Welcome to Sunny Florida

Oh my goodness we made it!

So we pulled into our RV park yesterday afternoon. It was a pretty easy drive down. We split it up into two drive days. The first day we made it from Pigeon Forge, TN and stopped at our “home park” in Unadilla, GA, met up with some friends for a quick dinner, then it was off to Clermont, FL. I was so happy when we saw our first palm tree and all the air plants. I love it down here!

I have to say I was super impressed with Hubby’s parking skills. This is a tight park and he did incredible. And of course there were plenty of spectators. One guy came up to me and commented on Hubby’s skills, he said, “now that’s a truck driver, been doing it all his life I bet” HA! I love it.

So now Hubby is headed back up north to Knoxville, TN to drop off the truck. He left about 3:30 this morning to make it in time for his evening flight. What a guy, right!!! Once I get some laundry done and the kiddos are awake we’ll Uber into Kissimmee and pick up our rental car. We have 12 nights before I have to figure out how to move the rig, so life is good! Whew! We are so lucky to live the life we do, even when things are crazy I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Lots more adventure along the way!

So yesterday was the big day…

The part arrived on Saturday, a little later than expected but that seems to be the case anymore. So hubby went over to the mechanic first thing Monday morning and took every precaution when installing the new component. We were so nervous. This had to work. It’s not so much that we aren’t enjoying our time. It’s more just the process we go through every time we sit and wait for the part to arrive. It’s never quite enough time to make real plans, but somehow these little spurts of time have added up to a month! I can’t even believe it. I’ve thought a lot about why this is happening, what we are supposed to learn from it, how to stay positive, and how I can fully accept that life isn’t so bad. I’ll be the first to admit I am not a very patient person. Also, I’m a lot spoiled. I try really hard to consistently remind myself of all the things I am grateful for. But I don’t know, I guess I just lack a sense of peace and contentment when I really want something to happen. I say all the right things out loud. Even my writing on here reflects all the things I want to feel inside. But something I have learned through this whole experience is that just saying these things out loud doesn’t mean you actually believe in the bullshit you’re spewing. Maybe not even so much that I don’t believe it, but I just don’t truly live it. So I’ll try, try, and try again to keep living who and what I want to be. I suppose you get you’re 100 years not only to experience all the things but to keep working on the person you admire when you look in the mirror.

Wow, that was deep!

So back to Monday. I’m sure you can gather that things didn’t exactly go as planned. We had prepped and prepared the RV to roll, as hubby was supposed to show up and we were going to roll off to the Florida coast. And the day actually started out that way. Hubby called and confirmed that the install was a success! Progress!! The truck started right up and sounded great. But while we were on the phone a couple of new dash lights illuminated. No big deal, I got on the phone with the parts company, and they said it was just the computer updating and to let the vehicle idle for 30 minutes. Sweet! So I tell hubby, he’s happy, and he sits and waits. At this point, I am really excited. I crank up the music, start moving the appliances and such and then hubby’s face flashes on my phone again. I think at this point I already knew what he was going to say.

Sure enough, when hubby tried to pull out of the shop, the truck just shut down. He explained that the lights had gone away just as the repair company said, but now we had a whole new set of problems. At that point, the mechanic hooked up the scanner and started to read the codes. Luckily the original code was gone, but we were left with one very unique code which clearly didn’t allow the vehicle to even move. HA! Awesome! So back to the electronics company, the part goes, and the truck will now sit in Pigeon Forge for another week-ish while we try and figure out what’s wrong.

OK, no big deal, we had talked about all this. Planned for it, the whole thing!

So hubby made the walk back, and we’re all still in good spirits, knowing that our plan was still to leave. No matter what. So we talked about our options now that we were actually faced with the choice of what we were going to do and I set about on the phone and computer making plans.

This is where the day kind of got away from me. It seemed like everything I had researched and tried to plan for was just falling apart. And then finally we did have a viable plan, I started booking cars, and flights, etc. And then one big piece of the puzzle just crumbled. By this time we were done. The only thing left to do was wait it out, and get a fresh start the next day. I am so not good at just letting it go, but Hubby was so great at diffusing my emotional state.

Fast forward to this morning, the phone rings, and everything changed. Just like that, we were back on! Isn’t that crazy?!?!

