Home, North Carolina, Tennessee

Goodbye Chattanooga

All good things must come to an end so on Saturday morning we were up and out of the campground headed for Clemmons. It was an uneventful trip back with good weather and light traffic. Emma has been really good about staying belted in during the trip to and from Chattanooga. Being in a Class A motor home gives one the advantage of getting up and moving around but that is pretty much a no-no for us. I get up occasionally to get Jerry a snack or something to drink but for the most part we are belted in.

We were staying at Tanglewood Campground in Clemmons again. I guess we really should apply to be workampers there since we are there so often! I thought Emma would want her parents to meet us at the campground but no, she wanted us to go to her home and surprise them so after we got set up we headed out again. No one can ever accuse us of letting grass grow under our feet!

Needless to say everyone was happy to be reunited and we enjoyed a pleasant afternoon outside with all of the family. After a quick dinner out Jerry and I headed back to Tanglewood for the night and then Sunday morning we headed home to Kinston. It was a grand trip, such the right length of time but as always the best part is coming home.

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Home Away From Home, Tennessee

Friday in Chattanooga

For us we got a fairly quick start this morning as we were headed to the Creative Discovery Museum and had no idea how long we would want to spend there. Got the address put in the car GPS and headed out. Interestingly, when we paid for our admission Jerry and I were given pink wristbands to wear and were told that we could come in and out of the museum anytime during the day. The children didn’t have to wear any kind of identifying band. The museum, a children’s museum located right downtown in Chattanooga contains art, music, science and an area called River Play, a two story tall exhibit with a “riverboat” for the little ones and then a larger area for older kids. Emma was running up and down the twisting tunnels so quickly that it was difficult to keep my eyes on her. Within this area is a water table where kids can learn about locks and dam systems. They have a bevy of toy ducks that you could put in the “steam” and watch them as they navigated the path. Another amazing exhibit was the lightning dome. When your hand is placed on the dome electricity is generated and you can see the various strain of current. Another section is devoted to music with different instruments and their sounds. Still another area is the health center where you can be weighed (yeah I did and decided to have another ice cream cone later), get your pulse taken, have your eyes checked. It was totally fascinating. Another interesting area was the dinosaur exhibit where they had a large “skeleton” of a dinosaur. Emma wasn’t as interested in this as Eli would have been. Upstairs was an entire area devoted to Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Upon entering there was an area of tall glass fronds which you could tumble into. Adjoining this was an outdoor science demonstration showing how simple machines worked. There was also a large checker board with black and white checkers that could be moved around. It was amazing and Emma was so excited that she couldn’t decide what to do first so just ran from one station to another.

Naturally we finally ended up in the gift shop where Emma’s money was burning a hole in her pocket. She finally decided on some modeling clay and a stuffed animal. Jerry was able to find a gift for both Eli and Olivia as well.

Our next mission was lunch and after wandering around for a while we decided on Five Guys. Emma got a junior burger and Jerry and I both wished we had. Ours were huge! After about two bites mine fell apart so I started eating it using a knife and fork. That worked much better. We only ordered one order of fries but Jerry said when they put the burgers in the bag along with a cup of fries they just dumped a large scoop full of fries in the bag. We left a lot of fries.

Our next stop was the store advertising moon pies and RC Cola, apparently something Chattanooga is famous for. Emma got dipping dots and we sat outside while she ate.

We then headed to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo but by the time we got there we decided to forego that activity and headed on back to the campground. Jerry decided that he wanted to take a nap so Emma and I decided to go to the pool for a swim. I can’t believe we haven’t been all week because it’s a nice pool although the depth markers seemed a little off. It was nearly over my head at 4 feet and I’m 5”6”. It was a great day for a swim and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of fun and laughter with our sweet girl.

