Monday, August 23, 2010

Things Are Lookin' Up

Sorry it's taken so long for an update. Yes, things have been looking up for us. We can't complain.

As for updates on our "issues", here's what's new. The old monitor and new camera were mistakenly shipped to our home address. A kind neighbor noticed the package and called us, then shipped it to us here in NC. Julian got both pieces installed and now the rear camera is working great. It looks like the new camera has a wider angle to the lens than the old one, a great feature!

We've been in contact with Blue Ox about the towing equipment. Their guy who will make the final determination for them has been away and is expected back to work this week. In the mean time, we've put together all our receipts for money spent because of the accident. This information was shipped off at the end of the weak and should be arriving at Blue Ox today or tomorrow. It's possible we'll have some real answers from them by the end of the week.

Additional good fortune has come from our visits to the casino. Julian hit a very nice jackpot on our first trip and we've come home with more money than we left with every time we've been except once. We know one can't go to the casino when they need to make money, but we're very grateful for the good luck we've had so far.

A tradition with our friends (Kenny & Stacy) is "cocktails on the creek". This is a two-hour "happy hour" in the shade by the creek behind someone's RV. Whoever is available comes for all or part of it. We've met some really great people by attending portions of this gathering fairly frequently.

We went to the Blackberry Festival at Mars Hill, north of Asheville. It took longer to drive there than it took to walk around once we arrived. It was a small little church event, just as it was a couple years ago when we went. We enjoyed seeing the different local stuff and bought some blackberry jam (of course).

On the way back home, we stopped at the Latin restaurant that we had not been able to find earlier in our trip. Their new digs are really nice and the food is just as good as we remembered. It capped off a really nice outing.

We've also gone into Asheville to the NC Farmers Market. We always love going to those kind of places. We bought some fig jam (now that we know how good figs are) and several snacks items, like fried peas. Our friends went with us. We did some other shopping and then we went to the Thai restaurant that we like in downtown Asheville. This was our second visit there and we all sure enjoyed it.

We had an entertainer in the campground on Thursday evening. Since we've been here, we've had rain every Saturday and the scheduled entertainment gets canceled. So Timmy Ray Hawks sang that night. He's been here every year that we've been coming to Creekwood Farm. I think this is the first time we've heard him, though.

He opens up the back of his trailer and has this great stage set up. We really did enjoy him. At one point he enlisted several folks from the audience to help him sing a song. They guy in the middle with the raccoon cap is one of the people we have happy hour with most evenings... a really nice guy named Gary.

They all had a lot of fun. And they didn't sound too bad either.

Yesterday (Sunday) was a beautiful sunny day, so we drove down to Franklin, NC, for an outing. There were a couple RV parks that we looked at, but neither compared to where we are right now. We had lunch at the Motor Co. Grill, which is a 50's place. It was lots of fun and the 8 oz. burger we split was really great. The drive was beautiful, as it always is in these parts. They say they need rain, but everything is very green and healthy-looking.

We seem to keep busy, even if I don't have lots of stories or pictures to share. Today was laundry and some house cleaning. And now that I've caught you up on our time here, I think I'll go do some reading.

Happy Trails!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

On the Road - Finally

I am writing this from the coach parked in our favorite campground outside Maggie Valley, NC. We made it - finally. But it was no small task.

We have been in communication with Blue Ox. At first they told us we'd have to pay for all the new towing equipment plus the shipping of the broken pieces back to them for evaluation. Then they would decide about reimbursement. But after our local "expert", John, talked to them, they softened and paid for everything except the new brake system we had to put on the new car. We think they'll pay for that in the end, but won't know for a couple more weeks - until they can do their own assessment. John took one look at the pieces and stated that it was a bad weld. Definitely a Blue Ox issue, not ours.

So on Thursday of last week, we had John install all the new equipment onto the new Escape and adjust the parts that remained on the coach. Then we towed the car back home (about 30 miles) pretty much with our fingers crossed the whole way. We had no problems, of course. But after what we'd been through...

