Monday, August 14, 2017

Family, Friends, LKN, GFM

We moved from Tennessee to North Carolina parking Opus at Ver El RV Park near the Charlotte Motor Speedway for two week. We only stayed in the rig for half the time we were there. The rest of the time we stayed at Rick and Denise's place on Lake Norman in Mooresville.  
This was our view of Lake Norman (LKN) from Rick and Denise's place. That is their boat at the dock, just one of many water toys available to us. 
Captain Rick and First Mate Denise on New Perspective. We got to spend a lot of time on and in the water. 
The geese have figured out how to get over the fence so Denise has become a goose herder.
The first weekend we were there Michelle and Kieth drove down from Maryland for some fun in the sun. Their first day there we headed out on the water to breakfast at a local marina. 
Dinner on the patio with our great hosts.
They both mastered the paddle-boards but, as you can see, Keith seemed to have a harder time staying upright. And, I do have to tell you, Keith reported that Michelle paddled into a neighbor's dock and ended up in the water.
If you get tired of human powered toys the jet-ski is the way to go. 
Betty's grandson Dylan and his wife Samantha, who live in Mooresville, came over on Saturday to spend some time on the water.
The beautiful Scott sisters on the beach.
Rick and Dylan pulled Samantha on the tube and, despite their best efforts, they were not able to dump her.
Another day and another restaurant on the water for dinner. We were out late and came back after dark, an eerie but fun experience on a lake this big.
Michelle and Keith did some goose herding on the water in the kayaks. We had a great time spending time with Michelle, Keith, Dylan, Samantha, Rick and Denise. We played hard and enjoyed several excellent meals both on the patio and at local waterfront eateries.
On our second weekend Pedro and Samantha drove down from Pittsburgh for an escape weekend.
We found this neat little restaurant tucked away in a small cove. This means we had a Lake Norman trifecta; boating to breakfast, lunch and dinner on the water, very cool.
We did a day trip to Grandfather Mountain (GFM) high in the Appalachian Mountains. Part of the exhibit is animal habitats for native species.  Here are a couple playful otters.
We got a great look at the mountain lion, but the bears were not out and I did not get a good picture of the eagle. They are going to be adding elk to the habitat.
One of the main attractions is the mile high swinging bridge. As you can see it was much cooler at this elevation than it was on Lake Norman almost 5,000 feet lower.
On the other side of the bridge you can get to the edge of the mountain. Here are Samantha and Pedro living on the edge. This is the first time we have been to Grandfather Mountain and it is a beautiful place well worth a trip into the mountains.
If you ever get Rick's name in a grab bag or just want to get him a little gift we would recommend a package of cocktail napkins. Those with funny or provocative saying would be best. Rick loves picking napkins that he feels are a good match for his guest.
Nanc and Rick serving up some of his famous margaritas. 
Rick and Denise got out on the boards. We also used all the water toys but only got pictures of others having fun.
Rick and Denise heading out on the jet ski. We had a great two week visit at their place and it was wonderful getting to spend time with friends and family at such a beautiful spot.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Manhattan Project National Historical Park

