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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Historic Rugby, Tennessee

The weather cooperated with us really well today for our visit to Historic Rugby. It got to over 70 degrees!! Boy, was that nice. Anyway, it took us about an hour and half to get to Rugby from our campground. We took the scenic route instead of the highway. It's always fun to see the surrounding area. We almost missed Rugby as we drove by! It was not the "town" I thought it was going to be. I thought it was a fully functioning town. And although people do live there, there is no commerce, so to speak.

The town consists of the 26 remaining original buildings from the establishment of the town in 1880. Its founder, Thomas Hughes, came to America to found a town where second sons could come and work since that was not acceptable in England. Second sons had very little future in England at that time. Hughes' mother came over in 1881 along with his 18 year old niece, Emily. Mrs. Hughes lived in Rugby until her death in 1887.
Emily became very interested in photography and is responsible for many of the photographs found in the schoolhouse museum. The Episcopal church is still in used today. It is a beautifully kept building. The library is name for Thomas Hughes and was established a couple of years after the town, in 1882. The final picture I've posted here is of Hughes' home, named Kingstone Lisle.

There are other buildings in town that private owners have purchased to live as well as some that have been turned into Bed & Breakfast inns.

We also took a walk on one of the trails that leads down to the local river. We followed the trail to the "Gentlemen's Swimming Hole." Apparently, this was where the men in town would go to swim since it was taboo for men and women to sunbathe together back then. Let me tell you, it was quite a walk. Supposedly it was only .4 of a mile, but it seemed much longer - especially coming back up!!! Got my exercise for the day!

Just a little more history of our country. The more we travel, the more I am amazed at the widely varied history we have. And we are having so much fun learning about it!

When we got back to the campground today, we had a nice surprise. One of the couples from Ramblin' Pines checked in here this afternoon! Roger & Melissa lived at Ramblin' Pines since March. Randy & Roger played golf together a couple of times and Roger took over Randy's duties when we left. We had never met Melissa because she was still working full-time while they were there. We got caught up with them this evening. That was fun!

We leave Tennessee tomorrow morning to continue our journey to southern Alabama. We'll stop for the night tomorrow in Alpine, AL which is near Talledega. It's close enough to Birmingham that we'll be able to meet our friends, Dan & Debbie, for dinner. I'm excited about that! Seeing Dan & Debbie, I mean, not dinner. Although, dinner is always good, too! :) We'll get to Summerdale, our final destination for this trip, on Friday afternoon.

Until the next time . . . take care of one another. Drop us a line once in a while.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Museum of Appalachia

We spent a great day today at the Museum of Appalachia. It is a 40 acre facility that John Rice Irwin created to honor the people of Appalachia in the late 1700s, early 1800s. Mr. Irwin spent the last 40 years collecting all of the items found here. There are more than 35 buildings on the facility and all of them are actual buildings that were lived in, worked in, worshiped in, and farmed. They are not replicas, but were owned by various individuals and families who have since allowed Mr. Irwin to move them to his museum for others to appreciate.

As you enter the compound, the first thing you see is a farmhouse
that we weren't sure if it is still lived in or not and various livestock, cows, goats, sheep, and mules. The ram shown here was so camera happy! As soon as I got out of the truck, he ran over to the fence as if to say, "Take my picture!" Or he could have hoped I'd feed him. There are also chickens, peacocks and peahens on the land. One type of chicken I had never seen before - it was furry!! In addition to the pictures I've posted here, I have sooooooooo many more at our Webshots site. You really need to see those, too. I tried to give you a "virtual" tour of the place. That address is:

In addition to the buildings, he has collected tools, housewares, Native American artifacts, toys, the facade of a Post Office and inventory of a General Store. You can spend the entire day going through the Hall of Fame which houses so many of the collectibles and the Display Barn which holds even more of them. One of the neat displays in the Hall of Fame is the Sgt. York display. Apparently, the Sgt. York that was immortalized in the film with Gary Cooper, came from East Tennessee. Another of the amazing displays records the history of the music of this region. So many famous musicians and instruments came from here - Roy Acuff, Grandpa Jones, the Carter Family, just to name a few. And the instruments - dulcimers, mandolins, banjoes, guitars.

Some of the homes Mr. Irwin moved here are: one of Mark Twain's family homes (he never lived in this particular one); the cabin used in the TV show, "Young Dan'l Boone;" and the Arnwine Cabin. This cabin is the smallest structure to be listed on the National Historic Register. The last home pictured is the "homestead" house around which stood all of the buildings one family would use to function, i.e., privy, loom house, slave quarters, smokehouse, underground dairy, etc.

