We’re on the Road-Smoky Mountain National Park! (Part 2)


From our home in Myrtle Beach, to Gatlinburg, Tennessee; to Mount Vernon, Illinois; to Indianapolis, Indiana; to Bloomington, Indiana; to Newport, Tennessee; back to our home. 30 hours of driving time and 1.848 miles.

We’re on a two week road trip, which we didn’t spell out in our last blog post (click here if you missed it). We’ve been working hard on our new home (closed on it on 2/1/2019 in Myrtle Beach), getting it ready for our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons to spend their Easter Break with us. We needed a bit of a vacation break, but more importantly, we needed to spend time with Bill’s mom – to celebrate her 98th birthday and to be supportive of Bill’s brother and his wife. They have been her caregivers for the past five years. We are trying to cram as much as we can into two weeks while driving from Myrtle Beach through the Smoky Mountain National Park; to where his mom is in Mount Vernon, Illinois; to visit the State Capitol in Indianapolis, Indiana; to do some hiking near Bloomington, Indiana and then to spend one night in Newport, Tennessee to finish our drive back home.

We left you with a cliff hanger last blog post, so without further delay, let’s see how our third hike in the SMNP turned out!  Continue Reading

Flying to Sacramento – part of our 2018 Summer Travels


Our FaceBook post using the check-in app when we flew on July 4, 2018.

How exciting to attend our oldest great nephew’s wedding in California! As much as we would have liked to drive our home there, it’s just too far for us the way we like to travel – since we prefer to be back in Fredericksburg every three months.

It’s a big deal to figure out where to park and leave our motorhome – safely. This is not our first time to leave it. We’ve been fortunate it has always worked out for us. This time, we had also had to figure out which airport offered the best direct flight options. There were so many airports to pick from! So the wedding helped confirm Pennsylvania as the place to go for our summer travels. We didn’t want to go too far since we had to be back by August, to celebrate both grandsons birthdays and my mom’s 95th.

And bonus! My mom was flying to the wedding with my oldest sister, grandmother of the groom, from the Florida panhandle.  We’d be together for the wedding and then she flew back to Virginia with us. More on that later. Continue Reading

The End of Our 2018 Pennsylvania Summer Travels


We only had about 80 miles to go from Cook Forest to Black Moshannon. See all the green – those are more state and national forests. We would have loved to visit each place.

We are a bit behind in our blogging-it’s been over a month since our last post! Hopefully, I can still do justice to our last two stops in our wonderful Pennsylvania summer travels.

We arrived at our next stop, Black Moshannon State Park, on Father’s Day. We were there for eight days. We were able to attend church at Cook Forest before we hit the road since we weren’t going far. Check-in (and out) time in the Pennsylvania State Forest Campgrounds is 3:00 pm. Our trip was only 80 miles and took us just over two hours since we also fueled up. We couldn’t rush out so it was great  to attend a worship service church at the campground – and then fellowship a little with some of the attendees.

We prefer to not travel on Sundays, let alone a holiday. But it doesn’t seem like Father’s Day puts as many people on the road as Mother’s Day. Wonder why? One thing we learned here in Pennsylvania – and it does seem to be common in many other state and federal campgrounds – they book up on Friday and Saturday nights. You have to book ahead unless you don’t mind changing sites or just going Sunday – Friday.  Continue Reading

2018 Summer Travels – Cook Forest


Bill drove our motor home 800 miles over the nearly two months we were in Pennsylvania.

We’re in the Wilds!!! See the bottom picture in our last blog post to see how Pennsylvania is broken down regionally. Anyway, trying to decide where to finish our last two weeks in Pennsylvania was no easy task but we felt the Wilds calling our name. So much to see, so little time!

We’ll admit, we were pleasantly surprised at how much we’ve enjoyed this beautiful state. Surprised because it is Bill’s home state – he never really “saw” the state! Bill had hoped to make it up to Lake Erie and to the Allegheny National Forest, but the clock was ticking, we needed to return to Virginia on June 27, 2018.

Bill’s focus this summer, after reviewing places to hike in Pennsylvania was to find state parks where we could start our hikes from our campsites. Our last two weeks, we finally stayed in two locations where we could do this and we loved it! Continue Reading

2018 Summer Travels – New Stanton: Linn Run State Park, Falling Waters & more


Fredericksburg, VA to Dillsburg, PA, via Warrenton (B) to get us on US Highway 15 and avoid DC traffic, then to Dillsburg, PA (C) to Shawnee State Park (D) and now to New Stanton, PA

Bill is from the New Stanton/Greensburg, Pennsylvania area. Sadly, it takes funerals to reconnect with family in our culture today. We all seem to move and it’s not easy to go back – until we grow up. So we returned on May 23, 2018.

After we were married, we lived in Bill’s hometown – for 1 1/2 years. I’m so grateful as it gave me an opportunity to get to know Bill’s parents and extended family. We both come from small families so it is nice to remain close to the few family members we have – and that is not easy since we all live so far apart. But for the funeral of Bill’s Uncle Warren in November 2016….

We drove our car up from Myrtle Beach to attend Uncle Warren’s funeral – our motor home was safe there for a few days. We reconnected with many and it was as if we hadn’t been apart for 40 years! One second cousin has a fifth wheel Recreational Vehicle (RV). They camp in it at Myrtle Beach every summer. So it was easy for us to connect and share adventures! She also said there is some good RV campgrounds in the New Stanton area if we ever decide to bring our motor home. So that started the wheels turning our heads….

Continue Reading

2018 Summer Travels – Shawnee State Park, Blue Knob State Park & Flight 93 Memorial


Our drive from Dillsburg to Shawnee State Park, 113 miles.

