Archives for August 2013

Rocky’s First Owners and Where Rocky was Made

After we left Illinois, we headed for the Winnebago factory in Forest City, Iowa. On the way, though, we made a stop to see Rocky’s first owners and their sweet family.


Couldn’t have had a better experience buying Rocky from these two! They took such good care of it, that even though it was three years old when we got it, it seemed like new inside and out. We had a lovely visit, meeting them and some of their family at Pizza Ranch—yum! Afterward, they graciously invited us to their house and then came out to Rocky to tell it hi. We were parked at Backbone State Park nearby.




We met this sweet family when we drove out to Iowa in March to buy Rocky—Sue was helping her parents with the sale while they were away. It was so great to see them again—come out to visit us, friends, when we land again in Colorado!


Typical Iowa scenery in this area. I found the farms surrounded by fields of corn peaceful and inviting. (Sorry about the messy picture—I think Rocky’s windows were needing a wash…)


The captain of our ship….heading north to Forest City, home of Winnebago.


Winnebago is kind of a big deal in Forest City. The factory, visitors center, and repair shop are all right here. We needed a few repairs done on Rocky and didn’t know until a couple weeks before that you usually have to book a service appointment two months in advance. So we showed up and got on the waitlist. We arrived on a Wednesday and completed our form requesting our service items. Once submitted, no additional items can be requested (and there is a limit of 7 service items). After our requests were reviewed, we were told to come back first thing in the morning. Meanwhile, we explored the museum and learned about the history of Winnebago. Local businessmen started the company, manufacturing travel trailers, back in the 1950s as a way to revitalize ailing Forest City. In 1966 the first motorhome rolled off the assembly line and the 1970s were a boom for the company. How many of you had one or more of these lovely colors in your home in the 70s?


Here’s one of their first motorhomes:




Not really. But this is:



We also took a tour of the factory. This is the bus we rode to get on the factory grounds and to get between buildings on the factory grounds. I include it because it is really the only picture of the tour I was allowed to take!


We had some good discussions later about the differences between what we saw here at Winnebago and at the Tiffin factory in Alabama. Both excellent RV manufacturers, but different feel and style. Back at the service center, when we checked in the next morning, we were told to check back at 1pm, when the center opens after lunch break. We did, and were told to check in again at 5 pm. We did, and were told to check in at 7:30 Friday morning. WITH the RV—gotta be a good sign, right? So Chad took the RV over, the kids and I went out for breakfast, then took all of our school books and supplies to the tiny little library, where we tried to do school. I think we threw the librarian completely off—I’m guessing not many people homeschool in Forest City. We picked Chad up for lunch at Subway (Rocky HAD gotten in—thankful!!), then “explored” the town. This meant walking around the courthouse and driving around the town. Not a whole lot else to see!


We made it back to the service center in time to wait until right before close of business to hear that Rocky was finished. By that time, and since it was Labor Day weekend and there were NO campgrounds anywhere with openings, we decided to take advantage of the fine visitors center parking lot we’d been docked in while we waited for service. It’s free for customers, and includes electricity! (It was SO hot—probably the hottest we’ve been on the trip—so we were thankful for the electricity and A/C!) For water, we just had to drive across the street to the rally grounds to fill up. We had plenty of company in the “campground”:



We were happy to find a lovely bike trail at a park nearby, including a suspension bridge we rode over the river on. The bike path went past the rally grounds, which had a small stage area and bleachers. When our kids see a stage, what do they do? A play, of course!! So we got in on several spontaneous productions (Three Little Pigs variation and then Anne of Green Gables). Love their creativity.

We had a bit of a “run-in” with the bikes involving a car wash, bikes on the top of the car and a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right before entering the car wash, so Chad spent much of Sunday straightening some bike rack rails and duct-taping a bike seat that got shredded.

Monday, Labor Day, we headed for Des Moines, where there were finally campsites available!


