Hiking around Sapphire, NC (Part 3 – final)


This is our final hike and post of our fabulous Fall and water fall trip to Sapphire, NC! The waterfalls were what caught Bill’s attention, this is a place to hike with lots of great rewards. Our last post, contained two hikes in the Gorges State Park. Our first post contained the best waterfalls we could find in this area. So this one was a bit more about challenges, some waterfalls but the view was the best of all our hikes. We didn’t know that when we selected it – which is our usual method. What we do know is that you can’t drive anywhere with out seeing beauty in this area!

An Apple map which shows where we were hiking.
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Hiking around Sapphire, NC (Part 2)


We have three more hikes to share while we were in Sapphire, NC. The first two, in our last post, were the most spectacular! But the other three were still great hikes, very challenging and encouraging to me, Debbie.

I mention my knees issues every once in a while. I am so grateful I can still hike! I was told in 2004, I’d need a partial knee replacement in five years. Never happened. I found a different doctor who prescribed a better regimen but I was also told to avoid stairs. So I do as much as possible. I have had two meniscus repairs on each knee. My last X-rays were very encouraging, no knee replacements in either in my future. Can I shout, Praise the Lord!!! It really is miraculous because I did abuse my knees with long distance running in the beautiful city of Philadelphia, but on the sidewalks. My mom warned me I would wear out my knees. I was a bit disrepectful and said God created them to run so I’ll be OK. Needless to say, mom was right! I have to use caution with any activities. I can’t walk fast let alone run, but I can take slow walks on hard packed dirt or sand and I can HIKE! There is something about being in and around God’s creation that brings me much peace and joy!

9/13/2022 Windy Hills Fall hike – attempted but failed.

Our first hike in the Gorges State Park was more or less a failure. We thought we were hiking to another beautiful waterfall, called Windy Falls. There are pictures of it in the All Trails App but it was impossible for us to hike to see it using the app and designated trail. There is a glitch of some sort. However, we still had a great time and learned we should not climb over road closure arm. We entered Toxaway Game Land. It wasn’t marked. We were told Gorges State Park was NC’s newest campground so perhaps that was why there wasn’t better signage.

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The All Trails App said this way! We saw no other trail down to water falls. So off we went.

Let me back up. I should start at the beginning of our day. Using All Trails App, we looked for great hikes closer to us. Gorges State Park was only about 15-20 minute drive. We had plans to at least hike 6 if not more miles. Normally, we stop in Visitor Centers, especially when it is so convenient to the trail head. We decided we wanted to hit the trail and, after all, the All Trails App had the trail map and a great review to Windy Hill Fall trail then on to the Rainbow Falls. Follow our hike in the slide show, below. It looked well marked in the beginning. But as noted above, we hit a glitch;

After the fact, we realized we could have had a disaster as we descended. I couldn’t take pictures and use my poles most of the way from the barricade to the end of the trail. It was narrow, lots of roots and rocks. The review warned us of this so we were not concerned. But by the time we could go no further, we realized we made a mistake. In the Visitor Center, we later learned we had entered Toxaway Game Land. There were no warning signs, but maybe a barricade was a clue we weren’t entering a viable State Park trail. While we wanted to hike more miles, we encountered another couple that let us know, we needed to call it a day.

9/14/2022 Rainbow Falls and Turtle Back Falls

As mentioned above, had intentions of ALSO hiking to Rainbow Falls the day before. To get to the Rainbow Falls, there is a steep descent – so one must be prepared to climb back up and out. We literally bumped into a really nice couple in the parking lot, then ended up hiking the entire trail with them. They were maybe 15 years younger but were novice hikers. Perhaps they thought we might need help since we had hiking poles. We thought they might need help since we’re so “experienced.” We were tipped off the day before, it is a tough trail. We did fine. We actually were forced to go slow because there were a lot of other hikers. What they learned from us was to get hiking poles!

Follow our hike in this slide show. To read the captions, click on the first image then view as a slide show:

This trail was challenging for those not used to hiking. Unless one reads the description of it at the trail head, they may not realize the challenges. The day before, we met a couple who just finished the hike. We had gone nearly four miles challenging miles, they said this one was also challenging in the descent then ascent.

While we waited to get our pictures taken, we talked to an “urban” couple. They wanted to experience a lot of fresh air on their vacation. They had no idea what they were in for, but in their determination, they made it to the Falls. However, it was slippery and the woman lost her footing and slide down. Fortunately, the fence caught her! It was a heart stopping moment. Thankfully, she was not injured. We met up with them on our way back to the car. The were sitting on a bench about 1/4 mile from the parking lot. They were catching their breath. They had not carried water but had some in their car. They needed a drink so we offered to go get it. They thanked us and said they learned some valuable lessons if they ever decide to take a “hike!”

Stay tuned for our final hike to Salt Rock Gap trails. It’s been nearly two months since we were here. Writing this up has helped us to book another trip here – in the Spring.

My final thoughts as I finish this post:

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him!”

Psalms 28:7

Hiking around Sapphire, NC (Part 1)


Bill continues to serve as our Travel Adventure Director. He never disappoints. I am always amazed at the places he finds for us. So for this quick one week trip as close to home as possible with challenging hikes, we traveled to Sapphire, NC. He said he picked this area because of all the water falls.

First, a bit about our accommodations at Fairway Forest Resort. We are members of RCI (Resorts Condominiums International). We needed a better way to travel after giving up Recreational Vehicles. We actually stumbled upon this travel idea. It is too complicated to explain, let’s just say it is working for us. This week was our ninth week since joining a year ago. The condos are fully furnished with fully equipped kitchens. We have not been disappointed in any of our accommodations. This one ranked up as one of the best – but then I seem to say that after every week. Maybe our expectations are lowered, or maybe they are higher, no matter, our expectations each trip so far have been exceeded.

Our two story condo was on a golf course, next to a National Forest with a babbling brook running nearby. The sound was so soothing! The outside appearance was really not all that lovely, but inside, it was perfect. We had a two bedroom, two bath. Full kitchen, dining table, living area with a fireplace, sliding doors from both of these areas are technically on the second floor and went out to a large balcony and overlooked a hidden golf course. Stairs are my nemesis but these were carpeted, not steep and easy on my knees. The stairs went downstairs to the master bedroom ensuite. HUGE jetted bathtub with a separate shower. Full washer and dryer with plenty of closets and drawers to unpack. We also had a sliding glass door to an outside patio. I have lots of photos but really, they do not do it justice.

