Monday, December 19, 2011

Florida panhandle

I last posted from the southeastern tip of Georgia just a few miles north of the Florida border.  We next took a rather long jaunt into the panhandle of Florida.  Twenty years ago we had visited the area from Panama City to Destin and loved the beaches and little towns so we found a campground within driving distance (not so expensive like the ones on the beach).  We found that the beaches still have that amazing fluffy white sand and are just as beautiful.  What has changed is the cities have grown out of control.  Back then Destin was a small, nice little town but it is now a major traffic laden city.  I guess that is to be expected but I can't help but feel it is too bad.

The campground search had landed us near DeFuniak Springs.  This turned out to be one of those lucky stumbles.  We had a nice campground pretty much to ourselves and DeFuniak Springs turned out to be one of those little historic gems that we love.  It has 250 buildings on the National Register of Historic places, many of which line a round lake in the middle of town.  We took the historic walking tour around the lake on one walk and walked around a couple other times at night to enjoy the Christmas decorations (the display in the park boasts 6 million lights).

DeFuniak Springs Library

Chautauqua Building

Cottage on Lake DeFuniak

House on Lake DeFuniak
We have now ventured about 100 miles west of there in Alabama.  We are about half way betwen Pensacola and Mobile.  We'll be here a month with plans to visit things in Pensacola, Mobile and Gulf Coast after the holidays.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Golden Isles of Georgia

Old Glynn County courthouse
From Charleston we made the relatively short drive to the "Golden Isles" of Georgia for a couple of weeks.  The drive was nice and easy on Hwy 17 and then we got onto I-95 south.  Wow, the traffic on the Sunday after Thanksgiving was something else and we were glad we weren't going very far.  We got settled into our campground in time to drive into Brunswick to check out the historic district.  There wasn't much to it compared to other old towns but the old county courthouse was really cool.  Unfortunately I forgot my camera so I'm borrowing a little one off the web.

Cottage on Jekyll Island
The next weekend we visited Jekyll Island.  Our first stop was the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.  The coast from northern Florida up along Georgia and into South Carolina is a nesting area for sea turtles.  The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a turtle hospital with a visitor center which was very informative.  We enjoyed visiting the patients and learning the stories of their rescues and hopes for release back into the wild.  (

Jekyll Island Club
Next we visited the historic district of the island.  In 1886 the entire island was purchased by the "Jekyll Island Club" which was comprised of a group of the wealthiest people in the country.  They built a "club house" and many built "cottages".  The buildings, as you can imagine, were extravagant.  It was a beautiful day to walk around the buildings and try to imagine how it was back then. (

Driftwood beach
We left the historic district and drove out to "driftwood beach".  The beach is named for the piles of large driftwood logs on the beach. 

Fort Frederica
On Saturday we went to St. Simons Island following a driving tour provided in a brochure.  We did a quick drive down the Avenue of Oaks, checked out the beach, and went to Fort Frederica National Monument. The monument was at the site of a British fort and the second city founded in Georgia (after Savannah) in 1736.  There was very little left standing but there were a lot of building foundations and city streets were marked allowing the imagination to roam. (  After the Fort we went down to the St. Simons Island Village to check it out and have some lunch.

This weekend we planned to go to Cumberland Island but the weather wasn't cooperative.  We didn't want to walk around in the rain and cold north wind for 4 hours.  Instead we visited historic St. Mary's, a small town on the coast.  There are a number of very old homes with history dating as far back as the war of 1812.  They are still working on getting the information out but we got enough to enjoy it.  We were lucky enough to walk around during a break in the rain.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Myrtle Beach - Charleston

Boardwalk and beach
Huntington Beach
After a great visit to the Smoky Mountains it was time to head down to the ocean and our first visit to South Carolina.  On Nov. 13 we drove to Myrtle Beach to check it out.  I had not realized how commercialized or how many miles long it is.  It is at least 35 miles of continuous commercial attractions, if you include the continuous string of towns north and south of the city of Myrtle Beach.  We learned that people (women) love to come to shop.  There are numerous malls and beach shops.  And for the family experience, there are huge performance venues, i.e. Carolina Opry, Pirates Voyage, Medieval Times, and over-the-top miniature golf courses.
Huntington Beach state park

Along the boardwalk
We stayed for 10 days and took 5 walks along the beach.  On the weekend we went to Huntington Beach State Park where we took an inland walk and saw a couple of alligators soaking up some sun; we toured an old estate/home that did not impress us much; and we walked a board walk out into the tidal area to view the changing tide and wildlife.  We went to the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk area where we got lucky to score an outside lunch table with an ocean view.

Angel Oak
On the day before Thanksgiving we made the relatively short move to Charleston.  The campground we stayed at held a Thanksgiving potluck meal.  The campground provided the fried turkeys and everyone else provided a huge variety of food.  It was quite the feast while I listened to the Packer/Lions game on the radio.  After the meal and the Packer game we made a short trip to view a gigantic Oak tree called the Angel Oak.  It is estimated to be 1,500 years old and its canapy covers a full acre.  Truly one of natures wonders.

