Tuesday, May 24
Today our destination was Savannah a small old city on the coast and we had thought it may be easy to find parking there but we overlooked the two keywords small and old so we drove around the centre of the city for about 30 minutes without seeing any sort of parking whatsoever but having a jolly good tour of the city and all of a sudden as we rounded the corner we saw two spaces so pulled the motorhome into that, got out to feed the parking meter and found that it was not working so when the space in front of me was vacated I drove the motorhome into that and so was legally parked.
Savannah is set up for the tourist and tourists they were there in their hundred’s with tour buses tour trolleys and bicycle rickshaws of modern design. Savannah is a beautiful old city with buildings to match that of the South in prosperous times.
Wednesday, May 25
Today our destination was Charleston and in particular the Ashley River plantations, we chose to visit the Magnolia plantation which provided a glimpse of Charleston style country living an informal garden through which you can wander and observe alligators in the Lakes and the swamps, the beautiful cypress trees and absolutely beautiful the camellia and magnolia trees. We then drove north to Givhan’s State Park in Ridgeville about 25 miles north west of Charleston.
The Road we travelled today was lush with forests and it was not unusual to see water through the forests. There were some rather beautiful homes on the way and the southern moss hanging from the trees with a large houses set in the background certainly had a southern feel that you only get in the South.
The Park we stayed in was an area called McClellanville obviously settled by the Irish branch of the family.
Thursday, May 26
With this weekend being a long weekend for Memorial Day, a day I believe they have for remembering the troops that have died in the various wars, it is often a four day weekend and considered to be the start of summer and everybody gets on the Road so it’s a good place not to be, on the road, so we decided to stay along the Carolina shore in the region of Georgetown and Myrtle Beach as we figured all the campgrounds would be full and at least these two locations have Walmarts which will serve us well over the weekend.
Today we visited another large plantation this one had fallen in to state control, evidently when slavery was abolished this rice plantation was uneconomic so I’d guess the owners had to find a job, even if it took many years.
As we drive North we do see a lot of mobile homes in what are often called trailer parks, sometimes they are on 1 acre plots of land with the lawn very neatly mowed other times anything goes. According to Mr Google there are 8 ½ million mobile homes throughout America which does not sound many by the numbers we see often.
Friday 27 May
Our first stop this morning was the historical waterfront area of Georgetown and we drove through the waterfront area, and yes you could see the shipyard in behind the shops but approximately 10% of the shops were occupied and the rest were available to be leased. I’m not sure why the Council and the owners don’t get together and make it super attractive for people to occupy the shops and if they have interesting shops often the public will follow.
We went on to drive along the waterfront and there are many very large mansions enjoying the wonderful views and there were even some for sale. Talking about houses for sale it is not uncommon to see new developments being opened up as we drive through the country advertising houses starting from the low 100s, low 200s, low 300s which makes you wonder why the house prices in New Zealand are so high particularly when considered on a people per square kilometre we have much more land than the people of the USA.
I think the whole world is aware of the presidential race here in this country but as we wander through the country we also are aware that there are other elections for people like the sheriff, judges, coroners, and all sorts of other people trying to make public office which under the Britiah system is usually awarded by merit rather than popular vote.
Today as were heading towards Myrtle Beach we visited Brookgreen gardens, a large area landscaped around 550 works of art by 250 artists, it was extremely beautiful without a blade of grass out of place, of course they had their residential alligators and snakes et cetera but then you expect this in the South.
We stopped by Huntington Beach State Park looking for a campsite for the night of course we were deluding ourselves as everything had been booked out for many months, so we drove on South on Highway 17 admiring the beachfront properties and eventually left that for our current parking area.
Saturday 28 May
He we are Myrtle Beach which happens to be the meeting point for at least half million motorbikes which explains why we have been seeing on the way here signs everywhere saying bikers welcome. Evidently it’s a meeting of groups of people on motorbikes, we were told African-American motorbikers, Latin, and who knows what else.
Last year we were near Sturges and we were told there are over 1 million motorbikes there for the 75th anniversary but we were very much aware that was almost exclusively a white person’s show, here in the South it definitely was not that case, we saw African-Americans of all shapes and sizes ages and sex riding around this area. We are aware that we are in the South in the South was the home to all of the imported slaves from Africa and down here they almost seem to outnumber the whites on a 2-to-1 ratio.
As we drive through the South with noted have very large number of Baptist church with all sorts of interesting names and it certainly makes the words Southern Baptist resonate with deeper meaning.
Today we just did a short trip towards the beach at Southport mainly to get away from the roar of the motorbikes, I’m sure of they brought out a electric version of the motorbikes they would not sell because they made no noise.
Sunday 29 May
Before we left Southport we went down to the shore to see an old lighthouse and piers and all of the wonderful large Southern houses perched on the seashore then it was time to turn north to head towards Raleigh to visit with Sam Gray who I first met over 30 years ago.
We are warned that the anniversary weekend was such that you should not be on the Road and we are quite frankly surprised at the lack of traffic we saw everywhere this weekend but then perhaps we were not moving to the right areas by the right roads and I guess had we planned to arrive in Raleigh at 7 p.m. we might experience different traffic.
We did see one accident on the way, a pickup had run off the Road and hit some trees, there may have been two cars involved and there were two ambulances there and we passed the fire brigade on their way, with the jaws of life I would assume.
Monday, May 30
After raining most of yesterday and all night that cleared up today to an almost fine sunny day.
Today I called on a highly skilled photographer that I tried to get to come to New Zealand several times but the dates just never worked out. I first met Sam Gray from North Carolina in the late 70s and every time I passed through Raleigh North Carolina. Sam is a brilliant photographer and is currently adding value to his portraits by painting over them with oils and acrylics or working on them with a lot of digital skill. His Gallery, in a studio at his home is full of fine examples of his product and is certainly a product that very few people can duplicate.
We spent a delightful morning with Sam and Donna and all too soon had to depart to resume our overland safari.
Tuesday, May 31
Today we got ourselves onto a secondary road and headed back towards the coast with Morehead City set in as the destination and occasionally we were on one of the main motorway’s and the traffic going in to Raleigh was quite often nose to tail which probably shows that a holiday weekend anywhere in the world on a traffic basis should be avoided.
There’s been quite a wet period in the South over the last 10 to 14 days which is probably resulted in all the flooding we have seen everywhere as we travelled
Wednesday, June 1
This morning we headed towards Harker’s Island and a campground that was close to the visitor centre which was the departure point for the ferry to Cape lookout lighthouse which evidently was one-of-a-kind on the shore. We discovered that the island was deserted and it appeared that people went out there carrying everything they needed for the day and enjoyed the isolation and the whistle of the wind and the gales that blew in off the Atlantic.
At the visitor centre they made the comment that if you struck really bad weather out there in the boat could not run you had to hunker down till the weather improved in the boat started running again. We decided there were plenty more lighthouses that were simpler to see.
The campground that we were due to stay in had been sold and the beautiful lots all with scenic views of the Atlantic were being sold off so the campground owner had taken as money and run. As we drove through the countryside of this part of North Carolina the ground was pretty wet everywhere, in fact I’d say it was soaked, tremendous amount of houses had a new unplanned Lake in the middle of their lawn and it made me wonder about the whole area if and when global warming kicks in and the sea levels rise.
We drove on towards Cedar Island and when we saw a signpost for a campground we pulled in there and got one of his last two sites, both pretty well waterlogged but the base was firm enough so we did not have the risk of being stuck.
Thursday, June 2
We left the campground at a village called “Sea Level” and I wondered whether that name was rather ominous, the campground owner said he had seen his campground totally underwater twice so that may be a sign of things to come.
We carried on the Road to Cedar Island and to the ferry to Ocracoke Island and I think we missed the ferry by a few minutes and had to wait three hours for the next ferry which may have been booked out but fortunately for us and a dozen other cars there was plenty of space.
It was a 2 ½ hour ferry ride at a cost of $30 and we got off on Ocracoke island which was in an area called the Outer Banks, and most the roads were partially underwater and we were told that it’s been seven times worse rain than that experienced in the past. We stopped briefly and photographed lighthouse on the island before we drove on and after a while we ran out of Road, and it found ourselves waiting for another ferry which this time was at no charge, obviously cheaper than building a bridge. This ferry was the best part of an hour and I think that is the last ferry with bridges the rest of the way.
There is no wild camping on the Outer Banks and everyone has to go to a campground which is where we are for the evening with lots of surface water in the motorcamp all around us.
