Life

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Georgia on my mind......

Now this is a big site!

We are still at the Petersburg campground in Appling GA. We were suppose to leave last Monday but we were feeling that need to be away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and parks we had been in. I’m a pretty social person, just ask anyone who has met me. In fact, I probably (well more actually than probably) talk too much so it may come as a surprise that there are times I crave solitude. I think it is what appeals to me about this lifestyle. When you want, you can plant yourself somewhere with lots of things to see and do and other times you can hide away in a forested campsite along a lake like this one.
This site is one of the smaller ones and its still big enough for his boat too!

On Monday we dumped our tanks and moved to a different campsite. We were in #55 which is a huge pull through but not a great view of the lake and the picnic table was one that was cemented in and was a long ways from the rig. I stopped at the gate earlier in the week and asked about sites more on the lake that would be open for another week. Many are booked for this weekend so the one we came up with is in the same loop: #58. This site has a nice lake view and access to lake side where there is a nice lawn area to sit. The only negative thing I can say is watch as you back in as one side of the drive is really sloped. We didn’t notice that until we started and then had to pull out or risk the trailer going overboard. Moved over and though it was tilted some it was a much nicer back in.  So we have been enjoying some time with nature. This park is big enough I can get a 3+ mile walk in just going around every camping loop--love it!
Laurie & George

On Sunday we went into Augusta, about 25 min away to meet up with fellow RVers and bloggers Laurie and George Owens (Owens on the Road).  We checked in on several restaurants on Trip Advisor and had to go down the list a little ways to find one that was open on Sunday, not used to that. We decided on the Whiskey Kitchen bar and grill. They have an interesting menu that seems to be a fusion of Southern BBQ, Mexican, and Japanese.  Interesting food and a couple craft brews on tap so we can’t complain.  It was fun getting to talk to Laurie and George, our paths have almost crossed a couple times so it was nice to finally meet. Sharing with other full time RVers is always fun and I hope we meet up again somewhere down the road. 
At our new site we get to watch this heron fish.
This is another colorful visitor to our site.


I really don’t have much to report on this week. We have been doing lots of walking, getting our strength training in and then just kicking back, John reading and me knitting. The weather has also been almost perfect, mainly in the 70s, humidity not too high and calm or sometimes a light breeze. Yesterday was probably close to a perfect day so we celebrated with a campfire. I am a happy girl. Tomorrow the weather is going to change and you can kind of feel it in the air even now, the humidity has really shot up and some clouds have rolled in and rain is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow. I think we will use the day to go in and get a few groceries and fuel for our next journey. Next week we will be going to Skidway Island State Park near Savannah GA.

If you know me you know a campfire always makes me happy. :)
Happy Trails..............

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Fall in the Smokeys


This week we added another National Park to our places visited. Fall arrived this week too so we are doubly blessed. We arrived Sunday to experience first hand what I had heard from others; this area is a traffic nightmare. We were lucky in that it was the traffic leaving the area that was backed up for miles and we were coming into the area. We have been staying at the River Plantation RV park in Sevierville. It’s actually a pretty nice park, our biggest obstacle was a low branch in our spot but we got parked and all was well. When we first arrived it was still warm during the day but cooling off at night making for great sleeping weather, as the week has progressed fall has definitely arrived. Monday we drove into the park and went to the visitors center. The traffic into the park is amazing, pretty much a steady stream.


A bridge on the trail, really just a flat log with a hand rail, pretty cool

These are the trails we could have added if we had time

Once we finally found a spot to squeeze the truck into we went in and got some maps for hiking. We decided we wanted to hike Laural falls as Trudy told me this was her favorite so back on the road we went. The road to this area is also the road to the Cade’s Cove Loop which is a popular driving tour, and that was evident from the traffic headed that way. This road is very winding and fairly narrow, its pretty but I was the only one who got to enjoy it as John had his eyes on the road the whole time. When we get to the area for the falls there is absolutely nowhere to park. Every available parking space, including ones people just made up were taken. So we kept going but when we reached the Cade’s Cove picnic area John had had enough so we pulled into the picnic area. I found on the map there were several trails that start here. We found a spot large enough for the truck, whew. We chose the Andrews Creek trail, beautiful forested trail along an equally beautiful stream. It hooks into a couple more trails but after about a mile of all up hill we turned back for the parking area. All the changes and traffic had pushed back the time and it was really too late in the day to go any further. When we finally made it back to Pigeon Forge we found the Smokey Mountain Brewery and enjoyed a little dinner and a brew. Other than the traffic it was a great day.
the creek along our hike

