Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten

Army Corps of Engineers

Ortona South Campground

LaBelle, Florida

 

View from our campsite at WP Franklin Campground, Army Corps of Engineers near Fort Meyers, Florida.

View from our campsite at WP Franklin Campground, Army Corps of Engineers near Fort Meyers, Florida.

After 10-days at Disney we were ready for a quiet campground off the beaten path. We knew just the place…The Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds on the Lake Okeechobee Waterway in south Florida.

Our first stop was to W P Franklin campground in Alva, Florida near Fort Meyers where we stayed for 3-nights…..3-nights because that was all we could get.   Last May, after we made our Disney Plans, I went online to reserve a post-Disney campsite knowing that we’d want a long quiet stay somewhere warm to wind-down. We had stayed on the Okeechobee Waterway last Christmas so I knew that these Army Corps Campgrounds were wonderfully quiet and in out-of-the-way spots……apparently so does everyone else. Last May, the Franklin campground (which only has about 30 sites) was already booked solid for November!   I took the only 3-nights there that I could get because it is such a beautiful place; every one of the campsites is right on the waterway. No wonder you have to stand in line to get one.

 

After our stay at Franklin, we headed inland along the waterway about 20-miles to my next reserved spot: Ortona South- another Army Corps campground near LaBelle, Florida. We were also lucky to be able to book 14-days here last May….at senior pass prices that’s only $11.00 a night. Ortona is also right on the waterway. Some sites have water views. We opted for a more private site across from the waterway with a marsh pond behind us. Also behind us is a large cattle ranch. We stayed here last Christmas so I knew all about the ranch but I still get a kick out of seeing cattle grazing among palm trees.

Cattle Ranch behind Ortona South Campground, LaBelle, Florida

Cattle Ranch behind Ortona South Campground, LaBelle, Florida

Our daily walk takes us close to a favorite grazing spot. These cattle and their bird friends seem to be as fascinated by us as we are by them …. or maybe it’s Andy.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I am really in the “Thanksgiving” spirit because of a super good book that our 7-year old granddaughter Jilly and I just finished reading. We read together every night on the phone….she lives in Connecticut and this way we are able to spend time together even though I may be thousands of miles away.

Our Thanksgiving book was “Junie B Jones: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten and other Thankful Stuff”.

Junie Be Thanksgiving

“And I tell you, I love this Kid! (this is Junie B speak)…puts Thanksgiving in perspective and if you don’t like something they make you eat you can always spit it in the sink!”

Lucky for me we are flying home for Christmas so I’ll only miss this one important family holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving and Thanks for Riding Along,

Coll

Fort Wilderness

 

Disney World

Orlando, Florida

Disney World Orlando

Disney World Orlando

Another great family vacation is coming to an end.   We stayed 10-days at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. This time of year Disney and the Campground is all about Christmas. Many of the motor homes and campers were decked out with Christmas lights and blow-up Disney Christmas Characters…..we maintained a lower profile.

Fort Wilderness Campsite

Fort Wilderness Campsite

Our family, Corrie and Will and our granddaughters stayed at an onsite hotel resort. Both of our granddaughters spent nights here with us enjoying the pool and campground…..so much fun. Fort Wilderness is a great campground with all the amenities anyone could want; after-all it is Disney.

Most (if not all) of the sites are paved with full hook-ups. At first they look pretty close but once you are in your site, you find that the landscaping is done to provide everyone with maximum privacy. The shower/restrooms are pristine. Showers are private with doors and each building includes a laundry room with about 6 washers and driers and lots of folding tables.

I’d guess that more than 50% of the campers here have dogs with them and there is a steady parade of pampered pets walking to the Disney Dog Park – a great spot for you and Spot! I can’t begin to list all of the Fort Wilderness features but here are a few: huge pool with water slide; beach area where you can sun bathe, fish or take a boat to the Magic Kingdom; campfire arena where nightly sing-a-longs with marshmallow roasts and movies happen, horseback trail rides; hay rides and horse-drawn carriages and on and on and on……

We spent most of each day at the parks, I won’t boar you with our minute-by-minute activities….instead, I’ll toss a lot of photos at you!

Tomorrow we’re heading south.

