Wednesday, June 21, 2017

2017 The TRIP--Canada & Alaska

This Sunday, June 25, 2017, Jeri and I (and Sugar Belle) will hook up our travel trailer and head out on a trip of a lifetime, going to Illinois to see family and check on our farm crops, then West to Colorado to visit family and spend the 4th of July.  On July 6th we will point our rig north and travel through Wyoming and Montana to Sweetgrass, MT, where we will cross the border into Alberta, Canada and continue north and west through Alberta and British Columbia to Dawson Creek, BC.  There we will start at Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway (formerly the Alcan Highway) and pass through the Yukon Territory, ending up about 1,400 miles later at the terminus of the Alaska Highway in Delta Junction, Alaska.

From there we will travel to Fairbanks and we may do a long day trip up to the Arctic Circle (not 100% sure on that one yet, though).  After Fairbanks we will head south down the Parks Highway and visit Denali National Park, then Talkeetna (our jumping off place several years ago when we climbed Denali).  While there we plan to do a flight seeing trip around Denali.  After Talkeetna we will head south to Anchorage, Seward, Homer, Valdez and then back up to Tok to take the Alaska Highway back into Canada.

Prior to arriving back in Watson Lake, YT, we will jump off the Alaska Highway and head south on the Cassiar Highway, eventually coming back into the USA near Oroville, Washington.  Then south and east to Idaho, Utah, SW Colorado and New Mexico and eventually getting on I-10 and getting back home.

I hope to update this post regularly with text, pictures and even a few videos as we travel on this awesome adventure, so I hope you come along for the ride.  See you on the road.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

2017 Fort DeSoto Park return after 45 Years

Sunday, May 14, 2017:  Tomorrow morning Jeri and I will hook up the trailer and head over to Fort DeSoto Park, south of St. Petersburg, FL for three nights.  Besides a short getaway, this trip will serve three other purposes:  1) testing all the new modifications and additions to the trailer before The Big trip to Alaska in June; 2) re-create the first picture taken of Jeri and I as a couple at the fort 45 years ago; and 3)  renew an old friendship with one of my great high school friends, David Champion and his wife.

The first picture ever taken of us as a couple on our first camping trip together that we want to re-create.
I have already taken most stuff up to the trailer in storage and yesterday I turned the refrigerator on to run on propane, so it would cool down.  When I checked it this morning the fridge was 39 dg and the freezer -1 dg, but I did an experiment because on our last trip we were having problems keeping the refrigerator cold enough.  I started recording video on my iPhone and put it in the fridge, then shut the door for several seconds and lo and behold, when I took my phone out and replayed the video I found that the light inside was not turning off when the door was closed.  This little bulb generates quite a bit of heat, too. It is hot enough that it burned my fingers a bit when I tried to take it out without any padding.  For now I have the bulb out so it will not generate heat inside the fridge. I will build up either the little contact lever or the fridge door where it contacts the contact lever and see if that will turn the light off when the door is closed.

I also loaded the bed of the trailer with stuff I usually carry when we camp and I put the Blue Ox Sway Pro hitch bar on the truck.  So in the morning all we will need to do is take Jeri's clothes and the cold stuff for the fridge.  We cannot check in until 1:00 PM and it will take us four hours or so to get there, so we have no need to really rush around in the morning.

Monday, May 15, 2017:  We loaded our fridge stuff and some other items into the truck and departed for the trailer storage at 9:30 AM, transferred all the stuff to the trailer, hooked the trailer up to the truck and departed for Fort DeSoto Park at 10:10 AM.

Our rig about to leave the storage facility

Since we were on Florida highway 40 and going right past the place and it was almost 11:00 AM and we had not eaten any breakfast before leaving we stopped at Essex Seafood and treated ourselves to a scallops & onion rings boat (Jeri) and a fried clam strips & french fries boat (me, although we both shared).  To us and many others Essex has some of the best seafood around.  Their breading is light and a bit crispy--just perfect!  We actually had to wait a few minutes for them to open and Jeri was the first in the door--we were their first customers of the day.  Since we have Sugar Belle with us we ate in the truck so she would not get hot and of course, she enjoyed a clam strip or two and a couple of french fries.

Hi, Anne Marie!!!!  We're here!!

After enjoying our early lunch (we were stuffed) we got back on the road and checked in at Fort DeSoto Park at 3:02 PM for our reserved campsite, #119.  It was right at 200 miles from where we store our trailer to the park.  We did stop one other time at a Shell station for a bathroom break and I topped up the truck's 36 gallon gas tank.

Our rig in campsite #119

Our campsite is where the blue & white dot is.
We got the trailer backed in and all set up by around 4:00 PM if I remember correctly, then we just sort of chilled out a bit, walked the dog, took some pictures. It was hot, a bit over 90 dg F. I did not hook up to the park's fresh water spigot, so we could use our onboard water pump to provide fresh water out of our onboard tank.  I wanted to drain it down so I can refill it with completely fresh water before our Alaska trip in late June.  
Jeri relaxing
I am pleased to report that the new Progressive Industries EMS HW-30C a/c power connection protection came up and worked perfectly, indicating the a/c power at the park's power pedestal in our campsite was okay and, of course, that the EMS system works perfect.  Up until now it was only tested by plugging it into our Champion 3,400 watt generator.  Success is sweet!

