Tennessee Part II: Nashville

We went to the middle of Tennessee for our second stop. It wouldn’t be right to spend a month in the Volunteer State and not see Nashville, so we found a campground at Percy Priest Lake on the east side of Music City. We stayed at a placed called Nashville Shores, a combination campground – water park- zip line tree top adventure park-marina. Luckily, the waterpark season had not started yet, so it was quiet and relaxing. If we had been guests of the campground when the water park was in full swing, I’m sure the sounds of screaming kiddos from dawn to dusk would have been a little much to take over the course of seven days.

We spent half of our time enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of the lake, and the other half exploring all the major attractions of Nashville. We had a great time when we were there.  Nashville is a beautiful city. It was funny how we overheard so many people comparing it to Austin while we were there.

A selfie at the Ryman.

A selfie at the Ryman.

We went to the early show at the Bluebird Café on our last night in Nashville. The place is tiny, and we did not have reservations. We got in line about an hour before the doors opened. There  24 people in front of us. We know this because they said they could take the first 24 in line, and they shut the door after the gentlemen in front of us passed through. We waited another 45 minutes at the door, and finally made it in when someone with reservations did not show up. The music was phenomenal, and the experience was fun too!

We went to the early show at the Bluebird Café on our last night in Nashville. The place is tiny, and we did not have reservations. We got in line about an hour before the doors opened. There were 24 people in front of us. We know this because they said they could take the first 24 in line, and they shut the door after the gentlemen in front of us passed through. We waited another 45 minutes at the door, and finally made it in when someone with reservations did not show up. The music was phenomenal, and the experience was fun too!

We spent a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon at the famous Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Kris Kristofferson signed one of the ceiling tiles above our bar stools. I took that at a good omen because I drool over that man. (Its okay, Mike knows).

We spent a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon at the famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. Kris Kristofferson signed one of the ceiling tiles above our bar stools. I took that as a good omen because I drool over that man. (Its okay, Mike knows).

The original Grand Ole Opry Stage. Tom Jones was playing a concert there while we were in town. We would have loved to have seen him, but we had already seen a show at the 'new' place in Opryland. Our fixed retirement income does not allow us to spend $250+ on concert tickets in one week. We took the self-guided tour instead. I did put a concert at the Ryman on my bucket list, though. I heard a docent telling another group that the acoustics in that building were second only to the Morman Tabernacle. I see a return trip to Nashville in my distant future.

The original Grand Ole Opry Stage. Tom Jones was playing a concert there while we were in town. We would have loved to have seen him, but we had already seen a show at the ‘new’ place in Opryland. Our fixed retirement income does not allow us to spend $250+ on concert tickets in one week. We took the self-guided tour instead. I did put a concert at the Ryman on my bucket list, though. I heard a docent telling another group that the acoustics in that building were second only to the Morman Tabernacle. I see a return trip to Nashville in my distant future.

The Ryman Auditorium. Thanks to Emmy Lou Harris for sparking its historic restoration and bringing it back to life.

The Ryman Auditorium. Thanks to Emmy Lou Harris for sparking its historic restoration and bringing it back to life.

The Rhinestone Cowboy went all out with the bling on the golf bag.

The Rhinestone Cowboy went all out with the bling on the golf bag.

It rained a bit while we were in Nashville. One morning during a storm we watched a skunk family transport their newborn babies from under a garbage bin by the bath house to their den in the woods. One had a fat white stripe down the top of its back, and its mate had two white stripes down the sides of its body. They ran back and forth in front of our window for more than an hour as they transported each baby skunk individually by the back of the neck in their mouths (like a mama dog carries a puppy). I was so thankful the dogs were inside the coach, and we could watch the nature show without fear of getting sprayed.

It rained a bit while we were in Nashville. One morning during a storm we watched a skunk family transport their newborn babies from under a garbage bin by the bath house to their den in the woods. One had a fat white stripe down the top of its back, and its mate had two white stripes down the sides of its body. They ran back and forth in front of our window for more than an hour as they transported each baby skunk individually by the back of the neck in their mouths (like a mama dog carries a puppy). I was so thankful the dogs were inside the coach, and we could watch the nature show without fear of getting sprayed.

The Grand Ole Opry in motion.

The Grand Ole Opry in motion.

That would be on of the most beautiful voices ever... Vince Gill.

That would be one of the most beautiful voices ever… Vince Gill.

I loved the lights in the lobby of the Grand Ole Opry. They shimmered above the crowd in various shades of red, and reminded me of a dangling microphone.

I loved the lights in the lobby of the Grand Ole Opry. They shimmered above the crowd in various shades of red, and reminded me of a dangling microphone.

A Friday afternoon view of Percy Priest Lake from our spot at Nashville Shores.

A Friday afternoon view of Percy Priest Lake from our spot at Nashville Shores.

The Parthenon in Centennial Park is the only full-scale replica of the original Athenian masterpiece in the United States.

The Parthenon in Centennial Park is the only full-scale replica of the original Athenian masterpiece in the United States.

No big deal... only a man completely covered in silver paint meandering along the streets of downtown Nashville.

No big deal… only a man completely covered in silver paint meandering along the streets of downtown Nashville.

We could have spent an entire day at the Country Music Hall of Fame. The exhibits were all so interesting and informative. I also love how the building is reminiscent of piano keys.

We could have spent an entire day at the Country Music Hall of Fame. The exhibits were all so interesting and informative. I also love how the building is reminiscent of piano keys.

We loved the fact that there was live music in downtown Nashville at all hours of the day and night. We got to have our pub crawl AND be home in time to watch the evening news!

We loved the fact that there was live music in downtown Nashville at all hours of the day and night. We got to have our pub crawl AND be home in time to watch the evening news!

The Tennessee State Capitol Building was smaller than I expected.

The Tennessee State Capitol Building was smaller than I expected.

The Grand Ole Opry at Opryland. A giant perk about the location adjacent to a giant mall? There was a Chuy's Restaurant, so we got some REAL Tex-Mex after the show. YUM!

The Grand Ole Opry at Opryland. A giant perk about the location adjacent to a giant mall? There was a Chuy’s Restaurant, so we got some REAL Tex-Mex after the show. YUM!

The view from our dining room window during out week at Nashville Shores.

The view from our dining room window during out week at Nashville Shores.

The first spot we were assigned to at Nashville Shores was miniscule. We after we got parked, I took the dogs and scouted out other possible spots that we might move to. When we got back to the Monaco, we lucked out because Mike had discovered that the water faucet leaked when he started hooking us up. We had the perfect excuse for asking to move spots. They said yes, and we picked #20 on the end. With the fence around the perimeter, we ended up with our own 'yard' for the dogs!

The first spot we were assigned to at Nashville Shores was miniscule. After we got parked, I took the dogs and scouted out other possible spots that we might move to. When we got back to the Monaco, we lucked out because Mike had discovered that the water faucet leaked when he started hooking us up. We had the perfect excuse for asking to move spots. They said yes, and we picked #20 on the end. With the fence around the perimeter, we ended up with our own ‘yard’ for the dogs!

Tennessee Part I: Lenoir City

We started our month in Tennessee on the eastern side of the state at Lazy Acres RV Park in Lenoir City, which sits on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, and is also located about 30 miles south of Knoxville.

During our two weeks at this location, we went into Knoxville a few times. The Annual Dogwood Festival was in full swing, so we drove through some beautiful neighborhoods with bright gardens on display. We also went back on a Saturday for a downtown street festival featuring 5 stages of musical performances (we ended up hanging out by the Opera stage).

We also took a drive to our east one day, and visited the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. I would not put the two tourist towns on my list of places to revisit, but the Smoky Mountains themselves were spectacular.

