Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Is it Fall or Winter?

Our first snow this year ... was in November!  What?  I still have pumpkins and mums out!  It was crazy!  I don't think I've ever had snow on my pumpkins that I can recall.  

While I'm not a fan of driving to work in the snow, I definitely loved looking at it.  Especially with all of the beautiful fall color underneath it!  Now I just wish the next snow would be on the weekend so that I can venture out in it and take more pictures, and pick up my nephew and go sledding!

Meet White Diamond!

Meet White Diamond!

She's mine.  I love her.  And they only get bigger from here!

I've been wanting a new car FOREVER!  My car has been paid off for almost two years tho - I didn't want to start car payments again!  My car is horrible in the snow and ice.  I knew I wanted to get something different before winter hit at least.   I've been in love with the new model KIA Optima for the last few years.  My mouth would salivate every time I saw one.  I thought surely that would be my next car.  THEN... we went on vacation and our rental was a GMC Acadia.  There was so much room in that thing!  I was hooked!  

We had been back from vacation for only a short period of time when I told Shawn that I thought I was ready to trade my car in, but I wanted an SUV.  And more specifically, an Acadia.  I searched online some, drove through a couple car lots.  My friends son bought a new car in Mt. Vernon, Heather sent me a link to a white Acadia they had there.  Oh it was nice!  I wanted to go test drive it.  Shawn was working in Mt. Vernon so I asked him to stop by and look at it.  He did, only it was actually at a car lot here in town.  So I went to look at it.  And I test drove it.  And I loved it.  The inside was exactly like the rental.  And I called Shawn to come look at it, but he was working and said he would the next day.  OK, I'll be patient.  But what if someone else buys it.  I'll take it as a sign that it wasn't meant to be then.

I was actually off work the next day for Gavin's field trip.  The field trip got cancelled.  YES!  It was a sign from above that we were to go look at that car again!  I was ready to go bright and early to see it with Shawn.  He was a super slowpoke that day.  I was patient with him though.  But what if someone else buys it before we can get there.  I kept telling myself if it's gone, then it wasn't meant to be.  We pulled in to the dealership...YES, the car was still there.  Shawn test drove it.  He liked it.  I inspected it thoroughly making sure all lights worked, turn signals worked, radio worked, windows worked, etc. etc. etc.

Then we bought it, and I drove her off into the sunset.  But then we encountered a few bumps along the drive off into the sunset.  Some pricey bumps actually.  We bought a used car with no warranty, we knew that going into it.  But Sweet Jesus was pouring his blessings down on us because we contacted the dealer we bought it from and they paid for those pricey bumps, and gave us rental vehicles while the bumps were being fixed.

Now she's good as new and I am in love with driving her!  

I've even had her out in the snow once this winter; well it was still technically fall.  But she did great!

And I love how much room she has for hauling family and friends!

She's even got third row seating...which Gavin informed me he's not a fan of.  She's just so roomy, even I climbed up in her into the third row area and buckled Gavin in.  Have I mentioned how roomy she is?

And for hauling my photography props!  There is an entire chair back there, sitting upright, with head room still.  Have I mentioned that I love her??

I'm so glad to be a member of the GMC Acadia family!  Like I told Shawn, I'm never going back to a car, and the vehicles can only get bigger from here!  HAHA!  He told me not to get carried away!

Holiday World Fun!

Near the end of October, Shawn and I took Gavin and Zoe to Holiday World for our first and only trip of the year.  Usually we make it out there at least twice - once in the summer for the water park, and once in the fall to ride rides, but this summer got away from us and we didn't get a chance to go.
In the fall I usually like to go either the last weekend they are open, or the next to the last weekend.  In the past when we've done this, obviously the weather is much cooler, but the crowds are much less too!  Usually there is no one there, you can park almost right at the door, and there are no lines for any of the rides.

That wasn't the case this time :(  That park was packed!  While it wasn't as busy as I've normally seen it, there was alot of people there for the fall time.  I'm not a fan of standing in line for rides, so we didn't get ride as many rides as we wanted too, but we did have a great time, we met up with some friends there, and Shawn won Zoe a big pink stuffed animal.

This was also the night that the kids were going to have a sleep over at our house, but the Acadia had other plans for that.  Long story!  I'll save that for another blog entry.

The turkey whirl - my favorite ride!  #4 is a really good spinner!  We always pick that turkey and we seriously make it spin, and scream the whole time we have it spinning! 

