First Retirement Journey

2009 North Carolina Adventure






Biltmore House


Blue Ridge Parkway


Stone Mountin NC


Asheville, NC


Gray Line Trolley


Thomas Wolf House


NC Arboretum


NC Waterfalls


DuPont State Park, NC


Berea, KY


Berea College









Carol and Jim - Travel Adventures


Batting in Ohio


Old Times



Sign Our Guestbook

 Our 2009 RV journeys started following Jim’s retirement this year. On Saturday May 30th, following Jim’s last day of work, finds


hitting the road for our first long journey.

(compare to past weekend excursions)


 Our Mascot "Flamingo Phil"

 We left Saturday morning and headed to North Carolina by way of the West Virginia Turnpike (Interstate77).





Jonesville NC:

Nine and a half hours later we pulled into the home of Jim Canipe and Camilla Pardue’s in Jonesville, North Carolina.

 We made friends with Jim and Camilla about 6-7 years ago when we passed through Jonesville on one of our many vacation trips Shallotte, North Carolina. We stopped at an antique store along Interstate 77 near Jonesville and met Jim and Camella after buying an antique wall clock (who would have guessed) from Jim. Over the years that followed we have kept in touch via phone calls even stopping by now and then on subsequent trips through the area. We decided to include a stop at their home on our first long RV journey.


Jim & Camella Saturday/Sunday:


 Though we only stayed for a day, we had two enjoyable meals together with drives around the area to see the local scenery;  visit Jim’s small cattle farm about 6 miles from town and a side trip to Stone Mountain State Park. While in the park we stopped for ice cream and to our delight heard a blue grass impromptu jam session at the ice cream store (cabin) in Stone Mountain State Park. Had we know how beautiful Stone Mountain State Park was; we would have included it as a stay on our trip. After spending the night in their driveway, we left Jim and Camella Sunday and headed on to Asheville, North Carolina.


At Asheville, North Carolina we stayed at TAPS RV Park right off Interstate 40 close to the Blue Ridge Parkway.



It was a small RV park with E/W/S hook-up. Though the park was only ¼ mile off the interstate in a business area, it was nice with very little traffic noise. We were treated to a park sponsored evening of country music be a DJ until about 9:00 pm, then all was quiet. We could hear an occasional freight train pass by. No whistles, just the sound of the diesel engines and the clicking of the wheels on the rails. We made this our home base for our time in Asheville.


Biltmore Monday:

The first full day at Asheville started and ended at the Vanderbilt, Biltmore Estate. The Biltmore is largest private residence in the United States (once the largest in the world). Family members no longer reside there, but the family maintains ownership and continues to maintain and restore the original furnishing that were present when it was completed and George Vanderbilt took up residence in 1895. After a 3 ½ mile winding drive from the entrance gate you arrive at the visitor’s center to purchase your tickets, then a tram will take you the last half mile to the mansion/castle.


The $40.00 per person ticket was will worth the price of the self guided tour. We found a $10.00 discount rate through the Biltmore internet website, making them $30.00 tickets. The tickets were waiting for us at the “Will Call” desk. We also took advantage of the electronic head sets for an audio tour of the house (castle). What was to be a 2-hour self guided tour, took us 4 ½ hours to complete. You go at your own pace. So much to look at, so little time to take it all in. We really enjoyed the castle, but unfortunately we missed seeing the grounds and formal gardens, perhaps next time.


We entered the house at 10:00 am and left the mansion at 3:00 in the afternoon. We drove a short distance to the entrance of the formal garden to eat our packed boxed lunches on wrought iron chairs and table.

We never entered the garden, for it was off to the Biltmore Winery, at another part of the estate. Carol never met a winery she didn’t want to visit.


After taste testing several wines (free), we left without buying a single bottle. They were all much too dry for our delicate taste. OK, I guess we are not wine connoisseurs, more like nerds just two steps away from Boone’s Farm.


We took the leisurely 10 mile drive back through the estate to the entrance just before the 5:00 pm closing time. We got our $39 worth this day.


