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And We Are Off to South Dakota

Our lives have been so up in the air since we found out that Jerry had DVT’s in his leg so we put off making any plans. As he began to improve we began to realize that maybe, just maybe we’d be able to go on our scheduled trip to South Dakota. With that in mind I spent Wednesday preparing all of the foods that we usually take (meat loaf, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joe, stuffed peppers – yeah, I know, a lot of beef) and knew that even if we didn’t go I’d have some foods in the freezer that we could use later.

Jerry’s doctor appointment was Thursday morning and we knew we’d know for sure then if we could travel. Our plan was to not mention South Dakota to the doctor but to just ask when we could travel again. When we did his immediate answer was anytime you want to! I asked about stopping every two hours and he said Jerry was in less risk of having a blood clot now than he’d ever been due to being on the blood thinners.

Yea – we were going to South Dakota via a week-end in Clemmons celebrating Olivia’s first birthday on Saturday. I couldn’t wait to see Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, the Black Hills and so much more but that meant we really had to hustle. The new plan was to go straight to the warehouse from the doctor’s office, pick up the RV and take it home. I had two hair appointments (yeah – it takes a lot for me) that afternoon but we were still fairly confident that we could get everything ready and leave Friday afternoon. With a bit of hope in the air on Wednesday I had made tentative reservations for Tanglewood for Saturday and Sunday nights. Since it was Easter week-end we were fortunate to get them although we would have to move Sunday morning to another site. That was fine with us and we’d just stay at the Cracker Barrel only three miles from our son’s house on Friday night. We’ve never stayed at Cracker Barrel before but we really had no other options at that late date.

After an exhausting Thursday we realized that we would not be ready to leave even late Friday afternoon so we decided we’d leave by 7:00 Saturday morning. Wow – that’s early! Because I seemed to have a bit more free time on Friday I went out to Eva’s school and had lunch with her and then went to see Mom for a bit. She really is not too happy about us going so far away.

After I returned home we finally got everything loaded, the car on the dolly and then exhaustion set in. Like I have said earlier, one day we’re going to have a peaceful restful preparation for leaving. Yeah, right! Little did we know.

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North Carolina

Getting Ready To Roll Again!

I wish I would/could keep a chronology of my trip planning as I think it would be interesting at least to me to see the progression and changes to our routes and plans. I “knew” we were going to Texas in January and Arizona in March but had made absolutely no plans and it was December! Oh my –when do I get busy on this? With the holidays we stay pretty busy and this year was even more so. Jerry decided that he wanted to build the boys corn hole boards for Christmas and that could only be done at our river house so we made A LOT of trips down there. Our week-ends were filled with a trip to Charlotte for a Panthers game and a trip to Clemmons for our newest granddaughter’s christening so our weeks were busy going back and forth to Pamlico Beach. We had the absolutely prettiest Christmas tree this year that we’ve ever had but we had little time to enjoy it. We were the last to decorate in our neighborhood and the first to take everything down. I guess we look like a couple of Scrooges. To top it off we decided we wanted some flickering candle lights in our windows so we bought some at the Pottery. Oh yeah – they flickered but they were orange and looked like Halloween. Jerry liked them so … I quickly turned them off each night and when we took the decorations down I threw them away!

Back to planning. I picked the major places that we wanted to visit – San Antonio, Big Bend, Carlsbad Caverns (I know it’s in New Mexico) and Amarillo and then went to work on a route. With Jerry in the workshop working on the corn hole boards I had plenty of time to sit at the computer and research. Our route was going to take us close to Abbeville, La so I knew a couple of days at Betty’s RV Park would be in the plans. We were there last year for a week and met some delightful people, some that we will be seeing this time. I added Galveston to the route. As I kept adding up the time spent in each location I finally realized that I had to cut some things out and Galveston was the first to go. From what I’ve read it looks like it’s a real beach town and although I’m sure there are a lot of interesting thing to do there Jerry and I live part-time on a river and we’re only a little over an hour from the Atlantic Ocean so the beachy towns don’t have a lot to draw us.

