Americans Taking Freedom by the Horns Supporting Truckers Growing Convoy to DC

Texas trucker Joe Buttons honked at his Oklahoma cousins waving flags and banners above as he drove his rig under a large group of supporters this weekend.

“I could spot them in the crowd up there and heared them loud and clear,” Buttons said. “On the cell (phone) they told me how proud they were of me–all of us. We just thank everybody for lining the streets and overpasses. It’s like patriotism is back.”

One of his relatives told him later they counted 688 18-wheelers “and hundreds of cars, vans, pickups, RVs, and occasionally a motorcycle or two.”

“Everybody asks how many trucks are in the convoy,” Buttons offered. “Hell, I don’t know because it changes so much.”

He explained that some trucks join them on their way east and “then a few that leave us after a few hours. There is a constant flow of families and everybody driving beside us, honking their horns and wishing us luck.”

“We see everybody from every color and every age,” he continued. “It just makes us feel good. It tells us they are on our side of freedom, no matter your age or sex or whatever. We are all Americans—together.”

“They said, with a drone and people on the overpasses counting, it looks like we are up to over 600 trucks and at least that many more of cars and all,” Buttons said. One thing we know for sure–it’s growing and it’s growing fast.”

“When they say ‘the convoy,’ it’s not about just one line of trucks going to Washington,” he explained. “There’s more than one route. We have tributaries of highways leading the charge, the convoys will all meet up.”

“We heard someone say if they could measure all of these trains (vehicles on highways), single file and add them up, right now it would be about 65 miles long.”

While national mainstream media ignores, downplays or distorts news of the convoy, local, social media and independent coverage is strong.

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Why We Should Pay Close Attention to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin

The current resident in the White House nominated the wife of Joe Manchin to a $160,000 a year post recently. Of course, with Joe Biden, just like Nancy Pelosi, if it’s government work, it’s a sure bet he will shirk his real duties in favor of behind-the-scenes politics.

The former governor and West Virginia senator hopes the nomination of his spouse Gayle Connelly Manchin as the new federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission “goes through well,” he said Monday.

In this case, Mrs. Manchin is well qualified for the job (as opposed to someone like Hunter Biden working in energy on behalf of foreign interests).

Many of Sen. Manchin’s constituents are troubled about Red State West Virginia’s #5 ranking in U.S. poverty, opioid-abuse crisis, no potable water in many communities, terrible infrastructure and lack of broadband internet. He’s catering too much to Biden they believe.

If Manchin hadn’t won reelection in 2018, when he was regarded as one of the most vulnerable Democrats, the Senate now would be 51-49 Republican. Mitch McConnell still would be majority leader, able to block anything Biden proposes, including the massive stimulus bill.

Manchin, a 73-year-old career politician, has been a key vote to pass things like the Biden $1.9 trillion “COVID-19” bill and some Cabinet selections that are destroying America.

Just under three months in office, it is obvious Biden is going for a colossal Democratic Party grab. The aim is to
take redistricting authority away from state legislatures while permanently enshrining in law ballot harvesting, same-day registration and no-fault absentee voting. They intend to nullify state voter ID laws and stack the deck in the Supreme Court to destroy Constitutional law and freedoms.

Although Manchin is an important ally for Biden, Kamala Harris is ready to cast decisive votes in the 50-50 Senate. There are two ways for Republicans to stop passage of these overreaches, as well as other Democratic pipe dreams:

1. Convince some Democrat senators to vote with them, or…

2. …Filibuster. By not supporting a change in the Senate’s filibuster rules, Biden’s entire agenda is in trouble because most issues will take 60 votes to approve, not 50.

For the most part, Manchin has now made it clear that he’ll do nothing to eliminate or weaken the filibuster, which both parties at different times respect, use and abuse.

In the meantime, he’s making mainstream media even more crazy by blocking the $15-an-hour minimum wage. He’s shown his cards by opposing the increases of corporate income tax to 28%. He bravely condemned the Biden-Pelosi infrastructure bill.

These Wacky American Town Names Will Make You Laugh

Our faith in America’s sense of humor was restored during the pandemic summer of 2020.

We escaped from the onslaught of negative news and propaganda by just getting away. Our travels  through 14 states and Washington D.C. for over a month thoroughly offered a lighter side of truth and experiences.

Besides counting the number of Trump (159) and Biden (0) flags and banners along the way, we got a kick from some of the names and places we saw. Uranus, Missouri,  Santa Claus, Indiana and Hot Coffee, Mississippi were three favorites that come to mind.

To pass some of the highway mile time away, we researched and gathered humorous and fun town names from all 50 states. Here’s are list:

ALABAMA

Screamer, an unincorporated community in southeastern Alabama, may have come from 19th century Native Americans who screamed and  heckled white train travelers as they passed by what was then a reservation. Smut Eye, Alabama is doozie too.

ALASKA

Unalaska has over 4,500 residents, making it the largest city in the Aleutian Islands. Originally, Unangan residents named it Agunalaksh, a word that means “near the peninsula.” Eek, Alaska is noteworthy.

ARIZONA

Why a call a town?” Yes, that’s right “Why” is a small community near the U.S.-Mexico border namhed after the Y-shaped intersection of two nearby highways. But because of an Arizona law requiring place names have at least three letters, “Y” became the much more pragmatic “Why.”

