Sunday, May 29, 2011

Last minute work around…

newspotAs the blogger wisdom suggested “things will work out” and that we would find something… Well, guess what? …the wisdom of the bloggers prevailed! On the day before we were going to move to a rather rough looking RV park some 30 miles away there was a knock at our door at 9:30 pm…

Park Ranger “Just wanted to let you know the lady down the way who has 10 sites reserved just told me you could have site 13 if you can fit into it tomorrow and the next day”

Me “What? Wow? Fantastic? Great!!!! Tomorrow morning I will look it over and see if we can get into it!”

So he gives me the ladies name and site number so I can say thanks and we will offer to pay her for the site she prepaid for but didn’t get to cancel in time for a refund.

The next morning rolls around and I go over at the crack of dawn to take a look at it and boy, it does look tight… Yikes! SOOOOooooo I devised a plan of attack and used all of my RV driving skills I acquired over these last three ;) months and was able to pull off the impossible (for me anyhow)… so now we are in site 13 with one slide about 18 inches from a tree and on the other side we are too close to put our awning out … but what a fantastic spot we lucked out into.

Only 30 amps and tight as well as the noisy memorial day weekend campers to cope with… how lucky were we???… ahhhh life is grand!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spartanburg SC… music!

The city of Spartanburg like so many others has an event in the downtown area where they have music on one night of the week in order to allow the downtown merchants to be visited or discovered. Many towns do this as part of a downtown revitalization effort with varying degrees of success. Spartanburg has music on two nights and from what we saw they appeared to be successful.

dennys   festival banner   crowd 2

Thursday nights is scheduled for “Music on the Main” and Friday night’s will features “Jazz on the Square”. So we decided before we left we should visit these two events to redneck cheeseburgersee what was shaking in downtown Spartanburg.

So on Thursday we went downtown and got there a bit early with the intent of trying Spartanburg’s claim as having the number one rated cheeseburger in South Carolina according to the food network. As recommended we ordered the “redneck cheeseburger” while visiting the Nu-Way Lounge & Restaurant. The place itself is nothing to write home about as it is a typical “dive bar” with smoke stained walls and bowed ceiling tiles but it did have a interesting mix of people. We met a couple of the regulars who filled us in on the history of the place including the story about food network being there and about Julia Roberts being there while filming a movie in Spartanburg.

crowd 3The redneck cheeseburger to us was much of the same as the bar… nothing to write home about. But after the cheeseburger and a few cold drinks we headed to “music on the main” which had already started and a lively band was playing some classic Motown hits. The crowd was late arriving but once they were there the dancing in the streets commenced. The band was pretty good and had a good variety of music to appeal to many of the age groups present.

With the severe weather we had last night we headed over to the blue grass festival to check out the field that our RV was to park in tomorrow. It rained most of the night and morning so when we got there we were not surprised to see a field that I was not going to park my RV in… so back to the drawing board on where we will stay for this weekend… sigh….

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Time for multiple moves around the holiday…

5-19-2011 Spartanburg sc 577Well today was the day we were to move across the street to another site. I was pretty sure it was not level enough for our rig but the ranger said we should try it and if it worked we could stay there till after the weekend. However, if it didn’t work we only had two more days guaranteed.

So this morning we packed up the stuff and got ready for the the 100 foot move… lot of stuff to do before a move whether it be 100 feet or 100 miles. Once we had everything stowed and tied down we made the move across the way and gave it the good old “college try” and guess what? We got level… but we could either be level with no hookups or we could be unlevelled with hookups. Sigh…. Like the turtle we saw laying her eggs in the middle of the trail the spot you are at is not always the best one for you…

5-19-2011 Spartanburg sc 580So we packed it all up again and made a move over to another loop where we had a two day reservation till Saturday morning. Then we were on our own for Saturday and Sunday so we started to look for other plans for places to stay until our appointment in Gaffney. Everything in the local area is booked.

It reminded me of a recent walk when my bride was walking down a path with tall trees along the sides and we were headed to what appeared was a dead end, but at the end there was a beautiful piece of art at the end of the trail. Then while surfing the internet for things to do I found a place to stay for Saturday that would be a real hoot and holler then all that would leave us is Sunday night accomodations… Sunday night - hello Wal-Mart !

So Saturday we will head over to the Plum Hollow Alternative Bluegrass Festival about forty miles from here. So what is it? From the picture below in Spartanburg Magazine and their website it says it all…

barney“Since the transition of claw hammer to the finger picks, bluegrass has gone through many exciting changes. This Festival is dedicated to the innovations made by creative artists breaking new ground with an old music.

