| Sept.9, 2004 -- Bolingbrook, IL|
The start of it all - We left Bolingbrook with some excitement and some nervousness. Our previous trips in the motorhome included a short weekend at Morrison-Rockwood State Park and a week's trip to Sioux Falls, SD for the purpose of getting drivers' licenses and registering our vehicles. We were now officially residents of South Dakota.
We had planned to start our journey with a trip to visit relatives we hadn't seen in several years because of jobs or other commitments. We stopped in Alabama to visit my sister and nephew; Virginia Beach to visit another sister and brother-in-law; Florida to visit our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters; also in Florida to visit my aunt and uncle. The time we spent with family was regrettably short, but very enjoyable and we plan to visit again. Just fair warning to you all if you are reading this.
| Sept.10-21, 2004 -- |
Our first destination was Birmingham, AL to visit my sister Karen and her family. The trip to Alabama took us through some small Indiana and Kentucky towns. Sorry, no pictures. I'm not good with remembering to take pictures - guess I will have to change that. We stopped at the Nashville Country RV Park in the Nashville area for a couple of days. It was at this park that I was introduced to the wonders of wireless internet. I was able to buy a small USB wireless card for my computer and it has been a great thing to have. I had my old desktop computer set up on the table in the dining area and it was without wireless capabilities. This was during the Hurricane Ivan timeframe, so we decided to stay a little longer to wait out the bad weather. We stayed a week, then went straight to Birmingham. I had never been to Alabama and found it to be a beautiful state. Had an enjoyable visit with Karen and her son Jonathon, then headed south again.
|Sept.21-Oct.4, 2004 -- |
During our time in the Spring Hill area, I visited the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs. Tarpon Springs is a Greek community where many make their living diving for sponges. The main street was lined with Greek restaurants and stores selling sponges of all varieties and sizes. My daughter and I took a sightseeing boat toward the Gulf where we saw pelicans sitting on the pier, and a white sailboat on the beautiful waters of the Gulf. We saw many other things as well, but I don't have any pictures as evidence. While in the Spring Hill area, we stayed at Three Lakes RV Resort. This is a fairly new park, with 310 park model sites and 200+ rv sites. All roads and parking sites are paved and it was a pleasant stay. Our rv site was bordering one of the lakes and there were many interesting birds around that I had never seen in Illinois. After two weeks, we took a side trip down to Sarasota, FL to visit my aunt and uncle. Bad timing for this decision, as we found ourselves riding out Hurricane Jeanne while parked in a Sam's Club lot with 5 or 6 other motorhomes and fifth wheels. We left the slides in because it seemed as though it would be easy for the wind to get under them and tip us over. Our motorhome rocked and rolled a lot but came through it fairly well. We parked with our entrance door about four feet from another motorhome and this provided a calm spot in the storm. The wind was blowing almost horizontally, so the area between our homes was free from any wind or rain. Hurricane Jeanne was an experience that was new to me, and one I don't plan to repeat anytime soon.
| Oct.5-Oct.19, 2004 -- |
On the way to Virginia, we stopped at Folkston, Georgia for a few days. Folkston is a small town, but it is a railroad hub with trains coming through town every fifteen minutes - day and night. For train lovers, there is a platform in town from which a person can watch the trains go through and listen to the communications from the engineer that are heard by way of loud speakers on the platform. Folkston is also near the Okefenokee Swamp. While driving through the park, we caught sight of an alligator keeping watch from a pool of water at the side of the road. He didn't look happy to see us. This leg of our trip took us through Hollywood, South Carolina; Wagram, North Carolina; and Wytheville,Virginia. We stopped in Lexington, VA for a couple of days to receive our mail. This area near the Appalachian Mountains is beautiful. The tree-covered mountains were beginning to change color. The town of Lexington was quaint and made you feel as though you were visiting the revolutionary war era. Numerous colonial style buildings made of red brick. I could almost see horse-drawn carriages on the streets. Again, no decent pictures of Lexington to include in this section.
| Oct.19-Nov.23, 2004--|
Our stay in Virginia Beach was great. We were able to get a good look at the boardwalk section of town since it was October and it wasn't crowded. We had an enjoyable visit with my sister Sandy and her husband Ed. Went to dinner at a pizza restaurant and it was great. We hadn't had good pizza since we left Illinois in September.
After a short stay in Virginia Beach, we found ourselves backtracking a little as we headed west. This next leg will take us to Wilson, NC; Asheville, NC and Townville. SC. In Asheboro, North Carolina we stayed at Deep River Campground. The campground had a small lake and a trail around the lake for hiking. Our campsite at this park was near the lake and the two local residents (two ducks) came to our campsite whenever we were outside to beg for food. They were really cute and friendly. Also, at this campground, our oldest dog (Patty) became ill. She had an "old-dog" ailment -- vestibular desease. Poor dog - her equilibrium was off and she walked in a drunken wobble. We thought she had had a stroke (very rare in dogs) so we went to the local vet. Thankfully, a little TLC and medicine (Prednisone and an antibiotic) helped her overcome this condition. Her improvement took several weeks, however, so this stay became the first of many longer stays. We were in Asheboro for a month. About 30 miles from Asheboro are the towns of High Point and Thomasville (Thomasville furniture). High Point is the "Home Furnishings Capital of the World" and the town features many furniture showrooms, museums, and antique outlets. But my favorite feature of High Point is the "World's Largest Chest of Drawers". In 1926, to call attention to High Point as the furniture capital, a building was constructed to look like a dresser(complete with a sock hanging out of a drawer). When it was first built, it was called the "Bureau" of Information. I love a good play on words!
Here we are at the final leg of 2004. Having spent some time with the people we wanted to see, we now changed our goals. The most important goal became finding a warm spot for the winter. We have had our fill of cold and snowy winters, but having never traveled in the winter, we weren't sure what direction to choose. We also wanted to continue traveling rather than spend the entire winter in one spot. Should we go back to Florida or head west? I guess in hindsight, that was an easy decision. The southwest has always been my favorite section of the country. With this in mind, we headed toward Interstate 10. To get there, we spent a couple of days in Townville, SC; a couple of days in Auburn, AL; and a month in Foley AL. Foley is in southern Alabama, near the Gulf of Mexico. We stayed at the Magnolia Springs Golf and RV Park (no, we don't golf). The RV park was crowded with people who winter in Gulf Shores, AL. However, the parks in Gulf Shores were closed due to the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Ivan. While in foley, we traveled around through the small towns of southern Alabama and found it be a beautiful area. Unfortunately, the tourist areas of Gulf Shores and Pensacola, FL were in total disarray. Even though I had heard stories of hurricane damage, I wasn't prepared for the destruction I saw around me. I can't wait to go back there to see Gulf Shores after order has been restored.
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