Georgia, Home, Home Away From Home

We Have Our Motor Home Back!

June 24: Was I nervous, excited, awed? Not sure, but I woke up today before 6:00 a.m. thinking about what lie ahead. Our accident occurred December 28 and we haven’t even seen the motor home since January 3. In fact, we haven’t seen it since it was towed to NIRV in Lawrenceville, Ga. Why you wonder haven’t we been in to check on it? We live in eastern North Carolina so a “little” trip to Lawrenceville just wasn’t possible.

We left Pamlico Beach around 9:00 only stopping twice, once at a rest stop and once to fill up our gas while we were still in South Carolina where gas is considerably cheaper than North Carolina. We had prepared a picnic lunch – doesn’t that sound fancy – it was just a sandwich – so we ate as we traveled. We actually got to our hotel in Augusta around 3:00 and wondered why we hadn’t plan to drive on to Lawrenceville. Well, we probably would have arrived during the worst of traffic so it was probably a good decision.

We rested for a bit and then went to check out the very nearby Gander Mountain/Camping World where we actually bought some bear spray in preparation for our summer trip out west.

Jerry wanted something different for dinner and suggested Thai. We have only eaten Thai a couple of times but we liked it so I went on Yelp and found a restaurant fairly close, Sawasdee. Fortunately, there weren’t many people there when we arrived so the waitress could give us some extra attention and offer suggestions which we sorely needed. I’m not sure what either of us got but I do know both entrees were delicious – and hot, just like we like it. Needless to say we drank a lot of water and fortunately the waitress kept our glasses topped off!

June 25: Again Tuesday morning I was awake before 6:00. After a cup of coffee we stumbled downstairs for the complimentary breakfast, then showers, packing up and on the road to Lawrenceville shortly after 9:00. Were we excited much? Although we got a call saying they were running behind and we could delay our arrival we continued on to the dealership anyway. We were ready to see our RV!

Upon arrival we met with Mike, the paint and body manager, who was working with our coach. He took us to the coach and I can tell you it looked grand! The front is beautiful! We ended up spending three days, four nights at NIRV. They wanted us to stay several nights in case there were any hiccups with the coach and there were some small issues.

Mike got it parked for our overnights and then our work began. Our sheets and towels had been in the coach six months and a lot of that time it was parked outside so our first order of business was getting them washed. Since we didn’t have septic hookup I was hesitant to wash several loads so off to the laundromat we went. We know nothing about laundromats and that quickly became obvious. We saw the machines, a triple load (yes, we could have washed everything in one load had we known) and it had the number “14” on it. We incorrectly assumed that it meant 14 minutes which in retrospect would surely be a short wash cycle. The “14” stood for the 14 quarters needed and Jerry only had $5.00, 20 quarters and of course as usual I had none. Needless to say we didn’t wash much, just the towels and damped dry them. Lesson learned – always have some cash with you!

Afterward, we found a restaurant for dinner and then a grocery store for some coffee! The rest of the evening was spent washing sheets. We only got the bottom sheet washed and dried before we collapsed in the bed pretty tired but glad to be back in our coach.

June 26: They picked it up by 8:00 on Wednesday morning for some more work. After lunch they took our Jeep to install a new base plate for the tow system plus they worked on a few more hiccups. Jerry noticed that the refrigerator was pushed out further than it had been so they addressed that.

The biggest issue seemed to be that we needed two new front tires. What to do? Was it safe to drive home where we knew we could get the tires? Questions, decisions! We had been given the name of someone to call at University Tire. Unfortunately, that gentleman was out for the day and the person Jerry talked to gave him a price of $1800 and said they did not honor the FMCA Michelin program. Ouch. Thus began the process of seeing if we could find a dealer in the area that did honor the program or find someone at home. We did find someone in Lawrenceville with a considerably lower price but we found out on Thursday morning that he could not get the tires. Regroup – Order the tires at home and hope for the best?

