Let the Good Times ROLL!

Since September 28, 06, we have seen the following National Parks:
Badlands National Park – South Dakota
Big Bend National Park - Texas
Crater Lake National Park – Oregon
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – North Carolina
Mount Rainier - Washington
Mount Rushmore National Memorial – South Dakota
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument - Washington
Redwoods National Park - California
Saguaro National Park - Arizona
Sequoia National Park - California
Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming
Yosemite National Park – California
National Parks and/or Monuments seen on previous vacations:
Jefferson Expansion National Memorial – St. Louis, Missouri
Lincoln Memorial & Washington Monument - DC
Everglades National Park – Florida
Grand Canyon National Park - Arizona
Haleakala National Park - Hawaii
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Hawaii
U.S.S. Arizona Memorial – Hawaii
National Parks we hope to see:
Death Valley National Park - California
Mesa Verde National Park – Colorado
Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico
Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah
Arches National Park – Utah
Canyonlands National Park – Utah
Zion National Park - Utah
Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming


Monday, October 26 - Left Summerton SC around 7:30 am to travel over 400 miles to Lakeland, FL. Overcast skies but no rain during our long drive. We arrived at “home” at 3:00 pm very happy that everything looks like when we left six months ago.
Tuesday, October 27 - Rained all night and overcast with clouds looking like rain all day. Got started on the laundry we saved up to wash in our larger washer/dryer located in the “cottage.” Loving life. Groomed and sheared Mitzy with Ray’s help. She was so hot and exhausted from our long travel time yesterday, she moves from bed to bed sleeping. Worked on garden ideas to make our site more attractive.
bike ride to mt. dora19
Wednesday, October 28 - Now in Polk City Florida with another sunny/overcast day and higher humidity and heat about 90°. What a contrast from Boone NC.
Monday, November 02 - Sunny and cooler temps in mid-80s makes it ok to work outside. Ray bought a pressure washer for the concrete patio and also to clean off the “cottage” when it needs it. It is an investment we preferred to make instead of a one day rental. The picture shows how bad the concrete was before washed.

