Think about this ... "be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Up, up and awaaaaay we went

So yesterday we left the tee shirt capital of the world (I swear it had to be).  Oh and by the way ... I forgot to mention in the "Tail of the Dragon" post (and by the way, Frank we didn't realize you had done the Tail of the Dragon) ... when we were done with our ride we headed the 50 miles back to the house.  When we got to Pigeon Forge (three miles south of where we were staying) we pulled into some restaurant - can't remember the name and it isn't important anyway - to have a cold beer and a cold vodka and soda - NOT, no way, no how .... no "hard liquor" in whatever the heck county we were in!  Man that stuff just blows me away ~ it infuriates me for any government entity to take it upon themselves to make decisions what I should do!

UGH .........

so we left the area absolutely delighted that I'd seen it, but the bottom line is "been there, done that".  If I ever return to the area it will not be to that county, nor would I spend any  more $$$ in that county.

Okay, so I'll try to get off my soapbox now and continue on with our travels yesterday.  The first two photos were, I believe, still in Tennessee along interstate 40 going somewhere between Sevierville, TN and Ashville, NC. I just loved not only the mountains, of course, but the clouds covering the tops of the mountains (Smoky Mountains that would be).

The tunnel photo is ... ummmm I don't remember, either TN, NC or SC (not much help there am I).  There were a couple tunnels along the way but this one, and perhaps the others but I only noticed this one, had this sign, not only "warning" you about the tunnel but hopefully you can enlarge it and see what it says under "tunnel" they feel the need (which is scary that there may be people that need the warning - to remove sunglasses ~ just cracked me up, which is why I guess I took the photo never mind posted it.  

Next we have a photo of an exit ramp somewhere along the way (DAH) perhaps North Carolina.  There were a few of these fields of cosmos (No Mary and Richie NOT your Grand - dog)  along exit ramps and they were so pretty.  They reminded me of my Mom because she always had bunches and bunches of cosmos in her "cutting gardens".  I haven't seen any in years and certainly never saw this many!  It was a nice trip down that lane called memory.

Just another scenic (hopefully) shot of somewhere in either TN or NC.  It was so gorgeous traveling through the Smokys and the clouds sort of added to it for me.  I don't know what is is with me and mountains  these are just beauties ~ so different from the mountains we traveled through when, I think, we first started the blog - the mountains in the west and southwest that are brown and red and rocks but no foliage ... they were beautiful in their own way, but I like these mountains much better.

A few posts ago I uploaded, I think, a couple photos of signs whose town names cracked me up ~ well here's two more.  I swear they are towns ~ Bat Cave (NC I think) and Cowpens (SC I am sure).  There is a battlefield in Cowpens that I thought perhaps Rick would like to tour ~ NOT.  Gee and he is the history fan among us, surely it isn't Arlo or me.

Now, as for our travel yesterday ~ we have gotten so good at disconnecting our hook ups and getting on the road by, usually9:00 AM (ish).  As I've said before we don't like to do more than 200 miles in any day.  The "plan" for yesterday was to travel 70 miles to Waynesville, NC and stay at an Elks Lodge there for a couple days then head to Rock Hill, SC for two weeks before coming over to Gaffney for the class and maintenance we are scheduled for at Frieghtliner the week of October 13.

Well remember we don't do real well with plans.  Pretty often as soon as we make a plan we change a plan.  Such was the case yesterday.  The day we got into Sevierville the transmission was acting "funky" so while we were there Rick added some oil and off we went yesterday.  Along about 30 miles prior to Waynesville, NC (remember that was our "destination" for the day) we made the decision to continue on to Gaffney and hope that Frieghtliner can get us in here sometime within the next couple days ~ although it doesn't really matter if it's two days or ten.  They do have 50 amp electric here and 20 or so "sites".   There is no water or sewer at the "sites" but there is water and a dump station available.  If they can't get us in I sure hope they can point us in the "proper" direction.

