Wow, that title really puts into perspective our last two and a half months of the year! The time has surely flown by! It was filled with many happy times, some sad, but always surrounded by wonderful people!
We spent almost two months at a great workamping gig in Marble, NC at Valley River RV Resort. We arrive October 11th and had to leave , unexpectedly, a week early in early December. We interviewed with the prior manager back in April and were interested in the area, so we accepted the positions of maintenance and front desk. In July we received a call from the new manager, had good feelings about them and decided to still go despite COVID. We are soo glad we did! We were a bit nervous as this would be our first private campground workamping positions and were not quite sure what to expect. We read lots of reviews online and heard some good things and numerous horror stories of other RV'ers experiences when they worked at a private campground. Well those folks certainly did not work at Valley River! We met some great folks and really enjoyed our time there. The work was not hard (well ok, maybe Rick's digging deep holes to fix water leaks), but other than that there were daily tasks to be done in the office and in Rick's outside work such as shower house cleaning, pool chemicals, checking in and guiding guests to sites, making reservations and mowing lawn. We had a great group of workampers and the managers truly cared about their staff and jumped right in to help. Thanksgiving with our group was fantastic with lots of food and great company. We were even able to help begin the Christmas decorations. We will certainly be back when our travels bring us to NC. It is a beautiful area with gorgeous views everywhere you go!
eWe had alot of of off time to explore the area and even visit our old stomping grounds in northeast GA. One day we visited Hanging Dog Recreation Area just up the road in Murphy, NC on Hiwassee Lake. The views were amazing and during our hike we came across a very old, but still used cemetary. There were some old graves dating back to the mid 1800's but then a newer one, dating to 1976. You just never know what you'll come across when your out hiking.
Another day we took a drive to explore the Cherohala Skyway which winds for 43 miles through the Smoky Mountains from Tellico Plains, TN to Robbinsville, NC. It was completed in 1996 and is quickly becoming one of the top rated motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts drives in the U.S. We would agree, that the views are amazing and it is a must do when in the area. There are no towns or amenities along the drive, just you and nature. There are some pull offs along the way to stop and take pictures and a nice little visitor center in Tellico Plains to learn more about the area.
Yet another drive took us on the southern end of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway known as the Pisgah Region from Asheville to Cherokee, where it terminates in the Great Smoky Mountains. This section contains the highest point of the Parkway, well over 6.000 feet above sea level, over 250 waterfalls, tunnels and several forests such as Pisgah National Forest. The views did not disappoint and we even caught a glimpse of some elk relaxing in the shade.
One afternoon we were looking for a quick hike in the area and found an interesting hike on my AllTrails app. Toccoa Hanging Bridge is a short hike and the very narrow, one lane dirt road to it is longer and much more challenging with a dually truck! The swinging bridge was constructed in 1977 by the Forest Service in cooperation with the Appalachian Trail Club as it picks up the trail for a bit. The bridge really does swing and rises above the rambling Toccoa River.
Yet another driving tour, (yep lots of driving tours because the beauty abounds in this area!), was through the Great Smoky National Park. We have been to the Park a couple of times in the past and this time our focus was on the Roaring Fork Auto Tour. We have never been on this little known drive, well little known to us because there were lots of vehicles cruising through this one way, narrow road tour that is just outside of Gatlinburg. I probably would not recommend taking the drive in a dually as it is narrow, with about an inch on each side of the road and bridges that often do not have a straight on drive and requires a very slow, crossing once you are able to line the truck up. The road is winding and a couple times we had to do a three point turn to get around the hairpin turn. It is amazing to see the rugged terrain where many called home and farmed the land for years. The Roaring Fork river meandered throughout the auto tour and although not a huge river, it did have quite a loud, roaring sound, hence the name.
We also drove into Gatlinburg to have a late breakfast at Ruby Sunshine while viewing the skywalk and downtown strip, which was busy with tourists. You would never know there was a pandemic, except for the masks. We even saw another herd of elk as we left the park and drove into Cherokee.
We did have a couple other outings to our old stomping grounds, drove past our old house, went to Brasstown Bald, took a stroll through Hamilton Gardens in Hiawassee, GA and a stroll on the dam on Lake Chatuge. However, due to a corrupt SD card, we lost several pictures. Here are a few we were able to salvage.
Our time in NC was cut short, with Rick's dad's health declining, we decided to fly home to WI early to spend time with him. With the weather turning to snow and ice in NC, we made a beeline to our winter spot in FL at Recreation Plantation where we were able to move up our reservation for the entire month of December. We quickly set up the RV, packed and flew out of Orlando to Milwaukee the next day. We were very fortunate to spend time with family and Rick's dad before his passing on the 10th. He will certainly be missed by many and we hope that he is catching the big ones in heaven. Rest easy Dad!
The remainder of our time in WI is spent with family and friends, playing cards, baking cookies and candies, and a couple of massages. It seems the excessive sitting on the plane, driving to FL, etc. has taken its toll and the need to work out the kinks is much needed. The weather has been a bit cold for our liking but we were able to wake one morning to a beautiful snowfall, which made it more festive.
The month in WI has flown by and our time here is coming to an end. We will be spending Christmas with family and flying out on the 28th, back to warm, sunny FL.
Until next year...Merry Christmas to all and the very best of wishes for a better New Year!
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