John and Sandy's RV Adventure Journal

September 2011 Journal

 “On the road” again.  We are heading about 250 miles from Winter Garden FL to Homestead FL.  We are staying at the Boardwalk RV Resort.  We are staying here a few nights before heading down to the keys.  After we got set up, we hung around the cow and did some reading.  Some storms came in so we just had a cow afternoon and evening.

29   This morning we enjoyed coffee outside but we had pine cone cobs falling from the sky.  A squirrel was having his breakfast and dropping the pine cone cobs on us.  This morning we did a little shopping and then headed to the pool in the afternoon to soak up more rays.  We relaxed around the cow and did our pre-departure stuff.

We were up and out around 8am back on the road.  We are heading about 275 miles to Winter Garden Florida near Orlando.  We got in and all set up by 3pm.  It’s about 90 degrees and we are ready for some pool time.  We soaked up some sun for a couple hours then regrouped and went to meet John’s cousin Suzy and husband Larry for dinner at the Catfish Place in Apopka.  We had a great time and were all stuffed when we left.  
27   We are on the road again.  We are making it a long day and going from Pigeon Forge TN to Cordele GA about 380 miles.  We got in and set up at the Cordele Campground and headed for the pool with a couple cocktails.  We found out you really didn’t want to use the pool because it needed a good cleaning.  So we enjoyed our cocktails sitting around the pool and relaxing.  We had an easy dinner and relaxing evening.  We have another long day tomorrow.

   26   Every morning while we’re outside having coffee, we are visited by the local duck family.  They make the rounds through the campground.  Magic and Gypsy likes to watch them from the safety of the cow.  We headed back to Great Smoky Mountain Natl Park today to a different area. The Cherokee Nature Drive.  Along this drive are various trails.  We stopped and hiked the 3 mile Grotto Falls Trail.  It was a nice hike up through the forest to a couple falls.  We continued on the Nature Drive and then headed home after picking up some supplies for our travel day tomorrow.
25   Today we are having a football cow day.  We picked up some snacks so we could munch during the day.  I am getting caught up on our journal, photos and website.

   24   We have another Great Smoky Mountain National Park day.  Today our destination in the park is Clingmans Dome area.  When we started our journey it was overcast and cloudy.  We stopped at an overlook just outside of Gatlinburg at about 1500 feet elevation.  Mt. LaConte at 6593 ft elevation was completely clouded in.  We continued on and stopped at a few overlooks.  All along the way we are climbing in elevation.  We turned a curve and the trees opened up and so did the sky.  It was perfectly blue.
We stopped at another overlook and the clouds were now all below us.  We continued on to Newfound Gap at an elevation of 5046 ft.  This is right along the Appalachian Trail.  Also we are right at the Tennessee and North Carolina borders.  We are still above the clouds and it’s just beautiful.  The trees are really starting to change up here at the higher elevation.  We continued on 8 more miles to the roads end.
Now we are almost at Clingmans Dome elevation 6643 ft.  We hiked the ½ mile up to the summit then to the 360 degree viewing area they have.  The hike doesn’t sound like much but it’s pretty steep and at this elevation you have to take your time.  Along the way we saw a small Corn Snake.  We made it to the top and the viewing area.  The sky is still perfectly blue with just a few clouds.  This is the highest point in Tennessee and the 3rd highest mountain east of the Mississippi.  The highest being 6684 only 39 feet higher.  After relaxing and enjoying the view, I headed back down the path and John took the Forney Ridge Trail back to the parking area.
Now were heading back home.  Along the way we saw a black bear along the road.  We got back to the cow, had a cocktail relaxing outside and a nice dinner. 