I think I did well not to stress too much with the "adventure" yesterday and jumped into a different mode of gathering diagnostic info, directions, and try like heck to be "logical"  and keep the iced coffee flowing and the oreos coming as we climbed the mountains ohhhhhh so slowly ~ I felt like we were the "Little Engine that Could" or I wanted to do a Fred Flintstone and put my feet through the floor boards and push ... "come on Bessy, you can do it" and she did ... it was a heck of a struggle for her but SHE DID IT!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Today's tail (not tale)

Darn Chester I wish you'd been with us.  Today we road "Tail of the Dragon" a "major" motorcycle ride on the Tennessee/North Carolina border.  Its claim to fame is 318 curves in 11 miles.  It is true - lots of curves and switchbacks.  I was, of course, a nervous wreck at the thought of it - it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd made it out to be - go slow and easy and it was fine!  In fact we had to do it twice or take the very long route which would have added another 150 miles on our already 125 mile day - much too long for Arlo to have been in the house without a walk, pee or play time!

The photo above is at the 0 mile marker (sort of like Key West, but different!).  This was the southern end of the dragon.  Our first trip was north to south.

The photo below was at the beginning of the Foothills Parkway which is an 18 mile road on National Park land (a "scenic road") which we took to get to the Tail of the Dragon (route 129).  This parkway was absolutely gorgeous with many turn outs - all of the photos below are taken along this beautiful drive.  

It was a bit chilly.  We left around noon and it was low 60's.  We both had our denims jackets on and I sure wish I'd worn my leather ~ silly me.
The photo below was the first stop we made on the Parkway.  It is overlooking the Smoky Mountains way off in the distance.  It was such a clear beautiful day, just cooler than I wanted.
I take it back - the photo below was not taken on the Parkway.  It was taken from about mile 3 of the Tail of the Dragon.  It is over looking a dam whose name I don't know (oops sorry).  But how about those mountains aren't they outstandingly gorgeous?
The photo below is on the parkway overlooking the town of Marysville (TN) I believe.  This was taken on our return.

That's it for our adventure for today.  Tomorrow it is suppose to rain and we are out of here on Saturday morning.  Not really by choice.  This morning I went to extend our stay here by three days and was told we had to be off the site Saturday morning - someone had reserved it.  Wish they'd told us that when we checked in and told them we would likely be extending ~ oh well ... guess it means it really was time for us to go huh!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yes Chad, it's fall!

Chad sent me a photo today - a leaf that had fallen on his sun roof - to show me that it is fall in East Boston (or there abouts) ... fall is here in Sevierville, TN also ~ three red (ish) trees in the campground must count for something yes?  And if Tracey has a chrysanthemum amongst the flamingos then perhaps it is fall wherever I am too?  As well as a pumpkin on the table.  Man, I love fall.  Well, as I mentioned yesterday, the nights feel like fall here, the days are 80 ish but the nights are terrific sleeping weather.  As you can see in the photo below we have some "firewood" so perhaps tonight will be a campfire night (if Sir doesn't gnaw on all of it and Rick and I can stay awake long enough).  Thought we'd have one last night but that didn't quite happen!
Today Rick and I got the motorcycles out and went to Gatlinburg.  I'm telling you I can not believe how many tee shirt stores and fast food restaurants and basic junk can be put in a 15 mile stretch!  As we were sitting at yet another traffic light I asked Rick if he thought people really buy all this crap!  How on earth can an area support all this?  

We went through a bit of the Smoky Mountain National Park (photos above and below) then turned off the roadway there into Gatlinburg, which was just as loaded with tee shirts, fudge and assorted junk.  There was an Elks Lodge there (unfortunately we did not do photos at the Lodge).  A very friendly, welcoming group there today.  One of the advantages of visiting all these lodges is the locals can tell you about out of the way roads (without tee shirt shops!) and local restaurants etc. ~ things we much prefer.  So we had a much better ride home - longer distance but much nicer riding.  We stopped at a restaurant on the way that the Lodge folks told us about.  It is owned by  a guy from South Boston so of course we had to go.  Unfortunately the owner had just left (to go into town to the Lodge!) so we didn't get to chat with him.  After we left there I proceeded to get us "lost" (remember though ... all who wander are not lost) but we sure had fun.... sometimes it is fun to get lost!

