Westward Bound – Graceland Tour (Memphis, TN)

We finally got everything loaded and said our goodbyes on the 21st of September so we could begin our trek westward in order to be at our next scheduled Alpine Coach Rally in Pahrump, NV by the 29th.

I mentioned at the end of an earlier post (here) that I’ve been having problems downloading photos and got behind on the blog posts…  It was great staying at my daughters house for the last two months and we got a lot of renovations done on their new house, but it was finally time to get back on the road.

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I was able to secure the new scooter on the back of the Silverado with a receiver hitch carrier that I got from DiscountRacks.com for around $200.  I wrote about getting the scooter in an earlier post (here).

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We stopped just south of Bowling Green, KY at a Speedco and got an oil change and lube for around $300.  I like Speedco because they work fast and let you supervise the work.  They also do an oil analysis and give you the results right away.  After a relatively late start to the day and stopping for the oil change, we only managed a little over 100 miles for our first day back on the road.  We found an RV park/campground that offered the Passport America (←link) discount near Dickson, TN.  The Tanbark Campground only cost us $13.75 for our overnight stay.

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The Urban Escape Vehicle at Tanbark Campground near Dickson, TN.

We noticed a passenger just under the main awning when we set up for the night.  I wonder if we brought him all the way from Bowling Green?

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After a good nights rest, we traveled on to Memphis (~180 miles) and settled on a campground called the Agricenter International RV Park which is actually located in Germantown, a suburb of Memphis.  A full hook-up spot (30 amp) cost us $27.  We arrived early enough after our relatively short travel day to still make it over to Graceland for a tour.  This was a destination that Stilla has been wanting to visit for a long time.  The RV park was probably a half hour away from Graceland but some friends had told us about it and said it was in a much safer neighborhood than the other RV parks around Graceland.

We set up in our site and disconnected the Silverado for our drive over to Graceland.  We took lots of pictures, but I’ll only leave you with these select ones (below).  Enjoy the tour:

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Our total tour price was $85.50 for the both of us.

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Front view of Graceland:

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Inside the house:

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Rear view of the house:

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Meditation Garden:

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Elvis Presley’s burial site; where he, his parents, and grandmother, Minnie Mae Hood Presley, are buried:

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The Elvis Presley Automobile Museum:

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One of several gift shops:

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Elvis’ custom jets exhibit(s):

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We really enjoyed the Graceland tour, now we can take it off the list 🙂

Back at the Agricenter RV Park, we were able to walk through the onsite Farmers Market the next morning before we continued our trek west on I-40.

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Check back later for the next edition of our cross-country tour as we head to the Alpine Coach SoCal Rally in Pahrump, NV…

Nashville and American Pickers Day Trip (Bowling Green, KY)

Okay… time to bring the blog up to date.  I finally got some of my photo download issues worked out for the time being.  So let me tell you about our day trip to Nashville and then I’ll follow up with separate blog posts about our trip back west to where we are now in Pahrump, NV.

Stilla and I drove the Silverado down to Nashville from the daughters house in Bowling Green, KY where we’ve been parked for the last two months.  This was on the 18th of September, just before we started our westward trek to make it to the Alpine SoCal Rally which starts on the 29th of September in Pahrump, NV.  But more about that in my next blog post.

We made the 67 mile trip from Bowling Green in about an hour and ended up in downtown Nashville for a little sightseeing.

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The hardest part about visiting downtown Nashville was finding a parking spot.  We finally found a parking lot a couple blocks from downtown that cost us $21 for 4 hours.  Here’s some of our pics from the downtown area:

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The pedal bar tours were pretty popular as you can see from the photos:

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There were even “party barges” running around downtown:

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After eating lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe we wandered through some of the stores and finally ended up on the the upper deck of the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery which is the view in the picture below.

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The highlight of our day trip to Nashville was stopping by to tour the Antique Archaeology store from the television series American Pickers.

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There was quite a line of folks waiting to get in when we arrived.  There isn’t an entrance fee, but they limit the number of people in the store at any one time.  Definitely a popular tourist stop… they even had tour buses stop at the store which is only one small part of the larger Marathon Motor Works building which has been renovated to feature numerous different shops.

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Hallway of the Marathon Motor Works building (below) leads to numerous little curio and antique stores.

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A popular photo op in front of the door to the Antique Archaeology American Pickers store (below).  I think every other person that was waiting in line for their turn to enter the store took the same picture.

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Inside the store:  I recognized many of the items in the store from episodes of the television series.  Maybe you recognize some items as well?

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And yes, I got the t-shirt 🙂

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Stilla took my picture (below) in front of the famous Von Dutch Volkswagen motorcycle that was featured in one of the American Pickers episodes.

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One of the other shops in the Marathon Motor Works building sold Jack Daniels items and had a Jack Daniels themed Indian motorcycle on display:

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This Cadillac (below) was showing off outside the building when we finished the tour, so I had to take a couple of pictures, right?

