2011 Travels travel blog

Carpe all alone on Tom Johnson's Rally Ground
It'll be different a week...

US221 is most direct, but not a straight shot

Welcome to North Carolina (and road construction)

A rare straight section of US 221

Did we mention US 221 is also hilly?

Blue Ridge Parkway
We drove the car along this windy stretch of scenic...

North Carolina's mountains from the Blue Ridge Parkway
A major storm just passed...

Jon Burkhart
It is always a treat to visit with Jon

Escapees Stuffing "Goodie Bags"

Rigs arriving and being parked

The SKP ACRE rally fills up

Rallymaster Brian Rose opens the rally

What's a SKP rally without happy hour?

Setting up for dinner

Sumptuous BBQ chicken dinner

Tech "guru" Mark answers questions

Piñata is a C.A.R.E fund raiser
Shaped as the Escapee's "Red Wagon" logo...

And the rally park is full

Saturday's bonfire drew a crowd

Smart Weigh, Escapees RV Weighing Program
Carpe is schedued for Monday

Thu, 21 Apr: Where to go, where to go??? We pondered that question following our Camp Freightliner class earlier in the week. Bob noted that there is an Escapees Rally at Marion, NC next week, so we thought it might be fun to attend that. We contacted the rallymaster who not only invited us to join them but also advised that we could come early and get the rally rate. We jumped at the chance and headed to Marion this morning.

Marion is almost due north of Gaffney as the crow flies, but there seem to be some mountains inconveniently in the way. We had an option of taking all Interstates (85, 26, & 40) or federal highways. We chose the latter as US 221 is a truck route and by taking it we drove 67.6 miles (some sixty miles shorter than the Interstates). The drive was uneventful and, with the exception of road work from the North Carolina line north to Spindale, not at all stressful. Traffic was very light and we made the trip in two hours including a stop at Pilot for a top off (diesel was "only" $3.869 in South Carolina). Storms were predicted all morning but we never got so much as a drop of rain on the windshield the entire drive.

We arrived at the rally grounds (Tom Johnson RV) shortly after noon and finally settled in around one. The first site we tried had no power at the pedestal so we had to relocate (teach us to level before testing power.) Excellent Verizon signal here so we're set until the rally ends 02 May (a week Monday).

We're having ongoing problems with the refrigerator lighting reliably on LP and now our port side (left) slide won't stay retracted (it is creeping out). Fortunately Tom Johnson is a full service RV dealer so we have an appointment to take Carpe in for service Monday. Hopefully they can take care of both problems without too much fuss (or major CaChinging!!!)

Sun, 24 Apr: Happy Easter to all...

Friday's weather was wet, windy, and miserably cold. The temps never went above 60°F, so we stayed inside most of the day running the heaters. We did get out to visit WalMart for essentials and a nearby Food Lion for victuals. The rain finally stopped in the evening but the cool weather stuck around.

Yesterday (Sat) we took a drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We're considering driving the coach north from here along the BRP, so we wanted to get a feel for it using the car. We drove south, which is quite hilly and curvy, but from here north it isn't quite so. We're still undecided and will make that decision after talking with RVers at the rally who've made the trip. Pix of our short jaunt are in the picture section.

Today we joined four other couples at a local BBQ for Easter buffet. We looked at the buffet and decided to order from the menu, which turned out to be more to our diet's liking. Now we're sitting here running the air conditioning as the temps are in the mid 80°F range. Go figger... Tonite is our first group happy hour. There are eight coaches here now, with many more due to arrive starting tomorrow. The rally "officially" starts Wed with more than 100 coaches expected.

Tomorrow we're taking Carpe in for service to see if we can get the nagging refrigerator & water heater gas lighting problems corrected. We are also experiencing a problem with the left slide, it won't stay stowed. It is "creeping" out from two to six inches which is not at all good. Since we're staying at a large dealer that carries and services Winnebago products, we hope they'll be able to assist us.

While the coach is being serviced we'll drive to Winston-Salem to visit with our dear friend from Maui, Jon Burkhart. We always enjoy visiting Jon and anticipate tomorrow will be no exception.

Mon, 25 Apr: We arose at "dark o'clock" and got the coach ready to move to the service facility. We managed to get there on time and by 0830 Carpe was checked in and we hit the road for Winston-Salem, about 120 miles to the east. We made good time in good weather on a fine road (I 40), and after stopping at Costco and Sam's Club we met our dear friend Jon Burkhart for lunch. Jon is one of our Maui friends who relocated to Winston-Salem a few years back, and we consider a very special treat to connect with him.

