We were not too excited about having to return to the barndominium for a SHOT (previous post), but it turned out to be pretty nice. The weather was beautiful, and the turkeys and deer were out in force. One morning MW (Mr. Wonderful) opened the door and scared both deer and turkeys off of the hillside closest to us. They seem to love the clover there, but run for the woods when we make a sound. I think they resent it a little when we come back, actually. LOL. We also had three flocks of turkeys, males with their harems, pass through in one afternoon. They are so beautiful! Did you know the wild turkey was almost our national bird? The story goes that Benjamin Franklin thought it a better choice than the Bald Eagle, and that the turkey lost by one vote. Well, truth be told, some say that never happened (who knows for sure), but the turkey is certainly beautiful and plentiful enough to have been a serious contender.

A few months back I decided that I needed a camera upgrade. My iPhone 7 is good for pics of people and landscapes, but I was missing the ability to zoom in optically to get crisp pics of wildlife or other things in the distance. After much research, I landed on a Sony HX-400V. It does a lot of stuff I don’t have a clue about, so I will be spending some time with the instructions. Thankfully, though, it also has a couple of auto-shoot modes that are fantastic and an easy-to-use 50x optical + 50x digital zoom. I’m hoping that I can show you a lot more detail. The pic above is my best yet of a turkey at the barn. He was really prancing!

The few days also gave MW time to finish up a wood project he had been working on. When we took down the old barn, we sold some of the wood to be recycled and saved a lot of the rest for future stuff…an accent wall in our eventual house, Ryan (our son) wants to build some stuff from it, etc. Around that time, Lorraine Carroll (the sweet lady we bought the farm from) was visiting. She said she needed a simple little kitchen table and sure would like to have one made out of that barn wood. We delivered it before we headed out again, and I think she was happy with the result. It is much harder than you think to build from 80-year-old barn wood. Unlike boards you get now that are all exactly the same size, these were all cut in an old saw mill to be smooth without matching up sizes, so you might get 1 x 4s or 7/8 x 6s or 1-1/4 x 5s…you get the picture. If you aren’t going to plane it all down equal, matching everything up is a little like putting together a 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. When we dropped it off, Lorraine said that she believes the boards for that barn were actually cut by her father, who had the closest saw mill in the 1940s. The barn was built by her future in-laws. Pretty cool, huh?!

Shots complete and chores done, we headed out again on Friday, April 16th…REALLY!! Our route took us down through Mo’town to I-81, then I-40 east to North Carolina. We don’t drive that way often, because the road is closed or under construction a lot, but I always enjoy it when we do. It passes over the mountains and through a couple of tunnels, with spectacular views along the way. At Asheville, we turned southeast on I-26, then picked up US-25 south. West of Greenville we stopped in Silver Bay Seafood for lunch. The primary reason…HUGE parking lot. MW had the Grouper Po’ Boy, and I had The World’s Best Fish Sandwich, both of which were served with slaw and another side, plus hush puppies and a few onion rings thrown in for good measure. I ended up having to take some of the fish OFF of my sandwich to eat it (with my small mouth…certified by TWO dentists! Don’t listen to MW!) and took the extra fish and everything but the sandwich home for supper later. His po’ boy was about a foot long and stuffed full, too, and everything was delicious!! Definitely check this place out if you are passing through.

As we headed back to Brutus, we realized that this was the perfect place to re-measure our height after the suspension upgrade, which added larger tires. We top out at 12’8″; amazingly, NO CHANGE from the previous measurement. I can see the geometry mind cells blowing up from here. Mine were too, briefly, but the tires are 2/3 of the way towards the back of the trailer, and the highest point is very near the front, so the 1-1/2″ taller tires just lifted the rear. The advertised height of the our particular model is 12’6″, but ours rides taller because we raised the ball in the truck to the highest level for the pinbox to clear the bed rails in tight turns (a couple of gouges in the plastic tops instigated that change a while back). Before the recent modifications, she rode slightly high in front. Now she is pretty darned level. Two inches doesn’t sound like much, but it can be critical. If you have a rig, we recommend that you get up there and measure the height when you are attached to your tow vehicle and on a smooth, level surface. Strange coincidence…we came upon a low clearance overpass just a few miles down the road. Thanks to the quick measurement, we knew we would clear it by 4 inches. We still slowed down, though. There is just something about flying through a hole dragging a tall box that makes you pucker! We continued south to US-29, then caught the scenic route down SC-81 to our home for the next few days, Baker Creek State Park.