New Grass, Grunge Grass, Jazz Grass, Bluegrass Rock & Roll (and other grassy pastures not yet discovered) are all a part of Alternative Bluegrass. Our goal (besides having a great party) is to also bring together the music industry in our region (VA, TN, SC, NC, GA) to showcase this new format of music to Music Buyers, Radio Stations, Record Labels and other industry related groups.”

I called the organizer and she said no problem for boondocking our 37 foot rig on the farm. So we have a date to listen to some alternative blue grass music in the foothills of the smokies… Maybe if we stay up late enough and have enough adult beverages (moonshine?) on Saturday night our Sunday night in Wal-Mart may not be so bad…

baby geeseLooks like mother earth has taken care of us for the weekend…

Monday, May 23, 2011

Recipes and other cooking thoughts…

I have mentioned a few meals we have prepared while on the road and have had a few requests from some of you for our recipes that we use. The only problem I have with this is that I really don’t use many recipes but I have guidelines that I use to make the meals we like. The first recipe I am going to share is our Tuna smothered in a zesty mushroom sauce. This is one of our favorites but there really isn't a set recipe - more a list of ingredients. Then depending on how much you like some of the ingredients and how thick or thin the sauce is you can modify the ingredients to make it just right for you. 100_5025

Other recipes we have are works in progress as we learn to use our convection/microwave oven. We have been working on recipes for a lot of bread products such as bagels, home made pizzas, focaccia bread etc..

One of the biggest challenges we initially had was finding the right sized pan that would fit in the oven and still provide a large enough surface area so we could have a decent amount of food… most of the commercial pans we found were too small. But then I had a eureka moment, as the 13x9 pan we were about to throw away since it was a wee too bit big, just needed some tweaking to be the perfect RV convection oven pan. So I got a rag and some vise grips and slowly bent upwards the lip on each end of the 13 inch side. Then with some subtle bangs with a rubber mallet I had it…

bagels in covection ovenViola the perfect convection oven bread/pizza/cookie pan… Give it try and see if this works for you as perfectly as it did for us…

The next recipe I will post will be for the bagels since several of you have asked for it as well. Note how the edges of the above pan were bent upwards to square up the pan and thus shorten it enough for the convection oven in our RV.

Now as far as the recipes go I think I will post them on the other blog called Road Treats since they seem to fit better there than here… what do you think? Should I post recipes here on this blog or on my sister blog?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Staying put for another week or so…

Tom Moore Craig Lake in Croft State ParkWe had some maintenance issues with our emergency flashers and cruise control (both don’t work at all) and some intermittent problems with our turn signals. So we went over to Camping World to have them fixed along with letting them finish up the wiring for our toad’s lights. So we had planned to leave Croft State Park here in SC on the 24th but after talking with the Camper’s World service manager I was a bit leery they could really fix everything since they had just informed me they just hired a mechanic.

So after we had made a service appointment with them and after a lot of me worrying about their new mechanic they just hired I called the freightliner service center in Gaffney, SC. After talking with their service center they said they could fix me up and I could get in as early as June 6th… “What"?” I said… “Nothing earlier?” The answer was a resounding no, so here we are in Croft State Park scrambling to find places to stay between now and then. Not so easy with memorial day weekend in the middle of this stay. So for now it looks like we will stay put here until Saturday of memorial day weekend and hope that the friendly park ranger can squeeze us in for the remainder of time we need to wait till our appointment… otherwise it will be hello Wal-Mart parking lot for the memorial day weekend.

5-19-11 Croft State Park and Greeenville SC 007    5-19-11 Croft State Park and Greeenville SC 021

We are also starting to plan where we will head after the service appointment on June 6th in Gaffney. Our thoughts are we will head north looking for a place near the D.C. area for a couple of weeks and a spot near the Boston area for about a month or so, then over to New York area for a few weeks. So now we just have to figure out the details of where we will stay along the way and for our extended stays. Any of you worldly travelers have any tips or suggestions for us?

