1 JAN 04, ARNETT OK -- After an early check-out from Valencia Village, we stopped by my parents' home to pick up the travelers who slept there overnight, then we headed East toward Oklahoma. It was snowing lightly in Grants NM, but within 10-15 miles the snow had stopped and we had clear, cold weather for the full 500 mile drive. Our son had flown into Albuquerque a couple of days earlier, so we swung off I-40 for a short detour down I-25 and through the Albuquerque Sunport Airport to drop him all to catch his plane ... when traversing an airport with a 40' motorhome with apx 25 feet of towed vehicle behind you, remember to stay in the outer bus lanes ... we did, and it worked great! Heading on east, we arrived in Arnett, OK at the home of my aunt and uncle in late afternoon. After a brief check-out of the parking options, we pulled off the edge of the street onto the grassy edge of the yard. Note to self: Even if the property owner says it is ok, parking the 32,000 lb beast on a real lawn may not be a smart idea. Even though Oklahoma was typically dry with little fear of sinking to the point of getting stuck, we cut some pretty good ruts in the edge of the lawn. And while we used our jack pads (cutting boards under the leveling jacks), one jack pushed the pad quite a ways into the ground! But not to worry ... the city will be widening the street and installing curbs in coming months so our ruts will soon disappear! Next time we will choose the circle concrete drive out front! We pulled out our long extension cord and plugged into 15 amp power to keep the batteries up overnight, enjoyed good country-fried steaks in the always-good Circle C Café, and had a great visit. Here you see our hosts beside Rosie before we headed SE to our next stop in Oklahoma City.
2 JAN 04, EDMOND OK -- After a leisurely start, we head SE toward Edmond, a suburb of Oklahoma City. Our drive today is just 150 mi. In Edmond, we park on the wide street in front of my sister and husband's home. She checked with the city office where she was told they do have an ordinance against RV parking in residential areas, "but we are very flexible about family members visiting during the holidays. In fact, I have a family member's RV parked in front of my home at the moment, so go for it!" We went for it ... when we plugged into the 15 amp outlet on the front porch we immediately tripped a GCFI outlet in the house. After about 10 minutes sacking to find the tripped outlet, we re-set it and didn't have any more problems. We enjoyed the visit with family, and worked in visits with a couple of friends living in the area too. "Camping" beside family member homes works very well in cool weather ... in summer when A/C is needed it would be a different story, as the 15 amp plug-in would not operate the motorhome A/C system then!
3 JAN 04, FT WORTH TX -- Another leisurely start ... our destination today is Eagle Mountain RV Ranch on Robertson RD NW of Ft Worth TX, apx 215 miles away. The co-pilot's sister has checked it out for us. It is just over 5 mi from her home in Saginaw (which allows no RV parking whatsoever in residential areas!), and we have reservations. After getting a bum steer from the GPS (turn right rather than left), we turn around in a bank parking lot and head back to the campground. We are shown to a large gravel back-in site with full-hookups. They do have a few pull-through sites w/o sewer connection, but we need to dump after 2 days on the road with 4 adults and 2 small children, so we go for the back-in full-hookup site, #120. While hooking up to sewer, we find we need the extension hose to reach the sewer dump at the extreme rear of the site ... sure glad I got that!! The weather is quite pleasant compared to the sub-zero temps we had in New Mexico! ... and whenever we are outside, we are entertained and brayed at by Little John the Jackass, pastured immediately behind our site. Fortunately, when we sleep, Little John sleeps! Cost for one night is $20
4 JAN 04, MERIDIAN MS -- After a fairly early start, we head east toward Alabama. The d-i-l really wants to make it all the way to Alabama, but as darkness begins to fall we convince her one more overnight stop is a better idea. Total mileage for the day is 515 miles by the time we see a "Camping" sign in Meridian MS, and leave I-20 to find the campground. Heading north on old Hwy 45, we cross a bridge marked "10 Ton" ... hmm, we're a little over that, but we make it just fine. We also note that our headlight when on low-beam leave us nearly blind in the after-dark-in-the-rain-urban traffic. Looks like they have a bad case of bad aim! ...on high-beam they are great, but other drivers don't appreciate that much... At the Benchmark Coach & RV Park (technically in Marion MS just North of Merdian) we find 27 nice concrete pull-through sites with full-hookups, 50 amp power and CATV! Then we take the car off the dolly and head back downtown to the Golden Corral the hungry travelers spotted on the way in! After supper we find that the campground has a free laundry room where the ladies wash a few necessities while I use the free modem connection to check email on my PocketPC. But first, before I can do the email, I get sent to the Shell station and quick stop across the highway for laundry detergent. During the night we awake to a very heavy thunder storm. It sounds pretty fierce with thunder and heavy rain hammering on the fiberglass roof, but we are safe and dry. Cost for one night at Benchmark was $25. The next morning we find a better route back to I-20 ... about 1 mi N of Benchmark is a right turn road to I-45, then South a couple of miles to I-20 where we turn East again toward Alabama.