Tuesday, November 03 - Woke up to 65° with slight wind blowing. Chilly. We had to fast and go to Watson Clinic to get blood drawn. Then we headed for Home Depot to figure out the costs for items needed for planting the Thuja Evergreen trees I ordered (8) yesterday to be shipped UPS. Ray is learning how to use the pressure washer for the 3,000 sq.ft. concrete pad we have. It did a fantastic job. We opened the windows to feel the cool breezes.
7 10 09 Gettysburg PA 7-14-2009 8-13-01 AM 1890x1621Wednesday, November 04 - Another awesome day in sunny Florida. Slight breeze blowing with high mid-80s. At 8:30 am took Mitzy to the Vet to take her blood after a fast to check her liver enzymes. If the count is higher, test for Cushing’s may be necessary. Mitzy has lost all vision in her left eye from a cataract.
We went to dinner with two couples. Our neighbors Roy and Judy, and their guests, Dutch and Marilyn. We drove 25 minutes to Haines City and Manny’s Original Chop House. www.mannyschophouse.com We drove over to be there by 4:00 pm when they open. Good thing as there were hardly any seats available at 4:05. They were running a Wednesday special chicken fajitas for $9.99 for a double order.
Haines city www.ci.haines-city.fl.us/ was platted in 1885, shortly after the South Florida Railroad reached the area. The city was first known as Clay Cut, but there was no railroad station. It is said that the inhabitants persuaded the railroad company to build a station by agreeing to rename their city Haines City, to honor a senior railroad official, Colonel Henry Haines. The early settlers planted citrus groves, and citrus growing and processing became the main industry of the city. In 2004, unusually in a city so far inland, parts of Haines City experienced three hurricanes. Hurricane Charley passed through the city in August. Hurricane Frances came right on the heels of Charley but mostly just dumped a lot of rain. Hurricane Jeanne soon followed packing a punch not quite as strong as Charley but longer lasting. The city has since recovered.
Thursday, November 05 - Sunny blue sky and 10 mph winds with cool front heading our way. In mid 70s today. Ray is now going to work on the cottage cleaning off mildew, leaves, etc. then tackle the large project of pressure washing our 3000 s.f. driveway.
Vet called about Mitzy’s blood work. She has improved with 150 points less on Liver Enzyme count. She was 681 and now is 505. She will have to stay on the same regimen and Denamarin. Normal range for a dog’s liver enzymes is 12 - 118.
Friday, November 6 - Ray completed pressure spraying about 1/3rd of the concrete slab yesterday and still working on it today.
UPS delivered the Thuja Green Giant Hybrids. www.thujagardens.com/GreenGiants.
Thuja Green Giant Hybrid has become the most desired privacy tree almost overnight, and for many good reasons. This uniformly conical tree performs well in most any soil. Virtually disease-free and strong-rooted, it responds well to shearing. Durable accent or specimen tree.
We proceeded to buy the good dirt and bark for mulch and planted the trees three feet apart to allow for steady and fast growth. We want to have a barrier eventually from the back road/fence.
Saturday, November 7 - Very windy (15 mph steady) due to fronts. Hurricane Ida off the lower southwest coast and unpredictable at 90 mph. Steven says no threat to the Keys.
Computer Issues: I had a program appear on my computer that said it was Internet Explorer Security Publisher and there had been a threat to my computer and needed to download Cyber Security. Thinking it was “safe” coming from Internet Explorer, I let the download run. It found 5 threats and 258 infections and in order to eliminate the virus, bugs, whatever, I had to pay $59.95 and offered 30-day guarantee and lifetime membership. Well I immediately went into Control Panel and asked Windows to remove the file (yes it had attached itself to my hard drive). Windows was not able to remove the file. I went online and found out that this is a “bogus” software program. I have used McAfee for three years and I have been satisfied with them. I ran a complete Windows system check that ran about 1 hour and there were no malware or virus. Everything is functioning normal.
Thursday, November 12 - Overcast sky and 55°. A fine mist and 15-mph wind makes it much colder outside.
11 21 09 Lakeland area pics (11)Saturday, November 14 - Beautiful sunny day and Ray decided to ride the Gold Wing. He took some beautiful pictures.
Our neighbors, Judy and Roy, told us about the FMCA Chili cook-off over at the Section 5 Gazebo. We went over on our bikes around 4:30 and met some really nice people. The cook-off was a lot of fun, and the all the chili I taste-tested was great. Two chili cooks included spaghetti noodles in their recipe – new twist?
Monday, November 16 - Another beautiful sunny day. Ray is running errands and I’m working on our blog. Ray attended the MOS Board Meeting.
Tuesday, November 17 - Worked in the yard off and on and Ray helped Roy Anderson next door. They went to Home Depot to pick up an auger to tear up the grass and dirt in Roy’s yard to prepare the land for his Thuja evergreen trees. Ray worked on the air plants that are killing our two pine trees in back. I tried to help him, but the long pole with the sharp edge to it is more than I can handle. I would rather climb up the tree, but that won’t happen. Roy invited us to go to dinner with them to Catfish Country in Bartow. The food was good and prices were right and we shall be back.
Wednesday, November 18 - Ray is really feeling pain in his shoulders from all the work using the pole to pull down the air plants as well as the Spanish moss because it houses mites and chiggers. It gracefully hangs from the branches of the large Live Oaks and pine trees in the back yard, but too much of it will kill a tree.
Spanish moss is neither a moss nor a parasite; rather, it is a tropical, epiphytic herb which grows on another plant upon which it depends for mechanical support but not for nutrients. An epiphyte, or air plant, has no roots. Having through evolution broken all connection from the earth, it is self-sustaining in its manufacture of food and absorption of nutrients from aerial roots. It just uses trees as its substratum on which to grow.

MOS FENCE ACCIDENT (19)Ray found a leak under the truck, so before our trip to the Keys it has to be fixed.  MOS FENCE ACCIDENT (3)Saturday, November 21 – We heard a loud noise outside and then a very loud crash and a scream.  A young woman crashed through our fence and hit the large oak tree in the back yard. Lucky for her she had air bags. But she was very shook up and our neighbor, Judy, a former nurse, knew what to do to keep her calm until the paramedics arrived.

Sunday, November 22 - Very windy day and huge falling leaves from the two 52’ Sycamore trees in back are all over the place. Major cleanup job tomorrow. Readily identifiable with broad, maple-like leaves and a trunk and limb complexion of mixed green, tan and cream.
Monday, November 23 - Plenty of fog outside around 7am. Fertilized the 8 trees in the yard.
Tuesday, November 24 - Packing up to drive down to the Keys in the morning to visit with our son and his wife. About five hours of the same drive we have taken for countless years - boring.
Wednesday, November 25 - We drove in rain most of the way to the Keys. On Hwy. 60 we smelled the heavy odor of the wetlands. There are some farming communities and a numerous acres of flat land with very few trees. Stopped at the rest stop before getting on the Florida State Turnpike. Bought us some donuts and danish as a special treat. Saw a woman walking her Havanese dog outside (looks like a large Maltese). Stopped at Homestead for Wendy burger and fries. Once we got to Steven and Gennifer’s, we had torrential rain off and on most of the evening. We went into Key West to eat at Outback. www.outback.com
Thursday, November 26Thanksgiving Day Gennifer worked in the kitchen all day cooking and the food was excellent. The turkey came out very moist and she gave me the recipe for the cranberry dressing. Amy, Gennifer’s sister, helped Gennifer in the kitchen. Amy brought her dog Milo and he and Indie played all day together. Their close friends, Pat and Harvey from Ft. Myers were also included for dinner. It was a lot of fun. Steven turned on the DVD of the new Transformers movie and it was a bit too much for me. 
The Island of Key West is located on the southernmost tip of America. Steven’s 32’ Yellowfin – awesome!!!