On another daytrip we drove 90 miles south to see Lookout Mountain and Downtown Chattanooga. Rock City and Lookout Mountain were the same place: an amazing geological rock formation high on a mountain outside of Chattanooga. We accidentally went on the Saturday of the Easter Holiday weekend, so it was PACKED with tourists. I think we would have enjoyed ourselves much more if we had chosen to visit on an ‘off’ Monday morning -when there might be fewer tour buses in the parking lot. Downtown Chattanooga was a nice city center on the banks of the Tennessee River. We had a good time walking around the public parks and busy streets before we settled for lunch on the patio at Hair of the Dog Pub.

I’m keeping with my new “picture book format” on the blog, so the rest of our story from this stop is highlighted by the photos and captions below.

There was a marina with a restaurant near our campground in Lenoir City. It was the perfect place to grab a meal with a view on a clear day.

There was a marina with a restaurant near our campground in Lenoir City. It was the perfect place to grab a meal with a view on a clear day.

This parking garage in downtown Chattanooga had a rock climbing wall on its exterior. We both thought that was a very clever use of usually ugly urban space.

This parking garage in downtown Chattanooga had a rock climbing wall on its exterior. We both thought that was a very clever use of usually ugly urban space.

There were all kind of characters at Rock City, we thought this smokin' rock was humorous.

There were all kind of characters at Rock City, we thought this smokin’ rock was humorous.

Mike was extremely adamant about getting my picture in this exact spot while we toured Rock City. I don't think the sign that happens to be above my head is a coincidence... If you can't read it, it says "evil queen lurking".

Mike was extremely adamant about getting my picture in this exact spot while we toured Rock City. I don’t think the sign that happens to be above my head is a coincidence… If you can’t read it, it says “evil queen lurking”.

The weather was overcast and misty when we visited Lookout Mountain, but at least we made it to the place where seven states were out in the distance before us. The view was quite remarkable, despite the limitations.

The weather was overcast and misty when we visited Lookout Mountain, but at least we made it to the place where seven states were out in the distance before us. The view was quite remarkable, despite the limitations.

I don't particularly like high places... or at least the edges of them, so Mike had to take all the pictures looking down.

I don’t particularly like high places… or at least the edges of them, so Mike had to take all the pictures looking down.

Henry, the social and free-roaming cat, lived next door to us at Lazy Acres RV Park. Piper parked himself by the front door at all times we were at home and inside, in desperate anticipation of a sighting.

Henry, the social and free-roaming cat, lived next door to us at Lazy Acres RV Park. Piper parked himself by the front door at all times we were at home and inside, in desperate anticipation of a sighting.

We did a lot of hiking through the woods in East Tennessee. Since the dogwoods were in full bloom when we arrived, this is the type of vista we would see when the trails came close to the water.

We did a lot of hiking through the woods in East Tennessee. Since the dogwoods were in full bloom when we arrived, this is the type of vista we would see when the trails came close to the water.

We usually had the public trails all to ourselves for our afternoon walks. The dogs got great exercise on this leg of our trip.

We usually had the public trails all to ourselves for our afternoon walks. The dogs got great exercise on this leg of our trip.

I've learned it is not so uncommon to stumble upon a random stone fireplace in the middle of the woods.

I’ve learned it is not so uncommon to stumble upon a random stone fireplace in the middle of the woods.

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge were giant tourist traps, but the natural lands in the Great Smoky Mountains were incredible.

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge were giant tourist traps, but the natural lands in the Great Smoky Mountains were incredible.

I didn't realize there would be so much flowing water in the Great Smoky Mountains.

I didn’t realize there would be so much flowing water in the Great Smoky Mountains.

This picture taken through the windshield does not adequately reflect the beauty of our drive into the Great Smoky Mountains.

This picture taken through the windshield does not adequately reflect the beauty of our drive into the Great Smoky Mountains.

Fort Loudoun Lake (part of the Tennessee River), was just through the woods at Lazy Acres RV Park. We could see the water through the trees when we arrived, but the leaves were budding so fast, the view was almost completely blocked by fresh green foliage by the time we left two weeks later.

Fort Loudoun Lake (part of the Tennessee River), was just through the woods at Lazy Acres RV Park. We could see the water through the trees when we arrived, but the leaves were budding so fast, the view was almost completely blocked by fresh green foliage by the time we left two weeks later.

We visited Knoxville during the famous Dogwood Trails. Lucky Mike got to drive around with me all afternoon looking at pretty trees in quaint neighborhoods. He had a blast... that is what I told him.

We visited Knoxville during the famous Dogwood Trails. Lucky Mike got to drive around with me all afternoon looking at pretty trees in quaint neighborhoods. He had a blast… that is what I told him.

I don't even know what kind of pink tree this is. It looks like a giant cotton candy statue.

I don’t even know what kind of pink tree this is. It looks like a giant cotton candy statue.

It was very weird to be on campus of UT and be strangers! The Volunteers' campus is adjacent to downtown, and their stadium sits right on the Tennessee River.

It was very weird to be on campus of UT and be strangers! The Volunteers’ campus is adjacent to downtown, and their stadium sits right on the Tennessee River.

We were surprised dogs were allowed at Rock City and on Lookout Mountain. Piper and Cessna enjoyed their tour of the caves and crevices.

We were surprised dogs were allowed at Rock City and on Lookout Mountain. Piper and Cessna enjoyed their tour of the caves and crevices.

A wonderful fountain of cannons on the river in Chattanooga. (At least I think they are cannons).

A wonderful fountain of cannons on the river in Chattanooga. (At least I think they are cannons).

A dramatic waterfall flows down the side of Lookout Mountain. I can't believe this was once someone's private property!

A dramatic waterfall flows down the side of Lookout Mountain. I can’t believe this was once someone’s private property!

Georgia Part IV: Atlanta (Norcross)

We really couldn’t scratch Georgia off of our Lower 48 in 48 list without visiting Atlanta, so our last stop in the Peach State was a mobile home and trailer park in an east side hood of Atlanta. The place was clean, the location was convenient, and the rent was about $20 per night. Our reservation was only for one week, and we planned to be busy seeing things in the center of town during out stay, so it worked out just fine.

The Atlanta Symphony hosts an early evening mini-concert on Friday nights. It was the perfect excuse for a date night.

The Atlanta Symphony hosts an early evening mini-concert on Friday nights. It was the perfect excuse for a date night.

There was not much to look at in our trailer park in the 'hood, but our front window faced directly west and we had a good show each night as dusk approached.

There was not much to look at in our trailer park in the ‘hood, but our front window faced directly west and we had a good show each night as dusk approached.

The tulips were just past their peak when we visited The Botanical Gardens.

The tulips were just past their peak when we visited The Botanical Gardens.

I was in LOVE with the Atlanta Botanical Garden's Dale Chihuly sculpture inside the fountain at the center of a tulip display. Every time I drag Mike on a daytrip to a fancy garden, he always asks if he gets credit for being on a 'date'.

I was in LOVE with the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Dale Chihuly sculpture inside the fountain at the center of a tulip display. Every time I drag Mike on a daytrip to a fancy garden, he always asks if he gets credit for being on a ‘date’.

The surprise of the trip was Stone Mountain, Georgia. We ended up visiting 3 or 4 times during our time in Atlanta. It was the whole package: hiking, fishing, golfing, restaurants and more attractions too numerous to list.

The surprise of the trip was Stone Mountain, Georgia. We ended up visiting 3 or 4 times during our time in Atlanta. It was the whole package: hiking, fishing, golfing, restaurants and more attractions too numerous to list.

Stone Mountain sites 1,686 feet above the surrounding area, and it measures a 5-mile circumference at its base. We completed the circle with the dogs one beautiful afternoon.

Stone Mountain sits 1,686 feet above the surrounding area, and it measures a 5-mile circumference at its base. We completed the circle with the dogs one beautiful afternoon.

 

Mike and I took the tram to the top of the mountain one afternoon after he played golf.

Mike and I took the tram to the top of the mountain one afternoon after he played golf.

We drove over to Athens on a Saturday and stumbled upon their annual International Festival.

We drove over to Athens on a Saturday and stumbled upon their annual International Festival.

A view of Stone Mountain and the lake from inside the tram.

A view of Stone Mountain and the lake from inside the tram.

