September 2006               


            Labor Day weekend filled Bald Mountain Park.  Nearly every site was taken.  A lot of families out for the last camping trip of the summer.  Alas, it rained most of the weekend.  We really felt bad for these folks, having to spend most of the time sitting around in their rigs.  One of the good things about full timing is that the rain doesnít destroy your plans; you just change them to another day! 

            Monday (Labor Day), the park emptied early and there were very few folks left.  We try not to travel on weekends or holidays, so we stayed for a few more days.  The rain stopped but fog and cloud cover stayed on the mountains.  We had planned to visit Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia, but decided against it as the view from the top would be obscured.  We will go back another time.

            Nashville, TN was our next destination.  We needed to take the truck to Neely-Coble for a check up.  We seem to have gremlins in the computer system.  Every time we make a left turn the ďcheck engineĒ light comes on.  Only on left turns! 

            We stayed in Smyrna, TN at an older park that had many trees and were without our internet satellite for two weeks.  The park did have wi-fi and Dick took the computers up a couple of times to download email.  We donít realize how much we use the internet during our travels until we are without it.  Directions to attractions, hours, locating shopping, etc.

            We visited the Stones River National Battlefield near Murfreesboro, TN.  The battle of Stones River took place December 31, 1862 Ė January 2, 1863.  Union troops were under the leadership of Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans and Confederate forces were led by Gen. Braxton Bragg.  Union forces were in occupation of the western half of Tennessee by fall of 1862, including Nashville.  Braggís troops retreated from Kentucky and established winter quarters in Murfreesboro. 

            Rosecransís objective was to sweep away the Confederate troops and move on to Chattanooga. 

            The Stones River Battle had no definite winners, but cost the lives of 13,249 Federal troops and 10,266 Confederates.  It did however boost morale at a time when the Union had suffered defeat at Fredericksburg.

            The battlefield loop contains numbered interpretive spots.  Following a visit to the visitorís center and exhibits, we drove the loop, stopping at these spots along the way. 

            Across from the visitorís center is the Stones River National Cemetery.  Most of the casualties of the battle were buried in the field.  The national cemetery was established in 1865 and the Army reburied more than 6,100 here; 2,562 of those are unidentified.  Most of the Confederate casualties were taken to their home towns or nearby southern towns for burial.  A large number were buried in a mass grave south of Murfreesboro and later reburied in a mass grave at Evergreen Cemetery in Murfreesboro.

            Located near, but outside the confines of the national cemetery is the Hazenís Brigade Monument.  This is the nationís oldest Civil War Memorial, erected in 1863 by survivors of Col. William B. Hazenís brigade.  Surrounded by a stone wall, the memorial area also contains graves of members of the brigade.

            Dick spent a day at Neely-Coble with the truck.  Most of the work was completed, except for a sensor that had to be ordered and would not be in before we left there.  We had them order the part and will stop on our way back south to have it installed.

            The Tennessee State Fair was taking place while we were there and we planned to attend.  This was one of the least publicized, hardest to locate State Fair that we have been to!  After several false starts, we finally located the fair grounds and parked. 

            The fair was very small, surprising to us in an agricultural state, but had a large quilt and needlework exhibit.  One of the quilts we found quite interesting is pictured here.

            We had to search for a place to have lunch, at last deciding on the ďcafeteriaĒ on the grounds.  Dick ended up with hot dogs and Millie had chicken strips.  We had French fries (cold) and Millie had a salad. 

            After lunch we attended some of the shows being presented.  The Tigers of India introduced the audience to 4 tigers, each with different colorations.   Of course, racing pigs were part of the fair and these piggies not only raced but did diving exhibitions.  We also enjoyed the Great Lakes Timber Show.

            A village exhibited various buildings and ways of life in pioneer Tennessee.  Quilting, a small general store, sorghum making and other crafts were demonstrated.

            We walked through the mule barns.  There were a large number of mules on display and a number of babies. We also visited the rabbits and poultry. 

            After we arrived home, Millie became sick.  We can only think it was caused by something she at for lunch.  We will have to be more careful where we eat in the future.

            Our next destination was Winterset, Iowa.  Millie is a fan of Marianne Fons and Liz Porter who have a quilting program ďThe Love of QuiltingĒ shown on public television and also a magazine with the same name.  They are based in Winterset where they have a quilt shop.  As soon as we learned that the Travel Supreme International Rally was going to occur in Iowa, Millie put in her bid to visit Winterset.

            We arrived at the City Park Campground in Winterset and picked a space.  This is a really nice park operated by the city.  The sites are spacious and the park is exceptionally clean.  The fee for a week was less than $100.

            Millie spent a few hours in the downtown area.  She visited the quilt shop (smaller than she expected) and purchased some 1930ís reproduction fabrics for a quilt she is planning.  The Ben Franklin store on the square also had an extremely large fabric department and craft area.  She also enjoyed a lunch of Chinese food.  (Dick doesnít care for Chinese, so this was a treat)

            Winterset is also known for two other things.  It is the county seat of Madison County.  Many of you know of the novel and movie ďThe Bridges of Madison CountyĒ, which is set in this area. 

