Thank God for that! I really dislike the smell of a cigar, particularly in the morning. I’m not a fan of cigarette smoke either, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to hang in the air like a cigar; or maybe I just notice a cigar more. MW used to think I was kidding when we were driving down the interstate, and I said “Someone up there is smoking a cigar.” Not any more. A couple of weeks back the guy in the site right next to us came out every morning and lit up what smelled like a particularly stinky, cheap one. For three days we were downwind. Yuck! When I was a kid, we would see Uncle Bob Goins (my Grandmother’s uncle) while we were in Brunswick visiting. He was a short, heavy-set man with a gravely voice. The thing I remember about him most was the cigar stub in his mouth. I’m not sure I ever saw it lit (although Mom says that he actually did smoke them), but it was always there. On those occasions when he removed it to talk, you could see that his lip had adapted, making a permanent hole for the ever-present stogie. Now, there is someone in my life that I occasionally travel with and see as often as possible who enjoys a good cigar. He knows who he is, and the fact that I have sat in a cigar bar with him tells him just how much he is loved.
Nothing like starting the post on a side rail, huh?! Back on the main track, on Monday, September 23, we headed for the farm. Well, really, as close to the farm as we could get since we had no hookups there. Along the way we stopped near Bee Rock campground (a USFS facility) on the bridge over the Rockcastle River where the view was beautiful. The campground suffered quite a bit of damage during the floods early this year and is now closed indefinitely. We also traveled through Corbin, stopping for lunch at Shep’s Place downtown. It was a sports bar atmosphere, and the sandwiches were good but nothing extraordinary. On the way out of town, we drove right past the original KFC, Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum. Even though we’ve traveled through Corbin before, I did not remember Harland’s was there. Otherwise we would have given that a shot. We arrived at the Wilderness Road Campground at Cumberland Gap National Park early in the afternoon. We’ve been to this park a couple of times before and always enjoyed it. The campground is beautifully wooded, with sites spaced nicely for privacy. They have 50-amp electric, but no water at the sites although there are spigots on the way in to fill up and at each bathhouse. The facilities are clean and nice, and there are lots of hiking trails, some of which can be used by bikes and horses. There are two backcountry campsites on long trails for those interested in sleeping on the ground, too (definitely not me). After setting up, we relaxed for the evening.
Tuesday we started our day with a nice hike. Well, it was nice until some creature decided to bite me on the ass, literally. Later MW said that it was just a tiny bite mark, but a large swatch itched for DAYS! The trails here are great, but they aren’t blazed. The intersections are all marked with signage, but I really like to be reassured that I’m on the right path. With MW in the lead, though, I rarely pay attention. After cleaning up, we took a ride over to Sneedville to check on the progress. It was coming along, albeit slowly. The outside and interior framing were mostly complete. The HVAC installation and insulation will start soon, and it won’t be long until MW and I can do some work on the apartment upstairs. It is still HOT as blue blazes outside, making it miserable inside that metal building without the insulation up. I always feel for construction workers in the
summer FALL! On the way back to Cumberland Gap we stopped in Tazewell to refill MW’s prescriptions at Walgreen’s, had lunch at the Old Town Grill (always good) and picked up a couple of movies at Red Box.
Wednesday we took a ride up to Big Stone Gap, Virginia. My cousins once lived there, and I wanted to check out the area. The town was larger than I pictured from the movie (Big Stone Gap). The Appalachian Mountains are just beautiful, although I fear that all of this heat will curtail the color this season. On the way back to Petunia we drove through Cave Springs campground outside of Dryden, Virginia. Before heading to this area, we considered trying out this Forest Service campground. Thankfully the website said it was closed, because we would have been screwed. It is VERY remote and wooded, which is nice for us. The sites are laid out nicely, and some have electricity, but no water. The bathhouses were okay, and there was a swimming hole. However, the road is extremely narrow with large drops from pavement to shoulder and several pretty tight turns for anything very long. With the narrow pavement, only a small trailer or motorhome could maneuver without dropping off, and the drop was 10-12 inches on both sides. Honestly, this place would be cool to camp at with the right equipment, though. It is WAAYYY off of the beaten path and very quiet. After checking it all out, we headed back to Petunia for a quiet evening.
Thursday started with another nice hike. Before you ask, yes, my ass was still itching from the previous hike. There was a really long, steep, uphill that tried to get the best of me, but I won! On the way out we passed a field with a lone horse who looked like we were disturbing his morning. When we passed on the way back, he decided we were friends and came to the fence to talk to me. (MW always makes fun because I talk to all of the animals we pass.) By the time we got back and cleaned up, though, I wasn’t feeling great. A UTI was sneaking up on me! We went into Middlesboro, Kentucky, which is just through the tunnel on the other side of the mountain. Interestingly, we found out that the entire town is built in a crater, and if you look at it on a topographical map, it can be easily seen.
A little side note, here: Just as you come out of the tunnel in Kentucky, there are two animal crossing signs. One is a deer running. One is a bear walking. Catching them just right makes it look like the deer is running from the bear. Wouldn’t that freak the drivers out?! Animal crossing signs seem a little ridiculous to me. There is really no place in the country that animals don’t cross the road. In some places there are deer and bear; in others, moose and elk. Everywhere it is skunks, opossums, and squirrels (grey, red, black, and white). In the south, the king of road kill is the armadillo. (I feel certain that, except for in zoo environments, the number of folks who have actually seen an armadillo when it wasn’t on its back with its feet in the air is equal to the number of people who have seen Big Foot.) So, if animals are crossing the road EVERYWHERE, why do we pay money to tell people that animals are crossing the road? When you are driving down a long stretch of highway, why is there no “insert animal here” crossing sign for miles, then suddenly, there they are. Does someone feel that an agreement has been made with that species to cross at that spot. If they cross a mile before the sign, is there some type of citation? If I witness this crossing, is there someone I should call? Seriously, if we are going to put up the signs, why don’t we just say “Animals (Some Large) Crossing” and leave it at that? Because I don’t know about you, but the minute I see a moose crossing or bear crossing sign, I start paying a lot more attention to seeing the moose/bear, which takes away from driving. (Aren’t you glad MW is behind the wheel most of the time?!) End of sidebar.
