TOAD… WHAT’S “TOAD”?

If you want to have a vehicle available to drive when you’re parked at a campground or boondocking there are a few options. If you’re pulling a travel trailer or 5th wheel, you just unhook your RV and you’re good to go . If you’re driving a vehicle separately from your motorhome; no issue, your vehicle is right there. If you’re in a motorhome like we are, you’ll be towing something to drive. That vehicle is the “Toad”.

We prefer not to drive our car separate unlike our friends at http://www.modernmountainlife.com. They prefer to drive their vehicle separately as a chase vehicle.

If you choose to tow your vehicle, there are several things you need to know. There are two options – 4 wheels down or using a tow dolly. BUT, which you CAN use depends on your vehicle. I guess you could trailer your car too but then that adds extra weight that you’re pulling with your motorhome so that may not be the best option. But that one is up to you.

First off.  With a tow dolly, it’s always the front wheels that go on the dolly. Never the rear wheels.

It has to be a front wheel drive to use the tow dolly. If your car is not front wheel drive there are a few things you can do such as disconnecting the differential, putting the car in neutral and tying the steering wheel so it doesn’t move. The battery also has to be disconnected. So this type vehicle is better towed 4 wheels down.

If your vehicle is front wheel drive you cannot tow it 4 wheels down. All wheel drive vehicles have to have the rear wheels disconnected to be put on the tow dolly.

To find out what you need for your vehicle if it’s going to be towed, check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

If you’re using a tow dolly, there are different models and price ranges you can choose from, but they are all basically the same. Some have hydraulic brakes. All have a maximum weight between 4000-5000 pounds.

There have to be ramps to drive your vehicle’s front two wheels up on it. Some doliies have the ramps attached. Some ramps you have to stow.

You’ll need to have a good set of wheel straps that wrap around the tires and secure the vehicle to the dolly along with cables that attach to the vehicle and the dolly.  And, you need the safety chains that hook from your motorhome to the dolly. When you hook the chains from the dolly to the motorhome, they should be crossed. That way if the hitch comes undone, it will fall onto the chains and not dig into the pavement and possibly flip .

I didn’t put the links here but there are lots of YouTube videos you can watch for more information and you can get more info from the RV and dolly dealers.

Now, if you have a vehicle you can tow 4 wheels down, you’ll need a different setup. Four wheels down is also called flat towing, dingy towing or toading.

Flat towing looks like this.

This is a picture from Blue Ox website of what a flat tow pkg looks like . There’s more information on their website that you can find at https://www.blueoxtowbars.com/products

Again, in order to determine if your vehicle can be flat towed you should check the manufacturer’s guidelines. I’ve been researching many websites and they all say the same thing – Check the owner’s manual or the dealer.

I’ve been reading that cars with manual transmissions are easier to tow, because you just hook them up and they roll on all four wheels. Since we don’t tow this way, I don’t know much about how to use this type of tow equipment. I have found these guides that seem to be helpful.https://rvshare.com/blog/rv-towing-guide/ and http://webcontent.goodsam.com/motorhomemagazine.com/2019DinghyGuide.pdf

So that’s it on toading. I hope you found this informational. Next, I think I’m going to write about Boondocking.

See ya,

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Mr. and Mrs. Carl Sandburg

Flat Rock, North Carolina. That’s where we stayed during our recent visit to North Carolina. Specifically, we were at Lakewood RV Park in Flat Rock. It was the nicest, closest, affordable park, we could get close to Pisgah Forest where our oldest son, daughter-in-law and three granddaughters live.

Flat Rock has a national treasure in the former home of Carl and “Paula” Sandburg. This is one place we always visit when we come to visit the family. The Sandburg former home and farm is now part of the National Park Service.

I wanted to share a little about the Sandburg family since I find them very interesting.

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North Carolina Waterfalls

Recently, we had the opportunity to spend a month in the mountains of western North Carolina.

We had the opportunity to do many things which I may write about later. This post is about the beautiful waterfalls.

In the Transylvania County/Pisgah National Forest area near Brevard North Carolina, there are over 250 waterfalls.

