Saturday, October 12, 2013

11 October 2013

Off and on rain, sometimes heavy, during the night. The weather radio forecast more rain and local flooding.

After a good breakfast in the restaurant, we headed out about 9:30. We ran in occasional rain all through what was left of Pennsylvania, then Maryland and West Virginia. Interstate 81 crosses those two states where they are very narrow. It took a little less than 40 minutes to go from Pennsylvania to Virginia.

Between Winchester and Harrisonburg we ran into heavy rain and fog, giving us some concern about the conditions we might meet on Afton Mountain. However, about Harrisonburg the weather cleared and we occasionally ran on dry pavement. The sky remained overcast and we could see that the mountain tops were in the clouds.

As it turned out, everything was clear when we crossed the Blue Ridge at Afton Mountain. The farther south we drove, the better the conditions became (though the clouds never cleared). We got home about 4:00.

The statistics: We were gone eight days
                       We drove a total of 1,861 miles

All told the trip, which actually consisted of just the Vermont portion of what was originally planned, was a great success --- even including the pump problems. Now we can look forward to the Eastern Shore part that we postponed.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

10 October 2013

No pictures today. It is strictly a travel day and has heavy overcast. Eventually, it turned to off-and-on rain. We stopped at Target to pick up some supplies (which we may not need), and then jumped right on the interstate.

We are basically following the blue line; that is retracing our route north, which is shown on the GPS as a blue line. Seeing all the same stuff, but in reverse order.

Stopped for sandwiches and chips at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center, where Jean walked YumYum and Gene got a new map. Exciting stuff. Didn't know how far we would get today, but it turned out to be less than we had hoped. From about Harrisburg south we ran into very heavy, stop-and-go traffic. For about 50 miles we averaged 10-15 MPH. Finally dragged in to the Cracker Barrel in Carlyle about 6:10.

Ended up in a nice, level parking spot in a corner behind the restaurant. We had dinner in the Roadtrek, we will have breakfast in the restaurant.  Maybe home tomorrow if the traffic gods smile.

9 October 2013 --- Leif Ericksson Day

The day dawned foggy and cold, but the fog soon burned off and the day became pleasant. After breakfast in the van, we went down to the farm store and bought our maple syrup for the year as well as a couple of other things.

About 11:45 we headed out and went to the Plainfield Co-op (as per Amanda's advice). We needed to get some dog food for YumYum since the container we used didn't hold enough. The Co-op is a true country store in a old building with uneven floors. It is not very big, but contains an amazing variety of stuff, much of it found only in specialty stores. There are a lot of items sold in bulk (bring your own containers) and only a few examples of most packaged things. Besides the dog food, we got cheeses, bread, and some home-made cinnamon buns for breakfast.

Then back to Montpelier for lunch. We found on-street parking right downtown, and had a delicious lunch at the Skinny Pancake, a place that specializes in crepes. We are sorry to report that a chocolate croissant from Le Brioche (bakery for the New England Chef's Institute) was not as good as the ones from Fresh Market.

We decided to head for home, so we got onto Vermont 100 which is a scenic drive through the Green Mountains. The going was slow but the views were great.

In one of the passes, there is a small parking place beside the road and a path with a bridge to a waterfall. The last time we went this way we didn't see the fall until after we passed the parking. This time we were ready for it.

 We had planned on staying at the Walmart in Rutland, but when we got there we read a couple of chancy reviews of it and decided to press on to Bennington. The Walmart there said that they did not own the parking lot, and while they didn't care if we stayed there, we might get chased out by the police. Giving up on Walmarts, we opted for the nearest Cracker Barrel, which is in Clifton Park, NY. Putting the address into the GPS, we headed off into the (very beautiful) sunset. After traversing every conceivable back country road in the pitch-black night we arrived, exhausted at the Cracker Barrel about 7:40 at night. We elected to have supper in the restaurant.

I couldn't catch up on the blog afterwards because my phone battery was dead (and I use it as my portable hot spot). Thus I will need to catch up tomorrow.

