Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Change of Plans

Sunday June 24 to Wednesday July 4, 2018                                                    Most Recent Posts:
Cove Creek RV “Resort”, Wears Valley, Tennessee                                           Last Post from Shenandoah
Great Smoky Mountains National Park                                                             A Couple of Bear Days

Upon leaving Shenandoah on Sunday, Winnona spent four days in Charlottesville.  On Monday, the day after she arrived, the contracting crew who had been working on the street where she stays started putting up no parking signs starting this coming Friday for another two weeks.  Are you kidding me?  They’ve been working on this street replacing the water line from the main to the houses since late February at which time they said they’d be done in late May and then it was June and now it’s July. 

So that means Winnona will have to go somewhere else on Friday.  Alrighty then.  I start making alternate plans.

On Tuesday, I take care of the mamogram which comes back with no problems.  That’s always good.  On Wednesday, Ruby gets four new tires.  That’s good but pricey.   However, on Thursday, while I’m at the 20180628_155633grocery store someone backs into Ruby and drives away so now I have an insurance claim and a body shop appointment to deal with.  That’s not good and so unfair even if they leave their insurance information.  The person who has been “wronged” has to go to all the trouble of arranging to have their car repaired, taking it in, doing without it, getting a loaner if they are lucky while the person who did the damage has no responsibility at all.  Something is wrong with this system.   Something is also wrong that a little fender bender like this will end up being so expensive since there is no such thing as a real bumper any more.  Had this happened in our old pick up truck with METAL bumpers, it would have been nothing.  My guess is that this entire front piece will have to be replaced at a cost of more than $1000.  And that’s my rant!

On Friday we leave for Tennessee to stay just outside Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  We can’t stay in the park because like Shenandoah they have no hook ups but unlike Shenandoah their campgrounds are heavily treed and there is no sure solar possibility.  Plus by this point in the summer there are no sites there for more than a day or two in a row.

Blue BeaconIt’s a one Walmart night drive.  We stop on the way at Blue Beacon to have Winnona washed and her under carriage rinsed.  This is a great idea but more than half a dozen truckers think so too and they add all sorts of services to what they want.  Winnona’s wash and rinse takes about 20 minutes but we are there for a total of 3 hours to get this done. 

Not sure about Blue Beacon.  The first time we went to one their equipment scraped the paint off of our entry door handle.  This time it took so long that we did not have time to split our 370 mile drive into 2 equal portions and ended up staying in Salem Virginia and doing 250 miles of it the second day..  Not my style of travel.

Saturday morning we leave Walmart in Salem Virginia and head south on I-81.  We stop at Pilot for gas.  David cannot stay in North Carolina the entire time because of his cardiac rehab and some problems created at UVa with his Myeloma Treatment.  So I am driving our old 1996 vehicle and following him as he drives Winnona towing Ruby.  He’ll use the old car to drive himself back when he has to go.   We’ve never done this before.  But it’s a very lucky thing I am following him.

When we get back on the I-81, at the top of the entrance ramp I see one of Winnona’s rim covers flying across the interstate.  I quick call David on the Walkie Talkie and tell him what has happened.  He says “no way”.  I say “PULL OVER NOW”.   He does and sure enough I did see what I knew I saw.  The rim cover is gone, the valve stem has been ripped off, the tire is flat.  I go looking for the rim cover and the two Dicor Jam nuts that were supposed to hold it on.  David calls our Geico Road Service which we have in 6 years never used.  I’m wondering at this point if we should have gotten Coach Net. 

I find the rim cover and later one of the nuts. It’s 90 degrees outside while I am walking on the middle strip of I-81 looking for the rim cover and nuts.

When I get back inside David is talking to Geico and the guy is asking stupid questions.  David’s identity is as the nice guy in this duo so he hands me the phone and I convince the guy that the “special tools that might be needed for our situation” is a person with RECRATIONAL VEHICLE roadside service experience.   He finally gets it.   In about 10 minutes, he calls back and says that J Hooks Towing and Recovery will be here in less than 20 minutes.

And amazingly, he is and even more amazingly he knows exactly what happened and what to do about it.  Geico just lost Coachnet a customer.  

He explains that someone has not tightened the nuts securely enough.  He takes the tire off, takes it into town, has it tested, filled with air, returns and puts it, with its new valve stem, back on the RV and we’re good to go in less than an hour.   To say this was great service is an understatement.  To say that we would 100% endorse them for help in any RV roadside need is a "true fact”.  And remember this is on a week-end.  A Saturday.   Winnona has successfully survived her first roadside problem.  Thanks Geico and J Hooks!


