Saturday, July 31, 2010

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

On Sunday we made the drive south to Sevierville (pronounced severe ville), Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Tennessee and then through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Cherokee North Carolina. I then ended up working in the Pigeon Forge area this Friday and I think every person on the East Coast is visiting Eastern Tennessee at this moment! Picture Wisconsin Dells on a much longer and busier scale. The traffic is horrendous....don't even THINK about turning left onto the Dolly Parton Parkway without a traffic light. Hopefully all the tourists are a sign that the economy is picking up?

Old Grist Mill in Pigeon Forge

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is beautiful in July but in October I can imagine the views are just breathtaking with the fall colors. It is one of the largest protected areas in the country and the most visited national park in the country. Unfortunately it is also the most polluted national park in the country. The park has over 10,000 species of plants and animals inhabit the park, northern species at the higher elevations of up to 6,600 feet and southern species at the lower elevations. There are black bear in the park and elk were successfully reintroduced in 2001.

In addition to the air pollution problem, the Eastern hemlocks in the park, or the "Redwoods of the East" are under attack from an insect native to Asia, the hemlock woolly adelgid. Without quicker intervention eventually this insect will kill all of the hemlocks in the park, some of them being over 500 years old. It is very sad to stop the vehicle and get out to take pictures only to see a multitude of dead trees on the mountainside. Hopefully something more gets done and gets done quickly.

Knoxville Tennessee

So we have been here in the Knoxville area for a week now after not being able to arrive until last Saturday due to the tire incident. Unfortunately the blow out on the interstate damaged more than just the tire. The compartment immediately behind the driver's side rear tire contains our septic and when the tire blew it broke the gray tank pipe in two as well as damaged the fresh water hose hook up and the compartment itself. Bill found an RV parts dealer nearby and for about $100 he was able to fix it himself. It is so great that he is that smart and able to fix things which no doubt saved us a claim on our insurance and we have a $500 deductible too. Here is the tire that started it all.....and for the record Bill DID go back and pick up our road gator as they can be very dangerous to other drivers when hit!

Last Saturday we went to visit the Lost Sea in Sweetwater Tennessee south of Knoxville. I am not that big into caves myself but this is an underwater lake with planted trout so Bill was interested in going. It is listed by the Guiness Book of World Records as being the largest undergound lake in the US. We stood in line to get in for more than an hour. It was so hot that the management had an employee go around passing out ice water and they had a large fan blowing near the doorway. Of course, once we did manage to get into the cave area it was a wonderful 58 degrees, the temperature it is year around.

There is a room in the cave called the "Tavern Cavern" that actually used to be a bar that produced and served moonshine during Prohibition. The part of the lake that visitors see is 4.5 acres but the actual size has not yet been discovered as there are rooms that divers were not able to get to. The trout were planted in the lake to see if they would be able to find an opening, which they didn't. They ended up being kept in the lake as an attraction for visitors. With the $16.95 adult admission I voted this attraction a thumbs down but because of the fish Bill voted it a thumbs up. This is a picture of the man made opening to the cave as all of the pictures taken inside were too dark to see.

Knoxville is the third largest city in Tennessee and is the home to the University of Tennessee. Orange is everywhere. The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame is located here mostly due to the success of the women's college team. At one time Knoxville was know as the "Underwear Capital of the World" because of the more than 20 textile mills in the city. Although south of the Mason-Dixson line, Knoxville was an abolitionist and anti-secessionist city during the Civil War Era. In fact, although Tennessee voted to withdraw from the Union in 1861, there were factions that attempted to align Eastern Tennessee with the North. Some of the people who list Knoxville as their hometown include country singer Kenny Chesney, author Alex Haley, animal expert Jack Hanna, quarterback Chad Pennington, director Quentin Tarantino, and Wendy's founder Dave Thomas.

Tami Sue Ziesmer

I received a phone call today from my friend Jenny Reinke back in Oshkosh. She told me that a mutual friend from high school, Tami, had passed away on Thursday. She was only 46 years old. Once again I am reminded that just when I am feeling the sorriest for myself, things could be a whole lot worse.

