First Time at South Carolina Aquarium

I love aquariums, and since Kyrston has a year long membership to the South Carolina Aquarium  I was excited about the chance to take Oliver there.  It’s not that I don’t remember the challenges of taking a toddler places, but that’s what Grandmas are good for and I was excited to see how it went.  

It was a drizzly day when we pulled up but at least it wasn’t raining

The aquarium is on the small side, but plenty to explore for a little guy, so off we went.  I definitely got my steps in keeping up with him, but it was a ton of fun, so let me just share the pictures. 

He really liked the huge aquarium

And the little ones too

I liked this bald eagle…we could get really close

 

There were a couple of outside areas

 

 

The inside was on the small side, but lots of areas for Oliver to run along.  He’s tough to catch, but between the two of us we managed (barely) to keep up.

 

Woah…big teeth!

 

Oliver loved the jelly fish

 

And the giant turtle statues

 

But wasn’t crazy about the area where we could touch a fish.  He liked the water just fine, the manta ray not so much. 

Washing our hands

My biggest disappointment was how small the little kids area was.  They could double this easily for the smaller kids.  There was a nice section along one wall though with bubble lights that worked on a motion sensor. 

Actually my favorite part was the giftshop.  I have been waiting to buy him his first present and ultimately we settled on a drink cup and a book with an orca finger puppet in it.  Decisions…decisions. 

We had a great time!!

 


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We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

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December 2020 Budget

December wasn’t so bad, especially considering Christmas.  We spent $6,731 this month with extremely high gift, campground fee, and grocery categories.  One thing I wanted to mention is Lee and I were watching a morning TV show and we saw this idea to make one day a week a completely non-spending day.  We are going to give that a try on Mondays and see if it makes any difference at all in our spending habits.  I also wanted to mention that it is time for my annual budget review.  Hopefully I will have that out soon.  More details for the month of December are below.



Campground Fees – This was one of our highest months ever because of the place we are staying.  It is super close to our daughter and we really like it, but you have to stay at $400 a week (yes per week) until they have a monthly slot open up.  Thankfully it was just one week for us but then we paid the $960 monthly rate in advance, hence the high price in December. 

Clothing – I splurged and got some work shirts this month, taking advantage of the numerous sales.  Thrift stores are great for jeans and more casual wear but I am finding it necessary to buy new clothing for work.

Dining Out – We went over budget by $315.  Part of that was eating out when we were at my sisters, and part was with Kyrston.

Gifts – We spent around $1100.  This included the calendars we gave to friends and family and money and presents for our core family.

Groceries – I am convinced that this category is going up because of the Keurig coffee maker.  Lee said he would start tracking coffee separately so maybe he can give some insight here. Nothing else really stands out.  Again will be working on our annual review so look for that soon.  

Additional monthly data from Lee…

For December we used 557 GB of data on our AT&T unlimited plan, across all of our devices. (Total for the year is 40.154 terrabytes)

We took 553 pictures, bringing our total for the year to 17,240.

This month we only stayed in three locations. The least expensive was the NC state fairgrounds at $30 per night. Our favorite was Ebenezer Park, and it’s only $34 per night for nice big sites with full hookups. The most expensive was Oak Plantation in Charleston, SC at $ 57.98 per night. But those are also huge sites, and it’s a beautiful RV park with lots of massive live oak trees and moss hanging from the limbs. Part of the reason for the price is that they do not reserve monthly sites until you arrive, and so we had to pay the regular weekly rate for the first week. The price goes down considerably when you are monthly. We also had one night where we had already paid for Ebenezer Park but decided to leave a day early and so we ended up also paying for the first night at Oak Plantation. And there was one night where we had a reservation at two different locations in Charleston and had to pay for one night at the location we chose not to go to because I didn’t want to risk arriving in Charleston and having nowhere to go. It was worth the extra expense for peace of mind. The total cost for our “rent” was $1205, which averaged out to $38.87, a little less than last month.

We put a total of only 379 miles on the trailer, pulling it for only two days the entire month. Our shortest travel day was 185 miles, and our longest was 193 miles. Our total travel miles year to date is 6,019.

