We are finally ready to begin our summer trip. Since the camper repairs were not done on time, we cancelled our reservations to the Grand Canyon and Utah. Instead, we will visit the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Washington D.C. and return home on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We should return home around August 1 for the beginning of school. We will post our pictures on Flicker. I will send you an invitation to join our group and view any pictures we have taken (when I figure out how to do that). Sunday afternoon we will stop in the KOA campground in Rocky Mount, NC. Monday, we should reach Ocracoke Island campground. We are not sure about updating our family website. If we do, I will let you know.Sunday, June 8, 2008-Rocky Mount NC
We made it to Rocky Mount NC and stayed in a KOA campground. They have full utilities and that makes the trip a lot easier. The
temps reached 100 degrees here. We will leave for the Outer Banks tomorrow. The campground at Ocracoke has no water, electric
or sewer hookups. We bought a small generator to provide some electric power and have filled the water tank. It's a great
campground with a distant view of the ocean. The breeze from the ocean is cool and relaxing. We will hang out there for a week or
so and then decide where to go next. (Update) When planned to camp at the OBX, I mistook Ocracoke CG for Frisco CG. In 2002, we
actually stayed in Frisco, but I didn't realize it until we got to the OBX.
Sue did not sleep well last night due to her allergies. She was tired today. Tonight is a Nyquil night for her. The camper is great and very relaxing for us. Much more room than the previous unit. No pics yet posted to Flicker.
Today, we arrived at the KOA at Cape Hatteras in the early afternoon. The smoke for a local wildfire was blowing over the OBX. We
were told it was not present the last several days, and it can change as the wind direction shifts. Now, it seems to be gone. The temps
are in the lower 90's and the predictions for later in week are for the mid to low 80's. We will stay here tonight and perhaps tomorrow
night. Tomorrow, we will drive to the three national seashore campgrounds and pick out a new campground. With the Golden Age
Passport, we can stay there for $10 per night. We love our camper (Sue) and truck (Bob).
Burt, the Hartneys are going to collect our mail. Their granddaughter, Cathryn, was in my second grade math class several years ago. I think they are going to have her collect our mail during the days that she visits. Thanks for keeping an eye on the house. You, Jenny, Rob and my sister are recognized by Protection One to have access to the house.
No new pics on Flicker yet.
Today we decided to stay another night at the KOA in Hatteras. We drove to two national park campgrounds to decide were we
wanted to set up home. We liked the campground at Frisco better. There are high bluffs in the back of the campground that overlook
the Atlantic and have incredible breezes. We have to get lucky tomorrow and find an empty site. Otherwise, we will set up at a lower
site and try to move up when someone moves. The campground at Hatteras Lighthouse was great, but was unoccupied. The showers
were locked and the trails to the seashore were closed. Tomorrow we will move up the road about 20 miles and set up.
There is no cellular coverage in Frisco campground and we will be without cell phone coverage. We will go to town and check each day. If you call, please leave a message.
Down at the beach today, there were two boys in their teens surf fishing. They were following a school of small fish that were breaking water just off shore. They tried their best to catch a fish, but sometimes were knocked down by the surf. I remembered how I used to want to catch a fish and tried to point to where the school was swimming. They didn't catch anything but kept trying and qualify as true fishermen.
Early this morning, about 6:00, when the sun came up, Bob walked to the beach.
Today we arrived at Frisco Campground on Hatteras Island. There is a high bluff over looking the campground with the ocean
beyond. We were not able to find a site high on the bluff, but we did locate one near the ridge. The view is not as open as the other
sites, but the breeze is comfortable. After we set up, we relaxed and Sue took two naps and caught up on her sleep. We had steaks
on the grill with corn on the cob and tomatoes. We were able to get a cell connectionf rom our site, perhaps because we are up high
and near the signal from the local town. There are no cell towers in national parks or wild life refuges.
Tomorrow we will take some walks, enjoy the beach and relax. The generator seems to work well and provides an adequate electrical supply. There is not enough power for air conditioning, but everything else seems to work. It has a one gallon capacity and we will see if it makes it through the night. We have ceiling exhause fans to cool the camper and they run on battery power. The generator charges the battery and operates small electrical appliances. We don't need much, but the exhaust fans make a big difference. The temps are getting cooler, but the humidity near the ocean is high.
This morning we drove to Pea Island north of Frisco campground. It is a national wildlife refuge. We saw the visitor center and walked
on the Charles Kuralt Trail. This trail surrounds a fresh and salt water marsh that is a protected area for migratory birds. After that
we stopped at several shops and bought some supplies. I needed a funnel for fueling the generator. I also bought the typical tourist
tee shirts with the Outer Banks on them. I have always wanted a shirt with the OBX logo, but they are copyright protected and are
not put on tee shirts. I will keep looking. Sue bought a beach umbrella and some beach towels.
We came back to the camper and relaxed. I tried to upload pictures to Flicker, but my Internet connection is too slow. We are lucky to be able to connect here and send email. I will upload later when we are in a place with a stronger signal.
We renewed our site through next Sunday. We may stay here or go on to the campground near the Hatteras lighthouse. When we first looked at it, there were no campers and the showers were locked. This morning I asked the ranger and she said it has been closed due to flooding. It is now partially open. The open areas are to the far end and the showers are open there. However, the trails to the beach are permanently closed. The camping area is flat with a nice breeze and no neighbors.
The temperatures finally broke and did not reach over 90 degrees. Nighttime temps were in the high 60's. Great sleeping weather. Just a little humid. Tonight we will have salmon and corn on the cob from the grill.
Yesterday evening, we met the wicked ranger from the west. Our campsite has enough depth for our camper, but not the truck. I had
to park the truck perpendicular to the camper and parallel to the road. It so happened that the two back tires of the truck rested on
sand, not asphalt like the two front tires. The other rangers had no problem with that. However Elizabeth stopped by the camper and
informed me that I had to move the truck to overflow parking, since not all four tires were on asphalt. The overflow camping is about
a quarter mile up the ridge and consists of a pullover space on either side of the road. Elizabeth obviously did not understand the
separation anxiety I have with my truck! Earlier in the day, we received a notice that there had been four autos broken into in
another campground to the north. I was not a "happy camper". However, not wanting to be evicted from the campground, I
graciously moved the truck.
This morning, I drove down to the entry kiosk and spoke to a young ranger on duty. I explained the preceeding night's events. He looked to see who was on duty and rolled his eyes. He informed me that Elizabeth had been on duty. He told me that no one else had a problem with the truck. I obtained Elizabeth's work schedule for the week and will park accordingly.
From there, Sue and I drove to a parking area and walked about a half mile to the beach. We had our chairs, water and a new beach umbrella. When we got to the beach, there were many cars and trucks that had driven down to the beach on a sand road that started before the campground area. I spoke to a man that was fishing near us that had driven his truck. I asked what I shoud know about driving in the sand. He said that anyone that drove on the sand road had to lower the air pressure in their tires to twenty pounds or they would get stuck in the sand. The problem I have is that when I bought the tires at Costco, they filled the tires with nitrogen. I have the perfect truck for this type of driving, but I can't refill the tires with nitrogen here. I probably should walk instead of driving, since I really need the exercise.
We stayed about an hour to an hour and a half. The beach was beautiful. The sky was blue, the water warm and the breezes cool. We didn't want to get a burn, so we left and walked back to the truck. I drove by the ranger kiosk to check if Elizabeth started early. She was not there yet. We took the truck back to the camper. I wanted to practice using the slide rails on the hitch. This is a device that slides the hitch back in the bed to increase the turning radius. The site we are in is tight and I should use the quik-slide when we leave. Then I drove to the shower house and cleaned up. I left the truck there, since the ranger today told me that is considered overflow parking. Elizabeth will be happy.
We ate lunch and afterwards I decided to go for a walk. Sue rested in the camper and read. She found a book titled Outer Banks, by Ann Rivers Siddons. I walked down the road on the ridge until I found a boardwalk to the shore. When I reached the shore, the sand had heated up and was hot! I ran to the water and soaked my feet and cooled down. I continued down the beach until I found the boardwalk we had used earlier in the day. During my walk, I noticed that I was beginning to appreciate the area a lot more. I had time to look around and notice the different plants and birds. It usually takes me a little time to acclimate to a new area.
There is an issue here regarding the closing of beaches to protect nesting birds and turtles from trucks and bathers. The local community wants to keep the beaches open to the public. I think that was another issue in the closing of the campground near the Hatteras Lighthouse.
I returned to the camper and we made plans for dinner. Sue loves fried oysters (yuck) and we might look for a seafood resurant tonight. We are really enjoying the camper. The generator keeps the ceiling and exhaust fans running, the music playing, the router working and coffee maker perking. We are somewhat isolated from the other sites and are enjoying our privacy. The one exception being Elizabeth's ever watchful gaze.