Illinois Family


We camped at the Carl Spindler campground near Peoria, and it worked out really well, although the first night we arrived too late and had to sleep in their parking lot.  It was near town and mostly full of longtime residents, but it was quiet and we were comfortable there.


The view from our site.



We enjoyed a steak dinner and baseball by the lake out in the country with the cousins.


Illinois has pretty sunsets!





You can’t tell it here, but Annie the Beagle has quite the entertaining personality…


Chad made a fine jungle gym.



I celebrated my birthday (these are my bday flowers) while we were here, and on the actual day, I took the kids to Springfield to visit the Abraham Lincoln Home and Museum. We first took a tour of the home where the family lived before Lincoln left for Washington; where he raised his children and got his start in politics.



Many of the items in the home are original, including this sofa—Lincoln actually sat here!


Mary’s bedroom. Many visitors on our tour seemed to think the carpet and wallpaper in the different rooms were gaudy, but I kind of liked it! Better than plain white, for sure!


Mary did her own cooking and was thrilled to get this stove. Sadly for her, they bought it only a short time before the move to Washington, so she didn’t get much use out of it.


We got in on a very interesting talk by a “real” Civil War soldier! He asked Sweet Pea to help him set up.


He went through his whole bag of goodies, item by item, explaining what the soldiers would have carried and why.


We then toured the museum, which is one of our favorite places we’ve been. They don’t allow pictures, except in these few areas below.


You almost can’t tell which are my kids and which are the Lincoln’s! Well, maybe the tie-dye gives it away… Watch out for John Wilkes Booth back there on the left!


The museum’s exhibits are extremely well-done, from Lincoln’s time as a boy in Kentucky, all the way through the tragic way his life ended. Two multimedia presentations are included in the admission and use amazing special effects—very entertaining as well as educational.



My favorite part of the museum is their special collections area, where they rotate exhibit items. The last time we were there several years ago, we got to see one of Lincoln’s beaver pelt top hats, complete with two worn spots his fingers had made from all the times he tipped his hat. Love that! This time, we saw an original manuscript of the Gettysburg Address.


This little friend set up her home near our passenger side mirror and stayed the whole time we were there. When we drove away, I thought I saw her flying off, but then when we got to our next destination, she was back! Strange….



Getting to Grandma’s

On the way from Indiana to our destination near Peoria, IL, we took in one more quick National Park site—Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. We parked Rocky at the visitor’s center and dashed off in the Mazda to see as much as we could see (and hopefully complete a Junior Ranger program) in a few hours!


The visitor center had an area behind it with beautiful native grasses and plants.


Checking out Lake Michigan…it’s a little cooler than the ocean at Myrtle Beach!

When Spunky Monkey was two and we visited Chicago six years ago, he took it upon himself to try to fill in Lake Michigan with sand from the beach.


It’s a big job. He’s still at it.




We couldn’t stay long enough for him to get much done, but at least we can say we saw Lake Michigan. We needed to get to the season’s last open tour of the Quaking Bog. None of us had seen a bog before, so we knew we were in for a treat.


Once inside the gates of the bog, we had to stay on floating walkways. We could hear and feel the oozy, slimy ground squishing below our steps as we walked. The sphagnum moss makes a thin cover over portions of the bog, but never thick enough to trust, and the bog is quite deep in places. The rangers told stories of very old bodies (2000+ years) that have been found in bogs around the world, either fully or partially preserved, because of the acidity of the water, the moderate temperatures and the lack of oxygen. Some say this is where the term “boogey man” comes from…derivation of “boggy man” or that perhaps parents of children living near bogs made up the concept of a boogey man living in the bogs to scare children from playing near them and risking falling in.


We saw carnivorous plants! Here is the Pitcher Plant, which traps bugs by attracting them with bright colors and perhaps a bit of nectar. When the insect lands, the surface of the plant is slippery, and the soon-to-be dinner falls into the “pitcher” and is trapped in the liquid at the bottom. Some pitchers have downward-pointing “hairs” inside to ensure the insect can’t crawl back up and out.