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It looks like someone put the old early ’60s Cadillac body on an old Army 2 1/2 ton truck chassis.  What do you think?

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We finished off our day trip to Nashville by stopping at the Parthenon which is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens.  It was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.  Read more on this from my friend Wikipedia  (link here).img_0268

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The Parthenon is located in Centennial Park just west of downtown Nashville.  The park is also where the famous Natchez Trace Parkway begins.

My friend Wikipedia® says:  The Natchez Trace, also known as the “Old Natchez Trace”, is a historic forest trail within the United States which extends roughly 440 miles (710 km) from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, linking the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mississippi Rivers.  The trail was created and used for centuries by Native Americans, and was later used by early European and American explorers, traders, and emigrants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Today, the path is commemorated by the 444-mile (715 km) Natchez Trace Parkway and Bridge, which follow the approximate path of the Trace,[1] as well as the related Natchez Trace Trail. Parts of the original trail are still accessible and some segments are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I’ve been told that the parkway is a popular drive that I’d like to do sometime in the future with the motorhome.

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The Parthenon building was pretty impressive but unfortunately we couldn’t tour inside because they had already closed for the day.

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After a full day of touring around Nashville, we drove back to Bowling Green to get ready to pack up and start heading west for our next adventure in the Urban Escape Vehicle.

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Hope you enjoyed the pics from Nashville as much as we enjoyed taking them.  Stay tuned for the next installment which details our westward trek to Nevada…

 

Post 2 of 2 – William & Jasmin Visit from Germany (Bowling Green, KY)

Okay… better late than never – here’s post 2 of 2 on my son William’s visit to my daughter’s house in Bowling Green, KY.  William and his girlfriend Jasmin arrived on the 22nd of August and left on the 11th of September.

Other than just seeing the local sites, restaurants, shops, etc., – William also helped out with a couple projects around the house.  He helped paint a few of the interior doors, mowed the extensive lawn, etc.,  You might recall from previous blog posts that this is my youngest daughters (Joleen’s) first house along with her fiancé Dylan and one of the reasons we’re parked here is to help out with some of the renovations.

Over the labor day holiday, William & Jasmin went to rent a car so they could drive south and see some more sites on their own.  The rental agency upgraded them to a pickup truck for the same price due to the unavailability of a compact model.  They ended up at the beach in Pensacola FL and William also ended up with a sunburn 🙁

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When Will & Jasmin returned from their labor day outing, we all (except for Dylan, who had to work) drove up to Clermont, KY to the Jim Beam Distillery for a tour:

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Sign near entrance road just off I-65 south of Louisville, KY.
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Appropriately painted barn at entrance road to the Jim Beam Distillery.
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(L to R) Will, Joleen, Jasmin, Stilla. Tour registration and gift shop in background.
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(L to R) WIll, Jasmin, Stilla, and Joleen waiting for our bus to start the tour.
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The Jim Beam Tour Bus.

Inside the distillery:

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Tour guide explains the ingredients.
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Tour guide explains the fermenting system.
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We could feel the heat rising from the process and we tasted the ingredients by dipping our fingers into the mash.
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Low Wine and High Wine.

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Tour guide demonstrated filling a barrel with the appropriate proof alcohol to begin it’s aging process.

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Our first taste of Jim Beam before the aging process was with our finger dipped into a small glass that got passed around.
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The tour continued with a walk-thru of the large vat room.
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Looking at the ingredients in one of the large vats.
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Quality Control.

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Most everyone posed for pictures between the two alcohol fountains.
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The tour continues at the barreling section of the distillery.

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At the end of our distillery tour, we had the opportunity to fill our own personalized bottle of Knob Creek.

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Here I am rinsing out a new bottle with whiskey before it’s placed on the conveyer belt to be filled and capped by automatic system.
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Waiting for our personalized bottle to whiskey to be filled and capped. (L to R) Joleen, WIlliam, Jasmin, and self.

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The bottle cap is dipped into hot wax after it comes off the line.
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I placed my thumbprint in the wax on the top of the bottle to personalize it and secure my identity in the federal database 🙂
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Our own personalized bottle of Jim Beam “Knob Creek”. Have to save it for a special occasion.
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A bottle of each Jim Beam type or “batch” is saved at the beginning and the end of the filling process for quality control purposes.

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Then we walked through an area to watch the large scale bottling process.

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At the end of the distillery area tour, we got to see a display room with all the old Jim Beam decanters that were sold throughout the years:

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I still have one of these ’57 Chevy decanters somewhere in storage.

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I have this old Duesenberg decanter somewhere in storage also.

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I used to have the corvette decanter, but gave it to my old high school buddy Mike when we “down-sized”.

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Here’s a little “Did you know” item… This is one of the original I Dream of Jeannie bottles that the TV series used (below).

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The “I Dream of Jeannie” bottle.

We boarded the tour bus again to go over to one of the Aging Warehouses and the much-awaited tasting room:

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We walked by various outbuildings to one of the aging warehouses.