8 October 2013

Jean & YumYum by the lake

 Everyone off to work, but the door was open and Alan had left some donuts on the counter, so that was breakfast. Went through morning chores casually, and Alan came home to wish us farewell (and lock the door) at 11:15

We did a little shopping in Burlington: Lake Champlain Chocolates (of course), TJ Maxx and Home Center for Jean, grocery store for Gene to buy some paper plates and water since the pump is turned off.

Then we headed toward Montpelier --- not on the freeway. Lovely drive through the Vermont countryside.

Partway there, we stopped at a cemetery and made a quick lunch. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny with the hills a mixture of colorful leaves and pines. A perfect Vermont day.

Driving through Richmond, we spotted a sign for the Round Church. This edifice was built in 1812 and served five denominations as well as being used for Town Meetings for about 160 years.

It was in the center of the town of Richmond until the railroad came through and the town center moved north to the tracks.

In Montpelier we found a parking place for the Roadtrek a couple of blocks from downtown. We walked to a couple of our favorite stores, Rivendell Books and a place that has an amazing collection of bumper stickers as well as old LPs and similar interesting stuff.

About 5:00 we headed out to Bragg Sugar Farm. They are a member of Harvest Hosts (as are we). These are farms and vineyards that provide free parking for member RVs. We had a good, level spot on the hill behind the farm store.

Another day in Paradise.

Monday, October 7, 2013

7 October 2013

Monday: The day started overcast and went downhill from there.

The rug under the bed was still wet after we "cured" the problem yesterday. Gene tried looking in a different place and found the problem. The water pump for the plumbing system is leaking. Every time we open a faucet, the pump leaks a little. So we turned off the pump and will have to use bottled water for the rest of the trip. We had been considering dropping the Eastern Shore part of the trip, so that kind of settled the question. We will spend another couple of days in Vermont and then head for Forest (though at a slower pace than the trip up).

Our next job was to get a prescription filled.  This is normally a simple procedure. You take your old bottle to a nearby pharmacy; they contact your home pharmacy, who transfers the prescription; you pick up the new one a short time later. But this was Pradaxa, which sometimes turns into a problem.This was one of those times.

The problem is with the insurance. Besides my regular prescription insurance, I have an additional card from the company that makes Pradaxa that gives me an additional discount. This time there was a total mix-up between the insurance companies. In the long run I got the medicine at no cost, but a warning that I would not be eligible for the additional discount for another year. When I get back home I will take the problem up with my regular pharmacist.

After that we dumped the tanks and went to meet Alan for lunch. Then we drove down to Shelburne Farm Museum, a large outdoor museum just south of Burlington. We decided today was not the best day to go in, due to the lateness of the day and the threatening weather. So we headed for the Vermont Wildflower Farm. There we discovered that they were closed for the winter.

On the way back to town the threatening weather occurred --- torrential rain and strong winds. We passed up the other stores we wanted to go to and went back to Alan's and took a nap.

About the only thing that was worth photographing today was the sunset behind the mountains. Black clouds above a narrow break and then the mountains and a slate-grey lake.

Maybe more to write about tomorrow.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fall 2013 Trip

Sunday, 6 October

This trip actually started on Thursday, the 3rd. The plan was to drive straight to Burlington, VT, to visit Gene's son Alan. Spend some time in Vermont during the fall foliage season, then head to the Eastern Shore (of Maryland and Virginia) for a few days.

So we left Thursday morning and headed to Williamsburg ?! We both needed haircuts and prefer Gene's long-time barber/hairstylist; and what's a 200-mile side trip to serious travelers?

After buying a new leash for YumYum and getting some lunch, we rolled out of Williamsburg about 3:00pm. We were on a "get there as soon as possible" roll. We took a diagonal back across Virginia to I-81, and stayed on interstates for the rest of the day. We made Martinsburg, W
V that night for 407 miles; then back on the interstate the next morning. We usually try to avoid the interstate, and travel at more reasonable speeds, but we spent most of the day on interstates --- pushing all the way. We ended up making two fuel stops, the second after we got off the interstate at Glens Falls, NY. We made it to Burlington at 8:45 for 552 miles for the day.

