Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sweetwater KOA, TN

We had dinner Monday night with Lisa's daughter Sarah, her husband Joel and their 2 kids Caleb and Amelia. Caleb is the long lost brother of my grandson Ashton. Just kidding, it's just uncanny how much they look alike and they are also only 2 months apart in age. Joel entertained us on his guitar while Caleb danced a jig. Very nice evening and Joel is an excellent cook.

Caleb dancing


Not a good comparison picture. Caleb in top picture, Reilly and Ashton in bottom picture

We left Louisville yesterday morning after one little snafu. When Rod hooked up the truck on Monday we discovered that the cover James had made for us had too small of an opening for the 5th wheel to hookup to the truck. Rod called him and he came over the next morning to where we were, took the cover off and took it back to his shop. There he cut a bigger opening and made a cover for the opening with velcro so we can still put things in the back of the truck with the cover on and not have to worry about what can be seen back there. Pretty cool. Again, James was a SAINT!!

Our trip south was pretty uneventful. We didn't know how far we were going to go, we just knew we wanted to go south. We kept seeing RV's on the other side of the freeway going north and were just glad it wasn't us this time. We ended up at Sweetwater, TN and found this KOA easily and it is pretty inexpensive here. We were only going to stay one night but it snowed during the night and then again this morning. There's no reason for us to be driving in the snow. We don't really have anywhere we HAVE to be until May 20th so if we need to stay put we will. It's nice and warm inside. The weather reports say 40's tomorrow so we'll take off then.

This is what it looked like when we got up this morning. If you click on the picture you can see the snow better

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hot Tub, Loretto, KY and Louisville Tour

The hottub Friday night was AWESOME except when we had to get out. Boy was the air cold when it hit your really hot body. :)

Saturday we went to Loretto, KY to the Maker's Mark Whiskey Distillery. Maker's Mark is the whiskey that has the red wax on the neck of the bottle. It was a very interesting tour and best of all it was a FREE tour. Driving out in the Kentucky countryside it was amazing to see all the distilleries out there. There are these huge buildings about 10 stories high just sitting there. Inside they are full of aging whiskey. I didn't get a picture because we were driving and no place to pull over. The roads were very narrow.

On the Marker's Mark tour we were actually able to stick our fingers in the vats in the fermenting room that contained the sour mash to taste it. I've never been on a factory tour where you can actually walk right up to the product and touch it. It's funny though, it smelled like fresh baked bread in there. From there we went to the bottling house but since it was Saturday nobody was working. They had screens in there with video of the dipping line. That was pretty cool. Since it's such a monotonous job they change every 30 minutes and go do something else like shipping or packaging or something like that. From there we went to the barrel warehouse where the whiskey ages. These are small warehouses for the tour and only hold 4000 barrels. The big buildings we saw from the road hold 15,000 to 20,000 barrels. The plaques on the barrels are people who have registered to be Ambassadors for Maker's Mark. All you have to do is go to the website to sign up and promise to tell people about their whiskey. Then they put your name on the plaque and send you emails about how "your" barrel is doing in the aging process. Then when "your" barrel is properly aged you have the opportunity to buy a bottle from "your" barrel. Pretty cool.

The fermenting room

The video screens

The barrels

The Ambassador's plaques

They have a pretty cool thing you can do in the gift shop after the tour and that is to dip your very own bottle. Rod wanted to do this for a souvenir. I bought some chocolate bourbon balls. They gave us free samples of the whiskey before it was aged and after the aging. The stuff before it's aged is clear and tastes like tequila but after it ages in those barrels it takes on an amber color and a more mellow taste. They also gave us samples of bourbon balls. Pretty good stuff.

Rod enjoying his taste

Steve and Lisa REALLY enjoying their taste!

Rod dipping his bottle

We left there and went to get a bite to eat at this place called Joe's OK Bayou. Funny name but good cajun food. Rod had red beans and rice, gumbo and crawfish etoufee. Lisa and I had the muffaletta. It was sooooooo good. In case you don't know a muffaletta is a warm sandwich filled with salami, ham, provolone cheese and an olive relish. So yummy. Steve had the the crawfish where you rip off the head and suck out the juice and then eat the meat that's in the tail.

