Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 35
Left: Bowen Farm Bed and Breakfast is a cozy retreat in Powell County, Kentucky. The house
was constructed in 2008 using scrap materials from several structures.
Center: Sky Bridge is a natural rock formation in the Red River Gorge of Kentucky.
Above: The Wheel on the Island at Pigeon Forge give a bird's-eye view of the attractions,
hotels and restaurants of the Great Smoky Mountains in Sevier County, Tennessee.
because you would gone off about a
Today, while Angel Windows is
an official name in the Red River
Gorge, Bowen operates the Bowen
Farm Bed and Breakfast (606-3593366) in a Kentucky community
called Bowen. He's an innkeeper,
busy fixing biscuits and gravy. Yet it
takes little effort to coax him out of
his house to play on the tire swing in
the yard-or even go to the gorge for
a driving-and-hiking tour of sites like
Sky Bridge, one of the many magical
arches in a wonderland of natural
"If you introduce people to this
place once, they almost have to
come back," Bowen says. "They can
feel the magic. They know it's here.
They don't necessarily know what it
is, but it's something that calls them
back. You have to come back and do
Lori Olnick and her husband, Billy, have stayed 10 times at Bowen's
bed-and-breakfast. And their kids-
Dustin, Kearstin and Addison-now
call Bowen "Uncle Joe."
"One year, I think we were here
five times," Lori Olnick says. "It's
homey. It's peaceful. And Joe has
good stories to tell. He's just a fun
person to be around."
With so many visits, Lori Olnick
now helps cook breakfast, leaving
"Uncle Joe" more time for tales, like
how he built his 2,600-square-foot
It looks old. But, that's only an
illusion. Bowen actually built this
two-story house from scratch-and
scraps-in 2008. He bargained with
developers and ultimately got the
materials needed by salvaging three
houses, two grocery stores and a
church. Little matches. But that's OK.
"You have very big, comfortable
bathrooms. Big rooms," Bowen
says. "It's a new house. And people
In the Great Smoky Mountains of
Tennessee, we nest for a night at
Eagle's Ridge, playing pool in the
basement and cook supper in a fivebedroom cabin called "Sweet Memories" (eaglesridge.com). We make a
quick splash in the pool on a hot August afternoon. Then we cool down
when we board The Titanic on the
Parkway of Pigeon Forge (mypigeonforge.com).
Kid-approved family fun stands
all around the Great Smoky Mountains-from racing go-karts on a
loop in Pigeon Forge at The Track to
bouncing at the Sevier Air Trampo-
line and Ninja Warrior Park, a recently opened attraction at Sevierville's
Governor's Crossing (visitsevierville.
com). Get a grand view on The Wheel
at The Island (islandinpigeonforge.
com). And, of course, in either August
or December, Dollywood remains a
must-see: New rides at the Pigeon
Forge theme park for 2017 include
a kiddie coaster called Whistle Punk
For lunch, we sample burgers of
all stripes and fashions at BurgerFi
(865-365-1684). Then, for dinner,
we dine on authentic Philly Cheesesteaks in Sevierville at Cheezy Steaks
(865-366-6982), operated by former
Philadelphia resident Bob Fair.
For another night, we stay at
Sevierville in the cozy, prototype
room of the new Lodge at Five Oaks
(865-429-8300), a $3 million renovation of a Fairfield Inn on what
was once part of the Ogle family
farm, raising tomatoes, corn, lettuce and livestock.
"What we want this hotel to be
is kind of a celebration of Appalachian farming," says hotel spokesman Jake Ogle. "So you're going to
see a lot of elements that you will
see in a farmhouse. But we really
want to celebrate what this area
was 50 or 60 years ago, which was
May/June 2017 35