Mitzy decided she didn’t get enough Thanksgiving dinner and raided the garbage in the kitchen. She chewed the turkey carcass and we only found a few remaining slivers of bone. Not a good thing.
Saturday, November 28 - We had such a rough night with Mitzy having diarrhea all night and having to take her outside to poo four times, we didn’t get much sleep. Without sleep, I felt so bad we decided to leave as soon as we showered and packed up. We left around 9:30 am and it took us over seven hours to get back home. Very long drive even for Ray, and so boring for him. I slept off an on all day long and still went to bed around 9pm after unloading the truck totally exhausted.
Tuesday, December 01- It was 58° in the early morning but it warmed up to 76°. I have been corresponding by email with my friend Penny from California about their visit to Lakeland on Thursday, 12/3.
Thursday, December 03 – We had to postpone the visit from Penny and Larry from California. Ray was not feeling well with flu-like symptoms and we felt it might be contagious. We planned to reschedule before they return to California.
Friday, December 04 - It was 57° and very overcast skies. Ray started feeling much better. At noon we had torrential rains and wind.
Saturday, December 05 - It was 55° at noon. We watched the Florida Gators http://www.ufl.edu/ and Atlanta football game for the SEC Championship. The Gators lost dismally and Tim Tebow cried. He is such a special person inside and out, I pray that he will do well in whatever life decisions he may make.
Sunday, December 06 - It went down to 38 degrees overnight. No frost.
Our TV Replacement: Ray and I (helped when asked) worked on getting the old television (Sony old and heavy flat screen TV) out of the front of the RV. After almost two hours, we finally got it out. Very scary getting it out the door. Ray took all the weight of the TV on himself and staggered down the three steps. He had to wait until I was able to get out of the door to help him. Everything ended well, except we need to get rid of this bulky “anchor” soon.
2009 12 14 Penny & Larry visit0116-12009 12 14 Penny & Larry visit0117Monday, December 14 - Penny and Larry drove to Lakeland from Holmes Beach to visit with us. Once they registered at the La Quinta, we went to pick them up and go to the Cobb Theater at the Mall to see Sandra Bullock’s new movie, The Blind Side. It is a true story about a typical stay-at-home mother who takes it upon herself to help a homeless African-American boy, and the impact of her giving him a steady home is that he eventually rises to be the star of the football team, then goes on to win a college scholarship. Based upon the true story of Michael Oher, this movie is particularly timely as in real life he was selected recently as a first round draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, by the Baltimore Ravens.
We all enjoyed the movie and had a great dinner at the local Red Lobster. The next day, Penny and Larry returned to Tampa to stay at the Airport hotel and be ready to catch a plane back to California Thursday morning.
Tuesday, December 15 - Foggy and damp outside with 70 degrees at 8am. Ray is digging the hole for the pipe/post to hold the new Satellite Dish (Slimline). Hope the installer is savvy about motorhome installations.
Wednesday, December 16 – Ray and I drove over to St. Petersburg Tyrone Gardens Shopping Center to visit with some friends from the company I worked at for 23 years. We all had lunch and caught up on what was going on in our lives.
Steven and Gennifer arrived at Disney at a rental house. We packed up to spend a night with them and took Mitzy. Mitzy can keep Indie company while we go to Epcot.
Thursday, December 17 - We drove a half hour to stay the night with Steven and Gennifer at their 3/2 rental house in a nice subdivision very near Kissimmee. We spent the night so we could get a good start on our day Friday. Gennifer had baked cookies and brought us a tin filled with them.
First stop once we arrived at the main entrance to Epcot was to get our picture taken with Daisy Duck.  Gennifer and I loved it. 

Rain drops were felt off and on during our trek through the Disney Epcot park.
We took a boat tour Living the Land.  This engaging 14-minute boat ride travels through the American plains, the rain forest and the African desert to explore how innovative technologies permit food growth while preserving the environment. It was very enjoyable.  Another ride is called Soarin' and is an exciting, multisensory attraction that simulates a peaceful hang-gliding flight over California. Experience the feeling of free flight from 40 feet in the air while surrounded by scenic panoramas including the Golden Gate Bridge, Malibu and LA. I was in a wheelchair most of the time, but still was worn out around 2:30pm.