San Antonio was next on the route. I went a few years ago when attending a conference and I knew that despite our reluctance to visit large cities that Jerry would enjoy San Antonio. I continued to research. Our original plan was to go to Chandler, Arizona in March for the FMCA International Rally. In talking with an RVing friend he suggested that we tour what we had planned in Texas, leave the coach somewhere, fly home to NC for a few weeks, fly back, pick up the coach and go on to Arizona. It would be much less wear and tear on the coach and our bodies. That made sense so I started looking into that plan searching for places to leave the coach and investigating plane fares. It really was beginning to make a lot of sense until I started considering where we would be traveling after the FMCA rally. We both really want to visit Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and some other places in Utah. I quickly realized that we didn’t have enough time to attend the rally, visit places on our Bucket List and be home in time for a March 25 birthday so back to Plan A. Instead we would extend our trip in Texas just a couple of days perhaps taking in Austin and then take our Utah trip after the March 25 birthday. Oh yes, I totally forgot about the April 17 birthday but that’s another story!

I had completed our route and now was time to start looking for campgrounds. We knew that it would take us two hard driving days to get to Abbeville and we would be “camping” at a Walmart for one night. I began to look at RVPark Reviews, Passport and Good Sam’s for park reviews. As I have said earlier we have just started our “boondocking” but I found some Texas state parks that looked interesting so I decided to bite the bullet and made reservations at two parks. I’ll let you know how that works out. I was also lucky to find a Passport park near San Antonio that honors Passport every night. Some only do it for one night or on week nights so each one is different.

I finally got our route established, our sites reserved, our deposits mailed in (yes, some only take checks or cash) and now to get the coach ready.

When are we leaving? Well, that is TBD. IF we can we hope to leave in the afternoon of January 2. We’re keeping three of the grands for the weekend and we both have appointments in the morning of January 2. Guess it depends on how tired we are after a weekend with precious children. If we can’t make it on Monday, we’ll leave bright and early Tuesday morning and drive as far as we can. I put an extra “rest” day in Abbeville before heading to Texas just in case…

Stay tuned!

(BTW – we left Monday afternoon!)

Home Away From Home, Virginia

Woodstock, Luray Caverns and More!

What a fun filled day and it lasted a lot longer than we anticipated. Our first adventure was to locate Woodstock Fire Tower. That proved to be a bit more difficult than we had thought. I downloaded the directions and it told us to turn east on a highway that only went north and south. After riding though the town of Woodstock a bit we finally stopped and asked and were told to turn by the old courthouse which we did. In reading the reviews on Trip Advisor I knew there were two entrances and the writer suggested taking the one with fewer curves and turns. Wouldn’t you know that we took the one going up that was winding, paved, graveled and hairpin curves? Jerry finally saw a sign denoting the tower so we parked and began a short walk towards the tower.

That's a high tower!
That’s a high tower!
When we arrived at the tower there were three people who had just come down and they encouraged us to go on up because the view was incredible. I looked at the metal tower, put my big girl panties on and up I went. In fact going up was easier than coming down! The climb was well worth it indeed though as we could see the seven bends of the Shenandoah Valley. As we were climbing down it began to sprinkle so we hastened on to the car.
This made the climb worth it!
This made the climb worth it!

Instead of going back the way we had come we ventured on only to discover that that was where we should have come in in the first place. It was just a regular road, no “oh my gosh I hope we don’t go over” road!

The Reflecting Pool
The Reflecting Pool

We decided to go on back to the RV for lunch and then go out for dinner as there was a restaurant in Edinburg that we wanted to try that evening. After lunch we headed to Luray to visit the Luray Caverns. Jerry and I have been to a number of caverns. In fact a few months ago Jerry said we had been to enough caves and caverns and to not plan anymore so I was hesitant to mention Luray Caverns but he had mentioned it so off we went. What a treat! The caverns are spectacular, by far the most impressive we have seen. In fact one lady on the tour said they were far better than Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico! I don’t know about that but they were pretty impressive. One of the most stunning things was a large pool of reflecting water. Though the water was only inches deep it appeared to be very deep. The magic of it was that it reflected all of the stalactites making it look like the ground was covered in stalagmites. It was incredibly beautiful and I could have stayed there for quite some time gazing at it.
Magnificent
Magnificent

Another interesting point was the sound of an organ being played. Strikers are attached at various points and then are gently tapped to make the different notes in the song. It took three years to build the organ and only a handful of people can play it. The song being played was “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”. Not a sound could be heard as the music sounded through the cavern.

