Sunday, August 30, 2009

#16 Goodbye NC

Tomorrow we leave NC and head for Nashville TN. We have had a blast here in the Smokey Mts. The scenery, the weather, the riding, and the people made it a memorable stay. We will return. Our friend, Kenny, was the perfect host. His campground was ideally located for our adventures and had a view to die for.

Before we prepared to leave we made a trip into Cataloochee Valley, which is part of the Smokey Mt Park system. The elk are back! They have been reintroduced into the area and seem to be thriving. These animals are something else to see. We can get within 50' of them from the road at times. I now know what the word magnificent means. Some of the adult males have antlers that must be 5' wide and 3' tall. That was the interesting part of the trip. The wide eyed, grip the arm rest, heart stopping part was the ride there. Imagine, if you will, turns so tight that you can see your own butt going the other way! How about two way roads that are no more than 10' wide, and by the way are dirt and gravel unless you are brilliant enough to go on a drizzly day when they turn to mud! And add to that the locals that seem to think this ideal road(NOT!) is perfectly suited for 30' horse trailers. Oh, and one more thing...we were in our F550 dual rear wheeled truck. You all know, the one that resembles a small semi! At least once I know that one of my rear dual wheels was hanging off the side of the mountain with nothing below for 50-100 feet. Well we survived, but new Fruit-of-the-Looms are in order.

We spent the morning riding the bikes on the Blue Ridge Pkwy and coasting down "Wheeeeeee Hill". That is what we now call Soco Rd from Cherokee to Maggie Valley. Why? Well the road is 7 miles of 9% downgrade that with your clutch disengaged will allow you to go from 40mph to way to fast in no time. While this is happening all I hear in my intercom is Mary gleefully squealing "Wheeeeeeee"! At least I know that she is having as much fun as I am. The rest of the day we spent loading the motorcycles, packing away gear, and generally getting ready for our morning departure. Hopefully we are on the road by 9am, but you know what they say about the best made plans.

Well this is goodbye from NC, a great place to call home for a month, because....

Home is where we park it and next it will be Tennessee,
Frank & Mary

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

#15 Starting To Feel Retired

It's been about a week since you last heard from me, and let me tell you why. After 3 months of retirement we are starting to get into retirement mode. At first it just seems like a long vacation but then you realize that vacations can't go on for ever. Think about what you spend on a week long vacation, now think about all that you do in that week, now try to imagine keeping up that pace and the associated expenses for 52 weeks a year! You will die of exhaustion if the money doesn't give out first. Now we do all the mundane, day-to-day things of everyday life without the headache of going to work 5 days a week.( I know. Me? 5 days a week? HA!) Toss in a hobby and some time to relax to take up some of the 40 hour a week grind and "Voila!" you have RETIREMENT! It gets a little boring but we are loving it.

This week was just that kind of week. We cleaned house, did laundry, finished washing the trailer & truck, talked to the kids, finished some projects, and went through the mail. Mail is different now. Since we are on the road our mail has to find us! Enter mail forwarding companies. These companies will set up an address for you, receive your mail, and hold it until you contact them with an address to send it to. It could be a friend you will be visiting, the next campground, or Post Office General Delivery. With proper planning your mail can be at your next destination before you are!

We now also have time to visit with friends. A 3 hour trip over to Charlotte NC would be difficult to squeeze in to a work week but not now. In fact with no real schedule we made it a 2 day trip. There was time to catch up with some really good friends and relax without having to worry about rushing back. The time went by quickly but we made tentative plans to get together again, whether in Charlotte or somewhere out on the road. Back at home we needed a day or two to wind down(HaHa) and get a few more things done on my project list. Today we were planning on taking the bikes out for an hour or so. 7 hours later we had ridden up to Clingmans Dome, climbed the trail up to the observation tower, climbed the tower, back down the tower & the trail, stopped to take pictures along the Smokey Mountain Hwy, hit the veggie stand and wound up at home! Whew!!! Clingmans Dome is at an elevation of 6643 ft. The trail is .5 miles and seems to go STRAIGHT UP! Hey, I'm a retiree! I'm too old to exert myself like this. I guess I'll just have to take a nap. Oh, that's another thing. I now take naps. Naps are GOOD!

Well it's nap time so I'll say goodbye for now. We will call NC home for one more week because...

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

#14 Reply, Reply, Reply!

