Monday, December 3, 2012

Don and Gail Travel Update # 10

Hello to Family and Friends!

It’s been a long time since we’ve written and a lot of miles travelled.  We’ve so enjoyed visiting places  we’ve always read or heard about and experiencing them for ourselves.  Cumberland Gap is one of those places. It’s actually a natural break (one of only a few) in the Appalachian Mountains (which is pronounced the same as saying “throw an apple atcha”).  After discovery it was used as a thoroughfare by buffalo herds, Indians (Cherokee), white men and settlers alike.  Daniel Boone was the person who widened the animal & Indian trail to a rough road for the Lord Cumberland of England, in 1775.  It opened the way of settlement into what is called The Ohio Valley.  The Gap is at the tips and edges of four states, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. It is a most beautiful drive!  We slept in Virginia, ate meals out in Tennessee, hiked and enjoyed views in Kentucky, and did sight-seeing in North Carolina within a short space of time!  Below are pictures of the old, little town of Cumberland Gap, TN, nestled right in the middle of The Gap, once bustling but no longer.

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More pictures of The Gap and a bit of the original trace.  Thousands used this trail, many famous, two of which were Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their return to report their findings to President Jefferson in 1806.

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Then off southward to visit the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina,  another huge vista too hard to capture by camera.  Wonderful hiking, views, and discoveries about the famous Appalachian Trail, which runs diagonally from the tip of northern Alabama to the edge of Maine. Old cabins, wood and grist mills, and churches remain from the hardworking people who  lived there before the Park was established in these great mountains.

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A trip to Gatlinburg, and Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN, was one day’s outing.  One famous person from these hills is Dolly Parton. Below is an exact replica of the home in which she grew up.  Everyone we spoke to who lives and works anywhere around these two towns in Tennessee speaks warmly of Dolly and her generosity to fellow Tennesseans.  One interesting note: Dollywood originally started as Rebel Railroad in 1962, became Gold Rush Junction under the Herschen Family, Silver City, and then Dollywood when she purchased 50% ownership and lent her name and prestige to her beloved Tennessee 27 years ago. We truly enjoyed several top-notch shows and performances all based upon the true theme of Christmas~the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior.  We stayed for the lighting of Christmas lights, which truly was amazing~not a single place, twig, or spot missing a light!  Appalachian Lesson learned here: A study proved that Appalachian folk speak the closest to King’s English of anyone in America.  It’s just been streeeeetched out over several hundred years!

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On our way again one day, we stumbled across another famous birthplace.  With Davy and Daniel both now remembered, we were reliving Fess Parker’s old TV shows in our minds as we traveled along.  Bet you can hear those old show theme songs if you try!

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Stopping in Charlotte, North Carolina, for a short stay, we visited the site of the Billy Graham Library and boyhood Home.  What a great place to visit! Our hearts are truly thankful to God for men like him and his team who faithfully speak out the truth of the good news that GOD sent His Son to be the Savior of the world by dying in payment for our sins, was buried, and rose again so that we, too, can know Him.

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We also visited our daughter-in-law, Terrie’s, father who lives north of Charlotte in Lenoir.  We enjoyed our dinner and visit with Dennis McVerry so much!  Family is such a wonderful treasure.  We’ve been in Georgia for a week now in various places, visiting Civil War battlefields, both small and large, but very pivotal in the war.  Chattanooga ( bottom corner of TN) to Lookout Mountain for a day trip, Kennesaw Mountain and Pickett’s Mill, both northwest of Atlanta.  We walked our legs off, pondered much, and gave thanks to God who blessed this amazing country with Unity in the end.

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Above is looking off the edge of Lookout Mountain and the battle site on the steep cliffs.  The second is the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo that carried so many from Ohio to Chattanooga, TN. It can still be ridden today on special occasions.  We also visited Rock City on the Georgia side of Lookout Mountain.  It is a private residence and large garden built (1930-32)on an overlook facing Missionary Ridge on the Tennessee-Georgia border. The garden paths go over, under and through huge, naturally placed rocks.  The garden is beautiful and planted with a myriad of plants, shrubs, evergreens, and hard woods.  Dixie loved it!  Notice Don is “caught” in Fat Man Squeeze!  I’m sure I heard Dixie say, “What’s all the huff’n and puff’n? Hurry it up, guy, I’m ready to go!”

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Soooo…. “Pardon me, boys,…it’s the Chattanooga Choo Choo…..” or I should say our own little “choo choo” pushing on south to sunnier and warmer days of discovery.  Till the next chapter… and sending warm hugs to all,  Mom and Dad/ Don and Gail

Saturday, November 24, 2012

New Family Members for Dean and Terrie

Yes, this is a blog post about cats (so typical of cutsie blog posts). But hey, I am not afraid to admit I like Cats better than Dogs.

That said, Terrie and I would like to introduce everyone to our newest family members, Edna Mode

Edna Mode

…and Dude (No, not "Guest")!

NOTE: Click images for larger versions or go here to see more.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Don and Gail Travel Update #9


Hello Dear Family & Friends!

This news update covers several states and a number of miles. We’ve been quite busy, too.  The latest new John Deere tractor sits outside the Waterloo, Iowa,  tractor plant for all to see.  We were so delighted to take a tour on a tram pulled by a John Deere tractor, of course!  The entire tram was painted in John Deere colors which really made us seem  a real part of it all.  Sorry, these are the only pictures we could take there, since everything is quite protected from competitors.  They have numerous plants in a number of states and most are tourable.  This particular plant has more than 40 acres under one roof. The most expensive tractor there is  round $550,000. Anyone need one? 