When we left the caverns we went into the historic car museum. It is full of very old beautifully restored cars some dating from the 1800’s. A real treat for car lovers.

Next on our agenda was a ride along the Skyline Parkway however we were running low on gas. Along the highway we were on you could buy fruits, quilts, apple cider and any number of things but alas, no gas. We ended up driving 20 miles to find gas, then 20 miles back to the parkway entrance.

As we arrived at the gate we realized that there was a $20 charge per car and since it was so late we elected not to go but the ranger asked if by any chance we had the America the Beautiful pass and indeed we do so there was no charge.

No caption necessary
No caption necessary
We decided to go on and she directed us to the southern route which had more lookouts. We saw some incredibly beautiful sites, things that no camera we own could do justice to. The sun streaming through the clouds was absolutely gorgeous. At that lookout we could see numerous photographers setting up equipment in order to catch that shot. Unfortunately it was very windy and pretty cold so we didn’t stay very long. We continued on the parkway occasionally stopping at some of the lookouts but finally gave up because it was so windy and cold. At one lookout I saw a couple sitting on the brick wall wrapped in a blanket. That’s dedication!

Can you see his small antlers?
Can you see his small antlers?
As we headed out we saw two deer standing on each side of the road. I was scrambling to get my phone to take the picture and the deer waited patiently but dang it, it too me too long. She finally scampered off. The untagged young buck on the other side of the road crossed in front of us and posed for his picture before following the tagged doe. We saw three more deer as we rode out.

We finally got to the end of the parkway and began the rather long journey back to Edinburg, 55 miles.. Pretty sure our restaurant preference would be closed so perhaps we should instead head to Swover Creek Farms, a brewery, tap room and restaurant – I hope!

Oh well, eating out was not to be. We went back by the campground and then decided to go Swover Creek. Although it was less than 10 miles it was going to take nearly 20 minutes to get there. Wonder where it was. After leaving the two lane road, going over a single lane bridge though the dark country and then down another dark lane we finally arrived and realized that it was mainly a tap room and the store and the restaurant did not appear to be opened. Since neither of us drink beer we turned around, went back to the RV and had somewhat of a meal there.

It was a long but good day and a good way to end our Virginia trip. There is just so much to see here and we know we have just tapped the very edge of all of the beauty. Maybe another trip!

We didn’t leave Friday until 10:30 but had a very uneventful easy trip to Raleigh stopping only once at a rest stop for lunch. We stayed at the NC State Fairgrounds but up on the hill this time. The horse section was very quiet and dark and generally most of the State fans stay up top. Wi-Fi was almost not operable, in fact I could never get enough signal to even get the booster up. Naturally they have no cable but the Dish worked fine and Jerry was able to watch football!

We went to the game on Saturday and watched State lose to Boston College. Afterward we came back to the coach and sat outside. While the guys watched football on the outside TV (the first time we’ve really used it) the girls chatted. We ate our leftovers from tailgating and called it a night.

Sunday morning we got up and began washing linens and I cleaned the inside while Jerry washed the outside. Boy, did it need it. Sadly I guess it’s going back to the warehouse until after Christmas since we have no more trips planned in the near future. 😦

We finally got a fall picture - kind of.
We finally got a fall picture – kind of.
Home Away From Home, Virginia

Edinburg, Virginia

I just couldn’t go to sleep last night for some reason. Tuesday night is the only night I watch TV and I guess I stayed up too late and missed my sleepy time but when I did go to sleep I had a good night’s rest. Jerry quietly got up this morning and let me sleep in until almost 8:00. Love sleeping in a cold room. I heard him turn on the heat in the front so I knew when I got up and headed toward the den it’d be nice and warm and it was.

