Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Atlanta, Georgia to Savannah, Georgia (October 16, 2012)

We have driven this route several times in the past, but this time the scheduled 3½ drive seemed to take forever. We figured it was the fatigue of being on the road so long and the longing to get "home".

We arrived at Ft. Stewart's Holbrook Campground mid-afternoon and took our time setting up. The camp host, very good friends, helped us and welcomed us back with cold drinks and lots of hugs. It seemed like yesterday when we left, but it seemed like eternity getting back. No matter, we are home now and after some down time, we will start planning our next step in this wonderful life we are living.

Atlanta, Georgia (October 12-16, 2012)

We allotted three full days for this family stop for my cousin, Fred, wanted to do some genealogical stuff. Saturday we visited several cemeteries where our ancestors now reside. This was quite interesting for I got to physically see the names I have been researching over the years.

The next day, Sunday, we all met at cousin Rita's home in the afternoon for a luncheon get together. My cousins Fred and Mike, their wives, and Rita's daughter joined us. We had the best of times talking about old times. It was so good to see them again.

On our final day, Fred and his wife, Donna, took us for a tour around their home in Senoia (pronounced Suh-noy). This was a beautiful area and the town, itself, had some great history as well as some very current attractions. Seems the town is a magnet for film productions in both the cinema and TV. Here are some of the movies filmed here: Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes, Sweet Home Alabama, Foot Loose, and others.  One of the most popular TV productions was "The Walking Dead."

We had a great visit with family and now it is time to go home and settle down. We will be back in Savannah tomorrow where we will begin making our plans for our stationary home. 

This journey has been a multitude of emotions ranging from awe to disgust to fear to comfort and so many others in between. We would not have had it any other way. Not sure what the following post will be comprised of, but when I get the itchy keyboard fingers, I will bang it out.

Look out Savannah, we are coming home.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ellijay, Georgia to Atlanta, Georgia (October 12, 2012)

This drive was the most awful one we had done, in my opinion, on our whole tour. We ended up going through the center of Atlanta around 10 AM. The traffic was horrible. no construction, no accidents, just people on the road. The trip should have taken two hours and ended up taking well over three. Not to mention the rude and aggressive drivers all around. New York area was not this bad. Atlanta folks, wake up!

We, finally, made it to our RV park, the Atlanta RV Resort South, and settled in. The resort part is just a name for a pull-in. It was just a regular RV park with too many permanent residents. Clean, cordial, and suited our needs, though. We can return. Now, on to meet more family.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ellijay, Georgia (October 8-12, 2012)

We decided to make one more stop before heading to Atlanta. This one was in Ellijay, GA in the north Georgia mountains. Upon arrival, we settled in and made plans for the next few days. We wanted to visit some of the small towns in this area to determine where we will come back to.

The town of Ellijay was old, but there seemed to be a lot of renovating going on. We would like to come back in several years to see what updates they have made. One thing we found was directly across from our RV park, the Panorama Orchards' store selling everything apple and more. We would visit it several times during our short stay.

Driving farther north on Rt. 76 we entered the town of Blue Ridge. This place was really bustling. It was, obviously, the main tourist town around. Lots of stores, restaurants, and it even had a train in the center of town. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is a 26 mile, 4 hour, roundtrip winding along the Toccoa River and arriving in the towns of McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee. It has a 2 hour layover before returning so one can shop, have lunch, or just take in the sights. We placed this on our future bucket list. 

On another day we did nothing but ride through the mountains on some back roads. Even though the fall colors had not popped yet, it was still beautiful. We may even try coming back here in the winter.

After three days of exploring this part of Georgia, we readied ourselves to depart for our final stop before returning to Savannah.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chattanooga, Tenessee to Ellijay, Georgia (October 8, 2012)

The 2.5 hour excursion to Ellijay, Ga was uneventful. Good roads and little traffic. We landed at the Plum Nelly Campground, just a bit south of Ellijay, for it was one of the only places around. It was a neat spot and gave us the opportunity to explore this part of Georgia.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chattanooga, Tennessee (Ocotber 5-8, 2012)

We, finally, got to see Mitch. Although he was busy in Nashville, he made time to come to Chattanooga. My first cousin, Jerry and his wife, Dot, are Mitch's grandparents and they raised him from a young boy. The last time we saw him he was just a small whipper snapper. His grandparents are his biggest supporters and fans of his music career. I know this young man will make it to the top one day. He has what it takes.

We had a delightful visit with Jerry's and Dot's family and an awesome dinner prepared by Dot. She is a true Southern Cook. It had been a while since we had seen them and we had a lot of catching up to do, but after an extended stay, and our hearts and bellies full of love, we headed back to the RV.

