Monday, May 25, 2015

Special Time with Katie...

Katie has a very busy schedule with her gymnastics and other activities, but Friday after school is a free day. Since Jackson had soccer practice last Friday I thought it would be great to spend some special time with Katie.

We went downtown and had dinner at Elijah's on the favorite Wilmington restaurant. Sitting on the deck by the river always makes me feel like I'm on vacation. Katie said she really likes it too.  This bird came and sat with us for a few minutes...

After dinner we walked along the river and Katie bought a postcard to send to Gwynnie, a friend she made at the KOA in March. We heard music and kept on walking towards it and stumbled upon the first Downtown Concert of the summer...a series of free concerts every Friday night during the summer. We enjoyed the music and Katie helped an older lady learn to take pictures with her new iPhone.

Then she spotted a vendor with interesting looking wares and discovered a solar lantern...that floats and has lights that change color! She was intrigued with it and spent at least fifteen minutes discussing it with the vendor. Grandpa Jack wandered over to see what had caught her interest and Katie is now the proud owner of the solar floating share with Jackson of course!

We had a wonderful evening and look forward to doing it again, as well as having some special time with Jackson.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Getting Settled for the Summer...

We're back in Wilmington at our "home base" the Wilmington KOA. We're spending the summer here, so we're getting settled. The longest we've stayed in one place since we started traveling is two months, so staying here for five months will be an adjustment.  Thinking I might get a few potted geraniums to put outside!

On our first night home, dinner was pizza from Brooklyn Pizza.  It's become a tradition for us!  We've also had dinner at The Fish House on the Intracoastal Waterway...I love eating out by the water.

Katie demonstrating her strength!
Of course, we've visited with Becca, Davis, Katie and Jackson but Katie and Jackson are still in school, so I haven't had as much time with them as I'd like. That will change in a few weeks when summer vacation starts.  Looking forward to babysitting and just visiting.

Hurricane season begins June 1st but we had an early visit from Tropical Storm Ana. Four straight days of rain and wind, but nothing damaging.

We'll have to be hyper -vigilant about the weather this summer. I would not want to ride out even a Category One hurricane in an RV...but that's why we have wheels under us!

I went with Becca to pick the kids up from school and we saw some geese with their babies beside the school. Had to take a photo for Jack...he loves geese!

What would RV life be without a problem? Jack has noticed some dripping from under the RV a few times, but then it disappears for a while. So, we've kind of just been watching it. Well, the other day Jack was emptying black tanks and the black tank to the half bath wouldn't open and drain. We're guessing a broken valve and hoping that maybe that is what's causing the intermittent drips we've seen too??? We'll find out. We have an appointment to take the fifth wheel in on June 3rd (the soonest opening they have). Not easy when you have to take your house into the shop! Fortunately, we have Becca nearby and can hang out at her house.

So begins our summer in Wilmington...stay tuned.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Greensboro...Old Cars, Old Friends and More Repairs (seriously?)

We stopped in Greensboro on our way from Asheville back to Wilmington. When we're towing the fifth wheel we prefer to keep our travels to around two hundred miles a day and Greensboro is ideally situated between's also an opportunity to visit one more time with my brothers.  One of the nice things about being schedules! We arrived at Greensboro Campground at two PM...plenty of time to set up and relax, or so we thought!

We had just gotten unhitched, auto-leveled and connected to utilities when Jack noticed something dripping. It was hydraulic fluid from our automatic leveling jacks, there was a leak in the line. We hitched the fifth wheel back up to the truck, raised the jacks and the leaking stopped. Jack tried patching it with electrical such luck. As soon as the front jacks were lowered the fluid started running like a faucet. Way too much pressure exerted to be controlled with a patch, so back up went the jacks and no leaking.  The only problem...without being able to lower the jacks we couldn't unhitch the fifth wheel from the truck. No transportation and no support under the fifth wheel except the tires and the truck. Not a good beginning to our stay.

I called my brother Glen who lives a few miles from the campground and he came over. He and Jack went out, bought more hydraulic fluid and looked into getting a new line...turns out it's special order. Ultimately, we found a mobile RV tech who ordered the hydraulic line and put in. The line took four days to arrive, our four day visit turned into five and we're $300 poorer. It sure was great to finally be able to put the jacks down the last night and not have to get seasick every time one of us walked through the RV!
Seen in a Greensboro parking lot...want!
Glen solved our transportation issue. I had given him my old '98 Honda Accord when we went full time. It has electrical issues and has to sit on a charger every night but still runs great. It has 160,000 miles on it and everything else works. He brought the car and his trickle charger over and we were set. Felt like old times running around in my old Honda. Still love that car and, if/when we come off the road, I want another one! Darryl's

As always, I loved seeing my brothers. Ken's schedule was busy and we only managed one Jason's Deli...but we'll have another visit when he comes to Wilmington in July. I don't know why Ken never seems to get in my photos...sorry, Ken!! :) I'll be sure to get lots of pics of Ken in July. We were able to have dinner with Glen and Joanna twice...Darryl's (which has become our place) and San Luis II. I also was able to finish putting together the photo book of their wedding that I am doing on Shutterfly as their wedding gift. It looks great!

Left to right:  Bev, Diane, Me, Jeannie, Mariam, Mary,
Cindy in front
(Diane & Jeanie are from after my time there)
I learned that some of my old co-workers from Cone Hospital were getting together for lunch while we were in Greensboro...perfect timing. It was so great seeing them after ten years! I also met two nurses who worked on my old unit after I left, one of whom also worked on my old floor at Wesley Long (going back 20 years now) and found we have some co-workers in common. It was fun hearing updates on them. Hope we can do it again sooner than another ten years!