That foolishness over, we could drop back into our usual relaxed mode for the rest of the trip. Saturday the 5th we slept in, then helped around the house for a part of the day.

Alan and Valerie took us to Stowe to do some leaf-peeping. We bypassed many of the usual tourist stops and went straight to the Trapp Family complex. The hills were sprinkled with leaves in a variety of colors, with an emphasis on yellows and reds.

It is hard to match this area for bucolic beauty. We were wowing all the way up, and walked around goggle-eyed.

After a delicious meal at a nouvelle cuisine Mexican restaurant we got home well after dark. Valerie poured wine and we sat around and talked until late in the night. A great day in a beautiful place.

Sunday: apparently yesterday was the last of the sun for a few days. Sunday began overcast and eventually turned into rain. After a few jobs, including Alan finding and curing a mysterious water leak in the Roadtrek (it was a plugged drain from the refrigerator) we pretty much hung out for the day. Late in the afternoon, we went out for pizza and a movie (The Butler).  It is a well-done movie. Tomorrow the Old Pair of Jeans will be pretty much on our own in Burlington. Keep tuned.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Homeward bound

Having driven 575+ miles in the Blue Ridge, we were now almost at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This park is well worth an extensive visit, but we decided it was time to head for home.

After the peace and beauty of the Parkway, we certainly didn't want to throw ourselves on the tender mercies of an interstate. We also wanted to go back and visit a couple of places we had bypassed in order to meet our friends in Swannanoa. So after a fast-food lunch we managed to find our way out of Cherokee and onto a two-lane country road.

There we promptly ended up in a traffic jam caused by a capsized dump truck. We were in no rush, so we just played it cool and eventually got past the disaster. We got as far as West Asheville, where we checked into another KOA, this one less crowded. Got a good rainstorm that night.

After buying some groceries the next day, we got back on the Parkway --- this time heading north. Ate lunch on a Parkway overlook, then pressed on to Craggy Gardens, where we hoped to see a lot more flowers. Unfortunately, there were no flowers at that time, darn.

So we pressed on to Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Mississippi. It is a few miles off the Parkway in Mt. Mitchell State Park. You can park near the summit and hike a short, paved trail to the top. It was cloudy, including a cloud covering the summit, but we wanted to hike up there just to do it, even if there wouldn't be any view.

The path is fairly steep, and Jean's hip was bothering her, so we came back down and she opted to ride up in a park service jeep provided for that purpose. But then it started thundering. We waited to see if the storm would pass, but when it continued to rain we decided to find a campground for the night. The ranger said that such storms were often followed by a bright, sunshiny day so we headed up 40 miles to the Linville Falls campground.

The next day was not sunny, but we headed back anyway. Along the way we had to stop for turkey traffic.

The top of Mt. Mitchell was still cloudy, but we pressed on. In fact, we ran through a rain shower on the way up. However, it was not raining at the top, though it was not clear either.

Nothing daunted, Gene huffed and puffed his way to the top (about 10 minutes with one stop) and Jean came up in the jeep a few minutes later.

There wasn't much of a view, but it wasn't raining and we had made it to the highest point in the East. Back at the parking area, we bought a couple of Cokes to celebrate (no rum, though).

Now we were homeward bound for sure. We got to Wilkesboro and after several "recalculating"'s found the Walmart only to learn there was no overnight parking. So we pressed on to Boone, where we found a Cracker Barrel. After a short walk, we had supper in the rig, but went inside for a decadent dessert.

After breakfast at Cracker Barrel, we decided to head downtown for some shopping. After we found ourselves out in the woods, we decided that the woman at the Visitor Center had given us a wrong turn. By the time we got back to Boone, it was raining heavily so we gave up on that idea and headed to Galax.

Spend some time in downtown Galax and had lunch. Then on to Hillsville to see an interesting old shoe store. Just went in to look, but Gene bought some suspenders.

