Monday, July 12, 2010

OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE

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.  
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