Our Trip North, Part I

The first big stop on our trip north was Maggie Valley, NC, but before we got there we had two stops to make.  The first was in Fort Benning, GA. We stayed at the MWR Campgrounds available to military personnel on the Alabama side of Fort Benning in Fort Mitchell. The name of the campground is Uchee Creek Army Campground and Marina. It was a gorgeous place to stay. We enjoyed our evenings sitting out in front of the RV watching the deer eat. They would wonder throughout the park all day and night.

In the campgrounds @ Uchee Campground, Fort Mitchell, Alabama

In the campgrounds @ Uchee Campground, Fort Mitchell, Alabama

Right at our campsite at Uchee Campground, Fort Mitchell, Alabama

Right at our campsite at Uchee Campground, Fort Mitchell, Alabama

Deer at Uchee Campground, Fort Mitchell, Alabama

Deer at Uchee Campground, Fort Mitchell, Alabama

Our site was number 404, which was right off a great parking area where we could watch the paratroopers do jump maneuvers. Being that both my husband and son were both in Fort Benning, it made this stop very emotional. My husband went through basic training and Ranger School at Fort Benning back in 1984 and my son went through basic and Airborne School here in 2009. We spent time driving through the base seeing what had changed since Greg was here 32 years ago. We saw lots of soldiers going through obstacle courses and range practice. Another highlight of the trip was going through the National Infantry Museum. Although I had toured the museum back in 2009, it was special to get to share this with my husband who had more knowledge to share of the different things to be seen. Of course anybody military related knows that you don’t go near a base without going to the PX and Commissary. This was my first time at a PX like this and boy was I surprised by all the things you could buy. 

National Infantry Museum, Columbus, GA

National Infantry Museum, Columbus, GA

National Infantry Museum, Columbus, GA

Flags at half mass, National Infantry Museum, Columbus, GA

Paratroopers doing jumps

Our last day here we sat and watched the paratroopers do several jumps. I can’t believe my son was doing jumps like this just a few short years ago. It amazes me what these soldiers go through to train to protect our freedom. Each night as we sat in the RV chilling from the day, we could hear C-130’s fly over our house. We speculated that they were doing night jumps as that is also part of the training.

Paratrooper Jump - watching within walking distance from our campsite

Paratrooper Jump – watching within walking distance from our campsite

Paratrooper Jump - watching within walking distance from our campsite

Paratrooper Jump – watching within walking distance from our campsite

Paratrooper Jump - watching within walking distance from our campsite

Paratrooper Jump – watching within walking distance from our campsite

The second stopover was in Cumming, GA at Bald Ridge Creek Lake on Lake Lanier. I had hoped we would be able to get in some fishing on the full day we had here, but unfortunately I wasn’t feeling very well, so I spent the day recuperating, so I would be more than ready for our time in Maggie Valley.

Maggie Valley

Our stay in Maggie Valley started on Friday the 15th of July having arrived around 2:30 pm. We enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant the first evening, Garrett’s. I had trout for the first time and didn’t realize it taste and looked a lot like salmon. It was great.

On Saturday we took off for Cherokee, NC to see the Oconaluftee Indian Village, the Qualla Arts and Craft Mutual, Inc. and the Museum of the Cherokee Indians. Everywhere we went we learned more and more about the way of the Cherokee. 

Of course a trip to Cherokee would not be complete without seeing waterfalls and we saw two of them. The first was Mingo Falls, which is actually in Cherokee. You have to walk .04 miles to get to it, but it is so worth it.  There is a platform to stand on and see the falls from the top, but you can also go down the mountain to get to the bottom. I wasn’t brave enough to go all the way to the bottom, but we did make our way about half way down. 

Mingo Falls, NC

Mingo Falls, NC

Mingo Falls, NC

Mingo Falls, NC

Since it was raining on our way back to Maggie Valley, we postponed seeing the second waterfall until Sunday morning as it is actually closer to Maggie Valley than Cherokee. You could hear the roar of the falls as soon as you get out of your vehicle. The walk is not that far and the beauty of the falls is grand. My pictures don’t do it justice.

