CBS News producer Jack Halsbond is behind the wheel of one of two Early Show Winnebagos traveling the country in June and July as part of the "Great American Vacation" giveaway. Read his Web-exclusive road diary.
Located in the northeast corner of the state, Johnson City, Tenn., is within a day's drive of 60 percent of the U.S. population and is served by two U.S. Interstates: I-81, and I-26. Three million people reside within 75 miles of Tri-Cities Regional Airport, which has a highly diversified economy, including a $4 billion health care industry.
I'm told that there is world-class trout streams and lakes, and have been invited back to test my skills with rod and reel, an invitation I plan on taking advantage of. The region is comprised of metropolitan and rural areas with breathtaking backdrops of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains.
Some of the more notable names who call Johnson City and the Tri-Cities region home include: Kenny Chesney, Timothy Busfield, Garrett Willis, Steve Spurrier, Ed Whitson, Dale Ford, Andrew Johnson, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Boone and David Crockett, also widely known to a generation of television devotees, myself included, as Davy Crockett, "King of the Wild Frontier."
Speaking of Ed Whitson, who some of you may recall had a successful major league baseball career as a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher — more so with the San Diego Padres then perhaps with the New York Yankees — his sister, Brenda Whitson, is the executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce. A special thank you goes out to Brenda, a multi-talented lady who happens to also be a gem of a person.
The folks we've been lucky enough to meet in Johnson City have been as generous, friendly and as accommodating as can be.
There's Tom Seaton, who comes from a family of firefighters. His uncle, Norman, was once chief of the Johnson City Fire Department. Tom, however, has made his name tending to other "fires."
I can tell you from personal experience that Tom serves up some of the very best down-home Tennessee ribs that you will ever eat. His Firehouse Restaurant on West Walnut actually was one of the original fire houses in Johnson City, built in 1930. It's since been renovated and expanded, including a garage door in the foyer area where Tom parks his still-operational 1927 fire engine.
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