We have embraced the full time RV lifestyle. And we appreciate being retired, not being in the daily grind. But for whatever reason, it seems we have been in the daily grind since May 2, 2015 (day our truck was totaled). However, on April 24, we also received very sad family news. The news helped us keep things in perspective….A dear relative was given the news of a terminal illness with only months to live. We were so blessed to be in the area twice since then, so we were able to go visit him. And of course, we’re praying for more opportunities….
But since May 2, while it has been all a constant stress and strain, it’s all working out to the good: buying and selling our homes on wheels, having the insurance claim settlement over the wreck of our truck (no injuries), learning how to drive a 40′ Class A motor home, buying a car that can be “flat towed” and not being able to find anyone to configure the car to be towed, taking a two week “side” trip in our car up to Illinois to visit Bill’s family to help begin the process of his mother moving into assisted living…and then about 10 days of our motor home being in and out of the shop for repairs.
So with all that stress, we had hoped after we left Red Bay, we would enjoy our travels to our next destination, and in our dream motor home….And as with most RVers, we prefer to only go 200-250 miles a day. And we’d love to stay at least a week at each location. But there just doesn’t seem to be enough time for this luxury. We at least kept our drive at our limits while we strategically stayed in locations on the way to enjoy the journey.
We were heading back to Fredericksburg, Virginia to spend time our grandson, await the birth of our next grandchild (due August 15, 2015) and help our very pregnant daughter and her husband prepare the nursery.
As we wrote in our last blog, ““No More Doubts” we thought we were now comfortable with our new home on wheels. Well, maybe we spoke to soon! Let’s just say, the trip to Bristol was pretty harrowing because of a terrible weather system, coincidently a tropical depression named “Bill.” Heavy rains and high winds.
After about 100 miles on our way from Jasper to Bristol, Tennessee, we stopped to fill up while we also sought refuge from the weather. So we also desperately looked for a campground nearby. It was too grueling to drive in the heavy rains and wind. But we were also short on time….we wanted to get to Bristol as we knew it had lots of great places to hike and explore….so the rain finally let up and Bill said, “let’s press on.” So we did and we were so glad. We found a real gem in Bristol!
We love learning about the history of our nation but also about more current things to help make our country, and it’s landscape, better. We had no idea what we would learn or stumble on in Bristol, Tennessee. Of course, we knew about the National Forests (so great hiking) and the speedway, but fortunately, while Bill is a “car guy” he’s not really into watching races….We love nature and the outdoors, so that is where we focus. Tennessee is famous for it’s great hikes and water falls. Sadly, there weren’t any hikes close enough for us to try during our short stay. But we discovered something interesting about the Tennessee Valley Authority and where we went, we had a blast!
Bill discovered there was an island nearby – how could we resist seeing an island near mountains? So off we went to Osceola Island….not realizing, it was near a dam and that’s where we found a real gem! So after a stroll around the island, and looking at a strange sight, we learned so much…The strange sight was an earth and rock dam, 285 feet high and 1,600 feet long, with a generating capacity of 38,500 kilowatts.
We had no idea we were in such a strategic location, either. The South Holston Dam is located 50 miles above the South Fork Holston River’s confluence with the North Fork Holston River (which forms the Holston River proper). The dam site is situated in an area where the river descends out of the Appalachian Mountains and enters the upper Holston Valley. The dam and the Tennessee half of its reservoir are surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest, and the Virginia half of the reservoir is surrounded by the Jefferson National Forest. The reservoir includes parts of Sullivan County in Tennessee and Washington County in Virginia. The city of Bristol straddles the Tennessee-Virginia border a few miles northwest of South Holston Dam. So what is unique about this dam?
In 1991, TVA built a weir (a unique structure that if you arrive at the right time, you will see multiple ‘water falls’ ) below South Holston Dam to add oxygen to the river when the hydropower plant isn’t generating electricity. Oxygen-rich water helps create a sustained habitat for aquatic insects, vegetation, and fish.
South Holston Reservoir is on the South Fork Holston River in northeast Tennessee. It extends 24 miles east of the dam into Virginia. Construction of the dam began in 1942 but was halted in favor of other wartime construction efforts. Building resumed in 1947 and was completed in 1950.
South Holston is operated for several purposes, including flood damage reduction, power production, aquatic ecology, and augmentation of the flow of water during drier periods.
The South Fork Holston River is home to an annual spring migration of white bass. Locals say that when the serviceberry and dogwood bloom, the white bass run.
A footbridge from the parking lot below the dam leads to Osceola Island and its one-mile-loop wildlife trail. Early in the morning or late in the evening are the best times to sight waterfowl, deer, and other wildlife.
We said we will have to come back to this area….we were only there for two nights. Here are a few pictures from the Shadrack RV campground (and our review), the view when we left church on Sunday, our drive to Osceola Island and finally the South Holston Dam. To see more, click here to see more photos of this beautiful location on Flickr.
After this quick stay, we then headed to Waynesboro, Virginia, approximately 245 miles, where we again stayed for only two nights. Fortunately, even though we traveled on Interstate 85, the beautiful weather made this leg of the journey more tolerable. But Bill has decided he hates being the slowest vehicle on the road and being passed by other vehicles as big and bigger than we are. At least, this is another great area, near the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Mountains. So he had to focus on the prize!
While we thought the campground was pricey, and no discounts, it was satisfactory. To read our review, click here.
This time, we were close enough to some great hikes, so we just decided to look for the best possible hike. We absolutely love the Virginia Appalachian Mountains, because we are so familiar with them and there are such great views and usually great water falls. We selected White Rock Falls Trail, which would be a 5 mile round trip hike. We didn’t realize it also met up with the Torry Ridge Trail, which is where we ended up hiking to. These trails were off of Mile Post 18.5 off the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). We learned you have no cell service or GPS on the BRP so I couldn’t use our “Map My Hike” app.
We have no idea how far we actually hiked as we went beyond the initial Falls Trail we started on. We had a great hike, but the falls were disappointingly small, in fact, we went beyond them because we couldn’t imagine they were the 30′ falls we read in the description of the hike.
We had to find something beautiful, after all, we were in the Appalachian mountains! So up we went and what a work out in the end. And the reward was well worth it. Here are a few pictures of this hike:
We didn’t mention, this whole journey also included numerous conversations with Tiffin Service Center. One of the main reasons we felt we needed to upgrade to a motor home was to have a washer and dryer. We are so active and on the go, we need to not waste precious time waiting for washers and dryers! And we had seriously downsized our wardrobe for our “extra lite” and very small 5th wheel. So long story short, while we paid too much to have a 5 year old washer fixed, Tiffin was only trying to save us money. In the end, the aggravation and the fact I did have to wait to do laundry, they refunded us all our money on the repair. We’re now waiting on our special order and we sure hope it works out!
So now our focus is on our arrival to the Fredericksburg, VA area and at least two months with our grandson and his parents! We will help get the nursery ready for his sibling, paint the guest room, and just help around the house while we enjoy our little lad, Colin!
Next up, we will celebrate our one year anniversary as full-timers. We sold our “dream” Florida pool home on July 16, 2014. We don’t miss it at all!