Monday, September 24, 2018

Enjoying a Stroll in the Duke Gardens NC…


It sure has been great to see the sun again after Hurricane Florence held us hostage in the RV for nearly a week without a lot of outdoor activity. We did sneak in a few rounds of disc golf and visited a few breweries or tap houses but it was pretty dismal while the storm was raging in the area. Now that the sun has returned we free to resume normal activity. The people who stayed in Wilmington are not so lucky as they are pretty much cut off from the rest of the state because of extreme flooding. 

imageimageOne of our first outings was a trip to a place we always make a point to visit in nearby Chapel Hill NC, the Duke Botanical Gardens. We definitely feel Duke Gardens is a must visit locale. The gardens are a part of Duke University and are free to visitors but may require paid parking. We were lucky to score a free parking space and walked to the gardens to enjoy them.


While there are many attractions in the gardens my favorite is the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants which is home to over 900 species of regional native plants. With many of the plants donning a name placard telling what the plant is it is a great way to learn a few new plants. Sharon’s favorite garden is the Asiatic Arboretum. She loves the red Asian Inspired red bridge featured there but unfortunately it was under repair during this visit.


One thing we also love doing after touring the gardens is drive over to nearby Carrboro NC and visit the Co-op there called Weaver Street Market. We like to buy food and adult beverages then take them to a table out front under the large oak trees to consume. This is a favorite spot of ours ever since we first discovered it back when Katie played collegiate softball in the area. It is a very pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by. It is definitely a place that brings back good memories for us.


We also snuck in a visit to a Raleigh Brewery called Crank Arm where we tried a flight of beers. We weren’t too impressed with eastern NC beers last time we visited this area but there are a lot of new breweries and happily they are starting to make some nice and tasty brews.

We will remain in Raleigh until after Katie and Brooks’ wedding in mid-October and we are taking the time to take care of Sharon’s yearly medical appointments and beginning to make plans for our travel route for our return to our favorite winter destination on the east coast, Bonita Springs Florida… hopefully the hurricanes will stay away the rest of this year!

NOTE: We are now at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds again as we wait for other parks in the area to reopen…

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hurricane Florence has passed through and all is well…


Now that Hurricane Florence has passed, it left a ton of flooding here in the state of North Carolina. I also realized I had better catch up the blog! We ended up staying in Raleigh at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds instead of moving anywhere else. Why? Well as we watched the hurricane’s projected paths I had ruled out my initial thought of heading near Pinehurst and then eliminated my next plan of going to Charlotte NC. I did consider moving north into Virginia but eventually decided it was best to “hunker down” and simply stay put.


We were able to sneak in a few days of disc golf at a few different courses in the Triangle area in the days before the storm. In NC the towns of Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham are known as the the Triangle. Even though the storm was bringing occasional showers ahead of it we were able to squeeze in about three rounds of disc golf. We also used this time to prepare for the possibility of a power outage after the storm passed through this area.

As a result we went to the local grocery stores and stocked up on food and even though we were doing this a few days before the hurricane there was already not a lot of choice in the grocery stores. Water was the most sought after commodity but canned goods and food not needing cooking were also in demand. We bought stuff that we normally need since we knew we could fill our water tank (and we did) and that we had a nearly full tank of diesel to run our generator if needed. We would be in good shape if the power went out for over a week.


The day Florence made landfall it sat and moved very, very slowly as most of you know. As a result the area was getting pounded with rain, more so to our southeast than what we had here. There were places that got FEET of rain whereas we only got inches, about 8-9 in total. We did get some gusty winds up to 40+ MPH but we have had winds stronger than that in the southwestern USA deserts! Wasn’t much to do when the storm was passing through so we gave the RV a thorough inside cleaning including cleaning the front dashboard for the first time ever!


After the storm finally passed we added a few more days here at the fairgrounds since all of the NC state parks are closed until further notice. We plan to go back to Jordan Lake next. We did find one small area in our bedroom closet that showed signs of a water leak. We cleaned it up and after an additional 2+ inches of rain we didn’t see any more signs of water leaking in. I assume it must have been wind driven but I will inspect the end cap and will re-seal it in the near future as that is the only place I can think of that may have allowed rain to enter that part of our RV.

