Two Years on the Road – Notable RV Parks, Part II

Our small trailer is dwarfed by a huge oak at Bay Breeze RV Park in Alabama.

In my last blog, I wrote about RV parks that have stood out in some unique way. I wanted to continue this time with a few more of our notable stays.

Camping Next to a Famous Road:

Exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway was one of our favorite experiences during our RV travels in 2018. This road stretches for 469 miles along the Appalachian Mountains through Virginia and North Carolina. It features a number of historical sites, beautiful scenery and amazing views. It is one of the most famous roads or drives in America and is overseen by the National Park Service. When I was trying to find a place to stay in Virginia so we could spend time driving this road, I was pleased to see that Fancy Gap Campground sat right beside the parkway. We would have easy access for exploring in either direction.

A section of the Blue Ridge Parkway near our campground

When we arrived to Fancy Gap the campground was almost empty since we came in the fall season. But we soon had a visitor at the site next to us when a Canadian couple arrived. Unfortunately we don’t remember their names, but we do remember their dog who was called D’Artagnan after one of the Three Musketeers. As they were setting up, the gentleman warned us that D’Artagnan would want to come inside our trailer, as he loved to check out new places. Right away, D’Artagnan headed up our steps and nosed the door to get in. Mark opened up to see what was going on, but the poor pooch was not allowed to come in.

One of our all time favorite furry visitors

There is so little space in our 21-foot travel trailer, especially for a good sized, furry dog. But we did make friends with D’Artagnan and I tried to make amends by giving him carrot pieces for a treat. Sometimes I would glance over at their campsite and see him looking longingly over our way, still hoping for an invitation. They only stayed a night or two as they were headed to the North Carolina coast. Soon after they left, I read about a hurricane approaching the coast where they were headed and I hoped that D’Artagnan and his “people” were staying safe.

Best RV Park Transportation:

While exploring Oklahoma City (OKC) in the fall of 2018, we stayed at Twin Fountains RV Park and found something unique. This was the first park that offered transportation from two onsite limousines. A larger one was for groups or parties with the “smaller” one for families. The park would take you wherever you desired within about three miles. OKC has some great museums and one day I asked to be chauffeured to the wonderful National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum which took me much of the day to explore. When I was done I called for a pickup and they were very accommodating. It was the only time of our travels when I was chauffeured any where. Oh, I did forget that I have my own built in chauffeur with Mark as he likes to be known as Beth’s Driver (hee, hee), but it was my first limousine ride of the trip.

An RV Park With the Cutest Decorations:

Bandon By the Sea RV Park is a pleasant place in a good location as it is located just a few miles from the beach and Old Town Bandon, Oregon. Their decorations are what caught my eye as many of their fences are adorned with colorful tea pots. I love tea pots, tea cups and drinking tea, so I thought this decorating idea was really unique and clever and the teapots seemed to be holding up well in the coastal environment. Apparently the owner had a good sized collection of tea ware and wanted to make use of them. If I still had a home I would be looking at getting some thrift store tea pots to decorate my fences!

RV Park With the Best View:

View from our trailer of the surf crashing below

We were hoping for a great view before arriving to Seal Rocks RV Cove in Oregon and were not disappointed. Situated on a bluff above the rocky coastline, we could watch the surf come in and see the sunset at night. We liked it well enough that we decided to stay an extra few days, even though I was eager to see other places along the Oregon Coast. Our site was quite large with a private grassy area to ourselves. For our Oregon exploring, we did have the rainiest weather here, but it was still a lovely stay and the mist and rain added some to the ambience. Yes, Seal Rocks RV Cove would definitely qualify for a repeat visit. We wouldn’t mind more of that ocean view.

A Campground With the Best Forest Trail:

Mark relaxing at our campsite at Lum’s Pond State Park, Delaware

I really enjoy staying at RV parks with onsite forest trails. We enjoyed this amenity at Blowing Springs RV Park in Bella Vista, Arkansas which had a network of trails in a beautiful forest, one of my favorite places for walking. Other places included Abel Mountain Campground in Braintree, Vermont with a trail along a branch of the White River and Timberland Campground in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with a walking path next to the Androscoggin River. Then there was the nature trail at American Heritage RV Park in Williamsburg, Virginia where I had a close encounter with a black snake. My favorite though was Lum’s Pond State Park in Northern Delaware. We really enjoyed this park with spacious, grassy campsites, but I was most pleased with the six mile hiking trail that looped around the shore of the pond/lake through a lush, hardwood forest.

The hiking trail went all around the lake at Lum’s Pond

Lum’s Pond was also unique because it was the only state park we have ever stayed in. Mark is happy to travel in any state or area, but he likes to have full hookup campsites which means electricity, sewer and water. Many state parks don’t have full hookups, especially for sewer but Lum’s Pond was an exception.

