Saturday, April 7, 2018

Heading home to Asheville part 2 - Alabama and Georgia

Cropwell, AL

We arrived in Cropwell, AL on St. Patrick's Day. This is the third time we have stayed at the Lakeside Landing RV & Marina. First time was March 2017, with beautiful weather and the second time was in December 2017 with 3" of snow, as we headed to Florida. This time, March 2018, the weather was chilly and rainy. We never unhooked the car so it was a quiet two night stop.
As the name suggests the park is right on the water which makes for nice morning dog walks. The majority of the park is full time residents, most are kept up pretty well. The sites for overnight are all pull through, gravel with a patch of grass and a picnic table. The WiFi is spotty and our Verizon signal was just okay this time. We paid $29.70 a night with our Good Sam discount.

Athens, AL

March 19, 2018 was moving day. We headed to Athens, AL for a four night stay. Northgate RV Travel Park was home.
It is a smaller park with all pull-through sites. Sites are gravel with grass and wider than normal. The park is well maintained and quiet, with an occasional train. We paid $30.00 a night with no discount.

They have a nice grass path that is perfect for running the dog off lead, walking all the way to the end, where you will find a creek, and back is a mile.

Florence and Muscle Shoals, AL are about an hour west of here. We explored them both back in May 2016, while staying in Tennessee. On that trip we stopped at the Singin' River Brewery in Florence and purchased one of their glasses that had Florence on it - Nancy's moms name. Well, that glass got broken along the way so we went back to get another one. Of course we enjoyed a glass of beer, had great conservation with the bartender and came home with not only glasses but our howler (half growler) filled with yummy beer.
We found this little park so we could walk Mielikki and it was perfect timing as a girl was there with her lab and the two of them had so much fun chasing each other around.

There is not much in Athens, but we did find a few roadside oddities. The Giant Boy stands outside a hardware store and as you can probably guess the Rocket is in the parking lot of a fireworks store.

Huntsville, also didn't have as much as we had expected, but it does have a few fun roadsides. There are also a number of Antebellum homes, the most in the entire state. All the homes are private residences and they do not do tours, but you can do a walking or driving tour and listen to a podcast while doing so.
They also have a Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt you can participate in and win a prize if you find them all. There is a brochure with hints that guide you all over town in search of the small bronze ducks. We found the one at the Visitor Center.

The Eggbeater Jesus, yes that is what locals call him is painted on a Baptist Church. He is being repaired at the moment.

The Giant Jukebox was great fun. As you walk past, it starts to play music.

One of the more interesting places we stopped at was the Dream Maker. It is a rock shop and massage center. The house it is in once belonged to Anne Clopton who was known as the "Cobweb Painter".
The closet she used as her art studio is still intact just as she left it. Many of her delicate paintings have deteriorated over time, but there are still a few left.

When she was 11-years old she read about a German artist who painted on the webs of spiders. She set out to learn how to do the same thing. With much patience and many years of practice she perfected the challenging process. She found out many years later that the German artist who inspired her had used a much stronger and sturdier web. After carefully collecting webs for a canvas she would delicately apply tiny dots of oil paint and then let it dry before she could continue her work, her pieces took up to 6 weeks to finish, some longer.
She started teaching in the Huntsville school system in 1894 at the age of 16. She taught Latin, art and math from 1921 - 1943 at the Joe Bradley High School. She formed the first Girl Scout troop in Alabama. After acquiring several war-surplus tents, she took her scouts on yearly camping trips, the first organized camping for girls in the state of Alabama. Anne was also the first women in her county to seek a place on the Board of Education.

In Hartselle, south of Athens we found a unique old billboard. Iron Man is over 100 years old. As the name suggests the roadside billboard is made of iron. He advertises "Vegacal Liver Tonic", one of several patent medicines whose high alcohol content made them popular in dry counties. Seems reasonable that a Liver Tonic would be high in alcohol!!

Heflin, AL 

Our three night stay in Heflin, AL started on March 23, 2018 and the Georgia-bama RV Park was home. Well, actually it is where Les stayed. Due to a family emergency we went our separate ways from Athens. Nancy headed north to Louisville, KY and Les and his co-pilot Mielikki continued on in the RV towards Asheville.
The RV Park was actually a gravel parking lot behind a gas station and a restaurant. WiFi was good and there were places for dog walking. The gravel site had full hook-ups and we paid $25.00 a night with our Passport America discount.
There is a cemetery across the street that made a great dog walking place. "Lumpkin" was a term of endearment that Les had for Nancy back in the day - don't ask why because we don't know.
While the trip to Louisville was for a family emergency - everyone will be okay.
The timing was perfect as Nancy got to see Lilly head off to her Junior Prom. She was so beautiful and has grown to be a smart and independent woman. Plus, we had a visit from a rabbit.
A friend of Lilly's brought him over to play.