The best part of this condo was being on the end unit!
The best part of this condo was being on the end unit!

We went on five fabulous hikes, plus visited with friends who have a cabin in the area. Little did we know we were staying so close to them so it was bonus to spend an evening with them.

September 11, 2022 Glen Falls Trail

My review on All Trails, which I rated four out of five stars: We like to hike to falls wherever we can. We’re in this area for a week because of all the Falls. This hike had the most robust and gorgeous falls! The trail was challenging so it was well worth the length and rewards. We had poles – and needed them for balance around some mud, all the roots and rocks. These are natural in a forest! The trail was well traveled but no signs after the first one. Fortunately someone familiar with it helped us at one junction-not marked. Conditions: Muddy, Rocky, Great!

Sadly, I had a hard time getting the All Trails App to record the hike. But I used my Apple Watch which said it was about three miles. We had a picnic at the bottom of the trail. It was a three and back.

A slide show of a few pictures:

September 12, 2022 Nantahala Whitewater Falls & Foothills Trail

My review from All Trails, which earned five stars out of five! Fabulous! We started at the Whitewater Falls, then hopped on the foothills trail to Grassy Knob. Great views. Two areas with benches as we climbed Grassy Knob. Trail was excellent, just one area needs maintenance from fallen trees. We need to carry a saw!

Stats: Length, 4.81 miles (Actual was 5 miles); Elevation gain 702 ft; Moving time 3:02:08

And we thought Glenn Falls was fabulous. This is THE WATERFALL that makes this area famous for waterfalls! From the Forest Service website:

“Whitewater Falls owes its existence to the Blue Ridge Escarpment, a sharp drop in elevation between the mountains and the Piedmont.

“With a 411-foot plunge, Upper Whitewater Falls in North Carolina is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. South Carolina’s Lower Whitewater Falls falls another 400 feet.

“Because of the escarpment’s difficult access and rugged terrain, much of the area receives few visitors and has remained wild and undeveloped over the years.”

A slide show with captions of a few pictures:

In a recent Bible study, we looked at Psalms 90. I thought of our wonderful time in these beautiful mountains and the prayer of Moses:

“A prayer of Moses the man of God. Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

Psalms 90:2

We still have three more days of hiking to share. So stay tuned. We liked this area so much, we are returning in the Spring!

Speak Life – Devotional (Day 1 of 4)


Oh my, a precious remembrance of Colin as he prepared for his 4th birthday. Can you believe his 9th birthday is this month??? I started a new YouVersion Bible Reading plan this morning that brought back this past Bible Reading Plan.

Real life....

Speak Life By Brady Boyd, restoring healthy communication in how you think talk and pray.

I just love it when I am down in the dumps, our Lord reaches down to me and pulls me up with something amazing! And this morning it started with the daily scripture on my YouVersion Bible app:

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9

Then the app asked me if I’d like to see devotional plans related to this scripture – and then I saw it, “Speak Life.” Oh, yes, one of my favorite (I have about 1,000) worship songs. But this one is really special as I try, oh how I try, to speak life to all my loved ones, friends and family. But I fail time and time again.

Right now, it’s over my…

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Berkshire Mountains (4/23-30/2022)


TheTumbleLees
I almost missed taking this picture!

For our second week of hiking, we drove from Wilmington, Vermont to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We were still celebrating our 47th Anniversary, but decided to change our “heading.” When you go through as much as we have, you’d understand why we have so much to celebrate! And we usually do big things in April.

In case you don’t know us, this blog was started to share the story about our marriage (4/11/1975), separated in August 1988, divorced (12/13/1989), reconciliation, and remarriage (8/19/1989). When we married, like all young couples, we had a dream of living happily ever. That dream was shattered 13 years later. Then a miracle happened. And we know for any divorced couple to be restored back to holy matrimony, it takes a miracle. You can read our story by starting here. There are links with chapter headings for 26 marriage blog posts. Once we became grandparents in 2013, we changed the blog site to write about our travel adventures. And here we are, in our second week of travel adventures in April 2022.

We are thanking God I can indeed still hike! In our younger days, until just a few years ago 😁, we went for long-distance hikes – for us, six + miles. So I am excited to know how much/or little, I can still hike! Anyway, here is a recap of our second week and what is ahead in this and the remaining posts about our time in northeastern Massachusetts:

The week of April 23 – 30, 2022
4/23/2022 Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary Trail (Hiked 3.2 miles)
4/24/2022 Shaker Village (walked 3.4 miles)
4/25/2022 Mahanna Cobble Bousquet Loop (Hiked 5.9 miles)
4/26/2022 Toured Ventfort Hall
4/27/2022 Shaker Mountain (Hiked 3.9 miles)
4/28/2022 Deerfield MA (toured the historic town, walked 2.4)
4/29/2022 Bradley Farm Interpretative Trail at Greylock Mountain (Hiked 2.4 miles – although we hoped for a 6+ mile hike)
4/30/2022 Drove to Winchester, Virginia (We celebrated our daughter’s birthday)

When we traveled full time in our motor home, we preferred to not drive more than 250 miles in one day for a variety of reasons. One of our main reasons was so we could still do something, such as a long walk, on our day of travel. Our drive from Wilmington to Pittsfield was perfect and reminded us of how we traveled in the past. By design, it was only a 45-mile trip to change mountain ranges! So it took over 80 minutes. Here is a slideshow of the drive as well as both the inside and outside of the Berkshire Mountain Lodge, where we stayed:

  • Weather for the week

In our last blog post, we didn’t get any feedback from the “Relive” app which creates a short “movie.” That one was our drive through the Green Mountains, from Wilmington, Vermont to Hildene in Manchester, Vermont. I tracked our drive from Wilmington to Pittsfield. Relive then makes a video, which I’ve posted it below. Bill has enjoyed these because as the driver, he misses some of the scenery! I know I am enjoying watching Appalachian through-hikers using the app. It is amazing technology. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below:

Once we arrived and put everything away, we headed out to Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary Trail. It was just over three miles away, less than a 10-minute drive to get there. Perhaps we had been a bit too aggressive on our hikes in Vermont. We decided on our first day here, we start on a flatter trail. And this was the perfect trail for us, for the most part. There was one very swampy area that was challenging. I was unable to take any pictures because I was too busy balancing with my poles as I tiptoed over roots, branches, rocks, and whatever else to not get my feet and shoes soaking wet. We were successful. Phew! Here is a slide show that documents the beauty and you can see the potential for difficult areas to traverse:

Bill not only selected the condo, but he also figures out great places to visit. He uses both Trip Advisor as well as Pinterest. The Shaker Village was on his list. We previously toured and enjoyed the South Union Shaker Village (1807-1922) in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Quoting myself from that blog post: “One thing we like to do as we travel is to learn unusual history and to honor those whose lives are memorialized in museums, in parks, gardens, and even cemeteries.” The Shakers fall into all of these categories at the Hancock Shaker Village.