Next stop, Wilmington...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Asheville, NC and a New Friend...

We decided to do a long weekend in Asheville, NC...I hadn't been there in fifteen years and Jack had never been...and it's a short drive from Pipestem, WV.

I didn't think it would be a particularly busy time but, apparently, I was wrong as most campgrounds that met our criteria were booked solid. I'd read a number of good reviews and recommendations for Mama Gertie's Hideaway Campground and they have sites in the $40 range, which is more than my budget likes but a good rate for the expensive Asheville area, so decided I'd give them a try. They had only two sites available, both mountain top, one for $55 and one for $70. I took a deep breath, said to myself "it's only money," and booked the $55 site.

We certainly did have a mountain top campsite and it felt like we were climbing a mountain to reach it. The truck pulling the fifth wheel needed to gather some momentum to make it up there and the staff person leading us to our site on a golf cart was moving a bit too slowly. I was afraid we were going to run him over trying to maintain our forward momentum!  Jack said he felt the wheels slip a little! The campground is nice and the views are beautiful but not so sure I'd spend that much again. 

To digress a a moment...I belong to a number of Facebook RV groups. I gather some good information there and occasionally make a few friends.  One evening while we were still in WV, I saw that one of my RV friends posted that she and her husband were heading to Asheville. I commented that we were too and we both said it would be nice if we could meet. Well, when she went to make her reservations she found campgrounds were mostly booked but did find Mama Gerties for $70. She said the same thing I did and booked the site. So...we were not only going to meet, we were going to be neighbors!

Bonnie and Kevin arrived Friday evening. We sat and talked for we'd been friends for years. We met up on Sunday at the Biltmore Estate and later went out for dinner, where we again talked non-stop. Vinnie's Neighborhood Italian was highly rated on Trip Advisor and rightly so. As an Italian girl from New York, I'm picky about my Italian food and theirs is good...not quite NY good, but good...and I had enough left to take home for another dinner. I'll definitely return next time I'm in Asheville. Loved meeting Bonnie and Kevin and hope our paths cross again before too long!

Asheville is a cool the t-shirt says: "If you're too weird for Asheville, you're too weird."

On Friday we visited Biltmore Village. We walked around the tree lined streets, checked out the shops and had a late lunch a the Cantina. the food was good...and quite pretty...and I loved sitting out on the patio watching Asheville go by.

Saturday we went downtown and wandered around and spent a good bit of time pouring through the aisles of Mast General Store. We had dinner at the Tupelo Honey Cafe...southern style food with a twist, good but a little on the pricey side.

On Sunday we had tickets for the Biltmore Estate. You should not visit the North Carolina mountains without seeing Biltmore at least once. I have been once before, fifteen years ago, but it was Jack's first visit. It's a country estate built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s. It took an entire community of workers six years to build...Biltmore Village was originally constructed to house the workers during this time. The house has 255 rooms, 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, a bowling alley, and a basement swimming pool. The library contains 10,000 books and there is a total of 23,000 books throughout the house...all original to the house. The house and gardens sit on thousands of acres and the views are amazing. Tickets are expensive, but worth it. No  inside picture taking allowed.

We really enjoyed our Asheville visit and hope to go back.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Take Me Home Country Roads...

Next stop after Greensboro was West Virginia and a long-awaited visit with Michael.

Pipestem Resort State Park is probably one of the nicest state parks in the country...large sites, including paved pull-thrus, full hook-ups, lots of trees, wildlife and quite a few amenities. We were able to enjoy it more this visit since it was opposed to our last visit when we encountered freezing temps that necessitated turning off the water and a little snow.

We had a great visit with Michael. I thought our time together was going to be limited due to a shooting competition Michael was competing in but, luckily for us, the competition was postponed so we had the entire weekend with him...which made me a happy Mom.

The weather was gorgeous on Saturday and we enjoyed hanging out at our campsite for a while...we wanted to take the Tram ride at Pipestem but we were about two weeks too early for the season opening, maybe next time. After that Michael took us on a tour of the area including Sandstone Falls and the Bluestone Damn. West Virginia has some  beautiful countryside. (Pictures at the end of this post.) We finished up the day with dinner at the Bluestone Dining Room at McKeever Lodge at Pipestem. The food was okay, prices reasonable and it was very convenient...especially since the nearest town is a fifteen mile drive.

We went to visit Michael and Dana my granddog ;) at his house on Sunday...a very rainy day. Michael cooked a wonderful dinner for us...pork roast, parmesean potatoes, mixed veggies, rolls, dessert. Jack also enjoyed playing with Michael's pinball machine!  I'm impressed with my son's cooking skills!

Unfortunately Michael had to go back to work on Monday, but we were able to meet for dinner a few times in Princeton.  Pipestem is about thirty miles from Bluefield, where Michael lives, but it's the only campground in the area that can accommodate our big rig. Princeton is about half way in between and makes a convenient meeting spot. I spent one day hibernating at home with some awful sinus problems which we attributed to the pollen.

When we first arrived at our campsite we discovered the sliding mirrored closet doors in our bathroom had come apart and off the track during our bumpy ride into the mountains. The piece that keeps the separate panels together just needed to be reattached...with screws rather than staples (why did they use staples???) which was an easy enough fix for Jack. Getting it back into the track proved a bit more difficult as the piece that fits into the track was broken. While Jack and I sat in the sunshine discussing where to get a replacement piece and how to secure the doors until we got it, I noticed Michael was busy on his phone. Within a few minutes he'd found the part, ordered it and Amazon Prime would have it to his house in two days! The part came as promised, Jack got the doors fixed and we were able to hit the road with one less worry. Thanks, Michael!


We were there for six days but it went by in a flash and the time to say good bye came all too quickly for me.