Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Exploring The Chattanooga RV Show

A couple of days ago I  went to the Chattanooga Super RV Show at the Chattanooga Convention Center.  There were two things that struck me about the show.  First, I spent a lot of years living in a major metropolitan area.  A super RV show would have 500 to 1000  RV's on display.  At the Chattanooga show there were maybe 100.  So not too much to look at.

The second thing that struck me was that out of the 100 or so RVs there were only about 10 with motors in them.  The rest were trailers of one sort or another.  I don't have anything against trailer, I  just prefer Class A motorhomes.   The reason that it was an issue for me is that I was there with  a friend who is in the market for a new RV.  I  was hoping to turn my friend to the Class A side of the force.  

My friend is partial to fifth wheels.  I have owned pull behind trailers but never a fifth wheel.  As we inspected the offerings, I  began to  have a new appreciation for fifth wheels.  One model in particular had the bedroom in the rear of the trailer.  Every fifth  wheel that I had seen before this had the bedroom in the front of the trailer in the part that set up  over the truck bed.  I always thought that the bedroom was too close to where the car drove around the campground.  In the rear bedroom models the living room was up over the truck bed.  It was a very appealing design.  

There were a couple of Diesel pushers at the show and I did my best to sway my friend.  The thing is, I lost some of my ardor for Class A's.  I could certainly see myself in a fifth wheel with a rear bedroom 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cades Cove, Smokey Mountain National Park

     I finally got the opportunity to take a short trip up to the Smoky Mountain National Park.  It has been a lot of years since my last visit.  I went to a part of the mountains that I had never visited before.  It was on the western side of the range near Nashville.  The place I visited was called Cades Cove.  When I first heard the name I thought I was going to a body of water somewhere.  As it turns out the word "cove" refers to a type of mountain valley.  Cades Cove is a valley in the mountains where the National Park has preserved old home sites from the 1800's.  There is also a working grain mill that you can visit.  The photo above is of the grain mill. 

John Oliver's Cabin - Built 1822
Most of the building are of log construction. My current stay in Chattanooga has rekindled my fascination with log cabins.  There are old log building all around this area.

The Park provides information at each site as to who built and lived in these cabins.  I like examining the construction methods and imagining the day I get to try and build one of these houses myself.  These days you can buy a kit, with all the log pre cut and just assemble the structure.  I want to build one from scratch. 

 Along with the log homes there were a number of out building used in farming.  Some of these were a little strange looking.  I wondered at the reasons for constructing a building with such a wide overhang of the roof. 

 The area is also very popular for hiking.  The valley and surrounding hills are laced with hiking trails.  This bridge is at the beginning of a five mile hike to a popular water fall in the area.  I did not have enough time to take the hike during this visit.  I hope to return when I have a little more time and see the waterfall.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rare Discovery on a Back Country Road in Tennesse

Every car guy dreams of a barn find.  For those of you that are old car challenged, a barn find is some great classic old car that was parked long ago and forgotten only to be discovered by you.  These things happen, but they are rare.  I for one would like to find a 1956 Bel Aire Nomad two door station wagon.  I can dream can't I.  

In the past couple of months I have been exploring the back road of Tennessee. I have seen a lot of old cars tucked away in sheds and barns along these back roads.  The other day I came across this vehicle on the side of the road.  It's not in a barn, but I think it qualifies anyway.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pickle Barrel In Chattanooga Is a Unique Experience With a Tasty Burger

Hiking trails and scenic wonders are not the only things I search for in my spare time.  I am always looking for a good Cheeseburger.  I heard that there was a unique bar and grill in downtown Chattanooga called the Pickle Barrel.  The story goes that the place was started by a bunch of hippies 30 or so years ago and that they got run out of town for some reason. 

The Grill got picked up by the current owner and he has been operating it ever since.  It is truly a unique experience.  The Pickle Barrel is at the narrow end of a flat iron building.  So the place is shaped like a slice of pie.  Over the years various people have inscribed their marks in the wood furnishing and structural elements.  At some point the owners applied a finish to these signatures and they have become a permanent part of the landscape.  Everywhere you look is visually interesting.  The best part of the experience was the burger.  It was great.  

  The deck on the second floor looks like an amazing place to spend a late summer afternoon or evening.  I suspect that the patrons of the bar are mostly students from the local University.  While I was having lunch I noticed that the Bar provides live entertainment on occasion.

I was at the bar in February and the trees were bare of leaves.  I hope to return in the summer months and sit on the upper deck and watch the world go by.  Sounds like the sweet life to me.  If you are spending a little time in Chattanooga, you should put the Pickle Barrel on your list of places to visit.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Mabbit Springs, Signal Mountain Tennessee

Just recently I took another hike in the Chattanooga area.  This one was on Signal Mountain.  The place is called Mabbit Springs.  The walk starts deep in a Signal Mountain neighborhood where you pick up a trail that leads you to a overlook at the site of a water fall.  Near the beginning of the trail there is a sign that explains some of the history of the Area.  Apparently a man named Mabbit moved to the area in the 1800 and purchased 400 acres because he believed that the waters from the spring would help his ailing son. 

The trail is well defined and follows the creek from the spring until it join another and continues down to the site of the water fall.  

 I went on the hike in the first part of February and the trees were bare of their leaves.  I plan to return to the area in the summer and experience the area with it full complement of foliage. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Red Clay State Park Tennessee, Trail of Tears Cherokee

Cherokee Government Meeting House
Typical Cherokee period Farm House
I am spending some time in southeastern Tennessee and while I am here I am taking in some of the sights.  I like history and have always been interested in the American Indian story.  Part of that story is the manner in which the American Indians were treated by the federal government.  In the early 1800's the Cherokee owned and occupied large areas in Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina.  After 1838 they were completely dispossessed of their land.  The exodus and journey to their new home is referred to at the Trail of Tears.  Part of this story took place at Red Clay in Tennessee.  The traditional center of Cherokee government had been in Georgia.  The State made laws that made it illegal for the Cherokee to meet in any kind of government body for any purpose other than signing away the rights to their land.  So they moved the government to Red Clay.  This site is now a State Park.  There is a visitors center that tries to tell the story of the Cherokee's time at Red Clay.  There are exhibits that include replicas of the governmental meeting house, a typical Cherokee farm and sleeping houses.  

Hiking Trail Sign
Located at the site is a walking trail that are an easy one hour trek through a wooded area at the park.  From a historical point of view there is nothing to see on the hike.  It is still a nice walk.  There is a spring on the property that is called Red Clay Spring.  It is next to where the Meeting house was located and a creek runs off into the meadow beyond the site. 
 There is also a creek on the hike through the woods.  I find creeks and other water ways to be soothing and can loose track of time sitting of the bank watching the water flow by.  I din't get the name of the creek.

I like log cabins and find their construction methods interesting.  I enjoyed studying how these homes were built.  It is interesting how the ends of the logs were dovetailed together to hold the structure fast.  The chinking is modern.  I have no idea what they used in the 1830's.  The park is a pleasant half day trip.  The visitors center has a short film and many exhibits that discuss the eviction of the Cherokee from their homelands.  Also included is  information on the nature of the Cherokee government.  I was unaware that the Cherokee were a democratic people and that they had adopted a constitution.  I must admit that I feel a little remiss in never taking the time to learn more about the story of the Trail of Tears.  It certainly was not one of the finer moments of our American History.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Must Have Temperature Gauge For All RVers

     I have discovered that being handy is quite an assets to possess.  I began my career of being handy working on cars.  A long time ago when they were expensive I got an infrared laser point thermometer for working on cars.  I would use it for any number of things.  If my car was running ruff, I would get the thermometer out and check the temperature of the exhaust manifold for each cylinder.  The temperature would all be about the same if the cylinders were all firing the same.  If one was low, then I had a problem with that cylinder.  When I started RVing, I did other things like check tire temperatures.  A hot tire could mean low air pressure and a potential blowout.   


I also began using it for other things.  I would check the temperature of the water coming out of the water heater.   I even used it when I cooked on the grill.  There are really all kinds of uses for one of these.   The reason I bring all this up is that these thermometers have come down in price.  Many years ago I paid $70 for mine.  Now you can get one for about $20.  At that price it just makes sense to have one for your RV.  While you are stopped for fuel, you can walk around your rig and check the tire temperature to see if anything is overheating.  It works out to be a quick and simple way of preventing blow outs.