Jeri made a wonderful goulash for our dinner.  Very good!

Our refrigerator is working fine and keeping nice and cool since I removed the heat producing interior bulb that was not turning off when the fridge door was closed and the little Camco interior battery driven fan is also helping keep the temps consistent inside, too.

After dinner we watched some TV, streaming a movie using our Amazon Firestick from home and our new Mobley ZTE wifi hotspot hooked to AT&T's $20 a month unlimited "Car Connect" data plan.  It works pretty well even though we are not getting a real great AT&T cellular signal here in the park (our Verizon signal is pretty weak, too).  After that I raised our over the air antenna that I added the Wineguard Wingman to a couple of months ago, used an app on my phone to locate the direction of the closest over the air TV broadcast stations and turned the antenna to point there.  I did a channel scan on the TV and we are getting over 50 digital channels perfectly clear (most of which are just crap).

We went to bed around 10:30 PM or so.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017:  Neither of us slept real well last night. I had an air conditioner vent pointing at the bed, so when the a/c cycled on I'd be cold and have to cover up, then it would cycle off and I'd get hot and have to uncover.  Repeated over and over.  Not sure why I didn't just get up and turn the dang vent.

After an egg and juice for breakfast we went to the East Beach for an hour or so.  There were hardly any other people there.  I guess it is usually like this, but I think the reason is because the water was kind of full of flotsam and jetsam and not pretty, while the North Beach is simple beautiful!  I believe the North Beach has frequently been named the most beautiful beach in the USA.
The East Beach at Fort DeSoto Park
Jeri at the East Beach--hardly anyone else there
Arriving back at the trailer and after having a bite of lunch, Jeri rested a bit and I got our Weber Q1200 grill out and hooked it up to our onboard propane system.  I recently converted the grill to run on either the trailer's LP system or the little green canisters, so this evening will be its first actual cooking test hooked to the trailer LP.  We are having guests for a cookout tonight; one of my best high school friends and his wife, who we have never met are coming to see us.  They live about four miles up the road from the park in Tierra Verde.  David and Dij Champion.  We have not seen Dave since he came to a small gathering my Mother got together at her house for Jeri and I right after we got married almost 45 years ago!!  It will be fantastic to see Dave again and meet Dij.

I hooked up to the campsites fresh water spigot, using, as always, a pressure regulator, hose and inline water filter.  I was getting tired of hearing the onboard water pump come on--it's rather noisy.

Dave texted me at 3:50 PM, advising they were leaving at 4:00 PM to come to our campsite and they got there around 4:20 PM.  It was absolutely wonderful, great, awesome, fantastic to see Dave again after so-o-o-o many years and to meet his wife of 44 years for the first time!!  Getting re-acquainted was so much fun!

We had a few "sundowners" on the "down-low" (shhhh, don't tell the park--it's prohibited), then I fired up the grill and cooked cheeseburgers and a couple of hot dogs.  The grill worked great hooked to the trailer's onboard LP--it actually seemed to be a bit hotter.  Another item successfully tested and working to perfection!

We enjoyed a nice dinner and a fantastic evening of visiting until Dave and Dij left a bit after 9:30 PM for their short ride home.  They will come visit us at our home in Palm Coast after we get back from our Alaska trip.

We puttered around a bit and went to bed a bit after 10:00 PM.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017:  This morning, while thinking about the great visit we had with Dave and Dij I realized we had not taken a single picture!!  What a colossal blunder!!

I slept great last night and did not wake up at all until just after 6:00 AM and I got up shortly after.  Jeri did not sleep well again, so I left her sleeping and she got up around 8:00 AM.  Yes, I aimed the a/c vent mostly away from the bed.  LOL

I cooked eggs and made toast for Jeri and I this morning, then did the dishes.  After that we headed over to the old fort to re-create the picture taken nearly 45 years ago.  Arriving at the fort and looking at the gun emplacements we noticed they had painted the equipment black.  As you can see from the first picture above they were white back in 1972.  Unfortunately for Jeri, since she had to sit on the quite warm equipment, while I got to stand behind her.

I asked a man who was there with his family to see the fort if he would be so kind as to take several pictures of us, after I explained how we wanted to re-create the first picture ever taken of us all those years ago and showing him the picture.  He and his family were very happy to help us with this and he did a great job taking the pictures.  We did get the angle a bit off and this very nice, helpful man was quite a bit taller than our friend who took the original picture, so that angle is a bit different, but all in all, we are quite happy with the results.  See what you think.

45 years later..  We don't look a bit different, do we? Ha Ha
So, what do you think?  Did we do a good job re-creating the picture?  I have wanted to do this for a long time and I am so happy we finally got to do it.  It's been a fantastic almost 45 years with this woman.

After lunch and after it cooled down a bit we took our pup, Sugar Belle, to the dog park and beach area.  The dog park was huge and divided into two sections; one for big dogs and another for smaller dogs.  Jeri went to the beach while I took Sugar to the smaller dog park section and turned her loose.  She was not very interested in running around for some reason and just sort of hung around close to me.  She had the entire small dog section to herself, too.  So I took her to the beach and she did seem to have fun for a bit running into the edge of the ocean (Tampa Bay) and back, but all in all I do not think she likes the beach much more than I do.  LOL  I rinsed Sugar off at the dog park hose and we went back to our campsite.