The next day was a bit slow to start. We were still stuffed from the sumptuous dinner the night before. Neither of us have had such a great, home-cooked meal in such a very long time. As we rattled around and tried to get going in our tiny home we figured it would be a good idea not to have breakfast nor lunch for we had a late lunch date with my other first cousin, Marlene, and her family. Marlene and Jerry are siblings and their mother and my mother were sisters.

We all met at a local restaurant and spent a good long time eating, talking, and enjoying the afternoon. Afterward, Marlene took us on a short sightseeing drive to visit the Volkswagen plant close by. It was huge! But to amplify the hugeness of it was the Amazon headquarters across the road. Both, together, were larger than most of the small towns we drove through on our cross-country journey.

After our goodbyes and hugs and kisses, we returned to the RV for our preparation to move out in the morning. Our next stop is near Ellijay, Georgia,in the north Georgia mountains.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Nashville, Tennessee to Chattanooga, Tennessee (October 5, 2012)

 A short 2 1/2 hour hop down to Chattanooga brought us to the Holiday Travel Park. We have scheduled two full days here to visit family. Looking forward to seeing them all.

 And YES!!!!  We, finally, did it. We have racked up all of the lower 48 states in the U.S.  We are so happy about this. Just need to do Alaska now and forget about Hawaii. The journey to Hawaii in our RV would not work well.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nashville, Tenessee (September 28- October 5, 2012)

 Nashville, Tennessee, Music City, U.S.A. We had always wanted to visit this city for both of us are Country and Western (C&W) music fans. We had scheduled five days here and were planned on taking advantage of them. So much to see and do.

We arrived Friday afternoon and set up. It had been an easy drive, but we were tired starting out so once our setup routine was finished we kicked back and relaxed. Guinness was especially tired for the RV park had a decent size dog park and he made very good use of it. Of course I had to throw his ball over and over, but the up side was he crashed right after dinner. It wasn't long afterward, we did also.

 The next day we had a leisurely breakfast and hit the road mid-morning. We wanted to sight-see the area so we chose to drive by the Grand Ole Opry complex. Across from the Opry was a bunch of touristy places. One caught our eye and interest: Cooter's Dukes of Hazard Museum.We stopped and went in and were delighted to see a lot of the show's memorabilia. We, also, learned that the actor playing Cooter, Ben Jones, eventually, became a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 4th district. Fascinating.

We stopped for lunch at a neat grille close by. It was packed with tourists, just like us and we struck up some conversations. We over-stayed our intended time there, but meeting these folks was fun and we enjoyed their company. Back to the boys.

We, actually saw quite a lot and decided, because of the heavy weekend traffic, we would burn some burgers on the grill and spend some time at the dog park. That worked out just fine.

We awoke to a chilly morning and took the boys to the dog park. Once they had done their business, we went back and made us all a good and hearty breakfast. Once everything was cleaned and in its place I went outside to examine the trailer. This became an everyday routine for me long before we started on this journey. Things happen and if not noticed, the consequences of not addressing problems can be disastrous. Like now.

I noticed one of the tires on the driver side was low, very low. Dang. I pulled out the tire kit and found the pressure was only 48 PSI when it should be 80 PSI. I crawled under the trailer and discovered the inside of the tread was very worn. Too worn. We must have run over something on the way here that nicked that worn spot and air was slowly leaking from it. OK. Scrap today's plans. This has to be fixed now.

I located a Tire Discount store in Hendersonville and, thankfully, they had one in stock. I did not put the spare on, but just jacked it up and blocked everything while I went to the tire store. As, usual, they were cordial and quick. This is the third tire we have had to replace on this trip. Once we get back to Savannah, I need to find out why they are wearing out so fast.

By the time I returned with the new tire, put it back on, and cleaned up it was late afternoon. Not enough time to do any sightseeing. Besides, the traffic was awful and there were throngs of people everywhere. Let's see....we have some shrimp we can defrost. So we made some shrimp tacos and margaritas. Good enough.

As luck would have it, the next morning greeted us with rain, but we are no strangers to touring in the rain so we performed our morning rituals and headed into town. 

This time we got a jump on the morning and we found a great parking place just off Broadway, the main honky-tonk street. The rain was keeping the usual horde of tourists at bay so we pretty much had the strip to ourselves. We walked up and down Broadway going into every store and honky-tonk. There was so much we wanted to collect as souvenirs, but our limited space relegated only a few items. One of the main places we wanted to tour was the Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, but our luck was not so good today for it was close for renovations. We'll be back.

Most of these honky-tonks open very early and close very late and, most often, have aspiring C&W artists playing, almost exclusively, for tips. We were hoping to meet up with our cousin, Mitch, who is one of those aspiring artists and regularly plays in Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and Rippy's Bar and Grille, directly across the street.

