A Travellerspoint blog

Exploring Nashville and Branson

Excellent Times with Friends and Family

Hello Friends,

Sorry it has been so long since our last post. I have some reasons but no real excuses so I’ll just say sorry and we will try to post more often in the future.

Let’s see….when we posted our last update we had just completed our trip to the motor home manufacturer in Alabama. It was a great experience overall in that not only did we get the booth dinette changed with a computer desk and chairs but we also learned about other recall items that were fixed by Tiffin at no charge as well.

One thing we were able to do while awaiting repairs was to visit the Shiloh civil war battle field. The visitor’s center shows a movie every hour that highlights the history of the battle and has numerous items that have been recovered from the battle field over the years as well as presentations explaining the timeline of the two day plus battle. Once you have examined the items and learned about the timeline of the battle there is a long driving tour with well marked signs explaining where lines were formed and specific battles occurred. The feeling of standing on those battle fields was hard to explain but moving. Here are some pictures we took at the battle field.

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There are many monuments constructed throughout the battle field honoring many individual battle groups.

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A restored cannon from the battle field

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This load called “grapeshot” was one of many options loaded into cannons as projectiles

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Very interesting to learn that some very famous people were involved in the battle including two future US Presidents (Grant & Garfield) as well as the highest ranking US military officer ever killed in battle Confederate General Albert Sydney Johnston.

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A tribute to the Minnesota militia who fought at the battle.

After leaving the NorthWest Alabama area we traveled through Mississippi and into Louisiana where we stopped for a couple of days in Shreveport. While there we spent a day at Barksdale AFB which is the home of the 8th Airforce and of the B52 aircraft. They have a nice museum and display of aircraft on the field. I won’t bore you with all the dozens of airplane pictures I took there but here are a couple.

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SR71 Blackbird

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P51 Mustang

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Nose of a B17
Next we traveled a short distance to Tatum Texas to visit my daughter and to meet my new grandson.

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Here I am with all three of my Grandsons Julian, Elijah and Samuel.

Once we left Tatum we traveled to Keller TX to spend a few days getting caught up with our friends Mo & Jerry. We had a great time there and some wonderful meals (as usual). I was also able to get some additional work on the motorcycle lift to make the platform level as I travel. Once we left there we traveled to Llano TX to pickup mom and travel to Nashville and Branson MO. We had a great time in both cities with mom but I think Nashville is a city that may warrant another visit. We visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and the associated famous RCA Studio B where so many classic hits were recorded. Here are some pictures of those visits.

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This is “Ray” our mascot who we travel with and is rapidly becoming the most photographed hedgehog in history.

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This is a 1962 Pontiac owned by Country singer Web Pierce who paid $20,000 to have the modifications done to this car. Checkout the saddle on the transmission hump not to mention the countless silver dollars glued all over the car.

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Many famous items from the history of country music are archived here. This is the dress of Mini Perl worn at the Grand Ole Opry.

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The famous RCA Studio B is often called the home a 10,000 hits. Not sure just how many hits were recorded there but the picture above shows the singles that Elvis Presley recorded here. In addition to Elvis many other artists recorded very famous songs here including, Eddie Arnold, Dolly Pardon, Jim Reeves, Charley Pride, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and many many others.

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Here is a picture of the Everly Brothers recording in the same studio

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Here we are with Mom in the studio behind the piano used by Elvis and many others in this studio over the years

Next we visited the famous Ryman Auditorium often called the Mother Church of country music because it was originally built as a temple before becoming the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. It was pretty neat to see the stage and backdrop that I had seen so many times as a child on TV. Some time in the 70’s I believe the Grand Ole Opry moved from the Ryman to a new larger and more modern building a bit further out of downtown. Here are some pics from our visit.

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Here is a pic of the outside of the old Ryman Auditorium

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Here is a picture of the inside of the auditorium from the bottom floor. You can see the upper balcony constructed in the late 1800’s for a confederate soldier reunion held at the auditorium.