A few miles up the road we arrived at Jean's cousin B.P.'s. We were able to park on level ground next to the house and plug in. Stayed up 'til late eating, drinking, and visiting. A great way to wrap up a great trip. From there it was a short drive up the Parkway back to the farm and home.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Blue Ridge in North Carolina

The southern part of the Blue Ridge, in North Carolina, is higher and more rugged. We also looked forward to seeing some rhododendron in bloom (it was a little too early in the north).

Jean has an old friend and mentor who lives near the Parkway in North Carolina. He was the one who basically set her on a career of teaching folk dancing. We pulled off at an overlook where she had bars on her cell phone and she called him. We agreed to meet in a couple of days.

Then we checked in at the Doughton Park campground, where we met a couple from Vermont. We shared a bottle of wine and talked for a long time.

Next day, we visited the Northwest Trading Post, which is on the Parkway. They had some interesting stuff, but none of the essentials that we needed, namely: rum, ice, and dog food. So we went on in to Boone.

While we were there, Gene decided to top up the fuel tank, even though we had more than half a tank left. We pulled into a Hess station, and pulled up to one of the pumps with a green nozzle (the usual color for diesel). He had pumped in three gallons when he saw to his horror that it was actually Regular. It was now 4:00pm on a Friday.

After jumping up and down and cursing for a few minutes, we considered our options and finally came to the obvious conclusion. Jean called for a tow truck on her AAA membership; and after some more phone calls found that the local Dodge dealer could, and would, be able to empty the tank. So we got towed there and after being assured that we had not started the engine, they proceeded to drain off 20 gallons of contaminated fuel. Meanwhile they took me back to the station where I got four gallons of diesel (the diesel pumps were on the other side of the station).

By now we were on overtime, but the very knowledgable crew stayed with it and got all the old fuel cleared out and everything put back together. The mechanic advised me to have a new fuel filter installed when we got back home. We drove to a nearby station and filled the tank and were back on the Parkway by 6:30. This misadventure cost us something over $200 and a couple of hours, but if I had started the engine we would be out about $10,000 and who knows how much time to rebuild the engine. Sure makes one feel stupid, though.

The next day we got to Grandfather Mountain and the Linn Cove Viaduct. This is the last part of the Parkway to be completed. It took 20 years for them to figure out a way to deal with the environmental, engineering, and land problems. The answer was to hang the Parkway on the side of the mountain.

View through the windshield

It follows an S-curve around the mountain, and then you're back in the woods again.

About milepost 352 we spot the first rhododendrons in bloom...

as well as some flame azaleas.

About mid-afternoon we went in to the town of Swannanoa and checked in to a KOA. It was more crowded and not as quiet as the NPS campgrounds, and cost four times as much. But it did have hookups and showers. Jean's friends picked us up and gave us a tour of Jean's old college campus, followed by an incredible pizza and lots of interesting visiting.

Next morning we took advantage of the campground's laundromat and did our laundry. Then a lunch at Arby's and back on the Parkway by mid-afternoon.

We spent a pleasant hour at the Folk Art center. This facility showcases North Carolina craftsmen with works on display and for sale. We had an interesting conversation with a young woman who was caning a chair. That is a more complicated process than we had imagined.

Spent the night at the Mount Pisgah campground. Had a Southern Country breakfast at the Mt. Pisgah Inn and watched the clouds moving up and down the valley through the picture windows.

 At 3:22 pm, we pass milepost 469 to complete the run down the entire Blue Ridge Parkway (as well as the Skyline Drive).

We have run the whole thing, but we are not done with the Parkway. On the way home we will come back to pick up a couple of places we missed on the way down. Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

On to the Blue Ridge Parkway

After a growly night, we woke to a cloudy day. Left the campground about 11:00 (hey, we're on vacation). Ran through some rain and occasional fog. An hour later we left Shenandoah National Park and began the Blue Ridge Parkway. Only 469 miles to go.

Jean wanted to post a letter, so we stopped at the Visitor Center at the beginning of the Parkway. We found out that there is no mail service on the Parkway. So we pressed on in periods of rain and fog.

