Life on the Open Road

Life on the Open Road

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Whetting My Appetite: Northeast to Southeast in Fall 2016; Georgia

Once I got into Georgia I did hop onto I95. I often chose a route I hadn’t taken before, even if it included highways. Again, the goal was to get to warmer weather, then I would slow down and travel however I wanted to. It was rainy but warmer and I felt it was a good time to fill my fresh tank. I had left freezing temperatures and hadn’t filled up. After four days of traveling like this, I stopped at an RV store that allowed me to dump and fill my tanks for free. I actually passed it and once I realized it was the same one I had stopped at last year, I got off the highway, turned around, and took care of this stuff in the rain. With it done, I knew I could have something else I really wanted- a hot shower.
I was smiling at this sign. :)
So I pulled into a park in Pooler, Georgia and showered and tidied up some. I spent the night in a very active parking lot with lots of other RVs and trucks, plus cars. I slept well and relaxed, eating a good fresh meal, and watching a couple of episodes of Fraggle Rock. The next morning, I drove around a little then headed back to the park.

I walked the loop multiple times, taking pictures and listening to music while enjoying the warmer sunny weather donning my flip flops and t-shirt. Ahhh nice. I was even happy to see the sign about snakes and other wildlife. I’m not Southern nor will I ever be, however, I love being here and am glad I came back. While I believe I can choose to be happy anywhere, this is definitely an easier place for me to be happy. The sunshine and warmth is just sooooo good. I love it.
I put things away, cleaned the floor, washed dishes, and ate well. I’m pretty sure I’ve decided what I’d like to do for my birthday this year. I’m so close to Savannah yet am feeling like I can skip it this time. I’ve been many times and spent last year there for my birthday. I would like to do something different. 
While I don’t know what I will do this Winter, where I will be, or with who, I know I want to feel good. I know what kinds of experiences I want to have - warm, good feeling, light, fun, easy and exciting. I know I want to see and do new things and meet new people. For right now, I’m going to relax, give myself a break, and allow things to unfold for me. It’s easy for me to feel good here and I love feeling good.
- I wrote the above while I was there. This is later in the month now. 
I decided to take 17S instead of getting back on a major highway and it was a nice drive. Lots of nature, few other vehicles, and occasionally going through towns some. 
Click to view a bigger image.
I saw a sign for Sapelo Island and opted to visit. I wasn't familiar with it and went into the visitor's center there to learn more. There is a small display area like a museum exhibit and a store, too. There was also a trail. With the sign's notice, I passed on that one. A neat little stop and maybe one day I'd take a tour of the island. It is a private one so you need some connection or tour to visit it. 

As I continued on, I noticed Jekyll Island. I didn't stop but had at least heard of this one. I began to recognize where I was some from earlier this year and will note how interesting it was to me that earlier this year felt like last year or longer ago than it was. Soon enough I entered Florida in a new to me way. I love that! When I take a different road into Florida especially, it sort of thrills me. I have actually gone back up to Georgia since but this really completes the "Whetting My Appetite" on my way here. I didn't realize when I'd left that I'd need to go as far south as I did in order to reach the warmer weather. Oh well. I'm glad to be home! 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Whetting My Appetite: Northeast to Southeast in Fall 2016; North and South Carolina

From Virginia, I went to Charlotte, North Carolina. This trip falls into the "Different Route to the Same Location" category. I was looking at the map and noting how many places I had already visited and the route I took last Fall(check out "After the Fact" for posts on that trek, if you're interested.) It was interesting to see how much of states I had already covered. I know there is more than I’d likely ever see, still I have seen quite a lot!
Charlotte is much bigger than I’d imagined! I smiled when I saw “Future” on road signs and I stopped for some time at Freedom Park. This is a big park and I was glad to walk around some. I also realized that I was back in Harris Teeter territory. I love this store! So I went to one and bought a few things.
It was an overcast and rainy day and I hardly took pictures. I walked the pathway, around the pond, onto a bridge, into the train, passing the playground and obstacle course workout station and more. It was a good break from driving.
Lots of open space, a playground, pond, outdoor stage and seating, fitness areas, and more- this park is nice and has variety!
This train is in the park and you are able to walk into it.
Next I drove into South Carolina. I went to Columbia, where I hadn’t been before, and it also seems quite big, but less city like and more spread out. Could totally be my somewhat limited perception of things. I didn’t stay longer after spending the night despite all the cool places along the way as I knew my number one priority was to get to warm, sunny weather. I love the warm weather and enjoying the journey on the way to it was easy enough with how I traveled, whetting my appetite yet knowing I would love being farther south for now.
There are some states that draw me to them more than others. I have really liked exploring North Carolina before and had often ranked Asheville and then Hendersonville as some favorite places. My feelings for South Carolina have been more neutral, or take it or leave it. One of the things I know, however, is that feelings can be changed and that, even places I’ve been before can be totally different experiences the next time I go. I keep an open mind and enter a place as if it is new, even if it is familiar. I’ve been really enjoying getting to know one such place lately and will be sharing about that once I get up to being back in Florida again. For now, these were just stops to get a sense of the place as I passed through. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays! 