ARKANSAS

Smackover, a town of 1800 people in southern Arkansas, was once a major oil producer. Settled by French trappers in the early 19th century,  “Smackover” may have derived from the French name for a local creek, Chemin Couvert, which means “covered way”—and “sumac couvert” means a covering of sumac trees, a local plant. Goobertown is another fun one

CALIFORNIA

Rough and Ready, California, is named after an old mining company with that same label. It was the first to secede from the Union and become its own “republic” in 1850 as a protest against mining taxes, prohibition mandates, and laws that weren’t enforced. They rejoined the United States three months later.

COLORADO

Colorado has No Name. When government official first marked a newly constructed exit off I-70 with a sign reading “No Name” as a placeholder, it stuck.

CONNECTICUT

Hazardville, Connecticut, was an 1800s industrial village that made gunpowder. The town was named after Colonel Augustus George Hazard, who purchased and expanded the gunpowder company in 1837.

DELAWARE

Corner Ketch is an unincorporated community in New Castle County, Delaware. A rough-and-tumble local bar was known for warning strangers that if they didn’t get you in there, “They’ll ketch ye at the corner.”

FLORIDA

Two Egg, Florida, got its name during the Great Depression. When bartering transactions occurred with two eggs traded, almost like currency, for goods.

GEORGIA

Climax, Georgia sits at the highest point on the railroad between Savannah and the Chattahoochee River.

HAWAII

Volcano, Hawaii sits near the Hilo Volcano and several volcanic hot spots.

IDAHO

Slickpoo, near Culdesac, Idaho, was once a bustling village and site of a Catholic mission. Landowner Josiah Slickpoo donated acreage to the missionaries. Dickshooter, Idaho made us laugh too.

ILLINOIS

Sandwich got its name from Sandwich, New Hampshire.

INDIANA

Santa Claus, Indiana celebrates the spirit of Christmas every day, but especially at the Post Office in December. Gnaw Bone is an interesting name too.

IOWA

What cheer Iowa has in What Cheer, Iowa. It was derived from an old English greeting.

KANSAS

Gas, Kansas is the butt of many jokes. “You just passed Gas.” “Gas Kan.” “Get Gas!” Natural gas was discovered in the area in 1898.

KENTUCKY

Bugtussle is a tiny spot on the Kentucky-Tennessee border is an homage to doodlebugs. Personally, I think Kentucky has some of the best town names with Knob Lick, Bald Knob, Chicken Bristle, Fearsville, Hippo, Krypton, Mud Lick, Monkeys Eyebrow, Pig, and Raccoon.

Bald Knob (guess they licked it too much?), Chicken Bristle, Fearsville, Hippo, Krypton (say hi to Superman’s parents for us!), Mud Lick, Monkeys Eyebrow, Pig, and Raccoon.

LOUISIANA

Uneedus is the settlement site of the Lake Superior Piling Company. Their corporate slogan was “You need us.”  Residents founded another farm community nearby and called it Weneedu.

MAINE

Burnt Porcupine is an island off the coast of Maine.  Located near Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, Burnt Porcupine has nearby sister islands with equally intriguing names: Bald Porcupine, Long Porcupine, and Sheep Porcupine.

MARYLAND

Boring, Maryland. Enough said.

MASSACHUSETTS

Belchertown wasn’t named for the aftermath of a particularly gassy meal. It’s named after Jonathan Belcher, a colonial governor of Massachusetts.

MICHIGAN

Hell is 15 miles northwest of Ann Arbor. In the 1830s, the town settler, George Reeves, traded homemade whiskey to local farmers for grain. The farmer’s wives said “He’s gone to hell again.”

MINNESOTA

Nimrod, Minnesota is full of nimrods. In the book of Genesis, Nimrod is described as “a mighty hunter before the Lord” and is credited with overseeing the construction of the Tower of Babel.

MISSISSIPPI

Hot Coffee is marked as the midpoint between Natchez, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama. A late 1800s inn was erected and capitalized on the spring water, molasses and New Orleans beans used to make hot coffee for weary travelers.

MISSOURI

Although Uranus was our favorite spot in Missouri, Tightwad has a cool name too. There’s also a Cooter and a Licking.

MONTANA

Pray, Montana. And they do. But the town of Pray, Montana, was named for then-state representative Charles Nelson Pray in 1907.

NEBRASKA

Magnet, Nebraska was named by settler B.E. Smith in 1893.

NEVADA

Jiggs, Nevada is about 30 miles south of Elko. It’s named after a top hat-wearing, cigar smoking Irish-American protagonist from an old comic strip Bringing Up Father. A women’s organization in town dubbed itself Maggie’s Club after the character’s wife.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Sandwich is named after The Fourth Earl of Sandwich, John Montague, who actually invented the sandwich.  In 1763, he chartered the town between the Lakes Region and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

NEW JERSEY

Loveladies, New Jersey, was named from a nearby island owned by Thomas Lovelady, a local hunter and sportsman.

NEW MEXICO

Candy Kitchen lies between Zuni and Navajo reservations in western New Mexico.  A local moonshine distiller needed a front to hide his illicit operations during Prohibition. To secure the sugar necessary to concoct barrels of hooch, the moonshiner established a confectionery that produced pinion nut candy on the side. Just 85 miles away is Pie Town.

NEW YORK

Neversink, New York is currently sunk under about 175 feet of water. Named for the Neversink River, the longest tributary of the Delaware River, the city of 2000 was a Catskill towns flooded in the 1950s to create reservoirs that would provide water to New York City. It relocated afterwards. But another town, Bittersweet, remains underwater. On land, are towns called Coxsackie and Butternuts.

NORTH CAROLINA

Why not Why Not? That’s the named settled upon when the post office was established in 1860. If not, try Lizard Lick, NC.

NORTH DAKOTA

Cannon Ball, North Dakota gets its name from geological curiosities called concretions. There’s also Zap.

