Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Gaffney Getaway

Freightliner Chassis Service Center, Gaffney, SC May 25 – 30, 2016


It is our habit to schedule a thorough maintenance checkup for Big Guy at the beginning of every trip. This helps make sure the RV is in good shape and ready to travel so we can spend more time exploring and less time in a repair shop somewhere. Normally, I call 6 weeks ahead of the time I want to show up at the Freightliner Chassis Service Center (FCSC) to schedule an appointment.

But apparently I’ve been flapping my big mouth too much, telling everyone how great the service is and they ought to go there. I called on March 28 to set up a mid-May appointment only to be told there were no openings. And they could only squeeze us in for one day on May 27, even though we had almost two days of work we wanted done.

So, our plan was to show up on their doorstep a week early, look pitiful, and hope they could squeeze us in here and there between other appointments (Sometimes it works). That way, if we could get some of the minor stuff out of the way, they could finish us up on the 27th.

Things rarely ever go as planned as they had a cancelation on the 26th allowing us to have 2 consecutive days for service. This meant we no longer needed to show up early. It’s a good thing to keep your schedule flexible and just go with the flow. As it turns out, FCSC was able to wrap everything up on the first day.

We altered our schedule to arrive mid-afternoon on Wednesday, May 25th, so I could check-in and let them know we were here and ready for our appoinment. This way I could beat the Thursday morning crowd of old men lining up waiting for the doors to open to sign up for service. It worked out pretty good. But maybe I shouldn’t say anything since this place is already getting too popular.


As promised, the service tech was knocking at our door at 8AM. We had unpacked the car and under the bed stuff the night before. All we had left in the morning was to load Ms Mocha and her paraphernalia into the car for the day. It was pretty warm out so we kept the car’s air conditioner running most of the day to keep her comfortable. She’s not spoiled at all.


Glad to have the service out of the way, but the early release didn’t help much as it is was Memorial Day weekend, meaning our chances of getting into a campground somewhere were slim to none. So we asked and got permission to stay right here in the parking lot. Turns out, there were 4 other RVs in the same situation, so we just made a social event out of it.

There was even a camp kitty which everyone kept well fed. It was a feral cat, you could tell by the clipped ear. Our next door neighbors Michael and Heather took very god care of it and tried to find a it a home by making up flyers.


One day EJ and I wandered over to Spartanburg to check out the RJ Rockers brewery.

RJ Rockers

While it was was fun…


The brews we tried, Boy Scout Stout and Son of a Peach, were just so so. The Tap Room is a warehouse with bar stool type seating and you can see the bottom of the tanks in the above picture. There is no air conditioning so it will get quite warm in the summer.

After our mid-afternoon beer we consulted an Android app named “Around Me” to find a place where we could take a walk. About 2 miles from RJ Rockers was the Hatcher Garden Woodland Preserve. A perfect place to spend an hour strolling through the woods and burning up a few beer calories.


Much to EJ’s chagrin, a much advertised Gaffney Farmer’s Market failed to materialize. We saw several advertisements for it, but whenever we went it was never there, even though we arrived during the posted hours. The only thing that was there was a fried fish restaurant on wheels. It didn’t look like he was doing much business either. He was probably wondering where everyone else was.

On our last full day at FCSC we invited all the older motorhome owners (2004 to 2006) over for a cookout. Dale and Barbara, Jaye and Suzi, joined us and we cooked filet mignon, hamburgers and hot dogs. It was good sharing stories and comraderie. We also showed our colors for Memorial Day in honor of those who have served and are serving to protect our people and our country.


Next stop, North Carolina.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tackling Tallulah Gorge

Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls, GA May 21 to 25-2016


This is a wonderful place to go hiking and sight seeing. Lots of trails, a museum with loads of historical information about the Gorge and the towns around it. The museum is named the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpetive Center. The first time we visited years ago, we wondered who Jane Hurt was and why she would donate a museum about yarn. Oops! A visit to the museum back then quickly showed our assumption was wrong. Do go if you’re in the area, and admission is included in the day use fee.

We had made reservations several days ago to make sure we could get in for the weekend. The on line reservation indicated there was only one site available that could accommodate our rig so we signed up for it.

When we got there, it turns out there were 3 open spots we could get into. We made our choice and settled in for the next 4 days.