After about 60 miles, we arrived at the James River Visitor Center --- closed thanks to the Sequester. This is where Virginia's longest river cuts through the Blue Ridge, and is the lowest point on the Parkway (at 694 feet). After a long, ten-mile hill, we were at the highest elevation on the Virginia portion of the Parkway --- 3950 feet. Not a good stretch to be riding a bicycle.

We checked in at the Peaks of Otter campground, about 40 minutes from our home in Forest. The campground is on the side of Sharp Top mountain, a very steep slope. We wondered how that would work out. The campsites are basically carved into the side of the mountain, and were surprisingly level. We shared the campground with a large number of Airstream trailers, and at least four "Land Yachts," large Class A's by Airstream. They were on a Caravan, and we saw license plates from all over.

Next day we dropped off the Parkway to go to a nearby Walmart that we knew about and got some groceries and ice. We also picked up some more fuel, since there is no fuel available on the mountain. Back on the Parkway, we found that this stretch is more like a country road. Much of the Parkway passes through National Forests. Along the sections that don't, the Park property is only a few hundred yards wide. Here you often see farms butting up to the Park, and sometimes other roads running alongside. It is interesting to go from the "wilderness" of the park properties, to the modern, but still very rural, countryside.

Spent the night at Rocky Knob campground. This is probably our favorite campground in the Blue Ridge; it has widely-spaced campsites separated by broad areas of grass and trees. While walking around, Gene spotted a luna moth on the map of the campground. He hadn't seen one in several  years.

After talking for a while with a Canadian couple, we had supper and read until bed time.

Next day we drove less and spent more time at exhibits. The first was Mabry Mill.

This iconic old mill has been used to exemplify rural beauty in many places, but it was built here on 
the Blue Ridge a little over a century ago. The exhibit has grown since Gene was last here several years ago, and is worth spending some time.

Besides grinding corn, the water wheel also powers a sawmill and a wood shop, where Ed Mabry built a special jig saw for cutting out sections (fellows) for wooden wagon wheels in one pass.

After a delicious lunch at the restaurant, we pressed on to the Blue Ridge Music Center, just before the North Carolina line. It was late by the time we got there, and the local musicians just had a half-hour left in their gig. We had put on our dancing shoes, but they didn't play anything we could dance to, so we just relaxed and enjoyed some good old-time mountain music.

We looked around the little mountain music museum, and then pressed on into North Carolina. More about that tomorrow.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Blue Ridge

The Old Pair of Jeans, and YumYum, have taken a new trip. This time we drove the crest of the Blue Ridge, from Front Royal, VA to Cherokee, NC. As it turns out, most of the trip we had no cell coverage, not to mention wifi. Thus this edition is not a day-by-day journal, but rather a summary of the trip in two or three installments.

The basic route consisted of driving the Skyline Drive (105 miles), which is part of Shenandoah National Park, and the Blue Ridge Parkway (469 miles). The total trip took a little over eleven days, and with three exceptions we stayed in National Park campgrounds ($7.50 - $8.00) every night.

To begin, we drove (mostly interstate) north to Front Royal, topped off the fuel tank, and drove into Shenandoah NP about 3:40 in the afternoon on Sunday, 16 June. We immediately left the bustle of the "real world" behind us and found ourselves following a two-lane road through the deep, green forest that covers the Blue Ridge. Skyline Drive is the only road that runs the length of the park.We saw very little traffic. There is the occasional overlook which reminds you that you are in the mountains.

We chose June in order to view the spring wildflowers, and we were not disappointed. The flowers that you see are going to vary according to latitude and elevation. You may see a flower in full bloom, and a few miles later you are at a different elevation and the same flower may be just beginning or already finished.

Perhaps our favorite -- and most seen -- flower was the mountain laurel. We were able spot stands of it from time to time on the whole trip.

