Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Being Home Part I

When Bill found out that he would have a week off from work the week before Easter we debated driving the rig all the way from Falls Church, Virginia to Pickerel only to drive back to Stamford, Connecticut for his next Target store. I had to return to Wisconsin to get my driver's license renewed as the state of Wisconsin would allow me to get an eye exam at my own expense and then mail them the paperwork. What they couldn't seem to comprehend is that General Delivery IS an address. They flat out refused to send my new license to either the house in Pickerel or to a General Delivery address. Which was somewhat ok as I did have to see my doctor in order to continue getting my fibromyalgia meds. So we left Virginia on Wednesday, April 13 after Bill and Junior had gotten a few hours sleep. That actually put us ahead of schedule as we had not know how many days each of this new Target project would take so I had not made any of our appointments until Tuesday the 19th to be on the safe side especially as along the way Bill had to stop in Terre Haute Indiana, downtown Chicago and Kenosha to do initial inspections on three Dollar Trees.

After 2 1/2 long days of driving we finally arrived home on Friday night the 15th. We had added two additional stops -- one in Kenosha so I was sure to have my driver's license for the weekend and not have to wait in line on a Monday at the DMV in Rhinelander and one at Wendt's for the first fish fry we have had in over a year. We were so glad that the quality of perch at Wendt's had not changed one bit although it is up to $35 for 30 oz. Bill and I ordered the 30 oz dinner and split it and it was gone in short order. This was Michelle and Junior's first Wisconsin fish fry and they really liked it. We had told them many times that as far as fish goes catfish can't touch perch fish fry with a 10 foot pole. Unfortunately later in our visit we have to say we were disappointed in the fish at the Darboy Club. Wendt's definitely does not have to worry about them as far as competition -- Wendt's blows the Darboy Club out of the water.

So good news was that we were home. The bad news was more than we had bargained for. We knew that there had been mice in the house -- where would you go in winter in Pickerel? But the mice were the least of the problems. Pretty much everything motorized was broken. The boiler had gone out sometime over the winter and anything that had a little bit of water in it froze up. That includes the boiler itself, the woodburner, the hydrogen peroxide water filter system, the washer, the dish washer, the emergency generator and to top it off, the hot tub heater. I had been dreaming of the hot tub for weeks and was not able to get into it even once. Bill repaired the boiler and the woodburner as we did need the heat but we decided to leave the rest to fix for when we can get back and stay for some time. No sense fixing something that would just turn around and break again next winter.

Our friends Al and Jan, who Bill met while working at Amazon in 2009, had done a remodel of their Adventurer and posted pictures on Facebook. It got me very much wanting to redo our rig so that my paperwork and office stuff would be more organized.

My organization nemesis has always been paper and living in the rig definitely did not improve the situation. The bench seating was never used except on one side for my desk. The sofa and Bill's chair by the door were done in equally ugly colors and patterns and the walls were white with confetti-like streamers of blue, green and pink.  Granted our rig is 13 years old but I want to believe that good taste is good taste. Even rigs that I see that are brand new are gorgeous on the outside but the inside is all chrome and mirrors. Why can't RV interiors be done with specific styles that are somewhat attractive? Granted our style is "Retro North of Hwy 64" but it fits us and suits us much better than the white confetti did.

Because weight is always paramount in an RV along with something being anchored down, we decided to go to the IKEA in Woodbridge Virginia while we were out there and see what they had. Truth be told I had never understood the fascination with IKEA but I sure do now! I am a convert! The store was huge and everything set up to give you ideas as well as step by step instructions on how to put together the items in various combinations.  We brought the desk and bookcase back in the back of the truck as most everything at IKEA is sold unassembled.

We had started to lay peel and stick tiles to the floor last year because the carpeting was way, way too ugly and way too hard to keep clean with the monsters. Unfortunately we waited too long to buy the entire amount of tiles from Lowe's and they had discountinued the style. So we had to choose a new one which you see on the upper part of the floor slide. We will be ripping out the older stuff on the lower level so it all matches. And this time we will do it right away! So our first chore after arriving home besides trying to repair what needed repairing in the house was to rip out the old sofa and chair.

Then I went to work with a gallon of khaki colored paint and in two coats voilĂ ! The ugly white confetti walls were gone. I am not quite all the way organized but am well on my way compared to using the bench seating. Pumpkin and Dozey are not too thrilled that their sofa is gone but right now we have quilts on the floor between the bookcase and the driver's seat for them until we can find a small enough something to fit in that space. We are thinking about getting pet beds but I don't think
Dozer will use one as he likes hogging ours too much except when it is just too hot. This project took quite some time while we were home but it is so worth it that I feel more comfortable and things aren't all over the place. If we have to live in it we want to be comfortable in it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

That Crazy Town - Nashville Tennessee

While in Nashville we had been thinking of doing some sightseeing but from what I read on TripAdvisor.com the Opry isn't what it used to be and the Country Music Hall of Fame focuses a lot of attention on old time country and that just wasn't working for us so on Friday April 1 we decided to go down to downtown Nashville check out the music that was playing in the multitude of bars that play live music. As we had the RV in the airport parknig we took the shuttle to the main terminal and caught a taxi from there to downtown. That decision came from deciding that $25 one way was a  lot cheaper than checking out the food in the Nashville jail.