Thanks for Riding Along,

Coll

Hollywood Studios Christmas Lights

Hollywood Studios Christmas Lights

11-19 Disney 2014 (34) 11-19 Disney 2014 (19) 11-19 Disney 2014 (26)

11-19 Disney 2014 (5) 11-19 Disney 2014 (7)

 

 

Spooky Man in Tree

Paynes Prairie Preserve

Micanopy, Florida

 

We have really enjoyed our time here at Paynes Prairie Preserve. It is a very quiet campground with fairly large private campsites. We are only 10-miles from Gainesville so the cell signal is pretty good 4-G. TV Satellite reception is iffy….depends on the tree coverage at each site, we couldn’t get a Direct TV signal but were able to pull in 3 or 4 air channels. TV doesn’t really matter that much to us….our Sirius Radio signal was great so we are able to keep tabs on the current condition of the world (not so good).

The campground is actually in the little historic town of Micanopy – just a couple of miles down the road. We spent an enjoyable Sunday afternoon walking around this picturesque village, peeking into the uncountable antique stores and visiting their local museum. The museum details the long history of the town….Indians, slaves, civil war, boom town, to now a sleepy little village that is a pleasure to visit.

Micanopy was originally the site of a Seminole Indian Village that became home to many runaway slaves and their descendents. The Seminole tribe took them in and adopted them as their own. Unfortunately, as happened all over this country, the tribe and the white government did not see eye-to-eye and, of course, the government won. Most of the Micanopy tribe was sent to Oklahoma reservations – many died on the trip. There were some of the tribe that managed to avoid the forced evacuation and their descendents blended in and continued to live in the town.

Bed and Breakfast in Micanopy, Florida

Bed and Breakfast in Micanopy, Florida

But most of our time here has been spent hiking the many trails that lead you through the preserve. On our hikes we discovered wildlife, tropic beauty and a strange man in a tree.

Don’t pick the wild flowers!

Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve, Micanopy, Florida

Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve, Micanopy, Florida

11-9 Paynes Prairie (2)

11-9 Paynes Prairie Trail

Trail at Paynes Prairie Preserve, Florida

11-9 Paynes Prairie Tree Man (2)

Can you see the spooky man?

Paynes Prairie Tree Man

Paynes Prairie Tree Man

Tomorrow we’re going to visit the mouse!

Thanks for riding along,

Coll

 

 

 

 

Puc Puggy Campground

Paynes Prairie Preserve

Micanopy, Florida

 

We needed a place to cool our heels for a week before we head to Disney and we couldn’t have picked a better spot. Our campsite here is very nice and secluded. There is so much vegetation between sites you can’t see your next-door neighbor. The campground itself is fairly small – about 50 sites so if you want to come here be sure you reserve in advance.

Other than the campground and the Visitor’s Center, there are no other signs of human habitation in this 22,000 acre wilderness which was designated as a National Landmark in 1974.  Wildlife is protected and thrives.  Along with the expected alligators, deer, fox and coyote you can also spot bison and a herd of wild Spanish horses.  And much to Andy’s horror, armadillos run through the campground as numerous and as tame as squirrels…..he can’t stand those things!  He’ll even brave the jungle for the chance to catch one of those ugly critters!

Andy hunting for armadillos

Andy hunting for armadillos

There is plenty to do in the Preserve. Lake Wauberg is 300 acres where boaters can float or fish for bass, bream and perch. There are 30-miles of trails for hikers, bikers and horses. We set-off this morning on what turned out to be a 6-mile hike through the tropic forest.

Paynes Preserve Live Oak

Paynes Prairie Preserve Live Oak

One of the unique things about this preserve is that it encompasses so many different ecosystems including grasslands, tropical forest and cypress swamps.

Paynes Preserve cypress swamp

Paynes Prairie Preserve cypress swamp

After our hike, we headed back to our camp for lunch and then Ted tackled his repair job for the day – fixing our Newmar mud flap. Yesterday, as we drove here via a very bumpy and busy I-95, we ran over one of those truck-tire pieces that seems to litter the interstates. It must have gotten caught-up in our rear mud flap because when Ted stopped to check for damage the flap was bent and hanging crooked – lucky the whole thing wasn’t ripped off. All of our motor home friends know how expensive those shiny stainless steel trimmed manufacturer mud flaps are….. we had to fix it.

Mister Fix-it took it off and had it straight in no time.   One trip to Lowes for new stainless steel bolts…and an hour or so spent drilling new holes…. and our Newmar mud flap is better than new! My hero.