I’m only going to write about a few of the most popular ones and ones that we visited.

RAINBOW FALLS is on Horsepasture River and is also called High Falls. It got the name Rainbow Falls because of the large amount of mist that rises from the falls and creates rainbows. Once you get to the observation deck, you’ll appreciate that mist! From the parking lot, it’s about 1-1/2 mile walk to the falls, but there are a lot of hills and stairs to climb. If you go, take lots of water. Take your time and if you have them use walking sticks, they help.

TURTLEBACK FALLS is just a little farther on the trail from Rainbow but we didn’t know it at the time and missed that one.

LOOKING GLASS FALLS is 35 feet wide and drops 65 feet. It’s named Looking Glass because in the winter a reflective layer of ice forms on it. You can see it from the observation deck near the road or walk down to the base.

We haven’t done it yet, but in the summertime, we’re going to do SLIDING ROCK. It’s a 60-foot natural water slide. You put on a pair of cut off shorts and slide down to the 60-degree pool of cool water. There is a fee to do this. I believe it’s around $3.

MOORE COVE FALLS is a fairly high waterfall that goes over a rock shelf that you can walk under and be behind the falls. It’s a nice hike to get to it. Not too long or too steep.

Also located in Pisgah Forest is TWIN FALLS. As you can probably guess, it’s named that because there are two falls there.

At 411 feet tall WHITEWATER FALLS is called the ” King of Waterfalls “. It’s the highest waterfall in the eastern United States. The drive to the parking lot is easy to miss. There’s a sign that says Nantahala National Forest but nothing about Whitewater Falls. From the parking lot, it’s an easy half mile or so walk to the observation deck. There are also some steps that you can take down to the base but you have to be willing to walk back up them. That day we were not!

This whole area is either part of the Great Smokey Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pisgah National Forest, Dupont State Recreational area and maybe some more. Dupont is where the Hunger Games was filmed in the summer of 2011. Triple Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and the covered bridge at High Falls were the backdrops for some of the scenes.

If you Google “waterfalls near Brevard North Carolina you can pull up a list of area waterfalls and it will give you a website for each one, directions and a phone number.

The whole area is beautiful, so take your hiking shoes, water bottles and go enjoy the mountains of western North Carolina.

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Our visit to the Bold Rock hard cider company.

Last week we visited the Sierra Nevada craft beer brewery. This week it was the Bold Rock hard cider cidery also in Mills River, North Carolina. Although this is a much smaller operation than the Sierra Nevada brewery it is also a good benefit for the community. There’s an abundance of Apple orchards in the area and many of them were struggling financially until the cider companies, particularly the hard cider companies, came to the area.

There are at least 10 cideries in the Asheville area. Each one is a little different. The one we visited, and I think one of the largest, is the Bold Rock hard cider company.

It has a very casual, comfortable taproom area. They also have a nice outdoor seating and activity area. It was a little cold and rainy the day we went so we waited inside for our tour time.

We played corn hole while we waited and I noticed that there were several families enjoying their time visiting, drinking and playing in the taproom area as well.

The tour took us into a large room that contained their bottling and labeling operation as well as their brewing operation. They have large stainless containers for mashing the apples, others for filtering, and others for fermentation. This particular cidery uses champagne yeast which gives the cider more of a wine taste.

They explained that other cideries in this area use a different type of yeast which keeps, what they referred to as, the “farmhouse flavor”.

I liked the sample that we got there and ended up buying a variety 6 pack. My son prefers the farmhouse flavor.

As I mentioned earlier, they benefit the community by buying their apples. They also give back by supplying the area farmers, at no charge, unused parts of the apples for feed or compost.

The tour guide said the apples they need to buy depends on what recipe they are making at the time. He said they can call the orchard and order a truckload of the same type of apple or if they want they can get a mixed load,  such as 1/3 Macintosh, 1/3 Granny Smith and 1/3 Gala. They have built a good relationship with the area apple growers.