There are two 18-hole golf courses at Stone Mountain. Mike got a tee time one morning, so I rode along with him for the first nine. Then the dogs and I took a long walk over to the campground area while he finished the second nine. In retrospect, Stone Mountain would have been a great place to camp during out stay near Atlanta. They had a large campground with full hook-ups available, but we didn't know anything about the place when we were looking for campgrounds in the area.

There are two 18-hole golf courses at Stone Mountain. Mike got a tee time one morning, so I rode along with him for the first nine. Then the dogs and I took a long walk over to the campground area while he finished the second nine. In retrospect, Stone Mountain would have been a great place to camp during out stay near Atlanta. They had a large campground with full hook-ups available, but we didn’t know anything about the place when we were looking for campgrounds in the area.

Mike took this picture of a giant metal butterfly while we were lost in the children's section of the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Mike took this picture of a giant metal butterfly while we were lost in the children’s section of the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

The carving on the side of Stone Mountain is the largest bas relief sculpture in the world. It features three leaders of the Confederate States of America: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. The entire carved surface measures 3 -acres, and is 400- feet above ground. The measurements are 90' x 190' and it is recessed 42- feet into the mountain.

The carving on the side of Stone Mountain is the largest bas relief sculpture in the world. It features three leaders of the Confederate States of America: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. The entire carved surface measures 3 -acres, and is 400- feet above ground. The measurements are 90′ x 190′ and it is recessed 42- feet into the mountain.

A semi-clear view of the land below Stone Mountain.

A semi-clear view of the land below Stone Mountain.

Mike enjoyed the flowers on our 'date', and even snapped some shots himself. I told him I appreciated him coming with me on the daytrip, even though the attraction wouldn't have been his first choice. He told me it was better than sitting on the couch home alone. Such the romantic one that I married.

Mike enjoyed the flowers on our ‘date’, and even snapped some shots himself. I told him I appreciated him coming with me on the daytrip, even though the attraction wouldn’t have been his first choice. He told me it was better than sitting on the couch home alone. Such the romantic one that I married.

I swear this blimp was following us during the first part of our week in Atlanta. It was hovering over Stone Mountain when we took the dogs to walk around its base. Then the next day it was hovering over the Atlanta Botanical Gardens as we strolled along the grounds. On the third day of our stop we went back to Stone Mountain for golfing, and there it was again. We think the pilots were practicing before the Masters Tournament in Augusta started on the upcoming weekend.

I swear this blimp was following us during the first part of our week in Atlanta. It was hovering over Stone Mountain when we took the dogs to walk around its base. Then the next day it was hovering over the Atlanta Botanical Gardens as we strolled along the grounds. On the third day of our stop we went back to Stone Mountain for golfing, and there it was again. We think the pilots were practicing before the Masters Tournament in Augusta started on the upcoming weekend.

The orchid display at Atlanta Botanical Gardens was amazing.

The orchid display at Atlanta Botanical Gardens was amazing.

Georgia Part III: Ashburn

We intended to stay in Macon during our third stop in Georgia. It just so happens that our financial advisors are located there, and we wanted to have a meeting to review our investment accounts. However, as Mike started researching possible campgrounds in the area, we learned everything was booked. We found out later that was because the dates of our visit coincided with the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. We settled on a Golf and RV Resort in Ashburn, which is about 90 miles south of Macon. The park was nothing to write home about, but the rates were good and Mike could play golf on the 9-hole course for free.

We drove into Macon one day for our meeting with the wealth management people, then found our way to downtown to have a late lunch before making the drive back home. We wanted to walk the dogs around the streets of the city center to get some exercise and see the area, but most of the buildings were dilapidated and the large numbers of homeless people made it seem not-so-safe. After exploring only a few blocks, we selected one of the two restaurants with an outdoor patio and had some bar food.

On another day, I drove over to a salon in Albany. Mike had given me a spa day for my birthday, so I redeemed my gift by getting a manicure, pedicure, facial and haircut. While chatting with the owner- hair stylist I asked if Mike and I should make the drive back over to explore their downtown or anything. Her response was that in reality, it wouldn’t even be safe for us to do that. Wow!

Jimmy Carter’s birthplace was also nearby in Plains, but we didn’t go there either. We basically just stayed near our camp and kept busy with golfing and campfires. It was a very low key week.

The cherry blossoms were bright with blooms in downtown Macon.

The cherry blossoms were bright with blooms in downtown Macon.

A view of our site at the Golf & RV Park. Not much to look at... but the price was right, the golf was free, and the dogs got a good walk each morning.

A view of our site at the Golf & RV Park. Not much to look at… but the price was right, the golf was free, and the dogs got a good walk each morning.

A view from one of our morning walks before any golfers got out on the course.

A view from one of our morning walks before any golfers got out on the course.

Mike tried to catch a couple of fish in the pond when he wasn't golfing, but no luck.

Mike tried to catch a couple of fish in the pond when he wasn’t golfing, but no luck.

 

Georgia Part II: Brunswick

After Savannah, we planned to make our way north through Georgia, and end up in Tennessee after we crossed this state off of our list. However, we really weren’t ready to leave the shore just yet… especially when spring weather was finally warming things up a bit. We studied the map and  decided to stay near the beach for a little while longer. After several phone calls, Mike found us a reservation at Coastal Georgia RV Park in Brunswick. We kept our compass on a southern heading and made a short easy drive down I-95.

Near the fishing pier at Jekyll Island State Park.

Near the fishing pier at Jekyll Island State Park.

I would love to see the house behind this private entrance off the beach on Jekyll Island!

I would love to see the house behind this private entrance off the beach on Jekyll Island!

One of the two marinas on Jekyll Island. Mike and I discussed which ones would be livable over happy hour one afternoon. He is not as intrigued as I am about carrying our adventure over onto the water. Too much maintenance on a boat, he says.

One of the two marinas on Jekyll Island. Mike and I discussed which ones would be livable over happy hour one afternoon. He is not as intrigued as I am about carrying our adventure over onto the water. Too much maintenance on a boat, he says.

As our trip has unfolded I have added a few choice hotels to my "want to stay" list. The Jekyll Island Club Hotel is the latest entry to that list.

As our trip has unfolded I have added a few choice hotels to my “want to stay” list. The Jekyll Island Club Hotel is the latest entry to that list.

A portion of the beach in the state park section of Jekyll Island.

A portion of the beach in the state park section of Jekyll Island.

There were some fancy jets lined up for departure on the runway as we passed by the airport on St. Simon's Island.

There were some fancy jets lined up for departure on the runway as we passed by the airport on St. Simon’s Island.

Mike played 9 holes at one of the courses on Jekyll Island. The dogs and I dropped him off, then we walked on the beach and did some shopping before meeting him back at the course.

Mike played 9 holes at one of the courses on Jekyll Island. The dogs and I dropped him off, then we walked on the beach and did some shopping before meeting him back at the course.

The first time Mike caught a speckled catfish in the tiny lake near our campground in Brunswick, he threw it back because it looked too ugly to eat. After he talked to an old-timer in the area, he learned they were tasty... so he kept and cleaned the next batch!

The first time Mike caught a speckled catfish in the tiny lake near our campground in Brunswick, he threw it back because it looked too ugly to eat. After he talked to an old-timer in the area, he learned they were tasty… so he kept and cleaned the next batch!

This shady park on St. Simon's Island was once a native American burial ground.

This shady park on St. Simon’s Island was once a native American burial ground.

piper on deck

There were baby hatchling turtles in the dunes near the beach on Jekyll Island. Piper was keeping his eye out to spot one.

It was gloomy and grey during our daytrip to St. Simon's Island, but I still wanted to see what the beach looked like while we were there.

It was gloomy and grey during our daytrip to St. Simon’s Island, but I still wanted to see what the beach looked like while we were there.

The sky was crystal clear with a bright warm sun shining, so we thought that was perfect for a beach day. Uuhhmmm... The breeze was quite chilly down by the water.

