Okay, so it’s been awhile! I fell out of touch trying to update the blog as we moved through some important areas and staying up late visiting with friends and family. Not to mention, and I’ll admit right away, we’ve been consumed by shopping. Shopping you might ask? Well, yes, we’ve been looking for a new home (I’ll explain more below and in the next post). This post will be an extensive update going back quite awhile as I go through some of the areas we’ve visited over the last month or so. Starting from awhile ago…..
We had a great time in Virginia Beach even thought it was brief and full of rain. We were able to visit with some friends from Melissa’s High School years, Mari and Andy. We had a chance to hang out and share some good drinks. I’ll have to say, I was treated with some great beers while visiting their home while we enjoyed our visit. For the beers aficionados out there, see the lineup to the right. I was also grateful to have a dinner with an old teammate of mine, Josh Fulton, who I got to catch up with and ramble about our past a little Virginia Beach was nice overall, but we didn’t get to enjoy the city much because of the rain. Not to mention, we were pretty exhausted over all from all the big city traveling.
We’ve been looking forward to our visit in Asheville because it’s a great place and seemingly more our speed. It’s a very liberal town with tons of character, people and buildings. Our campsite was definitely a major bust here though. It was likely our hardest area to find a campground prior to arriving and we got there to a reserved site, unbeknownst to us, on the road and super small. We had a great time walking the town and seeing the area quickly, but didn’t do what we expected to do here which would have included more hiking and biking. Although we did do one hike that Melissa explains it as “Pretty unremarkable.” Time was short though, and the highlight was certainly visiting with Jeremy McDonnell and his family. A co-captain with me our Senior years at UT, we have some history as teammates and relay members together. It was awesome hanging out, getting to know his family and visiting their amazing home in the mountains in Weaverville, NC. A quick shout out to a couple of notables in the area. We had a great meal at The Curry House, the Gingers Revenge was to die for as the ultimate Gluten Free option for Melissa, and Burial was an awesome brewery.
Cades Cove – Great Smokey Mountains Nation Park
A place I camped when I went to UT, it was cool to go back and enjoy time in the GSMNP. It almost fell like home again, as we also spent time in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We did an awesome hike to Abrams Falls, which was the kids longest and most monumental hike they’ve ever done. They ultimately did a 5 mile hike this day and I’m very happy to report, the whining and/or crying was essentially 0 and the waterfall was a good one. What a great hike! Pigeon Forge was a fun day with the kids as we spent time playing. Gatlinburg the next day was just how I remembered Gatlinburg, except all the people. I had been used to insurmountable
crowds while usually visiting there but during the time there, it was relatively quiet. The kids enjoyed watching the candy shops making taffy, we enjoyed taste testing Ole Smokey Moonshine while the kids danced to some great Bluegrass music, shopping for some stuff on the strip, and eating some good BBQ for dinner. Ultimately we loved our stay in Cades Cove even though it was a little past peak with the leaves gone and the weather chilly. The kids also earned their Jr Range badges here.
Knoxville, TN – Long Update
I’ll start out as saying, this was a huge highlight for us! We started our stay here with a trip to Camping World…..our first shopping experience for our new home. Although we have spent time online, this was our first real visit to a dealership. I guess you’d say this really got our juices flowing. My parents came in for a long weekend visiting the area as well, so it was great to have them on-board with a lot of our plans. First off, on Friday, we walked the campus. It was nothing like what it was when I was there. Not only have they made signficant changes to the campus layout including a Mall Walk, but both places I lived on campus are no longer there, Gibbs Hall & Andy Holt. In addition, the new pool which I haven’t ever seen, is up and beautiful. I was fortunate enough to take part in the Alumni meet and swim. Of course, I couldn’t match the speed of the young guys, but I feel as though I saved face and it was certainly great to swim in the new pool and compete a little. The kids loved seeing the
events and the pool The pictures show them on top of the 10M diving platform just before heading into the rafters and signing my name into the rafters to take part in our traditional “Ghost’s in the rafters.” Saturday we enjoyed the tailgate where I was able to introduce my family and also catch up with some old teammates. The game was so much fun and even though we didn’t do well and it poured rain like you’ve never seen,
it was still a great experience for everyone to enjoy the game and even meet Smokey! Sydney had such a good time she proclaimed UT was the best place ever! The kids even started learning “Rocky Top” and have still been singing it since. Great sense of pride in this family, no matter how bad the team was. The tailgate and other nights throughout the weekend were spent catching up with friends and past teammates and felt truly amazing. I was so fortunate to catch up and talk with so many past guys and girls – Brett, Lance, Michael, Greg, Michael, Jason, Ben, Lizzy, Courtney, Melanie, Lindsey, Craig, Passa, and more. Outside of the UT events, it was also nice to hang out with my parents and fill other down times with good eats, a movie, games, and conversations. We filled out the weekend looking at more trailers at about 3 more dealerships as the shopping got much more serious.
