Thursday, September 20, 2012


PRAISE THE LORD WE HAVE BEEN RELEASED FROM THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM!!  That's how it felt at our Summer workamper gig since we had limited cell and internet service.

There's a lot we could say about this Summer's job, but we won't bore everyone with all the details.  We likened our experience to the TV reality show "Big Brother" -- people made alliances and then were very careful who they talked to and what they shared...LOL!!  Speaking of Big Brother, we watched the finale last night and was glad the jury selected Ian as the winner.   Yogi in the Smokies and Cherokee was an experience we won't forget anytime soon.  Not all was bad -- Alan lost approximately 20 lbs over the Summer working hard in the heat.  And I am happy to say I learned the Campground Manager reservation system and overcame my fear of handling money, learning how to balance my register and finalizing all required reports at the end of my shift.  It was a challenging experience in many ways and there were days we both wanted to give up and quit, but we managed to adapt and overcome and made some good friends along the way.  We had a lot of rain in the mountains and as a result fought mold in the Motorhome most of the Summer.  We finally bought a dehumidifier and have been amazed at the amount of moisture it has pulled out. 
We left Cherokee ten days ago (Sept 10) and headed to Fletcher, NC, where we bought new tires for the Motorhome.  Because FMCA (Family Motor Coach Ass'n) has a program with Michelin, we joined FMCA for $50 and are very pleased with the program.  Snider Tire Company installed and balanced six brand new Michelin tires, with a manufacture date on all six tires of 29/12, meaning the 29th week of 2012.  Total cost was less than $3000.  Camping World had given us an estimate for six Goodyear tires for $4700.  Joining FMCA for $50 was a bargain.
We then headed to Tom Johnson RV Center in Marion, NC,  for extended warranty work.  While in Cherokee, our Splendide washer and our Sharp convection/microwave both died.  We purchased a cheap microwave at Walmart so we could at least warm our food.  We have been having a problem with one of our living room slides for a long time, so we had Tom Johnson check it out.  The teflon guides for the slide rails were broken and will have to be made and will not be shipped for at least another week.   It was the motor on the Splendide washer and they were able to get the motor for that rather quickly.  They had to send the convection/microwave to a local electronics company who -- as of today -- had not even looked at it.  Tomorrow they will reinstall the washer.  Since I have follow-up appointments at Duke next Monday and Wednesday, we have decided to leave on Saturday and return in a couple of weeks for the slide repair and convection/microwave.  The techs think the convection will actually be replaced but have to go thru the steps required by the extended warranty company.
We've enjoyed the peace and quiet at Tom Johnson's.  The NC Good Sam Club is having a rally this weekend and the place has really filled up the past couple of days.  We will post some pictures soon.  The pads are concrete and plenty of green grass.  Across the street is the rally area with approximately 500 grassy, full hookup sites.
We've been trying to walk every day.  Yesterday while walking, a lady on a bike spoke and asked me my name.  To make a long story short, she is my cousin.  I met her last year for the first time and knew she lived in Marion but didn't know where or how to get in touch with her.  She had seen me for several days.  What a surprise -- she and her husband live nearby and often come to Tom Johnson's to walk and ride bikes.  Tomorrow Gail and her husband are taking us on an excursion -- not sure where we are going, possibly to my birthplace of Banner Elk, NC.  It truly is a small world!
Thanks for stopping by.  I'm trying to get back in the swing of blogging.  We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Work, work, work -- we asked for it -- we got it!  Yesterday we started learning our respective jobs -- Alan in maintenance and me in the office/store.  We only worked four hours yesterday, but we were pretty whipped by the time we finished...we are such wimps -- LOL! I sort of just hung out and watched how things are done in the office yesterday.  You can show me all day, but I have to get in there and actually have hands-on to really learn a particular job.  Today I got my opportunity -- I answered the phone and made a couple of reservations.  And we also priced and stocked new merchandise in the store.  We worked from 9:00 - 3:30 today, with 30 minutes for lunch.  My main job is to learn Campground Manager, the computer reservation system.  Last year at Branson I learned Campground Master.  Manager is more in-depth, but it does do most everything for you, as far as calculating the total cost of a reservation.  Also, we must take a one-night deposit for all reservations and if a reservation falls during a holiday, the total cost must be paid in full.  So, that means taking and processing credit card information over the phone at the time of the reservation.  One feature I really like  about Campground Manager is being able to email a customer their reservation confirmation straight from the computer.  I have never sold merchandise and worked a cash register before, but with modern technology, it doesn't appear to be too difficult.  Currently, the park is not that busy, but that will change next week.

Alan will be responsible for maintaining the pool, escorting folks to their sites, pumping propane, among other things.  Today he placed solar lights on top of poles next to some of the cabins and then helped build wooden benches from trees that were previously cut down.  

This is a busy park, with over 100 reservations scheduled over the Memorial weekend.  It looks like we will be working 25-30 hours a week, maybe more during the holidays.  A couple of workamping couples scheduled to work has called saying they will not be coming, so that may make it difficult for those workampers that are here.  I have been very impressed with the workers and managers -- they take great pride in their work.

We had a staff meeting with a potluck last night.  Hamburgers and hot dogs were furnished and we all brought side dishes.  Alan made his "world famous" banana pudding as our contribution.

We were both tired after working our six hours today, so we drove into Cherokee and ate at Paul's Restaurant where we had Indian tacos...yummy.  

Tomorrow all the workampers are going on an adventure -- a four-hour train ride through the Great Smokey Mountains.  It's one of those benefits we get for working at Yogi in the Smokies.

I hope to have pictures to post.  Our internet service appears to be better late at night or early in the morning, so I hope to get some pics of our train ride posted when we have a break from work.  In the meantime, you can check it out by reviewing their website here.
Also, if you really want to look at the campground, you can do that here.

We've had quite a bit of rain this week.  It started raining early Sunday morning and was continuous until early Monday morning.  At least it was a nice gentle rain.  Then yesterday it came a downpour, but the forecast looks much better for the remainder of the week.

YEAH, I managed to post a picture.  I think it's all about timing -- it's currently after 11:00 on a Wednesday night.  As you can see, the mountains are living up to their reputation -- smokey -- or in the clouds in this pic.  It's beautiful here and I hope to get some good pictures soon.

Thanks for stopping by -- stay turned as we continue to share our workamping experiences, as well as our traveling and sightseeing opportunities.  God bless!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


We have arrived in Cherokee, North Carolina, for our Summer workamping experience.  More to come on that later.  Although our Verizon Aircard shows 5 bars, it is very slow -- maybe because of all the trees and today it is raining, which doesn't help.  Perhaps an additional antennae would help -- if you have any suggestions, please let me know.  There is WiFi here, but it only has 3 bars, so I'm not sure how that could be better -- besides it's not secure.

I just wanted to take a moment and wish all Mothers a Happy Mother's Day.  Today I am remembering my Mother.  Although she passed 15 years ago at the age of 71, I still think of her almost every day.  I wanted to upload pictures, but the computer is just way too slow for that.

She was the only girl with two older brothers.  I can only imagine the horror her parents felt when she met and married my dad and left them and the State of Arkansas for North Carolina.  And undoubtedly, that is part of the reason she left my Dad and returned home with my older brother and me when I was only three months old.  

There's a lot I remember about her, but the things that stand out the most to me today is her faith in God, her belief in prayer and her love for her family.  She always said, "You've got to have faith" and "You need to pray" about any given situation.  

So, today, I remember her with great fondness, respect and love.

Be safe out there and God bless you, one and all!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Diamond in the Rough

We left the RV Resort at Carolina Crossroads in Roanoke Rapids this morning around 9:30, heading to Cherokee, North Carolina, in the Great Smokey Mountains.  About an hour or so into our drive, it began to rain, but it wasn't bad.  However, the further we drove, the harder it rained.  After about 3 more hours, we decided we had had enough and began searching for a place to stop for the night.  We had planned to stop at Tom Johnson RV Park in Marion, North Carolina, about 95 miles East of Cherokee, but quickly realized that was not going to happen.  So, I hopped on the computer and checked out rvparkreviews.  There was a campground that had great reviews near Hickory, North Carolina, so we decided we would stop there.  I called ahead to make sure they had space for us, which they did.  They have a code-entry gate, so the owner gave me the code when I called.  Maybe that should have been a hint, but we really didn't think much about it.

We got off I-40 at Exit 119.  That's what it said on their website -- "take Exit 119."  No signs -- absolutely no signs indicating a campground anywhere.  The website said it was only a mile off I-40, so how difficult could it be to find?  We came off the exit and came to a stop sign -- "Okay, which way do we turn?"  The sign said "Henry River" to the right and we knew the CG was supposedly near Henry River, so we turned right.  The website stated to make sure we turned on "Whitener Drive," not "Whitener Road," so we're looking for Whitener Drive but never saw it.  We went more than a mile and we were like, "Where in the heck is this CG" -- again, NO SIGNS.  So I called the CG again -- they asked where we were.  Of course, we had no clue, but we know we missed the CG.  She starts asking me questions like do you see old houses, etc.  All I see are signs alongside the road with Bible scriptures.  She says you will come to a section with old houses and all of a sudden, we were there.  Alan pulls into an area where he thinks he can turn around -- WRONG!  It's not raining as hard as it was, but it's still raining.  We get out, look around and there's no way he can make the turn to turn around.  We are stuck!  He decides to disconnect the car.  We have a leather car cover we use when towing and we did not want to take it off because it was so wet.  He disconnects the car and guides me in backing it up.  He then turns the MH around and reconnects the car.

After all was said and done, we found ourselves at the site where "District 12" of the Hunger Games was filmed.  Now we haven't seen the movie, so we have no idea what the Hunger Games are -- other than the advertisement we saw on TV.  However, our grandkids sure know and thought it was "cool" that we ended up there.

I managed to snap a couple of pictures while Alan turned the MH around and hooked the car back up.  If you have seen the movie, maybe you will recognize something from the pics.

We managed to get back on the road and the CG owner stayed on the phone with me until we were actually on the right road to the CG.  You must turn left on Costner Road, then right on Whitener Road, but again, NO SIGNS.  The owner told us the County will not allow signs because they do not have a bathhouse or allow tents -- all RVs must be self-contained -- and the DOT says your CG must be accessible to everyone before you put signs on the highway.   

A quarter of a mile or so down Whitener Road the road turns to gravel and you come to the coded gate.  (I'll get a pic of that tomorrow when we leave and post it tomorrow night).  

By this point, Alan is NOT a happy camper.  When that gate opened and he saw the road beyond going down into a valley, I do believe if he could have turned around -- again -- he would have.  Anyway, we made it in -- the owner is super, super nice and was very apologetic about the problems we had in finding the campground.  By the time we got settled in and had some dinner, the rain stopped, the sun came out and we were able to explore our surroundings.  

It turned out to be a very nice little park we dubbed as a diamond in the rough.
Laundry -- 2 washers & 2 dryers
Catch and Release Pond
We even found the Henry River

We are happy and thankful to be back on the road and are looking forward to exploring Cherokee, the Great Smokey Mountains and beyond.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Small Town America Part 2

As I mentioned in our last post, we drove the two miles or so back to Weldon again on Wednesday.  There were a few more things we wanted to check out.

Not only is Weldon the Rockfish Capital of the World, back in the day, Weldon was also known for its railroad.  The first railway charter in the United States was the Baltimore and Ohio in 1827.  In early 1830, the Commonwealth of Virginia chartered the Petersburg Railroad Company to run a line to connect the Appomattox River to the Roanoke River near Weldon.  The Wilmington and Weldon Railroad was the longest railroad in the world when it was completed in 1840 -- a whopping 161 1/2 miles long.  By 1855, five rail companies operated lines to and through Weldon and some termed Weldon as the "Railroad Capital of the World."  

Today the old train station stands proudly as a reminder of Weldon's railroad history.  In 1924, the station was converted into the town's library and is still active as such today.

A daily average of 54 Amtrak and CSX Freight Trains pass overhead in Weldon.  

We also saw a couple of Amtrak trains go by, but we were never in a position to take a picture.

Weldon Freight Depot ca 1840 -- now a radio station
We even found the little red caboose 
Alan sitting where the brakeman sat
Yes, that is the toilet
There was once a wood stove to the left of the wood box

Since fishermen come from all over this time of the year to catch a rockfish, we wanted to see the Roanoke River to see what we could see.  We were surprised when we pulled in the parking lot near the boat launch and saw all the trucks with empty trailers.  Yep, the fishermen showed up for sure.

All different kinds of boats
And even those without a boat, but he does have a helper
The rapids of the Roanoke River
If you know what a barbless hook is, please tell us.
Is this the way to the trail?
Uh-Oh, Mother Nature Struck Here
Oops, end of the trail from this direction

One last thing we wanted to find before we left Weldon and that was the Confederate Cemetery.  We looked and looked and couldn't find it.  We stopped at the Library to ask and they didn't know.  We went back and once again followed the very small signs and we finally found it -- at the end of a street.

It was so grown up and was not in a very good area, so we debated whether to park and walk to see what we could.  

We decided we came this far we weren't going to turn back now.  We just hoped we would not get any ticks or chiggers -- or even mugged.  Since I was born in North Carolina, I was interested to see if anyone with my maiden name (Potts) was buried in this cemetery.

There were very few visible headstones
This headstone states nearly 100 soldiers were buried here from 1861-1865.

When we stopped at the Library to ask for directions to the cemetery, although "Maggie" didn't know the location of the cemetery, she printed some information for us.  (She wouldn't let us take her pic).  In 2009, this unmarked burial area erected a large marble marker that contains the names of the 170 soldiers buried here.

And lo and behold there it was -- third name from the bottom

"Peter W.M. Potts Co. E 42ND N.C. APR 15, 1863"

What a surprise that was for me -- I couldn't help but wonder who he was and could we in fact be related?

Thousands of Confederate soldiers were kept in and around Weldon at all times.  They suffered from various diseases and many died.  Through the years, many efforts have been made to restore and preserve the cemetery.  The land belonged to a woman who would not sell it or permit improvement.  She passed away and the land was sold to uninterested persons and the cemetery fell into a sad state.  In 1913, the soldiers' cemetery came into the hands of a highly respected black man, David Smith, who said he had known these men and learned to love them and he would give the land to the local United Daughters of the Confederacy.  Sadly, the chapter of this particular UDC disbanded in 1986.  Since 2009 when the memorial was erected, the cemetery has once again become an eyesore -- as you could see from the pictures.

Downtown Weldon today
Surrounding area
We always say when you see a rule, there has to be a reason for it, but we couldn't help but wonder how they plan to enforce this one?
What a life...
This little guy started our day off just singing away outside our window

You just never know what you'll find until you get out and explore 
-- even in and around the small towns of America or Canada, or wherever you may be.    

That's it for now and that's pretty much it for Weldon, North Carolina, population 2,879.  Who knows what we will find next.  Thanks for stopping by -- we hope you have enjoyed our small look at small town America.  Until next time, God bless you one and all.