We are enjoying our short drives from location to location to maximize our adventure days this summer. (Click here to see our short drive in our last post.) We never know what we may be facing driving our 40′ motor home towing our car, so Bill likes to be cautious with the routes he takes. This may not have been the most direct route, but in the mountains, we needed the safest.

The 119 mile drive to Shawnee State Park was uneventful so we made record time, arriving by noon time on May 17, 2018. On the way, we decided to call the office to ask if there had been any cancellations. For the six days we would stay here, we initially booked two sites, our first two days we’d be on an electric only site and then we’d move to a full hook up site. We’ve noticed in most state parks (and many federal parks as well), the weekends are always booked, which means we may have to change sites for our week-long stays. It seems the prime spots in this case, sites with full hook ups are booked on the weekends during “peak” season. We know this is a reality so we’ve learned how to work around it. The weather forecast wasn’t
Continue Reading

The Start of 2018 Summer Travels – Dillsburg, Pennsylvania (PA)


Our drive on Route 15 from Fredericksburg to Dillsburg. We drove 151 miles and took 3 hours 22 minutes. Compliments of Google Maps Timeline.

We will be flying to attend a wedding in Sacramento on 7/8/18. This has dictated our summer plans – we don’t want to be too far from our home base, Fredericksburg for multiple reasons. More on that later.

Our summer travels will be to see as much of Pennsylvania as we can in 52 days! Although Bill is from Pennsylvania, he has never appreciated the state like we now do after traveling to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Bill’s goal is to see enough of a state to really grasp it’s essence. We’ve had grand plans, but a month has passed as I write this and we haven’t begun to see the state as we originally hoped. Mainly, because we are traveling “slo-mo” to really enjoy each stop.  Continue Reading

Alabama – Ending our Winter Travels Part 4 of 4


March 21, 2018. The second day of Spring!

It’s officially Spring so time to end our Winter Series posts! As mentioned in a few previous posts, we really weren’t sure how our winter would go – but we never imagined all the freezing, literally freezing weather we were in and that we dodged a tornado! That post, it is written here if you missed it.

But first, let’s look at the conundrum Bill felt. He is the “driver” and the one most knowledgeable about what he can handle on our journeys. He does ask for my input but I usually say, “whatever you can handle (driving) is fine with me.” He does a spectacular job and since we want to do this for a long as possible, why should I try to muck it up? Continue Reading

Alabama in our 2018 Winter Travels – Part One of Three


The drive from Fort Pickens to Gunter Hill Park was  179 miles and took approximately 3 1/2 hours drive. Then to Foscue Creek Park, only 90 miles, taking about two hours due to the speed limits. The drive up to Red Bay was 173 miles and took just under four hours, again, due to speed limits!

Last winter, we discovered Gunter Hill Park, Montgomery, Alabama, an US Army Corps of Engineers Campground (COE). It met all of our basic requirements for a long stay, so it was tentatively penciled in for this winter. It depended on the weather and our hopes to make it up to Red Bay, Alabama. The weather turned out to be good enough for us to make it happen. We’re glad we have been “winterized” as we’ve adapted to a cooler winter than most “snowbirds” seek when they head to Florida or Arizona for the winter.

We departed Ft. Pickens on 1/16 and stayed at Gunter Hill Park for 10 days until 1/26. Friends highly recommended Fescue Creek Park, it fit our route nicely. We were there from 1/26-3/1/2018. The distances and times are in the caption of the map, which were all about perfect for how Bill prefers to drive. And it’s really about all my body can stand as well! We both have the common age-related lower back aches but it seems to bother me more than Bill – or else I just am more vocal. I can at least get up and move around a little while he is driving.   Continue Reading

Midway Into Our 2018 Winter Travels (warning: Cute photos overload)


Continuing our journey, now along the Florida Panhandle and along the Gulf of Mexico. First stay was at the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Gregory E. Moore Campground, then onto Fort Pickens Campground. While it was only 65 miles, it took nearly two hours due to construction, stop lights and general traffic along Highway 98.

Wow, it’s been a month since we last updated our winter travelogue! As we said in an earlier post, click here if you missed it, we really weren’t sure what our travels plans would look like this winter – so we’re glad we didn’t set any expectations. This past month has been a whirlwind.

We love the beach and knew we wanted to spend a month on the beautiful beaches off of the Gulf of Mexico. This much we knew and planned back in July. My mom lives in the panhandle with my oldest sister so we knew this was a primary destination in January. To get good sites for the two weeks in each location, you have to reserve six months ahead. First stop is Topsail Hill State Preserve Park Gregory E. Moore RV Campground.

Our first day here! It was a cool 51 degrees with a nice breeze. This is the walkway over the sand dunes from the campground to the beach. It’s nearly a mile walk from our campsite. They do run trolleys from the campground to the beach – but we aim for walking 5 miles every day.

This year, we arrived on January 16 and stayed until January 30, 2018. Two weeks is allowed per camper in the Florida State Parks. Once I get as old as Bill, we can stay for a month here, two weeks under his driver’s license (proof of Florida Residency and our age) and two under mine. But no rush! LOL

Here is a slide show to put things in perspective a bit:

So now you may see why this is a favorite destination for us! We fell in love with it our first visit in March 2015. We talked to a couple there who were work campers. It sounded like something we would like to do. My mom would only be an hour or so away so we could spend a month or two or three here! We interviewed for the job and it looked like we were in….but then the Ranger who “hired” us (it’s a volunteer job with free “rent” in exchange) ended up changing jobs before we could cinch the deal. We’ve pretty much decided it probably wouldn’t have worked out for us….😢

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park beach on the Gulf of Mexico our second day here.

