On the Road with Al and Ev – Great Smoky Mountains

Evelyn Lerman
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Lumberton NC to Ashland VA, the KOA Richmond North/ King’s Dominion, a wonderful 325 mile trip, filled with joy that we had no traffic problems. Things moved along nicely all the way. You have to suffer a bit to appreciate things when they’re good.

We woke up to a beautiful North Carolina day, sunny skies unbroken by clouds, and a comfortable 70 degrees. We started last night off with AC, noisy but effective, and once the RV was comfortable, we opened the windows to let the night air in. It went down to the low sixties during the night, but warmed up beautifully during the day. Sorry, Floridians, I can’t bottle it and send it on down.

Had we traveled through the Great Smoky Mountains over the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway or had we gone via the coast passed the Outer Banks. I would have lovely scenery to describe for you. But we traveled on I95, and you know the scenery—gorgeous green trees lining the highway, browning grass as well, very few road signs, lots of exits with signs leading to food (Subway, McDonalds, Cracker Barrel, Sonny’s BBQ, an occasional family restaurant and such), others leading to lodging (Hampton Inn, Marriott Motels, Red Roof, and many more), and still others leading to gasoline.

We pay the most attention to anything that says “diesel” and any food restaurant where we dare to eat. But today we needed to shop for a little food. So we went hunting for a Food Mart of any variety or a Walmart. After a few forays into the countryside, we finally found a Walmart, and satisfied our needs with no effort. RVers know, and others might like to know, that you can stay over night in a Walmart’s parking lot at no charge. There is security patrolling as well. Why would Walmart’s be so welcoming? A little research revealed that every camper who stays overnight spends a minimum of $50.00 shopping the next day in Walmart’s. Good deal for both of them. We haven’t done it yet.If we got stuck, we certainly would.

We’re almost back into routine, but still not quite. Driving along, we heard a loud clack, sounding like dishes falling out of cabinets. Why wouldn’t they? This mate had not done her job properly, which is to check all the locks on all of the cabinets and the dish cabinets over the sink were open. Fortunately everything is Corian, so no damage done. A good reminder to me to get back into routine—check locks, close windows, nothing left out that could fall or break, hand Allie the trash to put out for pickup, and as the sign on the way out says, “Don’t forget your spouse!”

Thanks to all of you for your emails. What fun it is to find them in the morning. I’m happy you are enjoying the blog and love your commentary. Ellen asks if anyone is familiar with “immature manure”.

We pass a sign which tells us that North Carolina is the “Most military-friendly state.” Allie tells me we are now passing Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. I find the juxtaposition of military and friendly unnerving, though I imagine these bases are very good for the economy of North Carolina and possibly even good for the country.

We pass furniture stores, furniture shows, furniture warehouses, and I am reminded that NC was the gathering spot of all furniture designers and salespeople for may years. Perhaps it still is. There are also pottery shops, clothing stores, vineyards and tobacco fields galore. Among all these shops we do find signs advertising Glory canned goods—Southern-style cookin’ just like Grandma made—okra, cabbage, greens, yams, —ready-made and no cooking required. So far I haven’t been persuaded.

With all the road work we’ve seen (unlimited in Florida, some in Georgia, less in the Carolinas, and more in Virginia), I’ve decided that in my next life I’ll be in the barrier business—you know, those orange striped barriers on the side and all around any road work. We see hundreds of them all the time, some battered and beaten, but all proudly providing barriers to keep the workers safe. Think about it—they’re cheap, almost indestructible, need no maintenance, only housing and transportation. And you can use them over and over. Not a glamorous occupation, but I think it could be very lucrative.

Here’s Virginia. “Virginia is for lovers” says the sign. Now isn’t that better than friendly militaries? Virginia is also the seat of the first permanent English Colony, in 1607. Curiously, North Carolina had one first, founded by Sir Walter Raleigh, consisting of about 100 English fathers, mothers, and children, but it only lasted about a year and then disappeared. How’s that for a fact that you always wished you’d known?

This KOA park is lovely, not nearly full, but it’s very early in the season. Housing an RV is very inexpensive.  This park is one-third more expensive than any of the KOAs we were in up to now. Location, location, location.

Goodnight, dear family and friends. Day 4 will take us from Ashland VA to Carlisle, PA. A shoutout to Bobby Lerman’s alma mater, Dickinson.

Evelyn Lerman

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