Today the sun is shining and we are very glad to be able to get out and enjoy some sunshine once again…

NOTE: We are now at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds again as we wait for other parks in the area to reopen…

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Last Days in Outer Banks and Running From Florence…

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We spent our last few days in the Outer Banks of North Carolina fully immersed in the beach life. Our mornings began with a walk, our weights workout, having lunch then driving over to different beaches where we would set up our Sport-Brella and chairs. While I would enjoy some surf fishing Sharon would either read, relax or walk the beach.

I didn’t have a whole lot of luck fishing but did catch a few blues and a skate. One blue was big enough to make us a nice snack for lunch! It was a soft textured fish like flounder but it was very tasty! Our plans were to continue fishing and sunning until the 17th but there is a hurricane which is pushing toward us and looking like it would change our plans.


The beach we chose on our last day we had all to ourselves and the only thing in sight was a beached sail boat. Perhaps an ominous prediction of things to come.  We assumed it had been beached since 2016 and was probably a casualty of a previous hurricane. Hopefully, people and their property will fare better in the Outer Banks this time around.

Sure enough the next day, when Monday rolled around this storm looked serious enough that we decided to head inland. We talked with the Park staff and they were pretty insistent that if we left now we wouldn’t get a refund. Well we pushed our case pretty hard and eventually we were assured we would indeed receive a refund. Crazy that we would only receive a refund if they think we should leave and not when we think we should leave for our safety!


We drove about four hours east to the North Carolina State University Fairgrounds since it is high and dry, not near any water and with very few trees should we decide to hunker down there while waiting for for the hurricane to pass. We paid day by day as we would evaluate all of the information provided by the National Weather Service with regard to the hurricane. I would analyze all the spaghetti diagrams depicting where computer models projected the hurricane would land and move on.


We thought we might leave for Charlotte NC on Wednesday but the path, direction and wind speeds all were modified a lot. As a result we decided we were better off here in Raleigh than in Charlotte as the storm was tracking further south. We learned from past experience about not moving too soon since the last time we were in this position we moved directly into the path of the hurricane and would have been better off where we were!


So here it is Thursday morning and Hurricane Florence is currently near the shore of Wilmington NC and still expected to slow and meander south. This is a very large storm so we are hoping the track stays as projected. We haven’t ruled out leaving and heading into Virginia but most likely will sit tight and let it pass. We are expected to have gusts up to 55 mph and rains of 5-7 inches. If that is the worst we encounter we will be very happy..

Everyday is adventure on this Road of Retirement!

NOTE: We are now at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds for a while keeping a close eye on Hurricane Florence…

Monday, September 10, 2018

Mini-Vacay to OBX (the Outer Banks of NC)…


Since we were going to be in the Raleigh NC area through the middle of October we decided to sneak off to the Outer Banks or OBX as native North Carolinians refer to it. It is more than four hours away but we were luckily enough to score a campsite in the Oregon Inlet Campground in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore for 13 nights. They recently brought electricity and water to this campground making it more appealing to us to spend a couple weeks in the waning summer heat.

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The drive over was uneventful (yes!) and we pulled into the campground where we were able to select the site we wanted from the ones available since visitors are unable to reserve a specific site at this park. The site itself is a bit on the small side but it lies amongst a series of dunes just behind the beach. A short walk over the dunes puts us right on the beach without having to drive anywhere.

I plan to purchase a 10 fishing license here while we are on the island to try my luck at a little surf fishing. Hopefully I will catch a few fish to pay for the ten day license ;). If not I am sure I will enjoy the experience nevertheless. The temperatures this time of year call for daytime highs in the mid to low 80’s and overnight lows in the mid 70’s so the A/C will be working hard to keep us cool in this no shade area.

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We walked over to the beach to stroll up and down the shoreline our first day moving slowly  to allow Sharon and her bad ankle time to enjoy it all without feeling rushed. She is anxiously awaiting for the healing process to end so she can get back to a more normal daily activity without limitations. The beach was nice and we noticed vehicles (4-wheel drive only) are allowed to drive on the beach so there were lots of folks set up on the beach either enjoying the sun and the surf or taking in some surf fishing from their trucks and jeeps.

