Category Archives: SC

Summer Relaxation

Relaxation… Maybe just slacking! I haven’t blogged in months! Sorry folks! But I’m here to give you the scoop!

This summer’s biggest project was doing some work on the camper. Specifically replacing the floor of our bedroom slide that had water damage and installing “wood” floors (vinyl “planks”) throughout the camper and getting rid of the carpet! I started a post on this a while back but wanted before and after pictures. But the post sat and sat… and I still don’t have the pictures all together so I’ll just tell you that we made the upgrades and post specifically about it later.

Mike’s three kids couldn’t coordinate schedules for us to take all to the beach at the same time – an annual event. So darn it all – Mike and I had to “endure” the beach on two separate occasions! We took the youngest two to Edisto Beach State Park in South Carolina. This island is a treasure! South of Charleston, it’s a quiet haven covered in live oaks and drapey spanish moss. Small town feel, nothing at all like the popular Myrtle Beach. I was worried the kids would get bored because they are used to going to Myrtle Beach with lots of other kids around and lots to do and see. But I think we kept them occupied.

The state park has two campgrounds, one on the beach and one set in a live oak forest, about a mile up the road. (And when I say “the road” I mean the road, the only one leading in and out of town.) If you’re camped at the live oak campground you get free admission into the SP beach area. At first everyone was groaning because they are used to renting a golf cart at Ocean Lakes in Myrtle Beach and jetting to and from the beach on it with all their gear. But they quickly realized that our 8 foot truck bed holds a heck of a lot more stuff than just trying to hold on to a few things on a golf cart! They got over their disappointment of not having the cart.

When I booked the spot about 6 months before our trip there were no available spots big enough for us in the beach campground. (Of course if you’re in the that campground you just walk out to the beach.) Which is how we ended up in the Live Oaks. However we agree the Live Oaks campground is much prettier than the beach. Plus there is access to all kinds of trails in Live Oaks. We ran on the trails a few times and also crabbed off some of the low bridges that connects the trail through the marshland!

Crabbing lesson: go to the grocery store. Ask for crabbing lines and a net and don’t forget to pick up some chicken or turkey necks. Other “throw away” parts are acceptable too. (like chicken backs we used this time.) Find yourself a little bridge or dock in a saltwater marsh at high tide. Attach a poultry piece to the end of the line (a cotton line with a triangular hook on the end and a weight) and throw it over the side.

And wait.

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Some people prefer to crab with traps. But if you’re with kids or someone who has never crabbed before using the lines are more fun. A trap you throw in, leave and come back for it later. But the lines are more like fishing. Once you feel a tug you have to pull up your line very slowly or else the crab will notice and let go. Right before you pull it out of the water you scoop it up with your net and drop him in the bucket you brought along.

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Then it’s off to make Low Country Boil! Potatoes, corn, sausage, shrimp, tons of seasonings and, of course, your crabs!!! And if you’re as lucky as we were you get Justin, my chef-y little brother, to make it for you!!

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The crabs are small and you have to do a lot of work for a little bit of meat. But it’s the experience, right??

Our next beach adventure was about two weeks later with Mike’s oldest daughter. We took her to the eastern shore of Virginia, specifically, Kiptopeke State Park. This is another gorgeous park! Lots of trails, boat dock and private beach! They even have concrete ships out in the bay for a reef! It’s just over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel from Virginia Beach. We did drive over on two occasions. But be warned – the toll for the bridge is expensive!!!

But this was a great excuse to get the jetskis out and use them for the first time since we picked them up earlier in the summer.

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After the beach we headed to Long Island! But that’s another story.. stay tuned!

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Growing Pains

Sometimes even I’m speechless…

We set off on time, October 22nd, headed to Clemson University via a stop over outside of Richmond. This was the real test. Although we had taken the camper out many times before, this is when the rubber hit the road, pun intended. Where we get to see how the camper really lives and not just weekends.

Our first stop was a friend’s house hours away in Virginia. Our first obvious mistake was not realizing we don’t make “Garmin GPS time”. Our 8 hour trip took ELEVEN! We were exhausted.

Did I mention navigation has turned into a nightmare? We purchased a new Garmin Nuvi 2555 lmt so we don’t have to rely on our phones and use our Wifi hotspot as much (or our data plan). Plus it’s much more useful in places when we don’t get a cell signal. However it arrived the day before we pulled out and I hadn’t had time to learn anything about it.

