Friday, September 30, 2011

One Mile From "Home"

I joined everyone in the hall Tuesday morning to listen to the SkyMed pitch and then offered to help clean up but there really wasn't anything to do since all that was used was paper products. Ted kept trying to improve his score on the Wii and I played some Hand and Foot with the ladies.

At 12:30 the Greasy Hat Luncheon and Red Hat Luncheon convened in opposite rooms in the building. We had a talk from the Extension Service on Seed Starting which I personally thought was a questionable topic for a group where a lot of ladies don't own a home or yard. Going to Lowe's still works for me when I want a plant!

We went to a local restaurant for dinner. I said something to Ted about this being his birthday dinner and the waitress heard me. After we ate she brought him a square of cake with a candle, took his picture and then brought him a copy of it. That was nice because nothing had been done for his birthday.

That evening we had entertainment by Keith Longbotham and his group. They were really good and everyone enjoyed the show. The gal on the fiddle was super.

Wednesday was a catered breakfast followed by a Mor-Ryde Seminar. We are talking about having this suspension put on our trailer. The roads are horrendous and it would greatly improve and protect our suspension. If we have it done, it will be next summer when we're up north.

There was an ice cream social in the afternoon followed by a talk with Mike Mitchell, CEO of NuWa. He always comes and brings everyone up to date on what is going on with the company and any new products they are rolling out. The 2012 Champagne is still the same layout we have so we are sitting tight with ours.

That evening our sub-group, Haulin' HitchHikers, had their annual meeting preceded by a potluck. Ted made pulled pork which was well received. There were very good dishes prepared. So many potlucks are heavy on salads and desserts without much "substance" food. But we had bean soup, taco soup, sausage gumbo, two kinds of meatballs, the pulled pork, cowboy beans, mac & cheese, etc. We have a lot of good cooks!

Afterwards we played bingo but didn't win anything. Good thing because last year Ted won a free yearly membership, 25% off the rally cost and $224 in cash. If either of us won anything, there may have been a revolt.

Thursday I chaired the Mexican Train competition. Later in the evening I was asked to present the certificate to the winner. In the afternoon there was a meeting on all the rallies and trips for 2012. We may make the Haulin' HitchHikers Michigan rally in August but we won't do the International. It is set for Goshen, IN the middle of October. That's too far north, too late in the season for us.

We had a catered dinner in the evening and presentation of all the awards. I DID NOT win in the photo contest. Alaska reigned supreme. The people photo that won was of a woman in Eskimo clothes, animal was a bear with a fish in its mouth and the scenery was a beautiful picture of mountains and glacier reflecting in a lake. I'll just have to keep taking photos and see if I can't get another good one for 2013. Entertainment was Johnny Counterfit who sounded like so many different male singers coupled with jokes. I stayed for about half the show but was yawning so much I gave up and went home.

We pulled out this morning around 7:45 heading to Brinkley, AR but we arrived there around 1:00 pm so continued on. We called for a reservation in Benton, AR but arrived there at 3 pm and Ted said he wanted to continue on to Texarkana to give us a shorter day on Saturday. I cancelled the Benton reservation, made one in Texarkana and called Gwen at Rayford to tell her we would be in on Saturday,

We are in the same park we stopped at on our first night out in June. We drove to town to get fuel and have dinner. To get there we had to exit I-30 at Exit 1. So we were just one mile away from Texas. I expect we'll make it there tomorrow bright and early.

“There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

HitchHiker International Rally

We traveled to Lebanon, TN outside of Nashville and arrived around noon on Friday. We were the 16th rig to check in and got one of the better spots. This is an agricultural center and spots are pretty much where you can find an electric outlet and water. However, we are backed up to a fence, all in a line. We are across the parking lot from the bathhouse and the building where our activities will take place.

That evening about 30 of us went to O'Charley's for dinner. They put us in one private section of the restaurant at tables of 4 or 6 and did a great job in getting the food out quickly and the checks correct. Not an easy feat on short notice.