We returned to the rental home in time for a short nap. Later that day, Steven drove us all back to the entrance to Epcot. It was a very long walk to get from the front gates, so Steven insisted on getting me another wheelchair and quickly pushed me around the park to the restaurant.

Gennifer had purchased four of The Candlelight Processional dining packages. This allowed us to enjoy our meal while guaranteeing us a seat for the show.  New for 2009, a special viewing area for IllumiNations. It's important to note that at times this is THE only way to get a seat. Those with Dinner Packages are the first to be seated - those waiting in line (a.k.a. those who didn't buy the package) will be given the very few seats that remain.
We ate at Tutto Italia Ristorante at the Italy Pavilion at Epcot. http://www.epinions.com/. It is a fine-dining restaurant serving handmade, sumptuous Italian dishes for lunch and dinner. After a fabulous dinner, we waited in line for about a half hour to be seated up front to see the Disney Candlelight Processional at Epcot’s America Gardens Theater. I was thrilled. Such a great restaurant with deserts to die for. Gennifer purchased a meal plan ticket for everyone so we were treated like royalty. We waited in line for about half hour to be seated up front to see the Disney Candlelight Processional at Epcot’s America Gardens Theater.

After the amazing concert, we waited to see the light show on the lake called IllumiNations. Gennifer also bought pastries at the French Village inside Epcot. Napoleon is awesome.
Friday, December 18 - We went to Bob Evans for breakfast. Had yummy vanilla yogurt filled crepes with fresh blueberries. Went to Disney AMC theater to see Avatar in 3D at 12:30. It was an excellent movie and plan to rent the DVD to watch it again at home whenever it becomes available.
Saturday, December 19 - It was 55° and windy. Only up to 64 for the day. Heard high 29 mph winds since 2:30 am. We are so much better off than those living in Virginia and Carolina where they expected 10 - 15” snow. Huge snow storm all the way to Long Island. We drove from Kissimmee back to MOS by 5:30 pm and unpacked. Although we had a blast with the “kids”, we were exhausted.
Sunday, December 20 - Cold 42° at 6:30 am. Ray went to Home Depot and got what he needed for the post to put up the satellite tomorrow whenever DTV shows up.
Thursday, December 24 - All week Ray has been working in the coach getting the large gaping hole where the old TV was ready for the 46” television we got for Christmas. Everyone was sick in St. Petersburg, so we all opted to plan our Christmas together when everyone got better.
Friday, December 25 - It is Christmas Day. Warm night and only 71° in the house. Watching Faith Hill singing Christmas songs on PBS. Strange not planning anything with the family today. We have a large rain front heading our way and it has started to rain heavily.
Saturday, December 26 - Ray got our new Sony 46” LCD TV from Best Buy http://www.bestbuy.com/ lifted and on the mount he had installed. This TV is overkill in my opinion as for the size of it, but it is really great to look at and I can now see it from my desk without my glasses on.

Sunday, December 27 - Drizzling rain and 59 degrees. Clouds and 10 mph wind makes it very cold outside. We ate soup I made from scratch. The TV is awesome and we are loving it, so it is staying! Now I need to purchase the Blu-Ray DVD player to make it a complete package.
Monday, December 28 - We are now expecting a freeze warning tonight and high of 64 today and 60 degrees tomorrow. But the sun is out and sky is very blue.
Tuesday, December 29 - Woke up to 39° temps. At least we were still able to use the electric heat instead of the furnace/floor heat.
Wednesday, December 30 - It was 41 degrees. The sky was a cerulean blue and the sun was bright.
Thursday, December 31 – We worked around the house. Ray worked outside but took the time to ride the Gold Wing since it was such a beautiful day. It saves us about $6 a trip to the grocery store. so he does use the bike more often.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! May 2011 be a great year for everyone!b:if cond='data:blog.pageType !="item"> >

Honey Bear Campground - Boone NC

Thursday, October 01 - Moving today from Forest Lake Preserve (Thousand Trails) to Honey Bear Campground in Boone NC. Beautiful sunny skies and a chilly day with 43 degrees. It is 37° in Boone right now with a high of 66. Got my winter coat out and the RV heat running from the dash. Glad I’m not Ray having to deal with all the outside things that must be done before we pull out. Once we were on Rt. 421, the scenery started to change and saw mountains rise in the distance. We started to climb and elevation was around 2,970 ft. Close to Boone, the hills are filled with Christmas Tree farms. Quite a sight. We arrived at Honey Bear Campground at Boone NC around 11 am. The site we had been assigned was not big enough for our vehicle and the Honda Gold Wing, so we negotiated on getting onto another site that has 50-amp service as well as satellite. The owner juggled a few other campers that will be here for the Wooly Worm Festival on the 17th so that we could stay at this site the entire 30 days. Overall we have more room, the view out the driver’s side is of the woods and has a steep grade below. Ray spoke to a couple that have been camping in a small trailer since May and they said they never used the a/c and had to use a heating blanket every night, even in July. We are at over 3,000 ft. elevation.

