Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Time to Head Towards Texas

 At The Views RV Park, Dolores, Colorado...

    After all the unexpected delays getting Phannie's annual service in Red Bay, our stay in Colorado this year was much shorter than we wished. We had actually planned to stay through September, but some exciting things await us in Texas. We are not looking forward to our departure to Texas next week, as the temperature there is still in triple digits after the worst heat wave on record.

    We have had a wonderful time here, especially with dear friends who have joined us from time to time. We feel for those who have suffered the heat back home but thankful we missed most of it. 

    While longtime friends Bubba and LouAnn were already here when we arrived, we were soon joined by Arkansas friends Carolyn and Larry, who rode the Durango-Silverton train and had time for us to give them a whirlwind tour of nearby Mesa Verde National Park and Durango, where we had lunch in the old saloon of the historic 19th-century Strater Hotel:

    No, Larry is not tipsy in the photo. Remember, I told you he's from Arkansas.  

    The old saloon as been restored, and they kept the original bar and even a piano player, whom you can see in the background. I wanted to play a duet with him, but the place was just too crowded.

    Our next entertainment venue was the Bar D Chuckwagon in Durango, where we were served barbeque and treated to a live western band. (They were quite good.)

    Our next visitors were BreAnn, daughter of Bubba and LouAnn, and longtime friends Mary Lou and Harvey. We all had a great time, and we have some photos, of course. Here's a lovely scene with BreAnn standing in front of Trout Lake, near Telluride, Colorado:

    Here's a photo of our last gathering around the campfire on the Animas river. In this photo are Jerry and Lori, some of LouAnn's relatives. BreAnn is standing next to Sandy. Notice we all have on our jackets (sorry, Texas friends):

    We had one final lunch at Serious Texas Barbeque (really good), as a goodbye gesture to Harvey and Mary Lou (far left):

    If you notice Harvey's impish grin, there's a reason. He is a cutup without equal, but Bubba and I pretty well hold our own. Much fun and laughter was had with all our visitors, and it was sad to see them go.

    And so, here we are, counting down the last few days before we head southward, knowing that September in Texas is not much different from August. It has been a fun time, but more excitement awaits us, and we will fill you in as we go.

   Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood


Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Cool Colorado--Finally!

 At The Views RV Resort, Dolores, Colorado...

This has certainly been a circuitous and expensive journey, compared to our usual fairly direct escape northward from the Texas heat for the summer. Our trip to Red Bay, then Branson, then back to Red Bay and finally to Colorado required the better part of 3,000 miles but, luckily, we had our friends, the Turleys and their family, who helped us pass the time. This was Phannie's lengthiest maintenance experience, but her long and faithful travels with us had reached a point where multiple preventive services needed to be done, in order to ensure she stays in top condition. When we reached Colorado, she got a terrific wash and wax job, so Sandy declared that Phannie has had her well-woman check and a spa day! She should feel pretty good about herself! 

Ain't she purty, all shined up in the photo below? For those of you who worry about buying an aging motorhome, you need to have a good knowledge of the care it has received. Properly maintained, they will run dependably for a very long time. We have every single record of any maintenance or service ever done. When the day comes that Phannie will have to find a new family--and who knows when that will be?--we may have to do interviews with potential buyers. She will not be able to cope--nor will we--with a new owner who doesn't treat her as family.

She now has new shocks, belts, coolant hoses, sway bar bushings, A/C drier, touched-up paint, and a new rubber slide gasket, not to mention her usual annual service on the engine and generator. No, it wasn't cheap, but mere pennies compared to the more than $400,000 for a new one that could join a host of other new ones that are already accumulating lots of problems and complaints. Properly maintained, Phannie should serve us faithfully as long as we are on the road. 

Since we were past the point in the dreadful summer heat where we would take our time and check out places along our daunting 1400-mile trip from Red Bay to Colorado, I tried to figure out how to make the trip as quickly as possible, especially since we would be crossing Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, parts of Texas, and New Mexico--all of which were cauldrons of the hellish July heat. Most legs were about 300 miles, with a 600-mile trek on one day from Oklahoma City to Albuquerque. That was the longest leg we've ever done in Phannie, but it was worth it to make good time across the superheated plains and desert.

