Travels with Bentley

Travels with Bentley
Bentley - our Heartland Bighorn

Friday, September 25, 2015

September 24, 2015 - Rainbow Plantation - Summerdale, Alabama

September 24, 2015 - Rainbow Plantation - Summerdale, Alabama


Thursday, September 24, 2015

We were up pretty early this morning and ready to leave at 9:45.  I think we were both anxious to get on toward the coast where there are a lot of things to do and see.  We've enjoyed the quiet and the relaxation, which we needed, but we are ready to get out and about more now that we have recharged a bit.
Another cotton field - a little clearer picture this time.

We have discovered that as much as we thought we would enjoy traveling the back roads and going through the small towns that we have come to appreciate the Interstates more than we ever imagined.  We don't have to go any faster than we want to - typically 60 on an Interstate, we don't have to worry about trees, it is always easier to find a place to stop for bathroom breaks (rest areas, side of the road on exit or entrance ramps or truck stops) and there are no rough railroad tracks, and if you do have a problem there is always a shoulder to get off of the road.  Isn't it funny how you get a totally different perspective once you do something different than what you think you like? 

We had another exciting drive today.  About an hour after we left the campground our tire pressure monitoring system started beeping.  The back tire on the passenger side of Bentley was showing a drop in pressure.  We finally found a place we could pull over (of course it was a two lane road with no shoulders).  Dean got out his tire pressure gauge and sure enough it was down quite a bit.  He got the air compressor out but he wasn't able to get a lot of air in it as we had no way to plug it in, but enough it got us to the next town where there happened to be a tire repair shop right at the edge of town.  I kept checking the pressure on the tire as we drove the 17 miles from where the tire pressure monitoring system went off, as I was praying that God would let us get there without anything else going wrong.  The pressure did not drop anymore during our drive so he answered our prayers!  We pulled in, talked to a nice young man, that soon had us repaired and we were on our way in about 30 minutes.  We had a faulty tire stem which he replaced and we were only out $20.  We both agreed it was worth every penny (and probably even more) to us.  At this point, we realized the money we had invested buying the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) was worth every penny as it could have saved us from eventually having another blow-out. The last one cost us a deductible and the insurance several hundred dollars worth of damage repair.

Not too long before we approached Summerdale, we passed by several things that really made me think about home - first of all Faulkner State Community College (my mother was born in Faulkner, KS), the very next community was Stapleton (my mother's maiden name).

Stapleton, AL water tower.
In Stapleton we saw "Blair Road" - my kid's last name is Blair; and the road we turned on to reach Rainbow Plantation was "Long Road" - my step dad's last name.  All of these were on Highway 59, the highway that goes right through Oswego, Kansas.  Hmmmm!  Maybe I'm missing home too!


We also saw this Monster Car along the road.  I thought the grandsons might enjoy seeing these.




We arrived at Rainbow Plantation a little before 2:00 p.m.  There wasn't anyone at the office, but they had left information and several sites we could choose from.  We selected Site #72, a 50 amp site.  It was an easy back-in site and we were soon hooked up and ready to eat some lunch.  After lunch we walked up to the office to pay for our spot.  Bill Liebe, the office worker on duty was so kind and got us squared away.  As we were preparing to leave he said there is one more thing.  I said what's that.  He said you have to have an Escapees Hug and he gave both of us big hugs.  What a sweetheart.  It made me think of the first time I met my dear City Clerk friend Bill Goering, many years ago.  He did the same to welcome my friend Stacey and I as new City Clerks to our first conference.  We also met our next door neighbor here in the park, Pauline when she stopped in to pick up her mail.  What a nice welcome they were.

There was a nice breeze and we set our chairs outside for awhile.  We needed to find a grocery store as our food stock is getting pretty low.  After we lost quite a bit of food while we were parked in Greensboro, NC we haven't been buying that much at one time.  (NOTE:  I don't think I have mentioned that my daughter Misti called me one morning when she stopped by the house to tell me she could hear something beeping in our house but she couldn't figure out what it was.  I said check the refrigerator, and sure enough someone had left one of the doors lightly ajar.  We weren't sure if maybe Dean or I had done it as we were leaving or if someone else had opened it.  We actually were hoping it might have been Logan when he mowed, thinking he would get a drink while he was here,  as it would have been running for quite awhile if we were the culprets.  Fortunately for us, we were glad to hear it was Logan so it had only been 2-3 days rather than 2 weeks or so.  But, you guessed it, we lost everything that was still in the refrigerator at home too.  And again, fortunately I had cleaned it out pretty good before we left, bringing several things with us, so we didn't lose too much.)  The good thing is everything I have purchased since then for the RV I can just transfer inside so it won't be like starting entirely over again at home.  We will probably not use Bentley but another week or so when we make a trip to Wichita after we return home and then he'll be winterized until spring so it will all work out.