This year, we had a real treat – something we have wanted for a while, to bring a grandson on another road trip! We had our oldest grandson, Colin, with us for ten days in Myrtle Beach soon after his brother, Bryce was born. We wrote a little about that wonderful time here, in case you missed it.  We cherished that time with him and look forward to another journey with him. Our decision to go get our youngest, he’s nearly 2 1/2 years old now, was a bit spontaneous. We had to have a luxury car just for situations like this. So the biggest downside of Topsail for us is it’s a LONG way from our grandsons (and their beloved parents)! So this month, we drove our car 2,300 miles to get him and return him, taking us 36 hours of driving time! But it was so worth it. Both of our grandsons also love the beach so we look forward to many more fun travel days ahead!

We were on site #66. Bryce felt right at home!

We really weren’t sure how Bryce would travel.  Thankfully, he did great as long as we let him out to stretch his legs every few hours. He’s potty trained so it helped us make sure he got his exercise. He is also a GREAT sleeper, needing 2 to 3 hour naps and he sleeps 10 to 12 hours a night. So we got the rest we needed as well.

This one pictures says it all!!! It was a bit cold, but so sunny and this kid loves it!!!

Bryce’s response when he realized we were leaving the beach for the day!

But he was easy to get back on track! He loved riding around the park on his trike

There was a playground near our site so of course, Bryce had to go every chance he got!

Bryce wanted to “touch” every dog he saw! He made lots of friends as he learned how to safely approach a new dog! He’s probably a dog whisperer…

What little boy can resist climbing a ladder? He loves helping his papa!

Bryce was actually only at this location for one week. Bill and I had a week here by ourselves when we decided to go get him. Then it was time to move closer to see my mom and sister, only about 65 miles away, still on the Gulf of Mexico.

On January 30, 2018, we moved onto Fort Pickens Campground on the Gulf Islands National Seashore Park. We stayed here last year, but didn’t discover it until near the end of my time with my mom. We wrote about our time in the Florida Panhandle – when we discovered this treasure – written about here.

I drove Bryce in the car and we left ahead of Bill so he could disconnect everything without a little “helper.” If you know what we mean! Bryce and I stopped in to see my mom, sister and her dog Ruby before we met Bill at the campground. Bryce is my mom’s 7th great grand child. It was time she met him.

Bill and Bryce checking out our new homesite. We thought it was longer than in reality. We just fit. And now having Bryce on a blind corner will mean he must not be out of an arms length. Thankfully, the speed limit was 5 MPH and most every drove very slow.

We arrived here in Fort Pickens on Tuesday, January 30, 2018. Our reservation was for two weeks, ending on February 13. My mom saw Bryce twice, but fortunately it was before she was contagious. Mom wasn’t feeling very good our third day there, so I went to see her alone. Sadly, my mom had contracted the flu and was hospitalized that night. The hospital was close by, so I spent two days visiting her there – and then I came down with it! What a miracle neither Bill, Bryce nor my sister caught it.

Our walking here was on the nature trails. This entrance was right by our site. Bryce enjoyed our nature walks and especially all the dogs who were also out for their exercise.

Bill is compelled to walk at least five miles every day. Bryce accompanied him everyday, by giving Bill an “extra” good workout once Bryce’s legs needed a break.

This campground had lots of doggies! So of course, Bryce got to meet each and every one!

Boys will be boys! Bryce managed to break the kitchen sink sprayer connector, just being a boy! Thank goodness for Amazon, we found the replacement part and Bill repaired it quickly. While Bryce was napping!

Bryce loved riding around the campground, checking out the other vehicles. This one sure caught his attention!

Bryce kept asking to go to the beach. It wasn’t as convenient from our campsite to get to the Gulf of Mexico. But this trail was close by to the sound. It was sandy, so he was happy!

We were just exploring so we didn’t know what to expect. Bill took him back another time with his bucket and shovel

There wasn’t a playground at this campground. But we found something just as much fun. A hill of pebble gravel when it was too cool for the beach.

But he asked daily to go back to the beach. He loved playing in the sand.

The water was crystal clear on the sound side as well. Much calmer, too.

So how did I get sick while Bill and Bryce were OK? As soon as my symptoms started, I saw a doctor and was put on Tamiflu – was told to rest for a week and wear a mask. It was recommended Bill get on it as well, so his doctor got him started. And then I wore a surgical mask to keep the germs to myself. I also wore it in the hospital, but I must have contracted it before she was in the hospital. (Do you think I rested? Oh how I wanted to….)

Ugh, the first time I’ve had the flu in decades! So this was how I kept from spreading it.

Bryce had to get into the act and copy his MeMe! He was so funny wearing it and it helped him not be afraid of me!

We arrived here in Fort Pickens on Tuesday, January 30, 2018. Our reservation was for two weeks, ending on February 13. She had two days to see Bryce, but fortunately it was before she was contagious. Mom wasn’t feeling very good our third day there, so I went to see her alone. Sadly, my mom had contracted the flu and was hospitalized for five days. The hospital was close by, so I spent two days visiting her – and then I came down with it! What a miracle neither Bill, Bryce nor my sister caught it.

Using FaceTime, Bryce spoke to and saw his mom, dad, brother and his doggie, Ollie, every night. He especially was excited to talk to Ollie and kissed him good night! He really loves dogs. All good things had to come to an end, so it was time to get him home. Since I was still sick, our daughter decided to fly to Atlanta and we meet her there to return him. Bryce enjoyed the airport and was so happy to see his mom. He wouldn’t let go of her for a minute – except to hug us good bye! We loved our time with him in spite of me being sick.

