Drop what you are doing

June 22nd, 2022

Begonias or impatiens? Big decision of the day.

One of the most amazing parts about being retired and having a home that is on wheels is that when your family calls you can simply drop what you are doing and head over to help.

A couple of weeks ago we were in the Smoky Mountains with plans to head to Lexington then up through Illinois with stops in the SIU-Carbondale area, then up through Lincoln Illinois and on to Caledonia where we would stay for an event in Milwaukee on the 17th of June.

Our oldest daughter is getting married at the beginning of September and she called in the parents to help with planning and getting their backyard ready for the wedding. She didn’t have to ask me twice! Cancel a few reservations and find a couple of one night stays on our way to Aurora, Illinois and mom and dad to the rescue!

We weeded and we mulched and trimmed and we planted and planted and planted. Did I mention that Emily is GROWING most of her own wedding flowers?

Puff and Reba “helped” by wrestling and mowing down some hostas.

Just when we thought we could not move one more muscle, we jumped in their pool to cool off with a cocktail!

Timmy checking out the pool temp.

Emily and I had time to go shopping for my MOTB dress and she found her dresses for her bachelorette party and her rehearsal dinner AND we were able to purchase a dress for her sister who is in the UK right now!

We shopped for the thrift/garage sale chairs and couches and rugs that will be in vignettes around her yard for the reception.

We found a hair and makeup stylist, bought a Cricut, which Emily used to make signs for the reception. We refined the booze list and on a quick dinner out found the location for their A-Party. If you know what that is you are younger than I am. (It’s the after party where the young folks go when we go to bed.) 🙂

We were the lucky recipients of some fabulous meals from our soon to be son in law who has a new outdoor pizza oven and mad cooking skills. The salads were just minutes from their incredible garden.

Mmmmm…..pizza!

Living this life gives me gifts every day.

But the very best is the gift of flexibility and time.

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It’s been a little bit..

June 15th, 2022

Alex grabbing ingredients for dinner.

One of the very best parts of living in an RV and traveling the US is that when someone you love needs you, you can just hitch up and GO!

Our daughter Emily is marrying her fiancé Alex this fall and the wedding will be in the backyard of their beautiful new-to-them home in Illinois.

We were headed to Milwaukee for an event this weekend already, but Emily called about ten days ago to ask if we could change our plans and come to her house instead and help get the yard ready and help her with some other wedding plans.

We have weeded and mulched and planted and shopped and spent wonderful days with Emily and Alex and we are so very fortunate to be able to be here for another week before we head out again.

Alex is a very accomplished cook and has rewarded our work with some amazing meals. Many of the ingredients come directly from their garden that is already producing lettuces, cucumbers and some squash.

This is just part of the greens section!

And of course Reba has had the chance to catch up with her best pal Puff, although she was a bit dismayed that he has grown to more than twice her size in the past three months!

When they last met, they were the same size!

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Kentucky Horse Park – Lexington

June 8th, 2022

This was our second horse themed stop on our journey. I hope we can find more as we travel the US. If you know of others we should try, please leave a comment.

This beauty was in the draught horse barn.

Kentucky Horse Park is run by the state of Kentucky. It is an 1100 acre property filled with beautiful green pastures and over 50 miles of beautifully maintained fencing to keep the horses safe.

Beautiful property – Kentucky Horse Park

The campground we stayed at (separate post) was attached to the park, so it was the first stop we made in Lexington. Unfortunately the Kentucky Horse Park venue is closed Monday and Tuesday. So we had to wait until Wednesday to visit.

We only had that one day to visit and we had already booked a hard-to-get ticket to the Woodford Reserve tour that morning, so we went in about noon. If you get the chance to visit, I’d recommend getting there earlier as we missed most of the shows that day.

We were able to walk the grounds and see the beautiful horses in their stables. They have one building filled with dozens of different breeds of horses.

KHP is a dog friendly park, so Reba was able to roam the grounds and sniff the dogtastic smells in the barns. She even got to meet a couple of police horses!

AND I got to ride! OK, it was a pretty tame trail ride with 15 of my new best friends but I’ll take what I can get. At some point on this journey, I’ll take some private lessons so I can really enjoy some rides. My horse for the 30 minute tour around the grounds had his nose firmly planted into the behind of the pokey pony in front of us.

Trail Ride – Me in the red shirt – Apollo’s head firmly planted. LOL

I did a quick trip through the horse museum as the buildings were not dog approved. If you have time, spend an hour or two in there – it’s pretty cool!

Next up – a review of our trip to Woodford Reserve Distillery! If you would like to receive a notification when a new post is published, please enter your email below!

Dollywood for the kid in you

June 3, 2022

One of the many shows to enjoy at Dollywood

We loved our visit to the Smoky Mountains and I’m so glad that we chose to spend a day at Dollywood.

Tim and I are both well past our roller coaster years so we wondered if Dollywood would be worth the price of tickets if we didn’t do the rides.

Tickets are about 20-30% less than a day at a Disney park. Tim got a discount because he’s an old guy. We got tickets for the day for just over $150 for both of us. Parking put us back $25.

We went on a day that was a little overcast and that probably helped keep the crowds down. We had little trouble parking and did not have to wait in a line anywhere in the park. Even those who were riding the coasters had very short waiting times.

We walked into the park grounds and got right into our first show, the Kingdom Heirs. This southern gospel group has performed at Dollywood since 1977 when the park was known as Silver Dollar City.

The 35 minute show was a great way to start our day! Because this show was inside, I didn’t shoot a video, but you can hear some of their music here.

https://youtube.com/channel/UC_u5NxElJqGafiy7O1jxnXg

Kingdom Heirs show was a great way to start our day at Dollywood.

After the Kingdom Heirs show we started a stroll through Dolly’s beautiful park.

Dollywood was filled with color and colorful people!

Tim loves trains, so we were sure to ride the Dollywood Express. This train is pulled by a 110 ton coal fired steam engine. In 20 minutes you enjoy a five mile trip through the park and the surrounding mountain area.

And then there was the Dollywood FOOD! We had lunch at Aunt Granny’s which is an all you can eat home style restaurant. Our waitress was adorable and kept checking back to see if we needed more of anything. We tried, but we could not even eat everything she brought to the table when we arrived! Fried chicken and fried catfish (yes the diet was on pause this day) cornbread pudding, southern green beans, carrots, biscuits, greens, mac and cheese and sweet tea!

Highly recommend eating at Aunt Granny’s. Come HUNGRY!

There were country music shows around nearly every corner. Each one was outstanding.

This show was filled with hits from the 80s and 90s
We came across this fabulous group just playing on the porch of the chapel! Sound on!

Of course there are the obligatory character pictures. Who cares if I’m 60 and not six?

We got to see Dolly’s RV too! She had a 45 foot Class A, and boy is it class-A!

And – on your way out, you walk through the Dollywood shop of course! I texted our daughters jokingly to ask if they wanted a Dolly hat or T Shirt as we got on the tram to our truck, but they were not joking – I had to beg my way back into the park so I could drop $100 on shirts and a Jolene hat!

Whether you are 6, 16 or 60+ or anywhere in between, I recommend a trip to Dollywood!

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Afternoon by the river

June 2, 2022

The backyard of “It’s Not the Coffee” in Townsend.

Wish this peaceful little river was in your backyard?

It could be if you stop by “It’s Not the Coffee” in Townsend, Tennessee. Townsend is a fun little town just southwest of the bustle of Pigeon Forge.

Townsend’s beautiful river-walk, while right along highway 321, features convenient parking areas, picnic tables and barely hidden paths that lead you through the trees to areas you can wade in Little River. The crisp bite of the water and the rustle of the leaves mask all the road noise and you are transported. Until your dog jumps over you and splashes and the river meets your entire wardrobe.