5 JAN 04, MAXWELL AFB AL -- A leisurely wake-up, breakfast, and we are headed east apx 150 miles toward Montgomery, AL and Maxwell AFB. Driving in light rain all the way from Meridian to Montgomery ... passing through Selma and re-tracing the route of 60's era civil rights marches ... we arrive in Montgomery about lunch time and go by our son's store to return his wife and children to him. After a quick reunion, we walk nearby to a local Mexican restaurant ... my favorite food! After lunch, we drove out to Maxwell AFB. This time we got a concrete pad, pull-through site with full-hookups and 50a electric. Cost for the one night was $12.
6 JAN 04, HAW RIVER NC -- Regretfully leaving the grandkids in the care of their parents, we head north toward Virginia and home ... time to go back to work ): Apx 521 miles later we pull into the Flying J at Haw River NC. We know from previous visits that they provide RV spaces on the outer edge of the car parking area East of the restaurant. After logging 521 miles for the day, then refueling with both diesel and LP, we find a few RVs and trucks already in the RV spaces. Two RVs are toward the rear so we have to pull around them. There is a bobtail truck at the font of the sites, and there is just enough room for us to pull in behind it after getting past the RVs parked further back. Since we are on concrete and on a side-ways slope, we drop the jacks to get level but leave the slides in. If the passenger side were against a curb we might put the bedroom slide out, but there is a lane between us and the curb, so we keep the slide in. We get carry-out from the restaurant and enjoy a peaceful dinner in the motorhome ... even with the slides in, it sure feels roomy without the grandkids, d-i-l and daughter on board! This time our night at Flying J is very peaceful.
13 FEB 04, RICHMOND VA -- For the past few years, we have gone to the RV Expo at the Richmond Raceway. This year "Rosie" has been at the RV dealer just North of Richmond for some warranty service. We have already checked to ensure we can stay overnight at the Raceway, and since Rosie is already in the area, and ready for pickup, we will stay at the Raceway overnight, making it easy to enjoy the RV show for more hours! When we took Rosie to the dealer, we towed the our '67 F-100 on the dolly in order to be able to tow the dolly the 70 miles back home. So, dolly in tow, we drove "Blue" the '67 F-100 to the dealer, then swapped places with the dolly, and Rosie towed Blue to the Raceway. After checking in a couple of places to find out where to check in for the RV parking, we find the right office and pay our $20 fee, then we are told where to find the RV parking area. The RV area at the Raceway is a series of long end-to-end grassy pull-throughs with shared electric (30 amp), and water. Many of the power pedestals are in very poor condition. Since there were just a couple of other RVs there, we looked around to select a pedestal that looked to be in better condition (they had told us that water was turned off for the winter), then set off to enjoy the Expo. In the evening, we had a visit from friends soon to retire from the Army, who were at the Expo to look at motorhomes. They plan to do some RV traveling after retirement in a couple of months. The next morning, after visiting a few exhibits we didn't catch the night before, we drove back home in Yorktown. Cost for the one night in the Raceway RV parking was $20. They do have a dump station on site if needed. Above is a photo of "Blue" on the dolly before pulling out on the original trip to Richmond.
