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Rest Stops for the Soul: Part II

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | September 03, 2011

"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."
Lily Tomlin

Last week I wrote "Part I" of this two-part series titled Rest Stops for the Soul. I took the title from a book my friend, Don Hawkins wrote where he captured insights from the life stories which provide the reader with opportunities of brief renewal, i.e. rest stops. 

Today I will describe the second "rest stop" Evie and I discovered on our way home from Gatlinburg, TN. We left our hotel and drove slowly through Gatlinburg past the places we had eaten, the shops we had visited, and the 7,000 seat auditorium where we had attended five (5) southern gospel concerts over three (3) days. Our hearts were full. 

Signs were everywhere inviting us to visit Dollywood, an amusement park owned and named after the local celebrity, Dolly Parton. But since we had nearly eleven hours of driving ahead of us, we simply said, "Perhaps next time." 

There is no way I could adequately describe the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. Even my camera faced limitations. You just have to go there to understand. We drove through Locke County and in the vicinity of Cosby, TN we happened to come across Carver's Applehouse Restaurant and Orchard. 

As we meandered along Highway Route 321 enjoying the beautiful rural scenery, we noticed the sign inviting us to turn in to this most special place. The buildings were somewhat secluded but as we drove up the narrow drive we were introduced to Carver's. According to a local newspaper "Visiting the Smokies" (Spring 2011), the business was established prior to the Civil War by Joseph Campbell, whose daughter Jemima married Israel Carver I. 

Today Danny Ray Carver, Campbell's great-great-great-grandson, and his wife Irene Carver, proudly watch as their daughters Danielle and Stacey and two granddaughters Kiersten and Kylen help to operate the enterprise. 

Evie and I parked our car and began drinking in the sights and sounds and smells. After a brief visit to a small building housing a candy store, we entered a large red, warehouse-type building which was the processing center for over 40,000 apple trees with 126 varieties of apples spread out over 75 acres. 

Since May is not the apple season, most of the building was not in use. On the wall was a huge display itemizing apple varieties with the estimated season by month when they were harvested. Huge stacks of bushel baskets reminded us that this place was all about apples. 

On that day fresh tomatoes, watermelons, potatoes and other early spring vegetables were spread out like an indoor farmers market. Inside a small room we each picked out by hand the legendary wax paper wrapped fresh fried apple pies. 

A few years ago they opened Carver's Restaurant, where huge windows allow for a spectacular view overlooking thousands of apple trees. Evie and I sat there enjoying the apple fritters, apple butter and apple cider which are served to every guest. They definitely tasted better because we knew they were made on-site. 

The pulled-pork Bar-B-Que sandwiches and homemade coleslaw we both ordered were absolutely delicious. As we look at the photos I took out the window and even of our food, they bring the memories of that "rest stop" flooding back to both of us. 

We wanted to stay longer but we had to get back on the road. We slowly walked to our car carrying our small bag of old fashioned candy, a seedless watermelon, and a jar of Sorghum molasses thinking about what fun it would be to visit Carver's in the fall at the peak of the apple harvest when thousands of visitors drop in. 

No matter how long your journey may be, we must always take time for rest stops like that. Even now, it was one of the highlights of our time away. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to president@vfcc.edu