Martin, GA

Sunset Camp in Martin, GA was the last stop before Asheville. Les arrived on March 26, 2018 and spent two nights. He forgot to get a picture but based on his description it is probably just as well. Think banjo music! There was no WiFi, the narrow site was dirt with full hook ups. We paid $25.00 a night with a military discount.  On his way to Asheville on March 28th he made a stop in Greenville, SC to pick up a new fender for our tow-dolly so when we leave Asheville our tow dolly shouldn't look so sad anymore. Both Nancy and Les landed in Asheville on the same day.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ You need to know how to do all the chores!
Like most RVer's we have our set "tasks" that each of us does when we take down for moving and then setting back up.
Les generally does the outside set up/take down and Nancy does the inside. As our last two stops of this trip prove, there are times when just one person needs to do it all. So, it is important that everyone knows what needs to be done. This really is a safety concern as well, because something not done correctly could cause some serious problems as you are driving down the road.
It not only is important for moving day but also any time. Back in November when Les was in the hospital Nancy needed to know how to empty the black and gray tanks, and fill the fresh water tank.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Road Home to Asheville - Part 1: Arkansas and Mississippi

Lake Village, AR

On March 11, 2018 we headed to Lake Village, AR and the Pecan Grove RV Park. Sadly all of the rain has turned many of the farm fields into lakes.

We stayed here back in February 2016 after diamond mining in Murfreesboro. The park is a mix of permanent residents and overnighters. As the name suggests it is a Pecan Grove and they sell shelled pecans in their gift shop. All of the sites are pull-throughs with full hook-ups and are about average width. Seeing we explored the area on our last visit we spent this time working on some projects and catching up on the blog.

We did venture out to do some grocery shopping in Greenville, MS, which is just across the Mississippi River, and made a stop at the Cypress Preserve Trail. The blog from last time has lots of pictures. It is a beautiful preserve with trails and wooden bridges that take you across the sloughs.

Nancy would love to have a house that looks like the Greenville Visitor Center.

As we crossed the Mississippi River we were so surprised to see how high the water is. It is working its way to the top of the berm which is close to a mile away from the river, and the grain elevator is already underwater.

Columbus, MS

Next travel day was on March 14, 2018.
We passed a Giant Cross in Winona, MS and it always makes us a little nervous when it appears we are driving into a fire. It was actually to the south quite a ways so we don't know what was burning.

We stayed three nights at the Island Road RV Park. This is a small, no frills, eight site park just minutes from downtown. The sites are all gravel back-ins. Plenty long enough for our rig, tow-dolly and parking the car. They are average width with the exception of Site #6 which we were in, it is nice and wide. There is no WiFi but our Verizon signal was good.
We paid $25.00 a night with no discounts.

Downtown Columbus has a number of shops and restaurants. It is also where you will find the Tennessee Williams Visitor Center. He was born here on March 26, 1911. He spent the first few years of his life living with his grandparents. His maternal Grandfather, Reverend Walter Dakin, was the rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.  Tennessee, along with his mother, Edwina and sister, Rose lived in this house for three years while his father traveled for business. Then the family moved to St. Louis.
This house was the church rectory and was moved a few blocks north to this location when the church expanded. It was originally white, the Historical Society was granted permission to use these colors as they were used during the time Tennessee lived here.
The house is furnished with period pieces, some of them from the family.

Top Left: Cross worn by his grandfather - Right: Dining Room
Bottom Left: Study or Parlor - Right: Period Dress 
Our visit there included a wonderful conversation with Carolyn, we hope we are remembering the name correctly. She shared some great historical stories with us and gave us lots of information of things to do.

One of the upstairs rooms has been turned into a library. The walls are lined with photos and a running tale of Tennessee's life. He was actually born Thomas Lanier Williams. When he went away to college in Iowa his southern accent earned him the nickname Tennessee and it stuck.

Top left picture is Tennessee as a toddler - right is him and his sister Rose, with their mother. He is 5-years old in the bottom right picture.

This stop turned out to be the cemetery tour stop. As you know we love old cemeteries and we found three in the area.
Two of them were in Aberdeen, which is about a half-hour north of Columbus.
The Old Aberdeen Cemetery is what we went in search of and once there we found another one right across the street.
It is believed the cemetery started in 1838 when Abel Pierson was buried on his friends property. No records of a public cemetery can be found until 1845. A number of the sculpted monuments in all three cemeteries were done by the Miller brothers, Richard and Cornelius from Columbus.
These two are father and son - Dr. George C. Heard and James Beattie Heard who passed away at only 14 days old. There was one other obelisk for the wife/mother, but there was nothing sculpted on hers.

