A Summary of Our First Five Road Trips

We’ve seen really cool travel maps from other’s blog sites (here’s my favorite one from a couple we are following) but when we tried to make ours,  it looked confusing. It’s at the bottom of this page, so we’re going to break our trips down with a summary of our time spent on each road trip up until we became full timers. We haven’t been able to blog about each location as initially hoped.  We can blame it on poor internet connectivity and poor time management – having too much fun to find time to blog – but then we need the blog to help us remember what we’ve done!

Let’s break this down to our first two trips:

1st and 2nd Trip

Dates 9/5-7/2013 & 9/17-21/2013

We bought our Keystone Cougar X-lite RV on September 4, 2013 at Camping World, Tampa, FL.  We had looked at Class A motor homes for about 3 years, but when it came to buy one, we couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. But we needed an RV for our upcoming month long stay near our new grandson.  I’ve blogged about that journey here. We about gave up on buying anything when we stopped at “just one more” RV show.  This time Bill said let’s look in everything. We parked at the same time next to a brand new Ford F-150 Ecoboost.  The new proud owner said he was there to look at 5th wheels to tow.  We were shocked you could tow one, so we headed to the first 5th wheel we saw.  We stepped inside and were so impressed. Then a man came in and said randomly, “Can you believe, you can tow this with a Ford F-150 Ecoboost?” We were hooked and long story short, we bought ours the next day! And it was the end of the year sales on the Ford Trucks, so what a great time to buy a new 2013 truck! The RV salesman gave us two free nights to stay just a mile from the store at Tampa East RV Resort. Even thought it poured down rain our first night, we felt we were at “home.”

So we went home and began to plan our “maiden voyage” to Port St. Lucie RV Resort. We lived about smack dab in the middle of these two resorts, so around a two hour drive to our home. Again, we were so comfortable, we couldn’t wait to make our first trip up to Fredericksburg, Virginia to spend a month with our first grandson.


10/4-12/1/2013 (56 nights)

10/4-12/1/2013 (56 nights)

Our daughter had to return to work when her baby was 2 months old.  So we suggested coming up for a month to watch him so he wouldn’t start day care until he was 3 months old. What a blessing that was! We were excited to get there, but to also begin some fun adventures in our new RV.  So we stopped at Jekyll Island, South Carolina (#2 on map) for our first stop on the way up the coast. There was great history (we did a self guided walking tour as well as the tram tour) and fabulous beaches. A very serene island! We enjoyed church at the friendly and historic Baptist Church. What a great time and we vowed we would return one day! But so far, we haven’t….By the way, we love the beach, which was one thing we had in common when we first met!

Bill researched and discovered the closest RV parks that were right on the beach were in Myrtle Beach. While it sounded good, I (Debbie) was a bit concerned about all the sand getting into our moving parts, our slides! But my fears were alleviated when I saw we were actually on the other side of dunes and on a concrete slab.  So we stayed in Ocean Lakes Campground (#3 on map) and discovered Myrtle Beach is the best beach for a long walk! We vowed we would return and we have!

After staying on the beach, it was time to go learn how to be grand parents. So off we were to the Fredericksburg/Washington DC KOA Campground (#4 on map), just a few miles from our daughter’s home. This resort is very nice, but I don’t know how bigger RV’s make it down the narrow and winding road. It is very convenient from I-95 but far enough away that you don’t hear the road noise.  We stayed here for 40 nights and loved every second we had with our precious grand baby. If not for the fun so far in our RV, I may have put my foot down and said we need to move back to Fredericksburg….but that would have not gone over very well with Bill since he vowed he would never move back there due to the traffic!  But I digress.

Bill has a knack for finding interesting places to visit.  So after some research, he selected Forest Lake RV (#5 on map), Advance, North Carolina. We didn’t blog about this stay, but we had a blast.  However, this campground was  a bit lacking in ambience, but it had all the amenities we needed (full hook ups). And the bonus was that since  I post on Facebook where we are, we were able to meet up with a long lost cousin and had a great time touring the Billy Graham Library and Museum with them.  We also had some great hiking (Boone’s Cave, Lexington, NC) as we discovered in 2003 how much we love to hike in the mountains. We both love history, so finding interesting places to visit, coupled with either mountains or beaches makes for a lot of fun and adventure for us.

Speaking of history, our next stop was in Milledgeville, Georgia, the first state capital of Georgia. The campground name was very deceiving but the history we stumbled on made up for the basic campground, Scenic Mountain RV Resort (#6 on map).  Good parts about the “resort” (a term that doesn’t really do it justice) was that it was conveniently located to the wonderful history, the price was excellent (Passport America), laundry room was nice, and the NEW staff was super friendly and helpful. The downside was that most of people in the resort were full time residents.  That tends to change the “ambiance” of a park. What we loved about Milledgeville was that it is a small college town and the historic area has been fabulously preserved. We visited several mansions, but our favorite was the Old Capital Museum.  The Docent or tour guide was a college student studying history. What a bonus and it was our favorite historical tour to date. We enjoyed church at Covenant Presbyterian Church – same name as our church in Sebring. As for hiking, we couldn’t find that scenic mountain! But one mansion we toured had a great self-guided walking tour of the grounds, a good one mile walk.

And the final location, Panama City Beach RV Resort (#7 on map). You get what you pay for! This was our most expensive resort to date, but it was absolutely fabulous! I’m not good at keeping track of how much we spend, but it was around $45 and they did give Good Sam Club discount. We actually met friends here (they camped in a pop-up tent in the Saint Andrews State Park, within walking distance) there for the Thanksgiving Holiday. The bad news was that it was the coldest week ever! The water was turned off one night due to the freezing temperatures. But hanging out with friends made it OK.  We enjoyed an evening at their campsite with a campfire cooked dinner (yummy!) and they came to our camper for a warm Thanksgiving dinner inside (it was so cold outside). We each prepared part of the meal so it was no burden for anyone. We had planned to cook a turkey in our new stove…what a shock when we finally looked inside it.  You can only cook a pan of brownies in it! So we did cheat and let Publix cook the turkey for us. Now the best lesson we learned here was when to travel.  The absolutely worst day to try and drive, especially when it was a normally 7 hour trip, is the Sunday after a holiday.  It took us 11 hours to get home. NOT FUN towing a 5th wheel.  What is so sad is that since we are retired, there was no rush to get home and we wished we had stayed another day or found a place to stop about 1/2 home. So we vowed we will limit our travel days and actually learned the best days to travel are Tuesdays and Thursdays for some reason. And we absolutely loved the long journey and the 56 nights!


12/18/2013-1/7/2014 (

12/18/2013-1/7/2014 (23 nights)

We learned how to be flexible this time out. Our grandson became ill and couldn’t be in day care. I can pack a suitcase in about 30 minutes, so I flew up as fast as I could get to the airport. We had planned to return for Christmas, but not sure if the weather would allow it. We had two weeks to decide. Bill joined me about two weeks later, towing the RV!  So he made his first trip by himself, traveling to Jolly Time Acres, St. George, SC. It was a Passport America campground, basic, but the friendly staff made it pleasant. Bill learned he can hook up and unhook the 5th wheel by himself as well as do all the setting up. Then he headed back to the Fredericksburg/Washington DC KOA campground again, for our second stay. That was over 800 miles in two days! But since he traveled mid-week, traffic wasn’t bad. We had a fantastic Christmas, having a grandbaby made it so special. My sister and her husband live about 2 hours away from our daughter, so it was great that they came up for the day and we meet again a few days later.

Our trip home was back to the beach, Myrtle Beach, but this time, PirateLand.  It was next door virtually to Ocean Lakes. We ended up preferring PirateLand because they give the Good Sam Club discount. Both are equally good, although Ocean Lakes may have a bit more ambiance!  This winter was unusual, so we were told, so it was a bit cold. In fact, the day we left it was 19 degrees! As Bill unhooked the water, some dripped as usual, but it froze the minute it hit the concrete pad! Thanks again to FaceBook, we got up with an old prayer partner from our first church in New Jersey. So we hung out with him some, had dinner together, visited his home and learned more about the area.  Our final leg of the trip home was to stay in the Jacksonville North/St. Mary’s KOA. We joined KOA so earned enough points for a free night! This KOA is very convenient to I-95. The staff is outstanding and of course, there are all the normal amenities. Plus it has a nice layout that we could get in a two mile walk at night.  By now, we have spend a total of 87 nights in our RV and towed it 4,627 miles.  We are beginning to dream about going full-time!

FIFTH ROAD TRIP and last before we become full-timers!

3/22-5/20/2014 (55 nights)

3/22-5/20/2014 (55 nights)

Time for our spring visit to our daughter to celebrate her birthday and our anniversary (in the same month, so we make a big deal for both every year). Might as well see as much as possible as we have the luxury of time for this road trip.  We stayed at 9 resorts and this time decided to add the mountains to our return trip. But was you may begin to notice, we are returning to some of our favorite places, if nothing else, they are convenient for our trek between Florida and Virginia.

First stop is back to the Jacksonville North/St. Mary’s KOA. It had been about 10 weeks since we were out in the RV.  It was in the shop nearly the whole time getting a bunch of warranty repairs taken care of. We also began to sell off our rental properties as we now have the vision to go full time.  So Bill had to do a lot of labor (worked 7 days a week for three weeks – but took time off for Church) as he prepared some of the houses for sale. We are learning as we age, we need to take our time doing things (like packing) so we had a great list of everything we knew we needed as we planned for nearly two months on the road. But of course, we forgot the wonderful lunch we had packed for our arrival to the KOA (it’s only about 4 hours from home), rain gear, shower soap, and dish soap. Thank goodness for Walmart for the little things, but guess we’ll get wet if it rains (main thing is to use while Bill may empty our tanks in the rain).

We initially planned to go to Cedar Creek, NC from here, but when we woke up, we heard Myrtle Beach calling us! What a draw it has on us.  We stayed back in PirateLand. This time we toured historic Georgetown. We arrived in summer clothes, but quickly had to bundle up! We loved the history of the rice plantations. We didn’t know that this area was the rice capital of the US until after the Civil War. We only stayed here 3 days as we needed to get to our daughter’s to help them get their townhome ready to sell.

Who would have known we’d be trying to sell our homes at the same time as our daughter.  But it  helped that Bill is a good painter and really can do about any work needed around a house. So that was how he kept himself occupied while I took care of our grandson, who had a cold. Then Bill got sick as a dog with the flu! He was down and out for about 5 days. I ended up with strep throat, but caught it right away so I only missed one day. So without going into great detail, we needed a week off, so we headed down to Cedar Point, NC for 4 days.  We had a great time, discovered Emerald Isle; met up with our family’s Marine who gave us a tour of Camp LaJune and had dinner with his family (he and his wife have a son and twin girls); toured Fort Macon and learned more civil war history, and found a few places for some good walks. It was a really full four days! Then back to Fredericksburg to work and find time to celebrate our anniversary and our daughter’s birthday.

Sadly, it was time to leave our grandson. We never knew a baby boy could change our lives like he did!  But then, there was another Baby Boy who changed the world! We are looking forward to celebrating His Birthday this CHRISTmas!

So off we were to return to Florida via the mountains, after all, it was now spring time. We decided we wanted to travel on the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway.  We did make the entire Skyline Drive and it was pleasant enough, just a bit too slow since we were meeting friends.  So much to see and so little time! We actually thought about returning and possibly boon docking on the parkway, but decided we’re addicted to the luxury of full hook ups!

We stayed at the entrance of the Skyline Drive to get us oriented (and pay $10 for a week of on and off the parkway). I blogged about our stay at North Fork Resort in Front Royal, Virginia. Let’s just say we loved the mountains but we probably won’t return to this particular resort! It was definitely the worst one so far (and as I write this after 39 stays, it is still the worst one). Why?  The way they treated us! It had the basics we needed, full hook up, but the initial phone call for the reservation should have been a clue they don’t like “strangers.” And it went downhill from there….

Our next stop at the Staunton/Walnut Hills KOA had to be better and it was like night and day! WOW, they made us feel so welcome and couldn’t do enough to make sure our stay was the best.  And this one ranks up there as one of the best! We were asked if we’d like to back up to the lake for one thing. Awesome! The “neighbors” who watched were a hoot and very friendly! We loved this place alone and will return one day! Sadly, we haven’t had time to blog about it, but I’m inserting a photo gallery to capture the essence!

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No blog for the next two stops, either.  Next, was a short drive so we stopped over night and had a full day to see the sights.  We stayed at Yogi Bear’s Jelly Stone Camp Resort  at Natural Bridge, Virginia. What a nice campground and beautiful sight this was. We didn’t stay longer because we had a deadline to meet up with our friends. We want to return and spend more time here and especially see the night time Natural Bridge Light show, which tells the story of creation.

Our next stop was Mount Airy where we stayed at the Mayberry Campground. This was a love at first sight experience! From the initial greeting at the office, to the site, the sights around town and the hiking, we vowed to return and we have! We stayed three days and they were three of the most relaxing days of all! No wonder Andy Griffith was such a charming and sweet man! This town raises them that way!

Our next stop was our driving force to get us finally to Ashland, NC. We had wanted to visit here for the 10 years we lived in Fredericksburg but just never made the time.  This is one of our best experiences, really enjoyed the church we found, had great hiking and camping with friends – the same friends we spent Thanksgiving with at Panama City Beach. Thankfully, I managed to find time to blog about this GREAT time with our dear friends! Not sure if I ever mentioned, they were the ones who encouraged us to try the mountains for a vacation.

It was now time to get back along the coast, to I-95 to bee-line our way home to Sebring.  But first, we spend a fabulous 6 days in Charleston, NC.  I was able to blog about this great historical city.  The campground was very basic, full hooks ups and a decent enough laundry room. The location was good as we drove both south and north to see all the sights. We tried to see everything so we wouldn’t have to return. We think we succeeded this time. I guess I didn’t mention that part of the reason we are in North Carolina so much is to see if there is a location we would eventually want to settle down in – since Bill doesn’t want to live in Fredericksburg again.  I’m OK with that, but my only request is that we live only about 5 hours from our grandson. So far, nothing has really hit us. But Myrtle Beach is the biggest draw, but we don’t think we could live in a resort town again. We lived in Virginia Beach for 7 years. It is also beyond my mandatory 5 hour drive!  LOL!

Our journey is about to come to an end on May 20, 2014, with another overnight stay at the Jacksonville/St. Mary KOA.  We’re so glad these excursions ended on such a positive note. We’re now ready to make the plunge.  Miraculously, all of our rental homes sold in the depressed market and didn’t kill us too badly (we had a lot of solid equity). So now for the last one to sell – our own home, as well as Bill’s motorcycle (sold the day we “listed it” to someone who had expressed an interest). And to get rid of everything! So in the midst of all this, our daughter’s home sold and they bought a much larger home. So praise God, we’ll gave her a lot of our furniture! We love how things just manage to work out.

But we had no idea how busy our June was about to become because we also have a date to travel to Illinois to spend 10 days with Bill’s mom (June 26-July 8, 2014). We were approaching six weeks of not seeing our grandson – and it’s my birthday and Father’s Day mid-June. So we decided to just drive our car up and stay in a hotel for a “quick trip” from June 12-June 21. We could help our daughter move out of her house along with the celebrations.  And wouldn’t you know it, we listed our house right before we left and it sold on June 15 with a closing date of July 15! Talk about adventures! What a whirlwind June and July became!  We blogged about it here, where we ended up becoming Full Time RVers – on July 15, 2014!

Map of our first five travels “live”

How is it going?

We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!

But a question we’ve been asked:

What do you like about being full timers?

Every day is an adventure! We just spent three weeks back in Sebring to visit family (most important) but we had oodles of appointments; we discovered our storage shed was compromised (water) so we had to clean it out; and we ended up putting in new insulation on our underbelly.  So we would categorize the time there as being in the “real world.”

It is a simple, minimalistic lifestyle – which we love!  In fact, we feel like we are the 20 year olds that met 40 years ago and got married without a dime to our names, and in fact, I brought some debt along (college and a car).  Thankfully, we are debt free and we now have more than a few dimes to rub together.

Not just anyone can do this, though.  We discovered yesterday, a travel day and a “real world” day that you have to be flexible and be able to go with the flow! So to do this, you have to be very FLEXIBLE!

So today, we’re off to explore one of the hidden treasures of the Myrtle Beach area, Brook Green Gardens:  http://www.brookgreen.org

How Our RV Travel Adventures Started

Bill on top of a peak in Stokes County, NC

Bill on top of a peak on Hanging Rock in Stokes County, NC. This is significant because he is terrified of heights!

Click here for a post about us going full time, which was official on July 15, 2014

HOW OUR RV TRAVEL ADVENTURE STARTED:  In August 2013, we turned a new chapter in our lives as we both began to turn 60 (Bill first).  Two things happened:  Our first grandchild was born, and, we came out from under “work” obligations (we owned rental properties but Bill officially stopped working in the “real” world in Nov. 2004 when I was transferred to Miami and I retired in February 2006.  And then I worked part time for our local sheriff and school board for five years).

We are so blessed that these two things happened at the same time and in fact, have to give Glory to God as it all was really a miracle! So we now had a dilemma, our grand baby boy is over 800 miles from our home.   Bill is now ready to enjoy the retirement we planned for many years ago and be able to enjoy our grand baby.  AND we want to travel.  So we bought a 5th Wheel and now take our home with us wherever we go, which includes frequent visits with him!

We are now both in our sixties (just barely) and we see a need for Adventure Travel columns or blogs to help us along.  We actually subscribe to a few and decided we would add our own flavor.  Maybe we can inspire someone else.  We welcome comments, questions and individual contact.


KOA Fredericksburg, VA, 10/10-11/19 (40 nights)

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This is our 5th campground since we bought our RV on September 4, 2013.  At the conclusion, we decided these were the best 40 days of our life!  We arrived a few days before Jessica went back to work after maternity leave and before Colin’s 3rd month of life.  We were only six miles from them, so it was convenient.

We got a 30 day discounted price, but we ended up staying a bit longer as well.  We decided it was worth the extra price as tIMG_3883his is a very nice campground.  We could walk about two miles every night, if we didn’t mind  a circle or two!  Here is a picture of Jessica walking with her dad and pushing Colin when we first arrived!

We also began hiking with Jessica and Colin on Saturdays.  We had several birthdays to celebrate, so we meet my sister, her husband, her son and grandson  two times, once in Richmond and once in Williamsburg.  It is great being close to them.   The picture to the right is a picture of my sister and her grandson, our daughter and me (Debbie) during our visit to Richmond.  And to the left is Bill, grandpa, holding our precious Colin!  We think he likes us because he smiles at us all the time!  : – )Grandpa

IMG_3877I like to end with a spiritual note of some sort.  So as we think about 40 days (or nights) I think of the spiritual significance of this number in the Bible!  We know Jesus was tempted in the desert for the same length of time!  I’m sure during that time, it felt like forever – but then the Lord knows what forever is, so it was maybe like seconds for him!  For us, this time also flew by but at the same time, we savored every minute!

Charleston, SC, May 13-19, 2014

Middleton Plantation

Middleton Plantation

Part of our Adventure Travels is to learn as much history as we can in the place where the history was made.  And Charleston, SC is one fabulous city (and surrounding areas) to learn and see as much history in it’s original locations.

We actually stayed at Lake Aire RV Park and Campground, Hollywood, SC, about 15 miles from downtown Charleston.  This was a nice campground for the price!  It was actually a great location for two days of our sightseeing days.

Our first day, I discovered I had lost my ear buds to my iPhone, so that was a priority to replace.  I did a quick search and discovered there was an Apple Store in Charleston, so off we went once set up to buy a replacement set.  While we were out, we saw a sign to Folly Beach.  Good friends had just told us to be sure and visit it, so we also took a drive to check it out!  There was some road construction and we discovered our big truck doesn’t maneuver very well in tight places, like the streets of Folly Beach!  But we were glad we saw it!  It was 90 degrees when we arrived, so it was great to be on a beach!

Day two was supposed to be warm, so we decided to find another beach to visit.  So we learned about Edisto Island, about 30 miles from us.  Wouldn’t you know it, at 80 degrees, it was too cool for us to stay for the day! We stayed as long as we could, and managed to relax and enjoy the beautiful beach and waves….but to be honest, both Myrtle Beach and ALL the beaches we’ve visited in Florida were much nicer.  There is a state park on the Island and maybe that was where we were supposed to be!  We actually thought about changing campgrounds and moving there as it appeared they had room on the internet. But when I called, they were full.  We found a place to park in a beach access lot, which was adequate but there were no restrooms or showers, nothing to rinse your feet off.  I guess we are spoiled!  Here is a slide show if you would like to see it:

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Day 3 was a rainy day.  We had lots of little things to do around the RV and we needed to research how we were going to sightsee!  Bill made a big pot of homemade beef vegetable soup (we don’t talk about this much, but we prefer to cook and eat at “home!”).   We wanted to see some plantations, the museum and historical houses. Individually, it would be expensive, but we were able to buy a Heritage Passport, a ticket to see nine “must-see” historic sites at a 40% savings! Perfect!  So we ran downtown and bought the pass to be ready to start our next day.

We spent day 4 looking at two plantations that were not far from the campground.  We started at Middleton Plantation and spent about 3 hours there!  What a fabulous plantation that has been restored to give you the feel for what it was like back in the day.  Sadly, most of the original buildings had been destroyed.  To tour the house, there was an additional $15 charge and we knew we had many other mansions to see.  But we enjoyed the rice field with a live demonstration of what it took to grow and harvest rice, interpreted by a historian dressed in the part, and who actually does the work!  Then we took a tour called, “Meet the Breeds” where we were introduced to all the animals the Middletons owned.  From the website:

“First settled in the late 17th century with its main family residence constructed in 1705, Middleton Place was acquired through marriage by Henry Middleton in 1741 and for a century and a quarter was the family seat of four generations of Middletons who played important roles in American history. Today a National Historic Landmark, it has miraculously remained under the same family stewardship for some 320 years. Henry Middleton was the second president of the First Continental Congress and his son Arthur, a passionate revolutionary, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

“Arthur’s son, a second Henry, was Governor of South Carolina and Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia, and his son Williams, an ardent secessionist, signed the Ordinance of Secession. Middleton Place encompasses America’s oldest landscaped gardens that the Garden Club of America has called “the most important and most interesting garden in America,” a house museum with extraordinary family furniture, silver, porcelain, rare books and portraits (by Theus, West and Sully) all returned by descendants of the first Middletons, and the rejuvenated 18th and 19th -century plantation stableyards interpreting the activities of enslaved Africans.” (https://www.middletonplace.org/history.html)

Our pictures and one from the website of Middleton Plantation:

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Then we went down the road to see Drayton Hall, circa 1738.  This was very unique, a “preserved” historic home.  We couldn’t take any pictures inside, we took a few pics outside.  You can visit their website and here is their basic statement:

“Drayton Hall is different. It’s the real thing, and we are bound by our mission to preserve the property—that is, to keep it in near-original condition just as the National Trust received it from the Drayton family in 1974.

“Instead of being restored to the vision of those who lived centuries after it was built, Drayton Hall is an artifact that has survived the American Revolution, the Civil War, the earthquake of 1886, hurricanes like Hugo, and maybe most surprisingly today, urban sprawl.

“On top of that, it’s not just that it’s a survivor. The main house is considered one of the finest examples of Georgian-Palladian architecture in the United States. The grounds represent one of the most significant, undisturbed historic landscapes in America. And Drayton Hall’s stories—stories of race, family, culture, sacrifice, innovation, and preservation—reveal who we are and where we’ve come from.”

We didn’t take pictures of the “river walk” we took after a wonderful tour inside by a great tour guide.  We really enjoyed both of these plantations!  They offered a great contrast in the way history is “preserved” so to speak!

Day 5, Saturday, May 17, 2014 (I recommend touring all the houses on a Saturday):

1)  We started down at Charleston Harbor, touring the Edmondson-Alston House.  From the website:

“The house was built in the late Federal style by Scottish shipping merchant Charles Edmondston at the height of his commercial success. In 1825, it was one of the first substantial houses to be built along the city’s sea wall away from the noisy wharves and warehouses further up the Peninsula. But a decade later, economic reversals during the Panic of 1837 forced Edmondston to sell his house. It was purchased by Charles Alston, a member of a well-established Low Country rice-planting dynasty who quickly set about updating the architecture of his house in the Greek Revival style. Among the features Alston added were the third story piazza with Corinthian columns, a cast-iron balcony across the front, and a rooftop railing bearing the Alston coat of arms.

“In the 1840s and 1850s, business visitors were received on the first floor while the family’s intellectual and social diversions took place in the drawing rooms on the floor above.

“The house has remained in the Alston family since 1838. Many pieces of the family’s 19th century furniture, books, and other personal belongings remain in the house – much as they have since the Alstons witnessed the dramatic events of the Civil War.

“The striking Greek Revival interiors, fascinating collections of the family portraits, furniture and silver and maritime views from the piazza make the Edmondston-Alston House an unforgettable part of any Charleston adventure. The house museum is managed by the Middleton Place Foundation, a not-for-profit educational trust.”

We forgot to take pictures of the outside of the house and weren’t allowed to take them inside.  But we took a few pics off the balcony of the harbor: 


2)  The next tour was of the Nathaniel Russell House, built in 1808.  I especially loved the history of this house and the most dramatic free-flying staircase.  From the website:

“Nathaniel Russell was born in Bristol, Rhode Island. He settled in Charleston at the age of 27 in 1765, when Charleston was a bustling seaport. By 1774, Charleston boasted a per capita of wealth nearly four times that of all the American colonies. Russell’s career as a merchant involved the shipment of cargoes to and from New England, the West Indies, South America, Virginia, Great Britain, continental Europe, West Africa and Asia.

“While most of his profits came from the exportation of staples, such as Carolina Gold rice, indigo, tobacco and cotton, Russell handled a broad range of imported goods. He also participated in the African slave trade both before and after the American Revolution.

“In 1788 Russell married Sarah Hopton (1752-1832), daughter of one of Charleston’s wealthiest pre-Revolutionary era merchants. Two daughters were born to the Russells, Alicia in 1789 and Sarah in 1792. The house remained in the Russell family until 1857 when it was purchased by Governor R.F.W. Allston (1801-1864) and his wife, Adele Petigru (1810-1896). Later, after serving as a school for the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy from 1870-1905, the Russell House was converted back to a private residence. It remained so until 1955, when the Foundation purchased the site and opened the house for public tours.”

We didn’t take pictures, but I was able to get these off literature.  This staircase was breathtaking!  You have to see it in person.  The public can no longer walk up the stairs to further preserve them.  All I thought about was how much our daughter would have loved this staircase!

3)  Aiken-Rhett House, circa 1820.  This is a “preserved” house, meaning it is in it’s original condition.  What was most fascinating was that it is an urban plantation!  We took lots of pictures outside.  Again, great history from the website:

“The Aiken-Rhett House Museum, 48 Elizabeth Street, is unique in many ways. For example, it remained in the hands of family descendents for 142 years until it was sold to The Charleston Museum and opened as a museum house in 1975. Historic Charleston Foundation purchased the house in 1995 and adopted a conservation approach to the interpretation of this important house and its outbuildings.

“Located on the corner of Judith and Elizabeth streets, Charleston merchant John Robinson built the house in 1820 as a typical Charleston double house with a central hallway and two rooms on either side. The original front entrance was located on Judith Street, where the piazza, a Charleston term for a double side porch, is now located. When Robinson lost five ships at sea in 1825, he was forced to sell the house to meet his financial obligations. Subsequently, it became the property of William Aiken Sr. in 1827.

“Aiken, an Irish immigrant who had accumulated a large fortune as one of the city’s leading merchants, used the house as a rental property. When he died suddenly in a carriage accident, his vast holdings were divided between his wife, Henrietta Wyatt Aiken, and his only son, William Aiken Jr.

“In 1833, the young William Aiken and his new bride, Harriet Lowndes, decided to make the house their primary residence. They began an extensive renovation of the property. Three main changes took place: the front entrance was moved, the first floor was reconfigured, and a large addition was built onto the house. By all accounts, they created one of the most impressive residences in Charleston.

“A successful businessman, rice planter, distinguished politician and governor of South Carolina, William Aiken Jr. was one of the state’s wealthiest citizens. Following a well-established tradition among Charleston’s elite, Governor Aiken and his wife traveled in Europe and returned with magnificent fine art and furnishings. In 1858, while abroad, Governor Aiken commissioned his cousin, Joseph Daniel Aiken, to design and oversee the construction of an art gallery, the only one of its kind in the city. Today, many of the objects acquired by the Aikens on their travels remain in the rooms for which they were purchased.

“The Aiken family library, containing more than 2000 volumes mostly published in the 1800s, has recently been transferred to the Charleston Library Society archives and placed on long-term loan. Many of the books are signed by family members and were purchased on their travels through Europe.

“Prior to the Civil War, the Aiken-Rhett House was maintained by a population of highly skilled enslaved African Americans who worked to sustain the Aikens’ high standards for elegant living and entertaining. Occupations within the household included carriage drivers, cooks, footmen, gardeners, laundresses, nursemaids, and seamstresses. A post Civil War document reveals the names of 14 slaves that lived at the Aiken-Rhett House and attended the family: Tom and Ann Greggs, and their son, Henry; Dorcas and Sambo Richardson and their children, Charles, Rachel, Victoria, Elizabeth, and Julia; Charles Jackson, Anthony Barnwell, and two carpenters, Will and Jacob. Many of these individuals remained in Charleston following Emancipation, and Jacob Gaillard and Henry Greggs lived and worked at the Aiken-Rhett House until their deaths in 1896 and 1908.

“The back lot of the Aiken-Rhett House is where the slaves worked and lived, and they probably took their meals communally in the kitchen. A unique site, the Aiken-Rhett House retains both original outbuildings. One is the kitchen and laundry and the other a carriage and stable house, above which are found sleeping quarters. Many of the rooms had fireplaces, and paint evidence suggests these rooms were painted vibrant colors.

“William Aiken, Jr. died at his summer home in Flat Rock, North Carolina, in 1887. He left his property to his wife and daughter. Harriet Aiken continued to live in the house until her death in 1892. Her daughter, Henrietta, and son-in-law, Major A.B. Rhett, raised their four sons and one daughter in the house. Upon Henrietta’s death, the house was divided between her children and their heirs. Two sons, I’On Rhett and Andrew Burnet Rhett, Jr. continued to live in the house until the mid twentieth century.”

My pictures:

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4)  The last house was the Joseph Manigault House, built in 1803.  The most significant thing about this man was that thanks to him, there is a fabulous historic museum of Charleston history and more!  We love museums and actually toured it before this house. We were pretty beat as these tours and all the stairs were wearing us out, so we weren’t going to see it.  But after learning something about him at the museum, we cut that short and came to see the house!  From the website:

“One of Charleston’s most exquisite antebellum structures, the Joseph Manigault House, built in 1803, reflects the urban lifestyle of a wealthy, rice-planting family and the enslaved African Americans who lived there. An exceptional example of Federal period architecture, this elegant townhouse, a National Historic Landmark, was designed for Joseph Manigault by his brother Gabriel, who is also credited with designing Charleston’s current City Hall.

“A striking spiral staircase accents the impressive central hall, and many of the rooms are restored to their original color schemes. All feature historic pieces from the Museum’s collections including a selection of American, English and French furniture dating to the early 19th century. Outside, a classical Gate Temple overlooks a period garden, and the locations of adjacent historical outbuildings (e.g., kitchen and slave quarters, stable, and privy) are marked with interpretive signs.

“Descending from French Huguenots who fled religious persecution in Europe in the late 1600s, the Manigaults prospered as rice planters and merchants during the 18th century and became one of South Carolina’s leading families. Joseph Manigault inherited several rice plantations and over two hundred slaves from his grandfather in 1788, and also married well. Arthur Middleton, father of his first wife, Maria Henrietta Middleton, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Following Henrietta’s death, he married Charlotte Drayton, with whom he had eight children. The Charleston Museum purchased the house in 1933, and has preserved and interpreted it ever since.”

This is what we saw as we walked out of the museum and you will see why we had to tour inside:

Joseph Manigault House

Joseph Manigault House

5)  Last but not least, we visited The Charleston Museum.  We could have spent most of the day just in the museum.  We were about saturated with history, so we ended up only staying about an hour.  It was one of the best we’ve seen and perhaps we will return one day and just enjoy it!  I did find something cute to buy Colin!

Speaking of Colin, he is 9 months old today!  No official picture of him from today, but here is an adorable one of him a few days ago!  He is ever on my mind!

Colin about 9 months

Our last day in Charleston was Sunday, so we attended Palmetto Community Church, not far from the campground.  It was unique (although it was my style-contemporary, but Bill prefers traditional).  We always pray our worship will be pleasing to God and that He will have a special message for us.  And He did!  The catch phrase was about checking our attitude to see our altitude (and focus of our hearts).  Pilots look on the horizon to see their altitude:  then to look up to go higher – and that was the message.  He gave great scriptures and I think to just read them as one long thought, you can get the powerful sermon!

Proverbs 4:23; Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:2; 1 John 4:4; Galatians 6:9.  Above all else, guard your heart….Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

We went home for lunch and then had to decide where our next stop was as well as figure out how to make the most of our last day in Charleston.  I thought Bill had decided St. Augustine would work best.  We had tried a few places the night before, but couldn’t get them to work.  So I tried a place and actually made us a reservation.  When Bill gave it more thought, he decided against it.  Seeing how I have a bad rash, perhaps from poison ivy (or a reaction to a series of bug bites) but it was a bit contentious for us!   We finally settled on just driving about 3 hours Monday and 4 hours on Tuesday.   We decided we would go take a boat trip over to Fort Sumter.  On the way there, I read very negative reviews on Trip Advisor.  We decided to not go, but to look for a park to go take a good walk.  There appeared to be so many places, it should have been easy to find a place.  Well, a bit more contentious as we did something we said we should never do – drive without knowing where we are going.  Our truck is very comfortable, but it doesn’t like to make quick u-turns or go down narrow streets.   So long story short, we cancelled that out and went to get gas.  Um, about the sermon and our attitudes…we were being put to the test!

As Bill was gassing up, he saw a big screw in the sidewall of one tire.  How does one handle that?  Well, seeing how we were right be a Walmart with an auto and tire center, we began to praise God – that we found it today and not when we were driving down the highway pulling our rig!  We felt so blessed but yet we had some contention after a GREAT sermon!  Ha, isn’t that just like the Lord to test you?  Or were we testing HIM???

Well, we had a great nights sleep and took our time heading south the next morning!   This is our last exciting place for a while….so stay tuned while we figure out what is next!

Campfire Lodgings, Asheville, NC 5/9-13/2014

The view

Our friend enjoying the view!

We have stayed in some very nice “resort” campgrounds.  But we’ve noticed, we don’t spend any time there!  We take off for the day, to sightsee or be with our grandson.  So finally, we spent most of our time in Asheville – at the campground!  We did pay more for this one, as with some of the other private resort campgrounds, and finally felt we got our monies worth.  We do attribute this to the fact we met friends there and they know how to camp!  This was our second time to camp with them and it made it really special.

For one, they love making a campfire, so we really enjoyed it, especially the food cooked on it.  While our particular sites didn’t have the view (covered by trees) we did take time and sat and enjoyed the view from this common area, where my friend is fully enjoying the beautiful view!  We all sat here for a few hours, soaking it up!

The ride up the mountain to the top to the campground was a bit challenging.  All we could think about was what if a Class A motor home was coming down the hill towards us!  There was only room for one vehicle!  But they said they have never had a problem as everyone comes and goes during the proper check in and check out times.  Well, everyone except us!  We arrived early.  Oh well, no one was coming down late.  The manager said that if someone is coming in extra early, they will block the road so only one vehicle is on it.  We talked to several owners of bigger RVs and no one seemed bothered by the drive up.  I guess that means we are still rookies.

Our campsite was actually the end site for RVs.  We were told that all the wild life comes up to our site early in the morning, so we hoped to see some…but while eating dinner our first night, we had a visitor, a wild turkey! Wild TurkeyThat was about it for the wildlife.  We were cautioned about leaving food outside as there had been some black bear activity.  We did enjoy a short hike on a trail nearby, but we didn’t have that much excitement…

Our second day there, Saturday, we went downtown Asheville to shop at Mast General Store.  Bill and I needed new hiking boots and I needed a new pair of hiking pants.  They gave us GREAT service! We were amazed at how vibrant the downtown was.  Busy busy busy!  Bill had to search for a place to park.  Our truck doesn’t like old downtowns where the parking places a small.  Since we’re not shoppers, so we were happy just going to the one store. Our friends visited a few other stores while we took our time getting fitted.  We were all hungry for dinner, fresh mountain air, so we hurried home to start the grill and campfire.  We had a wonderful dinner enjoying the outdoors.

Sunday, we went to church, which was also Mother’s Day.  We found Walnut Hills  Baptist Church to attend.   It was so vibrant and alive with young people and families!  It was very encouraging!  The sermon was one of those we will remember for a long time!  The pastor used a snickers bar and a diet coke to illustrate his point.  Ask us sometime about it! The rest of the day was pure relaxation – until time to cook an early dinner on the grill and campfire!  We all pitched in, so that helped and was fun.  We did spend a lot of time in the community park for the great views. One of the main things we wanted to see in Asheville was The Biltmore.  Our friends had seen it many times before – and when it was cheaper – so we went after they left Monday (the husband still works).  We didn’t know what to expect, except that it was a place to see.  I was hoping it would be worth the money as it is a bit pricy…but we decided in the end, it was well worth it!  We wanted to take full advantage of all it had to offer, so we were prepared to do some hiking and brought our lunch and lots of water.  The hiking was really more around the grounds but in between the gardens.  I saw one other “hiker” in hiking garb – we looked out of place!  Most people seemed there for a little stroll where as we were dressed for hiking!  It turned out to be just over 3 miles if you take all the side trails and walked all the gardens.  While that was good, we were over dressed in our hiking clothes, but it was a good way to break in our new shoes we bought Saturday.  We needed all the water I managed to carry as it was hot and sunny!

From the website about the gardens:  “Stroll acres of formal and informal gardens designed by America’s foremost landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. From the beauty of the Italian Garden to the breathtaking trees in America’s first managed forest, Biltmore’s lush landscape is a living tribute to Olmsted’s genius. Our horticultural experts continually work to preserve the original vision for the gardens and grounds, including our Rose Garden that features more than 250 varieties. “As a century-old model for forest conservation (and, more recently, for sustainability, thanks to six acres of solar panels), Biltmore continues to honor Vanderbilt’s legacy of environmental protection. “Hike the grounds of our estate at your own pace with our extensive network of trails. Enjoy a walk along the French Broad River, through lush green forests, or the open meadows of Deer Park. Take a stroll on the 2.5 miles of paths in our manicured gardens.” Here is a slide show of our day, not exactly in order:

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After we toured the house and grounds, we went back for our truck, then had to drive a short ways to the Antler Hill Village.  There was more to see there, mainly a showcase for their Vineyards (and wine business – a financial mainstay).  But we wanted to learn more about the family life of the Vanderbilt’s.  So we visited the Biltmore Legacy – a museum of sorts that really gave the family history you barely touched on at the mansion.  After we were done, we decided to really do everything, you needed to be there two days!  And ideally, if we didn’t have the RV, we’d want to stay at the Biltmore Hotel on the grounds.  Everything was so elegant and the staff was second to none!  Just so gracious and pleasant to encounter every where!  To learn more, visit their website, which starts out by saying “Travel to a whole new state of mind!” http://www.biltmore.com

Our time in North Carolina came to an end and we headed south on Tuesday.  We wanted to see so much more, including Maggie Valley.  A dear friend was going to stay in her family’s cottage nearby for a month.  We had hoped to meet up with her, but missed her by 4 days.  So much to see and do and so little time!

Here is a picture of Colin on May 10, his first day at a play ground and in a swing!  I think he likes it! IMG_5098 So as I close, I just looked over some scriptures I bookmarked this year as I read through the Bible.  I really liked these verses and they seem to reflect how I was feeling as we headed south, and farther away from Colin, Psalm 143:8 & 10:

 8Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!

The Start-Adventure Travels

Bill on top of a peak in Stokes County, NC

Bill on top of a peak on Hanging Rock in Stokes County, NC

We have turned a new chapter in our lives.  Two things happened this past August, 2013.  Our first grandchild was born and we came out from under “work” obligations (we owned rental properties).  We are so blessed that these two things happened at the same time and in fact, have to give Glory to God as it all was really a miracle!

So we now had a dilemma, our grand baby boy is over 800 miles from our home.   Bill is now ready to enjoy the retirement we planned for many years ago and enjoy our grand baby.  We want to travel.  So we have bought a 5th Wheel and now take our home with us wherever we go, which includes frequent visits with him!

We are now both in our sixties (just barely) and we see a need for Adventure Travel columns or blogs to help us along.  We actually subscribe to a few and decided we would add our own flavor.  Maybe we can inspire someone else.  We welcome comments, questions and individual contact.

To start this, I decided to go ahead and make this as a “home page” and then link all our travels in separate pages so you can see where we’ve been and what we find fascinating to do in each town or community we visit.  We will intersperse this with pictures and info on the growth of our grand baby as long as his parents allow us!

Here is our travel list itinerary to date.  And as I complete the pages to accompany each one, I will link it to a new page with the new locations.  See # 1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #16, #18, #22 and # 23 for current links.

But first, click here for a post about us going full time, which was official on July 15, 2014.

1). Tampa East, FL, Sun RV resorts, 9/5-9/7/2013 (2 nights)
2)  Port St. Lucie RV Resort, FL, a Passport America Campground, 9/17-9/21/2013 (4 nights)
3). Jekyll Island Campground, 10/4-6/2013 (3 nights)
4).  Ocean Lakes Campground, Myrtle Beach, SC, 10/7-10/2013 (3 nights)
5). KOA Fredericksburg, VA, 10/10-11/19 (40 nights)
6). Forest Lake RV & Camping Resort, 192 Thousand Trails Drive, Advance, NC 27006 11/19-11/22 (3 nights)
7). Scenic Mountain RV Park, 2686 Irwinton Road/Business 441 N, Milledgeville, GA 11/22-11/26 (4 nights)
8). Panama City Beach RV Resort, 4702 Thomas Dr., Panama City Beach, FL 32408, Phone: 850-249-7352;  11/26-12/1 (5 nights) With friends.

64 nights total

9)  Jolly Time Acres, 289 home Taylor Road, St George, SC 29477; Dec 18 (one night)
10). KOA Fredericksburg, 12/19-1/2/2014 (14 nights) Christmas with Jessica
11)  Pirateland, 5401 S. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, SC, 1/2-7/2014 (6 nights)
12). Jacksonville North / St. Marys KOA; 2970 Scrubby Bluff Road; Kingsland, GA;
Phone: 800-562-5220; 1/7-10/2014 (3 nights)

87 nights total

13). Jacksonville North / St. Marys KOA; 3/22/2014 (2nd stay-one night)
14)  Pirateland, 5401 S. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, SC, 3/22-26/2014 (4 nights)
15). KOA Fredericksburg, 3/26-4/13/14 (13 nights) Took Colin to Doc for 7 mo check up.

104 nights total

16)  Waterway RV Resort, 850 Cedar Point Blvd., Cedar Point, NC. 28584; telephone # (888)318-1243; 4/13-18/2014 (5 nights)
17). KOA Fredericksburg 4/18-5/1 (13 nights) Jessica’s birthday
18).  North Fork RV Resort (small spaces-staff not very pleasant); Front Royal, VA 5/1-5/2 (2 nights)
19). Staunton/Walnut Hills KOA; 484 Walnut Hills Road, Staunton, VA. 24401; Telephone # (800) 562-7566; 5/2-5/4/14 (2 nights)
20)  Jellystone at Natural Bridge #160; PO Box 266,16 Recreation Lane, Natural Bridge Station, VA 24579; Phone: 540-291-2727; 5/5-5/6/2014 (1 night)
21). Mayberry Campground; 114 Bunker Road, Mt. Airy, NC; Telephone: 336-789-6199
5/6-5/7/2014 (3 nights)

130 nights total

22).  Campfire Lodgings, 116 Appalachian Village Road, Asheville, NC  28804; Phone (828) 658-8012; 5/9-13/2014 (4 nights)

23). Lake Aire RV Park & Campground, 4375 Hwy 162, Hollywood, SC  29449; Phone:  843-571-1271; 5/13-19/2014 (6 nights) (Toured Charleston, SC)

24). Jacksonville North / St. Marys KOA; 5/19/2014 (3nd stay-one night)

Transition to Full time RVers!
25). Buttonwood Bay, 10001 US 27 Highway South, Sebring, FL 33876. (888-232-1442). 7/8-16/2014
26). Savannah South KOA, 4915 US-17, Richmond Hill, GA, 31324 (912) 756-3396
27) Four Oaks RV Resort, 4596 U.S. Hwy 301 South, Four Oaks NC 27524. 7/17-18/2014.
Please go to this post for our full itinerary.

North Fork RV Resort, Front Royal, VA 5/1-5/2/2014

Entrance to the National Park. There is a $10 fee for 7 days use. Once you hit 62, you just pay $10 for a lifetime pass. Something to look forward to....

Entrance to the National Park. There is a $10 fee for 7 days use. Once you hit 62, you just pay $10 for a lifetime pass. Something to look forward to….

We lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia from 1996 – 2004, but never visited this quaint town before now. In fact, we didn’t start really enjoying the Shenandoah Valley or the Appalachian Mountains until our last year there.  We discovered hiking in July 2003 and loved it – but we moved to Florida in November 2004.

So now was our chance to go back and enjoy some great memories and hike!  And we planned to drive the entire Skyline Drive, which we mistakenly thought was also the Blue Ridge Parkway, which near the Virginia/ North Carolina state line.  Our ultimate destination for this trip was to meet friends at Campfire Resorts in Asheville, NC.

The North Fork RV Resort, part of Passport America’s discount program,  so the price was great and the location perfect for what we wanted to do.  BUT we were pretty shocked at the resort and the front office staff when you either call to make your reservation or when you arrive.  They were not friendly or welcoming.  We now see how important this first impression is and how it sets the tone for your stay.  But first a few positive statements: the price was perfect and the location was great – oh, I already said that….OK for the cons:  This is an owner operated resort so we don’t think they really like “visitors.”  We were clumped in one area and there was not much room for parking our truck. Fortunately, it was off season so we had room, but for some reason, our second night there, we had a neighbor right next door and then we saw how there really was not much room!  Funny, there were so many empty spots, why put someone right next to us? And RULES and SIGNS every where telling you what you could and couldn’t do. I should have taken a picture of a few of them….It was more annoying than any thing and we vowed to not stay here again….

Here is a slide-show of our drive there and then at the RV resort:

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We had a GREAT time as the below slide show reflects.  We were close to the entrance to the National Park which was ideal.  We paid $10 for unlimited entrance to the park for 7 days. It is our plan to drive the Skyline Drive to North Carolina, so we would have had to pay the fee then anyway.

So here are pictures of our first afternoon – the benefit of a short drive to a location!  We had all afternoon to hike! We hiked what is called “Fox Hollow” and Snead Farm, for a total of 5.5 miles! We saw lots of deer and learned more about the history of how the National Park “took” over the homes of about 450 mountain resident families. What we visited at the remains of a barn and root cellar. Learn more here.

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The next day, we decided to visit the Shenandoah Caverns in the morning and hike in the afternoon. We loved the Luray Caverns, so why not? We read the reviews and they said not as nice, but we figured how bad could they be? Maybe a bit pricey and not as cold! We did enjoy them, but Luray Caverns were definitely bigger!  I log how long our hikes are, so even monitored it in the Caverns, which was a total of 1.8 miles!  Then we hiked to the Fort Windham Rocks for another 2.4 miles.

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So while we are here, it has only been a day since we saw Colin, we still received an updated picture of him! I think he misses us already!

Loving being in the mountains!
Psalm 125:2 “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.”

Chapter 28: Starting Adventure Travel

We spent a day at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers, FL

What do you think of when you hear the term, Adventure Travel?  For us, it is our post retirement dream!

For us and the purpose of this blog, it is where we are now, more or less!  We can finally say we are “really” retired.  Isn’t that a common goal for Americans, to become retired?  I (Debbie) officially retired from a 20 year career in law enforcement in February 2006, but I ended up working part time for a few years and have been a regular volunteer.  Bill said he never wanted to “retire” so his path is a bit different.  His goal or end game was to be self-employed.  His first full time experience as being self-employed was as a Snap on Tool Dealer, from 1986-1988, too short of a time, but those were very profitable years for him.  Sadly, that ended when we divorced in December 1988 (but that story has a happy ending:Chapter 2 So why share about our marriage?)  He formally quit the working world in October 2004.  When he quit, he actually had a dream job with Nationwide Insurance as an automotive claims adjuster.

But in 2000, we began working his way back into self-employment as we began our path into retirement.  That was when we invested in our first piece of rental real estate.  When we moved to Florida in November 2004, he went full board into real estate rentals, peaking at owning six rentals homes, but also caring for our home, his mother’s home and helping my parents out from time to time with their home – all of us in the same town.  Needless to say, caring for real estate in Florida is a year around task, especially in the heat of the summer.  We sold his last piece of rental real estate in August, 2013 – a dream come true as we prepared for the end game.

My “retirement dream” was to be a volunteer and work in the community to help make it a better place for all to live.  But as a workaholic, it was hard to stop working, so I started back to work part time for our Sheriff.  That lasted four years and my time there actually introduced me to our community in a unique way.   I made connections that helped me become a volunteer and allowed me to work with some of the most phenomenal people I’ve ever met – let alone have the privilege of volunteering with!  I was able to do this for several years – and this will be hard to leave as we approach our end game – adventure travel!  I’m hoping with technology, I can still be useful!

Bill’s “retirement” dream was to travel all over the United States and Canada in a Class A motor home (one of those big bus-type rigs that pulls your car and tows your motorcycle, also called a Recreational Vehicle or RV).  Bill dreamed about this for at least three years, searching websites for the “perfect” RV and we went to many RV shows.

So here we are, months since Bill was officially retired, although he said he’d never use that word.   But the other day, he asked me, “We are really retired, aren’t we?”   I had to chuckle!

What has happened – why an end game?  Probably the greatest thing a parent could ever hope for – we became grand parents!  And that has rocked our world in a way we never could have imagined!  See, our problem is that we live nearly 900 miles from that precious grandson!  So how can we marry our dream goals?  Well, we are working on that and so far so good!  We are now saying we are adventure travelers – but swinging by our daughter’s to spend as much time as possible with our grandson.

This is a short blog as I prepare to tell more about our transition into full time retirement!  But first, I always love to see what the Bible says about whatever we are doing.  So here are a few of my favorite scriptures (all from ESV) to read as one thinks about retiring, from http://www.openbible.info/topics/retirement:

Jeremiah 29:11

“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.”

Acts 20:24

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Numbers 8:23-26

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.'”

Proverbs 13:22

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.”

Philippians 1:6

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

2 Timothy 4:7

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Proverbs 16:1-3 

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to theLord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.”

Psalm 1:1-6 

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;…

Until next time…


Ocean Lakes Campground, Myrtle Beach, SC, 10/7-10/2013

Myrtle BeachWe weren’t sure about camping in Myrtle Beach, but Bill selected it  because we could camp on the beach!  We had vacationed there in 2000, taking our daughter and two of her friends.  We rented a condo on the beach and to put it kindly, we weren’t impressed!  Maybe because we had three wild and crazy high school graduates!
But after this stay, I can tell you that we ended up falling in love with it! Because we were right on the beach and we do love the beach. We discovered this is the best beach to walk on that we’ve seen in all of our years of visiting beaches. Bill’s parents told us it was their favorite beach as well-and for that very reason.

This is a picture of the walk way from our campsite to the beach.  We were able to walk on it twice a day, except one night when it did get too cold and windy.

We really liked the campground, but the sites were a bit too close and was more expensive than we would have preferred!  BUT, we were right on the beach.

We had brought own prepared dinner, baked ziti, but ran out the last night.  So we had to decide what to buy for dinner.  And this is why we decided we didn’t like Myrtle Beach the first time, we weren’t impressed with the restaurants.  So we decided just to get a pizza since we had lots of fresh salad.  Can you believe we couldn’t get a decent pizza?  So we have to make sure we plan our home made meals better next time!

We were more or less under time constraints to get to our daughters to take care of our new grandson.  Plus we were really just learning how to camp and travel with our new RV.  She had two months off and he was going into daycare.  I thought it best to keep him out another month, so that was really what the push was for us to buy and RV!  I needed a place to live for a month.  Our daughter had converted the guest bedroom into the nursery.

We really didn’t do much and found out you can’t in three day and two nights.  So other than checking out the campground, walking on the beach, and finding no decent pizza, we went to Camping World when it rained one of the two days we were there!

We decided we would return and come for a longer time next time.  But we decided we would try the other large campground next time, for comparison purposes.

We are continuing to praise and thank God for His many blessings!  In spite of the not so great weather for a beach visit, we had a great time! We continue to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)

Here is the latest picture of Colin, sent to us the day we were heading to see him!  Look at that great smile!

Colin is ready for his grandparents visits!

Colin is ready for his grandparents visits!

Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia 10/4-6/2013

Notice for miles the only structure is a water tower.

The best image that shows the serenity we enjoyed!

We had such a great time at Port St. Lucie, we couldn’t wait to start our journey up to Virginia where we would stay in the RV for a month to watch our grandson while his mom returned to work.  Bill does the research on what routes to take and what sites to see. Usually, we have no idea what we are getting into, that is why we say we Adventure Travelers!   Nothing could prepare us for the serenity and fantastic history we enjoyed on Jekyll Island.  We just heard of it, but nothing about it.  We hope to return one day as this is now one of our favorite vacations spots!

We learned something interesting about Georgia.  First of all, the state owns the island and thus the only campground!  The campground would be what we would describe as a bit primitive, after staying in the two resorts so far!  It was very wooded, but it had something about it that reminded us of our daughter’s 14 years at Indian Resort Campground in Sandbridge, Virginia – where my parents owned a RV (trailer) and had a membership.  The worst part about it was that it is very wooded and thus the mosquitos were out!  We had to spray as the state doesn’t spray the island!  Here is a gallery of the campground:

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We both really enjoy history and this island is just a fascinating little piece of early settler history.   The first recorded claim staked was in 1510 by Spain; in 1562, an explorer claimed it for France but lost it soon back to Spain in a battle; between 1663–65, England established grants to land stretching southward from their Jamestown colony to an area below St. Augustine, Florida; but it was General James Oglethorpe from England who established Georgia as a colony in 1733.  Jekyll Island was named shortly thereafter by Oglethorpe in honor of his friend, Sir Joseph Jekyll.  This history was not really showcased, but historical sites still exist from the late 1730s.  General Oglethorpe appointed William Horton to set up a military post in the area to protect Fort Frederica on St Simon’s Island. By 1738 Horton had set up permanent residence on Jekyll Island, near what is now called DuBignon Creek.  At his residence, Horton established a plantation prosperous enough to supply the population at Frederica with beef and corn.  We enjoyed touring the remnants left from the plantation.

The most spectacular and showcased history was when it was developed into a luxury resort for the privileged starting in the late 1880’s.  For this history, which starts on the official website:  http://www.jekyllisland.com/history.  It was so easy to see why this serene island was used by the privileged!

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We decided we needed to experience everything the island had to offer, so we then took a Sunset Dolphin tour.  We did enjoy the boat ride and the sunset…but sadly, we were a bit disappointed in how they find the Dolphins.  We really had to hunt for them and it looked like we wouldn’t see any as we headed back and then we finally saw a lot of them…but as you will see, they were hard to see as none really came close to our boat.  We have had a better Dolphin tour so need to remember to not do one of these again!  lolAs you may know, we love the beach!  while the water wasn’t that inviting, the park area at the beach was fabulous and the beach was worth lots of long walks!

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We can’t wait to return!  More than likely, we will just enjoy the beach!  The only place we were bothered by mosquitos was at the campground at dusk.  There is a driftwood beach we didn’t visit.  Looking forward to it!

So here is how Colin has grown since we last saw him when he was two weeks old!  Here he is on October 2 – 4, 2013,  at six weeks old:

Psalm 127:3-5  “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.”

Port St. Lucie RV Resort, FL, 9/17-21/2013

StLucieRVresort (2)This trip was our “maiden” voyage in our new 5th Wheel RV!  We picked a campground within about two hours of our home, “just in case” and an easy drive.  It was so easy, Bill said I should have driven part of the way!  Our rig handled great, but Bill still had to figure out how to back into a site!  We had asked for a “pull through” but once we were there, it wasn’t such a good site.  So they moved us to one they thought he could easily back into.  People can’t help but watch and gawk a little, especially when they know you are brand new!  So one man watched for a little while and once Bill was in, he ran over and asked if he wanted some advice!  Bill promptly said, “NO!”  It must have been 90 degrees out, summer time in Florida and in-spite of the easy drive, he was covered in sweat – from nerves!  He acted like he didn’t hear the “NO” and proceeded to give Bill a few tips!

First, I do want to give a quick “pros and cons” of this resort.  Pros:  We will visit it again!  Pros:  location was ideal for the beach (6 miles); the resort was clean and well-maintained.  Cons:  Location, 6 miles is really a bit far!  We wished we could walk to the beach from our “beach” resort; it really wasn’t in the best location with a lot of additional amenities close by as we had to drive a bit to shop (but it really wasn’t that bad); the swimming pool was really small and not always open; very small resort and one thing we like is to be able to have a pleasant mile or two walk around ideal resorts.

Here is a slide show of the Port St Lucie RV Resort, which was just 6 miles from Jensen Beach, Florida.

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If you know us, you know we love the beach!  So we spent the days at Jensen Beach and one day, toured the Elliot Museum in Stuart, also close to the Resort.  Here are a few pictures of the beach:

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We love museums but this was one Bill couldn’t wait to see as it boasts housing over 50 of Elliott’s vintage automobiles.  Sadly, the majority are housed behind glass, in a stacked three story tier system that allows one car at a time to be placed in a rotating viewing site.  There were a number of other cars and many fascinating exhibits based upon inventor Sterling Elliott’s passions.  Here are some of our pictures of the museum, followed by information about it.

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From the website:

Tribute to Genius & Generosity: Sterling and Harmon Elliott
Stuart, Florida, and the surrounding region have long been enriched by seasonal residents. Harmon Elliott, son of prolific inventor Sterling Elliott, was among those who have made a mark on this area. To celebrate his father’s work and bring an educational and cultural resource to the region, Harmon provided the principal funds for the original Elliott Museum. In this tribute to his inventive spirit, visitors can learn about how Sterling Elliott was a problem-solving inventor, risk taker, politician, publisher, and social activist.

Stuart Main Street
The Stuart Main Street gallery immerses visitors in historic Stuart and the vehicles that were then part of people’s lives, here and across the nation. Recreated facades of the historic Citizens Bank, the Walter Kitching Store, and Krueger buildings harken back to a time when Stuart was emerging as the thriving community it is today. Visitors will see not only the earliest pioneer motor vehicles that changed Martin County’s and the nation’s dependence upon the horse, but also will learn how Model T Fords eventually brought rural dwellers into town and how trucks changed domestic life by delivering goods and services to homes.

Wheels of Change
Visitors will learn how development of commercial and personal transportation had an impact on people’s lives and America’s culture in a dramatic fashion. These are “everyman” vehicles, once owned and cherished by small business owners and municipalities as they looked to create a more professional presence for themselves and expand their own reach.

Let Your Mind Soar
The Elliott Museum is a very organic building. Not only is it an award-winning “green” building, it was designed to blend in with the landscape, matching the colors and mimicking the textures of sand and local rock. On the northwest corner of the building, in front of the Studio at the Elliott, an installation of colorful beams of different lengths are carefully arranged and painted to take the viewer’s eye on an exhilarating ride. It is the work of artist Peter Freudenberg who had been creating this sculpture in his mind for many years, and who donated this signature work to the museum.

Hugh Willoughby & his Hydro-Aeroplane
Hugh Willoughby, a resident of Martin County, had a lifelong passion for aviation and owned 14 different patents for aircraft devices. Soaring overhead the Stuart Main Street gallery visitors can see a full scale replica of the Pelican Hydro-Aeroplane that Stuart resident Hugh Willougby designed in 1910. The replica was fabricated by Ken Kellett who also built the first airworthy replica of the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer and also was the first person since the Wright Brothers to actually fly the aircraft.

The Elliott Museum has a comprehensive signed collection of baseball-related items including autographed baseball cards, baseballs, bats, and other artifacts. The collection of autographed baseballs now numbers more than 250. The collection sports signatures by players from the Major Leagues, the Negro Leagues, and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). Among the most famous players represented are: Ray Dandridge, the Negro League; Hank Aaron, the Negro and Major Leagues; June Peppas (AAGPBL); and Jackie Robinson, Nolan Ryan, Ted Williams, Derek Jeter, Bob Feller, Ralph Kiner, and Babe Ruth of the Major Leagues.

Our Stories: Treasure Coast History
Featuring items from the Elliott Museum’s General Store, Barber Shop, Dress Shop, to Frances Langford’s Gowns, this exhibit celebrates the life and times of Martin County from its early founding days through progress and innovation. With something for everyone, from Langford fans, to archeologists, the exhibit even lets visitors relive the November 2000 Presidential Election in an original Martin County voting booth. Through paintings by James Hutchinson and Curt Whiticar, the life of the Seminoles and early settlers are explored. While there is more work to be done to interpret and tell the many stories, come explore your favorite pieces of the Elliott Museum’s collection.

Maritime History
In 2013, The Elliott Museum merged with the Maritime & Classic Boat Museum – taking their permanent collection and incorporating it into the permanent collection of the Elliott. On display on our second floor, and throughout the museum, are key pieces from the Maritime & Classic Boat Museum collection. Including Cris Craft boats, boat models, Whiticar Boat Works artifacts, and more.

The Evinrudes
As part of the merger with the Maritime & Classic Boat Museum, the Elliott Museum obtained several Evinrude and Elto outboard motors—highlighting the story of Ole and Ralph Evinrude and their impact on Martin County and maritime history.

Frances Langford Outrigger Cafe
The Frances Langford Outrigger Café serves lunch, snacks, and the story of one of Stuart’s most famous and beloved residents. In this unique restaurant, leased to and under the management of Stuart’s popular Osceola Café, visitors can not only find a wonderful restaurant, but also have an opportunity to learn the story of singer, actress, and Stuart resident and philanthropist Frances Langford (1913– 2005).

Library & Archives
The research library and archives of the Historical Society of Martin County contain more than 30,000 items. These references and rare books, newspaper clippings, maps, photographs, and historic documents range from the early 1900s to the present and tell the history of Martin County and its surrounding areas. Volunteers are working hard on organizing the Thurlow Library and Archives to eventually allow more than half of this content—some 15,000 to 20,000 documents—to be easily and readily available to the general public by appointment.

Colin turned one month old while we were were touring the museum and enjoying the beach.  He is a good sleeper, but has to wear “mittens” to keep from scratching his face!

Our grand son one month old

Our grand son one month old

Jesus said, “Don’t stop children from coming to me! Children like these are part of the kingdom of God.”  (Matthew 19:14, God’s Translation)

Our First RV Resort: Tampa East, FL 9/5-7/2013

After three years of dreaming of owning an RV and traveling, we finally did it!  The road here was not easy, but was bathed in prayer!  And many things came together and we have to give God the Glory as it was all miraculous.  So I’ll try to categorize this to make a long story short.

A slide show follows this narrative.  But first, few pros and cons about the resort.  Pros:  location was perfect, just two miles from Camping World, where we bought our first RV; it really was a resort and we were in awe of the beautiful pool and amenities; the office staff was outstanding, really helpful; the bath and laundry area were kept clean.   Cons:  It was rainy season and the lots were mainly dirt with some grass so it was hard to level the RV.  Will we return, probably not because Tampa is not our favorite vacation location in Florida!

The dream:  Bill wanted one of those Class A vehicles that are like a bus and some are on a bus chassis.  He wanted to carry his motorcycle on the back on a lift and tow our small Toyota Tacoma truck.  So for three years, we went to RV shows and looked in side 100’s of them.  Bill also searched on line for a used one, looking for the perfect one.  My sister and her husband bought one around 2004 and traveled with our mom and step dad for a year or two.  She wanted us to buy one and said she KNEW we’d love the life style.  I hadn’t retired from work and that was the last thing I could think about, but it looked attractive.  I’m not sure when Bill decided that was what he wanted, but it was years later.

The push:  Our first grand baby was due the end of August 2013.  So that caused us to say, it’s time to start traveling, mainly to see him or her.   We got serious but we still were bogged down as landlords.  Although we had sold all but one, we just didn’t think we could leave until it sold – and miracle of miracles, it sold right out from under us mid-August.  The pressure was now on to buy, so we actually found one that fit his dream, offered to us at a bargain price ($150,000 something for a mere $109,000).  As tempting as it was, we had to figure out the financing and sleep on it.  We actually just lost that much and more in our real estate ventures, so that gave us pause.  Plus, after I sat in the driver’s seat, I freaked and said I could never drive it!   Our precious grandson arrived early, August 19, so we were there for about 10 days.  Since I didn’t want him in day care at age 2 months, I offered to come for a month when our daughter went back to work and would watch him until he was 3 months old.  So we returned to Florida knowing we needed an RV soon!  So I called on some used ones and learned the market was flooded with them and all for sale we the balance owned on the loan!  We only wanted to pay $50,000.  So Bill was so discouraged but I had faith!  So off to one last shot at a small RV show.  We pulled up to a couple in their brand new Ford truck.  We asked how they liked it and they loved it and were there to buy something to tow.

The decision:  Bill decided he would look in every different RV vehicle this time.  So the first one was an extra light 5th wheel.  In my mind, this was the way to go, but I kept quiet.  It was fabulous!  Love at first sight!  WOW, who would have ever thought?  But then Bill said we could never afford the truck to pull it, when a man came in and said, just think, my F150 ecoboost truck can pull this!  Bill said, “really?”  And that was when we realized we could live the dream and travel more economically.  You see, just to get out of Florida from our home is a one day drive in an RV.  That didn’t seem feasible with all the time we wanted to travel to see our grandson.   So we then set out to get the best deal we could and we did!  With on a few days, we bought our truck and new 5th wheel.  I had heard from one sales center they will let you stay in a campground nearby for 2 days to make sure you can set it up and take it down before you head home.

Our sales man set us for two nights and three days at the Sun RV Resort called Tampa East.  We had no trouble setting up but had a few questions and realized we needed a few more items from Campers World, where we purchased our RV.  Our sales man came our first night, even though it was raining out, and gave us a warm plate of home made brownies with carmel and chocolate!  Sweet!

So here is a review of both our campground, where we are steps from a fabulous pool that we had to ourselves (it was off season in Florida) and the nice nature walk we took at Lettuce Lake Park, near University of Central Florida.  Just an interesting side note, while walking around the lake, we heard a lot of helicopters and sirens.  I said I bet a fugitive is loose – and it was a horrendous situation.  He had killed one person and he ended up dying in a gun battle.  Sad ending to a wonderful weekend.  Kiss and hug your loved ones!

Meet our grand son then the slide show of the Resort:

Six days old

Six days old

Sorry these are not really in order, I’m new at this!

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