Logging 5200 miles over 35 days, we wove our way along the Appalachian mountains north, west, and south again to visit destinations on my bucket list.
We headed north out of Florida with overnights in Georgia and North Carolina. The first stop was in Virginia and Shenandoah National Park and a drive on Skyline Drive. From there we drove through the badlands of Pennsylvania visiting my old nemesis Three Mile Island Along the way. This took us through the land of legends to coastal Maine.
Driving south now we visited Watkins Glen and the famous raceway and state park there. Our new two stops were to explore my roots with stops in Pennsylvania at my father’s ancestral home in Snow Shoe and my mother’s hometown of Connellsville. Continuing south we drove through West Virginia and saw the New Gorge National Park along the way.
We ended up in Tennessee, near Knoxville, at the home of my friend Bill. We visited the Smokey Mountains and toured the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. From there I spent a day with my friend Laura in Georgia and then headed south to Panama City.
We finished up there with a great visit with my brother Dave and his family including my 10-month-old grand-nephew Theo! Back home to access the damage from Ian – fortunately not too bad.
Next trip – Excellent Adventure 2023 – The West Coast!
Bill, Laura, and I visited some museums in Oak Ridge Tennessee. Oak Ridge is the home of the Clinton Engineer Works, now called Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The uranium used in the ‘Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima was made here. The effort was herculean. The world’s largest building (at that time) was built and manned to hold the hundreds of machines used to enrich the Uranium. It’s known as the K-25 site.
There were other efforts using different enrichment techniques at other locations on the large laboratory site.
Today the Laboratory has very active programs. Especially for the production and use of neutrons for imaging and other high-tech application, as well as programs for our nuclear stockpile.
I stumbled upon a machine there which brought back some amazing experiences from my early professional work. My first job at Boeing was to test aircraft using a much more modern version of this hardware. Later I went to work for Hewlett-Packard which was making modern vibration test systems.
In the middle with the big dial is a Hewlett-Packard Oscillator. This was a version of the original product Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard made in the garage in Palo Alto in the late 1930s. One of the first customers was Disney which used them to make the soundtrack for the movie ‘Fantasia’ during the same time period. I actually did marketing work on the successor models many years later and was directly involved in obsoleting the product line.
We also visited the American Museum of Science and Energy which had very good exhibits on some of the newer efforts of the lab as well as its history and general information on nuclear energy.
Located in the Smokey Mountian area outside of Knoxville. We drove up one afternoon to check out some waterfalls and the fall color. Lots of retired guys driving their motorcycles and Corvettes on a fine sunny day!
We headed south for three days driving in the remnants of Ian. Fortunately, it was mostly drizzling. It made for some almost surreal scenery driving through the mountain mists of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The mountains got ‘tighter’ in West Virginia and it seemed for a while we were always turning left, then right, then left,… Over and over again!
We stayed at a couple of interesting campgrounds. In Flatwood the campgrounds had a very nice amphitheater. I guess people come to camp and listen and watch the performances?
In Wytheville, the campground has a bowling alley! That was a first. It also offered some serious glamping opportunities in a covered wagon!
On the second day, we passed through New River Gorge National Park. This is an area famous for its white water rafting. We stopped at the visitor center to view the famous bridge covering the span in the mist. For a while after its construction the largest single-span arch bridge in the world.
The next stop is Tennesee for some time with my friends Bill & Laura. Great news it is supposed to be sunny (and colder) all week. I can finally dry out after a fairly wet trip! I plan to visit Oak Ridge while I am there. It is the home of Oak Ridge National Laboratories which had played a huge part in the development of nuclear energy (and weapons).