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

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     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. 

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     We visited his home and museum.

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

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     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.   

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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:

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     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. 

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

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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,

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     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.

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     We then had dinner at the Sunsphere restaurant. 

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Staying put in Tennessee

Day 233

     We are now surrounded by wildfires, although they are 35 miles away, all of our routes out of here are blocked. In Gatlinburg, about 40 miles from us, there have been 4 deaths and hundreds of homes have been burned. Both Route 40 and Route 81 are blocked, some by fallen trees and smoke, but also by rescue crews entering the fire area, and people being evacuated from Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and other towns that could be effected. 

     The weather forecast is for heavy rain starting tonight and lasting all day tomorrow. They expect the rain to help extinguish the fires, but they also expect the lightning to start new fires. They are also predicting tornadoes and are asking people to evacuate certain areas. I have emergency weather alert on my iPhone and I received a warning of the tornadoes and advised to evacuate. We flipped a coin and decided to stay. If there is no post tomorrow, you know we guessed wrong.