Soco Falls, NC

Soco Falls, NC

Cataloochee Valley

On Sunday afternoon, with our two dogs in the backseat, we headed for Cataloochee Valley hoping to see Elk. After waiting for what seemed like all day, finally after a few rain showers the Elk started coming out of the woods. At the first location we were at we saw a total of 8, which included two babies. They were totally adorable running and playing together just like children. At one point, a mommy and baby drifted from the rest of the herd and made their way to where a couple trucks were sitting just below us. Although the baby laid down in the grass, the mommy kept drifting until she ended up crossing the road to the creek. After about 45 minutes or so of viewing these magnificent creatures we started our trek out of there. Greg was disappointed that we didn’t see any bulls, but we weren’t down the mountain yet. Sure enough we came upon another open field to several cars sitting still on the side of the road and sure enough there were 6 more cows (females) and 2 bulls (males). While Greg drove along ever so slowly I jumped on the back of the truck for better photo opportunities. I’m sure I looked crazy to the other viewers, but it was worth it for these up close pics.  In addition to the elk, we also saw twelve turkeys.

6 Cows and 2 Babies at Cataloochee Valley, NC

6 Cows and 2 Babies at Cataloochee Valley, NC

Mommy who drifted from the herd for the creek for water.

Mommy who drifted from the herd for the creek for water.

Mister Bull....Mister Bull....You look so good!!!

Mister Bull….Mister Bull….You look so good!!!

Love the rack on this Elk, Cataloochee Valley, NC

Love the rack on this Elk, Cataloochee Valley, NC

The scariest part of this trip was the ride up the side of the mountain and back down. I was totally wishing I had a brake on my side of the truck because the road was very narrow and at some points there was only one lane and you could not see around the corner, so you had to pray there was not another car coming at you.

This road is a lot smaller than it appears especially when passing another car!

This road is a lot smaller than it appears especially when passing another car!

Wheels Through Time

Our visit through Maggie Valley included a fantastic museum devoted to motorcycles called Wheels Through Time. There are over 300 bikes including a double bicycle from 1896 to motorcycles in the early 1900’s. If you’re a lover of motorcycles, especially Harley’s then you would love to tour this museum. In addition to the motorcycles, there are automobiles from the early 1900’s as well as lots of memorabilia that was very impressive to be seen.

Our last day was filled with a trip to Asheville for a trolley ride. We started at the visitor’s center and done the hop on hop off trip that included 10 stops throughout Asheville. The driver was very informative and he shared a lot of information about the city. The one thing that stood out the most was when we drove past a McDonald’s and the driver said it was the swankiest McDonald’s you would ever see as it has a piano and marble columns. Made me want to jump off the trolley and see for myself, but instead I just took his word for it.

The first leg may be over, but we still have lots of miles to cover before this 4 month adventure is over. Our next big stop will be in Ohio with a couple stops on the way. Hope you will continue to follow our trip and see where we end up.

For more photos from each of our stops click on the links below:

Uchee Creek Campground, Ft Mitchell, AL

Paratrooper Jumps, Ft Benning, GA

Ranger School, Ft. Benning, GA

National Infantry Museum, Ft Benning, GA

Cherokee, NC

Mingo Falls, NC

Soco Falls, NC

Cataloochee Valley, NC

Wheels Through Time, Maggie Valley, NC

Asheville, NC

Our RV Journey to Louisiana

June 17th – 20th – Eastbank Campground, 153 Eastbank, Bainbridge, GA

We arrived at Eastbank Campground on the 17th a little before 5:00 pm. We had site A01 with a waterfront view. Unfortunately the place was covered with Mayflies, which attacked our rig and truck and would attack you when you got close to them. Despite the annoyance, we still enjoyed our view and gator watched every day we were there. I know most people prefer whale watching and when I finally get a chance to do that, I’m sure it will be more thrilling than watching gators. 

Mayflies

The first day we saw at least 4 different ones floating around going back and forth in front of our site. Being that we didn’t get up close and personal and because they were in the water the whole time, I can only guess how long they really were, but based on the size of their head and the length of the body that rose out of the water, I would say they were anywhere from 3 feet on the small size up to about 10 – 11 feet long. On the second day, we didn’t see as many, but there were still some floating about.

Alligator floating at Eastbank Campground

Alligator floating at Eastbank Campground

Another shot of Mr. Alligator

Our stay ended on Monday when we headed for Fort Pickens, Florida to spend a few days on the beach.

