here in the Smokies, and we will let you in on the scoop.

 

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Why not plan a trip out to Kyker Farms in Sevierville for an afternoon on the farm? This family operated farm is located in Sevierville, TN. They offer a multitude of activities for all ages. Enjoy a relaxing hayride around the farm or take a stroll through the pumpkin patch. They even have three different corn mazes to choose from. For the kids they offer many different activities such as a playground, petting zoo, and jump pad.

 

Ober Gatlinburg is kicking off their Oktoberfest. Running through October 30, 2016, they will have The Bavarian Fun Makers Oompah Band performing traditional folk songs and dances outfitted in authentic lederhosen. They will also be serving traditional Bavarian food in the restaurant. Also, look for the Bier Garten, which will be featuring different beers to patrons 21 or older. For more information visit their website here.

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Take a hike (or drive!) through the park to experience the wonderful views that the Smokies has to offer. With the fall colors setting in, it’s the perfect time to get out there and enjoy all that nature has to offer. A few of our favorite places to drive through and snap some photos are Clingman’s Dome, Foothills Parkway, and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Some great hikes that can lead you to and through the foliage are Andrew’s Bald, Charlie’s Bunion, and of course Mt. LeConte.

 

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This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals
located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 865-430-3366. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Tax-FREE Weekend in Tennessee!

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Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 2, 2013 and ending at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 4, 2013, Tennessee will allow a tax-free holiday for going back to school. However, any one can make a purchase tax-free; you do not have to prove you are a student or buying for a student. The only items that will be tax-free are clothing, school supplies and computers.

Clothing ($100 or less per item) examples of tax-free clothing items include:

  • Belts
  • Capsclothes
  • Coats
  • Dresses
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • Hosiery
  • Jacketssneakers
  • Jeans
  • Neckties
  • Pants
  • Scarves
  • School Uniforms
  • Shirts
  • Shoes
  • Socksschool-uniform
  • Sneakers
  • Underwear

Tax exempt clothing items do NOT include accessories such as jewelry, bags or sports or recreational equipment like baseball gloves. When customers put clothing items on layaway during the tax-free holiday period, they will also be tax exempt when final payment and delivery is made after the exemption period.

School Supplies ($100 or less per item) examples:

  • Bindersbackpack
  • Bookbags/backpacks
  • Calculators
  • Chalk
  • Crayons
  • Eraserscalculator
  • Folders
  • Glue
  • Lunch boxes
  • Notebooks
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Pencilspaintbrushes
  • Rulers
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Clay and Glazes
  • Paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Sketch and drawing pads
  • Watercolors

Specifically excluded items include instructional material, including reference books and school computer supplies (compact discs, printers and printer ink).

Computers ($1,500 or less)

Computers with a purchase price of $1,500 or less, not for use of trade or business, are exempt from tax. Additionally, there is no requirement that purchases be made only for students.computer

The following items are NOT exempt from tax:

  • Computer parts, such as monitors, keyboards, speakers and scanners when not sold in conjunction with a computer set
  • Individually purchased software or other software not part of a preloaded software package on the initial purchase of a computer
  • Storage media, such as compact discs and USB flash drives
  • Handheld electronic devices
  • Personal digital assistants (PDAs) and electronic readers (i.e. Kindle, Nook, etc.)
  • Video game consoles
  • Computer printers and supplies for printers, such as paper and ink

Places to shop during the tax-free weekend in Gatlinburg include the Mountain Mall, the Village shops and the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC). The great things about shopping in Gatlinburg is that all the shops are within walking distance from one another or you can catch the Gatlinburg Free Parkway trolley.noc

Great places to shop in Pigeon Forge include the Pigeon Forge Factory Outlet Mall, the Pigeon Forge Belz Outlet Mall, the Tanger Outlet Mall and the Pigeon Forge Factory Outlets- The Red Roof Mall.

Some places to shop during the tax-exempt weekend in Sevierville are the Five Oaks Mall with well known clothing stores, TJ Maxx, Belk, Kmart, Wal-Mart, Staples, and Lee and Levi stores.tanger-five-oaks

There are multiple places to shop for back to school in Gatlinburg and surrounding areas near luxury cabin rentals, such as ERA In The Smokies cabin rentals, so make a last minute vacation and save on back-to-school items!

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair- Summer 2013

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Gatlinburg’s 38th annual Craftsmen’s Fair is currently being held in the Gatlinburg Convention Center and will continue until Sunday July 28, 2013. The fair is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Sundays. Admission for adults is $6.00 and children 12 and under are free. The Gatlinburg Convention Center is located at traffic light #8 on the parkway in downtown Gatlinburg.