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The infamous stage backdrop of the Grand Ole Opry

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A life sized bronze statue of Mini Perl and Roy Acuff in the lobby of the Ryman

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A picture taken of a Friday night radio show we attended at the new Grand Ole Opry. They removed a 6 foot circle of the old wooden floor at the Ryman and placed it center stage at the new auditorium

We had a very fun couple of days in Nashville. We definitely want to go back to see more live music and visit some places we didn’t make it to. Next we were off to Branson Missouri. Branson is the tribute band capital of the world it seems. On any given day you can see someone imitating your favorite artist and doing a pretty good job of it as well. Branson’s airport is VERY small even though it accommodates Southwest Airlines 737’s.

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Here is a picture of the inside of the Branson Airport.

One of the things we did in Branson was to take a dinner cruise on a paddle wheeler showboat. It was a pretty neat boat. Fairly new it was built here on the lake and claims to be the largest ship ever constructed on a land locked lake. It was impressive.

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Here is a picture of the main show stage on the ship. We saw some very talented performers and musicians and enjoyed a pretty good meal. Overall, well worth the cost if you are in the area.

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I don’t think I have ever photographed the inside of a restroom before but this forward head on the ship was so elaborately decorated with ships memorabilia that it seem appropriate

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Branson has just about everything for family entertainment you could want. Here is an elaborate building housing a local wax museum. Wow!

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Here is a shot of the old downtown Branson. There is a 5 & 10 cent store there that is not to be missed. You need to schedule at least an hour to look through it and could probably spend three hours if you wanted to

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I guess if I had to sum up Branson in two words they would be God & Country. People here are very patriotic and religious. I think this sign pretty much sums it up

Well since we returned from our trip we have been hanging out in the Austin area for about a week now taking care of some business and maintenance issues. I think tomorrow we will head out again. Next is a trip up through the central states Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and into the Pittsburgh area to attend a college graduation for Susan’s niece. We are looking forward to spending some time in Ohio attending the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame as well as the Football Hall of Fame. We also want to revisit the USAF museum at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton on our way.

If you have some time drop us an email and let us know what is going on with you as well.

Take care

Tom & Susan
…………at large

Posted by Trainwater 10:10 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Our Time in Red Bay Alabama

A Slower Way of Life

Hello from Red Bay Alabama,

After Tucumcari New Mexico we drove East on I-40 through Amarillo, Oklahoma City and Little Rock but we only spent one night in each city with our goal being getting to Red Bay Alabama as soon as we could to get in line for service at the Tiffin factory.
We arrived here in Red Bay on Wednesday night but were unable to secure any services Thursday or Friday. The factory only schedules appointments for warranty service issues. Everyone else must get in line for service. While they do have a large number of service bays there seems to be an even larger number of motorhomes waiting for service. We were promised we could get in on Monday so we have had some time to checkout the local sites and attractions. I off loaded the motorcycle and have been able to ride it a bit through the countryside. After all the problems bringing it presented in the early part of our trip I was regretting bringing it but now that I can enjoy it I think it was all worth it.

We are in the far North West corner of Alabama. The Mississippi state line is only about 2 miles to the West and the Tennessee state line is only about 60 miles North. We took a trip to Tishomingo State Park across in Mississippi. It was beautiful and they had a wide open grassy area where we let Watson run. He really enjoyed it. We did too until he decided to lay down in a mud puddle.

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Above are a couple of pictures of the state park and the lake in the center. It was early in the season and a weekday so we were just about the only ones there.

The next day we went for a tour of the Tiffin factory. We learned a lot about how they manufacture these motorhomes. Having spent so much of our careers in our own factory and touring so many other factories around the world we were excited to see how this one compared. It was, not surprisingly like many other things in Alabama, kinda Casual. You could tell by the areas we were allowed to walk through they were not overly concerned with law suits as we were allowed to walk over electrical cords and air hoses and the like. We could also take all the pictures we liked of anything they were doing. I liked it.

Here are some pictures of the Tiffin factory

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Over the weekend we drove out to a neat place near Red Bay called the Rattlesnake Saloon. It is made into a natural cave formation in the rocks. While it was over the county line so they could serve alcohol we learned they don’t serve any until 5 PM so our lunch was a burger and a coke but the ambiance was really cool.

