On the edge….literally

LOCATION: Outside of Asheville, NC

WEATHER: Only need A/C midday. At night, we can leave the windows open and sleep listening to the river rushing by.

CAMPGROUND: French Broad River RV – see previous description

The day started out fine….I picked up our daughter and we did a little Walmart (ugh) shopping. Then things went downhill, or I should say uphill and downhill.

Asheville is very hilly. The GPS let me down again. It took me up a very steep, one-way street the wrong way. The hill was so steep that I could not see the road over the hood of the truck. When I realized that I was a on a one-way street and saw a truck approaching, I panicked. I tried to turn around in a driveway. I had to “gun it” to move the truck. Unfortunately, I had it in reverse, so when I accelerated, we went scarily fast down over a cliff. I braked just in time, as the truck started to fall backyards from a steep cliff with a garage below. The back of the truck was about 2 inches from the roof (the silver thing in the photo) of a garage below,

I was so afraid that the truck would slip farther down and destroy the garage, so I stayed in the truck with the brake on. My leg started cramping.

I didn’t have the phone with me. A truck coming the other way stopped, as I was blocking the intersection. He said he would call a wrecker for me. I waited and waited, and it did not come. Finally, the police came and a very kind policewoman called another wrecker. It came after I had waited for about 1.5 hours. I was so afraid that the truck would slip more, so I was so thankful when the wrecker got there.

He pulled me out and miraculously there was no damage. It could have been so much worse!

Stressed out to the max, I went back to the RV park. George was so worried. We drove to a really cute nearby town, where we stopped at a brewpub. Now feeling better….

DINNER: Shrimp and grits.

We get PBS on the TV here so I was thrilled to be able to watch Call the Midwife. Happy!

The Smokies are smokin’

LOCATION: Outside of Asheville, North Carolina

WEATHER: Yay! Much cooler. High 85. Cool at night

CAMPGROUND: French Broad River Campground. Private. Right (and I mean right) on the river, so beautiful views. Really run down. Full hook-ups. A rip-off at $48/night. All we could get near Asheville. 2 stars out of 5

One thing I don’t like about our Airstream is the cupboard above our bed. I almost always forget it is there when I make the bed, and so I conk it hard on the edge. Ouch! So, crafty George bought some foam and installed them on the bottom of the cupboards. They actually look quite nice…

We had a short, 150 mile drive today from Gainesville, Georgia to Asheville. Almost all of it was through the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. As we climbed (and as our gas mileage deteriorated), it got cooler and prettier. We drove through cut mountain, touristy villages.

It is easy to see how the Smoky Mountains got their name…..the mountains were grey/white with low-hanging fog.

We found the RV park and couldn’t believe how close it is to the water. The river flooded earlier this spring, and I’m sure the whole place was under water. Our Airstream, as well as all the other RVs, sticks out over the river. It was nerve-wracking to help George back it in. I was sure it was going to go into the river.

But, it is quite pretty, and it is nice to hear the river flowing by.

Our oldest daughter lives in Asheville and we are here to see her for a few days. We had some time before we were picking her up at work, so stopped at a brewpub. There were 3 within one block! We are in Asheville for sure!

We took our daughter shopping, then headed back late to the campground.

DINNER: Tacos. Nothing special, as it was too late to do much more.

Dumpster Diving!!!!!

LOCATION: Outside of Gainesville, Georgia – north of Atlanta

WEATHER: HIGH 95. Sunny

CAMPGROUND: Bolding Mill Army Corps of Engineers Campground at Lake Sidney Lanier. See previous description

As we were preparing morning coffee, we could not find the plastic strainer that is a vital part of our coffee maker. We looked everywhere (didn’t take long). I finally thought back and realized that the only place it could be is in the garbage, perhaps falling in when I cleaned out the mechanism yesterday when I put the grounds in the garbage. Of course, we had taken yesterday’s garbage to the dumpster already. So off we went to the dumpster to do some diving!

First, we had to fight off a big buzzard that wanted to check out the dumpster, too. Then, I looked at the various bags, trying to find something that looked familiar.

Pew!!!

I’m going in!………..

Miraculously, we found our bag of garbage, and sure enough, there was the strainer. I bet I don’t do that again!!!