So it was go time. We had to pick up a rental car, run some much-needed errands, and then head out to pick up our truck rental. That’s right. We rented a truck to tow our rig to Florida. We’ll make the drive over a couple of days. Then Hubby will drive said truck all the way back here, they only rent for roundtrips, and then he’ll hop on a plane back to Florida. Easy right? And then, of course, there’s the whole moving of the rig between RV parks without a truck, HA! We’ve got plans for that too. We’ll see how it goes!

Overall the logistics on this one were challenging, probably some of the most intense planning we’ve done. Accomplishing these things on a budget is tough. Sure with all the money in the world, it’s easy. But I spend hours trying to find promo codes and scouring every website I can think of for a great deal and any insight to accomplishing our goal. We definitely ran the gamut of possibilities, scratching down all the scenarios and calculating costs. I suppose we could have just sat here for another week or so and kept waiting it out, but that’s just not who we are, and considering a “2-3 day turn around” back on January 3rd has led us here, I think it’s safe to say that a best case scenario in terms of timing may no longer be on our side. I know it sounds crazy, but at this point I just want this truck fixed…PERIOD, who cares about when!

Fingers crossed all goes great! As usual, I’ll keep you posted!

Hello from…. Yep, still Pigeon Forge!

Yes, we are still really here. And you’re probably thinking what in the hell are they still doing there, if it were me… Well sometimes it’s easier from the outside to come up with all the things you could do to get yourself out of a jam, but when you’re living it things become a bit muddled. In any case, I think we last left off with us waiting for our truck part, again! And we now know that the part is officially “dead.” So with many phone calls we finally got what we think we need. Now, we still don’t know if this will fix the original problem, but the truck isn’t even a working vehicle without this part, so first things first. The hope is that this “new” part will show up tomorrow, and we can drop it in, and it actually fixes the problem. Does it feel like you’ve heard this story before? HA! I’m telling you it’s like the freaking twilight zone around here 🙂 Anyways, we have decided that either way we are getting the hell out of here. Truck or no truck. We’ve got plan A and B all drawn out, and we’re ready to push forward with either. The weather here is turning, and we’ve had a half-frozen RV for the last couple of days, we’re doing OK, but I think it’s time. We do warm up today so everything should be back to normal, but man, I hate putting this thing through rough weather. So hopefully our next update will be from a warmer destination. Fingers crossed!

Pirate Golf and the Mirror Maze in Pigeon Forge, TN

With the truck almost fixed and hopefully rolling out of here Saturday we thought it would be good to check the last few activities off our list. So last night we went over to Magi Quest and relived our adventure from 2012. First up was Blacklight Pirate Golf…

As you can see it was a very close game between Hubby and me. I rarely do anything better than he does, so this was super cool! After golf, it was on to the Mirror Maze! And if you have never done one you have to add it to your list, they are so much fun!!! Music, disco lights, and the constant shock that there’s 20 of you…Aweomse!!!

After all this fun the boys went off to play their Magi Quest adventure, and it was time for a Starbucks for Livs and me. We finished the night at 5 Guys, my absolutely favorite burger place here in town, and of course took an Uber home. I am ashamed to say that we just couldn’t make the walk back. We did walk into town, but by this time it was 29 degrees outside, just too cold!!

And today should be the big day. We’ll wait for UPS to deliver our part to the campground, Hubby will Uber over to the mechanic, we’ll do a little test drive, and then we should be ready to roll out tomorrow!!! I’ll let you know 🙂

 

Steak n’ Shake in Pigeon Forge, TN

So after another great school day, we decided it would be fun to get about and about, hit the outlets, and grab some dinner. We knew the trolley was on a modified schedule so we walked to the pickup point, only about a 15-minute walk from the campground and figured it would arrive within 20 minutes. Well…. we waited and waited and waited, and Livs called the trolley office, and we waited some more, and finally an hour later it arrived.

You know it’s so funny that these little moments pop up in life, and we could have just called an Uber, we could have just gone home, we could have gotten upset, we could have just played on our phones, but we didn’t. We all chatted, reminisced about all the times we had waited for buses and boats in Central America, laughed, and felt a tiny sense of accomplishment as soon as we saw the trolley round the corner. It was silly really but honestly, some of our best moments come from standing on the side of the road putting our faith in something other than ourselves.

