Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hanging out in Charleston

Site #5

We arrived in Charleston (actually, Goose Creek, at the Navy Base) last Friday and got settled into our site.  Nicolas got us checked in with the host, and we visited for a bit before we took him out for pizza for dinner. 

He had his “comp” (think Final Exam) for ‘A’ school on Monday, so he was spending most of his time on the weekend studying, but he did come over each day for dinner, and a little bit of relaxation in the evenings.

We had beautiful weather here – finally escaped the heat & humidity of Florida –












and we got a few things taken care of while he was studying. 

One was getting a new phone and internet service.  We’ve been with Straight Talk for phone, and Millenicom for internet since we started fulltiming in September 2012, and when Millenicom was bought by Verizon last fall we held off on switching over because we had good internet at the campground we stay at in Michigan, and we knew we were going to have cable internet through the winter in Florida.

Since we left Ft. Myers, we’ve been on campground wifi – which can be hit or miss, as most people know, and my “smart” phone was beginning to lose its mind.  We decided it was time to look again at the major carriers.  While we were still in Ft. Myers, we visited both Verizon and AT&T to compare costs and plans, and ultimately decided we should probably just go with Verizon for my phone + internet, and leave Bryce’s iphone on straight talk for now (it uses AT&T), since he just bought it in the fall.

Then I realized that I had just paid for April with straight talk . . . so we waited a little longer.  One we got here, we were within a couple days of my service end date, so me made the switch.

I got a cool new Samsung S5 with a 10GB data plan (with my Ford discount, the 6GB plan would have been $56, and the 10GB plan was $60 – no brainer to go to the higher plan!).  We could have just reactivated our millenicom 3G aircard for $20/month without a contract, but we could also go to a 4G aircard, for the same money (Free device with a 2-year contract), so that is what we did.  We can still suspend service on the aircard and save the $20/month when we’re in Florida for the winter.

So, that was our big purchase for the weekend – and we were even able to get $30 bill credit for trading in our 2 junky old straight talk phones, and the $100 bill credit for transferring my phone number.  Not a bad deal!

Other than that, I was busy making home-cooked meals for the Sailor, and trying to plan our route for after the RV-Dreams Reunion Rally.  We may have a hitch in our summer plans, though . . . Tom found a motorhome online that appears to be a very good deal, and may end up drastically altering our summer plans . . . we’ll see . . . lots of logistics to research and work out!

On Monday, Nicolas successfully passed his comp . . . Smile


and the preparations began for graduation on Friday! 



They had to shred all their notes (top secret stuff!), and clean their classroom . . . and get new patches on their uniforms to reflect their new rank --






MM3, Machinist Mate, Petty Officer, Third Class


We’re so proud of him!  He worked really hard to get to this point, and he’s got even more hard work ahead of him!  We’re confident that he’s up to the challenge . . . after a little rest!!


His next school doesn’t start until sometime in July, so he’ll have a chance to let his brain recover, and he has 10 days of leave to travel with us and have some fun family time!  We’re looking forward to it!

We got our invitations for graduation,


and we’re looking forward to seeing this group of new Petty Officers graduate on Friday!


(Nicolas is in the back row, 3rd from the right)

One more day of having him drive off in the evening,


and then he gets to stay with us for a little bit!  Smile

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jekyll Island, Georgia


When we were first making our plans to come to coastal Georgia, we thought we would stay in the campground on Jekyll Island.  With lots of bike paths, the beach, and the sea turtle center, it looked like there would be a lot to keep us busy for a few days.

When we called, though, none of their “big rig” sites were available.  So, we ended up at Blythe Island . . . and it was a good thing!

We still wanted to visit Jekyll Island, so on Wednesday we loaded up the truck with our bikes and a picnic lunch, and headed over the causeway.


We had been told that there was a good place to park at the fishing pier across from the campground.  We wanted to check out the campground anyway, so we drove that way.  Good thing we weren’t pulling the RV, because we ended up getting all turned around in the historic village before we finally found our way to the campground!  We would have been in big trouble if we had the RV!

A quick drive through the campground was all we needed to know that we were much better off at Blythe Island!  They may have had a few big rig sites here on Jekyll Island, but getting to them would have been a real challenge – narrow roads and LOTS of trees – and hardly any definition to the sites!

After the campground, we drove into the park where the fishing pier is,

Live Oak Canopy

and took a look around.

Fishing Pier

There was plenty of parking available, but we decided that it we’d rather park at the more centrally-located beach parking lots that we had seen when we first arrived on the island.

Nice picnic shelter

Walkway to the beach


The Great Dunes Park has lots of parking, a nice covered picnic pavilion overlooking the beach, and a restroom with changing rooms.  It’s also right in the center of the island, right on the bike path.


We ate our lunch, and then got the bikes out of the truck.


It was a beautiful, sunny day in the mid-70s – perfect weather for a bike tour around the island!     Ready for a bike ride

We filled our water bottles and were ready for our ride.






There’s a lot of variety in the bike path – we rode on open paths along the beach,     Nice bike path









tree-lined shaded paths,

Shaded bike path



 historic, cobblestone roads,

Riding in the Historic District

 and wooded dirt paths.

Watch for snakes!

Around the island, criss-crossing through the center several times, and getting lost in the woods once, too . . . we figure we rode about 15 miles!

