Friday, October 31, 2014

Sunset Over the Mountains


Blairsville, GA ( high 55, low 28)  30% chance of snow


We had such beautiful weather last week. The skies were blue, temperatures in the upper 60’s and no wind.   That has changed abruptly, and we now have a chance of snow, tonight and tomorrow.  We’d like to see some snow, so that’s okay with us.

We  planned on leaving this Sunday, but not surprisingly, we just can’t seem to bring ourselves to drag ourselves away.  We love it here, and the color is still pretty nice.  We’re not as brave as Merikay and Craig, and prefer to drive through Atlanta on a Sunday, but I guess that won’t happen.

The other evening, we drove over to Brasstown Bald mountain to watch the sunset.  We’ve taken a lot of sunset pictures over the ocean, so we decided it was time to get some from the top of the mountain.

We weren’t the only ones there.


We chose to stay in the parking lot, instead of walking up the .6 mile paved trail, which goes straight up the mountain.  We had done it earlier in the day, and it was a tough one.  I think it was more due to lack of oxygen, but I could never seem to catch my breath.  They have a bus that takes you up, but they stop running at 5pm.  The pictures would have been much better, but it would have been a cold and dark hike back down after sunset.



We stood around and waited for the sun to go down.  It was getting pretty chilly.

Brasstown Bald sunset

Brasstown Bald sunset

The interesting cloud formations made for some nice photos.

Brasstown Bald sunset



Brasstown Bald sunset





It’s funny how the different light brought such different colors.


Soon, our sunsets will look more like this.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We’re Back in Business


Blairsville, Ga (high 65, low 38) rain


We have rain today and some colder weather coming, so I guess our period of perfect weather has ended. The past few days were so nice, that it was making it very hard to want to leave.    We may leave on Sunday, but we may not.  That’s the nice thing about having your own lot, I guess.

If you didn’t read the last post, we awoke to no DC power the other morning.  We had no air conditioning, heat, water heater, water pump, or lights.  It was a problem with our 12v system.  Our first thought was that the battery cut off switch had accidently gotten turned off, again. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the problem this time.

Fortunately, we got the problem resolved, and I wanted to document it in case it happened to someone else.

I had gone online to a Monaco forum and was pretty certain our problem was with the battery cut off switch which is also known as the salesman switch.  Ours switch is inside by the door, but it’s wired to a solenoid, which in our case was in the rear passenger bay, near the batteries.   Al tested the voltage on the solenoid, and found it good on one side and bad on the other, so we were pretty sure that was the problem. 

Chuck, one of the people on the Monaco forum, told us how to re-wire the solenoid that would bypass it.  He said most of the other Monaco owners had already done this, because it’s only a matter of time until the solenoid fails.

We saw no good reason to have this switch, and would be happy to bypass it, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do  it ourselves.  

The only thing I know about electricity, is how to turn it off and on.  Al knows some, but isn’t real comfortable with this type of thing.  We were afraid we would screw something up and do some major damage to the coach.  

Our local mobile Rv mechanic is getting ready to head south for the winter, so we weren’t sure if he’d be able to come out or not.

Fortunately, he was able to fit us into his schedule.  By the time he got here, we had located the solenoid, so we saved him time having figure out where it was located. Each coach is different.  He tested the solenoid, and also came to the conclusion that it was bad. He rewired it to bypass the solenoid.  It took him all of 20 seconds, I think.  :)

As it turned out, even I could have done the bypass, but that’s okay.  He only charged us for the service call, and we knew it was done right and we weren’t going to blow up as we slept!

I am posting before and after pictures in case this happens to someone else.

This is the bay where the cut off solenoid is located. The solenoid is on the bottom row, to the right of the square box on the left.

battery cut off area on right rear side of Motorhome

Here is a close up of the solenoid as it was wired originally.

close up of where we thing selonoid is located?

Here is the bypass.  The red cable that was on the top was moved to the bottom post.  That’s all you need to do to bypass the switch.  Easy peasy.



We took a ride up to the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday. The fall color was faded, but it was still beautiful.  I’ll post some pics soon.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Loss of 12 v Power


 Blairsville, GA  (high 78, low 48)

We awoke yesterday  morning to no 12 volt power.  We have no air conditioning, no heat, no hot water, no lights, and no fans.   You don’t realize how important 12v power is until you lose it.

The electric outlets still work, the TV works, and thankfully the outlet for the coffee pot works.  The refrigerator also still works, so we can have both cocktails,and coffee in in the am.   :)

Al has checked the batteries, connections, and everything else we can think of.   The battery cut-off/salesman switch has not been accidently disconnected.

The inverter seems to be running as normal. 