This morning, Bob walked one loop around the campground and when he got back, Sue was awake. She joined Bob and we walked
another loop. Today, we decided to take the ferry to Ocracoke Island. It's about 10 miles to the north and the ferry ride takes about
forty minutes. we have attached a map of Hatteras. we"re not sure if we can send it, but let's try. The inlet between Hatteras and
Ocracoke Islands into Pamlico Sound is called the Hatteras Inlet. During the ferry ride, we could see the shallows and small islands in
the sound. When we crossed the inlet, we could see the breakers between Hatteras and Ocracoke. During World War II, the German
U-Boats would prowl these waters and sink the Liberty ships with war materials to Europe. The Monitor was discovered off Cape
Hatteras some years ago. Check it out on the map here.
When we got off the ferry, the ride to the city of Ocracoke was about ten to fifteen miles. In Ocracoke, there is another ferry to Cedar Island, which is connected to the mainland via a very big bridge. When we made this trip several years before, we came to Ocracoke via the Cedar Island ferry. That ferry cost about $45 with the camper. The Hatteras - Ocracoke ferry is free of charge. When we got to the city of Ocracoke, we parked in the public parking and walked into town. We found a small roadside restaurant and Sue got another helping of fried oysters. Bob had a Philly sandwich. This section of Ocracoke Island is mostly national seashore and there is nothing between the ferry and the city at the south end. It was another beautiful day, with temps around the high eighty degrees, but high humidity. Night time temps are around the high sixties.
We returned to the campground and checked for Ranger Elizabeth in the kiosk. Her shift would be from 2:30 PM to 10:30 PM. Good news: she was not there! That means parking the truck at the camper. No separation anxiety attack tonight. Julie; we can usually get a cell phone signal here, perhaps because we are high on the ridge and can reach the public cell towers. We decided to relax at the camper. Bob was feeling the effects of the sun on the back of my neck and he don't want to get a burn. Just a light meal tonight.
Today was a rest day. When we were driving down to the ranger kiosk early in the morning, we notice there was a vacancy several
sites away from us. It has an unobstructed view of the ocean and is more open to capture the ocean breeze. We continued to the
ranger kiosk and renewed for two more days and switched to the new site. This ranger was the person who signed us up when we
first arrived. Bob and the ranger had a conversation at that time about the Grand Canyon. That got Bob started. He really liked
working at the GC and we compared notes. Bob described our trip west that year and mentioned that we had camped at Banf and
Lake Louise in Canada. That got him going. He really wants to go the the Canadian Rockies. Anyway, we returned to the camper and
we packed up and moved to the new site. This is the one we were hoping we would get when we first arrived. We should be able to
stay here until June 24, if we decide to remain at Frisco Campground. Bob returned to the kiosk and he and the ranger and continued
their conversation about Banf. Sue has a T-shirt from the "Teahouse of the Six Glaciers". (click here to see) That is a primitive
building without electric or running water that sits at the base of the trail up to the glaciers. Hikers can have snacks and drinks on the
way up to the glaciers. It is approximately two thirds of the way on the trail from Lake Louise to the end of the glacier hike. The total
hike is seven miles and we walked it when we were were there in 2002.
By the time we set up the camper, we were hot, tired and ready for lunch. After lunch, Bob decided to start on the family website. He has the journal notes posted, but they are not yet available on-line. Our site is www.bobsuegregg.com. We did not think we would have an internet connection during this trip. We probably will skip Washington D.C. and drive directly to Shenandoah National Park. Bob has been planning our route to S.N.P. We think we will stay at Big Meadows Campground if there is any space. Most sites are first come first serve, with several reservations. We checked and the aren't any reservations available.
Luke, Bob noticed several spelling mistakes in my earlier emails. We should have taken you with us so you could check his spelling like you do in class.
It is cloudy and overcast day, with a few drops of rain. We are inside and enjoying the view. Bob noticed an oil slick under the truck and we plan to drive to Kill Devil Hill Monday or Tuesday and have it checked out. Bob think's it's the power steering fluid (we hope). We had a problem with it when the truck was new. When Bob had the oil changed for the trip, the attended topped off the power steering fluid and he decided to keep an eye on it. We have extra fluid if we need it. We haven't needed to add any yet.
Oh by the way, this site is longer than our other site and when we lower the tailgate, we can back up to the camper and keep ALL FOUR WHEELS on the pavement. Take that Elizabeth! we hope she is working this next week. Sue just told Bob she was in the mood for a DQ blizzard, so its time to go. Bob will try to get the web site up for the journal notes, but no pictures yet. The connection is too slow.
Bob decided to build new pages on our family website for this year's vacation. If you wish to view the website for our journal notes,
the site is www.bobsuegregg.com. From the main page, select East USA 2008 from the left hand menu and you will be taken to this
year's journal. For the 2008 vacation journal, there is a left side menu with each week in June and July. Select the week and each
day of that week will expand. The right side displays a calendar that can be used to navigate to any day in June or July. If you select
a day on the calendar, or from the left side menu, the journal notes will appear for that day. To return to the calendar, select
calendar from the left side menu.
We will add to the journal as the days pass, and the calendar locations will be updated. There are no pictures available to display above (in the web page) due to the slow internet connections. We may have to wait until we return home to upload the photographs. We will update the journal notes each day here in the journal and I will copy and paste these notes to email.
After Bob worked on the web site, he followed the men's golf U.S. Open tournament on the web. Tiger Woods tied the eighteen hole playoff on the last hole and won in sudden death on the nineteenth hole. Sue read and napped. The campground emptied out last night. The weekend campers headed home. Today is cool and very windy, just like I remember it the last time we here here. Previously, the temperatures and humidity were high. It seemed like the temperatures stayed around the mid eighties.
This morning we awoke to some light thunderstorms over the ocean. Just before dawn, there were some lightning bolts over the
Atlantic. We had a few light showers, not much, but enough to raise the humidity. Before we left on our trip, Jenny, Rob, Julie and Sis
recommended we purchase an emergency weather radio from Kroger. This radio broadcasts emergency weather bulletins from the
National Weather Service. We were awakened several times in the early morning by the thunderstorm warnings. Nothing serious
After breakfast, we went for a walk around the campground and stopped at the ranger kiosk and signed up for two more days. We are here, so far, through Thursday. We are not sure how much longer we can stay. Our fresh water supply is at one-third capacity. There are no utilities here, including a dump station. There is potable water, but it is impossible to fill our tank without moving the camper. We have a portable ten (?) gallon water tank with rear wheels that we filled with water from the campground tap. Bob tried to fill our camper's water tank, but it was too heavy and awkward to use. The height the water tank had to be lifted to reach the camper's water tank opening was too high. We think we will probably leave the campground, fill up with water and find a dump station, and return to our site here.
We are fixing spaghetti in the slow cooker. Luke, remember Spaghetti from Where the Sidewalk Ends? We are really glad we invested in the Honda generator. This model is certified and approved for use in the national parks and is very quiet (at least is to Bob). It powers the paddle fan, router, laptops, slow cooker and refrigerator and freezer in addition to charging the camper battery. The vent fans, stereo, and some lights run off the battery. We do hate to have gasoline anywhere near the camper. Bob keeps it as far away from us as he can under some bushes. We have a five gallon container and it lasts about two and a half days. We use the generator constantly. The campsites in the national parks are spacious and there aren't any neighbors close to us. That will change over the weekend. The rangers, including Elizabeth, have seen it and haven't had problems with us using a generator.
We have developed a small leak under the truck. Bob has checked the fluids, but he cannot find what is leaking. Tomorrow we will drive up to Kill Devil Hill to a Chevy dealer and have them check it out. Its been a little harder to start lately and we don't want any problems towing the camper. Better safe than sorry.
We awoke early this morning and drove to Kitty Hawk NC. This is where the nearest car dealer is located that can check our truck.
Victory Chevrolet is seventy miles north on Route twelve and the drive took just less that two hours. The speed limits on the two lane
roads are slow, slower and stop. The roads are scenic and best traveled at a leisurely pace.
We just spoke to Sean, the service consultant, and the news is good. Since we are still covered by the new truck warranty, we will not be charged. The problem is a sensor that detects if too much water is in the fuel. It is defective. That explains the poor starting and oil leak. None of us, including Sean, understand how it works and what is leaking. He said that when we returned, he would be able to explain what happened. Sean also told us he ordered the part to be sent overnight, and should arrive tomorrow around 1:00. If it comes in then, we will drive back and have it installed. If not tomorrow, then Friday.
Last night, we fixed spaghetti in the slow cooker. Tonight we will have second helpings. When we camp, we usually eat food, such as salad, steak, and salmon. All great food. We use the grill to keep the camper cool. After a while, we get a craving for something spicy and spaghetti fills the bill. Family guys, remember the story when Bob was in Rome and the waiter took away the parmesan cheese? That makes the spaghetti taste even better.
