Posts Tagged With: Trailer Travel

Backroads Across America: Squeezing in Our Campground

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We’re spending the night in southern Virginia where spring is just beginning to show its colors.  Our campsite was surrounded by trees, but there was barely a leaf to be seen.  It looked quite winter-like.

A good night for what Reg calls “Comfort Food.”

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Although he rolled his eyes when I dropped this in our grocery cart the other day, we thoroughly enjoyed our Deluxe Kraft Macaroni & Cheese dinner, incredibly easy to make with the enclosed packet of squeeze cheese!

And what better way to dine on this gourmet delight than from good old fashioned TV trays!  Bon Appétit!

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Backroads Across America:  Blue Ridge Parkway Leads to Sierra Nevada

We awoke to gray skies and drizzle, so decided to take a sneak peek at the Blue Ridge Parkway this morning.  Our hope has been to drive a small part of the 469 mile scenic highway on our way to West Virginia.  Today was not the best day for views, but we definitely gained valuable perspective!

As we slowly crept around the twists and turns of the parkway, quickly climbing over 3,000 feet, we soon realized we had no business towing our trailer along this route, no matter how beautiful the scenery.  As we reached the 5,000 foot elevation, our scenery disappeared in the clouds, along with all signs of spring.   A side road took us back down to the lower elevations…for an afternoon in the Sierra Nevada (Brewery that is).

Sierra Nevada Brewery opened their Mills River, North Carolina facility in 2014.  As fans of the original Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California, where our son works, we were curious and couldn’t resist a visit and tour during our stay in Asheville.  

What we found was amazing.  We expected the brew house, restaurant and gift shop, but around back we discovered an outdoor play land.  A massive fire pit, games, a stage for music, an organic garden, a children’s play area and seating everywhere. Unfortunately, today was a little wet to enjoy all that was offered.

If you visit be sure to reserve a tour and tasting. Both Chico and Mills River offer them and they book up quickly.  Our tour guide Sean was friendly, knowledgeable and encouraged questions.  We watched hundreds of bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale traveling along a conveyer system towards packaging.  Fascinating!

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Backroads Across America: Scenes From the Rearview Mirror

Today was a turning point…literally.  This morning we headed left out of Hickory Knob State Park Campground, where we spent the last two nights, and watched as South Carolina disappeared behind us.  Today marks the point of our trip when we get serious about heading west and eventually returning home to Oregon.


Hickory Knob was a perfectly fine place for our two night stay, although neither Reg nor I could put a finger on why we didn’t love it.  Our site (pictured above) was tidy and spacious, surrounded by trees – I assume some were hickory trees – and the bathrooms were clean.  I gave my hair a good sudsy wash and powerful blast from my blow dryer, which was a real treat!  


From our campsite, we  walked nearly all of the 7-mile Lakeview Trail Saturday morning, following a part of the shoreline of (controversially named) Strom Thurmond Lake, a 71,000-acre reservoir forming the border between South Carolina and Georgia.  The sheer size of the lake is unbelievable and it appears to be a fisherman’s paradise.  It felt good to lace up the hiking shoes and follow the blue markers along the dirt trail.  As a reward for our enthusiasm, we lazed around the campsite for the rest of the afternoon!


This morning, on a road as straight as an arrow, we aimed for Asheville, North Carolina where we hope to stay dry during our four-day visit.  As South Carolina vanished in the rear view mirror, we wondered what new adventures await us on the return trip.


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Backroads Across America: Charming Charleston, South Carolina

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Since leaving home we’ve logged over 4,000 miles in the Tacoma.  It was time to cash in on the last of the free oil changes Toyota offered when we bought the truck.  Reg set his alarm for 6:00 this morning, so we were up and on the road early to make the 7:15 appointment on the far side of Charleston.  The truck was serviced and ready to go quickly (practically before the sun was up!), so we had lots of time to explore the city that we’d heard so much about!

A tremendous number of 18th and 19th century buildings, churches and homes remain in the heart of Charleston.  The old downtown area was declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1960.  The best way to appreciate the architecture and beauty of Charleston is to walk, so that’s just what we did…for hours!  Todays photos hardly do it justice.

This was my favorite scene of the day.  I love the fact that Charleston allows kids, both young and old, to splash in the fountain on a warm spring day.  I’ve got to say…we were tempted!

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Backroads Across America: It’s the East Coast!

Cross country, coast to coast, backroads across America — whatever you call it, we have alas made it to the East Coast!

The Mt. Pleasant KOA (photos above), just east of Charleston, SC, is our home for the next three nights. We will have to cope with 80 degrees and low humidity. This is yet another lakeside campground where you put your toes in the water at risk, although we have looked carefully at all the logs on our walks around the swamps, and none moved.