We moved from Nashville to the Escapees RV park in Heiskell, TN for a week because they allow you to wash your rig. Most parks don't allow this so Opus has not had a good bath since last November when we were in Mesa. We took four days first scrubbing the roof and then washing the rest of the rig. I used Dri Wash n Guard on the side walls and put a couple coats of paste wax on the front for better protection since I have removed the diamond shield. We are happy with the way Opus looks even as a 13 year old teenager. 
This past spring we visited the Trinity Site in New Mexico where the first atomic bomb was tested on July 16, 1945. When we realized that nearby Oak Ridge is part of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park that was just established in November 2015, we decided to visit. 
Oak Ridge, where uranium used in a bomb was enriched, is one of three sites in the national historical park. Another is in Hanford, Washington, where the plutonium used in the Trinity test was enriched. The third site is Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the bombs were built.  
The park service site is part of the American Museum of Science and Energy. Outside the museum is this tribute to the victims of the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and made from metal taken from the site.
With the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich many Jewish and Gentile scientists were persecuted and fled Germany taking with them the knowledge that would lead to the development of the atomic bomb. Many of those people came to the the United Sates and ended up playing major roles in the Manhattan Project.  
The original U-235 Gas Diffusion Model of the machines that were built in Oak Ridge to separate the bomb grade uranium 235 from U-238.      
The calutron, designed by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, was used to separate the the U-235 and also to enrich it a second time to make weapons grade material. There were 1,152 of these machines at Oak Ridge. They were operated around the clock by women, who proved to be much better at controlling the machine than the male scientists, even though they had no idea what the purpose was for all the work they were doing. The purpose became obvious on August 6, 1945 when the bomb using the enriched uranium they produced was dropped on Hiroshima. 
This exhibit explains the roles of the other two sites that were part of the Manhattan Project, Hanford and Los Alamos. The scale of the entire project is hard to imagine with nearly 600,000 people, most of whom had no idea what they were working on, being part of a secret project at three different locations across the country.
With the secret work to enrich uranium completed, the material was transported to Los Alamos to be made into the bomb. It was carried by two men who traveled by public train from Tennessee to New Mexico.  
While the scientists were working to develop the bomb, the military was preparing to deliver it. The 509th Composite Unit, using B-29's, trained at Wendover Army Air Field, Utah starting in December 1944. In May 1945 they moved to North Field on Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands. From there they did twelve missions over Japan dropping high explosive pumpkin bombs that were similar in size and weight to the atomic bomb, Fat Man.
The first atomic bomb was dropped by the crew of the Enola Gay lead by Paul Tibbets. Two members of his crew, Dutch Van Kirk and Tom Ferebee, had also flown with Tibbets on bombing runs over Germany in the B-17 Red Gremlin at the beginning of the war in 1942.
Since the Manhattan Project was secret it was conducted in remote locations where whole new towns with all the needed services had to be built. In Oak Ridge they used eminent domain to acquire 56,000 acres of land where a whole new town that housed over 60,000 was built. Single people were housed in barracks-like buildings and families had small homes like this one. It had 576 square feet of living space in a two bedroom house. This one was later purchased and used as a family summer home for sixty years before it was donated to the museum.  
While the house may seem small to most people, for someone who lives in a house on wheels it was very roomy. Nanc was calling to see if another one was available for us.

If you have any interest in the history of WWII, a visit to Oak Ridge needs to be on your to do list. I know we have added Los Alamos and Hanford to our list. We also need to go to those sites to complete our park service Passport Book stamp as each site has a stamp that is one-third of a circle.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Nashville - Capitol, Parthenon, Honky Tonk and Friends

