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- This time on "Tennessee Crossroads", our first stop's a secluded piece of paradise in the Smoky Mountains. Then we'll discover the works of a Nashville surreal photographer, and finally enjoy a peaceful getaway at the Gentle Barn in Rutherford County. Hi everyone, I'm Joe Elmore. That's the lineup for this edition of "Tennessee Crossroads". Tennessee is lucky to have the Great Smoky Mountains in its own backyard. Lots of people stay in Gatlinburg when they visit, and they love the hustle and bustle. But did you know that there's a peaceful side of town that boasts one of the prettiest bed and breakfasts we've ever seen? Laura Faber takes us inside the Mountain View Inn. - [Laura] Every year, the Great Smoky Mountains call millions of travelers to come experience their beauty. We found a perfect place to take it all in. It's in Gatlinburg, but away from the crowds and busy downtown. This inn covers you in comfort, a warm, personal touch, great food, an incredible view, and it's dog-friendly too! - You're such a good boy, look at those eyes. - We had bought this land that has such a gorgeous view. We did think, will people come this far out? Because at that time we were really kind of isolated. Now we're, you know, not so much, but we took a chance on it. - [Laura] That was 30 years ago. Since then, Hippensteal's Mountain View Inn has become the go-to place to stay for people from all over the country. Vern and Lisa Hippensteal are the proprietors. - [Lisa] I think their lives are so hectic that it's just a respite. They come, they relax. They, sometimes they just don't even leave. - [Vern] That and the view. We'll get up at breakfast, fixing breakfast, and we get up early and you walk out onto the porches and people will be sitting on their porches, just watching the sun rise. - [Lisa] It's just a home away from home. - [Laura] While Vern and Lisa love sharing their passion for the Smoky Mountains with their guests, it's their own love story that is wonderful too. Lisa actually grew up in a hotel, which is where they met. It was the original Mountain View Inn that used to be located in downtown Gatlinburg. - It started out as just this little tiny place and then of course it grew through the years, but it was the first hotel built in Gatlinburg. And I grew up there. My father managed the hotel for almost 40 years and it was home to me. - I lived in Atlanta for five years, hated every day of it. And when I came to watch a friend graduate from high school that was two classes behind me. And I watched him graduate and found a job with her dad, interviewed with her dad, found me a job and a place to live. And I came back home. My family was still living in Atlanta, but I came back home and I've never left since. Stayed friends forever. But we didn't start seeing each other 'til she was 26. - [Lisa] Yeah, I was already out of college. - One of the biggest things between the two of us, we both loved to hike. And so I would go to LeConte and Lisa would call, I'd call her and say, "I'm hiking to LeConte today. would you like to go with me?" And she would. - [Lisa] So by the time we decided to get married, we wanted to be married on Mount LeConte. And so we hiked up the day before with a minister and twenty of our closest friends and got married at sunrise, and-- - Eight degrees. - In November. And then came down at night and repeated our vows in the church with all of our other friends. And that was almost 40 years ago. - [Laura] Vern is a working artist. His watercolor paintings showing the splendor of the Smokies have been collected in this area for decades. - [Vern] This is the green that you actually see in nature. - [Laura] After a career as a dental hygienist, Lisa finally convinced Vern to combine his art and her love of providing people with a place to stay. Vern designed the current Mountain View Inn around the original hotel. - The original hotel was designed by Hubert Bebb, who was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright's. And when we found out the hotel was going to be torn down, I wanted to use the same lines of the original hotel. - This is one of 12 rooms that you can choose from here at the Inn. No two are alike. They're all decorated in a unique way. They do have two things in common though. Vern's artwork is all over the walls and they all share this incredible view. From the rocking chairs on every porch you can see the Greenbrier Pinnacle to your left, Mount LeConte straight ahead, and Mount Harrison to your right, for sunrise and sunset. Every bedroom has a wall of windows, king size bed, TV and a fireplace, and an oversized Whirlpool tub in a private bath. They are decorated based on a theme, and one of Vern's paintings, with names like "Into the Woods", "Spring Beauties", and "Lady of the Mountains". - We want you to feel at home. You can roam around the house any time of the day or night, enjoy, if you need something and somebody is not available, you just find it. - [Laura] The library is full of games and books to borrow. The gathering area downstairs is homey, filled with antiques and gorgeous stained glass lamps. The elegant black-and-white checkered foyer and dining room are filled with light from the many windows, and of course, a mountain view. - Add some more milk in there. - [Laura] And every morning, Lisa and her staff make a homemade breakfast. - [Lisa] Probably our favorite