Saturday, May 27, 2006

Twilight Tattoo - Jefferson Memorial D.C.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone!
We've been incredibly busy, but I want to make
sure to get these photos posted for you.

Last Wednesday evening, we went to see the
Fife & Drum Corp perform at the Twilight Tattoo
at the Jefferson Memorial.

The Tattoo comes from a 300 year old tradition of British troops
being summoned to return to their barracks by the call of bugles
and drums.

Now the United States Army Military District of Washington presents
this show to the public every year, on a series of Wednesday evening

We had special permission to accompany the Corp on their bus,
leaving from Fort Myer. We joined our daughter Brooke at their

Then we boarded their bus for the short drive into D.C. Nice ride!

This is our third Tattoo. Previously, they've always performed
on the Elipse in front of the White House. This year the venue
has been moved to the Jefferson Memorial. It makes for a dramatic
backdrop with the Washington Monument and White House in view, but
there is far less seating (on the steps of the Memorial).

If you're heading to Washington D.C. and would like to attend
in the next few weeks, be sure you get there before 6:30 p.m.
to nab a seat. The crowds have been so large, they've had to
turn people away.

The view from the bridge into Washington shows the top of the Jefferson over
the trees...

The Tattoo involves the Army Blues jazz band, singers, the FDC,
drill team, horses, flags from all 50 states...bascially it is
a mini-pagent that speaks to the history of the Army and all the
armed services and their defense of our country.

The Old Guard Fife and drum Corps is the only unit of its
kind in the United States Armed Forces. They are the Army's
official ceremonial unit and escort to the President.

When we arrived at the parking area, the fifers and
buglers separated to warm up before their performance...


And Buglers...

Members of the Drill Team were also preparing...

A casual moment with Brooke and Mark before we had
over to the Memorial...

Friend and fellow Fifer, affectionately known as "Kick-It",
merges history with the present! One if by land, Two if by sea?

Their approach to begin is from both sides
of the performance area. Here are the buglers standing
at the ready...

The FDC memorizes hundreds of pieces of music, that coordinates
with complex marching patterns. They also employ the original
marching style, which is quite formal and considerably
more strenuous than traditional marching.

We sat back and enjoyed (though I admit to tears
in my eyes as they accompanied our flag).

Brooke in her full regalia of the Colonial uniform. They
maintain a serious face throughout every performance!

The Drill Team is always impressive too...

I even managed to capture one of their many rifle
tosses! See it in the air over their heads?

History merges into today's challenges. This fierce warrior
cracked a small smile for the photo (but we won't tell!)

Even horses get into the act...

And the FDC helps close out the show with
the flags from all 50 states and territories...

The sun was setting as we walked back
to the bus. Beautiful views of the Potomac...

The Washington Monument at sunset is a site to behold.
Look very closely at the top of the monument. Can you
see the tiny red dot of light? There are two red lights
that blink in the monument at night. See if you can
find them...

I especially love this shot of the Washington Monument.
It seems a fitting way to end today's travel post.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mt. Vernon Visit

We went on a trip to Mt. Vernon to see how our nation's
first president lived "back in the day". Such a gorgeous
location on the banks of the Potomac River. It's hard to
believe so much history took place in this exact spot.

No photos allowed inside the home, but it was quite
impressive, even today. What do you suppose it was like
to arrive on this circular drive in your carriage?

The graceful arched porch connects the servant's
quarters to the main house.

The view from the front of the house across the expansive grounds.
At one time, Washington owned 8,000 acres here, with 5 farms. He
was one of the wealthiest farmer/politicians of the times.

My favorite part of the home was the covered back porch. This
must have been a lovely spot to sit on a warm afternoon to
admire the peaceful view.

Perhaps they had afternoon tea on the porch.

Walking through the main area of the house, you emerge
on another connecting porch to continue on to the kitchen.

