Monday, June 29, 2015

Sick Time in Tennessee

Sunday to Sunday (Jun 20-28) :

On Sunday (Jun 20) Connie and I went to the Cumberland Mountain State Park which is located a few miles outside of Crossville to do some hiking. We had some trouble locating the trail heads after getting a map at the ranger station. Ended up going back to the ranger station to get instructions on where the trail head was located for the Pioneer Trail which is a combination of two trails that total about 5 miles. We started out with two jugs of water and some trail mix in our back pack along with our hiking poles. Most of the trail is quite narrow with lots of rocks and tree roots, so we had to be careful where we stepped along the trail. Also it had rained the day before and there were areas of the trail that were muddy. The trail follows along Byrd Creek which has been dammed up in the park to create a small lake.

Are you sure we are on the right trail?

Various spots along the trail.

Going through "Fat Man's Squeeze"

A couple of bridges we crossed along the way.

Some "wildlife" we saw along the trail.

Various photos of the creek we traveled along on the trail.

Finally the end of the trail.

We saw this near the exit to the park, but we were tired and thought we would come back another day to visit the museum.

On Sunday evening I started running a fever which I continued to run for a couple of days. On Wednesday morning we went into Crossville to the Crossville Medical Group Walk-In Clinic. After filling out the required paperwork, we had a short wait before we saw Dr. Mark Sherrill who was one of the founders of this group. After an examination, some blood work and urinalysis, Dr. Sherrill diagnosed me as having an infection in my prostate (we were concerned I might have gotten something through a tick bite from the hike). He put me on an antibiotic and told me to take it easy for the next few days. We were impressed with the clinic, its staff and the efficient way it was run. I was expecting to have to wait for hours on everything, but we were only there for about two hours to have all of this done.

So not much to write about the last week. I have been getting better after running a fever for several days which left me quite weak. Hopefully things will continue to improve as we prepare to leave Crossville and head south of Nashville this week.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A few days in Crossville - Trip to Knoxville

Thursday-Saturday (June 18-20):

Not much to report from Crossville, Tennessee. It has rained almost every day that we have been here sometime during the day or night. We have tried to walk the county roads around the park each morning, but have run into loose dogs on the roads. We took the motor home into an RV shop near us to have the refrigerator looked at again. The owner of the shop has had a lot of experience with RV refrigerators and he thinks the problem is the temperature sensors inside the refrigerator and freezer are not working properly and need to be replaced. He ordered the parts and they should be in next week.
Moon coming up over the lake
We went over to Knoxville, Tennessee, on Friday to do some shopping at Whole Foods and Costco. The trip to Knoxville is about 60 miles and takes about an hour. The Whole Foods in Knoxville is located right off of I-40 and was easy to find but difficult to get into. The road in front of the store is only a two lane with no light to help you get in or out of the parking area. We ate lunch at a local pizza restaurant and then went over to Costco. While at Costco Connie discovered that her membership had expired. We decided that since we will not be buying anything in large quantities not to renew the membership. While we were inside Costco, a thunderstorm hit the area and we were glad to be inside. Connie did get her glasses adjusted while we were in Costco so we accomplished something by going there.

On Saturday morning it rained again and I did some catch up work for my previous employer. We went into Crossville to look for some "dining room" chairs since the ones we have are not very comfortable. We found a couple at one of the local stores that might work, but decided to keep looking before making a final decision. Then over to Walmart to do some shopping including replacing our vacuum cleaner which broke on the trip over from North Carolina.

Connie enjoying the "comforts of home on the road"

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spring Lake RV Resort - Crossville TN

Monday-Wednesday (June 15-17):

On Monday morning we packed everything up, ate breakfast at the Tom Johnson Camping Service Center restaurant and went back to start up the motor home and head on down the road. The motor home would not start. After testing the batteries we suspected they had gone bad. We tried to charge the batteries but they would not hold a charge. We had to purchase two new starter batteries for a total cost of $430 from the parts department at the Service Center. Another item replaced that hopefully will last us a few years. Once I had installed the new batteries and returned the old batteries to the Service Center, we were able to start up the RV, hitch up the Jeep and head towards Tennessee. From Marion we got on I-40 and headed west for 210 miles until we reached Crossville TN. There a couple of steep grades coming from North Carolina into Tennessee where we got in line with the trucks in the right hand lane, We arrived at the campground around 4:00 PM local time after crossing the line between Eastern and Central time zones.

