Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's finally Florida

Arrived today amidst another rain, only this time it appeared more as steam. Humidity at 90+ and temps in low 80's. What happened to fall? Managed a long day of driving and following bikers en route to the BikerFest in Daytona Beach. No RV camping within 50miles so had to drive on. Presently near Titusville and Cape Canaveral area again after 350+ mile day. (That's a very long day for us RVers, especially when we have to start at the crack of 10am!) Arrived to set up and found our internet GPS system had failed so worked on work around for awhile and got it operational. Our satellite system is what keeps us connected, though I sometimes wonder at its cosmic worth...Took a walk and managed to step on some fire ants in the dark (and was bit several times before remembering where I was and what the pain might be from). AND, while the northeast is preparing for snow, it's back to air conditioning here as it feels like a fetid swamp. Hey, maybe that's what it really is.

On to Miami in the morning. Ah, family...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A rainy drive

A long day in the driver's seat with rain an all day companion as we descended from the high western NC mountains to the near sea level along I-95 near St George, SC. We had a brief exploration of Spartanburg, SC when we spotted a COSTCO near the I-26 freeway. We saw an ramp exit close by but we took wrong turn and ended up miles away. Even stopped to ask directions, thought we were heading off right again when the fellow who helped (and who gave me a Jesus tape and prayed me well) out came flying by us in his pickup and signaled for us to follow. It appears he failed to tell us of a critical right turn away from the railroad tracks, not over them as he told me! Since we're about 55 feet long and don't bend in the middle easily, it was a bit hairy finding someplace to turn around and get rerouted. Well, another 3 miles or so he delivered us almost to the Costco door. He then turned his truck around, waved, smiled and drove off. Great fellow. We did our bit of shopping, mostly cheeses, then moved on back to the interstate. Noted all the kudzu growing in the middle elevations over trees and bushes. Understand that it's quite an invasive species in this region. It's supposed to be edible and used quite a bit in Japanese cooking. Too bad it's not better promoted as a free, nutritious green here. Or maybe it'd be better to "forbid" it to be picked so that folks might be tempted to defy and have at it. "Make it forbidden and they will come" sort of logic. Better yet, start a campaign to promote it as an "aphrodisiac" or a "natural male enhancement" like some of the TV ads regularly seen. Lots of thoughts while driving in an all day rain. Happy trails...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Asheville, NC...leaf colors are changing

Here we are Saturday evening at the Solar Decathlon along the Mall.
Arrived in Asheville, NC this afternoon after spending night along and in shadow of I-81...a rather noisy experience, along the New River near Radner, VA. Good day for travel with overcast skies and moderate temps. Same today and a bit of disappointment as there were some pretty trees along the route, especially as we began to climb into the mountains of western North Carolina along I-26. We decided at last minute to change the route and travel another we never had been on. Glad we did. Arrived mid afternoon with enough time to cruise the town and a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway which runs through and terminates near here. We had traveled the first part of this years ago in our VW bus en route to Mexico, but this time we're a little more time conscious and we've found that winding and weaving, narrow roads are fun in the VW bus, but in a 39+motorhome and towed it's a lot more work and white knuckles. We didn't have time this visit for more touristing. A big attraction for the area is the Biltmore Estate, mountain home of the Vanderbilts of the Gilded Age. Nancy came here years ago in her prior life in the Arabian show and training circuit and actually dined at the Biltmore with her employer who was friends of the owners. There's an annual 100 mile endurance trail ride with Arabian horses held in the fall and her then husband was a trainer for a famous Maryland Arabian farm. My interest is minimal now since it costs quite a bit to tour, and after Versailles and other European chateaus, I'm tired of gawking at rich people's houses and lifestyles. Not to say I'm not interested in the woodworking and the techniques and technology applied, but that's not usually the focus of these tours. I do wonder, though, what Bill Gates' house will be like to view in 100 years and to view the state of art technology as history.
We're leaving out in the morning southbound along I-26 and hope to make it into Georgia or beyond. Weather says 100% rain, so need to tighten up everything tonight. So...happy trails for now...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Live from Reston, VA

This finds us enjoying fall in Northern Virginia. We arrived Friday in time to set up and head out to dinner with Nancy's cousin, Russell and his wife, Anne, in nearby historic Leesburg. Saturday took us to TOWN, DC that is, and the Newseum. This is a fascinating 6 story museum about the "news"and the role of all media, print, radio, TV, the internet, in American life and it's relevance with our maintaining our status as a functioning and vibrant democracy. The historical side was very interesting and also helped give perspective to today's polarity and extremes in viewpoints and level of discourse. We could have stayed longer but they kicked us out at 5pm. But there was still enough time to take in the Solar Decathlon a few blocks away on the Mall in front of the old Smithsonian. This has become an annual competition for home design, energy efficiency and renewable energy and low carbon footprint construction. ( We were able to see and photograph all 20 of the participating univerisities entries and come away in awe of the design, thinking and potential that many of these "homes" represented, and the enthusiasm of the students who were representing their schools and the future. Universities included major US landgrant institutions like Penn State and Cornell, as well as entries from Puerto Rico, Germany and Spain.

And on Sunday, Ms. Nancy needed a rest and day off. Tom, on the other hand, went on for a wonderful afternoon visit with an old Georgetown friend and his wife. We all enjoyed ourselves tasting some of Loudon County Virginia's wines at Sunset Hills Winery in the Waterford wine district. It seems that the area has grown from 5 small wineries to over 25 in just a couple of decades. The area is promoting itself as DC Wine Country and from the experience with just this one winery, the future looks very positive for the industry here. It also appears to be a good way to slow the breakup of the traditional farming lands and lifestyle which subdivisions and developments are doing here, over 45 miles west of Washingon.

Tomorrow we begin the travels south in earnest...We're due in Miami by Friday, 16 October. Time to get serious about driving and it looks like it will be pretty much interstates since we've dawdled too long in the north and must now make up the time. Happy trails and will write along as we can...
ps...I'll try to post some photos when I get setup and an image resizer for Windows VISTA on my new laptop. It's a pain shifting files and programs over from my trusted XP but technology marches on at twice the capacity for 1/2 the price. Problem is to upload regular 2mb pictures via satellite internet at dialup speeds takes forever unless they are resized. Downloads aren't too bad @ 350-700kbps with this technology...and it's portable and solar operated.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

From along I-81 southbound

Natural Gas drilling rig setup between Troy and Canton, PA...this is part of the energy future of the area as the Marcellus Shale formation is explored and exploited from NY to WV. This strike promises to be a boom for the area financially for many years to come. It also carries the seeds of concern and danger for the beauty and health of the area and its residents. On the higher side is the build out of up to 170+ wind turbines on top of Armenia. These will be seen dancing in the winds for miles around the Canton, Troy, Mansfield area and for years to come.

Greetings from Hagerstown & DC area...

After several farewell dinners, hugs and heavy hearts (stomachs and bodies, too. We both gained much of our hard lost pounds back this summer) we pulled out of Alparon Park on Monday morning bound for the warm and sunny south...eventually we hope. Here in Hagerstown, MD we've made our "home" at the local Elks Club and continue our "meet, greet and eat" circuit with more old friends and family (this time from Nancy's side of the aisle). I think we're about done in with all the gatherings and will try to do a bit of sightseeing in Washington then hit the highway to continue down towards Miami...more in a few days.