Monday, April 22, 2013

Into All Travel A Little Rain Must Fall.

All night before and the morning of our departure from Whistle Stop Antique Mall and Campground, the rain poured... and poured... and poured.  Rain had been in the forecast and we prepared, dumping tanks before the rain began.  We both donned rain suits for dog walks and hooking Big Blackie (the car) to Endie (the coach). One last walk for Lexie and Ozzie just before leaving the property because we could use the covered sidewalk alongside the mini-storage area. 

And then we were off -- Endie's big windshield wipers whacking back and forth clearing our way.

Our destination is Sevierville, Tennessee where we're scheduled to participate in a rally.  From Franklin, we'll take the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway through the area of Cherokee National Forest, past Sylva and Waynesville, NC before getting on I-40.

The rain was steady as we travel up and down and all around on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway. Suddenly, on an incline, without warning, the instrument panel illuminated, in red letters: STOP ENGINE.  Oh no! This isn't the "Check Engine" light... this one means business.  Is says STOP ENGINE. That seems pretty straightforward.

And so we did.  There was a place along the roadway with about 10' of shoulder so we pulled off, stopped the engine and pulled out the coach information. 

This photo is blurry because I'm a nervous wreck and didn't let the camera focus, but here's what it says:  "The STOP ENGINE lamp indicates, when illuminated the need to stop the engine as soon as it can be safely done. The engine must remain shut down until the engine can be repaired".  
In his normal, unrattled, cool, calm and collected way, Wayne begins pulling together the Roadside Assistance information, pen and paper and begins to make the necessary calls. 

I'm just relieved to have walked the dogs that second time before we left Franklin.  
Because we're sitting with the roadside wheels on the pavement and the curbside wheels off the pavement, this is how the coach looks. And we don't know how long we'll be here. Yes, that's Lexie and Ozzie in their window seats... sleeping.
There was a flurry of telephone calls, Wayne to Roadside Assistance, then Roadside Assistance to the wrecker service. Wrecker service to us, us to them, them to Roadside Assistance and so forth.

Adding insult to injury, Wayne donned the rain gear once more and unhooked Big Blackie from Endie.  The nice thing about the pouring rain was that it washed away the mud and road grime that was being thrown by the passing trucks.  We knew the day was passing quickly and we were on the side of a mountain in a motorcoach.  At least we had all the comforts of home... even if they were leaning to one side. We ate lunch sitting at the cock-eyed table.

After what seemed like hours, but in reality was just about an hour, this gargantuan wrecker comes rolling up, light flashing.  And when I say "lights".... it had more yellow lights flashing than any fire engine I've ever seen.  


There's a lot of talk about exactly how, where and when to load big Evie onto the wrecker.  Alan, the wrecker truck operator says we'll have to start the engine, get Evie onto the flat roadway, and then hook her up.  Wayne hesitates... sure don't want to do anything to jeopardize that Cummins engine warranty. 

More telephone calls... this time one to Cummins to talk about the need to start the engine to get the wrecker hooked up.   We get the okay to do as Alan requests.

In the end, Wayne held his breath and turned the key. 

The "STOP ENGINE" light did not illuminate.

Alan is ready to tow... but is it needed?

If Endie's "STOP ENGINE" doesn't come back on, Wayne can drive her directly to the repair shop.

Did I mention it is in Asheville?  It is.

Did I mention that it's 2 o'clock on Friday and none of the repair shops are open on Saturday?  It is and they are not.

Did I mention that we have a non-refundable reservation at the Sevierville campground?  We do.

We agree to caravan.  Alan will lead, Wayne will follow and I will drive Big Blackie.  If the "STOP ENGINE" lights comes back on, we'll stop and load Endie for towing.  If not, we'll make our way to Ken Wilson Sterling Diesel Truck Service in Canton, NC (not far from Asheville).

As so, off we go, Alan in the enormous yellow flashing lighted, bright red tow truck.  Endie close behind and me in Big Blackie.  In the pouring rain.  Still.

By 3 p.m. we Endie was in one of the bays at Ken Wilson Sterling Truck Service. By 4 p.m. the problem had been diagnosed by way of the computer port that keeps track of everything that goes on in this behemoth.  Turns out a filter in the crankcase was bad and would have to be replaced. It was not a warranty item.  It would cost $250 or so.  Oddly enough, with so few miles, everyone wondered out loud why this item went bad.  Never did figure it out. But  by 5 p.m. it was replaced and were hooking up Big Blackie  for the ride to Sevierville. The relentless rain continued until we reached the Tennessee state line.

So far the "STOP ENGINE" light has not re-illuminated.

