Sunday, October 30, 2011

Turnip Greens and Friends

Sunday was filled with anticipation.  Friends, Tony and Diana, were passing through Nashville on their way to Northern Virginia for the holidays.  We last saw Tony and Diana in Seward, Alaska in late July.  Of course, we’ve spoken on the phone several times, emailed back and forth, and they follow our blog, but there’s nothing like being together.  Since Seward, we knew they would be coming this way and we’ve looked forward to this visit all this time.  Now they’re here.  But first, there’s a mess of turnip greens.

I’m just an ole southern girl and for us true southerners there’s nothing much better than fried chicken, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and a mess of turnip greens.  Some in my family would add a tall glass of ice cold buttermilk to that list, but not me.  Maybe I’m not as true southern as I think I am.  Anyway, the fall of the year is turnip green time and my aunt had promised me a mess when the time was right.  I’ve been looking forward to these turnip greens for a month.

They say cool weather and frost have a whole lot to do with the taste of turnip greens.  Some people, like my aunt, swear that the best tasting greens are those that have had one frost.  Others, like my mother, say that the frost makes them bitter.  I haven’t done a scientific study of these theories since I usually get my greens in a can at the grocery.  However, my own opinion is that the greens, whether frosted on or not, are best when picked young rather than waiting until the leaves are huge.  Since my greens were coming from my aunt, I got young, tender leaves that had been frosted on Friday night. She picked them on Saturday night and brought them to church for me on Sunday.

Along with church, a quick run to the grocery for fresh bread, and preparing a travel day dinner for Tony and Diana, I really didn’t have time to mess with that mess of turnip greens this afternoon, but greens won’t wait.

I had a grocery sack full which is the same thing as having a sink full.  Greens have to be washed and washed and washed.  They have a prickly surface covered with very fine hair-like stuff which holds onto the dirt and grit of the garden.  Washing multiple times is essential.  I’ve heard it said greens should be washed seven times.  That may be a bit much, but I washed my mess of greens five times before the water was clear.

Then it was into the pot.  You’re probably surprised I have a pot large enough to hold a sink full of greens.  It lives under the sofa and I use it about once every 2 or 3 years.  I was sure glad I had it today.  The pot was full to overflowing, but once I turned the heat on the greens wilted quickly and there was plenty of room in the pot.  I haven’t cooked turnip greens fresh from the garden since 1970.  I had to refresh my memory from the internet.  The hardest part is the washing and cutting off the thick part of the stem.  Once in the pot, just add water, salt, onion, and seasoning meat and boil about 45 minutes until the greens are tender.  I used bacon for seasoning since I didn’t have fat back and I also put in about a teaspoon of sugar.  Served piping hot with a little vinegar or pepper sauce, they are yummy--to an old southern gal like me.

Turnip greens are the leaf part of the root vegetable, turnips.  The turnip looks like an albino beet.  My grandmother fed me lots of turnips when I was a child, but I never developed a taste for those.

Tony and Diana arrived about the middle of the afternoon.  Our pear and apple crisp was just out of the oven, the greens were just in the pot.  We had a wonderful reunion with rapid fire conversation as we got caught up with each others lives since leaving Alaska.  We hugged, laughed, talked, and ate.  Now, we’re looking forward to the next few days with them before they continue their journey east.

Obviously, the photos have nothing to do with turnip greens.  They were all from our trip to the southwest  a couple years ago.  That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Volunteer Trail

Today, we were back at Long Hunter State Park; this time to hike the Volunteer Trail. This trail is 5.5 miles one way out to a backcountry campsite.  However, off the Volunteer Trail is a 4-mile loop--that’s the one for us.

We don’t often do this trail.  The forest here is not very scenic and the section of trail along the lake is littered with plastic and Styrofoam trash thrown out by boaters and fishermen.  During the warm months, it often smells of dead fish which is plenty reason not to hike this trail.

