Thursday, October 28, 2010


Wow, just realized it has been nearly a week since my long Gatlinburg post. The recent rain days just seemed to make the days fly by. The past week has been fairly busy though. Florida friends, Linda and Steve, were headed back to Tampa from Michigan and emailed us saying they would drop by River Vista last Saturday for a couple days. Steve and Linda were both educators as well. Linda was a math teacher and administrator and Steve was a vocational work experience teacher and coach. As a matter of fact, Linda and I both taught math at one point in time at Coleman Junior High in Tampa in the late 70’s-early 80’s. Then Steve and I both taught and I was an assistant football coach for Steve at East Bay High School from ‘84-87. Steve and I then both moved to the new Bloomingdale High School where Steve taught and was head football coach and I served as an assistant principal. Steve and Linda have been fulltiming in their motorhome, traveling the USA, for the past few years. Steve and Linda were also members of the same FMCA chapter, Roamin’ Rigs, as we were. Oh yeah, Steve and I do share one other thing---we both have back issues. As a matter of fact, when I was at my lowest points in late June/early July, Steve emailed me sharing his issues etc and it really helped me through the mental part of my recovery. Anyway, we were able to go out and have dinner and get caught up with each others happenings before they headed south Monday morn. They left us with some great fudge they helped make while in Michigan.

ColemansMy physical therapy has continued on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays through this week. Next week I begin only Tuesdays and Thursdays until we head south. I am in the strengthening and endurance mode now. I use walking(hiking) sticks to assist me with balance. I no longer use the walker at all. I have no pain in my lower back. My left hip does get sore if I push myself or overdue it a bit. But, both the neurologist and pain management doctor have both released me after being really pleased with my progress.

Tonight we will be going with friends Pat and Sandie to dinner and a production of “Rhythm of the Dance" to be held at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin, NC. The two-hour dance and music extravaganza contains a wealth of Irish talent. The show is an inspiring epic, reliving the journey of the Irish culture throughout history. Using modern art forms of dance and music, this richly costumed show marries the contemporary and the ancient. Combining traditional dance and music with the most up to date stage technology, the show is a thousand-year-old journey executed with all the advantages of the modern day stage show. We look forward to the event.

We have made plans to have our deck, shed and landscaping timbers restained. Barbie and I did the work two years ago but this time we are having a man and his crew do it that have done alot of painting of cabins etc in the park. Their work is beautiful. They powerwashed it all a week ago and were to start the painting Monday but with the rain from that “monster” storm that has crossed the nation this week, they haven’t been able to start yet. I suspect tomorrow they’ll begin.

With the rain and little wind the past last days the leaves are now falling in this area. I’m gonna miss the wonderful colors we’ve experienced over the past few weeks. We’ve really enjoyed seeing our first leaves changing in probably 38 or so years. I’ll share a few more photos we’ve taken.

Fall decorations

Leaves on rock


Roaring Fork stream 4

“Til next time………………………………

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gatlinburg Trip

We are back in Dillard after returning from our trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We left for Gatlinburg Monday morning at 9:45am. We drove through the Arts and Crafts Community Loop when we got there since we couldn’t check in to the hotel until 3pm. We stopped at our favorite candle shop anywhere and stocked up on some more soy candles. They are made with 100% natural soybean base and premium botanical fragrance oils. Unlike paraffin, soy is not made from crude oil. These candles burn longer and cooler than paraffin. They are fragrant, burn clean and you can use the melted soy liquids from the candles burning as a lotion to rub on your hands, feet  or wherever. It makes a great moisturizer believe it or not. Like I said, we have bought many candles in our days and these are our favorites. We discovered these candles 2 summers ago. We purchased the following scents this time: lemon grass, pineapple papaya, evergreen, tranquil breeze, cinnamon orange, eucalyptus mint, coconut lime verbena, and southern nights. It is a tough choice deciding on which fragrances to buy. Barbie and I must enter into intense negotiations to come up with the decisions. Check them out at (click here) SOY CANDLES for different fragrances, sizes and prices. You won’t be disappointed.