We rode past village shops that have been displaced to temporary trailers until the new downtown construction is complete,

Grocery Store in a trailer










marina and boats,

Restaurant at the Jekyll Island Hotel











and plenty of nametag-wearing, tour bus patrons!

Stopping to let the tour tram pass

Helicopter tours must also be a popular option, as we constantly heard them buzzing overhead.     Helicopter








Our last stop was the historic district where there are numerous old “cottages”,     Victorian Cottage










duBignon Cottage










a chapel, and a shopping district.          Chapel

We stopped for ice cream cones at the Sweet Shoppe.

Sweet Shop

In the center of the historic district is the Jekyll Island Hotel,

Jekyll Island Hotel

an old, upscale hotel that looks just like it did at the turn of the century . . . complete with croquet players on the front lawn!

Croquet Players on the lawn

I wonder if it’s a rule that they have to wear white??!!

Jekyll Island is a great place for exploring on bikes, and we all had a great time . . . even Bryce!


Always a daredevil












Back at Dunes Park, we changed into bathing suits and headed down to the beach.     Going to the beach!









It was late afternoon by then, and approaching low tide, and the beach was not too crowded.

Almost deserted at low tide

Soaking up some rays










Tom found his chairbrella


It was a beautiful day, and we relaxed in the sun for an hour or so before we packed everything up and headed back over the causeway.









We decided to stop and get some dinner on the way home, and we found a nice little bar and grill just over the giant bridge that goes into Brunswick.

That was definitely a trip to drive over!!

That is one TALL bridge!

Nice view from up there, though!


After two busy days of exploring, we spent our last day just chilling around the campsite, and got all packed up and ready to move on to Charleston. 

We’re really excited to spend the next three weeks with our very special sailor!          nicolas

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Blythe Island Regional Park and a visit to another fort


Blythe Island Regional Park is a cute little county park on the South Brunswick River.  It’s a bit rustic for Tom (dirt roads and sites, lots of trees), but the outer row of sites where we are are very spacious, fairly level, and they come with water, 30/50 AMP electric, sewer and cable TV.  We heard that the wifi was “spotty”, but it’s been just fine at our site.


The park is situated between the river, where there is a boat launch

Boat Launch

with a really cool gantry crane that can lift boats right off their trailers and set them right down into the water.

It’s quite the gathering place for fishermen and seagulls,

Sunset_April 23rd

and a pretty good spot for catching the sunset in the evening.

Fishermen at Sunset

Sunset over the South Brunswick River


We’ve had some really beautiful sunsets in the days we’ve been here!

Ducks at sunset

We also have a good view of cargo ships at the Georgia-Pacific plant across the river.     DSC_0269









Within the park, there’s also a small lake and river that provides a nice spot for inland fishing, swimming and canoeing.


Sun setting over the lake












There are also several miles of bike trails in the park, and Tom and I explored some of them this week.


So, there’s plenty of opportunities for recreational activities here, but we are also just a few miles from St. Simon’s Island and Jekyll Island.  We visited both this week.

Our first stop was St. Simon Island . . . and Fort Frederica National Monument.     Fort Frederica









Bryce was soooo excited!  Smile  He just HAD to get into many of my pictures as we explored the fort and the abandoned town of Frederica!


Colonial Tom

We stopped in the Visitor Center first, and Tom had fun with the colonial props and games!

Playing games in the Visitor Center

While in St. Augustine, we had learned about Spain’s efforts to protect its colony from British attacks, but in coastal Georgia, on the island of St. Simon, we saw the hub of British Military operations in the area.

The Fort

The British General, James Oglethorpe, was given the task of creating a settlement on the Georgia coast, along with a fort to protect Britain’s interests against the Spanish in Florida.

Bryce with the British flag

The island of St. Simons, thick with live oaks draped in moss,

Spanish Moss

Where are the trees?

was selected for the settlement due to its good water and fertile upland.

The fort was built first,

Frederica's Founder - General Oglethorpe

fortified by cannons overlooking the river.

Bryce with the cannon

Residences and businesses

Foundations of old buildings










were constructed amid a grid of streets and alleys,

Walking through the town

and the entire town was enclosed within a wooden palisade.

The only remaining evidence of the wooden palisade is the mounded earth around the perimeter of the site.

The town wall is under this mound

After the town was complete, Oglethorpe returned to England to gather troops to protect Frederica against attacks from the Spanish, and also to attack the Spanish at St. Augustine.

Barracks were built in Frederica to house many of the troops.


Archeological excavations in the area provide many clues about life in Frederica and the Fort.

Bryce particularly liked this tool!




Founded in 1736, the small English village prospered for a number of years and successfully protected coastal Georgia from Spanish attacks, but just 2 decades later the town was largely abandoned.


Burial Ground

Yeah, we get to leave the Fort . . . !


Bryce says, “Yea, we’re done looking at the fort!”

He’s impossible!







We drove back across the island to the little village of St. Simon.

St. Simon Lighthouse

We saw the lighthouse, walked out on the fishing pier,

Fishing Pier

Houses on St. Simon










and watched some guy doing handstands on the beach.  Confused smile

Since we had a few stops to make before we could go home for dinner, we got some frozen yogurt to tide us over . . . who needs more of a reason than that??!!

Enjoying our yogurt

Yobe yogurt

It was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed our visit . . . even if it did include a fort!