We grilled a steak and potatoes & onions in foil for dinner.  It was good!  After dinner we watched a bit of TV and streamed another movie via our Amazon Firestick-Mobley AT&T hotspot.  Worked great!

Thursday, May 18, 2017:  I got up early, as usual and had coffee while Jeri caught a few more winks.  After she got up I fixed her a cup of coffee and she made a canned potatoes and fried eggs breakfast--good.  
Great breakfast!  Very tasty!
Then we took our time breaking camp and putting things away.  Check out time was 11:00 AM and we left our campsite at 10:56 AM and headed to the campground's dump stations to dump and flush our gray and black tanks.  We had to wait a few minutes for campers in front of us to finish, then we did our dumping, flushing and tank prep and left the park at 11:22 AM, headed for home.

We stopped at Essex Seafood again on the way home for a late lunch and arrived safely home around 4:00 PM.  We decided to take the trailer home to make it easier to empty and clean it and since we had found a few roaches in the trailer Jeri had made arrangements with our home pest control people (SPC) to treat the trailer Friday.

Epilogue & Additional Pictures:  All in all we had a great time on this trip.  Fort DeSoto Park is a really nice place--even Jeri said she would be happy to come back here again sometime.  Our refrigerator worked fine the entire trip.  Removing the always on heat source inside from the interior light that was not turning off and the little fan inside seemed to really help, in spite of the outside temperatures running into the low 90's.  I was very pleased that all my modifications and additions to the trailer worked out great, so we feel it is pretty much ready for our BIG ALASKA TRIP in late June (stay tuned!).  The bug guy came out Friday and treated the trailer for the minor (we hope) roach problem.  I did find one big dead roach that evening, but have not found anymore yet.

In preparation for the trip I ordered two better wheel chocks, another 25' of drinking water hose in case we need more than the 25' we normally carry, a new ice cube tray, a couple of microfiber bug cleaning sponges to make it easier to get bug splatters off the front of the trailer and truck, some fire starter cubes and a 13" pizza stone.  The stone is just to place in the oven when baking anything so the heat is more evenly distributed inside the oven.

On Saturday, I tried a new method I read about on an RV forum (IRV2) to clean the awning on the trailer.  It was kind of dirty.  I put about a half cup of bleach and a bit of Dawn dishwashing soap in a gallon of water in a yard sprayer and really hosed down the awning top and bottom with this solution, then rolled the awning shut and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before opening it and rinsing it off thoroughly.  It was much cleaner, but I repeated the process a second time and the awning looks really good now. While I was at it I did a light wash on the entire trailer and stripped the sheets off the bed for washing.  On Sunday morning we took the trailer back to storage.

Fort DeSoto North Beach--absolutely beautiful!
Jeri on the walk at the top of the fort
One of the two gun emplacements at Fort DeSoto.  The guns were never fired in anger.
Jeri at camp

My favorite place at the beach--in the shade!

See you all in June-August--check back for updates while we are on our trip to Alaska.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April 2017 Bullet Trailer Improvements

After our earlier April RV adventure down to Long Point Park I have done a few additional improvements to our Bullet travel trailer.  We have another short trip planned for mid-May prior to THE Trip (from home in Florida, to Illinois and Colorado then up to the Canada, where we will travel through Alberta and British Columbia to Dawson Creek, BC, where we will get on the Alaska Highway (this year is its 75th anniversary) and follow it up to Alaska where we will spend a few weeks touring around the state before coming back.  This trip will have us on the road for at least two months or so and will cover somewhere around 14,000 miles!

So, I wanted to get some improvements done before our May trip to test them thoroughly on that trip before THE Trip.  We will also be taking our two grandsons camping for a few days after they get out of school--either late May or very early June.  So, we will have two trips to test everything before THE Trip.

The changes:

1.  The most important change I made was purchasing and installing a Progressive Industries EMS HW30C A/C power monitoring system.  EMS=Energy Management System.  For the past couple of years we have relied on a Surgeguard 30 Amp dog bone type surge protection unit to protect our trailer and onboard systems and electronics from being damaged by power surges.  Campgrounds sometimes have problems with their wiring, voltage levels, other campers could back into a power pedestal and other problems that may cause a variety of surges, wiring and other issues.  

Typically what I do when we get our trailer into a campsite is take the dog bone surge guard to the power pedestal.  I make sure all the pedestal power breakers are off and I plug the surge guard into the pedestal, then turn on the 30 amp breaker.  The Surgeguard unit has lights that indicate some types of mis-wiring and if power is present, but that is all it does other than over voltage surge protection.  Once I have verified all is well with this, I then plug the trailer in and turn on the 30 amp breaker on the pedestal.  Next I go into the trailer and check the voltmeter I have plugged in.  This is done at every campsite, every time.

Why is something like an EMS important?  Both low and high voltages can damage or cause premature failures in things like the air conditioner, reefer and many other items in the trailer.  Mis-wiring can cause many problems, one of the most serious being what is called a "hot skin" condition, where the trailer's frame and other metal parts have 120 volts of A/C on them--a very dangerous condition that can cause electrocution.

For some time now I have been researching EMS units and most people recommend the one I purchased, so I bit the bullet and bought one.  It is guaranteed for life and Progressive Industries provides 7x24x365 customer service if there are issues.  

This unit is hard wired inside the trailer, so it is always functioning when on A/C shore power and is protected from the elements and theft.  It also has a remote LED display that cycles continually with readouts for voltage, amps, frequency and any errors.  It protects the trailer from just about every bad power condition there is and if it senses a fault, for example the voltage drops below 104 volts, it shuts the power off to the trailer in less than one nanosecond.  If the condition is corrected the unit will monitor it for a preset time and if stable, turn the power back on to the trailer.
This is the Progressive Industries EMS HW-30C with remote that I installed.
I mounted ours in an unused area below the pantry to the left of the trailer's main power distribution center and converter.  I removed the 120 vac #10 gauge wiring going into the converter and ran it to the input of the EMS, then using a short jumper piece of #10 gauge wiring ran from the output of the EMS back to the converter's A/C input.  It was simple and fast.
The installed EMS box.  A wood panel velcros over this opening.
I mounted the remote display using Command velcro strips to the panel to the left of the entertainment center, but running the wire up through one corner of the pantry.  It was all very easy to do.
The box on the left is the remote readout for the EMS.

Closeup of the remote on the left.  The switch can bypass the EMS in case of a component failure in the EMS, but per Progressive Industries if there is a component failure and error code indicating so, a call to their 7x24x365 hot line is suggested before going into bypass mode.  The surge protection works in either case.
Since the trailer was at our storage facility when I did this I tested the new set up using our Champion 3,400 watt inverter generator.  Since I already knew this type of generator does not have a neutral-to-ground bond built in and the EMS will show that as a fault and not allow power through to the trailer I had already made a neutral-to-ground bonding Edison plug.  This plugs into one of the 120 volt Edison-type outlets on the generator, thus providing the neutral/ground bonding.

Anyway, I power up the generator and plugged the trailer in and after the EMS unit's built in time delay of 15 seconds the trailer was powered up.  Awesome!  I ran the air conditioner and a few other items and watched the amps being drawn change on the display.  Test successful.

So, now all we have to do when pulling into a campsite is plug the trailer's shore power cord in and the EMS will take care of the protection automatically.  Nice!

2.  We carry a small Weber Q1200 LPG grill in the trailer and use it often when RV'ing.  We have used MANY of those small green canisters of LP gas over the past couple of years.  After reading many RV blogs, forums and YouTube videos I decided to modify the grill to use the trailer's onboard LP gas instead of the green canisters that always seem to be empty or get empty right in the middle of cooking something.

I went to a web site,  They sell all kinds of parts, hoses and pieces to do grill conversions and seem to be very knowledgeable about Weber grills.  I called their phone number and told the very nice, helpful person (Ren) what I wanted to do and he told me what parts I needed, so I ordered them on the spot.

I removed the regulator and mount and replaced it with the two brass parts in the picture just below.

The male QD and mating brass connector to the grill's control and gas pipe.
The 12' gas hose I got. They will make any length desired. The female QD on the left attaches to the male QD in the picture above and the male QD on the hose attaches to the female QD on the rear of our trailer.  Our Bullet came with a grill, but I don't use it because I like the Weber and so, the trailer had a gas line running from the trailer's onboard LP regulator to the rear of the trailer.
The original regulator from the grill with the female QD attached on the left side. If we want to use the green canisters the green canister would screw into the right side and the female QD on the left side would plug into either the male QD on the grill (where the hose goes) or it can even be attached to the male QD end of the hose (that would be attached to the grill).
It took me all of about 15 minutes to make all the modifications, after which I used soapy water to test for leaks; there were none.  I first tested it with the green canisters, then took the grill to the trailer and used the hose to attach the grill to the trailer line.  Worked perfect.  We will test this more fully on the May trip, but it should be fine.

2017 Long Point Park

Tuesday, April 4, 2017:  Jeri and I decided we want to take short trips in April and May prior to leaving around June 24th on "The Trip" (Florida to Dawson Creek, BC where we will take the Alaska Highway up to Alaska and spend a few weeks seeing different places prior to heading back home to Florida.  We also want to take our youngest Grandsons, Jack and Max for a short camping trip before we go to Alaska.  Anyway, Jeri booked us into Brevard County's Long Point Park for Tuesday, April 4th through Thursday, April 6th.  We will head back on on April 7.  This campground is only a little over 130 miles from home.

We brought the trailer home from storage on Saturday to make it easier to get ready for the trip and I had a maintenance item or two to do on the trailer, like sanitizing the freshwater system.  I got all this completed and we finished packing the trailer Monday, so we could head out for the campground around 10:00 AM Tuesday morning.  Unfortunately, Tuesday was a day of some intense thunderstorms and monsoon rains, so we waited and pondered what to do.

We had about decided to just wait until Wednesday morning to leave, but around 2:00 PM it stopped raining.  We quickly hooked up the trailer, put our dog Sugar Belle in the truck and got underway around 2:20 PM.

The drive down went pretty good, although we did run into some fairly heavy rain a few times.  It was also pretty windy, but the truck and hitch handled the trailer without any problem.  During the last hard rain we ducked into a rest area off I-95 and sat out the worst of the rain.