Tami and I went to the same church, St John's Evangelical Lutheran, on Main Street in Oshkosh. Initially we did not go to the same school but when my parents bought the house on the lake when I was in 6th grade I began classes at South Park Middle School around Easter time. Tami was the only person I knew so I naturally gravitated to her. That and the fact that she had the greatest parents in my opinion. Bonnie and Marty were so laid back and easy going, unlike my own parents. Every Wednesday night after confirmation classes Bonnie would ask if I could go to McDonald's with them and my mother always said no. I guess she was afraid that I would get used to doing neat things, which at that age, neat things were going to fast food restaurants.

All through school I was always envious of Tami as she had two things I did not -- really cool parents and spending money. Throughout high school Tami worked at a small beverage mart that her parents owned that was a block away from my grandma's. I remember going there on Friday nights and getting our weekend supply of alcohol and riding with it on my bike in my backpack. Now I'll tell you that riding your bike with a ton of Boone's Farm bottles jangling together is no picnic!

Tami also had an old Lincoln that everyone called "The Beast". I remember going to the outdoor and having to be the one in the trunk as I, as usual, didn't get any money from my parents to get in. A few times I wondered if I would make it out of there alive as the carbon monoxide fumes were so bad!

Right after high school we had a softball team that played for Nigl's bar and Tami and her sister Tracy played on it. I will never forget those nights after the game, drinking .65 bottles of beer and everyone line dancing to "Swingin'" by John Anderson.

Shortly afterward we began to hang out at a bar called Robin Hood's that was a big dart bar. We began by playing steel tip darts and that is where Tami met her husband Dino. They would go on to eventually own a bar in Oshkosh called Dino's that was also a big dart hang out until Dino got sick. I was in Tami and Dino's wedding and my memories of that occasion were the tons of red roses and Tracy fainting and almost taking me down while at the altar because she was pregnant!

Throughout the years I drifted away from Tami although I did continue to see her occasionally at dart tournaments and events. After meeting Bill and deciding to stay away from the bar and darting life I had totally lost touch with her. I am sad that I will not be able to reminisce and share these memories with her.

Tami, thanks for the memories and godspeed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Project Laundry List

This was a big thing for Bill and I when we lived in Pickerel as we don't even own a clothes dryer. In nice weather the clothes got hung outside and in the winter they got hung in the shop which gave the added bonus of adding humidity for free to the house air. When we are boondocking it is too hard to use our clothes rack but that is the only time we use a dryer.

Here are the top Ten Reasons for line drying. Won't you try and join the cause?

10) Save money (more than $25/month off electric bill for many households).

9) Clothes last longer. Where do you think lint comes from?

8) Clothes and linens smell better without adding possibly toxic chemicals to your body and the environment. Yankee Candle thinks so, too...

7) Conserve energy and the environment, while reducing climate change. Learn how!

6) It is moderate physical activity which you can do in or outside. You can even lose weight!

5) Sunlight bleaches and disinfects.

4) Indoor racks can humidify in dry winter weather.

3) Clothes dryer and washing machine fires account for about 17,700 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 360 injuries annually. The yearly national fire loss for clothes dryer fires in structures is estimated at $194 million. See a diagram of the critical danger zones of the dryer.

2) It is fun! And can be an outdoor experience that is meditative and community-building. It may also help you avoid depression.

1) Demonstrates that small steps can make a difference. You don't have to wait for the government to take action!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Paycheck Fairness Act

It's too bad it takes legislation to receive equal pay for equal work but isn't it about time? What I find incredible is that not one Republican has decided to co-sponsor this bill! Do they not have female constituents?

AAUW Breaking Through Barriers for Women and Girls

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Little Bad Luck on the Way to Knoxville

The company had finally decided to send Bill to Knoxville Tennessee where he has to start work on Monday night. We were going to leave on Wednesday but decided to stay so Bill could change the front brakes on the Avalanche. We headed out this morning and ran into road construction about every 30 miles it seems. I'm glad the roads are getting fixed and it is putting people to work but do they have to do them all at once?

We had made it as far as Goldtown West Virginia when all of a sudden we heard a big BANG from the rear end of the coach. I thought we had hit something but we had actually blown the driver's side rear outside tire.....ripped it to shreds. Bill did a good job of getting us to the side of the road and now here we sit. We do have Coach-Net Roadside Assistance for times such as these and made a call to have someone come out with a new tire. It will cost $140 for the tire but Bill says its well worth it as the tire needs to be changed, put on the rim and it is the tire in the traffic lane to boot. So hopefully tonight we will make a campground in Radford Virginia called Sportsmans Campground. We decided to join Passport America which is basically a camping discount group where you get 50% off of sites. Of course holiday weekends or any other regional festival time are excluded but for us being on the road all the time it will add up to some big savings. Our dues were only $44 per year so 3 nights will about pay for the dues.

