Fallston, Maryland

Day 244

     Fallston, Maryland was established . . . . . . . .just kidding. WE ARE HOME

     Today is December 13, 2016.  We have camped 244 nights since leaving home February 20, 2016

     We have stayed at 51 different campgrounds (that’s 102 setups and take downs.)

     We have pulled the Sphinx 9,463 miles

     and have done additional sightseeing in the pickup 10, 250 miles. 

     Now that we are “home”, please stop over and take a tour of the Sphinx.

     My plan is to leave January 3, 2017 and head south for warm weather. 


Technical Stuff:

Staunton, Virginia to Fallston, Maryland 226.5 miles

5 hours 55 minutes

11.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.30


Staunton, Virginia

Day 243


     This area was first settled in 1732 by John Lewis and his family. The town that ultimately grew up in 1747 was named in honor of Lady Rebecca Staunton, wife to Royal Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Gooch.

     The town is most noted as being the birthplace of Tommy Wilson on December 28, 1856. He did not start using his middle name, Woodrow, until college. 


     We visited his home and museum.


     His favorite car, a pierce-arrow, was on display in the garage. 


     His house was actually a parsonage, as his father was a Presbyterian minister, as was his grandfather and nephew. 

     Woodrow became a lawyer, but found it distasteful. He then went to John’s Hopkins University in Baltimore and received a Ph.D. in History so he could become a teacher. 

     His run for President was unique in that it was a 3 way race: The Republican Taft, the Democratic Wilson, and Teddy Roosevelt trying to make a comeback by forming the Progressive “Bull Moose” party. The 1912 Democratic Convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland. You remember that, don’t you?

     After the World War, Wilson traveled the country garnering support for his League of Nations, which had fallen in the House, and was up for a vote in the Senate. During that trip he had a stroke from which he never fully recovered. His second wife, whom he married while President, Edith Wilson, began to screen all matters of state and decided which were important enough to bring to the bedridden president. In doing so, she de facto ran the executive branch of the government for the remainder of the president’s second term. She, therefore, was really the first female President of the United States. Supposedly, Edith was a descendant of the Indian Princess Pocahontas. 

      An interesting part of the museum was a recreation of a World War I trench.   


day-243-staunton-va-9288_fotor    And you thought someone else came up with the phrase. 


Walnut Hills Campground, Staunton, Virginia

Day 238

     Traveling to within striking distance from home, we are in Staunton, Virginia. It is pouring down rain, and is expected to last most of the week, also calling for snow showers. We are 219 miles from home. We were going to stay here a few days then move one more time before arriving home on the 13th of December. But with the weather, we might stay here a week and just go home.

     Our campground was a plantation in the 17 & 1800’s. It has hundreds of sites, but only 5 RV’s are here, as it is now out of season. The temperatures are in the 30’s. When the rain stops, it is predicted to go into the 20’s this week with highs in the 40’s during the day. We have been requested to disconnect our water in the evening so the exposed hose does not freeze. 

     Although we have the fireplace and a space heater in the Sphinx, we still must turn on our propane heat if the temperature goes below freezing so it heats our water pipes under the RV to prevent them from freezing. 

     No pictures, it is pouring down rain.

Technical Stuff:

Wytheville, Virginia to Staunton, Virginia  141.5 miles

2 hours 50 minutes

11.3 MPG

Diesel $2.30

Wytheville, Virginia

Day 235

     We decided to take 81 North to Virginia rather than 40 South to North Carolina  because we did not want to go through the fire area. Although all the fires are now out, there is still damage and cleanup, plus damage from the tornadoes. 

     Wytheville, Virginia is located in the western part of Virginia, just over the Tennessee line. North Carolina is just below us, with West Virginia just above. The city’s motto is “There’s Only One”, as no other town in the United States has the same name. 

     Wytheville (pronounced WITH-ville) was founded in 1792 as Evansham on 100 acres of land. That name was to honor prominent local citizen Jesse Evans. However, the town burned down in 1839 and was renamed for the first signer of the Declaration of Independence for Virginia – George Wythe. 

     Wytheville has the world’s larges pencil:


     We attended Wytheville’s annual Christmas Parade. 

     We had a Skeeter’s famous hot dog, a baby coke, and watched the parade in front of that building, where Edith Bolling Wilson was born, wife of Widrow Wilson. 


     After the parade, we ate dinner in a house built in 1776. 



Technical Stuff:

Kodax, Tennessee to Wytheville, Virginia:   171.2 miles

3 hours 24 minutes

11.3 MPG

Diesel: $2.03

Knoxville, Tennessee

Day 234

     The rains came, heavy rains, with lighting, thunder and tornados. The lightning caused 8 new fires, but the rains put out most of the 40 fires already burning. Eight tornados hit the area, but not us. Actually, we slept through it. 

