“Fear of life closes off more opportunities for us than fear of death ever does.” ~Agnes Moorehead

After a couple of nights of little sleep, we woke up on Thursday, April 4th, ready to hit the road.  It’s always a little sad to leave Sneedville and our peeps there, but the pic above, taken a few days before our departure and unaltered, explains perfectly why we will always return. As with every long trip, we check in with family before turning towards distant parts, and our first stop was catching up with the Bailey kids and Boogers.  Since the roads to Georgia are familiar territory, we normally would take the dreaded, “just get there” interstate option.  Thankfully, though, Big Jake was still in the break-in period requiring 50 mph or less, so we meandered along back roads.   It made the driving day longer but was immensely more enjoyable.  We headed south on US-25 through Morristown and Asheville.  At Mills River, North Carolina, we stopped in at Appalachian Mountain Brewery for lunch.  They have indoor dining, but the best feature was all of the outside area making it pretty cool for warmer weather.  YUCKY STUFF:  Upon arrival, we bellied up to the bar to chat with the bartender and have lunch.  Before the food was delivered, though, a couple of guys showed up with drain-cleaning equipment, and we were told we “might want to” move to the other side of the restaurant.  Turns out they had been having drain problems for several weeks, and these guys were going to suck it out.  A little later we heard a “cha-thunk”, like something temporarily stopping up the vacuum before passing on through.  The second guy said “Did you see that?!  It was a mouse!!”  Luckily we don’t have weak stomachs!  Oh yeah…the food was pretty good.  We continued south on US-64, then US-178 to Centerville, South Carolina, and SC-28 down to McCormick where we arrived at Hickory Knob State Park in South Carolina just across the river from Lincolnton, Georgia, at around 4 PM.  Our son, Ryan, is a Maintenance Ranger (a man of many talents) at the park and popped in to visit when he got off of work.

We are still getting used to the set up with Priscilla, but she is awesome.  The biggest issue is that feeling that we’ve forgotten something as we patiently wait for her to get all leveled.  With the last two I did all of that manually, while MW hooked up electric and water and unloaded the truck.  With this auto-level system, you just have to stand back and not mess with anything on the rig until it gives the “all good”.  I’m sure we’ll get into a new rhythm after a few more stops, though.

Laundry day came around on Friday.  Man, I REALLY wish I had never bought a washer and dryer for the barn.  It takes me all day at home to get through that chore, but I can knock it out in a couple of hours on the road.  I went to Peanuts Laundromat in Lincolnton.  I’ve been there a few times before, but it has been really cleaned up and has all new machines.  The negative is that they use those little cards that you have to buy from a vending machine with your credit card.  That bugs me, because you can never put exactly what you need on it.  I always end up donating the excess to another customer before leaving, so it works out okay in the end. Three of the washers deducted money without starting, but after a phone call to the customer service number on the wall, someone showed right up to resolve it.  I was really impressed.  After a little grocery shopping and a nice lunch with my daughter-in-love at Uncle Bart’s, I headed back to the campground.  During my outing, MW (Mr. Wonderful) and Ryan headed over to Michelle’s in McCormick for sandwiches.  Later in the evening we went to Back Paddle Brewing in Lincolnton, where the Shrimp Quesadilla and Mulligan Melt were definitely calorie worthy.  Bonus…it was karaoke night.  You know I was up there having fun!!  No way you’d ever catch MW singing, though, except in church.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with lots of fun with the kids and Boogers.  We had a perfect night for our evening grillin’ at the campground, then another beautiful day for all of us to meet at the First Assembly of God in Lincolnton.  (The pastor is one of the folks we ran into a couple of years back on St. Simons Island in South Georgia while looking for Eugenia Price’s grave. ) After lunch back at the park restaurant, we split up to change and regroup before meeting down in North Augusta, South Carolina, at SRP Park to watch our FIRST baseball game of the 2024 season….the Augusta Greenjackets vs. the Columbia Fireflies.  Can you get a more perfect day than that?  God, good food, perfect weather, and baseball with my babies!!  The Jackets lost, but it was a fun night.  Their stadium is pretty amazing, but parking a giant truck can be an issue.  We thought we had it covered when we saw that the height limit at the Stadium Garage was 8’6″.  No worries!!  We haven’t measured Big Jake, but he’s not THAT tall!!  We paid the attendant pulled in and rounded the corner.  There we were promptly met with a low bar and a second sign announcing that the height limit was 7’0″.  WHAT!!??  THAT IS NOT COOL!!!  MW swung wide to make sure we missed that bar, then as we approached the low beams, I got out on the running board to watch him skim under by about 2-3″.  Whew!!  I guess if we had been above that, we’d have just scraped the top of the truck, because there was nowhere else to go!  

Monday was beautiful for our last day in town.  Ryan came by to have lunch with us, then we headed over to visit with my Aunt Pat, Uncle Ken, and cousin Vicki.  (I was so busy having fun that I totally forgot to get a pic!!) This trip was originally scheduled around a family reunion, but it was postponed due to our Aunt Mary Lou having health issues.  It was nice to get together with some of the family now, though, because I’m not sure where MW and I will be for the new date.  We had a terrific visit then headed back over to Uncle Bart’s for sandwiches for supper.  

We’ve stayed at Hickory Knob State Resort Park before in our first trailer, Penelope. Located along the shores of the 71,000-acre Strom Thurmond Reservoir, or if you were raised around there, Clark Hill, this park has a lot for adults and children alike. Facilities include an 18-hole golf course, restaurant, park store/gift shop, skeet and archery ranges, a boat ramp, meeting facilities, and a playground, . You can also spend time axe throwing, fishing, boating, canoeing/kayaking (rentals available), paddling, swimming, and birding. With approximately 12 miles of trails, the hiking/biking opportunities are pretty good, too. Lodging options include a 70-room lodge and a group lodge, plus one place that is pretty special to my family…historic Guillebeau House (check out the previous write-up here). The campground has 43 dirt/packed gravel sites with electric and water in the woods. The roads in the campground are rough, and there are limited sites for larger rigs. That said, we like this one and are particularly fond of some of the help. 🙂 For this visit in April 2023, we paid a little over $31 per night. (I was too excited visiting my babies to get good pics. Sorry!)

FUNNY BREAK: I’ve have been saving some signs and such to share:

  • In British Columbia – “Road Ices Next 26 km”. I don’t think us Southerners would make it!
  • At the edge of the cliff at Crater Lake National Park – “Fall Will Result In Injury Or Death”. Ya think??!!
  • On I-81 East of Wells, Nevada – “Major Deer Crossing”. Did you have any idea they had ranks???!!!
  • Near Salt Lake City, Utah – “Navigate In Road”. You just know someone has followed their GPS off road there and ended up stuck.
  • Ad in Draper, Utah, for a bank – “When All Interest Rates Suck, Ours Suck Less”
  • On a bathroom wall in Tennessee – “Changing the toilet paper will not cause ANY brain damage.” I needed this when the kids were still living at home!
  • On road sign in Pennsylvania – “Watch Children”. What are we watching them do? Is it some kind of show?
  • On t-shirt in Bean Station, Tennessee – “Sawdust Is Man Glitter”. That is just plain truth!
  • Can’t remember where it came from, but my favorite in this bunch – “Good Without God Becomes Zero”

Wouldn’t you know that our first pull-out day on this trip was in the rain!  Although the process is much easier now, I still looked like a drowned rat by the time we hit the road.  Ryan met us just before we pulled out to say goodbye, which means I got a final hug from my boy!  He is such a good egg and makes us proud.  We’ve traversed quite a bit of Georgia over the years and certainly didn’t want to go through the Atlanta mess, so our route took us north back to Abbeville, South Carolina, then into Georgia where we passed through Elberton, Commerce, and Gainesville.  At Dawsonville (hometown of NASCAR’s Bill Elliott) we stopped at First Watch for lunch.  (It is mostly a breakfast/brunch place with some delicious combinations.)  We continued west over to Calhoun, then southeast to Armuchee, where we finally arrived at the Rocky Mountain PFA Campground just before 3 PM.  After a quick setup, we went to Pullen’s Ordinary Bicycles to drop off my Lectric bike.  Near the end of last year there was a recall related to the brakes, and rather than spend hours trying to fix it myself, I opted to give it to a specialist.  (He ended up charging me $30 for the job, and Lectric would reimburse up to $100.  Awesome!!)  Then we finally headed over to have supper with Mom and Dad2 (Larry). 

The next few days were a blur of activity:  1) We met Aunt Pat and Uncle Russ for lunch.  2) Mom and I worked in a mani-pedi morning.  3) I got my hair done, a DESPERATE need!  4) Mom and Dad2 had cleaned out enough of their garage so that we could finally bring the last of their stuff from storage.  5) Dad2 took us all out to Texas Roadhouse.  5) We picked up my bike in Rome, Georgia.  7) Mom and I took a road trip for a good visit with Aunt Mary Lou and Uncle Roy.  While we were gone, MW & Dad2 headed over to Buc-ees for brisket and munchies.  8) MW and I attended services at Armuchee Baptist Church, where several folks remembered us from our trip at Thanksgiving.  Amazing!!  9)  Full disclosure…there were also TWO Dairy Queen visits.  Who doesn’t enjoy a nice Blizzard!!??  10)  Of course, it was the last week of tax season, so I did have to focus on getting a few returns filed, too.  We always enjoy visits with my parents, and this one was no exception.  Although I was ready to get on the road after all of the recent visiting, I was also a little sad to leave.  We’ll be back again in September when we hit the eastern states again, though.

Also in the middle of the above activity, I was spending every evening after getting back to the RV working on the last panel of our new map.  You may remember the giant wall map we had in Petunia.  Well, Priscilla did not have enough wall space to move that one in without modification of the door and jamb to the bedroom.  After seeing a decorative U.S. map over a sofa that was divided into three sections, I decided I’d rather modify the map to work that way.  Before leaving the barn, I completed two of the three sections with only the east side left to do.  But, since we live on the east side and travel to and from A LOT, it was the hardest to duplicate.  I finally got the last panel finished around 11:15 PM the night before we left Georgia.  Whew!!

Rocky Mountain PFA Campground is our go-to when visiting my family.  There was nothing different about this visit, and you can check out the previous review here. For this stay in April 2024, we paid just under $31 per night.

On Monday, April 15, it was time to head west…at least a little further.  This time our destination was Huntsville, Alabama, where we would visit with MW’s side.  There are only a handful of ways to get over Lookout Mountain, so we’ve been on many of the possible routes before.  Today we passed through Summerville, Georgia, then through Mentone, Alabama, to Henagar, where we turned southeast on AL-75 town to Albertville.  The final leg was through Guntersville and up to the south side of Huntsville where we ended the drive at Ditto Landing.  After getting set up, we headed over to visit with MW’s step-mother, Peg Jones and her husband, Colin.  The latter had a rehearsal scheduled for the evening, so Peg, MW, and I went to Red Robin for supper.  (Although we thought we had, MW and I apparently failed to give them the dates of our visit in advance, so it was a SURPRISE when we texted Peg the day before arrival.  Oops!!  Peg, we will do better, I promise!!  Of course, she didn’t miss a beat and had a plan right away.  Bravo!!) 

Tuesday and Wednesday MW and I spent time on recon for an upcoming Naval Academy Alumni Association RV Chapter gathering that we will be hosting in Huntsville later this year.  We also took care of a few errands, visited quite a bit more with Peg and Colin (despite his feeling a little puny), and had supper the last night with them and MW’s brother, Scott, at Lawler’s Barbecue, another reconnaissance mission.  We also got my new bike rack installed on the back of Priscilla.  More about that later.

Ditto Landing sits on the Tennessee River at the southern end of Huntsville, Alabama. It offers a full marina, store/office, pavilion, picnic areas, a playground, and plenty of bank fishing spots. Visitors can also enjoy the full range of water sports on the river. The campground is divided into two sections, one very old and one recently built.  We stayed in the older loop, which needs some serious renovation, but is nicely tucked away in the woods.  The sites there are paved and mostly level, but do need quite a bit of work and are adjacent to some mucky areas. The new area is basically back-in, parking lot style and suitable for any size rig. The only bathhouse is located in the old section and is old but kept very clean. Since the closing of the campground at the Space Center, this is our new go-to for visiting family in the area, so we will definitely be back. It would not be a destination park for us, but the location is great for the Huntsville area. For this stay in April 2024 we paid $33 per night.

On Thursday, April 18th, it was time for us to point Big Jake west out of Huntsville. We hit the road about 8:30 AM. It was a very grey day, but didn’t really rain on us much. Temps were significantly cooler, though, and would be for several days. We turned south on I-65, then west on AL-36, which took us over to AL-33 and into the William B. Bankhead National Forest. From there a county road got us through Forkville to Haleyville, Alabama, where we caught AL-129 to US-278 and went through Hamilton. AL-17 then took us through Detroit and on into Mississippi. At US-278 (again), we turned west, passing through Armory, then caught MS-41 to Oklona. After that we zig-zagged on MS-32 all the way to our destination, George P. Cossar State Park on Enid Lake, making a quick stop in Bruce for groceries. After so much visiting and running around, we enjoyed a quiet afternoon and ate up some of the abundance of leftovers in the fridge. Yum!! I also got started on the mound of catchup for y’all. By the time you read this, you should have been dinged with a couple of earlier posts getting you back to where we are.

FUN FACT: All of us have been taught to dial 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency requiring police, fire, or medical assistance. Did you know that the very first 9-1-1 call was made in Haleyville, Alabama? By the time the United States looked at adopting a simple emergency system, the United Kingdom had been using one for over 30 years (9-9-9). The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) got the ball rolling in 1967, and the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives made the first call on February 16, 1968. Although some places hopped on board quickly, widespread usage took many years. In fact, the White House didn’t even endorse it until 1973! Hard to believe that in 1987, when I was working at the Federal Aviation Administration headquarters in Washington, D.C., only about half of the nation was using it. Canada eventually adopted the same number, and today only about 2% of that combined area doesn’t use it. Interestingly, it wasn’t the FCC who selected the number, but AT&T. At the time they controlled just about all phone lines in the country. The new number was easy to remember, and more importantly, wasn’t being used as an area code.

Friday it was time to do the laundry again. I headed over to Batesville, Mississippi, about 30 minutes away and the Smith Coin Laundry. It was a small place with only an attendant and one person finishing up when I arrived. The attendant was a nice guy, and we talked quite a bit about travel and Alaska. He has always wanted to go there. I also managed to get some more writing taken care of, before relocating over to Zaxby’s for several hours of the same (and chicken, too!). We’re still making adjustments to my bike rack, so I popped in at Lowe’s before heading back to Priscilla. Then it was feet up for the night.

Saturday dawned really grey, but that didn’t stop us from heading out in the morning to check out The Bob Tyler Fish Hatcheryin Enid. In addition to huge runs housing a variety of Mississippi game fish and tanks in the main area, they have a museum and 10,000 gallon aquarium. There was an attendant with a wealth of knowledge who was funny to boot. Apparently the fish all have distinct personalities. One apparently has a problem with just one other type, and chases them around until they have heart attacks! Really, she said that!! Another one had to be removed after months of playing nice with everyone, then suddenly deciding to have a Donner party on a few of his friends! Bad, bad fish!! Do you ever really know your fish friend?? The hatchery can raise as many as 2 million fish each year which are used to enhance fish populations in public waters. They do programs for schools and offer fish food for sale to entice the catfish to the top of the pond. That reminded me so much of going down to the pond with my Papa Peyton Banks to feed the fish when I was a kid. While the fish at this hatchery did not quite reach the size of the sturgeon we saw at the one in Vanderhoof, British Columbia, the principle was the same, and we appreciated being able to check it out. Next we headed into nearby Water Valley to get the pizza that MW had been craving at Hometown Pizza Cafe. It was a hopping place with a consistent stream of people coming in at out, even after the normal lunch hour. For good reason too…the pizza was delicious!! Back at Priscilla you can probably guess what my afternoon held. Yep…writing.

ODDITY: While looking for a place for supper, I found a steakhouse in Grenada, Mississippi…the Kennel Club. That seems to be an unfortunate name. Are they really serving beef??!!

Sunday was a slow start for me with a migraine. I managed to get my act together in time to head over to Pope Baptist Church (established in 1872) in Pope, Mississippi, though. Dr. Gary Berry started out with “I hope the Lord will make you happy you came!”, then gave a thought-provoking sermon on the difference between trials and temptation. The former makes us stronger. The latter can destroy us and our relationship with God. Who do you reckon is banging that drum? EVERYONE is tempted. The trick is how we handle it. Billy Graham said, “We can’t stop the birds flying over us, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair!” It would definitely be my place if I lived in the area. Afterwards we went to the only restaurant in Pope, the Pope Country Cafe. This is a no go, folks, and you know I don’t say that often. We chose to eat from the hot bar where the spare ribs were so salted that they left your mouth puckered and the squash and green beans had enough hot sauce (MW’s guess) or white pepper (mine) to keep your mouth burning for quite a while afterwards. It didn’t taste spicy like Cajun-inspired food, but more like someone spilled way too much stuff in the pots…repeatedly. On the way back to Priscilla, we filled up the gas tank and popped in to Baskin Robbins (apparently just BR now). I need something to stop the burning on my tongue! (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!) I asked for two scoops in a waffle cone, and the lady was so generous that it all had to go into a bowl to carry it out! That was it for my sweets for 10 days or so, but totally worth it!!

George P. Cossar State Park was a really nice park, and I’m not just saying that because there were just a handful of campers. Located on the banks of Lake Enid, it is an easy drive to Batesville, and Oxford, Mississippi, is just a little further. The long drive in was wooded and flanked by one of the best disc golf courses we’ve ever seen. (We actually saw day use folks out there playing, too.) Additional facilities include an office, an activity room, boat ramp, picnic pavilions, a putt putt golf course, a swimming beach, and at least two pretty nice playgrounds. There are also plenty of trails for hiking and biking, and of course, fishing and hunting opportunities. Lodging includes cabins of various sizes and two campgrounds, although the Jones Creek loop was closed. The other one, Yocona Ridge, consisted of two loops with back-in, full-hookup sites that are spaced out fairly well in most cases and include picnic tables and grills. It could use a little road widening, re-paving, and removal of some trees that are right up next to the road or making campsite access a little challenging. That wouldn’t keep us from coming back, though. For this visit in April 2024, we paid just under $38 per night.

Well, that’s another chunk down in the westward trek. Next up…Airplanes, More Family, and HEAT!! See you on the path.


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