After several hours of driving to get here, we needed to get some exercise. We took a hike down to the dam to see how much water was being let into the gorge. The answer was not much, enough to see some rapids, but not enough to do any kayaking.


After weeks of getting prepared, always being in project mode, and visiting with friends, we decided to just take Sunday off. It was a little cool (yay!) and Mocha wanted a warm lap to sit in.


Late in the day, we had a bit of a scare when the Clampet Clan pulled into the campground looking for a place to land. First they parked close to us then decided it wasn’t good enough and drove over the landscaping to get off the site where they had parked. The first part of the clan was driving a big Ford Expedition pulling a huge flat bed trailer loaded down with lawn chairs, barbque grilles, bicycles, and even a powered wheel chair. Next came an old travel trailer that had seen better days. Somewhere in this mix was a passle of kids. (That’s country for a bunch) We were relieved when they drove up over the hill to the other side of the campground. They wanted two sites side by side and we were between 2 empty sites that they were eye balling.

On Monday, we figured the tourists had left Helen, GA so we decided to drive over and see the sights.

On the way we, as we are known to do, we got side tracked by a covered bridge. The Stovall Bridge still stands, although it’s pretty much covered by graffiti.


How nice it is to visit a tourist destination when there are hardly any tourists there. No crowds to fight, no standing in line, it was great!

We had lunch at the Troll Tavern, so named because its under the bridge. Well, not really. But the outside dining area is lower than the bridge, so I guess that counts. Sauerkraut is really not my favorite, but EJ really wanted some, and I figured what the heck, it can’t be as bad as I remembered. It was on turkey ruben sandwich, and it was actually pretty good. I may have to revise my opinion.


After luch and walking around town, EJ suggested we go visit Anna Ruby Falls. You have to go through the Chattahoochee National Forest to get there. Once again the Geezer Pass came through and we got in for free. It was about a half mile hike from the parking lot to the Falls and back with some sections steep enough that we were wondering what happened to all the oxygen in the air.


And of course a selfie pic to prove we were really there.


When we got back two families had set up next to us, one with a tent set up in an RV only site. After a while, the camp host drove around and straightened that out. Ahh! The joys of camping in a state park.

On Tuesday, our last full day here, we took another hike in the park. Even though it was pretty warm in the direct sunlight, most of the hike was under the trees and comfortable. The views were gorgeous and we found a spot where we could actually see the gorge and falls.


Some of the local wildlife.


Frank thinking “Boy, this is really deep!”


What’s left of one of the Karl Wallenda towers.


And if you walk down 310 steps you get to cross a suspension bridge. Then you get to walk back up 310 steps.


On Wednesday our visit comes to an end and it’s time to pack up and go. Part of the process is to protect Sunny. Over the years we’ve tried various forms of toad protecters and each one resulted in damage to the car is some fashion. From chipped paint to broken fog lights. We hope this method will be the answer. Thanks KC & Sheila for sharing the info for this great product.


Our next stop will be Gaffney, SC where Big Guy will get his annual maintenance.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Blue Ridge Blast

Blue Ridge Lodge and RV Park, Blue Ridge GA – May 17-20, 2016


No matter how far in advance we know the date we plan to leave, we’re scrambling at the last minute to get ready. And, there are always little projects, jobs, that pop up that you hadn’t planned on. We don’t know how other travelers seem to have their act together as they calmly prepare to travel. For us, it’s always frantic.

However, our mode, once on the road, is to slow down and take it easy. There is absolutely no sense in busting our butts trying to make mega miles every day when we don’t have to. Which is why we took two days to get to Blue Ridge, GA. It’s a 430 mile trip, and we don’t like doing more than 200 miles a day. In fact, we prefer closer to 150. But the folks we’re going to visit, Jim and Shelley, are leaving on Sunday, and we want to spend a couple of days with them so we’re going to stretch the miles a little bit.

Because of cheaper fuel prices, more RV’ers are on the road, campgrounds are more in demand and overnight stays are getting more expensive. Our research is already finding that rates are running $40 and $45 a night.

We always like to have an idea of where we will stop for the night with an alternate, or backup plan. Generally Walmart is the backup plan. But since the temperatures are uncomfortably warm, we will need to run the air conditioner, which means we need an electric hookup, or we’ll have to run the generator.