We spent the last three nights in Georgia state parks and were most impressed. They rival the facilities in our home state of Oregon, except they have even more space per campsite.

Driving on backroads across the middle of Georgia? It was gorgeous: Lush green landscape, thick forests, rolling hills and some beautiful ranches, farms and homes.

We have logged about 4,500  miles in the Tacoma and Rockwood. Coming up on four weeks. So, how is the RV life? Sue says it is “the best way to experience the country.”

 

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Backroads Across America:  Magnolia Springs State Park


We scored another winner tonight in the Georgia State Park system.  While we couldn’t ask for a more restful setting, Magnolia Springs hasn’t always been a quiet little campground.  Magnolia Springs has a story to tell.

Back in 1864 this area was known as Camp Lawton, a prison established by the Confederate Army to hold Union soldiers during the Civil War.  It was thought to be the largest prison of its time.  Although it was constructed, occupied and abandoned all within just three months, Camp Lawton still managed to house nearly 11,000 prisoners.  The site was quickly abandoned as General Sherman and his Union troops advanced across Georgia.  That was the end of the Camp Lawton story until 2010 when an archeological dig began.  A history center opened in 2014.  Both are located within the park boundaries.


Today, Magnolia Springs Upper Lake appears to be a peaceful spot to soak up the sun, cast out a fishing line or paddle a canoe…and you can do all that, but beware!


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Backroads Across America: Georgia offers State Park stay

 Yesterday we managed to reserve Saturday (tonight) and Sunday night in FD Roosevelt State Park in the beautiful state of Georgia.  I suspect we may have snagged the last spot available for the weekend.  After I checked us in (and realized we had lost yet another hour when crossing the border into Georgia), I was handed a yellow tag and sent in search of an empty campsite with a matching yellow, tag-free pole to stake our claim.  


What a surprise to have found this site so easily.  We quickly set up camp and sat down to enjoy the view.  Knowing we have two days here allows for some much needed R&R for Reg.  We’ve come over 3,500 miles and in another week will meet up with our son Chris and his girlfriend Gail.  After that, we’ll begin to think about the return trip.  Until then, we have much more to see!


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Backroads Across America: Alabama Paradise for $11

 

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Perfect spring conditions framed our drive today, which began with the first 100 miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway, a beautiful 444-mile two-lane path from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. We left the National Park Service-maintained trail at Jackson and caught Highway 80 east across Mississippi.

A fellow camper (traveling from Santa Barbara, California) in Louisiana had advised us to watch for the Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds. So, here we are at one, Prairie Creek, just past Selma, Alabama. What’s not to like! Quiet, lush, spacious sites. Lakeside vistas. Electricity and water hookups. Just $11 with a National Parks senior pass. If we were cats, it would be time to curl up and purr.

 

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Backroads Across America: Historic Natchez, Mississippi

Perched on the bluffs above the Mississippi River is the historically rich town of Natchez.  The area was home to the Natchez Indians when the French arrived in 1716.   Soon after, with the arrival of English and Spanish settlers, the inevitable territorial tug-of-war began.

In 1797, the first American flag was raised and the Mississippi Territory was established.  Statehood followed in 1817.

Natchez is proud of its history and a great number homes and buildings date back to the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.  Its proximity to the Mississippi River and fertile, cotton producing land created great wealth for landowners in the early days.  However, it’s important to remember the riches came at a great cost.  Slavery allowed the landowners to become rich beyond their wildest dreams.  By 1860, Natchez had more millionaires per capita than any other U.S. City.   Life for most came to a screeching halt with the end of the Civil War.  Fortunes were lost, plantations were returned to the banks and the cotton markets never completely recovered.

By chance, we arrived in Natchez during the annual Spring Pilgrimage month when many of the historic homes are open to the public.  Above is Brandon Hall, dating back to 1856.  This dapper gentleman on the right greeted us as we began our tour, filling us in on the history of what used to be a working plantation.  The home currently operates as a bed and breakfast. 

Below is a view of the pond from the front yard.

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Backroads Across America: Hello Ol’ Man River

Two traveling days have taken us from the Texas Hill Country to the banks of the Mississippi River, just across from Natchez, Mississippi.

We have ambled along backroads lined with lush green grass, forests (even some pines) and rainbows of wildflowers. The beauty of the Hill Country continued through most of eastern Texas. Today, in Louisiana, it was more of the same colors without the hills.

We missed the picnic areas and rest stops of Texas today and settled for lunch in the trailer parked at a gas station. We passed no picnic or rest areas across Louisiana.

This is our third straight RV park next to water. In the Hill Country, it was the Guadalupe River.  Sue found a fantastic spot last night on Lake Livingston in eastern Texas. We walked along a wonderful path next to the Mississippi tonight after dinner.

Quite a river, indeed. I think we’ll settle here for a spell.

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