Thursday, September 22, 2022

Interstate 40, KOAs, Seven States, and Avoiding COVID in 400 Square Feet

 September 13-20, 2022
North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona

Both of us are feeling good about our decision to head back to Arizona early. Bill is feeling better, but hooking up the Jeep is exhausting. So I make sure we have pull-through sites at all our stops across the country. With one exception we stay hooked up all the way.

We also don't hook up sewer until our last stop before getting to the house - we know that we can do a week easily. Not having to mess with the Jeep or sewer makes all our stops much less tiring for the outside guy. Yes, I could do the Jeep, but I can't hook up sewer to the rig because of the way the hose lines up :-(

Some people would power through in a few days, but except for extending the time I'm exposed in a small space, there's no urgent reason to take less than a reasonable pace. It's also double and triple what I normally drive on moving day :-) As we were covering all those miles and staying one night only, I couldn't help but think of all the amazing places we were passing by. And yet I know many travel that way all the time - and I still don't get it! 

We were fortunate to be on I-40 already, so it was a no-brainer to just get on and head west all the way. It's a great highway with mostly well maintained surfaces, good signage through cities, plenty of truck stops (OMG the number of trucks!), and KOAs where we needed them. Only Little Rock didn't have an opening for us so we stayed in a little private field/park just off the highway. The only complaint was the lack of rest areas - with few exits in some areas, there wasn't even any place to pull over. Having facilities onboard is good for the passenger, not as helpful for the driver!

North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas

One of the nicer KOAs with amazing green space.

We want to come back and spend time in the North Carolina mountains.

Feeling pretty special in Tennessee with our own pilot car :-)

Surprised we were able to get satellite at this Arkansas KOA.

Oklahoma KOAs are a little rougher, but they have more fun!

So cute. 

I have avoided KOAs in the past due to cost compared to others in the same area. But the Journeys we stayed at were all good options.

In Arkansas we test again. Bill is still positive, I'm still negative, and we both have no symptoms. N95 masks, lots of Lysol, and immunity supplements for me are working. Bill sleeps a lot which helps in his overall healing. And he's not smoking :-)))))

We drive through stunning views with space opening up the further west we travel. We're both pretty tired of all the trees we've been surrounded by for months, so when we get to Oklahoma those long, eye-stretching vistas are very welcome. Nice to get across Texas in the skinny part so we don't have to stay there, and then the absolute beauty of New Mexico takes over!

Ooooklahoma - our 47th state.

Lots of Mother Road identity the further west we travel.

At last something other than corn or soy beans, sorghum is a pretty crop in Texas.

It's rare for us to have more than 150 miles on travel day, but over 300 on one highway is a first.

Leaving Santa Rosa, NM, also means leaving the Interstate. So of course we start with an issue. In addition the coolant light comes on.

Bill is able to add coolant which resolves that, but our DEF is full so we head out. Within 10 miles the notification goes off and never returns. 

Mesas and railroad tracks. Several desert trains, over a quarter mile long.

Our last stop is Las Cruces, NM, where the KOA is above the city with narrow (our slide is right at the dividing line) sites and clean grounds.

And beautiful views all around the park. 

As much as I regret missing the six more weeks of exploring we had planned, I'm loving being back in the West. The gorgeous mountains and dryer air feel like home. 

We get an early start, back on I-10 where we started back in April. I'm glad I-40 wasn't as rough for all those miles we covered! Unlike all the other times we've been in New Mexico, there's no wind on either side of Las Cruces. 

With the time changing again in Arizona, we're turning onto Hwy 80 about 10:30 AM. Our beautiful San Pedro Valley is bright green, and the surrounding mountains all so familiar. 

Turning off the engine in our driveway, I take a deep breath - we made it! Wonderful to get some Jeff hugs, and to be back in our little desert home. 


Back in Tombstone.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Changing Plans in Beautiful Asheville, NC - A Quick Update

 September 10 - 13, 2022
Asheville, North Carolina

Although Bill is feeling better, hooking up the Jeep wipes him out on Saturday morning. This is not going to be something he bounces back from quickly. We have heavy rain all the way to Asheville. Climbing to the summit in the Pisgah National Forest is like scaling a waterfall with sheets of flowing water on the highway. 

Row, row, row your.......