OHIO

Knockemstiff, Ohio. Bar brawls and street fights during moonshine days, prompted the advice from a preacher. When asked by a woman on how to keep her cheating husband home and faithful, the preacher responded simply: “Knock ‘em stiff.” Take that advice however you want.

OKLAHOMA

Gene Autry, Oklahoma was named after the singing cowboy who purchased a 1200-acre ranch nearby that he would turn into the headquarters of his Flying A Ranch Rodeo. On November 16, 1941, the town of Berwyn officially became Gene Autry, Oklahoma. It’s home to a museum and film festival in his honor.

OREGON

Zigzag, Oregon, in the middle of Mount Hood National Forest, is named after the Zigzag River, which drains from the Zigzag Glacier. Notable is

PENNSYLVANIA

Intercourse is in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. “It’s okay, you can giggle!” the village’s website says. “We’re happy with our name. It’s the perfect conversation starter.” About 20 minutes away is the town Blue Ball, named after an 1850s inn.

RHODE ISLAND

Woonsocket is the sixth largest city in Rhode Island ands was originally known as la ville la plus française aux États-Unis, which translates to “the most French city in the United States.”
Historians believe the name is an evolved variation of a word from a Native American language.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Ketchuptown got its name from a country store built by Herbert Small in 1927 were locals went to “catch up” on news and gossip.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Mud Butte was named for a nearby barren butte. In 1981, archeologists digging around unearthed the sixth Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered, after a local rancher finally got around to calling a museum about the dinosaur bones he’d seen digging out of a cliff on his property for years.

TENNESSEE

Difficult, Tennessee isn’t too hard to remember.

TEXAS

Muleshoe, Happy, Dime Box, Gun Barrel City, Cut and Shoot, Telephone, Jot ’em Down, Loco, and Comfort were among my favorite town names in Texas until I came upon Ding Dong.  Located in Bell County, the community was named after its founders, the Bell family.

UTAH

Mexican Hat, Utah, has a 60-foot-wide, sombrero-shaped rock formation on the northeast side of town.

SATANS KINGDOM

Satans Kingdom, Vermont is not the only state with that town name. Massachusetts and Connecticut does too. The land was said to be rocky and void of fertile soil.

VIRGINIA

Bumpass, Virginia is pronounced “bump-iss.”

WASHINGTON

Humptulips was a major logging center. The name comes from a local Native American word meaning “hard to pole.” Native Americans used to canoe by propelling themselves along with poles.

WEST VIRGINIA

Lick Fork, Virginia is basically known for photo opportunities with signs bearing that name. There’s more in Booger Hole.

WISCONSIN

Bosstown, Wisconsin takes its name from a William Henry Dosch, a storeowner nicknamed Boss. Wow! There’s also a Spread Eagle.

WYOMING

Chugwater, Wyoming was home of the Mandan tribe, whose chief was reportedly injured during a buffalo hunt and sent his son to lead the hunting party in his place. According to Chugwater’s website, the son determined that the easiest way to kill the buffalo was to drive them off the local chalk cliffs. “The word ‘chug,’” the town’s website notes, “is said to describe the noise that the buffalo or the falling chalk made when it hit the ground or fell into the water under the bluff, depending on which version of the legend you wish to believe. Indians began to call the area ‘water at the place where the buffalo chug.’”

COVID Beliefs Blown Away For RVers-Campers on Iconic U.S. Travel Roads

We have just returned from a 32-day, 4500 mile roadtrip (June 19-July 21) from the Texas Hill Country through much of the South, Washington D.C. for July 4th, to part of the Midwest and back.

Our preconceived ideas from news and the continually changing regulations around COVID-19 were blown away with the reality we experienced. It actually restored our faith in the goodness of America.

People of all ages, creeds, races and sexes were friendly, polite and eager to be traveling. By far, they agreed that what news outlets portray and what is actually happening are not in sync. We met scores of campers and travelers who indicated they had no problems with getting reservations and lodging.

We found our routes and destinations were open to travelers, including campers with self-contained RVs.

Pigeon Forge grist mill in Dollywood.

Most restaurants and stores were open with COVID-19 restrictions varying by state, city and location.

Our plans were modified only twice because of not feeling welcomed due to tourist closures.

1. We bypassed Nashville because the Grand Old Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame and Johnny Cash Museum were closed. Nearby Murfreesboro was welcoming for an overnight stay.

2. We left St. Louis immediately after driving to the Gateway Arch and seeing seedy characters in garbage, urine and feces infested tent encampments throughout the area. Wildwood, about 20 miles southwest on Historic Route 66, was awesome.

Here are some of the most notable routes we enjoyed and recommend.

Blue Ridge Parkway

A road trip gem, left Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas towards the Blue Ridge Parkway. This scenic byway traverses the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains across Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. We especially enjoyed Appalachian towns like North Carolina’s Asheville and Mt. Airy (Andy Griffith Museum).

RVers should be aware some roads have tunnel height restrictions. Check the tunnel restrictions for your planned route. The most restricting tunnels have a maximum height of 18 feet. Cell phone reception could be an issue depending on your carrier (we had no problems with Cricket). There were very few gas stations and other amenities limited. We remained anticipatory and planned ahead just in case.

Blues Highway

Highway 61, known as the “blues highway,” is rich with the history of musicians in the Mississippi Delta area. It’s the birthplace of the blues and the roots of much of American music. 

The original route went from New Orleans to Minnesota, but most of the history of the blues is embedded in Mississippi.

We started in Vicksburg, Mississippi,  a great spot to understand some of the roots of the blues. In 1863 Vicksburg was under siege from the Union Army. General John Pemberton (Confederate) surrendered Vicksburg to General Grant (Union) after sustaining huge losses and facing a catastrophic defeat by an army that greatly outnumbered his abled soldiers.

The Blues developed from slaves toiling on the cotton plantations in Mississippi. The war was over and slavery was officially abolished. Opportunities slowly merged forward toward Memphis, St. Louis and Chicago. The music permeated across the Mississippi Delta.

Some say Clarksdale, Mississippi is the birthplace of the blues. While most of the old Juke Joints have perished, we stopped by  Ground Zero Blues Club (co-owned by Morgan Freeman). It’s a great place to see talented musicians perform and enjoy local food favorites including fried green tomatoes, Mississippi tamales and catfish.

At the Highway 61/49 intersection is a famous location known as The Crossroads. It’s where Robert Johnson was fabled to have sold his soul to the Devil to be the King of Delta Blues. Robert Johnson was born in 1911 and died just 27 years later. 

Highway 61 leads to Memphis, the land of Elvis Presley, SUN Studio, Beale Street and Graceland. The Graceland RV Park is conveniently located next to the Elvis Memphis complex and museums.

Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace Parkway is an excellent route to see the southern United States by RV. We loved it because no commercial trucking or 18-wheelers are allowed.

Although it’s over 440 miles from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, we started in Tupelo, Mississippi after visiting Elvis Presley’s Birthplace. We stopped often to see waterfalls, prehistoric mounds, and other historical landmarks.

Like the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, there are maximum RV restrictions. The maximum length is 55 feet (including a tow vehicle) and a 14 feet height restriction. 

Route 66

Long before our current national interstate highway system, federal highways, like U.S. Route 66, were main thoroughfares. On historic Route 66, you can explore America’s Heartland and other enchanting pockets of the United States from Chicago to Los Angeles. 

We began the route in St. Louis and took it most of the way toward Branson. Be sure to visit Uranus, Missouri for a fun, quick pit stop.

We did join Route 66 again later in Oklahoma City. Continuing West, we could have carved out time to visit Grand Canyon National Park, but elected to return back to Texas after four weeks on the road.

New Travel Resources

U.S. State Department’s Traveler Checklist. Read more

The TripIt app has a relative new feature that shows safety scores from 1 to 100 for neighborhoods around the world, representing low to high risk. These scores cover a variety of categories, such as women’s safety, access to health and medical services, and political freedoms. Travelers will find safety scores for their lodging, restaurant and activity locations there.

True Things We Didn’t Know About States Until We Visited Them

We left the Texas Hill Country on June 19th on a roadtrip through the South. On our 28th day (We’re in Oklahoma City), we sharing some interesting facts about each state we’ve learned along the way.

Louisiana

Louisiana has the longest coastline (15,000 miles) of any other state in the U.S.

Louisiana makes up approximately 41% of the wetlands in the U.S.

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway at 23.83 miles in Metairie is the longest continuous bridge over water in the world.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed (Bonnie struck 53 times and Clyde struck 51 times) by Louisiana and Texas state police near Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Bonnie was married to another man and never divorced him. The Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum in Gibsland, Louisiana, is located a few miles away from their death site.

In 1977, Luisa Harris, the only woman in U.S. history to officially be drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA), was drafted by the New Orleans Jazz basketball team.

In 2010, the world’s record for the largest pot of gumbo was set by award-winning chef, John David Folse. The pot served 10,000 people. It contained 50 pounds of white crab meat, 85 pounds of oysters, 100 pounds of crab claws, 200 pounds of alligator meat, 450 pounds of catfish, and 750 pounds of shrimp.

Mississippi

In 1963 the University of Mississippi Medical Center accomplished the world’s first human lung transplant and, on January 23, 1964, Dr. James D. Hardy performed the world’s first heart transplant surgery.

In 1902 while on a hunting expedition in Sharkey County, President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt refused to shoot a captured bear. This act resulted in the creation of the world-famous teddy bear.

In 1884 the concept of selling shoes in boxes in pairs (right foot and left foot) occurred in Vicksburg at Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor on Washington Street.

Guy Bush of Tupelo was one of the most valuable players with the Chicago Cubs. He was on the 1929 World Series team and Babe Ruth hit his last home run off a ball pitched by Bush.

Root beer was invented in Biloxi in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq, Sr.

Tennessee

There are more horses per capita in Shelby County than any other county in the United States.

Davy Crockett was not born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, as the song says. He was born on the banks of Limestone Creek near Greeneville, where a replica of the Crockett’s log cabin stands today.

David Crockett

The capitol building was designed by noted architect William Strickland, who died during its construction and is buried within its walls.

Tennessee ranks number one among other states in the total number of soldiers who fought in the War Between the States.

The name “Tennessee” originated from the old Yuchi Indian word, “Tana-see,” meaning “The Meeting Place.”

Coca-Cola was first bottle in 1899 at a plant on Patten Parkway in downtown Chattanooga after two local attorneys purchased the bottling rights to the drink for $l.00.

Cumberland University, located in Lebanon, lost a football game to Georgia Tech on October 7, 1916 by a score of 222 to 0. The Georgia Tech coach was George Heisman for whom the Heisman Trophy is named.

Alabama

In 2004, Chad Fell of Haleyville was certified by the Guinness World Records for blowing the World’s Largest Bubblegum Bubble, Unassisted (without use of his hands) at Double Springs High School in Winston County. He used three pieces of Dubble Bubble gum.

In October of 1989, residents of Fort Payne built a cake to celebrate the city’s centennial. The 12-layer cake was 32 feet wide and 80 feet long and weighed 128,238 pounds. It was certified by Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Cake.

The country’s first 911 call was made on February 16, 1968, in Haleyville. Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite went to City Hall and called U.S. Representative Tom Bevill, who was at the local police station. The red phone used is on display in City Hall.

The actors who portrayed Goober and Gomer, fictional cousins on the Andy Griffith Show, were both born in Alabama. Jim Nabors, “Gomer,” was born in 1930 in Sylacauga. He died Nov. 30, 2017. George Lindsey, “Goober,” was born in 1928 in Fairfield. He died in 2012.

Virginia

About 1/2 of all the people in the United States live within a 500 mile radius of the Capital of Virginia.

Over 1/2 the battles fought in the civil war were fought in Virginia. Over 2,200 of the 4,000 battles.

The first Thanksgiving in North America was held in Virginia in 1619.

Yorktown is the site of the final victory of the American Revolution.

The first English colony in America was located on Roanoke Island. Walter Raleigh founded it. The colony mysteriously vanished with no trace except for the word “Croatoan” scrawled on a nearby tree.

Mount Mitchell in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. It towers 6,684 feet above sea level.

Washington D.C.

Herbert Hoover and John Quincy Adams had pet alligators in the White House.

To date, nobody has beat Jimmy Carter’s record of watching 480 movies in the White House movie theater.

Washington DC is missing “J” Street. It uses letters for streets traveling east to west. But numbers are also used for streets. I was told it’s because “J” and “I” look too similar on street signs.

There’s a crypt under the Capitol building that was made for George Washington. Although he was not buried there, the crypt still exists; they also had a viewing chamber built so people could go by and see him.

John Adams was actually the first president to live in the White House. George Washington never lived there; it was built after he died.

There are 35 bathrooms in the White House. There are also 132 rooms and 6 levels in the residence. Even more staggering are the 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators.

There’s only one U.S. president buried in Washington D.C. Woodrow Wilson is entombed at Washington National Cathedral.

Missouri

The first successful parachute jump to be made from a moving airplane was made by Captain Berry at St. Louis, in 1912.

The most destructive tornado on record occurred in Annapolis. In 3 hours, it tore through the town on March 18, 1925 leaving a 980-foot wide trail of demolished buildings, uprooted trees, and overturned cars. It left 823 people dead and almost 3,000 injured.

At the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, Richard Blechyden, served tea with ice and invented iced tea.

Also, at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, the ice cream cone was invented. An ice cream vendor ran out of cups and asked a waffle vendor to help by rolling up waffles to hold ice cream.

The Arch has foundations sunken 60 feet into the ground, and is built to withstand earthquakes and high winds. It sways up to one inch in a 20 mph wind, and is built to sway up to 18 inches.

The most powerful earthquake to strike the United States occurred in 1811, centered in New Madrid, Missouri. The quake shook more than one million square miles, and was felt as far as 1,000 miles away.

During Abraham Lincoln’s campaign for the presidency, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat named Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri, swore that he would never shave again if Abe were elected. Tapley kept his word and his chin whiskers went unshorn from November 1860 until he died in 1910, attaining a length of twelve feet six inches.

Situated within a day’s drive of 50% of the U.S. population, Branson and the Tri-Lakes area serves up to 65,000 visitors daily. Branson has been a “rubber tire” destination with the vast majority of tourists arriving by vehicles, RVs and tour buses. Branson has also become one of America’s top motor coach vacation destinations with an estimated 4,000 buses arriving each year.

Indiana

The first professional baseball game was played in Fort Wayne on May 4, 1871.

Santa Claus, Indiana receives over one half million letters and requests at Christmas time.

Deep below the earth in Southern Indiana is a sea of limestone that is one of the richest deposits of top-quality limestone found anywhere on earth. New York City’s Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center as well as the Pentagon, the U.S. Treasury, a dozen other government buildings in Washington D.C. as well as 14 state capitols around the nation are built from this sturdy, beautiful Indiana limestone.

In 1934 Chicago Gangster John Dillinger escaped the Lake Country Jail in Crown Point by using a “pistol” he had carved from a wooden block.

Comedian Red Skelton, who created such characters as Clem Kadiddlehopper, and Freddie the Freeloader, was born in Vincennes.

Arkansas

Alma claims to be the Spinach Capital of the World, but Texas knows Crystal City really is.

A person from Arkansas is called an Arkansan.

The state contains six national park sites, two-and-a half million acres of national forests, seven national scenic byways, three state scenic byways, and 50 state parks.

North Carolina

The Venus Fly-Trap is native to Hampstead.

The first miniature golf course was built in Fayetteville.

Babe Ruth hit his first home run in Fayetteville on March 7, 1914.

North Carolina has the largest state-maintained highway system in the United States. The state’s highway system currently has 77,400 miles of roads.

West Virginia

On January 26, 1960 Danny Heater, a student from Burnsville, scored 135 points in a high school basketball game earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Nearly 75% of West Virginia is covered by forests.

Outdoor advertising had its origin in Wheeling about 1908 when the Block Brothers Tobacco Company painted bridges and barns with the wording: “Treat Yourself to the Best, Chew Mail Pouch.”

Bailey Brown, the first Union solider killed in the Civil War, died on May 22, 1861, at Fetterman, Taylor County.

The first brick street in the world was laid in Charleston, West Virginia, on October 23, 1870, on Summers Street, between Kanawha and Virginia Streets.

Oklahoma

Boise City, Oklahoma was the only city in the United States to be bombed during World War II. On Monday night, July 5, 1943, at approximately 12:30 a.m., a B-17 Bomber based at Dalhart Army Air Base (50 miles to the south of Boise City) dropped six practice bombs on the sleeping town.

Sooners is the name given to settlers who entered the Unassigned Lands in what is now the state of Oklahoma before the official start of the Land Rush of 1889.

The world’s first installed parking meter was in Oklahoma City, on July 16, 1935. Carl C. Magee, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is generally credited with originating the parking meter. He filed for a patent for a “coin controlled parking meter” on May 13, 1935.

During a tornado in Ponca City, a man and his wife were carried aloft in their house by a tornado. The walls and roof were blown away. But the floor remained intact and eventually glided downward, setting the couple safely back on the ground.

Bob Dunn a musician from Beggs invented the first electric guitar in 1935.

Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state, with over one million surface acres of water.

Kentucky

Cheeseburgers were first served in 1934 at Kaolin’s restaurant in Louisville.

Chevrolet Corvettes are manufactured in Bowling Green.

Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest cave and was first promoted in 1816, making it the second oldest tourist attraction in the United States. Niagara Falls, New York is first.

The song “Happy Birthday to You” was the creation of two Louisville sisters in 1893.

Daniel Boone and his wife Rebecca are buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. Their son Isaac is buried at Blue Licks Battlefield near Carlisle, where he was killed in the last battle of the Revolutionary War fought in Kentucky.

Boone Gravesite

The public saw an electric light for the first time in Louisville. Thomas Edison introduced his incandescent light bulb to crowds at the Southern Exposition in 1883.

The radio was invented by a Kentuckian named Nathan B. Stubblefield of Murray in 1892. It was three years before Marconi made his claim to the invention.

Joe Bowen holds the world record for stilt walking endurance. He walked 3,008 miles on stilts between Bowen, Kentucky to Los Angeles, California.

Miscellaneous

The most fun Dodie and I have experienced so far was riding the mile long Branson Sawmill Coaster. We were able to control the speed of our individual coaster pods.

I Don’t Believe in News, I Believe in You

We drove through downtown St. Louis, Missouri yesterday to check out the Gateway Arch. We didn’t feel welcome for the first time on this trip. Trash, urine, tents, and people who looked drugged out and not too bright were welcomed though. The local city government is doing a horrible job. I wonder which political party controls St. Louis?

For the last 20 days I’ve been doing a great deal of listening…and I mean a lot!

We elected to drive to a southwestern suburb location and stayed at the clean and beautiful Wildwood Hotel about 1/2 hour away. Many homes in this well maintained and manicured area proudly display American flags.

Tired and weary from fake and propagandized news, we’ve elected to stay away from it. On our 2020 roadtrip, we’ve learned far more by listening to ordinary folks than predictably biased political pundits. 

Corky’s BBQ in Memphis.

America is even more beautiful than I imagined. Remember how many of us came together, waving our flags and bowing our heads, after the terrorism of September 11, 2001?

Being on the road has not only been an encouraging respite, but it’s turned out to be an eye opening reality check of the strength and character of our citizens. 

Accustomed to flying to and from cities during my career days, there wasn’t much time for many road trips except in Texas.

I’ve given speeches and presentations in NY, LA, Chicago, Orlando, Vegas, Philadelphia, Nashville, San Diego, Dallas, Vegas, Monterey and Monterrey. But there was little time to explore.

Lucky for me, Dodie shares a love of roadtripping, so we took off as soon as we could. Last week we celebrated our 7 month anniversary in D.C. and West Virginia.

If there is one solid thing I can take from this trip, it’s that belief in traditional values of Americans is strong.

By Dodie’s count we’ve seen 77 Trump vs. 0 (ZERO) Biden flags and signs since we left Texas on June 19th. Even in D.C. we expected there would be some for Biden. But there were none.

Near the Lincoln Memorial, by the Arts of World Sculptures, entering the Arlington Memorial Bridge, I talked briefly with three university students while Dodie was finding a restroom.

One male was from Georgetown University and the two coeds attended Howard University nearby. It was Friday, July 3rd and the area was filled with joggers, skaters, bicyclists and walkers. I asked several questions: why traffic was so light? Do they have concerns about protests?  What’s the mood of students right now? Why no Biden signs anywhere?

The succinct answers: 

1. bureaucrats left for July 4th holiday.

2. protests are contained in their normal location north of the White House near La Salle Park. It’s not the big deal mainstream media make it out to be.

3. many students are as fed up with the pandemic, distorted news, and false reasons for protests as most Americans are.

The male, African-American, with courtesy, answered my last question with a question.

“Does it appear as if the Democratic National Committee does not wish to spend money on him?”

I almost fell over stunned and stumbled to reply.

“Well, I just don’t know,” is all I could reply, then explained we had only seen Trump signs and flags from Texas to here.

The front desk manager at the Hyatt Place in Chantilly, Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C., said they don’t play anything but FOX News on their lobby TV because “we were getting too many complaints about CNN.”

At the Civil Rights Museum and Lorraine Motel, we stood next to friendly, decent people–Black, Indian and Hispanic–to pay our respects to Martin Luther King, Jr. in the rain. We smiled and wiped our tears together. It was solemn, but we were with each other.

In a Shoney’s Restaurant in Sevierville, Tennessee, our server Ruth, went on a friendly tirade about how bad the media is.

“Watching them, you’d think everyone in the world hates President Trump,” she said. “But everyone I talk to here loves him. And I’m talking about people coming in from all over the United States. People are sick of this nonsense and it’s going to backfire on them. What they (media) say and what I see are far different.”

A couple in their 40s, sitting near us at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Chantilly, Virginia were practically repeating what Ruth said in Tennessee. The wife asked her husband if she knew anyone voting for Biden.

“No one who will admit it,” he laughed. Then, with all seriousness said, “The only way Democrats can win is by cheating and fraud. That’s why they’re pushing for mail in voting.”

Dining in Emzara’s Restaurant at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, a Georgia man, perhaps 35, proudly wore a “TRUMP 2020” T-shirt in the dining room. I had to ask.

“Oh I’m thinking I’m around God loving people here,” he grinned as we bumped fists.

Another man, about 50, walked up to say “Hi” and pointed to his very own MAGA (Make America Great Again) red ball cap.

“Looks like we’re on the same team,”  he said and tipped his cap.

Over our plates of Dodie’s chicken and dumplings and my meatloaf at a Vicksburg, Mississippi Cracker Barrel, the topic of conversation of two couples sitting at tables across from us was similar.

“I don’t believe the news anymore.”

“Oh me too. We just turn them off.”

“Their dishonesty is so obvious, only an imbecile would still believe them.”

We’ve tried to analyze this phenomenon along the way. We travel rural and urban roads and highways.

We stay near universities, tourist attractions or remote locations (ever heard of Corinth, Kentucky?).

When feasible, we favor mom and pop restaurants over chains: North Star Cafe, Mellow Mushroom Pizza, Marlowe’s, Johnnie’s Drive In, and D’Cracked Egg for instance.

Our server, Brian (but nicknamed “Flash” according to the badge his regular local customers made for him) at a Bob Evans restaurant in Charleston, West Virginia, had plenty to say about politics. It was as if he had been conversing with server Ruth in Sevierville.

“Biden can’t even talk right, much less run a country,” he was riled. “Ever’ body ’round here is voting for Trump.”

In D’Cracked Egg in Tupelo we overheard a group of locals expressing the same sentiments as so many others.

Mt. Airy, North Carolina–AKA Mayberry–had the largest number of Trump and American flags of any city.

Yesterday morning,  I walked in a small gas station-store combination and sat down for about 20 minutes listening to the breakfast and coffee regulars near Corinth, Kentucky. It was the same: Trump all the way.

Moments ago at a rest stop on IH-64 West in Illinois, I saw a young man, perhaps 25, wearing a MAGA cap. He was polite and opened the door to the Visitors Center for me.

“Thank you kind Sir,” I responded. “I like your cap.”

“Well thank you too,” he smiled. “I’m proud to wear it.”

What we’ve seen and heard is not what we’ve expected. Having a moratorium on mainstream news has opened our eyes. We can think better, have very little anxiety about politics, and have greater faith in America…even more so than ever in our lives.

With our own eyes, traveling through 10 states (and D.C.), we see, hear, and sense that the vast majority of Americans are good and decent people. Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are fed up and willing to protect their freedoms, traditions, history. 

Kentucky Rain, Bomb Bunker, Bates Motel


Seconds before we left West Virginia on IH64 to enter Kentucky today, it began to drizzle.

Why is that mentioned?

I can guess the first thing my friends Ray and Leland Hammonds think of when the subject of Kentucky is brought up is horse racing. Our parents and grandparents actually raced horses together for decades. (The Hammonds cousins continue to own race horses to this day).

Lydia Dennis, Shirley Hammonds, Annie Dennis, Jack L. Dennis Jr., Kenneth Hammonds, ?, Odell Dennis (jockey).

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind with Kentucky? Whiskey? Bourbon? Bluegrass? Fried chicken?

Being the Elvis Presley fan that I am, of course, my first thought as we entered the state with a drizzle, was his first 1970s hit “Kentucky Rain.” In fact, it was his 50th Gold Record.

Recorded at American Sound Studio, the hit was written by Eddie Rabbitt and Dick Heard. One of the backing musicians was pianist Ronnie Milsap.

Before he was recording hits such as “I Love a Rainy Night” and “Drivin’ My Life Away,” Rabbitt also penned Milsap’s “Pure Love.” 

Both were ecstatic about being associated with Elvis.

Elvis even hired Milsap to be the entertainment at his private New Years Eve Party.

“He was the voice of my generation,” Milsap explained. “I had a million questions to ask him, but he wanted to talk about that session of ‘Kentucky Rain,’ so we talked about that.”

Milsap asked Elvis if he’d like to sing at that party.

“No, I want to sit here with my friends and not have to worry about singing,” Elvis replied.

“Well, we know all your songs,” Milsap said.

But that was fine, Milsap reminisced, “He knew we did, but he didn’t want to get up and sing, and that was fine. It was his party.”

Kentucky Horse Park

So we drive in to Lexington and go northward towards The Kentucky Horse Park. It’s the only kind of it’s venue in the world. Set on 1,200 acres, it has four museums, show barns, the Show Jumping Hall of Fame and more.

Unfortunately the drizzle became a full fledged storm. A real Kentucky Rain!

Earlier I had thought about staying in The Greenbrier Resort, but room prices ranging from $250 to $25,000 (plus $250 for Mr. Beefy) quickly changed my mind.

The Greenbrier Resort

Baby Boomers may have heard of
“Project Greek Island.” It was the codename for a super secret, giant underground bunker under a portion of the Greenbrier.

During the Eisenhower and Kennedy era it was built to house all 535 members of Congress during an atomic bomb attack.

The Greenbrier has been welcoming guests from around the world since 1778. Construction began in 1958 on the 112,544-square-foot bunker, which was built 720 feet into the hillside under The Greenbrier’s West Virginia Wing. 

