Friday, May 31, 2019

Mayberry, USA

We said our good-byes to the last of the RV Quilters, and got hitched up and on the road.  We had slightly over 200 miles to go, just over the mountains to north-central North Carolina – the the little town of Mt. Airy, a.k.a Mayberry.

It was a beautiful day for a drive through the mountains!

Crossing Black Mountain

We arrived at the Mayberry Campground, and got set up on our site on Opie Taylor Avenue!

It’s a very nice campground in a beautiful area – you wouldn’t know you’re just a minute from the interstate!

We had a nice view out our front window, too!

We both remember the Andy Griffith Show from when we were kids, but I can’t say that I remember too much of it – enough to be interested in checking out the sites, though!

From what I understand, this was Andy Griffith’s hometown, and much of the locations in the show were inspired by actual locations here.

Like Floyd’s City Barber Shop . . . it used to be just City Barber Shop, but so many people would come in looking for “Floyd” that the barber decided to welcome the tourists and added “Floyd’s” the the name of his shop.

The “Barber” is a female today, but the son of the original barber hangs out in the shop in the afternoons to greet visitors, talk about the history of the shop, and take pictures.

Lots of pictures from Mayberry!

Tom was able to sit in Andy’s chair for a picture . . . but he couldn’t get a haircut!

We walked through the town and checked out some of the small shops along Main Street – Mayberry fame is pretty good for Mt. Airy – it’s one of the more prosperous small towns we’ve been to in our travels!

Back in the Jeep, we drove around town to check out the other tourist spots on the map – including Andy Griffith’s home,  which is owned by Hampton Hotels and available for nightly rentals.

It’s a cute little house . . .

and we just happened to be there when one of the Police Cruisers (tour cars) pulled up in front.

Next stop was the Mayberry Courthouse,

and jail.

Wasn’t there a town drunk who used to come in and sleep it off in the jail!?!

Next door is Wally’s Garage,

where we stopped to say “Hey!” to Goober and check out some more Mayberry memorabilia.

There’s a small gift shop, and this is where you can take a tour in one of the Police Cruisers for $40.

Or, you can just sit in one for free!  Tom had a good time talking to the guy driving the cars, and telling him how he used to drive one of these to high school!

We finished up our visit to Mt. Airy by stopping at an Amish market (nice, but nothing like E & S in Shipshewana), and a local meat store.  I love finding local meat stores in small towns we visit, and they never disappoint – we got a couple of really good beef tenderloin filets, and a pound of tasty bacon!  We had the steaks for dinner on the weekend, but saved the bacon to have with Nicolas.

On Saturday, the downtown area was taken over by the Mayberry Farmfest.

They kicked off the festivities on Friday evening with a tractor parade, and then filled the street on Saturday with all the tractors on display, and various vendors and exhibits.

We decided to check out the parade after dinner on Friday, and it was a lot of fun – LOTS of tractors!

There were a lot of old Ford tractors, and a few newer ones – several were very similar to Tom’s old tractor,

but none exactly the same.

Several were equipped for carrying passengers!

Big and Little . . .

There were a few newer ones . . .

and even some green and yellow!

At the end of the parade, they let the kids loose on their little tractors . . . they were so fun to watch . . . you just had to stay out of their way or you’d get your feet run over!

The next morning we walked through the festival . . . after getting breakfast sandwiches at our new favorite fast food breakfast spot – Biscuitville – it was really good! 

They had bluegrass music,

plant sales,

and animals – llamas and cows!

I also spotted a barn quilt (raffle prize),

and we got a free bag of freshly-ground cornmeal!

It was a nice little festival, and brought out lots of people from the community – nice to see!

Monday, May 27, 2019

A little bit of post-rally fun

The SEW2GETHER officially ended with Friday’s finale party – with a catered BBQ dinner, monstrous pies, and prizes.  It was a fun evening, and a great wrap-up to a wonderful week.  Since the Airing of the Quilts in Franklin was cancelled on Saturday, Debbie found a few quilt shops in nearby Waynesville and Maggie Valley and put together an optional impromptu shop hop.

Some of the attendees headed out for home on Saturday, but a pretty big group stuck around and went shopping on Saturday morning.  Tom and I decided to join in – we figured we’d go to a couple shops (or I would, he was just driving!), then go check out the elk herd in Maggie Valley, and have dinner in Waynesville.

True to the forecast, it was a rainy, foggy morning. 

We got a late start, waiting for a break in the rain to be able to get Casey out for a walk before we left.  There was finally a short break in the rain and we were able to get her out, then headed out.  I wanted to go to Maggie Valley first, and it looked like we could cut off some distance by taking the Blue Ridge Parkway across to the valley.

It was a good idea . . . but we (I) made a slight mis-interpretation of the map, and we ended up going the wrong way on the Parkway.  Oops!

We had actually driven several miles in the wrong direction before I realized what had happened, and then a couple more miles before Tom found a spot to get turned around!  But it was a beautiful drive!

There were multiple waterfalls running down the side of the mountain, and lots of rhododendron and mountain laurel in bloom.  So, we drove a few extra miles on the Parkway (so much for a shortcut!), but it was enjoyable!

We arrived in Maggie Valley, and then had to drive back up the mountain to reach the quilt shop!  LOL!

It was totally worth it, though – what a great shop!  I found everything I was looking for, and we didn’t even have to stop at the other shops.  See – I made up for my little mishap from earlier in the day!

With my shopping complete, we headed back up into the mountains, towards the Cataloochee area of the Smoky Mountains.  It was an interesting drive – lots of twists and turns!

We’ve done this drive before – back in the fall of 2012 when we were first on the road as fulltime RVers.  Nicolas was driving that time . . . and it’s where we started calling these switchback curves “U-turns” . . . and we still say that!

We saw this Bigfoot statue on the way up, and didn’t remember that from our last trip!

As we climbed higher, it was like a rainforest!

We reached the top of the mountain, and descended the other side into the National Park.

With all the rain, we weren’t sure how many elk were going to be out and about, but we were pleasantly surprised to see some as soon as we entered the park.

We continued on along the wildlife drive, but didn’t see anymore elk.  We did see several groups of turkeys, though!

The mountains were still beautiful, even in the fog.

The stream running alongside the road was extremely high and running really fast!

We reached the end of the road without seeing anybody else, but at the parking area at the end, there was a group of guys getting ready to hike into the woods. 

We weren’t doing any hiking, though – too wet!

As we drove back, we spotted a couple more elk in the meadow along the road,

and back at the ranch house and barn, a few more had gathered and were resting in the tall grass.

I just had to include this photo from our visit in 2012 – it’s just too funny – Bryce was being a bull elk!

Our visit this year was as eventful for the number of elk that we saw, but it was still a beautiful drive!

Leaving the park, we made out way into Waynesville where we had a nice italian dinner, and then went to mass at a cute little church.

Back at the RV Resort, the rain had moved out for the day and we had a pleasant evening.  The next day was nice, too, with just a little bit of rain in the morning.  The campground had coffee and donuts in the office, and we said good-bye to the  many attendees that were leaving.  We had two more days, and there were a few others staying until Tuesday, too. 

On Monday afternoon, the group put together an impromptu potluck, with Kim & Roy grilling fajitas for the group that included the remaining rally attendees, as well as Mike & Polly.  It was a nice evening, and a great way to wrap up our stay!

Had to get Ron in the picture, too!

Thanks everyone, for a lot of fun, and looking forward to seeing you again on the road!

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Gathering of Quilters

It was about three years ago that I discovered the facebook group, RV Quilters.  It’s an awesome group, and it’s quickly grown to over 20,000 members.  Can you believe that – 20,000 women that share the love of RVing and quilting – often at the same time!

We share information about how we set up our sewing space in the camper, where we store our “fabric stash”, and where the great Quilt Shops are as we travel the country!

Debbie, Kim and Juanita are admins of the facebook group, and they are also the organizational geniuses that put together the rally that I attended.

What a fun group of crazy women!  Mike, the owner of the campground, said he wasn’t quite sure what he was getting himself into, with 40 women gathering for a rally!

This was the 3rd SEW2GETHER for RV Quilters, but the first one that I’ve attended.  About 2/3 of this group had attended one of the previous events.

This SEW2GETHER was held at the Great Outdoors RV Resort in Franklin, NC.  This is a beautiful location in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in northwest North Carolina, just a few miles north of Georgia and about an hour west of Ashville.  We’ve stayed in this resort before, and we really like it – the facilities are beautiful and the owners are super friendly and responsive.

The rally kicked off on Sunday with check-in, where we received our “Goodie Totes” full of gifts – patterns, fabrics, kits, gadgets, and coupons for the local quilt shops.  In the evening, we gathered again for the Welcome Party with a Hawaiian theme --

and enjoyed dessert provided by the campground.

We met several more couples during the welcome party, and many of the guys started planning their own activities for the week while their wives would be busy quilting.

The doors to the rally room opened at 8:30 am on Monday morning, and Tom came in from walking Casey to tell me that there was already a line of women waiting outside the door at 8:15!  Yikes – these women are serious!  I was still gathering my stuff!  I told Tom to take my sewing machine over at 8:30 and grab spot at a table around the perimeter of the room.  I tend to be focused on my work, and I didn’t want to be in the middle of the room.

By the time I showed up, the room was full!

Prior to the rally, several of us had shown an interest in making jelly roll rugs (a very popular item right now), so Monday was set aside as the day for anybody interested in making one to work together and offer encouragement and advice.

I was one of the ones on the Jelly Roll Rug bandwagon, so I got right to work on mine . . . after I spent 30 minutes figuring out how to install my new walking foot on my sewing machine!

Got all my supplies

My new gadget – the jelly roll jig – made quick work of creating the “tube” from my fabric and batting strips,

and I made great progress on my ball of fabric tube.

The next step slowed me down, though, and proved to be much more challenging than I thought it would be.  There’s a multitude of advice on the internet for making these rugs, and the biggest challenge talked about is keeping them flat.

