Thursday, November 29, 2007

Back Home At Ocean Isle Beach!

We pulled into the Waterway Family Campground located across the Intracoastal Waterway from Ocean Isle Beach late afternoon today. Our site, #18, was right on the ICW and we pulled in so our windshield would capture the entire view of this wonderful waterway. This will be our home for the month of December, at least until after Christmas. We then head out to Arizona to meet up with our friends Hank and Lillie who are also full time RVers.

It is kind of strange to be about 1/4 mile from our home here, yet, we are staying in the motorhome because all our clothing and general "stuff" is in the coach. The first leg of our full time journey was a great "shake down" cruise. We realized we had forgotten some things and also figured out we did not need other things. Many trips to and from the house will equalize our needs.

On November 18th we headed up to the Raleigh/Durham area to visit with another of Peg's cousins, Dwayne and Nancy Lee. They recently moved to Durham from California. It was the first time we saw their new house and it is a large home. They needed more furniture to help fill it up so they "acquired" much of our furniture when they first moved here and it was interesting seeing things we recognized all over their house! We had a great time in the two days we were there. They took us to the Duke University campus and we saw the Duke Chapel. A beautiful building build just before WWII. It was impressive as was the entire campus.

We also got to go to a Trader Joe's store in Chapel Hill and we finally got a chance to get some "Two Buck Chuck". This is Charles Shaw premium wine for $2.99 a bottle! They call it two buck chuck because, on the west coast, it is sold for $1.99 a bottle. I guess it costs a little more to get it to the east coast!!

I write these notes towards the end of our stay here (December 23). The weather had been mostly good, except for a few wind storms. We are pretty exposed to the elements here on the banks of the Intracoastal. On the many good days, we enjoy watching the boat traffic, gazing at the sunsets and just enjoying the area we call home.

We are roughing it since our microwave/convection oven decided to stop microwaving! The convection part still works, but it is really inconvenient not to be able to heat up some hot chocolate or pop a bag of popcorn. We will get it fixed on our trek out west.

We have met our next door full time neighbors here at the campground and have chatted a bit. Jarrell and Emmie are staying a few days longer than we will be here and plan on traveling more after the New Year.

We have a few dinner invitations left before Christmas and it has been fun seeing friends and family for the last three weeks. Guess we'll grab a bottle of wine and head out to see another one of mother natures miracle sunsets. Hope everyone has a safe holiday, prosperous new year and a healthy 2008...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In the Mountains of Brevard, NC

We made it across the Tennessee/North Carolina mountains on Rt. 40 and headed for our camping spot, Lakewood RV Resort, located in Flat Rock, NC. This proved to be a good central location for our next two visits. First, we visited Peg's cousins in Brevard, NC. Richard and Joyce have a beautiful home on the top side of a mountain overlooking the city. It is a relatively new home with several floors with unique and interesting designs. The view of the city at night from their porch was breathtaking (especially since I don't like heights)!

Richard and Joyce served us a wonderful meal (in the formal dining room, of course) and we had a nice time talking, reminiscing and enjoying the view. It was a dark, long road down the mountain and I was glad we took the car, not the RV, to see them!

The following day we visited our Goose Creek neighbors who had recently purchased a home in Tryon, also in the hills. Don & Gloria gave us a tour of their house, 2 acres of land and the town of Tryon. We bid them goodbye and said we would see them in Ocean Isle Beach when we both got back to our home base!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Recalls and Oil Changes-Knoxville

Headed to Knoxville, Tennessee to get our first engine oil/filter change done on the motorhome. We went to Cummins Crosspoint for the service. We had the generator oil and filter changed as well.

The Coach engine had a recall for a possible faulty wrist pin problem and the techs at Cummins did the recall for us the same day. It was a long day at the facility. When the work was complete, they ran a power cord out to us and let us stay in the side lot for the
night. We had a terrible rain storm that night and our entertainment was watching the water gush out of a roof gutter pipe and wash under our coach. Cummins is also right next to a train track and the train whistle kept us apprised of their location about once an hour, all night!

The following morning we started to leave and heard a high pitched whistle coming from the engine. We circled around and went back to Cummins. They found the boot going to the turbo was on cock-eyed causing the whistle. It was fixed by about noon. We ate lunch and headed out once again.

Got out of the parking lot and heard a very loud roar of air coming from the engine compartment. This time we went back and the Lead Tech road with us and said the engine sounded fine. He also said he just heard the fan running to cool the engine. I said the engine is cold, the fan should not be running. He agreed and told the tech that was working on the engine there must be a glitch in the software for the recall and to reset all the parameters manually in the computer. He got that done about an hour and a half later (Now 3pm in the afternoon) and finally, we were on our way across the mountain pass on Rt. 40 toward the Brevard area in North Carolina. The engine ran great over the mountains and we were, ultimately, pleased with the service.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Today we drove to the top of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I think Peg is trying to rid me of my fear of height, but it is not working!! Actually, the drive was not bad at all, but by the time we got up on the mountain, it was a bit chilly. Neither of us brought coats and I was in a tee shirt and shorts!

