East Coast Trip
May 12, 2004 Wednesday $0 Left for the East Coast at about 10 am and traveled to Galesburg, Il and stayed in Wal-mart lot. The manager suggested the back lot which is used very little and at one end of it is their loading area. It is well lighted and a great spot.
May 13, 2004 Thursday $16 We arrived at the Dayton Hamvention about 4 pm EDT. We got parked in our usual dry camping spot next to the trees to the west and just across the street and a bit to the west of Hara Arena. Curt came over and we had supper.
May 14 2004 Friday. $16 Dave and Curt showed up early and we got our HT's organized for communication and went over to the Hamvention. They were about 15 minutes late in opening the gates. We had a good day with no rain other than a few sprinkles a couple of times. The crowd seemed to be down. Curt took us out to supper
May 15, 2004 Saturday $0 Dave and Curt stayed over night. We had hot showers and headed into the Hamvention. It was wet, muddy and raining so we had to wear our rain coasts. We spent the day inside and in tents out in the flea market area. We found a number of good deals and I found virtually everything on my list We had supper with Dave and Curt and then we all headed out. Curt got a new radio and found out his microphone may have been causing his lock up problems with his HT. On the way out we talked on 440 and the coverage to Curts HT was much better than I would of expected. We stayed at Wal-Mart at Zanesville, OH There sure were a lot of cars with loud mufflers.
May 16, 2004 Sunday $39.60 We had a good drive into Washington DC. We were surprised by the number of trees and hills in Eastern Ohio. We had some traffic where we rejoined I-70 for a few miles. We actually came to a stop for awhile. On the beltway we also ran into a lot of traffic, some stop and go. We found Cherry Hill RV park all OK and got our Good Sam's discount so that at least got it back to $39.60. We have been told they are very helpful and they were just that. We decided on Monday we would go early and learn the bus and subway (metro) and go to the Tanzania Embassy and try and get our VISA's
May 17, 2004 Monday $39.60 We met a fellow who lives in the park. He said once you stay for a couple of months and them come back you can rent for $200 a week so for Washington DC that is a good deal. One would have to do some winterization if you were to be there the coldest months. Some of there help are full time Rvers who stay there for the season. He gave us good info on the Metro, confirmed some things and warned us to be sure we got on the Metro going the way we were going. We got the fare ticket machine figured out. You look up the fare and get a ticket for that amount of money. I thought it would be a ticket from point A to point B but not so, all fares are based on money. We got our tickets, made a change from the Green line to the Red line and got to Dupont Circle and left the Metro and walked to the embassy. We were early but talked to a couple of people who worked there and found out we had a good chance of getting our VISA today yet rather than having to wait until tomorrow. The VISA desk did not open until about 9:30am We went to the Kenya office but found they opened at the same time so we went back and they let us into the office early into the reception room so we got our papers organized and watched a video on Tanzania they put in for us that was very good. The receptionist told us if we give her our papers she would get them ready for John who issued the VISA's. When he came about 9:45 am we talked to him and he said if we came back at 1 pm he would have the VISA's ready. Actually a VISA is stamped into your passport and is valid for a specified time. In this case we needed 6 month so it still would be effective vhen we get to Tanzania as the VISA starts as of today. We also got a good deal of literature on Tanzania. We went back to the Kenya Embassy and got some literature and found out they issured VISA's while you wait so we probably should of went there first but anyway they assured us we could get it at the airport in Narirobi 24 hours a day and they would take US dollars and that since we were going to Tanzania we would not need a multiple entry VISA. We also got some excellent literature and map on Kenya. We then headed for the Metro and went to the National Zoo and seen the Panda's and other things. We then went back to the Tanzania Embassy and the secretary called John on the telephone and he came down and had our passports with the VISA's in them so it was a done deal. While we were there they got a whole box full of VISA applications. We then went to the downtown Capital Mall area and went the the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and seen the Mall. We then took the Metro back to Cherry Hill. We did have to wait for the bus for Cherry Hill quite a while at the Metro. It was a hot day and Edith did not like the heat The mettro has four routes of different color codes, ie red, yellow, orange and green. If you study the map you can figure out where they cross and if you need to make a transfer. At stops where more than one line runs you can get on and off of each one at that stop but of course at a different level. If you read the signs, look at the map and pay attention to which way the Metro you get on is going you won't have any trouble. If you are early and can't use the all day pass yet for $6 and you end up short of fare you can buy "EXIT" fare for what you are short. Also if you are long you can put your ticket in a machine and it will refund the unused portion. If I lived here I sure would use the METRO rather than fighting the traffic when ever possible. It was clean and safe. They only stop about 30 seconds at a stop and get up to speed very quickly. I would say they go at least 50 mph. It sure does not take long to get across town anyway!
May 18, 2004 Tuesday $39.60 We took the Grayline DC 9 hour tour and seen many of the federal buildings and went to Mount Vernon where George Washington lived and toured his home. We had a very reasonable dinner at the Country Buffet. We had a very informative bus driver. He never quit talking it seemed so we learned a lot. In the afternoon we seen embassy row, Lincoln Vietnam and Korean Memorial and Arlington Cemetary. Both going and coming from Cherry Hill they had a Grayline shuttle bus and the traffic was terrible both ways so certainly it is worth the money to take the tours out of CherryHill and made the higher CG fee worth it. Once you get your feet on the ground you can get an all day subway pass for $6 each that is good from 9:30 am on during week days and all day Sat and Sun but of course everything is pretty much closed on the week ends.
