Sunday, July 25, 2010


After leaving Cincinnati, we traveled about 280 miles to Shipshewana, Indiana, and stopped only one time to enjoy a picnic inside the motorhome. Just us and the truckers, and it was just too blasted hot to eat outside at one of the picnic tables! We were very happy to arrive safely at the Shipshewana Campground (South), a very clean campground almost in the middle of downtown, and conveniently located to many nice restaurants and Yoder's everything. There are many clues that you are about to arrive in northern Indiana such as peaceful meadows and farmlands as far as the eye can see. Shipshewana is a bustling village filled with shop-lined streets, specialty retailers and many home-style dining establishments.

The Amish in north-central Indiana are the third largest Amish community in the U.S, 20,000 plus. We thought they were friendly and talkative - at farmers markets, the bulk food store and other places they mingle with the English (what they call us). They mostly talk in a German dialect to each other, and English to us. You must respect their privacy as they go about their day to day life - like not photographing them (it is against their religious beliefs).

You must keep a sharp eye out for buggies as you crest hills and round corners. Not once did I notice a horse get spooked - the ones we saw seemed very well trained. Horse drawn buggies clattering down our street, men sporting suspenders and broad-brimmed straw hats, women clad in simple homemade dresses and modest bonnets, and children and babies that were extremely adorable were everywhere we went.

You didn't have to go very far from where we were staying to see the Amish are skilled and disciplined entrepreneurs. At farmers markets and other outlets they sell some of the region's best food, heirloom-quality quilts, furniture and other handcrafted items. The Shipshewana Flea Market, open only on Tuesday and Wednesday, was a hoot to attend, and impossible to see everything! Amish ladies were selling the most delicious baked goods I've seen anywhere - the fried pies were made in front of us, and were delicious. Think Webster, FL on Monday, and multiply that times 10 - no joke!

You better get all your shopping done on Saturday, because the town is closed on Sundays! On Sunday we enjoyed a ride through the country over to Sturgis, MI to guess where?! WalMart!!

We enjoyed visiting some unusual museums - like the Hostetler's Hudson Auto Museum - the most complete private collection of Hudsons in the world! We couldn't believe our eyes!

Later in the week RV and Ray went to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, IN, and said it was one of the most unbelievable automobile collections they had ever seen. One of the cars on display was formerly owned by Frank Lloyd Wright and was absolutely incredible.  RV said the collection of Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs were one of the highlights of this trip as far as he was concerned.  The ACD Museum is located next door to the National Automotive and Truck Museum.  Unfortunately, RV and Ray ran out of time and were unable to view the truck collection.

Because there are so many small towns of significance around this area, we spent an afternoon in Elkhart, IN, at the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum and Library. It was interesting to see so many classic trailers, RV's and memorabilia about Rving.  One of the RV's on display was formerly owned by Mae West, well known actress who made the transition from vaudeville to movies.  We are almost certain that we may have seen the travel trailer that Ricky and Lucy drove across the country!  Do you remember that movie?

After lunch, we left Elkhart to travel over to Wakarusa, IN, a charming town with one of the most unusual hardware stores with its "wall of 1,000 drawers, in business since 1904. And we walked through the Wakarusa's Dime Store, with over 300 nostalgic candies, serving customers since 1903. The Dime Store has the biggest jelly beans anywhere as well as wax lips and wax moustaches which we bought for our grandchildren. On our way home we drove through Nappannee, IN, home of many RV manufacturing plants like Newmar and Gulf Stream,  to name a few. It is also the home of Amish Acres, a historic 80 acre farm, giving you the opportunity to buy Shoofly pie, raisin bread, cherry strudel and sugar cookies (to name a few) made in their kitchen daily.

We're finding we have to pace ourselves. There is so much to see and do. The weather is absolutely beautiful, and most of the evenings we sit outside and enjoy a cool breeze. This is definitely an area we plan to return to - the people make it enjoyable as well as the bounty from the farms all around us. Prices of produce and groceries seem very reasonable to us and not having to pay tax on food was quite a perk.

