Friday, November 26, 2010

Wrapping up our stay in Readyville, TN

I love the way late afternoon sunsets accent the countryside in autumn.  That light infuses everything with a warm glow -–sort of reminds me of a Thomas Kincaid painting.  The white house in the distance has been there since 1820 and the gray horse barn to the right was built prior to the Civil War.  

This is  a tranquil area. We will only be here a few more days.  I have been taking advantage of the time to do a few improvements to the motorhome.  We have a wood floor in the galley that is roughly 3 feet wide  x 10 feet long.  It was beginning to show some wear.  I knew if I waited too long that I would have to sand the entire floor down to bare wood, and I did not want to go through all of that mess in such a small space.  And, to get from the living room to either the bathroom or the bedroom, we have to walk on the wood floor.   My options were limited.
I decided to do the work in the evening, finishing up just in time to go to bed.  The living room carpet butts up against the wood floor on one side and that presented me with another challenge:  how do I brush on polyurethane at the edge without getting some on the carpet?  I knew I could use masking tape, but that would be tedious to get it on and tedious to get if off.  I decided to by an El Cheapo mini blind at WalMart.  Cost me $3.25 with tax.  I used a few of the slats to separate the carpet from the wood .  That way I could quickly brush on the poly without having to do a time-consuming job of keeping the end of the brush away from the carpet.
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The other  challenge was that I had to apply two coats and the second coat needed at least 4 hours to dry before we could walk on it.

So I set my alarm for 1:30, but woke at 12:30 and found the floor dry enough to lightly sand, remove the dust and roll and brush the final coat.  I planned to finish up in the bathroom where the wood stops and the tile begins.  I was back in bed by 1:15 and when Sandy awoke around 6:00 she found the floor dry enough to walk on.  Hip, hip, hooray.  But she had to carry chunky Trixie out of the bedroom so that her nails would not dig into the surface which had not cured enough for puppy toes.

My other coach improvement came about today when I was looking under the sofa for my winter coat.  Our sofa is in that portion of the living room that slides out. When I took off the access panel under the sofa and looked in all I could find was daylight coming from the lower SW corner of the slide out room. Oh crap! I thought. This is not good.  And it was not.  But it was an easy fix.  I was able to fill the gaps with the low expansion spray foam.  Now we don’t have to worry about spiders, lady bugs and other insects sharing our living quarters.  For my non-RV readers, the gap was not visible from the outside and could only be found by looking up into a small access panel outside and underneath the slide out room.  It is very unlikely that mice could get in there because the painted sides of the motorhome are as smooth as glass.
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The neighbors across the road have two gentle and sweet horses.  Stormy is on the left and Kisses is to the right.  We have become good buddies by feeding them pieces of apple.   Now when they see us approach they come running.
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Our hosts Gary Omel and his friend Sandy Starlin are riding the John Deere Gator with Gary’s two dogs, K.C. and Jackson in the back. 

Today Sandy and I pulled together most of the clothes we will take with us to Illinois. After 14 months of having everything at our fingertips, it was difficult to decide what to take with us. It is a 600 mile drive.  We will spend one night in a motel and will not take anything inside but the clothes on our backs.  We do not want to transport bedbugs across state lines.  I believe that is a violation of the Simmons Act.

Tomorrow morning we are going back to the Readyville Grist Mill for breakfast. It will be a new venture for the mill owner.  And come Monday morning, we are out of here at 5:00 a.m. as we head to frozen Northern Illinois. 

I won't be blogging until we get into Florida around New Year's Eve.  Hope you all have a safe and Merry Christmas.

Tune in again in 2011

Monday, November 22, 2010

Opryland Hotel from a Different Perspective

In my former life as a worker bee vs. my present life as a retiree I spent a lot of time traveling and living in hotels.  I like to tell people that I have visited nearly every major city in the U.S. and now I am getting to see some of the places that I flew over.

One venue I was at fairly often is a modest hotel in Tennessee called Opryland Hotel.  It is probably the only hotel in which I have ever found myself lost.  It you have been to Opryland Hotel, you can commiserate with me.

