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…
Yay!!!!! I’m so glad you did this post. I was sad our get together hadn’t made “the end of the road.” I feel complete now, thank you!! We had so much fun seeing you. Looking forward to the next time we get to hang. I do love turtles, so lots of turtle envy seeing that one be released! ?❤️
We had a great time too and are looking forward to seeing you guys again soon. Hard to believe we’re well into Spring already. Turtles are apparently VERY popular. There were a ton of people there to see the release. It was nice to see so much interest and support from the community.
Yes, they do think you live in your car. We cannot go anywhere without someone offering us a “real” bed or shower. We do occasionally accept the offer to use the laundry but the rest we pass on.
Yep, the “adult sized” washer and dryers come in handy for washing our comforter, but I do everything else in the motorhome. And our bed is really, really comfortable!! Seriously!! LOL
Thanks for the 6 month catchup, you’ve been busy1, do we have to wait that long for the next ‘catchup’? Did Tor copywrite his prayer? i may need to paraphrase that, it’s awesome!
I know, I know… I’ve been terrible about this blog recently. I just kinda ran out of steam. But I’ll try to be more consistent… as soon as I stop procrastinating. 🙂
And Thor is always creating new ways to get what he wants – sometimes through prayer, sometimes by being obnoxious, sometimes by just doing whatever he wants while we look on disapprovingly. It’s always an adventure with him, that’s for sure.
Always good to get your posts and feel like I’m with you on your journeys 🙂 Life-changing events coming up????!! I’m hooked!
And it’s always good to hear from you, Terri. I hope you’re doing well these days!
Ok, so I am selfish, jealous and wanting “resolution” of the latest odd chords into a coda, even if not the final. We need to do another session on With Respect. You bridge so many worlds, social, geographic and temporal. People today are emerging from their isolation to find it is all changing to something unprepared for. You have lived and chronicled these times from one microcosm to another, friends, family, strangers, the natural and artificial.
I appreciate some of your world(s), though not the whole package. Your readers are treated to bits and pieces, but only you create and live the whole. We all have some obligations that we must fulfill. Can I say one of yours is to tie it all together. The microphone is always open to you when you are ready for the next installment.
There are certainly threads that tie it all together and maybe someday I’ll expound upon them, but I’m usually too busy trying to imagine what my dog is thinking while sitting in a pool of muddy water to figure out how to express them. LOL.
I think it all comes down to what the cool kids call “living intentionally.” It’s appreciating that life is short and uncertain under the best of circumstances and we’re not operating under the best of circumstances, it’s deciding that we want to spend our time on the things that matter most to us and that we can choose to live our lives in a way that makes that possible, and it’s an appreciation that, for us, money is better spent on experiences rather than things. I think a lot of people agree with many of these ideas. We just take it to an extreme.
Anyway, it would be very nice to sit down and talk with you about all of it. We very much enjoyed our prior conversations with you and appreciated your ability to tease out these kinds of threads. We’d love to do it again some day!
We are back in your favorite town in AL for a return visit and do a few things that I couldn’t get done the last time. I half expected to see you here. Hope your having a good time. We will be back in VA next week until mid May.
I still wake up some mornings and, for a split second, wonder “Are we still in freaken Red Bay???” Then I realize the nightmare is over, take a deep breath, and go back to sleep.
It’s like the Hotel California. You can check out any time you want, but you’re never ever, ever, ever, ever leaving.
As usual you made me laugh ?, so so love your posts. Thanks We travel a similar loop, NE, DC, Fl…RB!!! maybe one of these days we will run into you ??
Safe travels west….it’s Alaska for us !
Oh man… I’m SO jealous! Alaska is truly our “one that got away.” It’s such a huge undertaking, but what a payoff when you are actually there. You guys don’t keep a blog or Instagram account, do you? I’d love to follow your trip if you’re posting about it somewhere. Either way, I know you’ll have a wonderful time and wish you all the best!
Great read, as always. And good tips for Charleston, at which we’ve never camped, and Savannah, where we usually stay in Rivers End Campground onTybee Island. We’ve also stayed in both your DC-local camps and yes we’re still in Alexandria but it was just to get away.
I swear, every time we’ve been at Bull Run, we’ve had some neighbor who’s mentioned they were local and were just trying to get away for a couple days. It totally makes sense to take advantage of it if you’ve got an RV. It’s nice to have such a pretty, spacious, and green campground so close in. It feels like a whole different world when you’re there.
Charleston and Savannah are both awesome. Highly recommend James Island for Charleston, and if you’re looking for another good option near Savannah, Skidaway Island State Park is beautiful.
As usual you have done a marvelous job of capturing the essence of the RV lifestyle. Traveling has enabled us to have much longer, richer visits with family and meet all sorts of wonderful new people, along with the interesting places we’ve explored. But travel also inevitably means plenty of saying goodbye. It’s just part of the yin and yang of traveling life, I suppose. I’ll bet your visits were even sweeter after the isolation of the pandemic. We are certainly savoring time with family and friends like never before, and we’re really glad that you made us a part of this East Coast swing.
