Westward, Ho!

We left Camp Hatteras early the morning of August 31st and in hindsite, it was pretty good timing.  About 4 days later Hatteras and Okracoke Island were pretty much ground zero for hurricane Dorian. Talking with friends who stayed (they have a house there), both islands took a lot of wind and water.  There was a mandatory evacuation in force for visitors along with a recommended evac for residents.  Just prior to landfall all electricity was cut off to the islands and the bridges to the mainland were closed, so anyone remaining was completely shut off from leaving and on their own.  Scary stuff!  3 people died because of Dorian: one 61 year old man was caught in the storm-created rip current and drowned; one man fell off a ladder preparing for Dorian while a second died in a chainsaw accident, cleaning up afterwards.  Due to clear, advance planning, there were no other deaths, but lots of wind and water damage.  The island was without power and services for about a week and fortunately our friends made it through in good shape.

Four and a half months on Hatteras was long enough and we were ready to move on with our travels, the “Wander Gene” kicking in.  Leaving Hatteras before the chickens woke up, we stopped in Columbia, NC, for breakfast and a brief stroll downtown and along the river.  Cute little town. We try to do this as much as possible when we travel.  We also try to limit our daily mileage to around 250 miles or less.  On days we drive farther, we will spend 2 nights or more at our next destination to recharge.  Also we generally try to stop for a stretch break every couple hours and usually don’t go over 60 MPH on the highway.  Heck, what’s the rush?  We’re retired!

Our first major stop was to be near Atlanta (Duluth actually) to visit with our nephew Mike and his wife, Meg.  Prior to that we made a few stops along the way.

Our first night we stayed in a campground near Mebane, NC, then traveled on to Piedmont, SC, for a couple nights.  On the way we stopped in Belmont, NC, to visit their Daniel Stowe Botanical gardens. It was nice but we agreed we liked the gardens in Grand Rapids (Meijer Gardens) and Des Moines, IA better. The extra night allowed us to visit Greenville, SC, for the day.  Their downtown has been revitalized around Falls Park, a beautiful park overlooking a falls area on the Reedy river. Lunch in a French-style bistro overlooking the river, the falls and the Liberty Bridge, gave us the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Reaching Atlanta on September 3rd, we were warmly greeted by Mike & Meg.  It doesn’t seem possible that it has been some 30 years since we saw them last!  We could not find a decent RV park anywhere near them, however Mike arranged to allow us to park our rig in the little used parking lot of their HOA swimming pool. Perfect!  No hookups but they have a beautiful guest room that we stayed in, giving the RV a rest.

What a great time we had with them, catching up on family, and getting to meet their daughter, Kelly, her husband Nick, and their 2 really neat kids, Jacob & Katie.  Unfortunately, their son, Chris (the globetrotter!) was not in town while we were there so we will have to catch up with him on  the next trip.  Actually I have met Chris before, but he only weighed about 9 pounds so an update is in order.

Our 2 primary objectives in visiting Atlanta were to take in the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, and the much talked-about Georgia Aquarium.  Neither one of them disappointed us.

The Carter Library, like most of the other Presidential Museums we have visited (only 4 to go!) was very impressive.  I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan of Jimmy Carter when he was president, but seeing how good a person he was and is, plus the magnitude of great accomplishments he had while in office and how he continues to serve, makes me see him in a whole new light.  Every visit to both the official and un-official libraries has given Mary and me a stronger sense of our country’s history, and the immense challenge they must meet every day.

The aquarium was similar to others we have visited, but they have a large glass “tube” to walk through where sea animals like the huge whale shark, really large grouper and thousands of other fish of all shapes, sizes and colors swam over our heads and around us.  They also have a couple rooms with tall floor to ceiling glass, looking out at these beautiful creatures.  We both enjoyed the aquarium.

Our last night there, we went to dinner with Mike, Meg, Nick, Kelly, Jacob and Katie.  The most enjoyable night we have had in awhile and we look forward to seeing them again. 

Tomorrow we head for Tennessee.