If you do go to the website to look at the rest of the pictures, know that I tried to order them as we saw them. As you have probably guessed, we really enjoyed this trip through Appalachia. It is amazing the work these people did with the primitive tools they had. And as one of the musicians on the site said, they didn't know they were poor, they just functioned as the only way they knew.

We are going to Rugby tomorrow. That is a Utopian town founded by Thomas Hughes, an Englishman who was a second son and therefore did not have an inheritance, so he came to America to "make his way." More history - I love it!

I hope you can find enjoyment in every day, too! Until the next time . . .

On Our Way South

Well, we left Maryland and family on Sunday and began our trip to southern Alabama. It's good that we leave from a campground and not from one of the kids' homes 'cause I'm not sure I could really leave if I had to be hugging on them as I got into the RV! It's hard enough to say good-bye the night before! It was a good visit, though, and we'll be back very soon - just three weeks!

On our way to our first night's stop in Natural Bridge, VA, we went through Harper's Ferry, WV.
I gotta tell you, the Potomac River at the MD/VA/WV never ceases to thrill me. Its power is overwhelming to me. I find it fascinating. Don't ask me why, but I do.

Natural Bridge, VA is right in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
We had a gorgeous view of them all the way down the road. They look so very different in their "winter coats" - I told Randy they almost seem hairy. I'm used to seeing them in their brilliant fall colors, but they are still beautiful to look at. We plan to take a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway next fall - I can't wait! That's gonna be an awesome trip!

Monday morning we set out for Tennessee and our next stop, Knoxville. We got to our campground, Raccoon Valley RV Park, around 2:30pm. This is one of our Escapees parks. I know you all just love that organization's name!! This is our first stay at this particular Escapees park. And it's very nice; a small park, but clean and level. Two very important characteristics for us. We will stay here for a few days, leaving Thursday for Alabama.

I hope to see a couple of historic sites while we are in Knoxville. One is a town called Rugby which is a little more than an hour north of here. It's called one of the Utopia towns that was founded by Englishmen who had no inheritance back home. From articles I've read, it looks interesting.

Another place I want to see is the Museum of Appalachia and it is just a few miles up the road. Some guy started collecting Appalachian stuff as a kid and kept it up and then, as an adult, began acquiring houses and tradesmen buildings and then set up a "town" on his property. I'm really looking forward to seeing it. Will take lots of pictures.

That's all for now. Looking forward to some warmer weather! Have discovered I don't like 30/40 degree weather and have become spoiled. hehehee Take care of each other. Until the next time . . .

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving - In More Ways Than One!

Wow! How is it that sometimes one day can feel like a week and a week can seem like just one day? That has been the case for us this last week - it seems like just one day! We arrived in Maryland last Sunday around noon. We took about an hour or so to set up the RV and then jumped back into the truck to head down to Columbia to see the kids. We just couldn't wait to hug Lindsay, Jason, Kevin and, oh yeah - that baby girl, Reagan! And we weren't disappointed, with one exception; we wouldn't see Kevin until the next day. And we never got to see Ginny and her family during this trip.

We spent the night with Lindsay and her family Sunday night.
We wanted to get in as much time as we could. It was so much fun to see Reagan perform all of the things she's learned, instead of just hearing about them. Of course, I might be just a little biased, but I think she's just about the cutest, smartest, most beautiful 14 month old on the planet! Randy thinks so, too!

Thanksgiving Day was great, too. Our niece, Lisa, hosted us and did a great job. We all ate too much, talked and laughed loud and long, and just enjoyed being together. I got a great picture of Randy and Kevin together. I think they are so handsome!

I must admit, as I looked around the room that day, there were more than a couple of times that I teared up with gratitude to God for the wonderful family He's blessed me with. Oh, we do get on each other's nerves at times, and we'll bicker and fume, but we are family. And for that, I am very grateful.

Tonight we are readying ourselves for the road once again. We're heading to southern Alabama where we'll hang out for a couple of weeks. Then, the RV is going into the shop for the time we'll be back in Maryland. We have so enjoyed being home and continue to be grateful for the lifestyle God has allowed us to have. It truly makes coming home even more fun.

Randy & I hope each of you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration and were able to connect with family and friends. But, remember - thanksgiving shouldn't be kept to just one day of the year, let's all try to be a little thankful every day. I know I'm going to.