We left Jon at 1400 so we could make it back to Marion by 1630 and pick up our coach (lest the lock it up for the evening). We made it in plenty of time, but of course the coach wasn't ready... They finally brought it around and told us they'd only managed to fix the water heater and that the slide and refrigerator needed parts. We were told the parts would be ordered and we scheduled the coach back in for service next Monday, 02 May.

We returned to our space and found another coach was parked behind us and was sharing the same electric pedestal. When we plugged in our power protector warned us of low voltage and, sure enough, when we tried to use the air conditioners the protector tripped off. We talked with Phil, the "parking guy", who directed us to another site. We tested the power beforehand and found it OK. So, for the third time today we got the coach ready to move. Once in the new site (with excellent voltage) we pretty much collapsed with adult beverages and went to bed early.

Tue, 26 Apr: This was "bag stuffing" day and we arrived at the pavilion by 0800 to get the Goodie Bags stuffed for tomorrow's registration. Many folks showed up and the bags were stuffed in no time at all. RVs were pulling in regularly and the parking crew got their exercise helping everyone get sorted out and parked. Happy hour was much fuller than previous nites.

Wed, 27 Apr: The "official" start of the rally. Bob and I helped with the registration process and managed to be the first ones registered. It was fun meeting all the Escapees from all over (but predominantly the southeast).

The first event we attended was a talk by Mark, the Escapees RV "Guru". Mark is a pretty smart guy and really knows his way around RVs. Happy hour filled the pavilion, and it was soon time to set up the tables for dinner. Tonite's dinner was catered from a local BBQ, and the BBQ chicken (a full half chicken per person) was sumptuous. We each took two-thirds of our bird back to the coach.

Big storms were predicted overnite and sure enough, about half way through the after dinner talk (on the Blue Ridge Parkway) the rains came. We managed to get back to the coach during a lull, but the rains continued all nite. Altho we were under a tornado watch, nothing developed other than the rain and some lightning/thunder. We made out far better than many places in the southeast.

Thu, 28 Apr We volunteered at registration again today and again enjoyed meeting the folks. Mark again spoke, this time a general Q&A session which was very informative. Happy hour was even fuller than last nite, and dinner was on our own. The weather turned cool so we elected to stay in the coach and eschew the live music in the open pavilion.

Fri, 29 Apr: Most everyone went on a tour of the Biltmore House, which we decided not to join. Instead we did our laundry and picked up our mail (not at the same place). It is always sooooo good to come home with those clean duds.

We went over to the service facility to pay them what we owed for Monday's "service". It turned out that they didn't order the parts until Thursday, when they discovered some of the parts wouldn't be available by Monday. We are very disappointed in Tom Johnson's service. They have a good reputation, but our experience was not at all favorable. We would be hard pressed to visit here again for service.

We called around and found a Winnebago dealer in southeast Pennsylvania that is also an HWH certified service center. We have an appointment for next Friday to have them check the slide. They'll also let us stay at their facility while we're getting service.

Happy hour which included five raffle winners attempting to break a piñata that contains, in addition to the traditional candy, a $50 Walmart gift certificate. What more can an RVer lust after? None of the five broke it, so five more will try tomorrow.

Sat, 30 Apr: Another day with few obligations, which was just fine as we had much to do with end-of-month accounting and such. Just to make it interesting Quicken decided not to work so we had to scramble around to try and find a fix.

There was a nice bonfire in the evening which drew many folks. Since it got cool once the sun set the warmth was most welcome.

Sun, 01 May: We did some shopping this morning; Lowes, Wal*Mart, and Food Lion. We love to shop Sunday mornings as the crowds tend to be smaller.

Escapees has a Smart Weight program that brings portable scales to rally such as this and permits RVs to be "four corner" weighed. Four corner means we know exactly how much weight is on each wheel (or pair of duals in the rear). We are scheduled to have Carpe weighed when we leave tomorrow (Monday) morning. We're keeping our fingers crossed we haven't become too heavy.

Final happy hour and we won the grand door prize, a propane camp fire. Now, to be honest, that is not something that was never on our longest of lists of objects we lusted after. And, it is really HEAVY! So, after some discussion, we elected to offer it for auction with the proceeds going to Escapees C.A.R.E. It went for $125! Would you believe???

Dinner was catered, brisket with all the trimmings. For we dieters the "trimmings" consisted of green beans and slaw, which was plenty for us. Yummy brisket.

We're now back at the coach wrapping things up as we'll be getting up early tomorrow to prepare the coach for weighing and the road. And, we need to get our April Missive out...

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