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A Camp of One's Own
Or, what I learned by skipping swim lessons

Up and Up and Up
Tripping to the rooftops of the Biltmore Estate

Destination Attraction
Knoxville has had tourists for more than a century. But what it tells them about itself keeps changing.

Secret Summer Spots

Calendar of Summer Events

  Secret Summer Spots

Everyone has a favorite summer place, a place that can only be truly enjoyed in the full-bore haze of a July day or the starlit mugginess of an August night. We rounded up some of the most interesting people we know and asked them to tell us where they like to go.

Todd Steed, Knoxville music godfather

"I pretty much had the perfect summer spot—but just realized I don't want anybody else to go here's number two: Hot Springs, North Carolina. You can camp in a real nice campground, hike the AT, submerge in the spring baths. And you don't even have to get on I-40; take back roads for great drives and strange little townettes. They often have music festivals up there, too. Their TVA pollution is of the mildly noticeable variety, compared to our swamp-style TVA pollution. So you can breathe up there, which is a real bonus."

Bill Snyder, former UT chancellor and maestro of the magnificent Wurlitzer at the Tennessee Theatre

"One thing that's a favorite of mine for a one-day trip or even an overnight stay at a bed and breakfast is going over to Rugby. I like the history and the basic philosophy; it was started by an Englishman who was trying to establish a more inclusive society for working-class people. And there are a lot of interesting buildings there.

"For an hour and a half or two hour trip, the Three Rivers Rambler [along the Knoxville riverfront] is hard to beat."

Charlie Thomas, attorney and member of the Knoxville Greenways Coalition

"My own front porch [in North Knoxville]. Sitting in a rocking chair, drinking iced tea. Or with a salt shaker and a big slice of cold watermelon. I've been known to do that for hours. It's almost like it's contrived, it's so perfect. There's not a lot of traffic on the street, just a few people walking dogs or baby carriages. There's a little ice cream truck that comes by...At night, you get to hear distant trains.

"The other one has to bae the river. The main thing I like to do is bicycle down early on a Saturday and take a book. I like to find one of the benches and just sit there and read before the crowds come. You can really kind of feel the presence of the river at that time...And Thursday nights on Market Square. Sundown in the City is hard to beat, with all your friends there."

Cheryl Renée, local blues belter and piano pounder

"I used to like the Helmet Head [in the Old City]. That was my place to play, on the patio, but it's gone. Right now, I tend to be playing at Catino's, in Tellico Village. That's nice, it's a patio too, it's a pizza place down there. [Playing] outdoors is more fun, it's more relaxed. And I get bitten up more by bugs. The other day, I thought I had broken out in hives 'cause I was so worried about quitting my day job. But then I remembered I'd played outside the night before. I had been bitten up by some bugs.

"I thought of another one—Herman's parties. He's a friend of mine, a German guy. He gives a party at the end of the summer every year. I've played at it the last two years, and I'm looking forward to it this year. He has a big pig roast and has people down from Chicago and everywhere."

Danielle Droitsch, executive director, Tennessee Clean Water Network

"Definitely Big South Fork and particularly Honey Creek Trail. Have you been? It's the unknown. Also, sitting on a river—any of Tennessee's rivers but I like the Little River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are a ton of people that kayak that, but [they] also inner tube it. Tennessee rivers are some of the finest in the country—unappreciated, but fine. Lazy days down the river are just the best, whether it is whitewater or simply paddling a canoe."

Mike Smithers, 30 Amp Fuse frontman/songwriter

"My grandfather's pool in South Knoxville. It's up on a hill with a nice view, a real good place for seclusion. Also my backyard. My roommate (Superdrag drummer Don Coffey) loves to barbecue, especially after he's gotten good and drunk, or after a band has come in to play in town. We just drink cold beer, hang out in the backyard, and eat."

Black Atticus, MC with the hip-hop group Fluid Engineerz

"I'd have to say riverside under the bridge. We throw a lot of barbecues during the day or me and my ex go out there and just enjoy the view. It's peaceful and for a second helps you forget where you are 'geographically' so you can fully enjoy nature."

Kat Brock, musician and leader of the Dixie Dirt

"The front porch. You can play guitar on the front porch or just sit around. Usually in the evenings, you can have friends over and drink beer and just watch the cars and people go by. The Fourth and Gill neighborhood is a very welcoming place."

Keith Richardson, employee with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and local activist

"Abrams Creek. I bought an acre of land there, with some ugly cabins on it. It only takes 45 to 50 minutes to get there and the neighbors have this huge backyard to play in called the [Great Smoky Mountains] National Park. It's the kind of place that if I've had a bad day, I can be up there in less than an hour. And it's stocked with enough convenience foods with a long shelf life.

"Another component of that is every Friday night in Walland, there's a community school building, called Rocky Branch. There are people picking and grinning every Friday night in this place...When I'm getting real cynical about things, it's a great place to go. It's just a nice little community."

Lillian Bean, former Circuit and General Sessions Court Clerk

"We (husband Richard Bean) love to go back to Virginia to my old homeplace. It's about 86 miles from Knoxville in Rose Hill, Va., and I still have lots of family up there. We go up and there and have cookouts with lots of maple trees and family around. And we play lots of croquet. I played a lot when I was a child, and we're all very competitive when we have a game."

Bob Webb, philanthropist and founder of Webb School

"We're going to the Webb family reunion this summer, for the descendants of Sawney and Emma Webb, near Chapel Hill. There are about 70 of us." Sawney Webb is Bob Webb's grandfather, the legendary founder of the original Webb School at Bellbuckle.

"Normally, though, we go to Amelia Island, Florida. It's a beautiful setting, along the seacoast, with a lot of condominiums, restaurants, and shops. The beach seems to have a lot of sharks' teeth, and our grandchildren enjoy hunting for them. I told one of my grandchildren that they have sharks' teeth in Gatlinburg, now, but you have to fight the sharks for them."

Bruce Wheeler, UT history professor and co-author of Knoxville, Tennessee: Continuity and Change In an Appalachian City

"My wife and I traditionally go to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I'm a Boston Red Sox fan, and I always get to watch a game at Fenway. When it heats up in Tennessee, it's nice and cool in New England. Massachusetts and Cape Cod reminds you, in a sense, of parts of the rural South. The people are nice, and friendly. The only major difference is the accents." Asking for information at a Habitat for Humanity booth at a county fair, a volunteer offered to send Wheeler some literature.

"I told her we lived in Tennessee, and she said, 'My God, we'd need two stamps!' They're about as provincial as we are here."

Martin Hunt, retired merchant and boulevardier

"Key West, I go there for the food and culture. It's a much more cosmopolitan place than New Orleans. I used to go to New Orleans a lot, but it's heavy with southern culture. They're still using the same old recipes they had 150 years ago, and reliving the Civil War. There are more cosmopolites in Key West. I have friends down there. And there's always a good breeze in Key West.

"And New York. I love New York in the summertime. This time, especially, even before the Fourth of July, they have such wonderful sales at Bergdorf-Goodman's and Saks Fifth Avenue, and then the theater's always good, and the Metropolitan Museum always has a new exhibit. I really have more close friends there that used to live in Knoxville, and I love seeing them.

"New York and Key West. It's just great going both places."

R.B. Morris, poet and recording artist

"I disappear up into the hills. If it's hot, I just get up there where you've got icy cold waters and cool shade. I know some places where nobody can find you." He allows his spots are somewhere in the Smokies. "There are still hideaways people don't know about."

Dr. Paul Ashdown, Professor of Journalism and Public Relations, University of Tennessee

"For the last several years, I've gone on a long fishing trip in Ontario, the middle part, and it's hard to beat that. (UT Prof) Ed Caudill and I have visited several lodges up in the area; the closest town is a little place called Sioux Lookout. And toward the end of the summer, I usually make a short trip to Naples, Fla., a town I like a lot.

"I like to hole up in my office and write. I usually get an awful lot done over the summer; I think that's one of the joys of summer that holds over from youth, the promise it holds, having some project to do, whether it's writing a book or painting your deck."

Jack Mauro, restaurateur and author of Gay Street

I don't go anywhere in the summer, nor do I want to go anywhere. Sure, another trip to Italy would be grand. And I do look forward to a visit to New York in the fall. Beyond that, though, my Wizard of Ozoutlook kicks in heavily and I want nothing more than to waste time in my own backyard (i.e., Krutch Park). I've had my fill of beaches from years in Florida, travel is purgatory, and I can think of few things more glorious than waking up on a summer day and knowing I don't have to work."

Madeline Rogero, Executive Director of Knoxville's Promise, former County Commissioner

"An old beachhouse on Pawley's Island, S.C. It's maybe 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach, and there's an old house a group of friends (a dozen or so) have been going to every year for about 15 years. It's very non-commercial. It's not very crowded, and we do lots of relaxing and reading, but we're close enough to go in to the restaurants if we want. It's got lots of bedrooms, a big screened porch with a hammock, just a great big ol' roomy beachhouse. We take turns cooking. We eat great seafood, and only spend about $8 per day (each) on food, but we eat like kings and queens."

March 1, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 9
© 2001 Metro Pulse