The sky was crystal clear with a bright warm sun shining, so we thought that was perfect for a beach day. Uuhhmmm… The breeze was quite chilly down by the water.

Jekyll Island selfie.

Jekyll Island selfie.

We were spoiled after our last two stops at James Island County Park and Skidaway Island State Park. Not much of a view, and the spots were VERY tight at this RV 'resort'. However, it was clean, they had a pool and a dog park, and Mike could fish - so it worked out just fine.

We were spoiled after our last two stops at James Island County Park and Skidaway Island State Park. Not much of a view, and the spots were VERY tight at this RV ‘resort’. However, it was clean, they had a pool and a dog park, and Mike could fish – so it worked out just fine.

The sunset on Jekyll Island as we enjoyed a Low Country Shrimp boil after a fun day at the beach.

The sunset on Jekyll Island as we enjoyed a Low Country Shrimp boil after a fun day at the beach.

Georgia Part I: Skidaway Island

I’ve wanted to visit Savannah since I read ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ many years ago. When we left Charleston, we stayed in the Low Country and moved south down Highway 17 until we reached the oldest city in the Peach State. When we arrived at Skidaway Island State Park, I knew it was going to be a great week. The park was beautiful, our site was super roomy, and we were only about 25 minutes from the center of Savannah. We were also fairly close to Tybee Island and Hilton Head Island (back in South Carolina). Between our lazy days exploring the park trails and day trips to the city and the shore, our 8 days that made up our first stop in Georgia flew by in the blink of an eye.

As we crossed over the Diamond Causeway on the outskirts of Savannah, we knew we were headed to Skidaway Island State Park. We did not know that Skidaway Island is listed as one of the most affluent communities in the United States. All of the homes there are located in a gated community called The Legends - one of the largest gated communities in the country. Mike did some research and found out that membership in the neighborhood will get you access to six 18-hole golf courses. As we rode our bikes along the streets, taking in the scenery of beautiful homes and lush landscapes, I continued to assure Mike that this is somewhere I could end up living. His response: too many gnats.

As we crossed over the Diamond Causeway on the outskirts of Savannah, we knew we were headed to Skidaway Island State Park. We did not know that Skidaway Island is listed as one of the most affluent communities in the United States. All of the homes there are located in a gated community called The Legends – one of the largest gated communities in the country. Mike did some research and found out that membership in the neighborhood will get you access to six 18-hole golf courses. As we rode our bikes along the streets, taking in the scenery of beautiful homes and lush landscapes, I continued to assure Mike that this is somewhere I could end up living. His response: too many gnats.

This is our little corner of the 10-top table during our lunch at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. There were 22 different dishes to pile onto our plates. If we ran out of anything the cheerful servers brought new piping hot bowls of replacements. Off the top of my head I recall we were served: fried chicken, bbq pork roast, beef stew, mashed potatoes, gravy, rice, creamed corn, baked beans, squash casserole, sweet potatoes, collard greens, lima beans, black eyed peas, fresh buttermilk biscuits or corn bread squares with sorghum syrup, mac & cheese, rice, cucumber salad, banana pudding, peach cobbler, sweet tea...We obviously went home for a nap after lunch.

This is our little corner of the 10-top table during our lunch at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. There were 22 different dishes to pile onto our plates. If we ran out of anything the cheerful servers brought new piping hot bowls of replacements. Off the top of my head I recall we were served: fried chicken, bbq pork roast, beef stew, mashed potatoes, gravy, rice, creamed corn, baked beans, squash casserole, sweet potatoes, collard greens, lima beans, black eyed peas, fresh buttermilk biscuits or corn bread squares with sorghum syrup, mac & cheese, rice, cucumber salad, banana pudding, peach cobbler, sweet tea…We obviously went home for a nap after lunch.

We were happy in this photo because we had only been standing in Mrs. Wilkes dinner line for about an hour and 15 minutes... and we could finally see the door!

We were happy in this photo because we had only been standing in Mrs. Wilkes dinner line for about an hour and 15 minutes… and we could finally see the door!

My mom's friend Sugar suggested we eat at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room while we were in Savannah. After some online research, it was obvious it was a 'not to miss' destination during our time in this part of Georgia. We ended up sharing lunch with four people from Indiana (who really didn't have any proper manners at all), two local school teachers on spring break, and another couple who were also visitors in the area.

My mom’s friend Sugar suggested we eat at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room while we were in Savannah. After some online research, it was obvious it was a ‘not to miss’ destination during our time in this part of Georgia. We ended up sharing lunch with four people from Indiana (who really didn’t have any proper manners at all), two local school teachers on spring break, and another couple who were also visitors in the area.

The multitude of parks in Savannah are certainly what gives the city so much of its personality. Forsyth Park is the largest of all the central community parks. I dropped Mike to the Army Air Base Golf Course and came here to wander around and people watch. It was lovely.

The multitude of parks in Savannah are certainly what gives the city so much of its personality. Forsyth Park is the largest of all the central community parks. I dropped Mike to the Army Air Base Golf Course and came here to wander around and people watch. It was lovely.

I was mesmerized by the Spanish Moss in the Low Country. It was eerie and soothing all at the same time. The landscape almost shimmered around us as the gentle breezes helped the lacy strands sway from the tree limbs. It also seemed to change colors based on the time of day or what the sky was doing.

I was mesmerized by the Spanish Moss in the Low Country. It was eerie and soothing all at the same time. The landscape almost shimmered around us as the gentle breezes helped the lacy strands sway from the tree limbs. It also seemed to change colors based on the time of day or what the sky was doing.

We stumbled upon this fountain down by Savannah's riverfront. You might be able to see it features green water. Almost all of the fountains in the central part of the city had green water flowing from them, as we were there the week before St. Patrick's Day.

We stumbled upon this fountain down by Savannah’s riverfront. You might be able to see it features green water. Almost all of the fountains in the central part of the city had green water flowing from them, as we were there the week before St. Patrick’s Day.

The marsh lands around Skidaway from a hike on one of the park's numerous nature trails.

The marsh lands around Skidaway from a hike on one of the park’s numerous nature trails.

Tybee Island is 'Savannah's Beach', about 20 minutes from the center of town. Tybee is a small beach community with a small inventory of single family homes. There were no high rise condos to be found, which made the place seem like someone's home town instead of a tourist destination. While were there, we had a couple of drinks and snacks on the patio of Sting Ray's Seafood Restaurant. Then we moved down the street to AJ's Dockside Restaurant (where this photo was taken) for a fresh fish and shrimp dinner.

Tybee Island is ‘Savannah’s Beach’, about 20 minutes from the center of town. Tybee is a small beach community with a small inventory of single family homes. There were no high rise condos to be found, which made the place seem like someone’s home town instead of a tourist destination. While were there, we had a couple of drinks and snacks on the patio of Sting Ray’s Seafood Restaurant. Then we moved down the street to AJ’s Dockside Restaurant (where this photo was taken) for a fresh fish and shrimp dinner.

The Spanish Moss using the sun and shadows to paint abstract images on the lawn below in another one of Savannah's beautiful parks.

The Spanish Moss using the sun and shadows to paint abstract images on the lawn below in another one of Savannah’s beautiful parks.

The spring break season was getting underway during our beach day on Hilton Head Island.

The spring break season was getting underway during our beach day on Hilton Head Island.

This was a wonderful state park and we are so happy we were able to get a reservation there. Due to their reservation calendar, we could only stay 8 nights. We would have happily stayed the maximum two weeks - if the calendar would have allowed. Any one who loves camping (from tents to motor coaches) should put this spot on their list of intended destinations.

This was a wonderful state park and we are so happy we were able to get a reservation there. Due to their reservation calendar, we could only stay 8 nights. We would have happily stayed the maximum two weeks – if the calendar would have allowed. Any one who loves camping (from tents to motor coaches) should put this spot on their list of intended destinations.

I promise this is my last picture of the oaks and palms draped in moss. Isn't it beautiful, though!