We put a total (travel and non-travel) of 1,254 miles on the truck, 875 of those miles were without the trailer.

Year to date we’ve put 14,163 miles on the truck , 6,019 of which was pulling the trailer.

We burned a total of 101 gallons of diesel, and averaged 12.3 mpg for all of our travel, with a year to date total of 1,407 gallons at 11.9 avg mpg.

We only used the TSD Logistics card once this month. 

Here’s the breakdown of our visit to truck stops using the TSD card. The “street” price is the price on the pump, and the actual price is what we ended up paying, including the fees.

 

DATE Location Gallons Actual PG Street Actual  Savings  % Saved
12/5/2020   34.64 2.17 95.58 75.13 20.45 21.40

We LOVE using the card. If you haven’t already read about the TSD Logistics card, you can read our post about it here.

Here’s the December travel map:


And the map for the full year of travel. One giant circle!

Oliver says Happy New Year!!!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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Playing with Ollie

Over the next week we got to spend lots of time with Oliver.  I had a three day work event that kept me pretty busy, but Lee and Kyrston went one of those days to an indoor play area called InSlide Out.  Kyrston did a ton of research about COVID protections before agreeing to go and they arrived close to when it opened to be extra safe.  Turned out that was a non issue because they had lots of employees sanitizing throughout the visit and at $8 per kid (adults are free) it was a great bargain.  Lee loved playing with his grandson especially in the little kid area.

 

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Huge “sand” pit

 

 

Oliver’s favorite was putting the balls in these tubes…he did it for a long time

 

Grocery store play area

 

And veterinarian

 

Loved this sign

 

And this one even better

I can’t wait until it’s my turn to go.  Thankfully I went on vacation and was able to meet Kyrston at Chili’s for lunch.  It was my first Grandma lunch and he did a terrific job.

 

First tortilla chip

 

Trying some chicken enchilada soup…not a fan

 

Playing/eating crayons 🙂

 

But he did like his bite of molten lava cake. Kyrston only allowed one bite because nap time was coming up…she’s no fun 🙂

 

 

This picture says it all

 

Oliver even came over to the RV after we were done but this was a little challenging.  We are definitely not baby proofed, but he had a good time anyways.  Probably at this age being at his house is better though.

 

He loved the fan

 

And the remote

 

But being with Grandpa was the best

Finally we went to the restaurant Kyrston works at…Acme Low Country Kitchen on Isle of Palms.  We got to meet her boss and her co workers and I thanked her boss for the strong COVID precautions they have put in place.

Loved the sign

 

Kyrston and her Papa

 

Fried green tomatoes

 

Lee’s wedge salad

 

And my yummy platter with a crab cake, scallops, and local shrimp!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Finally Seeing Oliver and the Beach!

After so many months of waiting and cancelled plans to see him we were finally going to see Oliver.  We ended up leaving Rock Hill on Saturday so we were going to have an extra day with him.  I had waited and waited and finally the day had come but I was worried he wouldn’t recognize me.  I was also worried about how Jack would react but that was for another day because we decided to leave him at home for the first visit. Since he was born I have been singing this little silly song every time we Facetime and my plan was to sing it when he saw me in person in the hopes he would recognize me.  I was however fully prepared for him to be shy though, because he hadn’t seen me in person since he was a tiny baby.  Turns out he was initially shy when we walked in the door but when I started singing the song he completely lit up.  Within a few minutes he was in my arms and all was right with the world.  That may sound a bit melodramatic, but all you grandmas out there know what I mean.

 

 

My daughter was thrilled to see us too, especially because we came bearing gifts.  Over the past several months I have scoured thrift stores for good deals on clothes and my sister sent two bags as well.  We filled her living room with clothes sized all the way up until age 5 so over the next few years she will only need to supplement.  That felt great!

 

The next day we brought Jack over and thankfully that all went well.  Jack isn’t fond of little kids, but he is also super jealous so he was more than happy to share my lap with Oliver.  Since it was a beautiful sunny day we decided to head to the beach so we piled three adults and two dogs into Kyrston’s car.

