Dodging Greeks

We left Woodland Trails on 9/28, heading for the Florida panhandle and our first actual camp host positions at Old Salt RV park in Port St. Joe. Our route took us through some familiar territory, back to Summit, South Dakota, then on to Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and ultimately Florida. We had no problem finding RV parks along the way, though we have heard a lot of stories about full campgrounds due to a lot of new RVers trying to escape COVID.

We were able to visit state capitols in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Little Rock, Arkansas, but had to pass on a couple others due to a couple storms named Delta ant Eta. For awhile each of them threatened our projected winter home, however they stayed pretty far west of PSJ. The storms did have a projected track right across where we were going to travel, so we changed our route and schedule enough to get to Old Salt ahead of most of the rain and wind.

I think our favorite stop was along the river in Little Rock, where we were adjacent to the huge walking bridge across the Arkansas River, which leads directly to the Bill Clinton Presidential Library and the well-done walking trails to downtown and the capitol. We had visited the library a couple years ago so we focused on the capitol, which was quite beautiful. It never fails to amaze us at the care and pride each state exhibits with their state capitols. Very few are plain, but each one emphasizes their states history and we have been warmly greeted by guides and some state officials at every stop.

We arrived at Old Salt on October 8th with no problems with the new-to-us truck. In fact it rides so well that Mary drove about half the time. We found the truck in Detroit Lakes before we left Minnesota since the old truck was getting to be too much trouble.

The sites and grounds at Old Salt are some of the best we have seen in 5 years on the road. They are all gravel, wider and deeper than most. The park is quiet but less than a 5 minute walk to the white-sand gulf beaches. Andrea, the park owner, is super nice and we feel very much at home here. A fun fact: the highway the park is located on, is the dividing line between Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe; is the county line between Gulf and Bay counties; and is the dividing line between the Eastern and Central time zones. Right across the street, it’s an hour earlier than here. We are constantly having to do time conversions when we go to Mexico Beach or Panama City!

Searching for Normal

Well, to say that 2020 has been disappointing would be a gross understatement. We missed a lot because of “the Virus”. Like many people, our plans were drastically changed, causing us to put almost a year of our lives on hold, but it looks like we are finally starting to see the light at the end of this tunnel.

We made the trip from west Texas, up through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. Our original plan was to spend some time in the Houston area visiting kids and grands, check out a 2nd RV, then proceed to the Dallas area to visit relatives. Our trip was to take 4-5 weeks and include leisurely travel along the way to our summer stop in Minnesota. Since those areas were so “hot” from COVID, we were forced to change everything. We made the trip north in less than 2 weeks and that includes a week in Summit, South Dakota.

It can be noted that even though most everything was shut down, with the exception of gas stations and RV parks, the state of South Dakota did have places open. The governor refused to shut down the state’s economy, allowing people to make their own decisions about their safety, treating them like adults. This has turned out to be a much more reasonable approach than some of the states, in my opinion.

Arriving at Woodland Trails in Minnesota was a lot like “coming home” since we have chosen to summer there 4 of the 5 years we have been traveling. Minnesota, in May, was pretty much closed for business but the county we were in had zero cases of COVID so we felt pretty safe. Plus we were happy to see Dawn & Dan Sullivan, the owners or Woodland Trails, and the many friends that we have made there over the years. It’s really a lovely place to spend the summer months.

When we first started this journey, our #1 rule was “no snow” and we were able to keep that until this May. We got to Woodland Trails earlier than normal and Dawn let us set up on May 7th. The park water wasn’t turned on yet, fearing a late freeze but we had on-board fresh water so we were okay, The morning of the 9th we awoke to white stuff all over the ground. SNOW!

Strawberry Lake – May 9, 2020

Fortunately it didn’t last long and our RV is set up for colder weather so we were snug and warm. We ran out of fresh water and since the park wasn’t going to open for a few days, we decided to spend a night in Detroit Lakes at the Holiday Inn. Curiously, it was open for lodging and room service but the restaurant and lounge were closed. It would seem to be easier to “sanitize” a restaurant than a hotel room, but that was just another of the incongruities in the COVID rules.

Once we got back to Woodland Trails we were able to fall back into familiar routines almost as though we had never left. I would mow every Thursday, Mary would watch the lodge on weekends, and we would fish as much as possible. Our extra-curricular travel was pretty much curtailed except for the occasional trip to Fargo since most everything was closed. Toward the end of the season we made a trip to Grand Rapids (Minnesota) and stopped by the childhood home of Judy Garland and adjacent museum. Restaurants were starting to open, with masks and every-other-table seating, but at least it was a change of scenery.

