Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Carolina Beach Last Day and Shrimp Fest in Little River SC…

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Our last day at Carolina Beach we walked over to a nearby Brewery to play their 9 hole disc golf course. It was a nice short course which we played twice and of course it had the added benefit of  the ability to stop at the brewery for an after golf treat. To end our stay we drove over to Carolina Beach to have a beer an an eclectic dive bar called The Fat Pelican.

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It is a quirky dive bar with an 18 wheeler refrigerated truck attached to it.  Patrons go past the bar upon entering to walk up and into the truck to pick from over 400 bottled beers.  Once the beer is selected, it is opened and paid for at the bar.  This bar is chocked full of funny signs and beachy knick knacks. We found an outdoor area with cornhole boards and ended our day chatting with a very nice fellow in town on business from Richmond, Va. 

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The next morning we headed south through Myrtle Beach and Charleston SC to our next stop at Wishing Well Campground in Sunset Beach, NC. It was a small mom and pop Passport America park where we stayed 3 nights. The location is just south of Myrtle Beach so we were able to explore the area a bit before moving further south.

Before going to our overnight accommodations we stopped at Black's Tire and Service center. As I mentioned before we had a Goodyear G670 RV tire shipped there from the website Simpletire.com. I elected after calling for some quotes to use then because they sell tires cheap!!! I bought the tire online for hundreds of dollars less that what I had been quoted ($970 installed). Black's came highly recommended and when I called to verify that morning, sure enough my tire was there.

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We pulled around to an outside bay as instructed and didn’t even have to unhitch the CRV. They replaced our tire with the newly balanced one in less than an hour. Our total bill for removal of old tire, balancing and installation of new tire was under $60. My total savings by doing everything myself was more than $300. Yep, I will surely do this again for our next set of tires!!!

After setting up in Wishing Well campground the day was pretty shot so we spent a quiet day at home. The next day we drove into Myrtle Beach to check out the beaches from South Myrtle Beach to North Myrtle Beach. It is always nice to spend some time on the beach listening to the waves crash in…

Our last bit of excitement was attending the Shrimp Fest in Little River SC. The main reason I wanted to attend it was there was a Zydeco band named Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas playing. The fest itself was mostly just a bunch of vendors but the music we heard for a measly $5 admission was fantastic.

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First we heard a solo one man band dude who explained to the crowd that he had spent a lot of time in volunteering with his wife in Africa.He wrote and sang songs raising money for the people of Africa. Brian Ernst was pretty amazing and has an interesting story! The next band we head was a brass band called The Empire Strikes Brass. They were a very eclectic band that mostly resembled the band Chicago but had elements of Country and Western and even Hip Hop making for a very entertaining afternoon.

However, the cream of the crop was indeed Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas. The place was up and dancing by the third song as Zydeco so often makes even the person who doesn’t like to dance (like me)… well, dance!!!! The mixture of sounds from the lead, the squeezebox, spoons and keyboards had everyone in the audience moving and gyrating. What a fantastic ending to our stay before moving on…

NOTE: We are now south of Charleston but eave on Thursday to head to Brunswick Georgia for three nights.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Exploring Wilmington and Carolina Beach NC…

While at Carolina Beach State Park I was notified the tires for our Honda CRV were delivered to Florida and the tire for our RV was delivered to North Carolina. Now all I have to do is set up both installation appointments. I also still need to make an appointment with Cummins folks in Jacksonville to address the engine noise. All in due time…

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We sure are enjoying our stay at Carolina Beach State Park. This park is fantastic given our nice site and all the available hiking within the park. We take a walk around the park exploring different areas each morning and then in the afternoon we have gone outside the park to see what greater Wilmington has to offer..

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One afternoon we drove over to historic downtown Wilmington NC for an urban stroll. This part of Wilmington is really quite interesting. There is quite a variation in the styles of architecture in town.  There is also a neat section along the Cape Fear River which has a riverfront boardwalk with restaurants and taverns offering outdoor seating for patrons to take in the scenery and to watch the evening sunset. We ended the day at Front Street Brewery in downtown Wilmington for a brewery tour and their happy hour of fine craft beer and half price appetizers.What a great vibe this brewery has!

