Saturday, September 28, 2013

Home Sweet Home

After being gone nearly all of September it is good to be home.  This was an unusual trip - we did so many things scattered through the month that it did not seem like a long trip at all. We went to a family reunion, visited museums,  completed travel on the Historic National Road, were home one day, visited Jeff, Robin, and Daniel, attended Ben's college reunion, and finally spent nearly a week on Hunting Island doing nothing and eating great seafood.

Today when we unload the Sprinter, wash clothes, and give everything a good cleaning it is clear we have been gone a while!  Our tent fly has red dirt from the southwest - that tells us we have not cleaned it in 2 years!  Time for major cleaning and it is a beautiful day for it!

Our trip home was uneventful with nice weather, the last of our South Carolina boiled shrimp for lunch, a great thriller to listen to along the way, an easy grilled steak and baked potato when we got home!  We were able to fit 6 pounds of large and jumbo shrimp into the freezer in the Sprinter for feasting over the next months!

As always it is great to see our southern Appalachian mountains when we return.  Not too sure when we will be traveling next or where we will roam.  Maybe a long weekend somewhere with pretty fall leaves?  Thanks for traveling with us!
Last View of empty Beach at 8:30 AM

View back towards campsites (top of bathhouse barely in view)

Moderate traffic as we approach Asheville NC - Great to see our Appalachians!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hunting Island Day 5

We woke up to rain.  We had been waiting for it to rain for 2 days and today it finally did rain and rain it did!  All day long!  Not pouring down hard rain but rain off and on and only about 30 minutes of sunshine. So today was another day when I could succeed at my goal to do nothing!

We ate, slept, read, walked, and completed a few computer tasks.  Ben is completing an article on the Path Grant that he is writing for Wikipedia and Jane actually edited and cleaned up all the photos from the trip and cleaned out email.... about 5 PM we set off for our dining adventure of this trip.  We were going to SweetGrass - the #1 restaurant on St. Helena Island - one with hundreds of excellent reviews on Trip Advisor. It is in the marina on Dataw Island. You must pass through the gates for the Dataw Island Development to reach the restaurant.

Sitting right on the water in a southern plantation style building it met all our expectations!

Sweetgrass Restaurant
The rest of this blog is for any foodies out there - Margaret and Steve these are for you! Hope you enjoy half as much as we did!

For starters we had Low Country Clams - in a butterbean, proscuitto, and wine sauce - Very good.
and Fried Green Tomatoes Napoleon - they had a cheese crab stuffing between the layers and a red pepper jelly sauce - A perfect blend of flavors!!  Super excellent!
Low Country Clams

Fried Green Tomatoes Napoleon

Then for the main course - Ben had fried seafood - scallops, shrimp, and oysters accompanied by broccoli  with blue cheese topping.  It was done to perfection.  And Jane had Seafood Schnitzel (it was mahi-mahi tonight) with a lemon, caper, wine sauce.  It was really really good.

Seafood  Schnitzel

Seafood with Broccoli

To top it off there was a great sunset as we headed back to camp.  This place will get a super excellent review in our book!   I feel like I am writing a food channel blog tonight.

Tomorrow the sun will be out and we head home! Our goals for this trip were to do nothing and eat seafood..... we succeeded!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hunting Island Day 4

We thought we would have rain in the night but did not...we were having a few sprinkles this morning so thought today might be the rain day.  We finished up breakfast and headed off to tour Parris Island and Port Royal.  We had never been to either of these places on our other visits to Hunting Island - the trip is only about 15 miles.

We visited the Parris Island Museum which illustrates the history of the Marine Corp. The place was quite crowded with a tour bus of seniors and 2 classes of 3rd or 4th graders.  There was a video, exhibits on local history, as well as Marine Corp history, examples of all the uniforms, and history of the development of Parris Island itself.  We then found Traditions - what we believed to be the Officer's Club - and I think it was.  At  Traditions we had the buffet lunch - a great salad bar and an oriental buffet.  Not what we had expected but it was very good - the other option was a Subway! After lunch we drove around to see some of the recruits marching and took a few photos.

The major function of Parris Island is to provide basic training for Marine recruits.  The training program lasts 12 weeks and usually each week on Wednesday they have Family Orientation Day, on Thursday they have Family Activity Day and on Fridays Graduation.  This week however was a down week - evidently they have a week off from the normal routine periodically and that is this week!  So there were groups training but none of the family type activities.