Our highlight today was meeting up with 2 women that I met 19 years ago for lunch. We were part of a 5-person team to northeastern Argentina called Group Study Exchange, as part of Rotary International. At the time, we were living in Augusta, and the Rotary clubs there were recruiting 4 business people plus one leader to spend about 6 weeks there to learn about that their careers in that country, plus help the Argentinians get to know us. Since I was working in healthcare, every day I visited different hospitals. One of the women with me today was an engineer, and the Argentine Rotarians took her to sewers every day. We always had a laugh. The other woman was a teacher, so she visited schools. We lived with families in small towns. Almost every evening, we spoke at a different Rotary club meeting. In the USA, they are generally lunch meetings. In Argentina, they were always at night. A Rotarian would tell us that they would pick us up about 9:00 (PM) for the meeting. Well, they usually got there about 10:00. Then, lots of wine, followed by a lovely meal. Then, the program – us! Speaking in Spanish, I would give my little speech about midnight. That is really something for me – as I am an early-to-bed type of person. We had a wonderful experience together, and it was great seeing them after 19 years!

In the restaurant, I noticed this cute and practical sign on the restroom doors.

We drove around in the afternoon. The countryside is full of kudzu….

Kudzu was brought to the USA many years ago from Asia, thinking that it would be a good, cheap food for cattle. Turns out that the cows don’t like it, but kudzu loves the climate in the south. These vines are everywhere, choking out other trees and bushes.

DINNER: Grilled chicken in the Asian sauce I used to marinate cucumbers the other night. Quinoa with caramalized onions, mushrooms, and zucchini. Good, except I don’t think I cooked the quinoa correctly. Will have to study up on that.

Try to keep cool….

LOCATION: Near Gainesville, GA – north of Atlanta, on Lake Sydney Lanier

CAMPGROUND: See previous description

WEATHER: 100ish and sunny

We hung around the camper in the AM, perusing the Airstream’s instruction manuals. Good thing to do — we realized that we were doing the A/C incorrectly and that George needs to do one additional thing while unhooking and hooking up. I found my answer, perhaps, to using the convection oven option in the microwave.

Then, we went driving around. We were looking for a new craft beer bar in a small town near us. We couldn’t find it. We think its advertised fall 2017 opening may have slipped a bit. Finally, we found a nice chicken wing bar/restaurant. It was nicely air-conditioned and had great wifi, so we hung out there for quite awhile.

Then, more exploring of the area. We stopped at this beautiful winery, also well air-conditioned. They grow muscadine grapes, so their own wines are sweet. They also, however, bottle some good California wine, so we had a taste. Along with the chateau, which doubles as an event center, there is an inn, restaurant, golf course, and housing development. All very much “over-the-top”.

From there, we drove around the lake. We found a cute bar at this marina and sat in the shade, enjoying the lake breeze.

DINNER: I boiled a package of frozen mixed seafood (clams, octopus, calamari, fish) and served it with rice in a pesto/lime juice sauce. Added the last of the farmers’ market spinach.

Driving through Atlanta – Need I say more?!

LOCATION: Outside of Gainesville, Georgia – north of Atlanta

WEATHER: Still hot, but mornings and evenings are tolerable

CAMPGROUND: Bolding Mill Army Corps of Engineers Campground. On Lake Sydney Lanier. Electricity (50 amp) and water hookups. Long, paved sites, very spread out. Nice pine trees for shade. Both a stand-up cook grill as well as a campfire ring. Picnic table. Rocky sand on campsite pad was even raked when we arrived. With national senior park pass, $11/night. Good bathrooms with decent showers. Washer and dryer at $.75! 5 stars out of 5.

…..It was my fault. ….

We got a nice, early start from the campground in Northwest Alabama. I turned out the GPS and off we went. Only after about 15 miles did I finally look at the map. GPS was taking us south (wrong) and through both Birmingham and Atlanta. Had I looked at the map, I would have ignored the GPS and gone directly east from the campground, then approached tonight’s campground from the northwest. Oh well, too late.

So, we first went through Birmingham, filled with spaghetti-junction construction. Not too bad except the semi-trucks.

We realize that the GPS likes the Interstates as that is generally the fastest route. So, today we were destined to be on about 5 interstates throughout the day. After Birmingham, we had about 130 miles to Atlanta. Again, full of semi-trucks, one that cut us off and almost made us go into the ditch.

Then, we came up to an accident worsened by construction. Traffic was just sitting there. So, at our first chance, we got off the interstate, cleared the accident, and found our way back on it 10 miles later, almost traffic-free (as the traffic was still sitting there behind the accident).