23   After finishing a few projects around the cow, we headed to Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  We were here back in 1982 for the Worlds Fair in Knoxville.  We stopped at the visitor’s center in Gatlinburg and got some park info.  Then we stopped at the Sugarland visitor’s center and watched a ½ hour movie about the park.
We headed on the road to Cades Cove.  Along the way we stopped at Laurel Falls for a 3 mile roundtrip hike up to a nice falls.  The leaves in the park are just starting to change color and it’s beautiful.  After our hike we had a few sprinkles, but that’s ok since we are going to take the 11 mile driving loop through Cades Cove.
Back in 1982 we took our bicycles on this road.  The sprinkles stopped, and we had partly cloudy skies which made the trip really pretty.  While on the loop we saw flocks of turkeys, deer’s and a couple black bears. 
We heard about an Old Timers Bluegrass Fest in Townsend and that’s pretty close to where we are, so we headed over to check in out.  It was later in the day and things were winding down, but there was still music on stage.  If you played a string instrument you could join in a jam session.  There were lots of good dancers and most of them had taps on their shoes.  We had a nice day and decided we didn’t want to cook, so we went to Olive Garden for a couple cocktails and dinner.
22   Today we spent fixing a few items on the truck and the cow.  Then we went to the hardware and rv store to pick up supplies.  We stopped at Walmart to follow-up on the bubble on our tire.  We bought these tires 2 years ago today and this was a manufacturing default.  Walmart did give us a deal on new tires due to the default, so we got 4 new tires and picked up some supplies.  When we got home, we were done and just had a relaxing evening.   

This morning we were up and out early.  We are traveling from Cave City KY to Pigeon Forge TN about 250 miles.  Along the way some passing motorist motioned to our rear truck tire.  We pulled over and had a big bubble on the tire.  It was ready to blow out.  We called Good Sam ERS and about an hour later Michael from Tennessee Towing came and was really helpful changing our tire.  We were still hooked up to the cow, so we had to lift the weight off the truck.
We finally made it to Creekside RV Resort in Pigeon Forge.  While we were setting up, the tire was in the back of the truck and finally blew.  We are so glad it didn’t blow while we were driving and towing.  We got all set up and just took a time out. 

We still have rain showers in the area, so for a while in the morning we hung around the cow.  Then the rain stopped and we headed out for some hikes.  First we stopped at the Sand Cave Trail.  This is a short but nice hike.  Then we headed to the visitors center and hiked the River Styx Spring trail connecting to Green River Bluff Trail.  These worked out to be about 3 miles.  The trees are starting to turn to their fall colors.  Along our hike we saw flocks of turkeys and a couple deer.  One deer was right in front of us on our trail.
After our hike we drove to Turnhole Bend to hike that trail.  This is about a 1 mile loop and also brings you to an area that you overlook the Green River.  John wanted a little more hiking and I was done.  So we stopped at the Cedar Sink Trail which is a 2 mile strenuous trail and John headed out and I practiced my harmonica.  We were done and headed home for dinner and to pack up for tomorrows travels.
19   This morning we headed back to Mammoth Cave National Park.  It’s raining pretty hard, but the nice thing is when you go on cave tours the rain doesn’t matter because you’re in a cave!!  The temperature is a constant 54 degrees, so a little sweater works perfect.
We signed up for the Snowball Cave Tour.  This is a 2 mile 3 hour tour.  It’s called the Snowball Tour because you see lots of gypsum formations resembling snowballs and flowers.  It enters at the Carmichael entrance, and then we go 1 mile into the cave along the Cleaveland Avenue route to the Snowball room and then back out the same route.
The Snowball Room is a place to eat with box lunches and picnic tables.  This room has been used as an eating/resting area in the 19th Century.  It’s a mile in from the entrance and 267 feet below the surface.  In the women’s bathroom there was a little bat hanging out so I got a couple pictures of him.  There looks like there is a lot of graffiti on the cave walls.  But these writings go back to the late 19th century and early 20th century.  These were made by holding candles by the wall and then letting the smoke make the writing.
When we were exiting the cave we saw big crickets that like to hang out on the wall in this area.  Some are 6 inches long.  Check out the last stair picture, is this looking up or down?
It’s looking down, but it is like an optical illusion.  Afterwards, it was still raining so we stopped for a few groceries then headed back to the cow to relax.
18   This morning we had a few showers move through our area.  That’s ok, because today is a time-out football day.  We were going to go to a sports bar for the games, but the closest one is about 35 miles away and we do get a couple of games that we wanted to see.  So we are having a football day at the cow.