A lush forest floor covered with ferns at Lum’s Pond State Park

Camping Next to a Railroad Track:

Walking the track from our RV park to visit the train depot museum

Most RVers don’t like parks within hearing distance of railroads. They gripe about train whistles at night and being unable to sleep. So, I had a little trepidation when I booked us at the Campus RV Park in Independence, Missouri. It turned out that our site was right next to the road and just on the other side was the train track. In our RV travels, this was our closest encounter with a train which did come by regularly sounding its horn. But Mark and I decided it was not that bad. We are actually pretty fond of railroads and often seek out “train stuff” in our travels. Although the campground itself had no appeal, the location turned out to be great. It was not far to walk to the old downtown of Independence which is full of historical attractions. From Independence, the Santa Fe, California and Oregon Trails left to go west in the mid 1800’s. This is also the former home of President Harry Truman and his library/museum. It was worth it to stay near those tracks and get to explore the very interesting town of Independence.

The Most Musical RV Park:

We love visiting places with music, so while exploring Arkansas we had to spend some time in the small town of Mountain View. This town prides itself on being the folk music capital of the world as they are known for their festivals throughout the year. The town takes their music seriously and local citizens gather regularly for jam sessions in front of the courthouse or a local downtown park. We stayed at Ozark RV Park which has their own morning jam sessions in a little building on the property.

Ozark RV Park jamming room

In addition, when the right people drop by the park’s office, a jam session is bound to occur. The park is located right next to the Ozark Folk Center State Park which features music shows in their auditorium as well as the opportunity to see old time mountain crafts being made. It was only a short walk through a gate and we were on the folk center property where we watched some great musicians perform in the evenings.

The Quirkiest RV Park:

Beautiful mountain scenery at Pegasus Farm RV Park

While visiting West Virginia we stayed at Pegasus Farm RV Park, which turned out to be the quirkiest of our travels. It started at the entrance where the owner had a sign noting the park was closed. He had warned us stating that the sign was to discourage pipeline workers from coming into the park and asking if they could stay. At our arrival we found there was no office to check in. Luckily we encountered the owner on the way in and after introducing ourselves he pointed out our site “over there.” This was the first RV park with no office and no paperwork to provide information and a map. For the first few days we had no idea where the trash bins were located. The long driveway into the park was another mystery. It was approximately 1/4 mile long and so narrow that only one vehicle could drive up and down at a time. If two vehicles happened to meet, someone would have to back up and some of the RV’s staying at this park were very large. We had this happen to us once at night with two vehicles coming in and another going out. There was a time of confusion before everyone could continue on.

A long, narrow driveway with a blind hill awaited us at Pegasus Farm RV Park

Then there were the spreading of ashes. As we were settling in our first day, I took a walk on the expansive property which used to be a farm and Mark stayed behind to relax outside our trailer. From the site next to us, the owner came over ahead of a group warning Mark that they were there to spread the ashes of a deceased former camper on his “favorite” spot. Although the campground was a bit quirky, we loved exploring this part of West Virginia, with some of the most beautiful scenery of our RV travels.

The Best Laid Out RV Park:

Deer Creek Valley RV Park

Usually I like RV parks with an outdoorsy, nature feel. But Mark and I were quite impressed with Deer Creek Valley RV Park in Topeka, Kansas. It was the best laid out park we visited with large concrete sites nicely spaced and separated with lots of green grass. We found out that the owner had a concrete business which explained why the park looked so good. It was a beautiful place that was a pleasure to stay in. Outside the park gate was also one of our favorite eating experiences at Lonnie’s BBQ, one of the top restaurants in Topeka and only open a few days a week. Luckily we were there at a time when we could enjoy dinner and meet the very friendly owner who walked back with us to the park after we finished our meal. Our stay here also meant the realization that tornadoes are a fact of life in Kansas, so the park provided a storm shelter if needed, the first one we encountered on our travels.

Luckily no storm shelter needed during our Topeka, Kansas stay

Best RV Park at a Coastal Destination:

Sea Lions enjoying the Mosslanding Harbor

We have enjoyed several coastal retreats in our recent travels, but our all time favorite is at Mosslanding KOA located on the California coast south of Santa Cruz and north of Monterey. It is a small, unassuming park with few amenities that comes at a hefty price for the night. But this is okay because as you know, location is everything. It sits right next to the harbor where fishing boats come and go and sea lions can be heard barking at all times of the day and night. I really enjoyed seeing all the wildlife, especially the otters, my favorite sea animal.