Causeway to Parris Island

Main Street on Depot (instead of base)

Early Marine Dress Uniform

Officer's Club

Marines in line for the head

Model of the Statue in DC

Our next stop was in Port Royal.  There were lots of historic homes and buildings. It was a very pretty small town and most of the building were well preserved.  We then stopped at the wetlands preserve right in the middle of the town and took the .6 mile walk around the wetlands.  When we had driven by last evening one of the trees was totally white with some sort of bird - of course that was about 7 PM when they would have been settling in for the night. Today there were not as many birds but we saw a lot and other animals as well.  - White Ibis, Wood Stork,Wood Duck,  Egrets,Turtles, and an alligator.  I need to add two other birds but need Ben to help me... guess I will add them tomorrow night!  The thing that made it difficult to see the turtles and alligator was the duck weed growing over the entire pond.  It was an enjoyable walk.

Ibis Mom feeding Young

The birds are all around the alligator!

A few of the many turtles

Ben on the Boardwalk
 We made a couple stops in Beaufort and then headed back to camp. We stopped along the way at Gay's Fish to buy some more shrimp.  Jane cooked dinner tonight and if you overlook the paper plates it was every bit as good as a restaurant!  I will confess it is Zatarian's Shrimp Creole Mix, a can of tomato sauce, and the fresh meets the one pot rule I have for camping..

Shrimp Creole at Jane's

Hunting Island Day 3

Another great night's sleep. The air conditioner installed in the middle of last winter is doing everything we thought it would.  MUCH better sleeping this year than last.  Jane tried biscuits and gravy - something we seldom have at home - and it turned out great...gravy mix and canned biscuits would not taste so great at home!

We stayed around camp and the beach today - expecting rain at any moment but it never came.  It was a very windy and grey day but not a drop of rain.

Ben and the Windy Surf

The Sea

The Dunes
As you can see from the above photos it was just us and the birds.  There were a few people but not many considering how full the campground is. 

Ben played around with his HD TV antenna that he constructed following instructions on the internet and he got 13 channels!  Pretty good - we will be able to watch the NCIS first shows of the season tonight!

We washed the sand off and got ready to meet Jane's cousin, Sara,  and her husband who live on Fripp Island at 5 PM.  They met us at the Camp Store and we drove into Beaufort for dinner at Plum's.  It was a small but nice restaurant on the waterfront.  We enjoyed visiting and had a very nice dinner as well.  Jane had crab cakes and Ben had crab stuffed flounder.  The crab cakes were good but did not quite match the ones in Maryland.

Crab Cakes at Plum's

We toured around a bit and were back at camp by about 7:30 in time to watch NCIS.  It is getting dark about 7:30. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hunting Island Day 2

What a wonderful night's sleep!  I guess after a couple weeks of mostly on the road our bodies think this is "home"!  We are doing little to nothing as this is our vacation from everything....breakfast, read a bit, walk around the campground loop, read a bit more, eat lunch, laze on the beach, read a little more, drive 3 miles to buy shrimp, walk around the campground loop, cook dinner, walk to the camp store/ wifi hot spot to write this blog.  Ben is doing one thing I have not done - ride the bike to the garbage cans and to explore a little!  But then he did not walk around the campground loop.  I do believe this day will qualify for little or nothing! But it was great!

The weather is perfect - blue skies with a few clouds and temperature in the mid 70's to low 80's. There is just enough breeze to keep the bugs away.

We fixed garlic shrimp pasta with a parmesan cheese sauce along with broiled grouper for dinner.  Ben experimented with lemon, butter and herbs from the great set of travel herbs Robin gave us for Christmas last year.  The pasta was a tried and true recipe.  Both turned out great but having the seafood direct from the boat has a lot to do with it.

I took a few photos today but not many...remember not doing much!  Maybe tomorrow I will try to get a bit more done to remember the trip.

Looking down the road on our campground loop

Storms and ocean are claiming more and more of the trees   

Sea Oats, Sunshine and Sea

Fencing to protect the dunes.  Turtle nest in second zig-zag 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hunting Island

Up early - enjoyed a good breakfast, some great coffee and play time.  This morning Daniel wanted me to build with his blocks.  The main joy is encouraging me to build something and then he gets to knock it down! Thanks for the great visit - Jeff, Robin and Daniel

We left Durham under clearing skies after a night of almost constant rain.  About 30 miles down the road towards Hunting Island the cloud cover returned and stayed with us most of the day.

We had started a Brad Thor terror novel in Kentucky - listened all the way to Kingsport, then on the trip to Durham and it finished about 15 miles from Hunting Island !  A 10 CD book lasts a LONG time!

