Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Very Special Day In Columbus

Well, we are finally in the Midwest for the Summer.  After our week in Charleston, we took three days to move up to Columbus.  Gary still is getting used to pulling the trailer.  Trucks as they pass us seem to move us around more than with the much heavier motor home.  And I can see that he has to keep both hands on the wheel at all times.  Our mileage guideline of about 250 max miles per day still seems right.

The first night we camped very near the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  We didn’t go much beyond visiting a couple breweries.  The next night was Beckley, West Virginia, just a night after the rains that created the hundred year flood in some areas.  The flooding did not affect our travels.

And on the third travel day we arrived in Columbus where we will spend the next couple weeks camped near our son, daughter in law, and nearly two- year-old grandson – all the same ones we were with in Charleston.

After we set up on Saturday, the crew came by on Sunday for some swimming, petting the Alley cat (young Victor really hadn’t played with a kitty), and a weenie roast meal.




We last were here just about 2 months ago.  At that time, Victor wasn’t yet saying too much of anything – just some occasional words.  But now he is up to some serious talking.  He knows his colors, the names of all his toys, counting to ten, etc.  But Gary probably has been trying to get him to say “Grandpa” for at least a year.   Well, guess what?  Sure enough Gary said, “say Grandpa, Victor”.  And sure enough, out came that coveted word, “Grandpa”.  And then he said it several more times too.


And as they all were leaving, I was over by the truck.  Andy said, “Victor, say bye to Grandma”.  I didn’t hear it directly, but they called me closer to the truck as they told me he has said, “Grandma”.  We were both pretty chuffed.  It is moments like these for which we are here for the Summer in our travel trailer.

(Click on any of the images to make them larger.)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Father's Week in Charleston, SC

Why limit the celebration of fathers to a day? My son through work won a trip to an ocean side resort in Charleston. He suggested we time our trip north in the travel trailer to coincide with his trip and see my grandson Victor's first visit to the ocean. So, of course, that's where we went. How could a father's week be any better than that?  And have we ever been known to turn down the beach?


We found a nearby KOA campground in Mt Pleasant, SC. Being a KOA in the shadow of a major city, it was over $50 a night even on a weekly rate, but it was by far the closest campground to the resort.


We spent most of our time over at the resort both at the beach and the pool. Our grandson Victor is nearing two years old. The ocean was a little intimidating to him. And he fell face first into a little tidal pool so his beach time was somewhat tentative. But he picked many a shell for his Mommy, made some sand castles, and did have some great moments.



He really liked the pool and his float. He is good at making Grandpa chase the balls that he throws.



We really didn't see much of Charleston this trip but we each have been there at least two times before. But we did make at least one trip over the beautiful US 17 Bridge across the Cooper river into the city.


(Click on any of the pictures to make them larger.)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Heading North–Savannah and Tybee Island

We are on our way north for the summer. The house has been "summerized". We have lined up people that will check on our house from time to time and collect our mail. The rig as shown below is as we were just about to head out of the RV park. The bikes are on the top of the Expedition and everything is loaded in the truck and trailer. (Click on any picture to make it larger.)


We got just a bit of a slower departure that we might have otherwise planned (it really was becoming hot and humid in Florida), but we have plans to meet some people in Charleston in mid June that take precedence over all over planning. We will write more about that later.

Our first stop has been Savannah. We love Savannah. This was our third stop there in the past 5 years. This time we stayed in a different place. With the motor home we had stayed at a non-descript RV park a bit across the river in South Carolina. This time we stayed at a State Park south east of Savannah in the "low country". And why is it the low country? Well across the coastal regions of northern Georgia and southern South Carolina there are tidal marsh lands that often extend many miles inland from the ocean. Our State Park campground was on Skidaway Island surrounded by tidal marshes. Once again, we are loving these gorgeous state parks that we likely would have passed up in the motor home.20160613_105756


Savannah was just as charming a city as it was before. All the old giant southern oaks draped in moss across the streets around the historic district are a very unique feature of the city. We didn't take any new pictures. Here is a link to our earlier album if you want to see the city.


But we did make one new stop in the Savannah Island -- at Tybee Island. Although Savannah is a very busy seaport, it is not located at the ocean. The ships steam the Savannah River into the city. The beach city some miles due east of the city of Savannah is Tybee Island -- again in the midst of tidal marshes. This is Savannah's beach and with all those surrounding marshes is a great place for shellfish of all kinds. We had read that the best place for something called a "low country boil" was out on Tybee Island. So off we headed in pursuit of another of our "local delicacies". The Crab Shack did not disappoint. Unfortunately our picture taker pretty much failed us with his shot of the dinner, you still can get the gist that it is a boiled dinner of peel and eat shrimp, smoked sausage, corn on the cob, and redskins (no, we are not being politically incorrect). Note that there is a big hole the table behind the plate. Underneath that hole is a trash can that allows you just to toss your shells and other mess as you go. We greatly enjoyed our local delicacy.