After the swim we discussed what to do that evening. Our choices were go swimming again, do nothing, or go to the Chattanooga Cleveland Horse Show. We finally decided to go swimming although that never came to pass. After dinner Emma and I sat outside and then all three of us went to the nearby Baskin and Robbins for ice cream. All in all it was a wonderful day and week. I told Emma today the only bad thing about having her spend nearly a week with us is that it makes us miss her that much more when we’re apart. She has been the sweetest girl this week and at times such a trooper in the heat and humidity but rarely complaining and always compliant.

Tennessee

Ruby Falls ZIP Stream Aerial Adventure

Looking a little apprehensive
When we were at Ruby Falls on Tuesday Emma saw the sign for the Ruby Falls ZIP Stream Aerial Adventure and kept talking about it so finally on Thursday morning we headed out there. She was a little dubious of going when we first got there and I asked her if she was sure she wanted to try it. There is no refund if you change your mind so we wanted to be sure she would do it. She assured us that she would so we paid the $25 for her. We had to wait for a while and during that time a gentleman came off of the adult zip line and according to how his wife was treating him he wasn’t feeling well at all. I think that sort of frightened Emma but she was determined to do it. Her guide was Anna Rene and we couldn’t have gotten a more perfect person to do it. She was so patient and gentle with Emma encouraging her but never forcing her to do anything.

Dressed for adventure
Actually it is an obstacle course with a zip line in it. Emma got to go through it four times and each time chose a different obstacle. There is also a rock climbing wall and Emma climbed all the way to the top. I was amazed at her dexterity but then she is a dancer. Quite frankly, it was the best $25 we spent in Chattanooga!
That pink speck is Emma

We had told Emma about the Unclaimed Baggage store in Scottsboro, Alabama and she really wanted to go there. I’m not sure if she really wanted to go to the store or if she wanted to add another visited state to her list but never the less she wanted to go. We stopped at Wendy’s for lunch and then headed to Scottsboro. It’s not too far, about an hour, from Chattanooga. The store is huge with most anything anyone would want but it seemed different this time. Their prices did not seem to be as good as when we visited a couple of years ago but Emma still found some bracelets that she wanted so another chance to spend “her” money.

The ride back to the campground was long as there was pouring rain and heavy traffic but we made it. Another eventful day!

Tennessee

Chattanooga Ducks

Wednesday started out with a walk over the Walnut Street Walking Bridge. Jerry and I so enjoyed it the last time we were in Chattanooga but it was in the spring, not in hot June. It was a long walk although Emma saw a guy jogging and decided she could beat him so she took off running. She would have beat him except she had to stop at the end of the bridge and he kept running. It exhausted her though and she just plodded down the streets. We finally realized after seeing every store closed that nothing opened until 11:00 and we were too early. We walked over to Coolidge Park and there was lot of people there with children running in and out of the sprinkling water fountain. We couldn’t talk Emma into it though. Unfortunately the carousel didn’t begin operation until 11:00 either so that was a bust! We lumbered back over the bridge and saw a little ice cream shop that sold WATER! Oh, sweet relief.

Emma driving the duck boat
Our next stop was the Chattanooga Ducks, which is a tour aboard an authentic renovated WWII amphibious landing craft. We had to wait for quite a while so we went into the Cupcake Shop which I had remembered being on the corner. We walked around the street and there is was and the showcase was full of delicious looking cupcakes of all kinds. Of course each of us had to try a different one. What a way to start a day! Afterward we went back to the loading area and when we got on we were lucky enough to get the very front seat! After a very interesting tour through the city we hit the waters of the Tennessee River. It’s an amazing feeling to be riding in a vehicle on land and then suddenly be floating on the water. On our return trip up the river the tour guide let the children “drive” the boat and since we were at the front Emma was the first. Since she is comfortable on our jet ski she was pretty comfortable steering that large boat and did a grand job!

By the time we were really hungry so we began the quest to find a good restaurant. We found a nearby restaurant that had good food and cool drinks. What more could we ask for?

