After a few days of traveling through Georgia and discovering some cool little towns, we’re now in Western North Carolina until mid-September. We had a few bumpy moments right out of the barn, but I think we’re gonna make it.
So, How’s It Going?
You would think after seven-and-a-half years of traveling full-time that we would slip easily back into this life. But after 18 months of being stationary, there’s a definite learning curve to getting back out on the road. For one thing, we’re all learning how to live together in our 27-foot trailer, which is approximately 250 square feet. Our screened porch at home in Florida is 400 square feet. No wonder we’re all feeling a bit cramped.
We’re still juggling things around, trying to accustom ourselves once again to this small space, and trying to not step on Magnolia, who is also doing her best to adjust to her new life on the road.
The Traveling Part Is The Most Challenging
Magnolia is not especially thrilled about riding in the truck. We tried to make her as comfortable as possible, with a cushy bed in the backseat and her stuffed catnip squirrel to keep her company.
She was restless and meowing when we pulled away from home, and we thought she was just expressing her unhappiness at being taken away from her happy place. And then, I unfurled the Georgia map only to discover it was soaked with cat pee. Dumb us. She was trying to tell us, but we didn’t understand.
Magnolia has an interesting relationship with her litter box. Every time we clean her litter box, she runs to it and uses it. Even if she’s in a dead sleep, she hears the sound of the scoop in the litter and comes running. Even if she’s JUST stepped out of the litter box and we start to scoop, she gets right back in and scratches around. We’ve decided she’s practicing Zen gardening. She carefully rakes until she gets the litter artfully arranged into a pattern that she finds pleasing.
We realized we could use her habit to our advantage. Before we get in the truck to travel, we scoop her litter box, even if it doesn’t need to be scooped. She gets right in and does what she needs to do. No more pee-soaked maps!
It’s Going So Much Better Than We Imagined
Honestly, traveling with Magnolia is going so much better than we expected. One of my biggest worries was our sleeping arrangements in the trailer. She has her own room at home, so until this trip, we didn’t have to deal with the nocturnal nature of cats.
She has plenty of choice spots for sleeping in the trailer, including her cat bed and her cat tree. She puts them to good use for cat naps during the day. But the first night, she hopped up on the bed and curled up by our feet. We thought she might need some comfort after a stressful day of travel, so we let her stay.
But lo and behold! Other than biting my toes through the blanket the first couple of nights (she thought it was a critter, LOL) Magnolia is a peaceful sleeper. She is now officially allowed to sleep with us.
The only bad part so far about traveling with her is—you guessed it—the dreaded litter box. Right now it resides in the bathtub, but we have to move it a couple of times a day for showers, and we have to make sure the door is open so that Magnolia can get in when she wants to Zen garden. It’s a pain. I have a plan, and Eric is willing to execute it, so stay tuned.
Traveling through Georgia was a necessity of getting to our destination of Western North Carolina. Little did we know just how beautiful our drive would be, and how charming the towns would be along the way.
Our first night out was just 150 miles from home at White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia. It’s a sixth-generation family farm that practices “radically traditional farming,” with an emphasis on sustainable land management and farming. We’ve been having their grass fed beef and pastured pork shipped to us over the last year, and thought it would be interesting to visit the farm.
There’s a new RV Park at White Oak Pastures. The park has full hookups, great internet, and a pastoral view of cows grazing in the pasture (and a faint smell of cow poop wafting through the air, depending on which way the wind is blowing). There’s also a general store and restaurant with a menu focused on what the farm produces. I wish we had been there on a Saturday for the farm tour. We also didn’t get there in time for dinner at the restaurant. (Yes, yes, I know. We only had a 150-mile drive. But we didn’t manage to leave home until 5:00 p.m. Sigh. It took FOREVER to finish all of the last minute tasks associated with leaving home! We are very out of practice.)
But we did pick up fresh local vegetables, eggs, and cheeses from the farm store…and for some reason, I bought a jar of pickled quail eggs. Note to self: You are in a trailer now, with limited refrigerator space.
Hard Labor Creek State Park
Our second stop en route to North Carolina was at Hard Labor Creek State Park in Rutledge, Georgia. We spent four peaceful nights here and enjoyed hiking the trails and exploring nearby towns—along with reorganizing the trailer and closing on the sale of our home in Oregon. Whew!!
If you ever camp here, try to get site #20. It has water, electric, and mostly non-existent Verizon connection. But it has dark night skies, peace, and this is the backyard:
There are miles of mountain biking trails that are also good for hiking. And in the lush forest, we found a bumper crop of chanterelles that we sautéed for dinner.
An Inkling Of What Traveling Used To Be Like
While we were camped at Hard Labor Creek, we visited some nearby towns in North Georgia. We’ve been cautious during the entire pandemic, and although we’re vaccinated, we continue to wear masks indoors and avoid crowds. We really didn’t know what to expect being back out on the road, but we knew it wouldn’t be fun if we weren’t able to experience some of what makes each place unique.
Food is part of that experience. We were delighted to discover the delightful City Pharmacy in Covington, Georgia, where we sat on their outdoor patio with a big fan stirring the sultry (but cooler than Florida) evening air. And we enjoyed one of the best meals we’ve had anywhere in our many years of traveling.
On another day, we took a little trip to Athens to visit the University of Georgia State Botanical Garden. With over 300 acres of gardens and trails, there’s a lot of lush beauty to explore.
When we came across giant hibiscus, I said, “Wow, those are the size of dinner plates!” I looked them up on the sometimes useful internet and discovered that they’re actually referred to as dinner plate hibiscus. Although I think of them as tropical, they’re hardy as far north as Michigan. Maybe we’ll plant some in the yard in Eastpoint. I hope they like sand and salt air.
These little outings are what help me feel like we’re really traveling again, and that it’s worth all of the effort.