DAY 10, EAST COAST TRIP. WANDERING NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA

The drizzle continued all night.  Sleeping was wonderful, but the KOA has the same glassy look as the nearby river.  Another six inches or so and we may all become one.  We got big wheels.  We’re outta here before then.

We finally unhooked the 5er.  Then Margo put me behind the wheel.  She regretted it within 200 yards.  Oh, well.  It’s not like I was intentionally driving poorly so the passenger will take over driving before she throws up scenario.  That would be cruel.

This F250 Ford is remarkably bigger than the 1500 Chevy Silverado we had. It barely fits in a large parking space.  In tight spaces, we fold the mirrors against the side windows.  I got to admit that’s a cool thing.  Works really well when I have to dodge a post or somethin’.

I’m amazed at the size of the rigs here.  I thought our rig was big.  These could swallow our rig and have room for a teardrop camper and a smart car.  The trucks hauling them are about the same size as ours but obviously bigger engines.  They crank up an engine across the park, and I have to hang onto my drink.  As their duallies crush through puddles they create tidal waves.  I’ve already had to throw life preservers to several crazy, wet hikers.

We wandered historical New Bern, but we look like fish out of water.  Everyone is in heavy waterproof coats and hats.  We are in sweaters and no hats.  Their heads are down; Ours is up yelling, “Lookit that.”  Like a bunch of turkeys.  As it began to rain, which it wasn’t supposed to do, Margo popped open the smallest umbrella ever made.  We fought for the dry sweet spot the whole way back to the truck.  I lost so I got to drive again.  With unerring daring and innate sense of direction, I eventually found Lowe’s Hardware.  Margo says we need a heavy flat-head screwdriver to pry stuff.  I think we needed a small, steel pry bar since that’s why she’s buying the screwdriver.  Screwdriver it is.  Into the basket went more batteries and another indoor/outdoor thermometer.  It wasn’t until a few days ago we found the outdoor remote of the 5er thermometer doesn’t work.  “That’s odd”, I say.  “I have the same problem with the one I switched out from the RV to the van”… sigh.  A new thermometer went in the basket.

I sped over to the Super Walmart with Margo hanging on and yelling Aaaeeeeeeee.  I think that means, Stay up with Traffic.  I did, although they were pretty durn fast.  I slipped into a parking spot and parked front out so I can make a speedy get away.

The SW was a super duper Walmart.  Things were sort of in the same place as back home but not exactly.  I needed to carry a tall stepladder around so I could find my way through the maze of too-tall shelves.  It reminded me of trees on the interstate.

Finally, shopping done we hurried home to let the dogs out.  Aaaeeeeeeee says Margo.  That means thanks for getting home quickly.

Margo doesn’t feel well so she went to wash clothes.  I offered to drive her over.

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DAY 9, EAST COAST TRIP. TO NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA

Woke up to drizzle.  I threw on some old clothes which I can change after we get everything hooked up.  I didn’t get too wet so I threw myself into the truck and away we went.  Never got toasty warm.

I got us lost in Raleigh when the atlas said to do one thing and the navigator said another.  I chose the atlas.  Darn navigator sent us on a wild goose chase before it got us back on the right road.

Just like most of our trip we drive through a thick corridor of trees.  We see trees.  We see sky.  We see signs announcing stuff “out there”.  Every once in a while we see buildings.  Boy, folks around hide lots of stuff behind foliage.

We pass over the Neuse River.  Margo tells me I’ve been mispronouncing Neuse for almost 250 miles and maybe I should learn the correct way before I’m branded a tourist.  I am a tourist.  I don’t find the river especially pretty.  The water is a dark brownish-black color.  I have no problem thinking something bad could happen if a boat motor quit working and cannibals with forks showed up.

The river passes by our rig, turns east north east and flows into Pamlico Sound before escaping into the Atlantic Ocean.  It doesn’t seem like we are at the coast.  Haven’t seen any seagulls.  No sea craft.  I don’t smell salt.  Where’s the cheap T-shirt places, people?