Lucky for us, I had an awesome co-worker from where I last worked full-time, Ken Caiata. He’s a warehouse manager and I only met him for a week a
few years ago but many phone and Skype conversations since have kept us in touch. He graciously accepted our family into his home to enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Thanks Austin for letting us take over your room! We thoroughly enjoyed our time there, had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, and met more of Ken’s family. Of course, we also watched a lot of football. The downside is, it was the
first year in 5 that we didn’t do the annual Flag Football game that is normally organized outside our house at the nearby school. I did miss that.
While in Franklin, we did do a couple short but great hikes. The first was to the
waterfall you see here and the second was a hike along a ridge that proved to be an awesome hike with great views of the Appalachian mountains. I look forward to the day that Ken & Melinda can come to Colorado so we can show them a little more to see.
Poinsett State Park
On our way towards the coast, we stopped here for a few nights. It’s central South Carolina. We continued our search for our new home on the way down in Spartansburg and again, got the juices going again on what might be a good fit for us. Poinsett State Park was nice and a great place to say. Melissa ultimately had a goal of staying here so that we could visit Congaree National Park. It’s a quiet National Park but it was worth the visit. Yet another place the kids earned another Jr. Range badge and hiked through the forests about 4 miles. They sure have turned out to be some good hikers!
After all the searching, shopping, and phone calls, we decided that another trailer wasn’t something we wanted….for a night at least. Charleston proved to be a great place to stop. The town itself has some great character and we had fun walking the town on Wednesday. Ultimately, we found ourselves consumed by the decision we were facing and that was what new travel trailer we wanted and it was consuming our thoughts and lives. We became faced with the ultimate desire to move forward or move on. So, our time here was probably not as visitor friendly as we thought it would be.
We decided Thursday would be another shopping day (besides the persistent scouring of the internet) because we knew exactly where we needed to look and at what models of 5th wheel trailers we wanted to shop for. Given our past habits of shopping, we put together a long list in One Note and weighed the options, floor plans, lengths, weights, prices, features….. you name it! Through it all, we came up with 3-5 floor plans and trailers that were an option. Just so happened, Myrtle Beach had 2 of the top ones. We arrived to take a look at maybe THE one we wanted, a 2017 model at a significant price reduction. Turns out, we weren’t the only one to think so and it was sold and gone upon arrival. We later realized that Myrtle Beach is the mecca of trailer shopping so we got quiet our fill on a full day of looking. We later confirmed that the model we ultimately wanted is at the Camping World. A long day later, phone calls in at dealerships around the Southeast and negotiations happening at the Camping World, it was ultimately too long of a day to pull the trigger.
We stayed a couple more days here. One day we enjoyed an awesome day at the
Patriots Point in Charleston Harbor. We got a glowing recommendation to go here by another visitor and this was an awesome afternoon! We got to walk and tour the USS Yorktown, a Destroyer, and a submarine. Then we strolled through the Vietnam Experience Exhibit. Overall, this may have been the best historical visits we’ve been to since starting our trip. We were there about 4 hours, it seemed like 30 minutes, and we felt like we hurried through it. Later that night we met up with David Miller, Melissa’s cousin who is stationed in Beaufort, and spent the night getting tipsy.
Well, we made a decision. We came to Myrtle Beach to buy the trailer. I wish I could say “of our dreams” but that would be lying a little bit. We never dreamt about buying another trailer after loving our original purchase so much. We also never dreamt we would be buying a fifth wheel and certainly not buying one as large as we are. You’ll see all the details in the next post.
I have to say, I can’t believe we didn’t decide to come here earlier. It turns out this may be one of our favorite spots! After finding the place to stay at Pirateland Campground at a very affordable rate, we were able to secure a spot Oceanside which is literally across a small street from the ocean and beach. We’ve all immediately taken love to our current location and have enjoyed the sand, seashells, water, kiting, and the hot tub and heated indoor pool located on-site. Unfortunately we can’t stay too long since we’ve managed to move North or where we’re heading, but after we secure our new home, we’ll be on our way and remembering the couple of days of nice weather and the great location.
If you made it this far and read through….kudos to you and thanks for reading!