Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dayton, Tennessee: Inherit The Wind

From Spring Lake RV Park, Crossville, Tennessee   It's been almost eleven full months since our last real "first visit" tourist excursion. In early August 2014, while in Washington State, we visited Mount Baker. Within a few days though, our tourist life was interrupted. We made a long drive home to Alabama to be with my brother, who was very sick and has since passed away. The entire autumn would be spent near him. When we did leave Alabama, we went almost directly to our winter destination. While there, we didn't do much in the way of touristy things. Instead we spent our time playing golf and visiting with friends.

Today, however, we dug out our tourist hats and made a 40 minute drive southeast to Dayton, Tennessee. Neither of us had ever been here though we lived in Tennessee for many years and knew the story that made Dayton famous.

A small documentary style museum of the Scopes trial is on display in the basement of the Rhea County Courthouse. Enlarged photographs are the primary items on display.

Rhea County Courthouse (pronounced RAY) in Dayton, Tennessee
Built in 1891.  Site of "State of Tennessee v. Scopes" Trial
Superstar lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan argued opposing sides in an ACLU staged legal drama designed to pit Christianity against creationism in the courtroom as a local high school teacher began teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution . The flamboyance of the attorneys brought the case to national attention.   For a full chronology of events leading up to the trial and some other little known facts, an interesting read can be found at this National Public Radio (NPR) link.

The main exhibit room of the Scopes Monkey Trial Museum.
Ten thousand visitors converged on tiny Dayton to watch Darrow and Bryan battle over science, academic freedom and the Bible during the eleven day trial of Scopes.

In 1955, a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee debuted entitled Inherit The Wind. It fictionalized the Scopes Monkey trial. In 1960 Stanley Kramer directed actors Spencer Tracy and Fredric March in the film adaption of the play by the same name. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards but was not historically accurate.

Inside the actual courtroom where the Scopes Monkey Trail took place.
Second floor of Rhea County Courthouse.
The title, Inherit The Wind from both the play and the movie is taken from Proverbs 11:29, "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind and the fool shall be servant to the wise of the heart."

Wayne in section of courtroom seating.
These seats date back to the days of the Scopes Monkey Trial 
Scopes was found guilty in "State of Tennessee v. Scopes" but the decision was later overturned.

In front of the famous landmark. 
Lexie and Ozzie visited Dayton and the Rhea County Courthouse with us and toured the facility in their stroller. After the tour, they explored the grounds.

Lexie and Pop

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Losing Friends

Spring Lake RV Resort, Crossville, Tennessee     A friend has passed away and we are having trouble accepting that it happened. Rick and his wife, Louise were part of our Seminole Campground (N. Ft. Myers, Florida) gang. He died Saturday, June 20th, about a week after a seemingly routine hip replacement procedure.

Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan, Rick was a New Englander, through and through. 
All of us knew Rick's knees had been bad for quite a while. Louise spoke often about his reluctance to have the surgery required to make them better. During this past winter, his hip began to fail too though and I'm sure his doctor encouraged him to take action now so he would have the summer to recover.

These two pictures were taken the morning we left Seminole Campground in March 2014.
Not an early riser under normal circumstances, Rick managed to get up to say goodbye to us. 
A few days after his hospital discharge, Rick developed fever and he returned to the hospital. He was in ICU when we learned about it. Another few days and sepsis set in requiring his colon to be removed. His lungs collapsed and then his kidneys failed. He died within a few days. We are heartbroken for his wife, family and ourselves.

Our travel brings us together with lots of people with whom we have common interests. Most are in our age group and enjoy cross country travel, wintering in warm climates and camping. The older we get and the more people we meet, the more we face this inevitable occurrence. It hurts nevertheless.

One of our first year group dinner pictures.
Nearest to the camera: Rick on the left, his wife, Louise on the right. 
Rest in peace, Rick.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Surprise! Marcella and Landon Come To Crossville

Spring Lake RV Resort, Crossville, Tennessee     Got a surprise phone call this week from my dear friend, Marcella. We've been concerned she and Landon might be suffering from a terrible case of cabin fever as they found themselves at home in Ohio last winter after a surgical procedure on Landon's back left him unable to travel to Yuma. Yuma is where we met them... the first friends we made in this retirement travel journey.