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Here is the outdoor dining and band stand for the restaurant in the cave. They have a pickup that ferries people from the parking lot down a dirt road to the cave / restaurant.

We saw these signs on the road for “Coon Dog Cemetery” so we had to check it out. Just as you might imagine it is a cemetery for coon dogs beloved by their owners and had been in existence since 1937.
Here are a few pictures from the cemetery.
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We both really like the blues so we thought…….wait a minute…..we are very close to Muscle Shoals the birthplace of the blues so we set out to find some live blues music Saturday night. We failed! As it turns out there really isn't any live blues music in the birthplace of the blues. We did find some live music however, We drove to Florence Alabama to hear a lady from Nashville named Anne E. DeChant. She writes her own music and we enjoyed hearing her perform even if wasn't the blues we were hoping for.

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Here is Anne performing in Florence Alabama

As I was writing this entry I received a phone call telling me that we are scheduled to have the motor home in service bay #32 tomorrow morning at 6:45AM. Everyone around here seems to pride themselves on getting up early. The factory starts work every day at 6AM. At this age I pride myself on being able to stay up late :)

OK one funny picture that I have no explanation for. Today as I was riding my motorcycle through the rural countryside I drove by this house with this Egyptian statue out front. No idea of its significance but it did seem pretty out of place to me.

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Well I guess if I am supposed to get up and have the motor home over there at 6:45 in the morning I better sign off. We are certainly hoping to get all this work done this week and begin heading for Texas to see all of the family and friends we have been looking forward to.

Until next time…..See Y’all

Posted by Trainwater 14:51 Archived in USA Comments (0)

First Two Weeks On The Road

Slow Progress but Having Fun

Well folks we finally found some time to get caught up on this blog. Overall the first two weeks have been pretty smooth with respect to acclimating to life on the motorhome. We seem to have just about all the basics and they are all fairly close at hand. As far as trip progress goes things have gone much slower than we anticipated for a few reasons. The first was a storm we didn’t feel like braving on the road that had us hold up in Lake Elsinore for a few days waiting for it to pass before heading out to Las Vegas. It was OK though because the slight delay allowed me to ride the Ortega Highway one more time on my motorcycle before leaving Southern California for a while.

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Here is a photo I took from the Ortega Highway lookout just before the storm came in.

After the storm passed we headed up the I-15 to Las Vegas where we stayed at Las Vegas Motor Home Resort. By far the nicest RV park I have ever seen. Many spots had elaborate outdoor kitchens and cabanas with tables and fire pits etc. I do have some pictures but they were taken with Susan’s camera and it seems we neglected to bring the proprietary Sony cable needed to download them. We noticed upon arrival that the motorcycle was now leaning backwards about 20 degrees. We found a dealer to look at the lift and he tightened it a bit. A small help but the hope was that it wouldn’t lean any further. We had a great time seeing some shows and enjoying some really good meals. We didn’t really gamble much but we ended up slightly ahead so we packed up and left town.
Next stop was Kingman Arizona to visit my cousin who lives there and to take Susan to see the Grand Canyon. We decided to explore Grand Canyon West which is near Kingman and where they have constructed the Skywalk, a glass walkway that extends over the canyon. Besides being pretty pricey (about $80 each) it was spectacular. Here are some pictures from the Canyon

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Here is a picture of the canyon. You can see the sky walk in the upper left corner extending out over the canyon.

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Here is Susan getting up the nerve to walk out on the skywalk.

Next we drove on to Flagstaff Arizona to look around. We took a short day trip down to the Indian ruins at Montezuma’s Castle and then drove through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon on the way back to Flagstaff. I had forgotten just how beautiful this area of Arizona is. There was a good bit of snow on the ground but the weather was very nice when we were there.

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Here is a picture of our campsite in Falgstaff. Nice views in all directions.

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Here are some pictures of the dwellings which were built sometime between 1100 and 1400.