We also found out something else: the roads in New Mexico are a mess! We will definitely avoid that state at all costs when we leave here. Added to all the cost of the service performed, diesel fuel ran us about $1500, but it was still worth it finally to reach the mountains and a climate manageable for humans. Here at The Views, it has been a little warm this week, with high temps in the 80s and nights in the 50s. We can't help but look at the 100-plus degrees daily back in Texas and be thankful we can escape.

Speaking of The Views, here is our view from the pavilion here in the park:


And here's a view of McPhee Reservoir, across the highway:

An evening walk or just sitting outside are so pleasant, and before long, you need to put on a jacket.

We had the great good fortune of meeting up with Dean and Ronda Dutton, fellow Lone Star Corral neighbors, so we enjoyed spending time with them in these terrific surroundings. Here we are at a local Dolores, Colorado restaurant, where it's actually very pleasant--almost coolish--to eat out on the patio:

We also had dinner with longtime friends, Bubba and LouAnn, who are camped at a park about 25 miles east of Dolores. Notice everyone is wearing a jacket:

At the Dolores farmer's market, we scored some ridiculously fresh veggies, including Olathe sweet corn (famous in these parts). So good!

Naturally, we had to do some sightseeing, so we took a drive to  nearby Telluride, where we toured this interesting residential neighborhood up at the 10,000-foot elevation. 

The scenery was spectacular, but there were few homes yet built, probably for a couple of reasons: There was nothing for sale up there under $5,000,000 and, at this elevation, the houses are probably a bit difficult to locate in the snowpack, so we're guessing these are the owners' summer homes. The area also had a view of the beautiful Dolores River to cross as you began your journey up the mountain:

So, if any of you are looking for a gorgeous summer home in the Colorado mountains, be sure and let me know; I know where to find it.

One of the good places to eat we've found up here is Bubba's, a cafe about four miles from our RV park. My friend Bubba especially likes it, because it bears his nickname:

We are so delighted that we are going to be joined by more friends in the weeks to come, and we will, of course, be posting about their visits. It is a wonderful summer in a delightful place, and we wish all our friends could enjoy it with us.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Waiting for Phannie's Makeover; Some Notes on Branson and Small Town Living

 At Downtown RV Park, Red Bay, Alabama...

As mentioned in the previous post, we completed our side trip to Branson, visited with the Turley family and had a great time. 

Since we have already posted in this blog about our many trips to Branson, I have elected to refrain from including photographs from this trip. The blog is replete with photos from other trips; if you don't believe me, just enter "Branson" in the search box.

Branson has changed over the 20 years or so we've been visiting here. The change has been both good and bad, influenced mainly by the passing of time. The inexorable passage of the years meant the entertainers of our generation whom we loved to see slowly passed from the scene. Most have either passed away or are too old to perform. Andy Williams passed away, Bobby Vinton (from whom Sandy got a kiss) is 88, Mickey Gilley died in 2022, The Osmonds have retired, Roy Clark died in 2018, and Charley Pride, Boxcar Willie and the Sons of the Pioneers have crossed to the other side. Sandy and I were probably some of the last folks who saw the Lawrence Welk Orchestra. All of these were in Branson, as were many more, and now they're gone. To us, these were the greats; they were singing and playing our songs and now, the Branson scene is not as we knew it, and I suppose it was inevitable. 

We feel suddenly out of place, as we don't understand or even like what now passes for music. What we have now is noise, lights and people jumping around. It is impossible to find anything resembling a melody, unless some group tosses in an old ballad for the sake of the old folks. The new country music is nothing more than a saga of some kind backed up by indecipherable guitar chords and drums. The old stars of the Grand Ole Opry must be spinning in their graves.

Fortunately, the town still has a lot going for it. The "new" music shows don't draw nearly the crowds that the great old stars enjoyed, so there are no new theaters being built. The vacuum has been replaced by a huge development for kids. Besides the major theme park, Silver Dollar City, there are innumerable go-karts, coasters, zip lines, a giant ferris wheel, and even a replica of the Titanic. There are spooky houses and an aquarium--all designed for kids. If their parents are lucky, they might even find an entertainer they themselves like--for reasons we don't fully understand.

