Tuesday, October 25, 2016

See You Down The Road!

After 6 years, 50,000 miles and some 500,000 page views, I’ve decided to put this blog to bed.  

When we picked up the GDB in August 2012, I had big plans.  But I never imagined that both my travel dreams and blog hopes would be exceeded by the reality.

This journey has been a raging success on every level.  And I continue to marvel daily at my good fortune.

One of those moments I'm overcome with feelings of gratitude, tearfully thanking the universe for my place in it. 
Black Canyon of the Gunnison, CO. 

I'll continue to travel.  At least until someone takes my keys away - someone bigger, stronger, and more determined than me! 

And I'll share my future adventures on Facebook – sort of a blog-lite 

This is a tough decision, as being part of the nomadic blogging community has connected me with people I would not otherwise have met.  

And that’s been the best part.

So ……. thank you all for the connection we have shared over the years. 

See you down the road!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Nashville, TN

I stopped off in Nashville and met Dave Ramsey.

Dave was doing his live radio broadcast.

This woman traveled from Chicago to do her debt-free scream.

Boyfriend at her side, she got a big surprise at the end.

She said yes.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lincoln's Birthplace - Hodgenville, KY

On the way back south through the Blue Grass State, I made a slight detour to visit the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.  

I’m astounded to realize that I’ve now seen (among other significant Lincoln sites) Abe's crime scene, death bed, final resting place, adult residence, last residence, and now – finally - first residence.

Typical frontier cabin replica.

"Stalker", John says.

But what student of American history isn’t fascinated by this man? This improbable leader, genius, giant.

The Lincoln family - father Thomas, mother Nancy, sister Sarah, and baby Abraham.
No original structures on the Lincoln farm survive. But we are fortunate that this remote, rural, and still-agricultural plot of land was spared the erosion of development.

During Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, a memorial to the birthplace was built on a hill overlooking the old farmstead.  

56 steps for every year of Lincoln’s life.

Inside, a replica of a frontier cabin.

The museum and film are top-notch. Entrance to this NP site is free, but in the donation box, I place the fitting sum of $5.01

About 10 miles down the road is the second Lincoln home where the family lived until 1816.  Also saved from development.  Walking through the serene fields, it's not at all hard to imagine young Abe out there helping with chores and practicing his lettering in the dirt. 

At the time, there was a schoolhouse a few miles down the road where Lincoln's two-year total of formal education began.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Aviation Heritage Trail - Dayton, OH

One day, we are airborne. Sixty-six years later, we are walking on the moon.

What the Wright Brothers accomplished is the Great American Story. My favorite one.  So I find myself on the doorstep of another historic site I’ve wanted to visit for a long while. Dayton, OH – where it all began.

Two brothers, neither scientists nor engineers, decide they want to fly. They relentlessly pursue this dream despite little spare time and no outside funding.

Orville and Wilbur's story is deeply interesting, even without the flying bits. You'll learn much about their pre-flight lives by visiting Dayton - their life-long home. 

Newspaper publishers, printers, bicycle mechanics, first pilots. 

Apparently, their deep curiosity and mechanical ability came from their mother, Susan, a tinkerer who often made toys for her children and various household gadgets.

You can visit the 4th of their 5 bike shops (the only one that still exists).  It's not hard to imagine Orville and Wilbur working on flight mechanics between customers.

The brothers' most popular bike model.

I've visited Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, one of my favorite historical sites in the National Park System. Here's one of their photos of their home during the summers of 1900 - 1903.

We have to remember, at the time, there were no manuals, no data, and no models regarding mechanical flight. The brothers had to conquer the three central problems of 1) lift 2) power and 3) control. How they persistently and methodically overcame these massive obstacles is the miracle of the story.

One example of their brilliant determination was puzzling out the aerodynamics of lift. How did they decipher the mystery? They invented the world’s first wind tunnel, course! 


And so they methodically worked the problems and learned from their many failures from their first gliders until their triumphant fully-controlled motorized 1905 Wright Flyer. 

Meticulous notes. 

Trial and error. Trial and error.

The various sites along the Aviation Heritage Trail include displays of intriguing artifacts. Turns out, Orville was an accomplished bike racer. (Wilbur preferred long rides around the countryside).

 I love this photo of Wilbur in New York City in 1909.  What a show-off! 

 Dayton's Carillon Park houses a replica of the 1905 flyer.  The last flyer they built by hand was fully motorized and controlled and flew for 40 minutes at a time, witnessed by astonished locals. 

The location of these flights has also been preserved as a National Park Site at Huffman's Prairie, on the grounds of present-day Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. 

Turns out, the pieces of the original 1905 were scattered - some muslin here, some gears there. So Orville oversaw the painstaking reproduction. He wanted the airplane to be displayed below floor level so visitors can see the mechanics. It's a wonder.  

The last airplane the first pilot ever built. 

Note: the original 1903 first-flight Kitty Hawk plane is housed in the Smithsonian. 

There is so much more to the story. Even the details of that famous photo at the top of the post is fascinating. I recommend my favorite bio of the brothers by David McCullough.  

Left: Orville 1871 - 1948
Right: Wilbur 1867 - 1912

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN

OK - I double-dare you to not spend hours browsing here!

This spot has been on my list for a while.

The museum has many trailers and motorhomes on display, but the surprise is that most of them are one-of-a-kind.  For example, you don't just see a vintage motorhome, you'll see the very first Fleetwood Class A ever manufactured. 

I’ve been nuts about RVs since my dad took me shopping for a pop-up in about 1967. We got one like this (only ours was brown). I loved that camper!

Warning: prepare to feel the horror when you realize that items from your childhood are now museum relics.

Here's the luxury coach that Paramount Studios built for Mae West in 1931. Complete with back porch. 

The collection contains many custom-builds.

So I ran around the place (2.5 times), squealing! I told John, this was one day I’m glad he wasn’t with me.  The embarrassment might have been too much for him.

The museum also houses vintage accessories, documents, paintings, and photos.  Like this painting of the New Moon - the model that caused so many problems in The Long Long Trailer

I guess this innovation never took off. The roof-top wife-rack.

A priceless collection.

One of my favorites - built on a 1915 Model T, this early motorhome's cabinets telescope in and out. What a brilliant design!

Here’s the website if you wanna see for yourself. Overnight parking is allowed.