Sundew gets its meals by using a combination of sticky “flypaper” and extremely fast tentacles that actually grow in response to prey, trapping the insect in a gooey cage.


The third insectivore at the bog is the bladderwort, which the Ranger was kind enough to dredge from the bog for us to take a look at:


This one uses bulbs (bladders) which have trigger hairs on their hinged “doors”. When an insect touches these hairs, the bulb creates a vacuum by pumping out ions (the water then follows by osmosis) and the insect is sucked inside and digested.

What amazingly creative ideas God has!!

The sweetest part of the bog was the wild blueberries that were growing there. We enjoyed sampling after the Rangers suggested it.


They were tiny, but oh-so-sweet!



A quick drawing of some trees for the Junior Ranger program, and we were off to the historic farm. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is an unusual combination of locations to visit. The bog was a 30-minute drive through town from the visitor center. In addition to the NPS managing part of the area, the state and the county also have sections they manage. So there is more to navigate than in most NPS sites we’ve visited.



Whew!! That was one whirlwind Junior Ranger program completion!


Only a couple more hours to Peoria!


After lots of views like this, and a tour through Chicago’s southside, thanks to a wonky GPS, we arrived in Metamora, IL to see Grandma, Aunt Beckie, Uncle Jim, and cousins!! We had a wonderful time there, catching up with family, celebrating my birthday with a date for Chad & I, shopping with Grandma & Aunt Beckie and escaping the heat in the pool.


Ohio and Indiana

Before we left the Cincinnati area, we had the pleasure of meeting friends at a park for the day. Sweet Pea met a sweet new friend at the Answers in Genesis conference VBS and they hit it off right away.


She and her family live a couple hours from Cincinnati and were so kind to drive in and spend the day with us at the park. The kids had a great time playing in the splash park, even though it was an unseasonably cool day, and we had a picnic lunch.


Then our friends taught us about geocaching! Here’s what we learned: get the geocaching app on your iPhone (try the free one first until you’re sure it’ll stick), find a cache you are interested in, then navigate using your iPhone or GPS to find it! Caches are “treasures” hidden by other geocachers and logged onto the website for others to find. They can be various sizes of containers which are hidden in public areas (they just can’t be buried). Inside is a log for visitors to write their names and the date on and sometimes little gifts (trinkets and toys, stickers, etc.) that can be exchanged if the visitor brings and leaves an item in the cache. We went on a hike with our friends to find a couple of caches, then spent the rest of the day back at the park playground and pond. It was great to get to know this like-minded and fun family and we hope they’ll come see us in Colorado someday!


The day after our visit, we headed north. First stop was Lexis-Nexis, near Dayton. Chad worked for Lexis-Nexis from Colorado for 8 years (his last “normal” job) and wanted to check in with some former colleagues and interview their innovation director. The kids and I had lovely time waiting in the RV in the parking lot right along the employee walking path. It was fun to watch people’s reactions to an RV parked there. Some totally ignored us, some turned around looking at it and talking about it, and some looked in the windows until they saw we were in there. Winking smile


After our pit-stop at Lexis, we drove north for an overnight at Van Wert, Ohio, to see good family friends for dinner, then spent the night at the most pleasant Walmart we’ve visited. It was quiet, super clean, full of semi-trucks, and we had sweet little birds chirping around our camper through the evening (yes, I notice these things…).


The next day, we made it to Indiana Amish country—Nappanee. Chad met some folks at the RV Safety conference he attended before we left Colorado who had some gorgeous custom furniture made by this Amish craftsman in Indiana. When we determined we might be traveling through the area, Chad quickly drew up well-thought-out plans for a desk/shoe shelf for Carlyle at Focal Wood Products, and voila, several weeks later, we arrived at his house to have it installed!


I don’t have a specific “before” picture, but here’s the desk that was there. We left it with Carlyle.


I’m sure he blessed someone dear with it.




We spent the weekend in the area and had planned to visit Amish Acres, but when we asked Carlyle what he thought of it, he just shrugged and said “It’s commercialized.” He said the Amish don’t work there and it isn’t owned by Amish, and suggested that if we want an authentic Amish experience, to attend the Haystack Supper that night. He said “There will be other people like you there.” We thought that sounded just right, so we found the auction house out in the middle of the corn fields where it was held, parked the Mazda near the row of black carriages and horses, and joined in! We had the best time—delicious haystacks, sat across from the dearest older couple and chatted with them, watched the auction afterward—amazing assortment of products from garden hoses to a box of potatoes. It was a fundraiser for the Amish special education.



The service line. I did ask ahead of time about taking pictures, and one of them told me as long as I didn’t ask anyone to pose for a picture, it would be okay. I’m not so sure the little boy on the right is okay with it though…didn’t notice him until just now. Maybe I should have asked him.


Delicious haystack—rice, crushed tortilla chips, taco meat, lettuce, tomato, salsa, crushed Doritos, cheese, onions and olives optional.


Uh oh, someone’s not wearing her bonnet!



The guys checking out the generator-powered ice cream maker. It sure made delicious ice cream!


Before we left town, the kids and I took a lovely drive through the hilly, green, corn-lined countryside roads to Goshen, where my cousin and aunt and uncle live, and we had a lovely little visit with them.


We stayed at the Pla-mor Campground in nearby Bremen.



Next, it was on to see Grandma!!


The Creation Museum

creation flower







We spent two days at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, just outside of Cincinnati. We had heard so many wonderful things about it from friends who had visited and we weren’t disappointed. It was very well done, visually and mentally stimulating, and just fun. I’ll post a few pics, but the best way to experience it is to visit it yourself! Get there if you can—someday! It’s worth it.




This was one of my favorite exhibits—The Garden of Eden (with a penguin Smile).

Another was this one, about the supposed link between humans and apes. While earning my biology degree at a very liberal college, I got plenty of education on Evolution. Lucy, as she is affectionately called, is considered by evolutionists to be part human, part ape. Pictures of her appear in science textbooks, showing her standing upright and looking a lot like what you would imagine a cross between humans and apes to look like! Hmm…must be because an artist imagined her that way.

This display shows how different the same underlying skeleton can look, depending on liberties taken with hair and skin color. The bones on top are what Lucy’s face was reconstructed from.


Creation scientists have analyzed the incomplete skeleton claimed to be Lucy’s and shown that the bones are actually those of an extinct ape. The holographic projections show how well these bones fit into an ape who walks on all fours, very different from an up-right-walker’s skeleton.


Also, it was interesting to note that the footprints evolution scientists have claimed are Lucy’s and show an upright walker, were actually found hundreds of miles away from the skeleton! Here’s a video that explains more.

Exhibit after exhibit debunks the supposed “facts” of Evolution and they all point back to an amazing, loving Creator who has a special purpose for each person He created.

These all came into being by total random, accidental chance??!


My big takeaways from the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis are:

1) A belief in Evolution takes away purpose in life. If we are all here by chance, then what’s the point? Where do morals come from? What’s wrong with a “survival of the fittest” mentality and why shouldn’t we “take out” those who are “weaker” to improve our race? (Heard any ideas like that in history ever?) Conversely, believing in a God who created each of us in His image for a particular purpose gives our own lives meaning as well as builds compassion for others.

2) A literal interpretation of the 6 Days of Creation and a young earth is the only one that makes sense. First of all, if we can’t rely on God to be trustworthy in the very beginning of His Word to us, how can we trust anything else the Bible says? Second, believing that God’s creation took millions of years (non-literal interpretation of Genesis, and the way I had for years resolved my belief in the Bible with my biology teaching on Evolution—similar to many other Christians) would allow for millions of years of death, illness, killing, and destruction, even before the fall. God created the perfect world and then called it good. How can we believe God is good if he called all this death “good”? And where does this fit in our need for a Savior?

Evolution is firmly established as a “fact” in so many parts of our society. All the museums (except this one!), zoos and National Parks we’ve visited assume a millions-of-years earth. School textbooks and some Christian leaders propagate this belief (and it IS a matter of faith, not fact). But some of these issues just take a little time, thought, and research to realize they just don’t make sense, they can be interpreted differently depending on one’s starting worldview, and they are built on hundreds of assumptions rather than facts.

The next big upcoming project of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum is a life-sized reconstruction of the Ark. When finished, it will provide a thrilling visit, complete with animals, and an opportunity to get a feel for the grand scope of this amazing structure.




These are photos of the exhibits, and they were even more stunning and life-like in the museum.

We loved the life-sized animatronic Noah in his Ark Office, whom visitors can “ask” questions from a nearby touch screen, such as “How did you fit all the animals on the Ark?” (short answer—take young ones, and take only two of each “kind”…see below) or “Were there dinosaurs on the Ark?” (short answer YES!)


This idea of created “kinds” is important both to how the animals fit on the Ark as well as general animal diversity issues. A good way to understand this is to think about dogs. God would have created the “dog kind” rather than Dobermans, Labradors, Poodles, etc. and this would have also included coyotes and foxes. Over time, this original dog “kind” would have adapted by natural selection to express various traits suited to their environment, resulting in the variety we see today, but this genetic information would have been already present in their DNA, not newly “made” by accidental genetic mutations like Evolution would argue. (And, most importantly, it would not have evolved into a totally different animal.) One way to think about “kinds” is to think of animals that can breed with each other. They would be in the same “kind” (roughly at the Family level of classification taxonomy). A perfect example of this is found in the petting zoo at the museum—the pen with a Zorse (horse and zebra) and a Zonkey (zebra and donkey).

Here’s more on this topic.

And a scholarly article on the topic.



A couple more highlights from our time at the museum:

A class with Dr. David Menton on microorganisms in pond water,


and a T-Rex Workshop with none other than Buddy Davis! He’s one of the museum’s main dinosaur sculptors (in addition to being a singer/songwriter, adventurer, speaker, biblical apologist, caver and all-around likeable guy) and he taught us how to sculpt a T-Rex out of clay.



The finished product!


He looks pretty friendly to me! Smile

One last highlight for Chad was an interview for The Everyday Innovator with Ken Ham and Mark Looy, the co-founders of the museum. Look for a post about the interview coming soon!


Mammoth Cave, Lincoln Birthplace and Boyhood Home

After we told the Smokies goodbye, we headed for Knoxville, with a stop at the RV Wash on the way (manual, this time).


We drove up to Knoxville, found a lovely Walmart to park in for the night, a McDonald’s for Chad to work in for a couple hours, and the kids and I headed for Mast General Store. My sister gave me a Mast gift card for my birthday and Mom and Dad wanted me to buy myself a birthday present there, so shopping we went! Fun, Fun!


After a trip to Costco and a quiet night at Walmart, we were off to Kentucky. We stayed just outside Mammoth Cave National Park, near Cave City, in the Singing Hills Campground.



We had a view of a nice little pond out of our windows, and there was a spoooooky old barn!


Sweet Pea and I took the Historical Tour of the cave. It was FABULOUS! It was a two-hour, ranger led tour. This is the longest cave in the world, with 400+ miles of passageways currently explored. I asked one ranger if there is an idea of how many more miles there are. His reply: “Countless. We might not ever find the end.” Makes you wonder what’s under your feet?!


Entrance to the cave. We experienced something really interesting. See the thin line of mist the arrows are pointing to? That was just a little flat cloud, hanging out over the entrance to the cave (down beyond the fence to the right). If we held our arms straight out in the plane of this mist, above it was warm and below it was cool, within a couple inches of movement.