I promise this is my last picture of the oaks and palms draped in moss. Isn’t it beautiful, though!

I was surprised that we were allowed to take photos of Savannah's Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, but also very happy about it. The central altar was magnificent. As was the rest of the interior with its bright colors, natural stones, stained glass, and an enormous organ in the choir loft. I'm sorry I didn't make time to attend a mass there. It would have been very inspiring.

I was surprised that we were allowed to take photos of Savannah’s Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, but also very happy about it. The central altar was magnificent. As was the rest of the interior with its bright colors, natural stones, stained glass, and an enormous organ in the choir loft. I’m sorry I didn’t make time to attend a mass there. It would have been very inspiring.

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist seems to be gigantic as it sits across from a park on the tiny streets of Savannah.

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist seems to be gigantic as it sits across from a park on the tiny streets of Savannah.

The camping spots at Skidaway Island State Park were so spacious. There was plenty of space between us and our neighbors. This might have been the largest camping spot we have had since the Lower 48 in 48 Tour began.

The camping spots at Skidaway Island State Park were so spacious. There was plenty of space between us and our neighbors. This might have been the largest camping spot we have had since the Lower 48 in 48 Tour began.

South Carolina Part II: Charleston

We stayed at James Island County Park near Charleston for about 10 days during the end of February and beginning of March. This campground was the nicest county park we have stayed in since our trip began. The camping section was only a small part of the massive green space. There were miles of walking trails, a small lake for kayaking and paddle boating, an enormous dog park, a water park that was still closed for winter, a fishing pier, disc golf, a climbing wall, picnic areas, playgrounds and much more. Another great thing about camping here was that we were only about 15 minutes from downtown Charleston and about 20 minutes from Folly Beach.

Since I’m so far behind on our blog, this post is going to be picture-book style. The short report is that we had a great time here and I would come back in a heart beat for another visit to Charleston. The combination of vast history, wonderful architecture, beautiful streets and public spaces, excellent shopping, and world class restaurants – all set to the beautiful backdrop of a bustling harbor – means there was not enough time to see and do everything there was to offer. The photos below represent some of the highlights, but are not in chronological order.

The carriage rides in downtown Charleston are pulled by horses and mules. Our excursion was pulled by two mules. This magnificent beast was on break near the stable area where we started our tour.

The carriage rides in downtown Charleston are pulled by horses and mules. Our excursion was pulled by two mules. This magnificent beast was on break near the stable area where we started our tour.

The mascot of the James Island County Park Campground is the owl. During Christmas, a world- class tour of lights is apparently showcased throughout the park. They said the owl stays illuminated all year round at the campground entrance.

The mascot of the James Island County Park Campground is the owl. During Christmas, a world- class tour of lights is apparently showcased throughout the park. They said the owl stays illuminated all year round at the campground entrance.

Historic homes on this waterfront edge of downtown Charleston are the reason rambling around town on foot is so much fun. The scenery is amazing.

Historic homes on this waterfront edge of downtown Charleston are the reason rambling around town on foot is so much fun. The scenery is amazing.

We joined the other tourists and took a carriage ride through the oldest parts of town.

We joined the other tourists and took a carriage ride through the oldest parts of town.

One of the many quaint bridges among the ponds at Magnolia Gardens Plantation.

One of the many quaint bridges among the ponds at Magnolia Gardens Plantation.

Drayton Hall Plantation on the Ashley River enjoyed seven generations of the Drayton family before it was sold to The National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Drayton Hall Plantation on the Ashley River enjoyed seven generations of the Drayton family before it was sold to The National Trust for Historic Preservation.

We were the last tour to Fort Sumter that afternoon. The tides were starting to change around the island as we boarded the ferry for the return trip across Charleston Harbor.

We were the last tour to Fort Sumter that afternoon. The tides were starting to change around the island as we boarded the ferry for the return trip across Charleston Harbor.

A section of the many miles of walking/biking paths at James Island County Park.

A section of the many miles of walking/biking paths at James Island County Park.

We slept comfortably in the Walmart parking lot before our drive to Charleston. I was glad it was a super center because I got to stock us up on groceries and supplies in between dinner and bedtime.

We slept comfortably in the Walmart parking lot before our drive to Charleston. I was glad it was a super center because I got to stock us up on groceries and supplies in between dinner and bedtime.

In Charleston Harbor on the way to Fort Sumter.

In Charleston Harbor on the way to Fort Sumter.

It was a beautiful day to take a 30-minute ferry ride across Charleston Harbor to Fort Sumter.

It was a beautiful day to take a 30-minute ferry ride across Charleston Harbor to Fort Sumter.

There was a yard animal section at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. This male peacock was putting on a serious show for a particular female. He didn't care at all that three humans were standing this close to him. A teenage deer was eating a camera case hanging from the shoulder of the woman next me when this picture was taken.

There was a yard animal section at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. This male peacock was putting on a serious show for a particular female. He didn’t care at all that three humans were standing this close to him. A teenage deer was eating a camera case hanging from the shoulder of the woman next me when this picture was taken.

It is easy to feel like you have slipped back into another time zone when visiting Charleston.

It is easy to feel like you have slipped back into another time zone when visiting Charleston.

The pineapple fountain at the Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston seemed so welcoming!

The pineapple fountain at the Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston seemed so welcoming!

Looking back across the boardwalk over the marsh to the walking trails at James Island County park.

Looking back across the boardwalk over the marsh to the walking trails at James Island County park.

From the fishing Pier at James Island County Park.

From the fishing Pier at James Island County Park.

Spring is coming, the flip flops are out of the closet!

Spring is coming, the flip flops are out of the closet!

The churches in Charleston are each uniquely distinctive.

The churches in Charleston are each uniquely distinctive.

Fort Sumter selfie.

Fort Sumter selfie.

The surf at Folly Beach.

The surf at Folly Beach.

The County Park section of Folly Beach.

The County Park section of Folly Beach.

I got tired of worrying about keeping my hair colored during this trip. Solution: find Serendipity Salon on Broad Street, and ask the owner/stylist to cut it all off to where the grown out dye and low lights it meet the grey.

I got tired of worrying about keeping my hair colored during this trip. Solution: find Serendipity Salon on Broad Street, and ask the owner/stylist to cut it all off to where the grown out dye and low lights it meet the grey.

Not much spacing between these ancient Charleston homes.

Not much spacing between these ancient Charleston homes.

A view from Charleston's famous Broad Street.

A view from Charleston’s famous Broad Street.

 

 

North Carolina Part III: Lake Norman

You probably know we discovered a mysterious leak in our ceiling around the beginning of December when we were in Suffolk, Virginia.  When the clouds opened up, rain came in through the air-conditioning vent that was located inside the ‘media cabinet’ over the co-pilot’s chair. This is the cupboard that holds the satellite dish box, and where our surround-sound stereo with more than 230 CD’s are stored. We are realistic enough to know an RV automatically comes with frequent repair issues. However, this leak was driving Mike CRAZY. Rain is not as soothing and relaxing when it happens INSIDE your house. I was beginning to loath the weather segment on the local nightly news. When rain was forecast, Mike became somber and irritated. He lost countless hours of sleep worrying over the fact that we didn’t know where the water was coming from and we didn’t know how much damage the unwelcome water was doing in the hidden sections of our ceiling. Mold and rot. These were the things we focused on when the skies were cloudy. Something had to be done.

We had visited a couple of repair places in between stops as we moved through Virginia and North Carolina, but no one we had talked to was equipped to help us with the problem. Then Mike had an idea! We bought this coach through a broker who is a native of the Carolinas. Maybe Mr. Joel Elmore had an idea on who could help us with this issue.  Mike sent him a text and we had a name in 5 minutes. Our friend Joel gave us the name and contact number of his buddy Kevin Dunn of Complete RV in Denver, N.C., just outside of Charlotte. We were about 2.5 hours from there. Time for a detour. We had already scratched the Tar Heel State off the Lower 48 in 48 Tour, but we immediately decided we were going back. Mike placed a call to Complete RV and scheduled a slot for us on their calendar.

