Tag Archives: North Carolina

I Like Calling Carolina Home

Ask us “Where’s home?” and we’ll tell you it’s the silver bullet behind our truck. Discussions about home are fun — we’ll talk about full-timing a little while (or a long while if you have time). But it won’t take a couple of minutes before one of us starts talking about North Carolina.

UNC Chapel Hill Tarheels

UNC Chapel Hill Tarheels

We are North Carolinians through and through, with family and friends and Alma Mater and residency and our hearts. We love being in North Carolina and love being from here. Our travels take us all about North America, and we haven’t yet found a place we like better. James Taylor said in it perfectly in a song, Carolina In My Mind.

We’re back in Tarheel country at last. We’ve been away since mid-May, our longest absence ever from North Carolina. Driving into North Carolina, especially via I-40 in the Great Smoky Mountains, thrills us to the bone. The mountains, with the slopes sometimes forested with mature forests and other times showing craggy granite rock faces, are just gorgeous.

The return, late last night, was a little less showy than our homecomings the previous two years. We have, for the past five years, eschewed night-time driving (I’ll come back to this) but we arrived in North Carolina well after dark. And we didn’t enter NC via I-40 through our beautiful mountains, but via I-85 through South Carolina instead. Just not as majestic, you know?

NCDOT--Rock_Slide I-40

NCDOT--Rock_Slide I-40

Actually, we generally would avoid the mountain route this time of year because of colder temperatures and chance of winter weather on the road. And we couldn’t have entered NC via I-40 by the Smokies anyway — have you heard of an Interstate closed for six months in modern times? Read this for the story about this major interstate closing — amazing!

We left Mesa, Az, Tuesday morning three days ago. Thanks to Bob Simms for steering us straight on I-10 from Mesa — we considered bushwhacking due-east from Mesa on route 60 then intersecting I-10. Bob reminded us we were planning to make mileage, not sightseeing, and I-10 would suit us better. He was right. We drove Tuesday 680 miles on I-10 and Wednesday we did another 630 miles.

Wednesday started with cloudy skies and the sun didn’t peek out until it was at our backs. Yesterday morning we left Sulphur, Louisiana, just after 05:00 hrs heading east on I-10, and found ourselves in a light rain for a couple of hours. We cleared Baton Rouge before rush hour and Mobile just after rush hour traffic. Thursday started with dark skies, and the sun didn’t shine all morning.

Okay, those hurdles done, we looked forward again. How’s the weather going to be ahead of us? We had a good internet connection to check the weather forecasts. Atlanta is no problem. Greenville-Spartanburg, check. Charlotte is expecting a winter storm, and the weather guessers projected an early incidence of wintry mix and accumulation in Kannapolis, NC, of two to four inches of snow.

Friday would not be our best weather day, and except for Wednesday morning’s little rain we have had just about the best weather you could ask for driving. If we lay up, as planned, west of Atlanta then we are driving five hours on Friday. We would hit North Carolina right behind a winter storm. We either drive extra-long Thursday or take chances with the weather.

Our drive had been so easy and smooth and we didn’t want to break the spell. What if we keep going, straight-through, to North Carolina? We would double our day’s drive, double the amount of gas we buy in one day. We would be driving in the dark. And one more little thing — we would hit Atlanta squarely at rush hour. Why ruin a perfectly good cross-country drive?

Okay, we could take a dinner break and short nap west of Atlanta. Refueled and refreshed we would hit the Atlanta bypass (I-285) at 19:30 hours. Barring any pile-ups left over from rush hour we could zip past Atlanta without incident. What about those other issues? Total driving miles and gasoline consumption would be unchanged, so it doesn’t matter when they occur. What about driving/towing in the dark?