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Another day we explored Fort Parker at the southern end of the peninsula we are staying on. Fort Parker is a National Historic Site and there is a small visitors center with a museum of wartime artifacts. It is interesting to walk around the remnants of the hand built Civil War bunkered fort while reminiscing what life might have been like for those who were here in the 1800’s. We ended this day at Kickback Jacks for their happy hour which included 1/2 pound cheeseburgers with hand cut fries for only $5!!! It was delicious!

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On one of last few days we spent time at the beaches nearby. The beaches here are nice but the communities decided to charge for parking anywhere visitors would want to stop and look at the beach. Two fifty an hour for parking is a bit high in my opinion but we were finally able to explore a few beaches by seeking out some free parking a short distance away.  Kure Beach on the southern end had free parking near the waterfront so we feel it is the easiest and best one to visit when in the area.

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One more day in Carolina Beach then off to get a new tire on the RV if all goes well…

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Trials,Tribulations and Logistics…

imageWe had fun in Raleigh NC during our last weekend with Katie and Brooks We watched some great football games, consumed delicious food and enjoyed each others company.Sharon and Katie visited a bridal boutique once again so Katie could try on a few gowns. She still hasn't found THE dress but is having fun shopping.  Our last day there we all went over to Deep River Brewing where we enjoyed a few nice craft beers along with some Longleaf Swine BBQ from the food truck on premises. We also were able to meet some of Katie and Brooks' friends which was a treat.  It was a great sendoff for us as we must continue our migration south.

imageMonday morning we packed up and left Jordan Lake State Park on a drizzly morning. With the roads being wet I decided to take the boring Interstate 40 route instead of the preferred back road route. As a result we had to drive through southern Raleigh NC which as you can imagine was not fun because it seems to always be under construction and constantly loaded with traffic.

We left the traffic in Raleigh only to be greeted with heavy traffic in Wilmington NC some 165 miles later. We again endured the congestion in Wilmington and pulled into a large, beautiful site in Carolina Beach State Park. The reviews of this area were spot on educating us about setting up first then checking in at the Marina. We are so gad we heeded that advice as it could have been tight trying to turn around a big rig with a tow car in the boat lot beside the marina..

We will be in Carolina Beach NC for four nights as I need time to set up a lot of appointments for service on both the CRV and the RV. The logistics of setting up appointments, ordering tires and trying to get to the service centers on time as well as setting up campground reservations has been taxing. As of now I have a pair of Michelin Defender tires heading from a Maryland Costco to a Jacksonville Florida Costco to be installed on our CRV. We had to replace the back two a few months ago and needed to get the same tires for the front.

imageAlso we have been in need of a Goodyear G670 for our front-passenger side of our RV, When we had the front end aligned in Red Bay Alabama we were told we should get the tire replaced as it had worn oddly around the outside edge. The service tech said it wasn’t urgent but should be replaced. I have been trying to get it replaced for the last few months but was finally able to find a tire on simpletire.com. I expect to get an older DOT dated tire but am okay with it since our other tires are two years old now and we were able to save $250 using simpletire.com.

We are having that tire sent to Blacks Tire in a small town in South Carolina to have it balanced and installed just before we stop over near Myrtle Beach SC. So now all I have left to do is set up a service appointment with a Cummins Service Center to have them check out an odd sound coming from the engine. I suspect we have an issue with our turbocharger but not being an expert on diesel engines we will leave up the professional diagnosis to the professions.