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There were numerous huge warehouses scattered around the distillery property.

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We walked into one of the huge warehouses.

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Our tour guide explained how long each barrel is stored before bottling.  This display (below) shows how much whiskey is left in each barrel after a number of years due to evaporation i.e., “angels cut” and soaking into the charred wood of the barrel i.e., “devils cut”.

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It was amazing how high the barrels are stacked in the warehouse.

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Notice the Mila Kunis barrel (below) from the recent series of Jim Beam commercials.

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After touring one of the barrel storage facilities our tour guide took us to the “tasting-room”.  A highlight for many of the tour guests, except for the fact the “tasting” is limited to tiny sips of 5 different brands.

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All the Jim Beam brands on display:

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The “tasting” machines automate and limit the amount each of us got to sample the various brands.  We were each given a swipe card loaded with five “tastes”.  You had to insert your card into the machine and press a button to get a “taste”.  Oh well, at least no one was going to get a DUI, right?

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(L to R) Jasmin, Joleen, William, and Stilla sampling the various Jim Beam brands.

After navigating our way back through the gift shop with only a few small souvenirs (and payment for the personalized bottle during the tour) we headed back to the house in Bowling Green with a quick stop at Fort Knox.  We thought we’d check out the Patton Museum but we didn’t get through the gate because Will, Joleen, and Jasmin didn’t have ID cards and we would have to register at the  visitor gate building which looked like a long process and it was getting late.  So we just took pictures of the Gold Depository (←link) and headed on home.

Back at the house, Will & Jasmin bought a pool earlier for Joleen & Dylan so I even took my turn one day getting a sunburn.

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On the last weekend of Will & Jasmin’s visit we had the opportunity to attend a “balloon glow” in Bowling Green.  It was nothing like the Albuquerque Balloon fest or others we’ve visited in the past like in Lake Havasu or Memorial Park in Colorado Springs, but still always cool to see.

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On September 11th, a sad day for many reasons, we drove Will & Jasmin back up to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and said our farewells.

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It was good seeing William & Jasmin again, hopefully again next year.

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On the way back from the Cincinnati airport to Bowling Green we took the long way home (scenic byway) through Lexington.  At the beginning of our trip home we noticed that we would pass by the fairly new attraction “Ark Encounter” a life-sized Noah’s Ark, so we used the opportunity to stop by and check it out.

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Entrance fee was $40 per person and $10 for parking.

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There were several other “expensive” options at Ark Encounter as well.  None of which we took part of.

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We boarded a bus for the short ride to the Ark.

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Life-size Noah’s Ark.  Pretty impressive.

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We toured each floor of Noah’s Ark to view stuffed animal displays and many, many small interpretive rooms where we fought the crowd to look at pictures, dioramas and displays.  My take-away was that it was a little overpriced and most of the interpretive displays too small and cramped for viewing with crowds of people.  It is definitely something to see once, but don’t think we’d go back again.  It was a lot of walking as the ramps inside between each floor extended the entire length of the Ark, then you’d circle each floor just to take another long ramp to the next floor.  View images (here).


I’m finishing up this blog post from Memphis, TN.  We said our farewells and ‘see-ya-laters’ to daughter Joleen & Dylan and hit the road on the 21st.  It was great staying with them for the last two months and we got a lot of renovations done on their new house.  Stilla especially enjoyed the quality time and use of a full kitchen while we were there 🙂  Love ya Joleen & Dylan, til next time!

My iPhoto program is still giving me some grief (it crashed again and I had to rebuild) and I finally broke down and got a new iPhone 6S and am working through how to get new pictures downloaded and saved for the blog.  It seems that I can’t just plug my phone into the laptop anymore and have the pictures download like a digital camera does.  All the pictures I take on my iPhone want to go to iCloud no matter what settings I make, so I have to manually download pictures from iCloud (which is a lengthy and convoluted process) before I can even edit and resize them.  So, I guess what I’m saying is that my next blog post might be awhile.  I have a lot of pictures that we took at Graceland yesterday that I’d like to share… anyway, stay tuned.

Post 1 of 2 – William & Jasmin Visit from Germany (Bowling Green, KY)

Once again, it’s been quite awhile since my last post 🙁  We’re still parked at my youngest daughters house in Bowling Green, KY and as I mentioned in my last post, we had our son William and his girlfriend Jasmin visit from Germany.  They were here for 3 weeks and we stayed very busy – so that’s my primary excuse for not updating the blog.  Let me try to bring you up to date on some of the stuff we’ve been up to since they got here…

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Stilla greets Will & Jasmin at the Cincinnati airport.

On the 22nd of August, Stilla and I drove the Silverado from Bowling Green, KY up to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to pick up Will & Jasmin.  We drove ~220 miles one way to pick them up.  It was a long drive but William found a good deal on their tickets and it would have cost them a lot more to fly into someplace closer to us like Louisville or Nashville.

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Will and Jasmin with a happy Stilla, arriving at the airport.

One of the first places we visited while they were here in Bowling Green, KY was the Lost River Cave.

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We took the Lost River Cave boat tour.  This tour is touted as the “only underground boat tour in the state of Kentucky”.

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View from our seats in the flat-bottom tour boat.

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We all had to duck our heads down for a short stretch to keep from hitting the cave ceiling.  Good thing there weren’t any stalactites hanging down, eh?

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The boat tour was pretty cool along with the associated walking tour of the scenic valley in front of the cave entrance.  I highly recommend it if you’re visiting Bowling Green.  We also visited the National Corvette Museum on another day, but I didn’t take any pictures this time since I already blogged about it in an earlier post when  I visited there with an old Army buddy.

In other non-travel related news: My daughter Joleen and her fiancé Dylan had already scheduled to get the windows replaced on their new home, so we all hung around the house for a couple days to supervise the installers:

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Old bedroom window being replaced.
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View of backyard pool through the empty window frame.
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Bay window being replaced; View of the Coach in front yard.

Will & Jasmin did a lot of running around town to get some shopping done while they were here.  We also checked out a large number of restaurants in the area many evenings.

On one of the weekdays while Joleen & Dylan had to work – I took Will & Jasmin to nearby Mammoth Cave National Park.  Stilla stayed home to watch the house and the dogs since caves aren’t her thing.

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Will & Jasmin wait for the bus to arrive to take us to one of the cave entrances for our tour.
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Walking to the cave entrance for the start of our tour.

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The cave entrance had double doors to keep the climate controlled.
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View downwards over a deep pit.

Our guided-tour took over an hour and it felt like we walked for miles.  We took the “Domes & Dripstones” tour for $15pp.

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View of the non-skid cave floor… not too easy to walk on at times.

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Our fascinating tour ended at a revolving door where we caught the bus back to the Visitors Center.

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It was good to see sunlight again after our tour 🙂

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Mammoth Cave is a “must-see” when visiting Kentucky… maybe I can get Stilla to take one of the shorter tours sometime.

Check back later for Part 2 of 2 on Will & Jasmin’s visit.  We also visited the Jim Beam Distillery and I have a lot more pictures but the laptop has been giving me trouble lately with loading and saving pictures into my iPhoto program.  We’re planning on heading back west soon so we can be at the next Alpine Coach Rally in Pahrump, NV by the 29th.  I’ll post again soon…

 

 

House Renovations continue; Tri-5 Nationals come to town; and visiting Fort Knox (Bowling Green, KY)

Still moochdocking at the daughter’s house in Bowling Green, KY.   It’s hard for me to keep the travel blog updated when we’re parked in one spot for so long.  Let me catch you up on our going-ons… first of all – renovations continue on the daughters’ house as you may recall from my last post.

The kitchen cabinets finally arrived that I installed with the help of a local handyman contractor that my daughter and her fiancé had previously arranged.

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Several days later the marble countertops were installed by another local business.  The installers returned the next day to tile the backsplash area.

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The kitchen is finally coming together.  We still have to do crown molding and baseboards, but otherwise it’s almost done.

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The kids are still contemplating new appliances, either black or stainless steel.  They still need to find a microwave that will mount in the space above the existing stove.

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In other areas of the house – Dylan found a good deal on a couple of new toilet bowls that he mounted himself.  Here he is (below) in the guest bathroom that we previously patched and painted.

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The old bathroom sink and vanity still needs to be replaced in the following picture.

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Here we tore out the old built-in vanity to make way for the new one:

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And here’s the new sink and vanity after we got it installed.  Not bad for a couple days work.  We still have to tackle the master bathroom vanity and sink next.

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Okay… that’s enough about updates on the house renovations.  It’s all definitely keeping me busy and Stilla enjoys cooking meals in a real kitchen instead of the Coach.  We’ve been eating pretty good lately 🙂

In other news – The Tri-Five Nationals are in town.  This is an annual event in Bowling Green and is touted as the largest gathering of 1955 thru 1957 Chevy’s in one place.  We (Stilla and I) attended a pre-show to the weekend activities in the downtown park on Wednesday evening:

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Stilla posing in front of the Bowling Green downtown park fountain at the Tr-Five Nationals “Fan-Fest” evening event.

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On Saturday, the Tri-Five Nationals were in full swing at the Beech Bend Race park located next to the Beech Bend Amusement Park.  This time we all (Stilla, Joleen, Dylan, and I) went for the whole day.  I was in 7th Heaven… “57 Chevy heaven” that is 🙂  Most of my readers know that I used to have a ’57 Chevy Bel-Air and a ’57 Chevy pickup that I drove to local car shows.  I snuck in this picture (below) of them parked in the garage back in Colorado Springs before we sold everything to go full-time RVing.

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Here’s some pics (below) we took at the Tri-Five Nationals (←link)… hope you enjoy as much as I did:

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(L to R) Stilla, Dylan, Joleen at Tri-Five Nationals in Beech Bend Raceway park, Bowling Green, KY.

Drag race cars:

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Lots of swap meet items for sale:

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And thousands of 55-57 Chevy’s to check out.

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Cool ’56 Chevy trailer (rear-view).

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Cool ’56 Chevy trailer (front-view).

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I’ve never seen so many ’57 Chevy’s in one place, especially ones that had the original color scheme (Colonial Cream/India Ivory) like mine had.  Here’s a two door Bel-Air convertible.

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And here’s a two door Bel-Air hardtop just like my old one.

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Acres of cars were on display:

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I even spotted this 4 door (below) that looks just like the one my Dad still has hidden away in his garage.

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Cool window tray display and drive-in movie speaker.  We used to have a similar window tray display that we put in place during car shows, I always thought it was a neat touch.

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Another cool trailer.  Good old American ingenuity at work 🙂

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And yet another two door Bel-Air hardtop in Colonial Cream/India Ivory colors.

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The drag races went on all day.  Way cool 🙂

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This (’57 Chevy) golf cart was cool.  Too bad I can’t fit anything else on the back of the Silverado 🙂

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Stilla posed for a color-coordinated photo with a ’55 Chevy.

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What a fun day!  It was a really cool event and I’m glad we happened to be here for this awesome annual gathering.

And in closing – Most recently, this past Monday – Stilla and I took a trip (about 70 miles) in the Silverado up to Fort Knox (←link).

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I did Basic Training and my initial Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) Training here back in 1981.  I also returned in 1989 for about 6 months to attend the NCO Academy for the Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course (BNCOC).  So it was a full day of driving around trying to identify landmarks and buildings in order to revisit the past.

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I found the barracks building where I stayed for BNCOC but all the old WWII-era buildings where I attended Basic Training have long since been torn down.  Here’s an example (below) located outside the Patton Museum.  A little trivia item;  the movie Stripes was filmed at Ft Knox just prior to my basic training and many of the old buildings I was very familiar with are depicted in the movie.  It’s always a cool trip down memory-lane when I get to watch that classic movie.

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Unfortunately, the Patton Museum was closed on the day we visited (Monday) but at least I had the opportunity to visit this really neat museum when I was here in ’89.  It would have been nice to see how much it has changed… oh well, maybe we’ll make another trip up here.

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And no visit to Fort Knox is complete without an obligatory pic of the Gold Depository (below).

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It was a fun day, (for me at least), touring all the old sites in and around Fort Knox.

Stay tuned…  We’re expecting our son William to visit on the 22nd.  He’s flying into Cincinnati from Germany with his girlfriend Jasmine for a ~3 week vacation.  We’ll drive to the airport there to pick him up.  Hopefully, we have all of the house renovations completed before they get here so we can run around and do some sight-seeing.

 

House Painting; Fallen Trees; New Scooter (Bowling Green, KY)

We’re still moochdocking at our youngest daughters’ house in Bowling Green, KY.  But we’re definitely paying for our spot in the way of house renovations and daily chores.

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Evening picture of the Urban Escape Vehicle parked at Joleen & Dylan’s house in Bowling Green, KY.

In the kitchen of Joleen & Dylan’s new house, I’ve done a lot of patching, sanding and priming on the walls…

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and also on the ceiling…

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The old kitchen cabinets extended all the way up to the ceiling.  I had to do a lot of scraping and repairing where the old paint and caulk lines left a distinct line across the ceiling.

Before…

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and after…

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Before…

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and after…

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We were lucky to be able to fix the holes and blemishes in the ceiling and match the existing texture without having to sand down and retexture  the whole ceiling.  After a fresh coat of paint it looks like new again 🙂

I also finished fixing all the wall surfaces that won’t be hidden behind the new cabinets.  After lots of hole patching, skimming and sanding, I put on a fresh coat of primer and paint.  I used “texture in a can” to hide all the minor blemishes.  There were lots of scratches along with high and low spots from scraping off the old wallpaper.

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Stilla and Joleen picked out the wall color called ‘Tsunami Sky’.  I think it looks good and the ‘texture in a can’ works really well too.

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The next step is to get the new kitchen cabinets installed.  Wish us luck 🙂

Since my last post, I did some research on a scooter that I had my eye on at a local motorsports store and ended up buying a Kymco Super 8 150X (←link).

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We found out it was a mistake to leave the Harley in Arizona and take the Can-Am ATV along with us on this trip to KY.  There really isn’t any place nearby to get much use out of the ATV; but there are lots of cool winding, hilly roads here that are perfect for motorcycle riding.

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The scooter is street-legal and gets up to 50-55 mph easily, even with both of us on it.  The 150CC engine seems to have plenty of power for scooting us along just fine.  I ended up getting a pretty decent deal for $2,125 out the door but am still expecting some registration fees from our domicile state of South Dakota once I get a permanent plate.  Now I just have to figure out how to haul both the ATV and scooter when we leave here… the scooter will add an additional 235 lbs.

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Daughter Joleen and her fiancé Dylan trying out the new scooter.

While Stilla & I were out getting the new scooter, a micro-burst of heavy rain and wind came through the neighborhood and took down  some trees.  Here’s one that came down in the back yard (below).

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Luckily, I had put the main awning in on the Urban Escape Vehicle before we left.  There doesn’t appear to be any damage but I do wish I had thought about running the satellite dish down.  The weather here has been great (hot & humid) with just some isolated rain storms that occasionally roll through.  So far, any rain storms have been brief or occur during the night.

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The ATV came in handy with the front winch.  We hooked the winch cable up to the fallen tree and pulled it into the yard so we can cut it up.

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Dylan’s boss Jim came by to help out.  Here we are hooking up some straps to the winch cable…

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Jim pulled on a strap to help guide the tree while I winched it off the chain-link fence.

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Now Joleen & Dylan will have a little firewood for their fireplace once we get the fallen tree cut up.

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Check back soon for more exciting updates on home renovations, etc.,,,

 

National Corvette Museum; Plant Tour; Old Friends Visit (Bowling Green, KY)

Fair warning – Lots of cool pictures today!  As I mentioned at the end of my last post, an old Army buddy stopped by for a quick visit when he heard we were in the area and was passing through.  We ended up visiting the National Corvette Museum and took the Corvette Plant tour together.  Follow along…

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Gary Fejes and David Hobden in front of the Urban Escape Vehicle.

I first met Gary Fejes when he was a Private First Class (PFC) and I was a Sergeant (SGT).  I dug up this old photo (below) that was taken in Grafenwöhr Germany back in the mid-80’s.

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(L to R) PFC Fejes, SGT Hobden, SPC Soop, CW2 Williams

Gary has stayed in touch over the years and we’ve gotten together a few times.  We determined after looking through some old albums that other visits over the years were in 1990, 2002, and 2008.  Here’s Gary and his wife Kitty (below) visiting us in Colorado Springs back in 2008.

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Gary & Kitty in Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, CO (2008).
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Self, Kitty & Gary at the house in Colorado Springs (2008).
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Kitty & Gary on our ATV in the Colorado Mountains (2008).

Gary & Kitty were returning from a trip to Alabama and driving back to their home in Pennsylvania when they saw we were in Bowling Green, KY so they coordinated to stop by and stay overnight with us.  The girls (Stilla, Kitty and Joleen) went out shopping and ‘antiquing’ while Gary and I decided to visit the National Corvette Museum here in Bowling Green, KY.

Hope you enjoy the tour as much as we did:

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Link to the National Corvette Museum website (Here) to learn more.

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Gary and I paid an entrance fee of $16 each for both the museum and the separate plant tour.  The assembly plant is across the highway from the museum and tours are scheduled throughout the day.  Our plant tour was scheduled for later in the day so we ended up quickly touring the museum until it was time for the plant tour.  After the plant tour (no photos were allowed) we returned again to finish up the museum.

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The infamous sinkhole:

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Here’s some cars that narrowly escaped the sinkhole.  Notice the cave-in outlined in red and yellow tape on the floor:

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The last section of the museum that we toured wasn’t just corvettes…  They keep dedicated space here for exhibits that get changed out every so often or travel around the country.

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Wow!  The museum tour was awesome, we probably spent 3-4 hours inside  not including the hour where we went over to the assembly plant for our scheduled tour halfway through.

And the assembly plant tour was super cool too!  Unfortunately they don’t allow any photos inside the plant.  The plant tour takes about an hour and you end up walking a mile through the facility.  Link (Here) to learn more about the assembly plant.  It was fascinating.

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Corvette assembly plant (no photos allowed inside).
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Corvette assembly plant (no photos allowed inside).

After the awesome plant tour, we returned to the museum to have lunch at the Corvette Cafe and finish our walk-thru.  I already included all the museum tour pics above.

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Before Gary & I returned to the house to see what the girls had been up to for the day, we also stopped to visit Art’s Corvette (←link).  This showroom full of cars for sale is conveniently located right next to the Corvette Museum but is not associated with the museum.  Entrance fee was $5.

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What a great car day!  I suppose that’s enough automotive-related photos for one blog post 🙂  Hope you enjoyed the tour(s).

We said our farewells to Gary & Kitty and they continued their drive back home to Pennsylvania.  It was great catching up, hope to see you again soon Gary & Kitty!  Hopefully we can make it to PA one of these days.

Check back later for updates on the house renovation and I’ve been looking at small scooters to add to the Urban Escape Vehicle fleet…

Some Local Sites & Friends/Family Visits (Bowling Green, KY)

We’re still parked at our daughter Joleen’s house in Bowling Green, KY and it looks like we might be here for a little while to help out with their remodeling projects on their new (to them) house.

