Michael J Kacmarcik: Blog https://www.kaz.photography/blog en-us (C)Michael J. Kacmarcik [email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) Wed, 29 May 2024 03:00:00 GMT Wed, 29 May 2024 03:00:00 GMT https://www.kaz.photography/img/s/v-12/u357885142-o828966335-50.jpg Michael J Kacmarcik: Blog https://www.kaz.photography/blog 120 68 May 14 - 20 Paradise, Michigan https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/5/may-14---20-paradise-michigan Tahquamenon Falls State Park (rhymes with Phenomenon)

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they called gitche gumee

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead

When the skies of November turn gloomy

With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more

Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty

That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed

When the gales of November came early

 

The ship was the pride of the American side

Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin

As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most

With a crew and good captain well seasoned

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms

When they left fully loaded for Cleveland

And later that night when the ship bell rang

Could it be the north wind they been feelin

 

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound

And a wave broke over the railin’

And every man knew, as the captain did too,

Twas’ the  witch of November come stealin’

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait

When the gales of November came slashin’

When afternoon came it was freezing rain

In the face of a hurricane west wind

 

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin’,

“Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya”

At seven pm a main hatchway caved in, he said,

 

“Fellas, it’s been good to know ya”

The captain wired in he had water comin’ in

And the good ship and crew was in peril

And later that night when his lights went out of sight

Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

 

Does anyone know where the love of God goes

When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

The searches all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay

If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her

They might have split up or they might have capsized

They may have broke deep and took water

And all that remains is the faces and the names

Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

 

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings

In the rooms of her ice-water mansion

Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams

The islands and bays are for sportsmen

And farther below Lake Ontario

Takes in what Lake Erie can send her

And the iron boats go as the mariners all know

With the gales of November remembered

 

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,

In the maritime sailors’ cathedral

The church bell chimed ‘till it rang twenty-nine times

For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they call ‘Gitche Gumee’

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead

When the gales of November come early…

Gordon Lightfoot

 

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Welcome to Paradise where waterfalls, shipwrecks, and blueberry festivals are big…bigger than life. We pulled into our campground with the excitement of two little kids – knowing we would be seeing/hiking the Lower and Upper Tahquamenon Falls – also known as The Root Beer Falls. The color of the water is created by the leaching of tannins from the cedar swamps which feed the river.

 

 

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We couldn’t check in to the campground until mid-afternoon – we arrived a bit early. Being as it was lunchtime, we decided to make our first stop to the Tahquamenon Falls Pub and Brewery. With The Sandman in tow, off we went 20 miles up the road to get our first experience of the area. Yum………..their own Blueberry Ale was outstanding!!! This state park is HUGE and covers 50 thousand acres.

 

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Yooper Perfume?? What you say??? Oh….bug deterrent!!! We are stocked – LOL!!

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The Falls – both Lower and Upper – breathtaking – there are no words for how mother nature has provided us with such awesomeness!!! We hiked all over and just couldn’t get enough!! The North Country Scenic Trail also runs through this area. Oh the glory of it all…….

 

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On the several hikes we did in the area, beautiful wildflowers were just starting to pop….

 

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The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum was a bucket list item for us. The beautiful Lighthouse was standing tall, watching over the waters that took so many lives, many years ago. On a clear day, Canada was just across the lake from Whitefish Bay. We watched a ship proudly make her way thru the small strait. The sunsets were spectacular from the beach. Beautiful driftwood laying half buried from many of the strong storms that occur in this area.

 

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There is no lack of wildlife in the U.P. We kept our eyes peeled for Moose, but sadly – we saw none. There were plenty of other critters to enjoy!!!

 

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We get a kick out of road signs up this way as many are unique to this region. Many were just funny.

 

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If you live in the area during the winter, and you want your mail delivered to the mailbox, what do you do??? You put it on top of a 10’ pole – LOL!!!!

 

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This was probably the 2nd most remote area we’ve ever been to while on our adventures.

We were happy we came well prepared as there were no grocery stores – just glorified convenience stores and one small gas station that did have diesel. There were a few local restaurants and shops that were a combination of a post office, building supplies, and hardware items. Closest area for shopping is about an hour away. “You’ll have to go to the Soo if you want anything else.” said everyone we asked.

 

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We've found most locals to be friendly. They seem to think all is "faaaantastic"!

This is what “Pure Michigan” (their state slogan) is all about…….
 

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/5/may-14---20-paradise-michigan Mon, 27 May 2024 20:35:08 GMT
May 5 - 14 St. Ignace, Michigan https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/5/may-5---14-st-ignace-michigan Tiki RV Park

One thing we’ve learned about being on the road is we’re out of our “comfort zone” almost on a daily basis.

Evidence shows that people are at their best, physically harder, and mentally tougher, after experiencing some of the same discomforts our early ancestors were exposed to every day. But the more miles we’ve put under our wheels, the easier it’s gotten to live on the road…. We realize that we ARE living the American Dream!

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A beautiful blue-sky day, with no wind - a perfect driving day…………. perfect because????

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Here we go – over the famous Mighty Mac – The Mackinac Bridge!!! Whoo Hoo…. well, that was fun – not!! Construction (no big surprise) had one lane closed. Squeeze!!!!! Those grates??? Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle... Slow and steady with a great party line of trucks and cars behind us LOL…..we made it to the other side safe and sound – Whew! That was some white knuckling for Mike. We both needed an adult beverage after this anxiety building drive!!!

 

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We’ve now arrived in “Yooper” land – the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan – The Yoop! Michiganders’’ that live below the Mackinac Bridge are known as “Trolls”. Tourists are known as “Fudgies”. There is plenty of fudge, t-shirts, and adventure to be had…

 

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! Wonder if there any good Mexican restaurants where we’re headed????? Yep…. we found one – Cheers!!

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The Tiki RV Park was another great place with a small view of Lake Huron from our site.

Only a couple other RV’s here – again it’s not quite camping season up here as most things open in mid-May or Memorial Weekend.

 

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Looking at the weather outlook for the next week or so, we decided to take off for Mackinac Island the day after we arrived. Our first trip there last week with our friend Gretchan – well – we froze our asses off – LOL!! It was cloudy, windy, foggy, and just not fun…. We had the perfect weather this 2nd time around and spent most of the day having “Mansion envy” - drooling over the houses once again and admiring The Grand Hotel.

 

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Did you know that the movie “Somewhere in Time” was produced on the Island? It was originally supposed to be filmed at the Hotel Del Coronado, in San Diego but the Del wasn’t available.

 

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Expensive is the key word as mentioned in our previous entry. Oh yeah – the Hotel CHARGES $12 just to walk in – what???? We didn’t pay when we were there last week only because they had just opened that weekend. But come on! Pay $12 to mill about and then spend an ungodly amount on food and drinks???? Hum……all in all we loved it and would not discourage others from visiting as it is truly a magical experience!

 

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Being as we were only about 50 miles from Sault (pronounced SOO) Ste Marie – both a US and Canadian city, we took off to visit the US side first because………………. that’s where the SOO locks are and that was a bucket list item for us. What a fascinating site to see!! We were lucky enough (without having a schedule) to see 4 ships go through. They have been referred to as one of the great wonders of the world and are still the largest and one of the busiest waterway traffic systems on earth! Wowzer!!! The locks consist of two canals and four locks that allow vessels to safely traverse the 21-foot drop in elevation of the St. Mary’s River between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan and Huron.

 

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So many lighthouses in this state! We had to pick and choose which ones to visit as some were pretty far away…. Point Iroquois didn’t disappoint. It was “sort of” on our way back to St. Ignace. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open inside yet for visitors – still early in their season darn it!! But it did give us an interesting tour of some Indian Tribal communities along the way. We had no idea that the state of Michigan was so enriched in Indian culture, many of which are federally recognized.

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Oh Canada – here we come!! Another bucket list as neither of us had ever been there.

 

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Passports? Check. Security questions passed, Check!! We bypassed visiting the SOO locks as the Canadian side is only used for recreational and tour boats.    First stop was the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre (museum). Pretty neat place filled with over 30 vintage back country firefighting planes……

 

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Not wanting to wander TOO far into Canada (very unfamiliar territory and mostly scenic terrain for miles and miles), we decided to drive up the coast a way via the Trans Canada Hwy. Our stop for the day before turning around brought us to Harmony Beach Ontario with stunning views of Whitefish Bay along our route! And…. some very interesting road signs.

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We thought gas was expensive in the US????

 

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We heard there’s going to be an awesome sky event??? Could it be?? Check off another thing on our bucket list? The Northern Lights!!!! We scoped out a dark place near the McGulpin Point Lighthouse – another cool Lighthouse – we haven’t seen one yet that isn’t awesome!

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Another neato place in the same area was the Headlands International Dark Sky Park but decided it’s better for star gazing than Northern Lights viewing. At McGulpin Point, we waited and waited and waited……but the clouds and bugs kept rolling in. Damn it………. nothing – nada – uggggg…. We’ll try again as this super-duper event is supposed to last for 3 nights.

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Like waiting for the 4th of July fireworks….boom….boom….boom…..we headed out for yet another chance of viewing the Northern Lights. The sunset was breathtaking as we watched a ship go by. The sky grew darker and then………. the magic started to happen!!!

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OMG!!! Is this really happening??? We jumped for joy like two little kids…. everywhere we looked, more colors exploded in the sky. Truly a moment we’ll never forget. After hours in the cold, the sky cleared and back home we went.

 

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But wait??? Are there more???

OMG…. the sky exploded again. It was a cold night, but we couldn’t tear ourselves away from that unreal scene happening all around us – WOW!!!! Like ghosts moving in the wind, it just got better and better….

 

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The town of St. Ignace is home to the world-famous Castle Rock. It rises 200 feet above lake level. It was an ancient lookout of the Ojibway Indians. Oh boy – Donna doesn’t like open heights!!!  But we climbed those 170 steep steps anyway and voila – beautiful views of Mackinac Island, Lake Huron, and miles of other scenic views!

 

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The North Country Scenic Trail is 4800 miles and travels through 8 states. Part of it is in St. Ignace very near where our campground was. Off we went to explore the beautiful forests of Michigan….

 

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If you love the outdoors, water, blue skies, and Caribbean style waters, then Michigan is a trip you should plan. You won’t be disappointed!! Except for those damn midges that hatched while we were here….and they are EVERYWHERE….they don’t bite but they sure are annoying. Mate already….then go away – LOL!!

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/5/may-5---14-st-ignace-michigan Wed, 22 May 2024 17:35:23 GMT
May 1 - 5 Indian River, Michigan https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/5/may-1---5-indian-river-michigan Indian River RV Park

Before heading out from Traverse City, The Sandman needed some attention.  He decided that his electrical system was going to whack out a bit.  So off to Airstream of Northern Michigan which just happened to be not too far away….oh thank you!!!!!!  After 3 hours of replacing a few fuses, testing this and that, resetting this and that, all systems were GO and we were on our way – Yayyyyy!!!!!

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Have you ever felt like you’re all alone in a strange place?  That maybe the road less traveled is for a reason? We get that!!  Very nice RV park…large sites, great staff, and…..we were the only ones camping all week until the night before we left – LOL!!  But that’s okay.  It’s early in the season up here in Michigan so not everything has opened up yet.

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We planned our stay here as we have some friends that moved from CA to the area 3 years ago…literally the street behind the campground.  Meet Gretchan….remember when Donna wore her hair in a short spike for many years?  Gretchan was the person that worked that magic and they’ve stayed in touch.  Originally from this area, their family is back again, along with her Mom and sister.

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Gretchan played tour guide with us for 3 days and took us all over the place, including a nice home cooked meal one evening……….Yes!!

Life here is about drinking in the atmosphere, seeing the night sky with stars so clear and bright, you can see them forever.  The beauty of the trails, homes, miles of coastal shoreline, and breathtakingly clear water is magical. 

 

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And…..we’re off to Kitchiitikipi Big Spring – in the Upper Peninsula. Michigan’s largest natural freshwater spring and probably the most unusual thing we’ve seen in a long time.  Located within Palms Book State Park and the water is crystal clear – CRYSTAL CLEAR – Are those trout??  Yep – they sure are!  It’s a consistent 45 degrees (burrrrr), 40 feet deep and 10000 gallons of water per minute rise up through the cracks. It was fascinating to watch the water bubbling up under the fish. We hoped aboard the hand operated raft that propels the raft along a guided line – oh what fun that was!!!  The raft has a roof so you can see the fish without the glare from the sun.

 

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Did someone say lunch?  In these parts which are RURAL and small little fishing towns, there’s not much to choose from.  Off to the town of Manistique – oh so charming!!  We found a cute little bar that served – well – not much – but we managed.  Bonus – they had a pool table at .25 a game!  What?????  Then it was off to the Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse.  Perfect timing as there were several families of Geese with their new babies…awwww….adorable!!

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Since we were somewhat in the area, off to the Ocqueoc Falls – gorgeous, beautiful, cascading waterfalls!! It is known as the biggest waterfall in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.  During spawning season, you can see salmon swimming upriver.  How cool would that be????

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Okay – what the hell is THAT in front of us?  Looks like smoke.  Nope, not smoke.  OMG – those are swarms of midges (tiny flies)!  When they hatch, there are millions of them.  They mate and then die.  Okay…..that’s after they cover you when you get out of the car.  Then you look at your car and it’s covered with millions of them – ewwwwww!!!!

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We couldn’t end another day without seeing yet another lighthouse.  Off to 40 Mile Point Lighthouse in the very small city of Rogers on the western shore of Lake Huron.  Beautiful!!!!  On the beach lies the remnants of the Joseph S. Fay – a wooden steamer built in 1871.  It met its demise in 1905. 

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We saved the best for last……Mackinac Island.  OMG!!!  What a magical place!!!  There really are no words to describe this island other than you’ve just stepped back in time.  It’s a car-free zone (including electric bikes unless you live or work there).  Horse drawn carriages and bikes are the modes of transportation.  There are several Ferry companies to transport you back and forth, and several places to rent bikes on the island.

Let’s just get this out here – it’s not cheap getting to the island and once there, NOTHING is cheap – LOL!!  It was on our bucket list so off we went.  The island itself is only 4.35 square miles.  It’s a whole 8 miles to ride your bike all the way around.  When we stepped off the ferry, we both looked at each other and said “this reminds me of Catalina Island!”  (off the coast of southern CA).   The short main street is loaded with….what else…..shops, bars, restaurants, and several places to buy their famous fudge – LOL!!

As we walked along Main Street, on a very foggy and cool (cold) day, every house was more grand and beautiful than the next – wow – wow – wow!!  Then boom!!!!  What the heck was that???  Oh yeah, Fort Mackinac sounding their cannons.  Scared the crap out of us – LOL!!  And then – there is was in all its glory – the famous Grand Hotel.  My oh my…….it reminded us a bit of the Hotel Del Coronado.  Not the architecture, but the “grandness” of it all.  As we stepped inside, you could smell the $$$$ just floating around.  And everything was GRAND – meaning expensive.  But what the heck, you only live once.  We all had drinks – Cheers to a $25 drink – LOL!!  We savored every……single……sip…….and enjoyed taking in all the views – from the people, to what we saw on the grounds and out the windows.  Simply awesome…..

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/5/may-1---5-indian-river-michigan Wed, 08 May 2024 02:57:39 GMT
April 27 – May 1 Traverse City, Michigan https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/5/april-27-may-1-traverse-city-michigan Traverse City State Park

After unplugging shore power where we came from, we discovered we’ve got “something going on” as in nothing going on….uggg….we’ll deal with it on Monday!!! Rut Row….

 

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The wind up this way is no joke!! We fought the wind all the way which wasn’t fun. But….it was 75 degrees – Yayyy! But how quickly the weather in Michigan changes. It dropped 35 degrees overnight and now here comes the thunderstorms – again………shore power is our friend at the moment since our batteries don’t seem to be charging. Everything is fine…..until it’s not.

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What is that? Oh – it’s a snow mobile!! Snow mobile crossing sign LOL!! We’ve not been this far north before. The campground is nice – plenty of space with trees and…..it’s right across the street from Grand Traverse Bay which empties into Lake Michigan. Traverse City is known as the “Cherry Capital of the World” as the surrounding areas are a hot spot for cherry production. Who knew???? We saw acres and acres of cherry trees, grapes for wine, apple trees, and so much more. Vineyards’ and wineries everywhere…

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Speaking of cherries – Mike is a lover of all things cherry.  Traverse City has its own local Whiskey made with the local yummies. Not to worry honey, we’ll find a place for it – LOL!! A DANGEROUS store we found called Cherry Country Gift Shop has ALL things cherry. We’ve never spent SO much time in a gift shop – ever!!! Still trying to find places to stash our stash!!! Traverse City is a great town with tons of shops, restaurants, breweries, and the best views – I mean – who doesn’t love looking at a gorgeous huge lake that is SO big, it looks like an ocean? We took off to explore the Mission Point Lighthouse – yep – another one – we just love the scavenger hunt for them – LOL!! The road taking is there was FILLED with one gorgeous home after the other. Gosh – we just can’t get over how these northern coastal areas have homes that will knock your socks off…..beautiful!!!! The Lighthouse sits on the 45 th Parallel or half way between the North Pole & the Equator – now THAT is awesome, and we were there!!! It was deactivated in 1933.

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More rain....but it gives us a chance to do some “adulting” – phone calls, paperwork, etc. With cloudy skies still hanging around – and that chilly wind – and maybe a chance of rain (again), we took off for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Absolutely breathtaking scenery!!! We did two hikes within the National Lakeshore. The first was Pyramid Point which took us to the most gorgeous view of South and North Manitou Islands within Lake Michigan. The water - OMG………it looks like the Caribbean!!! The flowers along the way were just beginning to bloom – so pretty!

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The second hike was on our bucket list – Sleeping Bear Dunes. There are several areas you can hike and climb to the top with stunning views. Oh and the beach areas are beautiful too – lots of rocks, fossils, agates, granite, and so much more!! It’s a rock hounding paradise!!

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Black squirrels? Everywhere……..we’ve only seen them one other time. They’re pretty cute!! The Chipmunks are pretty cute too….

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/5/april-27-may-1-traverse-city-michigan Fri, 03 May 2024 03:19:05 GMT
April 23 – 27 Holland, Michigan https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-23-27-holland-michigan Holland State Park – Lake Macatawa

Many months ago, as we planned out our trip north, Michigan was a bucket list for us. With all the traveling we’ve both done, we’ve never been to Michigan. Being as it is still April, we were just a tad bit concerned (in the back of our minds), that there might still be snow.

 

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Nope……so here we are!!!!

And…..it’s sneezin season – LOL!! And April showers bring April flowers…of course it’s raining!!!!

 

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The town of Holland, founded in 1847, is simply……charming…..with its vast Dutch heritage and culture, what’s not to love? The coastal town does not lack the gorgeous homes either!

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We had NO idea the town was getting ready for its famous Tulip Festival, where tens of thousands of people transcend upon the area!! As we maneuvered Journey and The Sandman through the narrow streets of Holland to the state park, we were greeted with thousands of tulips, tulip trees, and daffodils everywhere. OMG!! Every color of the rainbow – in front of every building, corner square, and most homes. Simply breathtaking!!!

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Just down the street from the campground – which faces Lake Macatawa, is “Big Red” – the Holland Harbor Lighthouse. It sits at the entrance channel from Lake Michigan, sitting tall for almost 100 years. Across Lake Michigan, we could see a massive thunderstorm building, so our visit was cut just a bit short – just in time – the heavens opened – the lightning strikes, and the thunder rolled under our feet. The surfers and wind surfers made double time heading to their vehicles!!!

 

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Windmill Island Gardens - home to rows and rows and rows of gorgeous tulips. It is also home to the only authentic working Dutch Windmill in the US. The De Zwaan (Graceful Bird or The Swan) – what a beauty! Never in our lives did we think we would ever tour a REAL working Windmill. Damn was that cool…..it was brought to the US in 1964. The Gardens are also home to an antique Dutch carousel, and organ. Saugatuck – a nearby small charming coastal town, offers up some cute shops and restaurants – and some GORGEOUS homes!

 

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In this part of the world, there are some of the most stunning homes we’ve ever seen. We used to think California had some McMansions, but these homes here??? One right after the other is unbelievably jaw dropping……

 

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We can see what the draw is for people to live here but……………….burrrrr – it’s been a bit chilly – and that wind!! That wind has a real BITE to it – LOL!! Right off Lake Michigan.

We’ll take the wind over snow though……

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-23-27-holland-michigan Sun, 28 Apr 2024 23:14:52 GMT
April 22 – 23 North Liberty, Indiana https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-22-23-north-liberty-indiana April 22 – 23 North Liberty, Indiana

Potato Creek State Park

Enjoying the scenery along the roads – when we were kids, we couldn’t wait to get OUT of the car – are we there yet???  Funny how things change when you get a bit older and have the opportunity to do what we’re doing. 

 

 

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This was another one night stay to break up mileage as we continue north.  Very nice – large park – simple sites – easy in and out.  The park houses one of two large Osprey nests in the state.  As we left, we were lucky enough to catch site of one, hovering over the nest.  Better stop!!!!

See ya Indiana --------

 

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-22-23-north-liberty-indiana Sat, 27 Apr 2024 00:20:56 GMT
April 19 – April 22 Nashville, Indiana https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-19-april-22-nashville-indiana Brown County State Park

Another long - uneventful drive as we make our way north. Arriving at the park, we were amazed – really amazed – at how HUGE this place is!! 16,000 acres…………it’s Indiana’s largest state park. We had a perfect site nestled in the woods and the place was full to the brim with excited campers…..

 

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The park is nicknamed the “Little Smokies”, boasting stunning views of rolling hills. Looking out over the tree tops, we both said it looked like the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Dogwood trees are just starting to bloom and man are they beautiful!!!!

The nearby town of Nashville is the cutest!! It has neat little shops and restaurants to visit, up and down the main street. Good thing we have NO ROOM to buy anything – LOL!!!

This was our 2nd visit to this area. We had friends to visit that we knew in Northern Virginia many years ago – Mark/Lenny Turney, and a retired Navy friend – Roger Seeley, that we met through our days with the MINI Cooper club and he happened to be stationed in San Diego when we lived there. They live within 40 minutes of our campground so we enjoyed good food, some adult beverages, storytelling, and lots of laughs…..

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-19-april-22-nashville-indiana Fri, 26 Apr 2024 23:57:43 GMT
April 18 – 19 Goreville, Illinois https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-18-19-goreville-illinois Ferne Clyffe State Park

This was a quick overnight stay on our way to the next destination so not much to write about. It was another beautiful park with lots to do if we ever get back this way. Lots of trails and waterfalls…………….just what we love!!!

 

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A long drive day with some nasty thunderstorms all around us. But alas they didn’t last too long until……………we tried to get some sleep. Wowzer – here we go again!! We kept the TV on the weather and the warnings never stopped. The storms were building…..tornadoes spotted very near…….damnit!!! They were just south of us….but it poured and rumbled thunder most of the night. Have you ever felt thunder under your feet???? Uggggg……..

The morning came too damn early but the front blew thru, the sun came out, and it was substantially colder – burrrr!!!! On the road again.

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-18-19-goreville-illinois Fri, 26 Apr 2024 02:31:43 GMT
April 15 – 18 Powhatan, Arkansas https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-15-18-powhatan-arkansas Lake Charles State Park

Ya know – it gets better and better. These state parks are just beautiful. We picked another great site with a bit of a lake view. After a smooth sailing drive day, we enjoyed a cold one outside on our patio…we had a wonderful, relaxing stay.

 

 

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We had no idea Arkansas had so many hundreds of miles of farm land. We saw a crop duster which we haven’t seen in forever……interesting how the terrain changes too. Mountains, lakes, rivers, and lots of wildlife. The cardinals are in abundance, and they LOVE to look at themselves in our TRUCK MIRRORS and peck at the windows Urrgggg….

 

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Another storm rolled through while we were here so what do you do on a rainy day? Laundry……which in these VERY rural areas isn’t easy to find. You gotta do what you gotta do….drive 20 miles to the nearest laundry mat – LOL!!

When the weather cleared up, we took a nice pleasant 4 mile walk around the campground. Enjoyed seeing all the turtles sunning themselves on the logs floating in the lake.

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But………..while doing laundry in the small town of Walnut Ridge, we stumbled upon Abbey Lane! Yep – that’s right – THAT Abbey Lane. Seems as though on 9/18/64, The Beatles finished a concert in Dallas. They made a brief stop in Walnut Ridge. The airport provided an ideal spot for the group to change planes before heading to Missouri – avoiding the crush of screaming fans because of the small town. Just after midnight, 3 local boys noticed the odd timing of a plane landing and raced to the airport to identify the unexpected visitors. To their surprise, the Beatles departed the plane and quickly boarded a small aircraft heading for Missouri. There were many false alarms that morning. Teenagers mobbed a local crop-duster mistaken for the Beatles’ plane. Little did they know that McCartney and Harrison had arrived at the airport an hour early and watched the spectacle from an old truck parked across the runway!

Suddenly, a small commuter plane with Lennon and Starr landed and taxied up the runway. The two left the plane, walking through a gauntlet of excited spectators. At the same time Lennon and Starr ascended the steps to the larger plane, the old truck that held Harrison

and McCartney pulled up next to it. All four Beatles quickly boarded and left for their last US concert of the year.

On 9/18/2011, Walnut Ridge unveiled a monument dedicating this event. Now each September the town hosts a “Beatles at the Ridge Festival”. Who knew??????

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-15-18-powhatan-arkansas Fri, 26 Apr 2024 01:55:03 GMT
April 11 – 15 Little Rock, Arkansas https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-11-15-little-rock-arkansas Maumelle COE (Army Corp of Engineers) Park

Sometimes on driving days, we like to stop for brunch, especially if it’s a long driving day through small towns and not many places to pull off once we get off main roads. Waffle House is our go to and we found one that had a pull through driveway – Yayyy!! It’s the little things ya know????

 

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Thank you Arkansas for all the beautiful flowers – rain must have been good to you and provided us with an abundance of gorgeous colors along our way!!

 

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This park was beautiful – we picked the perfect site right on the Arkansas River with unobstructed views of the river. We enjoyed watching the barges go by and the people from the local yacht club tootle by in their beautiful boats!

 

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Waking up to beautiful sunrises was also a plus….along with the MANY geese squawking away at each other – LOL!!

 

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Last year we were in a different area of Arkansas camping and took a drive to the waterfront part of Little Rock. It was COLD so we didn’t stay very long – LOL!! This time however, the weather was scrumptious and we headed out for Little Rock again, to explore a little more.

We had lunch at a local Mexican place near the water. It’s still a little town that is trying to rebuild itself and keep going.

 

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Pinnacle Mountain State Park was just minutes from us. After visiting the new Visitors Center to get information on hiking the mountain (West or East side), we ventured back the next day, armed with what we needed to make it to the top and back. Wowzer!!! It was a BEAST, but we made it – Yayyy!!! Sitting on top of the mountain with views forever – what could be better than that???? Then we had our PB & and J swammiches – LOL!!! We needed fuel to get back down this bad boy…

 

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The area is filled with gorgeous homes – one after the other. We commented to each other that some of them looked as if they should be in Colorado (the style). A great place…….

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/april-11-15-little-rock-arkansas Fri, 26 Apr 2024 00:46:57 GMT
March 29 – April 11 Texarkana, Texas https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/march-29-april-11-texarkana-texas Rocky Point ACOE (Army Corp. of Engineers) Campground on Wright Patman Lake 

Don’t mess with Texas Y’all…

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As we say goodbye to the Lone Star State! Journey has been waiting almost a month to get his front end fixed. You may remember from our earlier blog post at Martin Dies Jr. State Park – someone hit us in a parking lot. Off to the Dodge dealer in Texarkana he went. A week later we got him back – good as new! Yayyy!!! ….in the meantime, we had a rental car….which raised a lot of eyebrows and questions from other campers driving/walking by. Hum!!! Do you REALLY tow with THAT???

 

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The weather here is very unpredictable. A beautiful sunny day can turn into massive thunderstorms on a dime. We had a couple nice sunny days which we took full advantage of. The park and the adjacent park (Piney Point) were perfect for getting some good exercise on our bikes – about 7 miles every ride.

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Wind…….geez………it was crazy for a few days. Being right on the lake has its negatives – LOL!! Locals call it breezy. We call it a stiff wind~~~~~~

Texarkana gets its name from --- you guessed it - being in Texas and in Arkansas. We took a little drive to the historic district. Sadly, most of the town is shuttered with the exception of the post office, a few restaurants, and small businesses. It saddens us as we maneuver through some of these urban areas, to see things just falling apart and abandoned. To add some cheer to the town, there were many beautiful murals painted by locals.

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Then……….it was THE day we planned our leg of the trip for…. April 8 th – the FULL SOLAR ECLIPSE!!! Okay clouds – you can go away any time now…..all we could do was keep our fingers crossed that the sky gods would come through for us…………….and they did………it was THE most remarkable, magical event we’ve ever seen in our lifetime.....

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All morning as we walked the campground looking once again for the best viewing spot (there were several), the excitement was building. People were setting up chairs, testing their special eclipse glasses, and talking about where they came from to view this once in a lifetime event. Mike had bought a special lens filter and of course we had bought special eclipse shirts! We just couldn’t imagine missing out if the weather wasn’t going to cooperate. All week on the news, the weather report was iffy…predicting cloud cover. Fortunately for us, the clouds parted during the main event. We heard whooping, hollering and cheering all over the campgrounds.

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Several hours after the eclipse ended, the storms arrived. All night the thunder boomed, and lighting struck all around the lake. We had a long sleepless night with our trailer rumbling with every crack of thunder.

Can’t beat those gorgeous sunsets and sitting around a campfire!!

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/march-29-april-11-texarkana-texas Mon, 22 Apr 2024 02:13:15 GMT
March 17 – 29 Karnack, Texas https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/march-17-29-karnack-texas Caddo Lake State Park

 

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Nestled in the woods next to the 8500-acre Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a small but beautiful place to enjoy nature. It rests on the banks of the Big Cypress Bayou. Little did we know that Karnack was the childhood home of Lady Bird Johnson!! Her father, T.J. Taylor, was one of several wealthy donors who gave private land for the park.

 

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1933 to provide jobs and job skills for young men to work on conservation projects. During the hot, humid summer of 1934, CCC Company 889 builds the first structures, trails and firebreaks in the new park. Company 857 continued working from October 1934 to March 1937, building the park’s permanent structures. They converted 16 U.S. Army barracks and an Army mess hall in the nine rustic log cabins and group recreation hall used today. On one of our hikes through the park, we came across one of the pavilions built in the 1930’s!! SO cool to see….

 

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The flowers are starting to pop here…..so darn pretty!!!

 

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The HUGE bald Cypress Trees draped with Spanish Moss create a ghostly scene – calming and beautiful….with kayakers intertwined moseying along the calm river banks. The “knees” of the trees are above ground extensions of their root systems.

 

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Another Airstream pulled in just a couple of sites down from us. We met up and went kayaking on the Caddo Lake water trail. Oh my gosh!! It was THE most peaceful and sur- real thing!!! We hadn’t been kayaking in ……. years – LOL!!! What a fun day!!!!

 

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A short drive took us to the historical town of Jefferson. A bit eclectic in its own way – we walked up and down the several blocks of streets – popping in and out of the stores, taking in all the town had to offer. Cute little shops, lots of antique stores, and several pretty neat looking restaurants. Being the simple peeps that we are, we had lunch at the local family owned Port Jefferson Outpost, followed up by Texas Blue Bell Ice Cream cones……OH SO GOOD!!!!! We always try to support the local economy in some way when we’re out and about…..

 

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Texas is an interesting state. When you get out of the big cities, it is rural – I MEAN RURAL and Bayou country!!! Some areas have big, beautiful homes like you see on TV, and then other areas, well; we weren’t sure if the home was abandoned or if someone was actually living there….

 

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On a whim, we decided to drive to Shreveport Louisiana since it was only about 30 minutes from the state park. We were a bit shocked and speechless as we drove around. The city has tried very hard to rebuild the small area down by their Riverwalk with a Convention Center, Visitors Center, an Aquarium, and some hotels. Other than that, the city was shuttered and abandoned – metal bars on the doors of the closed businesses and graffiti smeared everywhere….it was a short trip!!!!

Donna being the sucker she is for homeless animals discovered 3 dogs that lived in the woods near the campground. One was obviously a new Mama…..and had 2 friends with her most of the time. Our next trip to the store included some dog food. We know we probably shouldn’t have fed them, but………………………………..we did. At least they had some good nourishment while we were there!!

 

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Rural Texas…………is a very interesting part of the country.

 

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/4/march-17-29-karnack-texas Tue, 02 Apr 2024 02:55:26 GMT
March 5 - 17 Jasper, Texas https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/3/march-5---17-jasper-texas Martin Dies, Jr. State Park

Welcome to Texas – land of pop-up thunderstorms, twist up tornados and springtime pollen!!!!

Our drive from place to place started off with semi-clear skies. Welp – that didn’t last long. Keeping an eye on the weather and thought the storms would have gone past where we were traveling through, but not the case!!! Many times, driving on interstates, it’s easy to get off an exit and sit a storm out. Small two lane back roads are not your friend when the weather turns nasty…… We could see dark clouds forming in front of us and lightning like crazy. Luckily a few miles up the road, we found a small general store with a large, pothole filled parking lot to pull into. There we sat for a while listing to the booming thunder, hoping for no hail….there was a small, covered area where people could pull into to fuel up. We were keeping our eyes on THAT for cover if need be!!! But the weather gods were with us – no hail – but lots of rain and lightning. 30 minutes later we were on our way again – Whew!!!

 

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Jasper, Texas is a very small town with not much around. A few places to get amenities and two antique stores, that’s about it….

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The state park itself is large and sits on the banks of the B. A. Steinhagen Lake with two rivers meeting on the outskirts – the Neches and the Angelina. Lots of outdoor opportunities here! We saw a few boats tooling around the river at night next to our site, looking for alligators. Yep they are here but……

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As we pulled into our site or should we say “attempted” to, there lies a cute little gray kitty. Awwww…..she wasn’t going anywhere LOL!! She followed us everywhere which made for a difficult time getting into our site and set up. We ascertained from the Camp Hosts that she had been dumped here a while back. Sad…..but anyone who knows us – we have been “cat” people forever. Donna wasn’t going to rest knowing this friendly little being didn’t have a home. Not having any cat food handy, she got some canned chicken – which she quickly gobbled up. Skinny little thing……

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On the hunt for a home for the kitty, Mike made MANY phone calls to all kinds of local places. No after No after No – we are full – we don’t take cats, etc. We FINALLLY got lucky and got in touch with a woman who’s been doing cat rescue for over 22 years. Oh, thank goodness!

Off to the local Wal-Mart to get food and a transport cage. We successfully delivered “Silver Belle” to Kathy knowing she’ll be safe and sound with medicine and her shots. We’ve followed up with Kathy several times and Silver Belle seems to be doing okay and…..could be pregnant!! Those sweet babies won’t have to grow up in the woods….mission accomplished and our good deed done….

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We had a really great site next to the river. Along with that came LOTS of pollen and bugs…those little black flies almost got the best of us !!!!! We did a lot of hanging out in our outside screened room so we could enjoy the kayaks going by. Mike decided he liked his “screen” hat especially for making those darn good burgers on the grill LOL!!!!

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Journey got a boo boo sadly. We came out from the grocery store, and someone had clipped the front end. All in all, not too bad and we’ve scheduled to get it taken care of in a couple of weeks when we’re in a much bigger city. We’re thankful the driver had insurance and so far, knock on wood, the insurance company has been very communicative.

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The weather was all over the place, but we were able to get some great bike rides in on the nice days. Trails are always great for viewing whatever might be out there and exercise – LOL!!  Watching for…….you know….those crawly things that just might happen upon your path…..luckily we saw none…But we did see lots of flowers in bloom. Nothing like Texas Bluebonnets – they are gorgeous!!

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Of course, the day we left, thunderstorms had rolled in overnight, so we delayed our departure slightly as to not be soaking wet all day while driving to our next destination.

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Man, those boomers were unreal…. This is a phone screen shot of lightning strikes around us. The blue dot in the center is our campsite. Each red dot is a lightning strike within five minutes, yellow dots are more than 5 minutes old.

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A great place and we super enjoyed it…..

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/3/march-5---17-jasper-texas Fri, 22 Mar 2024 17:48:54 GMT
March 1 – 5 Lake Charles (Moss Bluff), Louisiana https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/3/march-1-5-lake-charles-moss-bluff-louisiana Sam Houston Jones State Park

This area was completed devastated by Hurricane Laura in August of 2020. It was hit head on, and the park was gone. After two years of very hard work, dedication, and replanting 20,000 trees, it reopened Memorial weekend of 2022. The original park had several camping loops and many RV sites. Now there is one loop with 30 sites.

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The park’s lagoon with surviving cypress trees is refilled with water from the nearby river.

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The hiking and nature trails are clear, and we enjoyed the River Trail. Bike riding is great in the park as there is very little traffic. We never did see any alligators (again) but there are warning signs posted everywhere. We did see lots of turtles, some huge!!!!

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Spring is in the air!! Flowers and………….mosquitos…Avon Skin So Soft to the rescue!!!

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Being in Bayou country (still), to get from “here to there”, the old draw bridges get you where you want to go – LOL!!!!

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We took the opportunity to drive about 45 miles south to what used to be a thriving beach community known as Holly Beach. Now – after Hurricane Laura – there are no businesses – just the little community with an RV park right at the beach edge and lots of people living in RVs on their property, while they rebuild what was lost during the storm. But…….there was miles and miles of deserted beach which was perfect for picking up seashells…Yep – we gathered more – LOL!!! We fixed PB& and J swamiches in the truck to give us strength to gather more. It was a perfect beach day…….

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What in the world is that strange glow in the sky at 9:30pm????? After a bit of googling, we ascertained it was a “plant flare” near Baton Rouge. A routine effort to burn excess hydrocarbon gases in an environmentally-sound manner. Usually not visible during the day, at night, the orange glow in the sky is clearly visible.

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“Stranger Things” episode was not playing out near us, nor was the alien turkey invasion come to end Thanksgiving. We are marked “Safe” from any weird happenings!!!

Saying so long to Louisiana!!!

We love comments.

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/3/march-1-5-lake-charles-moss-bluff-louisiana Fri, 08 Mar 2024 17:34:59 GMT
February 26 – March 1 Abbeville, Louisiana https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/3/february-26-march-1-abbeville-louisiana Palmetto Island State Park

Our first stop was purchasing propane at the local Ace Hardware store. We squeezed into the very small parking lot. The head cashier was so excited to see an Airstream and we were relieved that we didn't hit any of their tractors.

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We don’t know about you but being on vacation somewhere you’ve never been – well the anticipation is always there!! That’s kinda how we feel being on the road. We never really know what a place is going to be like until we get there. Satellite images and you-tube videos can only show so much…..

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Pulling into this state park we felt we were on a tropical island but in reality, we were in swamp country. The park was stunning with tons of foliage in between neighbors so privacy wasn’t an issue. The sites were HUGE and LONG which makes it SO much easier to back in – LOL!!!

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We had a couple days of nice weather before thunderstorms arrived one night and early the morning we were leaving. We rode our bikes thru the vast park, still hunting for those darn alligators!!! Not a one to be found. We did see an Armadillo, Buzzards, a snake (ewwww), and beautiful bright green lizards.

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Since it was leap year, we decided to celebrate the 29th by going out to dinner. Based on some recommendations, we headed to a place in the historic district of Abbeville. Duruy’s didn’t disappoint. In fact, Mike tried Alligator appetizers. First time for everything. Based on Mike’s description of how they tasted, Donna politely declined because she is a very picky eater – LOL!!!!

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Being as the south is known for its crawfish, we were curious where they all come from. Turns out all of the water filled fields with little bobbers are crawfish farms. Who knew??? Louisiana commercial crawfish farmers provide 85% of domestically produced crawfish to Louisiana markets and across the nation. When they aren’t farming crawfish, they use the fields to grow rice. And because the state is mostly swamps and bayous, there are bridges on just about every road - from huge bridges to the local drawbridge.