Random Incredulity: I was reading an article about cheating scandals at our nation’s military academies, a subject that piqued my interest as MW went to the Naval Academy. (Go NAVY, Beat Army!!) In recent months there have been cheating scandals at all of the service academies (249 Air Force Cadets, 73 West Point Cadets, an unknown number of Midshipmen on the Physics final, 31 Coast Guard Cadets). It appears that, in all cases, the infractions were treated seriously from a disciplinary standpoint. However, and this is really perplexing to me, Colonel Mark Weathers, West Point’s Chief of Staff, said when the scandal there came to light that he was “disappointed” in the cadets for cheating. That seems a bit mild to me. He went on to say that he did not consider the incident a “serious breach” of the Honor Code (“A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do.”) as it would not have occurred if the Cadets had taken the exam in question on campus. Wow! Seriously??!! It doesn’t go against the Code because they weren’t being supervised at the time? They cheated, but they weren’t in class at the time. So basic honesty is only important when you are in front of people? What the hell???? These students are the future military leaders of our country! Cheating is BAD! PERIOD!! Trying to rewrite the narrative to blame it on Covid and make it less important than it is may actually be WORSE. Okay, I’ll end this little rant, but suffice to say that, if he actually said what was reported, Colonel Weathers is lucky that I’m not his boss!

Saturday we were both up ridiculously early. I caught up on this blog and got a bit of bookkeeping work done, then we took a nice walk around the park. Later the scenic route was calling, so we headed south out of McCormick, South Carolina, on US-221 to SC-28 down to Evans. My Dad was born across the lake in Lincolnton, Georgia, and although I’ve spent some time in the area over the years, we’d never driven down the South Carolina side. It is a pretty drive, at least until you reach the traffic of Evans. We stopped for supplies at Walgreens, then had a sandwich at Firehouse Subs before heading back up to Lincolnton on GA-104 (Washington Road). The plan was to spend the afternoon with two of my favorite people…Aunt Pat (my Dad’s sister) and Uncle Ken Mays. The latter ended up being tied up on a job, so we spent the afternoon with Aunt Pat enjoying the weather on her back porch. Later we ventured out to sample the food and beer at Back Paddle Brewing. Yes, you read that right…there is now a BREWERY in Lincolnton, Georgia, and it’s pretty darned good! The beer selection was small, but varied, and all brewed onsite. MW and I had Spice Channel Porter (double yum!!), and Pat had the Maizeckle Cream Ale. The food menu was small, but had enough variety to find something for everyone. We shared the fresh made hummus, then I had Brisket Tacos, MW had the Back Nine Burger, and Aunt Pat had the Classic Burger. There was nothing left, so I’m assuming theirs was as good as mine. Finally, they have live music on the weekends, and we listened to Timothy Lee, an amazing guitar player with a good variety in his playlist. Altogether awesome outing! Stuffed and happy, we returned to Aunt Pat’s house and were able to visit with Uncle Ken for a bit before packing it in and heading for the hills.

Sunday found us up early again, MW enjoying the weather and me doing a little writing. After watching our church service online (Sneedville First Baptist Church), I put some white chili in the crockpot to put in the freezer for later. Most of the other campers cleared out, and the quiet on the lake was lovely. Later we headed over to visit with my step-mother, Satilla Guillebeau. Ryan and his crew were passing through on their way back from Florida and a visit with Alene’s family, so we were all together for a nice supper of Mexican Food at Mi Rancho in Evans, Georgia. The food was pretty good standard Mexican fare, and the company was great! I’m always sad when I leave my Boogers, though. By the time we made it back to Petunia and the chili was cool enough to put in the freezer, it was almost 11 PM…WAAAYYY past my bedtime. Of course, MW was snoring long before that. LOL

Booger side note…Booger Butt (Brennan), who just turned 13 in March, is already talking about getting a JOB! He said there were things he wanted, so he needed to work to get the money to buy them. That shows great drive, initiative, and an understanding of basic economics. So proud of him!