Until the next time . . .

Monday, November 20, 2006

Leaving Myrtle Beach and Coming Home

We spent our last night at Myrtle Beach with Karen, our friend that we hadn't seen in several years. We spent the evening catching up on what we've been doing as well as our kids. It was like we had just been together last week rather than years. I guess it's like that when you share lots of good memories. We hope to keep in touch now that we've reconnected. This picture is of Karen and her youngest daughter, Katie. Aren't they beautiful!?!!

We took a couple of days to get home and pulled into Ramblin' Pines about noon on Sunday. Of course, I was in a hurry to get down to Lindsay's, so we hurriedly set up camp, ensured that the hoses were wrapped against the cold (not liking this 30 to 40 degree weather!!!) and headed down the road.

As we walked up to Lindsay's front door, it opened and all we heard were squeals of laughter!!
It was Reagan - and she seemed excited to see us. We're not sure if Lindsay hyped her up or what, but we didn't care. We were finally able to touch and hug on her. She has grown up a lot in the two months since we've seen her! More hair, running, talking, and just plain gorgeous. We spent last night with them just so we could get as much Reagan-time as possible. She is just too much fun.

Lindsay and Jason are doing great, too. They look wonderful and it was great to just hug Lindsay and been with her. He had to work late yesterday so we weren't able to see him until today, finally! He always looks taller to me when I've been away from him. He also was the recipient of a very loooonnng hug.

We're looking forward to getting lots of family time in this week - got lots to catch up on. Hope you are going to have a wonderful Thanksgiving and are able to take time to reflect on the many blessings in your lives!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Making New Friends & Catching Up with Old Ones

We got together with Ken & Lesley Trinkley yesterday as planned. Randy & I were a little wary of how the afternoon would go because it's always a little disconcerting to plan an afternoon with people you don't really know. What happens if we don't get along??? Well, I'm grateful to say, it was a wonderful afternoon!! We found out that we have lots of connections, other than Lesley & I having worked at the school system - actually that was the least of them! They had just recently camped at Ramblin' Pines, in June, and I had checked them in!!! Back in the late 80s, they had also rented their home to Dana & Karen Collett, our friends & pastor from Covenant Baptist Church! We spent many evenings in their home. Isn't that just too bizarre!?!?!! The four of us felt that we were truly meant to connect.

Ken & Lesley actually live in Conway, SC which is a few miles west of Myrtle Beach. They wanted to show us their town as it has a lot of history as well as a quaint ambiance. We took a walking tour through the town with Lesley as our guide. It is a lovely town, as promised! Many, many live oak trees ("live" because they stay green all year long) and lots of very old buildings and homes - many from the 1700s.
Conway sits on the Waccamaw River and was once the last stop on the river for the old sidewheel steamboats coming up the river.

After our tour of Conway, we went back to Ken & Lesley's home for tea. Lesley is British and they have tea each afternoon. We sat outside on their patio and watch the sun set over the pond their house overlooks. Such a great way to end the day! We look forward to seeing them again in our travels.

Another neat thing that came up in our talking about Ken & Lesley's renting to the Colletts was the reminder that Karen now lives in Myrtle Beach! I knew that, but had forgotten it until Lesley mentioned it. We got out the phone book and Lesley encouraged me to call her from their home. I did and left a message for Karen to call when she could. She returned my call later that evening and we made plans to meet on Friday evening. Randy & I are excited to catch up with her. It has been several years since we've seen her and Katie, her daughter. Our two families were very close at one time and have many fond memories so it will be nice to reconnect.

Sometimes we forget how God is always working in our lives - at least I do. And He cares about every aspect of my life. He's working "behind the scenes" every minute. Randy & I felt this very much in our meeting Ken & Lesley and the reconnection with Karen. It's a reminder that, as believers, we have "family" everywhere we go, we just don't always know who they are. We were fortunate to meet some new family in Myrtle Beach and look forward to seeing them again.

Take time to thank God for the blessings He's given you, and I'm sure there are many. Until the next time, I hope you feel His presence . . .

Monday, November 13, 2006

Historic Georgetown, SC

We had a great day exploring some of the historic sites in Georgetown which is about 50 miles south of Myrtle Beach. It was a perfect day to sightsee - the sun was bright and it wasn't too hot, around 70 degrees.

