Sep 21 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway – Day Three

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The weather forecast was right. When we got up we checked the radar and saw that it was indeed going to rain all day. Rather than spend the day getting cold and wet, we just moved to the nicer hotel next door here in Wytheville, VA to spend the day and night. This place has an indoor pool and hot tub. Therefore, there is nothing to report except that all the water we got on us today was heated and chlorinated very nicely.

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Sep 20 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway – Day Two

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Another 200 mile day. It was way too long for our poor aching behinds. And we got rained on several times (again) – once was a down pour.

I know I’ve been disappointed that this parkway isn’t more like the Natchez Trace in TN/MS that we did a few years ago. There just aren’t the historical sites to stop and see like the NT.

We did stop at the Beringer Cabin, built in the late 1870′s, just before the deluge hit us. There is a main cabin, one for fruits, vegetables and meat, as well as a spring house. All you could see through the windows of the main house was Mrs. Beringer’s weaving loom.

For years I’ve been reading about linsey-woolsey in different books. Now I know what it is! It is a cloth woven from wool and linen (flax). Mrs. Beringer had to plan several months before someone in the household needed a new shirt, pants or dress in order to plant the flax, harvest it, prepare it for spinning as well as figuring the right time of year to shear the sheep for the wool into the equation. It is quite an involved process, literally taking months, to get from the first sprouts of flax to a final clothing product.

Mr. Beringer was a cobbler, making shoes for the immediate family as well as many friends and other family in the area. They grew all their own fruits and vegetables and slaughtered their own cows and pigs.

When the National Park Service bought their property to include in the Blue Ridge Parkway, a national park, Mrs. Beringer was granted a lifetime residency, in the 1940′s, to remain in their cabin. She soon tired of all the “noise” from visitors and moved in with her daughter.

Below the cabin is the spring house where a cool spring still runs. They would make several trips a day to bring the water to the main house for drinking and washing purposes. The buildings are located on the side of a hill, with gorgeous views out over the Smokies.

Shortly after leaving there we encountered the rainstorm we weren’t expecting. We had brought our “Frog Togs” (rain gear many motorcyclists use) with us, allowing us to continue riding in the rain. Fortunately it was a warm summer rain so, even though our feet and lower pant legs got wet, we weren’t too uncomfortable.

Our biggest concern was finding fuel. Richard starts looking for gas at about 150 to 175 miles on the odometer. We were at 199.1 when we finally found a gas station – the maximum he felt the scooter would go. It has a 4 gal. tank and we put 3.53 gal. in it – definitely cutting it pretty close. From there it was just a few miles from Wytheville, VA where spent the night.

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Sep 19 2013

Blue Ridge Parkwarkway – Day One

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Yes, we’re off on another adventure! We finally finished up all but a few small tasks with Darin and Diane’s new house and decided to reward ourselves. We have enjoyed our overnight scooter/motorcycle trips in the past, and decided to do another one. This one will be much longer than any of the previous ones. It will probably take more than a week.

We left Cleveland/Benton Tennessee where we have been staying for the past few months and rode east about 100 miles to Cherokee, NC, the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Even the trip to Cherokee was a beautiful ride. The trees and greenery, the hills, mountains and rivers combine to make this part of the country very beautiful.

The Parkway is 469 miles long and runs through North Carolina and Virginia. At the northern end of the Parkway we plan to transition to Skyline Drive which continues another 105 miles to a point only about 40 miles from Washington, DC.

The speed limit on the whole Parkway is only 45 MPH, but most of the time you can’t drive any faster anyway. The road lives up to its name. It indeed follows the ridge line of the mountains. Many times we found ourselves heading southwest instead of the overall direction of northeast. We climbed from about 2,000 feet to over 6,000 in short order, and there were many times we could see out both sides of the road to the valleys far below and the mountains marching off in the distance in both directions.

As we rode along we thought of Dale’s hike last year. His route paralleled our route for much of the way, but I suspect ours was much easier. I can’t imagine slogging this area on foot with a 35 pound pack on my back.

Unlike the Natchez Trace which we rode a couple years ago, the Blue Ridge Parkway does not have a lot of stops for anything except views. Not that many people lived right on the ridge of the mountains. Surprisingly we also found that many of the pullouts with signs for a view of some mountain or valley would only have been worthwhile in the winter when there were no leaves on the trees. It was impossible to see anything except the trees! Of course, not all the stops were like this, but in this part of the Parkway, at least 3 out of 4 were.

The weather forecast for Thursday and Friday was for a 30 percent chance of showers. Naturally that means that you have a 100 percent chance of getting wet, which we did. As neared the highest parts of the road south of Asheville, NC we found ourselves riding above the clouds, and then in them. Visibility dropped to 100 feet or so and a light rain began. It wasn’t bad, but we still stopped and put on our rain gear.

We encountered light showers one more time before we dropped into Asheville where we stopped for the night. It was a fun day with very pretty things to see. We’re looking forward to more to come, although the forecast is again for a 30 percent chance of rain tomorrow, followed by a 100 percent chance on Saturday.

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Jul 15 2013

The Tale of the Tail

Published by under 2013

It’s been a while since we had anything noteworthy to write about. We’ve been here in Tennesse near Darin, trying to stay dry and get over a nasty cold. It appears the worst of the rain is over (everyone say’s they’ve never seen so much rain this time of year) and I only have a small cough and plugged ears left from the cold. As a result, we decided it was time to enjoy some of the beautiful weather and countryside around us.

Last Friday we took a motorcycle ride. From where we are staying near Benton, TN we rode east about 40 miles to the Little Tennessee River where we turned south. After following the river for a while we began a section of US Highway 129 known as The Tail of the Dragon. In an 11 miles stretch there are 318 curves as you cross from Tennessee to North Carolina. It is considered the holy grail of motorcycle roads in the US.

Naturally, there are those who ride it as fast as they possibly can, and they account for the death statistics that grow every year. If you ride it like we did, observing the 30 MPH speed limit, it is a beautiful ride through some spectacular country. No one passed us on the entire route, but a couple bikes did pull over and let us go by. I will admit that I was going a little more than 30 MPH a few times.

At the southern end of the Dragon is the biggest motorcycle oriented tourist trap I have ever seen. There must have been 200-300 motorcycles parked in the lot, plus maybe 5 cars. We window shopped but couldn’t bring ourselves to pay from $22 to $25 for a T-shirt that said “I Rode the Dragon” or some such phrase.

We continued on, following much of a well know route called the Cherohala-Dragon 120 mile loop. This took us over the Cherohala Skyway, a road that follows the ridges in one of the highest and most remote and rugged sections of North Carolina-Tennessee. The road took 34 years to build, opening in 1996. The views were spectacular and the ride was every bit as good as the 11 miles of the Dragon. In fact, I enjoyed it much more because the curves were mostly sweepers instead of hairpins. The speed limit varied between 40 and 45, and I did a pretty good job of holding it down to that most of the time. We stopped at several of the pull outs and enjoyed the views. As we neared the highest point in the road the temperature dropped to 69 degrees. That was some nicer than the 87 degree weather at the lower elevations.

Rather than complete the whole loop as some folks do, after we were out of the mountains we took a different and more direct route back to Benton, stopping for dinner at a Mexican Restaurant in Etowah, TN. Trust me when I say, Tennesseans don’t know how to make Mexican food. At least it was filling.

It had been a while since we had a nice ride. This trip was only about 175 miles in total, but the scenery was spectacular and the ride was great fun. We’re looking forward to more rides if the weather continues to cooperate.

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Feb 27 2013

On Behalf of Mom

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My most excellent day began around 9:30 this morning and didn’t end until about 4:30 this afternoon. Due to a pricing change at CVAM (where they draw my blood to check my levels to determine if my coumadin dosage needs to be adjusted) I decided to go to a lab that was free and close my apt. After arriving on my scooter I was told that I couldn’t go there as I am in the “north unit” (whatever that means) and they were not. Dianna and I had made arrangements to work on genealogy together today so I had to call her and ask her to take me to different lab.

She arrived and got me to to the lab. It was a long wait there and I’ve decided that I’ll pay the $20 per visit and go back to CVAM. They don’t have to draw a whole vial of blood and the wait is almost non-existent.

When we returned home Dianna took her clothes up to the laundry room as it’s easier than having to haul water and run the generator for hours. The change machine didn’t like any of her six $5 bills so down she came to change one of them for five $1 bills of mine. I guess the machine just didn’t like $5 bills.

Later I noticed one of my hearing aids on the seat of my wheelchair with no silicone tip on the end. I put another one on and jammed it into my ear. BIG mistake. The other tip was still in my ear so I had just pushed it further in. The nurses were unavailable at the Square and my doctor is on vacation this week so off we went to Urgent Care to get it removed. It took a specialty tool with miniscule pinchers on the end to remove it. We were told they have to do that about two or three times a week! It was good to find out there are others who are about as bright as I am.

By then it was almost dinner time and with a Barro’s Pizza right next door to Urgent Care we decided we owed it to ourselves to have a slice before going home. Boy, did that taste good.

I had taken a Soma (relaxant) before going to Urgent Care and was feeling drowsy by the time we arrived back home. I sat down in my chair to finish my piece of pizza and Dianna set out to print some genealogy pages from the internet. The printer jammed and kept on jamming. After doing all the trouble shooting she knew how to she called Daryl. He didn’t know what else to suggest and will have to make a trip over, one of these days, to work on it. Richard attempted to do so when he arrived but couldn’t find the problem either. By now it was 4:45 and time for a nap. I’ve really earned one today!

