Life & Death at Christmas Place

Over the weekend, we noticed that a duck has nested and laid several eggs under a sheltering tree in our courtyard train bed.  The eggs are a beautiful light turquoise color (though you can’t see it in these photos).

Duck's nest under a tree in the courtyard train bed at Christmas Place

View of duck's nest under a tree in the courtyard train bed.

We’ve also noticed this morning that a young red-tailed hawk has spotted the nest and is anxious for a meal!  Several smaller birds in the area are trying to distract the little hawk, and we are anxiously awaiting Mama Duck’s return to watch over her babies.  The hawk has been swooping around, waiting for the courtyard to clear of people before attacking the nest.

Red-tailed hawk perched on the roof of Christmas Place

While I was taking these photos, we think Mama Duck flew over and was waiting for me to leave before returning to her nest.  We’ll keep you updated on the outcome in this battle.  Of course we want the little hawk to have a good life, but we’d sure like to see those ducklings in a few weeks, too!  Life sometimes makes for hard choices.

~Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

…and then it flooded .. just a little ..

We were very blessed to be spared the worst of yesterday’s weather, but there was plenty of rain over the mountains.  Leaving work Wednesday night, I drove as close as I dared to the raging rapids behind the store.  It was dusk, and still raining, so I must apologize for the quality of these images, but I think you’ll get a feel for what was happening.  On a normal day, the water would not even be visible from this vantage point – did you even know we have a river running behind the store?

It’s amazing to see the water surging around our picnic tables and into the lot!  By the way, I did not use a special lens or any computer manipulation – the special effects here are just raindrops on the camera lens – kind of interesting, I’ve decided.

Just to compare, here are pictures I took Thursday – the day after the flood.  If you are familiar with the area, you can see that the water that surged into our lot left a bit of a mess in its wake.

You can’t even see the water in the river today!

Oh, wait .. here it is – still surging – but down several feet from yesterday.

Okay, yes, a few feet of river water rise is quite an event for January in Pigeon Forge!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Beautiful snow on the mountain peaks – more on the way this weekend.  It’s okay if it stays up on the mountain peaks – camera range will be quite sufficient, thank you.

Iago & Snowmageddon!

Want to see some pictures from our fast and furious 24 hour snow event?  (Click on each picture to see a larger view.)

(Only footsteps.  The car had to overnight in a parking lot a mile away – DOWNHILL from the house…)


It’s amazing that most of the images look like black-and-white photos – but they aren’t!

Diamonds scattered across the snow!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Classic Chevrolets

When I was a kid, my dad always called the impalas we saw grazing and racing across the African plains “Chevys” by mistake, and we had to correct him (and always enjoyed the joke).  Well, you won’t find a Chevy Impala over at The Inn at Christmas Place today – it’s the weekend of the Chevy Classic Car Show – but only for 1955, 1956, and 1957 models – and are they ever gorgeous.   Take a look at a few of these beauties.

The show begins in earnest tomorrow, when the entire parking lot will be a staging ground for the meticulously-maintained show cars.  The show is free and open to the public for viewing and some serious car talk. 

There is also a large concessions area behind the car show, with booths for everything from classic Chevy auto parts and accessories to food and general interest items.

I can never decide just which is my favorite – but the convertibles are hard to beat.  We couldn’t ask for better weather – so if you’re in the neighborhood, come by and take a look.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. While you’re here, take a tour of our hotel’s public areas and check out the Christmas in July calendar in the lobby – we have a terrific lineup for the month.  It’s also a great time to book your family for our new Pigeon Forge Family Fun package!

Dolly Parade Today!

Today is the day of the annual Dolly homecoming parade in Pigeon Forge, and Santa’s float is being polished and primed even now!  Hope you’ll have a chance to come down and wave at us in the parade – at 6 pm on the Parkway, starting at light 6 and heading north to light 3.  We’re about halfway back in the parade this year, and Mrs. Claus as well as Uncle Sam will be riding along with us this year.

We’re also expecting an extra special guest on the float with us – Kaedyn Griffin, a student at Sevierville Primary School, was the winner of our drawing contest last November, and she’ll be riding with Santa today.  We’re sure happy to have Kaedyn aboard!

Just remember that it is NOT weird to shout “Merry Christmas!” in May, particularly if you are shouting it out to Santa and his team of elves in the Dolly Parade!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  We will also accept Feliz Navidad, Mele Kalikimaka, Joyeux Noel, Fröhliche Weihnachten, E ku odun, e ku iye’dun!, and any other language you would like to use to share your holiday spirit!

From the yard .. part (B)unnies!

Well, look who finally decided to get out of bed .. just in time for Easter weekend!  I think they nest under the big pine tree, and I’ve been watching for them all spring.  They finally put in an appearance on Friday when I got home from work.  They keep their distance, so my pics are a little fuzzy – maximum zoom – but I caught one of them jumping in the air – what fun!

I spy, with my big eye ..!