For the most part we drove under a drizzle.  Arrived at the KOA under it.  The attendant warned us the site was going to be muddy.  For as much as we pay, there should be a gold plated concrete pad for us to drive onto and they should carry our dogs to the dog park.

Yes, the whole place could use a super tanker full of gravel.  It does have a tiny white gravel with lots of white mud.  There’s mud puddles everywhere.  The grassy areas are under water.  We made a mess below our steps just getting in and out a couple of times.  I wish I had a big outdoor rug to throw out.  Then again, I’m not sure I’d be able to retrieve it from the muck when it came time to leave.  The dog park is one hyperactive dog away from turning into a plowed field.

We didn’t unhook the rig.  Silly us.  We were hoping to find a time when it wasn’t raining.  Six hours we are still waiting, and now it’s dark.  Not gonna happen tonight.  The 5er isn’t level.  It leans to the back of the rig.  Good thing the bed head is in the highest spot.  We will be sleeping on a slight slope, but at least our heads are higher than our feet.

I haven’t been in 100% humidity in seven years.  I hate it.  The dogs and we have brought in mud which no towel can clean.  The 5er smells like wet dogs.  My wet clothes are hanging in the bathroom in front of a heater.  Not getting dry.  I can’t get really warm.  Every time the dogs need to go out I snarl at them,  “You’ve got to go out?  Are you nuts?  It’s raining.  Hold it.”  We compromise.  They have to potty in our tiny plot of submerged green so in two leaps they can be back inside.

The rain is slowly increasing in intensity.  Are we going to flood?  I looked at the terrain on Google maps.  According to the page, the entire east coast is on the same plane.  Not quite, but almost.  I looked up the elevation where we are right now.  9.843 feet.  I can spit farther than that.  We’d have to drive west three hours to get above 50 feet.  A far cry from the 6400′ and 4400′ we were living in.  My lungs must have a lot more capacity.  I should be able to run like a gazelle on the beach.

If we don’t drown, tomorrow we planned to go sightseeing in New Bern.  Looks like rain all day.  Darn.  I guess we can still drive around and look at the architecture and start getting the lay of the land.   I think we have to get to the ocean before my mind wraps around the idea of being at the coast.  Perhaps we can also take care of my longing for wrapping my mitts around some fresh shrimp.

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DAY 8, EAST COAST TRIP. GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA

Another day of driving.

More vehicles.

More people.

More hours in the vehicle.

We pass famous places.  Winston-Salem, Wake Forest.

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Boy, mile markers in decimal increments.  That’s close.

Another KOA.  We find the place without incident.  The first place where the rig is level without levelers.  This day is going good.  I open the 5er door and can’t quite comprehend what I see inside.  It is a cabinet door on the floor.  A cabinet door has broken off at the frame near the hinge.  I think the door wasn’t closed completely and slammed around as we were driving.  Now I gotta add it to the to-do list.  Grrr.

We are starving.  We unhook to go hunting gathering.  We can’t find the Szechuan Chicken business.  Look there’s a China Express, but we’ve missed it.  It’s moments like this I wish I had permanent gmaps on my phone and can immediately look to see how to get to that place without having to waste fuel.  We take the loop back around.  Not a little loop.  A BIG loop.  Finally we get our food and promptly get lost while listening to Navigator Alice tell us to take an even bigger loop to get back to the 5er.  The heck with this.  We turn around and go back the way we came.  I start practicing.  “Yes, Officer.  I know we’ve passed this place three times in the last half hour.  No, we aren’t casing the houses to break in.  We are just direction challenged New Mexicans.  It’s all these durn tall trees”.

The China Express is tiny.  Two tables because they want you to take it and git.  Fairly popular.  I choose hot-n-sour soup and steak and mushrooms.  Margo goes with won-ton soup and beef lo mein.  It was so good we had to stop from eating it all.  Saved some for morning.  Oh *rubbing hands together gleefully* breakfast is gonna be good.