Yesterday I mentioned that I was going to try to teach Arlo how to run along side me while I'm on my bicycle - he is doing so good and we (well I) am having fun with it .... we went out a couple times yesterday and three times today... poor guy needs a heck of a nap when we get home from these jaunts and we only go around the campground - probably not even 1/2 mile ... yup we're all out of shape around here!   The only issue I've had with it is that I need him to be on my right side but dog training when walking etc. requires the dog to be on the persons left so he was a bit confused with that logic but I think by the third time I got on the bike he understood where he needed to be .... and he does seem anxious to go (dah Arlo is always anxious to go go go wherever his people are going)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday morning

Yesterday we left the Nashville area and traveled to Sevierville which is about 15 miles south east of Knoxville.  I think we'll be here for close to a week as this is a nice (although big) campground, very nice and quiet and we are in the foothills (I am pretty sure) of the Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains, a couple pictures (windshield bugs included) here.

We didn't have the most pleasant travel day yesterday.  Apparently there had been a major accident over the weekend on the freeway just outside Nashville (gosh we had fun there) and the east bound section of the highway was totally closed so the powers that be could do an "accident investigation" so we lost an hour there.  But I guess it could have been worse at least we had our bathroom and could make sandwiches etc...  When we got going again we started getting into higher elevations with winds.  It was a looooong day (we did about 230 miles come on! our limit is 200 so of course it was a long day).  

It was 80 ish degrees here yesterday and was 56 degrees when Sir and I went for our first walk this morning so it is great sleeping weather and it appears that this is how it will be for the rest of the week!  Terrific riding and playing weather.  Although I would like to see some fall foliage soon, there were a few and I mean a few trees turning off in the distance as we traveled the higher elevations yesterday.  So today we will start by unloading the car and the bikes.  I hope to try like heck to teach Arlo how to run along side my bicycle, with lots of help from Rick hopefully we can succeed.  Rick is a far far better trainer than I ~ I think it is because he has the patience (perhaps of a saint!) ... after all he's dealt with me for all these years!  Since it's nice and quiet and uncrowded here I think it's a good place to start.  Stay tuned on that one!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It was such a Grand time

Oh it was such a GRAND time at the Grand Ole Opry.  I had no idea I would have so much fun there.

The Opry Building is surrounded by a HUGE mall (of course!) that appeared to be "high end". We had dinner there at Romano's Macaroni Grill (thank you very much Chad) and boy was it great. We had never eaten there - mainly because I had this vision of elbow macaroni with whatever kind of sauce you wanted and that was it ~ WRONG.  Rick had chicken marcella ravioli and I had a huge hunk of halibut ~ oh so good.

So back to the Opry post.  I, of course, had no idea what to expect.  In my mind the Grand Ole Opry is Minnie Pearl with the foolish hat and price tag - not all that an appealing vision of how I wanted to spend a Saturday evening.   But the logic of "when in Nashville" came to view so if we were here we really had to go!  Let me say, there were no Minnie Pearl wanna be's or anything close to her there.  And, much to my surprise the entire show was not all "country" music.

Here is the line up for last night:
  • Jimmy Dickens
  • Jimmy C. Newman
  • The Whites (in the photo above)
  • Alan Jackson
  • Jim Ed Brown w/Helen Cornelius
  • Darius Rucker
  • Little Big Town
  • Jean Shepard
  • Jack Green
  • Katy Mattea
  • Opry Square Dancers
  • Riders In the Sky
  • Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X-Press
  • Charlie Daniels Band
Of course we'd never heard of 3/4 of that list but it certainly was a nice mix.  As usual, the photos aren't great but here they are anyway.  Another thing of note here ~ at most concerts (and even Graceland) you aren't allowed to take flash photos but that wasn't the case at the Opry ~ my interpretation, for what it's worth, was that "they" were glad you were there and wanted you to be as "comfortable" as possible so there was not a three page list of things that were not allowed (nice concept isn't it!).