This trip has given us an opportunity to get to know a group of people we didn't know as much about before. We had visited Lancaster, PA, several years ago, so we were somewhat familiar with the Amish.  In Shipshewana we visited the Menno-Hof Amish-Mennonite Visitor's Center for a very interesting non-commercial explanation and tour to learn accurate information about the Anabaptists (Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites) and their community, beliefs and history. The tour lasted over 2 hours, and we felt more informed about the simplicity and spirituality of the Amish culture and religion.


As we mentioned in the last blog, we are traveling with the DeCarlo's and have seen many interesting things.   When I sat down to write our blog today everything on the blog was 
 lime green.  Yeek!  All I could think is "What is going on?"  The text is there; however, the background was a sickening green, and I was sick too..  I've heard horror stories from others about things that have happened to their blogs, and although you try to be very careful, it isn't possible to protect everything.  So that's why the appearance has changed - until I can find out what is going on.   

The beautiful State of Kentucky is a state we'd like to visit again for a longer period of time.  We said that  last year when we visited Bardstown,  Bowling Green,  Elizabethtown,  Louisville, and other interesting cities and towns.  After a few enjoyable days, we're ready to leave Renfro Valley, and travel 150 miles north to Cincinnati, Ohio.   RV and I enjoyed going to the Great American Ball Park, Paul Brown Stadium, and the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.  We would have stayed in Lexington, KY, where so many beautiful equestrian farms are located; however, Indiana beckons and we're impatient to arrive in Amish Country.   Lexington is preparing for  the 2010 Alltech FEI Equestrian Games beginnning September 30, 2010, at the Kentucky Horse Farm and surrounding area, and it will be impossible to get reservations anywhere.  

One of the photos is of the Frish's Big Boy!  Didn't impress anyone but me, I guess.  It had been years since I had seen that little fellow...and Big Boy's are all over Ohio.  So we splurged and enjoyed Big Boys and onion rings!  Tourists!  Has anyone ever heard of Cincinnati chili?!  Cincinnati chili is a most unconventional chili sold in several restaurants up here....with lots of cheese on top.  The most popular place to get it seems to be Skyline Chili - located everywhere in Cincinnati.  Do you like chocolate, nutmeg or spaghetti in your chili....guess we'll have to try it; apparently there are many choices.  Please follow the link above if interested.   

We stayed a couple of days in the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) Campground in Cincinnati, OH.  FMCA is the national  organization that many RVers belong because they cherish the same lifestyle we enjoy, or  they may just be adventuresome and curious folks.  You must own a Class A, B, or C motorhome, or a bus conversion, that contain all the conveniences of home.  We decided to stay in their campground, with full hookups, at the FMCA Headquarters (at their bulk mail facility location) and found it to be very convenient to travel downtown as well as shop in the area surrounding the township of Newtown. You can stay in the campground for 2 nights free (per month) and $20 per night thereafter.  They offer level sites, full hookups, security, as well as convenience to major shopping areas.  

FMCA publishes a very interesting and educational magazine for members and I recently submitted a response to the question "What's the best Italian restaurant you've discovered in your motorhome travels that you would recommend to other RVers?"  Wow, was I shocked!!...they picked mine!  Put an extra $25 in my wallet - I wrote about Trattoria de Ricatoni's on Court Street in Florence, Alabama, and it was published in the June issue.   As George Miller once quipped, "The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later, you're hungry again."  Amen.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


We enjoyed lunch where it all began!  Colonel Harland Sanders' original restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken.  What do you think we ordered?  Hello....Delicious dublicious Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Colonial Harland Sanders began his career in a small gasoline service station.  Born on 9/9/1890, near Henry ville, IN, Harland left school at the age of 12 to support his family.  Some of the jobs he held were farmhand, soldier, railroader, secretary, insurance salesman, and ferryboat operator until 1930 when he came to Corbin, KY.  He moved his family behind the gas station and started pumping gasoline.  This was the main route to Florida from the north.  During the Great Depression he augmented his income by preparing and selling meals to tourists.  His food was tasty and his career as a restauranteur began.

