Friday, November 5, 2021

Crossing The Carolinas

I have to confess I should have got up when I woke up yesterday and sat like a disciplined little essayist at my desk aboard GANNET2 and started typing. Instead I pulled the bed clothes up a little tighter to my chin and stayed where I was warm.  Rusty, the 5 am alarm clock wasn’t going anywhere, he stayed curled up next to me, if not sleeping then pretending total exhaustion.

We left the campground mid morning and took off for a winery some four hours away in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina, the wine growing equivalent to the Napa Valley. To get there we started out avoiding freeways and taking South Carolina backroads to Gaffney home to a truck stop. Exciting eh? Everyone in vans  loves gyms and truck stops for a reason as we shall see. 

On the way we came across a traffic jam. Chaos.  Well, not really, as everyone kept their heads and figured out what to do as they waited for the tow truck…No cops, no flags no stress. The Prime truck had tried to take the corner and failed as it was just too tight and his trailer tires slipped into the ditch and would only come out with help. The logging trucks took turns with oncoming traffic one by one and when our turn came we followed the blue Google line to the right and off we went.  Five minute delay. Easy. The no stress accident. 

Why the truck stop? Because it was 55 degrees out and no way were we deploying the solar shower! For thirteen dollars we shared a shower and it was excellent.  The shower was clean the towels were thick and fluffy and now you know why we enjoy showering on the road with truckers. Anyone is welcome to use them no matter what you drive.  Gyms aren’t good for us yet as long as Layne has auto-immune issues in the pandemic but gym showers are another popular way to stay clean when wipes have outlived their cleanliness. That hot shower feeling!

After the Pilot truck stop we took I-77 past Charlotte to the Yadkin Valley and the winery selected by my sister-in-law.  It was perfect, a building on a hill with a gorgeous view to the Blue Ridge mountains to the north, no neighbors, clear skies and silence. 

A weekday parking spot just for us and the offer of two nights at what is in reality a harvest host stop. We had a wine tasting, then bought some wine. The place was ours for the night.


Rusty was free to wander at will and he did, nose down crossing the fields with me in distant attendance. Full sized white tailed deer popped out of the woods to graze at dusk and he watched  in fascination.

The deer are a problem for anyone growing what they view as food so the winery uses electric fences which Rusty seemed to recognize as he avoided it without getting a shock much to my relief.

For some reason the fall foliage is holding on later than usual this year according to our relatives and the colors are superb.











We broke out our puffy jackets.  We have a few days in North Carolina then we drive north to Rock Island and Chicago where temperatures are supposed to be what they are now here. The next test is our electric heater which we will try out and report back.  Our bed is warm and comfortable and made by RV Superbag, a kind of well built sleeping back with proper sheets. The van is well insulated so with fifteen minutes of engine heater we have a livable environment when it’s 40 degrees outside with our windows sealed with insulated covers. It’s actually quite snug. Rusty sleeps comfortably judging by the snores.

My in laws brought chicken to their hotel room and took us to a drive through for fries at McDonalds. This probably doesn’t sound so very radical to you but you have to understand my sister in law and her husband have followed an alternative path through life being annoyingly woke before woke was a phrase in common use. Age brings wisdom and who doesn’t like fries with that? I sure do as did the other old age pensioners in the Prius. I would never have believed it but here’s Bob, proof positive he was in line at a major corporate fast food restaurant overcoming a lifetime of rejection of fast food. 

Dinner was delicious and I scarfed my fries with chicken and wine and got a ride back to the winery for the night. This was where we did the tasting, ate cheese and crackers and caught up with the winemaker in attendance. It was all very decadent. I said to Layne “How long have we been on the road?” Nine days she said. “Oh,” I said, “about half a usual vacation…”  Imagine that and here we are, still going strong!

Wine tasting without driving.  Excellent retirement practice, and I recommend it. Cold yes but out of season means not many people. Thumbs up and bring your puffy jacket as you’ll need it.