1-6 MAR 04, ANDREWS AFB MD -- The Air Force is sending me TDY to Bolling AFB, so we decide to take Rosie so the co-pilot and Xena (our Maltese dog) can go along. I arranged in advance for reservations at the FamCamp at Andrews AFB. Andrews AFB is the only military campground in the DC area, although Ft Meade will be opening one soon to the North of DC. Andrews AFB is located to the SE of DC just outside the I-495 Beltway. It is an easy 150 mile drive from home, and we always travel up US 17 and US 301, avoiding the heavy traffic on I-64, I-95, and the Beltway. Andrews is a 20-30 (45 in rush-hour traffic?) minute drive from Bolling AFB, so not a bad commute for the TDY. Once again, we have to go all the way around the base to enter the West gate for "oversized vehicles," and open all the compartment doors plus hood, trunk and doors on the towed vehicle for inspection. Then on to the FamCamp. I have my laptop computer along to keep up with email, but discover that the FamCamp has no modem connection. The best option for modem hookup is at the base library about 3 miles or so from the FamCamp. After finding them closed the first time I tried, I figured out their schedule and used their free modem connection 2 or 3 times during our stay. During the week we had my brother and his wife over for dinner one evening. The time went quickly, and on the 7th we headed back south for home. All in all, a pretty neat way to do a TDY. Cost was $16 per night ... and the Air Force pays for the mileage and campground fees when I file my travel voucher!! Getting paid to go RVing is neat!
2-3 APR 04, WILLIAMSBURG VA -- Once again, I got off work at 3pm on Friday, and we set out on the 25 mile drive to the American Heritage RV Park in Williamsburg for another SMART CATS muster. We got a 30 amp site again, and enjoyed the weekend, managing to work in a little shopping at the outlet malls. This time we pulled out on Sunday morning just after the continental breakfast in order to get back home in time for the chapel worship service at Langley AFB Bethel Chapel. Cost this time for the two nights was $52 and some change ... a slight price increase from last season.
21 APR 04, WILLIAMSBURG VA -- Another office off-site, this time at the Navy's Cheatham Annex facility East of Williamsburg off the Colonial Parkway. Again, we decide to do it in the motorhome so we can be comfy, and have our dog with us. Back-in sites, concrete pad barely long enough for the wheelbase of our 40', full-hookup with cable TV ... and this time we have a long TV cable so we can reach the hookup! No ship's group having a loud reunion all night this time, so we had a peaceful night. Cost for the night is $18.
21-22 MAY 04, HAMPTON VA -- I have some maintenance to do, so we decide to put Rosie in the Langley AFB Bethel FamCamp a couple of miles from our home to enjoy the weekend. The price has gone up from $10 to $15. At $10 a night we took their problems in stride, but at $15 the poorly designed hookups, the pot-holed roads, the difficult access due to cut logs lining the edge of the narrow access roads, and the noisy paint gun course next door throughout the daylight hours are a little less tolerable. I sent an email to the 1st Services Sq describing how they could bring their FamCamp up to standards and make it a better facility ... I got no reply. During the weekend, I installed vent covers over our three roof-top vents so we can leave the vents open and reduce the interior heat when the motorhome is stored. I also sanitize the fresh water system, as we noticed "foggy" water a week or so ago. Did we get some bad water on our last stay? ... no matter, the system is chlorinated and fine after the weekend. Rather than Clorox, I use Sodium Dichlor ... the same Chlorinating crystals we use in our hot tub at home. It comes in dry crystals, it only takes a little, and we have it on hand! On Sunday morning we pull out of the site and park Rosie in the visitor/extra vehicle parking area while attending chapel services at Bethel Manor. Then we return to dump tanks and return Rosie to the storage lot on Langley AFB. Cost is $15 a night for the two nights.
