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Published: February 12th 2011
In 2009, during our Blue Ridge Parkway trip, we attended a Meet & Greet and met a bunch of great people we had previously known only from the RVUSA Website forums. Since our first gathering, several of us have formed "The Gang" on SKYPE and can keep in touch between 7 pm and 10 pm nightly, as our schedules allow.
The first Meet & Greet was such a huge success, lots of food, folks and fun. So much, we had immediately planned another one for following year and we were all anxious to see if our little gathering would grow.
For this year's Meet & Greet, Rod, one of our RV friends and one of "The Gang", proposed several dates until October 1st through October 3rd was agreed on. That was two weeks earlier than last year, which had us all huddled around a campfire holding umbrellas to shield the rain, and having a blast despite the weather. That was held in a family campground in Bedford, Virginia. This year it was being held at Misty River RV Resort. Along with the nice folks from last year who we are looking forward to seeing again, we were excited at
the prospect of meeting a few more RV Friends.
Since the 1st Meet & Greet, Randy and I have had significant changes in our lives which involved our grandson returning to our care full-time, however my sister was generous enough to agree to babysit/housesit when I asked her. That would include getting Landan to and from school while we were gone. Riding 600 miles over a day and a half, camping for little more than a day and a half with a bunch of grownups
, then riding 600 miles back home, might not be the most fun for a hyperactive 7 year old and most importantly, we did not want him to miss any school.
So Randy and I started packing up the RV and planning what foods we would contribute toward feeding our hungry group of campers! We, along with some of The Gang, decided Randy and I would cook a crawfish ettouffee and a Sausage, Chicken and Pork Jambalaya to add to the other dishes for Saturday night. Jimmy and his wife, owners of Misty River, generously offered to bar-b-que for us on Friday Night. That was wonderful because we weren't sure what time we would
make it in on Friday and that would keep us from having to start cooking soon after we would arrive. Most of the group was expected to make it to the resort long before we ever left Louisiana.
One of The Gang from the forum is from Australia. Last year he sent money to purchase his favorite beer, Fosters, for us all to enjoy, on him. That was thoughtful and very memorable as well! This year, he and his wife were making the trip to enjoy the fun firsthand!! No one could believe that they would fly around the world to attend this Meet & Greet, but lo and behold, they did.
Another of the group is from Washington State. He made plans to fly across the country to spend some time getting to know us all. I can tell you that everyone felt honored that both sets of these long distance travelers were joining us this year. 😊 We had something special planned for them which I will let you in on later in the journal.
On the Monday before we were scheduled to leave, we kept a close check on the RVUSA forum for updates
from our traveling clan. Steve, from Washington, had arrived in Tennessee first and started posting updates on the forum. He had flown in on Monday, rented a car and stayed in Nashville a night and then moved to Misty River on Wednesday. He rented a cabin due to the distance and time involved in traveling across country in his RV. More time to spend with us eating and passing a good time! 😊
Our Australian friends Trevor and Kaye, had arrived in the States having left Australia on Sunday. They rented a car and got a hotel room for a couple of days to recover from their jet lag. Unable to transport their RV across the world, they had also rented a cabin for their stay at the M&G.
Hollis and Maria made it there from Georgia on Wednesday as well. Rod, who is from Tennessee, made it in on Thursday as did Paul, Jenny and Alan from Texas; Ken and Linda from Virginia with a bunch of their friends including some we had met last year, arrived on Thursday also. Butch and Shirley, who are also from Texas, made it there safely as well. Rod's wife Lynn,
had planned to work Friday, then travel the few miles to join everyone at the campground.
On Thursday, September 30th,
Melody got to the house soon after we dropped Landan off at school and we finally
left for the Meet & Greet. Randy drove for the first 2 hours and then I took over and drove for about the same. When we stopped to refill the gas tank, Randy took over driving again. We made great time on the interstate, sticking to our self-imposed 65 mph maximum speed.
We enjoyed the scenic drive through northern Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia and ended up driving until around 6 pm. We made it to Cleveland, Tennessee, where we found a Walmart and stopped for the night. There was one other RV parked off to the side of the store and we fell in behind them.
