Hot, Humid, Hazy.....and WET!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

We made it to Florida yesterday....after losing the serpentine belt on our Freightliner somewhere on I-75. No A/C, no engine fan, getting ready to have severe thunderstorms (good side of that was lower temps for a bit). We were fortunate to find a Ring Power (CAT) dealer about 20 miles away and they got us in & out quickly (and cheaply). Nice clean shop and really helpful folks. Maybe our luck is changing?

Today we'll visit Stu's mom and care folks in the rehab center and hopefully get a better idea if she will be able to go to assisted living or will need a nursing home. Either way we will be moving her out of her apartment.

Thunderstorms in the forecast every day, got 1-2" pooled all over the campsite so guess it doesn't matter that we didn't get to pick up our new trike in TN. Will get it when we leave here in a week or two.

We did go out to dinner last night. The Olive Garden is just up the road from our campground and even for a Friday we got in quickly. Great dinner and and drinks...oh, and a little rainbow on our way in. Again, maybe our luck is changing? LOL!

Our best to everyone scattered all over the country!!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu

Thr roller coaster ride continues....

Monday, June 22, 2009

This won't be a long post, just wanted to keep everyone updated. We made it to Maryland last Monday. The week that followed was emotionally and physically draining. Our son-in-law was well loved and will be much missed. You can see some of the photos on Facebook (I hope - let me know if not and I'll have her make it public).

We managed to cram in 3 hours of sleep before heading out in early morning for our flight home to Atlanta....we took a shuttle from Chattanooga to the Atlanta airport. Worked out well... Anyway, when we arrived at the Atlanta airport we got to meet up with a former co-worker of Stu's. We hope to get to California next spring to visit him and his wife (and get in some good riding).

But our roller coaster ride isn't over....here are the posts that Stu made in Facebook yesterday.

Got a call from Florida, It seems my Mom has had a serious heart attack. the next day or two should determine the path she will take. Making plans to move south (FL) today. In the meantime calling the family. Looks like our roller coaster hasn't made it to the end yet.

Followed by today's update.

Some improvement, Mom is being moved to a step down unit. The critical time period has started to end. The next couple days will determine where she may go after that. Obviously it will be with much more assistance then her current independent living status. Time will tell. I know she's feeling better, she was fussing at the nurses for her newspaper. Next she want her hair done.

So, we will be changing our plans for the indefinite future and will be heading to Florida. We may stay in the Escapees park in Bushnell, not sure yet. July in Florida is NOT a fun place to be but it's where we need to be.

Not sure how often we'll be blogging but will try to not leave you for too long. Once again...tell your loved ones how you feel. Life is too short...

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu

CMA Music Fest Concerts

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wow! Three days (okay....nights) of amazing concerts! The first night we got to see Brooks & Dunn followed by Reba McEntire. She got through two songs before they asked us all to move inside due to severe storm warnings (including tornadoes). We waited two hours....and then they let those of us who stayed, back out. Darius Rucker was on next and the night continued with Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley closing it out. We got home at 2:30. Phew!

The next night the weather co-operated. We heard Luke Bryan, Little Big Town, Rodney Adkins, Lady Antenellum, Jake Owen, Zac Brown band, Jason Aldean and Kid Rock. Tonight it was Josh Turner, Jamey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack, Wynonna, Trace Adkins & Martina McBride. Also Jason Michael Carroll did an acoustic interlude.

I have uploaded all three days of photos (although the third night is uploaded as I type this and probably won't be done for several hours...and won't be organized/captioned for a few more days). No editing has been done except to delete the truly trashy ones. The photos were taken of the large screens other than the stage shots.

I can't take time to edit these any further....we heard that Stu's youngest daughter (the one that got married April 4th) lost her 23 year old husband to Melanoma tonight. We are packing up and heading back to Maryland. Once more we are reminded that life is too short, my friends.

We won't be blogging for a bit, needless to say. I hope you enjoy some of the photos...there are a LOT.

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu

CMA Music Fest Registration Day

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Phew! What a day....we started the morning slowly, knowing we had plenty of time to get in to town to register. We had no firm plans other than that (although we did hit Camping World & Boswell's Rivergate Harley store).

Parking was a bit hairy but we found a 6-6 lot for $4 and after one aborted attempt, found a larger space and got parked. The day was overcast and spitting rain so we grabbed an umbrella and headed to Sommet Center to register. The crowd wasn't overly large but it was only about 11am.

After picking up our goody bags we headed across the street for something to eat and drink. We stopped in Rippy's, found a seat by the front window on Broadway where it turned out we had a decent view of the upcoming parade (which we had forgotten about).

After several beers, some decent food we cashed out ($48...gulp...LOL!) and wandered both sides of the street, checking out the stores (where there was A/C - it was HOT now). The heat was taking a toll on me (89 degrees with 96 heat index). We'd seen enough and headed homeward.

You can read a GREAT write-up about today HERE. They said it all...and explained some of the parade pics we took as well as why the sidewalk leading to the Cadillac Ranch was packed (at 3pm already - concert at 8pm).

We snapped some pics throughout the day - even one of Stu trying to make a phone call in the din of downtown. LOL! You can see them all at SmugMug. Here's a few to whet your appetite.



The event really kicks off today (Thursday)...unfortunately the rain has already delayed the performance by Gretchen Wilson. Most of the artists we want to see are in the evening so we're taking it easy till around 4pm when we'll head downtown again.

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu

Another quick update.....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Let's see....we enjoyed our time in Bryson City, NC even though we barely managed 2.5 days of good riding (weather & oil leak). We plan to go back to the Smokies over the July 4th weekend, just the other side (Cosby, TN).

We got our bicycles assembled (folding bikes from Camping World), hope to sell my high$$$ Trek Navigator via Craigslist while we are back in MD next month. Today we bought carry bags for the bikes, they will ride on the back seat of Freddie. I did some test riding around the campground...oh my! I haven't ridden a bicycle for about 45 years...and it's nothing like a motorcycle. But I did it and we look forward to using them in the future. A little more exercise is always a good thing.

We spent Monday night at a Sam's Club in Cookeville, TN (my old stomping grounds). We spent Monday afternoon working with the manager, Brad Nelson, at Boswell's Harley-Davidson. This is the dealer I worked with when I bought my last Harley, the Softail Deluxe. They are WONDERFUL folks and have always done right by me, going out of their way to be sure I was taken care of. Well, the tradition continues.....

We ordered a brand new 2009 Tri-Glide...it will be in by the end of the month and we can't wait. Big Red has done well by us but the new motorcycle comes stock with extras that we wanted to add...like cruise control, an oil cooler, CB, rear stereo speakers, 6-spd transmission, larger engine (good thing with the weight of a trike). It's still red and thus will continue the tradition of being Big Red, albeit number 2 (or BRT).


We are now at the Nashville Country RV Park in Goodlettsville, TN while we attend CMA Music Fest (formerly Fan Fair). We register tomorrow and get started on several days FULL of music & fun...probably won't blog till early next week...after we recover. LOL!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu

Big Red Oil Leak [& more]

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Apparently between the blog and our non-sense on FaceBook we didn't quite give folks a complete picture on Big Red's oil leak. We had left Big Red at the Harley Dealer in Staunton VA for some paint work, some repairs and a 10,000 mile maintenance. We picked up the trike last Saturday, drove for about 10 miles back to the campground. Loaded everything up in KaZy and down the road we went to Bryson City NC. Everything seemed fine.

On Sunday Donna and I set out for a nice ride in the Smoky Mountains. I checked the air in the tires and the shocks, cleaned the windshield and Donna loaded up all our gear. Off we went, up to Newfound Gap and down to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and over to Townsend. Between Pigeon Forge and Townsend we noticed oil on the engine and pipes, not a lot at first. I pulled the dipstick and found the reservoir overfilled by at least a quart. Oil was seeping out of both rocker boxes (valve covers to you cage drivers), seeping might have been an understatement. I felt it best not to drain any at this point and nursed it back to Bryson City. Needless to say we ruined two pair of pants and one of my shirts.

The next day was spent cleaning and making arrangements to get it fixed. One long tow on Tuesday to the Maryville, TN HD dealer and we're back in business. The two service managers worked out some sort of payment between them and I was not "out of pocket" any cash for the repairs. I still need to get reimbursed for the tow and clothes but all in all it worked out.

Businesses make mistakes, let's face it their run by flawed humans. Real credibility comes from how they address those mistakes. So far the VA dealer has stepped up. We'll see if that continues.

~ Stu

Today we headed out on another long ride, fingers crossed and channeling positive thoughts. We got a late start, having to reload all our gear onto Big Red (took it out thinking we were going to have to leave it at the dealer). We stopped in Cherokee, NC for a great breakfast at Granny's Steak & Pancake House (or something similar to that...LOL!).

We took some different roads than before, ending up at Ghost Town Harley in Waynesville, TN. Nice little shop with very pleasant staff. I picked up a shirt on sale and we headed back off. Keeping our eye to the sky we kept waiting for rain. We headed over to Cosby, TN which is one area we are considering as a future parking spot. One little sprinkle passed quickly.

We stopped at Carver's Applehouse Restaurant in Cosby for a mid-day snack. We had hoped for apple pie (led in by a sign touting the same) but once seated found out it was fried pie. Since we both avoid fried foods as much as possible we opted for the peach cobbler, topped with the requisite ice cream.

Oh my! We should have split one....they were HUGE but they were delicious, as was the coffee.


Once we rolled ourselves out of the chairs and waddled to the bike, we decided it was time to toss on some rain gear. Of course that meant the sun came out....LOL! But a little further down the road it started to seriously rain.

It started to warm up as we rolled into Gatlinburg. I pulled off my gloves and half unzipped my jacket & liner. Before we hit the middle of town it POURED. Phew! We were really glad we were dressed for it...we saw a lot of motorcyclists that weren't.

We crossed through the park and as we started coming down through the area of meadows close to the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway we saw several cars stopped on the other side of the road. There were a half dozen elk grazing, at least 4 were well antlered males. Suddenly the cars in front of us stopped in the road...a female charged across the road just 2 cars ahead of us.

We continued on our way, enjoying our wildlife interlude. Next thing we know we're seeing huge wild turkeys eating on the edge of the road. Another treat...at least none of them decided to cross the road in front of us. We continue on to the campground, thoroughly tired and yet invigorated....you need to ride to understand. Quite a day!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu

Canadians & long term US visits....help needed!

Monday, June 1, 2009

I received this note the other day and thought I'd would post it here. I know I have several Canadian readers and maybe they can help this lady more than I can.

Hi Donna. I would be interested in some discussions with you.....about Canadians being in the USA more than "six months less a day" and mail forwarding while you are on the road. We retired two years ago and are also "roadies" but with some logistical issues that I'd like to chat about with someone who has been doing the same things.

So, feel free to comment here or contact me if you feel you can help and you want her email address. Thanks in advance!!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu

First day in the Smokies....

Just a short note before heading out for another riding day here in the Smokies. We did get in and parked at Deep Creek Campground....not in the site they selected for us though. After 30 minutes of trying to back in the dark, they came out and told us to just pull ahead into the LONG pull-through spot. Wish they had done that first...oh well! LOL!

We slept in on Sunday, catching up from our days on the road. We finally headed out on the bike around 1:30, leaving Bryson City and heading up to Cherokee to cross through the Smoky Mountain National Park over to Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge.

We stopped at Mel's Diner in Pigeon Forge for lunch and then crossed the street to the Harley Dealer for a visit. From there we continued on to Townsend. That's when the fun began.

We stopped for a soda and stretch break. Stu noticed that there was oil all over the right side of the engine....and on his pant leg....and all the way back to the rear fender. A quick check on the oil showed the level way too high. We went in and had ice cream while we let the engine cool...

Stu then took the air filter off and cleaned it...got several tablespoons full of oil out of it. We headed off again...got worse...many stops to wipe the bike and us off....even had two volunteer park rangers stop to see if we were okay. They had chatted with us earlier in the afternoon when we stopped to take a break and ended up checking out the bear feeding on the ridge above the parking area.

Here's some shots of the day...the rest are at The Smokies and Big Red's Oil Spew.




Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu