Archive for the ‘North Carolina’ Category

After a brief intermission, I’m back!

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

The past 6 weeks has been full of family time, travel, celebrating, playing lots of games and lrelaxing from our everyday lives.  We arrived in Whiteville, NC to spend a week with Paul’s sister Nancy just before Thanksgiving and had a great time with 4 of Paul’s siblings and a bunch of nephews.  Thanksgiving dinner was the usual fare, with the usual overstuffing ourselves!  We had turkey for several days.

 

Family outing to Myrtle Beach and Goodwill shopping!

Family outing to Myrtle Beach and Goodwill shopping!

 

After Thanksgiving, we moved to Paul’s brother, Stephen’s house where we parked the rig for the month of December.  Stephen lives next door to Carol, another sibling who has 3 kids, 3 spouses and 3 grandchildren.  We had a great two weeks hanging with them, along with another Thanksgiving dinner with lots more turkey which we ate for 3 or 4 more days and then it was time to hop on a plane and head to California!

We left Duke with Carol, who was very nervous that something would happen and Paul would be devastated.   We went to California for 2 weeks where we had a wonderful time with our girls.  Our first night in town, we were invited to join Stephanie’s company for dinner at Kyoto Palace.  That was a great surprise, with a wonderful dinner and getting to meet her coworkers.    Also, we bought a new car on Thursday between dentist appointments –  that was interesting.  Paul is not much for car salesmen, so he went to the dealer told them what he wanted, they had 1, came and picked me up, said you get to decide. The only choice is Yes or No!  It’s a very nice CRV, Honda and will replace our red HHR that was damaged by hail this year.  We can’t drive it until we return to CA in May but that is ok.

We made a quick trip to my parents the weekend before Christmas and enjoyed another family get together with my neices and nephews.  My sister flew in on Sunday so we got a couple of hours of visiting before we left on Monday..  Back home on Monday,  preparing for the festivities while Paul and Stephanie rebuild her closet.

Amy, Chasity, Stephanie, Nichole, Sanna, Stephen, Andy and Briana

Amy, Chasity, Stephanie, Nichole, Sanna, Stephen, Andy and Briana

Several were missing and more arrived after the photo!

Christmas Eve we were invited to my friend Diana’s moms place for a feast that was amazing; ravoli, salad, sausage, bread, prime rib, mushrooms, string beans, and yorkshire pudding.  Wait, then there is appetizers and dessert!  WOW!  From there we stopped by to see our old neighbors, Barb and Brian along with their daughter Terese.  Then it was a few lights in Willow Glen and home to get to bed and be ready for the big day!

Christmas morning was very relaxing as we opened gifts, shared how we came to our decisions of what we purchased and then enjoyed a breakfast before Amy and Nick had to depart for his moms house!  The rest of the day was spent lazing around, making another meal and setting up some of the Christmas gifts!  Paul and Stephanie continued to work on her closet which they finished by Tuesday evening before we left on Wednesday.

The day after Christmas we went on a tour of LEVI stadium with the girls, and Nick’s family.  That was our gift from Amy and Nick.

A beautiful day and a wonderful tour.  LEVI Stadium is beautiful.

A beautiful day and a wonderful tour. LEVI Stadium is beautiful.

The tour included the museum, locker rooms including the cheerleaders locker room, some of the club spaces, the press boxes and a roof top patio area.

The view from the rooftop patio.  You can rent the whole thing (25 people)  but it is mostly standing room with a great view of the stadium and the valley.

The view from the rooftop patio. You can rent the whole thing (25 people) but it is mostly standing room with a great view of the stadium and the valley.

Thats a long way down to the field!  I don’t think you would really see much of the game without checking the huge screens they have at each end of the stadium.

Some of the players in the museum

Some of the players in the museum

Aren't they cute!

Aren’t they cute!

The stadium is very nice.  I wonder if we will ever be able to afford to enjoy a game there?

Sunday we met Amy, Nick and Nick’s dad, David and his wife Linda at the winery where the big event will take place in June.  Kirigin  Cellars will be such a beautiful setting to enjoy watching Amy become Mrs. Amy Carpenter.  After a little wine tasting and a tour of the winery Paul and I headed to Roseville to see our friends Tony and Janet and their new home in Roseville.  They just bought a home in a Del Webb community and we were very excited to see them and the resort.  It is beautiful.  Paul and I will very much like to live somewhere like this after we get done running around the country.   Another fun few days and then it was back to San Jose.

Tuesday we headed to San Jose with a stop in Stockton for Paul to check in with the RV dealer and I got to spend a couple of hours and breakfast with Luanne.  We had a great time catching up.  It was too short but time was running out.

Wednesday at 5 am Stephanie dropped us off and San Jose International Airport and we headed back to North Carolina to see our baby!  Duke was very happy to see that we returned although we could tell he had taken to his new home!  It was so nice to get back to our own bed.  We were in bed by 11 pm and missed ringing in the New Year although we were briefly woken by Duke at 12:15 am as he was not very happy with the fireworks that were going off in the neighborhood.

Tomorrow, Sunday we will hitch up the car, pull in the slides raise the jacks and point this family towards Florida for some sunshine and hopefully less food!

Happy New Year everyone!

 

Are you kidding me?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Living in an RV does have its challlenges and RVs are not made for extreme temperatures at all!  Unless you are in the Southern part of the country you are dealing with cold.  We are enjoying our share of below normal temps, bundling up to take the dog for a walk, enjoying the sites from indoors, etc.   But this morning I woke up before 6 am to a very cold home!  We have two electric heaters but chose to use the furnace so that the whole home, including the pipes underneath would not freeze.  But the furnace quit sometime during the night.  Paul got up to check things and wouldn’t tell me what the temp was!  We were cozy in bed with a nice down comforter but getting up was brutal.  We had plenty of propane but we had it checked anyway.  We packed the RV up, drove up the hill to the propane tank and had it checked.  Whala, the heat works!  They topped off our propane and determined the regulator had frozen up!  Are you kiddin?! We need to get south and stay there!!!

You couldn’t do this living in one place!

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

The Blueridge Parkway was closed again today as they had some snow overnight.  Beautiful country, very cold.  Finding our way around we made it to Linville Falls thinking we would do a little hiking.  We only made it the 1/2 mile to the falls.  The temps in the shade were crazy cold and Paul didn’t bring a jacket!!!

Not large, but very pretty

Not large, but very pretty

The gorge beyond the falls

The gorge beyond the falls

The area is beautiful and I wish we could get out more but we will do what we can while we are here.

Howard and Linda from RV-Dreams whose blog I have been following since before we went off on this adventure, are staying in the same campground as us.  We had met them the first time in Yellowstone and this week we had dinner, played some cards and took the Ultimate Food Tours in Black Mountain with them on Saturday.  Black Mountain is a cute walking village just east of Asheville, NC and very quaint.  The food tour was amazing.  We visited 5 different food establishments and enjoyed everything from  gourmet appetizers to amazing chicken pot pie from a bakery to pub food and perfect dessert along with champagne, wine, beer, all for $40 per person.  My favorite spot was Louise’s Kitchen where they served us Grit Cakes!  I had to ask what he was serving and of course everyone knew I wasn’t from these parts!  I do know what grits are, Paul loves them and once I ordered them with Shrimp which was very good.  These grit cakes were black bean corn grits topped with Siracho sauce & pico de gallo.  They were so spicy good I wanted more!

What would you do if you had an endless supply of money?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Ever wonder what it would be like to have endless amounts of money?  I don’t even think about it because, Why?   Apparently if you have unlimited funds you build to your hearts content without any boundaries.  George Vanderbilt, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who made his billions in shipping and railroads built himself a summer home in Asheville, NC in the late 1800’s.  George was the youngest son of  William Vanderbilt and his older brothers inherited the family business and George got a stippend of several million dollars and a trust fund so he never had to work, spending his time on intellectual pursuits.  He built the Biltmore house in 6 years, 1889-1895. At the time of completion, it was the largest privately owned  home in the US.  It is still owned by his grandson and his children run the Estate.  The family stopped living in the home in 1956.

 

Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Estate

The house was built above this pond and facing west so that the house would reflect in the pond in the early evening.  We arrived only a few minutes late but I could still see some outline of the house on the water.  The whole estate was once much larger as much of the property was sold to the US government and only 8,000 acres remain now as a big tourist draw in Asheville NC.  We spent the day there and easily could have spent several days although you pay by the day!  For $59.00 per person you get admission to the property which includes all 8000 acres, the 250 room estate, and free wine tasting in the large tasting room.  We paid slightly more per person to be able to take the evening Christmas Candlelight tour.  The rooms that are on the tour were all decorated for Christmas with huge trees and many fireplaces burning.  It was beautiful but I still am asking myself,  these are rich people,  why are we paying them huge amounts of money to look at their home?

Dusk at the Estate

Dusk at the Estate

"Free wine tasting!"

“Free wine tasting!”

They had a couple of good wines and the prices were definitely not Napa Valley prices!  I bought a really nice house red that was very much like a Zinfandel for $15.99.

In the plaza of lots of shops was the statue of a girl and her dog playing fetch!

In the plaza of lots of shops and bronze statue of Cornelia Vanderbilt and her dog Cedric playing fetch!

On the property there are lots of places to spend more money!  Very nice gift shops, fancy eateries and a little bit of public art.

Tranquil pond on the property.  I love the reflexions.

Tranquil pond on the property. I love the reflexions.

segway

The Estate has lots of opportunities to get out and get some exercise, or you can rent a Segway!  We had a very nice lunch at the Estate,  walked on the grounds some, enjoyed the shops, history and took the tour in the evening.

BiltmoreEstate

Just before dark, the Christmas trees are aglow and they have paper lanterns all along the lawn.

The architecture of the home is amazing and very industrial looking however the furnishings are amazing.  Still it amazes me that this home was built in the late 1800’s,  and it was only their summer home!  George died in 1914 so he and his wife only spent a few months per year at the estate and he only lived 16 years after it was complete.  The good news is the staff had an amazing place to call home year round!

I got me a brand new….

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

Camera, and boy is it fun.

Chjerokee, a stream runs through it

Cherokee, a stream runs through it

cherokeeleaves

The stream is pretty but this is of the leaves! Two stragglers that keep hanging on

Even at close range it is pretty cool!

Even at close range it is pretty cool!

View of Smokie Mountain NP, from near Clingman Dome

View of Smokie Mountain NP, from near Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome gives spectacular views of the Smokie Mountain Landscape

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The tower at Clingmans Dome

The tower at Clingmans Dome

My first Selfie with the new camera!

My first Selfie with the new camera!

Paul waited for me to climb the tower.  He had a nice informative talk with the volunteer

Paul waited for me to climb the tower. He had a nice informative talk with the volunteer

It was only .5 miles from the parking area up to the tower but it was straight up!  It took way longer to walk up than the trip down!

The side of the mountain as we left Clingmans Dome to return to Newfound Gap.

The side of the mountain as we left Clingmans Dome to return to Newfound Gap.

Up close of the wall!

Up close of the wall!

SMNPicicle2

SMNPicicle4

SMNPicicle6

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More nice shots in Smokie Mountains NP

SMtrees

fallleaves

Mingus Mill is a nice walk in the woods.

Gristmill

I love this photo! May have to print it!

The flume that feeds the water to run the turbin.

The flume that feeds the water to run the turbin.

So much nature here

Friday, November 7th, 2014
Love the colors!  Love the new camera!

Love the colors! Love the new camera!

We are now on the North Carolina side of the Smokies.  Staying at very nice park in Maggie Valley which is very near the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Smokies and Asheville, NC.  The beauty is everywhere.

Our view!  The stream is very relaxing

Our view! The stream is very relaxing

The view from the Parkway.

The view from the Parkway.

Blueridgemtns

Most of the Blue Ridge is already closed in a lot of areas but the ones that are open are very nice.

One of the many tunnels along the parkway.  We found this one on a short 1 mile hike.

One of the many tunnels along the parkway. We found this one on a short 1 mile hike.

There are lots of farm houses along The Blue Ridge parkway.

There are lots of farm houses along The Blue Ridge parkway.

Lots of Elk in the area

Lots of Elk in the area

Maggievalleyelk2

maggievalleyelk

They are locked

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This was lots of fun to watch. They were in a construction field right in town.

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Beautiful Mammals.

Not everything is really worth it!

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Another beautiful day in Tennessee!

Fallleaves

Copperhill, TN and McCaysville, GA look like one tiny town but infact are too towns with McCaysville being a dry town and Copperhill not.  We had lunch in Copperhill and to use the restroom you had to cross state lines!  Leave your drink in TN.  At Patrick’s Pub Paul had the worlds smallest grilled cheese sandwich –  it wasn’t advertised as that but the sandwich was not more than 3 bites!!!

TNGA

TNGAbridge

The river even changes names as it goes under the bridge into Tennessee…

kayakers

Copperhill is quite a drive from where we are staying so we got to see alot of landscape.  The kayakers were in a very nice section of the river once we entered North Carolina on our way back to the Smokies.  Right at the entrance we got a great view of a herd of Elk and this is RUT season!

An Elk herd

An Elk herd

Bulls on the outskirts

Bulls on the outskirts

There were 4 bulls of various ages across the field from the herd and one of the locals told us they were the satelite bulls!  I guess they are just hanging out waiting for one of the girls to get tired to sharing!

The Bull

The Bull

He had about 20 girls of various ages but he was chasing only one!   A little more wine might have helped his cause.

 

Just about perfect!

Friday, May 30th, 2014

We left the craziness of the speedway on Tuesday and I have had a very relaxing, almost boring week!  We found a campground north of Stateville, North Carolina that is a small, private park with lots of grass, a pool, no noise and they like dogs!

No mountains, or rivers but lots of green lawns!

No mountains, or rivers but lots of green lawns!