Heyward-Washington House
from back garden
The day after Thanksgiving we went into Charleston.  We started with a guided coach tour, then walked through the historic area.  We visited the Charleston Museum and toured two historic homes.  The tour of the Heyward-Washington house was our favorite.  The home was built in 1772 and is still the original home!  President Washington stayed there and they have priceless furniture made in the 1740s!  It was a goose bump tour.

Boone Hill plantation - Slave Street

Avenue of Oaks entering
 Boone Hall Plantatio
On Saturday we went to the Boone Hill plantation.  We thoroughly enjoyed this visit as well.  The home wasn't that old (1935) but it is a reproduction of a plantation home with period furnishings from the early 1800s.  We had a good tour guide telling the story of the lifestyle.  The really awesome part was the original slave homes from the late 1700s.  They had each of them setup to provide different historical information about the life of slaves and the history of slavery.  It was very informative and interesting.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On to North Carolina

We had a very nice drive through Kentucky and Tennessee to western North Carolina.  Rolling hills covered with colorful fall leaves on a sunny day, very pleasant.  We stayed at a campground about 25 miles from Asheville and 15 miles from Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  The area is hardwood covered hills (mountains?) with streams flowing in all the valleys between.
Great Smoky Mountains

We took a beautiful drive through the National Park but Ann thought the miles of up and down winding road was a bit nerve racking.  We hiked to the highest point in the park and a few other view points.  The Appalachian Trail goes right down the center of the park along the ridge of the mountain which also happens to be the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina.  We walked the trail for a bit just to check out the condition for future hiking.  We drove the Blue Ridge Parkway for a while and it was also very beautiful.

Another wonderful time was spent touring the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  What a magnificent place!  It is hard to think of it as someone's home when it is so large - the house alone covers 4 acres.  It made me think of a palace in Europe, which I guess makes sense since that is what it was modeled after.  I highly recommend a visit to anyone that hasn't seen it.
Biltmore Estate

Friday, November 4, 2011

Michigan wrap-up

We had a great stay in Michigan visiting with family and friends, going to Pulaski Days, taking in a Ferris hockey game and attended Drew and Kate's wedding.  With the weather getting cold, it was time to head south.

We headed south on October 28.  We shot down pretty much straight south to Park City Kentucky, gateway to Mammoth Cave.  We arrived Tuesday afternoon to warmer weather and we are far enough south to see another round of leaves changing.  There's nothing like experiencing the best part of Fall twice!

Over the weekend we did two different cave tours.  Honestly, we've seen some beautiful caves so this doesn't rank real high with us as there are very few formations or color.  Pictures, of what?  It's claim to fame is size, not character.  We took some walks in the woods to enjoy some beautiful fall weather.  It had been a long time since we had walked through dense crunchy leaves while getting bombarded by falling leaves. It was great.

We are heading to the Asheville NC area tomorrow.  We'll be right on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, looking forward to it!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

To the L.P.

On September 8th we went "down below" to the lower peninsula to a reunion of college friends in Bay City.  We had a great weekend on Saginaw Bay visiting, reminiscing and watching Michigan beat Notre Dame (had to slip that in).  We stayed the next week to have a couple minor repairs done on our home and then headed to the west side on the 16th.  We'll be hanging out north of Grand Rapids for 5 weeks until we head south for the winter. 

I most likely won't be posting until we hit the road again in late October.  We'll just be hanging out with family and friends.  Chilling, visiting (working, ugh) and taking a reprieve from driving. 

I'll take this opportunity to post a new map of the travels so far.  Since we left Phoenix June 4 the motor-home has gone 4,370 miles.  The car has put on around 4,000 miles of its own not including being towed all of the miles the motor-home was driven.  The green line on the map is this years travels, the blue line was last summer.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Eastern U.P.

Our stay in Cedarville has been quiet and pleasant.  We've had campground visitors (see pictures) regularly which help show how peaceful the place is.  I've twice see large hawks or eagles fly over with fish in their talons. 

On Friday we drove up to Sault Ste. Marie to see the Soo Locks.  We were lucky to see a ship go through without having to wait a long time.  I forgot my camera so no picture for this experience.

Grand Hotel
View from Mackinac Island
Saturday the weather was bad until late so we just drove to St. Ignace to get out of the house.

