Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day

Memorial Day.  We did.  To all who have given the ultimate sacrifice, you are not forgotten, nor are your families.  To all those who are serving, thank you for your sacrifice, as well as your families.  To all our LEO, FD and EMS personnel in this country, thank you.  Our prayers are with you.  It is overwhelming to think how much our freedom has cost us.  We live in a great land.  God bless America. 

Campground Chat

It is interesting to compare campgrounds.  I am new to RVing, having tent camped in my previous life.  I am still, and will be for a while, re-formulating my impressions and preferences with regard to campgrounds.  Photos are above the stated RV Park.

Pecan Park RV Resort, Jacksonville FL.  PA, $21/nt.  Nice place, recommended, designed for the RVing folks on the move.  Clean, well maintain, spacious enough if not a little 'sterile' in style.  Long rows of concrete pads, perfectly sectioned, just off the interstate and near an airport.  Not a perfectly quiet place, but not a bother either.  Has all the essentials, and in bad weather, the place would be preferred being all paved and easy to keep stuff clean. Easy access to shopping and anything of interest in the area; nature, museums, city life, cruise ship port, fishing, etc.  We enjoyed our time here.

 Hardeeville RV Park, SC.  PA, $20/nt. Old school, recommended.  We pulled up, did a self check in, and never spoke to or saw a staff person in 3 days.  Wooded, gravel / dirt roads, good utilities, quiet, spacious.  Only laundry sheds, no common areas.   Roads in SC are horrible, GA not much better.  Easy access to Savannah GA (10 minutes) and Hilton Head SC (30 minutes), about 15 minutes from I-95.  We enjoyed our time here.

 RV Resort at Carolina Crossroads, NC.  PA, $21/nt.  We had just had a tire blow out.  This destination was unplanned, but a nice outcome. PA is valid only one night.  This location is close to a big name concert hall.  They promote many special events.  This too is a 'sterile' campground.  Nice staff, easy check in, easy access from I-95.  Good utilities and all the necessities, but a 'tight' park, close neighbors and made for the RV road warrior.  The web site was down when blogging, so I linked the facebook page for into.

 Thousand Trails (aka: Outdoor World or Encore) Williamsburg VA, recommended.  Nice staff.  Old school 'resort style' facility.  Lots of on site activities of average attraction.  Hilly terrain and roads and 'tight' RV sites.  Paved roads, wooded, lots of Oak tree sap on the car daily, but easy to remove.  Some slight interstate noise and noisy neighbors when crowded, but I slept fine. Good utilities.  Easy access to a really nice historic area of the nation. We are here for another week.  Our schedule is 'fluid' and we are here for at least another week. 

Month End Review

On a monthly basis I would like to crunch data and share insight or opinion for the interest or benefit of others (and myself!).  It has only been two weeks since we have been on the road, but interesting none the less.  We have stayed at Passport America (PA) campgrounds: twice for 3 days and once for a night - 7 nights total of $152.  Then we parked at Thousand Trails in Williamsburg, $50 for this week in May.  So 'rent' has been a little over $14 nightly for May. We traveled 814 miles in that time, 131 gallons of fuel for $484.  MPG is just over 6, but that included extended generator time during a break down (8mpg when actually under way).  Gas averaged right at $3.70 / gal. this month.  I have spent $7 on maintenance so far, but have not replaced the blown tire yet...probably a $300 item.  Will be scouting for a new tire this week.  So these details or others may help depict how the RvBurg compares to a more settled life.  We bought the south east region membership with Thousand Trails (TT) when we were at the Tampa RV show.  We are going to try to focus on using TT to see how well we like it.  TT is a 2 week in network, 1 week out of the 'network' process.  We have also focused so far on PA for shorter stays.  THE GOAL - keep fuel expenses down by staying put longer periods.  I hope to put together an Excel expense sheet once I have more data, and it will cover about 5 months of travel once complete.  It will help us plan for next year.

Busy Family Week

Since we arrived in Virginia we have been catching up with family or friends and time has flown by.  Time to play catch up here...

