Monday, December 30, 2013

St. Augustine, FL - Sort Of...

We left Savannah to head for the warmth of Florida! We left late in the day, so even though it only took a couple of hours to get there, it was too late to check in to a campsite. We planned on staying at the St. Augustine Walmart. Staying in an RV in a parking lot has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • We are within walking distance to a store that carries just about everything we need at a low cost.
  • There is constant video surveillance.
  • You can get a glimpse of the population based on the fellow shoppers at Walmart.
  • The only thing within probably walking distance is a Walmart or other commercialized businesses (most of the time).
  • There is constant noise from the traffic and people coming in and out of the store. Not to mention the sounds of the shopping carts being collected.
  • Although you can get a glimpse of the population, we're not going to make any friends at a Walmart.
The next day we got up and headed to St. John's RV Park. It's on the same property as a flea market and farmer's market. 

The park had the most irritating hours: 8am-10:30am and 2pm-5pm. We arrived at 10:45am that day. With no one there to check us in, we had to figure out their confusing map and find an open spot to wait for the office to open. 

As we were backing into the first spot, someone rushed over in the pouring rain to tell us that was their spot. We apologized and headed to another spot that the map had labeled as vacant.

We got out to plug in and noticed there was a welcome mat at the site = Someone else is staying there. Once again we get back into the RV, back out, and pull into yet another site.

We settled in and waited for the office to open. There was finally a break in the rain, so we took the dogs out to do their business. There were so many anthills! Poor Suede got one of her back legs all eaten up! =[ And this happened in the area the RV park designated for dogs!

Finally 2pm rolls around and we get to check in. The owner of the park was a very nice lady. Right before we pay and as I'm filling out the paperwork, the owner asks the dreaded question, "What kind of dogs do you have?" We don't like answering this question so we just say that we don't know what kind of dogs they are, "They're just rescues." She then goes on to explain that their insurance provider is extremely strict about Pit Bulls. If they see a dog that even LOOKS like a Pit Bull on the premises, they would fine the park. After dealing with so many stressful situations, this was it for me. I ripped up the paper and walked out. I look up as much information as I can on everywhere we plan on staying (especially their pet policy) to avoid situations like this. If you don't allow Pit Bulls then maybe you should post a sign or put it on your website! Josh met me back in the RV and told me the park owner was "sorry" about the Pit Bull ban and that she even owned a Pit and wasn't allowed to bring her dog to her own park. Whatever. Find an insurance company that isn't racist against dogs! It's the deed not the breed. She was very nice though, and didn't charge us to dump our tanks nor the electricity we used for the couple of hours we waited for the office to open. 

Stressed out, we headed back to Walmart to look up other parks in the area. It just wasn't meant to be for us to stay in St. Augustine, FL. We found a handful of parks in the area that were just too expensive (some even $50+ a night) or had dog restrictions (breed and/or weight).

After researching outside of the St. Augustine area, Josh found an affordable place in San Mateo, FL that met all of our needs. We decided to cut our losses and make the forty-five minute drive southwest just as the rain decided to slow. I was disappointed to miss out on exploring the town, but like the Stones say, "You can't always get what you want."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hardeeville, SC / Savannah, GA

Beautiful downtown Savannah, GA
Riding the motorcycle together for the first time!
After the disappointment of Walterboro, SC, we decided to just keep going and headed to Hardeeville, SC. Hardeeville is a small quiet town that is only a 15 min drive north of Savannah. We stayed at the Hardeeville RV Park and it was great! It was a pretty large park. The dogs definitely enjoyed their walk three times a day there. After a couple of days of setting up camp and tackling our laundry, we finally got the chance to go to Savannah. It was the first time we rode on the motorcycle TOGETHER! The drive from Hardeeville into Savannah is very easy... until you have to cross the bridge. Our motorcycle is a Suzuki GZ 250. It's not a very heavy bike, so the wind was a huge concern. We made it there and back in one piece, but I don't think we'll be riding the motorcycle over any more bridges any time soon. The first place we checked out was the Pirate's House and the Herb House. I thought they were two different places, but they are actually connected. The Old Pirates House is associated with Savannah's maritime history and Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island". It 