 

 

Unfortunately right before we hit the beach we ran into a fog bank.  It was beautifully sunny until 5 miles away, but then it was like being in a cloud.  We were committed though and Oliver didn’t seem to mind at all especially because Kyrston thought ahead and brought warm clothes for him.  I will say that the adults were a bit outnumbered with dogs and baby running around, but it was a fantastic time.  Lee had been wanting to do this for months and I was so glad we all got to be there together. 

 

Grandpa getting him ready

 

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Finn hasn’t been to the beach since Oliver was born and had a great time

 

He will get in the water but Jack is a chicken

 

Jack did photo bomb us though

 

 

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Love this picture

 

 

 

Lee’s pic

 

Amazing day with Grandpa


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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Seeing My Sister

A little over a year ago we lost my nephew to suicide.  Although I have stayed in close contact with my sister we have not been able to see each other in person, and I was so glad that we would finally be able to see her in person.  Unfortunately because of COVID and the proximity to Christmas, we had to be careful about social distancing and not being able to hug her or my sic year old nephew was frankly brutal.  At least we had plenty of time to spend together, because my work event was cancelled due to heightened COVID restrictions after Thanksgiving.

One really great piece of the event was we all got to meet 3 month old Lulu.  My sister adopted a bulldog and I have to say she was incredibly cute.  Spunky and solid, watching her and Jack play was amazing, although she did inadvertently knock Jack over a few times.  Even at three months she is SOLID and our little fluffernutter went flying a few times, which was hysterical.   I didn’t get many good pictures because they were constantly in motion.  Jack is a lot faster than she is and spent a ton of time making her chase him. 

My brother-in-law Josh, his epic beard, and Lee and LuLu

 

I got them to sort of sit still for this picture

 

I brought presents including this apron for Josh.  The quote is from Jamestown and he loved it!

 

We also got to spend time with my other nephews Alec and Abram.  Alec’s team just won all state in soccer and I can’t believe how grown he is.  Abram is also incredibly tall for being 6 years old and he did a nice job of social distancing although it’s tough with a 6 year old.  To be honest I would have thrown caution to the winds except we were due to see our grandson the week after.  If we got sick we would miss Christmas with him and that was a risk I was not willing to take.  The very last day, on an impulse, Lee threw a blanket over Abram and we were both able to give him super big blanket hugs before we left!!  Highly recommend this if you are in a similar situation. 

Alec…he looks quite a bit like my brother looked at that age.

 

Abram has adored Lee since he was born. They are good buddies.

 

Wendy and Josh

 

 

Although the house was decorated and all was in order, there was a definite sadness.  I was hoping since it had been a full year some of that would have lifted, but this is going to take some time.  I mention it because Wendy said everyone was expecting her to get back to normal, but that was never going to happen.  I will admit I was a person who hoped for that as well, but simply put this is a pain she will always carry with her.  The best news is she and her husband are doing a good job taking care of each other.  COVID has been a blessing to them in some respects, because Josh has been able to work from home and they are healing in their little bubble with less outside distractions.  All I can say is it incredibly difficult to watch people you love be in that much pain.  We did everything we could to show them our love and Lee did a wonderful job of lightening the mood a little and even made them laugh a few times.  

And if nothing else I was able to give Wendy my present.  For the last six months I have been working on a cross stitch picture for her.  I poured a lot of my love and grief into it and it said what I wanted to say to her. God bless her family. 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

COVID Thanksgiving and Seeing Kat and Bert

   As with many other people my Thanksgiving plans got totally screwed up this year.  Initially my brother’s family, sister’s family, and I were going to all meet at my Dad’s for the first time in years.  Since Dad had COVID recently we initially thought it was something we could do relatively safely but a week before the holiday things got crazy in Columbus.  After agonizing over my decision, I ultimately decided not to go and we were scrambling to figure out last minute what we could do.  

We’ve spent holidays alone before (seems to be part of this lifestyle), but we wanted to do something, anything special so I wouldn’t be so sad.  I started looking at really nice restaurants in the area to see if we could eat a fancy dinner out, but everything (and I mean everything) was already booked.  I didn’t really want to cook for just the two of us and was considering getting take out from Cracker Barrel when we learned our campground was doing a Thanksgiving dinner.  

