North Carolina

21st October - 3rd November 2011

We couldn't head from Tennessee to Florida without visiting with our buddies Chris and Vivian in North Carolina. They were away when we called, so this gave us the chance to stop in at one of our other favourite spots nearby, Cherokee. Here Phil had the chance to ask the advice of Joe at River's Edge Outfitters, on how best to repair the waders he'd bought there, which had sprung a leak.

Joe inspected the waders, declared them defective and after consulting with the manufacturer, it was decided they were to be replaced free-of-charge. In the meantime River's Edge kindly lent Phil waders until the new ones arrived.

In Cherokee we spent a couple of peaceful days of fishing and walking in the neighbouring Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the autumn colours were in their full glory.

Great Smoky Mountains

View from the New Deck.

By lunchtime on Monday, after a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville, we were pulling up on our friends driveway in Little Switzerland. We were excited to get to see the new deck they'd built over the summer but of course, far more excited to see our friends after 18 months.

The deck was stunning, making the most of the beautiful views of the mountains. The kitchen project, on which we'd worked four years earlier, was however still not completed. The ceiling was still missing and we decided its completion was to be our mission during our stay. After all, it shouldn't be difficult, it was to be suspended ceiling, so all we needed to do was put up the framework and slot the tiles into place. Easy, unless the wooden house is over 100 years old and none of the walls or floors are straight!

Does it look straight now?

Would we line up the ceiling with the sloping floor, chose the wall beams as the starting point, or try to actually make it level? We also had to take into account the major bowing in some of the walls surfaces. Much debate followed but finally work began!

Putting up the supports around the edge of the room was challenging, often there was nothing behind the plasterboard to hold up the framework and finding the supporting studs became the new party game.

More debate began as we started to work out how to fit the crosspieces. Once we got to insertion of the tiles work went much faster, until we came to the edges where we had to work out how to cut the metal tiles. A little bit of practice and many sparks later, a method of cutting them on the bench saw in the basement was devised.

Only a couple of days later Vivian finally had her new ceiling and was delighted!

Finally - the last tile!

We were lucky to be in Little Switzerland for the annual Halloween party at the Inn. The grown-ups got to play dress up! Halloween in our childhood used to be an occasion to put a sheet over your head, pretend you were a ghost and bob for apples in a cold bucket of water (not an easy task with a sheet over your head!). In America nowadays, it was a very serious business and the prizes for best costumes at the party amounted to $500! We had no aspirations of winning the prize but made a valiant effort at dressing up. Vivian became a scary witch, Christine a vampire, Phil a convincing Indiana Jones and Chris was a very fetching Penguin!

Chris and Vivian's friend Bobby needed some help with his costume, a Bunny costume. Somehow his costume went on backwards and he declared his costume instead to be Randy the Rabbit!

The party was great fun, the food delicious and many of the costumes stunning. Imaginative entries included Tippy Hedren from the film "The Birds" complete with shredded twin-set and scary birds, several mad hatters, draculas and a prize winning "Scary Cat Woman" (man dressed as frumpy middle aged lady covered in cats).

Indiana, Vampira and Happy Feet!

Phil adjusts Randy the Rabbits costume (don't ask!)

Our timely visit to North Carolina coincided with a visit by Harry and Jane to their cabin in the area. Finally we managed to get all our friends together first for lunch in Little Switzerland and again for lunch at Harry and Jane's beautiful, remote wood cabin.

The time to leave to head to Florida for our flight home was fast approaching but we still had one more session of partying. Phil's birthday was upon us and it was decided that while he was fishing in Spruce Pine, we'd prepare a Mexican Fiesta of fajitas for dinner, as the birthday boy had requested. Christine got to work on the preparations, Vivian decorating and making a surprise birthday cake. One small problem, somebody had eaten the eggs required in the recipe and the birthday boy had taken the car to go fishing. The only solution was to call up the birthday boy and ask him to pick up a dozen eggs on the way home. His question, "I thought we were having fajitas, why do we need eggs?" left unanswered, somehow the cake got quickly baked on his return without Phil noticing. There was a small problem with the icing on the still hot cake though, making it a unique creation.

Viv, Chris, Harry and Jane got to meet!

Happy Birthday Senor!

Looks like Doctor's handwriting!

Party over, it was time to hit the road. After a short morning fishing trip, we headed south on route 441 through the backwoods of Northern Georgia. We headed for a camp ground near Macon, arriving just before dark to find it closed and padlocked for maintenance. We were tired, it was dinner time and we were in the middle of nowhere, we decided to take the chance and just park up in the lay-by near the entrance to the closed forest camp ground.

A few minutes later a vehicle approached, the camp ground host, who insisted we couldn't stay parked at the side of the road, we feared he was about to move us on. Instead he opened the gate and let us in to the camp ground for the night!

One more stop at the large Bass Pro shop in Macon and we headed to Green Cove Springs in Florida, to check on our beloved boat, Anju before flying back to the UK. Since February, Harvey had covered over 15,300 miles!

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