A part of us hated to leave the Beach after having so much fun with all our families and hometown friends, but another part of us was glad to be getting back on the road again. We left the Holiday Travel Park and headed west out Highway 58 to Interstate 85. We found out the next day that a mutual friend of Debbie Haddad's, Butch saw us leaving the beach on I 264 and recognized Josie in the passenger seat. We drove to Hendersonville North Carolina so we could visit with Leon Hoots mother Ruth a very nice lady and always fun to catch up with. She came by and saw our home and then we drove down to Leon and Laura's lake house on Lake Lure. Along the way we stopped at a few of the apple orchards and picked up apples, apple bread and fried apple pies. Good Eats!
The next day we continued west on I 40 and stopped for the night in the parking lot of the Sam's Club in Jackson Tennessee. There were 6 other RV's parked in the same lot. We had our first experience with a beggar who approached our door asking for money. Ole easy mark me caved and gave him some money. I did start the generator and put up the Direct TV dish and watched my KC Royals win the first round of the ALCS playoffs. We awoke early the next morning and drove to Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. We found a beautiful camp site right on a creek and after we set up drove into Hot Springs. The main attraction here is Bath House Row where people have been coming for over a century to bath in the hot mineral waters. Two of the original bath houses are now active providing all sorts of therapeutic treatment and steam baths. The Fordyce Bathhouse is now used as the Parks visitor Center. It has been restored to its original grandeur and you can take a self guided tour of the facilities. The Superior Bathhouse has been converted into the Superior Brewery where they brew the world's only beer made with thermal spring water. We had a late lunch there and the fare was excellent. Josie had a Brie and Mushroom Strudel with a Root Beer and I had a Ruben Sandwich with Blue Cheese and Bacon Potato Salad. I washed that down with a Pumpernickel Stout. We then went back to the campground and sat and watched the birds flying around the creek.
We left Hot Springs and drove Southwest to Mesquite Texas for two night of sprint car races at Devils Bowl Speedway. We ran into Dean whom we had met this past summer while following the Indiana sprint car week. We took one afternoon to drive into Dallas and visit the site of John F Kennedy's assassination. It must be an omen of this place having a bad karma because I accidentally deleted all the pictures I took of our visit. We stopped on the way back to the race track for some good ole Texas BBQ.
We spent the next two days driving across Texas, New Mexico and into Arizona. We were treated to a great sunrise on our last day in Texas. We had forgotten that we would climb to over 5500 feet in New Mexico and Josie had a coke explode on her when she opened it at higher altitude. I was more amused by it than she was. We spent our last night on the road in Benson AZ and we had a giant saguaro in our camp site. We are now parked back in Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort and will be here for the next three and a half months.
The past five weeks in Virginia Beach have been so busy they have flown by. We were able to catch up with many of our Virginia Beach friends and enjoyed visiting with them. Our friend Shannon Townsend rode by on her bike and visited us while we were in First Landing State Park. We later attended their son, Sam's soccer game. Since they were going out of town for the weekend we were able to dog sit their dog Mocha who we used to watch all the time. We went to dinner with Bruce and Audra Stewart who surprised us by also inviting Steve and Linda White. Later in our stay we meet Steve and Linda at one of our favorite Italian restaurants for a nice dinner. Unfortunately we had to visit our friend Bob Loomis at the hospital and then later in rehab while he recuperated from a broken femur. Josie was able to have lunch with his wife Kathy one afternoon and then again when our friend Renee Hudgins came into town from her new home in central Virginia. We had a great breakfast with Pat and Bob Joseph, the couple who introduced Josie to me 24 years ago. We also were able to visit with Linda Nopper and her parents Bill and Joanne one morning and then we had a nice lunch with Linda and Brooks a few weeks later. I was able to have lunch with the ladies I worked with for so many years, Bonnie Jennifer and Dee one afternoon. It was great catching up with them and seeing what was going on with them and their families. Josie's sister and her husband Rich came down from Delaware for a few days and we had a great time with them. Then Josie's daughter Cathy and her husband Scott joined us for a long weekend and we all met the Josephs for lunch at Bubba's, one of our favorite hangouts. Later that evening we had dinner with Cathy and Scott, Aaron Decker and Leon and Laura Hoots for what we thought would be our last get together. But the next day we were all able to meet for an impromptu get together at Pleasure House Brewery. A good time was had by all drinking Bourbon Barrel Stout.
Josie also spent a few days at the Haddad household catching up with all the activities of Alex, Izzy, Eli and Livi. Livi also came over and spent a night in the RV while I was out of town. It was amazing how much they had grown in the past two years.
One evening we picked up our friend Aaron Decker and met Mike and Martha Weirich and Terri and Matt Albright at a Tides baseball game that was rained out by a powerful thunderstorm. Aaron and I were able to get back to see the Tides in a playoff game the next week.
Aaron and I were able to tailgate with Missy up in Charlottesville at two UVA football games. On one of those trips Aaron and I drove up to a very foggy Blue Ridge Parkway and birded our way down to Bold Rock Cidery and Taproom for lunch. We also went to two ODU football games and tailgated with Leon and Laura.
The weather turned nasty off and on for almost two weeks, with high winds and heavy rain. Luckily hurricane Joaquin turned to the east and we did not have to leave early. Aaron and I tried to do some birding on the Eastern Shore of Virginia but after a few hours the wind and rain returned so we had to retreat to the nearby Hooters. Despite the bad weather I was able to play a lot of golf with all of my retired teaching buddies.
We are so blessed to have so many good friends here in Virginia. We treasure our friendships with them and love them all.