Tuesday, October 26, 2010 (Yemassee, SC)

Today is our anniversary...we have been on the road for 4 months now and have travelled 11,606 kms! I still have a hard time believing we are actually doing this! We are loving every minute of it! Along the way we have had great visits with family and friends, met some wonderful people and seen some beautiful places. And we’ve only just begun...so much more to see!
I’m going to “let the cat out of the bag” today...yesterday I booked flights home for us. We leave from Savannah, Georgia tomorrow afternoon.

The main reason for flying home is my Mom’s condition. She has been failing quickly over the past week and is not expected to last much longer. I was very close to my Mom and spent a lot of time with her, particularly during the last 4 years since my Dad passed away. When Steve and I embarked upon our retirement dream 4 months ago, I left her knowing that she was in the best place possible for her and being well taken care of. I said goodbye to her then knowing that it was unlikely that I would see her again.

The secondary reason for flying home is to attend the ‘Retirement Gala’ Thursday night at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver. This is an annual event that BC Assessment puts on for all retirees during the year. I was very disappointed that I would not be able to attend particularly since there are 5 wonderful women that I have worked with for many years who also retired this year. I so wanted to join them in celebrating our retirement!

Since we knew that Mom’s passing is just a matter of days now and we would be flying home anyway, we decided to go ahead and book our flights so that we could attend the Gala. Of course, I contacted the organizers to ensure they could make room for us on such short notice. No problem...thank-you Sue and John! I then decided that I really wanted to surprise my co-workers...that’s why the secrecy. I doubt whether they will read today’s blog entry prior to the banquet...mind you, I may not actually get it posted before we leave.

Today was spent preparing for our departure. We have arranged to store our truck and 5th wheel here at Point South KOA. They have a storage area but it is very unlevel and we need to have a fairly level spot so we could keep the fridge/freezer running. They finally decided on a spot for it...it might just be a little interesting getting it backed into the spot tomorrow before we leave. Steve also had to trim some low branches. Hopefully, all will go well in the morning.

This afternoon, a woman from Enterprise Car Rental picked us up and drove us to their Beaufort office so that we could pick up a rental car. The Savannah airport is about an hour’s drive south and renting a car from Beaufort and dropping it off at the airport seemed to be the only way of getting there. Mind you, the one-way drop off fee they charge is tough to take...oh well...”it is what it is”...our new favourite saying!

I spent the rest of the afternoon inside the air-conditioned trailer packing while Steve was outside preparing the trailer for moving tomorrow. It is so hot and humid outside!! The temperatures have been in the mid 80’s with the humidity making it feel like the mid 90’s. Don’t know why I even try to straighten my hair...one step outside and it looks like a big brillo pad! I think we are going to freeze once we land in Vancouver tomorrow night...we’re looking at a 30 degree drop in temperature!!

Monday, October 25, 2010 (Yemassee, SC)

Well, after two very full days of sightseeing and exploring the area, we decided to have a “down” day today.

Steve helped me carry laundry bags down to the Laundromat. Along the way, he suddenly stopped because he said his ankle was being bitten...he had a bunch of tiny red ants all over his shoe and ankle! He must have stood right on top of an ant hill while he was waiting outside for me. While he was balancing on one foot trying to rid his ankle and shoe of the tiny pests, I was getting eaten by mosquitoes! Oh, oh...here come those big itchy welts again...time for Reactine!

While I was going back and forth to the laundry, Steve was helping our new neighbour next door. They had just arrived in a big class A motor home and for some reason could not get his shore-power to work. He has to run his generator all day (and night) until a replacement part arrives...hopefully tomorrow.

It was very hot and humid today. We spent most of the afternoon inside with the air conditioner running. Thundershowers were expected late this afternoon...and they arrived right on time. We could hear the distant rumbling as the storm got closer and closer. By dinner time, it was an all-out storm! The sky was constantly lit by lightning followed by booming thunder. Then the rain and wind started. It was all very entertaining as we sat at the dinner table eating our dinner. The power went out briefly at one point leaving us running on battery and the cablevision flickered a couple of times. After an hour or so, the storm passed and everything had calmed down.

