May 31, 2009

Mammoth Cave

While enroute to the Kentucky Horse Park, we passed the turnoff for Mammoth Cave, and decided a quick tour was in order, since neither Kim or I had been here before. Having done the three hour tour out in Carlsbad last year, we knew that about twenty minutes of the holes in the rocks would be enough!

Mammoth is the largest documented cave system in the world with over 365 miles currently explored and mapped. Experts estimate the the cave system could contain another 300 miles or so - amazing. Clubs, college and scientific groups are allowed to explore it's depths by permit, but individuals must use the tours.

The short tour enters through this large opening just below the Visitor Center, one of several access points in the area. As we walked down the steps, the cool 58 degree air was initially welcome, but required a sleeve as our journey continued.

A hundred yards or so into the cave, the Ranger guide spots a tiny bat clinging to the ceiling just above our heads! Remnants of old saltpeter mining operations litter the cave system. Mammoth was an important source during early wars for the much needed component of gunpowder.

The lighting was very dim within the system, so picture taking was limited. I guess the most interesting aspect of this "dry" cave (lacking the crystal formations of the more impressive Carlsbad) is just the vastness of the rooms and the Mammoth system as a whole. So, if you're in the area, it's definitely worth the short tour.

For more information and better pictures click on this link:

May 30, 2009


Since the Ball Hollow Earthship led us to an area just south of Nashville, and we had to head north, maybe all this was meant to be. A quick check on the internet confirmed that this Saturday's Grand Ole Opry had some great artist, and in spite of a sellout, we were able to get a couple of last minute tickets.

The morning started out with visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and I must say that even if you don't care for country music, this is a great historical presentation of the music business back to the earliest days of Americana. Covering the early history of music of the cottonfields, the Texas swing days, development of modern country and rock through the 50's and 60's along with accurate examples of recording studios and equipment this is a must if you're in the area.

In addition to the historical exhibits is a small live theater on the second floor that's devoted to performances by current singer/songwriters. We walked in just as Kim McLean was starting her thirty minute show, boy what a treat. Although active for many years as a writer, she is just now being recognized for her singing talent. If you haven't heard any of her songs check it out at

Most of the exhibits on individual artists were interactive or screen presentations, which don't lend themselves to photography, but there were numerous examples of early instruments, and guitars of those famous artists.

And the major purpose of the museum is to house the "Hall of Fame".

Kim particularly enjoyed the fancy all leather interior of some of the artist Cadillacs. While I got a kick out of seeing Porter Wagoner's highly decorated suits!

Most of the day was spent on Music Row with too many sights and sounds to describe, so I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

That left us just enough time to have an early dinner at the fabulous Opryland Hotel. I could show tons of pictures, but this place really needs your personal scrutiny! From it's high "greenhouse" ceilings to it's exotic plants and indoor waterfalls, it's a real treat to the human eye.

And, no trip to Nashville would be complete without a night at the..... And what a night it was, Lousisana's own Jimmie C. Newman was there along with the "Riders in the Sky", but the highlights didn't start until the last hour when Vince Gill came on stage. That high tenor was in fine working order tonight as he delighted us all with a couple of numbers.

Then the star of the evening, Steve Martin joined Vince on stage. Yes, the comedian Martin is quite a banjo picker and has written many tunes as well! His intro number was a rousing rendition of a tune he'd composed that was similar to "Dueling Banjos". He was joined on this number by Randy Scruggs, Earls' banjo swingin' son....what a great duo!

Next Vince and Amy Grant took the center spotlight singing a duet composed by noneother than Martin, a nice treat. Martin even got into the singing action with a comical number relating back to his childhood.

All in all, a great evening topping of an interesting day in Music City!

May 26, 2009

Southern Tennessee & Sewanee Creek

There are three nice lakes within short driving distance of Pulaski and Tracey City, TN so we opted for the smallest "Normandy" which has a very clean TVA campground on it's shores. As we learned, you'd better have you turf reserved before any holiday weekend at any of these popular spots, and this was no exception (look carefully, we over there on the right!).

Although the Memorial Day weekend had the park full, most folks were courteous and remarably quiet. The kids confined themselves to the swimming area, for the most part, while the adults, including us, just enjoyed the grounds including a large flock of Canada Geese near the lake.

By late Monday, the campground presented a totally different scene, with our end almost deserted - really nice! Like other towns in the area Pulaski has an old downtown square with the typical City Hall in the center. That's it, "small town USA". What a pleasant shift from the hustle, bustle and heavy traffic of our larger cities.

We really enjoyed the friendly nature and open hospitality of these folks here in southern TN. Oh, and check out the town mascots...

,,,,,and even small towns are known to compete with Texas on a few big things!

The area is also known for it's whiskey producers, especially Jack Daniels.

Although we rarely drink hard liquor these days, we just had to do the tour.

Our host and tourguide was a trip, filling the afternoon with unique stories and crafty jokes based on her almost twenty years here at Jack's.

A unique aspect of the factory is the location. They have their own clean, freshwater spring flowing right on the property - the start of every bottle of whiskey they produce. We even got to meet Jack himself near the spring, being the gentleman he is, he agreed to pose for a picture with us!

We were surprised to learn that you can purchase an entire barrel of Old No. 7, already bottled and shipped on a pallet direct to your RV or trailer. After a little discussion, Kim convinced me that the small cask pictured on the right was a better fit for the 29 ft AlpenLite. So, I gues the fifth will just have to do.

And in case you're wondering, we were not allowed to take any photos inside the factory. We couldn't quite figure that out. It's really not rocket, I guess you'll just have to come see (and SMELL!) for yourself.

In addition to thoroughly enjoying southern Tennessee, there was some other "good news" in our quest for the Ball Hollow property. In doing more research on the area, we discovered Grant Miller's wonderful development at Sewanee Creek.

We spent most of the next day with Grant as our gracious host, touring Sewanee, and the entire community around it. The property has several nice creeks, and a wonderful sixty foot high waterfall!

In addition, there were panoramic views behind the community Amphitheater which is in the final stages of completion.

Grant received a high output DLP digital project for use at the theater while we were there.
Our favorite two lots were number 17 which overlooked the huge ravine bordering the backside of the development, and number 21, which has a rock "Indian House" located in the front, lending this area to be used as a cool patio off of one's porch!

Our visit included a special treat. Becky (Grant's wife) brought out some of her scrumptious homemade wheat bread, complete with fresh strawberry preserves made from their own garden - yummy!

For additional info, their website will provide some nice insight into what very well could be the community of the future......a green development in which the residents help one another in meeting the challenges of life that this new economy continues to present us.