We thought we’d give it a try today and were pleasantly surprised.  The leaves have turned so the trail was bathed in a beautiful golden glow as the sun shown through the yellows and oranges.  With a cool, crisp temperature this morning in the low 40s, there was no fishy smell at all.

This is a relatively flat trail with very slight ups and downs.  About half of the distance is along the bank of Priest Lake where we had some remarkable views.  The day started out very foggy, but by the time we reached the lake the last of the fog was lifting.

We wanted to do a little more than 4 miles, so we hiked the 1-mile nature trail from the Visitor Center parking lot.  This trails makes a loop through cedar glade so wasn’t nearly as colorful at the Volunteer trail. In fact, it was so strikingly different that you wouldn’t imagine it being at the same place on the same morning.

We got home in time for a late lunch and after showers we gave up the rest of the afternoon to chores in preparation for friends coming tomorrow.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Me Time

You know, there are just times when a girl needs her own space for a couple hours.  Being together 24/7 in the small space of a Class C could be a problem for some couples.  It works well for us and we enjoy all that time and close togetherness.  But occasionally, I need a little time to call my own.  Today was one of those times.
Espada Mission, San Antonio, TX

We had originally planned to hike at Warner Park with our friend, Herb, this morning.  However, the rains rolled in yesterday and were forecasted to continue throughout this morning.  Some folks don’t mind walking in the rain and I can if I have to, but if I don’t have to I ain’t gonna.  So the thought occurred to me last night that I could bug out of the hiking thing and have myself a few hours of “me time”.  Gene was fine with that and I got my mind all wrapped around the many things I could do this morning.

When Gene got up and looked at the updated weather forecast, he decided he wasn’t so eager to walk in that much rain either.  He and Herb swapped emails and phone calls and I was on the edge of my seat wondering if I’d loose my time.  I didn’t need to worry.  Gene and Herb were happy to drink coffee instead of hike so they headed off the local coffee spot.  They didn’t get through with their trail talk before lunch so they moved over to the Cracker Barrel.  In the end, I probably had more time to myself than I would have had if they’d gone hiking.
Mt Rushmore

How did I spend those few hours?  Cleaning up my computer and working on my photo project mostly.  When I got tired of that, I got out my book and read for a while.  It was a very fine morning.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Countdown to the Discount

We’re celebrating around our household today.  It’s my birthday and I’m milking it for all it’s worth.  I’ve had many birthday wishes from my Facebook friends, e-mails, and e-cards.  Those have all been fun.  My brother called before 7 this morning.  I was up and on my second cup of coffee and, of course, he knew I’d be up.  Naturally, my mother called.  About lunch time I got a call from Gene’s brother, Doug and a text from my nephew, Ben.  It makes the day special to hear from family and friends.
Gene got me a cap so I wouldn't get shot out on the trail during hunting season.  Got one for himself, too.

We actually started this celebration last night.  Gene took me out for a very nice dinner.  We went to Finezza, a small Italian bistro.  We went there on one of our first dates and returned for our anniversary for several years.  After we started RVing full-time, we got out of the habit of these annual visits.  Every time we’re in Nashville we think about going but something always gets in the way.  Last night was finally the night and having been away for several years made it all that more special for my birthday.

Tonight, we had a wonderful dinner with my parents.  She fixed a pot roast with carrots, potatoes, and green beans.  What about birthday cake, you ask?  No cake for this birthday girl.  Mom made my favorite--chocolate meringue pie.

It’s been a rainy day in middle Tennessee and I’d kinda enjoyed that.  It was a light rain without winds and thunder.  I think this is only the third or fourth time it has rained since we’ve been back in Nashville.  We’re overdue in the rain department.
My mother is in her mother's lap and that's my grandfather's mother standing behind.