We saw four shows in Branson, two of which we left early (not the oldies, of course), and the fourth was "Esther," in the Sight and Sound Theater, an enormous edifice featuring plays with unbelievably high-tech sets and costumes based on Biblical characters. The experience is like nothing we've ever seen, and the house is always packed, even though a single show may play for years. For us, this theater alone is worth the trip.

Fortunately, there are still a couple of shows featuring songs of the 50s, 60s and 70s, so we always catch one of those, for nostalgia's sake. Unsettlingly, the audiences for these oldies are slowly dwindling, as the boomers meet their inevitable fate. I'm not sure how long these will remain.

The good that you can always count upon is that the entertainment is clean, family-friendly and always honor our country and our veterans.

I see that I have taken up a good deal of space with Branson, but why not? We have time to kill like never before, given the backup at Bay Diesel, but there are few other diesel service shops that we trust like this one. Fortunately, they are also an air conditioner repair shop, and it appears our dash air is going to need a little work, too.

I knew the day would come when Phannie would have a need for major investment in the mechanical things that, over time, wear out for all coaches. It has been well-proven, I think that my fanatical attention to Phannie's recommended service needs has not been in vain; I think that is what has allowed her 17 years of almost perfect operation, never having stranded us anywhere or presented any problem that needed immediate attention. I even figured up the monthly average expense of maintaining Phannie over all the years we've owned her. That figure, including two new sets of six tires (between three and four grand per set) has been $298 per month, quite remarkable for such a complex heavy diesel motorhome. That also includes $5,000 for replacement hydraulic leveling jacks and $3,500 trying to fix the old electric jacks that was a regrettable manufacturing mistake for Tiffin to make in the mid-2000s.

During our visits to Bay Diesel this time, we will have replaced the shocks, the air bags, the engine belts and hoses and several other smaller items besides the regular annual oil change and generator service. I think she's going to be ready for another 125,000 miles!

We've already talked about our quick trip to Corinth in a previous post, so I'll give you a little more local flavor of the area, even though there's no shortage within these pages because of our many trips here to Red Bay. This little town of 3,500 souls has little to entertain a visitor during the day and none at night. Fortunately, Tupelo is less than an hour away, with much more to do, see and eat. But Red Bay lies just east of the Mississippi/Alabama state line, and as soon as you leave the Red Bay city limit heading westbound, you're in Mississippi. A few miles down the road is Belmont, Mississippi, where Tiffin Motorhomes, Phannie's manufacturer, has big paint facility. Belmont is also a tiny little town, filled with characters that, well, you just don't see any more except in small towns in the South. Both Red Bay and Belmont are places to which you can time-travel backward about 50 years. 

There are cotton fields everywhere, green and plush now because of a generous rainy season:

 There are a good many farmers, therefore, and other citizens around, all of whom seem to know each other. And then there is Sparks Cafe, at which they often congregate, including a special group that meets every morning for coffee or breakfast:

Notice the American flag out front; these people are no-nonsense lovers of their country.

 Attending these breakfast confabs are menfolk from the town representing all kinds of professions, but most appear to identify as farmers. Nothing about their profession or status seems to matter; They sit at a special table in front that seats about a dozen. In fact, the table is reserved for them with a sign that reads as follows:

Perhaps this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it is undoubtedly due to the sometimes raucous dissemination of wisdom among the participants that purportedly would solve problems all the way from international crises to potholes in the streets. Notice the huge bottle of ketchup that graces every table. Apparently, Belmont folks are fond of ketchup--as they are grits. The breakfast buffet always serves grits here; their omission would probably cause a riot.

One of the "smart" group--as it was named on the sign--was a lawman with a large firearm on his hip. The rest weren't uniformed peace officers, but there's a good chance his wasn't the only pistol at the table. I couldn't help but think to myself, could this be any more removed from the mayhem that we see on TV every day? I tried to imagine a couple of Antifa members entering the cafe, and there's a good chance the conversation at the smart table would take a different tone. Also, I'm not sure there is an ambulance in town, but it's highly likely that one would be needed, in such a case.

