Charleston, SC

Charleston – Love It!

Hello, sorry it has been awhile since I’ve posted. Unfortunately, my head cold turned into a chest cold, that turned into an upper respiratory infection, that turned into an “extreme immune response” that turned into a 5 am ER visit. Thankfully, I received great medical care and am finally starting to feel better. It’s always something…

Anyway, now to one of my favorite parts of the trip so far – – Charleston, SC! We love this place!!! It is so pretty, filled with history, culture, ahhhhmazing restaurants, and so much to do and see. We could not fit it all into the 6 days we were there, but we’ll be back. Because, (bomb drop) we are seriously considering moving there – yes, moving as in buying a home. It is affordable, the people are so friendly, the homes and the whole area is beautiful and we can just picture our life here. I could go into a huge list of considerations, but won’t bore you with all that. It will be really hard living so far from our fiends and family, and maybe this isn’t a forever move, we’ll have to see how it all works out.

Poogan’s Porch

This restaurant is so special, it deserves a mention here. Housed in an 18th century mansion, we found this place on Yelp and with 5 star reviews, had to give it a try. What Yelp didn’t mention is that they are reservation only because they book up – quick. We arrived upon opening at 5 pm and when I told the maitre’d that we were only in town a few days and that I write a travel blog, he found us a spot at the bar – we’ll take it! The bar staff was chatty and informative and provided a lot of information on the history of the house. For one thing, it is haunted. I asked if he believed in that sort of thing and he said that the kitchen staff has told him stories that can’t be explained. So, maybe? They have retained a lot of the original fixtures and some furnishings. It is beautiful and has an oh-so-southern vibe to it. Then there is the food – OMG!! So good. Joel and I both ordered the fried chicken dinners because that is what they are known for out here and it did not disappoint. Their mac and cheese is award wining and you will taste why. I told the bartender they should rename it “slap yo mama mac and cheese” because my mom’s homemade mac and cheese couldn’t hold a candle to it. Joel went traditional with the fried collard greens and I am like UH UH. No way. Anyone who knows me knows I am not touching a fried collard green. First, it’s a vegetable, a green one and looks gross. I got the mashed potatoes and Joel was so jealous because guess what, fried collard greens aren’t so special after all…..hmmmm.

Patriot’s Point

The USS YORKTOWN battleship pictured above is docked at Patriot’s Point as part of a large maritime museum featuring a fleet of historic ships, Cold War Memorial and Vietnam Experience exhibit. We only visited the exterior of this museum because we took the water taxi tour around Charleston Bay, had lunch at a great waterfront restaurant and didn’t have much time left before we had to get back to the Airstream to feed the dogs. However, I did want to give this a mention because the YORKTOWN fought in both WWII, Korea and Vietnam. My Grandfather was a Naval Officer and served in both WWII and the Korean War and my Dad was also in the Navy serving in Vietnam, so this held some extra interest for me personally. This ship has been through a lot! Impressively, in WWII while fighting the Japanese, the ship survived 7 kamikaze plane strikes and multiple bombs, one of which passed through the first deck and exploded near the ship’s hull. It punched two large holes through her side, but she remained operational and continued to provide air cover until Japan’s surrender on September 2, 1945.

Downtown/French Quarter

As I mentioned, this place is not only beautiful, very green with flowers and trees everywhere, but if feels like a vibrant happening place. There were a lot of tourists! We visited the City Market which is an indoor/outdoor market with all sorts of wares from women hand weaving baskets, jewelry, food specialties, to southern biscuits baking in the oven – the smell is so unfair! It’s a great place to pick up one-of-a-kind treasures.

Harken French Café and Bakery

Beautiful penny tile mosaic in the entrance

The Harken Café is located in the French Quarter and we stopped in for coffee/tea bakery treats for breakfast one morning. The place is so cute and I felt transported to France by the historic interior and French décor. It was packed and we were lucky to get a seat, the place is pretty small. Joel had the 7 layer bar (he said it was better than mine, but hey, these guys are professionals!) and I had the blueberry pie cookie. It was unlike any cookie I have had before because there really was a blueberry pie filling taste tucked inside a molasses cookie. You will note both our plates are empty before I could get a pic – we’ll be back!!!

James Island State Park

We stayed at a State Park on James Island. It is a HUGE park with miles of paved trails that wind in and out of forests, play ground areas, a story land, a water park, game fields and the RV park. It was fun to ride our scooters and easy to get lost with all the crisscrossing paths. At one point we found ourselves at a long dock with a water inlet from Charleston Bay. While we were hanging out on the dock a small pod of dolphins ventured their way down the inlet to feed. They were so graceful as they glided through the water leaping up for air so we could enjoy the show.

It is July and it is warm, dare I say hot. So yes, I took advantage of an afternoon at the on-site water park. I love floating down the lazy river and didn’t go down the waterslides, but enjoyed watching the kids have a good time on them. People are so friendly, hardly a person will walk by without saying hi and if they are next to you, will strike up a conversation.

Lazy river, I miss you already…

Savannah, GA

Okay, so this happened….

I am just going to get this one out of the way…ugghh, our awning collapsed during a flash rainstorm the day after tropical storm Elsa came through. We thought we made it through the storm with just some branches blown onto the roof, the next day it was sunny and clear so we put the awning out. That evening, a flash rainstorm came through dumping a ton of water in a very short period of time. The awning is a total loss and Airstream informed us that the replacement cost is around $7k. Sucks, but we’ve added it to the (ever growing) repair list so let’s move on before I start getting too depressed.

We are either in a tropical rainforest in Africa or Skidaway Island in Georgia, not sure which.

Welcome to Skidaway Island near Savannah, GA. It’s gorgeous, lush and super quiet, all you hear are the sounds of cicadas singing in the trees at night. The thunderstorms have kept us inside most of the day watching movies. I tortured Joel with a chick flick day and we watched Gone with the Wind – the whole 4 hours 🍿 pass the popcorn! “As God is my witness, I will never starve again!” Then we had chili dogs, which were soooo good because I made the chili from scratch, used premium hotdogs and these wonderfully soft brioche buns. Not sure if beans are a good idea in the trailer, but we’re living dangerously.

Even the dogs are tired of being inside and they are layzeee!

Downtown Savannah

Lobby in the JW Marriott Savannah

OMG!!! The JW Marriott located along the riverfront in downtown Savannah is so amazing, you must see it to believe it. Above, you can see the 135 foot silver dinosaur skeleton that hangs from the glass ceiling. Originally built in 1912 as a power plant, the building maintains its historic architecture with original red brick walls and huge roof scaffolding, but modernized with glass and steel and the largest collection of giant geodes I have seen outside of a museum. The walls are covered with them, they are artfully displayed throughout the lobby and they even sell some very unique pieces in the hotel gift shop. The stunning lobby was a godsend as a relief from the heat and humidity outside and there were comfy leather chairs to sit back and rest those tired tourist tootsies. Love this place and wish we could move our Airstream into the lobby (it would fit, seriously) and stay.

Oooooh Ghosts 👻

There’s nothing like an 18th century cemetery smack in the middle of town to remind you of your mortality. Most of the gravestones were so old you could not read them, but the City provides plaques throughout the cemetery to provide context. The biggest problem was being eaten alive by bugs while we were perusing the grounds, Joel actually had one bite on his leg that was bleeding. Give them some grass – and the bugs go crazy. I am still trying to find something that actually works on the itching. Yes, I’ve tried bug spray (the smell is so awful), lotions, potions, hydrocortisone creams, etc. What works best so far is a wet cloth soaked in lavender Epsom salt applied over the bites, and it smell really nice too. Maybe the graveyard ghosts were having the bugs attack us…hmmmm.