Just before we got to Dublin we came upon something you never want to see.


It was a pretty bad accident. They shut down a section of the hiway and rerouted traffic to bypass the scene.

EJ found a small little known campground in Dublin, Georgia that caters mostly to construction workers. She called to see if they had a space for us. The owner said they had 2 empty spots but they had just had 3 1/2” of rain in the last hour. It was wet, but we shouldn’t get stuck! They accept Passport America which means we can stay for half price. That saves us $20 right there, so we decide to check it out. Our backup plan was a Walmart about 30 miles on down the road.


We snagged the No. 1 spot where we are posed to depart ASAP if necessary. As you can see it was a pretty small RV Park. If I remember correctly, it had 15 sites with full hookups.


In Blue Ridge, there are 2 RV Parks, Mineral Springs RV Park and Blue Ridge Lodge and RV Park. Mineral Springs is the cheaper of the 2 at $35 per night for full hookups and 30 amps. But the moment they find out you are in a motorhome the price gets jacked up by $10 a night because they require you to use a 50 amp connection. No amount of cojoling can convince them you can use 30 amps just fine. Nope, they have it their head that you will burn up their electric connection if you hook up to it. That’s 300 bucks a month. That’s twice what we use in our 1400 square foot house during the hottest months of summer.

Blue Ridge RV Park is slightly more expensive at $40 but they only charge $5 for 50 amps. Again, no negotiation was accepted. Mineral Springs RV Park is located in a depression that gets very muddy when it rains. Blue Ridge Lodge and RV Park is high on a ridge and you actually have a view. So at $45 a night at both places, it was a no brainer.


We spent two a half days with Jim and Shelley. Jim is a bourbon afficianado and I’m kinda partial to it myself. So we had to sample a few varieties during our stay. Of course we made a visit to downtown Blue Ridge where after a brief shopping foray, Jim and I retired to the local pub to sample a few brews while the girls continued shopping. They call it a Husband Daycare Center.

While we were there, another couple came in and we watched them while she played with her smart phone and he played kissy face with his parrot.


On Friday, I watched Jim ignite a brief but spectactular inferno that singed the hairs off of his forearm. He had converted a portable fire pit from wood burning to propane. Some serious design modifications are in order after that quick although glorious fireball.


Later that day, we went exploring and found a local brewery.


I thought the name was rather appropriate given my normal disposition. We enjoyed talking to the owners who started brewing beer as a hobby. They are now doing their “last” building expansion as they are needing some more room for supplies. They say they are not interested in growing the business because it would then seem like more of a job and less like a hobby. This way they can hang out and drink beer with their buddies.

We also found out that Georgia has some strange rules when it comes to breweries. They can’t sell their beers to consumers. So instead, they sell “tours” where you can sample the beers. The tour consists of pointing at the brew tanks and saying that’s where the beer is brewed. But hey, where else can you drink beer all afternoon for the price of a $10 tour.

Even EJ and Shelley had a few sips. Wait a minute, I don’t see any mugs.


All too soon it was time to leave Blue Ridge and let Jim and Shelley pack up for their trip back to Florida. Our next destination is Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls, Georgia.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It’s Been Busy

Wow! Since we returned to Orange Park in December 2015 it’s been a whirlwind of projects.

Replaced a windshield in Big Guy.


New roof for the townhouse.


New sidewalk and patio.


Getting Miss Mocha squared away. (She has hyper-thyroidism).


New (to us) toad.


Repair Big Guy ceiling in slide that leaked in 2015.


Peel off ugly 3M shield on front of Big Guy.


Replaced Big Guy house batteries with AGM 6 volts.


Rewired Big Guy to incorporate a hardwired voltage/surge protector.


Fell off a ladder.


Improved shoe storage.


Took shooting lessons at the local indoor range.


Drank some beer.


Painting part of the deck. Paring down our closets. Adding a new loveseat to Big Guy. Add extra solar panel for a total of 640 watts. Had new shocks installed. Removing stuff from Big Guy that received little to no use over the years.

All this led EJ to remark “All we’ve done since we got back is get ready for the next trip!” Well, she’s right! We end up feeling guilty if we are not constantly working on some project.

We even managed to squeeze in some fun with friends.


But finally, all the projects are done and on May 17 we are hooked up and ready to go.


See ya down the road!