May 19, 2004 Wednesday $39.60 We took the so called BC tour. Acturally we had the two day G tour which is the best deal for the money at $80 each for the 2 days. If you did it oun your own you would have the fare to Union Station, addmission to Mt. Vernon, Parking fees, have to walk much, much farther that you do from the bus so you really are paying about $20 a day for a 9 hour bus tour over doing it yourself. If you were to go to Mt. Vernon you would have to drive and driving is a real hassle to there. We got to tour the Capital, seen some duplication but not that much riding around in the bus, seen FDR and the WWII Memorial(just opened) On the Capital tour we found out if you asked you could also get a pass to see the Senate chambers so we did that. We were supposed to be back at the bus at 1 pm. We got there 10 minutes earlier but the bus was not there. It turned out the rest of our group did not figure out you could go to the Senate chambers so they left and got on the bus and he left about 15 minutes early not counting to see if everyone was there. Fortunately I remember him saying where they would eat dinner which was next; unfortunately it was about 1.5 miles away at the Museum of American History. Fortunately it was not hot and in fact raining a little. It was a long walk for Edith but we found some of our group there and found out where the bus would be and that it was leaving at 3 pm. I told the bus driver I did not appreciate him leaving early and not counting. He got all defensive and said he did not which was a LIE but I decided to just let it lie and chaulk it up to things that happen. I guess the lesson to be learned is to carry a cellphone and have the bus drvers number or if he won't give it to you the bus drivers dispatcher so you can get them to come back and pick you up or at least know where to catch them. We needed to find them as our stuff was on the bus. Another good idea would be to buddy up with some one to watch out for each other so you buddy can have the driver wait if he tries to leave early and you are not there. I don't have a problem with being left when one is late but when you are 10 minutes early that is not right but we are now wiser as to some precautions to take. It makes no sense to always have to be back 15 minutes early just to safeguard something like this happening as it would rarely happen again. The better course of action is the cell phone and buddy system. We then got to see the White House, Ford Theatre and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum so it was a full day. One other tip it would be a good idea to take along umbrellas as one could leave them in the bus if it were not raining. It is not like you would have to carry them around all day. We did not get by cheap for lunch today. About $15 for the two of us and we had a hamburger, small bag of chips and a candy bar so much more typical of Washington, DC. I have been able to get my e-mail in good shape The row houses with common walls are all over Washington, DC They certainly don't give you a lot of room. It is amazing what houses cost in the historical areas. They are small and crowed, I sure would not pay that kind of money if I had it.
May 20, 2004 Thursday $26 We decided we had had enough of Washington DC as there we very little left that we wanted to see. By taking the tours we seen and did a lot in a very short time. Cherry Hill CG is great, they refunded our money in full for the extra day. They have swimming pools, big screen TV, sauna, laundry, store, big RV store, and other recreation things. They have WI-FI or dial up data ports. As a side note I see Loves is getting inot WI-FI. We left about 9:30 am and it was a pleasant surprise the beltway was moving right along so we were able to make good time and got on Highway 50 going east across the Chesepeake Bay bridge, $7.50 toll for us with the 5th and on over into eastern MD. We ran into a good deal of large scale farming and that continued into Delaware. We reached our campground at the Delaware Seashores State park south of Rahoboth, Delaware. We had reservations for Friday and Saturday night and found that same spot was open tonight so we got it. It is a cool, cloudy day, about 70 degrees and with the sea breeze nice and cool.
May 21, 2004 Friday $26 We spent the day at the 5th relaxing, this certainly is a fishing spot with the Indian River Outlet into the ocean. The tide really gets the water churning. There is a highway #1 bridge across it. At this point the barrier island is only about 1/4 mile. The channel which has been rocked for the river is maybe an 1/8 of a mile wide. It was foggy and cloudy all day. We did walk to the east under the bridge and found there is beach across the river to the north for as far as the eye can see toward Rehoboth and also to the south. I walked about a mile to the south. Apparently you can fish in the ocean, surf fishing with no license. If you want to get your vehicle on the beach to fish you need a permit. Fishing had not been very good but to the south a fellow had caught quite a few small sharks. Toward evening the week end campers started asrriving so where there was a lot of room we now have tents on both sides of us which is good as it would be really crowed if they were RV's. The spots are pretty tight for RV's but everyone seem polite and friendly and observe quite hours very well. It was quite sleeping.
May 22, 2004 Saturday $26 Today we are going back north to Lewis, DE and go over to NJ on the Lewis/Cape May ferry as foot passengers. For $20 each we get round trip ferry tickets, a shuttle bus to downtown and a trolley tour of downtown Cape May to see all the Victorian homes that were primarily built in the 1800's by families as summer homes from various places but especially Philadelphia. They are multi-story and very ornate! Some are very large and very unusual. There are of course lots of shops and a good beach that people have come to since the 1700's. The ferry ride is about 70 minutes each way but saves several hours driving time. It was a nice day, we seen some porpoises on the trip over and back. We had a seafood dinner back in Rehoboth, got diesel fuel for 1.70 which is the best we have seen since before Washington, DC. I got some good pictures of the beach, CG and fishing as it is nice and sunny today.
May 23, 2004 Sunday $14 Loft MT. Today we traveled about 360 miles. We really did not want to back track the way we came to Washington, DC and over to Shenandoah NP. It would of saved about 100 miles or more but maybe not that much time with the traffic around Washington, DC so we decided to go where we had never been so we went south along the Delaware coast into MD and across the Chesapeake Bay which is a very long bridge with some tunnels. We think the tunnels were so big boats could get through. Once we got to the Newport News area we headed back to the NW on I-64 and eventually a bit more west than NW and ended up just east of Charlotsville, Virginia. We headed north and west and came into Shenandoah NP at Swift River Gap. It is a pretty good climb, had to go to low gear to pull the 5th. We then went back south about 15 miles to Loft Mountain CG which had all kinds of room. I thought it would be OK this early but one always wonders a bit as we have seen a lot of NP CG full. All but one in the park are first come, first serve. I am now optomistic we can get into parks all the way south and we have reservations in the Great Smoky Mt. NP for Memorial Day week end so we should be fine. We had trouble coming up with change for the CG so I hiked down to the store and was able to get change. We also got our $50 annual NP pass so we are set until the end of May 2005. After my birthday in 2006 I will be 62 so I can get the golden age passport for life for $10 and most CG such as this one will be half price so that will cheapen things up.