Sparks is a place where it is very common to hear grace being said at a table before eating. This is, after all, the Bible belt, and there are Bible verses displayed on the walls.

Speaking of walls, let's not miss the John Deere Memorial Wall, where proudly is displayed photos of all sorts of John Deere farming equipment:

I couldn't help but notice the photo of a couple of combines in the center, the frame lovingly surrounded by an incomplete wreath of cotton bolls. I don't know why I'm intrigued by this...perhaps because I've never seen anything like it before.

Getting back to my chicken and dumplings, which I had almost finished, I decided to see what was being offered on the dessert menu. I picked something called Elvis cake. I don't know what was in it, but it was so delicious, it made me want to sing:

Everything is served in Styrofoam dishes, of course, which would be a no-no for environmental crusaders who, for some reason, you don't ever see here. I suppose they don't to want to pick this hill to die on.

I love the Sparks Cafe because, every time I'm here, it is 1955 again, when the world was a sane, peaceful place where children received a real education and were taught right from wrong, daring not to refer to a grownup as "sir" or "ma'am" and had no confusion about which bathroom to use.

Back in Red Bay at our RV park downtown, we are close to the police station where two patrol cars sit unmoved for a week. Being a policeman here would probably be the cushiest job anywhere if one could stand the boredom. The RV park had a planting of huge sunflowers and, on a late-afternoon walk, I couldn't help but get a photo of one being plundered by a very busy bee:

As is common among RVers, we are privileged by our common status to meet new friends and gather to chat, solving many of the world's problems in the process:

So, what's next? Well, almost two weeks of not doing much until our appointment at Bay Diesel for the balance of the work. After that, we'll be beginning our journey west along I-40, as we make our way, finally, to Colorado. Phannie will clearly be ready for the challenge after her makeover.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Phannie Needs a Little Extra Attention, So Plans Change

 At Tom Sawyer RV Park, West Memphis, Arkansas...

You may recall from a previous post that I had made a miscalculation about the need to make an appointment at Bay Diesel for Phannie's annual checkup. We spent quite a few, um, less-than-productive days awaiting our turn, and then the day came. The servicing took only a couple of hours, but we learned from the tech that some more work would be needed, and that would involve the ordering of parts.

Ordering parts for a "classic" coach like Phannie is not always easy, and it certainly doesn't happen quickly. It seems the old girl needs attention mostly to the suspension system, something that is completely understandable after 16 years and 125,000 miles. The need, it appears, is for new airbags, repair to a leak in the air line, new shocks and, oh, by the way, new engine hoses. The old gal is still quite drivable, and I don't notice any difference in her handling, but I really had some misgivings about a long trip to Colorado this summer without updating things that could cause a breakdown in the middle of nowhere. 

So, I had quite a bit of back-and-forth with Teresa at Bay Diesel regarding when Phannie may return to have all this done. "Well," she said, "We're gonna have to order some parts, and we don't know how long it will take to get them here for a coach like yours."

I thought her choice of words was nicely done--typical of ladies of the South. If we had been somewhere in Yankee territory, I would probably have heard something like, "It's gonna take us a while to comb through junkyards to find what you need for this derelict coach of yours."

Well, some may think she is a derelict, but she has been lovingly cared for and has had many new upgrades over the years. Her hulky Caterpillar diesel engine, the same monster that runs hundreds of thousands of pieces of construction equipment all over the world, has never had a hiccup, and it has not needed a drop of DEF. Studies have shown that it should easily reach 500,000 miles before any major repair is needed; that will certainly outlast us! Phannie is solidly built from when almost every Tiffin owner will admit were the "good" years. Trade her off? Unthinkable.

Teresa and I settled on July 24 as the day of the work. "July 24?" I was aghast that we would have to hang around for a month in a town that was too small even for a WalMart. Red Bay doesn't even have a Dairy Queen, for goodness' sake! 

During our downtime awaiting her service visit, I had Phannie's exterior lighting upgraded to something a little brighter when we need it. I'm pretty happy with the result:

Since we had more than a month to kill before July 24, we decided to drive over to Memphis and attend the annual gospel quartet show. Having been a gospel pianist all my life, I really enjoy these. We always park at the Tom Sawyer campground by the Mississippi River. It's always fun to watch the river traffic go by:

The river is very low right now, as you can tell from the narrowness at this point. This places the navigable channel very close to our campground, which is even better for viewing the river traffic.