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“Rarely does an event come along that features the wonderful variety of juried artists as the Gatlinburg’s Craftsmen’sFair. It is a show that should not be missed!”- Southeast Tourism Society

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There will also be Country and Bluegrass Music Shows daily at the Craftsmen’s Fair. The shows will be held at 12, 2 and 4 pm daily and at 12 and 2 pm on Sundays. The Summer Fair will feature Tim Watson The “Fiddle Man” and Dennis Lee and Band.

With over 200 booths of talented artisans, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is one of the only places that artisans from around the country can gather to demonstrate their talent and beautifully display their one of a kind crafts in the same place. The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is a truly magical event where such talent can be seen.

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Some participants in this year’s Summer fair include: Larry Burton, an award winning artist from Townsend, TN who uses watercolors on canvas; Sandy Hensley, a jewelry designer from Shelbyville, KY who is inspired by the spirituality of nature for her designs; and Charles Adams, a stained glass artist from Troy, Ala who has been participating in the Craftsmen’s Fair for nearly 30 years and is always a favorite.

There will be a new feature this Summer at the fair:

“We’re partnering with Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries to present our new children’s area. It’s free and available for children ages 2 and up. There will be lots of art projects for them, everything from making necklaces to painting birdhouses. It;s going to be adorable.” -Tracey Large

WILDlife!

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a vital sanctuary for a wide variety of animals. Around 65 species of mammals, over 200 species of birds, 50 native fish species and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians can be found in the park. Some of the most commonly seen animals include the white-tailed deer, groundhog, chipmunk, black bear and some other squirrel and bat species. Of the 200 species of birds, 85 of those species migrate from the neotropics. Over 700 miles of streams, creeks and rivers support the fish populate here in the Smokies and the park has been able to reintroduce some of the native species that has been eliminated in past years. Climatic and geographic factors make a perfect combination for the variety of 30 salamander species found in the park. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most diverse places in the world for salamanders, so you are lucky to see one!Pileated WoodpeckerPolliwogs, Eggs & Singing Frogs

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Unfortunately, many species have become threatened and endangered such as:

  • Indiana Bat
  • Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel
  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  • Spot-fin Chub
  • Duskytail Darter
  • Smoky MadamThere are approximately 2 bears per square mile in the National Park!
  • Yellowfin Madtom
  • Spruce-fir moss Spider
  • Eastern Small-footed Bat
  • Watershrew
  • Appalachian Cottontail
  • Henslow’s Sparrow
  • Olive-sided Flycatcher
  • Cerulean Warbler
  • Red Crossbill
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  • Golden-winged Warbler
  • Eastern Hellbender
  • Seepage Salamander
  • Junalusica Salamander
  • Olive-darter
  • Tennessee Dace

The park staff is continually working on making sure the environment for these particular species is accommodating to their individual needs, however, visitors to the park must be aware of these endangerments and be respectful of the native species surrounding them.

Viewing wildlife in the Smokies can be a challenge as most of the park consists of dense forest. Wildlife is often seen in the Cataloochee and Cades Cove areas. Animals can be seen while taking hikes in the park as well. Many animals are most active at night and morning, so these are the best times to catch a glimpse of the wonderful wildlife in the Smokies. It’s also a good idea to bring binoculars and scan the trees for wildlife as well.

Beloved Black Bears

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Even though they look cute and cuddly, black bears are wild animals and are dangerous and unpredictable. While visiting the Great Smoky Mountains please do not approach the bears or allow them to approach you and do not feed them! “Panhandler” bears, who have had access to human food and garbage only live half of their normal life expectancy. Not to mention, you can be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced to six months in jail for feeding bears and improper food storage. Many areas around the country are rapidly developing to accommodate more housing. Because of their loss of habitat in North America, black bears are now confined to wooded areas or dense brush land. In the Smokies, you can often see a black bear in the Cades Cove area and many other areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ober Gatlinburg also has a black bear exhibit containing bears.

About Black Bears

Black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains are black in color, but in other parts of the country they can be brown or cinnamon in color.  These creatures can grow up to six feet in height standing. A male black bear usually weighs about 250 pounds, while the female black bear generally weighs just over 100 pounds. However, by the fall, black bears can double their weight preparing for the winter months. This has been observed by the park staff as the black bears in this area have been documented weighing over 600 pounds. Wild black bears can live anywhere from 12 to 15 years. Unfortunately, because humans can be careless, these precious creatures sometimes do not live out their life expectancy because they are made to live on berries and when they eat trash it puts toxins in their bodies. black bear

Bears are most active during the early morning and late evening hours in spring and summer. Black bears can run up to 30 miles per hour, swim very well and also climb trees. They will often mark trees with their teeth and claws as a form of communication with other bears. Bears in the Smokies often make their dens at higher elevations in hollowed out trees. They enter dens in October and November and hibernation usually lasts between 3 to 5 months. A special hormone, leptin is released into the black bear’s systems, to suppress appetite. Because they do not urinate or defecate during dormancy, the nitrogen waste from the bear’s body is biochemically recycled back into their proteins. This also serves the purpose of preventing muscle loss, as the process uses the waste products to build muscle during the long periods of inactivity.