Sharks – On my!
Our next stop for the day for the Tennessee Aquarium. It is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon for both adults and children. We got to put our hands in the water to fill a sturgeon and then later some stingrays. Of course we could have petted a snake too but elected not to! They have both a saltwater and a freshwater building in addition to an entire room dedicated to butterflies. Emma tried her best to get one to light on her but no such luck. We had to be checked when we exited that room to be sure that there were no butterflies on us. There were lots of interesting animals to see in addition to the many species of fish. Of course we ended up in the gift shop but Emma’s only purchase was some candy.

As we headed out we had planned to stop at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. It took us a while to find it and by that time we were all just too tired for another tour so we headed on back to the campground.

Another full day!

Tennessee

Rock City and Ruby Falls

Whew – what a busy and hot day in Chattanooga. We finally got out around 10:00 (plans were 9:00). Since it was supposed to be such a hot day we decided to go to Rock City first and then enjoy the cool temperatures in Ruby Falls. That was probably one of the wisest decisions we will make on this trip! On our way to Lookout Mountain we went by Walmart to pick up a few items and thus arrived even later than anticipated.

The road to Rock City is obviously a mountainous curvy road with a lot of “s” curves. As Jerry had said on the last trip,he was glad he wasn’t driving the motor home. Luckily we got a close parking place. At the ticket booth we realized that we could save a little money by buying a package so we ended up buying tickets for 2 adults and one child for Rock City, Ruby Falls, Inclined Railway and the Tennessee Aquarian. How do you spell ka-ching!

Rock City
We headed right into Rock City and the lovely walkway. Everything is so green and lush at this time of the year although we didn’t see a lot of flowering bushes. Emma seemed to be intrigued with the many facets of the walk.
Fat Man’s Squeeze
Fat Man’s Squeeze was particularly interesting. We all three squeezed through! As we wandered around we realized that we somewhere took the wrong turn and had ended up at the beginning in the gift shop. Interestingly enough Emma, the one who had not been to Rock City before recognized where we were before Jerry and I did. The only way to get to the pavilion where we had planned to have lunch was to retrace our steps. Whew – we were already hot and Emma was tired too so the walk was not something we were looking forward to but we made it! We took no side trips but went directly to the pavilion, got a table and ordered lunch. I had a delightful plate of fried green tomatoes along with crudités accompanied with their homemade pimento cheese. Since it was not an entrée I ordered the chips to go along with it. Actually I ate very few of the chips as the plate was quite enough. I might add, it was delicious, almost as good as the cold glass of iced water that we got as soon as we got there!

Hot, Tired and Hungry!
With some fuel in our bodies, a little rest in the shade and something to drink we were a little bit more energetic so Emma and I headed to the swinging bridge. We cautiously walked across it as it was bouncing because of others on it. When they got off went all the way across and then she decided she wanted to return alone so I let her go and then joined her after she reached the end. Jerry and I enjoyed Rock City this time but not nearly as much as the first time mainly due to the influx of people and the heat. When we were here in April it wasn’t so crowded and of course the weather was cooler.

Our next stop was the deliciously cool Ruby Falls. Although we had a little wait time before we could go down to the falls we were at least in the air condition. Our tour guide was Austin, a college student and since Emma, Jerry and I were in the front Emma became the line leader. We were always very near to Austin so not only did we hear everything he said quite well we were able to ask questions as we walked along. The falls were very crowded today with extra buses but we still went along pretty quickly. As we walked along Austin pointed out the various interesting points and then the finale – the spectacular falls. They are natural, beautiful and the only indoor falls of that size in the country.

Next we headed to the Inclined Railway, rather anti-climactic really but at least we were sitting down and it was cool. We headed down the incline for the mile ride, had our ice cream cones and then rode back up.

Exhausted we finally headed back to the campground. It was nearly 7:00 so a tried crew went right inside to recuperate for the next day.

Tennessee

Chattanooga Again!