We drove in the dark on our first ever camping trip with the Airstream, August 2004. We missed a turn on our way to the campground and ended up on a farmer’s gravel drive. After a twenty-three point turn we arrived hours later to the campground with fresh water draining from the now missing bottom drain valve. You can read the whole story here on a page of our website, but we decided we just don’t need (or want) to tow at night.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings we were on the road by 06:00, 05:20, and 05:15 hours respectively, to miss the next big city’s rush hour. This time of day is 0-dark-thirty, just as dark as 10:00 at night. We found the early morning very nice for interstate driving and really like the much lower traffic volume. Our early starts enabled us to successfully avoid rush hours for every major city between Mesa, Az, and Atlanta, Ga.

The only night-driving problem on this trip was with the jersey barricades for construction east of Newnan, Georgia — zero clearance on the curb side and no rear-view/side-view visibility along that edge. Fortunately the construction didn’t last more than five or ten miles and only one trucker decided he had to pass us in the precious little width of the left lane. All’s well that ends well. . .

Okay, we set aside our objections to pushing ahead. And the advantages were several. We could, with a small dining and nap stop, avoid Atlanta’s rush hour. We might, with a little luck, find there is less traffic between Atlanta and Charlotte at night than daytime. We could get to Kannapolis before the road temperatures drop below freezing tomorrow. And we would, for sure, beat the wintry mix.

We hit our rhythm with each of us alternating driving and resting two-hour shifts. The truck and trailer behaved wonderfully. The interstate highway from Arizona through Louisiana to Alabama was the smoothest and easiest interstate we have driven anywhere.

What if we did take a chance with winter weather? We were caught in a heavy snowfall one afternoon several years ago, after picking up the Airstream after warranty work seventy miles away. The weather forecasters called for a late afternoon snow. It’s always fun to browse the Airstream dealers’ lots and showrooms and accessories, isn’t it? And we had lots of time and only seventy miles to drive back to the house in Charlotte.

We finally pulled ourselves, and our RV, away from the dealership and hit the road a little later than we might have planned. Thirty miles into the drive, the snow came down in blankets. Hey, not our fault! The snow came early. Yeah, right. Totally our fault for lollygagging around and taking a chance with weather. We had an interesting (but successful) snowy tow the remaining forty miles on I-77 and into downtown Charlotte.

Back to this cross-country trip. Our great cross-country road trip from Mesa, AZ, to Kannapolis, NC, ended successfully at 12:45 last night. Jim backed our Airstream into the driveway of Debbie’s parents and we were probably asleep by 01:15.

Here are the numbers for the three days:
2,257 miles total
950 miles on the longest day (18 hours)
43 hours on the road (excluding two overnights)
251 gallons of gas for $600
59 mph rolling average, 52 mph overall average
3 meals each totalled $44
48 Red Vine liquorice sticks consumed (thanks Bob & Faith!)
1 interior rivet popped in the Airstream (smooth roads!)
No traffic collisions seen anywhere
No construction delays
A great (and safe) road trip, = $Priceless

Outside, early this Friday morning, it is sleeting. The grocery stores, undoubtedly, are packed with frantic shoppers removing all traces of bread and milk and who knows what else, from the shelves. Local schools closings are trailing across the bottom of the televisions throughout the city. We drove eighteen hours yesterday and arrived in NC on dry pavement.

We’re glad to be back in North Carolina, a great place to call home.

Jim and Debbie
visit our website
locate us here

©2009 Dreamstreamr


Six weeks is a long time to stay

It hasn’t seemed so long, but we’d been in Mesa six weeks yesterday. We did have a feeling we’d been here awhile — we’ve both been getting itchy feet for the last week or two. So we started making lists to help get us ready for departure.

That’s right, we’re checking our list carefully before we head back East. We’d hate to get a couple of thousand miles down the road and then realize we left something behind, like the RV. These things are avoidable, you know?

We both are list-makers for any number of purposes. We’ve been accused of being extremely linear (I think it meant I always added 1 + 2 before I did anything to 3). You could, at any given time in our RV, find a couple of active to-do lists and a grocery list (for the things we didn’t find and the things we’ve since discovered we wanted).

