Goldsboro Kids and Aiken Friends

DSC_0149We left Hampton and Ryan’s family and headed to Goldsboro, NC for a couple of days and to celebrate Phil’s 43rd birthday DSC_0179   DSC_0175and my birthday which is not until the 30th.  We had lunch at The Brown Bag Cafe with folks from Phil’s office in a cute little indoor mall of local stores.  DSC_0154The girls came over to the campground after school where we played games and walked the dogs. DSC_0157I tried to teach them Backgammon but it wasn’t going to happen. DSC_0160   DSC_0161They were so wound up we ended up playing Slap Jack DSC_0164and then I taught Alexa to play poker. What a good Gramma I am 😉

I got a couple of loads of wash done in preparation for the long haul west.  Alexa had ordered an Eskimo costume for Halloween which was waiting for us on the porch and she modeled it for us.DSC_0171   DSC_0172  Is this girl really only 10 years old? Looks like a model!

The campground at Seymour Johnson AFB doesn’t have wifi and I couldn’t connect the computer to Phil’s wifi either.  I think I’m due for a new computer pretty soon. We were sharing the campground with one other family who had recently moved to the base from Guam. The school bus came in the morning to pick up their kids and dropped them off in the afternoon. One of the boys told me they would be moving into a house pretty soon and that his mom is on active duty at the base.

We left Goldsboro on the 24th and drove to Aiken State Park in South Carolina. DSC_0199It’s about 20 miles east of the town of Aiken where our good friends, Dave and Annie Johnson live. We’ve known them since our first AF assignment at Luke AFB in Arizona back in 1970.  We were again living near them in Salt Lake City, UT when Bruce attended the University of Utah and Dave had gotten out of the service and was also attending the U.   Annie gave Phil his first birthday party in Phoenix in 1971. Is there more cakeA lot of good times. Since those days, we’ve crossed each others’ paths a couple of times and since we were in the area and had the time we were more than happy to get together again.

Dave gave us a mini tour of the town of Aiken and then took us to Hopelands Gardens and Rye Patch which was originally the home of Oliver and Hope Iselin around the turn of the century. They developed the gardens and left the property to the City of Aiken in 1970 upon her death at age 102 .  DSC_0212There are several beautiful areas of camellias, a rose garden, live oaks and Deodar cedars, pools and fountains, and a labyrinth that was patterned after a 13th century labyrinth in France. Within the Gardens is also the  Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum.  It is located in the Iselin’s carriage house and stables. DSC_0211There have been 39 champion Thoroughbreds that trained at the famed Aiken Training Track. Who knew?

Also in the park is a stageDSC_0203 surrounded by a mote and terraced areas for seating where concerts are held.  Yet another venue for NCCB to consider.  Bruce wanted to play here!

Around the downtown area of Aiken you can see several ‘painted’ horses which were part of the 2003 Horseplay Public Art Project. Aiken is a very pretty town with several large estates and mansions in the style of the old south.  Horses are a big part of Aiken, including polo, steeple chases and “fox” hunts.  In the older part of Aiken there are unpaved streets made for horses.

Dave and Annie treated us to a great home cooked meal at their home and we reminisced about our other visits together. Then she packed up a ‘goodie bag’ of the leftovers for us to take on our way. Good food, good friends. A Good Time!

The campground at Aiken State Park was heavily wooded and secluded. DSC_0202There were only a few others camped there when we arrived, but the camp host told me that they were expecting to fill up over the weekend. The grounds were covered with pine straw so thick you almost couldn’t see where the road went. And it was very dark at night!  No wifi or cable, just water and electricity but we were fine with that. They required a two night reservation but the fee was low enough that we decided to pay it and only stay one night. It would be a good place to stay again as Aiken doesn’t have any of the usual RV parks closer to town.

We decided to take a smaller highway out of Aiken towards Asheville, NC with the goal of making Knoxville that day. We headed up US 25 through many small towns and in Edgefield we found another art project displayed with ‘painted’ turkeys. Funny!DSCF1020  DSCF1021  DSCF1023  These weren’t all of the turkeys; only the ones Bruce would slow down for me to take pictures of!  There was one in red, white, and blue that I couldn’t get close enough to.  Cute idea, tho.

We made it to Greenville only to discover unusual wear on the back tires of the trailer. After getting fuel and asking where a tire place nearby was, we drove farther up into the town to a recommended dealer. They had tires but suggested we find out what was causing the wear. Fortunately, just across the highway from that store was a trailer repair place and we were able to get them to take a look. After unhooking the trailer we went off for some lunch and waited for their diagnosis. Seems that a previous repair person, who shall remain nameless, failed to tighten some bearings when they checked our brakes after the last trip. Needless to say we had to replace the two tires, but the fix to the bearings was relatively inexpensive. We lost about 3 hours and ended up driving later than we have planned to Newport, Tennessee and a KOA.  Hopefully our next days travel will be fewer miles and more enjoyable.

The lunch we had while we were waiting was awesome!  Someone at the trailer repair place suggested the Coach House in Simpsonville.  Bruce had shrimp and grits, which he said was the best he’d had, and he’s had it several times.  Peg had fried catfish which is always good in the South. IMG_20131025_132010The grits were amazing, made with cheese and sausage.   Along with fried okra, you gotta love southern cooking!

Once the tires were replaced, we headed off to find a non-existent campground listed on the GPS, and ended up in search of another place to spend the night.  We ended up at a KOA in Newport, TN after driving through Asheville and some spectacular scenery. A longer than planned day and it was really getting cold by the time we stopped.

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