Chihuly Exhibit at the Biltmore Estate

Dan capped off our East Coast summer tour with a surprise visit to Biltmore Home and Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina. As a student of architecture, it has been on my bucket list for decades. We spent a few blissful hours wandering, in complete awe, along the fringe of a growing thunderstorm. We toured the sprawling home and a few of the gardens, and of course, the exquisite arboretum. We made it back to the van only partially soggy as the downpour descended upon our little rolling home. The flowers and the home will each have their own post. They both truly, truly deserve their place in the sun. Enjoy this little stroll through the Dale Chihuly exhibit that was in place on the day of our visit. ❤ “Glass is the most magical of materials. It transmits light in a special way.” ~Dale Chihuly

Wouldn’t you agree?

 

 

 

Our Van Kitchen!

Howdy, y’all! I bought an upgraded phone that has much more storage and plenty of room to sprawl out and do what I like to do best. I gathered up some pictures of kitchen life in our van over the past three years to share with you. I’m working through the WordPress mobile app again, so I will fling out these photos and see where they land. I love our little kitchen! Blessings~Brenda

Mabry’s Mill

When you follow us it is un-tellin’ (my word) what you might see.

Brenda and I have a wide variety of interests, and some are shared. One of these is our love for living history and the nature of our past.

The first thing I saw walking into this area brought a flashback from my childhood. A cane mill stood at the entrance, along with the “boiling pan.”

This was a flashback from childhood days when my grandfather grew sugar cane and there were community “grindings”. One family in the community near Madison, Fla. had a mill and boiling pot. That mill went into production when the cane came to maturity. Families would harvest their cane and bring it for an all-day affair around the mill. The kids were never allowed to be near the mashing wheels and gears. Instead, our job was to keep the mule walking the circle ascribed by the end of the drive pole.

We both have mills in our family history, so we tour mills quite often in our travels.

This particular mill built by Ed Mabry was unique to me. It is divided into sections within the same building. The left side of the mill was a lumber mill Ed used to cut lumber for himself and his neighbors, while the right side was a workshop. In the center was the grist mill. All were powered by the over-shot water wheel outside.

You can see the “race” pouring water on top of the “wheel” through the artist’s drawing here. The wheel supplied energy to turn the other pulleys inside the mill-house.

To accomplish all this work, Mr. Mabry had to build two “flumes” from different creeks. It took that much water to turn the wheel.

Here’s a view of the lumber mill and the workshop.

The grist portion of the mill had two sets of stones. One was for grinding course meal, and the other was for finer household flour. These stones, unlike some mills, came from a local source. A Congiomerae in Blackburg, VA produced and shaped these from the quarry there.

The customer would stand on the milling platform and pour their grain into the center opening of the top stone. Mr. Mabry would be standing below making adjustments to the space between the stones to control the texture of the finished product. They could grind flour, meal, and grits as finished products.

While his mill was the center of activity, Ed was also an accomplished blacksmith.

In his shop, he produced many household items and wagon wheels as well.

There were other “industries” during this time that served the community.

Spinning and producing thread from wool and plant fibers allowed the loom to create rugs and cloth for garments and other useful items.

Baskets for gathering and storing were also handmade during this time.

Now there were times when one would relax or challenge another in a friendly checkers match.

Never mind the outcome…

It’s the game I would’ve loved to watch!

I want to share a picture of my sidekick during some of this.

While maybe not the prettiest face in the crowd, it was very interested in what I was doing.

You can always find more pictures of our travels on our Instagram feeds. Check out @twentyonefeathers and @fireman428 by clicking on our Instagram names here.

REMEMBER…

Be safe, Get out, and Go adventure.

What we do….

I can only imagine what our followers are thinking sometimes. Are they a travel blog, a commentary, a survival/bushcraft/prepper leader, lovers of all things nature, life travelers…?

Well, yes! Yes we are.

Brenda and I have many different interests, and yet common themes run throughout.

She insists that you “Dooooooo It!” while I insist you “Get out, Be Safe, and Go Adventure!”. Is it any wonder that our life streams seem to always flow in the same direction?

The real beauty of our travels, and so our lives, doesn’t live in the pictures we post. It lives in the ability to be free and spontaneous every day. People ask “what are your plans from here?”, and I honestly answer “I dunno”.

You see, part of true freedom rests and flourishes in our mindset of flexibility. See an interesting sign, or thing? Go check it out! It’s only a side trip that may lead to a great discovery.

That’s how we lead our lives. Always mindful of there is no coincidences in our universe. We find, sometimes after the fact, we have been led to a particular place or person for a reason. It’s merely our time to be a conduit to serve others, and our chance to learn from the experience as well.

So, now you understand a little more of the what we do, why we do, and maybe the seeming randomness of how we do.

The pictures here are such a small sample of our lives you should visit and follow our adventures on Instagram. We are known as Fireman428 and Twentyonefeathers.

