Category Archives: Camp Ground Reviews

The Island of Newly-weds and Nearly-deads

Written By: Robin

Here is the story and pictures of our trip to Jekyll Island, GA.

Our first outing to one of the local establishments helped us to better understand the current story of beautiful Jekyll Island.  As we sat by the water and filled our tummies with local seafood and brew, we chatted up the “rah” bartender and got the scoop.  Her description was “the island of newly-weds and nearly-deads”!  After we stopped laughing she proceeded to tell us about the busy-season full of young couples getting married in the gorgeous historic district and how beautiful and prosperous the island is during the spring, summer and fall.


With temperatures in the high 60’s and mostly sunny days during our stay in early December, we found it to beautiful in the winter too.  That being said, we had noticed a different feel to this island but couldn’t quite put our finger on it…until we heard her description and realized that we were the closest thing to newlyweds that we had seen there so far (and we have been married for over 11 years!)  It helped to explain the strange looks we were getting.

We heard all of the stories about how this little island used to thrive for many other reasons, including their old convention center where many conferences were held.  Apparently over the last 20 years many factors, including the economy and the creation of an enormous Convention Center in Savannah have taken a toll on the island, and contributed to the many closed down hotels and shops we noticed as we drove in.  We thought it was just because it was “off-season”, but apparently this little gem is in a state of transition.  In the last few years they have built a new state-of-the-art Convention Center, several new swanky hotels are being built and some old ones renovated.  I heard from several locals throughout the week that they are “coming back”. From the looks of it, they are indeed.

The great news for us was the ability to score a nice RV site for the week, and some of the best golf prices we have experienced so far.  To our surprise in early December, the local golf courses are well-maintained, nicely designed, fairly empty and super cheap!  I don’t think we paid over $15.00 per person for 18 holes with a cart!  We played a very unique nine-hole course that has been around for over 70 years and had a mini history lesson on several holes.


Although it was hard to resist golf every day, we also took some time out to explore the island a little.  Driftwood Beach became one of our daily dog walks.  A relaxing a beautiful setting to watch the shrimp boats at work, listen to the waves and let the dogs explore.  IMG_3215IMG_3286IMG_3233 IMG_3241 IMG_3236

There were probably many things to do that we didn’t take advantage of this time around, like visiting the city of Brunswick which was just over the bridge.  After hearing about all of the plans on the island to revive it to a bustling resort, we decided to enjoy the slow, relaxing pace that was currently the norm this time of year, without the all those newly-weds!


They joke about the “nearly-deads”, but it struck me that this lifestyle might be exactly what makes it really only a joke.  Yes, the median age of the island seemed to be around 70, and yes sometimes driving 3 miles takes 15 minutes because you are behind the golf-carts that seem to replace cars here, but no one here seemed nearly-dead to me.  There was no shortage of 70+ year olds walking the golf course, riding bikes and hiking around.   In fact we met a delightfully lively couple at the car rental/mini-golf/pizza place who was busy planning their 65th wedding anniversary!  I understand the desire to bring more business to the island, but hopefully they won’t lose the serenity that keeps even the oldest residents young at heart!


View Jekyll Island in a larger map

Hunting Island State Park, SC

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Our previous blog focused on how great it was to use the RV to visit families even if the RV parks and locations were not always a tropical island. This is about our arrival to a park that is a tropical island. Although our previous stop at Myrtle Beach State Park gave us a taste of the weather and beach access that we have been yearning for, our arrival at Hunting Island State Park finally made the ideal the reality.

After crossing a half dozen tiny bridges including one bride where we had to pull over to avoid scraping the trailer on a passing truck. We turned left at the State Park signs and entered a beautiful, primitive jungle/beach setting that reminded us both of something out of the set of the TV series Lost. Except with rock solid 4G LTE internet access, 50 amp service, and DirecTV. There is a small path leading straight out of our private camping spot right to the beach.

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We were very happy that we did not try to squeeze into the loop that is right on the beach as the weekend atmosphere was a little more crowded than our out of the way loop with secret access trail. The only possible negative is that the sites are water and electric only. The nearby bathhouse could be cleaner but then again, that is the price you pay for this type of remote and private setting.