28-30 MAY 04, VIRGINIA BEACH VA -- For Memorial Day Weekend we decided a few months ago to go to Virginia Beach. We live so close, but haven't spent much time there. Long in advance, I call the Sea Mist Campground at NAS Oceana Dam Neck Annex for reservations. I have a 4-day weekend from work, so we sleep in on Friday, then drive the 45 miles to Dam Neck in the early afternoon. We took our fwd Maxima we have been towing on the tow dolly to our daughter in NY earlier in the month, so no longer have a vehicle we can comfortably tow on the dolly. Although it is pretty wide, the '67 F-100 works ok on the dolly, but doesn't have a/c so isn't the vehicle we want for exploring the VA Beach area over the warm weekend! So we form a 2-vehicle processing as the co-pilot drives our daughter's '95 T-Bird along behind the motorhome. It was having mechanical problems, but repairs have been made, and the T-Bird is running again. At Dam Neck campground, they have 24 water & electric sites with 30 amp. There is a lot of digging and trenching going on, which the manager tells us is the installation of sewer and 50 amp electric. Their concrete pads are wide and long ... very nice! But when we connected to the electric, our digital line checker indicated a ground fault. After some fooling around with the connection, the ground fault went away. (just before leaving on Monday, the ground fault indicator returned ... strange ...). The beach is an easy walk over the board walkway, and very nice for walks in the sand. They also have a free cookout in the campground pavilion at 6:30 pm every Saturday! We had a great weekend, spending some time on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach to the north, and visiting the Strawberry Festival at Pungo, a few miles south. On Sunday morning, we attended chapel at the Navy chapel on Dam Neck ... a neat building in kind of a semi-circle format. All in all, it was a very enjoyable weekend! Cost was $15 per night.
2-4 JUL 04, WASHINGTON DC -- About 4 months ago our daughter, who lives in New York state, told us she wanted us to meet her in DC for the 4th of July weekend. She wanted to take in the fireworks display on the National Mall from Bolling AFB like we had done once a few years ago. I called Andrews AFB for reservations, but they were already full for the holiday weekend. So I called Ft Meade, which I had heard had a new campground, and got a reservation. On the afternoon of 2 Jun, they called our home to ask if we were going to use our reservation for June. The co-pilot informed them the reservation was for July ... after some checking they said, "OK, we have you for July. Thank you!" Then in mid-June they called again, asking if we still wanted the reservation for the weekend of the 4th of July. I assured them we did indeed want the reservation. Again, we had a 4 day weekend, so departed home on Friday about mid-morning for the apx 3 hr drive to Ft Meade. We arrived with no problem. The entry gate barriers are a bit tight, but we made it through. At the campground we find a very nice facility. Entrance and exit are via electric gate. They have full-hookups, 50 amp electric, CATV, wide grassy sites, and large and long concrete pads. Very strange that everything about the campground is absolutely first-class with the exception of the pads being obviously not level! ...we even see some that are noticeable low in the middle and high on each end!!. Some pads would work for trailers, but would be totally unacceptable for larger motorhomes. Our pad is a little low to the front, but not bad. After getting settled in our site, I walk a mile or so out the back gate to meet our daughter at McDonalds. She has no military ID and no military decal on the car. With me driving, we get back to the campground with no problem. On the 4th, we attended chapel on post, then got our gear together and headed for Bolling AFB for the fireworks display. The co-pilot insisted we had to be there early to get a good spot along the riverbank ... we had almost no competition at all. We sat up our chairs, got out our books and goodies and sat back to enjoy the afternoon. After an hour or so, it began to sprinkle. We donned our ponchos, popped up our umbrellas, and weathered it well. It stopped raining. But about 45 minutes later it began raining again. Then the wind picked up and the rain got heavier. Other people were fleeing for cover ... we hunkered down under our ponchos and umbrellas. After an hour or so of intense rain and wind we became aware that while we were pretty much dry, our chairs had somehow become filled with water ... and we were sitting in it. When the rain let up a little, we discussed the situation. More weather was obviously coming, and it was apx 4 ˝ to 5 hours yet before the fireworks display on the Mall, so we decided to head back to Ft Meade. We drove in some high water getting out of DC, then found the sun shining when we got back to Ft Meade. We changed into dry clothes, and after dark watched the Mall fireworks on TV, then caught the Ft Meade fireworks sitting outside in the campground. On Monday, my brother and his wife come out from Alexandria for a cookout. It was an enjoyable weekend. Our cost was a bit confusing as we were overcharged and later got a refund, but final overnight cost was $25 per night ... a little pricey for a military campground, but a good price for the DC area in general. In the photo is the cookout group on Monday, minus the photographer.