All in all it was good to be at Woodland Trails for the summer. We resumed our friendships with several couples who live there in the summer, and the Sullivans are good people to work for. We probably won’t go back in the future because there is still a lot of this country we haven’t seen yet, but our memories of Woodland Trails will always be good ones.

We stayed on longer than usual while Dawn addressed some health issues, leaving Woodland Trails on the 28th of September, headed for South Dakota and ultimately the Florida panhandle for the winter. Things are gradually returning to “normal”, whatever that might look like from now on. We are more fortunate than many in that we are healthy and able to safely travel. Sure, things are different, but we feel that at some point most of this will be behind us and we can maybe find the old normal.

Enough already

Well it seems our decision to “hunker down” in Fort Stockton was mostly the right decision for us. Hardly anyone in the park but us and no real reason to interact with other people other than those in the office and the few people we see at carryout restaurants. Since Pecos county has very few instances of COVID-19, we have felt pretty safe.

The unfortunate news reflects what lots of people are experiencing – boredom. We can only watch just so much tv with inane sitcoms, movies we have seen many times, and the endless parade of celebrities telling us “we are all in this together”. We are able to break it up a bit by going for walks (to get our exercise & vitamin D), plus we can sit outside and read, that is if the wind isn’t blowing too hard!

Last week we decided to go for a ride to Marathon, Sanderson, and back, a trip of about 175 miles. After being cooped up for 3 weeks, it was almost like a mini-vacation. On the road from Fort Stockton to Marathon we saw fences and gates belonging to the La Escalera ranch, on both sides of the highway, for about 35 or 40 miles. We learned the La Escalera was one of the biggest ranches in Texas at about 320,000 acres however they are now owned by a company in Seymour, Texas.

We went where buffalo roam

antelope were playing

and to top it all off, the skies were not cloudy all day. We were way out on the range and it really felt like home. Almost made us want to sing but we couldn’t decide on the song!

Fortunately, we only have another week of this isolation, then it’s the dash to Minnesota. We are ready!

COVID

They say the way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans.

Well our plans, like millions of others, have changed dramatically in the last month or so. I originally planned to describe our experiences on the trip west but instead I want to explain where we are and what our plan is for the next 5 weeks.

Our stint in southern California was to be until April 1st but circumstances there changed drastically around the middle of March. A high percentage of residents and golfers at Rio Bend come from Canada. With all the shut-downs, most of them left early for their homes, leaving play at the golf course almost non-existent. Couple that with the park closing play to all but current residents and things were pretty quiet. We felt that sticking around for an extra week made no sense, so we left on the 24th.

Originally our plans included stops in Houston to visit the kids and grands, but Houston is pretty much a hot-spot so we have to pass on this year. We also were going to make a stop north of Fort Worth to visit Deanna, Mary’s niece, and her husband Peter. That plan is also out the window.

So here we are in southwestern Texas in a quiet park for the next month. We may take a few side trips but there isn’t really anywhere to go. We are very fortunate that we don’t need to go to work each day for income. We venture out occasionally to go to Walmart or Costco, carrying our sanitizer and trying to maintain “social distance”, then back to the rv. We have TV, Internet, plenty to eat, and our health is excellent; our park is located in a county that has yet to have their 1st diagnosed case of COVID-19. So, all in all we are very fortunate. Mary says the phrase “man without a country” or “all dressed up and nowhere to go” both come to mind.

I mentioned Peter, Deanna’s husband, near Dallas. His business is Red Kitchen Foods, located in Keller, and he makes the best sauces, spice mixes and rubs for meat that you will find anywhere. Chef Peter teaches gourmet cooking classes in his studio, while supplying hotel and restaurant chains with his unique products. Everything is made completely without preservatives or MSG, and are as natural as possible.

Take a look at what he has to offer. If you like to barbecue, Red Kitchen Gourmet should be automatic. And he can ship what you need right to your door.

That is all for now. We are just going to stay hunkered down until things change. We would love to here from you with any comments you might have. Stay safe.