April 24, 2022 – Hancock Shaker Village, Massachusetts We didn’t learn any more about these particular farmers. Interesting as we learned in the South Union Shaker Village, they kept meticulous records and diaries. I am sure the information is there, just not readily available. We questioned the one docent we met in the cellar of the Brick Dwelling why they may have not only made a big donation, but in essence, turned their lives and the lives of their children over to a relatively new “religious” order. He surmised life was very hard then and this offered the help needed to survive. An interesting note, to be a Shaker, one must take a vow of celibacy as well as turn their children over to the “village” to be cared for. The children actually contributed with age-appropriate chores. Anyway, this village endured until the last remaining partials of ground were sold off by the few remaining members in 1959. From the website:

Hancock Shaker Village began in the late 1780s, when nearly 100 Believers consolidated a community on land donated by local farmers who had converted to the Shaker movement. By the 1830s, with a great many more conversions and additional land acquisitions, the Shaker community peaked in population with more than 300 Believers and more than 3,000 acres.

During the height of their growth, religious fervor, and influence, the Hancock Shakers erected communal dwelling houses, barns, workshops, and other buildings, and developed a large and successful farm. With the 1826 Round Stone Barn as the center of a thriving dairy industry, and with many acres cultivated in medicinal herbs, vegetables, fruits, and other crops, the Hancock Shakers enjoyed a simple, peaceful, and hard-working life, separated from the ways of “The World.” They named their utopian village The City of Peace, and organized the large community into six smaller communal groups known as Families for efficiency of work, worship, and administration.

The Shakers were proficient in a wide array of crafts, trades and industries, including woodworking and metalworking, basketry, spinning, weaving and broom making. They developed their own water-powered mills for grinding grain, sawing wood, and manufacturing textiles. The Shakers were highly regarded for their honesty and industriousness, and for the quality of their products, which became an important source of income.

Eventually, forces outside the community, including the industrial revolution and the shifting of America from a rural to an urban society, worked against their continued growth and stability. By the early 1900s, with dwindling converts, the Shaker population at Hancock declined to about 50 Believers, most of them Sisters and orphan girls who had been adopted by the community, and only a few adult Brethren.

Many outlying acres of land were sold off, and buildings were razed during the final decades of the Hancock community. In 1959, when the Shakers could no longer maintain their City of Peace, they sold the remaining property to a local group committed to preserving the Shaker heritage. The utopian village known as Hancock Shaker Village continues its life today as a history museum with 20 authentic buildings, a working farm and significant collections of Shaker furniture and artifacts.”

Citation: https://hancockshakervillage.org/shakers/shakers-hancock

I enjoyed this village more than the one in Bowling Green, Kentucky because it felt more alive to me! The event for the month was the “History of Baby Animals” so there were many families with young children. This was definitely a place I would want to bring our (young) grandsons.

Bill preferred the other one because we were first shown an informational movie. There were only a handful of others there so it was more “peaceful.” Also, the few Docents working were able to answer all of our questions and provide us with lots of information. Bill also didn’t see any references here to the fact, we were told upfront at the other Village, the Shakers in essence became extinct because of their vows of celibacy. He also thought we were better informed there about their religious practices. Did you know they were called Shakers because in their worship of God, they “shook” in their fervor?

In preparing for this blog post, I found this YouTube video about the Hancock Shaker Village which actually shows the beauty and explains the more about the village:

A Registered National and Historic Landmark and such a beautiful “farm”

We enjoyed our time here as it was a beautiful day and we managed to get in enough miles. Although we did not go visit a physical church, we watched our home church service on-line before we came. Had we come earlier, we probably would have included a hike up Shaker Mountain, but we returned another day for that hike. Which was more challenging than we expected.

Here are a few more pictures of things I didn’t see or notice in the YouTube video:

 

Oh my, I almost forgot to show my favorite animal on the farm. I was just fascinated and wished I had taken a video. But at least I have this remnant:

I was fascinated! Why didn’t I take a video? Or perhaps this gif is enough….

Some final thoughts before we move to our next blog post. This farm is sustainable and there are many lessons to learn here about farming. One important lesson for farmers is how this farm used solar energy 200 years ago! And as technology advanced, this farm has become part of a Community Shared Solar Retail enterprise. I found interesting details from an article on this website “Village: Powered by the Sun for Over 200 Years:”

Throughout the Village there are many examples of ways in which the Shakers efficiently used what today we would call “green” or “sustainable” building and architectural features, and “renewable” or “alternative” energy.”

“Borrowed light” in the Brick Dwelling (1830)
Windows placed on interior south-facing walls bring sunlight further into building, reducing the need for artificial lighting (minimizing the use of candles, oil lamps, and electricity). In addition, interior windows ensure better ventilation. Also note the woodstove placement at the center of the room and the long stove pipe; both provide more efficient heating.
ca. 1930s Collection of Hancock Shaker Village #1986-1320

Passive solar gain in the Brick Poultry House (1878)
The large number of south-facing windows provided heat and light in winter, keeping the Shakers’ chickens healthy, and increasing egg production. The amount of passive solar energy gained from these windows during the winter heating season is equivalent to 6 barrels (252 gallons) of oil.
ca. 1915-1920 Collection of Hancock Shaker Village #1995-5821, album p. 12

What is even better, the Solar Retail Enterprise provides another source of income to preserve this farm, museum and educational entities. Visit this article and website for more details, Hancock Shaker Village Getting Greener.

