Saturday, December 24, 2011

November and December 2011

Our holiday greetings come to you from the sunny (???) south! Okay, maybe not so sunny right now. In fact, we have been in Rio Hondo, TX at our winter home for over two weeks now. We have seen the sun a total of three days so far. As I write this (Christmas Eve) it is rainy and 49 degrees. We are hoping for warmer weather and sunshine next week. The area has been suffering from the drought for quite a while now, so I will stop complaining about the weather...

Below are a few photos from the annual Festival of Christmas Lights in Hidalgo, TX. We were there this past week with our friends from Rio Hondo, Karmen and Bob Shaw. Once again the city outdid themselves with the colorful light displays, which we viewed from one of several city operated trolleys.

Karm and Bob at the Festival.

These photos were taken on one of our sunny days spent on South Padre Island.

We enjoyed spending a couple of weeks in Artesia with Casey, Angie and the boys at Thanksgiving. Below are a couple of photos of Rylee and Parker. Grandma is just a little late posting them.

Our grandsons at Halloween. Parker is the Orkin Man and Rylee is the Cockroach!

This photo was taken during the summer (hence the flip flops). Donnie scanned it in recently on our new printer.

We spent a few weeks in November in West Texas, Abilene then Lubbock. The following pics were taken as we "touristed" around both areas.

Comanche (southeast of Abilene) town square with the only surviving original log courthouse in Texas.

Next to the courthouse is the historic Fleming Oak.

I thought this plaque told an interesting part of Comanche history which included the oak tree.

Dan Blocker who played Hoss Cartwright in the old tv series Bonanza, lived in O'Donnell (south of Lubbock) during most of his childhood.

Blocker's parents owned and operated this O'Donnell grocery store for several years.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Last Photos of Fall Trip

We are back in Texas, staying at Loop 289 RV Park In Lubbock for a week or two. I thought I’d post the rest of the photos from our Tennessee trip even though it has been a couple of weeks since we were there.
After we left the Smokies we spent a few nights at Montgomery Bell State Park west of Nashville, then headed to Pickwick Landing State Park near the TN/AL/MS state lines. We spent the time sightseeing and visiting several Civil War Sites.

Our space at Pickwick Landing, near where the Tennessee River runs through Pickwick Lake. Donnie built our one and only campfire of the whole trip and we “burned a few dogs” as my sister Kathy would say. It was a nice quiet park with only a few other campers. In fact, it was so quiet at night we heard coyotes howling.
We camped here with my (BJ’s) Mom and Dad in 1988 when Casey was just eight years old. That trip we really enjoyed watching the barges and tug boats going through the locks at Pickwick Dam, but were unable to repeat the experience. The whole area is now fenced off and no longer open to the public. We guessed it was a safety measure put in place after 9/11.

Here is a photo of tug and barge heading toward the locks.

We drove down into Alabama one day and discovered this creek covered in fog. On the way back we stopped in Corinth, MS at Martha’s Menu, another “meat and three”. Donnie and I have noticed that our jeans are fitting a little snugger after our stay in Tennessee! Wonder why.....

Shiloh National Military Park, site of Battle of Shiloh, April 1862, near Pickwick Landing State Park. Donnie’s second trip to Shiloh, my fourth. We both agreed if you believed in ghosts or spirits, this would be the place to find them.

One of five Confederate burial trenches.

The Sunken Road near the Hornet's Nest where some of the fiercest fighting of the battle took place.

The Bloody Pond where the blood of so many soldiers, North and South, stained the water red.

I didn’t get any photos of our campsite at Montgomery Bell but I always manage to take pics of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Birthplace. Above are the chapel and replica of the log cabin where the church was founded in 1810. Both structures are on the state park grounds.

The Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge at a height of 145 ft crosses TN State Route 96. The double arched bridge was completed at a cost of $11.3 million in October 1993.

View from the top of the bridge.

One day we went to Franklin, TN to tour the site of the Battle of Franklin. But first things first: breakfast at Dotson’s, one of the “meat and three” cafes in TN that I had researched. It definitely did not disappoint with eggs, bacon, hashbrown casserole, biscuits, homemade preserves, grits and gravy! It was so good that we went back a couple of days later for the “meat and three” which was just as impressive as breakfast. If you are ever in Franklin we highly recommend Dotson’s, just don’t let the “no frills” exterior and atmosphere keep you from enjoying an exceptional meal.

