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Tarpon Springs, Florida- The Sponge Capital!

One of my favorite places to visit in the area is the little town of Tarpon Springs.  Drawn there originally by an arts and crafts show, we have now driven the 45 minutes north of St. Petersburg several times.

tarpon springs florida

After living in Maine for six months, this little coastal town almost seems like home!

tarpon springs florida

Tarpon Springs is the self proclaimed Sponge Capital of the World.  You see, in the early 1900’s, it was discovered that the Gulf of Mexico was rich in varieties of sponges.  This attracted Greek sponge divers who wanted to make a living in the United States.

Over the next 30 years, the Tarpon Springs sponge industry became the largest industry in the state of Florida.  Even larger than the citrus crops or tourism!

In the 1940s, blight reduced the growth of sponges, and this profitable industry was nearly wiped out. However in the 1980s, new sponge beds were found. Now, Tarpon Springs is back to being a leader in the world’s natural sponge market.

tarpon springs florida

Our first visit in Tarpon Springs included our friends and coworkers, Rick and Judy and their granddaughter.

I’m totally getting that selfie thing down!

tarpon springs florida

This bustling little town is the home of many small and interesting shops.  Of course, there are plenty of natural sponges available for purchase all over town.

tarpon springs florida

And lots of great homemade soap shops.  I’m a big fan of homemade soaps and having tried my hand at them before, appreciate the quality and amazing selection!

tarpon springs florida

Soap shops, tourist items, t-shirts, you name it.  This town has something for everyone.

tarpon springs florida

Couldn’t find enough seashells?  They have your back.

I won’t tell.

tarpon springs florida

Dave’s favorite place in this town is the Hella’s Restaurant and Bakery.  Their huge selection of Baklava, Spanakopita, cookies, pastries, and cakes is enough to get you in the door.  Dave has gone their twice now and stocked up on Cannolis.

Awesomeness.

tarpon springs florida

Yes, this town even has a Husband Day Care Center!

tarpon springs florida

Hungry?  Head over to Yianni’s Greek Cuisine Restaurant, right on the Sponge Docks!  They offer traditional Greek cuisine and live music.  My favorite is the Pork Gyro Platter with tzatziki sauce!

And amazing Sangria!

tarpon springs florida

And I even found a boat named after me!

tarpon springs florida

Tarpon Springs is a great little town for family fun.   It is one of the many highlights of our stay here in the St. Petersburg area!

Fall in New Jersey

Did I mention that I’m terminally behind in posts?  We have been in Florida for nearly a month and I’m still writing about the trip down!

We took a month to get from Bar Harbor to St. Petersburg, FL and during that time we did a lot of relaxing, visited tourist attractions, and even attended my daughter’s wedding.

After leaving the New England Coast in mid October, we headed to New Jersey.

new jersey rv travel

New Jersey?  You bet!  Most folks think New Jersey is just an extension of New York City with nothing but pavement, traffic and congestion.  And I’m here to tell you that most of New Jersey is nothing like that.

new jersey rv travel

We were headed to Lake Hopatcong, NJ, where Dave grew up.  The plan was to visit friends and check out the area.  He hadn’t been back in years!

We parked the RV at Panther Lake Camping Resort.  It is a 160 acre camping retreat located next to a scenic 45 acre lake in Andover, New Jersey. Loved the beautiful trees and the nice grassy lots!  The RV park was just a short driving distance to our destination, Lake Hopatcong.

Hopatcong NJ

Lake Hopatcong is the largest freshwater body in New Jersey.  Located 30 miles from the Delaware River and 40 miles from New York City, it is a mostly residential lake whose few public access points include Hopatcong State Park and Lee’s County Park Marina.  

Most of the shoreline is privately owned by individual lakefront residents, homeowner or community associations, or restaurants and marinas.

new jersey rv travel

Wildlife along the shore was plentiful.  In fact the deer were a tad too friendly for my taste.  They did not have any fear of humans and would pretty much come right up to you.

They sure were beautiful, though.

new jersey rv travel

Here we were able to meet up with Dave’s childhood friend, Daniel.  He and his family still live right here where they grew up.  They hadn’t see each other in over 30 years.  It was a fun reunion!

new jersey rv travel

We went out to dinner with Daniel and his family where we all insisted on sitting outside along the water, bundled up in our sweaters.

Because when you are in such a pretty area, you really need to enjoy it.  Right?

It was a lot of fun meeting this amazing family, and we do hope to visit with them again in the future!

new jersey rv travel

As for the town of Hopatcong and the area around it really seemed to stand still in time.  According to Dave, this ice cream stand was a regular destination of his as a child.  He says it looks just the same.  Home of the Skyscraper, Cliff’s Ice Cream is a regular tourist attraction.

Of course, we had to stop and get a bit of ice cream.  Sometimes I have to sacrifice for the benefit of the website.  Right?

new jersey rv travel

And I’m here to tell you that New Jersey is a beautiful place in the fall!  Check out this fabulous pumpkin and gourd display!

new jersey rv travel

The Lake Hopatcong area is home to many U-pick farms.  And many of them are open year round!  Depending upon the season, you can find all types of fruits, vegetables and flowers available.

new jersey rv travel

We spent quite a bit of time at several of the farms in the Andover area, picking large black berries, cucumbers, green peppers, and fresh corn.

new jersey rv travel

Just look at this bounty!  You can’t find fresher corn that that!  And if you are looking for a great way to make it and some yummy berry cobbler on the grill, be sure to check out my 3 Berry Cobbler and Grilled Corn on the Cob recipes!

new jersey rv travel

Faith says we need to get back on the road now.  Note the gapped teeth in the front.  We call her our little hillbilly.

Anyway, we headed south from New Jersey after a fun visit.  Our next long-term destination would be Tybee Island, Georgia, for a brief reprieve before we attended my daughter’s wedding in Atlanta.

Stay tuned!
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A visit to the New England Coast

I’m a little behind on posts.  We are currently in St. Petersburg, FL at our current campground job.  Over the past month, we’ve traveled south,  attended a beautiful wedding, and even had some major RV issues.  Lot’s of ground to cover!  So I’m going pick where we left off…

After leaving New Hampshire, we headed toward the coast to check out Boston Cape Cod KOA.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by the manager who told us that Bar Harbor Oceanside KOA had won the Founders Award!

This is one of the top awards given out by KOA based on customer satisfaction.  We were thrilled to be part of it!  And how awesome to be recognized as part of a successful team!

boston cape cod koa

And speaking of great campgrounds, Boston Cape Cod had lots of green space and large shady RV spots.  We made ourselves at home and pulled out some maps to check out the area.

new england massachusettes

We wanted to see the beach and decided to start with Nobska Point Lighthouse.  The Nobska Point Light is located at the southwestern tip of Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. It overlooks Martha’s Vineyard and Nonamessett Island.

The light station was established in 1826, and the current tower dates to 1876.

If you don’t know by now, I simply cannot pass up a lighthouse photo.

new england massachusettes

Or a fun bird photo for that matter.  It was rainy that day and the ocean was full of white caps and foam which made for a cool background in this seagull photo.

new england massachusettes

And look at the rocks!  Have I mentioned before how much I love fun rocks?  In fact, last time we were in Massachusetts, I found rocks to love.

After a day of perusing the beaches, we stopped at the local diner.

massachusettes diner

One of the many things I love about the New England area is all the vintage diners.  Yummy food served quickly and in a nostalgic atmosphere.  This diner, interesting enough is called “Dave’s Diner“.  Easy to remember, right?

While it looks like a vintage diner, it was actually built in 1998.  The diner colors, layout and decor were carefully chosen to create the fun and colorful look of the 50’s era.

And the food was delicious!

plymouth rock portico

Of course, no trip to Cape Cod would be complete without a visit to Plymouth Rock, right?

Upon entering the town of Plymouth, we saw this impressive structure along the shore.  The rock was waiting for us inside! We prepared ourselves to be duly impressed.  This rock had seen so much history!

Here is where the pilgrims first stepped onto shore from their ship, the Mayflower!

plymouth rock

Well…it must have been a small ship.  Or the rock shrunk.  Or something.  I wasn’t prepared for how small it actually was.

And it turns out after some research that no historical evidence exists to confirm this rock as the Pilgrim’s actual stepping stone to the New World.  Plymouth rock is more of a symbol of the courage and faith of the men and women who founded the first colony in New England.

And that is okay with me.  Even if it was slightly underwhelming.

plymouth rock

According to my research, the rock as it exists today is estimated to be only about 1/3 to 1/2 of it’s original size due to being broken and chipped away at by 18th and 19th century souvenir hunters.