This makes me want to move to a Solar Farm! What a great way to provide electricity for personal use while providing electricity for near by homes/communities. Now to figure out how to grow our own gardens and care for the chickens, eggs and protect them from wildlife. I’m not sure about the pig, though. Something about him that just didn’t sit right….Oh well, back to my dream!

Up next a few hikes and a tour of a mansion. More history to learn.

God made two big lights, the larger to take charge of Day, The smaller to be in charge of Night; and he made the stars. God placed them in the heavenly sky to light up Earth And oversee Day and Night, to separate light and dark. God saw that it was good. It was evening, it was morning— Day Four.”

Genesis 1:16-19 MSG

Ozark Mountain – (Branson, Missouri) Part 4 (final)


This is the final blog post of our hiking in the Ozark Mountains for 2021. Our first Ozark hiking trip this year was in eastern Missouri, south of Saint Louis in Desoto, Missouri. You can catch up here. Our last blog post was the start of our week in the Branson, Missouri area. Interesting, where we stayed is called Ozark Mountain Resort. I used that as a play on words, so to speak, in my blog post titles! We enjoyed the mountains in both areas. However, I have a relative who lives in Arkansas who also likes to hike. He said it is even better there. So hopefully, one day, we will hike in Arkansas!

We ended on a cliff hanger in the last blog post, sort of. Did we visit the cabin where Matt and Aunt Mollie lived? Yes and no. We didn’t explore the history of Branson soon enough so we missed it. We had our Thanksgiving dinner in the Shepherd of the Hills complex. It was too cold and windy to go explore what all was around the restaurant. So we missed it and now have another reason to go back. We will also explore more of the history Branson. I am a bit fascinated with Harold Bell Wright’s writing and his life in case you didn’t notice in the last blog post. He is given a lot of credit for putting Branson on the map so to speak. I want to explore that idea. But in this blog, I am digging into a more obscure historical figure. Hopefully, next time we visit I will have more answers. 

We have three hiking excursions, Thanksgiving Dinner and a visit to historic downtown Branson in this post. I enjoy writing these memories in this blog as it helps me relive them! And we do go back and refer to our posts from time to time – to remember where and when we visited…..various areas!

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Ozark Mountain – (Branson, Missouri) Part 3


We have not regretted our decision to NOT buy a Class B RV.  We wrote about our dilemma on how to travel in two posts, here and here. We finally figured it out. This is our third road trip as we return to our love of hiking. This is the start of our most recent travels in diary form.

On November 11, 2021, we departed our home in Myrtle Beach. We took two days to drive to Bill’s brother’s home near Boonville, Missouri. It is just over 1,000 miles and without stopping, takes around 16 hours. In case you aren’t familiar with David and his wife, Linda, you can just about catch up to their lives in a post written here. Most recently, their was some good news is that he has taken a turn for the BETTER in his battle against cancer. Modern medicine has done all possible to eradicate his body of the disease. He was told there was nothing more they could do but offered palliative chemo. In the meantime, they have looked at alternative treatment methods. The latest CEA test results were encouraging, for those familiar with CEA tests.

11/19/2021 After a week with David and Linda, we went to Branson, Missouri to hike! That’s probably not what you think of when you say you are going to Branson, is it? More about that below. From there, we returned to the Fayetteville, Arkansas area to visit with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Then we went to Little Rock area. I have cousins to the south and north of the city. After all that, we headed back to Myrtle Beach. According to this map, it was about

Map by Goggle. Nearly three week long trip at 2,435 miles and 38 hours traveling from point to point!
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Hiking in the Ozarks! (Desoto, MO) Part 2


Our October 2021 hiking vacation, so to speak, continued on a good note! We were watching the weather closely and discovered the mid west gets a lot of rain storms. But like us in Myrtle Beach, the systems move fast and it seemed the ground dried out. We were prepared for indoor activities just in case….It looked like both Thursday and Friday had high chances of rain. We don’t mind those days as we enjoy museums and other interesting inside venues – such as caves!

Bill and I tried to scuba dive one time, in Cancun. We had “free” snorkeled a lot but those opportunities were disappearing as the reefs were becoming damaged from all the snorkelers. Snorkeling was becoming “controlled” which meant more people going out together so they could be closely monitored. The idea of scuba diving seemed the answer to enjoying that beauty under the ocean! We were optimistic we could scuba dive, but Bill was just too buoyant while I had a hard time equalizing. We did manage an hour in plus 30′ but pretty much declared it wasn’t for us. So to see a dive sign at the nearby Bonne Terre mines initially put Bill off. I looked closer and saw it included an underground boat tour. It just looked worth the price of admission – and it was!

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Hiking in the Ozarks! (Desoto, Missouri) Part 1


The first time I heard of the Ozarks was when our friend, Larry Hurst, accepted a job transfer there. At least how he described his families new home – AMAZING. Now we know and understand the beauty of this part of the country.

I developed my wanderlust as a young child, exploring a ranch around Colorado Springs. So no wonder I really enjoy hiking. Bill grew up hunting and exploring the great outdoors. So when we want to take a bit of a vacation, we look, or actually, he looks for places to hike. Somehow, that is a skill he developed when we started traveling in an RV.

Now that we have decided not to buy a Class B or any RV now, we are taking trips “resort” style. To buy the Class B we wanted, it was going to cost at least $120,000 IF we could even find that one. Yes, they are hard to find right now. So let’s divide that up and see how many “vacations” we could take in the next five years for the same amount of money. Let’s start with easy math: $120,000 divided by 5 = $24,000 a year. We honestly only want to go for a week approximately four times a year. At our age, we do prefer the routine we have at home. BUT in traveling, we hope it will keep our minds and bodies sharp and in shape. Anyway, that equals $6,000/week. We can certainly enjoy a vacation/trip for that amount! HOWEVER, if you know us, we are budget shoppers and we are pretty good at finding budget vacations (click to see our two Colorado vacations in 2011 and 2012). So our bottom line to a Class B, we also don’t want all the head aches associated with them and we want flexibility. So with that said, here is our first vacation/travel blog!

