Monday, January 6, 2020

November 3 to December 31, 2019

We spent 8 days at Ocean Pond, a campground in the Osceola National Forest.  The campground does not accept reservations.  It has to two loops: one with water but no power and one with water and power. 
When we arrived there were no powered sites available but we were lucky enough to snap a site on the non-powered loop.

The following morning, Monte drove the powered loop and when he saw a camper packing up he parked nearby and was able to grab the site as soon as the camper departed.

The campground is lovely and as a bonus only we enjoyed a discount with our Senior National Parks pass.

While we were at the campground we mostly relaxed. 
It was cold enough every day for a campfire. 
We did take a drive to nearby Olustee Battlefield.

The park commemorates the site of Florida’s largest Civil War battle, which took place in February, 1864 when more than 10,000 cavalry, infantry and artillery troops fought a five-hour battle in a pine forest near Olustee.
The battle ended with 2,807 casualties and the retreat of Union troops to Jacksonville until the war’s end 14 months later.

The battlefield became the state’s first historic site.

In the small Visitor Center we watched a short video depicting a reenactment. 

A yearly reenactment occurs in February with period costumed actors.
We would have loved to stay longer at Ocean Pond Campground but we had reservations beginning on the 12th at the campground at Salt Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest. 
We realized when we arrived at the campground that reservations would not have been necessary as there were several sites available. 

On our second day at the campground we decided to take a ride around the loop when we were pleasantly surprised to discover two fellow work camping couples that we spend the winter with at Lake Manatee State Park were camping at Salt Springs.

We enjoyed their company for a few campfires and a dinner out at Bass Champions Restaurant.
During out stay at Salt Springs we took hikes, made a grocery run to Wal-Mart and walked down to the springs.
When we arrived back at Lake Manatee State Park on November 22, we began a whirlwind of activity including enjoying Thanksgiving at Manasota Beach, an early surprise anniversary party for my parents, doctor appointment and of course work assignments.

Mom and Dad early surprise Anniversary party 
My daughter Renee and twin granddaughters
During December we attended several parties, enjoyed a visit from my daughter and granddaughters who live in Arizona, hosted a family get together at Lake Manatee State Park and Monte had carpal tunnel surgery on his right hand.
My sister-in-law gifted me with a beautiful quilt for Christmas.
 On New Year’s Eve we attended a potluck at our volunteer village where we stayed up to ring in the New Year.


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

September 24 to November 2, 2019

Virginia through the Carolinas and a short stay in Georgia

Longwood Park is a Corp of Engineer Campground located on John H. Kerr Reservoir, a 50,000-acre lake in Clarksville, VA.
After our whirlwind stay in Maryland with several trips into Washington D.C. it was nice to just spend a week relaxing and taking walks.
The first park we stayed at after entering North Carolina was Rolling View Campground, part of Falls Lake State Recreation Area in Durham. 
We found a beautiful spot in the B Loop.  We spent our nine day stay taking bike rides, walks and sitting around a campfire as the temps dipped into the 40s.
Other than grocery shopping and doing laundry we only made one excursion. 
 Bennett Place was the site of the last surrender of a major Confederate army in the American Civil War. 

Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Union General William T. Sherman met under a flag of truce in April 1865 to discuss a peaceful solution to the Civil War.
Meeting midway between their lines on the Hillsborough Road they sat down together at a simple farmhouse.
The generals, on three separate occasions, struggled to come to mutually agreeable surrender terms at the home of James and Nancy Bennett.
During the first meeting on April 17, Sherman showed Johnston a telegram announcing the assassination of President Lincoln.  They failed to come to an agreement.
The following day they met again.  Sherman submitted an agreement that proved for an armistice that disbanded armies following the depositing weapons in state arsenals and the restoration of political and civil rights and a general amnesty.
Jefferson Davis approved these terms but the Union rejected them because of the hostilities following Lincoln’s assassination.
Grant instructed Sherman to renegotiate more stringent terms.  Despite the opposition of Davis to the new terms, General Johnston not wanting to prolong the war, disobeyed orders and met with Sherman again.
The final agreement was simply a military surrender which ended the war in the Carolinas.
At Jordan Lake State Recreation Area we chose site 157 in the section that is first come first served. 
The sites in this campground are large with long pads, picnic tables and fire pits. 

