Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tales from the Road: Somewhere on 1-95 Southbound

Before I get into the story behind that blog title, let me just say that the rest of our visit in Asheville was nice. We went shopping at Trader Joe's, a big deal for us since there TJ's has just begun breaking into the Florida market and there's not (yet) a store near either of our homes.  We bought a few groceries, then stopped at a local brewery for lunch, Wicked Weed. We loved the beer, the interesting decor, and the quote behind the name:

"Hops are a wicked and pernicious weed" ~  King Henry VIII, 1519


My spinach/cucumber/shallot sandwich was so good, and I appreciate the manager coming out to my table to inquire about my dietary preferences, and offer to substitute a vegan hamburger bun for the roll normally used. Excellent customer service!

Wicked Weed Sandwich & Fries photo 20131029_124801_zpsc87ccae4.jpg

Before we left, we asked the adorable waitress for a souvenir to take home, a big ol' "growler" filled with a local brew. A certain lucky friend of ours will enjoy that!

Wicked Weed Barmaid photo 20131029_132228_zpsa444ce12.jpg

We stayed in the motorhome for the remainder of the afternoon/evening, packing up and preparing for the next day's drive.  We took a cocktail over to the sitting area overlooking the city, said our goodbyes to the mountains and that gorgeous view.

Up bright and early yesterday morning, we were ready to roll by daybreak.  Now, I admit that after the experience of coming up those mountains, I was nervous as hell about the ride down! But I needn't have worried; Chip did an amazing job driving and by lunchtime we were out of NC and making our way through SC. The plan was to drive until Chip grew tired, then find an RV park nearby to spend the night. We had reservations already in Fernandina Beach, FL, but were prepared to stop earlier if needed. Well, the motorhome made that decision for us.

Somewhere in the middle of SC (mile marker 47, to be exact), Chip watched as the speedometer sped up to 100 mph (on its own!) and the then engine shut down completely.  He got out, checked the fluids, did whatever mechanical engineers do when something doesn't work properly, tried to start her up again and when that failed, called Good Sam's roadside assistance.

We decided to have it towed to Camping World in Savannah, where we bought it from.  The mechanics there had worked on it before and Chip felt comfortable with them, and we figured the closer we could get to home, the better, making the eventual pick-up easier.  At this point, I was so aggravated I didn't care where it went, and actually told Chip to just sell the thing.  Anyway, of course that was going to cost a lot considering the distance, to the tune of about $350.00.  Gulp.  What other choice did we have? Resigned to our fate, we packed up as much as we could into grocery and duffel bags, loaded all of the " valuables" into the car.


 photo IMG_20131030_150153_zps4265743f.jpg

Yes, as you can see, we still had our sense of humor! No wine was left behind, but I did have to leave some of our newly-puchased TJ's items in the kitchen cabinets. *pout*  Hopefully they'll be ok for a few days (weeks?) until we get back there. 

Chip unhooked the tow dolly from the RV, attached it to the car, and made our plans.  The GPS said it was going to take 4 hours and 15 minutes to get home, a do-able drive, thank goodness.  Had Loki not been with us, we might have stayed overnight in a hotel and waited to hear some news from the mechanics, but that wasn't an option so down the road we went. Since we were towing an empty dolly which tends to bounce all over the road when not weighted down, we had to drive slower than usual - 60mph, the whole way.

The trip took about 6 hours, and let me tell you, by the time we crossed the Florida/Georgia line I was almost shedding tears of joy! I was never so happy to see home in all my life! This was not a good vacation, to say the least, and though we made the best of it and enjoyed some happy moments, we both agreed that we will never do that again, at least not in our aging motorhome.  At this point, I'm ready to unpack my suitcase and keep my happy butt at home for a good long time. 

Alas, that is not to be as Chip is scheduled to work in south Florida on Monday.  We had planned on driving the RV down there since we'll be bringing the kitties this time, but that doesn't look possible now.  We're in a wait & see mode, but in the meantime I'm going to appreciate being home, for however brief a time, until we travel to the other home. Whew. 

