You can click on "photos"
directly to the first photo page, which has a connector to the second
page (if there is one).
(September 1 to December 31, 2009)
The title of this travelogue stemmed from my desire to put no more than
5,000 miles on the motorhome in 2009 after the very expensive traveling
we did in 2008 in Alberta and British Columbia when fuel prices were
extremely high. Our summer of 2009 was one of the most interesting in
our 10 years on the road and we ended up putting 4,377 miles on the
motorhome. We still filled our desire for travel, visited with lots of
family and friends, met new friends, and did it without spending a lot
money on fuel and campgrounds.
The point is that many folks who want to get into RVing believe that
you need a lot of money to do it. Those of us who have experience with
the lifestyle always tell folks that you can spend as much money as you
want while RVing. This past summer showed how travel can be done on
much less than one may think is necessary. Updated costs are posted in
the Expenses section which shows how little we spent on fuel and
campgrounds during the summer of 2009.
September 1 to September 7: Pigeon Forge,
Tennessee (185 miles)
Route: I-81; TN 66;
US 321; local roads
Waldens Creek Campground
This park was convenient for visiting Pigeon Forge and
Gatlinburg. The sites are a bit tight, but the other parks we
noticed seemed to also be a bit tight. The folks in the office
were very nice and helped us make sure we got a site where we could use
We had never been to this area so I guess we ended up doing the usual
tourist stuff. One day we drove to Gatlinburg and took the tramway to
the top of the mountain which offered some good views. Some of the
houses we noticed as we rose to the top were awesome, and they were
mostly just summer houses.
After coming down from the mountain we walked through the town. Up one
side of the main street and down the other. Stores and more stores.
Luckily, we were there when it wasn't very crowded. I can't imagine
what it would be like to walk the street during peak season. For me,
Gatlinburg was a "been there, done that" kind of experience. There's
nothing there that would especially make me want to return for multiple
We also took a day to drive in the mountains as we visited Cades Cove
and Clingmans Dome. Settlers migrated to this area from Virginia in
1819. Later they came from North Carolina. By the 1850s the population
of Cades Cove peaked at 685 in 137 households. The population growth
caused the soil quality to deteriorate. With the opening of the West
that brought more opportunity for fertile lands the population of Cades
Cove dwindled to 268 people by 1860. Diane and I walked around the town
and into the historical buildings before continuing on our scenic drive
through the mountains.
the things we had always talked about doing was to zip line. We
saw a brochure for one that was in the area, Wahoo Ziplines, so we jumped at
the chance to experience zip lining. When we found out the cost was
free if we were to listen to a pitch for a vacation club, we signed up.
That saved us the $180 cost of two zip line trips. What a fantastic
experience it was to zip through the tree tops at up to 40 mph.
Diane and I have experienced riding in a balloon, a glider, and a
small airplane, all of which were great experiences. Diane still talks
about jumping out of a functioning airplane (tandem of course), but I'm
not sure I'll go that far.
September 8 to
September 10: Chattanooga, Tennessee (139 miles)
US 321; US 411; US 64; I-75;
Holiday Trav-L-Park We
stayed at this park back in 2004. It's a nice park, but has a lot of
trees. Cable TV is good. HD over the air is good. However, if you
absolutely need to use your satellite dish, there is no guarantee that
you can use it from the site you are assigned. They could do a good
service to their customers by knowing which sites would allow use of a
dish and which wouldn't. The RV park we stayed at in Williamsburg, VA
had such sites noted on their park map. Nice service.
Our purpose in stopping here was to visit the Chicamauga & Chattanooga
National Military Park. That would wrap up our summer tour of Civil
War sites that we started visiting back in Manassas, Virginia. We had
visited this park way back in the early 80s after we moved to Marietta,
Georgia and remember it as being a big and interesting Civil War site.
The park contains the 5,500 acre Chicamauga battlefield that was the
scene of the last major Confederate victory of the Civil War. The
battle was fought from September 18 to 20, 1863. It had the second
highest number of casualties of the Civil War. Gettysburg had the
highest number of casualties.
This stop completed our summer tour of Civil War sites that started in
early summer at Gettysburg followed by seven weeks touring sites in
Virginia. They were all interesting and moving, but the top two for me
were Gettysburg and Chicamauga.
September 11 to
September 26: Douglasville, Georgia (108 miles)
I-75; GA 92; local roads
We did the usual things when we are in Douglasville: visit kids and
grandkids, friends, and take care of doctor and dentist visits.
During our stay this time we experienced torrential rains that flooded
roads in the area, including a washed out section of the road Jill
lives on. The road was closed for many weeks before a new culvert was
put in. It was a real mess getting around the Atlanta area and was not
unusual to come to a road that was closed and forced detours, sometimes
lengthy, to get around the area.
Another thing that developed was severe pain in the back of both of my
that started right after Labor Day. I tried to ignore it and thought it
would work its way out and go away.
September 27 to October 3:
Fairfield Glade, Tennessee (217 miles)
I-75; I-40; Peavine Road (via
We have usually traded our time share week for Fairfield Glade as we do
love the mountains and the area. It gave Diane the chance to soak in a
bathtub after only being able to shower in the motorhome. We also got
to visit with our friend Greg Rasch and I got to play most of a round
of golf with him on one of the five courses in town. I say almost
because the pain was so bad in my thighs which caused me to stop
playing after 15 holes.
to November 8:
Douglasville, Georgia (217 miles)
reverse of above route
I finally gave in and saw an
where Jill worked to find out what was going on with my back. An MRI
showed spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the
spinal column. The pain level was 8-10 level. When the doctor suggested
an epidural, which may, or may not, fix the problem, I agreed. The shot
dropped the pain level to around 4-5, but still a problem.
We hung around Douglasville for a few more weeks to maximize our visit
with the grandkids and then headed to Florida.
November 9 to November
Lake City, Florida (307 miles)
local roads; I-75; I-10
Oaks n Pines Campground We
stay here every time we come through the area. It's convenient to
where Diane's brother lives. It's a Passport America campground,
so the price is right. The owners, Jim and Cherrie are nice folks
and we like staying here. The sites are tight, but there is free
Wi-Fi; cable TV, including HD channels; a concrete patio.
J in Valdosta, GA for $2.749
Diane's brother and his wife, Jan, came over to visit and Diane and he
got caught up on the family.
Ocala, Florida (83 miles)
It was time for annual
routine maintenance so we stopped here to get it done. I also needed to
check on my mom's house that had been on the market since July 2007.
The housing market is incredibly bad in Florida.
November 12 to November 16:
Clermont, Florida (75 miles)
Route: I-75; SR 44; US 27;
Lake Magic RV Resort This is a Passport America park so we
usually stop here when we are passing through so we can get a
Many of the folks we've met over the years when we used to winter at
this park have moved to the Citrus Highlands RV Park. We drove over
there to visit
with our friends Dirk Harrington, and Chuck and Linda Dombrow.
A former colleague of mine, Julius Aita, from when I worked in Miami
had recently moved to the area and close to the RV park. Julius and
Robin invited us to their new home for lunch where we had a great visit.
We also got together with my cousin, Dawn, as we do whenever we are in
It was a short stop, but we enjoyed the visits with everyone.
17 to December 14:
Port St. Lucie, Florida (90 miles)
US 27; SR 60; I-95; local
Port St. Lucie RV Resort
The sites are tight, and the prices are high in winter, but this is
really the only RV park in town other than the Outdoor Resorts. As
gorgeous as the Outdoor Resorts park is, it is targeted at folks with
very deep pockets. Monthly rates there top out around $1,500.
J in Fort Pierce, FL for $2.789
We settled in and started meeting the folks who would be our neighbors
for the next several months. Diane made several friends who got
We also went to visit my mom who is living in an assisted living
facility about 10 miles from the RV park. My brother, Charlie, moved to
a place about 1 1/2 miles from the park, which made it very convenient
to get together for meals and to golf with him and my high school
friend Frank Pesile who also lived nearby.
The area gives us everything we want and need. There is a Wal-Mart
and Sam's Club a mile away across the road (US 1) from each other. The
Treasure Coast Mall is four miles away and has a Regal Theater where we
go at least once a week to see one or two movies. There are plenty of
restaurants to satisfy our dining tastes. I was a happy camper after
on the road for several months. Could be that after more than nine
years that I was starting to feel a desire to slow down a bit and not
travel 52 weeks a year.
15 to December 28:
For the second year in a row we decided to take Diane's sister up on
her invitation to spend Christmas with them. We booked a flight with
Delta, which wasn't easy given it was around the holiday time period.
The flight was good and on time with Kevin waiting to pick us up at the
airport. He drove us to where Carol was working so we could say hello
and then to their house.
Once again we had a great couple of weeks. It's always very relaxing
when we visit with Carol and Kevin. Only one child remains living at
home and that
would be Jenny. She is a riot and makes us laugh often. Justine was
home from college, and Jeff, who lives in the area, stopped by often.
Diane and Carol do the sisterly stuff and enjoy each other's company.
Kevin and I have lots of interesting discussions where we don't always
agree but can understand the other's viewpoints.
And, of course, Diane and I didn't skip a beat when it came to seeing
current movies. The Harkins Theater chain in the area has huge screens
and nice seats.
It turned out that my high school friends, Rich Gorin and Tom
McInerney, were visiting the area while we were there. We made plans to
visit over lunch in Scottsdale at the Carlsbad Tavern, along with
Rich's partner Bruce, Tom's wife Barbara, and Diane. It's always great
to hook with folks along our journey. Rich has been fighting the good
fight against cancer for quite a while and looked good. We all
certainly wished him the best to get to the remission stage.
For the second Christmas our friends Peter and Christiane Ermke were in
Arizona for the winter which allowed us to get together with them at a
Buca di Beppo restaurant along with Carol and Kevin. It was a great
evening of food and camaraderie.
December 29 to December 31: Port St. Lucie, Florida
Port St. Lucie RV Resort
It was back to Port St. Lucie where we planned to stay until sometime
That wraps up our 2009. We have no plans for 2010 as yet, but we will
stay east of the Mississippi.
Until next time,
Copyright © 2010,
Roaming America with Rich &
Diane Emond -
All Rights Reserved