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When we checked into the park, we were warned not to leave any food where the bears could get into. Not to worry we are prepared with bear spray.

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We found a great place to unwind for several days……

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/3/february-26-march-1-abbeville-louisiana Mon, 04 Mar 2024 17:52:49 GMT
February 20 – 26 Mandeville, Louisiana (outside of New Orleans) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-20-26-mandeville-louisiana-outside-of-new-orleans 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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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-20-26-mandeville-louisiana-outside-of-new-orleans Wed, 28 Feb 2024 01:03:43 GMT
February 16 – 20 Waveland, Mississippi https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-16-20-waveland-mississippi 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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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-16-20-waveland-mississippi Sun, 25 Feb 2024 21:07:34 GMT
February 12 - 16 Spanish Fort, Alabama (near Mobile) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-12---16-spanish-fort-alabama-near-mobile 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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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-12---16-spanish-fort-alabama-near-mobile Thu, 22 Feb 2024 00:35:13 GMT
February 7 - 12 Milton, Florida (just outside of Pensacola) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-7---12-milton-florida-just-outside-of-pensacola 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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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-7---12-milton-florida-just-outside-of-pensacola Mon, 12 Feb 2024 03:00:01 GMT
February 5 - 7 Tallahassee, Florida https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-5---7-tallahassee-florida 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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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-5---7-tallahassee-florida Wed, 07 Feb 2024 02:26:36 GMT
February 1 - 5 St. Augustine, Florida https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-1---5-st-augustine-florida 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…..

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/february-1---5-st-augustine-florida Wed, 07 Feb 2024 01:24:18 GMT
January 22 – February 1 Savannah, Georgia https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/january-22-february-1-savannah-georgia 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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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/2/january-22-february-1-savannah-georgia Tue, 06 Feb 2024 23:18:18 GMT
January 19 - 22 Cottageville, South Carolina (near Charleston) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/january-19---22-cottageville-south-carolina-near-charleston 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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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/january-19---22-cottageville-south-carolina-near-charleston Thu, 25 Jan 2024 01:56:37 GMT
January 17 – 19 Hope Mills, North Carolina (near Ft. Liberty – previously known as Ft. Bragg) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/january-17-19-hope-mills-north-carolina-near-ft-liberty-previously-known-as-ft-bragg 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…..

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/january-17-19-hope-mills-north-carolina-near-ft-liberty-previously-known-as-ft-bragg Thu, 25 Jan 2024 01:05:00 GMT
January 15 - 17 Keeling, Virginia (Southern VA) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/january-15---17-keeling-virginia-southern-va 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!!


 

 

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/january-15---17-keeling-virginia-southern-va Wed, 24 Jan 2024 13:45:30 GMT
December 14 – January 15, 2024 – Northern Virginia https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/december-14-january-15-2024-northern-virginia Christmas holidays in Northern Virginia

After a short stop at Airstream of Virginia to get a running light and speaker fixed, we’ve landed!!  We’re SO excited to be here visiting with the kids and grands over the holidays.  Dude and NeNe are here to terrorize the family for a month – LOL!!!!

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The Sandman is getting a nice break, being stored at our son in-laws Mothers driveway.

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We split up our time between our son’s house and our daughter’s house.  Both families have been so accommodating and we’ve missed our family so very much.

On Saturday Dec. 16th, as a family, we participated in “Wreaths across America” at Arlington National Cemetery.  We got up at the crack of dawn to ride the subway to Arlington.  As we got off the subway, we were overwhelmed with the 1000’s of people there.  Wowzer!  It was SUCH a humbling experience – no words could ever express how we all felt.  We were proud as can be, to place wreaths, including visiting Donna’s Dad and putting a special bow on his wreath.  We were happy to see that his headstone had finally been made and put in place.

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Something on our bucket list was to see the National Christmas Tree.  It had been MANY years since we had been to DC to see it.  The whole family bundled up and off we went to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas in our Nation’s Capital…burrrrr, we’re not used to this COLD weather – LOL!!!

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Have you ever been to the Changing of the Guard at Arlington?  If not, it should be on your bucket list.  There is simply nothing like it that we’ve ever experienced.  Words cannot express how moving it is.  Although we’ve been there many times to watch, our oldest grandson had not.  It was something he wanted to experience, so on a cold winter day; we headed back down to ANC to partake……

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We got to experience Christmas with our son’s family which included our two littlest grands.  They still “believe” in Santa so it was quite the crazy morning LOL!!  Later on, our daughter and her family arrived for a wonderful, yummy brunch.  They had plans later in the day with her husband’s family for Christmas dinner.  Holidays are so special… the kitchen was filled with wonderful smells while we waited for our dinner to unfold.  We ate……and ate more……whew it was good……

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The day after Christmas, we transitioned to our daughter’s house for the rest of our stay.

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Being as we were in the area for a while, we had to do some “adulting” daw gone it.  We were able to schedule ahead of time, doctor/dentist/eye/truck maintenance appointments – got all clear!!  We also got together with longtime friends and swapped stories for hours at a time.    

We are VERY lucky to have the family that we do.  We all got together many times for games, lunches, dinners, drinking, and all the laughter/story telling that goes along with being together.  We love our kids and grands “to the moon and back”.  They are truly the…………best……we……could…..ever……ask……for.

 

 

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Alas it’s time to go……………but we’ll be back!!!  With tears in our eyes, off we go…….

 

 

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/december-14-january-15-2024-northern-virginia Wed, 24 Jan 2024 02:11:59 GMT
December 13 - 14 Chesterfield, Virginia (outside of Richmond) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/december-13---14-chesterfield-virginia-outside-of-richmond Pocahontas State Park

We made another quick overnight stop while making our way to Northern Virginia. This was our 2nd time here and we just love it!!

We had dinner with our daughter in-law’s parents which was a nice treat. Home cooked meals – well what can we say – Yummy!!! This is another place we’ll definitely be back to….

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/december-13---14-chesterfield-virginia-outside-of-richmond Thu, 18 Jan 2024 02:35:21 GMT
December 12 - 13 Seven Springs, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/december-12---13-seven-springs-north-carolina Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

 We made a quick overnight while making our way to Northern Virginia. Many peeps we follow for camping area suggestions highly recommended this park. We didn’t explore much, but what we saw was beautiful. Not a big park but the sites are long and huge – easy in and out. We’ll be back when the weather is a bit warmer – LOL!!

There was only one other camper in the park – it was a bit creepy overnight as it was dark….really dark and we could hear animals in the woods “talking”. The camp hosts were very nice and the Rangers very informative.

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/december-12---13-seven-springs-north-carolina Thu, 18 Jan 2024 02:19:40 GMT
November 2 – December 12 Supply, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/november-2-december-12-supply-north-carolina Holden Beach RV Park and Campground

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Maybe this place sounds familiar from an earlier blog post? Well, you’re not double reading – LOL! This is our second time here and it really is a hidden gem!!! Since we wanted to stay a bit south for a while – instead of touring any more for now, we thought “why not plop ourselves right here for 6 weeks".

We were originally here in August for a week.

What a dang charming beach town. Close to many other beach towns and sightseeing places.

One of our daily adventures was to take a ferry from Southport to Ft. Fisher then on to the Wrightsville Beach area. What fun to see all of the barrier islands along the way!!

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We took full advantage of the beach whenever we could. Although being November/December, it wasn’t as warm as summer but it wasn’t bad. The weather was pretty good with the exception of a couple days of rain. We kept a close eye on the low/high tides to do some shell collecting…..collecting….the key word….more like hoarding – LOL!!! And…..we got in a minimum of 10,000 steps each walk we did on the beach…..

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 Turns out, April of 2022, off the coast, they did some major dredging and dug up a fossil bed. In that bed are millions of estimated 30,000 million year old sea biscuits. Man oh man – talk about an Easter egg hunt or scavenger hunt!! Once we found a few – and a few more – and more – it was like finding sand dollars on the beach in Oceanside where we used to live. We did find some other shells and a few sharks teeth. We cleaned them all up, boxed them up for storage, and will have a nice place to stay in our daughter’s basement for a while – LOL!!!

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The sunrises and sunsets were absolutely gorgeous…………..We toured the beach towns up and down the coast, within about an hour’s drive – Ocean Isle, Sunset Beach, Murrells Inlet, Myrtle Beach, Oak Island, Southport, Wrightsville Beach, and Wilmington. While in Wilmington, we toured the USS North Carolina museum. Neato!!!

 

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 Thanksgiving, we drove about 3 hours back to the Wake Forest/Raleigh area to spend the holiday with Mike’s sister and family. Had some really yummy food, played some games, and took a few good walks in the area.

 

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We discovered, 3 couples we knew from the Northern Virginia area when we lived in Leesburg, that all moved to South Carolina – not very far from our campground. We got together will all of them for lunch. Matt and Karen Partlow, Mike and Patti Barry, and Hugh and Sarah Brackett. Mike was in the Brackett’s wedding. He was the photographer for the Partlow’s wedding. Mike and Patti were our neighbors at our very first house in Leesburg, VA.

 

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 It was our 3rd time getting together with another couple that we’ve been friends with from Northern Virginia, Jim and Lyn Markham was fun. We had lunch and a few weeks later we joined Lyn (Jim was sick) and her friend at “Night of 1000 Candles” at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC. What a fantastic place and the grounds/statues were just gorgeous. Just what we needed, to get in the Christmas spirit……

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As the Christmas holiday got closer, we found many beach decorations throughout the area.

 

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All in all – a great time!!! We’re sad to leave but happy at the same time. We’re on our way to spend a month over the holidays with our kids and grands!!!!

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2024/1/november-2-december-12-supply-north-carolina Thu, 18 Jan 2024 01:41:43 GMT
October 30 – November 2 Wake Forest, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/11/october-30-november-2-wake-forest-north-carolina Falls Lake Recreation Area – Rolling View Campground

 

We had another perfect travel day. Blue sunny skies…a beautiful canvas of fall leaves for our eyes to see!!

This was our second time staying at this campground. Love it here!

Our site was across from the lake and with fall in full swing, we had a pretty good view. It was VERY chilly so our heat in the trailer got a good workout – LOL!!

Mikes sister and family live in the area so we spent most of our time with them.

Her birthday is on Halloween so it was the perfect reason to visit while on our way to our next destination.

We had a couple of yummy lunches together and took a morning walk in the woods – damn –burrrrr – it was COLD!!!!!!! Not a long stay but we enjoyed our time.

We’ll be back to enjoy a nice family home cooked Thanksgiving dinner….yeah!!!!

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/11/october-30-november-2-wake-forest-north-carolina Mon, 13 Nov 2023 01:29:18 GMT
October 27 – 30 Chesterfield, Virginia – outside of Richmond https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/11/october-27-30-chesterfield-virginia-outside-of-richmond Pocahontas State Park

We had heard SO much about this park - a “must stay place” and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

What a gorgeous area!! We had a super nice site – the leaves were falling like crazy, and the weather was simply scrumptious our entire stay…..

Surprise!!! Who doesn’t like a surprise???

Turns out our daughter and her family were in Richmond for a little getaway, at the same time we were there.

Do you want to get together?

Well yeah!!!!

We didn’t spend much time at the park but it was well worth it.

We got to hang with the family – well part of it. We had lunches and dinners and tons of laughter.

We met them at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, which is beautiful.

They happened to be celebrating Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican Day Of the Dead. There

were vendors and people dressed up in their best celebration outfits…..

Our daughter in-law's parents live only 5 minutes from the park.

Who wants to get together at a local brewery on such a beautiful day??? We all do!!!!! And the perfect weekend

ended with a yummy dinner at a winery.

Do we like to eat and drink?? Hell yeah…………

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/11/october-27-30-chesterfield-virginia-outside-of-richmond Mon, 13 Nov 2023 00:29:24 GMT
October 26 – 27 Newburg, Maryland https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/11/october-26-27-newburg-maryland Aqualand Campground
This was a quick overnight stop to break up our mileage heading inland from the beach.
Privately owned – cheap – it did its job for a place to stay – LOL!
The drive was beautiful as the trees are changing and the leaves they are a fallin!!!. The
sunset was gorgeous and that’s about all there was to this trip…..

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/11/october-26-27-newburg-maryland Sun, 12 Nov 2023 23:10:50 GMT
October 13 – 26 Rehoboth Beach, Delaware – Eastern Shore https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/11/october-13-26-rehoboth-beach-delaware-eastern-shore Delaware Seashore State Park

As we made our way farther north up the beautiful eastern shore of Virginia into Delaware, we felt the anticipation growing with the familiar territory.  The skies were blue, not a cloud in the sky and then there it was!!!  The sign leading us to Ocean City and the surrounding beach towns!!   We were so excited to finally arrive…..When we lived in Northern Virginia (NOVA), we came to the area many times. 

 

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We had never been to this State Park but it was the perfect spot for 2 weeks.  The campground is split between the Indian River Inlet where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Inlet – South and North.  We elected to stay at the South Inlet.  The beautiful Indian River Inlet Bridge (officially called the Charles W. Cullen Bridge) is quite the site – especially at night, as it can be seen for miles due to the beautiful lighting.  Pedestrians are allowed to walk across it but the weather and wind just didn’t cooperate for us – so we’ll have to go back!!

So much to do in the area….and friends to visit!!

First up was a day trip to the Wallops Island Visitor Center.  Wallops has grown from a small test range for guided missile research to supporting aerospace and science exploration and technology development world-wide as NASA’s premier location for suborbital and small orbital activities.  What a super neat place….

