Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Amish Way of Life, Berlin, OH

Thursday, 6/30/11 - For our last full day at Wally World we decided to take a drive down into the Amish country which is about 30 miles east of us. We asked the girlfriend, GPS to take us to Berlin, OH and she was happy to accommodate us. Actually, she took a short cut which was not a good idea but we eventually got there but definitely came home another route.

Berlin is a small community on SR 39/62 and has stores....Will would call them junk stores....on both sides of the main street. Most all of them are Amish; furniture, crafts, quilts, restaurants, etc. There are lots of Amish buggies parked and being driven around town. We saw many Amish adults, ladies with their black hats, girls with white hats and men and boys with straw hats. We parked the car and walked in and out of shops but I knew Will would not last long with that so I checked my "tour book" and we headed out for Heini's Cheese Chalet where the cheese is made. They have factory tours, lots of tasting of cheese and of course you can purchase not only cheese, but fudge and jams and jellies. Of course I was tasting every thing as Will tasted NOTHING, something about not having lunch yet, which escapes me what one has to do with the other. After I tasted the cheese, I did NOT need lunch, oh well!

We then headed down to Schrock's Amish Farm & Village which offered Amish buggy rides, a self guided Amish home tour plus a restaurant and quilt shop. This sounded great as I always wanted to ride in an Amish buggy. We pulled in the parking lot and then with an incredible amount of nerve, we took our ice chest with our lunch that we brought & sat out in front of their restaurant in the shade on their chairs and ate and watched the people. Of course after that, we went in and bought our tickets for the buggy ride and tour of the Amish home.

We went outside to find Henry, our buggy driver and what a wonderful Amish gentlemen he was. He introduced us to his horse, Shirley (we got a laugh out of that one) and off we went. They have a road around the property (about a 10 minute ride) and Henry talked and answered all our questions. First, he has lived here all his life, had a farm of 137 acres, which he sold to his son-in-law some time back. He has 7 children and 4 stayed Amish and 3 became Mennonite....he said, "like you." Which he still gave them property to build a house on and he told us he treated them the same as the other kids. Our favorite story about Henry was that he goes to Sarasota, Florida for the winter, they have an Amish community down there. As they only use buggies for transportation, for long distances they hire a driver and car to take them. It was so interesting and we loved the buggy ride and talking with Henry.

Then we went into the house for our tour, Amelia, an Amish lady, is there making and selling jams, jellies, fudge and available to answer any and all questions you might have. She doesn't live there but comes each day to answer questions and cook. We wandered through the house. me snapping pictures, oh yes, card #3 just got filled up and we haven't been gone 2 months. YIKES!!!! Another family was there asking many, many questions about the Amish way of life and we stood and listened and it was so interesting. Because Amelia is handicapped (she had polio as a child & uses crutches) and because the Amish have no electricity and using oil in her house, where she lives alone, was to dangerous, the church has allowed her to use solar panels. Just as she has no phone at home, but is allowed to use the phone in the tour house. A wonderful, home filled with old fashion furniture, a wood stove, an ice box and just so interesting to see. After we left the home, we wandered into the quilt shop which was filled with incredible quilts on two floors, of course I left empty handed.

Our last stop was to the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center/Behalt an introduction to their culture, in a large circular room, a stunning 10 ft high, 265 ft circular mural depicting Amish, Mennonite and Hutterites heritage. Well this was truly amazing. You go into this room that has the mural around the room, with chairs placed in front of it, all around the room. A young Amish girl started at the first panel of Christ and then explained each and every panel and what they represented in the history of Amish and Mennonites. As she moves, so does the audience, we take chairs in front of where she is speaking. The art work is amazing, it was done by a Catholic artist and I don't remember how many years it took him but he was in his 80's when he passed away. The main thing we learned is that the Amish and Mennonites were one religion and then one leader who wanted to stay more conservative and not so worldly split and the other group became Mennonites. We learned so much today that I think my brain is on over load but it was a very informative day and really enjoyable. We returned home this afternoon, dead tired but happy and tomorrow after nine days we leave Wally World for the outside world. Much love to all family and friends.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Australian Friends at Wally World, Loudenville, OH

Wednesday, 6/29/11 - As I was taking my 3 mile walk this morning, a woman called out to me, "remember us, the Australian couple touring the USA and we met in Little Rock, AK?" I was shocked, I never would have recognized Alison, but as soon as we started speaking, I remembered immediately. When I got home I told Will and he was amazed. What are the odds of meeting someone in a campground June 3rd in Arkansas and then again June 29th in Loudenville, has to be small. Jeff and Alison purchased a reconditioned class C camper in the USA and are driving and touring the USA for 6 months. The amount of time they can stay here. The also unbelievable thing, when they are finished touring they are storing the camper (for when they return here next year) in Bakersfield, CA and taking a bus to the LA airport to return home!!!! What a small world it really is.

Will and I walked over to their campsite and sat out and visited with Jeff and Alison for a while and shared travel stories, what great fun. They showed us pictures of their family and then two fabulous pictures of the view from their condo where they live on the Gold Coast of Australia. It is a condominium and they live on the 23rd floor, which there is only ONE condo per each floor. The spectacular views are of the Pacific Ocean, a soccer field and city from their place. They said they drive their car only once a week as they can walk everywhere and there are 82 restaurants within walking distance. When they retired they moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast which they said is a world class surfing area and by the way, Jeff is my age and has been surfing (and still surfing) over 50 years. I'm telling you Will and I are ready to pack up and go visit them......but we will wait until they get home.

To celebrate our "reunion of sorts" we took our car and had dinner back at The Iron Pony, a big bar and dining room. The ladies had fish, the guys had roast beef and we must have sat in that booth for a couple of hours just talking and laughing. It was a very fun evening and although Jeff and Alison leave tomorrow we hope our paths will cross again, someday. The fabulous trip across the USA continues and I send much love to all family and friends and especially our new Australian friends.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Still in Mohican Country, Loudonville, OH

Tuesday, 6/28/11 We are still here in Loudonville but the best part is Will is ALL better and we leave this Friday. Actually, it's very beautiful here and has been very restful for both of us....the worse part has been NO PHONE SERVICE, this is Verizon country and we are both ATT. Fortunately, I have a Verizon card for computer service which is our only way to the "outside world."

Today, we took a ride into Mohican State Park and saw beautiful dogwood trees, however, they are not in bloom. We drove down to see the covered bridge, which is a new, steel version of an old fashion bridge. We wanted to see the two falls they have here, Big Lyons Falls and Small Lyons Falls. The trailhead was at the Covered Bridge and a 2 mile hike, one way. As we started out a family was coming back and said the hike was very pretty but the falls had very little water and it actually was not worth the walk. What luck was that.....we walk only a short way, found a bench and sat down to just enjoy the beauty of the place then headed back to car in the parking. Great Hike!

The other thing people say you can't miss here.....go see the Gorge Overlook so we headed out for that place. Now, the only other gorge we saw was in the state of Washington and it was fabulous, so we were excited. We found the Gorge and another dissappointment, very beautiful but nothing but trees and more trees, no water. With that we felt that was enough outing for this day and we were in need of a nap, which is exactly what we did, went home and slept. It's amazing how tired you can get......doing nothing!

The best thing I did today was go and weight in at Weight Watchers, that's to keep my lifetime membership FREE and found I had lost 3.4 lbs. Great news while on the road. Much love to all family and friends and I can't wait to talk to you guys on the phone next week.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shawshank Redemption Prison Tour-Mansfield, Ohio

Thursday, 6/23/11 - We are keeping it very low key in Wally World, lots of relaxing and Will seems to be getting better.....Thank you Lord. It's been fun just sitting and watching the people come in for the weekend. My guess is this place is going to be crazy on the 4th of July weekend.

