July 31, 2014

Benton County Quilt Block Trail...

 When we stopped at the Golden Pond Visitor Center in Land Between
the Lakes yesterday, I grabbed this brochure for the Benton County
Quilt Block Trail. Are you surprised that it might have caught my eye?

Camden, TN is the county seat of Benton County and it's located near
the shores of Kentucky Lake (an impoundment of the Tennessee River).
The Quilt Block Trail runs all through Benton County, Tennessee.
The idea came about when one of the people who would begin the effort, 
read an article published by the Tennessee Farm Bureau about barn quilts.

 A public meeting was held at the Benton County Library to see if there 
was any interest in a quilt trail within the county, hoping to get twenty 
participants. With a grant from the Tennessee River Resort District for 
materials, the project began in the spring of 2010. This brochure was 
printed in 2012, and at press time, there were over 122 quilt blocks listed 
from one end of the county to the other! I suspect there are even more now.
 The quilt blocks were painted on 4 x 4 wood boards by volunteers and location
owners after their favorite quilt blocks were chosen. There are no duplicates.
 I'm just pointing out a few of my favorite blocks. I had seen some
along our trip route, but that was before I saw the brochure and learned
about this large-scale effort. Although I didn't see the actual block, I 
like this 4-in-1 block for the Underground Railroad Codes.
 I also have an affinity for barns, so the "cow" blocks appealed to me.
 I'd love one with the oak leaves and acorns on it!
 Of course, "Fall Flight" with the goose, reminds me of autumn in
Wisconsin. I can just picture flights of geese over the Horicon Marsh.
 When we got to the south end of the Trace, at Dover, I managed
to get a photograph of one such block on the side of the Regions
Bank Building. This is outside the "range" for the trail, but I suspect
that others have caught the Quilt Block fever and joined in the fun.
 Right across the street from the bank was this block hanging
 from the local antique shop building. I really like the colors.

As I looked at all the blocks in the brochure, it occurred to me
that it might be a fun project to make a quilt using the same
blocks on the trail...all 122 of them. I'll put that on my "To Do List".
That will be for another day.

We stayed at Clanton, Alabama last night and will be in Perry,
Florida tonight. We'll be home tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it.

July 30, 2014

The Land Between The Lakes...

Yesterday, we made our way from Champaign, Illinois to Buffalo, Tennessee.
We decided that we'd take in a little scenery off the Interstates and drive the
Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway, also known as
"The Land Between The Lakes" between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

This route spans approximately 50 miles and runs through both Kentucky and
Tennessee. While we stayed mainly on the highway, there are many things to
explore along the way. They are over 300 miles of natural shoreline, 200 miles
of paved roads, 500 miles of trails and 170,000 acres of forest and open lands.

There are also public camping facilities, horseback riding and environmental
education programs throughout this National Recreation Area. The only homes
 you'll find within the park are located on the very south end of the trace. The
rest were bought (or acquired through "eminent domain") by the Federal 
government during the Kennedy administration in the 1960s.

Handsome and I stopped at the Golden Pond Visitor Center (located about half
way through our route) to go through their educational exhibits and planetarium. 
We also toured the grounds to see their wildlife exhibits and wildflower gardens.

We saw many cemetery signs, so when we were at the Visitor Center, I asked 
the gentleman working behind the counter about them. He told me that there
are over two hundred cemeteries on the route. Prior to the 1960s, there were
many people who lived in the area, but they were either bought or forced out 
by the government. While people were no longer allowed to live in the area, 
their dead were permitted to stay. He told me that later on, contemporary 
family members were allowed to be buried in their family plots. Therefore, 
one visiting any of the local cemeteries might find headstones with
current dates intermingled with those from as far back as the 1700s. 
One of the storyboards that particularly caught my attention was about the
"Trail of Tears". You can click on this image to read the story for yourself, but
it is sad, indeed. I think of the harsh and cruel way our government treated the
Native Americans (particularly, in this story, the Cherokee Nation) and I wish
they had treated all Indian nations in the way they deserved to be treated: as
the owners of their ancestral lands and homes. They deserved more respect.
As we neared the 3/4 mark on our route, we saw this structure near the road.
We pulled into the parking area to learn more about its purpose and history.
In this instance, photographs can better tell the story than I.
I was surprised to learn that there had once been a structure at the top of the
furnace. (By the way, we did see another furnace structure within twenty miles
of leaving the Trace. It wasn't nearly as well-kept as this one, and looked unstable.)
  This is a better view of the entire structure as we viewed it. At the base,
the interior stonework stops, leaving an opening for the insertion and 
removal of the sand castings that would catch the molten ore.
Of course, Handsome took a picture of me so you'd know we were actually
there! (I insisted that it was mostly so you'd see the scale of the furnace.)  
While we drove, we saw many (shy and quick) deer and turkeys. After 
taking lots of blurry photographs, I finally gave up and just enjoyed the view. 
If you ever find yourself in this part of the country, I strongly suggest allowing 
a few days from your travels to camp, swim, and stop at all the sights along 
the way. There's a lot to be learned on this short drive through history.