Baker Creek State Park is basically a campground in the woods on the lake. At one point there were three different campground loops, but now there is just one. The only other things there are a boat ramp, parking for boat trailers that looks rough, some picnic tables, and a picnic pavilion. The general appearance was run down, but they were working on it a lot, which was the downside when we were there. The entire campground area was torn up…lots of trees cut down, some laying around and others stacked in huge piles that they tried to burn without success; large piles of dirt/crusher run; some campsites closed for utility upgrades; and other campsites open but with thick layers of fresh dirt spread out on them (some on raised pads without adding to the retaining walls, so the dirt is tumbling off of the sides). I spoke to a fellow Grand Design owner (Imagine travel trailer) from South Carolina who has been staying there for years. He said that the state changed the way they fund the parks several years ago, making each one self sufficient. That caused the ones that were already upgraded to have more funds, and the ones that were run down to struggle to maintain, much less fix up. He said he thought funds from Covid stimulus were being used to work on it now. To us, it appeared that those in charge of the upgrades might not exactly be qualified for serious tree removal and grading. At least it didn’t look professional, and it appeared that they are creating some future, serious drainage issues. Time will tell. The Park Ranger said they had about 6 months worth of work left to do. When we arrived, there was actually a guy on an excavator smoothing out fresh dirt on our site. It was very loose and sandy, and honestly made us a bit nervous about backing a 10,000 pound trailer into it. It worked out okay, but we were thankful that we carry a long, wide board with us. There was no way our normal levelers would have done anything but sink into the loose dirt. We also had to put large boards under the stabilizers. All that said, the layout is nice with sites that include new picnic tables and fire rings nestled in the pine trees. All of the outer campsites have direct access to the water, and they allow you to pull your boat up to the shore, which is good for the boaters and fishermen. There are two bathhouses that are very old and in need of repairs and upgrades. Additionally, they were covered up in bugs, with dead ones all over the counter and floors. Like any campground on a lake, there was a lot of boat noise. This one is in close proximity to a bridge, so it also gets traffic sounds. We hope the repairs will make this the beautiful park it could be and plan to check it out again next time we are in the area. Note that some sites are a bit tight for larger rigs, so plan accordingly. For this stay, three nights cost us $88.29.

Squirrel…Baker Creek, like most campgrounds, has rules about the number of tents, RVs, vehicles, people, pets, etc., that can be on a site, and they don’t want you parking anything between sites in the trees. The guys next to us showed up ready to fish. All told, they had two tents, two boat trailers and three vehicles. We were sitting outside when the Campground Host came by to welcome them and said that they would need to park stuff only on the site pad, which wasn’t small, and were limited to two vehicles at the site. The guy groused a bit, saying that he had been staying there for years and had been pretty much left alone. The lady was very nice, but firm. After she left, he totally ignored everything she said, backed the trailers into the woods exactly where she told him not to, then parked all three vehicles on the pad. The guy also didn’t like that his water access was a little steep. We told him he could use ours, but then, without saying a word, he parked both boats at our other neighbor’s access point where his kids had been swimming. Like every issue, there are different points of view, but for me, the minute the guy did the opposite of what she said and used the neighbor’s area without asking, he was just being a jacka**. What do we say about jacka**es? DON’T BE ONE!!!

Monday morning we were up and out early for the trip over to Rockmart, Georgia, to hang with Mom and Dad2 (Larry). Since the object was just to get there, we headed over to Thomson and jumped on I-20 west. It is a pretty pleasant stretch until you get into the Atlanta traffic, but there really isn’t a better way without adding hours.

After the last long trip, we decided to get a stand-alone GPS and went with the Garmin RV 780. Now that we are moving again, we are trying to get used to the difference, and it’s a struggle. For instance, my iPhone gave us three options for a route once we were west of Atlanta. The Garmin gave us one of those options, but the second choice was significantly longer in both distance and time than any of the iPhone routes. Right now, neither of us it really trusting the Garmin, so it is going to take more practice for sure.

