Saturday, April 30, 2011

Buies Creek and Fuquay-Varina, NC…

uwnc katieThis week we ventured south to the town of Buies Creek – home of the fighting Camels of Campbell University.  Yes I said Camels. Campbell is one of only two teams in the USA that have the Camel as their mascot… the other is a smaller school, Connecticut College. This weeks softball journey was for us to see the final three home games of our daughter’s softball career. As it turned out there would only be one game since the other two were rained out and then later on they were cancelled altogether so we had seen her last home game and didn’t even know it…

198238_205482292795778_100000020278721_821748_5426735_nThey did win their last home game so they will have that to remember and they have qualified for their end of season championship that will be held in Spartenburg, SC. We booked a place at nearby Croft State Natural Area so we will be moving our RV from our boondocking site in Aberdeen, NC to SC on the 10th of May.  I have a site reserved for two weeks so we can get use to what it is like to have electricity and water all the time for a change : )

Since the last two games in Buies Creek were cancelled we decided to make a side trip over to  Fuquay-Varina as one of our blog readers suggested we try a small brewery that makes an award winning crafted beer there. So we bought some lunch to go and headed off to Fuqay-Varina looking for a nice spot to eat it along the way. We looked everywhere before deciding that a small athletic park just outside of town would suffice. Then not one mile further we came across a nice park right in the older part of town that featured the mineral spring that historical gave rise to the town’s name. We stopped and enjoyed the park and wished we had stopped here for lunch instead… oh well, maybe next time…

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Then it was off to Aviator Brewery to sample their award winning crafted beers. I purchased a flight of four beers to sample. The flight consisted of HotRod Red -  6.1% alc, HogWild India Pale - 6.7% alc, Devils Tramping Ground Tripel- 9.2% alc, and King Rat Imperial Oatmeal Stout -  8.0% alc. My bride decided that each of them were a bit too bitter for her and I tended to agree they each tended to tweak the bitter receptors on the back of the tongue. However, the Pale Ale and the Stout were very good. Good enough that I had to order another pint of the stout and at 8.0% alcohol it was not only stout but quite tasty.. As I was paying the bill I noticed I hadn’t tried the gold medal winner the Saison de Aviator - 6.5% alc/vol.  So another small beer later and I had tried the Belgian styled wheat beer and it may have been the best of the lot.

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They had quite a selection of crafted brews and across the street they also have a smokehouse that serves food if beverages aren’t enough for you. The tavern is located in what appears to be an old railroad station that also appears to have been an art gallery at one time. There is some ambiance as they have some art along the walls as your seek out the restrooms. You don’t have to be a “beer snob” to visit this spot and I would say you should check it out when in the area.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spartanburg, SC…

100_4590The last road trip for the regular season took us over to Spartanburg, SC. This was a road trip of about 188 miles but one we wanted to make since there was a good chance that the softball team would make the end of the year Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) tournament that would be hosted by the University of South Carolina Upstate at Spartanburg, SC.

Since this would the finality of softball for our daughter and it would be after graduation it just made since for us to make this our launching point for going north in the 100_4593RV. So we scouted the area to find a good spot to stay for a week or so during the ASUN tournament. So today a doubleheader with USC Upstate and tomorrow would be a scouting day.

We arrived in Spartanburg around lunch time and headed over to Wades since we had read that this was an awesome place for lunch if you loved vegetables... which we do.  The place in on the rougher side of town but the parking lot was stuffed for lunch on the Saturday before Easter. We both ordered their vegetable plate which included four vegetables of your choice along with corn bread and rolls and sweet tea (a Carolina staple)… Really goo home styled food from the south here.

After lunch we found Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve and took a stroll through this wonderful garden that is a slice of nature going through an otherwise uninspiring area. If in the are take a walk through this garden…

100_4579Softball was not on the agenda for the ladies this day as USC upstate took the double header and sent the Campbell ladies home with two losses. We planned to stay one more night to check out RV places so all was not lost. And so we bid our daughter farewell as she left on the bus for her last seasonal road trip excluding the ASUN tournament.

The next morning we woke and went over to Papa’s Breakfast Nook  for breakfast which turned out to be a road treat as we dined there for an inexpensive and scrumptious breakfast. The is your typical old style diner with a flat grill that is visible from the dining room and is crowded with locals… especially on Easter Sunday. All I can say is the home fries are to die for and you won’t leave hungry.  Heyduke says try it out…

Then it was off to Croft State Natural Area as this was the best possibility for us to stay at the next time we returned. As we drove in the long and tree lined road into the park it became apparent that if we could fit into any of the sites we had a winner.

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We checked out both of the loops and stopped by Tom Moore Craig Lake and were pretty easily sold that this would work for us. We stopped by the park ranger’s office and chatted with a really nice employee who told us the prices, what would work for our RV, and said he would stop by our campsite and play the guitar if we were to stay for awhile…


So we have a home for the second week in May in South Carolina…

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Side trip to Savannah…

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With softball having two double-headers away we decided to head down to Jacksonville, Florida to watch the four games. The plan was to spend a few days in Jacksonville and then on the way back to do a diversion through Savannah, Georgia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We would spend an additional night in Charleston, South Carolina before heading back to the RV.

100_4541Once again due to the price of diesel combined with the camp fees necessary we opted to priceline our hotels (we are still boondocking where we currently are). We were fortunate to land a Courtyard Marriot in Jacksonville ($42 per night) and as a bonus it was right beside the Mayo Clinic. We have heard about the renowned Mayo Clinics but never visited one so we were happy with this selection. There are only three Mayo Clinics in the entire USA with the other two in Rochester, MN and Scottsdale AZ


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While the softball team didn’t fare too well (they went 1-3) we got to spend some time walking the grounds of the Mayo Clinic,enjoying in the sun, playing in the surf and on the beach, and touring for future spots to stay in the motorhome. On our travels back we stopped over in the historical town of Savannah, GA. For those of you who haven’t been there in the spring you really need to start planning now. The colors of the azaleas, dogwoods, and wisteria were everywhere!

100_4556Savannah’s downtown area is loaded with small courtyard like parks that are on alternate blocks with each honoring a former civil war soldier or other historical dignitary. We parked the car at the famous Forsyth Park and walked much of its perimeter enjoying the older renovated homes. As we strolled down Bull Street from the park we were treated with small parks about every four blocks. Each of which was dedicated with an artwork of a statue along with a plaque telling about the individual being honored. The history of this can be felt as you stroll through each of these parks taking in all that there is to take in. Then we wandered towards the riverside area to see some of the old river front wharf area.100_4571

After several hours we got back in the car and headed to Charleston via Myrtle Beach to spend the night. We stopped along the way at some RV parks and state parks noting places we liked.

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We crammed a lot in in four short days but we will definitely be back for a longer visit to the Savannah region…

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wiring up the toad…

Well as you may remember when we started this journey over a month ago we were not able to tow our Honda CRV since we were missing some parts. We finally got the parts needed to finish being able to hook up the toad. Yes!!!! So I got up early one morning to get all the parts out and make sure we would be able to tow the CRV the next time we are ready to leave.

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I had previously installed the Roadmaster base plate on our new Honda CR-V. That task takes about 3.5 hours and requires minimal cutting on the front fascia of the CRV. The parts I was initially missing were the quick disconnects that we had to order from Roadmaster . Once these parts arrived we finally had everything we needed to mechanically tow the CRV, or did we?. Because now we had to hook of the electrical side of the equation.

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To install the Roadmaster Universal Light Kit we were going to need to run the lighting wires underneath the car and along the brake lines and support beams on the driver’s side until we could run the wires up into the rear quarter panel to the rear lights. I couldn’t find an easy way into the interior via the firewall so I chose the outside and under approach. Snaking the wire under the car was best done by feeding in through the hollow support steel from below where possible and feeding the wire rear wards making sure to avoid any possible areas that might compress the wires or put them too near the exhaust system (don’t want them melted).

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Snaking the wires from front to back will take a good hour if you are meticulous and have to redo parts of it like I did ; ) … But once this part was done I was able to determine which lights lit up when the turn signal, brakes and lights were used. I used a sharpie to mark inside the plastic what each light did. Now the universal kit didn’t have everything I needed so I had to order two additional diodes (which I had ordered after ordering the light kit).  The additional diodes are necessary for me since both my CRV and motorhome have separate lights for turn signals, breaks and lights. Wiring the diodes in place wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

100_4572After splicing in all six of the diodes I had my wife watch the lights as I retested everything and all seemed to work like they was supposed to. Looks like I didn’t screw anything up :) !!! So all I need to do is attach the 4 flat-to-4 round adapter I bought to the 4 round-to-7 round pigtail I have for the motorhome attachment point and we can test the motorhome. But alas, I still need another part as both of my 4 round adapters are female… so even thought I thought I had ordered all the parts I will still need at least one more…


The rest of this story will have to wait till I find the additional part…

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A simple life…

100_4280Boondocking here in North Carolina has magnified just how simple life has become… We wake near sunrise and after about 8:00 am I fire up the generator to recharge the batteries and to more importantly make the morning coffee. The morning coffee is a simple ritual that I have preserved from our sticks and bricks life. I am still enjoying coffee from the fine beans roasted by a friend at Cool Beans in College Station, Texas. The beans that we have left came from a one pound bag given to me by one of my coworkers as a parting retirement gift and they are much appreciated (Thanks Bill!).

