Lessons Learned

We went on our first trip with Peanut. The trip itself went really well… like REALLY well.

We left home about 2 hours later than planned. We traveled a full 4.5 miles from home before we had to stop for gas. This was actually a planned stop before we left… our driveway is on an incline, and we had to keep Peanut hooked up to our towing vehicle after we got him home. While our neighbors are all awesome, understanding folks, we couldn’t imagine they would be happy about Peanut being parked in the middle of the cul-de-sac where it where he could safely be unhooked. Since the RV dealer is a ways from home, “The Punisher” was about ½ a tank when we were ready to hit the road again… So, we made it to Costco, pulled in with ease, filled up The Punisher, and were off on our trip!! (Yes, our towing vehicle’s name is The Punisher – a shiny black Ford Explorer).

(We once ran out of gas with a travel trailer in tow… It was pretty comical to see us rolling up to the gas tank and landing about 5 feet short of the gas pump. Three skinny girls pushing a travel trailer and Ridgeline up to the pump was nothing short of watching the Three Stooges!! Just an fyi for Katie, we even had an extra 5-gallon tank with us on this trip - JUST IN CASE!)

We weren’t on the road for long!!

Another 12 miles up the highway, we stopped again. This time at Walmart. Flash wanted to get charcoal and didn’t want to wait until we were at a campground to purchase it ($$$). So, into Walmart we go!! Did we come out with charcoal? NO! We came out with snacks (even though we had an RV stocked with food). We came out with a rug (intended to get one for the RV, just not right then). We came out with extra lighters and a small propane tank (because Flash thought it would be useful, and he likes to play with fire). A one-time around the RV checking lug-nuts, tires, Husky hitch, brake lights/turn signals, and locks, and we were on our way… AGAIN!!

This time we made it another 66ish miles before one of us had to pee. When we say one, we mean ALL of us had to pee. Mind you, from home to campground, it is only 95 miles - 1 hour and 43 minutes of estimated time. We all went to the bathroom (in the RV, at that, which was pretty darn convenient!), and we let Tulia and Penny out for a short walk. Then, back on the road again!

We made it the rest of the way without stopping again. As we got into Murphy, North Carolina, the rain was coming down. Though, we knew we would probably be setting up for the very first time in the rain, we were grateful that we would not be putting up a tent! We got to the Murphy/Peace Valley KOA just before their office closed at 5:00 p.m. We checked in and let the office manager know just how excited we were about our first RV trip in a very long time! By that time, it wasn’t raining. YAY! The campground host pulled up to the office in her golf cart to show us the way to our campsite. Site 32, the last site of sites along the river, for a mere $44/night. Talk about a deal!!! Or a steal! The campground host offered to help us back into the site, but Mookie and Flash wanted to do this on their own. With a site as large as this one, it would be pretty hard to mess it up. Flash is used to towing and backing vehicles/boats/etc from all of his time in the military, so this was a piece of cake. The campground host asked if we needed firewood for the evening. With only a little hesitation due to the recent rain, Flash and Mookie said they would love to have firewood… and just like that, the campground host was off to retrieve it, and delivered it to the site! Talk about service!!

While Flash and Mookie were setting up their campsite (using a laminated check list we created by watching other YouTuber’s), we knocked out set up in about 30 minutes. Before leaving home, Peanut was plugged into power for about 48 hours. Flash and Mookie had some trouble with the refrigerator becoming cold, but they packed a thermal bag with ice packs, and hoped for the best. One thing they didn’t learn how to use before leaving, was the Truma (functions hot water and furnace). They also weren’t sure how to scan the cable TV after it was hooked up (they didn’t bring a cable connector either). We kept all of the manuals in a handy location, and one by one, we figured out how each thing worked (except for the refrigerator). Hot showers all around in our OWN bathroom while camping… YES, PLEASE! Burgers over the fire and roasted potatoes in the oven for dinner… YES, PLEASE!

Another Walmart trip to pick up a cord for the cable TV and an even more insulated, small cooler, and we were set! Nightfall came, and it was off to bed. Ability to wash faces and brush teeth in the comfort of our own RV. Check. Nightly routine of watching “Friends” on Nick at Nite. Check. Everyone asleep. Check. Middle of the night bathroom break (because we are over 40). Check. Penny not in her crate (like usual) and up at 2:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m., 5:00 a.m. Check (UGH!). Thunderstorm in the middle of the night. Check. Wake up

by 7:00 a.m. Check. Not a lot of sleep was had on our first night, but a lot of lessons were learned so far.

We spent our Saturday at Buck Bald Brewing and Copperhill Cabins to support Shepherd’s Men, and their cause to help raise awareness and funds for the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia. #SHAREtheburden Their program focuses on assessment and treatment for American military veterans who have sustained mild to moderate Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during post-9/11 service. Flash is a graduate of the SHARE program (at zero cost to him), and if there is an opportunity to let others know how their donations helped him personally, he will be there to share that. Flash and Mookie are so very appreciative of Shepherd’s Men and those at SHARE for all they have done to help Flash and their family. The Blue Ridge Marine Corps League so kindly presented Shepherd’s Men with $2000 at this event, and thousands more were raised.

It was so nice to have a travel trailer with air conditioning so the pups could join us on our excursion, and everything was within close enough proximity that traveling back and forth to let the pups out to potty and exercise was fantastic! A big shout out to the fenced in off leash dog park at the KOA too!!

Saturday night we returned to Peanut at the KOA and went to bed. While Penny slept in her crate this time (just like at home), sleep was better, but not great. We are assuming it will take some getting used to the mattresses (we are lucky to have a regular, residential Queen size mattress!). We got up on Sunday and attempted to make pancakes on the griddle. Unfortunately, too much water in the mix didn’t really allow pancakes to happen. So, we settled for maple brown sugar sausage links and banana bread before breaking down our campsite. We again utilized a laminated check list. Wham, bam, working together, and it was DONE! … packed up, ready to go, and we were off! While packing up the campground office manager drove up in her golf cart, collected our trash, and inquired how our first RV trip in forever had gone (see notes above!). Also, 5 stars for this KOA; Flash and Mookie couldn’t have been more pleased with the location, the staff, the amenities, the scenery! We had so much fun and can’t wait until our next trip!!

Wham Bam Ready to Roll Out

The joy of having an RV and everything you could possibly need is we didn’t have to go straight home. We had all day! We went a few miles up the road to Nantahala Outdoor Center, host of the 2013 International Canoe Federation Canoe Freestyle World Championship as well as other events and races. We had been there before during Fall and Winter seasons while traveling through the area, but have never been in the Summer. Everyone remained socially distanced and the indoor stores, masks were donned. We found a table next to the river and had a little picnic by the water. It was fun to watch the rafters and kayakers and enjoy a little lunch while reflecting on our trip.

Nantahala Outdoor Center

Penny and Tulia Hanging Out by the River

Flash and Mookie have these big dreams of documenting their travels in a VLOG. They took video (which isn’t the greatest). They did an interview about their trip (in which the mic didn’t work – 6 minutes of NOTHING!). They took a lot of photos. While they will learn these things along the way (eventually), this is what they take from this trip- They had a fun time with family and friends, supporting a cause that means so much personally. They made memories that they won’t forget. And there are lessons learned for next time.

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