Today we started the day with a brunch of quiche, country ham, biscuits and fruit salad accompanied by mimosas. Thank you Steve and Lisa!!! Then we did the Louisville tour compliments of our hosts. They drove us all over the place, from out in the country to see the horse farms to the old part of the city and all places in between. We even went out to the Kentucky Truck Plant where our truck was "born". That's where they build all the super duty trucks for Ford. We stopped at the Homemade Ice Cream and Pie place for a snack and then we picked up barbecue for dinner and brought it back to their house. Whew!! We're exhausted and are back in the rig at 7:30!

Self explanatory

Tomorrow we have to get everything arranged and put away for our trip SOUTH on Tuesday. Can't wait to get into some warm weather!! We sure have enjoyed our stay here in Louisville and we couldn't have asked for better hosts. Thank you Steve and Lisa!! You really made our stay in this COLD, COLD weather enjoyable.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Can You Say COLD???!!!

First of all I have to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my big Sissy!! Hope it's a great one!!

I took that picture last night. Boy oh boy and we thought we were cold before??? We had an icestorm here in Louisville yesterday. It started at about 1:00 in the afternoon and continued all day and partway into the evening hours. The schools here closed at noon as did most of the businesses. The pipes in the kitchen froze up but the bathroom water was just fine. Weird. It's thawing out here slowly but surely and we now have the water back in the kitchen. Last night the temp dipped down to 18 degrees. The schools and businesses are starting late today to give the roads a chance to thaw out some.

We're having dinner again with our hosts Steve and Lisa tonight and then we're going to enjoy their hottub. YAHOO!!! WARMTH!!! (In a BIG bathtub) :)

We picked up the truck this morning after having the bed cover put on. WOW!! Thanks for the reference Howard & Linda. James is a master. We absolutely LOVE what he did with the cover. It's going to work great for us. He made us unsnap it and snap it back up to make sure that we knew what we were doing. We got to do it in the warmth of his garage though. I'll take some more pictures of it when the weather warms up some. It's too cold to stand outside snapping and unsnapping all those snaps. James wants us to send him some pics when it's all hooked up too so I'll have to do that on Tuesday. We may just hook up late Monday afternoon so that we don't have to be rushed to leave on Tuesday.

This is why we came to the freezing cold of Louisville in the dead of winter

We plan on leaving here on Tuesday because Wednesday is supposed to be the start of more freezing temps. We're soooooo done with cold weather. We'll be heading back down to Florida for a few weeks of warm temps.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Louisville, KY

Today we actually got out before noon! It was about 10:30 when we got out the door. The truck unhitched without a problem. Woo Hoo, it's gonna be a good day!! First stop was to get the truck bed measured for it's new cover. We met James at Fitszimmons Upholstery who was reccomended to us by Howard and Linda from What a nice guy he was and very accomodating. We're dropping the truck off on Thursday and will pick it up on Friday. YAY!! We may be able to get out of this weather sooner than we thought. We're kinda torn because we'd really like to spend more time with our friends (Steve & Lisa) but it's so freakin cold!! It's supposed to snow tonight!! I guess we'll just have to meet them in Florida next winter. That okay with you, Lisa?

After we left James we went downtown to the Louisville Slugger Museum and factory. Rod and I are HUGE baseball fans. Me for the Padres and him for the Mariners. We purchased the factory tour which came with entry into the museum and a special Roberto Clemente exhibit that was there on loan from the Smithsonian. Really Cool!! What a humanitarian he was and so loyal to his native Puerto Rico. When his wife was ready to deliver their children she had to return to Puerto Rico so that the children would be born there.

The factory tour was awesome as well. I wasn't allowed to take pictures in the factory or the Roberto Clemente exhibit but I was allowed to snap away in the museum so of course I did. I'll just let the pictures explain themselves.

Can you believe the size of this bat???