The grounds have clusters of buildings, each with it's
own unique purpose. Here's the "wash house" where the
slaves worked six days a week washing clothes with lye soap.
What a horrible job that must have been. We found it
rather disconcerting to know our first president owned over
150 slaves. Washington eventually freed his slaves, but they
toiled for over 20 years in servitude first.

First the washing...

Then the ironing.

The smokehouse held all those famous Virginia hams, as well
as bacon and other smoked meats. It was built without windows
to discourage thieves from raiding the bounty within, though
the story goes that one enterprising person pried a plank off
the side to steal their "victuals".

This impressive carriage belonged to the former mayor of Philadelphia.
It reminds me of a Cinderella story!

How about this chair carriage? There were several
of these in the carriage house.

Extensive stables and corrals housed the horses and mules.
Notice the very uncomfortable looking saddles!

We walked the paths of the hilly grounds to locate the original
tomb where George and Martha Washington were interred. Washington
left instructions in his will regarding the "inappropriate" placement
of this surprisingly modest tomb. Per his instructions, in the mid 1800's, a new
tomb was built in his specified location, and their remains were relocated.

This is where George and Martha Washington now rest. The sarcophagus
to the right is where the President lies. The original plan was for
them both to be interred (see the dark door in the center of the photo?)
but their new "homes" were too large to fit through the door. So they
now bear the inquisitive inspection of each passing tourist.

Can you see the shadowed image of the memorial wreath in the center?

This was the most somber and disturbing stop on our tour.
A short distance from Washington's tomb was a small sign
pointing towards the "slave burial grounds". A quiet clearing
in the woods, there is not one single gravestone or marker to
indicate where any of the slaves were buried. In fact, it is only
through verbal accounts, and an old map from 1860 that they have
been able to determine the approximate area where more than 150
slaves are buried. Even Washington's personal servant was buried
here, with no marker whatsoever. We found this very disturbing to
contemplate and did our best to pay our respects in silent tribute.
There are several plaques erected now, in some small attempt to
acknowledge the vast oversights of history. I thought it
interesting to note that of all the historical outbuildings represented,
there was no evidence of slave quarters. Perhaps there are those who
would rather not acknowledge this painful aspect of our history.

From here we hiked down to the river. There are boats that
will take you out on the Potomac for a 45 minute tour if you like.

Washington was quite a scientific farmer, constantly striving
to improve the soil and conserve natural resources. The round building
in the distance is the threshing barn.

Here's the threshing barn.

Washington created the 16-sided barn as a way to separate the wheat from the chaff, and gather straw. Horses walked the circular structure round and round, with the wheat sheaves being thrown under their feet. Slatted floors allowed the grain to fall through to the floor below where it was gathered into sacks. An innovative idea, but the threshing machine followed within 2 years, rendering Washington's idea to the past. Interesting to note that one of the reasons Washington did not want something mechanizes is because one of the ways slaves "voiced" their displeasure was to break their tools. Apparently Washington thought this method of threshing would sidestep that issue.

The view from the door of the threshing barn, looking back towards
the Potomac River. In Washington's day, this area was a swamp. The
threshing barn is an exact replica of the original building, which was
destroyed in the mid-1800's.

Last stop...wildlife! Rusty checks out Ram Power up
close. This wooly fellow was actually butting the wood
fence by Rusty's head!

But all was calm when we gave him a back scratch.
He seemed to like this just fine!

Tomorrow we'll be visiting the Jefferson Memorial for the
Fife and Drum Corp's Twilight Tattoo. Hoping to get some
great pix for you! See you then...

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Cats Meow...

Thought you might get a laugh out of this creative
"cat house" on a rig in the park.

Guess there's more than one way to "skin
a cat" when it comes to keeping your
pets happy in an RV. ;0)

And no, they don't ride
there when the rig is on the road! The box is placed in an open
window in the motorhome when they are parked.

Fife And Drum Corp Moment

We've been busy visiting with our daughter
this week. Today we went onto the post at
Fort Meyer to see what is called a "small show"
by the Fife and Drum Corp.

It was difficult to get good photos in the
event hall, due to low lighting, but here's a few...