Sea otter playing near the harbor

From our site I walked through a gate and was at the parking area and launching spot for whale watching trips. Monterey Bay is known for whale watching and great sightings can be found a close distance from Mosslanding.

Whale tail during one of my whale watch cruises

The small village of Mosslanding has a number of restaurants within walking distance and our go to place has always been Phil’s Fish Market, my all time favorite seafood restaurant with lots of delicious dishes. I usually can’t pass up the Cioppino, one of their signature dishes. Mosslanding Beach is also a close walk, a great place for a stroll and the opportunity to see more wildlife like shorebirds and the snowy egret in photo below, who was catching his own fishy meal from the surf.

Thanks for following along with us and stay tuned for more to come!

Two Years on the Road – Notable RV Parks

Camping under tall pines at Boston Minuteman Campground, Massachusetts

Our nomad lifestyle traveling throughout the U.S. for over two years has meant staying at a number of different RV parks or campgrounds. We have spent time at approximately 105 of these, mostly for a week or two, some for several nights and even a few for a month or more. For me, the RV parks are mostly just a means to an end, a place to stay so we can explore nearby attractions and experience the U.S. Our reservations have always been kept and we have had good stays at almost all of them for which we have been grateful. Although they have varied of course depending on the state and region, most have not been particularly notable. In this post I thought I would focus on some that did stand out. These might not necessarily have been our favorite parks, but they were unique in some way.

A Park With a Swamp:

We loved our time in Louisiana where we stayed at Bayou Wilderness RV Resort for one month. This park was notable in that it had its own swamp. Now I love swamps and this one although small was attractive but unfortunately alligator 🐊 free. (In my opinion, a good swamp needs a few alligators 😊). Since we were there in late fall, the cypress trees had turned a rusty orange color and were dropping their needles.

We experienced two other notable things while staying at Bayou Wilderness. It was the only place where it snowed while there in December. Although the snow only fell lightly during a morning, it did stick for a day. The park owner told us that he had not seen snow there for many years, so a real novelty. The other thing is that this was our cheapest stay at only $480.00 for the entire month.

Most Interesting Park Geologically:

Blue Rocks Family Campground Office

We stayed at Blue Rocks Campground in Lenhartsville, Eastern Pennsylvania for four nights. Our main reason for staying in that area was to visit Hawk Mountain, a well known place for birders to come see hawks migrating. A very good friend of mine and her husband were the caretakers of this sanctuary in the 1930’s and I had always hoped to visit. This was not one of our favorite stays as we didn’t really like our spot, but the massive landslide of rock like a large river through the forest was an impressive sight. These boulder sized rocks stretched for a mile downhill through the Park.

A river of rock surrounded by forest

The Best Walking Path:

Walking path along the Mississippi River

We were delighted with our stay at Riverview RV park in Vidalia, Louisiana. It wasn’t necessarily because of the park itself, but because we were camping next to the mighty Mississippi River. There is something about this river that is so alluring that I can see why it has been written so much about and immortalized, plus it is the second largest river in the U.S. We loved watching all the barges and tow boats come and go and at night in our trailer, we could hear the hum of their engines passing in the night. There were plenty of places to view the river as a mile and a half long concrete path stretched from the park along the shore, passing under the bridge which crosses from Vidalia to the town of Natchez, Mississippi.

We saw some beautiful sunsets on the Mississippi River

The Tastiest Park:

Our site at Orange Grove RV Park

Place me in the middle of a grove with ripened oranges 🍊 and I am one happy camper! That is what we found at Orange Grove RV Park located outside of Bakersfield, California in a large citrus growing region. This expansive park is a favorite with us for a few reasons. Besides the oranges, it features long pull through spots that are easy to set up in. The camp sites were literally carved out of an orange grove with trees lining each site. In addition, there are orange trees or mini groves along the sides of the park. We also liked visiting the California Fruit Depot, located around the corner. This is a small shop that features samples of almost everything sold including dates, candies, nuts and dried fruit.

After a short shower we were treated to a beautiful rainbow
One of the groves laden with fruit

RVers are welcome to pick as many oranges as they wish, as long as they are picked when ripe. They even have picking tools to help campers get at the highest fruit. The last time I was there I felt almost gluttonous I picked so many, even though there were so many oranges they were falling off the trees. Since we were heading back to our campground in Northern California near where our son, daughter-in-law and grandkids live, they were happy to see us when we gave them a large bucket of oranges to squeeze for juice.

The Best RV Park Name:

We found the most welcoming park in Mobile, Alabama. Every visitor is acknowledged on a sign next to their site, even pets!

