Monday, September 26, 2011

Why Water Conservation is Important...

One of the most exciting parts about setting up camp is pulling out the awning. I don't know why, but it instantly lends a homey touch to the campsite. We do need to invest in some cute lights, though. I was thinking it would be too much trouble to have to string them up and then take them down for every trip, but I think it'll be worth it. Especially if we're staying for a few days somewhere.

All settled in for the night...gotta love our patriotic chairs (so comfy!)
Tybee time!
Going to Tybee Island was one of our first priorities upon arrival. Unfortunately, we couldn't bring Lola, but she had a date with the couch and the AC anyway. Tybee was about 45 minutes away and well worth the trip. For one thing, there are no open-container laws on the beach (or in Savannah either), so you can basically drink alcohol while you're swimming, tanning, playing beach volleyball or whatever you want. We opted to stay sober and alert for the most part but still, it was nice to have that option (considering you can't get away with it in either Jersey or PA!).On the second day we went, we packed our own lunches and refreshments, as we're slowly but surely learning to be frugal.

Long view of the pier in the distance
This bar was a popular spot (apparently not when I took this picture)
There was a lot of seaweed and grass on the beach...guess that beats rocks and broken bottles!
By Friday, we were facing a serious problem with our water tanks. See, at every other campground we either didn't stay long enough to require the dump station facilities or we could unload the sewer pipe right on the site itself. This time we didn't have that luxury, so those tanks filled up FAST. And how did I discover this? Well, I dropped my toothbrush in the bathtub only to have to retrieve it from two feet of water. Lovely! I was seriously afraid this was a major plumbing issue, which meant either Steve was going to have to work some magic or we'd have to call a plumber out (since he didn't bring his tools). Luckily Steve said all we'd have to do was make a visit to the dump station. Good thing it was around the corner and we're getting pretty good at hitching up quickly!

Even the dump station is pretty!
Doncha just love how Steve is dressed for this? This kind of thing really doesn't faze him
Overall, it only set us back about 25 minutes or so, and most of that time was spent putting things away so they wouldn't fall/scatter everywhere during the short ride to the dump station and back. It was annoying, though, because only about a day later, the tanks were full again. Yeesh! I guess I really need to watch my water usage. It's so hard to remember that. I think when you have a motorhome, it must be much easier to dump tanks because you can just get in the front seat and drive. When you have to worry about towing, it becomes more of a pain. Yet another reason we're considering a motorhome next time we upgrade...but that's another story for a different day!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Palm Trees + State Parks = Heaven

A long day of driving makes us slightly nutty, which is why we planned to make a couple of stops along the way. The first was JR's in Selma, NC, a large discount warehouse-style place with pretty much everything you could possibly want, all in a true southern atmosphere.

Outside JR's
Mixed in with all the kitchen supplies, bedding essentials and food items, you've got Nascar souvenirs, hunting and camping gear and an expansive selection of religious literature. Yep, we're in the South now. After getting Lola set up in her crate, we headed in for a very brief shopping spree. I had been hoping for more RV-related appliances, but we did manage to pick up at least one exclusively-RV item, a nice stainless steel pot. I also bought some nice-smelling soaps, which officially makes our trailer bathroom more well-stocked than our home bathroom.

Steve was anxious to get back on the road, so we departed after a quick lunch of soft pretzels. Our next stop was about an hour and a half away, my childhood happy place where my parents were able to get a brief respite from my brother and my constant backseat squabbling. I'm talking, of course, about South of the Border. Times have changed, and even though I know it's not quite as magical as it seemed from my five-year-old perspective, I still love to stop there for nostalgia's (and picture-taking) sake.

By the time we got close enough to start seeing the ubiquitous signs dotting the landscape, Steve's energy reserves were a bit depleted. I decided to be magnanimous and offered to take a pass on SOB this time, since we'd be stopping there on the way home anyway. I'm such a good wife. Well, really I was just worried he would get too tired to drive and I'd be forced to take over. SOB would still be there in a few days in all of its neon-lighted kitschy glory.

Tough life...
Destination Skidaway
Five Red Bulls (Steve) and a nap (me) later, we finally crossed the bridge into Georgia. Since neither of us had ever been to Skidaway, we had no idea what to expect. It was about 25 minutes from downtown Savannah, so we certainly didn't think it was going to be the swampy, palm tree-swathed paradise it turned out to be.