On the way back to our campground, we stopped at the Hatteras Lighthouse, took some pictures and saw the visitor center. Sue found a great ceramic tile of a lighthouse. When we were paying for the tile, the cashier told us about a book, Taffy of Torpedo Junction. It's a true story about a teenage girl that lived in the area during World War II. She was captured by a Nazi landing party and was presumed dead. Taffy was a teacher and now is in her eighties. She still lives in the area. Sue bought the book and is reading it as Bob types.
Today was the coolest day we have had since we arrived at the Outer Banks. At 6:00 PM the temperature was 77 º F. Luke, remember what the F stands for? Today is also the clearest day we have had. The local wildfire smoke from the mainland has obscured the view much of the time. Today, the horizon is sharp and the area where the Hatteras Lighthouse is located, Cape Point, is visible from our camper. It is about ten miles to the north along the coast. As we look north on the horizon, the sand dunes slowly rise above the water line. This is the first time we have noticed Cape Point. At night, we can see the light from the Hatteras Lighthouse as it rotates. The beam of light is visible every half turn.
This is an incredible place, if you like nothing but nature, sky, ocean, birds and sand. That's all there is here. Further north are the motels and fast food restaurants. We are dry camping and have been here a week. We hope to stay until next Wednesday and then leave for the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park. We make all travel decisions on a day to day basis. Bill, remember after your wedding, everyone was asking Sue and I where we were going camping. We said we didn't know but we would decide after we started driving. We ended up in the Smokey Mountain National Park.
Bob and Sue
Last night after we went to bed, the generator stopped working. Bob tried to restart it, but it would start, sputter and die. It was a
good sleeping night with cool temperatures, so we didn't miss the electric. In the morning, we decided to drive into town and look for
a small motor repair shop. No luck. We found a NAPA auto parts store and Bob went in to ask about a repair shop. Now we know
what happened to Harry and Lloyd (from the movie Dumb and Dumber). They retired and open a NAPA store in Buxton NC. Anyway,
we went back to the camper and Bob tried to start the generator again and this time it started, and kept on running!
Bill, remember when the kids were small and our families were having dinner at a smorgasbord somewhere? Nancy had been talking about men that tried to repair something by hitting it. Later, she and Bob decided to get some more ice. They walked over to the ice dispenser and it stopped giving ice. Bob reached over and hit the side and the ice came out. She just glared at him and walked back to the table and Bob couldn't stop laughing.
We relaxed at the camper and waited for a call from Sean at Victory Chevrolet. Earlier, we went for a walk around the campground and stopped at the ranger kiosk. We renewed our campsite for another two days. That gives us Friday and Saturday nights. We will most likely extend that to Monday and Tuesday. Sue asked if they enforced the fourteen day limit at this campground. The ranger told us they were not strict about that rule, depending on the ranger on duty. We may ask to extend our visit beyond the fourteen day limit on a day that Elizabeth is not on duty! While we were on our walk, Jenny called.
After lunch, we decided to drive up to the convenience store outside the campground to get some more gas for the generator. The truck started and ran for about a minute and then died. Bob couldn't get it restarted. He called the Chevy dealer and the tech told him how to restart the truck. Apparently, whatever they did to get the truck to start and stop leaking oil increased the likelihood of air getting in the fuel line. When that happens, there is a primer on the the fuel filter that must be pumped to move the fuel to the injectors. That worked and we ran our errands. When I was finished, I called Sean to check if the part had arrived. The part was in and we took the scenic, leisure two hour drive back to Kitty Hawk. Hopefully, the drive back will be the last time until we leave the Outer Banks.
On the way back, we stopped at a local campground and asked if they filled propane tanks. They do, and we will go back tomorrow and fill our tank. The camper has two tanks. One tank is empty and the other is one half full. When we leave the area, we will have the second tank refilled. We got back to the campground and finished the spaghetti along with a salad. This long day ended with the generator working, the truck starting and both of us relaxing at last.
A great day at the beach. Everything works at last! We walked around the campground once after breakfast. We measured the loop
the other day and it measured exactly one mile. After that we walked to the beach and spent about one and a half hours there. We
didn't want to leave, but we don't want to get burned. We showered and had lunch. Not a lot to write about. The morning was
great; cool, sunny and a nice breeze.
After lunch, we drove south on the island to Hatteras Village. That is the point where the ferry departs to Ocracoke Island. We looked around a while and found a nice restaurant that serves - you know what- fried oysters. We will make one more trip for those little things before we leave.
We bought groceries and returned to the camper. We just hung our and relaxed. Our two weeks will be up next Wednesday and we are thinking about trying to extend our time here. Elizabeth was on duty this afternoon. At our new site, we lower the tailgate and back up under the camper so we can park on the paving and not stick out in the road. All four wheels are on the pavement.
Well, today was the big day. Our holding tanks needed to be emptied. Our black water tank from the bathroom was full. The tanks
from the galley and shower were not full, but we were also out of fresh water. After breakfast, we walked down to the ranger kiosk
and spoke to the ranger. we wanted to make sure that we would have the same camp site when we returned. He told us that we
would. We also asked if we could extend our stay beyond the fourteen days, since this was my most favorite campground in the
whole world. (Sis, does that sound like grandma?) He had me fill out a new sign-in form and we renewed for two more days. We will
consider staying until July 5. We don't like to travel over those holiday weekends. We had a bad experience years ago during the New
This campground does not have a disposal station or fresh water supply for RVs, but the campground near the Hatteras Lighthouse does. We cleaned up, packed up and hitched up and drove to the Hatteras campground (Point Cape). When we were at the KOA campground in Rodanthe earlier in our trip, we emptied the waste tanks. When we was finished with the last tank, the handle of the flush valve broke off. We closed the valve with a pair of pliers, since there was no handle. When we finished empting the tank. we weren't sure which tank the handle belonged to. We were sure hoping it wasn't to the black water tank and we might not be able to open the valve. That would mean another trip to an RV dealer.
Great news! The tank with the broken handle belonged to the galley waste water tank, and we was able to reopen the valve with our pliers. That was a big relief! We finished emptying all three tanks, and filled the fresh water tank. Each of the waste water tanks holds forty gallons and the fresh water tank holds sixty-five gallons. That was a big reason we wanted this type of RV. We drove back to Frisco Campground and set up again. This site is very difficult in which to park the RV. Our hitch has a quick-slide device that allows us to move the hitch back in the bed. That way, we can make a ninety degree turn without bumping the truck cab with the camper. The campsite is bordered with low trees on the camper's left, which makes backing up difficult. In order to make the turn, the front of the truck brushes against some other bushes. Anyway, we made it back again and set up the camper. The left side was low, and we blocked up that side with two by four blocks so that the camper was level.
We ate lunch and decided to declare victory. A rain front was coming through and we decided to read, relax and watch the birds. There are about four or five different species and each has their own territory. When the larger birds fly over the smaller birds' area, the small birds attack with a vengeance. The larger birds cannot dart and dive as fast as the smaller ones, so they just keep on flying until they are out of the smaller birds' area. The smaller birds' territory seems to be the lower part of the campground area. There is a tree just behind our camper and before the lower part that the larger birds congregate. They know they are safe there and we think it's a lookout post where they hang out and plan their strategy. There are also some type of hawks that circle the area at a higher elevation, and to the side opposite the campground. That area is natural and undeveloped. There is a type of red bird, not cardinal, and several types of songbirds. The songbirds are the aggressive birds that protect their territory. Finally, there are sea gulls that pretty much stay near the shore, and sometimes we have seen pelicans and some type of duck that flew over, but did not stop by.
During our earlier morning walk, we stopped to talk to the camper in the next site. He and his wife had a small, lightweight camper. On the camper frame, he had built a small platform that held a generator. He had a Honda 3000i, one size larger than ours. He wanted to power the camper's air conditioner. We talked for a while about the generators. Later, when they were driving by our site, he offered to stop by later and hook his generator to our camper and see how the air conditioner worked. We're not sure we will try that, but we have considered having a frame built to secure our generator in the pickup bed. It's efficient, quiet and approved for use in the national parks. We don't like to operate it beside the camper, but we need to secure it to something with a thick cable chain and lock. Actually, the pickup bed would be perfect. we think we will try that right now.
Hey, it seems ok. We will try it tonight and see how it goes. We just had a couple of showers and the wind died down. There haven't been any problems with insects so far, but the rain and no wind seems to have empowered them. Lets hope for some nice ocean breezes tonight. What a day!
We are grilling out tonight with steak, corn and tomatoes. We usually share a steak. We bought some from Costco before we left home. They have some really good meat. Last night, we didn't feel like fixing anything, so we just snacked. Actually Sue fixed some nice, fresh healthy peaches and we went for some microwave popcorn. Actually, corn is very healthy for you. Bob and Sue
This morning, we worked on our school calendar. We use the Google calendar and we share the calendar that contains our school
events. Cobb County Schools has a yearly calendar on their web site and we entered the dates for 2008-09. After we finished that,
we planned our camping weekends at McKinney Campground. McKinney is a Corps of Engineer managed campground on Allatoona
Lake. It only takes about an hour to drive to McKinney and set up the camper. It is one of the finest campgrounds we have seen and
is usually full during the camping months. We made reservations through the end of the year. We have a full week for Thanksgiving
this year. We reserved the week and will have Thanksgiving with the family and still camp at McKinney.
After lunch, we decided to return to the Hatteras - Ocracoke ferry. Sue wanted to take some video of the ferry. When she tried to explain an automobile ferry to her first graders last year, they did not understand. She thought some video would help them. The ferry is only about eight miles from our campground. We rode across, took video, and got back in line to return to Hatteras Island.
On our earlier trip to Ocracoke Island, we walked around a small shopping center at the ferry depot on the Hatteras side. I noticed a restaurant called Dirty Dick's. Being on the dock of a small inlet, they served seafood, and naturally they served fried oysters. Sue noticed the name of the restaurant and it reminded her of her brother Dicky Miller. (Dick, Sue made me write that.) We decided to go back to the ferry depot and try Dirty Dick's. This is the place to go. Great view, excellent food and it wasn't really too dirty (actually is was really clean). Somehow, I don't think this was our last visit to Dirty Dick's. We am writing this Monday morning and there is a rain squall line moving through. We can look out over the ocean and watch the clouds and rainfall. There are no weather alerts, so it looks like a quiet rain.
Today was a stay at home, listen to Ray Charles, Simon and Garfunkel and Willy Nelson (Sue's choice) and enjoy the rain day. It was
cloudy, rainy, and windy all day. The rain finally let up in the late afternoon. After the rain stopped, we went shopping for some
sausage to put in the red beans and rice. We started that in the slow cooker around noon. It smells really good when we are inside.
Bob spent the morning reading research papers about technology integration and Sue worked on the book of the month collection she is making. It was a quiet, relaxing morning and afternoon. This morning a young deer ran through the campsite. That isn't so unusual, but this one had small stubs that would become antlers. Usually, we don't see males. Deer are all over the trails at Kennesaw Mountain and at McKinney campground. We usually see them in the early morning. We should have a rainy night tonight with a fifty percent chance of precipitation. We should have sunny weather until next Sunday. We haven't decided when we will leave for the Blue Ridge yet.
Bob and Sue
After breakfast, we did our morning walk around the campground. Then we drove to the ranger kiosk and signed up for four more
nights. Actually, we wanted two more, but the ranger didn't realize that I had a Golden Age pass, which reduces the campground fee
by one half. Since we were planning to stay until at least Friday, we told her to give us four days instead of two, which would cost the
same. Earlier, we decided to leave either Saturday or Sunday morning. If we leave Saturday, we will stop at Kitty Hawk NC, see the
Wright Brothers Museum, and stay at a campground in the area. Either way, we will drive to Shenandoah National Park on Sunday.
There are no reserved sites available at any of the campgrounds there, so Sunday afternoon would be a good time to find a non
From the ranger kiosk, we drove to the trail that leads to the beach. The trail is a boardwalk over the sand dunes that ends at the tall berm near the shore. The berm is a large sand dune that act as a water barrier during a storm. We stayed at the beach slightly less that two hours. Our skin is not as tender as when we first arrived and we can stay in the sun longer without burning. When we returned to the camper, we ate lunch. After a short rest, Bob ran around the campground road and covered about two and one half miles. We showered and relaxed during the late afternoon and evening. Bob started an Excel spreadsheet about grade level Georgia Performance Standards for his use next year and Sue read her book. Later, she finished The Friday Night Knitting Club. We had salmon on the grill with corn on the cob and pickled beets.
Today was pretty much like yesterday. We walked around the campground, went down to the beach for about two hours and returned
to the camper for lunch. Bob ran two miles, cooled down and walked to the bath house for a shower. He washed out two pairs of
shorts and a running shirt while he was in the shower. Sue made a Power Point for school. Because of the new Georgia standards,
they will study how the national park system was started by Theodore Roosevelt. She took our digital pictures of past visits and
placed them in the Power Point.
This evening we made our last visit to Dirty Dick's Crabhouse. The food is great, well prepared and hot and tasty. The restaurant is on the dock of a marina and we watch the auto ferries and fishing boats while we eat. The charter fishing boat nearest us must have at least fifty fishing rods mounted in cylindrical holders mounted to a side rail. This rail extends the length of the boat on both sides. In addition, there is a fishing platform with a ship's ladder that has about eight steps. The platform must hold about ten to twelve more fishing rods. The waitress told us they brought in a very large haul of fish today and everyone in the restaurant watched them unload.
Tomorrow we may return to Dirty Dick's and the marina and take some pictures for the web site. After that, we will return the the Hatteras Light house and take some more pictures. We will skip the beach tomorrow and get out of the campground for a while. We are pretty sure we will leave Saturday morning for Kitty Hawk and then on to the Blue Ridge.
This morning, after Bob made coffee, he turned on his computer. Things have been going pretty smoothly lately, so he wasn't
surprised when the computer did not boot up. It really was DOA. The keyboard lights on the right side that show power, hard disk and
battery blinked and all but the power light went off. The three lights on the left side started blinking in succession. One of the lights is
the caps lock indicator, but he didn't know what the other two were for. There was no boot up screen or blue screen of death. It
didn't get that far. This was his worst nightmare. Anyway, he can' t have it serviced until he returns to school. He had made backups
on our portable hard drive before we left and copied as many files as we needed to Sue's computer. More technology adventures!
We skipped the beach today. We both got a little more sun than we meant to yesterday and didn't want to get a burn. We returned to Dirty Dick's marina and took pictures of the boats, marina and restaurant for the web site. Then we drove to Avon and the Food Lion for groceries. On our return, we stopped at a local private campground and asked if we could use their laundry facilities. They told us we could and tomorrow morning we will do laundry for the first time on our trip. Earlier, Bob bought four T-shirts for $10 and that help him get this far. Today it was hot, but typically very breezy and it felt great.
Saturday, we will leave for Kitty Hawk and check out Joe and Kay's Campground. It is just behind the Wright Brothers' National Memorial. If it looks ok, we will stop and spend the day. We saw the memorial the last time we were here, but Sue is interested in a return visit. Sunday we will drive to Shenandoah National Park at Big Meadows campground. We want to beat the Fourth of July crowd. We hope we are not too late.
Well, as usual, we changed our plans again. This morning, Sue suggested we visit a beach south of our campground in Hatteras
Village. This beach was great. It was not crowded, no trucks, and only a short walk from the parking lot. There were restrooms and
showers at the boardwalk to the beach. While we were at the beach, we watched several sand crabs along the beach. We enjoyed
this beach much more that our local beach. We discussed staying longer rather that leaving Sunday for Shenandoah. Earlier, we
decided that when we left Frisco Campground, we would spend a night or two in Kitty Hawk to see the Wright Brothers' Monument and
Museum and do our laundry. After we left the beach, we stopped at Frisco Woods Campground, which is very close to our
campground. We asked if we could use their laundromat and they told us that we were welcome . They have three washers and four
dryers. We decided we could do our laundry over several days next week, since there could be some wait time. This would be better
than going to Kitty Hawk to do the laundry.
Sue was agreeable with extending our time here in Frisco, but she said she needed a "civilization" day. Actually, there is a new book she wants to buy. We decided to drive up to Kitty Hawk Saturday, stop at a civilized Wal-Mart for shopping, have lunch out, and spend the afternoon at the Wright Brothers' Monument. Since we solved the laundry and civilization problem, we will spend the Fourth of July weekend here in Frisco. We made reservations for Big Meadows Campground in Shenandoah National Park for July 7, 8, 9, and 10.
When we left the campground this morning to go to the beach, we drove by the ranger kiosk. The young ranger on duty was playing a guitar. When we stopped he came out. Bob asked him to play something for us. He suggested John Denver, but we don't think the ranger knew who that that was. We then suggested Eric Clapton and he played a few chords of something, but he didn't know the song well. Another car came up behind us and we had to leave. When we returned from the beach, we asked him what his major was. He told us he is attending the local university and is studying anthropology.
Family Note: Bronze God, beware! The Golden One is getting stronger. You will have to defend your tan soon and your day of reckoning is close at hand. The Leg-Hair Pulling Girl will be the final judge. Besides, she likes me better.
We have temporarily closed down our web site for this summer's vacation at www.bobsuegregg.com. We will reopen it when we get
to Big Meadows Campground in Shenandoah National Park.
Today is Sue's "Civilization Day". We left the campground early and drove to Kitty Hawk for the day. We started the audio book of Moby Dick. When we arrived at Nags Head, we stopped at the Dunes Restaurant for breakfast. We ate here when we first came to the Outer Banks in 2002. The food is plentiful and well prepared. From there, we drove to the Wal-Mart store and did our shopping. Sue found her books and we stocked up on paper products and other supplies.