Oh, and notice the scar across it?  Apparently sometime in the 1800’s, it was decided to move part of the rock to the center of town where folks could better enjoy it.  That part was eventually moved back to join the rest of the rock a few years later, and “frankensteined” back onto the other half.

plymouth rock

We might have been a tiny bit disappointed by the rock, but the replica of the Mayflower definitely made up for it.  And the beautiful sunset behind it.

Red skies at night means “sailors delight”.

New England was beautiful.  Someday, we hope to return and spend a bit more time there.  But time was going fast.  We had to be in Atlanta by November 1 for my daughter’s wedding and then onto our new job in St. Pete.

So we hit the road again.

traveling sitcom dogs

The dog’s snagged their favorite spots in the front of the coach, and we set out for our next stop, Lake Hopatcong, NJ.

New Jersey, you say? What the heck is in New Jersey?  Well, you just might be surprised…

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Top 9 Things to See and Do in Bar Harbor!

We are now on our way south, heading to St. Petersburg, FL for our winter destination.  I wanted to put together a final post on the beautiful area of the country that we had the pleasure of living in- Bar Harbor, Maine.

One of the questions that I was asked the most while working at the front desk of the campground was, “What are the best things to do in Bar Harbor?”

Well, I have the answers for you, at least from our point of view.  These are the things that you should really not miss if you ever get the chance to enjoy the coast of Maine.

top 10 things to see and do in bar harbor

Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain is located in the nearby Acadia National Park and at 1,530 feet, it is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard.  There are various hiking trails to the summit, some more challenging than others. There is also a paved road to the top.

From the summit, you can see most of Mount Desert Island.  On a clear day, it is a beautiful site to see!

At certain times of the year, Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the United States to see the sunrise.  Getting up to see a sunrise from the top of the mountain is a common attraction.

Sunsets there are beautiful too.

Schoodic Point

Schoodic Point is the only part of Acadia National Park that is located on the main land of Maine rather than on Mount Desert Island.  For that reason, Schoodic is a much more secluded, less crowded opportunity to actually see some wildlife.  Because of the fact that it is located away from barrier islands, you can enjoy the crashing of the waves from an unobstructed Atlantic Ocean.

It is about a 45 minute drive from the tip of Mount Desert Island, but well worth the time.  From Schoodic, you can see the peak of Cadillac Mountain and enjoy another beautiful Maine sunset.

top 10 things to do in bar harbor

Schoodic is where we ran across several huge porcupines.  I’d say they were as big as my VW Bug, but I’d be exaggerating just a tad. Suffice it to say, they were huge!

top 10 things to see and do in bar harbor

Restaurants

Nearly everyone that checked in at the campground asked me, “Where do the locals go?” As visiting “locals”, we soon discovered our favorites:

Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound– in Maine, any place that sells lobster by the pound is called a Lobster Pound.  Imagine that.  There are many of them all over Mount Desert Island and the mainland.  They all compete with each other, sell similar items and their prices are very similar depending upon the varying prices of lobster.  Trenton Bridge has the advantage of a great view and awesome Maine atmosphere.

Chart Room Restaurant–  This restaurant is located right along the water on Route 3 headed toward downtown Bar Harbor.  Because they are not downtown, they are not usually as crowded as those in Bar Harbor.  You can eat right on the water and the food is just amazing.  Loved their Stuffed Haddock.  They also serve steak for those of us that are a bit tired of seafood, and of course, lobster!

Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium located on Main Street in Bar Harbor has lots of fun flavors in their homemade ice cream selection including Dulce de Leche, Bubblegum, (KGB) Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish Cream base ice cream with a Grand Marnier fudge swirl, Rum Raisin, Root Beer Float, and many more!

how to eat a lobster in bar harbor maine

Oh, and Lobster icecream!  Yes, I tried it.  Imagine butter pecan with little chunks of meat in it… yeah, that.  I have to say that it wasn’t my favorite, but at least I can say I tried it!  Ha!

Blueberry Hill Dairy Bar- If you love soft serve, good prices and lots of ice cream for money, you can’t beat Blueberry Hill Dairy Bar.  It is located off of Mount Desert Island in the little town of Ellesworth right on Route 3.

It was one of our most frequent stops when going back and forth to Ellesworth for groceries.  While the ice cream is fabulous, the folks that worked there never seemed to like their jobs much.  I have to say it was a very surly group of individuals.  Cash only.  No samples.  Make sure you know what you want when you get to the window.

