Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Busy Week

It's been a whole week since our return to Minnesota.  Unfortunately, the weather hasn't improved!!  Urghhh!  Last night there were even snow flakes seen coming down!!  MeThinks we came back too soon.

Easter was a sunny day thankfully!  We spent a great afternoon at Ty and Jen's home where we got to see Grandma Joyce and Grandpa Cliff from Duluth along with Jeff, Jamie, and Shay who came from Nashville.  We all had a great time and appreciate Ty and Jen's gracious hosting of this event.  They hold a great Easter Egg hunt for the kids also! 

Here are a couple of the mud pie makers at home on their front porch:
This was cleaned up before their parents got home.

Here is an afternoon look across their backyard.  Deer and other animals frequently walk through here in the early evening:

Monday morning Bob took sweets to his former co-workers.  There have been a few changes there in the past few months, but not enough to entice him back into the working life.  Later in the day Bob and Brett went to our former house to help resolve one last "loose end".  It is now the buyer's place (not ours) and we hope this trip is the last.  On Wednesday, we had a local Freightliner dealer inspect and service the motorhome.  We don't want any breakdowns on our trip to Alaska later this year.

We kept the motorhome parked on the street in front of Brett's house for a number of nights, but moved it yesterday to an official campground, where we could level it up and put the slides out.  Now it seems like our house again.

Our daughter-in-law, Jen, has been on a trip to Scotland with her sister for the past week. We spent some time with Brett and the granddaughters during her trip and last night she returned - very late! The girls were sure excited to have her come home! Sounds like she had a great trip!

In spite of the weather, we're enjoying our visit in Minnesota.  We are going to a buffet tomorrow night with Denny and Diane which is being held by Carrie's culinary class - always terrific food!  We also have a lot more visiting with friends and family yet to come.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Back with the Granddaughters

Here they are:
We arrived at Brett's house about 2:30PM as a surprise (they were expecting us tomorrow).  David and Valentina came later in the afternoon, so we're getting our "fix" with the boys and their daughters.  Don't they look happy to see us?

We noticed on this last leg of the trip, that there were very few RV's on the freeway up here.  We're so used to seeing a lot of rigs on the freeways.  Why are there so few up here??

In answer to the above question, could it be the darn cold weather?  Tonight we walked to the park with the granddaughters and Paige had to go back to the house she was so cold.  Has our blood thinned out already??

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Still Headed North

We have remarked on seeing Spring in reverse as we have been headed North.  Well, now that we are into Wisconsin, Spring is not yet here:
None of the leaves have started to show any color.  Grass (where it is not snow covered) is the only green in sight.  We stopped near Wisconsin Dells, at Country Roads RV park.  We had heard a number of good things about this park, so we pulled in to find it covered with 4 inches of snow, and not scheduled to open until May 1 this year.  In the past they have opened in mid-April so they took us in.  WOW, talk about being Quiet!!
We have an extra day available before we are expected back in MN.  We don’t need it for weather delays, and Brett says he will have homemade soup waiting, so we will get to his place by mid afternoon tomorrow.  We will stop to pick up pies at the Norske Nook on our way.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Following Spring's Return

The campgrounds provided by the Corps of Engineers have all been very nice.  We mentioned that the one we stayed at Sunday was quiet, so was the one we found near Benton Illinois on Monday.  Here is a photo of our patio, set up for company.

About 2 years ago (when we still had the 5th wheel trailer) we met another couple who have a residence in this area, but live in their motorhome.  We have been following each other's travels since then.  They came out to our place on Monday afternoon for lemonade, then we went to their place for awhile, then we went out to dinner together.  It was great to touch base with them again.

As we travel north, we keep hearing that spring has not yet come to MN and WI.  Two days ago the dandelions were mostly white in TN, yesterday they were a mixture of yellow and white in southern IL, and today's are just getting started.  The leaves on the trees are also getting smaller; they are just now opening here in central Illinois.  Tonight (Tuesday) we stopped at a State Park for a change.  There are others at this park who are also traveling north, but they are traveling slower since it is still snowing in MN and Wisc.  We may spend an extra day here hoping that the weather in MN will become tropical.  Phoenix sure is looking good!