After shopping, we drove to the Wright Brothers Monument and Museum and spent most of the late morning and early afternoon there. We viewed a video about how the Wright Brothers developed their flying machine. An interesting aspect was how they used trigonometry in calculating the drag and lift capabilities of the wing design. They needed to find a wing design that had the greatest lift with the least amount of drag. When they used existing engineering data to build the glider, they found the data was incorrect. As a result, they were the first to design, build, and use a wind tunnel to measure the effect of different wing profiles. Without that data, they could not have built their airplane. They were then able to build a glider that had lift, turn, and pitch control. After they perfected the glider, they were ready to add a motor that would provide a means of power for the first manned flight. They needed a motor that weighed less than two hundred pounds and produced eight horsepower. When the went to the motor companies, none of them had that powerful of a motor. They designed and built their own motor that produced twelve horsepower, more than they needed to sustain flight. Before the video, I didn't really appreciate the engineering and research ability of the Wright Brothers. They were truly innovative and creative inventors.
After that, we drove back to the campground and extended our time here for four more days. The rangers prefer that campers only extend their stay by two days, since they cannot give refunds. They always forget that I have a senior discount and charge me the regular rate. That dollar amount is actually for four days at the discount rate. It's easier for them to give me four days than cancel the purchase and resubmit it with the correct amount for two days.
This is truly an awesome campground. It doesn't have electricity, water or sewer connections, but what a view of the ocean in the distance and a breeze that is soothing and refreshing. Even the rainy days are cool and relaxing, and the many birds are entertaining and enjoyable.
After an early breakfast, we loaded the truck with our laundry and an empty propane tank and drove down the road to the Hatteras
Woods Campground. We used their laundromat to do the laundry. The machines cost $1.75 each, but the washers were large and the
dryers needed only one cycle to dry the clothes. After we started the laundry, Bob drove to the office and had the propane tank filled.
The campers has two tanks that automatically switch to the full tank when one tank is empty. That way, one tank can be removed
and filled while the full tank is being used. We returned to the campground around noon, stored the clothes and reattached the
We spent the afternoon relaxing. Sue read and Bob went for his run. He is up to three miles now without feeling completely worn out. The course is moderately hilly and usually hot. Today it was a little cooler with a nice breeze.
When we renew our site, the ranger gives us a receipt that goes on the inside of the windshield. He writes the site number and the last day we have paid for. The last time we renewed our campsite, the ranger wrote the date of 6/31. We didn't notice until today. When we returned from doing laundry, we stopped and another ranger gave us a new receipt for 7/1.
We received an email from Stephanie Gill, a teacher Bob worked with on the second grade team at Sedalia Park. Bob Steele, the husband of Kathy Steele, another second grade teacher, suffered a stroke yesterday (Saturday). He is conscious and responsive today. The doctors will keep him under observation and start rehab soon. We will keep in touch with Bob's progress.
After breakfast, we drove to the Hatteras Visitors' Center and bought tickets to walk up to the lighthouse. We saw the lighthouse
when we were here in 2002, but we decided to go again. There are 252 steps, as many as in an eight story building, to the top. From
there, we could see the Atlantic Ocean. This is where the northern current, the Labrador Current meets the southern current, the Gulf
Stream. They meet about ten miles from shore. The meeting of the two currents creates a turbulence that has caused many
shipwrecks. This area is where the German U-boats sank many ships in World War II.
After that, we visited the museum and watched two videos. The first was about Loggerhead Turtles and the second was about Piping Plovers, a seabird. These two animal species are the center of the controversy about the beach closing. These nesting animals require a safe area to breed and the human population interferes with their survival.
We had lunch at the camper and relaxed. Sue napped and Bob ran four miles today. He is building his endurance and his breathing is getting stronger. He is sore in all the right places.
Tonight we decided to go out for some pizza. There is a place a short distance north of here called the Gingerbread House Bakery. They also claim to have the best pizza on the island. How about that; a bakery and pizza parlor? Something like another restaurant we passed on the road called Bubba's Barbecue and Mexican Restaurant! They like to mix their cuisines here. Maybe we should just stick to Dirty Dick's Crabhouse!
Well the Gingerbread Bakery and Pizza was not bad, but it can't be the beat pizza on the island. When we went in, I asked if it was
the best pizza on the island like the sign said and the teenage boy behind the counter just smiled. I think we knew then what to
Today, we decided to drive north of Kitty Hawk to see the Currituck Lighthouse. We stated out after breakfast and drove to Nags Head. Several weeks ago, Bob noticed a small bump on the roof of his mouth. It felt like a sore that you get when you drink something too hot and it burns your mouth. Either that or a small gum sore. Anyway, we decided to stop at an urgent care facility in Nags Head. The physician's assistant did not know what it was, but prescribed some antibiotics in case it was an infection. He will keep an eye (tongue?) on it and see if it heals. If not, he will have Dr. Helton look at it when I get home.
We proceeded to the Rite-Aid pharmacy and had the prescription filled. It was to take forty minutes, so we went to the McDonald's down the street for a quick lunch. We picked up the antibiotics and went to Wal-Mart for some more books for Sue. We also bought some American flags to put out for the Fourth of July.
The lighthouse was twenty miles further up the coast. Because we took so much time at the urgent care facility, we decided to return to Frisco Campground. We bought diesel, which is twenty-five cents a gallon less here, and drove back to Frisco.
We renewed our site through Sunday, July sixth and will leave for Shenandoah National Park on Monday, July seventh. We don't like to travel over holidays and the big crowd should be home by then. We have reservations at Big Meadow Campground through Friday, July 11, and will leave Saturday, July 12. We will either move to another site at Big Meadow, or start down to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We hung out at the camper this morning. Sue read and Bob rebuilt the spreadsheets that he lost when his computer died. This time
he backed them up on the portable hard drive. That took most of the morning. We are really lucky to have internet access here at
the campground. We are high on the ridge and get the cellular signal from Frisco. Down near the beach, the signal is weak or non
In the afternoon, Bob ran again and made five miles. The temperatures are not too high and the breeze is refreshing. After we cleaned up, we went shopping at the Food Lion in Avon. That is THE grocery store on the south shores. No competition for them. There are several small grocery stores, but non have the selection that Food Lion has.
On the the ten mile drive to Avon, the island is at its narrowest. If one were to stop and climb a sand dune, they could see both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound. The island can't be more that a quarter mile wide here, if that much. The sound side is a popular place for wind surfing. It is extremely shallow and people far away from shore seem to be up to their knees. The wind surfers have a surf board and hold a kite, or parasail, and are pulled along the water. Sometimes, we have seen surfers sailing in the air above the water. They must have a different type of gear.
The more time we spend here at the campground, the more we notice the birds. There are many species and we are learning their habits. I don't think we would become birders, but it is interesting to watch them. They all have their separate characteristics, territories, and methods of flying.
The campground is filling up for the Fourth of July. Frisco Campground is an exceptional campground. When it was built, the sites were designed for tent camping. Most of the tent sites have a trail for walk-in camping and are hard to see from the road. There is no water or electric at the sites. Since then, smaller campers and pop-up trailers come here, and it is a tight fit for some of them. From our camper on the ridge, we cannot see any roads, except for those close to us. There are small trees and bushes obscuring the roads. We can see some tents and campers, but mostly only see the brush and the ocean beyond.
Without the generator, we would not be able to stay long. The camper battery gets charged each time we run the generator. We sometimes operate the refrigerator on electric to save propane. During the night, the refrigerator is powered by the propane. So far, we have filled each propane tank one time on the trip. The lights and fans are battery powered. We conserve our water usage, and should be able to have water until we leave Monday for Shenandoah National Park. Bob uses the shower at the bath house and Sue prefers to shower in the camper. The campground shower water is cool, but if feels good after a run.
After we awoke this morning, we packed our bags, drove to Hatteras Village for breakfast, and then returned to the beach in Frisco.
This beach is the one Sue wanted to try the other day, and we enjoy it more that the one near our campground. We stayed for
several hours and got back to the camper by noon.
Sue read and finished her ninth book of the trip. Bob started a wiki that he hope Sue will consider using with the teacher she will be teaming with. Each could create and modify their lesson plans in the wiki from home and use one document for the plans. Bob wants to include the Georgia Performance Standards in the lesson plan. He is hoping this will be a prototype that we could use at Hollydale this next school year. There are several teams in the building. They are out of available classrooms to house all the students and need to have two teachers team together in one classroom.
The campground is filling up quickly. We now have neighbors below and to the right of us on the down slope to the road. These sites have not been used before, but sites are in demand for the Fourth of July. We're glad we stayed and are settled in our campsite.
