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Showing posts from November, 2007

An Idyllic Day

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 -- Trace State Park near Tupelo, MS

The State Parks in the Southeast, based on our experience, are just tremendous, especially at this time of the year. The campsites have been upgraded and are big rig friendly. The RV parking pads are usually level, paved, and free off branches and other obstructions that give campers headaches, not to mention scratches in the paint job. The sites are in the woods, well separated, and very clean. There's a camp host that lives on site to assure some basic rules are followed. This time of the year there are very few campers and we often have the place to ourselves. The experience has been similar in Georgia, Alabama, and now Mississippi.

We found another gem with Trace State Park. We selected a site that's actually on it's own peninsula that juts out into the lake so we have water on three sides (Duh, Thom, that's the definition of a peninsula!). It's very secluded and quiet. Wildlife abound... deer are a…

Move to Mississippi today

I'm up early this morning and find the internet connection, which was weak and intermittent yesterday, is much improved. I'm learning that poor weather can knock the signal down dramatically, especially in fringe areas where the signal is weak to start with. Dar's still sawing logs and I get a few minutes to sip my coffee and knock out a post. This will be a short one today because we're getting ready to move and I don't have much to say anyway.

Our slow trek west resumes today. It'll be a short drive of only a little over a hundred miles to the Tupelo, MS area. There's a State Park there that sounds good to us and should make a good home base for a day or so as we check out the area around Elvis' hometown. This week we'll be moving more than sitting and I don't see us spending more than a day or two in any one place. We really don't have a specific destination this week other than "west" and "south" and "warmer"…

Easy Days

Sunday, November 25, 2007 -- Joe Wheeler State Park near Rogersville, AL

Still here, and probably will be until Tuesday. One of the great things about our life right now is that we can adapt and adjust to our environment... so when they call for rain in the next day or so, we can simply stay an extra day and wait for better weather.

The last couple days have been slow and easy for us. We like the park and our site, so it really becomes "home" for a few days. Dar's been working on a project and I've been reading and writing. Doesn't sound real exciting but we're enjoying it.

We did visit Wheeler Dam, another TVA dam on the Tennessee River. Completed in 1936, it's over a mile long and the difference between the upstream pool and the downstream pool is as much as 50 feet. The upstream pool, or lake, created by the dam is 67,000 acres and has over 1,000 miles of shoreline. Our campsite is on this lake.

We had a nice visit with our neighbors around their campfire …

Modern-Day Ghost Town

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Saturday, November 24, 2007 -- Joe Wheeler State Park near Rogersville, AL

Retrospective comments about Crawfordville, GA.

The traditional heart of the ideal small town has been a lively and energetic central business district, an area where people congregate, socialize, shop, and just hang out. Driven by businesses and shop owners, these areas are kept clean and friendly, often decorated for holidays, so as to be an inviting place for people to go, spend a little money for various needs and wants, and make it possible for these businesses and shops to make a profit -- which allows the cycle starts again. In the best places there are enough people who can spend enough money to allow this cycle to spiral upward -- additional new shops or businesses open, stores are remodeled or new ones built, perhaps the town develops a unique flavor that's enticing and causes more people to come, maybe even from nearby towns, to take part in the experience. There's a sense of energy and a sense…

Reflection and Thanks

Thursday, November 22, 2007 -- Joe Wheeler State Park near Rogersville, AL

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

A cold front passed through last night bringing rain, a little wind, and chillier temps by this morning. It was 42f when we got up this morning.

Yesterday we didn't do much. It rained almost all day. Since Dar needed a few supplies for a project she's working on, and we needed a few groceries, we drove to Florence, a good sized town about 20 miles west of us.

