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Welcome to the travels of Doug and Nada. We love the Lord and are traveling full-time in our motorhome with our German Shepherd, Homer. Homer is the star attraction wherever we stop and he gets us talking and sharing with many people. DON'T FORGET: YOU CAN ENLARGE EACH PHOTO BY CLICKING ON THE PHOTO! The newest blog post is at the top and they go back in time as you scroll down. If you want to see each photo larger, you can just click on the photo and it will enlarge. If you decide to leave a comment, don't forget to sign it so we know who left it. ;-) Folks: This site is under continual construction as we travel and see this beautiful country. Check back for more updates and photos. Thanks for visiting with us! May God bless your day!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Quaker Steak & Lube in Nascar territory 4/7

We found an interesting restaurant - one which we had been in in Erie, PA several years ago. It is Quaker Steak & Lube and it is designed after Quaker State Motor Oil which is made in PA. The theme is obviously motor vehicles. It is quite fitting that it was just down the road from the NASCAR Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.

The restaurant looks like a garage and you actually eat at tables under large lifts that have various cars sitting on top. The walls are filled with all kinds of memorabilia and everything is functional. Our onion rings came stacked on a car antenna. I took several photos with my iPhone but due to the lack of interior lighting and lots of bright windows some of the photos don't look so great. You can click on the individual photos and see them larger.

We even spied a poster with a quote from our hometown newspaper. And for my brother, the corvette owner, I took a horrible photo of the red corvette we ate under. Also, for my brother, the retired Mobil exec, I took the photo of the old Mobil horse symbol which I remember seeing on Mobil stuff when you were in Portugal.

Doug had to have a photo for his friend Bill Milchek about "Old guys rule." Since I'm not an old guy, I don't know why that is important to these old guys!!! Bill, please notice that the poster also has a big fish on it!!! And that couple we talked about meeting in our entry on Red Bay, AL - boy, did he have fish stories of fishing in Alaska! He shipped home almost 200 lbs. of fish he caught! Like you, he liked to canoe and kayak. In fact, he had an alligator story from kayaking that river in Florida where we saw the alligators. He said when the alligators see a canoe or kayak coming in deep water, they dive deep and come up fast under the boat and flip the people out. So, according to him, the morale of the story is to kayak in shallow water where they can't get the speed under you to flip you!

Travel Red Bay, AL to Statesville, NC - 4/5 & 6

It took us a day and half to travel across northern Alabama (Nada even drove part of this leg!!), through Chattanoga, TN, Knoxville, and then on I-40 to Statesville, NC just north of Charlotte. It was a drive that was full of twists and turns and up and down mountains plus through 2 tunnels on I-40. The first photo is in northern Alabama (of a unique bridge, of course!) which reminded us so much of home: Rolling mountains, lots of trees, and rural America. We ran into rain and fog when we hit Knoxville so we stopped about an hour east of Knoxville. I wanted to see the mountains we were about to go through! The next morning the rain had stopped but it wasn't sunny when we set out. The mountains were beautiful. The Redbud trees and dogwood were in bloom and the azaleas and rhododendron were just starting to bloom. We have figured out we are not doing this kind of trip again next year. Next year we will go to Texas or the southwest. We have endured spring time allergies since February! When we arrive in central Florida in February, the trees were just budding and the azaleas were just coming into bloom so we endured spring allergies there for 3 weeks. Then we went north for a week in Georgia and hit their tree budding and blooms opening. Then we went Tampa where more was opening in bloom. Then we went to Alabama where it was just starting to bloom, and now we are in North Carolina where, you guessed it, the trees are budding and the blooms are popping open. At this point, Doug is about to scratch his eyes out and Nada has a wheezing to her frequent cough! Next year there will be one spring time in our life not 5!!!!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tiffin Motorhome factory, Red Bay, AL 3/30-4/5

Since Oma was not visiting with us, we decided to make a change in plans and we rolled in our awnings and headed up I-75 on Saturday, March 30th heading for northwest Alabama to see the Tiffin motorhome factory where our motorhome was made. The only problem was we happen to hit I-75 with thousands of other folks who were exiting Florida after spring break and the end of March when most RV snowbirds head north. It was a parking lot moving at 5 to 15 MPH! Doug got on the CB and the truckers and southbound motorhomes were telling us it was like this since they left Atlanta, 6 hours away! We decided to take some back roads so we headed up the west coast. Even those roads were slow and we got as far as Albany, GA for the night. The next day we pulled in to the Tiffin Campground at the factory in Red Bay only to find that many of the snowbirds make the factory service facility there spring and fall stops for maintenance on their motorhomes on their way south or north. It is a first come, first serve service department so we got our names on the list and then proceeded to enjoy a few days of down time getting to know the area, the other owners (there were over a hundred of us in the campground), and touring the factory. We met a fun Christian couple (who beat us playing dominos several times) from New York who had spent 6 months last year in Alaska. Their stories made us want to forget everything and head north! Met another couple from IL who both retired early from the FBI. He was an agent. She was in data processing. Too much stress. They had lots of good stories to share. We toured the factory and saw how they put the motorhomes together. The first photo here shows a chassis starting on its journey down the assembly line. The second photo shows the walls be built. The third photo is a front end cap and the fourth photo is a fiberglass roof about to lifter to the top of a coach. The week went by fast and soon we rolled in the patio and awnings and headed to Charlotte, NC.

