Saturday, October 24, 2009


Note: Today’s photos are of the craziest place we’ve ever taken Scoopy – a hayfield behind a tobacco barn in the backwoods of Kentucky – inspired by a visit to our new friends, Ellen and Alex.  Hover your cursor for a caption on each.

Looking back through the trees, trimmed to fit Scoopy... almost!Just before we came to Napa, we received an email from a reader with a very specific and unusual question: “One thing I haven't been able to track down on the internet is the interior height of the 2001-2003 Travel Supremes. Do you happen to know the height of yours?

I DIDN’T know, but of course it was easy to measure it, so I sent off the answer.  That resulted in a flurry of emails between us and Ellen and Alex, two Napa-area residents who are in the throes of finding the right RV for their upcoming full-timing life.  When we arrived in Napa, we invited them over to see Scoopy, and spent a fun afternoon talking RV talk last Tuesday.

That led to an invitation to visit them at their home in the hills between the Napa and Sonoma Valleys for lunch and a hike.  Today was the day – and it was really something special.  

Alex sent very specific directions that included phrases like “one lane bridge” and “go slow here” or “bumpy, keep to the right”.  He included an occasional aside: “Would a motorhome fit through here?” or “Could we get a motorhome past this?”  Hmmmm.  With his written directions and our new GPS, we set off.

We made a quick stop at the Napa Farmer’s Market for smoked olive oil, something I haven’t seen elsewhere and really like to have around (ever since we were introduced to it during our last stay in Napa a few months ago).  After that, we followed the orders of our GPS, heading north to the Oakville Grade and up into the hills, passing vineyards left and right. 

Scoopy in place near the tobacco barn, miles from a paved road, on freshly cut hay. Soon the road became more winding, and more narrow.  We crossed a one lane bridge, climbed, descended, climbed again.  Where part of the outside lane had slide into the streambed, the road became single-lane as we passed the missing pavement.  Climbing, winding, descending, with big trees arching over the road – Alex’s question of “could a motorhome do this” was often in our conversation.

“Turn right” said the GPS… then, “navigate off-road”.   We missed the driveway on our first pass, because Odel didn’t believe it was really a road.  Finally, though, we pulled up in front of Ellen’s and Alex’s house, high above Dry Creek Valley, shaded by giant oaks.  Their friendly greeting was followed by a look around their house… then they said they had a hike for us, and they weren’t kidding!  Up, up, up we went to the top of the ridge. 

On one side, we had a view into the Napa Valley and the endless ridges beyond.  On the other, the Sonoma Valley and a long, long view all the way to the tiny towers of the Golden Gate Bridge poking out of a puddle of gray fog.  We, on the other hand, were in warm sunshine, on top of the world… blue sky, a fantastic view, and excellent company and conversation.

The tobacco barn in the hayfield.  We came through the almost invisible road on the left.Our hike was followed by lunch al fresco, in the shade of an oak, listening to the acorns plop onto the ground… and of course more talk of rigs, full-timing, and everyone’s favorite towns and campgrounds.  So relaxed was I on this delightful afternoon that I didn’t even take pictures! 

Our discussion of whether or not it would be wise to bring a big rig to their property (answer: not wise) got me thinking about some of the places we’ve taken Scoopy – the craziest being into the back, back, backwoods of Kentucky during our first year.  A girlfriend of mine had moved “back to the land”, and we went to visit.  As I wrote of today’s adventure, I dug back through my photos to relive that experience – it was far and away Scoopy’s greatest off-road adventure, and definitely NOT WISE.

Ellen and Alex, thanks for a wonderful afternoon.  We’ll see you on the road one day!


  1. Those kinds of backroads can result in some mighty fine pinstriping on the sides of the coach. A true mark of many a fine off road boondocker. We wear our stripes with great pride:))

  2. Loved those pictures of the old barn and Scoopy! Nice story too.

  3. Al, the big tree on the right hand side in the top photo had a big, hidden "knot" in the roots. As we tried to wiggle past, it put a major crease in the center bay door, tearing out the latch and lock. Until we were able to get it repaired, we held the door closed with a bicycle "U" lock. Many a neighboring camper wondered how we managed to damage just the center bay door... we kinda' wondered that ourselves!

    When we awoke the next morning, two overall-clad farmers were standing in the field, looking at Scoopy like she was a spaceship (which she was, in that setting). When we went outside to explain why we were there (they were sharecroppers, who grew the hay and tobacco), their first question was "how did you get that thing in here?" - spoken in a dialect we had to translate as best we could. It was the first encounter of a very memorable week. :)

  4. Hey Laurie - hope all is well, and I just wanted to say I'm enjoying your blog. I've been talking with Renee for a couple of years about taking a summerlong vacation along the northern tier of the U.S. in a rented RV (she would say it was more like annoying her with it, but I persevere), so hopefully I can find some nuggets to use in the discussion. Good stuff. We're fine.