What Makes the Smoky Mountains Area So Popular?
Last year I wrote a couple of posts about what attracts people (over 12 million annually) vacation and often decide to live in our part of the country. Several items quickly came to mind such as the spectacular scenery, the low crime rate, the exceptionally low taxes, the four mild but distinct seasons but I may have missed one of the most important reasons of all – our people!
A few days ago I was forced due to a separation and upcoming divorce of one of my daughters to make a quick trip from our home near Gatlinburg to the great state of New York. Upon my arrival with a friend’s help we packed my daughter’s belongings and drove a UHaul truck back to Tennessee. This trip confirmed several of my previous beliefs about why the Smokies have such an enduring draw for our visitors.
First and foremost, weather! We travelled through a late March ice storm which paralyzed much of the east coast. The wintry mix followed by ice and then several inches of snow created havoc in several of the states we traversed. Counting over 50 vehicles wrecked or abandoned along side the road it was a great comfort to get back to Tennessee where we don’t get much snow even in the midst of winter, much less in early spring.
Secondly, the toll roads and bridges. We don’t have toll roads in Sevier County or anywhere else that I am aware of in East Tennessee or maybe in the entire state. Bridge and expressway tolls are simply another tax that we DON’T have here. We also don’t have a state or local income tax and our other taxes are very low. Around $30.00 annually for a license plate regardless of the value of your automobile, no annual inspections of vehicles and the necessary fee that comes with these. No value added tax, school tax, or other special taxes either in Sevier County. We do have a property tax but the total obligation is only about $400 annually per $100,000 of your property’s value!
The scenery in the Smokies is spectacular and while I’m sure that New Jersey and other states along the way have some beautiful areas I wasn’t fortunate enough to see them. Of course the blowing snow and swerving vehicles may have blocked my vision and/or limited my appreciation of the scenery that was available during my road trip. In Gatlinburg the Bradford Pear trees are blooming as well as the red buds and other early blooming plants. Soon we will have many more and this color fest will continue almost all the way through the summer. In fall we will have the autumn colors as the many hardwood trees show their majestic hues of red, orange, and yellow. I know that trees change colors in New England but it just seems prettier to me here (yes, I know that I am prejudiced!).
The final lesson that I re-learned is that folks from the south just seem nicer to me. Now don’t get me wrong – there are many wonderful people from north of the Mason-Dixon line and I am blessed to know a lot of them. It is just that we are living a much more relaxed and pleasant pace here in the south. After several hours in my rented truck stuck on the beltway that surrounds Washington, DC watching tempers flare complete with raised fists and undignified hand jestures, it occurred to me just what the real problem may be. Although it may be the tremendously hectic pace and the lack of sufficient greenspace the real root of the issue may be much simpler.
Above central Virginia they don’t offer what we in the south love – Sweet Tea. It may be just a coincidence but it seems that the presence or lack of sweet tea and the degree of civility are nearly parallel lines. Although statistics has a basic tenet that concurrence does not imply causality (because two things happen at the same time does NOT mean that one causes the other) it seems that there may be a real relationship here.
Come to the Smokies and get a good glass of brewed ice tea – not instant, but real old-fashioned southern style tea. If you decide you like that peaceful feeling buy some Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Sevierville area real estate and we’ll make sure that you get down here often enough to enjoy the relaxed lifestyle of the mountains and the peace and harmony of East Tennessee.