Malibu selfie-01Malibu selfie-01 Hello and welcome to Mike and Donna's retirement adventures.

After many years of working and taking care of family, we decided to look for adventures in other places.

Donna's retirement came at the request of her former manager (little Hitler) on 9/27/21 after 18 years with the IT vendor at the San Diego Convention Center. Mikes retirement began 46 years after high school on 3/18/22.

We have always liked cars and driving; we love to travel. We decided life on the road could be a new challenge/adventure for us.

In August (2021) we ordered a new home: An Airstream 30' Classic and a new Dodge RAM 2500 Diesel truck to tow it.

On Friday December 2, 2022, we finally took possession of it.

Have fun following us down the road.

 

 

 

 

 

February 20 – 26 Mandeville, Louisiana (outside of New Orleans)

February 27, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Fontainebleau State Park

 

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A short drive and a beautiful day….the park is situated on Lake Pontchartrain which is

HUGE!!! We’ll get back to this in a bit…..

 

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New Orleans, a city with a rich history that beckons visitors with its vibrant culture,

mouthwatering cuisine, and live music.

Life in the French Quarter of New Orleans is a song - full of color, bustling streets, jazz

musicians trying to make a buck, cobblestone streets, baroque ironwork balconies,

courtyards filled with bubbling fountains, unique shops, and one bar/restaurant after the

other. Bourbon Street – the infamous party hub, was a onetime thing for us. It’s the “big”

draw for the French Quarter but its crowded and smelly LOL!!! Lots of homeless people

hang out in this entire area so it’s wise to be very aware of your surroundings……

 

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A stop to the Café de Monde is a must to have THE BEST beignets ever……SO sinfully delicious!!

 

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While the draw to the French Quarter is understandable, outside of the popular streets (Bourbon and Royal), there is much to explore and see. The French Market (shopping area), Jackson Square (National Historical Landmark), and the St. Louis Cathedral which is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the continuous United States – originally built in the early 1700s.

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If you get tired of walking the MANY blocks of things to see, the Streetcar is a great/cheap way to see New Orleans. We called it a Trolley and were quickly told “it’s a streetcar”.  We hopped on it one morning to the outskirts of town to see the Garden District. This historic residential neighborhood is laden with trees, ivy, and beautiful homes with gorgeous gardens.

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We saw production crews setting up for a filming of the Season 2 of Mayfair Witches.

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Pat O’Brien’s was suggested as a great place for lunch. We stood in a long line at noon as

they opened so obviously we had picked the right place. We filled our faces once again

with Louisiana cuisine and sipped on their “signature” Hurricane drink. Diet…..we keep saying this….diet!!! LOL….

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Never in our lives did we imagine that cemeteries would be fascinating…..until we saw a few in New Orleans. These are hidden gems we tell ya…..Most of the cemetery's date back to the 1800s. They are home to an array of elaborate monuments, sculptures, and mausoleums that showcase the artistry and craftsmanship of the period. These are literally open-air museums!! Most of the graves are above-ground vaults because of the water table. Because of vandalism, there are only a few cemeteries that you can visit without signing up for a tour.

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The Sazerac cocktail gained fame in New Orleans in the 1850s and is served around the world to this day. Now it has it grandest home: The Sazerac House. It’s a historic building that showcases the history and traditions of New Orleans cocktails. A free tour – 3 floors –3 free tastings – and a gift shop.

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After walking several miles, it was nice to just sit by the riverfront and watch the ships go by on the Mississippi River….and eat a double scoop waffle cone ice cream from Killian’s.

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After exploring everything we wanted to see in New Orleans (and we were done with all the crowds, etc.), we poked around a couple of towns near our campground. Mandeville – which also has a Café de Monde (yum), the quaint (small) towns of Covington, and Abita Springs. A roadside attraction in Abita caught our eye – the quirky Abita Mystery House. Welp…it was definitely quirky. Entering thru the funky gift shop, the owner has collected stuff (shit) for years and well, tried to make things out of other things – LOL!! But what caught our eye in the back was an old Airstream. Poor thing was a sore sight and had obviously been there for years……

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The Abita Brew Pub just down the street was bustling with people and cars. We happened upon a small car show of some sort and a farmers' market. Highly suggested by the folks at the Abita Mystery House, we sat outside and enjoyed our lunch on a most gorgeous Saturday afternoon….