During our foray into Florence we stopped at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant to have some lunch. We were seated just a little way from a large table of extended family members... father, mother, their adult children, and their children's families. I'm only guessing. One of the adult children, a guy, who for the purposes of this post we'll name "Bob", had a voice that easily projected all around the dining room we were in and dominated his other family members. In other words, all diners in the restauran…

On to Alabama

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 -- Joe Wheeler State Park near Rogersville, AL

It's been a busy two days, yesterday and today, and I need to get a post done to bring y'all up to date. Monday, yesterday, we got up early at A. H. Stephens Park and had the bus on I-20 by 9:30am. We were headed west, through the heart of Atlanta, and on into Alabama. The bus ran fine, the day was warm, and we made good time... making it to the Alabama visitors center at the GA-AL state line by noon or so, central standard time. Since we were making such good time we decided to head for Joe Wheeler State Park in northern Alabama. A quick phone call confirmed that they had space and that space would be available for the entire Thanksgiving Day weekend... so off we went.

Dar drove the next leg and tackled the Birmingham traffic like a seasoned trucker. We pressed north. Along the way up I-65, there's a stark transition from wooded hillsides to open, flat, farmland -- the ancient work of the Tennessee Ri…

A Museum Donation

Sunday, November 18, 2007 -- A. H. Stephens State Historic Park

It's hard for me to believe that Thanksgiving Day is next week and that at the end of this month we'll have been on our sabbatical for 5 months... and 5 months is almost a half year. How fast time passes!

On Friday, we drove around the area to some surrounding towns. Dar read that there are some good examples of antebellum homes and buildings scattered about, so off we went. Along the way we stopped, based on a recommendation from a local, at Holcomb BBQ for lunch. This place is open for lunch on Friday and Saturday only -- a common thing among barbecue places here in the rural south. Throughout the south, barbecue is a primary staple food and local people have strong feelings about what they consider their favorite. I get the feeling that fist-fights break out when people disagree on the subject.

Based on what I've observed, one pre-requisite for a good BBQ place is a broken-down building with a dirt parking lo…

Chore Day

Friday, November 16, 2007 -- A. H. Stephens State Historic Park

Woke to near freezing temps this morning, but I'm learning how to deal with them. Our little electric heater is quite useful on cold nights and it does a reasonable job at keeping the coach at a good sleeping temperature -- low to mid 60's. Didn't need the coach's LP furnace until this morning when a quick kick to 68f was desired. Dar's learning how to deal with cold too -- she stays in bed, under 12 pounds of blankets and comforters, until I get the camper up to 68f, coffee made, and the sun comes out.

I checked the government's climate prediction center website and found they're predicting warmer than normal temps for the South this winter. Hmmm. Then I checked the Original Farmers Almanac website and found they're predicting a colder than normal winter for the same area. Recent experience has me leaning toward going with the Farmers Almanac on this one. I'm keeping my eye on the extend…

Extending Our Stay

Thursday, November 15, 2007 -- A. H. Stephens State Historic Park near Crawfordville, GA

We really like this place, so we extended our stay for a few more days. We'll be here through Sunday night at this point. If the weather gods cooperate next Monday we'll continue our move westward.

Yesterday there was nothing planned, nowhere to go, no schedule... we just enjoyed the warm (upper 70's) sunny weather, took a walk, read a little, and cyber-scouted the path ahead. I worked a little on the website, but a slow-ish connection makes uploading pictures tough. I also did a little research on a couple topics for the future.

Today, Thursday, we're going to seek out a grocery store that's about 20 miles away so we have something to eat for the rest of the week. Dar may do a load or two of laundry. There's a front coming through the area today and the accompanying clouds, wind, and cooler weather make this the perfect day for chores like that.

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Hook Day

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 -- A. H. Stephens State Historic Park near Crawfordville, Ga.

Ok, let me try this again! I lost about an hours worth of brilliant thoughts I'd written into a post on this blog this morning when something went wrong while saving it. I have a weak and variable internet connection here and it apparently became very weak and very variable just when I went to save my post. Dang. I hate when that happens.

Dar and I decided that we'd refer to yesterday as "hook day" -- the day we made the big turn toward the west, the direction we'll now be predominantly going as we work our way to the west coast by March.