Alligators, turtles, and strawberry shortcake

Our friend, Kevin, from home kept asking us if we have seen any alligators yet so we set out to satisfy Kevin! We asked some locals where we could find a real live, wild, alligator. We got some looks asking that question since I guess that would be like asking a Pennsylvanian where do you go to see a ground hog, possum, or deer! Finally in frustration, I went to the concierge and asked. She directed us to a county park where the "river" was know to have lots of alligators. The "river" turned out to be narrower that the Swatara Creek back home but it did contain alligators and at least one was a REALLY BIG alligator. Honest, Kevin, it was. We know because we saw it as we drove in and parked but we were never able to get close enough to take a photo so poor Kevin will have to wait for the Rothgaber's gator!!! The park had this beautiful mile-long boardwalk path. I had visions of a big alligator jumping up on the boardwalk and snitching my Homer! Didn't happen, though. We did, however, see these three turtles sunning on a log which I had never seen something like this before. Unfortunately, I forgot to load Photoshop on the laptop before we left home so I can't zoom in very well to show them.

We also found we were camped in the middle of the Florida strawberry growing area AND it was strawberry season!!! Yipeeee! The locals told us to go to Parkesdale (between exits 19 and 17 off of I-4 east of Tampa and west of Orlando. Here is the link: http://www.parkesdale.com/strawberry_shortcake/strawberry_shortcake.htm
They had the best strawberry shortcake or strawberries over vanilla ice cream we have ever eaten (including my mom's homemade recipe for shortcake!) We went back several times that week. And cheap... It was only $2.50 for a soup bowl of shortcake or $2.50 for a banana boat of ice cream topped with strawberries. What a delicious find that place was!

Sunshine Skyway & Fort DeSoto

In keeping with our past study of bridges when Josh was doing his high school studies we went to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge near St. Petersburg, FL. We actually went to Ft. DeSoto so we could see the bridge and discovered one of the most beautiful and deserted beaches we have ever seen. Fort DeSota sits at the tip of the peninsula of St. Petersburg guarding the inner harbors for St. Pete and Tampa areas. Fort De Soto Park was named America’s Top Beach by TripAdvisor, the world's largest online travel community. The fort was used as a bombing and gunnery range during World War II. It is now a county park after periods of being under US and state control over the last 60 years. It is a lovely location and even had a doggie beach where Homer got to play in the sand and water (He doesn't care for water that much, though). The Sunshine Skyway Bridge, spanning Florida's Tampa Bay is the world's longest bridge with a cable-stayed main span, with a length of 29,040 feet - exactly 5.5 miles.

Back to Florida

From the Georgia Rally, we headed back to Williston, FL where Doug spent several more days selling photos and Homer and I held down the home front. This cardinal kept insisting on sitting on the window edge of the motorhome and singing. If the window was closed, he would keep banging against it trying to chase off his reflection.

From Williston, we headed down to the Tampa area. Our original plan was for Doug's mom, Oma, to fly down and spend a week with us in central Florida. But, Oma got sick and was just getting out of the hospital so her visit had to be canceled. We decide to go anyway and we headed to Seffner, FL just east of Tampa. We stayed at a campground that a huge RV dealer, Lazy Days, has and it was a lovely campground. They even fed you breakfast and lunch each day free of charge. These beautiful bromeliads are in the cafe where breakfast and lunch were served. The white lilly flower was outside the the campground office. While at Lazy Days, we both took a driving course in how to drive the motorhome. We learned lots of good hints in both the class time and the actual driving time and even got certificates of passing the course! Doug can now back our bus into a parking space on a dime - Nada still needs a little more practice to get on the dime! While at the campground we met a lovely French couple from outside of Quebec City. Francois reminded us so much of our Josh. Looked a lot like him and was a real motorhead. He developed a track system for ATVs and Gators where bulldozer-like tracks replace the wheels) so they can run in sand and snow. His product is sold in 25 countries and he and Suzanne just returned from setting up dealers in China.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Georgia Ag Center - Good Sam Rally

The Georgia Agriculture Center in Perry GA was the setting for the national Good Sam Rally. Over 4000 RVs converged for 5 days of seminars, 400 vendors, and to view every kind of RV made. Having served on the CHAP Board for many years and having the annual convention at the PA Farm Show Complex we had a feeling for the challenges these organizers faced. All of our CHAP friends will recognize the blue and white draping and stanchion chain at the registration area. The complex covered almost 200 acres and the buildings were spread out so we did get our exercise. One nice thing was this facility was much more conducive to having seminars than the Farm Show Complex is. These two photos are of one of the seminar rooms showing the sound absorption panels which are on the concrete walls and hanging in rows way up in the rafters - A great help to the sound. We wished the Farm Show Complex would be so progressive! Doug had to test the NASCAR simulator car. NASCAR is VERY BIG in the south! And we found many motorhomes that our son, Josh, would love to drive - Very big trucks! This one was quite opulent with a marble bath tub and heated marble floors.