With our first “trip” successfully behind us, and our confidence growing, we began planning a real adventure: a 4-week trip east to the Carolinas. This was destined to be a fabulous experience; staying in some wonderful places (and some not so great places!), meeting interesting people, “old” team members and new, and finding many new customers. We wondered why we hadn’t chosen this lifestyle years ago!
Mick:Our first port-of-call was Memphis, where we dropped in on our company Home Office and showed some of our friends there our new “home” — they were impressed, and we thanked them for looking after our customers and team members so well while we’re on the road!
This was our first experience of KOA Kampgrounds, which we have found to be perfect for “one-night-stands” (and longer when it has suited us): always convenient, close to the Interstate, and consistently well kept. Staying one night in an appalling campground in Byhalia, MS, demonstrated vividly the value of the KOA organization!
After a night in Dickson, TN, we arrived in Asheville, NC, and stayed several days at Bear Creek Campground; spacious, wooded and quiet.
This was a great week, exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, Biltmore House and driving south to Brevard … it’s a really attractive area with so much to delight the eye.
Here we spent a day with Sheri (our friend from Dallas), her daughter Trista and her husband Mark, and their super baby Mitchell – a picture of health, vitality and alertness, like most babies whose mothers have eaten a nutritious diet.
We then headed to Greensboro, NC, to work with our team there for a couple of days, then on to Raleigh, NC. Here was another highlight, staying at Falls Lake State Park north of Raleigh; beautiful, quiet, spacious, on a magnificent lake, with our own little beach!Water and electric hookup (no sewage) was no hardship in such a fabulous location. THIS IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO ALL!!
Jenny — April 22nd 1998:In any new business (or way of life) there are 4 stages of learning and expertise through which you go and grow – from initial unconscious incompetent (you don’t know anything!), then conscious incompetent (now you know how little you know!), through conscious competent (you are good, but you need to keep working at it and concentrating hard), finally to unconscious competent (you don’t have to think about it — you’re on auto-pilot). As far as our business is concerned we certainly fit in the last category – the business simply blends into our daily lives. But with RVing we are just beginning to realize that there are definitely still areas of incompetence!
Today, I did it again – driving towards Pinehurst, NC, with the map on the back seat, instead of in front of me, we pulled up to an intersection and I hastily told Mick “Turn right” — only to discover it should have been “Left”! So we’re heading in totally the wrong direction, using a gallon of gas every 7 miles! (Mick: and plenty of frustrated nervous energy too!) In my little Nissan 240SX, making a quick U-turn would have been no problem, but turning this juggernaut with an additional 40′ or so presents a whole new challenge. So, Mick decides to turn right off the main road hoping to drive “round the block”. Oops, now we’re in a residential neighborhood with narrow roads and parked cars. Eventually we’re forced to do a “3 point turn” at a crossroads, and head back the way we came, back on the main road, still heading the wrong way. Finally we find a shopping center at traffic lights and manage to turn this monster around amid the surprised stares of shoppers coming out of Kroger’s. Lesson learned – avoid wrong turns at all cost, know where you are going and stay focused on your destination (Mick: “Yes, and that applies to me too when Jenny’s driving!”)
So our journey continued through the beautiful wooded regions of North Carolina until we drew into Pinehurst RV Park, a very pleasant, quiet, lightly wooded site, with plenty of choices as to where to park. We chose our pull-through spot, no reversing this time, with full hookup. We’ll be set up in no time, just extend the legs, release the hitch — oh no, the handle won’t budge! So here we are once again, our truck stuck to our 5th Wheel; up a bit, down a bit, down some more, finally, 15 minutes later, with brute force the kingpin is released. Phew!
By now it’s 2.30 p.m. and I’m starving, so let’s have a bowl of muesli. Sitting at our picnic table, I suddenly think of the slide-outs. There aren’t any trees nearby, but where are we in relation to the water and electric hookup on the other side? Oops, it’s right by the big slide-out; do we have room to slide it out? Get out the steel rule and measure – we need 34″ and we have 33″! Mick wants to rehitch and move up a foot. I’m convinced we won’t be able to release the hitch again, so we decide to live with the main slide-out slid in for a couple of days. INCOMPETENT! Yes, I’m conscious of that!
That evening we decided to drive into Pinehurst – site of the USA Open. It really would have been a good idea to take the map! We ended up taking every exit off the “traffic circle” (roundabout) except the right one. But what a glorious area! So many country clubs, golf courses, beautiful homes. Finally we arrived in Southern Pines where we ate Fish & Chips in The Squire’s Pub, washed down with Guinness for Mick and a ginger beer shandy for me. A perfect ending to an imperfect day!
Mick:Our next stop was at Table Rock State Park in Greenville, SC. Getting in and finding a site was a challenge: we discovered that “maximum RV length 35′” means total length, not trailer length. As a result we had an argument with a pine tree that jumped out as we were passing and tore up our awning (another lesson for the incompetents!) We took a great hike up Table Rock Mountain and would gladly have stayed longer, but business was calling us to Atlanta, GA.
Lake Lanier Islands, north of Atlanta, was another highlight: a beautiful resort by a fantastic lake with excellent facilities. We had a very successful week there working and playing. Then we started heading back to “Big D”.
Two nights at Elvis Presley Blvd. RV Park in Memphis, TN, and a meeting with a team member we have there, combined well with a visit to Elvis Presley’s restaurant, where the food was fair, but the music excellent.
The weather on this 4,200 mile trip was interesting! We had good weather most of the time, but storms seemed to be chasing us from the time we drove through Tennessee, where a tornado hit Nashville the day after we passed through.
Jenny — May 8th 1998:We’re “home” – back at Hidden Cove Park where we’re greeted like family. Beautiful day, site 19 is available and we’ll move to #22 on Monday. How we’ve improved in setting up since we left! We go for a bike ride and then Mick goes for a run. I cook supper and then we turn on the TV …
What’s this? Severe thunderstorm warnings in Denton County, McKinney, Frisco – that’s where we are! Tornado activity possible? But it’s so quiet here, maybe it’ll pass to the north. Suddenly the wind picks up, the trees are moving like crazy, here comes the rain … no, it’s hail, smashing against the windows. The RV starts rocking from side to side and when Mick says “Put on your shoes”, I really get nervous. “I’m not going outside in this!” I shout above the noise. “We may have to” he replies! Now the power is out so we can’t follow the path of the storm on TV, but we tune in to the radio (battery power to the rescue!) and hear they are still playing baseball just down the road at the Ballpark in Arlington! Guess we are just in the wrong place. We sit in the dark peering through the windows as the lightning lights up the sky and the thunder cracks overhead, watching the Park security guys driving around checking on everything. I wonder what happened to the young couple on #22 with the 3 year-old and 5 month old in their pop-up camper — Elizabeth and Timothy!?
Eventually the storm subsides, and outside we find Emmet and his wife surveying a huge tree limb that snapped off, narrowly missing their RV and car. Then we find a large limb had fallen inches from our main slide-out. Things have quietened down, but not for long. Half an hour later, more hail and high winds – what is this, a hurricane?! We hear that more storms (possibly tornadic) are headed in our direction, but finally I decide there is nothing to be gained by watching and waiting. I might as well go to bed – it’s 11.00 p.m. – and sleep until it’s passed, with clothes on, just in case we have to make a hasty exit.
After a noisy but uneventful night (Mick sleeps fitfully, I sleep well!), morning dawns, the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day. It seems the worst of the storm was just to our north, where mobile homes were overturned, a car was blown off the highway and quite a lot of damage was done. I guess we were “lucky”. Hidden Cove Park has a huge clean-up operation ahead, but we came through unscathed. The family on #22 abandoned their camp for the night … they live just a few miles away. It’s going to be a glorious weekend; Kevin’s on his way from Lubbock, and Sunday is Mother’s Day! (Mick: and I played my first soccer game in weeks, and we won 3-1!)
Next I’ll tell you about our summer, including a wonderful trip to Hawaii (with an RV??…) Read on…