Friday, October 30, 2009


Today, we went to to The Quiltmaker's Shoppe in Manchester, Iowa, and Vintage Threads Quilt Shop in Dyersville, Iowa. I knew I could find some fabric that I wanted at these shops. We had a wonderful lunch at the Country Junction Restaurant in Dyersville - they have great homemade pie. Ray chose pecan and I had a couple of bites...mmmm good!

We arrived home this afternoon. We are unpacked; the laundry is done; the bills are paid; and we have groceries. I still have more to do before I start work Monday...

We had a great trip. The highlight, of course, was seeing Brad and his family and meeting Crosby. Past that, we are having a hard time picking out our favorite things. We just really loved the entire journey.

Now it is time to enjoy being home again!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brad, Sheila and Family

The long weekend with Brad, Sheila and the kids was super. We have MANY photos and it is hard to preview them on this little netbook computer so I just chose a few to share!

Crosby is a little doll and a really good baby. Everyone loves to hold him -

Colter spends much of his time talking on his play phone. He makes it ring and then says "Hello. Hi.". He now says " Hello. Hi Mack!" He shared his toys with us...

Ray and I took a walk with Jackson on Friday while Grace was in school; we investigated everything especially dried worms on the sidewalk which made letters - like O, C, L, and S. Using my camera, Jackson took pictures of each one and every other interesting thing we found! On Saturday we repeated the walk with Grace, Jackson, and Colter. We found lots of acorns, leaves, and moss on that trip. Jackson had lots of smiles...

On Saturday, Grace and I got butterfly tattoos while Colter, Jackson, Brad, and Ray got frog tattoos. It turned into quite an event and the children were delighted with them! When we bought the temporary tattoos in Cherokee, we hoped the kids would enjoy them as much as their cousin Mack likes them. We weren't disappointed!

It was cute to see Colter climb up on the couch, get a pillow on his lap, and ask in his Colter-language for his brother. He (and Grace and Jackson) love to hold Crosby.

Grace read a number of books for us. Her reading level is incredible for a kindergartner. We also did a few puzzles. Sheila had a 300-piece puzzle that had big pieces and little pieces - I think she called it a family puzzle. We all (except Grandpa, Crosby, and Colter) did it one night.

Grace and Jackson helped finish some little projects that I began for them.

Grace and I have matching earrings that Ray and I bought in Alaska. They are the Alaskan state flower, the Forget-Me-Knot.

On Sunday, Sheila stayed home with Crosby (who seemed to be going through a growth spurt and wanted to eat almost constantly) while Brad took the rest of us to the North Carolina Zoo. Grace and Jackson were able to feed one of the young giraffes and we saw a baby baboon. Grace loved the ocelot and Jackson liked the cougars. Brad made sure we were at the sea lions and seals in time to see their feeding and watch their tricks. The zoo is extremely kid-friendly and Sunday was also a Halloween celebration so the kids collected candy by playing various games. It was a cloudy, cool day but a great day.
The weekend ended with many of us being tired...

and it was hard to say good-bye...


We crossed Illinois today and are in Davenport, Iowa tonight! There is a quilt shop, The Quiltmaker's Shoppe, that I need to stop at in Manchester, Iowa, and since I won't have time next week, we'll go there tomorrow. It is now almost on our way home!

We started out this morning in sunshine. Shortly after we got into Illinois, the rain began. It is still pouring out. It would be nice to see the sun again tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

We are in Indiana

We are staying at the lodge in Brown County State Park near Nashville, Indiana. It was raining when we arrived yesterday and has been overcast all day today. We spent most of today shopping in Nashville. We did take time to tour For Bare Feet, a sock company here. It was really interesting! One of their stores is opening in Galena soon.

On both Monday and Tuesday, I got calls from the Census Bureau. Looks like I will be going back to work for a while. My training starts on Monday in Rockford. This time I guess I'll be testing and perhaps training people. So we will be home this weekend for sure!

Our Internet connection isn't great but the indoor waterpark here more later!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dinner at Angelo's

The desk clerk recommended that we eat at Angelo's, a local Italian place in Princeton, WV tonight. The pizza was good. Before we ordered, I asked the waitress (super nice, cute little blond high-schooler) if they had bacon - she said they didn't have regular bacon because the guys running the place were Greek. When she came back to take our order, we talked about the bacon again and her part of the conversation went something like this: the guys are Arabs or whatever you call them; oh yeah, they are gypsies! We got laughing. Then she said they were from Egypt. So I suggested Egyptians. She agreed; she had no idea what gypsies were. I felt like I really had a good laugh today and the best part was that we shared it with her!