We have a pre-flight list of things we’ll do before we leave Mesa. The big things are arranging the radio antennae for the trip, programming the amateur radios for enroute repeaters, setting tire pressures for all eight tires for highway driving, dumping the RV’s two holding tanks, securing all loose items in the RV, donating clothes to local Charity, and getting groceries for the 2,300 mile ride.

We have only a couple of loose ends with the resort park office, like turning in our mailbox key, paying our electric bill, submitting the mail forwarding request. Jim has one more tennis match tomorrow morning. Deb wants to play tennis one more time before we leave.

We’d love to get the truck (and maybe the Airstream) cleaned up before the drive. Clean windows, floor mats, and a clean hood are all we really need — we can’t see the rest of the truck from our truck’s seats anyway. And it’s nice to at least clean the windows and door on the Airstream, if we can’t get it all washed before we leave.

We’re facing a long four days, or we may take a fifth day, for the 2,300 miles from Mesa, TX, to Kannapolis, NC. Yet we’re looking forward to the drive, the scenery, the change. And we’re especially excited about returning to green North Carolina.

Mesa, and Towerpoint particularly, has been wonderful. We enjoyed so much here, from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West to Scottsdale’s Old Town and the Sugar Bowl; desert hiking with friends from Towerpoint and visiting Tempe; finding our way around vast metropolitan Phoenix; playing tennis every day and having nice soaks in the park’s hot tubs.

We’ll miss the tennis club facilities and people, just 100 yards from our RV. We’ll miss the interesting and changing desert weather. We’ll miss our Towerpoint friends and our fun times with them. We’ll look forward to another season here, another time. Now it is time for us to go.

Let’s go somewhere. Six weeks is a long time to stay.

Jim and Debbie
visit our website
locate us here

©2009 Dreamstreamr

Hanging out in North Carolina Piedmont

Kannapolis, named by its founders, The Cannon family, is in a great portion of North Carolina, the Piedmont or foothills. We have been visiting Debbie’s parents and enjoying wonderful spring weather while we reload for our next cross-country travels. We have shopped a little, bought new trailer tires, gotten our hair done, met with our financial advisor and attorney, and visited with family. And no, our FA had no good news for us.

Debbie and I accomplished a lot of errands and I spent a week consulting for our former employer. Saved some money for the hamfest later this week and maybe some money for golf. Times are tough. Golf is so expensive, and tennis is pretty darned cheap. I may not spend much at the hamfest and plan for more tennis than golf. I enjoy both but think tennis is better for me. You can always find a golf game. It can be so tough finding tennis partners on the road. I’ll try anyway.

Today we dropped by Lexington, NC for their famous barbecue. For those who don’t know, around here barbecue doesn’t mean chicken with some sauce on it. We’re talking about hickory-smoked chopped or slice pork. Today’s restaurant was Lexington Barbecue #1 on US29/70.

We ate here last year and since we were nearby we just had to stop again. We ordered sweet tea and a tray and a plate, and it was as good as any we’ve ever had anywhere. There are so many great barbecue joints in NC, and this one is definitely deserving of inclusion in Stern’s Road Food.

We love locating local sights and eats as we travel the continent. How do you find these local places on your own? Great eateries are in many communities and visitors might not dig these out. Road Food, the book, helps and there may also be other similar sorts of guides. One answer is to ask the locals. Judging from the looks of the place tonight, we could also ask the state troopers or sheriff’s deputies, and there are probably many similar sorts of reliable sources for best eateries.

Tomorrow morning we head for Madison, Wisconsin for the WBCCI International Rally. Our arrival date is June 19, so we only need to average approximately 50 miles per day. We won’t really drive only 50 miles per day. Tomorrow we drive 140 miles to Asheville and visit with Jim’s son, Charles. Wednesday morning we head toward Ohio where we’ll attend Hamvention, one of the largest ham radio conventions in the world.

Our stay in Kannapolis, NC has been wonderful. We visited with most of our family, accomplished a lot, and enjoyed the beautiful spring weather. It’s time to head north and find more North America again. See you down the road!