Georgetown is full of history as it is the third oldest city in South Carolina. It sits on the Sambit River and there's a short harbor walk along the river.
It's not prettiest view because of the iron factory, but it was still nice. There are lots of historic homes as well as churches within a five block radius of the town square - some from the 1700s. The houses were not very distinctive like we saw in San Antonio, but I did get a couple of pictures of the old churches. They were neat.

We went even further south of town and found a couple of plantation houses.
The first one we went to is Hampton Plantation. This was a rice growing plantation. I didn't know that rice was grown in the south back in the late 1600s, early 1700s! I always thought it was just a tobacco and cotton industry. Anyway, that's what was grown at Hampton. Lots and lots of rice fields, and although it is no longer being grown, the rice fields can be seen and are now full of reeds.

One of the cool facts is that there is a HUGE oak tree right in front of the main house and it is told that the plantation owner's wife didn't like the tree because it obscured the view of the house and was going to remove it. However, George Washington was visiting during this time and he liked the tree and asked her not to take it down. So, she didn't! This tree is so huge that there is a pole propping up one of its branches.

The second plantation we visited is Hopsewee Plantation. Its claim to fame is that the original owner, Thomas Lynch, Jr., was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The plantation sits right on the North Santee River. The house is still lived in and the owners allow tours. We just walked around the grounds.

I have read many books by authors Pat Conroy and Dorothea Benton Frank. They both write about this area, especially the Santee River. It was kinda neat finally seeing it as well as some other areas mentioned in their books; makes the books come alive.

Really nice day. It is a little humbling to walk the grounds of these plantations, knowing what a tough life the workers/slaves had. Looking around, it is amazing to me what the owners and their slaves were able to accomplish with the technology (or lack thereof) they had. We should have no complaints about the amenities and ease of life we enjoy!!

Just a few more days and we'll be on our way home! So looking forward to seeing the kids and the rest of the family. Hope all is well in your world. Take a look at the rest of the pictures from today on our Webshots website. Until the next time . . . take care of one another!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My Mother Always Told Me . . .

that you never know who you'll run into, so always be on your best behavior!

Well, that happened this morning. We went to church this morning at the campground and I saw a woman sitting toward the front of the room. I told Randy that she looked awfully familiar. Of course, he just shook his head 'cause he and the kids laugh at me because it seems I meet up with someone I know almost everywhere we go.

Anyway, I figured I'd speak to the woman after the service if I got a chance. And so it happened that I did.
I couldn't come up with her name, so I just went up to her and asked if she was from Maryland. She said yes and so I asked if she was from the Columbia area. Again, she said yes. I told her she looked so very familiar but I couldn't figure out from where. I asked is she ever worked for the Howard County School System and she said yes! We finally introduced ourselves, (Ken & Lesley Trinkley) but her name was not familiar at all! We talked a bit and decided we must have seen each other at meetings or even around the Columbia area since she lived in Kings Contrivance and we were in Stevens Forest (neighborhoods very close to one another).

We chatted a bit and, come to find out, she and her husband are now living in the Myrtle Beach area, having retired down here. They used to camp here at this campground and like it so much, they come to church here each Sunday.

I told her that Randy & I are enjoying this area and how we always look at each new area with an "eye" for settling down somewhere someday. We agreed that none of us miss Maryland winters and have no desire to live there again during them! They invited us to visit with them on Tuesday and explore their town. They actually live in Conway which is about 15 minutes west of Myrtle Beach. We made a date to get together on Tuesday afternoon. Then we're going to have "tea" at their house! Lesly is British, so this should be interesting! Who'd think we'd be getting a bit of British culture in South Carolina!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Myrtle Beach, SC

We're in Myrtle Beach! And we couldn't have asked for more perfect weather! We got here a little before 2pm on Friday afternoon and it was 75 degrees and sunny! It was an easy trip. We stopped overnight Thursday,in Aiken, SC which was about 4 hours from Atlanta and then got up Friday morning and came on to Myrtle Beach, another 3.5 hour drive. Of course I had to get a picture of another river - the Savannah River, as we drove into South Carolina.

We're staying at Lakewood Camping Resort. This is a Christian-owned campground and it was really neat to pull in and see a Scripture verse on the marquee! It is a HUGE complex. The office looks more like a four star hotel lobby (not that I've been in many four star hotels!) They have many oceanfront campsites but you still can't see the ocean 'cause the dunes hide it from view. You can hear it, though! Then they have many, many other campsites as well as park model villas for rent around the two lakes they have. There's also annual lease sites as well as a small mobile home part onsite. There are many activities planned even though it's the off season. Can't imagine what it's like during the summer.

