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 Away From Home, South Carolina

A Smashing Halt

Our six week long trip to Texas and New Mexico via Florida came to a smashing halt just hours after we left home. The weather was bad, pouring rain through North Carolina and then heavy traffic the moment we got into South Carolina. In fact we were often stopped on I95 and then would slowly inch forward. If we let the car/truck in front of us get too far away someone would quickly pull in front of us. We didn’t follow too closely but had to be vigilant at all times. All in all it was slow going but it was the week between Christmas and New Year’s so it was to be somewhat expected however we had a trucker who routinely travels 95 tell us that he had never seen traffic so heavy and it was heavy both ways.

Around 3:30 we were behind a propane tanker who was behind a big truck hauling some sort of mobile home – I never saw that truck. Suddenly the big truck stopped, the propane tanker stopped and we tried to stop but as the highway patrolman said it was unavoidable. It would appear that our braking assist did not work properly thus a 4,000 pound car plowed into the back of the coach as we were trying to stop forcing us forward. Fortunately we were only going 15 mph when we crashed into the back of the tanker. Also, fortunately the tanker had just been cleaned out and it only had compressed air in it and no propane. The big truck that essentially caused the accident went on down the road but there we were, the propane tanker and us stopped in the right lane of a busy I95 around 3:30 in the afternoon near Yemassee, SC.

Immediately Jerry and I began questioning each other “are you alright?” I would love to know how many times we said that to each other but thankfully the answer was yes. We were shaken to say the least but no apparent injuries to us or the driver of the tanker.

We all got out of the vehicles and the tanker driver immediately put out hazard signs to divert traffic. I called 911 and of course they wanted to know where we were. Other than I95 I couldn’t tell them anything. There was an exit a couple of miles down the road but I couldn’t read it at that distance. Then the operator told me that I had been connected to the wrong county and switched me over to someone else. It was a frustrating experience as I was expecting more immediate attention. Glad we weren’t injured! We waited over 30 minutes for the local police to arrive. Two policemen eventually arrived and assessed the situation – I guess. One of them never spoke and never made eye contact. I guess we looked OK because we were never asked. No warm fuzzies there!

As we waited for the highway patrolman we tried to assess the damage. The front had significant damage especially on the right side. Jerry had tried to pull into the left lane before we hit but had nowhere to go thus the damage to the right side. The jeep that we tow four down was right up against the back of the RV and the front wheels were off of the ground. The blue ox tow bar was hanging.

After an hour of so the highway patrolman finally showed up. Naturally he wanted us to pull off of the road. We didn’t even know if the coach would start but it did. We pulled off of the road onto the right side and then the patrolman told us to drive on to the exit to get off the highway and let traffic start flowing again. He fell in behind us and with lights flashing we continued on to a Love’s Travel Station. Although we only went a couple of miles it was a bit frightening as slivers of glass continued to fall on the dashboard plus we didn’t know if we were doing more damage to everything. As we made the necessary turns we could hear something dragging on the pavement but had no idea what it was.

We finally made it into the back parking area of Love’s and it began to pour rain. There we were, me inside and Jerry outside talking with the tanker driver and the patrolman getting soaking wet. Suddenly there was a knock on the door and when I opened it a guy was standing in the pouring rain telling me he knew how to get our car down. Jerry appeared and the gentleman explained to Jerry that he had had the same thing happen to him twice so he knew what to do. They told me to sit in the driver’s seat and to press the brake when they told me. I sat down and waited for them to tell me to press the break but suddenly I felt a big jerk and then the guy walked by with his thumb up. Our car was down! Another blessing. RVer’s are always ready to help a fellow RVer! The gentleman, Danny, was in his RV parked further down and had his Jeep hooked up but had realized our situation. In the pouring rain he detached his Jeep and then drove over to hook it to our Jeep to pull it down. It would have been a gracious thing to do anyway but with the pouring rain – well, that shows you the spirit of the RV world, always willing to help a fellow RVer.

Jerry drove the car around the parking lot to see if there was any damage to it and fortunately there wasn’t. In fact there didn’t even seem to be a scratch on it. Actually a couple of days later we saw that a small bit of paint was rubbed off on the front bumper but you have to be looking for it to see it.

Since we had planned to be gone for quite a while we had stocked up our refrigerator and freezer. Realizing that all of that food would go bad we offered it to Danny. We gave him cartons of frozen shrimp, chicken, steaks, peas, butter beans – golly, I don’t know what else but nearly everything in the freezer, probably over $200 worth of food. It was a small price to pay for his help and I hope he has enjoyed it.

After the patrolman left we were able to park the coach against a fence and then had to decide what to do for the night. Do we stay with the RV or go to a hotel? Since we could run the generator we decided to stay in the coach as I hated to leave everything there while we were away overnight. Naturally we had not had dinner so we drove over to the Love’s station where there was a Hardee’s inside. I didn’t have much appetite but ate a little bit.

Do you have any idea how far a bottle of Thai Sweet Chili Sauce can go? I do now! When we hit the tanker I heard something in the back crash and roll but of course had no idea what it was. It was a bottle of the sauce and it broke as it hit the floor. We had a trail of sticky chili sauce down the kitchen floor extending all the way to the carpet in the doghouse. There we were at 8:00 at night scrubbing the kitchen floor in the narrow kitchen – the slides were not out – and trying to locate the missing bottle. We finally found it under the recliner. What a mess of chili sauce and broken glass but we got it up.

We had never stayed in a truck stop before preferring to leave the parking spaces for working truckers but we had no choice. By the time we closed up everything there were trucks parked in every available space. In fact one had backed in beside us where I didn’t even realize there was room. I could open our door but I could have stood on the steps and touched the truck. Amazingly I never heard him come in.

As we discussed our situation we decided that we would need to empty the RV of almost everything after it was towed to the tow shop facility in Barnwell, SC sixty miles away. We decided that renting a U-Haul was probably the best thing to do as we were 300 miles from home and couldn’t possibly get everything in our Jeep. Of course, the trailer hitch for the Jeep was home so we needed to buy a new one so off to the nearest Lowe’s we went. In addition to the hitch we bought some boxes to pack up some things.

We had also decided to go on to the game in Jacksonville since we had the tickets and were meeting Becky and Billy plus we didn’t want to return home until we knew more about the RV situation. With that in mind we tried to get the necessary clothes and items to take to a hotel. Several years ago we bought a small suitcase that we kept in the RV in case we were on a trip and needed to fly home for an emergency. It was the only suitcase we had so we packed it, a laundry basket, a box and a satchel. With the hanging clothes without a clothes bag I was sure we would look like homeless people when we checked in! We also tried to get everything out on the bed so we could easily get to it when we returned to empty the coach. All of this was done in the small confines of a coach with no slides out. We were afraid to put out the slides on the driver’s side as we didn’t know if they would retract. The sliding window on the driver’s side could not be opened so we didn’t know if there was frame damage.

The tow truck arrived around 1:00. They asked Jerry to pull the coach over to the side of the parking lot so we wouldn’t be blocking anyone as they attached the coach to the truck. The night before we had pulled down the front shade but we couldn’t get it to go back up. Amazingly the coach started and one of the tow truck fellows held the shade up so Jerry could drive to the side of the lot. They hooked the coach to the tow truck, a beautiful new truck and then removed the drive shaft so it could be towed.

With everything under control Jerry and I left for Jacksonville. I had called earlier and despite the Gator Bowl and New Year’s weekend was able to secure a reservation at the Hyatt Place on the St. John’s River. Again the traffic was horrible. In fact it took us an hour and twenty minutes to go forty miles. As soon as we hit the Georgia state lane and an additional lane, traffic resumed a normal pace. Admittedly I was a bit jumpy. Every time Jerry hit the breaks my heart would miss a beat. I think it will take some time before my travel jitters go away.

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…

Florida, Georgia, Home Away From Home, Texas

Planning, Calulating Mileage, Planning Some More

Ah, the planning of a trip. January is our travel month because we have no commitments during the month however planning a trip in January limits our destinations. Yes, we want to go to the Northeast and we yes, we want to take that long ago planned trip to South Dakota but in January – nope, not possible. After some discussion we finally decided on Texas and New Mexico traveling through Hot Springs, Arkansas for a brief stop after leaving around January 2nd or 3rd. That quickly changed when NC State was offered a bid to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. Hot Springs is not on that route! Back to the Roadtrippers I went revamping the entire trip and guess what – we’re leaving December 28th.

We don’t generally make reservations for our January trip as we like to be flexible but I knew we had to have reservations for the first leg. My hope was Clinche State Park near Amelia Island, Ga about an hour away from the game site but there were no vacancies. I then quickly began to realize that Florida in January even as far north as Jacksonville is snow bird country and things possibly have been reserved for quite some time. Do we stay in St. Mary’s, Georgia, Jacksonville proper, St. Augustine, an hour away in the other direction? Quite the quandary. My guess – we’ll stay where we can get a reservation although $70 a night on the front of our trip is a little more than I want to spend!

I’ve pretty much routed the trip noting the various places we want to see after leaving Jacksonville on New Year’s Day. Will that be an easy day of travel with little traffic or will there be many returning home after the holidays? We’ll see!

We visited Texas a few years ago and loved it but there was just so much to see and we couldn’t possibly see it all so Jerry suggested going back. We missed Dallas, Houston and Austin but we don’t really enjoy cities so even though these cities made the original route, Dallas made the cut early. Houston and Austin are still in but we shall see.

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.!

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.