The Blue Ridge Mt. are the eastern rampart to the Appalacians and the Appalacian Trail goes along Skyline Drive here in the park and follows the 469 Blue Ridge Parkway which starts at the south end of the park. I hiked the section of the trail by the CG, it comes up from the south and then loops back around the south edge of the CG and then along the east side and on to the north. The trail here anyway has cement posts at trail intersections with a galvanized metal band around the top of the post with names and arrows and distance to things along the trail and lets you know which is south and north and how far to the next point or points along the trail. Here by the CG are arrows to the CG and CG store. Along the Appalacian Trail quite often a white mark is on a tree about 2" wide and 4" long, probably white latex paint which won't hurt the tree so with those and the occasional cement posts with the metal bands one should not get off the tail. I expected the trail to be more traveled, ie show more evidence of lots of traffic. In comparison to a lot of trail I have been on it seemed only moderately traveled; although possibly people omit the loop around the CG and cut across over to the CG store or stay in the CG and go out the northeast side. That would cut of about 3/4 of a mile and I am sure with the trail maps and guides that are available this is pretty obvious and likely mentioned.
It is worth noting that these CG are built for smaller RV's. We tried pulling into a spot and it turned out to be sharper through the trees than it appeared. I though I had clearance on the turn but could see I did not and I could not swing wider because of trees on the other side so I stopped. I had been checking the mirrors and it appeared I had good clearance yet but in bending down so I could see higher up toward the top of the 5th I noticed the tree was close so in getting out I found the 5th was into the tree that was leaning and I had bent the trim slightly. We backed out and found a better spot. I got up on the 5th and was able to bend the rain gutter out with a pliers so nothing much hurt other than if you look real close there are a few scratches but one will never notice them unless you know where to look. It certainly was a blessing that I stopped when I did. Another inch and the damage would of been significant. The lesson learned is I just have to always have Edith get out with the HT and help me watch and I can hear her on the radio in the F-350. We have seen several deer, some trees are in blossom and the smell is very nice. There are lots of birds singing. There are also bear here. The famous Shenandoah Valley and river are to the west. Actually there are two forks of the river that join north of the park as the Shenandoah. Apparently the river flows north in this area. Tomorrow we will backtrack the 15 miles and go on north I think about another 80 miles to the north end of the park, Mile Post ZERO and then return and stay here again tomorrow night before heading south. The highest point along the road is 3680 and the highest mountain is 4015 feet. We met a couple that are full timers next to us from NY originally and now HQ out of Myrtle Beach, SC. They said the CG to the south are tighter and even more hilly than this one so we will have to pay attention. E-mail via the radio works good here as we are high and in the clear. It was hot and humid down on the flat land but up here it is 10 degrees cooler and definitely not as humid. It got into the low 80's at the peak about 4 pm but cooled down quickly so we just used the fans.
May 24, 2004 Monday $14 Loft Mt. We traveled north on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah NP to Port Royal, milepost # 0. It is along the Blue Ridge, it was pretty hazy due to air pollution but one could see the Shenandoah Valley out to the west, actually the south fork of the river. The north fork is a bit farther west. It flows north and the two forks come together just north of Port Royal and the Shenandoah Valley continues to the north. It is a very pretty area with rolling hills in the valley between the mountains. Many Civil War battles were fought here. Va was a part of the Confederate states and Stonewall Jackson troops spent a lot of time in the valley. The valley is changing, going away from agriculture and going to a place to live on an acreage. There are many beautiful homes. We drove back south on Highway # 340 which follows the South Fork of the Shenandoah. I had hoped to see more of the landscape up close that we seen from a distance on Skyline Drive but the trees prevented one from seeing as much as we would of liked but it is a pretty drive. Both of these drives would be spectacular with the foliage change around October 20th. Another good drive would be to go north of Port Royal along the Shenandoah River. Skyline Drive has a 35 mph speed limit and plenty of pull offs where you can see out to the east and west and lots of interesting history on the signs. There are some great limestone caves around Luray and in the valley.
May 25, 2004 Tuesday- $14 Today we traveled to Peaks of Otter CG about 110 miles. What was really unusual was that for the whole trip from 8 am until about noon hour ONLY ONE car came up from behind us and that was it. It was really nice not having anyone behind so we did not have to be concerned of holding up anyone behind us. It appears that getting CG sites is not going to be a problem at all on the parkway as there are only 3 rigs here and it is past 4 pm. We got here about noon, had some dinner and took the F-350 to the Natural Bridge of Va. It was well worth the trip and as a part of the $10 admission you can hike along a nature trail by Cedar Creek. It was not bad. The Natural Bridge is very high and massive and Hwy 11 actually goes over the top of it so that is different. There is a lot of what I would call Tourist trap stuff around the falls and we did not do those things. On the way back since we just had the F-350 we came over about 20 miles of the Parkway where we had been earlier. We went from the lowest point on the road in VA to the highest. On Thunder Ridge we took the turn off and walked the loop trail, very short and got a great view out to the north.
May 26, 2004 Wednesday-$14 Julian Price-This was a much bigger day about 216 miles which on a winding, up and down road with 45 mph speed limit it takes quite awhile. The road at Roanoke and south is actually fairly flat and has mostly gentle curves. I will say the road all the way to Julian Price CG was not as up and down as the first day but then maybe we are getting used to it. The scenery is nice and it seemed a bit clearer today in regards to the haze. The Marby Mill was the highlight of the day! It is a restored orginal mile operated by Ed Marby for many years as well as other things he had at his place. The wheel drove a drive shaft that used belts to power a saw, planer, double band saw and a mill stone the ground corn, grit and buckwheat. We bought a bag of wheat flour with a sheet of recipes in it. This is the most photographed site on the Blue Ridge Parkway and a most interesting stop. At Julian Price one has to chose your spots carefully if you have a big rig. You can have reservations here for some spots so on a holiday weekend it might be tight getting in with a big rig. I think May is a good time before the summer traffic or in September, October after schools starts as long as one missed holidays and in the fall weekends because of week end forage watchers. I hiked the 4.9 mile Boone Fork Trail which is fairly strenuous in parts. One should be careful to follow the arrows and have a map along as it there are other trails and it can be a bit confusing. A lot of it is along a stream with some small rapids and part of it along a feeder stream to the main creek. Mostly thick woods with lots of shade. There are other trails in the area and the commercial Grandfather Mountain is nearby. There is the Price Lake nearby where you can fish. I assume you would need a NC license. We are now down to three states we have not been in since retiring. SC, GA and AR. For both of us personally the only two we now have never been in are SC and GA.