"All's well that ends well" my Mamma would have said. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Whistle Stop

In Franklin, North Carolina we made one of those "have to" stops to get a repair made to the car's computer.  I call it a computer because I don't know what it really is. It's the screen that has navigation, phone, climate and entertainment in one system.  It's all touch screen and I hate it. Furthermore, it probably knows I hate it and so it went out just to spite me.  The only good thing about the whole system is that it has a "back up" camera that helps me back up a little straighter. 

On US Highway 441 in Franklin, NC

We stayed three nights at Whistle Stop Antique Mall and Campground.  Cost $20 (no tax?) per night for 50 amp full hookup.  There are absolutely NO frills -- just basic service.

It's only about a 10-12 space campground. All asphalt, good satellite signal and convenient to all of Franklin!

As we're not antiquers, I can't say if shopping at the Whistle Stop Antique Mall was good or if it wasn't.  It was a clean and seemingly well managed place though.  Lots of old equipment was parked on the property. Some of it was for sale.  

What I am qualified to talk about is pork barbecue.  The photo below is of the tiny Cash's Barbecue stand at one end of the campground on the Whistle Stop property.  It is, without a doubt, the best pulled pork barbecue I have ever eaten. The baked beans were the same --- stupendous!  I'd go back just to eat there.

During winter months Cash's closes at 2:30.
It's a lunch only place -- no dinner.

I took this picture sometime after the 2:30 (closing time) at Cash's.  From about 10:45 'till 1:30, customers are lined up to place their orders.  There's no dining room but some outside tables with umbrellas and 5-6 patio tables inside the small green building.  Everything in and around this little food stand is clean and neat.  But most importantly... the food is too good to miss if you are in Franklin, North Carolina. 

Oh! About the car: the computer had to be replaced and we learned it's a common problem.  Ours was still under warranty and the service we received  at Franklin Ford was excellent. 

All in all, it's been a good stop except for the steady rain the morning of departure. And it gets worse, but that's a subject for the next post.   

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Clemson: Some Other Tigers

The tiger is the most prevalent of all college mascot animal choices.  I know this to be a fact because it was a trivia question on ESPN last year -- and I knew the correct answer.

Wayne and I are Auburn Tigers. (Wayne would say Auburn Tigers are the real Tigers.) His parents met on the Auburn Campus in the mid 1940's and Wayne is a 1972 graduate. Auburn's tiger mascot is Aubie.

Because we lived for a time in Baton Rouge, we're quite familiar with the LSU Tigers too, who's tiger mascot is Mike.

But there's another Tiger mascot -- the Clemson Tiger who's been around since 1954. The photograph on the right is of the Clemson Tiger.  I read that he doesn't have a name -- just the Clemson tiger.  

We had a brief visit at Clemson University this week while we camped a couple of nights in Piedmont. A stop at this South Carolina historical marker gave us a good overview of the important history of Clemson University.


Clemson University Timeline Highlights

1893 - Clemson Agricultural College's student enrollment was 446

1900 - John Heisman, in his first year as head coach, led Clemson’s football team to its first undefeated season and conference championship.

1917 - The entire senior class enlisted in World War I

Clemson's athletic symbol.

1941-45 - More than 6,000 Clemson students and alumni served in WWII; 373 died, 57 from the Class of 1941. The Class of 1944 was the smallest class in Clemson history with 13 graduates.

1955 - The military system of discipline was dropped; Clemson’s first women enrolled as full-time, degree-seeking students. (The first degree granted to a woman, Margaret Marie Snider, was in 1957.)

1964 - Clemson Agricultural College was renamed Clemson University in recognition of expanded academic offerings and research pursuits

1970 - The Tiger Paw was adopted as Clemson’s athletics symbol.

2011 - enrollment was 19,900

We rode around the campus, which was impressive and rich with school spirit.  Lots of orange and purple. The weather was cooperative too.

I didn't remember until our visit but Clemson won the National Championship in 1981.

The football stadium is not completely bowled.

Tillman Hall is the name of the Clemson University clock tower building.
Auburn's clock tower is at Samford Hall.

Wayne says there are lots of similarities in Auburn and Clemson, not the least of which is that both universities bear the name of their city: Auburn, Alabama and Clemson, South Carolina.  Each also has a red brick clock tower that is significant to the school's history.
Both are land grant universities and both employed John Heisman as football coach.  There's probably some more stuff but I hesitate to ask Wayne or he'll get on one of those college trivia tears where I get more than I really want...

It's been awhile since I posted a picture of the furkids and this seemed like a good one to share.  Little Lexie is standing with her front paws on the door handle. Her pink tounge sticks out because she has no upper front teeth. Ozzie is sitting on the console between the seats. He's a real "Momma's Boy" and watched every step I took while out of the car.

