Camping: a spring celebration!

When we decided to go camping in March, we didn’t really count on a cold snap! We are Georgia born and Georgia bred, so when temps get into the low 50’s, our southern bones get to shivering.

Since driver is not yet retired, our weekend trips are within an hour of home. Really, when you wake up to the sounds of birds chirping and the smell of bacon sizzling, it doesn’t matter how far one traveled to escape their routine, just that one escaped.

Our trip began with a chilly but nice four day excursion to Tybee Island. It’s about 45 minutes away but it *feels* like a vacation.

I drove separately this time and though I’ve seen them many, many times, I paid attention to the sights along the way.

There was the little trek toward Bay Street, where the very tall Talmadge Bridges spans across the Savannah River. My route would not take me across, but I have driven over it many times. Here’s a shot of it from the Bridge and Tunnel Club

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Who knew there was a club for bridges – let alone tunnels? I’ll be checking out their site.
So I drove under the bridge and on to Historic Bay Street, where students from the Savannah College of art and Design seemed to have just been released from class.

20140403-002305.jpg The college campus is spread all over the city proper, so seeing backpacks, art supply bags and huge portfolio folders tucked under an arm is not at all unusual.
Historic Bay Street is a must see – even for those of us who live here. Today it is a mix of old and new- mostly old- architecture.

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After Bay Street, one follows the trail to the islands. You know you’re on your way when you see this drawbridge.

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I have to admit, drawbridges freak me out a little and I’m somewhat overjoyed once I’m safely on the other side. It’s just unnatural for a bridge to open up in the middle. It just is.
Having made that death-defying leap across the bridge, I drove past marshland, river ways and crossed over a few islands.
And then I saw this.

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The light had just changed when I got this shot. The famed Johnny Mercer, Savannah son, musician, lyricist, and all around local-guy-did-well, has this street as well as a theater named after him.
Read a bit further for more on Johnny M.
After a trek along the mostly two-lane Tybee Island road, I arrived at the city owned River’s End Campground.

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The first morning, Driver and I were delighted to meet new friends just next door to our camp. Benny and Donna are on the right. Driver’s sis Jane and husband Randy also joined us at camp. We spent absolute DAYS in this circle of chairs, feeling as if we had been friends with our new buds all along.

20140403-005232.jpgSince spring was blooming all around, we decided to go by Bonaventure Cemetery it’s famous for so many things, including an abundance of huge oak trees and a breathtaking display of azaleas in the spring. We were just about a week early, so instead of floral shots, I took the following pics:

20140403-010523.jpgThis is the bench in the Johnny Mercer family plot.

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20140403-010629.jpgThe rest of these are just some monuments that I found to be exceptionally beautiful:

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20140403-011136.jpgA fireside chat followed our Bonaventure excursion, and the next morning we did this:

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20140403-011434.jpgAfter breakfast, “us girls” took a walk to the many shops nearby. I saw this and it was hard- very hard- to leave it in the store:

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20140403-011620.jpgupon our return I woke these two camp critters, interrupting their little nap time:

20140403-011801.jpgEvery camping trip has to end – well, until we are retired- and here’s driver getting ready to close up shop and pull Baby Beluga home.

20140403-011922.jpgOnce there, she got a bath.

20140403-012008.jpgOh, and here’s a sweet shot of my sis in law and her traveling bunny

20140403-013011.jpgNow just in case you read this and think of how perfect it all sounds, please scroll a few posts down and see “The Truth”. It’s not ALL sugar and spice.
But for now, and until the next trip, that’s just how I want to remember it.
Thanks for stopping by, and God bless.

Post-Christmas trip!

We stopped by the storage lot this morning to get Baby Beluga ready for our next trip. I’m excited because it’s a week away on the coast! Though it’s too cold to take a dip, there’s a lake with a beach and plenty of walking to be done. We will also bike to the deep water pier and watch these:

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Yes, MANATEES! Oh, I can’t wait!

So Baby was dutifully waiting for us, all big and wonderful that she is.

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We will go back this evening to turn on the fridge and leave in the morning. Since it’s chilly out, there will be much crafting, movie watching and sitting by the fire pit. It’s gonna be a week of easy. I’m loving it already.
Watch my blog for more!
Thanks for visiting, and God bless you in the New Year and always.
Kathy Bo

A month to preview full-timing

We have been parked for three weeks, hooked up to water, sewer and electric. Notice I didn’t say “and fabulous Internet and cable TV.”

While Driver and I were considering staying the whole month, we lived here for two weeks until we decided the drive for him to go to work was too tedious each day.

We realized then that full-timing at retirement will be lots different when he is here with me and doesn’t have to be somewhere five days each week.

For now it’s a nice practice run. Here’s what we have learned:

We love it.

We really do.

No surprise, especially considering how we made a decision after that long trip in July, to go ahead and get “the” RV. It makes perfect sense if one considers that we can pay for it better now than when he retires and I have twice as much husband and half as much money each month.

So, dear reader, meet our new Baby Beluga. 20130920-162953.jpg

She’s a biggun. But then again, she’s a Beluga for Heaven’s sake.

You can see our house peeking out just a wee bit at the top of her. It’s the gray one. Yeah. Hidden.

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Driver was all excited once he towed her home. I think part of his excitement was that he would get to tow her again right away since she couldn’t stay parked there.

And her visit was oh, so temporary because we have tiny yards and an HOA that frowns upon such things as 5th wheels parked at the curb.

Off to the storage place she went, but not for long. We decided to take her the very next week to a campground about an hour from the house, to practice, as I said early on in this post.

We packed a lot of clothes, food and – since I would be holding down the fort for a while- a ton of papercrafting goodies came with us.

I made a lot of things including this
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And if you love crafting, you can see even more here on my crafting blog

One of the very best things about camping here 20130920-190716.jpg
Is that we are just about 10 minutes from The Boy and his wife Emily and the grandLittles.

Driver and I took long walks with them. It was pretty perfect. 20130920-191040.jpg
Speaking of Littles- our pups love Beluga too. 20130920-191340.jpg
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We ended up staying two weeks and for the rest of the month we are coming back on weekends. It is so sweet and I do love this lifestyle. It will be even better when we can do it for long months on end. For now, I think a little house somewhere is in order, just to take a break now and then.

But we aren’t making any big decisions just yet; we are simply loving Baby Beluga and all that she has to offer.

Right now I’m blogging from camp, sitting in a camp chair with pups in the “yard”. We have just finished dinner, Driver is preparing a fire and it’s a perfect Friday night.

Sweet moments indeed.

Thanks for stopping by and God bless.

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Comin’ Round Chattahoochee Bend

Though this post is listed in “favorite” parks, I assure all dear readers of my blog that it is indeed, my LEAST favorite. But… Keep in mind I’m a glamper- not a camper- I enjoy satellite TV (none here) WiFi (zero here) and septic hook ups at our site (Driver is in the process of dumping our tanks at the community dump station) and while I don’t EXPECT a huge pool and amenities like we found in Gulf State Park, (see post below- we LOVED it!) I certainly have to do a Snoopy Dance once we have those comforts.

That said, if you enjoy roughing it, hiking wooded (read: snaky) trails, a muddy Chattahoochee River and absolutely nothing but outdoor things to do, then this would be your dream come true. See? That’s why it’s listed “favorites” – SOMEONE has to love this place.

About 35 min away from humanity, we made sure to have all provisions as soon as we realized how far away we would be if we ran out of something.

Why did we come here? 1) I had some business in a town nearby 2) it was the closest place we could find and 3) It was highly recommended by our daughter, who I truly realize now, thoroughly enjoys the Great Outdoors.

My business meeting was delayed SEVERAL times which made us stay here longer and caused me to use almost all of our megagigs or whatever measure it is when one runs out of Internet on their phone.

Driver was so sweet to buy some for me so I could live a somewhat normal life until he could get me back to civilization. I’m kinda thinkin he bought it so HE would have some peace and quiet by keeping me busy.

Meanwhile, he did his best to entertain me. More on that in a minute.

