The prettiest little town in the South

LOCATION: Edenton, North Carolina – on the Atlantic Coast

WEATHER: 100. Sunny. Dripping humidity

We helped the homeowner get her pop-up camper ready and she headed off. A week of housesitting in a great location awaits us!

We went to the Visitors’ Center in the downtown area, which is a preserved old home on the waterfront. There, we learned that Edenton won the name “the prettiest little town in the South”. And, it is. The streets are lined with beautiful old Victorian homes, many of them B&Bs now. The waterfront is very pretty, with sailboats and fishing boats in the docks.

We inquired about fireworks, and will watch them near here……

We lined up a 45-minute cruise that we will take one day, leaving from the lighthouse…

While we are here, we will take care of a dog and 2 cats. The dog Chula looks like she is missing her owner a bit…

The cat, sprawled on the dining room table, doesn’t care about anything….

After a few morning chores, we spent most of the day in the truck, driving around the area in air-conditioned comfort.

DINNER: My last frozen leftovers. It was not labeled, so I really don’t know what it was, although it tasted good. Sometime Italian pasta dish with chicken, hamburger, and lots of cheese. A cooling cucumber/yogurt salad on the side. No more leftovers for awhile! Hope we can find some good seafood to buy here.

Back to house-sitting!

LOCATION: Edenton, North Carolina – on Albermarle Sound on the Atlantic

WEATHER: Hot and muggy

We left our campground in Wilkesboro, NC right on time – 9:00 AM. We had to pretty much cross the state from west to east. We planned the trip to avoid the busy Greensboro-Raleigh-Durham area, and our plan worked fine.

We arrived in Edenton about 4:00. We can’t wait to explore the town. There are beautiful Victorian houses lining the waterfront, and a cute downtown. Lots of B&Bs. We are near a marina.

While in Edenton, we will be taking care of 2 cats and a dog while the owner travels to Cape Cod.

This is the end of the first leg of our trip – about 2000 miles from Mission. We have enjoyed all of the campgrounds where we have stayed – mostly all Army Corps of Engineers, which we highly recommend, for both quality and price. We will be here for about a week, and will then head north. We will zip up through the busy east coast, then spend some time in Vermont and Maine, before meeting up with our friends in New Brunswick.

We walked to an oyster bar for dinner – right around the corner. How nice!

DINNER: Crab dip with pita toasts. George and I shared a mahi-mahi fillet with risotto. Hush puppies and cornbread on the side – after all, we are still in the South!

North Carolina wine-tasting

LOCATION; Wilkesboro, North Carolina

WEATHER: Overcast and cooler. High 80s

CAMPGROUND: Back at Fort Hamby ACOE campground

After a nice breakfast and chat with George’s brother and sister-in-law, we said goodbye and left Winston-Salem. Since it was just a one-hour trip back to the campground, we took our time.

In the last 20 years or so, North Carolina has become quite well-known for its wines. Seeing some signs for wineries, we decided to check some out.

The first place we stopped at was very “homey” and low key. A formerly derelict farm house has been turned into the tasting room. They have a barn for events. The owner are artists and have designed their own labels. The pourer told us that since fewer people smoke these days, that the tobacco fields are being converted to vineyards and the old tobacco barns are becoming tasting rooms. We enjoyed the tasting and bought a bottle of dry rose, as well as some of their farm fresh eggs – multicolored. Talking with one of the owners, we discovered that this is a Harvest Host site. We could have camped here! Maybe next time.

There are about 20 wineries in the Yadkin Valley (where we are). We picked up a wine trail map, and decided to stop in one other one on our way home. This one was more sophisticated with a nice outdoor picnic area. Nice gardens and outdoor seating. We bought a bottle of their wine vinaigrette.

We stopped at a mom & pop kind of place for lunch, with Southern food featured. For $7.25, we shared a meatloaf platter, stuffing ourselves with meatloaf, hush puppies, fried okra, cucumber salad, and home-made potato chips. We waddled out of the restaurant thinking about the small damage to our wallet, but probably larger damage to our arteries!