Besides talking on the phone and reading email, I’ve been working on my photos again.  It seems like some task or another involving photos never gets off my “To Do” list.  When we started thinking about living in an RV, one of the huge projects was to have all those thousands of photographs digitized.  After that was done, we still had many, many CDs which have been stored under the sofa in every RV we’ve owned.  All those CDs are about 10 years old and my understanding is that a CD has a limited lifespan.
Gene also got me some more thumb drives and cases to put them in.

Storage space is precious in this Class C, so I have started moving those photos from CDs to thumb drives.  Yes, I have an external hard drive which I backup to and I’ve done that as I’ve transferred photos.  But, and you can call me compulsive on this, I want an extra backup, just in case.  After all, these are Ansley’s baby pictures, and they’re mine and Gene’s baby pictures.  There’s even a couple of my mother when she was a baby.  I can’t let anything happen to these photos.  So, today I spent a couple hours working on that project.

So, it’s been a great birthday and only one more year before we’re eligible for the big discount Golden Age America the Beautiful pass.  Some call this the old age pass.  It’s the one that gets seniors into all the federal stuff for free or half price.  The countdown clock is ticking.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes and thanks for tagging along.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Search For The Perfect Water Bottle

Finally, a much needed restful day at home.  After our walk along the greenway this morning, we’ve both been catching up on odd and end things around the house.

A project Gene has been working on for several weeks is the search for the perfect water bottle.  Our hiking requires that we take along water and, surprisingly, not just any bottle will do.  When we backpack, we chemically treat or filter spring or creek water.  Although we don’t backpack much, the special requirements for water collection, treatment, and storage is driving this search.  Even though we’ll be using these bottles primarily for day hiking, in our small home we don’t have the luxury of having a collection of bottles for backpacking and day hiking.  Gone forever is that basement room for gear storage.  Besides, a long day hike may require the gathering of “wild” water.

For years, we have used Aquafina, 1 liter, widemouth bottles and we were so happy.  The bottle was made of fairly durable plastic, but was still lightweight.  It wasn’t too tall nor too fat.  The wide mouth made it easy to filter water into or to add chemicals.  It was perfect.  However, Aquafina has stopped making that bottle.  We have used the ones we had until they are embarrassing to take out in public.  So, the search was on.

At REI or any store that sells outdoor gear, there is always a large selection of water bottles.  We used Nalgene bottles for years.  They come in various sizes, shapes, and colors now and they’ll almost last forever.  But they’re heavy and one of the main objectives is a light pack.  None in the huge Nalgene selection at REI would do.

Aquafina has changed it’s one liter bottle design and is now almost identical to all the one liter Coca-Cola products.  The plastic is thinner, which equals lighter, but it’s almost too thin.  It won’t hold up to the rigors of trail use.  Besides, it now has a narrow mouth which is problematic when filtering or treating water.  It’s also very difficult to collect creek or spring water with a narrow mouthed bottle.

Many hikers like Gatorade bottles and Gene has used those in the past.  They have a wide mouth and are made of sturdy plastic, but the bottle is wide--almost too wide for me to get a good grip on.  They are also too wide to fit in the side pocket of my pack.  Gene can use them, but I can’t.

Also popular among hikers as well as bicyclists are the water bladders like Camel Back and Platypus.  I use Platypus when backpacking because it’s lighter.  They come in various sizes and both wide and narrow mouths.  I used to get in-line filters which I spliced into the drinking tube.  Because of that, I always got the narrow mouth type.  Those filters are no longer made, but I still like my narrow mouth platypus.  Because the tube is right there on my shoulder strap, I don’t have to stop to get a water bottle out of the pack.  Thus, I drink more water.  That’s a good thing.  For short day hikes, I’ll probably use my Platypus.  But Gene doesn’t like the water bladders, so the search is still on.

We searched through the almost endless selection of bottled products at the grocery store.  The first one we tried was a water product--Smart Water.  Even though it had a small mouth, the plastic was sturdy and it had a tall, narrow shape which made it easy for me to hold.  I don’t know if the water was smart or not, but it turned out to be too tall for both our side pockets.