The Old Pirate's House
The stairs leading to the basement. See any ghosts?
was built in 1754.  I read dozens of articles about the place before we went. This one gave me the most chills. was Check it out here! The Pirates House is definitely haunted. They've had employees quit because of paranormal activity in the restaurant. There's a staircase that leads to a basement. Above you can read the following sign, "According to legend, This stairway at one time led to the entrance of a tunnel which ran from the old rum cellar beneath the Pirates' House to the bank of the Savannah River...a short block away. 'Tis said that many able-bodied men, drinking in carefree abandon in what is now our Captain's Room, were carried, drugged and unconscious, thru the tunnel to sailing ships anchored in the harbor and were shanghaied by shorthanded ships' masters to complete their crews." I took as many pictures as I could with there being a gate blocking most of my view. There's another entrance to the tunnel that is just an opening that drops down into the basement. Even though a sign next to this "hole" says not to throw anything into it because it upsets the ghosts, you can see in the pictures many people have disregarded this rule. There's an old wine bottle and tons of change. As I leaned over the railing to get a better look, fear just washed 
Another shot of the basement.
over me and it wasn't just because I was leaning over a railing! Something just bothered me and I instantly got goosebumps on my arms. Maybe it was just the cold air from the basement drafting upwards, but either way, I snapped my pictures and continued to explore the "house." Connected to the Pirate's House is the Herb House. Built in 1734 (20 years before the Pirate's House), it housed the gardener of the trustee's garden and is the oldest house in Georgia. There is a staircase that leads to an upstairs. Another blog posted a couple of years ago said that they used to give tours that included the upstairs of the Herb House that was used for storage. 
The basement again.
Employees have witnessed items flying off the shelves at them. When we visited, the entire upstairs had been blocked off, boarded up. I guess the ghosts have taken over that part of the house now, but diners can still hear footsteps upstairs while they enjoy their meal. I was still scared, so I only took one picture but it is CREEPY! Josh and I both see a face at the top of the stairs on the boards that are covering up (or keeping in) whatever is up there. You'll have to see it for yourself I guess. Let us know what you think! The food there was awesome. I had some crab cake sandwiches and Josh had an amazing burger. The staff was friendly and there was even a
Do you see anything on the boards blocking off the upstairs?
Please do not throw anything into the hole. It upsets the ghosts!
lady dressed as a pirate going around entertaining guests with her pirate accent. After dinner, we decided to explore every inch of the restaurant and the Herb House. They had at least 6 private dining areas. One of them was called the Captain's Room. It is said that Captain Flint died there. While we were exploring we went down a hallway that led to a smaller dining area in the back of the building. I was trying to hurry through everything because I felt really uneasy about wandering around a haunted restaurant. Josh was walking behind me. I was already in the dining room when Josh asked me the dreaded question, "Did you hear that?" The floors in the hallway were creaky hardwood. He said that as he was following me, he heard someone walking behind him. He turned around to see who it was (the bathroom was around the corner so maybe it was someone just going to relieve themselves) but there was no one there. I was already in the carpeted dining room. He said even after he stopped moving, the slow footsteps continued up the hallway from behind him. After that I was definitely finished with our visit there. We went outside to snap some more pictures and then headed home over the scary, windy bridge. We had a nice quiet
The hallway where Josh heard footsteps.
Christmas together. We both gave ourselves a spending limit and headed to the local stores. We had a wonderful, quiet holiday together, and enjoyed watching "The Sopranos". After some cold weather passed, we were ready to hit the town of Savannah again! We drove the RV this time instead of taking our motorcycle. We found cheap parking at the civic center, and took off on foot from there. We walked through all of their historical squares and passed other tourists who were just as interested as we were in Savannah. We walked with our guitars from the Civic Center down to the river front. Savannah was filled with beautiful little squares dedicated to historical figures or moments. We enjoyed
Historical Stairs - Use at your own risk!
hearing other street musicians and eaves dropping on tour guides as they passed. Josh bought me a heart made out of palm leaves from a blues singing man in one of the squares. We made it to the river front and realized we had to take a flight of precariously steep stairs. After surviving that we were finally able to take in the full beauty of the Savannah river. We took the cobble stone path and visited their World War I memorial. Then we walked to Kevin Barry's Irish Pub. They had a ton of Irish history in there! We made our way upstairs and ordered their shepherd's pie. Josh and I had never had shepherd's pie before but my Uncle Charlie 
highly recommended it. It was so delicious! It's definitely one of our favorites now! As we sat there enjoying our meal, we got to watch the shipping barges come down the river and under the bridge. People watching was also a fun thing to do. We had to have seen about 5 cars go into the same parking lot trying to park in a spot that looked empty, but wasn't a parking spot at all. After we had our quick meal we walked back the way we came, and I finally had the courage to sit down with Josh and play guitar and sing in
The view from Kevin Barry's Irish Pub
public. I have played and sang at some open mic nights, but I have never sat on a bench and played for the open public passing by on the sidewalk. I was extremely nervous at first. We had already passed by other guitar players and a violinist. I didn't recognize the songs other guitarists were playing and no one was singing. In case you haven't seen my YouTube videos, I sing quite loud. I was nervous to draw so much attention to myself, and I felt like I was imposing on everyone's visit to Savannah. Josh
The original Dr. Who phone booth!
always seems to know exactly what to say though to wash my silly fears away. It also helped to have him play guitar with me. I sang about five songs I knew. I was surprised to see that even though I could hear my voice carry and echo throughout the square, people only offered a few simple glances (some smiles), but then they were on their way. It took me two songs to finally loosen up and realize I wasn't imposing on anyone's visit! All I could do was enjoy doing the thing I love most in such beautiful surroundings. While I was singing Thinking of You by Katy Perry, a very sweet high school student walked up to us and put a dollar in my guitar case! I was blown away. She told me I had a pretty voice and encouraged me to keep playing and singing. Then she walked back over to her parents. I was so proud! I had never been paid for my talents before. It was so inspiring for me, because I was once that teenage girl giving money to street musicians. I also noticed a mother and daughter sitting across the square dancing and singing along to some of my songs. When it started to get dark, we decided to head back to our RV that was parked at the Civic Center. We really enjoyed our time in Savannah and in Hardeeville, but we got
I know there's a pole there but the cop/taxi car is real.
an RV for a reason! Next stop - St. Augustine, Florida!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Walterboro, SC

