Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Visiting Clinton - Part I (Free!)

David Hall Cabin

After two months of full-timing, we have discovered the downside to RV living - rain! For the past couple of weeks, it has rained on and off, and of course, we only have a motorcycle for our 'get-around'vehicle.  We did manage to get to the grocery store without getting soaked, but got caught in a downpour on the way back.

Finally, the forecast said it would be sunny so we took a trip to Clinton, stopping first at the David Hall Cabin. (Notice how we have managed to resist making any puns on this blog about having cabin fever. Log that as a first!).
David and Samuel Hall were twins that fought at King's Mountain in the Revolutionary War.  David Hall later built a log cabin in 1799 along the Old Emory Road. Back then, there were two main wagon trails to Nashville, the Walton Road and Old Emory Road (sometimes called Avery Trace).
Old Emory Road was originally part of the Native American Tollunteeskee trail, and was one the the earliest wagon trails that ran through the Tennessee River Valley. 
The cabin was connected by a dogtrot to a two-story cabin, which served as both an inn and a tavern. Passengers from the stagecoach to Nashville would stop here for the night. 
In 1868, Walter Thomason was born in the cabin. When he was a kid, he would take care of the horses for the stagecoaches.
Walter married Nannie Williams in 1902. He worked for the railroad, so Nannie raised 11 children in the cabin, mostly on her own. You can see Nannie and her family, above.

Libby, one of Walter's great-granddaughters, bought her grandparent's house in the '90s. While removing clapboards, they realized that the house was actually a log cabin. Further research revealed that it was the oldest house in the county.
You can hear Libby talking about her family's cabin and it's history here Libby and her husband Harry have been working to preserve the cabin and it's contents. They have also saved several other local cabins, by dis-assembling them and moving them to the property.
This is a cabin they rescued from Campbellsville. If you look to the right, you can just see three trees in the background, where the springs are. The family had to haul water from the springs to the cabin.
 We arrived just before 10am, and Harry offered to give us a personal tour of all of the cabins. This cabin was originally at Oakridge. When Oakridge was selected by General Grove to be part of the atomic bomb project in WW II, it was moved to Lenoir City. 
Eventually, it had to be moved again, so Harry and his son dismantled it and moved it again - piece by piece.
All the cabins are decorated with family heirlooms and donated pieces, mixed with antiques. The table in the middle was Walter and Nannie's and probably dates to the 1920s.
 Looking across the dogtrot porch toward the old tavern. The family still has many of the old receipts for the tavern, including how much guests were charged for whiskey and brandy!
The top floor of the inn. Guests slept two to three to a bed, so it was probably a little warmer than it looks 😉
 Know before you go:  Address 830 Old Edgemoor Ln, Clinton TN
 Phone: 865-945-3807 

The cabin is still owned by Libby and Harry, so parking is limited to their drive, or you can park down the road at the Valley View United Methodist church, and walk to cabin.

The family generally has two open house events a year, one in June  and another one in September, which  this year will be on Sept 9 and Sept 10th. We didn't have time to check it out,but the historic Arnold-Hall Cemetery is just around the corner from the cabin.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

RV Kitchen: PBJ Trail Mix

RV Kitchen: PBJ Trail Mix 

Years ago, we dumped some nuts and dried fruit into a bag for a trip, only to discover we had accidentally created a trail mix that tastes like a PBJ sandwich! This trail mix has become our favorite go-to snack, especially since it's easy to make, inexpensive, and easy to take on the motorcycle. 

Note about ingredients: This recipe makes 76 ounces, which is enough to last two humans and one husky for about 4 weeks. Since this mix has to keep for an entire month, it's very important the peanuts are fresh. (Personally, we've had mixed results with peanuts from bulk stores, so we now just use Planters) 

Cost: If you have a bulk store in the area, you should be able to get the ingredients for a batch of trail mix for around $20-25. If you go with store bought ingredients, it will cost around $18-22. The ingredients we used this time cost us $18.12, which brings the cost to about 24 cents an ounce.

