Thursday, December 25, 2014

Heading south

Our "Get out of Dodge" trip south was uneventful, even somewhat boring.  Drive--stop in PA, drive-- stop in VA, drive-- stop in SC.  The stop over in South Caroline did include a short visit with Sharon and Frances Merrow, who have moved from Rockland to Spartenburg, S.C. last year.

Camping near their home at Croft State Park gave us a chance to see their new screen porch and share a great dinner provided by Sharon.  Came away with a new fantastic biscuit recipe.  Best I have ever tasted, and I don't care for biscuits.

Three more uneventful stops and we made it to Texas, where we had reserved a week in a park just north west of Houston for a visit with Fred and Charlotte Siems.  Fred and Charlotte were co-hosts with us last year in Mission, Texas.


The Siems' arranged a very interesting trip to the battleship Texas where they had hosted before coming to Mission in 2014.  The ship just celebrated its 100th birthday

 The battleship Texas was commissioned in 1914 and at that time, according to the welcoming pamphlet, was considered "the most powerful weapon in the world".  Today her claim to fame is that she is the only surviving U.S. Naval ship that served in both World Wars.
The ship saw no active duty in World War I but after receiving major modifications in 1927 and again in 1941, she was involved in campaigns in North Africa, Normandy, and Southern France before being moved into the Pacific theater  to provide support at landings in Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

below deck

The ship store

Soda fountain in the mess hall

Each group area had one of these folding tables set up during meals.  After each use it was stored in a rack on the ceiling and the beds were unfolded for sleeping.

 When the ship was retired in 1946 it was scheduled to be used as for a bombing target. Texas citizens launched a campagn to have the ship become a memorial battleship and she was officially transferred to the state of Texas in April of 1948.

Unfortunately, I spent most of the week helping with a family matter and missed the rest of our planned visit. Marlin did enjoy some local events with Fred and Charlotte so he wasn't lonely.

After leaving Houston on Tuesday we had one more over night stop and  arrived at Resaca de la Palma State Park on Christmas Eve.

Home for the next three months.  Hoods are up in an effort to thwart rodent nesting in the engines.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday weekend at the Cooks

A new tradition has been established.  Because Marlin and I started volunteering at Texas State Parks beginning on January 1, we have to leave Maine before Christmas. So, for the second year in a row, the Cook family has celebrated, what we are now calling, Thanks-Birth-Mas.  That wonderful four day weekend on Thanksgiving seems to be the only weekend we can all be in the same place at the same time, so it has evolved into squeezing the turkey dinner, two birthdays, and Christmas all together.

Jed is the Thanksgiving dinner cook.  He handles the entire meal by himself, allowing no one else in the kitchen.  That night we gear up for a birthday party for Jed, who's birthday is the 28th, and Lola, who's birthday is December 9.  Friday morning we all go out to get a tree, then spend most of the day decorating it.  After supper we hold a scavenger hunt for presents, then scramble into a free-for-all opening stocking stuffers.  It has turned out to be everyone's favorite way to do the holidays.

 Thanksgiving cook at work

That afternoon we had a great visit from Jacob Dunton and his, now, fiance Carlie Suek. Living in Wyoming we don't get to see them too often.

That night Birthday party.  Guess who is 11 and who is 39?

Favorite Birthday presents

Friday- tree cutting/trimming

Shellie gets the honors of topping the tree.

When the tree is complete, dinner over, the scavenger hunt begins.

The clues were tricky.

But he succeeded 

Marlin's turn
James loved the game

Shellie is next, but look who is enjoying it the most!

Jed found the wrong present and had to look again.

Lola enjoyed each and every search, documenting with her own camera.

I even got a set of clues to follow.
Jamien found a clue in Lola's bed.

And her present was in the oven.

That was only part one.  On to stocking stuffers.

Second annual Thanks-Birth-Mas - a success.

