Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Catching Up!

I left off writing with us parked in Elkhart Campground, Elkhart, Indiana. We spent three days there while we visited the RV Hall of Fame, saw the Elkhart carpet of mums (as in chrysanthemums), and toured the New York Central Railroad Museum.
Elkhart, IN, Carpet of Mums
Marching Band Sculptures, Elkhart, IN
The New York Central Railroad Museum, Elkhart, IN
Leaving Elkhart, we headed back to Wisconsin and Hidden Valley RV Resort in Newville. We had to take care of such mundane things as a doctor's appointment, a visit to the dentist, a haircut, family/friend visits and birthdays, and a couple of Red Cross activities.

I haven't said much about it, but Mary and I are volunteers with the American Red Cross, Western Wisconsin Region/Badger Chapter. We are members of a DAT (Disaster Action Team) helping families and individuals who have experienced such tragedies as home fires and wind storms. We are also part of the DSHR system (Disaster Support Human Resources) which could see us deployed to national-level disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. So far, however, our travel schedule and commitments have not worked to allow us to accept deployments so we're still novices. We are also part of a RV-based group of Red Cross volunteers called the DOVES (Disaster Operations Volunteers Escapees [with the Escapees being an RV club to which we belong]). While we were in Wisconsin, we spent several days at a Red Cross training conference. That's where we got to spend our 33rd wedding anniversary on October 20!

We left our RV parked at Hidden Valley Resort while we drove up to Green Bay to visit Mary's sister, Kitty, and then went to Oshkosh for the Red Cross training conference. After Oshkosh, we returned to Newville for a couple of nights and then we headed south.

Our first night out, we stopped in Cerro Gordo, Illinois, at Tom and Carol's RV Park. This was a tiny (maybe six spaces) park but it was a fun stop and, if our travels put us back in Cerro Gordo, we'd stop there again.

From Cerro Gordo, we drove on to Nashville, Tennessee, where we spent two weeks at the Two Rivers Campground near Opryland. Two Rivers is strategically located to let us be tourists in the Nashville area and to visit family in Murfreesboro.

We took a hike at Long Hunter State Park at Percy Priest Lake, seeing the wildlife and just enjoying being in the woods. 

Wild Turkeys, Long Hunter State Park, TN
Heron, Long Hunter State Park, TN
Heron, Long Hunter State Park, TN
We visited Opry Mills (a couple of times), a massive shopping complex built where the Opryland Amusement Park used to be located. We wandered around the grounds of the Grand Ole Opry compound including the Opryland Hotel and it's internal botanical world. 

In front of the Grond Ole Opry House
We also went downtown in Nashville and saw some of the sights such as Printer's Alley, Broadway and the country music venues, the Tennessee State Museum, and attempted to see the state capitol building. It was closed for renovation and we couldn't even get on the grounds. Maybe they don't use the capitol building for anything significant, but it sure felt like Tennessee was trying to discourage its citizens from coming to their center of government. 

Tennessee State Capitol
The sign that greeted us at the Tennessee State Capitol
One of the real highlights was a drive out to the Radnor Lake State Natural Area where we took a 6.5 mile hike through the woods and around the lake, looking at the historical and natural sights of the area. Radnor Lake used to supply all the water needed by the L & N Railroad's Radnor Yards but since there are no longer steam engines needing huge amounts of water the lake is now a beautiful natural area. Thanks to cousin Barry for suggesting this side trip for us!

Deer in the Wood, Radnor Lake
Turtles Sunning on Logs at Radnor Lake
Radnor Lake
Turtles and Goose at Radnor Lake
One Sunday evening, we got together with cousin Clark Kirsch and his wife, Mary. The occasion was opening a bottle of plum wine bottled by my father, John Clark, not long before his death in 1989. The twenty-three or more years since the wine was bottled were kind and the wine was amazingly smooth, kind of like a fine cream sherry. Clark had provided the plums for the wine so we thought it appropriate to share the bottle with him and his lovely bride. Thanks, Clark and Mary, for the evening.
Clark Pouring a Glass of Kirsche Plum Wine
(We had John Clark with us in spirit and in picture ... bottom right)

After two weeks of playing tourist and visiting family, we headed out today, once more pointed south. And so tonight (Wednesday, Nov. 7) finds us at McFarlane Park in Florence, Alabama, on the Tennessee River. This is a nice little city park with a very reasonable rate for us “senior citizens” ($15 per night for a FULL hook-up site).

We'll be visiting some more of my cousins here and taking in some of the local sights, sites, and sounds before we move further south for the winter. Here in Florence tonight, it'll be pretty cold tonight, maybe approaching freezing, but we'll be cosy in our home on wheels (with its two furnaces and plenty of warm blankets).