Once complete in 1961, the facility was maintained in a constant state of readiness by a small group of government employees working undercover as Forsythe Associates, a company hired by the resort for audio/visual support services.

It features a 25-ton blast door that opens with only 50 lbs. of pressure, decontamination chambers, 18 dormitories designed to accommodate over 1,100 people and a power plant with purification equipment and three 25,000-gallon water storage tanks.

Over the 30 years that it was an active facility, communications and other equipment were updated, keeping The Bunker at full-operation status. The location of the facility, critical to its effectiveness, remained a secret until 1992.

So, the Greenbrier was out of our price range and the storm forced us to drive about 20 mph on the 70 mph IH 75.

The storm was so intense, 18-wheelers and passenger cars were forced to pull over and wait it out. We finally reached the safety of where we’re staying tonight.

Although in the hard rain it looks so much like the Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho movie, we were just happy to be off the highway.

It’s actually turning out to be one of our favorite places to stay on the trip. The North Star Inn, in Corinth, Kentucky, is a very quaint and comfortable inn owned by Dawn and David Henson. They also have a nice cafe next door (check-in is there) that people say offers delicious home made plates. Unfortunately their hours and days are limited during the pandemic.

Kentucky rain keeps pouring down
And up ahead’s another town that I’ll go walking through
With the rain in my shoes (Rain in my shoes)
Searching for you
In the cold Kentucky rain
In the cold Kentucky rain

Almost Heaven, On the Trail of Daniel Boone

After spending the 244th birthday of America in Washington on July 4th, we traveled on towards West Virginia and Kentucky.

Ironically, 244 years to the day, July 5th, 1776, Indians captured Daniel Boone’s daughter Jemima and two of her companions in Boonsborough, Kentucky. Boone quickly staged an ambush and rescued the girls, inspiring the historical novel, The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper.

Baby Boomers like me grew up with heroes like The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. It was a natural bucket list choice to visit Boone country.

Actor Fess Parker played the movie and television roles of both Crockett and Boone, American explorers and frontiersmen. It was Boone who blazed a trail through the Cumberland Gap, providing access to America’s western frontier.

Because of Parker, the Coonskin Cap became a national craze in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He starred in the TV series Daniel Boone from September 24, 1964, to May 7, 1970, on NBC for 165 episodes.

Fess Parker and Ed Ames
as Boone and Mingo.

Ed Ames co-starred as Mingo, Boone’s Cherokee friend, for the first four seasons of the series. Even Country Western singer (“Big Bad John”) Jimmy Dean was a featured actor as Josh Clements during the 1968–1970 seasons. Actor and former NFL football player Rosie Grier made regular appearances as Gabe Cooper in the 1969 to 1970 season. 
 
When Boone founded the colony of Boonsborough, Indian attacks were common causing many settlers to eventually leave Kentucky. But Boone brought his family to live.

In February 1778, Shawnee Chief Blackfish captured Boone and adopted him as his own son. But Boone escaped four months later and helped Boonsborough defeat the Shawnee at the Siege of Boonsborough.

Boonsborough

After establishing the settlement of Boone Station in December 1779, he relocated to present-day West Virginia and served in the Virginia legislature. 

When elected as a representative in the Virginia legislature, he shouldered his pack, took his gun, and walked the entire trip to Richmond and return on foot. Boone served in the legislature with George Clendennin, the founder of Charleston.

He became a resident of a valley that resulted in Boone County, WV being named for him. About 1795 there was a family of Flinns living on Cabin Creek. The Flinn home was attacked by Indians. The mother and father were killed and a daughter named Cloe Flinn was taken prisoner.

When Boone learned of the tragedy, he knew the location of the Indians and succeeded in rescuing her from their camp. Now being an orphan, Boone took the girl into his own home and her a member of the family.

When he moved to Missouri, he became a respected leader and in 1807 was appointed a justice of Femme Osage township by Meriweather Lewis, famed leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition who at the time was serving as governor of the region.

At the age of 78, Boone volunteered for the War of 1812 but was denied admission. In 1817, the lifelong outdoorsman went on a final hunt into his beloved wilderness.

He lived the last years of his life in Missouri, where he died of natural causes on September 26, 1820, at the age of 85. 

Some years later, a proposal came before the Virginia legislature to form two counties from Logan County. St. Clair Ballard, a grandson of the Cloe Flinn who was rescued by Daniel Boone, was a member of this legislature from Logan county.

When the time came to give the new county a name, Mr. Ballard told the story of his grandmother’s rescue by Boone and moved by way of acknowledgment to Boone’s services, that the county be given his name. The motion was unanimously passed.
When Boone died in the Femme Osage River Valley in Missouri, he was buried beside his wife, Rebecca, on the farm of his daughter, Jemima.

In 1845, the Boones were disinterred and their remains were moved to Frankfort, Kentucky.

Charleston, WV was granted a charter to the community in 1794 under the name Charles Town. It was shortened to Charleston in 1818. Booker T. Washington grew up in nearby Malden, then known as Kanawha Salines.

In 1834, James Craik, grandson of George Washington’s personal physician, built a house on the east side of Charleston.

Craik-Patton House, Charleston, WV

It was sold in 1859 to the wife of George Smith Patton, who had come to the Kanawha Valley to practice law. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Patton organized the Kanawha Riflemen and fought for the Confederacy. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Winchester. His great-grandson was General George S. Patton, Jr., a hero of World War II. The Craik-Patton House is now a historic landmark.

The state is just beautiful…almost Heaven.

John Denver performed it best:

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze

Country roads, take me home
to the place I belong
West Virginia, Mountain Mama
Take me home, country roads