Saturday, May 18, 2019

Franklin, NC–Some pre-rally fun

After saying good-bye to the cousins in Georgia, it was time to head to the mountains of Franklin, North Carolina for the RV Quilters (facebook group) SEW2GETHER (a.k.a. Rally)!  Tom was not too excited, but I had been looking forward to this all year!  It was being held at an RV Resort we’ve stayed at before – The Great Outdoors – it’s a beautiful park, and we really enjoy staying it there. 

Although Tom doesn’t like the entrance driveway too much – straight up the mountain!

We took State Hwy 441 from Madison, around Athens, past Tallulah Gorge and through the north Georgia mountains.  It was a beautiful day for a drive,

with just a little sprinkle of rain, right as we crossed into North Carolina (seriously, no rain at all for the entire drive, except for that sprinkle right as I was taking the picture of the North Carolina sign!).

We arrived at the Great Outdoors and got set up on site 66, a highly coveted site at the end of the top row.  I guess we’re special!!

The SEW2GETHER didn’t officially start until Sunday afternoon, so we took advantage of the free day on Saturday to take a drive up into the mountains, to the little town of Highlands.

Before heading out, we drove up to the RV sites above us on the mountainside.  These aren’t part of the RV Resort, but look like they were originally part of the same development plan.

We had a nice view of the RV Resort below – my first view of our roof!

There was heavy rain coming in later in the afternoon, but it was still clear when we headed up the mountain.  It’s steep and winding road – lots of fun!

We drove alongside the river as it flowed down the mountain.

We reached the first small waterfall, and stopped for a couple pictures.

Tom climbing on the rocks.

One more shot without the photo-bombers.

Continuing on a little further, we reached Dry Falls – an odd name for it, considering the amount of water flowing over the falls!

It was a busy place that Saturday, and we had to wait for somebody to leave to get a parking spot! 

The view from the first overlook,

and from a little further down the trail.

It’s just a short easy (although a little slippery with the spray from the falls) walk down to the falls, and where you can get behind them.

We were getting pretty wet in that second shot, so didn’t stay there too long! 

Looking down the river from behind the falls – that’s a lot of water!

I made Tom go back for one more picture! lol

So beautiful!

We didn’t hang around too long, since there were still people waiting for parking spots, and continued on the Highlands.

We stopped at the dam for a picture of the lake.


Highlands is a cute little resort town with several nice restaurants and lots of shops.  They have a Kilwin’s (a Michigan favorite for chocolate and ice cream!), my favorite Spice and Tea Shop, and Colonel Mustard’s – a jelly and dip shop that has samples out of EVERYTHING!  Tom loves that one!  We had lunch at the little pizzeria, and while we ate, the rain caught up to us, so we had to dodge the downpours as we went from shop to shop.

Our plan had been to drive down the other side of the mountain to Dillard, GA, but since it was pouring (and not expected to stop for the rest of the day), we just went back to Franklin the same way we had gone up – a little slower and more carefully, though!

It was a nice day, and we enjoyed out little excursion to Highlands.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Taking a turn to the north–Georgia

With forecasted storms for the panhandle area of Florida once again coinciding with our travel day, we got an early start so we could stay ahead of them and get settled in our new location.

Driving a familiar route, we made our way through Alabama and into Georgia.


Our destination was the Pine Mountain RV Resort – we had spent a couple weeks here back in 2015 when our truck was in the shop in Atlanta – and it’s a nice resort.  We arrived and got all settled before the rain arrived, and we didn’t get any severe weather at all, so that was a relief.  Once that rain moved through, the weekend was supposed to be beautiful, and we were looking forward to a couple of nice pool days!

We didn’t think the RV Resort would be very crowded at the end of April, but when we checked in we found out that there was a Escapees Rally (Southeast Region, I think) coming up the next week, and RVer Bootcamp that weekend.  I guess we were pretty lucky to get a site!

