High Falls State Park – Jackson, GA

October 6th, 2022

One look at High Falls State Park. Gorgeous park!

High Falls State Park in Jackson, GA is wrapped across a highway, so you do have to navigate your way into nature, but it’s 100% worth it!

We are staying at a KOA Journey in Forsyth, GA for a few days on our way down to Florida and High Falls is just a few miles north of our base camp.

We peeked at the High Falls campground and it reminded of why we should be checking out state campgrounds more often. High Falls has significantly more space between the sites than at our KOA. (I could touch the next coach from the bottom of our stairs today – luckily they were only there for an overnight.)

Reba will have a review of the Forsyth KOA’s dog park (dog dirt) later.

On the lakeside campground side we walked near the dam first. It was a small area but gorgeous.

Tim and Reba

We walked across the highway to the Falls Trail, which was a bit tricky to navigate with a frisky pup, but I got some beautiful memories and videos!

20 seconds of peace

Reba and I left Tim near the top of the falls trail and we made it trough the first loop together. I found out later that the climb back up was equivalent of 13 flights of stairs. Even Reba was a bit winded when we made it back!

We then headed over to the “Tranquility Trail” which was marked easy, and it was 2 miles of a pretty standard trail, but getting in and out on part of the Historic Trail was a bit more challenging. In total we did about 4 miles yesterday.

Reba was pooped, but nobody fell down so that’s a good thing!

Timmy took a picture!!

Elk, dog and rock – oh my!

October 3, 2022

This guy features a little later in the post.

We are back in Kodak, Tennessee for a few days. We had such a great time when we were here this summer that we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see more of the Smoky Mountains on our way south for fall and winter.

We stayed at Dumplin Valley RV Park again. The owner is very nice and his farm is beautiful. We got a different site this time. It’s “Tennessee level,” he told us. Glad to have the extra blocks for the stabilizers!

Timmy built a nice fire at Dumplin Valley

We searched out a dog friendly trail for our adventure yesterday. Interestingly, of the 800 miles of hiking trails in the Smokey Mountains only two trails are dog friendly. We ended up at the Oconaluftee River trail that is an easy 1.6 miles from the visitor center to Cherokee, NC.

The sign says it’s 1.5 miles but it’s really 1.6. Timmy almost quit!

This trail and visitor center is known for being a place where you can come across groups of Elk and we were lucky to see many of them.

On the way out, we saw this beautiful bull and several of his gang. Yes, a herd of elk is also called a gang. You will find out why at the end of this post. 🙂

Reba dipped into the river several times.

Reba loves to fetch sticks in the river.

We hiked nearly into Cherokee when Timmy decided he could go no further. I cajoled and convinced and probably shamed him into going the next tenth of a mile into the adorable little town.

Right at the end of the trail is a beautiful bridge that delivered Timmy right to a little shop with a front porch and his favorite Boylan Creme Soda. He and Reba chilled on the porch while I checked out the adorable shops. I picked up some corn meal that was ground with an old grist mill right inside the shop.

The little village is right across this bridge.
little shops everywhere

We headed off on the 1.6 mile hike back. Reba enjoyed a few steps into the river several times and as we got close to the visitors center I heard a bull elk bugle.

As we got closer we saw not one, but two huge bull elk and their gang. One of the bulls hollered and hollered and then crashed across the trail and forest to cross the river.

If you look really closely you can see the elk crossing the river.

Of course I grabbed for my phone to get a picture or video, juggled Reba’s leash, turned to get a shot aaannnnddd tripped over a rock, landing flat on my face. Good thing elk are not blood thirsty beasts because my nose and lip were gushing.

Dazed, I sat up, reminded Tim to grab the dog since there were BULL ELK nearby and once I regained my senses, I was able to make my way to the visitors center where a kind ranger got me some antiseptic wipes, gauze, a cold pack so I could make my way to a pharmacy.

After the shock of the bloody face wore off, I realized that I did slightly break my fall with my right wrist and knees. I’m pretty bruised and swollen all over, but I’ll heal –

not my best look

And I DID get that short video of the bull elk crossing the river. You are welcome!

Berea, Kentucky

September 29th, 2022

As we were traveling down I-75 to our campsite at Renfro Valley KOA, we passed a sign that pointed us to Berea, an artist community. Of course that was our destination during our first full day in the area.

We were attracted by the arts community and we were just as impressed by Berea College.

Berea College was the first integrated and coeducational college in the south and incredibly has not charged students tuition since 1892. Every student at Berea College works 10-15 hours a week to help pay for room and board and other essentials.

The students at Berea come primarily from households with less than $30,000 annual income and the college is proud to offer a quality education for these students to get their undergraduate degree with no student debt.

How does Berea College do this? They have a 1.6 Billion dollar endowment that funds about 74% of their operating budget and student education. Another 17% of their budget comes from federal and state funding. 9% comes from donations through their Berea Fund.

Berea College is a gorgeous, walkable college that features restaurants and shops where you can purchase student and resident art.

I saw these beautiful brooms in many of the stores.

In addition to walking around the campus, we stopped in the artisan village area as well.

You can stay at the in the historic Boon Tavern Hotel that has been hosting guests since 1909.

Sorry, picture is from the brochure. We didn’t get inside the hotel.

Make sure to stop in the Log House Craft Gallery. It is the largest continuously run craft shop in the state. They have gorgeous work made by artists throughout Appalachia. If we didn’t have such limited space, I would have bought so many things. I did buy a pair of handmade woolen socks that will come in handy on cool camping nights!

Another brochure picture. I was so engrossed in the art that I didn’t snap pics in the store!

Reba’s Reviews – Least dog friendly – Indianapolis

September 28th, 2022

One dog friendly spot I found. At Daddy’s feet.

Just sitting here in the shade with my daddy.

Thanks goodness our wonderful Indianapolis KOA has a nice dog park, because everywhere else Mom and Dad have tried to take me was a bust.

They tried dog park after dog park and every single one they could find was a membership based park. I get it, it costs cash to keep these places up, but there was no option for a day pass! The fees were from $50 – $75 for the year, you had to go to a separate place to show your vaccine records and get a code or fob.

Then mom saw a cute little restaurant on a lake with a patio. Of course a restaurant with a patio on a lake would allow leashed dogs to sit with their family and have a snack, right? You would be wrong. No dogs on the patio.

Maybe we missed something here, but mom really tried to find some dog friendly spaces for us.

I guess we will spend the day here at the KOA. It’s nice – and they are dog friendly, but we really wanted to EXPLORE!!!

If you are familiar with Indi area and there is something we missed, let me know!!


Apple Picking – Kuiper’s Family Fun

September 23rd, 2022

I got the urge to go apple picking while we were in Illinois and Katie kindle joined me on my little adventure.

We chose Kuiper’s Family Farms and had a gorgeous day to spend some time outdoors.

Kuiper’s is a well run organization. Although it was not busy when we were there, you can see that they do have large crowds and they have the structure set up to keep people moving through all the attractions.

They are known for their apple cider donuts. Katie and I bought two to enjoy while we were walking around and I ended up buying more later to take home!

If you are hoping for a real, old-time apple picking EXPERIENCE, this might not be the place for you. They are VERY organized. Although the trees were jam packed with apples, they only had two or three varieties open for picking and each person was only allowed to pick a small bag of apples. You can BUY bags of apples in their farm store, so we got plenty, but I was bummed that we didn’t actually get to pick very many of them. I will be looking for more casual apple (maybe other fruit) farms as we head south.

This was a row that had already been picked clean.

The farm is huge and they have attractions on both sides of the road. Apples and the farm store are on one side and the other side (which was not open yet when we were there) is pumpkins and halloween themed activities.

Made apple fritter quick bread. Delicious!
Beet – apple – onion bake. Yummy.

Fun place for a family gathering or just to spend a beautiful fall day outside in nature.

Batavia Farmers Market

September 24, 2002

I should have taken more pictures.

Katie and I took the pups to the Batavia Farmers Market on Saturday morning. It is a small, but well run market filled with local farmers, food makers and crafters.

We stopped by the booth that sells home made dog treats of course and picked up a bag of Hooch’s Honey Bits dog treats. They are Reba’s all time favorite treat.

Reba’s favorite!

We got fresh ground burgers, beautiful beets and other colorful veggies and of course got a fabulous cup of coffee.

I made a yummy beet, apple and onion dish later in the afternoon. Check out the recipe in Joy of Cooking.

But the favorite part was sitting on a patio with a fresh bloody Mary, listening to a great singer and just chilling with the dogs.

How to keep two active dogs focused at a farmers market? Hot dogs in a bag!
Reba and Puff made themselves comfortable.

If you find yourself in Batavia, IL on a nice Saturday morning, stop by!

Morton Arboretum

September 21, 2022

Artist Daniel Popper’s UMI sculpture

If you have not been to the Morton Arboretum outside of Chicago, put it on your list. My now official in-law Deb Amann invited me to join her on a walk and driving tour through this magnificent property yesterday.

The arboretum was opened in 1922 by Joy Morton, who founded the Morton Salt company. It sits about 25 miles outside of the city of Chicago and feels like it is a million miles away from the noise, rush and grit of the urban mess.

Since I’m still recuperating from COVID we walked some and drove some of the peaceful grounds.

One highlight is the exhibition of South African artist, Daniel Popper’s, massive sculptures that look like God pulled trees from the ground and twisted and shaped them into representations of Mother Nature.

I’ll write some more about the Arboretum and the things we saw in future posts, but here are a few glimpses of the lovely women who greeted us along the way.

Thank you, Deb, for getting me off the COVID couch (I’ve been negative for many days, just still feeling icky) and getting me out into our beautiful world!

Reba’s Reviews – Big Rock Dog Park

September 19, 2022

Room to run and climb and chase

Big Rock is a tiny town just west of Aurora, Illinois. It’s small, but it delivers! Big Rock is not only home to the Kane County RV Park we stay in when in the area, but they have a huge, beautiful park that includes space for dogs to run!

Reba met Gunner, a black lab-like pup at the dog park yesterday and they had a blast chasing the ball and each other. Reba even climbed the doggy play gym.

Room to run and a little shade to enjoy!

We will be back every day this week. Hope to catch up with Gunner again!

Covid camping – ugh.

September 19th, 2022

Thank goodness for French Onion Soup from Emily and Alex and for Katie for helping nurse me back to health!

I’m usually a pretty healthy person. But since we started our RV life I have gotten pretty sick twice. And I have to tell you, quarantining in 375 square feet isn’t the most fun I’ve had.

The first time was in Florida in Spring. I came down with strep, had 103.8 degree fever and spent 3-4 days pretty much sleeping. The good news that time was that once I was on antibiotics for a day, I could get out among people.

This time I was not so lucky. Tim and I are both double vaccinated and boosted, but early last week, I got the chills, then a fever. I thought – maybe strep again, but just in case, got tested for COVID. Yep. It got me. Again, two fun days in bed, followed by several days of some icky side effects from the Paxlovid they gave me.

I’m officially past the quarantine period now thank goodness. I have limited energy, but am working that up a little more each day.

I’m thankful for my little side-kick, Reba. She’s been keeping me company! (Tim got much less sick that I did and he’s out fishing with some friends this week.)

Rainy Day fall cleaning hack

September 11, 2022

The wedding is over and all the little projects that come along with a backyard wedding are completed. So we spent this rainy day doing some fall organizing in our home on wheels.

When we packed everything into our Alliance 310 six months ago, I hung all of our clothes with the hangers backwards so that we could easily see what we were wearing and what we never got out of the closet. Not surprisingly, we wore only about half the clothes and shoes we brought.

Some of that is because we brought a some cold weather clothes and have worked pretty hard to stay where it was warm, but many of the unworn clothes were simply bypassed for favorites that we wore nearly every week.

We pulled everything out on the bed

Not sure where I thought I’d wear ten dresses or heels or eight pairs of jeans. Tim is getting rid of several sport coats, some sweatshirts and shoes he has not worn.

While I LOVE the fancy (and heavy) robe I brought with us, I rarely wear it and one of my girls can enjoy it while we continue our trip.

I kept the black hiking boots and the fancier heeled ones are out the door.

piles for Goodwill, trash and for our daughters to look through

When we packed up, I was sure I’d need all the bath towels. Now I know 4 will do it. We will be replacing our ten heavy towels with 4 fast dry towels in the next few days.

I went through the ridiculously deep cabinet in our bathroom and found that I do not need to buy lotion or hairspray or toothpaste or Q-tips for many, many months. I have plenty.

I can now see the back of my closet and can reach everything! Tim estimates that we are taking a couple hundred pounds of weight out of the rig.

I put all the hangers back in backwards and we will do this again in a few months and see how much more we can live without!