Mark and I have a hard time remembering the names of parks we have stayed in. Sometimes they just don’t stick in our minds, especially when we have been to so many places. One name I haven’t forgotten is “All About Relaxing,” a park located in Mobile, Alabama. The owners were former RVers who wanted to create a park with features they appreciated when they were on the road. As the name implies, they made a number of places to just hang out and relax – there was a pool, patio sitting areas, hammocks and a fire pit each night. Everything was clean, cheerful and nicely decorated. Unfortunately, it was freezing temperatures when we stayed in early January 2018 so hanging around outside was difficult and unusual for this time of year.

The Name Rang True:

Bay Breeze is a cute little park located on Mobile Bay near Gulf Shores, Alabama. It was one of the smallest parks we have ever stayed in. We were lucky to get a spot here for two weeks as it is usually filled with repeat visitors who come from the cold north to spend the winter on the warm Gulf of Mexico. In our case, one of the visitors had to leave for an emergency giving us this opportunity. I was thrilled to be staying just feet away from the water. We soon encountered those bay breezes the park mentions in their sign. In January 2018 the South was gripped with freezing temperatures and the wind howled across the Bay with such ferocity that I couldn’t stay outside even bundled up for more than about 10 minutes.

Mark walking on the park’s pier

Repeat visitors talked about how temperatures were usually in the 70’s and 80’s, not in the low 40’s during the day and below freezing at night. Mark put a number of his knitted hats in the office and chuckled the next morning as he saw most being worn and walked around. We were here for two weeks and the weather did improve. We really enjoyed the park, the ambience and the Gulf Shores area where there was much to see and do.

View of the deck and campsites from the pier

The Best Sunset:

Sunset Point RV Park, located on a very quiet bay in Maine came to be one of my all time favorite parks. It was a beautiful location and a short trail went along the shore with places to sit and watch the sunsets 🌅. We stayed for a week but the first several nights the sunset evaded us as clouds and fog drifted in. We did have a few nights of color though and it was as nice as we hoped. We also had a very pleasant campsite and we could order a freshly cooked lobster 🦞 from the owner which was served up to our door at the time we requested.

Most Unusual Neighbor:

Camping next to a small unfenced graveyard

There weren’t many RV parks to be found in the vicinity of Newport, Rhode Island and we were staying during the Labor Day weekend, so I was glad to find an available spot at Meadowlark RV Park in Middletown, a few miles north of Newport. I read online reviews that this was just camping in a field with no amenities, so we were not expecting much. What we weren’t expecting was a graveyard right next to our site. We parked the truck literally within inches of a marker. The graves were not even surrounded with a fence or wall for protection, just a sign noting their historical significance and penalties for vandalism.

I found graves to be quite old in New England and it was no exception here. The gravestone above notes the deceased as Edward Tewes who died in 1776. Could Edward have died while fighting in the Revolutionary War? I did some research but had no success finding information about him. We had a great stay in Middletown and I loved visiting Newport, one of my favorite cities of our travels!

Most Isolated RV Park:

This RV park is out in the middle of nowhere

I decided to book a stay at Rusty’s RV Ranch in Rodeo, New Mexico because it was close to Portal, Arizona, a birding hotspot near the Chiricahua Mountains. I also thought it would be near Chiricahua National Monument, a park I had always wanted to visit but this turned out to not be accurate. But all the great birding did keep us busy. People come here for something else besides the birds – the dark sky. This is reputed to be one of the darkest skies in the country and a favorite location for sky gazers and astronomers. The park is surrounded by wide open spaces with no towns of any population for many miles. Rodeo is so small that it doesn’t have a regular grocery store or a place to get gas. We were told rather nonchalantly that the nearest gas was 14 miles away in the town of Animas, New Mexico which is also a little place although not as sleepy as Rodeo.

While the stargazers didn’t appreciate it, we really enjoyed watching a full moon rise in Rodeo, New Mexico

Thanks for checking in and stay tuned for my next post on more notable RV parks.

Two Year Anniversary and Our Favorite States

Middleton Gardens, Charleston

As I write this we are fast approaching the two year mark (August 25, 2017) of full time RV traveling. During this time period we have managed to live continuously in a simple, 21-foot travel trailer with no slide outs. Our living space has been tiny and cramped, but our wonderful United States has beckoned us with plenty of room to get out and explore. And explore we did, spending time in 36 states. Mark and I don’t count the states we just drive through or spend a night in on the way to something else. We have to spend at least several days and see something of significance in each state. Most states we have spent at least a week in, some we have spent a month or more exploring. From time to time we are asked what our favorite states or places have been. We enjoyed every state we visited and found many interesting things to occupy our time. But some just hold a more special place for us. So, I thought I would list the states that were standouts during these past two years and why we enjoyed them so much. (Not necessarily in order of preference).