After breakfast, we drove around town then visited the 1826 Carnton Plantation nearby. On November 30, 1864, the McGavock family who owned the plantation, witnessed one of the worst losses for the Confederacy. The battle lasting only five hours, took a toll of over 10,000 men who were killed, wounded or captured. Carrie McGavock, opened her home as the largest field hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers. The novel “The Widow of the South” is based on Mrs. McGavock and the plantation during the battle.

A giant 150 year old Osage Orange (Texans call it Bois D’Arc) tree in the plantation gardens.

The Confederate Cemetery on the plantation grounds.

Fort Donelson National Battlefield near Dover, TN. The Union victory in February 1862 opened the Cumberland River, advancing the Northern invasion of the South.

The Cemetery Lodge, which now houses burial records, was built in 1877 on the grounds of the Fort’s National Cemetery.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autumn in Tennessee and North Carolina

These two photos were taken as we were leaving Look Rock Campground on Sunday morning.
Old Friends...

Here we are with the campground host, Fred Griffin, whom we met while camping here in September of 2009. Fred and his wife Millie have hosted at Look Rock for ten years now and have always made us feel right at home.

Jim Whaley (on left) and Mike Berry (on right) who are firefighters with the Alcoa, TN department. We met Jim and his wife Karen, Mike and his wife Audrey, and Mike’s parents, Dottie and Ken during our 2009 trip.

And New...
Hello to Jane and Hank Caruso, who were so kind to invite us into their home and make us feel so welcome. They have a beautiful house with a great view of the mountains on Flats Road just below the campground. We had a wonderful dinner with them and Hank shared his secret for the tasty pork roast. Thanks Hank! Donnie and I enjoyed meeting the Caruso’s neighbors, Ellen and Lesley, who joined us for the meal. I wish I had photos to post from the visit, but I forgot my camera. Maybe next trip...

Of all our travels since we have retired, the people of Eastern Tennessee are the most warm, friendly and welcoming folks that we have ever encountered. We should know, as a portion of our 2009 trip was spent in New York and near the Washington D.C. area, where none of our fellow campers would say hello, let alone talk to us! So... Hurrah for Southern Hospitality!!

On Wears Valley Road this old truck with the trees growing out of the bed really caught our eyes. Obviously it has rested in this spot for quite a few years. The owner was nice enough to let us take a few photos, even though we interrupted him while he was watching the Tennessee Volunteers football game.

One of our favorite drives was Miller Cove Road between Walland and Pigeon Forge, TN.

More scenery from surrounding country roads.

The kudzu vine was introduced to the South from Japan in the late 19th century as food for stock and to stem erosion on worn-out farmlands. Though we find it beautiful to look at, everyone around here sees it as more than a nuisance, as it grows at an alarming speed. In the South, Kudzu has been spreading at a rate of 150,000 acres annually.

On the way home from the Cherohala we stopped at this Bryson City, NC Drive-In for a late lunch. It is called Na-Bers and has been in business since 1954. We chowed down on the best fried chicken and good old southern veggies.

Burning Bush shrubs in Bryson City. Almost every Tennessee and North Carolina yard has these beautiful plants, which have no blooms just brightly colored leaves.

Another day trip to the Cherohala Scenic Skyway in TN/NC

Aunt Becky’s house in the Cable Mill area of Cades Cove.

This was our third and final tour of Cades Cove in the Smokies.

Hey Rylee and Parker, these photos of Grandma and PaPa's visit to the Gatlinburg Aquarium are for you guys. We think it is one of the best aquariums that we have ever seen. One of the neatest areas was the giant shark lagoon filled with 750,000 gallons of water. A moving glidepath (sidewalk) took us around three sides of the lagoon and through an underwater tunnel. We saw really large sharks, sawfish, stingrays and thousands of other fish.
Below are photos of the lagoon.

I love this ray's "face". Looks like he is smiling for the camera!

Blue Tang and Clown Fish.

A Sea Urchin....Oh wait, that’s just PaPa!