Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cumberland Gap & Other Places

Today's drive took us to Cumberland Gap at the Kentucky-Tennessee-Virginia state line. You probably know the story of Danial Boone and the others that found the "gap". The National Park Service operates the park. We drove up to Pinnacle Point that has a great view of Harrogate, TN in the valley south of the gap, the gap itself, the city of Middleboro, Ky to the north and east to the Wilderness Road in Virginia. We walked a path into Virginia to get to the overlook. 

US25E goes through a 4600 foot tunnel under the mountain next to the gap. It's a four lane road started in 1980 and finished in 1996. It looks like it was a huge expensive project. We drove into Kentucky to check out Pine Mountain State Park. The campground was closed and it is just a long ride through the hills, not much else.

Traffic on I-75 south on the way back to our motor home was backed up for miles due to construction. We saw the problem in the morning as we drove north on I-75 so we knew it might still be a problem. Our WAZE software indicated the problem at about 430 pm so we took a detour through Rocky Top Tennessee (you heard of it?) and a few other small towns. If you travel, you need Google maps!

The link to the NPS web site is

Entering the 4600 foot tunnel from the Tennessee end.

It's a long tunnel and the two southbound lanes are on the other side of the wall on the left.

Daylight at the Kentucky end.

We walked into Virginia on the short path to Pinnacle Point.

The path to the Point.

The Pinnacle Point where you can see three states.
Looking toward Virginia and the Wilderness Road.
The town below is Cumberland Gap TN. Beyond that is US25E southbound and Harrogate TN
The "gap" is below the Pinnacle Point observation area.
The US25E tunnel runs through this mountain. Middleboro Ky is to the right of the mountain.

Leaving the point and who do we see? Could it be Gary Whisman!?!?

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Manhattan Project

Oak Ridge Tennessee
is the home of the Manhattan Project, one of the locations where the atomic bomb was developed. There is plenty of history to see in Oak Ridge. Oak Ridge did not exist until the early 1940's when our government decided we had to see if atomic theory would work to build a bomb. Scientific minds thought it would but the only way to prove it was to build it. 

We visited the museum today but could not get a seat on the daily tour bus that takes you through some of the top secret areas that still exist today. We will try again the next time we are near Oak Ridge. The museum entry was $4.00 each, quite a bargain for what they have in the large building. If you have not heard the story or seen the movie, it's another American historical event that I would compare to the Moon landings in the late 1960's. It's a one or two day stop to see it all. Here is the link so take a look. There are other locations in the country that also worked on the project. We hope to visit all of them.

Since this museum is science & energy, the first thing we found was this car "printed" by a large 3D printer. It's a real car with engine and all. This car may have been on a TV show about the printing technology last year .

There were three separate areas constructed for the project. There were 75,000 people living in the area for the project. The government took over the land and constructed everything. The construction project is a story in itself, all completed in less than three years. The museum has movies and many details about the entire project.
A model of the Oak Ridge "graphite reactor".
An early electron gun.
More early equipment
Still more and I did not get every detail about all of the exhibits.
If you know history, you have heard of the Enola Gay that dropped the first atom bomb on Japan. The second bomb dropped a week later caused Japan to surrender and ended World War II. That was the purpose of the Manhattan Project. 
Today, the nuclear waste is a big problem. There were examples of how they contain the waste. I did communications work as a contractor at Fernald in Ohio along with other employees where I worked. Fernald was called a "feed materials" plant which handled highly radioactive material. I watch the waste containment dome work from the main control room while I installed new communications equipment. That day had lots of people very nervous as they pumped foam under the dome to keep them from collapsing. Fernald was closed several years ago and cleaned up, now a nature preserve.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Raccoon Valley Campground

We are at Raccoon Valley Campground in Heiskel, Tennessee, about twenty miles north of Knoxville. The campground is operated by the Escapees RV Club, based in Livingston, Texas. They have several parks in the south. Members stay for 1/2 price for full hookup, a very good rate by the day, week or month. We are here for one week then we head to Indiana.

Big South Fork
Today we took a drive to Big South Fork River National Recreation Area. It was established in the 1970's west of Oneida, TN on TN 247 with 125,000 acres. Go the the web site to learn more at Take a look for your next vacation trip. The main roads are paved. The road in from Oneida has a warning: 13% grade with several switchbacks. This is not a road for RV's! We were told to enter from the west for better RV access but we have not been on the west side of the property. Part of our drive took us down a gravel road for about 7 miles. The jeep windows were all out so the interior and occupants were very dust covered. Another hour of intense cleanup when we returned to our motor home.

Checking out a cemetery for a relative of our son in law. His last name is on some headstones but these are old graves from the 1800's. Looks like more research will be needed.
We founmd maps and info for our hiking friend Steve Muncey.
The park attendant at the visitor center was very helpful.
Switchbacks were numerous and steep.
Plenty of the gravel road ended up inside our jeep.

