Wednesday, March 30, 2011

and after one month on the road…

014Well here we are! It has been one month since we retired and took off from the land where we lived for over thirty years… So has it been everything we thought it would be? Are there things that we have missed from Texas? Is there anything we would like to have a “Do over!” for? Do we still think this is a good idea? Will we do this again next month? There are a lot of questions that could be asked of us right now so we will try to answer what we think our family and friends would want to know.

His opinion:

051This has been a great adventure so far and we have only scratched the surface. There is nothing I would rather be doing now than what we are doing (unless we win the lottery soon). If we had some “do overs” the only things I would do differently would have been to retire about a month earlier so we could have made sure things were in better shape before we left such as ensuring we were ready to tow and to better get the house ready for sale.

The things I miss most about our life in Texas are the socializing with our friends, the barbeque, the Dudley’s Draw (my favorite tavern). I am sorry we missed Glen’s crawfish boil (and his wife’s really good and rummy rum cake) and the spring golf tournament. I don’t really miss the house like I thought I may and I don’t miss work at all!!!

074So in my opinion all is well and we will venture onward and Yes! we like this life style so far and will stay here in North Carolina another month. We are taking a mini-vacation (I know life is tough) as we drive over to Nashville to watch the daughter play some softball and stay a few days to enjoy the honky tonks of Nashville… especially the bluebird café. We will be holed up in the Radisson hotel (Gawd I love Priceline) and then return back to North Carolina to do some more of this RV’ing stuff :) …

The only downside so far is when we get stuck in bad weather like it has been here lately – cold and rainy. It did give me time to do the taxes and for us to catch up on laundry. I will see if I can get the Mrs. to post her one month’s thoughts as well…

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Last day outing before the rain and cold hits…

018The weather here as I write this blog is cold… rainy and just like the weather I hope to see less of as we continue our journeys in the future. But yesterday we decided that we wanted to try out a little restaurant that is near a harness training track near Pinehurst, NC.

019We lounged around the RV after waking and decided we would drink our own coffee before heading to the restaurant. It was a short drive of less than five miles and we found ourselves turning onto a short dirt road driveway that led us around to the Track restaurant. It is located in one of the older track buildings that was likely a kitchen area for the workers of the track in the day. The breakfast here was wonderful and the surrounding views of the track made this such a nice find it has a separate write up in my other blog Road Treats.. check it out…

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This track will be hopping in April when the first matinee races begin and we have marked this on the calendar… After breakfast we strolled around the compound and watched as the trainers were training the ponies to race in the harnesses… what a great way to spend a morning. After 1:00 pm you are allowed to walk all the around the place including over near the stables. Above photos are after our breakfast of the training that was happening that day and below are some photos during our later day stroll around the track when we checked out the “behind the scenes” places…

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A really great place to spend the day and make sure you have breakfast or lunch at the Track restaurant to either kick start the day or to top it off before you stroll around the track.  There are two tracks in front of the restaurant one is 1/2 mile and the outer loop is a 5/8 mile loop track. Walk around it from both directions since not only does the lighting change but the views are a bit different too.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Raven Rock State Park NC…

012Since we have to drive to the town of Buies Creek to watch our daughter play her sport at Campbell University we thought it would be a good idea to find something else to do along the way. So out of003011 our search for something do we came up with Raven Rock State Park. We had been here a couple of times before in the past while visiting our daughter but it was such a nice place we decided to do it again.

The park is located near Lillington, North Carolina, it is about 4,600 acres in size and it is situated along the banks of the Cape Fear River on the eastern edge of the Piedmont. The park has been recently face lifted with a new visitors center and all the dirt roads and parking lots that were there in the past have been newly paved. It is still free to enter the park but with all the cost of renovations here I don’t expect that to last much longer. Raven Rock’s name is said to have come from the common sighting of ravens that roosted on the rock ledges.

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So we packed up a picnic lunch and set off for the park. Once we arrived we found the picnic area and ate lunch. Then it was off to Raven Rock Trail for the 2.2 mile loop trail. Again early signs of spring were everywhere as the yellow jasmine and dogwoods were beginning to bloom. The trail starts out as a relatively easy hike but starts to give up elevation till about one mile in when you hit the stairs down to the rock. Not too bad until you walk around for a while and then realize you have to climb back up all those stairs.

