Friday, July 24, 2015

Tennessee Jones?

"I'm the brains. You're the brawn." "Say, whattttt?"

If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones.

Ijams was honored to have Indy and his Raiders "girlfriend" Marion Ravenwood visit the camp kids during Tall Tale Week wasn't exactly Indiana himself, but rather his older brother Tennessee Jones, who has quite a large chip on his shoulder because his kid brother gets all the attention. After all, who was first? Tennessee became a state in 1796, and Indiana in 1816. And, Tennessee Jones taught his younger sibling Indiana everything he knows. (And his strong-minded, sassy girlfriend Mary Eaglewood taught TN Jones everything he knows.)

As she says, "I'm the brains. You're the brawn."

As the tall tale goes, Indiana pursues "new junk"—crystal skulls, golden goblets, chests full of ghosts, all man-made trinkets—while Tennessee Jones searches for the truly old, old Mesozoic things, namely dinosaur fossils.

Word had gotten to TN Jones that a possible paleo-site had been discovered at Ijams and the camp kids went on a dino dig just like true paleontologists.

And you'll never guess what they found. 

Thanks, Jenny! Great job in the role of a sassy girlfriend. 

Tennessee Jones shows the camp kids a true Mosasaurus fossil while Eaglewood straightens him out on the details.

Ijams staffer Augusta imitates how a T-Rex used its front legs.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

thank you Missy

Missy Kane (Far right) with her hiking group at Ijams

A robust thank you to Covenant Health fitness expert Missy Kane for bringing her 2015 Get on Local Trails hiking group to Ijams Nature Center recently for a guided nature walk.

We explored the natural history of the original Ijams' Homesite, plus the River Trail and Toll Creek. 

2015 Get on Local Trails is sponsored by Legacy Parks, Parkwest Medical Center and Thompson Survival Center.

Thank you also to April Tomlin Senior Services Manager with the Office of the County Mayor and to our friends at the Knoxville News-Sentinel and photographer Paul Efird.

For more information about the hiking program call (865) 541-4500.

Photo by News Sentinel: Paul Efird
Photo by News Sentinel: Paul Efird
Photo by News Sentinel: Paul Efird
Photo by News Sentinel: Paul Efird
Photo by News Sentinel: Paul Efird

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Mary Helen Bales

Has put away her labor and leisure too.

“Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me.” The key word in this line by poet Emily Dickinson is “kindly,” the key phrase is “could not stop,” because Mary Helen Bales was indeed kindly, she always thought of others. She also rarely stopped moving, a hard worker, always in motion, always walking somewhere. Even when her 86 years forced her movements to be confined a therapeutic walker, she took the decline with good grace. She slowed, but never stopped. Sitting still was not in her répertoire.

Mom and I both loved to walk or hike or scurry, as long as it was fast. She saw my first steps, I saw her last. A large part of who I am is rooted in her

She taught me to walk and talk and my love of birds. And in the end, what more did I need?
Born a Latham at home on Panther Creek off Chapman Highway on March 21, 1929, Mary Helen Bales of Gatlinburg passed away at UT Hospital, Tuesday, July 7 after a brief unexpected illness.

Mary Helen Bales • Circa 1973

Growing up on a Sevier County farm, she became a tomboy. As a young mother, she was athletic, could run like a deer, play baseball with the kids and mastered the newly invented skateboard with ease. A devoted mother, Mary Helen insisted her two children complete college, an opportunity she never had.

With husband Russell, Mary Helen was a long-time co-owner of Bales Cabins on Baskins Creek in Gatlinburg. Just 11 cabins built by granddad Homer. She loved the tourist trade because she enjoyed people and serving their needs while they vacationed in the Smokies. Once she knew you liked something, she always provided it.

In her later years, after putting away her labor, her favorite leisure became TV game shows. She liked the fast-paced repartee, the mental quizzes where everyday people like herself could earn big money. Her favorites were the perennial “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.”

Her beloved husband Russell Bales preceded Mary Helen in death. Those left behind to grieve her loss are daughter Darlene and son-in-law David Brett, three grandkids: Leighanna, Michael and Logan Brett, her son, that would be me, and extended family Rachael Eliot and Karen Sue Webster, and “Sis” Shirley Patterson.

A member of Laurel Grove Primitive Baptist Church of Gatlinburg, her simple graveside service will be held Sunday, July 12 at 2 p.m. at Shiloh Cemetery in Pigeon Forge. Elder Ralph Smith will conduct the service with Atchley’s Funeral Home handling the arrangements.

Once one of the fourteen children born to Rev. Michael and Mary Jane Latham of Sevierville, the sole survivor Mary Helen has gone home to join her siblings: Clarence, Lela, Kate, Marion, Harris, Edmond, Elizabeth, Joe, Ruth, Marie, Faye, Albert and Alvin.

May they all now, rest in peace together once again.

In lieu of flowers, send your mother a bouquet and hug her.  

Still walking until the very end, 
especially when the stroll could be outside.
Somehow I know there will be miles and miles and miles 
of new walking trails in heaven.