Cabin fever can really take its toll on couples (and singles) who have nothing to occupy themselves indoors. It had been thirteen weeks since the Bluegrass musicians and their groupies (that would be us) had gotten together at Charlie and Deborah’s Coker Creek Saloon. We were all in a celebratory mood feeling that winter may finally be over and we had all made it through alive -- and those who went into winter married were still married.
Richard and I hadn’t had the chance to share all our Mardi Gras goodies and our New Orleans delicacies of mini-muffaletts and king cake. Charlie’s birthday was also looming, so we decided to have a celebration fit for a faux king (and his queen). If it’s good enough for the New Orleans carnival krewes to crown kings and queens; it’s also good enough for Coker Creek.
I arrived dressed in my most magnificent Mardi Gras attire, complete with feather boa and mask; Richard wore a “Bless you Boys” T-shirt to rub it in that our team won the Super Bowl. We brought beads for everyone, with special beads for the king and queen, in lieu of crowns.
I recruited eleven-year-olds Prince Eugene to crown King Charlie and Princess Cassie to crown Deborah, his Queen of Coker Creek. Eugene’s twin brother Prince Billy then rained beads down upon the king’s royal subjects as the king cake candle was lit. The royal minstrels played while the court jesters cavorted in the gallery (otherwise known as the porch). There was much merry-making in honor of the king (at least for the night) of Coker Creek.
The following day we were invited to accompany Charlie and Deborah on a mystery tour to celebrate Charlie’s birthday. Hopalong Nancy, Jim, Deborah, Charlie, Richard and I all piled into Charlie’s truck and took off without any but Deborah knowing the destination. All she would tell Charlie is where to make the next turn. We drove for well over an hour through the rural Tennessee countryside with foals and calves cavorting in freshly greened pastures and miles of redbuds, Japanese magnolias, cherry trees and Bradford pears all in full bloom. The farmland fields were freshly plowed in many cases, and in others already sprouting.
Our destination was the magnificent Whitestone Country Inn on Watts Bar Lake. The springtime colors of the budding and blooming trees were reflected in the lake’s mirror-smooth surface with panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains. We had a delicious lunch at Lamb and Lion restaurant next to the adorable wedding chapel on the 600-acre property. The food was great; the dining room was beautiful; and the views were fabulous. We had a grand time, and to top it off the chef came by and inquired about our experience. I felt like we were all royalty.
On the way back, we took the scenic route, as Charlie is prone to doing. We were shown the many entrance and exit points for the old Tennessee Highway 68 as it crisscrossed New Highway 68 while Charlie regaled us with tales of local historical events and the characters involved in them. Who knew that Stokely Canning Company had its first-ever canning plant in Tellico Plains, or that Scott Fertilizer was developed in conjunction with the Stokely operation right down the mountain from our house in the holler? What a delightful tour guide Charlie makes! It’s nice to hang with the king of Coker Creek.