Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tennessee - Athens

Athens, TN was our last stop of the second year. Our drive was mostly in the rain and it took us through Ashville, AL; except they are missing an "e". 

We arrived at the Overnighter RV Park on March 13, 2017. It is a small park and as the name suggests it is used mostly for a one night stop before moving on. 
The sites are just long enough for the tow dolly and parking the car and are about average width. There are some permanent residents but the park is fairly well maintained. There is a dog walking area and also a large field in the back for off the lead running. A few mornings where pretty chilly with frost and ice. 

It is also for sale if you have a desire to live in Athens, which is about an hour northeast of Chattanooga. We paid $23.45 a night with our Good Sam discount. WiFi was good and our Verizon signal was strong. 


We visited Chattanooga in April 2016 while staying in Crossville, TN, which was our first stop of the second year so it seems fitting we were back here again on the last stop. This time we were able to catch the things we missed the first time around. 
The Incline Railway was one.  

The rail-car takes you up the side of the hill and offers you amazing views through the glass roof and windows. 







As you go up the mountain you are riding backwards which is a rather odd feeling, and then going down you are of course facing forward at a very steep incline, which feels just as odd.

They use a pulley system to bring the trains up and down - that wheel doesn't look all that big!
The views from the observation deck are quite spectacular - you can see five states from here.



We traded favors with another couple - taking each others pictures. As you can tell from our coats it was a little chilly this day. 






Just three blocks away is Point Park. It is a National Park that commemorates the "Battle Over the Clouds." 
In November 1863 the Union Army won a series of battles around Chattanooga and drove the Confederate Army south into Georgia. 
There is a small museum that had a display of photos taken back in the 20's and 30's. As a photographer Nancy always finds it interesting to see the old photos and the equipment that was used. Wonder what they would think of us taking pictures with our phones!  



The rock formation from one of the pictures is still there, it is now fenced off so you can't climb on it any more but it is still standing. 





One of the other displays was of the hardtack that they ate - it's a wonder they could fight at all after eating that. 

The walkway around the museum is lined with plaques that explain the surrounding area that you are viewing. 

The views of the Tennessee River and Chattanooga with the mountains in the background were breathtaking. 










Athens is home to one of the Mayfield Plants.
This one is where the ice cream is made and packed. 












We took a tour and enjoyed a bowl of ice cream at the end. No pictures were allowed on the tour, but we did get one of us wearing our lovely hairnets.



While the weather was not the best during this stay we did get one fairly nice day for hiking. The Gardens of Sunshine Hollows is just north of downtown Athens and what a beautiful place. They have 20 acres of gardens and over 1,750 varieties of Iris, Roses, Hosta, Daylilies, Dahlias and Canna. You can order from their website as they ship to all 50 states. They also make an amazing fruitcake - Les doesn't even like fruitcake and loved this one. 
They have a wedding venue with ceremonies being held in the gardens or inside their banquet room. Reminded us of our daughters wedding that was held in a barn. 

There are also 8-miles of trails for hiking. The flowers were not blooming yet but we did get a sneak peak at some in the greenhouse. 






The trails take you past a small pond and up and down some hills. 






While most of the trail is still dormant from winter we did get to see some lush green color in the form of moss and ferns. 
It is pretty hard to miss the 50+ foot Cedar tree. It is 15 inches in diameter which is unusually large for a cedar in this area. Les looks pretty small in comparison. 

Of course Nancy found a few other interesting things to take pictures. The exploding cattail reminds us of Steve's niece Sydel and her amazing blonde curly hair. 







She swears there is a Sloth face in this old log and a dog face in the weed - what do you think? 


 Next up is home in Asheville for a nice two month stay. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!!!

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
~ While we try very hard to stay away from snow we can't always escape cold weather. When the temperature drops down below freezing there are a few precautions that we need to take.

1. Inside we use our propane heat instead of the electric heat. If it's below 38-degrees the outside of the furnace will freeze over which means we have no heat. Plus the floor stays warmer helping the pipes to not freeze. 
2. Outside we don't want our hose freezing and cracking so to prevent this from happening we cover it with insulation. You can pick it up at Lowes or Home Depot. It is easy to cut to the size needed. Les wraps it with twine to secure it in place. 
When it's down into the teens like it was at this stop we also disconnect from the water spout so that it does not freeze either - the owners are generally pretty happy when that doesn't happen. 


Friday, March 31, 2017

Alabama - Cropwell

Cropwell

Cropwell is just about a half-hour east of Birmingham, AL. We made our way there on March 6, 2017. Lakeside Landing and Marina was home for the week, it is a large (200+ sites) RV Park and Marina. They do not take reservations unless it is race weekend in Taladga which is about 20 miles away. 
 The park is quiet and the views of the lake are nice. Seeing it is a marina, there is a fair amount a traffic during the day using the boat ramp. The site was just long enough for the RV, tow-dolly and parking the car. 
They are about average width. WiFi was fair, Verizon signal was good. We paid $30.69 a night with our Good Sam discount.

