Hello, our travels have come to an end in my hometown of San Diego. We just moved into our new home and we are super excited to have our own private bathroom!! You cannot appreciate the convenience, cleanliness, and privacy until you have exclusively used public restrooms for 6 months – seriously! We took our Airstream back to the LA dealer for resale. Yes, it was a bit sad, but Joel and I have no plans to do any camping for quite some time and storage costs are very high. She is better off finding a new home with someone who will enjoy her instead of gathering dust and dings in some backlot storage facility.
With having a home and a garage, Joel and I quickly got back to one of our favorite hobbies, refinishing old furniture. I made quick work of our 4 piece Thomasville dressers and night stands, they are now a beautiful Paris gray. Also, I just finished a buffet (pic above) and I am starting on our breakfast dining room set next. We have been busy these last few weeks going to estate sales, flea markets, etc. I found these great vintage bottle capping tools, they are old iron (??), very heavy and have a great rust patina – I love them ❤️!!
Ok, finished refinishing the dining room set and getting ready to start my new job in two days, so much happening right now — but it’s all good! God bless!!!
We pulled into San Clemente State Park to a stunning sunset and were so excited to be seeing our sons Jeff and Matt again. Matt and his fiancé were the first to come by and we had an early Christmas celebration because they were heading out of town. We later met up with Jeff and Andrea and all had a nice dinner together.
This State Park is a great choice for the beach, but when it comes to amenities, it’s not so great. No wifi, no cable, and the bathrooms are slightly above using the great outdoors because they are very basic, no heat (brrrr, very cold in the winter months) and bring plenty of change for the showers! This is fine for weekend camping, but long term RV living, you really notice the difference between this State Park and private parks. You get a lot more for your money at the private parks in this price range ($65 per night with “holiday” per diem).
Only in Las Vegas will you find a”real” mermaid all dressed up for the holidays hanging out in a giant aquarium! We were looking forward to some warmer weather after being chased from the East coast by freezing winter storms. Not so! Vegas was cold and we found ourselves spending very little time on the strip – or anywhere outside! We stayed at the Oasis RV Resort which is a huge RV park just a few miles from the strip. Even closer was the Silverton Casino which featured a blackjack game that Joel really liked and the aforementioned mermaids. I spent a lot of time in the casino lounge watching the jellyfish in the pic above circling round and round while Joel was playing cards.
Another reason for visiting Vegas are my cousins, Steve and Shannon. Shannon and I are the same age and share many fond childhood memories together. Steve – aka crazy cousin Steve – has a motorcycle shop and spends most of his spare time defying death. In fact, he had yet another close call when a speeding teenager plowed into the side of his large box trailer, barely missing his driver-side door. Luckily, he was okay and for once he was not the person trying to break the sound barrier while driving. We had a great visit with them and our time there just flew by.
Whew — have we been doing a lot of driving! We went from Dallas, TX to Prescott Valley, AZ in the last three days, a total of 1050 miles. The temps have really dropped, and it snowed the day we arrived in Albuquerque. We are hightailing it to the southwest because Joel and I have become thin skinned living in California. While in Prescott Valley, we had a very enjoyable visit with Joel’s mom and grandmother. His mom went all out making us a breakfast and dinner feast, and we had a very lovely day chatting and sharing stories. His grandmother is in her 90s and still so physically and mentally active, she is a true inspiration.
With all the driving we have been doing, the dogs have been real troopers and we have been very fortunate to have safe travels so far, a testament to Joel’s conservative driving.
Out intent in heading to Dallas was to visit the Gas Monkey Garage, the location of one of Joel’s favorite shows. We stayed at a KOA located in Arlington, just outside Dallas. Somehow we got so distracted with all the estate sales in the area (there are TONS of them), that we ended up skipping out on Gas Monkey all together. We did manage to take a drive down to Waco (about an hour South) to visit Chip and Joanna Gaines shop, Magnolia Market. They have the popular show, Fixer Upper, and we love their style. The Market did not disappoint! Super cute decor items, a bakery (cupcakes!), food trucks, a giant play field, and loads of charm. I am really glad we took a break from estate sale shopping to check this place out.
