Wed. September 18

Approximately 36 miles NW of Red Bay we discovered an area that consists of several small towns that have an incredible impact on American music.

The towns are:

  • Muscle Shoals. The 2019 census states the population was 14,575. 
  • Sheffield, located in the Shoals metropolitan area, had a population of 8,986 in 2019.
  • Florence located across the Tennessee River had a population of 40,309 in the 2019 census.

That’s what makes this area extraordinary and disproves the adage that “size matters” which alludes to the larger, the better.

We’ve heard musicians have pilgrimaged to Memphis or Nashville to get discovered and make their start. So why are we writing about the Shoals?

Founded by Rick Hall, FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprises) Studios originally located in Florence is now located in Muscle Shoals and had produced many hit records and was instrumental in what came to be known as the Muscle Shoals sound. The session musicians, known as “The Swampers”, created their signature sound, a combination of country, R&B and soul music. The group surprised black artists, who were often in disbelief to learn that the studio musicians were white.

FAME’s website states, “Some places retain a quiet magic. This magic doesn’t announce itself, but you do feel it nonetheless. It’s in the air and among the denizens as if they’re keeping a secret they can’t wait to share—but hold onto tightly nonetheless. You can count Muscle Shoals, Alabama among those mythical places… With little more than 13,000 residents, it’s located 678 miles from the Motown of Detroit and just under 1,000 miles from New York City. However, this cozy community built on 16 square miles of damned-up swamp land unassumingly served as the fertile creative ground for seminal smashes by everyone from The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan to Etta James and Aretha Franklin. You might know the words to every song by heart, but you only knew the place by studying the liner notes of dusty old vinyl’s from the 60s, during which the south was at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Under the shadow of Jim Crow and the KKK, this creative bastion made a stand for equality by uniting African American and Caucasian musicians in the studio on these immortal records.”

In 1969, four session musicians, known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section left FAME to start their own recording studio, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio (now mostly a museum) located in Sheffield. 

These two studios have produced the Muscle Shoals Sound and have worked with some of the Greatest artists in Rock music history.

Artists such as Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Otis Redding, the Osmonds, Jerry Reed, Alabama, Mac Davis, the Gatlin Brothers, Bobbie Gentry, The Gregg Allman Band, Third Day, Michael McDonald, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Aloe Blacc, Chord Overstreet, Keb Mo, John Paul White, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Matisyahu, Band of Horses, Drive by Truckers, Bettye Lavette, Cyril Neville, the Civil Wars, Anderson East and Jamey Johnson and The Rolling Stones to name a few.

The Muscle Shoals Sound Playlist

 

We visited the Alabama Music Hall of Fame museum which tributes these musicians. Photos below.

 

We also visited the Huntsville Botanical Garden. The 112-acre garden is open year-round and contains a diverse ecosystem of meadows, upland and bottomland forest, wetlands, and a variety of specialty gardens and native plant collections. This garden is well worth the visit when in the area.

Huntsville is best known for its military technology and aerospace industries. It was here that scientists designed and tested the Saturn V rocket that would send men to the moon for the first time.

Garden photos

Tuesday, September 28, we left the Tiffin service area and Red Bay and started the last segment of our trip in search of “leaf season”, the beginning fall in the Appalachian Mountains. Our first stop is in the Chattanooga area for an overnight stay and then on to Sevierville, TN.

 

 

Today’s Thought 

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston S. Churchill

Upcoming Trip Schedule

Wed, September 29, 2021

Sevierville, TN

The Ridge Outdoor Resort

We will spend 6-days in the Sevierville area exploring the Smokey Mountains.

Miles from last stop: 159

 

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Wed. September 10

We are always looking for interesting things to do in the areas we travel. On this day we jumped into the jeep and headed to Elvis Presley Birthplace in Tupelo, MS. Tupelo is a short 34 miles west if Red Bay.

We were pleasantly surprised at this memorial established to Elvis’ early life. The grounds are landscaped beautifully and quite meditative. The exhibit and stories from friends and family were interesting. The Birthplace memorializes the first 13-years until the family moved to Memphis. This memorial is maintained by the East Heights Garden Club.

Their website says, “In 1934, Vernon Presley borrowed $180 for materials to build a small frame house in East Tupelo. Vernon’s father Jessie and Vester, his brother, helped with building the little shotgun house. It was in this humble two-room home lit by a single light bulb in each room that Elvis Aron Presley was born on January 8, 1935. Elvis was one of twin brothers born to the Presleys. His brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn.”