Friday, 6/24/11 - We took the RV and Saturn into the town, Loudonville to the one and only garage, Harris Automotive. Very nice people and they got us right in at 8 am and had both vehicles serviced by 1 pm and at a really reasonable price. Will was very happy. While the work was being done we walked both sides of Main Street, in and out of shops. Unfortunately, because of the economy many of the little shops on Main Street have gone out of business.

Sunday, 6/26/11 - Today is the day we have BOTH been waiting for......a tour of the Ohio State Reformatory Prison, where Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One were filmed. We are great fans of Shawshank Redemption and knowing we would be Ohio for sometime I started looking a what there was to do here and low and behold.....the prison is located between Columbus and Cleveland, right off I-71.

The Reformatory was opened in September 1896 and after housing over 155,000 men in its lifetime closed the prison doors on December 31, 1990. The Reformatory combined three architectural styles - Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Ann. This was done to encourage inmates back to a "rebirth" of their spiritual lives. Oh did Will love that line! There is more than 250,000 sq ft and houses the world's largest free-standing steel cell block. It has large granite pillars, Gothic columns and is listed on the National Register of Historic places. As we drove up the view of this place is spectacular and amazing to see. There is an actual prison build behind this structure and we were able to see prisoners out in the exercise yard when we arrived.

This place is run by all volunteers, they have only 2 paid workers. All money from tours are put back into keeping this place open. When we approached the gate at 11:30 am there were all ready people waiting to get in. The gates open at 12:30 and the tours start at 1:00 pm so we decided to go down the street and have lunch and come back. When we returned there were 3 cars in line at the gate and the gate was opening so we got in line and drove in. What we didn't know at that moment, the line were the volunteers reporting "to work" and the gate closed on everyone else. How hysterical is that! They told us we could park in the lot and just wait until the tickets went on sale at 12:30 pm. I of course jumped out of the car and started taking pictures of the prison from every angle and it was other people messing up my pictures. And of course we were first in line for the selling of tickets.

They offer three tours: West Tower, where you climb to the Guard Tower up a spiral staircase and see the cemetery where inmates were buried. East Cell Block: Travel the length of the East Cell Block, the world's largest, free-standing steel cell block. You also go through the Catholic Chapel and the Warden's living quarters. Hollywood Tour: (the one we took) See the "Shawshank" Prison Warden's office, the mail room, parole board room and Andy Dufresne's escape tunnel and the "Hole" Andy was thrown into. We saw the "hotel room" that was used where Brooks scratched into the board before he hung himself....."Brooks was here." Our guide was terrific, giving us lots of tidbits about the movie and the actors.

This was an amazing day and I can't wait to come back and take the other two tours plus go see some of the other locations they used around town in filming of this movie. There is a great website that tells about these places and I really wanted to see the wall and old Oak tree (Malbury Farms) where Andy buried the money for Red to find and come to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. A very fun day and we finished it off with a visit to WalMart in Mansfield and then home to have dinner. Much love to all family and friends. PS...the sun came out today, hurray!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wally World Resort, Loudonville, Ohio (say what?)

Tuesday, 6/21/11 - We left beautiful Kentucky and are headed for Ohio. Unfortunately, Will has a bad cold and doesn't feel well but he is being a real "trouper" and driving the RV. Of course he has no choice as he is the ONLY one here who can drive it. We find another Lebanon only this is Lebanon, Ohio an is less than a 200 miles drive so we will spend the night so Will can rest. Historic Lebanon is a darling town and wish I could have another day to explore but we will only spend the night and move on closer to Cleveland. At the prices they charge here per night, $42, we need to find a cheaper place for the long haul.

Wednesday, 6/22/11 - Ok, we found a cheaper place, Wally World Resort and NO it is NOT a Wal Mart parking lot, that is the name of the place as it is on Wally Road....isn't that clever. It is a Coast to Coast campground which is about $10 a night...we will stay here for 7 days, the maximum we are allowed through Coast to Coast. I will try to "sweet talk" them out of 2 extra days before we need to meet Nancy & Howard in Cleveland, but who knows, with the holiday coming up, Wally World is filling up. This place was just recently purchased and they are doing a lot of work and ONE day it will be very nice, it just NOT today. But we don't care, it's a cheap place to stay.

It is near the town Loudonville, Ohio which is located on the edge of Mohican State Park & Forest . This place is called "the canoe capital of Ohio" and our campground sits right on the river that they canoe on. Along Wally Road are many RV parks and lots of Canoe Liveries, where you can rent canoes and rafts to go out on the river. In talking with the people here, because of the tremendous amount of rain they have had the river is running at full capacity and very swift and cold. Today we saw a couple rafts out there on the river which looks far to dangerous for me. This area is very green and beautiful and we have had several rain storms through out the day. The weather is suppose to clear up for the next few days.

Will still doesn't feel well and is doing lots of sleeping, resting and reading and I have cleaned and washed everything in the RV and have only 6 more days here. HELP..........................However, tomorrow (Friday) we have an appointment at the only garage in town, to have the RV and Saturn serviced. So we will spend the day in their cute little downtown (Main Street, what else?) that is 3 blocks long. Hopefully, the sun will come out soon and I will be able to lay by the pool and of course that will make everything OK for me. Oh how I miss those 100 plus days in Fresno.

We just learned today via the TV that Churchill Downs had a tornado/rain storm one week after we visited them. How's that for timing and thank goodness we got to see it as it was definitely on our "bucket list."

So looking forward to seeing Nancy & Howard for the 4th of July in Cleveland and Kim, Bill & Eric on July 20th in Dayton, Ohio. Much love to all family and friends.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, KY-The Horse Capital of the World

Monday, 6/20/11 - Will said he wanted to see a horse park and boy did we, we spent over 6 hours at the Kentucky Horse Park today. We are staying in the Horse Parks campground which is located right next door so about 9:30 am we headed over there. A must see website

When you enter the Visitors Center you get a map of the grounds and a schedule of the activities. The first activity was at 10 am a Trolley Tour, however, when we arrived there were to many people waiting in line and we would miss the next activity at 10:15 am - Hall of Champions, so we headed over there instead. We were seated around a show ring and they bring the horses in from their barns and parade them in front of us. These were all famous racetrack winners that are now kept here at the Horse Park. The most famous was Cigar, who won 16 races in a row, which is a record. This horse earned almost 10 million while racing. The stud fees would have been unbelievable, but unfortunately, Cigar turned out to be sterile and this cost the insurance company over 25 million. They brought out about 4 more horses and one was actually bred in Fresno. It was great fun as they also showed on the overhead TVs, clips of the horses while racing.

The next activity was the Parade of Breeds Show at 11 am which highlighted selected breeds; the riders wore authentic costumes while putting the horse through their paces and the announcer explained the heritage of the horse. My favorite was the Tennessee Walker, a high stepper unfortunately I don't know the types of the other horses they showed but it was very interesting. Afterwards, the riders remained on their horses and came to the fences where we could pet them and ask questions of the riders. After this show was to be the Mare and Foal Show in the same arena, which turned out to be a disappointment as we thought it would be mom and baby, but all they showed were miniature horses. I guess its the wrong time of the year for mares and foals.

By now it's noon and we head back over to the restaurant for lunch and a chance to relax. Great fun there as they had on the TVs - 4 different racetracks, all showing horse races. OMG, I was in heaven, Will could have left me there. But no, off we went back on "the circuit."