We wanted to arrive at the Dunn’s shop when they opened first thing on a Monday morning.  To achieve this, we pulled out of Magnolia RV Park & Campground just after 2 on a Sunday. Our destination was the Flying J Truck Stop outside of Charlotte.  I am getting used to sleeping with the truckers! We planned to sleep near our destination on the previous night and have a stress-less morning on the last leg of our trip to the shop. We are getting good at this, because everything played out as intended! We pulled into the parking lot before the other truckers stopped for the night. Found a good spot at the end of a row where we could push out the slides on the passenger side. We watched the evening news, ate dinner, walked the dogs and got pretty good sleep. In the morning we had some breakfast at the Denny’s inside the gas station, and were back on the road by 8:30. We even beat the owner to his own shop that morning!

The folks at Complete RV were great. Mike’s basic requests were to find and fix the leak (please, God); install a new Traveler Satellite on top of the bus (the leak had ruined the cables in the previous one, so it was time to upgrade to an HD version); and fix the heat in our bedroom. They assured us that everything could be done within one week, if we moved out and left it with them. The only snag was that the satellite would be shipped to the repair shop from Atlanta, and the 2014 Winter Vortex was predicted to cover up Charlotte in snow and ice during midweek. If the weather impacted the UPS delivery schedule, our repairs could stretch over the weekend and into a second week, which translated to more hotel nights and a bigger bill at the end. After talking over logistics with Mr. Dunn, we decided we would bow to Mother Nature and park the bus at a campground nearby to wait for the storm to run its course. Mike gave him a deposit when he placed the order for the satellite and told him to check back with us when it arrived. After the weather cleared, and all necessary parts were in-hand, we would check into a hotel and drop off the Monaco at Complete RV.

A place called Cross Country Campground was located down the street from the shop in the same town of Denver, North Carolina. It was a gigantic park of seasonal campers in the area for one of two reasons: Lake Norman or NASCAR. A “weekly” section for transients like us was located up at the front of the park in a parking lot behind a recreation hall.  We checked ourselves in about mid afternoon. Mike got us all set up while I ran to the store for winter storm groceries and stopped at the liquor store for winter storm entertainment. The only thing we didn’t have was heat in the bedroom, but we were used to that by now.

Just as predicted, it started snowing late Tuesday and didn’t stop until Thursday. Everything was white, and pristine. The air was quiet and peaceful. The campground where we were staying wasn’t the most elegant of all RV parks, but when it was covered up in a foot of white fluffy snow, it looked like a winter wonderland.  I cooked comfort food and played on the computer. Mike read. We sat and stared out the window a lot in between naps. The dogs were in awe of the frozen stuff. Cessna loves ice, and this was like her entire world had turned into one giant snow cone. When we went on walks, she would put her head down and drag her tongue along the ground until she had scooped up a mouthful of snow. She would eat that all up and go down again. Piper didn’t know what to do, so he just copied the big dog. The tennis court at the campground was the perfect playground for the dogs to run and tumble to their heart’s delight. Mike built a UT snowman complete with gloves, rain gear, and Mardi gras beads. All in all, the four of us had a great time with the snow event. I even learned that Mike can make a mean hot buttered rum before it was all said and done.

One of the things I did while we were hunkered down was finding us a place to stay when we finally did drop off the bus for repairs. We got lucky and found a little lake cottage to rent on Lake Norman. It was owned by a plastic surgeon and his wife who had it listed on www.vrbo.com. The location was good, the price was right, and they allowed pets. For much less than the cost of a hotel room, we were lucky enough to find a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, waterfront house with a fully stocked kitchen, a washer & dryer, cable television, a fishing dock, and a large fire pit out in the yard. One Monday later, we did a repeat performance at Complete RV, but this time we drove away in our car while they parked the Monaco inside their giant shop.

Back at our little cottage we killed time doing lots of nothing. Mike fished from our dock. I sat in the sun and read old magazines the owners left on the coffee table.  We were able to save money by taking advantage of the equipped kitchen. We cooked our dinners at the house and avoided expensive restaurant meals while we were displaced.  In the evenings we would have a big fire in our pit down by the water. The cottage was actually located in a Trump National Golf Club development. I think the little lake cottages were there first, and then the developers came in and bought what was left of the entire peninsula. We took different routes on our daily walks, and there was always something interesting to look at. Some streets were lined with houses like the one we were staying in. Others were lined with mini-mansions oriented toward the water. Some streets had a mixture of both.

By the time Friday came, Mr. Dunn called to say the Monaco was ready. They found the leak was coming in through our awning on the side of the bus! They corrected the problem and determined that we did not have any rotting up in the ceiling. Whew. The new satellite was installed and now we had DirecTV in HD. Lastly, we had heat in our bedroom for the first time ever. Two other shops in Florida and Texas had looked at our heating problem, and weren’t able to fix it. We love Complete RV in Denver, N.C. Mike was so happy; I could literally see the stress wash away from his face.

When we settled the invoice, and moved our suitcases back inside, it was late in the afternoon on a Friday. Not the best time to set out on a road trip. There was a Wal-Mart located a couple of miles down the street, so we decided we would stay in their parking lot overnight. We would get good rest and avoid the stress of the end-of-week rush hour on the highways around Charlotte.  In the morning we would drive south to Charleston.

When we arrived to our little lake cottage, the snow and ice were so thick we had to park at the top of the driveway and slide down to the door. When we left, we sloshed through rain and mud while loading the car.

When we arrived to our little lake cottage, the snow and ice were so thick we had to park at the top of the driveway and slide down to the door. When we left, we sloshed through rain and mud while loading the car.

Luckily, the cottage came with a fire pit!

Luckily, the cottage came with a fire pit!

As the snow melted at the lake, there was an spooky fog hanging delicately over the landscape.

As the snow melted at the lake, there was an spooky fog hanging delicately over the landscape.

Mike got to fish every day from our own personal dock at our cottage on Lake Norman.

Mike got to fish every day from our own personal dock at our cottage on Lake Norman.

The view of our back yard and dock from the deck at the cottage we rented on Lake Norman. It took a long time for all of the snow to melt because the property is shaded most of the day.

The view of our back yard and dock from the deck at the cottage we rented on Lake Norman. It took a long time for all of the snow to melt because the property is shaded most of the day.

From the end of the dock looking back toward the little cottage we camped in while we waited for repairs to the Monaco to be finished.

From the end of the dock looking back toward the little cottage we camped in while we waited for repairs to the Monaco to be finished.

Cessna and I took our morning walk while the snow was still coming down. We were both covered in white powder by the time we made it back to the bus.

Cessna and I took our morning walk while the snow was still coming down. We were both covered in white powder by the time we made it back to the bus.

Our spot at the Cross Country Campground in Denver, N.C. wasn't the most attractive place to camp, but after it was covered in about a foot of snow the scene became very charming.

Our spot at the Cross Country Campground in Denver, N.C. wasn’t the most attractive place to camp, but after it was covered in about a foot of snow the scene became very charming.

Thanks goodness we knew this storm was coming! We had plenty of time to get parked somewhere and stock up on adequate amounts of food and booze!

Thanks goodness we knew this storm was coming! We had plenty of time to get parked somewhere and stock up on adequate amounts of food and booze!

It was so quiet and peaceful.

It was so quiet and peaceful.

If Mike it going to play in the snow, you better believe there will be a Hookem' Horns snowman to show for it! (Please notice the position of the fingers on the gloves). The Mardi Gras beads were a contribution from our neighbors across the way.

If Mike it going to play in the snow, you better believe there will be a Hookem’ Horns snowman to show for it! (Please notice the position of the fingers on the gloves). The Mardi Gras beads were a contribution from our neighbors across the way.

The "dog park" at this stop was an enclosed tennis court. Piper and Cessna had MUCH more fun romping in the snow than they would have had on the normal bare concrete.

The “dog park” at this stop was an enclosed tennis court. Piper and Cessna had MUCH more fun romping in the snow than they would have had on the normal bare concrete.