We took our time doing break down and it was 10:30 before we left. Interestingly enough our two GPS’s had very divergent routes varying in about 50 miles. I “thought” Jerry’s which is shorter was mainly two lane roads and I was right. We did get to ride through the absolutely lovely back roads of Virginia though. There are miles and miles of fences, some painted white (can’t imagine) and some plain. The leaves weren’t as vivid as they have been but were still pretty although a little more sparse. Horse farms abound along with cattle grazing in the pastures. Despite the loveliness of the drive I sometimes had to just look down as we passed through narrow passages and overhead bridges.

We arrived at Creekside RV Park about 1:00. I had read on RV Park Reviews that we shouldn’t follow the GPS directions to the campground and boy was that right! I called the campground and he told me what exit to take and then to just follow the campground signs. That would have been perfect except when we entered Edinburg and had to make either a left or right turn there was no sign so of course we turned left. We rode down the main street, saw the street that the GPS said to turn on and wisely said no way. It was very narrow and unbeknownst to us a sharp left angle turn and then a right turn and then a narrow bridge. I really think we would have gotten stuck.

The campground is small and our site backed up to a little creek full of quacking ducks. The guy a couple of sites down was feeding them throwing feed in the creek and then entrancing them to come up on the bank by throwing more food. Wow!

Edinburg Mill
Edinburg Mill
After we got set up and had some lunch we rode into Edinburg and went to the Edinburg Mill. It is only one of a few pre-Civil War mills still standing. The Shenandoah Valley was the thoroughfare for both of the armies and whomever controlled the valley would control the war. Upon orders the Yankees began what it now known as The Burning. They burned everything, homes, barns, livestock, fields, crops, anything that would provide sustenance. In one instance when they took the horses from the owners one of the horses was a mare with a foal. The lady screamed that the foal couldn’t exist without her mother so the soldier just turned around and shot the foal then continued on. The Burning was referred to as a grim time in a very grim war. I was surprised to hear that the homes of widows and masons were not burned though.

The mill is three stories full of memorabilia from the Civil War until more recent times. In fact, it is a bit humbling to see items in a museum that I remember using in years past. Although I didn’t have high hopes for visiting the mill I was definitely wrong. I would surely recommend it to anyone that happens to be in the Edinburgh area.

Home Away From Home, Virginia

Montpelier

After a great night’s sleep I woke up to sounds in the kitchen. The temperature had dropped again and it was in the upper 30’s so I hated to get out of my warm bed but was curious as to what was happening in the kitchen. Yes, my sweet husband was making a new batch of sausage balls. We have gotten in the habit of having sausage balls for breakfast and nothing else seems to tempt us – well, Pam’s Diner in Raleigh did one day!

Since our only plan for the day was to visit Montpelier we took care of some housekeeping. While Jerry was baking sausage balls I was paying bills with intermittent Internet – yep, that is so frustrating but I finally got it done.

We left about 11:00 for Montpelier located in Orange, Virginia. According to the GPS it is only about 20 miles from where we are staying but nearly an hour’s drive. We found out why it takes so long as we wound around the curvy roads. We are not in the mountains per se but we are definitely not in the flatlands either.

Visiting with President and Mrs Madison!
Visiting with President and Mrs Madison!
Approaching James and Dollly Madson’s home affords an absolutely breathtaking view as it is situated at the top of a slight rise with an immense lawn in front. Later we finally got some pictures but it was difficult to get one without random people standing around as there was a constant flow.

We arrived just in time to see the introductory film and then join the house tour. The film told of his life and his ascent to the presidency. He was quite a learned, well-read man and used it to his advantage. He was a believer in freedom for all – well except for the 129 slaves he kept and he believed in freedom to worship as one pleased. Known as the Father of the Constitution and the Architect of the Bill of Rights, the notes that he took during the early discussions of the formation of the Constitution became known as the Federalist Papers.