Our refrigerator issue from yesterday disappeared once we unhooked and leveled the 5er.  The refrigerator doesn’t like being “2” out of level front to back.  We don’t bother hooking up to water, just like every day we’ve been on the road.  No real need to.  We shower in the KOA shower house.  Potty there too sometimes.  Got a couple jugs of water we splash over dishes.  Bottles of water to drink.  It’s not difficult as it sounds.  Feels like it’s practice for when I head out in the adventure van and water is limited.

I peruse the guest services guide given to everyone who stays in a KOA.  The managers draw the best route to the site and mark anything usual.  Hmmm.  A paltry six TV stations.  In bright red lettering is says “For severe weather information, watch Channel 8.  Severe weather shelter in restrooms, office or laundry”.  Oh-oh.  New Mexico gets an average of a quarter tornado a year.  New Mexico likes to cook the moisture out of ya; Not throw it up in the air.  Here it happens so often they slap instructions on the guest services guide.

We don’t take out the dish satellite thingie because it’s starting to rain.  I watch a DVD which I’ve run through the RV ubiquitous Jensen AWM965 AM/FM|CD|DVD|MP3/USB Wallmount Stereo with DVD Player.  Uh-oh I was piping the sound outside.  I hoped everybody nearby liked it.  Young Frankenstein.  Margo says she’s not listening, but she chortled at the good parts.

Margo reminds me we have only a few more days before we may be incommunicado for a length of time.  We won’t have wifi where we are volunteering.  It is for this reason I got these posts completed and auto published.  If you don’t hear from us for a while, don’t be alarmed.  Will get downloads done when it safe to do so.

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DAY 7, EAST COAST TRIP. TO CANDLER, NORTH CAROLINA

Friday.  I think it’s Friday.

Today’s trip is special for we cross over into the state where we will spend three months.  It’s also probably the toughest as we go up and over the main crest of the Appalachian Mountains.

It begins after we chow down on last night’s leftovers.

north carolina not there gps 2018 jan 28.jpgThis evening’s campground location is a little more illusive than the previous ones.  The little navigator doesn’t work.  Well, it works.  It just can’t find an address in North Caroline.  Did someone move it?  We didn’t realize NC wasn’t in the set of digital maps.  I pulled out my phone.  Gmaps.  I forgot to download offline maps to my phone.  We aren’t flying blind.  We have our trusty paper atlas and the prerequisite magnifying glass.  Let’s hope the KOA is like all the previous ones and posts good signage.

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Well, at least we know wher we are at.

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Gmaps answer to where we are.

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This is the way to help out the human navigator.  This orange line is the bomb.  Oh, yeah, that’s good.  It’s better than good.

I click on Osmand, another free map app.  Nope.  It quit working in Oklahoma because I didn’t buy the other state maps.  Why didn’t I?  I don’t remember.

We joined the wagon train of travelers in the right lane heading up.  Before moving to the mountains of New Mexico this might have made me uncomfortable.  Eh, it’s no big deal now.  We join the trucks in the right lane going 50.  Oh, lookie.  Lighted tunnels.  I wonder how long they are?  Not long.  I sat and made small talk while Margo drove.  She was perfect, but did admit to nerves once we stopped.

Had a minor issue getting fuel.  As usual it’s not until we get a visual of the gas station that we determine whether we can fuel up or go on to try the next place.  Our little phone app says three stations at the next exit.  Surely we can find one that fits our needs.  So many big trucks are pulling out we are obliged to go in a north entrance.  But it puts the truck’s gas fill on the wrong side.  We’ve learned to drive to the back of the station and turn around and slide in to the pumps.  We start to the back and are stymied by lots and lots of curb islands.  Margo does a squeaker out of the parking lot back to the feeder road.  Another 300 yards and into a station that only pumps diesel.  An attendant directs us to go up and turn right which will take us back to the first station from the other side.  Can’t see a thing as we thread through a field of big rigs.  Darn if we didn’t pop out at the other pumps.  It’s now or never.  Margo threaded between the pumps and store and took a quick left to miss the pumps but get close enough.  Four inches of hose to spare.  It’s still a squeaker but it’s a win.  We are learning that getting to gas pumps is more stressful than pulling into a camp site.

sign koa 2018 jan 26Oh yay.  There’s the first KOA sign.  I tell ya.  They do a fabulous job of pointing us to the place.  Love them big yeller signs with a red teepee.

