Ramblings and Dolly

30 Nov.

Well it’s the last day of the month we have clocked up just over 1500miles in this home on wheels and used up the best part of 190 gallons of gas (petrol) at these prices that’s around 200 quid in real money and if we had been going straight there that’s the mileage from our start in New Hampshire to Florida. We have wobbled about a bit – literally and metaphorically (thought I would try at least one big word, thank goodness for spellchecker) and still have 350 miles to go before we cross that Florida border and there is still the state of Georgia to cross. A couple more stopovers before we meet up with Doug again in a site just south of Cape Canaveral in time to witness a space shuttle launch – let’s hope it happens – look out for the pictures, it’s a night launch, oooh.

I am just about feeling at home behind the wheel of my behemoth, although at times I feel rather small compared to some of America’s finest, loudest, smokiest, least aerodynamic vehicles imaginable. There can be a huge compression of air in front of the trucks as they come up alongside and if I haven’t noticed them coming up in the rear view mirror I get a gentle nudge over to warn me of someone on a mission to get from A to B quicker than me. I don’t know what’s worse ‘cos if I do see them coming then I find myself “giving them room” – moving very close to the edge of the road (I can tell it’s too far when Betsy starts flinching as we pass inches from telegraph poles). However as I am more relaxed now I have noticed oncoming vehicles (of all sizes) moving over to their left as I am happy to stand my ground! I am no longer flinching on my side! The major frustration is lack of acceleration, I have had to “floor it” a couple of times when joining major roads from a very short slip. Other drivers generally seem more patient than at home and do tend to leave a larger gap between vehicles (though not always enough for me – a couple of tight squeezes!). I am now out of the “watching the rear view monitor” to check toad is still there every 10 seconds, he seems to have followed us everywhere, no thanks to the state of some of the roads! When we go over a series of potholes the size of the Grand Canyon (not been there yet so I think that’s about the size) It’s all I can do to hold onto the wheel and keep it all straight, I have been lifted out of my seat at times. During these moments it’s down to Betsy to keep a close eye on toad – still there! Another road problem is some of the concrete bridges, built in short sections with poorly aligned joints (construction workers high on aligned joints?) and raised towards the middle of each section, if I hit a series of these at the right speed it sets the bus rocking up and down from front to back – as the front goes up the back goes down in ever increasing ferocity until I get the speed right, it’s like riding a bucking bronco! (I think – not got to Texas yet!) I will write more of this driving and road malarkey another time, we set off again in the morning.

Let me tell you of our final evening at Myrtle Beach. We have been to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, there are four of these around the country, it’s a kind of Wild West show and dinner combined. It all takes place in a huge indoor arena with tiered seating in a horseshoe shape (no pictures I am afraid as cameras not allowed.)  As it’s November they are into their Christmas shows, you  are greeted at the door by a rather young “Mother Christmas” – well a girl in a red velvet dress, white fur trim and a Santa hat and a man in a white tail suit (not sure what character). They usher you in via the gift shop, of course, into the pre show theatre. Here you can get your soft drinks (no alcohol) served in a souvenir Dolly Parton white plastic cowboy boot – not sure where they will go in the RV. We were entertained by the world famous, can’t quite remember his name, juggler – he has been on the J Lenno show! Actually it was a very good act and made sure that everyone was in audience participation mood before moving on into the main arena. It also gave you time to buy drinks, peanuts and popcorn before your meal…

As you walk into the arena there is that lovely horse stable smell – you know a mix of straw, wood shavings and poo! (Gosh I think I may use up all the exclamation marks tonight!) The staff seat everyone like a well oiled machine, bench type seating plates and bowls ready laid out for the meal and jam jars (yes that’s right!) for your drink – a choice of iced tea or Pepsi.

Hey, the show, it was fantastic, anything you could think of on horseback with a slightly Christmas theme. The audience were split each side having an allegiance to their team, green for the North Pole Santa and red for the South Pole Santa – don’t forget to cheer, holler and “stampede”(stamp your feet) for your team. It was all competitive riding and stunts between the North and the South, the horses were ridden at speed and very spectacularly around the arena. There was a nativity scene mid show with the 3 Kings entering on camels there were goats, sheep and even a donkey. There were audience participants in giant horseshoes – throwing toilet seats over a pole set up a few yards away. Racing a course on a reindeer (a reindeer toy head on a stick!) – all good fun as it got neck and neck (so to speak – now running out of brackets!) between the North and South with four flags each (wins) then onto the more bizarre. Remember the Fryburg Fair? Well we had four young children, possibly something like six years old and they chased two chickens down the arena, first to the other end wins. We then had racing piglets – just like greyhound racing but with little pigs, if that wasn’t enough the next round was over hurdles (don’t worry only about a foot high). Then onto the Ostrich races – complete with jockeys! It was a very entertaining evening rounded off with some excellent exhibition riding (on horses of course). Dolly made an “appearance” at the end on a giant video screen (well have you seen the size of Dolly’s…) with a Christmas message as the snow fell in the arena (soap bubbles) During all of this we were served up with soup and home made biscuit, a whole chicken each, corn, jacket potato and a slice of pork all washed down with that Pepsi or iced tea followed by an apple pastry and coffee. Not a fat week then after last night’s all you can eat seafood.

We did sit next to a nice couple who were tobacco farmers (third generation) from South Carolina only a short distance from the place where we went to the tobacco museum.

Think I will finish now as Betsy is falling asleep – driving adventures tomorrow, off to the café now to upload this lot. Some piccies from yesterday as well, some in the “makes me smile album”

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