Ozzie on the left, Lexie in front. Pop keeps the gang under control.
Hope you enjoyed this Clemson University visit with us. 

Yellams: Roaming Gnomes Are No More

Since I started using Blogger in 2009, and even before that when I used the old Good Sam's Trip Journal, Wayne and I have been identified as "Yellams: Roaming Gnomes".

I purposely used only our first names on the blog.  Additionally, I've always identified others in our blog only by first name.  I never consciously used a last name.  That just gave us all a little anonymity and gave a bit of protection to our identity.  There are some nuts out there, as we know.

All that changed this week when Blogger, somehow through that stupid Google+ thing, took liberties with our identity.  By accepting the terms of Google+, our old name of "Yellams: Roaming Gnomes" was replaced by my full name for all to see.  No other option.

Over the years, a few friends inquired as to the reason and origin of the name "Yellams".  It's not a big deal -- just our last name spelled backward.

And so we are who we are... for all the world to see. 

I will continue to identify friends only by first name. That will never change, unless some of that horrendous face recognition technology changes it and will not allow me to "skip" the tagging process. 

Is this really "big brother" looking over my shoulder and snooping into our old folks retirement activities?  I hope not. 

Good grief.

April 20th update:  Yellams: Roaming Gnomes makes a comeback! Realizing a whole host of problems associated with Google+, I made the all supreme sacrafice to leave Google+, which I think I was able to do with some measure of success, thankfully.  As a result, our old name, Yellams: Roaming Gnomes shows up again.  Looks like I'll suffer through not having all those "Circles" and all my photos will stop loading automatically onto the world wide web without even asking.   As a bonus, the pictures I've been trying to use on the next post have miraculously gone where I want them to go!  Hooray!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Seeing Columbia, South Carolina

The State House  

Columbia is the largest city in South Carolina and is in the center of the state. The weather was about perfect the days we visited the capitol and downtown. It was Saturday and not much was going on except for the runners, joggers and walkers who take advantage of all the streets being traffic free.

A bit of history.  Charleston was the first capitol of this fair state, but in 1786, the Assembly of South Carolina voted to move it here, to Columbia, a more central location.  In 1790 the state's legislature met in Columbia for the first time.

This is actually the third capitol building, the first being in Charleston, the second being burned in the Civil War.
Construction on this one began in 1851.
General William T. Sherman and his Union army captured South Carolina's State Capital on February 17, 1865 and burned the old State House.  All that remains to remember the original Columbia State House is this headstone.  

In addition to the loss of the old South Carolina State House, shells from Sherman's cannons hit the new building. Brass markers have been placed on the west and southwest walls of the building to show where the shots hit.
The brass stars mark where General Sherman's shots hit the State House.

Legislative Plaza

Walking around the State House and among the governmental buildings that surround it, there were plenty of monuments to read and beautiful plants to photograph.

The unusual monument in the photo below is South Carolina's memorial to the Palmetto Regiment.

The plaque states,
"South Carolina - To her sons of the Palmetto Regiment who fell in the war with Mexico Anno Domini 1847"

Another strange memorial is the one in the photograph below. This Spanish -American War monument originally held a cannon. The cannon was captured in Santiago, Cuba in 1898. In 1942, however, the cannon was removed and used as scrap iron.  Proof of the great American spirit.

This view of the South Carolina State House includes a memorial to the state's fallen law enforcement officers. 

And from this angle, the State House view includes a statue of Strom Thurman, 103rd Governor of South Carolina (1947-51) and US Senator for 48 years!

Strom Thurman was born in 1902 and died in 2003, making him 101 years of age.

The statue in the photograph below was my favorite but Wayne cut the top of it off.  It is a statue to the "South Carolina Women of the Confederacy 1861-65 -- Reared By The Men of Their State 1909-11"

This is the rear view of this beautiful statue.

Our final State House grounds photograph would include some of the beautiful blooming bushes.  In the background, the top of a church steeple can be seen.  That's our next stop.

Lexie and Ozzie had a good walk around the capitol grounds too.

Trinity Episcopal Church

The original church was dedicated here in 1814 and the present church in 1848.  The churchyard cemetery hosts the remains of five South Carolina governors, a US Senator, soldiers of the Revolutionary War and later American wars.

That's Wayne pushing Lexie and Ozzie in their pink stroller as he looks at the old headstones.

First Presbyterian Church

This First Presbyterian Church was established in the mid 1790's. In my opinion, it's the prettiest church building in town. It sits at the corner of Lady and Marion Streets. This churchyard's cemetery holds the remains of several notable figures in the history of the church and the community, including the parents of President Woodrow Wilson.  The grave of Ann Cunningham, the founder of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, credited with having saved and preserved George Washington's home, is here too.