The mountains of western North Carolina are among the oldest on Earth, and contain the highest mountain (Mount Mitchell), deepest gorge (Linville Gorge), and several of highest waterfalls (Whitewater Falls, Glassmine Falls, etc.) in the eastern United States, and is also home to the oldest river in North America (the New River) and the two most visited National Parks in the country (the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park). The region also has a stunning diversity of plant and animal life, more, in fact, than the whole of Europe.

We tried to rest after setting up – it was a long day. Ray went down the hill near the entrance to take the bike off. The new site has plenty of parking for the truck behind the coach. We are very near a steep drop-off on the driver’s side. The problem is that this site is costing $100 more due to having 50-amp service instead of 30-amp. But when you figure that we pay $3 per day extra for 50-amp electric at TT parks, it is not an issue. I was happy because this site also gets our satellite signal.
Honey Bear CG Boone NC-3Yeah! Honey Bear CG Boone NC-112009-10-07 Honey Bear CG NC096
The sun was almost gone over the mountain so it is very dark. The weather was fantastic! Windows were open and 66 degrees outside.
In Boone, Fall (Autumn) turns the mountains into a blaze of glory as the fall leaf season begins. The last half of October the dazzling colors against the sky of Carolina Blue are world-famous. A kaleidoscope of color provides a backdrop to enjoy intriguing craft shows, concerts on the lawn, and festivals too numerous to list. September high is around 71 and low 52. October is high of 63 and low in the 40s. Boone is a four-season mountain destination at the highest part of the Appalachian mountains. Named after Daniel Boone, the explorer. Heart of the High Country - where the Parkway began and ended. One of the most photographed, most celebrated sections of the Parkway, the High Country is also home to many attractions and points of interest. Boone is home to Appalachian State University, creating dynamic student population, exciting events, state-of-the-art performances and overall youthful energy. Quaint downtown area has art galleries, restaurants, antique shops, modern hotels, chains and shopping. So much to offer, with quaint towns like Blowing Rock, Banner Elk, Valle Cruces (Vale of the Cross) , Linville, and of course, Boone. There are five major rivers, the Watauga, Linville, Toe, Elk and the historic New River. Three great ski mountains: Beech, Sugar and Appalachian. Also fun cultural events, theatre and festivals. Great mix of people with Appalachian State University and Lees McRae College. Feels like the High Country is the “Jackson Hole of the East Coast!”.
Ray’s Comments: This is our first time in Boone with the RV. We were really looking forward to the cool weather and especially the fall colors. And I naturally was anticipating riding the hilly, twisty-roads of the Smoky Mountains. We wanted to be close to town and selected an RV park on the southern edge with an elevation of 3,600 ft. This park is very small and designed for smaller campers, pop-ups and tents. There are only a few sites for larger rigs. The owner was very accommodating, maybe due to our month-long reservation. The MAIN road leading up to Honey Bear Camp Ground presented several very sharp curves for the RV and tow. At times, I had to occupy some of the on coming lane. I think we were more nervous on our departure than the arrival, too much time to think about the road, but we had no problem. The first four or five days the weather was great, lows in low-40s highs around mid-60s nice and sunny. We toured the local area to get a feel for the location. I rode several days on the Blue Ridge Pkwy around Grandfather Mountain and some back roads. The leaves were in full color at higher elevations and a lot of turkeys and several deer were out and about. The air was very cool and mountain-crisp, which made riding very comfortable. With elevations around 4,000 ft., the early mornings and early evenings were engulfed by the low-lying clouds, mist, or fog. We found most days it burned off by mid-morning. Some of the better bike roads were along the Blue Ridge Pkwy, but the Viaduct at Grandfather Mountain offers unforgettable vistas. Route 221 Southwest out of Blowing Rock parallels the Pkwy around Grandfather and offers an interesting ride. Northeast of Boone, on RT. 421 several miles ride North on route 221/88/194 and Highlands Pkwy, the adjacent creek and surrounding farm land with farm houses dating 1800-1900 added to the delight of this ride. Another surprise ride was between Banner Elk and Route 421 on route 194, which offers a challenge with the outward sloping road in need of repair. After our 5th day, a front came through with misting rain, just enough to make you not want to go out side and this lasted for almost two wks. Steven, our son, and his wife Gennifer rented a 4-bedroom log house in a beautiful subdivision of Blowing Rock. They brought up their Gold Wing and it was great being with them, but the weather hampered the riding. However, we did get out several days together. We also made it to Sugar Mountain’s Octoberfest and took the ski lift one and one quarter mile up to the top for a great view.

