Phew! It’s a lot of work to find a place to live sometimes!

Last Sunday we had to say “See you this fall!” to our soldier.  While normally we would have loved to stay up in the NE and explore more, the weather was cold.  That would have been fine if we could have found a reasonably priced RV park – but the parks are mostly closed this time of year, and those that are open are ex.pen.sive.   That, on top of fuel being pricey, over $200 in tolls (that is all together tho, including coming back south), and being bummed about our time with Greg being over, we weren’t really endeared to the area, so we hit the road for warmer weather right away on Monday.

We drove as far as Salisbury, MD where we spent Mon, night in a Walmart parking lot.  We actually like to wallydock; when we are just overnighting between driving days, it’s much easier than setting up in a campground – our batteries will run the furnace and lights for several nights even without the generator, but if they are running low, or we want to watch a movie before bed, we just turn the gene on from inside the toy hauler.
We loved the architecture in the northwest!  The cute cottages out at Cape May, and the big old barns that line the highway.  I love the vines that grow all over everything.

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On Tuesday we drove down to the southern location of the Assateague Island National Seashore, and Chincoteague Island.  We really didn’t plan our trip south very well – we had to chose between heading down near the coast and hitting Chincoteague, or staying inland and going to a couple of battlefields.  Since we do a lot of Civil War sites, and Assateague INS is so unique, we chose the islands.

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We should have stayed inland.  I didn’t check out the National Park Service website very well, and skimmed right over the fact that they are only open on the weekends in the winter (so no Jr. Ranger program either).

We did visit the Chincoteague State Park (which was free with our National Parks Pass), where we spent a couple of hours.  Since several of the kids were pretty disappointed to not be able to earn a Jr Ranger badge, we asked to do the program at the state park.  It was great at Molly and Peanut’s level, but the older ones were not – there were several answers that simply were not there.  None of the bigger kids that typically like to do the ranger programs finished theirs, which is incredibly odd, and we finally just put them away and enjoyed the center.

They have a theater that offers 4 different half hour films.  The one we watched was an animal scavenger hunt; great for Caleb and Molly, but we should have asked them to change it to the history of the ponies footage (we were the only ones there).

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The visitor’s center is very well done, with displays on all sorts of local wildlife, and the staff was super nice.
DSC_0159_015They have a Bald Eagle pair that nest on Chincoteague every year.  The visitor’s center has a live footage camera where you can watch the pair in real time (it is not online).  While we were there, the momma moved off the babies, and we were the first to confirm that there were 2 live chicks (a new hatchling) and one egg left to hatch.  It was really interesting because the male came back to the nest, and the female left.  The male was eating a fish, that he had brought back with him, for a few minutes, then he looked over at the babies, looked around like, ‘where is that wife of mine???’, then went over and carefully settled himself on the chicks to keep them warm.DSC_0161_017The visitor’s center has 3 tubes like this one that have displays in them.  Next to the display is a listing of all the animals to find in the tube – the littles enjoyed finding each one.DSC_0171_027The Chincoteague Visitor’s Center was very nice – and we really liked the staff.  DSC_0177_033On the island is a lighthouse – you drive close to it (much closer than the pic) and there is a parking lot from which it is a short walk if you want to see it up close.DSC_0180_036But we were just done with the cold, and we were also looking forward to our next adventure – still miles down the road.  We loaded back up and drove for a couple of hours; through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (which is a long bridge with 2 underwater tunnels = a $13 toll for the van, $26 for the truck and 5er),

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and down to Roanoke Rapids.  We spent the night in a Lowe’s parking lot, then got up the next day and hit the road for our last stop for awhile (hey, 2 weeks IS awhile for us!).

We pulled in to Georgia on Wednesday night; since it was dark out, we again pulled into a Lowe’s and overnighted there.  We got up the next morning to check in with Samaritan’s Purse, and to check out the park where we wanted to stay.  When we got out to the RV park, they didn’t have room once they found out we had kids, and they also had an extra kid fee that wasn’t listed online.
I began to call around, and since RV parks are slim pickin’s around here, I didn’t have much luck.  A few really were full, and the others were suddenly full when they found out we had kids (and I didn’t even tell them how many!).  While I’m calling around, we are again sitting in the toy hauler in the Lowe’s parking lot.  Jake ran out to the van to get something out of it, and a guy approaches him and starts to talk to him.   Vaughn goes out, Jake comes back in, and after awhile the volatile drunk goes huffing over to the nearby fuel station.  We couldn’t leave even if we had somewhere to go – and V eventually ends up calling the police after watching this guy harassing others at the station and even trying to jump in the back of trucks as they speed off.  So, an hour later, after 4 burly policemen have a major scuffle with this guy and cuff and stuff him, we can leave.  Only we can’t because we still haven’t found a place to park.  We did eventually find a place, but the campground wouldn’t fully open, (and couldn’t accommodate our big rig) until the next day, Friday.  Another parking lot night; which isn’t bad, depending on the neighborhood! LOL!
All this time, I am just wishing there were a member campground nearby, grouchy water volleyball players, and crotchety card players, and all – I might have even hugged them while they were scowling at my littles.  How we look at our surroundings is a matter of perspective. 😉

On Friday we pulled into the nicest COE park!!!  We love it here, and I’m so glad that those private campgrounds were full.  This one is more than we had hoped to spend while we were down here, but we didn’t have a choice, and it really is a fabulous place for the rest of us, who are too young to volunteer (notice how I said us, implying I’m too young too 😉 ), to spend a week and a half.
This is our site…
DSC_0207_063Which was super easy to get into, and is gorgeous!  And both the campground hosts, and gate attendants, are over the top sweet!

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We don’t have full hookups, but we do have water and electric, and the bathhouses are nearby so the bigger kids can walk.  There is also a small laundry mat, which will be great for staying caught up since Jake and I did the laundry while we were parked at Lowe’s.  14 day’s worth.  It was scary. (If you ever visit Augusta, Georgia, Lucy’s Laundry is wonderful!  Clean, large machines, attendant, change machine, inexpensive)
Our site is right on the edge of the lake, and Vaughn already had the littles out in the kayaks last night.
DSC_0219_075The bigs and V got up at 6 this morning and went in today for their first day of ice storm cleanup.  They’ll be running chainsaws (well, just V probably) and hauling off the brush.  I’ll post pics for you later, but for now, these little girls and Caleb are ready for a trip to the playground, which is right down from our site, so we are off to play.  <3

Lilla Rose

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Comments

  1. Dana Hamblin says:

    Dana,

    Great blog!! I’ve enjoyed reading and following you guys over the past couple of years. We have 5 kids (11/13 year olds still at home) and will return to the States in 11 months to start our RV lifestyle. You guys post some really great info and tips as well. Your post on “Travel Products” is excellent and we’ll go through your site to order most of them as they fit our needs as well. We really hope to meet you on the road in the future. I’ve gotten to know Chad Swinford well in the past year via Skype and learning that he’s from my hometown. He spoke very highly of your family. He mentioned meeting up with you guys when he and his family were on the road a couple years back.

    Kind regards,
    – Dana Hamblin

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