We knew we needed to extend our time here so I could see my mom more. Sadly, this very popular campground was booked, but miraculously we found a really good site back in Campground A – where we stayed last year. At first, only two nights were available – then we checked it the next day and managed to get three nights in a row on the same site.

We stayed on this site from 2/13-16/2018. It’s in Campground A, site #16. It’s a smaller campground as you can tell. Our neighbors had moved out. We have more room on the right because the nature trail path is there, but not shown in the picture. The dump station, dumpster and bath house are only a few hundred yards from any site. Very convenient, but smaller sites and the trees can interfere with your parking.

Mom was finally feeling good enough for a little outdoor time. So I brought her over to see our new campsite.

There are a few of downsides to Fort Pickens. Mainly, it only has water and electric, no sewer. Last year in Campground A, we were close to the dump station, so Bill just carried a five pound bucket of gray water over each day. And we were right by the showers. But in Campground E, we were as far as you could be from the dump station. So he broke down and bought a blue tote tank. Sadly, the weather was so cold here our first week or so, we didn’t use the bathhouse – besides it wasn’t that close to us either.

This is a National Park, so they honor the “America the Beautiful” Passes. We didn’t mind only paying $10/night last year, but the price doubled this year. And it’s really a drive to go to the grocery store. But there are a few restaurants nearby. We haven’t tried them, but others said they were good. Here is the link to the campground for more information and reservations:  Recreation.gov< strong>After that whirlwind of a month, we headed Montgomery, Alabama. We stayed here last year and decided we would return for 10 days on our way to the Tiffin Service Center for a few minor repairs to our home.

Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly….Proverbs 17:6 

The Start of Our Winter 2018 Travels


Connect this to our last map. We arrived from Dillon, SC to the Jacksonville area, first stop over New Years Eve long weekend at Sunny Oaks mobile home and RV Campground, then Hanna Park & Campground for two weeks, to Jellystone RV Park, Madison for one night to Topsail Hill State Preserve Park, where we’ll stay for two weeks..

In our last post, we said we may talk some about what is ahead for us for 2018. We only dropped a hint or two and to be honest, we don’t really know what is ahead for us! I recently read the blogs of two couples we have been following since we began on the road: The Lowe’s – what we love about their blog is their details about all of their hikes – which we also love to do; and, Wheelin’ It – they give such practical advice and great tips for the full – time RV lifestyle. The Lowe’s just posted their 2018 travel map and plans – which we all know is always subject to change, but at least they know their general direction. As for Wheelin’ It – they usually do the same! But their current blog tells us why they are not this year and that they are selling their motor home, car and all that goes with it – to move to Europe and travel there. If you want a fully decked out rig with all the latest and greatest plus a car and hitch, check out their blog! Be sure to mention you learned about it from us and we can split the $150 “referral fee.” LOL

So it is with a little envy we read others exciting travel plans.  It seems we are now in a routine and so far, our travels aren’t changing much from last winter.  We enjoyed our time this year (January 1 – 15, 2018) in Hanna Park and Campground, we planned to write a post about it. But never had time! We did write a bit about it some last winter, first here where we discovered it, and then here, when we stayed for a week last March. We (Debbie) vowed to return! Bill, not so much since he’s the one who drives the motor home and was concerned about taking a tree down – or it taking us out. Anyway, there isn’t much to add to the two posts, except one thing. And it is still that slice of heaven we found last year! The only difference is the sustained freezing cold weather here – but then the whole east coast and probably the midwest are in the same freezing boat. 😱 That wasn’t the one thing, btw.

The year 2017 was a game changer for us. Bill had to learn how to live with heart disease. He has done exceptionally well and his doctor is his biggest fan (next to me, of course) and knows he can continue on. What it has meant in addition to how he eats and exercises is how he manages stress. Now that’s been a battle, especially when things happen he can’t control like two flat tires on Interstate 95 (one of the busiest highways on the east coast). Actually, he did much better than he did with our first blowout on a state road in Florida – but also a busy highway. And now with sustained freezing cold weather – since we LEFT Virginia on December 26 – when we thought we were fleeing freezing cold weather. Actually it just hitched up to our bumper and has followed us. ❄️❄️

This new life style has meant we had to change how we travel – more or less! We had decided before hand, we prefer to only drive the motor home roughly 200 miles between stays and to stay about two weeks. This is most desirable. But there are times it isn’t feasible. We have to balance our travels with our budget and still try to keep our nightly stays around $20. We learned if you stay a week or two, you get a good discount – thus our desire for that as well as we want to get to know the area and see all we can see.

But this past year, we seemed to be consumed with our exercise routine and cooking fresh.  So we aren’t sightseeing as much as we once did – although we hit a home run in Wisconsin this past summer. It’s ideal to be able to get in his “mandated” walk of five miles a day straight out our door. We did that beautifully in Hanna Park – and we do that at Pirateland. And then we still remember how disappointed that Wilmington, NC won’t be our future home when it is time to get off the road. We continue to obsess a bit over it….so that means while at Hanna Park, we had a revelation.

The beach at Hanna Park is every bit as good if not better than Myrtle Beach! And like we did at Myrtle Beach, we decided to look up the beach to see if there isn’t a place we could call home. We did look down to the south and decided that lifestyle wouldn’t fit us. So what beach is up the coast? Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island:

Fernandina Beach is on Amelia Island at Florida’s northeast border. Fernandina Beach hosts the popular Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival and is known for great golf. Downtown Fernandina Beach also offers boutique shopping and a range of scrumptious restaurants. With 13 miles of pristine beaches, abundant wildlife and clear, calm waters, Amelia Island with its quaint charm has been a beloved destination for generations. Its upscale resorts and world-class spas combine with a charming collection of bed and breakfasts, historic sites and captivating festivals for an experience that’s uniquely Floridian. Come experience why Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island have consistently been among Florida’s highest-ranked island destinations. 

