The Swag

May 10, 2012

Details from Deener

Filed under: Happenings at The Swag — The Swag @ 4:03 pm

A late April cold snap hit the apple trees hard, but McRae (our resident horticulturalist) and Bob Collier (our birder) think they will yield apples in the fall. The Swag is the highest inn east of the Mississippi. Spring can be fickle.

Gourmet Picnics at Gooseberry Knob
We kicked off our first Wednesday gourmet picnic on May 2 with bison and fine beef burgers, macaroni and cheese, slaw, potato salad and the ever-popular old-fashioned root beer float. The staff joined us for their monthly inclusion at the picnic. It is always a treat to have them share The Swag experience with our guests.

Exploring Nature at The Swag


Rhododendron and trillium are blooming, and down by the pond, bluettes have turned the ground a light shade of blue (some might even say Carolina Blue). It is a beautiful time to be at The Swag.

Doug and Kathy Peters were joined recently by guests from Denmark for a hike to Little Cataloochee where they visited historic log cabins and enjoyed their Swag backpack lunch in the church.In the cemetery they found tombstones dating to the early 20th century documenting young lives lost to cholera, pneumonia and inaccessibility to medicine. These are reminders of the trials and tribulations faced by early settlers who made what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park their home.By the way, Doug, who is a criminal defense attorney in Atlanta, received quite a bit of attention recently. He represented a man who murdered his lover’s husband in a case that generated considerable media attention in Atlanta and nationally. We are told we will see more about this towards the end of the year.

Malcolm the Cat
Malcolm is hard at work greeting guests and waddling across the yard in search of a welcoming lap or a chipmunk. He doesn’t hesitate to offer a few choice words to anyone who shows him the least bit of attention. Don’t be surprised when you see him. He gained a few pounds over the winter. The vet has him on a diet.

The Art of Conversation is Alive and Well at The Swag
A departing guest recently described the Inn as “a salon,” because of the exchange of ideas, thoughts and experiences that happen daily during meals. Dan and I were thrilled with this compliment because, for us, stimulating conversation with guests is an essential part of The Swag experience.

A good example happened during Sunday brunch when one guest, a philosophy professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, shared details of an upcoming speaking engagement in China. He said that China has grown more rapidly in culture and economy than any country in the history of civilization.

I was intrigued by a recent opinion column in the April 22 Sunday New York Times on the disappearance of conversation by Andrew F. March, associate professor of political science at Yale, entitled “The Flight of Conversation.”

Rest assured that the art of conversation is alive and well at The Swag, and the only things in flight are the birds.


January 16, 2012

Our Visit to the Titanic Museum

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Swag @ 7:35 pm

By: Deener Matthews 

“Over the Christmas holidays, our family went over to Pigeon Forge to see the highly-touted Titanic.  It is a WOW!”.

Crowds are controlled, so that you can really see the items he has collected.  When you enter the museum, you are given a card with the name of a Titanic passenger.  It is not until you exit — a good hour or so later — that you find out whether your person survived.

We had the opportunity to meet John Joslyn, the man behind this magnificent creation just before we went in.

We learned that we can save traffic time by driving over from The Swag on I-40 to the Maryville, TN exit.  Titanic is on the near side of Pigeon Forge to I-40.  Actually, it is a museum that really immerses you in the dreadful event without horror, but definitely awe.

So, for our Swag guests who want a richly rewarding experience, Dan and I give it a heads-up.  I guess it would be best to go on non-holiday days, before school gets out. April, May, September and November would be excellent times to take a days drive over there.

October 29, 2011

Saturday Snow With A Swag Bar

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Swag @ 7:45 pm
It’s a chilly day up here at 5,000 feet! We woke up to a nice dusting of snow this morning, and we wish you were all here to enjoy it with us! This is our second snow of the season, and it’s only October 29th! Can you believe it? 
If you’re spending this fall Saturday at home, why not bring a little of The Swag to your kitchen? With this cold weather, the kitchen whipped us up some Swag bars this morning and we’re all enjoying them warm, right out of the oven! It’s the perfect way to get warm and enjoy this beautiful Saturday! 
Join us, won’t you? These treats would even make for a huge hit at your Halloween party this weekend! Enjoy! Be sure to share pictures of your Swag bars with us!! Oh, and a nice cup of coffee makes them even better!  We’ve included The Swag Bar recipe for you below!











1 cup white sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

2 cups creamy peanut butter

6 cups crushed corn flakes

1 – 8 oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate chips)

  • Combine white sugar, white corn syrup and peanut butter in large heavy pan.
  • Heat over medium heat, bringing almost to a boil, stirring constantly
  • Remove from stove
  • Add crushed corn flakes 
  • Mix well together
  • Press into lightly greased/sprayed pan (9×13) 
  • Spread chocolate chips over the top and place in a warm (250 degree) oven

           (just long enough to allow the chips to melt)

  • Using a spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly as a topping
  • Score into bars while still hot as they are difficult to cut when cool

Swag Bars can be wrapped individually and can be stored in the freezer.  They are best served warm or at room temperature. 

September 14, 2011

Swaggers Have Unique Opportunity to View Elk in the Smokies

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Swag @ 4:00 pm

In the coming weeks, Swag guests have a couple of great opportunities to view the Elk down in the Cataloochee Valley of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The first of these comes on Thursday, September 29, at 5 p.m. for a special, guided viewing of the elk with Friends of the Smokies.  Space is limited, so Swaggers will need to respond by September 22 by emailing The Swag office at    Unable to make the tour on the 29th? Not to worry.  The Swag has added a special amenity lasting through the month of October.  In partnership with Cataloochee Valley Tours, The Swag now offers tickets for Eco-Tours.  The evening eco-tour consists of round-trip transport into Cataloochee Valley, a short hike, elk and other wildlife viewing,  refreshments and a mountain sunset.  The tour lasts approximately four hours.

The experimental release of elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in February 2001.  Each fall, during the breeding season, known as “rut,” male elk make their legendary bugling calls to challenge other bulls and attract cows. Their calls may be heard a mile or more away. Large bulls use their antlers to intimidate and spar with other males. Most encounters are ritualistic and involve little physical contact; only occasionally do conflicts result in serious injuries to one or more combatants. During the rut in September and early October, dominant bulls gather and breed with harems of up to 20 cows.

The Cataloochee Valley is 17 miles from The Swag, about a 45-minute drive from the Swag House, or for the adventurous, a seven- mile one-way hike.  More information about the elk in the Smokies can be found on the park’s website.

September 4, 2011

New High-Flying Adventure Arrives in Western NC

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Swag @ 10:19 pm

While ziplines and canopy tours have been modes of transportation and tourist attractions in other parts of the country, and around the world, the canopy tour has become the latest “Big” attraction.  Over the last couple of years, several canopy tour companies have opened their doors for the high-flying excitement here in western NC.  Adventure America Zipline Canopy Tours is the most recent to open in Asheville.  Adventure America now has six different locations in the southeast, three of which are in NC and would be a perfect day trip from The Swag.

Innkeeper, Deener Matthews, take a zip at Navitat.

Just ask our Deener Matthews, our innkeeper.  Recently when her family was visiting at The Swag, they all loaded up and headed to another fairly new tour operator, Navitat Canopy Adventures.  Deener, and her family, spent over three hours hiking, zipping and rappelling at Navitat, located about 20 minutes north of Asheville.

So if you are looking for something a little more extreme that hiking to Hemphill Bald, think about one of the local canopy tours here in the beautiful mountains of western NC.

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