Alan Jackson is to the right ... another thing about photos there - you could go right down to the stage and take as many photos as you wanted during the performances - as long as you didn't stand up and block the seats behind you - so if you could kneel down and take pictures it was perfect (my knees, however, got quite a work out but it was most definitely worth it)


Probably my least favorite performance was "Little Big Town" (to the right).  I had heard the name but was unfamiliar with them - how they fit into the country genre is beyond me, but apparently they just won a CMA for something (or were nominated for one).  Oh well to each his own for sure

Next was Kathy Mattea - awesome, just awesome.  I was familiar with her somewhat because of my love of "folk" music.  I believe my two sisters just saw her in Stowe, VT (or was that the concert that was outside in the pouring rain Candy/Kim?)  Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed her.

Next was "Riders In the Sky" who I was also unfamiliar with but Rick knew of them and was looking forward to seeing them - they were great and very funny. 

Another of the "neat" things about the Opry was it was a two hour performance, divided into four "segments" but the entire thing just moved along so smoothly - not like when you are at a concert and the opening act plays for 30 minutes then there is a 30 minute break before the "headliner" comes on stage ... this went from one "act" to the next in less than 30 seconds ...  and between the four segments the curtain would go down and two minutes later the curtain would rise and the next segment would begin.

The photo to the right is Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X-Press.  A terrific blue grass performance.  God I love this Tennessee we've seen - every part that we've been to has just been great, warm, welcoming, relaxing and just FUN.  It is so interesting to me that some areas just want you there and others (Utah?!?) just would prefer you be elsewhere (which as we all no, is just the way it will be with me and Utah in the future!)

Last for the evening was Charlie Daniels.  Of course, he was great and has "aged" nicely.  I can remember when he would be at the South Shore Music Circus year after year - I wonder if he still gets there these days!

We didn't get a photo of Darius Rucker (Hootie and the Blowfish fame) but I enjoyed him also.

We had talked about going down to the Titans Stadium today to get some tickets and see them play (I've never been to a pro football game).   Well I decided I'd rather watch the Patriots and see how Matt Cassel was going to do - yeah well remember because of the great shade trees here we don't have our satellite coverage?  Well I also assumed (yup silly Tracey) that because the Titans play 10 miles down the road that there game would be blacked out here so of course CBS would televise the Patriots - wrong .... we are watching the Titans on TV and Rick is on his phone "watching" the Patriots in a pickle at the moment!  UGH ..... we may end up out somewhere cause I want to see the Patriots - which brings back memories of the Patriots game we watched in Ocala, FL at Hooters (which is probably where we'll end up today and neither of us is a Hooters fan but they do have NFL games) - remember that Hooters game Chester and those nasty, gross, disgusting wings we had ..... oh god the thought of it!

Well I think we are out of here tomorrow morning, although I can't seem to line up a place to land tomorrow so we shall see!

In the meantime ............ Happy Trails to YOU

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I hear music, sweet sweet music

The other day (when we were still in Memphis!) Rick went to Sun Studios - where Elvis recorded his first record ~ this is another of Memphis' claims to fame.  
Above is the microphone he (Elvis not Rick) used and below is the studio itself ~

And another view of the studio.  The "x" on the floor is where Elvis stood to record.
Above is the reception area in the original Sun Studio and below is the door Elvis walked through the first time he came to Sun to record a record for his mother's birthday.

Now we are outside Nashville.  The campground we are at has music every Thursday night and this past Thursday was blue grass music by the group below - it was just terrific.  I've gotta say I never in my wildest imagination thought I'd be in Tennessee listening to live blue grass!  I'm not sure why Tennessee has so many genres but boy I love it - Blues in the Memphis area country and blue grass in the Nashville area.
Last night we went into Nashville for a while.  We got in there around 7:30 and it was not crowded but by the time we left around 10:00 the places were packed.  Lots of "cowboys" wearing cowboy hats for you Moelicious.

