Ville to Ville

After a sleepless night in Franklin, North Carolina, on uncomfortably hard beds, Brian and I ventured away from Franklin and headed to Asheville. We decided the perfect place for Anne and CC to venture would be the Tobacco Barn Antiques, an old 70,000 square foot tobacco warehouse that had been transformed into an antique lovers dream.

We pulled up to the barn and were pleasantly surprised. Wrought iron gates decorated its exterior and the large overhead door was open.  

 

I was immediately overwhelmed by its interior and rows and rows of antiques all gathered into one location. It seemed to stretch on for miles. There was an overwhelming selection of furniture, primitives and even some china. I was looking for something unusual.

Upon first glance I decided I wanted a glass hurricane lantern for our back deck. I found this one.  


It is now wrapped and tucked in the back seat of our car. (I had urged Brian to take the SUV but he wanted to take the car). Hopefully we can make room for the boots and guitars sure to come. 

Brian found a decoy duck that he liked so we got that, too. It’s a 1941 signed decoy to add to his collection. 

   We also picked up a small white and green vase.

  
We narrowly missed buying a copper rooster weather vane complete with stand. Someone grabbed it from Brian as he was looking at it. 

But we did fiind this lovely iron rooster dinner bell that will hang somewhere in our backyard.

  
I also talked to the local antique dealers about our story. They were very helpul and gave us tips about what to look for in local antiques particularly pottery and primitives. 

We then headed to the next store, which supposedly had a good collection of estate jewelry. Unfortunately none of it was to my taste. Leaving Asheville, we headed west to Knoxville. The nice woman at the front desk upgraded us to a suite on the top floor with a view. Thanks, Amber! 

Tomorrow, we hit Nashville. We’re hitting all the villes we can find. 

From Gems to Gems

Taking the bypass, we headed out of Gatlinburg, avoiding the crowds waiting for the Jurassic Park ride, the Titanic or the Hatfields and McCoys. We entered the Smoky Mountain Parkway and were struck by its beauty. Each curve brought a vista more beautiful than the next. The smoke fog swirled atop the mountains, giving them a blue hue.  

 

I took many pictures, the one above is just an example. At the end of the Great Smoky Mountain Parkway, we entered the village of Cherokee. We wandered around the shops featuring locally made crafts. I bought a box made from horsehair pottery and Brian bought a buffalo tooth necklace. I also bought a bracelet fashioned from seed beads that the Cherokee believe are the tears shed during the Trail of Tears in the 1830s during the Indian relocation. In book two, Anne and CC visit the Cherokee village so these facts are helpful to know.

We then drove along a one lane highway that curved up and down and around the mountains. We were off to the mines, literally. I had researched and decided the best place to try our luck was the Sheffield Mine outside Franklin. Plus it had covered flume lines and advertised “clean restrooms.”  

   

The restrooms were clean at least. After climbing the steep hill down to the flume line, Brian and I each collected our native buckets, unseeded, but possibly including a North Carolina ruby or sapphire, pink not blue. We sat at the flume line and cleaned stones and acted like rock tumblers til my arms ached. Brian found a 15 carat ruby and several smaller ones. I splurged and bought a “sparkler” bag. I quickly found an ametrine, half amethyst, half citrine. 

 
We gathered our bags of stones and headed immediately to the local gem cutter. We decided to have the ruby made into a pendant along with the ametrine. 

Then we headed to our hotel to wash the dirt off. We enjoyed a simple meal in our room, finished proofing “Murder by the Spoonful” and watched America’s Next Food Network Star. Oh, and munched on donut gems.

A Mixed Blessing

We rolled out of Cumberland Falls first thing and headed toward Gatlinburg, the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. The drive through Knoxville was slightly treacherous as it was pouring rain and trucks were bearing down. But Brian survived my backseat driving and brought us safely here. The first time we drove through Pigeon Forge and Sevierville wasn’t bad.  