Of note, we are really starting to experience winter weather. Yikes, has it gotten cold! The heater in the Airstream is noisy to keep on all night, so we purchased a nice space heater which seems to do the trick. On our last day in town, we saw the forecast that rain was coming and packed up the night before. Luckily we did, when we woke up the next morning, it was pouring and freezing cold. All we had to do was disconnect our water, electricity, cable, and sewer connections and we were on the road. We’ll be traveling hard core the next two days, Amarillo and Albuquerque (where it snowed this morning) before we reach Joel’s Mom’s house in Prescott Valley, AZ.
Twining! We were parked next to another Airstream at Huck Finn’s Mississippi River Campground in Memphis. However, it was pretty cold and windy (before the big storm) so we really didn’t spend too much time down by the river which seemed to be a constant flurry of activity between the barges and trains. There is a lot of manufacturing in the area, and the smell of a paper mill is not very pleasant 😳.
Yes, we were in Memphis and did not visit Graceland! Is this actually illegal? I don’t know, but the reviews were not all that great and Elvis was more of my Mom’s gereration and even she didn’t give it a good review – so there you go. We did try the famous barbecue and it was good! Oh my gosh the seasoning on the outside of the chicken, sweet potato fries, baked beans, pulled pork – it was all so yummy. Sometimes I think we are just eating our way across America.
These pics were taken by the Mississippi and in the giant Bass Pro Shop in a huge triangle building downtown. The shop incorporates a hotel, restaurant and general store. It has giant ponds with all sorts of fish, ducks and even alligators – we just can’t seem to escape the alligators!
Our last night in town a huge winter storm blew in from the Gulf of Mexico. We got about 3 hours sleep as the wind and rain pummeled the trailer. The dogs refused to stay in their own bed and by 6 am we were packing to leave. Actually leaving was a bit hair raising as well. The rain was coming down so hard and pooling on the freeway, we saw several bad spin-out accidents. Worse yet were the big rig drivers who saw no need to slow down and would barrel past us at 80 miles an hour in zero visibility. On top of it all, tornado warnings. Boy were we glad to get through Tennessee and Arkansas.
Joel was very excited to visit the home of Andrew Jackson while we were visiting Nashville. It was a very interesting day and I really like the following quote that is attributed to him: “I was born for a storm and the calm does not suit me. ” Let’s just say, I can relate!
Andrew Jackson served as President about 30 years prior to the Civil War. Even then, South Carolina was stirring up trouble and there was some talk of succession. President Jackson was determined to hold the Union together and selected a Vice President from South Carolina. However, the tensions were so high that the Vice President resigned within months. Jackson was the only President to pay off the national debt and establish a national banking system. His home is preserved in amazing detail, including original furnishings and decor (the wallpaper is almost 200 years old!!!).
You cannot visit Nashville without making a trip to the Grand Ole Opry and I was super excited to see the musical How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The performance was great, the actors were spot on and I loved the costumes and set design. The Grand Ole Opry complex is enormous, encompassing a huge hotel, multiple stages, gardens and even stables for the horse drawn carriages. They put up a ton of lights, a large nativity scene, ice sculpture and sledding, bonfires for s’mores – it’s a very festive and happening holiday scene.
Nashville is also home to a lot of shopping! We had fun visiting Antique Archeology, the vintage store owned by Mike and Frank of American Pickers., one of Joel’s favorite shows. They had great stuff, but way out of our price range. No worries though because we found lots of great Christmas decor at other shops and the Airstream is beginning to look 👀 a lot like Christmas 🎄.
We visited the 18th century Moravian village of old Salem, one of the most authentic colonial sites in the US. The Moravians are a group of Eastern European Protestants who first arrived in 1753 and relocated to this area they later named Salem, which means “peace.” These early settlers were skilled cabinet makers, tinsmiths, gunsmiths, gardeners and cooks. A large portion of the town has been preserved, including the original late 17th and early 18th century architecture. There are also costumed interpreters, horse drawn carriage rides, shops with handcrafted items, restaurants, a tea shop and bakery. The late fall colors were in full bloom and the town was so picturesque, that I spent most of my time enjoying it rather than actually taking pictures!