In 1956 plans were announced for a Federal highway to by-pass Corbin.  Sanders, age 66, sold the restaurant and started traveling America selling seasoning, and his recipe for fried chicken to other restaurants.  His success in this effort led him to begin the world's largest commercial food service system and made Kentucky a household word around the world.

The Colonel rebuilt his cafe and part of the motor court in 1940.  The restaurant has been carefully restored and has been placed on the National Register of Historical Places.  Everything is an exact replica of how it actually looked in the 1940's.  You actually see the open kitchen as well as an exact replica of what a motel room looked like in the model motel.  There were exhibits featuring the Colonel's artifacts and memorabilia from the early days at Kentucky Fried Chicken.    Part of his marketing genius was to show what a room would look like so the "lady of the house" might check it out before checking in.  In an effort to show quality, he installed a wall phone in the closet of each room.  

While Corbin, KY appears to be a very urban city  of almost 18,000 in their last census, we were amazed at the amount  of coal being transported through town - looked like hundreds of train cars.  Where some cities have central logos in their downtown area sprinkled throughout their commercial districts, it seemed like CSX trains have had a definite impact on the City of Corbin.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Bad weather and much needed rain began moving into the area where we were staying.  We had planned to return to Berea, about 20 miles from Renfro Valley and visit the Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant of Berea College.  The college actually owns and operates the hotel - somewhat similar to the College of the Ozarks Keeter Center in Hollister, Missouri.  The schools are similar in many ways.  Students attending Berea are required to work a minimum 10 hours a week (for books and tuition), while students at the College of the Ozarks (University of Hard Work) in Hollister, MO, work 20 hours per week.  

We had been told that if the opportunity presented itself, to be sure to try the famous spoonbread.  The Boone Tavern Restaurant serves traditional favorites and new Southern Cuisine.  Every dish is the freshest and healthiest foods from the Berea College Farm, and locally grown Kentucky products.   

We were told about the recent multi-million dollar renovation of the 100 year old Boone Tavern Hotel and that the hotel has earned the distinction of being the first LEED-certified hotel in Kentucky, as recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).  This seemed like quite an important designation to us, considering the size of the facility.  They recycle paper, plastic, aluminum, all in partnership with Berea College.  Restaurant waste is composted at the Berea College Farm.  Bicycles are provided for guests.  Guest amenities are free of petrol-derived ingredients and have low weight packaging to reduce waste.  "Green" cleaning products are used throughout the hotel.  Smoking is not allowed within fifty feet of the hotel.  The list goes on and on; however, when you talk to the student personnel working throughout the hotel they confirm this. 

Although it rained most of the day, we enjoyed the Boone Tavern Hotel  as well as the shops in the area.  Before leaving Berea, we went through Old Town.  While I was enjoying talking to some of the craftsmen, RV had a haircut (isn't that where you can always learn about what is really going on in every community).  


On our way north to Michigan, we thought Renfro Valley, KY, would be a convenient base for a couple of days.  The RV Campground is very convenient to the interstate and from all we read it was quite the "happening" place.  Although the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center is known as "Kentucky's Country Music Capital", it doesn't happen from Sunday to Tuesday.   Guess what days we're staying there?!  We noticed the area was not very crowded and the story we got was that the original owners passed away within a year of each other, and it took a while for their only daughter to decide whether to continue the business her parents started.  As a result of a slow economy, the music entertainment business has suffered as well.  Although there are about 114 total RV sites, we saw less than 20 RV's since we arrived.  It appealed to us because they advertised live Country Music shows, unique shopping villages, 2 restaurants, festivals and special events.  They still advertise that Loretta Lynn, George Jones, The Oak Ridge Boys, Jamey Johnson, Charley Pride, Ronnie McDowell and more are coming, just not when we're there.   We planned on going to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, located next to our campground, but guess what.....they are also closed Sunday through Tuesday.  

Sunday was the final day of the 29th Berea Craft Festival, about 20 miles north of Renfro Valley, a huge annual festival  held at their historic Indian Fort Theater.  The Festival featured over 115 top artists from 20 states, strolling musicians and folk dancers.  We were vaguely familiar with Berea College, founded in 1855, as the first interracial and coeducational college in the South.  Berea is known as the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky largely because of the presence of Berea College studio artists.  In just a short time it became obvious to us that the town of Berea is a thriving community of artists, students, and progressively-minded individuals committed to community, creativity, social justice and environmental responsibility.  We enjoyed the Craft Festival very much and the weather was perfect.