At this point we were in the Richmond area and were staying at Americamps.  We picked this campground mainly for its location, and to be honest it wasn’t one of my favorites.  It was mostly seasonal, and although our sites were deep, side to side people were pretty close. Thanksgiving dinner was pretty cool though and I called and signed us up for it.  Initially I was told we could either have it delivered or pick it up at 3:00 pm so I went for delivery.  To supplement I even made Lee some deviled eggs which are his absolute favorite. 

 

An additional bonus was we had strong cell signal and I could watch the annual dog show.  This is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving and I am not in a position every year to had a strong enough TV signal to get the programming.  It was different of course because of COVID but I was so happy they did it and even picked the winner out of the final group of dogs.  I am getting pretty good at that!

As the day wore on, I started to get hungrier, because the grill they were cooking on was right behind our RV. 

 

 

 

Side note, one of our neighbors had this cool cook stove. Never seen this in a campground before

At 3:30pm I finally went up to the office and was told I  couldn’t pick up but had to wait for delivery.  There were tons of people inside and they were working on packing everything up so I went back and waited.  At 4:00 pm I sent Lee up, but they said our was out for delivery.  At 4:50pm I drove around to find the delivery cart and caught her coming back.  Our order was not on the cart, but she had another one she couldn’t find the owners for so took pity and gave us that. Don’t get me wrong getting a free meal is pretty cool but this level of disorganization drives me nuts. 

There was a large variety of food but it was pretty mediocre. Still it was free and I didn’t have to cook.

All in the day was a bust and frankly I was tired of Richmond.  Some towns have a vibe that doesn’t work for individuals and those of us who full time know what I mean.  Not every place is for everybody and we learn that in our travels.  Our next stop was Raleigh though, another town we hadn’t spent any time in and we were going to get to see our friends  Kat and Bert. 

Lee had booked us into the North Carolina State Fair campground, which apparently we had stayed in for one night several years ago.  I didn’t like it the first time (according to the blog I honestly don’t remember it), and unfortunately I didn’t like it the second time much better.  There are lots of working folks staying there, which is fine, but for me at least it is the kind of place you keep your doors locked during the day.  Again, if you full time you know what I mean.  The one positive was the grounds were huge and Lee was able to take Jack on some really long walks.  

The sites are very tight and I thought $30 a night was pretty steep.

 

Although we were on the back row so had a nice area across form us.

Paying was also a hassle.  We followed the directions on the website, which said wait until someone came around to take payment, but the sheriff who came to do that scolded me because we hadn’t paid online.  He was honest and said there had been some COVID cases in the campground, which I appreciated but was not a great first impression.  In general, I would have to say I didn’t feel super safe in Raleigh.  Lots of maskless people and ultimately we chose to do very little there except see our friends Kat and Bert. 

Visiting people with COVID is kind of weird.  We are super worried that we might inadvertently bring it to someone and of course we want to be protected as well.  The social dance of what people are willing to do is super awkward, but Kat cut through all that by sending me a text laying out exactly what they were willing to do.  Frankly I appreciated the honesty and it made the whole visit so much easier.  The gist was we would stay outside, and if we entered the house to go to the bathroom we would wear masks.  They also put Clorox wipes in the bathroom which I really appreciated. 

Despite the challenges our two visits were amazing.  Their porch is super cool and they have a nice heater that helped keep us warm.  It was also Jack friendly with a fenced in yard so we were able to not only bring Jack but let him run around a bit. And did I mention the food!!  The meals were amazing and their hospitality was over the top.  Loved, loved seeing them. 

Wonderful porch area to hang out

 

From Left: Kat and Bert with a head a brocolli they plucked from their garden that we ate

 

Oh did I mention the steaks they hand cut. The one on the left was Lee’s!!!

 

Plus charcuterie. Cori they gave you a run for your money.

 

Dinner one night

 

Lunch a second trip was homemade Bolognese

 

And Kat made me my own loaf of sour dough bread

It was so wonderful seeing them and catching up and we were really grateful for the hospitality.  Since Raleigh is relatively close to where my daughter and sister live we hope to explore more in the COVID free future, but the visit was very special even without that.  

