"Bell County"


hrs on the road


communities visited




photos taken



The Plan

The adventure for our second episode was an easy choice- it was time to head to Southeast Kentucky and visit Bell County, checking out their tourism attractions and the local businesses that call the county home. 

What We Did

Gap Creek Coffee House

The adventure for our second episode was an easy choice- it was time to head to Southeast Kentucky and visit Bell County, checking out their tourism attractions and the local businesses that call the county home. 

We met up with Jon and Emily, the tourism director of Bell County and his deputy, and chatted with them over breakfast, going over our game plan for the day. 


After we checked out the Iron Furnace and the Pinnacle (see “what we saw”) we drove about 10 minutes into downtown Middlesboro, KY, where we spotted SkateWorld in all her glory. Neon, 80s-themed carpet and decor greeted us, as did the smiling faces of the owners! We strapped on roller skates and rollerblades and maneuvered our way onto the rink. Most of us picked up skating again quickly, and James took the pressure off of everyone else by falling within the first three minutes. 

After getting the shots they needed, Natalie and Sydney, guided by Jon, headed a few blocks down the street to the Yoga Nook, while everyone else stayed to get in some more speedy laps around the rink. 

Yoga Nook

We were welcomed into the Yoga Nook by the owner, Sarika, and the sweetest dog ever, named Alice. Sarika gave us a tour around and then Natalie set up the tripod and interviewed Sarika about her life, the mission of holistic wellness behind the Nook, and her heart for the region and people of Middlesboro, while we waited on one of the hot yoga sessions to end. Once it was over, Syd and Nat removed their shoes and went into the actual studio. It was hot as blazes in there! Even though the door had been open for several minutes, they still started sweating almost immediately. 


After they finished hanging out with Sarika and Alice, the girls headed back outside to meet up with the team, where they were greeted with non-alcoholic shots of who-knows-what, called “White Lightning” and “Bloody Mary”  that Josh and Kevin brought for them from the SkateWorld. They’re definitely good for a shock factor and are sure to induce grimaces. The owners wouldn’t tell us what was in them, as it’s a secret recipe they’ve had forever. 


After a quick update on the rest of the day’s plans, it was time to head to Shade’s Steakhouse for lunch. We filled up on delicious food and then it was time for some golf. 

Wasioto Winds Golf Course

Obviously, we had to work off our lunch, so we headed about 20 minutes down the road to Pine Mountain to play some golf. We were in a bit of a rush because we still needed to play paintball before catching the sunset, so the golf course temporarily turned into the Indy 500 as we drove the golf carts all over the place to get in a few holes in the window of time that we had. 

Nestled in a valley between the mountains, Wasioto is easily one of the most beautiful courses in Appalachia. Chase, Josh, James, and Kevin each played a few holes while everyone else got the shots they needed and took in the scenery. After we finished up on the green, it was time to gear up for paintball.

Pine Mountain Paintball

The steep drive up Pine Mountain was foretelling of the adventure we were about to have- playing paintball in the woods! Our ranger/guide gave us the low-down and we split up into teams to play capture the flag. Sydney and Natalie sat out the first game so that they could get shots of everyone else in action. It seemed like the game was at a standstill for a bit, but then Ford came through and snatched the opposing flag, winning the game for his team. 


Since Natalie and Sydney were able to play the second game, that made the teams rounded out a bit more, with it being four on four. The first part of the second game was a little slow too, with everyone sneaking through the trees and patiently waiting to snipe each other down. That wouldn’t last long though! Chase was able to grab the flag and hand it off to Ford, who once again won the game for his team (it looks like we’ve found his secret talent). 


After we got some shots of James shooting Ale-8 bottles, we said goodbye to our guides Jon and Emily and headed up the rest of the way to the mountain to catch the sunset from Chained Rock. 

Chained Rock

This overlook is one of our long-time faves, so we were excited to end our day here. We grabbed an Ale-8 for each of us and Chase got the drone, and we took off on the short hike to the rock. Once there, we could see gorgeous pastel tones of pink, orange, and lavender stretching above Pineville, highlighted by the sun and emphasizing the mountains around us. 


After we filmed the view from above, we spent the last few minutes of dusk clustered together reflecting on our day. Once it was almost too dark to really see anything, we packed up and walked back to our cars. We were all pretty tuckered out on the drive home, but we couldn’t stop talking and laughing about every adventure we did that day- and of course planning our next one.