We took a walk around our campground, and then had coffee outside our rig.  Our neighbor, Michelle stopped over and we talked for a time.  After breakfast, we headed out to Mammoth Cave Natl Park.
Mammoth Cave is the largest known cave system in the world with over 365 miles of surveyed paths and 379 feet deep.  Mammoth Cave is also designated a World Heritage Site.  We headed to the visitors center to check out both the underground cave tours and the above ground hiking trails.
We were going to do a few above ground hikes today, but decided to take the Violet City Lantern Tour instead.  This is a 3 hour, 3 miles tour.  There were 40 people and 10 oil lanterns.  There are no electric lights on this tour, so the entire tour is by the light the lanterns emit.  We entered at the Historic Entrance and exited at the Violet City Entrance.  We saw a few bats on the ceiling and learned a lot about the history of Mammoth Cave.  We had a great guide for this tour.  He has been with the National Park Service at Mammoth Cave since 1969.  So he knows all the stories and adds some humor to his tour.
After the tour we were read for a beer and dinner.  On the way out of the park, we saw multiple herds of deer’s.  Both bucks and does.  Also multiple flocks of huge turkeys.  We drove into Cave City but wanted to explore more and we ended up in Horse Cave City about 5 miles away.  There was a festival going on with vendors, food and music.  We walked through and had some BBQ sandwiches and listened to some good music, but no alcohol at the fest.  That’s ok, we were almost done.  We stopped at Dairy Queen for dessert then headed home.
16   We were up and on the road by 8am.  Red is in recovery mode and we are going to push him hard.  We drove about 425 miles to Cave City Kentucky today.  Red did great and we got all checked in and set up.  Tonight we are just relaxing and taking a time out.

Chuck drove us into Holland to pick up Big Red from the Chevy dealer after his surgery.  He had to have all 8 injectors replaced.  When they were doing the safety check, they noticed his front 2 wheel bearing were really lose and sloppy and they also had to be replaced.  Actually, if the injectors hadn’t failed, we probably would not have found out about the wheel bearings.  That would have been really bad.  Our front tire could have fallen off when we were pulling.  That would have been a major problem and possibly a very bad accident.  So everything happens for a reason.
Chuck had some projects to work on and John and I lounged around the campground in the afternoon.  We all headed over to Clermont Golf Course for drinks and dinner.  Thank you Chuck for all your hospitality!!  We had a great time visiting you, David and Saugatuck.

This morning is chilly and we got our little heater going.  I took some time and got caught up on our journal, map, football picks and other miscellaneous stuff.  Hopefully we will get some good news about Big Red.  Chuck drove us into Holland later in the afternoon.  Chuck needed some supplies and groceries and so did we.  We stopped at the Chevy dealer to check on Red.  We were hoping that Big Red would be out of surgery, but he wasn’t and they found more items that needed to be taken care of.
After picking up supplies and groceries, we stopped at Pipers Restaurant for dinner.  Pipers is right on the waterfront in Holland and a beautiful view.  We had a table right at the window.  Of course we had a couple cocktails then a really nice prime rib dinner.  The nights are getting cold and it’s too cold to sit outside when we got home, so Chuck came over, we listened to music, had some cocktails and played a few games of 3 person jokers. 

Chuck had projects he had to work on and John and I wanted to adventure.  So we headed out on the shuttle to Oval Beach at Lake Michigan.  It is really breezy today and big waves and whitecaps are on the lake.  A cold front is coming in, but it hasn’t arrived yet, so the temperature is still nice.
After a walk up the beach we headed into and up the sand dunes.  John had a really big hike in mind and I didn’t.  So we compromised.  We hiked through the sand dunes and the path just stopped.  So we had to make our own for a while.  We got back to the beach and found a nice log to lean up against, lay out our towels and do some reading while watching nature.
After a while, we called for the shuttle and headed back to the campground.  We were hoping Big Red would be ready today, but still no luck.  We just hope that when he is all fixed up, he’ll be good to go for a while.  Chuck, John and I had some nice appetizers and then a grilled out dinner.  The cold front has arrived and it’s getting chilly, so we all headed in and had an early evening.
12   After a little computer time, John and I relaxed around Chuck’s campsite and did some reading.  Big Red is still in surgery and we found out it’s taking longer than expected.  So we are hunkered down at Chucks for a while longer.  That’s ok; Chuck does a good job at corrupting us.
Early evening the three of us headed into Saugatuck for dinner.  Tonight we went to Mermaids Restaurant.  It’s right on the waterfront, the sun was just setting and it was perfect temperature with a slight breeze.  We had a cocktail inside at the bar first then had a table right along the boardwalk.  Another great dinner. 