Saturday night we attended the Grand Ole Opry. Guests included Little Jimmie Dickens who is 90 years old. The circle of wood he is standing on is from the Ryman Auditorium stage and was put in place when the new Opry theater was opened. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Dolly Parton were also appearing. You can see how big this theater is. We were in nose bleed heaven. The close up of Dolly is off the Jumbotron.

The whole complex was ruined last May during the floods. This year is "Country Comes Home" and many of the big stars are taking the time to play the Opry to increase attendance and revenue. There was a sell out crowd for Dolly and there are no tickets available until November so it seems to be working.

Sunday we attended church and then traveled back to the Opry area to take a luncheon cruise on the General Jackson.

It's a beautiful boat, the food was okay, the entertainment great but I felt rushed all afternoon. There never was time to just stand at the rail and watch whatever it was we passed. We could have stayed docked and it wouldn't have been any different for me. However, it was another opportunity to socialize with others from the HitchHiker rally and that's what this week is all about.

Yesterday Ted went to find a stud for the tire. When they took ours off, they broke one and couldn't find one to replace it. So we only have 7 instead of 8 on one tire. This is a pain because now we have to find a place with enough room to park the trailer so the tire can be removed and the stud and lug nut installed. It's always something! Stan's wife flew back to Texas to attend a function so he and I were going to lunch with Greg and Judy just as Ted drove in. So all five of us went to the Sunset Cafe, recommended by someone from the area. It was quite good and kept me from having to make dinner!

When we returned, Ted went over to the hall and called to tell me they needed one more player for Hand and Foot so I went over and played a game. Ted was invited to return to the shooting complex so he did and I went to the Meet and Greet. I turned in my two photos for the contest. Besides the butterfly in the animal category, I included this one of Sam and Morgan last year at Lake Huron in the people category. Wish me luck.

Ted returned before the Meet and Greet was over and stayed around while I came back to watch Dancing With The Stars.

We've had a circle outside our trailer everyday since we've been here but because of the asphalt, there is no campfire. It's getting cooler and a fire would be nice for a couple of reasons!

This morning is a continental breakfast put on by Skymed before their presentation. Ted is signed up to do coffee and doughnuts so I'll have to go wake him. More later.

"The Grand Ole Opry, to a country singer, is what Yankee Stadium is to a baseball player. Broadway to an actor. It's the top of the ladder, the top of the mountain. You don't just play the Opry; you live it." ~ Bill Anderson

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Visiting Bowling Green

We had cool and rainy weather for a couple of days so we planned indoor things. We had reservations for an afternoon tour of the GM Corvette plant and had to wear closed toe shoes, could not bring any cameras, cell phones or any type of bag on the tour.

There was a good sized group waiting but they called Group 1 and all but five of us got up and left. So 10 minutes later, the five of us in Group 2 got a very personal tour. I didn't realize there are four (I think) models of the Corvette that range in base price from $71,000 to $135,000. That's a lot of money for fiberglass!

There are so many things that mean different things on the models. There are different engines, colored tail lights (for cars going to a foreign port), spoilers, insignias, wheels, tires, calipers, flare and non-flare wheel wells, all meaning something in identifying the model and various options. They have to be careful on these distinguishing features because the $135,000 owners want to be sure people know they aren't driving a $71,000 model!

We followed the one mile line watching the cars being assembled. Our guide would point out different models and then tell us what distinguishing characteristic denoted this. When we got to the end where the car is started for the first time and driven to the test room, the guide asked me if I wanted to start the car! I pulled up the seat so I could step on the brake and pushed the starter. And it started right up! I had to test the defroster button and saw the 0 miles displayed in the dash. I rode it on the line until the end. They took my picture and gave me a certificate saying I had assisted at the birth of a Corvette.

It then went to the test room where it must pass 800 tests. Of course, since it was MY car, it passed. (They have a 99% pass rate so I really wasn't surprised.) Then they drove it outside and I thought maybe I could pick it up on my way out. No such luck, they weren't giving out any free samples.

