Saturday, June 2, 2012

Some Wal*Mart stories...

We love staying in Walmart parking lots when we are traveling through an area quickly.  Safe, secure, easy parking, easy replenishing supplies and best of all free of course.  We often hang around in the morning when the air is cool before taking off driving again.
But last week we had 2 entirely new experiences at Walmarts.

Chattanooga, TN - I'm lying on the sofa reading and hear a vehicle pull up and honk by the door.  I get up and stick my head out the door and a man says "Oh, sorry, I was hoping to speak to your husband."  I get Gregg who's been lying on the bed reading and he goes out to talk to the guy.  He tells a story of woe and asks for money to fix his truck!  A panhandler who drives up and asks for money!  That's a first for us...  Actually, we saw a lot of panhandling in downtown Chattanooga as well.  Very polite, just asking for handouts... 

 Sylva, NC - Tiny town but very, very nice Walmart parking lot with beautiful mountain views.  Shortly after we parked on the Sunday night before Memorial Day, the parking spaces directly in front of us started filling with cars, trucks and young people, mostly teenagers.  Gregg went out to talk with them and they told him that is where they "hang out" in Sylva, nowhere else to go.  2 police cars pulled up at one point and talked to the kids and Gregg.  Gregg told the cop he was chaperoning them and was told he wasn't doing a very good job of it!  But they were nice kids the police seemed to know and left alone there.  The kids forewarned Gregg that it would get loud later.  It did.  About 1 in the morning they were still laughing, playing loud music and gunning engines.  Don't know what time the party broke up but in the morning there was no litter or any sign they had been there.  I guess it really is a fine place to hang out and they are respecting their right to do so.

Asheville, NC

Keith & Sandy dressed for dinner at our place!
We met up with Phoenix friends Sandy and Keith at a nice RV park along the French Broad River right in town in Asheville.  What a find!  1/2 off with Passport America, only $15 per night (our total overnight is up to $69 now for almost 30 nights on the road - not bad!)  A city trail for biking and walking was RIGHT in front of our RV's so we had a good ride one morning that also took us around an auto racetrack that's now used for bikers/walkers. 

We all took the Asheville Historic Trolley Tour (our 5th this month - we love these), walked about the beautiful Grove Park Inn Resort and downtown Asheville a bit.  Sandy and I toured the boardinghouse where author Thomas Wolfe lived as a boy and tried the chairs on the porch.  His classic book Look Homeward, Angel is essentially an autobiography with the names changed just a little and scathing enough that his family and fellow Ashevillians more or less drove him out of town after it was published.
Since Gregg & I had seen the Biltmore 2 years ago, we did not go again with their $50-60 ticket price now.  But I do remember it being something to not miss your first time in Asheville.

Beautiful North Carolina

We found TN beautiful and now find North Carolina just breathtaking!  As we crossed the border we started seeing wildflowers and day lilies along US 74, at rest stops, along the medians, huge gardens of them, mixed colors, and with tall mountains as back drops.  Wow...  Then we travelled along the Nantahala River for a while, watching the rafters there as we drove.  Great road trip!

Leaving Tennessee...

We have absolutely loved this trip across TN.  To go out with a real bang, I took a river raft trip on the Ocoee River the last afternoon.  What a great ride!  That's the river that the Atlanta Olympics used for their Olympic events. Though my trip was on a little tamer part of the lower river, I did get to experience some Class III and IV rapids.  Got my heartbeat WAY up with a fun and exciting guide, got to "surf" a couple of times and got REAL wet right out of the box when we started just below a dam and waterfall, then stayed very wet throughout the 2 hour trip.  Great fun & I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  Gregg had his fill of whitewater on a long Grand Canyon Colorado River trip years ago so stayed home and chilled while I rafted.  Go figure... 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chattanooga, TN

 We crossed the Tennessee River for the 2nd time in TN, approaching Chattanooga.  That river runs north, south, east and west in its ramblings - amazing!  Beautiful river.
Rode the steepest incline railway in the world on Lookout Mountain - 78% grade.

SEE ROCK CITY !!!  We didn't go into the whole thing but caught this glimpse of the lookout point.  With good imagination, they say you can see 7 states from there.

Loved downtown Chattanooga - lots of water parks all over.  This one under a highway, the steps to the Aquarium from the riverfront.  Waterfall over all those steps - the kids love it!

Interesting - back-in angled parking.

Bridge in the background used to be for traffic, now just a pedestrian/bike bridge - one of the longest in the world.

View from the river on our Duck Tour - look closely to see the guy rock climbing across the face of the cliff.

The incredible aquarium - in both buildings.

Like their BBQ sauce?  They just might give you a complimentary bottle!  Sure made Gregg happy!

Another thing to make Gregg happy - finding Honest Charley, the place he mail ordered car things from many years ago...

Things to make Sally happy - amazing aquarium!  These are Weedy Sea Dragons. 
Beautiful place for Gregg to hang out while Sally devours the aquarium exhibits.

Cool place for a kid to get right into a huge fish tank...

Loved this town of Chattanooga! 

Ambling across Tennessee

We chose US 64 as our route across TN mainly because we'd never been on it before and the Rand McNally showed it as multi-lane, not Interstate, going through lots of small towns. Great choice! It was beautiful and easy to drive. We stopped to see Shiloh and the battlefields of that huge Civil War battle. We stopped in little Pulaski because it had an RV friendly Walmart but also found its little historical museum in the basement of their library to be fascinating. A local old guy was more than happy to accompany us through the museum, telling stories.
A tour of the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg was fascinating.  Good news - the dry county now allows them to offer tasting tours...mmm, good. 

My favorite picture from Shiloh - bird nest and egg in the cannon.

Shiloh's cemetery - all the small markers are unidentified soldiers.  So few identified.  Almost 3,500 killed in 2 days in 1862.  So devastating...

Pulaski - interesting tiny town in TN.  They do NOT make a big deal of being the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan...

Call this picture "Jack on the Rocks".  Behind us is the water source for all Jack Daniel whiskey in Lynchburg, TN.

Very fun special "tasting" tour - that's what we were doing...mellowing.