Hello, it’s been a while! People are starting to reach out and ask where we’ve been. Our Airstream journey was planned as a six-month round trip per the first map above. Well….things didn’t go exactly as planned (understatement of the year!). The first problem came up when we hit an unexpected hail storm in New Mexico that did quite a bit of damage to our roof. But we soldiered on, it was more cosmetic than structural. Fast forward from stop number 4 to stop number 10 (Savannah, GA) and we ran into a tropical storm that destroyed our awning. That sucked. But again, we soldiered on as originally planned all the way to Niagara Falls, NY. This is where things started to go off the rails as far as planning.
Revision number one was to take the Airstream to the factory in Jackson Center, OH for repairs instead of heading westward. This was initially estimated to be a 5 to 6 week process, but some insurance delays extended it. The next change came when we decided to go back to Charleston, SC while the Airstream was being fixed instead of hanging out in OH. But the biggest departure of all was that we fell in love with Charleston and decided to stay and buy a house!
Props to our real estate agent, Jennifer Pate at Carolina One. She made this happen and it happened fast. We found our house the first day of our search, made an offer, entered escrow and 2 weeks later we closed. I have been furniture shopping like an insane banshee – its been fun! We move in on Labor Day and are so excited to start our new journey here in Charleston, SC. This is the closest we have ever lived to the water, located on a large private lot, the house is beautiful inside and out, and there is so much history and culture to explore. So, how crazy are we? Just the right amount of crazy.🤪😜
YAY! Our friends Maureen and Ben flew up to visit us in Niagara Falls 🙂
We were so excited to meet up with our good friends Maureen and Ben in Niagara Falls, NY. It was a first visit for all of us, except Joel visited with his family when he was 5. Wow, what an awe inspiring sight it is to see Niagara Falls. We took the Maids of the Mist boat tour right up to the edge of the falls, we were rocking and rolling from the pounding water and got nice and wet from the mist. There was a thunderous roar and you could feel the powerful force of nature as water crashed over the edge of the falls. It’s hard to believe that this amount of water can completely freeze in winter….brrrr!
The history of Old Fort Niagara spans more than 300 years. During the colonial wars in North America, a fort at the mouth of the Niagara River was vital, for it controlled access to the Great Lakes and the westward route to the heartland of the continent. With the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, the strategic value of Fort Niagara diminished. However, it remained an active military post well into the 20th century. France, Britain and the US all had turns controlling Fort Niagara. The French built the French Castle pictured above and inside shots below. The timbers on the floor of the third story are all hand pegged. This Fort features live actors that recreate life at the fort in detail from cooking authentic 18th century food, silversmiths hand forging jewelry and other items, and live demonstrations of cannon and musket firings.
Historic Botanical Gardens
We took a daytrip to Buffalo and visited a Botanical Garden that first opened in 1900. This is a national historic site, education center and tourist destination full of exotic horticulture treasures from around the world. They are separated into various “rooms” through passageways and each features either a specific region or type of plant. Fountains, waterfalls, a Japanese pagoda, orchids, and all sorts of flowers, plants, and trees fill every corner. They also host weddings and special events – what an amazing place to be wed.
We stayed at an apple farm!
Many of you may be familiar with Harvest Hosts, a membership that allows you to stay at wineries, farms, museums and other unique locations. We have stayed at a few Harvest Host sites earlier in our trip, but I was excited about staying at this apple farm in NY. First, they had a lot of great reviews and second, they make apple cider donuts fresh every day – what’s not to love about that?!? When we arrived after a long drive, I let the dogs out and Belle just went crazy running all over the grassy field and rolling around like a puppy. In addition to the donuts, they had a farm store where we bought fresh picked corn on the cob, a huge bouquet of sunflowers and beautiful, plump tomatoes.
We are spending the next week traveling from Tennessee through Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania until we arrive in Niagara Falls, NY, It is beautiful, but tough driving. A lot of single lane roads with no shoulder that twist and turn as we travel across mountain ranges. It can be pretty nail biting when logging trucks come barreling past like they are in try-outs for the Indy 500. We had just such a drive, 240 long miles from Kentucky to West Virginia. A real interstate freeway never looked so good!
Carter Caves, KY
More caves! Apparently Kentucky is filled with them. We camped at this State Park and it was beautiful, peaceful and full of friendly fellow tourists. This was a narrow cave winding through the Kentucky mountains, there are 3 different cave tours, but was just did the largest. Our grizzly Adams look-a-like guide had the cutest backwoods accent and made the most of it playing up the “hick” card (hey, they work for tips). I sure wish I had a 20-something niece to set him up with, he would be a fun addition to the family 🙂
The campground had so many activities – – swimming, horseback riding, hiking, cave tours, kayaking, and this super cute miniature put-put golf course. The props for the golf course included a perfect doggie-sized covered wagon, log home, a little trailer, etc., so I made the pups pose (they were less than thrilled about this). Also, I cannot forget to mention there were FIREFLIES!!! Yes, real fireflies that would spring up from the ground and light up as they shot up into the air. It was the coolest thing ever to watch. It made the forest look enchanted with firefly lights blinking on and off throughout the woods.
Cass, West Virginia
So this is one of my favorite things we have done so far on this trip – a 1900s steam engine trip through the West Virginia mountains. It was a 4 hour round trip, where we climbed from 2,000 to 4,800 feet, at times as steep as a 9% uphill grade. The trip included a “hobo” lunch, the fascinating workings of an old coal operated steam engine – it took 4,000 lbs of coal to make the trip up and back and one guy shoveled all of it. We had to stop along the way to grease the engine and reload water. Cass is an old logging town and this train was used in the logging operations from the early 1900s up until the 1960s. One thing about visiting this place, it is RURAL!! No cell signal whatsoever, no WIFI, you are data-less! We stayed at Whittaker Campground, which was deep in the woods, next to a farm with highland bulls right behind our Airstream.
The sound of the train horn was a bit haunting….
2021 International Airstream Rally!
We pulled into the 64th Annual International Airstream Rally and it was a site to behold 800+ Airstreams lined up in a huge field in Lebanon, TN (about 30 min. outside Nashville). The location was at the Lebanon Fairgrounds which is a sprawling 70 acre complex of open fields (with hook ups~!), pole barns, and a historic village called “Fiddler’s Grove” which features a blacksmith shop where we watched them teaching 18th century blacksmithing.
As the Club President for San Diego, I participated in Opening Ceremonies, carrying our Club flag. It was fun and we met so many great new people. Having the common bond of our shared love of Airstream, it was a good time hanging out, going to dinner, and swapping “war stories” (word got around quick about our hail damage, every Airstreamer’s nightmare). We had a swap meet the last day where you could find all sorts of Airstream bling and hard to find parts for our vintage friends. So with all this love fest going on, there actually was some drama.
First, we had the coolest neighbors, Ty and Amy (love these guys!) and Ty is the quintessential nice guy, helping Joel with putting air in our trailer tires (he’s never checked them this entire trip – – they were 20 lbs low each—-arrrgghhhh!). But there was this elderly couple in the row directly in front of us and honestly, I thought the man may have been suffering from some early-stage dementia because earlier he was walking by our trailer angrily talking with no one else around and it didn’t seem like he knew where he was going, kind of wandering. Later that evening, I hear a woman screaming “STOP, STOP, STOP” I thought she was being attacked. I wasn’t feeling well and was already in my jammies, so of course I shoved Joel out the door to see what was going on to help.
Screaming continued and it also sounded like fighting, so now I had to poke my head out to see what was going on. Apparently, the old guy was very drunk and when his dog ran out his trailer door when his wife opened it, he went after it lifting it completely off the ground by its neck (full grown lab/retriever mix). Wife is screaming for him to stop and Ty, who caught the dog as it was running by and had given him back to the guy, was telling him, “hey, you don’t need to do that, our dogs do the same thing, it’s okay.” But the old guy just got angry and started swinging at Ty (keep in mind he is very drunk), got a hold of Ty’s t-shirt ripping it off of him as they fell to the ground. Now when you mess with one guy in the trailer park – you mess with the WHOLE trailer park so everyone is coming out now and we are all also animal lovers and would never tolerate any sort of cruelty. Verbal escalations ensued, the cops were called. Ty didn’t press charges and just had the incident documented. But seriously, that guy was messed up, couldn’t walk without falling over and we were all on alert the rest of the evening, luckily, seems he must have just passed out.
We made a couple of day-trips into Nashville to site see and hang out. They have the BEST shopping! Also, great restaurants since this is a tourist town. An interesting option was this restaurant called Aquarium, the whole restaurant was giant floor to ceiling aquariums and you could watch the fish swim around while you eat their friends (not really, you don’t eat aquarium fish :-).