Taken on July 13 (1)Thanks to J Hooks,we arrive at Cove Creek Campground before the office closes at 7pm after a harrowing day.  I booked the campground sight unseen but it’s in the general location we want to be.  We find ourselves about 25’ away from our neighbors on either side.  The view out our front window is a row of 5th wheels and trailers placed at similar distances.   Hardly an RV “Resort”. 

It doesn’t even have a hot tub.  Some Resort.  It does have a small swimming pool which is happily salt water, it does have a laundry facility which takes credit cards so you don’t need to save up your quarters, it does have a nice clean bath house with 4 showers.   Things could be worse.  But boy is it hot.  93 degrees.  REALLY?


This is sure nothing like staying inside Shenandoah National Park or inside Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  But it is like being in Charlottesville in the foothills at the beginning of July – HOT!!

We chill out on Sunday and catch our breath. 

On Monday we’re rejuvenated enough to drive into the park to the Sugarlands Visitor Center where it is much cooler.

There seems to be a gathering on the grass next to the parkinig lot,  We join in by watching and taking pictures.  Not sure what’s going on actually.


The visitor center opens at 8:30 and is busy busy all day long.  People going in one door, coming out the other and gathering around all information centers.


One of my favorite things at many National Park Visitor centers is the giant topographic map.  This one is particularly big because Great Smoky Mountain National Park is 520,000 acres.  That’s over 800 square miles.   I am in awe of what Tennessee and North Carolina have done together to protect natural habitat.  Way to go Volunteers and Tar Heels!  You should be proud!


Mountains and valleys, rivers and streams and trails.  It’s amazing. Wish the picture was better.

After getting some hiking information we decide to start right here and go to Cataract Falls.
I wonder if this could be #1 in my effort to hike to all the falls to which trails go in this National Park?  So far it has been a very wet summer so they should be unusually lovely for this time of year.

On the way we find wonderful things.  Passion flower blooms right outside the Visitor Center.  These flowers always amaze me.  They are so unique.  The vines are native to Virginia and grow all throughout the south.


Also native to the Appalachian Mountain chain are wild azalea, Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron.  I think we may be too late with our July arrival to see much or any of the former two but Rhododendron beautifies our trail today.


They bloom along the trail and along the water as we approach the bridge to cross over to the falls.


Just before the bridge there is an unusual tree that David stops to inspect.

David seems so taken with it that a woman passing by asks if we’d like our picture taken by the tree.  Sure, why not?   Doesn’t it look like the tree is leaning over on its right hip with it’s right knee bent?

From the bridge I catch a couple of shots of this young lady in her pink socks just wading shoes and all.  She seems to be part of a large family group.  I’m not sure anyone is paying any attention to what she’s doing.  But her willingness to explore reminds me of Celia.  Just give her a few years.


We walk along the water on our way to the falls.  The young lady above is not the only one drawn to be in or around it.


This seems to be a man made dam like rock wall.  Doubt if it does much good in heavy rains but today it makes a lovely picture with the placid pool above it.


The trail takes us under a roadway and up a set of steps.


I know we are only about a half mile from the visitor center but still, it feels and sounds like deep in the woods until we look up and see. . . . .  we burst out laughing.


At the falls people are crawling all over.  The resulting erosion is evident.

But Cataract Falls are lovely just the same.  Seems a strange name.  Good Ranger question.

David culminates his day with a local brew.  Yew Haw Brewing Company is in Johnson City, Tennessee.  When they visit an area some people like to read local/regional  literature.  Others love to listen to local music.  David likes to find local beers.

On Tuesday, we take a short trip to surprise Bill and Nancy Mills who are staying in a much nicer spot about 2 miles down the road.  Early bird gets the worm and of course I have no pictures.  We did surprise them but they also surprised us because when we got there, Gin and Syl were also there visiting them.  Gin & Syl are spending the summer on the other side of the mountains in Maggie Valley in North Carolina.  Pam is visiting them there.

So we got to see some of our full timing friends all in one place.  It was great!   Wish I had a picture of Nancy and Bill but here are the two pictures Nancy took and was kind enough to share with me..

Left to right:  Pam, Syl and GinPam, Syl & Gin

The most recent picture of us.  Thanks Nancy!David and Sherry

David needs to be back for rehab on Friday so we decide that folks will be celebrating the 4th on Wednesday and that’s the perfect time to travel.  He calls me when he gets back and says it was great traveling.  Very little traffic.  He has no troubles.  Nothing like the trip down thank goodness. This will be strange being so far away from him for an extended period of time.  But there was no where to put Winnona, nothing I could do to help him and he had  many appointments to keep in in Charlottesville.  So for a while, the blog will be just me. 

How’s that for flying through 11 days in one post?


