Friday, October 30, 2015

Vonore, TN

This past weekend we traveled to Vonore, a small town located at the confluence of the Little Tennessee and Tellico rivers in eastern Tennessee.  My husband Tim had signed up for a 2-day Prevost Community seminar.  He figured if we were purchasing a Prevost, we--or at least he!--should know more about the ins and outs of owning one.

While Tim was in class, I went searching for sights to see in Vonore.  What I found was a clash between two cultures, European whites against the Cherokee, once a friendship, but their interactions turned ugly during the French and Indian War.  All three sights I visited gave me insights into this discordant relationship.

Fort Loudoun, originally built in 1756 and now reconstructed, was an outpost during the French and Indian War from which the British colony of South Carolina and the Cherokee Nation stood as allies against the French.  When several Cherokee chiefs were massacred at Fort Prince George in South Carolina, this alliance broke down.  In retaliation, the Cherokees laid sieged to Fort Loudoun in the spring of 1760.  Dwindling supplies and starvation forced the garrison to surrender in August 1760.  The day following the surrender the Cherokee attacked the departing garrison at Cane Creek, killing more than two dozen.  After its surrender, Fort Loudoun was never used again for any military purpose.

Fort Loudoun's Gate

A cannon on the fort's ramparts

The fort was built on an island in the middle of the Little Tennessee River

Soldiers' barracks

Sequoyah Birthplace Museum stands near the former location of a Cherokee village where Sequoyah was born circa 1776.  Sequoyah developed a writing system that preserved the language of the Cherokee.  The museum which belongs to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation (those who managed to evade the Trail of Tears removal in 1830s), promotes a greater understanding of the history of its people.    

Sequoyah Birthplace Museum


The Seal of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation

This wooden framework shows the structure of a Cherokee council house.

Archeology excavations in the area found the remains of 191 Cherokees.  They were laid to rest in this burial mound on the grounds of the museum.

Tellico Blockhouse from 1794 through 1807 functioned as a trading post between Americans and the Cherokee and was also a check against white encroachment.  Those of European descent were required to have written passes from the Commander of the Blockhouse before entering deeper into Cherokee land.  Today all one can see are the foundations of what was once a thriving trading post.

The gap between the two cultures was best seen through quotes posted on the walls of Sequoyah’s Birthplace Museum.  These quotes were from Chief Ostenaco who acted as a diplomat between the two peoples and Lt. Henry Timberlake who published his memoirs in 1765.  I wish now I’d copied several down so I could share them here.  Oh, well!  That gives me a reason to return to Vonore.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Let's Go Shopping!

I'd really rather not!  I find car shopping to be almost as excruciating as breathing during broken ribs or natural childbirth. I almost hyperventilate whenever I sign the bottom line of a car's bill of sale.  Now we are in the market for a RV and that is ratcheting up my distress.

But Tim has done his homework. He's read tons of reports and isn't afraid to ask questions in the online RV forums he's found.

He's also dragged me to four RV factories for the grand tour. Tiffin? Entegra? Newmar?  Featherlite?  You name them; I've been inside them, if not at the factory than at numerous RV shows around the country.

So what criteria are we using to make our purchase?  Safety tops the list. I want some assurance that if we are involved in an accident, this RV won't be crushed like an aluminum pop can.

Next is the cost. These vehicles are extremely expensive and they depreciate exponentially as soon as you drive them off the lot. 

Finally there is the functionality of the vehicle. Tim is interested in the mechanics of it all. Me?  I just want to know how big are the closets.

So throw me under the bus!  Literally!  We've decided to look for the world's top-rated passenger bus, a Prevost (pronounced "prey-vo" with a long o).  Converted into a motor home, these busses have a steel frame welded onto a steel chassis. They are the only RVs that have been safety-tested commercially.  And fortunately for me, they have a lot of storage in the bays underneath the bus.

But they are expensive!  Did I mention that already?  Many are owned by millionaires and NASCAR drivers. Neither description fits us.  That's why we are looking for a used Prevost manufactured anytime from 1990-2000.  Something like this 1990 vehicle. 

If you've heard of one for sale, please let us know!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

April Showers Bring Mayflowers

April showers are a distant memory in the parched fall landscape of central Kansas, but a lone Mayflower did appear in the yard of my brother's farmhouse yesterday. 

The driver of the Mayflower moving van found his way to the farm without a hitch. While Tim and my dad discussed the best way to shift goods into the house, other farm inhabitants were chomping at the bit for a lick or --

a sniff of the van's delights. 

Some wanted to leap into the fray.

Others were content to lounge around while the crew worked. 

One even took the opportunity to sneak into the house.

Despite all the "help" from the canine crew, the men finished the job in record time and the Mayflower moved on to its next destination.

Thanks, Joe and Vince, for your patience with our farm animals!  You made their day!  And ours!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

You've Got Mail

Logging on to the computer, you see the little red flag pop up and yay!  You've got mail!