There is a Camping World in Birmingham and whenever we get a chance we like to pop in and see if there is anything we just can't live without. Well, we took the very long and scenic route to get there in search of a few roadside oddities. 
Orr Park in Montevallo was worth every mile we drove.  In 1993 many trees in the park were damaged in a storm and were marked to be cut down. 










That is until artist Tim Tingle stepped in and requested permission to turn them into works of art. 
There are free standing carvings like the man and woman. Also ones that had fallen and are now snakes and alligators. Most are faces peeking out at you from the tree trunks. 


In Harpersville we found a Giant Copper Frog hanging out on the side of the road. 
We did learn something new while visiting the Sloss Furnaces. Birmingham was not here during the Civil War, there is no river that runs through town so it makes sense. The development of the Sloss Furnaces is what started the town of Birmingham and it is referred to as the "Magic City" due to its rapid growth from 1881 through 1920. It is also referred to as the "Pittsburgh of the South"



The furnaces have been quiet for many years, but instead of demolishing the buildings the city have turned them into a wonderful place to explore and learn about the history of the area. 

One of the buildings houses artist studios and there is also space for concerts and events. 
One of the reviews called it the mecca place for photographers and they sure got that right. 

We spent over 4-hours here and Nancy could easily spend a couple of days. 


The molds used to make the pig iron

You have access to most every building and room. They are filled with molds, gears and machinery. 
















Birmingham may not have been around during the Civil War but it is another important place in the Civil Rights Movement. We cannot help but to be humbled when we walk the path that so many people where hurt and killed on just for basic human rights. This is our third stop in Alabama, during our April 2016 stay we followed the Selma to Montgomery Trail


Kelly Ingram Park is downtown just across the street from the 16th Street Baptist Church. The entrance to the park has a memorial to the four young girls who were killed in the 1963 racially motivate bombing of the church. Such senseless hatred that is still happening today. 




The park was developed as a "Place of Revolution and Reconciliation" and to mark the struggle that went on here. 
There are sculptures of the attack dogs and the water canyons that were used on the protesters. These silent memorials speak in such loud voices. 



After leaving the Kelly Ingram Park we were heading to the Railroad Park at the south end of town. Our travels were stalled when we got tangled up in a car accident. A girl driving east bound ran a red light and hit the car next to us as we headed south through the intersection.
 Les swerved to avoid that car hitting us but she caught our front bumper. We were the fortunate ones as we had very little damage and our car was drive able. 
The other two not so much. No one was seriously hurt, the lady who was next to us has a few scratches and some burns from her airbag and we would imagine that all of them were a bit sore the next day. Thankfully the girls insurance will cover the cost of repairs and a rental for us.
We did make it to the Railroad Park just as the sun was getting ready to set. What a wonderful little place in the city. There are paved walking paths throughout the park and lots of benches and places to sit.









We love that so many downtown areas have created these wonderful spots amidst the hustle of the city.  The park was filled with walkers and joggers and people just relaxing at the end of the day. 



One day we drove to Tuscaloosa which was the original Capitol of Alabama from 1826 to 1846. It is the fifth largest city in the state and home to the University of Alabama. 

We visited the ruins of the old capitol building. They sit in a small park and are used for wedding ceremonies, pictures and events. When Montgomery became the capital the building housed a women's college until it burned down in 1923. 








 
We are finding more well preserved willow trees and this time one with two trees on it.  

Once again we found an old cemetery to explore. Greenwood Cemetery is the oldest surviving cemetery in Tuscaloosa. It has been in continuous use since prior to 1820. It is estimated that there are over 2,500 graves. Many of them were never marked and others the headstones have either disappeared, been moved after breaking, or have deteriorated so much you can not read them. 
We have seen many clasped or pointing hands but this is the first ones we have seen with chains. From research a broken chain represents the broken chain of life, but these particular ones have closed links - so more research is needed. 

On our last day in town we headed back into Birmingham to get pictures of the Story Teller Fountain and to check out a few breweries. 
We didn't know that it was race day. At first we thought it was a parade as everyone was dressed in green for St. Patrick's Day, and we passed more than one Leprechaun. 
They hold a race where you run from brewery to brewery and turn in your wristband for a pint of beer. We think this is a brilliant idea. 
Hop City Beer and Wine is one of the best wine and beer stores we have been in and they have over 50 beers on tap. We tried a few and bought a few. 

The Ghost Train Brewery is just around the corner so we stopped in there as well. 


Athens, Tennessee is the last stop before we hit Asheville. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Don't burn that table! 
This is a tip we learned from another RV'er, using a piece of tile under your grill. We have a small portable grill that we love to use for outdoor cooking. 
Sometimes we run into an issue with the picnic table being plastic or an open weaved top which make setting the grill down difficult and we run the risk of scorching the table. Also, it is surprising how many parks do not have tables so we set up our plastic one. 
A tile square solves the problem  of burning the table. We have a pizza stone that we used in our house and it now serves the same purpose as a tile. No more worries!