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The weather for us has been very close to ideal too. High temperatures in the mid 70’s and night time lows that are in the upper 50’s lower 60’s. Not bad for December. Considering the ice storms we are reading about on-line from seasoned snowbirding veterans, we are feeling pretty good about the timing of our current route South. Enough of me blathering on, back to some photos to take you away from your ice storms for a minute.

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During high tide, the beach was almost non existent and the trees were sticking out of the water. Low tide revealed one of the coolest beach settings we have ever experienced.

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Given the time of year, the beach was pretty much ours. This was a very friendly place where well behaved and trained dogs like Hank can frolic off leash. Happy dogs even on a cloudy and foggy day!

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I don’t know what it is like during peak season, but for my money in mid December, this place has to be hard to beat.

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Wildlife was all around including a raccoon that was a bit of a nuisance all week. He chewed a hole in our water hose and used the shower for drinking and cleaning. We were told that you have to leave water out for the raccoons to keep them from chewing your hose. Would have been nice if they told us that when we checked in. He also left his muddy foot prints up and down our truck where he seemed to enjoy exploring at nigh.  I am convinced that both raccoons and squirrels would never have survived if they were not so cute. People would have exterminated them long ago if they behaved like they do but looked like possums.

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A buck also made a casual appearance one afternoon.

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The State Park’s claim to fame is the historic light house. The views from the top looking back at the campground beach were very cool. We did the longish hike through the jungle to the lighthouse and then took the short route back across the beach once the tide receded at little.

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There were other nice hikes like the marshland boardwalk and fishing pier.

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Saturday’s football games were a little disappointing for our respective Ohio State Buckeyes and Missouri Tigers, but when this is your living room it is hard to get too upset.

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As I write this we are on our last day here at Hunting Island State Park. If we were headed home after a long vacation, we would be feeling that pit in our stomach right now. With our new lifestyle it feels more like we are leaving vacation to go on vacation!  Until next time.

Heading to the Beach

As I read on social media about the ridiculous cold temperatures and snowy weather that everyone else is experiencing, I almost feel guilty complaining about the last two cloudy days we have experienced at our current location in Sourth Carolina as we make our way south for the winter.

We left our last family stop in Ohio and headed out a couple of weeks ago to our first southern destination of choice, Charlotte, North Carolina. We set up at the Carowinds Camp Wilderness RV park on the south west part of the metro area. Nothing spectacular but we did have an angle for the DirecTV antenna and the park had some good trails for dog walking and hiking. We spent two weeks exploring the city, visiting with some good friends in the area and staying busy with our respective work. We enjoyed a night out brewery hoping near Charlotte’s NoDa Art district.

The other thing that I got to do on four different occasions while in Charlotte is my absolute favorite hobby – golf. I haven’t gotten to play as much as would have liked in the last few years and one of my big and selfish priorities for this winter is to play as much as possible.  In addition to a future travel map for us I may post a golf course map of my rounds on the road at some point.

After leaving Charlotte our first beach destination was Myrtle Beach State Park. I have vacationed in the area many times over the years with family, but this was my first experience with the State Park. The Park itself was a little tighter than the typical state park setup, but the beach access was good and our particular site was very nice once we got the trailer wedged in just right.

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We cooked thanksgiving dinner in the trailer and we marveled about how many people filled that park over the holiday weekend. The weather was cool but nice and I got a chance to play a few rounds of golf with my uncle who came down from Raleigh for a few days. Rufus and Hank got to experience the ocean for the first time and they really enjoyed eating everything that smelled fishy to them. Overall our visit was enjoyable and we would return to this park. We managed to get a few good sunrise photos when we got up early a couple of mornings.

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From there we headed out to the first of three consecutive island destinations. Stay tuned!

Navigating RV Parks

Written by: Jeremy

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As we begin our journey, Robin and I are easing in with relatively short driving days. Of course, the short travel days result in more stops between planned destinations. In fact, in just the last three weeks we have been in eight different locations including two state parks, four private RV parks and two private residences.

This is not necessarily our intended amount of moving but more the result of our need to get in some family time before the weather turns and we need to get south. Let’s face it, charming Milford State Park aside, there is not a ton of reason to linger anywhere between Denver, Colorado and Dayton, Ohio. We are currently set up at an RV park in Ohio visiting family after visiting family in Missouri. We will spend a couple of weeks here before heading south for the winter.