The week before Thanksgiving we had 18 inches of snow, 14 more the night before the holiday, and two inches of ice the next week.  Time to get out of Dodge with that camper.  We left Dixmont on December 8, crossing our fingers that we would make it over the hill.  On to the next adventure. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Smoky Mountains with the Baldwins and Burwells

One last stop on our way out of Texas was at Caddo Lake State Park.  This was just north of Marshall Texas, across the State line from Shreveport, Louisiana.  Looking more like Louisiana than Texas, this lake and marsh was originally formed from storm damage that blocked a stream.  We only stopped one night but it looks like the area is worth another look at some time.

 Family's fishing at the dock.  Kayaks and canoes are rented here.  We saw several on the water

 Marsh area

 Beautiful cyprus swamp

After a quick stop in Jack's Creek, TN, to visit with Rose and Denver Huff  and their two granddaughters, we moved on to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park where Marlin could fish for a couple of days before we met up with the Baldwins and Burwells.
The Baldwins and Burwells rented a cabin close to where we were camped just outside The National Park in Townsend, TN.

On the porch of their cabin overlooking the Little River

View from their porch.

In the cabin kitchen Chuck and Bob unload a cooler into the fridge.

 Everyone arrived on Bob Baldwin's birthday, which required a cake and candles party, along with some card playing.

The next day called for a visit to our campsite at the Mountaineer RV park, just down the road from the cabin.

Townsend, the small community on the quiet side of the Smoky's, has a Heritage Center that includes some historic structures that have been moved from some of the surrounding towns.  The buildings are set amongst a beautiful background of flowering hillsides and gardens.

Julie, Glen and I add to the color!

A large cantilevered barn.  According to information posted here, Tennessee has 90% of all the cantilevered barns in the US.  No idea why this style did not catch on everywhere there were farms.  Perfect way to keep equipment, livestock, etc, out of the weather.

Bob and Glen Baldwin

Spent some time hiking in the park.  Two of our favorite (and easy) treks were through Elkmont, the abandoned summer camp area, and out to the Walker Sister's homestead.

 On the trail above Elkmont, headed to the Avent cabin (after a short rest)

Glen and Marlin crossing the stream leading up to the Avent cabin

Cabin in sight after a short climb.  This cabin was used as a studio by artist Myna Avent.

A peaceful place to sit and think.

On the cabin porch.

 Julie braving the bridge.

The next day we walked into the Greenbrier school house and on to the Walker sister's homestead

This school house is a "plank" construction.  The wall boards provide the building's support system.  Check out the width of the boards.

Benches/ desks still remain.

The Walker homestead.  Five spinster sisters lived here, carrying on a way of life they had lived since the late 1800's, until the last one died in 1965.

One day during the week, Bob and Chuck went golfing and Marlin headed off for a day of fishing.  Glen, Julie and I were at the camper getting set to do some shopping when Marlin returned.  Seems he needed a bit of help from us!

 He had a fish hook imbedded in his lip!  He is not sure how this happened.  He was cutting off a piece of leader when the hook "jumped" into his face!  After several thwarted attempts, I was able to pinch the barb shut and get the hook out with little pain or distress.  It did not even bleed.  It did thwart the shopping trip though.

Our last day in Townsend we visited the Railroad museum.  This small establishment features artifacts from the Little River Railroad.  This was the railroad that hauled out millions of board feet of lumber from the slopes of the Smoky Mountains.  The docent there had endless anecdotes about events occurring during the railroad's hay day, including train crashes and tales of swinging bridges.

Our last hike before heading home was to an area called Tremont.  A three mile stretch of road is posted with numbered signs that describe activities that occurred in each location.  Tremont was a thriving lumber town that included schools, housing, and even a hotel.  The entire area now is new growth forest.

At the end of the drivable road is a trail that continues to follow the old railroad route along the middle fork of the Little River and provides views of spectacular waterfalls.

Marlin and I made one last stop before bee lining it to Maine.  We traveled to Spartensburg South Carolina to visit with Sharon and Francis Merrow, our friends from Rockland.  The have sold their house in Rockland and relocated to Spartensburg.  We had a great time seeing their new house and touring some of this area.

This picture of Francis, Sharon, and Marlin was taken at our campsite in Croft State Park, where we had a picnic before seeing the sights in their new hometown.

So ends another winter adventure by the Cooks.  Heading for Dixmont on Tuesday April 21, 2014.