A couple of days later Bob wanted to see Charlemagne’s Kingdom Model Railroad Museum in Helen, GA. The drive turned out to be a very pretty one as we got into the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Helen, GA a basically a replica of an alpine town with a slight Bavarian flair. The Chattahoogee river runs trough the center of the town and is very picturesque. The town is fairly good sized and filled with tourists. We had a great lunch at one of the local restaurants. A very pleasant place to visit.
After touring around Helen, we went to Charlemagne’s Kingdom Model Railroad Museum. The model railroad exhibit is huge and totally German in design that features moving trains, the autobahn, moving balloonists, circus displays, 22ft high mountains with alpine villages, street lights, traffic lights, sounds and music and much more. The detail is amazing as is the automation. Most of the displays are actual working models. It is a model railroaders dream. If you ever visit Helen, GA don't miss Charlemagne's Kindom..
On the way back we stopped at the Habersham Vineyards and Winery in Nacoochee Village where we sampled and bought some wine. Right across the road is the Nora Mill Granery Grist Mill and Store tourist stop that includes an historic grist mill, fly shop, old fashioned ice cream parlor, pottery shop, etc. and was really fun. This turned out to be a really awesome day and totally surprising. The Winery was just across the street from the Nora Mill Granery Grist Mill & Store. Unfortunately the photos of the winery did not turn out.
We made one more stop on the way home, The Stovall Mill Covered Bridge. This bridge has quite a history as described in one of the photos. It was on a little side road about 3 miles from the main highway in a small very pretty little valley with a small stream running down the middle. We then headed on back to the rig after a long but very good day..
We heard from Winnebago and, of course, they want us back at the factory where they will have their representatives meet us and go through everything that has gone wrong and they want to put everything right. We were almost feeling better - then last night we couldn’t get the awning to come in. Bob manually got it to come in this morning and it appears that the gears are stripped. Another blistering e-mail to Winnebago. One little cute note though - a large RV came in a couple to days ago and is entirely covered with Jelly Belly logos. He must be a rep, but we rarely see him outside. We leave here tomorrow headed for Crossville, TN for a couple of nights stay.
We left SC as scheduled and on thru GA and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was in the 20's so had a lot of icicles on the ridges. It was a beautiful drive, but was steep and a lot of curves, so it was slow going. When we hit 3100 ft. we finally got to go downhill for a while and on to TN and another climb in the Appalachian Mts.,but was so good to be back in TN. where it is so pretty and soft looking versus the harsh look of SC and GA. We followed the Oconee River into Tennessee, where the white water portion of the 1996 Olympics were held and then on to the TN River. TN is my second most favorite state after KY, but unfortunately both are in the South and we don’t care for the South in general. All in all the trip was pretty and except for the awning incident, was uneventful. The awning started to unroll, but thankfully we were able to pull off and after having to unload some camp chairs to get to the ladder we were able to roll it back up and got back on the road and into Breckenridge Lake Resort at Crossville, TN.
Its not the prettiest RV park, but it has full hookups and is convenient. The resort is across the road from the lake which is pretty but not anything out of the ordinary. It's pretty small and looks like it only offers swimming and such. Maybe some fishing but not much in the way of boating and water skiing. I could not find a good spot to photograph the lake.
The next day we took a tour of Fall Creek Falls State Park that comprises 20,000 acres sprawled across the eastern top of the rugged Cumberland Plateau. Out first stop was Fall Creek Falls that at 256 feet is the highest waterfalls in the eastern US, but even though the volume of water over the falls is not great the gorge it helped create is awesome dating back some 325 million years.
We got on our way to Fair Play SC (2 miles from the GA border and 100 miles from Atlanta, GA, the land of major discount fireworks warehouses, adult stores and peach trees which were in bloom with white flowers and absolutely gorgeous. Sophie took the trip very well and just laid in her chair. On the way, we went through Charlotte, NC. It is a fairly large city with quite a downtown area. It is the home of the Lowe’s Motor Speedway, one of Nascar’s major tracks, but we didn’t stop. Entering Charlotte, the Interstate gave way to city streets. The traffic was terrible with stop lights every quarter mile or so. It took forever to get through the suburbs and Charlotte itself. We finally got onto Interstate 85 and headed west hoping the rest of the trip would go well. Fat chance. While driving down the road we had some excitement. It could only happen to us. We were following a big truck that was spewing ice and snow from his roof. We avoided being right behind him but a huge sheet of ice flew off and hit us on the drivers side front window. It shattered the window but didn’t come all the way through so we were able to continue on to the campground. The trucker doesn’t even know he did it so we have to get hold of the trucking company to pay for the repair. The glass company is coming to the campground which is a relief.
The last stop was Piney Creek Falls that is the most beautiful of the falls in the park. My legs really got a workout crawling over rocks to get a good look. My rib still really hurts, but some things are just worth the sacrifice, plus being able to brag about it.
We stopped for lunch at a place on Fall Creek Falls Lake that was a big one story complex that looked like it should be part of the dam (which was further down the road), but turned out to be a motel with several conference rooms and a large restaurant overlooking the lake and we had a great buffet for $8. There are 2 other state parks nearby and a lot of other stuff to see, but we would have had to stay several weeks to see it all.
Out next stop was at an RV park in the Ohio County Park near Hartford, KY, which is the main activity center for the area with dances, dog and horse shows and trials, golf, etc. The Senior Center is also located here as is a replica of Old Fort Hartford. The day we got there we just drove around seeing the country. The nearby towns aren’t very big and this is a dry county, but fortunately we thought ahead and bought extra wine before we left SC so all is well. We were here for only 2 nights and it poured the next day so nothing more exciting to report. Beaver Dam which dams up the Rough Caney river. This is a fairly large river that runs through Hartford.
Our next stop was to be 2 nights at Marseilles, IL, but it had rained so heavy there the ground was too saturated to handle these heavy rigs, so we ended up going to a Good Sam in Davenport IA. Since we drove an extra 2 hours we decided not to stay an extra night (plus Good Sams are expensive to stay at). Anyway, the trip from KY was very windy, but at least no rain, and as soon as we got into IL and through IA the roads were terrible as are most mid- west roads, plus a lot of road construction. It got so bumpy at times we ended up breaking a glass in the cupboard and things really got thrown around, plus both states are farmland so very boring driving. We did go over several rivers, including the Ohio River, and a lot of them were flooded and there were some oil rigs in the fields, which really surprised us. IA had snow recently and the closer we got to Forest City the more snow was still on the ground. It was a beautiful day on Sun though so melted most of it. The price of gas is really getting critical. It was $2.90 in KY and IL and not much cheaper in IA, however IA has ethanol so premium gas is cheaper than regular, but still expensive. At these prices our future travels will be greatly curtailed so we have to revamp our agenda.
We came on in to the factory at Forest City, IA on Sat instead of Sun. It is a good thing we did because their parking spots are getting scarce. There are a lot of rigs waiting to get work done. You have to have your rig in the factory lot by 7:00 am, which isn’t very big and their waiting room is pretty small so with this many rigs waiting it is going to be a nightmare, plus you can’t leave your pets in the rigs so beside all the people there are dogs and cat crates in the waiting room. Not a fun time The factory has 3 parking areas: there is a several acre grassy area, but was still too wet to park in (we can still dump our tanks and fill with water though) - several spots at the visitors center and also at the service center. These are all electric only, but the preferred spot is at the service center because you don’t have to actually move your rig. The tech just walks out and moves it, but you still have to have your rig ready to move so getting up at 5:30 really gets old after a while. The first day we put Sofie in the pet carrier and took her into the waiting area, but she really hated it so the next day we left her loose in the car and was much better. She was very good even when we were driving. We all congregate in the waiting room at 7am every morning where they have coffee waiting and after our consultations with the tech we either stay and watch TV, read, do puzzles, etc. or we go to breakfast. This is a very small town with a few fast food places, a Chinese restaurant and one very nice place called The Lodge that has excellent food at reasonable prices, so that’s where we mainly go. We get our rigs back around 3:30 so can cook dinner, but people usually hook up and go out. On Mon. we were able to move down to the service center which ended up to be party central and had happy hour every night and we made some very interesting and fun people. Happy hour was a godsend because Bob was not a happy camper. Workhorse (the chassis and engine builders) said they would be at the factory first thing Mon. morning to go over our complaints, but didn’t show. Our main problems stem from Workhorse and some with Winnebago, but Winnebago goes out of their way to get everything of theirs fixed and their office staff are great. Anyway, Winnebago called our rep at Workhorse and, as usual, couldn’t get her or even get a call back. Finally they got hold of the dept. and the rep said the appt. was for the next week (this appt. was set up by conference call between Bob and Winnebago reps so there was proof this wasn’t true) but by the time Winnebago got through with them there was to be a rep there by Wed. afternoon. We are invoking the “Lemon Law” so you would think they would be more accommodating, but their customer service is terrible, especially our rep who never returns our calls or seems the least bit concerned, which makes Bob livid. Anyway, the rep they sent was very knowledgeable, acknowledged our complaints and profusely apologized for our rep’s actions. By the end of the meeting Bob was more hopeful our problems would be fixed and was guaranteed our $800 tow bill would be refunded. Winnebago busted their rears and we were able to pull out Sat. morning. Our Lemon Law claim is on hold for now, but if we have any more problems with the engine it will get re-instated. We are considering trading for a 5th Wheeler, but won’t go any further until we get to SD (where we are going to set up residency status) to take advantage of lower taxes.
It was only a 4 hour drive to Spooner, WI, but the roads were terrible so was a rough trip and we had to take a detour in Minn./St. Paul that wasn’t well marked so were pretty rattled by the time we got in so decided to wait until the next day to see Chris (my son), Lisa (wife) and the new baby (J.P.). A.J. and Meg have really grown (3 and 1 ½). The campground is not attractive at all and most of the spots are taken with permanent Rvrs, but it is located on Lake Paquette. The only spot open for our length is right next to the playground and over the weekend we had to deal with constant screaming and yelling, but they all left Sun. night. Since I am late in getting this out I had my eye appt. and although I do have cataracts they are not in the range yet to operate and are slow growing so might not have to deal with it for a while. Yeah! Nothing exciting to report -just doctor and veterinarian appts mixed with babysitting. First was my eye appt. which she said I did have cataracts, but were not at the level yet where they need to be operated on. I have dry eyes so need to use eye drops frequently and am very sensitive to light, which natural blondes are genetically prone to - something I didn’t know before - so just have to live with it. Next came Bob’s doctor appt. which was mainly concentrated on his knee and had to have X-rays. His cartilage is almost gone, but not yet bad enough for replacement and he has to go in once a week for a shot that puts some kind of lubricant in the joints which seems to be helping. He doesn’t go in until another week for his regular physical. We took Sophie in to get her front claws taken out (over$200) and she had to spend the night and really complained all the way home in the car. They use lasers now, but still one nail started bleeding so had to take her back in and they put booties on her. They only lasted about an hour after she got home but she is okay now. One side note - she really snores and sometimes wakes us up. I had my physical, but won’t have the test results back for a while, but did have to make an appt. with physical therapy because of my back. I have been through that route before, but hopefully they will have something new. She gave me a muscle relaxer for the muscle around the rib that has really been bothering me, but so far it hasn’t worked so will wait until physical therapy and see if they can do something with it. It is really starting to annoy me. We have been to the kids for dinner a couple of times and babysit off and on, but I have to be really careful when I pack the baby around and am usually pretty sore the next day. This coming week they going to a medical conference so Lisa’s mother is flying in to take care of the oldest two (they are taking the baby with them). Bob had to go to Minneapolis this afternoon to pick her up. When they get back from the conference they are all piling into the car and driving to Idaho for a wedding. The lady (Carol) who owns the park is really nice and on the weekends she opens a small bar right across from us so we usually stop in for a beer. During the summer she keeps it open daily. It is really a nice lake and there are a lot of people that have their rigs parked here permanently and pile in here on the weekends. I guess the fishing is really good and they have a nice swimming area, but still a little cool for that. She has a large Golden Lab (we think), but has very light wolf eyes so has to have some wolf in her. Anyway, several years ago she straggled in starving and Carol took her in and the dog became the camp pet. She doesn’t have a real name so I call her Camp Dog. She loves everyone and other animals and I just adore her. For several weeks she adopted us and stayed at our camper day and night. When our door is open she and Sophie stare at each other through the screen. I decided I needed something productive to do so I bought a needlepoint kit (it was on sale) which said it was self-explanatory. It is a Thomas Kinkade picture with a zillion colors and only took me 2 days just to figure out the instructions. I finally did and I am making progress-maybe will be finished in 2 years. I finally had to get a magnifying glass so I am persevering. I have gotten so hooked on it I work on it for hours at a time, but it is so intricate I am only 1/8 done. It may be months before it is finished. There are some parts I don’t understand, but I figure by the time I get all the cross stitches done I’ll have found someone to help me. Bob passed his physical but has a bad allergy problem so had to get some pills for that. His eyes are still giving him problems, but is supposed to get better. I am really getting some good from the physical therapy and they have given me some great exercises that is supposed to strengthen my abdominal muscles that are mostly dormant which is causing most of my problems. She also suggested breast reduction, but I will really have to think about that. As I mentioned we are parked right next to the play ground and this is Memorial Day weekend. There are rigs, tents and pop ups everywhere and at least 50 kids that scream and run all day and night. I don’t do noise well and by bedtime I was a wreck. This is a very family oriented camp and the kids and dogs just run loose. Camp Dog has been having a great time greeting everyone so I haven’t seen much of her. We got a bag of dog bones so she stops by at least twice a day. She has been really busy making all her rounds. I have renamed her Snoop Dog, but she comes to any name. We really had a bad storm a couple of days ago and washed a lot of the roads out so Carol had to bring in a lot of dirt. There were even tornado warnings in our county and the neighboring county. Most of the time it is windy and warm. Last weekend was the worst. The kids weren’t that bad, but while we were having a beer a large group came in and was so noisy we left. They proceeded to sing karaoke until after 2 am, plus someone was firing off firecrackers. It was a long night. We have had more storms and tornado watches,.but then it turned hot and humid. I would rather have the storms. There was one that came through 6 years ago and killed Carol’s husband and did a lot of damage. We had a small birthday party for Meg who just turned two. She is so cute, but is becoming a handful. Actually, babysitting a 3, 2 and 6 mo. old is really a nightmare, but we manage. Chris is going to be gone a week with the boy scouts so we volunteered to watch them a couple of days. I may never be the same. I am finally through with my therapy and ended up with 3 different people so got a lot of different viewpoints and a lot of exercises so hopefully some of them will work. Bob nags (yes, nags!)(DO NOT) me to make sure I do them. I am so caught up with my needlepoint that I do it for hours and by the time my arm goes numb, I am ready for some stretches
We went to the Museum of Woodcarving last week which is the largest collection of wood carvings in the world created by one man with one hundred life-size figures of biblical nature and over 4 hundred miniature carvings. The display included a full size carving of the Nativity, the Crucification, The Resurrection and the Last Supper, just to mention a few. It was really awesome. (This facility also prohibited photography - so no photos)
June 20 - Left Spooner for Perham MN. The countryside in northern MN is absolutely beautiful and dotted with one lake after another - Mille Lacs Lake being the biggest (you couldn’t even see the opposite shore). It really lulls you into wanting to live here, but then I remember camping here years ago when it was hot, humid and an excessive amount of bugs. We are in a campground on Big Pine Lake which is one of the nicest we have been in. Perham is a mid-size town where we had dinner for a very reasonable price. June 21 - Was hot and muggy so just stayed in and did chores and enjoyed the surroundings.
June 22 - Continued on through MN with rough roads and a lot of construction, which obviously they need. The scenery was still beautiful and then we got into ND, which is really flat. It is still pretty in its way, but there is miles and miles of miles of rolling mounds with the mustard fields to break up the monotony now and then. The first campground (Prairie Haven Campground in Eckelson, ND) was small and the owner’s had just taken over and planned on a lot of improvements, but still was fairly nice. She made some vegetable barley soup that was the best Bob had ever eaten (I don’t like barley so he got mine). I think they will be very successful and we recommend it.