We were going to do laundry today but spent too much time at the museum and tonight we're having happy hour and dinner with Steve & Lisa. Boy, are we getting spoiled while we're here. Tomorrow we'll have to do dinner. Hmmmmm, I wonder where they want to go. LOL

Monday, February 18, 2008

Atlanta, GA & Louisville, KY

Wow! We've been busy. I couldn't update because we moved and spent four days in Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, GA and had no internet connnection. There were too many trees there and I was too lazy to go into town for wifi. Man was it cold there. I'll talk about that later.

Before we left Hard Labor Creek we visited the Coca Cola Museum and CNN in Atlanta. That was a very interesting day. The Coca Cola museum isn't a bottling plant although they did say that they bottle their signature bottle there and had a mini plant where you could watch the operation from beginning to end. I love that kind of stuff. At the end of the tour they had several stations where you could taste a lot of the different products that they make but export to other countries and of course there were also stations where you could taste the different flavors that are sold here in the U.S. Then they gave us a little bottle of coke to take with us. Here I am enjoying a coke with the guy who founded Coca Cola. Can't remember his name.

Here are some more pictures from the Coca Cola museum:

We left there and headed a few blocks over to CNN. The CNN Center is the headquarters for CNN, CNN International, and Headline News. We took the one hour tour of the studio. Pretty nice. We saw the actual afternoon broadcast with Don Lemon and Brianna Keilar. It was kinda funny though because every time they went to commercial they would both get on their laptops that were sitting right next to them. They never said one word to each other. We were not allowed to take any pictures on the tour. Here are a few of the pictures that I was allowed to take:

Front of the building:

This is what we had to wear on the tour:

Ever day we passed these cows that were colored in the oddest way. On the day that I wanted to take pictures they were very uncooperative. They were always down by the road all other days. This was the last day I had to take pictures of them. When I "Googled" it I got two different descriptions. One was that this particular breed came from Holland and are called Dutch Belted dairy cows. Another description is that they are called the Belted Galloway from Scotland. Wherever they came from they're pretty cool looking. I really liked the name of the farm.

We left Hard Labor Creek and headed north and west to Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, GA. It was about a 4 hour drive straight up the mountain. Elevation is 2800 feet. We didn't do much while we were there because it was so incredibly cold. We got up one morning to 14 degrees!! Now, THAT is cold!! I don't think I even left the rig that day. We did manage to do a little hike one day when the temps warmed up a little (a lot!). There's an old fort here or at least the ruins of an old fort. Actually all that's left is part of the stone wall of the fort but this is what the park advertises as a must see. The hike to it is almost straight up and it has stone steps. It's a lot easier to hike on regular dirt than those steps so coming down I just walked on the side where there were no steps. We were planning on pulling out on Saturday morning about 10:30. I haven't updated the blog because we had no internet here with the heavy tree cover. The dish tried for a few hours to get a signal in between the trees before giving up and stowing itself away. I was too lazy to go into town (which was 20 miles away) for WiFi. We had HD and cable so we were fine.

Did I mention how cold it was??

This is the rock wall

Click on the picture and you'll see the elevation

When we tried to hitch the rig to the truck to leave it wouldn't latch. We worked on hitching it up for about an hour and half. The guy who was staying a few sites away from us came over to see what was up. He ended up taking the hitch apart and found a piece that was bent. He bent it back, we hitched up and it worked great!! Finally, we were on our way at noon.

We were planning on spending the night at the Camping World in Bowling Green, KY. All Camping Worlds will allow you to stay overnight in their parking lots free of charge. When we got there somebody was already hooked up to their one and only hookup. We were just going to stay anyway but the parts guy inside said there was a KOA Kampground a few miles down the road so we went there. When we checked in I asked the girl if she would assign us to a spot where we could get a satellite signal and she said, "Oh sure, no problem". When we got to the site that she assigned us to there were three very large trees right next to us! We tried to get a signal but the dish was just going around and around. Rod was NOT having any of this at this late hour as it was going to be dark soon. He went back to the office and told them we were moving to a different site where there were no trees in the way and they said, "That's fine, just tell us what site you're in." Cool. We got moved, sent the dish up and it locked on right away. SWEET! We've got internet!!

