Thursday, August 12, 2010

What I did on my summer vacation and before that

Pictures: (top to bottom) a mountain meadow view along Virginia's Blue Ridge Parkway, at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC scene along the parkway, Danny happy to be on Amelia Island for Memorial Day, on Destin Beach, at Knight's Templar Spring Convent in San Destin

Wow, I can't believe that we haven't posted anything here since February...its true that the year (2010) has flashed by at warp four, but really we've been remiss. Did you hear that Dan Dan? We're supposed to be talking about our RV ing travel experiences here, right? My excuse is that I've been writing a novel about the adventures (and travels) of a dragon. What's yours? LOL

We did take some interesting jaunts in the Parakeet (the Winnebago View) since I last posted: First, we went to the Panhandle of Florida in early March for my investiture as a Dame in The Sovereign Military Order of The Knights of Jerusalem (Knights Templar). Danny is already a Knight of the Priory of Holy Rood, which encompasses Georgia and Florida and part of Alabama. (This blog is not about the Knights but should you be wondering: despite the name it is a charitable organization not military these days) The ceremony was in a lovely little church near the sugar sand beaches in Destin and it was a bit of a tricky maneuver to get formally dolled up in expansive Templar capes in a 24 foot motor home but we managed pretty well.

We stayed for several days at the beautiful Topsail State Park Campground which has wonderful paved spaces with all the amenities one expects in a top campground, great bicycling and walking paths to the ocean and close proximity to restaurants and shopping. Thumbs up for staying there. The beach was stunningly beautiful and not crowded. Of course this was before the BP Oil spill. My heart and prayers go out to the people of the Panhandle today for their economic recovery and the ecological devastation that was suffered.

We took the long way home through the "Big Bend" area that follows the coast, which is listed by Readers Digest Books as one of the most scenic drives in America. It was indeed lovely, even if it took almost nine hours to reach Orlando again. We particularly enjoyed stopping at Carabelle Beach for lunch and a dog walk. Anytime a beautiful beach welcomes dogs, it gets my thumbs up!

Our next long week end trip was to St Mary's, Georgia and Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida over Memorial Day week end. We had a sort of mini family reunion with Danny's uncle and aunt, mother, sister, and cousins and this time we stayed at the Jacksonville North KOA. We enjoyed wandering the streets of the quaint little seaside town of St Mary's: the shops, historic buildings and museums, and sampled some pretty good seafood too. I can really recommend going to Ft Clinch State Park for picnics and swimming and a quick tour of the Fort itself. The beach was pristine, the water clear, and it was not crowded. Dogs were not welcome on the beach in Ft Clinch Park but they are permitted on the beach at Fernandina and nearby St Augustine.

For us, it was an easy three and a half hour trip from Orlando. We planned to stop in St Augustine but found parking in the historic area very difficult so opted to spend a couple hours on Flagler Beach instead. 63 pound hound, Ginny, encountered a grumpy ghost crab. Ginny backed away from the crab. It was an historic moment.

We opted out of going to Cumberland Island since the only way was by a smallish ferry that operated twice daily. No cars, trucks or RVs or dogs are permitted on the island. Relatives who went weren't too impressed. They reported that bicycling was hard going on the sandy paths, the flies were biting, the wild horses wouldn't come close and the resort ran everyone off that wasn't a paying guest there. We felt we made the right choice in spending the day in St Marys instead.

Our summer vacation trip in mid July was to Asheville NC, then The Blue Ridge Parkway, into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and SW West Virginia. This trip will be detailed in near future blogs with lots more pictures. For now, I will post several of my favorite pictures so you can get an idea of how beautiful the area was.

I will mention one issue we experienced on a the technical side on this trip. It was extremely hot in Virginia (100 degrees) and we had to leave the dogs in the RV for several hours in a fairly sunny spot while we toured Monticello. We were parked facing downhill and other RVs were parked quite close to us.

Of course, we put on the generator to run the A/C while we were gone! We always crack a window or two for emergency ventilation, run plug in and battery fans in several places on the RV and we have a ceiling fan in the bath area that automatically comes on if the a/c goes off in an emergency and the temp reaches a certain level. I thought that was probably enough back up to keep the dogs safe.

When we returned to the RV we heard an alarm going inside the unit. Dashing to open the door we hardly dared imagine what we might find wrong inside. My heart wanted to stop beating in dread but the dogs were at the door with wagging tails. Danny said the Carbon Monoxide alarm was on. I opened all the windows immediately to further ventilate but even though the alarm would not shut off neither the dogs or we seemed affected.

Once we left the lot, the alarm stopped. Here's what I think happened. The weird angle of sloped mountain parking and the proximity of the RV next to us meant that either their or our propane fumes were being sucked in our vented window. Fortunately, there was enough fresh air being circulated inside and out again by the small fans, the large bathroom ceiling fan and the other cracked window over the cab on the other side to save the dogs.

We are addressing this scary problem for future trips in every way we can since the dogs are our number one priority. I welcome suggestions from other RV enthusiasts and travel veterans however. Since many of the folks we see in the campgrounds and parks travel with dogs this has got to be solvable. Since one of the reasons we got the Winnebago was so the dogs could always be with us, we do not want to leave them at home.

If you want to hear a bout how I got lost for forty minutes in a SC campground in the dark, you will have to wait for the next post. But, I will be back very soon. I promise.


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