We head back to the Trolley Tour which is a trolley pulled by a John Deere a horse farm no less, even the kid next to us was complaining, how come they don't use horses to pull the trolleys? Good question kid! But it was interesting, they drove us all around, showing us different areas and what they were used for and we were able to see where we wanted to go back and visit. When we left the trolley we did just that, starting with the different barns - the Carriage barn, the Farrier & Tack shop, the Draft barn, the American Saddlebred museum, the Horse Cemetery and the Arabian Horse museum. Now all of this is so interesting but takes many hours and lots of reading, taking pictures and walking.

We head back to the MAIN International Museum to see the movie, The Kentucky Horse Park, 2010 & Beyond, tour the museum, buy a few postcards and our last stop is to see the famous Man o' War Memorial. A beautiful setting and gorgeous statue of this horse plus several plaques placed around the statue telling the story of Man o' War. So many interesting things about this horse but the one that amazed us, was he had a stride of 28 feet. They had this marked off & had you to walk this length and see how many steps you took within 28 feet. Will had 11 and I had 13 inside the marker. By now the sky has gotten very dark and looks like it is going to open up and pour rain down on us. We are so tired but had a great experience and learned more about horses than we ever thought possible, but then when we arrived home, the sun came much for Kentucky weather. Much love to all family and friends.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mingling with the Horsey Set, Lexington, KY

Sunday, 6/19/11 - We woke up this morning in Sheperdsville to a repeat of the weather yesterday, lightning, thunder and lots of heavy rain. Actually, there was a tornado warning on the TV for a county very close to us. I want you to know friends no matter what the weather is anytime at home - Fresno/Clovis it's a whole lot better than they have back here.

It stopped raining about 11 am and Will was finally able to unhook and get us ready to leave. We decided we wanted to see Lexington, KY where all the beautiful horse ranches are so I picked a campground call Kentucky Horse Park which has on it's property a working horse park with museum and every available thing you would want to see. Seemed like a no brainer to make a reservation here and it's only 90 miles east of us.

Will has been desperate to get his filthy RV washed and we spotted down at the local truck stop a car wash for big trucks where they also do RVs. So when we left this morning we drove over there and the guy working did a wonderful job. Will was thrilled to once again have a clean RV.

The drive to Lexington was beautiful but we were getting anxious as we were NOT seeing any horse farms.....where are all the beautiful white rail fences and high class horses that are out in the pasture, we saw nothing but cows....go figure. As we got closer we started to "smell the money" and the beautiful places started to appear. We found our RV park and couldn't believe how beautiful it was. It is over 1,200 acres between the campground and horse park, large old trees and everything is green. There are 260 RV spaces here in an absolutely, beautiful park setting with at least 1 1/2 RV spaces between each RV. We are staying close to the camp store where the laundry facilities are as I need to do washing. It was nice to get that done & cook a real meal this evening. Tomorrow, we head out to see the Horse Park and how the other half live. Much love to all family and friends.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Louisville, KY

Saturday, 6/18/11 - About 5 am this morning the lightning, thunder and lots of rain poured down on us. It's absolutely the reason Kentucky is so green and beautiful. The lightning show was spectacular and the thunder was louder than I can remember ever was something to see. The rain continued until about 9:30 am when we decided we could venture out to the Louisville Slugger, to see how baseball bats are made in downtown Louisville.

We told the girlfriend where we wanted to go and "walla" off she takes us, unfortunately we messed up (not her) and she got us back on track. It was great being in the downtown area on Saturday as it was pretty quiet. We found the place, with a parking lot right behind and we were off for another experience. As you come up to the front of the building there is the largest bat in the world leaning up against the building (Wills guess is a 100 ft tall.) Actually, we spotted that bat while driving to the museum, blocks away.

As soon as you buy your ticket, you are assigned a tour, we were 11 am so had about 15 minutes. The museum is fabulous, a wonderful history on a lot of the old time players, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle and so many more. They had a place where you could take, NOT buy their pictures, pictures we take, so Will chose a Mickey Mantle bat (you have to wear gloves while holding the bat) and I took a picture of him. It was pretty cool. He of course took my picture with Mickey's bat also.

It was now time for our tour and they took us through the entire process of turning a hunk of wood into the Official Bat of MLB. We all got to hold the different bats that are made for baseball players. If a player wants to use a Louisville Slugger bat, he signs a contract and receives $5,000 and they provide him with (I think) 120 bats a season. The player chooses the finish color, and all the dimensions he wants for his bat. When he signs that contract, they use that signature on every bat that he gets. Of course they had lots of players but I only remember (duh) Derek Jeter and Buster Posey. It seemed like the equipment was so old looking until we got to the CNC machine that changed the entire process of making bats into an "exact science." At the end of the tour we all received a mini Louisville Slugger bat.

My favorite story our guide told us was how the company I don't remember dates/names but here goes. A baseball player, who's nickname was "Louisville Slugger" broke his bat and a young friend of his, Bud, who's father made butter churns at the time offered to take him to the shop and make a new bat for him. He did and the butter churn business fell off and the rest is history. That same family still runs the business.

After the tour, we watched a 20 minute movie, The Heart of the Game, with none other than Derek Jeter among others. We wandered all around the museum which had a mixture of old and current players and was incredibly interesting. They also had a great special exhibit of Norman Rockwell sports paintings, many of his sports covers for Saturday Evening Post magazine (anyone remember that?) and a movie about Norman Rockwell narrated by his son. It was a great exhibit and we were so glad we got to see it. Oh and you can only imagine the amount of pictures that were taken (I probably already need another picture card already.)

When we left the museum on Main right in front of the L.S. building is a trolley stop, which is a free trolley that you can get off and on. The entire ride is about 15 minutes up Market St and back down Main St to the museum. While on the trolley, we got off and had lunch in a nice restaurant....actually we both had breakfast, our favorite meal. We rode the trolley some more, got off and walked around, took pictures of the Ohio River and lots of the old buildings in the area. Now we could have taken a tour through Colonel Sanders Museum but unfortunately (wink, wink) I forgot to get the information.

When we arrived home, Will took his customary afternoon nap and I headed out for the Awesome Flee Market (that's the name of it) located right next door, as in I just walked over. It was a huge, old barn with rows and rows of "stuff." If you ever wanted to know where to buy a Confederate flag or anything else Confederate, it's at the Awesome Flee Market. They take their flee markets serious here, there's even a food court. I wandered up and down the rows, bought Will 8 used cowboy books for Father's Day and me an ice cream and watched a college baseball game while eating it. Yes, it was quite a day. Much love to all family and friends.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY

Friday, 6/17/11 - This one will be a "most favorite" day of the trip. I grew up watching the Kentucky Derby and loved going to the Fresno Fair (years ago) with "the girls" to bet on the horses. So today, was a "bucket list" item, visit Churchill Downs where the "Derby" is run. And I will say, the day did NOT disappoint!

We arrive around 9:45 am as it was only a 30 minute drive from Grandma's RV park. We found the museum parking lot, which is free if your are visiting the museum and headed into this gorgeous place that already looked so familiar to me. It is actually, Spring racing season now, which would limited tours, but today is evening racing, starting at 6:00 pm. They are trying to attract a younger crowd to the racetrack, so set up everywhere are bands and lots of entertainment, beside horse racing. Actually, the last race is run at 11:30 pm.

We entered the museum and bought the "trifecta of tours" which consists of - museum entrance, historic walking tour, barn and backside tour and behind the scenes tour.....this was an all day affair.

We first entered the museum and the entrance was the "coolest" - you walked through a green starting gate where the horse break for a race & right in front of you is a huge screen with the Kentucky Derby playing & the horses running right at you. It was fabulous! They have a room dedicated to the "hats" worn on derby day and so much history of Churchill Downs & the Kentucky Derby. We even placed a "bet" and watched a race....I got zip, Wills horse he bet on to win was second/placed. On the second floor the changing exhibit was about jockey, Willie Shoemaker. Lots of film of races, interviews with him and his life story. What is so unbelievable is he raced until the age of 54 and after retirement was in an automobile accident returning from a golf game and was paralyzed from the neck down.

Our first tour was the Barn and Backside Tour that lasted about 1 hour and we were driven in a van to see the racehorses. There are more than 1400 stalls and most are full during the racing season. I asked Natalie, our tour guide, if I could sit up front with her and she said yes, the picture taking was fabulous!!!! We saw horses being bathed, many of the people who work behind the scenes of the racetrack & where they live. We did not see any horses being exercised on the track as that is done between 6 am to 10 am. We did stop & get out and were able to take pictures from "the back side" of the track.

Our next tour was Behind the Scenes Tour that lasted 1 1/2 hours and was a walking tour. This one was probably the most interesting because we first went into the Jockey's Quarters. Two things, if it's a race day, there are no tours here, but because it is an evening race there were people and jockeys inside. Actually, we met jockey Calvin Borell's nephew that works in the jockey room (I got a picture.) We saw the beautiful racing silks, weight scales, the therapy room and our guide Barry said the jockey room is very original as horse people especially jockeys are very superstitious and want NOTHING changed. They say there has never been a Triple Crown Winner since Churchill Downs built a new paddock!

Next on our tour we headed for Millionaire's Row where the celebrities and VIPs watch the race. When Queen Elizabeth was here a few years ago, this was where she watched the race from & only would accept a White House dinner invitation if she could bring the winning jockey with her.....Calvin Borell and yes he went. Lots of very rich panelling throughout and a spectacular view of the track and twin spirals. They said that on Derby day 160 million, ALL IN CASH, is bet that day.

Next we headed into the Press Box area, which is at the highest level and the view from their balcony is something else. I must have taken 25 pictures of just the famous Twin Spirals from every angle possible. I went through 2 batteries on this trip.

The last tour was the Historic Tour which came with your museum entrance. We went into the betting areas, out into the winners circle, where the horses are brought after winning the race. The Kentucky Derby winner circle is separate from this and is only used on Derby day.

All in all this was a fabulous day and one we both really enjoyed. We were dead tired when we left Churchill Downs at about 3:30 pm but girlfriend, GPS got us home in record time....I drove. Much love to all family and friends.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Abraham Lincoln Museum, Hodgerville, KY

Thursday, 6/16/11 - We leave Park City and head for Shepherdsville, KY a small town outside Louisville, KY and a side note: we are now on Eastern time, 3 hours ahead of CA. I had a heck of a time finding an RV park near Louisville, but finally found Grandma's RV Campground in our Trailer Life book. While heading North on I65 for Shepherdsville we see a historic marker for Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, his boyhood home and a museum located in Hodgerville. We make a split decision to head off and see if we can find them - easier said than done with a 35' RV plus tow car on the back roads of Kentucky.

We actually find the town of Hodgerville pretty easy and even more exciting a place to park the RV & car. It's a cute little town and the museum is located on a "round about" and in the center of the round about is a statue of Abe himself. We go over to the museum, which I might note is located right next door to Nancy's Gifts and Florist shop. The museum is wonderfully done, they have 12 individual scenes of Abe's life starting with The Cabin Years 1809-1816 and ending with Ford's Theatre - April 14, 1865. The museum is two stories and just filled with everything Abe Lincoln...this will probably be one of Wills favorite stops. The museum lady tells us how to find Abe's birthplace & boyhood home....but alas, we don't have our girlfriend, GPS giving us directions and the roads are so narrow & very hard to find anyplace to turn around. We decide the museum is enough & let the girlfriend get us back on I65 for our RV park, which of course she did. Grandma's got a nice RV park and the sign said, when we arrived, Grandma is napping, pick any spot and check in latter.

Well I finally got caught up with the blog, it's been non stop for several days and I have returned at night to tired to "check in" but today....I got the blog all caught up and the washing done.... so much love to all our family and friends and a special shout out to you have something new to read with breakfast......

Corvette Museum & Assembly Line Tour, Bolling Green, KY

Wednesday, 6/15/11 - Ever since Pete from GB3, a very proud Corvette owner, told me about the Corvette Museum I have wanted to see it. I once went on a Corvette rally to Stockton with my dear, late friend Eva and of course Old Rog, of my retiree group has had a Corvette forever (currently a 1961) and taken me many places.....a favorite Humphrey Station for lunch!

I have all the particulars, first we will do the GM Corvette Assembly Plant tour which runs Monday through Thursday, 4 times a day....we pick 11:30 am. Of course we would never be late so we arrive at 10 am to try and buy tickets.....because NO way will we NOT be on a tour. The rules are long, only closed toe shoes, NO camera's, cellphones, purses, backpacks...nothing. So when I went into buy tickets, I take my camera and get some good pictures of the outside of plant, the entrance that has great displays & signage. We are to early and return at 11 am, buy our tickets....$7.00 ea & then watch a movie produced by the Speed Channel and National Geographic about Corvettes.

We are a group of about 20 people and had a darling girl who is nursing student at a local college. This is her second year and she is great. The plant is so interesting, we are walking, single file along a green corridor right on the plant floor and watching the assembly of Corvettes. We stop at several points so she can explain what is going of the most interesting was we saw the LAST 2011 Corvette being made and right behind is was the FIRST 2012. Our group asked if we could stay long enough to see the 2012 body & chassis put together....and then said yes....very cool (note: our guide said there were very few changes, 2 new colors, between 2011 & 2012.) We learned about the brake system and how different color "calipers" are put on the cars. All Corvettes are pre-ordered & a customer can pick which color caliper they want on their car. We learned about the different models and what makes them different. I don't remember the base price car but the fully loaded was $120,000. When we arrived at the end of the line, one of the workers walked over to the tour and chose a lady (NOT ME) to sit in the car and start it up for the first time. How cool was that? Then another worker, his ONLY job, is to drive it off the assembly line and take it through the wind & water test areas. This tour was fantastic and honestly, anyone would enjoy this tour.

Gosh, this is going to be a very long blog (sorry) but now we head over to the National Corvette Museum to have lunch in the Corvette Cafe and buy our tickets for the museum. As you enter the museum it is a very large entry that has the Corvette Cafe, the Museum entrance and the Museum Delivery Program. They had 3 Corvettes out there in the foyer with ropes around them and listed the person(s) arriving today to take delivery of their car. It seems they have museum delivery, buyer's tours and I met the couple that were taking delivery on a beautiful, blue, 2011 Grand Sport Corvette. They rented a car and drove down from Illinois to take delivery this was so exciting, you would thought it was MY car.

Actually in this foyer they have a Corvette that you can get in and take a picture which of course Will and I did. However, getting Will out was a real project but it's a great picture. Speaking of pictures I must have taken a million throughout the museum tour. Unfortunately, I don't download them but just have them to look thru for memories. We then headed for the museum and the place was amazing. The history of the Corvette, the cars....oh they had Corvettes everywhere. The only disappointment was Wills son, Eric wanted a picture of a 1968 but all they had for that year was 1968 experimental model. Will's favorite was the first one, 1953 white Corvette. When they were going to build a Corvette library & archives, this person said he would donate his 1953 white, absolutely perfect Corvette IF they would build a museum. They did, and he did plus they also have a Corvette library & archives there. As we left the museum the standard, "let us take your picture" and we said ok but made a pact, no more buying pictures. I wish I could tell you I was strong....but when we got to the picture stand they had us seated in the 1953 white Corvette......I couldn't resist and Will didn't argue....but that's the last one. We had a fabulous day and both of us loved the tour and museum. We HAD to make a WalMart run before going home, which we did and then head home, very happy but dead tired. Much love to family and friends.

Mammouth Cave National Park, Park City, KY

Tuesday, 6/14/11 - After leaving Dollywood on Monday we drove back to our old RV park in Lebanon, TN for an overnight stay only. On the map it showed road 109 North, which was very close by, was a shortcut to Kentucky without having to go back into the craziness of Nashville. So this morning we headed out of TN for KY. Road 109 turned out to be really ok and with beautiful countryside to see and we eventually ran into I-65 North heading for Bowling Green and the Corvette museum.

It was a pretty short driving day as it was only about 100 miles. We are staying in a beautiful Coast to Coast park (using points) called Diamond Caverns Resort & Golf Club in Park City, KY. Our plan was to relax this afternoon and go to the Corvette Museum in the morning. When we checked in there were signs everywhere for Mammoth Caves National Park . We asked the lady if there were any caves close by and she said, "next door." WOW, that's close. After we got settled in our RV space we drove back to the cave sight to check it out. We discovered that this cave has 348 steps which is far to many for Will and his back. She told us, that 10 miles down the road at Mammoth Cave National Park they have a tour called Frozen Niagara Tour that has only 12 steps plus an optional 98. So off we go, and fortunately they have a 4:45 pm F.N.T. and we sign up!

This is a beautiful National Park with a hotel, restaurant, large visitors center and many different tours of the caves all day long. The Mammoth Cave system is over 365 miles of surveyed passageways. Geologists think there could be 600 miles of undiscovered passageways.

While waiting for our tour to start we walked along a couple of the trails and then decided we were probably going to do a lot of walking on our tour so went into the restaurant to have a coke and wait. Finally, our tour was ready and as expected it was "old people" and families with kids. We boarded a bus and while driving us to the entrance the ranger gave us history of the cave, what we would see and the "rules" such as TOUCH NOTHING, leave no fingerprints anywhere. Actually, after the tour when exiting the bus we had to walk through Lysol for some type of fungus that might be on the bottom of our shoes.

The cave was very cool and interesting with very tall "rooms" and deep caverns. The passage ways were narrow but had hand rails to hold onto. I enjoyed the cave but it was NOT as beautiful as I remember Carlsbad Cavern. Actually, if we would have had time I probably would have gone on another tour alone - the Historic Tour which was 2 hours, 2 miles and 440 stairs. But that's ok, we got to see, unexpectedly, this beautiful National Park. When we returned we were tired but had really enjoyed the day. Tomorrow the Corvette Museum. Much love to all family and friends.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN

Sunday, 6/12/11 - Dolly and Pigeon Forge have redeem themselves with Will and I as we had a great time at Dollywood today. Yesterday, with the traffic, being tired and the "trailer trash" park we are staying in, we were ready to leave. But today was a new day, a little cooler and we treated ourselves to breakfast at Cracker Barrel. This is a very popular restaurant all through out the South with rocking chairs on their front porch "for sale." We passed up our favorite Denny's for a new experience......which turned out to be a mistake as I guess we are just not C.B. fans. Will was very disappointed with their biscuits & gravy which he thought should be terrific, but wasn't. Oh well, we tried something new.

Next, off to Dollywood which I must tell you I really had NO idea is was a big amusement park similar to Disneyland. Lots of rides, exhibits, places to eat and a big price tag to get into. But what the heck, we will only be passing this way ONE time. Actually, the day was really enjoyable and a lot of fun. The park has huge trees everywhere so you are mostly always in the shade and the weather was cooler with a breeze.

Our first ride was a water ride (how's that for stupid) there were 6 people in our circular car and Will had the best seat, he didn't get wet. I got pretty soaked but fortunately wore my nylon shorts that dried quickly. It was a great ride. Next we found the ferris wheel, both of our favorites and then a great 20 minute train ride on an old 1939 steam/coal engine.

We then wandered through Dolly's fabulous museum, several floors of pictures, costumes, music and films playing....this was really a treat. They have done a fabulous job of displaying all of her memorabilia. We next toured her bus that she used for many years on the road.

We saw several live shows, one with Dolly's Uncle Bill who when Dolly was 10 years old heard her singing and entered her in a contest that she won. He seemed to be responsible for getting her to Nashville and hooking up with Porter Wagner which was when her career really took off. We also saw a wonderful show in the Celebrity Theatre - Sha-Kon-O-Hey - Which is about the blue smokey mountains and the Cherokee Indians. It was a wonderful song and dance presentation and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Fortunately, for us it was not a busy day here (the crowds were NOTHING like Disney World/Land.) We were able to wander freely around, get on rides and into shows very quickly. We still spent about 6 1/2 hours there and were pretty tired when it was time to leave.

Because I was driving, I wanted to take a quick run down to Gatlinburg, a small town about 5 miles away, right at the entrance to the Smokey Mountains National Park. However, this town is similar to Pigeon Forge, one long street down the middle of town, with lots & lots of shops on each side. After seeing what it was we just drove down, turned around and came back to Pigeon Forge, but I can at least say, "I saw Gatlinburg." With more time, I'm sure there is more to see in this area but we plan to see the Smokey Mountains in the fall on our way down to Florida when we visit the Vanderbilt Mansion. Yesterday, I was sorry we came here, today not so much, it turned out to be a nice day and tomorrow we will be ready to move on to Kentucky. Much love to all our family and friends.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Country Music Hall of Fame AND Grand Old Opry, Nashville, TN

Friday, 6/10/11 - WOW what a day this turned out to be. We left the house at 10 am this morning and didn't return until almost 11 pm and for us........that's a full day.

We saw the Country Music Hall of Fame when we were here in 2005 but this year they have an exhibit on Tammy Wynette which closes 6/13/11 and The Williams family, Hank and Hank, Jr. closing 12/31/11. Now they happen to be two of my most favorite country artists so by all means the "event planner" put them on the schedule.

Our trusty girlfriend, GPS, took us right to place but of course she DID NOT know FanFest/CMA was going on all over Nashville and getting near anything is not easy. We did manage to find a $5 parking lot about 6 blocks away (only because it was early morning) all down hill walking there but up hill tired & hot coming back.

We went in and headed straight for the third floor where Tammy's exhibit was displayed. They did a terrific job, lots of TV interviews and her music playing. Jewelry and gowns displayed along with awards and pictures and memorabilia of her life. The remaining third floor was the early days of country music and rockabilly, something both Will and I enjoyed.

We proceeded to the second floor which was all Hank Williams and Hank, Jr. Now Hank Sr is really my all time favorite "old country" singer. I love and listen to his music all the time. The displays of memorabilia, his life, in every segment written down all the way to his incredibly untimely and sad death at age 29. Wonderful, sad and interesting stories we learned about him. One thing we found out he had a daughter born out of wedlock, Jett Williams, who when she was born was adopted by Hank's mother, who sadly died 2 years latter (Hank died 5 days before the daughter was born) and she was then adopted out by another family. She never knew Hank Sr was her father until she did research years latter. They were both wonderful exhibits and we were so glad we went.

Gosh, we didn't realize how long we had been there but now it's after lunch (we didn't eat) and now have to get out of the downtown area and get over to the Grand Old Opry for our 3:30 pm backstage tour. Of course girlfriend, GPS doesn't know half the streets are blocked off because of FanFest so we play hell getting out of downtown. But eventually, girlfriend gets us there but another mess..........It seems like a couple of years ago they had a terrific rainstorm and the Opry was flooded and all the businesses at the Opry Mills (a mall) were closed down.

The Opry has been completed restored and back in full use however the mall is completely shut down with lots of construction going on all around there. It was incredible hard to find how to get to the Opry and we wanted to park only once so we could take off right after the show for home. (We both hate nighttime driving) After one expensive parking lot mistake, $18 and we were not NEAR the Opry we finally found a great FREE spot in the vacant mall.

It is now 3 pm and our tour is at 3:30 pm but we picked up our tickets for tour and show and now were set. We managed to find Will a turkey sandwich & me a yogurt cup but at least we were there. While waiting we meet a very nice couple, Joan & Mark from N. Carolina (oh, please, I hope all those names are right) and they were on our tour & also had tickets for the show but better seats than us on the mezzanine. The back stage tour at the Opry was terrific, we got to see everything, the entry the stars come in, dressing rooms, the green room - where the stars wait to go on stage before a performance. All in all it was worth seeing and of course they took our pictures at the you think I bought them, of course! My camera was clicking and clicking all day, I'm actually at the end of my second picture card and had to purchase #3. Amazing for pictures no one but me will see, but I love it!

They announced at the end of the tour that this evening they were having a special dinner event backstage at the Opry with three Nashville song writers that would be performing at the dinner. Well, because we had practically NO lunch & didn't know what we would do for dinner (I of course could eat kettlecorn, but not Will.) and we were both tired it seems like a perfect plan to sit down and rest, be cool and have a nice dinner while being entertained.....sign me up, hang the cost!!! Well we and so did our new friends, Joan & Mark and it was terrific. I thought the food was GREAT, but I was starved and the entertain was wonderful. One of the writers was Mel Tillis' son, Sonny and there were 2 other gentlemen there. Of course, I don't know their names but each song they wrote and sang - we recognized. It was a really fun time, I took Wills picture with Sonny Tillis and we accomplished everything we hoped, we got to sit down, rest, be cool, have dinner and be entertained. Afterwards they escorted us to our seats. What a deal.

The Opry show was really terrific and had lots of old time country entertainers, this evening, which Will enjoyed. The list of entertainers were: Little Jimmie Dickens (how many know HIM?) Connie Smith, a GREAT new young singer, Bradley Gaskin - even Will loved his voice, check him out on Facebook or U Tube. Next segment, John Conlee (a favorite of mine) and the winner & runner up of American Idol -Scotty McCreery (winner) & Lauren Alaina. Now both of these kids (I think they are teenagers) were terrific. The Opry was packed with their fans which I guess is why we were sitting in the balcony. Next segment, Mel Tillis, Roy Clark (Hee Haw) Billy Ray Cyrus (Miley's daddy) Last segment, Charlie Pride (Wills favorite) Riders in the Sky (only to be believed when seen) and my PERSONAL FAVORITE.........Josh Turner. It was suppose to be Randy Travis, but he was unable to make it and Josh filled in for very lucky break. I loved him from his first hit, Long Black Train. All in all it was a great show actually a GREAT day and we were dead tired when we got out of there and headed home. I drove so we made it in record time..........

Saturday, 6/11/11 - It's moving day and we are off to Pigeon Forge, TN also know as Dollywood. We are both tired but will sleep good tonight. Most all of my time, as navigator today, is spent entering our receipts into our account book, looking for places to stay when we go through Kentucky - Bowling Green and Louisville, next week. As we pass through Knoxville, TN and hit our turnoff for Pigeon Forge, I start to realize this place is a BIG mistake. It is three towns, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and takes us 45 minutes to go 16 miles through 2 of the towns. It is one gigantic amusement park for families - our personal favorite. We find our RV park, a Passport America, cheap park that is the definition of "trailer trash." I make a quick decision to stay only 2 nights not 3 as planned. No lunch today, just an early dinner cooked by the navigator/events planner. Much love to all family and friends. Oh and a shout out to my cousin Rob Becker who lives in Franklin, sorry we didn't connect but look forward to seeing you & Gale real soon.....much love.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Twitty City is alive & well in Hendersonville, TN

Wednesday, 6/8/11 We bid farewell to Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills, TN and drove into Lebanon, TN just outside of Nashville which was only a couple hour trip. The heat and humidity is still intense every where we go so this afternoon will just be a WalMart run into Lebanon and then not leave our air conditioned Bounder in Countryside RV Park.

Thursday, 6/9/11 Will has always wanted to show me Conway Twitty's mansion called Twitty City located in Hendersonville, TN just outside Nashville. A lot of the country stars through out the years have built beautiful homes in Hendersonville and Will saw Conway's 25 to 30 years ago. Actually, Johnny Cash's home was located around the corner but burned to the ground a few years back. It seems one of the Bee Gee's bought it and while work was being done, it caught on fire and poof, it was gone. We saw the hole that remains.

The more we checked into Twitty City by asking & finally "googling" on the computer, it seemed sadly, Twitty City was no longer. The story was, that Conway Twitty's four adult children did not get along with wife number 3 and when Conway died there was a huge fight and many lawsuits. As always, no one wins and the Twitty home, recording studio, the 4 kids homes plus his mama's house, located behind Conway's mansion, were all sold.

But after checking some more we found that Trinity Music City, USA purchased the entire complex for their live studio audience taping that are televised and special concerts that are held there. So we decided, what the heck, lets put the address in our GPS and drive by and see whats left of Twitty City.

What a wonder surprise we had in store for us. We went in what appeared to be the office and were met by a very nice woman who explained the background of Trinity Music City and the religious organization that it is. She asked us if we wanted to watch a movie on it.....which of course Will at this point, was not thrilled. However, she explained, we could watch the 10 minute movie, the doors to the side would open automatically and she would meet us outside and give us a tour. Now mind you, we are the ONLY ones here, no money is involved so of course we watch the movie, the doors open & outside we go into Conway Twitty's front yard standing in front of this mansion. We can't believe this is happening.

She then tells me (as I'm shooting pictures) I can come back out into the garden and take all the pictures I want but lets go inside and look at the house. We are speechless at this point. She opens the door and the three of us go inside. Here we are, standing in this beautiful mansion, and shes explaining that only a few pieces of furniture are original because of the lawsuits. We tour the bottom floor, living & dining room, kitchen & office and she is telling stories (she is a huge Conway fan) that the son was married in the home & came down the curved staircase (there are 2 curved stairways.) My favorite story she tells, is she asked management to put a recording that when the front door opens you hear Conway say, "Hello Darlin"....his most famous recording. I thought that was a grand idea. The original pieces of furniture were Conways desk and a John Wayne (go figure!) dining room set that was purchased from Johns estate. We look at all the rooms on the bottom floor and I'm taking pictures of everything....which seems to be ok with her.

After about 15 to 20 minutes she has to lock up the house and return to work in the office and she shows us that they have a "bistro" on the property where they serve lunch and then points out the gift shop that we can stop by. We thank her profusely and bid her goodbye and then wander through the garden taking pictures of the fountains, the house and everything else.

We walked over to the bistro and have a delicious and rather inexpensive lunch and just sit staring out the window at the mansion. I will add there were 2 other people having lunch while we were there. In the gift shop they only have 1 postcard of "the house" at night as the entire gift shop contains religious articles. They asked if we wanted to see a "religious video" in the theater but we declined.

The experience was unreal......they have a potential "gold mine" here but are preserving Twitty City for Conway's fans but their real mission and work is religious. When I think of Graceland and the commercial aspect of it and what we experienced today it was truly an amazing experience. All I can say, if you are ever in Hendersonville, TN be sure and drop by One Music Village Blvd for a wonderful experience. Much love to family and friends and boy is the fun continuing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Loretta Lynn's Ranch at Hurricane Mills, TN

Tuesday, 6/7/11 - We were heading east on I-40 to Lebanon, TN a little town 30 minutes outside Nashville (remember, Nashville is SOLD OUT.) We saw cheap gas, $3.49 at exit 143 and decided to fill up the RV. While doing so, we noticed that this was also the exit for the Loretta Lynn Ranch so I called the number for Loretta's RV park and low and behold they had room and better yet....were a Passport America park. So we made a quick decision to "blow off" Lebanon tonight & stay here. A really good decision.

After topping off the RV tank for $100.26 we drove the 7 miles to Loretta's ranch located in Hurricane Mills, TN. Now it was about 2:30 pm and the museum and the tour of the house's close at 5:00 pm so we took off immediately to see if we could get in.

Loretta owns the entire town of Hurricane Mills and Will thought he heard she owned 3,600 acres. The place consists of a Western Town which has a real Post Office, Grist Mill Shop (say what?) many gift stores, a replica of her Butcher Holler House that she grew up in; a coal mine, like her Daddy worked in; a museum that has pictures of every country star, awards, memorabilia, every stage outfit she probably ever wore and a film that plays showing when she was on the Grand Old Oprey & other concerts. The tour bus she used is here in the museum and you can board it.............well the whole thing was amazing.

We of course wandered through the museum and had the entire place to ourselves. It was a great museum filled with so much to look at. As we were leaving we asked about the tour of her home & the Butcher Holler House and they said the last tour was at 4 pm and it was 3:40 pm at that moment. We hurried over to the Western Store where they sell the tickets for the tour & just made it.

The first stop was the Butcher Holler House which was an exact replica of the house she grew up in
at Van Lear, Kentucky. Newspapers and Sears catalogue pages covered the walls and ceilings. Two bedrooms upstairs (which they do NOT show) were the kids rooms, the parents were downstairs with a living room & kitchen. Outside was the outhouse.

We then boarded a bus and they took us to the house that Loretta and husband Mooney, raised their 8 kids (he married her when she was 13 yrs old.) A great big old house from the 1800's that was beautiful. We toured the ground floor only, which included the big old kitchen Loretta use to film her Crisco Oil commercials in. We also saw their bedroom, dining room, living room and all the wonderful furniture, pictures of the family and the incredible collections Loretta has of everything. I don't think the lady ever threw anything away.

Loretta lived in this house until Mooney died of diabetics some years back. There was a guest house right next door and she moved into it and added several bedrooms and then opened her home with all the furnishings to her fans and the public. She lives in that guest house today and the tour guide said she was probably home as there were vehicles next door. Behind the house that we toured, is Mooney's office, just as it was when he died, a recording studio and a barn. This house was also used for many shots of the movie, Coal Miners Daughter. Will and I are going to get a copy of the movie the next time we hit a WalMart and watch it again.

We also learned that Loretta still tours and does concerts, last year she did 60 of them. Her twin daughters, Patsy (named after Patsy Cline, they were great friends) and Peggy open for her on her shows. Her son tours with them as a manager. Actually, Loretta will be doing a concert at the ranch September of this year. Her daughter Cissie has gift, grocery store & restaurant across the street from the office on the Ranch, her daughter, Betty Sue has a flee market and another RV park somewhere down the road on the Ranch. To say this is a family operation, is an understatement.

Well for a surprise stop, it turned out amazing. Our campsite is terrific for $20, the Loretta stuff was wonderful and Will "sprung" for dinner back at exit 143 where there just happens to be a Loretta Lynn Buffet.....all you can eat for $10 and boy was it good! Tomorrow, back on track to Lebanon, TN.....a full tank of gas, a full belly and lots of good memories of Loretta. Much love to all family and friends.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Elvis and Graceland, Memphis, TN

Monday, 6/6/11 - Today we visit Graceland and Elvis! We walked over to the ticket pavilion at Graceland Crossing around 10 am this morning. We passed on the VIP tickets for $70 a piece and went with the platinum for a measly $35 each oh and if your a senior and a Three A member it only costs $31.....what a deal.

While waiting in the line they have a photographer that takes a picture of you in front of the Graceland gates with Elvis on the side of the picture. No obligation to buy but I'm sure most people do! We didn't have to wait in the line very long until our bus came to drive across the street to Graceland and let you off at the front door. Cameras are clicking everywhere and me too. They have audio tapes that tell about each of the rooms, the living & dining room, the kitchen, the famous Jungle room and many more rooms. No one is allowed upstairs or into Elvis' room.

Outside Elvis liked racquetball and had a racquetball ball court and lounge built that had lots of Elvis memorabilia and we were able to see all that. After exiting, we entered into the trophy room which was fabulous. It had all of Elvis gold records on the wall plus so much more. I especially wanted the pictures of the early records, my all time favorite Elvis....Don't be Cruel and Heartbreak Hotel. Those early records of Elvis bring back the memories I have of being in junior high when my girlfriends and I "discovered" Elvis & Rock N Roll. I remember at one time I belonged to at least 10 Elvis fan clubs and of course had ever record he ever made. I also remember sitting in front of the TV watching him on The Ed Sullivan show while my father left the room. Those were great and fun times and I thoroughly enjoyed reliving them here at Graceland.

The final part of the Graceland tour, before leaving the property, is passing through the meditation garden where Elvis, his parents and grandmother are buried. There is a beautiful fountain with the 4 graves right next to each other and many religious articles surrounding the garden. Fans leave flowers, teddy bears and special mementos at the foot of Elvis grave. Need I say my camera indeed got a work out today. After paying our respects to the Presley family we boarded the bus and headed back out the driveway of Graceland back to our starting point across the street. Graceland is a wonderful experience and I hope someday you can all visit..........especially Nancy & Cheryl!

When we arrived back, just like clock work, the photos were ready and as I suspected, I bought our package. We then headed to see the rest of the exhibits that were included in our ticket price. We toured the Lisa Maria airplane, Elvis airplane that he flew to all his concerts. The Elvis Presley's Automobile Museum which had his mama's pink Cadillac that Elvis purchased for her. There were also many other car's displayed there that he owned.

We then saw '68 Special Exhibit, which was my most favorite Elvis....the concert in the round when Elvis is wearing the black leather outfit. It was a great piece narrated by Priscilla Presley talking about how nervous Elvis was about that special. His first concert since making all those "movies" and I use that term loosely. He was in the best condition of his life, 168 lbs even had a sun tan and he hated the sun. More displays with lots and lots of Elvis every where and each exhibit ALWAYS excited through a gift shop. The merchandising is really unbelievable there is nothing they haven't though of that isn't for sale.

It was great having our RV park so close, we visited Graceland in the morning, walked home and had lunch, took a nap and went back and finished seeing all the exhibits. A great and really fun day and time spent in Memphis. Tomorrow we head for a town NEAR Nashville as Nashville is sold out. Much love to all family and friends and boy is the fun continuing..........

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sun Studio, Beal Street & More, Memphis, TN

Sunday, 6/5/11 - Because of our extended stay in Memphis we can do some sightseeing today. Lucky us, they have a free shuttle that picks you up at Heartbreak Hotel which is only steps from our Graceland RV Park. We pass up the first ride at 9:55 am because it's jammed and go with the next one at 10:55 am. This shuttle takes you to Sun Studio, Memphis Rock "N" Soul Museum and Beale Street Historic District......all for a free ride.

Our first stop is Sun Studio an absolutely incredible place that takes us back to the fifties and really the birth of Rock N we knew it. Elvis Presley, made his first record here in 1953 and it cost him $4.00 to record it. We had a wonderful, young man who was our tour guide and did a fabulous job telling us all about the artists that recorded here.....Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and so many more. We saw amazing pictures, heard lots of music and of course my camera was going non stop. You guys have to be sooooo glad I don't know how to down load pictures as no one would ever get through this blog. The last part of the tour, we went into the actually studio where Sam Phillips recorded all the music and I even got to have my picture taken using the very same microphone they all least that's what they told us. I kept sending pictures on my phone to Nancy as she is a really big Rockabilly fan. Note to Nancy & Howard: YOU MUST COME TO MEMPHIS and see this place, you guys will love it.

We then boarded our free bus to go to Beale Street and have lunch and see all the clubs and sights in this 3 block area. Of course we are here on a Sunday at 1:00 pm so it's not exactly "jumping" like it would be in the evening, but with our M.O. we wouldn't be here at night! We had lunch in Dyer's Hamburgers that they cook the food in grease that is 90 years old (hard to imagine, really)........... Of course I didn't try it, my indulgence was a chocolate milk shake. We then headed over to a park across the street where they had live music being played. After leaving the park we wandered up & down the 3 blocks looking at all the clubs, me....taking more pictures of B.B. Kings Blues Club, Wet Willie's, The Pig on Beale Street and so many more.

After our Beale Street excursion we walked the couple blocks to the Memphis Rock "N" Soul Museum. Will didn't want to see this so he went across the street to the Gibson Guitar Museum/Store but I went into the Rock "N" Soul and so glad that I did. This exhibition was created by the Smithsonian Institute and tells the birth of Rock "N" Soul music. The Memphis music experience that over came the racial barriers. It was a wonderful display of pictures, outfits and lots of music that you could listen to on your own head set that they provided.

We got our free bus ride back to the RV park and the day was a great success. Memphis is a really cool place to see and I'm so glad we stayed the extra days. Much love to all our family and friends.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Elvis & Graceland, Memphis, TN

Saturday, 6/4/11 -We crossed over the very swollen Mississippi River into Memphis, TN home of Elvis. We were here back in 2004 so had only planned to spend the day and head on to Nashville. However, Nashville is SOLD OUT due to the Country Music Festival that is going on at the present time. So our plans have changed and we will stay in Memphis for a couple extra days, which is really ok with both of us.

We are staying in the same park as last time, Graceland RV Park & Campground, which is located directly behind Heartbreak Hotel, my favorite. The heat in the South is really, really hot & humid. The lady at the desk, when we checked in, said this is August weather in the South, usually June is beautiful and in the 80's. Oh well, it's raining in Fresno so it's crazy everywhere.

After setting up the RV we headed for Heartbreak Hotel, to take a few pictures and then went over to Graceland Plaza, which has every Elvis souvenir possible, a Rockabilly Restaurant and then I crossed the street to take some pictures of Graceland from the sidewalk. We walked by the Lisa Marie airplane that is available to take tours on. Actually, we sat in the Plazas very nice air conditioned buildings watching Elvis clips and listening to Elvis music, not a bad way to past a hot, summer afternoon. After several hours we went back in our air conditioned RV & laid me the heat is brutal.

After dinner, I went over to the laundry room, located right behind our RV and did some washing. Tomorrow is another day in Elvis Land and we are headed to Sun Records for a tour and down to Beal Street. Much love to all family and friends and the fun just continues.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas

Friday, 6/3/11 - We left Sallisaw, OK early this morning so we would arrive in North Little Rock, where we are staying, by noon today. Our park, Downtown Riverside RV Park is located right on the Arkansas river. Little Rock is located on the other side of the river. As a matter of fact, we can see the Clinton President Center & downtown Little Rock from our campsite. Not bad for a Passport America park at $9.00 a night!

Last week it was tornado's in OK, this week it's a scorching heat wave in Arkansas,, & the South but as I remind Will, "at least it's not cold!" Will was very uncomfortable and tired when we arrived here today, so I set out this afternoon alone to go sightseeing.

The RV park sells narrated trolley tour tickets for $2.00 and the closest trolley stop was only about 6 blocks away with free parking, so off I went. Actually, its called River Rail Electric Streetcar and its air conditioned, which was certainly worth the price of admission. After parking the car, the trolley came by in about 5 minutes and it is a wonderful ride through the downtown area and out to the Presidential Library. Because of the heat I decided I would only get off to see the library and just enjoy the sights and narration about the rest of the city.

The Clinton Library is magnificent, it's a very modern building and actually extends out over the Arkansas River. There was good & bad news when I arrived at the library.....the good news is they were having a special Elvis Presley exhibit at the Library.....the bad news was it opens tomorrow, June 4th. However, the tour of the Library made up for that disappointment. The museum is over 20,000 sq ft and on two levels. It included the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room and a tremendous amount of pictures, gifts and, Monica's dress was not part of the exhibit. I wandered around, taking pictures, asking questions and thoroughly enjoying the air conditioning & the exhibits. After leaving the Library, I got back on the trolley and continued the rest of the tour of the city. Getting off at my stop where my car was and letting my GPS take me home.

We had tried to see about a river tour this evening on the Arkansas Queen that has a dinner cruise on Friday night but were never able to get anyone on the telephone and we never did see the boat leave from its docking. There must have been some type of problem. There really is a lot to see here, oh and would have loved touring the submarine they have docked here, the USS Razorback. Tomorrow they are having a Willie Nelson concert in the park right near us at 2:30 pm.....we need to get out of here early as I'm sure it will be mess down here. All in all, this is a great city and I wish we could have had more time to spend here as they have a lot to offer. However, we are off to Memphis, TN tomorrow. Much love to all our family and friends. For more, check out

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Heading out of Oklahoma for Arkansas

Thursday, 6/2/11 - It's moving day today and we are heading east down I-40 towards Arkansas. It's amazing how beautiful and green Oklahoma is and we have not been in any rain. I'm sure they have plenty of it but right now it's just hot and humid with no rain predicated.

Our stop tonight is just an overnight stay in a Coast to Coast RV park in Sallisaw, OK This is just a wide spot in the road and tomorrow we head into Little Rock, Ark. I would like to stop and see Clinton's Presidential Library but you know Will, he wants no part of it. However, right now we want to get into Nashville, TN as they have some great shows coming up at the Grand Old Opry in the near future.

The non glamours part of traveling, drive, stop and set up the RV for the night then head out tomorrow. Much love to all family and friends.....and PS to Nancy.....GREAT photo of you wearing the San Francisco Giant World Series Ring...........

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A super WalMart day in Oklahoma City

Wednesday, 6/1/11 - It's a brand new month, with a clean calendar page freshly turned and waiting to be filled in with new adventures and I can't wait! However, today is not one of them. Today is a shopping day at the local super WalMart in Oklahoma City, 5 minutes away from our RV park. We have our list and set out to fill the refrigerator and cupboards back up. Actually, we both really enjoy a WalMart adventure day and are always amazed that we can find everything we need, plus get our cash. What a deal!

Our next project for today is to get our RV into Camping World to check the seals on the living room slideout. Because of the terrible wind we endured from New Mexico into Oklahoma, Will just wanted to check the seals. All is ok and we are set to go tomorrow.

Our original plans were to head up to Missouri to see his cousin but because of the tornado and the damage they sustained they told us not to come, which was very understandable. So we are changing our route and staying on I-40 and heading into Arkansas. So we will see what there is to do in Arkansas and I'll keep you posted. Much love to all family and friends.