We arrived at Long Point Campground around 5:00 PM, checked in (it was raining lightly), found our campsite (#75, right on the Indian River), and got to work setting up the trailer (did I mention it was raining lightly?) which we accomplished quickly.  We had read a few reviews about the campground saying the water coming from the faucets had a sulphur smell, so we are just using water from our 43 gallon onboard freshwater tank.  Plus we have bottled drinking water and I brought an extra five gallons of water from home.

It stopped raining just as we got done setting up.  After getting everything squared away and the camp chairs set up we sat down to relax and enjoy a cold beverage.  The temperature was around 75-80 and it was pretty breezy, but then that keeps the bugs away.

We had hot dogs, pork and beans and beets for dinner and watched a little TV before going to bed.

The blue dot is our campsite
Our campsite
Backed right up to within about 6' of the Indian River
The view out our rear window--nice!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017:  Cereal for breakfast this morning and then we took Sugar on a long walk around the campground. She loved the big open area in the middle.  We drove south over the Sebastian Inlet bridge and drove into the Sebastian Inlet State Park to check it out.  We asked the lady ranger if we could just look at the campground without paying to get into the park and she gave us 10 minutes.  It's a very nice campground and campsites 52-56 would be great and sites 5-14 would be okay, per Jeri.

We got gas and drove back to camp to relax, then we drove 10 miles north to the Publix supermarket and Jeri rented a couple of movies from their Red Box.  For dinner we had one of our staple camp dinners; grilled chicken breasts covered with shredded cheese and green sauce, with grilled potatoes and onions (cooked on the grill in foil).  Very tasty!  We went for another walk and since it was still windy, so no campfire, we watched a movie before going to bed.

Thursday, April 6, 2017:  We woke this morning to overcast skies and a quick check of the weather online and on the TV (we had several stations coming in quite well) indicated a very severe thunderstorm was coming in from the west and moving east.  LOTS of lightning with 3,000-4,000 strikes per 10 minutes!  Fortunately, all the worst of it passed just to the south of us and we only got hit with the north edge of it. 

Storm view out our rear window

After the storm passed it cleared up and because a nice day.  We drove south and went to the town of Sebastian and had lunch at Black Fins restaurant, located in Captain Hiram's resort complex.  I had grouper and Jeri had oysters and both were pretty good.  We were stuffed.  After lunch we bought some souvenirs in their gift shop.  I got a nice T-shirt with "Living the Dream" on the back.  LOL

Jeri at Capt. Hiram's Blackfin
Bill dining at Capt. Hiram's Blackfin, right on the water
For dinner we just grilled a couple of cheeseburgers.  It was a nice evening, but still windy.  We saw dolphins every day by our campsite, sometimes they were very close in, too.

Friday, April 7, 2017:  This morning was cool and beautiful and still quite windy.  After a breakfast of eggs and fruit we packed up, dumped the tanks and leaving around 10:45 AM, had an eventful trip back home.

This was a nice trip, in spite of the rain, wind and storm.  The campground is pretty nice.  It stayed peaceful and quiet, in spite of being pretty full.  While almost all the entire island is surrounded by mangroves, almost all the campsites are on the water and the owners have cut out the mangroves at most sites to allow a decent view of the water (see my photos above).  We had electric and water hookups.  We used our onboard freshwater the entire time and I never did smell or taste the supplied water to see if it smelled and/or tasted bad.  I planned to, but forgot.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

2016 Jekyll Island & Outer Banks Exploration

Sep. 8, 2016:  Prepping the trailer today for about a two week trip.  We are leaving tomorrow morning and will spend a couple of nights on Jekyll Island (we hope) and explore it, then head up to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a few days of relaxation and exploration.  After that we may travel north up to the Blue Ridge area and/or go to Vogel State Park up in the mountains of North Georgia.  We camped there many, many years ago when the kids were little in our pop-up camper and spent a few days in a cabin several years ago.  It's a beautiful area and we hope to spend a couple of days or so.  Stayed tuned for further updates while we are on the road, depending on internet access.

Sep. 9, 2016:  We left home this morning at 10:15 AM for the fairly short 110 mile drive up to Jekyll Island. Not long after leaving we stopped at a Flying J just up I-95 a short way to fill up the truck with gas.  There were two huge motorhomes already at the pumps and wouldn't you know that the one I selected to get behind was also dumping his tanks, so we waited a good while for him to finally move on.  We drove up through Jacksonville, taking I-295 around the east side, then getting back on I-95 north.  It wasn't very far to where we turned off onto highway 17 at exit 29 in Georgia to go to Jekyll Island.  We also stopped at the Georgia welcome center and Jeri collected some information on Georgia.  While we were going through JAX she called the Jekyll Island Campground and made reservations for two nights, but there really was no need because there are lots of empty campsites here.  The mosquitoes were/are rather voracious!

After setting up camp (and fighting off the damn mosquitoes) we headed out in the truck and toured the island a bit, stopping at the museum (very interesting), getting the island tram times for tomorrow and went to the turtle rescue facility (also very interesting).

Our Bullet!
Our campsite (E6)
A Loggerhead turtle rehabilitating at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center
They keep the turtles until they are capable of surviving on their own in the sea.  If they can't be rehabilitated I guess they give them a permanent home.  There were over 3,500 turtle nest found and protected this year alone!  Very interesting place!

On the way back to the campsite we stopped at the store for a few things and Jeri fixed us some tasty nachos for dinner.  Yummy!!