In spite of the help, the ice cream was awesome! And well worth the stop.

top 10 things to see and do in bar harbor

Mussel Fishing

Hadley Point is a great place to go if you love mussels.  In the state of Maine, you do not need a license to go mussel fishing.  Simply wait until low tide.  In Maine, the tide drops 10 to 20 feet depending upon where you are.  This leaves quite a bit of the seaweed covered rocks exposed.  Put on some boots march out there, and start lifting up some of that seaweed.  Underneath you will find mussels!

Place them in a bucket of salt water, add about a cup of cornmeal and let them sit overnight, stirring them and adding fresh water every now and then.  This will get them to spit out any sand.  Rinse them and then either steam or boil them with garlic.

A true Maine experience!

top 10 things to see and do in bar harbor
Whale Watching, Lighthouse Cruises

The town of Bar Harbor is the base for many different boat tours including Whale Watching, Lighthouse Cruises, Wildlife cruises, Schooners, Lobster Fishing and more.

Which one is the best?

Well, we think they all have their good points.  Pricing can be as much as $50 per person, so be prepared.  Decide what you would best enjoy and take advantage of the opportunity to get out on the water.  You will love it!

Oh, and take a warm jacket and some anti-motion sickness meds with you just in case.  It is at least 20 degrees colder out on the water and windy too!

top 10 things to see and do in bar harbor

Acadia Park Loop

Acadia National Park offers much to do including hiking, biking, kayaking, rock climbing, and more.  For those of us that love to watch nature in action, it is a fabulous place to go.  The Acadia Park Loop is a 27 mile road beginning at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center (near Route 3 on the northern side of the island) and connects the Park’s lakes, mountains, forests, and rocky coast.

top 10 things to see and do in bar harbor

Baxter State Park

Want a chance at seeing a moose?  Head about 2 hours northwest of Acadia to Baxter State Park in central Maine.  It is worth the trip.  Miles and miles of wilderness where the opportunity to witness wildlife is at its best.

If you love to hike, you can climb to the top of Mount Katahdin which is Maine’s highest peak at 5,267 feet (1,605 m). This mountain is also the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

Some things to note: Baxter State Park has restrictions- no pets, no RV’s, no motorcycles, no large trucks.  It is remote, so little to no cell phone coverage.

top 10 things to see and do in bar harbor

West Quoddy Lighthouse

The little town of Lubec is the home of the beautiful West Quoddy Head Lighthouse.  But even more interesting, Lubec is the easternmost town in the contiguous United States.  Since we have already been to Key West (the southern most point); it seemed fitting!

A visit to this beautiful lighthouse and the area around it is a must-see!

pemaquid lighthouse maine

Pemaquid Lighthouse

Located about 2 hours south of Acadia is Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park. And…it is the lighthouse on the Maine State Quarter, making it the first lighthouse to be featured on a piece of US currency!

Coincidentally, this particular lighthouse is a top destination for weddings with its beautiful rocky cliffs and crashing waves.  The lighthouse is one of the most photographed on the Maine coast.

So there you have it!  Unfortunately, the list leaves out so many things.  I could talk on and on about how much there is to see and do in the area.  We are currently on our way south, and are already missing it.  Who knows?  One day we just may return!

That is the thrill of the journey, right?

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When in Maine, we eat Lobster!

I’m a firm believer that I should make an attempt to try out life as a local where ever I end up.  So with that said, apparently those that live in Maine have a thing for lobsters.  Which means I will have to make the sacrifice and eat a lobster meal.

It will be tough, but we will just have to do it…

how to eat a lobster in bar harbor maine

So where to go?  Well, I could name fifty restaurants in the Bar Harbor area and hundreds more along the Maine coast that sell lobster.  You see signs of that red pinchered thing everywhere.

bar harbor oceanside koa

See all those white floats in the water just off the shore?  Everyone of those is a lobster trap.  They go as far as you can see in all directions.  A passing lobster just doesn’t have a chance in Bar Harbor.

how to eat a lobster in bar harbor maine

Lobsters, lobsters everywhere.  Lobster shirts, lobster signs, lobster salt and pepper shakers, lobster Christmas lights, lobster cookie cutters, lobster calendars…

how to eat a lobster in bar harbor maine

Even Lobster Ice cream!  And yes, it had real chunks of lobster in it. Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium located on Main Street in Bar Harbor has lots of fun flavors in their homemade ice cream selection including Dulce de Leche, Bubblegum, (KGB) Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish Cream base ice cream with a Grand Marnier fudge swirl, Rum Raisin, Root Beer Float, and many more!

