Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Greensboro to Goodlettsville

Well we had a great July 4th weekend with the kids and grandkids from Florida.  Ally was to begin here choir camp at Elon University on Tuesday so it was time for us to begin the next leg of our trip.  We said our goodbyes the previous evening so we just had to finish putting things away outside and in and take off. 

We decided to take a different route heading west toward Nashville due to the work being done on westbound I-40 I mentioned in a previous post.  Using one of our favorite travel tools, Streets &Trips, we discovered that the route we had planned to take on westbound I-40 was only 13.5 miles less than heading north from Winston-Salem to Virginia then to Knoxville, TN and east.  So we decided to avoid the possible delays on I-40 and headed north.  Once north of Winston-Salem not only did the traffic thin, the landscape became more rural. 

This days journey was relatively short, only a few hours.  As we were nearing the Virginia border we passed through “Andy Griffith” country.  Mount Airy, NC (Mayberry) is his hometown and Pilot Mountain, NC (Mt. Pilot). Andy made numerous references to traveling to Mt Pilot.  We did not stop as it was already becoming unbearably hot and we were just anxious to get off the road.

2010 NC Trip 7-1 to 7-6_0656 Pilot Mountain, NC

Arrived at Fort Chiswell RV Park in Max Meadows, VA at 1 p.m. The outside temperature was 106.  Got setup and then ready for a dip in the pool.  Well the dip didn’t last long.  The pool was hotter than bathwater.  What a disappointment.  It was too hot to use the grill or stove so we just nuked some hotdogs and opened a can of fruit cocktail for supper. 

When the sun got a little lower we took a walk around the campground.  We met a couple from Georgia, who stop at this campground twice a year on the way to and back from Vermont.  They were sitting at their picnic table playing dulcimers.  After talking with them a few minutes we discovered that they got interested in dulcimer playing at Stephen Foster State Park in Florida.  We were at Stephen Foster State Park several years ago.  While there we were invited to a campsite to listen to music.  There was a bagpipe player, violinist, and guitarist.  According to the dulcimer couple, there is a certain weekend a month when musicians gather. 

The next day was going to be just as hot so we got a 7:30 start.  We headed toward Knoxville, TN, and  stopped for gas and LP there.  The temp. sensor on the side of the motorhome read 113.  The Flying J was a madhouse and it took us a half hour to get back on the road.

The next campground was in Crossville, TN just a couple of hours east of Nashville.  It was a nice place, mostly seasonal sites but there was a large section for folks like us.  I imagine if we were there on Friday, Saturday or Sunday it would have been busy with folks from the city getting away for the weekend. 

We did meet some former Wisconsinites there.  The are now in Arkansas.  They came over when they saw the dogs.  They had a neat Class B.  They were so proud of it they gave us a tour.  What a nice little unit.


A short 2.5 hour ride took us to Nashville Country RV Park where we will stay for four nights.  The temperature was 105 when we stopped for the day.

Friday, July 9, 2010

From Kentucky Horse Park to Ashville, NC

We headed south on I-75 from Lexington, KY toward Knoxville, TN.  The drive is easy and not too crowded until we near Knoxville where, as usual, city congestion ensues.  In Knoxville we pickup I-40 eastbound through the Smokeys. 

Shortly after we enter North Carolina we see that the westbound traffic has come to a slow crawl when traffic narrows to one lane.  Around Valentine’s Day (2010) a rock slide closes westbound I-40 just east of the Tennessee/North Carolina line.  I am told it took months and many millions to remove the rock and repair the roadway. Now crews are trying to stabilize the mountainside to reduce chances of another rock slide. 

The traffic seemed to be backed up for 20 miles.  The only alternatives are taking local mountain roads to Hot Springs, NC, and pick up I-40 westbound east of the slide. Or take I-26 north to I-81 south a significant detour.  Many are caught off-guard by the traffic jam simply because they are unaware of the work until it is too late.

Everything is compacted in the Smokeys.  The mountains are much smaller both in height and at the base.  As the highway winds around them the curves are tighter.  Speed limits are not suggestions.  If they say 55 mph for trucks it is for a reason.  Another difference is the exit ramps.  You need to dive out of traffic and slow to 20 mph to make the curves without mishap.  Entrance ramps are iffy sometimes they are really long and sometimes not.  I guess it is all a matter of space. 

Rest areas are compact not sprawling as the rest areas out west or to a lesser degree in the Midwest.  Rest areas in the Smokeys are snugged-up between the highway and the mountain.  The parking for semis and RVs is more like parallel parking, not the angled pull-through we are used to. 

Traffic is generally heavier heading east.  A plus is that most Interstates are at least 3 lanes in each direction.

