Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ocean to Mountains, August 4, 2017 Through August 16, 2017

So much time has passed since we started this trip without blogging that I am now just going to recap each day.  Internet connection has been the problem.
Friday, August 4th we left our Fruitland Park storage yard with our 2 youngest grandchildren along.  They had been staying with us for about a month and it was time to get them back home.  Traveling a short 77 miles to Port Orange, Florida we checked in to Rose Bay RV Park.  We planned to stay here for 2 nights in order to go to Daytona Beach with the kids.  Needless to say we had a great time going to the beach.  We gave the kids the choice of a third day of going to the beach with 2 long days of travels or forget the third beach day just get on the road and travel 3 days.  The third beach day won out.  It was wonderful seeing these 2, Parker (8 on 8/12) and Gabi (5) enjoying playing in the waves fearlessly.
On Monday, August 7th, we began our trek north going 403 miles to Florence, South Carolina.  We stayed at Swamp Fox RV park.  It was a long day for all.
Tuesday 8th, we continued our travels to South 40 Resort near Petersburg, Virginia, 269 miles.  This would be our last night of the kids being with us.  We did stop in Skippers, Virginia at a peanut factory where we all sampled a variety of peanuts (salted, spiced, and chocolate coated and other concoctions and nuts).
August 9th, Wednesday, Todd came to the campground after getting off work at 8am to get Parker and Gabi.  We all ate breakfast at a restaurant next to the campground and then said our good-byes as Todd and kids headed home to Stafford, Virginia as we headed off unsure just where we were going.  We did go southwest to Graham, North Carolina located between Durham and Winston-Salem, 221 miles.  We stayed here for 2 nights at Hidden Lake Park.  On Thursday we went to Old Salem, a Moravian community that was settled many years ago.  Interesting old town with people dressed in period costumes talking about past life in this community.
August 11th, Friday, we drove on for 186 miles to Hendersonville, N.C.  Being a weekend we couldn't find a campground in the Boone, N.C.area so we settled for Park Place in the Flat Rock/ Hendersonville area.  This area is the mountainous area of western North Carolina.  Chimney Rock is a state park that we drove to but did not go into the park.  It costs $13.00 per person and there was many steps to climb to get to the top.  There is an elevator which was not working - the price of $15.00 per person had been reduced because of this problem.
Monday, August 14th, another 128 miles and we were in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee at Creekside RV Park where we are staying until Friday 18th.   On Tuesday we drove to Gatlinburg and walked around the stores.  Wednesday (today) we went to Dollywood for the day, had a nice day of enjoying rides (our first ride of the day was on a raft ride which we both got soaked and did not get dried out until afternoon) and seeing shows.  One show featured Dolly Pardon's brother, Randy, as well as a couple nieces and cousins and other non relatives, nice show.
The goal for this trip is to be in an area to see the August 21st solar eclipse.  Somewhere along our way Tom learned of a gathering in Tennessee north of Nashville for seeing this event.  We will be at this gathering Friday through Monday.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Maryland to Florida with Stops in Between- May 19- June 1, 2017

I really got behind in my blogging due to lack of decent wifi hook-ups.  In fact we never got our computers out of the cases.  So I will attempt to play catch-up.
May 19th, Friday,  this was the day of the wedding of my nephew, Brent, and his bride, Laura.  The Bay, a venue that was along the Chesapeake Bay was the setting.  The weather was not totally cooperative as it rained before the ceremony, then stopped for the ceremony but resumed shortly afterwards.  But all in all, it was a lovely wedding and a fun filled reception.  It was so nice to see so many of the family.  Disappointingly, Todd's family were sick and unable to attend.  Consequently, we did not see them this trip north.
May 20th, Saturday, Tom left the campground early to drive to Union Bridge for the Carroll County Fire ans EMS convention.  As a past president of the county firemen he had been invited to the past president's breakfast held prior to the other activities of the day.  It was a dreary cool day so I just did some cleaning and such in the motorhome.
May 21st, Sunday,  we had a leisurely morning getting ready to depart from the campground.  It was a little past 11am when we finally got underway.  We only went 129 miles to Deal Island, Maryland to the island house of Larry and Joanne.  After the wedding on Friday evening Larry and Joanne spent the night at a hotel then Saturday returned to their home in Pennsylvania, pick up their dog and on Sunday drive down to Deal Island.  We arrived about 3:15pm just a short time after they had gotten there.
Monday 22nd of May,  we traveled around the area and had a nice lunch.  We spent time just talking and visiting.
Tuesday 23rd of May, for the second day Joanne made a nice breakfast for all of us.  Larry had arranged with a local crabber to get some crabs which Larry steamed and we all chowed out on.  Nothing like Maryland steamed crabs and there is none any fresher than these were.
Wednesday, May 24th, we left Larry and Joanne about 8:30am heading south across the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel and Bridge and finally getting on I-95.  We stopped for the night about 8:30pm in Selma, N.C. at RVacation campground.  Had a stormy evening.

May 25th, Thursday, we arrived in Myrtle Beach, S.C. about 12:45pm at Pirateland Campground.  We had a great site right along the beach.  We stayed here for a week enjoying the beach and the area restaurants.  Our transfer switch on the motorhome went bad causing us to not have electric coming into the coach only battery. No air conditioning, thankfully it was not sweltering.  Of course this occurred on a holiday weekend but RV Rescue did respond on Saturday and did the necessary repairs and we were back on electric power.
One day we met a high school classmate of mine that lives in this area for lunch at the Noizy Oyster restaurant.  Great catching up.

June 1st, Thursday, we left the beach behind moving farther south.  We stopped for the night in St. Augustine, Florida staying at Stagecoach Campground.
June 2nd, Friday, we drove 100 miles to Fruitland Park where we store our motorhome.  After cleaning out the refrigerator and clothes we were in our house by noon.
A nice trip.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Destination- Maryland, May 15 - 18, 2017

Monday morning (15th) we left our home for the storage lot with a loaded Jeep.  At the storage lot we emptied the Jeep and stowed the cargo into the motorhome.  At 9:10am we were on the road headed north.  Tom had found a different route for our travels through Florida to I-95 that was through fewer towns and through parts of Ocala National Forest.  We stopped for the night in Brunswick, Georgia, 194 miles, at the Golden Isles RV Park.

Tuesday morning at 8:55am we were back on the road going north on I-95.  We traveled 278 miles to Dillon, S.C. and Bass Lake RV Park.  The weather was hot, 90's.

Wednesday we left Bass Lake at 8:40am continuing north.   We did stopped for lunch on this day in Roanoke Rapids at a Mexican restaurant, San Jose.  The previous days we had eaten lunch at a rest stop in the motorhome.  After 286 miles we stopped for the night in Ashland, Va. at Americamps RV park.

Today, Thursday (18th), we traveled another 127 miles leaving I-95 continuing on route 301 across the Potomac River into southern Maryland.  We had left at 9:25am and got to Capitol KOA in Millersville, Md. at 12:55pm.  This will be where we be staying for the next 3 nights.  We are here to attend a nephew's wedding tomorrow evening.  This campground is not the most desirable but it is the closest to the wedding venue that we found.  Being very hot, again 90, we only have 30 amp electric which we were made aware of when reservations were made several weeks ago.  There seems to be very few 50 amp sites and the campground is far from being full.  After setting up we jumped into the Jeep getting lunch at South of the Border restaurant, a well needed car wash and then frosties from Wendy's.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Longest Day- February 19, 2017

This day would definitely have more than 24 hours as we were going home.  We were up at 4 am and ready to be picked up from the hotel at 4:30 am for our transport to the Christchurch airport.  There were 3 couples leaving at this time.  A bagged breakfast of yogurt, juice, fruit and some small pastries had been prepared for us since the hotel breakfast was not open.  At the airport we had to process through as international flyers as we would be flying to Australia.  At 7 am we were on the plane for Sydney which was about a 3 hours long.  Landing in Sydney, we found the clock was turned back 2 hours and our next flight did not load up until 1:50 pm so we had about 5 hours of layover time.
We loaded into the plane about 2 pm and the plane took off about 2:30 pm for Dallas/ Fort Worth, Texas.  We would be on this large Air Bus 380 plane for about 15 hours.  Tom and I again lucked out with having the third seat vacant that allowed more room to get comfortable. The flight was uneventful, had a meal, the lights were turned off and window shades pulled down to encourage sleeping, snacks distributed to those awake, then breakfast served with lights turned on and landing in Texas at little past 1 pm (central time) and still the same day.  Again being international travelers we had to go through customs and immigration, collect luggage and then get luggage rechecked. This huge airport had porters with large golf cart vehicles that we utilized to move us from area to area.  Our plane was not scheduled to load until nearly 5 pm so we had time to get something to eat which we did.  The plane loaded fairly promptly and we were on our last leg of this trip to Orlando.  Finally, about 8:30 pm (eastern time) we had landed in Orlando.  When we went to claim our luggage our luggage was not on the conveyor belt. As we proceeded to the desk to make a claim Tom spied our luggage in a roped off area with an attendant.  Our luggage had come in on a earlier flight.  Tom had arranged for a pick-up to take us back to The Villages so Tom had been in contact with him when we landed and we were picked up in a few minutes time after getting our luggage.  We arrived home about 10:30 pm the same day that we had left New Zealand.  With the numerous time zones we passed through we estimate our travels were at least 30 hours from start to home.
The trip was wonderful.  Trafalgar, the tour company, had arranged a tour that gave us an overview of both countries.  We had very little idle time.  Both tour directors, Dave Overton (Australia) and Katie Hunter (New Zealand) were knowledgeable and extremely helpful.  It was a great way to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Back to Christchurch- February 18,2017