We ate a sandwich for supper, which was the only meal we had eaten that day, then started preparations for sleep. When I went to fill the coffee basket to pre-set the pot, I suddenly remembered the basket that holds the coffee grounds, was in the drain at home, from when I had rinsed it
that morning... 😞
So tired as we were, inside Walmart we went, to buy a new coffee pot. We had been wanting to purchase one to leave on the RV (this had happened before), now we had no choice. Luckily Randy spotted an exact replica of our Mr. Coffee and we ended up making a couple of impulse buys before hurrying back to the RV. At least we already knew how to program the new coffee maker so no time was wasted on figuring out how to set it. Off to bed so we could be early to rise. We were within an hour and a half of "The Gang" but sson realized we had no phone numbers to call and let them all know we were close.
We had set the clock for 7 am on Friday, October 1st,
but I hit the snooze at least twice before finally dragging my tired butt out of the bed. It never ceases to amaze me at how tired and sore we get from sitting in a seat for 10 hours. We were finishing up our coffee when Randy's cell phone rang. It was Ken, one of our group, who
was calling to check on us. We told him we were about 80 miles away and just about to get back on the highway.
We were pleased that we were on the road just before 9 am and on the final leg of our trip to meet up with "The Gang" and the others who came to join the fun. Our Garmin gave us excellent directions and we were making good time despite the Friday morning stop and go traffic in the small towns we passed through. It seemed like there were traffic lights on every corner of that major highway. Randy was driving as he usually does when we start off in the mornings. I tend to need longer to mentally wake up so I was enjoying the beautiful morning and taking pictures as we rode along. We couldn't have been more than 2 turns and probably 10 miles away from Misty River, when a picture that I took had a funny white stripe across it when it displayed on the screen.
So I checked the picture again and sure enough, there was a stripe across it...By that time, we were seeing less stores and more rural
areas so I started to panic. There was no way I was going to the M&G without a camera. I quickly turned it off and took the battery out and changed it. I held my breath as I turned it back on and snapped another picture...same thing. Memory card maybe? No...Oh, then I was really panicing and blurted out that we needed a Walmart and before I could grab the Garmin to search for the nearest one, Randy said "there's one" and he wasn't kidding. At the next red light was a Walmart. We could not believe our good fortune. I told Randy we really needed another camera that would use the same battery, charger, and other accessories that we already had.
Our luck continued as there was one Nikon Cool Pix left and it was even on sale. We made a major purchase this time but glad to have been able to do so. We were still a half hour away from our destination and already spent well over $200.00 between the 2 Walmarts along the way.
Back on the road our Garmin indicated we were within a mile of the campground and when Randy's cell phone
rang and the caller ID displayed an unknown number, I figured it was one of the gang calling, and it was. I think, "Where in the hell are you?" was the first thing I heard when I answered. It was Ken, teasing us for taking so long getting there. I responded with, "I see the campground sign now", and told him we'd see them all shortly.
We turned in and pulled up to the office to check-in. We met Sharon with whom I had spoken with back in August when I booked our reservations. She had mentioned she was originally from the New Orleans area but had transplanted to Walland, the outskirts of the gorgeous Smoky Mountains. After a speedy check-in and some friendly conversation with her on New Orleans vs. Walland, Tennessee, we hurried outside to meet our friends.
Steve and Alan were outside of the office to greet us and we officially met and chatted with them for a few minutes before moving our RV to our site. We had been assigned C-7 but when we approached it, we saw another RV already set up there.
So we continued on around the loop to make
Misty River here we are
sure we had looked at the correct site. During our pass around the campground, we saw Ken, Tex and Rod, who told us to take any available site since the entire row, and part of another, were all for our gathering.
We selected C-2 and hooked up our electric, water and cable, then we walked down a few sites to where everyone had gathered and got aquainted and reaquainted with those who had arrived prior to us. Rod and his wife Lynn, Tex, his wife Jenny, and Tex's brother Alan were there. Alan nor Steve made it last year so it was great to meet them.
We caught up on things with Ken and Linda who had graciously hosted last year's M&G at their campground on their back forty in Bedford. Ken and Linda had invited several of their camping friends from Virginia, Billy and Rose, Kelly and Mike along with their precious daughter who was in her teens, Steve and his wife and several other awesome people. We got to meet Butch and his wife Shirley, who also frequent the RVUSA Forums. We felt as if we had known every one of them for years. RVers seem
Misty River RV Resort
5050 Old Walland Hwy
to be, as a general rule, wonderful, fun-loving and down-to earth people and are so in touch with what is really important in life.
Once we had finished explaining our camera delay to everyone, we needed to stretch our legs so we headed out across the field, toward the cabins to meet Trevor and Kaye, our Australian soon to be friends. Unfortunately, we caught them napping and felt awful. But they were very gracious and we spent a few minutes chatting before leaving them to whatever nap they could salvage, and plans to get better acquainted at supper that evening. They had a lovely view of the river from their cabin. There was a hot tub but we had heard Steve found a snake in his cabin's hot tub, so we doubted anyone would be climbing in for a soak.
Randy and I walked along the river for a little while to give our legs and backs more time to limber up and then made our way back toward the RVs and "The Gang" we had traveled to see. Along the way back, on the river-side, we heard a small rustling in the leaves and then a small
Upside down House in Pigeon Forge
We passed this on our day trip with Hollis and Maria
splash. Randy caught a glimpse of a snake but I missed it. That was fine with me. I am no fan of the snake. I will go my way and he can go his.
Just as we made it back to the RV to get all of our things situated, Hollis and Maria passed by in their car and stopped to ask us if we wanted to go into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge with them for a couple of hours. We accepted their gracious invitation and quickly locked up the RV. As I mentioned before, Hollis and Maria are from Georgia and we had enjoyed their company last year as much as their Drunken Chicken they grilled for the first M&G!!
We rode a few miles to Pigeon Forge and cruised along the main strip before continuing on toward Gatlinburg. There were tons of other visitors in Pigeon Forge and we saw some interesting sights. The Fall landscaping in Pigeon Forge was pristine and how they kept all of those thousands of plants watered was a mystery to me.
We found the upside down house at WonderWorks to be rather unique and couldn't resist snapping a picture
to show Landan when we made it home. He would like that. We also saw a replica of the Titanic but resisted the temptation to stop and go inside. Maybe that would be on our next trip through this part of the country.
As we continued on toward Gatlinburg, Hollis and Maria mentioned they knew a restaurant where they had eaten before and asked if we were interested in lunch, and we were. They took us to the The Old Mill Restaurant and after a very short wait, we were seated in the large upstairs dining room.
The Old Mill Restaurant is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is said that it is still one of the most popular places in the Smokies as well as one of the most photographed mills in the entire United States! While the restuarant was filled two floors deep with hungry tourists, that did not slow the service one bit.
After looking over the menu Randy and I both ordered a Club Sandwich and Hollis and Maria each had a Country Dinner with meat, veggies and salads and we all enjoyed our meals. In fact, the Club
The Old Mill Restaurant
Between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Great food and nice atmosphere.
Sandwich was the largest I have ever seen! I gave up after eating half and packaged the other half for later. I am still not sure where Randy put his sandwich...still hard to believe he ate the whole thing.
We thoroughly stuffed ourselves, then wandered around the Old Mill & General Store which is conveniently located next to the restaurant. According to a posted sign, the Old Mill & General Store still functions as it did way back in 1830 when it was built. Randy and I looked around outside and took a few pictures of the old mill, before joining Hollis and Maria inside the store to have a look around inside.
There were so many interesting things packed in this store! From fresh-ground grains, to pancake and other specialty mixes. There were homemade jams, jellies, salad dressings, candy of every type and other popular products from the restaurant's famous line. There was also a wide array of unique gifts, lots of Smoky Mountain memorabilia, and other craft type items.
We could have spent several hours looking around but noticing the time passing all too quickly, the four of us decided it was time to
go. Back to the car and back toward Misty River Resort. Maria and I somehow mananged to talk the guys into stopping at a couple of quaint shops that were on the way to the campground and it all made for a super afternoon. Maria and Hollis did end up making a couple of purchases, including a nice set of wooden wind chimes from a woodcrafting shop.
For a few weeks, Randy and I had been on the lookout for a new key holder for our home since our old one had finally given up holding all of the keys we keep on it, but we had no luck with locating one. We also enjoyed a complimentary taste of homemade fudge at one of the stores and managed to finally decide on the perfect magnet which would be added to our collection.
We made it back to Misty River Campground very late in the afternoon and "the gang" was ready to party and eat bar-b-que, but we soon found out the bar-b-que was delayed and wouldn't be happening until Saturday night.
We were sitting outside talking and drinking beverages when Hollis and Maria brought out
Some of "The Gang"
Alan, Ken, Tex is hidden, Rod, Kelly and Lynn
their shrimp from the night before that they had boiled up and had saved some for us. That is just how thoughful our friends are! No wonder we traveled almost 700 miles to see them all. Somehow, despite our sandwiches from earlier, we managed to put away quite a few of the delicious boiled shrimp. Hollis did a fantastic job on the boil and we grant him the Cajun seal of approval. 😱
After sitting around and chatting awhile, the gang went to work planning the evening back-up meal. Our ettouffee and jambalaya would take too long to prepare for the night's meal so it would have to go along with the bar-b-que on Saturday night, and there were enough of the leftovers from Thursday evening's meal, that no one would go away hungry that night.
Most of us went back to our own RVs for a little while before we would gather to eat. Now for the surprise I mentioned previously. The ones in our group who chat on SKYPE nightly, had wanted to do something special for the ones who were traveling so many miles to meet us all. We wanted something memorable, yet not
Steve and Tex
Steve from Washington State (long distance award winner!) & Tex from Texas sharing photography knowledge.
too expensive or hard to fly home with. So we brainstormed on SKYPE one night, and had come up with the idea of purchasing two baseball caps, and 2 hat pins representative of each of our respective states.
We sure weren't spending much time indoors this trip, but when there were only a few more hours before most of the group would be heading out toward home, we didn't want to waste a second. So we headed back down to meet the others, to put the hat pins on the caps before our evening meal.
I reached into the cap on top to retreive the hat pins I had safely tucked inside. Everyone else was showing off their State Pin and when I pulled ours out, I only found one...WHERE WAS THE OTHER ONE???? I knew I had brought both. As soon as ours came in the mail, I had brought them out to the RV and placed them in the caps.
I frantically searched around the immediate area and then back to the RV I went, to look there. I was sure I must have dropped it inside of the RV. I searched and searched some
Trevor and Kaye
Long distance award winners!
more, but the missing hat pin was nowhere to be found. I was heartbroken and figured we'd find the damn thing later somewhere in the RV, but for the time being, I had to return to the group empty-handed...
We were all wondering where I could have lost or dropped the thing when all of a sudden I spotted it on the ground! Hurray!!! I immediately stuck both pins on the caps and handed them off for the next couple to pin theirs. Relieved, Randy and I went back to the RV to rest a few minutes before supper.
Not only did we have a great view of the campground, but we also had a wonderful view of the mountains that surround the campground. Rod had told us earlier that Jimmy and his wife Diane, the owners of Misty River, had kindly opened up their recreation/meeting room for our group to use for our evening meals. We were all greatful for the warm and spacious accomodations.
From the window in our RV, we started to see a few of the couples walking over toward the recreation room, so Randy and I bundled up and went to join
them. The hall was located right behind the office and our RV was parked closest to it. We had learned that due to Jimmy and Diane's excellent management and business skills, their campground has acheived 'A' ratings from the RV Consumer's Satisfaction survey, two years in a row! Kudos to them!
We all took tons of photos and enjoyed some great conversation with all of our friends from last year while getting to know many new ones as well. Tex, who was our official photographer last year, along with his wife, Jenny, shared the duties this year with Steve.
We ate too much and after our meal was over, it was time to present the members who had traveled the furthest distance to attend this year's Meet & Greet, with their "Major Awards". Trevor and Kaye, who flew in from Australia, and Steve who flew in from Washington State, were the recepients of the distinguished awards.
After the caps were presented, Steve and Kaye stood up and thanked us all for helping to make their first trip to the United States a nice and memorable one. Then we toasted the 3 recepients with a shot of
Butterscotch Schnapps, topped with a small amount of Bailey's Irish Creme. It really warmed us up for the walk back but after deciding we weren't quite ready to call it a night, most of us congregated around a large bonfire some of the guys had worked hard to prepare for us out in the field.
We sat around the blazing campfire, telling jokes and sharing our traveling stories, really passing a good time (that's Cajun talk)! Mike and Kelly had their giant dog Boomer along on the trip. He was one of the largest dogs I have ever seen. Even with his size, he was on his best behavior and had the best disposition of any dog you would ever meet. He stayed close by Kelly straying only briefly to get a pat from each of us.
Before too long, I guess the shots of Schnapps had begun to wear off because it was very chilly outside, but the fire was more than adequate enough to keep us warm for a while, however after I started feeling flying embers from the monstrous fire burning holes in my clothes, Randy and I made a hasty retreat back
Mike & Kelly with their large dog Boomer
Boomer was as nice and as well behaved as he was large!
to the comfort of our RV, as did several others in the group. What an amazing day!
Randy and I also had a long
day and had really never settled in before being invited to town with Hollis and Maria, but we had enjoyed that so much that the chore of setting everything up then seemed worth it. Before long everything was set up and ready for the weekend.
We had heard earlier at the bonfire that several of the group had gone to the Smoky Mountain Zipline in Pigeon Forge that day. Riding a zipline is something that I have wanted to do for several years! Maybe Saturday would be the day I could cross that off of my Bucket List, if we could manage to bum a ride into town with someone in our group. It is way too much hassle to unhook and secure the RV for a day trip, even to fulfill such an adventurous wish. Saturday, October 2nd,
we awoke to much cooler temperatures than the previous day. It was foggy outside and our view of the mountains was obscured out of our side window. Randy and I knew we
would be layering our clothing today in order to enjoy the cool crisp day.
After coffee and catching the early news on the morning show, we dressed warmly and headed outdoors to see who else was on the move. Our neighbor next door, Steve, was sitting out under his awning with his laptop and sipping coffee. He invited us in to join several of the others for breakfast which was being prepared inside his motorhome.
Not being ones to decline an invitation to a home cooked breakfast, we went in to do what our group seems to do best, eat
! They had prepared fried sausage and bacon, pancakes, homemade biscuits with gravy, grits...and it was all delicious.
With our bellies filled to the brim, Randy and I thought we'd walk off a little added weight of the wonderful breakfast and headed back toward Misty River to explore. We spent about 30 minutes hiking around enjoying the gorgeous scenery on the banks of the river before turning back toward the campground to see what was the agenda for the day, discovering most of our group had left for town already.
Straight to Plan
B, which was to find a mountain to hike up, and there were several within close proximity to choose from. Jimmy was attending to the bar-b-que which was being slowly cooked in the large smoker in front of the poolhouse and we figured he would know where we could hit a trail close by.
He told us there was a gravel trail that winded around up to the top of the small mountain just about a half mile from the campground and it was several miles to the top. He said it was private property but he had known others that had hiked up a few miles and back down.
Being fans of nature, we would never litter or damage any property, all we wanted to do was hike around enjoying the changing leaves and take a few pictures. We never saw any posted signs so we proceeded up the trail and suddenly heard gunshots off in the distance. We looked up ahead and saw a man with his young son shooting at some cans they had lined up on the side of the trail.
They noticed us about the same time and took
a break from their target practice to allow us to pass. After we had gone a ways ahead, we could hear that the youngster's lessons had resumed. As we walked along, I could see a really nice view through the clearings we were passing, and thought if we could get a couple of miles higher, we could get a nice shot above the treeline.
Well, we enjoyed a really nice hike, with a few lingering butterflies, some vibrantly colored leaves and weather that was just right for hiking through Tennessee on a lovely Fall afternoon. Mid-afternoon, we turned around and made our way back down the mountain and once we made it back to the bottom, a nice stream gave us a nice resting place, alongside the bank.
It was getting late enough that it was necessary to sort of sprint back to the campground. LSU was playing Tennessee on TV shortly, and we found that these Tennessee folks were just about as serious with their football as we Tigers are!
Being stuck smack dab in the middle of this Tennessee campground, we were just hoping to see an awesome game between the two teams.
As we encountered some of Tennessee fans throughout the day wearing their Tennessee Jerseys and us with our LSU Jerseys, we all jokingly exchanged a bit of friendly "trash talking", but not too much...we were heavily out numbered! But really, everyone we talked with were great sports. Win or lose, we the fans must always remember, the players are all college kids and doing their best at something they enjoy.
Our group met up to discuss the evening meal surrounded by the wonderful aroma of Jimmy's bar-b-que. Along with the bar-b-que, there was still plenty of food left over from the two previous nights so our jambalaya wasn't really needed, but a couple of the group had indicated that they had been looking forward to it and Randy is always glad to share his Cajun cooking skills.
So he started the preparations for the Jambalaya and began watching the game, while I visited with some of the folks who were still sitting outside a couple of sites down. The crawfish ettouffee I had planned to add to the menu would have to wait until another year.
I went back and forth to the RV to catch
some of the football game and to help out with cutting onions and meat. The game was a heated one and our campground was making noise especially when it seemed that Tennessee was going to beat LSU, after we'd had an undefeated season up to that point.
Suddenly we heard of the campground erupt in cheers and I feared that Tennessee had beaten LSU, so I hightailed it back to the RV to comfort Randy (maybe change shirts~kidding). But as I opened the door to go inside, I heard the announcer on tv say something about Tennessee having had too many players on the field, they were penalized, LSU got a first down and ended up winning afterall! Then
the noise came from our
RV as Randy and I jumped around and cheered loudly. Maybe I was the only one jumping...I even blew our horn a couple of times and everyone knew the celebrating was coming from us! Once my heartrate returned to normal, there was just enough time to go down to see a couple of our Tennessee friends to engage in a bit of friendly gloating over our win. Still undefeated...GO TIGERS!!
