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.

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Georgia, Home Away From Home

Perry, Georgia Take Two – FMCA International Rally

After we returned home from our long winter trip we knew we definitely had a problem with the coach so we called Howard RV in Wilmington. Because of a local RV show they were involved in they could not take our RV in until Tuesday, March 6. Since we had to be there at 8:00 that morning we elected to take it in on Monday. We explained the problems and told them that we had a scheduled trip and would like to have the RV back by Friday, March 9. We also said that if it worked out fine but if it didn’t that would be OK. I had called FMCA earlier to ask what I needed to do if we had to cancel. I discovered that I had until the day before the rally started to cancel our registration and get a full refund so that lessened the stress of making an immediate decision.

I cannot say enough good things about Howard RV. They apparently started to work immediately on our coach and within hours were calling Jerry to give him updates. When your coach is in the shop communication is so very important but there are so many dealerships that fail in that area. Howard RV is a shining example of good communication as they go above and beyond the norm. Although we had a hefty bill (had to buy a new inverter) Howard had our coach ready for pickup Friday afternoon. Finally we knew we were going to be able to go to Perry.

The next question – when were we going to leave. We had planned to leave on Sunday arriving at the Georgina National Fairgrounds on Monday. We had a meeting to attend on Tuesday at 4:30 but nothing else pressing enough to get us there earlier. If we arrived on Monday we would be in the holding area with no hookups so we decided to postpone our leaving until Monday morning.

Except for the last minute things had everything packed and ready to go by Sunday night. I had trouble going to sleep so Jerry moved to another bedroom to sleep. On Monday morning I woke up early and as I sat in the den doing my devotions, etc. I wondered why Jerry was sleeping so late. I just assumed he had had a bad night so I didn’t wake him. When he finally walked out he said he had awakened and wondered why I was up so early but then suddenly realized that there was one clock in the house that he had not reset to the new DST! Yep, the one in the guest room. So we left a bit later than anticipated.

We had no reservations because we really didn’t know how far we would drive. That’s becoming a usual situation for us and so far it has worked. After using Mapquest and projecting arrival times in various cities I called Heritage RV in Augusta and although their one pull through was taken they had one space left so we made the reservation. The manager remarked that there must be something going on in Perry, Georgia because he had a lot of people heading that way!

When we arrived there was a North Carolina coach pulling in right in front of us and as we parked I realized they were parked across from us. After we got set up we walked over to introduce ourselves. We visited briefly with Rougement residents, Travis and Linda and then returned to the RV for the rest of the evening. I had put beef stew in the crock pot at lunch so we had a nice dinner waiting for us and with some peas and rolls we had our last “good” dinner.

Up and out early Tuesday morning and on the way to Perry. Of course due to the freezing temps the car windshield was again frosted over so with my head hanging out of the window I carefully navigated the car behind the RV. Since we have a garage at home we’ve never had to worry about frosted windshields before but now we may need to invest in a covering for the windshield. Driving with my head out of the window on really cold mornings is must not fun! Just before we got to Perry we saw a Pilot gas station advertising “RV Friendly”. Wrong! They do not have an RV lane and the pump access is rather small. It took us about 20 minutes to get to a pump, much longer than it took us to pump the gas!

Can you imagine the logistics involved in parking 2900+ coaches?
We got to the fairgrounds a little after 11:00 and joined the line of coaches waiting to be parked. About 30 minutes later they led us to our spot in Lot B, Street 17. We found out a short time later that Travis and Linda were just a few coaches from us, Lot B, Street 19.

Jerry and I attended the Mentor’s meeting Tuesday afternoon and met up with Jan and Jim, our friends from Marietta, Ga. We decided to join them for dinner that night at Georgia Bob’s Barbecue. Well, actually that was our third choice as the other two restaurants on the list were either full or had an hour waiting list. We ran into Rick and Sandi, a Carolina Guroos couple and asked them to join us. We’d all meet at 6:00 at Georgia Bob’s. Jerry and I returned to the coach to get ready and ran into Travis and Linda and asked them to join us so off the four of us went to meet the other four. It took us a while to locate Georgia Bob’s and it was in an Exxon station! How surprised were we. We went in and got a table for eight and wondered why Jim and Jan who are never late weren’t there. About ten minutes after six Jan texted me and asked if we were coming. Yeah, we were there. Where were they? Oh, they were at the Georgia Bob’s in Perry while we were at the Georgia Bob’s in Warner Robbins so off we went to join them. We finally got there and eventually had a delightful dinner and great fellowship. I am so glad we got to spend time with Jan and Jim because we weren’t able to see them very much during the rest of the rally. By the way, Jan later told me if we were ever again meeting for dinner and we turned up at an Exxon station I could rest assured that I was in the wrong place!

Jerry and I both had meetings on Wednesday morning, his for training to be a seminar volunteer and mine, to volunteer in the FMCA store so we were up and walking around the grounds fairly early. The cold North Carolina weather had followed us to Georgia plus it was pretty windy so we weren’t outside very long.

On Thursday afternoon we were invited to a get together with the Peach State Travelers out of Georgia. Our friends, Jan and Jim encouraged us to join the group a couple of years ago so we did. Unfortunately due to distance we were only able to attend one rally so we decided not to renew our membership but we still love to see everyone. What a great group of people.

The rest of the week flew by with seminars, shopping at the vendor’s sites and meeting and making new friends. Perhaps one of the most informative sessions was about the FMCA benefits. The basic membership is filled with special perks for discounts but probably the most beneficial might be the Emergency Evacuation procedure if due to illness you are unable to continue your trip. Not only will FMCA assist in getting you home but will also get the coach home. This also included children under 18 traveling along plus a dog or cat. That in itself is more than worth the membership fee. Hopefully we will never have to use that benefit but it is reassuring to have it.

On Saturday evening we attended a Newmar Kountry Klub cookout sponsored by National Indoor RV where we enjoyed a good meal, some good entertainment and visited with folks we had met last year on our Williamsburg trip. As they say, a good time was had by all!

We topped off a great week on Sunday night by a performance by Jeanne Roberson. Before the show I got to go up and have my picture taken with her and when she realized I was from Kinston she asked about a mutual friend. Small world. It is so reassuring to listen to a comedic speaker who had everyone laughing until the tears rolled but who never used any profanity or off color jokes. Good clean humor – it is out there folks.

We didn’t rush Monday morning so didn’t leave until nearly 9:30 headed home. Again, we had no plans so I kept guesstimating how far we could drive. We finally decided on South of the Border at Pecos Campground. I called and apparently got the last pull through for the night. Having visited South of the Border briefly many years ago and still continuing to see the many signs that dot Interstate 95 I was a bit dubious of Pecos Campground but the ratings were good and I trusted them. Much to my surprise it is a delightful campground. After we set up we chatted with the fellow next door, a snow birder heading from Florida back to Maine. Then Jerry and I walked around the park and then over to the shops at South of the Border. I really didn’t want anything with Myrtle Beach written on it! Back to the coach and a very quiet night.

We didn’t get up until after 8:00 Tuesday morning and then we had to pull everything together for storing the RV for a while as no trips were planned at this time. I had washed three loads of clothes yesterday so all we had left were sheets and towels which could be done at home. Finally a bit after 10:00 we pulled out. Although we had a thunder storm and heavy rain during the night there was no rain this morning so Jerry was able to empty the tanks with no problems. I was a bit startled though when Jerry pointed out the Welcome mat at the steps. It was covered, literally covered in yellow pollen. Oh joy, allergy season here we come.

Since we have been having trouble with the braking lights we decided to stop by Campers Inn on the way home. To make a long story short, they could not determine the problem so we made an appointment to return and headed on home.

It was a great trip. We saw old friends and made new friends. FMCA is all about learning and teaching but it is also all about making life-long friends. Now, the question is do we make plans to attend the International Rally in Gillette, Wyoming in July? Um…

Alabama, Georgia, Home Away From Home

R Ranch in the Mountains in Dahlonega, Ga

Another learning experience today! We woke up about 6:00 only to discover that we had no water. We didn’t know if the heated hose was not working or if the water had frozen at the spigot (apparently it was the spigot). We had our coffee and sausage balls and then donned yesterday’s clothes, pulled in the slides, pulled up the jacks and headed out. The temperature was in the 20’s.

Deerlick Creek Park is such a nice park and one I’d like to visit when the weather is nicer but I don’t see that happening as there are so many other places we want to go. Perhaps if we ever choose Alabama as our state we’ll get back.

As we were leaving Jerry stopped by the gate and told the ranger that he had been unable to turn the spigot off because it was frozen. He thanked him and told him how much we enjoyed our brief stay. On to the winding and hilly road out. One of the reviews I had read said that it was winding and hilly but manageable and they were spot on. Once we got back to civilization – about 3 miles – we stopped at a Marathon to fill up. I grabbed my toothbrush and went in, got my teeth brushed and my hands washed and that made things a bit better.

We hit the road and headed toward Dahlonega, Ga. Traffic was not too bad and the only stop we made was along the side of the road for Jerry to go to the bathroom. We drove on into Dahlonega and got there around 2:40 EST. Normally I don’t think it’s a good idea to drive with no breaks but things were going good, there were no rest stops and then we hit Atlanta (bypassing) and there was no stopping then. We also changed time zones so we were losing an hour. We wanted to get settled as quickly as possible as we had plans for the evening so on we went.

R Ranch in the Mountains is very appropriately named. Who knew there were mountains in that part of Georgia? Not me but I quickly found out. The campground website showed an alternate way to get in but apparently we misunderstood and we took the harrowing descending U-turn in. It was a bit scary but Jerry did a terrific job. When we got there he just raised his hands in prayer and said “Thank you Lord”.

R Ranch is bordered on three sides by the Chattahoochee National Forest and believe me there is a beautiful view wherever you look. The campground is gated and has full time security. It also has an equestrian center but the horses were under quarantine while we were there. Apparently many of the sites are privately owned as there were many rigs there but few people. In fact, we never saw anyone! I’m sure during the other seasons of the year it’s a busy place but in February it is quiet and peaceful and a Passport Park on top of that. Unfortunately because of time constraints we didn’t get to see all of the facilities but it surely looks like an interesting place to return to – but we will take the other entrance!

I went in to register and got a surprise. We made reservations to stay there in February of last year but had to cancel because of snow so I had a $5 credit meaning our campsite costs us $7.50 for the night. Pretty good! There is no cable but the Dish worked fine however there is no Internet. In fact, we haven’t had Internet for the last two nights but it has cost us less than $20 for two nights on the road. Wish I could say that about the site we’re going to be in in Pinnacle!

When Jerry plugged the power in I immediately turned on the hot water heater so we’d have hot water for our showers. Then I turned on the heat pump and nothing happened – another learning experience. We finally resorted to the furnace which I don’t like to use because it uses propane and that kind of frightens me and add in the fact that it’s also it’s noisy. You can’t debate its proficiency though – it is warm. It finally dawned on us that the heat pump won’t work if the temperature gets below freezing and believe me, it was below – about 25 degrees.

As soon as we got in and got settled Jerry grabbed a quick lunch and I had a bar and an orange. We both got showers and headed out to spend the evening with Debbie, Jerry’s sister and her husband Terry. We had a delightful visit and a wonderful meal. A home cooked meal hit the spot.

When we got in the car we quickly realized that we didn’t know the address of the campground. No problem, look it up on the Internet except because of the heavily wooded area we were in neither my cell phone nor my iPad could get online. Fortunately Jerry took the correct turns and we were soon back into an area where we could figure out the way home. Lesson learned – do not leave a strange campground without having the address written down!

Headed on back to the coach and turned in although I couldn’t get to sleep easily. I think I was a little worried about the heat but I had no reason to be. We slept warm and toasty all night.