Next up I finally get to see my sister as we make our way south for Christmas!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

First Time at Richmond Art Museum

Richmond, Virginia is a town with a very complicated history and since neither of us had spent any time there we weren’t sure what we would find.  Turns out it is one of those smaller cities that looks much like many others we have seen in our travel.  The big difference is Richmond, VA was the home of the confederacy and there are LOTS of Civil war confederate memorials everywhere.  By choice we decided to skip those and instead we went to visit the Art Museum.

Richmond has it’s own museum district and many of those museums are free.  The big draw for me though was this particular museum has a Faberge collection and I absolutely love Faberge anything.  Turned out to be a great choice because for a smallish town they had an excellent and varied collection.  The museum was 100% masks and since we went early the crowds were very small.  Plus did I mention free 🙂 Here is a pictorial tour of what we saw and although I didn’t include everything it will give you a feel for what they have.  I really enjoyed it.    

Outside of the museum

 

Right across the street from a well to do neighborhood

 

Interior…It is a bit of a maze and easy to miss a section if you don’t use the map

 

 

 

   

The Asian sections were broken up by country which I appreciated. Many of the sections were from private collections that had been donated over the years.  Others were loans from different museums, which I also thought was pretty cool. 

 

 

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Loved this bath…took up an entire room

 

Lee only got in trouble once for getting too close to the exhibits 🙂

 

This is a super cool sculpture of a chariot pulled by 7 horses. Love the way they made that work. It’s amazing this survived to present day.

 

The layout is in chronological order, but  I say roughly because it was definitely not a straight line from one room to another.  Still we started with the oldest and as much as possible worked our way up through history. 

 

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I found this statue particularly interesting. It was a saint who had his head chopped off. I don’t think I have ever seen a statue that was holding his own head like this.

When we hit the Faberge section I was thrilled. All the items came from one person’s collection and although the five eggs were definitely the star there were tons of examples of other types of work.  That was just as interesting and this area (for me) was worth the visit. 

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The eggs all had their own special cases

 

The detail on the eggs was extraordinary and not really captured by the pictures although Lee did his best.  This one was devoted to the Red Cross.

 

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The inside piece is taken out and displayed in the next picture

 

This was my favorite

 

The small paintings that rotated were stunning.

Along with the eggs there were small figurines, religious icons and even furniture.  I spent a ton of time in this area. 

One of the rare pieces of furniture made

 

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This is a caviar serving platter

Across from the Faberge area was a silver area.  I didn’t find this nearly as impressive although I did like a couple of items. 

These salt holders were really cool

 

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I loved loved this painting

Lee loved this one

 

 

I loved this picture. It is supposed to represent a good marriage and the various things in the picture stand for a variety of temptations

 

This was my absolute favorite though. Again the picture does not come close to showing the delicacy of the rainbow at the bottom of the falls

They had a mummy and keeping in mind how I felt about the skeleton at Jamestown I didn’t stay and gawk much

 

Here’s the reproduction of the head. This is an odd thing they are doing now.

There was a large African and Columbian art section as well. 

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This is a death mask. I really liked how she is smiling in it. Really spoke to me

 

And I loved these woven foot covers. I own a pair of socks that looks kind of like this

 

Neither one of us really liked the modern art section that much

 

Although this Andy Warhol was pretty cool

 

And I really liked this picture

 

Most of it was just kind of weird though like this. Seriously. I just don’t get it.

We both loved the Art Deco section though.  

 

One of the most interesting things was a bedroom of a person who was born in Richmond and moved to New York. It was the complete bedroom and very opulent

 

This couch was amazing

 

This chair made me do a double take, which is weird because it’s just a chair. But its also a Frank Lloyd-Wright which is why he is so amazing.

 

But the stain glass window was spectacular

 

Oh and this desk. Never seem anything quite like that before.

I am really glad we had a chance to go here because the rest of our time in Richmond was not so great.  Next up Thanksgiving, and seeing Kat and Bert!