After saying our good-byes with Cousin Debbie yesterday morning, we fired up the bus and headed to the bus's 7am appointment with the Cummins dealer in Columbia for an oil change, chassis lube, and generator service. While that was being done, Dar and I found a Panera and did some online research on places to stay along our way. We'd …

An Easy Drive

November 12, 2007 -- Eastover, SC

Leaving family or friends is tough -- especially when we've been parked near them for a few weeks. We experienced that again yesterday when we left Chris and Tim to move on with our adventure. There were a few tears shed as we said "good-bye" and pointed the bus toward the south. Their companionship, hospitality, and talent with food lulled us into a state of comfort (and an expanded waistline) that wasn't easy to leave. Tim even made a batch of his world-famous cookies for us -- "comfort food for the road", he said. A huge "Thank You" to our good friends for making our visit so wonderful!

The drive to the Columbia, SC area, our next objective, was an easy one. The weather was perfect, the traffic light, only 100 miles, the bus performed flawlessly. On the way, we stopped at a Flying J truckstop for fuel and propane. South Carolina's tax on diesel fuel is very low and, thus, so is the price relative to surroundi…

Dumping with Friends

Thursday, November 8, 2007 -- Near York, SC

Chris and Tim had their first RV'ing adventure yesterday. They rode along as we took the bus to a county park campground about 10 miles away so we could dump our holding tanks. I'm sure it was an experience they'll not soon forget! The entire process, including prep'ing the bus for travel and setting up for living again when we got back took a couple hours -- but, hey, we're not in a hurry.

During the afternoon the four of us and Heidi the dog went for a walk at the Anne Springs Close Greenway, a 2000 acre nature preserve in Fort Mills, SC. There are walking trails, bridle trails, primitive camping, nature walks and more at this wonderful facility. We chose a path that circled a small lake. Once again, the day was perfect autumn weather. I have no complaints about the weather here... except for the early morning temps this week.

Did I mention that it got to 29.8 at the bus early this morning? That it was warmer in Wisconsin…

31.6 degrees this morning

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 -- Near York, SC

These days I'm keeping my behavior in check as I don't want to do anything to tick-off Dar. With the nightly low temperature getting into the lower 30s I need all the heat I can get, and that little furnace I'm married to can produce more BTU's than our camper's heater at times. So I've learned keeping her happy keeps me warm at night. I'm sure it's a survival instinct. I'll be on best behavior at least until global warming takes hold.

A common assumption we run into when staying with friends is that we'll stay in their guest room. This happens almost every time and we sincerely appreciate the offers. Not everyone understands when we decline. But we have a great Tempurpedic bed, all our clothes and toiletries, and plenty of heat (see above) right there in our camper. Staying in someone's guest room means we've got to pack a bag -- not a major thing, but a little hassle nonetheless -- and move fr…

Battlefields and Vineyards

November 5, 2007 -- York, SC

Gosh, it's been 4 days since I posted to this blog. Better get caught up.

Last week, I think it was Thursday, the four of us, Chris, Dar, Tim, and I, drove over to Kings Mountain State Park and the Kings Mountain National Military Park. It was a bright, sunny, but cool day -- the kind of weather I'm really growing to like. When I first heard that there's an old battlefield here I assumed it was from the Civil War. But my ignorance was soon apparent as I learned it's a piece of history from the Revolutionary War. It was a small battle but it was a decisive win for the patriots, who desperately needed a win, having had a loosing streak in the south up to that point. The time was October 1780. Only about 1000 men on each side. All were Americans except for one British officer, a Major Patrick Ferguson. The loyalists, who were fighting for the British, were recruited Americans who wanted to remain loyal to the British crown. The patriots were bac…

Time with Tim and Chris

November 1, 2007 -- York, SC

Most of our time in the past few days has been spent catching up with our friends, Tim and Chris. The four of us have gone a lot of places and done a lot of things over the past 30 years, and it's fun to reminisce. They have a year old Bernese Mountain Dog named Heidi. Bernese are considered "working" dogs and they can weigh upwards of 100 pounds or more. Their distinctive coloration is mostly black, with chest, muzzle, toes, tip of tail, and blaze between the eyes being pure white, and then some rust/brown color on the legs and face. It's a distinctive and good-looking dog.

We've also been working on a few projects around their estate. Tim and I completed an aggregate path that winds through a piece of woods from their backyard to the small lake on the back edge off their property. Dar and Chris spread a trailer-load of pine needles that's used as a mulch-like material in landscaping. The weather's been good for this kind of wo…