Thursday, April 28, 2016

USC Upstate Palmetto Trail Passage

Off we trekked with friends to explore another little gem in our county.  We had never been to USC Upstate Palmetto Trail Passage before today.  This was a nice easy hike, especially for those that aren't in great shape and for kids.

We parked at the trail head at USC Upstate.  I attended college here, but at the time this trail did not exist.  In fact the majority of building and even the road didn't exist.  I did many ecology field labs in the area, but none of the field remain.  I am happy that this little piece of nature remains for exploration.

The trail leading to the passage is gently slopped in the woodlands.  It is a nice little hike and soon you forget you are near a bustling campus.  As you near the bottom of the trail you can hear the rushing water of Lawson's Fork Creek. 

At the bottom of the trail, the passage begins.  You can choose left or right and continue the hike.  The passage follows the water system's right of way.  The paths are large and surrounded by woods on both sides.  There were many rutted out sections from maintenance vehicles that evidently were stuck in the mud.  These areas had standing water and created perfect habitats for tadpoles, frogs, and water insects.  They also were great areas for looking for animal tracks.  We saw racoon and dog or coyote tracks.

Our adventure today was only along the south side of the passage.  We will come back and explore the north side of the passage.  I'm happy we finally took the time to explore this site.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Holston Creek Park

We were so excited to see that our county just opened another park and it is near us!  YAY!!!!!  The kids and I love exploring new spaces and this park is going to have tons to explore.  They haven't finished the trails just yet, but it shouldn't be much longer.  We loved the paved trail leading to two fishing ponds.  The view of the mountains from the top of the trail is really nice.  I hope they keep the meadow areas surrounding the trail and not replace them with turf grass.

The property had been a farm and mostly pasture land.  Then the county purchased the land and it became a public dove hunting field for many years.  Finally, the county decided to create a park for this rural area.  They installed a soccer field, two baseball/softball fields, small playground, covered picnic area, and restrooms.  They are working on hiking trails, Frisbee golf course, and mountain bike trails.

Can't wait to go back and explore some more!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Creature Comforts Field Trip

We went with our local homeschool group on a field trip to Creature Comforts.  Creature Comforts is a veterinarian clinic/boarding/daycare center for dogs and cats.  The family that owns/operates Creature Comforts was a homeschool family.  Mr. Lambert did a wonderful job explaining the running of a small business to the children.  It was more than just a visit to the vet clinic.  He emphasized what an entrepreneur does and the importance of following a dream.   Of course, my kiddos kind of understand the entrepreneur gig from their own father running his own business.  It was nice for them to hear the struggles of another small business owner and realize we aren't the only ones.

The facilities at Creature Comforts are very nice and well kept.  We learned about the cleanliness protocol and why it is very important.  Mr. Lambert discussed how they use technology to help attract customers and run the business.  He told them why it is important to make initial investments of good quality and not cut the corners.  (These are things they have heard from their own father.)

We found out that dogs sometimes eat rocks and no one knows why.  They saw what a rock looks like inside the intestine of a poodle.  Dr. Johnson answered questions about basic veterinarian care.

We learned about the different machines used for surgery.  Mr. Lambert was sure to point out costs for the machines and why veterinarian bills are higher than one may think they should be.  The children learned that businesses have to invest money and in turn see a return on that investment.

We enjoyed our tour of the facilities and have more of an understanding about veterinary/boarding/daycare costs.

RV Mods Part 2

It seems there is always something to do to the rv after we get back from a trip.  On our last excursion, I noticed that water was making its way to the floor from the shower.  A couple of things allow this to happen.  1.  Not closing the shower curtain all the way.  2.  Not being perfectly level. 

Now, I am very diligent about keeping the curtain pulled to try to keep all the water in the shower.  Hubby and Egee are not.  After each of their showers, I noticed a puddle of water on the floor.  After my shower and being diligent, there was still a small amount of water on the floor.  So, I sat out to remedy the problem.

I had Hubby order Tidee Tub.  It is a shower/tub guard to help keep water in the tub and not on the floor.  It received excellent reviews and I liked the fact it came in a clear version. 

I only applied one of the Tidee Tub guards.  We never tend to have water escape from the far back side of the tub.  If we do have an issue later, I have the other guard to use.

When ordering Tidee Tub, I saw another product aimed to help keep the shower curtain closed.  So, I decided to purchase the OXO curtain clip.  The adhesive on the back of the clip, may need some reinforcement.  No problem, I have extra silicone adhesive from the Tidee Tub. 

We haven't had the rv out since installation, so hopefully this is a solution to the water issue. 

Another item, I needed to add to the rv was an essential oils diffuser.  I love the one in the house and wanted to have one in the rv.  I am sold on the use of essential oils and have noticed since beginning to use them in December, we have not suffered with pollen allergies this spring. 

I ordered a smaller version for the rv and love it!  The different color light choices will be a nice touch on dark evenings. 

Can't wait until our next trip to see what else I may need to add!

Click here for more modifications we have done to our Zinger Bunkhouse!

Click here for ideas on how to stock your travel trailer frugally!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bush Brothers Museum, Store and Cafe

Do you like Bush's Best Baked Beans?  We love them.  In fact, that is the only kind of baked beans I buy.  We have tried others and we just don't like them.  So, when driving to Pigeon Forge via US-411, we just had to stop at Bush Brothers Visitor Center.  Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes too late and didn't get to go in.  That was okay, we decided we would stop by on our way home.

We swung by on our way to Interstate 40 via traveling down US-411.  This is a nice stretch of country side, so make sure you visit. 

The museum is free and very nicely done.  The hours are typically 10am to 3pm for the museum, 10am to 4pm for the café, and 10am to 5pm for the store.  Check their website to make sure you don't come to late, like we did the first time!

We were greeted by friendly folks in the store and shown to the museum.  The movie explaining the Bush's Best Factory had just started and we enjoyed seeing what the factory looks like and how production of our favorite baked beans are done.

After the movie, we made our way into the museum and learned more about the Bush family and the cannery.  We learned that the baked beans were not part of the original Bush Brother's canned variety.  Condon Bush is responsible for the baked beans and it is quite the story. 

After visiting the museum, we browsed the General Mercantile Store and then had lunch at the café.  It is well worth it to come hungry and eat there.  The food was good and plentiful. 

We will definitely stop back by this little gem!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Festival of Nations at Dollywood!

We decided to attend Dollywood's Festival of Nations.  We had been several years ago and wanted to go back.  I'm glad we did.  We had a wonderful time with MeeMee!

The first evening in Pigeon Forge, MeeMee surprised the kids with tickets to The Dixie Stampede.  This is always a supper fun treat!

The next morning we got up early and headed to Dollywood.  We had a full schedule of show we wanted to see.  We love that Dollywood does The Festival of Nations.  It is a great way to expose the children to different cultures.

We loved Atahualpa!  The band is from Central America and they are very talented.  They played traditional music and then did How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace.  It is wonderful that Dollywood embraces Christian life and doesn't hide it!

Celtic Coast was from Nova Scotia, Canada.  They are outstanding.  Of course, Scottish and Irish descendants abound in Appalachia.  We love this part of our ancestry and naturally gravitate towards it. 

Egee was excited about the Ukulele Orchestra.  She has taught herself to play the ukulele and couldn't wait to hear them.  The group was quite entertaining!

Mother Africa was full of action.  Dancing, acrobatic feats, drums, etc.  It definitely kept Little Man's attention!

Via Romen gave us a nice introduction to Eastern European music and style.  We enjoyed listening to them.

Enjoying the music!

Los Pampas Gauchos was a hit!  Fast pace, drums, dancing, comedy, etc.  They were wonderful! We all loved this show! 

I think we will be renewing our Dollywood Passes just to be able to go to Festival of Nations again next year!