Adventures in the Villa


2017 The Odyssey Part 2 – Nor by Nor’east Caravan

2019-04-22 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Traveling from Chattanooga, TN to Lynchburg TN, and Jack Daniels, and on to Huntsville, AL…

We prepared to leave for traveling to Lynchburg, TN, this morning.  Then we realized that Lynchburg is in the Central Time Zone and we were still in Eastern time in Chattanooga.  So we had an extra hour to kill.  But we left relatively early, and had a nice drive across Tennessee.  (The highway even dipped south for a few miles into Georgia before it turned slightly north back into Tennessee…)


We soon arrived in Lynchburg, and …


This is their fully restored antique truck, from all the way back in 1980…


Signage on this truck shows Jack Daniel’s motto:  “All Goods Worth Price Charged.”


The tour began by hearing an explanation of what Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is:

The law defines Tennessee Whiskey as: a spirit manufactured in Tennessee; made from grain that consists of at least 51% corn; distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% abv); filtered through maple charcoal prior to aging; aged in new charred oak barrels; placed in the barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% abv); and, bottled at not less than 80 proof (40% abv).

Except for the filtering through maple charcoal, this defines Bourbon.  In other words, Tennessee Whiskey is Bourbon filtered through maple charcoal.  Jack Daniels calls this process “Mellowing”.

We started at the Rick House, where they burn the sugar maple; we moved on to the water source, deep inside this cave:


Here is a statue of Jack Daniel standing on a granite boulder; you know, Jack on the Rocks…


This building was the headquarters office used by Jack Daniel’s up until 1958; it was here, in about 1905, that Jack kicked the company safe one morning, broke his toe, and died a few years later from gangrene, at the age of 61.


The owners of the company in 1958 (four brothers who had inherited the business) sold the business to Brown-Foreman for $20,000,000.  It is still owned by Brown-Foreman today.  Brown-Foreman also owns Early Times, Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, Canadian Mist, GlenDronach, BenRiach, Glenglassaugh, Finlandia, Herradura, Korbel, and Chambord.

This is the Still House; it contains four giant 90′ tall stills, which produce the clear corn whiskey:


The sour mash waste, after it is distilled, is piped over to this facility, where it is sold to local farmers as cattle feed; it still contains 6-8% alcohol.  Talk about contented cows!


This is the Mellowing House, where the clear whiskey is dripped, drop by drop, over a 10′ tall stack of charcoal, a process called mellowing…


The bottling lines are always my favorite part of these tours… This is a small line dedicated to their Single Barrel Whiskeys.  It dates from 1970 and seemed to me to be very non-automated – there is a lot of work done manually, like putting on labels, hanging tags around the neck, and putting the bottles into the cardboard boxes…


Finally, the tour over, we head to the educational part of the tour:  the tasting.  This is strictly for educational purposes only, since drinking whiskey in this county is forbidden…


We were given five sample with which to get educated.  It totaled about one ounce; we were told about how each type is made and what the differences are.  The funny thing was that both Lynda and I found the Rye to be terribly sweet, yet the “honey” version had very little taste at all.  Our guide checked it out and found that the two samples were switched!  It mattered little – we didn’t like either of them… I found that I liked Gentleman Jack, while Lynda preferred the original…

After the educational portion of the tour we walked through one of the old barrel rooms…


After the tour we could return to the Visitor Center.  While you cannot buy whiskey in this county, you can buy souvenir bottles here.  The bottles were filled with some sort of brown liquid…

We walked 1/2 mile into downtown Lynchburg, and enjoyed lunch at Bottle House BBQ:



We returned to the Villa and drove to Huntsville, Alabama…


They are building McMansions here, too…


We parked at an RV park at NASA’s Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville…


The RV park is very nice.  And cheap!  I wish we had RV parks in California like this for $20 per night…


For dinner this night we met up with friends we met on the Nor’ by Nor’ East Caravan; they will also be joining us on the Kentucky caravan in a few days…


Dinner was great!  Pork Belly appetizer and Crawfish Fritters, with a nice bottle of an Oregon Pinot Noir!

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-03-26 – Airstream Cajun Country Caravan – Breaux Bridges, LA

The Cajun Country Caravan  officially begins today!

We are in Butte La Rose, LA, but the address of the RV Park is Breaux Bridge, so that is what we will call it…

Cajuns were French folk who had settled in eastern Canada, around Nova Scotia, as we learned on our Nor’ by Nor’East Caravan in 2017.  The were called Acadians, but the English kicked them out of Nova Scotia two or three times, so finally they got the hint and they resettled here in Louisiana, and “Acadian” was corrupted to become “Cajun”…

Our leaders are parked near the entrance to the park.  They have a very unique Airstream, called The Skydeck:


Airstream produced only 12 of these motorhomes from 2003 to 2006.  It is a fairly typical interior layout, except that instead of a dinette they have an internal stair that accesses a hatch to the roof.  The roof contains a “skydeck”, with built-in seating , umbrellas, ice chests – everything you need to hang out and party on your “deck”

There were no activities planned for the day, other than watching the Airstreams roll in.  It turns out there are five other couples that we have met on our previous two caravans.  It was great to see old friends.

