After an easy 3 hour drive, we arrived at Tom Johnson Camping Center in Marion, NC on Saturday, May 23, all ready for rally fun! Tracy & Lee, Cori & Greg and Sue & Guy had arrived the day before us and saved us a spot near them.
OH – and before I forget – our new bike rack was waiting for us when we got there! Here are our newly repaired bikes on their new bike rack!
The festivities began that first evening with a yummy catered dinner. At some point, there was some type of game with marshmallows, which ended with Howard getting pelted with them!
After dinner, there is always a campfire with all the attendees, but we decided we wanted something more intimate to spend time with each other. So, down near the creek we went and Craig built us one of his awesome fires!
The next day was Sunday, and we had signed up for the Silver Fork Winery Brunch and Jam. It was a beautiful setting, surrounded by a vineyard and mountains! The band was really good and the food was excellent!
Afterward, we decided to join others at a different winery, South Creek, which is nearby. They had tastings and a singer/songwriter playing.
Sunday, after a catered breakfast of biscuits and gravy, eggs, sausage, bacon, EXCELLENT hash brown casserole, OJ and coffee, it was time to get our pics taken. Here is one of the group – there are many more with people from each rally represented.
That evening we had a pot luck dinner. Bill and I brought Grandma Murray’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese, since it was such a big hit last time. There was a HUGE variety of foods, all I sampled were delicious!
Needless to say, if you went away hungry, it was your own fault!
Tuesday, there wasn’t a lot going on for us. There was zip-lining or a foodie tour, but we hadn’t signed up for either of those. I started the day taking Cocoa to the vet for her thyroid level check. The people at the vet were very nice, but it ended up being sort-of a waste of time b/c the vet where I was having the test taken said to give her the pill the night before the test. My vet in OBX wanted the results after 4 to 6 hours. Oh well, the RX was renewed and now I will have to take her again while we are in Pittsburgh.
Tuesday evening, it had been decided that we were going to have a party – since the Cinco de Mayo party (which was also a Tuesday) was such a success. Tracy had asked Bill about making strawberry daiquiri and pina coladas. Well, the Class of 2014 is 2 for 2 for Tuesday parties! Everyone who came by had a great time! We had drinks, and music and dancing! FUN! Great memories made!
Wednesday was the Biltmore Estate tour. Bill had seen it years ago with a work thing and decided not to go again, but I wanted to see it, so Jo and I went with Red and Pam. I was VERY disappointed that we could not take pics inside, only outside. I cannot believe it is a single family dwelling, as it is larger than a lot of hotels!
After the house tour, we visited Antler Village and Winery. It is the newest addition to the Biltmore Estate property and features cool little shops, a winery and creamery. We took full advantage of it all! Red is more of a beer kind of guy and Jo wanted to spend more time outside, so Pam and I went in and tasted some of their wines. I did enjoy some, but Pam really liked a few of them, enough to buy them! Red, very generously treated me to some of their “premium tastings”, which was very nice and much appreciated! After sipping some wine, we made our way over to the creamery and sampled some ice creams! Jo said it was one of the best sugar-free vanilla’s she had ever had! Sadly, didn’t get a pic of that part!
We drove back to take a peak of the flower garden area – wow! Bill and I have been to Longwood Gardens, which is the Dupont Estate, (one of the largest conservatories in the country), while this was not that big, it was very nice.
All in all, it was a great day spent with friends!
Thursday was a BIG day! Bill and I had signed up for white water rafting! We have been before, but it has been a long time, so we decided to go for it! Tracy, Jo & Craig, and Pam & Red had also signed up from our “group”. We got up at dark thirty (VERY early – like 5am!) and made our way to the gathering area. We knew we would be gone all day, so some friends, who were just going to be hanging out for the day, offered to take care of Cocoa for us. Sue, Cori and Lee made sure she was taken out and walked and she actually spent some time in Sue and Cori’s Doggie Day Care, which is basically a wire fence enclosure that the doggies can’t get out of. Cocoa loves spending time with Hobie and LaciLu.
I believe it was 5 vehicles that left sometime around 6am to make our way to High Mountain Expeditions. Up and up we drove. When we arrived, we learned that we were an hour early – OOPS Howard! Seems they were still on “off-season” hours! Oh well – the shop opened early for us and we got ourselves “outfitted” with our helmets, PFD’s, and water-jackets. They offered t-shirts for sale for $15 and some people made some purchases.
