Home Away From Home

Headed to South Carolina

it’s May 3 I think – Sunday and we’re on our way to Townville, SC, Lake Hartwell Camping, a Passport campground.

After I got up I enjoyed my cup of coffee and then went on to get my shower, dress and began securing everything in the back for our day of traveling. I knew Jerry wanted to get on the road as quickly as possible. Had he known that we would be traveling around Atlanta he might have suggested leaving even earlier. As it was we pulled out of the campsite at 9:08 and were on the road soon. There was right much traffic going around Atlanta but it was Sunday morning so I’m sure it was lighter than normal. Thankfully we didn’t go through Atlanta. I’m learning about routing and hopefully will do better in the future. Land is getting a lot flater and we don’t hear the coach go into overdrive nearly as often. Glad we don’t need any gas because gas in the Atlanta area is the most expensive I’ve seen on the trip.

When we realized that we would be passing near Dawsonville I called Debbie, Jerry’s sister to see where she was. Of course she was in NC.

It has been a nice sunny day for travel. Constant traffic most of the way but not stressfully heavy. We’ve talked a bit about favorite campgrounds, least favorite, how many miles to drive in a day and what would influence that decision. Overall a nice ride but quiet. I have offered to drive a couple of times but Jerry says he’s OK.

12:50 brief stop at the Visitor’s Center just as we entered South Carolina, only about 20 minutes from our destination – I hope!

We arrived at Camp Hartwell Camping at 1:15 but unfortunately the office was closed with a note that they’d be back at 12:45. Someone arrived at 1:45 – couldn’t set the clock? When she finally came back someone in front of me was paying for storage or something with $1000 cash. I had to wait quite a while but understood that her $1000 was much more important than my $19.80 that had already been paid. We finally got to the campsite after 2:00, a little tricky coming in but it was a pull through. From the looks of the place though I asked Jerry if he really wanted to stay here. His comment of course was “we paid for it”. It was a nice looking campground but people unfortunately looked a little sketchy and across from us was a “cabin” (really a trailer) and a couple of yelping dogs.

Oops, change of plans. After two attempts Jerry could not get the rig level and with everything else he said let’s go on so he headed to the office to the office to see if we could get a refund. Of course not! On our entire trip the best campground we stayed in was a Passport and the worst – this one, is a Passport. Guess you never know.

We were leaving by 2:35 and on the way to Tom Johnson Camping in Concord. We had Adkins bars for lunch as we rode along hoping we could even get into the campground. I called several times and each time got transferred to Charlotte Motor Speedway, something about a big concert week-end. Someone from the Speedway was trying to contact the campground and was supposed to call me back. In the meantime we were headed there. We had no electricity with the battery – fridge was not working – so we needed hook-up tonight!

We stopped in Gaffney, SC to get gas and Jerry asked me to drive for a while – bad decision. I had only been driving a little while when the traffic began to pick up. As we passed a Rest Stop Jerry asked if I was OK and I lied and said yes. Traffic began to get even heavier with an additional lane and I was in the middle with cars and BIG trucks passing me on both sides. I finally told Jerry that I was about to have a nervous breakdown. It took us a few minutes to find an exit so we could stop and exchange seats. We pulled into a shopping area but that didn’t work and getting out of there was very difficult. We finally turned into an empty Hobby Lobby parking lot, exchanged drivers and as we were pulling into the street the car dolly drug, the coach swayed, the pantry door opened and cans began rolling out. Fortunately the coffee pot was plugged in or it too would have been on the floor. Perhaps this was an omen of what was to come.

I was really disappointed and thinking this was not a good way to end a trip. The poor campground shook my confidence in finding good places to stay and the driving experience surely took away what little driving confidence I had away. Of course Jerry tried to make me feel better by saying it was a poor decision to ask me to drive into the Charlotte area and traffic. He also said I needed to do two things – drive more to the center line and we discussed how to do this and he also said I needed to relax! Ok – I’ll do that – one day maybe!

When we pulled into Concord and up to Tom Johnson it looked like Woodstock must have looked. Tents, campers, cars, everything everywhere. I could see why they never called us back. We found out later that it was the Carolina Rebellion, intense heavy metal music for the entire week-end. We pulled in the drive at Tom Johnson and Jerry decided if I moved the cone he could drive in and get us back out on the highway. First time I’ve ever defied authority and moved a cone but I did it. We idled next to Tom Johnson while I looked for a nearby campground while listening to deafening music. I found Apollo Campground, called and they had an empty site.

We went over – it was only .8 of a mile away and behind a couple’s home. They were elderly and so sweet. The man led us to our site and we finally got parked. As Jerry was leveling and we were setting up we met the couple next to us, Sandee and Mitch from Florida in their Tiffin Allegro – we have seen so many of those this trip. After getting set up and warming up dinner we went next door and visited with them until after 10:00. The music stopped somewhere around 10:00 finally. Sandee said it had been going on since 9:00 Friday morning stopping at 11:00 each night. It was so loud it shook the ground where we where! They were a delightful couple who gave us some good ideas and encouraged us to look into COE parks. That I will do for our next trip.