June 20th – 24th – Fort Pickens Campgrounds, Fort Pickens, Florida

We left around 9:30 (CST) on the 20th headed for Fort Pickens. We arrived around 1:15 PM at the registration station, but had to wait until 1:30 for them to open up as they close for lunch every day. While waiting we got to see the Blue Angels practicing. Check-in was a breeze. Our rate here was only $13/night using our Access pass discount. Not sure going without sewer for several days is worth it, but we’re learning to use less water so we can make it through our stay without having to go dump. One thing we learned as soon as we got to our site is we really should have bought a shorter rig. This thing gets bigger when you try to put it on what they tell you is a big enough site, but when you have trees on both sides, a 38.6 ft. fifth wheel is not going into that space. Luckily they found us another site a little further down and we were set up in no time. We spotted a dog park on the way in on day one and took the dogs by to walk in the sand. We found out real quick like that our dogs are not water lovers. They did not like the sand, nor the water. Can’t blame them, I don’t really like the sand and salt water either. I prefer pool water. With that being said, why did we come to the beach? I have no idea! My husband said he wanted to stay here, so I made it happen. 

Beautiful sunset at Fort Pickens

Another shot of that beautiful sunset

We did spend one night down on the beach watching the sunset. It was quiet and serene. The pictures above really don’t do it justice. We saw several families having family portraits made. Being a photographer myself, I love to see families preserving their family memories.

June 24th – 29th – Bayou Segnette State Park, Westwego, LA (New Orleans)

Once we left Ft. Pickens, we headed towards New Orleans. This was my second trip to the city, but the first since Hurricane Katrina. The main place I wanted to go to was Café de Monde to taste some beignets. My husband had never tasted beignets before. I don’t think he was really that impressed with the place. I have to admit they weren’t as good as I remembered them the first time. The weather was extremely hot and humid during our entire stay, which made enjoying our time almost impossible. On Saturday, I drove to Baton Rouge to meet up with my daughter that I hadn’t seen in over a year. It was great catching up and I hated to leave, but we will see each other again soon.

On Sunday, we made our way to New Orleans to see what we could. We were there during the heat of the day and it was miserably hot. We parked at Algiers and took the ferry across. We were able to see one of the Carnival Cruise lines, which was cool. Once we landed at Canal street we strolled to Café de Monde and ate our beignets, then strolled the streets some more. My husband wanted to drink a beer on Bourbon Street and he got his wish, but I have to say that street was so gross. The smell was absolutely disgusting. I could not get back to the ferry soon enough. I came to the conclusion that for me I have not lost anything in New Orleans and have no intentions of going back. 

On the ferry headed to New Orleans

On Monday we drove to Cabela’s about an hour’s drive away. This was our first time ever being in one and it was very interesting and entertaining with all the animals. I have no idea if all the Cabela’s are decked out this much with animals, but this one was very unique. In the evening a huge storm with thunder and lightning came and we lost power until the next day around noon. Lucky for us we have a generator, so we were able to have power. By the time power was restored on Tuesday, I was in no mood to get out, so we stayed at home. I was more than ready to leave on Wednesday headed for West Monroe. Some shots from our time in New Orleans.

St Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA

Dog on curb just sitting there. Owner wanted money if you took pic.

June 29th – July 2nd – Jimmie Davis State Park, Chatham, LA (West Monroe)

From New Orleans, we headed towards West Monroe. I had found another state park in the town of Chatham about 30 minutes south of West Monroe. Once we got off I-49, we were on back roads with miles and miles of nothing. We got our worse scare in trying to find diesel, so much so that by the time we got to the park, dropped the rig and found diesel, it was saying “0” miles left of fuel. I’m sure we had driven at least a mile with it saying “0”. I was doing some major praying hoping God would watch over us and thankfully he did and we got fuel before we ran out. 

Across the street was a mom and pop restaurant, J&H that we got dinner at. The food was decent and the sweet tea totally delicious. The atmosphere inside was that of an old-time diner with scriptures on the wall, family pics and many, many servicemen and women who have served our country for many years. 

On Thursday, we headed to West Monroe to find Duck Commander. It was easy to locate as it’s right off the main road. They have an area where you can make your own duck call and get a bobble head. We didn’t do that; we only got a picture made and viewed all the stuff in the store. From here, we went to Willie’s Diner for lunch. It was much bigger than what I expected. The food was good. We tried boudin for the first time. They talk about it on the show and we had no idea what it was. I have no idea what was in it and I probably don’t want to know, but it wasn’t bad. We also drove to the neighborhood that the boys all live in. Although you can’t get to their front door, we could see the back side of Jep and Jessica’s house. As for Si’s place, we drove right in front. I tried to get my husband to stop, but he wouldn’t. I told him I wasn’t scared to knock on their door. Maybe next time.