The first day we had traveled over 7 hours, from Gulf Shores to this park and came in on narrow, winding roads. The hills are so steep here (I’m a Georgia girl so give me a break) there are signs that say, “Hill Blocks View”. They aren’t kidding. It’s like being in the foothills of the North Ga mountains.

I’m not a fan.

I tried to be sweet and patient but dang skippy, I was D*O*N*E and found myself apologizing to Driver for my clear lack of enthusiasm. A lot.

The Visitors Center was closed when we arrived. I got out and, though I was pretty sure I heard BANJOS I scurried up the steps of this place (scurried to escape bears)

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And had no problem “finding” this:

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Here’s our set up, in the banjo-playing boonies:

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The pups were thrilled to sniff the abundance of wildlife that no doubt was holed up in THAT BUSH OVER THERE for Heaven’s sake. They alerted on so many things and I was fairly certain bears and coyotes were waiting on me to step out of that camper to serve them dinner on leashes.

So I didn’t. UNLESS I took my mace AND Driver. Not sure how hard it would be to mace a bear but I’m not above trying.

One fabulous day we drove to Newnan to pick up daughter and the GrandLittle. They spent the day with us at Lot 124, PoDunk USA. We were having a fabulous day until I was taken aback when our daughter Aubern strapped baby Phoebe Jo to her back and announced they were GOING ON A HIKE.

Wait.

I was not amused. She ignored my worries. Have you thought of the bears, snakes and ticks? And what about late July in South Georgia, in the HEAT OF THE DAY for Heaven’s sake? She headed out the door.

Driver, who is rarely if ever, taken aback, poked his head into the RV and announced he was going with them.

We were all delighted for our individual reasons, but being without cable or decent Internet for days, I was overjoyed. I told y’all I’m a cheap date, didn’t I? Doesn’t take much.

Which leads me to this: The night before we left, my long awaited business was FINALLY concluded. Driver announced he had prepared a rum and Diet Coke for me, which is always special because I rarely drink, and he’d set up a movie outdoors. It’s one of my favorites, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

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So we sat with our puppies, sipped Rum and Cokes, ate Pringles (I’m not a cook, y’all) and watched our movie.
On the way out of the park in PoDunk, USA, I took these pix of the Visitor’s Center.

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And here we are, parked in all our bigness, Driver giving us that last flush as we are all packed up and ready to set sail for home.

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We have about 6 hours ahead of us, normally a four hour trip but we don’t run as fast as we do when we aren’t towing. We have agreed to stop along the way if Driver is tired, but otherwise we’ll be on our back porch tonight.
Wagons ho!
God bless and thanks for stopping by!

Gulf State Park

We arrived at Gulf State Park after a scenic drive along the coast via Pensacola. Check in was easy and efficient. Thankful to get a pull through, we began setting up our little-big “home away from home”.

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This is a super nice park with everything one would need except for decent Internet and hook ups for cable. I love my Internet as much as the next web-obsessed blogger, but it’s not been too bad. I’m actually blogging from my iPhone right now.
What does the park have? Well, here’s a sample:

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The laundromat was nice but there is no change machine. You can get change at the camp store but it closes at some point so there were a few folks asking for change most of the time we were there. This is 2013 and we spent $13 to wash and dry 3 loads. There’s a trick to saving here: you can add a quarter to extend dryer time. If you wait until the time runs out you have to pay $1.25 all over again.
Another hint: Gulf State Park is smack dab in the middle of EVERYTHING. There are lots of regional restaurants (more on THOSE later!) grocery and convenience stores, tacky souvenir shops and at least two WalMarts. Avoid the Wally on Orange Beach- it is tiny and mostly food. Turn right out of the park (use GPS since I can’t recall the name of the road) and you’ll find a super WalMart, Target, auto parts stores and chain restaurants.

Now: On to the pool…
This pool is HUGE. Hard to believe it is a state funded pool, especially when you consider the awesome fenced in kid’s splash pad! The pool is just over 4 ft deep but features a fountain in the middle. And us, without the grand kids! But our friends came from Daphne, Ala and we got to watch our little two-year old buddy Hudson have a blast!

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Across from the pool is the laundry, camp store and pavilion with picnic tables right along the smallest of three park lakes. Here’s the view from the pavilion:

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You may not notice a little sign saying not to “feed or aggravate” the alligators. Yes, there ARE alligators here and I’m not a fan of them, so I won’t be staying “waterfront” when we return. These folks don’t seem to mind though:

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Another perk of this state park is free parking at certain beach areas just across the highway (driving distance) and we took advantage of that perk today. I love the white sands of the Gulf beaches.

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We ended our day as we have begun each one, here at pull-through site 194; saying a cheerful greeting to this little guy. I named him Mr. Brown.

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I really appreciate your visiting my blog. This retired newspaper features writer is blessed to have such a fun outlet in which to share. Please sign up to be notified of the latest posts. There’s lots more to come!
God bless you!

Our time at Fort Wilderness!

When it comes to parking a 5th wheel, Fort Wilderness gets a bad rap on some websites and particularly on the Fort Wilderness FW sites app. We read about the narrow roads inside the various loops – and how difficult it is to back in.

While its true there are no pull thru sites, negotiating the roads and parking our rig just wasn’t a big deal – and we are VERY new at all this!

Driver figured it out – he tends to do that – and showed me how the site we were assigned had been widened, so perhaps the folks who created the app haven’t updated it. Sure enough, a wide swath of concrete made our site easily accessible. We did get a preferred site, so it could be that only the upgraded sites are wider so do ask before reserving.

Here we are all set up.

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There’s a lot we didn’t do, like dress up the outside. We had torrential downpours every few hours! But with no kids or grandLittles along we didn’t mind it much at all. We actually enjoyed just being “away” and not on task.
In between thunderstorms we set out to discover Fort Wilderness. Sometimes we rode our bikes, other times we set off on Good Ole 140!

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We rented the golf cart and happy that we did! The property is HUGE!
We also took a few boats places like across the lake at Downtown Disney.

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While cruising, we found out that Disney’s Pleasure Island will be completely transformed in 3 years. Total remake. Can’t wait to see the latest and greatest!
Speaking of cruises, we could not believe this… We were hanging out at the Ft Wilderness beach, chatting with a boat captain who was waiting on a group of folks who had booked a private cruise to see the Electrical Water Pageant and the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks. Well, the group cancelled and the captain offered the tour to us! We boarded, along with a family of 5, none of us believing how fortunate we were! This trip is well over $300 and we went for free. Such a blessing. Just being on the water, in the dark, waiting, then seeing those lights and then the fireworks- our front row seats were simply A*M*A*Z*I*N*G!!!!

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The fireworks were incredible and we even heard the “magical” story over the boat’s radio. Wow, wow and WOW. What a night it was.
We spent the next day at Epcot, the only park we would visit during our stay. The campground amenities were great so we enjoyed swimming, walking the pups, biking, dining, and hanging out at the campfire- when it wasn’t raining!
Here I am with the Chippendales! Oh wait- its just Chip!

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Here’s Cowboy Bob- he was great! I haven’t done a campfire sing-along since my kids were little!

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And of course, there was a campfire!

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Later, we sat in Good Ole 140 and enjoyed a drive-in effect during movie time.

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That’s all for today- thanks for stopping by and God bless!

Disney’s Fort Wilderness

We had a very long drive as we headed to Fort Wilderness and it was our first “long” trip. Like a little kid hanging on to the side of the pool, we have camped just an hour or so from home since we brought Baby Beluga (our 36 ft 5th wheel) home. It was finally time for us to spread our wings and boy, did we. It took 7 1/2 hours in rain and heavy traffic in Jacksonville and Orlando. We were whipped.

But we stopped along the way and took the pups shopping at Camping World.

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This was when they started begging for stuff

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The parking lot was super hot so I strolled them back to our parking spot.

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Good thing they are so cute. They didn’t help load Beluga, not one bit.

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After shopping, the pups zonked out.

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More rain, long lines of traffic and finally we arrived. I was one Happy Camper when I saw this sign.

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But SERIOUSLY HAPPY when I saw THIS sign

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Here we are, waiting in line to check in. The adventure begins!

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