My oldest daughter Megan decided she just has to have a new car.
She asked me to help her with that process and it worked out OK.  She seems happy with her new Toyota Corolla S.  I am not a fan of her being in debt this early in life.  I can only pray she survives the financial challenges ahead. 

My youngest daughter Katelyn had her prom this weekend and so we went to a little group photo shoot.  Her date...
and her sister, Megan...
She seems to have had a good time with all her high school chums.

We got together with my parents and played some cards; we always enjoy that.  Pinochle is our favorite, but 31, Hearts, Spades and Cribbage are good options.  I had the occasion to visit Yorktown.

We were able to visit with my brother in Virginia Beach.

Jan was able to visit with all her family as well.  The weather n the mid-Atlantic was JULY LIKE already; hot and humid.  Average high is supposed to be 79F - actually highs are in the 90's.  YUK.  Cannot wait to get to the mountains.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Travel Day - Tire Blow Out

Actually, today was a good day.  When I consider what others are struggling with, I have no complaints.  In fact, I am thankful.  We had a really nice departure routine, no problems at all.  Left right on time at 10am, hoping to be in Williamsburg VA from Hardeeville SC by 7pm.  On the road we are averaging about 8mpg, towing a car, running the dash air, cruise control at 2500rpm and 60mph.  Pretty happy with that.  I decided to stop when convenient at about every two hours / 120 miles or so.  Why?  To stretch and fill up the fuel tank.  With limits on fuel purchase amounts, I find that longer drives leaves the tank less full than I like it at arrival at the campground.  Let me say that Georgia and ESPECIALLY South Carolina have horrible interstate roads!!  We stayed in the right lane, but got punished by the road conditions.  An hour south of VA .... BOOM!  What was that???  Well, the truck was still driving OK.  The car and dolly were still attached.  We exited in 2 miles and found the problem.  The right rear inside tire blew out the side wall.  I am glad it was not the front tire!  With all the load on one rear tire now, I was not going anywhere.  Crank up the generator, get settled and call for help.  I called Coach-net, our road service provider.  There were prompt and professional.  They had a service company on the way.  I had some dinner, checked the news and waited.  The repair tech arrived (40 min) and promptly went to work.

2 hours from BOOM we were on our way.  He said it looked like impact damage to the tire - South Carolina road trauma.  So we changed our plan.  A quick search on my phone and I was dialed in on a campground, 50 minutes away.  So now we are tucked in safely and thankful.

I read a lot on the blogs about tire age, replacement and such.  I have spoken with several tire sales staff, shop personnel and the Ford Dealer.  I spoke with the repair tech today.  All have said that tire age is one concern.  More important is regular inspections and evidence or wear or age.  These tires are going on 10 years old.  There is no exterior sign of needed replacement.  I have had them inspected several times.  This tire is in very good condition, and the side wall blew.  The tech said the type of damage is consistent with impact stress.  He checked all the other tires and they are good.  He says (as have the others) that new tires blow too; they do a LOT of road side assistance off of I-95 here in NC.  So, I got back on the road comfortable with the situation, except that I need a new spare.  To be continued....

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tybee Island Beach - Day Trip

In a previous post we had visited Hilton Head Island, SC.

This is a really nice destination, especially if you have a fat check book. It is exclusive.  It is lush and green.  It is modern. Fancy homes, high expectations, even carpeted sand at the beach. 

Today we went to Tybee Island, GA.  This location is something more familiar to me.

It was primarily developed in the middle of the last century.  It has a nice 4 lane road in and out, with a quaint charm of my parents generation.  No big high rises.  No fancy communities.  Just a nice beach, easy access, simple and well kept homes.  Nice local eateries.  Great local people.

Even a lighthouse to climb!  It was a busy place today, but we got there at 10am, so we were ahead of the crowd.  What a relaxing day.  I even got back to the RV in time to wash the RV (Gray Whale) and the Scion Tc (Escape Pod)! And I made pasta with meatballs too - yum. 

Savannah GA, Day Trip

On Saturday we visited Savannah, Georgia.  It was a sunny and warm day.  We have found that we enjoy historic areas and this city has a really interesting history.  If you ever have the chance to visit Savannah GA, it is worth the time.  We started on Congress Street and parked at Bull Street.  Yea, I know...Congress and Bull.  They are full of it!