Charleston – Love It!
Hello, sorry it has been awhile since I’ve posted. Unfortunately, my head cold turned into a chest cold, that turned into an upper respiratory infection, that turned into an “extreme immune response” that turned into a 5 am ER visit. Thankfully, I received great medical care and am finally starting to feel better. It’s always something…
Anyway, now to one of my favorite parts of the trip so far – – Charleston, SC! We love this place!!! It is so pretty, filled with history, culture, ahhhhmazing restaurants, and so much to do and see. We could not fit it all into the 6 days we were there, but we’ll be back. Because, (bomb drop) we are seriously considering moving there – yes, moving as in buying a home. It is affordable, the people are so friendly, the homes and the whole area is beautiful and we can just picture our life here. I could go into a huge list of considerations, but won’t bore you with all that. It will be really hard living so far from our fiends and family, and maybe this isn’t a forever move, we’ll have to see how it all works out.
This restaurant is so special, it deserves a mention here. Housed in an 18th century mansion, we found this place on Yelp and with 5 star reviews, had to give it a try. What Yelp didn’t mention is that they are reservation only because they book up – quick. We arrived upon opening at 5 pm and when I told the maitre’d that we were only in town a few days and that I write a travel blog, he found us a spot at the bar – we’ll take it! The bar staff was chatty and informative and provided a lot of information on the history of the house. For one thing, it is haunted. I asked if he believed in that sort of thing and he said that the kitchen staff has told him stories that can’t be explained. So, maybe? They have retained a lot of the original fixtures and some furnishings. It is beautiful and has an oh-so-southern vibe to it. Then there is the food – OMG!! So good. Joel and I both ordered the fried chicken dinners because that is what they are known for out here and it did not disappoint. Their mac and cheese is award wining and you will taste why. I told the bartender they should rename it “slap yo mama mac and cheese” because my mom’s homemade mac and cheese couldn’t hold a candle to it. Joel went traditional with the fried collard greens and I am like UH UH. No way. Anyone who knows me knows I am not touching a fried collard green. First, it’s a vegetable, a green one and looks gross. I got the mashed potatoes and Joel was so jealous because guess what, fried collard greens aren’t so special after all…..hmmmm.
The USS YORKTOWN battleship pictured above is docked at Patriot’s Point as part of a large maritime museum featuring a fleet of historic ships, Cold War Memorial and Vietnam Experience exhibit. We only visited the exterior of this museum because we took the water taxi tour around Charleston Bay, had lunch at a great waterfront restaurant and didn’t have much time left before we had to get back to the Airstream to feed the dogs. However, I did want to give this a mention because the YORKTOWN fought in both WWII, Korea and Vietnam. My Grandfather was a Naval Officer and served in both WWII and the Korean War and my Dad was also in the Navy serving in Vietnam, so this held some extra interest for me personally. This ship has been through a lot! Impressively, in WWII while fighting the Japanese, the ship survived 7 kamikaze plane strikes and multiple bombs, one of which passed through the first deck and exploded near the ship’s hull. It punched two large holes through her side, but she remained operational and continued to provide air cover until Japan’s surrender on September 2, 1945.
As I mentioned, this place is not only beautiful, very green with flowers and trees everywhere, but if feels like a vibrant happening place. There were a lot of tourists! We visited the City Market which is an indoor/outdoor market with all sorts of wares from women hand weaving baskets, jewelry, food specialties, to southern biscuits baking in the oven – the smell is so unfair! It’s a great place to pick up one-of-a-kind treasures.
Harken French Café and Bakery
The Harken Café is located in the French Quarter and we stopped in for coffee/tea bakery treats for breakfast one morning. The place is so cute and I felt transported to France by the historic interior and French décor. It was packed and we were lucky to get a seat, the place is pretty small. Joel had the 7 layer bar (he said it was better than mine, but hey, these guys are professionals!) and I had the blueberry pie cookie. It was unlike any cookie I have had before because there really was a blueberry pie filling taste tucked inside a molasses cookie. You will note both our plates are empty before I could get a pic – we’ll be back!!!
