Updated: Mar 18
Safely visit, whether it is virtual or in person, connect. Use your words! Written or spoken, make the connection. This world we live in has changed so drastically, yet we can still make that lasting impression and cherished memory.
When we set out on this journey we began to contact loved ones and plan for visits. I know, controversial. However, we don't regret our travels.
When we left the Outer Banks (featured in the previous blog post) we soon found a spot slightly different than our usual secluded areas. We parked (blacked out our windows) between a large hotel chain and some business offices. This spot was not scenic but was sufficient for the evening. We ate dinner played backgammon and got a good night's sleep.
The next morning we stuck pretty close to the coast and made our way to Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is old and beautiful, with lots to offer the tourist. We passed a National Forest area and kept that in mind for camping later. But first, food.
We are far from traditional and we usually choose odd places to visit and weird sights to see. However, we love food and have found some great places such as Fuel in Charleston. After a brief drive around we decided to head back to the Francis Marion National Forest and see what we could find in the way of privacy. It was time for a Roadshower! We also wanted to just chill in the woods for a bit so this spot turned out to be a great find. Here are the GPS coordinates: 33.056686, -79.696588
Ok, now, during our last post I mentioned that Darin discovered sand spurs and was shocked at how bad they can be. Well, after we left this spot and headed toward Altanta for some much anticipated family love, we made another pit-stop. This time in the drive-way of a Seventh Day Adventist's church, gated and closed. Darin let Shadow out of the van to stretch and do his business when simultaneously he felt this strange sensation and saw a guy ride up on a golf cart. This sensation was his feet being devoured by Fire Ants! The guy in the golf cart just sat and stared as Darin hopped around and slapped at his ankles. Me? Well, I thought I would pee my pants laughing at the entire scene play out. Finally when Darin was partially composed, he told the guy he was getting eaten by ants. The guy responded, "It happens", and drove off. Once Darin and Shadow were back in the van he slapped at his ankles a few more times and asked, " What the f@#k was that!!??!! So, I decided to clue him in on the three biggest yet smallest tormentors of the south. Sand spurs, fire ants and chiggers. Of course he had no clue what a chigger was and was absolutely freaked out when I told him. This brought more laughter than you can imagine for the rest of our journey....
We made it to the Atlanta area where, after many years of being asked to do so, I was finally able to introduce Darin to my beloved Aunt. She was so thrilled to see us and we were just as excited to visit her. My brother was able to FaceTime briefly as well.
My Aunt was the one person that I still corresponded with via the mail, paper and pen. She and I had so much fun together when we were both much younger and her spicy spirit will live on through others. She passed away a little over three months later. So, when I say you should write the letter and make the call, I mean it! One never knows.
Our next stop, her youngest son, my cousin. Her two sons are awesome! They're older than me so I must talk of them with respect, right? NOT! Well, I will anyway because there is nothing bad to say. We went to dinner and discussed Chiggers, Stickers and Fire Ants while enjoying fabulous BBQ at the Cue in Peachtree Corners. Put a little South in your Mouth!
Now to head east again and get back toward the coast for a few days at my childhood home with my Mama & Daddy. My family is divided between the East coast and the West coast so the next few days will be all about the East coast folks.
Darin and my mom decided to get in some target practice... yes, she is a gunslinger... When I was a teenager, she hung a target silhouette on the wall that had been shot up to show any potential boyfriends that might show up. Daddy had his own special brand of deterrent for my dates... When my prom date arrived he started talking to him about the truck he was driving. Daddy literally got in and drove off, my date and I just stood there in shock. Aahhh, memories.
Mid to late November is typically cane grinding season. Unfortunately, as with many things, that didn't happen this year but my mom took us on a little tour to see the old machinery used for the occasion.
After spending a few days visiting it was time to continue our journey south. One of our must-see destinations on our list was Key West, Florida. My mom of course was not ready for our departure and let us know it!
My sister, my nephews (Christopher & Aaron) and their families live in Florida. Florida has so much to offer when it comes to road tripping. Beaches, National Parks, Beaches, Amusement Parks, Beaches, Space Shuttles, Beaches and lots of history. Oh, and Beaches.
The Jacksonville area is our first destination and where we get to see my nephews. But first I thought it would be fun so show Darin some Spanish Moss. You know, the rumored 'home' of Chiggers. Here and Here are two opposing views of the rumors.
Look closely, Darin stayed in the van and admired the beautiful moss from the safety of the van.
My sister is a great mom, she raised two fabulous sons. They have each provided her with the Grammy status... no not that Grammy. Anyway, look at these sweet boys! They have such a great relationship and they love playing 'Monster' apparently
A couple of months after our visit Aaron and his amazing wife gave their son William two younger brothers, TWINS!!
Florida Scenic Highway, the A1A Coastal Byway is a great way to take in the beautiful eastern Florida coast. A1A is the Atlantic 1 Alternate and makes for slow going immersive touring. As we cruised along we realized we were approaching Merritt Island (NASA). When you enter from the north end there is an entrance to the National Seashore. You should definitely check that out, just know that nudity is not illegal. Good news, if you watch for signs, they will post where the clothing optional areas are so you can find them or avoid them. Your choice.
As luck would have it, SpaceX had a planned launch while we were there so we found a spot to camp for the night, the Lee Wenner park in Cocoa. After we walked around and checked out the area, another vanner, Ariel, stopped by to visit. He gave us some pointers about vanning in Florida and went on his way. Once we got settled and were about to call it a night, suddenly there was all kinds of light, loud music and voices all around us. Hmmm, after doing a little investigation we found out we had parked right in the middle of a planned protest. What are the odds? Luckily, they dispersed in due time without incident and we slept just fine.
The anticipation of watching a SpaceX launch kept us focussed the next day while we did the tourist thing. We made our way to Port Canaveral, bought some souvenirs and had a delicious meal. We asked several folks where to park in the lot for the best view and I think we found a good one. While out and about we came across a lady that seemed very excited about being there for the launch. As it turns out, she had just completed chemo in Seattle and heard there would be a launch so she and her daughter hopped on a plane and flew out for the event. While I was shopping, she asked my husband if he wanted to share a chartered boat to get up close and personal with the launch. He declined and wished her well as she continued her journey of life.
We climbed up on top of our van and got ready for the take-off...
This video does not do it justice. We could feel the launch more than we could see it. Incredible experience.
We stayed the night right there where we parked to watch the launch. No problem.
Smile at someone today. A kind gesture and a grateful attitude will get you through until tomorrow. Then you just do it again. We are only guaranteed this moment in time. Thank you for spending this moment with us. Oh, before I forget... if you travel in a Sprinter, Transit or Promaster, get one of these! Bugs won't thank you but you might thank us and we will surely thank you! Mahalo