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As we left Flagstaff I caught this picture of the famous San Francisco Peaks in the rear view mirror

Next stop Albuquerque New Mexico. When we got to Albuquerque we noticed that the motorcycle lift was now leaning BADLY. All the bumps in the road had slowly bent the cross member of the motorhome hitch that the lift was attached to. It would need to be removed and re-installed with more support and attachment to the motorhome frame. We found a company in town to do the work and checked into a motel. We did manage to do a bit of sightseeing while in town. We took the tram ride up to the top of Sandia Peaks. It is the longest cable tramway in the world and the views from the top were AMAZING!

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Here is Sandia Peaks from the campground the first night in town.

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Here is a picture of an arriving cable car from the bottom as we were waiting our ride to the top.

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Here is a picture of the amazing views of the entire Albuquerque valley from the top of the mountain.

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Here is a picture of Susan at the top of the mountain peak

Next was a fairly short drive to Tucumcari New Mexico. Susan had been reading quite a bit about Route 66 and the small towns that used to thrive as all of the interstate traffic came through town. We wanted to get the full experience so we stayed in the Blue Swallow hotel. Built in 1939 it was recently purchased by a very nice couple that are starting over after losing their jobs in the recession back in Michigan. It was a classic old Hwy 66 motel. We walked down the street to Dels for what might be the best Chicken Fried Steak I have ever had (Sorry mom). It was kinda weird leaving a king size bed outside in the motorhome for a queen size in a small room but the ambiance of the 40’s and 50’s was alive and well.

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Here is the famous Blue Swallow Motel. Very cool Neon!

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Here is our bus parked in the courtyard of the Blue Swallow

Next we made the short drive to Amarillo Texas where I am writing this entry now. We only are here for one night but we are hoping to get out for a movie or something a bit later.
After Amarillo our next stops will be Oklahoma City, Little Rock Arkansas and then Red Bay Alabama to get some work done to the motorhome.

I will publish more updates are we move along.

Happy Trails…..

Tom & Susan

Posted by Trainwater 13:16 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Preparation for Departure

Packing up in San Diego

Well....... Here we go again.

This time we have decided to hit the master rest button on our life in San Diego. We have sold our house, we are placing all of our belongings we can't carry into storage and bought a motor home. Our plan (and I use that term loosely) is to travel around the USA looking at potential retirement locations and seeing all those things and places we have not yet experienced. We expect this trip to last about one year but our level of happiness living in an RV could dramatically alter that time frame in either direction :)

Neither of us have really any experience in an RV so this is a significant leap of faith for us. We both get along well in small areas and love to travel experiencing new places and meeting new and interesting people. We are both viewing this as our next big life adventure.

We have spent some time over the past few months getting the motor home prepared for the trip. We will be bringing the Harley and the Jeep with us for local transport once we arrive in a location we want to explore. We are trying to determine what we really need to bring with us and I am constantly reminded of that old adage that you should bring half the clothes and twice the money that you think you will need on the road. We are somewhat comforted by the thought that the logistics of this trip should be MUCH easier than our recent 6 month European adventure (Blog URL trainwater.travellerspoint.com).

As I write this post we are only about one week from hitting the road. We are packing like crazy and trying to think of everything we need to bring with us. We will try to keep the blog up to date as we go. We would love to hear suggestions on places and things to see or just to hear how our friends are doing so if you have time drop us a note.

Our first destination from San Diego will be Red Bay Alabama. "WHAT?" is the typical response to that statement but let me explain. We are taking the motor home back to its manufacturer to have some remodeling done inside to better suite our use. We figured if we are going to live in this thing for a year or more we want it to be as conveniently configured as possible. After that who knows for sure other than we want to stay South in the Winter and North in the Summer.

As of right now the list of places we want to investigate for retirement are:
Ft. Collins CO
Bend OR
Spokane WA
Prescott, AZ
Flagstaff AZ
Asheville NC

....and others I'm sure will be added as we travel.

Well I need to get back to my most urgent task....packing!

More to follow soon...........

Happy Trails

Tom & Susan

Posted by Trainwater 12:13 Archived in USA Tagged motorhome Comments (1)

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