The last travelogue I wrote was back in the Summer after we’d crossed the country from west to east. What followed was six months of catching up with friends and family after a two-year hiatus due to Covid. I didn’t write normal blog posts during that time because I kinda figured most people don’t really care to see 27,000 pictures of us hanging out with our friends and family, but I do like continuity and completeness, so I’m going to put together a quick post hitting some highlights from those months.
We spent a little over a month in New England catching up with my family, which was great. Other than coming to the realization that my 14 year old niece is going to be significantly taller than me
– and wondering why I was dressed like a Target Team Member – there were winery trips, backyard picnics, amusement park days, and mini-golf outings…
Oddly enough, during our visit, a hurricane took aim at New England – the first in some thirty years.
Hurricanes in New England are an opportunity for the entire local news world to freak the hell out, and freak the hell out they did. But we didn’t want to be reckless given our living situation, so we decided to move Barney over to my dad’s house and just stay inside the house with him. Good thing, too, since about 3 hours after we moved, the campground officially closed and kicked everyone out. We were fortunate to have had somewhere to go. I have no idea where everyone else went.
In the end, the hurricane took a right and we ended up with just a strong Summer storm, however, it caused enough damage to our campground that they stayed closed for several days. We remained at the house until the campground reopened.
Thor was just confused by the whole thing:
Fortunately, my dad was happy to have the company and didn’t seem to mind our dog playing “fly assassin” all over his living room furniture. For some reason, Thor cannot abide the sound of a fly and if there is one anywhere in the vicinity, he… well… he does this:
It’s not great.
And yes, we have tried to stop him from doing this, but sadly, he is a dog on a mission and nothing will stop him until he gets the damned fly (which he does always… regardless of how much furniture he has to climb over in the process.)
Anyway, if you find yourself in Connecticut, in addition to the excellent New England Air Museum, which we always visit,
we also went with my dad on the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat Cruise. The Essex is one of several historic steam trains that still run in the U.S., providing a narrated trip about an hour down the old tracks, followed by a narrated riverboat cruise back. With views of the river and from the river, it’s an enjoyable and educational way to spend an afternoon.
Our month in New England went quickly and before we knew it, it was time to hit the road.
Next, we headed south to DC where we caught up with friends and got all of our long -neglected medical appointments dealt with. After copious amounts of poking and prodding, and endless renditions of “A or B? 1 or 2?” at the eye doctor (seriously – I can never tell the difference; I just guess until he stops asking), we were given clean bills of health and sent on our way.
We thoroughly enjoyed catching up with our friends and they took great care of us, though, after receiving offers for “a real house to stay in,” “a real bed to sleep in,” “a real shower,” a “real washer and dryer,” and multiple “real home cooked meals”, we couldn’t help but wonder whether they thought we’d really been living in our car for the last 5 years.
Whatever the case may be, we totally enjoyed all the love, and ate really, really well!
During our visit, we bounced between Bull Run Regional Park in Virginia and Cherry Hill RV Park in Maryland. Both have their positives and negatives, but they work well for our purposes when we’re trying to visit friends. Speaking of which, while we were at Bull Run, RVer friends, Tami and Scott, not only landed at the same campground as us, but ended up parked right next to us. Small world stuff which made a couple fun happy hours easy peasy.
After several weeks in the old homeland, we headed south again, encountering these absurdly large tires on 95:
before stopping at beautiful James Island County Park in Charleston.
We happened to get there just as they were finishing preparations for their huge Christmas lights drive-through, so every night, we got to see all the lights before it was even open to the public.
We’ve seen a lot of these drive-through Christmas light displays, and James Island’s is an absolute standout. During the actual lights festival, they have trams that take visitors through the park’s forests, which are all lit up, and there are carnival-style rides and attractions. It’s really something.
Next, we headed to Savannah, where we stayed at Red Gate Farms – an event venue/farm/RV park. The grounds are beautiful, and it it’s conveniently located just a few minutes from the historic downtown.
Kevin’s parents came up to meet us for a couple days and we headed downtown to wander the neighborhoods and parks.
We stopped briefly at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park in Atlantic Beach – and enjoyed a couple quiet days on the trails and near the water:
This is a county park with a lush, jungle-like campground, right next to a long, quiet (at least when we were there) stretch of beach. It’s not exactly “big rig friendly”:
but it was do-able, and worth the challenge.
Next stop: Kevin’s parents’ house, known to Thor as: “CAMP!!!”
There’s grass to run around on, birds to chase, humans who give him loads of attention, and an endless array of delicious treats:
It’s a good place to be a dog.
It was an annoying place to be a dog owner because it was there we realized we’d wasted hundreds of dollars on dog toys when a simple chunk of dowel rod my father in law handed him turned out to be one of his all-time favorite toys.
HUNDREDS of dollars on dog toys…
Of course, the holiest day on the dog calendar is Thanksgiving…
and Thor knew he needed to get serious.
“Are you there, God? It’s me, Thor… Hey, I know I’m not always the most “perfectly-behaved” dog on the planet… The phrase “recalcitrant little punk” gets bandied around an awful lot, and while I’m not exactly sure what that means, I think it might stem from some of my less popular decisions. Like that time about a week ago when I acted like I couldn’t hear my humans yelling at me to not lay down in the puddle of filthy water at the dog park, but then I totally went and laid down in the puddle of filthy water at the dog park because I was pretty sure that if I just faced away from my clearly displeased humans while laying in the puddle of filthy water at the dog park they wouldn’t be able to see me –
…which, sadly, turned out not to be the case, but the point is, I would really, really appreciate it if you could see your way to helping me get some of that divine smelling turkey because, deep, deep down, beyond all my stubborn, insubordinate, ungovernable, pig-headed, anti-social, obnoxious behavior, in my own special and extremely hard-to-define way, I’m a really, really good boy.”
(and yes, he got plenty of turkey.)
We spent time at the beach, the menfolk went fishing, we visited several new and old favorite restaurants, we checked out the always stunning Christmas lights in St. Augustine, and we observed the miracle of Christmas when my mother-in-law managed to score some Covid tests at a time when there were seemingly no Covid tests to be scored.
In addition to seeing Kevin’s family, we also got to spend some time with Jon and Cathy, who we’ve been crossing paths with since we both hit the road in 2016 (though, I failed to take any pictures this time), and we met up with Brenda and Wally whom we last saw in California last year. They spend about half the year in their motorhome and the other half on their boat, and are now planning to take on the entire “Great Loop” – a huge undertaking we’re looking forward to following.
It was really, really nice to catch up with everyone.
After our time on the east side of Florida, we headed across the panhandle where we spent almost two weeks visiting our friends, Laurel and Eric, and Shannon and Ken. Both couples were fulltime RVers, both have settled on the gorgeous forgotten coast from which they will travel part-time, and both were able to offer us parking and utilities at their houses – which made it incredibly easy to spend quality time together without getting in each other’s hair.
At Eric & Laurel’s, we had garden/bayfront views during the day:
and breathtaking sunset views at night:
Meanwhile, Ken and Shannon’s place is located just two blocks from this rather heavenly beach:
Speaking of Ken and Shannon, you know your friends trust you when they let you park your motorhome this close to their brand new, just built, the paint is barely dry – house:
Of course, as they accurately pointed out, if we crashed Barney into their concrete stilts, it would be Barney that would suffer, not the concrete. Point taken.
Fortunately, no one crashed into anything, and it all worked out perfectly.
We kayaked, hiked, and visited the beach, we toured historic and charming Apalachicola, checked out some breweries, and watched a rehabilitated turtle get released into the ocean (well, I watched the back of people’s heads, but Laurel got to see the turtle and was nice enough to share her photo with me), and, best of all, we got together for great food and conversation just about every night. So much great food and conversation…
It was a fabulous visit and a fitting capstone to our east coast itinerary.
On The Road Again
The flip side of being able to spend all this quality time with people whose company we truly enjoy, is the driving away part always sucks. And this whole six month period of catching up with people we hadn’t seen in two years featured a lot of that. There’s no sugar-coating it: leaving New England sucked, leaving DC sucked, and leaving two different locations in Florida sucked. We really like all these people and miss them when we’re away, and spending these long periods of time catching up makes us appreciate them all the more. On the other hand, absent our traveling ways, our family visits would consist of long weekends and we never would have even met these other folks.
Plus, if we didn’t drive away, how would ever make it to the life-changing fabulousness that is Red Bay, Alabama???? More on that soon…