Wayne is standing between the headstones of President Woodrow Wilson's mother and father.

The house in the picture below is the oldest house in Columbia, probably build before 1813 by Peter Horry (1747-1815), a colonel in the Revolutionary War.  In the years between 1751-1822, it was the home of John Guginard, Surveyor General of South Carolina from 1798-1802.

University of South Carolina - Home of the Gamecocks

After exploring downtown Columbia, we took a ride out to see the University of South Carolina campus.  Regular readers of this blog know we enjoy touring college campuses.  Our timing was either very good or very bad, depending on your point of view.  Today was the day of the USC Gamecock spring intersquad football game.  The crowds of fans made the visit to the stadium exciting, but driving was troublesome and we couldn't get as close to the stadium as we would have liked.   Here's what we did get to see.

Rear view of the stadium.

Tailgating fans. 
Ahhhh, the thrill of Southeast Conference Football!
In the end, Columbia, South Carolina has to go on my list of terrific cities.  I really liked it.  

Tomorrow we're moving along, making our way to east Tennessee for a rally in late April.  We'll probably make a stop or two more before then though.

Fort Jackson: Victory Starts Here

From the Charleston / Mount Pleasant area, we moved to Columbia, the capitol of South Carolina. I must say I'm falling in love with this beautiful state.  We'll be here only two nights, so on the afternoon we arrived, we set up camp and then headed over to visit Fort Jackson. 

Fort Jackson is the U.S. Army’s main Basic Combat Training center.   More than 36,000 basic training and 8,000 advanced individual training soldiers come through here every year.

Fort Jackson Headquarters Building

Fort Jackson is also home to the U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute, the Armed Forces Army Chaplaincy Center and School and the National Center for Credibility Assessment (formerly the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute). It also is home to the Army’s Drill Sergeant School, which trains all active and Reserve instructors.

Wayne wanted to see the Basic Training Museum at Fort Jackson and I strolled Lexie and Ozzie around outside while he went in for a few minutes.  Turns out the museum is an "unmanned, self-guided" tour and the stuff we really wanted to see was all outside.

There were several tanks, helicopters, armored personnel carriers, jeeps and so forth on the grounds outside the Basic Training Museum at Fort Jackson.  The layout is quite nice and all the equipment seems to be in good shape for display.

Another items, which was a real interesting piece to us, is on display.

"Bridge at Remagen -- This stone was part of the piers supporting the historic Ludendorff Bridge which once spanned the Rhine River at Remagen, Germany. A forward patrol of the US 9th Armored Division captured the bridge in a surprise attack on March 7, 1945, thereby aiding the Allies with a foothold in Germany. The bridge at Remagen played a key role in the final chapter of World War II."

Since 1917, when fighting men have been needed for war, Fort Jackson has supported the Army.

We enjoyed beautiful weather this afternoon for our visit to Fort Jackson. Tomorrow we hope to have a bit more of it to visit the capitol city's downtown area.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens and Sweetgrass Baskets

Our last day with Ken and Nancy began with Nancy's baked oatmeal. This is the really good stuff she introduced us to on our last day in Fort Myers.  Her recipe is in one of my March posts. She puts raisins and pecans in it and serves it warm with with hot milk poured over the top. Oh my goodness...

After breakfast we visited nearby Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens, just a couple of miles from our KOA Mount Pleasant Campground. The pain of $18 per person admission was quickly forgotten when we saw this...

Boone Hall Plantation's Avenue of Oaks
A timeless corridor transports visitors into the past.
This view (and the whole place) was almost a religious experience.  The azaleas were blooming and Spanish moss hung from the beautiful Southern live oaks like it had been placed there... almost like icicles on a Christmas tree. 

We took a half-dozen photos of each other.  This one of Ken and Nancy is my favorite.  Gee, I take great pictures....

Here's how the Boone Hall Plantation story goes... In 1681, an Englishman, Major John Boone, came to Charleston, began farming here and built a beautiful home. In 1743 (52 years later), his son Captain Thomas Boone, planted these live oak trees, arranging them in two evenly spaced rows.  The spectacular approach to the Boone home would become a symbol of graciousness in Southern homes. 

It would take more than 200 years for the trees to meet overhead and form the canopy seen today.