I'm one tired gal this morning, but there's unpacking and, laundry to do and then trick-or-treaters to greet! There's a rumor that a certain daughter of mine may be driving over to visit on Saturday, keep your fingers crossed for me as that sure would lift my spirits!

Happy Halloween, Samhain blessings to my fellow Pagan friends.

Michele~

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tales from the Road: Asheville, NC

 photo 20131028_171401_zps69f2490c.jpg

I'm happy to report that yesterday was much better than the one before..whew! We started out the day with a visit to my favorite independent bookshop, Malaprop's.  I picked up a couple of new novels and enjoyed a big ol' bowl of soy latte.  Yum!

New Book, Fresh Coffee at Malaprops photo 20131028_102544_zpsfe0729cd.jpg

We then headed to Walmart for some "necessary" shopping, including an electric blanket. Thanks to Karen & Al for the suggestion, we had a much more comfortable sleep last night! 

Chip wanted to visit a local brewery, Wedge, but discovered it didn't open until 4 pm, darn! It was lunchtime so we stopped at a little spot  in the River Arts District, White Duck Taco Shop.   I was pleased to see a vegan dish on the menu, the Banh Mi Tofu Taco, delicious!

White Duck Taco Shop Menu photo 20131028_125946_zps64232612.jpg

White Duck Taco Shop2 photo 20131028_125956_zps67270a3b.jpg

White Duck Taco Shop photo 20131028_130217_zpsd606b379.jpg

Banh Mi Tofu Taco - White Duck Taco Shop photo 20131028_130623_zps9df907dd.jpg

We spent the afternoon at the campground, watched a movie and did a load of laundry. Here are a couple of pics from the park. As I said, the view is gorgeous but this type of campground is just not my cup of tea. I need more space between my neighbors, and a better walking path for Loki. The park is pristine, the owner is anal about keeping it so, has signs posted everywhere with instructions from where to walk, park, etc, right down to the exact amount of detergent to use in the washing machine. While I appreciate her efforts and can see that they pay off, I like a more relaxed environment while on vacation!

Campfire Lodgings Site3 photo 20131028_140303_zpsfe9a1a25.jpg

Campfire Lodgings2 photo 20131028_140450_zps39e2092d.jpg

Campfire Lodgings photo 20131028_140505_zpsa17e093b.jpg

Campfire Lodgings Site2 photo 20131028_140544_zpscc3e76fa.jpg

For dinner, we went to the place I've been looking soooo forward to: Plant, the only 100% vegan restaurant in Asheville. I wish I had better pics to show you but the lighting was dim and I refuse to use a flash.  Here's one of Chip enjoying his "wild" barbeque and a local beer.  I had the hazelnut encrusted tempeh (they were out of seitan) with whipped cauliflower & veggies.  Oh. My. Goodness. Absolute heaven! I wish we had room for dessert and considered taking it to go, but since most of the selections included ice cream that wasn't an option.


Chip at Plant photo 20131028_191732_zpsdbae37da.jpg

After dinner we stopped for a night cap at The Wedge, I had a hard cider and Chip a porter, both very tasty. No pics as it was too dark, but the atmosphere was so cool, a mix of locals & tourists.

We spent some time talking to a young man who happens to be a chef at a restaurant nearby, Table. Though they are known for their meats, he assured me that he makes an awesome vegan entree. Perhaps next time we visit the area we'll check it out.

While at Plant, I noticed that there's a Trader Joe's right across the street! I've heard so much about this store yet they are just starting to spread into Florida and, alas, no locations near my house. So today's agenda is to blow the last of my vacation budget...on groceries.  *grin*  I also want to pick up some little souvenirs for my daughters' boyfriends, so looks like it'll be a shopping day.

Tomorrow we are going home, so we'll probably spend the afternoon at the site, packing and preparing to get an early morning start.  It's been fun (well, mostly), but I'm ready to go home.

Have a wonderful day,

Michele

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tales from the Road: Cherokee, North Carolina

Indian Creek Campground Road photo 20131027_092253_zps8d2e7eb0.jpg

Well, I hardly know where to start with this blog post.  The past couple of days have been a mix of stress & worry, with a few sprinkles of fun thrown in.