Westward HO, pt.3

We battled the freeway traffic around and through the western suburbs of Chicago to Hawthorne Woods and the home of niece Renee’ and this is where we will spend the next few days visiting family. They have a very large driveway and parking area next to their home so we were able to park the 5th wheel there. Renee’s husband, Joe, is the mayor of Hawthorne Woods and was able to get us a permit to park there. We also took them up on their invitation to stay with them so we did not have to worry about hook-ups for the RV for a few days. It was a bit of a challenge backing into the drive but we slowly got it done with no problems.

Those who know us are aware how much we enjoy major league baseball. Joe got tickets to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and the 4 of us made a day of it. Mary and I both have been to games at Wrigley many years ago and it is a favorite park for us. Great day with really nice people.

The following day I played golf with Joe & Renee’ at one of their favorite courses. Mary has an issue with her shoulder and couldn’t play, so she went with another niece, Kismet, to the hospital to meet Kismet’s new granddaughter. That evening we all got together for a fantastic dinner out and we finally met Michelle, Renee’s twin, and her husband, Carl. Beautiful ending to a super day.

Leaving the next day, we couldn’t help but marvel at how awesome are all four girls – Deanna, Kismet, Renee’, and Michelle. We are definitely looking forward to seeing them again as soon as possible.

We left Hawthorne Woods late morning heading west toward Wisconsin and South Dakota. We usually like to drive only 200-225 miles in a day so as not to get too tired out. Some RVers brag about how they drive 400+ miles in a day – not us. We try to plan ahead and with the help of RV trip planning software, we put together a loose route and schedule. This gets us where we are going and also gives us time along the way to “smell the roses”. That being said we pushed our schedule a bit and got to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, quickly so that Mary could renew her driver license. We obtained South Dakota residency when we first came out on the road almost 5 years (5 YEARS?) for tax reasons, and we have to return every 5 years for renewal. I will do mine next spring.

We headed south from Sioux Falls, through Nebraska and were shocked to see the flooding that has turned many farms into small oceans – water as far as you can see in many places. So sad! Farming is a crap-shoot anyway and to have to recoup from all this loss has to be devastating for these farmers. I hope there is some relief available from federal, state and local agencies.

We continued through Nebraska, and on into Kansas, staying in Liberal. We visited the Wizard of OZ museum, complete with Dorothy’s house, museum and gift shop. What might have once been a good idea is now run down and sadly in need of some TLC. The live Dorothy is native American and the museum/gift shop is largely pictures and testimony to the native American past.

The next day saw us stopping in Tucumcari, New Mexico, which is on the original Route 66, the Mother Road. Once again, the town has seen better days but if you use your imagination, the town’s hayday can almost be seen. There is a neat little Route 66 gift shop on the main drag, owned by a nice lady who has been there long enough to know what the town and Route 66 was like before the Interstates took over. She really does have everything you could imagine in the way of Route 66 memorabilia. Most of the other stores are focused on native American items. The town is pretty much dying but there are some there trying to hang on. Sad.

Leaving Tucumcari we headed for Albuquerque and the fabled home of Walter White (Breaking Bad). We didn’t bother driving past the house that was used in the show since the residents there get too much of that already. We did take a drive to the VLA site on the Plains of San Agustin. VLA stands for Very Large Array of radio telescopes. They have 27 huge dishes spread out along a Y shaped track, each arm being 23 miles long. This was a very interesting and impressive stop for us. They show a video of how the V LA was built and used, allow a self guided tour and have a nice gift shop where Mary could buy a hat pin. All in all well worth the drive out to it.

The next day we took the RailRunner train to Santa Fe to see the capitol. Their capitol building is known as the “Round House” and was filled with quite a lot of outstanding local artwork in addition to the government offices. As for Santa Fe itself, it seemed to be largely an expensive place for tourists, with a generous helping of street-people thrown in.

Traveling west from Albuquerque we set or sites on the town of Winslow, Arizona. Yep, the town made famous by the song “Takin’ it easy”. Actually, our objective was Meteor Crater, and we stayed at the Meteor Crater RV park, a few miles west of Winslow. The raised rim of the crater could be seen from the park, only a mile away. Meteor Crater was the destination of the alien in the movie “Starman” so I was anxious to see it. Tourists are permitted to walk around on the rim but not go down into the crater. Totally awe inspiring to see! They had a video which let viewers “fly” down into the crater. Of course they had a nice gift shop.

