On the Tuesday we left Milton Heights Campground after visiting friends in Oakville over the weekend. I also purchased an inventer for the car so we could run the laptop while we were driving. We have a CD program for cities and routes etc. that Val has gotten quite used to.
We arrived in Lambeth, just west of London around lunchtime and setup the Airstream in our usual parking spot on the front court of the Can Am dealership. The next morning, Wednesday, they took the trailer and had it fixed with a brand new Wineguard antenna. They also checked and serviced the left rear wheel, which had been locking up. By this time, it was raining so we decided to stay over in the dealership one more night.
On the Thursday, the 1st, we headed down the 401 for Fort Erie. We decided to take highway 3 just south of Tillsonburg rather than going via the 401, 403 and then the QEW. Highway 3 was a very pleasant drive and we arrived in the Fort Erie campground around 2 or 3 PM. The campground is located right on the Niagara River and we were the only tenants! He wasn't actually open but because of the mild weather, he let us stay for the night at $24.00.
The next morning, Friday, November 2nd, we arrived at the border crossing at the Peace Bridge. There were two cars in front of us. We it was our turn, they asked for id and we provided our passports. They had a quick look in the Airstream and we were on our way. Ten minutes at the most.
We took highway 400 south to pick up the Alternate 20 (20A). This road was a bit further south than the regular 20 and I thought it would be a little faster. Well, it was a nice road going through winding HILLY countryside. I never realized that there were any hills of significance in western New York State. Boy. Was I wrong. When we were down east, we never ran across a hill that was more than 8%. That's while towing the Airstream, as we ran across one hill on the Cabot Trail that must have been at least 14%!! As we drove along the 20A going towards the I-560, we came across several hills that were anywhere from 10% to 14%. The last one was 14%!! If I ever had any doubts about the Windstars capabilities for getting up steep hills, they totally vanished that day. On the 14%, I had to go from 2nd into 1st, but the Windstar just kept pulling up the hill with power to spare. I am "now" most impressed because the only thing that kept nagging in the back of my mind was the hill that I can't get up. That's history.
We picked up the I-560 and drove over to the I-80 and headed south. I had considered taking the 15 south, but decided that I had had enough of winding roads with hills. The I-80 was an easy ride and we stopped just north of Scranton for the night in a Passport America (PA) campground. I had joined PA just before I left Ottawa for the east, but I hadn't received the info from them. But I had picked that info up from my son on our return trip to Ottawa. PA allows you to camp for 50% off the normal campground rate. So the first night just north of Scranton, we paid $10.00 US. The regular rate being $20 US.
On Saturday, November 3rd, we headed down the I-80 to go to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We picked up the I-83 towards York at Harrisburg then cut off from there on another road we put us onto the US-15. This took us to Gettysburg and another PA campground.
The next day, Sunday, November 4th, we went into Gettysburg and hired a personal guide for a two-hour tour of the battlefield. It was actually cheaper than paying for two people on the regular tour bus. The guide we had was an 83-year-old veteran who grew up in Gettysburg and had been in the American Tank Corps during W.W.II before he switched over to the Signal Corp. Of course, after I told him I had been in the Canadian Signals, we discussed different cryptographic equipment. He was amazed that we were still using the same stuff until the 80's! But he certainly knew his stuff about he battle of Gettysburg. It took place over a three-day period from July 1 to the 3rd in 1863. And he guided us over the battlefield the way the battle progressed. It was well worth the money. And if any of you are Civil War buffs like I am and visit Gettysburg, the guide is the way to go.
Well, the weather was nice and sunny whilst we were in Gettysburg, but the nights were getting quite cool. Down to 1 or 2. We were going to stop in Virginia around Appomattox to see where Lee surrendered to Grant, but we decided to get south and pick up some warmer weather!!! So we left Gettysburg on Tuesday, November 6th. On the way out of our campsite, there was a large depression on the other side of the road, so I had to take a tighter turn to avoid dropping my right front tire into it. Well, by doing that, I scraped the whole left side of the Airstream against a tree. We didn't notice the scratches until later. It didn't look good. I thought it might need a complete re-finishing. Anyway, onwards and upwards. We took highway 15 down to the 70 then 270 towards Washington, DC. I figured we would get to DC around noontime when the traffic would be easier. So that's what we did and picked up the 495 Beltway over to the I-95 at Springfield. The traffic was light by DC standards even though we were held up for about 15 minutes with road construction just before the turn-off for the I-95. But once on the I-95 we sailed south at a nice and even 95 KPH. I know that's not fast, but when you're pulling a 34 foot Airstream, I wanted to get some decent gas mileage as going 100 won't get me there that much more faster.
We had decided to head for Charleston, South Carolina (SC) as we figured that it had to be warmer down there. We knew we wouldn't make it in one day so we decided, for the first time, to try overnighting in a truck stop. We got to around 40 miles from the SC border when we found a truck stop at Exit 106 in North Carolina (NC). I gassed up for .99 cents a gallon and parked the Airstream in the parking lot of the shared Wendy's and Truckers restaurant. By the way, the gas prices have been pretty good. I paid $1.15 in up state NY, .99 cents at a Flying J in Pennsylvania.
