Travels With Dave and Jane
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Travels South: Spring 2007: Part 1
We began our trip south on March 13. It was rather cold in Vermont although it had warmed to 40 from a low of -15 (+/-). This time we didn't have a chance to fully prepare the Roadtrek so we started off by camping "dry", ie no on-board water. We also didn't have a chance to do as neat a packing job as we usually do so things weren't as well organized as we like. Here's what the Roadtrek looked like on March 2:
On the first day we got as far as a WalMart parking lot in Hazle Pennsylvania where the weather was much warmer with highs around 60 but still chilly at night. On the second day we went from Pennsylvania through Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and ended up in Tennessee. How about 5 states in one day?! We weren't consciously trying to push the schedule but the driving just turned out that way. Along the way we saw the last of the snow and the first of the daffodils.
It got hot along the way and we quickly changed into t-shirts and shorts right after we took this picture..
We stopped at a nice KOA in Tennessee and had a chance to top off the water tanks and tidy things up. The next day (March 15) we got as far as Asheville North Carolina and stayed at another KOA. We had a chance to stop at a local farmers' market and stock up on some fresh vegetables and cheese. We tried to visit the Biltmore mansion in Asheville but it was too late in the day and too expensive for such a short time. Next time we'll spend time there and explore.
We had a nice walk in a local nature center and saw some fine animals! It was a nice break from sitting and driving.
Great fun watching the bears play.
On March 17 we got to Cordele Georgia. This is the place that several fellow Roadtrekers decided to meet before the FMCA rally in Perry Georgia. We did some shopping and took a side trip to Plains Georgia to see Jimmy Carter's museum. Plains is a remarkable town. In spite of being home to a former president and humanitarian activist it's very low key. It's small, rural, and looks pretty much unspoiled. Mr. Jimmy, as the locals call him, apparently is just a regular guy and moves around without a whole lot of fanfare. Here's the famous peanut monument with the Jimmy Carter smile.
Downtown is small, simple and pretty. There's a lot of civic pride. Naturally we bought some peanuts and Jane had some peanut ice cream. .
The old depot and site of the Carter presidential campaign headquarters.
Do you remember "Billy Beer"? That had cans of Billy Carter's famous beer on sale for $10 with the beer inside or $5 empty. We passed on both.
We left Cordele and headed to the Family Motor Coach Association convention in Perry Georgia as a Roadtrek convoy on March 19. There were about 12 of us at this little "pre" rally and we made what we think was an impression as we headed along the Interstate to Perry.
Jane at the wheel. Note scarf around the neck: this was the last day she wore it.
The FMCA convention featured mostly the Class A rigs (ah, bus-sized coaches) and us little Class B camper vans were greatly outnumbered. However we did get grouped together and had a chance to socialize and swap Roadtrek stories.
Right across the road were some of the "big boys".
The convention was held at the Georgia State Fairgrounds and there was the usual array of fair food and entertainment.
"I'll meet you under the clock tower."
This was the first FMCA convention that we attended. There were 3,700 member coaches (see, I remembered the right term!) accounting for about 8,000 people. On top of that there were 2,000 vendors and and the population of Perry is 9,600. Suffice it to say the mayor was happy to see a doubling of his population.
The vendors were selling everything from the big coaches at $600,000 and up to miracle glue at only $8 per bottle. Act now and we'll throw in a free tube of miracle solvent.....
There were 750 new coaches to walk through. Some of these could be taken for a demonstration drive although puttering around in Perry Georgia in a 42 foot long coach didn't appeal to us at least. How do you parallel park one of these and do you have to put money in all 20 parking meters?
On the last day we took an optional tour to see FDR's "little white house" and Callaway Gardens. Roosevelt suffered from polio and visited Warm Springs Georgia in search of relief.
Callaway Gardens is a bit like Shelburne Farms only on a much larger scale. (It's all horticulture but no farm animals.) We saw some beautiful flowers and had a chance to do a bit of walking. Remember that this is March! It's SO different from Vermont at this time of year and was more than a little bit of a shock to us.
Note the topiary appropriate to the season. Can you tell what it is?
We have a lot more pictures like this and may post more once we have some more time to sort things out.
Like all guided tours we ended up being herded back to the bus and would have liked to have spent a lot more time there. Maybe next time.
On the last night of the FMCA convention we were treated to the Oak Ridge Boys concert. It's fun to see how they've grown old gracefully and still preserved their performance energy.
On the next installment we'll cover Georgia to Texas.