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As I mentioned in my last post, Dylan’s father drove all the way from Colorado Springs, CO for a quick visit to drop off another load of Dylan & Joleen’s “stuff” along with a new puppy.

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(L to R) Stilla, Joleen, Dylan, and Jeff.

Before we got to work on house painting and kitchen remodel projects, we took some time while Jeff was here to visit a couple local attractions.  Here we are checking out Aviation Heritage Park

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And we also took a nice walking trail along Lost River Cave

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(L to R) Jeff, Joleen, Stilla, Dylan at the Lost River Cave entrance on the Cave Creek trail.

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We’ll have to come back here again later for the Lost River Cave Boat Tour, it sounds pretty fun.  But we didn’t have time today.

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Joleen & Dylan at the Lost River Cave entrance.

We also did a drive-by of the local amusement park.  Check out the Beech Bend Amusement Park website.  We’ll have to come by here again later when we have more time for a day of fun.  They also have a huge campground here that we checked out for future reference.  It looked really nice, check out the campground website.

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We also stopped to watch the go-karts race at the National Corvette Museum (NCM) Motor Sports Park.  That looked like fun…

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Dylan’s father Jeff only had a couple days here before he had to get back to work in Colorado Springs.  On Sunday evening we were invited to Dylan’s boss’s house for some grilled steaks and salmon.  Jim and his wife Dana have a beautiful home nearby.  Here we are (below) in Jim’s cool ‘man-cave’ enjoying some of his home-brew beer before we had an awesome dinner.  Thanks Jim & Dana!

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(L to R) Jim, Joleen, Stilla, Jeff, and Dylan.

When we weren’t running around town, we were able to get a little bit done on the house.  Here’s one of the doors I prepped and painted (below).

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And to give you an idea of what’s ahead – here’s a pic (below) of the kitchen ceiling where the old cabinets were mounted.  My challenge will be to fix the holes and numerous old paint lines so we don’t have to redo the whole ceiling.  The new cabinets don’t go all the way up to the ceiling like the old ones.  Keep checking the blog to see if I’m successful.

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And also, check back later for my next post…  We had another old Army buddy and his wife (Gary & Kitty) stop by for a quick visit (Tuesday thru Wednesday) while they traveled through on their way home to Pennsylvania.  Kitty went shopping with the girls while Gary and I toured the National Corvette Museum and took the Plant Tour.  Lots of pictures… too many for this post.

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Gary Fejes and I posing in front of the Urban Escape Vehicle in Bowling Green, KY.
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Coming soon… check out my next blog post…

Moochdocking at Dear Daughter’s House (Bowling Green, KY)

We traveled about 170 miles from the US Space & Rocket Center to Bowling Green, KY on Friday to arrive at our youngest daughter’s house.

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We pulled into Joleen & Dylan’s circular driveway around 5PM after a scenic and uneventful drive.  We stopped at another Pilot/Flying J at the Kentucky border to top off the fuel tank with 67 gallons of diesel for $160.  It looks like we’re only getting around 7.5 miles to the gallon with all the recent hills we’ve been pulling.

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Stilla was very glad to see Joleen who moved here from Colorado Springs to Bowling Green back in February.  Joleen got engaged (last Christmas) to her high school sweetheart Dylan after dating for the last 7 years.  Dylan got a job offer here that prompted their relocation.

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They just purchased a nice house on the outskirts of Bowling Green and are doing extensive renovations.  I’m sure we’ll be offering a lot of assistance.  The kitchen is currently torn apart and a beautiful new tile floor has been installed,  New cabinets and granite countertops are next.

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The driveway is rather sloped where we parked to be near the newly installed 50 Amp power outlet.  We heard that Dylan had to do some extensive low-crawling underneath the house in order to get it hooked up.  Thanks Dylan!  Due to the slope of the driveway, we promptly put a couple holes in the asphalt drive with the rear jacks trying to get the whole rear of the Coach raised up.  Sorry about that 🙂  We’ll find some larger blocks or boards to put under the jacks and maybe we can get completely level.  Surprisingly, we were able to get the satellite dish to connect through the trees next to us.

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Unfortunately, our power cord was too short to reach the new 50 Amp outlet so Dylan’s new boss offered to make us an extension cord.  Here’s Jim along with friend/co-worker Ed (below) putting a 50 Amp extension cord together.  Thanks Jim and Ed!

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And so, here we are in beautiful green Bowling Green.  We’ll moochdock here for a while visiting and helping out around the new house.  We’ve already gotten a couple of quick tours around town and stopped by to check out all the Corvettes during the annual National Corvette & Chevy Invitiational.  We also did drive-bys at Western Kentucky University (WKU), Beech Bend Amusement Park, the National Corvette Museum, and adjacent NCM Motorsports Park.  Lots of cool sites to visit here…

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Dylan’s fatherJeff also arrived by pickup truck on Saturday with another load of their “stuff” and a new puppy from Colorado Springs.  Now they’ll have 3 large dogs to take care of.  Jeff has to be back at work on Tuesday, so we’ll just do some socializing before we get to work on the house.  Stay tuned…

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Joleen and her new puppy.