The campground, Spring Lake RV Resort,  is a few miles off of the interstate down TN 101. Once we got the RV set up, we ate dinner at a local B-B-Q restaurant (so-so food) and then did some grocery shopping. Connie was taking her shower after I had finished mine and ran out of hot water. Our Oasis heating system is suppose to supply us with unlimited hot water, so we knew we had a problem. We turned everything off and decided rather than look at things in the dark we would wait for sunlight on Tuesday.

Tuesday morning we found that all of the fluid (it is a special type of anti-freeze) that is heated and then used to heat up the water had all leaked out of the system. So we have a problem. We think that the hose has a hole in it since we found fluid on the chassis underneath one of the lines. We ended up calling a local RV Service Center who have a mobile unit and they will come look at the problem on Thursday morning. Until this is fixed we can only heat a small amount of water at time with an electric pot we brought along (we can use this to wash dishes). The campground has showers, so we are taking our soap, clothes, etc. to the building where they are located in the evening to get clean. So agin, we are dealing with more problems with the Duchess. We are hopeful that sometime in the near future we will reach a point where we can have some time without having to deal with problems (i.e. refrigerator, batteries, awning, Oasis, etal.).

The campground here is small with only 63 sites all with full hook-ups and 50 amp electrical connections. They also provide free wi-fi (which sometimes is good and sometimes is not - this is the usual pattern for most campgrounds) and cable TV which is great since we cannot get over the air TV channels at this location and this gives us local channels. Most of the sites surround a small pond and are back-in sites that are very close to each other. There is a group of Masons from Central Tennessee who are having a Rally here at the campground. We met one of our neighbors who left Wednesday morning, Jimmy & Becky, who are from Arkansas. They are retired and RV for a few weeks at a time before returning back home. Jimmy is one the administrators of the Living the RV Dream Facebook group.

All set up at the Spring Lake RV Resort - Site 45

Small lake that most of the sites back up to.
Crossville bills itself as the Golf Capital of Tennessee. There are a number of golf courses in the area and most years they host several state-wide tournaments at one of the local courses. With work and the problems we are having with the RV, I doubt I will have any time for golf the next few days.

On Wednesday I spent the morning "working" for my former employer before we took a trip in Crossville to do some additional shopping. Since our refrigerator freezer in not making ice, we picked up some cheap ice cube trays to use in the basement freezer to give us some ice. We also visited "The Gardens" which bills itself as America's premier RV home base community. It is a neighborhood of houses built with large garages to house RV's. The houses are nice but very expensive: starting at $225,000 and going up to $600,000. The area was attractive (with this price range there is not any trailer trash) with professional landscaping and a small lake, but too rich for us.

I met a couple last night who are from San Antonio and another lady today whose daughter and son-in-law live in Austin. Her daughter works in marketing for Tito's Vodka and her son-in-law is co-owner of a organic pizza place on east 6th street (after having sold pizza out of a food truck for 3 years).

Hopefully tomorrow we will get our Oasis system fixed and get back to having hot water on board again.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Historic Carson House

Sunday (June 14):

This morning Connie and I got up and took a walk along the Catawba River that is runs along the campground here. One of the "locals" told us there has been some talk about the county/city taking over the property and making it into a nice walking trail and having it tie into another trail that already exists close to this area.
View down the Catawba River

Most of the trail looks like this

This is the river that runs into Lake James that we visited yesterday.
We said our good-byes to Walt and Tina who we had met at the RV-Dreams Reunion Rally before they left this morning. They had also stayed in this campground for a couple of weeks after the rally had ended and are moving on to a different campground than us in Tennessee.

Walt and Tina had told us about their visit yesterday to the Carson House which sits on property next to the campground and how they had enjoyed the visit. We decided that we would go to the house in the afternoon (it is only open from 2-5 PM on Sunday). The original part of the Carson House consisted of a two story house built out of maple logs that was finished in 1793. A matching two story addition was added later with a dog trot between the two, then a third story was added along with the first & second story porches to finish off the house as it looks today.
View of the front of the Carson House.
The property was owned by Colonel (honorary title) John Carson and his son Jonathan Logan Carson before being sold several times over the years. It was acquired by the McDowell Historical Society in the 1960's and renovations began a few years later. The house has quite a history: it was the place that McDowell County was formed, served as the courthouse for a few years, hosted famous guests such as Davy Crockett and Andrew Jackson, and also spend some time as a boarding house. The Carson family became quite wealthy through land purchases, raising tobacco and flax along with owning a number of slaves. One of Col. John Carson's sons, Jonathan, fathered a number of children with his wife and another set of children with one of the slaves. Both sides of the Carson family (black and white) have joint family reunions on the site every few years. The house was ransacked by Union raiders at the end of the Civil War so all of the current furniture is period pieces that have been donated.
One of the downstairs bedrooms

This was a multi-use rocker. The nanny could rock the baby to
sleep while sewing.