One of the pullover spots, Newfound Gap, is where you can stand on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina at the same time. So Peg wanted her picture doing just that! This is also the place that President Roosevelt dedicated with a monument on the hillside.

We drove on further to the end of the mountain road to a place called Clingman's Dome. You park and walk about 1/2 a mile to the top of the mountain and a concrete observation tower. Fortunately, the path is asphalt but it is a really steep climb. We stopped a couple of times but many people were stopping more than that. It was quite cold near the top so I guess I kept moving to keep semi-warm. A cold front was moving in and the winds started to pick up as well. Peg went to the top of the dome once on the mountain top and I made it half way up the concrete ramp then I decided it was too high for me! Peg took a few pictures from the dome of the ramp and the view, which was limited that day. A fellow "climber" took Peg's picture at the top of the dome! The walk back (downhill) was much easier!!

While at a rest area, we interviewed a hiker who was traveling 500 miles, on foot, along the Appalachian Trail. Not to be out done, I had to hike a few feet on the trail as well....And I have proof!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, Tennessee

We arrived at the Walden Creek Campground close to the heart of Pigeon Forge. We looked around Pigeon Forge, known for Dollywood, Dolly Pardon's mini Disneyland and a host of other attractions. We then took Rt. 441 to Gatlinburg. I think we like Gatlinburg better since it looks like a rustic, German town and all the shops were accessible by walking down any of the main streets.

We thought it would be cool to take the tram up to the top of the mountain so we boarded the tram called Ober Gatlinburg, meaning Over Gatlinburg! It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the mid 70's. The line waiting for the gondola was very long and we waited quite a while for our turn to board the tram. On top of the mountain were a variety of activities from an indoor ice skating rink to go-carts to a second chair lift going further up the mountain. Quite an impressive complex!

Peg did an on camera interview with Jim Davis from the tourism bureau for our American RVer show. He told us about the area and some of the things to see and do. We liked to wander around the town which was decorated for the Christmas season already. They had a trolley tour of the Christmas lights which we took one rainy night. Good thing it was enclosed. Tomorrow we head for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cumberland Gap/Jonesville, Virginia

Peg and I arrived at the home pad of Roy Estes and his dog Snert. Roy is also a full time RVer we had met at Buddy Gregg Motorhomes in Knoxville, TN. Roy had invited us to use his "pad" to hook up and visit, so we decided to take him up on that. Roy took us to a natural bridge in Jonesville and we hiked off the road and down to the creek bed and the natural wonder under the road. Peg posed for an exploration picture!!

We had an early Thanksgiving meal (Thanksgiving Dinner #2) on Saturday with Roy and his family in Kingsport, Virginia. We then went to
the Santa Parade in downtown Kingsport. This is a big event here and people were lined up along all the major streets in the town. This is one of the stops of the famous 'Santa Train' and people receive gifts and food from Santa's helpers on the train.

Roy took us to several places for breakfast and dinner and we enjoyed roaming around Jonesville where Roy's pad is. I even got to drive Roy's Monaco Windsor motorhome over to the Thanksgiving meal since he had just had a operation a few days earlier and was not suppose to drive for another day or so. We are heading to Pigeon Forge, TN from here for a weeks stay...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Natural Bridge, Virginia

Peg and I stopped at the Natural Stone Bridge in Virginia on our way down to the Cumberland Gap. My parents made this journey many years ago and I remember pictures of the Natural Bridge. Peg and I hiked down the 134 steps to the base of the hill where the walkway started towards the bridge. It is quite impressive! Even George Washington visited the bridge and climbed up 20 foot on the side of the rock to carve his initials into the stone for all to see! See picture on left.

Above the Natural Stone Bridge is part of the main highway to route 81 and we were joking about taking the RV over it to see if we end up in the river below. Wouldn't you know it, we actually did go over that road and there was no collapse from the weight of the RV!

In the river below the bridge, we found large trout swimming and having a great time playing in the water. There were rainbow trout and an albino looking fish that we assumed was also part of the trout family. They would get in the shallow part of the stream and scratch themselves on the rocks. Pretty cool to see! Can you see all the fish in the picture to the right?

We walked over to a replica of an Indian Village bordering the river that carved out the Natural Bridge. They had some folks there who told us a little about the village and the Indians who lived there. Since we wanted to get to the Cumberland Gap area before dark, we cut our exploration short and, after a quick lunch in the RV (which was in the parking lot), we headed down the road...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pennsylvania Dutch Country

We arrived at the White Oak Campground on Thursday, November 8th. For the next week, we did a variety of things in this "Land of the Amish". We were here primarily to visit with Peg's sister-in-law, Debbie, new husband Earl and all the nieces, nephews and their families. So Debbie decided to have an early Thanksgiving Dinner for all of us. It was great and all of the family were together at the same time.