That had been a very fast...”do nothing” day!...and we thoroughly enjoyed it!

Sunday, October 24, 2010 (Yemassee, SC)

I was awake before 4:00 a.m. this morning....tossing and turning...sheesh, I hate that! I finally decided to get up and take my pillow out to the couch and see if I could settle down there. After laying there listening to the tick, tick, tick of the wall clock, I almost gave in and put the coffee on...but, no...4:30 a.m. is still the middle of the friggin night! I finally dozed off because next thing I knew it was just before 7:00 a.m.....now, that’s better!

Today we were going to do a bit more exploring around the area. We left just after 10:00 and after stopping at the office to pay for another night, we headed back towards Beaufort. Before reaching Beaufort, we turned off and took the highway to Port Royal. It was pretty quiet Sunday morning as we drove down the main street and continued onto “The Sands” Boat Landing.

There is a long boardwalk along the riverfront with a tall lookout at the end.

Great view from up top....

After walking to the lookout and back, we walked in the other direction to the beach. The road and parking area is all sand and as we were walking we noticed hundreds of holes in the sand. We were wondering what made them but as we came up to a wetter area, we noticed tons of tiny critters scurrying for shelter in the holes. They were teeny, tiny sand crabs...hundreds of them!

Although there was a light cloud covering today, it was sure getting warm out...it was also very humid. There were thundershowers in the forecast for tomorrow...hmmm...we might be getting them a little earlier...

After finishing our walk around “The Sands” we drove back to the main street and parked the truck...we were going to try taking the “walking tour” as described in a pamphlet we had picked up. After finding the first stop...The Union Church, built in 1878...we got frustrated with the directions and returned to the truck. We had seen plenty of old buildings anyway...besides, it was getting very hot and humid out and the air-conditioned truck was very inviting!

We were carrying on into Beaufort when we took a wrong turn and ended up going across a bridge over to St. Helena Island. That’s okay, there’s another bridge that goes back to Beaufort....there are lots of bridges connecting all of these islands. Once we came to the bridge that would take us back into Beaufort, we decided to go the other way and explore Lady’s Island and Hunting Island. Hunting Island has is a State Park that we’d like to check out.

After paying our $10 ($5 each), we went into the park office and visitor’s centre (or should I say “center”). There is a big pond out front that has alligators in it...or so the sign says...didn’t see any.
By the way, the green covering on the water is not slime...it's tiny green seeds.  The whole area has very lush vegetation...very tropical...

After going through the interpretive displays in the visitor’s centre and learning more about the areas ecosystem, we were heading back to the truck when we passed another couple heading in. The fellow had a “Victoria, BC, Canada” tee-shirt on! Steve took a double-take and asked if they were from Victoria or had just visited Victoria. Just as soon as the fellow started to talk, we knew he had just visited Victoria...they were from South Carolina and had been in BC last year. What a surprise seeing someone in a “Victoria” tee-shirt!

These are pictures of the very cool forest and beach at Hunting Island State Park....

The Lagooon....

Seeing the dark clouds coming in as we headed towards Beaufort, we decided to head straight back home (other than a quick stop at Walmart, that is). Wandering around Beaufort just wouldn’t be that much fun in the rain.

It was after 3:00 when we got home....and relaxed the rest of the afternoon and evening. To heck with laundry...I’ll do it tomorrow!

Saturday, October 23, 2010 (Yemassee, SC)

We had just finished up the breakfast dishes when there was a tap on the door. Ben and Carol had stopped by to see our truck and 5th wheel and to say goodbye. We showed them around, had a nice chat with them and then they were on their way. And soon we were too...we were going to Beaufort today.