is called Eggs Hippensteal. And it's homemade sourdough bread, and it's grilled. Then we fry eggs and do bacon, and cheese sauce and tomatoes and sprouts on top so it's all kind of stacked up pretty. It's served with baked apples, cinnamon apples, and fresh fruit. And then we serve dessert after breakfast. - The bread is my wife's homemade bread. - [Lisa] I was determined to get chocolate in everything. So we made pumpkin bread and put chocolate chips in it. - [Vern] Because we've done this for 30 years. And many of our guests have been coming for 30 years. And we watched them when they go through their period where they had to hike every trail in the park. They would get up, they would be on the trail the minute breakfast was over. And as we get older, then you'd see them. They would, they had to get into the park, but they'd drive. They would no longer hike. And then it got to the point where, "Well, we're just gonna stay at the Inn. You know, we've done all that. We don't have to do it anymore." - [Laura] Vern and Lisa Hippensteal don't have an exit plan. This is their home, and everyone is welcome. - [Lisa] We feel so blessed because most people don't get to do what they love to do and enjoy. And we've done it now for 30 years and it just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter. - Thanks, Laura. And hello, Becky. Becky Magura became NPT's president and CEO back in September, and as a native Tennesseean and proud "Crossroads" fan, well, she's joining me now to help with our Keep "Crossroads" Traveling campaign for 2022. Yeah, it's that time of year when we encourage you to support "Tennessee Crossroads" and keep us out there finding great stories to bring you each week. - Nice to be kicking off this year's campaign with you, Joe! We want to start 2022 out on a firm foundation to ensure we can keep the "Crossroads" crew on the road. And that's where you come in. Over the next four weeks, we'll be asking you to support the show. And if we can get 400 donations at any level, we'll keep "Crossroads" on the air during our March membership drive. We're also excited to announce a new way to thank you for your support. We've partnered with Bongo Java, Nashville's oldest and most honored coffee company, to create our own brew. Here's a look behind the scenes at the creation of Rambler Blend. - Well, we're at the Bongo Java roasting facility, and we've got roasting going on in the background. And this is Bob Bernstein, who is the founder of Bongo Java. Why did you guys want to get involved with "Tennessee Crossroads" and NPT? - Yeah, this is exciting for us 'cause we're all about local and about distinguished and local character and all of that. So as Nashville and the state has changed so much, and a lot of these places are disappearing you guys do a great job of profiling what makes this city and this state special. So it's awesome to be part of that. - We're honored to be partnering with you on this. We're gonna be able to get our own roast out there to the public? - Yeah, we're going to work with our roast guys and our tasters and come up with a blend that's just for you. It's good for us. It's good for "Tennessee Crossroads". And hopefully people at home will enjoy it in the morning, afternoon, late at night, whatever they feel like. - Well, I'm looking forward to it, here's to it. - Thank you. - With your pledge of support at the $96 level, we'll be happy to send you a delicious bag of Bongo Java's Rambler Blend. The best part of waking up will be "Crossroads" in your cup, right Joe? - Absolutely, Becky. Rambler Blend is one great cup of Joe if I do say so myself. We also want to mention a great afternoon of fun coming up on Sunday, February 20th, at the Jackalope Brewing Company. NPT Day will be a family-friendly event where the "Crossroads" crew can express in person how much we appreciate your support. You've already made "Tennessee Crossroads" one of the most watched locally-produced programs in the entire PBS system. We're honored to be a part of your lives. And we want to say thank you because we could not produce this show without your support and loyal viewership. You can call the number on your screen to make a pledge or pledge by going online, like Becky said, at tennesseecrossroads.org/donate. - If you're a "Crossroads" fan, please call the number on your screen or contribute online, but support Nashville Public Television, the station that brings you "Tennessee Crossroads". Now, here are all the ways we want to thank you for keeping "Crossroads" traveling. - You can help keep "Crossroads" traveling with a financial gift that's just right for you. Donate at any amount and you'll receive a "Tennessee Crossroads" official traveler sticker. At $60 a year or $5 per month, we'll thank you with a "Tennessee Crossroads" baseball cap. At the $72 level or $6 a month, you can show your support and keep "Crossroads" traveling with this polyester blend short sleeve T-shirt. And for a true taste of Crossroads, we'll be happy to send you a bag of Bongo Java Rambler Blend coffee for $96 or $8 a month. Thanks for keeping "Crossroads" traveling. 