From Louisville we moved to Nashville for a few days to tour the capitol and Parthenon, see some friends and do a bit of honky tonking on Broadway. We did look but found no catfish, only the huge poster on the arena as a constant reminder that the Predators did make it to the Stanley Cup final only to lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins.   
The Tennessee State Capitol, designed by William Strickland, was constructed between 1854 and 1859. It is Greek Revival in style being modeled after the Erechtheum in Athens with Ionic porticoes at each end. The tower or cupola is patterned after the choragic monument of Lysicrates in Athens. It is one of twelve capitols without a dome. The building is constructed of Bigby limestone using slave and convict labor.
The House of Representatives Chamber. The 99 Representatives are elected to two-year terms. Behind the flags on each side of the speaker's podium are two fasces, a bundle of Roman spears that symbolize strength in unity. The 21 feet 10 inch columns are made from a single piece of Nashville limestone.  
The former state library has this beautiful cast iron spiral staircase. The ornate railing around the balcony was ordered out of a catalog to save money. The light is the original gasolier from 1855.  
The Senate chamber. There are 33 senators who serve four-year terms. The columns that support the visitors gallery are made of Tennessee marble.
Some of the many busts of famous or infamous Tennesseans. Left is Sequoyah who developed the written language for the Cherokee. Next is David Farragut the first admiral of the U.S. Navy. He is famous for winning the Battle of Mobile Bay for the Union where he used the expression, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead". Next is David Crockett whom I remember as King of the Wild Frontier. On the right infamously is Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate Army officer and the first grand wizard of the KKK. Why do we continue to allow the glorification of those who turned against their own country?
Throughout the capitol they celebrate the three Tennesseans who served as President. From the left is Andrew Jackson (1829-1837); James Polk (1845-1849) and Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)   
Portraits of the same three men. While they sure are proud of those who served as President, they seem to have an unusual obsession with Jackson who is represented 14 times in the capitol and on the grounds. Of course we are back in the South and this is the first capitol we toured in the last year that does not honor Lincoln.
The two reliefs celebrate suffrage. The women on the left honor the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. Tennessee's ratification of the amendment on August 20, 1920 made it part of the Constitution. The relief with Black males on the right honors the passing of the 14th and 15th Amendments that gave them the right to vote after the Civil War. Center is a bust of Sampson W. Keeble along with the names of the fourteen African Americans who served in the Tennessee legislature during Reconstruction before being driven from office by the KKK. 
The former Supreme Court Chamber has been restored to its 1850's appearance and is now used as a meeting room.
This painting hangs in the old Supreme Court Chamber. I could not find the names of all the people but it does include Ida B. Wells, Sequyoah, Sgt York, Davy Crockett, W.C. Handy and the former presidents from Tennessee; Polk, Jackson and Johnson.
The walls of the Governor's Reception Room are covered with murals about Tennessee history starting with the first Tennesseans, the Cherokee, and ending with these panels that symbolize the state motto, Agriculture and Commerce. On the left is another painting of Andrew Jackson and his home the Hermitage. Commerce is depicted on the right with the steamboat. The guide book states that African Americans worked in a variety of occupations. Really, in the time period depicted they made up one-fourth of the state's population and were slaves forced to provide their labor with no reward.   
On the grounds of the capitol is an equestrian statue of (you guessed it) Andrew Jackson. This statue by Clark Mills is also in Washington, DC and New Orleans. 
In the 1950's the exterior Bigby limestone was deteriorating so badly that it was falling off the building and endangering people. The old stone was replaced with Indiana limestone and some of the old stones were left on the capitol grounds.
The tomb of President James Polk and his wife Sarah. They were originally buried on the grounds of their home in Nashville. After the home was sold and demolished the tomb was moved here.
The Answer Bell rings in response to the nearby 95 bell carillon. Around the bottom are listed the various types of music Tennessee in known for; rock, gospel, blues, country and more.
The architect William Strickland and the chairman of the Capitol Building Commission are both buried in the capitol. They did not get along well in life so they are entombed at opposite ends of the building.
This was our 32nd capitol tour and, as always, each gives a unique look into the history of the state. This one is no different and is well worth a visit.
Even if you can't make it to Athens you can still see the Parthenon right here in Nashville. A full scale replica was built for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition that celebrated Nashville as the "Athens of the South." That Parthenon, which was built of brick, wood lath and plaster, was so popular that it was left in place after the exposition. That building deteriorated to the point it was replaced with this more permanent concrete replica in 1931.  
The Parthenon was the temple of the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, prudent warfare and the useful arts; patron deity of the city of Athens, Athena. Unlike the building built for the exposition, this one is like the original temple both inside and out. 
The sculptures on the pediments were made from plaster casts of the originals that had been taken from Athens to the British Museum. So they are exact replicas.
In 1990 this 42'10" statue of Athena by Alan LeQuire was unveiled in the temple. It is made of gypsum cement with fiberglass on a steel frame. The original in Athens that was made of ivory and plates of gold on a wood frame has been lost. In 2002 eight pounds of gilded gold paint was applied to create this beautiful image. Nanc gives you a good idea of how huge it is. 
The shield Athena is holding tells the story of all the things she was goddess of, from prudent warfare to wisdom. If you are in Nashville and have any interest in history, a tour of the Parthenon and the beautiful Athena statue is a must.
When in Nashville it is always a fun time on Broadway. Afternoon music, a couple brews and on the road home all before dark.
I think Nanc wanted to be part of the action at Legends.
We have stayed at Charles and Sandy's place south of Nashville a couple of times. But since we were touring the city and only had a few days, we stayed closer to Nashville this time. We did give them a call and they came up for lunch and a few hours of telling tales as only Charles can do.
Ray and Wendy were also staying nearby, so on another day we got together with them to get caught up with what has been happening with them. They have downsized from their fifth wheel to a motorhome and were on their first trip from Florida to Wisconsin in the new rig. 

Wow, I'm really behind with the blog. Doing the year ten summary is part of the problem. Since leaving Nashville we spent a week at the SKP park in Heiskell, TN where we gave Opus a thorough washing and waxing and toured Oak Ridge. The last two weeks of the month we were in North Carolina and spent most of that time with Rick and Denise which included a weekend visit with Keith and Michelle, who drove down from DC. Starting the first of August we will be in WashPA for two months so I should get the blog up to date.