Saturday, February 28, 2009

We're not lost

Today while Mar was working on her online class trying to meet a deadline, Bernie went for a walk on the beach and the shops around there. She met some interesting ladies who were taking a painting class. One of them came back with Bernie to look at Bella because she is interested in RVs.

Then the weather started to turn. The sky got dark and the wind picked up so we decided to get on the road before it got any worse. We headed west on 90. To actually stay on 90 there comes a point where you have to turn left (south), so we did, only to discover that the road was closed down for construction.

So we did a "route exclusion" on our GPS and the drive got really interesting then. We drove for miles and miles on lonely, gravel roads, turning here and there, seemingly going nowhere. Eventually we reached a paved road and entered the directions again on our GPS, got back on 90 and were able to keep going. We weren't lost, just temporarily, locationally challenged.

We headed then towards New Orleans. When we got there we drove a bit around downtown, taking a look around, and then we found a Quiznos for dinner. We had to use our coupons for free subs because they expired today.

Then we called Augusta, who had emailed us about some work at her second house. The house was damaged by Katrina so she is trying to get it fixed up so she can move into the house. We met Augusta at the house in the Bywater area, and she gave us the tour.

Then we parked in the very narrow driveway next to the house, plugged in the electric, hooked up the water hose, and settled in for the night. It's pretty cold here tonight.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Train on water

Today we woke up on the beach on a lovely, sunny day. Bernie took some time to walk the beach but the water was really cold and it had a lot of sediment, pretty gross.

When Bernie couldn’t find her phone charger she realized it was probably still back at the B&B where she had plugged it in to charge her phone. So off we went back to Oceans Springs MS to get it, and there it was, right where she had left it.

When we got back to Biloxi MS, we stopped at the Katrina Memorial. It is a memorial dedicated to the gulf coast victims of Hurricane Katrina. It is a glass tile mural of a wave and a 12 ft tall black wall representing the height of the storm surge in the area. There is also a glass case containing various items from destroyed buildings. The memorial just takes your breath away.

Then we got gas and ran some errands. We went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond where we found the space saver bags we were looking for so that we can store our winter clothes. We used their 20% off coupon and a gift certificate we had.

We met a couple that has been following our blog. Pennie and her husband met us in the BB&B parking lot. They’re great, fun loving people. They gave us lots of tips and it was really nice meeting them. Pennie wrote about us in her blog, you can read it here: Meeting Bernie and Mar.

Then we drove west on 90 and went to dinner at Darwell’s Café in Long Beach MS, a restaurant featured in the Dinners, Drive-ins and Dives show on the Food Network.

Darwell’s is a hippy, gypsy, lively, funky restaurant. Both Darwell and his son were very friendly and asked us a lot of questions about our RV travels. It is a great place with a very friendly staff, lots of unique art and artifacts everywhere, and tonight they even had live music.

For dinner we had the prime rib sandwich and the pork quesadilla. They were both really good. Bernie really liked the prime rib and Mar really liked the pork.

Then we kept going west on 90 and after the Bay Saint Louis bridge, we turned left onto Beach Road to find a spot to park for the night. After a few blocks we saw train tracks going over the water and since the road was closed right before the tracks, we decided to park right there by the water.

A little while later, the first train came by and we got to watch it come over the water. It was pretty cool but we hope there aren’t very many trains tonight or tomorrow morning … after all, we need our beauty sleep. We better find those earplugs tonight.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What was that loud noise?

It is time to go. The road has been tugging at Mar's heart for a couple of days, she is ready to hit the road. She worked hard today reorganizing the inside and getting Bella back to spring/summer mode.

Mar has started a new training for a new online class and has to spend even more time on the computer every day. She has to do homework and there is so much reading and writing to do, is like being in school all over again.

It took Bernie the better part of the day to finish up the last details on the honey do list for the B&B and to pack up Bella. This included packing up all her tools and ladders, and putting up Mar’s pink tricycle, which has to go up last after everything else is in place on the back of Bella.