Saturday, October 03 - The outside temperature was 50° and it is supposed to be a sunny day in the mid-60s. Our site has a view of the drop off on our driver side and the trees here have already lost a lot of leaves since our elevation is over 3,000 ft. Ray took the Honda out for a ride. We went to the local Boone Apple Festival and bought a 5-lb bag of Jona Gold apples for $5. Enjoyed our visit to Hickory Ridge Homestead, located on the grounds at "Horn in the West," at Boone. An eighteenth-century living history museum highlighting the daily lives of mountain ancestors.
The museum has interpreters in period clothing explaining pioneer life and culture. Regular demonstrations in weaving and hearthside cooking as well as crafts are presented. We had homemade bread with fresh hot apple butter spread. It was delicious. Woman weaving on a 180-year-old loom, spinning wool or any number of hands-on activities can be seen daily. "Horn in the West,” is also famous for the nation's oldest Revolutionary War drama of the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone and the hearty mountain settlers in their struggle to preserve their freedom during the turbulent years of the War for Independence. Sunday, October 04 - Beautiful sunny day and the fall leaves are already falling and made a crunchy carpet as I walked the trails. The trees here are so tall you have to crane your neck to see the sky. Ray is riding the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Honda Gold Wing today.
Some notable facts regarding the Blue Ridge Parkway - 469 miles running north and south. There are 33 hiking trails, four major lakes and ponds, three gorgeous waterfalls and more than 40 scenic overlooks that climb as high as 5,640 ft. above sea level. Mileposts are marked for easy travel. It is an unforgettable journey. Linn Cove Viaduct - MP 304.4: As the final piece of the parkway, the Viaduct was put in place in 1987. “the world’s only bridge built from the top down”, meaning it was airlifted into place using specialized construction helicopters and cranes to avoid defacing the mountain with heavy equipment. It is an engineering feat and a must stop along the parkway.

Wednesday, October 07 ­- We had a forecast of 70% rain in the am and upper 60s. In the afternoon we were under a Wind Advisory until 4pm for 25-30 mph with 50-mph gusts. We were very protected in this park with such large trees surrounding us so we did not encounter any problem.
Thursday, October 08 - It was 40° this morning with sunny skies and mid-70s. Steven and Gennifer left St. Augustine for Boone early. Once checked into their hotel, we all went to the local Italian restaurant in a strip center called The Bistro. Prices for entree' averaged $23-32 and ala-carte menu. Little high for our budget, but the food was certainly very good. I had spinach stuffed ravioli with a luscious sauce. Ray had chicken with pasta without the sauce and he liked it.
Friday, October 09 - Ray and Steven had a fantastic ride on the parkway with fabulous weather, although a little warm, in upper 70s. The roads are fantastic for bikers and photographers. The fall colors are starting to show. Everyone came to the coach to eat chili for lunch. We went to dinner with Steven and Gennifer at Canyons Restaurant. Established in the summer of 2001 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

Canyons is the result of many years in the making. Bart Conway, who opened the very popular Tumbleweed Restaurant in Boone and which later became Cottonwood Brewery, acquired The Emporium Restaurant in Blowing Rock to continue what has become a High Country tradition, casual fine dining in a unique atmosphere with a seemingly endless selection of cuisine. Before its eight-year span as The Emporium, the building was home to Holly's Tavern, a well-established gathering place for friends to meet and enjoy a sandwich, a few beers, and an unparalleled view of the gorge and Grandfather Mountain. Canyons is the culmination of all these previous efforts. The Legend: For nearly a century, this old building has been a haven for travelers and locals alike serving up food and spirits, entertainment and folklore, and one of the finest views of the Blue Ridge anywhere. Throughout ownership by several families and now home to Canyons, it has long been one of the High Country’s favorite hot spots. "Officially" established circa 1936 as The Bark, it has existed as a speakeasy, a brothel, a dancehall, a casino, a grill, a grocery, a tavern, and a restaurant and bar. An early sign out front simply read "Chicken, Dumplings and Fish Bait.

