Unfinished Business: A Very Special Thank You

Tomorrow, dear friends, we’ll start talking about our 2nd Season of Secret Adventures. But before we get there, I’ve got some important unfinished business to attend to.

I need to say thank you.

A Really BIG Thank You.

Over the past year, while experimenting with the many ways to help you explore and experience the world around us, I’ve met some great people and have been graced with terrific service by several local and national businesses.

So before we head off into the next Season of Surprises, please join me in thanking these folks for their help. I should probably apologize in advance for posting such a long list, but isn’t it great to have SO many people to be grateful for?

Counting my blessings here. :)

Townsend, Tennessee


Ms. Tiffany Sims of the Picnic Pantry was a godsend for our first trip last fall. I needed top-of-the-line sandwiches for our sunset supper on the mountain, and wanted to use their store, only to learn they’d be CLOSED on the day of our trip. When I expressed my dismay, Tiffany said she’d be in the store anyway that day, and that she would be happy to work with me.

Not only did she make some great sandwiches, she BROUGHT them TO me at my office, a personal delivery of over 20 miles away. Said she was passing by there anyway and that it was no trouble. That, my friends, is what they call WOW! customer service.

The next time you’re heading to the Smokies for an outing, stop by their place on the way. And say hello to Tiffany.



Knoxville, Tennessee


The beautiful Old Gray Cemetery in North Knoxville is a local hidden treasure. We stumbled on this place a few years ago while out exploring driving trails during the Dogwood Arts Festival. It’s a beautiful, beautiful place full of huge, ancient trees, fascinating monuments and colorful figures from Knoxville’s past, including the incredible Ms. Lizzy Crozier French. Each year, the Foundation hosts a Lantern and Carriage Tour where volunteers portray some of those characters. It’s a lot of fun and worth attending. We did. You should too. This year’s Tour is set for Sunday, Sept. 12. :)



Renee Hunter

Maryville, Tennessee

The invincible Renee Hunter heads up this local outfit. She’s an adventurer at heart, who seems to be out every day doing something fun and creative.

She was the one who introduced ME to flat water kayaking, and helped co-lead our trip last fall. Her enthusiasm is catching – and confidence-building too. :)

She doesn’t have a website, but you can find her on Facebook. And if you want to create your own adventure, odds are good she can help you get there. Look her up!


JCA logo


Knoxville, Tennessee


Last November, we learned, laughed and sweated our way through a night of contra-dancing at the Laurel Theater, located in the heart of the historic Fort Sanders neighborhood in downtown Knoxville.

This lovely old church, built in 1898, is on the National Register of Historic Places, and serves as home to Jubilee Community Arts, a group that hosts cultural events and concerts all year long. They’ve been holding (and teaching) contra-dancing there on Monday nights for as long as I can remember. (I was a regular while at UT in the early 80’s.)

You’ll find dancers from 8 to 80, and everyone’s ready to pull you in and give you a twirl. This is family fun in the truest sense of the word. Try it!



Nancy Langkamer  

Market Square Mall

Knoxville, Tennessee


Another treat that night of dancing came from Nancy Langkamer, owner of Rita’s Italian Ice on Market Square Mall in downtown Knoxville. She, too, showed yet another example of simple human kindness, and crazy great customer service.

I wanted to have some kind of cool treat for everyone at the end of the evening, but was having some trouble with the logistics. And again, I would be needing this after the store was closed. (See a pattern here?) No worries! Nancy VOLUNTEERED to deliver a cooler of treats to us at the Laurel Theater after closing up shop that evening.

I couldn’t believe it. I’d never heard of her shop until that experience, but I’ll be a fan forever. Oh- and the treats were DELISH. :)


Knoxville, Tennessee


In January, our Secret Adventurers were happy to find that they’d chosen a trip that didn’t involve hiking boots or fish hooks. Nope. :) Instead, we got all gussied up and spent an evening listening to the Knoxville Chamber Orchestra at the Bijou. This beautiful theater has been beautifully restored, and is well worth a visit. It has a fascinating history that’s worth a look too. (HINT: Some say it’s haunted!) Check out their website and get on their email list. There’s bound to be a concert coming up that you won’t want to miss.

