Camper Shake Down

Friday August 5th

Today, we began our first shake down trip in our new Aliner camper.  After several weeks of planning and preparing the trailer, we felt we were ready.  Our plan was to drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway so we could camp in the cooler elevations.  Our first stop was at Chantilly Farms, a beautiful campground near Floyd, VA.  After setting up camp, we drove to Mabry Mill and walked around Floyd where people were gathering to go to the Friday Blue Grass concert at the Floyd Country Store.  We love the funky shops in Floyd.  I particularly love the tie-dye clothing!  We opted not to go to the concert and returned to the campsite to enjoy a beautiful evening in the mountains.


We headed down the Parkway and stopped at the Blue Ridge Music Center. To our surprise, there was a free mid-day concert and we were able to eat lunch while listening to a really good Blue Grass band. The three folks on the right in the photo below are father, daughter and grandfather respectively! We got off the Parkway at West Jefferson and drove through Todd to the KOA Campsite near Boone, NC.  By the time we set up camp, it was time to call it a day.


Today, our first objective was to ride the Railroad Grade Road in Todd.  We thought it was an old rail road that had been made into a rail trail...since I found it on the Rail Trail website. It is not!  It's a country road that is heavily used by bikers and the cars were few and bike friendly so it was a great place to ride....flat as a pancake for 10 miles along the New River.  The weather was for showers possible after noon so we thought we would be safe beginning at 9:30 a.m.  We rode 10 miles to Fleetwood and tuned around for the trip back.  Three miles into the return trip, we noticed heavy fog in the distance.  It turned out to be pretty heavy rain that soaked us for the last seven miles! The ride is absolutely beautiful and the only downside from the ride was the smelly, wet bike shoes we had in the back of the van for the rest of the trip; even when we put them on the roof while parked whenever we found a moment of sunny sky.  Alas, nobody stole them...we were hoping!

Hot tea with lunch in Boone warmed us up and we headed back to the campground for showers.  Later in the afternoon we headed to Blowing Rock to walk around the old town.  It's a yuppy kind of place and we love it!


We drove south with a quick lunch stop at Linville Falls en route to Mt. Pisgah where  we noted the camper brakes were acting funky.  We set up camp and then headed to the Inn for dinner.  The Inn was in the clouds and we asked a couple at the window table near us if we could take their photo to verify the view.

Mt. Pisgah Inn was the first place Kelley ordered something off of the menu other than mac and cheese or toasted cheese, 22 years ago.  She was 16 years old and ordered trout.  In her honor, I ordered trout tonight and it was delicious!


During the night, we found out that our camper was water tight as it just poured on and off all night. After breakfast, we headed down the mountain in search of sunlight and the North Carolina Arboretum. What a wonderful place, with gardens, galleries, an outdoor Bonsai exhibit, biking and hiking trails and an education center with a cafe. One of the artists on display throughout the gardens was Sean Kenney, a Lego sculptor.  Here is a photo of his Monarch Butterfly.

The one thing that did not work well in our camper set up was the grey water drain. So we headed to an RV dealer in Asheville.  It was a nasty place. Gretchen took one step into the store and walked right out.  But they had the parts we needed and now we have a functional drain!

Our next stop was Brevard.  We had never actually stopped there but we had passed through on our way to finding the spot Daniel Day-Lewis ran up the rocks in Last of the Mohicans for the girls when they were teenagers! Brevard has a really nice town center to stroll around.  We then found the Brevard Music Center which was really nice.  We'll have to plan a trip in the future to attend a concert.

Our next stop was the Cradle of Forestry on our drive up Mt. Pisgah to our campsite.  It is an impressive place exhibiting the history and scope of forestry.  The science of forestry began on the Biltmore Estate with Gifford Pinchot, who managed their  forest in the early 1890s and then became the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. German forester Dr. Carl Schenck replaced Pinchot at the Estate and founded the Biltmore Forestry School in 1898.  Summer classes were taught in a camp on the current Cradle site.

We decided to eat at the Inn again since the food was great and the prices reasonable.  Tonight the view was the same from the restaurant and fog shrouded our camper. We both had burgers and they were really good and REALLY huge! We have not eaten that much food in one seating in years and hopefully, will not for years to come!

We were planning to drive back up the Parkway but since we encountered brake problems, we decided to come home via major roads.  All in all, it was a great shake down trip.  The only item we needed that we had not packed was an essential...a wine stopper!


A Life Celebrated!

Friday July 29th

Family traveled from afar to celebrate the life of Peg; our mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend.  We gathered at the Olmes house Friday evening for dinner. It was a chance for old folks to remember, cousins to catch up on each other's lives and children to meet and play. The food was great, the beverages ample and the camaraderie priceless! Thanks so much for your hospitality Priscilla and Phil.


The morning was blue sky and sunny as we gathered on the cemetery hill to return Peg's ashes to the earth.

Adults reflected as the pastor read, while children petted granite lambs, wondered what the hole in the ground was for, roamed among tombstones and shuffled on chairs. Tears dropped on cheeks as family and friends voiced remembrances, mementoes were placed in the grave with the  urn; a photo, roses, dollar bill, and a deck of cards.

We departed feeling blessed for having known this strong, loving, kind woman who always voiced something positive about the people she met.

May the Lord bless and keep you Margaret Louise Bolton, Amen.

Next stop was Seton Manor to hang the Dove on the 'Living Tree' wall plaque, signifying the contributions family and friends gave to the nursing home in Peg's memory. 

Lunch followed at Heisler's Dairy Bar, a favorite of Peg's plus everyone who grew up in the area. Indeed, ice cream was consumed and miniature golf was played!

In the evening, we ate dinner together at the Oak Hill Restaurant; a final time to enjoy the memories we have of our times spent with Peg and to cherish the short time we had to see each other this weekend!


The celebration was over but our memories of a life well lived persisted as we headed north, east, south and west by plane and car to our distant homes with smiles on our faces!

With an end, a new beginning awaits.

Priscilla and Phil, your property with its view of Hawk Mountain is awesome! May the real estate elves move quickly and the construction begin soon!