5-19-11 Croft State Park and Greeenville SC 005

In the meantime I guess I will just have to do a little more fishing and we may do some more biking and hiking… build a few more fires and cook a few more meals…

We will enjoy our additional time here but we will remain vigilant and always keep an sharp eye out for the dreaded Lake Tom Moore Craig monster… … could this be him????? ------>

Monday, May 16, 2011

Softball is over… time to RV down…

Her Last at BatWith my daughter’s team losing their second game of the double elimination ASUN tournament it marked the end of 17 years of watching her play softball and marked the beginning of our full timing adventure without softball. When the final out was called by the blue… it was a Sam Peckinpah moment with time being ever so distorted with the surreal ending of it all in sight…

It's really all over...Although the tears of the seniors flowed when the final out sounded it was now obvious that this was the time for all of us to turn the page and begin the next chapter of our lives. My daughter had a great performance in the ASUN tournament batting .400 with two walks and an RBI but more importantly her stellar career at Campbell included earning a fabulous education in her seemingly short four years… She ended this chapter of her life at Campbell University with a career batting average of .320 and owns the career record for walks for anyone donning the Campbell uniform at the university. Her name shows up in many of the career top ten statistics for players at her school so for years to come she will be able to relish her moments of her time at Campbell University.

So what could be better than all this? She did all this while playing nearly every inning of every game of softball that was played while she was a student there and she was able to complete her college degree in four years. What is even better is she did all this and remained debt free since she was able to obtain a full scholarship to go to school (a combination of athletic and academic monies). I saved the best for last…

The Senior Class...

Even though her career batting average was .320 her Grade Point Average was even better and that is an exceptional accomplishment while performing as a fulltime athlete and makes us both very proud of her. However, softball and Campbell for her and for us are now over and hopefully the next chapters of our lives will be as enriching as the were last four years.

slh at croft state parkIn the meantime, as her parents, our lives too must go on and as a result we are now beginning to enjoy our time by slowing down and enjoying each and every moment. So on our first full day after the softball season closed we stayed “home” in our RV and reminisced.. and took in the moment… baking freshly homemade “everything” bagels in our RV convection oven. While sitting in our chairs outside under the awning of our home listening to the squirrels quarrel with each other… the aroma of the fresh baked bagels washed the sadness away… Ahhhh yes, the next chapter looks like it will be wonderful…

bagels in covection oven

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Taking the good with the bad…

Croft State Park -Spartanburg SC 002        Croft State Park -Spartanburg SC 017

Well it was with bittersweet feelings that we departed our spot in Aberdeen as we truly enjoyed the hospitality we received there but it was time for us to move on to our our next adventure… So as the sun rose on Tuesday morning we broke camp, stowed the gear and finished out our departure checklist so we could hit the road.

Croft State Park -Spartanburg SC 003Croft State Park -Spartanburg SC 011

Before hitting the road we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast at a place we had been told about by a local – Kenny’s! We stopped by Kenny’s of Pinebluff, NC once before for a to go lunch which was fabulous. This place is one of those Road Treats and if in the area you need to check it out…

Croft State Park -Spartanburg SC 010     

We hit the road at about 10:00 a.m. and had an uneventful drive (my favorite kind) over to Spartanburg, SC. However, driving through Spartanburg can be a bit hair raising so if you ever travel through this town stay out of the far right hand lane when in town as they planted a lot of telephone poles and signs only inches off the curbside along the narrow lanes… Yikes! Thought I was going to lose a mirror more than once…

Croft State Park -Spartanburg SC 004

We checked into Croft State Park at about 2:00 p.m. and were leveled up and ready to enjoy life shortly after. Our first few days here at the state park started out a bit rough as high winds that were accompanied by a severe thunderstorm stormed through the area our first night here and managed to take out the electrical power in the park. So after boondocking nearly eight weeks here we were in a full service site boondocking again… Sigh!!! We finally got power restored late yesterday so we are much happier now as it has been a while since we have been fully powered up in this rig.

Croft State Park -Spartanburg SC 007

We came to Spartanburg, SC to watch our daughter play in her last softball games as their team competes in the Atlantic Sun Softball Tournament. They got off to a rocky start losing their first game but they won the first elimination game and will play another one today. After they finish we sill stay in the area to relax before beginning our trek going north. I better get busy planning that route as it includes labor day weekend…

Monday, May 9, 2011

Getting ready to leave and pondering…

100_4627We have been in the Pinehurst/Aberdeen area for two months, about a month longer than we plan to stay anywhere else we may travel in the future. When we first set out on this RV journey one of the things we wanted to accomplish over the long haul was to keep our eye out for places that we may call our home in the future when we no longer want to RV our way around the land.