(Pleasant dreams, Mom.)

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Dec 23 2012

Same Old Same Old

Published by under 2012

In an effort to forestall the anticipated “you haven’t posted anything in a while” comments, let me just say that it’s because there has been nothing of note to write about. We left Jacob Lake on 10/15 and drove to Mesa where we spent a month. We visited with Mom and the rest of the family and otherwise did nothing we haven’t done before. We have been there so much that finding new things to do and write about is difficult.

A month later on 11/15 we began our annual migration to Denton, TX for the holidays. It took about a week to get here but we are in the same RV park we always stay in while in the area. Dayna and Chris have rented out their house and moved into a very nice luxury apartment about 20 miles away, but this park is still convenient for access to things we need to do while here. Like many larger cities, the Dallas area has a limited number of reasonably priced RV parks, and this place is a bargain.

Since our arrival we have kept reasonably busy with Dr. appointments, vehicle inspections, visits with the kids and preparing for Christmas. The only project I have taken on was the replacement of our shower hardware with a nice residential type setup to replace the cheap RV type original equipment. I’ve also been fighting with the repair of our water heater which was damaged when the truck wash guys sprayed the high pressure washer into the electronics compartment. After replacing just about every component without success, we finally decided to replace the entire unit. It turns out that our unit is 16 years old and that parts will probably not be available in a couple more years.

We will be spending Christmas at Jennings of course, as well as New Years Eve. Dianna’s cousin Carrie is coming to visit us on the 27th. She and Dianna will make a girls only overnight trip to San Antonio to see the River Walk Christmas decorations, and to visit the Alamo. Carrie will be here until the 1st of Jan, and we will leave for Arizona on the 2nd.

Happy Holidays to all.

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Oct 11 2012

From the Desert to the Pines

Published by under 2012

We left Tulelake on the first of October and moved south to Fernley, NV for 3 nights. It is a small town east of Reno. It was still fairly warm there so we stayed in a nice RV park that offered 50% discounts to members of one of the RV clubs we belong to. While there we drove to Virginia City to play tourist.

Virginia City was the site of the Comstock silver discovery, and one of the richest deposits of silver ever found. It is typical of those mining towns that grew from nothing to 30,000 people almost overnight. When the silver played out around 1900, the town fell into disrepair as almost no one lived or visited there any more. That all changed when the TV show Bonanza became popular. It triggered a tourist explosion that was parlayed into a long term tourist destination that lasts to this day. The town has all the usual shops and historic buildings. We took a short narrated train ride that provided a lot of the history of the town, the mines and the people. All in all, Virginia City was one of the better Old West type tourist destinations we have visited.

From Fernley we headed south through Nevada, stopping overnight just off the highway south of Tonopah one night, and continuing on to Las Vegas. We spent just one night at Sam’s Town RV park. We drove the strip looking to see if there were any new hotels we had not seen, but eventually just went to the Venetian where we walked along the canal and watched the gondoliers. I guess times have been tough in Las Vegas because there is not a lot of new construction.

From Las Vegas we headed north and east through St. George and Hurricane Utah, then east toward Jacob Lake, AZ. We found a very nice spot in the forest about 3 miles east of Jacob Lake, and a mile off the highway on a forest road. We are in a large clearing with pine trees all around and a beautiful view out our back window. We are relying on our solar panels and generator for power, and have plenty of water for several days. Although our satellite provides both TV and internet access, we also have a good Verizon 3G signal that is faster than our satellite for internet.

In addition to the nice location and cooler weather, the primary draw of this location is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We drove the 40 miles down to the Canyon on Monday the 8th, and drove to Cape Royal and Point Imperial vista points. I greatly prefer the views and ambience of the North Rim to the South Rim. The canyon seems more spectaular and there are so many fewer people.

We returned to the Canyon last evening to have dinner at the Grand Canyon Lodge. We were seated at the window and had incredible views of the canyon in the hour before the sun set as we ate. After our meal we walked out to Bright Angel Point where we watched the sunset. It was a special evening. We considered it our 44th Anniversary dinner, and we also wanted to remember Dianna’s Mom on what would have been her 90th birthday.

The drive back to our spot in the forest was slow after dark. We must have seen over 100 deer along the highway, most of whom had no idea when it was safe to cross the road.

On the 15th of October, everything except for the visitor center closes for the season. The visitor center remains open until snow closes the road south of Jacob Lake, something that could happen at any time. The weather here has been very nice up till today. The highs have been in the upper 60′s to lower 70′s, and the overnight lows have been around freezing. Today rain moved in so we will not be doing much until it leaves the area tomorrow night. We are at 7,500 feet and don’t expect anything more than a chance of snow flurries, but at the higher elevations they might get a dusting or some accumulation. We certainly found cooler weather! Chances are we will move further south on Saturday.

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