After they perform, the FDC likes to mix and
mingle with the audience. While Fife and Drum
corps are not so prevalent in the West, on the
East Coast they enjoy a certain "celebrity" with
their enthusiastic followers.

This presentation was for a group of school kids
from Kentucky, who were enthralled with their
up close and personal look at the musical soldiers
of the FDC.

There is always great curiosity about their
authentic uniforms, true to the history of
the past.

Our daughter Brooke (minus her white wig and
Tricorn hat!) plays a tune for some of the kids...

Pretty Brookie and her fans!

Duet with her fellow fifer is a crowd pleaser...

An FDC drummer answers questions about his handmade drum.

As we walked back to the FDC headquarters, we passed
the Caissons preparing for a funeral at Arlingtion National

The horses are prepared for their somber assignment...

To bear their precious cargo in the same wagon
that has carried past presidents and fallen heroes...

This pair await their turn another day.

After our visit, we went to the Shirlington district
for lunch at Carlyle's...

With our "fifer" Brooke, and her friend Mark,
a bugler in the FDC (that means he plays trumpet
in the "real world!")

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Urban Surprises

Very close to Cherry Hills is a county park with a wonderful
walking-running-biking path. We'll be walking here every day
weather permitting. It's quite a surprise to find this amazingly
natural place in the midst of the frantic pace of the D.C. area.

The wide paved path follows a creek. You can almost forget
how much "in the city" you are here.

Sturdy pedestrian bridges cross the creek...

Along the way you walk through open field areas, and next
to a golf course. We were surprised to find a marshy area with
these wild iris in bloom...

And plenty of birds, including this heron...

And these Canadian Geese who were undoubtedly guarding
a nesting female. They kept an eye on us, and voiced
a continuous verbal alarm system!

We walked all the way to the University of Maryland before
we turned back, and still had miles of trail we could follow
if we wanted to continue. All in all, a very pleasant 4-1/2 mile
walk. We're happy to have a nice place to get our exercise while
we're here!

Cherry Hills RV Park - Outskirts of Washington DC

We emerged from Shenandoah National Park in Front Royal, VA, only to find
there was NO cell phone service whatsoever there.

Since I need to be back in communication for my work, we drove
on to Manassas, VA for the night, staying in the parking lot of
the Elk's Lodge.

The Elk's Lodge is very close to Camping World, and a Wal-Mart that
does allow overnight parking in their huge parking lot.

Special thanks to "Wolfgang" the Elk's Lodge chef who welcomed
us warmly upon our arrival. An hour or so later, he appeared at
our door, with two plates brimming with his handiwork...roast pork
loin, scalloped potatoes, green beans with herbs, and a warm roll.

We were stunned, surprised, and so appreciative of his generosity!
We highly recommend the Manassas Elk's Lodge!

But we needed to wash clothes, and the weather is forecast for
rain and storms, so we decided to move on to Cherry Hills RV
Park for our stay in the D.C. area.

We had a huge storm that Wednesday night, complete with tornado
warnings all around us, so we were glad to be settled in.

Usually we stay at the Fairfax Elk's Lodge when we're here, but
they are buried in the trees, making it very "iffy" for our
satellite signal, plus they have a huge swap meet in their parking
lot every Sunday, which we have found to be a monumental hassle
in the past.

This is our third trip to Cherry Hills, in College Park, Maryland.
It's not cheap ($47 a night), but it is rather remarkable to find
such a park in range of the D.C. area.

They have big rig sites, are extremely friendly and accommodating
(they even allow you to wash your rig in your site), and it's
only a mile or so from the Metro stop. We're also located very close to
a Target, Home Depot, Ikea, two large grocery stores, Trader Joe's, and Costco.
Everything we need!

We easily fit into one of their large sites. They also have pull-thrus,
but those are reserved for visits of 4 days or less. Since we'll be here until
the end of the month, we're happy with this site...

The sites are surprisingly spacious, considering where we are. Here's
the view up the road from our campsite. Plenty of room.