Reba checking out the Riverwalk

Reba and I made a few treks into the river along our walk and as we got to about the two mile mark, we came across this sign and decided to grab a drink before we headed back.

It’s Not the Coffee – Townsend, Tennessee

Wait! What is that? Riverside tables?

http://itsnotthecoffee.com/

It’s not just riverside tables either. They rent out their ENTIRE riverside backyard to you! For $15 Tim and Reba and I could spend a half a day pretending we had a riverside cottage. The owner, Sabrina, told us to just grab a chair and drag it into the river and enjoy. She didn’t have to ask me (or Reba) twice!

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Glimpse of Heaven – Clingmans Dome

June 2, 2022

What I imagine heaven could look like…

“Tim, it’s only a half mile hike, it will be easy!” I was negotiating the trip to Clingmans Dome on Thursday. I later learned that that very short hike, while paved, was STEEP! In a half mile, you climb 330 feet of elevation.

The photo above is incredible, but just wait, this is only the view from the parking lot. LOL!

Clingmans Dome is 6643 feet above sea level from the viewing platform and is along the Appalachian Trail. Tim will proudly tell you he “did” the Appalachian Trail now – well he “did” maybe 10-15 yards of it.

He did meet a grandpa/grandson duo who were spending 7 weeks on the trail. They were three weeks in when we came across their path.

Tim on the Appalachian Trail.
A Clemson professor teaches environmental students during a field trip.

Clingmans Dome is named for Thomas Lanier Clingman who was an attorney, US Representative and a Senator and scientific explorer. I’m going to claim him as a long lost relative. Did you know my middle name is Lanier? I’m named after a distant relative, poet Sidney Lanier. I actually have no idea if there is a relation – but I’m going to go with it!

My journalism training tells me that there should be an apostrophe before the s, since Clingmans Dome was named after a guy named Clingman, but an article on http://www.hikertohiker.net schooled me. Apparently the US Board on Geographic Names decided not to use apostrophes.

We made it to the top, with the help of benches along the path designed for breath catching and breath taking breaks.

Proof that we made it – watch all the way for Timmy’s grand entrance!

The Great Smoky Mountains Association put out a beautiful brochure in cooperation with the National Park Service. It’s filled with tons of information on how the mountains were created. You can read all about a continental plate collision here:

https://www.smokiesinformation.org/

The gorgeous view is filled with Fraser fir, red spruce, American mountain-ash and pin cherry. You will also be delighted with patches of St. john’s wort, bluets, coneflower, bee balm and dozens of other wild flowers.

A scrooge-bug known as the European adelgid has taken out many of the Fraser firs. The National Park Service works to control them, but it’s a difficult battle.

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Smoky Dog Lodge

June 2, 2022

Smoky Dog Lodge Sevierville

Mom and Dad dropped me off at Smoky Dog Lodge today. I was kinda ticked that they were not going to take me to Clingman’s Dome. They said they were going to hike up to the peak, which is 6644 feet above sea level.

Apparently “the man” that runs the park says four legged nature lovers are not allowed on the path to the dome. I think that’s dumb. If they let kids and old farts do it, why can’t we?

To make me feel better about being left out of their adventure today, mom booked me a space at Smoky Dog Lodge. She made sure that there were going to be plenty of dog pals for me to run and play with.

Even though I was less than happy about going at first, I had a great time running and chasing all the pups. I liked it so much that I asked her to bring me back here when they go to Dollywood tomorrow. Can you believe it, Dolly says I can’t come to her theme park either! Maybe she doesn’t know that I’m named after another famous country singer. I’ll bet if Reba gets her own theme park, she’d let me come.

Mom says I got good and worn out today – she snapped this picture while I was taking a short snooze before dinner.

All tuckered out

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Honey and the Beast

May 31st, 2022

We live this adventure in our Alliance Paradigm 310. “Honey” is 34’11” long and 13’ 4” tall including her three air conditioners.

We pull her with Tim’s new F 350 diesel short-bed, “the Beast.”

Honey and the Beast in the Smokey Mountains

Honey has a king-sized bed and a closet along the entire front wall which is in the section just over the truck bed. She has a built in dresser and little settee. The bed raises up to open up some much needed storage. We keep our cooler weather clothes and extra blankets under there.

She has a very nice sized bathroom and shower then steps down into the living area and kitchen.

We have a full sized RV refrigerator, a nice sized pantry, microwave and island with a full sized sink.

The living area features a pull out couch and two comfy recliners that face a huge TV. Just under the TV is an electric fireplace that we used when we were in Indiana in March. It kept us nice and warm.

Why is the RV named Honey? I was having a hard time thinking of a name for her and realized that might be because while we always named our cars in the past, we never actually named our home, they were just “home.” Then I thought, “Honey, I’m home!” and she was named!

I’ll post more pictures of the inside later this week. In the meantime, here are some more pictures of our dynamic duo!

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OMG the ribs – and the beans – and the….

May 31, 2022 – Pigeon Forge

http://bestbbqintown.com/

Check out Tim’s plate in the back – almost gone! 🙂

Tim knows I have never been a fan of beef ribs. It’s baby back ribs or no ribs at all for me. So I was surprised when he came out with a “small” plate of ribs for me and there they were – beef ribs.

Reba and I were waiting out on the pup-friendly porch and Boss Hog’s BBQ Shack. We chose it from the Bring Fido app, which has become our go to Open Table now that we are traveling the country with our pup.

https://www.bringfido.com/

While we were waiting, a smiling young woman came out to the porch to bring Reba a bowl of water AND a little cup with some shredded meat.

I believe Reba was seriously considering leaving me for her new best friend. The lady with the meat bowl is serious competition!

Tim places the plate of ribs, green beans and baked beans in front of me, I looked up shook my head and tried the massive beef ribs on the plate fully expecting to pass them right over to him. OMG – I’m a convert! These ribs were meaty and tender and DELICIOUS! The two sauces on the table were amazing. And there was so much in this “small” platter that I was only able to eat two of the five ribs and half of the sides he brought out.

No, I didn’t even let him have my leftovers.

The smiling young woman came out to check on us and to see if we wanted biscuits or cornbread. We both shouted out “CORNBREAD” with our mouths full – she chuckled and bought us each out two pieces of warm, sweet, fabulous cornbread.

Then we met the Boss himself. Bobby came by to see how we were doing. We ended up chatting for quite some time and found out he has a new bride and they have just purchased a house in Turkey. He says he will stay here during “season” and spend time in Turkey in the off season with his wonderful wife!

If you get to Pigeon Forge, don’t miss Boss Hogg’s BBQ Shack!

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Gotta do it

May 31st, 2022

Big washers and dryers do make the task faster.

Laundry. Yes, we could have a unit put into our RV. We made the choice not to do that, because it adds some significant weight to the RV, but also because the units that would fit are pretty small, so we would likely be doing laundry every other day.

So, I’ve gone back to my college days and about every 7-10 days we hit the laundry mat! Most parks have their own laundry facilities, so we can throw a load or two in and head back to our space and handle other tasks. But on occasion I have accidentally booked us into a place with no laundry or very limited laundry. So we go hunting for a local laundromat.

Man, has using a laundromat gotten expensive. Normal sized wash and dryer loads are $2.50 each – the big ones you see in the picture were $4.75 per load. Do some sheets and towels and you are spending $20 – $25 or more for laundry for two.

I feel badly for people who use the laundromat because they either can’t afford a machine or they rent in a place that does not have laundry facilities.

And while the laundromats of today are for the most part clean, air conditioned and pleasant, if you have a large family, the simple cost of doing laundry outside your home can be a burden.

We are fortunate – once we wash, fluff and fold, we will be off to a nice lunch and some adventures!

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