Before going to the hotel we stopped at a Subway sandwich shop and had lupper (a lunch/supper combo) and took a quick ride to Pigeon Forge, stopped at a Super WalMart and bought a new camera I’ve been looking at and researching for a week or so. It is a Canon PowerShot SX30 IS digital camera. It is a 14.1 mega pixel camera and has a 35x optical zoom lens plus a 4x digital zoom on top of that. It is sweet and I’ve only started checking out all the features. Oh yes, it takes individual photos as well as videos. The traffic for a Monday was crazy in Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg. By this time we were more than ready to check in at the hotel.

We stayed at the EconoLodge and Suites, one block off of the main drag in Gatlinburg, directly behind the Space Needle. It was also about 100 yards from the Convention Center where the Fall Arts and Crafts Festival was being held.

Space needle from overlook zoomThe top of the Space needle at night or a UFO ? Space Needle 1

Tuesday, we got up early, had breakfast at the River Road Pancake House, then drove to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Let me get the stats out of the way first. We spotted about a half dozen wild turkeys, 2 deer and hundreds of people. Much to Barbie’s chagrin-NO bears were seen. Barbie got out of the car to take pictures of the deer and was within about 20 feet of one of them, but when it took a couple of steps towards her she scurried back into the car. This was the culprit.


Following our Cades Cove journey, we headed back thru Townsend (“the quiet side of the Smokies”, as the locals say) and Wears Valley before entering Pigeon Forge. We drove through a couple of the campgrounds while there and found them FULL of rvers. We didn’t expect the crowds but I guess they came for 1 of 2 reasons or both: 1) the leaves changing, 2) the Alabama vs Tennessee football game this weekend. We did see a bunch of Alabama Crimson and Cream gear! After we got back to the hotel, we were too tired to go out for dinner so Barbie went out and picked up some KFC dinner boxes. It rained overnight but by the time we got up and going Wednesday morn the rain had ended and it was turning cooler as we headed over to the convention center for  the Arts & Crafts Festival. We got out of there without spending as much as I had anticipated. We left with 2 more soy candles, a new handmade purse for Barbie and some homemade hand/body lotion. I almost bought a 1 string dulcimer, aka “canjo” (I figured I could handle 1 string), but I fought off the urge-maybe next year.


It has only one string so it is very easy to play. It does have a tin can for the body where the sound comes from and a full diatonic fret scale with real guitar frets. I couldn’t decide between a Mountain Dew can or a Miller Genuine draft can so I passed on it.

We returned to the room to drop off the purchases, catch a break then took off in the car thru the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (one of my favorite drives). It is an 8 mile,  one way road through a portion of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park just outside of Gatlinburg. Check out a few photos below. You can click on any of them to enlarge it.

Driving along Roaring ForkGSMNP Roaring Fork stream Roaring Fork stream 3

A mile or so after exiting  the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, our next stop was the Smoky Mountain Winery in Gatlinburg. Barbie went in and picked up 4 bottles of wine which we have had before and enjoyed- 2 Muscadine Red and 2 Muscadine White. By then we were hungry so we journeyed back to Pigeon Forge and a Five Guys burger joint we spotted the day earlier. Doncha just love their burgers and especially their fries? By then this old boy was exhausted-you see other than the trip to the Arts & Crafts Festival, this old boy was using my week old walking sticks and my two legs to get around. It is amazing how much strength and endurance I lost being down with my back issue from June 26th until last week. My RE-newed favorite song is the old Chicago classic, “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.”

This morning after checking out of the hotel we returned to the River Road Pancake House for breakfast before heading “back over the mountain” for the 2 hour drive back to Dillard. You see I had a doctors appointment with the neurologist that I saw 8 weeks ago at 3:30pm. She was the one that walked me through how the nerve damage caused my issues and how the recovery would go. She was pleased at my progress enough to say she did not need to see me again but to call her if I needed her. Of course, she made her point one last time that I reeded to lose weight for my backs sake.

Whew-I’m beat after reliving the past few days. So….’til next time I leave you with 2 campers along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

Barbie and stream

Jeff by tree

Thursday, October 14, 2010

An Afternoon at the Farm

Barbie is writing today!!!So, pay attention now as I guide you through a day of adventure and fun!

Jeff had his PT on Monday and felt really good after it. So, we decided to travel to Alto, Georgia, to a place called Jaemor Farms. What a neat place! It took us 40 minutes to get there from Clayton and the travelling weather was just beautiful! We used the GPS and it took us past the place. So we u-turned and came back to it. Jaemor Farms is located on a hill and it was crowded. You first see the big pumpkin patches on the hill to the right of the farm. There is an eight acre maze that is in the shape of the United States. We didn’t start it since it was too late in the afternoon. To be honest, I didn’t think I would be able to find my way out. I feared that panic would set in and my cell phone would die on me and I would be there until morning. haha


I went inside and was amazed at how much I could actually spend in here. But reality set in . I don’t have the room in the refrigerators for all the stuff. So, I just started buying things that didn’t need refrigeration. I bought an acorn squash, butternut squash, pickled beets, black eyed peas relish, pumpkin bread, and some cameo apples.They had some homemade peach, strawberry or vanilla ice cream . I bought us some peach and it was good. They had pumpkins and gourds everywhere. Fresh vegetables ranging from corn on the cob to snap beans to cabbage to you name it , I think they had it! They even had fresh flowers and plants. If this place weren’t so far away, we would be there weekly.


Jaemor Farms was so crowded because it was Columbus Day and the kids got the day off. For my old colleagues in Florida, too bad you didn’t get the day off to enjoy all the festivities that went with celebrating Columbus Day! What a shame! haha

IMG_0741 Jeff is doing very well with his physical therapy. He is walking without his walker inside the motorhome to get more strength. Today during physical therapy, his therapist started him on strengthening movements. He isn’t sore or hurting at all. We went to eat at a place called MiCasa Mexican restaurant in Franklin after physical therapy. We had been there once before and loved it. We really enjoyed it today. Jeff had a burrito and a poblano dinner. I had a chicken chimichanga with some fixings and couldn’t eat it all. Afterwards I washed the car in preparation for the rain that was to come this evening. Yeah right, you must wash the car because it is dirty even though you know it will rain. We are headed for Hiawassee today for the Georgia Mountain Festival.The weather should be beautiful with highs supposedly around 70 degrees. The leaves are changing and they are spectacular for these two campers, since we haven’t seen autumn leaves in 37 years. I don’t want to miss a single day of seeing the remarkable change occur.


Until the next time…….remember to enjoy the moment.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Busy Week

The past week has been a busy one. Probably the busiest one since we’ve been here in Georgia. I had physical therapy Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10am this past week at Mountain Physical Therapy eight miles down the road in Clayton. The stretching and exercises they put me through involved muscles I no doubt haven’t used in awhile---thus the soreness I felt after each session. I’ve noticed a pattern that the soreness and discomfort is worse for 2-3 hours immediately after the sessions are over. After that, no discomfort. Like I used to preach to my players when I coached football, “no pain, no gain.” Thursday evening we met our good friends Pat and Sandie Gregory at Lucios, an Italian Restaurant up in Franklin, NC. Dinner and company was great. Following dinner, we drove a few miles to Gregorys rv site which they own in the Great Outdoors RV Resort in Franklin. We sat outside on their patio watching the sunset over the mountains and watching the fire they had in their firepit.

Gregorys firepit & sunset

The firepit is a gas one so we didn’t have to add wood or stoke the fire at all. We got caught up on family, travels and solved world problems lol. Early Friday afternoon shortly after returning from pt, I got a call from M’Liss Kemerer, one of our Roamin’ Rigs rv club members, saying they were checking in to our campground as we spoke. We knew that they, Ron and M’Liss Kemerer with their granddaughter, Krystyne, and Tom and MaryAnn Hartman, another Roamin’ Rigs couple, had planned to stop and visit but we didn’t expect them for a couple more days. A short time after that call MaryAnn called and said she was serving a baked ziti, salad, sausage and peppers and bread dinner down at their site at 6:00pm and that I was to call Gregorys and tell them they were expected as well. Bottomline, we enjoyed a great meal and good conversation. Saturday we had already made plans to travel to Waynesville, NC and Maggie Valley, NC to attend arts and crafts festivals. This IS festival season up here in the Smokies. In Waynesville, they close down Main Street and the exhibitors, food vendors and performers take over the street. It was a great show, in glorious weather with a huge crowd. After Waynesville we traveled the five miles to Maggie Valley and the craft show held there. It was a smaller show but we bought two soy candles there. By that time we had worked up an appetite so we stopped at Granny’s Chicken Palace in Waynesville. We’ve eaten there in past years. Their specialty is obviously fried chicken served with  rice with gravy, green beans, cole slaw, and sweet nuggets, a fritter type sweet tasting delight. It is served family style, so with the exception of the chicken, they’ll keep bringin’ it as long as you ask. We also brought home some cherry cobbler to eat after we got home. I had to work hard not to nod off in the car on the 75 minute drive home. After getting home I watched South Carolina beat previously #1 Alabama and then the U of Florida lose to LSU in a heartbreaker. So you can imagine today I played “couch potato” or should I say “recliner recluse” and read and rested as Barbie did laundry. Whew, I’m tired again remembering and writing what happened this week.

Just in case any of you are wondering, the leaves are beginning to change colors up here now. They should peak in two weeks or so. Barbie took the picture below from our deck looking out at the mountain we face. Pretty special huh ?

Leaf changes at River Vista

So ‘til next time……

Friday, October 1, 2010

2 Milestones in 1 Day

Yesterday, the last day of September was a great day for me. Dealing with this crazy back issue has been a painful, depressing, frustrating etc process, but I have learned to appreciate milestones that I reach, however small they may be. Yesterday was special for me. First, I had my first physical therapy session. I had gone to the doctor on Tuesday that had given me my two lumbar epidural injections. He was the one who needed to clear me and prescribe the therapy, which he did. So on the drive home from the doctor we immediately made my appointment with Mountain  Physical Therapy for my “evaluation” for Thursday. Barbie actually went in the place to make the appointment for me. She came out pleased with the facility and the folks she spoke with were all friendly and helpful. So, at 9:00am yesterday we arrived at Mountain Physical Therapy for my “evaluation and planning” session. We had my scooter on the hitch we installed on Barbie’s car a few weeks ago. It was overcast and drizzling on and off so I decided to use my walker to go in and not mess with the scooter. Now mind you, to this point in time the maximum distance I’ve walked with the walker at one time was probably 20-25 feet, from the motorhome to the car. From the car into the facility was probably 25-30 feet so I figured no problem. Plus, I really didn’t want to ride into the place on the scooter-must have been a pride issue. Well, when we got inside everyone, 3 therapists and one office worker, were extremely friendly. I turned in the paperwork they had given Barbie Tuesday for us to turn in. Then my physical therapist, Cherisse, came up and introduced herself to me. She is a petite, extremely fit woman probably in her late fortys-fifty years old range. She then asked me to follow her to an office area so she could get a history of my issue and do an evaluation so she could plan my therapy program. Well let me tell you I got a tad concerned at this point as the office area was across a large open area that had the exercise tables, machines, mats etc. I guess it was about a 60 foot walk with the walker. Whew, but I made it. We talked about the history of my problem etc for about 20 minutes. She said to follow her back out onto the floor. I figured I was through for this session and we’d start on the next visit. WRONG ! I then spent the next HOUR involved in a real “physical” evaluation of my condition, doing exercises, being iced down, having my left hip massaged and getting hooked up to some electrodes on my back and being stimulated for 20 minutes. I gotta tell you I was pretty spent, then she gave me my daily “homework” to do, not once but twice a day. I thought all my “homework” days were over when this old Principal retired. WRONG again! I guess I’ll have “homework” everyday for the rest of my life. I’m game though and I’ll be a model student. Then Cherisse said we were done to follow her back to the desk and we’d set up next week’s schedule. She wants me in Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Then it hit me, I still had probably a 50 foot walk to the desk and another 25-30 feet to the car before I could crash. Bottomline, I made it-and actually much better than I thought.

The second milestone was that I slept in the bed in the motorhome, the entire night, for the first time since June 25. If you’ve followed this journey you know I’ve tried a handful of times to sleep in the bed since this back issue started, but never made it more than a couple of hours before I had to return to my recliner in the front of the motorhome. I received the two “wedges” (one for back and head, the other for my legs and feet) I had ordered, the last arriving yesterday,  and decided to try them out last night. I did it!

I’m on my way back friends !

‘Til next time…………………

It won’t be long….

Jeff is amazed