Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Chattanooga Fun + Trip North

Hi all - Dianne here.     I walked around the campground on our final day at Chester Frost Park to photograph a few of my favorite things.

 There are some beautiful trees and plantings in the park, and Hamilton County, TN is meticulous in caring for them.

On Tuesday evening, we hosted Beth and Russ for dinner at our camp site. They fed us three nights in a row while we were in Chattanooga, so I still owe them a few meals to make up for their wonderful hospitality!   

On Tuesday, we had an enjoyable evening chatting outside, eating, and even a quick campfire before we said good-bye for now.  

The good thing about full-timing, is that we can visit relatives wherever they might live around the U.S.

 Just know that if you live north of the Mason-Dixon line, our visits would have to be in the spring/summer/fall! No more worries about frozen water lines for us.

Wednesday morning we left Chattanooga and had an uneventful drive north.  We made it all the way to Southern Indiana before we felt the need to stop.  We spent Wednesday night at a charming rural campground called "Little Farm on the River" outside Rising Sun, Indiana.   It is very close to the Ohio River, and also close to a casino, if you are into that sort of thing (we're not). 

We can tell that we're back in Indiana, for our view out the front windshield is a bucolic setting of rolling hills, fields, an old barn, and a new pole barn built right next to it! (As lovely as old barns are, real farmers are a practical lot.)

Tomorrow we make our way to Anderson, Indiana for a few days' stay at Mounds State Park while we drive to our house and do some much-overdue yard work. We will still try to update our blog while we're home, but I know we'll be pretty busy for a while. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chester Frost Park/Chattanooga, TN + Cousins

Dianne here -- we left Lake Lanier and worked our way slightly north for a brief stay at Chester Frost Park outside Chattanooga, TN. What a beautiful county park! Lake Chickamauga, rolling hills, tall pines, beautiful landscaping, and mountains as a backdrop.

This park is clean and well maintained. The folks here in Hamilton County, Tennessee should be very proud of their park. The sites right on the lake (BEAUTIFUL VIEWS) have a 14-day limit.

Other sites can be used for 28 days, then you must vacate for a week before coming back. Chester Frost does not take

reservations, so the procedure is that you check in, go find a site, then check back to make sure no one claimed it in your absence. There are over 200 sites, including RV and tent sites.

There are playgrounds, sandy beaches, areas to swim, lots of water for boating, and the "Icy Man" (what we call slushys in Indiana) makes regular trips through the park.

Roger here... Because we could not make reservations, we were a little concerned about not getting a site. We left Lake Lanier pretty early in the morning so that we could arrive early enough to claim a spot. Unfortunately, we had to wait for over an hour at the Lake Lanier dump station behind a guy who was flushing his black water tank. This is a process that typically takes us 15 minutes and we never do it if someone is waiting behind us - very frustrating. We also had to find a gas station along the local roads that could accommodate our motor home with its attached car. We did (barely enough room). It was kind of a tense morning, but things calmed down as soon as we claimed one of the few remaining spots at the campground.

Dianne again: This park is very popular and the community hosts lots of local events here. There was a triathlon this weekend that brought hundreds of people. When we come back we'll time it so that we arrive mid-week to have a better chance at a lake view site. One thing we discovered upon arriving here, however, is that they insist upon wooden blocks under your hitch and/or jacks. We have always used the waffle-designed plastic ones we purchased at Camping World (designed for this purpose). This is the first campground we have ever visited that doesn't allow them to be used. They enforce this rule, too! Luckily, Russ fixed us up with some wood scraps, so we took our plastic ones out from under our hydraulic jacks and replaced them with pieces of wood. Don't ask my opinion on this rule, but you can probably figure it out.... Just be prepared, should you decide to camp here!

The weather has been gorgeous. We open our windows at night so we can let all the tree frogs and other frogs and critters sing us to sleep.


main purpose for visiting this area is to see Roger's cousin,

Beth, and her family. Roger was very close to his cousins growing up, as I was to mine. Lots

of good times and fun memories. Beth is our age, so they have the added history of going completely through school together, and being in the same high school graduation class, along with Beth's husband, Russ.

(Roger here... Since both Beth's and my last names started with "N" we were always with the same teacher and more often than not, in the days of alphabetical order, sat behind each other in the same row.)

I (Dianne) am the odd-one-out; I went to a different small-town-Indiana high school than they did. I know for a fact, though, that had Beth been in MY class, we would have been good friends from the get-go. Not to mention that they are both VERY fun people, so we have had a great time seeing them this week.

We also got to see their two daughters, Becca and Sarah, as well as Sarah's husband, Jimmy, and their beautiful little girl, Abby.

Sarah and Becca are near in age to our two daughters, Robyn and Amanda, and the four of them played and got along great the few times they were able to be together when they were all little girls.

Southern Tennessee is a beautiful part of the country, especially in the spring. I can't even describe how lovely Beth & Russ's back yard is, and the woodsy, serene views they have from their elevated screened


I think I'll let the photos show you. Beth has a very green thumb

and has beautifully landscaped the large back yard.

