Archive for the ‘North Carolina’ Category

Great Smokey Mountains

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

We were here 4 years ago and hit the peak of fall!  The colors were spectacular and then it snowed and it was all gone.  We were hoping for a repeat but we only saw the beginning which was beautiful but nothing like before.  This park is very popular and crowded in the main areas.  We tried a different area, a little out of the park and it was busy too but not as much.  This is a park that would be best during the week.

We spent our first day exploring Deep Creek which is outside the main park of the park and quite beautiful.  We took a short hike and saw a couple more waterfalls.

A Small waterfall after a short hike.

Then we stopped in Bryson City but I didn’t want to shop too much because I was looking forward to Gatlinburg on the other side of the National Park.  I had decided that this time I was going to shop!  What a disappointment.  Gatlinburg is right next to Pigeon Forge and is one big amusement park.  All there is here are gift shops and chain stores!  Should have stayed in Bryson City!  Next trip

Gatlinburg at night! It was beautiful looking down from the park

The final few miles

Friday, October 19th, 2018

We are closing in on Great Smokey Mountain NP at Milepost 469!  So between Shenandoah NP and The Blue Ridge Parkway we traveled about 600 miles in a National Park and we are about to enter another National Park.  You can travel these three NP’s with only a 1/2 mile outside, although you do need to leave the parks to fuel up and get groceries.

Before we leave Blue Ridge Parkway another hike and another waterfall.

That is the Parkway.  We saw so much beauty and a few really cute communities.  One town had the most amazing toy store, better than any other I have been to!  The bummer was I can’t bring much home but I found a couple small things.  And we found a very interesting ice cream shop that wasn’t very appealing on the outside.  It was located all by itself and appeared to be just a warehouse.  Inside was a bit dark but they had great ice cream and I even tried Kale/ Blueberry ice cream.  It wasn’t green and it was sweet and creamy and had a blueberry flavor!

Pisgah National Forest

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

A nice little side trip to see a few more waterfalls, Pisgah National Forest We chose this side trip because I read in my research that the town of Brevard was considered a “cool” town!  Well the drive was very cool and we saw some really nice fall colors and waterfalls but the town really wasn’t that “cool”!  The Pisgah NF  is also home of the first school of forestry in the United States, now preserved at the Cradle of Forestry in America historic site, and boasts two of the first designated wilderness areas in the east.

Posing in front of Sliding Rock

It is hard to see but this is a giant slab of rock that in the summer they allow you to slide down into the pool below.  I love it.  A natural water slide.  This was a beautiful spot but there were no sliders and mostly retired people checking it out.  I am sure it would be a whole different experience in the heat of summer!

Enjoy the views

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Being a National Park the landscape is different than many places we go so I work hard to find memories that will remind me of my experience.

This little hike was under the Linn Cove Viaduct and the trees were amazing.  Growing on the rocks and perfectly straight trunks!

Linn Cove Viaduct

Linn Cove Viaduct    A 7 mile link that was the last part of the parkway to be finished in 1987.  It was delayed for twenty years as environmentalists, adjacent landowners, engineers, and architects sought a design that would preserve and protect the fragile habitat of adjacent Grandfather Mountain.  The hike under it was pretty cool.

Its a Catch!

Taking a lunch break along this small lake while this dad caught a Big One!  His son was a little afraid and then they released the fiesty fish.

One of 26, most are in North Carolina near the end of                                  the Parkway

Changing Seasons

We were about a week early but in the higher elevations we were getting glimpses of the beauty to come.  Our last trip here we hit the peak at the end of October.  The most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.

Being the end of the growing season we saw lots of hay waiting in the fields.  They have plenty of water so they can grow the hay in very small areas.

There are not a lot of buildings on the parkway but I was able to find a couple weather worn to photograph.  It’s fun hunting for something to photograph.

Waterfalls on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

I always try to find the waterfalls and the Parkway had plenty to choose from.

Then we found a side trip to a National Forest that boasted there many waterfalls so we decided to take a detour.  Pisgah National Forest is in North Carolina and the little bit of it we saw it was beautiful.

We also got to experience another form of entertainment in retirement.

        Two Ladies along side a waterfall                      making their music.

Sometimes you just need to rest!

Paul was definitely getting into vacation mode.  We took a nice hike along a waterfall and there was some beautiful rocks to sit upon and enjoy the flow!  Put him right to sleep.

Along the Parkway

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Parkway Signs are about all you see that is similar to the outside highways.  The speed limit on the parkway is 45 so not many residents take the parkway even though there are many homes right on it.  There are lots of roads running along side with driveway like entrances.  The signs were interesting to us although there was one we just didn’t always understand.

These were all sizes and mostly turnouts!

Anytime a crossroads entrance.

This sign was very helpful because you didn’t enter the same way as a normal onramp and it could be miles before you realized you were going the wrong way, unless…..

Every Mile

Sometimes they were hard to find and they were only on the southbound side of the road with numbers on each side.

                       Top of the Parkway

It was a spectacular day when were reached milemarker 431.  We even saw a couple that brought out there recliners and were enjoying the views.

                              Music Center

We arrived here late in the day but on weekends they have live local bluegrass music.  I think the sign is really cool, the shape of the NP sign but almost looks like an instrument.

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail crosses the parkway in several spots.  We choose this one for a short hike so now we can say we walked the Appalachian Trail.  Paul has dreams about hiking the Trail, not me!  It isn’t that scenic as you are deep in the woods for much of it and camping is what you bring on your back!  Nope.


The Big Deal

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

The main focus of our trip this fall was to return to North Carolina and the Smokey Mountains via the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We have done many miles on the Parkway but this trip will be 469 miles on the Parkway.  Smokey Mountain NP will be the ending of the Parkway. We will take several side trips but mostly we will be on the parkway.

First item on the to do list is get to the entry gate at milepost 0  in Virginia and get our senior parks pass that will be good for Paul’s lifetime.  A great value as long as we keep moving.  Not only do you get into the National Parks free but also get 1/2 off camping in most.  So on this trip we spent (actually Amy and Stephanie bought it for Paul’s birthday) $80 and saved about $60 in entry and camping.

A real senior benefit

Our first view of the beautiful area is behind Paul.  We will get in some hiking on this trip but also a lot of views!

Because of the winds last night the parkway had lots of debris because the NP Service does all the maintenance and often closes stretches of the parkway if they cannot get to it.  That happened at about mile 30 but the detour was beautiful also.  We missed about 11 miles of parkway but none of the big stops.

Peaks of Otter near Mile Post 86 is a beautiful resort area complete with a lodge, restaurant and a beautiful lake.

The lodge of Peaks of Otter

Fuel is not available on the parkway so you need to exit the parkway and even though there are lots of signs on the parkway it is a National Park so signs of what is available at the exits is minimal so it is up to your smart phone to guide you to the outside world.  Sometimes you get really lucky and find some amazing place!  Some not so much!

You decide!

Paul pulls into the station for fuel and sees this sign and says “you need to go shopping! I have some work to do!”  Ok then, it was kind of a warehouse with lots of racks of clothing in beautiful colors.  Tunics and Leggings were the hit of the party.  I walked out with a $75 Credit Card bill but some really cute leggings for Halloween.



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!