It was love at first sight – or actually a re-look. We did visit Amelia Island years ago. It didn’t really strike us as a future home. For whatever reason, this time, after we really checked out the beach, did we see the potential. GRANTED, it is way too far from our daughter and her family. We do still hope and dream they will see the light and move to Florida….

Our first view approaching Amelia Island from A1A. We approached it from a different road when we came a few years ago. What’s not to love?

Then we began to drive on a beautiful road like this – with a walking trail next to it the entire length!

We saw the sign for this, so looked it up on the web. Looks fabulous, but we want some place realistic….This is “just” a resort!

Of course, we had to hit the beach! We didn’t see this when we came before….didn’t really know what we missed.

We could easily walk five miles on this beach. And like Atlantic Beach at Hanna Park, the tides didn’t really affect the times of our walks.

We talked to a resident of the area. These condos are each a cool million or more! So much for that lifestyle….

uh oh, what are we doing? This neighborhood is in our price range….

I won’t elaborate any more except to say, we are now going to look at more places up and down the east coast, in South Carolina and Georgia, as potential places to eventually settle. We think we have now ruled out North Carolina. While it will be farther than I would prefer, Bill just can’t handle continuous freezing weather. We’ve acclimated but it’s just been one miserable winter.

And now, back to our plans for 2018? Not that we feel we need to have that exit plan in place should we need to get off the road, let’s just say it has a less stressful feel to it to think about it. For now, we just hope to enjoy each place we visit – which now seems to be more for a purpose than just “adventure” – although we still think life is nothing but full of adventure!

Next up, we’re back in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park!

“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

Our 2017 Travels Reviewed and What’s Ahead for 2018?


We are starting 2018 on the same route as we did in 2017! It’s “Trip One” to start our warm winter travels! Fredericksburg, Virginia to Dillon, SC to Jacksonville, Florida.

It’s that time of the year, so Happy New Year! We enjoy reading a snapshot of others’ year end blogs so hope others enjoy ours as well. And writing ours helps us keep our travels in perspective. We are still enjoying our lifestyle in spite of the challenges we’ve had this year. But that’s why it’s even more important to look back.

First, it helped us to look at what we wrote last year (click here if you missed it).WOW, our start this is is the same as last year. Once again, we started the New Year fleeing freezing cold temperatures in Virginia. We forgot how bad it was last year when we tried to close our slides to leave Fredericksburg. The slide toppers were frozen with a sheet of ice! This year, we had the slides pulled in for over two weeks to stay warm which we have never had to do before. The winter storm Benji arrived ahead of any other storms we’ve fled from in these four years of traveling. Continue Reading

Update on our TOAD – 2013 Cadillac SRX


The start of our journey in our new to us motor home with our new to us toad! Read the linked post about how long it took us to get it hitched up and how many miles I had to follow Bill.

Our six weeks in Myrtle Beach are coming to an end. As we mentioned in a previous post (or two), we had declared we wanted to see lots more new places. Thanks to an unexpected surgery, it turned out this was the place to go after all – great area to heal! And for those who know about Bill’s heart health journey, he is to live in a low stress environment. You’d think that was what we have been doing here, right? Nope, we’ve been consumed with a few issues, the main one was what to do about our TOAD?

That’s the car towed behind our motor homes, affectionately called TOADS, short for tow-ed. Some even call them their dinghy. We wrote about our decision making process in selecting our Cadillac SRX here. So how has that worked out for us? Read on…..

As a recap, we didn’t have much time to make a decision on what car to buy to serve as our TOAD.  Our truck had been totaled while we were in the midst of the selling of our 5th wheel and the purchase of our motor home (affectionally called Tiffany for our precious ‘tween dachshund 1982-1999) . When we started our research, it looked like the two main options for us were various Jeeps and the Honda CRV. Continue Reading

Are we living the dream?


Photo by friend, Gerald Voigt “Hawkeye” on July 6, 2017 in Omro, Wisconsin. He and his wife are amazing photographers. Visit their FaceBook page to get connected: https://www.facebook.com/rvnomads/

Finally, I have been inspired and have the time to write a blog post after two months. We are so overdue and are so grateful for new followers – although we haven’t written anything to follow for two months! We had hoped to write more about our travels in Wisconsin and about the end of our summer travels back to our “home” base, Fredericksburg, Virginia.  We have been on the go since we arrived here, not a spare minute to compose a post (nor the energy)…. Continue Reading

2017 Summer Travels – the start in Wisconsin


How can we possibly write about all that we did while in Wisconsin, from June 15 to July 13, 2017? We were so active, we just didn’t have time to regularly write posts of our travels for this month. I’m sad as we are already losing some memories we were making that we try to capture in our posts. So we’ll start with some summaries and see how it goes.  First, let’s learn a little about Wisconsin.

We decided to tour Wisconsin after Bill “noticed” it was directly above Illinois – where we visited family. After our family visit, we needed a route back to Virginia, where we will spend August. It seemed natural to go to Wisconsin rather than Michigan, our original plan….more about that route later! Continue Reading

2017 Summer Travels: Illinois to Wisconsin


IllinoisToWisconsin

In Illinois, From Lake Rend (green dot) to Utica (B) to Tomson (C). Then to Dodgeville (checkered dot), WISCONSIN!

Oh where to start??? It’s been a month since we last wrote a travel post. Let’s back up to June 6, 2017. We’ve been hitting the road hard and we have had an AMAZING summer so far! If you want to see details/pictures, we post almost daily on our Travel Facebook page, so stop by, look around at our photos and like it if you haven’t already. If you have, thank you! In addition to this lame excuse for not blogging, some of the remote areas we visited didn’t have many cell towers. Oh the internet access woes of full time travelers!

We decided to spend a month in WISCONSIN! How did that happen? When Bill was trying to plan our route back to Virginia, he originally planned to go via Michigan and a northern route. But then something drew his eye to Wisconsin. And we learned a lesson recently: No more “flying” through a state – we want to savor our journeys as we go….

So we decided to see a few new places as we headed north to Wisconsin from Lake Rend near Mount Vernon, Illinois. Bill does an amazing job of finding GREAT places to explore on our routes. Our first stop was in Utica, Illinois, home of Starved Rock State Park.

Our first leg there, to Utica was our longest so far, 284 miles, nearly 5 hours of driving – and not what we prefer, but thankfully, the trip went smooth as silk! We stayed in Hickory Hollow Campground, which had it all! It is a Passport America park ($20 cash and excludes weekends) for full hook up, 50 amp and wifi. It was conveniently located with easy access in and out and very well maintained. Our site, G3, was relatively flat. We did have an issue with the 50 amp circuit breaker. It blew a few times – so they sent out their on-site electrician who fixed it in a flash! He said they were going to close soon for a short time to re-do their electric hook ups.  Continue Reading

2017 Summer Travels: Maintenance at Red Bay to Disaster in Kentucky


Our route from Amity Campground, Lanett, Alabama on the Georgia border, to Red Bay, Alabama. Just about 250 miles, taking less than five hours drive time.

We are a bit behind because of our two recent Memorial Day posts (one I meant to post from 2015 and then the one from this year). Coupled with the fact we have been on the GO all summer! So let’s catch up and review our travels so far.

On May 12, we left Amity Campground on the border of Georgia and Alabama, then drove to Red Bay, Alabama, home of Tiffin Motor Homes for some DIY (do it yourself or rather “Do It Bill”) projects. We stayed there for a week. The drive there was about as perfect as it gets for us, but yet, we hated driving through the entire State of Alabama and not stopping to enjoy its beauty! We really don’t like to drive this far and miss this much.  This is our preferred maximum travel day. Continue Reading

2017 Summer Travels: Spartanburg, Cowpens and Generator Repair


Travel started in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Then to Dan Nicholas Park in North Carolina, to Cummins Atlantic, Spartanburg, South Carolina

Our trip from Dan Nichols County Park to our next stop was only 127 miles, about a two 1/2 hour drive for us since we also stopped for diesel fuel. We wanted to arrive early as our mission for this stop (Thursday, May 4, 2017) was for our generator be repaired.  We were headed to Freightliner in Gaffney, SC, but thankfully, my call ahead sent us down the road to Spartanburg.  They don’t seem to fix “broken” generators at Freightliner, only service them. What a miracle Atlantic Cummins, who does, was close by.

We traveled close to this area a few years ago. We spent a day with Bill’s cousin and her husband, who live near Charlotte, NC. We didn’t write a full blog post about our time there, but what a grand time they showed us by taking us to the Billy Graham museum and property.  Continue Reading

Full Circle, back to Jacksonville, Florida (Winter 2017 Part 10)


This entire leg, from our farthest point west in Mississippi (Davis Bayou Campground) (green dot), to our highest point north, Montgomery, Alabama (B), to Fort Gaines, Georgia (D) to Eastbank, Georgia (D), to our overnight stop in Madison, Florida (E), to Hannah Park, Jacksonville, Florida (checked dot)  is about 620 miles and would be about 10 1/2 hours in a car. Bill drives the motor home slower since we are also towing our car.

Our 2017 winter journey actually came full circle!  Click here to see a map of the first part of our winter travels, which only reflects our time starting and ending in Jacksonville. This is actually our fourth winter RVing, but only our third as full-timers. While we are residents of Florida, our “home” base is becoming Fredericksburg, Virginia – near our daughter, son-in-law and two precious grandsons. We spend between four and five months there a year, spread out. So our circle actually started there the first of January and will end there the beginning of May, before we embark upon another summer travel schedule. We have been at this now long enough, we more or less know how we like to travel. Or do we? We really didn’t know how this winter would go, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience. Continue Reading

Welcome to Mississippi: Davis Bayou Campground (Part 8 Winter 2017)


first10

Florida route started in (green dot) Jacksonville, to (b) Dunnellon, then (C) Zephryhills, to (D) Micanopy, to (E) Sneads, to (F) Navarre, to (G) Fort Pickens, to (H) Holt, then crossed over into Alabama, (I) Robertsdale, then to (checkered dot) Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

The Davis Bayou Campground is our 10th RV park/campground since we arrived in Florida on January 6, 2017.  We were in this National Park from February 19 to 26, 2017. It is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore Park. We discovered it when we were in Fort Pickens, Pensacola (Part 6 of our winter travels), Florida. It is a continuation of the Gulf Islands Seashore! Since we had such a wonderful time in Fort Pickens, we thought we’d go farther west than we had originally planned and try it.

The Lure of the Islands in the Gulf of Mexico
What is it that entices people to the sea? Poet John Masefield wrote, “I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied.” Millions of visitors are drawn to the islands in the northern Gulf of Mexico for the white sandy beaches, the aquamarine waters, a boat ride, a camping spot, a tour of an old fort, or a place to fish.

Continue Reading

Fort Pickens, On a Barrier Island (Winter 2017, Pt. 6)


Our travel from Three Rivers State Park, to Emerald Beach, to Fort Pickens.

Our travel from Three Rivers State Park (green dot), to Emerald Beach (B) in Navarre, to Fort Pickens (checked dot).

When we started our winter travels from Virginia on January 4, 2017, to stay somewhat warm, we really had no idea how our travels would turn out. We are still a bit gun-shy, so we don’t like to make reservations until we are on our way to a particular RV park/campground. We’ve had four family emergencies in our three years on the road where we’ve had to cancel our reservations, turn around or set aside our travel agenda for a time. When we started this winter series, I wasn’t too optimistic about coming up with a way to label our travels. So if you have been following along, you can see I have modified our titles, which means things are getting a bit more exciting!

We are now in our eight RV Park/campground since we left fled the snow in Virginia. We know reservations in the warmer parts of Florida between January and March are tight, slim, and expensive. Thus, we have been bouncing along, not staying anywhere too long. Although, we have not paid the high prices we thought.  Anyway, we had planned to spend a month in Gulf Shores, Alabama with friends we made last time we were at the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay, Alabama. We called the couple a few days before we made the reservations in Fort Pickens. They said they would have the scoop on where we could stay….only to learn the husband had just passed away. 😢 You know, it just puts life into perspective! So our plans have again changed, but then, we really didn’t have any plans set in stone.

Continue Reading

Travel trials, tribulations and tidbits


People tell us all the time they wish the could do what we’re doing, living on the road and seeing the USA. This is one of the first couples we started following on the ‘net as they love to hike as they travel. They’ve just concluded their five year long retirement dream to not only see all the contiguous states but also much in Canada and even trekked in Mexico. Their map is great and they’ve included lots of stats as they wind down. We hope to get back to blogging as we hit the road again.
We’re in Jacksonville, Florida so that’ll be our next post.

Lowes Travels

This is the final segment to wrap up the first chapter of our RV travels.  The previous segment with our statistics is here.

As we reviewed the 422 posts that we published along the way, we recalled many fond memories and also came up with some fun tidbits that we thought were unforgettable, surprising, scary, stressful or fascinating experiences.  Compiling this collection made us pause and reflect on how many wonderful experiences we’ve had while on the road.

We faced our first major challenge just as we started the journey at Pleasanton, CA.  A hydraulic failure left our jacks and slides extended, and we learned a lot about that system during the next 3 weeks that it took to get it fixed (under warranty, fortunately).  Since that time we’ve dealt with many minor water leaks, a dead video camera, an intermittent engine cooling issue, refrigerator problems and other things that we consider part of the joy of moving…

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A recap of our summer travels…


Started out just north of Richmond, Virginia, to Chattanooga, TN

On May 10, 2016, we started out just north of Richmond, Virginia: then to Mt. Airy, NC; to Waynesville, NC; to Chattanooga, TN; to Red Bay, AL; To Land Between the Lakes, KY; to Mt. Vernon, IL (with a weekend car trip to Missouri); back through Kentucky) ending in Wytheville, VA.

We had a wild summer! We never expected it to be so hot nor the roads so narrow. Were we naive or was it just hot everywhere? And the roads! Who would have ever thought we’d be so challenged?

Bill drove our motorhome 2,648 miles from May 10 until we returned to Virginia on July 29. Sadly, we didn’t keep a log of how many miles we drove our car over the summer but we guess around 8,000!

We thought a summary of our summer would be fun to help us relive (and remember) our adventures. And we want to mention we celebrated two years since of the sale of our stix ‘n bricks house on July 16, 2014, and finally got rid of the rest of our worldly possessions. It was a gradual process. We now can call ourselves minimalists! You can read more  here if you’ve missed that post. We also hit our our third anniversary when we started RVing, September 4, 2013.  Continue Reading

Map of our RV Campgrounds and Resorts on RVillage


We’ve encouraged others we meet along the way to sign up for RVillage. We did sometime in 2014. It’s free and it has so many benefits. For us, we can now easily stay in touch with others we’ve met on the way. We’ve had questions for many (since we were newbies for so long, we needed lots of advice) and now, we’ve discovered every time we check in, it’s created a map!

Below is the static map or see below for our real time and live map!

My RVillage.com Map

My RVillage.com Places since 2014.

You can click here to see our real time map and zoom in on our locations!  We’re starting to cover more states this summer.

 

2015 Year End Summary Review


boomerang

Boomerang

We haven’t been as good at blogging the second half of this year. At least we can catch up with a review of our year. The main thing we’ve learned is that we probably misnamed ourselves, The TumbleLees. Perhaps the Boom-a-Rangers would have been better! We had high hopes of visiting many more places and states by now. Instead, we have re-visited some of our favorite places. Much of our travel this year  included trips to help family, especially to our daughter’s home to help welcome to the world our second  grandson in August 2015; selling our first RV and buying our second one in May 2015; and, exploring many state parks in Florida. In spite of not traveling to more states, we have had a GREAT year.

Here are some of our stats:

In 2015, we slept in an RV 331 nights (several family visits for a total of  34 nights away from our RV) for a total of 697 nights in a camper since we started in September 2013.  We moved in and out of 31 campgrounds in 2015 with a total of 70 since we started. We hit a glitch in keeping up with the mileage as our truck was wrecked and we didn’t get that mileage before it was turned over to the insurance company as a total loss. Wow, that sure doesn’t happen every year – but it was very timely as we had just sold the 5th wheel it towed. We can guesstimate we drove the truck 10,000 miles between Jan and May 2015. We know we towed our 5th wheel a total of 12,000 miles from September 2013 to May 2015.