On the tour, we saw salt-peter mines from the War of 1812—it was mined for use in gunpowder. I guess when we declared war on the British we forgot they were supplying our gunpowder, and had to find a new way to provide it to the troops. The cave’s constant temperature and humidity and lack of wind and weather preserves the wood and other artifacts from so long ago. Of course, slaves were the primary source of labor, and they would have to work in these dark caves 12+ hours/day. After the cave became a tourist attraction, slaves were used as tour guides. One in particular, Stephen Bishop, became a guide in 1838 and was able to meet visitors from all over the country and the world. In the process, he became quite educated, learning to read and write and even learning some of several foreign languages along the way. He mapped over 20 miles of the cave and spent as much time as he could down there. His owner wrote in his will that seven years after his death, Bishop would be freed. When he was freed, what did Bishop do? Continued leading tours in Mammoth Cave. Sadly, he only lived one year after seeing freedom.

Thousands of years earlier, Native Americans mined the cave for gypsum. No one is certain what it was used for, but two thousand years ago, mining apparently came to an abrupt end.


The portion of the cave we went through had tiny passageways, about 12-16” wide for your feet, knees and hips, some requiring visitors to bend over at the waist to duck through, many that required ducking down to protect our heads.


And then there were HUGE rooms with domed ceilings.


The picture below shows the entrance and exit to the cave. When we were finished with the tour and waiting to exit along this metal railing down a ways inside the cave, the tour line came to a stop. There was a major rainstorm happening outside, and the ranger was very urgently and loudly telling us all to choose to “make a run for it” and exit, or get back inside the cave, but to GET AWAY from the metal railing, because lightning could travel right down the railing. I’m thinking a CAVE isn’t exactly where I want to be with the amount of rain that was falling and had to go SOMEWHERE! Somewhere low! So Sweet Pea and I made a run for it, up all those steps and then a very steep hill back to the visitor center. We were drenched through and through when we got inside, and praying the whole way for protection from the lightning. At least the rain was warm—in Colorado we would have been popsicles by the time we got inside. Thankful for God’s protection!


Went to a great ranger program on how to identify trees, kids earned another ranger badge!


On the way from Mammoth Cave to the Cincinnati area (Creation Museum!!) we stopped at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace and Boyhood Home. This memorial was built in 1909, Lincoln’s 100th birthday, and has 56 steps, one for each year of his life. Inside is a real log cabin from the era of his birth, although it isn’t the actual log cabin of his family.



We enjoy studying Lincoln, especially Sweet Pea, who did a research report and presentation and even dressed up like and portrayed him two years ago for a Classical Conversations class.


His parents and their family Bible, probably the first written words Lincoln saw. Below, the Sinking Spring the Lincoln family used, and where Abraham’s first drink of water would have come from.


At the Boyhood Home, near Hodgenville, KY, we got to wade in Knob Creek, where Lincoln played, and one day almost drowned and was rescued by a friend. Right now there are only a couple inches of water there, but the ranger said the creek can really get deep and flow briskly after rain.


Another badge for the hat, and passport stamps!

Creation Museum, here we come!


Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Wow—looking back, we packed a lot into one month! And now we are all a little tired, just in time for our school lessons to start back up!! Here’s a little recap:

Exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park. An amazing place, full of history, abundant plant and wildlife (I saw 6 bears, many deer (and 1 fawn!), salamanders, butterflies everywhere, plants and trees I hadn’t seen before), waterfalls, hiking trails, bluegrass music, and so many charming old buildings:



A ranger teaching Sweet Pea how to clog before his presentation on The Names of the Smoky Mountains.


Another Ranger Program: Searching for Salamanders


Found one! We let him go again, right where we found him, after we tried to identify him. We were told that the total weight of all the salamanders in the park outweighs the total weight of all the bears in the park (and there are about 1600 bears; 2 per square mile)!


I never knew you could hold millipedes! Or how tickly they are! If he didn’t live in a National Park, he surely would have made a lovely motorhome pet. But being the good rangers we are, we put him back, too.



We learned that the tradition of building their structures on blocks at the corners stemmed from the German heritage of many of the settlers and the custom of assessing taxes based on how much of the building touched the ground. True? Who knows, but if so, it was a pretty clever way of minimizing those taxes!





What quickly became one of my favorite places, Cade’s Cove, has an 11-mile, one-lane loop going through it that is closed to vehicular traffic until 10am on Wednesday and Saturday. Cyclists galore take advantage of this amazing opportunity, and we did too, twice, the week we were there! It’s a very fun route, with winding, curvy hills walled in with thick forest, occasional open vistas where settlers farmed before this was a national park, and opportunities to enjoy the wildlife and peacefulness at one’s own pace. Imagine a cool morning mist, crickets and cicadas chirruping, no wind, fresh air, and a quiet stillness, except for the sounds of your sweet family or the occasional other bike. Aaaahhh….


The second day’s ride we got rained on and ended up absolutely DRENCHED! But it’s a warm rain and turned out to be more refreshing than bothersome.




I thought this bicycle-wheel-shaped spider web was rather creative and fitting! Thanks, Spider!


Cade’s Cove is a charming little stop on this 11-mile loop, if you can get there! The one-way, one-lane road gets quite backed up with cars at times, and can take 2+ hours to get to the visitor’s center halfway around! But it’s worth the ride. Spotting bears and other wildlife along the way is common, and once you get there, you’re rewarded with a tiny 1820s town, complete with a working mill, a house that used to be the post office and general store (run by a woman who never married but raised her brother’s children, ran the post office, the store, turned part of her home into a boarding house, grew her own food, sewed her own clothes, and she probably kept her blog updated, too), blacksmith shop, sorghum press, barns, and a log cabin that is now the visitor’s center.



This working grist mill and waterwheel were amazing to see and we were surprised to find the miller down underneath and inside, greasing the gears to get them ready for the day’s grinding. I asked how often the millstone needed to be replaced and the miller replied, “This one’s been in there for 145 years, so I hope I’m not the one who has to replace it!” He said they weigh about 1200 pounds.



We learned of a couple expressions that are related to mills: “Wait your turn” and “Keep your nose to the grindstone”. When area farmers would bring their grain into town to be milled, they would stay in a warming hut near the mill and wait while other farmers had their grain “turned”, thus “wait your turn”. “Keep your nose to the grindstone” has to do with the miller needing to diligently smell the grain he was grinding in order to tell whether the friction of the grinding was heating the grain too much, leaving the flour with a poor taste.



Of course, what would a trip to a National Park be without as many ranger programs as we can possibly get to, and  ***Ranger Badges***!!?



I even earned my “Not-So-Junior” Ranger Badge!



Our Cade’s Cove bear.


One of our last days in the Smokies, Sweet Pea and I visited Clingman’s Dome (6643 ft), right on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. This is the highest spot not only in the Smokies, but in Tennessee AND along the Appalachian Trail, and nearly rivals the highest point east of the Mississippi, Mt. Mitchell (6684 ft), which is in North Carolina. The story goes that an argument broke out between explorers Clingman and Mitchell in the 1800s about which mountain was higher, so Mitchell agreed to take Clingman’s men along to verify his measurements. When Mitchell tragically fell to his death on the journey, Clingman chose to still honor his name and allow the highest mountain to be named after his adversary.




We loved these turtlehead flowers—can you see the turtle? Took a very short side-hike on the Appalachian Trail, just to say we’ve been there!


A wild forget-me-not perhaps?


After a quite steep 1/2 mile hike, this ramped, 1950s stone structure gets you to the top, where the view is uh, fog, on most days, apparently.


I absolutely adored the Smokies and could have stayed much longer.


Love, love, love these three!


Is it us?? We could totally live in a house this size after living in the motorhome—it would feel huge!


Sweet Pea’s Newsletter!

Just a short note that Sweet Pea has a new issue of her newsletter ready to go! You are likely already on her distro list and have received one—check your email! If not, and you’d like to receive it, just email me and we’ll get one out to you asap!

By the way, this is all her—she’s done all the planning, writing, graphics, and editing. I helped format the crossword and picked up a couple typos, and Chad has helped her learn the software, but we want to make sure she gets all the credit for this creative wrap-up of our adventure!