That proved to be an issue for me, and my final product did not turn out as I had hoped!

I took this picture after I had run the rug through my washing machine and stretched it out to flatten it as much as possible, and this was the best I could do.

I loved the color of the rug, and had invested too much into it to just throw it away, so I came up with an idea to salvage it.

I ended up cutting it in half and cutting out the part that would not lay down flat, and then I bound the raw edge and was able to use it as 2 rugs in my kitchen.

Not a bad plan B!

Meanwhile, down in the laundry room, the guys were having a “bucket light workshop”, and having a whole lot of fun on their own!

Most of the guys were making “RV Quilter” lights for their wives, but Tom said we didn’t have room to carry a bucket light, so I had him make one for Nicolas.

Looks great!

After that first day, I moved on to more successful projects – completing a couple quilt tops that I’ve had on my agenda for a while!

Starting with my wool applique barns that I’ve been working on for the last year,

and getting them into an accent quilt for the bed in the RV.

Looks good!

With that complete, I moved on to another quilt top – this one I didn’t quite finish because I decided to make it bigger and I didn’t have enough fabric!

Oh no, I guess I’ll have to go shopping!

I wasn’t the only busy quilter . . . there were lots of projects being completed that week!

One of the free kits in our goodie totes was for a gadget cushion – it holds your phone, and has tabs to hold pens, or scissors, and a cushion for needles and pins, too!  Lots of the participants made them!

The rally room was set aside for sewing all week, from 9am to 9pm everyday, and many people took advantage of all that dedicated sewing time.  Others went exploring, or shopping,

during the day, and in the evenings we could sew or hang out.  One evening we got together for some games, and another night Polly & Mike hosted a campfire for the whole group, complete with fixins’ for s’mores!

Most of the attendees gathered for the fire, and we had a great time!

Informal groups would plan dinners together most of the days, and we went one afternoon for dinner at the Dillard House,

in the beautiful north Georgia mountains.

It’s a family-style restaurant, offering good country food (fried chicken and all the sides), similar to what you get at Frankenmuth and in Shipshewana.  It was good, and we had a really nice time!

While I was busy sewing all week, Tom had some fun of his own.  He hooked up with two other guys who were interested in outdoorsy stuff, and they did a little biking,

and a whole bunch of hiking!

They visited several waterfalls,

and even climbed a few mountains!

They found some truly amazing views!

They drove up to the observation tower at Wayah Bald,

and did a little hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

It was beautiful up there!

Tom has definitely been paying attention when we hike together, and he got some really good pictures – he even took some pictures of old buildings, which is usually just my thing!

He even found a barn with barn quilt squares on it, and took a picture!

I’m so impressed!

He had a good time biking and hiking with Dick and Dennis, and was glad they found so many cool places to go!

Throughout the week, Kim – the official RV Quilters photographer – had each of the couples pose for a photo in front of their RV with a quilt.  I didn’t download all of them, but I did grab a few.

Sally & Dennis – our neighbors, and one of Tom’s hiking buddies

Kim & Dan – they’re from Ontario, and they have almost the same camper as Nicolas

Carol & Fred – they’re from Michigan and live just a few miles up the road from where we used to live!  Even funnier, he’s retired from Ford, and worked in the same building as Tom and I!

Gayle, my tablemate – she and her husband were fulltimers, but now they have a home in a community in Tennessee where every house has an RV garage.  Isn’t that an amazing quilt!?!

Donna and Paul – fellow mid-westerners from Wisconsin

Kim and Roy from Oklahoma – one of the organizers of the rally and the bucket light workshop leader – and their very well-behaved dogs

One of the highlights of our rally was supposed to be the “Airing of the Quilts” in downtown Franklin on Saturday, but the forecast was for heavy rain on Saturday, and by Wednesday we heard that the Chamber of Commerce had cancelled the event.  We were all pretty bummed, especially since the forecast had been calling for rain all week and we hadn’t gotten any!  (Just to be completely forthright – they ended up being right about Saturday; it poured all morning and most of the afternoon!)

Anyway, we decided to have our own “Airing of the Quilts” in the RV Resort on Thursday morning . . . and it was pretty darn impressive!!


I had to include a close-up of this one – she had such a cute display!

We walked all through the resort, and everybody had such beautiful displays of their quilts!

One little doggie wanted to get in on the show!

There are too many to show here individually, so I made a collage of the rest of them. 

Mike and Polly even got into the act, with a quilt draped on the back of their cart as they drove around looking at all of the displays!

This was a really cool part of the rally, and I think they are going to incorporate it into all of them from now on!  Kim & Roy drove around the park and made a video of all the sites, too – it’s on the RV Quilters facebook page and the Great Outdoors facebook page.

I do have to share the photos of my quilt display – I actually won a prize for having the most quilts on display (the benefit of being a fulltimer – I have all of mine with me all the time!).

I had 4 queen-size quilts on display, and numerous lap quilts and wall hangings, and I didn’t even bring everything out!

It was a lot of fun, and such a great way to showcase everyone’s talents and creativity!