Jackson Goes Hunting for Sand Rabbits and Finds a Crab Who Held Its Own

As soon as we arrived at the campground in the Outer Banks and got settled, we took Jackson for a walk on the beach.   Most of the beaches are dog friendly so long as the four legged family member is leashed.  Well it wasn’t long until Jackson’s nose went to work.  It proved that rabbits were going to be hard to find, so he turned his attention to the locals.  He stuck his nose inside a big hole and came out with a “not so neighborly” crab stuck to his nose.  Shortly after he began to dance around the crab.  Every time he barked at the crab the crab’s claws would go up, right on cue.  It was actually pretty funny to watch.  Don’t worry, the crab was not eaten or even bitten.  It truly held its own.  It crawled sideways all the way to the shore with Jackson on its tail the entire way until it was saved by a wave.  More adventures to come for sure.

Inner Banks of North Carolina

We arrived at Chocowinity, NC which is a small town in the inner banks of North Carolina.  We stayed at a really neat campground, Twin Lakes RV Resort.  Finding a site proved to be rather  interesting.  First, we always book full hookups, which means, sewer, water and 50 amp electric service.  However, when we arrived at the site we were assigned to, we noticed that the tree branches where so overgrown that there was no way we would be able to park underneath the trees.  To our amazement, there was no septic either.  So we went back to the office and were told to find a site that suited us and park there.  So after driving around the park for a while we found two spots side by side, as we were still with Walter and Linda West.   Once parked, we decided to explore the area so we drove to New Bern.

New Bern is the home town of famous author, Nicholas Sparks.  Also, it is famed for a late 1800’s pharmacist, Caleb Bradham, who mixed up a syrup of coca, kola nut extracts and rare oils with carbonated water to create what we now know as Pepsi-Cola. 

We also visited Bath and Washington.  Bath is the oldest city in North Carolina and it is very, very small, yet very quaint and also on the water.  The architecture is typical of homes built in the 1700’s and the interesting part, is that most are still in use.

On a sad note, the campground we are staying in is only about 1/4 mile away from the area struck by a devastating tornado, which caused tremendous damage.  The campground was spared, which is good, because usually they are tornado magnets, but the neighborhood around it, not so much.  Hopefully, they recover soon.

Tomorrow we leave for the outer banks of North Carolina.  I’m pretty excited as I has always wanted to go there.  Stay tuned!


What We Did While in Mount Airy, NC

The first time we went to Mount Airy, NC was last year on our return trip from visiting the North East.  We only spent two days at the Mayberry Campground, knew that we enjoyed the area and would return.  So when the opportunity presented itself, we did.  We planned to stay for a week and on the back of our minds we wondered what were we going to do there.  But, we were pleasantly surprised.

To those a bit older than me, LOL, you probably remember the  Mayberry tv show.  We visited the Mount Airy downtown area, which they have fondly named Mayberry.  We visited Floyd’s barber shop, the jail, and even Andy Griffith’s home, which, is actually gets rented to the public as an Inn.  John and Walter really wanted to her their hair cut at Floyd’s.   Apparently, he used to cut Andy Griffith’s hair, however he is 92 years old, rather frail and just no longer cuts hair.  Regardless, we were able to at least see the inside of the barber shop.  It is amazing how many pictures of famous people he has tacked on his walls.

The jail is now in the back part of a building which currently houses a hair salon, so if you want to visit you must go through the lobby of the building.  Still we were able to visit and the guys even enjoyed a short stint in one of the cells.

Andy Griffith’s home

We drove the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way to Boone, NC, together with our friends Linda and Walter West.  I had never been to Boone and thought it would be a fun ride.  Well, as expected the drive on the BRP is gorgeous and since we packed a picnic lunch.  We ate lunch upon our arrival in Boone atop the beautiful mountain view on Howards Knob County Park.  My adventurous spirit was leading and to get to the park, we needed to master a very narrow, twisty road, which apparently no one was really excited to go on.  When we finally got up there, all was good, we enjoyed our picnic and most importantly, we enjoyed the view.

We also visited Shelton Vineyards for a private patio picnic and wine tasting.  Shelton Vineyards is in a beautiful setting in Dobson.  Another small town 15 to 20 minutes away from where we are staying.  When we arrived, we realized the vineyard was hosting a corvette show.  There were corvettes in all colors and interiors.  It was quite interesting.

We will be heading to the “inner banks” of North Carolina to a small town known as Chocowinity tomorrow.  