 

 Lake Pontchartrain is not a lake, but an estuary that covers 630 square miles and is about 40 miles from west to east and 24 miles from south to north. To cross the lake into New Orleans, the 24-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway awaits you. It is the longest continuous bridge over water in the world!!! One foggy morning we crossed, and you could NOT visually see any land – anywhere – kinda creepy!!! The lake does provide for some stunning sunsets and the park has provided plenty of places to sit and enjoy it. Along with a fishing pier and a small man-made beach, there is a pond which houses lots of turtles and alligators (which we didn’t see).

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February 16 – 20 Waveland, Mississippi

February 25, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Buccaneer State Park

Who sang that song? Oh yeah – it was Ted Nugent – from the rock band “Mountain”. Mississippi Queen……

Rain, rain, go away!!! We’re sure glad we didn’t have a long drive here as it poured the entire time. Luckily it stopped shortly after we arrived. It is NO fun towing in the rain. We planned our trip along the gulf coast hoping it would be warm and sunny. Not so much…yet. A few peaks of sun here and there but the wind is killer some days!!

 

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We’d heard a lot about this particular park – all good – and every review was right on point.

It’s a really great place. Part of the park is a water park, along with a beautiful, huge pool.

Summertime must be hopping here!!! It’s directly across from the Mississippi Bay which opens up into the Gulf of Mexico – hence, very small beach areas and calm water.

 

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The historic town of Waveland/Bay Saint Louis has worked hard to rebuild the entire area after Hurricane Katrina pretty much destroyed the area with 25-foot storm surges. We walked the town and drove across the Bay to another small town called Pass Christian.

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Cute little walking towns with beach style restaurants and shops. Surprisingly, a lot of antique stores!!

The “Ground Zero” museum in Waveland is a clear reminder of what happened here along with an earlier Hurricane in 1969, Camille. There are many areas that still have not rebuilt and as we strolled along the small Riverwalk area, it was obvious the pain and devastation this area felt. Both hurricanes hit dead on here and many people lost their lives…..

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And……the Silver Slipper Casino – sort of in the middle of nowhere….a few minutes down the road from the campground. We decided to check it out as the weather was cold and windy outside….nothing special….lost $5.00……and ate an all you can eat linner……..

The weather was something we considered when we took our route along the Gulf of Mexico. We figured winter time (all though chilly) was the safest time to come. No bugs either – LOL!!!

 

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February 12 - 16 Spanish Fort, Alabama (near Mobile)

February 21, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Meaher State Park

Que up Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Sweet Home Alabama “ – okay good – now it’s in your head –

LOL!!

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With recommendations to camp here, well….here we are….surrounded by bays, wetlands, marshes, bridges, bayous, rivers, barrier islands, birds of all kinds, and…..alligators!!! Yep – we FINALLY saw alligators in the wild – LOL!!!

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It’s a beautiful state park with a beautiful setting and gorgeous sunsets!!

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We stepped back in time when we visited the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.

Within the park along with the USS Alabama is the USS Drum, a submarine also from the WWII era. A job well done with this park as there are over 30 historic planes, military vehicles, and several memorials outside. Including a Bald Eagle sitting on the yard arm of the Battleship.

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A day trip to the gulf coast of Alabama through Gulf State Park to Orange Beach (Gulf of Mexico) didn’t disappoint. Such white – I mean really blinding white sand. The route we took – took us through a bunch of really nice towns – Daphne (the closest to our campground), Fairhope, and Foley (a bit inland).

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A stop in Foley on the way to Orange Beach was important to Mike as he had discovered that the Bridge Bell from one of the ships he was stationed on while in the Navy – the USS Peterson – had been dedicated to the town and was in front of the town hall office. After asking someone at the Welcome Center, we finally found it – Yayyy!!!!

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A fun and THE most interesting thing we’ve ever seen on our travels was in a little town called Elberta – at Barbers Marina. Off we go to find the “Lady in the Lake” (also called Lady in the Bay). She kinda speaks for herself – LOL!! She’s made of fiberglass and there are many interesting facts if you google it.

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On our way back from Lady in the Lake, we stopped at a place called Lamberts Café in Foley for Linner (lunch/dinner). It came highly recommended, and it’s known as the home of “Throwed Rolls”. Good down-home cooking with HUGE portions and yep – they actually throw a fresh baked – HUGE roll at you – when you raise your hand – LOL!!! The walls are covered with – well – you name it – license plates, flags, stickers, etc. Your drink is served in the BIGGEST thing we’ve ever seen……..no need for a refill LOL……..

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We met several camper kitties at the park. One and his owner sat with us to watch the sun set one night. The other was a few sites down from us (another Airstream) and she was just gorgeous…..

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February 7 - 12 Milton, Florida (just outside of Pensacola)

February 11, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Avalon Landing RV Park

Wouldn’t ya know – that (according to the news) the Panhandle of Florida is having its “cloudiest” winter in 80 years!!!  We just can’t catch a break with this coolish, gloomy, rainy, sprinkling weather – geez louise……off and on….off and on…..we’ve dodged the rain to explore the area.

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Have you ever driven through Texas?  Have you ever heard that Texas takes a couple of days to drive through and depending on what route you take, there is NOTHING to see???  THAT….is the Panhandle of Florida – LOL!!!  From Tallahassee to Pensacola…booorrrriiinnnggg!!!

The RV Park we landed at was super nice.  Nice wide/long sites – easy in and out.  We like that – LOL!!!  We spotted another Airstream across the private canal within the park and did the neighborly thing and stopped by to say Hey.

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The day after we arrived, the weather was iffy.  We took off for Navarre and Pensacola Beach to explore anyway.  Driving through the Gulf Islands National Seashore, we had flashbacks of being in the Outer Banks (OBX).  The similarities were stunning.  Sand dunes, sea grass, and white pristine beaches!!  The sun poked in and out all day but sunny enough to take a walk on the beach to look for treasures…..Lunch at a local recommended place was in order and it was yummy!! We saw lots of funky houses amongst the usual beach houses on stilts by the ocean. 

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Fort Pickens is at the very tip of the small barrier island, so with fully tummies, off we went to explore the Fort.  In 1816, the US began constructing Third System forts along its coastline to protect important waterways and seaports.  Five years later, the government began fortifying areas along Florida’s 3500 mile seaboard.  Pensacola Bay was one such area. 

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If you’ve never been to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, it’s a must see.  We’ve been to 100’s of museums of all kinds, and this one without a doubt is THE best and it’s free!!!

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We had lunch at the Cubi Bar Café – a very special place in Donna’s heart.  It’s a fully built replica of the bar that was at the NAS Cubi Point Officers Club (located at the edge of Naval Base Subic Bay) in the Philippines when she lived there.  The base closed in 1992.  The vast collection of squadron memorabilia displayed in the Cubi Point Officers’ Club was shipped to the museum and now forms the décor of the Café, which opened in 1996 as the museum’s restaurant.  

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Donna’s Dad, RAdm. Doniphan Shelton, throughout his career, was a consistent contributor to the museum.  We found 2 plaques displaying his name. 

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And let’s not forget yet another Lighthouse – love them – Pensacola Lighthouse is no exception.  Keep that light shining!!!

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Marti Gras you say???  We’ve never been to a REAL Marti Gras parade or celebration.  Guess what?  Pensacola celebrates it big time!!!  Even in the rain……………….we had SO MANY beads, we could hardly carry them – oh and they throw out Moon Pies too – who knew???  And…they are Donna’s favorite snack – LOL!!

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Dodging raindrops once again, we took one last drive to the Gulf Islands National Seashore to walk the almost empty beaches to look for treasures.

Except for the crappy weather – again – Florida – what is up with this yucky weather???? – We had a great time…….

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February 5 - 7 Tallahassee, Florida

February 06, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Coe Landing City Park

Not much to write about except it was a 2 night stay on the way to our next destination.  Small Park off the beaten path with only 20 sites but right on Ochlockonee River near the Apalachicola National Forest.  We laid low to get some “adulting” done like getting supplies and paperwork finished.  We had a nice site right on the water but again, what is up with this chilly and windy weather in Florida?  LOL!! 

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February 1 - 5 St. Augustine, Florida

February 06, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

North Beach Camp Resort

And here we come – down the A1A.  We can see it, smell it, feel it!!  A place we’ve never been before! 

