Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eddyville, KY 2000 Feb 11

We leave Sikeston, MO at about 11AM after putting the finishing touches on a letter to be sent to some people. It is basically a synopsis of what we’ve been doing the last 4 months. We’ve been sending bits & pieces e-mail and what not, this way I think we’ve gotten caught up on our escapades with all of our peoples.

It’s nice seeing Chuck & Marsha Mullinex again in Eddyville, Ky. As we are catching up on our news a strange vehicle comes into the yard. Lo & behold it’s their son Chuck, and his friend Merle from Peotone, Ill.. A pleasant surprise, we haven’t seen him in about 25 years, when he was a young teenager.

For us being here in Eddyville, KY. it is just like being on a fine vacation someplace. Their home is on a point of land on one of the rivers (lake) that go into Kentucky Lake. At their front door is a fisherman's paradise with crappie, large & smallmouth bass, stripers, striped bass , blue and channel cat-fish and who else knows what. Chuck fishes only for crappie and catfish. He catches the catfish by “jug fishing”. He took me once and I’ll try to describe how it’s done. Nowadays instead of jug for markers they use oblong pieces of Styrofoam with various lengths of line in the 3 to 12 ft lengths with a weighted hook and a bait made out of heaven knows what, evidently the smellier the better. As you bait the hook you throw the jug overboard and let the wind and current take care of the rest. Usually it’s not long before on of the jugs starts “bobbing “ around. Now this is about as stressful of a type of fishing as you can get. Sometimes you don’t even get a chance to rest before you’ve got to troll over and pick up another jug. I think we were out about 1 1/2 hours and got 11 cats about 18 to 24 in. in length. It’s a rough life but somebody has to do it.

WOW!!! Chuck’s son &  friend come in with a huge bass (to me) 6 lbs. 10 oz. Took a lot of pictures and then let it go.

Rain, rain,rain go away that’s all it’s done since we’ve been here. It sure is getting green though and I see a few of the early trees are starting to bud out and I’m getting anxious to move on and see if I’m able to do what Jeff wants me to do in North Carolina. Time will tell I guess.

Today Sally & Marsha took Amy to get her groomed in Princeton, KY and the weather is beautiful. About 65 degrees and the sun shining. My ears were clear for a couple of days so I made some phone calls to the kids & etc. Today they’re back to what I guess I’ll have to call normal anymore. Such loud ringing & rushing sounds. Sometimes so loud it wakes me up from a sound sleep. If I put my finger in my right ear it sounds like a beeper going off. So weird and so depressing at the same time. I like just being in solitude with no radio or TV on. Noise of any kind really hurts my ears. To me it is really nice. That sure goes against Sally’s train of thought. She says, “It’s just your imagination”. Next time she stubs her toe or something guess what I’m going to tell her?

Today April 3rd is my birthday. I had forgotten about it until Chuck mentioned it in the car going to Paducah. He checked out a new Dodge Caravan and I checked out the PT- Cruisers, didn’t have one the right color. I hadn’t been in a pawnshop in years so we checked them out. He found a come-a-long for $5.00 and I found a shotgun for $1200.00. He did tell me he didn’t believe in birthday presents anymore. Thursday morning I go fishing with Chuck. I’ve never fished for crappies and I don’t even land a keeper. He lands 5 about 15in. long, mine are all under 10in. , but I have fun landing bass, stripers & herri ng. By 9 AM we’re in and getting ready to go to Union, TN. to Dixie Gun Works, they make all kinds of blackpowder firearms and have a huge collection of Civil War items which to me is very interesting and somewhat expensive, for me, as I’m not an avid collector and we don’t have anyplace to put something. We spend a couple of hours looking and drooling and Chuck lets a man look over a couple muskets he’s picked up in the last couple of years. He gets very good news and happily puts them back in the trunk of his car. We head north towards “Land Between The Lakes”. A large piece of land between Kentucky and Barkley Lakes overseen by The National Park System, TVA and Corps of Engineers. It must be about 40 miles long and 2 to 9 miles wide. We turn off the main route and go towards the Elk & Bison range there is a $3.00 charge per car but well worth it. They have a large number of buffalo and about 50 elk. The buffalo are having their calves and we saw several just a few hours old. The women really liked the little ones. The park it self has 2 interior lakes and many campground and picnic areas. A farm where everything is early 1800’s and knowledgeable staff. A great place for a family or just one person. Everybody should see it!