35 years, three and a half decades. That's how long you've kept us on the road and on the air. Your generosity allows us to continue to bring you incredible and heartwarming stories from across the entire state. You're an essential member of our crew. It's a partnership, a partnership that I hope will last many years to come. Please pick up your phone or go online and keep "Crossroads" traveling. Thank you. - Joe's right. You are an incredibly important member of our team, and we need you now. Help us meet our goal of 400 contributions to keep "Crossroads" traveling in 2022. Pick an amount that's right for you and enjoy some of our great ways to say thanks. You know, we cannot make this show without your support. Give us a call or pitch in at tennesseecrossroads.org/donate. Now to head back out on the road with a new story that you made possible. Where are we heading next, Joe? - Well Becky, we're gonna meet a talented photographer right here in Nashville. Thanks to digital photography, the camera now has unlimited creative possibilities. Well, just ask Kate Harrold, who uses her lens in the world of surreal photography. When Kate Harrold takes a picture, she sees more than what's in the viewfinder. She focuses on a part of what will be a fusion of images. It's all part of the wild world of surreal photography. - I'm usually trying to think about the person in the image and what's going on in their head and their imagination and how I can translate that. So that's why I have kids in a lot of my pieces because kids have these huge imaginations and when they play, they go, you know, who knows where they go. So I try to think about that and try to put that on paper. - [Joe] In surreal photography, otherwise believable scenes and situations are transformed into waking dreams, even hallucinations. The results are often achieved by combining unrelated elements to create surprising and even humorous combinations. - [Kate] As much as possible in shooting every element, even "The Ark", which has Venice Beach with all the animals across it, I shot most of those animals at the zoo here. - [Joe] Kate says her style draws inspiration from the boundless imagination and curiosity of childhood. This piece, by the way, is called "Shipwreck". - [Kate] I liked the idea of just the little piece of tentacle coming above the water and grabbing the kids' boat. So they have their boats on strings. So in their imagination, below the water, this gigantic octopus is just like lurking and playing with them. - [Joe] Kate and her husband Jason often travel to capture images for future projects. Although last year, Covid put a stop to that. In fact, she says the pandemic inspired her to create this surreal work called "Hold On". - [Kate] I didn't know what was going on and I wanted to create that feeling of like everything just up in the air. But the women I used in the image, their feet are still on the ground and they're holding the house down. And so when the wind dies down everything will settle. And you know, you move on from there. That is "Where the Sidewalk Ends" so it's based off of Shel Silverstein's poem. So I used that as the inspiration, and then I started figuring out how I could piece that together and build a sidewalk that falls apart and I put the dirt underneath and then I added all these little details, like a bird's nest with birds flying from it underneath the sidewalk. And my dog, Lucy is falling through the manhole. - [Joe] Assembling many little pictures within a big picture is a meticulous process. With, of course, a lot of help from Photoshop. But finally, there's the last step, capturing that work on paper. - [Kate] I print it really big and do like an edition of 10. And those are the pieces I'll hang on the wall. And then I'll also print some smaller pieces in a larger edition and sell them as more accessible prints. - [Joe] She and Jason own this little gallery near Five Points in East Nashville where they display and sell their works. And when time allows, she sells at various art shows around the country. - It's fun! You know, people always say it's like something they've never seen before. And when kids come in my booth, it's really fun because they're just like, "Whoa, why is that happening?" And, "Is that real?" And it's like, each of my pieces kind of tells a story so it's fun to see people react to it and try to put the story together. - [Joe] Kate Harrold could have taken the traditional path to professional photography, but her mind's eye seems to focus on more than conventional pictures. With surrealism, she can share dreamlike scenarios with her audience and stimulate their imaginations way beyond the picture frame. - I want them to be inspired and I want them to smile. And I think because there's kids in a lot of pieces, it feels nostalgic a lot and sometimes that brings people back, even as an adult looking at it. Any kind of response is good. If there's no response at all, that means there's something wrong with your piece. - Have you ever noticed how walking the peaceful pastures of a farm can make your troubles seem to melt away? In our final story Miranda Cohen takes us to a very special place in Rutherford County where you can discover some special barnyard animals and their inspirational stories about healing. - [Jay] When you walk on the property, there's an energy that you feel. It's just peaceful, it's just calming. You know, we can say an exhale. - [Miranda] Jay Weiner is quick to point out that he is the co-founder of the Gentle Barn. The original Gentle Barn was founded by his wife, Ellie Laks, in California in 1999. He started volunteering at the farm and he's not quite sure if he fell in love with the animals or with Ellie Laks first. - We had some abuse in our