So after the short trolley ride up the parkway, we were dropped off at the outlets, running a little later than we anticipated but no biggie! So we head towards our first store, and the door is locked, turns out they closed early! HA! Too funny, we all kind of died laughing at that moment, because it was just so perfectly us.

So now it was on to dinner! We had plans to go to this place that we’ve seen down here, Quaker Steak n’ Lube, but we saw a Steak n’ Shake on our way and just couldn’t resist! And it was a great experience. Yummy food topped off with delicious shakes! We did treat the kids to an Uber home, by this time it was so cold out, and I obviously needed to refamiliarize myself with the new trolley schedule, ha!

Today it was another great school day followed by the best news of all….The truck part that we sent off is fixed!!! My biggest fear was that they were going to call and tell us nothing was wrong with it, but thank goodness it was actually broken. So… In theory, we should be able to pop this back in the truck and be back and rolling!!! Friday is the big day, we’ll get the part to the mechanic hitch up the trailer and put the truck to the test, as long as everything goes as planned we will officially head out on Saturday and continue our way south. Yeah!

 

Sunny Days in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN

So as we sit and wait to see what the future of our truck holds we get to enjoy the fun town of Pigeon Forge and nearby Gatlinburg. We visited this area back in 2012, and it’s always held a special place in our heart. We successfully moved RV parks and are now even closer to the main drag.

On Saturday we decided to take the trolley up to Gatlinburg. It’s a tiny little town nestled in the heart of the Smokies.

Once in town, we headed toward the main strip. More of the same really but so cute. Little shops and eateries and of course tons of mirror mazes, candy stores, moonshine distilleries, and silly museums.

Livs and I picked up a couple of hoodies, and of course, the kiddos and Dad got their candy fix. Other than that it was just so nice to get out, feel the sunshine, and be together!

Today it was a back to school day for the kiddos. They actually did a great job. Sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle to get back into the groove when they’ve had some down time, and when I say they I mean Ryder…But he actually did a super great job! I was so pleased. The next few days hold about the same. We’ll use this time to really buckle down and get ahead of it so we can enjoy some downtime once we get to Florida! As for the house, we got the Toyo repaired, and we’ve actually had some really great showings. I am so excited because I really feel confident we are going to sell this thing!! Whoo hoo! We’ll keep you posted!

It’s 2019!!! Happy New Year!

Well, we made it out of Rising Sun, IN. Well…first we only made it about 10 minutes before the truck decided that it was most definitely not fixed. A drive that should have taken about 5 hours took about 8 with all the stops, but we kept our game face on, no tears, no yelling, and we got through it! On the bright side, the RV traveled really well. Since we haven’t rolled with it much, it was hard to know what items needed to be moved and secured. I always take a little extra precaution, but it’s nice when you get to a point when you know precisely which cabinets and drawers not to trust. Overall it did great. This is also the first time we’ve traveled with flat screens on the walls. Usually, we take them down, but these are set up a bit differently. They did pretty well. The one in the living room shimmied out a bit, so we decided a bungee cord would fix the issue, but in the meantime I took a blanket and made a makeshift rope to keep it in place, not to bad for a roadside fix.

We pulled into Pigeon Forge, TN about an hour or so after dark. Luckily it was an easy site to get into, plus I think Hubby really knows how to move this trailer. It didn’t take us long to get set up. Even with our new setup, it doesn’t take us more than 15 minutes or so to get everything ready on the inside. Maybe a bit longer for Hubby on the outside, but he had to mess with the dump lines a little more than usual. Some people think it must take forever to get these things ready to roll and set up again. But really, putting away the groceries is a bigger task than setup and teardown.

Since it was such a long day, we headed to bed pretty early. The next morning Hubby and I scoured the internet for a good diesel mechanic. We still had an idea of what was wrong with the truck, but we wanted someone else to take a look. He took it over in the morning, and we spent a leisurely day at the RV, kinda nice just to sit and relax. The next morning we heard back about the truck. Still no real idea of what the problem is. So we decide that we’ll go with the next step and that’s sending off the PCM for a repair and return. Ugh! Unfortunately, this became a logistical nightmare. And of course we kick ourselves for not doing this while we were still in Indiana, but we thought we were making the right decision based on what we knew, and sometimes that’s just all you can do.