Friday, April 6, 2001 - -9 AM. amongst the tears we leave Chuck & Marsha Mullenix’s lovely home. This afternoon she’s leaving for Colorado to see her son’s widow and grandchildren. Chuck is staying home, he just doesn’t go anyplace, he loves the place and I guess is sort of anti-social but his home and his church he loves with his whole being. We stop at camping world in Nashville, TN. to see about getting our canopy fixed. A gust of wind in Matador, TX. put a nice rip in it. We have the wrong brand for them. So we continue on “sloowwwly”. We get all the way to Lebanon, maybe 15 miles and pull into a Happy Camper Campground. I think this is a mistake. If there is anything Sally likes it’s Nascar “Winston Cup” racing. Tomorrow is open house at the NEW Nashville track it is a new “Superspeedway” just 8 miles down the road. The Sat before Easter is a “ARCO” race and Kenny Schrader is at the campground. His trailer is here but, he is in Martinsville for this weeks race. So NOW we have to go to the open house. The track is huge! 3 race tracks all viewable from the grandstands and they’re already building a “dragstrip”. Tickets for the truck race are in the $35.00 to $55.00 range. With season tickets available in the $900.00 area. I guess it’s all in your priorities. Sally was overwhelmed with the size of the complex and said “I’ll watch the races on TV.

Lebanon, TN. is an interesting southern town. We have time to kill so we go downtown. We try to absorb the heritage and marvel at the statue in town erected to the Confederacy and all the southern gentlemen who have fought in all wars. The style of the huge homes are as varied as the floor plans in them. The upkeep must be atrocious and many of the old homes are occupied by companies large & small.

We leave Lebanon and go just east of Knoxville to a KOA Campground. So that I can contact a man about metal detectors. While waiting we go south into Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and “DOLLYWOOD”. Sally is all agog over everything. All I can see is a wall of humanity shoulder to shoulder and refuse to stop and join the throngs of “springbreakers”.

Next morning I purchase a metal detector and we leave for Waynesville, NC. . The mountainsides are bursting forth in a profusion of colors as the Wild Cherry, Red Bud, Daffodils, Mountain Laurel & Dogwood are all fighting for their flowers to be seen. To me this is even better than apple pie. With the trees still in the “bud stage” there isn’t any leaves to block the view of the steep mountain sides. And we have a chance to see some wildlife and rock formations which always amaze me. Also the no-how of man as he places houses on precipices that seem to defy balance and at a financial cost that again we can’t understand. At least they don’t have any lawn to mow.

We check into a nice campground, at Waynesville, NC., with a fishpond (no fish, an otter got in and ate them) and a nice stream. Sally gives Shannon a phone call and she’s here in record time. She bubbling with news of her upcoming wedding. Soon Shannon leaves and then Sally tells me, as if I didn’t know, SHE’S NOT ORGANIZED!! All she knows is, she wants to get married and hasn’t even got a list made. The invitations should be in the mail etc., etc. However things seem to be going well and we get a chance to meet her “fella”. Not too bad of a guy who seems to take great delight in making sure the children know their manners. Not only that but he’s a born again Christian. Had them all over for dinner and had a great time.

Tomorrow we pull up stakes and move on to Cherokee, NC. We’re going to stay at the Happy Holidays Campground right in the middle of the Cherokee Reservation. It’s going to be a surprise for Shannon as she and her future in-laws will be there also. Now we should all be able to spend Easter together, church and all.

On the way to Cherokee, we notice the buds have turned to leaves and a new color dances on the hills. We stop at MOONSHINE CREEK CAMPGROUND at Balsam, NC.

We’d gotten e-mail last night from “Workamper” that Moonshine needed help for the coming season. We’d made an noonish appointment and it was 11:30. Real good timing for us. As we turned into their drive Sally said “it’s beautiful!”. She was right.

