Friday, April 30, 2010

A Short Trip and A Birthday Party

We woke up, stretched, scratched, had coffee, took showers, packed up, and got underway.  Destination?  A fifty mile trip to Barton’s Springs Recreation Area on Lake Normandy in Normandy, Tennessee.  This is a nice clean little campground managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority with 50A electric and water sites (if you can get them).  Here’s a photo of our site.

Our Site

This is the view out our back window – not too shabby, huh?

View From Our Back Window

And this is a portion of Normandy Lake which is a man made lake by the damming of the Duck River (similar to a Corps of Engineers project).

Normandy Lake

There are 42 electric and water sites with half of them being rented out as seasonal.  The other eleven fill quickly making it difficult to get a site.  There is a 21 day limit on stays (other than the seasonal sites).  The only site available for us was the handicap site which they are allowed to rent if all the other sites are filled.  There are quite a few no hook-up sites available if you are set up to do dry camping.

We get excellent Verizon air card coverage, decent OTA television signal (ABC, NBC, Fox, and PBS), and very limited AT&T cell phone coverage (if you go outside, stand on the picnic table, and tilt your head just right).

We took Brian to the hotel to get him checked in; Marc, Amie, and kids had already arrived from New Hampshire.  Then it was over to Joel’s house to celebrate birthdays.  Amie’s birthday was three days ago while Aunt Mary and Rocco celebrate their birthdays on the same day (April 29th).

The Birthday Kids

Joel prepared barbequed chicken, brats, and shish kebab on the grill and baked some marinated sweet potato sticks in the oven.  Miss Judy had prepared a fruit salad and a birthday cake for Mary and Rocco.  Joel’s parents (Greg and Dawne) along with one of Joel’s friends joined in with the Patterson’s to celebrate the occasion.  A good time was had by all.  Then it was home to bed thus bringing another day to a quick end.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Moving Daze

Yesterday we helped move Mary from her apartment to Joel’s house where her (their) stuff will remain in the garage for a couple of weeks.  When they return from their honeymoon, they’ll be moving again.  Joel sold his house (closing is tomorrow) and they will be renting a place until they decide where they are going to reside.  That pretty much kept us busy for the day yesterday.

On our way home we stopped by Barton Springs Recreation Area to see what would be available and guess what?  They have 42 sites with water and electric with forty-one of them occupied.  According to “Gummint” policy, if all of the non-handicapped sites are occupied then they can rent the handicapped sites out.  So we got the very last water and electric site which is a handicapped site.  We rented it for last night just to hold it even though we’re not moving over there until today.

There were plenty of sites without hook ups available for eight bucks a night which we would have taken since the campground is convenient to Tullahoma where the wedding will take place.  There are bath houses available that would enable us to dry camp for a week but we wanted the convenience of electric without having to fire up the generator (hair dryers require lots of power and are very much needed for wedding preparations).

So, today is our moving day (a lot easier than moving from sticks and bricks).  We’ll have some pictures of the campground and Normandy Lake in our next journal entry.  It’s really a pretty setting with beautiful views of the lake.  I’m sure we’ll be back to “camp” there again in the future, however, it is only open from April to November. 

Over the next few days our publishing maybe sporadic since: 1) we have sketchy Verizon air card coverage at best (no AT&T what-so-ever), and 2) we are going to be busy with wedding preparations over the next few days. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rainy Day, Cook Out, and Grand Daughter Time

It was a dark and damp night with a full moon breaking through the clouds.  The wolves were baying in the background while the sheep were crouching down in a tight circle for protection.  John and Marsha were hold up in a small cabin on the mountainside attempting to keep warm when all of a sudden . . . . .

Oh, wait a minute, that’s my other novel.  As you can see, we don’t have a whole lot to report on this morning.  Yesterday was a cool, damp, and rainy day which translates into a “stood inside day”.  Judy went over to Matt and Jackie’s to do the laundry while Brian and I watched a couple of movies.

Last evening we burned some burgers on the grill at Matt and Jackie’s which we brought inside to eat (too cool outside).  Judy made her famous potato salad and we, also, had some the best grilling beans that Duke could rustle up (he won’t give us the recipe though).