Nutrition: 1 ounce of trail mix has approximately 145 calories. Salt is going to to vary, depending on whether you get regular, lightly salted, or unsalted nuts (An ounce is a small handful of mix. For comparison, 1 oz of peanuts is 28 peanuts, and 1 oz of almonds is 20 almonds)

35 oz  - peanuts
15 oz - golden raisins
12 oz - dried cranberries
14 oz - almonds (smoked or natural)
Directions: Dump the peanuts and the golden raisins into a mixing bowl, making sure to save the bags. Mix until there are no more raisin clumps, then add the dried cranberries and mix again. Finally, add the almonds and stir again.
Eat a handful of trail mix for much-needed sustenance after such hard work, and store the rest in the bags you just saved. Make sure to pat yourself on the back for being good and recycling!
 One last tip: Since we only use Planters peanuts, we use the plastic container to store the extra trail mix. Heap the mix past the rim, then screw the lid down. Shake the container, add a little more mix to remove any air, then screw the lid tight. Store in a cool, dark place.

Oh and don't forget to share some with your husky😀

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Coal Creek Miners Museum and the Importance of Ice Cream Socials (Free!)

Coal Miner's Museum and Norris Dam Park 

Last weekend we checked the weather forecast and discovered the only clear day was Wednesday So we changed up our plans and spent most of a very rainy week puttering around the RV, catching up on small projects and repairs. Like installing a new relay in the motorcycle. We now have turn signals again! 

We also decided to run the generator, which we need to do every 3-4 weeks. Well, at least we tried to run the generator. We pressed the crank button and nothing happened. We pulled out the owner's manual, ran through the checklist, and even made sure the overload switch hadn't been thrown. Nada.

Stumped, we went to ice cream social the next day and asked Fred, a former Chevrolet employee, for help. He came over and ran us through another check list, including hitting the kill switch for the coach - which fixed the problem. Yup, if all else fails, reboot!

On Wednesday, the skies were clear., so off we went (with working turn signals!) to the Coal Creek Miners Museum, which is currently free.

 Rocky Top bought an old bank building last year, so the museum is brand new. Right now, it only occupies the bottom floor, but the museum is hoping to raise enough money to open up the second floor, where they can have bigger exhibits.
Coal mining in this area was started by William Gibbs McAdoo (his granddaughter was Catherine Wiley, an American Impressionist Artist, who we've already mentioned in another blog post)

The museum's staff does tours, and are full of interesting information. Merle Travis, who released "Sixteen Tons" was the son of a coal miner. In the song, he talks about the debt his family dealt with, thanks to being paid in credit to the company store.
Many of the items on display in the museum highlight how dangerous mining was, and the dubious nature of the 'safety' equipment.
The staff member showing us around mentioned how one visitor had shared they were still using some of this equipment when he retired in 2006.
The museum also covers two local mining disasters, the Fraterville Mining Explosion, and the Cross Mountain Mine Disaster, which occurred only ten years later and only one mile away.
In both disasters, trapped men wrote goodbye letters to their families as they ran out of air. The museum has heart-wenching copies of these letters on display including this letter written by a father who was trapped in the Fraterville Mine with his young son.
You can read more about the men and boys who were lost, and the heartache of their families on this local website.

The museum also covers the Coal Creek Wars. While the protesting miners eventually lost their homes and their jobs in 1892, the incident lead to Tennessee to being the first state to end its convict-lease program in 1896.
Convict-lease programs was used throughout the South as a way to enforce Jim Crow laws, so this war ended up being another significant step toward the long road to ending these laws. If you are interested, there are a couple of other  Coal Creek videos on the museum's website.

After leaving the museum, we headed off to the Lenoir Museum in Norris, but not before zooming past a couple of beautiful old churches in Rocky Top.
We took 441 from Rocky Top to Norris Dam. Thanks to the recent rains,
the day was sunny but cool, with a breeze blowing off the nearby Clinch River.
The road ran along side sheer rock walls in several places, a reminder that we are literally on top of the Holston Formation, which was once a tropical sea millions of years ago.
Eventually, we began to see Tennessee Valley Authority signs,
and then one of the Norris Dam spillways. The Norris Dam was the TVA's first big project, way back in 1933.
We were going to check out the Lenoir Museum, but it was closed (the hours are Weds -Sat, 9am to 5pm and admittance is free).
This wasn't much of a disappointment,  though, because we still had the trails at Norris Dam State Park to explore. 