            Of more interest to Dick is that it is also the birthplace of John Wayne.  The little home where he was born as Marion Robert Morrison in 1907 is a museum.  It is decorated in furnishings of the era and the largest public collection of John Wayne memorabilia available. 

            We visited the small visitorís center and purchased tickets to tour the home.  Johnís father was a pharmacist in Winterset.  The family lived in the tiny house for several years before moving to a nearby town. 

            It was amazing to see photoís of Wayne and many of his co-stars.  We didnít have any idea of the scope of his movie list until we viewed the many photos.  One interesting story was told to us by our informative guide.  One day in June a lady came to visit the museum.  She was in the visitorís center when one of the parties she was with inquired of the museum director if he knew who this visitor was.  Well, it turned out to be Patricia Neal, who co-starred in two films with Wayne.  She had been going east on the interstate to attend a function at the governorís mansion when she saw the sign indicating the birthplace museum and had her driver leave the interstate and come to Winterset.  They said she was a very gracious and interesting lady.  Telling them stories of working on the films with Wayne.  One embarrassment, there were no photoís of her with Wayne displayed in the house (oops), but she did promise to send one to the museum.  (By the way, she was late for her appointment with the governor!)

            Madison County takes great pride in its covered bridges.  A bridge festival is held every year.  We obtained a map of the bridges and spent a beautiful sunny day driving to them.  Each bridge is somewhat alike in pattern, but different in size. 

            The Roseman Bridge was built in 1883 and renovated in 1992 at a cost of $152,515.  It is featured in the move and book ďThe Bridges of Madison CountyĒ.

            The Hogback Bridge was built in 1884 and is 97 feet long.  It was also renovated in 1992 at a cost of $118,810.

            The Cedar Bridge was built in 1883 and is featured on the cover of the novel.  It is 76 feet long.  Sadly it was destroyed by arson in 2002.  The present bridge is a replica, constructed in 2004.  All the bridges now contain surveillance cameras to help deter vandalism.

            The Holliwell Bridge is 122 feet in length and constructed in 1880.  It is the longest of the bridges and was renovated in 1995 for $225,000.  It is also featured in the movie.

            The Imes Bridge is the oldest of the bridges.  It was built in 1870 and is 81 feet long.  After several moves, it has been at its present location since 1977.

            The Cutler-Donahoe Bridge is located in the Winterset City Park, where it was moved from it original location in 1970.  It was built in 1870 and is 70 feet in length.

            The bridges are mainly named for families who lived near the locations of the bridges.   

            Numerous other sites related to the novel and movie are located around the area and a map to these sites is available at the visitorís center.

            Located in the city park is the Winterset Maze.  It contains 1,850 privet hedges and was planted in 1998 by 25 high school students and volunteers.  The maze covers and area 139 feet by 76 feet.  At the center is an old English sundial purchased in a London antique shop.  We had a great time finding our way through the maze. 

            We spent a day in Des Moines touring the Iowa State House and the State Museum. 

            The Iowa State House was constructed between 1871-1886.  It is contains 29 different types of marble.  One of the interesting features of this building is that it has a large central dome and 4 smaller domes, one at each corner of the building. 

            The beautiful dome has gold leaf gilding on the exterior and a gorgeous interior

We toured the building with our guide and another couple.  The building is presently undergoing restoration and we were unable to view some parts.  A large painting on the landing of the grand staircase was covered with canvas so we were unable to view it.

            We viewed the main area of the governorís office and the house and senate chambers.  The senate chamber contains a beautiful stained glass ceiling and original chandelier.  A fire in 1904 destroyed the ceiling of the house chamber and the stained glass and chandelier were replaced with some less ornate.

             A particularly impressive room is the State Law Library.  This beautiful room contains wrought iron circular staircases and a stained glass ceiling. It is one of the largest law libraries in the U. S. with 200,000 volumes.

            Following our tour of the capital, we had lunch and then spent the afternoon at the State Historical Museum.  This three story building contains many interesting exhibits relating to the history of Iowa. 

            One particular exhibit of interest and beauty was the sand paintings of Andrew Clemens.  A plaque explained the process used by Clemens to create these wonderful articles. 

            Another fun exhibit was A few of our favorite things, an exhibit of 100 things that made a difference in our lives in the 20th century.  Some of the articles included disposable diapers, Jell-O, television, computers, and credit cards.  It was fun looking at the items.

            We found the display of a vintage Winnebago interesting.  This pioneer of the RV industry was founded in Iowa. 

            Moving east, we checked into Amana RV Park in Amana, Iowa.  The Travel Supreme Rally is to be held here the first week of October and we decided to come early and spend some time exploring the area. 

            The day we arrived at the park, a large group of trail riders and their horses also arrived.  They were all set up behind us in the park and when they left on Sunday, they left the flies behind!  We have never been so bothered by flies.  They hung on our windows and door and every time you went in or out some came in.  It took us over a month to get rid of all of them. 

