Category Archives: Tennessee

Tennessee, The Wiener Dog State

Tennessee is a very long and skinny state; sorta like a wiener dog. (No offense intended to the folks from Tennessee). It is 500+ miles from the Southwest corner (Memphis) to the Northeast Corner (Bluff City or Bristol). That makes it a wiener dog state.

IMG_2557Our time on I-40 ended in Knoxville where we picked up I-81 and headed Northeast. The Interstate Highways in Tennessee are a joy to drive. These folks take care of their roads. And as we head Northeast on I-81, new scenery appears in the horizon. Looks like we have big hills ahead.

IMG_2563Our spot for the night is in Lake View RV. Apparently they are under new ownership since we were here in 2012. Talked to a few locals in the park who said they did not like the changes. For folks who complain about their RV park, my response is always the same – if you don’t like the management, remember your house has wheels. It is better to find a place where you can be happy, than stay in a place where you are not.

IMG_2564I know the management at Lake View RV park is not responsible for the low water level in Beaver Creek. The Tennessee Valley Authority is responsible for this drop in water level. Apparently seepage was discovered near the Boone Lake Dam in October 2014. The TVA announced the water level will not be brought back to normal summer levels until the source of the seepage can be found and corrected. Sadly, the property owners along Beaver Creek are not happy.

Well, we did not stop here to take a swim or go boating. We came to visit my friend and former boss from Corpus Christi. Becky and her husband are now retired and live in Piney Flats on Boone Lake. Sunday morning we joined them for Easter church service at Grandview Christian Church in Johnson City. After church we went to The Bonefish Grill for lunch.

After a great visit and lunch, we headed back to Lake View RV to close up our RV and continue our trip to Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. To be continued…

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More Storms On The Road

From the Mighty Mississippi in Western Tennessee, to the rolling hills of Central Tennessee our next stop was Lebanon, just east of Nashville. Our goal for this travel day was to get on the east side of Nashville so we would not need to deal with morning traffic going into or through Nashville.

IMG_2553Our home for the night was East Nashville KOA. KOA (Kampground of America), founded in 1962, is the largest system of privately owned camp grounds in North America with over 900 locations. Our ultimate destination on this trip is the Harrisonburg/Shenandoah KOA where we will be working for 12 months.

In 1969, the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain was founded in Lebanon. Today, they have over 600 locations in 42 states. And we opted for O’Charley’s instead.  Remember, we tend to stay away from national chains but will frequent local or regional chains. We first encountered O’Charley’s in 2012 while we were traveling through Georgia. As we were driving into Lebanon from the KOA park, we saw the sign and made the decision to stop there for dinner.

When we got back to the RV, the bottom fell out. Sheehs! Enough with the rain. This is the third night of rain and the second night of a heavy rain. Fortunately, the rain did not last more than about 20 minutes and we were protected by the heavily wooded area where we parked.

IMG_2551One thing we noticed as we move to the east. The trees on the highway are getting taller. That can only mean we are getting closer to the Appalachian Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley.

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Put Some South In Your Mouth

So says the sign that hangs above the prep line at Blues City Cafe on the infamous Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. This was our target destination for our third night on the road. Memphis is just a bit over 200 miles from Russellville, Arkansas. We normally stop at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas because our site would be right on the Mississippi River. However, the recent rains have turned the grounds at Tom Sawyer into mud pits and the Mississippi River is swelling due to the spring run off from up north. We wanted to stay at Graceland RV Park and Campground but they did not have a site large enough for us, so we moved on down the road to EZ Daze RV Park in Southaven, Mississippi about 18 miles South of Beale Street in Memphis.

EZ DAZE RV Park - Southaven, Mississippi

EZ DAZE RV Park – Southaven, Mississippi

The weather was cloudy and partly foggy so we could not get a descent photo of the Mississippi River. Trust me when I say it is still muddy. Once we crossed the Mississippi River on I-40, we turned south on I-55 for the short trip to Southaven, Mississippi. Traffic was moderate to light so we were making good time. The large truck in front of me moved over to my left. That is when I saw what looked like a cardboard box on the right side of my lane. The lane to my left was clear so I gentle swerved to my left to avoid the box. That is when I noticed Carol was not moving left with me. I tapped my breaks to get her attention and saw her swerve pretty hard to the left. She just missed the box as she drove past it.

Gee, it was only a box. Problem is the box turned out to be a two-wheeled hand dolly that apparently fell out off a trailer from another vehicle. That driver had pulled over on the far left side of the highway and was out of his vehicle trying to figure out how to retrieve his two-wheeled hand dolly from the middle of I-55. This all happened too quickly to get vehicle tags from the driver who lost his load or even think about who to call to report the debris on the road. Fortunately, the traffic was light. I can only imagine a worse case scenario if this had been rush hour traffic. Sheesh people! Secure your load!

After getting settled into our site and after taking the fur babies for a walk, we headed to Memphis to “Put some south in our mouths.” Carol and I were at Blues City Cafe in January 2014 and enjoyed the ribs then. We were not disappointed as we chowed down on this rack of ribs that we shared. (Turn on the touch and smell option on your PC to catch the wonderful aroma.)



After sharing that wonderful late lunch/early supper, we took a stroll down Beale Street. Even though is was late afternoon, the blues clubs where piping music out onto the street. We stopped by one open air stage to catch the sounds from a local band.

This one building caught our eye. The Gallina Exchange Building was built in 1891. The building had a colorful history until 1980 when it was gutted by fire. The steel girders were put up to hold the front facade of the building in place. A wind storm blew down the sides and rear walls later. This wall is all that remains of the original building. Behind the wall is an open air cafe belonging to Silky O’Sullivan who runs a successful bar and restaurant by the same name.


A look down Beale Street @ Second Avenue
Blues City Cafe is on the left and B.B. Kings Blues Club is on the right.

A few years ago, Carol had visited Graceland, home to Elvis Presley, the King of Pop. If you are into overpriced tourist attractions, Graceland is for you. We skipped it.

If you travel near the Memphis, you should plan a stop. The largest city in Tennessee is rich in culture and history. You will not be disappointed if you ‘put a little south in your mouth’.

From the home of the blues to the home of country music, our next stop is Nashville, Tennessee. To be continued…

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A Photo a Week Challenge: Dead Center

I am always up for a photo challenge. It is time to violate the widely accepted photography “rule of thirds”. The premiss of the rule of thirds is that the subject of the photo is placed on the left or right vertical third of the image and the horizon is place on the top or bottom third of the image. Thank you Nancy Merrill for giving us amateur photographers permission to violate this rule.

This Great Blue Heron was just waiting for us to drive by as we returned from a day trip to Cades Cove in Eastern Tennessee.

Black spot is sort of centered in the frame.

Dead Center
Black spot is dead center of the image after cropping square.

Rule of Thirds
Black spot is positioned on the left third of the frame and horizontally centered.

Please take a moment and complete this survey.

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Photography 101 – Day Thirteen: Moment & Motion

Early in my self-education about photography, I learned that the camera should be set for high-speed to capture the stillness of action unless, of course, the intent is to purposely blur a subject blurred. In today’s assignment, I learned that blurring is OK and sometimes desirable.

The Ocoee Whitewater Center in Copperhill, Tennessee was built for the 1996 World Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia. Nestled on a sleepy river deep in a rocky gorge, in the Cherokee National Forest, the Ocoee river was modified to provide some of the best white water rapids found anywhere.

Water releases from upstream dams are managed by the Tennessee River Valley Authority and are scheduled through the summer to provide turbulent water flow for thrill seekers and flood control.

When the water is held back, the rocky bottom provides pools of fresh, cool water for sun bathers. Then the alarms go off warning people downstream that the quiet rocky bed would soon become a raging river with whitewater that will flip many experienced kayaks or professionally control river rafts. This is just a perfect setting for today’s assignment. We no longer live in that area and water releases are not scheduled until April. The photos presented are from our visit to this are in 2012.

13a DSC_0346I am standing downstream of the water flow – obviously before the water was released from the upstream dam. Notice the large boulders on the left and center of this image. Water is channeled between these two boulders.

13b DSC_0380The professional river guide, in the rear of the raft, steers between the two boulders.

13c DSC_0391A kayaker is in control of his own destiny. I can say he demonstrated exceptional navigation techniques on his approach to this spot.

There are no white water rapids near my current location and the rain today is keeping most adventure seekers indoors. I look forward to finding locations similar to this where I can apply today’s theme.

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