Monday, August 28, 2017

Family - Friends - Eclipse

We continue to be very busy seeing friends and family, doing the annual doctor thing and taking care of Opus. We thought we would be getting our carpet replaced by a local store but found after we got here that they no longer do RVs so we are back to square one.  Nanc got a little hitch in her giddy up as she was preparing to run the Great Race next month. Her hip started bothering her so her training has come to a stop and she is going to the chiropractor. Hopefully, she will be well enough to get back to training next week.
One of the things we miss the most being on the road is playing cards with our old euchre club. We used to play once a month and it was always a fun-filled evening. Luckily for us they never found a replacement couple so we usually get together for a game when we are in WashPA. Here are Tim, Tom, Nanc and Georgie at cards.
Sherri, Mike, Di and Mary Lou at cards. We have seen them all on the road and look forward to playing euchre with them any time four of us get together.
We did another teachers lunch bunch gathering and a couple different people showed up, Patty by Nanc and Bill, John and Kim at the far end of the table. Check out the logo of Bacon (pig), Bourbon (barrel) and Beer (hops) = B3, a local restaurant owned by a former student that opened last summer.
When you and many of your friends have homes with wheels you never know who may show up. We got a message from Merlene and Dan that they would be passing through the area. Unfortunately, they could only get one night at Pine Cove where we are staying, but we made the most of it.
We took them to Al'an Rubens for dinner and an evening of music with the Dan Baker Trio. They loved the music, especially Dan on guitar.
Tom and Georgie joined us for an evening of good food, music and conversation. Our circle of friends is coming together with WashPA friends and RV friends becoming new friends. After dinner we went back to our place and spent the evening getting caught up.
We went to another of our favorite local restaurants The Back Porch in Speers with Rick and Denise. We had a great evening together and a wonderful meal. Their lamb is my favorite. 
Well, we did not venture to an area of total eclipse but we watched on TV as it started on the West Coast. We went into the bedroom and covered the windows with cardboard for two minutes for the more realistic experience. Not really but it was a thought. 
We had the glasses, but we also had clouds over Opus. Nanc was disappointed, but being in Western Pennsylvania we only had to travel a few miles to find a break in the clouds. 
Just down the road there were blue skies and only a few clouds. I was happy to get a great look.
I then decided to drive to our friends Mike and Sherri's to share our glasses. This was kind of neat, Mike held the colander so we had a bunch of mini eclipses. 
There was 81% coverage here which was very neat but nothing like it was in the zone of total darkness. We are already planning for April 2024 to be in the total zone for the next one in the US. If we miss that there will be a total eclipse right here in WashPA in 2099:)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Back in WashPA

We left North Carolina and took two days to drive the 440 miles to WashPA. It has been a whirlwind time since we arrived getting together with family and friends and keeping doctor appointments. Our dentist visit was a split with Jim getting a thumbs up and Nanc getting a root canal, cap to follow later. We both got good news from the dermatologist. My visit to the eye doctor showed the cataract situation has not changed, so no surgery this year. We have other appointments coming up and are hoping the positive news continues. We have been to several of our favorite restaurants with friends.
On our way north we stayed at Summersville Lake and were treated to this beautiful sunrise. The COE parks are almost always located on picturesque bodies of water.
Really!!! We passed this road on the way to the RV park.
One thing we always look forward to is going out with the lunch bunch who are mostly teachers I worked with. Sandy, Jim and Gail having a fun time.
Anna Marie (who is still teaching), Ron and Becky.
Phil, Linda Tom and Georgie are now all in full retirement mode and loving it.
On our first weekend we went to Marietta for a celebration of our great niece Morgan and Matt's recent marriage. We wish them the best on their new life adventure.
Two beautiful ladies Morgan and her mom Betsy.
Betsy and her husband Lou. The party was on the banks of the Muskingum River. The kids had a fun time in the water. 
There was plenty of food and games to keep everyone busy.
Betsy and her mom Judy (Nanc's sister) enjoying the the homemade ice cream Morgan's grandfather made. It was wonderful. We spent the night with Judy so we had a great time getting caught up. 
Our nephew Rick and his daughter Olivia. She sure has grown since the last time we saw her. We always tell Rick he and his brother Scott are the reason why we decided not to have kids, they were so bad:)
Lou and Betsy with their girls Emma and Jackie. Happy Birthday to Lou!!
Emma and Jackie are each raising a pig for the fair and one for the family. It's a great project for them to learn responsibility. 
I took this picture off Facebook this week of Emma showing her pig at the fair. 
On our way back to WashPA we stopped to see friends Jim and Darlene Brown. We saw them last year when we spent a couple days in the area soon after they retired here. They are now into the full retirement mode.  
A very busy first start to our two month stay in WashPA with much more to come.

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.