If all goes well we will have the Cummins folks in Jacksonville Florida check out the engine and then we can get Sharon over to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville FL for her annual appointments. It has been lots of logistics planning to get all this done and still travel our planned route south. Now if only we can be assured by Imperial Bonita Estates we will have a nice place to stay in Bonita Springs FL for the winter after the recent extensive hurricane damage.. It isn’t looking to good right now so we may be looking for an alternative place to spend the winter in either Florida or back in Texas… sigh, more logistics…

NOTE: We are at Carolina Beach State Park then on into South Carolina to get our CRV tires replaced before going to Myrtle Beach SC…

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Visiting our Daughter and a Little Disc Golf in NC…

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Kerr Lake, North Carolina was a great two night layover and a place we would like to revisit but it was time to move south. Our next stop was about 85 miles south where we pulled into Jordan Lake’s Popular Point Campground. This is a North Carolina State Park and since we made no reservations we had our choice of all the walk-in sites in loop E.

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Most of the sites especially lakeside were for dry camping but on the upper part of the loop we found sites with 30 amp hookups and water. We found a nice, quiet, rather private,and level site for our 10 night stay. Poplar Point on Jordan Lake is another great park and with North Carolinas $6 per night discount for seniors over 62 years of age staying at this park is a steal!!!

Our reason for staying is to visit our daughter Katie and will stay with her each of the two weekends we are at the lake.  Since we arrived on Friday we quickly setup our campsite and then packed up for a three night stay with Katie in Raleigh. A short thirty minutes later we were at her place.

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This weekend we didn’t do a lot. I watched some college football with Katie’s fiancĂ© while Katie and Sharon went with some others to look at wedding dresses. While we didn’t really do a lot we certainly ate well and it is always nice to spend some time with Katie and Brooks.

Monday we were back at Jordan Lake where Sharon and I spent some time revisiting our favorite North Carolina disc golf courses. This area is loaded with some really scenic and fun courses allowing us to get our disc golf fix. Our favorite one in the area is an hour away in Pinehurst and we always make it a day when we visit there.

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Not only is the disc golf at Reservoir Park in Southern Pines NC one of the most scenic courses we have ever played the hiking around the reservoir is almost as fun. What a beautiful park the residents of this area have to enjoy each and every day. After disc golf we went into Pinehurst NC to revisit the Carolina Hotel built in 1895. We love sitting on the large covered wraparound porch in rocking chairs provided by the hotel.

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Before heading home we hit Maxie's a fun local watering hole,  We have also visited Carolina Brewery in nearby Pittsboro NC for an occasional happy hour. With only a few days left at Jordan Lake we will spend one last weekend with Katie and then continue our migration south.

NOTE: We are at Popular Point Campground at Jordan Lake in North Carolina. Our next stop will be a short stay at Carolina Beach State Park then on into South Carolina…

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Every Town has a Story–Henderson NC…

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We sure enjoyed our two night stay at Kerr Lake, North Carolina. When we left our friend's farm we knew we were going to be traveling one more long leg to be able to see Katie, our daughter, in Raleigh for the weekend. Katie wants her mom to help her pick out wedding dresses so we decided to move south about 250 miles to Kerr Lake so we would only be about 100 miles away from our stop near Raleigh.

We scored an absolutely beautiful waterfront site in Bullocksville Park one of the many parks at Lake Kerr. It is part of the North Carolina State Park System. At only $20.00 per night for 50 amp and water hookups it is a steal. I had to reserve it on Reserve America where they add an additional $6.00 reservation fee but I was treated to an additional bonus I didn’t expect. North Carolina parks give a nightly discount to Seniors at age 62 and older. A discount of $6.00 per night made our two night stay only $17.00 per night!!!! Thanks, North Carolina State Park System!

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We knew there wouldn’t be much to do in this area but with the first day mostly consumed as a travel day there was only one remaining day to explore the area. The only town of any size near the park is Henderson North Carolina which after doing a web search didn’t have a lot to offer. However it is our belief that every town has a story. So what did we find in Henderson NC?