After we left the Craft Festival we went to the Kentucky Artisan Center, a 25,000 square foot Kentucky limestone facility just off I-75, north of Berea.  We were star-struck at this facility that featured hand-blown glass vases, pewter ornaments, hand-thrown pottery bowls and mugs, colorful quilts, hand-woven baskets, whimsical garden creatures and all kinds of jewelry, as well as books, music, and specialty foods .... all made in Kentucky.

We'll return to Berea in a few days to visit the historic Boone Tavern Hotel, the first Green-Certified hotel in Kentucky!  

Monday, July 12, 2010


After spending the afternoon in Oak Ridge, TN, it was time to lighten up a bit.  Not only was it a bit depressing, but to make matters worse, we went through the American Museum of Science & Energy (AMSE) at about the same time 70 teenagers from Nashville were enjoying a field trip.  So we felt very fortunate to have made it out alive.  There was little, if any, supervision of these young people by the adults
accompanying them or the museum staff.  

After breakfast the following day we went shopping in an Amish market we found the day before and bought several items such as  thick sliced bacon cured in a special way, organic black/purple tomatoes (supposedly lower in acidity), and bulk almonds.  Louise bought some  fresh corn and prepared it for us that evening while it was still steaming from her infrared oven.  I still regret not buying some of the biggest blackberries I've ever seen. 

Our visit to the Museum of Appalachia, Norris, TN, was very interesting.  In fact, I was telling RV it was probably one of the few places we've visited where we should plan to go back again and  spend more time.  So much to see, as well as animals all over the sheep, goats, horses, cows, peacocks, chickens (all kinds), turkeys, and ducks.  There were probably many more animals, but we didn't see them all.  Southern Appalachia and East Tennessee is so rich in our country's history, and the founder of this museum, John Rice Irwin, wanted to express his love of these people and the remote hills and isolated hollows of Southern Appalachia.  He has located and purchased many interesting items, unusual mountain relics and explains why they were important to this region.  Everyday articles that they used, mended, made and cherished are on display and make it so much easier to understand their rich culture and heritage.

The museum has been open since the late 1960s, and has grown to 65 acres, including dozens of authentic log structures, a large Display Building, an extensive Craft and Gift shop, a restaurant, the Mountain Heritage Room, the Appalachian Hall of Fame Building, the People's Building, and over a quarter million items.  The founder's intention was to make all the dwellings appear as if the family had just strolled down to the spring to fetch their daily supply of water.   While we were at the museum there were musicians performing in different areas of the property.

Every year the Museum of Appalachia hosts a Tennessee Fall Homecoming and this year will be the 31st anniversary.  The 2010 Homecoming will be October 8-10, and this one ought to be another great year.  The Homecoming is so interesting it has been chosen to be in the Top 20 Events of the Southeast Tourism Society.  Just a few things they will do this year are:  More than 175 mountain activities, old time crafts, artisans, country cooking and more.  Five stages featuring hundreds of old time mountain folk, gospel, tradiational and bluegrass musicians, plus buck dancers and cloggers; sheep herding with border collies; old-time one-cylinder engines, antique tractors, and other early contrivances, plus hundreds of other unusual and entertaining activities.   We enthusiastically recommend this museum to everyone.  Not only is it a "hoot", it is extremely interesting and educational!

About mid-morning the following day we were ready to move in a northerly direction toward Kentucky where we are looking forward to a couple of days in "Kentucky's Country Music Capital", Renfro Valley, where we plan to stay in their full-service RV Park.  