 

 

 

 

US Space & Rocket Center Tour; Old Co-Worker Reunion (Huntsville “Rocket City”, AL)

On Thursday morning we said our thanks and ‘see-ya-later’s’ to Tom & Johnna for letting us stay at their beautiful home on the lake and we headed north towards Huntsville, AL.

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After a scenic 90 mile drive we arrived in Huntsville, AL around mid-day.

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A couple of the rockets on display at the Space Center are visible from a long distance while driving on the interstate.

We found the US Space & Rocket Center Campground (←link) with one of our online search tools for RV parks and campgrounds.  It’s located right next to the Space Center and Space Camp buildings.  I called ahead to confirm availability while we were enroute.

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When we pulled in to the RV park we saw a ‘Campground Full’ sign in the office window, but luckily the host remembered my call and directed us to our spot after we paid $20 for the night.

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Our nice shaded spot at the US Space and Rocket Center Campground in Huntsville, AL.

We quickly got set up in our 30 Amp full hook-up site and went directly over to the US Space & Rocket Center for a tour.  We wanted to make the most out of the rest of our day here.  This is a really cool place, check out the Wikipedia® link which tells us:

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama is a museum operated by the government of Alabama, showcasing rockets, achievements, and artifacts of the U.S. space program. Sometimes billed as “Earth’s largest space museum”, astronaut Owen Garriott described the place as, “a great way to learn about space in a town that has embraced the space program from the very beginning.”

Opened in 1970, just after the second manned mission to the lunar surface, the center not only showcases Apollo Program hardware but also houses interactive science exhibits, Space Shuttle and Army rocketry and aircraft. With more than 1,500 permanent rocketry and space exploration artifacts, as well as many rotating rocketry and space-related exhibits, the center occupies land carved out of Redstone Arsenal adjacent to Huntsville Botanical Garden at exit 15 on Interstate 565. The center also offers bus tours of nearby Marshall Space Flight Center.

The entrance fee to the Space & Rocket Center was $46 for the two of us.

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We spent around 4 hours walking around the Space Center checking out the myriad of interactive displays and exhibits:

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We toured the International Space Station as part of a guided tour.

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We watched divers in the Neutral Buoyancy Training Tank.

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We watched a cool movie at the Spacedome IMAX® Theater (additional $10 fee) and afterwards continued our tour.

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Lunar Lander exhibit.
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Saturn V exhibit.
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The  Mobile Quarantine Facility built out of an Airstream® trailer.
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Pathfinder – the world’s only full-stack space shuttle display.
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Outside rocket exhibits.

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When we finished touring most of the interior exhibits we headed outside to find out it had rained as you can see in most of the following pictures of the outside exhibits:

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When we finished our cool tour of the Space Center we drove back to the adjacent campground just in time to meet up with a former co-worker and friend from my previous job with the Missile Defense Agency, in Colorado Springs.  Jeff drove over to see us after he got off work.

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Jeff Woods visiting the Urban Escape Vehicle in Huntsville, AL.

I was in contact with Jeff on Facebook® and we coordinated to meet up while we were in Huntsville.  Jeff and I were co-workers during the ~7 years I spent with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).  Some of you may recall that I resigned my position and retired from MDA in May 2014 which is when we started full-timing in the Urban Escape Vehicle.  He recently changed jobs and moved here to Huntsville where the MDA  is headquartered.  It was great catching up on old times.  Thanks for stopping by Jeff!  Hope to see you again soon.

After we said our ‘see-ya-laters’ to Jeff; Stilla and I relaxed under the awning to enjoy the cooler evening weather.  It was actually pleasant outside after the brief rain showers in the afternoon.  Then we heard model rockets being shot off next to the campground.

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The Space Center here has several programs for kids here; Space Camp, Space Academy, Aviation Challenge, and Robotics Camp.  The Space Camp kids were coming over by the bus load to shoot off their model rocket kits and we had a front row seat 🙂

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Innumerable model rockets seem to find their final resting place in the trees surrounding the launch field and campground.

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Space Camp counselors assisted each kid in placing their rockets on the permanently installed launch stands.

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And then they were remotely launched.

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While we were watching the rockets being launched, one of them had a mis-fire and landed directly behind the blast windows in the middle of the kids.  No one was hurt, but it sure created some excitement.

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I hope you enjoyed the Space & Rocket Center pictures… it’s another “must-see” attraction if you’re ever in the area.

This morning (Friday) we will continue our trek towards Bowling Green, KY to visit our youngest daughter.  She’s expecting us to get there before evening.  It’s also our 33rd wedding anniversary.  Happy Anniversary Stilla!

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Evening view of our spot at the Space Center RV park in Huntsville, AL.

Next post will be from Bowling Green, KY…

 

 

Follow along on our adventures…