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If Jena was writing this post, she would tell you that my favorite part of the trip is playing Ticket to Ride and watching musicals at Dollywood. I tolerate those things and do them, because well, happy wife, happy life.

The true purpose for me

The purpose of this RV trip for me, has been and continues to be, to check out places that we could one day call home or be our home base most of the time.

A place with mild weather, that offers eight months (or more, maybe 12 months cause I’ll wear a wet-suit) of lake time, affordable property, proximity to a good airport & services.

A Unicorn’s Haystack

Looking for a unicorn or needle in a haystack, but willing to try.  We have been doing a lot of driving and scoping out of  lake neighborhoods and marinas, or what my wife calls “parking lot tours”.

It’s been good, not always fun, but educational.  Seeing the lay of the land and the cost of the land too.

Get out and go

At some point you need you to enjoy some of the southern attractions and the fact you’re not freezing your tail off.  Above and beyond the Waffle House, fried chicken, and donut shops on every corner.  For Jena that means Dollywood, it was fine, and I would recommend going if you’ve never been, but not my first choice as attractions go.

A man’s tourist attractions

Over the past couple of months, while in North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama I was able to check off a few places on my “tourist” list in no particular order.

We will be heading to Italy in August.

My favorites being Mastercraft and Charlotte

Charlotte Motor Speedway was had an open track day while we were there for Thanksgiving. For $20 you can take your vehicle out on the track and run three laps.

My cousin-in-law, Cole was able to hook us up with an way sweeter ride than our pickup. Roger, Cole’s friend, gave us rides in a late model custom Chevy Camaro SS.  The car was done as Dale Earnhardt IROC tribute car with several custom touches and 600ish horsepower.  A serious go fast car.  He opened it up in the corners to give you a feel of the G forces because of the track banking.  Really impressive at 115.  I’ll just say that.  A lot of fun and a great racing venue.

Mastercraft

Mastercraft.  Since I was a kid, growing up on the lake water skiing, I’ve wanted one.  One of the premier tow boats in the industry, they’ve been around for a long time and make a killer ski boat.  They are built in Vonore, TN just outside of Knoxville.

During our stay in eastern Tennessee I had to go and take the plant tour.  I made an appointment to go and it was worth it.  We spent 2 hours walking through their facilities.  At the beginning of the tour we saw the molds of various models being taped and painted.  A process that is backwards from the norm as the boat is built from the outside in.

From there laying down fiberglass and resin to build the hull and the framework/backbone of the boat.  The bottom was made with one mold, the top with another.  Later they are put together like a large, expensive sandwich.

After lots of wiring, electronics, engine and drive-train components are installed of course.  All their upholstery is made in house, with the best vinyl and any color under the sun.

Once completely assembled, each boat is tested for some 90 minutes on the Little Tennessee River. Their facility is right on the water, docks, lifts, the whole deal right there.  Drop them in, run them, pull them out (on trailers that they also custom build to fit each boat) and on to the next one.  A very impressive set up, start to finish.  Hand built, each one, 10-15 boats a day. In Tennessee.  Very cool.

Skiers Choice

Skiers Choice, just down the road from Mastercraft in Maryville, TN make both Supra and Moomba boats.  Being our last boat was a Moomba, I wanted to take their tour as well.  The tour was about an hour as their facility is a bit smaller.  They make both boats side by side, each boat having their own hull designs.

The boats start out about the same, but the Supra being the flagship brand, it ends up with a lot more bells and whistles on it.  Both boats get water tested about 15 minutes down the road from the plant.  They too make a heck of a product and have a bunch of awards to prove it.

International Motorsports Hall of Fame

The International Motorsports Hall of Fame is next door to Talladega Superspeedway.  The Hall of Fame offers a museum ticket/track tour combo which we took.  We started then by hopping a small tour bus and heading over to the track.  The track is absolutely massive.  Its built on a 2000 acre sight.  Seating for days. RV sites, garages, grandstands as far as the eye can see.  The track is over 2.5 miles long and is banked steeper (Up to 33 degrees) than anywhere else in the sport of NASCAR.

Our tour guide ran through the 50 year history of the track, which is vast and unique to this venue.

After our spin around the track, we went back to the museum and we able to take the self guided tour through its many buildings.  The thing of note with this museum is it doesn’t just feature exhibits of NASCAR, but includes items of several types of racing.  They have other car types, motor bikes and even a giant open water race boat on display.

We spent close to 2 hours going through the various exhibits, and could easily have spent more time there with all there was to see.  If you find yourself rolling through Alabama like we were, definitely worth stopping.

The Leary enjoyed it all too

Jena won’t admit it, but I know she had a good time at these venues as well.  Charlotte Motor Speedway because we were able to get together with some of her family while we were at the track. The other venues, just because of their size and expanding her horizons a bit.  The smell of fresh fiberglass however was a bit overwhelming at the boat companies and about knocked the socks off of both of our horizons.  I hope whatever “guy” places I can drag her too in the future are as fun, interesting, and ‘merica as this bunch.