I'm at a campground for three days straight, possibly more, should I choose to stay longer. 

I'm grateful for sites that are kept unreserved for people who just show up, like I did. And I'm thankful I have a smaller RV so I could fit as this campground has a max of 30'. I appreciate that I got a spot somewhat secluded, after being given the choice between two, that I'm closer to RVs than tent campers (who, at least here so far, seem to be a bit noisier),  that I can use my new solar lights outside, have access to daily showers if I want them, and have AC power plus a beautiful canopy of nature around my site and I'm walking distance to the beach and trail. 

I washed all of my dishes last night, plan to shake out and vacuum the rugs and floor, will flush and fill the tanks, and generally tidy up, plus I can use my computer and some new gear to create and play music. I'm also going to clear out some pantry space by using what I have as I did not stop at a store for more food before the weekend. 
Holidays are what we make them. I love a peaceful, quiet day. I love feeling content about where I am and what I'm doing along with eagerness and excitement for more. 
No matter what one celebrates or does not, the collective energy of so many people creates many good feelings this time of year. And, just with any day, I hope whatever you do, you enjoy it. 
Happy Holidays! 
(I got this super short clip while I drove through downtown St. Marys, GA recently and wanted to share it. I loved driving in the lit areas like this this year and that the music somehow was perectly timed for a one second clip was neat, too. I made it longer to post on Instagram which also changed the formatting with font and image slightly.) 

Friday, December 23, 2016

A few technical glitches...  

A new post is up and this brief post is to test if it will email and appear via twitter as the latest only appeared on the site as far as I saw. 
Thanks for following along everyone! 

Whetting My Appetite: Northeast to Southeast in Fall 2016; Pennsylvania and Virginia

I’ve decided to call this weeklong trek from New England to Florida, “Whetting My Appetite” as that is exactly how I chose to feel about moving quickly through places I want to see more of. I knew I could have dashed down I95S as I had many times as a kid for vacations, but that was not what I truly wanted to do. At the same time, being in cold weather, especially cold and snowy weather, was also not what I wanted to do! I’ve traveled enough and know myself well enough to have a sense of what I’d find satisfying and I’m happy with the choices I made during this drive.
You can feel the cold just from looking at this, right? Blue skies? Sure. It was still cold.
I was really excited and still am to explore Pennsylvania more. I love driving through it, have explored parts before, and consider it one of my favorite states. I get a good feeling from it and find it to be beautiful. My Fall travel plans were changed and, rather than being upset by this, I made the most of trip on my way to warmer weather. One thing I knew was that there were a few places in PA I wanted to stop at anyway. I figured, at the very least, it would whet my appetite to take a new route and pass through areas of interest.
One place I wanted to see was Scranton. I only stopped briefly, still it gave me an idea of what was there. I drove through the downtown some and found a nice park to walk around. It was chilly and there was some precipitation including that white fluffy stuff.
There is a museum at this park I opted to skip for this visit.
The liminal Fall to Winter is apparent.
Next, I stopped in Hershey to see Chocolate World. I went on the free tour attraction and got a sample candy that was quite tasty. This houses the largest Hershey candy store plus various other attractions and holiday lights. It’s near the entrance to Hershey Park, which would be a place I’d visit some warmer time. It was cold and I drove through snow getting there.

I bypassed Lancaster. I have been before and want to go again. My TripAdvisor app has a bunch of saved places I want to see there. I will another time as I know I want to spend more time in Pennsylvania. I want to explore the Poconos more and I could see this being a state I go through much like I did Wisconsin this Summer. I love Wisconsin and found so many diverse things there. I really feel PA would be the same in that respect with lots to offer and beautiful scenery. I’ll take another taste and am so happy that I drove through like this, making the most of it, going with the flow, seeing what I wanted to see, and being content with what I could enjoy doing now.
Downtown Lynchburg. Mural view from my dashboard.
Lights in Lynchburg. The streets, my dashboard.
Instead of Lancaster- as I was doing this rather condensed and fitting in a lot- I decided to go to Lynchburg, Virginia. I drove through town a little and stopped at a trail of sorts by some train tracks in the downtown. This was a nice location for some rest from all the driving. I actually decided to nap here and continue driving later in the night which worked out very well! My feelings with traveling like this shifted some as I became a lot more aware of and comfortable with stopping during the day here and there to rest and then driving at night. Since, I have even enjoyed night driving the RV where I had mostly not before.
Virginia is a state I have visited mosty driving through so it was awesome to feel inspired to possibilities for visiting more as I was seeing parts I hadn’t before and became intrigued at what else I may find there. For example, this was a beautiful overlook I pulled over to snap this lovely view from my dashboard at.

Believe it or not, I think this was all in one day! I know I am leaving things out both purposefully and otherwise, too. I was and am happy to be on the road again.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Traveling in the Fall of 2016

My travel plans and what actually happened this Fall were different from what I was imaging. I have learned a lot from the experience of repairs and, as I was leaving last weekend and driving through a state I really love to be in, I realized that I could have still been doing trips when I wasn’t. I understand why I chose what I did and also consider this a great thing to have learned from. That said, I set off early last Sunday morning. It was freezing and I decided not to fill my fresh tank even partway as I’d originally planned. I put things into the RV knowing they’d be put away later and were fine for driving, and I hit the road.
On the road again!
It’s kind of amazing to think that was only a week ago! A cool thing about traveling is how much there is to see and do and how filling and fulfilling it can be!
I’ve driven From Here to There before and know it can be done. It is generally my preference to take state roads, old highways, through town streets, and what have you over main highways. I knew with complete certainty that I wanted to be in warmer weather. That made it very easy to change my plans and let the ideas I’d had come to fruition some other- warmer- time. I want to enjoy it and I would not like being in such cold. I still wanted to make a few stops though. I know I can live without running water(I had jugs and my canteen, thermos, and tumbler full and would heat water in the morning and refill them) and that anything else could be taken care of once I reached a warm enough place. I’d go as far as it took to be the temperatures I liked and then continue more slowly. Again, the goal was warmer weather. It wasn’t a set destination.
At the same time, I love taking a Different Route to the Same Location, so I did that, too! I bypassed NYC once again to get out of New England and, while I did take the main highways some, I chose different roads often and new areas to pass through so I could see even more of the states I’d been to last Fall and, in some cases, numerous times before that. As I was driving, I felt reminded to enjoy it and that I was- that the movement through was part of the fun. It’s not the here and there for me, it’s the here to there most of the time.
I began pondering this and how, before I bought my first RV, I would read various blogs and books about RVers who were living full-time and how they did it. I liked seeing the places they’d go and experiences they’d have. It also recently dawned on me that I can really only think of one other RVer who travels similarly to the way I do. I know there are more! I mean blog-wise, I have just one come to mind.
It seems a lot of RVers have campgrounds or places they are going to. They drive there and maybe stop a few times, mainly to sleep and eat along the way, but more so are focused on arriving there and being there once they do. So yes, they are traveling and exploring, but it’s more here and there. They seem happy doing it this way.
I purposefully drive through towns and places to get a feel for them. If I like it, I stop! If I want to go somewhere else, I do. I often make a point to do a quick check on where I might stay within the area, should I want to spend a night. For me, within about 20 miles or 15-20 minutes away is my preference. I know I can drive that easily to get someplace to sleep and then explore more. I love the freedom of roaming and exploring. I love being receptive to all sorts of fun experiences and conversations. Life is full of wonderful and delightful surprises this way.
I was recently talking with some folks about my class B RV and I was noting that, for me, now, this is a great sized vehicle. It can fit under and go over most bridges(height and weight restrictions may apply for larger rigs, and maybe even width can, if it is a narrow way.) It can fit in a standard parking space. I can easily drive in towns like I love to. Most usual auto shops (I prefer dealerships for this vehicle) can service it, including the express lanes for oil changes. It can fit most campsites, not that I go to campgrounds much, but still. I have room for myself and my cat. It can be somewhat stealth when I want it to be. For the way I like to travel, this is a really great choice! 
As I was thinking about that, it again brought to mind how it’s a matter of travel preference. If you are into campgrounds and staying in one place a while, a trailer or 5th wheel could be great. Drop it off, drive a truck or have a toad. I thought about some of the people I've known of who have had big rigs, including some older solos. Large class A buses they'd drive, usually with a toad, too. There are a lot of different options, and something for anyone looking to travel or simply live in an RV even if they don’t travel. For right now, having something that is similar to traveling in a car that allows me the luxury of a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom plus enough space for my cat all in one compact vehicle is really great and fits my needs for the way I like to explore. The freedom it allows to travel as I love is currently more important to me than anything else.
Anyway, even though it has only been a week since I set off, I do have multiple posts for the travels during this time. I am currently back in Florida. I haven’t got any plans for where I’ll be or when and I’m really enjoying that. I love that. I love the freedom and the knowing that I will feel my way to whatever it is I’m wanting. It’s easy and it feels good. And I know that it felt like home when I arrived and I am so happy to be back. It’s an awesome thing to love being where you are. And it’s an interesting thing to find a place feels like home to me.
Home is where I drive it, where I park it, and where I love being.
At the beach today.

Friday, December 9, 2016

After the Fact: A Beach in Florida

During my travels in the Fall of 2015, I experienced many new places. I didn't always track where I was or when, I took it in as I went and enjoyed the journey. I took a lot of photos and texted people. And I saw things and experienced things that simply were for me, not shared in any vocalized or photographed sense, still parts of the whole I remember.
I know I went to Valdosta, GA. I can imagine a downtown decked for the holidays in the dark night without recalling what town that was in. I remember strip malls and then more strip malls nearby. I remember gas prices right off the highway in the $1.50-1.60 range at full price. I remember interesting people and birds in parking lots, dialects, friendliness, and smiles. I remember vibes and nature and culture. I remember numerous firsts for me as a person, a solo traveler, and more. And maybe those specifics that made any given experience a part of the place are unimportant anyway. It doesn't matter where it happened, it's that it happened. The right time happens in the right place and there are many right places.
There's so much that this site will only ever cast a glimpse on things and "After the Fact" has highlighted places I could more easily document and share about. What I can say is that it was filled with fun and good stuff. I'm very happy with the travels and my memories of it. I'm happy with where I've grown to be and how I continue to expand through my life experiences.
So to end this series of posts, I have a few pictures of a beach somewhere in Florida. It was, as far as I knew, a new to me place. A touristy area, yet with its own feel, different from the others I'd visited there before and since. Every place has the potential to feel good. As I stopped briefly to visit the ocean and capture a few pictures, this is a spot I still wanted to include even if I can't quite remember the name of it. And as I looked through my photos recently and saw some of Florida, I felt good, smiled, and felt warm. The feelings of Home.
A sunny Florida road.
A sunny Florida road.
A gator in a visitor's center.
A gator in a visitor's center.
I hope you've enjoyed "After the Fact" as I have. It has been awesome to recap and I am eager and excited for the treks to come!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

