Thursday, February 4, 2010

What I learned on my Christmas vacation.

Photos: Savannah Square, Tallulah Gorge overlook, Dillard House restaurant, Tallulah Gorge steps, N. Georgia Blue Ridge mountains scene, Tybee island Lighthouse, FT Pulaski looking towards Hilton head, SC.

Things I learned on our recent (winter) RV trip to Georgia:

1.Savannah is one of the prettiest and most interesting cities in America, winter, spring, summer, or fall. Taking a self guided walking tour around the historic area is a great way to see the 20 squares. We downloaded a tour app on Danny's iPhone. Don't try to park your RV in the city. We parked at the train station on the edge (MLK Blvd) and walked. Less than ten minutes to the first square on the tour. The tour trollies depart from the same parking area too, so you can get one of those if you prefer to ride. I recommend that in summer.

2.Do not hoof it down to the bottom of Tallulah Gorge without water and an energy bar, especially if you have not done any cardio workouts in awhile. Goin' down, easy. Comin' up, not easy. I almost passed out.

3. I fell in love with the family style Georgia down home cookin' at the Dillard House, especially the country fried pork chops and fried okra. The country fried pork chops and okra did not fall in love with me, however. Acid reflux medicine recommended for those folks like me with Gerd.

4. The north Georgia mountains are beautiful any time of the year.

5. Tybee Island lighthouse complex and Tybee Museum/Ft Screvin across the street are well worth a couple of hours stop. Gift shop very good. Parking good. On cold windy days, climbing the 169 steps of the lighthouse is doable but the wind at the top is harrowing.

6. Ft Pulaski, between Savannah and Tybee is very interesting. Allow several hours at least. The nature trails next to the ft make a great hiking area and the whole place is dog friendly and dog accessible. Great for picnics.

7. Our Winnebago View did just fine in 20 degree cold weather. No issues.

8. Cold weather and rain and sleet are over rated. Grey skies over Atlanta during cold, rainy, sleety weather are vastly overrated.

9. Never dry your hair in an RV bathroom standing backwards while somebody drives the vehicle at high speed down a major Atlanta highway unless you want to spend the rest of the day with motion sickness.

10. pay attention to water levels when spending most of your overnights in somebody's driveway instead of hooked up to water in a campground.

PS: Didn't post pictures of them, but we also enjoyed hiking through Sweetwater State Park in Atlanta and spending a day at Stone Mountain. I particularly recommend visiting the plantation. Lots of opportunity in Stone Mt park for dog walking, too. Big Christmas hoopla there.

Any ideas for where we should go for our summer trip welcomed. No more than two days of driving from Florida preferred. TTFN Happy trails.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cold Weather RVing

Since I had a full week off from December 25th to January 3rd, Nancy and I decided do another week-long RV adventure. Our original plan was to visit my family in Georgia, then over to Asheville, North Carolina.

To prepare for this trip, I studied cold weather RVing in general, and really focused on any information I could find with regard to our model motorhome. Luckily, these little beasts hold up very well in cold weather. The furnace will heat up the entire coach in just a few minutes. I couldn't find any information where a water-line freeze cause damage. I think this is mostly because of the size and compactness of the units, and the construction of the water utility area. I did find a bunch of cold weather tips and tricks. Here are a few things I did to prepare
  • We found a hikers foam sleeping mat, put velcro on the corners, and velcroed it to the slideout wall. This kept whoever slept next to the slideout wall from getting too cold.
  • I cut out reflextics sheets to fit in all the Windows. While this is more of a hot weather tool, it did a good enough job.
  • I lined the outside electrical and water utility areas with reflectics. At night, I kept the 12 volt light on in the water utility. Even though it dipped into the 20's, the area never froze.
  • If we were plugged in, we kept the electric hot water heater on.
  • If it was under 32 degrees outside and we were stopped for a brief tour, we kept the furnace and hot water on.

Two weeks before the trip, Asheville got heavy snowfall. The RV park where we were going to stay was inaccessible, and the roads were just too dangerous to travel. Here's a picture of some people on our Winnebago View/Navion message board. This isn't our right, but it is the same model/color/year as ours.

Just looking at the picnic table will give you and idea of just how much snow there was. Even more fell on the area after this picture. Asheville was a no-go. Biltmore will have to wait for spring or summer. Maybe a 4-day weekend.

We left Florida on Saturday Morning, and drove all day to Lithia Springs Georgia, just a bit west of Atlanta. We parked in the driveway, and got some free electricity from mom.

We visited with my mother and sister, and my brother came with his kids to visit. It was really nice to see everyone again. We also took a hike at Sweet Water Creek State Park. Abby and Ginny loved that park. The new smells were so enticing to them, it was difficult to keep them under control.

Robin went with us to Stone Mountain State Park. The mountain looked the same, but not much around it looked like I remembered. The entire park had been redone for the 1996 Olympic Games, and it was much more a sport/recreation complex now. I actually like it better this way. When I was younger, it was more of a hangout spot. We visited the Antebellum plantation, and the shopping area where the train depot used to be.

We left moms and stayed at my brother, Mark's house. At least, we stayed in his driveway. By now, I'd learned to fill our water tank up whenever possible. Tuesday morning, we set out for Athens GA. We went in a back way, so things seemed a bit different for me. As we got on campus, I realized it wasn't just me. Campus was very different. Even Athens looked different. I was at UGA for a much shorter time than I would have liked. I miss it.

Nancy and I went to Tallulah Gorge.

After that, we headed to Dillard house for some good food.

We spent New Years Day in an insane, desperate attempt to get to my Grandmothers' New Years day lunch on time. Some communication difficulties, and Google Map showing the wrong address (wound up using Bing instead, and got the right address). My family is used to living there, and forget I haven't been there in 25 years, so I don't remember or recognize any of the roads.

With the weather getting worse, and the greyish atmosphere settling in on Atlanta, we decided to head to Savannah. Driving on I-16 in the early evening with rain, mist, and fog made for some good horror movie imaginations.

We got to Tybee Island around 8:30, got an excellent spot at the Rivers End Campground, and settle in.

We found a good place to eat, then went to tour around Savannah. Little did I know how much there was to see. I downloaded a really good Savannah Tour App for my iPhone, but only got to see about 10% of it. We'll make another trip soon, and send a few days going through the full tour. I was really impressed with Savannah, and saw why so many people fall in love with it.

We decided to start our journey back, with a few stops on the way out. First we went to Tybee Island Lighthouse. The Lighthouse History is very interesting, and the Fresnel Lens was fascinating. We also toured the Battery across the street.

A few miles down the road, we stopped at Fort Pulaski. Like Nancy said, don't expect a quick-through of this historic site. There's so much to see.

From there, we got home in about 5 hours, including several stops for the dogs to walk around for awhile.