Saturday, May 16, 2015

Spring Fling 2015 - Part 3

I have one more segment to complete to finish up the Spring Fling 2015 blog posts.  And I thought I would do it all in one post...ha ha.  I don't know why I put off blogging because once I get going, it's something fun for me to do.

We left North Carolina and headed into Tennessee on the northeast corner of the state, bypassing the roads leading down to Gatlinburg.  That's another trip.  We were headed to Cleveland, but chose to spend a night in Knoxville on our way.  By the way, the drive over on I-40 is another scenic drive to take.  For some reason when I saw the welcome center sign and old Tennessee cabin, I went totally nostalgic.  I went in the center and selected attraction books for Knoxville, Gatlinburg, Nashville, and Chattanooga.  I just wanted to see what is new, and recall what we used to go see in these parts.  I felt like I was going back "home".

The sad part about going back home is that things were so familiar that I didn't take any pictures!!  Shame on me.  We drove through various subdivisions, past previous houses we had lived in.  Things just didn't look the same to us.  Much older, much more crowded.  We had considered Cleveland as our second area of where we might move to for the winter.  But the more we drove around, the less it seemed to call us back home.  

Cleveland is where we basically raised our sons, and we have great memories from those years.  We loved living in Cleveland, and in fact had never planned to move away, but God had other plans for us.  You would have to read my blog posts from "My Story - God's Story" to find out more about why we left.  

We made great friends while living in Cleveland, and we stayed with one of them...Marilyn.  She graciously opened her home to us...and made us feel so at home.  Even though we didn't want to put her to work serving us while we were there, she still made a delicious broccoli soup, and a Strawberry Lush Cheesecake to satisfy our sweet tooth.  She is always busy cooking for someone or some event at her church.  She wears me out just watching her!!  A true servant's heart, for sure!  I attended church with her on Sunday at the Church of the Nazarene, one of the churches we used to attend when we were living there.

Marilyn has a daily walking partner, but there were a couple of times she and I walked together.  Once was at the mall...and Cleveland has a very nice mall!  Great for walking, great for shopping.  Another time we walked on the Cleveland Greenway.  I am so impressed with Cleveland and what they have been creating for its citizens.  I believe the current Greenway extends four miles through the city, along Mouse Creek.  There are plans to continue to expand that.  It's a paved pathway for walkers, joggers, and bikers.  Here are some pictures I took from my two walks:

At one point the path goes past the Church of God Headquarters.  They invite pedestrians to walk through their prayer garden.  It's very serene, with some statues from the life of Christ.

The path is super convenient.  Along the way they have placed restrooms, drinking fountains, benches to sit and meditate or rest, and some whimsical the big chair.  And you never know who else will be out there enjoying the the family of ducks.

 There are even signs for thought:

Kudos to Cleveland for providing this community walkway!!

Paul had to fly out to Austin, Texas for a few days while I stayed behind in Cleveland.  That's another great thing going for Cleveland...the airport in Chattanooga is only about 20 miles away, easy to get to.  While he was gone, I spent time visiting another friend and going to some of my favorite spots...such as Jenkins Deli!  Across from Jenkins is a new, huge apartment complex...The Retreat at Spring Creek.  I took a tour of one of their apartments as a possible place to rent next winter.  Very nice.  It is also a gated community and has all the amenities, besides being across the street from Jenkins Deli.

Paul and I drove through historical downtown Cleveland and through the ever expanding campus of Lee University.  It's hard to believe I graduated from there in 1991.  It has changed so much.  That's another institution Cleveland can be proud of.  There was one sad thing to us about Cleveland...the Rolling Hills Golf Course is no longer in existence.  Westmore Church of God has purchased some of the grounds and will eventually be building their new sanctuary there.  For now they have been developing the area nicely.  The sad part are those sections of the old golf course that are still visible and terribly over grown.  We spent many hours on that golf was a very nice course back when.  Not sure why it went under.  

The city continues to grow, and there are so many new subdivisions.  The roads seem very busy, not as easy to get around as it used to be.  But Cleveland lacks for nothing.  It is still a great community...a wonderful place to raise a family.  

Our last night there we went out to eat with some friends from the past.  Bo mentioned to us that he had considered Crossville, TN as a place that might be nice to retire in.  So Paul and I decided when we left Cleveland to drive out across the Tennessee River up to Crossville.  On the way we drove through Dayton, home of the great Monkey Trial.  Here's a picture of the courthouse.

As we went across the river we were heading into the Cumberland Plateau, the highest plateau between the Rockies and the Smokies.
Back in the mid 1970's when Paul and I first moved to Cleveland, we got a postcard in the mail inviting us to come and visit Fairfield Glade in Crossville.  They would give us gas money and free golfing if we came to listen to their presentation of the development they were planning for that area.  Well, we went, had a great time golfing, but knew there was no way we were interested in purchasing property in middle Tennessee.  Oh, if we had only known what it was going to grow into!!

 Once we got into Crossville we drove by the Church of the Nazarene...a very nice location, right across from Walmart!!  It seemed to be a nice complex.  We hope to visit there some day.

We didn't waste much time in town, we headed out the 5-6 miles northeast on I-40 to the area of Fairfield Glade and went to the sales office to inquire about properties to rent, and to find out more about the Fairfield Glade of today, 40 years later.  It's so spread out.  They now have five golf courses (90 holes) and 11 lakes.  It has over 6 miles of walking paths. and more than 10 miles of nature and hiking trails.  They have recreational opportunities galore, and their own restaurants, shopping, and medical facilities.  The community is a 55+ community, but there is much to do for families visiting the area.  There are numerous housing options from condos/time share villas to grand single homes.  It's an amazing place.  And I only took one picture in the whole place, can you believe it?  

This is a picture of the largest lake, which I took as we were driving across the dam.  Isn't it beautiful?  I can just imagine what that setting must look like in the fall when the leaves are in their prime.  

 Besides the cheaper cost of living there, it is also an area of moderate year round temperatures.  The 2,000 feet elevation makes summers less humid and more mild.  We were told that when it snows, it is usually melted the next day.  Well, everything sounded great to us.  We got a packet of information and headed out to drive through some of the subdivisions, past the golf courses, and walk through some patio homes in a new area being developed.  And, yes, there are many rental possibilities.  For now it gave us a whole new area to research and consider for our escape from the Michigan winter.  If you want to learn more about Fairfield Glade, go to

Well, we were headed home, with miles to go.  Our next destination was Seymour, Indiana.  We had wanted to get a Marriott hotel in Louisville, but nothing was available.  An hour north in Seymour was the closest one available.  We drove through Louisville Friday night without a hitch, thinking it was one of our easiest times getting through the city.  We found out later that Saturday was the Kentucky Derby...thus the reason for no hotels being available.  Glad we didn't wait until Saturday to drive through!!  

Saturday morning we drove up to an outlet mall in Edinburgh.  We are hooked on  Clark shoes, so whenever we get near a store, we stop and shop.  When we left there we drove up highway 31 through the middle of the state until south of South Bend.  We went 20 across to Middlebury, Amish territory, an hour from home.  We met friends at Das Essenhaus for supper...the same friends we ate with on our night we took off, 25 days previous.  

It was good to be back home, but we both said it was one of our best trips...for just the two of us.  We had terrific weather and safety on the roads, and just enjoyed being together and observing the sights as we rolled along.  It did not settle the question for us about where we would live next winter, if given the opportunity, but it did give us plenty of options to think about and research!

For us, life is about honoring God, putting Him first in our lives, and following the path He has for us.   We don't know where that will lead, or when, but we trust in His wisdom.  We give Him our gratitude for this spring fling.  It was so refreshing to us, and inspiring.  We place our future in His hands.  He knows best, and His timing is best.  We desire to live simply and finish well!!

Spring Fling 2015 - Part 2

I could tell my previous post (Part 1) was getting pretty long, with all the inserted pictures.  It covered about 10 days of our 25 day trip through the southeast USA.  However, I took more pictures during that time than I did the next two weeks.  The first week we were vacationing, so to speak, and the next two weeks we were scouting for a place to live next winter.  And all the while we were enjoying the beauty of spring blooms.  Dogwoods and azaleas can't be beat...they just don't bloom long enough!

We have been attracted to Hendersonville, NC for over 15 years now.  We've made several trips through the area during those years, but this time we wanted to drive through subdivisions and drive past places I had seen on the internet last winter.  We are open to houses or condos, or as a last resort, apartments.  We feel it makes better sense to rent for a while to know we would want to live in an area before we actually purchased a home.  Besides, our house in Michigan has not yet sold, so we aren't in a position to buy.  

Michigan House on Campground

We left Atlanta early on Sunday morning to drive the three hour stretch up to Hendersonville, with the purpose of getting there in time to attend morning worship at the Church of the Nazarene.  It rained all the way, but it was a scenic drive up through northeast area we had not traveled through before.  We did make it in time, attended church, then went to the Cracker Barrel for lunch.  We drove around the town for a while until it was time to check into our lodging.

On Monday we awoke to sunshine, and we were ready to go scouting!  We wanted to see some of the local attractions that we had not seen before.  Just a little south of Hendersonville is the village of Flat Rock, which is an area I had seen several places to rent or purchase.  So we started in that section, and we stopped at the village strip that had some rainbow colored little shops of interest.

My favorite store was "The Wrinkled Egg".  I love that picture of the chicken laying a wrinkled egg!  Cute...funny!!  This shop had several sections...children's toys, home deco, women's clothing...a very nice place to browse.  But my favorite area was where I made a new friend...Lola, the bunny.  Isn't she sweet????

 We then drove down the road a ways to see what Kenmure Golf Community was about.  Oh, my goodness!  We pulled into paradise!!

This picture represents the absolute best of the beauty of spring!!  This golf course community is set in the foothills of the Smokies, and there were many homes up the hillsides...some secluded, and some in clusters.  The golf course itself was simply pristine!

 We went into the Kenmure Club House, an old plantation style house, to inquire about rentals during the off season.  By the way, this is a gated community, and the course is a private course.  We found out that we can rent furnished condos there at about half the price they rent for in season.  That would include the amenities of dining at the club house, using the indoor pool, working out in their gym, and the privilege of golfing for a reduced fee.  Wow.  It seemed like a dream for us to be able to spend the winter on a golf course where we could be out swinging our clubs instead of shoveling snow out of our driveway back in Michigan!!

The Historic Courthouse sets right in the middle of Hendersonville's main street.  It's being refurbished as a museum, but it wasn't open when we were there.  Main street is several blocks of stores and restaurants in a shopper friendly setting.  On Labor Day weekend, they close off the street to traffic and bring in the bands and vendors and all the hoopla to celebrate Apple Festival.  


 What drew us to consider Hendersonville as a possible place to retire is the setting of the town.  It's just south of Asheville, NC about 25 miles, but it's set more on a plateau.  You can see the Smokies rising up in the distance.  Also the town is a smaller town, with a population of about 15,000.  Yet it has everything it takes to make a great community to live in:  good shopping, lots of restaurants, scenic sights, numerous churches, and a good year round climate.  It has the four seasons, but not as drastic!  It's also just a six hour drive to Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head, where we like to head when we go to the ocean.

We were enticed to have a steak at Binion's Roadhouse.  There was another vehicle that must have decided to stay awhile, since the food was so good!

We spent one night down in Flat Rock and then spent a couple of nights in the Marriott Fairfield Inn by the Asheville Airport.  Went browsing at one of our favorite furniture stores, Ashley Furniture.  Then it was time for the next leg of our journey...heading to Knoxville, TN.

Actually, this probably makes for a good breaking point in this blog post.  I thought I could do the whole 3 week trip in one post, then decided two would be better.  Now I'm thinking I should make it three.  I had more pictures than I realized.  So...I'll be back!!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Spring Fling 2015 - Part 1

We weathered another winter in Michigan, and decided we owed it to ourselves to head south for a spring fling in April.  We had a wonderful 3,200 mile journey through the southeast USA, taking about 25 days to make this trip.  Our main purpose was to find a location that we thought would be a good place to spend next winter, as we would like to think we have had enough winters in Michigan.  Summers are delightful here, and we plan to keep our cottage on the Indian Lake Campground and make the trek back to Michigan during the summer months...should we be fortunate enough to escape the winters here.

Our first destination point was Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.  However, we took two days getting there as we prefer to take our time on the side roads of America to see what we can see.  Six hours traveling per day is about our max.  Our first night was spent in Lima, Ohio.  We had eaten at Texas Roadhouse in Kalamazoo, Michigan with friends, and headed out after supper for the first short stretch.  Not that we were anxious to get on our way or anything!

As we traveled down through southeast Ohio I noted in the Atlas that we would be in the vicinity of Bob Evans Farm, where history was made in the form of delicious breakfast sausage.  We decided to take a side trip through Rio Grande and see the farm.  I toured through the family homestead (Bob and his wife had six children, and this house was purchased as a place they could grow up and have lots of land to play on).  

The farmhouse is now a museum, but the kitchen was kept exactly the same as it was when Bob and Jewell perfected their sausage.  TV cameras came in to make their advertisements of Bob Evans sausage in the spot where it was created.

Our second night on the road was spent in Wytheville, Virginia, after coming through part of the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia and the capital of Charleston.  As we drove down through North Carolina, through the Charlotte area, we began to notice how green everything was.  We love the blooming season of springtime.  It had not quite started when we left Michigan, so this was a treat to us, coming out of "winter" into Spring!!  From brown and gray to green...from death to life!!

We arrived at our Hilton Head resort late afternoon on a Friday and unpacked and settled in.  Our villa overlooked the pool, and beyond was the Atlantic Ocean!!  What a beautiful sight!  I could hardly wait to get down to the ocean front to walk on the white sandy beaches.  

Joining us for the weekend at our resort were good friends we met in the camping industry.  They are camp directors at the Nazarene Camp in Adrian, Georgia.  After they got checked in and unpacked, we headed out to Shelter Cove for our evening meal (we call it supper) at a really scrumptious Mexican restaurant, San Miguel's.  

The next morning we strolled along the ocean front a mile down the beach to Coligny Plaza, several stores and restaurants spread across a few blocks...a popular tourist spot.  On the way, we came across quite a few "items" on the beach, almost buried in the sand.  I had to ask what they were.

 The item on the left is a jelly fish, which probably comes in with high tide and gets left stranded (my uneducated guess).  The item on the right appeared to be a large tortoise, perhaps having been partially eaten by a shark????  Below is another look at a jelly fish, to compare for size.

Mid-day we drove to Skull Creek Boathouse at the Marina at Port Royal Sound to have a seafood meal...everyone except me...I had to have a hamburger as I don't care much for seafood.  After our meal we drove to the other end of Hilton Head Island to Harbor Town.  The lighthouse was once thought to be a folly of it's builder, but now it is the distinguishing icon for Hilton Head.  This particular weekend, following on the heels of the Augusta National Open golf tournament, golfers and fans were arriving at Hilton Head for the annual Heritage Classic golf tournament.  It's good we went there on Saturday, as by Sunday you couldn't get into that area without a pass, and it was bumper to bumper traffic.  

You can see how some traveled in for the action:

We climbed the 113 steps to the top of the lighthouse and looked upon the picturesque sight.  To the right is the view of the 18th fairway, all set up for the event.

It wasn't that busy on Saturday, and we wandered through the shops, had some ice cream, and sat out on the porch for a while.  Isn't the Liberty Oak an amazing tree!!

We headed back to our resort, Marriott Grande Ocean.  Here's another view from our balcony (second floor).  The resort is absolutely stunning, with so many courtyards, pools, and other outdoor amenities.  Enjoy some of these views:

I enjoyed my daily walks out at the ocean side.  Lots of other walkers, joggers, bikers, strollers, families, sunbathers, swimmers, and dog walkers.  Also some fine-feathered friends.

High Tide

We made a trip down to Savannah on Sunday to attend church with our friends Jeff and Peggy, and then went down to historic River Street to eat lunch.  As they headed back home, we hopped on a trolley to tour the historical sights of Savannah.

 There are many city squares, each with statues or fountains or other artifacts pertaining to Savannah's colorful history.  We passed by several churches and houses commemorating historical events.  At one point Forrest Gump got on the trolley to talk to us about how they made a movie of him.  If you preferred, you could take a horse and carriage tour.  

It was hard to capture pictures on the trolley...too many other people in the way.  And there was so much to learn about the city, that I couldn't keep up with it all.  I know Girl Scouts was founded there, perhaps in the house above???  Also, we went by Paula Dean's famous restaurant.

I had heard about Tybee Island, but had never been there, or really knew much about it.  We drove out there after our tour was over.  I guess it's where the people in Savannah go when they want to go to the beach.  Here are a few pictures: 

We left Hilton Head after a week of total relaxation.  We had very nice weather, lots of good food, and just enjoyed some laid back time at the resort at the putting green, the shuffleboard court, and reading a book by the poolside.  One day we went into Bluffton to an outlet mall, but we aren't much for shopping.  Went more just to walk around.  

When we left the Island, we headed to Adrian Camp and Conference Center...the Georgia District Church of the Nazarene camp.  It was one more chance to be with our friends.  I happened to stand on top of a fire ant colony at one point, but quickly realized my error.  Those are the smallest of ants, with the biggest of bites!!

We drove on into Atlanta, where we spent two nights.  Our purpose there was to go to Stone Mountain and see the laser show on Saturday night.  We went to an Ikea store, just because we had never been to one.  It was time for Mexican food again, so we ate at one of our favorite restaurants...On the Border.

We had not been to Stone Mountain since going there with our sons back in the 80's.  It's a natural phenomenon that you need to check out on-line, if not a personal visit.  The park has changed quite a bit since our last visit, but there is still a train running around the base of the mountain.  We were fortunate to catch an early spring laser show, which is shown on the side of the mountain after sunset, with lots of animation set to music.  To give you a perspective of the size of the carving on the side of the mountain, when it was being carved, a man stood inside the ear of one of the figures.  The figures are the leaders of the Confederate side of the Civil War:  Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis.  If you are ever in the area (20 miles east of Atlanta), this is an experience you must check out!!

 Well...I'm only about half way through our trip.  I think I'll break this blog post into two parts.  Come back soon for Part 2!