Safety Around Black Bears

Black bear attacks on humans are very rare. Between 1900 and 2007, only 60 people were killed in black bear attacks across North America. However, if you do find yourself in an aggressive encounter with a black bear, you should fight back with any object available weather it be a stick, a rock or even your shoe. The bear may be considering you as prey so you want to let it know that you are dangerous to them. Please report all black bear incidents immediately to a park ranger or the park service. Here are a few tips to better protect yourself from a dangerous black bear situation:

  1. When camping, never cook or store food in or near your tentbear_picnic_table
  2. Hang food and other items with strong odors (ie, toothpaste, bug repellent, soap, etc.) out of reach of bears. Hang items at least 10 ft above the ground and. If no trees are available, store your food in airtight or bear-proof containers
  3. Change your clothing before you go to sleep; don’t wear what you cooked in to go to bed and be sure to store smelly clothing along with your food/smelly items
  4. Keep the area clean. Be sure to wash dishes, dispose of garbage, and wipe down tables
  5. Burn garbage completely in a hot fire and pack trash out – don’t bury it
  6. Don’t surprise bears. If you’re hiking, make your presence known. Make noise by talking loudly, singing, or wearing a bell
  7. If you can, travel with a group. Groups are noisier and easier for bears to detect
  8. Keep in mind that bears tend to be more active at dawn and dusk so plan your hikes accordingly
  9. Stay on marked trails and obey the regulations of the area you’re hiking/camping in
  10. If you’re hiking in bear country, keep an eye out for tracks, scat, digs, and trees that bears have rubbed

Gatlinburg Ranked among Best Places to Buy a Vacation Home

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Gatlinburg, TN is now one of the most popular places to buy a vacation home. According to 24/7 Wall Street, the popular vacation spot is the ninth on the list of the top ten places in the U.S. to purchase a home. The beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park draws many of the visitors to the area. Guests fall in love with Gatlinburg’s friendly customer service, attractions, and majesty of the mountains and end up coming back to purchase a home that they can come to every year. There are many vacation rental programs in Gatlinburg that you can list your property on while you are not visiting. At most of these programs you may stay as much as you want in your vacation home and when you are not planning on staying, they will rent it for you! ERA In The Smokies is an exceptional program to list your property on. They offer unlimited stay for their owners, are open seven days a week, have emergency after hour services, exceptionally friendly customer service, many years of experience and alliances with local businesses for repairs, service and retail. ERA In The Smokies is also a full service real estate company. The real estate office is located in the same office as the faction rentals so purchasing and listing your home on their rental program is a fast and convenient process. You can rest assured knowing ERA In The Smokies’ desire and strength to be on the forefront of advertising and marketing will aide in getting your cabin rented frequently. Location, location, location. ERA In The Smokies’ rental and real estate office location is a major component in their rental success, located on the main parkway coming into Gatlinburg 100 yards from traffic light #1, it is easy and often that visitors pull into the first cabin rental business they see. era office

Of the ten cities on 24/7 Wall Street’s top places to buy a vacation home list, Gatlinburg boasts the least expensive median home price. Other cities on the list in order are:

  1. Ocean City, New Jersey- median asking price $525,000
  2. North Wildwood, New Jersey- median asking price $289,000
  3. Kissimmee, Florida- median asking price $298,800
  4. Ocean City, Md0 median asking price $275,000
  5. Marco Island, Florida- median asking price $499,000
  6. Big Bear Lake, California- median asking price $335,000
  7. Lake Arrowhead, California- median asking price $399,000
  8. Panama City Beach, Florida- median asking price $294,245
  9. Gatlinburg, Tennessee- median asking price $179,600
  10. Cherry Grove Beach, South Carolina- median asking price $219,900

Gatlinburg’s affordability also brings many visitors to the area. Travelers can enjoy the great outdoors, walk the strip downtown, go to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visit Cooters in Gatlinburg for free, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a day in Cades Cove and many other day activities.With over 100 places to enjoy a great meal and countless activities to partake in, Gatlinburg, TN is a great place to buy a vacation home. Buying a vacation home and listing it as a rental with ERA In The Smokies is a good way to plan for your finances, fun, family and the future.