Leaving Queenstown by bus at 7:45 am we drove a fairly short stint to a little town of Arrowtown, a historic gold mining village.  It was so early that nothing but restrooms were open but we walked around for few minutes before getting back on the bus and moving on.
We were riding through the central part of the country where it was much drier and the vegetation was golden brown, a change from the green forested coastal area.  We stopped at Lake Tekapo, an alpine lake, and had a look in the tiny little Church of the Good Shepherd that had a front window with the lake in view.  There was also a statue nearby honoring the sheep dog.  All through this area there were big flocks of sheep in the hills and fields.
For lunch we went to Morelea Farm with Angie and Stan Taylor hosting.  We had a wonderful meal of beef, lamb, salad, carrot salad, peas, potatoes and then pavlova for dessert prepared by Angie and her helpers.  We ate in the home and on the porch.  Stan and Angie raise beef cattle, about 180 head, and sheep, about 4000 head.  After eating lunch Stan talked about his farm and that the animals live off the grass that is grown as no grain is used for feed.  Interesting lunchtime.
We arrived in Christchurch a little past 5pm and quickly made our ways to our rooms.  We all met together at 7:30pm for our farewell dinner at the hotel.  Pictures were taken, good byes were given.  Katie, our tour director, gave Tom and I a figurine honoring our 50th anniversary.  Another nice meal with a nice group of folks.  Tom and I didn't tarry too long as we had a 4:30am pick-up time from the hotel to go to the airport for a 7am departure to Sydney, Australia in the morning to begin our trek home.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Queenstown Day-February 17, 2017

Today we had the luxury of not needing to do or be anywhere until 3:15pm and it was very much welcomed by us.  On this segment of the trip here in New Zealand we have been tightly scheduled with activities.   We were later than usual getting up and getting down for breakfast so we thought the dining room would be less crowded but we were wrong.   It was almost impossible to find someplace to sit but finally I found a table with a couple sitting at and asked if we could share the table and they agreed.
After breakfast we walked to the downtown of Queenstown.  Along the wharf there were tables set up with people selling their crafts and wares. And then we walked about the shops in the town.  For lunch we ate at a Mexican restaurant, Sombrero, which was an okay place but not the greatest.
We returned to the hotel but soon started to get ready to go out for the evening.  We were to be ready by 3:15pm to board the bus for a short drive to Queenstown wharf.  We then boarded a steam engined boat that took us across the harbor to Walter Peak Station (ranch).  We were seated on the patio and then had a barbeque- huge shrimp, mussels, smoked salmon, salad, beef, lamb, chicken,potatoes, corn on the cob, and an assortment of desserts.  Food was very good and plentiful.  After dinner, a demonstration of sheep dogs working the sheep and sheep shearing was given before boarding the boat to return to Queenstown.  It was an absolutely beautiful evening.  As we returned on the boat the on-board pianist played familiar tunes and a group of us sat around singing.  Fun times to end the day.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Milford Sound -February 16,2017:

This morning at 7:30 am we were loaded up on the bus traveling west to Milford Sound.  Travel time was about 4 hours as there was not roads that went directly to this area.  We had a couple stops for restrooms and coffee and then when we entered Fiordlands National Park we made several stops for picture taking.  This was a very pretty scenic area with mountains, lakes and waterfalls.  When we arrived at Milford Sound we boarded a boat for a one and half hour tour.  Buffet lunch was served which was very nice- sesame chicken, lamb chops, venison ribs, lo mein dish, salad and ice cream cup for dessert.  The weather was perfect sunny skies and a little coolness.  This Milford Sound is really not a sound but a fjord as this channel was carved out by glacier not by flowing water.  The walls of the mountains were flowing with waterfalls from the melting snow.  A group of playful dolphins entertained us.  Fur seals were sunning themselves on a rock.  We traveled out to the Tasman Sea and then back to the pier.
On our return to Queenstown travels we had a traffic jam of sorts as a huge flock of sheep were being herded down the road.  This trip passed through mostly farm lands.  Large flocks of sheep seemed to be the predominate farm animal.  There were some cattle, dairy and beef.  It is surprising to see herds of deer in fenced in pastures.

Returning to Queenstown and our hotel, Tom and I walked to the downtown area for a bite to eat.  The streets and park areas were teeming with teenagers and young adults.  Tomorrow we have nothing scheduled until 3:30pm and we are looking forward to that down time.