So here we sit on I-77 southbound with the generator running as it is so hot and humid that the animals are not happy.....the tire company should be here within the hour and if all goes smoothly we will be out of here by 6:30pm or so.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kent State - WARNING - Philosophical Discussion!

Today I made a detour up to Kent on my way to Akron as the Kent State Memorial is something I feel we all should see if we are in the area, sort of like Pearl Harbor and Ground Zero. Granted some people who don't believe in activism or in the quote often misattribued to Thomas Jefferson, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" would not agree with me, but to me the Kent State Massacre which occurred on May 4, 1970 is as an important of an event in our country's history as Pearl Harbor and 9-11. Although far less people were killed at Kent State, the belief that citizens of a free country were free to assemble at any time and in any place died along with those four students. Granted violence had proceeded the events of May 4 and violence should never, ever have a place in civil disobedience. The burning of buildings and cars and the throwing of bottles and rocks do not endear to others one's political beliefs.

Many right wing zealots today say that to question the government is unpatriotic. Some have gone as far as to say that if you don't like what is occurring in this country, leave. But would any of these Tea party activists question the patriotism of Thomas Jefferson? And Thomas Jefferson DID say, “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” as well as "Every generation needs a new revolution". The Vietnam War protests during the early 70s were that generation's revolution and the war divided the country much as the ever widening philosophical differences between the right wing Tea Party and the left leaning liberals today are again sharply dividing it.

I entered the memorial area and immediately felt an inexplicable tension. The hair on my arms stood up and although the memorial area was designed to be peaceful, I was anything but. Questions ran through my mind and I began to wonder what it feels like to be so committed to a cause that you are willing to die for it. Not that those students were expecting to die, more like expecting to possibly go to jail. No one in that day and age would have ever thought that a branch of the United States military would fire on relatively unarmed citizens. What is a bottle or a rock against the firing of an M-16?

I also wondered why we are not seeing more protests in this day and age when atrocities and corruption are occurring to this very day. It seems like today no one wants an arrest on their record even for something as noble as a civil disobedience. Are people more worried about their own interests to care about fighting for something bigger than themselves? Do we just not care about the loggerhead turtles and the millions of barrels of oil spilling into the gulf or the hundreds of soldiers who are the same age as the Kent State students who are being killed in a war we can't win? Are we just too busy, too wrapped up in our own little world to even think beyond our circle, our lifetimes? In the world of today that can be understandable -- it is a struggle to just survive and not lose everything you own even if how much you own is TOO much. But during the 80s and 90s -- where was the activism then? Maybe my uneasiness at the memorial had to do with the fact that I consider myself an activist -- for animal welfare, for the environment, against unjust governments. So I know that if I had been at Kent State on the morning of May 4, 1970, I no doubt would have been in the middle of the fray.

The famous picture of Mary Ann Vecchio over Jeffrey Miller's body taken by John Filo to me seems to demonstrate the apathy that many people have the photo it seems that no one besides Vecchio is even upset that a student has just been shot. In fact, the girl on the left appears to be looking at Miller's body like it were an everyday occurrence and is simply strolling on to her next class. The other students are looking away and not rendering any aid to Miller at all. How many of us today are those students? Ignoring what is occurring in the world, minding our own business, keeping a low profile and staying with our own agenda no matter what happens in the rest of the world.

There are three inscribed slabs of granite near a walkway at the memorial which I found to be extremely relevant to not only this tragedy but to all situations we may encounter in life :

Nearly ten years later the President's Commission on Campus Violence would issue a report that concluded that the shootings were "unneccessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable". Unfortunately the statement was ten years too late for Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder and Sandra Scheur. But if we all obey the mandate inscribed in those stones and continually ask questions when something is not right, learn what we can do to stand up to injustice and wrongs, and finally reflect on what has happened in the past so that such acts do not and cannot occur in the future then maybe the these students have made a difference with in the world with their memorial and they did not die in vain.