Walking near the water, I spotted these old logs that had been washed downriver perhaps decades ago, undoubtedly uprooted by a flood from who-knows-where:

There is so much history associated with this mighty river, it is easy to get lost in thought about its past and, indeed, its present. I could almost hear the wonderful old song, "Old Man River" that I play often when I do show tunes on the piano:

After attending the quartet show, we'll leave Memphis and spend a couple of weeks in Branson with old friends Larry and Carolyn and their family. That will be a fun experience and a pleasant way to pass the time until our return to Red Bay. 

After that, we will finally make our way to Colorado and the cool mountain air. Fortunately, the temperature has been unusually comfortable in this area since we left Texas. I hope it stays that way for another month. I looked at the temperature in Hondo today, and it was 104 with a heat index of 117; that's why most of the park empties out in the summertime. We think of our friends who have to stay there in the summer and thank Mr. Carrier for inventing air conditioning.

Thanks to all for hanging on as we take the curves in our trip plans, but that's the nice thing about being retired--who cares?

 Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Monday, June 12, 2023

A "War" Story From Long Ago

 At Downtown RV Park, Red Bay, Alabama...

Since we are in a bit of a waiting period here in Red Bay, I thought it would be a good time to re-publish the monthly column I write for my hometown (Nacogdoches, Texas) advertising paper, Around The Town. Recent columns I've written have described the operation of flights in smaller airplanes carrying U. S. Mail across the U. S. at night. This was about a five-year experiment by the U.S.P.S. some 50 years ago and, in the area of east Texas where I grew up, I became the lone pilot performing those flights for most of the program's duration. It doesn't seem like that long ago, of course, but few of the citizens knew about them back then--and especially now that a half-century has passed. There will be one more column on the subject after this one, and I hope you find these little lagniappes  interesting.

Flying the Mail—It Wasn’t all Roses


It was a winter night, and a thick cloud cover lay over most of eastern Texas. I couldn’t reach the top of the clouds to find clear sky, and the cloud bases were only a few hundred feet from the ground. So, it was one of those nights--flying by instruments for the entire trip after leaving Dallas. I was barely able to make a successful NDB (a now-primitive Non-Directional Beacon) approach into Palestine and, after unloading, I was off again, back into the clouds seconds after raising the landing gear after takeoff. After leveling at a low cruising altitude, and the big Pratt and Whitney radial engines were humming smoothly, I noticed a wisp of smoke seeping out from behind the instrument panel in front of me. After a few minutes, the smoke became thicker, and the attitude deviation indicator (a pilot’s primary flight situation instrument because it mimics the position of the airplane if there were no clouds) in front of me slowly began to skew, indicating the airplane was beginning to bank when I had not moved the controls. I glanced over to the right side of the panel to compare this with the copilot’s ADI, which showed the airplane to be in normal, straight-and-level flight. I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t know if it was limited to the ADI. Now, an on-board fire is the last thing a pilot wants in an airplane, so I began tripping circuit breakers to any electrical instrument on the left side of the panel, and the smoke soon stopped. (I can’t remember what was found to be the problem—probably the ADI itself.)

Fortunately, almost everything critical on an airplane is duplicated in case of failure. Had there not been a duplicate set of operative instruments on the right side of the panel, I would have been a goner. Why? Because without some kind of visual reference to an airplane’s attitude (position in the air), there is nothing to counteract the brain’s false sensations of what the airplane is doing. There are several sensory elements, located mostly in the ear canal, that always sense false cues about the position of the airplane if a pilot’s outside vision is lost. Almost every change in the airplane’s position—even its acceleration or deceleration—sends false signals that eventually and inevitably end in loss of control of the airplane if there is no countering visual reference. The technical name for this is spatial disorientation. It is for that reason that special training and a special certificate is required for pilots to fly solely by reference to instruments.  I can still hear the instructors’ admonitions when I was obtaining an instrument rating: “Trust the instruments, trust the instruments, no matter what your brain is telling you.”