DINNER: The refrigerator is getting a little low, so I had to make due. I did an Asian stir-fried rice with leftover grilled chicken, rice, peas, mushrooms, and eggs – all with sesame oil and soy sauce. Oishikata, as they say in Japanese.

Getting together with relatives

LOCATION: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

WEATHER; Cooler. Highs mid-70s. Cloudy

We took advantage of the cooler weather and did a hike through the forest at our campground. Branches and trees were down all over the place, as a result of yesterday’s storm. Even though it was cooler, the humidity was 100% and we sweated profusely. It felt good to hike – the first time we have hiked in a long time.

We talked with a neighbor at the campground. He said when the limb hit our Airstream, he thought it was a gunshot.

We went back to the same bar/restaurant in Wilkesboro for lunch and wifi. It is really the only option in town. We shared a spicy chicken sandwich.

Then, we hit the road for Winston-Salem, George’s hometown. We had dinner and stayed overnight with his brother and sister-in-law.

DINNER: Take-out Greek pizza. Good!

Stormy weather

LOCATION: Wilkesboro, North Carolina

WEATHER; Hot and sunny AM; severe thunderstorms in PM

CAMPGROUND: Fort Hamby Army Corps of Engineers Park -see yesterday’s description

In the morning, we went into town to use wifi and to try to fix George’s phone. No luck.

We are in a conservative part of the state, and so there are no breweries. We did, however, find a good restaurant that has a lot of craft beers. We shared a sandwich for lunch which came with a mountain of fries. We poured on our favorite hot sauce – Texas Pete – made nearby in Winston-Salem.

Back at the campground, at about 4:00, the sky turned pitched black and a severe thunderstorm swept in. The weatherman predicted hail, lightening, thunder, and heavy rain. Thank goodness, the hail bypassed us but the wind blew down lots of tree limbs. As sticks and limbs hit the Airstream, it sounded like we were being bombed. One big limb hit so hard that the A/C vent inside on the ceiling fell down. Sudden mud rivers flowed under the RV. Water fell like torrents from the awning. Thunder crashed all around us. It was a bit scary.

We had the A/C on as it was hot and humid. The air was so damp that our air conditioner vents dripped with condensation. It rained inside! Finally the storm cleared and it brightened up outside. The weather front brought cool weather, so it was quite pleasant. We surveyed the outside of the Airstream, and found where the largest limb had hit. It dented the roof a bit. Thank goodness there wasn’t any more damage – especially to the A/C units!

DINNER: Another on-the-spot invention: a casserole made with leftover grilled hamburger, jalapeño pepper, taco sauce, corn tortillas, black beans, and cheese. I sprinkled lime juice on it to give it a kick. Mexican herbs. George loved it. Side was the last of our farmers’ market green beans purchase.

Surprisingly, we get 3 PBS channels here. We watched the news, then a 2-hour Downton Abbey special, episodes we hadn’t seen before. Quite nice!

A beautiful drive through the Smoky Mountains

LOCATION: Wilkesboro, North Carolina

WEATHER: Cool in mountains; hot in valley

CAMPGROUND: Fort Hamby Army Corps of Engineers. On W. Kerr Scott Lake reservoir. Nice pull-through site. Very woodsy. Water and electricity (50 amp) at site. Central dump station. Nice bathrooms. $12/night with senior pass. 4 stars out of 5.

After a good-bye breakfast with our daughter in Asheville, we packed up and hit the road again. We could have taken a speedy Interstate route to Wilkesboro, but since we were in no rush, we took the backroads through the mountains.

It was a very pleasant drive – probably outstandingly beautiful in the autumn. We passed through mountain towns with ski resorts and BBQ joints. Years ago, we used to come to this area to stay in George’s brother’s mountain cabin and we did things like gem-mining and trout fishing with our young daughters. Driving by them today brought back fond memories. Climbing to 4000 feet, our gas mileage was nothing to brag about…:-(.