 We pulled in to a campground (Matthews Arm) and set up for the night.  National Park campgrounds have no hookups. You do what is called "dry camping," that is you live off of whatever utilities you carry with you. So there isn't much to set up --- basically we turn on the propane (which we keep turned off while traveling for safety reasons), switch the refrigerator to gas, and turn the navigator's seat around. Unfortunately, the fridge wouldn't run on gas. Big problem -- but not a trip stopper. We turned on the generator and ran it for an hour to chill the fridge down good, then turned it off so as not to disturb the quiet for the other campers (and ourselves). We discussed our options and Jean pointed out that we could continue on relying on ice.

National Park campgrounds have widely-spaced campsites (for the most part), along with lots of grass and trees. There are flush toilets (but no showers,) dump stations, and potable water available. And lots of quiet and nature.

After a good night's sleep in the cool mountain air, we headed out next morning. We took the next road off the mountain (there aren't many) and went in to Luray, VA. At the Walmart we bought a cooler and some ice. Then to McDonalds for lunch and wifi to do some necessary business.

Back on the Skyline, we were admiring the woods and flowers when we spotted a black bear cub beside the road. Black bears are common in these woods, but they are very shy and you seldom see one. We saw lots of deer and turkeys, but only one bear in the entire trip.

We stopped at Big Meadows, which has a lodge and camp store. The Appalachian Trail passes near here and there were a lot of hikers with backpacks around. We picked up some bug spray and ice cream. We sat outside and ate our ice cream while looking at the extensive meadows that give the place its name.

We continued on and checked in at Loft Mountain, the last campground in the Shenandoah National Forest. Tomorrow we will connect with the Blue Ridge Parkway. On this trip we did something different for us. In the morning we put away the bedding and converted the bed in the back to a sofa with ottomans. It was a warm evening, so I opened the rear doors and zipped in a screen that covers the whole opening. We relaxed on the sofa and enjoyed cheese and crackers along with cold Cuba Libres while gazing at the trees and grass and listening to the quiet. It doesn't get any better than that.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


No pictures today. We were homeward bound on the last day of the trip (home a day early, actually). We just set our faces north and kept on keeping on.

Left Florence, SC, at 9:20am. We stopped about every hour for one thing or another until lunch at 1:00pm. Then it was another 2 1/4 hours to the farm. That's 204 miles in just under 6 hours including all stops.

More statistics:
     Trip length: 15 days
     Trip mileage: 1,675  (don't bother calculating miles per day,              
               we stopped in Palm City for several days)
     Fuel costs: $432.13 (prices all over the map from $3.87 to $4.39)
     Campgrounds: (1) $31.08 (We either parked at friend's and relative's houses or stayed free at Cracker Barrel --- for the cost of a meal)

Another trip is in the books. We probably won't head out again for a couple of months, but head out we will.

Friday, March 8, 2013


If this is Friday, it must be Savannah. After breakfast at McDonald's, Jean went in to a nearby hotel for information on Savannah. They gave her good information that let us drive directly to the Visitor Center. There we got RV parking (for a nominal fee), extensive information, and a marked map. With that knowledge, we headed out on foot.

Our first stop was the Ships and the Sea Museum (of course). The first floor had several very large models of ships that had some sort of Savannah connection. They are all the same scale, so we had a direct comparison of size.

One of the models was of the SS Savannah, a very early steam ship. In fact, it was the first steam vessel to cross the Atlantic (albeit mostly under sail). The room also contained a model of a steel-built river steamer from 1835. One hardly ever hears of steel ships before the Monitor and the Virginia (nee Merimac), so that was a surprise.

Outside in the garden, there were many robins and cedar waxwings feeding on holly berries. My they move fast!

Then we walked on down to the river and walked along some of the Riverwalk. We started out at one end with lunch in an outdoor cafe.

Across the street from the cafe was a fountain that featured the SS Savannah. As we watched, a city worker came along and put some green dye into the fountain. They make all the fountains spout green water for St. Patrick's Day, even though it is still over a week away. Lots of Irish in Savannah.

We walked along the waterfront for a while. The mood was festive, and the crowds were enjoying themselves. We didn't do the whole waterfront, but after a while turned back toward where the motorhome was parked.

 Savannah has lots of old buildings mixed in with the modern, but what interested Gene was that there were lots of "squares," or small parks. There are 21 in the old part of town, it seems like every couple of blocks.