Sep. 10, 2016:  Wow!  We really slept in this morning--did not get up until 9:30 AM.  Have I mentioned how sweet our bed is in the trailer?  Plushness!  After some toast and juice we went off to visit the Driftwood Beach and fishing pier.  Lots of folks catching crabs out of the creek, too. 

After Driftwood Beach we drove to the southern end of the island to go to Glory Beach, but it ended up being beside or behind the big soccer complex and it was quite busy, so we went to the Great Dunes Beach area.

Sea Oat close up
Sea Oats on the dunes
After the dunes we drove to the historic section and had lunch at Latitude '31 which is located on the historic wharf where all the rich tycoons of days long gone by moored their huge yachts.  The Morgans, Astors, Goulds, Rockefellers were just a few of the original 53 share owners who had yachts there.  See the history sign below.
Jeri & Bill at lunch at Latitude '31
Bill's Shrimp Poor Boy & a frozen Margarita! Yum!
Sign telling about the yacht owners and their big yachts at the old wharf.
Latitude '31 restaurant out on the old wharf.  Pretty good.
After a very filling lunch we went back to our trailer for a short rest before our scheduled and book tram tour of the old cottages (mansions) of the rich.

The tram tour was 90 minutes and was very interesting, as part of the tour we got to go inside two of the cottages (we were told we could not photograph inside them).  One can only imagine how life must have been at the Jekyll Island Club during the Club's heydays of 1886-1942, but primarily from the 1890's to the late 1930's.  It must have been something during the Winter months of January through March when the rich were there!  If you ever come to Jekyll Island I urge you to take one of these tours.  Only a few of the rich actually built their own cottages--most stayed in the Clubhouse and sadly, some of the cottages have been destroyed by fire and time.  This was definitely a place owned and run by the elite of the elite for the elite.  It was primarily built has a less formal social conclave and a hunting club.  All game taken was collected from the hunters and served in the dining room of the clubhouse where the members were required to eat.  Most of the cottages had no actual kitchen.  The state of Georgia owns all of Jekyll Island and while there are some 1,500 private homes here with people living in them they only own the home, not the land, which is leased longterm.

Here are some pictures.
Jeri ready for the tram tour
On the tram
The Struthers' cottage.  We got to go inside this one.

We also got to go inside this one, but I don't remember who built it.

This was actually the first condo--six different apartments.
The massive Jekyll Island Clubhouse (now a hotel)
Side and pool of the clubhouse (now hotel).  We may come back here and stay in the hotel one of these days, so we can add it to our list of old, classic, famous hotels we've stayed at (the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, CO and the El Tovar Hotel on the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

The Crane "cottage".  When the Club saw the plans for it Mr. Crane was told he had to tone it down because it was too ostentatious and did not fit in with the simpler style of the island, so instead of using imported marble floors he changed to wood floors.
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Crane cottage 

And here is a short video of the campground.

This evening we drove over to St. Simons Island, then on the way back stopped at a grocery store in Brunswick for a few supplies.

The bridge over the Brunswick River
St. Simons Lighthouse
Sep 11, 2016:  We broke camp on Jekyll Island and left at 9:50 AM, heading back to I-95 where we gassed up at a Flying J and north toward North Carolina.  The drive was uneventful and after a couple more Flying J gas/potty stops and lunch at a KFC we stopped for the night at a very famous location on I-95, literally right on the border of SC and NC, but in SC.  Can any of you maybe guess where we stopped for the night?  If you said, "Pedro's famous South of the Border," you would be correct.  We must have seen 100 billboards advertising it along I-95!  I think we were both surprised at the size of the entire complex, with all it's shops, restaurants, viewing tower, carnival rides, motel, campground, etc., etc., etc..  The campground is pretty nice and as I type this at 9:25 PM, it is very quiet.  

We asked one of the people working in a shop about the restaurants and he recommended The Peddler Steakhouse.  It is the only independently run restaurant in the complex.  We checked out reviews of the place on Trip Advisor and virtually all them them gave excellent reviews of the place, so we went there for dinner.  In a word, EXCELLENT!  It's a bit pricey, to be sure, but well worth it and when we are on our RV trips I like to treat Jeri (okay, me, too) to a nice restaurant dinner once in a while.  We both had the prime rib and it was superb.  The service was outstanding, too.  The only negative and it's only because we were in South Carolina, where the Bible Belt still rules on Sunday drinking, they could not serve any alcoholic beverages--but the sweet tea was very good.  LOL  This restaurant and the quality of their food and service seemed somewhat out of place for the touristy stuff at South of the Border.  Anyway, if you pass through here--check out The Peddler Steakhouse-I've already gave it a five star review on Trip Advisor.

Some pictures of the day.
We are the blue dot on the right side
Stopped at KFC for lunch--we eat in the trailer.
Our stop for the night.
We ran across this 27' big boy Great White--supposed to be real--HUGE!

The gorilla was NOT real. LOL
Our campsite last night at South of the Border campground
My prime rib at The Peddler Steakhouse.  Yummy!
Sep. 12, 2016:  We broke camp this morning and got on the road around 10:00 AM.  Part of the drive was kind of windy--not real fun when you are pulling the big 26' sail behind you called a travel trailer, but the truck handled it well and no big deal.  We got off I-95 onto US64 at Rocky Mount, NC and headed mostly east.  we drove over some long bridges that spanned the Alligator River, then the Crotan Sound into Roanoke Island (where the early colonists disappeared several centuries ago, the another bridge over the Roanoke Sound to the actual Outer Banks at Nagshead.  From there we took highway 12 south around 25 miles down to Rodanthe and the KOA Campground.