We did walk about one mile down the road (actually we walked on the levee, because Louisiana streets have no accommodation for pedestrians…) to the Atchafalaya Visitors Center


The houses across the levee were interesting… It was hard to tell if the levee was protecting us from water on their side or protecting them from water on our side.  Water is everywhere!


Houses were traditionally built up, leaving open space below to allow water to pass through and to allow cooling breezes to go by… and to keep termites away from the wood structures…


We arrived at the Visitors Center, where we learned a bit about the geography and history of the area…


We walked back along the levee; at 3:00 pm we had our initial meeting.  Information books were handed out, lots of information was discussed, and a generally convivial atmosphere prevailed.  Following the meeting was a gumbo dinner, provided by the staff of the RV park.  This was followed by some door prizes, dessert, and brief introductions all around.


And we added our 31st state sticker to our map…


Tomorrow we board the bus for Baton Rouge!

And an enjoyable time was had by all…




2017-10-03 Westbound; Bend, Oregon…

Another beautiful day in Bend; we drove to town and parked about 1/2 mile away in a lovely park:

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Walking along the river we found another dam; at one time this dam had a powerhouse or mill:

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We enjoyed another walk through downtown:


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We stopped in for a late lunch at Drake; they had very creative and different food;

Battered and fried portobello with beer cheese:

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Buttermilk fried chicken:

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We returned to the Villa at about 3:30; we discovered we had new Airstream neighbors; they have quit their jobs, sold their house, and are moving here.  They will be spending the winter here in Bend in their Airstream while they look for work and look to buy or build a house…

Happy Hours ensued; an an enjoyable time was had by all…

























2017-09-13 Westbound; Leaving Thunder Bay!

Today is the day!  We are finally leaving Thunder Bay, a full two weeks after we arrived…

2017-09-13 Thunder Bay Leaving

Our destination today is Shorewood RV, just outside Minneapolis; we are scheduled to get out refrigerator replaced.  (You recall our refer failed in PEI about one month ago…)

It was an uneventful trip, traveling southwest from Thunder Bay, continuing southwest to Minneapolis, then west to Anoka and Shorewood RV.

We stopped about every 1 1/2 hours or so to break up the trip.  We try to walk a bit and keep out Apple watches happy.  This rest stop was about one hour south of Duluth:

2017-09-13 Minnesota Rest Stop

The truck once again performed flawlessly, and we easily rolled along.  We arrived at Shorewood RV at about 3:30, and checked in to the Service department to make sure everything was on schedule.  They told us where to park, so we pulled in and set up for the night:

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A few minutes later they called to tell us the refer was here and they would be picking up the Villa at 6:00 am tomorrow morning…

We have good power, good internet access, good satellite TV, and air conditioning – it is 88 degrees and very humid!  We did add a sticker to our map:

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Happy Hours ensued and an enjoyable time was had by all…











2017-08-14 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Final Day on PEI; Farewell Banquet

We took this day to ready the Villa for travel on our own. Today is the last day of the caravan!

We began with a quick trip to the local Chevy dealer in Charlottetown; the “Check Engine” (emissions) light had come on the dash. After a quick check through their computers they determined that it was the result of a loose gas tank cap – operator error… We were in and out in 15 minutes… Airstream dealers could learn something about how Chevy service centers operate…

We cleaned the Villa and reorganized the back of the truck. Busy day all around. In mid-afternoon we took a break and went for ice cream at Cows, a PEI favorite:

2017-08-14 COWS

This evening is our “Farewell Banquet”.  It was at the Delta Hotel in downtown Charlottetown – it is a Marriott… We arrived early (duh!) and enjoyed some informal socializing as things got set up.  The food was spectacular!  Hats off to the Marriott for the spread they put out!

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I have no idea what flamingos have to do with Airstreams, but many people think they are firmly linked…

We snapped a few pix of our group…

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Our MC for the evening was Linda Belcher.  She is a real live wire and very funny person.  She goes all out to make sure she, and everyone else, is having a good time…

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After the dinner we gave out some door prizes, but mostly we took part in our own home-grown “entertainment”.

