Archive for April, 2012


Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

I love this town!  The history and architecture are unbelievable.  South Carolina was the first state to succeed from the union and the first shots of the civil war were fired here.  This is not your usual southern town, they are quite proud of their past while embracing the 21st century.  Our lunch was at a cute little cafe where you could get the tradition fare like green beans, tomato pie, collard greens along with vegetables that were not dripping in oil nor were they fried!  Fresh produce and bring your own bag to the farmers market.

Now back to the traditional.  I wanted to see a plantation with the beautiful home, fabulous gardens, etc.  Well in South Carolina the plantation homes are much more like farm houses because the lady of the house wasn’t living out in the swamp!  The beautiful homes are in town along the battery.  We visited Boone Hall Plantation where we learned about plantation living and the lives of the slaves.

Driveway lined with giant oaks

The grand estate

Boone Hall Plantation is a working plantation today.  The home was built in the 1930’s to replicate some of the grandeur of the civil war times.

Slave cabins

Theses cabins were along the entrance drive to the plantation home.  At Boone Hall Plantation the cabins of the slaves that had a trade, bricklayer, craftsmen etc. were housed out front so that their skills could be advertised to the community.  Tours are not usually my thing but I am becoming a convert.  I’m aware of slavery and the effect it had on the people but when you take these tours it makes it so much more powerful.  There was a wonderful lady that presented Gullah history.  That was powerful!  I had never even heard of Gullah or Geechee (their language).  Did you know the song “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” was the slaves way of telling each other that someone was going to escape through the underground railroad soon!  Yep, they had their own language so they could communicate and the owners would not understand.

Tours about old furniture and history just does not interest a 4 year old!

After learning about plantation life we headed downtown where the homes are grand and no signs of slavery here although the slaves ran these homes also.

The veranda’s and patios are huge.  Most have outdoor fans.  There are blocks of these homes, all near the river.  Very few are open for tours because they are just homes today, residents live here in this historic district, have jobs, children and fancy cars!

City Hall!

And of course they have the churches that line the skyline with their steeples

And a park dedicated to George Washington, in Washington Park

Towards the end of our day of touring I got a surprise call from our old neighbor, Barb  who was in Charleston visiting her sister!  Wow, we were planning to leave that evening so we loaded the rig up, figured out where there would be a large parking lot and had her and her sister over for tea!!!


We are in the South!

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Arrived at Oak Plantation Campground today in Charleston South Carolina where we dropped the RV and Duke and hurried into town to catch the last tour boat to Fort Sumter.  Yep,  Paul gets to see more Civil War sites!

Charleston Bay

The ride out to the Fort takes about 30 minutes and the afternoon was perfect.  It is so cool to be able to stand outside on the boat and not freeze!  There were hundreds of sailboats in the bay.  This group of about 60 boats seemed to be in some sort of race or event.  We were very close and could see the sailors riding on the edge of the boats propelling the boats in the direction of the buoys.  In the background is the The Cooper River Bridge which opened in 2005 and is the longest North American cable stay bridge.  The Cooper River is named after Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury and chief Lord Proprietor of the Carolina Colony who arrived here from England in the1600’s! I’m thinking he is my ancestor!!

Fort Sumter

A Canon

Many flags flown here

Fort Sumter was where the civil war began however the fort was built for the war or because of the war of 1812.  It was also rebuilt for coastal protection during WWI and WWII.  The only battle it saw was the civil war.  It is now a National Monument in a beautiful setting.

Tomorrow we see downtown Charleston and some Plantations!!!

And the rest of the Story!

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Being married means I get to do something I like and then he gets to do something he likes!  I don’t know how or who but somehow Paul found out they have a Railroad Museum in Savannah so we had to find it!  After walking about 5 miles seeing the beautiful homes and learning the colorful history of Savannah we had to walk another 1/2 mile to find the Railroad museum.   The museum was at the actual site of the Savannah Railroad and much of the roundhouse still exists.

Steam Train that you could ride


They did have a couple of executive cars they were restoring and we got to tour.  They were pretty nice inside and bigger than my RV!

The other thing Paul found fascinating was the process of making taffy!  He won’t eat it but he stood there for 30 minutes watching the guys make it and then the process of getting it into the bin across the room!

Pulling the candy into the machine

Before it gets to this spot it has to be stretched on the arms, color added, flavor added and then it is ready to lay on these rollers and stretch until it reaches the point the candy maker can feed it in where it is cut, wrapped and put onto the conveyor belt for its ride to its final destination in the store before we can buy it!

Look closely, it is riding along in a tray above the sign!