 

pecan pancakes, corned beef eggs benedict
  

We drove past them, had a most excellent breakfast at Crockett’s, and then decided to venture back to Sevierville to go to the antique stores. However, I got sidetracked by boot stores and found myself trying on cowboy boot after cowboy boot. 

A pair, brown with teal and red roses, felt particularly comfortable. However, due to the selection I couldn’t decide and left without a single pair. When I finished at the boot shop, I wanted to go to some of the antique stores that we had passed along Sevierville. Big mistake. Traffic heading back to Gatlinburg rivaled that of Lake Geneva on a summer weekend. It was bumper to bumper. Brian and I decided to hightail it to the hills —  the Lodge at Buckberry Creek.  

 We settled in our room with its magnificent view of the Smokies and the wandering black bear. Then a delicious dinner at the gourmet restaurant at the top of the mountain.  

 
Returning back to our room, we watched the sun set over the Smokies and the mist rise as we worked on the new Antique Hunters Book. 

The Adventure Begins

We’re off. Brian and I left Illinois at 6:30 a.m. on our research excursion south. Our goal to follow Anne and CC’s route to Nashville. Along the way we passed some antique shops. I, like Anne, longed to stop and poke around but Brian wanted to push south so we could see the waterfall before dark. 

Needless to say, I did very little shopping on the drive to Cumberland Falls other than a few diet cokes, bugles and lottery tickets. Let’s hope we win the $64 million Powerball tonight. Or, was it the mega millions? The seven plus hour drive went quickly as we used the time to read the proof of the first Antique Hunters Mystery book,, “Murder by the Spoonful.” It was great to have uninterrupted time so we could focus and really hear the words.  

   Arriving in the Daniel Boone National Forest, I was reminded of childhood memories spent in Pennyrile Park with my father. My brother and I would ride horses and join the other kids on dinosaur egg hunts, actually watermelons, but to us we believed they were dinosaur eggs.

We arrived in Cumberland National Forest and headed straight for the falls. It is the second largest falls in North America and has been called the “Niagara of the South.” We walked around in the humid June air. I climbed the trails looking for different angles to place our main characters on their trek. 

Then a quick bite at the lodge dining room. Felt like I was back at camp. The view down into the forest was spectacular. Catfish was great so was the banana pudding. Now we’re heading back to the room to continue writing book numbe 2. Pictures to follow when WiFi connection is better. 

It’s pouring rain and the lightning is lighting the gulley behind our room. It’s quite frightening but in a good way. Perhaps the next book will involve a murder at Buckberry Lodge. Hint. Hint. 

Chapter One

Shopping begets shopping. Or, at least that’s been my lifelong motto. And it’s probably why the two main characters in my new cozy mystery series, “Murder by the Spoonful: The Antique Hunters Mystery”, live for shopping. Anne and CC both have day jobs but their true passion is shopping. They scour antique stores, estate sales and flea markets to find treasures to add to their collection.

Much like I do on the weekends with the real-life Anne and CC. While we haven’t stumbled across any murders or mysteries to be solved, we have found some cool pieces like my treasured set of Royal Doulton Bell Heather china. It makes me happy every time I look at it. We have also found a complete set of original Nancy Drew books, an early Van Briggle vase and most importantly, the pants.

Bell Heather China by Royal Douton
Bell Heather China by Royal Douton

My foray into writing mysteries began with a simple pair of flowered blue capri pants. These pants led me to create Anne and CC, and to imagine their adventure. It also led me to combine my two passions – shopping and writing. I hope you enjoy Murder by the Spoonful as much as I did writing it.

And, of course, like any respectable reporter, I am conducting research for the next book in the series. Tomorrow I leave for a road trip that will mirror CC and Anne’s excursion in the second book in the series, tentatively titled, “Murder Note by Note.” I will share some experiences from the road in this blog, and I hope you will come along for the ride with me.