            The Amana Society began in Europe in 1714.  They were part of the Pietist movement.  They believed that God would inspire individuals to speak and this gift was the basis of a religious group known as the Community of True Inspiration.  This group was persecuted for their beliefs and took refuge in several estates in central Germany.

            The group came to Buffalo, New York in 1843.  In order to do this and purchase land, they pooled their resources and worked cooperatively. They called their community the Ebenezer Society.

            They moved to Iowa in 1855 when they needed more land for their growing society.  They called their village Amana, which means to remain true. 

            Six villages were established, each a mile or two apart in a river valley containing 25000 acres. 

            The community became a communal way of life, with the society owning all the land and businesses and jobs were assigned to each individual by the society.  Members received their meals, homes, education and medical care. 

            The communal life was discontinued in 1932 due to the great depression and a desire of members to achieve individual goals. 

            The Society still owns most of the farm land in the area and many businesses in the 7 villages.  The village of Amana contains many artisansí shops and other great shopping; Millie had a great time browsing all the shops. 

            One afternoon we spotted a really neat retro rig in the parking lot of the Ox Yoke Restaurant and had to stop and take a photo.  Isnít it neat?

            President Herbert Hoover was born in West Branch, Iowa.  The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum and National Historic Site are located there.  We spent a sunny Sunday afternoon visiting the site.  We first viewed the film on Hoover at the Visitorís Center.  An exhibit of the furnishings of the Hoover home is set up in the center, as the house has been undergoing lead paint removal and is closed to the public.  The furnishings from the tiny home are set up in the exhibit much as they are in the actual house.

            The Historic site contains buildings in a town setting much as they were when Hoover was growing up.  Jessie Hoover, the presidentís father, was a blacksmith and his shop is nearby. 

            The Hoovers were Quakers and the Quaker Meeting House is nearby.  The building is divided by an interior wall, and the men and women sat on different sides of the church.

            We knew very little about this president until we visited this site.  Hoover was born on August 10, 1874 to Jesse and Hulda Hoover.  He was the second of three children.  His father died in December of 1880 and his mother in 1884.  

            The children were sent to live with relatives.  He lived with his Aunt Millie and Uncle Allan Hoover until he was 11.  Following the loss of a son; his motherís brother, Dr. Henry Minthorn, requested that Herbert come live with him and his family in Oregon.  Herbert was placed on a train, alone, to make the trip to Oregon to a family he didnít even know. 

            He attended the Friends Pacific Academy and in 1891 he entered Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, graduating in 1895 with a degree in geology.  In 1897 he worked as a mining engineer in Australia.

            He met Lou Henry at Stanford, and in February 1899 they married.  The day after their marriage they left for China where Hoover continued his career.  They survived the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.  He became a partner in Bewick, Moreing and Co. in 1901 and circled the globe working.  Lou and their two young sons accompanied him.

            The Hoovers were humanitarians and in 1914 Hoover became Chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium. 

            In 1917 her became United States Food Administrator for President Wilson, 1918-1919 Director General of American Relief Administration and founded the Hoover Institution of War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

            He became Secretary of Commerce in 1921, serving until 1928. He was elected as our 31st President in 1929-1933.  During his term he signed the London Naval Treaty, reform of federal courts, created the Federal Farm Board and Veterans Administration, regulation of stocks and securities, convened a conference on child health, increased the acreage of our national forests and expanded our National Park System.

            Lou and Herbert were both outdoors people and enjoyed fishing.  They built Camp Rapidan in the Blue Ridge Mountains as a presidential getaway.  This was the precursor of Camp David.  Camp Rapidan was built with the Hooverís own funds and donated to the government.

            Following his loss of the 1932 election to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Hoovers returned to California where they worked on humanitarian causes.  In 1940 they moved to an apartment in the Waldorf Towers in New York City.  Lou died on January 7, 1944 and Herbert on October 20, 1964.

            The Hoover museum and library contains exhibits chronicling the life of Hoover and a recreation of the living room of his Waldorf Towers apartment.  The graves of Herbert and Lou are located on a hillside nearby. 

            We spent a beautiful fall Saturday in Kalona, IA at the annual Fall Harvest Festival.  This pretty little town is the home of the largest Amish community west of the Mississippi River.  The festival had craft vendors; demonstrations of steam equipment, apple butter making, weaving and quilting and of course many food booths.  We had a great lunch there.  We also visited the Mennonite Heritage Museum, located on the festival grounds. 

            After we left the festival, we drove to downtown Kalona where Millie visited several quilt shops located there. 

            Amana has a large October Fest every year and it took place on the last Saturday of the month.  We went into town and walked around for a while, visited the festival building (polka dancing, beer and food), didnít find much to interest us, so we came back home.

            Next month, Travel Supreme Rally, Service in Indiana and Tennessee, and on to Texas.   See you then. 


As always, you will find more photos in the gallery.  Next month, Labor Day in the Mountains; Nashville, TN; Winterset, IA; and Amana, IA. 



(Lots of new photos in the gallery, take a look.  We couldn't link to all of them.)