Today Sandy and I and Gary Omel and Sandy Starlin took a day trip to Nashville just to see this spectacular destination.  This time I could look at it through the  eyes of a visitor rather than through the eyes of someone who was managing a portion of a very large meeting.
Flooded Opryland Hotel
You might remember that parts of central Tennessee experienced severe flooding in May of this year.  Opryland Hotel was flooded with up to 10 feet of water in parts of the property.
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But after $285,000,000 in repairs and renovations, the hotel is even better than before the Cumberland River spilled over its banks.
The hotel has extensive indoor landscaping that rivals any green house or conservatory in the country.  The plantings, trees, orchids, waterfalls and Christmas poinsettias make it a feast for the eyes.  Here is some of what we saw.
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Stay tuned

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Mill at Readyville, TN

Yesterday we visited the grist mill in Readyville.  It has been an important part of this unincorporated town since it was first built back in 1812. Readyville and the surrounding countryside is truly charming.  It is small town, rural America – southern style. IMG_2508
People here still talk about the Civil War which is understandable because it was fought here.  There are battlefields nearby.  When the Union Army came through his area in 1864 the mill was burned.  And in 1869-70 it was rebuilt.IMG_2480
About five years ago a young energetic man named Tomm Brady acquired the mill and has set about to restore as much of it as possible while his energy and  resources last. Tomm has done a wonderful job.  The main mill building was probably one more winter away from collapsing into the Stones River, but thanks to his dogged hard work he has turned it into a showpiece of early American agricultural commerce.
Tomm demonstrates a device used to fill flour sacks.  Incredibly the adjustable platform and associated mechanism would fill a flour sack within ounce or two of 50 pounds.
These two hoppers extend to the second floor where the various flours were contained in large bins prior to being sacked.
The first two floors of the mill are filled with machinery and bins. Also prominent are square shaped tubes running between floor, these tubes carry grain from one process to another.  Some of the tubes employ an auger to move grain. These augers were handmade.  One such auger is shown below.
Other wood tubes transported grain via small tin cups hand-crafted and then riveted to a cloth belt  A bin of spare belts is shown next.
This mill stone is no longer used because the water turbine that provided power to the mill has fallen into disrepair.
In 1918 the water turbine under the mill was connected to a dynamo to generate electricity and began supplying power for electric light bulbs to the town of Readyville even before the much larger nearby city of Murfreesboro, TN had electric lights.
Next  weekend  the mill will start a new chapter in its nearly 200 year history by opening a restaurant.  We plan to be there for their first pancake breakfast.
Tomorrow we are headed for a day trip to Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Night in Clarksville, TN

We left Lake Wappapello, MO this morning around 7:30 and headed toward Readyville, TN.  A little after 9:00 we made a planned stop at the Secretary of State Driver’s Facility in Cairo, IL where Sandy and I took our Non-Commercial CDL exam.  We both received our Class B license with flying colors. Oops.  We both had to take the written test twice.  But we both passed the driving test the first time.  Trixie was literally put out.  I had to put her in the Honda because the examiners will not ride in a vehicle with a dog in it -- except a service dog. 
The Non-Commercial CDL license is required in Illinois if your RV weighs more than 26,001 pounds.
The scary part was having to back up without one of us spotting for the other, but we did fine.
We purposefully chose the Cairo, IL facility because it is a very small, rural area and it was on our way to Tennessee.  [i]Side note:  Cairo is a town on the low down.  It is so sad to see a town fallen on hard times.  Burned out and abandoned buildings abound.  But the Secretary of State Drivers License facility staff was very friendly.  Not like the cantankerous ones near Chicago.[/i]
I was reminded today just how much I don’t like cold or cold,wet weather.   When we got to Clarksville, I had to change wiper blades on the motorhome in the rain and my fingers were like thumbs in five minutes.
We could not find a parking spot at WalMart so we followed the advice of good friend Gary Omel and parked at the nearby Sam's Club.  The lot is huge, was wide open and we were able to position ourselves for an easy out in the morning.
Tomorrow we will arrive in Readyville where we will be for about 10 days.
Stay tuned.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wappapello Lake in Southeast Missouri

We are at the Army Corp of Engineers People’s Creek Recreation Area on Wappapello Lake in Wappapello,MO.   Our campground is quite small with spaces for only 18 RVs.   When we arrived yesterday the site we had reserved on line was too sloped, too tight and too darn difficult to attempt to back into.  Fortunately, a really easy back-in site nearby had not been reserved.  We were able to take it.  Whew!  For our RVing readers: $10 a night with 50 amp full hook ups. 