May 27, 2004 Thursday $17 Smokemont It continued to rain last evening and rained again toward morning quite hard. We dumped and filled with water since we will be at Smokemont CG, Smoky Mountain NP for 5 nights. We started at MP 297 on the Blue Ridge Parkway and just before Ashevill is Mount Mitchell which is 6684 ft. There is a state park there and we drove to the HQ for the park but turned around as it was so foggy you could not see but a few feet. We headed down and back on the Parkway and the fog set in solid and stayed that way for about 10 miles before we finally drove out of the worst of it. BTW Mt. Mitchell is the highest point in the US east of the Missisippi River and of course the highest point in NC. We thought once when there was a hole in the fog we seen the peak. It was high and rugged and in the correct location according to the map and where we had just driven to the state park for Mount Mitchell. We got diesel fuel in Asheville, NC. This time we were not as fortunate as in Roanoke and had to drive a ways to find a station with diesel. Asheville is where the Blue Ridge Mountains end and the Black Mountains begin and carry on into the Smoky Mountains. They are more rugged, rocky and higher with more evergreen trees; although deciduous are still predominate. We got a picture at the highest point on the whole Parkway at 6053 feet at about milepost 434. We decided to get off the Parkway at about 445 and go to our CG in the Smoky Mt. NP and drive back with the F-350 since some tunnels looked like the clearance might be low for our 5th. We did that and when we went back and drove it with the F-350 we found the tunnels were plenty high for our 5th wheel or would be fine for Class A's so no one needs to be concerned about the clearance in the tunnels. If you do the whole 469 miles it is a lot of up and down and curves. Certainly it is as good as a lot of Park roads we have been on that are tough but the unique thing here is that it is 469 miles straight. We did it in 3 days and I would not recommend any less than this if you have an RV.because it is so many hours in a row. There are "TONS" of pull of spots to view or let traffic by. We stopped at Waterrock Knob where there is a nice hike with a great view in all directions if you go the ½ mile clear to the top. You can see Waynesboro to the north.
May 28, 2004 Friday $17 Smokemont We stayed at the CG as it was raining and the forecast sounded like lots of rain all day and into tonight. Tomorrow sounds a lot better and Sunday and Monday don't sound to bad so we will start touring the Great Smoky Mt. NP tomorrow. I worked with the new Olympus digital camera, my zip drive, fuel mileage on Excel, WP and other chores around the 5th. We put up the awning which helps keep the rug dry and we can have the door open. I found where Wal-Mart was in Sylva, NC so Edith made a list and we drove over and got supplies. It was about 20 miles each way but was a nice Super Wal-Mart. We had some hard rain today and things are soaked in the CG. My Zip drive is working much better since reformatting my disks.
May 29, 2004 Saturday-$17 Smokemont It was a better day and we traveled north to Newfound road and got some nice pictures and then on to the visitors center at the north end and watched the film on the park. We then went to Cades Cove which is an open, fairly flat area with mountains all around. People came early on and farmed the area.. At the peak about 700 people lived here. You can buy an auto tour guide book which is well worth the $1 and it also gives some good history on the area. We then came back to Newfound road and took the road to Clingmans Dome and the tower. It was foggy so one did not get a view. It is a good steep hike of about ½ mile but it is a hard surface path
May 30, 2004 $17 Smokemont-It was a rainy day so we stayed around the CG and I got a lot accomplished learning about my new Olympus Digital Camera.
May 31, 2004 $17 Smokemont- It rained hard during the night but by about 9 am the rain had quit so we went to the Deep Creek Area north of Bryson City and seen the three falls in this area. The best is Indian Falls. We then went to Big Cove Road by Cheroke and found the Mingo Falls which is past the KOA CG about 1 mile. It is a good falls, quite wide and about 200 feet high. There are about 200 steps then a level path and a wooden platform over the creek to view the falls. There has been a lot of rain so the falls were good. It would be wise to inquire at the visitors center on water flow over the falls. At the north visitors center they had a display of the falls with pictures, referenced to the hiking map. The hiking map is worth the $1. We next went to the Mountain Farm Museum by the south visitors center. There is a good guide for it for 50 cents. We also went to the mill just up the road to the north. It is a steel turbine mill rather than a water wheel.
June 1, 2004-King Georges CG near Kingstown, GA Exit 7 $14.40 PPA full hookupsWe traveled 475 miles today but it was all on Interstate through NC, SC and GA and ended up at King Georges CG at Exit 7 in GA just north of the FL border. We have brake problems as you can hear grinding. We got set up and I ran into the Kingstown FORD garage and they were locking up but found out if I got there right away in the morning they could get at it. We decided we better get the brakes fixed
June 2, 2004 King Georges CG $14.40 PPA. I got to the Ford garage at 7:30 and the gal I talked to last night got me signed up right away and my truck went right in. By 9:30 they had checked it all out. The rear brakes were fine but the front brakes were in pretty bad shape. On the drivers side the inside shoe was frozen on and dragging all the time and had wore the pad down a long ways. On the passenger side on pad was gone and it was metal to metal so that surface will need to be turned down. I guess it is not that unusual for them to freeze up as the rubber boot wears out and water, etc gets in. There was a good deal of wear on the passenger side so they are going to replace those parts as well. The bad news is they have to order in some of the parts so it won't be ready until about 4 pm tomorrow. They gave me a ridge back to the CG and will come get me tomorrow. It is going to cost about $572 but considering the amount of miles breaking the 5th it really is not that bad as they should be good for quite awhile now as we don't have any tough driving left on this trip. I spent the day on the computer and working with the camera. Lots to do and see in this area but we won't have time with the brake problem as we don't have any vehicle to look around with.