I went online to a Monaco Coach forum and got some really good suggestions.  We think the solenoid for the battery cut-off switch has failed.  Apparently, this is a very common issue and many people just bypassed the solenoid without replacing it.  We don’t use it anyway.  

A very nice man in Mississippi by the name of Chuck had me send him pictures, and he told us exactly how to bypass the solenoid.  He thinks that is our problem after having Al do a few tests.  We are reluctant to mess with it ourselves, because we are afraid of messing up something else, or blowing up the coach.

We called our mobile RV tech yesterday morning and left a message.  We decided if he could come, we would let him repair the problem.  If he couldn’t, we would consider plan B.   Fortunately, he can make it today, despite the fact that he’s also getting ready to head south for the winter in a few days.  Thank goodness.   Now, if it’s just as simple as we think/hope it is.

Wish us luck.  It seems every time we are getting ready to leave, something happens.   I guess it’s par for the course in Rv living.

Merikay and Craig left this morning, with Merikay driving.  They should be getting close to Atlanta by now, where they’re stopping at a Trader Joe’s.   Brave  folks, they are! 

Bye, Merikay and Craig!  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee


Blairsville, Ga  (high 70, low 40)


We’ve had frost two mornings this past week, but it looks like it’s going to warm up a little the next week.  The weather has been perfect.  Blue skies, and cool crisp air.  This is the perfect time of year here in the mountains.  Even though we’ve been here since early July, we are NOT anxious to leave next week.

We’ve been busy trying to find the fall foliage.   There are some areas that have been pretty, but for the most part the color is not spectacular this year.  We saw some nice color almost 2 weeks ago at Brasstown Bald (the tallest peak in GA) and the Cherohala Skyway, but it’s very spotty.

A few days ago we took a drive to Chattanooga to see Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the birthplace of a very special boy.

We drove to Chattanooga via hwy 64, hoping for some fall color.  Unfortunately, it looked like it had already peaked.

It was a pretty drive though. 


It was a three state day.


Highway 64 in Tennessee, runs alongside the Ocoee River, which is the home of the 1996 summer Olympic kayaking events. 

We had intended on going back there this week-end for the water release, but due to lack of fall color, we scrapped that plan.

At one point, there were some huge rocks that had fallen down into embankment.   I thought of this later in the day when we were 1100 feet underneath these type of rocks.





We arrived in Chattanooga and followed the signs to Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls.

The caves at Ruby Falls had been used by native Americans and both Union and Confederate soldiers who set up hospitals inside.  There was a cave opening in the side of the mountain, but in  1905, the original cave entrance was sealed off when the Southern Railway completed a tunnel through the base of the mountain.

In 1923, cave enthusiast, Leo Lambert decided to attempt to reopen the cave by drilling an elevator shaft straight down 420 feet through solid rock, and into the base of the mountain.

In 1928, while drilling the shaft, workers felt a gush of air at 260 feet.  Leo Lambert and a small crew crawled down into an 18 inch shaft and explored the cave.  He was gone for 17 hours.  When he came back, he had wonderful stories of the wonders of the cave, including the amazing underground waterfall.

On his next trip into the cave, he took his wife Ruby who crawled on her belly in a 18 inch opening, in a dress!   Leo named the waterfall after his wife.

In 1975, the secondary exit from the falls to the base of the mountain was cut.  On our way out, going up the elevator, it occurred to me that there may only be one way in and one way out.  What would happen if there was a power outage, or the elevator quit.   I was glad when our guide told us there was a back up exit.     Maybe I should have thought of that going in.

That elevator shaft took us straight down into the solid rock mountain, but now you can only go down 260 feet because OSHA stopped allowing visitors to the lower caves that are some 400 feet down.  

Our cave tour was guided, and as usual, they went way too fast for me.  We took our spot at the end of the group, so that we could snap pictures and not hold up everyone else.

We were constantly getting left behind but fortunately there were signs telling you where to go. 

There were well placed lights and with the right camera settings, you could get pictures without using your flash.   I wasn’t happy with my pictures.  Some of it was operator error, and some of it was lack of time to even focus.  I hate rushed cave tours.

Some areas were wide and high.

Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls


Ruby Falls

There were beautiful formations.

Ruby Falls

Some resembling animals.

Ruby Falls




This was a reflecting pool.  If the guide would have just slowed down a little, I could have gotten a much better photo.

mirror pool

Ruby Falls


The 145 foot waterfall is at the end of a large chamber. 

At this point, we were 1106 feet below the surface!

There are automatic lights that go on for a few minutes, changing colors the entire time.   I would have liked to have seen it with natural lighting like in the next picture that I borrowed.