006Raven Rock is pretty impressive with the shear rock bluff overhanging the shoreline of the cape fear river. The wild violets were in bloom as were many small yellow lilies. After taking a few photos we began the climb up the stairs and were well winded when we reached the top of them. One hundred and forty eight steps…

Raven Rock State Park is great for a day getaway if you are near by. There are more trails with the longest being 5.5 miles in length. We will come back again to do some other trails…

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We had a really rough Monday…

100_4288After waking up and having a cup of coffee and breakfast we just kind of lounged around the house and started to just take it all in… Then after we ate lunch we decided it was time for a trip into town to find Reservoir Park that was located near the town of Southern Pines.

The park has a 95 acre lake that was created in 1924100_4293 when a dam was built across a Mill Creek and supplied up to 2,000,000 gallons of water per day to Southern Pines and the surrounding area. The park is run by the city and is free to enter.  We decided to hike the 2.2 mile loop around the lake and took a few side trails as well.

100_4295The early signs of spring were abound as the fiddleheads of ferns were spotted along with the flowering dogwoods and wild blueberries. The trail on the lake is pretty well manicured and was a pleasant and fairly easy hike. e were occasionally passed by joggers and mountain bikers but they didn’t interfere with us bird watching or ambling along…

100_4296We stopped along a boardwalk crossing a creek that fed into the lake and the water was so clear that we could see the lily pads waiting to emerge from the depths… so we sat for a while and took it all in… While sitting a rather large (about one foot long) trout came out from the boardwalk and was manicuring it’s spawning bed. It had cleared out about a two foot diameter circle of sea grass and had wallowed out a place where she would soon be laying her eggs.

100_4299While watching her an American Coot was on the other side working the lily pads and sea grasses in search of food. We watched as she plodded along eating grasses and an occasional minnow and small frog. After sitting there for about half an hour we moved on towards the end of the trail where we were greeted by a pair of courting Canadian Geese.










After hiking around the lake we once again went into the town of Pinehurst as we really enjoy the area a lot.  One more visit to 100_4315Dugan’s Pub for an ice cold draft Yeungling and a small walk around the quaint downtown area where there are several golf related statues in town… the tulips and landscaping were impeccable as this is obviously a vacation choice for the haves and not necessarily for the have nots.

No better way to end the day than with a nice dinner made in our new home… Seared Tuna with a mushroom lemon cream sauce, asparagus, rice with green chilies and mushrooms, and a slice of homemade wheat bread that was our first loaf of bread made in the convection oven… a nice glass of red wine to top it off… excellent!!!


Monday, March 21, 2011

First RV modification… Bedroom Closet…

100_4277While on the drive over to North Carolina from Texas we had only a few incidents that could be chalked up to being newbies (inexperienced RV’ers). One of those was leaving our printer on a shelf accidentally only to find it jettisoned across the room after a 300 mile drive. It still works but makes an awful lot of noise… chalk that up to an experience learned.

The other incident was even though I tried to get the darling bride to get rid of lots of her clothes we still apparently brought too many. You see it appears that when they made the closet they only put in a 100_4285closet rod that was rated for holding less than 300 lbs of clothes :)… The first picture shows what we had left – just a closet… no rod, no nothing…

100_4286So after another 300 mile trip we found the closet support bent and the hollow metal closet rod broke. So it was time to redo the closet. We planned on redoing it anyhow since the closet rod was too high for the wife to reach (she is a short girl). But we will just do it earlier than planned : )

100_4284So after lots of planning I had figured out what we could do. The only challenge as it turned out was how to affix anything to the walls for the supports. Since the back wall is made up of a thin Luann covering over about 2.25 inches of Styrofoam insulation it made for a challenge. Hollow wall anchors wouldn’t work so I used the fattest screw in sheetrock anchors which worked perfectly. I made sure the two inch screws I was going to use for support wouldn't go through the exterior coving by using an ice pick to measure how deep each screw could go.

Once the supports were up we inserted the self supports and inserted the new wooden clothes rod and put the shelves up on the supports. The shelves interlock into the support brackets but I also used zip ties to secure them to the supports even more. It looks great and is infinitely more functional and the darling bride can now reach not only the clothes rod but the plastic containers on the top shelf.

100_4281Now this was a fairly easy job especially when you measure the shelves and have Lowe’s cut them for you at their store. But as easy as it was it still required many more trips to and from Lowe’s than I would have liked… but for a total cost just under $190.00 we are glad we did it and now we have time to sit and think about it all at the Carolina Inn…

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Life in the slow lane…

100_4278We have been looking for a place to stay for the last several days and have found that in central North Carolina there are not many real nice places to stay… however, the place we are staying in Aberdeen is much better than all the places we have been looking at. So it looks like we are boondocking here for a while since our friend encouraged us to stay here until we find a better place. There is a chance that this is the better place… so we are here until we get kicked out… lol.

100_4279We will stay here when she goes away for a while and watch her place and feed her dog so she won’t have to kennel her. This is the best place for us to stay for now and so it looks like we will be here boondocking for the next several weeks. We are taking a crash course in boondocking 101.

So we tried to make modifications to our closet only to learn it was much more difficult than we thought it would be. More on this story in another blog… so after that frustration we into the village of Pinehurst where many PGA golf tournaments are held. What a quaint and fun place to visit.  After having a nice  beer at Dugan’s pub, we walked around the village soaking in the sights of spring…tulips blooming, pear trees and pansies everywhere. 

100_4282A must see in this area is the Carolina Inn. So historic with a wrap around porch and inviting rocking chairs revealing extraordinary panoramic views. After an enjoyable stop and walk around the village we headed to the town of Aberdeen to a new brewery called Railhouse Brewery.  A live band played who happened to be local 17 year olds  just branching out to the big time.  We thoroughly enjoyed our evening out because it completely erased the frustrations of the day.  We reminded ourselves we are not on a time constraint as were were in our past life so we can accomplish our goals in  the time it takes rather than rushing to get done as we have always done in our past life.  We are starting to get use to this.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Back in North Carolina…

camel softball at ASU 2We are back from our little hiatus in Arizona where we were able to enjoy the sunshine and clear 80 plus degree days while watching some softball at the University of Arizona. We had a really good time while we were there and really enjoyed the hospitality of one of the player’s parents.

Camel softball at ASUWe flew back from Phoenix to Charlotte NC on the flight from hell (well not rally that bad but it sucked for us)… we left Phoenix and were not given seats on the flight when I checked in. Odd since I had seats the night before when I verified everything… so they tell us to wait and be called for seat assignments. Wait we did till the last people were getting on the plane and then finally our names are called and we are told we have the last two seats far far apart from each other… it gets worse as they inform us one of them is in an area where on the last flight someone hurled and there “might be a bit of smell lingering.” So we finally depart 25 minutes late to Charlotte and we only had 50 minutes between flights. No problem since the captain says we will make up the time…

ASU orangesWrong we land 5 minutes after my ticket says pre-boarding is occurring on our connecting flight two terminals over in the Atlanta airport (man I am beginning to dislike Atlanta). So we get off the plane with 25 minutes to spare before our plane takes off. So here we go off on the Amazing Race dash through the airport, to the tram, off the tram, sprint with luggage in tow up the escalator, and to gate 47 at the end of terminal C to become the last two people on board as they shut the door behind us.

Aberdeen Dry CampGreat… then as we taxi the pilot informs us that we have to park and wait for some “numbers from the corporate office and will take off shortly after we get them”… 45 minutes later we finally start to move and take off at 11:30pm to Charlotte.  Mind you our park and stay hotel has the last shuttle at midnight. So we land 15 minutes after midnight and of course the shuttle has stopped running so we had to cab it over to get our car. Two plus hours later at 3:00 AM we pull up to the motorhome and simply crawled into bed and crashed.

So what is next? We have to find a place to stay for a month or more in the vicinity so it will be off in the car exploring tomorrow to check out the local RV parks…

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A time out…

We spent the last week or so moving at a more frantic pace than we had really hoped to. But once we got our rig to North Carolina we knew it was time to find a place to park her while we made a trip out west to Arizona. Several months ago we had already planned this trip to Arizona to go watch a softball tournament. The only thing we were uncertain about was where were going to be when we were left for the trip.

We had guessed we would be in the Charlotte area so we had booked our flight to leave from there at 6:00 am. However, as it turned out we were in the Pinehurst NC area some 2 hours away. So we got on priceline and booked ourselves a room at the Charlotte airport. We caught the flight with no snags and have been here in Phoenix for the past couple of days.