Because of the weather and the size of the operation, I didn’t get pictures worth keeping. It’s a nice building but not as large or as ornate as the Sierra Nevada operation. Still, it’s worth a visit if you’re in the Asheville/ Mills River, North Carolina area. You can visit them online at http://www.boldrock.com

Craft Beer and Hard Cider

The beautiful mountains of North Carolina offer hiking, biking, trout fishing, and gorgeous views. Besides all this, the clear mountain streams and the numerous apple orchards, make this area very conducive for the making of craft beer and ciders.

There are somewhere around 40 craft breweries in the Asheville North Carolina area but the largest of the craft breweries is the Sierra Nevada brewery. With arrangements made by my daughter in law, Dave and I, our son and one of our granddaughters got to go on one of their tours.

As I remember from the tour and from the brochure I picked up, Sierra Nevada was started in Chico California in 1979 by Ken Grossman. I believe, from what the tour guide told us, Mr. Grossman finished high school and left before his graduation ceremony for the mountains of Northern California. He opened The Home Brew Shop in Chico California.  Years later with innovation and ingenuity, he fashioned equipment from items such as a hot water heater,  dairy equipment and a hand-built-10-barrel brewing system he later founded his own brewery. He named it after his favorite hiking grounds and called it the Sierra Nevada Brewery Company.

That was in 1979. By 1984 he’d outgrown his original location. He then purchased a property in Chico Calif to build a new brewery large enough to house a salvaged 100- barrel brewhouse he had shipped from Germany. A couple of years later they added online sales.

In 2012, demand outpaced supply, and the Chico location was at capacity. This time they looked east and in 2012 they opened the new brewery in Mills River North Carolina. Mills River is just a few miles from Asheville, North Carolina.

The Asheville area already had somewhere around 40 small craft breweries. I believe our tour guide said this was the reason Sierra Nevada almost decided not to locate here. They did not want to be the biggest brewery in the area and ruin the other businesses. He said the local craft beer association got together and invited Sierra Nevada to come. Sierra Nevada provides some support to the other breweries by allowing them some access to their lab. 

With a 200 barrel production brewhouse and a 20 barrel small batch pilot system, a tour program, tastings, a full-service taproom, and restaurant, the Mills River location opened in 2014.  The property is beautiful. As well as the inside amenities, there’s an outdoor activity area with picnic tables and a stage.

Very impressive is the care they took in construction and the amount of reclamation of resources they use. The timber that was cut on the property was used in the construction of the building. Concrete walkways and driveways allow rain to penetrate. The reclaimed water is used for irrigation. CO2 captured from the yeast fermentation is used for carbonation in the drinks.  They use solar panels and microturbines for as much energy as possible.  Any left-over vegetation from the hops they donate for feed to area farmers. 

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North Carolina

It’s a rainy day today in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Lakewood RV resort has some nice amenities. The pool, shuffleboard, and the planned activities don’t start until their busy season starts; the end of May. There are several park models owned by people who live here full time.   See the link below for a description and pictures of park models). They’ve managed to plan several activities on their own. They’ve scheduled Mexican Train one evening a week and something called nickel bingo that does not involve bingo cards. The lady in the camper next to us who spends her winters here and summers in Pennsylvania was telling us about this. We saw some things posted on the bulletin board but not sure if they were happening now or later in the year. We might check it out. There was also a sign-up sheet for Easter dinner that was already 2 pages long.

We found the library, the dining room, the pool table, and the fitness room that we’ve visited it a couple times already.

Surfing the web one day I ran across something about geocaching so I did the logical thing and checked it out on YouTube. I found this great video with everything I needed to know to decide I wanted to go geocaching. I downloaded the Android app and we got started. It was a slow start for us because we couldn’t find our first two. But after that, we were 3 for 4. We found it to be a good way to get out as well as discovering more of the area. Here’s the geocache video if you want to check it out.

Our son and his family live about half an hour from this campground so we get to visit them frequently. Our daughter in law signed us up for a couple of the free classes offered by the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. The center is located in the Pisgah National Forest. At the center, they have a Trout hatchery they use to stock miles of river throughout the forest. The two classes we’ve taken so far were an introduction to fly fishing and one called “Backyard Birding by Ear for Beginners “. The birding one taught us how to identify the birds just from their sounds. In the fly fishing class, we were taught how to rig the pole, tie flies, land, and cast. After a little more classroom time, we put on waders and boots and with a volunteer trout fisherman, we headed to the river and practiced what we learned. Even tho’ I just missed catching a couple fish, I decided this was something I could enjoy doing more often.