We stopped for the night at a KOA in Buffalo, Tennessee (located west and
a little south of Nashville). Today, we'll have an easy drive to Clanton, AL.
More on our adventures tomorrow!

July 29, 2014

Turning For Home...

This is the view from our camper at our overnight stop.
We pulled into D & W Lake RV Park in Champaign, IL our first night moving
south. Although it's not far off Interstate 57, it's very quiet and peaceful. We stayed
here previously, and it's such a nice place that we looked forward to returning.
When we make single-night stops, we keep the truck and Flying Cloud hooked up.
Because most of Illinois (at least around the Interstate) is flat, this plan works well.
As Handsome made camp for us, I took Tag for a little walk along the lake.
The wind rustled through the cattails and the sun shone like a warm welcome.
We walked in clover and thanked God (and Handsome) for another safe day of driving.
Tag is the greatest "traveling dog", but I think he was happy to
be out of the truck, snuffling in the grass...and getting his dinner!

Hump Day, and we should make it more than half way home today.
It's so much fun traveling in our comfy home-away-from-home, but
Handsome, Tag and I will be happy to sleep in our "big" bed soon.

There's no rush, so we may yet take a little side trip. We'll decide 
along the way, and I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.
Thanks, as always, for traveling with us. We enjoy having the company!

July 28, 2014

Tuesdays With Tag - In Search of The Faeries of Breezy Hill...

 Hi, Everybody!!!
I'm so excited. I finally get to tell you about my biggest adventure 
 since comin' to the Wisconsin campground. There's magic afoot here!

 You might remember that I've been spendin' as much time as I can with
these two young ladies. (They're my our granddaughters.) When last I
saw them, The Little Redhead said, "Did you know that I adore you?"

 Me? Can you believe that she adores me???
You do know that I'll take all the adoration I can get. Non-stop.

Well, these adorin' grandchildren shared a book with me recently.
 It's called "How To Find Flower Fairies".
(I prefer the Ancient Corgish spelling, "Faeries" myself.)
 Inside its pages are lots of pop-ups and flaps...and so much information
that children should know about locatin' Faeries. They could be Treetop or
Forest Faeries or Meadow Faeries, or Faeries from many other places. 
They're actually all around us, if we just take the time to look for them.

Now, while youngsters might need special teachin', this is a talent 
that has always come naturally to their magical Faerie steeds, the Corgis.

I suggested that Mom bring along her camera for a day in the campground
because I had noticed that there were very unique Faerie formations here.
 This is the first location that caught my attention. I had to check it out. It's
 actually in the tree that has our number marker for our campsight, and I
 seem to remember ancient lore regarding Faerie affinity for locations with
 ready-made addresses. (That way they can send Faerie dust to each other.)
 You'll notice that there are hidden spaces behind this front facade. I think
it's a doorway. I could smell that there had been Faeries here recently. 

Maybe this is where Faeries gather for their weekly or monthly 
councils to plan rabbit trainin' schedules or perhaps who will be feedin' 
the birds for the upcoming moon cycles? It's been a long while since any 
Corgi has attended any such meetin' so I can only imagine these things.
 I did notice a gnome rootin' around the base of one of the trees.
He seemed like a friendly enough sort, but he was all tight-lipped when
 I approached him on the subject of local Faeries. He just smiled and
sent me on my way. (Gnomes are just harmless troublemakers anyhow.)
 I happened upon a baby rabbit, too. Man, I wanted to chase him somethin'
fierce, but I kept my cool and turned my thoughts to more pressin' matters.
I did make a note of his whereabouts for future reference, though.
 Sometimes, you just have to get real quiet and move into "stealth mode".
(Can you see me? Right. I didn't think so.)

Faeries have very sensitive hearin', but so do Corgis. We don't miss
much, unless it's on purpose, of course. Then we can be deaf as
doornails! (It's called "selective hearing" in some circles.)
 Heh, heh. Here I am. No time to goof off. Gotta keep my nose
down because I'm gettin' all itchy. My "Faerie sense" is kickin' in.
 Oh, boy! Look what I found.
A tiny warren of enchanted baby bunnies!!! They froze up when they saw 
me and didn't move a muscle. Obviously, they weren't any help either.
 What's this?
"Hey, Mom. Check this out. I think we just missed 'em."
 I found evidence of a Faerie, obviously a hard worker, too.
This one has been collectin' acorns and clover blossoms.

Did you know that if you pull apart a clover blossom and suck on the ends
 of the flower closest to the bud, it's sweet and syrupy? Yup. I'm not kiddin'.
Mom used to do it when she was a kid. She knew Faerie secrets way back then!

I just bet this Faerie is collectin' clovers to make a natural sweetener for
 their chicory or dandelion teas. They might even drink lemon grass tea! I
wonder what he or she is gonna put in that empty bucket. What do you think?