We’ve left Greenville,SC and are now in Mount Airy, NC

We arrived in Greenville, SC on Saturday, May 17th, 2014 and parked on the parking lot of the clubhouse for the subdivision in which we lived almost 14 years ago.  Because the parking is not designed for RV’s, we had to dry camp, which is also called “boon docking.”  All I can say is thank goodness for our generator. When you turn the generator on, you get electricity, hot water from the fresh water tank, you can use your heater and/or air conditioner.  You can even turn on your tv’s.  Boy, I would not camp any other way.  I’ve always told John that I would gladly glamp – glamorously camp – but I will absolutely never camp.  Anyway, we stayed there for 3 days visiting our old friends, Bruce and MaryClare Hadsell, and driving around town.  Downtown Greenville has been refurbished to almost it being unrecognizable.  It is absolutely beautiful!

We drove to Mount Airy, North Carolina on Tuesday, May 21, 2014.   Yeah!!!!  No rain on the way.  We arrived at Mayberry Campground and met up with our Florida friends Walter and Linda West.  Oh boy, we missed our drinking nights, but surely remedied that situation quickly.  LOL.

Today we went to lunch at 13 Bones and had the most delicious baby back ribs that just absolutely fell “off the bones”.  

Jackson has fallen out of grace with his food and our friend, Linda introduced us to what she feeds her dogs.  We gave Jackson some of it and he absolutely loved it so off to Tractor Supply we went and bought him some delicious food.  Thank goodness I no longer have to go crazy thinking about what to mix his food with.

Sevierville, my you have grown!

Driving in the rain does get old.  It seems like every time we get ready to move from place to place, Mother Nature does not care to cooperate.
We arrived in Sevierville, TN on Friday, May 9, 2014, in the rain, uneventfully though, thank goodness.  Upon our arrival, we could not tell where Pigeon Forge ended and Sevierville began.  I was amazed by how much this place has grown.  The last time we were in the area was about 2 years ago.  We rented a cabin for Christmas and were joined by all the kids. 

The campground we are staying at is Cove Creek RV Resort and it is in the Wears Valley area.  There we were met by Linda and Walter West, and joined them for a meet and greet at the clubhouse.  

On Tuesday, May 13, 2014, we decided to go for a drive around Cades Cove.  Cades Cove, for those who have yet to have the pleasure of knowing this place, is an 11 mile one-way loop road, where you can see deer and other wildlife.  It has an incredible feel of serenity and it is a beautiful place to visit.  Much to our surprise, we had the opportunity of seeing deer, “three” black bears, wild turkeys, and even a pileated woodpecker.

On Thursday, we drove the area.  The views in this area are spectacular.   Gatlinburg with the Smokies as a backdrop.

The sky lift to Ober Gatlinburg

Our view from the campground

Tomorrow morning we will leave Sevierville, TN and on to Greenville, SC. we will go.

Oh my! I thought we had good seats at the Derby.

The Kentucky Pipe Trades hosted us to a day at the races today.  So back to Churchill Downs we went.  This time however, it was a bit different.  No.  Way different!  Don’t get me wrong, we had amazing seats at the Derby and absolutely no reason to complain about a single thing, and I certainly am not.  We did not sit in hot metal bleachers, we had a very comfortable box with six chairs, we had a covered roof, the bathrooms were clean with reasonable lines, we ate what I thought to be relatively decent food for such an event, i.e., hot dogs, nachos, various sandwiches, meat skewers, drinks, etc., you know, the typical stuff.

Well, these Kentuckians know how to host a party.

We were able to park within a very short distance from the valet entrance.  We walked in through “glass doors”, and the entire area was air conditioned.  We were escorted into manned elevators, whose operators made sure we all had our proper credentials and once certain that I was indeed a legal alien, up to Millionaires Row we went.  Oh dear.  No hot dogs there, no nachos there, heck no sandwiches there.  For that matter, no paper products of any kind either, linens and silver only, thank you very much.  The room we walked into was huge.  The betting windows were immediately on the right, to your left was the dining area and the entire length of the room had glass doors which allowed access to various different level balconies right on the finish line from where you could view the track.  The dining area itself resembled a large banquet hall with many tables all nicely decorated and properly appointed.  Waitresses were constantly walking around, each focused on attending to your needs for libations.  If you got thirsty, it was your own fault. There were three beautifully appointed buffets, each with copper pans, not your typical metal chaffing dishes, and all of which served many varieties of absolutely delicious food.  