Heading toward home

We are heading north toward Nashville, IN and then home. We had a great time with Brad's family. I'll catch you up on our visit eventually!

Today, as usual, there is beautiful scenery everywhere. The trees are gorgeous. We are in Princeton, WV tonight. We mostly drove today. Did manage to stop at one quilt shop, Sew Original, in Winston-Salem, NC. This is a sister store with the one we stopped at last Wednesday! We had lunch at River Birch Lodge. It was recommended by the quilt shop and very good!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another beautiful day in North Carolina

Just finished having a picnic with Brad, Sheila, Grace, Jackson, Colter, and Crosby. What great weather! The older kids are on their way to bed. More later...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Beautiful Day

What a gorgeous day! It was cool when we got up but ended up in the 70s! We drove north on the Blue Ridge Parkway and had beautiful scenery. We stopped, hiked, and had lunch at Linville Falls.

Here we are near the end of the hike.
Shortly after lunch, we got off of the Parkway and went to The Original Mast General Store and Annex in Valle Crucis, NC. Ray wanted to go to one of the stores so we decided on the original one - it was very interesting with nice merchandise! We couldn't check everything out because there were lots of people.

We stopped in Boone at a quilt shop, Sew Original. I bought some fabric for a wallhanging to remind us of this trip. We saw a quilt in Asheville and it really served as a great inspiration. Golds, yellows, greens, browns, and reds - the colors of the leaves! Maybe I'll have it done for next fall!
We decided to head for Hickory because it was some place new to us. Lots of traffic - there was an accident on I-40 so we couldn't go directly to our motel. The last 2 miles of our detour took almost an hour.
We are excited and looking forward to seeing Brad, Sheila, Grace, Jackson, Colter, and meeting Crosby tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An On Off Day

We have had a gorgeous day - sunny blue sky! We planned to drive the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway starting in Cherokee. As luck would have it, that section (closed from snow and ice for a few days) opened this morning! So we headed north through beautiful scenery.

The clouds were below us and beautiful!

After a short hike, about 1/4 mile on the very steep Waterrock Knob Trail, we got back on the road. Thirty miles after getting on the Parkway, we had to exit due to ice in some tunnels. So we drove into Waynesville right to the quilt shop! Quilter's Quarters is a nice shop. They directed us to a place just a minute away for lunch - Nico's Cafe - great soup and sandwiches! You can always trust a quilt shop to know where to eat!
We drove through the historical part of Waynesville and would have stopped if we could have found a parking place - it looked like a really neat area but was packed with people. We finally got back on the Parkway and saw Mt. Pisgah and then we had to exit due to a mud and rock slide! So we got off and eventually got back on near Asheville. After seeing the Folk Art Center and finding out that all of the Parkway north of us is open again, we found a place to stay. We drove, took pictures, took a very short hike, shopped at a quilt shop, ate lunch and got 90 miles further down the road in 7 hours!
The front desk clerk sent us to Okie Dokie Smokehouse for dinner. When we arrived and saw 8 squad cars in the parking lot, we decided it must be good if the cops ate there. Actually it was the City of Asheville SWAT team. The Brunswick stew, hush puppies, and red coleslaw were very good!

I forgot to mention the schools in Cherokee yesterday. They opened a new school complex on the reservation this fall for K-12. It is huge - at least 8 - 10 buildings each 3-stories tall arranged in a oval. A huge football stadium, lots of playing fields, and a number of out buildings. We saw a class on one of the fields practicing fly fishing - they had poles and were casting. The complex is pretty awesome - it was larger than many community colleges!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Cherokee day

Sunshine and freezing temps greeted us this morning! Ray had to buy an ice scraper at the gas station just down the street. Oh yeah, Great Smoky Mountain National Park got 12 inches of snow, that really was twelve inches, on Saturday night. There are still roads closed there today!

When we left the motel this morning, we went to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian which was very informative and interesting. We met a Cherokee Elder Jerry Wolfe .

After we left the museum, as we walked around, we saw a number of painted bears.

We walked to the Qualla Arts & Crafts Center. There were some beautiful things but we left them all for others to buy/enjoy.
Next stop was the 1866 Mill. We sampled some apple cider, learned some history, and got some directions. We then hiked to Mingo Falls. First there are a lot of steps to climb, then there is a short level hike, and then all of a sudden as you cross a bridge, there is the falls. Wow! I know I did a double take when I saw it and the lady after me did too!

Next, we went into the National Park to Mingus Mill. The trees were pretty around the mill and the water run was overflowing!