Our neighbors Pete and Pauline were outside when we got ready to leave for the store, so I went over and asked them about suggestions of good places to eat for dinner and breakfast, and also the closest grocery stores.  We visited with them a little while.  They are very nice folks from Wisconsin originally.  They full-time and will be staying here for at least another year while Pete recovers from cancer surgery earlier this year.  Our prayers are that he will soon be back on his feet and ready to travel again.  Pauline is a big Green Bay Packers fan.  We noticed the Chiefs play the Packers this Monday night.  Wonder who will be happiest after that game?

We left and headed back to the highway.  Originally we were going to find somewhere to eat and then purchase groceries and head back.  However, we decided we are so close to the coast why don't we just drive on down and check things out.  So that's what we did.  Gulf Shores is like most beach communities - lots of houses, rental homes/condos and hotels along the water with the beach behind them.  It is crowded and full of people but the beach is quite inviting and we will go back Saturday or Sunday to spend some time.  We'd like to get up really early for a sunrise or go later in the day and enjoy a sunset.  We'll see which wins out.

Gulf Shores Beach

Highway as you drive east/west along the beach.


I was surprised to see the intercoastal waterway here is large enough for barges to use. 
You can see the barge if you enlarge this.  Sorry, it's hard to get clear pictures when you are flying by.

There were so many choices of restaurants.  Since we just had fish and shrimp last night and we have been craving Chinese, we decided that's what we would look for.  We finally found a place and as we were driving up I was checking the reviews on Trip Advisor.  They were not very good but by this time we were tired and just wanted to eat, get groceries and go back to Bentley.  I have to say the food was quite good.  They didn't have my two favorite dishes but what I had was really well prepared.  I do plan to provide reviews for all of the restaurants and camping spots we have utilized once we get home.  They will have a good review from me for dinner tonight.

We stopped at Wal-Mart after that and quickly ran through grabbing a few groceries and headed back to the park.  We were pretty tired by now and just ready to chill for the rest of the evening.  See you tomorrow.

I am now caught up and hope to maintain the blog on a daily basis until we hit the rallies.  Then I will either post once or twice or all of it at the end of each rally.  We will be here until Monday, September 28 when we will head to Mississippi.

September 23, 2015 - Sweet Home Alabama Campground & RV Park - Andalusia, AL

September 23, 2015 - Sweet Home Alabama Campground & RV Park - Andalusia, AL

We were ready to leave R Shaefer Heard Campground by a little after 10:00 this morning, headed to Alabama.  We have covered a lot of ground on this trip.  We've had a great time but Dean is ready to go home and would now if I would agree and if we did not have the rallies coming up that we want to attend.  I do think he looks forward to seeing our RV friends again though. 

We arrived at the campground a little before 1:00.  We looked around the office area and could not find anyone to talk to.  I had called earlier in the day and had to leave a message asking if they had a spot for two nights, requesting they give me a call.  We were getting in the truck to leave and look for another place when a gentleman drove up on a 4 wheeler.  We had already decided we would only stay here one night so we could spend the extra time at our next stop since it was so near the Gulf of Mexico. 

This campground was probably the least nice of all we have stayed in.  It looked a bit unkept but you could tell it had the potential for being quite nice.  It was very sandy which isn't appealing, because you always track it in, no matter how hard you try to keep it outside.  We had electric and water hookups only, which was not a problem as it was only overnight.  There were a lot of trees and a nice pond.  The gentleman told us it had a lot of fish in it but we didn't give it a try.  There just wasn't much of a draw to come here except for the fishing and quiet or as an overnight stop, like we were utilizing it for.