A few more views around the park...

This is the "convention center" where the pools, hot tubs, laundry, and showers are.

We're here to see our daughter Brooke, who is in
the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corp.

She's stationed at Fort Myer, which houses the Old Guard Museum. It's the
only Army museum in the D.C. area, and chronicles the history of the Old
Guard, the oldest U.S. Army infantry regiment. The regiment is considered
to be the escort to the President, and includes the tomb walkers for the Tomb
of the Unknown Soldier, the Drill Team, and the Caissons as well. It's also
where Arlington National Cemetery is. Brooke will be participating in
"flags out" on Memorial Day, when they place an American Flag on every single
gravesite in the cemetery.

We're very proud of our "musician soldier" who plays the fife in the FDC.
She has a degree in flute performance, and is an accomplished musician who
plays flute, Irish wooden flute, piccolo, and fife. We're looking forward to
seeing the FDC perform again this year in their "Twilight Tattoo", a popular
show every springtime. They usually perform in front of the White House,
but this year are performing at the Jefferson Memorial, so that should be fun.
We'll be sure and post lots of photos of that for you!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Magic of the Road!

This is a 100% unretouched photo of our rig on the
road today. Isn't this incredible?? Magical things
happen when you hit the road in your RV!

Last Day in Shenandoah National Park

Another sunny day today! We decided to stay until checkout at noon,
because the weather is forecast to become rainy again by tomorrow.
We walked up to the Lodge for a bowl of oatmeal.

Tastes so much better with a splendid view!

Then we hiked up to the viewpoint by the Lodge...

Then we walked on a nature trail where we encountered
these curious girls...

Rusty is amazingly calm, cool, and collected, and the deer seem very interested
in him as well.

Then it was time to check out of the campground and be on
our way. But first, here's a view down Loop C in the campground.
There are tons of empty sites here right now. No hookups, $19.50 a
night, half price with Golden Age or Access.

Skyline Drive - Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park "Phone Booth"

This is how we made phone calls on our cell phone while we were here...
By driving to a pull out where we could nab a signal! The views are
so big, we look like a toy truck in this photo, don't you think?

Monday was kind of a lost day. We drove on in more crummy weather
and pea soup pockets of fog. We were pushing on to the Big Meadow
Campground in Shenandoah National Park. The fog got so bad I could barely
see two feet in front of the truck, and we slowed to a crawl. Good thing
too, because we must have encountered more than 40 deer in the last few
miles, and they were ALL standing in the middle of the road! I'd see a shadowy
form and it would be a deer...never alone, but always with a few more.

We later learned that there is so much salt accumulation on the roads from winter, that when the roads are wet, the deer gather on the roads to lick up the salt.

It was really a dangerous situation and we were very glad to reach the
campground. Somehow I navigated us into a pull through buried in the trees
in the encroaching foggy darkness and rain. No satellite, no cell phone
reception, but we did get a good night's sleep!

Tuesday was a beautiful day, so away we went. After a hike to the Lodge for
breakfast, the next thing we did was search out another campsite where we could get a satellite signal (still no cell phone though).

Who says you can't stay in National Parks with a big rig??
(Can you see Rusty in the doorway?)

We drove into the town of Elkton to pick up propane and buy fuel
($2.77 a gallon,the best price we've found in quite a while).
Some pretty views along the way, now that we could see them without fog.

In the afternoon, we walked several miles in the "big meadow" across from
the campground. Lots of deer were grazing, and a multitude of tiny flowers
are getting ready to bloom.

It's a totally different feeling to walk through the meadow. In the 1930's
the Conservation Corp had a camp here.

Tiny flowers starting to bloom in the meadow.

One more day here, and then it's on to Washington D.C. area.

Final Miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway

We left our campsite on Sunday morning. The day was foggy,
grey, and rainy. Saw lots of wildlife though...owls, wild turkeys,
deer, rabbits, and a red tailed hawk. We stopped along the way
to check out the new Appalachian Music Center, which looks like
it will be a wonderful asset to the area. They plan to have
weekly outdoor concerts here all summer.