James Island State Park
We stayed at a State Park on James Island. It is a HUGE park with miles of paved trails that wind in and out of forests, play ground areas, a story land, a water park, game fields and the RV park. It was fun to ride our scooters and easy to get lost with all the crisscrossing paths. At one point we found ourselves at a long dock with a water inlet from Charleston Bay. While we were hanging out on the dock a small pod of dolphins ventured their way down the inlet to feed. They were so graceful as they glided through the water leaping up for air so we could enjoy the show.
It is July and it is warm, dare I say hot. So yes, I took advantage of an afternoon at the on-site water park. I love floating down the lazy river and didn’t go down the waterslides, but enjoyed watching the kids have a good time on them. People are so friendly, hardly a person will walk by without saying hi and if they are next to you, will strike up a conversation.
Lazy river, I miss you already…
Okay, so this happened….
I am just going to get this one out of the way…ugghh, our awning collapsed during a flash rainstorm the day after tropical storm Elsa came through. We thought we made it through the storm with just some branches blown onto the roof, the next day it was sunny and clear so we put the awning out. That evening, a flash rainstorm came through dumping a ton of water in a very short period of time. The awning is a total loss and Airstream informed us that the replacement cost is around $7k. Sucks, but we’ve added it to the (ever growing) repair list so let’s move on before I start getting too depressed.
We are either in a tropical rainforest in Africa or Skidaway Island in Georgia, not sure which.
Welcome to Skidaway Island near Savannah, GA. It’s gorgeous, lush and super quiet, all you hear are the sounds of cicadas singing in the trees at night. The thunderstorms have kept us inside most of the day watching movies. I tortured Joel with a chick flick day and we watched Gone with the Wind – the whole 4 hours 🍿 pass the popcorn! “As God is my witness, I will never starve again!” Then we had chili dogs, which were soooo good because I made the chili from scratch, used premium hotdogs and these wonderfully soft brioche buns. Not sure if beans are a good idea in the trailer, but we’re living dangerously.
OMG!!! The JW Marriott located along the riverfront in downtown Savannah is so amazing, you must see it to believe it. Above, you can see the 135 foot silver dinosaur skeleton that hangs from the glass ceiling. Originally built in 1912 as a power plant, the building maintains its historic architecture with original red brick walls and huge roof scaffolding, but modernized with glass and steel and the largest collection of giant geodes I have seen outside of a museum. The walls are covered with them, they are artfully displayed throughout the lobby and they even sell some very unique pieces in the hotel gift shop. The stunning lobby was a godsend as a relief from the heat and humidity outside and there were comfy leather chairs to sit back and rest those tired tourist tootsies. Love this place and wish we could move our Airstream into the lobby (it would fit, seriously) and stay.
Oooooh Ghosts 👻
There’s nothing like an 18th century cemetery smack in the middle of town to remind you of your mortality. Most of the gravestones were so old you could not read them, but the City provides plaques throughout the cemetery to provide context. The biggest problem was being eaten alive by bugs while we were perusing the grounds, Joel actually had one bite on his leg that was bleeding. Give them some grass – and the bugs go crazy. I am still trying to find something that actually works on the itching. Yes, I’ve tried bug spray (the smell is so awful), lotions, potions, hydrocortisone creams, etc. What works best so far is a wet cloth soaked in lavender Epsom salt applied over the bites, and it smell really nice too. Maybe the graveyard ghosts were having the bugs attack us…hmmmm.
Fort Wilderness Campground
Howdy folks, Mickey here stopping by Sharon’s blog to say welcome back! It’s been 5 years since we last saw Sharon and Joel at Fort Wilderness and boy oh boy have we missed them (and their Visa card). Welcome back, and oh, don’t forget to activate those “magic” bands that automatically link Mickey to your bank account – yipee!
Thanks Mickey. Yep, we’re baaaack! This time we decided to see just how fast Mickey can drain our wallet so we are staying 12 days. We really do enjoy Fort Wilderness, it is an ideal campground. it’s very quiet with a nice woodsy feel and lots of wildlife (more on that below), super clean, no long term campers (they offer no discounts based on how long you stay), it is spotlessly clean – – even the restrooms, and customer service is outstanding. We have tickets to two parks this time around – Disney World and Disney Hollywood Studios (where they keep Star Wars in Florida).
There is so much wildlife to be found here – to name a few that we personally encountered: an armadillo, deer, wild turkeys and their chicks walking through our campsite, squirrels, a variety of birds including a vulture that would stroll down the middle of the road, and the most beautiful red cardinals.
