We left Ortona and skirted around the north shore of Lake Okeechobee. This part of central Florida is mostly orange groves with few towns or crossroads. The fragrance was intoxicating and it was a pretty day for a longish drive (our tolerance for putting pedal to the metal has diminished steadily). We spent a night at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral. It was good and hot by then and spring break activity had expanded audibly. We headed north: Daytona, Ormond, Flagler. So many beaches. Some day we'll try them all.
For three days we enjoyed being back in St. Augustine. We stayed at an RV across the highway, but spent our days for $5 right on the beach. We ate out a couple of nights, chased down our mail, scanned the beach for shells and the airwaves for ham contacts.
One night at Hanna Park in Jacksonville and most of the next beautiful day on the beach. Our system was to find a good public parking area near a walkway over the dunes. Stan set up the satellite dish and the ham antenna, Liz kicked off shoes and attacked the beach.
Up the coast and over the beautiful bridge into Brunswick, GA. We had forgotten about the perfume of the paper mill. Our RV had a nice new pool that wasn't open.
Hollywood, SC. This RV had a pool that was open but not very nice (way too cold). Recent flooding was evident. We watched incoming neighbors get deeply mired in the mud.
A week at Myrtle Beach SP was just what we'd hoped for. Stan had a haircut. Liz swept the beach daily for the elusive sharks teeth. Even over the Easter weekend the park never got very crowded. On the day we left, we stopped in Cherry Grove (North Myrtle Beach) to say happy vacation to our friends Joan and David.
We spent one night with Anne Jackson/Gunn and Joel Hafer in Florence. They'd gotten married since we last saw them, and are now a family with four teenagers. We enjoyed a meal and lots of good conversation.
We planned our final night in SC to be near the BMW factory tour and a tour scheduled for the 24th. Drove up to Asheville, NC, too late in the day to take on the Biltmore Estate. Later we discovered that Cal and Connie were there as we drove by! In retrospect we are glad we didn't try to rush in and see it, as Cal and Connie report that it was a good long day's worth of exploration.
However, we drove a scenic loop that took us by Chimney Rock. This part of the state is hilly and green with views to the far blue mountains. It's probably well worth trying to come this way in the fall if it hasn't gotten too cold yet.
The BMW tour was interesting. Two cars are made there exclusively: X5 SUV and Z4 roadster.
Another Corps of Engineers park in Wilkesboro on a dam/reservoir was sparsely populated. The big excitement in town was "MerleFest" in honor of Merle Watson. If we'd known we might have tried to stay on! On our way to Durham we managed stops at a furnituremuseum in Winston-Salem and the huge (>225,000 square feet of storage space) Replacements, Inc., in Greensboro.
Things were quite different from our last visit to Rick in Durham. He'd moved to the downstairs of the house he'd been living upstairs in for years. We ate Mexican food at the restaurant with the gigantic portions. Three days later Liz was still getting meals out of the leftovers.
Coincidentally Rick knows Liz's cousin Marion's brother-in-law Chad, who was hosting a pig roast north of Durham in beautiful countryside. We couldn't resist checking this out and were curious to compare it to the cajun-style one we attended in Louisiana in the winter. The day was threatening but didn't let loose on us until after the main course had been served. The food was delicious, and there was lots of it. In the Carolinas, barbecue means PORK, and only pork. The home and gardens where this affair was held were quite charming.
First Landing SP in Virginia Beach is on the Chesapeake side. We could hear the Atlantic crashing around one corner and look at the mighty bridge-tunnel-bridge-tunnel-bridge around the other. Again, a drenched park more than half closed off. The next morning Liz had a brief encounter with a car she liked a lot.
We didn't really get back to THE BEACH until we arrived at Assateague Island National Seashore. We dry camped for the $10 geezer rate just below the dunes in a nearly empty campground loop. Miles of sparkling clean beach beckoned. Horseshoe crabs. A few fishermen. Pelicans, the last of them for our trip this year. All kinds of large and small peeps, hard to identify. We even saw a few of the fabled horses and some fawns.
The beach towns this far north were barely waking up and little was open. With persistence approaching panic, we spied an open restaurant that served Liz some crabcakes. Ahhhhhh! Then we continued up the coast to spec out the Delaware Seashore SP. Turns out to be shockingly expensive ($34/night) and nothing more than a big ugly parking lot on the wrong side of the highway, so we scratched that plan.
Found a fine Passport park in Rehoboth Beach, DE. There are outlet stores here, and we investigated. Since neither of us has much love for shopping, nothing caught our attention except for a toy store with some goodies for two little boys we knew we'd be seeing soon.
After the bracing ferry ride from Lewes, DE, to Cape May, NJ, it was a short hop to Ocean City and the charming and colorful home of Tom and Lilli Van Vleck. Since our last visit the house had been expanded vertically (raised for fear of high water). A large new dog replaced the two we remembered; this one's a mix of Great Dane and St. Bernard. Did we say LARGE?
Our visit was not long enough. Lilli and Liz swapped sand dollars and sharks teeth. After some snacks and margaritas we set out in the dark for New Gretna, on the fringes of the NJ Pine Barrens.
Southern New Jersey was a sheer joy to drive through with pink dogwoods, magnolias, lilacs; we managed to hit the perfect part of spring. Sadly, it seems the area is quite overrun with deer. We lost count of the dead on the roadsides. In Mt. Holly we joined Maria and Don, ate supper at a Mexican place and got home in time to watch "Survivor" together.
Spent some hours at Wheaton Village in Millville. The place is mostly a tourist trap with cutesy little shops selling things no one really needs at all. However, we went for the glass-blowing demonstrations and got to see two pieces being made by resident artists, and also visited the glass museum.
In Camden Stan enjoyed a somewhat truncated tour of the Battleship New Jersey. while Liz took a break and relaxed with some good music to listen to and the pretty downtown Philly skyline to admire.
After a last walk around Maria's neighborhood we loaded up and relocated about another hour north, at the beautiful home of our friends Jim and Rebecca in Somerset. They had wonderful pictures from their latest birding adventure in the Dry Tortugas, and Becca surprised Liz with some Dylan CDs!
Cinco de Mayo! We gritted our teeth and got through the less scenic part of NJ to the Palisades. Crossed the Tappan Zee and put it on automatic. We were in Wilmot Flat, NH, almost before we knew it, where we were greeted by Liz's son-in-law Biscuit. Charles got up from his nap and we went down the road to pick up Henry from a friend's house. When Edith got home from work we all dined in New London. The boys liked their new toys and we enjoyed seeing the new house and acreage.
With rain threatening and the day promising to be chilly, we headed up the interstate to Etna and Hanover, where we're now both dealing with the joys and problems of re-entry.
Stayed in 18 states, drove through more than that. Out for 179 days (25 weeks and 4 days). Total mileage >17,000. Lost one hubcap in southern Arizona.
It's been another wonderful journey