Here are some pictures.
Our campsite at the KOA is the blue dot.  That's the Atlantic Ocean on the right.
Some videos of our drive out to the Outer Banks (from Jeri)

Our campsite at KOA (#313)
Jeri's sea shell collection after her first walk on the beautiful beach.
Sep. 13, 2016:
Today we did some exploring of the island.  We drove up to the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk. One nice thing is that our Interagency Senior Pass got us in free! This place memorializes the historic first manned airplane flights by Orville and Wilbur Wright and has an excellent museum inside with many pictures and artifacts of their times at Kitty Hawk.  It even has an exact-sized replica of their first flight plane inside, along with portraits of people who committed "firsts" in aviation history around the walls.  Outside they have the flight line intact with large boulders marking where the take offs occurred and the distances of the first four manned flights.  Seemed the brothers alternated who flew the plane each flight.  Very interesting. They picked a lovely spot for their flights.  Some pictures.
The very large memorial on top of the hill.  There were paved trails up to and around the memorial, but we did not make the hike.
The memorial has both brothers' names on it.  In this close up the names can just barely be made out.
Me standing in front of the outdoor sculpture of the plane.  Very interesting.
Life-size replica of the plane inside the museum.
A park ranger was giving a talk to a crowd of tourists about the flights.  They are standing in front of the large boulder commemorating the take off point of the flights.  On the far right you can see a smaller boulder marking the end of the first flight, 120 feet.  On the far left is one of the buildings restored where the brothers built and serviced their planes.
The write boulder just left of center indicates where the fourth and longest flight landed.  800 feet and around one minute.  They flew at something like 30-35 miles per hour.
The two restored buildings.  The one of the left is where the brothers lived and the one on the right was their workshop.  On the right is the crowd in front of the take off boulder and rail.  Honestly, I did not mean to get the young lady on the left into the picture.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it. LOL
Markers for the four flights.  The closest being the 120' shortest and way toward the back is the longest of 800'.  One could only ponder the brothers' thoughts about the magnitude of what they had finally accomplished--manned flight!!  It was awesome just standing there thinking about it.
I was so excited about it I had to shake hands with one of the helpers!
Yea!!!!  They did it!  I got caught up in the their moment of accomplishment and greatness!
If you ever get to the Outer Banks, make sure you go visit this national monument in Kitty Hawk.  Well worth exploring!!

On the way back to Rodanthe and our KOA campground we stopped by the pier in Nagshead for a while to browse around then stopped again further south at the Bodie Island Light Station.
Jeri at the lighthouse.

Lighthouse keeper's living quarters.
Bodie Island lighthouse
After getting back to the KOA campground Jeri decided we should go to the beach for awhile.  It was only a couple of minutes walk from our campsite.
Jeri at the beach.  By the way, the Atlantic Ocean beaches here are very huge and very nice.
I took this selfie just to prove that I was at the beach--note cocktail! LOL
Sep. 14, 2016:  This morning we drove way down south as far as we could go on the island  and that was to the ferry going to Ocracoke Island in Hatteras. We might have taken the ferry over, but there were huge lines of vehicles waiting for the ferry, so we decided not to try it.  We did stop at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  It had a gift shop and was quite crowded with tourists.  I bought a cap.  At most really neat places we go I tend to buy either a cap or a T-shirt.  My favorite cap is the one I got at Devil's Tower in Wyoming and it's beginning to show how much I wear it.  :-)  We stopped at a Food Lion grocery store in Avon, the closest one to the KOA campground (17 miles away) and picked up a few grocery items. 

The Cape Hatteras lighthouse.  The large boulders in the front serve as seats and each one of them has the names of the lighthouse keepers and the years they served here.  This was the most crowded of all the lighthouses we visited.
That evening we drove all the way up north to Duck to go on an adventure tour Jeri had booked us on to find the famous wild horses of the Outer Banks.  It was fun. We rode in the back seat of a Humvee that was all open on the sides and back.

Here we are in the backseat of the Humvee.  These have been specially modified with three sets of seats, each holding four people.  I've ridden in Hummers before out West and it is amazing what these things can do!  They turn on a dime!  I'm not sure but it seemed like the back wheels also assisted in the sharp turns.
Our driver was a young woman named "KC" and she did a great job of driving and explaining about the wild horses.  For example, there are 81 of them and the mares (females) are given birth control so that only a few colts are born each year.  We were stopped on the beach and she was telling all about them, when I looked beyond her and spotted the wild horses coming down from the dunes toward the ocean.  Wow!!

Wow!  There they are!  They were really quite beautiful and healthy looking.
They walked right down the beach, mostly just ignoring all the people. There are regulations that call for people to remain at least 50' from the horses at all times so as not to bother the horses, but a lot of people ignored it.  Our guide did her best to keep us, her charges, in line with the regulation (the guide company can get $500 if any of their tourists get too close).  Jeri got out of the Hummer with her good camera to get better pictures, but I stayed in the vehicle.  (BTW, the lady in the edge of my pictures is not Jeri.)
 We spent quite a bit of time watching them, then KC rounded everyone up and back into the Hummer and we continued on the exploration of this part of the island looking for another family group of horses, although we never found them.  She was slicing and dicing around the bushes and sand as we went over the dunes into the interior of the island.  It is very narrow through here.  We ended up at a lovely high spot overlooking the Sound to the west.  The sun was setting gloriously as we headed back to where we had departed on the tour.