With our game over and the Jambalaya ready to eat, we hauled the pot over to the rec room to join the others that were starting to gather. Our Gang sure shares a fondness for the great food and that bar-b-que smelled wonderful. Everything smelled wonderful.
Once we had all filled our plates and sat down to eat, Jimmy surprised us by setting up a screen and treated us to a surprise showing of The Long, Long Trailer, starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez. That kept our entire group in stitches throughout the entire movie. I know there were parts we could all relate to with our RV experiences. Neither Randy or I had seen it in years and thoroughly enjoyed it! By the sound of the laughter it was apparent it was enjoyed by all. What thoughtful folks around here.
Our night was quickly drawing to a close and most of the gang would be departing on Sunday, including us. We had planned to pull out around noon and drive until dark, find a place to spend the night, and make the final part of the drive on Monday.
Tex, Jenny and Alan, and Butch and
Some of "The Gang"
Mike, Jenny ducking out, Steve, Billy, Shirley and Butch
Shirley were planning to stay a few more days but most of us had to get back home. We had enjoyed this Meet & Greet as much as the first one and hope to enjoy many more to come. We talked about where we might hold the next on in 2011, and most were in agreement that Misty River was the perfect place.
It was getting late and time to get some rest so we all headed back to our rolling homes and settled in for the night. The weather continued to cool down and we knew we were in for a cold night. Randy and I watched a little TV the turned in for the night. I slept like a baby and the RV stayed warm and toasty. Sunday, October 3rd,
we woke around 8:30 and drank our coffee as we readied the RV for the long drive home. Since we had spent so little time indoors over the past couple of days, there wasn't a whole lot to do to get ready to leave. So after refilling our coffee, we ventured outdoors to see who was on the move and realized several of the Virginia group
had departed already, and the rest were not far from it. On almost every site, there were campers busy putting up awnings, packing up chairs, rugs, lights, grills and many other camping related luxuries.
We walked down the row of sites saying goodbye to all of those who were departing before us and hoped to all meet up again. Then there was us and a few others of our group remaining.
Heading back toward our RV, we noticed several of the men gathered around Butch and Shirley's rig and walked over to see what they were doing. Turns out their heater had gone out the previous night and they had spent one cold night in their RV. Luckily for them, their oven kept them from freezing but poor Shirley was still too cold this morning to venture outdoors.
Just then, it started to sprinkle. Had we not been so concerned about the heating problem, we would have all probably noticed the storm clouds slowly moving in, but a little rain wouldn't slow these guys down, so they put their thinking caps on to troubleshoot Butch and Shirley's problem hoping to remedy the situation.
Try as they
Randy cooking Jambalaya
Cooking for the Meet & Greet
did, the problem persisted and as the rain got heavier we all returned to our RVs. Good thing they had planned on staying a few more days. Of course we were worried about how those days would turn out if they could not get their heat repaired. They wouldn't freeze but would be pretty miserable. I know I would.
Rod, who is a Certified RV Technician, made some calls and got in touch with a tech he knew in the area that promised to make a road call to see what he could do. He said he would make it by later in the day to see if he could get their heat running. We hoped the repairs would be successful.
With the rain refusing to slack up, Randy and I decided we'd better go ahead and hit the road as soon as possible so we grabbed our jackets and rushed out to say a final goodbye to the remaining friends. After lots of hugs and wishes for everyone's safe travels, we unhooked and pulled out of the campgound a little past 10:00 am.
Before long, the rain subsided and we enjoyed the scenic drive through the
Our Gang's line of RVs
Plus a couple on the row behind
small towns admiring the Fall displays which were overflowing with bright orange pumpkins, scarecrows and enormous bales of hay. The miles flew by.
We made it to the Alabama State Line by 1:30 so I thought I would call my sister to let her know we were making good time and would make it as far as possible before stopping for the night. That would put us back in Baton Rouge by mid afternoon on Monday.
What happened next was a total game changer! Melody told me everything was going great and she thought we were not going to be back until Wednesday or Thursday...WHAT? Are you kidding? Then she told me to take our time and enjoy a few days by ourselves! I told her I would talk to Randy and call her back.
