Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Visiting with Friends from Texas

Thursday-Sunday (Jul 23-26):

Thursday was a cleaning day for us. We spent several hours cleaning the Duchess and polishing the wood inside the RV along with removing some bug and road dirt from the outside of the rig. That evening we met Mal and Fran Vaughn from San Antonio in Nashville. Mal and Fran are good friends of ours that we have known since we starting dating in 2002. Mal has a group of friends from Orange Texas that have known one another since elementary school and get together every 1-2 years for "mini reunions". They hold these gatherings at various location around the USA since everyone in the group lives in different states. This year was one of the smaller groups with only 4 attending here in Nashville. We had dinner at a very nice sports bar in Nashville and met Chuck, Tim and Andy who are the ones attending this year along with Mal.

On Friday all of us took a small bus tour of Nashville and the surrounding towns with an outfit called Tommy's Tours. Tommy was the bus driver and tour guide and did a great job of keeping us entertained during the 3 hour tour.

We started at Opryland then visited downtown Nashville before seeing where some of the music stars live in the towns south of Nashville.

Photos from the old train station in downtown Nashville that has
been converted into a hotel.

After the tour finished we returned to downtown Nashville to have lunch at The Acme Feed and Seed. The Acme Feed and Seed in an old store that Alan Jackson has bought an turned into a restaurant that has live music in the evenings.

Today's Acme as a bar/restaurant

Original Acme Feed and Seed Company
Several of us took a tour of the Ryman Auditorium which is where the Grand Old Opry was performed from 1943 until the 1970's when it moved out to Opryland. Ryman Auditorium was originally built as a church building and named after Thomas Ryman who donated the money to construct the building. Captain Ryman made his money in the riverboat business and was later in life was "converted" during a revival by Rev. Jones in Nashville. After Captain Ryman's death the church was renamed in his honor.

Mal and Chuck inside the Ryman Auditorium

Stage outfits for Minnie Pearl, Bill Monroe and Hank Williams

Stage outfits for Porter Waggoner and Loretta Lynn

Stage outfit for Marty Robbins

The "Man in Black" - Johnny Cash

Mal and Fran at the Ryman
We also stopped in several bars for a few minutes each to listen to live music along the streets in downtown Nashville.

Connie and Mike in front of B.B. King's

Fran and Connie in front of The Wild Horse Saloon
On Saturday all of us went to Franklin Tennessee to do a Segway Tour of the city. Franklin is an old city in Tennessee that was the site of a very bloody battle during the Civil War. After the segway tour was finished we ate lunch and listen to some bluegrass music that was being played at a festival in downtown Franklin. We then made a visit to the Carnton Plantation and Confederate Cemetery that is located on the property. The McGavock family donated land for the cemetery so that Confederate soldiers who died in the Battle of Franklin could be buried there.

Carnton Plantation

We ended the day by having dinner with Fran and Mal at Jonathan's Grille in Mt. Juliet.

On Sunday Mal and Fran came out to the Duchess for a visit and to spend the night with us before heading out to Ohio where Fran's brother and sister live. This is the first time we have had anyone spend the night with us in the motor home.

Mike and Mal enjoying the shade outside the Duchess
We thoroughly enjoyed the few days we were able to spend with Fran and Mal and get caught up on our lives since our last visit with them in 2014.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hanging around Tennessee

Monday-Wednesday (Jul 20-22):

On Monday Connie and I traveled to the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina Tennessee to get Connie's America the Beautiful Senior Pass. This pass will allow Connie to get into any national park or historic site free of charge along with getting discounts on other items such as Corp of Engineers campgrounds. The Senior Pass is a lifetime pass for anyone who is a US citizen age 62 or older.

Connie with her new America the Beautiful Senior Pass

National Fish Hatchery
The Fish Hatchery is one of several around the country that stock the lakes and rivers across the USA. This one is used for several types of trout and small mouth bass. We also took a tour of the COE campground located next to the Fish Hatchery. Once we got back to our campsite at the state park we used Connie's new pass to book a COE campground in Kentucky for next week with a 50% discount from the regular rate. One of the benefits of getting older.