1.MAINE

Acadia National Park

As we traveled around Maine I couldn’t help but ponder that this might be the most beautiful state of our trip. The coastal scenery is continuously stunning with interesting rock formations, forests with fields of green meeting the seashore and many small islands in the bays. We found interesting little seaside villages, harbors full of lobster boats and lighthouses. I love the water, so Maine was especially intriguing to me. I enjoyed several boat trips including a kayak class with L.L. Bean’s outdoor program; a lobster boat trip out of Portland learning about trapping lobsters and helping with the process; and a boat trip to Petit Manan Island to see Atlantic Puffins for the first time. We were able to mark off another National Park by visiting gorgeous and popular Acadia. We stayed at one of our favorite campgrounds called Sunset Point along the waterfront which lived up to its name with some colorful evening skies. If requested, the owner even delivered freshly steamed lobsters to the RV’s. Other favorite eating experiences included lobster rolls and everything blueberry – wild berries fresh from the field, blueberry ice cream and pie.

2. LOUISIANA

Campground swamp near Lafayette

Mark and I were happy campers while visiting Louisiana. We loved everything about the state and I often thought it was the most interesting one of our travels. We enjoyed learning about and experiencing the unique music, culture, history and food. We became enamored with Cajun and Zydeco music and made it a point to visit live music venues as often as we could. But if I had to list my favorite part of exploring Louisiana, it would have to be the swamps. There is nothing quite as captivating as a good swamp and a few alligators makes it even better. I could never tire seeing cypress trees with lots of hanging moss in dark mysterious waters. We even had a small swamp at our RV Park (but alas no alligators). Visiting Louisiana was a little like being in a foreign country since the French Cajun culture is still strong. Eating was an adventure in Louisiana as much of the food was different than we were used to. We chuckled at our first lunch plate diner when it seemed we weren’t familiar with many of the menu offerings. Louisiana also had one of our favorite camping experiences, right along the Mississippi River!

Swamp tour on Lake Martin

3. SOUTH CAROLINA

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston

I loved visiting the South. I can still remember the sadness I felt when we were leaving South Carolina, knowing I was leaving the Deep South with its swamps, huge oaks trees, hanging moss and beautiful gardens. Our visit in South Carolina was a little briefer than the other states on this list (about two and a half weeks), but we saw some memorable things while here. Most of our visit centered around the city of Charleston, which became one of my all time favorite cities. Charleston is a great place to walk and explore with unique and beautiful historic architecture. In the environs of Charleston were historic plantations with amazing gardens like Magnolia and Middleton. We timed it right because the gorgeous azaleas were blooming. We also got to visit the only tea plantation in the U.S., tour the U.S.S. Yorktown aircraft carrier where my dad served while in the Navy and marked another National Park off our list – Congaree, the park of tall trees. We also visited one of the largest oak trees in the U.S. – Angel Oak which is over 400 years old.

4. VIRGINIA

Fife and Drum Corps, Colonial Williamsburg

Virginia has a lot going for it. The state is exceptionally beautiful with some of the best scenery of our travels. The historical attractions are top notch. Some of our favorite historical places of our RV travels are here including Jamestown, Yorktown Battlefield, Jefferson’s Monticello, Madison’s Montpelier and Colonial Williamsburg. We visited another National Park – Shenandoah and explored the Blue Ridge Parkway with its amazing views. We were able to stay at an RV park right on the Parkway. Along the Blue Ridge we also listened to Appalachian music – one of our favorites was Floyd Country Store where music jams with flatfoot dancing is a weekly occurrence.

Great colonial era meals in Charlottesville

5. PENNSYLVANIA

Shannon and I at Constitution Hall in Philadelphia

There was a lot to interest us while visiting Pennsylvania. We began in Philadelphia where we had a memorable week with our daughter Shannon, son-in-law Jonathan and grandsons Luke and Levi who flew out for the visit. For those that love colonial history, which we do, Philadelphia was a place not to be missed. There were also fun museums to explore with the grandkids (like the Franklin Institute for science), a colorful Japanese balloon festival, great food at historic Reading Terminal Market and a lot of walking. After Philadelphia, we spent a few weeks in the Lancaster area which was a great introduction to the delights of Amish country. Then it was on to Gettysburg where we got to meet up with our son Matt and daughter-in-law Emma for several days of camping together and exploring Gettysburg Battlefield and town. This battlefield was a great finale after visiting a number of Civil War sites throughout the South. While in Pennsylvania we also visited one of my all time favorite botanical gardens – Longwood, toured two snack factories and explored George Washington’s winter headquarters at Valley Forge.