After that paragraph talking about the balance between spending quality time with people we care about and having to leave, I had originally written “Yin, yang, yada yada…” but decided that was a bit weird so I took it out. But here you are pointing out the yin-yangyness of the whole thing and now I realize I should have left it in! Dammit.
Ah well. You understand me and that’s what matters.
And we, too, will never again take for granted the ability to hang out with people. Thank you again for all the hospitality. We had a great time!
Thanks for posting! I’ve been “jonesing” for an update. Laura, you could re-write the phone book and make it fun and interesting.
Keep ‘em coming.
~Lisa, Tucson, AZ
p.s. the photographs are awesome!
Thank you, Lisa! If I ever run out of material, phone book it is! If anyone complains, I’m sending them to you. 🙂
I loved all your stories, adventures and pictures! That Thor dog….he cracks me up! Thanks for the Christmas lights pics…we stayed at many of the same places you did, but only saw the displays going up, never did we actually get to see them turned on in all their glory. I’m so happy we met up in the DC area, after following your travels for so long. I’m missing Florida about now. We’re currently in the Mid-West dodging the wind and severe weather. I’m amazed at how dry and brown everything got west of Arkansas. Take care and best wishes on your new adventures!
I’m happy we finally got to hang out too. It’s always nice to meet the people behind the internet connections. And yeah, Thor is a trip. He has a big personality and keeps us on our toes. He’s a handful, but we love him.
I feel for you guys in the midwest right now. We’ve traveled through there during the Spring a couple times and it’s always tough. The wind is relentless and just when you think things are warming up, you get sent back into winter. Not fun.
Stay warm and stay safe!
Well, this just made me miss you A LOT all over again. You guys are not only good friends, but you make great next-door neighbors (not only are you always up for an adventure and interesting conversation, but you deliver gourmet meals and have excellent taste in wine!). It looks like you had wonderful reunions with all of your east coast family and friends, and we’re very happy that you made the time to come visit us, too. 🙂
Thor has such a good life. Love his Batman look, haha!! I am not allowing Magnolia to read this, because she will be saying, “HEY! See?? Thor gets all the treats he wants!” By the way, I do the same thing at the eye doctor, except I make him go back and forth between choices until he finally gives up, LOL. Hugs to you three.
We did eat REALLY well during that visit, huh? Those were some standout meals and we can’t thank you enough for taking such great care of us – and doing allllll the dishes. It was so nice to spend quality time and talk about everything from personal to politics to travel. And we were so happy you didn’t mind our dog trying to crash through your beautiful plate glass windows like the Kool-Aid man while he tried to kill your cat. Oh, Thor….
Speaking of which, I think poor Maggie deserves whatever treats she can get. She didn’t sign up for any of this nonsense. Give the poor girl some tuna, please.
Hugs back at ya!
As always, love all the details you share. Your pictures are amazing! The Thor play by play was perfect. His talents and cuteness are under appreciated. Great seeing you and being able to get together as a family.
Thanks, Jeremy. It was great seeing you guys too, and we’re looking forward to spending time together again in a couple weeks. It’ll be here before we know it! And Thor thanks you for your kindness. He often seems to think he’s underappreciated, but we’re pretty sure he’s got nothing to complain about. 🙂
Well, you visited two of our favorite places on earth. Charleston and Apalachicola. We also stayed at James Island County Park and LOVED it. Everyday we went out and explored the beach to the south and, of course, downtown Charleston. We ate our way through that town. Glad you got to see the Christmas lights being lit up. We were there last March and the light fixtures were still up everywhere, but not lit at night. It must have been beautiful to drive through with them all lit up. What can we say about Apalachicola? The Oyster City Brewery is one of our favorites. We have been to the town twice and always drive down the road to Lynns for the best oysters in the world. Glad you enjoyed that little paradise. Thanks for catching us up on those missing months. It was fun to see what you two (three) were up to. Love to hear about Thor’s adventures. Sure going to miss reading about your travels and somehow someway one of these days we really have to meet over a beer and catch up! Stay safe out there! Jim
Thanks, Jim! I remember your posts about both Apalachicola and Charleston well. In fact, when we were visiting with Laurel and Eric, we pulled up your Apalachicola post to compare notes about the places you’d visited. It’s fun to retrace footsteps and compare notes with our fellow travelers. Like you, we loved both of these towns – they each have so much character and the food and drink options could keep us happy for quite some time. I really do wish our timing was just a bit better and we’d stop being on opposite sides of the country all the time. Speaking of which, hope it’s sunny and warm wherever you are right now!
What a fabulous catching up six months!! Glad you had the opportunity to really enjoy each area. Love, love watching all of Thor’s antics. I can only imagine what fly catching must be like in person, especially when the big guy feels like a little puppy! Haha! You know, I only read some blogs for the dog parts!!!! Haha!