There are several additional buildings for workshops and presentations.

It was pouring rain so we didn't walk further, but this is the
back side of the outdoor ampitheater. They've already had Ricky Skaggs
perform here.

We drove on, but took a break at this Blue Ridge Visitor's Center to
see the re-created farm.

All of the buildings are authentic, but were moved here from various mountain locations in the 1950's. Here's the main cabin...

I wonder what it was like to call this place home so long ago?
This was their root cellar and "refrigerator".

A cozy barn for the livestock...

The foggy day lends a moody feel to our walk.

We ended our sloppy travel day at a Wal-Mart close to the
Parkway in Roanoke, VA. Next we transition onto Skyline Drive
in Shenandoah National Park.

A Bridge Too High!

Blogger has been broken for a few days, so now
I'll be catching you up on what we've been UP to...
starting with this freaky bridge!

We succumbed to a "tourist" moment and drove up
to Grandfather Mountain to walk on this suspension bridge.

Don't try driving up it in an RV though. The hairpin turns were challenging
for our big truck, and the length limit is 28 feet. I think that's
still a bit generous, considering the tightness of these curves!

The view is spectacular though...

The wind was whipping at the top of the mountain, making
the approach to the bridge worthy of a few nervous thoughts.
Notice it says "swinging", and it does! Of course, this
sign didn't exactly make me feel better...

But we came to walk it, and by golly walk it we did! The wind
in the cables makes an eerie sound, so not only does it swing, it SINGS...

I tried not to look out the sides...

I'll just follow these folks!

Made it across and back again. Here comes Ron behind me.
Notice Rusty's uneasy look over the side? He didn't like this bridge one
little bit and just wanted to get Ron safely across it.

This bridge is so high, the plants around it feel like
you're in an alpine meadow. Don't know what these are, but
they were pretty, don't you think?

So, we did our touristy thing, survived, and are happy to get
back to admiring the views and hiking the trails.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Lunch With Louise

After our hike, we headed here...

We ate dinner here last night in the tiny village of Linville, NC
and enjoyed it so much, we came back for more!

The restaurant has been here since 1936. Besides yummy homecooked
food, it's claim to fame is that the place straddles three counties!
Your food is cooked in one county...served in another...and you pay
in a third...all without leaving the building. Little blue signs
like this point out which county you're sitting in while you dine.

It's a cozy little "down home" kind of place.

And the heart of the place is "Famous Louise" herself!
She patted her hair and protested a bit, but still let me take
her photo. She had just finished making a batch of jams and
jellies to send to her grandson in Iraq.

The window sills are lined with the "stained glass" jams
and jellies Louise makes.

Ron had the fresh trout(complete with hush puppies!)...

and I had broiled chicken (with absolutely delicious baked apples!)

Everything is made from scratch, and tastes incredibly good!
Such reasonable prices sure to stop in if you're in
the neighborhood.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Day 3 Hiking

We drove up the road to the Visitor's Center to hike up to Linville Falls.
This gorgeous Dogwood was in bloom outside the door.

At the center, were surprised to learn that our campground is
the ONLY campground open on the Parkway right now!

We'll make alternative plans just in case.
In the meantime, we're ready for our hike!

As we crossed the bridge over the Linville River...

we waved hello to this angler, fishing for Trout.

The trail is so beautiful...birds chirping everywhere, and the heady
scent of pine needles.

The trail yields many small treasures along the way...

The river becomes more insistent as we trek...

And rushing water hints of things to come.

Rusty likes dipping his paws in!

Idyllic views at every turn.

Even a tiny miracle on the wing...

Ron and Rusty journey on. Rusty is doing a spectacular
job of guiding Ron over the uneven terrain.

Including steep stairs...

Uneven steps...

Up the stairs...

Even through narrow passage ways sliced between two boulders...

and UP again!
Rusty concentrates to make sure he keeps Ron safe.

We're almost there!

And it's soooooo worth it!