Located about 1 mile off the super highway. The campground is just like the older pictures you see of moonshine stills and also the TV series “Christy” and “The Waltons”. As we move up the curving drive we’re a few feet above the creek and rising. On the left, across the creek on the lower side were a few quaint tent sites. Near the parking area is a replica of copper tanks and the plumbing of a non working still. As we approached the camp store &  office we could see they’re built of “weathered” rough-cut lumber built into the side of the hill, with a full length front porch, complete with rocking chairs. The same decor is inside (General store, atmosphere). Up the drive in this narrow valley are sites for RV’s, while up still further on the side are rental cabins. and still further up the side is a train track(train name). The owner-developer has taken great pains to keep the natural look and yet have all the modern conveniences. I’d would never have thought they could pack so much into such a small valley. Needless to say I like the place also. We’re not hired right on the spot as they’ve got another couple to talk to.. I have got to talk to my nephew and see what I’m supposed to do and how many days a week. If we work at Moonshine it’ll be only 2 days per week but, we don’t know how far it’ll be for driving purposes for me yet. Decisions, decisions.

Soon we reach the town of Cherokee and the Happy Holiday Campground and set up with a view of the river out of our picture window and waiting for Easter.

Shannon is surprised and we all have a good time and see the sights, fish a little and the women go to the casino, I think to make the Indians happy. It rains everyday in the morning and then clears up about noon. Not too bad but the locals are all cold. The Cherokees seem to have a thriving business in this area and people come from all over the world. Their season doesn’t start until Memorial Day but, they’re quite busy already.

Monday we pack up and leave for Murphy, NC. about an hour down the road. We setup in Murphy at a little campground at it’s annex. He won’t rent to us for a month at a time. His $400.00 plus, per month, plus electric, is to expensive. We take a week at $50.00, till we can find a new camp.

Bad news today, the woman at Moonshine Creek had previous a employee couple call up and she gave them the job. We drive all the way to Franklin and don’t find a camp that will hold us. But, we did discover that at the highest elevations the trees are just starting to bud out.

Jeff, Tina and the kids show up and we have a nice visit and make an appointment in the AM for Jeff to show me what’s going to go on. In the morn Jeff drives me around and talks & shows me his hopes and dreams. Of course I’ve reservations and until he can get this going we’ve got to have something to do.We also stop by his Grandma Pickett’s house, she lives in the same place her folks lived. I haven’t seen her in about 25 years. She really hasn’t changed and I’d recognized her anyplace. Sally has also driven in and we all visit for awhile.

The next day we have lunch with Jeff & family then go our separate ways. We’ve got to find a place for our RV and that gives us an excuse to drive around and see the sights. We head south & east and discover we’re only a few miles out of GA. & TN. As we head towards Hiawassee, GA. It has a reservoir so we figure there has to be campgrounds in the area. A large lake looms on the horizon and so do a few campgrounds. We check out a couple and they’re overnighters with not much to offer other than high prices and dust. By not having the trailer with us we’re able to turn off quickly and/or turn around and inspect the camps. We see a sign that advertises Gospel sings and some Country Western specials at their Music Hall. It is the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds and it’s main sponsor is the County and The Lion’s Club. It is unlike any fair I’ve ever been to. It is a music and handicraft fair. There is about a 150 little log style permanent booths set up. By the looks of the signage some are used by the same people season after season. We drive through the parking area and see a sign for campers only. We’re amazed! A beautiful place right on the lakes edge, with campsites and picnic tables. There must be about a 100 sites all tastefully laid out so that you can either be on the water or on a hillside overlooking Lake Chatuge. We check in at the office and find out there is no limit how long you stay and the price is less than where were at now. We drive around and try to pick out a spot, which is quite difficult when there are so many. Our decision made we go back to the office to get the bad news, it seems these places are spoken for a year in advance. We ask if there is any thing open and they give us our choice of 2 for 1 month. WE TAKE ONE! Sally is quite excited as there appear to be something for her to do. I suggest fishing, but it seems there is a Rhododendron Festival May 18th & 25th with church services and gospel music on Sundays and Don Williams and Neal McCoy on Sat the 26th. She has a handful of pamphlets describing other events all summer long until the 15th of Oct. All with such acts as Avalon & 4 Him- -Paul Revere and the Raiders- -Herman’s Hermits, such a varied group of entertainment it should appease the music appetite of most people. I also suggest that maybe we might be able to work at some of the events.

