The Nantahala River rushes through Class II rapids and higher, but it also runs through the stories of the countless people who've dared its churning waters and tumbling falls. One such story centers on Steven and Sue, who met at a Hendersonville summer camp and soon fell in love with each other and the Smoky Mountain air. Eight years later, the Matzes sold off the trappings of corporate-Atlanta life and founded Adventurous Fast Rivers Rafting with their two children, four dogs, and more than a dozen wilderness-loving employees.
These instructors?certified in First Aid and CPR?ready groups for each guided or unguided exploration by teaching proper raft and boat control, as well as describing techniques for crew coordination. A hand-painted map points out routes through the Nantahala Gorge that avoid interview-hungry nature documentarians. Adventurers have just as many rafting options as routes, including Aire and Hyside self-bailing inflatable rafts, funyaks, sit-on-top Torrent kayaks, and traditional bucket rafts. After either disembarking at the riverside outpost?recognizable by the tree growing through its center?or preparing for a final plunge down the Nantahala Wesser Falls, river-farers dry off and examine photos taken during the plunge down the Falls. The outdoor picnic area's park-style charcoal grills make it easy to throw a post-river barbecue.
At Lenny's Sub Shop, named Best Sandwich Shop in 2010 by CityVoter Knoxville, team members bake fresh loaves of bread every morning and slice deli meat to order for each sandwich. Lenny's Sub Shop has been active in Knoxville for 14 years and it has grown to reach diners in more than 15 southern and midwestern states. Its signature 7.5-inch sandwiches cradle a half-pound of meat and cheese, the 10-inch holds 3/4-pound while its 15-inch Heroic subs hold up to a full pound. On the lighter side, the 5-inch holds 1/3-pound. Hot pepper relish blended from diced cherry peppers is available to add zing to deluxe clubs, roast-beef sandwiches, and veggie subs. New items include the chopped BBQ sub, potato salad, wraps, coleslaw, and a large variety of chips. In addition, the shop also serves kids' meals.
Back in 1995, fresh out of college, Shannon Skidmore and his fiancée, Shannan, leased a small 20'x20' building, an old Chevrolet van, and 50 tubes, and took over Smoky Mountain River Rat from its previous owner. Over the next five years, the “Shannons” gradually made the business their own by buying their own property, with Shannon using his contractor license and expertise to erect a new, larger building in just six weeks. Smoky Mountain River Rat has expanded to 500 tubes, two vans, and 20 kayaks, and the business now also offers whitewater rafting on the nearby Pigeon River. Meanwhile, its shuttles transport families up and down the Little River for unlimited daily rides, with customers as young as 2 years old floating down 1.5 miles of tubing-friendly, meandering waters as they trade off verses of old sea chanteys.
Smoothie King co-founder Steve Kuhnau began mixing fruit, nutrients, and proteins in the late 1960s, in a successful attempt to assuage his own health conundrums. By 1973, he?d begun selling vitamins alongside his health-boosting concoctions, and soon, more than 600 Smoothie King locations were operating worldwide. Today, the shop?s patrons customize real apple, mango, and banana smoothies with sundry health-bolstering mix-ins. More than 70 blendable multivitamins, minerals, enzymes, nutrients, and amino acids fortify frosty smoothies, helping bodies to stay healthy or lift semi-trucks. Snacks, such as veggie chips and high-protein cookies, augment shakes in both health and deliciousness.
It’s hard to determine if a mattress is comfortable just by lying on it for a few minutes or keeping a picture of it under your pillow. The Bed Store has rethought the mattress-shopping experience from the ground up. Its has replaced the typical showroom feel with a spa-like atmosphere that removes distractions and allows thorough tests of Serta or Tempur-Pedic mattresses to take place in peace and quiet. At its other locations, The Bed Store and its employees also foster sound sleep decisions, helping shoppers choose from a wide array of mattress features, such as memory or temperature-regulating foam tops or eco-friendly sleep surfaces with bamboo-fiber covers and soy-based foam.
Hot Rods 50's Diner’s checkered linoleum floors, white countertop, and automotive-themed decor transport guests back to a simpler time, when cars were red and shiny. Tunes drone from the jukebox as chefs whip up a sock-hopping menu of burgers, beer-battered onion rings, hoagies, and other midcentury classics. At the soda-fountain counter, staff members blend shakes and malts while gossiping above the bells and pained cries of pinball machines, Servers carry plates of classic American fare to the outdoor patio or formica tables surrounded by booths, all suspended in time by a collection of vintage photographs, license plates, and gas-station signs.