End of TN trip with the Longways

After our storm experience, the weather was fantastic and we continued to show off our wonderful state.

The wonderful Carnton Plantation, used as a hospital for the wounded from the infamous Battle of Franklin, was top on our list to show our guests. Blood stains are still on the floor from the surgeries performed on the thousands of wounded.

Besides the main house, there are outbuildings, including a slave house.

This is also the site of the largest private military cemetery.

The mistress of the house kept records of those buried, and continued to wear mourning clothes for the rest of her life. The book, “Widow of the South“, is a great novel based on this plantation and it’s mistress (Especially those interested in the civil war).
There is also a beautiful garden, and springtime is a great time to enjoy! (And this particular day, lots of cicadas!!)

The following day, we traveled to Franklin via the back roads. This is our kind of travel! We passed several historic mansions built in the 1800’s, all private residences. Besides crossing the Tennessee Valley Divide and the edge of the US territory in 1801, there were several towns I had never heard of:
Williamsport, a quaint little town with the historical African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME),

and old barns.

Water Valley, with the metal-sided buildings.

The area got the name from a devastaing flood in 1874, when Lieper’s Creek swelled over its banks and caused lots of damage. It is one of Maury County’s first settlements.
McKnight Station Train Depot near Bethel,

and Boston, where, in 1801, the U.S. territory ended.
And one we had heard of… Lieper’s Fork!

Then on to Franklin to do some antiquing!

Sunday after church we came back on another road, through Mt. Pleasant. On the way we saw more historical plantations (mostly hidden from the road), and St. John’s church and cemetery.

Mt. Pleasant was a smaller town than we had expected. There is a monument honoring the Confederate soldiers.

After we got back, the golf cart parade came by about 6 PM on Sunday afternoon, led by the hayride!

Today, Memorial Day, we are relaxing, having a lazy, contemplative day. For many, especially in war zones, it will not be.
To all veterans, as well as current members of the service, THANK YOU for your service!

Time With Longways, Week 2

Our second week with John and Barbara has been busy.
We drove through downtown Nashville, stopping at the Old Fort Nashborough

and touring the Parthenon, built for the 1897 Centenniel Exposition, it is a full scale replica of the original one in Greece.

Then we drove on east to the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home

and gravesite.

Sunday, we took them to our church, then met the kids at our house for pizza in the afternoon. Nate gave them the grand tour of his house before he had to go to work.

Monday we visited the Carter House in Franklin where the five bloodiest hours of the “War of Northern Aggression” occurred. Thousands of bullet holes still mark the buildings.

And then got the grand tour of Karyn’s house
Nate and Chris came out to stay on Monday night and stayed until Wednesday. They got a taste of what retirement was like…. eat and sleep and sit and talk!! Tuesday we took a hike (more like a walk) at Fall Hollow.

Wednesday we visited Hohenwald, visiting an antique store (where we got some good deals) and junk (and I mean junk) stores!
It is a cute town, large enough to have a Walmart, an Elephant preserve (not open to the public) and has a great little park with this gazebo at the center.

Wednesday night, we were under severe storm warning. Hail was expected, so we covered the jeep as best as possible to avoid damage.

Poor John and Barbara, they already had hail damage to the hood and top of their tow vehicle from Oklahoma storm before they got here!
Paul then went to bed at 9…. John, Barbara and I went to the clubhouse at the campground to watch the progression of the storm on TV as it moved from the west toward us. Since living here, I do not remember seeing such a massive storm front headed in our direction! We all went to the basement when the TV went out about 11:30.

It hit with straight line winds of 60 miles per hour at about midnight, and Paul decided the rocking in the RV was a bit rough, so headed to shelter as well. We were treated to a concert by the WeaverBelievers again, and it made the rest of the time go fast!

It was a great party! We got back to the RV about 1:30AM.
The next morning as we headed out we could see a lot of very large old trees split and huge branches down.
Since we were in the Spring Hill area on Thursday, we stopped by the house and all was well there. There were some large tree branches across the street that were down, but none in our yard, and none caused damage. So we praise the Lord for his protection of us and our property!

Time With Longways, Week 1

By this time, we were supposed to be inundated with the 13-year cicadas! So far, we have heard only a few in select areas, close to home. Wonder what happened? I personally think it is because we bought into the “I survived the Cicada” bumper sticker and poster!

But we are more than glad, since we are camping on the Natchez Trace with Barbara and John, my sister and brother-in-law.
Actually, I checked a site that showed they were not going to be in Lawrence County, where we are camped! Guess they know where the county lines are!

