Saturday, July 29, 2017

Solar Eclipse Part IV: Nashville

The Aug. 21 total solar eclipse darkening our nation passes directly over the South, scooting past Nashville, Tennessee. Naturally, the Music City is offering a few incentives for eclipse watchers since it's the largest city in the path of totality.

The Westin Nashville near Nashville’s entertainment district and adjacent to the Music City Center, will offer everything from a Solar Eclipse 2017 Room Package to a Solar Eclipse 2017 Watch Party at L27, Nashville’s highest rooftop bar. The package includes a minimum two-night stay at the Westin Nashville starting Sunday, Aug. 20, an in-room breakfast for two off the SuperFoodsRx Menu the morning of the Total Solar Eclipse, and a comp Rhapsody Spa welcome gift. In addition to this accommodation and in-room dining experience, guests will be given access to a complimentary yoga class for two at the L27 Rooftop Bar at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 21, and will receive two tickets to the Solar Eclipse 2017 Watch Party.

The Westin Nashville’s Solar Eclipse 2017 Watch Party begins at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 21, at L27 Rooftop Bar and is open to guests of the hotel. Eclipse progression begins around 11:58 a.m. and the fun concludes at 2 p.m. Access for the general public is not guaranteed, but will open at 1 p.m. pending available space.

Other eclipse events happening include:
Watching the animals react to the sun's disappearance at the Nashville Zoo
Viewing party at the Nashville Adventure Center Aug. 19-21

Want more suggestions on where to view the total solar eclipse in Tennessee? Click here.

Cheré Coen is a food and travel writer who loves weird and unusual things, and simply cannot wait until the total solar eclipse.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Triangle - it's not just for calling people in for supper

It may look like a simple instrument to conquer, but the triangle, or tit fer in Cajun French, is a vital part of a Cajun sound. And yes, it doubles as a way to call people in for supper.

But the musical side of this piece of steel is why Vermilionville will host a class on teaching Cajun rhythms on the triangle on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, part of the historical village’s monthly workshops that teach crafts from master artisans.

During the Aug 5 workshop in Lafayette, Louisiana, members of the Huval family who make up the band ŒUVAL will teach Cajun rhythms on the triangle from 10 a.m. to noon. Based out of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, ŒUVAL is made up of the extended and musical Huval clan of St. Martin Parish. Kevin Huval on vocals and guitar is joined by his sons, Joshua on accordion and Daniel on bass, plus Christian Lejeune on fiddle and Jimmy Breaux on drums.

Participants must have their own triangles for this class but Vermilionville is offering triangles made by its resident blacksmith, Jay Steiner, at a reduced price of $10 when purchased in conjunction with the workshop. There are only 10 triangles available at this cost, and they can be purchased at the time of online registration. To register, visit, or call (337) 233-4077 or email

Cheré Coen is a food and travel writer who loves weird and unusual things, including fun instruments. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Celebrate Tomato Sandwich Day in Decatur, Alabama

My Deep South mother grew up eating tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches. She convinced me to enjoy chopped black olive and mayo sandwiches (which are actually really good) but not the former. Still, when I heard that the Morgan County-Decatur Farmers Market in Decatur, Alabama, was hosting its annual Tomato Sandwich Day on Saturday, July 29, it made me smile. The market will be offering free tomato sandwiches — tomatoes on white bread with mayo — from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and hosting a new contest where chefs are invited to enter their favorite tomato pie recipe using tomatoes purchased from local farmers at the farmers market.

Tomato pie I can wrap my head around. That sounds yummy.

The tomato pie contest will be judged by local farmers. Contest registration is required and the entry fee is $10 per person. Prepared entries are due at the market at 2 p.m. for judging.

In addition to tomatoes, there will be jams and jellies, fresh-baked goods, local honey, local artisans and fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables including okra, squash, green beans, cantaloupe, watermelons, onions, peppers and peaches.

The Morgan County-Decatur Farmers Market is located at 211 First Ave. SE in Decatur; call the Morgan County-Decatur Farmers Market Manager Elizabeth Thompson at (256) 476-5595 for more information or visit or their Facebook page for the latest updates. Not a tomato lover?

The Market celebrates Watermelon Day on August 19.  