On one of her trips to the hardware store this week, Bernie found a pulley system that made putting the tricycle up so much easier and we were happy about that, as it is quite a chore, it takes two people.

Finally, it was after dark by the time we were pulling out of the driveway. We were happy to be on our way.

Our first stop was to take pictures of the new bridge between Ocean Springs MS and Biloxi MS, and the great murals under it. The old bridge was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Then we headed up the two mile bridge towards Biloxi. About half way across we heard a really loud noise and we saw a car pull up beside us honking and waving and pointing. Bernie looked out her side mirror and saw sparks flying behind us!

We pulled over and oops! … Bernie had forgotten to strap Mar's bike on after we pulled it up into place with the new pulley system. Luckily the bike was still attached so we were just dragging it behind us. We put the bike back on and made sure to strap it good this time. Then we were off again.

By now we were way too hungry and dead tired so we decided to go get something to eat and forget about the couple of errands we had planned. We drove about 20 minutes to a restaurant in Gulfport MS recommended on the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives show. It is located at the end of a road, right on the water.

The Blow Fly Inn is a two story yellow building, nothing fancy but the food was very good. We had the fried green tomatoes and the Greek Salad with marinated prime rib slices. The salad was good but dessert was even better, we had the pecan pie. That is, after we removed the big black plastic fly they put on every plate which you get to take home as a souvenir, or maybe as your new pet.

After dinner we headed to the beach where we found parking right on the water in a casino parking lot. We could hear the waves as we fell asleep and the strong winds rocked Bella from side to side all night.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The parade

We are enjoying our stay at this little B&B nestled in a tree covered lot and only seconds to the beach. It has been wonderful.

The weather is gorgeous but it has been a tad too cold to fully enjoy the outdoors, though the sun is shining the wind is chilly. Not that we’ve had much time for slowing down. Marian’s honey do list for her B&B keeps getting longer, and she also told her friend Karen about Bernie and now Karen has some work for Bernie too.

So far Bernie has re-screened the front porch, dug a draining system, painted a hanging bench, and replaced all the electrical outlets and switches in the main house. Bernie loves honey do lists.

Mar has done the laundry and had a couple of baking and cooking marathons. She baked cupcakes, muffins, cookies, and cornbread, that we will freeze to eat later. She also has prepared several meals and packaged them, ready to eat on the road.

We did take some time last night to go see the local Mardi Gras parade, our first parade. It was a small parade, probably a dozen floats or so, but the crowd was loud and wild. There were tons of beads all over the place. People of all ages were heavily adorned with beads by the time the parade was over. Everyone had a good time and we did too.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Drive by tourists

We had several errands to run today. We went to the post office, the grocery store, and the hardware store, and along the way we got to do some drive by tourism.

We drove by to see the Seaman's Memorial, the 30 ft bust of a indian chief called Crooked Feather, the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the downtown mural representing 300 years of Ocean Springs' past, present and future.

We read online that there is a geocache at Crooked Feather. We have never geocached but decided to give it a try and unfortunately we were not able to find it.

After we got home, we had last night's leftover bbq for dinner, and then Bernie went to work on the next item on the honey do list.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Good Q

Today we borrowed Marian’s car to go to the local hardware store. She has added our names to her account there so Bernie can get the supplies she needs to work on the honey-do list for the B & B.

Then we went to the local thrift shop to look for some cupcake pans. Mar wants to bake breakfast muffins and other goodies while we’re here and hit the jackpot at the thrift store, she found two pans for .79 cents each.

Then we went to get take out from a place recommended on the Diners, Drivethrus, and Diners show. This place is called The Shed and that’s exactly what it looks like, a huge shed. There are tons of interesting stuff laying around everywhere. There is a working piano just outside the front door, a bed frame completely covered in flowers, and funny signs everywhere. Inside there are tons of dollar bills signed by customers tacked to the walls, columns, and ceiling.

While we waited for our order, we had some sweet ice tea and it was really good tea.