James Madison appeared to be a quiet studious man who married a young widow with a two year son, Dolly Todd. Later known as the “First Lady” she was quite the entertainer. Not only did she constantly entertain during their 16 years in Washington, eight as Secretary of State and eight as President, when they returned to Montpelier she continued to entertain a constant stream of visitors in addition to helping Madison edit his papers. Unfortunately Dolly’s son seem to often end up in financial trouble as the years passed and he put Dolly in quite a financial bind. The home was sold and Dolly moved to Washington.

Our attempts at selfies continue to fail
Our attempts at selfies continue to fail
The home was actually sold a couple of times and ended up in the DuPont family. They made several renovations and changes to the original house but when it was later donated in 2000 archeologists began the continuing process of returning the home and grounds to what it was when the Madisons lived there at the end of his presidency.

The grounds are beautiful and we spent a fair amount of time walking around. A visit to their grave sites included the graves of other family members but most of the headstones were illegible.

As we entered the estate I noticed a riding course and jumps so when we were in the Visitors’ Center I asked about that. According to the last DuPont owner her will stipulated that the Montpelier Hunt would be held every year during the first weekend of November and it is still in existence today. I asked about tickets and they are only $15 with $20 for a parking pass, rather reasonable.

Montpelier
Montpelier

As we were leaving I asked Jerry which was his favorite, Mt. Vernon or Montpelier and he answered that if he were only going to visit one it would be Mt. Vernon simply because it was the home of our first president. Interestingly enough my original schedule called for a visit to Montpelier and if time provided a visit to Mt. Vernon as an extra. Glad it worked out as we have now seen the homes of four Virginia born presidents. The last two days we have heard a lot about government by the people, for the people, and of the people with representation. Wonder when it changed? When the media decided to slant the news instead of reporting the news that didn’t help. OK – off of my bandwagon now!

On the way back to the campground we stopped at a Walmart in Gordonsville and picked up some groceries and then headed on in. When we walked into the RV it was warm so we opened a couple of windows and used the screen door. It didn’t take long for it to cool off. I’m loving this crisp fall weather!

For dinner tonight I finally baked the other two pasties we got from Cousin Jenny’s in Traverse City, Michigan. I really like them and they are nice to have after a busy day of touring. A salad just completes the dinner for me.

In closing, if you ever get a chance to visit Montpelier be sure to go. One young lady there with her two children said she had driven three hours just to visit Montpelier and I’m sure she felt it was well worth the time invested.

Home Away From Home, Virginia

Mount Vernon

We decided not to set the clock for this morning but I was hoping we’d get on up and out by 8:00 since it’s a couple of hours drive to Mount Vernon. That didn’t happen! We finally got on the road about 9:45 and after a slight detour were on the way. It’s close to Washington DC so I told Jerry if there was anything he wanted to see in Washington now was the time.

For some reason the GPS didn’t work initially, just giving us our location. When we finally figured out that we didn’t know where we were heading we put the information in again and this time it worked but… it took us the long way. In fact it took us nearly three hours to get to Mt. Vernon. Fortunately we hit the traffic at a good time so we had no delays or slow/stop traffic.

We got to Mt. Vernon around 12:30 and upon arrival decided to view the introductory movie that highlighted what there is to see an do on the grounds and also showed scenes from the French and Indian War. It was very good and enlightening. Our time for the house tour was 1:20 but we were told since it was a light day it would be ok if we weren’t there at the appropriate time. I’m glad it was a light day because there were a lot of people there!

houseThe house sits right on the Potomac with an absolutely beautiful front porch view. I could just imagine George and Martha Washington sitting on that porch in their rocking chairs although from the sound of things there wasn’t a whole lot of sitting time. The rooms were recreated as they would have been when the Washingtons lived there and nearly every one of them had at least one piece of original furniture. Several of the rooms were painted with pretty vivid colors which was a sign of prosperity as paint was very expensive. It arrived in powder form and then was mixed with linseed oil. Any leftover was safely stored. There were lovely paintings all through the house, some of them original.

tombAfter the house tour we walked around the various out houses and viewed the gardens. We visited the tombs of both Martha and George Washington. General Washington as he preferred to be called was originally buried elsewhere on the property but it was near the shore line and was deteriorating. He had left instructions in his will for the mausoleum to be built and then their bodies were placed there. There are some other family members buried there as well.