June 3, 2004-Thursday King Georges CG $14.40 PPA This is a lay over day waiting for the F-350 brakes to be fixed. I worked with the computer, did some future trip planning and some planning for this trip. We got a call about 1 pm from Kingsland Ford from Frank the Service Manager that the parts came in and they were working on it and it should be ready by 5 pm. I asked them to call when it was completed and reminded them that they needed to pick us up. About 3:30 pm Jill called who I mentioned got me in right away yesterday. She said they were finished and the fellow was on the way to pick us up and that it cost $130 less than estimated. Our ride showed up shortly. We had a nice visit and he said the horses are quite easily seen on Cumberland Is. We got to the garage and Frank who was born and raised in Amelia Island just south of the Fl coast gave us directions on how to get to a couple of good seafood places. We went on to St. Mary's where the NPS has the boats to Cumberland Is. Unfortunately they closed at 4:30 and it was about 4:45 pm. We passed on the Submarine Museum and did not go to the Submarine base as we figured with security we would not get close. They are shutting all recreational traffic down to the north as President Bush is coming to Sea Is. His Dad was here as President and a number of other Presidents have been to Sea Island. We then went to Amelia Is. and seen Feranadina Beach was was very nice and toured downtown. The one eating place was here but had a line so we decided to try the other on called Down Under which is under the bridge coming into the island. It turned out to be a good choice. We got back to Kingsland, got diesel at $1.559 at the cheapest place in town. We are getting used to the heat as it did not seem near as bad today. I walked about 3 miles and got some pictures. We have low voltage here and also an ant problem. Others are having the same problem. The place is pretty full with more people coming in for the square dance group tomorrow night. We are hooked up so we can get and early start and not have to run the diesel very long. We hope to leave about 6 am and get down by JFK Space Center by mid morning and get parked and can run out to the space center for the bus tour. Then on Saturday we can drive in to Disneyworld and Sunday go on down to the NP CG in the Everglades at Long Pine and look around that evening and the next morning as it is only 40 miles to the Florida State Park on the beginning of the Keys. This should put us a day ahead of schedule as when we come back we can stay at Long Pine CG again but only have to go to Biscayne NP and then can head west.
June 4, 2004 Friday Sonrise Palms Christian RV Park $16.50 We were on the road by about 6 am and it was just getting decently light out. We went right through Jacksonville, FL and the traffic was not to bad. We arrived at the CG near Coco Beach FL and got settled in around 10 am and had an early dinner and based on information from the CG we headed for the Kennedy Space Center and got there about 11 am. It takes a little while to figure things out but we ended up getting the Standard Ticket which turned out to be the right choice for us. We first seen the two IMAX films which is part of the admission and then took the bus tour. The IMAX movies are great, one you wear 3-D glasses. The bus tour was also great with a stop at the LC39 observation point of the launch site and the site the shows about to Apollo Mission/Saturn V. We certainly enjoyed it and makes you really appreciate how great an achievement this was and God's blessing on the USA to accomplish such impossible things. The afternoon ended in a downpour and it is raining yet as we are back to the 5th but sounds clear again tomorrow for our Disney World trip
June 5, 2004 Saturday Sonrise Palms Christian RV Park $16.50 We headed off for Disney World about 8:00 am and arrived about 9 am. We drove in on toll road 528 and then took the toll 417 bypass which has signs that will tell you where to Exit, ie Exit 6 or 3 and then signs that take you right to the parking area. It cost us $3.25 toll with just the F-350. The parking is $8.00 and the entrance fee is $54.75 plus tax each. The Future world section of Epcot opens at 9 am and Countries of the World section opens at 11 am. The furturist section had a lot of gadets and robots but we were not that impressed. The sea exhibit probably was the best but we had seen this sort of things about 3 times before on our travels. Based on advice from others we entered the Countries of the World section very shortly after 11 am which in hind sight I think was a good decision. There are a lot more stores selling things than I expected and there were really no rides like in a carnaval. There were some good movies. I would rank them as follows: First France, Second China but you could call it either way, third Canada and Fourth Norway. The Norway ride had the most action and kids liked it the best. The singers at the USA site were great, the show so-so. The acrobats from China I would rank the best. After that is is big time down hill; however the light and Fireworks show on the lake at 9 pm is spectacular. It is definitely a must do. Getting out went much, much better than I would of dreamed! They seem to have the traffic thing pretty well figured out. I would say the crowd was small to medium at best! We got back to our CG about 10:30
June 6, 2004 Monday Long Pine Key CG Everglades NP FREE no charge off season, has water available and a dump. We got set up about 2 pm. Coming down I thought I seen some of the most reckless Interstate driving of the trip. People get carried away here, no doubt about it! I had to drive back in to Florida City and get diesel fuel. It turned out we could of got it at Flamingo at the end of the park road but who would of dreamed that and at a reasonable price at that!!! Anyway we took boat tour out of Flaming for $33 for both of us. It is about 1:30 hour to 2 hours. It is better in the winter as there are Alligators and Manatees but at least we seen some Crocodiles. This is the only place in the world where there are both. The crocodile had a shorter broader snout and their eyes are recessed where the alligator eyes bulge out and are brown. The guide showed us lots of plants and birds and gave us a lot of history and I found out we would see alligators at Anhinga Trail near the park entrance and that we should be able to see Manatees at Crystal River and Homossa Spring near Tampa and also take air boat rides at places of Hwy 41. Edith dropped her old camera as we were leaving the 5th and it looks like it is not going to work anymore. We headed back for the Anhinga Trail which is just north of the CG and found lots of Alligators and got some great pictures. They are there waiting for the rainy season to get started which is alread about 6 weeks late as it should of started May 1st and last through October. They Alligators like fresh water and that is why they are bunched up here and is really the only place you can see them easily in the park right now. The Crocodiles like salt water so they are by Flamingo where the water is brackish a mixture of fresh and salt. The best time to see the Alligators and Manatees in the Flamingo area is probably in November, December or January if there has been a good rainy season before then
The ground is very level here about 3 or 4 feet above sea level. The trees vary in height so it looks hilly but is not. The lakes are about no deeper than 12 foot and most places about 4 feet. There are many canoe trails, the most popular starts at Everglade City and is about 90 miles and ends at Flamingo. There might be a couple of small portages but I don't think so. The Park service has build platforms about every 10 miles so people can sleep on them in their tents and they are high enough out of the water so the Alligators can't get up on them. It takes about 8 days to make the trip. There are a number of other canoe trails in the park, some hiking and of course fishing. There is also a beach where you can legally collect about a quart of sea shells.