But the stop at my college girlfriend’s house, Margarita Girl and her hubby, was a great respite. It’s was a well-needed stop for us all – Indy gets to stretch his legs in the backyard with Lulu the bulldog and Sweetie the lab-who-was-rescued-from-living-a-life-on-a-chain. Sweetie was very excited to chase Indy around Lulu could barely keep up. Indy just wanted to check out the yard.

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But in true Margarita Girl fashion, even a late, simple Mexican dinner somehow turns into a fiesta! We arrived to the restaurant to a Mariachi band!!! And when I figure out how to insert the video I took of that Mariachi band I may just even share it with you! But close your eyes and envision a Mariachi band playing and dancing the Macarena behind my friend (who is pregnant with twins!!) in the picture below. And we got a table-side rendition of Margaritaville too!

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The next morning we set out to Mike’s brother’s house in West BY GOD Virginia. We needed to drop off items for him to store for us. Unfortunately I chose the wrong the route on the new Garmin because I CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO USE THE STINKIN’ THING YET!  What was supposed to be a 4 hour drive took us over 8…. through hairpin turns, up and down mountains on two lane roads.

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We had to stop in a small Virginia town to let the truck and camper brakes cool down for a bit. It seemed like a great opportunity to buy that grease gun and get to greasin’ those brakes! Except we went through three guns (in the auto parts parking lot) before we could find a gun that worked properly. Note – just break down buy the full-sized version, not the mini. Because apparently no one gave any extra engineering time to design the mini. So it has design flaws and just doesn’t work.

Oh, and when you stop later in the trip to check that your brakes are ok, DO NOT use your fingers to test how hot the brake discs are… (that was Mike’s mistake, not mine. For the record.)

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But like all the RVing adverts show, you can slow down a little and enjoy life, even if you’re trying to hurry up and get somewhere. We decided to lunch at Penny’s diner, a little chromed-out retro joint on the side of the interstate that serves your grandma’s iceberg lettuce salads and “pickle fries”.

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We made our drop off in WV and drove as far towards SC as we could make it that evening, pulling into a Wal-Mart parking lot to sleep. This is where we realized the fridge wasn’t working quite right. And the batteries weren’t holding a charge. (both of the “new” ones.) So we got ready for bed using flashlights. Let’s say it was a challenge and leave it at that.

Trying to navigate seems impossible. I have a Garmin, an iPhone, an iPad, and an android phone all mapping AT THE SAME TIME and still can’t always get us where we want to go. (Yes, I have paper maps but we’re trying to learn the ins and out , i.e. weaknesses and strengths, of our technology.) All with a cat on my lap who has decided he LOVES the road life and refuses to get out of the front seat.

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Have I mentioned this whole time our 80+ pound dog refuses to sleep on his dog bed and demands to sleep in the camper bed with us?? On top of all these issues we aren’t getting much sleep due to a third “person” trying to snuggle in bed with us. It would be accurate to say we have short fuses at this point.

But we DO make it to Clemson! And we DO get to see my dad and his girlfriend! And we DO get to see Clemson beat Syracuse! (although that was the ugliest game I’s seen in a long time…)

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So dry camping is an issue at the moment. We had to constantly run the truck to keep any charge in the batteries because it appears our solar panel isn’t working either. So here is the recap of issues we have/ need to get resolved over the past 5 days:

– fridge not consistently working
– batteries not holding a charge
– need to figure out navigation technology
– find a better bike rack solution (and make sure the current rack doesn’t loosen and come off!)
– get the dog off the bed at night! (found a temp solution to that last night!! yippee!)

The biggest lesson? SLOW DOWN! Unfortunately these next few weeks we MUST be certain places at certain times and the urgency in our schedule is adding extra stress to our schedule.

I won’t lie. This trip hasn’t exactly gotten off on the right foot. But before leaving Clemson we stopped at the SC Botanical Gardens (located on Clemson’s campus) and I got a much needed recharge. If you’re in the area I highly recommend it!

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We are currently in Asheville, NC for a few days. As always, it’s beautiful! So long as we don’t kill each other today we’ll will have made it past our first milestone – 6 days without calling it quits on the trip (or each other)! haha! Yes, we may have had some friends betting on that. And the way the trip has started so far those people might not have been too far off. But we’re hanging in there!

Hopefully we’ll get some normalcy soon with more consistent electricity and WiFi and a more normal schedule. I plan on making more consistent blog posts too and not overwhelm you with these doozies!