We bought a shirt as a Christmas present for Ted's friend in Tennessee who has a Corvette. That made shopping for him easy this year. We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner and came home to more rain. The new season for shows is starting so TV is good at night.

Wednesday we drove to the park that houses Lost Cave, hiking trails and a butterfly garden. We had a good walk to the cave opening and passed what they call a "blue hole." It has a water exit and entrance but is deep enough to hold water all the time.

We rode a small boat back into the cave and saw how smooth things were from the constant water and flooding.

The neatest part was the Cave Nightclub that was first used back in the '30s when there was no A/C. Today proms and dances are still held here.

We followed the Ridge Top Trail to the butterfly house. I took a few pictures but none as outstanding as the one I took last year in the valley that I'm entering in the photo contest at the HitchHiker rally. Wish me luck.

We followed the Blue Hole Trail back to the parking lot and I told Ted there was a Dairy Barn on the same road we were on. An ice cream instead of lunch sounded good so we set out to find it. We were out in the country when we arrived at Chaney's Dairy Barn complete with a corn maze. We ordered an ice cream cone and looked around. I found milk in GLASS bottles and I haven't seen that since Moby Dick was a minnow!

In the parking lot was a motorized manure spreader carrying a moonshine still. A commercial was going to be made with actors impersonating the Beverly Hillbillies riding on the spreader. The fellow that made the spreader was there and talked to us while they got cameras set up.

The next day we went to the Corvette Museum.

They had Corvettes galore and I found the personal history of the individual cars most interesting. I also learned that the original insignia featured an American flag and checkered flag and was on the 1953 Corvette taken to the New York auto show. But GM Legal determined the use of the flag was illegal and it was replaced with the current Chevrolet bowtie and French fleur-de-leis, still in use today.

This mural was stamp sized photos of owners and their Corvettes. Amazing when you looked at it up close.

After a sandwich at the Corvette Cafe we fueled up for tomorrow, bought a few groceries at Wal-Mart then came home to do laundry.

Tomorrow we head to Nashville which is only about an hour away.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Highlight of the Summer

Today we traveled to Auburn, KY to the Chapel of the Divine Mercy, housed in the Fathers of Mercy Generalate. For the past two years I've wanted to visit this chapel and today we made it. The chapel now contains the high altar, Communion rail, side altars and two stained glass windows from St. Bonaventure Church, Cincinnati, Ohio. By 2005 when Ted's brother made a video to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, the church had been torn down.

I was raised in Cincinnati and we belonged to St. Bonaventure parish. I, as well as my mother, aunts and uncles, all received the religious sacraments at this church. I was baptized in 1945, made my first Confession (of many!) and First Communion in 1953, was Confirmed in 1955, graduated from the elementary school in 1959 and was married there in 1965.

I took a booklet I found in my brother's things when he died. It was the 75th Anniversary celebration of the parish in 1945, 17 days after I was born. It included the entire history of the church including when the high altar was installed and also the installation of the side altars. There was a lot of info on dates, places and costs that I thought would be of interest to the person in charge of archives.

I also took a picture of our wedding that has the entire wedding party facing the altar as the exchange of vows took place.

The chapel is absolutely breathtaking as is the entire complex. Father Wade asked if he could keep the booklet and picture to give the proper person time to make copies for their archives. He took us on a tour and we discussed whether there were gates in the Communion rail because there was evidence of a hinge at one time. He asked if they could have been brass. I knew there were gates, they were not brass but it took me awhile to recall they were marble and reflected the Alpha and the Omega. I do hope they get some more answers and info from the booklet.

Father brought holy water and his prayer book to the altar and gave us a marriage blessing. It was very moving to be standing before the same altar 47 years later asking for God's continued blessing on us. It meant so much to me.

I've taken a picture of a picture of our wedding to post here. You'll have to take my word for it that it is us because we have our back to the congregation.

