A side trip with my grandson Kyle to find snow

We’re currently in Picayune MS visiting my daughter and her family.  I’ve promised each of the grandkids a trip for their 11th birthday and Kyle asked to see snow.  A couple of weeks ago a large weather storm moved through our area, dumping LOTS of rain, and 4-8″ of snow was predicted for the Smoky Mountains.  Since they are pretty close to where we are and we could do a long weekend, Kyle and I boarded a plane and headed to Atlanta GA.  From there we drove just a few hours up into the Smoky Mountains.

Well, the weather forecasters were wrong!  Such a small amount of snow fell that it was pretty much all gone by the time we go tthere.  We did find a small patch along the road where we pulled over and Kyle got to feel it and make a small snowball.

Just driving into the mountains was a new experience for Kyle – coming from the coastal part of Mississippi, he had never seen hills, let along mountains!  He did a great job of navigating using my iPad map app, and he took several pictures of the mountains, some in the morning showed a lot of the misty smoke that gave the mountain area its name.

We continued into the mountains to Cherokee, NC which we knew was one of the higher points in the Smoky Mountains.  Again, no snow.  I wanted to head over the mountain pass on I-441 ending in Gatlinburg TN, but a rockslide had closed the pass so we headed east again.

We found the Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center the next morning – just what we wanted!  They blow snow onto a tubing run and have an outdoor ice skating rink.  Kyle had a blast!!  The lines for the tubing run were never more than 15 minutes long and were great fun – in his words “AWESOME”.  He was a novice to ice skating, but within an hour was gliding around and doing spins!  I posted a video of him ice skating on YouTube: http://youtu.be/7kBOx3i8AGs.  A 3-hour pass to do both activities was just $30.

We found a motel by 3pm that day near Franklin NC and the motel manager suggested we make a trip to the Fun Factory in Franklin.  It was a great place to round out the trip.  We bowled, played mini-golf, Kyle got to ride the go-carts and have fun in the laser-tag arena.  There were also lots of video games.  By the time we settled in for the night we were both pretty tired!

The next day we headed back to Atlanta and flew home.  What a great trip!  Here are some pictures:


Back in Picayune – and it’s raining!

We’re back in Picayune where my daughter lives, and it’s been raining the whole time so far!  It’s great to back with family and get to spend so much time with our grandkids!

For his 11th birthday I’m taking Kyle for a trip to see snow.  We’ll leave this Thursday and will be back Sunday night.   We’re heading to the Smoky Mountains, and there’s a slight chance the storm system making it’s way through the area will drop snow in the higher elevations, but even if not there are some ski resorts in that area where they make snow.  So, we’ll have lots of fun!  I’ll definitely post some pictures when we get back.

Florida Caverns – did you know Florida has a cavern like Carlsbad does?

The Florida Caverns is in the panhandle of Florida where there are hills, in southern Florida a hole in the ground would be filled with water!

The Florida Caverns is a state park and while much smaller than the Carlsbad Caverns it’s unique and very interesting!  There’s a lot more white in the stalactites and stalagmites due to a higher concentration of calcite.  This cavern was discovered in the early 20th century and walkways were dug out  by the CCC during the depression to make it accessible to visitors.  Even with the walkways being dug out, it’s a lot more natural-looking and in several areas we had to bend way down to get through.  It’s advertised as being 4 feet high in some areas and 2 feet wide in some areas.

We saw a lot of seashells in the ceiling area as the whole area was once underwater.  We saw a larger fossil in one area noted in the picture below, as well as a formation named the Tower of Babel and one that resembles a statue of a mother holding a child.

An interesting point is that this cavern was discovered when the owner of the property decided to cut down a tree that had fallen over – when he arrived at the tree he noticed that a big hole in the ground where the roots had come out.  He crawled into the hole and discovered the cavern!

Here are some pictures we took during our tour of the cavern:

St. Augustine – the oldest town in the U.S.

While we were in Jacksonville we drove down to the town of St. Augustine.  It’s the oldest established town in the U.S. – established in 1513 and there’s a fort on the waterfront that was established in 1672.

The town, and Florida as well, were ‘discovered’ by Ponce de Leon.  St. Augustine is also where the fabled “Fountain of Youth” was found.  It’s actually a spring that bubbles up through the rocks and has a high content of sulfar which contributes to health.  The natives of the area had been drinking this water for centuries and told Ponce de Leon of it’s restorative and healthful properties.

And, there’s a lot of history of pirates in the area as well.  There was a pirate museum in St. Augustine boasting the largest authentic collection of pirate artifacts in the world.

Here are some pictures we took in St. Augustine:

Living together in a small space

Jeff and I, along with our doberman Laddy, have been living in our 30-ft trailer for 5 months now.  Being together all the time in a small space is something that anyone who is considering being a “full-timer” needs to think about carefully.

Being in a small space and also being away from normal routine where you see other people regularly – coworkers, neighbors, friends from church or activities etc. – is a big change.  We get to meet new folks all the time, but in a few days we leave the area and it’s just us again.

Each of you has to be considerate of the others occasional need for space, you have to be neat and keep things picked up and in their place, and you have to enjoy each other’s company.  If you aren’t already happy with the habits and company of your partner before you are living in a small space far away from family and friends, full-time travelling won’t work for very long unless both of you are able to make some changes and concessions.

We have learned that other people, whether full-timers or just on a vacation, are very friendly and helpful.  We enjoy chatting with new friends and neighbors, but realize that in a few days we’ll each go our separate way and then it’s just us again.

Jeff and I have had no trouble at all adjusting to this lifestyle.   We’re still expecting to be living this lifestyle for another 5-10 years!