Home Away From Home, North Carolina

A Night at a Winery

Up and about this morning as we had about 200 miles to go and an errand once we arrived at our destination for the evening. Fortunately the only difficulty was locating a gas station we could maneuver around and that was easily accomplished. We arrived at our Harvest Host site around 1:00 in the afternoon. I went in and spoke with the host who gave us two ideas as to where to park. We elected to park next to the vineyard right there at the winery. After lunch we went in and I had a wine tasting. As my friends tell me I am a wine neophyte meaning I don’t know anything about wine and I only like a couple of the semi-sweet ones, a moscato or ruscato so tasting the chardonnay was interesting! I actually bought two bottles as gifts for friends.

We ran our errand which took us into Greensboro and we spent most of the afternoon there. When we returned to the winery about 6:00 everyone was gone and it was mighty quiet. I mean we were in the country! Although we had the AC on we had not pulled the shades when we left and the setting sun had shone brightly into the RV heating it up quite a bit so it took a while for it to cool down. Lesson learned! Don’t forget the shades when it is 90 degrees plus outside and the RV is parked facing the western sunset.

We warmed up leftovers for dinner and then settled in for the evening. I glanced out of the window at one point and realized that it was mighty dark outside, not a light to be seen, we were alone in the country and it was a bit spooky. It got even spookier in the night when I was awakened not once but twice when we had a severe thunder storm. When the second storm hit I thought someone was beating on the door so I woke Jerry up. It was only thunder and pouring rain and all was fine. Scaredy Cat that I am.

Although the owner had told us that they would be out early picking grapes we never heard them. I assumed that the heavy rain prevented them picking that day. We headed out early to Raleigh and the NC State Fairgrounds where we spent the week-end. Saturday was my birthday and Jerry told me he was having a party for me with 55,000 of my closet friends – we were going to the NC State vs James Madison football game! NC State won. It was not pretty but it is a “W” in the record books!

When we got up Sunday we got the linens and towels washed and ready for our next trip leaving on September 12th. A quick ride home, parked the coach and off to the river we went. Guess one can see why it is difficult to answer the question of where we live.

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Home Away From Home, North Carolina

Check One off the Bucket List -White Water Rafting

Our 6 year old grandson, Eli is just too funny sometimes. He spent several days with us a couple of weeks ago and on the way home from church we were discussing how funny he was. Jerry said that when he grew up he should become a comedian. Eli’s response was “you can be paid for being funny?” When I replied yes he emphatically said “Well Missy, get a hustle on”! He usually calls me G or GiGi but never have I been referred to as Missy. Of course Eli got the response he wanted as both Jerry and I burst out laughing.

Well, yesterday I gave Jerry the website for the Nantahala Outdoor Recreation site to see if he was interested in white water rafting. Considering the expense I had no idea what he would say. He burst in the room with a “Missy, get a hustle on and let’s go” so I began planning the day. Since neither of us had ever been white water rafting we decided on the 3 hour ride which had beginner status. The times were 9:00, 10:00, and 1:00. I was leaning towards 1:00 as I thought it might be warmer then but Jerry suggested 10:00 so that’s what we decided on.

Wednesday morning was covered in fog and the weather forecast called for rain around 2:00. We were supposed to be at NOC by 9:30 and since we didn’t know exactly how long it would take us to get there we left a little after 8:00. That was a good decision because before we could get too far out of Maggie Valley we ran into a road block. Trees and power lines were down and they had no idea how long it would be before traffic was allowed. The poor man delivering the message said he had already been cussed out twice before we got there. We asked for directions, thanked him and began an alternate route to NOC. We ended up on the Blue Ridge Parkway which continued to be foggy except when the blinding sun shone through on the highway. Needless to say it was full of ups and downs and winding roads. I’m quite sure it is a beautiful drive when the weather is good and there are no worries about being late for an appointment. If we were late, we forfeited the $100 we paid so we continued on. We actually arrived almost exactly at 9:30, right on time.

After we checked in and signed the appropriate waivers we walked around a bit. I had been told to be sure we were with good strong adults. There were two children in the group accompanied by their GiGi and Papa. Guess who we were paired with? Yep, you got it. No strength there.

After getting fitted with PFD, personal flotation devices or more commonly known to us as life preservers we watched an introductory film on riding the rapids. Although it was unlikely to happen we were instructed on what to do should we fall out of the raft. Head up, toes up and hopefully get back in the raft. Do not stand up as the bottom is full of rocks that could do a lot of damage.

The river depth is controlled by a dam and stays a pretty consistent 55 degrees. In other words, pretty chilly! We were instructed on how to place our feet to best secure us in the raft. My feet were in cold water although as the ride progressed I’m not sure if they acclimated to the cold water or if they were just numb but the water didn’t bother me. Poor Jerry stuck his foot in the instructed area. The GiGi in front of him elected not to it on the side of the raft but right on top of Jerry’s foot. He couldn’t move it, couldn’t get it out so there was never any danger of him falling out of the raft!

It was an uneventful ride in that no one fell over. We did get stuck on a rock a couple of times and our guide, Orion had to get out and manually push us off. Both of the kids jumped in for a very brief swim. It was a fun ride, not quite as challenging as I had thought though. Jerry and I both decided that we’d like to go again but would like a more adventuresome ride the next time.

We’re looking a little rough here!No pride!
After the ride we went to a nearby restaurant River’s End and had burgers. I had a hot cup of coffee too! Jerry said his burger was delicious, mine not so much but the view was beautiful and the service was great. Afterward we wandered around the gift shop and wonders never cease – I didn’t buy a magnet or t-shirt!

With the detour no longer in force we had a shorter ride back to the RV park and I headed right toward a warm shower. Ah, it felt so good. I was still a bit chilled though so I went outside and just sat in the warm sun until I thawed out completely. It took my poor feet a while!

We had earlier decided that we would return to Maggie’s Seafood Restaurant where we had eaten last year. I wanted some rainbow trout which is what I had gotten last year. Jerry had gotten gator bites last year but this year decided to join me in getting the trout. We had calamari for an appetizer and then the trout, mine broiled, his fried. Although mine was good Jerry didn’t enjoy his as much so guess we won’t be returning to Maggie’s next time we are in the area.

Back to the coach and a little preparation for leaving in the morning. Hoping to be on the road by 9:00 as we’ve got a little over 200 miles to go and an errand to run once we get settled.

Home Away From Home, North Carolina

Enjoying Mt. Mitchell

Tuesday was a trip to Mt. Mitchell. Bless our GPS’s heart it took us right through the heart of Asheville and then a very windy road until we finally arrived at Mt. Mitchell State Park, the first state park in North Carolina and the highest point east of the Mississippi. We rode up to the top and then hiked up to the observation deck where the elevation was 6684 feet. Despite the cloudy day the view was beautiful.

The Observation Deck
Halfway back down from the observation deck we took a detour and navigated the Balsam Trail. What a fragrant hike surrounded by Frazer Firs and Red Spruce plus other beautiful foliage. It truly smelled like Christmas!

Because of the extreme weather at the top of Mt. Mitchell very few trees can survive in the park. Some of the survivors are yellow birch, mountain ash, fire cherry and red-berried elder. Interestingly enough though the cool, moist conditions make it an ideal place for numerous wildflowers including White Snakeroot, Mountain St. Johnswort and Wood Sorrel to mention just a few. As we walked along we saw many examples of these wildflowers.

Although the area is supposed to be a mecca for mushrooms we saw only one, well we only identified one, the red gill webcap. After completing the fragrant hike we enjoyed our picnic lunch gazing out over the lovely mountains.

Our next stop was the Zeb Vance Birthplace. We toured the small museum where we learned that Vance was a charismatic, plain speaking man. Before political debates were televised candidates would spend months traveling from town to town to campaign on the leading issues of the election. Because the candidate often had to stand on a tree stump so the crowd could see and hear him their speeches were called “stump speeches”. With his plain manner of speaking and sharp wit, Vance was a celebrated stump speaker. After touring the museum and learning more about Zeb Vance who served two terms as governor although not consecutive, we wandered around the grounds where we saw several building including the main house which actually had an upstairs.

Returning to the campground we rested a bit, had dinner and then walked around the park for a while. It is a lovely park with what appeared to be travelers (like us) and some seasonal visitors. Over the week we met several people from Florida who come up to spend the month of August in the mountains. Guess it is cooler than Florida but the temperature increased each day we were there. It got a little hot!

Home Away From Home, National Park, North Carolina

The Elk in Cataloochee Valley

Resting, relaxing, driving (riding), touring, hiking, a little bit of everything during our visit to the NC mountains. Since we couldn’t check into Pride RV Resort until noon we packed up and then walked over and said goodbye to our new friends, Elaine and Paul. We arrived in Waynesville at Pride RV just before 12:00, checked in and quickly set up on site F13, just one row back from the stream but with no one in front of us we had a good view.

After lunch we rode into Maggie Valley and went in a couple of shops. We stocked up on our once a year purchase of sweet onion relish and headed back to the rv park. On the way we stopped at one of Jerry’s favorite places, the local lumber company where he had previously bought some end cuts to work on at home. He brought ten end cuts of cherry, oak, and maple. He will surely be ready for time in his workshop when we get home. Back to the park where we spent a relaxing afternoon.

Monday evening we rode to Cataloochee Valley located in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park where we were hoping to see some elk. We had been a couple of years ago and after spending at least an hour there we saw one lone elk – at a distance so we weren’t too hopeful this time. The road to the valley is up and down, paved, graveled or dirt, and curvy, winding and narrow. As we ascended we met a number of cars coming down so we were afraid we had missed the elk. Boy where we wrong. As soon as we entered the park we began to see elk. As we continued on we were suddenly stopped by elk standing in the road or crossing by. They were close enough that I could have touched them! It reminded me of posts about Yellowstone where traffic is stopped for bison. Traffic was stopped here for elk and there were many novice photographers around including us. Unfortunately Jerry had not brought his good camera so all of our pictures were with the iPhone but they still turned out pretty good. We probably saw about 20 elk plus two bulls and we even heard their cries. They seemed to take all of the people in stride and unfortunately did not appear afraid of all. The elk were repopulated there several years ago and the population has increased a great deal. The best time to see the elk is at dusk and the best time to go back down the mountain is before dark so we obviously didn’t stay a long time, but long enough to really enjoy the beautiful animals.

Home Away From Home, North Carolina

Fun With Our FMCA Chapter

After finally getting a good night’s sleep I was up pretty early and when I peeped out of the window it was so foggy I couldn’t tell what the weather would be like. The fog stayed with us for a while but finally lifted and it turned into a beautiful day. We just hung around the coach most of the morning. I sat outside and read for a while just enjoying the beautiful weather. A main facet of being in the Carolina Guroos is meeting and getting to know new friends. Generally when Jerry and I travel we are up and out every day touring the countryside but when we are at a rally we relax and do a lot of visiting. That was the agenda for the day until 5:00 when the rally officially began.

We all met at the club house for a business meeting and dinner, then played games for a while. After a return to the coach we sat outside for a while and then turned in early since it was getting a little cool outside.

Another slow start to the day on Friday but we all met at 11:15 for a trip to the Dillard House in Dillard, Georgia for a delicious luncheon. The delicious food is served family style and included fried chicken, fried zucchini, mac and cheese, butter beans, cabbage au gratin, green beans, cheese biscuits, corn bread, fried catfish, country style steak, country ham and so much more plus it was topped off with a strawberry cobbler with ice cream. Perhaps not our usual fare and with all of the fried foods not the healthiest meal I’ve ever eaten but oh boy, was it good. I knew I wouldn’t be eating dinner that night.

After some running around to the grocery store, etc. we returned to the campground. I had volunteered to be on the planning committee for scheduling the rallys for 2019 and we met in the afternoon to offer up ideas. Afterward everyone gathered for a wine tasting and a good time was had by all! It was a fun day of fellowship and getting to know some of the other Guroos better.

In the evening we had an ice cream party (like we needed more food) and games and then Jerry and I made an early evening of it. It had been a full and busy but fun day and we were tired!

Saturday dawned early for us as we had a three hour drive to Clemmons to celebrate our oldest granddaughter’s birthday. Never let it be said that we are not great grandparents! The party was fun and getting to visit with three of our grands made the trip totally worth it. We got back to Franklin around 7:00, ate some left overs and then what did we do? We visited, of course!

As is usual the Guroos met on Sunday morning for biscuits and coffee and a devotion then most everyone left for either home or other destinations. We had decided to stay another evening as I figured we would need some recuperation after six hours in the car on Saturday. I was right! Other than a trip to the grocery store along with new friends Paul and Elaine we had a quiet day. I went to the pool for a little while and boy was the water frigid. Our river water is warmer! I walked over to Elaine and Paul’s in the early evening for a brief visit and then back to the RV and bed!

It was a great rally. We got to see old friends and meet new friends. Excited about the next rally in October in Myrtle Beach. I strongly encourage all RVer’s to join FMCA. The cost is minimal and the benefits are outstanding. In addition, joining a local chapter is just icing on the cake.

Home Away From Home, North Carolina

On to the Rally

We wanted to get on the road early so we were up and about by 7:00. Jerry had gotten up around 4:30 and turned the hot water heater on so we both had hot showers. We then met our host Tim and got some of his home grown vegetables – fresh peaches and cream corn, tomatoes and pickling cucumbers. Can’t wait!

We were on the road by a bit after 8:00 and only stopped once for gas. We prefer Flying J because it is easy to get in and out of but alas, no Flying J’s ahead so we pulled into the exit for a Love’s and then saw a Marathon that was more accessible. Same price and easy in and out. As he was getting gas Jerry again checked the braking system. He had replaced the cable before we left this morning and thankfully all was working well. It’s nice to know that while we are traversing the mountains the brake assist is working!

We arrived at Great Outdoors RV Resort in Franklin before noon, before check in time but they checked and our site was ready so we were able to check in. As luck would have it we were again parked next to our friends, Larry and Debra. As soon as we got in they walked over and Debra invited me to join her and some of the girls for an afternoon at Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee so off we went leaving Jerry and Larry on their own.

Well, what I know about casinos can be written on my little fingernail so to say it was interesting is a pretty big understatement. I’m sure I looked like a deer in headlights most of the time. I got my card which allowed me to play the slots (and I guess anything else but I surely didn’t know how to do anything else, didn’t even know how to play the slot machine) and another Guroo showed Debra and me what to do. For about two hours we played the slots, walked around – at one point I looked at Debra and remarked “we’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy”, and had some lunch. Between the two of us we lost nearly $35 since our total winnings together was $.24! We gave that to a lady sitting next to Debra and as we walked away she exclaimed that we had changed her luck!

We returned to the RV park and sat around outside and visited until we finally decided to go out to dinner. The choice was a Thai restaurant, Thai Paradise. Again, Jerry perused the menu at length as neither of us were sure of what to order. Once we decided on the dish we then had to decide how hot we wanted it. Both of us like hot, spicy foods so we elected to go pretty hot. Oh my! Without a doubt it was the hottest dish I have ever tasted but it was delicious. I even had enough left over for lunch the next day.

The nighttime temperatures have been a much enjoyed contrast to the hot and humid days at home. When we returned to the coach we turned the AC off and enjoyed a good night’s rest.

Home Away From Home, North Carolina

On the Road Again – Finally!

After a summer of staying home we decided to join our FMCA Carolina Guroos for a week-end in Franklin, NC and there was a lot to do to get ready.

In preparation for the trip we finally got around to getting the RV out of storage. I was pleasantly surprised at how clean it was both on the inside and the outside. Of course there were a few cobwebs on the tires but other than that it was a lot cleaner than usual. Guess moving it to an enclosed storage was a good idea.

Of course when we got there the chassis battery was dead so we had to jump it. No problem. Jerry got it started and said he was going to ride around a bit to charge the battery so I left him at the storage building. I drove on out to the highway but decided to wait for him. Glad I did. When he didn’t come in a timely manner I returned only to find out that the steps were out and would not go in. $600 later and four new house batteries and we finally brought the rig home, backed in, plugged it in, turned on the air conditioner and left it for the week-end.

We returned home Sunday evening and began the task of loading things. Actually we just transferred from the car to the RV. A trip to the grocery store for spaghetti fixings and we were in for the night.

Monday was a fairly busy day as we had to get both cars inspected so we could renew the licenses that will expire while we are gone. Oops! We also had to get the oil changed in the jeep getting it ready for the trip. We completed putting everything in and then headed to Trent’s to keep their children for the evening. Although we didn’t get home until nearly 9:30 (with no dinner – oh well, we had time with the grands) there were still things to be done. Since we have the house on the market we always try to keep it neat and clean so that meant vacuuming at 10:00 at night!

Tuesday morning dawned bright and early for me as I received a text before 6:00 but honestly, I was already awake (going to be a long day). It was from the gentleman who owns the Harvest Hosts farm where we were planning to spend the night before going on to Franklin. He was verifying our arrival. I had a hair appointment at 8:00 and we were hoping to be on the road by noon.

When I got home from the beauty salon Jerry had already hooked the car up and within 30 minutes we were ready to leave 30 minutes ahead of schedule (highly unusual). After going through the check list and having a moment of prayer we headed out for what we hoped was an uneventful trip.

Oh well — that didn’t exactly happen. We were only about 45 minutes from home when we suddenly heard a loud sound as though the roof was coming off. Jerry immediately pulled over and inspected everything but didn’t find a problem. Next he inspected the car and that seemed to be the problem. He realized that the braking assist was for some reason applying the brakes. After stopping and starting, disconnecting, reconnecting, and ending up at a Walmart parking lot he finally decided that one of the cords was bad. He disconnected that and all seemed fine. We were running behind schedule but were hopeful we would be able to make our Harvest Hosts appointment for the evening.

We stopped briefly in Clemmons to drop off our oldest grandson who had spent a few days with us and after a very brief visit with his mom and sister in the Harris Teeter parking lot we were on our way again. Thankfully we arrived at our Harvest Host site around 5:30. Although the parking place appeared to be on an incline we put the jacks down and leveled quickly. Our host Tim, an American Airlines pilot and owner of the farm, was very personable and suggested we all go all to eat Mexican. Jerry and I rarely eat Mexican and quite frankly have no idea what to order! I ended up with a chicken based dish and he had a spicy shrimp dish. Both were very good.

We returned to the motor home and got ready for bed. We were hoping it was cool enough to avoid using the generator but sometime after I went to sleep Jerry gave up. He said it was 95 in the coach. It wasn’t but it was a bit warm. We don’t like to use the generator all night but felt it was necessary. Even so I don’t think either of us got a good night’s sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night to pouring down rain. I must say though it is very soothing to hear rain on a metal roof, even pouring rain.

The next morning we bought some fresh vegetables from Tim – corn, tomatoes and cucumbers – and were off for Franklin a little after 8:00. I can’t believe how prompt we’ve been so far, again highly unusual!

Home

We Took the Summer Off

It seems as though it has been so very long since we have RVed and it truly has. We returned from Perry with plans to go on a July trip as we have done for the past 15 years but life happens and our plans changed. Really our hearts changed. On March 26 Mom fell and hit her head quite hard. We spent an evening in the emergency department where they assured us that she was fine. The next morning, Tuesday she got up, went to breakfast and seemed to be fine but as the week progressed she seemed to be declining.

On Friday we took her to have her hearing checked. Although she had no trouble with the hearing assessment she did have trouble maneuvering as she was getting weaker. On Sunday we got a call from the nurses saying that Mom was complaining of intense pain in her face. Mom was definitely not a complainer so we guessed something was wrong. On Monday we saw her doctor and he told us that he thought possibly it was a sinus infection. Otherwise he could see nothing wrong.

Tuesday night I got a call from the nurses saying that Mom had developed a rash on her face and they were afraid it was shingles so off to the ED we went again. An hour’s drive to the hospital to meet Mom seemed to last forever especially since I was driving. Although he was really sick Jerry insisted on going with me but he wanted me to drive. For him to want me to drive at night on the back roads should tell you how bad he felt! He spent the night in the car in the ED parking lot and Mom and I spent the night in the ED. She got along OK until about 3:00 am and then understandably began to fade. Around 7:00 they came in and told us that Mom had pink eye. Really! We’ve been the ED all night for pink eye! We took a very exhausted Mom by to her assisted home facility and then head home ourselves.

We had barely gotten home and settled in when we got another call saying that Mom did not have pink eye but had shingles and they were afraid they were going to her eye. They had made her an appointment with an ophthalmologist and we had to be there by 1:00. On the road again. When my poor Mom got to the doctor’s office she was so very exhausted that she hardly knew where she was. Fortunately the shingles did not appear to be in her eye but she was given medication to hopefully stave it off.

Back to Cypress Glen and Mom to her bed. I spent Friday with Mom and she seemed to be OK despite her fatigue. Early Saturday morning we had a call saying that Mom was very confused and they couldn’t take care of her and were requesting that we get there. My sister lives closer so she was there as quickly as possible. It was a bad day finally culminating in Mom’s third visit to the ED. After being on the Observation Unit for two nights and two days they finally admitted her to the hospital. The next eight days were difficult to say the least as Mom waxed and waned frequently. She slept a lot and ate very little. Either my sister or I were there every day stretching into the evening watching Mom sleep a lot.

We knew the end was in sight so my sister and I began looking at the alternatives. Calling in Hospice was one of the most difficult decisions we made but also one of the wisest. On Tuesday, April 17 Mom returned to her home at Cypress Glen. She was surrounded by familiar faces and a lot of love as she continued to decline. On Friday morning we got the call that we should come to Cypress Glen as they were noticing some changes so my sister and I both were there as soon as possible. God so blessed us during those last days as we laid on her small bed, a daughter on each side of her singing old hymns in harmony. We literally spent hours laying with her. As we did the caretakers often came in and shared with us how Mom had brightened their days, how she had prayed with them, how she had encouraged them and how she loved them. Mom had often said that she didn’t understand why the Lord was keeping her on earth and I always told her that he had a reason, that she was touching someone and making a difference. Her response was that she surely didn’t know what it was. I replied that that was the beauty of it – Mom’s humbleness was precious. Although Helen Jo and I knew that the staff cared for Mom and that Mom cared deeply for them we didn’t know the depth of those feelings. We didn’t know how Mom had blessed so many people. God surely blessed us with that last week when we were able to learn more about our precious Mama.

God took her home Monday night, April 23. We were all there as she slipped into heaven. As heavy as our hearts were we couldn’t have wished more life for her. We knew she was quickly in the arms of Jesus getting to see our precious brother who we lost when he was 18 and her mother as well. Mom was only nine when her mother died. Can you imagine the reunion? Oh Sweet Jesus.

Has it been difficult without Mom? Yes and no. No, because we know she is with Jesus but yes because we miss her. Why haven’t we traveled this spring and summer? It’s hard to explain but I just felt the need to be at home. I know it seems backwards as I was more comfortable traveling when Mom was living and then reluctant to afterward. I guess I just need familiarity and needed to gather my family and friends. My sister and I are in very close contact. When we can’t get together we are constantly on the phone for looooong conversations! Although we were already close the loss of Mom has forged an even deeper relationship.

God blessed us with a precious mother for 92 years. After she fell 2 ½ years ago her life changed and her world became very small. Her memory began to fail but praise God she never had a problem knowing us. Thank you Jesus that you gave me to her. What a blessing.