The guide mentioned something about going behind the falls, but when we got there, that area was roped off.




We thoroughly enjoyed Ruby Falls, but would have enjoyed a more leisurely tour more.  There were so many people touring the cave, so I know they have to get you in and out quickly. 

Afterwards, we drove up the road to Rock City, and then to a special place we had last visited many years ago.

I’ll post about those later as this blog is already too long.

see Rock city

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Martinis, Contrails, Waterfalls, and Seizures


Blairsville, Georgia (high 65, low 38)


We’ve had a busy few days.  We had friends from Tampa visiting over the week-end.  They are looking for property, and may have found a nice  rv site in nearby Murphy, North Carolina.  

They spent the day with the Realtor, but afterwards, we met them at Shoe Booties Restaurant/bar for drinks.  Stephanie and I decided to try  one of their specialty martinis.   They were delicious, and I think when we get back to Florida, I’ll be going to the liquor store to get the ingredients to make my own.  Liquor stores are few and far between around here.  :)

While Stephanie and Barry were with the Realtor, we took a drive over to the Ocoee River, to the whitewater center.  This is where the 1996 rafting events were held in the summer Olympics.  I’ve posted about it before, so I’ll only post a few pictures.

The water is controlled by a dam, and unless there is a water release, it’s mostly rocks and very little water.  When there is a water release, these are large rapids, and people are white water rafting all along this river.


We see this cute little snake.


They are having a water release next week-end, so we may go back for that, although it will be at a slightly different location.

We were looking for fall color, but it’s still too early in this area, I guess.



On another one of our sightseeing trips, we headed to Moccasin Creek State Park and found the trout farm next door.

They raise and release trout in the mountain streams.

trout farm

There were a LOT of trout.

trout farm

We drove around Lake Burton and Lake Rabun.  There are some beautiful houses both on and off the water.

Lake Burton

They are beautiful lakes.

Lake Burton


Last year, we hiked to nearby Angel and Panther falls. We decided to wait until fall to go back this year. Unfortunately, even with the heavy rain we had a few days ago, the waterfalls were kind of puny this time of year.  I guess the best time to see these falls is during the summer when more water if flowing.

Al thought this might be a nice cave for bears.


It was a fun 2 mile hike.   It started out easy, but there were some more challenging areas with some fairly steep climbs.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the hike, check out last years post HERE

You can compare this years pictures to last years pictures to see the difference in the waterfalls.  

There are three main waterfalls along the one mile path, with smaller waterfalls also.

First main waterfall.


This is the second waterfall.  I can’t remember if this is Angel or Panther falls.


I love the stair like rock formations.


I guess I didn’t take a picture of waterfall number 3.  It just wasn’t too impressive this year.

The leaves sure are falling.



Isn’t this rock pretty?  It looks like 6 different rocks, but they were all one piece.



Along  our travels, we came across some nice cabins. If you ever come up to this area without a RV, here are some very nice cabins for rent.   They are near Hiawassee, GA.   Nice river, and some big trout in the stream



Although the fall color was minimal, it is always pretty in this area.


Blue skies and jet contrails.



We noticed a lot of jet contrails in the sky.  Then we noticed this gold colored spot in they sky.   You can see it on the right top of the next photo.


At first, I thought it was the sun behind the clouds, but then we noticed the sun was to the left of the gold patch. 


We wondered if it was from one of the jets, but the gold spot didn’t dissipate or change like the contrails.



The contrails  made the clear blue sky look white. The sun was blinding at times but the gold spot was always there.


At one point there were two of them, one on both sides of the sun.




I don’t know exactly what we were seeing, but the gold spot seemed to stay in the same area and didn’t seem to change.  We watched it for at least 20 minutes while we were heading in that direction.  

The sun was starting to set and we still had a long way to go before we got home.  We try not to drive at night in these mountains.



Monday morning, we were awakened by the sound of a cat having a seizure.  Big Noogie ended up having three seizures that morning.

We took him to the vet and had all sorts of tests done.  Nothing was conclusive as to the cause of the seizures, but he was sent home with antibiotics for for a bad tooth, and high blood pressure pills.  I never knew animals could have high blood pressure, or that the veterinarians could check their pressure.  Evidently, they have a little cuff, just like they use on humans.  Their BP is supposed to be the same as ours.   Who knew.

So far, no more seizures, but we really don’t know the cause, so one could occur at any time.  He’s about 16 years old, so we know he’s on borrowed time. 

We stayed  home on Tuesday to keep an eye on Noogie.  He seems okay and hasn’t had any more seizures.

We made a road trip yesterday and had a fun day.  More on that later.