Waterfalls Tuesday:

On Tuesday, from Asheville we hit the road with the TOAD (tow car) to DuPont State Park. DuPont is in Transylvania County, North Carolina about one hour south west of Asheville. (No it’s not the home of Count Dracula.) This area of North Carolina has waterfalls galore.

Our trip and hikes gave us a close up view of three different falls on a two mile trail that runs up hill and down following the many streams and brooks. Each falls was beautiful in its own right. One falls seemed to be a local favorite for area teens.

As the warm afternoon lengthened, youths began showing up to sun, slide and swim in the mountain waters. 


The birding was good during the hike. A similar hike in the early morning I’m sure would find warblers, thrushes and other forest feathered friends in abundance. On the way back to Asheville, we pulled off to see another small falls, bring our total to five waterfalls.

Within this same general area of the state dozens of other waterfalls are all accessible by well mapped and maintained hiking trails.


N.C.U. Arboretum and Asheville Trolley Wednesday:


Wednesday morning started at the North Carolina University State Arboretum. Unfortunately the formal gardens were all under significant repair and design changes. We did take a short trail walk through the forested area. They were quiet and peaceful paths that interlaced the wooded grounds.


The arboretum is well known for its work with bonsi trees. Not merely those made from Japanese type evergreens and pines. They have displays of deciduous trees as well.

Each trimmed and manicured as bonsi trees. It was a unique section of the complex with displays of dwarfed trees and others plant in pastoral venues. Amazing.


The threat of a thunder storm with lightening over the mountains sent us into Asheville to check out the historical sections of the town.




Asheville has two touring trolley lines that will take you around the town with live narratives on points of interest during the tour. We chose the Gray Line Trolley because it had what looked more like an old time trolley car. Why it is called the Gray Line, I don't know. The other trolley service is called White Line... (because it has white trolleys.) Both lines go to the same stops and allow you to get off, look around and board the next trolley that arrives an hour later. It is a great way to get to know Asheville. If we would have known more about Asheville before the trolley tour, we would have planned another day or two for the town.


There are a few historical tours of residences, like the author Thomas Wolfe’s home that was interesting. The town is also known for its artist community that looked note worthy but we didn’t allow the time to stop and visit that section of town.  We heard of several restaurants that sounded tempting that might be worth a return visit to check out their cuisine.


We finished off the day with antiquing. There were more warehouse/flea market type shops then the antique shops that we are used to in Ohio. What was called antiques shops were more warehouse types or high-priced decorator shops, not the antique mall/multiple dealer types that we enjoy.


Return Trip Thursday/Friday:

We departed Asheville on Route 40 to Interstate 75 for our return trip through Kentucky before returning to Ohio. At 2:45 we pulled off Interstate 75 at Berea, KY to spend the night at Walnut Meadows RV Park. This was a quick in and out one night stay, so we have no comments on the park. It was adequate. We have been to the town of Berea before so we drove into town to antique and walk around before calling it a night. Berea has a small arts & crafts Liberal Arts College.


There are several stores selling the local artisan’s works, all with a touch of mountain heritage. The Old Town area was also decorated with various sculpured hands produced by the local students.


The old Daniel Boone Inn in Berea is a great place to stay if you are visiting the area/community. The old inn has an interior and rooms that keeps its warm 1800’s atmosphere. The inn has a dining room restaurant having evening home cooked meals at scheduled sittings, similar to old style boarding house meals.


Friday we began the last leg of our trip by driving to Plain City, OH in time to attend our Great-niece’s (Stephanie Johnson) high school graduation party. We spent the night parked on the street outside of the Johnson’s household. There wasn’t a Wal-Mart close by. No, we did not dump our black water tank when we left. We were on the road by 7:00 AM and heading home.


This was a trial run for our next big journey in August. We’ll be heading to Oregon for a 4-5 week tour of the North West. Destination; the home of Matthew and Branden Johnson of Albany, Oregon (eventually).