Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Visiting Tennessee

Traveling through North Carolina on our way to Tennessee.

We noticed along our drives in the Southeast that many of the trees were infested with bagworms. Due to a warmer winter and wet spring the bagworms have been very plentiful.  Sadly, many of these trees will eventually die as the infestations will increase.  The only natural thing that stops the bagworms is a very cold winter.   

Going through a tunnel under one of the many mountains in North Carolina.

It's amazing to me that tunnels can be built through the middle of mountains and not collapse under the weight.

Our first stop was in Knoxville. 

Downtown Knoxville has a wonderful park area created from the 1982 World's Fair.

The Veteran's Memorial to the servicemen of Tennessee.

This is called the Sunsphere and it is the only remaining structure left in the park from the 1982 World's Fair.

In the distance is The Tennessean, a new luxury hotel overlooking the park.

The park also has an outdoor stadium for entertainment.

The water from the wading pools in the park flows into a gentle stream.

The Captain took some great aerial shots from the top of the Sunsphere while I waited below with the pups.

The city in the distance.  Knoxville is also the home of the University of Tennessee so we saw many students in the area.  

It started to rain so we made a stop at the Blue Slip Winery for a taste and lunch.  I was checking out some of the antiques while we had our tasting. 

This old motorcycle is called the Whizzer.  A 5 cent gallon of gas could take you 125 miles. Built in 1948,  it had a  "2 1/2 rugged horsepower and a 4 cycle auto-type engine built for dependability."   This snazzy machine retailed for $97.55 plus tax.

The winery was in the old train station building.  The dining room had a brick wall that was closed up when the building was remodeled.  If you look at the wall around the black door you can see the old arch. 

Dealing with one of the rainy days in Knoxville, I volunteered to walk the dogs since I had these fancy rubber boots.  The boots came from Alaska when our daughter, Lynn, and family went on an excursion that involved a lot of water.  Since she couldn't fit them into her suitcase for the trip home we carried them and had them in our rig to return to her.  Really came in handy and I think I look rather stylish! 

One of the joys of RVing is making new friends.  While at the park a couple came in for the night and we met them as we were walking by with our two dogs.  They stopped to talk and we saw they had a beautiful white Golden Retriever looking out at us from the front window of their RV.  All of us being dog lovers, a conversation started that wound up in our rig over a few glasses of wine!

This is Ann and Greg Martin.  Greg is a retired executive and Ann, a retired teacher.  They live in McCormick, SC, which is only about two hours from our home.  Ann is involved in a local rescue that saves unwanted dogs and ships them to no-kill shelters in New Jersey. Needless to say, we had a lot in common and a lot to talk about.  We definitely are planning on getting together again in the near future. 

The next morning we bid farewell to Ann and Greg  and headed out to Norris State Park.  The weather had cleared up and it was becoming a beautiful day.  The park we went to used to be the Clinch River which caused a great deal of flooding in the area.  Norris Dam was the first project built by the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) in 1933 during the Great Depression to control flooding and bring electricity and economic development to the Tennessee Valley.  It became a model for two dozen other TVA dams in subsequent decades.  The park was named for Nebraska Senator George Norris who lobbied intensively for the creation of the TVA in the early 30's.

Norris Lake with the dam in the distance.

The edge of the lake was reddish colored from the leeching of the rock.
The marina had lot of boats including houseboats on the left.

On our hike we could see a houseboat nestled in a small bay near the end of the lake.

We hiked out onto a peninsula that was rocky but the pups sure enjoyed it.

While staying at our RV park we heard about a place called McCloud Mountain Restaurant and Lodge which was supposed to have spectacular views of the Cumberland Valley so we decided to go there for dinner.  The captain made reservations to make sure we could get in.  It was a 45 minute drive from the RV park but we decided it would be fun to see.  The day of the dinner the restaurant even called us to confirm our reservations.  Wow, this is fancier than we thought.

Most of the drive was on the interstate where we got to see the wonderful mountain views.

When we reached the turn off to the restaurant our GPS said we still had over two miles to go.  As we approached the drive going up we were met by a guard checking our name to make sure we had reservations.  We found out that McCloud Mountain is a private resort.  Reservations at the restaurant or lodge are required for admittance to the property.

The guard told us to drive very slowly and carefully.  This is the first sign we saw as we headed up the road to the restaurant.  He wasn't kidding.

The drive up to the restaurant was very twisty and curvy with no guard rails or shoulder on a very narrow road.  We were surprised that people would build luxurious homes up here when the weather in the winter could be very treacherous.  And even if you were retired, you need to get down the mountain for necessities.  We did notice a helipad two-thirds of the way up.  That is to enable visitors to fly rather than drive.  I also wonder if it can be used for medical emergencies?

Arriving at the top of the mountain, the restaurant is on the left with lodges on the right.

The 1,300 acre mountain was purchased by Jim McCloud in 1953 and he began sightseeing tours of the mountain overlooks, natural bridges, waterfalls, and rock formations.  In 1991, a group of investors purchased the land from McCloud's daughter and began developing the property.

The restaurant was rustic, the service average, and the food okay.  I noticed the servers were in blue jeans and most were chewing gum.  Ours was friendly but not overly attentive even though the restaurant was mostly empty.  What brings everyone here is the view.

Views of the Cumberland Valley from the restaurant.

To the left of the restaurant was an older home with a screened in porch cantilevered over the mountain.

A lovely place for a sunrise or sunset.

A door from the restaurant led outside to a series of skywalks where you could take pictures. The large cross is lighted and each night it shines out over the valley.

Two homes overlooking the valley can be seen from the skydeck.

The restaurant is open from late March until Thanksgiving, weather permitting. I wondered how the residents handled the two mile drive up and down the mountain in the winter so I asked our server.  She said they parked their vehicles at the bottom of the mountain and used four-wheelers to go up and down.  Makes sense to me.  It was a beautiful place but I wouldn't want to live there.

The morning we were preparing to leave the RV park our tire pressure monitor inside the rig started to beep.  One of our RV tires had low pressure.  Brett got out the compressor and filled the tire up and saw after a few minutes it was losing air again so he called Coachnet to get a service person out.

Our Lulu lifted up while the tire was removed.

The tire in question had a nail stuck in it.  These are new tires we bought two years ago and they all have a lot of tread left on them and should be good for several more years.  But a nail in the wrong place is bad news.  This nail was on the outer edge so the whole tire had to be replaced.  Bummer!
Our serviceman was very skilled and brought a replacement tire with him.  He had the old tire off and the new tire on in less than an hour.

Lulu all set and ready to move on to another adventure.

Lucy, our princess, in one of her Madonna moments.  Life is good!

That's it from Knoxville, folks.  Had a great time and it is a beautiful city.  On to our next stop in Bristol, TN.  Peace!

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