LOL… Yep, I am pretty sure half the people who read this blog would disappear if I stopped talking about Thor’s latest antics. He is unquestionably the most popular member of this pack and keeps us on our toes and laughing. We wouldn’t trade him for the world. I hope you guys are doing well and enjoying the sunshine and warmth. It’s been freezing here on the east coast!
Glad you understand where my priorities are. ? Another blogger’s wife reminds to add dog photos for Pam. It’s how I get my dog fix without participating in the “unfun” parts!
Wonderful catch-up post. Loved seeing your happy smiling faces surrounded by friends and family. And, Thor, well, he’s always handsome and fun to see. Even when he’s being insubordinate and all those other things.
Thor’s lucky he’s so handsome, that’s all I know! I hope you’ll post an update soon too. You haven’t done one in a bit and I know you’ve gone from one side of the country to the other. Hope things are going well!
I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t been said a zillion times already (friends = good! family = good! visiting those people in nice places = good!) I think it’s also good! that you’ll be holding still for awhile, so folks can come find you. Traveling does, as you say, allow for more and longer visitations, but as you also know, can be so very draining. Time for new, more static but no less exciting, adventures!
Yep, that’s exactly how we feel. Ready to switch gears and settle in one place, but I hope we never lose our love of travel and adventure. Now we just gotta clean out and sell this motorhome. It’s amazing how much crap we’ve collected!
Wait a minute, you have a washer and dryer in your motor home? Sounds like you had a fun six months catching up with friends and family. That’s a long time. Hopefully, it wasn’t too exhausting. Each time I manage to go to Belgium for two or three weeks, I constantly drive from place to place and leave again happy but super tired! 🙂 Thanks for sharing these joyous times on the East Coast. Thor is a riot! We need him to become our fly catcher in our home on wheels.
Haha, yep! We’ve got a European style combo washer/dryer in our place. We can wash everything (in small loads) except our comforter. It definitely makes life a bit easier.
I am with you 100% on the ‘happy but tired’, thing. It always feels like a whirlwind, but it’s great to see everyone and spend real time together.
And Thor said he’s happy to help anytime. ?
So happy to hear you have been enjoying spending time with family and friends. I was excited to see the info about the Essex Steam Train and Cruise, NE Air Museum, and Lake Compounce as we were looking at those options for our time up there this summer. Did you stay at Lake Compounce campground? Your recommendations have never steered us wrong!
I laughed at your eye doctor description. I thought I was the only one who couldn’t tell between A or B!
Your photos of sunset on the bay in Florida are absolutely gorgeous. I am jealous you got to see a turtle release. We enjoyed visiting the Turtle Hospital while we were in Key West, but have never seen a release. (working on that post…only a month behind?)
Good luck on your continuing transition,
Thanks, Robin! With regard to Connecticut, yes, Lake Compounce is the only place I can recommend you stay. There are several state park campgrounds, but they don’t allow dogs (at all), so we’ve never visited them. Lake Compounce actually has a really nice campground with big spacious sites and solid water/electric, and it’s conveniently located near everything you need. Other recommendations I would make for a visit to Connecticut are the Nautilus (the first nuclear powered submarine) museum in Groton, Mystic (and the other small coastal towns in that region), the Wadsworth in Hartford for art, and the Yale Peabody for natural history. Hope you have a great time! …and I look forward to learning more about the turtle hospital!!
I laughed at your description of offers in DC. We get that all the time from well meaning friends but the one that bugs me the most is when a friend constantly offers hubby home baking because as he says “I know you don’t get home baked items anymore” … seriously?? That same friend comes to a group coffee several times a year at our place where he chows down on my home baking
You are lucky to have friends with home in such great locations, and they have room for you to park Barney!
Thanks! We definitely feel fortunate to have friends who are willing to put up with us in such gorgeous locations! As for home cooking, we don’t have an oven, but we have a convection microwave and I have been pretty impressed with what we can make in it. The biggest problem is it’s small, so you’re a bit limited that way, but otherwise, you can basically make anything. I tell you, these RVs are modern miracles!
Loved reading how you’ve been catching up with friends, as that seems to be my emerging theme for the rest of 2022. I’m heading east by a circuitous route, mostly to make sure I stop by and see old friends on my way to my eventual destination in Florida (gotta vote!). Hope you’re getting excited about Chapter 4 coming up and finding Barney a new home. Also, Thor is clearly the star of this post <3
LOL… Thor is the star of EVERY post… or he should be anyway (according to him). 🙂
I swear, the best part of this whole RV thing has been our ability to catch up with old friends and spend lots of time with family. We’ve caught up with so many people these last few years who we just never would have seen otherwise, and being able to spend weeks rather than days with relatives has been great. I’m glad you’re doing the same. Safe travels east!!