Then, Atlanta. It was indescribably horrible. I hid my head most of the time, except when George asked for help with directions; I tried to minimize my gasping and screaming so as not to distract him. Our first exit wasn’t clearly marked, and we had to wait for a kind soul to let us in. Then, the lane we were in ended abruptly and we had to merge with people who were not feeling kindly. Finally, finally, after about 2 hours north of Atlanta, the traffic cleared. Then, happily we were on country roads toward our destination, with glimpses of the large lake.

As we entered the campground, we realized that we have been here before. It was a few years ago, and was just a quick overnight, so we will enjoy it more this time.

With the loss of an hour entering Eastern time zone and the Atlanta traffic, today was a 7-hour day on the road. We were exhausted.

We relaxed at the campsite. We can see the lake from our site. Interestingly, there is another Airstream right by us. This is the first Airstream we have seen so far on this trip.

George fired up the stand-up grill and made tonight’s dinner as well as cooking up some meats for future meals.

DINNER: Blue cheese hamburgers. Decadently delicious. Sides were spinach salad, steamed green beans, and roasted potato wedges. We are still eating veg from the farmers’ market from a few days ago.

We sat outside in the dark, while the fireflies put on a show for us. A deer ran past us in the dark. Pretty cool. This is camping!

PS – Sorry – no photos today. They would have been of Interstates and/or grid-lock traffic.

Stormy weather…

LOCATION: Outside of Double Springs, Alabama in NW part of state

WEATHER: Hot and muggy. Thunderstorm in PM

CAMPGROUND: I thought I was reserving an Army Corps of Engineers campground, but it turns out that it is a National Forest Service one. It is run by a commercial company, so they didn’t discount much with the National Park Senior Pass. Nice and shady; on a lake. Full hook-ups. We have a pull-through site. Bathrooms quite nice. Way too expensive. $30, even with senior pass. 2 stars out of 5.

We had a short drive today – only 140 miles. We were mostly on good, backroads with a few miles on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Not much traffic, as it is Sunday. Based on the overflowing parking lots at country Baptist churches, it is because all the population is inside.

We kept hoping for a picnic area for lunch, but didn’t pass anything. Finally, we saw a nice paved, shady parking area in front of a church. Since it was 1:30, church was over and we had the place to ourselves (others than those in the cemetery). 😦

We arrived at the campground in the early afternoon. Since we are only here one night, we are not unhooking. We took a walk down to the lake and dipped our toes in the water. The clouds started getting darker and we heard some thunder, so we didn’t tarry.

George watched a bit of the U.S. Open, but the TV reception is not very good. About 5:00 it really started pouring. Then, horrors! The electricity went out!!!!! No A/C!!!!!! I wanted to cry. Thank goodness, it came back in about 45 minutes.

DINNER: Appetizer – Asian cucumbers — cucumbers that we bought in yesterday’s farmer’s market sliced thin marinated in a soy/lemon/wine mix. Very refreshing. Main was a leftover chicken/pasta casserole that I had made back before we hit the road.

Checking out Oxford

LOCATION: Grenada, MS in north central part of state – on Lake Grenada

WEATHER: Same ole’; same ole’

CAMPGROUND: North Abutment Army Corps of Engineers Campground – see previous description

We went into the town of Grenada for their weekly farmers’ market on the (otherwise deserted) town square. There were only a few stands, but we were able to buy some good-looking veg and fresh eggs.

Then, we drove around the lake. Sometimes you just can’t trust GPS….

We planned to visit a brewpub in a little town nearby, but it was closed. So, we drove on to Oxford. If I had to live in Mississippi, it would be in Oxford. It is a nice college town with beautiful southern mansions all around the town. I read that it was named Oxford, after Oxford, England with the hope that the state would place its university there. It worked! Oxford is home of Ole’ Miss. The downtown square is really cute with small book shops on every corner. Authors William Faulkner and more recently John Grisham became famous here. We found a craft beer place where they have about 25 taps. It is called Growler as you can buy beer by the pint or fill up your growler there.

We had lunch there in cozy chairs in front of TV while George watched the U.S Open.

DINNER: We are still experimenting with the convection oven function of the microwave. Obviously, we have a lot to learn. I made a casserole with grilled chicken and the veg we bought at the farmer’s market (spinach, onions, bell pepper, squash) with Parmesan and bread crumbs on top. I just couldn’t get it to bake like a regular oven. I did figure out how to bake a ciabatta roll.