When we got back to the house, Bernie got to work on a few things and then we had our dinner. We got the Shed Sampler Platter which is a little bit of every meat they serve: spare ribs, baby back ribs, pulled pork, chicken, brisket, chicken wings, and sausage. Everything was delicious, this is really good bbq. The sampler comes with three sides and our favorite was the baked potato salad, it was delicious and totally different from any potato salad we’ve ever had. We highly recommend it.

The sampler was a lot of food, even for two people, so we have enough leftovers for tomorrow’s dinner. Which is really good news, because this is really good Q.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Film scramble

The dentist where we parked last night does have the one-day crown service but they do not take the dental plan we have, so it didn’t work out. We went back to the beach to hang out for a while. The water was a beautiful emerald color today and the sand almost as white as sugar. The weather was wonderful if a tad chilly, but it was just so nice to be back near the water.

When it was time to leave, we made several stops on Gulf Shores Parkway on our way out of town. First, we went to the Happy Hippie Shack, a very cool back-to-the-70s place that made us wish we were hippies. Then we went to the Coleman Outlet where we kept going ‘ohh’ and ‘ahh’ about all the cool camping gear we can’t afford.

Then we had to stop at the Lambert's Café. It was still early afternoon so we weren’t hungry but we had heard that they throw the rolls, so we went to check it out. Sure enough, the roll guy comes around pushing a cart with the hot bread rolls and if you want one he throws it to you. It was a lot of fun. Also the servers play tricks on you while you are eating, like pretending to spill water on you or show you fake food. This is one place with a good sense of humor and the best part is that the rolls are amazing, they are huge, really hot and really, really good.

Then we drove north to Fairhope AL to the next place we wanted to check out recommended on the show Diners, Drivethrus, and Dives: Guy’s Gumbo Shack. It was still a little early for dinner so we got our order to go. We got the naked gumbo, rice with red beans, and the sandwich recommended on the show, the T.L.T. (turkey, lettuce, tomato, with a white bbq sauce).

After that, we went to Spring Hill College in Mobile AL to see their Urban Legend Film Scramble, a screening of nine five-minute films produced in 48 hours by local filmmakers, inspired by items from We sat in a classroom with about 50 other people watching the short films. It was a great experience, some of the films were really good and funny. We even agreed with the judges’ choices for the top three films and each got a prize of $50.

Then we went back to Bella and had our dinner. The gumbo was too spicy for us, the rest was good, but nothing to write home about. Not the kind of place we’d visit again.

Then we drove west about an hour to Ocean Springs MS to Bernie’s next job. Marion has a honey-do list at her Bed and Breakfast for Bernie to take care of. She showed us around when we got there, we hooked up the water and electric, and then walked to the beach, which is less than a block away. We can actually see the ocean from where we’re parked and that makes us very happy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The beach

We got up in time to go to Panini Pete’s, they are only open for breakfast and lunch and close at 2:30 pm. This place was recommended on the Diners, Drivethrus, and Diners show. It is located in the French Quarter of Downtown Fairhope AL. The place is full of charming little stores around a lovely courtyard with outside tables and a big fountain.

We walked into Panini Pete’s and asked who there answers the emails. We had emailed to ask about their hours and to let them know we were coming. Turns out it is Pete himself who takes care of the emails. Pete came out of the kitchen and made us feel like welcomed old friends, giving us big hugs. Pete is awesome and very friendly.

Panini Pete’s is by far the cutest of the DDD places we have visited so far. The theme is sort of beachy and colorful, and there is a collection of salt and pepper shakers on shelves around the walls. This is a small sandwich shop, it was jam packed with people, and the staff was running around crazy, they were so busy.

We got our food to go and will save it till dinner time. We don’t eat lunch since we are usually still sleeping at lunchtime. We ordered the sandwich recommended on the show, the turkey panini, and also got the roast beef panini. The turkey sandwich was good but the flavors are a little too bold for our taste. We really liked the roast beef sandwich with gorgonzola, it’s a winner.

After that, we drove south about an hour to Gulf Shores AL and went straight to the beach. By the time we got there it was midafternoon and the weather was gorgeous but it was chilly, even though the sun was out, the wind was too cold for us to stay outside.