At the camp office, a friendly staffer handed us maps and parking passes and told us we had our pick of the land. In other words, we could choose whichever campsite we wanted. What!! So we drove through all four sections of the campground, taking in the damn near-palatial sites and discussing advantages/disadvantages. The sites closest to the wooded areas looked promising, as heavy greenery separated them from neighboring sites. Even better: we could pull right in and our trailer door would face the woods. Our own private slice of this paradise? Don't mind if I do! It didn't take too long for us to find our perfect match:
Not a soul around to bother us...yay!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Boondock Saints

When we first started looking into visiting Savannah, we thought about what it would cost to drive there versus flying. Of course we wanted to drive, but with gas prices being the jerks they are, you just never know if that’s going to be the most economical choice. When we found out the cheapest flight would be around $600 per person – and that’s not even accounting for accommodations – we knew we were doing the right thing.

However, you’re never going to appreciate the value of a gas-efficient car until you’ve driven an SUV towing a trailer. There’s just no comparison to that, because if we were able to get seven miles to the gallon we were lucky. It seemed like every time we turned around (pretty much every hour and a half or so), we were either filling up or looking for a place to fill up. 

Still, all things considered, it WAS cheaper to drive. It also helped that we found such a reasonably priced state park to stay at. Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll start at the beginning!

Free parking's where it's at

Originally, we planned to leave Tuesday after work, drive a few hours and then spend the night at a Wal-Mart along the way. We were making fairly good time and around 10:30 that night, Steve asked me to start calling Wal-Marts in the Richmond area. Apparently, though, either nobody who works there knows about overnight RV parking or it’s not a question that gets asked often, because I couldn’t get a straight yes-or-no answer from three stores I called. 

I did, however, luck out when I researched online and found out most travel centers have dedicated overnight parking for RVs and trucks. When I called the Flying J in Carmel Church, VA, I was greeted with a warm southern accent saying, “We sure do offer overnight parking.” Which was as good as a reservation as far as we were concerned!
Boondocking in style
I'm a big fan of you Flying J
I was a little worried about sleeping soundly after we pulled up next to a truck that apparently was going to leave its engine running all night. But I managed to convince myself the sound was like a white-noise machine designed to lull me into a deep sleep. Wouldn’t you know it? That mind game worked. And I actually appreciated the hustle and bustle of the travel center. It made me feel safe -- much better than the time we were the lone RVers in an empty Wal-Mart parking lot.

A little close for comfort, but we made it work
The next morning my alarm went off at 6 a.m. and we were out the door about 15 minutes later. There was a long day of driving ahead, but thankfully we were past all the congested metropolitan areas of the East Coast.

'Let's get this show on the road!'

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


We did it! Our first long distance trip is officially in the books. I gotta say, we haven't been doing this for long, but it feels like we're old pros already. Switching lanes on the highway, getting in and out of gas stations, braking, merging and all that fun stuff...most of these things used to at least give me pause, if not completely terrify me. I guess hauling a trailer up and down I-95 for around 26 hours total is kind of like a crash course in everything you'd need to know.

Trip details
Mileage: 1500 total
States: PA, DE, MD, DC, VA, NC, SC, GA
Destination: Skidaway Island State Park
Boondocking spots: Flying J, Carmel Church, VA (on way there) and Pilot Travel Center, Colonial Heights, VA (on way back)
One seriously long trip
There is so much to say, but first I have to thank my hubby, the true MVP of this vacation. From the minute he hitched up last Tuesday evening to the very last reverse into the storage spot, he stayed cool, collected and in control. He expertly maneuvered the car/trailer out of numerous situations that could have easily shaken another driver. During the 1500 miles we were on the road, we faced traffic jams, narrow and under-construction highways, brazen drivers weaving in and out of lanes, confusing signage, iffy bridges, constant gas station searches and that monstrosity known as the Beltway. That last one may be the only spot where I saw his nerves starting to fray. It was by far the most stressful part of the trip. They certainly don't make that area very friendly to trailers of any kind.

My hero!
My job during this whole excursion involved keeping an eye out for low overhead signs, speed limits and gas stations and keeping a constant supply of cash for tolls (still cannot believe just ONE of our tolls was $23). I also tried my best to be non-annoying, awake and on alert for Lola misbehavior in the backseat. But there's still no comparison to what Steve did. Maybe someday soon you'll see me in the driver's seat with a trailer tagging along behind, but it'll probably be in a deserted parking lot and not one of the most well-traveled highways in the U.S. For now, I'm happy with my copilot seat.

Now that it's all said and done, I'm still in awe that we managed to pull this off. It takes a special kind of person to even attempt this drive in a car, let alone with a trailer in tow. About a dozen times we must have said along the way, "I can't believe we can actually bring our home anywhere we go." Just having our trailer along with us makes us feel like we are already at home, even when we're not (kinda stole that from an RV dealership sign en route: 'You're always at home in an RV').

OK, I think I'm done being corny for now. Just wanted Steve to get a turn in the limelight. The trailer may have made this trip possible, but his many talents are the reason we made it out alive.

Joking about the being alive part. Well kinda.

More to come!