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No Class B for us and West Virginia, Part 2


You may have figured out from our last post, when we said we were lost in the woods, we found our way out.  If you missed it, click here.   We had taken a short hike, about two miles, in a heavily treed park nearing dusk. We did finally see enough daylight to find our way out! And perhaps you may also have figured out, I can hike! We haven’t been in the mountains since March 2019. Let us continue with recent travels that took us to the Beckley area of West Virginia and in particular, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve (NRG).

Day 3 August 24, 2021

Miner’s Museum Our friends from Beckley highly recommended we visit the Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum in the City of Beckley. It is the #1 activity according to Trip Advisor and it was well worth it! We bought our tickets and had about 45 minutes before the underground mine tour began. We enjoyed the quaint museum. We always like to learn local history. We certainly appreciate what miner’s did for our country to provide fuel for heat and energy for transportation. So this really was beyond anything local! Continue Reading

No Class B for us and West Virginia, Part 1


December 2018, when we decided to sell our motorhome and “get off the road” Bill asked only one thing. He wanted to take at least 3-4 road trips a year. I agreed but I wasn’t sure how it would work out. Long story short, it hasn’t. We did manager a few fabulous hiking excursions while we traveled to see family. Otherwise, the travel/hiking bug began to bite us big time. BUT we just didn’t know how to make it work. Finally, it looked like buying and traveling in a self-contained Class B would make it possible. We wrote two blog posts, Is it Time to Hit the Road and Van Life – Pros and Cons, as we began to seriously consider it. This blog post will explain why we decided against it. We figured it out when we took a side trip in West Virginia on our way from Pennsylvania where we attended the funeral of a precious relative, Bill’s second cousin, to attend my mom’s Celebration of Life service in Virginia.

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Van Life – Pros and Cons


GRPImagery

This makes us want a Travato. Image borrowed with out permission from the timeline of the Travato Owners/Wannabe FaceBook Group

A few people thought we were going to sell everything again and travel full-time again in a camper van. I should clarify and this post will give us more opportunity to contemplate as we work through this process. As a reminder, it took Bill five years of research before we bought our first Recreational Vehicle (RV). We also attended RV camper shows during those five years so once we bought, we were pretty well educated. We are also known to take our time before we do anything major – well, sort of! Anyway, we’d love to hear some feedback if you are so inclined.

Sometimes decisions are easy to make. We have made a lot of major decisions in our 46 years together. But this one is going to take more time, prayers and thought than ever before. We are now committed to attending the Hershey RV Super Show this fall!

Lessons learned from our past: I’m so grateful for the legacy Bill’s parents instilled in him. We were reminded of this Sunday – to be good stewards with EVERYTHING God has blessed us with. So for Bill to want to make a BIG purchase, he has to run the numbers, count the cost and be as educated as one can be. In one seminar we attended at the Tampa RV Supershow, we learned your first RV is your “education.” That helped us to buy small to start and it paid dividends: 

Pros:

1. We miss the RV life style full of adventures!

2. We miss traveling on the back roads, through small towns and looking for the EPIC view on our hikes.

3. We are now into a routine that needs a bit shaken up.

4. When we visit family, we stay in hotels for multiple reasons. Mainly that at this time, none of them have a guest bedroom. So we will be able to not only bring our own bedroom, but also our own kitchen and bathroom!

5. We have a lot more family we need to visit but all of them live very far away. So we could smell the roses on our way and bring our own guest bedroom! Who wouldn’t want to have us visit?

6. We want NIMBLE. We don’t want to tow a car nor do we want to tow a camper. Been there done that. These are our personal preferences.

7. An RV offers the sights and sounds we can’t get traveling to and from a hotel or resort. We have been trying for the past 2 1/2 years. We just can’t get motivated nor have we been willing to take the time to travel as Bill asked us to do when we sold the motor home. 

8. We prefer to eat at home. We bought an electric 42 quart cooler to haul with us when we travel. In and out of the trunk and in and out of the hotel. Our last hotel stay, we left the electric cord behind. It has a 12 volt one connected to it and then you add the plug in one. So didn’t notice until we were hundreds of miles away. The hotel would happily mail it back, as long as I sent them a postage paid address label. As of nearly a week later, the hotel is having a hard time getting it sent back to us….So a Class B means we will now have a refrigerator with us! Not to mention things to cook with.

9. We are work-a-holics. Granted, we are retired, but we sure find a lot of work to do….And that is the routine we need to shake up.

Cons:

1. Cost. Been there and done that! When we sold the motorhome, we literally “threw” in every “extra” thing we bought. Bill said he was done. So now we have to buy a lot of little things – but we don’t know what we will need. He bought as we went along. 

2. We formerly traveled in the lap of luxury. Meaning, we had a king sized bed (I am like a built in heater in the summer and winter.) We had a residential refrigerator! We had a full sized washer and dryer. The shower was big. We had a toilet in a closet with an extra sink. Now that was a luxury. If one of us couldn’t “wait” we could always go to the campground restrooms. BUT if we travel the way we want in a class B, we won’t be in many campgrounds. 

3. After a full day of outdoor activities, especially hiking, we both need a long, hot shower and a comfortable chair to kick back in. Bill had a leather deluxe lazy boy. My passenger seat turned around so it became my lazy girl!

4. So that brings up the issue, do we really think we could we survive in a VERY small environment? We are getting up there in years and while we are active and in good shape, we wake with aches and pains….

5. VERY little storage space. We found a GREAT list by another #vanlife couple. They spelled out exactly what we need so maybe we can really be minimalists – but I can’t find it now.We successfully downsized from a sticks and bricks home into a small 28′ fifth wheel. We only bought four of everything, imaging the day our grandson(s) would join us or even friends for a meal. We managed and we actually liked to call ourselves minimalists. But then we bought the motor home and somehow, we began to add more and more stuff….then we sold it and moved back into a sticks and bricks home. Now we are used to stuffing our residential fridge more than we dared to in our MH and we are now used to so much stuff again. Basically their list suggested only bring two of everything, ie., two bowls  – no plates. What ever you can eat on a plate, you can eat in a bowl. Bring two spoons. Whatever you can eat with a fork, you can eat with a spoon! Only bring two pans. Bill will pick those out! Get the picture?

6. Dealing with the RV industry again. This is considered a luxury industry so our “needs” are at the bottom of the totem pole. That was a rough lesson when we first started and so we know what to expect. So that helped us stop RVing.

7. RVers are the proving ground/testing victims for their improvements. Too many parts wear out prematurely. Too many people have added sumo springs, for example. Heavy duty shocks, heavy duty tires, etc.

Unknowns:

We don’t know what we don’t know! So we will continue to engage with others traveling in Class Bs as we come across them. Continue to read blogs – there are some fabulous ones. And then attend the next big RV show and get educated by the RV manufacturer reps and meet class B owners and wannabes! Please feel free to add your thoughts below in our comment area.

My go to verse when I don’t know which path to take:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your path  straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Is it time to hit the road? #VanLife


We both agreed it was time to get off the road in our 2010 Tiffin Phaeton in December 2019. Only one thing Bill asked was for us to agree to take a road trip a few times a year. We have only been able to make one such road trip since then. We have made several trips to see family but never seem to make the time to stop and smell the roses on the way there or back.

We are starting to dream! From WanderLust blog
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Chapter 9 The Good, the Bad, the Ugly – Reblogged


I know I am dating myself, but I loved this Clint Eastwood movie.  So when I told Bill this was our next topic, he was surprised!  He asked, “Is there bad and ugly in our marriage?”  Men don’t see life the same way us women do, in case anyone reading this does not already know this!  (smile)

Bill never thought there was anything wrong with our first marriage.  I used to say he had his head in the sand.  But did he really?  He never wanted to see the bad or ugly. And he still doesn’t. We have learned so much and our second marriage is heavenly – but not perfect! There is no perfection on this earth – we only get to look forward to it in our afterlife!  

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16           

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“Being married to you is like riding a bull!”


Should we continue to blog about marriages? To catch up if you want to start at the beginning or see why these posts are still relevant, we now have a “Marriage Blog Posts” link on our header.

Follow the Tumble Lees!

I love my husband so much! He is so funny! My next post was going to be called, “the good, the bad, the ugly.” But life this morning was just too amazing so a preview of the good, the bad and the ugly, so I have to share a quick blog.

I remember the first Marriage Bible study we took was under Rev. Paige Young and his wife Sibby at Ferry Farm Baptist Church.  They became our role models! Anyway one block was on learning to describe your marriage through illustrations (Jesus taught by parables because our human brains can’t grasp how deep and wide His love and creation is). Bill said I was like a bulldozer!!! Can you imagine how I felt? He quickly added, “in a good way!” He then went on to compliment me on how I get things done! Phew, I was worried for a…

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Chapter 6 What destroys marriages – or at least destroyed ours?


I’m way behind in blogging. And now I really need to decide what to do with this blog since we are no longer traveling (much). But this month, as we celebrate 46 years of marriage, I am reviewing, updating and re-blogging our Marriage Blog Posts. We are still passionate about the state of marriages. I plan to download these and convert them into a “table”book for our old age! So if anyone sees any typos or errors, please let me know. It will be much appreciated. And sorry, this is five chapters behind. But to catch up, we now have a “Marriage Blog Posts” link on our header.

Follow the Tumble Lees!

DestructionMost couples start off madly “in love” where they only see the good in each other, right?  I know we did.  I don’t think anyone becomes a couple with the idea they will break up one day.  I know we professed our undying love for each other and I know we vowed to love one another until death do us part.  So what happened?  Why did we divorce?  We don’t think we are the exception to the rule.  We think what happened to us, happens to so many others.  A general once said, “The only way to win a war is to prevent a war.”  And that is true in marriages:  the only way to not divorce (or break up) is to prevent a divorce!  Again, I highly recommend Dr. Ed Wheat’s book, Love Life for Every Married Couple how to fall in love, stay in love, rekindle your love to EVERY…

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Broken Elbow and More Travel During the Pandemic (part 2)


Continuing from our last post. I’m now chuckling as I ask myself, how are we surviving? By the Grace of God!!!

Our grandsons spent last summer with us, written about here. I’m not sure, but I don’t think I included how the boys wonderful summer ended.

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Both boys are healthy, active, and are very typical BOYS. They love activity, anything outdoors, running, bike riding, roller skating, playing in the sand at the beach and riding the waves! And they have the need for speed….But none of that had anything to do with either injury. I will say, we were toughened up when Bryce cut a slice near his eye last summer. But oh, deja vu when on…..

July 7, 2020 our oldest grandson took his first trip to an Emergency Room. Surprisingly, Colin had very little pain after the initial fall. UNTIL I had to get him in his car seat and buckled in! OUCH he was screaming! I felt like calling 911 – but he said NO. He’d be ok so he did settle down. He didn’t understand how cool it would have been to ride in an ambulance – I think he just didn’t want to have to get out of the car after we struggled getting him in. Continue Reading

Boys Summer 2020 – Surviving the Pandemic! (Part 1)


Bill picks up the boys!

Our daughter drove our grandsons 1/2 way to Myrtle Beach. Bill drove up to get them. Happy reunion!


I’m behind in blogging
– I’ve recently written about 10 posts – in my head since my last post! But alas, as with everyone, the Pandemic has thrown our lives off kilter.  Hummaccording to Merriam Webster, that means not in perfect balance. Maybe I need a stronger word to describe not only our lives, but I am sure nearly everyone can identify with this since the pandemic: our lives are upside down!!!!

As with all families with young children, the pandemic turned first turned their lives upside down when schools and daycares closed in March. Both parents were considered “essential” so they were able to continue to work – which was good in one sense. But then that meant they had to find someone to take care of both boys and “continue” their education.

Since Bill was recovering from the surgery he had on March 20, we could not step in to help them out. But we decided as soon as he felt he could, we would bring the boys back up to Myrtle Beach. In the meantime, they were “sheltered in” with a babysitter/tutor to keep the boys home and working on “school.” Colin had “virtual” classes in reading and math so that was good. But for a 4 year old? He was struggling with learning the alphabet. Thankfully, we learned on August 6, 2020 he needs reading glasses to help his focus! But more on that later.

Bill was healing quicker than expected so we were about to send for them when I tore the meniscus in my left knee. Uh oh! So after six weeks with the babysitter, we finally brought them to Myrtle Beach. They loved their summer here last year so it was “natural” for them to come a week earlier than originally planned had it not been for the pandemic.