After about 4 hours, we arrived here at Fort Hamby. Since it is pull-through site, set-up was easy and fast.

We drove around the dam and park, then into town to try to get George’s phone to work again. No luck. While in Wilkesboro, we saw this huge sink hole next to a Taco Bell. It looks like it happened quite recently.

There were lots of people out on the lake, on pontoon boats, jet skis, and ski boats. Looks fun!

DINNER: George grilled some chicken breasts, and I invented a casserole with the chicken, broccoli, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese. Surprisingly good!

Bustling Asheville

LOCATION: Asheville, North Carolina

WEATHER: Very pleasant. Low humidity. High low 80s. Evenings in the 60s

CAMPGROUND: Last night at French Broad River RV. See previous description

Our campground is a bit on the sketchy side. There are several permanent trailers here that are a bit run-down. There are also several cabins for rent. This one looks like a gnome’s house….

This morning, I got my hair cut at the salon where our daughter works. Her salon is in the Biltmore Village area – right next to the famous mansion. They are having a special Chihuly art exhibit there. The Village has lots of high-end shops and restaurants, and is always packed with people.

We went to a brewpub for lunch. There seem to be about 100 breweries in town; I don’t know how they all make it. They all always seem to be busy. We shared a veggie burger that was quite good. The brewmaster was hard at work.

We picked up our daughter after work, with the plan to stroll around downtown Asheville and find a spot for dinner. There were so many people out enjoying the nice weather. All of restaurants seem to be bursting at the seams. We searched and searched for a parking space, but couldn’t find any. Craziness everywhere….

We finally found a restaurant outside of the main downtown area. It was very nice. We weren’t all that hungry, so shared some interesting appetizers…..gazpacho, grilled Brussels sprouts, beef filet tartare, and the house specialty – bone marrow broth. A nice change of pace.

Back at the RV park, we made a fire. Our first one in many many months. So nice to sit next to it and listen to the river rushing by.

On the edge….literally

LOCATION: Outside of Asheville, NC

WEATHER: Only need A/C midday. At night, we can leave the windows open and sleep listening to the river rushing by.

CAMPGROUND: French Broad River RV – see previous description

The day started out fine….I picked up our daughter and we did a little Walmart (ugh) shopping. Then things went downhill, or I should say uphill and downhill.

Asheville is very hilly. The GPS let me down again. It took me up a very steep, one-way street the wrong way. The hill was so steep that I could not see the road over the hood of the truck. When I realized that I was a on a one-way street and saw a truck approaching, I panicked. I tried to turn around in a driveway. I had to “gun it” to move the truck. Unfortunately, I had it in reverse, so when I accelerated, we went scarily fast down over a cliff. I braked just in time, as the truck started to fall backyards from a steep cliff with a garage below. The back of the truck was about 2 inches from the roof (the silver thing in the photo) of a garage below,

I was so afraid that the truck would slip farther down and destroy the garage, so I stayed in the truck with the brake on. My leg started cramping.

I didn’t have the phone with me. A truck coming the other way stopped, as I was blocking the intersection. He said he would call a wrecker for me. I waited and waited, and it did not come. Finally, the police came and a very kind policewoman called another wrecker. It came after I had waited for about 1.5 hours. I was so afraid that the truck would slip more, so I was so thankful when the wrecker got there.

He pulled me out and miraculously there was no damage. It could have been so much worse!

Stressed out to the max, I went back to the RV park. George was so worried. We drove to a really cute nearby town, where we stopped at a brewpub. Now feeling better….

DINNER: Shrimp and grits.

We get PBS on the TV here so I was thrilled to be able to watch Call the Midwife. Happy!

The Smokies are smokin’

LOCATION: Outside of Asheville, North Carolina

WEATHER: Yay! Much cooler. High 85. Cool at night

CAMPGROUND: French Broad River Campground. Private. Right (and I mean right) on the river, so beautiful views. Really run down. Full hook-ups. A rip-off at $48/night. All we could get near Asheville. 2 stars out of 5

One thing I don’t like about our Airstream is the cupboard above our bed. I almost always forget it is there when I make the bed, and so I conk it hard on the edge. Ouch! So, crafty George bought some foam and installed them on the bottom of the cupboards. They actually look quite nice…

We had a short, 150 mile drive today from Gainesville, Georgia to Asheville. Almost all of it was through the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. As we climbed (and as our gas mileage deteriorated), it got cooler and prettier. We drove through cut mountain, touristy villages.

It is easy to see how the Smoky Mountains got their name…..the mountains were grey/white with low-hanging fog.

We found the RV park and couldn’t believe how close it is to the water. The river flooded earlier this spring, and I’m sure the whole place was under water. Our Airstream, as well as all the other RVs, sticks out over the river. It was nerve-wracking to help George back it in. I was sure it was going to go into the river.

But, it is quite pretty, and it is nice to hear the river flowing by.

Our oldest daughter lives in Asheville and we are here to see her for a few days. We had some time before we were picking her up at work, so stopped at a brewpub. There were 3 within one block! We are in Asheville for sure!

We took our daughter shopping, then headed back late to the campground.

DINNER: Tacos. Nothing special, as it was too late to do much more.

Dumpster Diving!!!!!

LOCATION: Outside of Gainesville, Georgia – north of Atlanta


CAMPGROUND: Bolding Mill Army Corps of Engineers Campground at Lake Sidney Lanier. See previous description

As we were preparing morning coffee, we could not find the plastic strainer that is a vital part of our coffee maker. We looked everywhere (didn’t take long). I finally thought back and realized that the only place it could be is in the garbage, perhaps falling in when I cleaned out the mechanism yesterday when I put the grounds in the garbage. Of course, we had taken yesterday’s garbage to the dumpster already. So off we went to the dumpster to do some diving!

First, we had to fight off a big buzzard that wanted to check out the dumpster, too. Then, I looked at the various bags, trying to find something that looked familiar.


I’m going in!………..

Miraculously, we found our bag of garbage, and sure enough, there was the strainer. I bet I don’t do that again!!!

Our highlight today was meeting up with 2 women that I met 19 years ago for lunch. We were part of a 5-person team to northeastern Argentina called Group Study Exchange, as part of Rotary International. At the time, we were living in Augusta, and the Rotary clubs there were recruiting 4 business people plus one leader to spend about 6 weeks there to learn about that their careers in that country, plus help the Argentinians get to know us. Since I was working in healthcare, every day I visited different hospitals. One of the women with me today was an engineer, and the Argentine Rotarians took her to sewers every day. We always had a laugh. The other woman was a teacher, so she visited schools. We lived with families in small towns. Almost every evening, we spoke at a different Rotary club meeting. In the USA, they are generally lunch meetings. In Argentina, they were always at night. A Rotarian would tell us that they would pick us up about 9:00 (PM) for the meeting. Well, they usually got there about 10:00. Then, lots of wine, followed by a lovely meal. Then, the program – us! Speaking in Spanish, I would give my little speech about midnight. That is really something for me – as I am an early-to-bed type of person. We had a wonderful experience together, and it was great seeing them after 19 years!

In the restaurant, I noticed this cute and practical sign on the restroom doors.

We drove around in the afternoon. The countryside is full of kudzu….

Kudzu was brought to the USA many years ago from Asia, thinking that it would be a good, cheap food for cattle. Turns out that the cows don’t like it, but kudzu loves the climate in the south. These vines are everywhere, choking out other trees and bushes.

DINNER: Grilled chicken in the Asian sauce I used to marinate cucumbers the other night. Quinoa with caramalized onions, mushrooms, and zucchini. Good, except I don’t think I cooked the quinoa correctly. Will have to study up on that.