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The Winter's Trek of '09-'10

 16 Nov 09: About a month ago we had a couple of little dustings of snow, enough to make us eager to get of Dodge. But thanks to various medical and dental issues, we weren't able to hit the road until Friday the 13th of November. We're especially excited about this winter's trek, for it's the first in our "new" 2005 Lazy Daze Rear Bath. Weight had always been an issue with the '02 FL on the lighter E-350 chassis, so it's great not to be worrying about that anymore. On the way out of town, we stopped to have it weighed and it came in nearly a thousand pounds under the max. No problem now with Liz bringing her big, heavy American Heritage dictionary along. winter0910-001 
 winter0910-003  Day One took us from home to our usual stop at Mahlon Dickerson Park in northern New Jersey. We fully expected to run into some significant rain from Storm Ida, but all we encountered was some occasional light mist in New York and New Jersey. On Saturday we once more expected rain as we headed further south, but again just a little mist now and then interspersed with a glimpse of blue sky. Our destination - the Navy Rec Center in Solomons, MD, just a few miles from our Chesapeake Bay home for 11 years. The days mileage of almost 300 miles was the longest planned leg of the trip and wore us out <G>, so we spent two nights at Solomons. Having lived near here, we knew where to go for Maryland crabcakes. We took a walk around Solomons Island, then enjoyed a little snack and drink overlooking the Patuxent River, watching the sunset from the comfort of the LD. I also took advantage of our lull in driving to learn how to use the roof-top satellite TV dish - wasn't too difficult at all. Today we moved on down the road to the Navy's campground at Cheatham Annex, just outside Williamsburg.

17 Nov 09: We departed Cheatham Annex this morning, traveling through one of the Hampton Roads tunnels to Route 17, our primary route all the way to Florida. We had to pause before the tunnel and have our LP inspected.....to make sure it was off. We were then soon into North Carolina, traveling through what is known as the Great Dismal Swamp.

The Dismal Swamp Canal is living history. Connecting the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia via the Elizabeth River and the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina via the Pasquotank River , this is the oldest continually operating man-made canal in the United States.

 
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This is an interesting bridge for crossing the canal. It's mounted on rollers and can be pushed across the water. I didn't see any source of power for it, so I don't know how one gets it across - it's obviously rather heavy. It is in use, however, for despite very recent rains, there were fresh tire tracks leading to the edge.

Our destination today: the Coast Guard Air Station in Elizabeth City NC.

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18 Nov 09: Further south in Greenville NC, we paused to drive by the house where we lived 35 years ago. Amazingly, it looks exactly the same.

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About a half mile from the house was WNCT-TV, where I worked as a meteorologist. What a schedule I had - shows at 7 AM, 8 AM, noon, 6 PM and 11PM, Mon - Fri.

 5 Dec 09: I'm afraid I've been a bit remiss is updating our winter's trek the past couple of weeks. Our pace slowed considerably and we've been simply relaxing and enjoying life. Since our last report, we've made stops at Neuseway Park in Kinston NC, Camp Lejeune NC, Huntington Beach SP SC, Fort McAllister SP GA, Kings Bay Sub Base GA and our current spot, Jacksonville Naval Air Station FL. We spent Thanksgiving week at Kings Bay and enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving Dinner with sailors at the chow hall.

 

Puddy-Tat, aka Shelby, loves life in the Lazy Daze!

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atalaya02   During our stop at Huntington Beach State Park, SC, we visited Atalaya Plantation, the winter home of Archer and Anne Huntington, the founders of Brookgreen Gardens, just across the highway from the state park. We took the self-guided tour through the home, which does not seem to be a very warm inviting place.
 15 Dec 09: A few days ago we arrived at one of our favorite places, Gamble Rogers SRA in Flagler Beach FL to spend a week with a dear old friend. We have spent many Christmases here and volunteered as campground hosts for 4 years. Despite having made our reservation last summer, we had to settle for site 20, across the road from the ocean and our friend Susan in her tan LD. Rather cool and wet most of the week here - not much sitting out.  gr52
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22 Dec 09: We back-tracked northward a bit to spend the holidays at Pelican Roost RV Park at the Mayport Naval Station.

 26 Dec 09: A former colleague in the Air National Guard, who lives in the Jacksonville area, invited me to go up to Savannah to visit the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum. Opened in 1996, the museum portrays the story of the brave men and women who formed the bomber force in Europe in WWII. Follow us as we tour the museum.

4 Jan 10: Happy New Year to all! Hope it's a healthy and happy year for each of you. We arrived at Mayport Naval Station near Jacksonville back on 20 Dec, and were fortunate to snag a front-row site right beside the ship channel. Over the past few days several ships left port on deployments and family members and friends came down to the riverside by the campground to wave farewell to their loved ones. I was so moved by this patriotic scene that, I had a tear in my eye as I snapped the picture.   nrb93
12 Jan 10: Our time at Mayport finally came to an end yesterday and it was time to take to the road once again. We headed south to Blue Spring State Park, an annual stop as we visit old friends who live nearby. Mr. N. was a forecaster at Pease AFB NH back in the 1960's when I was stationed there. At the age of 89 today, he's a marvel of good health and mind. Thanks to the unusually cold weather, there were MANY manatees at Blue Spring. Seeking warmth, they come up the St John's River into the spring's warm run - water coming from the spring is a constant 72 degrees. Yesterday when we arrived, the daily count was 244; a few days earlier, there had been a record number - 311.