Well I guess everyone has heard about my head vs trailer incident. Based on the comments and e-mails I am glad to hear that all are getting a little chuckle out of my pain. To those who say I should be slowing down in retirement, you have got it all wrong. Now is the time that I can go out and grab life by the horns, live life with gusto, not waste one precious day of my life. To those who have hinted that maybe Mary really is the one who gave me the conk on the noggin', knowing Mary, do you think that I would have gotten out of the hospital that quick? If Mary did it to me I probably did something wrong, after all I am the husband and as all husbands know,
"it's always the husband's fault". To all of you who suggested that I should permanently wear a hard hat of some kind...this is not the first knock on the head that I have had. Maybe all those lumps and bumps are what makes me the writer of such a spellbinding Blog!

Ok, lets Blog. Sunday we drove the truck (possible inclement weather) over to Hendersonville to see some friends that we met in our RV circle. That is the great thing about RVing. You meet the best people from all over the country and never feel like you really leave them when you travel. Like one of our RV friends said"RVers live in a neighborhood 3000 miles wide". On Monday we drove the truck to Ashville,home of the Biltmore Estate. A little too pricey for my taste to walk through America's largest home, so we drove into downtown Asheville. Disappointing. A small city with urban blight creeping in. There's always tomorrow. Tomorrow, Tuesday. We saddle up and head out to another stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The morning dew is still on the grass and the road, but the sun is rising and it is turning into a beautiful day. More mountains, twisting roads, and awesome vistas. I know I sound like a broken record, but after 20 plus years in flat Florida the mountains are breathtaking. We ride to the BRP Asheville visitor center, buy t-shirts, watch a movie and sit out a short rain storm. Heading home, the roads are wet so we stop for lunch. Discussing the fact that we have covered 85 miles of the parkway, we realize that when we ride the whole 469 miles plus 105 miles of Skyline Drive into Virginia we will have a real adventure to tell about!

As you may surmise, I am healing and can get my helmet over the added nugget on my head! I hope all are well and enjoying our Blog. Please write and let my know. Until the next time...

From NC for a few more weeks because ...
Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Saturday, August 15, 2009

#13 "Cool" but Fuzzy?

Let's see, how should I start? Well I might as well do this backwards. On Fri I was getting the bikes cleaned up for a ride on Sat w/ some of the other bikers from the campground. While cleaning one of the bikes I stood up abruptly and my head was equally abruptly stopped by the hitch on the trailer. Ow *&$#%#&*!!!!!! I held my hand to my head and, WHOA!!!, lots of blood. Son of a *&$*@*@!!!!! Ice, compression, worry from the wife, and 2 hours later a trip to the ER. A choice, needles & staples or let it stop by itself. Since it had pretty much stopped already I opted for no more holes in my head. See, those people who say motorcycles are dangerous are right, but only if you CLEAN THEM! Saturday morning we skipped the ride only because my helmet wouldn't fit on my fat head with the recent incident's augmentation(aka bump-on-the-noggin).

OK, lets see if I can confuse you'all. That's Southernese for "everyone". I think I'm hangin' out in the hills a little too long.Back to Monday. Did some shopping @ the local veggie stand. Mary is loving the fresh produce and I am loving eating it! Fresh tastes sooooo much better. A little on-line shopping that night. Shopping, a way of life that just follows you where ever you go! Tuesday was a lazy day because it rained all day. Any day can be a lazy day if you don't have things to do. Wednesday we slept 'till noon since the morning brought more rain. After the sun came out we decided to wash the rig. Got halfway done and will finish the rest another day. The road grime isn't going anywhere.

Thursday we got up and wanted to go for a ride. Gatlinburg TN seemed like as good a destination as any. Waynesville to Cherokee on to 441 through the Great Smokie Mountains National Park. 441 follows 2 different rivers over the mountains, down the valleys, up and around curves and twisted roads that only a twisted mind on a motorcycle can appreciate. 30 miles later, Gatlinburg! For those of you from Pinellas County think John's Pass w/mountains. If I didn't mention it before Cherokee is John's Pass w/Indians. Everything has gotten so commercial that the journey has truly become more than the destination! As long as the natural landscape of this country remains, there will always be beauty to be seen from a motorcycle,RV, or car window when we travel. Our trip back was supposed to be a straight shot on I40. Surprise!!! I40 is not your typical 8 lane super slab of highway. It was mostly 2 lanes each way, again up and over and around mountains at a posted speed of 55mph(50mph for trucks). An hour later we pulled into the campground, looked at each other and couldn't bear to ask the other to cook dinner. With sore butts(150 motorcycle miles) we climbed into the truck and treated ourselves to dinner out. Afterwards we walked the dog, called it a night, and fell asleep to dreams of twisting mountain roads. We slept in Friday morning and that's where this Blog began.