Great guitar pick sign isn't it!  

And tonight we are going to ???????  

You got it The Grand Ole Opry!  Really looking forward to that ~ how can we be in Nashville and not go there?

Tennessee has been having huge gas issues the last few days with long long (like 5 blocks) lines and stations running out of gas.  It is so reminiscent of the 1970's and something I really never thought I'd see again in my lifetime!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The people, the people the people

How many times have I said one of the best parts of this traveling is the people.  Well last night was another one of those nights that just blew us away.

We had been at the local Elks to see if they had RV facilities (we just arrived here yesterday and aren't particularly thrilled with where we're at).  We stayed there for an hour or so then headed home but I, once again, needed food (gee I wonder why I've put on so much weight!)  So we stopped at TGI Friday ~ never one of Rick's favorite places but it was there and so were we.  The place was empty .... only one other customer. 

Of course, as usual, we got yapping with the bartender.  

Casey (the cutie above) just celebrated her first wedding anniversary.  Unfortunately her husband wasn't here in TN to celebrate with her - he is on his 8th deployment to Iraq.  He celebrated by sending Casey 365 roses ~ can you imagine what 365 roses might look like!!!  He will be home November 20 for a couple months - do you think they are counting the days!

Anyway, Rick and I were just so impressed with Casey.  She is 25 has her master's degree in micro biology but decided after a year that she hated her chosen field (DNA research for prosecuting attorneys so she often had to testify in court).  She is back to school studying for her doctorate in dermatology or acute care medicine.   She does volunteer work for meals on wheels not to mention her job at Fridays.  She had studied at UMass Medical Center in Worcester recently and saw a Red Sox game from the Green Monster seats (people would give their eye teeth for those seats)!!  She was just a sweetheart, with so much energy,  so much "on the ball" just a terrific kid and a pleasure to have met!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Duck, duck no goose

Yesterday we saw the Peabody Ducks!  I've wanted to see them since I can't remember how long and it was worth the wait!  Not only were the ducks fun but the hotel was as impressive as I've read.
Below is Jason, the Duckmaster getting ready to roll out the red carpet for the ducks.  Talk about having a great job!
Here are four of the five heading down the duck stairs to their red carpet (one of them decided to fly to the red carpet rather than take the duck steps - silly duck!)
and the five of them headed to their elevator to go to their duck palace for the night.  They will, however be back to "work" at 11:00 this morning.

After seeing the ducks we went down the street to enjoy some Memphis barbecue.  We had asked many many people what was the best local barbecue and were most often told Rendezvous but that it was hard to find - down an alley.  Well it was outstanding and yes, it is down an alley but worth the effort to find it!

Today we have to start the "packing up" process as we leave here tomorrow - unfortunately.  We've extended our stay three times already but our site is reserved as part of a group coming in tomorrow so sadly we will leave.  Onward to a new adventure!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Oh what a day .......

Oh, welcome to Graceland!  It wasn't nearly as tacky and "hokie" as I had hoped ... in fact it wasn't like anything I had anticipated (although things rarely are what I have envisioned but that may be a post for a different time!).  Above are the gates at the entrance ... but the only way (I think) to get beyond these gates is to pay the admission across the street at the admission office center where of course there are several souvenir shops - one for kids (sorry Connor no hound dog tee shirts) one for I don't know maybe adults and one very large one for whatever else there could possibly be that doesn't quite work in the other souvenir shops.  Oh and of course they were "official merchandise" but there were, naturally, many many unofficial (who knew) souvenir shops on Elvis Presley Boulevard (seriously folks)

Obviously, the photo above is the mansion, from the front lawn (but not as far away as being on Elvis Presley Boulevard, you have to go through the gates and up the hill to get to this point!) 