THE BIG CHANGE - -April 20, 2000 - - As I sit here alone (Sally’s at Wal-Mart) I think back on how this all got started.

Our life changed drastically the day that Greg died. If any one person ever held a family together it was him. I look back and see how he was the go-between for some members of the family. His smooth actions and words, his optimistic outlook on life, his love of God and family in that order, is a standard for us all to live by. Life would never be the same, the pots of goulash and/or macaroni & cheese that use to tell me Greg was on the way would never again be the same. The let down of some of our so-called friends and finding out who your real friends are, will forever be instilled in my memory. The first Christmas after his death, and not even one of the kids showed up. A complete meal getting cold. Of bitter disappointment not understanding what was going on, what we’d done to deserve it. We made a vow to never set at home on Christmas again. How my dream of going down the Mississippi on a houseboat seemed to be ever closer yet farther away. Maybe things would work out after all. Lisa had found a good man and she sure didn’t need us as much as mom needed her. Sally’s stroke, very minor and very lucky. Selling the towing business. My Meniere’s Syndrome which ended my work at Herin Bros., a job, that I really enjoyed and fine people to work for, that let me see some of the country that I wanted and made me feel useful to some extent. Finding “Workampers” on the net and going to work at Sleepy Bear at Empire, selling the house and all that we owned, all of our past hopes and dreams GONE, at the sound of an auctioneers gavel. A new life that is exciting and as different as night and day. New people we have met maybe just a for a fleeting moment, or a week or two. Old friends we’ve gotten in touch with after so many years or just a few weeks. So many different experiences that it would fill a book, which I seem to be doing. So many climates, from 9 below zero to almost a hundred in a few short weeks. Of being in the mountains and the desert, of being by the oceans and the plains. Of not living a structured life. NO set schedule means you can waste a lot of time if you don’t watch out. Of the moments like right now when it would be nice to run over to see the kids or the neighbors but, you know what? A phone call usually takes care of that. It’s almost as good as being there and there is so MUCH to see and do. ENOUGH REMINISCING ! I’ve done enough of that to last another 6 months.


April 20th 2000, PM. Another CHANGE. Well we went for a drive looking for campground. One had to be closer than Hiawassee. We took old route 64 into downtown Brasstown, NC.. Believe it or not there is a postoffice. We stopped at a selection of “Artist & Handicraft Shops” to see if they knew of any RV parks. After much discussion it was decided that “Chris” might have a lot for rent. We talk to him and sure enough he did. We drove up to the “Holler and took a look.” We think we can get the RV up the driveway

April 22-2000
Sometimes we don’t know if we’re coming or going. We’d had our minds made up and a lot already paid for ,at Hiawassee for a month, instead of that, were going to be at Brasstown, NC. for 2 months. About 10 miles from town and about 1/2 the rent. We’re going to be in a holler just like the Coal Miner’s Daughter was raised in. There will be nobody driving in or out without our neighbor Medford Green knowing about it. He says, “ we don’t lock doors around here, if anything’s missing it was family that took it. WE DON’T HAVE NO TROUBLE!”. I immediately liked the man.

I hope we’re going to like it there. When you drive up Jenkins Lane and turn on Dog Leg you are going back a few years, in a hurry. The housing is relatively new but the clan is the same Mom & Dad live at the top of the hill, above where he was born and 1 son lives a little farther down and a daughter lives just a little further down, the other son moved about 5 miles away and dad still doesn’t understand why. Just before we get to the daughter’s house we turn left go up a steep drive take the middle drive AND it looks like the bottom drops out of for a second. Then down the hill and you’re there into a grassy little glade with a storage building. We can look down the hill and see the road into the place and the other houses and the goats that Medford has to help keep his hillside clean. Our dog Amy thinks they’re something to chase. Can’t wait till one bunts her. Just like a picture out of the TV series “Christy”. Why, they say you can even get telephone!