Next is the high altar, one of the two restored stained glass windows, the St. Joseph side altar and the Blessed Virgin Mary altar where I laid a bouquet on my wedding day. Last is a photo of us taken by Father Wade after our blessing.

The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal. ~ Frank Pittman

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Continuing South

Thursday was really cold for us, 54 degrees, the same temperature it was going to be in the cave. So we dressed in jeans, sweatshirts and jackets and headed to the park for the 11 o'clock tour. There is some sort of fungus affecting bats so if you've been in a cave or mine since 2005 and have on any clothes or shoes you wore then (!) you have to be decontaminated. I saw people putting the soles of their shoes in a solution in a plastic box, then another box before being allowed on the tour. We were in an iron mine last summer but we didn't have on the same shoes so we were OK.

We had to gather at Shelter A to wait for our guide and while there met a very nice German couple. They have visited the U.S. for the past 19 years and this was their 41st National Park. We had an enjoyable conversation with them before and after the tour.

Back in the late 70s, Ted and I visited Mammoth Cave and took a tour; however, I didn't remember them having a dozen to choose from. Over these past decades more and more of the cave has been discovered, along with more than two dozen new entrances, and now almost 400 miles have been found. The tours are broken up by length, difficulty, time, etc. We chose the Historical Tour that ran over two hours.

Because everything is preserved because of the lack of weather elements and due to the minerals that act as preservatives, we were able to see the wooden boxes and sluices used to mine saltpeter during the Revolutionary War.

There is also "candle writing" on the walls and ceilings that go back to the 1800s. We saw Isaac Newton's, along with his brother John's, who visited in 1838.

Our most difficult area was called Fat Man's Misery and Tallman's Torture. I had to turn sideways to get through the rock and bend in half to keep from hitting my head. Ted was way ahead of me and since we kept moving I assumed he was doing OK.

We went about 332 feet underground. This area floods when the Green River floods. We sat on brand new metal benches that had recently been installed because the old wooden ones had been washed away this spring. We started our last half of the tour which culminated in a climb of 155 steps straight up to the surface.

Then we had to walk across a soapy mat about six feet long to clean the bottoms of our shoes so we don't carry the bat fungus elsewhere.

It was a good work out for both of us but it makes us realize there are many things out there that little by little we won't be able to do. A few years back we hiked over 350 feet down into Bryce Canyon and back up in the summer heat. We took our time and had plenty of water with us and did just fine. But everyone does need to be cautious and know their limits.

We took a ride the next day to find the shooting range near us. I think Ted will be shooting on Saturday. While out, we were looking for a hat for me. I am attending a luncheon at the HitchHiker rally and need a hat to wear. I don't belong to the Red Hat Society and last year I had borrowed my neighbor's hat. We finally found a red cowgirl hat at a souvenir shop that had lost its band and then I bought a spool of red ribbon at the dollar store. We came home and I picked the dried glue off the band area and then put the new ribbon on. That's my $7 hat and it will just have to do!

One of our neighbors came by and sat a spell to visit with us. They are full timers and of course her first question is "Are you Escapees or do you really live in Texas?" There are about 15,000 people that call Rainbow Drive, Livingston, TX home. That is where the Escapee mail service is. Some people come to TX, get established prior to full timing, and never return to the state. They do licenses by mail and vote absentee. Home for them is wherever the wheels stop.

Ted did go to shoot on Saturday but had to settle for trap since they had no skeet fields. He shot two rounds, breaking all 50 birds. The fellows called him a "ringer" and invited him back anytime he is in the area.

We drove to Glasgow to attend Mass at St. Helen's. It was a really old church made entirely of rock but I didn't have my camera with me. Upon leaving, three couples in a row were RVers. The priest talked to each one of us because he knew we were visitors. He was genuinely glad we had come and wished us safe travels.

