The Beauty Around Us

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VROC Reunion Rally 2015: Getting There – Central City KY to Dyersburg TN

[Please note that this blog post is backdated to September 14; the post was published on October 1.]

 

Today is Day 4 of our 13-day vacation.  We are traveling to Eureka Springs, AR to attend the annual Vulcan Riders and Owners Club (VROC) Reunion rally.  Yesterday, we met up with six VROC friends.  We are riding, as a group, to the rally.

We awakened at 5:15 am, after a good night’s sleep. The eight of us had discussed meeting for breakfast at 8:00 am at the Huddle House located next to the Best Western Plus Venture Inn, our hotel accommodation for the night. That didn’t happen. Everyone ate breakfast at the hotel, which made sense as breakfast was included in our room rate.

We left Central City, KY en route Dyersburg, TN at 9:00 am, after fueling up at a Shell gas station located near the hotel.

20150914_143638448_iOS 4x6En route Shell gas station, at 8:36 am

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While at the Shell gas station, Jim A. and Jim T. consulted a map of today’s planned ride.

_LG18121 4x6I think Katie looks a little bit concerned that Jim A. is helping plan today’s route.
Jim A.’s VROC nickname is “Wrong Turn” 🙂

_LG18124 4x6At 10:19 am, during a rest stop, Jim A. and Jim T. took another look at the map.
Bradley, Tim and Bob look on.

_LG18125 4x6About an hour later, Jim T. made a wrong turn.
The rest of us did not follow him.
We waited a few minutes for Jim T. to catch up with us.

I smile when I think of the few times today that Jim T. raised his hand in the air, making a circle with his finger.  One such U-turn was made on a 4-lane highway!

A highlight of today’s trip was when we drove through the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.  Located in western Tennessee and Kentucky, the Land Between the Lakes is the largest inland peninsula in the U.S.A. Originally created when the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers were impounded (creating Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley),the Land Between the Lakes features over 170,000 acres of forested and protected public land, and over 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline. We stopped at the Golden Pond Visitor Center.  While Jim T.. Bradley, Tim and Dee and Jim A. and Katie watched a 35-minute show in the Golden Pond Planetarium, Bob and I went for a drive through the Elk & Bison Prairie. We saw several bison and some turkeys. There are elk on the prairie as well, but we didn’t see any. We drove the prairie loop two times. On our second trip, bison were on the road. Bob had to slowly weave the car through the herd.

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We made two more scenic stops en route Dyersburg, TN.  From the Golden Pond Visitor Center we drove to Fort Donelson National Battlefield, stopping at the remains of the Great Western Furnace.

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Great Western Furnace

 

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Interpretive Signs Regarding the Great Western Furnace

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_LG18162 4x6Preparing to leave the Great Western Furnace

We began our tour of Fort Donelson National Battlefield at the visitor center, where we watched the orientation film Fort Donelson: Gateway to the Confederate Heartland.  The film centers around a story line that draws on the lifelong friendship between Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Simon B. Buckner.  The film was informative, as well as engaging.  From the visitor center we took a short ride through the battlefield to Fort Donelson.

_LG18164 4x6Bradley at Fort Donelson
He is looking out at Lake Barkley (the historic Cumberland River).

_LG18165 4x6This is what Bradley was looking at.

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This is Jim T. and his son, Bradley.
Jim and Bradley have a wonderful father-son relationship.
This will be Bradley’s first trip to the Eureka Springs Reunion Rally, as it is our first.

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Be sure to continue to read my blog posts about our Eureka Springs vacation.  Bradley will be the recipient of a BIG surprise, while at the Reunion Rally.

We drove 286 miles today. To the best of my recollection this is the route that we followed today:

We arrived at the Hampton Inn Dyersburg at 6:45 pm. We checked in and went to dinner at Applebee’s, located near the hotel. We had a party of 15 for dinner. We met up with Jason and his girlfriend Traci, Toby, Bill and Carolyn and Butch and Theresa. We now have riders from Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Kentucky.  All 15 of us (8 motorcycles, one car and one truck) will be riding together to the VROC Reunion Rally in Eureka Springs tomorrow.

North Carolina Vacation – Day 5 of 9

It has been two weeks since I last blogged about our North Carolina vacation, which happened in May.  You might recall that we planned to spend 3 nights (May 12-15) in Asheville and leave for Maggie Valley on the morning of Thursday, May 15th.  We changed our minds about staying 3 nights in Asheville. The weather forecast for Wednesday night and throughout the day Thursday called for rain and thunderstorms. The chance for precipitation was 100%. To avoid riding / driving in the rain we decided to depart Asheville Wednesday afternoon, rather than on Thursday morning, and arrive in Maggie Valley a day early.  I am so glad that we decided to arrive in Maggie Valley on Wednesday afternoon, rather than on Thursday morning. Bob would have gotten wet, and it would have been a chilly ride.  I want to remind you, too, what brought us to Maggie Valley.  We traveled to Maggie Valley to attend the South East Vulcan Riders and Owners Club (SEVROC) motorcycle rally.