So we went back to Bella and opened the curtains wide so we could gaze out at the water and the beautiful sugar sand beach. We both picked up our books and started reading. Next thing you know, we both fell asleep and took a long nap, about three hours long. When we woke up it was dark and we were hungry so we had our paninis.

Afterwards we drove around some more to get to know the area and made it to Orange Beach AL. We found a dentist office and decided to park there for the night and wait till morning to see about Bernie getting her crown that she still needs.

Bernie is sick tonight, she has a sore throat and a low grade fever. Hopefully the beach will do her some good and she will feel better soon.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The road is calling

We drove south about three hours on I-65 towards Mobile AL. Along the way we stopped at Walmart to buy milk and bread, and got a full tank of gas there for $1.70 per gallon.

In Mobile we stopped at Dr. Java for an iced mocha latte. This is a very hip coffee house with art for sale on the walls. We were very excited when we saw that they have shelves full of books for trading. We found nine books we wanted so we were able to unload nine of our already read books. It's almost too good to be true!

When we left there, down the road we started noticing there were a lot of people on the road and some streets were blocked. We stopped to ask and were told that there was a Mardi Gras parade tonight. By that time the parade was already an hour and a half late in starting. No one knew when the parade would really start and we were too hungry to stick around and wait, so sadly we moved on.

We drove east about another 25 minutes to Daphne AL. We went to see a place recommended on the show Diners, Drivethrus, and Dives. We found Manci's Antique Club, parked and went inside. The kitchen would be closing in about a half hour so we went ahead and ordered, and then walked around exploring the place.

There are tons of collections here, the whole place is covered with all kinds of stuff everywhere you look. They have cowbells, hotel keys, decanters, horseshoes, beehives, tools, thimbles, signs, pictures, and many other things. Every square inch is completely covered, everywhere you look you keep seeing new things you missed the first time.

For dinner we had the Manci Burger and the Manci Fries. The burger was simple, not the best we've had. The fries were covered in white cheese, bacon, and sour cream. Dipping them in ranch dressing, it was so hard to stop eating ...

After dinner, we drove south about 15 minutes to Fairhope AL, we drove around downtown looking for the next place we want to check out from the Diners, Drivethrus, and Dives show. This place is only open for lunch so we found a parking lot around the back, and parked for the night. Lucky enough, we found there was free wi-fi once we parked.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Since we got here to the Alabama River, the weather has been wonderful. Usually it stays in the 60s during the day, and in the 40s at night. We've had to use the space heater in Bella for a little while each night, and then we're fine after that.

Mar has spent her time here doing the laundry, working on her online classes, watching the Food Network, baking, cooking, and preparing meals to take on the road.

Bernie has been working on what Sandy and Bobbie needed to get done. She's been having fun riding their golf cart around the property, to go pick up the moss and branches that prevent the lawn mower from working properly. And also, cleaning out the two sheds, to turn one into a workshop.

Bernie is almost done with these projects, so we should be able to hit the road again in a couple of days.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Once we were ready to leave today, we drove west about 45 minutes to Lowndesboro, AL to the house of Sandy and Bobbie. They had emailed us about some work for Bernie and to invite us to park on their property, with electric, water, and sewer.

They told us they live out in the middle of nowhere and as we got closer, we could see they were right about that! Getting closer, the roads got smaller and more desolate. The last turn according to our GPS, put us on an unpaved road, and about two miles later we finally found their house.

Their place is at the tip of a small peninsula on the Alabama river, so that the house is surrounded by water on all three sides. The area is beautiful and very peaceful, with lots of trees and breathtaking views of nature.

We parked under the carport they use for their motorhome, hooked Bella up, and went inside to sit on the back porch for happy hour. After a margarita (or two) and some wonderful conversation getting to know each other, we were ready for dinner. We threw some burgers on the grill and spent the rest of the evening getting to know our new friends a little better.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Heading south

Today we got ready to leave and then went to get our propane tank filled for .99 cents a gallon, good deal. Sun Coast also had the cap we needed for our fresh water tank and it was only $2.