Happy Independence Day! Today we stayed at the campground and relaxed. The campground is completely filled. There was a "Full"
sign at the ranger kiosk today. Last week, when we considered leaving, we checked campgrounds near Charlottesville and the
Shenandoah Valley on the internet. The campgrounds we looked at were not taking reservations. We were glad we stayed here
rather than take a chance on getting a space without a reservation. Sue read some more and Bob worked on a new wiki. Yesterday
he tried PBwiki and today he used Wet Paint. This is web based wiki that Bob used in his KSU class. It is a better product and he will
continue to develop a school wiki that he might use next school year. Bob ran three miles today in the afternoon.
We decided to go the Dirty Dick's one last time for supper. When we got to the marina, Dirty Dick's was closed for the Fourth of July. We drove back towards the campground and found an Italian restaurant that was open. When we were finally seated, the tables around the dining room by the windows were filled. The center area tables were all available, but the waitress took us to a side table with two chairs. When I asked to move to a larger table, she said they saved those tables for the local diners. We decided to leave and look elsewhere, since they did not need the tourist trade.
As we drove further, we noticed most of the restaurants were closed. Those that were open had long waiting lines. We found a bar- b-cue opposite the road to our campground and decided to eat there. They told us they had been swamped with customers this evening. The girl said that last year, it was not nearly as crowded. It seems more families are camping than flying this year. Most of the license plates are from North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, and states on the Eastern seaboard. Apparently more people are staying closer to home this year. Anyway, we ate there and returned to the camper for the night. s
Sue was hoping to see fireworks from our camper but it was behind the hill to our back. She could hear them but not see them.
Since this may be our last full day here at Frisco CG, we decided to go the beach early this morning. We enjoy watching the
sandpipers, sand crabs, gulls and kids playing on the beach. We saw one family with a doting granddad that was great with his
grandson. The boy must have been just over one year old, since he was teetering on the sand while he walked. Lots of fun!
We returned to the camper for an early lunch and drove to the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry for a final boat ride. The ride to Ocracoke Island takes about forty minutes one way. When we got off the ferry, we did an about face and got back on the next ferry to Hatteras Island. The ferry crosses an open stretch of water between the two islands. The marinas at each end are not at the ends of the islands, but are located at a natural inlet some distance from the island points. The section of water between the islands has waves breaking over the shallow water, and a smooth surface at the deeper parts. That must have been a tricky maneuver for the early sailing ships. Later, the sailing ships would hire local sea captains to lead them through the shallows and into Pamlico Sound. While on the ferry ride, we saw people, perhaps twenty yards away from the boat walking in knee or ankle deep water. Others at another part were about five hundred yards from shore fishing in lawn chairs.
This evening, we returned to return to Dirty Dick's, avoiding the Italian restaurant in Hatteras Village. Sue had her last order of fried oysters. While we were eating, a charter fishing boat came into dock. It appeared they were a family, with three teen aged boys. They had SCUBA gear, including an underwater spear gun on the boat. As we ate, they unloaded and cleaned the boat.
We decided to leave Frisco CG around 11:00 this morning. We drove to Cape Point Campground near Hatteras Lighthouse. Before
stopping at the campground, we used the dump station and refilled our water tank. There is potable water at the station. We drove on
to the campground, picked out a site, and registered at the ranger station. We set up camp and while Bob did the outside chores,
Sue started spaghetti in the slow cooker. Frisco CG was completely filled during the Fourth. When we arrived at Cape Point today, it
was nearly empty. It isn't as picturesque as Frisco, but still a good campground. It is mostly flat and the beach is closed because of
nesting animals. There is a section north of the campground that is open to the public.
During our stay at Frisco CG, we came to recognize most and know some of the rangers. In order to identify them in our conversations, we gave them names. We already mentioned Elizabeth. Another female ranger that seemed to have the same approach to her job, was called Elizabeth's Sister. The young ranger that played the guitar for us was Dave Mathews, his favorite band. The ranger that first signed us up and wanted to go the Banf in Canada, was Walter Matthau. He looked so much like the actor when he was young. Walter, if you are reading this, it's all in good fun. As you know, it's just our sense of humor.
We kept the camper hooked up to the truck so we can have an easy start tomorrow morning. Last night it rained quite hard and more rain is predicted for tonight. If it rains again, we won't have as much to do before we leave. We are headed to Shenandoah National Park. We located a Costco northwest of Richmond and plan to stop there for some supplies, mostly water and food.
We left Cape Point this morning at 7:00 AM. We drove up Hatteras Island, crossed over to the mainland, and headed to Richmond.
Along the way, we debated whether to stop at the KOA in Charlottesville or continue to Big Meadow CG in Shenandoah. The
advantage in stopping in Charlottesville was that it is closer to Monticello and the University of Virginia. Sue will be teaching about
Thomas Jefferson in first grade next year and wanted to take some pictures and video at Monticello. Normally, we prefer to stay in
national parks, since they are the most scenic and have more space for campers. However, the KOA does have electric and water,
and is closer to what we want to see. We drove to the KOA and decided to stay. It is in a wooded area with some privacy.
After we passed Richmond, we stopped at a Costco and stocked up on supplies. There were several areas of slow traffic. At one point, traffic was completely stopped. We got off and took another road that ran parallel to the interstate. However, the exit we took was for Busch Gardens and Williamsburg. We slowly drove through that area and returned to the interstate. The traffic was crowded, but moved at the speed limit. Tomorrow we will visit Monticello and other points of interest.
This morning we ordered two Presidential Tour passes on line. This pass included three historical sites; Monticello, Michie Tavern, Ash
Lawn-Highlands. Monticello was the home of Thomas Jefferson, Michie Tavern was a tavern used during the time of and after the
Revolutionary War, and Ash Lawn-Highlands was the home of James Monroe. These three historical sites are located on a loop road
south east of Charlottesville. The earliest time available was 11:00 AM, starting at Monticello.
We left the KOA and toured "historic" Charlottesville after a quick breakfast at McDonald's. We arrived early so we could visit the gift shop. Sue wanted to buy some books and DVDs to use with her first grade class. This next school year, they study Thomas Jefferson and Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea. After Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory, He sent Lewis and Clark to explore the region. After the gift shop visit, we went on a thirty minute tour of the first floor of Monticello. The docent was a good speaker and well informed. After the tour, we walked through the basement floor, which contained the store rooms, wine and beer cellars, and other work areas. While we were there, a carpenter was constructing a new roof for the ice cellar. During Jefferson's time, they cut ice from the local streams and river in winter and stored it in the insulated ice cellar. The ice lasted through the summer and provided cooling for food and cooking. During a fire, the ice was used to prevent the spread of the flames. We walked through the flower garden and the planted fields that provided vegetables for the plantation. Jefferson planted extensive vineyards at Monticello.
When we were finished touring Monticello, we drove to Michie Tavern. We were tired, hungry and ready to relax. We ate a large buffet lunch (our big meal today) and were ready to visit the Michie Museum. The tour was an extensive dialogue about the history of the tavern and the role it played in early American history. The tavern was not located at this site during Jefferson's time. It was moved to this location some time after Jefferson's death.
We decided not to go to the Ash Lawn-Highland and returned to the camper at the KOA. We relaxed and watched the Jefferson DVD. Tomorrow, we will drive to Shenandoah National Park, since we are not camping there on this trip. We particularly enjoy the lodge at Big Meadows and will have breakfast there, for old time sake.
Bob decided that it was time to have the nodule in the roof of his mouth looked at again. When we were in the Outer Banks, he
stopped at an urgent care clinic. The physician's assistant did not know what it was and prescribed a general purpose antibiotic to be
taken for a week, The prescription ran out last Monday with no noticeable effect.
Seeing a dentist presented a problem, since we reserved our campsite for three nights. We would not have time to finish the Presidents Pass tour, drive to Shenandoah National Park, and find a dentist without having an appointment. Since the campground reservations were filling up for the weekend, we decided to renew our site through Friday night. Since we have no cell phone service here at the campground, we drove into town and called a local dentist. Luckily, we were able to make an appointment for 10:15 AM. That would never happen at home. We drove to a Panera's for some coffee and newspaper time and hung out until the dentist's appointment.
This dentist is not in our provider program, but they took the insurance information. They called and CIGNA agreed to honor the charges. Bob saw a young woman dentist. She had x-rays taken and took pictures with a digital probe. I could see everything on a television screen above the dental chair. Bob was relieved when she said it was an abscessed tooth. He's not looking forward to having it fixed, but it could be worse. Earlier, the physician's assistant at the Outer Banks said it was too for away from his teeth to be an abscess. The dentist opened the abscess, drained and washed it with a salt rinse. She could not deaden that part of his mouth, so it was somewhat sore. She prescribed another antibiotic and pain medication. We can finish our vacation, but she told Bob to make an appointment now for when he returns home. She thinks a root canal is in his future. We returned to the camper to relax for the day.