You may recall our trip to Chattanooga, TN, Bardstown, KY (the Bourbon Trail), and Louisville, KY last year.  We were with our friends Ray and Louise DeCarlo, who live in Davenport, FL.  We are on another adventure with Ray and Louise, and we'd like for you to know them a little better.  Ray and Louise have been married almost 55 years.  They are originally from Long Island, NY (and speak the language very well).  Louise graduated from St. Johns University and worked at Bellevue Hospital while Ray graduated from City College of New York (CCNY), and was an engineer for over 40 years, and retired from Lockheed Martin.  We met Ray and Louise through Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), where they have had their membership since 1988.  We could not be with a couple who knows more about where to go, what to do, and how to do it right the first time.  We plan to share our experiences as we travel in the next month with Ray and Louise and their wonder dog, Abby.

Ray and Louise drove up from Florida and met us at Apple Valley Motorcoach Resort in Lake Lure, NC, to begin our adventure.  We stayed in Lake Lure a couple of days to talk about our trip, and Ray has prepared an itinerary that would knock your socks off!!!  If you are reading this, and you know our on-site engineer and navigator, Ray, you are not surprised to hear this.   We would be remiss if we didn't thank our good friends Jim and Joyce Maddox, who made it possible for us to meet Ray and Louise and plan our trip from the beautiful Apple Valley Motor Coach Resort.  

Before leaving, we had an opportunity to have lunch in Hendersonville, NC with Susan Lohman Lanahan, our high school friend who lives in Etowah, NC, and were able to catch up on the things happening in her life as well as ours.  Susan brought a vase of beautiful roses and  some hand-picked blue lake string beans fresh out of her garden, which we enjoyed immensely that night for dinner.

On Friday, we departed Lake Lure, NC, and drove slightly less than 200 miles to a city north of Knoxville, Heiskell, TN, to see a couple of interesting sights in the area.  After parking the coach, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in Oak Ridge, TN.  Oak Ridge was known as the Secret City, sight of The Manhattan Project, and while we were aware of its existence, we knew very little.  The Manhattan Project's Clinton Engineer Works (CEW), is nestled in a valley in eastern Tennessee, 20 minutes from Knoxville, and was kept a secret from the entire world.  

The year was 1942.  The 3,000 residents were moved from their communities of Scarboro, Wheat and Robertsville, and within a month, their homes and businesses were destroyed and replaced by a bustling secret city, with unprecedented speed and secrecy.  Even the 75,000 residents and 82,000 workers had no idea what they were doing to help end WWII.  Everyone knew of only their specific job, and it wouldn't be until the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima that they realized what they were working to create.  Anyone over the age of 12 was required to wear a badge at all times, where children got lost coming home from school because new streets and houses were added to their neighborhoods during the day, and the average age of the population was 27.

We spent quite a bit of our time in Oak Ridge at the American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) which offers a history of Oak Ridge and all types of hands-on exhibits.  We didn't have any idea, for example, radioisotopes, which led to the technology of CAT scans and MRI's were developed in Oak Ridge.  Of course the security has changed in the Oak Ridge area to where you can now take a bus to get a sneak peak behind the fence at the Y-12 National Security Complex.  This year was the first time visitors could tour the first building completed at the Y-12 site, Building 9731.  This is the building where the Medical Isotope program had its beginning when Dr. Chris Keim determined Calutrons could be used to separate isotopes other than uranium.  Get this:  The world's only Alpha Calutron Magnets (20 feet tall) are in this building! If you plan to visit in the future you can also visit  the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Graphite Reactor) (wartime name X-10), the Y-12 National Security Complex and the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) (wartime name - K-25).  Oh, and don't forget to bring your proof of citizenship.  

Our next blog will be about our trip to the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee, a 65 acre display of log structures, and over a quarter million items.   Hope you are having a wonderful summer.  

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


CONSTERNATION - What I felt last night when it was time to place the final picture in this blog and my entire blog disappeared.  I don't have a clue what happened, but I had everything arranged "just right".  We are in the mountains of North Carolina and I only have a cell signal in the wee hours of the morning when I hold my mouth right, and maybe you know how satellite signals can just disappear and re-appear out of nowhere - could that have happened?  I am not able to use my Verizon air card, but we are fortunate that Apple Valley has a WiFi they allow us to use while we are visiting.  And when I thought I was saving my work, it had gone away, like "buh, bye?!"   I felt like crying when I realized everything had gone to alphabet heaven; however, RV had already gone to bed and there was no sense in a first class pity party.

