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Showing posts from October, 2007

TVA Norris Dam

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October 29, 2007 -- York, SC

One thing we never have to worry about when visiting our good friends Tim & Chris is going hungry. Tim is an amazing chef and throws together, with little apparent effort, the most wonderful meals. I'm going to have to pace myself or I'll gain weight for sure during our visit. We do have a few work projects on the docket that may burn up a few pounds so it may balance out in the end.

While we were in the Knoxville area a few days ago we took an afternoon and drove up to one of the TVA dams to learn and recreate a little. The Tennessee Valley Authority, or TVA, is a federally owned corporation created by congress in 1933. It's goal was, and is, to provide electric power, flood control, navigation, and economic development in the watershed of the Tennessee River -- an area comprising most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. It has 29 dams on the Tennessee or it's tributaries that p…

250 Miles to York, SC

October 27, 2007 -- York, SC

What a great day for a drive in the country! Our trip from the Knoxville area to rural York, SC, in the Charlotte metro area, took us through the Appalachians on I-40. It was one of the most spectacular drives in a long time... the fall colors were in full bloom, the sun was bright, the air clear, the traffic relatively light... some pictures were taken but they just don't do justice to reality. Wow.

This was the first real mountain test for the bus and I was anxious to see how it performed. I was pleased. On the way up the Cummins motor had power to spare despite pulling about 36,000 pounds. On the way down, the potentially most dangerous segment, the strong exhaust brake provided more than enough energy to control our descent with only nominal use of the regular brakes. The grade was as much as 6% and we had no problems at all. With this knowledge, we're ready for any mountain around.

Our typical "moving" day sees us getting started abou…

Visiting Friends; Tennessee Karaoke

October 26, 2007 -- Heiskell, TN near Knoxville

The Excapees Raccoon Valley RV park was nearly full when we checked in here on Wednesday. We had to take a spot with no hookups. But yesterday, Thursday, a full hookup site opened up and we moved. Even though we can exist without hookups for a week or so, it's nice to at least have some electricity and water, which was our limiting item this time as we only had a nominal amount in the tank.

This is the first time we're staying at an Escapees park. It's an organization we joined a few months ago that promotes safe and responsible RV'ing and stays on top of changes in laws affecting the lifestyle. They have a number of RV parks around the country and offer deep discounts to members. This is the oldest park in the system and while it has a charm to it, it's old and was designed with much smaller RV's in mind. Thus, sites are small and maneuvering can be a challenge at time. On a positive note, the people are wonderful.…

Just a great day!

October 23, 2007 -- Nashville, TN

Due to the hour, this post will be neither long nor particularly witty.

We just got back from seeing the Tuesday Night Opry at the Grand Ole Opry House near Opryland... and we had a great time. The show is also broadcast live on WSM radio in Nashville. The Saturday night version of the show is supposed to be the oldest continuous radio program in the U.S., having been aired weekly on WSM since 1925. After experiencing the show tonight, I'm convinced that Garrison Keillors' "A Prairie Home Companion" is a parody of it... right down to the similarity of sponsors -- Grand Ole Opry's Martha White Biscuits and Prairie Home Companion's Powder Milk Biscuits. I've been in the audience of both and they feel very similar. And that's a good thing. I like 'em both.

The show we saw tonight included Jeannie Seely, Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens, Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, Mel McDaniel, Rebecca Lynn Howard, and the bluegras…

Grand Ole Nashville

October 22, 2007 -- Nashville, TN

After our overnight in Bowling Green we bid 'adieu' to Ginnie and Kevin and got rolling for Nashville about 1pm. It wasn't the most pleasant drive as we were headed almost directly south and directly into the glare of a bright, hot sun. The truck traffic was also heavy and the winds were gusting out of the Southeast. We did stop for fuel near the Tennessee state line and filled for less than $3/gal -- something to write home about these days. The short drive today felt longer than it was and we were happy to park and get set-up for a couple days here at Two Rivers Campground near the Grand Ole Opry House and the Opryland Hotel.

Almost all of Kentucky and Tennessee are part of the extreme drought that's plagued much of the southeast this year. Nashville is 16 inches below the average rainfall for the year. The reservoirs are drying up. There's talk of rationing water in some areas. Considering all this, I'll put up with a few rain…

Almost 400 miles

October 20, 2007 -- Bowling Green, KY

It's midnight, so this is going to be a very short posting.