Our biggest hike ever, 9 miles in Callaway Gardens, Georgia

Our biggest hike ever, 9 miles in Callaway Gardens, Georgia

If you know us, you know we love to  hike! But we haven’t been very good at keeping a written journal of our hikes. But I do use the Map My Walk (or hike) app. While it didn’t work for every hike (either battery went dead or we were in an area without any cell phone towers), it calculated we hiked or walked on at least 220 occasions, for at least 608 miles in 10,686 minutes! Sure wish I had kept the stats of our hikes for the past 12 years. ;-{

Our 28' Keystone Cougar XLite 5th wheel and F-150 Ecoboost Ford Truck.

Our 28′ Keystone Cougar XLite 5th wheel and F-150 Ecoboost Ford Truck.

The first half of the year was pretty wild as traveled and we tried to sell our 5th wheel to upgrade to a motorhome on our own. Whew, that was a real chore, but it all worked out perfectly. The full details are here and here. Traveling in our 5th wheel, from January to May, we visited 20 private RV campgrounds/resorts, one KOA, and 8 State Parks (in Florida). Of these, seven were repeat stays. We learned we love camping in state and county parks as this was the first year we managed to do so. We also figured out there are some state parks with sites to fit a 40′ motorhome.  County parks may be a different story as we have learned. You can’t accept the word of the person who answers the phone…..

We bought our Class A motor home, a 2010 Tiffin Phaeton QTH 40′, in May 2015 as well as our flat tow, a 2013 Cadillac SRX. As of December 31, 2015, Bill drove it 2,613 miles. We slowed our pace down considerably, considering we were averaging 2,000/month in the 5th wheel!  We visited 11 campgrounds total: eight private parks and then three unique experiences in the 40′ bus, one more state park in Florida, one County Park in Tennessee and one Sevice Center in Red Bay, Alabama.  We stayed in two repeat campgrounds, near our daughter and at Myrtle Beach.  While we did fit into the County Park, we realized it may be more of a challenge than we thought. We were told they could handle a 40′ motorhome, but the lots were not very level as depicted in this photo:

Lake Marion County Park, Jasper, Tennessee

Lake Marion County Park, Jasper, Tennessee. Normally, we don’t need that step!

We also had many family visits, which were both good and sad. We spent time with Bill’s mom, with Bill helping his brother select an assisted living facility for her in Illinois near his brother.  This visit is not in the map since we didn’t take the RV. We visited my mom and stepdad three times in Sebring (home base) as he battled cancer. Sadly, he lost the battle on December 2, 2015. We are so grateful we had the flexibility to spend as much time with him as we did! And the good and best family times were with our daughter. We were there for her last months of what turned out to be somewhat of a difficult pregnancy, then we were there for the birth of our second healthy grandson. Our daughter stayed home with him for three months. We traveled some during this time. Then we returned to watch him for six more weeks.  He was 4 1/2 months old when he went into daycare and we had to head south. That was a lot of family time. And we managed to visit some dear friends along the way.

Click below read the posts about some of the exciting places we visited: (The numbers signify the campground stay since we began.)

68) Pirateland, site 158, 5401 S. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, SC, 29575 Dates: 10/7-11/11/15 (34 nights)

65) Waynesboro North 340 Campground, Eastside Highway, Waynesboro, VA 22980 Campground office: (540) 943-9573.   6/22-24/201

62)Allegro Campground, Red Bay, AL 6/11-6/18/2015

53)Talbot Island State Park, 12157 Heckscher Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32226. Phone: 904-251-2320. Site 16. 3/21-25/2015 (4 nights)

52)Torreya State Park, 2576 NW Torreya Park Rd., Bristol, FL 32321. Site: 008. 3/17-21/2015. (4 nights)

51)Ochlockonee River State Park, PO Box 5, Sopchoppy, FL 32358. Sites: 024 & 027. Phone: 850-962-2771. 3/14-17/2015 (4 nights)

50) Blackwater River State Park, 7720 Deaton Bridge Road, Holt, Fl 32564 Phone: 850-983-5363. Sites 024 & 020. 3/8-14/15. (6 nights)

49) Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Fl 32459 Phone: 850-267-8330 Site, Loop: 083, 102 3/4-8/15. (4 nights)

48) Fallings Waters State Park, 1130 State Park, Chipley, Fl 32428 Phone: 850-638-6130. Site 017 Dates: 2/27-3/4/2015 (5 nights)

47)Florida Caverns State Park, 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, FL 32446 Phone: 850-482-1228. Site 006, BH1 Dates: 2/23-27/15 (4 nights)

46) Crystal Isles RV Park, 11419 W. Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429. Phone: 888-318-1243
Dates: 2/19-23/15 (4 nights)

44) Tampa East RV Resort, 4630 McIntosh Road, Dover, FL 33527 (866) 786-6298. Dates: 1/13-20/15 (7 nights)

In spite of all these great camping and hiking experiences, we have had to rely more and more on the Lord for our strength as we met the many challenges this year. We were blessed to be able to attend church nearly every Sunday, missing only two or three times due to our travel schedule. The last time we had such a challenging year was in 1999 when not only my dad succumbed to cancer, but I also lost my dear brother in law, who was truly like a big brother to me.  He entered my life when I was a struggling 7th grader. He tutored me when I was failing English. During that year, the lesson we learned was that God was in control even when life seemed out of control! These verses became more and truer to us this year:

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9