We are staying nearby in High Point, NC at Oak Hollow Campground, a stunningly beautiful lake front location. In fact, we were lucky to get a prime spot with our own private dock. The sunsets have been gorgeous and we are really enjoying the wildlife. Please check out my “Campground Reviews” page for a full review.
We LOVE Charleston!!! The stunning double expansion bridge pictured above is the longest of its kind in the US. We crossed just as the sun was setting and were surprised to find it’s free! After so many toll roads in Florida, this now seems like an anomaly 😕. The bridge crosses Charleston bay right by downtown where we spent the day exploring the stunning architecture (I believe I heard they have over 500 churches), food, shopping (don’t miss the outdoor market), and horse drawn carriage rides. Also, amazing vintage and antique shopping abounds and somehow we are going to have to find more space because we couldn’t resist picking up a few treasures.
There is so much Revolutionary War (our emancipation from the British) and Civil War history here. I swear I am not a history buff, but when you are here you cannot help but be absorbed into the stories of the early years of our nation. I find this to be especially true now that the election is over and there seems to be so much political unrest. South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union. We took a ferry to visit Fort Sumpter, strategically located at the mouth of Charleston bay, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. The weather has cooled down a bit, so be sure to bundle up for the boat ride.
Above are pics of the first submarine created and used in warfare during the Civil War. It was used by the South to sink a Union battleship. The South was desperate to get supply ships through the Union blockade of Charleston harbor and were actually able to sink a warship by jamming a torpedo into the side of the ship using this submarine. Keep in mind the technology was so basic that they had no air supply without surfacing every 2 hours and the whole thing was powered by men turning a large crank that would spin the outside propellor. The sub was mysteriously lost after it successfully targeted a Union ship and was not found again for almost 130 years. There are a lot of fascinating stories about how the Hunley was developed, tested, lost, and finally found at www.hunley.org.
Okay, now for he food – OMG – they seriously know how to cook in the South!!! I am not a fan of the southern classics such as grits, fried okra, collard greens, etc., but they got me to try and like – no love – whatever it is they did to a brussel sprout that made it this charred wonderful decadent treat!! Also, the best friggen’ fried chicken I have ever eaten in my life! Fresh biscuits with local honey, jams, and benigets that are better than Cafe du Monde. I am going into a food coma now – catch up with you later…
One of my favorite books, Savannah Blues, takes place in the historic district of Savannah and Tybee Island, so these two spots were on the top of my list when we arrived in Georgia. For our visit to Tybee Island, our timing was not the best. Hurricane Matthew passed through only a few weeks earlier and they were still in recovery mode. It was also very windy that day, but we persevered and visited the historic lighthouse, the beach, and had lunch at a local seafood joint. None of it was terribly memorable, so we’ll move on quickly.
On our way back we stopped to visit Old Fort Jackson, which was built at the direction of Thomas Jefferson in 1812. The Fort is built of brick, has a moat with a bridge and is really old with a musty smell to it. It has several ancient cannons which Joel seemed to get into, especially since they fire them off daily -boys and big guns – oh brother!
The historic district of Savannah is beautiful and very interesting. We did a trolley tour, I know – super touristy and kind of nerdy – but a lot of fun! We had Arthur as our tour guide and he was very funny, personable and knowledge about the local history. I will not go into a recitation here, but trust me – take the tour! Also, Old Savannah Trolley Tours allows dogs on their tours, which we knew in advance so we brought Belle and Lulu along for the ride. We stopped at Daily Bread for lunch and their sandwiches on freshly baked bread were divine! I seriously fell in love with the historic mansions with their live oak tree shaded cobblestone streets and am planning our move – once I win the lottery 🤑 (pesky little detail).
p.s. We had swans at our KOA campground!