9-10 JUL 04, WILLIAMSBURG VA -- The July SMART CATS muster comes while the co-pilot is visiting her sister in Texas, so I'm going to go alone ... well, me and Xena the Maltese dog. I got off work a little after 3pm on Friday. Since the fwd car is gone I'll put the '67 F-100 ("Blue") on the tow dolly so I'll have transportation in Williamsburg. This time, at American Heritage RV Park, I get a 50 amp site, and pretty level. It's another good weekend with the SMART CATS. When I begin preparing to pull out, I pull the motorhome and dolly out of the site to the road, and then I discover it's a little difficult to get the standard shift F-100 tied down on the dolly on an uphill slope. It rolls back a couple of inches after I stop in the dolly, and the tilt bed tilts back down. Finally, I get the F-100 in position and set the emergency brake to hold it in position. After getting it all tied down, verifying transmission is in neutral, tow lights connected, and everything else is ready, I get back in the motorhome and take off. A few feet after starting up there is a left turn toward the exit road ... I normally check the towed in the rear view mirror when turning just to verify that everything looks normal, tires are inflated, wheels are turning as they should. etc. When I look at "Blue" in the outside mirror, "Blue's" rear wheels are dragging on the dirt road ... ooops ... I forgot to release the emergency brake. A quick stop, I release the brake, and we're off again, headed for home. Cost for the two nights of full-hookup with 50 amps is $56.08
6-7 AUG 04, SUFFOLK VA -- The SMART CATS muster this month is at Davis Lakes & Campground just south of Suffolk. This time we have a new towed! ...in mid-July, I happened see a gold 2000 Honda Odyssey on a used car lot in Newport News ... exactly what we want to tow behind maroon, rose & gold Rosie! We sold the dolly ... towed it almost 7,000 miles in 11 months! Here's a pic of the new "toad" behind the motorhome. And we just got the Blue Ox Aventa II tow bar setup on the Odyssey this past week. We have an appointment for installation of a Roadmaster Brakemaster supplemental brake system next week, but we'll tow this weekend without the supplemental brakes. Leaving home about 4 pm on Friday we arrive at Davis Lakes after a leisurely drive down main street in Suffolk ... we'll take the bypass on the way home! When we made our campground reservation in July, I requested a 50 amp site. But we're the last of the CATS to arrive. All the regular sites are full, and they put us by the shelter where there is a 30 amp outlet ... no water or sewer connection. We have plenty of fresh water in our tank, but the 30 amp outlet won't work with an RV with a GCFI system. The outlet breaker immediately trips when we plug in. There are no other sites available, so we run an extension cord through the window of the shelter. The weather is unseasonable cool, so the 15 amp connection will work fine for lights, etc. On Sunday, we attended worship at the United Methodist Church on main street in Suffolk, then returned to the campground to check out. They discounted our fees for the shelter hook-up, but refused to believe there was a problem with the hookup. We'll know what to expect next time we visit there ... if there is a next time. Cost for the two nights was $41.80 ... kind of steep for a 15 amp connection...
13 AUG 04, HAW RIVER NC -- A little after 3 pm, we are headed off to Alabama on leave. Time to visit our sons and grandkids again, and our daughter is flying down from NY state too! About dark, we arrive at the Flying J at Haw River NC, refuel, and then pull to the RV spots on the edge of the parking lot. We're the first RV there this time so we pull all the way to the front end on the curb by a field where there are a bunch of old truck trailers parked. We put the jacks down on the concrete due to the marked sideways slope. This time, since we are against the curb, we put the bedroom slide out. That makes it much easier for the co-pilot who sleeps on the other side of the bed to get in and out! Once again we get carry-out from the restaurant and enjoy a peaceful dinner in the motorhome. The night at Flying J is very peaceful.
13-20 AUG 04, MONTGOMERY AL -- The drive from Haw River through South Carolina and Georgia to Montgomery is uneventful, even with the heavy Atlanta traffic. We never take the bypass when passing through on I-85 as we don't find it much different from the straight-through route unless you hit it during rush hour. Actually, both are about equally bad then too! The new towed ... the gold Honda Odyssey ... with new tow bar and new supplemental braking system, tows very well. We wanted an Odyssey because it requires no alterations and only minimal preparations before each 8 hrs of towing ... and we wanted a mini-van so I can carry my recumbent bicycle inside out of the weather. Arriving in Montgomery, we head for the North Bypass and Leisure Isle RV Park. Our son has moved, but is still closer to Leisure Isle than to Maxwell AFB. They will be able to drop the grandkids off at the RV park on their way to work each day! Once again we get a gravel surface, back-in, full-hookup site with 30 amp electric and cable tv. The water pressure isn't that great, but it will work. Our week in Montgomery with the kids and grandkids goes all too quickly. Cost for the 8 nights is $105 ... that is $15 per night with one-night discount for the week paid in advance. Oh, and we remembered from last time that they take cash only. We did check out the new RV park across the highway. It was ok, but still under construction, and we understand the price is around $25-$30 (steep compared to Leisure Isle!). We also heard that the "fresh" water is muddy ... half the facility is still under construction so that should clear up later.
21 AUG 04, FAYETTEVILLE NC -- On our way back home, we had planned to go via I-20/I-95 top visit friends in Fayetteville NC. After we learned they would not be in town when we pass through, we decided to overnight there anyway. We were stationed there at Pope AFB almost 10 years ago, so will enjoy the opportunity to look around there. We left Montgomery about 8 am. It is 540 miles to the Ft Bragg Smith Lake Recreation Area, a little longer than we like to drive in one day, but at least it can be done in all daylight during the summer months. We arrived shortly before dusk but after campground office hours. The posted directions say to go ahead and find a site, then return to pay in the morning. No knowing the lay of the land, and seeing winding dirt roads ahead, we unhook the towed and drive the very dusty roads in search of the campground. After some tentative turns, we come up a hill and find campsite to both the left and the right. We go right and pull into a nice concrete pull-through with full-hookups and 50 amp electric. When we arrive at the campsite I discover that when we disconnected the towed, I laid the big clips for the deflector towers on the tow bar frame ... one is still there, but the other is not. After re-driving the route from where we unhooked, we chalk that one up to experience. I'll get some keepers made after we get home so the clips can't get away again. For now, we can use wire as a clip ... as a country boy, I do have some bailing wire with me. You carry bailing wire with you too, right? The campground is very peaceful, and there are several open sites. If we didn't know there was a city around us, we would think we were miles away in the woods. On Sunday morning, we attend early worship at the Pope AFB chapel. We find several people from our time there still attend the chapel. We have a nice visit, then return to the campground to prepare for departure. As we pass the office we stop and find an attendant there so are able to register, pay our fees, and check out all at the same time. Cost for the night is $13 ... very decent! A gentle rain during the night has suppressed the dusty roads, so after getting everything stowed and the Odyssey hooked up, we find that driving out is not as dirty as driving in was.