We still plan on getting to Mpls on Friday.  We're so anxious to see family and friends!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Again On the Road

The past week has been fairly busy at the Rally near the Great Smokies.  Three to four seminars were held each day, but Friday was a scheduled "day off" of sightseeing.  Some went golfing, some went "ZipLining", we took a motorcycle ride with no destination or route in mind.  Traffic in the commercial areas of Pigeon Forge was packed.  What a relief to get out of town.  We headed southwest through Wear Valley and Townsend before turning south into the National Park.  We came across Little River Road, and had it almost to ourselves
This pleasant byway took us generally East (but definitely not in a straight fashion) back to US441 and Gatlinburg where the traffic craziness returned.  With some showers and high winds forecast for later in the day, we chose to head back to the RV park.  After dinner, about 100 of us took advantage of a special offer to see our own music show at the Majestic Theater.  It was a very Hi Energy song-and-dance session with music from the 50's-80's - just the thing for a lot of Baby Boomers.

Many blog readers are motorcyclists, so I want to share a photo of a setup here at our park:
This Dyna (Super C Freightliner) was built as one of only 2 prototype Toyhaulers.  The sidecar is used by this couple's dog.  How's that for a way to travel in style?

The Rally ended with breakfast on Sunday morning, so now we have a week to get back to MN for Easter with all the family back there.  We pulled into another Corps of Engineers park just northwest of Nashville for one night.  What a great park; a little hard to find, but very nice and extremely quiet.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

RV Rally Time

The reason we came to Eastern Tennessee was to attend the RV Dreams "Smokey Mountain" spring rally.
We are set up at a private RV park in the town of Sevierville which is between Knoxville and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  This area really counts on tourism; it is like Wisconsin Dells on STEROIDS: plenty of music shows and restaurants, but also mini-golf, Zip lines, their own Titanic, and Go-Karts.  This weekend the area will also play host to a statewide car club, and many rolling works of art are already here and set up for showing:
As for the rally, there are about 170 or more people registered here and even more parked here.  The focus of this group is information for those who are just beginning to or about to begin spending all of their time in their RV - FullTiming as it is called.  So we are not alone in this endeavor.  There are people here from all over the country and Canada.  Many are already living fulltime on the road, and the others are within 3 years of making the big change.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tourists in Music City

The Corps of Engineers park were are staying in began to empty late yesterday, and a few more left this morning.  The weekend-people had to get back to w**k (old 4-letter word) and those who are traveling had other places to be.  We stayed in Nashville today to do some minor errands this morning and to wander around the downtown area this noon.  We took some backroads into the city and looked up a Diner/DriveIn/Dive location, although we didn't eat there.

We got a behind-the-scenes tour of a certain cable TV network (click on the photo to enlarge):

This was followed by some other "insider information": where to eat, where to shop, and what to look for while we were downtown.  Here is one local landmark:
The river looks a little higher than normal.  On our way home we took a detour to find the location of another Corps of Engineers facility.  The Seven Points Campground is also east of the city and located on J Percy Priest Lake.  The sites there are more widely separated, and more wooded.

We headed home as the forecasted stores came in right on schedule.  We had quite a lot of rain, but no hail or high winds like elsewhere nearby.  Tomorrow we will pull in the slides, raise the jacks, and connect the car to the rear and head East about 200 miles to Sevierville for week-long rally of other RV people.  There will be a lot of seminars and social activities on the agenda, so our blogs could be a little spotty for awhile.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend In Nashville

Thankfully, the campground is still open as the government is not shutting down!  So, we are still here in the Nashville area.

Yesterday we did some errands in the morning and then went over to Jeff and Jamie's in the afternoon to visit and see the very cute little grand-niece, Shay.  Shay looks just like Jamie with Jeff's hair color.  She wasn't too concerned with the strangers in her house and she was curious about the hair on Bob's face.  Jamie made a wonderful chicken pot pie supper for us with a pan of her mom's great fudge brownies for dessert.  We went home thoroughly stuffed!