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The next pics are of the Herbert Hoover house (our 31st president) known as a great engineer and a great humanitarian. He was born here and lived here for several of his early years.  He grew up thru his teen years with an uncle in Newberg, Ore, (!) after becoming an orphan. He made a wonderful mark on history during WWI and all his following years. New Branch, Iowa, is  picturesque and busy “small town USA”. His Presidential Library is very informative and well done.

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 We’ve really been into the Presidents lately!  These two pics above are in Springfield, Illinois.  We thoroughly enjoyed visiting all the Lincoln sights we could.  The first is the only home he and Mary ever owned. The tour was super, the home lovely, and contained more than 60% of their personal belongings.  They lived here during the years after becoming a successful attorney and statesman.  This is also the porch where he met the parades of people from Illinois and elsewhere that desired him to run for president.  The second pic is of his tomb, which is tourable, and very beautiful inside. All of his family but one son are buried here as well; son, Tad, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. We absolutely loved the Presidential Library there. So fun, so beautiful, and the two theaters terrific! (better than Disney!) 

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And then… we went to racing in Indianapolis, Indiana!  Don’s long-time dream of going to the Indy car races came true!  Well, not quite.  No race that day but still lots to see.  The building pictured above is the Racing Museum and sits in the Indy race track infield.  It is filled with famous race cars, trophies, memorabilia and shops.  Really worth seeing. If anyone is old enough to remember Parnelli Jones from back in the 50’s,60’s & 70’s, his personal collection, cars and all, are displayed there permanently.  Way back in his early years of racing, Don & I used to go see him race at Ascot Raceway in Torrance, and Gardena Race Track in Gardena, California, nearby where we grew up.

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Here we are driving the famous Indy Speedway! ! Yep, we did, one time round the entire track! Looks like we’re doing it in our motorhome, huh?  Pooh! We had to do it in a tour bus!

The second picture is our next race!  We were racing around the beautiful Churchill Downs Horse Racing Area in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.  Actually, just by car, for there was no place to stop, even for a second, due to activities of some sort taking place there that day.  Probably MUCH cheaper for us to just do a drive-by!    

While in Louisville we just had to tour the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum.  We really recommend this to everyone.  It was great to see. It still remains under the same family’s ownership and operation. The Hillerich family got their start in lathe turning of bed rails and spindles in 1855, and then into famous baseball bats when his son hand turned his first bat and gave it to a local player dubbed “The Louisville Slugger” by fans.  An interesting fact: During WWII they produced gun stocks for the army and also billyclubs for military police…..a very different kind of slugger.  Hillerich’s great grandson is the current CEO. The museum was hands- on with all the past and current baseball sluggers represented.  Very well done.

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Now, everyone’s going to start worrying about us by the looks of the next two pics.  We were right in the area known as the Bourbon Trail.  This is the area south of Louisville, Ky, where most of American bourbon is made.  This is the oldest and largest bourbon distillery in America.  We had to take a tour, and as you can see, Don got to bottle his own. Of course it would be his if he forked over the $37.50 for it.  We did do some sampling, and I’m happy to say, we’ll let someone else buy it.  One amazing fact I doubt I’ll ever forget: There are more barrels of bourbon aging in Kentucky than there are people in the entire state!

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So here we are at Mammoth Caves a little further south in Kentucky.  (An item on my “bucket list” is to see as many national parks as possible.)  We took the shortest tour available, (and quite scenic I might add,) since there are now 390 continuous miles of interlocking tunnels in this cave.  This is the largest known cave in the world. They fully expect to continue discovering new areas in the future.

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Last, (but certainly not least!) we were delighted to spend some time with a very dear niece, Chelsea Walker, living in Indianapolis, and  Minister to Children at a large and lovely church there.  We are so proud of her.

Sending love and hellos to all,

Mom & Dad, aka Don & Gail

Monday, October 29, 2012

Don and Gail Travel Update #8

Well, here we are in the middle of Iowa with the wind blowing and the sky raining. Not good driving conditions, so we will sit here for a few days. I am still looking for a good place for Dixie and I to pheasant hunt. Pheasants are scarce due to several years of harsh winters, spring flooding and then followed by several more years of drought conditions in summers.

While traveling through Idaho heading east we endured the smoke from many forest fires, especially going over historic Lolo Pass. It truly was intimidating to see fires burning low and close to the highway.

We had great fun “playing” music with our rock hammers at Ringing Rocks in Western Montana with our friends. Twinkle, Twinkle and Jingle Bells sounded splendid!

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We had a terrific re-visit to Mt. Rushmore (still in perfect pose) and Custer State Park even though temps were in the 20’s every morning. The many animals and fowl we viewed were lovely to see out and about during a snowy, cold day.

In eastern South Dakota we paid a visit to the actual Little House on the Prairie where Laura Ingalls grew up. It was a lovely place to visit with lots to see and experience. Old buildings restored to original condition and furnished with period pieces as well as some of the Ingalls family pieces, a farm planted and worked by neighboring farms, fields of prairie grass which is seldom seen nowadays, and hands on tools and machinery to try. The only thing missing were the Ingalls themselves (though now and again I expected to see Michael Langdon, himself, round the corner!).

And heading east again, we just happened to come across the “Ice Cream Capital of the World” in Le Mars, Iowa. I think Don must have had some sort of magnetism to the place, perhaps his “ice cream gene” at work again! Yep, we had to have a luscious sundae there before leaving! “Yum!”

In Iowa we entertained ourselves traveling the “Barn Quilt Trail” one cold and damp afternoon. We sleuthed out over 30 unique barn quilt designs in just one county that had a total of 60+ to see. Great fun to see and read about their origins, patterns, and the families, farms and buildings themselves. We have seen them in other states as well.

There’s lots more to share but it will have to wait for another time. Hoping all is well with each and everyone of you. We miss you all.

-Mom and Dad/Don and Gail