Before we decided to purchase an RV and travel the land we were contemplating retiring in a sticks and bricks somewhere other than where we were in Texas. Where this would be depended on a lot of things but first and foremost it had to be somewhere that we really liked and had a lot to offer. Well what we found here in North Carolina in the Pinehurst/Aberdeen/Southern Pines area was a place that we could live in the future.

100_4630   100_4625

Why would we consider this place?

  • lots of activity in this area – festivals, live music, horses
  • a really pretty part of the USA with mature long leaf pines and mixed hardwood forests
  • affordable although taxes are a bit higher than desired
  • good medical facilities
  • very friendly people

So this area was originally on our itinerary as just a layover to watch the daughter’s last season of softball yet it may well end up being our future home. But then again the next place we go to may be even better… That is why we chose to see the land this way…

100_4622  100_4621

So today it is off to watch the softball games we thought were going to be cancelled but that were rescheduled after all.  Then tomorrow we will leave Aberdeen and set out sights on Spartanburg South Carolina to stay for a couple of weeks and watch our daughter's last ASUN tournament.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Answers to questions about boondocking…

100_4611I will try to answer some questions from my last blog as it seemed to pique some interest in our long boondocking experience we have had here in the Pinehurst area.

What did we do with our grey and black water? Well the land we are staying at has a large septic system that the owner has graciously allowed us to dump in. We seem to be able to last about 10-12 days before needing to dump the grey and black tanks. It is a bit of a chore since I am able to pull into the backyard area to dump but have to back out amongst the pine trees and the fencing to get back out. A side benefit is that my backing up skills have improved dramatically and I actually look forward to parking in my first back in site.

Our holding capacity is as follows:

  • Size of grey water tanks - 84 gallons
  • Size of black water tanks - 45 gallons
  • Size of fresh water tanks – 52 gallons

100_4615Our biggest challenge is the use of fresh water so we don’t overfill the grey tank before we need to dump the black tank. We do have unlimited fresh water since we are tapped into the homeowners house for fresh water,

What size propane tank do we have and how often do we need to fill it? Our propane is 31.3 gallons and we have to fill it a bit over once every 30 days. We figure our boondocking costs in propane are just under $3.00 per day. By the way I also think our diesel costs are the same as propane for running the generator about an hour at a time twice a day. Adding this up means we are spending at least $6.00 per day to boondock… although our actual costs are higher since when it too warm, we occasional head over to one of the local taverns for a cold frosty beverage.

100_4613Lastly we were asked about internet and we are currently using one of three means for internet. One we both have droid phones so much of our internet use is on these devices. The bride even watches “her shows” on her droid X. I also watched the men's final four in basketball on my thunderbolt. Also, we have tried the tethering feature that is currently free (until May 15th) by Verizon – the jury is still out on this as a viable means of internet use. Third, we also are able to tap into local unsecured internet in the area we are staying.

We started out with no internet or TV service and we have not been too bothered by not having either. We do have unlimited internet on our droid devices though. So until we are really bothered by it all we will try and continue doing without both of those services. Besides the local taverns also have TV’s…

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wow has it been two months…

071So here we are still in the Aberdeen-Pinehurst area and we are still boondocking in the front of a friend's five acre tract. We only planned to stay here a couple of weeks but we have been here 6 weeks and are going on seven. I am worried we have overstayed our welcome but our friend doesn’t share that thought it seems. What have we learned in these last two months?

  • driving a motorhome isn’t as hard as it sounds
  • living with the person you love 24/7 isn’t as tough as it sounds
  • boondocking isn’t as bad as it sounds
  • keeping within budget is harder than it sounds ;)

031So we have been at this for two months and although we blew through the budget the first month we got a lot closer the second month. You would think that when you boondock you save a lot of money but with propane and diesel at $4.00 plus per gallon even boondocking isn’t cheap if you have a four door fridge sucking down propane and only two 12 volt batteries to boondock with requiring at least two hours of generator time a day. But the second month was close to budget. So the moral of this story for future full timers is to plan on the first month to cost about twice what each successive month would cost.

049We just filled with propane today and got about 50 bucks worth of diesel to get us through the week since we leave for South Carolina next Tuesday. Why only 50 bucks worth you may ask? Well, it is only 140 miles to get to South Carolina and diesel is at least twenty cents a gallon cheaper there than here in North Carolina. Not much of a difference but when you buy 80 gallons it adds up so we plan to refill just across the border…

Gotta save those nickels and dimes where you can… because we are starting to get that hitch itch that we have heard about…