Hitting the open road!

When we stopped in Walterboro, SC on 12/15 Josh wasn't feeling too well. We boon docked at the local Walmart to wait for the Vision Center to open the next day. We were one of about ten RV's staying in the parking lot that night. We read online some tips on how to boon dock respectfully at a store: don't run your generator, don't pull your patio furniture out, don't pull your slides out, leave your step in, basically just keep quiet and to yourself and stay inside. Surprisingly, all of these RV's broke every single one of those rules. That didn't make us change our minds about following the rules though! We hunkered down, and I read the second book in the Hunger Game series, Catching Fire out loud for our entertainment that night. 

Josh with one eye dilated 
The next day Josh went to the eye doctor and gave him some steroid drops and antibiotics. His allergies had gotten so bad, it caused an infection. Josh had to stay out of sunlight and rest for at least three days. We were a bit disappointed to delay our trip, but knew it was necessary for his health. We stayed at Green Acres Campground and it was beautiful. The entire park is covered with pine trees. We were able to put up our dog runners and let the dogs enjoy the sunlight wile we were outside. Not only did they have a dog park, but they had an agility course with tires to jump through and planks for the dogs to walk up and down on. They certainly enjoyed themselves!! The showers were clean and the lady working the desk was straight to the point but friendly all the same. All of the sites were level and clean. My only complaint about this place is that it is right off I-95. We could hear the interstate traffic all day and all night! Josh saw this as a positive because the park was so easy to find, and it was easy to leave. But that didn't matter so much to me. I would rather stay in a nice quiet park that is a couple of miles off the interstate then be next to one.
To give Josh's eye a break, I got to do all of the driving :)

On 12/17, Josh had to go back to the eye doctor for a follow up. The infection in his eye was disappearing, but his sinus cavities were still feeling clogged. After buying allergy medicine and some groceries, we went back to the park so he could continue his recovery. 

Walterboro is a cute small southern town. From the park to Walmart, the speed limit fluctuated from 45 to 35 to 25 to 35 and then back to 45. I enjoy going the speed limit, but I surprised to see everyone else following the same rules! 
The Slave Relic Museum

Look an anvil!
The next day, we were ready to go the Slave Relic Museum. The ONLY REASON why we stopped in Walterboro was to go this museum. We double checked their museum hours and headed out. As soon as we pulled up, we were a little nervous because there weren't any other cars in the driveway. We still parked, walked up to the door, and knocked. No one came to the door. They have a HUGE sign in the front yard saying their museum hours and days and still there was no one there. A neighbor mentioned she had seen the owners out that morning, but had no idea where they had gone. Apparently the owners of the museum live upstairs in the house. We were able to take pictures of some of the stuff they had on the front porch and in the yard. I really wish we were able to go inside and see all the things they have from the slave era. Dismayed, we left and continued on our journey down south.
All of the things we didn't get to see in person

