On Friday morning we departed the Smokies and headed north through Knoxville. The mountains of Tennessee gave way to the bluegrass of Kentucky, and as Suzanne drove through heavy rain, I looked for a campground. “Hey, here’s a great state park – Fort Boonesborough, just south of Lexington, and I’m a Daniel Boone fan!” We had outrun the rain and arrived in our campground to get the last pull-through, meaning that we didn’t have to disconnect the car. That was the good news. The bad news was that the rain was still heading our way, but we were already snug in our coach, pitying the poor folks in tents who had thought they were going to have a pleasant weekend in the woods. (Unfortunately, the rain continued, and we were unable to visit the fort the next day.)
Boone was the prototypical early frontiersman and adventurer. He punched a rough road through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains, leading a small group of pioneers into what would become Kentucky (this painting of that event is by George Caleb Bingham, one of the greatest American artists of the 19th Century). He had ten children, two of whom were killed by Indians, and his daughter was kidnapped by them, but Boone led a successful party to rescue her two days later. At one point he himself was captured for a period and adopted by the Shawnee tribe.
Boone had purchased the land for Boonesborough from a Cherokee chief at Sycamore Shoals. He and his men built a small fort here in 1775. It consisted of 26 cabins and four blockhouses for protection against Indians and eventually the British. During the Revolutionary War, our former colonial masters fomented war between the Indians and the Americans. (Those pesky Brits just couldn’t get over the original Tea Party refusing to pay King George’s taxes…) Fort Boonesborough was then attacked by a large force of Shawnees and a few Brits and French Canadians in what was named “The Great Siege”.
From Kentucky we moved on to Dayton, Ohio, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. We arrived on a Saturday, and driving around the base we saw not a single person in uniform (although we did see four groundhogs). This was bizarre for us, both retired naval officers, because on Navy bases, most sailors live aboard ship, so even on weekends, our bases would be filled with sailors. In the Air Force, many, if not most, of the airmen live off base, so the streets here at Wright-Pat were deserted. It was like we had fallen into a set of The Twilight Zone.
We decided to go visit the Air Force Museum, but that was off base. To get there, we let electronics guide us. “Big Mistake”. Jill, the woman who lives inside our GPS, was not aware that here at Wright-Pat, not only were most of the gates to the outside world closed on weekends; they even locked internal gates to prevent people from moving from one side of the base to the other! This was very strange. After we found the third locked inside gate blocking our route, My Lovely Bride said in a loud voice, “Isn’t that interesting!” (or words to that effect). I thought about speeding up to 80 and blasting through the gate like a boss of mine did in 1973 (he actually made Admiral later), but decided that meeting Base Security Forces and their K-9 assistants might delay us.
The Air Force Museum was AMAZING! Three of the largest hangers in the world house hundreds of aircraft (from the Wright Brothers to today) and thousands of exhibits. You can stand under a B-52 BUFF (called a Big Ugly Fat Fellow by pilots of sleek fighters), admire a SR-71 Blackbird, or study a life-size diorama of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, complete with B-25.
Here is My Lovely Bride standing beside a B-1 Lancer strategic bomber; it is HUGE! We had a great time, and it was capped off with a 3D Imax movie, Fighter Pilot, which shows two weeks at Red Flag, the Air Force’s version of Top Gun on steroids, where 128 aircraft conduct simulated and live fire air-to-air and air-to-ground combat training missions.
We departed Dayton and headed for our next stop outside Detroit. After crossing the state line, we understood the huge billboard’s message: “Fix Michigan’s Roads!” They were pretty bad; in fact, our full length mirror broke during the trip over I-75’s washboard section. Our campground here is what I would call minimalist: for $37/day, you get a grass parking place with electricity; there is no drinking water to hook up to in the entire campground. But it is uncrowded; of 130 or more spots, there are only three taken – ours, the camp host’s, and one guy in a semi-permanent tent.
On Monday evening, we had sushi with our good friends Jan and Peter from The Villages. Jan suggested coming here, and put out the word among her many spiritual friends to come hear Suzanne’s talk. They live about 30 minutes west, but because of the terrible weather, we were unable to visit their lovely home.
In fact, just before arriving in the area, we had to pull off the highway to avoid the passage of a tornado warning area; here’s the radar presentation, with the blue dot being us. There was torrential rain and high winds for a couple of hours, and we were glad to be safely past that experience.
On Tuesday evening, Suzanne gave her Making the Connection presentation at Unity of Farmington Hills to another large, very enthusiastic community, many of whom said, “I’m not sure even how I found you, but I needed to hear this!” Thanks to Rev. Barbara for her hospitality at UFH.