Early November, 2004

Overnighting in Rock Ridge, North Carolina

- It is now evening and we are camping overnight at the Rock Ridge campground, some 330 miles east of Waynesville, NC. We made the drive in around 8 hours, which included one of the most hair-raising mountain downgrades that I've ever encountered and a seemingly endless stream of cities which had one long stretch of road work that had concrete barriers up close to either side of the two lanes and left little room for error.
    My plan originally was to spend the night in a truck stop or freeway rest area, but it's supposed to get down close to freezing again tonight, so we decided to get a spot in a campground in order to run the furnace.
    Anyway, we made it this far, which is quite a ways east of Raleigh, and tomorrow we'll finish the trek to the Outer Banks.

Leaving for North Carolina's Outer Banks

- Today we are pulling up stakes and heading due east for North Carolina's Outer Banks, aka Cape Hatteras. It's getting cold here in the mountains and I'm ready to see some ocean and we want to be down with my mother's family near Whiteville, NC for American Thanksgiving, so it's time to move on.
    While in Whiteville we will hopefully be able to get setup for satellite internet here in the RV. We've done very well at the last two campgrounds for having wi-fi internet access but I don't expect this to be the norm. So it's very likely that until we have our own satellite capability our access will once again be hit or miss. In other words, our replies to email may take a while longer than they have been the last few weeks.

Extended Our Stay in Waynesville

- We like this area and campground so much that today we signed up to extend our stay here until next Monday. The area is much more laid back and far less commercial with normal amounts of traffic than Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg have, but with just as many, if not more, natural attractions. For instance, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a short drive from here. Cherokee, NC is also an easy drive, as are the southern parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park itself.
    Pictured above is our campground, showing some of its surroundings. Not too hard to take. Big Harv is the large RV in the center of the photo.
    From here we are tentatively planning to move due east to the coast and see the Outer Banks before heading south to the Mollie, NC area to see the maternal side of my family.

Near Waynesville, North Carolina

- Today we packed up and left Pigeon Forge. This was for various reasons, but mostly it was due to the area simply being too crowded, so much so that it was quite difficult to drive anywhere or do anything. I can't imagine what it must be like around there during peak season in the summer.
    Anyway, we are now located in the Creekwood Farm Campground on the other side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a few miles north of Waynesville, North Carolina, a part of the state I've never been in that I can remember.
    Since the drive this morning was relatively short (two hours or so) and we found the campground without making any wrong turns, we had time and energy after setting up camp to do a bit of exploration.
    First, we drove through Waynesville itself and located all the important things, like Wal-Mart, then drove down to the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove on it for a while, before driving into the nation park to see if we could find some of the elk we had been told were in there.
    As you can see from the photo above, we found the elk but the drive into that area of the park can only be done over a dirt road that is barely wide enough for two cars and full of blind turns and sheer dropoffs with no guard rails. It was quite nerve wracking. After the fact, I suppose it was worth it but it's almost certain we won't go back.
    And at the end of that road was this little church, looking all picturesque in the setting sun.
Then we had to do groceries and I discovered a wi-fi network right there by the store and after our return to the RV Sandra discovered another wi-fi network accessible from here in the RV, so it can only be originating from a neighboring RV. I hope they stay for a few days because I expect we will be too as there's a lot to see around here and there aren't crowds of people getting in our way.

Visit to Gatlinburg

- Today we drove into Gatlinburg early in the day to ensure we could find a parking spot big enough for the truck.
    We then walked around the town, seeing all the things that had changed in the last 14 years and while much had, much was unchanged.
    We found the grounds of the little wedding chapel where we were married had changed a bit but the chapel itself (pictured here) was much as it had been except the shrubbery had grown a lot.
    Although it seems hard to imagine, the traffic through town was even heavier than it had been, slowing to a literal crawl during the peak of the day, and this being the off-season. I can't imagine what it would be like during the summer.
    Anyway, we had a good time in town but decided the area, in particular Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, had become far too overdeveloped to be enjoyable and we probably wouldn't return.

In Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

- After a night of rain and thunder, we hitched up yesterday morning under clouds but at least with no rain and headed south, taking the eastern leg of the bypass around Cincinnati to avoid having to drive through downtown at morning rush hour. We left at that hour because I had estimated seven hours on the road to our next stop, Gatlinburg, TN and wanted to make the drive in one day and it gets dark awfully early now.
    Things went according to plan, except after being caught in endless bumper to bumper traffic in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee that put us behind schedule, we decided to stay in Pigeon Forge at the Riveredge RV Park, a campground I'd learned of while in Lebanon as having campwide wi-fi internet access and this was too tempting to pass up, even though the campground was quite expensive compared to some others we've stayed at, plus it was reputed to have no pull-through campsites.
    This proved to not only be the case, but the campsites were small and packed in like sardines as well. However the lure of having wi-fi internet access right in the RV was just too tempting, so I looked at the available sites and decided I might be able to back Big Harv into one of them, girded my loins, and actually did it! I think after having backed into this site I can now back the rig into almost any site that is large enough. With the help of Sandra and a neighbor spotting for me, I even managed it without embarrassing myself too much. Actually, with all modesty, I think I accomplished it as gracefully as any I've seen come in since we arrived.
    And, as it turns out, according to the woman in the office, the heavy traffic was due to this weekend being the start of Pigeon Forge's Winterfest. This really is a happening place apparently, because it seems like every time I've ever driven through here there's been some festival or rally going on that backs traffic up from the freeway to the mountains.
    Anyway, we're here now and settled in and I hope to drive into the mountains as the sun comes up this morning and check out the photo opportunities, then later in the day Sandra and I will make the short drive to Gatlinburg and celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary.

Still in Lebanon, Ohio...

- ...but packing up later today to leave tomorrow for Gatlinburg, TN even though it's supposed to be raining.
    Our stay here in Lebanon has been most pleasant - we saw all the family at least twice and a long-time friend once, the weather for most of the week was mild (getting chilly now so time to move further south ;-), and having free wi-fi access to the campground's high-speed internet connection was fabulous. If all campgrounds had this we wouldn't need to be considering signing up for satellite internet access.
    Anyway, here are a few family photos taken during the week. The picture above was taken Saturday at the pot luck gathering held at Carol and Rick's house (sister & brother-in-law).
    Left to right, seated, are myself, Grammy holding Faith, Carol holding Grace, Rick, Eric, and Michelle. Left to right, standing, are Ian and Tracy holding Caden. And although it's not obvious, Tracy is working on the next grandchild which is due in spring.
    Pictured to the right, top to lower right (photos taken by Grammy), are the grandchildren Grace, Faith, and Caden, all of whom are developing distinct personalities but all of whom think Grandpa and Grammy are special people, no doubt thanks to the guidance of their conscientious parents.
As always, click on the photos to see larger images.


Updated Thursday, November 18, 2004

Copyright © 2004 by Gordon L Wolford .
All rights reserved.



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Didya Know?

Albert Einstein's younger
son was a schizophrenic.

In 1915, the average
annual family income in
the USA was $687 a year.

The first packaging to have a UPC bar code on it was Wrigley's gum.

A Spot 'O Humor

A bicycle can't stand alone
because it is two-tired.

Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit flies like a banana.

Parting Thot

Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men.