In addition to getting the hang of driving, we are also starting to get the hang of the whole set up and tear down process associated with our new 5th wheel travel trailer. We have had the trailer for a while so we have had plenty of time to figure out how to operate it. Becoming efficient at all the steps required to move is something that is taking more time.

Since we decided to go with a 5th wheel over a motor home I knew set up and tear down with hitching and unhitching would be more of a hassle on short one night stays. Because of this, the “Automatic Electric Leveling System” was a feature we decided we had to have.

“Find a spot, push a button to lower the gear and then hit the Auto Level button once and you are done!” At least that is how they explained in the RV sales showroom. The reality has been a bit different and we have found that getting the trailer fairly level to start is a prerequisite for the “Auto Level” system to work. That stipulation can be a challenge in a lot of Colorado. Considering that the system has already broken and had to be repaired, I am still waiting for the final determination on return of investment on this upgraded feature.

Other parts of the process are getting easier. The hitching and unhitching process is getting smoother every time as is the operations and procedures associated with the three slide-outs. Packing up and securing everything for travel while managing four animals is also something we are getting better and better at. Electric, water and sewer hook-ups are also now a breeze, although the process is still well short of a no-brainer. So far, the only real damage has been to a piece of trim and a cabinet door that that had an unintended union when putting out the office area slide-out.

The final and most important piece that we have had to learn in navigating RV parks is the park staff and/or ownership. We have found that most RV and campground websites are fairly limited and your best bet for getting a good spot and deal is with direct communication with the friendly staff. We have met RV staff of all sorts. Older family owned parks seem to be fairly common and lets just say, the pace is different that we might be accustom to in our previous daily lives.

Pretty quickly, we determined that I am not really cut-out for this job and Robin has taken over all phone and in person communications with RV park personnel. In fact we have determined that it is best if I wait in the car or act like I am checking out something on the trailer while Robin goes in alone. Although I have only done it once or twice, the line of communication in my experience can be something that extends my patience over the edge. Especially after a long day of driving:

Me: “Hi, do you have any available spots for a 32ft, 5th wheel”.

Staff: “Well, I recon we could get you in.”

Me: “Great, can you tell me what your rates are.”

Staff: “Yes”

Me: “OK, what are they?”

Staff: “$30/night”

Me: “Ok, we may end up staying for a week, do you have a weekly rate?”

Staff: “Yes.”

Me: “Ok, what is that rate?”

Staff: “Well that depends on what type of site you want.”

Me: “What are my choices?”

Staff: “Back in or pull through?”

Me: “How about a pull-through.”

Staff: “There aren’t any pull-through’s available this week.”

Me: “Ok, I guess a back-in then”

Staff: “Back lot or front lot?”

Me: “Is there a price difference?”

Staff: “No”

Me: “Ok, I guess we will just take front lot then”

Staff: “Really?”

Me: “Is there something wrong with the front lot?”

Staff: “Well, most people don’t like parking right beside the dumpsters.”

Me: “Do you by chance have a map or any literature that details all of this?”

Staff: “Yes”

Me: “That would be great. Maybe it would be easier if I just looked at that”.

Staff: “I recon we could print one out for you”.

Me: “Ok, if it is not too much trouble.”

Staff: “No trouble, Just need to get my daughter from the basement. She is the only one who know how to use the computer and printer.”

Me: “Can you tell me if your general store carries Scotch?”

When Robin takes care of it and I stay outside, for some reason, we seem to get much better sites and usually we have the staff doing us favors by the time we leave. I don’t know what she does or how she does it, but then again, the TV and internet is a mystery to her so I guess it all works out for us in the end.

I have even tried to book places on-line that say they are full. If it is a place we really want to stay, Robin usually calls to make sure. Five minutes and plenty of mutually animated telephone belly laughing later and we usually have our spot!

RV Lesson #6: When trying to get the best possible RV camping spot, personality goes a long way.  However, you have to be ten times more charmin’ than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I’m sayin’?


A Kansas State of Mind

Written by: Jeremy

As I am sitting here enjoying the new found freedom of a wife with growing confidence behind the wheel of a truck and pulling a travel trailer, I have had some extra time to take in the expansive state of Kansas via the well traveled but admittedly dull stretch of Interstate 70 cutting through the heartland.