After a while, we piled into an old school bus and made our way to the put-in of the Nolichucky River. On route, we got our lessons about paddling together and what to do if we somehow ended up in the water. I have gone in the drink during a previous rafting trip and the “have your feet facing downstream, toes up out of the water and tuck in your elbows” was a very familiar instruction. I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to put it to use! We were going to be rafting Class 3 and 4 rapids. We got divided into boats and Bill and I were with Jo & Craig, and our guide for the day was a young man named Dallas. We soon learned our boat would be the lead boat, as Dallas was the most experienced guide.
Here are some pics, which I took using a JoTo waterproof phone bag that Bill found online at Amazon. WAY better than using the zip-lock bag like last time on the canoe trip in Arcadia!
this last one is for my Bloggers Black and White Challenge – hope you like it!
We did have three people go in the water, first Rick, then Jo, then Tracy, but all got out pretty quickly and were ok. Rick went in first and Jo went in while we were trying to get to Rick to get him out. We were heading toward a rock and Jo would have been in between the rock and the boat, so Dallas grabbed her and UP out of the water she came! Rick’s boat mates were able to get him out while we were focused on Jo. Tracy went in at the end, while waving at Howard, who had his camera aimed at her!
Friday morning came and we were up fairly early for a hike to Linville Falls that was organized by Bill and Nancy. We first met them at last years rally, and they are the sweetest couple!
There was a bit of excitement at the end of the hike. A couple of the guys found a phone, jacket and water bottle near the edge of a cliff on a side trail. While they were deciding if they should leave the stuff their or bring it to the ranger station, the phone rang. They decided to answer it and it was the phone owners sister. Seems the phone owner, a young woman in her early 20’s, had been in the hospital, being treated for depression and released only the day before. The sister said she had been trying to call her for a while b/c her boss was looking for her b/c she hadn’t shown up for work. The sister was freaking out b/c of where the phone, etc was found and everyone started thinking the worst. Lee brought the phone down to the ranger station to inform them of what was going on, while Pat (a retired state trooper) marked the spot where the items were found and started to look for her. Longer story short, the young woman is ok, had just left her phone to walk further down the path and took longer than she thought to get back. We all breathed a sigh of relief!
Moving into Friday afternoon, we had signed up for the Creative Mountain Food Tours “Pub and Grub Crawl” tour. We carpooled with Jo & Craig and made our way to Black Mountain to the Monte Vista Hotel, which is where our tour began. We visited 5 different places and had samples of their menu’s and drinks.
Saturday was our last full day of rally fun! The week had flown by! During the day there really wasn’t anything going on, most people were just starting to pack up to leave the next day. A few of us wanted to go paddling on Lake James, they rent canoe’s or kayaks for only $5 per hour. Well, by the time we got there, the last kayak had just been rented out! Oh well!
Evening came and it was LUAU time!
Earlier in the week, Sue and Tracy had given everyone attending the rally a few sheets of colored paper and asked that they write a short note to Howard and Linda, just a few words telling them how much RV Dreams means to them. We (Sue and I) attached the little papers to poster board at Tracys. When everyone was gathered for dinner, Tracy announced to Howard and Linda what it was and Sue and I walked it down to them. Lee recorded the whole thing! They were both very touched! Every rig attending returned at least one!
The caterers outdid themselves with a whole roasted pig, which I didn’t get a pic of! I do not like it when food looks like it’s former self. I must tell you, it was delicious though – I just didn’t look at it’s face at all! Howard and Linda had sent up a place for pics – and we all got a little goofy getting pics of ourselves in front of the “idol” or whatever it was.
After dinner and picture silliness, it was time for some games. Bill and I had participated in the games earlier in the week, so we decided to sit them out this time. Plus, I was wearing a skirt, which would have made it difficult.
The next morning, it was time to say “see you later” to most of our friends! There were lots of hugs and tears. You already know how much I HATE goodbyes! The caterers sent us away with full tummy’s and we had one last chance to get a pic of all of us! You can see it at the top – I’m using it as my “featured” pic this post!