 

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Next up was lunch on the charming resort island of Chincoteague, VA. overlooking the water and a great view of Wallops Island.  We were treated to some pretty cool military planes doing some touch and go training.  Then it was off to hunt for the magical wild horses…..we had asked the waitress at lunch where to find them.  The island isn’t that big so it was easy to find the area.  We drove……..slow………we drove further………slow………..and then Bingo – we turned a corner and there they were – in all their beautiful glory!  We can’t tell you how excited we were!!  We pulled off to the side and spent several hours saying nothing……..just basking at the beautiful sight in front of us….After all of this excitement, we visited the Chincoteague Lighthouse before it got dark.  What is it about lighthouses that fascinate us?  Not sure except they are all different and just so cool….

 

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Another day trip took us to Assateague Island National Seashore which is in both Virginia and Maryland.  The Island is the largest natural barrier island ecosystem in the Mid Atlantic state region that remains predominantly unaffected by human development.  There isn’t much here except for a couple of campgrounds and a visitor center.  So why were we here????  As we entered the National Seashore area, our eyes were peeled in every direction.  We had heard SO many stories of all the gorgeous wild horses.  Within minutes, a beautiful stallion came bounding from the trees, along with his friend.  We were in awe!!!  Down the road, there was a traffic jam – LOL!!  Horses take naps standing up and there they were, in the middle of the road, napping – for over an hour – LOL!  When we could pass, we continued to drive around, keeping our eyes peeled for more.  We gave up so time to go.  But wait!!!  Look over there – look how beautiful they are!!  And off they went into the swamp land.  At the state park, we had a bite to eat. We drove around more, with the hopes of spotting horses on the beach.  Nope…..okay – time to leave.  Well would you look at that!!  Sweetie – back up into that parking lot.  I think those horses are heading for the beach.  We park in the lot and sure enough, here they come…..oh my gosh – they are RIGHT THERE!!  We spent a few more hours following the horses thru the lot and on to the beach.  It was surreal – truly…..as the sun set, we were graced with beautiful skies and a few more horses along the main road as we left.  What a completely thrilling day!  We were exhausted by the time we got back to the Sandman – LOL!!

 

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A close friend of ours, Lacey, who was our neighbor when we lived in Leesburg, VA, lives near where we were staying.  It had been way too many years since we had seen her. We got together for lunch with her and her hubby Mike.  Good times!!!!  Our kids grew up together for many years and it was fun catching up on things.

 

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Another close friend that Donna went to school with in the Philippines, Cathi, lives very near where we were staying.  We got together with her and her hubby Mike for dinner.  We all forgot to take a picture darn it!!  We had a great time yacking away and enjoyed an after dinner drink at their beautiful house near Fenwick Island.  Fenwick Island is also host to the oldest lighthouse in the state of Delaware.  It is on the Delaware/Maryland state line.

Before we got married, we took a vacation in Mike’s MG Midget to Dewey Beach in Delaware.  While there, we decided to take the ferry from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, New Jersey.  Well………..we did another day trip and did the same trip again.  Cape May is known for its colorful 19th century architecture, gorgeous beaches, and many places to dine and shop.  The ferry was a blast coming and going.  Talk about a luxurious ride!!!  Reclining seats, gift shop, TVs, tables, and food – LOL!!  We started our day at the Cape May Lighthouse, walked the beach, and ended it strolling through the downtown village shops.  Oh and can you say Lobstahhhhhhh????  We had THE most yummy fresh lobster lunch………..lips are still smacking!!!!

 

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We visited all of the nearby beach towns and poked our heads into all the shops – Cape Henlopen, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island, and……..Ocean City.  Oh Ocean City you can be SO much fun….many things were closed because its shoulder season (off peak) but the Boardwalk was still fun to walk. We totally forgot that they still have a mounted police patrol. Love locks on the Pier fence.  So cool to see!! All of these places brought back so many memories.  It was hard to leave…………….but we’ll be back!!!

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/11/october-13-26-rehoboth-beach-delaware-eastern-shore Sun, 12 Nov 2023 03:13:18 GMT
October 8 – 12  Cape Charles, Virginia https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/10/october-8-12-cape-charles-virginia Kiptopeke State Park

Our biggest anxiety getting to this park was crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT).  We got this – no problem!  We kept an eye on the winds as there are restrictions for trailers crossing the bridge.  Morning of – all systems go…………..let’s do this!!!  And away we go………

Driving CBBT

 

 

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Kiptopeke State Park, located at the southern end of the Virginia eastern shore, was yet another beautiful place near the water (Chesapeake Bay) to lay our heads and enjoy the outdoors.  We found super nice hiking trails that either started at the beach or ended up there.  Within one of the trails was a beautiful Pollinator area.  There were SO many butterflies and bees; we didn’t know what to look at first!!

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Just off the coast of the park are WWII concrete ships partially sunken.  The Concrete Fleet, also known as the Kiptopeke Breakwater, consists of several concrete ships lined end to end just west of the former Chesapeake Bay ferry terminal. The crumbling hulks consist of 9 of the 24 concrete ships contracted by the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II. In 1948 the ships were brought to Kiptopeke Beach in order to bring protection to the terminal during severe weather. Once arranged, their bilge-cocks were opened to bring on water and they were left to settle on the bottom of the Bay. 

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The ferry was closed in 1964 when the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel opened but the breakwater still protects the pier and beach while providing a home for coastal fish, shellfish, and birds. Since being scuttled in the bay the rusty bones of these ships have been exposed to half a century of weather creating an incredible show of decay. Certain sections of the wrecks offer holes large enough for a small boat to pass through where one can see the interior structure of these vessels up close.

The night skies were dark…dark…the stars looked so close, it felt like you could yank them right out of the sky…..got a glimpse of the Milky Way!!

The historic town of Cape Charles was quaint and quiet.  There is a very small population but it seems builders have come in – buying up land to build homes – bringing more people to the area.  We understand from the locals that Cape Charles is becoming quite the tourist spot which we were happy to hear.  The town virtually closed down once the CBBT was built, because all of the traffic that used to come via the ferry, now is on the highway outside of town.  They’ve done a lot to bring shops and restaurants to sustain some local and tourist traffic.  We drove around all of the little streets, looking at the beautiful new and old homes.  Neat place!!!

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One of our neighbors had an Airstream – a special edition called The Pendleton.  Only 100 were made.  First time we’ve ever seen one in person and it sure was puuurrrtttyyy!  We had a nice evening with them around the fire, partaking in some adult beverages.  During our stay, yet another Airstream showed up – this one a 1962 and man did it shine, shine, shine.  Her friend had the other vintage trailer.

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Walking on the beach, to us, is one of our favorite things.  Hours go by without blinking an eye……we’ll see you again Cape Charles………………………

 

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/10/october-8-12-cape-charles-virginia Sun, 22 Oct 2023 03:47:47 GMT
September 25 – October 8 OBX (Outer Banks), North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/10/september-25-october-8-obx-outer-banks-north-carolina Oregon Inlet Campground – Cape Hatteras National Seashore

IMG-2974IMG-2974 Finally – after 24 years – we’ve made it back to our favorite place – ever!!!! It’s beautiful, magical,…Breathtaking – the Outer Banks (OBX). They are a 200-mile string of barrier islands and spits off the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. They line most of the North Carolina coastline, separating Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Pamlico Sound – from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s such gorgeous natural beauty that can’t be explained, if you’ve never been. We hope that everyone that reads this will experience the OBX at some point in your life.

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We could feel the excitement building as we drove the short distance from our previous stay in Currituck Sound. Alas – we see the sign for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore!!!!!

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Within a few minutes we were pulling into that beautiful Oregon Inlet Campground….oh there are the dunes!! Little paths thru the dunes just a short walk from our site. We couldn’t wait to put those beach sandals on…..but alas………..we would have to wait….

Ya know – Mother Nature has a way – or it’s just our luck – it might be sunny, but the WIND made for a non-beach time for our first few days.

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Our first outing was taking the free ferry from Cape Hatteras to a place we hold close to our hearts – our first camping experience on the beach was Ocracoke Island. Off we went for the day. Up at the crack of dawn for an hour’s drive south, to wait in line for the first come/first serve ferry. We waited about an hour (not so bad). The ferry ride takes about 70 minutes even though it’s only about 9 nautical miles from Cape Hatteras to Ocracoke. The ever-shifting currents are constantly shifting the ocean floor, so the ferry has to maneuver well out into the sound to miss all the sand bars.

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Oh, it looks just like it did 24 years ago! Golf carts and bicycles in abundance. Vehicle parking is limited but we managed to find a spot for Journey while we covered every square inch we could, on foot. Neat little shops keeping the small economy going. Years ago we had talked about buying a place and living on the quaint island…..Most of the restaurants were closed for the season, but one of our favorites – Howards Pub was still open. It was packed and we happily sat at the outside patio and enjoyed our meal….

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The island boasts so much history, it’s worth reading about. Lots of pirate stories (many true). Several historical cemeteries on the island including a British one. Ocracoke – a true gift from the sea……………….

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While poking in and out of all the beach towns/shops up and down the OBX, we stopped at the Wright Brothers Memorial. The park service has done a great job at preserving the land with a nice memorial and visitor’s center.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park was another cool stop. It is home to the tallest living sand dune system on the Atlantic coast and provides an ideal location for kite flying, watching sunsets, and hang gliding – which they teach on site.

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Alligator River Wildlife Refuge was a place one of our neighbors told us about. Lots of wildlife including bears to be seen, best in the early morning or dusk. We made 3 trips out and finally got lucky the 3rd evening with some bears.

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Speaking of neighbors! We had been out running errands – got back to the campground and as we rounded the corner to The Sandman, we see a vehicle parked in front of it. What the heck??? Who does that??? We get closer and see no one in the car but we see feet by the door. Hum??? What the heck? We park Journey and around the front comes this adorable, older than us couple, who live in Southern VA – we had met them when we camped at Hagan-Stone Park a few weeks ago. OMG!!!!! They remembered we were coming to the OBX. Their son lives in Kill Devil Hills (a local town) and they were visiting. They drove to Oregon Inlet on the chance they would find us! We had dinner with them and went with them on our 3rd and lucky adventure to the Alligator River Wildlife Refuge. Now, how cool is that????????????

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Pea Island Wildlife Refuge is another great little stop along the OBX. Nice visitor’s center and places to park along the highway to get to the beach. One day we had the beach all to ourselves……….

Of course we looked for seashells and sea glass. We found 4 beautiful pieces of sea glass which we will cherish for years to come!!

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We visited all of the OBX Lighthouses – Currituck, Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras, Ocracoke, and Roanoke Marshes. All, breathtaking in their own way!!

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A wonderful 2 weeks……….we were sad to be leaving but more adventures to come…..

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/10/september-25-october-8-obx-outer-banks-north-carolina Mon, 16 Oct 2023 01:24:35 GMT
September 21 – 25 Currituck Sound, Coinjock, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/10/september-21-25-currituck-sound-coinjock-north-carolina KOA Outer Banks West

Alas…..we are near the most magical place we’ve ever been……Our most favorite place in the entire world.

Across the “Sound” from the Outer Banks, lies one of many inlets – this one called Currituck Sound. Beautiful beach homes of every style and size. Unlike the Outer Banks, the people here appear to be year-round residents versus rentals that you see up and down the Outer Banks.

We have been looking forward to good OBX seafood. On the recommendation of the KOA staff, we headed to the nearest Marina the first night after we arrived. Oi vey – we LOVED our dinner of Broiled Flounder. Another diet coming after we’ve left this area in a few weeks – LOL!!

The KOA is at the VERY northern tip of the Sound. A very nice place and staff! We opted for a site on the inside loop facing the water. The other sites nearest the water are back-in and the way our Airstream is configured, we like what we picked. At this point, we’re VERY glad we picked what we did! Because……………Of Tropical Storm Ophelia!!!!!!!! Why must you ruin the first part of our trip to the area? We haven’t been here in a bit over 20 years…. and…..we’re finally here……and so are you!!!!

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Is it going to flood? Should we leave or should we stay????? Is it going to turn into a Hurricane or remain a Tropical Storm??? Hum – what to do??? Closely watching ALL the news, and talking to the KOA staff – who indicated that this particular area had NEVER flooded during a storm, we hunkered down and stayed put. For 24 hours we sustained 60-70 mile an hour winds, along with the pouring rain that accompanies a Tropical Storm…..The Sandman was rocking and rolling all night long!!!!!

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At last, she moved north – leaving us with puffy clouds and beautiful blue skies including a rainbow, Whew!!

I mean – we love adventures but………….there is a limit – LOL!!!

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Why yes – there are Wild Spanish Mustang horses not too far from us!! We could have driven our truck but not knowing the beach condition after the storm, we opted to go on a 4WD tour.

Oh my lord – what a magical sight to see!! There just are no words to describe the beauty of what we saw…..

To get to the horses, there are no paved roads. You must have 4WD because you have to drive on the beach to get there. And get this? There are 2 small communities of homes (big – huge) on this 12-mile strip of land (just houses- no stores or anything else). Although they do have a fire department. The roads – if you can call them that are all sand. Not for us, even though we did love living near the beach in California….

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/10/september-21-25-currituck-sound-coinjock-north-carolina Sat, 07 Oct 2023 02:48:07 GMT
September 18 - 21 Hollister, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/9/september-18---21-hollister-north-carolina Medoc Mountain State Park

It seems we’ve traversed all over the state!  What’s interesting to us is each part of NC that we’ve visited, is SO different – from the terrain to the people!!

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As we’ve mentioned before, there are times we find hidden gems to stay at, that are known to locals, but not necessarily to those traveling through the area.  Medoc Mountain is one of those places.  So nice, quiet, and beautiful….very few peeps there.