June 7, 2004 John Pennekamp State Park $31.25 Electric and Water and dump. This is a very popular park on the Keys as there is diving and snorkling on the reefs and swimming beaches some hiking trails and boat rides and a lot of people go fishing from here in their boats. This morning we left the 5th at the CG and drove to Biscayne NP, we found a short cut going east of the road to the Everglades, made a little jog north by the racetrack on on east on Canal street so it was a direct route and by passed the toll road. We seen the movie on the park, looked over the exhibits and took the 3 hour boat ride. It was a glass bottom boat and the ranger did a nice job and we seen the reef and fish through the glass bottom. It made us realize how good the reef was of the coast of Mexico south of Cancun and down along Belize! It only took us about 1.5 hours to get to John Pennekamp State Park. Diesel is high priced here as we paid $1.899. We did spot on place that was $1.859. We made reservations via telephone for the boat trip out to Dry Tortugas NP and also for our RV reservation in Key West. Things are expensive in Key West. The ranger in the Everglades told us to remember Burger King in Key West as it is the only reasonable place to eat and you can go up on the second floor and get a good view with a soda. We will have to check that out probably tomorrow. I did some walking around the CG and worked on plans for the next several days after we leave the Keys. We are a bit ahead of schedule because of seeing the Everglades and Biscayne NP before going to the Keys as I had it scheduled leaving the Keys.
June 8, 2004 Leo's CG Key West, FL $40.00 Full hook ups including Cable. Key West is a high priced place but first about the trip. It was about 100 miles today from our CG at John Pennekamp State Park which is about 26 miles down the Keys. Highway # 1 really does a slick job of finding land and going from Key to Key. We have seen this other places, the strip of land can be very narrow and some places since it is shallow here they put in fill so in reality you expect long, high, huge bridges when in fact there is ONLY ONE, the seven mile bridge. There are 3 other what I would call significant bridges by no more than way those that cross the Missouri River or many other rivers. Because of this you just don't get the impression like you would expect going from key to key. I was watching the GPS and there you see you are going from Key to Key and often on just a narrow strip of land but with the trees and fill you just don't get the dramatic impact I expected. You do often see you are going from Key to Key across a bridge and can see the ocean on both sides and some small Keys out in the distance so the effect is there, just not as dramatic as I expected. One thing that really hits you is that it would not be a good place to be in a hurricane. The land is not much about sea level and most places not that much of it. There are some islands that a quite large and there is a ton of people and businesses on the Keys. Things get more expensive as you go out on the Keys. For example diesel started at 1.890 and ended up at 2.049 here in Key West. Key West is very old and existed way before many towns in Florida such as Miami, etc. In the early 1900's a railroad was built out to the Keys and the road came later as cars developed and became popular. Many, many people lived here before the railroad came.
The dock area is the historic area and is fun to roam around in. There is all kinds of food for sale, shops, tours, boats rides, you name it. There is the Harry Truman Whitehouse museum as the White House was here for 175 days during his administration. I think it had to do with extensive work being done on the White House. Predsident Eisenhower and Kennedy also operated the White House out of here for a short time. We checked out the Burger King and it was as the ranger said a source of reasonable priced food among places that charge a bunch. Definitely bring money if you want to spend some time here. I will say there is lots to do here and I think it especially appeals to the younger, party crowd. We did go to the most southern point in the USA and got pictures. It is only 90 miles from Cuba. We now have been to the most northern point at Deadhorse, Alaska, the most Western Point which is in Alaska and the most easterly point which is in Maine or for the continent at Cape Spear near St. Johns Newfoundland and in the contiguous 48 states in NW Washington and we have been at the most southern point of Mexico at Port Angeles. It was hot walking and humid walking around today. We also go our ticket for the trip tomorrow to Dry Tortugas NP and where we can park for $10 for the day so we are set. We have the 5th parked in some shade so the Air Conditioning works a lot better so it has been very comfortable all day and will be great sleeping tonight. This visit will complete all the National Parks out East and when we get to Hot Springs NP the only two left east of the Missouri will be the Adventures NP (Boundary waters) and Isle Royale which we will access both out of Northern MN. We have a few out west but it won't be long and we will be down to under 5 we have not visited. Right now we are under 10. From here we start heading north, back toward SD.
June 9, 2004 Wednesday Leo's CG Key West $40 full hook ups including cable We took off about 6:30 am and got parked a little before 7 am for $10 a day. We noticed a bit later that since we were so early we likely could of got parked along the street nearby where there were no meters so that is a tip to anyone else if you can get there before 7 am for the tour to the Dry Tortugas NP. We checked in with our paid slip and got two blue passes and found a post to sit on and wait. We had a full boat, I would guess over 100 people. Of all the tours we have been on this one was had the best breakfast and we had a great buffet noon lunch. They had all the soda pop and water you could possibly want and all kinds of flavors. They had flippers and mask and snorkel tube. The only thing Edith would of liked to have was a life jacket so we will have to start carrying ours. On the way back we had pop, water, snakes and more rolls so they were very generous. It is about 2.5 hours out. The Keys actually go about another 10 miles past Key West much to our surprise. Most seemed deserted but we did note a house and dock on one of the small Keys. It is about 50 miles to Dry Tortugas, once we got there we had about a 45 minute tour of the fort. There is a Park Service Visitors office there and also one on nearby Logger Head. It is a huge brick structure and they are going to start restoration work shortly. We then had our buffet lunch, Edith got changed and we went snorkling. I found the area on the west side near the moat wall to be the best and also seen a number of fish. It was a long swim as I searched out in the bay first. I guess clear out by the bouy's is good also but I would suggest right along the wall as it is a much shorter swim and a good view.