The “birthplace” does not talk about Elvis’ later life and it is my assumption that Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.  has control of most things “Elvis”.

 

We went to Muscle Shoals for a bicycle ride.

The Muscle Shoals National Recreational Trail is a 17-mile paved and primitive trail and bikeway located on TVA’s Muscle Shoals Reservation. The ride took us through lush landscapes and across the Tennessee River on a long bridge.

Monday, 9/13, started our time in the Tiffin service bay. While the RV is in the bay, we spend time talking to other Tiffin owners in the waiting lounge.  On Thursday, we finished all of our “small” repairs and had a ladder installed on the Bus to make it easier for Joe to access the roof. Next stop is the cabinet bay to have our leaky shower floor repaired. After that, off to the paint shop for a minor scuff on the front fender and the bottom of the replaced spoiler. (No one seems to know why the bottom of the spoiler was not painted when they painted the top.) We’ll be in Red Bay longer than planned so we cancelled our reservations in Diamond Caverns Campground in Park City, KY. We’ll be re-planning our future routes to accommodate our extended stay here in Red Bay.

Such is life on the road. Flexibility and a good sense of humor is key. In the meantime we enjoy the company of friends at the campground and Red Bay Area.

 


Joe’s plug. … I use the 1440 Digest to catch up on the daily news. It is one of the most unbiased reports I get. Tired of the vitriol, give it a try.

There are 1,440 minutes in a day and every one is precious. That’s why 1440 Daily Digest scours hundreds of sources every day to provide a concise, comprehensive, and objective view of what’s happening in the world.

 

 

Today’s Thought 

“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.”

Elvis Presley

Upcoming Trip Schedule

Sun, August 31, 2021

Red Bay, Al

Red Bay Acres

We have scheduled (+/-) 17-days in Red Bay, home of Tiffin Motorhomes. This is Tiffin owners place to be for repairs, modifications, etc.

Miles from last stop: 230

 

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Wed, September 1

We arrived in Red Bay, AL, early afternoon after a drive through Memphis (a town we love), but were unable to stay due to the rains of Hurricane Ida). We waved as we passed through vowing to return on our next sojourn. With an hour left on our drive we passed through Tupelo, MS, birthplace of Elvis. We thought we might have to go back and tour the singer’s hometown. Also, not far from Red Bay is the birthplace of Helen Keller in Tuscumbia, AL, Coon Dog Cemetery and the Rattlesnake Saloon.

When we got to town we went immediately to the Tiffin Service Center to turn in our paperwork that will put us in line for service. Tiffin will send someone out tomorrow, Thursday, to let us know the wait time before they can get us into a service bay.

We then went to Red Bay Acres where we will “camp” while we wait for service. RBA, as it is know here, is Red Bay’s luxury RV resort with their own restaurant, a fully stocked pond and pickle ball court. Red Bay has many places to “park” and hook up to support the influx of Tiffin owners getting service from Tiffin and the many 3rd party vendors.

The guy from Tiffin arrived around 9AM Friday and told us it will be a week to week and a half before a bay will be available. Now the waiting begins! We’re number 15 on the wait list.

We drove to The Fish Place in Belmont, MS, and had their excellent fried catfish. When in Rome. … To fill in the time we scheduled COVID booster shots for tomorrow. We’ll have to drive the 40 minutes to Muscle Shoals and Florence to get them.

After our shots, Saturday, we went to a Publix in Florence. Who would have thought Publix would have stores out here?! That evening we went to the Rattlesnake Saloon in Tuscumbia. The Saloon, located under a huge rock, took just 49 days to construct before opening on Labor Day weekend in 2009. Since its opening, it has been featured in magazines, music videos, and tv shows and has become one of the top attractions in the area. We met a couple of nice ladies, Cathy and Charlotte and rode down the hill to the Saloon in the taxi, a pickup with benches in the bed covered by a canopy. We joined them for dinner and music. The band, Backdraft, played country classics we all enjoyed.

 

Monday, Labor Day, we traveled to the Coon Dog Cemetery, aka “Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard” to join in the Annual Labor Day Celebration hosted by the Friends of the Coon Dog Cemetery. The Cemetery has become a popular place to visit when in the area. The popular 2002 movie “Sweet Home Alabama” starring Reese Witherspoon, even included a scene featuring a recreated version of the graveyard. The Labor Day entertainment includes music, dancing, food and a liar’s contest.