It was a difficult and depressing day but ended on such a good note. Made me not want to end our trip but alas, home was calling.

We got up the next day, packed up the car with nearly everything in the RV and took it to Tom Johnson’s. We went over the list of concerns, about 15 items, and then after lunch at Olive Garden we left Concord about 1:00. We stopped for gas and for a break at a Rest Stop and were home before 5:00. I unpacked while Jerry started mowing the grass!

What a wonderful trip and I’m ready to start planning another.

Home Away From Home

Unclaimed Luggage Store in Scottsboro, Alabama

Today was a day of rest getting ready for the trip home. With no plans for the day and not wanting to see anymore caves or caverns we decided to go to the Unclaimed Luggage store in Scottsboro, Alabama. It was about an hour’s drive and an interesting place. There were many people there and I wondered if they were local or tourists. The store had almost anything anyone would want – if you wanted to buy used items. There was a lot of clothing but as Jerry said, “I’ve got enough used clothes”. I bought a cover for my Kindle that doesn’t quite fit but will be fine, a pair of sunglasses and we bought a suitcase to keep in the RV in case of an emergency flight home at any time. It was only $15.

On the way home we stopped for groceries at Walmart. According to the GPS it was .6 miles away – perhaps as the crow flies but not as the car goes. Got the groceries and came back to the campground by 2:30. It was a beautiful, sunny day so I begged Jerry to drag out my chair and I sat outside for a while. Came in and since Jerry was asleep on the sofa I went in the bedroom and turned on the TV to watch the pre-show for the Derby. I watched it intermittently and napped intermittently until about 5:30. We watched the Derby and then had dinner. After dinner we intended to take the trash out but ending up sitting outside by the fire with neighbors Barbara and Jim until nearly 9:30. Tried to get the GPS set for tomorrow’s trip but the new GPS doesn’t recognize Townville, SC. Not sure I’m going to keep this one either.

Home Away From Home

Chattanooga Ducks

Wow – what a night and what a day. Jerry woke me up last night snoring and I could not fall back asleep so I had to wake him up. He moved to the sofa. I woke up about 6:15 freezing! I didn’t want to go into the den to turn on the heat because I knew Jerry had had a bad night and I didn’t want to wake him up so I stayed in bed cuddled up until nearly 7:00. I finally couldn’t stand it any longer so I got up and quietly went in the den. It was dark but I tried to turn on the heat only to turn on the air condition. I finally got a flashlight out of the cabinet and then – Jerry asked if I needed help!

After a cup of coffee I got back in bed trying to get warm and listened to a podcast and fell asleep again. Finally got back up about 8:30. We sat around and talked about future trips, saving money, what we were going to do today, etc. We finally decided we would go downtown Chattanooga and take the Chattanooga Ducks Tour. I called about 10:45 and they said they only had vacancies on two trips today, one at 11:30 and one at 3:30. I asked him if we could get there by 11:30 and he said sure but to take an alternate route because of the parade. I explained that I would be using a GPS so he told me how to get there.

We left immediately and had no trouble getting to downtown but then had to find a parking spot in the midst of a lot of traffic. We finally found one near the waterfront and very quickly began walking to the tour. He had told me that he was behind a cupcake store so we found it fairly easily but it was a hike.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe ride was great. It was an authentic renovated WWII amphibious landing craft that could go on land and water. The guide was very knowledgeable and knew a lot of history about Chattanooga. He recommended walking the Walnut Street Bridge, Coolidge Park and the aquarium. We rode along Ross Landing and on to McClellan Island all the while hearing a lot of history. To go from the street to the Tennessee River and then back to the street was fascinating. It was windy and a little cold but a great experience.

By this time we were hungry and the guide had recommended several restaurants which we passed right by as we walked today the car to get our Adkins bar and water. One of our topics of discussion this morning was saving money on our trips and we admitted that we were eating out too much. However, if it had been left up to me today we’d have gotten something better than an Atkins bar for lunch!

Coolidge Park Carousel
Coolidge Park Carousel
After our “lunch” we walked over the Walnut Street Bridge. The 2,376 foot span is one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges and connects Chattanooga to the North Shore. On the other side was Coolidge Park and a beautiful carousel that was donated to Chattanooga from Atlanta after Atlanta got a new one. Atlanta however didn’t send any horses, etc. so a master carver, Bud Ellis instructed a team on how to create all of the rides.

We walked back across the bridge and then went to the Tennessee Aquarium first to the salt water side. The first thing we saw were the penguins and they were so cute. They were all banded so that the handlers could tell them apart. After a tour of the salt water we went to another building to the fresh water side. It was much larger and had many fish of all sizes and descriptions and from all parts of the world.

Returned to the RV a little after 5:00 exhausted. Fortunately we were eating meatballs and leftover veggies. I cut up a cucumber and we ate about 7:00. Although really tired Jerry bagged up the trash and we took it to the container. As we were walking back we ran into our neighbors from Durham, Jim and Barbara Hastings and ended up standing outside and chatting until 9:00.

Inside now and Jerry is continuing to watch the football draft and I’m off to bed.