The walk back to the Visitor Center got to be pretty long. We certainly got our exercise in today! But we got out of town before rush hour and scooted up the interstate to Florence, SC for the night. Homeward bound.


Back in tourist mode. We inquired in Cracker Barrel and learned how to get to the Visitor Information Center (it turns out there are several). We found free parking for the RV, got a map, and walked the three short blocks to the tourist area.

First things (history) first, we went to see the Castillio. This is a four-sided, star-type fort made of coquina, a local stone made of compressed shell. It is pretty good stuff, since the fort sustained 27 days of bombardment with minimal damage, and of the four men killed, three were killed when one of the fort's own guns burst upon firing.

The small tower-like structures on the corners of the bastions are sentry posts. They were originally painted red (the rest of the fort was painted white). There is one tall one, which was a signal tower, exchanging signals from a lookout station on the coast.

There are cannons on display in several sizes, some quite ornate. On Fridays they have firing demonstrations --- not using the old cannons.

 After an exhaustive look (too exhaustive for Jean) at the Castillio, we went through the tourist area, much of which dates back the the 17th and 18th century. It is laid out mostly for walking, and much of it is quite attractive. Only bought some chocolate (of course).

After a few hours, we got on A1A and headed for Jacksonville. Typical Florida oceanside. From J'ville, we jumped back on I-95 and booked for Savannah, arriving at another Cracker Barrel about 8:00. Ate supper in the restaurant, and had time to read a little before turning in.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Another exciting day. We got up early so that they could take the Roadtrek in at 8:30 to replace the automatic step. So we had half a day or so to cool our heels in the Waiting Area. So we checked our email; Gene looked at a few new Roadtreks and came to the conclusion that he still liked the Love Shack the best; we took a walk through a nearby shopping center and got throughly cold, we read; Gene tried to take a nap. Finally at about 1:30 the job was done and we now have a smoothly-working step.

We swallowed hard, signed the bill, and headed out --- to where? We decided to skip the rest of the trip plans (we had planned to explore the panhandle) and head back to the east coast. So after topping off at the cheapest diesel we had seen in days, we got back on I-4.

Skipping the boring routing details, we ended up in the late afternoon, driving up A1A toward St. Augustine. At the beginning, all the waterfront property was bought up and posted to keep everyone else out ("This is my waterfront, dammit!). But after a while the road ran right along the beach, just behind the dune. There was lots of wild Florida scrub jungle, often on both sides of the road.

Near sunset, we found a place to park and took a short walk down the beach. It was cold, and there was no one else as far as the eye could see. The beach here is long, straight, and fairly flat.

The only other life we saw were some sanderlings busily looking for lunch, and one larger shore bird that we couldn't identify. There were a couple of pelicans resting on the water offshore.

Gene thought a shell lit by the setting sun was interesting, so here it is.

Then we got back on the road, heading for the Cracker Barrel outside St. Augustine. We saw the sign from the interstate, but once we got off the interstate, we could no longer see the sign.  It took a lot of looking to find the tiny road that led to it. We are now parked at the back of the lot with two other RVs, a big Class A with a car in tow, and another Roadtrek (a 190). Looks like cold night ahead.


A quiet couple of days. We left Sebastian Inlet campground earlier than we might have in search of an internet signal and breakfast. We found breakfast eventually (about 11:15) in a crowded but interesting local eatery called Happy Toast. This mainly breakfast restaurant is owned by a Brazilian who goes back to Brazil for a month every June, taking supplies to distribute among the poor. There is a big jar on the bar where customers can contribute.

Our next stop of note was the Merritt Island Visitor Center. This is a small, but interesting wildlife museum. There is also a boardwalk out among the trees and along a pond. The trees are all heavy with Spanish moss. We could hear the calling of many birds, but there were few to be seen in the heavy forest.

We couldn't stay as long as we would have liked because we were eager to catch up with Rod and Cheryl, old friends of Jean's from Indiana whom she hadn't seen in 15 years. They were very glad to see us and we spent an interesting 24 hours with them.