Beaufort is one of only a handful of U.S. towns that has had its entire downtown designated an historic district. Filled with mansions built by the wealthy plantation owners before the Civil War, Beaufort was one of the only Southern towns chosen to be occupied by Union troops, rather than destroyed. More than 50 historic structures have been identified in Beaufort, including many lovely private homes that have been beautifully restored and are now available to view via professionally-guided walking, bus, or horse-drawn carriage tours. If you are interested in reading about the history of the area check out this link... http://www.beaufortsc.org/what-brings-you/authentic-history.stml

We decided to take the horse-drawn carriage tour. The young girl handling Duke, the horse, was excellent...she promptly told everyone that she was 24 despite looking like she was 12....Steve thought maybe 9. Duke is a beautiful...HUGE...horse. He has been recorded as the second largest draft horse in the world. His former job was hauling barges up river in another state however there was a problem in finding other horses that could match his size and strength as a two-horse team so he was retired and brought to Beaufort.

The area has been used to film a lot of movies...Forest Gump (she pointed out Tom Hanks’ favourite restaurant where he would go after a day of shooting and randomly ask people if he could join them at their table)...The Big Chill...just to name a couple (because I can’t remember the rest).

This is the bridge used in filming Forest Gump and it had a "Welcome to Mississippi" sign on it...well, they forgot to take it down for 3 days after filming...very confusing for some tourists!!
Look at this massive old Oak Tree...
There is Spanish Moss growing all over the trees...apparently it isn't actually moss but belongs to the pineapple family...really??  There are also teeny tiny little bugs that live in it...so you have to be careful...
Such beautiful stately homes...most were summer homes where they did a lot of entertaining--big parties to introduce their daughters to young men in hopes of getting them married off....(oh the good ol' days!)

After the carriage ride, we had about 40 minutes before going on the boat tour up the river so we wandered around the waterfront park where a band was providing the entertainment. It was a beautiful tourist area.

The boat tour was about an hour and a half and he pointed out some of the same historic mansions as in the carriage tour...we were just much further away and of course, were seeing them from the water front instead of the street front.

We did learn a lot about the marine life, though, and the inland marsh tributaries. Basically this area consists of 1300 inland islands but you would never know that from looking at a map or even Google Earth.

The water looks dirty like the Fraser River from being so nutrient-rich and isn’t polluted because there are no factories in the area. A lot of the boats are raised out of the water to prevent rapid growth on them.

We saw a small Atlantic Bottle Nose Dolphin feeding on the shrimp.

The brown clumps in this picture are oysters. They require sunlight to kill off organisms in them so they grow only between the low and high tide levels and are very edible.

We were off the water and back at the truck by 3:30 and on our way home. It was about a half hour drive back. Another great day.......

Friday, October 22, 2010 (Myrtle Beach, SC to Point South KOA, Yemassee, SC)

We woke to another gorgeous clear sunny day...it is going to be a great travel day. Before getting started with the pack up, we went for one final walk to the beach. Ahhh...just beautiful!

We hit the road at about 10:45 a.m., heading south on Highway 17 towards Charleston, SC. We went over some pretty incredible bridges and saw some beautiful and unique countryside. The only thing lacking in our route was a rest stop where we could stop for lunch. We ended up pulling over at an historical marker (there is a lot of history in these parts!) alongside the highway.

We arrived at Point South KOA at 2:30 p.m. It is a small, fully treed park...guess we won’t be using our satellite dish here either. When making our reservation yesterday, we explained our situation so when we went in to register she said that she had blocked off the whole week for us but we could pay night by night in case we received “a phone call from home”. KOA have people that escort you to your site, so we followed Ken in his golf cart to site #51, a big back-in site on the edge of the park. He directed as Steve backed up into the site. One thing we can never figure out is why they can’t make the gravel pads level...we were quite low on the passenger side, so we had to get the blocks out.
It was just after 4:00 p.m. by the time we were all set up...time to sit outside for happy hour! I brought the laptop out with me and we Skype-called my brother, Dwight. Another thing I like about the KOA’s we have stayed at...they have all had good strong WiFi signals...at no extra cost. It’s very cool sitting outside chatting with him...we were even able to show him our site.

After our call, we decided to go for a walk. We followed the path to the lake...alligators in the lake...interesting...but we didn’t see any on our short walk.

