Monday, August 8, 2016

Tennessee ~ East Port Marina/Sgt. York State Park

Originally posted: October 24, 2014

I’m still recovering emotionally from the damage I carefully managed to my travel trailer home.  I went to visit my brother in Tennessee. Ol’ Dave, as he calls himself, has himself been on the physical mend following open-heart surgery about six months ago. It was good to see him, but clearly he wasn’t well enough to assist in my repair job. Neither was the surrounding business climate ready to assist in ordering repair parts. Between un-returned local phone inquiries and no such equipped dealers or retailers within 100 miles, it was clear that my visit with my only living brother would suffice.

The closest town is about 15 miles through rough and tumble, up and down, twists and turns back roads. As in my West Virginia experience, there is no such thing as how “the crow flies”. Oh, the crows fly right and the hawks still fly high circles, but forget about straight and level roads here. One could almost forget about civilization except that electric power, city water and cable TV are available – with the customary poles and wires – thus spoiling the hillside view of valleys below in certain directions. However, there is much peace and quiet here to be sure.

Through the cable TV company, Internet service is available, but wireless routers aren’t needed, so I must jack-in when I use their service. I haven’t done that in a long while. In some weird way, it reminded me of the movie, “The Matrix” in that I’m living in the real world and have to physically jack-in to the Internet, i.e. The Matrix. Yes, I do watch too many movies, I’m afraid.

Together, we’ve all been to Johnstown a couple of times, but I always rode in Dave’s mini-van. Yesterday, we were going to combine trips – see some local sights and circle back to do some shopping. Getting a late start and a revised-on-the-fly itinerary, we never made it to town. Always being a city-boy, myself, and near all the conveniences of city living such as shopping, entertainment venues, grocery stores and gas stations, being in the country has given me a new perspective.

So, yesterday, out of pure boredom, I expect, Dave’s wife, Barbie suggested that today’s weather would be the best of the week and that a day of leaf-peeping and seeing the local sights might be in order.  The idea sounded good to me, too. We loaded ourselves into my car, which needed some fuel anyway and headed out to the nearby East Port Marina. Why there? I don’t know. I suppose just because it was there.

Barbie points toward their home - not far as the crow flies, but a lot longer by twisted roadways.
We arrived and took in the scenery. Dave is not a well man so his participation was pulled from him rather than volunteered. Clearly, this was Barbie’s idea. We took a quick tour along the docks and went inside the marina shop and looked around. Along one of the walls was a very nice display of preserved native animals. I was especially attracted to this Bobcat among the coyote, wild turkey, deer and various species of fish.

Local Bobcat preserved on display.
I picked up a free visitors guide and looked through it while we waited for a quick snack of friend cheese sticks and marinara sauce. From the angle of the sun, it seemed early in the day. I haven’t worn a watch since I decided to retire. I don’t know why I just don’t sell them all.

Local fisherman prepares to pull-out his fishing boat after an early morning catch.
Dale Hollow Lake is a huge recreational area for fishing, skiing and boating of all kinds. Anyone can rent one of these house/party boats for a week or weekend with enough cash and a one-hour tour and training lesson. Clearly, this boat is for the wealthy or a corporate party outing.

It's for rent. If you have to ask, you can't afford it. I didn't ask, either.
We decided to visit a couple more marinas, but when they charged a gate fee – all I wanted to do was take some photos – I declined their generous offer to pay only $5.00 per car. Instead, we returned to the beautiful bridge over the lake and I took aerial perspective photos from there. It was good enough. By then, I’m ready to move on. What’s next?

Just one of many marinas on this lake - shot from a bridge, not a helicopter. Ha-ha.
On the route back, we passed right by Pall Mall, Tennessee – the lifelong home of Sgt. Alvin C. York. Many people today, who haven’t been taught the history of individual Americans who made a difference in their lives, won’t remember anything at all about Alvin York. Perhaps to jog the memory, one might have seen the old black and while film starring Gary Cooper.

Sgt. Alvin C. York was an American Hero of WW-I. I saw his story in the movie. Some guts, this man.

Formerly a General Store, now has become the Welcome Center for the Alvin C. York State Park.
It is sad that all we know about the man who – for religious reasons – was a “conscientious objector” to fighting in World War I, but became a national hero for his devotion and service to his country in France is from that film. Visiting here and following a brief tour, I came away with the feeling that the story of this true American’s spirit should NOT be lost to history, but somehow re-instilled into the hearts of this century’s American youth. That is a story for another time.

After his return from the Great War, Alvin York also operated this grist mill.

A section of the artificial waterfall created to operate the grist mill.
Today, I must make the journey to town to get a few grocery items, re-fill one of my 20 pound propane tanks at the Co-op and mail a couple of things. As I heard some complaints about my driving too fast, yesterday, today, I’ll travel alone this time. I could have said the same thing about his driving the other day as we went down the road to cut some free firewood from of a fallen tree by the roadside. All drivers are critical of other drivers when they ride shotgun or peer over the back seat at the GPS on my dashboard which indicated my speed versus the posted speed limits. For the record, I was always under the limit.

I used to smile at folks who came to town once or twice monthly for restocking groceries and replacing worn items or repair parts – now I totally understand. Traveling these twisty, hilly back roads is stressful – at least to me. Now I’m thinking, how am I going to get my little travel trailer out of here and back to civilization? When I arrived, I caught the unmistakable aroma of burning brake pads on my GMC Envoy. Going the other way, I am sure to stress the engine and transmission to the maximum pulling this loaded trailer. What else is a brother to do?

Down the road and around the bend and up the hill a bit from my brother's acreage is this typical view of Tennessee.

Its turning cooler now and I should be heading south for the winter – like the snow bird I aspire to be. Visiting with my brother is more important to me now.

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