The next bottle selected was a Perrier bottle.  It was great fun pulling out that bottle on the trail, but that long neck wasn’t very practical.

Back at the store we found Ion drink bottles.  It’s a sports drink like Gatorade and it comes in a similar size bottle.  However, the sides are shaped for easy grip.  I like that.  It has a wide mouth, isn’t too tall, and is made of sturdy plastic.  By George, I think we found our bottle.  Whew, glad that’s over.

That little squirrel in yesterday’s photo was back again today.  The pumpkins are on the neighbor’s picnic table.  The squirrel’s gonna have them eaten before the jack-o-lantern is carved.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for tagging along.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Exercise for All

I can’t seem to get myself back on my regular schedule since getting home from my little trip to South Carolina.  Too many things to catch up on and too little time.
Warner Learning Center

We are pretty committed to the exercise plan--trying to get back in reasonable hiking shape after several months in the travel mode.  Up until I went to SC we had found a few hours almost every day to go for a walk or a hike.  We’re not doing so well this week.

However, what we do is good and we had a good hike Monday at Warner Parks.  The Warner Parks are actually two parks--Edwin Warner and Percy Warner.  The parks are adjacent to each other and are more often just referred to as “Warner Parks”.  Together, the 2684 acre parks have about 12 miles of hiking trails with an additional 18 miles of horse trails.  The road system is extensive as it weaves its way over and around the hills which make up the parks.  The roads in Edwin Warner Park are closed to motorized traffic making them a popular place for joggers and bicyclists.  The parks also have two golf courses, an equestrian center, a Learning Center, an athletic field and many picnic shelters.
All that's left of an old boy scout cabin.

These city parks are a true gem for the community of Nashville and, for Gene and I, offer the best hiking around.  We most often hike at Percy Warner and our trail of choice is the Mossy Ridge 4.5 mile loop.  This is what we did on Monday.  The treadway is hard-packed dirt and winds it way over several hills through hardwood forest.  We always go in the clockwise direction.  Personally, I think it is easier than going counter-clockwise.  There is one wet spot on this trail at Dripping Spring.  Even in dry weather the spring is dripping enough to make a wet crossing.

Back in the 1980s after I started hiking, Mossy Ridge was the first trail I hiked in Nashville.  My mother brought me over here along with her other brother, Edd.  He nor I had any idea what we were getting into and had hiked way farther than we intended to when we came upon this log.  My mother sat us down for a short break and explained that we didn't have much farther to go.  Actually, we were only about halfway.  I guess she was afraid to tell us that part.

Down here in the central basin of Tennessee, our leaves are just starting to turn.  Along the trail we saw mostly green with the yellows coming right along.  Not many reds, however.
Crossing Dripping Spring

Today, it was the motor home that needed exercise.  I don’t know the whys or wherefores, but Gene tells me the motor home shouldn’t just sit for month after month while we’re doing our hometown thing, but should be “exercised”.  So this morning, we put everything away, pulled the slides in, unhooked our life support and away we went.  For our hundred mile trip we drove west (which is really northwest) on I-24 to the Kentucky border.  At the first exit after the Kentucky welcome center we turned around and drove back to Nashville.

This afternoon we’ll be exercising the wallet at Wal-mart.  After that we have a babysitting gig with the granddaughter.

That’s all for today, unless I get one of the old entries posted from Trip Journal. Thanks for tagging along.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friends and Family

It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of the weekend already.  I guess that’s strange to say since we’re retired and one day ought to be pretty much like any of the other days of the week.  For us, though, the weekends are different, at least while we’re in Nashville.

Saturday is a good day to connect with friends who are still working.  Yesterday, we met with long time friends, Doug and Dianna, for a hike at Beaman Park.  Doug and Dianna are fellow Tennessee Trails members and for years we’ve enjoyed their company on the trail, at the monthly and annual meetings, and at the newsletter party.  During the year when we’re out of town, we miss hiking with them or socializing over dinner.  With busy schedules it’s taken this long for us to get together this fall.  One of the disadvantages of the full-time RV lifestyle is losing the close association we have with good hometown friends.

After our morning hike, we spent the rest of the day marking off things on our chore list.  Laundry was the big one for me.  Gene had run the vacuum and dusted before I got home on Thursday, so the house was in pretty good shape.  I worked on my list of monthly chores--vacuum the upholstery, clean out the grooves where the windows slide,  and wash Peanut’s blankets.  I also got to clean the carpet where I spilt a coke.

Sunday is usually the best day to visit with Jack and Ansley and get a little granddaughter time.  We went over to their home for a couple hours this afternoon.  Kayley had just gotten up from her nap and was ready to play.  We took advantage of the nice weather and took our play time outside.

Our campground is pretty full this weekend, but most will be gone tomorrow.  Weekend occupancy is largely dependent on which ball teams are playing in town.  This weekend both Vanderbilt and the Tennessee Titans were playing at home--thus a crowded campground.  We are also starting to see the snowbird migration with several rigs from Ontario and even one from Newfoundland.

We’re getting a little anxious to move south ourselves.  After the rains last week, the temperatures have dropped considerably.  We’re now waking up to temps in the 30s and had frost on Friday night.  There’s nothing much better than a cup of hot chocolate on a chilly morning.

I'm going to start the process of moving my old Trip Journal posts over to Blogger.  Not sure how that's going to work and not sure if they'll show up in your readers as new posts.  Guess I'll just have to try it and see what happens.

Hope you’ve had a good weekend.  That’s all for now.  Thanks for tagging along.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Catching Up On The Home Front

As you might imagine, I was pretty much exhausted last night.  I managed to get my bag unpacked and a bite of dinner on the table.  Other than that, nothing else got done.  Of course, I did spend hours recounting my trip to Gene.
Avalanche Lily at Mt Rainier

After being gone for several days, I had a long “to do” list for today.  In order that we might continue to eat, a run to the grocery was at the top of the list.  Little else got done from that long list of chores. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.
Casa Rio along San Antonio River Walk

Gene wrote his little toilet bowl story and emailed it to several friends before I posted it as yesterday’s blog entry.  Darrell from Wandering America, responded to his email.  I wanted to include his comments regarding gasket cleaning for the benefit of all our RVing friends.  Darrell wrote:

CLR is not the best thing to use in RV systems. We were having the same problem and I called Sealand, maker of the toilet. They have a powdered cleaner that you can purchase at RV and Marine Stores, but, after some discussion, the rep told me about Bartender's Friend which you can buy at Walmart.  A weekly cleaning with that has kept the gasket from gumming up ever since (which was the summer of 2007).  You can find it in the cleaners isle, generally on the bottom shelf near the comet cleanser.

Thanks, Darrell.  That information will be useful to us in the future and I’m sure to others, as well.
Crater Lake, Oregon

I’m still dragging around with little energy and not much ambition tonight.  I’m thinking of trotting off to bed real soon, so this is going to be it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

BTW, the photos have nothing to do with tonight's story.  They're just some of my favorites taken in 2009.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Time For Celebration

I’m back in Nashville tonight and feeling pretty worn out.  We got an early start this morning.  I couldn’t believe it when my mom, who is generally a late sleeper, rolled out of bed this morning at 5:30 Eastern time.  Even I wasn’t ready to get up.  Once up, though, we got moving and were heading west by 7:30.

With the early start, we had some outstanding fall color displays with the early morning sun just in the right spot at the right time.  It’s amazing how much the leaves have change just since Monday.  Not only did we see spectacular fall color we also saw snow on the high peaks in the Smokies near the TN/NC border.
Tennessee Welcome Center on I-40 at North Carolina border.

My day consisted of riding in the car which, at best, isn’t very exciting.  Gene, on the other hand, had a day worth celebrating so I’m going to let him tell his story for today’s blog.  Sorry I don’t have pictures.

It is time to celebrate. I try to celebrate when something in the RV is still working. This is hard to do. I do not naturally wake in the morning and celebrate the refrigerator still running. Last night I turned on the furnace for the first time since July or early August. It worked. Now that I can notice and celebrate.

But I did have to face the fact that the toilet bowl was just not able to "hold its water".  So I got out a tooth brush (an old, retired one) and scrubbed the rubber gasket.  I spent a fair amount of face time with my toilet today. I'd scrub and leave water. Set the timer for 5 minutes and return to discover the leak was not fixed. This went on longer than I wished. My patience, while remarkable, was not being rewarded.

Down the street is my RV dealer. I stopped in and asked if I could use CLR or LImeaway without ruining the gasket. They didn't know; they always just replace the gasket. We had problems with calcium build up last month in our faucet aerators. I could see white flakes on the gasket that were not brushing off. So I thought of Limeaway.

I went to Kroger grocery and read the label. CLR had diluting instructions for toilets, but they were thinking stained porcelain. Keep it off granite and marble. Okay, none in my RV. Keep it off paint and wall paper.  And skin and eyes.

What the hell.

I chose CLR because it could be diluted and wasn't in a spray bottle. After more face time with my toilet I could tell the white specks were fewer but were not all gone. What I needed as an implement.  A tool is designed for a purpose. An implement might just work in this case even if designed  for something else. I asked my Worthy Assistant (Judi) to deliver to me a wooden match. Reversing its orientation, I had available a not sharp, small implement to apply friction to the recalcitrant calcium.


Being a retired accountant I have not had a lifetime of experiencing physical success in mechanical things. My physical successes were involved with hiking which was demanding, but not work. Work is useful and leads to accomplishment. In savoring this success, accomplishment, and useful work experience, I wanted to share it with you.


Thanks for tagging along.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nothing Like Family

We have had another busy day in Greenville.  Of course, busy is relative, depending on your age.  My mother is 87 and moves very slowly and tires quickly.  Perhaps I should say we had a full day since it took all day to get a few things done.  It’s all fun, though, and the longer it takes the more we get to enjoy it.

We woke up to rain this morning.  It wasn’t a surprise since rain has been in the forecast for several days.  It was actually the rain that prompted us to go for our walk about downtown yesterday.

My mom and her younger brother, Carl
Not wanting to be out in the messy weather, we stayed inside and spent the time visiting, catching up with what’s been going on with each other, and telling stories and tall tales of childhood and past adventures.

Our time here is up and we’ll be leaving tomorrow morning.  We’ve had a good visit with my uncle.  He’s 84 himself, but still quite active.  He’s been living in the Greenville area for over 50 years and has been a real asset to the community.  He is a retired psychologist and has preached for many of the area Churches of Christ since his graduation from Lipscomb back in the dark ages.

He has also been very active with several mission groups, primarily Health Talents International and Olive Branch Ministries.  Both of these groups are similar to Doctors without Borders in that they provide health services for poor communities in various countries.  Now that he’s retired, it’s hard to keep up with him.  It seems like he’s always out of the country somewhere doing good for others.  He’s leaving Saturday for a week or so in Peru.

This is the man who actually got me into hiking.  I came over to Greenville in the early 1980s for a weekend.  He took me, along with his dog, Spook, to Table Rock in Pisgah National Forest.  After hiking up and having our lunch of pimento cheese sandwiches, which Spook had sat on in the car and squished the cheese out around the edges, we headed back to the car.  Carl has always been one for a shortcut.  He found what looked like a quicker route to the car and stepped off the trail; I followed.  It wasn’t long before I fell down and slid what seemed like most of the way down the mountain.  Spook was more fond of riding than walking, so he jumped in my lap and down and down we went.  To this day, I keep my feet firmly planted in the trail.

Ahh, the family memories--there’s nothing quite like them.  Speaking of family, I’m missing Gene, so I’ll be glad to be heading home tomorrow.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Day in Greenville, South Carolina

Before I get started with my adventure, I want to say Happy Birthday to our son-in-law, Jack.  He and Kayley share the 18th as their birthdays.  This is not a very good picture of Jack, but you know who gets all the attention anyway.  Happy Birthday, Jack.  You’re the best.

Mom and I had a full day in the car yesterday as we drove to Greenville.  It was not a bad drive.  The weather was wonderful, the traffic was light, and I-40 all the way from Nashville to Ashville was in excellent condition.  We encountered no areas of construction and no slowdowns, not even in Knoxville.

We were hoping for some brilliant fall color as we crossed the mountains, but no such luck.  The yellows are starting to change, but there were hardly any reds.  Mostly, it seemed a bit dull, sorta like the leaves were just dying and falling off the trees, perhaps from lack of rain.  Tennessee has been very dry for the past few months.

We finally arrived at my uncle’s home just in time for dinner.  And, oh boy, was it ever a good dinner.  He had made a wonderful chicken casserole, green bean casserole, fresh corn on the cob, and a yummy cherry congealed salad.  I hope we convinced him to bring his speciality--chocolate pecan pie--to Nashville for Thanksgiving dinner.  Also around the table sharing this wonderful meal were Carl’s two sons and daughter-in-law.  It was a great visit.

Today, we went downtown for a short walk around Falls Park.  The Reedy River runs through the downtown area and the city has created a fabulous green space along the river bank with gardens of flowers and a paved walkway for walkers, joggers, and bicyclists.

We stopped on Main Street at Mast General Store.  I had been in the Mast General in Ashville, but never this store.  It's always fun.  I especially like the "housewares" section with the barrels of candy.

After lunch we drove over to Furman University for a tour around that beautiful campus.  We were lucky enough to see the black swan on the lake.  My mom tires easily so we passed on walking along the paved trail around the lake.
Bell Tower and Lake at Furman University

The highest point around the city is Paris Mountain.  We drove up there for the view.  It’s impressive to see the city far below.  Unfortunately, by the time we were there the clouds were beginning to move in and our view wasn’t as good as it could have been.

It’s been a very full day and we’re looking forward to another one tomorrow.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for tagging along.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ready for a Road Trip

We had a fine birthday celebration for our granddaughter, Kayley, Saturday afternoon.  It was fun to see her playing with her little friends.  It was also nice to see other grandparents and great grandparents; many we don’t see very often.  It’s hard to believe she’s two already.

I have been adding a few features to the blog.  Near the top of the page you may have noticed the “Our Story”, “Full-Time RVing”, and “Living in a Class C” tab.  Those have all been added during the past few days.

Slowly but surely I’ve been adding the blogs which I follow.  I certainly appreciate those following this blog.  I know we have many regular readers not following publicly. We appreciate all our readers and your support.  It really makes writing the blog much more fulfilling.

As I’ve been experimenting and playing around with Blogger, I keep finding features that I really like.  Many of these features don’t exist on Trip Journal or, if they do, they’re easier to use on Blogger.

I’ve been packing my suitcase this afternoon.  Whenever that happens, it’s such a strange experience.  We travel all the time, but since we take everything we own with us, it seems so odd to pick out the stuff needed for a few days away from home.  We do this so seldom, we usually spend more time trying to remember where the suitcase is than we spend packing.

What’s the destination?  Well, Greenville, South Carolina, off course.  My mother and I are taking this little three-day trip without our husbands.  Just us girls.  My mother’s brother lives in Greenville and we’re going to visit with him for a few days.

A “girls trip” is not unusual for mom and I.  As a teenager, she and I would come to Nashville for a shopping day.  After I grew up, we expanded on our shopping trips and often got on a plane to Chicago for shopping on the Magnificent Mile.  More often than that, we’d get in the car and drive to Atlanta.  These shopping trips were a special time for mom and I.