We drove into Andalusia for dinner tonight at David's Catfish.  What a great restaurant.  The fried fish and shrimp plate we had was delicious.  You couldn't see or taste any grease at all and the breading was very light.  I chose to have a salad with my meal and Dean had two sides, coleslaw and a baked potato.  The coleslaw was out of this world, almost as good as what Sally Robison in Oswego makes.  Sally's is still the best I've ever had.

David's Catfish - neat wall decor
 
We drove around Andalusia a bit.  Dean wanted to check out their golf course.  On the way there, I looked up and here is this beautiful rainbow.  There were some dark clouds but it never rained on us.  I'm glad we still had the benefit of seeing it though.

Rainbow in clear blue sky.


Later we stopped to get gas before heading back.  The sun was peeking out from these clouds and I thought it was really a great picture.


Looks like a mushroom on the right.


Another thing we noticed here was all of the cotton fields around us.  It must be getting close to picking time because you could see lots of that white stuff. 

It is hard to get a picture as you fly by!

Tomorrow we move on to Summerdale, Alabama, near the Gulf Coast.



September 8-15, 2015 - Asheville, North Carolina - Lake Powhatan Campground


September 8-15, 2015 – Asheville, NC - Lake Powhatan Campground

This (Tuesday) morning we ate a quick breakfast in Bentley and then loaded everything up.  We walked over to say our goodbyes and thanked Michael and Dede for allowing us to park Bentley here and spend a few days with them.  It was so great to spend this time with my very special and dear friend and her husband.
We left Greensboro, NC about 9:45 headed for Asheville, North Carolina.  About 16 years ago, Dean attended a technical school while he was working for Sprint.  I flew out to stay with him during his last week of class, then we planned to drive back in our Suburban that he had driven out several weeks earlier.  He came back to the hotel on Monday after I arrived on Friday afternoon to tell me their instructor said they we're done and the class would finish early.  Unfortunately since he was getting paid to attend this school that also meant our time in North Carolina had come to an end.  We gathered up our things, checked and began the long drive back toward Kanas.  Talk about disappointed. On our return trip we passed near Asheville.  I had really wanted to visit the Biltmore Estate but on checking we found the price for the time we would have was just not worth it, so I have waited all this time to have my dream of visiting the Biltmore Estate come true.  That is one of the main things on our agenda while in Asheville.

As we neared Asheville, NC.

We arrived at the Lake Powhatan Campground about 3:20.  We have Site #1 in a nicely wooded area.  It is not as secluded as most of the sites but we will be out and about a lot so we didn't mind.  We have two of the park hosts parked near us and they are very nice folks. 
We walked around our camping loop this evening.  It was quite a walk - not only fairly long but quite a hill to climb as well.  
When we first arrived here the camp host on duty told us they had just rented the last spot with hookups to an incoming camper.  We were so disappointed.  I asked for suggestions on other campgrounds in the area and they gave us the name of one and directions on how to get there.  I really needed to make a bathroom stop before heading out.  Dean asked the camp host if we could leave Bentley parked long enough to make use of our restroom.  He said sure.  As I came out the door, Dean told me, They have a site with electric only, do you want to take it?  Yes!!!  We had to add water to our holding tank but they had a site where we could easily do that and we headed up the hill to take care of that chore, soon returning to set up in our new site.
 
Taking care of business - taking on water and emptying the black tank before we parked in Site #1.
 
We liked it so well here we extended our stay until Tuesday, Sept 15. 

One morning we decided we would go out to eat for breakfast.  Dean found a restaurant called "Another Broken Egg", so we headed to a little village that is located near the Biltmore area.   The breakfast was so-so, but the shopping area was really neat.  It had an REI, a place I've wanted to visit so that was fun too.  Here are a few pictures of the area.  It was almost like a village in itself.  It had condos, restaurants and all of the basic amenities right here.
 


The small maples in the two pictures above were already showing their fall colors.

We loved the look of this store with the toy soldiers guarding it.

Display window was very nice looking.
 
While I can’t remember what we did each day here are some of the things we did.  One of the other things I really wanted to do was to have dinner with Dede’s daughter Chelsea.  She had her daughter Iris with her.  While I’ve known Chelsea since she was about 1, I had never met Iris and it was a pleasure to spend time with her.  She is twelve years old and was a lot of fun.  She loves to cook and try new foods.  I think my twelve year old great-niece Dani and her would hit it off good – in fact they are only 16 days apart in age.  We really enjoyed spending time with Chelsea and Iris.  Chelsea is the manager of a restaurant here in Asheville, Tod’s Tasties & To Go.  We will be having breakfast there before we leave. 

Dean and I also managed to get our hair cut while here.  That was something we both needed so was happy to get that out of the way.  I used Great Clips.  I miss Marla, my hairdresser at home and look forward to seeing her again soon after we return so she can thoroughly whip my hair back into shape.  Amber-Lynn did a pretty good job, but she just wasn’t Marla.  While I did laundry one morning Dean walked down the street to a barber shop we spied on our way and had his cut.
 
One day we were just driving and came upon the Bent Creek River Park along the French Broad River.  It was near our campground and we found it as we were returning to the park after taking a different direction.
It was really gorgeous here.
Another selfie along the creek.
When we left we took a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway which was near our campground entrance.
Drive home on the Blue Ridge Parkway
 

We visited the Visitor Information Center the day after we arrived to pick up some literature on things to see and do in the area.  We purchased our tickets to Biltmore Estate here for Friday all day, then we will return again on Saturday to do the upstairs/downstairs tour.  We enjoyed both days very much but thought the special tour on Saturday was excellent.  I did purchase the handheld transmitter that lets you listen to special information about each of the rooms for $10  while you take the the house tour.  I wish Dean would have done so as well because it was so much more interesting than just walking through the rooms and reading the small little blurb they had in their guide.
 
Driving into the entrance gates of the estate was really just a glimpse of the grandness we would
see today.

 


The drive through the woods to the house was just gorgeous. 

 
 
 They have several parking areas and they give you the option of walking to the house or riding a small bus.  The first day we walked.  It was truly an amazing sight to see.  As we approached the house you are on a raised platform that looks out over the extremely large and quite deep yard approaching the house.  The house is raised and looks like the clouds are all around it.  It is just gorgeous. 
 
 
 
Here are a few pictures we took before we reached the house itself.
We were on the platform above these fountains when we walked out of the path leading to the house where we were able to see the house for the first time.  This is where I took the picture of the house from above.

These are the walkways from the platform area to take you to the same level as the house.

A lady offered to take our picture.

A little closer shot.

Loved these statues.  There were two, either side of the front entrance.

These are the stairwell areas inside.  Notice the flag was at half staff, in memory of  9/11.  We visited here on September 11, 2015.


This is a beautiful covered outdoor sitting area that guests could use when staying at the Biltmore.

Close-up pictures of the trees used to creat the trellis.

The view of the mountains that you can see from the loggia along the backside of the house.  So beautiful.



More mountain views.
 
Dean and I talked about how their guests must have felt the first time they visited.  Everything was so beautiful and grand.  I took many pictures of the outside and in the various garden’s, however you cannot take pictures on the inside of the estate.  I wish I was able to share those pictures with you so you too could see how beautiful the home was, and you can if you visit Asheville, NC and take the tour.  It is well worth it.  No, they didn’t pay me to say that!  Haha!  The view from the loggia at the back of the house was incredible and I wished so badly I could take pictures to share with you.  The ones above are basically the same view, except the view were a little grander from inside where you were another story higher.

Frederick Olmsted designed the gardens and land around the Biltmore Estate.  I remember hearing references to Mr. Olmstead when I was working for the city in relation to his recognition of designing parks across the country.

The loggia (or outside covered porch area) is where the arched windows without decoration above them are located.  It was a very grand area with lots of seating so you could easily gaze out over the mountains and the valley.  I'm sure you could spot wildlife early in the day and late in the evening from this beautiful area.



Pictures of the trees and yard behind the house.

This is the vine covered area just to the left, when you are facing the front of the house.  This area was beautiful and the artistic winding of the trees in order to provide this cover was unique and very interesting.

This is immediately adjacent to the front yard of the Biltmore - also on the left if you were facing the Biltmore.  It is open grass with a few large ponds in the middle with various plants.

As you go down the stairs to the right of the green area in the picture above you come to another vine covered sitting area.  It is quite unique and again very beautiful.

Some of the wooded area along the path that led from the vine covered sitting area in the picture above to the gardens.

The gardens were really amazing and after completing the inside tour, we were able to walk to the back of the house where I was able to take some magnificent shots of the hills and woods we saw from the inside while on the loggia.  I believe the spring would be an entirely different garden scene than what we experienced and at first I was really disappointed that we had missed so much color.  As we walked through a wooded area where many of the flowers were well past their prime, we arrived to another garden that was ablaze with color and my disappointment soon left.  What a sight!  I tried to capture as much of this landscaping as possible but I’m afraid it does not do it complete justice.  There were various types of gardens, including a rose garden, butterfly garden and a hot house full of house plants.  Please click on these to enlarge them to get the full effect and color of these beds.





Rose gardens

Butterfly gardens
 

We are not very good at taking selfies.  We are too concentrated on getting the picture taken and forget to smile! 


Taken just outside of the Hot House, shown below.

The Hot House




As you leave the hot house, you head back to the grapevine arbor shown below to the beautiful gardens from the pictures above on the walkway in this picture.

This arbor had grape vines growing on it. 
 



More pictures of the beautiful flower gardens.

This was interesting how they trained these bushes to grow along the fence wall. 

As we headed back to the house you can see it in the distance.

Here's another shot.
 
After our time in the gardens, we returned to the house, and caught a shuttle back to our truck.  We discovered that our drive leaving the parking lot takes us right in front of the house, then to the outskirts of the garden areas, along a pond, where the spillway creates a nice waterfall, then past the French Broad River along a nice winding road to the winery.  We did a bit of wine tasting but only tried a few that were of the sweeter variety.  We really didn’t care for any of them and I ended up only purchasing a bottle of Raspberry salad dressing.  They had several dressing samples out for tasting and I really liked this one, especially since it had no sodium content.

Driving through the garden area after leaving the Biltmore.

The pond

Falls created by spillway from the pond.

French Broad River
 
One interesting thing I wanted to tell you about our shuttle ride was Dean’s comment that he wondered if any of the busses they were using came from Diamond Coach.  We passed one soon after that and I said, look, it has a red Diamond on it, let’s try to look at one closer.  Sure enough Oswego, Kansas Diamond Coach busses are transporting visitors to the Biltmore Estate here in Asheville, North Carolina.  I managed to get a picture of one of the shuttle busses.

 
 


We have hiked some of the trails here within the campground while we have been here – nothing too long, a mile or less, a few times.  We drove downtown Asheville yesterday after our special tour at the Biltmore but left pretty quickly.  The traffic was terrible and we couldn’t really find anywhere we wanted to eat.  The food is quite eclectic compared to what we typically eat.  We found a nice restaurant closer to the campground that was very good.  Dean had fried shrimp and loaded baked potato.  I had a pepperoni pizza.  They were both very good.  Both came with a side salad which were also quite good as both dressings were homemade – mine honey mustard with bacon drippings and his was ranch.  Yummy!
Today we made a drive to Hendersonville to Camping World.  We purchased a new oxygenics shower head.   Almost every blog I follow raves about how wonderful these are in providing more water pressure but actually use less water.  When we are using water from our tanks rather than from the campground water system the pressure is pretty low so we are anxious to see how we like it.  However, after we returned to Bentley Dean checked the finish and found that we do not have a silver finish like we purchased.  I won’t mention I thought we needed the other finish.  We’ll have to make a trip back there tomorrow sometime to exchange it.  To be honest we have to go back for another reason as well.  We’ve talked several times about purchasing a pair of wireless headphones that he can wear to watch TV.  He likes to have the sound up so he can hear it and I hate listening to the TV all the time.  We purchased a pair and he was not happy with them at all.  They were somewhat cheap but we thought they might work well enough for our situation.  Unfortunately every time he moved his head it would pick up music from somewhere.  That would not work!  At least we can easily return them.
I apologize for not keeping the days straight and providing more detail on what we have done but at this point I just want to get caught up so I can get back on track again.  I think the pictures I post will provide a lot of information on what we have seen and done.