We are super excited to be visiting Star Wars land at Disney Hollywood Studios. Luckily, we were able to win a lottery of sorts to go on the best ride EVER – – Rise of the Resistance. It was so fun and unlike any other ride we have been on. The above pic are storm troopers that took our group of resistance fighters captive, they have live action actors that interact with you and you are thrown in prison, escape, board a star fighter and crash land. It’s hard to describe all the action and you are sometimes standing, sometimes being herded through an escape hole lasered into the wall, all sorts of craziness. When we got off this ride a real storm had just rolled in and it was pouring rain, thunder and lightening which somehow made our crash landing a little more realistic.
We were also able to get into the Star Wars bar, which was something else. They have all sorts of the most unusual drink and food concoctions. I think I may have actually eaten SPAM, not sure the lighting was low and most of the “food” items were unidentifiable.
All I can say is this is not the place to start a new diet….
Good night, sweet Disney dreams!!
Florida Gulf Coast – a day in Destin
We headed 20 minutes down the road from our campsite in Navarre to Destin, FL. It is a happening beach town, packed with tourists and boats. There was so much going on – – you could parasail, bungy jump, rent a boat, go sportfishing, shopping, carnival rides, or throw an ax! It was fun and exciting to be around so much activity, everyone having a good time, it felt like normal life again. We walked up and down the boardwalk taking in all the activity and trying to figure out which restaurant to dine in, they all looked so good! We ended up at Harry T’s Lighthouse and it was definitely the best choice. Where else can you find fresh crab cakes served atop a fried green tomato (which were actually yellow as you can see in the pic), topped with a slightly spicy remoulade sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Joel said his grilled chicken stack sandwich was the best he has ever eaten. We shared an appetizer of hush puppies (a fried sweet onion dough ball), a Southern staple that Joel has never tried before – he liked them!
We were pretty excited about staying at an ocean front RV park, the first of this trip. We have never stayed on the Gulf Coast or the Florida panhandle before. The water was crystal clear blue, 84 degrees and the sand was a fine sugar white. We were lucky to get two sunny days in a row, the first we spent in Destin, the second at the beach in Navarre. There was a consistent ocean breeze that helped keep us a bit cooler than the 90 degree day would have otherwise been. However, once you leave the beach, all bets are off – ha ha!
As far as the RV Park goes, it was a bit of a disappointment. At first blush it looked wonderful with a thick forest of various trees on white gravel roads and we were given a nice wide spot near the community campfire. The downside was (1) we reserved a “premium water view” space, however, we had no water view at all, (2) the bathrooms were not cleaned regularly, so if you are full of sand after a day at the beach, it was not the place to go to shower off, and (3) there was a horrible sewer smell that intermittently overwhelmed our site. Yeah, not what we were hoping for, but all the more disappointing because the place had so much potential given the beachfront location and lush tropical surroundings.
A severe tropical storm heading up from Mexico straight for the Gulf Coast chased us out of Navarre a day early. The forecast called for strong winds, heavy rain, flooding and storm surge. With signs of previous storm damage all around – there wasn’t a single dock that was intact up or down the beach – so we decided to head out and went to our next location early. We’ll probably see some rain from this storm, but will avoid the worst of the high winds, flooding and storm surge. Take care everyone! ❤
We stayed at a Horse Farm!!
The beach shot above was taken a short 10 minute drive from a 32 acre horse farm, Green Woods Stables in Biloxi, MS. Gulfport and Biloxi are next to each other and there is a long stretch of beach that connects the two. Sugar white sand and oh-so-warm gulf coast water. It was heaven and I loved every minute of it. Our 3 day, 2 night stay was too short!!
It was such a pleasure meeting Mary, the lovely lady who owns the horse farm, complete with a mini-campground (9 full hook up sites) that back up to acres of emerald green pasture. The farm is 32 acres, half of which she keeps fully manicured and in addition to the small campground, there is a farm house Airbnb. Mary runs it all and I spent a morning with her in the barn as she cared for her 4 gentle, sweet horses. I have been around horses in the past, but none as sweet and people-friendly as Mary’s babies. I fell in love with the farm, the horses, the relaxing and peaceful campground. Other than the dead end road that leads you to the farm, there are no other roads around (and therefore no road noise), the only sound was cicadas singing us to sleep at night. Ahhh, can I stay forever????