Beautiful

Beautiful

At least I think they like dogs!   When we arrived I was greeted by a black lab that kept his distance and barked a little, and then I was soon met by the owner and a yellow lab mix that was very friendly.  The owner took me to our site on his ATV type golf cart and never spoke to the dog.  Duke got out of the RV and he never spoke to Duke either!  We never got a list of “Rules” and no waivers about pet owner “Rules”    Today, I went to the office to pay for another night with Duke (off leash) and the owner still never acknowledged Duke!  Hmmm.  I guess the dogs are welcome just like people!

Relaxing in the grass after a round of fetch!

Relaxing in the grass after a round of fetch!

This place is almost like home!  No rules that no one is enforcing!  We like it a lot and wish we could stay longer!

And the moral of the story is….

Monday, May 26th, 2014

One last NASCAR post!  We took the tour where you get to see all the suites, VIP boxes, a drive through the garages, in the media center.  It was all very nice however I think we had better seats than the VIP’s although I am sure the booze was flowing much better up there!  The tour was nice but the ride on the track was really fun!  Paul was in the front seat and thought the van was going to tip over!

Coming into turn 1

Coming into turn 1

24 degree bank thru turn 1 into turn 2

24 degree bank thru turn 1 into turn 2

And the winner is?

And the winner is?

 

I have made some observations over the past two weekends.

#1.  NASCAR is truly a sport but not like the others;  you have 40+ drivers, so basically 40+ teams playing at the same time with fans for each one sharing beers in the stands.  I never saw a fight, or argument.  I did get a photo of one fan flipping off a driver that I guess he knew was better than his guy and was going to beat him today!

#2.  NASCAR has lots of rules for the fans but they are loosely inforced.  We learned this at Talledega but it was reinforced here.

a. Quiet hours are 12 am – 6 am – or somewhere there abouts if you are celebrating a big win!

b.  Smoking is in designated areas or if you really have to, go ahead and light one up while sitting in your seat.  No one will report it.      although one cranky guy might pop you on the shoulder with his cap and tell you to put that thing out!  (yep, Paul did just that!)

c.  There is no dress code, but please wear your team colors!

#3.  Everybody here knows lots about the history of their sport!

#4  Red neck comes in all socio economic platforms and once they get to the track you have no idea who is which!

#5  NASCAR is all about friends, family, beer and a good time!  All at the same time!

#6  BOOing is encouraged!!!!

Finally! The last NASCAR post!

Monday, May 26th, 2014

600 miles takes about 4 1/2 hours if we are lucky and we were if you don’t count all the time  we wandered around the pits looking up close at the cars, watching the teams prepare for the race

Checking out the pits, those are tires for just one car!

Checking out the pits, those are tires for just one car!

Gluing the lug nuts on the wheels

Gluing the lug nuts on the wheels

Standing infront of the #5 pit stall!

Standing in front of the #5 pit stall!

Number 47 being wheeled into position

Number 47 being wheeled into position

#5 in position

#5 in position

Today we are fans of #47 AJ Almendinger because he is from Los Gatos, and #5 Kasey Kahne just because I think he is cute!  About 1/2 way thru the race I changed teams!  I didn’t venture far as I began cheering for #24, and #48!  They were doing good and it was more exciting watching them!

Watching crazy fans on the infield:

Crazy infield fans!

Crazy infield fans!

They come and stay for the weekend in tents!

Kurt Busch the #41 driver was setting some sort of marathon record today,  he  drove 500 miles in the Indianapolis 500, finishing after 4 pm our time and flew here, arriving by helicopter to race at 7 pm in the Coca Cola 600!  He did great for his first time in Indy cars, finishing 6th but in the NASCAR race he blew an engine about 300 miles into the race.

Kurt Busch the #41 arrives

Kurt Busch the #41 arrives

Then we took our seats about 5 pm to watch driver introductions, opening ceremonies:

FlagFlag 2

My driver, Kasey Kahne #5

My driver, Kasey Kahne #5

One more shot

One more shot

AJ riding away after his intro

AJ riding away after his intro

#48, the winner of the pole for this race

#48, the winner of the pole for this race

Then about 7 pm they finally got all the crap off the field and got the race underway!

The lead car heading down pit row to start the Coco Cola 600

The lead car heading down pit road to start the Coca Cola 600

They have do some pace laps to get everyone in line and ready to go

They have to do some pace laps to get everyone in line and ready to go

This is how I keep track of who is doing well! This is the starting line up for this race

This is how I keep track of who is doing well!
This is the starting line up for this race

And after several potty breaks and lots of banter with other fans, the winner is:

Congratulations Jimmy Johnson!  He started the race first, led most of the laps and was the first to see the checker flag!

Congratulations Jimmy Johnson! He started the race first, led most of the laps and was the first to see the checkered flag!