We sat with the grand daughters for awhile.  Kalina just loves her books, however, she doesn’t sit long enough for us to read them to her.  She’ll gather up four or five of them along with her teddy bear, blanket, and sippy cup and climbs up into what’s left of your lap.  She sips, she hugs her bear, she passes you one book after another, sips some more, puts her blanket on your shoulder, and puts her head down on it for 15 to 30 seconds before starting the routine all over again.  Yep, she is a wiggle worm!!!  And a busy one at that.

Catia is a budding artist.  She loves to draw, color, water paint, and anything else that encompasses her artistic creativity.  Oh yes, she does this on her computer as well.  She has our old Gateway desk model computer which Matthew has set up with her games and other software.  It’s fun to see how creative and talented a five year old can be.

We came home to watch a little “tele” before hitting the hay and with that, another day has passed us by.  Thanks for following along and we’ll see ya tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Rainy Shopping Day

It’s Tuesday already.  Cool weather has set into Middle Tennessee with showers in the forecast for each day.  It’s all remnants of Saturday’s severe weather pattern that plagued the eastern United States.  What can I say, it all comes with the territory.  “Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you!”

Brian moved in with us yesterday and will be staying with us for a few days before going to a hotel in Tullahoma on Thursday.  He has been having pain shooting down his left leg and has a hard time sitting for any period of time.  He can lay down or he can stand up but it hurts whenever he sits.  We think he has a pinched nerve and hopefully it can be treated without surgery.  In any event, it is tough getting him comfortable.

Yesterday was a shopping day, mainly for Brian.  Due to his handicaps he lives in an assisted living arrangement and “they” helped him pack for the trip.  Well, obviously “they” have never traveled before because “they” didn’t have a clue as to how or what to pack.  He didn’t have enough shirts or pants and needed several bath items as well.  So, it was off to Target in Mt. Juliet where we were able to get everything needed.

After a stop at Walmart for a few pantry items and a stop at Pilot to give the truck a drink of good ol’ #2 diesel, it was home for the evening.  We picked up a supreme pizza at Walmart and that was dinner (darned good pizza for nine bucks).  Later, we watched a movie then it was off to bed. 

The house is crowded, visitors come with lots of stuff – or when you live in a small house it certainly seems like a lot of stuff.  We are violating the rig’s capacity of:  “Six for cocktails, four for dinner, and sleeps two.”  Katie and Alex are letting us know about it.  They totally agree with Mark Twain (only with a little twist), “Fish and guests stink after three hours!”

However, it will be nice to have our entire family all together at one time.  That hasn’t happened since Matt and Jackie’s wedding back in August of 2002.  Life is, indeed, good!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chores, A Visit, and A Decision

Another day of nothing much.  We did chores, sat and read, and made a short visit with the grand kids.  They took Uncle Brian to the zoo (and brought him back), did a little sightseeing, and stopped off at Target before returning home around 7:00 PM.  We needed a munchkin fix so, even though it was our bed time, we drove over to see them.  The kids were hungry and tired, not a good combination for Patterson kids, so we only spent a half hour with them.

The big event for yesterday was shampooing all the carpeting in the RV.  It may be just a small house but that actually makes it a more difficult to do the carpets; it’s a tight fit and you can only do a small section at a time while moving the furniture back and forth. 

Matt and Jackie have a Hoover carpet cleaner which is far better than the Bissell that we had when we lived in sticks and bricks.  It seems to be heavier and the scrub brushes work a whole lot better.  We borrow it whenever we pass through the area and the carpets always look great when we are finished.

Remember back in January, while we were doing our Habitat for Humanity build, that I wrote about us being wimps?  Today we were going to move over to a Tennessee Valley Authority campground nearer to Tullahoma (where the wedding is to take place), however, a quick phone call revealed that we would be without cell phone coverage (AT&T), sketchy air card coverage (Verizon), and little to no television coverage.  Weeeell, that dawg just isn’t going to hunt, so we decided to “stay put” right here for another three days.  By the way, if you have the National Old Fogies Pass (America the Beautiful Senior Pass) then camping at TVA campgrounds is half price which would save us $10 a day but, we need our electronic toys.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Family Day

Yesterday was a family day.  Our son, Brian, arrived from Grand Rapids, Michigan and is staying with Matt and Jackie.  We made a baked spaghetti casserole for dinner and watched the Predators loose another game in the playoffs.  Grandma and Grandpa got to spend more time with the grand daughters; which is what the whole visit was about.

We did get a portion of the severe weather that passed through south but, it only consisted of a couple of thunder storms with heavy rain.  Whew, it sure was nasty on the south west side of us (in Mississippi).