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Roadside America pointed us to a an unparalleled roadside attraction. A local concrete artist and backhoe contactor named Ricky Pearce was the creator. The legs are 17 ft. high and weigh 160,000 pounds. “Inspired by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, local artist Ricky Pearce created these legs and across the street a pair of heels to go with them. The sculpture is called “Reminiscing,” which can be seen written if you walk beneath an arch while making your way around the legs. “ The kitsch in this artist rendering are the large bush(es) at the rear of the sculpture. Art? Tacky? Rude? Quirky? Who knows, but it certainly was interesting.

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Back at Bullocksville Park there were excellent roads and trails for walking around. The park is heavily wooded and the lake views are superb. We spotted a Bald Eagle a few times soaring over the lake but our last evening I was sitting outside birdwatching and seeing the typical summer southeastern birds. Next I saw a group of Turkey Vultures soaring close by and dropping down to land on the lake’s shoreline.

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Then I remembered a large dead stripped bass there and as I looked with my binoculars I confirmed what I thought, they were scavenging the dead fish. Suddenly they scattered and it was because the Bald Eagle flew in to land in a nearby tree. I slipped inside to grab my camera and snapped a few photos including one where it looked like the Eagle was smiling at me. The Eagle never dropped in to take the fish so I assume he was not that hungry and a short while later I saw him fly off.

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I loved our two night stay at Kerr Lake and will definitely stay there again!!!

NOTE: We left Kerr Lake in North Carolina with plans to move on to Dickens RV Park but after calling them discovered they were full… so onto Plan B, Jordan Lake…

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Little Down Time in the Shenandoah Valley…

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Now that we have settled in at our friend's farm in The Shenandoah Valley we sure have enjoyed a few days of doing nothing but relaxing after our whirlwind travel south. We have visited here often enough that we fall into a similar routine once we arrive. Every morning we wake up and enjoy a leisurely breakfast while having the luxury of looking out over the Valley.

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After breakfast we take a walk down to the Shenandoah River where we never tire of the panoramic views of the river, the farmland and surrounding mountains. The river has been down a bit from our last visit but still plentiful enough to encourage wildlife. One morning we spotted what I am pretty sure was a mink. We startled it along the banks of the river and watched it scurry off.

We almost always see a few deer, a pair or red-tailed hawks, squirrels and rabbits. Occasionally we see turkey and bald eagles. A morning or two ago we spotted a pair of bald eagles. A funny sight occurred as one eagle was settled on old dead tree branch looking out over the river. Another eagle came to light on the branch beside him and when it did the branch broke and both eagles fell several feet before they both righted themselves to fly off. How cool that was to see…

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We have also noticed a few interesting insects on our walks. Wooly worms are rather abundant as we have seen them most everywhere but my favorite insect sighting has been seeing the velvet ants in the area this fall.

Velvet ants are not actually ants at all as they are in the wasp family. The beautiful velvety red female is the one most often spotted. She is wingless as her counterpart male is not. As such she is often misidentified as an ant and not the wasp she actually is. Being a wasp she hasp a vicious sting but thankfully has no interest in stinging anyone unless she is provoked.

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Another favorite afternoon activity has been playing a little disc golf at the County Park nearby.  It is a very nicely laid out course with some challenging baskets. It always makes for a fun afternoon and we have happily seen some improvements in our game after having played the course several times. At the end of each day we would enjoy a happy hour and cook a nice meal to enjoy with our spectacular views…

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We at a bit concerned about our winter home this year as we have reservations for Imperial Bonita Estates (IBE) in Bonita Springs Florida. You may not remember or know but that is the site where Hurricane Irma made landfall after hitting the Keys.The hurricane caused a lot of damage to the park but most of the damage came form the floodwaters of the Imperial River which has only in the last day finally begun making its way back into its banks. There is much to do to ready IBE for winter guests and our reservation was to be for three months beginning December 1st. We figure we will wait another week or two to see if we will need to find another place to winter or not  Oh well, such is life of the wandering full-timers on the Road of Retirement…

NOTE: We left Toms Brook Virginia today and headed south to Kerr Lake in North Carolina for a few nights. Then on to Dickins RV Park south of Raleigh North Carolina to spend some time with our daughter who recently got engaged…