Health issues for her and full-time RVing for me has interfered with these trips.  Our last shopping spree was to Chicago for my 50th birthday over 10 years ago.

So, when she suggested we go for a visit with her brother, I couldn’t think of anything better to do.  Well, I probably could have, but nothing that would be as important or mean as much to us both.

This afternoon we went to the grocery to get some grub for Gene.  Hopefully, he hasn’t completely forgotten how to cook.  If things get too bad, he can always find his way to Cracker Barrel down the street.  The Peanut knows how to let you know when he’s hungry and we got plenty of cat food at the grocery, too.

That’s what we’ve been up to.  Thanks for tagging along.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fiery Gizzard Trail

Friday, we drove about a hundred miles down to South Cumberland State Park.  I always think of it being “down” since it is southeast of Nashville, but it is actually up--up on the Cumberland Plateau at Monteagle.

South Cumberland State Park is unique in that it doesn’t exist as a single unit, but has ten sections spread out over a hundred square miles in four different counties. The Visitor Center is located between Monteagle and Tracy City on Highway 41.  That’s were we stopped first to pick up a trial map.
Slippery rock steps lead into the gorge.

There are many trails within South Cumberland.  We chose Fiery Gizzard since the trailhead was only about 3 miles from the Visitor Center.  Fiery Gizzard is a linear trial of about 13 miles.  We didn’t have a second car to run a shuttle nor did we want to hike 26 miles, so we opted to take Fiery Gizzard into the gorge 1.5 miles to the Dog Hole Trail. Dog Hole climbes out of the gorge and runs along the rim on the plateau for 2.8 miles before intersecting with Fiery Gizzard where it comes out of the gorge.  For our return to the trailhead, we took Fiery Gizzard back into the gorge for the 4.6 miles walk to the car. Of course, we had to climb out of the gorge one more time to the parking lot.

It has been about 10 years since we’d done this trail.  As we were doing it Friday, we remembered why we don’t come here often.  We’d rate the Fiery Gizzard trail as very difficult.  The first 1.5 miles is treterous over slippery roots, but has several boardwalks and a couple bridges over wet areas.  Between the junction with the Dog Hole trail and the top of the gorge, Fiery Gizzard is extremely rocky and steep.  Not all the rocks are wobbly, just the ones you step on.  I fell twice and Gene fell once.  Thankfully, nothing was broken.

Despite the difficulty, this is a popular trail.  I’ve done it several times with Tennessee Trails Association.  The big draw is the water.  The Fiery Gizzard follows the Little and Big Fiery Gizzard Creeks which offer many cascades, water falls, and swimming holes to enjoy.  Because of the numerous swimming opportunities, it’s a crowded trail during the summer months.  Today, however, we only saw one other couple.
Old coal mine entrance.
The trail was well marked, but we always have along a map and compass.

The Dog Hole trail was an easy walk across the plateau and it’s climb out of the gorge was not so steep nor rocky.  The plant life is not as diverse on the plateau as in the gorge and you certainly don’t have all that water, but the overlooks are spectacular.  We really should have come back the way we went in.

Our 8.6 mile hike took 7.5 hours and we were scurrying to get out before dark.  The three miles of rocks took an incrediable amount of time to traverse.

Back at the car (and I was so glad to see the car) we changed into dry clothes, stopped at the first Subway we came to for a sandwich, and started the long drive home.  We practically fell into bed.  Surprisingly, we’re not so sore as we expected this morning.
Backcountry campsite at Raven Point; logs around a fire ring.

BTW, legend has it that Fiery Gizzard gets its name from a tale of Davey Crockett, who, while eating turkey with a group of Indians near here, burned his mouth on a hot gizzard.
Rock formations offered a look at limestone layers.

Now, we’re off to celebrate our granddaughter’s second birthday.  Happy birthday, Kayley.

Thanks for tagging along.