We stop for the night in Swannanoa, NC at Miles Camper Sales and Campground.  It is a nice place close to the Interstate so it is easy on, easy off.  We are in a valley surrounded by the mountains.2010 NC Trip 7-1 to 7-6_0740

Kentucky Horse Park

The Kentucky Horse Park is part of the Kentucky State Park system. Opening in, I believe, 1978, the Kentucky Horse Park is 1200 acres of pastures, museums, equine presentations, show venues and seminars. We were here to see a special exhibit through October 2010. “A Gift of the Desert: The Art, History and Culture of the Arabian Horse,” celebrates the Arabian horse. There is also a museum dedicated to the American Saddlebred. This breed was developed in Kentucky over 120 years ago. The park will host the 2010 World Equestrian Games September 23 to October 10. This is the first time that the event will be held outside of Europe.

The Kentucky Horse Park is a great place for horse lovers like me.

What can I say but wow. Beautifully maintained, wide shaded and paved sites, beautiful well-maintained pool, and a shuttle to the horse park. Just off of I-75. Do I sound like an ad? Well I highly recommend this campground.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 4th Weekend Reunion Part 2

A picture is worth a thousand words. So these should be worth seven thousand.

July 4th Weekend Reunion Part 1

We planned to meet on Friday, July 2 at the Greensboro Campground. Tom has used MS Streets and Trips to plan our route and each day puts the info into “Jill” our Garmin GPS and we are set.

Problem--our Streets and Trips is 2005. Tom has found Fields Campground, which he called before we left to make reservations. He is told that “Greensboro Campground (GC) has taken over for Fields. GC doesn't tell him that Fields is actually closed and GC is getting their calls. So Tom makes reservations for four nights and enters the address for Fields Campground in the GPS.

“Jill” works like a charm and took us right to Fields. Taking a wrong turn or getting lost in a strange town is always stressful, but when your vehicle is a 32’ motorhome pulling a car it is worse. You cannot back up towing a car, so you need a space to turn the whole thing around or you are forced to disconnect the car. Disconnecting the car is no big deal except it is just a pain. Well we find a place to turn around and stop to check our camping directory which has the correct address and directions. When we get home we will invest in a current MS Streets and Trips. You will see that getting lost and misinformation is a theme for the weekend.

Dave and Amy did not have the same trouble we had and got to the campground a couple of hours after we did. It was sure great to see everyone. Ally and Brandon have gotten so big in the year since we last saw them. Ally will be going to choir camp in Greensboro the following week and that is why we decided to meet there.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

North Carolina Trip—Day One

  • Fridge Trouble (Self-inflicted)
  • Is the Garage Door Closed
  • Road Construction in Indianapolis and Indiana Roads in General
  • Hidden Paradise Campground

Fridge Trouble (Self-inflicted)

Here we go again.  The motorhome was on the street and the car was hooked up when we noticed the fridge did not light.  When we were at the Wisconsin Samboree two weeks ago we had problems.  We asked around and were told that the igniter needed cleaning.  So after cleaning, it worked fine. 

So here we are ready to go and we are trying to clean the igniter.  I had the idea to get the can of compressed air from in the house and blow the dirt off.  So into the house I go—open the garage, unlock the inside door and search for the can.  I found one can that was almost empty in the laundry room cabinet.  On to the basement.  After some digging I finally found it.  Now back outside, making sure all the lights are off on the way. 

So Tom starts squirting air around the igniter while I go inside to check the fridge.  No luck.  Try again and again. No luck.  Then Tom asked me if the LP Gas Detector was on.  I check and no flashing green light.  That means it is off.  The LP Gas Detector is also an on/off switch  for the gas valve.  It must be on for any of the gas appliances (fridge, water heater and range) to work.  So once I turned it on everything it worked. 

Is the Garage Door Closed

I had just pressed the garage door button and we were just putting everything outside together when the neighbor stops on his way to work to talk.  Now, of course, I don’t look to see the door go down.  

We are on the road about 20 miles away when I thought about it.  Was the garage door closed?  I may have looked as we were leaving but couldn’t be sure. So I call Joe, mind you it is before 8 a.m.—not a good time to call.  Joe does not get up early as he works 2nd shift.  What luck he is up and will check the house for us. Whew!

Road Construction in Indianapolis and Indiana Roads in General

I don’t now what Indiana does with it’s highway money, but it certainly was not spent on I-74. Except, of course, in Indianapolis on I-74/I-465, where three narrow lanes barrel along at breakneck speeds with absolutely no room for error. Try this in a 32 ft. motorhome pulling a car.  I could almost reach out my window and touch the semis in the right lane.

Hidden Paradise Campground Somewhere off I-74

A sprawling campground with riverfront sites, wooded sites, so many sites (168) we didn’t get to see them all.  The camping directory states typical sites are 34 ft. wide.  They didn’t give us one of those, oh no.  Our site was about 10 ft. from the motorhome next door.  On a corner near the bathhouse and laundry. Traffic was constant.  Things did settle down finally, then someone started shooting fireworks off.  Very loud fireworks.