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We tried like heck to get reservations on Anastasia Island State Park (a VERY popular place) but we rendered it impossible unless you are a Florida state resident, or you make your reservations WAY WAY WAY in advance.  So, we think we found the next best place – where we’re staying!!!

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A beautiful campground directly across the street from….guess where…..the Atlantic Ocean!!  Great sites…we loved it…..the beach was pristine and virtually empty.  It was a bit on the chilly side.  What’s up with that?  Its Florida folks – it’s supposed to be WARM!!!!!

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When friends move away from where you used to live (in CA) and you happen to plan your trip to visit them, that’s what it’s all about!  Fun with friends!!!  Kristen Cohen – some of you reading this may remember her and her hubby Andy (who sadly passed away from cancer – they owned Crap Industries and many other things) now lives in St. Augustine.  We had such a great time.  We had a home cooked meal the night we arrived (mmmm good).  The next day we toured the historic district of St. Augustine via the local Trolley (hop on, hop off).  We had lunch at the St. Augustine Distillery (yummy) and took part in the FREE tasting.  We walked out with a nice goodie bag…….

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The next day Kristen played in a golf tournament, so we played tourist for the day and met her that evening for another yummy dinner at a place right on the water across the street from the campground. We could get REALLY used to this – LOL!! 

We visited the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and saw them fire a cannon (which they do several times a day), saw the Lions Bridge (famous drawbridge there), had lunch overlooking the Intercoastal Waterway, walked the famous “St. Georges” street shopping district, walked along the waterway, and finished up with the St. Augustine Lighthouse.  We were SO excited to see a sea turtle! 

 

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All in all, a great stay…..

 


January 22 – February 1 Savannah, Georgia

February 06, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Skidaway Island State Park

What do you think of when you think of Georgia?  Atlanta?  Savannah?  Augusta?  Columbus?  Florence (Buc-ee's)?  Did you know that the coast of Georgia has hundreds of miles of barrier islands? 

We are continually drawn to these sandy areas of nature.  They aren’t quite hidden gems anymore as over the years, many traveling peeps like us, have discovered these gorgeous areas.

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We landed at Skidaway Island State Park for 10 glorious days, amongst the tropical foliage and majestic oak trees draped with Spanish moss (air plants).  The weather was a bit coolish and it rained a couple days.  Enough so that the eerie fog rolled in amongst the jungle….We had many critter visitors too……

 

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Great hiking trails around the park.  We saw lots of wildlife and “signs” of wildlife.  What’s called Alligator Holes was quite evident in many areas.  Embedded deep into the woods, were the remnants of moonshine still.  Pretty cool!!! Towards the end of our hike, we had a close encounter with a beautiful Egret.

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Savannah has all of the charm you would expect from the south.  River Street, along Savannah’s historic waterfront, is the best place in town to walk the cobblestone streets, grab a bite to eat, and stroll along the water to watch the ships come and go.  Parking is uh….tight….but we managed to get Journey into a spot – whew!!! 

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With so much history in the city and many memorial statues, we had no trouble getting our steps in while we perused the many blocks and streets, in awe of the remarkable architecture before our eyes!!!

 

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Fort Pulaski National Monument is located on Cockspur Island between Savannah and Tybee Island.  This is where the Union Army successfully tested rifled cannons in combat during the Civil war in 1862.  It was also used as a prisoner-of-war camp.

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Tybee Island (a barrier island) was a short drive from Fort Pulaski.  It’s a quirky and colorful beach town, where coastal charm meets laid-back beach vibes.  It’s a 3 square mile enclave jam-packed with local shopping, dining, bike trails, restaurants, lodging, and best of all, white sand beaches!! A great day trip….

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Jekyll Island (a barrier island) about 90 miles south of Skidaway, was another great day trip to a truly hidden gem.  Lunch was in order and we found just the place – overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. With full tummies, we headed to Driftwood Beach, ranked #3 in the US as a traveler’s beach.  A prime example of “Ghost Forests” – a type of forest erosion caused by rising sea levels.  Hundreds of massive dead oaks bleached by the sun, wind, and tide.  What a spectacular scene of sand and surf!!!!!

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A cotton and indigo plantation was established by The DuBignon’s.  In 1886 until 1947 the grounds were developed in a resort – The Jekyll Island Club.  Tycoons of New York City wintered in the upscale environment.  Once reserved for families such as the Goodyear’s, Pulitzers, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilt’s and such, the aftermath of The Great Depression made it so all can enjoy!

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The Jekyll Island Club Resort receives financial support from Georgia State Parks and the Jekyll Island Authority, in order to maintain the historic “Millionaire’s Village”.  The restored island homes are charmingly furnished with what they should look like.

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As the sun started to sink, we drove to the opposite end of the island to walk the virtually deserted beach.  We were in our glory – within 5 minutes we had found our 1st sand dollar.  The hunt was on!!!!! 

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It was almost dark as we made our way back to the parking lot.  Wait!!  What was that?  Is that an Armadillo?  Do they have Armadillo’s in Georgia?  Well I’ll be – they sure do.  Who knew?  Oh and let’s not forget all of the deer was saw too!!

Good times…………and we’ll be back!!!

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January 19 - 22 Cottageville, South Carolina (near Charleston)

January 24, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Tiny Town RV Campground

The Sandman and Journey both looked pretty grimy after leaving Northern Virginia in the snow. We tried our luck for the second time to hang with the big boys at a Blue Beacon Truck Wash. Wow! What a difference…..after waiting for an hour, we were shinny and heading south again.

 

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And the name sure does fit the place – LOL!! Not a huge place but many permanent residents. The neighbors we met were super nice and the place was as clean as a whistle.

 

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Meet “Dirty Snowball”!! He’s the local campground cat. Awww poor kitty – it’s so COLD outside and he has no home……our neighbor feeds him and the cutest thing ever is when she takes her dog for a walk, Dirty Snowball goes along too!!! She’s been living here for a year and is trying to find a home for him. He’s a bit skittish and doesn’t want to go inside.

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Can we just say that this winter camping is for the birds??? It’s still damn COLD…..

We had lunch with a friend of ours that Donna knew from her days stationed in Subic Bay in the Philippines – Lisa Gage Patrick and hubby Randall. This is the second time we’ve gotten to see them on our travels in the area. What fun catching up again!!!

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Being we were SO close to Charleston again, we decided to venture out – bundled up – to explore the beautiful city. We had lunch at a neat Pub, walked through the City Marketplace, visited the Waterfront Pineapple Fountain, Rainbow Row, and called it a day.

Can we say again, this COLD weather sucks????

Still heading for warmer weather…………..stand by……………

 

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January 17 – 19 Hope Mills, North Carolina (near Ft. Liberty – previously known as Ft. Bragg)

January 24, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Spring Valley RV Campground

We try to be off the beaten path when we can. When making reservations last year, we found this cute, 3 generation owned, family campground. The drive was off the main freeways, meandering through the back country of North Carolina. Thankfully a non-eventful drive!!!

 

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Being as it was again, very COLD, we ventured out only once to get diesel and supplies.

The owner of the campground was the sweetest, southern lady we’ve ever met. We chatted several times and got the scoop about all the local goings on.

Not much exciting about this leg of our adventures……we hunkered down inside…..

 


January 15 - 17 Keeling, Virginia (Southern VA)

January 24, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Paradise Lake Campground

Well……it’s go time for our 2024 adventures.  The sky gods decided to make our travel day as stressful as possible.  We woke up to overnight snow.  Rut Row!!!  Do we go or do we stay???  The long range weather forecast ain’t looking too pretty folks!!!  We debated and decided to “go for it” as the longer we stayed in Northern Virginia, multiple storms were headed that way. 

 

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Seven hours (normally about 4 1/2) later we reached our destination in Keeling.  It was a LONG white knuckle day of driving in pretty crappy weather.  The snow squalls kept getting bigger….and bigger….and started to stick.  Well, Journey does have 4 wheel drive………whew!!! We arrived as it was getting dark which is one of the things we’ve said we would never do – set up in the dark.  We had no choice.  It was frickin COLD……….I mean COLD and we were happy The Sandman was cooperating and all systems were working perfectly – Yayyy!!  We had food, drink, and heat…..what else could we ask for????  Maybe some much WARMER weather – LOL!!  Heading that way (south) but gotta get through some of this mess first.  

 

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 All these folks that love camping in the winter – forget it – 10 degrees is not what we call fun weather –LOL!!