Oil Spill Orphans

This article breaks my heart more than any other I have read about this catastrophe....I wish we were somewhere closer so I could help besides just sending the small amount of money we can give....this just keeps getting worse and worse....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lack of Organization - A Bit of a Rant

There hasn't been much to post lately as we are more or less hostages of Bill's job right now. Now I don't want to sound overly unhappy as he has a job -- it is just that there should be more to life than work, sleep and then work again -- especially when there is no set time frame as to how long this will continue nor a set schedule of where! He has been going into work at 8:30pm and getting home around 9:30am the entire week. Now this would be fine if we knew that he would do this for 2 weeks and then have a week off in between but no one can seem to tell him if this is "normal" or not. If it is, 66 hours a week for no extra pay is a bit much in my opinion. And to add insult to injury they can't seem to get a schedule together for the life of them. We have had to put off getting mail sent as we had no clue as to where they were sending him next. Not to mention that my work then gets put on hold as I can't take jobs that I won't be here to complete. In this past week alone first we were going to Kansas City Missouri then Knoxville Tennessee and now it is supposedly Fort Wayne Indiana again on Wednesday and Thursday and then Southfield Michigan on Sunday and Monday. I can't understand how it can be so hard to assign a crew to a schedule and then let them know that schedule ahead of time, especially when someone has to travel 500 miles to get to their next job. Besides I worry as I know he won't be physically able to keep up with such a work load on a permanent basis. Definitely my working with this company is out as there would not be enough Vicodin in the world to make me somewhat pain free if I would work so many hours. I simply would not be able to do it. What corks me the most is that he is putting in all this time for no extra pay than what he was making previously working about 25 hours less per week. We are now seeing the negative aspects of being salary just as I did when I was teaching. Also, he was just reading his employee handbook (which he just received 3 months later) and it says after 90 days probation he is eligible for health, dental and 401k benefits. Well, his 90 days was up on July 5 and no one has said a word to him as of yet so the HR person is getting a phone call tomorrow. We were even AWARE that he was supposed to get insurance!

Like I stated, I am trying not to be frustrated as life was more difficult in some ways when he did not have a job but sometimes you have to know when you are being taken advantage of. Nowdays employers know that they have you by the the they drain every little last drop of profitability out of you and then toss you away as they please. I am sad to sound so negative but there have been thousands of people that this has happened to and it doesn't seem to be getting any better with the economy, or at least the unemployment levels, staying in recession mode. So that has been this week in a nutshell....I am looking for better news to report.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cruelty Alert: Pets Suffering from Heatstroke in Parked Cars

This is taken from the ASPCA July 16, 2010 News Alert. I know that I try not to take Dozey with me to work when it is so hot but it is sometimes hard to leave him all day when Bill is sleeping. So during this time of year we have a Catch 22.

As many parts of the country struggle with recent heat waves, we’ve all seen the disturbing news reports of pets, mostly dogs, dying from heatstroke as a result of being left in parked cars. Just last week, a Bronx, NY, man left his Maltese in his van—with the windows cracked—while he went for a swim at a state park. The temperature inside the van climbed to 140 degrees and despite intervention by park police, the dog didn't survive. Even on a relatively mild 85-degree day, it takes only 10 minutes for the interior of a car to reach 102 degrees—and within 30 minutes, the inside of the car can be a staggering 120 degrees. Leaving windows open a few inches does not help.

Furthermore, when it comes to the body’s ability to cool itself, canine physiology is vastly different from ours. While humans have sweat glands all over our bodies that help regulate our body heat, dogs cool down mostly by panting, which is much less efficient than sweating. In only a short amount of time, a dog with a high body temperature can suffer critical damage to his nervous system, heart, liver and brain.

At least 14 states and many municipalities have enacted laws to address the problem of animals left in cars in extreme temperatures. Under these laws, police, animal control agents, peace officers and others may be authorized to enter a vehicle by whatever means necessary to remove an animal. “I would recommend that if your state doesn't have a specific law addressing animals left in hot cars that you still call law enforcement, because it may be considered animal cruelty under your state or local laws,” says Jill Buckley, Senior Director of ASPCA Government Relations & Mediation.

If you’re out and about on a hot day and see an animal alone in a car, you should immediately try to find the car’s owner. If you have no luck, or if the owner refuses to act, contact local law enforcement and/or animal control. “The important thing is to get the dog out of the car, keeping in mind that you shouldn’t put your life in danger, either!” says Buckley.