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge

Awesome up-and-coming artists at Rippy's
We were sitting in Rippy's, enjoying a couple of great entertainers, when we received a call from cousin Mitch.  He would not be able to make his show at Rippy's due to several unexpected appointments that day. No problem. We'll see him later in Chattanooga.

After a great lunch and terrific show we headed back to the trailer to spend the remainder of the day with the kids. The rain had stopped, but there was a slight drizzle the rest of the afternoon. We took the kids to the dog park and played until they were tired. With enough play we headed back to our home on wheels to make a light, relaxing dinner. Tomorrow will be another early day.

We awoke to a beautiful day and decided to leave very early to get to our our destination, the Grand Ole Opry. We had a 9:30 AM tour scheduled, but we wanted to visit a few other places before that.

Our first stop was the Tennessee River Boat Tour. It seemed a great thing, but we did not feel we had the time to do this with everything we had scheduled, so we passed. We had done a riverboat in Memphis.

Next was the Gaylord Opryland  Resort. We had heard this was an awesome place and it was. Click on the link and see its history. We spent an hour just walking around. Of course, we had a coffee or two.

Our tour of the Grand Ole Opry very thorough and it took us places where most would never see. We were very pleased and would recommend this tour to anyone coming to Nashville. Even if they are not a C&W fan.

Minnie Pearl's shoes
Minnie Pearl's dressing room

The stage's "Circle" made from the Ryman's stage

Nope. Didn't buy these.

Our time in Nashville was great and we made a deal we would return. There was so much more to see and do.

Tomorrow we will be heading to Chattanooga for a short stay with the sole purpose to visit family and then on to Atlanta for the same reason. Nashville is our final stop on our tour across the country. We are almost home now. We have been on the road for over a year and have seen places and done things many, as we did years ago, only dream of. It is time to settle down now. We have a lot to do when we land back in Savannah. Going to seem strange.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Memphis, Tennesse to Nashville, Tennessee (September 28, 2012)

We departed the Memphis KOA in Marion, Arkansas shortly after 9AM. We wanted to make sure we missed the Memphis rush hour, although, we were going against the incoming traffic. That worked out fine. We picked up I-40 East just a few miles south of the RV park and continued through the city heading to our next destination, Nashville, Tennessee.

The 4 hour, 240 mile haul was quite easy. We ran into a lot of traffic around Nashville, but nothing too bad. We like these kind of trips.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Memphis, Tennessee (September 23-28, 2012)

We arrived at he Memphis KOA RV park after a two hour drive down I-55. Although we are visiting Memphis , TN, the RV park is located in West Memphis, AR.  This will give us state # 47 of the Lower 48. Almost there.

We were running low on supplies and the truck needed some routine maintenance so we spent the better part of the next day stocking up and making sure the truck stayed our reliable work horse. The afternoon was cool so we made a camp fire, roasted hot dogs and stayed outdoors until nightfall. All that fresh air and playing with the furkids made us all nice and sleepy.

The next morning we, for some reason, slept in. Maybe it was the coolness in the RV. We all were huddled together in the bed when we realized it was after 9 AM. We have never done that before. Since we did not turn the furnace on, the temperature inside was a frosty 62°F. It was definitely a two dog night.

It was well after noontime, when all of our routines were completed, before we headed into town to famous Beale St. This was one of the major points we wanted to visit and have a few beers, listen to some Blues and, generally, enjoy ourselves, which we did.

Beale St. remind us of the French Quarter in New Orleans, just smaller. It had the same aurora to it. As we enjoyed the French Quarter, we also enjoyed Beale St.

We had gotten our fill of Blues for the day so we walked around the surrounding area only to find we were too tired. Anyway, it was getting late and we needed to head back to the RV and take care of the boys.

On our walk we had seen a sign for Charlie Vergos' The Rendevous BBQ restaurant. We had heard high acclaims about this place stating it is some of the best Memphis-style BBQ in the country. It was only two block's from where we were parked so we turned in that direction. Smelling the smoking BBQ long before we arrived, our mouth's were watering once we reached the front door. We both ordered the small ribs to go. We were not disappointed once we dug into our meals.

The next day we had decided to take a tour on a classic side-wheeler riverboat. Parking for the tour was a short distance away, but there was a shuttle van in the lot to take us to the ticket office and boat. We booked passage on the Island Queen for its 12 o'clock tour. It was announced to us, by the tour guide, that the river was at one of its lowest levels in many years. This was evidenced by the long, descending walk to the boat. The tour lasted almost 2 hours and we found it to be very enjoyable and relaxing.

Afterwards we drove around the downtown part of the city and then parked near Beale St. again. We spent a hour or so sitting in BB King's Blues club sipping on a beer and listening to a Blues group.