   11   A little cool and foggy this morning.  John and I had coffee and played on the computer for a while.  We moved outside to visit with Chuck and David.  The four of us had a big lunch then David had to head home.  Today is the first week of football and John and I wanted to watch the games.  We walked over to Spectators Bar and Grill.  Chuck was going to head for a walk on the beach later on. 

This morning we had coffee with Chuck and David out on the garden patio.  It’s a nice relaxing morning.  I did some catch up on our journal and John did some reading.  Chuck, John and I took a nice walk into Saugatuck and David met us there.  We walked around town and then down along the waterfront and marina area.  With access to Lake Michigan, there are some huge yachts.  We stopped at Wicks Bar and Grill for a cocktail and to check it out.  We may come back later to see Don Middlebrook and Living Soul play.  We saw him for a few minutes over at Del Sol earlier today.
We decided to stop at the store for a couple supplies, then headed back to the campground for some cocktails, appetizers and jokers.  After a lot of appetizers we didn’t need dinner, so we are going to make a large lunch tomorrow.  We played a couple more joker games, then it was getting dark and cool, so we grounded ourselves and John and I watched a little TV.
9   After coffee out on the garden patio with Chuck and David, Chuck, John and I took a walk around the campground.  Chuck gave us the tour and we went down to the lake and saw the ducks and swans, then over to the beach and up to the clubhouse.  We met Judy and Rich which years ago worked down at Lazy Lakes RV Resort as managers.
Big Red is in Holland Michigan getting checked out.  We know it’s a bad problem.  John spoke to the service man and we need all the injectors replaced.  We have to have it done, as right now Red is not able to run at all.  They think it should be done by Monday afternoon.  So Chuck and David are stuck with us for a while.
David was going to meet an old friend for lunch and Chuck took John and me for a tour of Saugatuck and Douglas.  We stopped at Mt. Baldhead and climbed the 302 steps up to the top.  It’s a beautiful view of Saugatuck, Douglas and the surrounding area.  Lake Michigan is right down the sand dune and it’s also a beautiful view of the lake.  After our hike back down the steps, we drove over to Oval Beach which is Lake Michigan.  We drove down Lake Shore Drive and saw all the homes, B&B’s, sand dunes and lakefront.
Then we headed back to the town of Saugatuck and met up with David.  We did some window shopping and checked out the town.  After sampling olive oil we headed for some ice cream.  Now it’s time to head back.  Chuck made some homemade pesto with cheese, sausage and crackers and John had his homemade salsa and crackers and I had some grapes and watermelon so we all had a couple cocktails out on Chucks garden patio and enjoyed some great appetizers.
We’re not done yet.  After regrouping, the four of us headed to Claremont Golf  Course.  We checked out the course and the gardens, and then headed to the bar for cocktail hour.  After a couple cocktails, we got a table and had a great dinner.  Now we are done.  We headed back and we all grounded ourselves.
8   “On the Road Again”!  This morning we were up and packing up to hit the road.  We had a great time in Antioch and got to visit with family and friends, but the road is calling us.  Sandy made us breakfast to go, which is so nice of her to do.  We saw Kenny and said we’ll see him over the winter sometime and we were on the road by around 830am.
Today we are heading to Saugatuck Michigan to visit our buddy Chuck from Lazy Lakes down in the keys.  He has a couple sites he owns at an RV park in Saugatuck.  Things were going great, we missed all the rush hour traffic and we were making good time.
We had just past South Holland Michigan when Big Red our truck started losing power.  We pulled over and noticed we had no oil pressure and our gas tank had went from ½ tank to almost empty.  We called our Good Sam Emergency Road Service which we had used once before.  This time we would need 2 tows however.  They were helpful, but it took a long time to get everything set up.  They had a tow for our truck, but were having a hard time finding one for our fifth wheel.  We called our buddy Chuck, which we were about 20 miles away from and he offered to come and get our 5ver and tow it to his campground, which was our destination.  It was a couple hours total, but the tow truck and Chuck showed up at about the same time.
We unhitched the 5ver from Big Red and John went with them, then we hitched up the cow (our 5ver) to Chuck’s truck and I went with Chuck and David back to the campground.  We got the cow leveled and in place.  Then while David and I started to set it up, Chuck went and got John.  We will find out tomorrow what the problem is with Big Red, but John already knows it’s probably the injectors and that’s not good.  We finally got everything set up around 530pm.
We had a challenging day today and we are very thankful to Chuck and David for them helping us out.  Tonight is the first football game of the season, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints.  Chuck, David, John and I headed over to Spectators Bar and Grill for drinks, dinner and football.  After today, we need a few cocktails and to just chill out.  We stayed for the first half then headed back.  We all grounded ourselves and John and I watched the rest of the game relaxing in the cow.