Riding along on this pretty June day brings to mind that wonderful poem “what is so rare as a day in June” and it is certainly true today. After a good night’s rest Jerry and I were up fairly early but still had time for our “quiet time” and coffee, showers and then preparation for leaving. Jane brought Emma by on her way to school and we were nearly ready to go by then. Jerry pulled the coach up to the parking area and I followed in the car. Then we again hooked the car up to the motor home. Jerry does the outside work of hooking up and I do the inside “work” of putting the Jeep in the right gear to be towed. By 8:23 we were on the road to Chattanooga. It is a really pretty drive as everything is green and mountains are in the distance. It’s probably going to be a hot day but we’re cool inside so we are still enjoying the benefits of that rare June day.

After a couple of hours we stopped at a rest stop mainly just to walk around for a few minutes plus take advantage of the facilities. Back on the road by 10:20 and Emma has asked how many more hours. Um… After a week-end of dancing Emma was pretty tired so she took a couple of naps on the way. That makes for a much “shorter” trip”! Of course, an iPad and a movie help too! FYI – she is belted in!

At the Tennessee state line we stopped at the Welcome Center to take some pictures and get some information plus we had lunch. We had originally planned to use the picnic area but decided inside with the generator and air condition was a better choice! It’s hot in Tennessee!

We arrived at Holiday Travel Park of Chattanooga which is actually located in Rossville, Ga around 3:30 and had an easy check-in. We’ve stayed at this park on our Tennessee trip a couple of years ago and they have made improvements since then. The roads and the sites are graveled so we didn’t have to contend with mud if it rained. Also, the sites seemed to be further apart. They have a nice pool also. The only negative is its proximity to the drag strip. On Friday and Saturday nights the loud motors of the race cars can be heard but by the time they started we had ended our day and were inside so they didn’t bother us too much. We had a nice quiet spot almost at the end of the park, a pull-through although we needed to unhook before we pulled in in order to align the tanks with the pedestals.

A quick set up and we had the rest of the afternoon. Jerry surely didn’t want to drive anywhere so Emma and I went discovering. Since we knew that the campground was located on a Civil War battlefield which served as a skirmish site in 1863 preceding the Battle of Chickamauga we set out through the woods to find the marker denoting this information. We thought we were going on a long hike – nope, just a little walk and there was the plaque!

We then decided we needed to go to the grocery store so the three of us headed out with no idea of where we were going. After several missed turns and finding a not so good grocery store we realized that there was a Publix fairly close by. Emma and I got the silly giggles and then she wanted a picture not only of the Publix sign but one of her standing beneath the store sign. All the way to Chattanooga to get a picture of Publix grocery store! As we walked in the first thing we saw was a watermelon – heck, our shopping was done! I’m quite sure people looked at us as though we were crazy (Jerry surely did) but we were having fun and since we didn’t know anyone we could act as silly as we wanted to – and we did!

Back to the campground via a much closer route and then a nice dinner. Jerry had promised a treat after dinner so off we went again, to the local ice cream shop. A nice cone of chocolate ice cream is a good way to end a day!

Home Away From Home, North Carolina

An Uneventful Trip to Clemmons!

Saturday, June 10 we headed out for Clemmons and Tanglewood Park. Since we knew that Jane and Emma would be involved in dance recital rehearsal we took our time leaving. Fortunately, this trip was very uneventful unlike our previous trip on Easter week-end! We arrived and got set up fairly quickly. The campground is filled with lots of campers on this pretty week-end but we didn’t have time to visit as we headed out to David and Jane’s as soon as we were set up. It’s so nice to be able to stay at a nice park and be close to their home as well. When Tanglewood was closed for the winter we stayed at Greystone RV Park in Pinnacle, also a nice campground but it’s a good 30 minute or more drive to their house with heavy traffic all of the way so Tanglewood is our campground of choice.