Sunday morning we got going early and went to Mackinac Island before the forecasted afternoon showers and to try to beat the crowd.  We had a wonderful time walking around checking out the "cottages", Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac, historic buildings and the town.  They have done an awesome job all over the island maintaining very old buildings.  Fort Mackinac is incredible with original buildings dating back to the late 1700s and early 1800s.  By 2:00 the island was a mob scene so we bailed and headed back on the 3:00 ferry.
Fort Mackinac
"Cottages" on Mackinac Island

Monday morning was time for the Labor Day Mackinac Bridge walk.  Ann chose not to walk it so she got drop-off, pick-up duty.  It was cloudy, cold (45 degrees and 12-15 mph wind) but fortunately the wind was out of the north and thus at my back.
Bridge walk

Next weekend we'll be moving "down below" to Bay City before heading to the western side of the state the following weekend.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


View from Munising campground
We had a nice short drive from Houghton to Munising on Friday the 26th.  We stayed at the Munising Tourist Park which is a nice campground right on Lake Superior just west of Munising.  We had another nice view from the campsite - we're on a roll!

Sand Point
View from scenic overlook on west
edge of Munising

On Saturday we decided not to do the Pictured Rocks boat ride again but instead see things by foot.  We started out by stopping for pasties at Muldoons and eating them at Munising Falls (pasties were good).  We drove along the shore to Sand Point and then headed to Miners Castle.  All stuff we've done but it had been 27 years. 

Miners Castle
We got back to town in time for the Shipwreck glass bottom boat tour.  This is not something we had done before so we decided to do this for something different.  It was actually pretty cool as the wrecks were in shallow water so the view through the glass bottom was only about 10 feet or less away. 

We took a little time on Sunday to enjoy our lake side view before heading to Cedarville.  We are now at Loons Point RV Park and, yet again, have a waterfront campsite.  This time on Lake Huron with the Les Cheneaux Islands across the water.  We will be here until September 8 when we drive to Bay City.
Bonus at Miners Castle lookout

Our view at Loons Point, Cedarville

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Keweenaw peninsula

View from campsite
 We drove from the Apostle Islands to Houghton, MI on Friday the 19th.  It was a nice drive as we reminisced about old times skiing, camping and honeymooning in the U.P..  It was also relatively short compared to our travel days the last month so it was stress free. 

We stayed at the City of Houghton RV Park and had a site right on Portage Lake.  It was great to have a nice view again.  There was a riverfront walk that goes for miles along the shore so we also had a great place to go on long walks. 

Old Calumet fire station

Lake Superior near Eagle River
Saturday we drove up the peninsula through Eagle River and Eagle Harbor, up Brockway Mountain Drive to Copper Harbor.  It was as beautiful a drive as ever, one of our favorite on the planet.  All the history of mining boom towns but now quiet, peaceful and beautiful.  We ate dinner at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge and were delighted to find the lodge was as nice as ever.
Eagle Harbor
Copper Harbor from Brockway
Mountain Drive

On Sunday we decided we were tired of driving and decided to just walk.  We walked a couple miles along the waterfront and then walked back through old town Houghton.  We enjoyed reading all the signs highlighting historic buildings and activities from the mid-1800s to mid-1900s.  There are lots of really nice buildings dating back to the 1800s still well maintained and in use.  It was great to see.  We stumbled upon a real learning experience as we discovered "The Birthplace of Professional Hockey".  It turns out the first paid hockey team was in Houghton.  They started the first professional league and won the first "World Championship" of hockey all 13 years before the NHL started forming.  It was short lived but still cool stuff to learn if you are a hockey nut like me.

Calumet Theater

When we went through Calumet on Saturday the Calumet Theater was not open so we drove back up during the week to get a tour.  This is a great piece of mining boom times history.  Too grand a story to tell here so I'll just say "go see it" and the area.  I'll wrap up this post with the statement, if you love history and beautiful scenery then spend some time in the Keweenaw Peninsula and take it all it.  Stop at the visitor center in Calumet to get information on all the great things to see.

Pasty watch - we loved the pasties at Connie's Kitchen in Calumet but they were edged out by Kangas in Hancock due to the buttery crust.  Shout out to Ann Marie for the tip.

I can never decide what pictures to include.  Here are a few more.

Courthouse (1889) still in use in
Why do I always have to take a
picture of the snow meter? Looks like
a new record low last year.
54 year avg snowfall is 240 inches!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Apostle Islands

Ride to Raspberry Island
We had a wonderful (almost) two weeks near Bayfield, WI and the Apostle Islands.  Having the view of water and islands out the window and from the campsite, great weather and the crisp clean air was truly living the dream.  We took a lot of walks around Bayfield and the harbor and thoroughly enjoyed the quaint little town.  We drove around to various places to hike and enjoy the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.

Raspberry Island Lighthouse
Saturday afternoon was spent taking a boat ride to Raspberry Island to see a restored lighthouse.  We were on the island 2 hours so we had time to hike to a beach and enjoy a great view of the water and other islands.

Sundays activity was taking a little drive for a hike to see the sea caves carved by waves along the Lake Superior shore and spend some time on a beach.

Our main concentration on this stop was to spend a lot of time just relaxing and taking it all in.

It's time to move on to Houghton, MI now where we'll spend a couple of days roaming the Keweenaw peninsula.  Another one of our favorite places of all time.