We decided to extend our visit at the KOA for several more days. The site we were in, site thirty, was reserved for Friday, so we had
to move to another site. The new site, number twenty-eight, was actually adjacent to our original site. We waited at our campsite until
10:00 when the camper at number twenty-eight left. We moved into that site and had lunch.
After lunch, we drove to Ash Lawn Highlands for the afternoon. James Monroe was the builder and owner of Ash Lawn Highlands. He chose this site to be close to his friend, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson actually selected this site for Monroe and had his slave craftsmen prepare the site and start construction prior to Monroe's arrival.
The building was a post and beam home typical of the time, and much smaller than Monticello. Ash Lawn Highlands was a working farm and plantation. The docent for the tour was extremely knowledgeable and had a wry sense of humor. He told many stories about the family and events that occurred here. He told us that during the Revolutionary War, Monroe was shot very close to his heart and it severed an artery. If the surgeon had not been at his side, he would have bled to death on the battlefield. The most interesting part of the tour were the stories that he told about James Monroe. Several times James Monroe was recalled from his post or fired by the presidents, who were also his friends. In fact, Thomas Jefferson fired or recalled him from his post as ambassador to France. After the hour long tour, we walked the grounds and took pictures. Here, as at Monticello, interior photographs were not allowed.
We drove to Shenandoah National Park in the morning. Since we decided not camp there, we wanted to revisit the campground and
see what site we had reserved. On recreation.com, the reservation system for the national parks, one cannot usually cancel
reservations two or three days before the arrival date, so we did not try to cancel. When we got to the campground, we spoke to the
ranger. She said that she would try to get a refund for us, since we did not cancel the reservations. The site we had picked out was a
good size and had a good location. We have stayed at this campground several times before.
We ate breakfast at the Big Meadows Lodge. This lodge is one of our favorites and it was fun to return and enjoy being here again. After we ate, we drove south through the park. At the end of Skyline Drive, we drove to the north entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is no ranger station and there is no fee to drive the parkway. We captured the location on the GPS so we would have information when we returned tomorrow.
Today we drove to the the Peaks of Otter campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway. During our drive, there were more motorcycle
and bicycle riders than automobiles. The motorcycle riders were good drivers, and usually drove in groups of three or four. They kept
to the speed limit and were courteous drivers. The parkway seems to be a popular place for them to ride and camp.
The bicycles were more of a problem. With so many curves and hills, and their slow speed, it was difficult passing them, pulling a fifth wheel. They cannot maintain a speed of more than a few miles per hour going up the ascents. Most were helpful and signaled when they could see there was no oncoming traffic. A few would not move to the right side of the lane to make passing them safer, but kept to the center or left side of the lane. I know we need to share the road, especially on the parkway, but some of the bicycle riders introduced an unacceptable risk factor.
In the afternoon, we drove to Bedford, a town ten miles southeast of the parkway. There is no fuel on the Blue Ridge and we needed diesel for the truck. We finally found a station with diesel and next to them was a Kentucky Fried Chicken. We could not pass up a chicken dinner. We ordered two meals, returned to the camper and ate our KFC. When we camp, our meals are simple, with good food and nutritious. Every once in a while, something like that tastes really good.
The last time we were on the parkway, we stopped at a campground for the night. Next to the campground was a lodge. The lodge
was build next to a mountain lake that came right up to the building. It was stunning beautiful and scenic. We could not remember the
name, but we wanted to find it again on this trip. When we returned here to the Peaks of Otter, we recognized the campground and
lodge. The lake was much smaller and did not reach the lodge as it had several years ago. The corps of engineers drained the lake
and rebuilt the dam. The dam had weakened over the years and was not safe to hold the water at flood level. The dam is completed
now, but the water level is not yet at a normal level. The lake should be at a normal level later this summer.
Yesterday, when we stopped at the lodge, there was a wedding that had just finished. The wedding party was taking pictures with the lake in the background. Further away was an altar and backdrop that was used in the ceremony. Bob told Sue they had the wedding here, so the groom could do some fishing at the same time. (There were some guys in tuxedos with fishing poles, we kid you not!)
We returned to the lodge for a Sunday morning breakfast. When we returned to the camper, there was an adult deer laying on the ground about ten feet from the camper. We thought it was injured, but the ranger later said the deer are "people friendly" and was probably alright.
After breakfast, we bought tickets to ride the shuttle bus to the top of Sharp Mountain. The drive was very steep and curvy, and was only accessible to the tour bus. On the drive up, the driver stopped and let us take pictures of a mother black bear and her three cubs. A short distance further up the trail, we saw a male deer with antlers. The antlers were still growing and were covered with a soft, velvety membrane. According to the driver, this deer lost one eye several years ago in a fight with another male.
The hike from the bus stop to the summit was one thousand, five hundred feet. It was steep and narrow and led to a three hundred sixty degree view of the entire region. We took pictures and video and returned to the bus pickup point. The ride up, the hike to the summit and return ride down took about one hour.
Hallelujah! We have internet access. We have posted the last several journal entries on our web page. We have been writing them,
but could not post them, since there is no cell phone access on most of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We left Peaks of Otter this morning and drove to the campground at Roanoke Mountain on the parkway. There is a weak cellular signal here and we can send email and work on the web site. The drive was about thirty-five miles and we took a leisurely ride. We decided to keep our speed lower than yesterday. The limit is forty-five miles per hour. We tried to keep to the posted limit, but with the hills, curves, and bikers it was a little stressful. From now on, we will keep it slower and pull of on the overlooks to let cars behind us pass. There are few straight passing opportunities on the parkway.
We arrived at Roanoke around 11:00 AM and had lunch. We drive into Roanoke for diesel and some supplies. We saw a Chick-fil-a and decided to drive in later this evening for some salads to take back to the camper. We probably will drive on to Rocky Knob tomorrow, which is a fifty mile drive.
A typical travel day on the parkway. We left for Rocky Knob Campground. We set up camp, ate lunch and drove to Floyd for diesel and milk. Later, we visited Mabry Mill and bought two packages of real, authentic grits. Nothing much exciting. We just hung out at the camper and relaxed.Wednesday, July 16, 2008-Doughton Park, NC
We drove to Doughton Park Campground. After we set up the camper and ate lunch, we drove to Wilkesboro to look for diesel and a
cell phone signal. We found both together at a McDonald's restaurant and an adjacent gas station. We had an afternoon brunch of
fries and drinks while we checked email and make our phone calls. Bob called Dental One to make an appointment to have my
abscessed tooth examined and Sue called Jeff for a haircut appointment prior to preplanning.
We called Julie in Kingsport Tennessee, and agreed to pick up Alyssa Friday afternoon. Thursday, we will drive to Julian Price Campground. After we pick up Alyssa Friday, we will return to the camper at Julian Price. We will spend Friday night, Saturday and Saturday night together with Alyssa. We will return Alyssa to Kingsport Sunday morning.
After supper at the camper, we noticed a number of campers walking to a campsite carrying musical instruments. During the evening, around eight to ten people joined the group. They played and sang songs together for most of the evening. There were about ten other neighboring campers that joined the group as spectators. We were so close that we stayed and listened from our camp site. These campers apparently meet together at the campground and have an informal hoot-nanny from time to time.
Early this morning, around 4:30 AM, We noticed the refrigerator control lights blinking. We got up to investigate and heard a pulsating
noise, also from the refrigerator. We went outside to check the propane gas and both tanks were full or nearly full. When we came
back inside, we checked the battery power and the control light showed the battery was discharged. we didn't think the refrigerator
needed electric power when it was using propane gas. we went back outside and connected the power cord from the truck to the
camper and the refrigerator work properly using the truck battery. We realized that the fridge used electronic ignition, rather than a
manual pilot light. Also, it must cycle on and off, rather than keep a pilot light burning. Last night, we did not run the generator to
charge the camper battery, since the other campers at Doughton were having a hoot-nanny. Normally, we run the generator each
day to keep the power level high. We did not want to deplete the truck battery, so we disconnected the truck power cable and turned
the refrigerator off. We decided to leave early, and the truck alternator would charge the camper battery while we were driving. We
left about 6:30 AM, and the fridge was off for only two hours. Since we did not open the fridge door, non of the food was lost.
While driving to Julian Price Campground, we had to make a detour through Boone, North Carolina due to roadway construction. While in Boone, we saw a Chick-fil-a and decided to stop for breakfast. We returned to the parkway and arrived at the campground around 8:30. We found a good site and set up the camper. While checking into our site, we learned about a major detour to the south from the ranger . We will have to exit the parkway at the Museum of North Carolina Minerals Visitor Center, and re-enter the parkway at Ashville. Some roadways were washed out. It only a small section, but there are no other roads to use for the detour. We will bypass the parkway from milepost 330 and return at milepost 380. Approximately half of the detour is on Interstate 40.