The drive was uneventful and I did not take one photo.  Ben drove about 90 % of the trip but decided to take a little nap after lunch so I drove probably 100 miles.  Don't mind driving the Sprinter at all just don't like to back it!

We drove into Hunting Island Campground at 3PM just as Ben had predicted.  Our campsite was much closer to the beach and the internet cafe area than last year.  We set up camp and Jane walked to the beach - 250 steps. After cooking a quick dinner Jane walked over to the internet cafe area near the camp store. As you can see it seems to work well...time will tell if it posts photos.  I only  have two photos - been lazy today. Ben is off on his bike exploring and says he wants to see the ocean.  The tide was out when I was there and it was calm and nearly deserted.  Hope we have a little sun but I don't mind the overcast skies. We plan a lazy week here.

Beach in the distance - really low tide

Ben relaxing at Campsite 90, Hunting Island State Park

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Durham and Raleigh NC

Friday and Saturday 

We left Kingsport headed into NC for a short stop in Durham and Raleigh on our way to Hunting Island SC for a short beach vacation.

Friday was a dreary drive with little rain but very grey skies. We listened to a tape and made short stops for gasoline and lunch.  We arrived in Durham at Jeff's house about 3 and enjoyed an afternoon visiting and playing with grandson Daniel.

We visited Mama Dip's in Chapel Hill for a southern cooked dinner - fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, country fried steak, orka, apples, green beans, biscuits, cornbread and slaw.  Some of us enjoyed all of the above!

Saturday we had a lazy morning and then headed off for a reunion of the guys that Ben attended college with at North Carolina State about 50 years ago.  It is always fun to catch up with all of these families that we see only about once a year. After a good lunch and lots of reminiscing we headed back to Durham for some Star War's Lego video games!

For dinner we did a little more exploring and eating!  We traveled to a Korean Restraunt Soo's near the NC State Campus and enjoyed several Korean dishes.  One of the favorites being the Korean Fried Chicken.

Jeff, Daniel, and Ben at NC State Bell Tower

Great Chicken at Soo's
It is now raining and we expect it to continue through most of our drive day tomorrow.  Thanks Robin, Jeff and Daniel for a great visit!  On to the beach !!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


We arrived home at 12:30 yesterday after a cloudy-rainy drive from Lexington KY.  Nothing much to report about the trip except we were back in the land of the mountains and kudsu! 
Nice to see the mountains again

Kudsu takes over a hillside and all the trees  

After a good nights sleep in our own bed today includes laundry, some grocery shopping and rechecking the packing for a few days at the beach.  Now where is that vinyl tablecloth for the picnic table  that I could not find??? I remember buying a new one after our trip earlier in the summer but can't remember what color it is or where I put it !!!  On the road again tomorrow morning for a college reunion in NC, a short visit with Jeff and family - then on to Hunting Island SC.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Planes, Planes and more Planes

After a good nights sleep and breakfast we headed into Dayton to find the Air Force Museum and the Wright Brothers Memorial Park. We found both, walked many miles, and then headed south. We are now near Lexington KY.

Air Force Museum Building

The Air Force Museum is attached to Wright Patterson Air Force Base. It is 4 huge hangers similar to the Mini-Dome in Johnson City only much larger. It is divided into Early Years and WW I; then WW II; then Korean War; Vietnam Era; the Cold War; Space Age; and the final part covering Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Since I can't post any photos tonight I will just say we saw LOTS of planes. The most interesting were the WW II planes; the rescue choppers from Korea and Vietnam and the stealth planes. Ben found two planes of particular interest to him.

Mock-ups of the Atomic Bombs dropped on Japan to end WW II were interesting - I had imagined them much larger.

Fat Man

Little Boy

 When we lived in the Philippines during the Vietnam Era Ben was transferred from the Manila Office to the  Subic Bay Office; but there was no base housing available for us for several months. Ben was a civilian engineer working for the US Navy Officer in Charge of Construction.  For three months he flew back and forth from Manila to Subic Bay in a Cessna SkyMaster - there was one on exhibit!  Ben said it was really a great commute.  I only remember it was terrible not knowing if he was there or on his way - The communication was poor and often someone would come drive to our house to say Ben won't be home tonight - bad weather!

Skymaster Commuter Plane

He also learned to fly while we were at Subic Bay - he learned in a P-34 at the Cubi Point Air Station. He said - ah there is a P-34!
P 34 - One Ben learned in was Navy!

One entire hanger is dedicated to Presidential aircraft and a tour of Air Force One is normally available. However due to sequestration this gallery is closed at this time....appropriate I guess.that this is what they close. We enjoyed the exhibits but did not feel they were as good as the ones at the NavAir Museum in Pensacola FL.

We ate lunch in the Cafe - finished the Galleries and headed about 3 miles to the National Park Service Wright Memorial.  This was the very beginnings of flight. The film was one of the best we have seen at National Parks. It traced the story of Wilbur and Orville Wright's development of the first practical flying machine. Impressive their dedication and persistence in trials, successes, and failures. Having no scientific training at all it is amazing what they accomplished. They invented many other things as well and in another part of Dayton is their bicycle shop.  Having been to the Kitty Hawk park a number of times, I really did not recall the relationship to Dayton.  Their first flight was at Kitty Hawk but the several years of experiments and trials and 39 minutes flight and manuvering that proved their successful practical flight was here at the Huffman Field several years later.

Model of Wright Brothers Plane

About 3 PM we headed down I 75 heading home - we stopped just north of Lexington KY at about 5:30 which will mean we are home middle of the day tomorrow.  Dinner was at Cracker Barrel.  Horror of horrors - they have taken molasses off their menu!  What is a southern biscuit without molasses asks Ben?

Illinois to Ohio

Today seemed long probably because we crossed a time zone back into Eastern Standard!  We had a pretty good day considering the very slow start.  We finished up all the morning tasks easily and were ready to get on the road – oh no! dead battery!  That just does not happen with the Sprinter.  Ben then remembered he had turned on the van to wash the front window and had not turned it off.  We found a fellow camper and by using two sets of jumper cables at the same time we were soon on our way.  Lesson learned.


We headed south towards Vandalia Illinois, the terminus of the Historic National Road. We had begun the journey on this first national road in the US back in June and we are now tracing the second half of the road from West to East. We will only hit the high spots as we follow US 40 and I 70  off and on as they both generally follow the National Road of the early 1800’s.  There are fewer sites to visit on this western portion of the road and as we have learned – few if any visitor centers and museums are open on Monday.

Madonna of the Trail - Vandalia Illinois

The trip south on several IL state roads were through farmland and a few small towns. We reached Vandalia and found the First Illinois Capital Building where Abraham Lincoln first served as an Illinois Representative. On one corner of the Capital Building was the terminus marker and one of 12 Madonna of the Trail statues that were placed along the National Road by the DAR.

We then headed on across Illinois crossing into Indiana near Terra Haute. Here is where we lost the hour of time…as we stopped at a welcome rest stop for lunch.

Trying to photograph barns from road is a challenge

Of interest might be – the radio/CD player in the Sprinter – when the power was off it lost its’ memory and it has some sort of anti theft system that has to be rebooted or something to work. The radio system has it’s own instruction book of about 100 pages!  We had to have a special code to get it to reboot – having never had this problem before – we neither one knew the code. Finally after  searching through all the papers we found a code and were able to get the radio back on to listen to our CD book!

It was then about 140 miles across Indiana with the huge metropolis of Indianapolis in the middle to slow us down. There is a huge construction project going on right in the midst of the city so we had to take a detour through some city traffic. It was less of a hassle than we had thought it would be and we were soon headed east towards Ohio.

The National Road – also known as the Cumberland Road- was first envisioned by George Washington and funded by Thomas Jefferson in 1806. Slowly it built its’ way west and the Indiana portion was first funded in 1829 for $51,000 with additional appropriations in the next years. In Indiana they began building both east and west from Indianapolis. Two major bridges were finally completed in 1834 and the National Road in Indiana officially opened. In 1850 the paper in Richmond IN – the eastern border – reported that in a 6 day period 700 emigrant parties cross the bridge across the Whitewater River. A party would have included all wagons, animals etc belonging to one family.

There were lodgings for travelers and their animals about every 5 miles.  Travel was popular along the road until Civil War time when the railroads became the more popular method of travel.  A few of these inns remain today but far fewer than we saw in the MD and PA area.  One I had hoped to visit today is now only open on Fridays from 1 – 3 – Strange.

We crossed into Ohio and found our way to a KOA Kampground on the western edge of Dayton.  Tomorrow we will visit some museums and depending on the time we finish stop on the eastern edge at another campground or head south.  This is what is known as a “destination KOA” – it has a pool, miniature golf course, a lake with paddle boats, a pizza parlor, a playground, and probably much more.  It is also one of the most expensive campgrounds we have visited - $42 a night and that is only for bathroom, electric, cable and internet (very weak internet). Ben said he heard someone on the phone quoted over $120 for what they requested - let's hope it was for more than one night!  It is a very nice place but we surely won’t take part in all the activities! The campground was nearly deserted.
We were alone on our loop of campground!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lincoln Day

We slept very well – the temperature was in the 70’s so we did not even need the air conditioning. We woke up at 8:00 and had a good breakfast before heading into Springfield to learn as much about Lincoln History as our time and stamina would allow!