Roger here, again... Dianne already described how close I am to Beth, and her brother Dennis in Connecticut, who we also hope to visit. We spent every Sunday together at my grandparents' farm which included an apple orchard, huge barn with a hayloft (and snakes), chickens, sometimes hogs, and sheep. Lots of opportunities for fun times and childhood mischief.

It was fun reliving those times, especially talking about how my younger brother (by six years) was often the brunt of our antics. (I wonder if he remembers?)

What luck for us to be in town for Abby's

second birthday party! What a cutie.

Her grandparents bought her a wooden play house that we scooted into a corner of the garden. Abby had a great time playing in her inflatable swimming pool and blowing soap bubbles. At the end of the party we all helped to tip the pool over creating a river of water cascading down the very inclined back yard. Lots of fun.

On Sunday afternoon Russ and Beth took us on a tour of downtown Chattanooga.

What a neat little city. It just had a good feel to it. We started by going inside the beautiful Presbyterian Church (built in 1871) where they are members. We then went to the Sunday market to look at the local wares. Beth led Dianne to a booth and convinced her (after a sample) to buy some strawberry/pepper jelly - sounds horrible, but tastes great. Russ led me to the ice cream booth where we all had a scoop. While Russ and I waited in line for the ice cream, Beth led Dianne to the Kettle Corn booth. It was a great day for tasty snacks.

We also drove by several really cool sites: the Delta Queen (soon to become a restaurant), the foot bridge over the Tennessee River, the artsy north side, several public parks, and even a house shaped like a flying saucer up on Signal Mountain! Every where we went there were tons of people enjoying the beautiful day, often with live music in the background.

Dianne again -- Roger and I commented to each other that as far as the "cool" factor, Chattanooga reminded us a bit of Portland, OR, a VERY trendy place indeed.

We can understand why Beth and Russ love living in this area.

Wednesday morning we leave here and head toward Indiana for two weeks of yard work, then on to New Orleans!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Helen, GA Side Trip + Cleaning the RV

Hi all - Dianne here.  I will let Roger tell you about our side trip to Helen, GA the other day.

  We are down to our last day here at the Bald Ridge Corps of Engineers Campground on beautiful Lake Lanier north of Atlanta, GA.  We took advantage of a rainy day this week to wash the roof and sides of our motor home.  Yesterday, Roger put a new coat of Rain-X on the front windshield and I washed the outside windows.  

 The front cap of our motor home was starting to look really tacky with stains from bugs long gone.   The prior owners of our motor home paid extra to have Diamond Shield applied to the front cap.  This is a hard film that prevents rocks and other road hazards from pitting and chipping the paint.  It works really well, but when it gets a little older, it makes the front cap look dull compared to the paint on the rest of the RV.  After a little Google-searching, I discovered that it is recommended by Newmar and others to periodically coat the Diamond Shield with some 303 protectorant.   My project for yesterday was to get the latest bug guts off the front, wash the cap, and rub in some protectorant.  I must say it looks great!! 

 The unsightly old bug stains disappeared after gently rubbing in the protectorant.  We are once again "house proud," even though our house happens to have four wheels!

Laundry here at this campground is a BARGAIN -- 75 cents per wash or dry load, and the clothes actually get dry.  Compare this to $2.00 per load at Disney World.  Not only that, but now that we're out of  "snowbird" country and back into the land of weekend campers, the laundry is not busy at all.   Add in the fact that we are parked close enough to view the washer, and it is a perfect setup.  My laundry is now all clean, dry, and folded, and I won't have to do laundry again until after we're back in Indiana.  This summer, at least until the house sells, I can take my laundry to our "sticks and bricks" house and do it there while working in the yard.  Some lucky home buyer will inherit my new LG front-loaders, but at least I can use them for a while.

We have tweaked our plans just a bit.  Instead of arriving back in Indiana May 4 as previously planned, we will now arrive April 30.  The reason for this is that our daughter has an early meeting on May 4 and it would help her for us to have our granddaughter, Kaia, spend the night on the 3rd and take her to school.  Needless to say, I was not about to turn down that opportunity!   If you missed her guest blog from Disney, scroll down a couple and it's there.  

Now that I've covered the mundane day-to-day stuff, I'll turn it over to Roger.

Roger here...  Our time at Lake Lanier has been pretty quiet.  We have spent a lot of time walking, reading, and watching TV - both inside and outside.

 It was good to get some of the chores out of the way - especially the cleaning of the roof, long overdue.

The dogs (and cat) are able to have pretty long leads at this campsite because it is so isolated from the other sites.   The site is elevated about 15-20 feet above the level of the lake.  Yesterday, when we looked outside, we did not see Chaplin.  He has gotten away from us during previous years, resulting in hours of searching.  A closer inspection of the site revealed that he had slid down the embankment and was enjoying some quiet time resting in the woods. 

 The picture does not really show the steepness of the drop-off.  Suffice it to say that he was covered with that red, red Georgia dirt.

A couple of days ago we decided to venture away from the campground to explore some of the mountains in Northern Georgia.  We intended to go hiking at Unicoi State Park, about an hour away.  It rained off and on most of the day which put a damper on any hiking (wimps that we are).  We did, however, find the picturesque town of Helen cradled along a mountain stream.  

To say that Helen has a German influence is an understatement.  All of the buildings -- and I do mean all of them -- look as if they were dropped in the town from Germany or Switzerland.  It was a really interesting place - obviously a tourist destination.  

We decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants -  Hofer's Bakery and Cafe.  It was a good decision.  I had one of the best Reuben sandwiches!  We both hit the bakery aisle on the way out for some yummy German doughnuts.  (Mine was chocolate - of course).

Dianne again -- My sandwich was also delicious at Hofer's.  I chose the vegetarian sandwich, which had cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, onion, two kinds of cheeses, and more stacked on fresh, chewy French bread.  It was delicious!!  As far as the doughnuts - many of you know I never met a doughnut I didn't like!!

That's all for now.  We'll update from Chester Frost park outside Chattanooga.  We plan to spend a few days there and visit Roger's cousin, Beth, and her husband Russ (both were in Roger's high school class) before making our way back to Pendleton, Indiana.  Much yard work awaits us there!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring is Here! Lake Lanier, GA - Bald Ridge Campground

Hi all - Dianne here.   We arrived at the Corps of Engineers Bald Ridge campground on a lovely spring day; dogwoods blooming, beautiful views from all windows of our RV.  


has always been my favorite time of year, mainly because it means the long, cold, gray days of Midwest winters are over.   If you've ever been to any of our homes over the past 37 years, you know my spring obsession has caused me to plant hundreds of spring bulbs at every house we've lived in.   (If you need a tulip fix, click on "Photos of our House for Sale" in the right margin).  I'm hoping to time this trip so that we enjoy spring as long as we can, following it north back to Indiana.

Our time here has been pretty laid back (even the "boys," as you can see). 

  Our view from our patio area is blooming dogwoods, early spring leaves, Lake Lanier as a backdrop, and sunny, blue skies.   We set up Roger's hammock,

 and both of us have made good use of it and our Kindles.  

We like it here so much that once our first 7 days 

were up, we reserved a second week, even though it meant moving to a different site.  That wasn't much of a hardship, because we needed to unhook and make a trip to the dump station anyway.

There are high

 hooks here to enable you to hang your food up and out of the way of lurking critters if you're tent camping.  The hooks are a perfect place to secure Charlie the Cat on the expandable leash.  He is in cat heaven here, rolling in the red Georgia dirt and

 stalking birds, pretending to climb trees, and sleeping under them.   We now have an orange-and-tiger cat

 instead of a white-and-tiger cat. 

  He gets a good brushing and wiping down with wet wipes before he's allowed back inside each night.

Speaking of birds, there are hundreds of songbirds right here, singing their hearts out.  I started a list of all the birds I've seen just sitting outside here, but can't find it, so you won't have to endure plodding through it after all!  Some of the more interesting ones have been male and female Eastern bluebirds, a small flock of cedar waxwings, blue-gray gnatcatcher.  Also, tons of mockingbirds, brown thrashers, blue jays, cardinals, robins, gold finches, chickadees, chipping sparrows, rufous-sided towhees (male and female), the list went on and on.  There, you had to endure it anyway!!  :-)   There are probably more, but I'll spare you.

Our new camp site does not have a waterlogged fire pit.  After my chimney log success in St. George, last night I decided to try my hand again at building a camp fire.  Roger was very impressed with my fire-engineering effort!  

 I think the key is that there is lots of kindling around here, and unlike most campgrounds, you are allowed to gather it up so long as it is dead wood.  I am now the pyromania queen of our family.

There is a perfect place to launch the S.S. Minnow here, but after today it is supposed to rain and then turn cold, so it's doubtful we'll get it done.  Today is beautiful, but once again we have frittered away the day just relaxing outside.   

We had another house showing the other day!   Not only that, but our realtor called yesterday with news that a reporter from the Anderson Herald-Bulletin wants to feature our house in a weekly series that she does about homes.  We spoke with her on the phone yesterday and have an appointment lined up for May 11 for her to photograph the house, interview us, and hopefully give us some free publicity.   Since we arrive back in Indiana May 4, that gives us a week to make it perfect for her arrival.
I know, I know, we should be there now sprucing it up and planting annuals, but we're just not ready to end this winter journey.

In fact, our five-month trial of full-timing has gone so well that we are convinced we've made the right decision for us.  

 We've decided we don't want to move back into the house when we get home.  Instead, we'll camp in surrounding state parks and work in our yard at home during the day, returning to the motor home each night.   In other words, there's no going back to our former lifestyle!   

Our future plans so far include another week here, then up to Chester Frost park outside Chattanooga for several days, then home again, staying first at Summit Lake State Park starting May 4.  

Stay tuned 

for our future adventures, including a quick trip to New Orleans in late May, South Dakota, then various Indiana state parks.