Tuesday we got up a little late and the weather looked iffy and the forecast was for some rain so we decided to stay in town (turned out we had no rain and the sun came out-go figure). We basically kicked back and then went to the outlet mall just for some exercise. It is a large and busy outlet mall so we I got in all my 10,000 steps, yea!!! The only two stores I ever get excited about are the Nike store and Eddie Bauer. I came away with just a 3/4 zip fleece from Eddie Bauer. It was on sale for 1/2 price which made me a happy girl.

The view from Clingmans Dome parking lot
Today was our last chance to get out in the park. A cold front came through last night and it was cool and windy  but no rain was expected. When we left the trailer it was around 50 degrees out. Today we wanted to go to Clingman’s Dome. We did wear warmer clothes and I brought a stocking hat, the way it turned out we should have brought all our winter gear. The drive up was beautiful but the closer we got the thicker the cloud layer got until we really were just driving in and out of the fog. The outdoor temp dropped to 27 degrees. We obviously were unprepared for that. We got out in the parking lot and the view was just the clouds and when you looked at the trees they had hoar frost on them, brrrrrrrrr. We visited the store and got a postcard and something for Evie for Christmas.

The hoar frost
We toyed with the idea of still doing the hike but people returning said it was snowing there, no visibility and the wind was really whipping around. Oh well, I guess this trip will mainly be a car tour. On the way down the mountain we pulled off several times and as we got lower the sun was out some and the colors were beautiful. Where we are staying it is really only fall around the edges but as you gain altitude you get to the areas of peak color and then at Clingman’s dome most of the leaves had fallen. We really enjoyed all the color, the last few years we have kind of missed this because of where we traveled to so getting to see the changing colors of fall was spectacular.





Tomorrow we take off again and will be going to Strom Thurmond Lake and the Petersburg COE campground in Petersburg GA. Another new state for the RV. John and I both visited Atlanta when his brother Jim was alive but really haven’t seen much of the state except for that and that is actually the one place we are avoiding. I’ve just had enough of cities for awhile so we are going to stick to some COE and state parks for the next few weeks until we need to be in Fort Walton Beach. I’m really glad we visited Memphis, Nashville and the Smokeys but now we are ready for a slower pace of life and a little more nature.

Happy Trails........................

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nashville

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum


We arrived in Music City last Sunday. It has been a great week, a little bit of kicking back and a little bit of being a tourist. On Tuesday we went into town. One of the difficult things when you have a big truck is finding a good place to park. John did some research and found that Lot E at LP Field (where the Tennessee Titans of the NFL play) has public parking during the week for $5 for the day. It took us a little to find the right lot but it turned out to be a good deal. We had to walk aways to get across the river to the downtown area but it was much better than having to find a place downtown where we would have paid around $30 for lots big enough for the truck. There is some street parking if you are lucky enough to snag some but we felt this worked much better. Tuesday it threatened rain much of the day so we decided to check out the country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Our friends John and Gayle encouraged us to do the Studio B tour as part of this and though the cost is a little more I think that part was what made the day.
John outside Studio B

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a beautiful building and we enjoyed the tour. We recognized much of even the older music. My dad loved a lot of that music and so I enjoyed hearing some of these songs I remember from my childhood. John and I have fairly eclectic music tastes and do enjoy some country music so all in all it was fun to tour. The special exhibit was on Reba. She is actually one of my favorites so needless to say I was happy.

Control Room for Studio B

At the piano Elvis liked to play in Studio B
The Studio B tour is one that takes you to the RCA records studio that was where so many of the old country stars and where Elvis recorded many of his hits. Elvis had more hits than any other artist for RCA. The studio is an old analog studio and just fascinating. They talked about how they often they only recorded one track so everyone needed to be really on. It was recorded on tape and the only way to edit was to literally cut and splice the tape.  Our guide is an aspiring country artist and she shared many stories of Elvis’ recording sessions which usually were on Sunday nights and didn’t even get started until around midnight and most of the recording done in the wee hours of the morning. It is how he liked to do it. It’s funny but as you sit in that studio, it just has a feel like he is still around. 