The restaurant would not take reservations for four people, so we had a long wait outside in the cold and when we were seated, the table was right next to the restrooms and the noise was deafening from the crowds, and the cigarette smoke (although contained in another room) was horrible.
We opted to take an outside table and then we waited for another 45 minutes. By that time the fog/clouds had covered the mountain view and the chill had set in. We had jackets, but ordered hot beverages to keep warm until our meal was delivered. I had quesadias and the food was good, except I could not see in the dark where I was cutting. Let’s say I’d give this restaurant another try for lunch, but not dinner, and on a sunny day, not cloudy. 10 23 09 Steven's Rental Blowing Rock NC21
Saturday, October 10 - Rainy overcast day. Steve and Gen had to wait at our place for a few hours before they could move into their rental. The drive to this location is 20 minutes of curves and switchbacks. We stayed home - yeah! Sunday, October 11 - It was not a biking day, so Ray and I decided to visit the surrounding small towns and go to the Oktoberfest at Sugar Mountain. Steven and Gennifer decided to join us. The drive from Steven’s rental home near Blowing Rock to Beech Mountain took us 45 minutes. 2009 10  11 Banner Elk Sugar Mtn Chair Lift. DORA FL-132009 10  11 Banner Elk Sugar Mtn Chair Lift. DORA FL-82009 10  11 Banner Elk Sugar Mtn Chair Lift. DORA FL-11 It was very pretty to see the small towns and fall foliage at its peak. Elevations were up and down between 4,300 to 5,500 ft. Beech Mountain (5,506 ft) is one of the higher peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountain range. Our intent was to get to the Alpen Restaurant and eat lunch and enjoy the view. Unfortunately, they were closed and we were very very hungry! What a disappointment. We drove back to Banner Elk and ate lunch there. Sandwiches were ok, but the coleslaw and potato salad was disgusting. Sugar Mountain was our last stop. The Oom-Pah-Pah band (mostly seniors) was great and we saw several men wearing lederhosen. Although advertised as having over 40 artisan's and craftspeople, there was about half that amount. Booths had canning, homemade bakery items, wooden toys, oil paintings, stain glass, handmade furniture, dolls, copper art, ceramics, honey, beeswax candles, bird houses, and much more. The best booth we visited had delicious cookies and apple pie.
2009 10  11 Banner Elk Sugar Mtn Chair Lift. DORA FL-25
2009 10  11 Banner Elk Sugar Mtn Chair Lift. DORA FL-36
2009 10  11 Banner Elk Sugar Mtn Chair Lift. DORA FL-162009 10  11 Banner Elk Sugar Mtn Chair Lift. DORA FL-15We enjoyed the beautiful fall foliage and a panoramic view of the surrounding area from the mile and a half-long chairlift ride to Sugar's 5,300 ft. peak. Everyone, even mountain bikers are welcome to ride the lift and we saw a bunch.

Monday, October 12 - A front was coming through the Carolinas and the day has been terrible. First drizzle, then more rain, little wind, but the leaves are falling and laying a golden carpet on the roads. Ray went to the movies with Gen and Steven. Doggie-sitting Indie and Mitzy. Wednesday, October 14 - 47 degrees and constant rain. Ray left around 8:45 am to drive to Steven’s rental, about 20 minutes away. Steven wanted to drive to Hickory to shop for jeans, and also see their property. Such a dismal, wet rainy day. Windows are fogged up in the coach and at 11am it is 44 degrees in the park. Ray finally got home around 5:30 pm. Thursday, October 15 - Rainy weather again with high 45 degrees. Steven and Gen came over and we had impromptu lunch and a movie The Invention of Lying. A man named Mark (Ricky Gervais ) lives in an alternate reality in which lying doesn’t exist. Everyone tells the truth and only the truth. In a world where everyone is blunt and truthfully honest, Mark discovers the concept of lying.

Saturday, October 17 - Balmy 34 degrees this morning with a high of 40. No sunshine until Monday. Saw movie: Law Abiding Citizen. Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is an upstanding family man whose wife and daughter are brutally murdered during a home invasion. When the killers are caught, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), a hotshot young Philadelphia prosecutor, is assigned to the case. Great movie. Saw it with Gen’s dad Kim, Gen and Steven.

Sunday, October 18 - I stayed home and Ray shopped for a few groceries and I made chicken soup. Ray and Steven took the Gold Wings on the parkway to take pictures. Lisa and Chuck drove over from Franklin to spend the night with Gennifer and Steven. Gen made dinner for all of us. Baked pork chops and white rice. Apple pie and ice cream for dessert. Everything was delicious. Their “cabin” was well-insulated and loved the fireplace. Gennifer’s dad was visiting from New Jersey too.