Two of the more unique graves is what brought us here. The only tomb in the cemetery is for Mrs. Whitfield, who supposedly is buried sitting in her favorite rocking chair. The iron fence surrounding the tomb has Willow Trees with two lambs resting underneath it.

The other interesting tombstone is for Mary Points. She died in 1852 when her skirt caught on fire, and her husband ordered a carving of her in flames. Not sure that is how we would want to remember a loved one.

There is a fenced in area for the Confederate Dead. Many of the headstones are Unknown Soldiers.

Across the street is the Odd Fellows Resting Place. This is a much larger cemetery and still in use today.
We of course found angels of all sizes and shapes.

The Weeping Angel seems to sum up the feelings of the death of a loved one perfectly.
This was the first of two we found.

The Reynolds family had more than their share of loss. There is a large headstone for Morgian E. Reynolds, wife and mother. She died in December 1858, just months after her third child passed.
The three beautifully carved headstones are all young Reynolds children. Such heartache.

Walker was 13 months old when he died in June 1852
Talulah was 3 years old when she died in June 1856
Reuben Young was 3 months old when he died in June 1858

The Friendship Cemetery is in Columbus. It was founded in 1849 and is credited as the forerunner of  Decoration Day, or as we now call it Memorial Day. On April 25, 1866, four Columbus women decorated the graves of both the Confederate and Union soldiers with flowers.They felt bad for the families of the Union soldiers, not knowing what happened to their loved ones.
The impartiality of the women, all who lost Confederate family in the war was honored in a poem written by poet Frances White Finch, "The Blue and the Gray". During the towns Spring Pilgrimage, students in the high school honor program, pick a person from local history and research them and then become that person during the festival, performing in costume during the tour of the cemetery.

It is a rather poignant image as you look out across the rows of tombstones belonging to the soldiers. So many died that they needed two sections for all the graves.

There are 2,194 graves, the majority of them are unknown soldiers. Only 47 of the Confederate dead were identified until 1976 when a record book was found in the attic of the caretakers office. It listed grave numbers and names of 298 soldiers and one volunteer nurse. New headstones were put in place. There were 32 unknown Union Soldiers buried here, but in 1867 they were reinterred in the Corinth National Cemetery.

Once again, of course we found crosses, one that is a little different than normal. A tree stump and a cross together, and one very large one with an angel.

There were a number of other interesting ones.
We thought this tree would have been a Woodmen of America, but to our surprise it was not and it is for a women.
The outline of Miss Ann Bartee's plot is made from cement "logs".

There was another touching one for a small child. Jesus sitting with children is carved into the headstone.

This is also where we found the second Weeping Angel, or as it is sometimes called The Angel of Grief. It is draped over the headstone of Rev. Thomas Teasdale. He relocated here from Massachusetts and was the pastor of the First Baptist Church. The congregation was so deeply saddened when he passed they ordered the angel and stated that "When he died, even the angels cried."

Never intended for this blog to be comsumed by cemeteries but that's what happens when you find three wonderful old cemeteries to explore. So much history, heartbreak and even success is shared in them.

Next we head through Alabama and Georgia.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Clearing the tanks
Keeping our tanks, grey water and black water cleared is rather important. On a recent stop the sewer connection was so low into the ground that it was hard to attach our hose.
 It seems this is a common occurrence as there is a solution to this problem. This handy gadget helps to raise the connection so the hose sits where it should and empties without problems.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Texas ~ Tyler, Denton, Texarkanna


On February 27, 2018 we continued our trip to the Dallas area. As we crossed the Red River in Shreveport we could see the effects of all the rain the area has had. The river has broken the banks and flooded the park.

Tyler, TX
was a rest stop for us. We spent two nights at the Texas Rose RV Park.

The park has around 40 sites, some with permanent residents, most kept up pretty well. The overnight sights are pull-throughs and circle around a playground area. The sites are gravel and ours was not very level.
The park is quiet even though you are just off of I-20. The current owners have only owned it a short time and are working on improvements. They were building a bath house while we were there. There is a rec room with a pool table, foosball and other games and a continuous pot of coffee. We paid just $10.00 a night with their disabled Veterans policy. It's $20.00 a night with Passport America. The WiFi was okay as was our Verizon signal.


There is a road
there somewhere
March 1, 2018 is the day we hit Denton, TX, which is just north of Dallas and west of Plano where our great-nephews wedding took place. This trip also showed how much rain there has been as we passed many flooded roads.