On the walkway waiting to enter the house.  See the Potomac in the background.
On the walkway waiting to enter the house. See the Potomac in the background.
Our last stop was the museum and it was well worth the time spent there. It gave an overview of Washington’s life from birth to death. Some of the words that come to mind when I think of Gen. Washington are courageous, brave, humble, honest, leader, ingenious, hard working and devoted. After the war he resigned his commission and gave authority to the Congress. People wanted him to be king but he refused but later was selected as the first president. He served only two terms saying that no one needed to serve more than that. It was government by the people – can’t help but wish it was more that way now!

After the museum we were tired and hungry having missed lunch so we headed to the car. We discussed going to the grist mill and distillery but decided against it and that was a good thing because the Garmin took us right through a residential area and we never saw the grist mill that we had seen coming in. Unfortunately we were not as lucky with traffic in the afternoon as we were in the morning and it took FOREVER to get out of the Washington area. After looking at the route that Garmin gave us I put the information into MapQuest and discovered a different shorter way although the time didn’t differ much. Despite the fact that the distance is only about 90 miles the time is quite a bit due I guess to traffic. When we realized that we would be home too late to prepare dinner we stopped at a Hardee’s in Spotsylvania. I haven’t been to a Hardee’s in years and I don’t know if the food was really that good or I was that hungry but I wolfed it down! We had just a few items we needed to pick up from the grocery store and since there was a Food Lion right there we went on over and got most of what we needed. Apparently Monday evening is not the time to buy green grapes!

We finally arrived back at the campground around 8:00 and boy was it dark, not a light to be seen. Fortunately with the car lights and the lights on the ground by the RV we were able to see to get in. It didn’t take long for me to get ready for bed!

North Carolina, Virginia

Flexibility

Flexibility – some say that’s what RVing is all about and it surely has worked for us this time. Our original plans were to leave October 10th for our Virginia/Pennsylvania trip but Hurricane Matthew changed that plan. In all honesty we probably could have gotten out of Kinston but we just didn’t feel that it was a wise decision. As many have heard Kinston, NC was devastated by flooding waters and though “the storm” was over by the 9th the rising waters were just beginning. With Mom in a retirement center in Greenville and the threat of evacuation for her plus not knowing what was going to happen in Kinston we elected to stay home. We did go out to the warehouse on the 9th and get the motor home. The warehouse is in the flood zone and we were afraid it might flood. We also knew that even if the warehouse itself didn’t flood that there would be water all around it and we would be unable to get to it. Unfortunately we’ve seen it before so we knew what to expect. So, the RV stayed in our driveway for a week. We did use it one day due to power outage. Fortunately we live on the north side of Kinston and were not in any danger from the flood.

We were planning to go to the State Fair horse the next week and after a lot of talking pros and cons we decided to add part of our planned trip on after the horse show rather than before. We left on Tuesday, October 18 for Raleigh for the show and stayed until Sunday. During that time we discussed where we would go knowing we had to be back in Raleigh by October 29 for the State-Boston College football game. Yes, it does seem our fall travels revolve around football games and horse shows! We finally decided to go to Louisa, Virginia where we would spend two nights at the Small Country Campground and visit Montpelier, James Madison’s home. The rest of the trip was up in the air at that point but included going to the Shenandoah Valley and the Skyline Parkway.

We finally got away from the horse show grounds on Sunday around 10:00, stopped at Alamance Crossing to meet David (we had grandson Eli for the week-end) and then headed on to Louisa. On the way it dawned on me that I should probably check the hours for Montpelier. That little tickle in my mind was right – they are closed on Mondays. Oh well. We decided that we would add a night to our Louisa stay and go visit Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s home on Monday. It is about a 2 hour drive but Jerry was up for it so the plans changed.

As we neared the campground our two GPS’s of course gave two different routes. Jerry took his instead of mine and we ended up on Brickhouse Road, a narrow, two lane, winding road and we were hoping we wouldn’t meet anyone. We did but fortunately got by without incidence! We should have taken my route this time.

The campground despite its name is not small. In fact there are several sections. Unfortunately for some reason we were not put in with the transients so thus far haven’t gotten to meet anyone. After we got set up we took a walk around the park. We debated riding our bikes – wow, glad we didn’t as it’s a mite hilly!

I had put ribs in the crockpot when we stopped for lunch and they were smelling really good so I cooked some sides and we had a pretty good dinner for a change. It was an early night and by 8:00 we were both fighting sleep. The horse shows are always fun but tiring so a good night’s sleep was in order. By the way we didn’t succumb to our 8:00 drowsiness and I made it all the way to 10:00! I left my window open and the room was cool, perfect for sleeping.

North Carolina

Go Away Hurricane Matthew!

Although we had an October trip planned to Bradenton, Florida for the Gathering with John and Kathy Huggins we decided that since we had just returned from Florida plus with Jerry’s broken ribs we’d forego the Gathering this year.  Instead we decided to take a short trip north through Louisa, Virginia to visit some presidential homes and then on to Gettysburg and Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

Needless to say I have spent many hours planning this trip trying to find the best route, the best affordable campground – you know – the usual things.  We were also planning to go further north too but I just couldn’t find any place to stay.  That part of the country starts closing down on Columbus Day which this year is October 10, the day we are scheduled to leave.  Instead I decided to leave the Jim Thorpe area and go down through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia so began looking for routes that would take us close to some pretty scenery with good hiking trails.  Although we will have our bikes I doubt we’ll do much riding in the mountains – if Jerry is able to ride at all!

The Calm Before the Storm
The Calm Before the Storm
Whoa – have you heard about Hurricane Matthew?  Well, we live on the coast in Eastern North Carolina so we are carefully watching the news for updates and it looks like our trip may, if not be canceled, at least be cut short.  Pennsylvania may have to wait for another time.

Stay tuned – I’ll let you know – and please pray for safety for those in the path of this Category 4 hurricane.

Home Away From Home, Michigan

Another Day on Mackinac Island

We woke up to a sunny day with blue sky and not a cloud in sight so we decided that perhaps the weathermen didn’t know what they were talking about (they did). In that vein we decided to go back over to Mackinac Island. We really didn’t get to see the Grand Hotel nor the fort when we were there earlier in the week plus we so enjoyed riding the loop around the island that we wanted to do it again.

A Ride on Arnold's Ferry
A Ride on Arnold’s Ferry
We decided to take Arnold’s Ferry today since it had been recommended and it was $18 cheaper. Jerry got the bikes on the back of the car and we drove to Arnold’s not very far down the street. Our ride over was nice, perhaps a little longer but it was fine. The water was calmer today so we sat up top and enjoyed the fresh air and breeze.

As soon as we got off the ferry and got our bikes Jerry got a map from the Visitor’s Center and we set out for the Grand Hotel. At one point we had a very steep incline and I just couldn’t make it up. I couldn’t get off the bike with the basket on the back and Jerry was long gone so I just straddled the bike and walked it up the hill. Sometimes it really is nice when you don’t know anyone around you! I got back on at the top and rode on up to the hotel. Jerry was waiting and we quickly put out bikes on the bike stands.

The flowers at the hotel are spectacular, colorful and plentiful. They charged $10 to walk through the hotel – guess that’s to keep the riff raff out and it worked – we didn’t go in!

We're really not very good at selfies!
We’re really not very good at selfies!
We then got on the bike trail from that end and rode the 8.2 mile loop again. It was so much more fun! I saw a lot of things that I didn’t get to see the previous time due to the rain and wind. When we got to the Mission Point Hotel I suggested we go out and sit in the large Adirondack chairs. As we were sitting there fiddling with the selfie stick we felt the first drops of rain so we headed on into the main part of town.

We had planned to visit the fort but decided to go on out for lunch first since it was raining was coming down pretty steadily. I had been told that the mussels at Yankee Rebel Tavern (boy, that’s a politically correct name for visitors) were delicious so we decided to eat there only to discover that mussels are only served in the evening. As we ate we watch the rain continue to pour so we decided to order dessert, something we rarely do except when we’re traveling. We got the crème brulee and it was pretty good – we scraped the dish!