There was a glass art display depicting a day at the races at Churchill Downs.  It was incredible and had to be at least 30 feet long.  Churchill Downs, the scoreboard, the people,  the horses, the jockeys, the stalls, everything was made of blown glass.  I could have spent hours looking at this display, as I was amazed by its intricacy and detail. 

I have many pictures to post, but I forgot my charger and my phone is dead so they will have to wait.  Sorry.

What a great afternoon.   We had a wonderful time.

Tomorrow morning we pick up our baby, Jackson, and then on to pick up the unit, which was in RV hospital all week, by the way, but that’s another story.  Once everything and everyone is retrieved, we will be on our way to Sevierville, TN. 

Derby Day!!!

We woke up on Derby Day and had a full schedule ahead of us.  First on the agenda, our baby Jackson was taken to a kennel.  We were not happy about it but we were out all day and John had to attend a weeklong conference immediately after the Derby at The Galt House, which is not a pet friendly hotel.

We arrived at the Derby around noon, all dressed up and our hats in place.  We were absolutely amazed by what we saw.  The crowd was huge, but yet very organized.  Mint juleps were everywhere.  It was a gorgeous, sunny, yet mild day and everyone was smiling, having their pictures taken and just enjoying the moment.  Men in colorful seersucker suits, bow ties and hats.  Ladies in beautiful dresses complimented by big, colorful,  gorgeous hats, and let’s not forget flip flops.  I’ve never seen so many hats in one place.  We had amazing box seats under roof so we were not at all hot.  The races were exciting and it was an all around wonderful day.  Some people were up, obviously some down.  I have never seen so many people losing money and yet happy at it.  What an experience!  A great big checkmark on this bucket item.

Staying at the Galt House is wonderful.  Yeah, a real toilet and a bathtub!  Haven’t used those in a while.  LOL.  We have enjoyed wonderful meals, especially at Jack Ruby’s Steakhouse.  What a great place and the food…oh, the food is to die for.
Today is Thursday, May 8th and the Kentucky Pipe Trades will be taking us to the track again. Looking forward to yet another fabulous day.


The Beginning of our Permanent Vacation

We began this adventure on March 16, 2014 by attending our first Heartland rally which was held at Southern Palms RV Resort in Eustis, FL.  We met up with our long time friends Brad, Tammy and their adorable son, Jacob and went to Kiku’s for dinner.  Kiku’s is like Benihana and we had a real fun time and a great meal.  When we got back from dinner, we were talking to one of our neighbors and they mentioned meeting a couple who had a unique motorcycle carrier on the back of their unit.  They described the carrier and their unit.  I became curious and inquired a little more about the couple.  Come to find out, we had also met this couple last year in Carabelle, Florida.  I mentioned their names, LuAnne and KC Cox, and sure enough, it was them.   This is truly a very small world.

The rally started with a bang.  The leaders Linda and Walter West from Homestead are great people and made sure that everyone had a great time, especially the newcomers.  We had pot luck dinners, breakfasts, and lots of conversation and boy did we learn new things.

We met very nice people and amongst them a couple, Linda and  Tommy Sexton from Beaufort, SC who had a 12 week old female beagle, named Abby.  She and Jackson got along really well and boy did he become submissive to her.

When the rally ended we returned back to Palm City to make sure the house would be ready for our new renters.  Did I say we rented the house for two years and sold ALL of our furniture?  We kept important memorabilia like pictures, school work from the kids, etc., some special art work which we didn’t think we could easily replace, put everything in a small storage unit and said goodbye.

We then traveled to Tampa to get some work done on the unit and once done on to Ft. Myers to meet some friends, Bill and Sue Lillie, who recently retired in Cape Coral relocating from Chicago.  We drove south to Broward County where we made sure to see the family, said our goodbyes and then traveled north to Inverness to visit John’s mom.  While we were there, we met up with a couple, Bonnie and Rich Waltman, whom we had recently met at the rally in Eustis.  They happened to be staying near Inverness and it was a great opportunity to spend time together.

From Inverness we went to Cedar Key, Florida.  I had never been and always wanted to.  This is a small fishing village with a severe drinking problem.  It is very quaint.  We ate at Tony’s Restaurant, whose claim to fame is that they participated in a conch chowder competition with many others in the Northeast and won three years in a row.  Actually, the conch chowder was excellent!  You could actually order their chowder online if you want.