     With the rains ending, we still could not leave the area, so we will spend another night here on the farm. With the weather clearing, we went to Knoxville, Tennessee.

     The first white men setting foot in this area was in 1540 by an expedition led by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto.

     Evidently, Tennessee is divided into 3 regions: West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and East Tennessee. No mention was made of this when were in West and Middle Tennessee.

     East Tennessee is the region between the Cumberland Mountains and the Smokey Mountains. Because of this geographic separation, they consider themselves separate from the rest of the State. We went to the East Tennessee Museum where we learned this area was originally part of North Carolina. 

     In 1784, North Carolina gave up this area to the Federal Government, but quickly repealed that act. The inhabitants of the area, led my Brigadier General John Sevier (who was the commander of the militia and Over Mountain Men that beat the British at the Battle of King’s Mountain), resentful of being governed by a body so far away, took advantage of this lapse to form the State of Franklin with Sevier as it’s Governor. They governed themselves in this capacity for 4 years, when political fighting in Washington terminated the State, which had applied for Statehood, and set up a separate territory called “Territory South of the River Ohio”.

     When Tennessee became a State in 1796, John Sevier was the first governor and Knoxville the capital. The state was named for the Cherokee town of Tanasi. 

     The museum had some interesting artifacts, for example, a carpet bag from the reconstruction era, day-234-knoxville-tn-9022_fotor

     and Davy Crockett’s rifle, Betsy,


     Actually, Davy Crockett had 4 rifles, all named Betsy. This one was his first, which he bought when he was 17. He had it only 3 years when he traded it for a horse to court a girl. It turns out Davy was not too successful in love, he should have kept the rifle. 

     Not to far from here is the town of Dayton. You might recognize this town from the movie “Inherit the Wind” about the Scopes “Monkey Trial”. Did you know the trial was a publicity stunt by the town of Dayton? The ACLU was looking for a test case to challenge Tennessee’s new law banning the teaching of evolution in public schools. Dayton volunteered to have the trial and chose John Scopes to be the defendant. John was a physical education teacher that sometimes substituted as a science teacher. Top orators Clarance Darrow, for the defense, and William Jennings Bryan, for the prosecution, agreed to argue the case. Clarance Darrow actually ask the Jury to convict his client, as the ACLU wanted to appeal the case to the Tennessee Supreme Court to draw attention to the issue. Scopes was found guilty and the penalty was a $100 fine. This fine was paid by H.L. Mencken who was covering the story for the Baltimore Sun. The verdict was reversed, but the case was terminated, the point of the trial having been made, and Dayton now a tourist attraction. 

     What do the code names K-25, S-50, Y-12, and X-10 signify? Those were the names of the secret buildings in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the Manhattan project enriched uranium to fuel the atomic bomb. 

     Knoxville was the host to the World’s Fair in 1982. We visited the Sunsphere viewing tower.


     We then had dinner at the Sunsphere restaurant. 



Museum of Appalachia, Tennessee

Day 232


     John Rice Irwin was born on December 11, 1930 in Union County, Tennessee. His ancestors were pioneers of the area and he was devoted to preserving the history of his people’s struggle in the Appalachia. He started collecting heirlooms, while connecting each item to the person who owned it and telling their story.  In 1968, Irwin founded the Museum of Appalachia to house and display his growing collection. By 1980, the museum had grown so large that Irwin left his job in education to devote all of his time to the museum.

     Although the museum started as only a small log building, today it has grown to a village-farm complex, comprehending more than 35 original mountain structures, two large display buildings containing thousands of Appalachian artifacts, farm animals, and several gardens. In May 2007, the museum became an affiliate with the Smithsonian Institution. John Rice Irwin retired from the museum in 2009. 

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     One of the buildings was devoted to the the people who lived in The Appalachia area, both well known to us, and well known in the area only: Bill Monroe, the Carter Family (who ultimately produced June Carter), Uncle Dave Macon, Homer Harris, Cordell Hull (US Secretary of State), Jim Smith, Sgt. Alvin C. York, Cass Walker, Chet Akins, Redd Stewart (author of The Tennessee Waltz), Archie (Grandpappy) Campbell, etc. Each section told the story of that person. 

     The onslaught of history here is overwhelming as there are over a quarter million items. However, the museum is not about the artifacts, but about the men and women who created them. 

Barbara talks to the peacocks. 


     There was no explanation for this, it was just laying on the ground. Could the peacocks have done it?




Kodax, Tennessee

Day 231


     We have reached a fork in our travels. Kodak, Tennessee, is just East of Knoxville. We are staying on a farm, converted to an RV park, that is basically used in the summer for a bluegrass festival.