And this is when living in an RV gets a little messy. So we know we can’t stay at this park because they are closing for the winter. We also know that we have to get this part out of the tuck and then in the mail. We also know we will be without our truck for about a week. So you start thinking logistics. First off was to head to the Walmart to load up on groceries, while we still had the truck. Plus we were going to enjoy a nice evening out since we would all use a break from the trucks woes.

Well…we just barely made it through Walmart, and we got a call from Alaska. Turns out the heating unit in the main house went out. Fortunately, it did not appear that the house had frozen over….yet! We tried to go through some troubleshooting, but it didn’t look like that was going to work. I got on the phone with the technician and he said he could be there Monday, this was Saturday. So in the meantime, we had our guy set up an electric heater, and turn the faucets on a trickle. And just wait it out. Ugh! Oh man, we couldn’t even get a day!

I have to be honest after we checked out of the Walmart I was spent. I was so worried about the dumb house, and all I could think of was crawling in bed. And that’s exactly what I did. I am not proud that I wasn’t able to pull myself together. But sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

I slept late the next day, still not totally wanting to deal with our crap. And then finally decided to put my big girl panties on and apologize to my family for being such a dick! They, of course, forgave me, and we took a trip up into the Smokies. I just wanted to get out and drive and walk a bit. Other than having to reset the truck a few times, which we knew would happen, we had a great time. We laughed, listened to music, walked along the creeks, and breathed in the fresh mountain air.

By Monday morning Hubby and I had gotten a plan together. He drove the truck to a different mechanic, had the part taken out, walked to the UPS store, and then Ubered back to the rig. It’s funny, it all sounds so easy when I write it down. Now we wait. Hopefully there is something actually wrong with the part, and hopefully, they can fix it. We should know more in the next couple of days. As for the house, the tech still hasn’t made it out there, hopefully working on it today, so we’ll see how that goes. We think we found someone to move us to a different RV park on Thursday and that should get us through until we get our perfectly fixed truck back! Peaks and valleys, man! HA!

So now you’re all caught up. We did however have an awesome New Years Eve night. Luckily there’s a pretty extensive trolley system that has stops along the Parkway, the main drag of Pigeon Forge, and hits a lot of the campgrounds, and grocery stores. So really, there are worse places to be stuck without a vehicle. We hopped on the trolley in the afternoon and had plans to do an “Escape the Tomb Adventure,” dinner, and “The Island” to ring in the New Year!

The Tomb was super fun. A little cheesy, but that’s what we expected. It was about an hour adventure, solving puzzles while you moved from chamber to chamber, trying to outsmart the Pharao. It was nice because it was just the 4 of us on our journey, with our guide, who was super funny! Definitely glad we did it! And thank goodness we escaped the Pharaos wrath and made it out alive!

The Island is a bit like the City Walk at Universal Studios. Restaurants, shops, attractions, and moonshine! Turns out you can’t get booze at a local store in town, but they will gladly sell you overpriced moonshine at that little brewery you see in the photo! And Hubby and I totally bought in!

We watched some great white rappers!

Drank some shine! Checked out the attractions and a few shops. And then we were ready to call it a night! It did to start to rain a bit, and we kinda wanted to beat the crowds, so we made our way out of the busy area and attempted to book an Uber. The trolleys were done running for the night, and my phone was acting up, so Uber wasn’t an option. So in true Cunningham style, we decided to wing and just walked the couple of miles back. It was actually kind of nice to walk in the rain.

And even though I love to get out and about I truly enjoyed watching our New Years Eve CNN live stream on youtube. Usually, we’re just hanging out in cold and dark Alaska, and we do our hourly videos. This year though I’ll have to come up with an impromptu year in review and spring it on the kiddos when they least expect it, ha!

But for now, all I can really say is that 2018 was what it was and I am so ready for 2019! We learned a lot. Made new plans. Tried new things. Enjoyed some adventures. And got out of Alaska for the winter! I am so proud of this little family, and these kiddos who are just the coolest little people. And my Hubby, how that guy deals with me, still amazes me to this day!