We then continued our trip and traveled to Pensacola Beach, Florida.  We stayed at a great campground, Pensacola Beach RV Resort, which is relatively new, and our site was right on the water.  We met up with Krissy and Mark, daughter and son-in-law of good friends we have known for many, many years back in Miami and went to Peg Leg Pete’s for dinner.  We also met a really nice Canadian couple, Laurie and Gordon Sheppard, with whom we connected really well and spontaneously enjoyed a wonderful time at Flounders, a neighboring restaurant, whose claim to fame is a drink called diesel fuel.  If you have to guess why, you obviously have never had one.  One is enough!  It is served in a huge mason-like jar and has all kinds of alcohol in it.  So if one diesel fuel doesn’t get you drunk, you are not human.

We left Pensacola Beach and headed to Gulf Shores, Alabama to join the AlaMissiBamaSippi rally.  The name is funny but it’s a combination chapter for Alabama and Mississippi.  The rally was held at the Gulf State Park right along the beach road in Gulf Shores.  It is a humongous park and it is really nice.  We arrived one week before the rally because we really wanted to explore the area.  However, mother nature had other plans.  It rained, and rained and rained so much during the first week, we thought we might need a canoe to get to the truck.  So, since we were stuck indoors it seemed like the perfect opportunity for John to work on some indoor honey do’s.  He totally redid the unit’s pantry and now it is totally workable.  I can buy food and actually store it.  What a concept!

The weather was much better during the second week, which was the week of the rally.  Jackson had a ball.  There were more rabbits than he could chase most of the time.  He actually “escaped” twice from the unit.  The first time, he only went several units away and I was able to get him back with relative ease.  The second time not so much.  He literally squeezed out the door while I was exiting.  Honest to goodness, he only had about 6 inches.  He bolted right into the brush following a rabbit and it actually took 5 people and a good 45 minutes to try to locate him.  As all beagles do,  they bay while on the chase, but when the scent is lost, they no longer need to bark.  Well, without him barking we couldn’t hear him and we had lost sight of him just as soon as he ran into the brush.  We were searching blindly.  All I can say is thank goodness for the GPS tracker I have around his neck.  I followed the tracker on my phone until it took me to within 10 feet of where Jackson should have been, except the brush was so thick, I could not see him.  I kept calling and calling him and he would not come to me, nor make any noise.  Right about then is when you start thinking all the worse thoughts.  i.e. I’m going to find the tracker collar loose on the ground and an alligator got him.  So for about 10 minutes, which felt like forever, I walked around the brush, getting really upset, and then suddenly, I heard his tags cling.  I still couldn’t see him so I lowered myself almost to the ground and finally saw his socks.  I called him but he wouldn’t come to me, so I had no choice but to crawl through the brush to go get him.  I really didn’t think about creepy crawlies, or alligators, or snakes until later that night.  He was all tangled, and boy was he scared.  When I finally got him in the unit after cleaning him up, he jumped on the bed and didn’t come out till the following morning.  I wonder if he learned anything?  Fat chance.

The rally ended and we got ready to drive north to Louisville, Kentucky to participate in the Derby events and for John to attend the Kentucky Pipe Trades Conference held immediately after the Derby.  Again, mother nature was not going to make it easy.  We had to drive in the outskirts of a terrible storm all the way paying close attention to tornado warnings all around us.  We spent the night in Athens, Alabama and continued early the next day, April  28, 2014, at the Kentucky Exposition Center, where we were assigned a parking spot.  Fortunately for us, because the spots are assigned on a first come, first served basis, we were successful in securing electric, water but most importantly, sewer.  The back end of the storm, as expected, came through overnight, and though very windy and rainy, thank God there were no tornados.  

We took a drive to Churchill Downs on Thursday, May 1st just to experience the place without the crowds, as the following day would be Oaks Day. Oaks Day used to be the day the locals went to the races.  However, since it was so widely publicized, the locals are not able to come to the track that day so just this year was the first year that Thursday is the locals’ day and it is now known as Thurby Day.  Unaware of this, no wonder we saw people dressed regularly in jeans and t-shirts and others just totally dressed up, ladies with beautiful dresses and awesome hats. 

On Friday, May 2, 2014 we picked up our neighbors, Louis and Vivian DeFelice from the airport.  We didn’t have tickets to go to the track that night so we went to dinner at a great place in the Highlands District.  We had a fabulous meal, enjoyed a selection of bourbons and then returned to visit and prepare ourselves for the Derby the following day.