Sunday, June 09, 2024

Panther Creek State Park, Sunday, 5-26-2024: Family & Friends (published 6-9-2024; article #478)


To enhance the joy of two recent graduations mentioned in the first and second articles from yesterday, what better plan could family and friends have but to gather for a picnic, conversation, and fun at Panther Creek State Park? The park is located just west of Morristown, Tennessee, in Hamblen County.

This 126th entry under the family topic section highlights the gathering of family and friends on Sunday afternoon, 5/26/2024. It includes a now-funny story about how Travis, from Tractor Supply in Jefferson City, rescued my ol' truck from the implanted alien device!

Family & Friends

The 2 PM gathering had been arranged. The weather started off as mostly sunny, warm, and humid. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I traveled, in our 2006 Frontier, to the Panther Creek State Park visitor center. Our friends, Steve, Jay, and Dorothy, had already arrived.

Steve's mother and my mother were friends. Since my earliest childhood memories, I have never known a time when Steve wasn't my friend. In the fall of 1978, Steve and I became instant friends with Jay, at Walters State Community College. At the time, Jay and Dorothy were dating. They were married in June 1983. I was honored to be the best man. Dorothy became a good friend. Of course, once my wife and I were married in May 1986, the “long-suffering” Mrs. Appalachian Irishman became a member of “the gang of friends.”

My youngest brother, his wife, and their two recent graduate daughters arrived a few minutes later. We could have kept up the jovial conversation in the parking lot. Bellies hungered for food, so we drove to the picnic area on the ridge near Cherokee Lake.

I don't think that I have ever had homemade sloppy joes. The potluck picnic fare was needed and delicious! I hope that my wife gets Dorothy's sloppy joe recipe!

During my teenage years, I used to enjoy family gatherings, where parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and older cousins swapped stories and told tales. Yes, at times, I could be bored, only to have my interest peaked by the telling of a good one. I don't think that our teenage nieces were often bored, while listening to the tales and adventures of us older folks. Steve, in particular, has the gift of telling such a funny story that you have to beg him to stop. Otherwise, you'll laugh so hard that you can't catch your breath!

Ominous clouds rolled in as we were winding down. My sister-in-law took the following photograph at 4:36 PM. Cherokee Lake is northwest and behind our location on the ridge.

A good time was had by all! I hope that we can do this a bit more often. “The gang of friends” have spoken by phone with each other, but we haven't been together in person, since the 8/7/2021 article: Rogersville is the Second-Oldest Town in Tennessee, not Dandridge! Gang, let's not let almost three years pass until we get together again!

Travis, from Tractor Supply, Stopped My Truck's Alien Device!

Light rain began to fall, just as we were all leaving the park. It continued to fall lightly. Darkening clouds to our west indicated a hard rain was coming. Molly, our ol' puppy, needed food and snacks, which I usually buy at the Knoxville Halls location of Tractor Supply.

The Tractor Supply in Jefferson City was on the way home. With light rain still falling, my wife stayed in our truck, while I went in to buy Molly's items. The location is very safe, but with caution, I asked her to lock the doors. That was my mistake! I left the keys with her.

I checked out at 5:10 PM, just after the downpour had started. After a few minutes, the rain slowed to a steady drizzle. My wife, seeing me leaving the store with the purchase, unlocked the doors.

That simple action set off the alien device inside my truck! The parking lights started flashing, and the horn was almost deafening! Our 2006 Frontier had one previous owner, who had installed a security alarm system. I don't use it. It's never really caused any problems, until that ear-splitting and embarrassing event.

The only way to silence that alien device is to disconnect the negative post from the battery. I carry tools in my truck. No tool that I had would loosen the nut that clamps the negative post to the battery! It was on so tight that my all-in-one tool could not loosen it. Along with everyone else at least a mile away, I kept getting ears full of fast and furious horn honks!

That's when Travis, an on-duty manager at Tractor Supply, came to my rescue! I asked, with egg on my face, if he had a socket wrench that could fit the nut on the negative post. He did! In seconds, the alien device was silenced! Thanks, Travis, for saving the day, my embarrassment, and my hearing! I shared my contact information with Travis and asked for his district manager to call me. I wanted to share the good news with that manager.

On Friday, 5/31/2024, Nicole, a district manager, called. She enjoyed the recap about how Travis came to the rescue. Once published, my email to Nicole will include the link to this article. Tractor Supply is welcome to share this article, to honor Travis and to recommend shopping at Tractor Supply. The nearby Tractor Supply sees me about once a month, as a repeat customer. Yes, Molly likes their food and treats. She is a good ol' puppy!


This has been a true story about the real-life adventures of this Appalachian Irishman and his “long-suffering” wife! I hope that you have enjoyed it.

“The gang of friends” needs to get together more often. We ain't that old yet!

I think that I will print and share a copy of this article with a manager at the Tractor Supply in Halls, in Knoxville, when I'm there again, buying food and snacks for Molly.

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