The rain had let us a bit so we walked around a few stores. I bought a cap and then we realized it was 2:40 and the ferry only left at 3:00, 5:00, 7:00 and 9:00. We didn’t want to wait until 5:00 so we hustled out, got our bikes and were immediately at the loading dock. By this time it was really raining hard. When we got back to St. Ignace Jerry had to put the bikes back on the car rack in the deluge of rain. I think he did it in record time!

As soon as we got back I walked over to the office for a bit to see if I could get some Internet connectivity. After chatting with a couple tenting for two weeks (really) I went back to the coach, got a cup of coffee and promptly took a nap. Jerry kept asking me if I wanted to continue to sleep and I did. I got up and ate just a little bit and then went right to bed. I was tired!

Home Away From Home, Michigan

Mackinaw Point Lighthouse

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse
Winter has come back to Michigan. Well, not really but it did get cold last night and when Jerry got up this morning it was 57 in the coach (we didn’t turn on the heat last night). Thank goodness for the fireplace. I almost feel guilty thinking about our cool weather because it is sweltering at home.

After realizing that the bike rack would not work we went back to Petoskey to return it and then ended up stopping at Latitude 45. A very helpful young lady found the very one we needed and helped Jerry put it on.

That done we headed for Mackinaw City to do some touring. Our first stop was the Mackinaw Point Lighthouse. It is probably the nicest lighthouse we have visited with a lot of memorabilia. Several people were dressed in period costumes and gave various presentations.

View from the top of the lighthouse
View from the top of the lighthouse
We climbed up to the top, only 50 steps up a spiral staircase and then 8 up a ladder. The top was enclosed but the view was still spectacular.
The Fresssnel Lenss
The Fresssnel Lenss
On the ground floor of the lighthouse is an original Fressnel Lens that guided the ships through the Straits of Mackinac from the top of the lighthouse. Originally lit by a large kerosene lamp at its center this was replaced by an electric light in 1929.

Also located on the lighthouse grounds is a Maritime Museum and it too is very nice. We learned about the Mackinaw Straits and the danger they offered. We also read about the captains that were more interested in getting the cargo delivered on schedule than they were about the lives of their crewmen. There were several ship wrecks where lives were lost. One particular disaster was deemed the responsibility of the captain and he was unable to captain for a year, however he never sailed again.

Our next stop was the Michlimakinac Fort. Like the lighthouse it had many presentations by people dressed in period costumes also. Through archeological digs many of the relics of the fort have been recovered. In fact Michlimakinac is the site of the longest, on-going historical archeology program in the United States. One of the highlights was the firing of the cannon “into Lake Michigan”. Actually the firing range was so low that they seldom fired at anything in the lake.

One of the many exhibits
One of the many exhibits

After we left the fort we rode into Mackinaw City, sampled some fudge and bought a t-shirt for Jerry then headed back to St. Ignace. We had talked about the possibility of biking into St. Ignace for dinner but wisely decided that we were too tired and hungry to do that so we stopped at the Galley and had dinner. I had broiled whitefish and Jerry had fried whitefish, trout, walleye and perch. Neither of us had ever had whitefish or walleye before. We topped it off with rhubarb pie and ice cream! I had been told that rhubarb pie is a staple of Michigan so I wanted to try it. I’m glad I did. Now I can go back to my delicious cherry pie!

When we got back to the campground we got out the bikes and went for a ride. I could only do three miles (and was glad to do that) but Jerry did his regular six.

We are undecided about what to do tomorrow. We had planned to go to Saulte St. Marie to see the locks but I talked with a lady in the campground who had gone on Wednesday. She saw two ships go by and one of them was a tour boat. In fact she said that she was bored! Apparently due to coastal deterioration the drop between Lake Superior and Lake Huron is not as large as it used to be so fewer ships are going through. Since we had actually experienced the journey of a boat through a lock when we were in New York we may decide to skip that. We may even go back to Mackinaw Island – we’ll see!