Got up this morning and walked around part of the complex. Was lucky enough to get a couple of pictures of the sunrise on the beach.
Also saw some of the birds that call this home; cranes, herons, mallard ducks. So cool.

We are going exploring tomorrow. There are a couple of plantations for touring south of here - in Georgetown. Who knows what we'll find! But, we'll share it with you, I promise!

Take care of each other. Until the next time . . .

Monday, November 06, 2006


We got to Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. We were going to watch our nephew, Patrick's, playoff football game at 4pm. We left Birmingham around 8:15 that morning and, since it was only a 3 hour drive, we figured we had plenty of time. We even stopped at a Cracker Barrel on the way (imagine that!) and checked off another one on Randy's list. BUT, we didn't allow for the change from Central to Eastern time zone! So, we were actually an hour behind what we thought we'd be! We got to the campground around 2:15 and set up the RV just enough to get the electric & all going as well as settling Blackie so that we could get to Patrick's game on time.

It was fun seeing Patrick play in the game. And, they won, decisively! 26 to 0 and they go on to another playoff game next week. Was kinda glad when it was over, though, 'cause it was cold!!

Spent all day Sunday with Missy & the kids. Tara had to get back to Auburn early yesterday, but it was great that she came home just so she could see us. Really loved that! We're getting ready to go back over to Missy's this evening for dinner. Patrick had football practice tonight, so we'll be eating a little later than usual. I'm hoping to get a picture of the three of them so I can show you!

School's out tomorrow because of election day, so we'll be spending time with the kids tomorrow. Patrick wants his Uncle Randy to take him golfing and I think I'm taking MacKenzie out for lunch. Not sure what else we'll be doing.

We leave Atlanta on Thursday morning and head to Myrtle Beach. We'll take a couple of days to get there. Then, we'll be there for a week before heading home to MD for Thanksgiving.

Take care of each other! Until the next time . . .

Tara & Patrick, Atlanta

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Oak Mtn State Park, Birmingham

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Update on Birmingham

We have been enjoying our visit with Dan & Debbie. While Debbie has had to work this week, Dan took off to spend time with us. We've been very lazy, but did go a couple of places.

On Monday, Randy & I went to Oak Mountain State Park, which is just a few miles from Dan & Debbie's. While it was a nice park, we were a little disappointed because there were few walking trails and none right around the lake. We took a look around, let Blackie sniff here and there and then came home.

Tuesday, Dan, Randy & I went to downtown Birmingham. We wanted to visit the Museum of Art and the Alabama Museum of Radio History. The art museum was okay - it was a museum. There was one cool display of American history. A couple of well-known pictures and some not so well-known. Other exhibits were of Japanese, Chinese and European origin. Those were not so interesting, at least to me.

Then we were off to find the Radio History Museum. It was supposed to be located in the Alabama Power Headquarters. We found that building, but no one seemed to know what we were talking about. Finally, one security guard referred to the museum as the "archives" and had the receptionist call the person in charge so we could get in. Well, of course, that person was out of the office and there was no one else who could help us. We were flabbergasted. This was advertised on the Alabama Tourism website as a free museum, open to the public. We couldn't believe that we needed an "escort" to go through it. Well, needless to say, we never did get in to the museum or archives, or whatever.

So, we walked around the outside of the building to see if we could find another entrance, but there were only doors that had to be opened with a key card. As we were walking by one of the doors, an employee used his card to open it and Dan followed him in! I figured we were going to get arrested!! Randy & I went in, too, and there was the museum! But, it was only accessible by a key card as well. How frustrating!! So, we looked in the windows at some of the things, but it wasn't very satisfying.

There is a nice park area near the art museum that we walked through. It's in the square where City Hall and the county courthouse reside. There was a beautiful fountain there and I'm sure the gardens are gorgeous in the summer. I've got pictures on our Webshots website, if you're interested.

Unfortunately, once again, Blogger is not allowing me to upload pictures and I don't know what's happening with that. So, if you want to see pictures, you'll need to go to Webshots. I have e-mailed Blogger to tell them of the problem, we'll see what they say, if they respond.

May be going to Sloss Furnace tomorrow. It's also downtown and it's an old iron mill that you can tour. Could be interesting. Then, we'll leave Saturday morning and go to Atlanta to spend time with Randy's sister, Missy and kids.

Hope you take a look at the pictures. Take care until the next time . . .