6-10 OCTOBER, HARRINGTON DE -- Several months ago I mailed in reservations for the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) GEAR (Great Eastern Area Rally) to be held at the Delaware State Fair Grounds in Harrington. Finally the time has arrived! We leave home in mid-morning for the 230 some miles to Harrington. The drive up US 17/US 301 along the outskirts of DC is pleasant. It would be about 40 miles shorter if we went via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, but the toll would be about $24 for the RV and towed ... maybe someday, but not this time. Harrington is located on US-13, and accessible via 4 lane highway from at least three directions. We do find a brief two lane stretch, but it doesn't last long. As we approach Harrington, we make sure we have our registration placard in the front windshield and we follow the signs and the posted guides to the rally check-in area at the Fair Grounds. After check-in, we are directed to a large open field and told to unhook the towed and await the guide to the parking area. After unhooking the towed, we join a procession of several other motorhomes following the guide, and proceed to the parking area. Lucky us ... we are on the last row right beside US 13. There are no hookups of any kind, and generator hours are 7 am to 11 pm. The weather is almost cool, so we won't be needing the a/c. With vents and windows open at night, we do find the traffic noise disruptive to sleep. Later on, after many coaches pulled out after the last full day, we did move to a location much further from the highway. Our first rally was great! There were 600+ family coaches registered, and over 800 present including vendors and display coaches. The fairgrounds is a great place for this kind of event, with plenty of parking, two dump & water stations, and limited electrical hookups for those who need them for medical reasons. The rally program is filled with seminars on a variety of topics of interest. Two very good seminars I attended were the safe-driving course (which resulted in a discount on our insurance), and the fire safety course. There were lots of vendors, and of course some of them had some things we just had to buy! On Sunday, the Coaches for Christ group sponsored an ecumenical worship service. Then we went to the international buffet at the Midway Slots Casino on the grounds. The rally was great. Advance registration cost for the dry camp generator area was $80 for the week. We hated to head for home, especially when we encountered stand-still traffic due to road construction between Harrington and Washington DC. But the wait wasn't terribly long, and we did very much enjoy a stop for lunch at Tia's Mexican Restaurant in Bowie MD on our way south and back home. We're already looking forward to attending another rally sometime in the future! The photo above shows you just one of the dozens of rows of parked motorhomes at the rally.
5-6 NOV 04, GASBURG VA -- The SMART CATS muster for November is at The Club at Lake Gaston Resorts at Gasburg VA. We got away a little after 3 pm and decided to take US 17 over the James River and down to US 58 rather than going through the Monitor Merimac Tunnel, where we would have to stop at the inspection station to assure the inspector that our LP was turned off. We thought the James River bridge would be faster, but the draw bridge had be opened and was still in process of closing when we met the backup at the foot of the bridge. So, it took us an hour to make the first 15 miles or so. The sun was down by the time we headed south from Emporia, and it was quite dark by the time we left I-85 in North Carolina to angle back into Virginia to Gasburg. I had checked the route, so knew pretty much what the GPS would find as we went. Then, after the last left turn toward the campground we realized the campground was not where we expected it to be. Finding a small business where we could pull off the road, I walked across the road to a pizza place. They had never heard of any RV park, or it seemed, even Lake Gaston Resorts! We were lost. We decided we needed to go back to the previous road and go further north before turning left, so we pulled back onto the road to find a place to turn around. A short distance away we found a church with a large parking lot ... we went in one entrance and out the other, headed back. After reaching the last road and turning north, it was a short distance to the Virginia state line, then we found another left turn. The GPS was silent, showing a black void where the left turn road was ... it was not on the GPS! We turned anyway, and after the prescribed 7 miles found The Club. At the security gate we were given a map and directions to our site. The guard called the snackbar where the CATS were having their potluck supper and alerted them to our arrival. Some of the members came over and helped us get backed into the site, then we went to supper. I returned later for drinks and completed our hookups. The site was either gravel or asphalt ... we couldn't tell due to the heavy cover of fallen leaves. It was in a nice wooded area and had full hook-ups with 30 amp electric. Most sites were not level, but by parking toward the rear of the site, we got level enough for the automatic levelers to work. It was an enjoyable weekend in the woods, with lots of time spent with the group around a campfire in the large metal fire ring provided on each site. We went to a local flea market and nursery on Saturday, and then had breakfast at the clubhouse before departing on Sunday morning. We did find the local United Methodist Church, but it was part of a multi-point charge and their services were too late in the morning for us to make in conjunction with the campground checkout and the 3 hour drive home. We took a slightly different route home, avoiding the brief jog into North Carolina and the short run up I-95. Cost for the two nights at The Club was $50.