I know the winter was terrible for them as they posted pictures of their Phaeton sitting quietly in deep snow far back in the yard of their home in Ohio. Wayne and I spoke of them often and hoped Landon would be recovered sufficiently to travel this year. It's been a long time since we rendevzoused with them in Custer, South Dakota in the fall of 2013.

To my great surprise and joy, Marcella said they had been at Tiffin Motorcoach in Red Bay, Alabama and were on the way to Virginia to see family.  Wait! We're right on the way!  As we spoke, they were leaving Texas T Campground, off I-65 in Cornersville, Tennessee -- just 260 miles from here. We'd see them by dinnertime! I rushed to the Spring Lake campground office to see if Pat and Leroy had a space for them. Site #12 is available for several nights.

The Phaeton is backed into Site #12 at Spring Lake.
That's Wayne off to the road side. 
Marcella, Landon and their beagle, BJ the wonder beagle arrived mid-afternoon. As always is the case with good friends, we caught up quickly on all the news of family, health and travel plans. Fortunately, Landon has recovered almost completely.

They've been to Tiffin to have a few repairs done to the Phaeton and will return home to Ohio before making an early departure for Yuma this fall.

After dinner photo at Lefty's 
For the reunion dinner, we selected Lefty's Barbecue in Crossville where Landon, Marcella and I ate fried catfish and Wayne, afraid to eat fried food, chose smoked chicken. Dessert celebration was blackberry cobbler -- without ice cream.

Ozzie re-acquainting with his old pal, BJ the wonder Beagle. 

More visiting at our place after dinner where Ozzie and Lexie got to renew their acquaintance with BJ, who is moving much more slowly now at age 14 years.

With a plan already in place to visit family in Virginia, Landon and Marcella would only get to stay two nights with us at Spring Lake in Crossville, but that gave us one full and one half day to spend together. We spent the full day relaxing around the campsite with a plan to cook steaks on the grill for early dinner.

...and all went well with the plan for rib eyes, baked potatoes and fresh corn on the cob until almost time to start the grilling. That's when the clouds rolled in and the rain began. Sprinkles, followed by rain and finally with a touch of thunder and lightening.

Marcella and Landon. BJ can't be seen but he's close by. 
Not easily discouraged, we took our dinner, our dogs and ourselves inside where we ate in a near constant state of laughter. Ozzie was afraid of thunder so he sat in my lap as I ate. BJ, the wonder beagle, wandered continually around the table, occasionally sticking his big head between our knees, looking up to us as if to ask for a bite of steak. We obliged.  Marcella had brought along a "sock it to me" cake which was a first for Wayne and me. It was delicious and I helped myself to two nice sized pieces.

The Wayner and me. Ozzie is in my lap.  

Between rain and thundershowers, Marcella, Landon and BJ retreated to their coach and would leave here by 8:30 next morning in route to their next stop to see family.

As we are planning to travel the southwest in the fall, followed by our first trip to Alaska, we expect to see Marcella and Landon next January. Even so, it's not fun to say goodbye to them today.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Taking Our Golf Game To The Next Level

Spring Lake RV Resort, Crossville, Tennessee     The inexpensive boxed sets of second hand golf clubs we bought in Florida last February served us well, but as expected, the time came to upgrade. Still new to golf, I could have continued to use mine for a while longer but it served no real purpose to do that and we decided we each would get new clubs.

My beginner set of Knight brand golf clubs.
Ready for a new owner. 

Wayne's set is ready for a new home too. 
We are still at Spring Lake RV Resort in Crossville, Tennessee where golf is everywhere but beginner golf clubs might be tough to sell. Mostly retirees come here and they are typically well equipped for golf already. Anyway, I advertised our old clubs on Craigslist and within two days, sold both sets to a young man and his girlfriend, from nearby Cookeville, for $25 less than we paid for the combined sets in February. That worked out well enough.