     It has 170 sites, but today it is empty, being off season. 


     Our original plan was to go South from here to the Carolinas for warmer weather, taking route 40 to 95 where we will turn North for home. However there are over 40 wildfires in the area. When we arrived here you could smell the smoke, and see it approaching the farm. We are 35 miles from the nearest fire. Going South will take us through the heaviest part of the fire, so our alternative is to go diagonally North by route 81 to 70. We will have to see which way the wind blows. 

Technical Stuff:

Crossville, TN to Kodax, TN 95 miles

2 hours 3 minutes

11.3 MPG

Diesel: $2.25


Crossville, Tennessee

Day 224


     Crossville developed at the intersection of a branch of the Great Stage Road, which connected the Knoxville area with the Nashville area, and the Kentucky Stock Road, a cattle drovers’ path connecting Middle Tennessee with Kentucky. These two roads are roughly paralleled by modern US-70 and US-127. 

     Around 1800, an early American settler named Samuel Lambeth opened a store at this junction, and the small community that developed around it became known as Lambeth’s Crossroads. By the 1830’s this community became known as Crossville. 

     Even before the depression, this community, mostly farms and mining interests, came upon hard times. The federal government’s Subsistence Homestead Division, part of Franklin Delanor Roosevelt’s New Deal, initiated in 1934 a housing project known as the Cumberland Homesteads. The project’s purpose was to provide small farms for several hundred impoverished families. It was similar to the CCC. The Government purchased 10,000 acres from the Missouri Mining Company. They then “sold” the land to the selected families. More than 400 men were employed to clear the land and build roads to support the community. They would also build a house and barn on their alloted plot. They were paid $1.50 an hour. 50 cents was given to them, and the remaining dollar was a credited toward them purchasing the land. The sites ranged from 8 to 20 acres each.

     We visited the first of these projects in Arthurdale, West Virginia. The theory behind that project, conceived of and championed by Eleanor Roosevelt, was to invite industry to the area, have families built homes, and work in these industries. Unfortunately the project failed because the companies that came in could not make a profit. 

     Here, the government considered this a failed project, but the 251 families who got homes, did not. They were taught a trade, which when the government abandoned them they could take to private industry and make a living. The project was abandoned in 1947, but the homesteaders were allowed to redeem their houses and land. Some of their decedents are still here.

     The water tower and government offices that supported this community is now a museum preserving the history of the area.

    It contained a display of each of the 251 families, and their descendants, some of whom still live on the land in these houses.


Technical Stuff:

Goodlettsville, TN to Crossville, TN 131.0 miles

2 hours and 30 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.20

The Nashville Scene, Tennessee

Day 223


     Today we toured all of Nashville, the Capital of Tennessee. Starting with the Capital Building.


     Went to the Nashville Parthenon which is the world’s only full scale replica of the one in ancient Greece. The ancient Parthenon, built in 438 BCE (Before the Common Error) was a temple to the goddess Athena, protector and patron goddess of Athens.


     Nashville’s Parthenon was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial celebration. At that time Nashville’s nickname was “The Athens of the South”. The first floor was an art exhibit, the second had the goddess Athena.


     If you remember your mythology, Athena sprang as the fully grown warrior from the head of her father, Zeus. 

     In her right hand is Nike, the shoe guy. Actually, Nike is a girl, the Goddess of Victory.


Na Nana Na Na!


     Barbara says no, but I think she has a toe fungus.


Saw the “circle of butts”, I guess it’s art.

 day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8792_fotor day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8790_fotor day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8788_fotor day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8785_fotor

     We next went to the shop of the TV show “American Pickers”. It looked like junk to me. 


     What was interesting, is that the shop is located in the old Marathon Automobile factory.


     The factory building takes up the whole block, plus half a block across the street. It now houses other antique shops, which seemed to have less junk than the Pickers.

     As you walk through the Marathon building you can observe the various machines used to build the cars.

     The Marathon Motor Works manufactured automobiles from 1907 to 1914. The car was developed by William Collier, an eccentric inventor who lived in Jackson, Tennessee. From 1907 to 1910 he produced about 400 cars. But in 1910 a group of Nashville financiers led by Maxwell House Hotel owner Augustus Robinson bought out the company and brought it to Nashville.  They were the only company to completely manufacture the automobile in the South.

     On the top floor of the building are 5 of the only 8 Marathon automobiles left.


     As a result of over expansion and short supplies as a result of the World War, the company declared bankruptcy in 1914.


Went to the top of Tootsies for a nice view of Broadway.


The party goes on all day long.


day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8805_fotor day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8851_fotor 

     My favorite was B.B. Kings, where we went to dinner for their “lip smacking” ribs.