We then walked toward the city market area.

Along the way we came upon Paula Dean's building / restaurant.  WOW, what a crowd!

Downtown has been 'revitalizing' since the 1970's.  Some streets are quite nice.  Some, just a block or two away, are forgotten.

We came upon the Universe Trading Company.  Amazing!!! The stuff these folks have on sale here is so comprehensive and bizarre, and in many cases rare and valuable.

There are many ways to see the sights.  Trolley, Charter Bus, Segway, Boat

or just plain car and foot exploration...that's us!

We quickly learned that there are MANY beautiful parks here in Savannah.

Many are a whole city block in size.  The are referred to by some as the jewels of the city.

I agree.  Beautiful.  There are an incredible number of historic buildings here, and every kind of diverse early architecture from the generations gone.

We also visited a Pre-Revolutionary War cemetery now called Colonial Park.

It was active as a cemetery during 1750-1853.  Then it was made a city park in 1896.  This is a remarkable cemetery; very old, worn and resting here are some great early Americans.

There are many churches here in Savannah.
And many provide an open door to those who wish to visit.

Of course, the Savannah River is of great importance to the city.
We traveled Rt. 17 in and out of the city, visible as the bridge in the background.  This is a VERY tall bridge, allowing huge ships to pass underneath without a draw span. 

The river bank was terraced in places, providing for several embedded roadways with many bridged walkways.

The old cobble stone roads are still there.  The warehouses from the shipping years are still there.

There is a very interesting mix of uses here, and of course, many FINE restaurants.  We ended up eating at Vic's.

It is on the fourth floor and we has a wonderful view of the river.

We had piano music, and the decor is great as is the food!  $25 including tip and we had a nice lunch. 

This lady....a mannequin in one of the MANY shops, sums it all up.  YEP, it was a good day!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Travel Day

On Friday we left Florida.  We had been in the Tampa area for 6 months.  It was a mild winter, with a few nights of below freezing temps and a few days in the 50's.  But winter was mostly 65F plus as a high temp and sunny.  Quite nice.  Spring came early, mid February.  For 12 weeks we had the most consistent weather I have ever experienced.  It was a dry period mostly.  8 weeks were 70s day / 50s night temps, no humidity, sunny, perfect.  4 weeks were 80s day / 60s night, warmer and still perfect.  We did begin to have days at 90s in May.  It seems that mid April is a better time to leave Florida, beat the heat and then crawl up the south east coast for a 'moving spring time.'  As it is, we left Florida mid May and it is warm and humid in the southeast.  It is also stormy and has rain from multiple weather fronts.  I found the dry weather of the Florida springtime to be a desirable thing.  Travel MAP - We are now in South Carolina -- Hardeeville -- just north of Savannah GA.  Quite a difference in campgrounds.

Previous from coach window:

Currently from coach window...

Both have their merits, another discussion.  We left Florida at 10am, after an easy morning relaxing and travel prep.  We arrived at 1pm and were fully checked in, set up and watching TV at 130pm. 

We then decided to go to Hilton Head Island for the afternoon.  It seems they specialize in GREEN, in that life is lived under the trees.  Residential and Commercial properties apparently have strict appearance restrictions.  Signage is minimal and structures are developed without impacting the landscape.  It is hard to see anything until you are right upon it.  You could easily drive right by Walmart and not even know it was there!!!  LOTS of private areas, security, visitors.  It seems to specialize in high end vacations and shopping, golf and the beach. 

We did not stay long.  Unless you are a homeowner or a rental occupant, the area does not seem conducive to visiting.  We did stop and get some fresh shrimp for dinner - stir fry - yum.  I wanted some fish and the fellow at the road side stand had some grouper and snapper - he had some beautiful fillets.  At $17/lb for grouper and $19/lb for snapper I had to pass on the fish.  One small grouper fillet was $23.  The shrimp were $7/lb head on, large and fresh and tasty. 

Today we are off to Savannah GA for a day trip.