One final note, the winner of our annual calendar was Cindy. She wrote an absolutely lovely email about the impact our blog has had on her and it meant so much to both of us.  For the record she won because she was the first to reply, but her email was really lovely and much appreciated.  Good luck on your journey Cindy and we hope to see you down the road!


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

First Time at Monticello

As as child I was fascinated by Thomas Jefferson and visiting Monticello was always on my list of places that I wanted to see. As I grew older, I better understood how complicated he was, but I still wanted to see Monticello.  Consequently we went to some trouble to schedule the visit and went to the Richmond area specifically to be able to go and see.  I also took Thanksgiving week off (my first full week off since starting my new job) and we scheduled Monday in the hopes it would be less crowded.

Monticello was laid out a little differently than other places we have visited, with a large visitors area at the base and a shuttle bus to take us up the hill to the house.  The times were strictly scheduled for the bus and just getting on while social distancing was strictly regulated.

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The bus also had partitions

 

Once we got to the top though things were a little strange.  We were placed in a tented area where we waited to go into a second tented area and once again they gave lots of information outside of the house.  I understand the need for this I guess, but the experience was a bit like being herded into a cattle car and despite the elaborate precautions I didn’t feel particularly safe.  I did appreciate how knowledgeable all the tour guides were and they told us lots of interesting facts.  The most interesting was that the house was originally designed for just Thomas Jefferson as a retirement home, but ultimately he had kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids living with him which filled up the house pretty quickly.

 

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this is the backside of the house and not the most common view

 

They let us into the house in groups of twos and threes, so we were left standing on the porch for awhile.  It was pretty windy so I had an opportunity to see a weathervane on the ceiling of the porch.  Never seen anything quite like that before and thought it was super cool.

 

 

This clock was also very neat and was both outside and inside

The tour of the house was ok.  Only the ground floor was open, but at least it was self guided and there were lots of people to answer questions.  Once again though the furnishings were mostly not originals because Thomas Jefferson died deeply in debt and many things were sold off.  Thankfully the Levy family stepped in and bought the property.  They were huge fans of Thomas Jefferson, because they were Jewish and Thomas’s writings on religious freedom protected their faith.  Over the years they collected some family items but others are reproductions.

This multiple writing instrument made copies

 

Loved the solarium. There was a lemon plant growing inside

 

A few of his actual books were there

 

 

 

The absolute best part of the inside tour was his original bed. It was built top fit his 6’2″ frame and was inside a wall. This gave him ready access to both his bedroom and his study.

 

To the left you can see the bust of John Adams in his study. Adams had a bust of Jefferson in his and they both died on the same July 4th, 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Coincidence…I think not!

After finishing the house, we toured underneath the building.  The house slave quarters and kitchens were under the main building which was a more European arrangement and very different than Mount Vernon.  There were many signs about the lives of the slaves in this section including the story of Sally Hemmings.  I have always been fascinated by Sally’s story, because she went to France as a house slave with Jefferson and negotiated her return based on how she and her children would be treated.  Because she was half white, many of her children chose to pass as white and their lineage and history is often lost when they changed their names.

 

Walkway under the house

 

Kitchen had an interesting multiple burner setup

 

Jefferson had several slaves trained as French chefs. One of them committed suicide after he was freed.

 

 

Only one of the four children who survived to adulthood went into the black community. The others passed into white society.

 

After reading those stories, I was feeling much less generous about Thomas Jefferson.  Yes, he was the architect of many of the freedoms we hold today, but it is important to remember that most of those freedoms were for white, male landowners.

As we walked around we saw the front part of the house was pretty picturesque, but smaller than I expected. I also had it in my head it was mostly white, but that wasn’t actually the case.

 

 

 

 

My favorite part of the tour was actually the gardens.  They have gone to significant trouble to plant historical items there and even sell cuttings and seeds of historical plants.  We talked briefly with a gardener there and she was very happy digging in the dirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our favorite was these castor bean bushes which were used to make caster oil. They were beautiful.  Side note:  Ricin is produced in the waste mash from castor oil and has been used experimentally to treat cancer cells.

Finally we walked down to Thomas Jefferson’s family plot and then continued to walk downhill the rest of the way to the visitors center.  It was a beautiful walk and not that long, although I would not recommend walking up the hill since it is pretty steep.

 

Walk down to the graveyard

 

The fence was added later

 

Like Washington, TJ laid out his burial plot prior to his death

 

Unfortunately the original monument was vandalized by souvenir seekers and was ultimately replaced by congress.  It listed the three things he was the most proud of.  Author of Declaration of Independence, Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Founder of University of Virginia.

 

 

When we got back to the visitors area we went into the gift shop (I generally like to go after we tour a place) and although it was a nice one the prices were pretty steep.  My favorite sections were the historical plants and seeds.

 

 

 

Overall I have to say I left feeling unsettled and did not enjoy the tour as much as I had hoped.  It’s just impossible to separate the man from his actions in this case, although I still admire him for many of the things he wrote and the ideas he espoused.  I am glad I went, but I do not think I would go back.  It just made me too sad.

 


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  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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First Time in Jamestown

Over the years I have heard many things about the Colonial Williamsburg area, but I really didn’t understand the scope of it.  Packed into one relatively small area in Virginia are tons of sites with historical significance.  So many that people take their children on vacation there and consequently many of the sites are pretty touristy.  After I looked into what was available we knew what we didn’t want, but ultimately settled on Jamestown, which is a national park. Jamestown is the site of the first European settlement and is also an archaeological site.  As such the layout is pretty simple, but that is exactly what we wanted to see. It also is dog friendly and we were able to take Jack as we walked around.  He absolutely loved it by the way and enjoyed every second of it.  I liked it as well until it started to get crowded and then we left. I would definitely recommend if you go getting there early in the morning, because it is a very popular site. One other thing I should mention is when you are pulling in there are two Jamestown locations.  The one with the fountains is more like a living recreation, but go past that to get to the historical location.  The reenactment costs $20 to get into and was not our speed but I took some pictures of the fountains and liked the plaques for every state that showed how they entered the US.

The plaza with all of the state flags

 

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Super interesting to me how every state started in a different way

 

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This is the sign for the Jamestown historical site we went into

 

With the America the Beautiful pass is costs $10 (half off). Jack couldn’t go through the building but we went through the exit to get to it

 

There is a boardwalk over the marsh to get to the site

 

And a beautiful monument

 

 

When we entered there were building recreations on the right and remains of buildings to the left.  We went left first and there were less people over there.

 

 

The signs were pretty interesting along the way

 

Although they didn’t find gold they found lots of timber which England needed to build ships. That (and the deep bay) is why they settled here.

 

I didn’t know that 80% of the people sent to the colony were indentured servants and 60% died before they completed their terms. When they started growing tobacco they couldn’t get enough indentured servants which is how the slave trade started.

 

 

Mulberry trees were naturally growing in the area and they immediately started trying to get a silk trade going.

 

This building was one of the largest ruins remaining.  It was the house that was built when this site ultimately became a plantation.

 

Beautiful views of the bay

 

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Turns out this was a terrible site to build a settlement because of the water.  There are high levels of naturally occurring water in the area and the marsh caused high saline contents.  They also had drought right after they settled here and many people died from the terrible conditions.

 

After finishing the left side, we walked over to the fort area which was more crowded.  There was a Native American person speaking to groups in that area and we were able to see the remains of the church.

 

Ferries were going back and forth pretty frequently

 

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My favorite part was the statue of Captain John Smith.  He explored this area with Pocahontas as his guide.  And yes I certainly understand that his relationship with the Native Americans was problematic, but I admire his courage in exploring all this territory.

 

This map shows his numerous expeditions

 

 

I would have liked to see more information about Pocohontas.

 

The remains of the church tower

 

The inside was a re-creation, but there is a tomb inside as well.

 

A scale model of James Fort

 

One of the original graveyards

 

 

Most of the wells were still in place and I learned that most of the cool artifacts they have found were in the wells. After the water dried up they were used as trash disposal areas

Because it was hard to maintain social distance in the fort area, we moved on to the museum.  This building has the artifacts they have found and Lee really enjoyed it.  No puppies allowed though so we took took turns going in and I have to say I didn’t care for it.  Almost immediately upon entering they had a skeleton of one of the original colonists and that bothered me quite a bit.