We stopped in at the office on our way back where they have The Swimming Mermaid Coffee House. During the day, they serve all sorts of “fancy” coffees and in the evening this is where the wine tasting is. They also have a pizza place serving fresh pizza and chicken wings...they even deliver to your RV. We decided to return at 7:00 (in an hour) for the wine tasting (Steve could bring his own beer) and have a pizza for dinner as well.

There are 4 tables and they were all full for the wine tasting. We were all politely listening to Ken (yeah...he multi-tasks...in addition to escorting guests to their sites and filling propane tanks, he also leads the wine tasting) explain the different local wines we would be tasting. It took a few minutes for the ice to break but eventually we learned one couple was from Canada...well, it ended up that out of the 4 couples there, 3 were from Canada! Jeff and Gail are from Ottawa and Ben and Carol are from Port Alberni!! What a small world! After the wine tasting (and pizza), Ben and Carol invited us all to their motorhome for a drink.

We learned that with the recession back in 1983, Ben lost his job in Port Alberni. Being young and carefree, they moved to the Turks and Caicos. He worked in construction there with Carol keeping the books. They now winter there and travel Canada and the USA in their motorhome the rest of the year. They were on their way to Fort Lauderdale where they would store their motorhome and fly over to the Turks and Caicos.

Jeff and Gail had retired a couple of years ago...Jeff had been a firefighter in Ottawa and Gail had worked in HR for Correl. Upon their retirement, they travelled around the world. They did not have an RV but were staying here in one of the KOA cabins and were enroute to a small house they had in Sarasota, Florida.

Both couples had only stopped here overnight enroute to their southern destinations. We had had an enjoyable evening and although it is unlikely that our paths would cross again, we did exchange contact information just in case.

Thursday, October 21, 2010 (Myrtle Beach, SC)

I had my usual start to the day...up early, with my coffee, writing yesterdays entry into our travel journal. Steve got up about an hour after me, showered and by the time he sat down with his morning coffee, I was just about finished writing. Then it’s his turn to read what I have written and add his two-cents worth (and correct any grammatical/spelling errors....my brain is much faster than my fingers...that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!) while I shower.

After breakfast, we decided to take the laptop up to the free WiFi area and research campgrounds in the Hilton Head Island area. We had settled on Edisto Beach State Park but after asking a few questions when I called to book, I found out that they do not give any refunds should we need to leave early. The cell/internet coverage is also questionable. With Mom’s current condition, we need to be able to leave on short notice...and it’s also imperative that we have cell/internet coverage, have access to storage facilities for our rig and be fairly close to a major airport so that we can fly home. So after thinking it all through and coming up with these conclusions, we needed to research southern South Carolina a bit more.

But before doing that, we decided to go for a drive. After a quick stop at Walmart, we drove south down the highway to Murrells Inlet. A very cool little place with lots of taverns, bars and restaurants...obliviously a tourist kind of place. Mind you the whole area is very touristy having 60 miles of beautiful beach and ocean! On the way back, we found the ocean front road that goes through the communities of Garden City and Surfside Beach and saw some beautiful beach houses. On the southern end of Garden City there is a peninsula that has homes on both sides...on the west side, they look across the inlet to Murrells Inlet and on the east side, the wide open Atlantic Ocean. I took lots of pictures............

Back home, we had a quick lunch and then went back up to the free WiFi area to continue researching our next stop. Although it would be more costly, we decided we needed to find a private RV park central to the area we wanted to explore but also had good internet connection, RV storage, was fairly close to a major city and would refund should we needed to leave early. We finally decided on Point South KOA which is by a town called Yemassee, SC about a 3 ½ hour drive south from here. It is also about 50 miles from Savannah, Georgia. With reservations made for our arrival tomorrow, we went back to the trailer...by this time it was nearly 3:00 p.m. and we wanted to get out for a walk on the beach.

We had never been out on the beach at this time of day and found there were lots of families out enjoying the sand, water and sunshine...plus a few fisher people. We walked south to the Surfside Beach Pier and took a few pictures.

We were back at 4:00 p.m. just in time for an ice cold beer....boy that tasted good! We were both very hot after our one hour power walk in the sun! We sought out some shade in our site...we have a huge tree but it hangs over the 5th wheel and is in the wrong spot to provide much shade to the rest of the site during the heat of the day.

After dinner and dishes, I walked back up to the WiFi area to check email and to post yesterday’s blog (I had meant to do it this morning but got too wrapped up in campground research and forgot). I chatted with Chris on MSN...I find it great for just quick updates and hellos. Just as I was finishing up the blog posting, my brother, Dwight, Skype-called me. I had a bit of a difficult time hearing him due to the loud music and all the other people around but we managed. Skype is free when both parties have it installed (also free) on their PC’s and is a great way of keeping in touch...particularly when you are retired, on a fixed income and having to watch those pennies!!

After a great chat with Dwight, I headed back to the trailer. As usual, we watched a bit of TV and then headed to bed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2010 (Myrtle Beach, SC)

I was awake really early again this morning...it was just before 5:30 when I decided to get up and turn on the coffee maker. About a half hour later, Steve got up...what?...Steve is up at 6:00 a.m.??! Apparently he had also been awake since before 5:00 and finally decided to get up. He had a great suggestion... ”Why don’t we go down to the beach and watch an Atlantic Ocean sunrise?” What a great idea, honey! The sun doesn’t rise until 7:24 so we had a little time yet. So Steve showered while I finished yesterday’s entry in the travel journal.

We headed down to the beach just after 7:00...with our chairs, coffee and, of course, camera. It’s just so peaceful first thing in the morning. There were already a number of people out for their morning walk and quite a few fishermen were already staking out their spot on the beach. We set up our chairs and sat down to enjoy the serenity of the early morning sunrise.

As it got closer and closer to 7:24, the sky got pinker and pinker...just beautiful! Then the sun appeared...first as just a bright glow on the horizon and then as a great ball of red and orange as it greeted the morning. What a lovely way to start the day! It was going to be another hot day with the temps in the low 80’s but there was a slight possibility of showers this afternoon.

And it was a very relaxing day...after breakfast, we went for a walk on the beach, south to the Surfside Beach Pier. That was a good hour walk that I really needed! Other than yesterday when I did some major housecleaning, we have walked on the beach everyday...love it!

This afternoon we decided to go relax and do a little sunning by the pool. The water was a little warmer than yesterday...but not much! Unfortunately, we were plagued by a light cloud covering that would come and go...hmmm...maybe the slight possibility of showers were on the way.

Around 3:00, we headed back to the trailer and got changed out of our wet suits. We were sitting out in our lounge chairs discussing where we were going to head when we leave Friday when we felt a few rain drops. We put the chairs away and went inside but the rain didn’t develop into much...more like “hardly any showers”.

Steve took some pictures of the spic-n-span truck and 5th wheel...

We had been trying to get onto the internet but for some reason couldn’t...we had been blocked! There was a text message from Rogers saying that we had exceeded our data plan and for security reasons I was to call them. Well, I wonder what that was all about. So I packed up the laptop and walked up to the free WiFi area so I could make a Skype call to them. It wasn’t very busy up at the “Meet N Eat” area so I was able to find a secluded spot in the corner where I could make the call. It was a really good connection on Skype. The first person I spoke to could not figure out why I had been blocked so they passed me onto their “investigation” section. After being put on hold a couple of times, she explained that there was nothing on my account to indicate why we had been blocked but since we were in the States and on AT&T network they wouldn’t know our usage until they received the info from them. She asked if I had done any downloading of big files...hmmm...oh, oh....I had downloaded 2 episodes of Survivor since we had missed them and wanted to be up-to-date before watching it tonight. Well, both of those files are over 500 MB...so yeah...I guess I had done some major downloading!! I would say that blunder is likely to be a little costly...oh well...this is all a learning experience!! She gave me some tips on using the data stick...like taking advantage of free WiFi service where possible (duh, eh?!) and unblocked our Rocket Stick.

After a yummy steak dinner (and cleaning up afterwards), we went for a walk around the campground before setting in to watch Survivor and Criminal Minds. I can’t believe we only have one more day here...guess we had better figure out where we are going to go on Friday!