Fort Wilderness Campground

Howdy folks, Mickey here stopping by Sharon’s blog to say welcome back! It’s been 5 years since we last saw Sharon and Joel at Fort Wilderness and boy oh boy have we missed them (and their Visa card). Welcome back, and oh, don’t forget to activate those “magic” bands that automatically link Mickey to your bank account – yipee!

Thanks Mickey. Yep, we’re baaaack! This time we decided to see just how fast Mickey can drain our wallet so we are staying 12 days. We really do enjoy Fort Wilderness, it is an ideal campground. it’s very quiet with a nice woodsy feel and lots of wildlife (more on that below), super clean, no long term campers (they offer no discounts based on how long you stay), it is spotlessly clean – – even the restrooms, and customer service is outstanding. We have tickets to two parks this time around – Disney World and Disney Hollywood Studios (where they keep Star Wars in Florida).

Peaceful lagoon at the campground
Our campsite

Wildlife

There is so much wildlife to be found here – to name a few that we personally encountered: an armadillo, deer, wild turkeys and their chicks walking through our campsite, squirrels, a variety of birds including a vulture that would stroll down the middle of the road, and the most beautiful red cardinals.

The Parks

We are super excited to be visiting Star Wars land at Disney Hollywood Studios. Luckily, we were able to win a lottery of sorts to go on the best ride EVER – – Rise of the Resistance. It was so fun and unlike any other ride we have been on. The above pic are storm troopers that took our group of resistance fighters captive, they have live action actors that interact with you and you are thrown in prison, escape, board a star fighter and crash land. It’s hard to describe all the action and you are sometimes standing, sometimes being herded through an escape hole lasered into the wall, all sorts of craziness. When we got off this ride a real storm had just rolled in and it was pouring rain, thunder and lightening which somehow made our crash landing a little more realistic.

We were also able to get into the Star Wars bar, which was something else. They have all sorts of the most unusual drink and food concoctions. I think I may have actually eaten SPAM, not sure the lighting was low and most of the “food” items were unidentifiable.

This was our appetizer plate, most of it was unidentifiable since we were visiting another galaxy.
Joel kept with the theme in his outer space Mickey shirt

FOOD!

All I can say is this is not the place to start a new diet….

This was not my burger, but uhummm, someone I know….

Good night, sweet Disney dreams!!

Navarre, FL

Florida Gulf Coast – a day in Destin

We headed 20 minutes down the road from our campsite in Navarre to Destin, FL. It is a happening beach town, packed with tourists and boats. There was so much going on – – you could parasail, bungy jump, rent a boat, go sportfishing, shopping, carnival rides, or throw an ax! It was fun and exciting to be around so much activity, everyone having a good time, it felt like normal life again. We walked up and down the boardwalk taking in all the activity and trying to figure out which restaurant to dine in, they all looked so good! We ended up at Harry T’s Lighthouse and it was definitely the best choice. Where else can you find fresh crab cakes served atop a fried green tomato (which were actually yellow as you can see in the pic), topped with a slightly spicy remoulade sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Joel said his grilled chicken stack sandwich was the best he has ever eaten. We shared an appetizer of hush puppies (a fried sweet onion dough ball), a Southern staple that Joel has never tried before – he liked them!

We were pretty excited about staying at an ocean front RV park, the first of this trip. We have never stayed on the Gulf Coast or the Florida panhandle before. The water was crystal clear blue, 84 degrees and the sand was a fine sugar white. We were lucky to get two sunny days in a row, the first we spent in Destin, the second at the beach in Navarre. There was a consistent ocean breeze that helped keep us a bit cooler than the 90 degree day would have otherwise been. However, once you leave the beach, all bets are off – ha ha!

As far as the RV Park goes, it was a bit of a disappointment. At first blush it looked wonderful with a thick forest of various trees on white gravel roads and we were given a nice wide spot near the community campfire. The downside was (1) we reserved a “premium water view” space, however, we had no water view at all, (2) the bathrooms were not cleaned regularly, so if you are full of sand after a day at the beach, it was not the place to go to shower off, and (3) there was a horrible sewer smell that intermittently overwhelmed our site. Yeah, not what we were hoping for, but all the more disappointing because the place had so much potential given the beachfront location and lush tropical surroundings.