Below is our official, tourist photo outside the "mansion".  You know, I tried to pick out my tackiest outfit for the day and the best I could do was my sequined flamingo tank top which hardly was appropriate for a trip to Graceland but I didn't (and still don't) have any sequined Elvis shirts - shame on me huh - I should have planned better than that!  Well in my defense, this Memphis trip was an after thought to say the least but I sure am glad we took this "detour".

 I am sort of out of order with these photos so please oh please bear with me!  Below is the "Lisa Marie" jet of Elvis's - this is, of course, a separate admission from just the mansion.  I believe to tour the jet you had to purchase the platinum package which was in the vicinity of $70 bucks .... I will digress here for a moment ~ when Rick was in line to purchase our tickets for the tour we did (which by the way, was a "self guided" tour with one of those audio things hanging from your neck and the dorky earphone things) there was a young (30 ish years old) with the mother of one part of the couple, whom they were obviously taking to fulfill her life long dream of visiting Graceland.  They bought tickets for the super, duper all inclusive mega tour which apparently included a photo pin of some sort of the "king" himself.  Well they handed Mom the pin, which she proceeded to kiss!  Oh boy, we knew they'd be there but there were far fewer of "them" than we had figured there to be. 
Alright, we shall start the tour now ... below is the living room, which is the first room on the right as you enter the "mansion".  Keep in mind the era of this Mansion - what 1970's.  There is a fireplace - well one of those fake jobs to the left of the doorway we are in and the white sofa to the right is 15 feet long!
Below is the dining room, nothing really outstanding ~ in fact sort of small.  In fact the entire place was so (in my opinion of course) unpretentious, not at all over the edge like I expected.
Then we move on to the kitchen below.  The kitchen was probably the biggest surprise to me - I was amazed at how small it was - I only post this picture because of the avocado sink, which certainly was true to the times wasn't it, but surprisingly the appliances were not avocado (or pink or turquoise!).  Our kitchen at the house in Whitman was larger than this kitchen - go figure...
The photo below was one of the rooms in the "basement" area - I post it because the walls and ceiling were all fabric covered (which I think may have been a thing of the times if you could afford it).  The tour did tell us how many yards of fabric it entailed but I can't remember.  Lucy, I sure thought of you with this room - girl, that would have done a whole lot of quilts!  

The pool table had a tear in the felt in one corner - thought of you Jon (although if anyone in the Peck family put tears in your pool table it was probably me (when I wasn't throwing darts at you) - not you).
And below is a room on the first level, behind the kitchen (by the way, the entire second floor was off limits to any tour as it was the "kings" private quarters).  Below was the "jungle room" which was probably pretty "over the edge" in the 70's ... the only part that was weird to me was the plastic plants at the water fall feature shown.
Now, are you sure you're ready for this one????  Below is Lisa Marie's swing set ... kind of a "disappointment" and pretty darned ordinary huh!  I am sure that Ms Lisa Marie loved it however!
Now you know this tour wouldn't be complete without the following few photos of the "Meditation Garden" area - oh dear I sure expected some sights here.  I guess I was not surprised by anything that was there - in fact I was disappointed that there was only one person dressed in Elvis attire while we were there (I did just try to include it in hind sight but to no avail but trust me here, he was a real trip!) ~ the grounds crew does get rid the stuff that is left here (tossing it or other wise disposing of it, daily)  ....... but the tacky plastic flower wreaths and stuff just really blew me away - there were about a dozen or so of them, sort of outside the meditation area - like in one of the driveways.  "Elvis Week" was only three weeks ago so maybe (although I surely doubt it) that is why there was so many of them ..
Oh what a day it was ~ I would never, in my wildest dreams, have imagined that at any time in my life I would tour Graceland!!!  Son of a gun ...

But Chester, I had to include the one below as it is from the Jacksonville, FL fan club and I wondered if you were involved, in any way, with that?  Good lord, there were wreaths from Germany and Japan ... who knew!  Can you imagine being here during Elvis Week - oh lord think about what would come out of the wood work that week!  I bet they'd be tackier than my wildest imagination!  Darn, we should plan better next time to include that week!