After traveling about 40 feet along overhead conveyors the candy drops into the funnel that feeds it into the bin where you pick it up

And now you buy $15 worth because you can’t live without it in the cute container they provide for you!  Candy in a souvenir tin!  Genius!

Walking the Streets of Old Savannah

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Walking the Streets of Old Savannah is as beautiful as all the brochures.  The town is quaint and grand all at the same time.   Our tour begins with dinner at Lady and Sons Restaurant on Congress Street in the Historic District of Savannah.  Paula Deen wasn’t there of course but her butter was!  We were seated right away and served a buttery pancake and a biscuit each before water was even served.  They had a buffet and a great menu.  We chose the buffet (I am not sure why other than we thought the fried chicken looked really good)  The buffet was the cheapest item on the menu at $15 per person including dessert!  My favorites were the green beans and sweet potatoes.  The collard greens tasted like greens – I am not sure even Paula Deen could put enough bacon grease or butter to make them taste good!  The restaurant was pretty ordinary and a bit disappointing as I was hoping for some of her personality to be present but the wait staff was good, just not great!  I did have a southern bellettini (I think that is what it was called!)  It was great; sparkling wine, peach schnapps and pomegranate juice.

After dinner we walked for about an hour down on the river front and to the city market area before taking a tour in a horse drawn carriage!

The next morning we returned to the area to take a  90 minute riding tour and learn some history of the area.  After  we walked around town to really get a look at all the architecture and the squares we saw.   I love looking at the homes and wondering about the people who lived there when they were built.   Paul loves to learn about the civil war which they really do not love to talk about here in the south!  We must have walked 5 miles, so much for the on/off priveledges of our tour bus!  It is definitely a town where you want to walk and see as much as you can.  There are lots of tours you can take but I enjoy just walking the streets, looking up at the buildings, ducking into a boutique, and then there is the drinks!  In Savannah you can order a drink to go and no one cares!

City Hall at night from the harbor

If these walls could talk! I wonder what history would be revealed?

Jones Street, where a house here goes for in the Millions!!

The Waving Girl

The Waving Girl Statue stands at the beginning of the riverwalk in Savannah.  I thought the story was facinating;  she would greet every incoming and outgoing ship into the harbor from her home on an island on the Savannah River before Savannah.  The sculpture was erected in 1971 and was created by  Felix De Weldon the famous sculptor who did the WWII Marine Corps War Memorial of five U.S. Marines and one sailor raising the flag of the United States on Iwo Jima!

Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church

Inside, this church commands you to stop and reflect for a bit!  The bigness of this place is overwhelming.  We visited for a moment and then returned to the streets to explore some more.

Gravestones attached to the wall

We were told two stories on our tours about these stones so we had to get a closer look for ourselves.  First, our carriage driver said the union soldiers destroyed the headstones and changed information on them and moved them around so they had room to set up camp (or something like that!).  Then our bus driver said Union horses trampled them and when the soldiers left families returned to the cemetery and didn’t know where there loved ones were so they picked up the stones and attached them to the wall.  There were hundreds of them.  The cemetery was not very crowded as they quit using it in fear they would dig up a grave.

Savannah is a beautiful city and the southern hospitality is something everyone should experience.  Yes ma’am!

Walt Disney World – Missed

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

We have been in Florida a week visiting the beaches and enjoying the spring weather, not too many bugs!  Sunday we left Tampa and are now hanging out in Orlando, home of the giant mouse.   The closest I got to the Magic Kingdom was several homes have giant ears as yard art and the Big Kmart had lots of Mickey Mouse household decorations.  I love Disney and all things Disney but Paul doesn’t so I thought about spending the day at the Park until I found out it would cost me close to $100 just to get into the place and then I would have to buy something or some things!  And, then of course you have to sample the food.  One day just wasn’t enough or worth it.   We are only here for 2 days and to really enjoy the park you need at least a week and then you are pushing it and killing yourself trying to enjoy every moment.

Home Sweet Home (Kmart parking lot Orlando Florida!)

Our last day in Orlando I spotted these birds high up on the streetlamps just watching life go by, or guarding their home from the other birds in the area!

Paul has promised that we will return to Florida for a winter now that we have been here.  I can’t wait to come back and spend several months exploring the gulf coast and at least a week with MICKEY MOUSE!!!