After our walk we drove into Nags Head, a nearby town, and found a beach pier with a bar/restaurant called Fish Heads. It was lively and energetic as we sat at the bar and enjoyed a few craft beers. There was a daily happy hour special of 15 cent shrimp so we ordered up a batch of their small but tasty shrimp and chatted with others at the bar.


We did talk with a couple of ladies from Pennsylvania (Stacey and Candy) who were entertaining especially as we saw them walk down the pier to talk a couple of local fisherman into letting them use their rod and reels to pose as if they were fishing for pictures to show friends back home. The two fellows even pulled out a pompano fish from their cooler to let them pose with a fish as if they caught it… too funny…


What a couple of fun ladies these two best friends were and we were glad we chose a seat by them at the bar! I anticipate we will really enjoy this beach getaway unless Florence causes us to make a quick exit…..

Another great day here On the Road of Retirement…

NOTE: We are now at the Oregon Inlet Campground in the Outer Banks for a while keeping a close eye on the path of the hurricane and will be returning back to Raleigh NC next…

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Fun in Nature and Some Pre-Wedding Functions…

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When we first arrived in Raleigh we stayed at the Crosswinds Campground at Jordan Lake. It is a state park with no full hookup sites but plenty with 30 amp power and water in a very scenic setting. We have been to the Raleigh area many times as our daughter Katie went to college and then settled here. So we have reverted to doing all the things we like in the area.

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One of our favorite things to do is play disc golf  and happily there are lots of very nice disc golf courses within a 45 minute drive of us. One that we particularly like to play is near Pittsboro North Carolina called Rock Ridge. This course is wooded with tight fairways and many long holes. However it is in a very scenic park deep into the woods giving us a great hike as well as a challenging course so we love it.

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Also in nearby Pittsboro is Carolina Brewery which has a great Tuesday happy hour so we nearly always play the Rock Ridge disc golf course on Tuesdays and then go over for happy hour afterward. We will be in this area until mid-October other than a dozen days we will spend in the Outer Banks so we will be falling into a routine as we await Katie’s wedding in mid-October.

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Just after playing disc golf in some of our favorite courses Sharon suffered a sprained foot and ankle. Here is her account of the unfortunate event…

Oh gosh I really hate to admit that my accidental sprain came as a direct result of my own carelessness. I wanted to adjust the tv antennae and climbed up on an ottoman which is unstable I know, but did it anyway.  Stepping backward too quickly off of it my foot awkwardly hit the base and I rolled my foot/ ankle which made me fall down hard.  So hard that John heard it outside and came in to check on me.  I really did a number on it and am so mad at myself.  Thankfully John inspected it and determined I didn’t break anything and after icing it, Katie taped it while warning me it would take 2 to 4 weeks to heal.   Oh nooooooo……

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The weekend after Sharon’s fall we stayed the weekend with Katie and traveled to Smithfield for a couple of pre wedding festivities.  Brooks’ home Church in Smithfield hosted a morning wedding shower at the church.  Katie and Brooks were showered with a lot of love and gifts.  It was very much appreciated by the couple and a very nice shower indeed.

That night was a party at a friend of Brooks’ family who have a fabulous back yard designed for entertaining. With live music presented by the very entertaining one man band known as Adam Pitts, a nice spread of finger foods for the guests and all the beer and wine one could wish for,  this was one fun and grand event.

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We met so many wonderful people at the party and it was really fun getting to know some of the friends and family from the groom’s side of the aisle. There were several people at the party who also RV and of course we seemed to talk with them the most. The music Adam played was varied and had a little bit of something for everyone. It was great fun and sadly the evening ended while all the revelers had to part ways.

We spent the night at Brook’s parents house and enjoyed reconnecting with them and of course truly appreciated their hospitality. We all are looking forward to the big wedding day in October…

NOTE: We are now at the Oregon Inlet Campground in the Outer Banks for a while before returning back to Raleigh NC…