With over 500,000 acres, numerous waterfalls, hundreds of trails and white water rivers Pisgah forest is a great place to visit. It’s also home of the first school of forestry in the United States which is now the preserved as the Cradle of Forestry historic site.

Brevard is the closest town and there a lot of people who keep summer homes in this area. It is a very cool little town with many unique shops, restaurants, music and art shops. It’s also home of the White Squirrel pictured at below.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_model

Shorts and Flip Flops to Coats and Gloves

Shorts and Flip Flops to Coats and Gloves …. in one day!

We left Savannah yesterday morning. I was wearing shorts as we were “buttoning up” the motorhome. About 6 hours later we arrived in Flat Rock, North Carolina and I began thinking about where we put our heavy coats, sweats, and gloves.

“Buttoning Up the motorhome” means anything that is loose has to be secured along with bringing the slides in and disconnecting the water, sewer and electric. This all takes a little time. “Anything loose” includes pictures on the walls, toothbrushes on the bathroom counter, dishsoap and utensils on the kitchen counters. Look around your house. What do you see that could move around if you shook your house? All that has to be put away. We even have tension backets in our cupboards to keep items in there from shifting so that we don’t have an avalanche when we open the doors once we get parked.

We’re staying at Lakewood R V Resort in Flat Rock which is just a few miles from Hendersonville, North Carolina which is about 30 miles from Asheville, North Carolina. Our son and his family live in Pisgah Forest which is about 1/2 hour from here. This is the closest full-service campground we could find with a monthly rate. Most of the campgrounds nearer them are state or national campgrounds with limited facilities and a 14-day max stay. There are a few others but either they’re too expensive or not open yet.

Flat Rock is a cute historic village dating back to the time when the Cherokee met on the Great Flat Rock. It’s also the site of the great Poet and Writer, Carl Sandburg. More about Flat Rock is in the link below.

https://www.romanticasheville.com/flat_rock_village.htm

We’ve visited the area a few times before with our son’s family. We plan to tour a little more this trip. This whole area is full of nature. There are numerous waterfalls and beautiful trails to walk. Parts of the Pisgah Forest has been used in movies such as The Last of the Mohicans, Hacksaw Ridge, and the Hunger Games.

Being full time in an R V requires major downsizing and being organized. We’ve been full time a year now and still don’t have this down.. At one time, we had two storage units. We’re down to one now and each time we’re back in Milton, we clean out a little more of that one.

Storage in the motorhome is limited. We’ve reorganized in here several times. Besides the basement storage under the motorhome, the largest open spot is under the bed. Most, if not all R Vs, have a hinge on the bed frame so you can raise the bed up and store the larger items under the bed. I believe that is where we put the container with our coats and gloves. That’s the first place I’m going to look anyway.

Our daughter in law has planned several “adventures” for us while we’re here. There are lots of free nature type things available in this area. The first two we’re signed up for this week are fly fishing and bird watching. The fly fishing is an introduction to fly fishing. They supply everything we need, except lunch, and teach us how to fly fish. I think the bird watching is identifying different birds by their sound. I’ll let you know how these go later.

Now, we’re going to find our coats and go check out Flat Rock and Hendersonville. We need to try to find a doggy day care and/or boarding place for Sarge. We can’t leave him all day in the motorhome when we’re out on these different adventures.

One thing we’ve been trying to do with our work camping and traveling is taking advantage of all that the different areas have to offer. Or at least as much as we can. Sarge is doing his part too. He gets to stay at boarding places in different areas. Since we’ve been traveling he’s visited at least 3 different veternarians and I think it’s been 5 different boarding places. He adapts pretty well. The only problem with him is although he loves people, he’s not real crazy about other dogs. Sometimes, he gets along fine and other times he snaps at them. Not sure what that’s about.

We really enjoyed Savannah and our stay at CreekFire Motor Ranch in Savannah. Now, I’m looking forward to Flat Rock and later our return to Milton, Florida.

