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) 🙂

Homeful!

Howdy, folks!

I guess it’s due time for me to step into the role of contributor for this here blog.  Dan and I have been enjoying our slow-mosey (and sometimes hot pepper quickstep) tandem journey across the United States for over two years now, and we are having the time of our lives!  If you follow either (or both) of us on Facebook or Instagram, you have seen literally thousands of pics and heard hundreds of our road stories through our photographs and the captions below them, or through Dan’s videos.

I haven’t really been one to make videos, but when we became home owners all of a sudden, I thought it would be fun to share our news in the form of a video.  I learned a lot while making it, and more than anything, I got the chance to really show all of you a little slice of the fun we are having while adjusting to our two-home status.

At the beginning of our journey, we talked about finding a piece of land to plant a schoolie on, a little respite from perpetual roadlife for a few months a year.  We are both creators and tinkerers, and we long for a place to lay out our tools and stretch out a bit, catch up on projects, retool and upgrade things in Erik Van Home, our primary home.  I have been nomadic for nearly 5 years now with stops for various lengths of time, and I have always found that a little rest now and again is a very good thing for me.  Road life is absolutely amazing, but it does take a lot of planning and organization, and a lot of little things that need to get done get set aside while we make tracks for the next someplace else.

While house/dog sitting in November, I spied an ad for a little park model home in Quartzsite, Arizona.  We hadn’t really considered an RV park type arrangement, but given some thought, we realized that it was the perfect perch for the winter-time exploration of the Southwest part of the country.  It offered lots of perks…hot tub, club house, lapidary shop, live entertainment, all sorts of activities, plus the security of knowing that there are people around when you are ready to drive away for most of the year.  We called on the ad, and our interest was piqued.  At the same time, I felt we should call the office of the RV park to see what else was available.

Serendipity stepped in, and the clerk at the RV park made us aware of another unit, for a 1/4 of the price. Furnished, with covered patio and shady back yard.  We saw a few pics, and contacted the owner in Canada.  We couldn’t leave Texas just yet, so we took a chance and bought the place sight unseen.  Well, except for those few pictures.  We made plans to scurry westward on a wing and a prayer, having faith that we had made a good choice.

The Universe said, hey, look at that trust!  I raise you one mighty fine little bungalow for your faith that all works out for the best when you are walking your path and staying positive, active, helpful, and happy.  We flew across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, and on the day after Thanksgiving, we were handed the keys to our little desert castle.  It is all we ever wanted in a little winter camp, and is just right for the four of us.  Well, you can see for yourself.  Now you know where we will be for a few months every winter.  Pretty sweet, eh?

We have been busy settling in, while at the same time getting ready to be back on the road full time come spring.  Quartzsite has been a place of much activity for us.  Between van upgrades, tinkering on the little casita, prospecting for gold and minerals, attending field trips and meetings of the gem and mineral and metal detecting clubs, hanging out with friends who are visiting for the annual Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, and learning new skills like lapidary and silversmithing, we have had a full calendar.  We know we will always find plenty to do here when we come back next time, and we are so grateful for this blessing!

Many thanks to everyone who has followed our travels on this blog, and on our @twentyonefeathers and @fireman428 Instagram pages, and on my Facebook page, “The Sunny Side” (stepintothesunlight).  It is for you that we tell our tales, hoping to inspire you to live your best life, and to take a few tiny baby steps, or maybe one big leapity-leap towards YOUR dream!

 

In the meantime…..just doooooo it! 🙂 Oh, and get out, be safe, and GO ADVENTURE!~Brenda

 

 

New Prospects on the Horizon…

{Any text underlined and in blue is a link to more information.}

As almost a followup to the last blog post, this one is along the same vein.  (Pun intended.)  After running into a real life Gold Miner, Steve Hunt, we decided there might be something to all the stories about the gold in this area.  I mean why else would someone spend hours a day, days out of the month, month after month for years prospecting or working a claim? So, we joined a metal detecting club and purchased a Gold Monster 1000 detector to join in what looks to be fun.  Wait, did I say day after day, month after month, year after year is fun?   Hahahaha.

We have been members of the GPAA, Gold Prospectors Association of America, for some time now because back east it was good to get out in the forest, camp, play in the streams and in general enjoy time together in nature.  But WOW this is different!  Just as I’m excited to learn about desert survival, we’re also looking forward to learning the tricks of the trade when it comes to desert prospecting.

We went exploring today, looking for the claims that belong to the metal detecting club that we joined. We were hoping that it would be a good place to “wet our feet” in this desert. The first thing we learned was that the claims are marked, well sort of….

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The “marker” at the edge of the claim may have been these tires that once held the stack of rocks and the claim sign.
We found a claim we were OK to work on in an area where modern-day “claim jumpers” are really frowned upon.  Anyone caught working someone else’s claim is subject to fine,  imprisonment,  and forfeiture of ALL equipment.  If one is caught by the authorities, that is to say we are where the old-west rules may still apply.   😉

We ran into several people working their own  claims within the club boundaries.  This spurred us on to ride a little further.  We learned the “PUSH” had not yet been done, but that did not deter us.  You see, the club was hiring someone with a backhoe to “push” the top layer of dirt over to expose new dirt.  The significance of this is that it will expose new dirt to the metal detectors hunting for GOLD!  The gold will be most likely laying on the bedrock in most places.  In some places the bedrock can be several feet deep in a layer of other small rock and sand.  Still this rock and sand may still contain gold in small nuggets or flakes or even real fine “flour gold”.  And that’s why everyone gets excited about the push.

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In this section there’s big rocks, smaller rocks, even smaller rocks, sand, and possibly GOLD.  The gold may be distributed in the layers of rock and sand, with the highest concentration at the bedrock.  We find holes dug several feet deep because the bedrock may stretch from a few inches to 20 feet deep or more.

The people that came here in the “gold rush” left behind piles of dirt removed from mines they were digging in search of that big lode or vein of gold running sometimes deep in the mountains.

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Here’s one such opening into the earth.  These can be very dangerous because often times they are merely tunnels with no shoring or bracing inside.  The picture is blurry because I took it from a good distance to avoid being on some one else’s claim.

Having started this blog post several days ago I’ve since been out twice on my own and once with the Temeccula Valley Prospectors Club.  These guys know how to do it right!

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This potluck dinner was a fiesta kind of  dinner.

After a visit to the GOLD EYE MINE they had a potluck spread that was outrageous.  Who says you can’t eat good in the desert.

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Practicing my panning skills I found this gold in a bag of paydirt.

I also panned some “pay-dirt” from another location and FOUND GOLD!  Now while I could just about bet there was some in that dirt it was still exciting to see the color come up in the pan.  And this is what drives most of the prospectors today, the thrill of the hunt.  Don’t forget if you do find a good nugget the price of gold just might make it worth it.  If you’re curious check out the current price here GOLDPRICE.ORG

That’s it for now.  You see I went out yesterday and I’ve got some paydirt to process.

So as always, “Be Safe, Get Out, and Go Adventure”

 

 

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