During our stay we hiked the Seaforth Trail located in the Recreation Area across the highway from the campground.
One day we went into town and hiked the trail at Town Lake Park followed by pizza at Elizabeth’s, a local favorite Italian restaurant.
The final campground we stayed at in North Carolina was one of our favorites. 
The campground at Jones Lake State Park in Elizabethtown had been closed for a while for renovations.
  It had only opened up four days prior to our arrival with a brand new bathhouse, newly grated pads and new power boxes. 
After arriving and seeing how beautiful the campground was we realized how lucky we were to have been able to reserve a week at the campground.  Of the twenty sites there are only six that have power (50AMP, water and sewer).

We enjoyed a couple of hikes during our stay in the area. 
The first hike had access from the campground.

For the second hike we drove a short distance to town to Tory Hole Park.
One day we explored Moores Creek National Battlefield Park in the town of Currie.
In 1776, Loyalist forces charged across a partially dismantled Moores Creek Bridge. 
Beyond the bridge, nearly 1,000 Patriots waited quietly with cannons and muskets. 
This battle marked the last broadsword charge by Scottish Highlanders and the first significant victory for the Patriots in the American Revolution.
Crossing into South Carolina we stayed at Santee State Park.
  This park was a disappointment after our stay at Jones Lake State Park. 
 Santee is an older park with very dated bathhouses.

The site was dirt and then mud after a heavy rain.  Our only excursion while staying in Santee was to Congaree National Park. 
This was our second visit to this park. (First visit was back in May 2017) 
We began our hike on the boardwalk trail and then detoured to the Weston Lake Loop Trail where we encountered three different kinds of snakes.

I was walking ahead of Monte when I heard him say, “Whatever you do, do not stop.”  So naturally I stopped.  When I looked down I noticed the snake a couple of feet away from where I was standing.

It was sunning itself and thankfully didn’t pay any attention to me.  Monte thought it looked like a Cottonmouth.

The second snake we encountered went across the path directly in front of us and the third snake moved across the path too quickly for us to get a picture.

After leaving Santee State Park we headed to Hardeeville where we planned on staying at a campground we had stayed at back in 2014 that accepted our Passport America membership.  I had called earlier in the week to verify that they were still in the plan.  There was no answer but I left a message requesting someone get back to me.  No one did but we took a chance and traveled the 165 miles to the park. 

When we arrived we were informed that no longer have overnight sites and only rent out sites on a monthly basis.

We ended up finding a spot some 50 miles away in Hinesville, GA at Happy Campers RV Park. 

During that long weekend we grocery shopped, ate at Cook Out-a new restaurant to us, and visited the ITPA National Office & Telephone Museum. 
The museum is housed in the former family home of Glenn E. and Trudie Bryant. 
 Mr. Bryant was a pioneer in the telephone industry.  The property was donated to the family foundation. 

The museum consists of a vast collection of telephones and telephone equipment.

When we tell people we encounter that we live in our RV full time and travel 6-8 months of the year (work camping through the winter) the questions we usually are asked is where is our favorite place and what is our favorite thing to do.  That is a difficult question to answer as we like it all—cities, rural areas, forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, deserts.  We like taking hikes, bike riding, visiting National Parks, museums and historic sites.

We usually get one of two responses-I would love to do that but my wife/husband/partner would never give up the house or leave the grandkids or you people are crazy because I could never spend 24/7 with my wife/husband/partner to live in a tin can.

Monte and I usually just look at each other and smile because we couldn’t imagine not living this nomadic life. 
While we are looking forward to returning to Florida for the winter to visit family and friends, work alongside our fellow work-campers and schedule doctor visits we are already looking forward to see where the road takes us next spring.