While most activities were closed, we at least had the beach as a place to go and go we went! After all, we moved to Myrtle Beach for the beach – and our grandsons love it as much as we do! But then, the rainy season began – so the beach was out for many days. We had gone to Fun Warehouse last year so we tried it again – and it opened just in time. We discovered they had a GREAT summer pass, with unlimited use on the skating rink, go karts, bounce house and laser tag room. Colin was just able to drive a go kart himself – and did he ever love it. And both boys became determined to learn how to skate – which they did!!! The bounce house is always a favorite but laser tag became a favorite for Bryce, our younger. While driving the go-carts were Colin’s favorite. What a great place to spend rainy days. While a huge part of it is “open air” we felt safe with their cleaning standards. Here are a few pictures in a slide show of various activities during the pandemic:

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Another great summer activity – but only in dry weather was the mountain bike skills park. We only made it there once, but no problem for Bryce to master it after he saw Colin successfully go around it.

If we got out early enough on days that we knew would not be good beach days, we also enjoyed Savannah Playground. It finally opened on June 1. We had a few great times there, but the weather became too hot. And those were about the only activities we could enjoy. Compared to good friends back up in Virginia, it was so much more than what is opened there. It’s so hard on children to not be able to play and enjoy summer activities.

The worst thing for us was our neighborhood swimming pool not opening. We have a fabulous amenity center, gymnasium, tennis, bocce and pickle ball courts. But the swimming pool was the biggest hit last summer. Eventually, the outdoor courts opened and the swimming pool with one horrible stipulation – aside from having to sign up for an hour or so a day, it was only open for residents. No guests. Which meant no grandchildren! And so many of us have grandchildren that come to visit. We heard a YMCA indoor pool was open and they had swimming lessons. Well, sign us up!

So on July 6, we were blessed for them to start two weeks of swimming lessons. The boys loved it and both were committed to really learning how to swim properly. Our summer was starting to beat to a new rhythm –  we were going to survive this pandemic yet!

And then on July 7, after our second great day of lessons, off we went to Fun Warehouse. Another rainy day. And then it happened. A grandparents worst nightmare for their grandchild, who is in their care, to get seriously injured. But Colin was a champ. He was only whimpering but the elbow was starting to swell. And I could see a bone fragment sticking out on the underside. Ugh….

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:7

To be continued….

Finding Buried Treasures!


Bill hoped to dig for hidden gems mine for gold while we traveled full time in our Motorhome. We never did, but we still have plans! We hope to take our grandsons on adventures where they will join us in this dream! In the meantime, I just found some hidden gems that are worth more than gold to me!

My dig started when our grand niece arrived from Missouri to spend a few weeks with us. In my last blog post, I alluded to something special happening to help us with our grandsons while I recovered from surgery – and this is our GREAT news! As with most areas, so many fun things for children are closed. Thankfully, here in Myrtle Beach, things are slowly opening. If nothing else, the boys and their cousin will enjoy bike riding and the beach! Continue Reading

Our Health and Knee Issues During the Covid-19


Engaged! 1975

I had dropped out of college after completing my junior year, met Bill, and here I was meeting all of his family.

We thought we experienced about every facet of the worst during the Pandemic. I’ve written about my mom’s passing (where I learned Funeral Homes are not considered essential), traveling and surgery in the past few blogs. Just when we thought it was about over – for us that is. So this post is about how we are fairing with our overall health and now our next issue – the need for another surgical procedure.

When I started college, I had to figure out how to “protect” my heart.  I developed rheumatic fever when I was five. I was told I had to take penicillin for the rest of my life and I should NOT “stress my heart” by running. Imagine telling that to a five year old!

But when I went to college, I was no longer under a doctor’s care. My roommate was a nursing student and an athlete.  It didn’t take me long to learn how important exercise is for a heart. So I began to workout – after all, I had to lose the Freshman 15 when I returned home for the summer. Once I began to run, I was quickly addicted. BUT my mom warned me I would wear my knees out….What do mother’s know? I said you can’t wear out your knees. How how naive I was….”Mother’s are always right” – eventually we see that truth. Continue Reading

Surgery During the Coronavirus Pandemic – what happened to Bill? Part 3


3 19 2020 7:30 pm

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalms 19:1     Sunset, Jacksonville Beach, March 19, 2020.

Bill’s eyes well up with tears whenever he thinks about these past four months (January 1 – April). He said last night, “I know I’ve said it already, but again, I don’t know what I would have done had it not been for you these past four months.” Bill is not an emotional guy. In fact, he fights his emotions like his dad did. And it has not served him well. He knows his dad ended up with health problems because he bottled them up inside. But he’s working on it. “We are all works in progress!” Continue Reading

Traveling/Healthcare during the Coronavirus, Part 2 of 3


Continuing with our sad trifecta during these uncertain times, click here  if you missed it.

Health Travel

Our travels 3/19/2020 to 3/31/2020, from our home town, Myrtle Beach, SC (MB) to the Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL, back to MB; then to my mom’s former home, Newport News, VA

I thought I had the Google Map tracking feature on my iPhone but it must have fell off during an update. This map only shows the “ideal” routes we traveled – not what we actually traveled which were longer distances and much longer times. But for the purpose of this blog post, I’ll just show the 1,101 miles or 17 hours 4 minutes we traveled most recently, more or less. First some background about my husband’s and my mom’s health decline that lead to these long miles during a less than ideal time to travel.

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Surgery, Hospitals, Traveling and Death During the Coronavirus (Part 1 of 3)


I’m sure every blogger has a story to share. So I might as well share our trifecta. I hope and pray we could help someone else and I want to never forget this journey.

Did you know Funeral Homes are non-essential??? At least in Virginia so I am sure they are elsewhere as all the states seem to be following the same guidelines. Continue Reading

Clara needs prayers!


In trying to reach as many people as possible with a mission to PRAY and FAST, I am reblogging this from my personal blog. Please help as you can!

Real life....

Nothing tugs at our heart strings more than a child in need! One of my nieces, Rachel, has been a good friend to Clara’s mom, Lori since 2007. They met in Mexico while serving as teachers after college. Eventually, both accepted teaching positions in Colorado Springs. And then both went on to have three children each. Eventually, as is common in our culture, both of their families moved apart but they are “virtually” connected!