The next day we drove into Winslow to, of course, “stand on the corner”, take pictures and visit the souvenir shops. At lunchtime, surprisingly there was not much selection for a place to eat, so we walked to the La Posada Inn and were pleasantly surprised. This beautiful hotel was resurrected from an old train station and the owner, an artist, filled it with many of her works. They did a wonderful job and turned it into possibly the best reason to visit Winslow.

Continuing our trek, we spent the night in Wickenburg, Arizona, then on to Rio Bend Golf & RV Resort in El Centro, California, our home for the next 6 months. I will go into our stay at Rio Bend in another post but the next post will detail some of the problems we encountered on the trip from Cape Hatteras to El Centro.

Westward, Ho pt.2

The trip from Atlanta to Cleveland, Tennessee, was short and easy. This was major stop #2 for us to visit our long-time good friends Buck and Leslie.

We have known them ever since we were in the golf business and we always look forward to seeing them. We timed our visit for the weekend so they would both be free to visit.

On Saturday, Mary went with Leslie drove to Knoxville to attend the funeral for her half-brother. This gave them some “girl time” and also was an opportunity to see some old friends.

Buck and I took this time to play some golf at his course, the Cleveland Country Club. I have played here before and always enjoy the course and the great guys Buck finds to fill out our foursome. We didn’t exactly set the course on fire with our play but we did have a super time.

Sunday was a special treat for us when they took us for a boat ride on Lake Chickamauga. They keep it there at a marina so it was a pretty simple process for Captain Buck to get it in the water. We spent more than an hour up and down much of the lake, and it was truly a relaxing afternoon for us.

As much as we would have loved spending more time with our dear friends, we had to leave Cleveland to continue our trek westward. Next stop, Lexington, KY, home of horses, horses, and more horses. Pretty countryside, we used a couple days to regroup and relax. Traveling with the 5th wheel can be a bit of a tension builder, especially after almost 5 years on the road. Occasionally we use a stop for nothing more than a little R&R.

We stayed at a park designed around those folks who come to this area for the horses and while it was okay, it was without any of the normal amenities like tv, wifi, pool, etc. We did however get to tour the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort and got to see how bourbon is distilled. This is a very precise and detailed process that takes quite a bit of time to get a first-rate product.

Our next major stop will be near Chicago to visit family. Mary has 4 wonderful nieces who, through no fault of her own, she had lost contact with many years ago. Gradually reunions have taken place and while in the Chicago area we hope to get together with all of them at once. We are really excited!

Westward, Ho!

We left Camp Hatteras early the morning of August 31st and in hindsite, it was pretty good timing.  About 4 days later Hatteras and Okracoke Island were pretty much ground zero for hurricane Dorian. Talking with friends who stayed (they have a house there), both islands took a lot of wind and water.  There was a mandatory evacuation in force for visitors along with a recommended evac for residents.  Just prior to landfall all electricity was cut off to the islands and the bridges to the mainland were closed, so anyone remaining was completely shut off from leaving and on their own.  Scary stuff!  3 people died because of Dorian: one 61 year old man was caught in the storm-created rip current and drowned; one man fell off a ladder preparing for Dorian while a second died in a chainsaw accident, cleaning up afterwards.  Due to clear, advance planning, there were no other deaths, but lots of wind and water damage.  The island was without power and services for about a week and fortunately our friends made it through in good shape.

Four and a half months on Hatteras was long enough and we were ready to move on with our travels, the “Wander Gene” kicking in.  Leaving Hatteras before the chickens woke up, we stopped in Columbia, NC, for breakfast and a brief stroll downtown and along the river.  Cute little town. We try to do this as much as possible when we travel.  We also try to limit our daily mileage to around 250 miles or less.  On days we drive farther, we will spend 2 nights or more at our next destination to recharge.  Also we generally try to stop for a stretch break every couple hours and usually don’t go over 60 MPH on the highway.  Heck, what’s the rush?  We’re retired!

Our first night we stayed in a campground near Mebane, NC, then traveled on to Piedmont, SC, for a couple nights.  On the way we stopped in Belmont, NC, to visit their Daniel Stowe Botanical gardens. It was nice but we agreed we liked the gardens in Grand Rapids (Meijer Gardens) and Des Moines, IA better. The extra night allowed us to visit Greenville, SC, for the day.  Their downtown has been revitalized around Falls Park, a beautiful park overlooking a falls area on the Reedy river. Lunch in a French-style bistro overlooking the river, the falls and the Liberty Bridge, gave us the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Reaching Atlanta on September 3rd, we were warmly greeted by our nephew Mike and his wife, Meg.  It doesn’t seem possible that it has been some 30 years since we saw them last!  We could not find a decent RV park anywhere near them, however Mike arranged to allow us to park our rig in the little used parking lot of their HOA swimming pool. Perfect!  No hookups but they have a beautiful guest room that we stayed in, giving the RV a rest.