On Friday, we began the process of loading up the coach all over again. It really seemed to go pretty smoothly. We've since found things we'd forgotten this second time. But it's nothing we can't live without, or replace if it were really necessary.

Saturday morning, we hooked up the car again. In the process, one of the cables fell of the coach in my hands. I wanted to scream! It was minor, however. A screw had come loose and we just had to put it all back in place and tighten it up. No big deal.

We made it to our usual stop in north-eastern South Carolina, without further incident. What a treat this little RV park is! The little old man who runs the place came out to meet us and get us settled into our favorite spot. Before we did much more than pay him (a whopping $17) he was dragging me off to his fig tree to share fresh figs with us. I don't think I've ever had figs (except in Fig Newtons), let alone some picked right off the bush. They were SO good. Very sweet and I loved them. I took a handful back with me to the coach and got to work getting things set up.

He was back in a bit, this time with garlic from his garden. He gave us several cloves, plus one to put in our own garden when we got home. He told Julian how to do it and we'd always have garlic now. We love garlic, so how cool is that!

But he wasn't finished! A little later he came knocking on our door. He had a pan full of figs plus two apples from his tree. I think we got 17 dollars worth of produce from this fellow, so we really made out.

So Sunday we packed up and got back on the road. About half way here, Julian noticed that the monitor to the rear camera wasn't displaying any picture! This is not something anyone who has lost their tow car wants to have happen. We pulled into a truck stop and checked the camera in every way we could think of short of pulling it off the coach. There was nothing to be done, so we just kept on going.

We had some rainy and foggy weather, but otherwise no further issues. We arrived at Creekwood Farm RV Park at around 2pm, pretty much right on schedule. What a relief! We were so glad to be somewhere safe where the weather would be cooler.

We got everything set up and were down by the creek for happy hour around 5pm. We went out to dinner with our friends and had such a nice time. Life is good!

We've since sent the monitor into the manufacturer only to have them tell us that it is working fine and must be the camera. So they are sending the monitor and a new camera back to us - should be here this coming week. We really don't want to travel without that rear-view camera!

We spent a couple days just hanging around. It just seemed like the right thing to do after all the hassles and craziness we'd been through over the past few weeks. And it DID feel good!

We went to the casino on Wednesday. That has really changed in the two years since we've been there. I think the gaming floor has at least doubled in size. We had fun and broke even at the end of the day. That's a win in my book.

On Thursday we went into Waynesville. It's a great town and their downtown area is so fun to walk around. The shops have all kinds of fun and interesting things. We bought over a pound of candies from the Mast General Store. They have all the old-time stuff you can't get just anywhere. We had a great time.

Friday found us in Asheville. Julian's good sandals  needed to be replaced. We found exactly what he wanted at a store at a mall. Then we went looking for the great Latin restaurant we'd eaten at a couple times before. We drove right to it, but it was closed. We were SO bummed! We went looking for other places to eat and, not knowing were to go exactly, we wound up eating at a Bojangles (which was good) just because it was getting late and we were starved.

When we got home, Julian noticed the reviews on the Latin restaurant were still up on the computer screen. When I started reading them (all good), I realized that some were posted within the last couple of weeks. So I called them. They've moved. They have a new and different website from what I'd found. So now I've got the new location and a meal out to look forward to later in our stay!

Today is Saturday and we spent part of the morning at the Mountain Mater Fest in Canton, NC. This is a pretty small festival, so it only took us about a half hour to walk all the booths and buy a few tomatoes. It's a lot of fun, though.

From there, we drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and had lunch at the Pisgah Inn. The drive to the Parkway was through lots of hairpin turns and gorgeous scenery. The trees were so dense in places that the satellite radio skipped occasionally.

This picture was taken from the "back porch" of the restaurant where we had lunch. It's not bad, considering the low-hanging clouds that were there most of the time we were eating.

Now I remember why we love coming here so much!

We'll be getting out more and taking more photos as we do. But for now, this is all I've got to share with you. Hopefully, we'll get more into tourist mode and a whole lot less into chasing problems! I think we've had a good week, all in all. I'm starting to feel like I'm on a vacation.