 The BISTRO at the BIJOU

Knoxville, Tennessee


And then, after the concert, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at this restaurant right next door. I’d heard about the Bistro forever, but had never actually been there. I didn’t realize what I’d been missing!

It was a great place with tons of charm and great staff. They worked with me when I wanted to create a special menu and have it waiting for us. The timing worked out perfectly so that we had the place pretty much to ourselves, and the food was terrific.

It was only later that I learned the restaurant was owned by Martha Boggs, a woman who stands her ground when needed. My respect grew even more after that. You should visit. I hear the Sunday brunch is especially popular!



R&Co Salon

Maryville, Tennessee


In March, we spent the day at the lake learning how to fish, of all things. There were TOO many funny moments that day to begin to share them here, but it turned out to be one of our best trips.

And the whole thing was made possible because of Chris Downey, a talented stylist at R&Co Salon in Maryville. Chris is a lifelong fishing MASTER. She LOVES to fish, and she’s been pretty curious about our Secret Adventures too. So when I asked her to share her skills with our group, she never hesitated.

She was an OUTSTANDING teacher – patient, clear, encouraging, funny. I’ve told her she should start a side business of teaching women to fish, because she has a gift. And we loved her for it. Visit her at R&Co across from Target in Maryville. While she’s making you beautiful, ask her where the fish are bitin’. She’ll know.


The Shops at Western Plaza

Knoxville, Tennessee


In May, the month in which we celebrate Moms here in the States, we held a Mother-Daughter Tea Party at this lovely shop in Knoxville. Our trip coincided perfectly with the Queen’s Jubilee, and I’d like to say that I planned it that way – but that wouldn’t quite be right. :) Nonetheless, it was a cute way to spend a few hours.

The family who owns the Tea at the Gallery were great to work with. They let me bring in gluten-free bread for one of our participants, and didn’t blink an eye when I asked them to set up our table with a FUN collection of hats and baubles. Though the tea party was a unique experience, their regular menu is equally delicious. (I know. I tried it out on my scouting trip!) Give them a visit, and tell them you heard about them here. :)



Thrill-A-Minute Hang Gliding

Dunlap, Tennessee


You met Clark when I introduced you to him after our June campout. If you missed that story, check out this blog post. (Better yet, look up the pictures of my own first flight on my Facebook page.) He’s a VERY cool guy, well worth a call and a visit. And if you’ve ever even remotely been tempted to see the world from a bird’s perspective, he’s the guy to know.




And I was especially pleased to have the gals at MopTop HairCare serve as a sponsor of our June weekend adventure. They were incredibly generous with a travel pack of products for every woman on the trip, and based on what I’ve heard since – they’ve got several new fans! If you’ve got hair that’s hard to handle, MopTop is worth a try. And an extra thanks to Michelle Pippin, business-coach extraordinaire, for introducing me to this great woman-owned company. Check ’em out!

And finally, a special hug for….

The Adventuresome Marian Kelly (and Lupin)

Marian helped me get my feet on the ground during the first several adventures (a HUGE help), serving as driver, planner, co-host and co-counsel and all around great friend.

Sweet Nancy Neilsen

Nancy helped plan and drive for our hike in the spring, not to mention being a source of constant support & encouragement in my life.


Wise Woman Peggy Tollison

Peggy, who caught the first fish on our trip in Marchknows I worry about cooking more than anything else. She teamed up with Chris to bring us catfish, homemade hushpuppies, delicious cole slaw and homemade cookies for our fishing trip supper. Perfect!!

 Can-Do (Almost) Anything Carolyn Potter

Carolyn was my co-pilot for our First Ever Not-So-Secret Weekend Adventure in June. I can’t even begin to tell you all the many ways she made that experience the perfect weekend it was. Thank you, Carolyn!

    Where would any of us be without friends?

I, for one, couldn’t make it.

So, a BIG BIG hug to all of you,

and thanks for helping ME move from Courage to Confidence.

Special Invitation: Do YOU have a product or service that might be a good fit for a future Secret Adventure? Would YOUR COMPANY like to be considered as a possible sponsor for these fun, popular, confidence-building trips for top-notch amazing women?

If you’ve got an idea, send me a note or give me a call,

 because I’m planning the NEXT adventure now! :)


Photo Credits: muffintinmom on flikr


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