We were basking in the joy of having fixed our mud flap when we plugged in our new space heater (purchased less than a week ago) because this evening is chilly……nothing.   Won’t even turn on! Tomorrow, a trip to Sam’s Club in Gainesville to return it and try to explain why I can’t find the receipt!

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

P.S.  Do you think Puc Puggy was a person?

The Tuskegee Airmen of WWII

Colleton State Park

Walterboro, South Carolina

 

We are pretty much alone here at Colleton State Park. There were maybe 5 other campers over the weekend but most left this morning. Colleton campground is just a few miles off interstate 95 in what is called the “lowcountry” of South Carolina. We’re only about 45-miles from Charleston and the Atlantic Ocean. Far enough away that this is a great get-away place without the bustle of tourists.

Colleton State Park, Walterboro, South Carolina

Colleton State Park, Walterboro, South Carolina

The campground sits on the banks of the Edisto River which is home to a very popular canoe trail. The park rangers here host canoe groups, acting as guides along the 30-mile or so canoe trail. The other campers here last weekend came for the canoeing but, it was so rainy, damp and cold, no one went into the water. There have been frost advisory warning here every night …. people keep telling us that it never gets this cold here in November…seems like we bring cold with us whenever we hit the south!

We spent our rainy Sunday in Charleston shopping. Our big purchase was a Lasko ceramic space heater to help take the chill off. I was real close to buying one of those fake fire-place heaters….it looked great and had a cherry wood cabinet but then the voice of reason (Ted) told me to consider the weight and bulk of the thing – we went with the Lasko. The propane gas furnace in our motor home does a great job of keeping us and basement (storage bins) and pipes warm; but it is loud when it runs and uses costly propane. We wanted an electric space heater just take the chill off during the day. So far so good. The heater is the perfect size for our 300 or so square feet and keeps me toasty warm. Ever since I became an old lady, it seems like I’m always cold – especially my hands.

So this morning, toasty warm and happy, we decided to do some local sightseeing. First stop: the Colleton County Recreation Park for a total of 5-miles around their sports complex track.   It is on the edge of a mossy pine forest and the sights and smells are pure south.

Next we drove to the Walterboro Lowcountry Regional Airport to see the Tuskegee Memorial.

The Tuskegee Airmen Memorial at Walterboro Army Airfield

The Tuskegee Airmen Memorial at Walterboro Army Airfield

The Tuskegee Airmen of WWII were dedicated, determined young men who enlisted to become America’s first black military airmen. This was at a time when many people thought black men lacked intelligence, skill and patriotism. They came from every section of the country and each possessed a strong personal desire to serve the United States. Many were selected as aviation cadets and sent to Tuskegee Alabama to be trained as single-engine pilots and later became twin-engine pilots, navigators and bombardiers. This site at the Walterboro, SC Army Airfield was also used as a training facility.

Walterboro, SC Army Airfield.  WWII POW Camp.

Walterboro, SC Army Airfield. WWII POW Camp.

This Army Airfield was also used as a POW camp during WWII. Hundreds of German prisoners of war were held here in Walterboro….just one of many WWII POW camps that were located throughout the United States.  I didn’t know that we had WWII POW Camps here in the US….. Interesting. Evidentially, German and Italian POW’s were used to fill-in labor shortages caused by the war. And were released and delivered by to their respective countries when the war ended.

11-3 Colleton St Pk SC (3)

Back at our campground all was quiet. It was Kung Pow Chicken for supper in our toasty warm coach. Tonight we have another freeze warning. I guess the good news is that we didn’t get any of the snow that fell in the North Carolina hills.

Don’t forget to vote tomorrow.

Thanks for Riding Along,

Coll

Last Train In Clarksville

 

Rudds Creek Campground

Boydton, Virginia

 

There is something special about a fall campground. Things slow down. Instead of the mad-dash to the lake, kids spend time experiencing the forest.   Bugs and mosquitoes are gone with the summer – now’s the time to find wooly-bears, collect leaves, build forts and blaze new trails.

Army Corps of Engineers Rudds Creek Campground - Boydton, Virginia

Army Corps of Engineers Rudds Creek Campground – Boydton, Virginia

Last weekend the campground was full of boys on bikes and mysterious missions into the forest.  By this afternoon this 100-site campground was pretty quiet and empty….only about 10 of us campers left.  The quiet is nice…just acorns falling on the roof but….we miss the sounds bike bells and spooky night-time fires.