Gavin had the best time on the teacups and I don't think I've ever heard him laugh so hard in his little life. You can tell by the expressions on his face that he was loving it!  I took a video of this too, but my video's don't ever load to my blog correctly.  

While the kids went into the playground area, Zoe had me watch her phone.  I'm that one person who, if I see a phone or camera laying around, will pick it up and take pictures with it.  LOL!!  These are from Zoe's phone!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Out and About in Southern Illinois

Saturday morning over Thanksgiving weekend when we were in Eldorado visiting Shawn's parents, I got up early and ventured out to do some photography.  I figured it was the perfect time to go...I'm an early bird and everyone else sleeps in.

Anytime I'm going somewhere new, or different, I always like to search Google and see if I can find anything to visit and photograph.  Even though I've been to Shawn's parent's numerous times, I've never really ventured out to photograph anything.  

There was two specific things I was looking for on this day - the old Muddy Coal Mine coal tipple, and the old Crenshaw House in Equality and I found them both.  One was alot easier to find then the other, but it definitely made for an interesting morning.

My first stop was to find the Muddy Coal Mine coal tipple.  I found out about this place from a song on the radio actually.  I was driving home from work one evening and whatever radio station I was listening too a song came on that caught my attention.  It was talking about an old coal mine in Muddy, Illinois in Saline County.  I thought, well that's by Shawn's parents.  So I did some research on the song and found out about it and the story behind it.

The story below was taken from the Muddy Coal Mine website...

FEBRUARY 14, 2008 (NASHVILLE, TN)--Perhaps not since Tennessee Ernie Ford’s iconic “Sixteen Tons” has a song about coal miners resonated with the soul like Rocky Alvey’s “Muddy Coal Mine.”

Rich veins of coal were discovered within southern Illinois in the 1800s, dramatically changing the region where Alvey grew up. Men were farmers or coalminers, if not both, working back-breaking jobs in dangerous conditions.

“Each day these men went to work not knowing if they were coming home,” said Alvey, “but the fear they must have felt was not discussed.”

As a youngster, Alvey recalls staring out the window of a one-room schoolhouse in Muddy, Illinois, at the tipple—the area where coal is offloaded onto train cars—of the old O’Gara #12 mine situated only a few hundred yards away.

“For a little boy, the tipple was this imposing concrete structure, looming over the tree tops like an ancient ruin. In my young mind that tipple came to represent every coal mining story I ever heard, and every coal miner I knew.”

Forty years later, Alvey was back in southern Illinois caring for his ill mother when he rode by that tipple, still standing after all this time. “As I was driving, the words just came to me,” Alvey said. “I knew I had to write this song to convey what it’s like to be a miner, trapped under millions of tons of Earth, knowing that death may be imminent.”

Alvey’s transportive lyrics are chill-inducing with lines such as: “Everybody heard that coal seam crack, roof came down like the sound of thunder, and every single lamp in the mine went black.”
“Muddy Coal Mine” is an amalgamation of stories taken, in particular, from the infamous Cherry Coal Mine disaster of 1909 when 385 men were entombed in an Illinois mine, and from an incident that hit closer to home for Alvey. In 1946, his maternal grandfather was 700 feet underground in a feldspar mine when the Ohio River broke through the mine’s walls. The roof gave way and rock crushed his back. Two fellow miners fashioned a stretcher out of their jackets and sent Alvey’s grandfather back to the surface in an elevator cage, putting his safety before their own.

“Their actions are a testament to the selflessness and bravery of miners everywhere,” said Alvey. “These are men willing to put their lives on the line for their friends and neighbors and especially their families.”
As a young boy Alvey recalls a trip he took to the mines one day with his father that had a profound effect on him. In the mine entrance hung a wall of numbered brass tags. Before a miner went underground, he hung his numbered brass tag on the in-board, and placed another identical one in his pocket. When asked what the tags were for, his father said “Those tags are how they know whether a miner has made it back up.” And, after all, a brass tag could survive the ravages of fire and explosion, even when a man did not.
In honor of coal miners, Alvey is establishing a disaster relief fund through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. A percentage of the profits from this song will be contributed to the fund and available for coal mining disaster relief. “Songs are easy to write, coal mining is hard. In this way, I can honor and give something back to those men who have had such a powerful impact on my life.”

The lyrics to the song I heard on the radio are below...