We have a lake view.
The only road out is really steep and takes a sharp turn at the bottom.  It will be an exciting exit on Tuesday.
I liked the patterns in the water at sunset.
And I liked the sunset.
There is nothing around us.  This is a boating, fishing and hunting area.  But it is quiet and beautiful.  Suits us just fine.

Stay tuned

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Montana Fire Log

We were in Thompson Falls, MT for seven weeks this summer, and while we were there we noticed that the only supermarket in town was selling what was called a campfire in a log. 
My cousin’s husband, Jerry McDonald (a nicer guy you’ll never meet, by the way), decided that spending between $9.95 for the small and up to $17.95 for the large fire log was just plain nuts.  So he set out to make his own version.  After all, if there is one resource in plentiful supply in Thompson Falls, it is timber – followed closely by resourcefulness.
Jerry starts with a pine log and drills a hole down the center for about six inches.  Then he drills a horizontal hole from one side of the log go intersect with the hole drilled down the center.
Then Jerry would split a piece of kindling and prepare it for an application of pitch.  Note that the deer scat  remains in the photo as it lends a touch of authenticity.   We were in the woods.
Pitch naturally collects at the base of pine trees or below a removed limb.  Jerry harvests some with his hatchet.
The super sticky pitch gets applied to the splinter of kindling. 
Then we fast forward more than two months to this evening in Missouri and Sandy now lights  that piece of kindling and slides it into the horizontal opening. IMG_2468
An hour later the log is going strong.

More from Missouri soon.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Alongside the Arkansas River

We pulled out of Atlanta, TX this morning at 8:45 and headed toward Little Rock, AR.  It was a beautiful day for a drive with smooth roads and nice scenery.
You can’t help but notice the hi-tech sun shield around our notebook.  In its previous life it was the top to a box of copy paper from Office Depot. 

We are in a truly beautiful Army Corp of Engineers campground.  I have talked to three different campers here and each one says it is their favorite and they come here often.   The campground is  Maumelle AR/Murray Lock & Dam COE Park alongside of the Arkansas River.  (Note:  location added in response to a reader's request.)
We took a walk on this nice path through the camp ground. 
This is the camp host’s site.  I had to take a picture of the row of lights he made using small replicas of an RV illuminated from the back with a light bulb.  My RV readers will enjoy this photo.
We never get tired of looking at rivers or lakes.  This one is so serene.

There is not a lot of autumn foliage on display but it has been so long since we’ve seen any that this looks pretty good to us.

The other side of the river is so inviting.  We need a kayak. 

Here is our campground for today.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Some orthopedic work on Moose

About a month ago when we were in Jackson Hole, WY I broke one of our cardinal rules.  I attempted to back up the motorhome without my being able to see Sandy in the side view mirror.  And in the process I broke something else – the left rear end cap of the motorhome. A very large birch tree was in the way.   Ouch!
I won’t do that again.  If I can’t see Sandy, I am not moving. Period.
I had to craft an extension to the exhaust pipe to make sure the superheated gases from the turbo exhaust vented outside of the end cap on the long journey back to Texas.  Fortunately, we did not have to go much out of our way as we had to go through Texas on our way to Tennessee.
Thank goodness for insurance.  It was five numbers BEFORE the decimal point.  Most of the cost was due to the four different colors on the motorhome and the intricate design.  Some of the damage ran through every color.We just finished a two week stay at Xtreme Paint & Graphics in Nacogdoches where Moose was stitched back together better than new.  And then lots of paint and clear coat were added to the exterior. 
Now we are on our way to Readyville, TN where we will spend some time with good friends Gary Omel and Sandy Starlin.  While there we will do some minor maintenance and have fun.
More later.  Stay tuned.