One thing I was sure of though...we're gettin' real close to findin' a Faerie.
 Then, I turned around to the next tree and look what I found. Tucked into a
soft bed of moss and grasses - and hidden in the shade of flowerin' air plants - 
I sneaked upon the sweetest, teeny, tiny sleepin' face. I nearly missed it!
Shhhhhhh. Be very quiet. 
We don't want to disturb this little one. It's a Faerie baby!
 The baby was restin' on a pillow of clovers with a headboard of weathered 
oak leaves. The Faeries left a Lady Bug to guard the little one while they work.

Lady Bugs are very vigilant and, in case of danger, they fly away to alert the
 Faeries to return quickly. I bet you didn't know they make the best of nannies.

She knew that I would neither wake the child, nor harm it, so we were able
to sit and admire her precious charge for a little while and then quietly leave.
 So, there you have my very special story this week of my adventures
in search of the "Faeries of Breezy Hill". If you keep your eyes open, you
 can see their little lanterns twinkle in the moonlight just like lightning bugs!
We'll return again next year to continue our search. I'm sure the Lady Bug 
will tell the Faeries that I was gentle and respectful this year. Perhaps the 
next time I'm here, they'll come out to visit with me. I'm sure hopin' so. 
Maybe, I''ll even be allowed to act as their trusted steed one full, moonlit
night, just like the Corgis of ancient days. That would be an honor, indeed.
We're leavin' Wisconsin tomorrow to start back home. Next week, I'll
tell you how our trip went and then settle back into my regular routine.
I know. Lyin' around, swimmin' and chasin' lizards isn't exactly glamorous,
but it's the life I love and I'm anxious to get back to it. 'til next week...
"Wag Like Ya Mean It!"

July 27, 2014

A Last Wisconsin Weekend...

Me with my BFF Lee
This past weekend was a whirlwind of family gatherings. It seems that as we
near the end of our time here, our dance cards fill more quickly. So it was on
Saturday and Sunday. My weekend began with coffee and conversation with
my BFF Lee. We never really get enough time together on these trips. Ever.
Precious moments with our granddaughters
Then, I was off to a lunch date with our younger daughter-in-love and our two
fun and beautiful granddaughters. We ate at one of their favorite local restaurants
and then walked around town a bit to find a few things I needed to get as gifts.

I always enjoy talking with our girls and getting caught up on their lives...
and listening to their storytelling is always enlightening and amusing.
Adults: L-r: Josh, Johanna, Eli, me, Nathaniel, Chelsea, Aaron and Amanda (and the kidlets)
Saturday ended with a drive to Beaver Dam, WI to meet my Aunt Eli, her
three grown children and their families. My cousins are just the best, and 
all of us laughed over an Italian dinner and Eli's special touch for my cousin,
Nate's Birthday celebration. (That's him peeking over my shoulder.)
Nate with the kidlets wearing famous masks
She made face masks of famous people who share his Birthdate...and then
his nieces and nephews held them up to surprise him. (For this party, there
were Kevin Spacey, Sandra Bullock and Mick Jagger masks. Oh, boy!)

Goodness, I remember how much fun it was to be thirty one, and now he'll
have a year to enjoy it for himself. It was hard to end the evening to head home.
Me with my niece, Keeley
  Sunday began with lunch with my niece, Keeley and her grandma Sally.
Sally was kind and generous enough to offer one of her cars to me to use the
entire time we were in Wisconsin. Aunty Margaret followed me over to Sally's
so that I could return her car today. We visited over a lovely Waldorf salad lunch,
and, after hugs and goodbyes, Aunty Margaret brought me back to the Flying 
Cloud to find Handsome had returned from making circus music the wilds of 
Nebraska. (He attended the summer Windjammers Convention all last week.)
Son #1, our lovely daughter-in-love and grandson - and me with Handsome (being serious) :D
Handsome and I spent a few hours catching up on the events of the week, and
then we jumped back in our chariot to meet Son #1 and his family for dinner.
I've gotten really good at asking complete and total strangers to take my camera
  and (after a quick lesson in its operation) getting them to snap really great memories
for our album. Of course, there is usually silliness involved and this one was no
exception. After hugs and kisses and promises to see each other again soon, we
parted company and headed to our own homes for another good night's sleep.
Today, we'll be packing and preparing to leave Wisconsin. I've loved every 
new memory we created with our friends and loved ones we saw on this trip. 
Still, there never seems to be quite enough time. I can think of more than a
few people we had hoped to see before we leave again, but missed. They'll
be at the top of our list for the next time we're here. And, they're
always welcome to travel south when the weather gets too cold for them.
Until next year, loved ones...
We'll leave early tomorrow morning and turn for Florida.
I have lots to do today, though before we're ready...starting with laundry.
(I'll be trying my new homemade laundry soap!)
I'd better get after it!