Barbara and John got here on Monday, May 16, after getting lost in the last 5 miles…… those country roads with no names always cause a problem…

Tuesday we visited Jack Daniel’s Distillery (We did not choose the order of our sightseeing….. just have a list of things to show them in Tennessee!!)

stopping first in the town of Lynchburg for lunch at the BBQ Caboose Restaurant.

Wednesday, we got our shopping fix in Lawrenceburg, including Big Lots, Fred’s and Walmart!!
But we also stopped at the Amish Country Mall in Ethridge, where Paul found a treasure… a curved yoke, something that he has envisioned having for sometime.

On the way back to camp, we decided to just head west along on a road and were delighted to find ourselves driving past several Amish farms, a couple of cute Amish children pulling a wagon, (no pictures out of respect for their privacy) and a small deserted Methodist church.

Thursday we started early in the morning and toured Shiloh National Park and Cemetery. No amount of pictures show the scope of this national memorial!
Cannons and signs indicated timelines where the battle was fought.

Many monuments have been placed to honor those who fought and died during the two-day battle.

Lunch was at Catfish Hotel, a place located just before the entrance to the park. It was right on the river, family owned, and has been serving catfish since 1938!
Barbara had her first catfish (and was not impressed).

A day in the campground was needed to relax on Friday. In the evening,
we were privileged and delighted to have an impromptu mini-concert out on the lawn by the Weaver Believer Survival Revival, a Christian group of 10 family members who were camped here, and are professional singers.

……and a great time was had by all!

Disaster Relief, Cleveland, TN, May 2011

No matter how many pictures of this tornado-damaged area you see, it is not the same as actually being there!

We were contacted by our disaster relief coordinator at church last Sunday and asked if we would be willing to join the chain saw team to help out in Cleveland, TN. Cleveland is east of Chattanooga, 5th largest industrial city in Tennessee. We had not heard about the damage caused on Wednesday, April 27, in East Tennessee. In a 12-hour period, six tornadoes hit this town. We worked in the light orange-colored section.

We heard about the storm damage in Alabama…. this was the same storm that kept on going, and going, and going!!

West Franklin Baptist Church rented a van, so all seven of us were able to go together in one vehicle. We fully expected to sleep on the floor in the gym, but the Lord provided a great host and hostess that offered their extra rooms, accommodating all of us.

We ate all but one dinner and all of our breakfast meals at the high school cafeteria (school was closed for the week due to the disaster). School reopens on Monday, so the disaster relief will be moving to Lee University campus to continue to serve the community.

We usually got a sack lunch at the Waterville Baptist Church, were the staging area was located.

Many times during the day, folks would stop by to offer drinks and snacks as we worked…. definitely did not go hungry!

The properties we were assigned had already been taken care of, so we drove around a bit to find homeowners that needed help in removing trees from their yards. Most had already got help in getting the front cleared for entry into their homes.
During our drive around, we saw some of the devastation.

Seeing vehicles buried or completely damaged,

boats completely unrecognizable

and homes without roof or walls, with rooms still intact (and the clock on the wall still runs!)

all located in blocks with flattened homes, makes you realize the strength and power of these funnels!

Neighborhood convenience store was completely destroyed, with sodas, beer, and other items strewn across the parking lot!

And toys in the neighborhoods strewn as well .

Imagine….your house completely demolished, but the fifth-wheel still there!

We were told the house across from this white house was lifted up and dropped behind it… and the young couple and their young child crawled out from under it, and survived!!

We were soon able to help five adjoining property owners.
The first property owner we helped out was an elderly lady, Betty, that had a very large pine tree that had fallen,

The birds kept coming around…wondering what had happened to their homes as well.

The huge root popped back into the ground when the trunk was cut off!

On the second day there, it started raining after lunch, so we quit about two hours early. We got back just as our hostess was going out to help make lunches for the following day. So I joined her and others at the First Baptist Church to make 110 sandwiches and pack lunches.

The First Baptist Church will be hosting one of the schools beginning Monday, as it was totally destroyed. We did not see the former school.

The second was just next door. The property owner was Robert, “a little old man” who could barely walk unassisted and was a little confused by all that was happening, and what he should do. One of the trees on the first property had fallen over and hit a shed behind the carport.

A couple of boards were entangled in the tree.

As with all of the properties, teamwork was key to getting the job done!

We were amazed there was no damage to the roof of the shed!

When we looked across the street from these two properties, we were amazed at the huge mass of trees fallen on what appeared to be a vacant lot. Next to it was our third property. With six trees laying in his back yard, Harry kept telling us that others needed more help than he did! We agreed, but told him we could not help them…. they had lost everything, and we were there to help those needing help with their yard. He was very grateful. He even got his electricity turned back on by the end of the week…. can you imagine 10 days without electricity?

We were encouraged when a group from Lee University stopped and offered us water, and stayed to help!!

We also had a little fun, bowling with the logs!


Next door to him, the landlord came by to look at her property. She had no insurance and four trees laying on top of her house, and more on the ground. It looked daunting to me, but after discussion, the crew chiefs felt we could handle the job.

The trees were holding each other up so far, a ladder was needed to “attack” the limbs!

Notice the 2×4 through the twisted trunk of the tree!! We tried to get it out but it was really jammed in there!!


After a closer look, it was determined that the last log needed heavy equipment to remove it, and it was too risky and dangerous for us to tackle.

Partly through the clean up, the renter’s son came to remove more belongings, and told us he had a friend that would come and cut up the logs. That saved us a lot of time and energy!

In the meantime, Harry had told his neighbor, Gerry (whose wife has liver cancer) about us coming and that maybe we could help him as well. Turned out the vacant lot across the street from our first two, and adjacent to our third property, was actually his back yard and he had a buried driveway and mangled shed under the mess! So we cleared his back driveway so he could get to the shed. He told us that he had talked to volunteers, but all were overwhelmed by it and said they could not do it. The focus of first responders is to get the property owner access to their homes and clear the immediate area around the house, rather than the yard itself, especially an empty lot. But we all felt like it was where the Lord wanted us. He was actually pretty overwhelmed and it would have taken him years, what we accomplished in a day. We also wanted to encourage Harry, since he could not figure out why he was there, when others had died, and he was old, very depressed, useless and discouraged with life. Going through something like that, you go through the same steps as you do when grieving. He was at the step where guilt had set in and he was having a hard time getting past it. He was tickled he could help his neighbor by getting help for him through us.

We focused first on the driveway, as some of the crew finished up at the fourth property, some came to start the clearing of the driveway.

Randall had a hard time getting started, there was so much vegetation twisted and tangled together!!

Some of the Lee University group came back, as did our hostess, and Harry’s sister. So we had extra help with the work again, and were able to accomplish more on that lot than we thought possible!

When the driveway was cleared, we all moved on to the rest of the property.


We even uncovered the shed, which had been lifted up, turned around and dropped back down!

It seemed we were just moving the mess, and making more piles; but this time, the piles were by the road waiting for the road crews to come by to either pick up or mulch. Every street was lined with six foot high and six foot deep piles of debris, tree limbs, and leaves!
Piles from the first and second properties,

third property,

fourth property,

and fifth property,

We appreciate your prayers this past week, for us as well as those who we were privileged to help! We were able to share our faith with them and witness to them, and hopefully plant a seed.

We did a lot of pulling, lifting, hoisting, and dragging!
But it is always more of a blessing to us to serve those in need.

Variety is the spice of our life!

Paul’s latest project has been an arbor for our side yard. We have grand plans for this area, which will include a pond and sitting area, and this is step one.

It all started with Paul getting a fabulous, beautiful redwood door…..that we brought with us to TN…. knowing one day we would have a use for it.

We had Tegan overnight a couple of weeks ago, so it was Hailey’s turn this week to be over, and of course make chocolate chip cookies!

She also enjoys her cartoons. After I took this picture she moved in chairs and wanted to share them with all of the babies (Cabbage Patch dolls) that live here. Those Cabbage Patch babies just don’t seem to grow up!!

One day last week we happen to see an article in the paper, telling about an open house that day at the Spring Hill Manufacturing Plant, the GM plant that formerly built the Saturn and Traverse automobiles. The facility was built 22 years ago, and literally made Spring Hill the city it is today. They now build various parts, including doors, and upper and lower dash boards by stamping, and making bumpers and fronts by molding. No pictures, unfortunately, but it was a very interesting place to visit, taking about 3 hours!! They provided hot dogs, drinks, and cookies, and offered test drives for various vehicles. After waiting in line for a while, we got to test drive their newest electric car, the VOLT. It was a fun, roomy, quiet little car! May even consider it for our next vehicle!
Many of you have heard of the devastating tornadoes in the south this past week. We appreciate the concern shown for us and our safety. We had some wind, really loud thunder and lots of rain, but we have had worse. So when the tornado siren went on, we turned on the TV. While we were watching our local channel that tracks the storm for our immediate area, we did not realize how far reaching the storm was. Most of the warnings were to the west of us. So we were really surprised over the next couple of days to hear of the deaths and destruction to the south (we were glad we were not in Tuscaloosa that day!!) and east of us. This morning, Sunday, we were asked to join the team going from our church with the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief to help with the clean up in a city that was hit pretty hard. Cleveland, TN, is located just east of Chattanooga. We will be leaving Monday morning, and returning some time Friday afternoon. We do not know how much access to electricity and internet we will have, so I will probably wait until we return to blog about it and post pictures. Please pray for safety while travelling and while we are there working!