Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Back On Track

Well it's been a while since our last blog, but we have been very busy working at Amazon in Campbellsville, KY for their peak season just before Christmas.  It seems like a blur now, but we worked there for three hard months and it took all of our time.

So now since that is over we would first like to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  May the holidays be special and all your gifts be good.  Also remember Christ is the most important thing about Christmas.

Jesus Christ in the manger.
Working at Amazon is not for everyone since you are on your feet for ten to twelve hours a day, fifty to sixty hours a week.  You do get used to it so that by the end of your tour, you can actually sit down and get back up without your muscles locking up on you, unlike when you first started to work there.

We will probably never work at Amazon again since it just does not suit us, but I guess you should never say never.  The worst thing for us was the time away from home.  It was not so bad when it was four ten hour days and you had three days off, but when it switched to five ten hours day, with only two days off, it did not leave you much time to relax.

Amazon CamperForce Logo.

If you would be interested in working at Amazon then you can check out what jobs are available at their CamperForce page.  The CamperForce program is where they recruit RVers to help them during the holiday rush.  Check it out and see if you want to become an Amazon CamperForce Associate.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

While in the Campbellsville, KY area we had a chance to visit the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill which was a glimpse into the past. 

We call them Shakers, but their real name is The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, which is a mouth full.  The rest of the world started calling them "Shaking Quakers" or "Shakers" for short. 

Their founder was Mother Ann Lee who lived in Manchester England and brought eight followers over to America in 1774 in search of religious freedom. 

While there we ate lunch at The Trustee's Table restaurant and was not unimpressed.  Walk-ins are accepted, but we had to make our reservation a week out, so unless you want to wait, make reservations.  The food is simple, but delicious.

Pork Loin with gravy, green beans, corn pudding, and cranberry sauce.
After eating lunch we took a guided tour of the village which was not quite as long or informative as I would have liked, but it was cold and I think our tour guide wanted inside more than outside.

Most buildings had two doors in front so that the Shaker men could enter in on the east side while the Shaker women used the doors on the west side of the building.  That is also how they lived in all of the houses.  Women lived together on the west side while men lived together on the east side of the house.

Centre Family Dwelling
The inside of the house is exactly the same with one side for the men and the other side for the women.  Since they practiced celibacy each sex lived on their side.

East and West entry doors to Centre Family Dwelling.
Mirror image inside of the house.  One side for men the other side for woman.
Stairs for both men and woman in the house.
We are not sure whether or not they could mingle together in the common or meeting room in the house, but there was one such room in each house.

Meeting room in Centre Family Dwelling.
One neat thing I saw while in the house which has exhibits in every room and on every wall is the four steps required to weave a basket.  This may be something we will try with the kids one day for homeschool.

The four steps required to weave a basket.
When they first established the village they built a little community house that only  had one door.  Not sure when the duplex house complex came about but this first one seemed to be a regular type house other than it was communal too.  We did not get to go inside of it though.

First communal house at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

The Trustee's Office is where the restaurant and hotel are but used to be where the trustees of the village worked.  It also provided lodging for visitors to the village.  To show some of the Shaker handiwork it contains twin spiral staircases built by Micajah Burnett who was one of the main architects for the community.

Ready for Christmas.

Courtney looking down the spiral stairs from the second floor.

Looking down from the second story.

Looking down from the third story.

Looking down form the very top of the spiral stairs.
During its peak around 1823 the village boasted 491 residents with 4500 acres, and 260 structures to include a municipal water system which was one of the earliest ones in Kentucky at that time.

Looking west on the main turnpike through the village.

Looking east on the main turnpike through the village.

Looking out the east side of the Centre Family Dwelling.

Looking east toward the west side of the Centre Family Dwelling.
One of the main buildings in the village was the Meeting House which was in the center of the community and housed all of the worship services where the Shakers would shake, whirl and twirl from which their nickname came from.
Meeting House where worship services were held.
Inside the Meeting House looking through the Ministry team window.
During worship services, non Shakers would sit on the benches that run along the walls.  The ministry team would look through a little window located in the front corners of the big room and see if any of the non Shakers showed any type of interest in the service.  If they tapped their feet or moved with the singing, then they would be approached as a possible recruit into the Shaker way of life.

Window used by Ministry team to observe non Shakers during worship service.

Big open room so the Shakers could shake and whirl during worship services.
I guess that the Shaker way of life is not lived that much by anyone, anymore since the only remaining working Shaker village still in existence is in Maine at Sabbathday Lake and only has three residents. 

I'm not sure why they did not make it, but maybe the vow of celibacy was the cause.  They were and are a good group of Christian believing people who had a great work ethic.  They practiced loving one another and doing good works.

We had fun on our historic tour of the village and it was nice to get out and see some sights after working so long at Amazon.

Misty, Tia, Avery, Ian, Courtney, Ethan, and Chloe at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

Tia, Don, Avery, Courtney, Ian, Ethan, and Chloe at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too!  We are blessed and thank God for all of our blessings.  May you be blessed and may God help you with anything that you can not handle.  He will give you the strength you need, if you just ask.

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Don, Misty, and Kids...

States we have visited so far.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Ever since I was a little boy I have wanted to visit the cliff dwellings that the Native Americans lived in years ago.  I guess the most popular ones are located in Mesa Verde Colorado that the Pueblo Indians lived in.

We have not make it there, yet, but was close enough to the Gila Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico to visit the caves there.  We had to drive a good three hours one way to get to them, but it was well worth it.  

We were pronouncing it with the 'G' in the name but it is actually pronounced with an 'H' sound, just so you know.  I was informed of that by a deputy sheriff who was kind enough to give me a warning for going sixty eight in a sixty mile in hour zone.  I'm lucky he did not give me a ticket!
Gila Cliff Swellings National Monument.
Before we get into our visit there though, we need to have a few words from our sponsor, Courtney's Films.

If the above video will not play then you can click here to view it on YouTube.

Now back to the blog.

If you are driving to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument from the south via Silver City, NM then you have two ways to get there, either Highway 15 or Highway 35.  Traveling Highway 15 the park is only forty four miles from Silver City, but expect it to take a good two hours due to the steepness and curves in the road.  If your vehicle or RV is over twenty feet long, you will want to take Highway 35, which is twenty five miles longer, but does not have such severe curves.  We drove up Highway 15 and drove back on Highway 35 so we could see everything on both routes.

We wanted to get to the caves by 11:00 AM to participate in the guided tour of the dwellings which required us to leave by 6:00 AM so that we had plenty of time to get there which meant that we had to get up around 4:00 AM, but it was well worth it to make the tour. 

Our guide was Brian Phelps who did an excellent job of telling us about the cliff dwellings.  It was his last day on the job and he was very happy to have our six kids, who asked tons of questions, for his last tour.
Brian Phelps giving us a guided tour of the cave dwellings.
Climbing up the mountain to the caves was fun too.  There were lizards and frogs the entire trip and luckily we did not see any snakes at all.  If we would have, Misty would have probably turned around and run away with half the kids behind her.
Misty, Courtney, and Chloe climbing the trail up to the cave dwellings.
One of the lizards sunning on a rock while we climbed up to the cliff dwellings.
A frog or toad that blends in to the arm rail of the bridge.
While going up the trail you get to see one of the openings to the dwellings, which starts to get you excited or at least it did us.
The cave dwellings are coming into view.

They do not know exactly who they were or why the people who built the dwellings left, but think that they were ancient Puebloans of the Mogollon area who later migrated with the Pueblo Indians in Colorado. 
Brian coming to start the tour.
Below you can see depressions in the rock where they ground their corn with a post to make cornmill.
Holes formed in the rock from grinding their corn for cornmill.
There were also fire pits in the caves and rocks found that were used to grind all types of food to eat.
Fire pits and tools used to prepare food.
In some of the caves you can still see paintings where the native people were trying to keep a record or tell a story.
They are not sure what these marks meant.
Here you can see a hand on the wall.
They think this is a drawing of a snake.
Here you can clearly see an image of a person.
Below are a bunch of shots from the caves for you to look at.  You will notice in some of them the black soot on the roofs of the caves where fires have stained them over the many years.
Cave One which is not too deep into the cliff.
Cave Two where the first walls were built.
Another shot of Cave Two.  Notice the T door that is very popular with the Pueblo Indians cliff dwellings.
More of Cave Two.
Lower entrance door was probably not blocked like it is today.
Heading to Cave Three which connects with Cave Four and Cave Five.
All of the roofs are gone, but you can see the posts used to support them.
The walls usually did not go to the cave ceilings so as to provide ventilation.
Living in the cave dwellings was a safe place for the inhabitants.
What you see when looking out of the caves.
You can still make out the layout of this room.
Looking from Cave Four through Cave Five.
One of the big rooms in the cave which was probably used for group gatherings.
Ethan, Ian, Chloe, Tia, Avery, Courtney, and Misty listening to Brian tell us about the dwellings.
They think this room was very important and was used to practice their religion.
Just some more info about when the dwellings were built.
They think there was a colorful mural painted on this wall.
This is what they think was painted on the walls.
Another view from inside the cave to the outside.
They think the doors are so small to serve as a safety feature in case of invasion.  This way they were easier to defend.
Some more rooms built into the caves.
One of the paths connecting the cave dwellings.
Since the caves face the southwest and their openings are shaped and angled perfectly to block the summer sunlight, but let the winter sunlight in, they were cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  It is like God made them just perfect to live in.  Coincidence?  I do not think so.
All the openings face southwest which helps with heating and cooling.
Looking the opposite way in the dwellings.
The kids looking into one of the rooms.
This room was probably used for storage, but may have been used to sleep in too.
Brian, our tour guide, waiting for us to catch up.
Another square room in the dwelling.
This may be what you would have seen 700 years ago stored in this room.
Making sure Chloe gets out safely using the only way down out of this part of the caves.
Not sure what this room was for, but probably for storage.
We are so happy that we took the time to visit the cave dwellings even though it was quite a drive to get to them.  We also had the kids participate in the Junior Ranger Program and earn their badges to make sure they learned something about the dwellings.
All the kids earning their Junior Ranger badges.
So if you are ever near Silver City or Pinos Altos New Mexico, you should drive north to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and check it out.

God bless!

Don, Misty, and Kids...

States we have visited so far.