To be a kid again

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Tampa is nice,  St. Petersburg is nice, but Indian Shores, Clearwater and the Gulf is perfect.  We are spending a few days at the worlds biggest RV Center, Lazydays RV’s in Tampa Florida.  The camping park is regular size with all the amenities, pool, tennis, dog run, laundry, etc.  Attached to the campground is the RV supercenter.   They have a huge building with offices that go on forever, and then there is the service center with waiting area that has at least 10 seperate areas for you to wait with Starbucks coffee and your puppy is welcome to!  Included in our camp fees we get breakfast each morning and lunch each day.  The food is just ok but if you are lucky enough to buy a really high end RV or know someone that did you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and happy hour drinks and dinner in the Crown Club where these people get their own campground and swimming pool.  We are lucky enough to know someone that has just bought a fancy Bus from them and are here waiting for some service so we have been getting the royal treatment in the Crown Club.  Connie & Charles, we met in Branson Missiouri are here waiting for their Bus to get some warrenty repairs.

We are having a great time catching up with their travels and a bit of site seeing in the area.  Yesterday Connie and I went to Indian Shores for lunch and to enjoy the waters of the Gulf, while Paul saw some dealers and Charles oversaw the service work being done.  I am still so amazed that I never knew that these beaches were so wonderful.  We had lunch at a great little local spot recommended by Connie’s saleman, The Kooky Coconut.  Definitely a dive but they made an amazing Cuban Sandwich.  This place was about a 1/2 block from the beach so after lunch on their patio we walked the beach.

Walking on the beach is a new experience every time.  Because the water is so warm everyone, young and old are wading in the waters.

There is going to be sand somewhere until he is 40

Spending time relaxing on the beach has reminded me that no matter how old you are  listening to the waves pound the sand is just good for the sole.  It is hard to find someone not smiling when you are on the beach.  The only bummer here is we have not found a beach that allows Duke to also enjoy the sand and surf.

More beautiful beaches

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

We had a very nice Easter out here on the road in Florida.  We are still at Rocky Bayou SP and the weather is perfect.  Our plan for the day was to relax, enjoy a nice ham dinner and maybe enjoy the waters of the bay.  We found out the park rents kayaks so we decided (or I did!) that we could rent a couple, get out on the water and maybe see some nice wildlife.  Renting the kayaks was easy.  We loaded up with sunscreen, hats and water shoes and launched the kayaks into the water.   Next item is to get into the kayak and I was hoping not to look like such a beginner but no luck.  I almost rolled it but was lucky to make it into the seat and get myself situated so I could paddle.  Paul got right in and started paddling.  Immediately I realized I am not comfortable and this really hurts!   I almost turned back to the beach but I really want to learn to kayak so I kept trying to find a comfortable position.  These kayaks have no back support and you are basically sitting on a plastic board floating in the water!  I finally found a good position and off we go.  We have these kayaks for 2.5 hours and believe me this is way more than enough time.  We paddled along the shore into the bayou for about 25 minutes and find some shade to rest on  a small beach.  Paul rolls out of his kayak and says he has to stop as he is so cramped up.  By this time I had finally found a rhythm so I kept going.   I returned to Paul after awhile and we both had had enough with torturing our bodies so we began to paddle back.  At one point I told Paul we could swim and push the kayaks!  He had a better idea and went for shore and walked his for awhile along the sandy shore.  I kept paddling knowing that I was going to be in pain this evening.  We returned to the beach and turned our kayaks in after only 1.5 hours of fun!!!  I swam in the warm waters for awhile and then it was off to home, a nice warm shower and dinner!


PS.  Monday morning there was no pain!  So I think we will try it again.  Kayaking was pretty relaxing and so quiet out on the water

3 more states, but only one for our map

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

We left Louisana on Thursday afternoon and traveled through Mississippi and Alabama into Florida.  We hit the tunnel in Mobile about 5:30 pm, right in the middle of commute hour!  Exciting! One more night in a Walmart parking lot and now we are settled at Rocky Bayou State Park for the Easter weekend.  I have been to Florida before, twice and neither time did I get to see the Gulf Coast.  I keep telling everyone that will listen, these are the most beautiful beaches I have seen.  The water is crystal clear; the sand is snow white and the towns are definitely a vacation meca with high rise condimium complexes everywhere.   There are so many public beaches and they all look the same,  really white, really clear blue waters and they go on for miles.  And,  the water is really warm, warm enough for swimming in April even for me! Saturday we were going out to the gulf to enjoy the afternoon but along the way Paul spots an airplane display! Elgin AF Museum has lots of real planes on the lawns infront of the museum.  Sometimes I think there is a conspiracy going on against a nice relaxing day doing what I want!  I am wondering who in their right mind would put a big display of Air Force Planes right on the highway!  A man I am sure!

Yep, they are real!!

I was fascinated with how these missiles were attached! I have no idea why they are attached or what they do, but Paul can tell you!!!

Why is John Deere in the missile business?