3-4 DEC 04, VIRGINIA BEACH VA -- The SMART CATS muster for December is at KOA Indian Cove campground in Virginia Beach. I got off work at 1:30 in order to pick up the motorhome at the dealer where it had been for the past month for some small repairs. Getting it picked up & getting the information I wanted from the service dept took longer than we expected. A couple of parts are still on order so we will take it back later when the parts come in. We head south on US 17 and immediately find traffic is at a stand-still ... unusual for south-bound in mid-afternoon, but several blocks along we find a car stalled in the right lane. After that, it isn't bad, even on I-64 South through the tunnel. Traffic is heavy all the way to Virginia Beach, but there are no more stand-stills. We have to stop at the inspection station approaching the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel to assure the inspection that our LP is turned off at the tank, then back into traffic and through the tunnel. We finally arrive at the KOA Dealer after dark at apx 5:30 pm. At the gate there is a sign saying, "Proceed to store for registration." We find the store a block further on the right, and make a right turn toward it. Now we find a sign directing us to make a u-turn around the center island … HA! The streets at this point are wide, but I am still doubtful we can do the prescribed u-turn. I swing real wide onto the dirt to the right and begin the turn. We make it, but would not have if cars had been parked in the parking spaces by the swimming pool at the end of the u-turn. We are directed to site 231 down from the bathhouse, pointed out as a glowing lightbulb surrounded by darkness off in the distance across the entrance road. It is not well lighted in the campground area, but we proceed very slowly and find Site 231, a full-hookup pull-through site w/30 amp electric. Since the coach is winterized & we brought bottled water, I hook up electric only. Our surge protector indicates the voltage is marginal, but ok. We joined the group for the usual potluck dinner in the game room by the store. After dinner, I put the icicle lights along out on the awning and strung the rope lights along the ground under the awning. Several others have a variety of Christmas decorations up, one has lights, a lighted tree, and a lit-up inflated Santa! We had a good weekend, went shopping at Oceana NAS, and enjoyed the fellowship. On Sunday morning, I led a brief worship service for the group. The campground has 490 sites, about 1/3 full-hookups, maybe 75 no hook-up, & the rest water & electric only. Some internal roads are very narrow between large trees ... there was no way we could continue forward out of our site to get out in right direction, and several smaller rigs had difficulty getting out on the access road behind our site ... we had to double back and head out the way we came in. With several empty sites to our right that was easy ... if the campground were full, it might be a challenge! After getting turned around, we stopped in another site on the way out, got the Odyssey hooked up on the tow-bar, and headed for home. Cost is $21/night plus tax. With 10% group discount, our cost for two nights was $42.71. Below is a pair of pictures from the weekend at KOA Indian Cove ... one at night, and one during daylight.
RV TRAVELS SUMMARY TO DATE...
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States overnighted in - AL, DE, GA, MD, MS, NC, NM, OK, SC, TX, VA = 11
States traveled in - AL, DE, GA, LA, MD, MS, NC, NM, OK, SC, TX, VA = 12
Nights lived in the motorhome this year = 47
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