You can’t catch me!

“Let’s frustrate the human by sitting really far apart and not moving……”

Welcome back, Kotter & Louise! I wonder which one is which??

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Misty Morning

I just wanted to share a couple of pictures with you – they are not called the “Smoky” Mountains for nothing!  Leaving for church early Sunday morning, I was captivated by the mists rising in my little valley.  Even as I sat in the car, the mists were shifting and lifting – it was beautiful.

Do you see the chimney smoke rising on the other side of the valley?

It looked as if a painter had lightly stroked the scene with a brushed dipped in white.  What a beautiful start to the day!

(No, you’re not seeing a UFO in the last photo.  The grayish teardrop shape is not an alien craft hurtling over the range .. it is actually a drop of pine tar on my windshield.  I parked under the trees at my parents’ house on a hot summer day – and this was my reward.  It won’t come off for anything.  Well, except maybe a bottle of pine tar remover.  Which I should use on my hood, really.  And thank you for not mentioning the leaves on the lawn which should have been mulched already.)

Have a wonderful week – it’s finally Christmas week!  I hope we don’t get so busy that we fail to take time out to be thankful for the blessings we enjoy every day and for those to come.

Be blessed, my friends.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Winterfest arrives tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the big day – or should I say night – when Pigeon Forge turns on all 5 million lights for Winterfest!  There will be plenty of fun and excitement for those who come to Patriot Park on Tuesday, November 8, for the traditional kickoff of Winter in the Smokies – this year, in honor of Veterans Day, the event begins with a Salute to Veterans  parade on the Parkway starting at 4:30 PM.  Many-Bears Grinder, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, is the special guest speaker for the night in the Park.  Of course, Santa & Mrs. Claus will be along for the parade ride, in a specially prepared carriage.

After the parade, they will both be available for photographs – come to Patriot Park and capture a special memory for this Christmas season.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. Sevierville turns on their lights tonight, and Gatlinburg turns theirs on Wednesday night!

Hope Black Bear Ornament

We learned over the weekend that customers are snapping up this black bear ornament in honor of Hope, a black bear that was part of a research study on the bear population in Minnesota.  Hope traveled with her mother, Lily, and another cub named Faith – but always managed to get out of her tracking collar.  She was legally shot by a hunter sometime last month.    Read more about the story here.

We enjoy a sizeable black bear population here in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park area, too.  According to The Park’s website, this is “one of the few places remaining in the eastern United States where black bears can live in wild, natural surroundings.”  Our bears have been very active this year, and it is awesome – and fearsome – to see them enjoying the land.  A mama and cub sighting is the best, but can be the most dangerous, too.

When you visit Pigeon Forge & Christmas Place, be sure to schedule time for a drive or a hike in our national park – leaf season is coming on, and it’s going to be a beautiful fall!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

I Mulched!

Longtime readers know that I was not one born to a life of yard work, and have only come lately to the management of the green green grass of home.  With winter ending rather early here in the south, I’m actually going to have to mow the lawn before the end of March this year.  Crazy, I know!

I have some cleaning to do first – my maple trees tend to shed limbs every time the boy down the street whistles a happy tune .. thankfully, they don’t fall on the roof .. and don’t get me started on the Magnolia.  I would like to find the person who thought the lowest branches should be severely pruned, exposing all the fallen seed heads.  I really want to thank that person for leaving me with the task of picking them all up.

Dogwood Bloom

Look how close we are to dogwood blooms in my valley ~ this little guy must have popped open just hours before I got home yesterday.  We’re having a beautiful spring.

But the thing that is making me the most potentially-less-stressed (can’t bring myself to quite say ‘happy’) about yard work this summer is that I finally realized – – – MULCH.  Why didn’t you ever tell me to try mulch before?  I’m prepared to forgive, but really, I could have been mulching two years ago and saving myself so much time.

I have mulched!

There’s a large-ish patch at the end of the front porch that was at one time covered with black plastic, with a couple of bushes coming up through and a line of decorative grass along the edge.  Til yesterday, it was a battleground where dandelions, strawberry vines, and assorted flowering weeds struggled to maintain an encampment,against my random, periodic attacks of pulling everything up.  Mostly, I just tried to keep everything short enough that the neighbors below could not see the jungle.  This morning, it is a tranquil oasis of mulch.   Victory for me!

Similar enclaves scattered around the yard have no doubt heard about my triumph by now, and are trembling in anticipation of their own impending annihilation.  I have more bags of mulch, and I am not afraid to use them! 

My plan is to mulch everything I can’t reach with the mower.  I’m sure I’ll still have to deploy the weed whacker in a few areas, but ultimate yard domination is now within my grasp.  I have even earned the right to hang this ornament on my Christmas tree this year, as I posses and have used at least three of the items it includes – I bought new, BIGGER pruning shears this month.  Watch out, forsythia, I’m coming for you next.

Now let’s talk about the goats for the grass……

~Janet @ The Christmas Place