We're going to continue this blog as if we're on the way back to Green Cove Springs, FL,  for our oldest daughter's (Kristen) 40th surprise birthday party, because after the last entry we traveled a few days back to Florida before the actual party.  A highlight on our way back turned out to be in Ozark, Alabama, home of Ft. Rucker Army Base, as well as the Ft. Rucker Army Aviation Museum.  This is the primary training facility for Army helicopter pilots.  The designers of the aviation museum did a fantastic job recognizing the role of the United States Army in our country's aviation history.  This museum is a must-see for anyone traveling through the area.  Little did we know so much history was on display, and it was extremely interesting.  Several photos are posted.

We enjoyed staying in the Ozark Travel Park in Ozark, AL, and were surprised to see so many families in  motorhomes, travel trailers, and fifth wheels who were in some way connected to Ft. Rucker.  There was  an area of the park away from the "travelers" where it appeared as if retirees were living.  Their sites were neat, orderly  and were adorned with an assortment of patriotic flags.  In the past we have enjoyed being in areas where military families camp because they are usually very friendly and considerate.   This was definitely a campground we would visit again.

We traveled 294 miles to hot and steamy St. Augustine, FL, at the Stagecoach Campground, where we would be have a few days to help with advance party preparations, retrieve our mail, hair appointments, doctor's appointments, and visit our favorite shrimp restaurant, O'Steens, in St. Augustine.  The party was a huge success....Kristen was surprised to the bone, of course the party was 3 weeks before her actual birthday.   DUH!  While we were in Green Cove Springs we enjoyed going to Kiley and Kenzie's first dance recital on Saturday afternoon.  After we got home, and the girls had taken off their ballet costumes  Khloe (2 years old) went into the bedroom and quietly put on the entire outfit by herself - shoes, tiara and gloves ...oh, and a big handbag (just like her mom and I), and paraded around the house.  In just a few short weeks they seemed to have grown so much...think we had about 20 tea parties that week!

Our grandson, Kenneth, 11, was in a baseball tournament in Ft. White, Florida, and we had an opportunity to go over one extremely hot day to see him play.  We felt so sorry for those little fellows on the ball field.   It just so happens that Kiley was in a fashion show in Jacksonville at the same time Kenneth was playing a ball game.    The fashion show was enjoyable and gave us an opportunity to enjoy lunch afterward.  We love to go visit, but we are exhausted when we leave.  They lead such an active lifestyle with 4 children.  We enjoy visiting and have a 50 amp hookup for the coach if we choose to stay in the coach; however, there is a nicely appointed garage apartment with a kitchen and private bath.  No matter where we choose to stay, we usually have a few little guests.  Also, they know we have lots of snacks like yogurt, apples and occasionally bags of M&M's.

It is very sad when we leave our family so we try to leave when no one is around so Kristen and I don't make a big scene.  We're now on our way to the cool and scenic mountains of North Carolina.  I say we're chasing 70 degrees!  We stopped for a few days in Franklin, NC, and visited with my sister who has been renovating her home for almost 2 years.  It is beautiful and is located on the Cullasaja River, on Highlands Road, (US 64). We didn't notice any traffic noise because all you hear are the rapids of the river outside the back door.  The house, a 2 story log home, has a real waterwheel, 2 huge trees growing through the decks of both porches, and all you want to do is sit back and enjoy all that nature has to offer.  The second story is a beautiful and separate furnished 2 bedroom apartment, also with a large porch overlooking the scenic Cullasaja River - imagine yourself tubing down the river or trout fishing off the deck of the porch.  RV stayed at The Great Outdoors in Franklin, NC, with the coach each night allowing my sister and I to enjoy several nights of marathon talking.  We even made homemade applesauce out of mountain apples!  We brought her over to spend the night with us in Lake Lure, NC. The following day we drove her back to Franklin, NC and enjoyed traveling through several small towns on our return trip.  You see so many unusual things in the mountains and I'm going to post a couple of our favorite pictures: