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2019-04-24 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Traveling from Tuscumbia, AL, to Bowling Green, KY;

Today we check in to the RV Park where the Springtime in Kentucky caravan starts.  We are one day early, but we like to arrive before the crowds…

Last night we caught a nice sunset in the window of the Villa…

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We left Tuscumbia, AL and headed through the countryside to find the 65 north…  At about 11:30 we met up with two other caravaners at the Cracker Barrel in Franklin, TN…

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After lunch we traveled north into Kentucky!

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Lots of green in this neck of the woods!

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We pulled into the KOA in Bowling Green, KY, ready to check-in…

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We added another state sticker to our map… Number 39!

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It’s a nice park, with a lake and a good supply of Canada Geese…

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We played a little chess before Happy Hours…

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So Happy Hours happened – there are about 10 Airstreams here a day early…  And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-23 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Traveling from Huntsville to Florence to Tuscumbia, AL, and Frank Lloyd Wright…

We pulled out of the RV park at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville and drove to Florence, AL.  We are here to see the Rosenbaum House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (FLlW)…

First, another bridge; I think this is the one millionth time we have crossed the Tennessee River…img_8002img_8005

We arrived in Florence and parked the Villa in the office complex across the street from the house, where the Visitor Center is…

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We walked across the street for our tour to begin…

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The cantilevered carport roof…

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They have the same “sprite” in their front yard that I have in mine…

Rosenbaum House:

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Terhorst House:

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These Sprites are 1/2 size reproductions of similar Sprites (hundreds of them) originally designed and built for the FLlW-designed Midway Gardens complex in Chicago.  Midway Gardens was a restaurant, beer-hall and event venue complex; the business failed after prohibition was voted in, and the complex was demolished; all the ruble, including hundreds of Sprites, was bulldozed into Lake Michigan as land-fill…

We were greeted by our tour guide, and we heard the history of the house…

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The owner of this house across the street gifted this lot to his son, along with some of the money to build the house.

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The son and his wife had three sons at the time, and this was the perfect place to raise a family; the lot (at that time) had a fine view of the Tennessee River, but the trees have now grown up to obscure it…

Frank Lloyd Wright was hired for $1,100 to design the house. It was 1,500 sq. ft., and it included three bedrooms and two bathrooms, Living Room, Dining area with built-in table for five, Study, and a tiny “Workroom” – what we would call a kitchen, if we could conceive of such a tiny space being a kitchen.

The house is a classic “Usonian”, a concept named by FLlW to designate the houses that were simple in design, and suited to middle class Americans.

Usonian houses were characterized by their lack of attics and basements, radiant heat in the exposed concrete floors, and simple wood detailing that can be beautiful yet economical due to the ability to be made by machine.  The houses all had tiny “Workrooms”…

The house was built and the family moved in.  They soon found the house a bit cramped, especially when a fourth child arrived.  So they hired FLlW to design an 1,100 s.f. addition, containing a guest room and bath, a new, much larger “Workroom”, a Laundry-Service room, and a large Playroom-Dormitory for the four boys.  Somehow they still managed to get along with the Dining Room table for five…

FLlW designed many pieces of furniture that are still in the house – simple, beautiful, and elegant, using simple materials like plywood.  As usual, the chairs were impractical and uncomfortable, but they are beautiful, and that’s all that matters.  (A chair similar to these from another house recently sold at auction for $35,000!)

The house was sold to the City of Florence in the late 1990s for $75,000; the City spent several years and over $600,000 restoring the house, which was opened to the public in 2002.

The walls of the house, inside and out, are board and batten, using cypress wood from Louisiana swamps, and pine battens.  (We saw cypress trees growing out of the water on our swamp tour…)  Cypress is extremely resistant to wood rot and termites – it is an excellent building material!  Unfortunately, the walls also contain battens of pine; when the house was sold to the City it was found to be infested with termites.  When the termites had destroyed the pine they settled into all the books… But the cypress wood is still intact!

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The board and batten walls; on the interior side all shelving, tables, and doors have horizontal lines that match the battens…

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The second cantilevered carport…

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This tiny balcony in the center of the photo below is off the Master Bedroom…

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The Living Room and Study have these beautiful French doors opening onto the terrace…  You can see through the house to the narrow clerestory windows on the opposite side of the room…

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We thoroughly enjoyed touring this house.  It is beautifully restored and maintained, and we were able to see all the rooms, with all the furniture, as if the family were still living there.  Furniture not designed by FLlW is mostly designed by Rae and Charles Eames…

After our tour we walked into downtown Florence and walked the four blocks of Court St.  Upon the recommendations of the Rosenbaum staff we had a lovely lunch at Odette…

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After lunch we walked back to the Rosenbaum house where we had left the Villa.  We drove to Tuscumbia, about five miles away, and parked at Heritage Acres RV Park.

This is a very basic, all gravel place, with no trees – good for satellite TV reception.  Full hook-ups including cable are all very good.  We wanted to refill one of our propane tanks, but when I went to take it off the Villa I found that it had been locked using a cable and a padlock.  Could I find the combination to the lock?  After tearing apart the trailer and the truck I finally found it, 1 1/2 hours later.

Well-deserved Happy Hours ensued, and an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-22 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Traveling from Chattanooga, TN to Lynchburg TN, and Jack Daniels, and on to Huntsville, AL…

We prepared to leave for traveling to Lynchburg, TN, this morning.  Then we realized that Lynchburg is in the Central Time Zone and we were still in Eastern time in Chattanooga.  So we had an extra hour to kill.  But we left relatively early, and had a nice drive across Tennessee.  (The highway even dipped south for a few miles into Georgia before it turned slightly north back into Tennessee…)

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We soon arrived in Lynchburg, and …

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This is their fully restored antique truck, from all the way back in 1980…

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Signage on this truck shows Jack Daniel’s motto:  “All Goods Worth Price Charged.”

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The tour began by hearing an explanation of what Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is:

The law defines Tennessee Whiskey as: a spirit manufactured in Tennessee; made from grain that consists of at least 51% corn; distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% abv); filtered through maple charcoal prior to aging; aged in new charred oak barrels; placed in the barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% abv); and, bottled at not less than 80 proof (40% abv).

Except for the filtering through maple charcoal, this defines Bourbon.  In other words, Tennessee Whiskey is Bourbon filtered through maple charcoal.  Jack Daniels calls this process “Mellowing”.

We started at the Rick House, where they burn the sugar maple; we moved on to the water source, deep inside this cave:

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Here is a statue of Jack Daniel standing on a granite boulder; you know, Jack on the Rocks…

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This building was the headquarters office used by Jack Daniel’s up until 1958; it was here, in about 1905, that Jack kicked the company safe one morning, broke his toe, and died a few years later from gangrene, at the age of 61.

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The owners of the company in 1958 (four brothers who had inherited the business) sold the business to Brown-Foreman for $20,000,000.  It is still owned by Brown-Foreman today.  Brown-Foreman also owns Early Times, Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, Canadian Mist, GlenDronach, BenRiach, Glenglassaugh, Finlandia, Herradura, Korbel, and Chambord.

This is the Still House; it contains four giant 90′ tall stills, which produce the clear corn whiskey:

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The sour mash waste, after it is distilled, is piped over to this facility, where it is sold to local farmers as cattle feed; it still contains 6-8% alcohol.  Talk about contented cows!

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This is the Mellowing House, where the clear whiskey is dripped, drop by drop, over a 10′ tall stack of charcoal, a process called mellowing…

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The bottling lines are always my favorite part of these tours… This is a small line dedicated to their Single Barrel Whiskeys.  It dates from 1970 and seemed to me to be very non-automated – there is a lot of work done manually, like putting on labels, hanging tags around the neck, and putting the bottles into the cardboard boxes…

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Finally, the tour over, we head to the educational part of the tour:  the tasting.  This is strictly for educational purposes only, since drinking whiskey in this county is forbidden…

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We were given five sample with which to get educated.  It totaled about one ounce; we were told about how each type is made and what the differences are.  The funny thing was that both Lynda and I found the Rye to be terribly sweet, yet the “honey” version had very little taste at all.  Our guide checked it out and found that the two samples were switched!  It mattered little – we didn’t like either of them… I found that I liked Gentleman Jack, while Lynda preferred the original…

After the educational portion of the tour we walked through one of the old barrel rooms…

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After the tour we could return to the Visitor Center.  While you cannot buy whiskey in this county, you can buy souvenir bottles here.  The bottles were filled with some sort of brown liquid…

We walked 1/2 mile into downtown Lynchburg, and enjoyed lunch at Bottle House BBQ:

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We returned to the Villa and drove to Huntsville, Alabama…

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They are building McMansions here, too…

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We parked at an RV park at NASA’s Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville…

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The RV park is very nice.  And cheap!  I wish we had RV parks in California like this for $20 per night…

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For dinner this night we met up with friends we met on the Nor’ by Nor’ East Caravan; they will also be joining us on the Kentucky caravan in a few days…

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Dinner was great!  Pork Belly appetizer and Crawfish Fritters, with a nice bottle of an Oregon Pinot Noir!

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-12 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Four States!

We woke up early in the Villa, in a parking lot in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

We took a walk in the early morning light…

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After about one mile we arrived at the famous Cafe Du Monde…

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We took a table inside, and ordered Beignets and cafe au laits…  (They are famous for Chicory coffee, but I don’t understand why; chicory is a cheap substitute for coffee that doesn’t taste like coffee nor does it have much caffeine in it.  It is used where people can’t afford coffee, of when coffee supplies are rationed, such as during WWII…  No real coffee drinker would touch the stuff.  Leave it to the South to romanticize and popularize bad food, like chicken fried steak, or grits, or biscuits and near-rancid gravy…)

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But we had a great time, watching the early birds come in for their coffee and beignets… After scraping about two cups of powdered sugar off the beignets they were quite tasty…

We walked over to get a better picture of the Basillica.  It sort of reminds me of Cinderella’s castle…

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We caught a few more early morning street scenes on our way back to the Villa.  We love early mornings in big cities…!

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We returned to the Villa and prepared for travel.  We headed out, found the 10 freeway, and pointed ourselves east.  It wasn’t long before we arrived at a new State:

 

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We pulled into the Visitors Center.  It looked like the inside of your grandmother’s house, with some grandmotherly women offering us coffee and assistance.

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We asked how to get to the scenic Gulf Coast Highway, and maps were supplied.  We returned to the truck and soon we were on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico…

 

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The sand is like powdered sugar – just like what we scraped off our beignets earlier this morning…

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I put my feet into the gulf waters, the first time since I did it in Galveston in 1984.  This time, when I pulled my feet out of the water they were not covered in tar and oil…

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There were thousands of seagulls on the sand.  Probably because there were millions of sea shells on the sand…

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Other than the seagulls, the beach was deserted.  We don’t see deserted beaches in California at any time, day or night…

Across the street from the sand are these houses, fronting on the highway.  They are built up on stilts to protect from flooding and storm surges…

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A house under construction – note the brick columns…

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We eventually left the coast and drove through several swamps and other wetlands…

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Soon we arrived at…

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We stopped in for a minute, and continued on…

Alabama is a lot like Mississippi… until it doesn’t.  Mobile is a big city!

 

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Mobile has a tunnel under the bay!

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And then Alabama looks just like Mississippi again…

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We stopped for lunch at a Cracker Barrel.  Our first visit to a Cracker Barrel.  It seems to me that almost everything Cracker Barrel represents or espouses are things that I dislike.  But they are RV friendly, they are located at every major interstate interchange (usually right next door to a Waffle House), and we are meeting fellow Airstreamers at a Cracker Barrel in Tennessee in a few weeks…

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We able to find a few items on the menu that we could eat, and the portions were only double what we can handle, not the 4x they usually serve… The food we had was pretty good, and I think if we eat here once or twice per year the food won’t kill us… Don’t get me started on why we, as restaurant diners, should have to stand in line behind trinket-buying tourists in order to pay our check…!

But soon we were in Florida!

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We will stay four nights in Florida… Tonight we are outside Freeport, on the western portion of the panhandle.  It amazes me that we still are not yet in the eastern time zone…!

The RV Park is quite nice.  There is even a boat launch; this river gives access to the salt water bays and the freshwater lakes…

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The Villa is set up and Happy Hours occur…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

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