Wednesday we just kicked back and Thursday was spent doing errands. We found the local Costco and stocked up on a couple things. We were slow to join but I have to say the more I learn about this company the more I like it and we are trying to be very smart about how we shop there and it seems to be working and is saving us some bucks. I also found a yarn shop near Costco called Haus of Yarn. It is a wonderful shop with an amazing selection of yarn. I was looking for specific types of yarn for two Christmas presents and they were so helpful, even invited me to knit night that night. I so enjoy finding these shops and meeting other knitters, on whole they are just very nice people who invite you to join in which just makes me happy. The park we are at is really too far away for me to be able to take advantage but I am hoping when I get to our winter digs I can find a shop like this.
Early county music band.

Now this is cooking over a campfire

John pulls up to the bar

WWII memorial

These columns were playing beautiful music
Friday we decided to go back downtown. This time we wanted to just do more exploring and see the capitol and Centennial Park. It was a combo walking workout and touring. When we got to the park we stopped at the visitor center and found out they were having a history fest in the park. There were displays from the frontier days, civil war days thru about WWII. We knew something was going on because we heard the canons earlier from the capital. There weren’t too many people there and we enjoyed walking through. A couple things from the park we enjoyed were the memorial fountain at the WWII memorial. It is a globe that rotates in the water and it shows where all the Tennessee troops fought during the war. Then at the end of the park
from the end of the park looking back to the capital
are these columns that are actually part of a chimes set. You can see where they can go in and play them, like the church bells we often hear. The chimes were playing and it was beautiful, from that spot you turn around and it is a wonderful view of the capital up on the hill.

Pedal Tavern, interesting idea
 From there we walked and climbed back up the capital hill and on to the District down on Broadway and 2nd Street where all the honky-tonks and restaurants are. We decided we wanted to visit the Rock Bottom Brewery for our lunch/dinner. We were able to be seated outside and enjoy the beautiful weather and do some people watching. The place was definitely buzzing a lot more than when we were here on Tuesday. The beer was great and the food pretty good. We sat and enjoyed watching all the people. There were quite a few bachelorette groups walking around. They have a bicycled moving tavern that we have seen a couple other places  but these were extra busy here. This area of town is a hoppin’ place on the weekends. There is so much good music going on too, just about every establishment has live music and they are all very good. Even the street musicians are amazing. 

The beer was so good i drank it all. :)
We enjoyed the week but are ready to move on. Tomorrow we are moving to Seiverville near the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. This is peak leaf season so I called and made a reservation for 4 nights. The weather is suppose to be cooler but dry. Looking forward to doing some hiking. My friend Trudy has been here many times so has clued us into some hikes. Not sure where to after that but I have a couple ideas. I keep watching the weather as we are still in hurricane season even though it is winding down and so far so good. No matter where, it is all new territory for us so we are looking forward to it.

Happy Trails....................

Monday, October 14, 2013

Captain's Log: Graceland


Graceland

Captain's Log: Graceland
Remember when Elvis died? Me neither. I remember Elvis of course, but I guess I wasn't paying attention when he died. I didn't know where he lived either, but I do now: he lived at Graceland, his home in Memphis, Tennessee.
Elvis' livingroom
Graceland is now a big tourist destination for all things Elvis. Turns out that's a lot of things. It takes, at a minimum, six gift shops to hold all the stuff you can buy to remind you of your trip to Graceland. One for each tour we signed up for. There may be more, but we were too toured to go on any more tours. Six sounds like a lot, but we had a coupon.
The main tour was of the home and the surrounding estate. If you forgot what the 70's looked like, this will remind you. Lots of buildings stuffed with awards Elvis earned throughout his long career. And outfits he wore. And movies he was in. And more awards. Turns out the other tours had more of the same. Guess they couldn't fit them all into the main tour. A truly impressive display.

One of the tours was devoted to the cars Elvis owned, and he owned a few. His estate even managed to hunt down cars he had traded in or given away over the years, so it was quite a collection. The most iconic car was probably his pink Cadillac, but there was also two Stutz Bearcats and a John Deere tractor. Also included was a golf cart representing the dozen or so he owned so everyone in his entourage could have their own for the cart races he liked to have. I'm guessing he got to win a lot.
Elvis'Pink Cadillac
Some of Elvis' record awards










We enjoyed the tour. It was quite a testament to a remarkable career and I found it interesting to see how someone who had essentially unlimited funds lived in the 70s.
- John

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Enjoying the Mississippi and how to boil an egg.



Watching the barges pass by....
Welcome center
As I write this I am sitting on the banks of the Mississippi River just watching the barge traffic go by. We are at the Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis on the  Arkansas side of the river just across from Memphis TN. The park itself sits on the banks of the Mississippi and has its own pond that separates a couple of the sections. The thing that sets it apart is simply its location. Besides the river it is only about 10 minutes from downtown Memphis. 

BB King statue, welcome center


Elvis gets his own room in the welcome center
Beale street, closed to fix BB King's
Yesterday we decided to go downtown to check it out. We stopped at the visitors center just across the bridge. I knew there was a trolley that went around the downtown so I asked if there was a good place for us to park so we could just use the trolley or walk. She said I could leave it in the parking lot where it was and walk over to the trolley from there. The trolley is $1 a ride or $3.50 for a day pass. We just missed the trolley so we decided to walk for awhile. We ended up doing most of our exploring on foot and just used the trolley on our way back to the truck. Main street has only trolley and pedestrian traffic except at cross streets which makes for pleasant walking. It was a pleasant walk but Memphis looks a little tired these days, a little worn around the edges if you will. Beale street is a big tourist draw with lots of clubs and restaurants. BB King has a club that is the biggest draw, but Sunday night there was a fire in the kitchen so it was closed. They also had the street closed to traffic for all but the Service Pro trucks there trying to put things back together so they can reopen. There must have been a dozen trucks from small to semi-sized there working on the place. 


We visited the showroom of the Gibson guitar factory, but the factory tours were closed for the day. I own an Epiphone guitar which is made by Gibson, but not as expensive. My son has the guitar now and I love that guitar. I played a lot when I was young but not so much as an adult. It was fun to see all the beautiful guitars they had there, and they even had a couple Epiphones. 


Across the street from Gibson is the Rock and Soul Museum. We debated about the cost ($11 per person) but decided to go for it. It is a self guided tour, they give you a headphone and a device with different explanations that load as you punch in the numbers of the display. Sometimes I’d rather just read and one of the great things here is you could opt to listen to music tracks at different points instead of the commentary so that is mainly how I went thru, listening to great tunes and reading my way around. I think the most interesting part of the Memphis story is how music in this city and the civil rights movement were intertwined and how black and white found a way to come together through the music before they came together in many other ways. This is the city where Martin Luther King gave his last speech. The National Civil Rights Museum is here and I  would like to visit it too. 
Blues City Cafe

We asked at the museum where they felt the best place on Beale street to eat was and they recommended the Blues Street Cafe. We shared a combo of ribs and catfish. The ribs were good but not the best I’ve had. We will probably try the ribs at at least once more before we go. Tomorrow our plan is to go to Graceland and maybe the Civil Rights Museum, we will see how the time goes.

Now for my second subject, how to hard boil and egg. I like to start my day with protein and so my breakfast is a hard boiled egg. When I started doing this I was very frustrated with how to get them to cook just right and be able to peel them without loosing half the white in the process. We tried all the usual suggestions of using older eggs, starting with room temperature eggs, boil and cool etc. etc. All seemed to work sometimes but not consistently. John being the engineer he is, looks at things from a scientific viewpoint and knew the answer had to be out there. The one cook of the Food Network that he likes to watch is Alton Brown because he always comes at cooking from that same scientific bent. We searched online and sure enough Alton Brown had a video and in this one he actually steams the eggs. Here is the video for your enjoyment.

We have been using this method and it works!!! Once in awhile I have one that doesn’t peel well but I’d say so far thats only about 1 in 20 eggs. I’m sold and I actually think it works better and is easier than the other methods we’ve tried. So if you like hard boiled eggs like I do, or you like making deviled eggs, this might be the method for you too. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Missouri to Arkansas

Fountain at lake at College of the Ozarks


We are out there exploring again and that makes me happy. From Kansas City visiting family we headed towards Branson, MO and Table Rock Lake. John grew up not too far from here in Salem Mo but believe it or not, he had never visited Branson. I know lots of people really enjoy this town and for us it was ok but it’s not really the kind of place we like to hang out. The only show we were interested in were 12 Irish Tenors but we are trying to stick to a budget and decided we would rather be outside so instead we took a lake cruise on Lake Tenycomo. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful cruise. We checked out Branson Landing and watched the water-fire show which was nice. There was one really interesting site......
This is what I first saw
fun prop!
       