That was November 11th which happened to be my birthday. The big 52 this year! Brien, Peg's nephew, had a birthday coming on Nov 17th and Peg's birthday is on November 18th so a cake was made to celebrate all three birthdays. A nice and unexpected topping to the day which consisted of food, talk and a good time.

At the campground, a jam session with local musicians took place and Peg and I decided to check it out. They mostly played country songs and some bluegrass and it was a nice treat on a cold, rainy day. Many of the neighbors to the campground came by to hear the tunes as they do every weekend.

Peg and I also included some work in this visit. We shot footage and did an interview for our
American RVer show at the visitor center for Lancaster and the Pennsylvania Dutch country. We then traveled around the county shooting "B" roll footage to go with the interview. We saw of lot of neat things including covered bridges (three of them actually) in some remote locations. We had to visit the Wilbur Chocolate Factory in Lititz, PA. We actually interviewed the manager for American RVer and we then took a tour of the facility. Of course we had to sample the inventory!!

The weather was turning colder so we decided to start our trek south and try to find some warmer weather. Heading to Virginia, near the Cumberland Gap next. On the way, we plan on stopping at the Natural Bridge, in Virginia......

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Auntie Marie and My Cousins

Our final visit in Connecticut was to my Auntie Marie's home. Had to use the GPS for this visit! We arrived at 3:00 pm and both my Auntie Marie and cousin Jim were home. It was great to see them both again. We caught up on whats been happening in both our lives. My aunt has had several surgeries in the past few years but she really looks good for her age (83 years young - Sorry Auntie Marie...).

My cousin Rose Marie (named after my mother Rose) arrived and she looked like she hasn't aged a day! She bears a striking resemblance to my mother. A short time later, my cousin Frank showed up and then my cousin Bob came home from work. What a surprise to see all my cousins together. Of course Peg and I were invited to dinner. What do you have at an Italian household for dinner. Lasagna and red wine of course!! The food and conversation was wonderful and I am so glad we stopped to say "hello". Auntie Marie has always been one of my favorite aunts!

After removing the ice from our slide awnings in the morning, we headed out for Pennsylvania. What the heck are we doing in the northeast at this time of year anyway???

Monday, November 5, 2007

Time to Contribute to the Casino

Well it was off to the Foxwoods Casino today. Yes we felt we would help them out and contribute our hard earned dollars to their cause. And we did! Foxwoods is pretty impressive for an establishment in the middle of nowhere. It looked kind of like a glass palace. There were actually three casinos housed in the same facility. They also have a theater, entertainment in the Atrium and many, many, MANY slot machines! We arrived at 12 noon and left about 9pm! No, we did not gamble all that time. We called Peg's cousins and were hanging out waiting for them to arrive and meet us for dinner.

Of course we had to kill some time by feeding the one arm bandits. Actually, most of the slot machines do not have "arms" anymore. I hate to say it but it took us a while to figure out how to play the slot machines. They were more complicated than I remember. You can not use single quarters, nickels, dimes anymore. You have to put in a $5 bill (minimum) to play. Interesting!

Peg's cousins, Marty and Linda arrived about dinner time and we all had dinner together at the Hard Rock Café, also housed in the Foxwoods building. This is quite a complex! Linda, thank you for the picture of our dinner with you and cousin Marty at the Hard Rock!

Tomorrow, we visit my Auntie Marie and all her children (my cousins), in Shelton, Ct.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Connecticut Visits...

We keep saying to people we meet, "Home is where we park it!" So...This time we parked our motorhome in Wales, Massachusetts. This is located close to the border of Connecticut. We decided this would be a good central point to do some visiting. We stayed at the Oak Haven campground and it became our home for a few days. We were the only campers in the park!

Peg and I wanted to visit my Aunt Irene in Putnam, Ct. Actually, Aunt Irene is really my 2nd cousin but we have always call her auntie! Her son, Dennis, wife Marilyn, sons Jeff and Mathew (and their two poodles, Jack and Ginger) live near her and we stopped by to see them all as well as Dennis' business. We heard (from other cousins) about Dennis the Cupola King! Had to check this out. It was a really nice visit and Dennis showed us his cupola shop and some examples of his work. Wow! What great work. He builds them for folks all over the country. Want a cupola? Check out the website at

We moved the RV into Connecticut to a campground called Aces High. It got its name from being close to the Indian run casinos (Foxwoods and Mohican Sun). The campground was nice and it actually had a few residents there. Not too many of us in New England with RV's this time of the year. It is definitely getting colder...

On Sunday Nov 4th, we visited with my cousins Bill and Lyndell for brunch at the Terra Mar restaurant located at a marina on the Connecticut River. What a great location and what great food. A over abundance of great food! We enjoyed the food and the conversation for several hours. It was nice seeing both of them and catching up on their lives and those of their family. We all went back to the motorhome for a "tour" before they headed back to their home. Even their dog, Dakota came along. Tomorrow, we head to the casino!!