Today we had a quiet morning doing laundry and reading the Sunday paper.  Jeff, Jamie, and Shay came over in the early afternoon to visit and see our motorhome.  There is a playground near the campground with a swimming beach which was real handy for an afternoon in the 80's.
Shay loved the slides!

Shay also loved the monkey bars.  Dad was close behind her.
Shay had no fear of the water.  There was a nice sandy beach here.
Shay progressively got wetter and wetter.  Here Uncle Bob was getting some of the sand off her.
Shay ended up crashing on Dad's lap.  Apparently she slept most of the way home also.  It was so much fun to spend time with her!  Luckily, we'll be able to see her and her folks again as they are going to Minneapolis for Easter also.

Eeek!  There's a Mouse in the House!!  This is the title of a book that we read many times to the granddaughters.  They know that grandma doesn't like mice.  Well, today we found evidence of a mouse in our motorhome.  Upon returning from Jeff and Jamie's last night, we heard some strange noise but thought it was birds outside.  Today we found that we had some noodles in a cellophane bag that had little chew marks with little pieces of cellophane in the cabinet.  Bob went for some traps so we are now waiting to see if they catch anything.  Yuk!!

Tomorrow we are planning to take in downtown Nashville as we've never really spent any time there.  We'll meet up with Jamie also as our mail was delivered to them today.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Another day on the road

No accidents to report for today, thank goodness.  We had a straightforward drive through Tennessee to a Corps of Engineers facility just East of Nashville.  We pulled in about 3:00 and set up quickly.  Jamie is working later than usual today, so we will do some errands and catch up with her and Jeff and Shay sometime tomorrow.
The only big uncertainty right now is that this is a Federal facility.  Without a national budget, there is a chance that all of us camped here might have to leave.  Right now it is still too soon to say.  It is a nice place and inexpensive, so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Life on the Mississippi

On Thursday we crossed Arkansas, from Texarkana on the west to the Mississippi River on the East. We are spending the night at Tom Sawyer's RV Park on the shores of the river. The tugboats are pushing barges up-river and down.
The drive was just a little longer than usual (just under 300 miles) but it took a lot more time due to a major accident on Interstate 40.  We don't have all of the details, but the road became a 2-lane parking lot for over 2 hours.
People were walking around and talking to others for most of this time.  Everyone was pretty patient - thinking about those who suffered due to the accident.

Tomorrow we're heading to Nashville and will have a 4 day stay at the campground there.  Looking forward to seeing Jamie, Jeff, and cute little Shay!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Texarkana Again

After waiting for the winds to decrease on Monday, we left the Dallas area yesterday and headed for Texarkana.  The temperature was in the low 90's on Monday and we woke up to frost on the car on Tuesday morning.  What a change! We camped here in early January just after we left Minnesota.  This is an Army Corps of Engineers campground.  Very quiet and pretty here with a great view of the lake.  We spent 2 nights here in January and are doing the same again.

We've been able to have some quiet time as well as do some errands.  We've had time to read our Nooks.  This is one of the electronic devices that we both have become attached to.  Using the Nook enables us to pick out books and download them very easily and not have the space and weight of books to be concerned with.  This sounds crazy but it is so easy to read a book without turning pages but just pressing a button.  You can put the Nook down and it remembers where you left off when you return to it. 

Grandpa noted that when we watch the news on TV here, they refer to this area as Arklatex.  The name of this town is Texarkana.  Both of these names reference 3 states that are close to here; what are they?

Monday, April 4, 2011

What a way to Travel (or Not)!!

The winds stayed gusty, but spotty, all night long.  The predicted rains were also spotty, until about 6 or 7:00AM, then the forecasted front came through here with thunder, lightning, a big wind change, and dropping temps.  AC power was lost throughout the entire campground, but we said to ourselves "So What?"  It sure is nice to be high and dry, along with lots of battery power and an AC inverter.  As we cooked breakfast (yes, a hot one today) we couldn't help but think of the one tenter across the campground and remember the years we tented too.  I expect our sons remember some of those days as well.  At 8:00 we started the generator to recharge the batteries and watched the sky brighten.  The worst of the weather was East of us (the way we had planned to go) so we said "Let's extend our stay here in the Dallas area and go shopping." 