What a contrast of weather we have here as compared to the cold, stormy and rainy Charlotte area we left. Here we have sunny warm days in the 80’s. We also used Priceline here and landed a great rate at an upscale hotel so we are enjoying our stay. It is like we have taken a vacation from our frenzied week following our retirement.

We get back to NC early on Monday morning and our task for the next couple of days once we are back will be to  explore the area within one hour of the Campbell University area to find a place for us to stay for the next month or so. I really don’t think it will hit us until then that we are retired and really doing what we had dreamed about doing… full timing…

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Little Pee Dee State Park, Dillon, SC

Little Pee Dee State Park is a nice little park located just outside of  Dillon, South Carolina and only a short drive from where we 100_4234are staying at Bass Lake RV Park. The drive was pleasant with the lack of traffic since everyone is at work :) so we took our time getting there. The weather was brisk at 58F but it was sunny and perfect for hiking.

100_4243As we entered the park it was refreshing to find that there was no fee for entering it… so we passed the entrance sign and proceeded to Howard Lake where the road ended. The earliest signs of spring are beginning to show their signs here as the red maple bud are starting to burst forth and array of small pointed palmate leaves. The birds are more active as well.

100_4237The hike is an easy one with very little elevation changes. As you are walking through the sandhills area there is a variety of pine and Spanish moss draped hardwood trees. The nature trail was called beaver pond trail and it culminated in a loop that ran along the edge of the water behind the beaver dam. I have yet to find my binoculars in all of our hasty packing but the birdlife was energetic.

100_4240A couple of nice sightings were had on the trail . The wood ducks were nestled in behind the beaver dam and let out their wondrous calls as they lit into flight. We also saw a pileated woodpecker, a crow sized red crested bird, that was pummeling a fallen piece of decayed wood some 35 yards from us on the forest floor.

100_4244If you are in the area this was a tranquil hike with few encounters with man kind… sure beats working… Finished it off with a southern dinner tradition.. sausage and mashed potatoes with gravy and a bit of something healthy like asparagus…

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dillon, South Carolina

Another fairly long drive from Athens, Georgia to Dillon, South Carolina but we drove a bit further than we planned to so we would have a real  short drive the next time. We are at a nice little RV park off of highway 90 a few miles from the North Carolina border.

The name of the place is Bass Lake RV park. Nothing special about it but it is perfect for us for the next day or two that we will be here. A small fishing lake is nearby which has a trail around it that was an enjoyable walk for the two of us after our long drive. Good wifi but no cable and a bit of road noise but overall it is fine for our needs.

Yesterday we went to a nice little pub that was known for its wings and as a result it will become the first place we reviewed on a sister blog called Road Treats. Road Treats will be a blog dedicated to all the neat little places we find while traveling on the road. Visit it and you can read about the first of the neat little places we found in Athens, Georgia.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Learning one day at a time…

100_4225We have been in the motorhome for 4 days now and have been stationary for the last few nights and it has been wonderful even though it has been raining since we arrived in Athens Georgia.  We are staying at an absolutely quaint little RV park named Pine Lake RV camp about 15 minutes from Athens. There are about 30 sites but only a couple of pull-through sites for larger rigs. It is very quiet with no trains nearby and 100_4226only slight traffic noise on the little traveled road nearby. The only negative is they only accept cash. However there are a few ponds and a dock that looks like a nice place to sit and enjoy a cocktail if it wasn’t raining…

We are striving to learn something new about the motorhome day by day since we never had the opportunity to do a shakedown trip before full timing. We never stayed anywhere in a motorhome till our first night on the road a few days ago. So what have the rookies learned so far?100_4227

  • the RV will fit between two semi trucks on a highway without the mirrors hitting them
  • the Norcold refrigerator will only work on AC power when plugged in
  • the clothes bar for hanging clothes will not support 200 lbs of clothes when you go over a bump in the road
  • leveling the motorhome is an art not a science
  • packing two 3 lb. packages of homemade tamales in the freezer leaves little room for anything else
  • the fantastic fans work best when you open the vents more than a little bit 100_4229

We have much more to learn but most important is that we are getting to know our motorhome more and more and are loving are decision to live in her more each day…