April 23 - We’re here at “Green Holler” (for lack of a better name) the old Ford was scratching to make it up over top. It was nice, Sally never said a word all the way up. The owner, Chris Andrus, stopped by to make sure everything was okay. It took about an hour and had everything all set-up, even the satellite.

It seems Chris is a folk-singer/song-writer, land baron and we have landed right in the middle of REAL bluegrass and folk music. We’re only a mile from the John C. Campbell Folk College, a modern, very active school teaching all kinds of of music, dancing & singing also free music and/or dancing every Fri night. Downtown Brasstown has a Citgo station, convenience store. In the back room they have folk music jam sessions. The other 5 or 6 businesses are what I call tourist traps, all run by artist types. Right through the middle of town is a trout stream. I feel like I’ve found the place Jerry Heckman has been looking for. Fishing and music all within a few yards of one another. No snow to plow We won’t have to go to Prairieville and /or Nirvana. Downtown Murphy is having a banjo jubilee on the city square May 5th. Over at Hiawassee they’re having all of their shindigs going on all summer. And 10 miles north of us they have a LARGE flea market every weekend. It is one of the nicest I’ve been in. They have a nice selection of horse drawn sleighs, wooden & canvas canoes, old wooden speedboats, fresh produce, hunting & fishing items, they have a beautiful horse drawn hearse complete with casket, puppies of all kinds and of course a few things for women. I can actually spend about 3 hours there before I get a headache (family joke).

Well I got my fishing license ($40.00) for a year which includes trout stamp. Now all I’ve got to do is figure out how to climb up and down the rock walls

Today we ordered a phone and it’s suppose to be installed Wed. I’ve been a little slow on the e-mail as we’ve got to go into Murphy at the library, they’re nice enough and usually don’t have to wait, but they have their business hours and they don’t always coincide with mine. Yesterday’s mail told us that Elaine Watson’s mother passed away and that evidently Bob Thomas has had a stroke. That, Sandy Daily went to a better place. Last week it told us that Gordy Ruhl’s sister Jerry had passed away. There wasn’t even any sassy pictures from The Balcom Family. Mark usually has some kind of nonsense to send. His girls have the longest tongues! Must be from the Balcom side. My mother said “ I finally pushed the right button and got the e-mail to her, not just, blank space.

We haven’t heard from my friend Helmuth. Went to school with him and hadn’t heard from him until I started messing around with classmates.com . He became a MD and practiced all over the world. His wife died in 1988 of cancer. He now has complete kidney failure and cancer of some type. The last he told me was that the neurosurgeon and oncologist decided to just keep him comfortable. He has been in contact with a naturalist friend and says he can give him a more comfortable life. He lives in Berrien Springs, Mi. Please add him to your prayer lists.

I believe that Dan Herin has open heart surgery today.

Dan Revoir “The Miracle Man” is making a good recovery from his episode of playing “SUPERMAN “ off of his kid’s roof. It’s been a long year hasn’t it, Dan? I did tell Dan that he is supposed to keep his eyes on God and his rearend on the ground. For a man that has had several “near death” experiences, it seems like he’d know better by now, “My sister Karen is thinking of moving back to Lima, Ohio. Evidently when you live in Minneapolis, Lima is far enough south.

If anybody can tell us about Bob Mack and how he’s doing, it would be appreciated.

This morning waking up in “Medford Holler” was nice. In between the ringing in my ears I can hear and see the birds doing their thing in all the trees around us. Sally made some hummingbird nectar and they should also be happier now.

You know you keep hearing about endangered species and how they might or have become extinct. When I was a child 60 some years ago there were a few bluebirds and today it appears that they’ve made a nice comeback. There are several Bluebird houses here and they’re very active. Whoever is responsible, Thank you.

Please pass this on to anybody you might think will enjoy it.

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