The email correspondence between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the movie, “You’ve Got Mail,” might make you think there is no need to send letters or bills by the U. S. Postal System anymore.  But that's not the case.  There are still some organizations--IRS and W-2s come to mind--that use the paper route to your mailbox.

Ignoring the IRS is never a good idea!  So Tim found a mailbox service located in Sioux Falls, SD that specializes in holding and forwarding mail to full-time RVers and others who live a nomadic lifestyle.  For a fee, DakotaPost will send your mail to a campground mailing address or any other location you specify as frequently as you want.

They will also advise you how to establish your residency in South Dakota, a state that charges no income tax.  So we have become South Dakotans, complete with drivers licenses and the car tag.  All it takes is one night’s stay in a hotel in Sioux Falls.  But beware!  Don't use Orbitz or another travel site to book your stay.  Those web sites reserve a room in the name of the person making the reservation without including the other travelers in your party.

This past Friday I almost became a “man without a country.”  Tim made our room reservation on Orbitz and of course, the bill listed only his name.  When we arrived at the Department of Motor Vehicles, we were told that while Tim could establish his residency, I could not.  Yikes!  Should we make additional room reservations over the weekend so I could try again at the DMV on Monday?

We had made a 300-mile detour from Chicago to Sioux Falls on our way to the farm in Kansas for the sole purpose of establishing our residency in South Dakota.  We needed to arrive at the farm before the moving van gets there early this week.  We had no time to spare!

Luckily, the hotel manager where we stayed was able to manipulate the hotel’s reservation system to print out a separate bill for me.  Now we are no longer Virginians.  We are residents of the proud state of South Dakota, home of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, which one day we plan to explore!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Reliable GPS

Is there such a thing?  Almost anyone can tell stories of road trip disasters using GPS.  This happened to us not once but three times as we traveled from Washington, D.C. to Chicago to visit Tim’s sisters and, in Tim’s case, to attend a scheduled board meeting at Wheaton College.

Wheaton College''s iconic Blanchard Hall

Before we set out, Tim entered our destination in our new GPS, (global positioning system).  We trusted it to guide us to our destination.  Yet before we even left our neighborhood, it sent us on what might have been the most direct route but which ended up costing us more time as we waited in traffic. 

Wheaton College Church

Traveling onward through beautiful western Maryland, we began to realize that the GPS was directing us west to I-68 instead of north to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  We worried that we had missed the turnoff and since the GPS showed only our immediate location—not the big picture that a map gives—we believed we were going the wrong way.  Luckily, the cutoff was only a few miles ahead.  But the GPS kept re-calibrating, trying to send us back to I-68 to avoid the tolls of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  As we tried to figure out how to turn off its avoidance of toll roads feature, it was NOT helpful to hear its voice repeatedly telling us to turn back.

Edmond Memorial Chapel

The third strike against the GPS occurred as we reached the eastern edge of the greater metropolitan area of Chicago.  There the GPS directed us toward the western suburb of Wheaton using a zigzag path along interconnecting interstates.  Our route more resembled the letter M than a direct line along I-80 to I-355. If this is a portent of GPS’s wackiness, how will we ever manage to navigate a big-rig RV?

The rear of Blanchard Hall

But there is a GPS that is absolutely reliable.  That is the GPS my friend Mary Hoover dubbed God’s Positioning System.  Listening to His inner voice prompts me to go in a certain direction, even when I insist I know a better route.  With His Word, the Bible, He gives me commands and promises that will ease my way through life, if I’ll only listen.  In the bumpy and difficult seasons of life, He is there with me even though I can’t make sense of the why.  His character never changes and His steadfast love is always there.  He is utterly trustworthy and His kingdom will come.

Postscript:  Last night we cheered the Wheaton College Men’s Soccer Team to a 4-1 victory over Carthage College.  Wheaton’s team is routinely ranked in Division III’s Top 20 and has several missionary kids who grew up playing soccer overseas.  All that experience pays off!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Moving Day

Today's the day we leave D.C.!

Last night we walked around the neighborhood visiting our favorite haunts one last time.

The Crystal City Waterpark
The path to the park

Long Bridge Park

A view of the Washington Monument from the park

The park is also a good place to watch planes en route to Reagan Nat''l Airport

Restaurants across the street

Then early this morning the moving van arrived to pick up our belongings.  Our possessions have been reduced significantly since we lived in Tucson.  Items that survived the cut when we downsized include an antique china cabinet and the china Cindy inherited from her grandmother.  What’s left of our goods will be stored in the farmhouse basement of Cindy’s brother in Kansas.

While the guys loaded the van, Cindy took some last pictures of the view from our balcony.  If you look closely--very closely--perhaps with the help of a magnifying glass--you might see the Washington Monument in the photo below.

There's also a view of the U.S. Capitol in the distance.

which is constantly changing, depending on the time of day.

U.S. Capitol at Dawn

U.S. Capitol at Night

Once the moving van is on its way, we'll jump into our car to head west, too.  First stop is Chicago to visit Tim’s family.  Then we’ll try to beat the moving van to the farm.  With any luck the driver will be able to navigate the country roads.