So now we’re just kind of hanging out. I had to rearrange a few reservations, we’re just going to hope for the best and plan on getting back on the road next week! I’m sure we’ll enjoy a few more attractions in the area, Ryder is ready for a return to Magi Quest, and Liv and I really want to get our feet pampered. We’ll keep you posted!!

 

Bush’s Tour, Tennessee

Bush's Tour, Tennessee

Inside the Bean Museum. What I found fascinating is how the beans are prepared. They start with the empty can, drop the bacon in, then the plain soaked and blanched navy beans and then the sauce. After everything is added it is at that point that they cook the beans in the can. After they are cooked in the 9 story tall bean cooking building they are sent to “mellow” for one week before receiving their label and being shipped. Totally cool!!

Bush’s Tour, Tennessee

Bush's Tour, Tennessee

Here is a pic of the actual factory across the street. They have quite the technologically efficient plant. From their own cows to “mow” the grass, to the waste water treatment plant, that then gets used to water the crops, to the methane powered boilers to keep the plant running, provided by the “lawn mowers”. Very impressive!

Bush’s Tour, Tennessee

Bush's Tour, Tennessee

We had a great time on the Bean tour today. It’s kinda funny how things work out. The only reason we drove all this way was because I was so excited to have found the Bush’s Baked Bean Factory. Our factory tours haven’t been very kid friendly so far and we haven’t fully experienced what really goes into a finished product, so I thought this factory would be perfect. So we drive all the way out here and I discover that the “Factory Tour” is merely a bean museum with some videos. Now with that being said, it was totally amazing! AND had it not been for my misunderstanding we wouldn’t have come to this part of Tennessee and fallen in love. We are really liking it here. We even did the Walmart test today. See, the Walmart test shows you what you’re really getting into. The town passed! Perhaps not with flying colors but that may be asking a bit much for Walmart 🙂

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Built in the early 1820’s this cabin is the oldest log home in Cades Cove. We learned that typically parents, daughters and infants slept in the downstairs area and the sons were sent upstairs to the loft. I am still in awe of this place. I can’t believe my kids went up to the loft of an almost 200 hundred year old cabin. Amazing!!

Mirror Maze, MagiQuest, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Mirror Maze, MagiQuest, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

After lunch we went back to MagiQuest and finished up the other attractions. Here we are in the 5000sq. foot Mirror Maze. I have always wanted to do one of these. It was sooooo weird! When you walk up they give you plastic gloves to put on and it’s in that moment that you realize this is going to be a very unique experience. It was really fun and they had cool lights and music. Of course being my paranoid self I made sure everyone held on to each other tightly, I was pretty sure someone was going to get stuck in the mirrors forever hahaha It was a really fun time though, I highly recommend it.

MagiQuest, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

MagiQuest, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

We have left Nashville and made our way to the Smoky Mountains. Expecting a peaceful trip to the woods we were welcomed with “The Parkway”. I would say it’s the equivalent to The Strip in Vegas, only it’s geared toward kids. There was so much neon everywhere. Stores, eateries, arcades, amusements, everything a kid could wish for. It’s pretty incredible. After a long trek of Civil War sites we thought the kids could use a little indoor fun. So I did a bit of research and came across MagiQuest. It’s like a live action video game with magical wands, apparently they have several across the globe. Hubby convinced me to get my own wand and I actually had a super fun time 🙂 The kids had a blast too. And again, we are getting so spoiled with off season crowds, we basically had the place to ourselves!!

Jack Daniels Distillery, Lynchburg, Tennessee

Jack Daniels Distillery, Lynchburg, Tennessee

There were so many great stories that came out of this tour. This is the only Jack Daniels facility on the planet that produces their whiskey. Every drop of Jack Daniels water comes from the cave spring on site, the reason for Jack Daniels purchase of this property. They have over 70 barrel houses and each house holds thousands of barrels. Jack Daniels died from gangrene poisoning. Early one morning he kicked his safe open and broke his toe. The following six years were spent removing portions of his left leg but he finally succumbed to the illness. Lynchburg is located in Moore county. Which happens to be a dry county. They are able to produce the alcohol and they are able to sell you decorative bottle that just so happen to have whiskey in them. Other than that there is absolutely no consumption or sale of alcohol. You can buy your very own barrel of Jack Daniels Single Barrel for about 9k-12k.