Tennessee Tedium

Nashville was Nice

After five days on the road from Nevada to Tennessee I settled into the Nashville Music City KOA. Brett & Shelley rented a nice 28’ Class 3 and set up camp next to me. The plan was to hang out, grill a few animals and visit Corey & Erin and the two Energizer Rabbits.

It’s a nice KOA Resort and we really enjoyed just relaxing and swimming with the little guys. Brett and I managed to find a couple breweries in East Nashville that were open. The first one we stopped at was only selling to-go so we headed over to Tailgate Brewery where we sat on the front patio for a couple pints. Then we found East Nashville Brewing and finally figured out how to enter the place, given their convoluted “only sit outside” plan. Nevertheless, they have a very good Lato est Birra Italian pilsner and good hoppy IPAs. And excellent ahí sauce!

Shelley & Brett left Friday morning; I hung until Monday —but not really sure why since most of the points of interest in Nashville were still closed. The pool replaced any sightseeing. And the (finally!) live Colonial golf tournament was a sweet gift of meaningful sports on Saturday and Sunday. The weather was perfect for lazy viewing on the outside TV.

But …

I was surprised that Tennessee succumbed to the Corona overreaction. None of the distilleries were open but some breweries were. Figure that out. A few of the state parks had opened for camping but they were social distancing (outdoors!) so only a few sites were open but not available. Figure that out. Music venues were closed but mass protesting was allowed. Figure that out.

I moved down the road to Manchester (again, I don’t know why) and checked into a private campground with more than sufficient highway noise. It wasn’t much of a change; the Nashville KOA was also kinda road-noisy. Maybe that’s how they do campgrounds in Tennessee? To be fair, I’m sure the state parks are nice and quiet but, of course, they’re not available. Go figure…

Google maps showed a well-rated grill and pub about 30 minutes away. Upon arrival I learned they were closed due to, well, you know. I truly hope we learn how to live with Covid as we have with the flu and common cold. We cannot continue to overreact every time something comes along. I know some disagree with me but that’s where I stand.

Then …

Moving on from the Daniels-less and Dickle-less Manchester area I stopped into Chattanooga for a couple days where at least a REI store provide some entertainment and a new pair of Olukai’s for six bucks, thanks to my remaining REI dividend!

I stopped into Oddstory Brewing in Chattanooga both days and really liked their fermented concoctions. My favorites were the Forgotten Fortress pilsner, the Belgian Field farmhouse ale, the Monkey’s Heart IPA, the Belgian Saison, and the West Coast IPA; not to mention the two sours I tasted: Yes, you guessed it. Oddstory is my latest favorite brewery! 😁

After the Nashville visit with friends it turns out REI and Oddstory were the highlight points of interest in this otherwise tedious trip to Tennessee. As far as I’m concerned you can keep the state. Maybe I’ll warm up to it if they get their heads out and open the distilleries to the public.

On to the Georgia coast. By ways around Atlanta.

Georgia

Ready to move on from Tennessee I charted a route through the northern Georgia mountains following the pretty Ocoee River. This longer, more northern route around the hell-hole of Atlanta wound me through Blairsville, Athens, bustling Sparta (ha!) and into the Greensboro GA area. Nice drive once I recovered from stupid Siri…

Soon after I left in the morning Siri was routing me through Chattanooga’s ridiculous traffic. She told me to take the US-41 exit off I-24. Dangerously, there is no warning until you’re already committed to the exit ramp that a 12’6” undercrossing lies ahead. Shit. Fortunately I caught a brief break in the line of traffic and pulled a U-turn on the US highway. No jury would’ve convicted me. I ignored the bitch in the box and found my own way out of town.

Other than that heart-check moment the drive was very nice and late afternoon I checked into the quirky KOA on Lake Oconee. It’s a largely full-time resident kinda campground but their sites along and overlooking the lake are awesome. I had perhaps the best spot with a really nice deck, umbrella patio table and grill. Good place to spend a couple days.

After 121 threw me a curveball with an 8am start time I headed out on an uneventful drive to Skidaway Island State Park near Savannah. Georgia does a nice job with their parks and I enjoyed the trails, Tybee Island beach, and downtown Savannah. As with most places, Savannah was still affected by the stupid virus but I managed to find a couple breweries that were bold enough to be open. Two Tides has an interesting and very good lime zest pilsner—Tan Lines. I also stopped briefly into Coastal Empire Brewing Co for a decent but not great IPA and a taster of their Dawn Patrol Imperial Molé Stout.

Having visited Savannah before I walked around town just a bit. As I recalled from my last visit here I think the town would be lots more fun with a group to enjoy the many grills and pubs. Instead, I hung out on Tybee Island beach and visited the outside of Fort Pulaski. While the National Monument was technically open, the inside of the fort was closed. Ya, you know why… Good freaking grief. It looked like a cool fort to explore. Have I mentioned the country’s overreaction yet? 😂

So with that, I checked out Friday morning and headed up the coast to Charleston. I’ll spend the next couple weeks bouncing around South Carolina with plans to get Synko’s wheel bearings repacked and hopefully upgrade her suspension to a Morryde 4000 system (if the parts becomes available now that the company is back to work from, yes, a virus hiatus). Why upgrade? I’m just weary of picking stuff up off the floor and the Morryde product comes with superb reviews to reduce shaking and rattling and improve towing.

That’s it for now. More in a couple weeks…

The Last (Broken) Leg

While this trip had its fun moments, overall it was my least favorite trip so far. I blame it mainly on Covid response.

From Greenville I headed a couple hours east  again to Rock Hill. I was getting Synko’s wheel bearings repacked and the Morryde suspension installed. I’d waited an extra week for the parts to arrive after the factory went back to work after a Covid shutdown. While backing the rig into the service bay I had my head up my ass and busted out my back window on a too-tight turn. SonofaB! 😡

But I got really lucky as SafeLite in Charlotte had me fixed up by 10am. Those guys rock. When I left SafeLite and got on the highway a rock took a good chunk out of my windshield—right in my field of vision.  😤 By now the SafeLite guys were full for the day and advised me to get it replaced when I got home. Good enough; I could live with it.

Then when I was having lunch the RV service guys called and said the suspension parts hadn’t come in. So I waited around a week for nothing. Dammit. 😩

As I headed west I had to keep resetting my route because the bitch in the box (my navigation app) kept trying to send me through the hell-hole that is Atlanta. Plus, I wanted to stay off interstates and enjoy the scenery of north Georgia. Nearing my destination for the night I pulled in for fuel in a small station. And broke out my rear window reacting to an unseen obstacle. SONOFA&$#%€¥@!BITCH! 🤬

I overnighted in a crappy campsite at the Cartersville KOA—after screwing with my inverter which would not pass commercial power through. Took me an hour to figure out my surge protector was only passing one of the two legs of power. A couple G&Ts (ok, three) took the edge off. In the morning I dropped into Lowe’s and patched the rear window with yard sign material and painters & duck tape. Worked great!

The Final Respite

My drive from the north-of-Atlanta area took me through Georgia into Alabama and the small, pretty campground at Davis Lake off the Natchez Trace Parkway south of Tupelo. I’d been here two years ago and thought it was a cool place then. It still is, sitting on a small no-wake lake with nice water views. I stayed two nights. As I was puttering around a man came over to say hello. We had met each other two years ago here and he and his wife were back now for the first time since then. What are the odds? Anyway, I enjoyed chatting with Harry, especially since we share the same political and patriotic beliefs. It was a nice couple days!

 Into Texas

US-82 is a really good drive across Mississippi and Arkansas. Much much better than the interstate. I hit Texarkana early but was a little saddle sore so I stayed the night there. Sunday morning I joined 121 in worship online and then headed into DFW. It was a good trip in that no major issues arose but I missed out on a lot of what I’d hoped to see thanks to our Covid over-response. Stats for the trip, including Spring 2020 to Utah & Nevada:

  • Racked up a total of 7492 miles
  • Synko hung with me for 6419 miles (86%)
  • Drove a total of 181 hours
  • Traveled through 12 states
  • Stayed in 45 different campsites
  • Averaged 10.9 MPG in fuel consumption (I thin the drop in fuel efficiency is due to the air running all the time.
  • Repacked Synko’s wheel bearings.

I’m now back at the Vineyards in Grapevine for a month to get my license to carry and then I’m heading west into the Rockies. That’s where I belong.

Past Houses Farms & Fields

Pahrump was fun! Julie & I had a blast hanging with Pam & Billy, enjoying the company of their family and each other. Can’t say we really did a helluva lot but they were good times! A few days were stupidly hot but the week ended in beautiful weather. All-in-all, we had a great time!

Julie and I headed out from Lakeside Casino RV Park Monday late morning and an hourish later I dropped her off at McCarran airport to catch her flight back to DFW. I kept rolling, planning to spend the night in Flagstaff. Anxious Arizona changed that plan, as they had enacted a statewide nighttime curfew. With no place to hang for a brew or dinner I just kept heading east until I reached curfew time near Petrified Forest National Park.

The Great State of New Mexico’s Roads
The Great State of New Mexico’s Roads

That couple-hour mileage gain put me ahead of schedule for the next day and my original plan to reach Las Vegas, NM was completed by about 1pm so I just kept going eastbound and down, bouncing across northeast New Mexico, a corner of Oklahoma and into Kansas.

 

The unremarkable stretch of southwest Kansas into Dodge City rolled slowly by. I noticed all the grain silos were on the west side of the highway. When I mentioned this Shelley suggested it was because railway tracks were on the west side; finally made more sense than mere coincidence. After a long drive of 12.5 hours I backed into a mediocre site at the Dodge City KOA. It was good enuf for a quick overnight.

Wednesday was truly a day spent “rolling past houses, farms and fields” as I crossed Kansas on US400. Good road overall and got pretty nice winding through a few hills as I neared Missouri. With rain clouds in my mirror I pulled into the heavily wooded Springfield KOA and let them deliver a pretty decent pizza to my site. Early morning storms threatened to throw tree branches onto my rig but the ones that did fall thankfully missed me.

My eastward trek contributed through the Ozarks into western Kentucky and the pretty Kentucky and Bartley Lakes region. I overnighted at at campground I had stayed at before on the east shore of Lake Bartley. Synko got a bath but my clothes did not, as Kentucky apparently is one of the states that overreacted to corona; the campground laundry facility was closed. In the end that gained me about $25 as I griped that they had not informed me of the loss of that amenity. (I also griped about the narrow site they gave me and the flaky power that they had to fix. Management was good to honor my request and I’ll return to that nice campground,)

After a short 90 minute drive Saturday into Nashville I settled into the KOA resort near Opryland where Shelley & Brett joined me in the site next to mine. And that’s where the trip currently finds me this beautiful Sunday morning. Church online is on in 30 so I’ll sign off here and pick up in a week or so after we’ve searched out a distillery or two! Cheers!

The ‘Villes & The Trace

Greenville

I dropped off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville to visit a dear friend in Greenville. I was going to miss the BRP but I was looking forward to hanging out with Melba much more. It had been more than ten years since we’d been together—waaaaay tooooo looooong.

Checked into the KOA in Travelers Rest, just north of Greenville, got settled and headed to the local brewery, Swamp Rabbit. Decent beers (more Belgians & white ales than I prefer, though) and friendly folks. Back at camp I met Jason, the KOA owner. Nice guy, turns out he moved his family of six to Travelers Rest from Plano, Texas. Enjoyed chatting with him.

Thursday I ran a slew of errands. I couldn’t stand my truck any longer and found the best car wash I’ve ever been to. The owner of Cedar Pete’s took excellent care of my truck, even though I was from outta town and he’d never see me again. That’s hospitality & character. While my truck got nice & clean, B would have to rely on rainstorms to wash the bugs out of her teeth.

I also had to hunt down a print shop and notary so I could request a certified birth certificate from Orange County, California so I could then take it, in person, to a post office or county clerk to get a new passport to replace the one stolen by the cretin in Houston. I would repeat this charade in Jackson, Mississippi because, apparently, the wheels-off state of California won’t accept embossed, non-inked notary stamps. California has gotten out of control. I say, build the wall—on the east side of the state!

Friday morning I got kicked out of the KOA, even though I thought Jason & I were friends! Lol. Jason referred me to the Palmetto Cove RV park near Table Rock Mountain, a nice place 15 miles away. Once I parked the trailer I was finally headed downhill to Greenville to visit Melba!

We had a wonderful time, lots of laughs. So good to spend time with her. We had burgers at a great place downtown, Grill Marks. I’m glad the burger was huge ’cause it was awesome. Downtown Greenville is a super cool area. I could live there. Later, Melba & I hooked up with her friends Cathy & Dan for tacos & beers. I think there was something wrong with the time because it passed way too quickly. Before I knew it, I needed to get headed back up the hill because it was going to get dark and rain was on the way. I made it up the windy roads before the storm closed in. Friday was a highlight of my trip; I’m so glad I got to hang out with such a good friend and to meet a couple new ones. Thanks, Melba!

Nashville

I headed out early and before long Siri & CarPlay steered me onto narrow mountain roads. Before I was afraid I’d need to throw the transmission into four-wheel drive, I stopped, turned around, turned Siri off, and charted my own route. Ha, I guess I didn’t do much better because I got the sense I was headed the wrong direction—and I was right. We were Atlanta-bound, not headed to Nashville. Course altered again, I wound my way through Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. The drive along the Ococee River was particularly nice. Looked like great rafting. Once I finally hit Chattanooga it was then a long slog north to Nashville. By the time I hit the mediocre KOA in north Nashville, I was done driving for a while and didn’t even go back into Nashville to kick around. Spent Sunday watching Webb Simpson win the Players. Congrats to a solid, Christian guy! On my way out of Nashville in the morning I had breakfast at Loveless Cafe. Great BBQ pork omelette—the restaurant lives up to its reputation. Very good.

Natchez Trace Parkway


After eating I eased onto the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Trace isn’t as grand as the BRP but it’s very nice. A great, easy drive through woods & fields. Lots of pullouts and places to stretch your legs. I saw several pheasant, a turkey, a red tail hawk (who just missed my windshield) and two snakes in the middle of the road who gave their all for scavenger birds. The Trace is another wonderful road managed by the National Park Service. I over-nighted at the National Forest Service campground at Davis Lake near Tupelo. It was the best $20 I’d spent on a night’s lodging.

After another easy drive from Davis Lake headed south, including a  walk through a cool Cypress Swamp, I landed in Jackson where I repeated my FedEx Office printing and AAA notarizing to make the county officials in California happy. Hopefully the bums will accept this version…

The rest of the trip will be a straightforward run from Jackson with stops in Shreveport and Tyler State Park in Texas, then to my campsite in front of Julie & Brad’s home for a couple nights until I check back into my homesite at the Vineyards in Grapevine. One more post about this trip will be coming at you in the next couple days. Then I’m hanging low for a while. Looking forward to a trip to Ruidoso with two good friends and then, in mid June, a week at Table Rock Lake in Missouri and from there onto the great North and Northeast. That’s the plan, anyway! Stay tuned.