So, as always…

Get out, Be Safe, and Go Adventure!

Exploring around Mystic, CT

We’ve stopped in Mystic, CT to fill a bucket list item of Brenda’s. We ate at Mystic Pizza today.

This 80’s movie theme turned out to be pretty good pizza.

In case you’ve forgotten, or maybe just weren’t around in the 80’s…

Here’s a link, Mystic Pizza the movie..

We stopped at a park to walk the dogs, exercise, and of course explore. This path is part of several on the Groton Trail. This one is the Beebe Pond Park. So go along with us…

Exploring the Pond.

As always…

Get out, Be Safe, and Go adventure.

Our writeup in the Houston Herald newspaper!

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Howdy, friends!

We spent this past weekend at the Midwest Vanlife Gathering in Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri.  We were excited to have been interviewed by the Doug Davison of the Houston Herald, a local newspaper. See the link at the bottom of this post to go directly to the print version of OUR story. Here is the link to more photos of the event posted on their website:
https://www.houstonherald.com/photos-midwest-vanlife-gathering/collection_a8484322-5dd0-11e8-8b07-3b89be62a678.html

We were also interviewed by “CBS Sunday Morning”, but we won’t know for awhile if our story will be included in the feature about this wonderful event.  We really enjoyed ourselves, and had the chance to meet so many new friends.  We had the opportunity to tour a huge variety of vehicles owned by other nomadic folks.  It was an interesting and informative weekend, and we learned a lot.  We so appreciate each of you for following our journey, and we always love sharing our stories of life on the road.  Again, click on the link below to see the print version of our own vanlife story!

Our article in the Houston Herald

Happy trails!

Dan and Brenda Cordray

(Photo credit Doug Davison)

A stop at Professor A J R’s Odditorium

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Howdy, friends!

During our recent trip to Stevenson, Alabama, we were really looking forward to returning to a place we had visited during our travels through Alabama two years ago.  Brown Folk Art was one of those off-the-beaten-path treasures that we stumbled upon when we got lost while looking for another really amazing place, Walls of Jericho, a 21,000 acre wildlife management area situated on the Tennessee/Alabama state line.  The Walls of Jericho is located where the longest hardwood forested plateau on Earth, the Cumberland, thrusts into Alabama.  Its environment is also influenced by the Paint Rock River Basin, one of the last free-flowing rivers in the Southeastern United States.  This combination creates a spectacularly diverse array of habitats, plants, and animals found nowhere else in this country.  Someday, we plan visit and to enjoy some lengthy exploration of this area.

As we wandered by, we were astonished to see Mr. Brown’s menagerie of handmade yard and folk art spread out across several acres of rolling Alabama farmland.  We immediately turned the van around when we saw the sign letting us know that “there is no other place like this place anywhere near this place, so this must be the place”.  Who can resist that kind of enticement?

We were treated to a tour of the property, which included several small outbuildings full of folk art and cabins that were being built or restored for rental.  You can see the post Dan created about our visit to this fascinating place by following this link: https://dancordray.com/2016/04/27/this-must-be-the-place/, or by scrolling down through our Instagram feeds, @twentyonefeathers and @dancordray for more photographs of our visit.

When we traveled through the area last year, we saw Mr. Brown’s sign and some of his creations at a shop in downtown Stevenson.  The store was closed, so we made a mental note and planned to visit this year during the annual Southeast Get-Together of nomadic folk at nearby Raccoon Creek Wildlife Management Area.  We made a stop this year, only to find that the shop was again closed.

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Dan followed the trail of whimsical sculptures around the corner of the building and was immediately drawn by the sight of Professor A J R Graham’s Odditorium, located within and also on the grounds surrounding a quirky 1920’s era Sears mail order catalog home.  The shop’s owner, Redmond Graham, was more than happy to allow us to explore at will this jam-packed wooden structure, chock full of treasures from days gone by and original artwork, with some items consisting of an off-the-wall and frequently hilarious combination of the two.

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We truly enjoyed hearing Redmond’s stories about this unique homestead and another home located directly behind it, as well as the history of the Stevenson area and his decision to create this unusual collection of wondrous items.  He is in the process of opening a small cafe onsite, and has quite a gift for spinning a yarn and creating eye-catching works of art from recycled and reclaimed goods.

We were allowed to sift through piles of raw materials and art supplies in the upstairs portion of the home, and we purchased a few small treasures to remind us of this day and our visit with Redmond in his “Odditorium”.  Have a look at the video below that Dan created to share our visit with you, our followers.  We were invited back anytime, and we plan to come again next year and have a meal in his new cafe!  If you are traveling through Stevenson, don’t miss a chance to visit this fascinating museum/shop/cafe, and tell Redmond we said hello!

 

Professor AJR Graham’s Odditorium Interview

Happy trails, y’all!

Get out, be safe, and go adventure!

 

~Brenda (soon to be Cordray) 🙂

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