Muddy Coal Mine

Rocky Alvey © 2005 

There's a little place down in Saline County

In southern most part of Illinois
A sign on the road says the name is Muddy
But the Muddy Coal mines don't work no more
The Muddy Coal mine don't work no more

The tipple still stands like an ancient ruin

A monument to those who have gone inside
Witness to the souls who have descended
But never came up from the Muddy Coal Mine
Never came up from the Muddy Coal Mine

Well the Muddy Coal Mine gonna get my body

Muddy Coal Mine will be where I lay
Lord have mercy on the poor coal miners
Trading their lives for a 4 foot vein
Tradng their lives for a damned coal vein

Thirty men rode in the cage to the bottom

Walked half a mile to the new north face
The miners coming out when third shift ended
Said “boys you better stay on your toes today”
“The roof ain’t stable on the new north face”

The roof pinner hollered out, “watch out fellas”

Everybody heard that coal seam crack
The roof came down like the sound of thunder
Every single lamp in the mine went black
Every single lamp in the mine went black

Well Muddy coal mine gonna get my body

The Muddy Coal Mine will be where I lay
Lord have mercy on the poor coal miners
trading their lives for a 4 foot vein
trading their lives for a damned coal vein

There were thirteen bodies and 9 uncounted

Folks I had known since a way back when
A leg was sticking out of a pile of rubble
Steel toe boot belonged to my best friend
Damned coal vein took my best friend

Some men prayed that the drills would find us

I told em all boys “get your poor souls right”
Cause I caught a whiff of the sulfur fire
I knew that they were sealing that shaft up tight
Sealing us up in the Muddy Coal Mine

Lord You know that I've been grateful

For every blessing in my short life
But who will put the food on my family's table
Who is gonna comfort my heartbroke wife
I was praying for my family when my time arrived

If you ever take a trip down to Saline County

In southern most part of Illinois
If you pass through a town that the folks call Muddy
You remember why the Muddy Coal Mine is closed
You remember why the Muddy Coal Mine is closed

Well the Muddy Coal Mine done got my body

The Muddy Coal Mine is where I lay
Lord have mercy on the poor coal miners
Buried at the bottom of the mine that day
That concrete tipple is a coal man’s grave

Please visit the Muddy Coal Mine website for more information.

I also discovered this small little post office in Muddy.  Until 2002, it was the smallest post office in the United States.  It has since closed and a larger post office is across the street.

There is also a disused Orthodox Church in Muddy.  The following was taken from the St. Basil the Great's website.

In 1880 Slovakian immigrants settled in southern Illinois to work in the coal mines of the region, and the small town of Muddy was born. The people who resided in this area shared a common faith, Russian Orthodoxy. A church was built in 1913, dedicated to the memory of St. Iosaph of Belgorod. The church served sixty families at that time. As the coal mining industry died out, people began to move out of Muddy, and soon the parish was without parishioners.
Madeline Pisani, a parishioner of St. Basil’s, was born in Muddy and attended St. Iosaph’s as a child. She and her brother have maintained the now abandoned church for many decades. Each year Fr. Martin, and parishioners of St. Basil’s in St. Louis, make a pilgrimage to the church to serve a Thanksgiving Service. A Memorial Service is also conducted at the old Russian cemetery, which is not far from the church. The Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God was celebrated on October 14, 2003. Fr. Martin, along with eight parishioners of St. Basil’s parish, made a pilgrimage to the now abandoned Russian Church of St. Iosaph in Muddy, Illinois.

The town of Muddy has alot of houses similiar to this one.  I assume they are all old coal mining houses.

The other place that I was interested in finding was the Old Chrenshaw House.  When we were kids, Dad took us here once.  As a kid, I didn't know the real history behind it other than it was an old slave house.  I don't remember if I read an article about it, or was just thinking about visiting it as a child, but I decided to Google it one day.  Little did I know that it was just a hop, skip, & a jump from Shawn's parent's house.

It has since closed to tours and I knew that I couldn't get really close to it to take pictures.  I've only seen people taken them from the road and I remember it sitting on a hill.  I had gotten the GPS coordinates from online so I plugged them in my GPS and off I went.  The GPS took me to the middle of nowhere in the outskirts of the Shawnee Forest.  So I drove around a little bit thinking I could find it, or find the road I was supposed to turn on.  I ended up turning around on a couple different roads.  I decided to pull over and google it again.  This time I found a different set of directions and followed them right to it.  I was a few miles away from my original set of GPS coordinates.  

I turned on the road that the house was on, but immediately at the entrance to the road is a No Trespassing sign, so I figured I better not take any chances going up the lane any further.  So the only pictures I could snap were from the road.  