Friday, June 3
We proceeded north on the Road that is trying to imitate a Lake and very quickly reach the end of the island where we queued up for the free ferry to the next part of the Outer Banks Road. We were told by the ferry attendant there was a lot of water on the Road where we were going and his comment turned out to be an understatement in the area around Nags Head and Kittyhawk with the water was often spread across the Road with every car going by creating quite awake. After a couple of extra extraordinary bridges we were out of the Outer Banks area and the wall to wall large mansions gracing the waterfront and two and three streets back from the waterfront.
Often these large houses had up to 10 to 12 bedrooms and extended families often rented them for their summer break. The Road to our destination, Virginia Beach, was a very narrow with lots of large trucks trying to break the speed limit, so we were pleased to eventually get on to a larger road and find a place that we could stop at for the night.
Saturday 4th June
This morning we drove to Joe Lust’s house some 13 miles away arriving at about 10 a.m. and had a wonderful time with Joe and Joanie catching up on events over the last 30 years and renewing memories of my visits to Virginia beach and Joe’s to New Zealand.
We went out to lunch at a fish restaurant and the girl serving us had an interesting accent so I asked where the accent was from and she said she was from Irkutsk which is a city in Siberia and we asked her how she liked the Virginia Beach area she said its final the summer but cold in the winter, and I asked again where she was from and she said Siberia so we went backwards and forwards with that a few times but the fact is that Virginia beach winter is humid and the Siberian winter is dry and cold but you don’t feel is as cold as when the winter is humid.
We had a long discussion with Joe and Joanie as to the route we are going to take North and we had randomly drawn on a map they would go up the east coast sticking close to the sea knowing though there were 2 possible problems called Washington and New York cities so we decided not to take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel and instead drive North inland with possible destination of Syracuse NY and then on to the Canadian border et cetera.
About 5 o’clock we set off on our travels and drove about 50 miles to the small town of Gloucester where we are for the night.
Sunday 5 June
We carried on our route North finding ourselves again on route 17 driving through the beautiful green forests of Upper Virginia and occasionally seeing a deserted house where the undergrowth is taking over everything and wondering what series of events prompted the fine looking house to be abandoned and left to decay.
A parking spot for the night is in Warrenton and tomorrow we will very our travel slightly and travel slightly through West Virginia
Monday, June 6
Back on the road north heading towards Harpers Ferry, on the back roads, and man were they the back roads, we went through what can be best described as rolling countryside with the roads up and down and weaving in and around the hills, and then all of a sudden we were leaving Virginia and entering West Virginia a couple of miles later on were at Harpers Ferry supposedly the area to which they can trace the start of the Civil War. The whole area was rich in property with some magnificent houses on beautiful pieces of land that we passed on the way. Just to balance the thinking there are also some trailer homes visible from time to time.
All the way up the East Coast the predominant church has been the Baptist Church with all sorts of interesting names in front of the word Baptist and would been hard pressed to find any other denomination, however crossing over into Maryland we started seeing some of the other Protestant denominations along with the still visible Baptist church.
Harpers Ferry is a quaint tourist town with about a population of 300 and the start of the Appalachian trail, a footpath the stretches along the spine of the Appalachian mountains for about 3200 km from Georgia to Maine.
We then carried on our way North going again from West Virginia to Virginia to Maryland passing through more interesting towns, visually, than the historical quaint tourist town of Harpers Ferry.
By the time we got to Hagerstown and found a parking spot we decided that was it for the day.
Tuesday, June 7
This morning it was just a very short drive before we crossed over into Pennsylvania and we carried on up through Pennsylvania on the back roads driving in and out of the mountains and the valleys through very small towns were all the houses in the main street their front doors opened onto the footpath like in day’s gone.
As we got into the mountains it was very obvious that coal was the main source of income, or had been until the drive for cleaner energy overtook the world. The countryside we drove through was very beautiful with delightful houses and a few areas of trailer homes and there was a generous control of the traffic through speed limits often stepping down to 20 MPH or lower going through the town.
As were passing through one of the cities we saw a Ford dealership so stopped there to see if we could get somebody to look at the headlight circuit that was blowing the 40 amp fuses and the first appointment was 8 days away, so we drove on
We found ourselves in a town called Coal Run for the night and it would not take a quizmaster to work out how the town got its name.