In searching for the post office, we accidentally found a coal exhibit and a house with coal siding. (Not sure the latter is a good idea given it’s flammable nature, but what do I know.) In this area of the country, coal is king, and these hard-working people fueled America through the Industrial Revolution. After checking out the outdoor exhibit, we headed over to Big Lots for a few supplies, then had a quick lunch at Dairy Queen next door. Next was Food City for groceries, some cranberry juice, and a little AZO to try and flush this stuff out. Then it was back to Petunia. Originally we were planning to leave this campground this morning and go over to the farm where Nick had all of the hookups ready for us. Everything here is full for the weekend, though, and we decided to stay until Monday. That would give us a better chance of finding a spot in the event everything over at the barn didn’t work as planned. That decision meant that we had to unhook everything so that MW could pull Petunia up to refill the fresh water tank and empty the others. About the time we got it all unhooked, it started drizzling. I needed to stay at the site to make sure no one slipped in (it’s first come first served at this campground), so I opened the umbrella and sat in a chair waiting. It didn’t take too long, and it didn’t rain too much, so it all worked out. After we got it all set back up, we settled in for a quiet evening (with a LOT of cranberry juice for me!).
Friday morning my situation was not any better, so it was time for a video doctor’s visit through Amwell. I LOVE this service! You login, fill out a short questionnaire, and after a short wait, are connected to a doctor. I’ve used it twice now, and it is SO easy, especially when traveling (or in our case, relocating and don’t have new doctors yet). A quick, 20-minute trip to Walgreens in Tazewell, Tennessee, had me on the mend. Back at Petunia we had a quiet evening.
Saturday and Sunday we just ran a couple of errands and picked up another movie from Red Box. We scoped out Shelly Belles Restaurant on the Powell River. This place is at the end of a dirt road and a little remote, but the food was definitely good. (We both had ribs, but the catfish seems to be a big seller, too. I had pea salad, which was wonderful.) We don’t recommend going on Sunday, though, because we overheard the table next to us ordering, and they were out of a lot of stuff on the menu. The waitress said it was because they close on Monday and Tuesday, so they clear it all out. It didn’t affect what we ordered, though. One thing they did have that we didn’t try is a cheesecake, layered with deliciousness. There was a large back porch which, if it weren’t 1,000 degrees, would be really nice to sit out on and enjoy the river. (I am REALLY tired of the HEAT! It is almost October, for gosh sakes!). The other big event for Sunday was my fall. I was walking out of the bathhouse. I’m honestly not sure what happened, but suddenly my feet were fighting with themselves, and I went down HARD. The right arm just below the elbow was first to hit, followed by my right hip. Thankfully not too much damage aside from a scrape and bruising, but the latter still looks pretty impressive almost a week later.
Monday finally came. We were excited about heading out, but the first order of business was laundry. I headed up to Middlesboro to the Binghamtown Family Market & Laundromat. This place was crammed with machines and didn’t have too much room to sit, but I did manage to get a little work done nonetheless. Back at Petunia, we put the clothes away and packed it up to head for HOME! The construction crew cleaned out everything under our lean-to and had electric, water, and sewer all ready for us to park on site. Very exciting! On the way down we decided to take well water samples for testing right away, so we just parked Brutus and Petunia and headed to the other side of Knoxville to pick up the sample kit. (Apparently there isn’t anyone nearby that does tests for more than just the basics.) We rushed to get back through the city before rush hour, and detoured through Morristown to pick up a little Akita Express for dinner. (Our builder got us hooked on this place, and I swear they are putting crack in the food to keep you hooked! It is amazing!) Back in Sneedville, we got Petunia all set up for our first night on the farm. Yay!!!
Tuesday we retraced our steps to the other side of Knoxville to drop off the samples MW collected this morning. On the way we popped into Camping World for a couple of vent screens. After the drop-off, we took advantage of the Costco nearby to pick up some supplies. For lunch we popped into Anthony’s Pizza & Subs in New Market, Tennessee, for sandwiches. Then it was on to Lowe’s in Morristown to begin the hunt for apartment cabinets, appliances, etc, without much success. Ugh! By the time we made it back to Petunia, we were both exhausted and didn’t feel like we had accomplished much.
The rest of the week was spent figuring out apartment stuff with a couple of exceptions: 1) Our morning walks on Wednesday and Friday, which stirred up every dog in the valley and a few cows. 2) Supper at the River Place Cafe in Kyles Ford on Thursday afternoon. This is a basic hot dog and hamburger joint, with a daily meat + three special thrown in. It was pork chops, mashed potatoes, and green beans (just like Grandma’s) when we were there. As for the apartment, we found a great deal on a refrigerator and picked out the other appliances. (We won’t order the latter until next month because there will be a big sale.) We also finished a kitchen design, so Home Depot and Countertops and Cabinets in Morristown, Tennessee, are working on cabinet pricing. The flooring is ordered, and I’ve picked the paint color. The crew has installed most of the insulation. The HVAC is working, and all of the plumbing pipes have been installed. Progress, for sure, but we will be happier when they reach the point where we can jump in and lay floors and install cabinets. In the mean time, I’m trying to focus on getting some actual bookkeeping/tax work caught up, as well as this blog.
That’s enough for now. See you on the road!
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