Cheré Coen is a food and travel writer who loves weird and unusual things, but maybe not a tomato sandwich. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Solar Eclipse, Part III: South Carolina, Georgia

By now you’ve likely heard — or read since this is part III — that the first total solar eclipse in 26 years will be visible across the United States, with the path of totality in several Southern states. While everyone in the country should be able to see a partial eclipse, only those in the direct 100-mile wide path will witness the total blockage of the sun. The path of totality will cross parts of Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri. The last solar eclipse to cross the continental United States was in 1918 and the next solar eclipse will take place on Aug. 12, 2045. And that next one won’t be as good. So, we suggest you pack some clothes and hit the road to find one of the best places to watch this historic event.

We’ve already mentioned the Smokey Mountains region and Rabun Gap, Georgia, but here are a few more places to consider, thanks to Katie Reeder and Ruth Sykes at Laurie Rowe Communications.

Capital City/Lake Murray Country, South Carolina
This region of South Carolina is conveniently located off several major interstates in the central part of the Palmetto state, so it’s easy to access and an ideal vantage point. Lake Murray will have the largest viewing area, at both park sites of Lake Murray Dam (Lexington and Irmo sides), and Columbia and its surrounding region will have the longest viewing of the eclipse on the East Coast. The path of the eclipse will pass through Lake Murray at 2:30 p.m. and Columbia at 2:41 p.m. for 2 minutes and 30-36 seconds.

Throughout the long weekend of Aug. 18-21, there will be special eclipse-related events. Events include:
·      An old fashion Drive-In Movie night at the Historic Columbia Speedway festival grounds
·      Carolina Fireflies game
·      Benton Brewing’s Carolina Blackout release
·      Congaree National Park wilderness eclipse experience

For more information, visit and 

Alpine Helen-White County, Georgia
This quaint little mountain town 90 minutes north of Atlanta resembles something found in Europe, and while you’re enjoying the fun boutiques, restaurants, wineries and Alpine architecture, you can view the eclipse beginning at 1:06 p.m. with the path of totality at 2:35 p.m. for 1 minute and 41 seconds. In nearby Cleveland, the partial phase will begin at 1:06 p.m. and the path of totality will pass through the area at 2:36 p.m., lasting approximately 38 seconds. Special events include:
·      Touring the strasses and platzes of the Alpine Village in a horse-drawn carriage
·      Golfing, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, tubing, rock climbing, zip lining and horseback riding 
·      Helen’s seven wineries and tasting rooms
·      Artisans – quilters, woodcarvers, potters, glass artists.
For more information, visit

Blue Ridge, Georgia
Another sweet little village about 90 minutes north of Atlanta is Blue Ridge, with its blend of art, outdoors and great eating. The partial phase of totality will begin at 1:04:55 p.m., with totality starting at 2:35:07 p.m. Plan to catch the eclipse in totality at 2:35 p.m. for 35 seconds. 

The town of Blue Ridge is on the southern edge of the shadow, so totality, when the moon's shadow fully blocks the sun's light, only lasts for 35 seconds.  However north and east of Blue Ridge in Fannin County, in McCaysville and Morganton, the totality lasts longer. In Morganton, the partial phase start will begin at 1:05:05 p.m., with the totality phase beginning at 2:34:45 p.m. and lasting 1 minute and 10 seconds. In McCaysville, the partial phase start will begin at 1:04:43 p.m., with the totality phase beginning at 2:34:08 p.m. and lasting 1 minute and 34 seconds.

Try one of these locations for the best viewing spot:
·      Chamber Visitor Center at 152 Orvin Lance Drive - 55 seconds of totality at 2:34:50 p.m.
·      Lake Blue Ridge Dam - 1 minute 2 seconds of totality at 2:34:50 p.m.
·      Morganton Point Recreation Area - 1 minute 8 seconds of totality at 2:34:50 p.m.
·      Horseshoe Bend Park in McCaysville - 1 minute 31 seconds of totality at 2:34:15 p.m.
·      Downtown McCaysville - 1 minute 35 seconds of totality at 2:34:10 p. m.
·      Ocoee Whitewater Center - 1 minute 46 seconds of totality at 2:33:45 p.m.

After the eclipse, enjoy fresh produce at local orchards and sweet treats from the winners of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and check out the local art scene at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association and Art Center. The Appalachian Trail is nearby — beginning and traveling through Blue Ridge — but you can also hike the Benton MacKaye Trail, kayak the Toccoa River, boat Lake Blue Ridge or cast a line in the county known as Georgia’s Trout Capital. For more information, visit  

Don’t forget to protect your eyes. Find affordable glasses for a safe viewing experience, here:

Cheré Coen is a food and travel writer who loves weird and unusual things, and simply cannot wait until the total solar eclipse.