East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, June 24, 2017, WEEKEND EDITION, Page Page 4C, Image 22

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    Page 4C
East Oregonian
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Returning to the Smokies after a deadly wildfire
Associated Press
G AT L I N B U R G ,
Tennessee — When Dolly
Parton dreamed up the idea
of an amusement park in East
Tennessee, she said it would
be “a fantasy city. a Smoky
Mountain fairyland.”
Over the next three
decades, Dollywood became
the state’s biggest ticketed
attraction, with nearly 2.5
million visitors annually.
Tourism in Pigeon Forge,
where Dollywood is located,
regularly brings in $1 billion a
year in revenue. Nearby Great
Smoky Mountains National
Park is a massive draw, too,
with a record 11.3 million
visitors last year.
But a deadly wildfire
last November scorched a
path through the park and
surrounding Sevier County,
threatening to disrupt the
only industry the region has:
tourism. Gale force winds
spread the fire in a wild,
erratic path for 24 hours.
Fourteen people died. More
than 2,400 structures were
damaged or destroyed.
Images and news of fami-
lies fleeing the wildfires were
terrifying. Growing up in
Tennessee, I was one of those
millions who’d vacationed all
my life in the Smokies and
at Dollywood. When I was
sent to Gatlinburg last year to
report on the aftermath of the
fire, I worried that many of
the sites of my favorite child-
hood memories had gone up
in smoke.
But while tourism took a
hit, Dollywood and Pigeon
Forge, along with most of
downtown Gatlinburg, were
mostly unaffected. And in
late May, six months after the
fire and just before the start
of the busy summer season, I
returned for another visit.
This time, I went as a
parent, bringing my own
daughter to make new memo-
My family rode the same
roller coasters and water
rides my brother and I rode
as kids. We saw cowboys
and cowgirls at Dollywood’s
perform the same amazing
tricks on their horses. Three
generations of my family
including my parents, my
brother and his wife and his
daughter, climbed aboard
AP Photo/Kristin Hall
In this May 20 photo, a new chairlift attraction is under construction in downtown Gatlinburg, Tenn. A deadly
wildfire in November 2016 put a dent in the tourism industry there, but signs of growth are returning.
AP Photo/Kristin Hall
AP Photo/Kristin Hall
In this May 20 photo, a handmade sign stands in front
of the fire-damaged Mountain Laurel Chalets.
In this May 20 photo, Joe Guenther, owner of the Day
Hiker store, checks out a customer in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Dollywood’s old steam train.
My 2-year-old daughter
laid her head down on my
lap as we chugged along
slowly and I felt like time was
standing still. My memories
were merging with the ones
forming in her young mind
of a special moment we could
share forever.
All around us there was
music. Often it was Parton’s
signature high-pitched voice
warbling through the Dolly-
wood sound system, or blue-
grass or gospel from a stage.
The whole region peddles
nostalgia, which felt both
delightful and a bit staged —
Dollywood workers dressed
in plain gingham dresses or
dirty coveralls, for example,
the ostensible uniforms of
mountain folk.
In many ways, the Smokies
tourism industry goes hand-
in-hand with Parton’s famous
brand of folksy charm and
family friendly entertainment.
I was heartened to see so
much of what I remembered
from my childhood 20 years
ago. And I was also glad
to see that despite the fire,
Keep cool with fresh fruit blended with ice
Gatlinburg was busy with
tourists window shopping for
T-shirts and hats, handmade
candy, artwork and knick-
knacks, like carved figurines
of black bears.
But tourism officials
say the blaze has created a
perception problem. Tourism
over the winter and spring
was abnormally slow. At
Aunt Mahalia’s candy store
in Gatlinburg, for example,
business is down about 30
percent, with noticeably
fewer weekend customers,
Salad that looks as good as it tastes
Associated Press
Associated Press
Balmy weather calls for
ice-cold sweet treats; fruity
drinks are a natural part of
the summertime poolside
landscape. But those drinks
are often loaded with sugar,
boasting 40 or more grams
in even a reasonably-sized
Worse, the “fruitiness”
is often from flavored syrup
instead of the actual fruit,
which likely translates into
high-fructose corn syrup and
food dyes. Even “natural”
frozen fruit drinks often
have a bunch of added
sugars. (Remember: White
sugar is natural. It doesn’t
mean your body needs a ton
The good news is that
making your own fruity
drinks is incredibly easy. I
grew up in Tucson, Arizona,
drinking “aguas frescas,”
which translates into “fresh
waters.” Mexican aguas
frescas are made from fresh
fruit blended or mashed into
cold water and ice.
Living near the border,
we would peel fragrant
mangoes, and scoop the
chunky sweet flesh into a
blender with a cup of water,
ice, a splash of lime juice
and (yep!) a little sugar and
we’d blend into a slushy
treat that defined hot Arizona
summers for me.
Now that I have four
daughters of my own, I whip
up my updated version of the
agua fresca of my childhood.
I blend up a cup of almost
any summer fruit cut into
cubes — I love cantaloupe,
mango or strawberries —
with a cup of cold water, a
cup of ice, and the secret to
a great icy texture: a cup of
frozen watermelon cubes.
The frozen watermelon
blends up icy and thick,
and gives the drink body
that doesn’t melt away as
quickly as ice. And, the
blended frozen watermelon
There’s always a
green salad with dinner
in our house, usually the
crunchier the better. If I
told you how many hearts
of romaine we go through
in a week, you’d be
This salad, originally
published in “Dinner
Solved!”, is so heartbreak-
ingly pretty that I always
want people to come over
just to admire it. And it’s
not just easy on the eyes.