There have been a number of fatal airplane accidents attributed to spatial disorientation, some involving the loss of famous people, such as Buddy Holly in 1959, Patsy Cline in 1963 and John F. Kennedy, Jr. in 1999, among others.

Since my side of the instrument panel was disabled, I was left with the copilot’s instruments to fly the airplane, except I was in the wrong seat. (By the way, there is no requirement for a copilot on the Beech 18 and there was none on board that night.) I quickly unbuckled and moved over to the right seat, where I could fly more effectively what I knew would be another instrument approach with low clouds at the Lufkin airport. The only problem was a little feeling of awkwardness in operating the aircraft from the right seat. I had never flown the Beech 18 from the copilot’s seat and, while I wasn’t concerned about it, things certainly felt different. All the controls were now operated by opposite hands from usual. The airplane had no autopilot, so I just had to ignore the different perspective and keep flying.  

Since you’re reading this, I obviously arrived safely after the approach into Lufkin, awkward as it was, but it was a bit tense that night—just so you won’t get the idea that everything always went smoothly for a mail pilot.

Today’s pilots are probably shaking their heads at the primitive nature of the aircraft instrumentation we were using 50 years ago. Today’s avionics are, by comparison, stunning in their technology, capability and redundancy.  

I have one more mail-flying “war story” to tell you next month, then we’ll move on to something else.

The photo below is that of a Beech 18 instrument panel. The ADI is the round blue instrument just above the yoke (steering wheel for non-pilots). See how it mimics the airplane relative to the ground and sky?

 Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Friday, June 2, 2023

Red Bay Again and an Interesting Side Trip

 At Downtown RV Park, Red Bay, Alabama

It has been quite a while since we've been to Red Bay for Phannie's annual service--especially since Colorado is sort of the other direction from Texas. In the previous post, I explained about our paint touch-up combined with a visit with friends in Searcy, Arkansas that placed us within a few hours of Red Bay, and we don't know of any better place for diesel service than Bay Diesel there.

Red Bay hasn't changed much. It's still a sleepy little town, lost in the last century--a real plus, in my mind. Nothing is "woke" here; I doubt if they even know what that is. Restaurants come and go. One has changed to a barbeque joint, and another has changed from Chinese to Mexican food; both are mediocre, unfortunately.

Because of the vast migration of Tiffin motorhomes through their birthplace here, repairs often take a while, even though there is a myriad of non-Tiffin shops to do the work the factory turns down once a coach attains five years of age. We've learned to make appointments and just wait our turn. This is the first time, however, that we weren't able to get an appointment with Bay Diesel within a few days of our arrival. "Two weeks," they said! Alas, they have been discovered. It's okay, though. We had a couple of other things to be done and we really prefer now to go places and say awhile. But we've already written about that.

Luckily, we caught up with Walt and Lanie from our home park in Hondo. They were finishing up some factory work and some paint touch-up, so we were able to visit with them for a while. Walt was kind enough to help me install the new pole that will lift our Starlink antenna up above Phannie's roof:

It was great to toss our backup hotspot in the drawer and get back to Starlink's blazing internet. Thank you, Walt, for your help.

In a couple of days, we bade them goodbye and decided to take a day trip to Corinth, Mississippi--about an hour away and a place we had never visited. Corinth is a good-sized town, nestled in rolling hills and, not known to us, the site of a crucial battle in the Civil War. Back in that time, Corinth was a strategic railroad crossroads between north and south and east and west. The crossing point is still there:

Corinth was originally held by 25,000 Confederate troops under the command of General P.T.T. Beauregard. The Union wanted badly this strategic rail center and lay siege to it for a month in the spring of 1862. Commanding the much larger Union army was Major General Henry Halleck, who said that Corinth was of equal importance as Richmond, the Confederate capital, and he successfully took the city on May 30, 1862. The result was that the Confederate army no longer had access to the rail line into western Tennessee, thusly limiting any successful occupation in that direction. 

After the Union victory, no fewer than six Union generals visited or headquartered at Corinth, including Ulysses S. Grant, whose control of the lower Mississippi River basin was thusly assured for the rest of the war.

This is the Mask House, near downtown Corinth, which served as the headquarters of several Union generals. It has been lovingly restored and donated to the city of Corinth:

The site of General U. S. Grant's headquarters was just south of the Mask house; it is now occupied by the Corinth City Hall:

On our way into town, we stopped at Abe's Diner, a near-junkyard of memorabilia of the last half-century or longer:

We parked in front of a non-functioning parking meter and a hundred-year old gasoline pump. The vastness of the memorabilia, inside and outside, was mind-boggling.

We were seated by Pat, the current owner, on a couple of barstools at the counter; there were no chairs, tables or booths in the tiny place. Pat, a rotund and delightfully pleasant older man, was stationed at the takeout window with an open cash drawer crammed with money that could easily have been purloined by anyone within reach. But such things apparently don't happen in this place. I can guarantee that at least one of the stools was occupied by a patron with a firearm.

Cooking at the griddle was Lynn, Abe's grandson, and his mother, who was dishing up freshly-cut and fried French fries:

Hanging from the ceiling were dozens of license plates, and surrounding the menu were all kinds of currency, and even a Fedex truck hanging by a string.

Pat, wearing a blue apron like that of his wife and son, walked over to us, noticing that Sandy and I had ordered only a hamburger each and no French fries. He seemed distressed by this, pointing to a potato slicer in the corner and telling us the fries being loaded onto most of the other customers' plates were cut "right there this very morning." The temptation was great, but we politely declined, trying to stay as much as we could within the diet regimen Sandy and I have been painfully enduring for more than a year. Pat's face dropped, but he said he understood. Now, I actually regret that we didn't at least split an order of the fries.

Afterward, we drove around town for a while. The museum was closed, but we saw some charming and well-kept homes like this one:

We were out of most everything, it seemed, so we made a Wal-Mart stop that took a couple of hours and over four hundred bucks of stuff--almost none of which was food. This would be a good place to rant about politics, but I have learned that it is fruitless to do so in this blog. There are just some things I will never understand.

Corinth is the county seat of Alcorn county, and I snapped a photo of the courthouse, along with a statue of a Confederate soldier, Col. W. P. Rogers of Texas, a close friend of Sam Houston, whose importance in Texas history is legendary, and whose name is borne by the largest city in Texas. Col. Rogers was killed in the second battle of Corinth, a failed attempt by Confederate soldiers to retake the city from the Union occupiers. I was glad the statue was still there and not defaced, a fate that has befallen many of the historical monuments of the South, as if the history could thereby somehow be vindicated if not erased altogether--another thing I guess I will never understand:

As I was taking the photo, I noticed a gathering in front of the courthouse, including the setting up of some musical instruments. I learned that on Thursday evenings, a local group of musicians would play and sing for the townfolks, who would gather around, chat and listen to the music. I thought to myself, how delightful and ironic at the same time, that the very site of such horrific divisiveness in the past is now a place of peace, good will and friendliness to all who gather there, even in the shadow of Col. Rogers. Here's a link to the show.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood


Friday, May 26, 2023

We’re On Our Way!

At Searcy, Arkansas…

We left Ranchito Hondo a few days ago and, after a short stay at the kids’ for grandson Mason’s birthday celebration, we made our way toward Searcy, Arkansas. Why? Well, I’ll get to that. We made a stop in hometown Nacogdoches, Texas for fuel and a brief visit with lifetime friends John and Pat. 

After an overnight in Texarkana, we arrived at the RV Fog Dr. In Searcy. They formerly repaired only foggy windows, but now have expanded to include collision repair and painting. We were having them work on some paint deterioration on the top rails of the bus. However, the main reason for this choice was that Searcy is the hometown of dear friends Larry and Carolyn, with whom we always have a great time. 

The RV Fog Dr has a good reputation, but we found they had obviously overbooked, as we had to wait two days before any significant work began.

I have decided to experiment with including some videos in the blog, since that seems to be the new wave, so I’m going to experiment with this one linked here, made at the RV Fog Dr shop, that could’ve probably been done much more professionally by a nine-year-old. 

We had a great time with Larry and Carolyn and, when Phannie was all finished, we drove on to Red Bay, Alabama, Phannie's birthplace, to have a few things done, but more on that later.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood