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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Asheville, NC

It rained off and on all Friday night and into the wee hours of Saturday morning, but by the time we crawled out from under the covers the sun was peeking through the cloud cover, and the forecast was for partly cloudy skies, and a very low chance of rain.

Jeanette & Dennis courtesy Bonish Photography - taken in Cedar Key at the Tiki Bar in 2012.

Our main plans for Saturday were to meet up with NuRVers Dennis and Jeanette (who also write a blog entitled Cheddar Yeti) in downtown Asheville.  They are currently staying in Tennessee, about 80 miles west of Asheville in their 1978 Bluebird Wanderlodge.  Ever since we met them in Cedar Key in March of 2012 we have been trying to hookup with them again, and this is the closest proximity we have been to each other.  They had wanted to visit Asheville, but didn't want to drive their coach over the mountains, so they drove their car into Asheville.  You see the lengths we NuRvers will go to in order to meet up on the road!  Dennis and Jeanette are 30 somethings who started living on the road full time back in 2009.  They both work on the road with Jeanette doing graphic design, and Dennis website development and maintenance.  When we first met them last year they had a Lazy Daze Class C motorhome, but this past Fall they sold it and bought a 1978 Bluebird Wanderlodge bus.

A morning 2 mile walk along the French Broad River

Once more I get ahead of myself......around 10 we decided to take advantage of the walking/biking path along the river and walked 1 mile southwest along the river and back for a total of 2 miles.  At the turn around point of our walk we got a message from Dennis saying they were on the road and would meet us around Noon time at the Tupelo Honey Cafe on College in Asheville.  We got back just before 11 and started to get ready to drive into town.  We're only 3 miles from downtown so it was about a 10 minute drive for us.


As you might imagine parking in the downtown area can be problematic on a Saturday afternoon, and it was, but we managed to find a metered parking spot on the street....$1.00 per hour.  We put in 8 quarters and headed over to the cafe.  We had barely put in our reservations (1 hour wait....this is a very popular eatery....4.5 stars on Yelp) when Dennis and Jeanette walked up.....we stood talking outside the cafe for what seemed like just a few minutes, but in reality was an hour.....the time just flew by.  We sat down at our table around 1 pm, and before we knew it another 2 hours had flown by.......


Asheville has a LOT of micro breweries, and taprooms, and one of the best was right across the street from the cafe, so we headed there next to sample some local brews.  We had barely sat down at the bar when Dennis noticed the "Roaming Pint" decal on the wall....it's the glass of beer with the "location" button on it...right in the center of the picture.  This means our friends Brian and Maria have preceded us!



Our non-stop conversation continued over a couple of 8 oz draft beers.....as we were exiting the Thirsty Monk I looked at my watch and realized it was 4 pm....I should have been putting more quarters in the meter 2 hours ago!  We walked briskly over to our spot to find we HAD NOT been ticketed, or towed....whew.....we put 8 more quarters in taking us to 6 pm when parking then became free for the rest of the evening.  

Basilica of St. Lawrence

From there we walked over to the Basilica of St. Lawrence, and the around town poking our heads in antique shops, and thrift shops.....we walked into a place called Lexington Park Antiques....Dennis and I were deep in conversation, when I began to become aware of the enormous size of this store...several thousand square feet.  We spent close to an hour wandering the isles of this store, and TLE found a couple of prizes.....1) a cool, almost new, Country Gentleman hat for $15, that was worth over $45, and 2) a book......first book in a long time.  The rest of us were not drawn to anything we could not live without, but it is a very cool antique shop.....I found a lot of vintage tools....some well over 100 years old. Another cool antique shop was Featherheads Emporium run by Kimberly Sherrill, a very personable young lady.  While the others looked around I talked with her about a book she was reading...."Every Day" by David Leviathan.....one of our NuRver friends, Pace Smith, had mentioned on Facebook she was reading the book.


By the time we exited the store it was after 6....in fact they had locked the store doors just after we came...closing time!  We were all hungry again, so we walked about .3 miles over to Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria to eat supper, and sample a few more local brews.  Again, another 2 hours just flew by with uninterrupted conversation.


We spent around 8 hours with Dennis and Jeanette sharing experiences, talking about some of the problems they have had with their Wanderlodge, and just talking about life in general, and specifically about living full time on the road.  We parted company at the intersection of College and Hayward, where we met 8 hours earlier, to walk to our respective cars....they had an 80 mile drive home at 8 something pm.....again, we are grateful they took the time to drive over an hour to spend the day with us in lovely Asheville, NC!

Dennis and Jeanette are westward bound to California where Jeanette's family lives.  We are hoping  to see them again in Southern California later this year.

Asheville is a must place to visit if you are in the area.....we barely scratched the surface of things to do and see there.  We will try to do more in the next couple of days, but you really need a week, at least, to see most of the good stuff.

We got home in time to catch the second half of the Witchita v. Ohio State NCAA game....Witchita won to move on to the Final Four, along with Syracuse who beat Marquette earlier in the evening.  More NCAA action Sunday afternoon.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sea level in our rear view mirror.....

We have hardly been above sea level for months, and in one day we not only passed the 1,000 foot elevation mark, but we passed the 2,000 foot mark!  Ahhhh, but that is the the cart before the horse.

Friday morning broke with a mostly cloudless sky, but cold....still....maybe 39 at 8 am.  I wanted to get out of camp by 10, but it's only a guideline, not a rule.  I noticed this park sold propane, so I walked over first thing to ask Ron what his propane price was....$3.50/gallon....hmmm....a little high....okay....it's so convenient, I'll pay a little more....some of the places we have squeezed into in order to fill our propane tank have been TIGHT!  We were a little under 1/2, so it wasn't urgent, but if we fill up now we won't have to for a long time....it's getting warmer and we won't need to use the propane heaters too much more....maybe we can make it through the summer before we have to fill it again.  We only took on 26 gallons, so had 22 gallons left.  We managed to get on the Interstate by 10:30 and continued north by northwest.

I had noticed on Gas Buddy that a Murphy Gas Station in nearby Laurens, SC was selling diesel for $3.63.....well, I didn't need to fill up, but when you see one of the best prices you've seen since El Paso, TX in February of 2012 you jump on it!  The station was about 16 miles up the road, so we headed there, took on 87 gallons and then jumped on I-26 for Asheville, NC.  We probably could have gone all the way to Indianapolis before filling up again, but now we're good for a long time...it's been just about a month since we put fuel in.  Of course, 30 miles up I-26 after filling up I see a Shell station advertising $3.55/gallon....doh!  Well, can't complain too much I guess....diesel is selling for over $4.30/gallon in SoCal.

Lovely I-26 drive into the Blue Ridge mountains

We gradually gained altitude up to around 800', but then we hit the North Carolina border and we went to 2,300' in less than 15 miles.....the coach did great, although at one point we hit a 7% grade for about 3 miles and dropped down to 30 mph in 2nd gear.  The engine temp stayed right around 190, which considering the grade, is below what I normally expect....usually close to 200 degrees.

We found our rest stop for the day about 2 miles inside the NC border, and TLE made me a late breakfast (around 1:00 at this time).......I love breakfast for lunch!  In this case it consisted of 2 fried eggs on fried mashed potatoes.....yummy!  

We only had 37 miles to go as we pulled out of the rest stop back on to I-26 around 1:45... we arrived at Wilson's Riverfront RV Park at 2:30.  This is a small, cool RV park right on the French Broad River.  The French Broad Greenway bike path runs right through the park.  This is the first time we have been this close to a bike path in a long, long time.  


Site #15 - Wilson Riverfront RV Park

 The turn into the park is right at the end of the offramp for Amboy Road, and the right hand hairpin turn is impossible to make, even without the trailer, so we drove about a mile further to the first gas station we came to and usedtheir lot to turn around in and head back.  We were able to cram our 62' into a 56' spot.....how, you might ask?  A picture is worth a 1,000 words.


The back wheels are off the grass....:)

Watched some more NCAA basketball....Louisville, U of Michigan,  Duke & Florida advanced to the Elite 8 round.  Kansas U. lost a heart breaker in overtime after being in control of the game for 38 minutes. Elite 8 starts Saturday evening with two games, then 2 more on Sunday....then we will have the final 4.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 29, 2013

North by Northwest...

Wednesday night was another cold one, but it only got down to the mid 30's, so that's a good sign.  All that being said, it is certainly not "flip flops" weather by any stretch of the imagination.  Wherever we go a jacket is not far from our grasp, and shoes with socks are the first choice.....I still wear shorts, but not t-shirts anymore.

I had TLE leave the T-Bird outside Wednesday night hoping there would be a heavy enough dew to get the car wet so I could wipe it down, but, alas, the climate we have entered is much, much dryer now.  I've had to start using lotion again for the first time in months.  At any rate, we had to put the car back in the trailer Thursday morning still dirty.

We got rolling around 10:30, merging on to I-26 northbound around 10:40.  Our goal for the day was a Passport America park in Kinards, SC....about 99 miles.....I know, another long day.

As we moved north we began gaining elevation slowly.....for the first time in months, again, we find ourselves over 600' elevation.....we had been hovering under 200 feet for weeks.  When we hit Asheville, NC we will be at just over 2,400'.....somehow that doesn't seem like a warm altitude.

Normally we like to find a rest stop every 60-70 miles, but this day there wasn't one until 5 miles before our destination.....I had planned on having a late breakfast, but ultimately it turned into lunch......sure, we did stop at the rest stop just 5 miles from our destination.  It was a very nice one, plus I had to go to the bathroom, and knew once we got to the park I would be busy hooking up, so we took a 30 minute break before continuing on to Magnolia RV Park.  This is a very nice park that is probably much fuller during the actual "spring" and summer months, but now is quite empty......just like we like them!


Magnolia RV Park

I got setup.....only hooked up electric and water.....since we had just dumped our tanks in Aiken before we left Thursday morning, and will only be here in Kinards one night, there is no point in going any further than that.....just means more to put away Friday.  After that TLE and I took a mile walk through the park.....took a couple of laps to hit one mile.  We are really looking forward to Asheville because the park we are staying in is right on a long bike path....we can actually ride our bikes into town!  Plus it will be more conducive to taking long walks.

After a nap, and some insurance work  I got out the Sea-B-Que around 6 to get ready to BBQ a couple of chicken breasts.  TLE made salad, mashed potatoes, and mashed sweet potatoes to go with the meal....the chicken came out perfectly....again!  As we ate we watched a nice sunset.

Thursday night was the first of two nights for NCAA March Madness Sweet Sixteen games....there were four Thursday night, and 4 more on tap for Friday night.  Witchita, Syracuse, Marquette and Ohio State all advanced.....the Ohio State v. Arizona came down to the last shot.  Friday we off up to Asheville for 4 days.....we'll hook up with Dennis and Jeanette (Cheddar Yeti) on Saturday!

Another nice day in the books....thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Aiken, Breakin Heart

Sometimes we pick a place to stop just because there happens to be a Passport America park there.  Being members of this fine organization entitles us to a 50% discount on the normal daily rate at RV parks who subscribe.  When it is extremely cold, or hot we usually look for a place to plug in the coach to have electric heat, or A/C.  At $15 per night it makes more sense to stay in this park, than in the Walmart parking lot running our generator for hours....especially when it is cloudy, and we can't recharge our batteries with sun.  For instance....our Kohler 7.5 kw propane generator consumes about 1/2 gallon of propane an hour.....at nearly $4/gallon that is $2/hour.....in just over 7 hours we have spent $15.  The little Honda 1000 watt gas generator we have works great for us when it is not too hot, or cold, but it won't run the A/C.  We could use the propane heaters, and we have done so on many occasions, but if it is down in the 30's and 40's we can go through a lot of propane quickly......just that 4 day stretch when we dry camped in St. Augustine we went through over 10 gallons of propane running the propane heaters, fridge, stove, and water heater.

Looking for a Passport America park to spend a couple of days at while we wait for it to start warming a little more north brought us to Aiken, South Carolina.  Other than the couple of hours we spent on Hilton Head Island the other day, I have never spent any time in South Carolina.  Aiken is like a little hidden gem you stumble upon one day quite by accident.

This is horse country according to Pine Acres Campground manager, Dave.  There are three thoroughbred racetracks nearby, and a lot of thoroughbred ranches......hmmm, or they called ranches, or farms?  Dave had suggested when we came in Tuesday that we check out the Aiken downtown Wednesday, so we did.  What a lovely place Laurens Street is....about 3 blocks of diagonal parking giving easy access to restaurants, boutiques, antique shops, and other local businesses.  Most eateries offer al fresco dining, but no one was taking advantage of that this day.....not even me.....just too chilly.



Our immediate goal when we drove into town was to have lunch at Aiken Brewing Company.  Yelp has ABC rated at a solid 4 stars......I would give it 4.5.  I had the Hot Pastrami, and TLE had......wait.....you guessed it.....the Rueben.  This is a brew pub, right? I ordered their Oatmeal Stout, and TLE ordered their Nitro Stout....both were delicious.  TLE rates the Rueben on a scale of 1-10 a solid 9.

ABC has a LOT of al fresco dining

A lot of the old town area is composed of these old red brick buildings many of which still boast some of the old signage from years long past.

Some of the old signage

Laurens Street is a divided street with a center island, which has a number of these horse sculptures, plus additional diagonal parking.


After lunch we walked up and down the 3-4 block old town area poking our heads in several antique shops.  Nothing caught our collective eye but we enjoyed poking through other people's stuff for a couple of hours.  

Aiken is a lovely town, and I'm glad we were able to spend a couple of days here.....we'll move on up Interstate 26 about 99 miles toward Asheville, NC Thursday, and then arrive in Asheville Friday.  I think the high temperature Wednesday was 60.....big improvement, but we are still moving slowly north.....looks like the highs the next 10 days in Asheville are in the mid 50's.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"My Delight is in Her"

Hephzibah (where we parked for 3 days) is truly an unusual name, and it has kind of been in the back of my mind that it might have a Biblical origin.  I don't think I have mentioned it previously, but I studied theology in college, so one might think I should have known immediately.  Well, finally, this morning, I did a Google search, and sure enough.....Hephzibah was kind of a pet name King Hezekiah called his wife.....Hezekiah was a king of ancient Israel.  The word is only used twice in the Bible, so forgive me for not immediately recognizing the name.  At any rate Hephzibah means "My delight is in her".....what a nice sentiment for one to have for one's wife.  Hmmmm....kind of like TLE?

Tuesday it was time to move on from Hephzibah, and Gray Stone Ranch.  I turned on the block heater around 5:30 am, and went back to sleep.  The outside temps at 5:30 were around 29 degrees.....WOW.....I thought we were done with those kind of lows.  Around 10 we began our maneuvers to extricate our 62' from our parking spot, and just as I surmised the day before, it was not that difficult.....way easier than getting out of my sister's property in Chelsea, Michigan!

We decided we would only move about 45 miles up toward Columbia, SC......just too cold further north still.  On the way we stopped off in Augusta, GA.....one of my bucket list things is to attend at least one round of the Masters Golf Tournament, and while that is not in the cards this year, I thought I would at least drive over there and get my picture taken in front of the entrance.....unless you are a member you cannot enter....so here is my picture, taken by the Lovely Elaine.  The whole surrounding area is one large mansion after another.



I may have shorts on, but it was NOT short pants weather Tuesday....the high was only forecast for 53, but I'm not sure where that temperature was attained.....it was about 48 when this picture was taken around 1 pm.  After driving around the golf course on local roads.....by the way you cannot really see anything from the road....we headed over to the local Fresh Foods and got a cup of coffee to chase away the chill, then headed back to the Walmart in North Augusta, SC, where we had parked.  On the way we stopped off at the 1102 Downtown Bar and Grill on Broad Street in old town Augusta to have lunch.....NO beer this day....just a few cups of hot coffee with some delicious fried chicken.  Broad Street seems like more of a "night life" kind of street, because most eating places did not open until 5 pm......we didn't pick "1102" because it had a high Yelp rating....it was open, and in spite of its 2.5 star rating by Yelp we liked the food and service, so go figure.

We arrived back at our "home" around 3 pm, and I took care of some insurance work, and it was good I had something to do because while we were gone someone had parked right behind the trailer so we couldn't put the car away....finally about 4 the cars moved, and we loaded the car and were on our way to our destination for the day...Aiken, SC.  I had found a Passport American park there called Pine Acres Campground where we could stay for a couple of days at $15/day.  We arrived in Aiken around 4:30, checked in with Dave, the manager, who was able to put us in a spot big enough for our entire 62' length......great!  We came in thinking we would have to drop the trailer, but as serendipity would have it, the only pull through spot left was the perfect length for us.  We'll stay here in Aiken until at least Thursday, then continue up to Asheville, NC weather permitting.

We had a nice evening watching NCIS and NCIS L.A.......we had cable so we didn't have to wait until 11 pm!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stationary

We had planned (think Jello here).....well, hoped to move on Monday from Hephzibah, GA, but when we looked at the weather forecast for Asheville, NC (our near future destination) we saw that snow was promised for Monday and Tuesday.  We discussed our options, and decided there was no point in moving since it was cold, and snowing north of us, and any other closer destination would need to involve hookups to ward off the freezing temperatures.....where we were is FREE, and we had 30 amps, plus water if we needed it....we chose to live off or fresh water supply.  So, all things considered.....we stayed put.

Since it was quite cold, and very windy Tuesday we didn't even venture outside the coach....well, TLE didn't.  I got out for about 15 minutes to figure out the logistics of our extrication plan for Tuesday.  As it turns out it appears it will be pretty easy to get out of our spot.

Russ, the owner of Gray Stone Ranch, owns a Golden Eagle bus conversion that he bought in the 90's when it only had 6,800 miles on it.....it now has 740,000 miles on the 8V92 Detroit Diesel engine.  He bought it from Shania Twain (Country Western star).....how cool is that?  He said, when we first arrived, that he had parked it down on the lake in our spot several times with a long trailer on it, and was able to get out, so we should have no problems.

We've enjoyed our down time here in Hephzibah after several weeks of go, go go.  Tomorrow we will move up toward Columbia, SC for a few days awaiting warmer weather in Asheville, NC promised for later this week.  We are hoping to hook up with Dennis and Jeanette (Cheddar Yeti) whom we met our first time in Cedar Key last March.  They are a young couple, probably in their mid 30's who own a cool  1978 Bluebird Wanderlodge.  We've been trying to hook up with them, but it has not just worked out.  Right now they are in Tennessee....not far from Asheville, NC, where we are headed.  Our plan is to get together when we hit Asheville.  There is a cool write up on them in RV West....check it out.

Dennis and Jeanette

Nothing else to report.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring has not sprung.....it is broken....

The rain continued all night long until around 7 am.....at times the rain on our aluminum roof was so loud it penetrated my coma like sleep and brought me back to consciousness.  It reminded me of Joliet, IL the night we were spending the night in the Cracker Barrel....yeah, that kind of rain.

At 8:30 when I decided to leave the warmth of my blanket cocoon it had completely stopped....it was stone cold quiet....not a breath of wind, not a drop of rain....and that is the way it would remain the rest of Sunday.  The forecast, which once again proved completely erroneous, was for rain all day.  The cloud cover never broke....the sun never made an appearance....a perfect day to spend the day ensconced in front of the TV watching March Madness.....it was the kind of day where you make a second pot of coffee, and don't feel guilty.

Our friends in Huntington, WV, who we aim to visit within a couple of weeks say it is snowing this morning there.....the Weather Channel shows snow everywhere north of us.  Our tentative destination for Monday was Asheville, NC, but I think we may stay put for one more day.  It is snowing in Asheville as I write.  While our Newell is completely equipped for freezing temperatures....even snow, there is no point in deliberately driving into those conditions.....that is why plans are written in Jello.

The day flew by, as one basketball game after another became FINAL.....Kansas U struggled in their game against North Carolina in the first half, but pulled away in the 2nd half to win comfortably.....we now have the "Sweet 16" teams determined, and the fun will begin all over again Thursday afternoon.

For dinner TLE made a delicious Quesadilla, and I broke out one of the 22 ouncers I bought at Largo Beverage the other day....a Southern Brewing Imperial Creme Brulee Stout.....a 9.6% abv brew.....okay, I did not know it was 9.6 when I drank it last night, but that explains a lot......an amazing beer.




We capped off the evening by watching "The Amazing Race" on CBS.  

A lazy day to be sure.....but when it's a cold and cloudy Sunday with the threat of rain hanging in the air, a lazy day indoors is sometimes in order.

Thanks for stopping by!

Note:  TLE has finished her 6 part series on her perspective of our journey, however, she will be contributing from this point on a regular basis.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Leaving Savannah.......

After 12 days in Savannah....and we loved every single day we spent here....it was time to roll the Newell wheels once again.  We have been making a gallant effort to slow our northward progress due to seriously cold weather to the north of us, but it still looks like another week of winter storms coming through not only the areas north of us, but even through Savannah.  

Since we had stowed the car in the trailer Friday night, there was not much to do Saturday to ready ourselves for departure.  We got to say goodbye to Krash and Karen one more time.....J.D., the owner of Red Gate, had allowed them to drop their Boston Whaler on his property free  of charge for the two days they were in Savannah as a favor to us.  They came just before 10 am to pick up their trailer and we exchanged "until next time" hugs one more time.  We are hoping to see them as we move over to Indianapolis for the Indy 500.

We only had 114 miles to cover Saturday, but we wanted to get an early start to do as much driving before the rains came.  Our exit from Red Gate was just before 10 am.....within a few minutes we were merging on to I-16 west bound.....we have not traveled in a westerly direction for a long, long time!  Around the 33 mile mark we left I-16 for SR 67 northbound toward Augusta, GA.  We have been members of Harvest Hosts for a few years now, but have never taken advantage of their services until Saturday.  Harvest Hosts signs up vineyards, farms, ranches, orchards, etc. who will offer their property for short term parking of RV's.  We found Graystone Ranch Wildlife Education Center in the Harvest Hosts directory, which is  just south of Augusta about 20 mile in a little town called Hephzibah, GA.  We called ahead before we left Savannah, as instructed on the Harvest Hosts website, and advised them we were coming in for a couple of days.  They said "no problem".  

About 70 miles into our drive the rain came.....it came hard!  Lightning, thunder and, at times, torrential rain, nevertheless, our windshield wipers were up to the job.  As we turned right on to McManus Road I began to get concerned about our destination.....McManus is a very narrow road, and it was obvious there would be no where to turn around for miles if we had a need.  The entrance to Graystone was about 3 miles down this narrow road, and then as we turned left into the ranch property we were now on a dirt/gravel road, which eventually turned to dirt/mud.  The rain is still coming down quite hard at this point.  As we eased slowly into property I began to get concerned about what we were getting into.....we approached a clearing with a few scattered, seemingly unoccupied buildings....I stopped.......I wasn't moving one more foot until I talked with someone in the office.  Fortunately a nice young lady answered, and said she had seen us enter the property, and that Russ was waiting for us a few hundred yards further at the ranch office to lead us to our parking spot.  She says ".....don't worry semi tractor trailer trucks come in here all the time....".....of course I'm thinking "....sure, but do they every leave?" I'm getting this "Hotel California" feeling....you know....."....you can check in any time you want, but you can never leave....".  The whole time I'm thinking I'm just going to sink into the mud, and we'll never be seen again. 




Well, we round the bend in the road and see the ranch office, finally, and there is Russ in his 4 X 4 waiving us on......I'm sure I could almost hear the strains of "Dueling Banjos" in the background....we are at this point about 1 mile off the pavement on a narrow muddy road.....I look out the window down at the front tires to see how far into the mud we are, and am pleasantly surprised to see we are not sinking into the mud at all, so I proceed to follow Russ in his 4 X 4.  I can now see other RV's parked down near the lake.....did I mention there is a lake.  He walks up to my window and asks if we want to have a view of the lake....at the same time I'm looking forward at the narrow muddy track that leads DOWN to the lake with a sharp left turn.  I ask  "....is there a big enough level spot for me to park DOWN THERE?".....Russ answers....."sure.....we'll get you in there, and then worry about backing you out on Monday".....wait, what....there will be backing?  He seemed so confident, and I could see other rigs down there that appeared to be level, so I began moving slowly following him down the hill to our spot.....I can see there is a level spot down there, so I keep moving until Russ raises his hand, and gives me the stop signal.  I had to lower the driver's side down almost six inches, but, indeed, we ended up being level side to side, and front to back....I still can't believe it.

Within a few minutes the rain stopped, and the sun came out.  On top of the beautiful view  of the lake we have, Russ also has allowed us to plug into a nearby 30 amp RV outlet, so we won't have to run our generator.....remember, we are parking here for FREE.   Since we are going to be here 2 days riding out the weather fronts coming through I wanted to be sure I could watch March Madness, and what do you know.....our view of the southern sky is the only unobstructed by trees view of the sky we have, and I was able to dial in DirecTV within just a few minutes....okay, we are set for a couple of days....I'll worry about how we're getting out of this site on Monday....we've got 30 amps, TV and electric heaters warding off the cold, damp air.....life is good!

Once we got settled in I settled in to watch non-stop NCAA basketball....a lot of good games, and a number of surprising upsets.  We headed off to bed around midnight, just as the rain resumed.....and it rained continuously all night long.....sweet!  Now if that lake doesn't rise too much we're golden!




Thanks for stopping by!

TLE's Perspective - Chapter 6 - What I have changed since the start


Once we started traveling we made further changes.  We purged more items that we were not using and added items we did need but had not brought with us.  Since we had the trailer there were items we put in that we thought we might use.  A three burner Camp Chef with BBQ box and flat griddle was fine for the park or if we were going to be somewhere for longer that a couple of weeks, but we found taking out the smaller Sea-B-Que was easier especially for just the two of us.

Camp Chef Stove

We had also decided to carry our Terra Trikes with us along with our two road bikes, Clarke's mountain bike and our tandem.  We found that a lot of the country is just not conducive to riding the trikes (these are three wheel tadpole set up trikes).  After riding them only once we made the decision to leave them along with the BBQ and a few other items in storage.  We also cleaned out more clothes and cupboards and made some donations.
Tadpole Trikes

With storage being at a premium I had not brought many baking items with me.  I had not used a lot while in the park -- with the BBQ permanently set up outside we had done a lot of cooking outside.  I added a few more items such as a 1/4 sheet baking sheet, a couple of small mixing bowels, and a glass baking dish.  I do use throw away pans if I need something more  for baking.  These are great for all the pot luck gatherings we have been to.  I also bought a small crockpot.  My daughter had borrowed my bigger one and I just figured she would use it more than me, but once on the road I wanted that option also.

When we were in Vancouver, WA the end of August Clarke had made an electrical faux pas and blew my micro-convection oven.  We were on our way back east to work at Amazon so I suggested not worrying about changing it until we were settle in the park there.  By the time we reached Campbellsville I had gotten so used to living without the microwave, and of course I still had the propane stove, so we just removed the broken one and did not replace it.  We had bought a small teakettle for heating water and I do know how to heat food on top of the stove (we didn't always have microwaves!)  I have a small toaster, my teakettle, induction burner and a fruit bowel in that space now.  I am thinking that I want a small toaster oven, then Clarke can add a shelf above it for storing my induction burner.

Our next major change is going to be removing the sofa and replacing it with a recliner chair for me and and small desk area for Clarke.  We had replaced the club chair across from the sofa with a recliner for Clarke earlier this past year and think that another recliner will work better than the sofa.  I usually sit on the coach with my feet up to keep them out of the aisle, or to watch TV, so we think the space will be work better with another recliner and a desk so Clarke doesn't have to work off a TV table anymore!

Yes we have made adjustment and will probably continue to do so in a small ways, but Clarke and I almost daily look at each other and say, "I can't believe that I still love it and that we are actually doing this !"

Stay tuned for my perspective as we continue out journey...TLE

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The last, last, last day in Savannah....I promise

Karen said she would e-mail me in the morning to let me know what our plans for breakfast would be, and what time.  They had in mind a little place called Harris Bakery, but first thing Friday morning Krash took Pipa for a walk by the bakery, but it was no longer there....the building had been bought, and was being renovated.  She e-mailed me the news, so I suggested Clary's  Cafe (featured in the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), which was only a few blocks from the flat in which they were staying.

If I may...a little sidebar here......you know, the longer we have been in Savannah the more we have realized the downtown area is really a small geographical area, and you can walk almost anywhere in just a few minutes.  This gentile city no longer seems as large and mysterious as we originally felt last year....in fact we feel quite at home here now after 12 days of roaming her streets, and alleys.

Okay, back to the story.....we agreed to meet them at Clary's at 10:30.....which gave me about an hour to dump the black tank....I didn't want to do it Saturday in the rain....that is the forecast for Saturday and Sunday, and to get the trailer organized for our departure Saturday morning.  I'm always a little afraid of trying to multi-task when one of those tasks is dumping and flushing the black tank....I am easily distracted, and you can let your imagination take you to the result if I should get side tracked.....lol.  However, on this day I was a multi-tasker supreme.....in about 40 minutes I had the tank dumped, and flushed 3 times, and the trailer ready to receive the T-Bird later that day.

By 10:15 we were in the car on our way to Clary's.....we arrived just a couple of minutes before Krash and Karen.  I love the atmosphere of this small cafe, and the food is spectacular.  We enjoyed a great meal and conversation then walked back to their flat to see Pipa....around 12:30 we decided we needed to take care of our chores for the day.....buy groceries, pick up the Delo 100 oil I had ordered from West Marine, and see if the New Albion Beer had arrived at Largo Beverages.  Ever since January 1st I have been trying to find this beer in stock somewhere, but am always a day late.  When we stopped by this liquor store a few days ago they said they would have a few cases coming in Thursday afternoon, and would call and let me know if it did....well, while we were on our way to West Marine I got the call!  You will recall it was these two items, plus our Passports that compelled us to stay a few more days.....now if only our Passports arrive via Priority Mail it will have been a perfect day.......and we will had dinner downtown with Krash and Karen to look forward to!

New Albion Ale

While I was taking care of the bill for the Delo 100 oil TLE found a pair of black Sperry Topsider shoes that fit....you know wha a hard time she has with shoes......we both will need black shoes for our gig at the Indy 500...I have some already, but will need a pair of black pants, which TLE already has.  So, a little serendipity at West Marine.

Next we headed for Largo Beverage to pick up a couple of 6 packs of the New Albion Ale, which, by the way, Beer Advocate gives 4 stars.  After dropping some money at Walmart we arrived back home around 3 pm...I walked over to the mail box to see if our Prior Mail envelope was there........and it was!  Both our Passports and birth certificates had found their way through the Washington D.C. maze, and back to our hands.

We needed to be in the car around 4:45 to drive into town to meet Krash and Karen at Moon River Brewing Company for dinner....we had eaten here once before when we met our niece for dinner, and wanted to try them one more time....so glad we did!  Krash and Karen were there waiting for us, and Krash was already into his first Captain's Porter.  The last time here I had the filet mignon, which I ranked as the second best ever...this time I ordered the "Shrimp of Course".....OMG...amazing too.  We sat eating and talking for around 2 hours, or more, then took a walk around town......we discovered it had been raining while we were eating, but had stopped just before we hit the sidewalk.  After walking a circular 8, or 9 blocks we came back to our car, and did our "until next times".  We are so happy we ended up staying a few more days, and where able to spend more time with our good friends.  To think that it has only been just shy of one year since we met them back in Chelsea, Michigan....it seems like we have known them most of our lives now.

Saturday morning we will hoist our anchor once again and head north toward Augusta, GA....looking forward to new adventure!

Thanks for stopping by!

TLE's Perspective - Chapter 5 - Hitting the Road

Everything is stuffed, stowed and stored and we are ready to hit the road.  As I have said previously, Clarke and I spent many nights talking about living on the road.  We didn't have specific plans on where we were going, just heading east initially.  One thing we didn't want to do was plan too far out and find ourselves having to hit deadlines.  Our first year we only had a couple of places to be that had deadlines - we had promised my sister-in-law that we would be in Spokane the end of  May to baby-sit her dogs, and we had decided to work at the Amazon distribution warehouse in Campbelsville, KY for the prime time from October through December.

We knew that we wanted to dry camp sometimes, so one of our first stops was to have two 150 watt solar panels installed on the coach.  This enables us to stay off the grid if necessary.  One thing I had been concerned about was staying in various business parking lots.  We had stayed in Walmart and Cracker Barrel lots on a couple of occasions but I still as slightly uncomfortable about it.  One thing I did early on was invest in an iPad.  This lets me have email, Facebook, Internet, and my very favorite...books!  We have found it an invaluable tool for checking out parking lots for overnight stays and also gas stations to make sure we can pull 62' into and out of them.  I can look up the addresses, check out the area by satellite view, then street view.  I have only missed badly once - the Savannah Welcome Center which Clarke detailed in a previous blog.

It took a few times staying in parking lots to where I am very comfortable now.  I usually look up secondary sites in case, and have only had one Walmart so far that we didn't stay in.  There are many sites on the Internet to help you find overnight stays.  You can also look up Walmart "no overnight stays" and check Cracker Barrels for RV parking.  I am so glad that we are traveling in the age of Internet and cell-phones.

Our stays have been varied.  We have stayed in RV parks, parking lots and one of our favorites...courtesy parking.  We have been very blessed with many friends and relatives around the country asking us to please visit and park in their driveways or in front of their houses.  For those of you reading the blog THANK YOU!  

Next up......what I have changed since the start....

Friday, March 22, 2013

Hilton's Head......

"Approximately 70% of the island, including most of the tourist areas, is located inside gated communities.  However, the town maintains several public beach access points, including one for the exclusive use of town residents...." - borrowed from Wikipedia - "Hilton Head Island"

Okay, now I understand why I really didn't enjoy our time out on Hilton Head yesterday....for me it was like driving along in a "tree tunnel".....don't get me wrong...I love trees, but when I go to the ocean I want to actually "see" the ocean. Unless you succumb and allow yourself to be funneled into one of the few beach access points where the great unwashed "public" masses are "allowed" to walk along the ocean, you will not really see the ocean.  Frankly, 70% seems a little low.......lol!  If you are staying at one of the many, many resorts, or private gated communities then I can see the charm that Hilton Head holds for many.  In fact we observed a number of "spring breakers" riding bikes, and walking around the shopping areas....by "spring breakers" I'm referring to the 1000's of college aged youth patrolling the streets, and beach areas even on this cold 56 degree day.

But, I get ahead of myself once again....we were awakened by wind rattling the patio awning probably around 4 am......whenever I hear wind coming up, and the patio awning is deployed, I start worrying about having to get up in the cold and dark to put it "down" if the wind gets too strong.  Fortunately the wind was sporadic, and never got very strong, but by the time we got up around 8, though, we decided that it would be best to put it down to avoid having to do it in a stronger wind, plus we were planning on being gone for several hours to drive over to Hilton Head Island....we didn't want to be worrying about it being blown over the top of the coach the whole time we were gone.

We left for Hilton Head around 1 pm, and arrived on the island just before 2 pm.....as we drove along I kept looking for the ocean.....I knew it couldn't be far away, but never really saw it.  Now that we have been there, and I have read the aforementioned Wikipedia entry I understand why I didn't really enjoy our day there.  You can't really see much from the main highway except trees.....you see signs here and there indicating a shopping center, or restaurants, etc., but you cannot really see much from the road.  I like trees as much as the next person, but we came here to see the ocean, and maybe even have lunch at a restaurant on the ocean, but it was hard to tell where that would be.

We were looking for Hilton Head Brewing Company, but it was not where the map said it should be.  After wandering around several shopping centers we gave up and just started looking for any restaurant that seemed interesting.....we finally settled on Parrot Cove Seafood Bar & Grill in the Shelter Cove shopping center.....UrbanSpoon gives them 3 stars, and I would say that is about right. We enjoyed what we had, but would we drive back to Hilton Head just to eat there....no.  

It is rare that I am disappointed by any place we go, but I would have to say this adventure did not turn out the way I envisioned.....that's life.....it's going to happen sometimes.....that disappointment is such a rarity for us is a good thing, right?

On our way home I called Karen and Krash to find out their plans for the evening.....they had left Cedar Key after being there almost 9 weeks......around Noon to drive up to Savannah for a couple of days before continuing on northward to their home in Michigan.  We had been hoping they would be able to find a suitable place to stay in Savannah....they need a pet friendly place for their dog Pipa.....and they did!  They said they would arrive around 5-5:30, and would meet us at the Crystal Beer Parlor for dinner.  We got a call from them a little after 7 saying they were settled, and heading over to the restaurant, so we hopped in our car and were there in less than 15 minutes.  We had a lovely dinner in the bar area talking, and laughing like we always do.  We parted ways around 10 anticipating spending Friday together in Savannah.  We'll how that develops.  

We'll be leaving Saturday for Augusta, then up to Asheville, NC early next week for a few days.  The weather forecast is not optimistic.....there will be rain, followed by cold weather, but we will make the best of of as we always do.

Thanks for stopping by!

TLE's Perspective - Chapter 4 - Stuffing, Stowing and Storing.....


Now we are ready to go on the road!  Wait, back up...now that we have rid ourselves of what we thought we didn't need with us we needed to stuff, stow and store what we did want to take with us.  I'm going give you a brief synopsis of what I have done to store things and then let my pictures tell the story for me.

Command Hooks in use for TLE's hats!

First let me say that Command Hooks are fabulous!  Also plastic storage bins and boxes of all types.  I am a firm believer of repurposing.  Before I throw away anything I try to decide if I can reuse it first.  I have beer bottle holders in my cupboards holding oils, vinegars, sauces, etc.  These I can pull out of the cupboard or just move around to get at other food products behind.  I have plastic holders or boxes that I put cans and packages in that I can easily slide forward to find product. I also have plastic bins on shelves that hold mixing and baking tools easily accessed.  


In our clothes closets we have put shoe and clothing organizers to hold t-shirts and shorts, or even shoes!  I used some plastic magazine holders stacked and package taped together for my flip flops, slippers, tennis shoes etc.  command hooks are everywhere..holding rings in my vanity cupboard to keys, hats, sweatshirts, my flat iron, the fly swatter & my purse.  The one nice thing about our older coach is the wood grain vynel walls...they look nice and hold the hooks well.


TLE's closet and shoes
Clarke's closet
We also have under-the-bed storage.  The bed originally lifted and had a wooden brace too hold it up-right in the middle.  I could see myself knocking that down while trying to put something under so Clarke installed gas shocks which makes lifting the bed much nicer.  It also enables us to put plastic storage bins underneath without fear of knocking the bed down on our heads. 


I won't go into all the outside and trailer storage,  just know that over the past year we have made decisions of what we had brought with us and actually have gotten rid of more stuff than we have gained.  We found that there were things not being used and after discussing each item we couldn't figure out when we would use them, so we purged.  As I said earlier we have found thrift store shopping (even yard sales) quite helpful.  Clarke has found a few tools he discovered he needed that he had not brought with him.  Who knew that we would need that big wrench!  

Hitting the road.....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wednesday.....

We were paid up in site #B-3 until Wednesday......the day we had originally planned to depart Savannah.  Since our written in Jello plans had changed and we were staying 2-3 more days we had to move, so around 10 am we rolled 300 feet to our new site #19, and quickly set up.  We were expecting rain, so we had no plans for the day, and decided we should deploy the patio awning.  As it turned out it never rained.....not even a drop.  In fact the skies cleared, and the result was near freezing temps last night....very, very cold!

That was the highlight of the day.....seriously.  I spent a few hours on insurance work, took a nap, and before I knew it 5 pm had come.  TLE and I did spend some time discussing our route for the next couple of weeks, but that was the extent of it.  Later in the evening I tuned into the Miami Heat vs. Cleveland Cavaliers game when it looked like Cleveland might end the 23 game winning streak, but Miami came back from 26 points down to win by 3.....the Laker's record 33 game win streak is now seriously in danger of falling....the Heat only needs 9 more consecutive wins to tie the Lakers.

I did spend part of the day exchanging e-mails with Krash and Karen who have decided to deviate slightly from their planned route back to Michigan, and stop in Savannah for a couple of days.  They'll be here Thursday, and be leaving, like us, Saturday.  We are looking forward to seeing them again!

TLE has been spending a lot of time composing her installments on her perspective of our trip, and judging by the surge in page hits her pieces are popular.  She is enjoying writing, and even let's me proof read what she has written, and give her feed back.  I'm hoping she will continue to contribute to the blog....we're talking about trading off every other day...what would you think about that?