 

South Carolina Part I: Kinards

I hate to ‘monopolize the conversation’ here on our blog, so I’m letting Mike tell you about our first stop in the Palmetto State. I won’t mention I am very behind on our blog posts, and this is a super easy way to play catch-up. Isn’t it amazing that a man of so few words fell in love with a blabbermouth like me!

Magnolia RV Park & Campground

Mon 1/20    Moving day, but first to nearby RV repair shop near Loris, SC.  Dropped it off at 10:30.  Drove into Conway for lunch and then walked the dogs on a nice trail next to a river in downtown.  It was a public park area adjacent to a marina.  Got phone call from shop on possible fix for engine squeal but declined their offer to replace the serpentine belt which had just been replaced a few months ago.  And they would try to “trace” the roof leak, but would take 3-4 hours at 125 per hour…No Thanks!  Drove back and paid their ransom for doing nothing. Drove toward next park about 3:00.  Stopped at rest area on I-20 before Columbia, but sign said no overnight camping.  So we drove to next exit and parked at the always wonderful Pilot truck stop.  The sun was setting in our eyes as we gladly parked on the outer curb amongst the giants.  We were able to open one side of slides, walk the dogs, eat some soup and go to bed.  Listened and watched the rear view camera all night for wide-turning angry tired drivers to plow into our coach or toad.

Tues 1/21   Moving day part 2.  Weighed the house before leaving Pilot truck stop at ten.  Easy drive to Kinards, SC by noon.  Small park, but with dog run.  Unloaded and cleaned some.  Took nice showers. Warm day, but got windy with cold air blowing in. Prepared for low in the teens.  Had a couple martinis and ate Dina’s hash recipe, spicy and good.

Weds 1/22   Cold 19.  Up to 36 and wind lightened enough to work outside.  Started campfire about five, of course.  Came in to eat about eight.

Thurs 1/23  Cold 21 to begin, but above freezing before noon.  Drove west to Spartanburg for a couple rv supplies and ATM for cash.  Then drove into town to eat at DDD place called The Beacon Drive-In.  Just a dive with good greasy chow.  Headed back to park, but made a slight detour off the freeway to nearby town of Clinton for a liquor store and hardware store.  Took dogs, but forgot leashes.  Got back to our site and were lazy the rest of the day, then read and watched tv after dark as the temperature plummeted.

Fri 1/24    Coldest 11!   Stayed in, except to walk dogs.  Hi 31.  So far, no damage.  Read, worked inside, Dina wrote.  Dinner was crockpot beef tips in chimichurrie sauce.

Sat 1/25    Cold 24, with sw wind, but above freezing after noon.  Drove dogs to The Buncombe Horse Trail near the Brick House Campground in Sumter National Forest. Walked them an hour and collected some wood.  Came back and stayed in, read, watched tv.  Dina made mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean dish, salad, with the leftover beef tips…very messy, but good.

Sun 1/26    Finally stayed above freezing.  Cleaned under stove top, read, Dina planned future trips.  About three drove dogs to Sumter National Forest again.  Walked about an hour, saw group of three horses with riders, it is an equestrian trail.  Got back and relaxed with martinis about five and then campfire.  Followed by grilling sweet potatoes and steak.  Didn’t sleep well.

Mon 1/27    Nice and warm.  Drove dogs to Newberry.  Stopped for lunch of Tex-Mex (or so they called it).  Then to Lynch’s Woods Park Trails.  Hiked with dogs about an hour or three miles.  Then stopped at Walmart for supplies and groceries before driving back.  Napped and read till dinner of ravioli casserole.  Watched tv and read.

Tue 1/28    Just at or below freezing all day and breezy.  Talked to repair shop near Charlotte.  Put everything in from outside that will get wet by melting snow.  Snow started lightly about three until bedtime.  About two inches accumulated.  Cold with breeze.  Dina made chicken tetrazzini for dinner.

Weds 1/29   Snow!  About 2 inch accumulation.  And cold 18.  Dina had to take dogs out just after midnight.  Cessna wanted to eat the white ice.  They were taken to the dog park several times to play.  Sun came out for a couple of hours before noon, so some snow melted.  But it never got above freezing.  Stayed in and read and ate and planned our future travels.

Thurs 1/30   Cold 14.  Warmed enough to get outside.  Started campfire about four.  Grilled potatoes and sausage.

Fri 1/31    20 on the last day of our first year traveling.  Warmed to 50s.  Drove to Greenville and parked downtown.  Walked the dogs up Main st. looking for restaurants with chicken fried steak on the menu.  Almost all the nice pubs and upscale eateries had tables and chairs outside on the walk and allowed dogs.  So we found a great place and ordered drinks and then a nice late lunch and it warmed enough to take our coats off.  No one was sitting at the outside tables anywhere until we showed them that it was ok. People started showing up to enjoy the sunshine and many came by to pet our mongrels, even a group of preschool kids from 1st Baptist with their handlers.  They were taking a survey of folks about what they enjoyed and disliked about the area.  They moved along when our food came.  Afterward, walked back down Main to Falls Park and a pathway that lead along the Reedy River for miles.  We went as far as the zoo and back.  There were many other parks along the way and still more parks on the other side of Main that we didn’t see.  We made it back to the car a little after four and back to our site a little after five.  Everyone was sore and tired, but we worked our lunch off.  Then we built what may be our last campfire here because rain is forecast for the next several days, then retired around ten.

Sat 2/1     11th anniversary and first for our trip.  Cloudy and cool start. Drove to Columbia a little after noon.  Stopped to get supplies for Super Bowl watching party at the park’s rec room tomorrow.  Afterward, parked downtown which is next to USC campus.  Walked dogs around in light mist for a couple of hours.  Stopped at one sports pub for celebratory drinks.  Then got back to the car and made it to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for our 5:30 reservation (Dina’s choice), after stopping at a crazy busy liquor store.  Had a couple more celebratory martinis before the best steak I ever ate and sides.  Hefty bill, but worth it.  Drove back to site in the mist and in bed before eleven.

Sun 2/2     Nice and warm, mostly sunny.  Dogs stayed outside all day.  Did some chores and Dina prepared tamales, queso, and Hawaiian dip (from the last of our Virginia Ham) for party at six.  Walked over to room above office to eat, drink, and watch the game with other campers.  After game ended, walked the dogs and hit the sack.

Mon 2/3     Rained until noon, then warmed up and nice.  Walked dogs.  Built campfire about five thirty.   Went in to eat tamales shipped here on Saturday by Suzanne.  Not too many were eaten at game watching party last night.

Tues 2/4    Wet cold.  Hibernated.  Misty.  After seven, drove the few miles to Clinton to eat at Blue Ocean seafood restaurant.  Good fried specials and snow crab. Mist and rain. Read, tv and bed.

Wed 2/5     Rained some overnight, then cloudy till noon.  Them warmed to 65.  I went for groceries at Newberry, Dina stayed to clean.  Paid bills for February. Read, ate fish tacos from leftovers, and watched tv.

Thurs 2/6   Cool, some sun.  Drove to Dreher Island State Park on an island on Lake Murray.  I fished while Dina walked dogs.  Left about four-thirty.  Back at site and grilled chicken at six.  Ate and watched Olympics and read.

Fri 2/7     Cool, more sun.  After noon drove to Greenwood State Park on Lake Greenwood.  I fished with no luck and Dina hiked with dogs.  Left at five.  Built campfire and fried french fries and bacon outside for BLTCOA (bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion, avocado) sandwiches.  Watched a little of opening ceremony at Olympics.

Sat 2/8     Cool start, then warmed enough to work outside.  Paid some bills while Dina went into town to run errands.  Cleaned some outside before sunset.  Ate SC BBQ and watched Olympics.  Then walked dogs and went to bed.  Watched more tv and read.

 

The grounds of the Magnolia RV Park & Campground after our first snow in the Monaco.

The grounds of the Magnolia RV Park & Campground after our first snow in the Monaco.