We then drove to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park Visitor Center. This was once a mansion and summer home for the Cone family and the family later donated it to the national parkway. Now, it houses the Parkway Arts Center. There are artifacts made by local artisans for sale there. There are many beautiful and creative works of art there. It has a scenic view of the lake and valley below.
We returned to the camper for lunch and updated our journal.
This morning, we noticed the battery level was low again. Since we were leaving for Kingsport Tennessee to pick up Alyssa, we
would not return before evening. We decided to move the generator from the truck and run it during the day, since we would not be
able to run it when we got back. We have a thick braided wire flexible cable lock. Bob attached it to the camper and started it up. We
left for Boone and ate at Chick-Fil-a. When Bob reached for his wallet, he realozed that he had left it back at the camper. After we
finished eating, we returned to the camper and he found my wallet.
Our second start went smoothly and we took route 321, a curvy mountainous road. The views were scenic and we arrived at Johnson City around noon. Sue called Rob and we agreed to meet for lunch. We drove to his office, picked him up and went to Cootie Brown's for lunch. After lunch, we found a laundromat and washed and dried two duffel bags of clothes. From there, we drove to Dave and Peggy Seale's house in Kingsport. We ate dinner and left around 6:30 PM. We took a route back that Dave recommended. It was somewhat longer, but went through the pass and avoided the high overpasses. We got back to Boone by 8:30 and proceeded to the camper on the Blue Ridge. When we got there, the generator was still running. Quiet hours start at 9:00, so Bob turned off the generator. We didn't think it would run the entire day. Anyway, the battery was fully charged for the evening.
Earlier, we found a really neat book at the Cone Arts Center. It has translucent pages that one can shine a flashlight on and project shadows on a wall. We read the book when it was dark and used the outside camper wall as a backdrop. We all enjoyed the book. Alyssa was excited about it and was anxious to show her mom and dad.
We helped Alyssa get used to the camper and the dark. We bought a small flashlight for her to use at night. She learned how to use the toilet and how to turn on the light. She got used to the dark and we all got ready for bed. Alyssa slept on the dinette, which folds down to make a bed.
Today was our Alyssa Day. It was a non-stop series of events from morning to night. Earlier on our trip, Sue stocked up on games
and toys at the Dollar Store. We did Frisbee, Ball Toss, Cheering, Jigsaw Puzzling, Soccer, Coloring, Drawing, and the main event of
the day, Hiking.
Alyssa and Bob went for a walk around the campground. Sue had bought an insect kit that had a compartment for collecting and observing insects. Alyssa wanted to catch a butterfly and keep it in the kit. We did not see any butterflies on our walk. Bob told her that maybe they all were tired and taking a nap. After that, when we walked into a wooded area, Alyssa would clap her hands to wake up the butterflies. We still didn't have any luck.
After some more playtime, we made lunches and had a picnic at the local picnic grounds. The area was packed with picnickers and we had a hard time finding a table. It looked like there were several reunions and family outings.
After we ate, we drove to Julian Price Memorial Park Lake. This lake is very close to the campground. We parked and started on a two and one half mile hike. The trail was mostly in the forest area surrounding the lake, but some of the hike was on the shore. Alyssa was appointed leader and she led us on our hike. There was one area that was muddy and swampy. We had to walk on a narrow board over some mud to get to a bridge over a creek. That was the adventure part of the hike, right Alyssa? We reached the parking area where we started and returned to the campground. When we returned from the hike, Alyssa wanted to go canoeing. Gigi and Bob-Bob vetoed that idea because we were tired and wanted to rest.
We went to go to Boone for dinner and decided on Applebee's. Alyssa had macaroni and Sue and Bob had a hamburger. When we returned to the campground, Alyssa entertained us by playing soccer. She used the lunch table as a goal and we were the audience. By bedtime, we were all ready to go to sleep.
Today we drove back to Kingsport with Alyssa. We took another route, highway 421. This route was good for most of the way.
However, near the end, we passed over two mountain ridges. The road was very steep and had many hairpin turns. We passed
through Shady Valley, a town that was surrounded by mountains. We decided we would try another road on the return trip. We
would learn later in the day that Dave had written us a note with instructions for a fourth route. That would prove to be the easiest.
Alyssa was excited about the shadow book, Who's There. She wanted to show her mom and dad the book as soon as we arrived in Kingsport. Dave and Peggy were at the lake house when we arrived. We chatted for a while and left on the new route Dave described in his letter. We arrived at the campground and got the camper ready to leave the next morning.
Today we left the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove to Asheville, Tennessee. There is a KOA campground in Asheville that we have
stayed at on other trips. We decided to camp there and have a rest day. We were ready for water and electric utilities and we also
needed to empty the waste water tanks.
We drove south on the parkway for about an hour until we reached the detour. There was a section of roadway that had washed out or had a rock fall. It was a short section that was closed, but since there are no access roads in that area, the detour cut out a large section of the parkway. We exited on a VERY steep and curvy road down to the valley. The signs warned truckers to pick a low gear and not change gears. There also was a runaway truck ramp. The sign said conditions worsened after the truck ramp. We took it very slow. Actually there was no choice.
We arrived at the KOA at 10:30, but check-in is at 12:00. The site was occupied and we had to wait until noon before we could check in. We relaxed and I took a short nap. We had bratwurst on the grill with corn on the cob. Later, we watched a DVD called The Golden Compass.
We slept late, showered and drove back to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We decided to drive to the Mt. Pisgah lodge and have breakfast.
We have enjoyed this area before and it was fun to return again. After breakfast, we headed back on the parkway and exited west of
Asheville. We wanted to do some sightseeing in Asheville. We have not seen much of the area before. After our tour, we returned to
the parkway and drove to the Arts and Crafts Center. This is an outlet for local artisans to display and sell their work. While we were
there, a woodcarver had Native American flutes on display and played a short tune. We would love to have bought one, but they are
We always enjoy visiting this center with all the exceptional artwork and artifacts. We did buy our only T-shirts on this trip. They were navy blue with the Blue Ridge Parkway logo on the front. We also got information about the Mountain to Sea hiking trail that is being developed in North Carolina. It will eventually be over nine hundred miles long. If Bob can't hike the Application Trail, this would be a good alternate route.
From the Arts and Craft Center, we returned to the campground and had a light lunch. Bob brought the journal up to date. We will leave in the morning for the KOA campground adjacent to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. We won't have to take the camper up to the higher elevations and will have water and electric utilities. We plan to spend three nights there and start our return to north Georgia. As of now, our plan is to return to McKinney Campground in Bartow County next Sunday.
Today we arrived at 11:00 and set up the camper at a KOA campground near Cherokee, North Carolina. We set up at the KOA after waiting an hour for someone to vacate our site. After lunch, we drove through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park (GSMP) to Newfound Gap. After taking video and digital pictures at Newfound Gap, we returned to the campground. We cooked salmon on the grill and ate corn on the cob and fresh tomatoes.Thursday, July 24, 2008-Cherokee NC
After eating breakfast at a pancake house in Cherokee, we drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Richland Balsam, the highest point on the parkway at 6047 feet. Then we drove around the north boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Gatlinburg. We stopped at the Sugarlands Visitor Center where we watched a video about the Smokey Mountains National Park. We walked through the exhibits about animals that reside in the park. When we left the Visitor's Center, we drove through the park over New Found Gap back to the Cherokee KOA. After we discussed our dinner plans, we drove to Kentucky Fried Chicken and bought two dinners and returned to the camper to eat while we watched a video.Friday, July 25, 2008-Cherokee NC
Today we decided to return to the pancake house in Cherokee for breakfast. Sue wanted to try a different breakfast. She also had admired a wood carving of a lighthouse and had decided to get it for her birthday present. While we ate breakfast, Bob admired the wood carving of an eagle and decided to get it for Sue's birthday. After breakfast, we drove through the park to Cades Cove. When we arrived at Cades Cove, we stopped at the picnic area to eat the lunch we had packed. We found a picnic bench near a scenic brook. We drove the loop around Cades Cove and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Since we have visited Cades Cove several times, we did not stop at any of the farms or churches.Saturday, July 26, 2008-Bald Mountain Park Campground, Hiawassee, Georgia
During the night, it started raining and was still raining when we awoke. After eating breakfast, we relaxed and waited for it to stop raining. When it started to lighten a little, we decided to start packing up. While we packed, we noticed the children riding their bikes in the rain through the puddles. They were having a great time and didn't care if they got wet. We left the campground about 10:00 and headed for north Georgia. We left Cherokee on Route 441 and stayed on 441 until we reached Route 76 in Georgia. We learned that most of our drive was on four-land highway. Earlier, we had located a campground about half way to McKinney Campground, our final destination. This is a private campground called Bald Mountain Park. We wanted to check it out for future reference. Also, we want to see Fort Mountain, a state park near Chatsworth Georgia. It is near Interstate 75, not far from McKinney Campground. We will drive up to see the park sometime next week.