RV nomads explore Florida – Tomoka State Park and Harvest Host’s Island Grove Winery

2019: January 5-12

Come roam the roads with us and see what we have been talking about all week in VLOGs 45-49!  We continue our travels in Florida and explore Tomoka State Park and meet Captain Corn, stay at another Harvest Host site – Island Grove Winery in Hawthorne where we go on a fantastic tour and learn all about how they turn their organically grown blueberries into the most amazing wine and sangria, and while there, Abbey meets the vineyard’s unofficial ‘host’ – Blue! They quickly became the best of friends as you will see!

Continue reading “RV nomads explore Florida – Tomoka State Park and Harvest Host’s Island Grove Winery”

2019: Dec 29-Jan 4 Florida Faces & Places

Come roam the roads with us this week and see what we have been talking about all week in VLOGs 40-44!

Continue reading “2019: Dec 29-Jan 4 Florida Faces & Places”

2018: Dec 16-22

This week we were very hands-on with our Little Guy Max! Russ found a rusting issue on our frame, figured out where the cut-off switch for the jack is and we solved our question “where do we dump our tanks when boondocking”! Along the way, we stopped to see newborn puppies at a local rescue and did some shopping.

Links to products/places:

Continue reading “2018: Dec 16-22”

2018: Dec 9-15

We don’t care that it was cold out …. the sun made a rare appearance this week and we took full advantage of it. We visited a famous location from Fried Green Tomatoes, had a merry old time in Santa Claus, Georgia (we passed on the fruitcake in Claxton though) and Abbey and Billie got their sea-legs at Tybee Island!

Most importantly, we finally got the furnace issue resolved!!

Links referenced:

Fried Green Tomatoes

Captain Mike’s Dolphin Tours

BringFido

Jack’s RV Service

2018: Dec 2-8

After several weeks in Tennessee, we packed up and moved on towards Georgia. While we were in Hartsville, we purchased a 15 gallon portable waste tank that Russ had to figure out how we were going to secure it for transport. The bed of our truck is already full and due to the curve of the Little Guy Max in the back, we couldn’t find a way to secure it there. This tank does have grooves to aid in strapping it to the back of a typical RV (a photo showed it strapped to the ladder that goes to the roof), but since we don’t have that, we had to improvise. I have to hand it to Russ, he did a pretty good job and he not only shows how he did it in the video below, but why he did it the way he did.

Before we left there was something we just had to do. During our time in Hartsville, a gorgeous blue-gray longhaired cat had been frequenting our campsite. We checked around and he did not belong to anyone. He is incredibly friendly and rushed to greet us whenever we were around. While we were there, we had set up a box with blankets and bedding in it for him to keep warm as there weren’t any structures around for him to seek out warmth and we also fed him. We were sorely tempted to try take him with us, but there really wasn’t that much more room left in our 18 feet of living space to give him the home he deserved. My sister recommended the no-kill shelter in her area so we gave them a call. Thankfully, they were willing to take him in if we were able to pay a small intake fee – which we were happy to do. They tested him for feline leukemia (he tested negative) and said he should be up for adoption in about 10 days. Check their website out at New Leash on Life – they named him “Tex” since we are from Texas!

As we mentioned in our vlogs, we had been setting the torque to 110-120 ft/lbs per the instructions in our manual that we received when we purchased our Little Guy Max. We found out there was a bulletin released by Liberty Outdoors in August 2018 (Bulletin: Torque) that updated it with instructions to set it at 100 ft/lbs. Russ loosened all of our lug nuts and reset the torque to 100 ft/lbs. Our manual also states you should recheck your torque at 50-100-150 miles after you have changed your tire or removed lug nuts. Because we had just reset them, we pulled off at a rest stop for our first check – and several had moved.

Since we had a late start leaving Hartsville, we spent the night at the KOA in Manchester, Tennessee. As we got ready to leave the next morning, Russ did the second torque check and quite a few lug nuts needed to be adjusted. So glad he checked!!  We did our third check at a stop on our route to Georgia and the third check resulted in all lug nuts being fine. Whew!!

On our way to Acworth, Georgia, our friends Kate and KV recommended we stop by Georgia Winery. This place has so much more than great wine. They have fudge, jams, jellies, gift baskets, etc and they have free tastings daily. We purchased Scarlett for one of our upcoming Friday Night Wine livestreams!

As we pulled up to our destination in Acworth, we were greeted by our friends KV and Kate. They are fellow Little Guy Max owners – their LGM “Gypsy” is identical to our “Teddy”. We were able to entice Kate and KV to join us during our Friday Night Wine session and we had a blast. Sweet Abbey made a new friend and romped around with their dog, Sophie (a gorgeous 11-year-old Great Pyrenees). Little Billie does what she normally does and glued herself to my side.

We continued on to Atlanta where I have to be for a few days for work. We had been so busy we had been unaware of the winter storm, Diego, rolling through the southeast. We have become so accustomed to rain and cold weather that we just thought this was the norm, but apparently, Diego is a big deal. We are thankful we were able to be off the road to let the storm move on and the roads to clear up.

That’s all for now, stay safe!

-Kerry

2018: Nov 25-Dec 1

Week three in Tennessee…

In three weeks, we have had only two days with sunshine and nice weather. The leaves have all dropped and the rolling hills are mostly brown. Gray skies and cold air appear to be the norm at the moment. Determined not to let this dampen our spirits and knowing there is so much to explore and do here, we set out to make the best of it.

If you are ever in an area and are unsure of what to do, ask a local. We did just that and set our sights toward Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. (4580 Rachel’s Lane, Nashville, TN)

We took the VIP tour – this is the only one that allows photographs and video. Russ and I both agree it was totally worth it! It says it runs for 1.5 hours, but ours ran a little longer (around 2 hours) due to members of the group (ourselves included) asking questions. Our group only had 6 people in it – perfect size!

I believe I learned more about Andrew Jackson in that 2 hours than I did during all of my schooling growing up. And while I think it would have been nice to have seen The Hermitage during nicer weather, the bad weather did keep away quite a few people so we were able to enjoy it without large crowds.

Hermitage

The rest of the week was pretty quiet. We took the Battle of Hartsville Driving Tour. There are numbered markers along the route but no information and in most of the locations, very little room to pull off on the side of the road. We used the link above to map out the route and learn what each stop was about.  Some of the markers were tricky to find and as far as we could tell, nearly all of the structures mentioned are no longer standing. Even still, Russ and I learned a bit more about Civil War history and had fun for a few hours tracking down the locations and doing the research.

Am I the only one who had never been to a Waffle House before? Everyone I run into lately seemed amazed that I had never been to one. Russ and I found one not too far from where we have been staying so we went for breakfast one morning. I still don’t get all of the hullabaloo, but I found the food was good, served fast and everyone there was friendly. Would I go again? Sure. Will I go out of my way for it? Probably not.  Given that they seem to be everywhere around here, they have ensured that I will not be put in that situation.

I did go out of my way to get my flu shot. Last year I opted not to get one and wound up getting the flu while I was on business travel. I had to cancel my return flight because I was so weak I couldn’t make it to the airport and spent an entire week alone in my hotel room. It was the most miserable week ever.  If getting my shot this year puts the odds in my favor even just a little bit to protect me against it – or at the very least make it not as severe…I am happy to get the shot. As full-time RVers, we aren’t close to our regular doctor, but thankfully we were able to stop in at any Walgreen’s and get it taken care of.

We wrapped up the week with Russ cooking! He doesn’t cook a lot, but when he does, he makes spaghetti with meat sauce. It was a wonderful treat – I think i’m going to go back for seconds!

2018: Nov 18-24

Chilly air and cloudy skies cannot dampen the atmosphere in Nashville. While many people were grabbing Black Friday deals at the stores, Russ and I took advantage of having family “puppy-sit” Abbey and Billie and we set off to explore.

SoBro 1
Exploring Downtown Nashville

We started off on 4th street and initially planned on visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame. We got a bit distracted as we hit South Broadway as music flowing from each establishment lured us into store after store. I believe Russ was thankful that we live in our Little Guy Max with our limited space or we would have been walking home with armloads of shopping bags! Even window shopping can be exhausting and we quickly  worked up an appetite. We came upon Jason Aldean’s Kitchen and Rooftop Bar and had lunch. Russ learned to never walk away before giving his drink order 😉

Jason Aldeans

South Broadway at night is like a cowboy’s Vegas. Flashing lights, music and crowds galore. We met up with my sister and her husband for dinner at Rodizio Brazilian Steakhouse. They had all been here before, but it was my first time. Upon arrival, we were given a wooden stick with a green block on one end and a red block on the other and instructed to set it with the green block up to keep the servers coming, the red block up to take a break and to lie it on its side when you are ready for the check. With the “meat faucet” set to green, about every 2 minutes server after server approached our table with a different type of expertly prepared steak, chicken, ham, pork, or fish. They shave it off a giant skewer right at your table. There are side dishes available at a buffet station – but I never made it that far. I did, however, save room for dessert (priorities!!!). The chocolate cake was heavenly….

Russ
Long lost relative, Russ?

We could not go to Nashville without seeking out Antique Archaeology. I am guilty of bingeing American Pickers from time to time. It’s located in a really cool building with a lot of shops. There is limited paid parking across the street but the downtown trolleys also stop there. We walked by the storefront at first, as did a bunch of other people as we all wound up wandering around the interior of the Marathon building. Access to Antique Archaeology is from the exterior but it is easy to miss. If you go, it is located right next door to Bang Candy Co (which makes amazing peanut butter fudge, by the way). Inside Antique Archaeology, we saw many items that we have seen on the tv shows. They have a lot of merchandise such as mugs, tshirts, hats, etc with their logo on it for sale as well.

Antique Archaeology
Antique Archaeology in Nashville

The highlight of the week though was Thanksgiving. Russ and I have spent many years far away from family during the holidays so it was extra special to be here. A full house, lots of food and we even had sunshine – what more can you ask for!

Until next week –

Kerry

2018: Nov 11-17

STOP #1: Jack Daniels Distillery, 133 Lynchburg Hwy, Lynchburg TN

Russ has been looking forward to this part of our travels for a long time as he finally gets to visit the Jack Daniel’s Distillery!  Russ was able to take the Angel’s Share tour – a 90 minute in-depth tour of the distillery which included a tasting of 5 of their signature whiskeys. Russ showed amazing restraint and didn’t buy his favorite, the  Sinatra Select but after hearing him rave about it, my curiosity is piqued and someone may just get it for Christmas just so I can try it too!

Tours run every day 9am- 4:30pm **Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Day and Easter**

STOP #2:  We arrived safe and sound at my father’s property in Hartsville, TN. After getting all set up, we ran into a bit of an issue as the cold weather dipped below 30. The furnace started blowing cold air and nothing in the manual helped. Thanks once again to members on Facebook, Russ found the reset switch and got us up and running!

STOP #3:  Mending Fences Cowboy Church  https://www.mfcctn.org/

We were honored to be invited to the Mending Fences Cowboy Church on Veteran’s Day. Words cannot really capture how wonderful an experience this was! Please watch the video…that song gets me every time!

We’re just getting starting in Tennessee so keep an eye out next Saturday for Part II of our Tennessee Travels!

2018: Nov 4-10

This week we started out leaving Baton Rouge but started a bit later than expected. Being able to stop and rest when you are tired is one of the great advantages to traveling with your RV. We knew we were too tired to safely make it to our campsite so we pulled into a truck stop just off the freeway, asked management if we could park for a few hours and grabbed some much-needed rest before moving on. [youtube 

FIRST STOP: Rose Hill Cemetary, 8th St and 40th Ave, Meridian, Mississippi

gypsy-queen
Grave of Kelly Mitchell, The Gypsy Queen

On our way to Oak Mountain State Park, we passed through Meridian, Mississippi and stopped by the Grave of the Gypsy Queen. This grave of a Romany leader is hard to miss – it will be the one at the top of the hill, adorned with beads, trinkets and other offerings. When Gypsy Queen Kelly Mitchell passed away in 1915 due to complications resulting from childbirth, more than 20,000 people traveled to come and pay their respect.  Rumors that the coffin was made of gold and that gold coins were buried within the coffin resulted in the gravesite being disturbed on numerous occasions by grave robbers. It has since been reinforced with better materials and still attracts a fair number of visitors every year. Given our new nomadic lifestyle, we felt a bit like kindred spirits and felt that we had to visit ourselves. Legend has it that if you leave Queen Kelly a trinket, she will come to you in your dreams and solve all of your problems. Russ and I both left a small token but neither of us has seen her yet 😉 SECOND STOP:   Oak Mountain State Park (Campground) 33.3644572,-86.7081025

Teddy at Oak Mountain State Park
Our Little Guy Max “Teddy” at Oak Mountain State Park
Abbey in Oak Mountain State Park
Abbey loving our walks at Oak Mountain State Park

We lucked out and arrived during the peak of their fall foliage display! Oh, how I have missed the smell of autumn. I have included the GPS coordinates above to help get you directly to the campsite check-in office. Our navigation system directed us to the back gate, but I would recommend taking the front gate – especially if you have a big rig. The road to the back gate has a lot of low hanging trees and has a lot of sharp twists and turns. In addition, the back gate closes at 6pm whereas the front gate is open 24 hours. We stayed here for several days. During our time in the area, Russ met up with a friend – Brandon from Adventure Archaeology  Brandon lives in a nearby town and took Russ on his first bottle dig and let me tell you, Russ is so lucky I did not tag along on this one. They dug a hole more than 10 feet deep and I was a nervous wreck watching their video footage! The following day, they went metal detecting and while they didn’t find much they did find some really cool arrowheads. If you are interested in seeing their time “treasure hunting” – you can check out the videos here THIRD STOP: Largest Statue of Liberty Replica  33.4822465,-86.7072872

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty Replica in Alabama

Standing at 1/5th the size of the original, Alabama has it’s very own Statue of Liberty, located in Liberty Park. Just a quick stop off of the highway it was a nice place to stop and have lunch. There is a parking lot but not incredibly big. FOURTH STOP:  Heflin, Alabama Cane Creek RV Park We stayed in Heflin for several days as well and had the opportunity to meet up with Heath from Treasure Mountain Detectors and Scott for some metal detecting in the area. Abbey enjoyed romping through the cotton fields and Russ found a 54 caliber mini ball and 1813 musket ball found in an area Andrew Jackson’s troops fought during the Creek War.

Abbey in Cotton Fields
Abbey in the cotton fields

ISSUE #1 While in Heflin, we had a bit of trouble-shooting to do as well. On a morning where the outside temperature dropped to 37 degrees, we woke to a very chilly trailer. Russ went and checked the propane and realized it was empty. He ran down to a gas station that was close by and exchanged our tank for a new one and hooked us back up. Before he went out with Heath for the day, he asked me to check on the propane tank throughout the morning because he thought there was still a smell surrounding the tank. Everything seemed to be working fine, but when I checked on it a short time later, I noticed the smell he mentioned. It wasn’t incredibly strong but as I pulled my hand away, it hit the hose that connects the tank to the trailer, at which time I heard a loud hiss. I couldn’t see any obvious tears or bubbles so I grabbed a cup of soapy water and poured it over the area. Immediately I saw bubbles right along the area where the hose meets the metal. Now that the problem was identified, Russ went in search of a replacement hose. There was a Camping World close by but it didn’t open for several hours, so Russ went to Lowe’s. Then he went back to Lowe’s. Then to Camping World. Lesson of the day: either take the part you need to replace with you or make sure you get the right size the first time!

Lowes
Russ on one of his many trips to Lowe’s today!

ISSUE #2 Still reveling in fixing the propane tank situation, we realized we were celebrating a bit too soon. Coming back from a walk, we noticed the SmartJack blinking. Russ finally fixed the “flux capacitor” by taking the cover off of the back of the unit, unplugging it and plugging it back in again. We don’t know what caused it, but just in case it was due to water entering through the touchpad, we now cover it (albeit with a plastic bag) and are looking into buying something that looks a bit more attractive. Not that we want any more issues, but there is a sense of pride and accomplishment when we figure out issues when they arise. Russ is proving to be quite the handyman now!! NEXT: On our way to Tennessee!

2018: Oct 28-Nov 3

As you travel along I-10E from Texas into Louisiana, it is hard to miss signs for boudin balls and cracklin’s.  Sign after sign touts that theirs is the best. I didn’t have a clue as to what either one was – I had to google it.  By the time we arrived in Baton Rouge, the billboards had done their job. We would not be leaving Louisiana before we tried some.

But before we get there….

Russ and I were so proud of ourselves! Hitching up Teddy to the truck gets easier every time we do it.

The ride into Baton Rouge was beautiful. The sun was out and a fortuitous traffic delay allowed us to get off the freeway and take an alternate route that led us down picturesque pathways.

Byways of Louisiana
Taken from a bridge in Rosedale, LA
Henderson Lake
On the I-10E passing Henderson Lake, LA

Another detour just off the freeway in Beaumont, Texas was to see a massive fire hydrant. This wound up being a part of the Fire Museum of Texas. Wynell (a.k.a. the nicest woman in Beaumont!), came down from her office in the museum to check out our Teddy. Russ gave her a tour and she reciprocated by bringing him into the museum and even introduced him to the Captain who had just finished up a school tour.

The museum is free (donations welcomed) and only two minutes off the freeway. There are several parking lots close by and we had no problem finding a spot to fit our rig. Definitely worth a stop if you are close by.

Note: The Fire Museum of Texas is located at 400 Walnut St in Beaumont, Texas and is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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Abbey and Billie’s favorite spot so far!

While in Baton Rouge, we stayed at the Baton Rouge KOA. We splurged and ordered pizza from Papa Johns one night – which was delivered right to our door! Can that be done at all campgrounds? It will be fun finding out.

A friend in the area, EJ, gave us a few recommendations on some things to see. Here are some pictures and there is more in the video (at the top of the post – if you didn’t watch it yet, check it out!).

Boudin Balls – Boudin is a pork sausage made with rice and seasoning usually stuffed into a casing. For boudin balls, they remove the casing, roll it into balls and deep fry them. 

Our first try to get them was a bust. The location made them, but only for their catering menu. We did, however, get to try alligator there!

Our second try was a success. It was served with some type of horseradish sauce. Russ liked it but I preferred mine without the sauce. They were good! Russ was also able to try straight-up boudin when he went out metal detecting for an afternoon with EJ and he said the boudin was amazing. Oh! And cracklin’s? I found out those are pork rinds!

Russ was also able to get out and go metal detecting with EJ and Dwayne (a.k.a. Yoda). If you want to see their “hunt” check out this vid below!