We spent a day at Dreher Island State Park, which is about 30 miles west of Columbia on Lake Murray. This giant fireplace is all that is left of the original Dreher Family estate, original owners of the 300+ acres before it was deeded to the State of South Carolina.

We spent a day at Dreher Island State Park, which is about 30 miles west of Columbia on Lake Murray. This giant fireplace is all that is left of the original Dreher Family estate, original owners of the 300+ acres before it was deeded to the State of South Carolina.

The view from our front door at Magnolia Campground when we awoke to a beautiful dusting of snow on the ground.

The view from our front door at Magnolia Campground when we awoke to a beautiful dusting of snow on the ground.

The Reedy River runs through the center of downtown Greenville. The large brick and glass building in the background is the Peace Center for the Performing Arts. They have an indoor auditorium and an outdoor amphitheater. The Center features a wide array of performances. Some of their upcoming bookings are The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Dance Theater of Harlem, Melissa Ethridge, and Flashdance - the Musical.

The Reedy River runs through the center of downtown Greenville. The large brick and glass building in the background is the Peace Center for the Performing Arts. They have an indoor auditorium and an outdoor amphitheater. The Center features a wide array of performances. Some of their upcoming bookings are The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Dance Theater of Harlem, Melissa Ethridge, and Flashdance – the Musical.

The Reedy River flowing out of downtown along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, which is a 17.1 mile multi-use trail connecting neighborhoods, schools, parks and businesses throughout Greenville and the County.

The Reedy River flowing out of downtown along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, which is a 17.1 mile multi-use trail connecting neighborhoods, schools, parks and businesses throughout Greenville and the County.

The Liberty Bridge is a pedestrian bridge in downtown Greenville that crosses over Reedy River Falls. This beautiful park is smack in the middle of downtown.

The Liberty Bridge is a pedestrian bridge in downtown Greenville that crosses over Reedy River Falls. This beautiful park is smack in the middle of downtown.

My fabulous step-sister, Suzanne Saxton, felt sorry for us because we did not have any tamales during the recent holiday season. The little angel sent us 3 dozen packed in a cooler with dry ice. It arrived on our anniversary, and was the best thing we have received since we have been on the road. I took some to the Superbowl party at the campground, but the other campers didn't really know what they were - so not too many got eaten. More for us!

My fabulous step-sister, Suzanne Saxton, felt sorry for us because we did not have any tamales during the recent holiday season. The little angel sent us 3 dozen packed in a cooler with dry ice. It arrived on our anniversary, and was the best thing we have received since we have been on the road. I took some to the Superbowl party at the campground, but the other campers didn’t really know what they were – so not too many got eaten. More for us!

South Carolinians claim their state is the birthplace of barbeque. They also say that REAL bbq is always and only pork. Finally, they think the sauce should be mustard based, and should be chased down with sweet tea. We sampled some from a famous hole-in-the-wall called Wise's (which is only open on Friday and Saturdays). It was good... tart and 'vinegary'. However, this Texan does not believe their claim to fame. BBQ can also be beef or chicken, in addition to pork. The sauce should be red and spicy, and it should be washed down with a cold beer. Just sayin'

South Carolinians claim their state is the birthplace of barbeque. They also say that REAL bbq is always and only pork. Finally, they think the sauce should be mustard based, and should be chased down with sweet tea. We sampled some from a famous hole-in-the-wall called Wise’s (which is only open on Friday and Saturdays). It was good… tart and ‘vinegary’. However, this Texan does not believe their claim to fame. BBQ can also be beef or chicken, in addition to pork. The sauce should be red and spicy, and it should be washed down with a cold beer. Just sayin’

One of the Villas at Dreher Island State Park. I peaked inside one of the windows. They looked nice and clean and roomy. It looks like a fun spot for a weekend of bass fishing or general fun-in-the-sun.

One of the Villas at Dreher Island State Park. I peaked inside one of the windows. They looked nice and clean and roomy. It looks like a fun spot for a weekend of bass fishing or general fun-in-the-sun.

We spent another sunny afternoon at Greenwood Lake State Park, located in Ninety-Six, South Carolina. Really, that is the name of the town!

We spent another sunny afternoon at Greenwood Lake State Park, located in Ninety-Six, South Carolina. Really, that is the name of the town!

The dogs had a dog park on this stop. LOTS of playtime.

The dogs had a dog park on this stop. LOTS of playtime.

Can you see these deer in the picture? They were hanging out at a picnic area in Dreher Island State Park. Didn't even flinch when we drove by - just waited for us to move on, so they could keep grazing.

Can you see these deer in the picture? They were hanging out at a picnic area in Dreher Island State Park. Didn’t even flinch when we drove by – just waited for us to move on, so they could keep grazing.

Most of the restaurants in downtown Greenville have sidewalk tables set up in front of their establishments. The whole atmosphere is very charming.

Most of the restaurants in downtown Greenville have sidewalk tables set up in front of their establishments. The whole atmosphere is very charming.

The dogs and I walked this trail through the woods every morning on their potty walk.

The dogs and I walked this trail through the woods every morning on their potty walk.

 

 

Louisiana Part I: Sportsman’s Paradise

I’ve been making a few changes and additions to our website -mostly in the form of adding pages with more photographs. Since we are just beginning our second year of the Lower 48 in 48 Tour, I’m reposting the recap of our first stop in our first state. Just for grins.

We arrived at Jimmy Davis State Park on Caney Creek Lake on a beautiful sunny Friday. The park is south of I-20 between Ruston and Monroe. It is located on an entire peninsula on the lake, so you are basically surrounded by the beautiful scene of water behind trees from every angle. I was impressed immediatly and continue to be each day we are here. The landscape is beautiful, the place is immaculately clean, the campsites are situated with great views and at a good distance from the neighbors. The park has two boat launches, 17 very cool 2-bedroom cabins, 2 lodges, a group camp area for 150 people, an excellent sandy beach area, and 77 campsites.

On our first Saturday morning we went to the nearest town with a Walmart (Jonesboro) for groceries and a Louisiana State Fishing License for Mike. By Sunday we were back at the Park Headquarters to extend our stay for 4-more nights from our original plan of 8 nights to a new time-frame of 12 nights. This place is so peaceful and quiet and empty, is seemed like the perfect spot to ease into our new slow and peaceful life.

We have been spending time walking the dogs, riding the bikes, building and tending a fire, lounging in the hammock, and cooking nice dinners outside. Oh yeah, and Mike has been fishing. I can either find him at the edge of the lake by our spot, or at the boat docks around the corner (which happen to be extremely well lit all night – explaining why there was no one in my bed this morning around 4:30 when I woke up and realized I had the whole bed to myself and was not taking advantage of extra pillows and blankets)! We have had fried fish for dinner once, and we are currently restocking the freezer.

We have been on two other road trips to Monroe and Natchitoches. We enjoyed the latter more than the former. While we were in Monroe, I should have tried to find the Duck Commander Warehouse and introduce ourselves to some of the Duck Dynasty clan. We ate shrimp Po-Boys, went to Walmart and searched for a liquor store instead. In Natchitoches we ate more delicious cajun food, walked around and looked at all the cool historic buildings and houses, found the state’s oldest hardward store, visited a beautiful 1800’s Catholic Church so I could light a candle for my new 2nd-Cousin, and yes- went to Walmart for groceries.

Anyone who likes to bass fish should come here with their own boat. It would be a great family vacation to rent one or more of the cabins or lodges. Fisherman could fish, everyone else could hang out by the fire (like me). It appears that the Louisiana State Park System really has their act together. I’m looking forward to checking out our next park in the “Cajun Country” part of the state.

Pink Sunset
Pink Sunset
Mike fishing at the end of our spot
Mike fishing at the end of our spot
Early morning fog at boat launch
Early morning fog at boat launch
First sunset
First sunset
First impression
First impression
Our Camp Host out on his boat
Our Camp Host out on his boat
Blue sunset
Blue sunset
All set up
All set up

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