Indiana Bones (aka Indie)

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Indiana Bones (aka Indie)

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Met up with Steven, Gennifer, Lisa and Chuck for breakfast in Blowing Rock. After breakfast and our goodbyes to my sister Lisa, Ray and I drove to the grocery store Healthy Harvest Natural Foods & Herbal Pharmacy and I shopped. Fantastic store if you like “healthy”.
Wednesday, October 21 Ray and Steve went on a bike ride for about six hours. Lisa called and they are enjoying the rides over in the Franklin, Cashiers and Highlands areas.

Thursday, October 22 - Ray went for a bike ride with Steven. Then Ray drove Mitzy and I on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Moses Cone Manor and Museum in Blowing Rock.

Beautiful sunny day. Great pictures. Flat Top Manor, as it is known to the locals, is also referred to as Moses Cone Manor, Moses Cone Estate, the Moses H. Cone Mansion, or just Flat Top. On the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is located at Milepost 294 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Built by Moses H. Cone and his wife Bertha at the turn of the twentieth century. Its construction was started in 1899 and finished in 1901. It has twenty-three rooms and 13,000 square feet of living space. He emulated George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The Cones also purchased Flat Top Mountain, and the view of Bass Lake is beautiful. Flat Top Manor was a filming location for the movie "The Green Mile".

Grandfather Mountain with snow.
10-18-09 Honey Bear & Misc pics3010-18-09 Honey Bear & Misc pics1310-18-09 Honey Bear & Misc pics48 Friday,October 23 - Rainy day today. Ray and I discussed our options to leave NC early and now we will pull out of here on Sunday morning early. Steve, Gen and Indie stopped by and we offered what we had for their lunch before they all left for a movie in Boone. We drove in the rain and fog over to Blowing Rock’s Best Cellar restaurant to meet Steve and Gen and celebrate Ray’s 69th Birthday. We had fabulous food. The restaurant is part of the Ragged Gardens Inn and B&B. Surrounded by an acre of formal and "Ragged Gardens", this early 1900's manor offers an enchanting hideaway in the heart of the historic village of Blowing Rock.
Saturday, October 24 - Ray’s 69th birthday. He is handling the outside chores to prepare for our early departure tomorrow morning. Steve and Gen are also leaving tomorrow to return to the Keys. The rains were torrential last night, but the sun is out and the sky is very blue with high clouds. The hills are full of running streams created by the rain and we are very glad we are high up so things will start drying out. It is so beautiful, although 90% of the leaves are off the trees now. 10 28 09 Summerton SC410 28 09 Summerton SC6

Sunday, October 25 - Moving out of Honey Bear Campground, Boone NC to Big Water ROD Park in Summerton SC. Making it a one-night stay and returning to Florida. Beautiful day to drive down the mountain. We did not encounter one on-coming vehicle on the three switchback curves. The mountains are still quite scenic with gold, yellow, and red mixed among the evergreens. It was cool and comfortable in Summerton SC. It will be a real shock to be back in Florida with high 80s in Lakeland.

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FULL TIMING? Our first thoughts on such a monumental change of direction in our lives started with the purchase of a 32' Toy Hauler-KZ 5th Wheel early 2006. We took a vacation in May and traveled the mountains of North Carolina. We liked the fact we had our own bed to sleep in and could see surrounding areas either on our Honda Gold Wing or GMC truck. However, during the vacation, we found that the KZ 32' 5th-wheel was entirely too small, even for a long weekend. We wanted to trade up. One thing led to another and we started to question the next three years before Marsha was scheduled to retire.After much soul-searching, prayer, and financial calculations, Marsha requested early retirement for personal and physical reasons.Full timing meant we were saying "goodbye" to all that is familiar. Everything happened so quickly we didn't have time to contemplate that aspect much. We research everything thoroughly before we purchase. This would be our new home and we wanted all the "bells & whistles" within our budget. Lazy Days in Seffner, Florida had a new National, 2006 Tradewinds motorhome available at the right price. It has a 400-HP Turbo diesel engine and many amenities. We did get the "cart before the horse" purchasing the RV before selling our home. It was the worst time of year to sell a home in Florida. We sold with only a month before closing! Thankfully, we had our new "home on wheels" in our back yard for preparation.

It became clear that our personal craving for travel and adventure overcame our requirement for a traditional home with all the things that seemed so important.Getting rid of clutter can be liberating. We did not want to pay for storage. Collectibles such as our Fenton glass, sets of crystal glass, or ceramic pieces were handed over to family members or close friends for their enjoyment. We had a two-day garage sale and anything remaining went to charity. We feel the flexibility and comfort of RV travel far outweighs any pinch felt at the fuel pump. Let the Good Times Roll!