Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around us...to touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

Our Friends

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Birthplace of Helen Keller

           
After visiting the Wichahpi Stone Wall, we made our way to an area called Rock Springs.   Rock Springs is about a 20 minute walk along the Colbert Creek.  Here you have to walk on stone stepping blocks in the creek in order to get to the other side.  I was a little hesitant on the first step but once I realized they were sturdy everything was good.  We crossed over to the other side and immediately saw a fairly large beaver dam.  I know I have lived a sheltered life because Mike couldn't believe I had never seen a real beaver dam before!!  I just wish the little beavers had shown up to say hi!!  This is a nicely marked path with signage along the way telling about native birds in the area, the beaver dam and the effects of such a dam and native plants we might see along the way.  We did see my favorite, the hummingbird!!   There was even a bench to sit and watch for the wildlife or take a rest.
 

The Beaver Dam, notice the bench under the trees in the background        


After visiting Wichahpi and then this very nice and serene hike along Colbert Creek, we decided to call it a day and make our way back to the campground.

There were lots of other things we could have seen and toured in the area but we were only going to be here two days and one thing high on my list to see was the birthplace of Helen Keller.  It is located in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

We drove up to a beautiful home situated on a lovely yard and garden!!  Helen Keller was actually born in the cottage next door to this main house.  The main home was built in 1820 and originally sat on 640 acres.  There were enormous amounts of ivy growing in and around the house and cottage and thus the home became known as Ivy Green.
   
               
The famous well pump is located between the cottage and the main house.  Anne Sullivan who became Helen's teacher tried to teach Helen the word water by slowly pumping cool water over her hand and spelling the word  w-a-t-e-r  in alphabet code  Suddenly Helen got it and by the end of the day Helen had learned 30 words.  An incredible achievement for what was actually a wild child!!

The Original Well Pump that springboard her learning words
The grounds at Ivy Green consist of buildings surrounded by 150 year old English boxwood, magnolia trees, mimosa and other trees.  One called the "moon tree" because the seeds that it grew from actually went to the moon.  There are lots of manicured ivy, roses, honeysuckle and smilax.  The grounds are just beautiful.
             


Helen Keller grew to be a most incredible woman!!  She spent her life trying to improve  the conditions of the blind and deafblind around the world.  Her teacher, Anne Sullivan is remembered as "The Miracle Worker."   Together they became known around the world.
       
Helen with Alexander Graham Bell.  He convinced her parents that she needed a teacher.
This is the Cottage where Helen was born.  It is next to the house.
Helen Keller passed away June 1,1968 at the age of 87.  She is buried with her two teachers, Anne Sullivan and Polly Thomson at The Washington Cathedral.
         
Tomorrow we will begin our travels back to Auburn and our "home" base at Chewacla State Park.  We will work on getting the tag for our truck and a few other things along with visiting our son before heading to Rainbow Plantation, an Escapees Park in Summerdale, Alabama!!  It's been awhile since we have been there so we look forward to returning and enjoying the many places we fell in love with several years ago.  We are feeling excited!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Eight and a Half Million Pounds of Stones

                               
We left Memphis and T. O. Fuller State Park around 9:15 Monday morning.  We headed east toward Florence, Alabama!!  We had an easy drive on "blue" roads until the last 15 miles and that is when we entered the Natchez Trace!!!  It"s no secret that we love this drive!!  Those of you that have been on it understand....its peaceful, quiet and easy going!!  Did I mention not too crowded either??  We followed this portion of the Trace until we exited on highway 2 to Florence.  We stopped at Colbert Ferry and ate a quick lunch!!  This is the area that Chickasaw George Colbert operated a stand and ferry in the early 1800s.  There is not much left to see of this ferry except the Tennessee River!!          

We made our way into Florence to McFarland Park Campground.  This is a huge city park named McFarland Park that also includes a campground.  There are sites that overlook the Tennessee River and then some that simply have a view.  All sites are concrete, clean and pretty level.  All have full hookups.  The price is $25.00 per night and seniors pay $20.00.  Our site backs up to the river with a gorgeous view!!                
The view from our back window 
Our site on the river
Looking to the right of our site
We quickly unhooked and got set up and headed out to one of the places that was a "must see" on our list!!  Wichahpi Stone Wall!!!  We have our fellow RVer and blogger, Milia, to thank for this awesome find.  She drove the Natchez Trace several years ago and wrote about it in her blog.  Very detailed and she included this amazing place!!                    

                                                   

A little history::  Tom Hendrix worked on building this stone wall for over 30 years in memory and honor of his great-great-grandmother's journey.  Her name was Te-lah-nay and she was part of the Yuchi Indian tribe that lived along the Tennessee River in the 1800s.            

She and her sister were part of the Trail of Tears and sent from their home here on the Tennessee River to Oklahoma.  Her tribe had called the Tennessee River the Singing River because they believed a woman lived in the river and she sang to them.  When she arrived in Oklahoma she no longer heard the "singing river."   She spent one winter in Oklahoma and decided to return to her beloved Singing River.  Her walk back to this area from Oklahoma alone using all the skills her grandmother had taught her took five years!!!!                

After hearing of this story from Te-lah-nay's grandmother Tom knew he wanted to do something in her memory and honor!!  In a conversation with an elder of the Yuchi tribe he was told, "All things shall pass.  Only the stones will remain."  It was then he knew what he would do.
To Mr. Hendrix the wall is a mile long holy place that winds through his property.  It has never been advertised....simply a place that "if you build it they will come." Please click HERE to read this story.
           

         


                   

After walking the length of the wall, Charlie Two Moons, a spiritual person, said:
"The wall does not belong to you, Brother Tom.  It belongs to all people.  You are just the keeper.  I will tell you that it is wichahpi, which means "like the stars."  When they come, some will ask, "Why does it bend, and why is it higher and wider in some places than in others?"  Tell them it is like your great-great-grandmother's journey, and their journey through life ---it is never straight."

Mr. Tom Hendrix passed away February 24, 2017.  He was 83 years old.















Monday, October 9, 2017

Memphis Day Two

We weren't going to be in Memphis but for two days!  We already knew that we would not be touring Graceland.  I know it would be a great tour and who wouldn't want to see the mansion Elvis Presley lived in?  But being a Sunday the crowds were enormous!!  I am also big on authentic and the way things have built up all around where the mansion probably sits is definitely not authentic any longer.  Oh, the mansion might be but the surroundings sure weren't!!  That will be for another trip at another time!
                   




We decided to visit the Lorraine Motel!  We all know who Martin Luther King Jr is but in case someone has forgotten he headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and through his inspirational speeches and non-violent activism he played a huge role in ending segregation of African American citizens in this country.  He also was instrumental in creating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
                 

Unfortunately his life was cut short on April 4, 1968 by an assassin's bullet.  Martin Luther King Jr. was shot as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

As we stood there looking at the very spot where his life ended you can't help but wonder how much more he could have done had he lived longer??  Evil always has a tendency to target the good!!  It was a sobering moment!!

We had noticed a sign at the entrance to T.O.Fuller State Park that said "to Chucalissa Museum" and we both had been wondering what exactly that was.  So as we made our way back to the campground we decided to pay a visit and see for ourselves.
         



C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa cares for the Mississippian culture and this archaeological site known as Chucalissa.   Chucalissa is a Walls Phase mound and plaza complex that was occupied and abandoned and reoccupied several times from 1000 to 1550 C.E.  Chucalissa means "abandoned house" in Choctaw.  This site features  a Mississippian mound complex which was the place of the chief's temple.  Around the mound were grass huts that studies lead to think 4 adults and several children lived in each hut.  This area is now declared a National Historic Landmark.
Amazing what you can discover by simply driving down a road and getting curious!!  A great lesson in history here!!                


Replica of how things probably looked
Inside the model hut



We came back to the campground and I decided to do a load of laundry while the washer and dryer were not being used.  Getting to use both at one time sure speeds things along.  We went ahead and hooked up the camper so we could get an early start on Monday morning.

Our plans are to head east toward Florence, Alabama and attempt to do some of the things we were hoping to do before Nate decided to visit Alabama!!  So far no rain on our parade!!  We'll see what tomorrow holds!!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

We're Outta Here AND Here We Go Again

The part we were waiting on finally arrived Friday around 10:00.  Dometic was good on their word and everything needed arrived promptly.   We had added a few upgrades to the list of warranty items and maintenance items and the last of those were installed Friday as well.  We picked up our Ollie at around 4:00 and decided to stay in our spot next to the sales office one more night!  We had water and electric and a grassy level spot at just the right price...free!!!  We even had a fellow Oliver owner for a neighbor last night!!        
We added a Easy Start for our air conditioner that will enable us to run it off a 2000w generator.  With the new mother board added to the Dometic Penquin AC we also acquired a new thermostat and it seems like the AC is now quieter!!
We added a new keyless entry lock that is far more substantial for security!!  We really like this upgrade a lot!!        
We changed our day/night shades to white!!  This is a huge upgrade since the fiberglass is white and what was installed originally were off white kinda yellowish.  Not what you would expect against white fiberglass.  It seems the shade company originally claimed they could only do the off white color but suddenly they began sending white!  It really looks much better, cleaner, less faded and just like it should look!! We are happy!!
       
The Old Shades with our lamp light on and old cabinets above
The new shades without our lamp due to the warranty work done.  

               
New cabinets above and notice the old yellowish beige shades
All in all our experiences were good and all warranty work completed as well as upgrades and maintenance!!

As we began planning our return to Auburn to finish the tag process for our truck we got a text message from our son telling us to monitor the weather.  We had not been watching much TV and our  cell coverage sporatic so we were not up on the latest hurricane...Nate!
We quickly turned on the weather to see that Nate is heading right in the direction we were heading!!
Oh no!!!  Not again!!!

All our plans to head toward Florence, Alabama and see the area of the Natchez Trace there were off!!  First, the area was scheduled for several inches of rain, the wind was going to be rather gusty into the 35 to 40 mph range and campgrounds appeared full.          
Crossing the Tennessee River
In looking at the weather and the map we decided to leave Hohenwald Tennessee and head west!  This should take us out of the biggest part of any damaging winds.  Rain?  That's another question...probably not but that's ok!   We located a state park just outside of Memphis, Tennessee called T.O. Fuller State Park.          


Our site here at the state park

We arrived at T.O. Fuller State Park around 4:00 and quickly found our site, #41.  We back into the woods on a nice asphalt parking pad.  It is quite level with space between us and our neighhor.  It also has a brand new picnic table.  That might not seem big to some but we've had the oldest, rattiest picnic table at Chewacla, our home base!
After we got set up and chillaxed, we came here for some good Memphis barbecue
May not look like a lot, but the food was good
I had a sandwich and Mike had the Barbecue Plate
We didn't expect to be here but isn't life an adventure!!

Prayers for those in the Gulf area and in the path of this latest storm!!  Stay safe!!