Now, though, without any golf clubs, we would be forced to get serious about making a decision on brands, models, price and then the final step of making the purchases.  Being hardest to please, we concentrated on Wayne first. We did our homework about golf clubs for seniors and began researching the brands and models that we felt best suited for us.We both settled on the idea of graphite clubs. Ladies for me -- seniors for him.

While golf courses are plentiful in this area, golf equipment retailers aren't. The nearby pro shops had only a few sets, very limited brands and we couldn't get enough personalized attention to get serious about buying from them. We knew we needed to be properly fitted and we wanted plenty of practice swings to make a decision and that would take someone to take an interest.

Looking... at the stores. 
Our golf club search moved on to Knoxville, about 60 miles east of Crossville, where we found an Edwin Watts retail store and a more motivated sales staff. Wayne was measured, fitted and hit hundreds of balls with a variety of clubs. We attended a manufacturers' demo day too where Wayne continued to hit balls with senior graphite clubs by Adams, Mizuno, Taylor Made, Ping, Callaway, Wilson, Cobra, Titleist and Nike to name a few. He was exhausted but formed some important ideas about what felt best . He had also made progress in correcting the terrible hook developed last winter.

Swinging... at Demo Day.
He's at the Adams display in this picture. 
This is probably a good place to insert an important fact. While Wayne grew up playing golf and played for many years, he has never picked out a set of clubs for himself. Because his father was such an avid and good golfer, Wayne always was supplied with quality clubs handed down from his dad. He is especially excited and careful about the experience of actually making the selection of his clubs and accessories this time.

Talking... and listening... to everyone.
...and more swinging.
That's him on the far right on the blue markers
At last Wayne's selection was made with the help of a nice discount from the manufacturers Demo Day. He selected and brought home his new irons and driver. He ordered his bag and fairway wood for shipment directly to the campground. At home that evening, we ordered Auburn head covers, towels, umbrella and golf glove. The next week was like Christmas and he was like a little boy.

Big boy with new toys.
Here's the new fairway wood.
Opening all the boxes - one at a time.
Last but not least... the Auburn golf bag. 
With Wayne's golf club purchase out of the way, I could then concentrate on buying mine. I looked at complete sets online and in stores and didn't care for what I found. I like using irons and dislike hybrids but most sets came with few irons and plenty of hybrids. Other complications, like white bags and too few of the clubs I wanted added to my frustration.

Then during an online search for golf equipment, I came upon U.S. Golf and Tennis on Genesis Road right here in Crossville. I couldn't find a website for the company and they didn't have a presence on Facebook. I did find one customer review and it was unflattering but we became curious nevertheless.  Anyone who knows Wayne and me know that we love shopping. The single negative review concentrated on the store's clutter and unkempt appearance which doesn't bother us. Sounded intriguing. We made a plan to stop in the next day.
U.S. Golf and Tennis
A building with an addition, and another and another and another.
The place is huge and completely full of merchandise.
U.S. Golf and Tennis is about a half mile off I-40 on Genesis Road near Crossville's Outlet Center. Lexie and Ozzie were in the car with us the first time we stopped. Wayne went in to look around while I sat in the car with the dogs. Pets are not allowed inside. Some 30 to 35 minutes later, when Wayne had not emerged from the sprawling building, I went in to look for him. I was warmly greeted by the lady behind the counter and then overwhelmed by the content of this store. Wow. Stuff was everywhere. Displays, boxes, racks, signs, stacks and heaps of merchandise. Golf merchandise mostly, with a little tennis stuff too. Oh, I knew Wayne was somewhere deep within these walls having a shoppers field day.

U.S. Golf and Tennis from the other side. 
In a far distant corner of another section of the store Wayne was buried among the golf clubs, accessories, shoes and bags. He introduced me to Arthur, owner of U.S. Golf and Tennis, a pleasant man who welcomed our browsing, offered advise when needed and answered questions when we had them.