These beautiful Southern Live Oaks were the inspiration for the entry to Tara, the O'Hara plantation described in Margaret Mitchell's book and then on film as Gone With The Wind... according to our tour guide.  (I really thought the trees lined the drive to the Wilkes' Plantation, Twelve Oaks... but that's beside the point.) No Gone With The Wind scenes were shot here, however.  Photos of this entry were used to reproduce the look and an artificial scene was created for the movie (either Tara or Twelve Oaks, remains a question).  Bummer.

Of course, all that serious Boone Hall Plantation history stuff must be balanced with some nonsense, so I generated some... nonsense that is.

My "fainting from all the beautiful scenery" look.
I don't think Wayne was going to catch me if I fell either.
Boone Hall Plantation is one of America's oldest working, living plantations. The current owners continuously grow and produce crops... and have been for more than three centuries.  Once known for growing cotton and pecans, Boone Hall now grows a variety of farm-to-table produce.  The price of admission includes a tour of the workings of the plantation.

Nancy examines the cotton fibers to be sure it meets her standards.
(It's the first time she's ever seen cotton in the field!)
The mansion at Boone Hall Plantation today is not the original home.  The current mansion was built in 1936.  The upper floor is the owner's residence -- the lower level is included in the Boone Hall Plantation tour.  Interior photos are not allowed.

The interior mansion tour concludes here on the rear patio.
After a tour of the mansion, we strolled through the gardens and fell in love with the roses and camillas.

Nancy pointing to her favorite rosebush.
The Boone family and descendants of Major John Boone were influential in the history of South Carolina. John Rutledge, son of Sara Boone Rutledge, was governor of South Carolina and a contribution author of the U.S. Constitution. His brother Edward was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Furthermore, Boone Hall Plantation produced bricks to build Fort Sumter and many other prominent Charleston landmarks.

The Boone family were also slave owners and nine of the original plantation slave houses remain on the property for visitors to see. Each contains a particular part of slave life.
This row of slave houses was referred to as "Slave Street"

 Sweetgrass Baskets

In a recent post, I mentioned seeing women weaving baskets at Charleston's Market.  Those were Sweetgrass Baskets. They are coiled grass and they are among the oldest African crafts in America. Sweetgrass baskets first appeared in South Carolina during the late 17th century. The very first ones seen in this Lowcountry part of South Carolina were fanner baskets for winnowing rice.

One's ability to create Sweetgrass baskets s viewed as a gift from God. The basket making skill has been handed down from generation to generation and is learned in childhood.

This Sweetgrass basket was priced at $85

In the 1890's, sweetgrass baskets began to evolve from agricultural implements to household items like the ones in the picture above. 

In 1929, with the opening of the Grace Memorial Bridge and the paving of Highway 17 in 1931, Mount Pleasant area basket makers began a long-standing tradition of placing a chair along the roadway and displaying baskets to sell to passersby.  

This slave house provides everything you'd ever want to know about sweetgrass basket making.

Catching a glimpse of wisteria growing along the edge of Boone Hall Plantation property, I rushed over to get a close-up photo. Within a few seconds I was sitting on the ground with the camera pointed upward.

So Ken came over to foul my pictures of the beautiful wisteria blooms.
He sabotaged all my wisteria pictures....

We've walked just a small part of the plantation, but my old dogs are hurting.
I sat on a bench to get this "tired feet" picture. 

So, in the END, we made our way back to the parked car. 
It's time for some lunch!

After a relaxing Chic-Fil-A lunch, we returned to the campground, walked the dogs and hopped back into the car for a mad dash to the beach at nearby Isle of Palms.  Nancy found sand dollars here during a visit a few years ago and hopes to find more today.

No luck finding sand dollars.

The Beach at Isle of Palms

 Nancy and I snap a good luck "shadow" picture.

Nancy did find three "keepers" along the beach.
One sea urchin, a starfish and a nice multi-colored shell.
This German woman wanted to talk with her about it but couldn't speak (or understand) English.

Nancy's sea treasures.
And so after our South Carolina plantation tour and beach visit, we make our way back to the campground for the evening.  Along the way, stopped to get some good pictures of a few of the Sweetgrass basket stands.

In 1997 an historical marker was erected to commemorate the legacy and history of sweetgrass baskets and their makers. If you're ever in the Charleston, South Carolina area, you really should drive to Mount Pleasant on Highway 17 to see the roadside stands of sweetgrass baskets.

Next morning, Nancy and Ken pulled out of our KOA Mount Pleasant Campground. They're headed to Winston Salem for a week long visit with their grandchildren.

Bye bye Nancy!

We'll be leaving Charleston tomorrow morning.  Tonight we're expecting some thunderstorms and that is worrisome for poor little Ozzie's sake. We were thinking of driving on up to Myrtle Beach, but during the last day, we decided to go to Columbia instead.  Come along with us, if you'd like.