By the time we got the bus ready and the toad hooked up this morning it was 10am. So, for us, a comparatively early start. Considerable quartering headwind for much of the day cut into bus performance and mileage, but we still managed to do better than 7mpg as reported by the bus's onboard computer. I thought making it to Louisville would be good for the day, but with Dar sharing the helm today, we managed to make it painlessly to Bowling Green -- about 380 miles for the day, a new record. Dar has a good friend in Bowling Green and today she tested that friendship by calling her only two hours before we would be in town! (Talk about the dreaded "drop in"!) But Ginnie and Kevin rose to the challenge and not only invited us over for dinner... they let us park in their driveway. Both the food and conversation were great. Thanks, you guys, for a wonderful time!

It's only …

2.2 miles

October 19, 2007 -- Nappanee, IN

That was it... just 2.2 miles! That's how far we were from the tornado that touched town on the east side of Nappanee last night at about 10:30pm... and, let me tell you, riding the storm out in the bus was like the old "E" ticket rides at Disney.

We were aware that heavy thunderstorms and tornadoes were a possibility last night... we even watched one line of storms come through. That first line kind-of split, with some of it going west and north, and the rest of it going east and north. When I went to bed about 9 or 9:30pm, there was another line of storms coming, but it looked weaker and like it too might split around us. Unfortunately, I was wrong and it built to much more.

About 10:15pm, I was awakened by the heaviest rain we've experienced since living in the camper -- an absolute deluge. The heavy rain was accompanied by high gusty winds too. The camper was a'rockin and a'rollin and I was starting to get a little concerned.…

Small-town charm

October 18, 2007 -- Nappanee, IN

Day 2 of our Newmar repair visit. Despite heavy rain most of the night our service tech was here right at 6am to pick up the camper and drive it off to the service bay. Did I mention that it's still dark here at 6am? We headed right downtown to our favorite breakfast spot, the Corner Cafe, and had another wonderful hot breakfast. Today, Dar was curious about an item on the menu called "fried mush". We got there so early, about 6:10am, that the mush was still cookin' and wasn't available for order yet. But after we finished our more conventional breakfast, and after the mush was ready, our waitress brought Dar a sample. I'm sure you're wondering what it could be, as I did. The best way to describe it is "northern deep fried grits" -- it's made out of cornmeal and cooked, boiled, in a pot until any flavor the corn once had is gone. I'm not sure about this part, but I think they add some fiberglass for consis…

In for repairs

October 17 -- Nappanee, IN.

You know you've been in Nappanee for enough time when you've learned how to spell it... some letters are double, some not... it's all very confusing. But I've got it down. There are a lot of towns around here with unusual and, for me, hard to spell names. Take Wakarusa, or Mishiwaka, or Shipshewana, all of these are real names of real places within about 40 miles of where I'm sitting tonight. It's enough to keep those spelling-challenged people among us busy for a while. Then there's a place called Vistula. Vistula? To me it sounds like a medical condition, but why would they name a town after a medical condition? One of those deep mysteries that may never be answered.

Anyway, Nappanee is the hometown of Newmar -- the builder of our camper. We drove down (or would "over" be a better term?) here from Illinois yesterday, the 16th. Since we're passing through the birthplace of the bus, we wanted to take advantage of so…

On the Move

We left Beaver Dam on Thursday, yesterday, and are now moving south through Illinois and Indiana on our way to an appointment with Newmar -- the people that built our coach. We won't be back through Indiana for more than a year in all likelihood, and there are a couple small items that need attention under warranty.

Both Dar and I grew up in Beaver Dam and our parents and other family members are still there, so we had a wonderful 3 weeks visiting and putting some extra deposits in the "hug-bank" for later withdrawals as we're traveling the South this winter. We left with mixed emotions -- an emptiness from knowing we won't see these good people for 8 or 10 months, but excitement to get on with our journey.

As is typical in this part of the country, the weather made a dramatic change the last few days from upper 80's and high dew points to more normal high temps in the 50's and low 60's and much lower humidity. But the winds that brought the change were…

Summer in October

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The weather's been unusually warm and summer-like here in south-central Wisconsin. The last few days -- and the next few too -- feel more like summer than October. The "normal" high and low are around 60F and 40F; today is going to be well into the 80's. Of course, we all know the bottom will drop out any day and it'll be instant winter before long. With some luck we should be heading south before that happens.

It isn't all romance and adventure... this living in a motorhome thing. On a "per square foot" basis, there's more maintenance and upkeep than our previous "normal" home. Most people don't wash the exterior of their home more than every few years, if at all. But the bus has to be washed every month or two or it really starts to look like hell -- not unlike a car. Waxing the exterior makes it easier to clean but that's a big project itself. What we've been doing is waxing an additional chunk after most wash jobs. It he…