Duck Commander RV

Duck Commander 18-wheeler

Willie’s Diner, West Monroe, LA

Martin from Duck Commander

July 2nd – 5th Okatoma Resort & RV Park, Hattiesburg, MS

After West Monroe, we were headed back towards Florida, but we made two stops in Mississippi before getting there. Our first stop was at Okatoma Resort. It was an interesting place. They have several sites and at first wanted to put us in a back-in on the lake, but it was way too small for our rig, so we got a pull-thru, which is what we prefer. We were literally parked in what looked to be a dirt parking lot that they added extra sites to as an afterthought from the original park. It has a lake that you can fish in, a swimming pool and more, but even with all that we probably wouldn’t stay here again. The best part about this location was the farmers market located on the left side of the road when driving towards Hattiesburg. It was beautifully decorated with nostalgic decorations that reminded me of the good ole’ days and the fruit and veggies were delicious.

Okatoma Resort

July 5th – 7th – Davis Bayou Campground, Ocean Springs, MS

Our second Mississippi stop was in Ocean Springs which was just south of the bridge to Biloxi. We wanted to spend a little time at a casino, just for the sake of saying we had been. Luck was not on our side and it just made me think why do people spend hours and hours playing on slots losing money. It was crazy. The park we stayed at was the best place we had been in the past 3 weeks. We ventured out the first night for a good place to eat and found McElroy’s. I thought I was going to bust by the time I got through eating. I had shrimp and grits and they were the best I have ever eaten. The hubs had an oyster po’boy, which was not so good. He said the oysters should have been fried more for his taste. 

Hard Rock Cafe, Biloxi, MS

July 7th – 9th – My Parents

This journey was supposed to land us back in Molino, Florida at my parents to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday. I won’t bore you with all the details that took place. I’ll just say that things didn’t go quite the way I had hoped. But I was able to see my two-year old grandson who I hadn’t seen in over a year. It made this trip worth all the bad we went through especially when that little man give his Nana much-needed hugs and kisses. He really knows how to make this Nana feel loved. On the 9th, we left my parents around 5:00 pm and found a little “hole in the wall” place about an hour away off exit 83 on I-65. It was perfect for an overnight. The pull-through was long enough we didn’t have to unhook and we could begin our 4 month journey the next day.

Let the journey begin……

How We Spent Our Time on Lake Guntersville

We just spent three of the best days on Lake Guntersville.  I found this place by luck searching for lakes in Alabama and wish I had gone there long before now. The place is called Honeycomb Campground and is a national park run by Recreation Resource Management. Our site was right on the waterfront. We fished on the lake every morning and evening and had the most wonderful time. Although we didn’t catch as many fish as we would have liked, we still enjoyed our time on the water. We fish in our kayaks and take our little doggy with us. As you can see from the photos below he was content whether he was in front of me looking over the sides for fish or laying on the back cooling it in the breeze.  The peacefulness while peddling through the water was totally awesome.  I could have stayed on the water all day long doing nothing but floating around.  The sunrise and sunsets were so gorgeous. It makes me appreciate God’s beauty when I see things like this.

Sunrise on the 5th

Sunrise on the 3rd

Sunrise on the 5th

The dock viewable from our front yard.

Packed up to leave on the 6th. You can see how close we were to the water.  We could put our kayaks in the water right at our site.

We are headed back to Florida to visit with family, attend our granddaughters 2nd birthday, and then take our oldest grandson on a trip to Tennessee before ending our time in Florida with a beach trip with my daughter and her family before heading out west in mid-July.

Hope to see you all on the road! 

Our First Day in the RV

Just when I thought I wouldn’t have to set an alarm clock again, we decide to take the RV in to have a washer/dryer installed before starting our journey. If there’s one thing I hate worse than cold temperatures, it’s going to the laundromat. Since it had rained on Sunday, we didn’t get much of the outside breakdown done, so we were up early to get everything done so we could travel all the way across town through morning traffic to get to Camping World on the other side of town between 9 and 10 am. We made it by 9:30. It took 3 hours for them to get finished. Unfortunately we had to go back by the park we had left this morning before starting down I-65 towards Florida so it was 1:30 pm before we really got started.

We drove 257 miles, which took 4 ½ hours. It rained off and on and we only stopped once for gas. We were anxious to try out the new purchase, so we stopped in Hope Hull, Alabama at Montgomery South RV Park for the night, as opposed to staying in a parking lot. We arrived right at closing time, but thankfully the attendant checked us in before leaving. 

We put a load of laundry on and was going to let it go through the wash cycle and then start the dry cycle; however, I messed up the settings and ended up washing the load again. Before it could get through the second wash cycle and start drying I was ready for some sleep, so I have no idea how long it took or what happened. We bought the Splendide 2100XC model. I’ll update after we use for a while and let people know how it’s going.