The Destiny Dallas RV Resort is a large park with a number of snowbirds in residence. The park is very well maintained and they have a car-wash on site with a bay for RV's. We took advantage of that and washed both the car and the RV.

Our site was a gravel pull-through that was very level and had full-hook ups. It is a buddy site but nice and wide with trees so not right on top of our neighbor. WiFi was good and our Verizon signal was okay. The laundry room and bathrooms were very clean. There is a lot of road noise from I-35E.  We paid $41.20 a night with our Good Sam discount.

The happy couple surrounded by friends 

The wedding of Barrett Bryson and Emily Floch is what brought us here. Barrett, our great-nephew is from Dexter, MI and Emily is from Plano, TX. They met at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI and now are currently students at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

Friday night we attended the rehearsal dinner for Barrett and Emily. It was held at Urban Crust in Plano. Great food and great company.
Left: Uncle Tom and  Aunt Joan (Jay's sister) and Grandma (Fieke) and Grandpa (Jay) Bryson
Center: Mike Floch, Emily's dad, her Aunt Patty, Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Steve
Right: Emily's Aunts and Uncles - plus her mom Carol in the blue and Barrett's mom Jenn standing at the back  

Saturday, March 3, 2018 was the big day. The wedding and reception were held at Event1013 also in downtown Plano. It is a very cool old storefront building.
The room is divided into two sections. The front room is where the reception took place. The service was held in the back room, which was decorated with a living wall of beautiful orange Tigerlilys. Once the service was done the buffet was set up in here.

The service was beautiful. Emily's sister, Bethany Joy, officiated. We always like to watch the groom as the bride enters the room and Barrett didn't disappoint with his reaction. A beaming smile and a few tears showed his love for his new bride.

Meet Mr and Mrs Bryson

Barrett's sister Sophia was his Best-man and Anna Burch was Emily's Maid-of-Honor.
Robin Floch and Landon Stark were their attendants.

Our niece Jennifer -
happy mom of the Groom
It was a wonderful evening spent catching up with family and sharing in Barrett and Emily's joy

They had lots of personal touches, beautiful bouquets and a fun cupcake display with cranes as their cake-topper.

The gears with their initials is a design Barrett created when he proposed to Emily. Perfect back drop for their first dance.

After a shower of bubbles they road off into the
night to start their journey as husband and wife. 


Monday, March 5, 2018 we started our trip back to Asheville, NC. First of many stops was in Texarkanna, TX. Not to be confused with Texarkanna, AR.
We stayed at the Texarkanna RV Park and Event Center. There are two sections to the gated park, one for full time residents and one for short term, overnighters. The park is all gravel and well maintained.
Our site was very level and very narrow. If someone had been next to us there would not have been much room between our slide and theirs. Luckily no one used that spot while we were here. We had full hook ups. WiFi was good and our Verizon signal was just okay. There is some road noise but not bad. We paid $21.65 a night with our Passport America discount.

There is a pretty pond with some rather aggressive
geese, or at least from Nancy's perspective they were aggressive!

The state line runs right down the center of Texarkanna with Texas on one side and Arkansas on the other. In fact it runs right down the center of the State Line Post Office and Courthouse. 

Construction of this building was completed in 1933, replacing the original courthouse built in 1892. It houses not only a post office but the U.S. District Courts for Western Arkansas and Eastern Texas.

Other than the split building there is not much to either Texarkana, in fact not much of anything on the Arkansas side. In Texas there is the Ace Of Clubs House, which is a museum but was closed on the day we were here. The house has one rectangular wing and three octagonal wings, making it look like the ace of clubs. Legend has it that James Harris Draughon built it in 1885 after winning a large sum of money in a card game.
Picture from the Texas Museum collection 

We went in search of the 1894 City Market, which is supposed to have art galleries and artist studios, but the building is under major reconstruction and the only gallery left wasn't open.
The large wooden doors and little black cat seemed very welcoming but not on this day.

We did find this really cool train track art piece. We think it would make the perfect trellis.

Our next stop took us back to Simsboro, LA and then we have six more stops after that and we will be back in Asheville, NC.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
~ Rain, rain go away.
As you know from our last few blogs we have encountered lots and lots of rain. As you can imagine that does have a tendency to create condensation on the inside of our windows. Having it happen while staying in a campground can be annoying but having it happen to the windshield while driving is not only annoying it can be dangerous. Because of the size of the windows the defrosters don't always clear the whole thing. There have been times we have had to stop and clean off the windows.
RainX to the rescue. If it is raining on moving day, we clean the windows with this before pulling out and no more condensation.