Then we drove about an hour south on I-65 to Montgomery AL. We went to the Blount Cultural Park, where there are museums and gardens, this is where many cultural events take place. It is a lovely park with gorgeous buildings right next to the water. The weather was perfect today and we got some great pictures, including a beautiful sunset.

After that, we went to Books A Million so we can use their wi-fi with our book card. We looked around the store a bit and then parked for the night. The weather is so pleasant, we don't need to use either the heater or the a/c. This is very nice.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A little down time

Another good thing about this Sun Coast RV place where we spent the night, is that they sell propane for .99 cents a gallon. Since that is too good to pass up and we do need propane but they’re not open on Sundays, we’re just going to stay here one more night so we can get propane tomorrow.

It’s hard to believe just recently Bella was covered in snow and ice and we had to bundle up all the time. We are loving this “shorts and tshirt” weather, this is the life!

Now that we have extra time here, Bernie decided to go ahead and wash Bella today. While she worked outside, Mar cleaned and organized inside. It is always so nice when Bella is clean, inside and out.

Then we drove back to the McDonald’s to use the free wi-fi again so we could post our blogs, then we returned the movies to RedBox, and then went back to Sun Coast to spend the night. Tomorrow we’ll head south once again on I-65, towards Bernie’s next job.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Free hookups

Today Gadsden AL was celebrating their chili cook off which started at noon. By the time we got up and walked there it was almost 1:00 pm. By then most contestants were already out of their chili so we got to try only four out of the 21 that competed today. Two of them were so hot and spicy we could hardly even taste them. One was made with chicken and not too hot, and the last one we could eat only after doctoring it up with sour cream and corn chips. That turned down the heat some and it was actually pretty good.

After the chili cook off, we drove south about an hour to Birmingham AL. In downtown we drove by the Five Points South shopping area on our way to Vulcan Park up on Red Mountain. Vulcan is the god of fire and his statue here is the largest cast iron statue in the world.

After coming down the mountain we went to see the African Village in America. This is a half acre of yard sculptures, constructed by artist Joe Minter in his back yard, mainly out of found objects and thrift shop finds. It has taken Joe twenty years to build this historical, biblical, geographical, and political memorial to the civil rights movement.

We drove by admiring the village and as we reached the end of this very narrow street, we noticed that it was a dead end with nowhere to turn. So after a few minutes of inching back and forth … and back and forth … we finally got Bella turned around. Then Joe Minter came out to say hi and we got a chance to meet him and talk to him about his project.

Then we went to the Alabama Farmer’s Market which is open 24/7. Even though it’s winter time the produce looked so fresh and colorful. We bought some bananas and apples, and a mango and an avocado.

By then it was late afternoon so we drove south about half an hour towards the place where we planned to spend the night. We heard that Sun Coast RV in Calera AL has camping with free hookups so we went to check it out.

As we got close we saw the Sun Coast billboards that said free camping and free dump station. When we got there, the security guard came out to greet us and confirmed that camping here is indeed free, with electric, water, and sewer. The place is just off the highway, there are about 20 sites, all paved, and very well lit.

We couldn’t believe our luck and are so grateful to Sun Coast RV for having this place available for people who need a place to stop and camp for the night. This is awesome.

We are now almost over our 5g limit on our Verizon data plan and because the Verizon overcharges are so expensive, we haven’t been able to get online every day as usual. This is driving us nuts. Living without internet access is cruel and unusual punishment.

After checking out the Sun Coast RV place, we went to find free wi-fi. We ended up at a McDonald’s at the next exit off the highway and we were able to at least check our email, with a coupon we got from McDonald’s for one free hour of wi-fi.

There was a Walmart right next door, so we decided to rent a couple of movies from RedBox since we won’t have internet access for the rest of the night. Then we went back to Sun Coast RV, hooked up, and settled in for the night.