This is our “premium water view”

A severe tropical storm heading up from Mexico straight for the Gulf Coast chased us out of Navarre a day early. The forecast called for strong winds, heavy rain, flooding and storm surge. With signs of previous storm damage all around – there wasn’t a single dock that was intact up or down the beach – so we decided to head out and went to our next location early. We’ll probably see some rain from this storm, but will avoid the worst of the high winds, flooding and storm surge. Take care everyone! ❤

Biloxi, MS

We stayed at a Horse Farm!!

The beach shot above was taken a short 10 minute drive from a 32 acre horse farm, Green Woods Stables in Biloxi, MS. Gulfport and Biloxi are next to each other and there is a long stretch of beach that connects the two. Sugar white sand and oh-so-warm gulf coast water. It was heaven and I loved every minute of it. Our 3 day, 2 night stay was too short!!

It was such a pleasure meeting Mary, the lovely lady who owns the horse farm, complete with a mini-campground (9 full hook up sites) that back up to acres of emerald green pasture. The farm is 32 acres, half of which she keeps fully manicured and in addition to the small campground, there is a farm house Airbnb. Mary runs it all and I spent a morning with her in the barn as she cared for her 4 gentle, sweet horses. I have been around horses in the past, but none as sweet and people-friendly as Mary’s babies. I fell in love with the farm, the horses, the relaxing and peaceful campground. Other than the dead end road that leads you to the farm, there are no other roads around (and therefore no road noise), the only sound was cicadas singing us to sleep at night. Ahhh, can I stay forever????

New Orleans, LA

French Quarter

We’re here! Yes, one of our favorite spots is New Orleans, so much to see and do. First, we went into the French Quarter and did the touristy-thing mostly walking around and taking in the sights. We stopped into Café Fleur De Lis for breakfast and I tried the seafood eggs benedict. They used a crab/shrimp cake instead of an english muffin and topped it with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce and it was delicious. Joel had banana praline pancakes with caramelized bacon and a shot of Kentucky bourbon – boy that will wake you up! New Orleans has the best food😘.

There was a street band playing in Jackson Square that had such a fun vibe, you couldn’t help but shake that booty! Video below…

It was super hot and muggy (sorry to weather-complain) we expected this going to the South in the summer, but you don’t realize how HOT and how HUMID it is until you step outside of air-conditioning into 95 degrees with 85% humidity. Ugghhh….

Mid-City Park and Sculpture Garden

The beauty of the ancient live oaks and large greenspace is stunning to find just north of downtown New Orleans. This park is HUGE (1,300 acres, 50% bigger than Central Park in NY) and there is so much to do and see. The park features museums, a sculpture garden, Story Book Land which has life size renditions of all our favorite classic fairy tales, and an amazing collection of fauna and flora. It also serves as home to the world’s largest collection of mature live oak trees, some of which are more than 600 years old. Originally in the 1800s, the area was used as a location for dueling, men would defend their pride and honor by dueling each other under the live oak trees. There is also carousel (known as the “flying horses” to locals), originally it was mule-driven when it opened in 1897, and was updated to a mechanical carousel in 1906. The animals are still hand painted and so beautiful. So yes, there is some history here. Also, there’s a Cafe du Monde location for beignets, what could be more perfect?

san antonio, texas

Hello! We pulled into San Antonio, Texas for the next 4-5 days, this will be our main stop-over in Texas. We visited the Alamo and River Walk when we did a similar trip 5 years ago, so those sites were not high on our list this time around. However, we did end up at River Walk for an afternoon, but what a difference post-COVID vs pre-COVID. A lot of stores didn’t make it and the restaurants were short staffed, so long wait times for seating and food once you ordered. We heard the problem was getting employees to come back to work. I guess as long as the extra money provided by the Feds is around, this will be a challenge. We actually came across this issue at restaurants across the country, help wanted signs are everywhere.