Master bedroom on the 2nd floor.

The dining room - also was used as a meeting room.

The parlor where guests were entertained.
There is a Texas connection with the house as well: Sam R. Carson, one of the sons of Col. John Carson, moved to Texas in the 1830's, was an individual who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico and later served as the first Secretary of State of the Republic of Texas.We had an interesting time viewing the house and hearing about its history along with finding out about the Texas connection. 

We began the process of getting The Duchess ready to travel tomorrow when we will relocate to a campground in Tennessee.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Visit to Lake James State Park

 Friday-Saturday (June 12-13):

Friday was a day we stayed around the campground. Connie slept in while I took a walk around the campground before going over to the Camping World store to see they had some replacement parts for the motor home. They are in the process of remodeling the store and did not have any of the parts I needed, so we will look for them on Amazon or at another store down the road. I ended up doing some maintenance items on The Duchess along with working on our bikes. All in all in was a pretty laid back day.

Saturday morning we found a spider web between the windshield and passenger side mirror this morning and took it as a sign that we have been here too long and it's time to move along. We are headed to Tennessee to a campground west of Knoxville on Monday morning.
You can barely make out the spider web on the photo.
We decided to visit Lake James State Park to do some hiking and to put the inflatable kayak in the lake. We drove over to the state park which is on the other side of Marion from the campground. It was about 30 minutes from our campground (the joke here is that everywhere you want to go is a 30 minute drive) to one of the two hiking areas in the park called Catawba River.

Entrance to park
We parked the Jeep and walked down to the picnic area that overlooked a dock and swimming area. The dock was open but the swimming area had been closed down. It did not look like there was any easy place to launch the kayak, so we decided to walk and then look for a different area of the park to put the kayak in the water. We ended up hiking for about 2 hours and then we ate lunch in the picnic area.

One of the fishing piers in the park

Hiking along the edge of the lake.

The signs warned us of possible death if we went off the side
of the trail.

Some of the trail was up & down
We traveled a couple of miles down the park road before finding a boat launch area. It was very busy and there was not a good way to launch the kayak. Connie asked a couple of guys waiting to launch their boat for a recommendation and they told us to go back up the road to Hidden Cove boat launch on the other side of the dam. We went there and it was not crowded along with being a much easier place to put in. We aired up the kayak, put it in the lake, and paddled around the lake for about an hour. We went across the lake (it is not very wide) into a cove on the other side and then back again. This is the first time we have had the kayak in the water this year, so we did not want to over do it.
Lake James looking back to Pisgah National Forest. Lake James was formed by
a dam built between 1916 and 1922 on the Catawba River and two of the creeks
that empty into the river.

Looking back up the Catawba River

Heading out from Hidden Cove

Bringing the kayak back to shore
After the hike and kayaking, we were both tired upon our return to The Duchess. When I was putting the kayak and gear out to dry I met our neighbors, Gene & JoAnne, who are from Sunrise Beach on Lake Buchanan near Austin. Gene was born in this area and they are here to deal with some health issues of his mom and his brother. Two Texans side by side in Marion NC.

We both took a short nap after which Connie cooked us dinner. It is getting quite warm here in North Carolina with temperatures near 90 today. The locals say it already feels like summer here.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Another week in Marion

Monday-Thursday (Jun 8-11):

This was a slow week for us here at the campground. We were waiting on the replacement awning to arrive and be installed before we could make plans to leave for Tennessee. On Tuesday we decided we would do some hiking around Old Fort which is about 10 miles from the campground. We found a trail that said it was moderate, but we when started up the trail it was very steep going up and down. So after a very short distance we decided to stop and see if we could find a different trail. We found another one located in the area, but after we had gone several miles down the road we that the road to this trail was closed. So we ended up seeing some nice country, but no hikes.