I got right to work on our navigating issue.  Downloaded offline gmaps and the different section of mapping on the navigator.  I went to Osmand to download.  Now I remember.  They were the first company I’ve seen that wanted payment by bitcoin.  Ha, ha, ha, ha.  Their site is at a halt until they figure out a way to pay without giving away a potential billion bucks.  Good luck on that guys.  How about using good, ol’, American money?

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We do have one issue with the place.  The dog park is more than 100 yards from the upper section.  In the winter, they only open the upper section.

 

 

 

 

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DAY 6, EAST COAST TRIP. TO CROSSVILLE, TENNESSEE

Well, this KOA has won our award as loudest night so far.  It’s hard to ignore sound when you can see the cars zipping by a mere 200 yards away.  I swear the sound hits the front of the 5er and turns it into a drum.  I can ignore the tire hiss with a little work.  It’s the jarring jake brakes which has me waiting for the sound of crunching sheetmetal and screams.  Do you people here not sleep?

We got a leisurely start and then meandered across the long state of Tennessee.  Lots of rolling hills which appeared to stump some of the truckers.  Twice we ended up behind big rigs which struggled to get to the peak and then did fine afterward.

We think there’s a lot of rivers until I look at the atlas and see we’ve passed over the same river four times.  Am pleased to see the many campground signs along this section.

We broke off the internet to get to the KOA.  I think it’s a quarter mile away.  Of course, we can still hear traffic.  Margo promises me our final destination will be very quiet.  Until then, we get used to the idea as long as we are in a KOA it will probably be noisy.

We’ve been eating nuts, cheese and peanuts for breakfast and by mid afternoon we are hangry as heck.  WE.NEED.FOOD before we end up in opposite corners of a boxing ring. We unhook, toss a mental coin and turn in to a non-descript restaurant which promises country cookin.  The house specials sounded good, and with a nudge from the waitress I went with meat loaf, squash casserole, and mac n cheese.  Margo ordered beef tips, salad, and mash potatoes. A little square of sweet cornbread filled out the plate.  The portions were generous and let me not beat around the bush.  The food was very, very good.  Two thumbs up from us two.  Brought half home.  Breakfast is not going to come out of single service plastic bags.

This KOA is huge.  The owners have already bought more land to add more cabins and RV sites.  They hope to add more acreage and make ATV trails.  Wait?  Noise from two directions?  Until then the additional acreage has been turned into a hiking trail.

The best was the tiny hobbit house…

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KOA tiny hobbit house.

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Inside the hobbit house.

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Pond and dog run. 

 

crossville koa rabbit 2018 jan 26

This is a wild previously domesticated bunny.  Its brown friend wandered by the evening before.  Did someone forgot to close a rabbit pen somewhere?

 

 

Tomorrow we roll after a good breakfast.

what is this building meterology maybe 2018 jan 21.jpg

Totally unrelated other than it was seen a couple of days ago while traveling.  What is this?  We see them scattered around here and there.

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DAY 5, EAST COAST TRIP. TO HURRICANE MILLS, TENNESSEE

[Hitch jamming seems to be a normal part of RVing.  Thanks to Barney for giving me a link to a no jam hitch suggestion.  But I can’t find it so can you give me another link?]

I noticed Margo peeking at my trusty navigator.  Yes, I can set it to show miles to go, altitude, time to get there, and a couple more things I forget.  She can also see what the speed limit is and how fast she is going.  I can see her brain spinning into the 21st century.