Although there is a fee to use the State Park, as far as we can figure out, the trails are free. (For those who have been following our blog for a while, you'll be happy to know that we didn't try to find the three historical cemeteries, which is part of this trail system!)

This area was once a small village of farms until the Great Depression.
One of the New Deal projects to provide much needed work was creating a dam on the Clinch River. The Rice Gristmill, built in 1798, had to be moved and is now part of the Lenoir Museum complex.
 In the early 1950s, Tennessee started a state park program, and purchased this park from the TVA. The trail we choose to walk was the Songbird Loop. There were many, many wildflowers,
and quite a few butterflies.
At first glance, this appears to be a forest but if you look closely,
you can see this was a replanting effort since the trees are in straight rows.
There are over 4000 acres at Norris Dam, but the trail we walked was well maintained and beautiful.  Both the City of Norris and the Friends of Norris Park help provide upkeep and maintenance, and the extra TLC shows.

Talking about beautiful, we kept seeing these gorgeous plants along the trail. Is this flame azalea? We're from Texas, so we've never seen azalea in the wild before.

Nope! It's jewelweed! Thanks Anne!
The trails also have another awesome feature - an accessible fishing pier.
While we were walking back to the motorcycle, we saw two guys taking advantage of the ADA path so they could fish together.  Very cool. 

Know Before You Go: Both the Coal Creek Miners Museum and the Lenoir Museum are free, but have restricted hours. It appears that the trails at Norris Dam State Park are free, at least if you park at the Lenoir Museum and walk in.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Another Wonderful Saturday in Knoxville (Free!)

On Saturday, we packed another lunch and headed off for another day of exploring (free) things on Knoxville.  

Our first stop was the East Tennessee Veteran Cemetery on East Gov. John Sevier Highway. This is the new veteran's cemetery that was recently opened in 2011.
There was a beautiful monument to the families of soldiers near the entrance. Too often, we forget the sacrifices that these families make.
There are already 2500 interments in this cemetery. This is third veteran's cemetery in the area, a sobering reminder of East Tennessee's commitment to volunteering.
 When we visited, there was also a large flock of Canadian Geese resting during their migration. 
We only took a few pictures of this cemetery, since there were family members visiting their loved ones and we wanted to be respectful. More information on Gold Star Family monuments and the organization erecting these can be found here.

Next, we headed back to South Knoxville and Fort Dickerson Park. We stopped first at the Harold Lambert Overlook, which has a beautiful view of the Fort Dickerson Quarry.  Harold Lambert was a long time business owner in Knoxville, and well known for his support of different charities.
Then we continued along the park's road to the site of Fort Dickerson, a Civil War fort. 
 After the Union seized Knoxville, this fort was built on the other side of the Holston (now the Tennessee river) to protect the "back door" of Knoxville.
The fort is gone, but the ditch still remains, along with a depression where the ammunition bunker was, and three cannon.
 It was another gorgeous summer day in Knoxville, but we couldn't help thinking about how cold and miserable the men of both sides must have been in November, when the Confederates attempted (and failed) to take the fort.
It was Saturday but there were very few visitors, so we had one of the large picnic pavilions to ourselves. It was a perfect place to eat lunch and soak in the beauty of this park.

Full, we headed back to the main street to find the quarry. To access it, we had to loop around the park and then cross a set of railroad tracks. Click for directions.
There is a parking lot at the entrance, and beyond it, a gravel road which leads to another parking lot closer to the quarry. Since we were on a motorcycle, we choose to stop at the first parking lot, and walk in.
We were glad we choose to park, because the gravel road is badly rutted.
The road finally turned into a  small parking lot. There is a short walking trail just off the parking lot, or you can head down the main path to the quarry.
 We can see why this is such a popular swimming hole; the quarry is absolutely stunning. 
This was originally a marble quarry that closed in the 70's. Once the quarry closed and the pumping stopped, it quickly turned into a man-made lake.
 Well, we said swimming hole, but there were quite a few floats, too. Here is one  group who clearly takes floating very seriously!  

Know before you go: Both Fort Dickerson Park and Fort Dickerson Quarry are free, and an easy walk (even if you park at the quarry's first parking lot.) Alcohol is not allowed at the quarry, and the quarry is closed to swimming after Labor Day.