Even in my life, where politics seems to be 100% – 24/7 . . . there has to be time just to take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.
Anne and I left Williamstown, Ontario on the 30th of October, heading South West to Georgia on our way to Texas.
This RV-Life is an entirely new experience for the four of us (Anne, Stryker, April [the cat] and myself), which is demanding no shortage of “learning on the job”.
I used to haul a large 5th wheel horse trailer (24-foot 10,000 pounds), but NEVER a 36-foot “bumper-pull” 10,000 pound RV, which has plenty of real challenges, such as finding gas stations where we could fit.
We are so green at this RV-Stuff, that we didn’t even have an idea of how to hook-up the sewage. We thought we knew, because how hard could it be to connect a flexible hose to a hole in the ground? But, go know that we would need a right-angle connector, and then know how to attach it to the flexible sewage pipe that came with the RV, and then to the hole.
This new lifestyle is indeed an enormous learning curve for all of us, which has become a stress unto itself. BUT, as each day passes, we accept the RV infrastructure as something that is becoming NORMAL and not nearly that complicated.
For example . . . we don’t have a dishwasher, but I really don’t mind washing and drying dishes, which means that cleaning-up after meals takes only a minute or two.
Taking a shower, takes me only a few moments, in what has turned out to be a very pleasant experience. But it takes Anne MORE time, not as much as she would normally take in a conventional shower, but enough time to still enjoy the hot spray of water.
We have a great 3-burner gas stove in the RV, a gas fired oven, and a wonderful refrigerator and freezer . . . both with substantial capacities.
And there is gas furnace (propane) that works incredibly well, in addition to a 1500-watt electric fireplace. AND THEN THERE’S THE OUTSIDE KITCHEN.
No kidding . . . a REAL outdoor fully self-contained kitchen that has hot and cold running water, cabinets, a cutlery drawer, a gas fired stove, BBQ, lights AND a really good sized electric refrigerator.
As for beds . . . I have a queen-sized bed I share with April, while Anne chose the double bed that she shares with Stryker, because it’s too difficult for Stryker to manoeuver to get on the Queen bed.
There are THREE digital television sets in the RV, which work independently off (either) an antenna, cable or satellite. There is one television in my room, one in Anne’s room, and one in the kitchen/living-room/dining-room.
AND ON HOT DAYS . . . we have a 3,500-BTU air conditioner with ductwork throughout the RV. And to make all of this even better . . . heat and air-conditioning are controlled by a digital thermostat.
GEORGIA ON MY MIND:
Anne, the animal crew, and I are staying at a private owner operated GORGEOUS RV resort in the UNICOI SPRING State Park region, located just outside of HELEN Georgia, in the Northern Georgia Mountains, as the guests of Les and Ann Green, who RIDE with the Atlanta Sabra Riders.
The views everywhere are STUNNING . . . There is no other way to describe it. We are almost within walking distance to the Appallacian Trail. And there are trout streams everywhere, leading to small lakes that dot the landscape.
And then there is the Village of HELEN, a few miles from our RV Resort, and about an hour and a bit from Atlanta, that has more restaurants, shops and tourist things than I can list. And if you happen to be a Motorcycle Rider, it is CYCLE Heaven, riding around the ups, downs, and twisties of the incredibly well maintained mountain roads.
THE FIRST NIGHT IN HELEN:
There was an ENORMOUS snowstorm on November 1st through the Appalachian Mountains (Tennessee and North Carolina) . . . that made news throughout North America. As a matter of fact, our friends and family in Montreal and Ontario where we live in the summer, texted, emailed, and phoned us to say how lucky we were to be able to avoid the storm, when in fact, WE WERE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT.
Let me describe the size of the hills going through the Appalachians.
They are so high, so long, and so steep, that the inclines seem to go up forever. And the never-ending declines are no less long and steep, which are terrifying, with RUNAWAY Truck stops at the bottom of most of them.
Driving under these conditions in GOOD WEATHER is a challenge . . . so, imagine what it was like with howling winds, blowing snow, and below freezing temperatures to Anne and myself with little less than two days of hauling experience under our belt.