On Tuesday Connie and I spent the day doing maintenance on The Duchess. We tried to located the areas of the frame that were starting to rust and paint those with Rustoleum paint. This process ended up taking several hours but The Duchess looks much better now.

Wednesday was a travel day for us. We only moved about 45 miles from the Bledsoe Creek State Park to the Nashville East/Lebanon KOA campground. This is a campground that was taken over by KOA last year. As with most KOA campgrounds they have a pool, laundry, full hook-ups and nice bath/shower facilities. However this is most expensive park we have stayed in since we started full timing in April. We picked this park since it was close to the Nashville airport and we are meeting friends from Texas later this week.

Nashville East/KOA campground

Like most private campgrounds the sites are close together

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Travel around Nashville

Wednesday-Sunday (Jul 15-19):

On Wednesday we left the Texas T Campground and made the short trip to Seven Points Campground which is closer to Nashville. This campground is a Corp of Engineers park located on a lake near Nashville. We made the move closer to Nashville since we were putting the motor home in the repair shop to have the water pump replaced on the engine tomorrow. The site was very narrow and had a number of trees around it. We were not able to put up our satellite dish but were able to get local channels from Nashville. We walked around the campground before turning in for the evening. The weather here in Tennessee has been unusually hot so it has limited our outdoor activities.

On Thursday morning we dropped The Duchess off at Crosspoint Cummins Repair in Nashville and did some errands during the time the work was being done. We went to Costco to pick up Connie's new glasses and then visited the Centennial Park in Nashville where a replica of the Parthenon from Rome has been built. The park also has a walking trail that we strolled around and tried to stay in the shade.

We then ate lunch (had a gyro) and did some shopping at Walmart before returning to the repair shop to pick up The Duchess. From there we proceeded to our next campground at the Bledsoe Creek State Park. Once we got set up we realized that I had left my sun glasses at the repair shop and Connie had lost one pair of her new glasses.

Our pull through campsite at Bledsoe Creek State Park
50 amp service with water but no sewer

Friday morning we returned to Nashville to see if we could find Connie's glasses and retrieve mine from the Cummins repair shop. We retraced our steps but were unable to find Connie's glasses. So we made another visit to Costco to order a replacement pair.

Saturday was Connie's birthday. We decided to visit Nashville again to see a couple of places we found on TripAdvisor. We stopped by Gander Mountain store to look at what they had in the way on camping chairs and did not find anything that we liked. We did end up buying some clothing that was on sale (several lightweight shirts and some rain jackets). From there we went to Lane's Motor Museum where they have a large collection of unusual vehicles from all over the world. There are vehicles from the USA, Japan, England, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Russia. The are cars from the 1890's up to a few years ago along with motorcycles, scooters, powered bikes and racing bicycles. They have about 130 cars on display with another 300 cars that can be viewed at selected times for an additional fee. Here are a few photos of some of the collection:

Delivery vehicle from Japan

Honda car with a Honda scooter in the hatch

One of several vehicles that used a propeller to power the car

Connie with one of the mini cars on display. Notice the
bicycle in the back that also used a propeller

Could I fit into this?

An all aluminum mini car

Connie trying to decide which one she wanted

This is a concept car based on the car's interior looking like a living room.
The car had only one door and the driver had to crawl over some seats to get to
the driver's seat.

This car ran on coal. The coal was put in the large front fenders and burned.
The methane gas produced by the coal was used to power the car.

There was even a car that you started by pedaling instead of cranking.

After spending several hours at the car museum we went downtown to the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar to listen to some music and have something to eat. The singer was from Lufkin Texas and the bass player was from Nashville. They were very good and we enjoyed the music they played.

We return back to the campground where Connie fixed the angel food/crushed pineapple cake we had for my birthday earlier in the month and really liked. We finished the day off with some smoked salmon and a bottle of wine.

On Sunday we decided to stay in the park and do some hiking and kayaking. We did a 4 mile hike around the park in the morning. Some of the trail was along Bledsoe Creek while some of it was quite steep going up hills. By the time we finished the walk we were both dripping wet.

Trail along the creek

Connie coming up the "stairs" along the trail

We have seen lots of wildlife (I use the term very loosely) here in the park. There is a group of deer with several fawns who will eat grass right next to our motor home. We have also seen a flock of wild turkeys, numerous ducks and geese, cranes and lots and lots of squirrels.