Although we are new to full-timing, road trips across I-70 from Denver to visit family in the Midwest is not something new. We have made this trip many times. In fact, the state of Kansas has become sort of a punch line for us and our cool Colorado friends. Long flat, odoriferous, boring stretches of road broken up only by hate fueled, ethnocentric billboards wedged in between an even greater number of billboards for “Adult” bookstores, junk food, and signs luring you into a dilapidated farm for the privilege of looking at a five legged cow. We could only imagine the disappointment on a child’s face when they find out the World’s largest Prairie Dog is just a somewhat large ceramic statue that looks somewhat like an actual Prairie Dog.

One of our very favorite activities was discussing with other travelers about just how bad that trip across I-70 sucks and what a joke Kansas is. When travel planning, we actually discussed whether or not we even wanted to stop for one night in the this state, let along the two we ultimately settled on.

Our first night at a local KOA, just across the border into Goodland Kansas, was somewhat charming with a putt-putt golf course and large dog exercise area. It was, friendly, clean and respectable, but ultimately , the highway noise, and overall experience was about what we expected which wasn’t much. As we moved on for day two we contemplated if we wanted to make the second stop we had planned in Kansas or if we should just blow through.

Fortunately/unfortunately, a couple of urgent work emails for me caused us to need to find a place for the evening. Wanting to avoid another noisy night by the highway, we drifted a few miles off course to Milford State Park near Junction City. As we wound our way through the expansive, but relatively empty State Park in October, we began to experience Kansas in a different light.

Having no idea which of the seven available campgrounds would accommodate us best, as usual Robin headed into the State Park information area to make some friends out of the locals and to get the inside scoop. There she met Mel, the campground host from the “Woodland Hills” loop. He immediately pointed us away from the more expensive full hookup sites encouraging us to forgo the onsite sewer dump sites at the more crowed campground loop for the quieter and shady loop he hosted and that has level concrete pads but no sewer hook-up. He even offered to let us follow him there in his truck so he could show us the grounds and point out the sewer dump that we could easily use on our way out after our short one night stay.

Mel did not disappoint and pretty soon we were set up in an absolutely gorgeous, shady, level, and private spot where I got set up in my new office for the evening just before the sun began to set.

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Mel was by a little later to drop off a load of firewood that he thought we might find useful. Again, Mel was right. Although I had a mountain of evening work to do for my business, the dogs were not about to let us settle in to computers and then go to bed without exploring this place at least a little. Certainly not after we spent over five hours in that truck. What we soon found, less than 10 miles from the dreaded Kansas I-70 corridor, was a beautiful lake and sunset walk that rivaled any expensive island vacation sunset that we have ever experienced. Considering the fact that we had the whole place to ourselves, that our dogs got to join us, and that I got to sleep in my own Sleep Number bed for less than $20, it actually beat those sunset vacation beach walks by a long shot. Within a few minutes waking around taking pictures, living and breathing in this wonderful place, my heart changed and this blog basically wrote itself into my head just like that.

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What we could see and feel almost immediately was that this new journey would be far more than just a series of punch lines as we rush on through to our next destination. This is what our journey is about. In our previous life as typical Americans racing down the highway, trying to get in a short family visit in Missouri before our paid vacation time was used up, we had never really taken the time to stop in Kansas and see anything let alone actually meet a person.  Our minds were already made up as we held our noses and plowed through. As we strolled through Milford State Park the error of our previous way of thinking and living became even clearer.

How much else of our lives to-date have we missed because we were too busy speeding through with a predetermined and fixed viewpoint? For us, where we are right now, is where we are in life. The state of Kansas is a state of mind. It is very easy to view what people post on social media, the television news or even the messages of billboards and to see this as what life is all about. In reality these things aren’t even real.

Rv Lesson #2: Every once in a while, you have to pull off the highway, slow down, breathe and actually experience the present world in front of you instead of creating the experience in your own head.

Kansas, just like life, can be whatever we want it to be! It can be a hell-hole of a state that’s primary redeeming quality is the 75 mile per hour speed limit, or it can be the place where campground hosts like Mel, make you feel like you are at home visiting family  and sunsets make you feel like your are on a world class vacation. It really doesn’t matter that in reality, you are at a campground in the middle of Kansas on a Monday night in October for no particular reason.

It is all up to us! I guess it is a good thing we figured this out now considering our next intended states are Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia.

I personally, can not wait to see these places again for the first time!