We have decided from here we are moving on south to a little town called Kenards, South Carolina to Magnolia RV Park & Campground.  They are a passport park which saves us 50%.  They honor it Monday-Thursday.  We plan to spend three nights.  They also have a laundry on site, which I prefer over finding a laundry in town somewhere.  We will have full hookups so we are both looking forward to a nice long shower rather than the navy showers we’ve been taking here.  It isn’t that bad.  You just don’t realize what a luxury it is to leave the water running the entire time you are in the shower.  But I love traveling so it is a small thing in the big picture of life. 

Between now and the time we are committed to being in Bullard, Texas by October 9 we have no place we have to be and no one to see.  We plan to just look at where we might want to visit after Kenards and keep it on the path to Bullard.  We hope to spend at least 3-5 days in each spot and find areas close enough we can travel to for sightseeing.  I am most interested in historical events, especially if they relate to the Civil War but gardens, architectural sites, museums are all pretty open to us.  We enjoy lakes, rivers and hiking so we hope to incorporate some of that into the mix as well. 

Monday, before we left Asheville, we drove downtown to try out Tod’s Tasties & To Go’s where Chelsea is the Manager.  I had the granola bowl (Granola, fruit and yogurt) which was very, very good.  Dean had bacon and eggs and we shared a croissant with homemade blackberry jam.  Dean told me this morning it was the best breakfast we’ve had for a while.  That is a big compliment from him as he very particular about his breakfast food.

We headed back to Bentley after breakfast.  I was reading some of the RV blogs I follow daily and there was an article in one of them about a couple who lost one of the rollers out of their slide.  Well, that sparked my interest so I googled RV slide rollers and hmmm, wouldn’t you know it that is exactly what I picked up off the ground when we were back in Virginia when we had the problem putting the slide out.  I made a few calls to some companies who work on RV’s but could not find anyone who had time to work on it.  One guy gave me the name of a friend of his and he said he would check his schedule and also check with another guy he knew.  Dean thinks if he pushes up on the slide as I bring it in it will keep from further damaging the flooring.
 
This evening we decided to hike another loop in the campground called the Hardtimes Loop.  I knew we could not leave here without hiking this as it reminded me of my dear Oswego friend Richard Johnson, fondly known as Hardtimes.  How I loved that guy.  I used to enjoy seeing him when he came into pay his bill each month at the city office.  He was always laughing and had a story to tell.  Let me tell you I know why they called it Hardtimes, because we had a hard time hiking it.  It was STEEP.  I was out of breath and ready to sit down when we returned.

We had a great stay in Asheville.  We loved this campground even though we only had electric hookups.  Fortunately for us, Bentley has tanks that accommodate us easily for a week of living with no problems at all. 

 
 





















 
Along the way we noticed several campsites had little white paper notices posted.  I took a closer look on an empty site - There have been bear sightings in the area.  Oh boy, hope we don't run in to one.  Well since we've moved on from Asheville and you've seen newer posts you know we made it back to Bentley in one piece.

 

Tuesday, September 15 – Kenards, South Carolina

Well, we were up fairly early this morning for coffee.  We needed to get fuel in the truck and he wanted to try out another breakfast spot that our neighbor here in the camp told us about.  We headed in about 9.  The Country Corner was pretty good.  Unfortunately they did not have yogurt which I have grown to prefer in the morning, but their breakfast was not too bad.  When we got back we quickly loaded up and was ready to pull out about 11:30 or so.  We talked to our neighbor across the street before we left, Sharon.  She is a former truck driver and has been working here at this park as a host for 3 years now.  She will be coming back again next year.  All of the parks hosts here have been extremely nice.  We’ve sure enjoyed our stay.

 

Our drive today was 100 miles and we arrived about 2 p.m.  Fortunately we have a nice pull through spot and we also have Dish and Wi-fi.  Yea!!!  We got set up and I did a little housekeeping before we ran into town to find a Lowe’s and Wal-mart.

The continuing saga of the slide problem….we never did receive a call from the guy I talked to yesterday afternoon so Dean called the dealer where we purchased Bentley, Deryl Bentley.  Deryl gave him a couple of ideas on what to do to keep the slide from sagging while we are parked (i.e. the trip to Lowe’s earlier).  We will try to baby it until we get home and he can look at it for us. 

Dean cooked a few chicken tenderloins.  I baked some potatoes and cooked some cauliflower/broccoli and we had baked potatoes with the fixings for dinner.  Dean said it was really good.  It’s a good quick meal and very filling.