Can you see the river far below?

The forest is blooming with tiny hybrid rhododendrons.
The big rhodies are budding, but not quite ready to
burst forth yet. It will be absolutely eye-popping when they do!

We climbed higher yet, for the final views of the falls...

Rusty admires the view too!

Ron and Rusty rest a spell...

While I check out the flowers!

This delicate blossom is a forest jewel...

Fallen to earth from the laden branches...

Back down the mountain we go, encountering this little
hut to protect hikers on a rainy day.

When we went inside, the walls were covered with greetings
and proclamations of love. We discovered another Tina from
from "who knows where" had left her mark in the structure!

Rusty and I share a final viewpoint...

We loved our hike this morning and are ready for lunch.
A delicate Trillium bids us farewell.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Day 3 Early Morning

Imagine our excitement when we awoke to the SUN coming
up! Hooray! Here's one of the empty campsites with the
sun filtering through. Smells so good and piney.
A fast walk around the campground reveals all
manner of RVing...there are 2 teensy Casitas here...

And here's how it all begins with RVing! The Boy Scouts arrived
in force last night. Here's their encampment in the
group camping area...

The campground has beautiful meadow areas...

As well as this peaceful river...

I was surprised to find these tiny little shells scattered
on it's banks, just like the beach!

Looks inviting, but no swimming allowed!

We could hear it's song when were going to sleep last night.

I especially love seeing the wildflowers in bloom, don't you?

The dogwoods are gracing us with their gifts as well...

And here's a little reminder that
"We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto!" :-)

OK, that's it for the early-bird report.
We've had our oatmeal and toast, and are off to find
the waterfalls. More later today!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Blue Ridge Parkway - Day 2

Had to wash clothes and get some groceries, so we didn't
get moving until noon...VERY unusual for us! We're cursed
with rainy weather, but it's still very pretty. We're finding
the Blue Ridge Parkway is kind of like leaving the "real world"
behind. We're not seeing too much traffic either. Here's the
visitor's center at the highest point on the Parkway...

Lots of parking since the traffic is still very light.

There are huge views from both sides of the road...

Then we drove on for a slow 50 miles to our campground.
Many of the campgrounds at the higher elevations are still
closed, but there were plenty of places at Linville Falls.
This is a National Park Service campground, so with Ron's
Golden Access, we are paying just $8.00 a night! No hookups,
but that's just fine with us.

There were only 2 long pull-thrus like this, so we were happy to
nab this one. No cell phone service, but a good clear shot for our
satellite, so we have TV and Internet. Isn't that cool?

"A river runs through it" right in the campground. Looks
like good fishing, since the other campers all seem to have
fishing poles outside their rigs.

We're just a mile from the Linville Falls Visitor's Center,
which is a jumping off point for a number of hikes to
two different waterfalls. We're really hoping the rain lets
up (we had a HUGE thunder storm soon after we arrived). We
drove up by the visitor's center, where we saw this pretty
scene from the parking lot.

It's still raining, but I love the sound of rain on the
roof of the RV at night. Such a cozy way to go to sleep.
See you tomorrow!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Blue Ridge Parkway - Day 1

Spent the morning taking care of business, but finally went
on a drive to figure out our journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We started by heading over to the Folk Art Center, which along
with original Appalachian art, houses the information center for
the Parkway...

Lots of beautiful art and crafts inside.

I treated myself to three pairs
of handmade earrings...wood, glass, and tiny beads. Pretty!

Once we looked over the pamphlets and brochures, we realized we
had somehow missed 100 miles of the Blue Ridge yesterday! Uh oh!
Since it was only 5:30 p.m. we decided what the heck...and set out
to backtrack in the truck so we'd cover every mile. The views started
right away...

Even though we had rain this afternoon, we began to get
the experience the full spectrum of the Parkway.

There are lots of pullouts along the way.

And wild flowers starting to bloom.

And it kept getting better as we climbed to
over 6,000 feet elevation...

Isn't this gorgeous?

Almost magical...