The campground owners had told us to eat at a little hole in the wall called "Taste of Texas." There was a bit of a wait but it was well worth it. I had the best steak I've had in some time.

We traveled to Bluegrass Music Park in Franklin KY today, just six miles from the TN border. Because we had a low tire this morning, Ted went into town to find a tire place to make an appointment to have the balancing powder sucked out of our remaining three RV tires. We've learned that this powder contaminates the valve stems and causes leaks. He stopped at the truck place first but their equipment is too big so they gave him names of two businesses in town. He said they stopped using that powder in truck tires for just the reason Ted cited. The "beads" are apparently OK but Ted opted for the regular weights when he had the one fixed in Cincinnati and will probably do the same with the remaining three tires.

It's a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon and of course football is on the TV. We're all settled in for the next five days. Hopefully Ted can get the tires done Friday morning before we head to Nashville. That will be easier than hooking up this week and then getting set back up. But if that's what we have to do, we'll do it!

Mammoth Cave was not named because there were woolly mammoths found down here, but rather because it is mammoth! ~ Our Guide

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Back in Central Daylight Time

Tuesday we drove to Bardstown but continued driving south and visited Gethsemane Abbey, Bishop Flaget Log House & St. Thomas Church and Knob Creek Farm. We were surprised at the number of religious communities and related sites in the area.

The Abbey is on gorgeous grounds with beautiful buildings. We watched a movie about the monastic lifestyle of the monks here and then visited the gift shop. We were invited to visit the church for the 2:15 pm call to prayer. The monks pray 7 times a day starting at 3:15 am and ending at 7:30 pm plus they attend Mass each day.

As we approached the church the signs said silence was required.

There was a small chapel at the back of the church with the benches in the church on the sides facing each other, not the front of the church.

We were given prayer books and we followed along. It only lasted 15 minutes. Other than the prayers or hymns there was absolute silence until you walked back to the grounds and away from the church.

Our next stop was at a farm house built in 1795, bequeathed to Bishop Joseph Flaget who founded St. Thomas Church in 1812.

At that time Bardstown was one of six dioceses and it went from the southern border of Tennessee to Lake Superior, east to include the states of Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee and as far west to what is now Iowa. This indicated to me how important Bardstown was at the time.

Our last stop was at Knob Creek Farm where President Lincoln lived as a boy and attended school. While the area was maintained there were no National Park Service people present and the buildings were locked. Our tax dollars NOT at work.

We returned to Bardstown to have dinner at The Talbott Tavern in operation since 1779. They gave us a "history of the tavern" sheet and a few things popped out at me.

The Bardstown Mustangs assembled at the tavern in 1830 to leave to fight in the war of Texas Independence. They all perished at Goliad where the Mexicans massacred everyone despite their surrender. Only one man from Bardstown, J. C. Duvall, made it out alive.

Peter Grayson, author of The Treaty of San Jacinto which ended the Texas War of Independence, stopped by the tavern on his way to Washington as the Texas Secretary of State. He was killed by bandits when he continued his journey.

Alexander Walters, born to a slave cook in the pantry of the tavern in 1885, became the founder of the NAACP and was the first African American appointed as a foreign minister.

T. D. Beam (brother of Jim Beam), purchased the tavern from the Talbott's in 1916. Tom Moore, Barton distillery, purchased it in 1926.

Since 1968 it has been owned by the Kelley's, great-great grandchildren of John Talbott whose tailor shop close by was robbed by the Jesse James gang in 1875.

After dinner we headed to the fairgrounds for the Balloon Glow. It was so neat to watch that nothing needs to be said beyond the pictures.

Wednesday morning we headed just 50 miles down the road to Cave City. We rode around the little towns after we were settled and stopped by Mammoth Cave State Park to get tickets for tomorrow's cave tour. Our senior pass got us half priced tickets. Woo Hoo!

" A monk is a man who responds with a single focus to the summons of God and daily consecrates himself to the search for God." ~ Abbot Edmund Boyce, O.S.B.