Here is a link to the ASPCA flyer on the subject Granted, most times many people don't want to get involved if they see a pet in a car in extreme heat but remember, that animal's life could depend upon you acting.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Schedule - What Schedule?

I hope you enjoyed National Chocolate Day on July of the better holidays in life in my opinion! We were grocery shopping yesterday and Bill was buying Twizzlers and calling it candy. No comparison to a large hunk of cacao in my opinion. In fact, I remember Halloween many, many years ago and going trick or treating. My brothers knew that chocolate was the only candy I would eat and during the trading afterward it was never one to one Tootsie Roll or sucker for a piece of chocolate. Nope, I had to pay like FIVE other candy for one piece of chocolate. Which probably explains some of why those two are the way they are today.

The trip back to Ohio on Monday was a bit longer than we had anticipated for some reason. We did not get into the Youngstown area until about 5pm. We are now at the Mill Creek Campground on Berlin Lake west of the Youngstown area. Bill went in during the day today to help unload the truck and has to be back on Wednesday at 6:30pm at the Olive Garden nearby as one of the big bosses wants to meet with everyone. Hopefully he will get his schedule for the next few months at that time and hopefully we are going somewhere else than Ohio. Not that Ohio has been bad, we are just ready for other places. But with Prime who knows if they know this. As of 8am this morning he still did not know what time he was supposed to have been into the store as no one called him. He finally got ahold of someone in Georgia who said, "No one called you?" He was supposed to have been there at 8am but didn't make it in until around 10am with all the confusion. Good thing he's on salary.

So Bill went to the Olive Garden at 6:30pm on Tuesday night. Everyone at this location right now was there including the majority owner of the company and Mack, the project manager that Bill had been dealing with on the Target project. The owner explained that the group there had been "hand picked" to do the Petsmarts and that they were the absolute, number one priority for the company. Which is good news in one way as obviously they are happy with Bill's work but on the other hand it seems like the project might be from 9pm to 8am 6 days a week! Well, bad thing he's on salary here! I am not the greatest with math but that comes up to 66 hours a week in my calculations for no extra pay. The owner said that no doubt the crews would have November, December and January off. Well, that STILL comes out to 2376 hours a year when "normal" time is about 2000 if you work 40 hours per week 50 weeks a year. Then he asks Bill if I am still interested in signing on. We have seen the pay scale a bit across the board. Independent contractors were getting $175 a day but employees were getting $9 per hour. And they have stated that they won't pay me a per diem as Bill is already getting one. Well, I can make more than $99 a day doing my merchandising and not have to work all night and punch a clock. So we have pretty much decided that I won't go to work for them unless the hourly pay is more or I get the $100 per day per diem also. Bill asked one of the team members who has been doing Petsmarts if they didn't have a life while doing them and the guy said "pretty much". Bill will hang in there until we get caught up financially if this is how they are going to run the projects but neither of us can see him doing this indefinitely. Most of the other team members are younger and can take doing this on a forever basis. Once we are caught up he has other choices that would work and he would still have a life. And to top if off we still don't know where they are sending him after these next two weeks! Arrghhhh.....

I have been spending a lot of "office" time at the table outside now that we are in a campground. Somehow it makes the work seem a little less like work. Here is a picture of "home" for these few weeks. The canopy is the new one we had to get after the wind storm in Kansas.

Also Bill absolutely HATES roundabouts! And they seem to be everywhere out here. While driving around the Kent area last week we came upon a sign which explains why the roundabouts can be so confusing especially when you are using a GPS! Trying figuring out where to turn when the GPS thinks it is a regular corner. We have had to back pedal various times especially in the rig.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th

We decided to leave the Morehead area this morning as last night was another rough sleeping night due to the heat. We found a Kentucky State Park that was northeast of us and on our route back to Ohio on Monday so I called and they had some electric sites open up so here we are at the Greenbo Lake State Resort Park northwest of Ashland Kentucky. It's a good thing that we are here mainly for the A/C because the park is wall to wall people and the spots are only about 20 feet apart. Not my normal idea of a good time but we look at things with different eyes as we will be leaving here tomorrow only to head to another camping spot -- not like some of these poor people who only get to camp during the busy summer holidays.