Our campsite here at Rudds Creek

Our campsite here at Rudds Creek

This campground closes for the winter on Friday and that’s the day we’re leaving.  It’s a shame that people will miss the remaining fall beauty on this beautiful lake.

10-27 Rudds Creek Campground VA

Today, we drove into the next closest town to us, Clarksville (about 6-miles) to get some groceries and check out the train line that goes through there – we heard a whistle in the night.  Unfortunately we seem to have missed the last train!  This is the old train station.  The buzzards are keeping an eye on the place

10-27 Last Train Clarksville

The last train in Clarksville railroad club, Clarksville, Virginia.

Back at camp it was marshmallows over a quiet night-time fire.

Thanks for Riding Along,

Coll

 

A Marching Band and Brunswick Stew

Boydton, Virginia

 

The nearest town to our campground is Boydton and today was the 38th annual Boydton Day Celebration…..we had to go!

Boydton, founded in 1812 by Alexander Boyd – a Scottish Immigrant, survived the Civil War and has managed to remain small and prosperous ever since. It is a lovely “Mayberry like” town. Today’s event was truly a celebration of small town life. The streets were lined with booths touting local businesses and hometown craftspeople; and the food….oh the food! Hotdogs, fried pork rinds, hamburgers, shishkabobs, funnel cakes, fries…fries…fries, fish sandwiches, booth after booth of homemade baked goods and the Boydton specialty…..kettle cooked Brunswick Stew!

Brunswick Stew at Boydton Day - Boydton, Virgina

Brunswick Stew at Boydton Day – Boydton, Virgina

You buy it by the quart.   There was a line 15 people deep to get some of this hometown favorite. People were buying 10 and 12 quarts of this wonderful cauldron brew. One guy told us that he comes down from Philadelphia every year for this day just to get some Boydton Brunswick Stew! I learned that Brunswick stew is a southern Virginia claim to fame. Traditionally it is thick enough to stand your spoon up in and is made with squirrel and/or rabbit meat….I didn’t ask but I think today’s stew had big chunks of chicken (it tasted like chicken…doesn’t everything?) and bacon….whatever…..it was fantastic.

At 11:00 on the nose the annual Boydton Day Parade began! People were waving and hollering at the participants because everyone seemed to know everyone in the parade. First down the street was the local VFW carrying our nation’s flag….everyone fell silent in respect.

The Boydton VFW led the Parade

The Boydton VFW led the Parade

Next came the Bluestone High School Band – they’re from Skipwith.

10-25 Boydton Day Parade (2)

Oh Boy, I Loved That Band!

10-25 Boydton Day Parade (3)

Bluestone High Marching Band

Fire Engines…..Politians….Rescue Squads….and Antique cars….

10-25 Boydton Day Parade (4)

With the horses bringing up the rear….good call because they kind of made a mess of Main Street.

10-25 Boydton Day Parade (6)

We hung around for a while after the parade watching the families and listening to the local musicians – they had country western band and a gospel group. Andy was a hit everywhere we went …especially with little girls and big dogs.

Back at the campground, Ted washed the front and rear of the coach and I (feeling very southern rural) fried catfish for dinner. A great day!

Thanks for Riding Along,

Coll

 

Scary….Spooky…things in the Woods!

 

Rudds Creek Campground

Boydton, Virginia

 

This morning we checked into our home place for the next 7-nights: Rudds Creek Campground on John H. Kerr Lake at the Virginia/North Carolina Border. The campground is an Army Corps of Engineers property so of course, it is very neat and well maintained and only costs $12/night for lucky seniors.

We have spent the last month and more traveling and visiting relatives – wouldn’t trade that for the world! But, today it was fun to once again experience a new place and explore a new campground.   We reserved our site (unseen) so we didn’t have to do the drive through to find “the perfect spot”…. A lot less stressful when you just reserve online.   Soon as we found our site, we docked; leveled; hooked up water and electric and then took off exploring to check-out our new surroundings.   We shower in our coach but, always peek-in the shower house just in case we want a long… slow shower. Our coach shower is wonderful but, if we don’t have a sewer hook-up (we don’t here),  we have to watch our water use or we’ll have to make a mid-week trip to the dump station ‘cause the grey tank is full. Our grey tank holds 60-gallons which is great but you can’t take a 10-minute showers.

We are in a small loop that gives us access to the lake via a path from our campsite. The path takes you about 100-yards to the water where, if you have a boat, you can dock it for easy access; or, if you don’t have a boat (us) you can go to sit quietly and contemplate the lake. We did that at sunset.