  1. You guys had a rough couple of days there! That beautiful hike (gorgeous passionflower!) and a visit with good friends were good medicine for soothing the spirit. A least David had a couple of days of exploring before heading home for his appointments. We always search out local brews for our "local" experience, too. :-)

  2. The flowers I can identify could be counted on one hand. Thanks for saying what beautiful flower I am viewing. You got lucky on the tire event by being behind and alert. Parking lots are a danger zone. I park far away and walk just to try and avoid such events. I have seen more parking lot fender benders in the last two years than ever in my life. Something must be distracting drivers as they back out. Perhaps it's a new ' I don't care ' program.

  3. So sorry for your recent vehicle problems. Very frustrating, but at least no one was hurt. My daughter, Susan, had the same thing happen with a car. After a recent service, they didn't tighten her lugs AND she had someone hit her in a parking lot, leaving a note. Are you sure she's not YOUR daughter?

    In the meantime, while I'm able to read blogs I'm having all kinds of trouble with mine, today. Not that I have anything important to write about, but every once in a while I like to put my thoughts in writing.

    Hope you have better luck going forward.

  4. How scary, good thing that you were behind and saw the rim fly out so you could warn David. Grr, I hate hit & runs! Happened to me many times in my prior RV life. How cool to run into Bill, Nancy, Syl, and Gin. Good times!

  5. Seems like your rim catastrophe was remedied quickly- good job from the guy who came out to fix it. Oooooo the passion flower! Our Duck neighbor has some on the side of his yard and they are spectacular! The falls are beautiful. You know me, I love just about any kind of water. xxxooo

  6. OK...you win...11 days in one post needs to be a record;o)) Oh...you DID surprised us!!!

  7. We picked a good day to surprise Nancy and Bill because we got a good surprise of seeing you too! Traveling hardships can be stressful but it's just another memory we create in this great adventure called life!
    Enjoy the mountains!

  8. Howdy, not to be too picky but wasn't it your wheel cover that came off?..The rim is what the tire is mounted on...
    I just tightened mine when I was checking air pressure..

    1. Thanks David! How did I not notice that. It's hilarious when I read it just before fixing it. Glad you are a closer reader than the rest of us. Good to hear from you again as well.

  9. Glad you were following and saw the mishap. Good to read all worked out. The Salem Walmart is our go to overnight spot when moving from Atlanta to PA when the weather is cool. There is a Starbucks right next door:) Good job catching up 11 days.

  10. Fortunately you ended up with some good customer service for the tire problem.

    The butterflies are quite a sight.

  11. That was lucky you were following behind Winnona. Do you not have a tire pressure monitor system? What great service you received from the towing guy. He must have had lots of experience!

  12. 11 days in one post, that's the way to do it, yet I still have to learn how to concise my own post. Oh my goodness, you have a great eye and quick to learn what you saw. So glad you called the right guy and got you going in half the time, that for sure was stressful. Beer, friends and a hike, blows your troubles away.
    Yup, your description of the tree is spot on, it does look like leaning on its hip with knees bent.

    That last photo of you and David is a keeper and David looks good.

  13. We've been through the damaged car issue, too. Lots of times the damager (is that a word?) leaves because they have no insurance. Doesn't make it any more fun having to deal with the repairs. Glad to see at least you had a very good experience with the road service and there was no major damage, I've seen RV's with massive damage from a blowout. Thankfully you had nice hikes to recover from all your "fun". ;c)

  14. Dang, that's a lot of BS to start off a trip. I love the newer giant topo maps at the parks because you can touch them. That is one amazing Ent. Even if you're not IN the park I'm glad you are near enough to hike. And find some more waterfalls.

  15. One of the advantages of driving separate, that's how we knew we had a tire issue years ago...Dave thought the tire pressure monitor had a problem, nope it was the tire. Bummer about the hit and run. Always great to meet up with full time friends.

  16. Okay, I read these in opposite order. What a trip, but what a gift that your tire man was so handy and fast. That's miraculous. The last time I had a car problem in C'ville, it took one hour for the Geico-hired tow truck just to arrive. I am so happy that y'all did not have to sit on the side of the interstate for very long.

    The park looks wonderful. I have to visit there again ... soon. So happy you got to see your friends. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Wow, 11 days!! And I thought my 6 was hard to beat :-) Glad to have internet again and get caught up. The universe was definitely keeping an eye on you when rim let loose. Knowing your roadside service is reliable is almost as good as never having to use it all these years! The poison flower is beautiful. Love that intricate center. Yes, the gnarly tree looks just like you described. And it's a wonderful pic of you two. How fun to catch up with so many fellow travelers - everybody had a surprise! Bummer Winona had to find alternate parking, but good that you're safe and sound.

  18. Plenty of aggrvation, but looks like it all ended well:)

  19. I am so glad the guy Geico sent was so good. That's such a relief! Ruby's damage...just plain annoying :( Lovely falls and so neat to see 4 good friends at one time!! 11 days in 1 post...very impressive!


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