In addition to the campground Tanglewood has many other facilities that the campers can use free of charge. There is a nice dog park plus a vegetable/flower market on some Saturday mornings. There are a couple of pools, a lake for pedal boats (that’s not as easy as it looks), horse stables, playgrounds, lots of hiking trails and good places for bike rides as well. One of the highlights of the year is the Festival of Lights beginning the end of November and going through December. The entire park is transformed into a winter wonderland of giant, twinkling snowflakes and whimsical scenes! An event that began in 1992 has now become an annual tradition for many with an average of 250,000 visitors each year. There are now over a million individual lights and with the recent update all of them are LED. The campground is only open during the first few days of the Festival so always check before arriving.

Emma after her recital
We had a nice week-end visiting with the children and the grands plus seeing Emma perform in her dance recital. After dinner on Sunday evening we returned to Tanglewood fairly early knowing Monday would be a long day.

North Carolina

Travelers or Campers?

We have always said that we are travelers instead of campers because when we’re on a trip we’re always on the go. We actually spend very little time in the campgrounds because we usually touring the area seeing as much as we can see in the allotted time. At this point in our travels we probably won’t be revisiting any areas as there are so many new things to see so we see all we can while we can. Thus, we are travelers, not campers.

However, that being said, this week-end we were campers! We not only never left the campground we never even unhooked the car from the motor home. There were actually two reasons for that. One, we had no reason to unhook as we were not going anywhere and two, Jerry said since we didn’t need the car he’d rather unhook at home where no one was going to be looking at us. We didn’t know at that time how easily it would be done.

Friday we just sat around outside reading and visiting with other campers until our appointment. Our meeting and lunch (think barbeque sandwich) was at 2:30 and Greg promptly picked us up in a golf cart. He took us on a tour of the entire campground all while giving us a lot of information. It really appears to be a nice campground with a lot of amenities, a good place for a staycation. After the tour we went over to the office to talk about the different programs and costs. The plan that seemed to fit us was joining the Coast to Coast program and we considered it. They gave us a listing of the Coast to Coast properties and after perusing that we didn’t see any in the places we had already visited nor places on our short bucket list. Because of that we opted to not join but quite frankly I think it is a pretty good deal IF it fits your lifestyle and travel style. Sycamore Lodge is too far from home for us to take a week-end trip there and with no other nearby campgrounds it just wasn’t for us.

After our tour we returned to the motor home and continued to enjoy being outside. One of the neighbors came over and we had a nice visit. I think I could enjoy just camping some week-ends if I could talk Jerry into it!

I really would like to have stayed another night as it seems you need three nights in a campground to get to know folks. I don’t know if they would have allowed us to stay another night plus when Jerry gets ready to go home, he’s ready so off we went Saturday morning about 10:30. We went a different route using more four lanes. It took us nearly four hours but was still better than the country roads we had been on earlier.

After arriving home we immediately started washing sheets and towels already getting ready for our next trip. We’ll leave next Saturday, June 10 for a couple of nights at Tanglewood in Clemmons. On Sunday we’ll go to Emma’s dance recital and then on Monday the three of us will be leaving for Chattanooga for a few days. Hope Emma enjoys the trip as much as we did when we were there a couple of years ago.

North Carolina

On to Sycamore Lodge

We are finally getting back on the road and doing a little bit of traveling and it feels good! We must have been excited about it because neither of us slept well last night. I had hoped to leave by 7:00 and Jerry had said 8:00 and it was actually 7:46 when we pulled out of the driveway. At the end of the street Jerry put the coach in park and we had a moment of prayer asking for safe travel today. I’ll admit I’m a little skittish after our last “trip” but I know God has us in His hands.

Jerry knew that we needed to add some air to the tires and the small air compressor that he has at home just would not do the job so his plan was to stop by Mallard’s on the way out of town where there is an air compressor. At the last minute he decided to go to Universal Tire to let the professionals do it. Good choice I think. He had put the new sensors on the tires yesterday and was eager to make sure everything was working correctly. By the way, the TPMS system that we were using was from TechnoRV and when we contacted Eric about the system’s failure to alert us to a problem he quickly sent us a new set. Campers Inn and TechnoRV have been very supportive throughout the entire ordeal and I highly recommend them for products and service.