Wednesday, June 8
It rained most of the night, and as we looked out onto a wet miserable day with bad visibility and I watched all of the cars driving with the headlights on and I knew I had a problem.
Eventually the rain eased and I replaced the 40 amp fuse and checked yes I had headlights so we started driving North in the rain and I kept flipping the dip switch to see if there headlights were still working and they were which is going to create problems trying to have it fixed, I won’t get very far telling the technician yes fuse blows, sometimes, I’m not sure when and I’m not sure under what conditions but here are the 5 fuses that are blown so perhaps they can talk to you!
We went through the towns of Ulster, Milan and Athens before leaving Pennsylvania and crossing over the border into New York State and the city of Waverly, it blows my mind to think of the mixture of people that there must been in this very small area to settle on these four city names and I also wonder about the possible property taxes of the adjoining states for that to be so many grand large houses on the Pennsylvania side but that is a question for another day in another time.
We drove on to our destination of Ithaca and the Finger Lake Region and have settled into a state Park for the evening, this is one of the first occasions I wish the current RV had levelling jacks like my previous European vehicles as the Park had very little level ground.
Once we had the motorhome parked and connected Luda decided to go for a 7km walk along the finger Lakes North country Trail which took her along a river with many small waterfalls and then up about 500 steps to a higher elevation to photograph a magnificent waterfall and on back to the RV photographing more waterfalls on the way.
Thursday, June 9
We set off this for Syracuse in the rain with a new 40 amp Maxi fuse inserted for the headlights stopping briefly at Taughannock Falls, was then on into Syracuse stopping briefly at a auto supply to find an auto electrician, they told us of one 10 km away on the other side of town so across town we went and it looked like it was going to be next week before they could do something as he appeared to have appointments all day tomorrow, but when he analysed it somebody else could do the appointments and he could work on our lighting problem.
So we camped in his backyard for an early 8 start…..
Friday, June 10
There was an early rise breakfast and ready to vacate the motorhome at 8 a.m., at about 9:30 a.m. they took us to a shopping centre so we filled the time and until 1 p.m. and then back to the waiting room and about 2 p.m. he announced he found the problem, in the wire harness by the firewall 5 wires were able to contact earth which of course blew all of our fuses. By 3 p.m. the account for $550 was made up, paid, and were on our way to Utica passing through Rome on the way.
Saturday, June 11
Today we headed up into the Adirondack Mountains, the playground of the massive population on the East Coast between New York and Boston, is the winter playground and the summer destination to get away from the noise and humidity of the cities, we had very wet weather so just short of Old Forge we found a quiet parking area where we hoped the rain would pass us by.
Sunday, June 12
Today we headed towards Tupper Lake a beautiful drive through the Adirondack Park in the Adirondack Mountains and all of the beautiful Lakes on the route, we presume the Lakes needed more water because it was raining all the way and when we got to Tupper Lake all of the beautiful walks that were described were left for another day and we carried on towards the scene of the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980, Lake Placid, it must been on everybody’s schedule for their Sunday drive as the roads were very busy and when we got to the Olympic city became very obvious that was built in the 30s with the narrow roads running through the main shopping centre and what with the rain and the lack of parking we headed on towards Ausable Chasm the scene of some beautiful waterfalls, caves an interesting walks.
Monday, June 13
This morning we decided it was time to head towards Canada and we put into the GPS the destination of Oka where there was an old French Abbey in that location.
Our GPS took us past several roads that we knew would take us across the border and instead it took us down a lot of back roads and we thought we are going to sneak across the border unnoticed, but no it took us to a small border crossing with just a staff of 1 and after he ascertained we had no guns, Mace, pepper spray or anything else harmful we are on our way.
The moment we were across the border into Québec we were back in to kilometres, which was not so bad, but all the signs and adverts were in French, no English whatsoever, other parts of Canada we have found to be bilingual but not Québec, okay we can handle that, then they have gone to the extreme and adopted the French system of closing early and all of the other French things, but then I guess the French like it.
To get to Oka was a short ferry crossing costing C$14 and before that we had a long wait whilst a oceangoing ship left the harbour causing the bridge across the Bay to rise to the ship passed through and of course a long line of traffic was held up going both ways.