lives and we had things that weren't good that animals healed. And we were both sort of saved by animals as children. And we both wanted to give that back. - [Miranda] Fast forward 15 years. The couple learned of a cow in need in Tennessee named Dudley. Faced with the dilemma of how to get an injured cow across the country, they found the perfect solution. - [Jay] So we started looking and we came across this amazing, incredible, beautiful place. And this is 40 acres and it allows us to do the work we need to do. We've got three barns and a house for people to come and stay at to visit, pastures, and enough room for the animals to graze and move about. - [Miranda] The Gentle Barn is located in Christiana in Rutherford County, and it is the only farm animal sanctuary in middle Tennessee. - So we'll go in and we'll hug a cow. And around them is, it's a fly mask. And what it does is it has a couple of different purposes. Number one is that it keeps the flies away from their eyes. - Oh okay, but they can see through it. - They can see through it, it's like a screen door. And it also shades the sun. We have cows. We have horses, pigs. We have some goats. We have turkeys and chickens. - [Miranda] All of the beloved animals at the Gentle Barn have been rescued and have unique stories of their own. Miles and his mother Maybelle were saved from abuse and neglect at a dairy farm. Lolli suffered frostbite on her feet and ears after being left outside in the cold. She, along with her parents, Minnie Mae and Merlin, are now thriving in these beautiful green pastures. And as you can see, nothing is slowing Lolli down. - [Jay] Fact that she lives a normal life and loves her life and loves her family and plays and all those kinds of things is inspiring to someone who comes to the Gentle Barn in a wheelchair. - [Miranda] A handsome rooster named Rick Springfield was found running around at the Nashville Airport, and a bright and curious turkey named Luke Skywalker round out the flock party. But it's not all leisure and play. These gorgeous creatures have an important job. They are helping people learn to deal with their own issues, get beyond abuse or abandonment, and see things a little differently. - [Jay] We really want to show people how beautiful animals are, and how they're just like us. I think that where that comes from is this preconceived notion that our domesticated animals that we have in our homes with us all the time are the only ones that understand us or that we can have a connection with. But I'm here to tell you that, you know, you can play ball with the cows, you can cuddle with the turkeys. You can, you know, there's so many different things that animals of all different kinds show us, and we want to share that message. So we work with our animals to heal them from the abusive or neglectful stories that they come in with. And then we connect them with the children and people of the community that need them. - One of the most amazing things that you can do here at the Gentle Barn is called cow hug therapy. These gentle beauties are quite the cuddlers and you can actually come and snuggle with them. And founder Ellie Lacks says it best: "You can't have a bad day after hugging a cow." - [Jay] So cow hug therapy started at the beginning of the Gentle Barn in 1999. As far as we know, we're the first ones to be doing it. - [Miranda] Even every one of the "Crossroads" crew had to give it a try. - [Jay] They're able to one-on-one come out to the Gentle Barn and have this experience with a cow that is so warm and inviting and caring and nurturing that they just have these profound experiences. - [Miranda] What you will see and feel at the Gentle Barn is tenderness, love, and compassion. In these beautiful faces, you will never see fear, loneliness, or worry about the future. These gentle souls will live out their lives here, working with adults and children. They are living proof that there is hope for the future. - [Jay] But when we're talking to a child who feels isolated and alone, and isn't being cared for and was neglected or abused, that story in the connection between them is healing in and of itself. So once we introduce them to the animal, what you'll see often is a petting that'll happen. And they'll be saying to the horse, you know, "Don't worry. You're gonna be okay. It's gonna be okay." And they're really talking to themselves. - [Miranda] So whether you're an animal lover, just long for a day of farm fresh air, or come to see and love on these beautiful farm animals, don't be surprised if you walk away feeling a little more loved on yourself. - [Jay] We've just seen these children and adults go through these monumental life changes within hours of being here. I think that there's an energy about this property and about the work that we do and about the calmness and care of the animals and the staff that works here that I think provides a place in a way for them to have an exhale or a release or a breath. - Well, that's gonna bring us to the close of another "Tennessee Crossroads", thanks for joining us. Don't forget our website, tennesseecrossroads.org. Please follow us on Facebook. And by all means, help us keep "Crossroads" traveling.
January 20, 2022
Season 35 | Episode 24
Laura Faber enjoys the view at Hippensteal's Mountain View Inn. Joe Elmore explores the surreal world of Kate Harrold Photography. Miranda Cohen finds a place for healing in The Gentle Barn.