We began the fifth day (May 15) of our 9-day vacation in North Carolina at Country Vittles, where we ate breakfast with 10 other VROCers.  Bob ordered a three-egg omelet with toast and potatoes. I ordered two scrambled eggs, toast, bacon and potatoes. Breakfast was good, and the conversation lively.

After breakfast, Bob and I went on a drive to Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  My blogging friend Betsy, of Joyful Reflections, suggested that we visit this valley.  If you type “Cataloochee” in the Joyful Reflections “Search this Blog” box, you will find many references to the Cataloochee Valley in Betsy’s blog.

According to the National Park Service website, “Cataloochee Valley is nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States. Surrounded by 6000-foot peaks, this isolated valley was one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some 1,200 people lived in this lovely mountain valley in 1910. Most made their living by farming, including commercial apple growing, but an early tourism industry developed in Cataloochee with some families boarding fishermen and other tourists who wished to vacation in the mountains.”  The drive to Cataloochee Valley was a bit hair raising, especially the entrance road.  The entrance road to the valley is a winding, gravel road with steep drop offs and no guard rails. We lucked out, as it did not rain while we were on our Cataloochee Valley trip.

Our first stop was at the Cataloochee Overlook.  This overlook provides beautiful vistas over the Big Cataloochee and Little Cataloochee Valleys and to the mountains beyond.

Cataloochee Overlook

Cataloochee Overlook

Cataloochee Overlook

 

Once we reached the valley floor, we drove to several historic frame buildings.

 

Palmer Chapel

Palmer Chapel was the only church in Big Cataloochee.  This church was built in 1898.  Church services were held once a month, on Sunday.  Services consisted of prayers, singing and sermons.  The sermons were delivered by circuit riding ministers from the Western North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Beech Grove School

Beech Grove School

There were three schools in the Cataloochee Valley.  Big Cataloochee’s Beech Grove School is the only one of the three that remains.  It was built in 1901 and replaced an older log building.

Inside Beech Grove School

Inside Beech Grove School

 

Caldwell House
(This photo was taken by Bob.)

Hiram Caldwell and his family lived in this stylish frame house.  The Caldwell House was completed in 1906.  The shingled gables reflected the popular Eastlake house style of the day.

We had to cross a creek to go to the Caldwell House.
(Bob took this picture.)

We walked on a wooden boardwalk across the swampy ground.

There were stone steps that led to the front porch.

The Caldwell House had interior paneling.

We walked upstairs.

This was one of the large upstairs rooms.

We walked downstairs.

 

We saw some wildlife, namely one turkey and elk, while in Cataloochee Valley.

Cataloochee Turkey

We saw 4 or 5 elk; however, I was able to photograph only one.

 

One last photograph of Cataloochee Valley

 

We returned to our hotel in the early afternoon. We spent 2-3 hours hanging out with VROC friends. Around 5:00 pm Bob and I drove to Waynesville. We picked up a few groceries at Food Lion and ate dinner at the Sagebrush Steakhouse. The restaurant was a good choice. Bob said the steak he ordered (ribeye) was the best he had in a while. My sirloin steak was very good as well. Accompanying Bob’s steak was a salad and broccoli. I had a loaded baked potato and cinnamon apples with my steak. Cheddar cheese biscuits, reminiscent of those served at Red Lobster, were provided as part of our meals.

A must-have feature at every VROC motorcycle rally that we have attended is a campfire.

Hanging out at A Holiday Motel

It was a chilly, wet night around the campfire. The weather, however, didn’t stop us from spending an enjoyable evening with friends.

The Two T’s

Bob took off work Monday and Tuesday. I planned Monday’s activities; Bob was in charge of Tuesday’s activities. As one would expect, Monday was filled with photographic opportunities. I am sharing the fruit of those photographic opportunities with you throughout this week.

We departed home (Warren, PA) around 9:00 am. We didn’t return home until 9 hours later! We drove through several western Pennsylvania counties. Our first stop was in Clarion, PA.  Our second stop was at Brady’s Bend Overlook and East Brady.  Our third stop was in Parker.  We made a few photo stops while on the road between Parker and Cranberry.  We ate lunch at Bob Evans Restaurant, while in Cranberry.  After lunch, we drove to the Kennerdell Scenic Overlook.  From Kennerdell we drove to Oil City.  After leaving Oil City, we made two more stops along the Allegheny River — at Tionesta and Tidoute — before returning home.

This was our route back home from Oil City.

 

 

Tionesta Boat Access Area

Allegheny River, as viewed from Trek and Rec Trail
Tidioute, PA

We departed Route 62 in Tidioute, choosing to return home via Route 337.  We saw three deer and a few turkeys, while on this route.

Deer

Turkeys in a Field
You can see in the snow where the turkeys had been scratching.

This blog post concludes Monday’s activities.

Bob had Tuesday off work as well.  Bob was in charge of planning Tuesday’s activities.  On Tuesday morning Bob watched our granddaughters at their house for a short time, while Stacey ran to the store to pick up a few groceries.   Throughout the afternoon and evening we watched a variety of shows on TV.  Tuesday was mainly a lazy day.  It is good to have one of those types of days every now and then!

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