We then rested in the shade, had some pop and water and visited the Park Visitors Center. We did get to rinse of on the dock with water from the boat and we could use the rest rooms on the boat all day as there are no restrooms on the island but there are change places. If you do camp after the tour boats leave they open some chemical outdoor toilets near the CG. You can visit the park with your own boat if you have a sea going boat. There is a lot of history here and you can camp over night for $3 but you have to have a reservation which is easy enough to get. It also served as a federal prison for the Union after the Civil War and some of those convicted in the Lincoln assassination were imprisoned here. If one were to camp over night there are several notebooks and vidio's to watch and one could buy a book or two to read and go snorkeling a few times and tour the fort more thoroughly. We got back about 5 pm and I got a T-shirt. On the way back to the 5th we spotted a place were you could get all the shrimp you could eat for $10.95 and it was for real and we had great cold shrimp which we had to peel but certainly a good deal so despite things being high priced her if one hunts you can find some good deals.
June 10, 2004 Thursday Big Cypress National P:reserve, Free Off Season, no hookups. We left Key West about 8 am and had good driving, traffic was light and there were no hold ups and we were off the Keys in just a little over 2 hours. We got diesel at Florida City but should of waited as it dropped from 1.899 clear down to 1.739 in just a few miles. I don' see how they can get by with this. If I was a local I sure would not buy at the high priced places but maybe they go enough outsiders like us that they get by with it?
We headed north and then back west across the top of the Everglades toward the west coast so really making a big circle because of the Everglades. Along highway 41 just as the ranger said there are all kinds of air boat rides run by the Indians. The water is low but there was enough for a ride for about 30 minutes for $10 each. They are loud so we used ear plugs. We went in what looked like only about 6 inches of water some places. In areas there was decent water, we stopped at what they call a hamock site which is basically houses with grass roof up on a platform along with eating places. It is nice here other than if there were bugs then it would not be good. We seen a coujple of alligators, one opened his mouth and did not seem happy with us. We also seen lot sof birds. The air boats steer by directing the air from the prop to turn the boat which is a shallow boat. From there we went on the Monument Lake in the Big Cyprus Reserve which is free due to the off season. We got some rain which cooled things off to the lower 70's and I got the leaves and needles of the slides and tie wrapped a loose wire in the battery box. We have the place to ourselves. One camper came through but left. We had some wild turkeys come by and with the 10X zoom if got a good picture. I worked on the computer and, downloaded pictures and did e-mail and uploaded our postion.
June 11, 2004 Friday Swift Trailer Park $11.00 full hookup other than cable. PPA We got up a little before 7 am and Edith looked out on Monument Lake and there was an alligator nearby then she got excited as there was an alligator on shore walking right by the 5th wheel. He was carrying a big bass in his mouth, I'd say about 4 lbs. we got some pictures of him walking by and then he froze as he must of seen us so we got some more picture. I then tried to go out the 5th on the other side but as soon as he seen my leg start for the ground he dived off the bank into the water about 4 foot drop. They can move fast and can outrun a human but they don't bother you unless you aggrivate them or would have food. The get smart and like to take fisher mans bait or the fish they catch. I visited with an off duty ranger fishing last night and his fishing attracted 5 alligators. One was about a 7 footer. The get up to 10 or 12 foot, the record is as bit over 17 feet. There sex is determined by the temperature of the eggs. The males fight and sometimes wound one another during mating season. Anyway we got a very, very unusual picture. We headed off for Fort Meyers. We seen some alligators along the way. We noted some of the Indians had signs indicating this was native land not USA land so apparently a little militant. We seen a lot more air boat rides. Once we got to the turn off for Everglade City we got out of the parks and into development. The area really appears to be booming and it appears a lot of people have moved in with money and made this home. There were also a lot of resort trailer parks and park models. Naples is growning and all the way north to Fort Meyers it is growing like mad. We found our Passport America park easily and got in for $10 which is half price. The PPA membership has paid for itself many times over already and we have more than a year to go on it. We got set up and then headed to the Edison Ford Estates. We spent the rest of the day there with all the plants from all over the world. The huge Banyan tree from India was probably the most impressive. It is called the Walking Tree because it moves out by sending down other trunks. We toured the two homes at this were their summer homes and they were great friends and wanted to live side by side. We then toured the Edison Winter Laboratory which was mainly used to get rubber from plants, they centered on the Golden Rod and the museum which has many exhibits and videos. We had a good time. We then went to Sinabar Island and found a great beach and old lighthouse. It was hot on the beach as the sun had lots of power. When we left the estates it had been raining hard, on the island there was no rain but about time we got back north by our CG to get some groceries at Wal- Mart when we came out it was pouring so pretty typical for the summer rainy season. It sure does cool things off!
From Fort Meyers you can take a ferry to Key West, Fl for about $100 or cheaper if a Sr. Citizen. You can also come back another day or do one was trips. This would save a lot of driving and you could make the trip to Dry Tortugas and visit other things at Key West. The Historic area at Key West is all in walking distance or there is a trolley. In regards to the Everglades you can see them well from the north and would not have to go to the south other than you won't see crocodile unless you go to Flamingo. You also won't see Biscayne NP although you can see the same kind of coral plants and fish at Dry Tortugas.