This is Jeri.
I somehow managed to mess up the focus on my iPhone's camera and didn't realize it until later. So this picture is quite blurred, but at least gives an idea of how beautiful the sunset was.  
It was some 40-50 miles back to our campsite and it took around an hour and a half.  We had planned to stop for dinner at this really nice restaurant, but it was getting pretty late, so we didn't stop.  While from Duck down to Nagshead is practically wall to wall commercial stuff, from Nagshead down to our KOA in Rodanthe there is virtually nothing but road and sand and it was pretty neat driving it after dark.  Almost kind of spooky.  Sorry, but we failed to take a picture.

Sep. 15, 2016:  We loaded up and said goodbye to the Outer Banks late this morning and headed west across North Carolina toward Asheville and the North Georgia mountains, hoping to get a campsite this weekend for Vogel State Park in the North GA mountains.  We camped there many years ago when the kids were little in our little Starcraft pop-up trailer and we spend a couple of nights in one of the cabins there several years ago.  I visited it a couple of years ago when up there on a motorcycle trip, but didn't camp there.  It's my favorite state park anywhere.  It sits at the base of Blood Mountain and the Appalachian Trail passes nearby.  Many years ago, I spent a lot of time in the North GA mountains with friends and family and backpacked, over multiple trips much of the AT in Georgia.  It runs from Springer Mountain in north GA all the way up to Mount Katahdin in Maine, over 2,000 miles away.

Stopped for a lunch break at a rest area not too far west of the Outer Banks.
We took mostly non-interstate highways (US64 and US264 west to I-40 west near Raleigh, then I-40 west toward Greensboro, NC. Fairly heavy traffic as we went around Raleigh/Durham, but for the most part a fairly nice drive today.  We stopped for the night at a KOA just east of Greensboro. (If I haven't explained it before, we have a KOA Value Card and get a discount at all KOAs.  Some are really nice and some aren't quite as nice, but on the whole they usually have everything like full hookups, etc..)

The Greensboro KOA
The view out of our back window at the Greensboro KOA
Spaghetti, Italian sausage and a salad for dinner.  Jeri is awesome in the galley!
Interesting fire!  We bought this block of wood at the KOA store.  It had a large hole drilled down from the center vertically, then another coming in from the side.  A piece of fat wood was inside it.  You light the fat wood and stick it in the vertical hole and wah-la, instant fire.  I had my doubts, but it worked great, although not a very pretty fire.  It burned for almost four hours!
Jeri finally getting her groove on with marshmallows. 

We had a peaceful, quiet night here.  This KOA is very close to I-40 though and it's pretty heavily travelled at all times, so we did get some traffic noise all night.  Really didn't hear it much except when the trailer's air conditioner would cycle off.  

Sep. 16, 2016:  We got a fairly early start out this morning, but I checked our propane and found one tank had finally run out and when we stopped at the KOA office to get it filled (they about always fill propane tanks at KOAs) there was a sign on the store saying it would not open until 10:00 AM!!  Not a big deal, since there are lots of places on the road to get propane.  As we were about to leave a KOA worker noticed we were there at the propane tank and came to our rescue and filled our tank.  After putting the tank back on and paying him we got back on I-40 and headed west toward Asheville.

This was a fairly pretty drive today.  We thought about stopping and touring the famous Biltmore estate, but finally decided it would take too long and continued on.  After Winston-Salem I-40 took us more southwest toward Asheville. A few miles west of Asheville we got off I-40 and just before I-40 swung back to the north we got off onto US74 and US23 and headed more southwest down toward Franklin, NC.  We stopped at Waynesville, NC for our only Walmart visit of the trip (a rarity) and Jeri picked up a few things we needed.  Then it was onto US64.  We stopped at an RV park kind of out in the middle of the mountains a few miles north of Franklin, NC called the Great Outdoors RV Resort for the night.  Nice place.  It rained a bit, but we did some laundry and had a quiet night.

We drove over some really steep up and down grades through the mountains today, a couple of times, as this picture shows we were in the clouds and visibility was not very good.  Most of the time on these we would just stay behind a semi and let them lead the way.
The blue dot is our campsite (#38)
View out our rear trailer window.
View out our dining window.  This was actually a pretty place and the staff was very friendly.
One of the reasons we stopped here was because we could not get a campsite at Vogel State Park in Georgia until the next day (Saturday).  We are not very far from Vogel at this point so tomorrow should be a short travel day.

Sep. 17, 2016:  Before breaking camp this morning I used the full hookups at our campsite to dump both our gray and black tanks.  We re-prepped them, then got back on the road, heading south toward Georgia and Vogel State Park.

Some pretty flowers along the highway--we were moving so they're blurred.
More pretty wildflowers along the road.
Pretty drive, but with lots of fairly steep grades up and down.  Our rig handled it all easily.
We pulled into Vogel State Park around 1:00 PM.

Pulling into Vogel.  Nice!