Rudds Creek Campground at John H. Kerr Lake - Boydton, Virginia

Rudds Creek Campground at John H. Kerr Lake – Boydton, Virginia

As soon as the sun set we started seeing spooky lights and Hanging Things in the woods….OOOOOhhhhhhhhh! There are maybe 4 or 5 different loops in this campground and many of the sites are decorated for Halloween. Witches and Vampires hang from the trees or float above night-time campfires….campfire stories are extra spooky at this time of year.  Trick or Treat will be a lot of fun here!

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

Farmville

Sabillasville, Maryland to Farmville, Virginia

 

Yesterday we pulled up the levelers and said bye to my sister Jodi and her family. We had a really nice visit. Jodi and her husband Tom own a beautiful 13+ acre property on top of Cascade Mountain in Sabillasville, Maryland. Their near neighbor is Camp David – the presidential retreat, so all is quiet and peaceful on that mountain. Tom made an RV pad for us complete with 50-amp service so whenever we visit Maryland we always have a place to stay (my other sister Deb also has an RV hook-up for us in PA!).

My mother lives about 5-miles below Jodi in the Smithsburg valley – it’s an easy downhill to great family dinners. Mom outdid herself while we were there…..spaghetti with pepperoni; pork and sauerkraut; and her own creation: kielbasa alfredo (heart attack here I come).   Mom just turned 83 and she can knock out a family dinner with the best of them.

We timed our visit in Maryland so that we’d be able to take advantage of Maryland’s Early Voting window; so on our way out of town we stopped by the voting location for Washington County and made or voices heard! What a zoo, we had to wade through a sea of signs to get into the voting hall….happily, everyone was in a good mood and respectful of the voters.

Washington County, Maryland Early Voting

Washington County, Maryland Early Voting

Next stop out of town was to dump at an AC&T Truck Stop near I-81 in Hagerstown. They only charge $10.00 to dump and take on water. The parking lot is a little cramped and Ted had to do some major maneuvering to reach the water fill-up area but, we managed without incident.

We headed south on I-81 as far as Front Royal, Virginia. The wind was really strong as we followed the Blue Ridge Mountains along the interstate. It was a relief to leave the highway and continue south on secondary roads and state highways toward our current goal which is an Army Corp of Engineer campground on the Virginia/North Carolina border.

About 4:00 pm we decided to search out a Walmart for the night. That’s when we came upon this Facebook Farmer who said there was a great one in Farmville, VA….we followed him there. Can I water your plants for you while I’m here?

Pumpkin Truck - Snap shot from Dash Cam

Pumpkin Truck – Snap shot from Dash Cam

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll

 

What Do John Brown, Lewis & Clark, Stonewall Jackson and the Appalachian Trail Have In Common?

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

 

Yesterday, Ted and I visited one of our favorite places: The Harper’s Ferry National Park in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.

Harper's Ferry Selfie

Harper’s Ferry Selfie

I grew up in this area and used to visit Harper’s Ferry with my father (a Civil War Buff) before the National Park Service took it over.   Then later, when Ted and I owned Garringer Images – a local photography company, we often went to Harper’s Ferry to photograph this unique town.

Harper's Ferry downtown from the Armory.

Harper’s Ferry downtown from the Armory.

Harper’s Ferry is a real piece of American History.  It was here where the Shenandoah  and the Potomac Rivers meet that George Washington built the first US Armory and Lewis and Clark outfitted and planned their famous exploration;  John Brown and “Stonewall” Jackson both made history here during the Civil War; and the famous C&O Canal and the Appalachian Trail cross paths here.  If you are ever in this area, plan to spend time in Harper’s Ferry…hiking, boating, train watching, and learning about the incredible history of this unique town will easily fill 2 or 3 days!

Today as we hiked along the trails and walked through the restored town I realized that we could not take any new photos better than the ones we used to sell.

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia taken from Saint Peter's Catholic Church

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia taken from Saint Peter’s Catholic Church

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia - Confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac Rivers. Taken from the top of the Maryland Heights Trail.

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia – Confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac Rivers. Taken from the top of the Maryland Heights Trail.

Harper's Ferry Tunnel

Harper’s Ferry Tunnel

If you ever have the chance you’ve got to visit Harper’s Ferry National Park.

Thanks For Riding Along,

Coll