ABC's of Our Recent Travels - Atlanta, Balloons and Charcuterie
October 30, 2015
It was so good to be back on the road again. When we pulled out of our campground, we were just giddy with excitement. Okay, maybe I was giddy, Greg was just glad to be moving again.
Originally, when we planned this trip back to Texas, our first scheduled stop was in southwest Virginia for about a week, slowly working our way to Knoxville by Halloween and then onto Nashville. As happens with many people who have a house on wheels, things change. We had to do some re-routing when we ended up staying in Pennsylvania about a week longer than we had anticipated and then also modified our schedule to include a trip to Atlanta. Ultimately we ended up bagging our southwest Virginia stop—with the exception of an overnight stay—and heading straight to Atlanta for about ten days.
First, a bit about our overnight stay. Many RV’ers, including us, when traveling from point A to point B, may pull into a parking lot that allows RV’s (Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Truck stops, etc.) And, while it makes for an inexpensive place to park for the night, we typically haven’t gotten a good night's sleep, which ultimately makes for a long next day.
The other thing that we’ve struggled a bit with was the amount of time actually on the road. Many RV’ers will limit their travel to around 200 miles a day, which for us, honestly feels like we are just getting rolling. But, on the flipside, there is an expiration to how long we feel comfortable driving in one day. This for us ideally seems to be around 400 miles, which creates a dilemma. The dilemma--do you just pull into a Walmart because it’s just an overnight stop? OR, spend the money for a campground to basically just sleep? I know, first world problems.
But a 400 mile day gets us to our stop—depending on morning departure time—around 4:00 or 5:00 pm. Arriving at 5:00 (even 6:00 or 7:00) at a Walmart parking lot, creates a little more time than we really want to be hanging out in their lot. If going to sleep at 8:00 pm would work for us, it could be an option, but that’s not going to happen. And sure we can shop to kill a little time…but ultimately we just haven’t found our mojo yet with the various overnight parking lot options.
We have also pulled into campgrounds for a quick overnight stay and providing there’s a campground close to the highway and aside from the cost, it works. It usually turns out to be sort of a blur of an experience and mostly we have spent money without little return, except a quick night’s sleep.
Neither option has been optimal for us.
But….I think we might have found a compromise. Harvest Hosts. Harvest Hosts is a program that links wineries, farms and the like with RV’ers. Various wineries, etc. will allow RV’ers to stay overnight in their parking lots and in return, you just spend some money at their establishment. Membership costs $40 annually and honestly, while we had known about it, it originally it just didn’t appeal to us until we started to try to figure out a better option for our overnight stays.
Whew! That was a long story just to get to the point of our overnight stay on our way to Atlanta. Yes, we joined Harvest Hosts and stayed at a winery for our overnight stop. The winery--White Barrel Winery in Christiansburg, VA--turned out to be the perfect solution for our dilemma. Sure, we spent some money, but we also had an experience. An extremely enjoyable experience….which is definitely not what you get staying at Walmart and typically not what you get at a campground next to a highway.
Nice shot of our coach and the vineyard!
The tasting room was still open when we arrived so we shared a nice bottle of wine and some charcuterie and when I say shared, I mean I drank most of the wine and Greg ate most of the charcuterie.
We had a great couple of hours just hanging at the winery, then we walked (perhaps stumbled) back to our coach, cooked some dinner, watched some tv and went to bed. We enjoyed a pretty decent night sleep, felt extremely safe, and woke up in a vineyard!! Well, a vineyard parking lot, but still, cool…way cool!! Ultimately we spent pretty much the same amount as we would have spent at a campground, but have a very nice memory to go with it.
The Tasting Room
Drone shot of the winery...(yes, the drone is back!!)
(And as a bonus, if you join Harvest Hosts and list a referral name on your application, you get a free month and so does the person who referred you. Not wanting this to be a commercial, but if any of our RV friends join, appreciate a shout out!!)
Okay…now onto Atlanta. We added this to our trip so we (Greg mainly) could help out a friend. Greg’s friend Tom passed away in August and Diane, Tom’s wife, needed a few things done around the house so she could get it ready to sell and move back to PA. The few things—new door, window, trim, some flooring, etc—were all the result of a new dog with some serious separation anxiety. This dog had it bad. He even ate the doorknobs.
We won’t bore you with the details of the repairs (Greg got them all done and everything turned out great) but we will however, bore you with a recap of our lunch while we were searching for a replacement door. Fox Brothers BBQ.
Not one to blog about food, but we saw this restaurant on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so we made a note of it knowing we would be back in Atlanta. And as luck would have it, it was only about twenty minutes from where we picked up the replacement door. BTW, twenty minutes in Atlanta is like going around the corner. Traffic is awful.
So, we passed on the glazed bologna, pimento cheese and frito sandwich, and opted to split the BBQ platter. Incredible. We have tried BBQ on most every stop, and heck, we even went to the BBQ capital of Texas; this place was better. Hands down. Sorry Texas.
Beautiful weather, great BBQ and outside dining. Score!
This trip, we stayed at a different COE park—McKinney Campground--which was equally as nice as Baldridge Creek Campground.
This was our own personal deck, overlooking Lake Alatoona.
Views from our back yard!
And while we have absolutely loved both parks, the one disadvantage of both is a locked gate. Curfew. And because it was off season, curfew was 9:00 pm, not 10:00 pm. What this meant was we had to weigh out activities—were our choices worthy of a late night hike of a couple of miles in the dark back to our campsite. Big decisions.
So, after much thought and discussion, we missed curfew…..only once.
Owl-o-ween was the “chosen” curfew breaking activity and Diane joined us for the festivities. This event was held at Kennesaw State University and was a Balloon glow, costume party, Octoberfest, combined with several bands playing throughout with food trucks, etc. And while it was crowded, which we didn’t anticipate, we had fun checking things out.
The Owl....of Owl-O-Ween
We definitely saw a tweety bird!!
Greg and Diane dancing at the kid's stage!
(They put the Tito Vodka stand right next to the kid's stage; what did they expect!!)
The bartender at the Tito stand
And as luck would have it, Greg had scoped out some “shortcuts” from the gate back to our campsite, which involved going down a dead end road, crawling through a fence, traipsing through the woods and down a ditch, over some knocked down trees, and then about a half mile later we were home!!
A pic from our trek in the woods....(okay, maybe I exaggerated a bit!)
Needless to say, we didn’t miss curfew any other nights.
The rest of our time in Atlanta was fairly routine—Greg finished up the repairs and I hopped on a plane for a quick work trip to Chicago. And, besides the shuttle ride back to the campground (which set a record for the most honks from other cars. Seriously, it was scary), my trip was pretty uneventful. (So, I actually missed curfew twice, but the shuttle driver dropped me at the gate and Greg picked me up, so I cheated!!)
And a few shots of...yes, a car (Bluefrogimports.com) covered with stuffed animals and other random stuff.
And Greg just couldn't resist!!
We pulled out of Atlanta Thursday, on to the next stop, Knoxville where will be until Monday... then onto Nashville. Thanks for following along….and will update again after out Knoxville visit.