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!

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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!

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

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.

Home, North Carolina

The Same Question Arises

As usual the question arises – are we going or not? To preface this entry let me say that the weather in eastern North Carolina has been unusually cold. In fact when I get up this morning and it is below 10 degrees it is definitely not typical weather for us. I don’t ever remember it being that cold before. In fact, the entire week since we had brought the RV home to prepare for the trip had been frigid. I was uneasy about bringing it home because of the forecasted cold temperatures but Jerry wanted to bring it so last Wednesday, December 27, we went to the warehouse and brought it home. Since we have a 50 amp hookup at our house we could plug it in and have the heat and heat pad running and not have any difficulties – or so we thought.

Jerry got a new tool for Christmas, a skill saw and was anxious to get to the river for a couple of days to try it out but wanted everything in the RV and ready before we left we spent a few days at the river. Thursday and Friday were spent going from the house to the RV taking things in. I don’t like to do it that way because by the second day I’ve forgotten what I’ve put in so this time I listed each item before I took it out. Hopefully that way I’ll have what I need. (Quite frankly, I am not sure I left anything home). By Saturday morning we felt that we were mostly prepared to leave on Wednesday, January 3 for our first extended stop, Morrilton, Arkansas. With two auxiliary heaters running in the RV Jerry felt comfortable enough to leave so off to the river we went for a couple of days. The weather continued to be bitter cold with temperatures in the teens and brisk winds. Our return home was hastened Monday morning when we woke up to frozen water pipes – no water so we dressed, closed up the house, turned off the water at the street and headed home.

On Tuesday when Jerry went to fill the fresh water tank he couldn’t get a reading on the level plus he couldn’t get the water pump to come on. Uh oh – He also realized that it appeared that the heat pad was not working. He called Howard RV in Wilmington and they thought that the water pump was frozen. They told us to have the motor home in Wilmington at 8:30 on Wednesday morning and they would see if they would resolve the problem so we could continue with our planned trip.

Well, that precipitated a new problem. Jerry had a scheduled doctor’s appointment at 9:40 on Wednesday morning. As he was calling to reschedule I said to ask if they had anything that afternoon and amazingly, they did, 3:40. That presented another problem though. Jerry had a 5:00 appointment for a badly needed haircut. Unfortunately he was unable to reschedule that so he may be taking a trip to Great Clips! If so that will be the first time in over 30 years that someone besides his regular guy has cut his hair. He is threatening to wear it in a pony tail – Not!

In the meantime while Jerry was at his doctor’s appointment I went on out to program the GPS for Wilmington only to discover that the radio/GPS would not come on. Oh yeah, the battery was DEAD. To make a long, cold story short suffice it to say we eventually got the battery charged enough to start the RV. We left it running for a while so hopefully it would start on Wednesday morning. The monitor for the holding tank was still not working though and with the fresh water tank problem we still needed to go to Wilmington Wednesday.

We finished the day by getting everything else in the RV. We both admitted we brought too much and we were not even sure we were going!

Tennessee

Chattanooga Again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Carolina

On to Sycamore Lodge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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