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The weather was scrumptious – windows open and lots of good sleeping nights!!!  Very dark skies at night.  Sitting by the fire the first night, we saw a falling star.  How cool – one of our favorite things to do when the skies cooperate!  We also saw many satellites every night, one after the other go by.  Love it!!

We did several hikes located on the campground property.  This was the first time we both spotted a BIG snake at the same time.  Donna – who loves snakes (NOT) made a beeline to continue down the trail, Mike close behind.  Nope – no picture – definitely wasn’t stopping or going back to get one – LOL!!!

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Okay – who or what stole Mike’s shower shoe?  How in the world does this happen in the middle of nowhere?  Shower shoes are left at the door to dry off after using the local facilities.  He went back outside to do something, reached for his shoes and……………..one was gone.  Hum….was it Big Foot?  Was it a kid playing a joke?  We looked all over and well….it was just gone.

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Sitting by the fire - sky watching, Mike sees a shadow of “something” walking thru the woods behind our site.  Quick!!  Get that flashlight!!!  We see a dog going through the woods.  We didn’t think anything of it.  We thought maybe one of the dogs camping near us had gotten off the leash.  Never saw it again that night.

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Morning comes and the other (1 shoe that we had left outside hoping its mate would mysteriously appear) shoe was gone!  Well damn…..after looking around we found one shoe – something had chewed it like a toy.  Shortly after that we see a hound dog running through the woods.  She was skinny and obviously hungry.  Gave her some food/water but she wasn’t going to get near us.  She seemed friendly but scared. 

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The Ranger came through on many of his morning drive checks.  He was very aware of the dog as many others had reported seeing her over the past several weeks.  Sad….seems as if maybe she was a hunting dog that didn’t quite have what her owners were looking for, so they dumped her.  The Ranger said it happens a lot……they have a list a mile long for people that want to adopt her – if they can catch her – which they’ve tried several times.  We hope the best for her!!!

 

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/9/september-18---21-hollister-north-carolina Fri, 22 Sep 2023 22:50:34 GMT
September 11 – 18 Pleasant Garden, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/9/september-11-18-pleasant-garden-north-carolina Hagan-Stone Park

We enjoyed a beautiful drive through the back roads of North Carolina to a nice, quaint, quiet County Park.  A bit off the beaten path and the kind of place we love!  A couple of nice ponds that greet you upon your arrival, with several locals trying their luck at catching something….

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The skies were extra dark at night, and we were lucky enough to see the ISS pass right over head one night.  We tried our best to catch a look at a falling star, but no luck this time….

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We met some nice neighbors including another Airstream couple that lived not too far away.  They have family in the area and use the park quite often to stay while they visit.  While conversing with them, we discussed small issues each of us had with little nitnoi things on our Airstreams.  We had noticed our solar was not charging as it should be.  They had experienced the same thing and showed us what they did to fix theirs.  Voila!  2 of the 3 plugs used to recharge the solar, had wiggled loose over time.  All fixed!!!  Yayyy!!

Mike was able to catch up with two of his Navy buddies from the USS Peterson, who discovered we were in the area.  They hadn’t seen each other since 1980!! They came over to see our home on wheels then off to dinner we went to catch up on old times for a few more hours.

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A longtime friend Kurt drove a bit over an hour to come see our home on wheels and swap stories.  We saw him last year; he lives near where we bought our truck.  Off we went to a local Mexican place to catch up on more stories.

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Our camping neighbors mentioned the North Carolina Zoo was a “must see” so off we went to explore it.  It was a bit of a drive, but it gave us another chance to see more green countryside!  We spent the entire day traversing through the most beautiful zoo we’ve ever been in.  Inexpensive to enter – free parking – food meh – but we did get 5 miles on our trek!!!

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It was a great week and very relaxing!!!

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/9/september-11-18-pleasant-garden-north-carolina Fri, 22 Sep 2023 21:47:21 GMT
August 30 – September 11 Boone, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/9/august-30-september-11-boone-north-carolina KOA Holiday

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They call this part of North Carolina, the “High Country”. There is just something magical about fall creeping up and a few of those tree leaves starting to change. We had warm days and cool, crisp nights. Sleeping with the windows open and listening to all those night creatures, makes for a fabulous night’s sleep!!

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Nestled deep in the mountains where we stayed, is the college town of Boone. Hey – it’s Appalachian territory here! Little did we know that a few days after we arrived, was the 1st football game of the season at Appalachian State University…..

The town was bustling with all kinds of peeps in black and yellow – the school colors. Students, Moms, Dads, Grandmas, Grandpas – all here to cheer on their local team. We toured the town well in advance of game day. Packed full of neat places to poke in and out of…

Grandfather Mountain is like no other place we’ve been. We hiked to the top and felt like we were on top of the world!! The views from every angle were spectacular! If you’ve never seen the Blue Ridge Mountains in person, they are like no other mountain range anywhere. The Mountain famous for its “swinging bridge” is a mile up. Donna got up enough guts to walk across (she didn’t look down).  This was quite the accomplishment for her since she is scared to death of open air heights. Then she had to walk back across – oi vey!

Done!!! LOL!!! We hiked back down and off we went to the Nature Center and wildlife habitats that are part of Grandfather Mountain. Pretty neat place!!! The weather couldn’t have been better for us – Yayyy!!

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Blowing Rock is another neat town – very quaint with shops and restaurants. We got there early because it was Labor Day weekend. We managed to get in and out of all the shops before it got too crowded. But…..trying to find lunch was a bit of a challenge. We did – but good thing we weren’t starving as the wait times were nuts!!

From the town, we went to the actual “Blowing Rock”. No doubt it’s a tourist place. We were a bit disappointed as we were expecting this HUGE rock but in reality, it was not to be. Oh well – the views once again of the Blue Ridge Mountains were breathtaking….

Crab Orchard Falls is a very popular hike in the area. We headed off early in the morning to accomplish the hike before it got too hot. What a simply beautiful place tucked in the woods. We had been told that a “must do” was to stop at the famous Mast General Store which was near Crab Orchard Falls. It’s in a little township called Valle Crucis. What a neat place! Yep – we managed to find a few things including handmade ice cream and sherbet.

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We sat outside resting our bones from our hike and shopping spree and enjoyed every yummy bite – LOL!!

Remember Andy Griffith? His hometown is Mt. Airy, NC. Oh – another day trip – let’s go!! So off we went to everything Mayberry. What a neat “throwback” day it was. We went into many of the shops, and then headed to the museum. What fun it was!! We understand from the locals that every year there is a festival called Mayberry Days, celebrating the Andy Griffith Show. Unfortunately, our dates in the area weren’t going to coincide with the festival as we didn’t know about it in advance.

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Floyd’s Barber shop was still there and Mike decided he needed a haircut. While there, several locals came in and turns out they were former actors and written books that were just being published.

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Our trip to the area was planned around and attending the “Land of Oz Autumn Festival” at the top of Beech Mountain. We bought the tickets back in June as the Festival is only 3 weeks in September and sells out quickly. We weren’t sure what to expect and realized that it was something very special, based on listening to other people talk about it. There were people from all over the US that had come to “play Oz” for the day! OMG – it was SO much fun.

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All of the characters looked and sounded just like they did in the movie. The Yellow Brick Road meandered through the woods. Along the way, the characters reenacted parts of the original movie. Did we feel like kids? Yep…..and it was a fabulous day!!!

Can we just tell you that THE most BEAUTIFUL road/drive (we think) in the US is the Blue Ridge Parkway. It runs through Virginia and North Carolina at 469 miles long. We’ve been on it several times in several different areas of Virginia and NC. If you ever get the chance, DO IT – put it on your bucket list – you will not be disappointed……………………

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/9/august-30-september-11-boone-north-carolina Sat, 16 Sep 2023 02:12:34 GMT
August 24 – 30 Oak Ridge/Heiskell, Tennessee https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/9/august-24-30-oak-ridge/heiskell-tennessee Raccoon Valley RV Park (Heiskell)/Comfort Inn (Oak Ridge)

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We planned this trip around a Navy Reunion for Mike.  When he was in the Navy, one of the ships he was on was the USS Oak Ridge.  Have you seen the movie “Oppenheimer”?  Oak Ridge is known as the “Secret City”.  It was established in 1942 as a production site for the “Manhattan Project” - the massive American, British, and Canadian operation that developed the atomic bomb.  Lots of history!! 

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Last year when we attended the reunion, we toured areas that are no longer “active”, along with several museums. 

Close by is the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary.  It opened in 1896 and closed its doors in 2009.  Quite interesting and creepy at the same time……..It sits exactly as it did when the doors closed with the exception of a Distillery that is now on the property.  They distill their own Moonshine and Vodka, using all local grains and fresh mountain water.

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All in all, it was a great trip – we had tons of fun seeing old friends once again……  

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/9/august-24-30-oak-ridge/heiskell-tennessee Thu, 07 Sep 2023 00:51:02 GMT
August 17 – 24 Gatlinburg, Tennessee https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-17-24-gatlinburg-tennessee Greenbrier Campground

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OMG! If you’ve never been to The Smoky Mountain National Park, then put it on your bucket list!!! It’s been many years since we’ve been here but didn’t come to explore Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. We were here with our MINI Cooper Club to drive “The Dragon” which is on the opposite side of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Devils Gap/Fontana Village).

Our campground was awesome! Very close to several entrances to the Great Smoky Mountain NP. We explored and did as much as we could during our week stay.

We poked around the town of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Both tourist towns with plenty to see and do. You drive right through Gatlinburg into one of the main entrances to the National Park.

The scenery, roads, waterfalls, rushing rivers – all just breathtakingly gorgeous. It was hot but no rain the entire time.

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Our first drive through the NP we spotted a juvenile bear by the roadside – not interested in any of the traffic going by. It was happily munching on whatever it could find.

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Tunnels – lots of them…..

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We did a 3 mile hike to Grotto Falls which is quite a popular place. We got up at O dark thirty to ensure we could get parking, as it is very limited. The trail was very well marked, and “bear” warning signs posted quite frequently. We spotted a biggie as we were heading back but couldn’t get the camera out quick enough. It was fairly close to us so safety was our main concern. It happily came towards us on the trail then disappeared into the forest.

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Clingmans Dome was on our list to do – again. We had hiked/climbed up when we were previously in the area but forgot how STEEP it was (we were a lot younger)! Whew!! We got our workout for the morning. It was a cool and foggy morning but still awesome.

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Pigeon Forge was fun to explore – especially since we knew there was a Moon Pie General Store. Donna’s favorite snack……yeah, they sell Moon Pies elsewhere, BUT there are only 2 General Stores that have all kinds of other goodies. It was fun……….Mike also got some go-kart riding in. Did we feel like little kids? You bet ya!!!!

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Also in Pigeon Forge is The Old Mill District. We had lunch at The Old Mill Restaurant. Good home cooking food!!! Man, we have to stop eating like this – LOL!! Beautifully located on the river….

We found Iron Mountain Metal Craft shop. They teach you make knives from railroad spikes. So of course, we had to.

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Another wake up at the crack o dawn was to do an 11 mile bike ride inside the NP at the area called Cades Cove. This is where a lot of wildlife can be seen in the park. It is a beautiful open meadow.  Every summer evening, like a rush hour in a big city, lines of cars full of wide eyed tourists drive around the loop hoping to catch a glimpse of something wild. On Wednesdays, the NP closes the 11 mile loop to cars and only allows bikes. We were hoping to spot more bears, but sadly, we saw none – booooooo…lots of deer and turkeys though. And a family of coyotes. It was fun riding bikes in the middle of the Smoky Mountains.

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The Chalets surrounding Gatlinburg have views that must look awesome. 

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-17-24-gatlinburg-tennessee Fri, 25 Aug 2023 00:19:38 GMT
August 16 – 17  Old Fort, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-16-17-old-fort-north-carolina Catawba Falls Campground

We had a quick overnight stay at this family-owned campground – to do some “adulting” like laundry, phone calls, paperwork, etc.  The weather was simply gorgeous which enabled us to open all the windows and sleep to the sound of the babbling creek right behind our site.  Ummmmmm…..simply lovely!!

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The day was crystal clear through the mountains.  We spotted a nice Woodie being towed somewhere…..unusual to see such a vehicle in these parts…..

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Something quite common throughout the southeast are giant trees with years and years of “vine” growth.  Pretty neat looking….

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-16-17-old-fort-north-carolina Thu, 24 Aug 2023 21:42:21 GMT
August 14 – 16 Roaring Gap, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-14-16-roaring-gap-north-carolina  

Stone Mountain State Park

What started out as a gorgeous sunny driving day, although slow, through some very mountainous areas, turned nasty, with a whopper thunderstorm. It was raining so hard; we pulled off at an exit and sat for a while to let the skies settle down a bit. Luckily we were only 30 minutes from our campground.

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The area is quite full of many outdoor things to do – hiking, biking, boating….you name it…

We hiked to the famous (around here anyway) Stone Mountain. Such a site to see, my oh my!!! On the grounds of the campground made it easy to get to. Located at the base of Stone Mountain, was the Hutchinson Homestead. It was a working farm built by the Hutchinson family in the mid-19th century. It was restored in 1998 and bought by the state of North Carolina as part of the Stone Mountain Park, in 1979.

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From there, we hiked in a different direction to Stone Mountain Falls. A breathtaking 200ft. waterfall in Big Sandy Creek that flows down a steep rock face into a shallow pool.

Surrounding the lower falls is a pool that makes a beautiful natural area full of boulders, branches, and rocks. There are 350 steps leading down from the top of the falls and an overlook along the way. Whew! We did it…..Yayyy!! We were a bit pooped when we got back to the truck.

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Late in the afternoon we headed into the town of Elkin for supplies. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a pet Llama outside of a Llama farm. Well….we did today. Meet “Sipping Kalua”!!

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The owner was asked multiple times – jokingly – “what kind of dog is that”? His reply –“he’s my Llamadoodle”. He proudly walked with a leash into the Tracker Supply Store and then into Lowes. Quite the site to see….

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-14-16-roaring-gap-north-carolina Wed, 16 Aug 2023 03:16:50 GMT
August 12 – 14 Mountain Rest, South Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-12-14-mountain-rest-south-carolina Oconee State Park

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The woods – the trees – the lake - the curvy roads – the sunsets! All gorgeous scenery……The area is chock full of trails, waterfalls, and just neat things to do outside.

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Even though it was HOT and HUMID, we went to Stump house Mountain Tunnel. It’s noted on the Register of Historical Places. It was originally started to connect South Carolina’s coast to Tennessee. The project ran out of money and came to a halt. 1617 feet of tunnel is available to walk in - it’s 25 feet high and 17 feet wide and then you come to a locked, old, creepy door. The walls are dripping with water from above that creates little pools of water all along the tunnel edge.

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From the Tunnel, we hiked to Issaquena Falls, named after a legendary Cherokee girl who is said to have leaped from the top of the falls with her lover. It is not known if they died or landed on a ledge out of sight of hostile tribesmen and eventually lived happily ever after.

 

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Both of these cool places are located in the Sumter National Forest.

Interesting sights always catch our eye as we travel from destination to destination.

Something we’ve seen here and there, trucks carrying logs going to??? Who knows –paper mill, or to build log homes…..

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-12-14-mountain-rest-south-carolina Wed, 16 Aug 2023 02:52:32 GMT
August 9 – 12 Chester, South Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-9-12-chester-south-carolina Chester State Park

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Right on the lake! A Beautiful Small Park – just what we like. We lucked out and nobody had the site directly across from us, to block our view of the lake. There is a long dock to walk out and enjoy the view. There was a gathering spot by the lake, with swings, tables/chairs, and a fire pit. Super nice!!

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It was great to meet our neighbor Larry; he spent a lot of time watching baseball games on his outdoor TV.

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The historical part of town looked like it folded many years ago. We saw pictures of what it used to look like as a thriving town way back when. Everything looks so run down and sad. We were told that after Interstate I-95 was built, most of the little towns along what WAS the main highway then, simply couldn’t sustain them. There were a few small shops open on the main street that we poked our heads in. Outside of that, down the road, there were some amenities. Here and there, were some beautiful looking plantation looking homes.

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Along our travels, in the smallest rural areas, there may not be much, but there are churches everywhere. Some are huge and beautiful – others not so much. The locals gather in whatever they can.

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As with any hot and humid area, we had a few whopper thunderstorms roll through. In our sticks and bricks house, no big deal. When we are inside The Sandman, you can feel the thunder rolling under your feet – boom!!!!

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-9-12-chester-south-carolina Wed, 16 Aug 2023 02:00:10 GMT
August 5 – 9 Ridgeville, South Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-5-9-ridgeville-south-carolina Givhans Ferry State Park

Such a nice quiet place!  Off the beaten path and another beautiful place.  We are just amazed daily at how many beautiful places there are that we are so fortunate to see…

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We were lucky enough to see Donna’s friends, Sue Gage and Lisa Gage Patrick again.  They all went to High School together in Subic Bay, Philippines.  We had planned this trip not knowing we would see them several weeks earlier. 

They came out to visit us one evening to see The Sandman.  We had burgers with all the fixings and some yummy desserts, they brought to share.  As luck would have it, those evening South Carolina thunderstorms rolled in shortly after dinner.  It gave us a chance to hang out inside and yack for a bit – LOL!!

The next day we all got together again and headed to Charleston.  We toured the area and some of the outlying islands.  We had a great lunch on the beach at Isle of Palms, and then we caught a ferry to Fort Sumter.

 

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Charleston is filled with so much history and the most beautiful tree lined streets ever.  We need to come back!!   We ended the day going to the famous “Angel Tree”.  It’s estimated to be over 400 years old.  Coolest tree we’ve ever seen.  It was a great time!!!

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When down in this area, it’s important to note how to evacuate during hurricane season.  We happened upon this route many times.

Our last day at Givhans we did something new – can’t believe we’ve never done this before.  We rented floating tubes and went down the Edisto River. The river runs right behind the campground and “Edisto Adventures” rents whatever you need.  Off we went – 2 miles – 2 hours.  We took a cooler for lunch and snacks.  They pick you up at the end and bring you back to the park.  SO much fun!!!

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/august-5-9-ridgeville-south-carolina Sat, 12 Aug 2023 02:22:26 GMT
July 28 – August 5 Holden Beach, Supply, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/july-28-august-5-holden-beach-supply-north-carolina Holden Beach RV Campground

We had been looking forward to this portion of our travels for many months! Our daughter, our grandson, and her husband’s family rented a house for a week at Holden Beach. We stayed at a campground only a couple miles from them. It was a fantastic week of hanging out, playing at the beach, flying kites, shell hunting, and eating food that each family picked a night and cooked for everyone else. Yummy…………………..oh and then there was THE BEST handmade ice cream place ever…………….major diet after this week – LOL!!

The campground was super nice. Great pool that had only been open a couple of months. They have Corn Hole just outside of the pool fence. A free shuttle to the beach if you needed it. The city has many little beach stores to go in and out of. Of course, we had to check them all out!!!

The first of many highlights of our trip was our grandson Camden, spent 2 nights with us sleeping in the Airstream. Oh, we had so much fun! We watched game shows on TV (he loves them), went to the pool, and played Corn Hole. Another highlight of the week, besides being with part of our family, was the “Turtle Boil”.

When the sea turtle mama lays her eggs on the beach, the Holden Beach Turtle Watch “marks the spot” and ropes it off. 60 days from then is incubation. We were lucky enough to have several of those areas right outside the house. When the babies hatch, they call it a “Turtle Boil” because they literally bubble up through the sand and make their way to the Ocean water. The Turtle Watch volunteers make sure that no one touches them, no lights on, and they help any strays make their way to the ocean. It was THE coolest thing ever to see!!

We were sad to see the week come to an end…….

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/july-28-august-5-holden-beach-supply-north-carolina Fri, 11 Aug 2023 02:49:12 GMT
July 24 – July 28 Bishopville, South Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/july-24-july-28-bishopville-south-carolina Lee State Park

Quiet – quaint – also an Equestrian Park. Interesting…. we’ve never been in a campground that had a separate little stable area at each campsite – but now we have! The back part of the park had multiple sites for horses and their owners. Based on what the camp host told us, it gets quite busy as there are Equestrian clubs that travel together from place to place.

Who knew?????

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The park itself is also well known in the area for the many Artesian Wells built in the 1930’s and is over 100 feet deep and still working and pumping water into the local creek. The 5-mile loop around the park takes you to several of them deep into the woods. Journey (our truck) needed a good bath after this escapade!

 

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The little town of Bishopville is well – little. Not much there – basic amenity stores, mostly vacant and run down more than we’ve seen lately. However, it is home to the South Carolina Cotton Museum and Veterans Museum. We spent several hours filling our heads with information about cotton and discovering that this little town is quite the place that honors our military.

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Bishopville – located in Lee County – is also the home of “The Lizard man”. Mike purchased a book about him at the Cotton Museum. He was a real person, so we understand. He got tired of people coming on his property, so he started dressing up as “The Lizard man” to scare them away – LOL!! We ate at a local place recommended by the camp host – “Harry and Harry Too”. Lizard man made his presence well known as there were several newspaper clippings with long stories, framed on the walls. He also made quite the appearance on the restaurant sign.

Ya know? Since we started this retirement adventure, we’ve seen thousands of different styles of RV’s. Once in a while, you see one that just catches your eye. We love how people personalize what they own!

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/july-24-july-28-bishopville-south-carolina Fri, 11 Aug 2023 01:39:05 GMT
July 17 – July 24 Santee, South Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/july-17-july-24-santee-south-carolina Santee State Park

Another very nice park located on Lake Marion.  If it weren’t so dang HOT and humid, we could have enjoyed some nice walking trails……but…. we are in the heart of summer and in South Carolina!  Oh, and then there are those lovely nightly thunderstorms that roll through…. whew!!!

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  This park in particular is loaded with “flying” squirrels – LOL!!  And these little buggers like to eat the nuts from all the pinecones and then drop them from above out of the trees.  We haven’t been on the roof of the Airstream lately but we’re hoping there are no “dents” from the discarded cores!!

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It’s a bit off the beaten path so to speak but within 30 minutes’ drive to a couple of nice towns.  In fact, it was so HOT one day; we said “hey, let’s go to the movies”!  Something we don’t do very often.  So off to see “Mission Impossible” we went. 

Another day, we drove to Summerville and then on to Charleston with some longtime friends that Donna went to high school together in the Philippines – Sue Gage, Lisa Gage Patrick and her hubby Randall.  Randall chauffeured us around the gorgeous city of Charleston.  Oh my - the architect on the homes and buildings is just scrumptious.  We had been to Charleston a couple of times in the past, but it’s one of those cities that draw you back.  We had Linner (lunch/dinner) at the old Charleston Navy base which sits right on the water.  Couldn’t have asked for a better day!!

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Still in the land of huge agriculture, we passed acre after acre of corn, soybeans, tobacco, and peanuts. 

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One of the advantages of taking smaller secondary roads versus freeways, is you get to see all of the quirky tiny towns, and some have just images left of what they used to be – which is sad.   Others seem to be thriving – how?  Not sure…….

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/8/july-17-july-24-santee-south-carolina Fri, 11 Aug 2023 00:08:22 GMT
July 9 – 17 Dillon, South Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/7/july-9-17-dillon-south-carolina Little Pee Dee State Park

What do you do when you are close to “South of the Border”? (the North Carolina/South Carolina line).  Of course you have to go look at all the “stuff”!!  We had been before but ya know, you just have to.  It’s just one of those things.  And….it was HOT………

 

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Another day we drove to Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, to meet some longtime friends, Jim and Lyn Markham.  We’ve known them since we lived in Leesburg, VA many moons ago.  This is the second time we’ve gotten to see them on our travels.  We had lunch at the “Hippie Hen House”.  It’s a favorite for the locals and we can see why.  Very yummy food….

 

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After leaving Jim and Lyn, we were close to Myrtle Beach, so why not?  We had been there before but hey, it’s Myrtle Beach!  We did a bit of shopping at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Broadway at the Beach.  We can always find SOMETHING even if we don’t need it – LOL!!

We had seen on the local news about a shooting at a Waffle House nearby – not knowing exactly where it was, we stumbled upon it as we were heading back to the park.  Seems some folks got pretty rowdy in the middle of the night – drunk and disorderly – decided they wanted something to eat – and who knows what really happened – other than a bunch of windows got shot out.  Nobody hurt….

 

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And can we just say that the trees around here that have the Spanish Moss growing from them are pretty cool looking!!!

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/7/july-9-17-dillon-south-carolina Wed, 26 Jul 2023 02:32:06 GMT
July 5 – July 9 Elizabethtown, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/7/july-5-july-9-elizabethtown-north-carolina Jones Lake State Park

We almost had the place to ourselves! Considering it was in the 90-degree range, I can understand why.

Whew – we need to get used to this heat and humidity!

We had a great campsite – beautiful park – a nice lake with a beach area….but it was just too dang hot to hang outside.

The cute town of Elizabethtown was just minutes away. We poked around the town several times – in and out of the cute little shops. We had lunch at…………. Melvins

Well, it IS one of the top 100 places to eat while in North Carolina! They’ve been in business since 1938. Burgers, Hot Dogs, chips and drinks…. and the line was out the door!! They’ve got it down to a science…. we were sitting down with our burgers/drinks within 10 minutes.

Where can two of you eat for under $12.00??? If you order a Burger “all the way”, you get it with Chili, Mustard, Onions, and Slaw. Watching the assembly line while they put orders together was quite a site – LOL!!

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/7/july-5-july-9-elizabethtown-north-carolina Sat, 15 Jul 2023 15:20:11 GMT
June 26 – July 5  Pollocksville, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/7/june-26-july-5-pollocksville-north-carolina Magnolia Lane Campground and RV Resort

Where in the world is Pollocksville?  Well………it’s off the beaten path for sure!  But what a hidden gem we found.  Privately owned and the nicest owners ever!  That North Carolina charm is something that can’t be beat.  Their 4th of July celebration was on the 1st with a complimentary dinner of hot dogs, baked beans, and corn on the cob, cooked on the BIGGEST portable cooker we’ve ever seen!!  The evening topped off with a fantastic fireworks display over the lake. 

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We were about 30 minutes from New Bern in one direction and Swansboro/Cedar Point/Emerald Isle in the other direction – all surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Intercostal Waterway, and the Bogue Sound.   

We did a day trip to the historic district of New Bern.  It’s a beautiful town.  We saw lots of cool historic homes, neat little shops, the most gorgeous Episcopal Church, and lots of neat places to eat (of course).   The town “mascot” is a Bear, full size bears – all hand painted.  We stopped at the Visitors Center to get a map which provides you with the location of more than 60 of them!!!  Scavenger hunt………………….

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Another day trip took us on a full loop to Swansboro/Cedar Point/Emerald Isle.  There’re typical beach towns with a few neat shops and places to eat.  Lots of houses on stilts right on the water’s edge.  At the very northern tip of Emerald Isle is Fort Macon which we spent some time poking around – soaking in more history of the area.