We had the driver let us out near the convention center and then we started walking. In the following video you will see just some of the street views from the area around the convention center including the Wild Horse Saloon which was only in restaurant mode when we stopped. We had also passed by the Cadillac Ranch and it was closed so we didn't get a chance to go in there. The three best stops were Coyote Ugly which you will see at the end of this video. Our two favorite stops, Buck Wild and Tootsie's which will be in the later videos with some of the live music. I really did love this sign that was behind the bar at Coyote Ugly!

We stopped at Buck Wild towards the end of the afternoon and saw they were doing karaoke. Not just amateur karaoke but some up and coming names were there too. The bartender, Kristen, was from Chicago and was singing when we entered. When Bill went up to get drinks from the bar she got them for him and never missed a beat. She was very good but then another singer sent around the tip jar as she wouldn't sing for free -- and did she have a voice.. Her name is Casey Simpson and she was actually a finalist on Nashville Star. In my opinion anyone who can sing Pat Benatar and sing it well has one hell of a voice. She is waiting to catch a break to hit the big time and as the song says, "everybody plays and everybody sings". She is planning on trying out again for American Idol and I would definitely be voting for her! We stayed there for quite some time and just had a ball. Junior decided (after a nominal amount of beer) to get up on stage and try singing. Well, we aren't sure but we pretty much think that he didn't realize that in karaoke he needs to actually SING the words out loud! It seems he forgot.


After leaving Buck Wild we headed over to Tootsie's which is about the most famous bar downtown. It was the starting place for many country artists including Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline and others. I have always wanted to learn how to play the fiddle -- NOT violin music but bluegrass or Celtic type fiddle music. The band that was playing, which we never caught the name of, had an awesome female fiddler who couldn't have been more than 25 years old but boy could she "rosin up the bow"! In all, it was one of the best nights out that we have had for a long, long time. I would recommend that everybody check out the music scene downtown if you are ever in Nashville.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Raleigh NC to Nashville TN

On Monday night we moved to the long term parking area at Raleigh-Durham airport as Bill and Junior had to fly to Alburquerque early Tuesday morning. It worked out really nice as they were able to catch a shuttle in the parking lot and I didn't have to fight early morning commuter traffic. Later that morning Michelle and I left to head to Nashville to pick them up on Thursday night. On Tuesday we made it as far as Iron Duff North Carolina and stayed at a Pilot truck stop.

Wednesday morning saw us driving westward in the rain and clouds. We passed quite a few of the Nascar trailers on I-40 heading back home to North Carolina. The 48 and the 20 cars stick in my mind although there were others that were just going by too fast to see when driving a large vehicle in bad weather in the moutains. We made it to Mt Juliet Tennessee stayed in the Walmart parking lot. We then moved to to the Nashville airport afternoon and stayed in the economy lot on Thursday and Friday nights after Bill and Junior's flight arrived around 7:10 pm on Thursday.

While posting our "Go Back" list a while ago I had forgotten about two other locations that we do want to spend more time in. I had forgotten the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area of Tennessee as well as the Parker/Lake Havasu area of Arizona. Now with being in North Carolina for some time we are adding anywhere from Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge Tennessee to Asheville North Carolina as being an area we want to explore further.

1. Heber Valley in Utah

2. San Diego (well MY list at least as Bill keeps up about the traffic!)

3. Gulf Coast of Mississippi

4.Gulf Coast of Texas

5.Black Hills of South Dakota

6. Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge Tennessee to Asheville North Carolina

7. Parker/Lake Havasu Arizona

So there is our list after visiting 25 of the 50 states so far. Of course, places like the UP and Northern Minnesota are also on it, just not listed as they are close to home obviously.

I decided to try and eat some Southern food items when we went to various restaurants lately. At a small BBQ joint we stopped at for lunch one day I tried a baked Vidalia onion dish. Now I love onions but I found out I don't like them really sweet, with lots of butter and bread crumbs on top. Then at a Southern style buffet restaurant I tried the turnip greens....they seem to be somewhat of an acquired taste. The server told me most people put vinegar on them in order to eat them. Hmmmm.....I still haven't had the chance to try the collard greens or the black eyed peas. At the same Southern buffet there was a dish called fat back. When I asked the server what is was she said pig fat sliced thin and the deep fried....that too, I believe, would be an acquired taste! Why is everything fried and highly salted down here?