What a great time we had with them, catching up on family, and getting to meet their daughter, Kelly, her husband Nick, and their 2 really neat kids, Jacob & Katie.  Unfortunately, their son, Chris (the globetrotter!) was not in town while we were there so we will have to catch up with him on  the next trip.  Actually I have met Chris before, but he only weighed about 9 pounds so an update is in order.

Our 2 primary objectives in visiting Atlanta were to take in the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, and the much talked-about Georgia Aquarium.  Neither one of them disappointed us.

The Carter Library, like most of the other Presidential Museums we have visited (only 4 to go!) was very impressive.  I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan of Jimmy Carter when he was president, but seeing how good a person he was and is, plus the magnitude of great accomplishments he had while in office and how he continues to serve, makes me see him in a whole new light.  Every visit to both the official and un-official libraries has given Mary and me a stronger sense of our country’s history, and the immense challenge they must meet every day.

The aquarium was similar to others we have visited, but they have a large glass “tube” to walk through where sea animals like the huge whale shark, really large grouper and thousands of other fish of all shapes, sizes and colors swam over our heads and around us.  They also have a couple rooms with tall floor to ceiling glass, looking out at these beautiful creatures.  We both enjoyed the aquarium.

Our last night there, we went to dinner with Mike, Meg, Nick, Kelly, Jacob and Katie.  The most enjoyable night we have had in awhile and we look forward to seeing them again. 

Tomorrow we head for Tennessee.

Summer’s End

Well, here we go again.  We are getting toward the end of our summer and preparing to head out for new adventures.  Our summer on OBX has been very interesting – warm and windy, but interesting.

We finally made it to Hatteras Point, where the warm and cool currents meet.  The actual point was fenced off until later in the summer because it was being used as a seabird nesting area, but we could get close.  Pretty cool sight!

Last month we went up to Richmond for my annual VA physical.  As we try to do in many cities we took Uber into the city for dinner at a great NC barbecue restaurant and walked around the Riverwalk area.  They are trying to revive the downtown area like so many cities are doing lately, combining modern shops and restaurants with some of Richmond’s history.  All along the walk they displayed historical references to the once thriving canal trade and the slave trail.  This has been a recurring theme for us, all through the South.  This was an era that is thankfully in our past but needs to be remembered.

The next day we went to Petersburg, staying a a small hotel in an area of the city that also is in the throes of renovation.  It is still very much a work in progress but the city’s nightlife is starting to return.  Mary and I were able to walk a short distance to an Italian restaurant that had seating in an outdoor courtyard.  There we had a nice, quiet, romantic dinner, afterward walking around as the nightlife started to come alive.

When we first came to OBX we crossed a long bridge that passed through the northern end of Roanoke island.  We have gone back to Roanoke several times, the first time to have lunch and walk around the quaint downtown of Manteo.  On our return visit a few weeks later, we stopped at the Fort Raleigh National Historical Site.  This site tells the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the inhabitants of which mysteriously disappeared without a trace sometime between 1587 & 1590.  There are plays depicting the mystery and much of the town of Manteo refers to it.

Our 3rd trip to Roanoke took us to the southern end of the island to the fishing village of Wanchese.  It is a very small village with not too much in the way of a “downtown” but the drive was scenic and we had about the best seafood lunch yet at a place called Oneal’s.  As a side note, Manteo and Wanchese were names of 2 native leaders who made the trip back to England and were greeted by Sir Walter Raleigh, thus being the first immigrants from the New World.

We are scheduled to leave Hatteras at the end of this month for our next trip.  For about 5 weeks we will travel to Atlanta, Cleveland, TN, Chicago, Mitchell, SD, Albuquerque, NM, Boulder City, NV, finally stopping for the winter in southern California.  Our anticipated plan is to stay out west for a year or so, seeing California, Oregon, Washington, and parts of western Canada.  We can hardly wait!