We were treated to a spectacular sunset, for which my feeble picture hardly does justice.  Thursday we will run over to Hilton Head for a few hours, and then go to dinner with Krash and Karen later this evening.

Thanks for stopping by!

TLE's Perspective - Chapter 3 - Getting rid of more stuff....

The final move from the house to the coach happened very quickly, but we still hadn't gotten rid of nearly enough stuff.  Thankfully with my kids renting the house we were able to solve a few of the furniture problems, plus we also have use of some storage space in the back of my son's offices.  The hardest thing for me initially was deciding what I really couldn't give up and what to do with it, so at first it went into the warehouse. 

We had also made the decision to take my TBird with us when we hit the road, but did not want to flat tow it so we found a 26' trailer.  This was another serendipitous event.  Clarke knew he didn't want to extend our overall length more than necessary so he measured the car and added some length for the bikes, and started looking for a trailer that would carry the weight.  Most trailers that would carry the weight were too long, but we found a custom built trailer that was 22'  with a 4' tongue, perfect for us.  Of course now I had a "garage" on-site that I could store things in!



Living stationary, but in the coach for 12 months enabled me to make adjustments in what I did and didn't use and what I thought would make my life easier on the road.   One of the first things we changed out was the old radar range microwave.  Yes it was a 1982 microwave!  It worked perfectly, but I wanted to change to a micro-convection for faster cooking.  I did not take the propane oven out since I knew that we would be dry camping and would not want to use the electricity if I wanted to bake.  Mind you, I do not bake a lot, but when inspiration strikes...... 
Next on my list was an induction burner.  I hated having to open up the 3-burner stove if I only needed one burner.  This cuts down on overall counter space by almost 2'.  I heard many RVers liked  induction burners so I read up on them and ordered one.  The burner inducts heat to the pan surface leaving the burner surface cool.  It also cooks quickly.  I love it for stir fry or for boiling water for pasta, etc.  It has a timer on it so I can start Clarke's old fashioned oatmeal, set the timer and walk away - the burner turns off when done! I have found I use this burner a lot, even if I need two pots.  I will cook my noodles first than my stir fry adding the noodles back in to heat up.  This gives me more counter space which in an RV is premium. The burner can also be used outside which I have not done yet.  I also found out that I can use the burner while boon docking since it cooks so quickly I don't use up that much amperage.  I have also been able to cook on it when we only have 15 or 20 amp power.  I make sure everything else pulling a lot of electricity is off and don't use the burner past the #5 setting.  This setting allows the burner to heat up quickly than I reset it lower for cooking.  I don't remember how many amps the setting pulls, but I do know that I have watched the meter to make sure it doesn't pull more than 10....sorry techno geeks, I just make sure not to blow the fuses!


It sounds like I have been adding more "stuff" not getting rid of it!  Well, yes.....then  2 months from "lift-off" we had a trailer full of things and no room to put the TBird, so we had to start making decisions again.  I figured if I had not removed it from the trailer for use in 6 months I did not need it, so we purged our trailer and our warehouse items again.  We managed to stow everything we thought we wanted into the coach and trailer and all our warehouse items onto two industrial warehouse sets of shelving.  

Stuffing, stowing & storing......


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Up on the roof......

The rain came down until the wee hours Tuesday morning, but when we awoke the sun was out.  Since TLE was working on her first blog post I decided to defer mine until later, and went outside to take advantage of the rain water still clinging to the coach and trailer.  I got out my towels and started wiping down the trailer first, then the coach.  That was the easy part....the hard rain had washed off the dirt, and all I had to do was wipe off the residue of the storm.  

Since I was feeling so energetic I decided to go up on the roof to take care of a long deferred project.....clean the roof.  Even though one cannot see the top of the coach from the ground, and, therefore, cannot see how dirty it is, I knew it was filthy and it had been eating at me for a couple of months.  Every time I went up on the roof I thought...."man I've got to take care of this disgusting mess".  The last time I cleaned the roof was a year ago in Thibodaux, LA when we were staying on our friends property for 8 days.  During our  stay in Campbellsville the continual rain we had for days at a time during late November, and into December pretty much cleaned off the grime that had accumulated since the previous March, but since the end of December it has gotten very dirty again.  



In the above picture you can see the contrast between the just cleaned rear portion of the coach roof, and what is yet to be cleaned.....it took me the better part of 3 hours to do the entire roof....and it kicked my butt, my back, and my hands, which are quite stiff this morning.  BUT, the good news is I found out the roof paint is in much better condition than I thought.  The oxidation is not as bad as I thought....I guess that's a testament to the quality paint job done by Newell at the factory.  Now that it is clean I'm hoping to put a coat of wax on it before we leave Savannah.

After finishing the roof job I took a not shower, and rewarded myself some chips, salsa and a Shock Top brew.....then slipped into nap mode as I listened to 60's music on XM Radio.........sweet!  

As I mentioned at the close of yesterday's entry my son, Chris, messaged me that our passports had arrived at the office, and he was sending them Priority Mail.  If all goes well we should have them by Friday, or Saturday at the latest......soooo our written in Jello plans have changed again....we will remain where we are for at least 2 more days, if not 3.   Now we will be able to legally re-enter the USA from Canada this July.


 Surge/over voltage protector & electronic ignitor

I also received our latest Amazon Prime shipment of a couple items...a surge/over voltage/under voltage protector, and a new electronic ignitor for the BBQ.  I wish I had the over voltage part of the protector back in Vancouver when I plugged into a 220 outlet by mistake and fried our microwave, and converter/charger.  Love that free two day shipping!

We'll be moving to a new spot (#19) a little later today for our last 2, or 3 days here, so I've got to get out to the trailer and secure everything for the 300 foot move. 

We're starting to get "hitch itch" again....looking forward to changing our view again....time to be moving northward to new scenery and adventures......from here we'll head northwest to Augusta, GA, home of Augusta National Golf Course....the home of the Masters Golf Tournament.

Thanks for stopping by!