100_4283Once the coffee has been thoroughly enjoyed we tend to lounge around the RV catching up on reading and conversation and then we begin to plan out the remaining day’s tasks or adventures. I prefer the adventures but lately we have been focusing on the task of ensuring our CRV is ready to be towed behind the motorhome for our future travels. Having finally gotten the remaining parts for the tow bar system all we have left to do is hook up our brake light diode system.

I scoured the internet for advise, assistance, and hopefully photo details or a video on how to do install the diodes and came up with very little. I 100_4322do have a plan on how to do it and spent the good part of a recent day snaking the wire from the front of the CRV to the back and up to the taillights only to discover I would need two additional diodes and one more adapter to complete the task.

Our day usually includes us getting in a good walk or bike ride in the beautiful settings here in the Pinehurst and Aberdeen areas. A recent bike around around the City Reservoir park in Southern Pines was absolutely delightful and a recommended place to visit if in the area. Some days we visit a local brewery called the Railhouse Brewery for a cold freshly crafted beer – today’s was a Brown Ale that was wonderful. This is a Road Treat that you must visit. Click on the link to read more about the brewery in my other blog - Road Treats!

100_4312The day usually concludes with us preparing dinner in the RV and sharing a glass or wine and candlelight and conversing about how lucky we are to have been able to retire early. Sharon has even begun to master cooking bread in the convection microwave. Lastly, we fire up the generator at dark to shower, watch a bit of TV, and to recharge the batteries for the night and look forward to the next day. Life is rough…

P.S. We were spared from all the destruction that occurred in North Carolina… Our hearts go out to those who lost life and or property in this disaster…

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day trip to Wilmington NC…

100_4486With senior day consuming a lot of our time it was decided we should do something for fun. So we hooked up with a couple of the parents of another senior at Campbell University and set our sights on a visit to the coastal town of Wilmington. We knew it was still a bit cold for any quality beach time but we thought just visiting the historic downtown area would be just what the doctor ordered.

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We drove about an hour and ten minutes over to Dunn, NC to meet our friends who were going to drive the rental they had down to Wilmington. The drive was uneventful and after another hour and a half we were there. What seemed to be a 100_4474great day to head to Wilmington almost turned out to be a disaster… the Azalea Festival was going to start the day we headed down to Wilmington with a projected crowd of 300,000 to visit over the coming four days… WOW that is a lot of people! Not being a crowds kind of person I was glad we were early in the day.

We got there early enough that they were still setting up many booths and multiple stages for musicians that would be entertaining the crowd later that evening. There was going to be lots of vendors and activities for the crowd. They had a replica of an old 1880’s sailing ship that a tour was being given on and a coast guard ship as well. The coast guard ship had some interesting decals on the side, one of which I guessed was busting drug smugglers but the other I had no clue… Look at the picture below closely at the decals… Do you know what the other one is for?100_4475

We decided to do a tour of the older homes in the downtown area. It was really interesting to hear all the history this area had to offer. When we have more time to visit we will definitely return to the Wilmington area for a more lengthy stay in the future. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Senior Day…

100_4493100_4489Saturday was Senior Day at the Campbell University softball field where 7 senior softball players were going to be honored along with their parents before the first game of a double header. I have been to three of these before this one… so what made this one different? My daughter was going to be one of the seniors honored on the field that day… where did the time go?

100_4487The year was 1989 and my wife gave birth to a baby girl eight years after we had our first child, our son, eight years earlier. We didn’t know what to expect when she was born… what would she be like? what would she become? what kind of person would she grow up to be? But here we were in 2011 on a damp and cold April day looking out over a softball field knowing the answers to most of those questions.

100_4496When my daughter was 5 she asked Santa to bring her a lot of presents at Christmas. What did she want? A basketball, a baseball and glove, a golf set, a soccer ball, and a badminton set. I went to the local sporting goods store to buy all of the above items only to have the following dialogue with  the cashier…

“Buying Christmas presents?” 

Me: “Yes”

“Your son is going to really like all this stuff.”

Me: “Yes, SHE sure is.”

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And so here we are many years later to today, April 9, 2011, to watch her for one of the last times playing her favorite sport softball… Along with six of her classmates all sharing a similar fate. It was a joyous occasion… it was a sad occasion… there was laughter, there were tears… There was on the day a finality of it all… a sport these ladies loved to play was coming to a close. There would soon be no more softball for them after playing it for the last 15 years for many of them. For us parents it was the same… we had watched them play for 15 years, had watched them grow, develop, and mature in their beloved sport. We had made many friends in this softball world and it too was ending for us… What will they do next year during softball season?

What will we do…?