Tuesday, they took us on a short tour of parts of New Smyrna Beach. The highlights of the tour were The Hub on Canal, an artist co-op that they have gotten very involved with.

The Hub is in an old building that has been many different things in its history. It contains several glass-fronted studios where artists in a wide range of disciplines from painting to writing produce beautiful things

One of the artists that we were impressed with does interesting work in fabrics. Jean was especially interested in a piece she did based on Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible.

There is also a courtyard that Rod converted from a weedy dump into a quiet place to rest, have lunch, or even a small event.

We also had lunch at a very busy beachside restaurant. Then off to see the condo they lived in when they first got to New Smyrna. It is now for sale. We almost wished we could buy it. We were both impressed with New Smyrna, a town that traces its history to before St. Augustine (albeit with a break, which keeps it from being the oldest town). It has an interesting old area, as well as a broad, flat beach.

After going back to the house and visiting some more, we reluctantly left to go on to Winter Garden. There we set up for the night at Leisure Time RV so we would be ready for an 8:30 appointment to have the automatic step repaired.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Most of a week has gone by in Palm City but it was time to bid adieu to Jean's family and head back up the coast. Following our usual habit, we drove up US1 rather than take the interstate. On our way out of the area we noted the prices for diesel were generally $4.09, but we didn't need any. Once we got up the road, away from the cities, the price went to about $4.25. Later, when we started getting low, we managed to find a station that was selling it for $4.15 so we grabbed it. I imagine tomorrow we will find it cheaper again.

We swung down by the beach in Ft. Pierce. The sand in this area is very white.

All along through this area the water was a lovely aquamarine color.We stopped to admire it and spotted what looked like a turtle nest, marked off. Lots of pelicans diving on the other side of the river.

Back on the road, we stopped for some lunch and shopping. While there, we got online and looked for inexpensive places to stop for the night. Not much luck there.

A little later we stopped at another beach. Cold and windy, there were very few people on the beach. Here they had this interesting fiberglass sculpture of a turtle. Thought that was pretty neat.

After finding what looked to be our best bet (in the big book) for parking for the night, we headed back to the beach (that's where the GPS sent us). It said to turn on Jungle Trail, so we did. Guess what? It turned out to be a jungle trail; a narrow dirt road with heavy, wild growth on both sides. We're having a real adventure.

After a while we ended up on A1A, which we could have gotten to by  a more boring route. As we were approaching our next turn, we went by Sebastian Inlet State Park. On a whim we pulled in and asked if they had any camp sites. As luck would have it, they had two. Usually you need to reserve a space in a Florida state park months in advance.

So we are in Sebastian Inlet tonight. After we got set up, we took a walk to look around. The temperature was pretty cold, low 50's (okay you northerners, 50 is cold for Florida) and it was blowing half a gale. There were a couple of kite surfers taking advantage of it out on the sound.

But after a few minutes, we headed back for the warm shelter of the Roadtrek. Took a short nap and had a hot supper. Another day (if somewhat cold) in Paradise.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Still in Palm City. We are staying near the St. Lucie River, with the usual assortment of Florida wildlife. Pelicans are common, along with egrets, and a couple of different kinds of herons. Jean has seen a couple of wood storks.

Today we went to a flea market. a biiiiiiig flea market. It covers the area of a small farm. We saw a fair amount of used stuff, but it seemed to be mostly vendors. There was a lot of blister-packed merchandise.

Vendors ran the full gamut. There were lots of places to buy golf equipment and supplies, also cell phone accessories, kitchen stuff, etc. There was even a barber shop.

Perhaps the ultimate for a flea market was this new car.

We spent several hours there, and had lunch at the outdoor food court. Then we went to Walmart and got another case of water for the motorhome. We are still winterized because in another week we expect to be back in the frigid north for the remainder of the winter.

After our adventures in capitalism, we went back to the ranch and Jean did the laundry (a once-a-week chore) while Gene (the captain) took a nap to sleep off the exertions of flea-marketing.

Life on the road is so tough.