I'm guessing this is what the plantation used to look like
Some old chains

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Our First Four Cities

From Wilmington, NC to Salisbury, NC

2 bikes, 2 guitars, 2 skateboards, 2 trash cans, 2 bags of dog food
We left our one bedroom apartment in Wilmington and hit the road on 11/25 around 10 PM. Exhausted from the move and leaving so late, we spent the night at a Walmart in Mebane, NC. Then we got a fresh start the next morning and drove the rest of the way to Salisbury. We spent Thanksgiving with our families. 5 out of 6 of Josh's siblings and their families came to town to celebrate. I got to visit with my family in Charlotte as well. We didn't have enough time to see all the friends we wanted and time was tight to even hang out with our families, but we still cherished the time we had. While we were in Salisbury, we stayed in Josh's parent's driveway in Granite Quarry, and tested all of our systems, and our motorcycle Virginia repaired (named after Josh's mother's mom). 
It was a lot colder than we expected in NC and our heat runs on propane. We found a campsite a couple of miles away in Lexington, NC that did LP fills. We thought we had everything put away properly before we left Josh's parent's house, but that was not the case. We forgot to lower our TV antenna! As we were pulling out of the driveway, we took out the neighbors telephone wire (gratefully it was out of use!). It tore our whole antenna off of our RV. After Josh tried to repair the mangled piece of metal, he went out and bought a new outdoor antenna, spliced the coax cable, bolted it down, and we were watching 36 channels of free TV.

From Salisbury, NC to Statesville, NC

Honey enjoying a fuzzy pine cone!

This was an important trip for me to make. Even though I was born in Salisbury, I have lived the most consecutive years of my life in Statesville. I was able to meet up with my best friend and see my godchild. From Statesville, we began our journey!

From Statesville, NC to Blacksburg, SC

At IKEA in Charlotte, NC
We left Statesville around 6:00 PM and arrived at our first campsite around 7:45 PM. Driving there at night was not so fun! As we were merging onto I-85 South, a truck driver would not let us get over! Thankfully Josh was driving and he eased the RV halfway into the shoulder and waited for the truck to get over. We were going as fast as we could, but the trucker just didn't want to slow down and get over for us as he was in a convoy. We had to be an inch away from the truck! Needless to say we were relieved to arrive at Cherokee RV Campgroud in Blacksburg, SC. It's a very quiet campground off of I-85 South exit 102. Because we left NC so late, we wanted to feel accomplished by driving out of state, even if it was only a couple of miles beyond the border. My phone had stopped allowing me to hear people I was calling and they couldn't hear me, but the owner of the campground texted me when our several phone conversations had failed. He was very polite and helped us make our reservation and gave us directions and even welcomed us into the campground even though we arrived so late. 
We've been so busy getting ready for our new RV life that we have forgotten how close Christmas is! Cherokee RV Campground absolutely made it clear what time of year it was. They decorated the trees in the campground and had light up candy canes throughout the park. I was amazed at how peaceful the place was too. We even heard an owl whoo-hoo-ing right before we went to bed. When we got there it was dark, but when we woke up in the morning we finally got a good look at the place. The grass was so green and there was a horse pasture next to the park. The dogs are still adjusting to going to new places. Suede and Honey still go every which way when we first take them out. They're so cute! After a good night's sleep, we woke up, dumped our tanks, filled our fresh water, and went to the Flying J to get our propane filled. Then it was time to hit the road again!

From Blacksburg, SC to Aiken, SC

Blacksboro, SC

My grandparents used to live in Newberry :)
This was the horse pasture was next to the park in Blacksboro,SC

Passing through GA

Add caption
Originally we were planning on driving to Betty's RV Park in Beech Island, SC, but they were completely booked. So we went to Passport America's website and found another park in Aiken. Sure enough they had an opening and for $15 a night we took it! So we entered the address into our GPS and headed that way. Our RV has two gas tanks; one in the front and one in the rear. While Josh was driving up a hill on the interstate, he mentioned that he had the "pedal to the metal" and we were barely hitting 40 MPH. This is NOT OK! I looked over at the gas indicator and told him to switch the gas tank because it looked like it was almost empty. Too late... The RV stopped running and Josh had to pull over to the shoulder and in between the guard rail. As the traffic whizzed by, blowing our RV left and right, we attempted to start the RV back up. After switching the gas tank to the full one and trying to start it about 4 times, good ol' Alma (our name for the RV after Josh's grandmother) finally started! We very safely got back on the interstate and started back on our way. Luckily we didn't come across any more problems the whole way to Aiken. It really surprised me that even though we were pulled over into the shoulder with our hazards on, no one got into the left lane like you're supposed to. Everyone just kept driving like normal. I really started to get nervous, sitting on the shoulder, feeling the RV being blown every time a vehicle drove by... I thought we were going to be blown over! (Josh said that wouldn't have happened but it FELT like it could have to me.) Tonight we are staying in Aiken, SC and our campsite is on concrete! We are level and lovin' it! It's going to rain all day tomorrow so we are going to stay here and relax and plan our next four campsites. We are trying not to drive more than 4 hours at a time and take it easy. We ARE RVer's now for peep's sake! The dogs are finally getting used to going to their kennels to relax even though they know they can easily sleep on the couch.