I was finally able to retire about four weeks ago and I'm loving it. Taking this trip and not having to worry about working is immensely satisfying. Unfortunately, the DW is going to have to use a combination of telecommuting and vacation to cover the month or so we'll be gone.
Starting out, our only "hard date" was October 3rd, the day that we have to be at the factory service center in Nappanee. Still somewhat new to driving/camping/driving/camping, we were concerned about where we would stay each night after 3-6 hours of driving. We'd like to be more spur-of-the-moment, but the engineer in us came out and we decided to make reservations beforehand. Accordingly, we decided to stay in Perry GA, Huntsville AL, Nashville TN, and Owensville IN along the way.
I've come to learn that our typical driving speed will be 60-65 miles per hour, closer to 65. If a GPS app (or Google Maps) calls for a 4.5 hour trip, I assume another 1.5 hours because of speed and possible stops at rest areas or to get gas. That formula worked well for us as we told the Perry campground (three days ahead of time) to expect us about 6pm. I looked at the time as we pulled up in front of the camp office and it was 6pm on the dot.
Crossroads Travel Park, Perry, GA
Our first stop was for one night at Crossroads Travel Park in Perry GA. The reason we chose this park was because 1) it was right off Interstate 75, 2) had pull-through sites and 3) would give us a Passport America price of $25 for a one-night full-hookup (FHU) site.
We walked out of our coach to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant right in front of the park and ordered some BBQ that we took back to the coach. It was good, but the best thing about it was that it was close.
The night was quiet and we pulled out the next morning about 8am.
Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, AL
Our next stop was at Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville, AL. We were concerned about getting there via a lot of twisting roads, but reviews we read gave sound advice about the best way into the park. My DW did a superb job of navigation and just read out the turns. I'm getting so used to driving the rig and toad that it was no problem at all.
Our first night at Monte Sano, some nearby relatives visited. My wife made a great dinner in the coach. We ate, then went outside and sat around a beautiful campfire for about three hours and talked. The next day, we drove a couple of miles and took a tour of the Burrett Mansion and learned a lot about its history, the history of the area, and more. On the grounds there are several log homes build in the 1800's and reconstructed on the property. There are great views of the city from the mansion and we enjoyed walking the grounds. Visit their web site to learn more about it: http://www.burrittonthemountain.com/.
We left Monte Sano State Park and drove about three hours to our next destination, the KOA in Nashville, TN. This KOA, like many others, is expensive - about $65 per night including a 10% discount. It's very nice, with asphalt sites, FHU's, cable TV, a nice store and pool area, and more. It's also in a great location: about three miles from the Grand Ole Opry and close to many of Nashville's attractions.
Sante Fe Cattle Company. It reminded me of some steakhouses we have seen before with all of the free peanuts and their menu of seafood and steak. The food was good and it was fun to eat somewhere new.
The next morning was absolutely beautiful, with the sun out and the temperature around 60 degrees. We went over to the small diner in the KOA store complex and paid $5 each for some pancakes and bacon, then met some nice neighbors and chatted for awhile. That's one of the things I like the best about RVing - meeting so many really nice folks and hearing their stories about their lives and places they have visited.
Late in the morning, we drove 12 miles into downtown Nashville and parked at the Farmer's Market. There, we hopped on a trolley that drove to all of the major attractions and learned a lot about the area and its history. You can get off at any stop (there are about 15 of them) and get back on when the next trolley pulls up about 20 minutes later.
Since we were getting hungry, we got off downtown at Broadway and 2nd and walked a couple of blocks to Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. It's famous for many of the biggest stars in country music coming in to eat after performing at the Ryman Auditorium, which is where the Grand Ole Opry performed for about 30 years before moving to their present location. The auditorium is directly behind the lounge, and performers used to get off the stage and come in the back door.
We saw a lot of Nashville on the tour and were glad we took the time to do it. When it was over, we headed back to the campground, talked to more neighbors (some came into our rig and visited for awhile), and then left about 7:30p for Gaylord's Opryland Hotel. The hotel and the Opry itself are about 5 minutes from where we were staying at the KOA. The hotel was amazing, with several atriums containing thousands of plants, trees, and even large waterfalls. One of them had a canal - and you could even take boat rides. It was odd that most of their restaurants were closed at 8pm. We settled for some pizza and spot overlooking fountains that "danced" with music.
After eating, we walked for about 10-15 minutes to the Grand Ole Opry, where we saw a really good show and enjoyed listening to some of the best up-and-comers in country music. Highlights for us were comedian Henry Cho, singers Maddie & Tae, and a group of folks led by John McEuen called "John McEuen & Friends". To top off the evening, Little Big Town sang. I think that country music continues to be my favorite.
On Wednesday morning, we took our time getting up and out. Our destination was a small town in Indiana called Owensville, with a population of 1000. My DW's Aunt lives there and they have a yard that's more than big enough for our rig with the toad attached. We pulled in and showed the coach to them and a few of their neighbors that dropped by, then settled in for a great dinner in their home.