We came back into Cherokee and wandered through many shops near one of the Visitor Centers. Tonight we had dinner at Bushy Mountain Smokehouse and Creamery - our meals were so good and filling that we didn't get to try their homemade ice cream. Now it is time to rest and figure out what is happening tomorrow...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A colorful, cold day!

At 9:09, we got up to SUNSHINE! It was wonderful! What a great birthday gift!

We left our cozy cabin and drove south. As we got close to Tellico Plains, about 9:09, the clouds rolled in . So we have had sometimes sunny skies most of the day. We drove the Cherohala Skyway (Thanks Lori - this was a wonderful idea!). The fall colors were gorgeous.
Beautiful waterfall.

This was taken through the windshield of the car.

With last night's snow and frost at the upper elevations, the scenery was fantastic!

It was afternoon by now.

It got down to 29 degrees with wind...brrr!
Another photo through the windshield.

We never stopped to eat our lunch because it was so cold outside. About 9:09, we found a place in Robbinsville, NC and had a late lunch of hot potato soup - it was so good! We drove north and arrived in Cherokee, NC at 9:09. We plan to stay a couple of nights because there are things to see and do here! By the way, I think my watch battery must have died at 9:09 - maybe I can get that fixed tomorrow.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A cool peaceful day

We decided to not spend a lot of time in the car today so we went to Maryville, TN - about a half hour away. The first stop was Pappy's Quilting Place. The building used to be a gas station and convenience store. We met Pappy, his lady. their cat, and their other cat. They really wanted us to adopt their other cat! Rooster's Quilt Shop south of Maryville closed a couple of weeks ago but someone else is supposed to open it soon. Next stop was Kroger's for a few groceries. Then on the advice of both Pappy's woman and the Kroger clerk, we headed downtown to the The City of Maryville's Foothills Fall Festival. Tickets for the concerts have been sold out since August so we couldn't see Alan Jackson, Sawyer Brown or any of the others but we did see the ArtWay Show - many artists and crafts people, and we enjoyed good food. We saw this Maryville officer on a Police Segway.

This was the largest pumpkin in the county.
There were lots of license plate sculptures.
The weather was very cool - in the 40's, and damp but not raining where we were. Later in the afternoon we rested - this is a very stressful life we lead! We went out to dinner and now are enjoying a roaring fire. Ray is enjoying football games on TV and I am quilting by a fire in a cabin in the mountains. Life is good!

Friday, October 16, 2009

A cool rainy day

Ray just started a fire in the fireplace - it is damp and cold outside! We just heard that we may have freezing rain tonight and 1-3 inches of snow tomorrow night! Ugh!!!!

We went to Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park today. It was a beautiful drive (would have been gorgeous if it hadn't been raining)! The fall colors are so pretty! There were LOTS of people - most of the time it was bumper to bumper traffic! But we still saw a number of deer and turkey. The bears must not like the rain!

When we finished the Cades Cove Tour, we headed for Gatlinburg to drive the 8-mile Arts & Crafts Tour. Eleven years ago it was a real highlight of our time there. Just getting to the beginning of the tour took a long time because of all of the traffic. We stopped right away at the quilt shop, Mountain Stitches by Susan. As the afternoon wore on, we decided to skip the tour - it was much more commercialized than we remember and there were way too many people for us.
When we got back to Townsend, we decided to eat early and then just come home to our Cabin Sweet Cabin. We had dinner at the Back Porch Cafe - it was recommended by the Ranger at the Visitor Center. He said they were known for their cobblers. The soup and the cobbler were both good!
Tonight we are doing laundry (it is so nice to have a washer and dryer in the cabin), having a fire, and making a little popcorn - just a cozy mountain evening on a rainy night!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Going on the back roads

The morning started very cloudy but not raining. After water aerobics and breakfast, we checked out of our motel and headed for the Chickamauga Battlefield in Georgia. Of course, I found a relaxing way to go instead of the interstate...and we got there! By then it was raining, so we went to the Visitor's Center, looked around, and then went on the 7 mile Car Tour. During that hour, I think we got out of the car once but with the rain, it was too muddy and yucky to hike. It was interesting and would be really nice to be there in good weather.

There are many monuments honoring different states and troops.
After leaving the battlefield, we headed for Townsend, TN - "The Peaceful Side of the Smokies". On the way we decided to get off of the interstate and take "the road less traveled". We stopped in Athens, TN for lunch at Buddy's Bar-B-Q - good and cheap! The rain finally stopped and we continued on our back roads with minimal traffic. The trees are changing here and it is pretty even on an overcast day. When we got to Townsend, we found the rental agency, checked in, and then drove about 5 miles to our cabin.

Trinity's Hideaway has everything we need and more - porches, hot tub, fireplace, WiFi, 3 TVs, and a washer and dryer. We are up in the mountains a little and overlook a golf course. Tonight we are just sitting watching TV and listening to the rain. It's a little after 7 - think maybe I'll do a little quilting - it is Thursday night!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A day of waiting ...

We got up to a cloudy day with a rather constant mist/drizzle and temperatures in the 60s. Ray exercised in the indoor pool - water aerobics, he says! Then we had breakfast here at the motel.

We decided to start the day at the Tennessee Aquarium , so I checked the map and decided on a relaxing way to go. When we left the motel, I was still listening to messages from our home answering machine when we left the motel, turned right and Ray asked which way at the corner. I said to go straight. However, we should have turned turn left when we left the motel. So when I checked the GPS (which wanted us on the interstate) we were 9 miles from the Aquarium - hmmm, we started only 5 miles away. When we were 12 miles away, we decided to listen to the GPS and get on I-24. That's when we figured out where we went wrong. So what's the big deal??? An accident on I-24. About 2 minutes after getting on I-24, we were in slow traffic and then in stopped traffic! Evidently a semi rolled blocking all eastbound lanes 2.5 miles ahead of us and then another accident in the same area. We were about 6 miles from our motel exit and another 5 miles from the Aquarium. We spent much of the morning talking to a trucker from Florida and a retired educator from Florida while we waited and waited and waited and Ray took pictures...

We got to the Aquarium about noon so we ate lunch and then started our tour. I am so glad we got to see this - it was really awesome! If you are ever in Chattanooga, GO!
A gator ...
and one of many neat fish ...

We loved the butterflies ...

but my favorite was the penguins. I think I could of watched them for hours - they played follow the leader and they are mighty fast little swimmers!

We decided to order in pizza tonight. Our friendly desk clerk recommended Mr. T's Pizza - we'd recommend it too! Of course it took quite a while to arrive so we just patiently waited!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jack Daniel's Tour

We got up to cloudy skies but it was already 55 degrees. As we were driving south from Murfreesboro toward Chattanooga, we saw a sign advertising Jack Daniel's Distillery tours. We decided that might be interesting so we drove more than 50 miles out of our way. The grounds were gorgeous.

The tour was fascinating - basically, the mash (corn, oats, rye, and water) is made and stored; the fumes are cooled into liquid (bourbon); the liquid is seeped through charcoal (Tennessee whiskey); the whiskey is stored in toasted barrels (Jack Daniel's whiskey). The water that is used is cave water filtered through limestone - it was rather cool back in that cave!

We saw the rickyard where they make the charcoal. We were in buildings watching the whole process but photography was not allowed inside of production buildings - part of the Homeland Security change in their tour procedures a few months ago.
We found the background story very interesting and learned lots of trivia such as Jack Daniel, nee Jasper Newton Daniel, was only 5'2" tall and wore a size 4 shoe! He had a general belief and it appeared in various buildings:
"Every day we make it, we'll make it the best we can"
At the end of the tour, we all got shots of the "Yellow Brand". Moore County is one of 4 dry counties in Tennessee. So even though they can make whiskey there, they can't sell it there! Anyway, their "Yellow Brand" is lemonade and it tasted good! Oh yeah - our picture will be on the Jack Daniels website in a couple of weeks.

Our side trip took about 4 hours but it was fun. We arrive in Chattanooga later in the afternoon. We went downtown for dinner tonight and a visit to Ben and Jerry's for ice cream. There are various brick structures in the River District - the one in front of Ben and Jerry's is this couch. We didn't meet the people sitting there.

We were told that the River District has really grown in the past two years. We will be back there tomorrow to see the Tennessee Aquarium.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A great morning - beautiful weather, quilt shops, a quilt museum, scones ... We called this morning and ordered scones from Flamingo Row - if you wait for them to open, the scones are gone so you order and go get them before the place opens! They (blackberry scones) were soooooo good!

We went to Hancock's of Paducah. It is big and fun to see everything - I bought very little though! Then we went to Eleanor Burns' Quilt in a Day. It was nice to see but we didn't buy a thing! Ray wanted to see Eleanor and have his picture taken with her.

We walked to the Visitor's Center and the river where we saw the Flood Wall Murals - very impressive.

Then we walked to the National Quilt Museum. Some of the quilts were incredible while I really didn't care for others. Some of the hand quilting was really awesome! On our way back to the car, we stopped at Quilter's Alley. Again I didn't buy anything!!! We had a picnic lunch in a park in the middle of the historic district and then headed south. Tonight we are in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. We had dinner at Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q. Good! We just came back from the Stones River Mall - an indoor/outdoor mall.


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