 

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I appreciated the fact that they went to significant trouble to identify the bones, but having them out like this felt sacrilegious to me.  That’s odd because I find mummies fascinating and they hold dead bodies, but I would have preferred if after they identified him they did not put him on display.  That’s just me. Here’s a few pictures of the rest of the artifacts though.

 

 

They found lots of original money

All in all I am really glad that we went and standing where the first Europeans stood gave me chills.  We have a complicated history though with this nation and it’s hard to think about the fact that those things were happening from the very beginning.  We all grow up with a sanitized view of how this country is formed and it isn’t until later that we realize that there were winners and losers in that story. One last thing, on the way out we saw a small sign for the original glass blowing house and decided to stop because we love glass blowing.  That was really neat and the shop was open and they were making traditional items inside.  I loved the little pitchers with the heart shaped mouths, but glass and RV’s don’t go great together so I gave it a pass.  Pretty neat though.

 







These are obviously modern furnaces with recreated outside structures, but it was interesting to see what it might have looked like.

 




 

Finally, for the last several years we have made a calendar for friends and family as Christmas presents and this year I would like to send one to one of our readers.  It’s all about Jack this year, so if you would like to have a chance at receiving a calendar, please email me at camperchronicles@gmail.com with your name and address.  The first email received will get the calendar!  

Thanks to all the people who read this blog.  I wish I could send one to everyone. Have a wonderful holiday and please stay safe. 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Kiptopeke State Park and Chesapeake Bay Bridge

The last couple of campgrounds have been pretty great, but Kiptopeke State Park was in a whole other category.  Yes, it is expensive at $50 a night, and in season I am sure it is crowded, but off season it was absolutely lovely, and our site was really great.  Best of all it was a very short walk to the “beach” area and several boardwalks and I was able during work breaks to take short walks with the dog that were absolutely lovely.  We also got a beautiful sunset every night which was very special. 

Our site

 

Short walk to the amphitheater

 

With a great view of the beach

 

Unfortunately half of the beach dogs weren’t allowed

 

But we still could go on the boardwalk

 

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View to the right

 

View of the massive fishing pier and boat launch to the left

 

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View looking back shows it is a long boardwalk

 

The campground was huge with sections for Yurts and tent camping.  Because it was chilly few people were in those areas, but they were nice to walk. 

 

The yurts were huge

 

tent area

 

And a couple of nice cabins as well.

 

It was also a short walk down to the large parking lot and the pier

 

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The pier was huge

 



I loved the left side of the bay

 

And so did Jack

 

We saw lots of pelicans, seabirds and even dolphins in the bay!

 

And another beautiful boardwalk

 

 

 

And as I said the sunsets were amazing

 

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These boats were filled with concrete and served as a water breaker

 

The birds were amazing

 

The only downside of staying here is in order to get across the bay to Norfolk, Virginia Beach etc you have to take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  This bridge is pretty expensive, costing $14 in off season with EZ Pass, and we crossed it numerous times during our week long stay.  We also had several incidents when we crossed it from construction delays one day to a super long delay due to high winds on another.  They forced us to remove anything that wasn’t bolted down in our truck (ratchet straps were not permitted) and have a “wind” van take those items across.  This led to a delay of over an hour one night and that was when we had Costco groceries in the truck.  It was cool to cross one time though and if you are lucky you will see a big tanker closeup when traveling, but the cost and inconvenience made me rethink the wisdom of staying at this state park as a jumping off point to see the area. 

Here are some pictures of the bridge from our many trips. 

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We saw a tanker pretty close

 

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Our last day we crossed with the RV and it certainly fit but it was tight in a couple of places.  I wouldn’t have wanted to drive it but Lee did a great job.  What was more concerning was the idea that if the winds were high on our departure day we would have had to completely re-route.  Like I said I liked the park, but it would probably have been easier to find something across the bridge.  

Next up our visit to Jamestown!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.