Friday, May 21, 2010

Settling In

We are settled in here at Camp Hatteras in Rodanthe, NC. Everyone we talked to said that the Outer Banks (the OBX as they say here) was one of the nicest places and so far as we have seen it really is. Long stretches of beaches are in pristine condition, much like they must have been before the OBX were inhabited. It still is rather an odd but beautiful place. In some sections you can see both Pamlico Sound on one side and the Atlantic on the other. Rodanthe is a mecca for kite surfers and the colorful arcs of the kites that drag the kite surfers through the water at amazing speeds look amazingly like multi-colored birds swooping and soaring through the air.

There is a price to be paid for the wild beauty and relative solitude of the place. The nearest "real" grocery store is in a place called Avon, 17 miles away. Wal Mart is a mere 45 miles away in Kitty Hawk. That doesn't sound too too far until you consider that the roads here are single lane and not as good as Galilee Church road.
However the food, particularly the seafood, is excellent. The assistant manager here bought a bushel of blue crabs and steamed them Monday night. Never having had fresh crab, we were a bit apprehensive about going. I can now say, without any reservation or hesitation, we are crab fools. If you ever go to a crab boil though, be sure to go by Home Depot and get a hazmat suit. Eating fresh crab is without a doubt the messiest event having anything to do with food on the damn planet. And, to eat enough to assuage a normal person's hunger will take anywhere between 6 hours and 4 days. Once you pick the suckers clean though, the crab meat is most excellent. A crab boil, at least here, is a social event, so the time passes pretty quickly. The local standard is to drink 3 beers for each crab eaten. Wait, that might be 1 beer for every three crabs. I forget, but I like the first one best.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Heading Out Again,,,,

We are officially back on the road. We left out on Tuesday and stayed the first night in Statesboro. Leaving Stateboro we only had a short ride to Charleston, SC. We stayed at James Island County Campground, which was absolutely beautiful. We have stayed in some magnificent resorts, and few of them matched the beauty of this one. Now, having said that, the getting there and leaving is hazardous to the well being of your RV if you are traveling in a Class A motor home. The streets leading to the campground are lined with beautiful oak trees. Unfortunately, many of them have limbs that are growing downward and on the way in a limb that was impossible to miss hit one of our antennas and the satellite dome. From the sound of it we thought it destroyed both, but incredibly, nothing was damaged.

If you are in Charleston and want excellent seafood at reasonable prices, we have to recommend Hyman's Restaurant on Meeting street. Food was outstanding as was the service. A big thanks to Ken and Sheryl Cochran for the recommendation!

When we left James Island County Park, tree limbs from trees lining the road are growing out into the street, and they are impossible to avoid if there is on-coming traffic. The good news is I was able to wax out several long scratches on the passenger side.

It is now Friday and we are in Myrtle Beach at a great campground called Ocean Lakes. It is very large but well maintained. It offers many amenities and a number of activities each day. We are staying here until Saturday morning and then we will head for Jacksonville, NC for the night.

We had to drive a few miles down the beach to Murrell's Inlet for really great seafood. We stopped at Drunken Jacks where we had excellent bar service, good restaurant service, and the seafood was very good.

We left Ocean Lakes Saturday and headed north. We planned to stay at a campgound near Jacksonville, NC but we made such good time we drove on to Washington, NC and stayed in Trantor's RV resort. Trantor's is a very good overnight stop. It is very clean and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

We crossed the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge around noon Sunday. It is our first visit to the Outer Banks (OBX) and the beauty that everyone who has visited here describes is evident the minute you drive onto the islands. We entered at Nags Head and drove the 23 miles down to Rodanthe and Camp Hatteras and we arrived around 2:30.

Rodanthe is a small town with a few markets, several restaurants, a few kite shops (Rodanthe is a favorite location for the kite surfers) and many pretty rental houses. The nearest "real" grocery store is 17 miles south toward Okracoke. A Harris Teeter (my favorite) is 23 miles north back in Nags Head, and a Wal Mart is located about 35 miles north in Kitty Hawk.

Camp Hatteras is a very nice RV resort and the staff are very friendly. We were made to feel welcome by all the staff we came in contact with and we are looking forward to working with everyone. We have a very nice site that is in short walking distance to the beach on the Atlantic side and an equally short walking distance to Pamlico sound. We have free access to all the resort's amenities, including kayaks, swimming pools, miniature golf, and tennis courts.

Today (Monday, May 10) we are just going to spend the day exploring. One thing we are looking forward to is getting the Jeep on the beach and spending some serious time 4 wheeling (yes, that is allowed here, as are fires on the beach).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Heading Out for the Summer

After about 2 months of downtime from traveling, we are getting things ready to get back on the road again. In a couple of weeks we will head out for North Carolina and the Outer Banks for the summer. Our time here in Georgia has been good in most aspects, but in others it has not.

A month ago we were heading back from a short visit at my daughter's, which unfortunately takes us through Atlanta. We were cruising along when someone in a white Chevrolet pickup passed us on the left and sideswiped us. It looked as if he was going to lose it right in front of us because he fish-tailed violently. He got control and then sped away at a high rate of speed. Derita got the binoculars and tried to read his plate but he was too far away. That little event cost the insurance company over $2000 and us the deductible.

About a week later we had a hail storm that punched holes in the convertible top of the Jeep. This was a week after insurance replaced the windshield because of a crack that ran across half the windshield.

I do hope that we have no more interesting events like those.

Brent came home on a 2 week leave from Iraq and to maximize family time we all went on a 4 day 5 night cruise to the Bahamas. Never having been on a cruise I was skeptical about going, but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and would not hesitate to go on another one. Actually, I think this one will pave the way for an Alaskan cruise that Derita has been wanting to do.

I think when we leave out for the OBX we will first go to Charleston and stay there a couple of days and then do the same in Myrtle Beach. Derita has never been to either place so I think she will really enjoy both locations.

The picture to the right is of the harbor in Nassau as seen from the top deck of the Carnival Cruise Line "Fun Ship" Fascination. It really was a fun ship. The staff and crew were exceptional.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

East Bound and Down

After a great stay in Arizona we are regretfully about to head back east. The time we spent in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona was absolutely wonderful, and it passed all too quickly. We saw magnificent vistas, met some great people, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Desert Pueblo in Tucson. The park is residence to some of the nicest and friendliest people we have ever met, and we will miss them all.

We are planning to leave Tucson a little earlier than our scheduled departure date so that we could check out some RV resorts in Texas that we might have an interest in staying for a few months next winter, but the weather might not cooperate. Today, North Georgia is blanketed with more snow than we have seen in years, and the southern states are experiencing record low temperatures and various combinations of precipitation, including the frozen kind. As a contrast to that the weather here couldn't be more different. We were in shirtsleeves and shorts here yesterday and I believe the high was about 69 degrees. We have absolutely no interest in driving back to sit in below freezing temperatures and heavy (for Georgia) snow cover. I suppose time will tell as to whether we head east bound and down or extend our stay in the western states a while longer.

We left Desert Pueblo and Tucson Wednesday, Feb. 17 for Las Cruces, NM. We stayed at Hacienda again and the next morning we headed for Kerrville, Tx. We arrived at Buckhorn Lake RV Resort around 2:30 which left us several hours to visit the area.

If you pass through Kerrville, you must eat at Billy Gene's restaurant. One of my favorite meals is meatloaf, and I am almost always disappointed when I order it, but the meatloaf at Billy Gene's is easily the best I have ever eaten. From listening to other customer's comments the other items on the menu must be equally as good.

Saturday we visited Fredericksburg, a town of German heritage about 20 miles from Kerrville  known for its shopping and German restaurants. Derita and I were transported back in time to our childhood when we went into the dime store there. It was an exact copy (working copy) of the dime store of our youth.

Tonight we are in Biloxi staying at at a very nice RV Resort called Majestic Oaks. We stayed here on our way out west and the low that night was 19 degrees. Currently it is 55 degrees. What a difference 6 weeks makes. We will arrive in panama City Beach tomorrow.

Last night we stopped in Beaumont, Tx. and stayed the night at a nice RV park called Gulf Shores RV Park. 

When we do get back home we will stay in Georgia for a few weeks to be with family and friends, and then we are off to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for the summer. We are workamping at a very nice resort, and we are definitely looking forward to being back on the beach.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Westward Ho

A lot has happened since our last post. We completed our commitment at Camping on the Gulf in Destin, Fl. in September, 2009, and we headed home to be with the kids and family for the holidays. We served as campground hosts in one of Georgia's state parks from October through the middle of December, and on December 28 we headed back to Florida to see some old friends. We stayed in Panama City Beach for about a week, then we headed west toward Tucson, Az.

We spent the first night on the road in Biloxi, MS. Derita and a group from Emerald Coast RV Beach Resort went to the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi last winter, but I had never even been in a casino, so that was one of the things we planned to do. By the time we had everything set up, showered and dressed to go out, the temperature had fallen to 19 degrees, and we decided to just go out for dinner. One of the staff at the RV Resort suggested that we eat at The Biloxi Schooner, which was fairly close by. The restaurant turned out to be an unpretentious storefront restaurant serving excellent seafood at very reasonable prices. If you happen to be in Biloxi and want good seafood, plan to go to The Biloxi Schooner, but don't dress up. It is not that kind of place. It is located only a couple of blocks from the Beau Rivage Casino.

After leaving Biloxi, we planned to spend a couple of days in New Orleans, but the cold wave was producing record low temperatures so we decided to make that stop some other time. Our second stop was in Lake Charles, LA. Crossing the Lake Charles bridge is an eye opening experience. As you approach the bridge it appears to be at a 45 degree angle. It really is steep, but once actually on the bridge it is not as steep as it appears.

From there we made it to San Antonio, TX. where we stayed 3 days. Everyone told us to be sure to go to San Antonio's Riverwalk, so the morning after our arrival we headed downtown. When we went down to Riverwalk, the river was bone dry. The city closes the river each year to clean the river bed, and that usually takes place in late January. City officials must have known we were coming because they closed the river two weeks earlier than usual.

The Alamo was very interesting. I think everything we know about the Alamo is derived from the movies, particularly the one starring John Wayne. Reality is quite different. The movie pictured a high walled compound that appeared to be somewhat easy to defend. The real Alamo is much smaller than depicted in the movie and the walls are not much higher than a tall person's head. The small museum on site has some interesting items, but several of the exhibits were being renovated when we visited.

After leaving San Antonio, we stayed the night at Fort Stockton and then headed to Carlsbad, NM. We stayed three days in Carlsbad where we toured the caverns. We stayed at the Carlsbad KOA. Everything about the Carlsbad KOA is absolutely top notch. They have a restaurant on site and if you prefer not to eat in they will deliver your order to your site at a time you specify.
The barbecue ribs were a big hit.

On the way to Las Cruces we went by the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The mountains are what remains of an ancient reef and can be seen for miles. One of the more spectacular sites located in the Guadalupe Mountains is El Capitan, the huge monolith made famous in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (see photo).

Las Cruces is a beautiful city with breathtaking scenery. Of course we had to visit Old Mesilla and eat at La Posta. The restaurant is an old stage coach stop on the El Paso - Los Angeles route. Just down from La Posta and across the street is the building where Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to death. He killed two deputies there when he escaped.

We are now in Tucson and the sunsets here are absolutely incredible. I have never seen anything like them. Even the fabled sunsets in Key West can't rival the ones seen here. The air out here is crystal clear and one can see incredible distances with almost total clarity. A mountain range can look to be so close as to be able to walk to the base of the mountains in just a few minutes, but will take an hour or more to reach using a car.

Arizona (and the west, actually) is not what I expected it to be. I imagined the desert part of it as being flat and dusty with arid expanses as far as the eye could see, and maybe that is accurate in areas that I have not yet seen. What I have seen, however, coming from Las Cruces, NM to Tucson, to Tombstone and to Las Vegas, NV, is hauntingly beautiful vistas that include some of the most beautiful mountain ranges I have ever seen, and in every direction you look. Even the desert has its own beauty that I find hard to accurately describe. If you live back east and have never been "out west", then you are destined to never see the sky in all its glory. A blue so blue that it literally defies description. At night the stars seem close enough to touch, and the sky is filled with them. Last week we had a full moon, and it looked as if it was just beyond arms length. I suppose that the air clarity accounts for this. I now can easily understand why people who came out here from New York, Pennsylvania, etc. back in the late 1800's never went back. To go back east will be like seeing things in black and white, or in shades of gray, at least for a while.

Today (February 2, 2010) we are in Las Vegas after driving up yesterday from Tucson. This is our first time here. Our hotel is located near the Fremont Street Experience, which has the largest big screen television in the world. The screen is suspended overhead and extends for a full city block (press the video button on our web page and select Fremont Street Experience - Las Vegas).

Not being much for gambling, we spent most of the next day walking on the "strip" touring the casinos. I have to say we were very impressed with some of them, particularly the Bellagio with the dancing fountains, the Venetian's gondoliers, Caesars Palace and other casinos too numerous to mention.

We visited the pawn shop featured on the History Channel's Pawn Stars. It was around 7:00 pm when we went by so none of the people featured on the show were there. We went back the next morning, but there was a long line waiting to get in because they were filming new episodes. We decided not to wait.

On our trip back to Tucson, we drove down to Lake Havasu and after going through Lake Havasu City the road followed the Colorado River until we got to Parker. We saw several spectacular RV resorts located on the banks of the Colorado and we plan to research them for possible future visits.