This morning we’ll be going to church at the Wandering Chapel – in our PJ’s no less.  Matt and Jackie’s church televises their services so we can worship from the comfort of our recliners.

Well, that’s it for today from our rolling home.  Hope to see ya down the road.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nashville Katts

After breakfast at Cracker Barrel, we decided to head over to the Opry Land Mall in Nashville.  The Grand Ole Opry House is located there along with the Grand Ole Opry Museum and it had been a couple of years since we visited the museum.  The last time we went for a visit it was closed for renovations so we figured that we were due for a visit especially being that the museum was free.  Note the word “was”; it is no longer free but still well worth the $5.00 per person charge.

The museum is much smaller than the Country Music Hall of Fame but it is a whole lot more personal.  However, it is dedicated to the earlier “stars” of Museum Set the Opry.  People like Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff, Marty Robbins, Patsy Cline, etc. have individual displays.  The renovation eliminated one of our favorite displays which was a replica of a recording studio and replaced it with a hall recognizing the latest artists.  The tour finishes with a stop in the gift shop where I picked up a book of Minnie Pearls jokes; some fodder for the four o’clock social time at Rainbow Plantation next fall.

   DSCF1017 DSCF1019

The Grand Ole Opry began at the turn of the twentieth century when bluegrass musicians were looking for a venue to perform.  The National Life and Accident Insurance Company looking for an advertising tool began sponsoring the “Opry”.  In 1925 WSM (We Shield Millions) began broadcasting the WSM Barndance from the office building of National Life.  In 1927 the name was changed to the Grand Ole Opry when George Hay made this statement following the shows opening performance by DeFord Bailey; "For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from the Grand Opera, but from now on we will present the Grand Ole Opry".Grand Ole Opry House

The Opry performed at several venues over the years and in 1943 they acquired the Union Tabernacle naming it the Ryman Auditorium where they performed for the next 30 years.  In 1969 work began on a theme park east of Nashville which included a hotel and a new location for the Grand Ole Opry.  In the spring of 1974 the Opry moved into their new home which was named the Grand Ole Opry House.  The amusement park has since been replaced by a shopping mall but, the Grand Ole Opry Hotel and the Grand Ole Opry House are still going strong under the direction of Gaylord Entertainment.

   Grand Ole Opry House Grand Ole Opry House Campus

The old Ryman Theater, which is in downtown Nashville, is now a museum, however, the Opry does perform from there during the winter months when the Opry House hosts their annual Christmas show with the Rockettes.

   Ryman Auditorium Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl    

For more on our visits to the Nashville area see our December 2006, our October 2008, and our November 2008 travelogues on

To scratch the Mall itch, we took a walk around the Grand Ole Orpy Mall.  This is probably one of our favorite malls.  We made a stop at the Gibson Guitar factory which is located right in the mall.  We had hope to see some guitars in production but, unfortunately, it just wasn’t happening – maybe they’re closed on Fridays, we don’t know because we didn’t ask.  Anyway, while we were there we spent some time strumming a few guitars before leaving to finish our walk (I wish I had talent).  Can you imagine, we almost escaped the mall without breaking out the old wallet.  Judy did pick up a book by one of her favorite Christian fiction authors.

Once we returned home, we sat outside enjoying the great weather and doing a little reading.  Alex joined us for a little while until he got too hot and wanted back under the air conditioner.  The rest of the day was spent in our normal routine – recliners, computers, television, and beddy bye.  Until tomorrow . . . . .

Friday, April 23, 2010

Good Ol’ Rocky Top, Rocky Top, Tennessee

Well, here we be!!  Another uneventful travel day from Suncoast RV to Cedars of Lebanon.  We had a couple of light rain storms along the way but the roads stayed pretty much dry.  Arriving just after 1:00, we “sat up camp” and prepared ourselves some “Lupper”.Cedars of Lebanon

At a little after 5:00 we headed to Matt and Jackie’s house to get our Grand Daughter fix.  Jackie had classes last night and Matt had tickets to the Predators game.  The Predators are in the playoffs (or maybe I should say “were” as they lost last night).  Miss Judy and I stayed with the little Munchkins who were quite excited to see Grandma and Grandpa.

Princess Catia Kalina Coloring

So, what’s up for today?  I think we will start with breakfast at the Cracker Barrel in Lebanon, which was the very first Cracker Barrel – their corporate offices are located in Lebanon, Tennessee.  After breakfast we’ll just make things up as we go along.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On The Road Again, Again!!

Everything went right to plan yesterday morning.  We got up, had our coffee (can’t do a thing with this body without having coffee first), did our ‘puter stuff, and then started the getting underway routine.  There wasn’t much left to do, however, I had kept the ladder out of the shed so I could climb up and wax above the slideouts. 

With the checklist completed it was time to say, “See Ya Later” to a few of our neighbors.  First Ruth stopped by and then Gil and Orma stopped over  followed by Ron.  “Bye Guys!” Ron, Orma, and Gil

We made a stop at the office on our way out to settle our electric account and then “hit the road”.Hitting The Road Again

It was nice to be traveling again.  We get so entrenched in Rainbow Plantation that it is hard to pull ourselves away but, once we get our noses pointed down the road and feel the winds of freedom against our cheeks the excitement sets in.

The weather has been nothing short of fantastic over the past few weeks and it was a perfect travel day.  We had an uneventful trip, just the way we like them, and arrived at Suncoast RV just before two o’clock – a little too early to get off the road but a four and a half hour drive none the less.

It was wonderful to travel along and see the signs of spring springing up all around us.  The greens of spring flowing forth from the trees with the crisp blue sky as the back drop was just inspiring.  The picture doesn’t do it justice.DSCF0993

After arriving at Suncoast RV we picked up some rubber grommets for the racks on the stove at the parts store and then did a walk about looking at some new RVs.  There wasn’t a single one that jumped out and said, “Take me home!”  The 42’ Winnebago Tour that we saw here last December must have found a new home ‘cause it wasn’t anywhere to be found.  Oh well, maybe next time!  Where’s that darned stimulus check?The Parking Area at Suncoast RV

Suncoast RV parking area is level with 50amp full hook ups, however, there are a few drawbacks.  First of all, all the sites are back in which means that if you have a motorhome with a “toad” then you’ll have to unhook first.  Secondly, for those of us with fifthwheels most of the sites too short to leave the truck hooked up to the coach.  Thirdly, as you’ll notice in the next photo, it is right next to I-65 which means noise.See the highway in the background?

We stayed at the end of the parking area a way from the highway (the rig is very well insulated so we don’t hear much noise while we’re inside anyway).  There are two sites that we can back far enough into that we can leave the truck hooked up (motorhomes would still have to unhook the “toad”).  This is definitely not a destination park but, it is free with full hook ups and better than the average parking lot.

Today we’ll finish our trek north to Tennessee where we’ll be putting down our landing gear for a few days.  We’ll engage in “baby sitting” duties this evening with two adorable little munchkins.  And, with that, we’ll put the finishing touches on another “day in the life”.

By the way, “thank you” for your comments – we really appreciate them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A New Blog and A Day of Departure

Welcome to our new blog!!!  Finally, this blog is underway and, not just by coincidence, so are we.  Yesterday we finished readying everything for our summer road trip leaving us with just our routine travel day chores to accomplish this morning.  We utilize a checklist for our departures so nothing is forgotten.  After sitting for two and a half months it would certainly be easy to forget something, like lowering the antenna or securing the awning or putting the wife in the truck, etc..

Anyway, we welcome you to “Wandering America with Darrell and Judy Patterson”.  We are glad to have you “on board” with us and look forward to traveling together.  Today we’ll be heading out for just south of Birmingham, Alabama to Suncoast RV which is kind enough to provide free full hook ups with 50 amp electric for overnight travelers.  This is exactly half way between Rainbow Plantation and Cedars of Lebanon State Park which makes it extremely convenient for us.

We should arrive there somewhere around 3:00 PM which will give us a little time to kick a few tires on some new rigs.  Last December, on our way to spend Christmas with our grand daughters, we saw a nice 42’ Winnebago Tour that was screaming for us to take her home.  The problem was that our stimulus check hadn’t arrived – well, it still hasn’t arrived.  Obama must have forgotten us. 

This coach had a front kitchen and dinning area with a mid ship living room with a fireplace and entertainment center and plenty of seating.  This one definitely had the “It” factor.  Unfortunately we are not in the position to buy a new home but, it’s fun to look anyhow.

Well, folks, it’s time to hitch up the wagon and head out.  So we’ll see you later from Suncoast RV’s parking area.