By that time, Randy is looking at me like "What?", so I blurted out that Melody was telling me we should stay a few more days. We were both smiling from ear to ear, but damn, we were already way too far from Misty River to go back. Aside from the hours we had driven, the gas that got us this far
Randy on our hike
He is wearing our LSU Tiger colors~purple & gold
back south was not cheap. No way we could turn back so what were we to do? Continue on toward home or come up with an alternative plan?
Alternate plan it was!!! But there was one problem. The Great American Road Trip started at 8 pm and that is one of our favorite shows. We needed to find a campground and get set up before then. So I searched the Garmin for campgrounds and found a few on our route.
The first one I called had no cable and when I asked about antenna reception, the lady didn't sound too sure that we would have a good signal, so I thanked her and hung up. The next place I called said they had great TV reception, WiFi and a really nice campground. I told the man that the WiFi was not as important as the TV reception because I did not want to miss The Great American Road Trip. He assured me we would not have a problem so I programmed the Garmin and we were on the way there.
Within a few minutes we pulled into the campground and stopped at the office. There was a
Me on our hike
Also wearing my purple & gold
man and two women sitting outdoors in a porch swing and asked if we were the ones that had called.
"Yes, that was us", I replied as we walked toward the office door. Once inside he asked me what program I had mentioned so Randy and I gave him a brief summary while he checked us in.
As we all walked out the man introduced us to the women, one of which was his wife. He then started telling them about the show we had mentioned and his wife said she had seen one episode and had really liked it. They were very nice folks.
We headed off down the road to the campsites, following behind the man on his golf cart who was leading us to our site. We started noticing a lot of permanent looking motorhomes and a lot
of trees. The further down the small lane we drove, the smaller the sites were...generally in our experience, trees and no cable = NO SIGNAL. We kept going and pulled into the site the man directed us to. There was an older looking camper within 5 feet of our door and it looked like it hadn't
moved for 50 years, and lots of trees...
Then the man waved goodbye and drove through on his golf cart as Randy jumped out to plug in and hook up the water. It was about that time I began to notice that the RV was leaning rather significantly. Not just slightly where we could ignore the lean, but enough to lose your balance and tumble into something. I yelled out to Randy that we would need to try to reposition to get more level.
He backed up and pulled forward several different ways but we could not find a spot on that site that was level. We settled for having the back end lower than the front and called it quits. After we put the antenna up Randy programmed the TV to see how many channels we could pick up and figure out which channel we needed for our show. Meanwhile, I fired up the laptop to send out a couple of emails and check out some headlines.
It was almost simultaneously that we both realized that neither of us were having any luck. Randy had like 2 TV Channels and I had no wifi signal. Now
I was pretty upset. So I shut down and closed up the laptop and we focused only on the TV. Despite our most hearty efforts, NBC was not to be found.
We sat back on the couch looking at each other trying to figure out what we would do. Go ahead and stick out the night with basically no TV, no internet, no where to hike or even take a walk, or hit the road. This wouldn't be the first time we had bolted from a campground...we had only paid about seventeen dollars for the site...
Grabbing our campground directories, we scanned for the closest ones. We found a place that sounded right up our alley. Cable TV, WiFi, level cement pads...yes, that was the one. So Birmingham, Alabama was the destination and we would decide what we would do the next 3 days. It was less that 10 minutes later we were unhooked and passing by the 3 sitting on the swing.
We hated leaving without saying goodbye, but if we were to make it to the new campground before our show at 8, we had to go. I had planned to call and let them
know there were no hard feelings but later forgot. At least they made a few bucks from us for maybe thirty minutes at their campground.
Since it was going to be close to dark before we would make it to the new campground, I called ahead to secure our reservation and pre-pay for our site. The very helpful lady took our information and told us our check in packet would be on the board by the office when we arrived. Birmingham South Campground had all of the amenities of a KOA.
Our Garmin provided accurate driving directions to Pelham, Alabama, which allowed us to make fantastic time. We made it to the campground with plenty of time to spare. Our check in package was tacked to the board as promised, and we followed the map they provided straight to our site. It was getting rather dark at that point but we had enough light to see to hook up and to also see that this campground was awesome. Beautiful spacious level sites, with gorgeous landscaped grounds, and from our window, an amazing view to boot!!
We watched The Great American Road Trip and I thought it was
worth all of the drama we went through to watch it. The evening was still young and we had no where to rush off to the next morning so we stayed up late watching a movie, had a snack, then turned in. What we had to look forward to was a morning where we could sleep in, wake up to coffee and Headline News then travel at a slower, more enjoyable pace. Monday, October 4th,
we slept in until around 8:00. My coffee tasted especially good that morning and we scanned the atlas as we lounged around. Check out was noon so there was plenty of time to catch up on some web surfing. I even logged on to our grandson's Neopet, which is an online virtual pet, and fed it to keep it alive until we made it home. Just like the real pets, the kids soon lose interest and we are stuck taking care of them!
As we pondered our choices, we decided to drive to The Natchez Trace Parkway and enjoy a leisurely drive then possibly stay at the Natchez State Park.
The Natchez Trace is one of our favorite places of all time.
Hiking along the Historic Old Natchez Trace
This place is amazing and you call feel the presence of travelers that came many, many years ago.
We have traveled almost the entire 444 miles over the past 25 years, with only the northern most part of the drive lacking. The Trace begins in Nashville, TN and ends in Natchez, MS, or visa versa depending on whether you are driving north or south.
By 11:30 am (we gained an hour back), we were crossing the Mississippi State Line and by 2:30 we were hiking along The Natchez Trace. We enjoyed Dean's Stand, the site of the family homestead of William and Margaret Dean, settled in 1823.
Further down the Parkway we took another short hike on part of the original trail utilized by Native American Indians, settlers, and others as a route from the north down to the lower part of the Mississippi River in New Orleans. Farmers and other merchants would float their goods down the River and then make their way back north via the Trace. There are so many interesting and educational things to see that we never get tired of the time we spend on the Trace. Another thing on my Bucket List is to travel from Mile 1 to Mile 444!
When our hike was over we ate a
sandwich and rested a few minutes. Since it was October and not peak tourist season, we saw only a few people that were out hiking around. We did see a couple of bike riders along the way. As we walked along the parts of the sunken trail, with the trees and vines hanging over and blocking most of the afternoon light, I could almost feel an erie presence of travelers from long ago.
As the sun sank further toward the horizon, we made our way to the Natchez State Park. It was nearly 6:00 pm when we pulled through the gate and the guard shack was closed. From past experiences we know to find an open site then call the office the next morning with our credit card information. We have been to Natchez State Park many times and have always enjoyed our stay and as we made the turn into the section we selected, we thought it might be the best stay yet! There was literally one other RV in our section so we chose a site down toward the opposite end.
Our set up was quick enough that we had time for a walk around the
immediate area before it got totally dark. Our TV reception wasn't the best we'd ever had but we did manage to pick up the major networks on our antenna. We lounged around watching TV, ate some supper, watched more TV, showered and hit the sack. We planned to do a good bit of hiking around on Tuesday. Unfortunately there is no canoeing but the weather was too cool for that anyway. On the morning of Tuesday, October 5th,[/b} we embraced the opportunity to sleep in for the 2nd morning in a row. With our grandson in school we have been slowly re-adjusting to the early morning hours Monday through Friday. Randy and I are self-employed and had found ourselves victims of the economy over the past couple of years. I had become rather spoiled sleeping until 8 am almost every morning and I've missed those mornings...
With coffee, showers and other daily activities out of the way, we went for a relaxed walk around the campground. In addition to the 2 seperate campground areas, the park has cabins for rent, fishing, miles of hiking and nature trails, a picnic area, playground, and restroom and shower facilities. Natchez State
Park boasts of a State record breaking Large-mouthed Bass weighing over 18 pounds and was caught in 1992. As you can imagine, that lake is always crowded with hopeful fishermen. We saw more fishermen than anyone else our entire 3 days.
Spiders came in second. We saw so many Banana Spiders throughout the park including several just behind our campsite. Luckily they just hang out in their webs eating bugs. We spent the afternoon watching deer play outside our windows and taking another walk.
An early evening campfire was nice but we didn't sit out long. Supper then some late night TV and finally sleep. Wednesday, October 6th,
we took advantage of our last morning to sleep in. Check-out isn't until noon but we had planned to be on the road long before that time. We straightened up then secured everything for travel. Once we unhooked the water and electric we were ready to pull out sometime around 10 am.
Our ride home was short and sweet with no traffic tie-ups or delays. We made it back to Baton Rouge in time to surprise Landan when we picked him up from school at 3:20.
Deer grazing around our site
The place was so empty, the deer grazed right outside our windows. There were many others around.
my opinion, the 2010 Meet and Greet was a huge success and expect an even larger gathering next year!
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