Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Warm Springs, GA

Feb 19, 2008
Yesterday we continued driving south, without any certainty as to where we would end up. It seemed that Florida was just too far—I was getting cranky with all the driving. So Joey suggested we simply find a nice state park and stop there. Luckily we’d stopped at a Georgia rest area/information center as we crossed into the state, and I’d picked up a brochure of all the state parks and historic sites. On our way was a park called FD Roosevelt, between the towns of Warm Springs and Pine Mountain, Georgia. We decided to stop there and spend the rest of the afternoon, and then see how we felt about continuing on further south.

FDR State Park turned out to be lovely. The campground is a good size, the sites are large, there is a nice lake, and the place is 90% empty. We were able to have a choice of campsites, and we are up on a little rise overlooking the lake. We set up and I spent some time just relaxing and reading, which I felt I really needed. It was a very good way to end the day, and we really liked the site. Much to our surprise, in the evening Joey realized that we had an Internet connection! We suspect that it is coming from the site of the camp hosts, who have a good sized Class A rv with a satellite receiver on the roof. They are not far from us, and we have been collecting our mail and using the internet ever since we realized our computer had connected somehow!

Last night we decided NOT to go further south. It is still about 6 hours from here to Destin, FL, and Topsail Beach State Park. That means another 12 hours driving, and we would have almost no time actually down there. We decided it wasn’t worth it, and we’d rather take our time and be less rushed and less tied to the interstate. So we decided to stay here for the extra day.

This morning we dawdled and read our books until around lunchtime, when we decided to go into Warm Springs to visit the Little White House, the southern home of Franklin D Roosevelt. He came to Warm Springs in search of improvement of his polio symptoms, and apparently really loved the town. The museum here is very good, and we enjoyed it a lot. The Little White House itself is also nice—it is very modest, and I think that FDR probably liked it for the same reason we like Mo—it is so much simpler than the rest of our life, we are totally comfortable without being crowded by all our “stuff”, and we are mostly away from the pressures of daily life, without being totally out of touch.
FDR's car with specially-designed controls

One of the museum exhibits describing the beginning of FDR'sRural Electrification Administration

Anyway, we really enjoyed visiting the Little White House and learning a lot more about FDR and his life down here in Georgia. The town of Warm Springs, however, was a disappointment—it seemed very run down, and almost all the shops were closed. Of course, it IS February and it IS the middle of the week. I suspect it is a lot more fun here during the spring and summer months.
We came back to the state park for another night, and to try to figure out what to do next. We want to go home via Miracle Farm so we can see Eddie and Karen, and that is about 9 hours from here. My first idea was to meander into Alabama, which is only about 30 miles away. I’ve never even set foot in that state! But other than being in the state itself, there wasn’t very much really “on the way” (in fact, the whole state is OUT of the way if we aren’t going further south.) Then I had the idea of going north via Great Smoky Mtn National Park, but I checked the weather and it is NOT supposed to be good in the mountains for the rest of the week.

Now our plan is to go via Atlanta, and stop to see the Center for Puppetry Arts. Joey and I would both really love that. Our problem is Mo—we aren’t really sure we can find parking to accommodate an RV. I posted a request for help to RV.net, and everyone seems to agree that we need to park outside of the city and take the MARTA downtown. So I have spent a while on the internet, looking at the MARTA site and trying to decide what would be the best approach. Tomorrow we will give it a try—it will either work or not! And if not…. Once again, I have no idea where we will end up!

Late Start, Dark, and Rain

February 17, 2008
We had a wonderful time with Lois and Howie! In fact, we rate this “campsite” a full 5 stars, even though the site wasn’t quite level (we parked in front of their house). The amenities were stellar, however: the food (Ducky’s Vietnamese restaurant for dinner); the bathroom (newly renovated spa-style, with a shower as large as our entire bathroom at home); and the dog “run” (a huge fenced in back yard for Roxy.) Plus the campground hosts were warm and friendly. We probably should have spent the entire week there, but we will see them again in 2 weeks in Nashville, for Ben and Miriam’s wedding. At minimum, however, we maybe should have spent a second night there, instead of leaving Sunday afternoon.

We dragged ourselves away at 3:30 pm, and headed south in I-85 toward Atlanta. Our ultimate destination is theoretically the Florida Panhandle, where we hear there are some beautiful state parks. But in truth, we’re not 100% sure where we will end up. I did check the maps before leaving Greensboro, though, and thought we might aim for one of the SC state parks for the night. It was kind of late to leave, as it turned out.

We stopped at Walmart to pick up a few food items, and then decided to go to Kings Mountain State Park near Blacksburg, SC, just over the border from NC. It was already dark, but we had our DeLorme to guide us. According to the AAA campbook, there were 116 RV sites there, and it is open all year. Evidently, though, the state of South Carolina didn’t read the AAA campbook. We did find the park without trouble, but “open”? “Campgrounds”??? We saw NO sign of any camping at all, other than a few roads which had chains across them. The park office was of course closed (it was 8 PM on Sunday night), with no mention at all of self-check-in or any other information whatsoever posted on the outside. We searched with flashlights, trying to find any place that looked hospitable, but it was seriously dark and out of the way. Joe declared it “creepy”, and we headed back to the Interstate again (via a different road which took us back through NC yet again) and picked up I-85 south in North Carolina for the second time.

As we reached the highway, the rain began to pour down in buckets. We were already quite tired, it was about 9 pm, and all we wanted was to stop driving. So we did—at the first SC rest area/information center just over the border (we’d passed it earlier and stopped in it briefly to check our maps before continuing on.) And that is where we spent the night. It could have been quieter—we were in the truck/RV section, and 18-wheelers pulled in and out next to us all night. We are unusually sound sleepers, however, and none of them bothered us, except for one. That one caused Roxy to begin barking, and when I peeked out to see if there was a problem, it turned out the truck was full of live chickens. OY!!!!!!! Always an adventure. But no one bothered us otherwise, and we were happy to get going early in the morning.

Heading South on I-95

February 16, 2008

Well, we are “On the Road” again! During the fall, we only had Mo out twice, as I recall—once for a weekend in October, when we went to a state park in Delaware; and once overnight at Newark to take in the Deltones Winter Concert. Since then, we’ve been winterized and waiting.

Finally, though, our February vacation has arrived. Our plans are vague at this point, except for the start. We left home last night around 7 pm (yes, a later start than planned) and arrived in Newark, DE at 10 PM. We had to come in this direction in order to see Beth and deliver a few items which she left at home when she was last visiting us. We went out with her and JP for a late-night snack, and then spent the night in the local Cracker Barrel parking lot. This is really a good place to spend the night—better than our previous spot in the Pathmark lot—because #1, Cracker Barrel actually has designated RV spots. But second, it is off the highway and tucked away, and so it is very quiet all night. Cracker Barrel opens around 6 a.m., I think—and we had breakfast there before heading south on I-95.

Our designated stop for the night was Lois and Howie’s house in Greensboro, NC. We were rolling along quite happily when suddenly, our engine cut out on us. This was EXACTLY what happened when we were in Oklahoma last September—no warning, just the loss of power. We pulled over to the shoulder, experienced the same symptoms as September—i.e. good engine cranking but no catching, followed by backfiring. As Joe did his trouble-shooting, a highway safety patrol came up behind us, and helped Joe determine that it wasn’t the fuel pump and wasn’t the electric system and wasn’t the starter… leading once again to a diagnosis that it was the carburetor yet again. (Last Sept. we thought it was a problem with a hose, which Joe fixed with tape, and then the truck started right up…. But this time there didn’t seem to be any holes in any hoses.)

We called Good Sam, very depressed, and then, just like in September, Joe tried the engine again, and this time it turned over. We cancelled the roadside mechanic who was supposedly going to arrive “in under 90 minutes”, and drove 2 miles down the road to a rest stop. Joey checked a few more things, but once again the problem seemed mysteriously to have cured itself, and we proceeded on our way.

At our next gasoline stop, we purchased a bottle of gasoline treatment, and also one of carburetor treatment. I don’t know which of these Joe used, but whatever…. We had the same problem about an hour after we refueled: loss of power, backfiring, and the engine turned over but wouldn’t catch. This time we were getting very suspicious of this whole problem, and we simply sat at the side of the road for 5 minutes without checking ANYTHING in the engine. After 5 minutes, the engine turned over, caught, and we were on our way again.

We decided that we’ve now had this problem four times: once in Nevada (our mysterious loss of power the day we left Yosemite….we don’t remember backfiring that time, but the truck did “cure itself” after sitting for a bit), Oklahoma (where we thought the problem was the air hose), and twice today. Every time, the symptoms were the same. Joe has now decided we have an “intermittent carburetor problem”, and that if we don’t mess around trying to start it, and flooding the engine in the process, it simply cures itself in 5 minutes. We arrived in Greensboro at 7 pm, without any further incident.