The next morning, Wednesday, November 7th, we went into the restaurant and had breakfast. After breakfast we headed south into SC. We split off the I-95 and took the I-26 to Charleston, then the I-526, and then the US-17 west until we arrived at the Lake Aire RV Park and Campground. It was warm, around 70 F and I changed into my shorts for the first time since around September. We have arrived!!!
On Thursday, November 8th, it was a day of rest. We just hung around the campground and did nothing! On Friday, we went into Charleston. What a nice city. Very small, only about 80,000 people but when the surrounding areas are taken into consideration, there are about 550,000 people. At the visitor's center, we took a Grey Line tour of the City. Very interesting with some beautiful old houses dating back to the 1700's. After the tour we went to have lunch at Stickey Fingers. I had ribs and they weren't as good as the ribs at Swiss Chalet. But in their defense, they use back ribs down here and Swiss Chalet uses side ribs. But the beer was very good. See the pics on the email to follow this.
On Saturday, November 10th, we went to Boone Hall Plantation, which is just east of Charleston. There just happened to be a Civil War re-enactment of the battle of Sessionville taking place at the same time. For you movie buffs, Boone Hall was that huge plantation house with the beautiful avenue of oak trees in the movie Gone With The Wind. Apparently some of the movie was actually shot there as well. Pictures do not really do it justice and on this particular day, all the Civil War re-enactors were on the Avenue of Oaks selling their wares from military type tents. But I guess in some ways it gave some authenticity to the scene. Problem is, you had 1860's types of dress mixed in with the visitors 2001 type of dress. But use your imagination when you view the pics later on.
The battle itself was ok, but was probably not the best one to see as the Federalists were attacking a fort which was defended by the Confederates. So they were behind the walls and we didn't have the rank against rank facing each other, which dominated the American Civil War. But still, it was fun. And these re-enactors don't take any short cuts. Their uniforms were made of real wool. I was talking to one "Confederate" and mentioned that at the Battle of Gettysburg, the temperature was 87% F. He had been to Gettysburg as most of these re-enactors had been. They do this all spring, summer and into the fall. Expensive hobby as the muskets cost well over $1000 U.S., and that doesn't include the rest of their equipment, leather belts, uniform, bayonet, mess kits, water bottle, shoes etc.
On Sunday, November 11th, we watched some of the ceremony in Ottawa on our satellite then in the afternoon went to the local shopping center. We didn't buy anything. On Monday, November 12th, we went into Charleston to the Market area to have a look around. Again, we didn't buy anything. I also decided to have a go at getting those scratches off the left side. I washed the area, then used a green non-abrasive Scotch Brite pad to try and get the scratches off. It seemed to get most of them off. With an Airstream, the unit has to be waxed twice a year to protect its clear coat finish. I had picked up a bottle with the idea of doing this "later on." So I used this stuff and, wonder of wonders, it came out really well with all the scratches gone and nice and shiny. Now I have to do the rest of the Airstream at some later date. On one of our future rest days.
To give you an example of the exchange rate we're getting here. I withdrew $200 U.S. from an ATM. When we checked our bank statement, that $300 U.S. actually cost us $484.65 Cdn!! $220 U.S. cost us $327.64!! Now I am not the greatest mathematician, but I figure that $200 at a rate of .3625 cents per one U.S. dollar. If I'm wrong, could someone get back to me and enlighten me! When I crossed the border into New York, I paid $1.15 a gallon (all prices in U.S. dollars), at a Flying J in Virginia, I paid .99 and I've been paying .99 since then. The prices here vary from $1.07, just outside my campground, to .99 about 2 miles down the road. Competition folks!! I hope it gets cheaper as I get further south. I'll keep you posted.
On Tuesday, November 13th, we went to another shopping center and also stopped in at Home Depot to buy a short step ladder so I can get higher up the Airstream to wash and wax it. $32 here and the same price in Canada in Cdn dollars!! I know. I should have bought one up there!
Tomorrow we head for Savannah, Georgia (GA). After that we THINK we will go down to St Augustin, Florida (FL), Panama City, FL, New Orleans, Louisiana (LA), Dallas, Texas (TX) to do the Kennedy assassination route (I still don't think Oswald did it), San Antonio, then down to near the Rio Grande where we will stop and catch our breath for about a month. I'm giving you this itinerary to see how closely we follow it! Because the wonderful thing about this lifestyle that we are finding out about, is that you can change your mind and go wherever, whenever you want to go. Nothing is laid down in concrete.
On Wednesday, the 14th, we left the campground and headed west on the US 17 and then picked up the I-95. Once over the border into Georgia, we stopped at the Welcome Center to pick up maps and brochures.
A quick aside here. We have two Rand McNally map books for North America. Why two? We bought the first one in Canada. It shows all the Wal Mart locations in Canada. Nice to know if you're on the road and just want to overnight somewhere quickly. But it doesn't show the Wal Marts in the U.S. So we bought the second book at the Wal Mart in Gettysburg. There were four RVs setting up for the night in the parking lot when we were there! This book gives you all the addresses for every Wal Mart in the States. Not as good as the Cdn one, which actually has a marker on the map, which shows you where they are. But at least we know which towns they are in. But I digress. We have been making a habit of stopping as we cross each states border so we can pick up a map of the state. The state maps are usually better because they are larger and the whole state is on one map; whereas the Rand McNally maps are smaller and for the larger states, go onto two pages. California is a good example. It's split into north and south. We also pick up two state maps. One for the car and one for the RV.
Ok. Back on track. We went to a campground just north of Savannah, Georgia called the Whispering Pines Campground. It's off the I-95 and a few miles down a couple of highways. But we found it with no trouble. Nice campground with a cement patio slab. And it was quite full. The campground would only let us stay for four nights on our PA. The next day we went into Savannah and took a city trolley tour from the visitors centre. Nice city with many beautiful squares. If anyone has seen the movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," then that gives you somewhat of an idea of what Savannah is like. We passed the little restaurant where a couple of the characters had breakfast and we also went past the house where the murder actually took place since the movie was based on a true to life story. We stopped for lunch at a brew pub and we tried some of their locally brewed beer. It's much like the beer that's brewed in some of the brew pubs in Ottawa. They do a nice Weiss beer that Val had and, I tried a beer made out of sweet pototo. It was really good.
We also took a trip back into South Carolina to a town called Beaufort. It was only an hours drive away and some brochures we had described this as a small historic southern town. It was also the place where a home was built on the tv program "Dream House." So we also saw the finished house and the town itself has a nice historical district with some beautiful homes and of course, some fabulous oak trees with the Spanish Moss hanging down.
On Sunday, the 18th, we left Savannah and the Whispering Pines campground and continued on I-95 south. We got off at exit 109 where the Mcintosh Campground is located just down from the exit. Using our PA card, we paid $5.00 a night and decided to stay for two nights. During this period, I finished waxing the Airstream. It looks great. All the scratches are gone. I was also introduced to the "no-seeums" bug. They are so small you can hardly see them. Which is why...... And they bite!!! I was on the ladder doing the waxing and almost fell off a couple of times when these little buggers started on me. Needless to say, the waxing continued at full speed!! We also went down to the next exit on the I-95, which was only 8 miles away, to check out an outlet mall. We bought some Xmas stuff to send to our kids in Ottawa and I picked up a couple of 100% cotton long sleeve shirts. I find the cotton products down here really nice. I find a lot of shirts in Canada are a bit thick. Probably due to our winters!
On Tuesday, November 20th, we left the campground and headed for Florida on the I-95. I must say one thing about the Americans. They are constantly upgrading their roads. We've hit construction all the way down the I-95! It's the same as the I-81 when I was in Washington, D.C. There was always construction somewhere on the way up or on the way down. We again stopped at the Welcome Center across the state line in Florida. Picked up some maps and a lot of brochures and had a free cup of orange juice. After that we carried on down through Jacksonville and just past St Augustin, we had to get off at a Flying J because Blossom, my toy poodle, was giving us funny looks from the back seat!! We know what that means! When we got to the Flying J, I gassed up at $1.07 and picked up a couple of burritos. They were great. I could spend a couple of hours at these Flying J's. They have everything. Jeans at $9.00 a pair, cb radios, weather radios to food and hot showers etc. Blossom did her ablutions and everyone was happy. Back on the I-95 where we got off and headed to the A1A south and finally arrived at our campground at Flagler Beach.
I heard that Florida was expensive, but we decided that we had to spend a few days by the beach. I used my PA once again at $15 a night. We are staying until Sunday, November 25th when we move on to another campground between Titusville and Orlando. But the campground would only give us two of the five nights at the PA rate. I had to pay full rate for the other three nights!! The five days came to $124.00 U.S.!!!!!! That's due to Thanksgiving. The most we've paid on this trip so far. So those two $5 nights came in handy as it evened things out a little. The next campground is $77 for a week! And we're already booked in.
Once we had booked in and set up the Airstream, we went for a walk along the beach as this campground is right on the beach. So it has its advantages. Later in the evening, I found I had 20 or 30 bites on my legs. It turns out that they are from red ants. They are small, but they bite!! As I found out!! The no-seeums in Georgia and now these red ants! What a guy has to do to enjoy retirement!!
I'll leave this report here. As usual, there will be separate emails for the pics. If anyone wants to comment on these reports, feel free. But use my Pocketmail account because I check that twice daily. The address is: email@example.com.
Oh yes. The temp here yesterday, the 20th, was 76F and today it's going to 80F.
Val and Barrie on the roam
Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this document are those of the AFFSC webmaster and members alone. If you use any of the information in this document, it is at your own risk, we will not accept any responsibility for any damage or loss.