At 4:30 PM, we departed for the Peabody Hotel. We were told there was a show in the lobby each day at 5:00 PM that we should not miss. We found it to be intriguing so we decided to go. It took less than 10 minutes to walk there and as we entered the extravagant and opulent lobby, we noticed a sign at the entrance displaying details of the event, so we made our way to the lobby fountain.

It seems each day at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., a group of ducks are marched through the lobby and into one of the hotel's elevators. This has been a daily ritual since the 1930s.  Read their story here: Peabody Ducks. Here is a short You Tube video showing the complete event: Marching Ducks.

We, thoroughly enjoyed this and it topped off our second day in Memphis. Now back to the RV and some play time with the kids.

The Memphis Pyramid

The National Civil Rights Museum

"The Room"

Our last full day in Memphis was spent close to home. The two days of walking had taken its toll so we decided to take it easy and get things ready for our departure the next morning. This stop was all about the Blues. Next stop will be all about Country and Western music.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

St. Louis, Missouri to Memphis, Tennesse (September 21-23, 2012)

Again, I did not do my homework. I failed to book the Memphis RV park far enough in advance. We could not get into the park until Sunday afternoon. I guess we could have stayed in St. Louis several days longer, but we were not impressed so we headed down the road. We found an RV park in Sikeston, MO and spent Saturday there doing nothing much at all. On Sunday morning we finished this leg as we arrived at the Memphis KOA and got ready to get our "Blues" on.

Friday, September 21, 2012

St. Louis, Missouri (September 19-21, 2012)

 We came to St. Louis for one thing and that was to visit the Gateway Arch. We had planned to walk the grounds of the park and take the elevator to the top. Plans did not happen.

We departed the RV park after the rush hour traffic dispersed and made our way across the Mississippi into the city. Traffic was still very heavy. We found driving precarious. Folks were rather rude. Regardless, we weaved our way to the entrance of the park only to find a traffic jam waiting to get in. There must have been a half dozen tour buses sitting in a line to get through the gates. I guess I did not do my homework on this National Park for one has to buy tickets before hand. So much for this folly.

We decided to drive down the Mississippi on the Missouri side for a while. There were some interesting places, but not any we wanted to stop at. Dejected we made our way back to the RV park. There may have been some places worthy to visit, but the traffic was too heavy everywhere and to us, it was just another "big city."

Since we only had scheduled one day we decided to go out early the next morning to a park on the Illinois side of the river, just across from the Arch, and take a few photos. This turned out great for it was cool and the kids loved getting out with us. We spent more time than we had expected and got a late start to our next destination, Memphis, Tennessee.

The St. Louis Gateway Arch.
This was interesting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Louisville, Kentucky (September 17-19, 2012)

We departed Indianapolis late since we had a bit over a two hour drive. Arriving at the Louisville Metro KOA we set up and did some quick grocery shopping. The rest of the afternoon was relaxing. We had only one place we wanted to visit in Louisville, Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby. I am sure there are many more places to explore here, but our schedule said only one day, so we choose the race track.

The next morning we drove but a short distance to the track and parked. It was an overcast and some what blustery morning, but we preferred that to a hot and sunny day. We signed up for the Behind the Scenes Walking Tour and were met by a tour group arriving from town in a Mint Julep Tours mini-bus.

Our tour guide, Ken, was a retired employee of Churchill Downs and his knowledge of the track was outstanding. He imparted many personal experiences and we all found him to be quite the character. He took us to many of the places where, normally, tourists are not allowed. The background history of each area was, at times, amazing. Our tour lasted close to an hour and when we were finished, we agreed we would never watch another Kentucky Derby the same again. Great tour.

From there we entered the museum and spent several hours carousing the exhibits. We thoroughly enjoyed this destination and departed the Downs with a greater understanding of "The Race". Now, back to the RV for some Mint Juleps.

Ken, our tour guide.

The famous twin spires.

The finish line where all want to cross first.

The "Garland of Roses".

Kentucky Derby Trophy, first jewel of the triple crown.

The Preakness Stakes Trophy , the second jewel of the triple crown.

The Belmont Stakes Trophy, the third and final jewel of the triple crown.

Winning Jockey's colors.

We stopped several places after leaving the Downs to partake in a Mint Julep, but to our surprise they did not serve them. One bartender said they served them only during the Derby week. Strange. A Mint Julep is nothing but Bourbon, sugar, water, and mint?????  Not that hard to make in the off season.  Oh well. We stopped at a grocery store and picked up some mint, went back to our RV, then made our own. Just as good and a lot less expensive.

A Berry Oaks Mint Julep.

Tomorrow we get back on the road and motor our way to St. Louis. We will be staying in an RV park across the river in Illinois so we can chalk up that state.