Part 28: Greenback, TN to Nixa, MO


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The Trip

We stayed with Bob and Kitty at their farm outside of Greenback, TN for several days.  While we were there, we went to a nearby cave called Lost Sea.  From Greenback, we traveled to see Global Expedition Vehicles in Nixa, MO.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

An interesting bit of local history could be seen in the cave.  Back "in the day" they distilled moonshine in the cave to prevent being seen by the "revenuers", now called the ATF.

Lost Sea is actually a large underground lake in a not-so-interesting limestone cave.  The lake is about 800 feet long, 200 feet wide and almost a hundred feet deep.

After our visit to the Lost Sea, Bob took us to an overlook on the Foothills Parkway.  Despite the haze due to the heat, we had a great view.

We also visited Cades Cove, a nice grassy area that has been taken by the NPS.  This area was farmed until the government exercised its right of eminent domain to take their farms.  There really was not a lot to see, but there was heavy traffic because it was a weekend.

There were a number of cabins in "the cove" and the photo above shows an example of the self-locking design of the log cabin.

Another example of the locking logs.

The Cove had a water powered grist mill.  These were some of the hand-crafted grinding stones.

The water wheel provided the power for the mill.  I did not bring my flash and the inside of the mill was way too dark to photograph, so this is the extent of the mill photos.  But, the mechanisms inside, including the wooden gears were quite trick and innovative.  The mechanism even included an automated grain dribbler that fed the grain into the mill at a slow rate without requiring the miller to do it by hand.

From the main tourist area of the Cove, Bob took us through a back road that went deep in the woods.  Above, we did a brief stop to check out the trees and creek (to the left of the truck).  The trees were dense and visibility was very limited.

From the Cove, we traveled on "The Dragon" a twisty-turny road that is a favorite with the motorcyclists.  From a turnout we had a view of Chillhowee Lake, part of the TVA network of lakes in the area.

The Chillhowee Dam was not open to visitors and this was as close as we got.

Back at Bob's place, I got to see his 406s that he uses for his farm.  The rig above has both a loader bucket as well as a backhoe.

This 406 is configured with a post hole digger.  At the right of the photo, you can see our camper.

From Greenback, we headed to the St. Louis area to see a college buddy of Kathleen's.  Along the way, we passed some impressive bridges over the many rivers.

Most of the big rivers in the area have some kind of barge traffic.  The barge above is carrying coal.

As we crossed the Mississippi River, we got a view of the St. Louis arch.  Rather impressive, but we did not stop.  It was effing hot, so we just kept rolling.

We traveled to Springfield, MO and spent the night in a motel due to the heat.  If only we had an a/c unit in the camper!  Next morning, we visited Mike Van Pelt at Global Expedition Vehicles to see his fleet of expedition campers.  He had several rigs there, all very, very deluxe.  The unit above is a new U500 with a 4kw diesel generator and air conditioning.  This unit has many, many features.  In fact, too many to list here, but if you are interested, see

The U500 is a tall vehicle to start with, but is even taller with the fully expedition camper box on it.  Kathleen is about 5'9" so you can judge from there.

Mike shows Kathleen the "facilities" that include sink, toilet and shower.  The inside of the head is teak and has lots of storage.

The galley has a synthetic counter top and stainless steel back splash.  The whole area was very well thought out.  The latches on the doors are positive action and prevent any "tossed salads" when in motion.  The sleeping quarters are visible in the background.

From the U500, we moved into the shop to see his M2 4x4 Freightliner rig.  This is a big, beautiful truck with deluxe interior and every amenity you can imagine.  Above, the front bumper is off since it is in the shop being powder coated.

This rig is the "real deal" and has a beefy front axle with full air brakes.

My flash was misbehaving due to low batteries, so I could not back up enough to get the full truck in a single photo.  If my memory serves me correctly, the truck has a 300 gallon diesel capacity.  The white box under the stairs is the Fisher Panda diesel generator.

Mike was in the process of building out a Mercedes 1017A 4x4 truck for a customer in New Zealand.  The living quarters on this rig are nearly identical to the Freightliner.  The 1017A is a heavy duty off road cargo hauler and is in service all over the world except the U.S.

GXV uses special foam core panels to construct their quarters.  These are both strong and light and have the added benefit of providing good insulation properties.

GXV is also building out a custom camper for a customer on this Oshkosh 8x8.

The Oshkosh has 16.00R20 tires and a Detroit Diesel 2 stroke 8V12 motor.

There is a big hydraulic winch under the bed between the rear axles.

Managing the spare tire on this truck is a real headache.  These are big, heavy and awkward.

Many thanks to Bob and Kitty for hosting us at their farm.  We greatly appreciate the hospitality.   The visit to GXV was much more than I expected.  These trucks are indescribably nice and both Kathleen and I appreciate the time that they spent with us.

From the Springfield, MO we headed south to Branson, MO.  Branson was a big disappointment to us.  It was like Las Vegas, but cheesier and more hillbilly.  A totally low-budget place with nothing for us.  From Branson, we headed south into Arkansas to visit Scott, a four wheeling buddy.


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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2010, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.