Our first stop was at the Lincoln Home Historic Site. We picked up tickets for the house tour – 30 minutes away.  This was great as we had read sometimes you had a one or two hour wait.  We spent the 30 minutes wandering around the restored 4 block area. The National Park Service has purchased all the homes in this 4 block area. If the home was from the Lincoln era they have restored it and if it was more modern then it had been removed. There were restored homes on at least 75% of the lots. All had been restored on the outside and the inside was restored as money was available and used for park service offices. Some of the buildings had displays and were open for viewing. Our guide told us IL Senator Durbin had an office in one of the homes but as far as she knew had never been here.


View towards the Lincoln home.


The Lincoln home

Each home had a sign noting who had lived there and their relationship to the Lincoln family. Lincoln lived in this home for over 20 years while he was an attorney in Springfield and during his time in the IL state legislature.

The tour of the home was guided taking about an hour. We were able to visit all the rooms in the home but as in many famous homes had to stay on the specified carpet! Mrs.Lincoln was from a wealthy Kentucky home and had been used to fine furnishings and slaves. After marrying Lincoln she learned to cook and keep house – and did both very well.



Formal Parlor with black horsehair furniture


Mrs Lincoln’s sewing table and basket


Mrs Lincoln’s most prized possession – her stove!

When the Lincoln’s purchased the home it was a 1 1/2 story 3 room cottage. As their family grew and Abe was more prosperous they added on twice. They had 4 boys – 3 of whom died during childhood.

The Park Service had an excellent film giving a brief history of Abe Lincoln’s life before election to president and his presidency.

We left the National Park and proceeded to the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum about a mile away. Along the way we passed the First Presbyterian Church where the Lincoln family had a pew.  Since it was Sunday morning we could not visit to see the inside of the church.


First Presbyterian Church – Springfield IL

The Presidential Library and Museum was a large complex mixed in among many hospital buildings and parking garages. Since it was Sunday we were lucky to find a parking spot on a side street.

The museum was composed of several galleries and two video presentations. We viewed the Civil War Medicine gallery and then stopped in the Subway for lunch. This was my only negative regarding the museum as I am not a Subway fan and it was your only choice. You could leave and come back in but it was a 2-3 block hike to another food choice.

After lunch we toured the Pre-presidential Gallery. No photographs were allowed in the galleries but you could take photographs outside in the rotunda.


Abe in his humble beginnings

The displays about his early ventures into politics were interesting. I did not remember there were 4 candidates when he ran for president! The country was more divided then than today; but Lincoln was determined to fight for the preservation of our union.

Next we toured the Presidential Years Gallery which was also quite impressive. One display with Lincoln at his desk pondering with numerous voices yelling their opinion at him illustrated how difficult it must have been for him to make decisions.


The Lincoln’s outside the White House

One of the displays that impressed me was the White House kitchen. It resembled in many ways the kitchen in the Lincoln house in Springfield.  A similar but larger cook stove and the food stored in much the same way. Have to remember it was 1860!

Another Gallery included an original Gettysburg Address and other Lincoln artifacts.

The two audio visual presentations were outstanding. One was done in holograms and impressed upon us the value of artifacts and how historical documents can help us learn about the past.  The second told the story of the civil war from the focus of the importance of the preservation of our Union.  I believe these were both done within the last 5 years and were excellent,

It was 2:30 and we had just enough time to tour the Dana Thomas house. This was an excellent Frank Lloyd Wright house and Jane had been trying to visit one for several years, Well today as in the past it just was not to be….neither of us were up for another hour of walking through exhibits without a bit of a rest and there was no time for that….so next time!

We headed back to camp and enjoyed reading and a bit of catching up on the internet,  Jane cooked one of her stock electric skillet camping meals – chicken, dressing, gravy. With a can of cranberry sauce and a green veggie it makes an easy and filling meal.  And best of all only one pot to clean!

We are awaiting the rain that has been to the west of us all day…we want it to rain tonight so we can have clear skies for tomorrow a travel day.

Our impression of Springfield is a very nice clean city. Lots to do and you could certainly find enough to fill 2-3 days.  Add it to the list of placed to return someday. We succeeded in learning more about one of our outstanding presidents.