We were sitting inside enjoying the A/C when Bill told me to look outside. There was a deer across at the camper in front of us. We thought it had just wandered in from the woods but come to find out he was injured as a baby and a campground worker took him in to heal. He has hung around the campground ever since. According to the people across the way there is not always a hunting season in this area and when there is it is run like a lottery so hopefully he would escape that fate. Someone else said that he will be taken to a petting zoo soon which is great as he seems to like the kids and barking dogs don't seem to faze him!

It is strange here in Kentucky how many people still smoke. According to the CDC last year it was the number one state for smoking with 28% of the population unable or unwanting to kick the habit. Yep, you can't drink a beer in plain sight but you've got everybody and their brother lighting up all over the place! You have got to love rules.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cave Run Lake

As I mentioned before we are staying at Twin Knobs Campground which is near Cave Run Lake in North Central Kentucky. Construction of the structure which dams up the Licking River began in 1965 and ended in 1973. The lake it made stretches 48 miles long and covers 8270 acres. Although the dam was primarily constructed to avert flood damage but if you read my last post on the area you will remember that somehow it just didn't work as planned in 2010. The dam is jointly run by the Army Corps of Engineers and the US Forest Service.

There is a nice walking trail a bit downhill from the campground loop we are in and at night we have been taking Dozer there to walk and swim a bit although it drops off real quick about 2 feet from shore in all the areas we have been at.

The campground itself is rather large and has been full since Thursday. We are near to a bath house so we have been going over there to take showers as to not fill up our gray water tank and have to pull the slide and everything in to go dump. There are tons of kids and dogs here and it can be a bit noisy during the day but at 10pm it gets really quiet really fast which is nice. We will be leaving here either Sunday afternoon or Monday morning and heading back up to Ohio to a campground southeast of Youngstown as it will be in the 90s for the better part of next week so that pretty much precludes any boondocking and saving money on camping fees anytime soon which is nice on one hand as the views are usually much better in a park than in a Target, or now it will be Petsmart, parking lot!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Daniel Boone National Forest

On Tuesday we left Lexington and headed east to the Daniel Boone National Forest. We are staying in the Twin Knob Campground which is on Cave Creek Lake as Bill wants to get some musky fishing in. Right now we are in a non-electric site as the campground only has 9 electric hookup sites. They are not reservable so they basically hold a lottery drawing for the sites when they are vacated especially on a holiday week such as this one. So at midnight someone has to go down to the entrance gate and put their name on a list. Then in the morning when someone who had an electric site leaves, someone has to be at the entrance gate when their name is called or they are passed by. What time in the morning? Who knows? Anywhere from 7am to 1pm checkout time. Crazy. It is supposed to be cooler the next few days so if we can tolerate today we may just make do with the non-electric site and the little generator. At least we are in the trees.
The neighbor from the next campsite over stopped by and told us that there were agkistrodon contortrix, otherwise know as copperhead snakes, around here...great. So we need to be extra vigilant as Dozey would no doubt think it was something to play with like a chipmunk.

We have commented many times on the fact that during our travels we have found it hard to find bars or taverns. Granted that not many places in the country drink as much as we do in Wisconsin but sometimes it is to the extreme the other way. We were reading the campground rules and it states that it is illegal in Kentucky to drink alcohol in public places. So I began looking up what exactly that meant. It seems like it means what they want it to at the time. Bill needs to start remembering to check his beer supply as for example here in Kentucky 46 counties are completely dry, 42 counties are "moist" which means they have cities in them where alcohol is sold, and only 32 are wet counties. Right now we are in Rowan County and it is moist with only the city of Morehead selling alcohol and of course not on Sundays. The really sad part is the following study "A study of about 39,000 alcohol-related traffic accidents in Kentucky found that residents of dry counties are more likely to be involved in such crashes, possibly because they have to drive farther from their homes to consume alcohol, thus increasing impaired driving exposure. The study concludes that county-level prohibition is not necessarily effective in improving highway safety." So basically what is the point of a dry county?

On Tuesday we took a drive south to Frenchburg and the Red River Gorge area of the forest. The camping in that area had been closed since last Sunday as a hiker had been attacked by a black bear. Black bears have been reintroduced to Kentucky in the last decade and people are still not used to having them around and do dumb things like let their dogs bark and chase a sow with cubs and leave food outside for their coon dogs which then results in incidents like last Sunday's. At least the bear has reportedly left the area and they were not able to just shoot any old bear to make the public happy.

For lunch we decided to try something local and walked into a small, corner restaurant in Frenchburg. The minute we walked in Bill started laughing as it was so stereotypical. But I guess stereotypes have to come from real life, right? Anyway, you had a fan turning slowly on the ceiling and two tables of locals, one table being two old guys with seemingly endless cups of coffee and cigarettes jabbering away in an almost incomprehensible southern drawl. If I had a dollar for every "y'all" that was said during the course of our lunch I would be able to retire without a 401k! The waitress was dressed in jeans and a t shirt and came up to the table asking "What y'all have today?" When she told me what type of diet soda they had, one being Ale-8-One (which is actually really, really good and only distributed in Kentucky unfortunately) and I didn't know what it was, she asked, "Ya'll ain't from around here, are ya?" Well, no, you couldn't tell by the accent? The food was very good, at least Bill's burger was. I made the mistake of trying the catfish and everything, and I mean everything, was overly deep fried -- the catfish, the french fries and the hush puppies. We told her about how in Wisconsin a small town such as Frenchburg would have a bar on every corner. She laughed and said they have a church on every corner....I looked around and they really did!

We also drove around the countryside -- we are both very comfortable here in Kentucky and especially like the hills. The views of the foothills of the Appalachians are spectacular and we saw many cabins such as this one.

And many, many black barns and fences. We could not understand why they would paint the barns and the fences black so I did some research. It seems like the barns are not actually painted black but have creosote on them and I found two reasons why - one is to keep termites and other bugs from eating the wood and the other is to keep them hotter to cure the tobacco crop inside quicker. The fences have creosote on them to keep the horses from chewing and rubbing up on them so that the posts last longer. You also "quilts" on barns which are part of the Kentucky Quilt Trail.

While we were in the southern part of the forest we came upon the Nada Tunnel There really weren't any warning signs stating that we would be going through a 900 foot long tunnel of solid rock that was only one lane - barely!

There were signs on both ends of the tunnel that said vehicles should yield to oncoming traffic and then we saw this....

And then as we got closer we could see the proverbial light at the end of the very long was a good thing that the Avalanche has manual controls for the headlights as for some reason they did not come on automatically. There is no way we would have gotten the RV through this! I guess from now on we need to check the road ahead to see if there are any places bigger vehicles cannot get through.


Again sometimes in life you find out about things going on with other people and you realize that maybe, just maybe, your life is not that bad. We sometimes get so caught up in our daily problems and issues that we forget that there are many other people out there who are fighting much larger battles.

The first one is a musky guide here in the Cave Run Lake area named Crash Mullins. Bill had known about him before we came here and he is pretty famous in the fishing world. We stopped at his store on Hwy 801 here yesterday and I saw a sign asking for donations for his multiple myeloma treatment. I did some digging online as his website, , seems to be down at the moment.

For more, visit
The famous, longtime muskie angler and guide David "Crash" Mullins is battling the multiple myeloma – a form of bone cancer – and has begun preparations for a stem-cell transplant. Pro Tom Dietz has began a drive to raise money to help with the estimated $450,000 for treatment. Dietz said donations can be made directly to the David Crash Mullins Multiple Myeloma Foundation.

Then we stopped at another bait shop and starting talking with the owners. Although we were not aware of it, the flooding that occurred in early May down near Nashville also happened this far north. Many people and businesses in this area lost everything. The local RV dealer is having a flood sale and told us that water went 2 feet up in his building. Cave Run Lake rose 18 feet in 24 hours and just took out everything in it's path. Of course, many people here did not have flood insurance so have no hope of rebuilding.

And finally, this is a very sad story about an 80 year old couple that was driving on I-80 in Nebraska and had a tire blow out. The rig was engulfed in flames and no one could get to them in time. Tire blow outs are bad enough in cars but as seen here, in a large rig towing another vehicle, it can be more deadly. Granted I am not sure that someone 80 years old should be driving a vehicle of that size due to reaction times and physical limitations, but this has got us searching for a steering stabilizer system and a toad braking system for immediate installation. We should have definitely gotten the braking system previously as many states have laws making them mandatory. But if any good comes out of this accident it will be that more people install easy safety features to ensure that this does not happen to them.