back in september i went to tennessee with my mom for a little vacay. originally, she and my dad were going out there for some sales conference he had to attend and i thought i’d just go when they went. we were all supposed to fly out on sunday, september 14. that didn’t happen because of “inclement weather” (hurricane ike shut down the entire greater houston area). mom and i finally left town on tuesday, the 16th, and dad had to stay behind.
anyway, i usually only see my brother and his fam when i go to tennessee but this trip was set to include a trip to my aunt and unlce’s place, also! it’s so amazing, i thought i’d write about it!
they live on some land in the hills of east tennessee that’s been in my uncle jim’s family for generations. he grew up there. the land alone is pretty. but uncle jim gives new meaning to “i love what you’ve done with the place”. it may help to know that uncle jim is like the hypothetical child created from the dna of bob vila, steve irwin, bob ross, davey crockett, and mr. magorium. then that child was raised by wolves… and a kinder, gentler ann coulter.
i think the first buildings on their land were a mobile home and a shed/garage. NOW, the mobile home is anything but, with an added dining/sitting room (complete with wood burning stove) and wrap around deck/porch. and the shed/garage building includes an apartment with kitchen, bathroom, deck and laundry room. oh, he also converted a shack at the front of the property into a bunk house (with bathroom). uncle jim has also taken the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” to another level. he’ll find a use for it, and it’ll be one you’d never think of (like using old curtain rods as extensions for his marshmallow/hot dog roasters). the grounds are decorated in all kinds of garden art (and not all of it was originally intended to be garden art), bird houses and myriad foliage….
i woulda mixed in a famous botanical person to the hypothetical dna cocktail but i don’t know of any. however, my aunt and unlce’s place is like an arboretum/garden/farm. a quick meandering on the grounds takes you through a variety of flowers, trees, plants, vines, and shrubs. they even grow (AND can) their own vegetables. for the sightseeing/adventure crowd, uncle jim has cleared some walking trails and named them! but wait, there’s more!
with the stone from his property, my uncle has created a fire pit, a few stair paths, and a couple of altar looking things. they sound weird but are really impressive and ridiculously ingenious.
uncle jim’s never met a stranger, either. so, if you ever stumble onto his east tennessee wonderland, don’t be shy! he’ll be happy to point you to several swimmin’ holes and prolly even lend you a walking stick.
i know i’ve probably left a bunch of cool stuff out. (like the time i saw uncle jim feed worms to a snake with a toothpick!) but, hopefully, i’ve painted an ok picture of one of the coolest places i’ve ever been. and if i haven’t, here are some actual pictures: