07/15/2007 -17 °C
We Found It!
Well, the last time I wrote, we were struggling to figure out where it was that we were supposed to live. Guess what? We found it! But first, let me give you some background...
As we came to realize that Knoxville wasn't it, and neither was Nashville, we realized that the Lord was going to have a surprise for us somewhere -- something we were not expecting. When we went to Chattanooga and Cleveland, we thought that might be it -- but it wasn't. We were getting a bit confused, wondering where else we could go. Were we supposed to go to North Carolina? Kentucky? Was there anywhere else in Tennessee to go?
One thing that concerned us was that in all those other places, it was pretty hot and muggy! (surprise!) But the one thing we liked about Asheville, North Carolina when we visited there was the weather. It's at a higher elevation and has more moderate weather. But we didn't really care for Asheville overall, so that wasn't the answer either.
If you have an atlas like ours, Tennessee takes four pages -- the western half on two pages, and the eastern half on the next two pages. The eastern edge of the eastern two pages kinda ends with Knoxville. But on the bottom of those pages, they show a little box with the northeastern triangle in it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a map of Tennessee.
Anyway, Michael looked at the map and saw that northeast corner -- the Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol area. It's in the Appalachians and is at a higher elevation like Asheville -- after all, it's only about an hour north of there. So we decided to drive up to the northeast corner and check out the Tri-Cities Area (that's what they call the Johnson City/Kingsport/Bristol triangle).
This area is beautiful -- very hilly, trees everywhere, and a river runs through it. And the weather is very moderate. Over the last couple of weeks, the temperature has usually gotten up to the mid-80's, while the rest of the country is experiencing temperatures over 100. But the winters are also mild -- it rarely snows here and usually just gets down to the high 20's. A thunderstorm will occasionally develop in the afternoons, but it comes and goes, and it doesn't get too muggy.
Each of the three cities are just about 10-15 miles from each other, so they're really like one big metropolitan area. Actually, the larger metro area contains about 500,000 people, so there's a lot going on around here.
Search for a House
We started looking for a house in Johnson City, the largest of the three cities. But we were having trouble finding the kind of place we were looking for, so we started looking in Kingsport. Kingsport is right on the Virginia border. We found a great house there and so we bought it! Actually, we're closing on the house at the end of July, so right now we're just waiting.
OK, so let me tell you about the house. It's over 4000 square feet, with 3200 of that on the main floor (the other 800 is in a finished basement). And it's on about 1.2 acre, consisting of a large hilly yard, and lots of trees. It was an executive custom home built in the early 70's. It has a contemporary "California" look to it, which is in contrast to many of the brick colonials in this area. But it doesn't have a California or Oregon price -- we bought it for probably a third of what we would have had to pay for it in Medford. It's very well-built, but just needs some updating. Of course, that's what Michael likes to do, and we like to make our houses look like us, so that works out well. But right now, we're just waiting, and in between, making trips to Home Depot and Lowe's to figure out what we're going to do to the place.
As of August 1st, our new address will be 2101 Westwind Drive, Kingsport TN 37660. I don't have any pictures yet, but when I do, I'll be sure to share.
Search for a Church
This is a little out of sequence, but an important part of our decision to purchase this particular house was whether or not we would find the right church. We looked at this house on a Friday, and immediately fell in love with it. But before we would make an offer on it, we had to identify a church that we would go to. We asked our realtor what church in the area is the most dynamic large church around, and he told us Higher Ground Baptist Church, so that's where we went that Sunday. When we walked in, we formed the usual uninformed first impressions in our minds, although we didn't talk to each other about our thoughts. But as soon as the service started, and the choir started out with this incredibly powerful anthem, we instantly knew that we were in the right place. And as the service continued, it was confirmed minute by minute. The funny thing was, the pastor was on vacation that day, so we didn't even get to hear him speak! But it didn't matter. The Lord was very clear that this was the place, and gave us total peace that we were supposed to put an offer on that house and go to that church. So we made the offer on Monday. It was so exciting to see how the Lord led us to exactly where He wanted us, and that He made it joyfully obvious to us. We were wondering during the more frustrating moments whether or not we would clearly "get the message", but He didn't let us down!
Other Fun Stuff
We started learning about the Tri-Cities area, and the first order of business was figuring out where we would go for the July 4th festivities. We found out that THE place to go for the 4th was a little town down the road called Rogersville [by the way, that's pronounced Rahjs-vuhl ;-) ]. They had various musical groups all day, along with the usual food and kids activities. The temperature was in the mid-80's. We took our camping chairs and kicked back -- it was a great day. One of the guests was some state senator (?), but what was cool was that he started out by quoting scripture and talking about our freedom in this country and in the Lord. Then one of the musical groups was the praise band from one of the local churches. Ah, the Bible Belt!! :-) The headliner that evening was the country singer John Michael Montgomery. He put on a good show. The fireworks was probably one of the best we've ever seen, rivaling even the fireworks in Portland. And Rogersville is a very small town. Cool, huh?