Friday, February 6, 2009

First Friday

After our cup of coffee, we went inside Camping World to buy a cap for our fresh water tank. Turns out they don’t sell just the cap, you have to buy the whole mechanism deal for $10. Too much for just the cap we need, so Bernie used an orange juice top and taped it in place to cover the hole, until we can find the right cap.

Then we drove about an hour and a half to Gadsden AL. As soon as we entered Alabama, we noticed the time changed. We stopped at the Visitor Center and they told us we were now in the central time zone. This is good, we were happy to gain an hour.

When we got to downtown Gadsden, we saw that finding a place to park was not a problem. There are several free municipal parking lots conveniently located. Broad Street was closed for the town’s First Friday event, so we parked and walked towards the music. The streets were lined with shiny, spotless show cars, the stores were open late, and there were kids performing on the street. It was still a bit cold tonight but this was a fun event for a Friday night.

When we got hungry and too cold to be outside, we went back to Bella. Then we found one of the municipal lots between two buildings and decided to park there for the night. This is our first night of boondocking in months, so we turned on our generator and settled in for the night.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Moose tracks and turtle tracks

When we got up we had a note from Will on our windshield. Because he had business to take care of in town we didn’t get to say goodbye in person. We got our cups of coffee and got ready to leave. Bernie disconnected the electric and then we drove up to the water faucet to fill up our fresh water tank.

We drove about 45 minutes to Athens TN to the Mayfield Dairy for a tour of their plant. They made us put on red hairnets before we started the tour. It was interesting to see how milk and ice cream are made and packaged. After the tour, of course we had to sample the ice cream. Mar had the coffee house fudge and Bernie had the moose tracks and turtle tracks ice cream.

Back on the highway we found a Denny’s and decided to use our coupons for the free grand slam breakfasts. We really like eating breakfast for dinner. When we got out at Denny’s we noticed there was quite a bit of water on the ground next to Bella. Looking closer we realized there was no cap on the hole to refill the fresh water tank. Because Bernie had changed her routine when we disconnected at Will’s house earlier today, she forgot to put the cap back on and now it was gone, never to be seen again.

Afterwards we drove about 45 minutes to Chattanooga TN. In downtown we drove by The Passage, a path of steps that water flows down from, it is the beginning of the Trail of Tears, and along the path are different Native American symbols. But it was under renovation so we couldn’t go in and just looked from outside.

Then we went to see the Walnut Bridge, this is the longest pedestrian bridge in the world. We wanted to walk the bridge but it was way too cold, so we walked the first part, just to see the bridge. Then we discovered that right next to it there was a footbridge made of glass.

After that, we headed to Camping World where we planned to park for the night but when we got there we saw that this CW has its own small campground right there. We never stay at campgrounds but it was cold tonight, so we decided to bite the bullet, break the bank and spend the night warm and cozy with electric hookups, water, sewer, and cable. That was nice for a change.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

National Girls and Women in Sports Day

The first thing we did today was swing by the local post office to take care of an errand. The post office was about 10 minutes away.

From there we drove another 10 minutes back to downtown Knoxville to go see the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Today they were offering free admission to all females in honor of National Girls and Women in Sports Day. We learned about the history of women's basketball and got to play around, Bernie even got to shoot some hoops. Very cool place and worth a visit if you're ever in east TN.

When we left there we drove south for about half an hour to Lenoir City, TN where Will lives in a ranch house he is renovating. Will is a member of one of our yahoo groups, who had emailed us to offer us his driveway with water, electric, and wi-fi.

When we tried to fill up our water tank, the outside faucet was frozen, so Will brought out a heater to thaw it out. That worked, so we got water, parked under a tree next to the carport, and hooked up the electric.

Will had planned to cook dinner for us but decided against it. Instead he took us out to dinner at Aubrey's, a local chain restaurant new to us. Dinner was fabulous. We had a tender and delicious hawaiian prime rib and a wonderful turtle cake a la mode for dessert. Through dinner we enjoyed a bottle of red wine along with interesting conversation, while getting to know our new friend, Will.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Free breakfast

We had heard that Denny's was giving away free grand slams today so we went to check it out, it is free food after all.