The following information about the old Crenshaw House was taken from Wikipedia...

The Crenshaw House (also known as the Crenshaw MansionHickory Hill or, most commonly, The Old Slave House) is a historic former residence and alleged haunted house located in Gallatin CountyIllinois. The house was constructed in the 1830s. It was the main residence of John Crenshaw, his wife, and their five children.
In 2004, the National Park Service named the mansion as a "station" on the Reverse Underground Railroad to acknowledge Crenshaw's practice of kidnapping free blacks in Illinois and selling them in the Slave States.
Landowner and slave trader John Hart Crenshaw leased the state-owned salt works located at the Illinois Salines, two saline springs along the Saline River near Equalitythat were important sources of salt since prehistory. Salt was vital to the early American frontier economy, both as a nutrient and as a means to preserve food. Illinois was a free state, and the Illinois State Constitution bans slavery. However, the law permitted the use of slaves at the salt works since the labor was so arduous that no free men could be found to do it. As the lessee of the salt works, Crenshaw was therefore the only Illinois resident legally entitled to keep slaves, and Crenshaw became remarkably wealthy. At one point, Crenshaw's taxes amounted to one-seventh of the revenue of the entire state. Crenshaw owned thousands of acres of land, in addition to the 30,000 acres (120 km²) he leased from the state, and more than 700 slaves. In 1838, Crenshaw and his brother Abraham used this wealth to build the mansion on Hickory Hill, a few miles from the salt works near the town of Junction.
In September 1840, Abraham Lincoln, a state representative, was in Gallatin County for over a week attending debates in Shawneetown and Equality. The Crenshaws hosted a ball in honor of the debates. The ball was held on the second floor. The second floor of the house was designed to be easily converted into a ballroom because the hall and two of the rooms were made from moveable partitions particularly for such events. Mr. Lincoln along with other male guests spent the night in the Southeast bedroom of the Crenshaw House. The furniture in the room consisted of one bed and two chairs. Mr. Lincoln either slept on the bed, which was shorter than he was, or he could have spread out over the two chairs, or possibly slept on the floor.
In 1850, Crenshaw and his family moved to the nearby town of Equality, and hired a German family to live in the house and operate the farm. Crenshaw sold the house in 1864. Crenshaw died in 1871 and was buried in the Hickory Hill Cemetery. By 1913, the house was owned by the Sisk family.
The Crenshaw House was a "station" on the Reverse Underground Railroad that transported escaped slaves and kidnapped free blacks back to servitude in slave states. The home’s third floor attic contains 12 rooms long believed to be where Crenshaw operated a secret slave jail for kidnapped free black and captured runaway slaves. A grand jury indicted Crenshaw for kidnapping, once in the mid-1820s (the outcome unknown) and again in 1842 when a trial jury acquitted him. The case’s victims, Maria Adams and her seven or eight children, ended up as slaves in Texas. In 1828, Crenshaw took Frank Granger and 15 others downriver to Tipton Co., Tennessee, and sold them as slaves. Crenshaw also kidnapped Lucinda and her children in 1828. She ended up in Barren Co., Kentucky. Contemporary letters identifying Crenshaw’s role back both cases. Crenshaw also kidnapped Peter White and three others in the 1840s. They were sold into slavery in Arkansas, but later rescued. Stories of strange noises upstairs coming from victims, date to 1851. Despite accounts that the rooms were slave quarters, Crenshaw family stories indicate a distinction between the plantation’s household servants and field hands, and the victim’s of Crenshaw’s criminal activities.
In 2004, the National Park Service named the Crenshaw Mansion, referred to as "The Old Slave House", as part of the Underground Railroad National Network to Freedom program to acknowledge its importance in the reverse underground railroad and the role John Crenshaw played in condemning free blacks to slavery.
The terrible fates of both the kidnapped free blacks and the slaves forced to labor in the salt works are the foundation for persistent tales that the mansion is haunted.
In 1996 the Sisk family closed the museum. In December 2000 the Sisk family sold the house to the state of Illinois. It is currently closed to the public as the state determines its ultimate fate.

Below are some pictures from around Eldorado and Wasson, Illinois that I took while tooling around that afternoon.

Later that afternoon, Shawn and I headed to Marion to go shopping. On the way there, we drove through the Crab Orchard Wildlife area with the hopes of seeing some wildlife, or something fun for me to photograph.  We drove through there once before, so I had wanted to go through there again.

We were headed on our way out when we spotted this herd of deer.