Dining on the River Walk in San Antonio

Of course when in Texas barbeque is mandatory and we found a great place called 225 (degrees) Urban Smoke. We tried the brisket and smoked sausage with a yellow bbq sauce (kind of a mustard based flavor) and traditional bbq sauce. We paired this with scratch-baked macaroni and cheese, shoestring fries, and pickles, yum!!! The only thing missing was fried green tomatoes, we will have to find these at our next stop in New Orleans, LA.

San Antonio sunset and new closet shelves!

San Antonio weather kept us guessing! The forecast would call for rain and we had clear skies. The forecast said no rain and we got torrential, drenching rain and this was especially frustrating on the day we planned to go to Sea World. We were supposed to have clear weather and at first it was just raining just a bit. No problem, we brought our umbrella and light raincoats (because its also warm, in the 80s). Then it started coming down a bit harder and harder until it was torrential and they actually closed the park. They issued passes to come back another day, so not a total loss. On a brighter note, we finally built some shelves in our closets – yeah 😊 more storage space!

A few days later, we tried going to Sea World again, this time, only a very light rain first thing in the morning so no problem. But as the day progressed, it got so hot – – 90s – – plus the very high humidity, we only lasted a couple of hours before calling it quits. I fear we have more of this to come as we travel through the southern states, thank God 🙏 for air conditioning!!!

An odd duck? Not sure what type of bird this is, but he was very friendly and came right up to us to say hello.

Sonora, TX

At last we are out of New Mexico and {hopefully) safe from any more hail! Note how I am strategically hiding the hail dents in the above photo (ha ha). Okay, so we booked a one night stay at Sonora Caverns in Sonora, TX. I really shouldn’t say “booked” since when I called to reserve a spot, they said their campgrounds are never full, so no need for a reservation. This is a shame because this place is so beautiful and quiet. It has been owned for many generations by the same family and includes pull thru spots with hooks-ups (except sewer) and as a special bonus – – peacocks!!! Yes, these lovely and oh-not-so-quiet fowl freely roam the property, but they mostly stay up by the peahen’s pen. She is in a pen because some rascally racoons ate all the rest of the peahens and she is the only one left. So she is now in witness protection and the peacocks can only visit her through the fence. I really did enjoy the peacocks and you will see why when you see the pics posted below.

Moving on…I also included a sneak peek at the Sonora Caverns which were very interesting. In the pic above, you see a smooth-walled cave, but the cave is completely different as you traverse its corridors. It was a totally different experience than Carlsbad Caverns and I cannot recommend a trip to visit highly enough if you are ever in the area. Everyone here is so nice, and I have never been called “mam” so much in my life, which was really sweet coming from a teenage boy selling me homemade fudge. The fudge was yummy, but you have to be quick when it comes to Joel and fudge (he got most of it)!

Carlsbad Caverns, NM

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns was formed over 4 million years ago and is one of the best preserved and most accessible cave complexes in the world. It is hard to capture in a photograph the enormity (imagine a 60 story building going straight underground) of the cavern and also the low lighting levels make it difficult to photograph. This was our second visit and I feel like we experienced it in a new way, it wasn’t like “oh I’ve seen this before.” Awe inspiring in the complexity of the various formations and the sheer size of it all, this should be on your bucket list! It’s actually on the “world’s bucket list” as it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (joining the ranks of the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, and the Palace of Versailles to name a few). Carlsbad Caverns is part of the national park system, so they accept the national park pass, otherwise, admission is only $15pp. You can enter the caverns one of two ways, either the natural entrance, a long, winding, steep trail or by elevator. We came in through the natural entrance (pictured above), but exited through the elevator. Our visit was delayed a few days due to my mourning the hail damage to our Airstream. However, I decided that I need to accept what has happened, figure out how to get it fixed and move on.

Carlsbad Living Desert and Zoo

We had time to fill on a rainy Sunday in Carlsbad, NM, so we decided to visit the Carlsbad Living Desert and Zoo. It’s more desert than zoo (having come from a city that has a world renowned zoo, maybe I am a bit of a zoo snob). There was a huge variety of cactus along with birds, a painting bear (we missed seeing this, maybe he was sleeping), cougar and a few other small animals. Of the selection, the great horned owl and roadrunner were my favorite. The prickly pear cactus were in bloom with beautiful yellow flowers bursting from their paddle shaped stems. The barrel cactus were also blooming in response to the recent rains. The park is located high on a hillside and the cool, rainy, breezy day was the perfect time to visit.

Carlsbad, NM Wacky Weather

Ugghhh…this crazy New Mexico weather! One minute it’s 90 degrees and you are thinking about taking a dip in the pool to cool off, the next some giant thunder/lightening/hail storm comes rolling in! Strong winds that whip up at a moments notice help to keep you guessing what’s next. On Saturday I was making sausage/egg biscuit sandwiches for dinner (as mentioned above, I was mourning!) and the sunny sky started turning black and then we were hearing these loud booms. The booms were coming over and over and we went out to investigate. A campground ranger was coming by and explained that the large pecan farm next to the campground had weather canons that fired bursts of air into the atmosphere in an attempt to break up the storm clouds. This went on for hours, but must have worked, because the worst of it passed by us and we later heard tornados were spotted just 50 miles from us, south of Roswell. The other thing about these storms is that the rain is SALTY, like super salty! Our truck is covered in white salt. Joel and I spent hours washing it off on Sunday and guess what? Yup, covered in salt again. We are leaving tomorrow morning. 🙂

Hail Damage to our Airstream

So, as you can see, it was not a good day in Carlsbad, NM. We arrived yesterday afternoon to the KOA which is about 15 miles outside of town. The skies were blue and the temp was in the 90s. We follow the weather forecasts for all the places we visit and it said there was a 50% chance of thunder storms in the late afternoon. The weather remained clear all day until about 7 pm, that was when a dark bank of clouds appeared on the distant horizon. 

About that time we took the 15 mile drive into town for dinner.  We had a really nice dinner at Brix restaurant on their patio with live music, all was well. About 8:30 pm we stopped at Lowe’s to pick up some shelving materials to install in the closets. While we were in Lowe’s we could hear thunder, then rain, and then the pounding of what sounded like gravel being poured on the roof. I rushed to the front door to see that it was pouring rain with huge hail, lightning and thunder. I found Joel and we left everything in our cart and made a run for it to the truck. Within those few short minutes we were soaked to the bone wet. I have never seen rain/hail come down so fast and furious. Lightening was continuously flashing across the sky and the air had a burned sulfur smell. We started back to the trailer since we left the dogs there while we went to eat. All I could think of was how scared they must be. The rain and hail was so loud and heavy we could barely see the road or even hear each other talk.

It seemed like it took forever to drive those 15 miles, we had to go slow since the street was flooded and there was almost no visibility. Once we made it back, the worst of it had passed. It was pitch black out, we retrieved a flashlight to assess if there was any damage to the Airstream. Unfortunately, we could see the front and back of the roof was heavily pitted with dents. The dogs were fine and happy to see us.  I don’t even know what to think is next for us. 

Turn up the volume to hear the hail pounding our truck

Earlier that evening when all was fine and we were celebrating a birthday-eve dinner….

Sharon’s Birthday Eve Dinner at Brix

Airstream

Airstream travelogue as the Ginger-Owsen dynamic duo roam with their dogs Belle and Lulu

Stella Goes to the PARKS

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Simply & Softly

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Airstream Time

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SilverLining Streaming

Airstream travelogue as the Ginger-Owsen dynamic duo roam with their dogs Belle and Lulu