I post more about our time here in future posts.

See ya later,

Tin Foil Dinners

In my last blog post, I said I’d be adding some tin-foil dinner recipes. Below are a couple and links to two sites that I found had several of them that looked pretty good.

I tried a few of these dinners and two recipes are below. Next time I’ll be sure to get pictures of them as I make them and when they’re done!

Keep in mind you don’t have to only cook these on a grill. They can be cooked on charcoal or on wood embers from your campfire. You can also cook them in a crockpot. Remember to always wrap them tightly and use heavy duty aluminum foil.

Being full time in an R V usually means you don’t have a full-size refrigerator or freezer. Some of the larger Fifth Wheels or Motor Coaches do, but ours does not. We also don’t have much of a pantry. All that means is we have to shop more often. I usually try to keep only the basics on hand as far as spices and seasonings are concerned. This means the recipes are usually simple but I try to make them tasty.

Corn on the Cob is an easy one to fix. Remove the husk and silk; add salt and butter. Wrap it securely in heavy-duty foil; place it on the grill for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally and you’re done. Add some sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and you have a great side dish.

Lemon Chicken and Asaparagus Foil Packet for four

Ingredients and Instructions for this tin foil dinner are:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness or 6-8 boneless chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are smaller than the breasts so you’ll want to put two in each serving packet.
  • 1 large bundle of asparagus spears, which is about one pound
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic ( I used one fresh garlic clove that I had and chopped it up into small pieces)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning ( this is one seasoning I usually keep on hand)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Lay four 12×12 inch squares of foil out on a flat surface.Place one chicken breast or two thighs in the middle of the foil square.
  • Cut off about 1-2 inches off the hard end of the asparagus. Cut the spears in half and divide them among the foil packets.
  • Divide the lemon slices between the foil packets and tuck them around the chicken and the asparagus
  • Mix together the butter, garlic, Italian seasoning, and some lemon juice. Brush over the chicken and asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Fold the foil over the chicken and asparagus to close off the packet. Secure it tightly.
  • Grill them over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes on each side
  • Serve immediately.
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R V – Random

I haven’t posted for a while. We’ve been busy.

Savannah has a huge St Patrick’s celebration. Second only to Chicago. Every hotel, big or small, and every campground, big or small has been booked solid since this time last year. The hours at CreekFire have been extended and the CreekFire to Savannah shuttle has started running. It now runs 3-4 times per day. The extended hours and the shuttle running means they need more people to work more hours. They’ve added a couple more work campers and some more employees so that helps some but since they’re new they are just learning and getting used to everything now. One work camper is leaving in a few days and since he is really knowledgeable he’s going to be sorely missed. It’s only going to leave Dave here who has maintenance experience until the others get up and running. I’ve driven the shuttle into Savannah a few times and took a couple of the new people in so they know the route and the pickup/drop off location. I found out that on the day of the parade most of the streets will be shut down and on that day, CreekFire is adding a few more shuttle times and renting a second shuttle to use. Since all the shuttles and buses going into Savannah will not be using the normal route and drop off location, we have a new route to learn. Should be interesting!

During the business of working a few more hours, we noticed our shower had a leak under the drain. What Dave said should have been a 5-minute fix took about 3 weeks. Good thing there are really nice showers here at this campground and they’re not too far from our site! Our motorhome and most of those built around the same time all used abs, the black PVC plumbing materials, instead of a white PVC. We needed a new ABS p-trap. After traveling to Lowes and Home Depot, several camper stores, several mobile home suppliers and ordering parts online we still couldn’t find the ABS p-trap and size adapter we needed. We understood that you could not mix black ABS products with white PVC ones because the glue that has to be used won’t hold both plastics. We talked to a retired plumber who told us they could be mixed now and Dave even called Coachmen to see what could be done. It took a couple calls to Coachmen to get through to the right person but when he called back he was helpful. Dave finished the project using both ABS and PVC. It was so hard for him to work on this in a small R V bathroom with about an 8 inch opening under the drain. But he persevered and got it done.

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