It looked like the whole world had heard about this too. Even though it was really cold, the line to get in went halfway around the building.

We figured even the promise of free food was not enough to get us to stand in a line this long and in this cold. So Bernie kept our place in line while Mar went inside. She spoke to the manager who gave her a rain check and a coupon book. Mar then went outside and stood in line, while Bernie went inside to get her rain check and coupon book. We'll just find another Denny's later when there are no lines to get our grand slams breakfasts ... for dinner, of course, because we don't eat breakfast - we sleep through it.

After that, we drove to the Sevierville Visitor Center and then to the bookstore where we they trade books. We unloaded about half our stack of already read books. Bernie got a book from the Oprah book club and Mar got a hispanic cookbook.

Then we drove about 45 minutes to Knoxville TN. There we went to the Visitor Center, which was closed when we got there even though it was not 5 pm yet, and the hours listed said it closed at 6 pm. What a bummer.

Then we found the World Fair Park and went to the top of the Sunsphere, to the observation deck with a 360 degree view of downtown and beyond. Then we drove to Volunteer Landing along the Tennessee River with an impressive bridge and beautiful views as the sun was coming down.

Then we went to the Pizza Palace, which was recommended on the show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network (Mar’s favorite channel). There is no seating inside or out, only drivethru stations. We ordered both of the items we were told the show's host liked, the pizza and the onion rings. We think we liked them both but they were a bit cold by the time we found a place to park for the night and have dinner.

It is supposed to be really cold tonight with plenty of snow so we decided that boondocking would not be a good idea tonight. We stopped at a Hampton Inn and asked if we could plug in, and lucky for us, they said yes, so we spent the night in their parking lot, eating cold pizza and getting free wi-fi.

Monday, February 2, 2009


We both felt just fine today, so we finished packing Bella up, and got ready to roll.

First, we drove about 15 minutes to the Biltmore Estate, America's largest home and home of the Vanderbilt family. Bernie had always wanted to visit Biltmore but since it was getting close to closing time we decided there was no point in buying the $35 tickets (per person) to see the house so we just wanted to drive around the grounds and take a look.

When we got to the entrance, we were informed it was another 4 miles just to get to the house and that we could not access the grounds without tickets. Dissappointed we left and then drove east through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park towards TN.

Our first destination in TN was Gatlingburg, about two hours away. On the way there it started snowing lightly. As instructed by our GPS, Lola, we took the exit towards Gatlinburg only to find the road closed, probably because of the weather. This was a two lane road with nothing but trees on both sides. Turning Bella around was an adventure that only got more interesting as the snow started coming down hard. It took a while, but we finally got back on the interstate as Lola recalculated our route.

Lucky for us it was not snowing when we got to Gatlingburg but it was still very, very cold. We parked on the main street, bundled up, and walked around a little bit. We decided to try the Amazing Mirror Maze, as we had a coupon to get in (there are two mirror mazes here, we decided on the non-ripleys one). We were the only people inside the maze and kept getting lost again and again, bumping into the mirrors a few times. We had a few good laughs, this was so much fun.

Then we drove up the mountain to get to the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort and Amusement Park. There is an indoor ice arena, a scenic chairlift, an alpine slide, water raft rides, and skiing. We walked around and got to watch people skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. It was too cold for us so we decided to keep rolling.

It was still early evening so we decided to head towards our next destination, Pigeon Forge. When we got there we found a bookstore still open so we went to check it out. We asked if they trade books, and they said no, but gave us the name of another bookstore that does.

Then after driving around a little more getting to know the area, we went to the Welcome Center. It was already closed when we got there, but we decided to park there for the night.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Change of plans

Today was Mar's turn to feel sick. Bernie felt much better today, but Mar was not feeling well at all, she was exhausted and could hardly move, she slept most of the day.

While Mar rested, Bernie dug up a hole for a fountain in Lula's backyard.

Later when Mar was able to get up, she did the laundry while Bernie got Bella ready for the road. We had planned to leave today, but we decided to wait till tomorrow and hope we both feel fine then.