After the Fact: Savannah, GA

All right so I said that “After the Fact” was to include places I hadn’t been before in states I had been before and that is mostly true, aside from Asheville and today’s post, Savannah. 
When I was a teenager I had a fantastic first visit to Savannah just prior to St. Patrick’s Day weekend. I had no idea they went all out in celebration of this holiday and it felt like the Twilight Zone to me. They added green dye to the fountains, had festivities, an alligator costumed person doing pictures with kids, the Navy ship sail in on the river and more. It was fun and totally unexpected- perfect time and place sort of experience.
I’ve been back to Savannah since and figured, hey, I’m close enough, I’m going to go there again to celebrate my birthday. It was a rainy December day, yet rain does not stop me from going outside, exploring, and enjoying myself at all. So I wandered around and snapped some pictures, as usual.
During my Fall travels especially, I recall seeing a bunch of RVs in stores and snapped pictures often.
During my Fall travels especially, I recall seeing a bunch of RVs in stores and snapped pictures often.
I loved this.
I loved this. I walked these steps as I had before and lived to tell once again. 
By the water.
By the water.
A tip for RVers: the visitor’s center downtown allows you to park overnight in the RV area for $8 (as of December 2015.) It’s not with hook ups or anything, just a lit parking lot. I didn’t do this that night, but did ask and it is an option.
I like being someplace I've been before, where I have memories of my experiences there in addition to knowledge of the place itself. In Savannah, I remembered that I once walked right into a huge puddle of water before doing a ghost tour. My shoes got soaked but I didn't care. I remember the window in the top floor of a building where it is said that children's handprints remain as they died in a fire up there and couldn't get out. Even after wiping the windows clean, the prints came back. And the teeth in the trees...! Lots of stories. Savannah is an historic area and, while touristy, it is fun and enjoyable. The Spanish Moss is beautiful, too.
Friendly people, decorated for the holidays, and a day of wandering what was for a long time one of my favorite places I'd been. (I still like Savannah a lot. My travels since have added places to my favorites list so it isn't one of the first I say if asked these days.)
My birthday is coming up again soon and I'm excited to see where I end up this year!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

After the Fact: Santa Claus, Georgia

This was a unique town. There are very few towns called, “Santa Claus” and, given the upcoming holidays and the fact that it was so close to Vidalia, I figured I’d stop by. It is super small with street names like “Dancer” and “Holly” and a tiny town hall you can park at when you arrive. There was a store there that seemed abandoned. I’ll skip details and just share a few images. I had hoped to send a postcard from here. Instead, after visiting a bunch of stores nearby and not finding any postcards, I went with holiday cards. There is a mail collection box there so you can have it stamped from “Santa Claus” which I thought was cool.
It was a bit eerie, being set up yet empty as I found it. There were some people there; lawn care workers and children playing in their yard. Other than that, it was pretty bare. I’m really glad I stopped and saw it and got the letters out to people as I did(and the stamp on the envelope did look cool.) I would say that it’s hit or miss and, if you’re in the area, a brief stop may be enjoyable, or a bit weird. Maybe even both! :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

After the Fact: Vidalia, Georgia

Vidalia The Sweet Onion City
There’s a fair chance you are mispronouncing this town and onion’s name. Regardless of that, there is also a fair chance you’ve heard of it and possibly eaten it before. Even Shrek likes onions (and the story of how that got into the movie and how much it boosted sales is a good one you can learn about when you visit!)
There were onions throughout the town.
There were onions throughout the town.
Decked for the holidays onion.
Decked for the holidays onion.
Onion fountain.
Onion fountain.
As I've mentioned, I meandered through Georgia, taking an inland route South as I had already driven it coastal. When I find an area I like, I might look it up to see what there is to see and do. Sometimes it is obvious and sometimes the internet helps. In this instance, the internet helped. I had heard of Vidalia onions and didn’t really know about the town or the onion’s story. Being that I grew up rarely consuming onions in general, I thought it would be interesting to see the onion museum. It is a small museum yet enjoyable and packed full of info. I liked it and am glad I stopped. It wasn’t the season or I’d have maybe tasted one.
Vidalia onion comes from a specific region in Georgia. A woman purchased some seeds and they turned out so well given the soil and climate that this was a huge success and the area became famous for them. They haven’t been able to grow the same anywhere else and there is actually a law about where they must be grown to be called Vidalia. Apparently they are sweet onions that can be eaten like apples.*
The museum is clean, well spaced, and has enthused people who are happy to tell you all about this onion. You can learn about the history, watch a music video, see how they are harvested(still by hand), and learn about recipes and more. It’s worth a stop if you’re nearby.
*I wrote this a while back and have since tried and enjoyed Vidalia onion plus eaten more onions in general. So far, I prefer them cooked and sweet onions are quite good! One of the best pizzas I've had yet has them on it and Mmmm, delicious!
The downtown in Vidalia is also nice.
I remember finding this sign funny. Despite the images of Winter and holiday decorations, it was hot!
I remember finding this sign funny. Despite the images of Winter and holiday decorations, it was hot!
RV in the window!
RV in the window!
And so what is the proper way to pronounce this town and onion? I was told at the museum and would sound it out as: Vie-DAY-ah.