Ducks near our campsite

Crane along the trail
In the afternoon we aired up the inflatable kayak and rowed along the creek for about 1.25 hours. Some of the land along the creek is privately owned with some large houses built on the property. In the evening we put up the Coleman canopy we had purchased earlier in the week at Walmart. The box says you can put it up in 3 minutes but it took us a lot longer than that to get it up.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Johnson Family Reunion

Tuesday-Tuesday (Jul 7-14):

Tuesday my dad and I played 9 holes of golf on a course located about 1/4 mile from the campground. After the golf game all of us went into Lewisburg and ate lunch at Mildred's Restaurant. We are waiting on relatives to start arriving at the park for the reunion. Later in Lewisburg we found a couple of martini glasses for $2 a piece and bought both of them.

On Wednesday Connie and I drove up to Nashville so that Connie could order some new glasses. The old ones she has have become scratched up and need to be replaced. Connie had called several places and found that Costco had the best price on the type of lens that she wanted to have in her glasses. Since she had not had an eye exam in over a year, Connie had made an appointment with the optometrist who offices next door to the Costco. We arrived around 10 AM at the location and Connie's eye exam was completed by 10:30. She then went over to Costco to look at frames and order glasses. She picked out a pair of frames for her regular glasses and then a second pair for her sun glasses. The sun glasses have a lens in them that allow you to read your phone or tablet so she is excited about getting them to use. The glasses will be ready in about 10 days so we will pick them up later this month since we are staying around Nashville until the end of July.

On Thursday I played golf with my dad and Uncle Harry at the Saddle Creek Golf Course in Lewisburg. It is a nice course with bent grass greens. I shot an 82 while both my dad and Harry struggled with their games (neither have played much in the last year). Connie did some shopping and visited with relatives of mine who were at the Henry Horton State Park lodge. She also went to Columbia and ate lunch at Marcy Jo's Mealhouse which is a restaurant she had heard about from the owners of our campground. While in the parking lot she met two ladies from Oklahoma, Loretta and Wannetta, who were visiting their brother in Nashville and invited her to have lunch with them. Connie brought home a pecan sticky bun which we ate that evening for dessert.

On Friday I played golf again with my dad and Uncle Harry at the same course and we were joined by Jack who is married to my cousin Brenda. I ended up shooting a 79, Jack had a 86 while dad and Harry continued their struggles with their golf games.

Connie spend more time visiting with relatives while we played golf. After the golf I joined Connie in spending time with members of the Johnson and Mitchell families (my grandfather and grandmother's families).

Saturday and Sunday was spent visiting with relatives. We spent some time with my cousin Sandra and her husband Clay who were camping at Henry Horton State Park in a new travel trailer that they had purchased a few weeks ago. We gave them a few pointers that we have learned and wished them well on their future camping trips. By early Sunday afternoon everyone except us had started on their journeys back to their homes. We had received the replacement thermistors on Friday for our refrigerator so we ended up buying some ice at Walmart and moving everything out of the refrigerator so we could completely defrost it before putting in the new thermistors.

Monday was a work day for us around the motor home. We finished up defrosting the refrigerator, replaced the thermistors and waited for it to cool down. With these absorption type of refrigerators it takes about 24 hours for them to get down to their lowest temps. We also replaced one of the day/night blinds inside the motor home. Then we decided to tackle the biggest job which was replacing the seals and ball cock on the toilet. It took us several hours since we had to stop each step of way and make sure we were doing it correctly and we decided to put on rubber gloves and give it a good cleaning while we had it apart. By late in the evening we were able to put items back in the refrigerator (but not the freezer) since the temperature had got low enough in that part of the unit.

Tuesday morning we ended up taking the toilet apart one more time since the seals were not working properly. The job went much smoother this time since we had done the same steps yesterday. This time everything worked perfectly including all of the seals we replaced. We turned on the ice maker in the freezer and it actually started making ice. So far we have a freezer that works although it is only getting down to 15 degrees and not the 5-10 degrees we were hoping for. In the afternoon we went over to Henry Horton State Park and went swimming until the pool closed because of thunderstorms.