There is definitely a chill in the air.  What does that mean?  It means it’s about time for the RV Gypsies to hit the road and follow the warm weather.  Our neighbor Susie came by to say “See you later”.  She is planning on coming down to Key West for a few days in March.  Today is our pre-departure day and you know what that means.  Domestic stuff and pack up, then just mellow out.  Rich and Sandy came up to their camper and we had a couple drinks and then headed over to the Landing Bar for drinks and dinner.  Kim met us over there and we saw Huddy and talked to him for a bit.  After dinner, John and I grounded ourselves because we have a travel day tomorrow.

Today a few more people headed home and the campground is quite.  We are starting to pack up to get ready to get “On the road again”.  I worked on some bills, campground research, our journal, pictures and website.  We headed out to meet our friends Jim and Diane for dinner.  We will see them again in just about 2 months down in Key West for Meeting of the Minds (MOTM).   

It’s a cold morning around 42 degrees.  We had coffee outside and slowly people started emerging from there campers.  Some had to head home and others migrated by us.  We ended up having an impromptu potluck and playing some bags.  We had a few of us head out on the golf carts to the point for sunset.
4   This morning about 20 of us met in the hotel restaurant for brunch.  It’s the last time we’ll see everyone on this trip.  We dropped off the tuxedo and drove back to the campground.  There was a big group out on the chain doing a boat run, so the campground was pretty quite.  We hung around and visited with a few that were around.
Luckily we stayed around.  Our water filter housing sprung a leak and we had some water to clean up and John had to go get a new housing.  We got it all fixed and people were returning from the boat run.  Mark and Heidi had a fire, so we hung out there for a while, but we were tired and it was getting cold, so we headed in.
3   Congratulations Katie and Kirk!!  Today is the Big Day!  John and I had the whole day so first we went to the pool for some reading, swimming and relaxing in the hot tub.  Then another place we wanted to go in Chicago is Portillos for lunch.  It’s about the time Lynn, her Mom Judy and our nieces and nephews were going to be at the gazebo to decorate, so we headed over to help.  When we were done, we all had to go get ready for the wedding.
John and I got all dressed and met Kirk, Will and Frank in the hotel lobby.  We all took the limo over to the Glendale Lakes Golf Course and had some time over there.  We had a couple cocktails while we were waiting for the Katie and the other guests to arrive.  The sky is looking ominous and there are thunderstorm warnings out, but so far we’ve only had a few light rain showers.  The rain let up and the clouds broke up just as everything was getting started.
John, Katie and Stacey took the limo over to the park and it was a beautiful ceremony under the gazebo and archway.  We were able to get a few pictures afterward before the rain came back.  Everyone headed over to the golf course for the reception.  Katie and Kirk have a photo booth for a few hours so everyone was having goofy photos taken inside.  We got a lot of great pictures and had a great meal, lots of dancing and were able to visit with lots of family and friends we haven’t seen in a while.
After the reception we took the shuttle back to the hotel and I went down to the bar to meet up with Katie and Kirk and a few others.  John grounded himself to the room.  It was a beautiful wedding and we are very happy for Katie and Kirk.
2   This morning we lounged around the cow and packed for a couple days away.  We had to make another stop at the tuxedo place before driving down to Carol Stream to the Holiday Inn.  We decided to stay 2 nights at the hotel so we didn’t have to do lots of driving.  We stopped for lunch at White Castle.  While were in Chicago we have a few things to do and White Castle is one of them.  We headed over to the park across from Glendale Lakes Golf Course for rehearsal for the wedding tomorrow.  Afterwards we headed to Katie and Kirks for dinner of Chinese.

1   Today we finished up some projects and did some laundry.  Then we headed to pick up Johns Tuxedo for Katie and Kirks wedding.  John is giving Katie away.  We got back, had some dinner and went to the Landings Bar to meet up with some campground friends.  The Landings is adjacent to the campground so we walk there.  Since a long holiday weekend is coming up, some people took off work tomorrow and came up today.  There was quite a crowd and we had a great time.