Wish I could say the same about Acme Tow Dolly located in Kearnsville, NC. We have called, e-mailed and even stopped by the business but have been unable to reach the owner. He did return one call but Jerry missed it and when Jerry tried to return the call leaving yet another message there was no response. The accident occurred April 15. It is now June 1 so we’ve been trying to speak with the owner nearly six weeks. According to the firemen the brake bearing on the tow dolly locked up causing the fire. The tow dolly was sold to us with a 5 year maintenance free guarantee. Guess you can offer that if you don’t plan to respond to an incident. I really hate that because I do want to support local businesses whether it be our city or our state but I surely don’t recommend Acme Tow Dolly to anyone. I do intend to alert the Better Business Bureau but other than that I guess we have no recourse other than to warn others.

We finally pulled out of the tire shop at 8:14 for a 100+ mile drive to Jackson Springs. We were not exactly sure where it is so the ride should be interesting. We were told to follow our GPS and that’s what we’re doing!

Have you ever heard the phrase “you can’t get there from here?” Well that may apply to Sycamore Lodge! We had two GPS’s plus MapQuest and so of course we got three different routes to take. Sycamore Lodge is located in Jackson Springs which I “think” is in the Pinehurst/Southern Pines area but I’m not sure! Although many RVer’s suggest taking the back roads we always stick to the four lane highways. At forty feet plus a toad we feel safer and less likely to get into a sticky situation if we continue on main highways. Unfortunately for this trip nearly half of it was on two lane country roads going through several small towns. Even at a slower speed it’s difficult to keep the coach in our lane on some of the curves. Jerry commented that only I would be able to enjoy any of the scenery because he had to keep his eyes on the road. Oh no, I don’t enjoy the scenery because in cases like this I’ve found it better just to keep looking down!

We arrived around 11:30, a little over three hours from when we departed. As we were driving in on nicely paved roads Jerrys’ comment was “great place to ride bikes”. More about that later. Registration was quick and we were told that we were scheduled for lunch and to meet with a representative on Friday at 2:30. Guess we’ll be having “lupper”!

Since we were free for the rest of the day we set up, had lunch and then decided on a bike ride. That was not one of my brightest ideas! Yes, there are paved roads but they are right in the center of the campground. Otherwise there are graveled, sandy roads – and deep sand at that. We rode two miles and I must say that is the hardest two miles I’ve ever ridden. It was hot and humid and in places the sand was so deep we had to get off and push the bikes through. Oh, it was about 1:00 in the afternoon too.

The campground itself seems to be very nice with a lot of amenities (not cable) but is in the middle of nowhere! I used the GPS to search for places to visit and there’s just nothing nearby. The closest Walmart is 14 miles away! The campground does have a nice pool and hot tub, a pretty lake for catch and release along with a pedal boat and some canoes on shore for use, horseshoes, volleyball, and some other outdoor activities. My favorite was the small putt-putt course.

We had a lazy afternoon which I guess we both needed after the previous busy days, weeks and months that we’ve had so it was sort of nice. Wouldn’t want too many of these days though! Perhaps tomorrow before the appointment we’ll have to take in the pool. It’s really too hot to do too much outside.

After dinner Jerry and I took a walk. We eventually ended up at the lake and just sat and chatted while we enjoyed the view. Since no one else was around it was so quiet and peaceful and restorative. It was a nice way to spend our 27th anniversary, nothing special, just the two of us appreciating the years we’ve had. On the way back to the motor home we played a game of putt-putt. I haven’t improved at all in the years since I last played but it was fun.

Needless to say it was an early night for us. Jerry turned the air condition down to 65 degrees and we slept snug as bugs in a rug!