Upon arrival, we first had to walk across the dam and figure out a game plan for getting Petunia into her spot. Mom and Larry have a 33′ travel trailer, so we had to make sure we could get circled around and backed in within the space allowed. Thankfully, one of the large trees has been removed, so we were able to go off onto the grass and jackknife her a bit, then backed in easily. Bravo MW!! They had dinner all ready (roast beef, veggies, and cheese biscuits), and we relaxed for the afternoon.

Tuesday we spent the afternoon visiting with Aunt Pat (Mom’s baby sister) and Uncle Russ over lunch (hotdogs and turkey burgers with potato salad and chips). It’s always good to see them, and I always feel it is too short. The next morning Mom and I headed out for a lunch and mani/pedi while the boys worked on some stuff at the house.

Thursday, we headed over to Carrollton to check out Shuckers Oyster House. I had a Shrimp & Oyster Basket and MW had just the oysters. I started to order the raw oysters that my cousin Vicki Lynn swears by, but didn’t think I could handle both and really wanted the fried ones. (In fact, Vicki was there later in the afternoon. She is in the middle of moving south, and we thought she was already on the road. I was sorry we didn’t connect!) The food was delicious, but the portions seemed a bit small for the price…my basket had 5 really small oysters and 5 medium shrimp over a huge mound of fries. We ran a few errands after lunch, then went back to their place.

On Friday morning, I was wide awake at 3:30 AM and never got back to sleep. I HATE it when that happens! Our plan for the day was to hang with Uncle Roy and Aunt Mary Lou Guillebeau, first at Sea Breeze Seafood in Douglasville, Georgia, then at their home nearby. Uncle Roy is my Dad’s (William Guillebeau) big brother, and Aunt Mary Lou is not only his sister-in-law, but also his step sister (their parents, my Grandma Sara and Papa Peyton, married when Roy and Mary Lou were teenagers after their respective spouses passed away). We haven’t spent nearly enough time together since I’ve been grown and living in other places, but I always enjoy it when we do. I have such good memories from my childhood of hanging out with them and their girls, Diane, Patti, and Cathy. Uncle Roy even made a delicious dump cake with apples, cinnamon, and pecans for the occasion, served with ice cream…YUM! We had a good, long visit. Mom met them, and later my Dad, when she was about 12 years old, and they rented the house next door to hers in Brunswick, Georgia. I think she enjoyed catching up, too. Hard to believe they have been married for 63 years!! MW doesn’t think he’ll live long enough for us to make that number since we didn’t get married until we were 30. He’s not even guaranteeing 50, but I’m refusing to accept less! LOL. We ran a few errands on the way home. I was ready to crash, but managed to stay awake until bedtime.

Saturday was raining pretty hard and dreary in the morning, which nixed our plan to check out the bakery in Rockmart. Instead we hung around the house until lunch time, when it slacked off a bit, then headed back over to Hometown Pizza & Grill (where Mom & I ate on Tuesday). It is a small place but almost everything we’ve tried there was pretty darned good…wings, calzones, salads, subs. They make their pizza dough and bread fresh, and the variety is great. The only thing that was just “okay”, was Larry’s Mushroom and Swiss Burger. Additionally, the staff was very friendly and on the ball both days. Definitely worth a visit. We rode around a bit after lunch, then ran to Ingles before heading back home.

Like most Sundays, our final day at Mom’s started with inspiration from Sneedville First Baptist Church (thanks Pastor Dustin!). Larry announced Saturday night that we were going to Provino’s in Rome (Georgia, not Italy) for lunch, which no one argued with. We invited Aunt Pat and Uncle Russ, also. Honestly, that place is just about the best Italian food I’ve ever had, and the garlic rolls should not be missed! I had a baked cheese tortellini dish that was yummy! (After all of the food this week, I’m feeling totally piggy. I had lost 12-1/2 pounds, but they may be back! I just don’t have any willpower when it comes to good food…and sweets! Oh well. I’ll get back on the good eating bandwagon soon.) After lunch we rode around and looked at some of the neighborhoods that Mom and Larry have been scoping out before heading back to the house. We visited for the evening, then turned in to get an early start. I’m always a little sad when it gets close to time to leave, but happy that we had the time together.

Next up…Rocket City and Alabama Parks. See you on the road!


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