Cherokee Indian Reservation photo IMG_20131026_154340_zps70da025c.jpg

First, our drive from Columbia to Cherokee, which should have taken about 5 hours max, ended up being an all day event.  We got a little bit lost, had some mechanical issues (apparently our RV doesn't like going up & down steep mountains for hours on end) and then once we finally got to our campground discovered that it was miles from the town of Cherokee.  Normally we don't mind driving a bit in order to be away from it all, but in this case, I would've preferred not to go 'round and 'round those narrow, winding roads, especially in the dark!

Indian Creek Campground Office photo 20131026_162511_zps8b7d7d78.jpg
Indian Creek Campground office

Indian Creek site photo 20131027_091310_zps755522a0.jpg
Indian Creek Campground site

I was so glad we had a good lunch because by the time we got set up in camp, we were starving and the dining options nearby were limited. I knew this in advance, having searched on Happy Cow, but I was so tired & hungry & stressed, I just wanted a good dinner. Instead, we had mediocre pizza from a chain restaurant, but they were willing to leave the cheese off for me, or so I thought. When my pie arrived, there was a little layer of cheese. *groan* Not wanting to wait another 30 minutes for a new order, I scraped off what I could and made the best of it. We did a bit of shopping, bought a couple of souvenirs, and called it an early night.

Yesterday morning we got up early, had breakfast and went to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.  What an amazing experience!  We were there for about 90 minutes and could have stayed longer, it was so interesting and educational, well worth the $9 entrance fee.

Cherokee Mural3 photo 20131027_101801_zpsa73092b9.jpg

Cherokee Mural2 photo 20131027_101821_zps5b094d26.jpg

Cherokees photo 20131027_102155_zpsbdb03242.jpg

Cherokee Tribe photo 20131027_103207_zps237d4b05.jpg

Afterward we did some shopping at Qualla Arts & Crafts right across the street. The store is filled with beautiful crafts made by local Indians, I wish I'd had more room in my budget to buy a handwoven basket! Instead we grabbed a few trinkets for my girls and just admired the other treasures.

We didn't visit the casino but did drive by and take a pic..

Harrah's Casino photo 20131026_154505_zps48812cf2.jpg

Back at camp, we packed up and headed out, had plans to stop in Waynesville to visit some old friends from Ormond Beach, Jon & Olga. They've been living in NC for a few years now and absolutely love it. They have a lovely home and wow, what a view!

Jon & Olga's house photo Jons_zps099cf512.jpg

Chip at Jon's House photo ChipatJons_zpsd4d39eaa.jpg

Unfortunately, we couldn't stay long, wanted to get to Asheville before dark. We made it to our campground with no issues, until we pulled in and attempted to unload the car off the dolly. Uh-oh. I don't know how to explain the situation, but somehow we ended up in such a position that the dolly straps were wrapped around the tires and, due to space constraints, Chip couldn't straighten the car out enough to unwrap them..something like that. Adding insult to injury, the campground attendant made sure to tell Chip how he did things wrong, was supposed to take the car off at the entrance..blah..blah...not helpful! I left it up to my engineer hunny to handle and after a few curse words muttered and much effort, he did. Whew! I'll post some pics from the site later, but so far I'm not impressed. While the view is gorgeous, looking out over the mountains and the city lights, the spaces are very close together and we the only thing keeping one from tumbling down the mountain is a little wooden fence. *gulp* Have I mentioned that I'm terrified of heights? We're not on that side of the park but still..it's disconcerting. I much prefer the beautiful state park we visited last year but there was no availability this time, so we're kinda stuck. At this point, we're going to play it by ear but might not be staying the three nights here we'd planned, and paid for. Chip and I will talk about it today, I'm sure, but we might be packing up tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the experience and make the best of the situation! Hopefully the wonders of Asheville will make up for the rotten times we had getting here!

Have a wonderful day,

Michele

Saturday, October 26, 2013

On My Hearth: Italian-Style Vegetable Stew

For some reason, the refrigerator in our RV keeps things super-cold, to the point of nearly freezing. This is great for some items (wine & beer come to mind) but not so good for fresh vegetables!  To prevent them from thawing and turning to mush, I cleaned out the little produce drawers and, inspired by Robin Robertson's recipe, came up with an Italian-Style Vegetable Stew.  This was perfect for last night's dinner, then this morning I put the leftovers back into the crock-pot, turned on Low and let it warm up while we were driving.  When lunchtime rolled around, we found a rest area, pulled in and enjoyed a hot bowl of soup and a sandwich.  Yum! This beats fast food any day.

I don't have exact measurements since I was basically just chopping and tossing, but here's a general idea of what went into the crock:
 

 

Slowcooker Italian-Style Vegetable Stew


Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or the equivalent of basil, oregano, etc)
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery ribbed, chopped
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium potato, diced 
  • 28-ounces can whole plum tomatoes and their juices, squeezed through fingers to break apart (diced tomatoes would also work)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker, cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours
  2. Taste, adjust seasonings, remove bay leaves.
  3. Serve with fresh crusty bread, enjoy!

You could add a bit of small-shaped cooked pasta at the end, or some leftover spinach, kale, etc. if desired.

We're on the road, should be in Cherokee, NC soon!

Michele~

Tales from the Road: Columbia, South Carolina ~ Day Two

Well, I'm pleased to report that yesterday was much better than the day before! After breakfast, we moved the RV to the new site, perfect! We set up house...

"Dining Room" photo 20131025_124213_zps6954b816.jpg

Prepared for Fire photo 20131025_125245_zps13d376c4.jpg

and then headed into town for some adventure. First, lunch at Lamb's Bread Vegan Cafe where I enjoyed Southern Barbeque, vegan style!

Lamb's Bread Vegan Cafe Sign photo 20131025_134058_zpscf3af77d.jpg

Vegan "Shortribs," Yellow Rice, Collard Greens, Mac & "Cheese" photo 20131025_135614_zpsd064a859.jpg

and Chip gobbled up his "BLT" which he claimed was one of the best he'd ever eaten!

Chip enjoying his vegan BLT photo 20131025_140014_zpsc85db73d.jpg

The restaurant was decorated so beautifully, we enjoyed every minute of the experience, Chip especially..

Many Heads Better than One? photo 20131025_134442_zps0f3abe2f.jpg

Artwork3 photo 20131025_134454_zps19969860.jpg

Artwork2 photo 20131025_134508_zpsb9615b63.jpg

After lunch we stopped by the historic district and took a tour of the Robert Mills House & Garden. Our guide, Robert, was a charming elderly gentlemen who was so knowledgeable about the house as well as the area. No pics were allowed inside but here's Chip making a grand entrance. What a lovely home and such a shame that the family who had it built never had the chance to live there.

Entering the Robert Mills Home photo 20131025_144735_zpsd9aa5116.jpg

The garden was decked out for Halloween, including an adorable scarecrow exhibit.

Entering the Scarecrow Exhibit & Gardens photo 20131025_155848_zps6c78b2d0.jpg

Marilyn Scarecrow photo 20131025_155914_zps28669f4e.jpg

Pirate Scarecrow photo 20131025_155929_zps2c4aac4b.jpg

Wizard of Oz Scarecrows photo 20131025_160015_zpsf4ef9f52.jpg

Back at the campground, we had a couple of drinks by the fire..

Happy Hour by the Fire photo 20131025_184052_zps11c74eed.jpg

Dinner was a big bowl of veggie soup while watching Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All on DVD, thought it was appropriate considering our location, right?

This morning we'll pack up and make our way to Cherokee, North Carolina. I can't wait to get up into those mountains!

Have a wonderful day,

Michele

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tales from the Road: Columbia, South Carolina


Well, I gotta tell you, yesterday was not a good day! First thing in the morning, when taking Loki for his walk, I found a "hot spot" on his back.  Damn it! He had one of these before, and in addition to being very painful & itchy, it can progress quickly and become more serious.  Last time, I used an over-the-counter treatment which worked well so off to the pet store we went.  While we were out, we stopped at Target because, being a Florida girl (and a high heel addict), I didn't pack the proper footwear for this vacation.  My sweetie was kind enough to buy me not just one but two pairs of boots, and a matching hat.  Ha!


Target Shopping photo 20131024_105718_zpse58f5942.jpg

We also bought this snazzy new harness for Loki, doesn't he look handsome?!

Loki's new harness photo IMG_20131024_140417_zps8a4daac2.jpg

One more stop at Whole Foods for some Rescue Remedy, thinking it might help calm Loki and prevent further chewing on his sore, and we were on our way. At this point we were way behind schedule, and still had to stop for gas. No problem, we'd still arrive in Columbia in time for dinner. Or so we thought. Apparently I had the wrong address for the campground and our GPS didn't recognize the name of the place, so we got off the highway way too soon, ended up driving through town during 5 o'clock traffic..groan..didn't check in until 6 pm. Adding insult to injury, our reserved site was much too narrow for our motorhome, so we drove around in the dusk trying to find a more suitable site. Finally, Chip located one and we started to unload. We decided not to do a complete hook-up, just plug in the electric & plumbing and call it a night. While Chip was taking care of that, I took Loki for a walk and discovered this...oops!

oops! photo 20131025_073226_zpsb9b0bc2c.jpg

The park ranger drove by and gave us the ok to stay here for the night, we'll move to another spot this morning. We heated up some leftover soup for dinner, and since we were all exhausted, hit the sack early.

Today's plan is to, first thing, move the RV and then explore Columbia. Loki's already been on his morning walk and is now enjoying watching the other dogs stroll by.

Site #1 photo 20131025_073204_zps4fb56a45.jpg

Doggy in the Window photo 20131025_073246_zps17c8aaa1.jpg

Oh, and you might have noticed this cute little item from our Target trip, makes a perfect front step mat!

front step photo 20131025_073131_zpsfbfe15dd-1.jpg

Well, I'd better make some breakfast and ready myself for our little move across the park.  Hoping today is better for us, it has to be, right? At least the weather is gorgeous!

Columbia Weather photo WeatherColumbiaSC_zpsc46ab5b6.jpg


Have a wonderful day,

Michele

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tales from the Road: Savannah, Georgia ~ Day Three

Yesterday was, as expected, a quiet day.  Chip ran a couple errands in the morning (Home Depot, etc) while Loki and I held down the fort at "home."  We had leftovers for lunch, then decided to hike one of the trails here in the state park.  We decided on the Big Ferry Loop, about 3 miles through the forest and marshland.

Trail Hike1 photo 20131023_141542_zps56f7cee7.jpg

Trail Hike2 photo 20131023_142442_zps9c7dc94d.jpg

Trail Hike3 photo 20131023_143827_zps69fcf02e.jpg

Trail Hike4 photo 20131023_143924_zpsf1445d45.jpg

Trail Hike6 photo 20131023_143940_zps9066ea60.jpg

Trail Hike8 photo 20131023_145052_zpse283bcde.jpg

Trail Hike9 photo 20131023_145114_zpsc4e1fb14.jpg

Trail Hike11 photo 20131023_145910_zps1507ea8b.jpg


Well, that worked up quite an appetite! We got cleaned up, put Loki in the motorhome for a well-deserved nap, and headed out to dinner. The Congress Street Social Club had the perfect menu for us - a black bean burger could be substituted for any of the meaty varieties. I chose the Santa Fe which included cabbage, guacamole and jalapeno. Soooo good!

Patio Dining photo 20131023_182226_zps57dece51.jpg

Santa Fe Black Bean Burger w/Cabbage, Gauc & Jalapenos photo 20131023_183243_zps9307d4a3.jpg

After dinner we hopped into a hearse..yep, you read that right! Savannah is considered one of the most haunted towns in the country, so one can choose from several ghost tours. We decided on the Hearse tour, such fun! It was too dark to take any good pictures, but you can learn more about it here. It was well worth the $15 per person charge, would highly recommend.

Today we'll be packing up the RV and headed toward Columbia, South Carolina.

Have a wonderful day,

Michele