THEN THERE WAS THE TIRE, SUSPENSION, AND SWAY BAR PROBLEMS:
We are driving a brand new 6-cylinder 4-wheel drive Eco Boost Ford F-150 to haul this MONSTER RV, which did an INCREDIBLY good job in climbing the mountain hills, and braking on the way down. It is rated to haul 11,200 pounds.
BUT . . . the stock tires that came with the truck (6-ply) were not sufficient for the tongue-weight of the 10,000-pound RV. And NEITHER were the springs. Both of which were dangerous and very much on my mind as we travelled.
As far as the preceding concerned me, the SWAY BAR concerned me even more, because it wasn’t sufficiently tight, which allowed the RV to sway back and forth in the wind, wagging the truck as if it was a toy as the BIG-RIGS passed us in either direction.
But, unlike the tires and springs . . . fixing the Sway Bar was as simple as just tightening it-up.
And since we are now in Helen Georgia, the next Big Town is Cleveland, where they have all the services one needs, which brought us to the Ford Dealer who installed five brand new 10-Play Michelin Commercial Tires. We’ll ship our old tires back home.
We also installed what is called a Super Spring to reinforce the back springs, adding another 4,000 pounds of rear stability, without changing the ride whatsoever.
BACK TO ARRIVING AT UNICOI SPRINGS:
We arrived at Unicoi Springs very late in the afternoon, just before we lost daylight, allowing us to set up the RV. And after driving through the snowstorm and the mountains, need I say that Anne and I were exhausted . . . physically and mentally.
So . . . our hosts, Les and Ann suggested that we go out for supper, which turned out to be at a local Honkytonk, affectionately referred to as the Roadhouse, which is a favorite amongst BIKERS.
AND AS IT TURNED OUT . . . the Honkytonk was the absolute medicine we REALLY needed. The food was GREAT, the service was even better, and the BLUEGRASS Country Band was FOOT-STOMPING.
DOWN-HOME AMERICAN-SMALL TOWN SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY:
Wherever we went in this neck of the woods, the people have been exceptional. And as soon as they discover that we’re Canadians, the WELCOME mat comes flying out. And when they learn from our friends that we’re Conservatives, who also tell them about my BLOG, they become FAMILY.
Yesterday, late afternoon (around 5 o’clock), Anne, Les, his wife Ann, and myself went to a real roadside country establishment, that is famous for BOILING Peanuts, which is a delicacy in this part of the world, where we met SPUD MATHESON, who’s been boiling Georgia Peanuts forever.
Spud is the quintessential Southern Gentleman, who is a wealth of history and information about this entire region. He is full of great stories and Honest-To-Goodness Down Home Southern Hospitality.
And when Spud learned that I was a Canadian, he outright REFUSED in spite of all my protestations to take any money ($6) for the bag of boiled peanuts I purchased. And when he discovered (courtesy of Les) that I was Conservative and a BLOGGER, the door of camaraderie was flung wide open.
We talked about all manner of local history and customs of the South, from food to MOONSHINE, which I would still like to taste, even though I’m not much of a drinker. But I’d nonetheless like to give this part of Southern history and tradition a try.
And when the very old building used by Spud Matheson isn’t being used to sell Peanuts and Dried Pork, which Spud processes himself, it becomes a Pentecostal Evangelical Church every Saturday night, which we were invited to attend, even though the four of us are Jewish. And if we hadn’t made previous plans, we would have been there to “taste” yet another flavor of the Georgia South.
And now (Sunday), Anne and I joined Less, Ann, and four other Sabra RIDERS who made the hour-plus ride from Atlanta, to meet at the Honkytonk Road House.
IT’S ALL WORTH THE EFFORT:
Even though we have had no shortage of challenges, some of them being HAIR-RAISERS, the experiences and memories are PRICELESS. And on Tuesday, November 11th, Remembrance Day in Canada, Veterans’ Day in the USA, right after we STAND for a moment of SILENCE in respect to all the Men and Women who have SERVED our Nations, Anne, Stryker, April and I will head out for Austin Texas, looking forward to new adventures.
I’ll keep Y’ALL posted.
TO ALL THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SERVE AND HAVE SERVED . . . THANK YOU.
Best Regards . . . Howard Galganov