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Most of the “entertainment” was silly and hokey – we just enjoyed hanging out and showing off our talents, whether musical, dramatic, poetic, or silly.  (My contribution was a recitation of the age-old mairy fail of Rindercella…)

Of course, we had to make fun our Trevor and Gale Lake, our caravan leaders:

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And pay they tribute, as well…

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So, again, we all had a good time. Many good-byes were said. We headed back to the Villa and reflected on the end of the caravan and the beginning of our new adventure, heading west towards home…

2017-08-13 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Quiet Day on PEI

We had a quiet Day on PEI today.  We prepared our vehicles for the return trip home, and we visited the town of Victoria.

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Victoria is a charming town on the water, just north west of Summerside.  We strolled the waterfront, and selected the Landmark Cafe for lunch.

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We sat on the porch overlooking the town…

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Lynda had a tuna steak sandwich; I had PEI mussels. We shared a bottle of wine from a local winery named Matos. We were so impressed with this wine that we set out after lunch to visit the winery.

Matos Winery & Vineyards is a family-owned and family-run business.  In 2007, after spending much time researching the growing conditions and suitability of establishing a vineyard in PEI, Jim Matos and his family purchased a 50 acre parcel of land in St. Catherines.  They applied the French concept of terroir – finding a place where the combination of soil, slope, sun exposure and the peculiar weather vagaries allow certain grape varieties to unfold their unique characteristics.  To this end, they consulted with the finest European vintners who visited PEI to provide their expertise.  We approve of their results!

We tasted and bought wine. We also bought a bottle of anisette – a licorice flavored liqueur.  We love anise, pastis, absinthe, and the like, so we thought this would be a great bottle to have.

We returned to the Villa and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon – we walked down to the water, then jumped into Happy Hours.  I pulled out my little bottle of absinthe and we taste-tasted it against the new anisette.  They are nothing alike!  Our opinions varied as to which one we liked better…  And an enjoyable time was had by all…






2017-08-12 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Visiting Friends on PEI and Span of Green Cables

Today we visit friends who have a summer home here on PEI…

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But first, we join other caravanners in visiting a Windchime maker:

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For the last 20 years, Peter Baker has been making wind chimes at his studio situated atop the hills of South Granville – one of the windiest locations on Prince Edward Island.

Peter developed a taste for rural life while working in Vermont. A holiday visit to PEI with his family, in 1971, convinced him to live the rural life Island-style. In the early 1980s he began producing wind chimes with his brother. At the time, people were not familiar with them, but they soon became very popular.

Today, Baker operates his business from a converted barn not far from the old farmhouse he bought when he came to the Island, and where he still lives. In the first year of production, Baker turned out 1,000 wind chimes.

What is unique about these chimes is that they are musically tuned, in several different keys, in major and minor tones, plus the pentatonic scale. Each chime is hand built using quality components to ensure consistency in excellence of sound, durability, and appearance.  They use a galvanized stainless steel alloy, resistant to rust, with high tonal quality.  The length and diameter of each tube determines the pitch and timbre of each note; the longer and wider the bell is, the lower the note.  Each bell was tuned using a silver flute to find the perfect pitch.

My favorite was the chimes with the pentatonic scale. There are, of course, 5 notes – what equates to the black notes on the piano.  These five notes are familiar to most of us in one of two ways: It is the scale used in most Negro Spirituals – think “Amazing Grace”… These five notes are also the only notes used in the tunes produced by slot machines in casinos – this is done so that, while the tune of each machine is different, when played together they don’t clash, but make a semi-musical cacophony…

Anyhow, the last thing we need is more stuff, so we passed on buying any chimes, although many of the caravanners did.  It was quite a profitable day for the wind chime store.

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We left Island Winds as it began to rain.  We arrived at Bob and Cathy Adams’ cottage about noon:

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Bob and Cathy are Airstream friends from San Clemente, CA.  Cathy was born here on PEI, and she and Bob own this cottage, on the shores of the Northumberland Strait.  New Brunswick is across the water…

Bob and Cathy travel from San Clemente to PEI every year to visit their cottage and to repair damages that have been done over the past winter…

It is a lovely cottage; Bob and Cathy had the fireplace roaring, and it was cozy, or “forty”, inside as we caught up on news from our mutual friends.

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After a lovely lunch of lobster rolls and PEI potato salad, we relaxed, drank some wine, and relaxed some more. About 4:00 we headed out, bound for Charlottetown.

Charlottetown is a great little city – very walk-able streets and diagonal parking on most blocks.  We parked and found a little Italian bistro for dinner, then we joined the rest of the caravanners, along with about 2,000 other folks, to see, “Anne of Green Gables – The Musical”.

Anne of Green Gables is an entirely fictional creation, but her legend has been milked as assiduously as the plump cows that decorate the island’s fields. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s semi-autobiographical novel fuels an entire industry, and Anne’s curly-ginger-haired visage is adored by thousands of young women.

