Saturday, April 9, 2011

Up and Down and Up and Down

We rose early trying to get a head start but a lot of people were already out the door before us. We did get on the road about 9 am waving goodbye to Myrna on the way out. It was another beautiful day; no wind which makes for a great drive. Our route took us North on 75 until Macon, then we needed to go off the highway onto state road 129 North through Athens to get onto 85 east. Gary suggested once to take 75 through Atlanta. I looked at him like he was out of his mind. We hated doing that drive in the CAR, much less with a 50+ foot long, 13 foot high rig. So, I planned this route not knowing what to expect. But there were a couple of my favorite 'red roads' on this route, so I was hoping it wouldn't be to difficult. We followed another rig most of the way and passed them when they stopped for gas. But they caught up with us at the rest stop during lunch. Then we lost them.
Our campground was Lake Hartwell Campground and Cabins near Townville, SC. We found it with no trouble, but the trouble began when the lady gave us directions to drive up Road D. We didn't like the look of it, but just when we started up, another camper came out waving his arms. He informed us that we did not want to go up that route, and that the lady made a mistake. To get back down, we had to unhitch the toad (difficult to do when bent up and sideways). But we did it, and Gary backed up then headed uphill to our site. I drove the Jeep up first to reconoiter and help into the spot. This was a long hill with a tight turn at the top, but the sites were level. This is us - third on the left.

It was mostly a year-round tenant CG, but they were awfully nice.
We set up partially, then took a walk to the office. Bobby (the arm waver) had already chastised the lady, so when we walked in, she was already apologizing. No harm done, so it's OK. They suggested we walk down to the lake, and see how huge it was.
The dogwoods are in bloom (something we miss in Florida) and the leaves are just coming out.
We were expecting bad weather with a break in between on Sunday before the really bad weather hit east Tennessee, so we were trying to plan our travel days. We decided that to leave Saturday morning and perhaps get all the way to Sevierville might be in order, but a call to them confirmed that getting there on Sunday (a day earlier) will alleviate driving in bad weather. Besides that, we had some mountains to go over.
We slept good, and got out around 9 am and into a great (cheaper diesel) station right at the entrance to 85. I hitched up the Jeep on level ground while Gary filled up with diesel. After he paid, he walked out with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts - oooooooh. Two of those were Gary's breakfast. Lucky duck. I abstained for a little while.
Back on 85, left onto 26 north and soon we were in North Carolina.
My parents lived in Columbus for 25 years and we were very familiar with the Saluda Grade. Please ignore the bugstuff on the windshield:

Going up from this end is tough for trucks, but going down this side is heart pounding. You are on the mountain side going up, but on the drop off side going down. And we're going to have to do that in a few months. Oh, joy.
Anyway, we made it with no problem and enjoyed the scenery.
Before we knew it our exit was up, and we turned off towards Maggie Valley and into our perfect campground: Creekwood Farm RV Park: Our site 84:
The mountains are all around us, and it was a beautiful day, so we unhitched and drove out to look for a lunch spot. At the end of the exit road, to the left there was a little place with 5 Sherriff cars parked in the lot called GiGi's.
Well, Gary knows that if law enforcement vehicles are parked in front of a restaurant, it's gonna be good food. Well, OK, then, turn left into the parking lot. We both had GiGi burgers 'all the way' and they were delicious! Gary chatted up one of the Sherriffs while we ate, and he gave us a couple of good restaurants in Pigeon Forge to eat and a museum to make sure to see. Thanks, bud!
After lunch we decided to take a ride to Maggie Valley and we stopped at a couple of gift stores. I found some Smokey Mountain Frog Jam (made the old fashioned way) from Asheville, NC. It contains two of my favorite flavors: figs and raspberries! Gary found a hat with GSM on it. Those are his initials so he needed that hat to remind him who he was, I guess. Mountains aren't the only thing that are big around here.
There must be some pretty big people, too.
We had fun talking with the locals, but I had wash in the laundry so we headed home. Severe weather will happen here tonight, but tomorrow will be beautiful. Well, this is long enough, so we wish you good night, sweet dreams.

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