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In between the towns are miles and miles of agriculture farms – tobacco, corn, cotton, peanuts, and a few sunflowers thrown in here and there.  What a great part of the country, which we truly love!!

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/7/june-26-july-5-pollocksville-north-carolina Sat, 15 Jul 2023 00:16:53 GMT
June 26 – 29 Washington, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/7/june-26-29-washington-north-carolina Goose Creek State Park

We had a beautiful, sunny drive – getting closer and closer to the beach areas. One thing we’ve both noticed is how beautiful the medians are – silly huh? But really – they are all beautifully manicured with lots of nice trees and flowers. It’s all quite welcoming…and then once off the main highways, very rural in this part of NC – more gorgeous countryside.

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The campground is a small, quaint park with only 20 sites. It’s a very nice place to land for several days.

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It wouldn’t be an adventure without some excitement. The first night we had a WHOPPER thunderstorm come thru that woke us and everybody else up.  Donna was woken by the sound of the POURING rain and snapping sounds. Now wide awake, we could see lots of activity with red lights and such, across the park. An ambulance left along with many other types of machinery. Turns out a tall pine tree had fallen on a trailer and one occupant was taken to the hospital. We understand that she was hurt but was going to be okay. Needless to say it was a pretty sleepless night.

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Not much around except for acres and acres of farm land growing tobacco and corn. The corn is almost “knee high by the 4th of July”!!

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As always, we can find interesting things where we are. We passed through this area many years ago to ride the ferry to Okracoke Island on the Outer Banks of NC. Ferry, you say??

Well, there just happens to be many of them in this region. One only 12 miles from where we stayed, so we hopped on it one afternoon and rode it across the Pamlico River to the small ghost town of Aurora.

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/7/june-26-29-washington-north-carolina Mon, 03 Jul 2023 00:27:00 GMT
June 21 - 26 Wake Forest, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-21---26-wake-forest-north-carolina Falls Lake State Recreation Area

Rain, rain go away – come back again some other day!! As we traveled from our previous site, we called Airstream of Greensboro to plead our case once again (we had called them yesterday and they had no time for us), that there was still something not quite right with The Sandman – we live full time on the road, and we REALLY needed Airstream to make it right. Low and behold, the Service Technician said swing by, and we’ll fit you in. Music to our ears!!! Yayyy! The road Gods were looking after us…….we changed course just slightly and within an hour, we were there. A few hours later, they had us all fixed up and, on the road, again. Whew!!! Yes!!! Thank you………….happy dance………..

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The first 3 days in Wake Forest, it poured and poured. Ugggg…there is nothing worse in Donna’s eyes than camping in the rain. But………it gave us a chance to finally check out the A/C in The Sandman – and the Dehumidifier. Yes – we are now in HOT and HUMID country which we’ve not lived in for many years. Both working as they should – another happy dance LOL!!!!

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Once the sun finally came out, we got a chance to meet our neighbor kitty, Galveston. It was a hoot watching him “chirp” at the birds and squirrels. He was quite good at climbing the trees close by too – LOL!! His parents had him on a long leash so no worries about him running off.

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Mike’s sister and family live in the area. It’s been quite a while since we spent any quality time with them. We had so much fun sightseeing, eating, laughing, drinking, and catching up.

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-21---26-wake-forest-north-carolina Thu, 29 Jun 2023 03:19:10 GMT
June 20 – 21 Charlotte, North Carolina https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-20-21-charlotte-north-carolina McDowell Nature Preserve

We get it – everyone needs rain but………..can we just get a dry morning to hitch up and get on the road??? Welp – not today. It was a nasty morning, a nasty drive and we arrived at our campsite as the rain finally let up a bit.

A super beautiful place, nestled in the woods, and we were sad that we were only staying overnight. Our plans to be there longer got screwed up when The Sandman got sick and we ended up in Virginia a few days more than anticipated. Oh well – things happen and we roll with the day………..

We did manage to get a nice walk in after getting set up, to the Nature Preserve itself. A nice LONG walk after a stressful drive, was just what the doctor ordered LOL!!! There is just “something” about nature, hearing the frogs croak, watching the lightning bugs start to buzz around as night falls, and finally seeing some stars appear.

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-20-21-charlotte-north-carolina Thu, 29 Jun 2023 02:01:24 GMT
June 16 - 20 Christiansburg, Virginia https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-16---20-christiansburg-virginia Interstate RV Park

It’s all great until it isn’t!! As we were getting ready to leave our last place, Claytor Lake State Park, our front stabilizers wouldn’t go up. Uh oh….Houston – we have a problem! We check other things and nothing, nada……….we check the inside CZone which is our control module for the entire rig and nothing, nada….batteries are showing dead, dead, dead. So….we get on the phone with Jackson Center which is where the Airstreams are made. They gave us some suggestions to try.  Did that – nothing worked. But we were able to hand crank the stabilizer up.

Next up – we called Coach Net which is the warranty roadside assistance thru Airstream. They found a guy – he came out – turns out he was a Bus and Truck mechanic – so no help. We get back on the phone with Coach Net. They find an RV mechanic close to us – Luke with Nomads RV shop. We talk. He can come to us – but…………we have to be out of our site by 4:00. The park is FULL so we had to leave. It’s now 2:30. We ended up towing The Sandman to Nomads. Luke does a quick look at things and finds at least 2 blow fuses amongst other things. Of course, it’s late on a Friday so nothing can be done until Monday.

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Luke helps us find an RV Park close by. Off we go. We spend all day Saturday calling places and driving all over looking for this special fuse. We find one at a local Dodge Dealer. All Airstream places are closed on the weekends – figures!! We called our besties Jon and Becky in CA to help. They found another fuse at a local Dodge dealer and sent it via Fed Ex for Monday arrival. All weekend we endure the CZone doing its reset and general wonkiness.

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Monday in pouring rain, we hitch up and take the Sandman to Nomads for more work. Luke does his best to get us up and running. But…..there are a few things we feel still need to be done by Airstream………..back to the RV Park for one more night….

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-16---20-christiansburg-virginia Wed, 28 Jun 2023 03:08:51 GMT
June 14 - 16 Dublin, Virginia https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-14---16-dublin-virginia Claytor Lake State Park
We have such a renewed appreciation for the hard-working farmers who grow the food
needed to feed a hungry nation. The vast fields and crops, now just beginning to sprout,
are awe-inspiring.

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The lightning bugs are out! The past couple of weeks we’ve begun to see them all over the
place. I think we can all remember as kids (if you lived in an area that had them), catching
them in a jar, poking a hole in the top, and watching their little bodies light up…..
As we’ve moved eastward, we are seeing more deer and beautiful woodpeckers. It’s also
bear country so there are plenty of warnings out and about. The grasses are full of bunnies bouncing thru the woods and the night sky stars?

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Wow – most of the parks we’ve been in
should be designated as Dark Sky Parks. The stars look as if you could reach out and grab
them…..
Claytor Lake is no exception to the beautiful places we’ve laid our heads at night!!
This area is close to our hearts as both of our kids graduated from college in the area. Our
son went to Virginia Tech and our daughter went to Radford University. We spent a day
playing tourist at both places. We had lunch at one of our favorites – Macado’s. Oh so
good!!

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We have been enjoying all the beautiful Magnolia trees now in bloom.

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-14---16-dublin-virginia Mon, 19 Jun 2023 00:07:27 GMT
June 12 - 14 Appomattox, Virginia https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-12---14-appomattox-virginia Holliday Lake State Park

It can’t be beautiful and sunny every day. Today was driving in the rain and fog with white knuckles, as we drove up into the mountains. Every day is a new adventure!!

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Visiting another beautiful state park. I know – peat and repeat – LOL!! But…this is why we try to stay at them. Nice lake with a small beach and many other amenities.

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Being in the heart of Civil War history country, we went to the National Historical Park. Mike loving history, was in his element. It was pretty neat to see the “McLean House” and other buildings restored with reenactors. Many of the restored buildings included artifacts and stories from the surrender signing ending the civil war.

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We had lunch at a local place called Granny Bee’s – recommended by one of the Park Rangers. It was a cute home town cookin kinda place. Yummy! We poked our heads into a couple of the local shops before heading to the American Civil War Museum. It was chock full of more history and artifacts. A really nice exhibit from students at Virginia Tech and the museum, chronicling stories from freed slaves after the war ended.

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-12---14-appomattox-virginia Sun, 18 Jun 2023 01:43:38 GMT
June 9 - 12 New Market, Virginia https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-9---12-new-market-virginia Endless Caverns RV Park

The Virginia countryside is simply stunning!  When we lived in Northern Virginia, we frequented the country a lot.  Now that we are seeing it in a different light by living in our home on wheels, we cherish every moment – life is short – and this area is just gorgeous.  The Blue Ridge and the Alleghany mountains is quite the site, especially on a clear day. 

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The RV Park is home to the Endless Caverns.  Instead of having a “timed” entry and limited time to enjoy, we chose to go to Luray Caverns.  It had been many years since we had been there, and they didn’t disappoint.  There were several small museums there, one being a Car and Carriage Museum.  My oh my were there some beautiful automobiles!!!  We poked around the little town and had lunch at one of the only places open (it’s a very SMALL town).

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We found lots to do at the RV Park.  We dipped our toes in the swimming pool.  We hiked up to the Endless Caverns sign from our camp site.  Once at the top – wowzer – the views are stunning to say the least!!  We poked around the quaint little historical town of New Market where we found the General Store to be quite popular.  We had dinner at the Southern Kitchen where we had heard they had THE BEST fried chicken.  Well…..we scarfed it all down – LOL!!

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We celebrated our 40th Anniversary while there.  We enjoyed steaks outside, with beautiful weather and a couple of spirits in hand. 

 

 

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/june-9---12-new-market-virginia Sun, 18 Jun 2023 00:10:57 GMT
May 26 – June 9 Ashburn, Virginia https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/may-26-june-9-ashburn-virginia  

“Mooch docking” at Son-In-Laws Mothers driveway

Originally we were going to be camping at a super neat place called Lake Fairfax in Reston,Virginia, near where we used to live when we were in the area many years ago. However, our son-in-law’s Mom offered part of her driveway for us to park The Sandman in, while staying in Northern Virginia. Okay – perfect! Saved us some $$ which we very much appreciated. Our daughter offered for us to stay at her house in Ashburn, Virginia instead. Our son and his family, live nearby so it was the best of both worlds!

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Two main reasons for our trip to Virginia from our starting point in So Cal were: we hadn’t seen our family in a while and after 18 months of waiting for a full military honors burial for Donna’s father at Arlington National Cemetery, the date was finally been set for Friday June 2 nd . Mike’s brother Steve flew in from the San Francisco area and our bestie Jonathan Harry flew in from Huntington Beach, CA. Many other friends of the family and military acquaintances came from different places to be with us. The day was beautiful………..

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We enjoyed some sightseeing – showing Steve and Jon around the area. It had been many years since Steve had been to the DC area and Jon had never been. We took them out to see our home in Harpers Ferry, spent some time at local breweries/wineries and had fun going to our old stomping grounds!!!

Family time is precious to us. Our kids and grands are the bestest!! It’s always bitter sweet when it’s time to go. But………we’ll be back for Christmas!!!

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/may-26-june-9-ashburn-virginia Thu, 15 Jun 2023 02:09:47 GMT
May 16 - 26 Harpers Ferry, West Virginia https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/may-16---26-harpers-ferry-west-virginia KOA Harpers Ferry

Can we just say that the weather God’s have been great to us? Oh yeah – beauuuuutiful drive from Elkins to Harpers Ferry! Can we say how excited we were to finally arrive????

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Not that the KOA was anything special. Some of you know that we bought 5 acres with a house/pool last year in Harpers Ferry – did some renovations and then rented it out while we’re on the road. And………..it is very close to our kids and grands that live in Northern Virginia. Whoo Hoo!!!

We did lots of visiting with the family and a few friends. All were excited to FINALLY see our Airstream – The Sandman. We hooked up with the renters of our house – they invited us over for a yummy steak dinner one night. We’ll admit – it did feel kinda strange to have dinner in OUR dining room with someone else living there. However over the course of the last 6 months, we’ve become pretty good friends with them. We saw them several other times while in the area. We are VERY lucky to have found such a great couple to live in our home they treat it like their own.

 

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[email protected] (Michael J Kacmarcik) https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/may-16---26-harpers-ferry-west-virginia Tue, 13 Jun 2023 02:35:29 GMT
May 14 - 16  Elkins, West Virginia https://www.kaz.photography/blog/2023/6/may-14---16-elkins-west-virginia Pegasus Farms Campground

Deep in the Alleghany Mountains lies the quaint old town of Elkins.  It’s very close to a very popular ski area called Snowshoe Mountain Resort.  Also close to Seneca Rocks (beautiful rock formations lunging out of the mountains) and Blackwater Falls.  If you’ve never been to this part of the country, it’s simply………..breathtaking everywhere. 

Upon getting close to our campground, we encountered once again, beautiful but narrow back roads.  “Oh look – there are now 10 vehicles backed up behind us”.  Well – it is what it is LOL!!!  Pass us when you can! The road to get into the campground portion of the property was a little nerve racking.  We…..just……fit……whew!!

 

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We stayed at a family-owned campground.  The owners were the sweetest people ever!  Getting up in age, they told us they had just sold the entire place – the campground, their house on the property, and everything in it Off they go soon to Italy.  It was nice and quiet but close enough to go out exploring the area for a day. One corner of the property was a cemetery with gravestones dating back to the Revolutionary war. 

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