We were awake at about 6:00 in the morning with the wind howling like crazy and the rain really coming down. The rig was rocking really hard. We had stowed the dish the night before because we heard there was going to be wind. By 7:00 I got up because I just couldn't sleep with all that rocking around. Rod went back to sleep till 10:30. I swear I don't know how he does that. We were contemplating just staying put because we really didn't want to drive with all that wind. The other 5 RV's that were here left though. We checked the weather reports and it was supposed to snow on Monday so if we didn't leave on Sunday we were going to be staying put till Tuesday. We figured if the wind got too bad we could always pull off the road and wait it out. I just can't believe we keep heading further and further north in the winter!! We were only two hours away from Louisville so onward we went.

We finally had an uneventful trip. We didn't unhitch in Bowling Green so we had hardly anything to do to get on the road. Man, Kentucky roads are absolutely horrible. I've never been bounced around so much in my life. I don't think we'll ever drive through Louisiana in the truck. I already know how bad the roads are there. We've been there in a car and we thought those roads were bad. I can't even imagine how they would be in the truck. BUT, we're finally here in Louisville!! We are staying in the back driveway of some really good friends of ours. We have 50amp electric, water and even a sewer hookup. Can you believe that??? We feel so spoiled. We have known these friends for quite a few years but haven't seen them for 2 years. They used to come down to Florida in their motorhome in February to get away from the Louisville weather for a few weeks. They've parked their motorhome in our driveway before but we never thought we'd be in theirs. Funny how life works out.

Ahhhhhhh, it feels so good to know that we're just going to stay put for a few weeks. That is so relaxing. I wish we were in warmer weather but it's really nice to be around some people that we know and really like. It's supposed to snow this afternoon and every day this week has a chance of snow. Oh well, we're not going anywhere so life is good......

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Madison, GA

Well, we really haven't been doing much these last few days. Just hanging around the park, doing laundry, cleaning, etc. We did go into the little historic town of Madison the other day but when I picked up the camera to take it with us the battery was dead. I usually leave it plugged into the computer so that must have been why it died. So, the only picture I got was this one. We toured the Cultural center which is a refurbished schoolhouse. When the self guided tour was over we got to ring the old schoolbell. The lady said you can hear it all over town. Then she gave us these stickers to wear. Uh, I don't think so.

We also had lunch at this place called Adrians. It was recommended to us by the camphost here who said it had the best "chocolate food" around. Huh? She meant, uh, soul food. She was right. It was absolutely delicious!! You get one meat and three vegetables and dessert and drink all for $8.50. I had fried chicken, collard greens, black eyed peas & macaroni & cheese. Rod had hamburger steak, mashed potatoes & gravy, creamed corn and black eyed peas. There was so much food on the plate I couldn't even eat half of it. Rod didn't even finish his. Now you KNOW there had to be ALOT of food.

I think we figured out why they call it Hard Labor State Park. We saw these guys here for a few days now. I guess it's better than sitting in a cell somewhere.

See what it says on the van?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Stone Mountain, GA

Yesterday we went to Stone Mountain. On the way there we passed a bakery outlet and just had to stop. We picked up some wheat bread, cinnamon bread, cookies, cornbread mixes and seedless blackberry jelly.

Stone Mountain is well-known not only for its geology, but also for the enormous carving on its north face. Three figures of the Confederate States of America are carved there: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis. It was recommended by someone in the area to take the train around the mountain. We were really looking forward to taking the train. When we got there we saw there was also a aerial tram going up to the top where there was also a gift shop. We went to the windows where it said Tickets and there was a sign saying it cost $14. I went to the window and asked the lady what the $14 covered. She said it covered the 3 attractions that were open in the winter. The museum, the plantation and the duck ride. WHAT??!! The tram and the train are closed??!! How can they justify charging $8 just to get into the park when everything is closed? Oh well, we drove the road that goes completely around the mountain to the campground that was there. Nice place but the sites were small and very close together. The rates ranged from $23-50 a night.