........might be a good prop for Halloween !
Some of the houses on the hills, during our cruise.

We camped at Table Rock Lake State Park. The sites were pretty close together for a state park and all the FHU were taken so our site was just electric.  It worked for the 5 days we were there and was better than being in town. Like I said Branson isn’t really our cup of tea but I can see how it appeals to many.

Sunday we left Table Rock and were off to the Hot Springs AR area. Googled the route and checked the truck atlas, yep it’s a truck route. Well, not really. There were no low clearances or width and weight restrictions per se, though we had to take several bridges in the middle since they were so narrow. The whole trip was up, down and around. Those who have been in this part of the country have probably figured out we took the Scenic Byway 7. Though a beautiful drive I would not call it a leisurely one, just ask John. I’m just gad I was not driving. Next time it will be US 65 for sure. I say next time because we really like this area.

We are staying at Lake Ouachita State Park and it is a beautiful park. We are in site 4 and it is the largest site we’ve had anywhere. Several people (Jeff and Dawn, and Judy) recommended it and we give you a big thanks!. The site is FHU, paved, and the end the drive is double wide and long enough to park your vehicle on the side. We didn’t really need that as it was plenty long enough for us. Probably the only down side to this park is we can’t get satellite or over the air tv. We do have a good cell signal though.
Site 4 at Lake Ouachita Stae Park, its huge

Tuesday we walked a 4 mile lake trail here. I didn’t take the camera because it looked like rain when we left. It never did rain on us so if I had taken the camera it would have been great and I would have had some beautiful photos for you. I guess you’ll have to use your imagination. :)  The trail was a lot of up and down. We should have talked to the rangers before we left but we weren’t that smart. You’d think we were novice hikers. We wearing our tennies instead of our hiking boots, didn’t take our hiking sticks and worst of all didn’t take water. Well, needless to say we wish we had done all that but we survived just fine. We plan on doing more hiking as we travel so it was a lesson learned, or actually relearned, I hope.

As we are all aware of the government shutdown, we knew it was imminent when we arrived so Monday we made sure to make it into town to the Hot Springs National Park Visitors Center, knowing it most likely would be closed Tuesday (and of course it is). This is a nice little town, especially Bath House Row and the actual hot springs. We tested the water and it is pretty hot. Interesting place. They are working on a micro-brewery in the Superior Bath House, sounds like it might be awhile before they are ready to go. Now it is just a little brew pub with several assorted crafted beers on tap, some limited food and some really good Gelato.




Hey that water really is hot!
We went back into town yesterday so I could visit the local yarn shop, Knittin’ on the Corner. Cute little shop and wonderful people too. Bought some yarn for a hat for the Christmas season for granddaughter Evie and splurged on some sock yarn for me. I have found I love hand knitted socks. We also ate at a restaurant just upstairs from the yarn shop called the Grindhouse, their sign said they had the best burgers in Arkansas. When we walked in we had our doubts, looked like they could use a little remodel but the people were friendly and the burger menu looked interesting. We split the Lucky Luciano burger. It had pesto, goat cheese and a few other things on it and it was gooooooooood! Who would have thought? The fries are also good and have truffle oil on them, they call them Truffle fries. The burgers were a little pricey but are 1/2 pound and 1/2 a burger was plenty.
This is the view fro our chairs right now. :)

This is how far away from the trailer we are, this is a BIG site!
Today was that day when we had to get laundry done and get a few groceries. Now were are just sitting out at the back of our site. (Notice how far it is from the rig.) I’ve been thinking about the blog but it was finally time to post something. Sunday we will leave for the Memphis area and the Tom Sawyer Park on the river in West Memphis. Our plan is to be there a week. Then we’ll see what the weather is doing and pick the place to go. We have plenty of time and this whole area is new to us so I think we will play it by ear. Hopefully those goofy people in Washington will get this settled so the COE parks and National Park areas are open again.

Happy Trails.................................