Hey, Arkansas.  Where are your cattle?  Your goats?  Your hogs? We see forests of swamps and grain fields full of water.  I remember this is the area is known for Bigfoot.  Yo, Biggie.  Come on out.  If I can catch you, I can make a million dollars.  Yeah, like I wouldn’t run away screaming…

We pass over the mighty Mississippi River into Tennessee.  Big bridge.  Truck took it just fine.  Margo’s getting good at the gas pedal.

We can also ask, “Where are Tennessee cattle?”  Only in the last 30 minutes do we see any.  We did see lots of soggy, fallow grain fields with lots of wild geese and ducks.  It is awesome.  Wish we could pull over and watch them, but they aren’t any where near the interstate.

There are more 18-wheelers on the highway than passenger vehicles.  In hilly areas they must pull to the right lane and stay below 50 mph.  Perfect for us too.  We feel very comfortable fitting in with them.

It was quite the drive.  Our longest day so far.  288 miles.  Six hours.  We are exhausted by the time we turn in to the RV park.  If we weren’t that tired, we’d say, “Hey, Loretta.  Bring your guitar.  Come on over”.

Our KOA campground is nice, and so is the manager.  He is retired from Illinois and says being in Tennessee is like being in the tropics.  We didn’t have to disconnect to be perfectly level north to south.  Needed a little leveling help east to west.  We are starting to like the 5er.  We don’t have to lift a heavy hitch or stabilizers.

I get to set up the dish thingie outside and for the first time in days, get more than the 13 or so channels on the KOA cable system.  Argh!  Lousy movies on TCM.

This is our 5th day of getting up and driving until mid afternoon.  We keep the mileage down so Margo doesn’t hurt so much from driving so many hours.  I think that next time we will plan a day off from traveling about every fourth day.

But we didn’t, so tomorrow we wake and do it all over.

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Sweet gum seed pod.

east coast oklahoma 2018 jan 21

Typical Oklahoma landscape from a couple of days ago.

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DAY 4, EAST COAST TRIP. TO NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS

We can feel the change before we get out of bed.  The winds have died down.  Yay.  Yay.  And more yay.

Who knew that the closer we got to the east coast the more traffic on the interstate?  We didn’t, although logic tells me that would be so.  Couldn’t sling a sack without hitting a big rig.  They get close behind and pull over sooner than we like, but man, can those truckers drive.  In Oklahoma City, we almost side swiped one.  He gave one honk and thundered on his way.  I wonder if his heart was beating as fast as ours.

east coast truck hitch 2018 jan 22.jpgWe’ve been eating poorly.  I need a salad.  This means we must disconnect to get to a store.  The ground is sloping.  What if the unhitching goes wrong?  What if we can’t get it apart again?  I think we will go crazy if it doesn’t.  We pulled into our spot and lowered the front legs.  Margo backed up.  The hitch gave a jiggle.  I gave a mighty pull.  It worked.  Yay.  It worked.  It worked.  We can eat the rest of this trip.  Yay.  Yes, I know, we can pull into a store with an RV.  Lots of people do.  We aren’t ready to thread through parking although if we find a big parking lot with open space we just might.

The KOA folks gave Margo directions to the super Walmart.  Trust but verify.  I reach for the portable navigator.  Margo hates for me to reach for it.  Thinks we aren’t having fun because we aren’t being spontaneous.  This is going to get good because I can see we are heading into deep woods, not the expected business area.  I can go into a long story in my favor, but let’s just say she has new respect for that little screen.  We arrive at the largest Walmart we’ve ever seen.  It’s got everything.  I mean everything.  Is this THE flagship?

This morning the KOA manager comes by and removes the empty propane tank, fills it and puts it back in.  That’s 53 pounds I don’t have to slide into a small space.  Win-win.  Paid royally for it.  $33.  Ouch.

Today we cross into Tennessee.

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Scratches from getting hit by tumbling tumbleweeds.

 

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