It’s clean and vibrant
and refreshing, and we
can plow through the
hugest bowl in a matter of
It came about because
a few years back, I was
writing an article about
surprising salad add-ins,
and I decided to list
shredded or slivered raw
kohlrabi as one of the
possibilities. Then I said
to myself, “You are so
full of it; you’ve never
done that in your whole
life.” So I bought myself a
kohlrabi and sliced it up,
and really fell head over
heels. It kind of reminded
me of a daikon radish,
crisp with just a hint of
Peel the kohlrabi thor-
oughly with a sharp knife
— the skin is too thick for
a vegetable peeler to have
much effect.
A handful of pea shoots
on top of the salad adds a
fresh sweet-pea-ness that’s
lovely, but don’t skip the
salad if pea shoots aren’t
Katie Workman has
written two cookbooks
focused on easy,
family-friendly cooking,
“Dinner Solved!” and
“The Mom 100 Cook-
book.” She blogs at http://
Melissa d’Arabian via AP
Icy agua fresca.
Servings: 4
Start to finish: 5 minutes
• 1 cup frozen seedless watermelon cubes (about
1-inch each)
• 1 cup strawberries, stemmed and halved (or other
summer fruit, like mango or cantaloupe cubes)
• 1 cup ice-cold water
• 1 cup ice cubes
• ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves (or
other contrasting ingredient like blueberries, chopped
cucumber, or basil)
Place the frozen watermelon, the strawberries, water,
ice and orange juice in the blender and blend until
almost smooth. Add the chopped mint leaves and blend
just until mixed in, with visible flecks, about 10 seconds.
Nutrition information per serving: 32 calories; 2
calories from fat; 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats);
0 mg cholesterol; 1 mg sodium; 8 g carbohydrate; 1 g
helps keep the agua fresca
from separating while you
sip. Plus, watermelon is
refreshing, and mixes easily
with all the other summer
fruits, allowing them
actually to be the star of the
I skip the white sugar
altogether, squeezing in a
little orange juice instead of
the traditional lime juice —
it gives the drink just enough
tang and a tiny touch of
sweetness. (But, if you want
to add a spoonful of sugar or
agave, you’ll still come out
ahead of most overly-sweet
prepared drink mixes.)
My last agua fresca trick:
Pick a contrasting-colored
ingredient to add in the last
10 seconds of blending,
so you get pretty flecks of
color (and flavor), such as
blueberries, mint or basil
leaves or even chopped
Chef’s Note: For
a creamy treat, add a
tablespoons of vanilla yogurt
before blending.
manager Scott Rowe.
images, which are devastating
and they think the whole
mountains, Pigeon Forge and
Gatlinburg are gone,” said
Pigeon Forge tourism director
Leon Downey.
The reality is that many
tourist businesses, from
go-kart parks and mini-golf
to restaurants and theaters,
were unscathed. And while
hundreds of rental properties
were damaged, plenty of
cabins, hotels and other
lodging are available.
Donna Schuster, visiting
from Ashburn, Virginia,
in late May, worried about
what she’d find after seeing
coverage of the fire, but
was pleasantly surprised. “I
really questioned whether
we should come because of
how devastating it looked on
TV,” she said. “But they have
really done a great job.”
Much of the burned debris
has been removed, leaving
only concrete pads where
houses or buildings once
stood. Foliage is returning to
the trees. New construction
is ongoing in downtown
Gatlinburg, where a seven-
story Margaritaville resort is
rising and a new attraction
called Anakeesta is being
built to give tourists an aerial
view as they climb into the
Joe Guenther, owner of the
Day Hiker, a hiking supply
store in Gatlinburg, estimates
his business is down about
20 percent, but said the city’s
tourism has dipped before
in recession years or when
gas prices were high. Day
Hiker was closed for several
days after the fire and some
inventory had to be replaced
because of smoke.
Many of Guenther’s
customers ask about the
status of the hiking trails in
the Smokies or whether the
fire has ruined the mountains’
scenic vistas. “Less than
10 percent of the park was
affected, so there’s 900 miles
of trails that are all there,”
Guenther said.
An ad campaign has the
tag line: “The place you love
is still standing strong.”
recovery could take 18
months, according to Mark
Adams, CEO of the Gatlin-
burg Convention and Visitors
Meanwhile the region
has one of pop culture’s
best-known voices as its most
prominent supporter. Parton
has raised millions of dollars
for fire victims through a
star-studded telethon, as well
as her own donations, and
handed out monthly checks to
people who lost their homes
in the fire.
“We thank her daily for
her support, because there’s
definitely a halo effect,”
Adams said. “Without Dolly,
we would have an even
tougher battle in recovery.”
Todd Coleman via AP
Light green crunchy salad.
Serves 6 as a side dish
Start to finish: 15 minutes
• 1 small kohlrabi, trimmed and peeled (optional)
• 10 ribs celery
• 3 hearts romaine lettuce
• 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black
pepper, to taste
• 1 cup pea shoots (optional)
If using the kohlrabi, cut it into manageable
chunks and then cut those chunks into thick planks,
about ¼-inch thick. Then sliver up those planks into
¼-inch-thick matchsticks (known as a julienne cut).
Don’t worry if the slivers aren’t neat and tidy.
Slice the celery crosswise very thinly, and then do
the same with the hearts of romaine so that you have
thin ribbons of lettuce. Place it all in a serving bowl,
along with the kohlrabi.
Whisk together the rice vinegar, olive oil,
mustard, and salt and pepper in a small bowl (or
shake it in a small container with a lid). Toss the
vegetables with the dressing and serve, topped with
the pea shoots, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 95 calories;
64 calories from fat; 7 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g
trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 301 mg sodium; 7 g
carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3g sugar; 1 g protein.