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15 Jan 10: From Blue Spring State Park we headed across the state to Cedar Key, on the Gulf coast north of Tampa. We had last been here eight years ago, when we celebrated New Years Eve with some friends. Levy County operates a nice little campground a few miles from town, Shell Mound Park. Yesterday was a delightfully warm, sunny day, so we went into town for the day. Cedar Key is a touristy town, with some arts & crafts shops. Outside one was this large figure of a fisherman.

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On our walk around town, we came across some interesting sights. Above left: Hanging from a tree branch over a road was this tree troll. Above: A tree branch in danger of breaking has a pole sticking up from a flower pot to prop it up. Left: Eight years ago I took a picture of this; it's condition has deteriorated considerably since then. cedarkey05
winter0910-019 18 Jan 10: On into the Panhandle today. Lunch today was at the St Marks Lighthouse deep in the St Marks NWR. We've been here several times and always enjoy the watery wide-open spaces. Then on to Ochlockonee River State Park for a few days.
Our first couple of days at Ochlockonee were quite pleasant with lots of sun. But after seeing the impending weather, we decided to stay put another day, rather than drive in a deluge. We were mighty thankful for our decision, for we got about 6" of rain that day, doing a pretty thorough job of flooding the campground. The water rose over the edge of the fire-ring - some of the wood drifted out! ochlock42
winter0910-024 22 Jan 10: On our way to Tyndall AFB, we stopped for lunch at Battery Park & Marina in Apalachicola. After eating, we took some time for a walk around town. Still a working fishing town, it has also discovered tourism. One can find a number of restaurants and shops to browse and patronize.
Bet you could get a good deal on this little boat, sitting near the Apalachicola river-front. winter0910-026
shelby084 Puddy-Tat sure likes our sunny spot at Tyndall AFB.
23 Feb 10: I haven't very good at updating out travels lately....mainly because we haven't traveled much. On the 5th of February, we moved from Tyndall AFB to the Fort Benning Army Rec Center in Destin FL. This is a small resort sort of operation intended to provide a place for Fort Benning personnel to unwind. Besides the RV park, it also has cottages and apartments for rent. On Valentine's Day, the staff hosted a delicious prime rib dinner for us. We're "stuck" here for a spell thanks to some dental issues that arose. I had to have a root canal and am now awaiting a crown. We had thought of moving over to nearby Eglin AFB, but after visiting the two FAMCAMPs there, we decided we liked our spot here in Destin better. We're now scheduled to leave here on 7 March, destination uncertain. destin02
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25 Mar 10: Well, I survived my root canal and crown and we were able to leave Destin on the 7th of March. Headed west to the Navy's Blue Angel Recreation Area west of Pensacola for 9 days - very pleasant spot. From there we reluctantly aimed the LD northward, albeit at a very slow pace - what's the rush? Found a nice little county park, Lake Stone, in Century FL; from there it was over the state line into Alabama, with stops at Isaac Creek COE and now Millers Ferry COE. At long last, the weather is starting to show signs of warming up, but there still is plenty of dreary, soggy days. Definitely the coldest, wettest winter we've encountered in Florida.

Sunset at Millers Ferry COE, AL

2 Apr 10: After a few days at Foscue Creek COE in Demopolis AL, we continued northward to Moundville Archaeological Park, about 14 miles south of Tuscaloosa. This was once the largest city north of Mexico, about 800 years ago. The park is operated by the University of Alabama, and also has a small RV park where we spent the night. We had a run-in with the Moundville Postmistress who had returned some General Delivery mail shortly after receiving it, rather than holding it for the advertised 30 days; I filed a complaint with the Postal Service. Yesterday we covered another 85 miles northward to Clear Creek Recreation Area, northwest of Birmingham. moundville05
clecre34 4 Apr 10: While at Clear Creek Recreation Area, we enjoyed some pleasant hiking along the lake shore and up among the many small ravines that lead back from the water. 
7 Apr 10: A neat old truck and gas pumps at a former gas station now recycled as the Lynchburg TN Visitors Center. Lynchburg, of course, is home to the Jack Daniels distillery. winter0910-032

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Outside of Lynchburg we paused for lunch at a fire lookout tower. A sign said it was permissible to climb the tower, at one's own risk, so up we went. We really couldn't see much - surrounding trees were just about as high as the tower.

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8 Apr 10: After a night at Barton Springs TVA Rec Area, we continued our trek northeastward. Today's lunch stop was at a lookout as we were climbing up onto the Cumberland Plateau west of Crossville TN. The cascade of water was just across the highway.

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cumbmt43 9 Apr 10: We decided to spend the weekend at Cumberland Mountain State Park near Crossville TN. This was the tail end of Easter vacation week and campgrounds seemed to be pretty busy. It was an enjoyable weekend with some great spring weather, although a tad cool in the mornings - down to 37 this morning. The park has about 15 miles of hiking trails, so we enjoyed two lovely hikes while here.
18 Apr 10: We're slowly making progress northward. We spent most of last week at Persimmon Ridge City Park in Jonesborough TN awaiting some mail....which never arrived. But the park was pleasant, as was the weather, and we got some nice hiking in. On Friday we finally made it to Virginia, with a stop at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion. Then yesterday we continued on to Pulaski, where we found a real gem of a campground, Gatewood City Park, definitely worth a two-night stop. Boy, it's chilly once again - down to 34 this morning!

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Draper Valley Overlook, on road to Pulaski, VA

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19 Apr 10: Awoke to a rather chilly morning - 29 degrees. The cold air over the warmer water formed steam fog, which drifted across the lake on a gentle breeze. Shortly after sunrise it dissipated.

From here it was our usual stops for the last few nights before arriving home on 25 Apr.