Many hiking trails are in the 125,000 acre park.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Leaving Red Bay Alabama (Really)

We actually left Red Bay this morning after almost 8 weeks. We feel like regular Red Bay residents. Everything on the motor home has been checked out and a couple minor problems corrected at the factory service center. Our campground owners were very nice and we will miss their daily company. The campground is actually owned by Dr. Jim Nabors (yes Jim Nabors but not Gomer) and his son Steve. Jim is a general practice doctor in Red Bay. We did not need his services but he told us he was available if needed. Bill and Linda Nabors are Dr. Jim's parents and usually took care of the daily business. We will probably be back in Red Bay at least once annually for some service so we hope to see them again.  

Next stop was Camping World in Chattanooga Tennessee. The accessory list is growing and our wallet is shrinking. I needed two new compact ladders to clean the motor home and get up on the roof. The 7 foot folding step ladder is tall enough to reach top of the sides. The roof is 12 feet from the ground so a good extension ladder is another must have item.

Continuing north on I-75, we have stopped at a Flying J truck stop for the night. This one is at I-75 & I-40 west of Knoxville. Our first fill up of diesel fuel went well, 53 gallons in about five minutes. The nozzle is larger than a gasoline nozzle. We parked along the edge of the 187 parking slots. It's a big truck lot. Plenty of noise but we leave the AC fan on all night so exterior noise is not a problem. Our 10 KW generator will run all night for AC power so we will stay cool. Dinner at Denny's in the Flying J was good and of course the 15% senior discount was applied to the bill.

Flying-J parked for the night. Slide outs are not out due to a lot of truck traffic driving by all night. This makes it a bit cramped inside but only for the night. We are moving north of Knoxville tomorrow for 6 days at the Escapees Raccoon Valley park in Heiskel, TN. After that, back to the Versailles State Park for about 8 days during the weekend of the 4th.

Surrounded by over the road trucks. Many are running so the noise level is high.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Wash and Washer Day

Saturday was wash the rig day which I did in two stages. You need shade so one side in AM and the other in PM, about 3 hours total time. That will do for a while. Next was the washer & dryer, the one that Mary did not think we needed. Now she likes it. Smaller loads but it's right next to the closet and drawers so it makes it easy to unload the dryer and put clothes away.

It really is vertical, not leaning sideways. Washer on the bottom, dryer on the top.
Our cat is also happy in HER chair in the new motor home.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Day 1 for Both of Us

Steve and Lisa parked next to us at the Red Bay downtown RV park to check out both of our RV's. I provided Steve more instructions about how systems operate in our former motorhome. He has prior camping experience so he will do fine. There are lots of things to learn and everyone has their way of handling some procedures. Mary and I have a lot of new systems to figure out too. Saturday will be washer and dryer test day.

Here we are with our new Phaeton. This is our home from now on. People often ask "where is your first trip" and we just say "somewhere in the United States wherever we feel like going next". 

Steve and Lisa are ready to depart for home in Ohio. They tow a Chev Equinox behind the motor home. Their first stop will be a Pilot Truck Center on I-65 south of Elizabethtown KY. Steve reported heavy traffic and accidents held them up so their five hour drive took longer but they made it there by dark. That Pilot is very large and has a good place for RVs to park overnight. Steve gets to use the on board generator for AC power. They will arrive at home Saturday.

Friday, June 10, 2016

We are in Our New Motorhome

Sherman RV Center
Finally!! We have our new Tiffin Phaeton 40ah. Our dealer was Sherman RV Center in Sherman, MS. We were delayed  since they had sold so many new units this spring. Sherman was the best dealer we have every been associated with. We will always recommend them as the place to buy from.

Moving In
The process started Monday morning. We began the move from our Tiffin Allegro on Monday afternoon. They work stopped at 300am Tuesday morning when we could no longer function. We were up at 700am Tuesday morning to spend another day of hard work in 90 degree weather. Things were looking finally better on Wednesday. We pulled out at Sherman Thursday afternoon and arrived back at Red Bay where we will stay for another week or two while we check out everything. If there are any problems, we are two blocks from the factory.

Mary is talking to Carol Cole, on the right, our sales rep. She was great to work with. She provided a straight forward deal without any numbers games. All vehicle sales should be this easy. Their Service Manager Adam and "get ready" employees new the business and took good care of a few issues. John was our tech that worked with us until we were ready to go. He is a valuable employee at Sherman as are the others we worked with. Other dealers should be so good as Sherman.

Steve and Lisa Muncey from Hamilton Ohio bought our former Tiffin Allegro motorhome.
They are in front of us with their toad as we both left Sherman.

My first drive in the new Phaeton. I have some new things to learn about diesel engines.
Steve and Lisa are ahead of us on their first drive in a Class A motorhome.
We are heading to Red Bay, about 60 miles from Sherman.

Both motor homes are back at Red Bay.
Steve and Lisa are heading home Friday afternoon.

Mary and I will stay in Red Bay another week or two to be sure everything is working properly. The washer and dryer will be tried out Friday afternoon. The Tiffin factory is two blocks away if we need anything. We will head for Knoxville after we are finished here then back to Indiana for July 4th weekend.
Stay tuned in ........