My personal goal is to try each flavor before the summer is out.  Will let you know how that goes!  For the record- I  have already tried the Lobster Ice cream.  It was ummm…. interesting.

Dave just asked me about that diet I was planning to go on… Ice cream has lots of calcium, right?

how to eat a lobster in bar harbor maine

And speaking of diet, let’s take in a bit of seafood, why don’t we?  For our first stab at eating a real lobster, we checked out Stewman’s Lobster Pound.

how to eat a lobster in bar harbor maine

Ever eaten a whole lobster?  Well, it is an adventure.  Our waitress recognized the slightly alarmed looks on our faces as these red crustaceans were set in front of us and took us under her wing.  She showed us how to break the the claws off, and then how to twist the tail off the body to get to the tail meat.

After warning us that we needed to remove the “chute” in the tail, she left us to our adventure.

Okay.  I’m not thrilled about looking for a “chute”, but here goes…

So, here is what we learned.  DO NOT twist the tail off the body while holding it over your plate!  Bleh!  There  is green stuff that will fall onto your plate.  This is the lobster tomalley, which is apparently the lobster’s liver and pancreas.  Many people, especially in New England, consider it a delicacy, and eat it along with the rest of the lobster.

We did not.  I will only take this “eating as the locals do” just so far!

But we both did agree that the lobsters were delicious.  Especially the tail and claws.  Now that we have officially been broken in, we plan on trying a few more before we leave the area.  After all, we are experts now!

how to eat a lobster in bar harbor maine

On the home front, the dogs are getting used to their new surroundings.  Ralph has discovered red squirrels (which are the pretty red cousins to his nemesis the gray squirrel in Georgia).  Turns out that they are not afraid of him either.

Ralph now spends an enormous amount of time staring out the window looking for a squirrel sighting so that he can bark like a girl.

It’s a thing.

how to eat a lobster in bar harbor maine

And Dave is busy breaking in the grill.  This week we made Spicy Chipotle Burgers and Grilled Corn on the Cob.

It wasn’t as exciting as the lobster, but it certainly was delicious.

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The New England Coast

We decided to add another stop on our route to Maine in order to make the drive times less strenuous for Dave.  Seems that keeping the distance no longer than 320 miles was a perfect scenario for him.  So with that in mind, our next stop was a small campground in Salisbury, MA.

new hampshire massachusettes

The weather?  Well, it was not cooperating.  Seems that skies are sunny unless we are hitching up the car and getting ready to hit the road.  It poured down rain on us as we prepared to leave Connecticut behind.

Fortunately there was sun waiting for us in Massachusetts.

new hampshire massachusettes salisbury hampton

It was too late, though.  I officially had Rosanne Rosannadanna hair, much to Dave’s amusement.

Salisbury?  Well, because of the rainy weather, and the fact that we were only in town a day, we did not get to see a whole lot of it.  The community is a popular summer resort beach town situated on the Atlantic Ocean, north of Boston, right on the New Hampshire border.

new hampshire massachusettes beach

We can, however, recommend the Seaglass Restaurant, located right on the ocean in downtown Salisbury.  After a chilly, rainy day, a hot bowl of New England Clam Chowder certainly hit the spot.

And the great thing about the Seaglass Restaurant is the fact that you can sit and watch the ocean while enjoying your meal!

new hampshire massachusettes beach

And this is what is called a Lobster Roll.  It is a mix of lobster, veggies and special sauce in a hotdog bun.  We will find out later that this particular item is hugely popular in New England.

new hampshire massachusettes beach

The sun came out the next day and as we headed north, we made a pitstop in the town of Hampton, NH.   What beautiful scenery!

Hampton Beach boasts a mile long boardwalk and Hampton Center which is lined with fast food and full service restaurants  offering seafood, onion rings, fried dough and much more.  You’ll also find lounges offering nightly entertainment, candy stores, gift shops and mini golf and amusement arcades.

new hampshire massachusettes beach

And just look at the rocks!  Yep, that is where my mind goes.  You can take a crafter anywhere, and they just see potential.

new hampshire massachusettes beach

This is what I see!  Painted Paisley Stones – of course!

new hampshire massachusettes beach

Hampton Beach was full of activity including this lone scuba diver.

new hampshire massachusettes beach

We noted that there is a RV park located right down the road from this beautiful spot.  Hampton Beach State Park has RV campsites right on the ocean.  The campground, with 28 sites, is open for reservations from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend.

It is definitely a spot we will keep in mind if we are in the area when it is open.

So… our next stop is Bar Harbor, Maine!  We are excited and just a tad nervous to find out what is on the horizon.  See you there!

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The rolling green hills of Staunton, VA!

After leaving Statesville, NC, we headed up to the KOA in Staunton, VA.  Staunton is located in Northern Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley in between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains.  I grew up in Northern VA, near Washington DC, so I really wasn’t expecting much more than city and crowds.  I was pleasantly surprised.

staunton virginia koa camping

We were met by beautiful rolling hills of fresh green grass.  Honestly, the hills went on for miles!  Dotted with barns and silos, and covered with beautiful grass.  My first thought was, “who the heck keeps all that grass mowed?”

Turns out that cows do!  Who knew?

Well, apparently Dave did, but you see I am a city mouse trying to blend in with all those cool country mice.

staunton virginia koa camping

And the RV park even had it’s share of wildlife.  Geese, ducks and I even happened upon a bunch of deer on an early morning walk with the dogs.  They stood so still that the dogs didn’t even notice them.

staunton virginia koa camping

And while I may be a city mouse, my dogs are apparently southern born and bred.  The minute the temperature dropped into the 50’s, both dogs disappeared into quilt cocoons on my couch.

Quick quiz- can you find the dogs in the photo above?

staunton virginia koa camping

We took a drive out to downtown Staunton.  If you are in the area and want to blend, we discovered that the correct pronunciation of the town name is STAN-ton.

I love the old architecture!  The city is known for beautiful buildings.  Staunton is also the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th US President and the home of Mary Baldwin College, and the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.

staunton virginia koa camping

We bank with SunTrust, so we were particularly intrigued that this beautiful building actually houses our bank!  We suddenly felt the need to visit our accounts.

The inside is just as spectacular as the outside.

staunton virginia koa camping

Also in Staunton is The Cheese Shop! It is a local family owned Amish-style bulk foods store.  They offer a huge selection of cheeses from the Amish Country in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin along with baking items, and bulk package food.

We highly recommend the Amish Farmers Cheese.  It is amazing.  Also if you haven’t ever had it, you need to try Lebanon Bologna.  It is similar to Salami, but with a tangier, smokey flavor.

staunton virginia koa camping

Ralph highly recommends it too!

staunton virginia koa camping

Dave took advantage of the nice weather and built several campfires while we were there.  Like most KOA’s, you can purchase wood at the office and they will deliver it for you.

staunton virginia koa camping

Do you love authentic German food?  When in Staunton, be sure to check out the Edelweiss German Restaurant.  The food is amazing!  They also have a huge selection of German beer and wine.

staunton virginia koa camping

I ordered  Knackwurst with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.   Dave was feeling daring and ordered the Schweineroulade.  It is a tender pork cutlet stuffed with pickles, herbs and spices, covered with a tasty sour cream sauce and Bavarian dumplings.  We both agreed that both meals were delicious, but his was the best!

The meal came with lots of sides including green beans, cooked cabbage, pickled red cabbage (yumm!), and dumplings.  Oh, and be sure to check the German Wine Menu.

We definitely will be coming back next time we are in the area!

staunton virginia koa camping

After a wonderful three day stay, we left Staunton and headed out toward Hershey, PA.  We both decided that if we ever have the opportunity, we would be back for a longer stay.  Staunton was a beautiful place and is definitely one of our favorite stops on this trip.

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A look at Statesville, NC

Our first stop out of Atlanta was Statesville, NC.  Dave had previously mapped out our route to Maine and randomly chose four KOA’s to stop at on the way up.  Strategically, he wanted them to be no more than 300 miles apart, as driving a huge RV in traffic can be extremely tiring.   And I am currently not approved by either one of us to take on that task…

statesville north carolina koa camping

Our plan is to stay a few days if we love it, or leave the next day if we don’t.  Arriving in early April to Statesville KOA was a treat with beautiful spring flowers to greet us.  We were quite happy with this location!

statesville north carolina koa camping

Statesville is located in Iredell County, in north western NC, east of Asheville.  It was named an All-American City in 2009. The city itself was founded by Scots-Irish Presbyterians and German Lutherans, who originally settled in Pennsylvania, and then moved down to Statesville to plant crops in the fertile soil where game and water were plentiful.  

statesville north carolina koa camping

One of the big draws of the area is Lake Norman.  It is a man made lake created between 1959 and 1964.  The dam was constructed by Duke Power and is reputed to be the largest manmade body of fresh water in NC.

Seems we always end up at dams, doesn’t it?  We love the big beautiful lakes.  Oh and there is the fact that you can say dam in just about every sentence.

A stress reliever, right?

statesville north carolina koa camping

If you love to fish, then Lake Norman is for you.  There are yellow perch, crappie, bluegill, and striped, largemouth and white bass.  Lake Norman State Park features 33 campsites with tent pads, picnic tables and grills. The park is open year round for campers.

statesville north carolina koa camping

While perusing the lake and saying dam a lot, we ran across Eddie’s Seafood and Raw Bar.  Since it seems to be named after my brother, naturally I was interested in stopping.  But I have to admit that the main draw was the fact that it sits right on Lake Norman.

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There was plenty of seating inside and the atmosphere was awesome.  However, we chose like everyone else that day to eat out on the back porch.

statesville north carolina koa camping

Dave doing his manly-man pose.

statesville north carolina koa camping

We sat back and enjoyed the view.  There were folks already out on the lake water skiing, and a few children playing on the shore.  A very pretty spot.

statesville north carolina koa camping

And if you are wondering about the food, we can say that it was delicious.  We both ordered the Blackened Fish Sandwich.  Dave suggests that you add the slaw to the sandwich before eating it.

Excellent.

If you are in the Statesville area and looking for a nice place with great atmosphere for lunch or dinner, be sure to check out Eddie’s Seafood and Raw Bar.

statesville north carolina koa camping

That evening, I needed to do a post for Suzy’s Sitcom on Easy Tangy Barbequed Pork Chops.  Believe me, this is a simple recipe.  It is easy to make and delicious.

See, even Ralph thinks it looks good.  Something tells me that I shouldn’t turn my back on him…

statesville north carolina koa camping

I put my handy-dandy grill cook to work, and sat back to enjoy the atmosphere.

We are really enjoying this journey so far. Our next stop is Staunton, VA.   We will be staying in another KOA there.  With a beautiful weather forecast of sunny and in the 70’s, we should have a great time.

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Saying goodbye to Atlanta!

It has been a rough couple weeks.  We finally managed to sell all of our belongings and even survived a free Facebook free-for-all.   As tough as it was paring ourselves down to only the RV and what is in it, the hardest part was leaving friends and family behind.

family dinner traveling sitcom

You know, saying goodbye is hard.  Even though we know that the world is much smaller these days with the internet and cell phones.  Everyone is just a touch of a keypad away.  But I will miss hugging my family.

Now that this dream of ours is a reality; seems that reality has a few drawbacks.

the hil logo

We got together at the Hil Restaurant in Serenbe in Palmetto, GA, for a family get together the day before we left town.  This unique restaurant offers a diverse menu, guided heavily by produce from Serenbe Organic Farm located just around the corner.  It is owned and operated by Chef Hilary White and her husband Jim White.

We highly recommend it if you are in the south Atlanta area and looking for a memorable meal.  Our girls group did a Sunday brunch there about a month ago and I have to tell you, the Chef’s Cinnamon Roll is amazing!

wedding dress photo

While we were there, my daughter showed off a photo of her wedding gown!  She will be getting married in early November.  We just love our future son-in-law and look forward to being back in Georgia in time for Dave to walk her down the aisle!

wedding dress photo

See, don’t they look great together?

A group of family, led by my sister, are also planning on coming to Maine to visit us in June.  They already have flights arranged and a rental house booked.  And apparently they also booked a lobster boat tour because you certainly can’t visit Maine without a lobster boat tour!

Just saying.

It will be fun showing them around our new temporary “home”!

atlanta georgia highway travel2

In the meantime, we leave Atlanta behind and begin heading north.  I can tell you one thing, we will not miss the traffic!  We had delayed a day leaving due to weather.  This time of year in the south is generally stormy.  Something about April rains bringing May flowers.  Right?

Yeah.  We are already tired of the rain.  And a bit tired of cleaning red Georgia mud out of my white RV.

dogs traveling rv camping

The dogs settled into traveling pretty quickly.  They love their new envelope dog bed that I made them, and sleep at my feet the entire trip.

Our trip to Statesville, NC took about six hours.  Unfortunately, that is about an hour longer than it should have.  An accident just north of Charlotte had us in stop and go traffic for the last 30 miles of our trip.

And we thought we had left traffic behind in Atlanta!

We were very glad to roll into the Statesville, NC KOA just before dark.

statesville north carolina koa camping

And here the journey begins!

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Branson, Missouri – fun and campy even without Barry Williams!

Branson, Missouri is many things.  Colorful, exciting, touristy and campy all at the same time.  It reminded me somewhat of Gatlinburg, TN.  Without Dolly Parton, of course.  Lots of things to see and do, all on a single strip of road.

branson missouri travel camping

Unusual buildings were everywhere.  I’m sure the idea is to get you to stop.  And this little technique worked well with me.  The hubby got plenty of eye rolling in every time I asked him to pull over so that I could take a photo.

I don’t like fried chicken much and I’d already eaten breakfast, but I have to tell you, this chicken at The Great American Steak and Chicken House was beckoning me in!  Dave firmly put me back in the car and moved me along.

branson missouri travel camping

Oh my!  Mount Rushmore!  Only not!

branson missouri travel camping

I did convince him to stop at the cool looking Jackie B. Goode’s Uptown Cafe for a hotdog.  Seems that most every restaurant offers live entertainment!

branson missouri travel camping

Downtown offered all the shopping that you could possibly ever want.  All with the tourist in mind.  Lots of Branson t-shirts, Branson jewelry, Branson cup holders, Branson magnets, and any other Branson item you might have to have.

I’m not a shopper, much to Dave’s relief.  But I do love to look around, do a bit of window shopping and a whole bunch of people watching.

Oh, and they had an ice cream shop that we may or may not have checked out.   Let’s just say that the Black Walnut ice cream could very possibly have been delicious.

So what did I miss?  Well how about the Barry Williams 70’s Music Celebration show?

Turns out he only performs at 2:00 PM every other day.  How could a top of the line performer end up with a 2:00 PM time slot, I’ll never know.  I’ll just have to be satisfied with this little clip of a video that someone took with their cell phone.

They take videos like my mom does and cut off his head most of the time.  But you get the gist.

A stellar performance, I’m sure.

You know, come to think of it, Dave didn’t seem too upset that we missed the show.  LOL!

branson missouri travel camping

So in an effort to make up for the fact that we missed Barry Williams, we went to the Hollywood Wax Museum and I introduced Dave to Taylor Swift.

I think he might have been invading her space a bit, though.

branson missouri travel camping

On the other hand, Hugh Hefner was quite cool with me hanging out with him.  He said that anytime I’m in the vicinity of the Playboy mansion, that I’m welcome to stop by!

Dave said he may or may not add that to his itinerary…

branson missouri travel camping

Donald Trump was a git grouchy and wanted to fire Dave right away.  I convinced him that Dave might be a decent employee.  We were still discussing his options…

branson missouri travel camping

…when Dave found a job with the Men in Black.

branson missouri travel campingSomewhere in the front lobby near the red carpet, I tripped over Angie’s dress and ended up sprawled dramatically all over the floor.  Brad stepped over me quite gallantly and posed for two more photos with barely a pause.

That is the difference between professionals and amateurs, folks!

Not into wax museums?

How about some beautiful scenery?

branson missouri travel camping

Table Rock Lake spans more than 43 thousand acres and 800 miles of shoreline.  This beautiful lake was created in August of 1958, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Table Rock Dam across the White River. This area is perfect for campers, pleasure boaters, fishermen and those that love water sports.

We ran across several beautiful campgrounds along the lake.  They offered full hook ups in many of them and wonderful lake views!

Fishing in this area of the country is very popular.  The lakes are full of bass, crappie, white bass, catfish and bluegill.  Beneath the dam, the Missouri Department of Conservation operates a fish hatchery, which is used to stock trout in Lake Taneycomo.

scenic drive branson, missouri

Since we were out looking for views, we took the 22 mile scenic loop.

branson missouri travel camping

The loop takes you by the Table Rock Dam and offers lots of beautiful scenic overlooks.

We were very impressed with the city of Branson.  Lots of friendly folks, lots of things to see and do, and if you are a shopper, well you are in heaven!

Now if we can just get Barry Williams to do an encore, all will be well with the world…

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