We did enjoy some nice relaxing pool time over the next couple days, and I finished an entire book!  We didn’t feel the need to do any sight-seeing while we were there, since we had seen everything when we were there before, but on Saturday some people at the pool told us about the Pine Mountain Trail, which parallels the highway through Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, from Pine Mountain to Warm Springs.

After an early dinner, we put the top down on the Jeep and headed out to FDR State Park.  We didn’t have time to do any hiking on the trail, but we could drive along the highway over the mountain.

It was a beautiful drive through the mountains, with several overlooks of the surrounding valleys.

The road twisted and winded it’s way through the mountains – it was a fun drive in the Jeep, and a popular route for motorcycles, too.

We pulled into one overlook and met a whole group of bikers out for a ride on this beautiful day.

We talked for a while and took a few pictures for each other before going off in opposite directions.

Tom’s new friend – he had a very strong Louisiana accent, and we could hardly understand him!  Friendly guy, though!

We stopped at one more overlook, at the peak of Pine Mountain . . .

then continued on to Warm Springs.  This is the location of FDRs Little White House, and the springs that were used to try to treat polio.  We’d toured Warm Springs when we were here before, so we didn’t stop this time.  We just drove through and then headed back the way we came.

On the way back, we drove through the state park campground.  It’s a nice little campground, but not one that we could get our motorhome into!

One more overlook that we missed on the way up . . . that’s Callaway Gardens down there.

It was almost time for church by then, so we headed back to town.  It was a beautiful day for a drive!

Back in town, we spotted this cool VW Bug!

Tom was wearing his “Navy Dad” T-shirt, and it caught the priest's attention when we arrived at church.  It turns out that the pastor is a retired Navy Captain – he was the Chaplain on the aircraft carrier, USS Constellation (CV-64).

On Sunday, it was time for us to move on and we had another fairly short drive . . . although it would take us through Atlanta.  Typically something a lot of RVers try to avoid, but we would be on I-85 and I-20, so not really going through the middle of Atlanta, and it was Sunday, so traffic should be light.

We got off to a good start . . . until we got a couple miles down the road and Tom realized that he had forgotten to remove our Progressive EMS off the electric pedestal!  That was a first!

It took several more miles for us to find a place to pull over, but we eventually did and un-hitched the Jeep so that Tom could drive back to the RV Resort and retrieve the EMS.  That was almost an expensive mistake!

Once he got back, we got on the road and made our way to Country Boys RV Park in Madison, GA.  It’s just up the road from Eatonton, where Tom’s cousins live, and we spent the next several days visiting with them in the evenings – at their house, at the RV Park, and out to dinner several times.  It was a very warm week, and we made a couple of trips to  Dairy Queen, too! 

Madison is a cute historic town, and one night after dinner at a pizzeria in downtown,we walked off our dinner while admiring the beautiful architecture.

There was a park with an outdoor stage surrounded by gardens,

and a beautiful county courthouse on the square.

After our walking tour, we also took a driving tour through several old neighborhoods – there are some gorgeous old homes in town!

We had a great week visiting with Andrea and John, discussing retirement plans and talking about RVs.  Thanks for hanging out with us, guys – we had a great time, and we were glad to be able to see Emily one evening, too!

Meanwhile, back in Michigan, Bryce was one of several recipients in his class, of the Jack and Maryann Heppinstall Memorial Athletic Training Student Scholarship.

This award is intended to encourage athletic training students who have demonstrated the capacity to achieve educational and professional goals, the motivation to achieve these goals, and the leadership and initiative to seek opportunities to further their progress in the profession of athletic training. AT students are encouraged to incorporate Jack Heppinstall’s criteria with focusing on a consistent and balanced combination of academic, professional, motivation, leadership, AT Club involvement, and clinical initiative characteristics.

The more casual version . . .

He’s certainly in his element at MSU and within the Athletic Training Department, and we’re so proud of how well he’s doing and the success he’s having!  I think he’s going to have a very successful career!

And he’s handsome, too!!

And in Virginia, Nicolas’ ship went back out for another underway.  One of the local spouses captured some great photos of the Ike as it passed by Fort Monroe.

It looks pretty amazing, doesn’t it?

During this underway, Nicolas was pinned with his Surface Warfare pin, indicating that he has completed all surface warfare qualifications on his ship.

We’re very proud of him, too – he’s making progress and earning more responsibility on the ship. 

He works long, hard hours, but he still gets to see the sun once in a while!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Continuing east–staying ahead of the storms along the coast

The day we were scheduled to leave Louisiana was predicted to have severe storms and even tornados later in the morning, and they would be following us all the way to our next destination in Mississippi.  Some of the other folks in the RV Park were packing up an leaving in the evening, but we decided that we didn’t have too much to do in the morning, so we would just get an early start.

We only had about 165 miles to travel, so it would be a fairly light travel day.  We got up early, and were on the road by 8am.  It turned out to be a great morning for a drive!

We made our way over the Atchafalaya Swamp,

through Baton Rouge, and around Lake Pontchatrain.  Just a few short hours later we were crossing into Mississippi,

a new state for us and one more to fill in on the map!

Our destination was the beautiful coastal town of Pass Christian, and the home of fellow Monacoers and RV Quilter, Bill & Peggy.

They have this home here by the coast, but spend most of their time in the RV in the driveway.  We got backed into the driveway in front of their RV, where we would spend the next few days.


We got all set up, and even had time to go get some lunch together before the storms moved through.  Thankfully, the severe stuff went north of us, and we only got some rain and wind!

We spent the next few days shopping and sewing, and Tom & Bill checked out a few things on the motorhome.

Bill & Peggy have almost the exact same RV as us, and Bill is very familiar with many of the systems, so it was a good learning experience for Tom, even after 3 years – plus they fixed our doorbell!

In the mornings, Tom and I & Casey would walk the 2 blocks down to the beach and find a bench along the seawall where we would sit and enjoy our coffee while watching the water, and the birds. 

Casey kept a close eye on the birds!!

One afternoon, Tom and I took a drive along the coast, through Gulfport and all the way to Biloxi.

We walked along the beach and the fishing pier,

Mississippi sure has a beautiful coastline!

We also saw a few interesting restaurants on our drive, and stopped at a small Farmers Market to pick up some treats.

Most of our time, though, was just spent relaxing and visiting – a perfect weekend!

With the storms gone, we were left with some beautiful sunsets over the bay!

The next day was Easter Sunday, and after attending mass, Tom and I joined Bill & Peggy and their family for a delicious Easter dinner.

It was a beautiful day, and we all took a walk down to the beach after dinner!

The next day, it was time for us to continue our trek east, with our next stop just north of Destin. FL.

WE pulled the RV out of the driveway , and pulled up alongside the sidewalk to dump the tanks.

Tom was feeling a little bit like “Cousin Eddie”, but Bill assured us that it was fine!

We thanked Bill & Peggy for their hospitality, and were on our way.  It was another beautiful day for a drive, and we cruised right through Alabama,

and into Florida.

We arrived at Live Oak Landing RV Resort, just north of Destin, and got set up on our site for the next 3 days.

It was a nice RV Resort, surrounded by canals leading out to the Bay, and then the the Gulf.

We arrived early enough on Monday that we had a couple of hours to spend at the pool – and had the whole place to ourselves!

The next evening after dinner, we took a drive down to Destin to walk on the beach and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

We found some sand sculptures that somebody had left behind . . .

It was a beautiful evening, and Destin is still just as beautiful as we remember it being!

The pure white sand and the emerald blue water – beautiful!  Just a little chilly, though!

We got a nice little beach fix, and then it was time for us to turn north and continue our travels – and once again, we would be trying to stay ahead of the spring storms!