Although we did not get to hike, we took these pictures along the way
Our new awning arrived on Tuesday and was scheduled to be installed on Wednesday. They told us we were a "work-in" job, so we figured that the motor home would be in the shop all day. Early Wednesday morning we dropped The Duchess off at the service center, ate breakfast in the restaurant and then headed towards Asheville. One of Connie's crowns had come off on Tuesday and she had located an urgent care dental center in Asheville that could see she her Wednesday morning. After completing the paperwork (several pages), she went back to have an x-ray performed and the crown was cemented back into place. We did some shopping in Asheville, walked for a while in the local mall, ate lunch at McAlister's Deli before returning back to our campground. The motor home was still in the shop, so we went up to the local Lowe's to see if we could find a small piece of metal to put on the roof for our cell phone booster antenna. Since our coach is made of fiberglass and the cell phone booster needs a metal base, we will have to install the plate on our roof and then place the antenna on top of it. We came back to the service center and killed time by: Connie listening to an audio book and Mike reading his Kindle. The awning installation was finished around 5:00 PM and we were able to get back into the coach. We tested the awning and it worked fine.

New awning installed on The Duchess
On Thursday we were meeting with Mike Witt, a mobile RV Tech, to go over all of the systems in The Duchess and the maintenance schedules for the areas that need this. He arrived around 12:00 Noon and we were with him for around 4 hours. He also took a look at our refrigerator and it looks like it is on the way "out" and will have to either have a new cooling unit installed or be replaced with a residential refrigerator. We will deal with this issue later this summer. After spending 4 hours with Mike, we know a lot more about our coach and if we ever have any issues we can give him a call no matter where we are. Mike has owned several motor homes over the years and is currently looking for a "new to him" motor home for their winter stay in Florida.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Another visit to Black Mountain


This morning Connie and I got up and walked for a while, then had some breakfast before riding our bikes around the campground. We decided to go back to Black Mountain since they were having an arts and craft festival in town this week-end. We invited Walt & Tina from the RV-Dreams Reunion Rally to join us and they agreed to. We drove over to Black Mountain and spent some time going through the booths at the festival. When you are living this full-time lifestyle the first thought you always have is: Is this worth carry around in the RV for the next few years. So although there were some nice items at the festival, none of us bought anything.
Black Mountain Arts & Craft Festival
We went to the Black Mountain Ale House (we stopped here while on the Pub & Grub Crawl last week) with Walt & Tina after finishing with the festival to sample some local brews. We tried the beer from three of the local breweries: Catawba, Lookout and Hi-Wire. We discussed where Tina & Walt had traveled (they have been full-timing since last year) and shared our experiences on the road.

On the way back to the campground, we decided to visit Andrew's Geyser near Old Fort NC which is a town we had passed through several times going back and forth in the area. We headed down a side road that had some bicyclists on it along with a railroad underpass with one lane traffic and no warning signs. We finally reached the small park where the man-made geyser is located and we were surprised. The geyser is much larger that any of us expected and the park it is located in is quite nice. Andrew's Geyser was built in 1885 to honor the people who died building the local railroad and then restored in 1912 to honor Colonel Alexander Andrew of Raleigh NC for his service to the state of North Carolina. The geyser was restored again in the 1970's before being taken over by the city of Old Fort.
Mike taking a siesta in stone chair located in the park

Andrew's Geyser - it is a continuous geyser
We returned back to the campground to drop off Tina & Walt before doing some quick grocery shopping and then cooking dinner. We used the replacement heating element for our NuWave Oven to cook the flounder we had purchased and it seemed to do OK  after messing with it for a few minutes. We met one of our neighbors who bought a Newmar Canyon Star last year and was having some warranty work done here at the service center. They are from Asheville but spend the winters in Arizona. They asked us where we were from and when we said Texas, they told us they had relatives in both Austin and Fort Worth. Small world sometimes.

12 Year Anniversary


Connie and I were married 12 years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia. Yes, that is correct, two Texans went to Canada to get hitched. We decided if we left the country we could plan our wedding without having to worry about any "guests" and we were correct. Our witnesses were two concierges from the hotel we stayed at.

Today we took it easy around the campground before heading over to Black Mountain for dinner. Connie bought me two very "cute" cards with traveling themes for our anniversary, while I had been so busy (or that is my excuse) I completely forgot about a card. We had decided once we had started this full-timing adventure that we would not get each other gifts since we don't have any room to carry stuff around, but I still should have remember the card.

We picked a restaurant, La Guinguette, with a mix of Argentine and French cuisine which we thought would make for an interesting meal.  

La Guinguette restaurant located in an old house that has
been renovated. They are adding an area in the back for
summer time music.
We ordered a pate, salami and assorted cheese appetizer and empanadas for our meal. We also had some local beers with our meal.

The food was good and after having the appetizer and meal we did not have room for the crepes available for desert. We returned back to the duchess where it rained again during the night. The rain that was in Texas must have moved east.
Mike & Connie 12 years together and haven't age a day (LOL).