 

 

We spend time visiting with our fellow “Tiffanites” at the Red Bay campgrounds. We always meet a lot of nice folks as we travel around the country. As a matter of fact on each side of us are folks from Florida and we will no doubt try to keep in touch with them to see what they’re up to and where they are. Who knows, we could end up caravanning with them. We have friends from our neighborhood, Anita and Doug, staying a few sites away. We just never know who we’ll  run into when traveling in an RV!

We’ll stay in Red Bay until we finish the repairs and upgrades on our motorhome. When we got here we were number 15 on the wait list. Today we are number 3.

Stay tuned for more Red Bay action!

Today’s Thought 

“What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?”

George Elliot

Upcoming Trip Schedule

Sun, August 31, 2021

Red Bay, Al

Red Bay Acres

We have scheduled (+/-) 17-days in Red Bay, home of Tiffin Motorhomes. This is Tiffin owners place to be for repairs, modifications, etc.

Miles from last stop: 230

 

LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!

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Sun, August 25

We continued our I40 trek eastward to the Ozark community of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, passing through Fort Smith, Fayetteville and Bentonville, home to WalMart. We visited the area in 2019 while in Branson, MO. We liked this area more than the commercialization of Branson and wanted to make it a stop on this year’s trip. “Secluded and peaceful with winding mountainside streets, Eureka Springs has flair like no other town. In fact, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Eureka Springs as one of its “Dozen Distinctive Destinations.” The streets of this north Arkansas town are lined with extraordinary Victorian homes hugging cliff sides, and its entire downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places.” Parking can be tough however the town has a trolly that can take you to most destinations.

Photos of our Eureka Springs stay are below.

Thursday was “catch-up day” to get some of our admin and chores caught up. We also took a drive to Thorncastle Chapel. We visited this chapel two years ago and found it a peaceful stop. Their website states, “Thorncrown Chapel was designed by world renowned architect E. Fay Jones. Fay was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 1921. He studied at the University of Arkansas, Rice University, the University of Oklahoma, and finally under his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright at the Taliesin Fellowship.” 

We decided to cancel our Memphis stop and extend our stay in Eureka Springs due to Hurricane Ida’s effects on our route.

Friday saw us on the Eureka Springs Tram Tours. The tour passes literally 100’s of old homes and historic buildings, as well as several of the healing springs that made Eureka Springs so famous in the late 1800’s. We ate lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Mud Street Cafe, an underground spot on Main St.

Friday evening we went to the Intrigue Theatre to see illusionist  Sean-Paul and Juliana Fay perform their  show, “Perplexed.” The show was fun and the illusionist interacted with the audience with every effect. This made the evening very enjoyable.

On Saturday, we took the tram into the downtown area of Eureka Springs and walked through many of the local businesses and enjoyed a pleasant outdoor lunch at the Eureka Grill.

Monday, our last day in the area, we decided to take a self-tour around the area visiting Pivot Rock and Natural Bridgeand Magnetic Spring.

Pivot Rock and Natural Bridge was first developed as a tourist attraction more than 100 years ago, the park features paved pathways winding through unique rock formations and the beautiful Ozarks. According to legend, the ravines and caves of the park  served as hideouts for outlaw Jesse James and the James-Younger Gang, the notorious band of Old West train and bank robbers..

Magnetic Spring was Eureka Springs’ number one attraction at the dawn of the 20th century. Its waters were said to cure drunkenness and drug addiction, which were big problems among the sick at that time, since many medicines were boosted with alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. Also, any metal object placed in the spring supposedly became magnetized — proof of the water’s mysterious power.

Tuesday we left for Brinkley, AR for our overnight stop at Dub’l R RV Park.

            This Segment’s Slide Show

 

 

 

Today’s Thought 

“Education must not simply teach work – it must teach Life.”

W.E.B. Du Bois

Upcoming Trip Schedule

Sun, August 29, 2021

West Memphis, AR

Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River Park

Canceled due to storm

 

Sun, August 31, 2021

Brinkley, AR

Dub’l R RV Park

Overnight stop on our way to Red Bay, AL

Miles from last stop: 240

 

Sun, August 31, 2021

Red Bay, Al

Red Bay Acres

We have scheduled (+/-) 17-days in Red Bay, home of Tiffin Motorhomes. This is Tiffin owners place to be for repairs, modifications, etc.

Miles from last stop: 230

 

LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!

We’d love to keep you updated with our latest news, tips and tricks! 😎

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.