This is a live show; it has been running for 53 years in Charlottetown.  Just about all the creators of the show, and everyone connected with the inception of the show, are dead, but the show goes on.  Not being a fan of annoying, self-absorbed girls, Anne of Green Gables was never a big favorite of mine.  But the show was well done, the singing was good, the sets were creative and interesting, and an enjoyable time was had by all.


PS:  When the Confederation Bridge from PEI to New Brunswick was built (1996 – 1997) it was yet un-named.  After seeing that the steel reinforcing bars being used in the construction were encased in a green-coloured coating, locals dubbed the bridge, the “Span of Green Cables”…










2017-08-11 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Airstreams on the Ferry!

Yes! You can take Airstreams onto a ferry:

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Our tin cans are packed into a bigger tin can like sardines!

We are traveling from Caribou, NS, to Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island.  This will be the final campground location on the caravan…

We left the campground in Baddeck, along the shores of Bras d’ Or Lake, at about 6:00 am, to catch the 8:30 am ferry.  We found a few other folks who had the same idea:

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Soon the ferry arrived:

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When the ferry arrived, and had discharged its load of cars and trucks, it started loading for the trip back to PEI. Cars first. Cars, cars, and more cars went into the ferry.  When all the cars were on board, they started loading trucks, and more trucks. Then trailers, including about 10 Airstreams.  The ferry seemed “bottomless” – it just kept loading in more vehicles. Once on board, it looked like this:


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Once on board we found that there is a lower deck where all the cars were parked; trailers and trucks filled the main level. Upstairs were lounges, a cafeteria, and outdoor areas to experience the fresh air.

It was a fun ferry ride. We had breakfast in the cafeteria, watched the opposite ferry pass by, and enjoyed time with friends.

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When the ferry landed at Wood Islands, PEI, we were one of the first off. We had researched the area before hand, and we knew there was a Visitors Center where we could gather information on the island.  Others had the same idea… (Maybe because there is a Provincial liquor store there as well…):

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Our campground is on the northern end of PEI, just north of Charlottetown; Wood Islands in on the south end. However, we were too early to arrive at the campground, lest we annoy the parking crew.  So we just headed south, not knowing (and not caring) where we were going; it was beautiful!

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And when you wander around an unknown area, pulling your Airstream trailer, this is what you find:

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We found a winery!  Rossignol Winery… Of course, it was a beautiful place, right on the ocean:

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We parked the rig and went inside to taste what we could taste:

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We only tasted the wines made from grapes; it wasn’t bad.  We also tasted their Creme d’ Cassis, a black current wine (or liqueur) ; it was great!  We bought a few bottles to supplement our “cellar”.  We also admired the various sand sculptures on the property:

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Moving on, we continued around the southern end of the island.  We finally stopped for lunch in the town of Montague; Windows on the Water was a delightful spot to enjoy the early afternoon.

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The town of Montague is located on the water, and once was a lively port city…

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After killing enough time, we headed north towards Charlottetown, and to our campground a few miles north of there.  We settled in and readied ourselves for happy hours…

That evening, we joined two other California caravanners – Larry and Kathy plus Phil and Donna – in a bizarre game called Joker.  It is an Airstream tradition.  It is basically Parcheesi, but playing cards are used in lieu of a spinner or dice, making it even quirkier. Since I despise games of chance, I try to avoid Joker at all costs, but Larry and Kathy had done us many favors, so Lynda volunteered us to play with them…

Boys won. I pulled the winning card.  An enjoyable time was had by all.











2017-08-10 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – More Lobster!

Today we had another day on our own; we spent the day planning the remainder of the trip and enjoyed some quiet time.  We need to rest up, because tonight is: More Lobster!

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Once the caravan ends (in five days) we have about 2 months to get home; we will travel back through Canada, through New Brunswick and Ontario, stopping off to see the 1000 Islands; we will stop at CanAm RV in London, ON, then meet up with the McAnoys and see our Grandchildren on Boblo Island, located between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. After that interlude, we head north, over the top of Lake Huron and Lake Superior, through Thunder Bay, and back into the USA in Minnesota, all by September 1… After that, we’ll go through Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota, checking out all the Frank Lloyd Wright and Laura Ingalls Wilder sites we can manage.

But tonight we have a dinner at St. Ann’s Lobster Galley. This is a very nice restaurant set on a lovely lake.  Once again we enjoyed time eating together; meals like this create opportunities to get to know the other caravanners and enjoy a stress-free time together.

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We had a Drivers Meeting to discuss our last travel day within the caravan; tomorrow we take a ferry from Caribou, NS to Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island…




















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