MORE Fun Stuff
I have to admit, this last year I was totally hooked on American Idol, and followed those kids' progress faithfully. I had mentioned to Michael that during our travels we ought to follow where they were doing their summer show, and see if we could go to one. Frankly, I had forgotten about that, but something came to my mind last week, so I looked up their schedule. This was on Monday, and I saw that they were going to be in Nashville on Wednesday. I was amazed to find out that there were still good tickets left, so we decided to go. Since we were going to Nashville anyway, we decided to go to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (CMHFM) too.
We went directly to the CMHFM -- it was very interesting to see the history of country music (the founding of which they attribute to Bristol, part of the Tri-Cities). I didn't take a lot of pictures because I realized I was low on battery power -- so I just took a picture of one of the more interesting items in there -- the inside of Elvis's gold cadillac.
I would recommend that everyone go to the CMHFM some day. I'm not really a huge country music fan, but I found it very much a part of all of our American heritage.
Part of the tour also consisted of riding a bus over to Music Row and going to RCA Studio B. It's not really a working studio any more, but they do tours there. That's where hundreds of the old recording stars recorded their music, including Elvis, of course (he recorded over 200 of his songs there), Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves, etc. It was very interesting, and the history just reeked out of the walls.
After we left the facility, we walked around downtown Nashville, along Broadway. We saw a lot of famous bars and saloons, like Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Coyote Ugly, BB Kings, Wildhorse Saloon, and more. Of course, it was during the day, so there wasn't a lot of activity, but it was interesting seeing them -- and frankly, it was probably just as well. We also saw Roy Acuff's Record Store. I had to go inside to see if, in fact, they still had records -- and they did! Then finally we had a pulled pork dinner at Jack's BBQ. Yum!
The MOST Fun Stuff!!
So it's time to go to the Arena. I could tell by the ticket designation that we had some decent seats, but I had no idea how good until we went in. Ohmigosh! Our seats were in the center, the 4th row from the stage!! We had a fantastic view of the whole thing. How cool is that??
The show was awesome, and it was so fun to see those 10 AI kids. It lasted over 3 hours (with an intermission in there), and they all did an outstanding job. I took a lot of pictures (I bought new batteries downtown!), and you can go to my photosite to see just a few of them. (See the important note about my photosite at the bottom of the page).
Our Plans Going Forward
Some of you may be wondering -- is the travelling over now that you have a house? No way! We're still going to continue with our travel plans. As I said, we'll get into the house August 1st, and we'll start prepping the house for the remodel. However, we'll just be a couple of weeks there, then we're going to fly out to Medford to get our stuff (did you read that, Medford friends??!!!). Actually, Michael wanted to go out to our storage facility to get his tools and tile saw and stuff to do the house. Then we thought, well we might as well bring a truckful of stuff back (we have a good two truckfuls out there), and tow my VW back here. One thing led to another, and our son Matt volunteered to fly up to Medford and help us drive a second truck out. Our other son Scott wanted to get in on the fun too, but he's occupied with the Army that week. It will be fun, though, to spend the week travelling with Matt. When we get here, Scott is going to drive over (we're only about 4 hours away from him), and he will help us unpack.
We'll be flying out Wednesday, August 15th, and leaving with our trucks on Wednesday, August 22nd. I hope to be able to see everyone in Medford while I'm there. And I'll be at church on Sunday -- Trevor even said I could sing on the Worship Team (Yes! I'm needing that fix!!).
Regarding the other travel, we're still going to head to Louisville for the Gospel Music Convention in mid-September. From there we're going to Lancaster PA again (to go to the Sight and Sound Theater for my birthday). Then we'll head up to Maine and work our way down through the northeastern states, seeing the fall colors. By the way, when we tell people around here that we're going up north to see the colors, they look at us like we're crazy. I guess they have tons of hardwood around here and the colors are dazzling here too. I guess we'll miss that this year, but we'll have many more years to see it. Whenever we get back from those travels, we'll continue to work on our house.
I was informed by my photosite that they are going to be shutting down in September. UGH! That means I had to find another photosite. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to rebuild all my prior pictures (double UGH!), but I decided to go ahead and at least post my new pictures and send them along. So when you click this photosite link, it will take you to Shutterfly. I think it will ask you if you want to sign up, but you don't have to to see my pictures. I'm going to have to give you a link every time, so if you happen to have my photosite url saved, delete it. In case you want to go back to see my previous pictures, I'm going to be working on reloading all of it, and I'll let you know when it's ready to be seen.
Jes' Hangin' 'Round
I don't expect I'll blog again until we get back from Medford. After all, there's only so much I can write about hanging around here at the KOA campground!
Just a reminder -- if you feel like giving me a call, I still have my Medford cell number (541-941-6617). (Hint, hint).