Arthur amid the thousands of golf clubs and bags in his store.
He has a serious look but actually has a very good sense of humor.
It was needed to outfit me with golf clubs. 
Wayne and I would return time and time again to U.S. Golf and Tennis before we actually even made a purchase. Hours flew by like minutes.  Ladies Eastland golf shoes were on sale for $20 a pair -- and there were literally hundreds of pairs. Other brands were discounted 50%.  I tried on shoes, I shuffled boxes, I rested when I got tired and washed my hands when they got dirty from box shuffling. What a shopping thrill this turned out to be for us.

My new, soft leather Eastland golf shoes - $20
We had to learn to lace kilties. 
My clubs, bag and all my golf accessories would be purchased from U.S. Golf and Tennis. We met Arthur's wife, Louise, who I came to like so very much. Their story of getting to this point in the business was ever so fascinating. We learned that U.S. Golf and Tennis supplies many of the local pro shops too.

Arthur's wife, Louise behind the counter at U.S. Golf and Tennis in Crossville.
Louise and Arthur know what's in all the boxes and all the bins in all the rooms in every section of this store. 
My golf equipment would, in the end, consist of a full set of name brand ladies graphite clubs, driver, fairway wood, bag, head covers (including iron covers), towels, gloves and more for about half of the cost of Wayne's set even with the manufacturers discount. Wayne found himself a beautiful new pair of Nike golf shoes and we loaded ourselves with miscellaneous other golf merchandise. 

In the center of the picture, hard to see, there's Wayne and Arthur.
New golf bags (in plastic) line the perimeter of this section of the building.
The icing on the cake of my golf club buying experience was the sweet young lady in the photo below. Tiffany manages counter sales and has, quite simply, a wonderful attitude and customer service skills that any business owner would envy. She worked tirelessly in the store and welcomed every customer with a smile while we were there. 

Saved the best for last -- Tiffany.
Simply great at what she does for U.S. Golf & Tennis  
As often and as long as we visited U.S. Golf and Tennis, we occasionally found ourselves famished at lunchtime. When that happened, we enjoyed lunch at the Log Cabin Restaurant just around the corner.

Log Cabin Restaurant.
Around the corner from U.S. Golf and Tennis
Crossville, Tennessee

War Eagle! 

A House? No Way!

Spring Lake RV Resort, Crossville, Tennessee    
We came to Crossville, Tennessee in early May to play golf. Crossville is said to the "the golf capitol of Tennessee" with at least eight courses within a twenty mile radius. Why, there's even one community here with five, yes five, courses!

Excited as we were though, the first few weeks here, we couldn't play because I was still "under the weather" with the head cold. But once I felt better, we began to explore the golf options and found ourselves really caught in the fever. What a great place! Let's just stay here all summer!

The previous winter we had given some thought to buying a lot for the coach... a place of our own where we could park for a couple of months in spring and fall and be near family, doctors and medical facilities. Crossville might be a good location to serve that purpose and so I set about exploring the real estate options.

Lake Tansi, on the south side of Crossville, is a nice development with great golf, and a lot ownership RV community. I checked out the listings and we both got excited. The golf course there is well kept, but the RV community at Holiday Out RV Park at Tansi was a huge disappointment with old junked out trailers, tarped and broken down cars throughout. Bummer.

Another lot ownership community is on the other side of town, nearer to where we are staying and we looked there too. But Deer Run RV Resort was no better, just different, perhaps worse... with a mile of loose gravel road going into the community. Our hopes were fading.

Yet another Crossville location, Fairfield Glade, is a premier retirement golfing community but it doesn't have accommodations for full-time RV'ers so that didn't work for us either. To live there and enjoy membership golf, we would be required to vacate the coach and live in a house. We tossed that idea too.

One other possibility was explored. The Gardens is a community of villa style homes with attached RV garages but it didn't appeal to us and like with the previous location, we would have to park the coach in the garage and live in the house. We want to continue to live in our motorhome and not vacate it. The plan was dashed.

So at this point in time, the property ownership idea has been abandoned and we are loving our spot at Spring Lake. We will remain here as long as possible, practical and desirable, playing the area golf courses as non-members and enjoying the huge mowed grass lot behind us for practice.

Not much wrong with that plan.