After leaving the mountain (being from the West coast we call those hills) we passed a Target and had to stop for an oven thermometer and bigger colander than we have. We decided that our trip was a actually a shopping trip with a side trip to Stone Mountain. LOL

When we got off on our exit we decided to go the other way to see what the town of Newborn was. Just another small town in Georgia. We did stop at the only gas station in town because they were advertising fresh made pizza. Pizza sounded good for dinner so we picked one up. It was surprisingly very good. I'm really not a pizza snob though. As long as it has pepperoni on it I'll eat it. This was a thick crust with pepperoni and sausage.

Today we're just going to hang around the campground and watch the superbowl. Here's some more pictures of our empty neighborhood.

This is the real Hard Labor Creek.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hard Labor Creek State Park, GA

I know, funny name, huh? It has something to do with either slaves or native Americans having trouble navigating the "river". There seems to be some kind of disagreement here about which. Not sure if it's because of the drought here or what but it's really nothing more than a creek and it sure wouldn't be hard to navigate. Oh well, funny name anyway.

I can't believe it's been a week since I updated. Time just seems to get away from me. We just LOVE it here. After spending a whole month in a parking lot it's just so nice to open the shade by my bed in the morning and see nothing but woods. This is exactly what I envisioned when we first came up with the idea to live fulltime in an RV. Rod wants to stay here for awhile but I'm okay with finding a new place. I know there's lots more places just like this out there. Check out our back yard.

We did do some hiking the other day. There are two trails here that are pretty much side by side. One is marked every now and then with yellow splotches of paint on the trees and the other one with splotches of red. The yellow one is one mile and the red one is two miles. We started on the yellow one but somehow got messed up and ended up on the red one. We were too far in to go back and knew that the trail was a loop so we just kept going. So, we ended up walking three miles that day. Haven't gone back since. Rod's been busy gathering firewood anyway. It's been so cold at night that having a fire is so nice. He made this nice little stack of wood. Well, we did go buy some from this guy down the road who had a little stand. But all the rest of it Rod went out and scrounged. It wasn't hard to find though. There's dead wood ALL over the place here but it burns so fast that it's nice to have the other wood that we bought.

Today was a stay inside day because it's so cold outside. Right now at 2:00 in the afternoon it's only 49 degrees. Check out the inside temp though. LOL I'm happy with 72 degrees.

The plan was to go visit Stone Mountain on Monday but according to the weather reports it's going to rain so we decided to go tomorrow (Saturday) because it's supposed to be sunny and semi-warm (low 60's). We figured even though it'll be Saturday there won't be a whole lot of people there at this time of year. Our campground only has 3 rv's besides the camp host. We saw 2 more rigs come in today so I guess it must be the weekend. We're also going to stop at a RV place on the way to look for a Blueboy. For my non-rving friends a Blueboy is a container on wheels that you can dump your holding tanks into and drag it to the dump station without having to close up the rv and hookup to the truck and then come back and set up all over again. This way you just hookup the Blueboy to the truck and drag it to the dump. Just part of the icky part of fulltime rving.

We got our satellite dish installed the other day. It's so awesome. Now we get internet and Directv out here in the middle of nowhere!! There is a blue light on it that shines at night. Kinda eerie looking but I think it's cool. The lady in the spot next to us said she saw it when she came in late one night and it led her right to her motorhome. We had the big test with the satellite dish yesterday. We had to hook up and go dump our tanks so this would be the first time stowing the dish and then putting it up again. Everything went VERY well. I was so happy. Finally something went right. We've been having trouble hooking up the hitch, our propane is only working partway and our left front jack isn't working so to have something work the way it's supposed to was really nice. We even stowed it away last night because the weatherman said we were supposed to have high winds. I read that you're supposed to stow it if the winds reach 40 mph and I heard on the news that they were reporting 50mph gusts. I had enough confidence in the dish to know that I could stow it away and then put it up again in the morning. Worked like a charm again. I haven't been able to watch the Food Network since December 20th!!! I'm so thrilled to be able to see it again. For those of you who know me you know the withdrawals I was going through. Tonight I'm making lobster bisque. Not really. It comes in a plastic bag and all I do is boil it.