Aside from the ER excitement, we are still having a blast and living it up in our home on wheels in NC because....

Home is where we park it,

Frank & Mary

Sunday, August 9, 2009

#12 I Should've Retired Years Ago

Hope everyone is doing fine & enjoying the Blog. I thought an insight to our life style might be interesting. Mary says I am just bragging, so be it. We start each day in the morning, which a lot of you will undertsand is not normal for us. 30 years on the night shift & the concept of morning gets real blurry. Breakfast is now an everyday occurrance(see morning). Walking the dog is a must, it helps keep the trailer livable. Then the important decisions are made, what's for dinner, what do you want to do today, what time do you want to go to bed, etc.? Lately we take the motorcycles out everyday & see another stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is something to see & should not be missed if the opportunity arises.

I did mention the dog, right? You might have noticed the short, hairy, 4 legged peson in the profile picture. That would be Foxy. She is loved family member just like the kids, grandkids, & spouses. I think I am lower than Foxy on Mary's list, but I'm close! Foxy is 14 years old, a mix of Corgi & Chow & whatever, & has the sweetist disposition of any dog I have known. Most people who meet her agree! She travels well and might have a slight perpetual case of narcolepsy. This dog can sleep! The look on her face when we get up in the morning for the morning walk is priceless. A peek, a look over her shoulder, & a look that says "where the heck are we?". She does not like the water but is intrigued by it. My concern is that she will get too close & fall in & then the wet dog smell. Yuck!!!! We love her, but know that at the age of 14 her time is probably short. We will miss her but like "empty nest syndrome" life changes & a whole new set of opportunities will open up.

Today the dog has been walked, breakfast has been eaten, steak is for dinner, & we will be doing some laundry(still wearing clothes) & the rest of the day doing NOTHING!

Since we haven't moved, we are living the life in NC because....
Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Just a short note. Some of you have asked about commenting on the Blog so I have enabled the comment section. I look foward to your comments, it lets me know if anyone is enjoying my Blog. Please keep it clean so I don't have to shut it down!

Thanks from NC...still ,because....

Home is where we park it,

Frank &Mary

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

#10 Retirement, Aahhhh

Well here we are in Waynesville NC. The plan is to be here a month & I don't see that being a problem. Our rig is parked in a site that backs right up to Jonathan Creek. Lounge chairs, camp fire, babbling creek, a drink in my hand...that's the life.

First I have to take care of some business. Apparently someone felt neglected when I said that we spent time w/ family on the east coast of FL because she wasn't mentioned by name. Yes we were visiting uncles, but I forgot to mention that my daughter,Jessica, also was there. She also brought Jim(friend/family). I hope this makes up for any slight that my have occurred.

Now back to our adventures. When we set up in NC Mary found a stowaway. While she was in the shower she was accosted by a Florida lizard. I guess the lizard wanted to go on vacation. After 5 days of lizard terror(sounds like Godzilla) the hitchhiker was banished from our home. Apparently Mary is going to have her own version of "Wild Kingdom". One day while riding our bikes around the mountains she captures the elusive NC Yellow Jacket, IN HER MOTORCYCLE JACKET!!!! After being stung twice & screaming obscenities over her microphone, she stopped,killed the bee, and swore vengeance on all flying /stinging creatures on Earth.

On another tangent, we have 4 grand kids, all living in FL. As dutiful Grandparents we spoil them in any way possible. Now we have to spoil them from afar, which means buying & shipping gifts from wherever we are. Needing to send a package we prepared for our trip to the Post Office. Gifts, packing, tape, name tags, etc. We arrive @ the PO... name tags on gifts, gifts & packing in box, box sealed & taped uhhh...Mary's address book is @ home. Ooops! Mary waits, Frank runs back to the trailer for the address. 57 total years in the Post Office & we don't remember that you need an address to ship a package. We're retired, we don't have to remember anything!

Well I am going to sign off for now, but I will return. I don't remember everything that has happened(see above) but when I do I will add it to the Blog.

From our home in Waynesville NC because,

Home is where we park it,

Frank & Mary