What a realization that we can do things like this - we really don't have to be anywhere at any particular time.  What a life!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blew Through Dallas

The most memorable item to report today is the wind. 

We stopped outside of Abilene at Tye last night.  The campground was right off the freeway; noisy and not very pretty.  It was 95 degrees when we stopped at 4 after a long day of driving.  With wind forecast, we wanted to get as far as possible with a goal of being in Texarkana on Monday for a 2 day stay at a Corps of Engineers campground.  We hunkered down after setting up the motorhome and put on the air conditioning to keep it cool and help eliminate some of the freeway noise. 

Once it started getting dark, the wind started up.  Now, anyone who knows us well, knows that Bob can sleep through anything so it was up to Paige to monitor the wind and make sure that nothing was being damaged.  She did her job so well that there was nothing damaged except her sleep!

We left around 9 a.m. and the wind was already pretty strong and forecasted to be even more.  Bob did a good job keeping us on the road and we arrived at our KOA campground just East of Dallas at around 1:30.  This gave us time to do errands, laundry, grocery shopping and have a good dinner at a local restaurant - a clone of Famous Dave's from MN.  Meanwhile, the wind continued - gusts around 35 mph.

While going around Dallas, we noticed that there were several instances of cars stopping along the freeway to take pictures of children/family/friends among huge areas of blue flowers.  In order to feel part of the local culture, we took one of me (note the wind swept hairdo!).  This was taken on a local frontage road not the freeway, however.
We found that these blue flowers are the State Flower of Texas - anyone know what they are?  This picture doesn't do them justice - they are very pretty.

We'll be watching the weather and heading to Texarkana, TX when travelling looks good - hopefully, tomorrow.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Back into Central Time

With a relatively early departure, and nothing "touristy" to delay us along the way, we ended up putting in a longer day than expected.  After putting in long days back in January to get away from winter's cold, we have found that 200 to 250 miles per day is a comfortable target.  Today's mileage was nearly 300 - we are spending the night just outside of Abilene, TX.

Between comments from our followers and phone calls to family back home, we understand that quite a few friends and family are reading these postings fairly regularly.  Thanks for the feedback.  It makes it easier to put these thoughts down, knowing someone is actually reading them.

Now to really bother those readers: although it is only early April, we have been forced to run the AC.  A little bit yesterday, and even more today.  We are trying to get ahead of some forecasted high temps and high winds.  So far the winds haven't yet been bad, but the higher temps are catching us (low to mid 90's).  This is just too hot for us "SnowBirds".

On a brighter note, Texas is on Central Daylight Time - same as home.  We don't have to figure times before calling those who are still "snowbound".  (I know it is melting, but it can't be all gone yet.)

Friday, April 1, 2011

On the Road Again

Yesterday's post was actually written on Wednesday the 30th, but was submitted on Thursday morning because of a slow Internet connection.  Later Thursday we left AZ, after being there about 2 months.  We went back to the same RV park we had stopped at back in late January in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Just fairly flat US highways and Interstates.  The only thing of note was an accident scene just outside of Las Cruces where a pickup and 5th wheel had gone into the median and rolled over.  Both were destroyed with all of their possessions strewn along the median.  What a "wake up call" to not drive when tired or distracted!

Today was a little more interesting: first a Border Patrol stop on US70 just outside of White Sands.
This was followed by playing tourist at the White Sands National Monument.
For the granddaughters who are reading this (as well as their parents) this spot is unique in all the world because of _____??

The next town, Alamogordo, had a very interesting Missile and Space Museum which we also looked through.
We left town around 1:00 PM and climbed East on US82 to the ski area of Cloudcroft and beyond.  This was a loooong uphill climb, that wasn't terribly steep, but it just kept climbing for at least 10 miles.  That put a little strain on the temp gauge.  We are spending Friday night at The Ranch, an RV park owned by Escapees RV Club members.  Their 4:00PM "Happy Hour" is a real social event.  We will keep pushing into Texas tomorrow, to try to stay ahead of some high winds and high temps that are forecasted for this weekend.