At this point I looked at Jerry and said “we need to pray” so right there in the car we bowed our heads and prayed. I asked the Lord for wisdom and to work out our problem the best way possible. If it was ok to drive home on the tires we would but otherwise I prayed that the right door would open.

Jerry then tried once more to call Matt at University Tire. So glad he did. He was able to talk with Matt and found out that they do honor FMCA and they had the tires in stock at a considerably lower price. Answered prayer and yes we did immediately thank the Lord and give Him the honor and the praise!

Although there was a lot of waiting, our time spent at NIRV was not so bad. They were numerous couples in and out waiting for their coaches and we developed quite a camaraderie. Everyone discussed their various travels and we got some good tips for our upcoming trip out west. Kudos to NIRV, namely Todd, Mike, Amanda, Miles, Alex, Justin and Nikki who is the beleaguered receptionist and I’m sure hears many “interesting” stories but always with a smile on her face. I don’t think we have ever done business with a company where everyone was so genuinely pleasant. They always had a smile and the time to listen with an attentive ear. I’m quite sure some of our questions were rather mundane to them but they always answered as though it was the most important question of the day.

June 26: Although Jerry had wanted to get on the road really early I knew that wasn’t going to happen (it rarely does) so it was 8:45 before we were hooked up and on the road. As always we had prayer before pulling out asking for God’s protection for safe and accident-free travel.

Although traffic was heavy it moved along until we ran into construction ahead. On the left was a sign indicating that the left lane was closed. On the right was a sign indicating that the right lane was closed. Really? Were we supposed to fly over? Jerry changed to the left lane only to realize that we needed to be in the right lane so back we went. Needless to say it was a little nerve-wracking to immediately run into traffic issues but Jerry soldiered on with great aplomb.

It was a terribly long day filled with continued construction in numerous places, bumper to bumper traffic in places and then pouring rain in bumper to bumper traffic very reminiscent of conditions when we had our accident. Jerry did a fantastic job but I must admit I was a bad passenger. Lots of gasps, “oh mys” and “watch out”! It continues to amaze me when people suddenly pull in front of us as though we could stop on a dime. Really folks!

We finally arrived in Kinston 11 hours and 501 miles later, very tired and hungry with another hour and half or driving ahead of us to get to our river home. Driving that distance is something we rarely do and for good reason but thankfully we made it safely and the RV is ready for our planned summer trip.

Now to spend July 4th with precious family!

Georgia, Home, Home Away From Home

Finally!

After six months we have finally gotten the call. Our RV is ready (or will be Tuesday afternoon) to be picked up. Things moved very slowly initially but after a timely e-mail a few weeks ago it has been all systems on go. Murphy’s law has been in effect though. When the ordered windshield came in it was broken so they had to re-order. The wrong hood latch was sent so that had to be re-ordered. Despite these problems NIRV worked diligently to get our coach ready.

We also ran into problems getting the license tags renewed. They expired May 31 so we had to have it renewed before we picked it up. Can you imagine how nerve racking it would be to drive from Georgia to eastern North Carolina with expired tags? The problem we ran into was the safety inspection. To renew tags in NC the vehicle – car, motor home, truck, trailer, etc. – has to have a safety inspection done prior to the renewal (and taxes paid). Interestingly, safety inspections are not required in Georgia. Thus began the back and forth of e-mails and phone calls to NC DMV and NIRV. Finally, Miles at NIRV took the bull by the horns, cut out the middle man and got on the phone with DMV in NC He was eventually able to get an exemption for us. Obviously, our coach has been inspected from stem to stern and quite frankly has gotten a better inspection than normal. We were finally able to get the tags renewed yesterday. Now, if I can remember to put them in the car to take to Lawrenceville!

Plans are to leave Monday morning to drive to Augusta which is only 139 miles from Lawrenceville. After breakfast Tuesday we’ll drive on to NIRV and finally see our beautiful coach. Not only has it been repaired but it has also been thoroughly cleaned inside and out. I had assumed I would be spending a couple of days getting everything cleaned so I am so grateful for their in-depth cleaning. Two people spent eight hours cleaning the inside. Yeah, I know – it probably hasn’t been that clean since we bought it! All I will have to do is wash the linens and dishes, pots and pans, etc. Whew!

After the inside is cleaned they’ll do the outside and then park it inside so no chance or it getting dusty or rained on. Monday morning they will put the invisishield on the front and on Tuesday morning they will take it to a tire company to ensure the tires are in line. After that, it’ll be ready for us. We’re planning to spend two nights at NIRV to make sure everything is working OK. They have a week reserved for us but we just can’t stay that long due to the July 4th holiday looming.

Yes, we are excited but also a bit nervous. I still react whenever Jerry suddenly hits the brakes in the car so I know I’ll be very alert in the motor home. I’m sure Jerry is a bit nervous about driving too. It’s not like we’ll get to start out in a less traveled place. Lawrenceville is right outside Atlanta! Need I say more?

Plans are to return home by Friday, leave the coach there and then head to the river for a week. We’ll have a house full with lots of good time with three of the grands. Back to Kinston by the 7th and frantic packing, doctor appointments, haircuts and cooking to leave on July 10th. We’ll make it. We always do but as always it’ll be a rush.

Please keep us in your prayers as we travel first to Lawrenceville and back and then out west. First, stop Springfield, Illinois and then on to South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho before heading back to NC by Labor Day. Never fear NC State. We’ll be in Raleigh for the State-ECU game on August 31st!

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He is Risen!

What a wonderful Easter week we have had. In the last few years, we have either been traveling or not quite connected to a church at our river house. This year was different. After several years we have finally found a church where we found Scripture base teaching, a warm and welcoming congregation, hymn books (no widescreen projection), and a wonderful choir which I joined. We immediately felt that we were at home.

After attending the funeral of one of our best friends we left Kinston and headed to our home on the Pamlico River. Since we were running late Jerry just dropped me off at choir practice Wednesday evening. It felt so good to sing the praises of the Lord and be in an uplifting environment after a week of mourning our friend.

Thursday evening we attended the Maundy Thursday service, a brief service that highlighted Jesus’ last meal with his disciples. It surely brought to mind the solemnness of that fateful night.

Friday we were privileged to participate in a prayer vigil. Our time slot was 6:00 in the evening. What a special time it was, just Jerry and me in a quiet church spending time praying, reading and meditating with our Lord.

Saturday we headed for Clemmons for the birthday party of our 3-year-old granddaughter Olivia and to spend time with our son and his family. Although it was a great day it was exhausting. Three hours of driving from Kinston (we went home Friday night after the prayer vigil) to Clemmons, the party and then four and a half hours back to Pamlico Beach. Whew, we were tired but as my sister said, we were great grandparents! Would we be anything else? Why no!

In fact, we missed Sunrise service but we did get to an uplifting church service at 10:00. The choir did an outstanding job on the specials and the sermon was right on point. Joining in with everyone – it was a full church – to celebrate our Risen Savior topped off a glorious week of celebration of our Lord.

My sister so diligently tries to keep our traditions going even though our mom is gone so she had prepared a delicious Easter dinner. By the time we got back to Pamlico Beach we were tired but exhilarated by a week of Easter activities.

Now if we can just get our motor home back we will be on the road again.

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Update on Motor Home

Well, there is no update! I e-mailed the service manager on April 12 requesting an update and bless his heart, he responded. Over the years we have occasionally done business with another RV dealer (who shall remain nameless) who neglected to return our calls or e-mails ensuing a trip to the dealership and intercession from Newmar. Unfortunately, the dealership that has our coach is near Atlanta, a good 8-10 hours from us so a “drop-in” is not probable nor according to Jerry, possible!

Back to the e-mail, Ben told me that there were still waiting on some mechanical parts in order for them to put the front cap on. Once the parts are in and they are able to repair those parts they will be able to put the front cap on and proceed with the painting. In the meantime, they are repairing the rear cap and then getting it painted. Only when they receive all of the parts will they be able to go “full force”. We were told initially that it would take three weeks for the work to be done so I am foolishly hopeful that once the parts are all in, they will get started on that three-week window.

With spring in the air and the blogs and Instagram accounts I follow full of exciting accounts of trips, I’m a little sad that we are still stationary but what can you do? We still have A LOT of repairs to be done at our river house, thank you very much Hurricane Florence so we’ve been busy with that. In fact, I think Jerry is waiting for me right now for some work on the very lopsided patio due to the rushing waters from the river. Oh well, as they say, it’ll happen when it happens. Until then we’ll work on the river house and keep e-mailing the service manager for updates. Thanks for checking in!

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Planning an RV Trip – With No RV!

Here I sit in the cold March weather – yes, it’s cold for Eastern North Carolina – planning a Summer RV trip however we have no RV! How long does it take to get a damaged RV repaired? Well, our accident was December 28 and it’s now March 12 and repairs haven’t even started. We had plans to be in Perry, Ga this week for our third FMCA rally there but no RV so no go. We even have a tentative June trip to take two of the grands white water rafting in the NC mountains. Surely we will have the motor home back by then don’t you think?

Between repair estimates from the RV dealership, approval from the insurance company, parts estimates from several different manufacturers, windshield removal so they can see if there is further damage – well, you get the picture. Is it frustrating? Well, yeah. Spring is coming and we are getting hitch itch but alas, we have no hitch to hitch.

Our planned summer trip is out west visiting Custer State Park, Teddy Roosevelt National Park, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons. Ambitious? Yes. Lengthy? Yes. We normally travel without reservations so our schedule can be flexible but we have been strongly advised to make reservations for these hot (no pun intended) tourist attractions so that locks us into a somewhat rigid schedule. At least we won’t be riding down the highway with me frantically looking for an overnight stop. I have most of the trip mapped out and am only on the fourth draft. That’s pretty good for me as I have been known to make as many as thirteen drafts before I come up with the final one. It’s difficult to map out 50 days on the road but I have had help. I have used Road Trippers for some time and it is a great resource. This time though I added RV Trip Wizard. Between the two I have mapped out a route to take us to all of the places we hope to go. I have also gotten great advice from IRV2 and the many RV blogs I read.

Hopefully everything will come together and we’ll have a grand trip. I have some reservations to make this morning and if I am successful the trip will be completely planned. Now all we need is a motor home!

Georgia, Home, Home Away From Home, South Carolina

On to the Gator Bowl – Again!

We finally arrived in Jacksonville, Florida around 6:00 Saturday evening. We really looked like a couple of vagabonds checking in. There was no readily available cart so there I sat in the lobby surrounded by our “stuff” while Jerry parked the car and the staff looked for a cart. We must have looked pitiful! We got in the room and Jerry collapsed on the bed from fatigue, both physical and mental I’m sure. We were supposed to meet Becky and Billy for dinner but they were exhausted as well after a 4:00 am start to catch their flight down. We just decided to meet the next morning. Jerry was sound asleep and there was no restaurant in the hotel. I didn’t want to venture out alone to look for a restaurant so I spent the evening in the room. Although we had put some things from the refrigerator in a cooler we really had nothing to eat and I was hungry. Jerry loves pork skins – I don’t but desperate times call for desperate measures. I ate pork skins, a tangelo and even got two of my chewy vitamins all accompanied with a bottle of water. Living the high life!

On Sunday we picked up Becky and Billy and headed for Amelia Island for the day. It was a nice peaceful day something we really needed. Hyatt Place is on the St. John’s River and they have a nice patio out back. We ended the day there sitting by the fire pit having a glass of wine. Well, I did. Jerry had a Mountain Dew!

We spent Monday getting ready for the game, having a delicious lunch at Bistro Biscotti’s and then on to the stadium. Tailgating was fun as we visited with a lot of State fans. Our seats were great. The game – no so much. With the loss of two coaches who took jobs elsewhere and two seniors who were planning to go pro electing not to play we were at a disadvantage to begin with plus Texas A&M is good!

We left Jacksonville Tuesday, New Year’s Day and headed to Barnwell, SC where the RV was. Although our choice was limited I was able to make reservations at the Days End Wyndham. When I called I was quoted a price of $89. When I questioned that price due to information I found on the Internet he said $71 was the best he could do. Glad I asked. Ok, I’ll take it. Days Inn Wyndham – good reputation. Right?

Our first stop when we got to Barnwell was Palmetto Towing were the coach was. We could see it behind the locked fence but there was a sign saying beware of dog so we didn’t venture in. It looked kind of pitiful sitting there with its broken windshield and headlight hanging down.

We headed on to the hotel. When I went in the office to check in I was dismayed at the condition plus no one was in the small room. I looked at the breakfast area and knew we would not be eating breakfast there the next morning. After ringing the bell on the desk my check-in was handled by a guy that asked for my ID and charge card. That was about all he said, not very welcoming at all. Then Jerry and I went to the room. One look at it and we knew we would not be spending the night there. Jerry went back to the office to see if he could get a refund while I just stood in the smelly room afraid to sit on any of the stained furniture. Of course we couldn’t get a refund but we weren’t staying. I’m not sure I have ever been in a hotel room that bad and yes, I did put a review on both Trip Advisor and Yelp.

Then we had to decide where to go. Our options were Aiken, SC or Augusta, Ga. Since we knew the RV was going to be towed to National Indoor RV in Lawrenceville, Ga we elected to go to Augusta. I called and was able to get reservations at the Hyatt Place for nearly the same price as Days Inn Wyndham. There was a world of difference in the two!

When we checked in the ladies at the desk could not have been more pleasant and welcoming plus after taking a look at us they gave me two free coupons for a glass of wine! We settled in the room and then went out for a nice steak.

Wednesday we decided to go to Lawrenceville to NIRV. I had heard good things about them but wanted to see the dealership plus I think it’s always a good idea to put a face to a name. Lawrenceville was only a couple of hours away so off we went. We were able to meet with the service manager and show him pictures of our coach. He answered all of our questions and gave us an approximate time line of how things would go. Of course it all depended on when the coach arrived and Palmetto would not tow it until they received a check from our insurance company.

Thursday we got up and out early heading back to Barnwell. We had decided not to empty everything out of the RV and only get clothes and Jerry’s tools. We crammed everything in our Jeep all the way to the ceiling and headed back to North Carolina, 300 miles away. When we got back to Kinston we stopped by the grocery store only to realize as we were walking back to the car that there was nowhere to put anything extra. Fortunately we were not far from our home as I had to hold a 24 can case of Mountain Dew with a bag of groceries on my feet! That’s OK. We were safely home. Thank you Jesus!

Although the trip was filled with dismay, angst and fear we knew when we left home and all along the way that we were in the Lord’s hands. We had prayed for safe travel and He kept us safe. We know it could have been so much worse but we are OK. Material things are just things that can be replaced. Sure, we wish the accident had not happened but we are thankful for God’s mercy, grace and protection all along the way. To Him we give the honor and the glory.

Home, North Carolina, South Carolina

On to the Gator Bowl

After hours of researching and discussion we finally decided that our January trip this year would entail seeing parts of Texas we had missed previously plus a lot of New Mexico. We had planned to leave around January 3 but then NC State got a bid to play in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. We decided we could just leave earlier and go to the Gator Bowl and then take off for the travels. Meeting my cousin, Becky and her husband Billy just added fuel to that idea so it was planned. We were leaving December 28 for approximately six weeks on the road. Needless to say I had to take every piece of clothing I owned. After all, we would be dressing for warm Florida weather and cold New Mexico weather.

Leaving three days after Christmas presented some obstacles but strangely enough we seemed to get everything done in a timely manner. All of the children and grandchildren were at our house Christmas evening for dinner and gift exchange. At the end of the evening after we finally got everything cleaned up and put away we fell into bed exhausted not sure if we’d be able to get any trip preparations done.

Wednesday morning as soon as the kids left we went out to the warehouse to get the motor home. Oh what a sweet sound when it started and we did not hear the click, click, click of a dead battery. A battery disconnect is a real deal! Getting it out of the warehouse would have been a real challenge for me as it was behind a big RV and sandwiched in between the wall and a boat but Jerry assured me there was enough room. Although I was in front of him giving him left, right, straight directions he didn’t need them as he easily navigated it right though the narrow space.

The rest of Wednesday was spent taking down the easiest of the Christmas decorations and visiting with the children. Thursday though we hit the floor running. The biggest challenge was getting the Christmas tree down and ornaments put away. Keeping in mind that our house is on the market and could be shown while we are gone we had to leave everything in show ready condition. Amazingly we did it! It wasn’t perfect but it would pass. Christmas decorations down, floors vacuumed, dusting done and bathrooms cleaned – enough!

Jerry wanted to leave between 8:00 and 9:00 and we walked out of the door to the coach at 8:50 however by the time we got the steps in (yeah, they were a little problematic this morning) and had gone through the check off list and shared a brief payer time it was 9:05 when we pulled out of the driveway. The morning ride was filled with heavy rains and wind until just before we hit South Carolina. As usual we stopped in Latta, SC at the Flying J for gas and also pulled into a parking place and had lunch.

We were making good time, Jerry felt good so we decided to wait to try to locate somewhere to spend the night and then … we ran into a traffic jam. A lot of the time we were going (if we were going at all) 15 mph and then occasionally we would speed up to 25! As we slowly ambled down the highway we noticed a big RV towing a car on a car dolly all the way off of the road nearly into the center guardrail. No idea what happened though and we didn’t see anyone. Apparently there are a lot of snow birders heading South pus I’m sure there is a lot of holiday traffic making it a slow ride down I 95. Also saw a big semi jackknifed on the side of the road. Maybe that should have told us to stop!

To Be Continued…

Home, North Carolina

Goodbye Florence

In the fall of 2016 I planned a short trip through Virginia ending up touring around Pennsylvania – then came Hurricane Matthew. Obviously our trip was canceled. In fact when I called to cancel our reservations all I had to say was “I’m from Eastern North Carolina” and the reservation was canceled with no problem. This year we were scheduled to attend a wedding in Norfolk, VA on the week-end of September 28. Since we had some free time we decided to again try for Pennsylvania. When I plan a trip I make a draft of our route, places to stay and things to do. Needless to say as I work on the trip I update the draft. I was on Draft Nine when we started hearing about Hurricane Florence coming in as a Category 4 on the North Carolina coast. As the storm very slowly wound its way toward our coast we knew we would be home for the duration so no trip to Pennsylvania.

We went down to our home on the Pamlico River and secured things as best we could and prayed we had done enough. When we arrived back in Kinston we put the RV along with my Jeep in the storage warehouse to protect them from wind and potentially rising water. Our thoughts at that time were to plan on living in the RV in our driveway if we lost power. Then we began to prepare for the storm itself. We bought groceries and eventually were able to find a case of the very hard to locate water. By Wednesday, September 12th we were as ready as we could be. We stayed glued to the television as we watched the track wax and wane toward us. Each night as we went to bed we had no idea where the storm would be the next morning. Needless to say there were some sleepless nights as we heard the wind roar around our home. Fortunately we never lost power so we had AC and access to television and Internet. Although I am not a Facebook fan due to all of the vitriolic political postings I frequently checked in there. There were constant updates from our county Emergency Center plus many people posted their conditions. The rain came down in torrents and we began to wonder if it would ever stop. In total I think Kinston got nearly 20 inches during those few days however many communities got a great deal more, some a historic three feet plus. To say that Eastern North Carolina has been devastated is a huge understatement. The city where I used to work, New Bern only about 35 miles from here, looks like a war zone. It is heartbreaking to see that so many have lost everything they own. When we need work done on our RV we take it to Wilmington, about an hour and a half from us. That city too is beyond description and a week later they are still without power. Schools have been out all week and some counties are just posting that schools are closed until further notice.

On Saturday, the rains seemed to lessen a bit and since the storm took the southern route Jerry decided that we could go check on our river house. We had been in contact with our neighbor who bravely stayed and they kept us up to date with damage reports. I still was unprepared for what we found. We were missing several steps going up the back way leaving us to carefully move from one to another hoping that it was secure. The entire steps to Jerry’s workshop were gone and the small porch was hanging by a thread. It was still surrounded by water so it was inaccessible. Our little dock was gone however there was a dock in our yard, not ours though. The bulkhead was breached and along with the water were many rocks from it. Our beautiful patio that Jerry worked so hard on was damaged but nothing was missing. It will be a lot of hard work to repair it but it can be done. We had some leaks in the river room (sun porch) but other than that we couldn’t see any more damage. I was afraid we’d see more when we returned later. Many of the residents were out and about tromping through the standing water and waves accessing the damage. We only stayed about an hour as we were afraid we would run into rising water on the way back to Kinston and we did! There are only two ways to access Pamlico Beach, the main highway and then a little shortcut behind the main road. When we got back to the turn off the main highway was blocked. We didn’t know if it was due to a damaged bridge or high water but we had only one other way out, the back road. It was covered in standing water so we slowly and cautiously made our way through. We made it back home and other than a trip to church on Sunday we stayed close to home. The rains continued intermittently through Tuesday and then we saw the sun shine. What a beautiful sight among all of the devastation.

To the many volunteers who have come to Eastern North Carolina we cannot say thank you enough. Linesmen have come from Louisiana, Tennessee, New York and several other states. To the Red Cross, simply put thank you. Shelters are opened and distribution centers as well. We went to Sam’s yesterday and stocked up on towels and canned foods to drop off there.

Eastern North Carolina has been hit hard and there is much damage and more to come as the waters continue to rise. Flooding will become an even bigger problem but ENC is resilient and the damage is not insurmountable. We will pull together and we will survive. Oh, on a lighter note, my friends have asked me not to plan another fall trip to Pennsylvania. We don’t do well with the “F” words – Fran, Floyd, and now Florence, etc.!

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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.

Home

Lessons Learned on Our Southwest Trip

1. 3,000 miles is a long way from home.

2. Going 3,000 miles with touring stops along the way is nice. Coming straight home, not so much.

3. Six weeks is a long time to be away from home.

4. There is quite a difference in air when you live at 43’ above sea level and your destination is at 8,000’.

5. Be sure to put the cap on your makeup securely if you don’t want it to run out all over everything when going up in altitude.

6. When going up in altitude be careful when opening the mustard, catsup, etc., anything with pressure unless you want to be sprayed with it.

7. Release air in the sleep number mattress as you change altitudes.

8. Remember to check the bicycle tires too!

9. Hiking at a high altitude is quite a bit different than hiking at home. Breathe!

10. Remember to make sure the bicycles are securely affixed to the bike rack especially after we have gone over awful roads.

11. Check water lines, fuses, etc., anything that may need to be tightened after going over horrible highways.

12. Don’t overload your fuses.

13. We can dry camp for three days and nights.

14. We don’t need to try to save propane by using space heaters and letting everything underneath freeze up.

15. We have three hydraulic slides and one electric slide.

16. We can put a slide in manually.

17. Everything that is on a receptacle goes through the house battery.

18. You shouldn’t buy a cheap bike cover from Walmart. It won’t even last 100 miles!

19. Communicating with family is difficult when you are in different time zones.

20. National parks are so much fun!

21. We love state parks.

22. We love hiking but 7 miles is our limit.

23. I now know what a face plant is.

24. We like hikes that start with the ascent and then end by going down. Makes it a lot easier!

25. Sunset happens quickly. Have the camera ready.

26. Believe the campground reviews. Read in between the lines.

27. Love the Southwest.

28. Can now identify a saguaro and a cholla and can even pronounce them correctly.

29. The best part of any trip is always coming home.

30. There’s no place like home.