Who We Met

John and Emily, Bell County Tourism Experts

Jon helped us plan out our itinerary for the day and he, along with Emily, kindly spent the day with us, showing us around, introducing us to everyone, and telling us unique stories along the way. Even though Jon lives in Corbin now, he knew a lot of the history of the region,  Emily knew just about everyone we ran into, including the mayor of Cumberland Gap!

Dr. Tony, Owner of Gap Creek Coffee House

Dr. Tony happened to be dropping some things off at the coffee shop while we were eating breakfast, so we had the opportunity to meet him and learn about his last six years of owning the shop, including everything from how he acquired it, the changes and updates his family has made, and even how they cater brunch for the Kentucky Mountain Laurel festival every year.

Neal, Cumberland Gap Mayor

We happened to run into Neal on our way back to our cars after checking out the Iron Furnace. Emily introduced us to him and we were able to talk to him about what EA is doing, and he, in turn, was able to tell us more about his mission and vision for Cumberland Gap, which will be extremely valuable to us as we continue in this endeavor!

Frank and Penny, Owners of SkateWorld

Frank and Penny were full of life and were wonderful hosts while we were skating. Frank hopped up and the DJ booth while we were rolling around so that we could have a real party. Once we finished skating, Penny played bartender and poured up some shots of super sour, non-alcoholic “Bloody Mary” and “White Lightning” drinks.

Sarika, Yogi Queen

Sarika welcomed Sydney and Natalie into the Yoga Nook like they’d been friends for years and told them her story about living in different places all over the states before she and her husband decided to settle in Middlesboro. Learning about her heart behind yoga and wellness was so cool!

Alice, Beloved Yoga Nook Doggo

Alice was the cutest mini Australian Shepherd we’ve ever seen. Owned by one of the instructors, Timbre, she welcomes everyone into the Nook with happy tail wags.

Keith, Paintball Expert

Keith took us up almost to the top of Pine Mountain and made sure we had everything we needed for paintball, explaining the rules and giving us a layout of the playing field. He made everyone feel excited and at ease, even for those of us who’d never played before. We were all prepared for combat after just a few minutes of his training.

What We Ate

We started off the morning with an early breakfast at Gap Creek. We’re all massive coffee fans, so we all ordered some form of caffeine-loaded beverage, giving us extra energy to tackle the day. Orders were all over the board, with James getting his classic iced vanilla latte, Sydney asking for the specialty Gap Creek Bun latte- Kevin even gave himself a little extra insurance by ordering the “bottomless cup” of coffee, which is a Gap Creek classic. 


Food consisted of a couple of varieties of hot breakfast sandwiches, and Ford even got the waffles, which looked scrumptious. The talented staff had just finished a batch of fresh peanut butter cookies, so we grabbed several of those for the road on our way out. 


We all drank our favorite versions of Ale-8 as a mid-morning pick me up after our walks at the Iron Furnace and at the Pinnacle. 


Shades Steakhouse was on the menu for lunch, and boy, did they deliver. Our friendly waitress brought our drinks with a couple of fresh loaves of bread as an appetizer. Almost everyone got the chicken stir-fry with a side of their infamous Brussel sprouts. 

A couple of us also ordered delicious steaks.

What We Saw

Iron Furnace

Right after we finished breakfast, Emily mentioned that we should go check out the Iron Furnace while we were still in Cumberland Gap. We drove a couple of blocks to the trail, which led us on a short walk that took us right to the furnace. Imagine a sort of pyramid-fireplace-teepee-thing that looks like a bunch of stacked rocks and you’ll have a pretty decent idea of what this looks like. Sydney immediately decided to climb it and James and Chase hiked up through the woods to the little waterfall behind it, while Emily and Jon talked to the others about the history of the structure. At this point in the morning, it was pretty breezy and a little rainy, so we were all a little cold and Kaitlyn was regretting her decision to wear shorts. We headed back to our cars and were off to the Pinnacle.

The Pinnacle

The Pinnacle is an overlook that gives you the view of the town of Cumberland Gap from above. It’s in Cumberland Gap State Park, and the drive up the mountain was pretty curvy and steep, but well worth it. It was extremely cloudy when we first arrived at the top, but after looking around and checking out the line where Kentucky and Virginia meet, the clouds parted and we could see the land below.

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