Matt and Emma cruising the Gettysburg Battlefield with their Vespas 🛵

6. Arizona

Sunset in Saguaro National Park

We love the desert and it doesn’t get much better than the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona. I could happily explore desert plants and wildlife for hours which we did at Saguaro National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Sabino Canyon and Catalina State Park. Ever since I first saw saguaro cactus 🌵 when Mark and I traveled from California to Tucson in the mid 1970’s, they have been one of my favorite plants. I never tire of seeing them with all their different sizes and shapes. Since we were visiting Arizona in the springtime, it was an added bonus that so much of the desert was blooming, especially after a heavier than usual rainfall season. Arizona also had some of our best birding experiences and I added some new birds to my life list. I also got to visit some new birding areas like the town of Portal and the Chiricahua Mountains in the Southeastern part of the State. Our favorite RV park was Tucson’s Rincon Country West which was mega RV living at its best with so many activities offered it was impossible to be bored. We expanded our interests and had fun during our five weeks here.

Mark rescued his fly away hat from the creek at Catalina State Park, Tucson

7. OHIO

President McKinley National Memorial in Canton

I think Mark and I were surprised how much we enjoyed our time in Ohio. It wasn’t that we had low expectations before visiting the state, it was just that everything we did seemed to exceed our expectations. Ohio also gets my vote for being the friendliest state of our travels. The people were laid back, eager to start up conversations with us and genuinely interested in our travels. Ohio had a really good mixture of interesting nature experiences, scenery and history. It was here I probably had the best birding experience of my life at Magee Marsh on Lake Erie. Seeing about twelve new warbler species close up and other life birds like Scarlet Tanagers and Trumpeter Swans was a fantastic experience. Ohio calls itself the state of presidents as eight were either born here or got their start. We visited the homes of three of those presidents – Garfield, McKinley and Taft. We really enjoyed our time in Ohio’s Amish country, the most beautiful of the Amish areas we visited. We explored Cuyahoga National Park for the first time where I was able to bike along the Cuyahoga River. Several favorite museums were visited in this State including Cleveland Museum of Art, the Warther ship and train carving museums and the Air Force Museum in Dayton. We saw Huffman Field where the Wright Brothers tested their first airplanes. I also really enjoyed the beautiful and unusual scenery at Hocking Hills State Park with its caves, gorges and waterfalls.

One of several presidential planes toured at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Dayton

8. MICHIGAN

Michigan Statehouse, Lansing – one of 14 state capitols visited

Michigan is one of the most beautiful states of our full time travels primarily because so much of it is located on the Great Lakes. (Coming soon, I still have blogs to write about the time we spent here in the month of July). It was in Michigan that we visited the best museum complex of our travels – the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village located in Dearborn. At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore we had a great nearby camping spot and explored one of the best outdoor areas of the state with one of the most scenic drives of our travels – Pierce Stocking. I enjoyed short hikes to overlooks of Lake Michigan, wandered over sand dunes and took a couple biking trips. It was here we had the best pie and grilled cheese of our travels at Cherry 🍒 Republic, a place for everything cherry. In the Upper Peninsula we stayed near the town of Munising and explored the majestic Pictured Rocks National Seashore on Lake Superior. It was a place of waterfalls, lighthouses and two different boat trips to see shipwreck remains and the Pictured Rocks from the water. It was also fun to learn about the unique culture (Yooper) of this area. Before leaving the State, we also visited the Keweenaw Peninsula where copper mining was once king.

Grand Island, Lake Superior

HONORABLE MENTION:

FLORIDA

Hiking in Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Reserve near St. Augustine

I won’t forget the first time I walked on the pier at St. Andrews State Park near Panama City and saw the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I was awestruck by the color and the white sand beaches. We saw a number of beautiful beaches on the Florida panhandle, some at Florida State Parks like Grayton Beach which were great places to visit during our stay. This is the state of my birth and I was able to visit for the first time since leaving at six months of age, the town of Pensacola with its naval base and famous air museum. Florida has one of my favorite cities of our travels – St. Augustine located on the Atlantic Ocean. I haven’t written a blog article about this city yet, but still hope to at some point. Claiming to be the oldest U.S. city, I loved all the history, buildings, attractions and beauty of this place. It had one of my favorite RV parks located within walking distance of the beach and the intracoastal canal. Florida was another great state for wildlife sightings with lots of birds at our campsite, state parks and wildlife refuges. Plus, at Wakulla Springs State Park we saw manatees for the first time.

I hope you enjoyed this look back at some of our experiences exploring in the past two years. It was a hard post to write because we have enjoyed so many wonderful places.

Stay tuned for posts on our stay in Michigan!

We interrupt this program…

#bethsdriver here. Just want to take a second to let you all know there has been an emergency that will affect the blog. We were in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula when there was a family medical emergency in California. We traveled 5 long days and are now in CA with the family. The emergency has been resolved but there will be some recovery and follow up issues. #explorerbeth has lots more to write about and will probably be back at it soon. As she has put out things like clock work I wanted to explain the hitch. Thanks so much for all of you who have been following and stay tuned as there will be more to come.

EB 1

#Bethsdriver here. I get a kick out of telling people “You know I really don’t like to travel.” I never have. But I always then follow up with “But I really like going places with Beth.” #Explorerbeth (too long to type so EB from now on) has always had her explorer heart. Travel and exploring has been a continuous passion since I have known her (married 43 years today!). So when it came time to think about retirement going on the road seemed a logical next step.

We have been on the road now about 21 months (643 days but EB likes months better). In that time we have seen and done a lot. We have taken over 36,000 pictures. I have gone through and looked at some of my favorite subject, EB. Me taking pictures of her taking pictures is a favorite pastime. So, I am going to post a few and hopefully they will be entertaining.

Her passion for this life we are living now is a delight. We both feel very fortunate to able to do what we are doing. Beth loves exploring and I love Exploring With Beth.

I’ll just put a few in no particular order. Can’t do too many because I constantly hound her to keep the articles short. But there may be more (You see the title is EB 1, to be followed by 2,3 and who knows?).

Banding humming birds in Arizona
On the Blue Riidge in Virginia
Well, Texas of course!
The desert
Sunsets,. one of her favorites
Waterfalls, another favorite
Saguaros, a favorite among favorites
Any danger for a good shot
My favorite. Frantically deleting pictures on her full phone to make room for the next.

I hope these have been fun. There are a lot more, I stopped at 100 in my album. Maybe I’ll post a few more from time to time.

We appreciate all you who take the time to check out the blog. EB puts a lot of effort, and really enjoys putting it out.

I have to hurry and get this out because she says she has one about ready to go and I can’t get in her way. Bye.

Video Test 2

The dancing clip seems maybe too long. I found another and trimmed it down to about 10 seconds. I’ll give it a try. It is Beth taking an archery lesson, yes, you heard right, in Maine. Let’s see if it hits the target?

Again let me know if/how it works. Thanks. By the way it is slow motion. Wanted to capture her in all her glory.

Video Testing – It’s alive!

One of the things (I hope) we can do now is put video on the blog, so I want to give it a test. It is kind of a complex process so it might take a few tries and adjustments. This one is kind of wacky. It is a sample of flat foot dancing at a jam session in Appalachia. We haven’t done many videos so not much of a selection. This one is about the length I want to try, about 30 seconds. If it does seem to work I will leave it up. I’d appreciate it if you could give a quick feedback as to how it works for you. Plays ok? Has sound? Whatever? No comments needed on the dancing, I have my own thoughts on that.

Wish me luck.

Testing and a note

Hello there and Happy New Year. Mark here with a little test and note about some changes. We use a program called Word Press to put out the blog. It is probably the most used platform for blogs, They have jut made some big changes to the program. It will not change what you see much, but the whole back end we use to make the blog is now different. So, we will have to do some learning and growing. A glitch or two might sneak in and we may have to do some testing from time to time.

Thanks again for all who are following us as we explore!

Checking out a lighthouse

I’ll throw in a pic of Beth to test adding pics.

Thanks again for looking!

Looking Back on 2018

As we reach the end of the year, I thought I would write a post highlighting our travels in 2018.   It was a big year of travel as we journeyed through the South, covered all the states along the Eastern seaboard and into the Appalachian states.   We finished up the year back in California where we started in August of 2017.   Our travels will continue in 2019 when we leave California in February and head for Arizona.   At this time our plan is to focus on several southwestern states before heading up to the Midwest, our focus from late spring through fall.   For now, follow along with us for a monthly summary of where we landed this past year.

January found us in Alabama staying in the city of Mobile for a while before heading south to our two-week campsite on Mobile Bay near Gulf Shores.   In Alabama we enjoyed Gulf Coast beaches, a nature preserve and great shrimp.   Highlights were a visit to the U.S.S. Alabama ship and Mardi Gras museum.   The third week of January we headed to our next camping spot for two weeks in the Florida Panhandle and our first look at the turquoise waters near Panama City, a sight I will not soon forget.   Above is a sunset photo from Gulf Shores, Alabama.

In February we enjoyed exploring Florida State parks along the Gulf, visited the Pensacola Air Museum and on the 10th of the month arrived to St. Augustine on the Atlantic for two weeks.   This was one of my favorite camp spots and cities we visited this year.   As the oldest city in America, there were more attractions and things to do here than any other place we visited so I was kept quite happily busy.  Above is a photo of Flagler College, a favorite architectural gem in St. Augustine.

March found us in the beautiful cities of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina.   People like to debate which of these two southern cities are their favorite.   Mark preferred Savannah but I fell in love with Charleston, although I found Savannah very nice too.   Exploring those cities on foot was a highlight and seeing all the azaleas in bloom made me very happy, especially at the plantation gardens near Charleston.   Above is a photo of azaleas at Savannah’s Forsyth Park, our favorite park to hang out in that city.   It was difficult to leave the South with the huge live oaks and hanging moss that I so enjoyed seeing every day.   Below a photo from the Wormsloe Estate in Savannah which features a 1.5 mile entrance of huge live oaks.

April found us spending four weeks in Virginia, two in Williamsburg and two in Charlottesville.   We saw lots of colonial history in Williamsburg, Jamestown and the Yorktown Battlefield.   In the Charlottesville area we visited the homes of three former presidents.   Spring in Virginia was gorgeous with green fields, hills and lots of blooming trees.   Below a photo of the fife and drum corp marching in Colonial Williamsburg.

In May we camped a week in Maryland, four nights in a state park in Delaware and then to New Jersey for our base camp while visiting Philadelphia.   Our family (Shannon, Jonathan, Luke and Levi) came out to join us for a wonderful week in this incredible city.   We walked the city seeing lots of historical sights and eating great food.   Mark and I then headed to the Amish country near Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a few weeks, an area I found fascinating to visit.   Below a picture of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.   Little Levi is dwarfed by the building.

June found us in Gettysburg where we toured the historic battlefield, the amazing National Park museum and the neat town of Gettysburg.   Mark and I had seen a number of Civil War sites in other states before arriving here and this turned out to be a perfect grand finale.   We got to camp here with our son and daughter-in-law, Matt and Emma.  In mid June we traveled to the lovely Finger Lakes area of New York, camping again with Matt and Emma.   We finished up the month in New York’s Hudson Valley where a highlight was visiting Franklin D. Roosevelt’s house and museum.   Below is a photo of Matt, Emma and me hanging out at Lincoln’s statue in the town of Gettysburg.

We spent the whole month of July in Maine, one of our favorite states.   Could this be the most beautiful state we visited this year?   After arriving it looked so good that I added on another week stay for us, making the total five weeks.   While staying at three different campgrounds we explored much of the coastal areas including Acadia National Park.   The lobster rolls were pretty good here too.

August found us in New Hampshire for a week staying in the beautiful White Mountains.   We explored waterfalls, rivers, a scenic byway and I took a tour up Mt. Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeastern U.S.   We next journeyed to the very green state of Vermont for a week before moving on to Massachusetts.    In the Berkshires we visited the museum of one of my favorite artists Norman Rockwell as well as a very cool Shaker farm.   Moving to another campsite in Massachusetts we explored the sites where the Revolutionary War started and hit the Massachusetts coast too in Gloucester.   Below, a photo of me near Glen Ellis Falls in New Hampshire.

In September we landed in delightful Newport, Rhode Island, another favorite city and some of the best weather on our trip – a whole week of sun and no rain!   Here we found history, beaches, coastal scenery, sailing, fancy homes to tour and a nature preserve to walk.   September also found us in Connecticut with much to explore including a trip highlight, the wonderful Mystic Seaport Museum.   We next headed to the rugged mountains of Eastern West Virginia where we had some of the funnest days of our trip enjoying several different historic train trips.   Below, a tall sailing ship in Newport, Rhode Island.

In October we enjoyed the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.   We had a great time listening to old-time mountain music and explored Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited park in America.   We also traveled and stayed for a week in southern Kentucky where we saw our first moon bow and then finished the month in Tennessee with visits to the Appalachian Museum and other scenic sights.   Below, late afternoon along the Blue Ridge in North Carolina.

In November we started driving west with a stop on the Mississippi River and the city of Memphis as well as a stay in Oklahoma City.   We made our way through the Texas Panhandle, New Mexico and Arizona followed closely by snow storms and freezing weather before finally arriving back in California.   We had a smoky drive north through the state, the result of the Camp fire in Northern California as well as other fires to the south.   We enjoyed a stay in Chico visiting with my parents and a very nice Thanksgiving with family.  After Thanksgiving on to French Camp RV park where we have been ever since.   Below, Mark enjoys a sunset at our Mississippi River campground.

I hope you enjoyed a look back on our year of traveling.   Wishing everyone a very happy New Year!