But right after I took these pictures, something
TERRIBLE happened. My camera battery DIED!! Arrgghh!!
We continued on to the most breathtaking views of
all, with trees in full flower and a cascading
waterfall. I'm soooooo sorry we couldn't get any
photos! Oh well. We'll make up for it in the next
few days as we continue our journey.

See you soon!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We're Goin' To Carolina...

But first let me introduce you to Calvin.

Calvin is a very nice man who works at Sam's
Club in Hiram. Before we left this morning, he happened to
be working in the parking lot close to our rig. He asked me
a few questions, and before he knew it, he was having the grand
tour of our fifth wheel and truck!

Turns out Calvin would LOVE to go RVing, but just hasn't quite
known where to begin. I coaxed him into posing with the truck,
so he could show is wife what he'd like to do with their
retirement! So this one's for you Calvin...go for it!! :0)

We left in a flurry of waving good-bye and full blown
toots from our BIG truck horn, much to Calvin's entertainment.

Then it was on through North Georgia and into North Carolina.
Drove further then we anticipated today, all the way to the
outskirts of Asheville, where we'll be hanging out for a few
days to catch up on our laundry and other odds and ends.
First stop was the visitor's center in North Carolina, where you
can get a feel for things to come with our Blue Ridge Parkway

The flowers are blooming...

So we lingered for lunch, and checked our email from
the parking lot...

Then we took a little walk. So nice to
see the rhododendrons in bloom.

Here's another view...

This is from the deck of the visitor's center. See our fifth wheel?
We're hoping our whole Blue Ridge journey is this sparsely populated!

We're staying at the Rutledge Lake RV Park in Fletcher, NC.

It's pleasant enough as RV parks go, but to tell you the
truth, it seems more like Rutledge POND than a lake. But
it's clean and tidy, and we have a nice spot that looks out
onto the very short "nature trail".

Pretty pricey park at almost 40 bucks a night. Unfortunately, there
isn't any place to walk without going in circles in the campground, or
driving someplace else. But it serves it's purpose as a place to regroup
and it's nice and quiet.
Here's a few more views from our campsite.

But get a load out of this--speaking of pricey, it's
a solid gold event if you want to dump your holding
tanks here! Yikes!!

Crazy this is! Two nights here will be more than enough,
and we'll be ready to move on.

Tomorrow we're going to explore the section of the Blue Ridge from
Cherokee to here, and stop in at the Forest Service Office in Asheville.
Now THAT's our kind of camping!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Camp Sam's Club

The Wal-Mart alternative, Sam's Club! Right next
door to the Home Depot we have permission to stay
in the corner of the parking lot in Hiram, Georgia.

Yesterday was a looooonnng driving day, 425 miles from
St. Augustine to here, just outside of Atlanta.

We've stopped to see my friend and fellow copywriter,
Pam Marshall. We had a wonderful visit at her
lovely home.

This was quite a special occasion, because today I learned
that not only is Pam an ace copywriter...she is a former
Calf Scramble Queen!!

If you're like me, you are feeling overwhelmed with
emotion over this enticing detail. I don't know
what a "calf scramble" is...but royalty is royalty,
especially in the South! :-) And this is fuel for
considerable teasing and generally obnoxious comments
for a very long time, which is always a GOOD thing!

We had a fun visit with Pam and her family, and Rusty
had a blast with "Nyx", Pam's amazingly smart and charming
dog. They ran and cavorted together in the huge back
yard and had a grand time.

Here's the furry kids recovering from their play date...

Tomorrow we're heading north and slowing down (finally!) as
we approach our first trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We're
looking forward to it! The flowers are supposed to be blooming
by the first of next week.

We think we'll get to use our new vented catalytic heater for the first
time since the Parkway climbs to about 4,000 feet. We like having a
vented heater, since it is much safer and keeps me from worrying!

Ron did a beautiful job of installing it, as you can see.
We had a Mexican woodworker build the frame for us in

Ready to roll for the Blue Ridge Parkway! Stay tuned...