If you have ever been curious about what it was like to live in Tennessee in pioneering days, a walk through Cannonsburgh Village in Murfreesboro will scratch that itch. The charming village encapsulates southern life from the 1830s to the 1930s. A free self-guided tour of the six-acre area takes you by a gristmill, a school house, telephone operator’s house, the University House, the Leeman House, a museum, a caboose, the wedding chapel, a doctor’s office, a general store, a blacksmith’s shop, a well, and more.
We were there after-hours, so we couldn’t go inside the buildings. Just wandering among the rustic structures was entertaining. And I bet the interiors are even cooler than the exteriors!
Mike’s favorite part of the village was the tractor shed in back. It showcases tractors used in Middle Tennessee between 1920 and 1950. Mike was surprised to discover that one of the tractors was a Porsche. Come to find out, Porsche’s first diesel model was the tractor. There’s even a whole website devoted to these vintage farm vehicles!
Cannonsburgh Village is a nifty stop any time, but I imagine that it’d really come alive during Pioneer Days in April, when there’s storytelling, hayrides, cloggers and dancing, bluegrass music, an antique auto show, blacksmith demos, a craft fair and food vendors.
Food and family are always intertwined – but never more so than when we had dinner with Mike’s brothers Patrick and Raymond on the evening they arrived in the D.C. area. They had flown in from Vegas and Cheyenne, Wyoming, respectively, to join Mike and me for their mum’s interment at Arlington National Cemetery the next day. We would be reuniting Evelyn with her husband of over 50 years who’d died in 2003. She’d passed away in early 2012, and it’d taken until now for everyone’s schedules to match up.
I Googled our eating options that night and found Mamma Lucia, an Italian place close to our campground and Patrick and Raymond’s hotel. It didn’t click at the time, but I now realize that the choice significant.
First. the name. We ate at Mamma’s the night before burying their mama. Then, the choice of Italian food. Their dad was full Italian. He was known for his homemade meatballs, which he prepared every week for Sunday dinner.
With a simple and unplanned meal, we gathered as a family, paying tribute to a very special couple and celebrating Evelyn’s life one last time before finally laying her to rest.
Our last day with Grant, Barbie and Catie was spent on the water. We motored down to Fort Monroe, about 40 minutes from our campground in Williamsburg, and boarded Grant’s boat, “Hedonist”. After lunch, we headed out. The weather was lovely. We had fair winds and following seas, making for a relaxed, smooth ride, ideal for Mike’s first time on a sailboat. Catie and Barbie whipped up magical Painkillers in the galley, and we sipped and chatted while cruising by one of the largest naval shipyards in the world. Returning to the slip was rougher. Even having taken my travel sickness pill, I was queasy, so I was relieved when we docked. After some more conversation and lots of hugs all around, we bid a bittersweet goodbye. Our visit had been more wonderful than we ever anticipated. We were looking forward to moving on to D.C., but we were sad to leave our newly rediscovered family.
The site of the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight is a pilgrimage for aviation buffs. To be able to fly yourself there makes the journey even more extraordinary. Mike was able to do just that in late September when we flew with his cousin Grant from Hampton Roads Executive Airport to the First Flight Airstrip (KFFA) in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. It’s an unattended 3000’ by 60’ asphalt runway carved out of thick forest. For Mike, who’s primary flight experience has been in flat, desert areas, seeing the runway was tricky. Grant pointed the way until Mike spotted it. Since there’s no light on the airstrip, it opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset.
KFFA is located at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. When you land, you’ll want to stop first at the Terminal Building and print out an official landing certificate to take with you. Then, take an hour or two to check out the Memorial.
The 60′ ft. granite monument leads the way to the extensive National Park which features well-manicured grounds with markers, both big and small, indicating the successful launching and landing points, a visitors’ center, and a cluster of museums and exhibits which celebrates the last century of flight and beyond. For a tutorial on all things aviation, from the first successful glide across the Kill Devil Hills sand dunes to the new breakthroughs from NASA, a trip to the Wright Brothers National Memorial is a must.
I found our trip to First Flight and the Memorial very moving. What the Wright Brothers started in 1903 has led to the amazing opportunities we have today to see the world in a unique way. Their efforts sparked a chain of events that, over a hundred years later, resulted in my husband taking us to the skies for aerial adventures. I will be forever grateful to the Wright Brothers for that gift.
Heading out of Hampton Roads Executive Airport on the way to First Flight Airport
Near the coast on the way to First Flight Airport
Landing at First Flight with Mike as PIC and Grant as co-pilot
Coastal view heading back
In the years since they’d last seen each other as teenagers, Mike’s cousin Grant had not only become a pilot, but he’d also bought a flight school. Curtis Eads Flight School, at the Hampton Roads Executive Airport in Tidewater, Virginia, has been around for 65 years. Grant is carrying on a tradition of excellence started by Curtis when he and his pilot wife Ruby opened the flight school in 1959. Curtis E. Eads, Sr., learned to fly in a J-3 Cub while working at the Norfolk Navy Shipyard during WWII. He was an active pilot and flight instructor for nearly 50 years and was one of the most recognized aviation figures in the Hampton Roads area.
Grant has owned the flight school for about six months, and he’s so passionate about flying that he doesn’t consider it work to run the operation. Mike would feel the same way if he got a job in aviation; he’d be happy just to drive a fuel truck around an airport if it paid better.
Curtis Eads offers five different planes to train in and recreationally fly, including a red and mustard AMD Zodiac Light Sport.
While we were there, Mike got checked out for the next day’s trip to First Flight and then spent the rest of the afternoon hangar flying with Grant. Since we’d been away from our home airport in North Las Vegas for several months, it was great to be able to immerse ourselves in aviation for a while – especially with a fellow enthusiast who also happens to be family.
There was an upside of the RV being broken down and having to return to Lake City to work on it. I was able to attend the first day of Art Camp with my step-daughter Alicia.
Every year, Lake City does a weeklong art camp, one for kids and one for adults. For the adults, every day covers a different medium. For $10 per day, this year, you could learn about drawing, print making, painting, sculpting and weaving. Class was held in the Lake City School art room. Martha Reyburn, our instructor, had us a little concerned when she started the class with a picture book about art. Clearly, she teaches the kids classes, too. But, we quickly got down to business when Martha taught us how to make our own sketch books using just copy paper and a pair of scissors.
In addition to shading and contouring drawing, we also practiced lettering. I went with my cowgirl nickname, Dixie. Alicia is very artistic. I love how she made her “A” into strips of bacon. Sign of a clever – and perhaps slightly demented? – mind. 🙂
Mike and I are planning to return to Lake City next year and stay for a while – on purpose, this time. I hope we go during Art Camp so Alicia and I can do the full week together.