Clara turns 11 on March 26, 2020. Rachel’s mom, my dear sister-in-law Linda, has been kept up to date on Clara’s life since meeting her a few years ago. Linda has a memory of seeing Clara, her little sister Ana Cecilia and Linda’s grand daughter, Hadassah, running and playing on their farm. No one suspected an unknown and undiagnosable disease was lurking in both Clara and Ana Cecilia.

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The Wilderness


A bit off topic, or maybe not!!! This may tell a bit of a tale about where Bill and I are these days. Hopefully, we will be able to share more information about our Wilderness…..

Real life....

I’ve missed blogging, both on this blog and on our Travel Adventure site. I usually say these posts are more for me – as a diary of where my life was going, where it went and where it needs to be (this site is more for where it needs to be). As I am aging, I see more and more the need to have these events documented somehow. I am so sad I never blogged about all of our motorcycle adventures (many were pre-blog days) nor do I have a good journal of our early years in Florida (2004-2011). I started a few journal entries to keep our daughter informed of those times – but until I actually began blogging, those memories are now about lost except on some digital and paper photos “somewhere.” 

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It’s been three years!!!


I missed posting on December 15 – Bill’s anniversary. We both have been blessed by the “radical” lifestyle change he had to make. We want to be able to really enjoy our grandsons. We’ve discovered good health and fitness really help! 😏

Real life....

On December 15, 2016, Bill thought he was about to die. Not everyone gets a second chance at life – but many do. If you had a second chance, what would you do to make a difference in your life?

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A Tribute to My Mother-in-Law


My blogging has slowed down since we’ve settled down. But I still have so much I want to share – and this one has taken me a few months to finalize! My mother-in-law was such a huge blessing to her family. She was so humble, she never would have wanted us to share her life story. But it is an important one and for the sake of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, her story needs to be told and re-told!

Update – Life After Full Time RVing


Bike riding with our grandsons in our district. Our oldest grandson likes to strike a crazy pose to show his “crazy” side. He gets that from his dad! Our youngest learned how to ride without training wheels this summer!

I can’t believe I never finished our last series (click here) about our first automobile road trip after we stopped RVing. For some reason, it’s harder to blog now that we live back in a sticks and bricks home….I have a draft blog started on the end of that road trip which stopped with us traveling through Indiana. I just have to select the pictures and finalize it. And as usual, I have an abundance of photos. Hopefully, I’ll finish it one day as it includes a stop with a tour of the State Capitol. In the meantime I am compelled to write an update.  Continue Reading

We’re on the road-Indiana (Part 3)


We were able to visit the Governor’s Executive Office! Each Governor gets to select what pictures he wants displayed. She explained to us about two but not who the man was in the middle. Or else we forgot!

Our first stop after a family weekend in Mount Vernon, Illinois, Bill’s mother’s birthday celebration, was to visit Indianapolis. We stopped at the Capitol Building for a tour and then headed south to Bloomington to do some hiking. We really enjoy history and where else can you get a great history lesson? This was our 5th such Capitol tour: Frankfurt, Kentucky; Montgomery, Alabama; Madison, Wisconsin; and, Harrisburg, PA. While our tour guide was good and we were able to go into the Governor’s private office, he was away, this one ranks 5th as far as “wow” factors. But it was still a very good visit and we would recommend it.

Our two top tours tie for #1, Madison and Harrisburg showcased history and the majesty of the physical buildings. We would put Frankfurt next followed by Montgomery. All were enjoyable and we are grateful we saw each. Indianopolis was lacking in the amount of history we cherish and the building wasn’t showcased like the others. But there were many things that set it apart from the others. It was pretty cool they were in session – first time we’ve seen it.

Indiana is one of 8 states that have all three branches of government working in the historic capitol building. All seven Executive officers, 100 members of the House and Senate and five Supreme Court Justices have working offices in the building.

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We’re on the Road-Smoky Mountain National Park! (Part 2)


From our home in Myrtle Beach, to Gatlinburg, Tennessee; to Mount Vernon, Illinois; to Indianapolis, Indiana; to Bloomington, Indiana; to Newport, Tennessee; back to our home. 30 hours of driving time and 1.848 miles.

We’re on a two week road trip, which we didn’t spell out in our last blog post (click here if you missed it). We’ve been working hard on our new home (closed on it on 2/1/2019 in Myrtle Beach), getting it ready for our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons to spend their Easter Break with us. We needed a bit of a vacation break, but more importantly, we needed to spend time with Bill’s mom – to celebrate her 98th birthday and to be supportive of Bill’s brother and his wife. They have been her caregivers for the past five years. We are trying to cram as much as we can into two weeks while driving from Myrtle Beach through the Smoky Mountain National Park; to where his mom is in Mount Vernon, Illinois; to visit the State Capitol in Indianapolis, Indiana; to do some hiking near Bloomington, Indiana and then to spend one night in Newport, Tennessee to finish our drive back home.

We left you with a cliff hanger last blog post, so without further delay, let’s see how our third hike in the SMNP turned out!  Continue Reading

We’re on the road-Smoky Mountain National Park! (Part 1)


Newfound Gap Overlook and trailhead to Charlie’s Bunion. It was a bit chilly up here!

Wow, so much has happened since our last blog post. We are still getting settled into our new home – as well as changing our domicile to South Carolina. I really want to write a post on what one has to do to become a resident of this great state – it’s not as easy as it was to become residents of Florida. I don’t want to forget and who knows, maybe one day some family members or friends will want to move here. It would be great to have the steps written down for them. But onto more exciting things!

When we got off the road, we knew we weren’t through traveling. Just like when we first bought our 5th Wheel on September 4, 2013, we didn’t know how our travels would work out. And now we can say the same thing about “settling” down – we know there is still so much to see in our great nation and so many things on our bucket list to see.

One such place was Smoky Mountains National Park (SMNP). We first visited the area in 2012. We stayed in a cabin in the Pigeon Forge area with our daughter, son-in-law and grand pup. Sadly, I didn’t write a blog post about the trip but I have pictures posted on my personal FaceBook page.  We did a few of the same hikes, so I wanted to refresh my memory about them – but somehow, those pictures now seem to be lost in the outer spaces of the internet.  Anyway, we knew this was a place we would return one day to do more hiking. We actually tried to get here several times in our motorhome but something always came up to hinder us….

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