After an hour of wandering among the planes, even Duke needs a rest

Paul loved looking at the planes, telling me what they were and how they were used and just admiring them.  Interesting when you are at a museum of this type you always run into someone that actually used the planes.  We met up with this guy that was giving his 12 year old grandson (I am guessing!)  the whole history lesson of WWII.  Paul learned something new and I was filled with even more information that I will never remember. The boy looked slightly interested and was asking a few questions but I am betting he was like me, watching his clock to be sure there was still going to be sunshine by the time we finally get to the beach!

FINALLY! Destin, Florida, rated #1 beach in my book! I love it here

PS:  The title of this post is referring to the fact that on our RV we have a map of the US that shows all the states we have visited. Our map shows only the states we actually slept in or did something in, therefore we have not been able to add Mississippi to our map.  We have traveled through 2 corners of the state, Northeast, Northwest, and across the bottom twice but we have never spent the night yet!  Alabama we already had on our map from when we went to Talladega for the race.

We are moving really fast!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Tuesday we left Baytown and traveled the rest of the way thru Texas along Interstate 10 into Louisiana. Paul traveled the whole thing this trip.

Mile marker 880!

That’s a lot of one state!

Tuesday night we spent in a roadside visitors center near Baton Rouge.  The visitor center had a parking area for RV’s where we could really set up camp with the slides out and everything for FREE!!!  Of course we stayed.  I thought we would get a really great nights sleep because we were off the highway and there were no Big Rigs allowed but about 1 am the storm started.  I was awake several hours listening to the rain and thunder and watching the wind and lightening.  The storm lasted most of the night but by 8 am everything was pretty clear so we hit the road.   We spent last night in FountainBleau State Park on Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana.

Lake Pontchartrain

20 mile Causeway across the lake to New Orleans


What kind is it?

It is beautiful here and the lake is huge.  We had dinner last night at a great restaurant that had patio seating where we watch what there was of a sunset.  Rip by the lake was an excellent choice and I tried something new again!  Soft shell crab and fried catfish.  Soft shell crab you eat the whole thing.  Tastes like crab but the stuff inside I admit I ate around it!!!  The catfish was really good.

Baytown Texas

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

East of Houston is a quaint little town on the bay known as Baytown.  My sister bought a home and moved here last summer.   This is where Paul and I met up again on Friday, I flew into Houston and he drove.

Saturday was a day for resting and just hanging out with family.   My sister, Karol and her husband Curtis bought here in Baytown after several trips here with his company.  Their home is on a 1/2 acre in a small development right near the bay.  Lots of green grass and trees and a lot of mosquitoes!!!  I was applying the bug spray like crazy.  Karol signed up for a mosquito service that will come once a month and spray in the hopes that it will reduce the problem so she can get out and enjoy the springtime.

After our day of rest we were ready to get out and see the area.  First stop was the San Jacinto Monument which is a 570′ tall shaft with a giant Lone-Star at the top.  The monument is for those that fought the battle for Texas’ independence.  The site also has the Battleship Texas which we toured.  This ship has 3 stories which you can tour and then to my amazement you could go down 2 more stories and see lots more pipes, wires, engines and who knows what!

Paul and Jeremy 4 stories down!

Battleship Texas

San Jacinto Monument

Finally it was time to pick Karol up from work and head to Galveston Island which I am really excited about.  Getting a late start we took a driving tour of the area and then rode the ferry that takes you to Port Bolivar and back.  Karol promised we would see Dolphins.  The first 1/2 of the ride we saw nothing except we did see a Royal Caribbean cruise ship setting out to the caribbean but no dolphins.  Just before we landed in Port Bolivar we finally saw several families of dolphins swimming, playing and fishing.  Watching dolphins swim makes me want to take a dive and swim with them.  They look so relaxed!

Can I come?

Port Bolivar

After our tour of Galveston we were on our way to Tbone Toms for dinner where Paul was meeting up with an old friend from Old Forge.  Paul had not seen him since before he left town in 1982.  George met us in the bar and then we sat for dinner.  This place is huge; they have patio seating which is as big as most restaurants, then they have this covered outdoor eating area that must have 200 tables or more, a dance floor with band and another bar, then they have an indoor seating area like a real diner for those that are looking for a more intimate dining experience!

Notice the shirts! That was how we found George!!!

We ordered Armadillo eggs and fried pickles for starters and then the music started!  Loud, country music!  The music was good but conversation was not happening except for the person right next to you!  Paul and George had a nice chat; Karol and Curtis chatted and danced, I listened to the music and enjoyed my Texas BBQ dinner!  Just as we were finishing dinner a group of girls lined up at the bar and were served lemon drop martinis in dixie cups attached to a water-ski!   Now that is something I had not heard of, a dixie cup for a martini?  I like mine in a nice chilled, stemmed glass thank you very much!

Only in Texas!!!