The next stop after Savannah is Charleston. And then we will be going on to Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and sometime returning back to Florida.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Florida’s Coast to Coast Bike Trail

When we first wintered in Titusville, Florida, we soon noticed that there was an abandoned railway across the highway from the RV park.  The rails were gone and it was overgrown being reclaimed by the Florida “jungle”.

We have ridden some great bike trails from Acadia National Park in Maine to the Rogue River Valley in Oregon.  So whenever we see an abandoned railway, we always longingly wish “bike trail”, but knowing that all the practical issues that surround “rails to trails” will kick in and it likely never will happen.

So it has been a real shocker four and a half years later that the old railway across the highway from our RV park is indeed becoming a bike trail.  And this is not just some ordinary bike trail.  It will be a part of a connected series of trails that will carry riders 275 miles from the beach of the Atlantic Ocean here in Titusville to the sands of the Gulf of Mexico in St Petersburg.  (Click on the map or pictures for larger views.)


This project truly seems likely to happen.  The State of Florida has allocated $50 million over 5 years to its design and development.  It is intended that the coast to coast trail will be yet another drawing for Florida tourism.  Check out the bicycle bridge that already has been built over a busy street in Titusville and the sections about ready to be paved across the highway from us.



Sunday, June 12, 2016

St Augustine

We ventured just a little farther and just a little longer for the second shake-down cruise of our new rig.  We had been intending to get to St Augustine for a few years.  It was a great trip!
With a shorter RV, we now are able to get into campgrounds that would have been more difficult with the motor home.  And this time we truly lucked out.  We never have been big on camping reservations so of course we headed north to St Augustine without one.  We had talked with a couple places.  The State Park said they had a very few sites for drive-up customers.  And another private park said they would have plenty of space so we knew we could camp somewhere.
When we arrived at Anastasia State Park, I went in to check what they might have.  At first, they said they didn’t have anything, but then a Ranger walked in and said someone had just checked out of one of the non-reservable sites.  So what did we get?
We scored a beautiful site in an old growth Atlantic forest with Oaks, Cedars and Pines at the top of the green canopy with palms and shrubs in the lower regions.  And even better, the campsite was an ADA site meaning it was paved instead of pack sand and had a paved path to the bath house as well.
And what else was at this State Park beyond the ocean forest?  How about a few miles of Atlantic beach as well.  Ahhhhhhhh.
And that park was just a few short miles from the historic district of St Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States.  Ponce de Leon explored here in the early 1500’s in search of the fountain of youth.  He claimed “Florida” for the Spanish crown.
In addition to the Spanish influence on St Augustine, there is also very much the Flagler influence of Henry Flagler who developed the Florida East Coast Rail System and built many a fine hotel for rich northerners to travel to on his railways. 
We tested out the new roof-top bike racks on this trip as well as a larger TV Gary said we just had to have.  On the way back, we even were able to get a weigh station on the interstate to give us a wheel by wheel weighing of the trailer and we learned we need to distribute our stuff just a little differently to equalize the load on each wheel.  It is getting just about time to be heading north!
Click on any of the pictures to see a larger version,

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Jetty Park, Cape Canaveral, Florida

It was overdue that we actually get out and camp in our new trailer. After all we purchased the trailer in February and it took us until May to take it to an RV park.


This was our first shake down trip in anticipation of our Summer of traveling with it. We chose to go not too far; in fact, we stayed in our home county. But we did get to pull the trailer at speeds on the interstate and we wound up at a great RV park -- Jetty Park at Port Canaveral in Cape Canaveral, Florida.


So the jetty at Port Canaveral helps to define a channel for all ships that sail into the port. And just what is Port Canaveral?   It is one of the largest passenger cruise ports in the world.  In 2015, over 4 million people sailed from this port. Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean are among the cruise lines that operate out of Port Canaveral. As if Orlando isn't enough of a tourist destination, the cruise lines have tapped into the mass of visitors who pass through this part of Florida.

Jetty Park is right on the Atlantic. In fact our campsite was all of about a hundred yards to the ocean. And there is a restaurant/entertainment center in the port area where we dined a couple times and once watched as a cruise ship was sailing out right outside our restaurant view.


And there is also a casino cruise line -- Victory that sails twice a day out of Port Canaveral and this is what jogged our memory of the RV park there. We went on the casino "cruise"; it sails out 3 miles into international waters, floats for a few hours, and then cruises back in. After our casino cruise, we toured the RV park and went there with the trailer the next week.



The shake down trip went well. We determined some modifications we want to make, but all in all it suggested we will be ready to travel soon.