I attempt to be helpful unhooking the Jeep upon arrival in the pouring rain, but I'm probably just in the way. Expecting a water-electric-only site at the KOA East, finding full hook-ups is a wonderful surprise. We're level with 30 amps and our satellite connects - critical for this first week of NFL football! Initially this makes us plan to stay here a week for him to continue to improve. I only have two more reservations which I cancel. 

Sun light bounces off the river near our site.
Sunday we spend all day watching as many games as possible. My Steelers have a great game with much drama at the end that finally results in a win! We're unable to get the Dallas (Bill's team) game on NBC (a stupid reality with DirecTV), but turns out it's just as well as they have a horrible game. Tessa and I take a couple walks through this beautiful park between the mountain and the river. Lots of kids enjoying the bikes and peddle quads provided by the park - it's a great spot for families.

Monday Bill is continuing to feel better and we discuss the reality of "what if I get COVID too". As beautiful as it is here (and as perfect as the weather is), we agree it's not worth the risk of having us both down. We'll miss three visits with high school friends and the last two states that will finalize our 48, but it feels like heading back to Arizona is the smartest decision at this point. 

Hopefully we'll have great weather to enjoy a million miles on I-40 :-))

One of two "foster" kittens Ezra is caring for. 

Reese focused at play - such a cutie.

Tuesday we head out for a longer drive than usual - what will be our norm for this modified route.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

A Hospital Stay is Never on the List of Things to Do

 September 6 - 10, 2022
Jonesville, North Carolina

For the first time, I modified a blog post after it was published. Originally the previous post included a final note about Bill being in the hospital, but since family didn't know yet I didn't want that to be the way they found out - so I deleted that bit. A couple of you saw it before the change, but Bill was able to tell the boys directly - much better.

Monday afternoon Bill is struggling to catch his breath so I take him across the street to Urgent Care. Unknown to me (for some reason they don't think to look for me in the waiting room) they send him to the hospital in an ambulance 20+ minutes before I ask about his status. I find him at the ER breathing much easier.

We're told he's going to be kept a couple days to deal with pneumonia and other issues. I'm grateful for our current and next-stop RV parks for their flexibility with our necessary travel changes. Also for the ER doctor who manages to get the local hospital to keep Bill here rather than transferring him 45 minutes to Winston-Salem. Although I'm confident he's going to be fine, these factors lessen the stress of medical issues on the road. No one puts a hospital stay on their list of activities!

A big surprise is his positive COVID test. Just as surprising to the hospital staff as they agree he doesn't have symptoms. Alas it means he's on a closed unit where I can only visit once a day for two hours in full gown. Fortunately they allow Tessa to join me, but Bill can't pet her. I test negative.

Safe haven.

Somehow we just knew we'd have strong Internet here :-)

Over the next few days I mostly hang around home before and after our two-hour visits. Wednesday I figure this is a good opportunity to have sushi which Bill doesn't like. The closest is in Mt Airy, 30 minutes away. While the sushi is mediocre, the town that inspired the fictional town of Mayberry RFD has a cute downtown to explore. My favorite discovery is the vintage police cars (there are two) that give visitors tours of the points of interest. Apparently the pic I thought I took, I didn't :-(

Maybe the sushi would have been better if this dude wasn't staring at me the whole time!

A very pretty area.

Mt Airy, NC - the original Mayberry RFD, home of Andy Griffith.

Like the bears and seals found in other small towns, Mt Airy features painted fiddles in their downtown.

It may be Andy's hometown, but Barnie is the most celebrated.

This advert was discovered when the building beside it was demolished - they were built less than a foot apart. It was restored and the space converted to a resting area for historic downtown.

Thursday the doctor(s) confirm Bill is doing great, and can likely come home on Friday. We're ready to have this blip in our plans behind us! I make new reservations for our next stop, and cancel one to make a longer drive that keeps us on schedule to visit friends in Tennessee next week. Like sushi, Thai food is also not a favorite of Bill's. I love it, and make a stop to celebrate the good news. 

Panang Curry at Prime Thai - sooo much better than the sushi!

Every afternoon.

Getting out of the hospital always takes longer than it should, but he's finally released and we're back home together. I guess I just blocked out the whole "you're going to be living in 400 square feet with COVID" reality of his coming home. Of course short of masks and lots of disinfectant and taking immune booster, I'm not sure exactly what there is to do. Not like I can strap him on the roof!   Hmmmmm......

Not sure what the deal is with us and September! In 2020 the slides quit and we came back to Arizona early. Last year the SUV crashed into the house and we were back early again. This year we have this drama! Hopefully he continues to feel better, but we know we might have to return early once again if not. 

More rain expected for our Saturday drive, but we're grateful to be continuing west.

Henry off to pre-K

And so is Reese.

Aaaaand Little M too!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

The Blessing of Good Friends Along the Way

 August 30 - September 5, 2022
Wytheville, Virginia - Jonesville, North Carolina

It didn't look like it was going to be possible, but a couple weeks ago Sherry (On My Own) and I realize that our routes are going to cross after all! I make a couple quick adjustments, get a reservation at Stony Fork Campground where she is staying this week, and after too long since the last time, we're able to have a meet up with this dear friend! 

Our Tuesday drive south on I-81 is easy and quick. We arrive at the campground (after missing the turn and having to unhook the Jeep to turnaround) before 1:00 in pouring rain. Of course the sun is out ten minutes after we're set up in our shady, 30 amp, electric-only site.

Wytheville, (with-vill) Virginia is named for George Wythe, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and mentor to Thomas Jefferson. It's also famous for being the only Wytheville in the world :-) And it's home to this lovely national park.

We've been blessed with many new friends since hitting the road in 2015, many like Sherry who I connected with through our blogs before we moved into the RV. Meeting many of them many times around the country has been a wonderful highlight of this lifestyle. We last saw Sherry with David who sadly has passed away, back in 2018. She now travels solo, continuing the hiking and kayaking and discovering that she and David enjoyed for years. She's my hero! 

Over our two day visit we enjoy a couple meals and plenty of wonderful conversation (we share identical views on so many important issues). A short drive to Big Walker Lookout to see what we can see in between. I'm so glad we could make this visit happen!!

A nice young woman offers to take our pic with Sasquatch, and while it's not a great one, I'm happy to have the memory captured.

Finally, a lookout that does!

A perfect 78 degree day.

For $8 you can climb the over 220 stairs to the top for an even longer view. I can't, and we don't, but you could.

Wonderful spending time with this lovely woman!

We check out a nearby campground that is "a good place to crash" :-))))

Two handsome billy goats along the road. The larger one turns his head so I miss his long brown beard. They both look like they've been to the groomer!

Heading out on Thursday (we're loving the short-lived chilly morning) we hook up at the very tight and narrow dump station across the street. The campground fits big-rigs, but it's definitely not big-rig friendly. 

70 miles on I-77 and we land at Hometown RV Park in Jonesville, North Carolina. Lots of "villes" in this part of the country! The park is a little over a year old and perfect for our needs. Their park WiFi is strong (the repeater is on our utility pedestal!) which we need for the Fantasy League draft we're doing on Monday. 50 amp FHUs on a level and open-sky gravel site. Not large spaces, but adequate grass for Tessa with picnic table and fire ring. 

Hard to beat this network access :-)

This was a last minute reservation when I made changes for our last stop, and I'm grateful they had a spot for us over the holiday weekend. The park is completely full for the three days. 

Because it's an unplanned "fill-in", I have no list of things to see and do, and checking after we arrive discloses there is in fact nothing to see or do :-) Good time to get the laundry caught up, pick up groceries, enjoy North Carolina BBQ, and avoid the holiday (others must find something to keep them entertained).

Sunday we're in downtown Elkin for a tasty brunch at Southern on Main. We arrive just ahead of the later rush, and the rain. The pouring rain. The buckets of rain. Tessa takes longer than usual getting in the Jeep because it's so disorienting, so we're soaked by the time we're tucked in. Thoughts of checking out the little town and surrounds are replaced with holycrapletsgethomeandgetdry!

It pretty much rains for the remainder of our time here. Quickly we're on a water front site, while many others have lake middle property.

While drying out, Tessa watches the weather channel on dog TV.

In SoCal, rain is very exciting for M&M - much better than the triple digits they've had for so long :-(

Football season is officially started with the completion of our little fantasy league draft completed on Monday. Like last year my plan is to just have fun with it, and like last year I'm immediately vested as though I'm paying millions for my picks. So silly, so fun.

Elliott points out brother Ezra with his back-to-school-cool haircut!

Our fun and feisty Little M is four!

The youngest grand, Oliver, appreciating all that yogurt has to offer.