June 12, 2004 Saturday, Turtle Creek CG $13.08 Full Hookups. We made good time and got to our CG about 12 noon. Traffic was quite heavy on I-75 so one really had to pay attention. We went to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park a Florida State Park and really enjoyed it. There is a boat ride, lots of Florida animals and best of all we seen several Manetees very close! We got some great pictures.. After we got back we changed oil with the oil we got at Wal-Mart today. It is always a dirty job and tonight I got some in my hair even. I always use a tarp so I don't get any oil on the ground. Anyway it is done and so won't have to do it again for another 5000 miles so should no have to do until fall at home
June 13, 2004 Sunday, Turtle Creek CG $13.08 Full Hookups. We found the spring area and lakes that start the Crystal River. There are around 300 Manetees here in the winter time. Now there are only about 9 and most of them have calves that stay for the summer. We then went to the Crystal River Archeology site where Indians were from 500 BC to 1400 AD. There were shell mounds here that were 28 feet high and it is right along the Crystal River and about half way from the gulf and the lake that starts the river. It was a great area for wildlife and seafood so life appeared to be pretty easy here. Some of these were ceremonial and others were burial mounds. There seems to be influence from the north and also Mexico and carribean. We then went to Yankee Town and seen some nice houses along the river with boat docks and then west to Dunnellon which was a Phosphorus Mining boom town in the 1890's. We also went to Rainbow State Pare where there is a primer sprin g area finding the Rainbow River and some falls. It was a nice park and lots of swimming as the water is between 68 and 72 degrees the year around. We ate at the Front Porch just south of town where our friends we met at Fort Davis recommended. They are from here. We asked about them but did not have enough info that anyone at the restaurant could identify them for us. We then went south to Fenanado and east to the Ted Williams hitters Museum but it was closed. They changed their schedule from what is advertised. We got 10 cent banana's, 49 cent tomatoes and a whole bag of cucumber for $2 from a fruit stand by Wal-Mart in Homosassa Springs. We worked on the computer and made plans for the next couple of days
June 14, 2004 Econfina River Resort $11.83 PPA full hookups, near Gulf of Mexico on SR #14 south of Lamont, Fl We traveled about 150 miles on Hwy 19 and 98 which is a divided 4 lane all the way to Perry, FL. Great road but all you see is trees it seems. Mainly Forestry industry coming up, seems centered around Perry, Fl Some developemnt off toward the Gulf. Cedar Key area also raises a lot of Clams on farms.
June 15, 2004 Tuesday AC0M yard.We took hwy # 98 all the way into Shalimar. The coast really does not get nice until Panama City although from Joes Beach and Mexico Beach the beaches are OK but the water is not pretty like it is at Panama City all the way to Pensecola, Fl and even at Orange Beach in Al. We had traffic on Hwy 98 going into Shalimar but not to bad. We got on the beach front on a detour in Panama City and Panama City Beach which slowed us up. It was hot. We got in to Chris and Carols a little after 5 pm and set up. They did not hear us so we knocked on the door. We went out ot supper.
June 16-June 20 AC0M yard Wed-Monday Morning We had a great time visiting, going to the ham club and breakfast, eating loads of sea food and swimming in their pool. It was very hot until the last couple of days when it got better. Sunday night and Monday morning as we were leaving were the best. It looks like it will be cooler for them this week. I also was able to do a lot of things on Carols computer and Chris and I got our Timex watches going. They put a new battery in mine at the Time Store over in Destin and gave me a box to send it in if it did not fix it as the alarms, button beeps did not work and the low battery indication comes on every morning. I called the service number and found out the back was reversed from what it should be; likely since the factory. We changed it around and it works great now. Chris got a new watch as 4 plastic plugs on the fron were coming loose and the crystal was loose. They are great hosts and we had a great time.
June 21, 2004 Monday, Wal-Mart at McGehee, Arkansas. We had a good travel day. We did have a little trouble because of poor signing in Mobile, Al but got it corrected right away and was no problem. Looks like it is going to cool off so we can sleep here OK as it is raining. In Louisiana we found lots of farming in the Delta and also Aquaculture raising Catfish. Hopefully we can get into Hot Springs early enough to get parked and see Hot Springs NP tomorrow and pick up a day on our schedule.
June 22, 2004 Tuesday Gulpha Gorge NP CG Hot Springs AR $10.00 We made it into the CG by about 10 am. It rained hard after we left Pine Bluff, AR and here in Hot Springs but by the time we set up it was not raining much. We had a little lunch and headed for the NP. We toured bathhouse row, the visitors center which is a restored bathhouse but not actively being used. There is one bathhouse you can use but you have to pay. We watched the movie and took the tour which I both recommend. We then looked around Hot Springs Mountain above the bathhouses and seen a natural spring and seen many, many where the park service has protected them with covers. We walked on the prominade walk above the bathhouses. We then went to the 200 foot lookout tower on Hot Springs Mt. and had a good view and the sun was even out for a little while. The water is hot because it has seeped down to 8000 foot over many centuries and then at a certain point it is rapidly forced to the surface and stays warm. It is warm from the rocks being hot down that deep and the pressure. The springs have minerals in them and algae grows so they were very unusually with all of them, 100's of them coming out of the mountain when it was discovered and used for many years. It was developed during the 1800's and was made a reserve in 1832 to protect it. Eventually it became a NP. I hiked around Hot Springs Mt from the east and over to bathhouse row and then back up the Mt. past the lookout tower and down the mountain to the CG. There are a number of other trails in the area as well. We worked on the route home and have decided to take scenic Hwy # 7 north to Russelville, AR and then take I-40 east and then head north for Kansas City and on home on I-29. We should be in the KC area by tomorrow night and home by Thursday night. This is our last state so the sticker went on the map today. This afternoon about 6 spaces away a fellow with a small tent and car was arrested and they got a truck and hauled his car away. The tent is still here. There were HP and Park Rangers here. That is a first, I have no idea what it was about.
June 23, 2004 Stayed at Iowa State Park for $9 no hookups by Desota NWR and by I-680 going to Des Moines. We had pizza in Missouri Valley for my birthday. We put on a lot of miles but the road is nearly all 4 lane all the way home from Hot Springs once you get north of Hot Springs to Interstate. There is a short stretch north of Bentonville, AR that they are working on to get 4 lane.
June 24th 2004 Arrived home about 11 am. 44 days and 7064 miles.