Life on a Sandbar

The Outer Banks stretches some 200 miles from northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, with the Cape Hatteras National Seashore starting with Bodie (pronounced “body”) and extending about 70 miles to Ocracoke Island.  Its’ width varies from about 3.5 miles at Buxton to a couple hundred yards in places.  Cape Hatteras is served by a single, 2-lane highway, NC Hwy 12, which can be a challenge during high season from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Houses and most businesses are built on stilts to lift them above the water in times of flood.  The entire cape is really just a sandbar.  A water sports, fishing, sun-worshipping, kite-boarding, beach-walking paradise but on a really cool sandbar.

About half way down is the town of Rodanthe where we are spending the summer at Camp Hatteras.  Approximately 100 yards east of our RV is the Atlantic Ocean which we can hear almost constantly, while about the same distance to our west is Pamlico Sound.  The mainland of North Carolina is roughly 30 miles across the sound, so we don’t see land in either direction.  We do get beautiful sunrises and awesome sunsets on an almost daily basis.  The ocean has a lot of wave action owing to the tides so we see many surf-fishers and the catch seems to be pretty good.  The sound side is more protected and is much calmer.  Here we see dozens of kite-boarders making use of the never-ending breezes.  Definitely a water-lover’s playground.

Last week we drove to the southern end to the town of Hatteras Village to visit the Graveyard of the Atlantic museum.  The entire length of Cape Hatteras is the resting place of hundreds of shipwrecks, dating from as far back as our country’s early days until the present.  One of the first iron-clad warships, the Monitor, foundered and sank in a storm off the coast.  In WWII, German u-boats sank a large number of ships just of the coast. Since the water is only about 15-20 feet deep, the Hatteras coast is particularly treacherous.  There are several lighthouses standing vigil all up and down the cape, with some that the public are allowed to climb.

We stopped at the Hatteras light but did not climb it.  The museum nearby told the story of how the lighthouse was moved about 1,500 feet further inland when erosion threatened the original position.  Erosion is probably not a good word to use here.  Since Hatteras is a sandbar, the prevailing southwesterly wind tends to blow the sand westward, taking some from the eastern side and slowly moving it to the west.  They figure the new location of the lighthouse is safe in its’ new home for a long time to come.

Not far from the lighthouse is a really cool feature of nature on Hatteras Point.  This is where the cape is at its’ widest and it is shaped sort of like a dog-leg.  The waters off the point are where the cool Labrador Current flow from the north and the warmer Gulf Stream currents meet.  It’s possible to actually view where the 2 meet up and the fishing is supposed to be great here also.

So far we are enjoying our time here and will continue our story next time.

On to OBX 2

Vicksburg is a city that I would like to investigate a little deeper.  Site of a famous Civil War battlefield and steeped in history, there is a lot to see there.  Unfortunately we couldn’t get to the battlefield because of the rainy weather but we intend on coming back this way.  So we hunkered down, restocked some supplies. We also met some nice folks from Canada and were able to sit and have a beer with them.

We drove on to Heflin on the Georgia-Alabama line and stopped at a small park that was basically a gravel parking lot with rv hookups.  The real surprise, however, was the attached restaurant.  Great service and excellent food.  This leg of our trip was longer than usual at 352 miles.  We don’t usually go that far in a day, but we were trying to make up some lost time, so we were in bed early.

Off to Livingston, SC, the next day.  Nice park that was adjoining a flea market.  We walked over but they had decided to close early.  A couple booths were still set up and we hung around, looking at much the same stuff we see at the the other flea markets in Texas, Florida, etc.

One night in Livingston and we set out for Four Oaks, NC, our last stop before OBX.  We are really excited to return to the Outer Banks, Hatteras, Rodanthe and the rest of the area, but we wanted to take a couple days to decompress.  We lucked out and found the best Mexican restaurant we have been to in quite awhile.  The restaurants around Mercedes were good but El Sol of Four Oaks was exceptional!  Mary found out they had lengua (look it up) on the menu and they prepared fajitas using lengua and shrimp just for her!  A great way to end a day of relaxing.

Day 2 we went to Smithville, home of Ava Gardner, then checked out a local winery.  Got to give them an A for effort but the wines they had were not our taste.

Finally we arrived at Camp Hatteras, our home through the summer.  We spent a week here a couple years ago but it was late March, too early for most of the businesses.  We did go to the Wright Brothers museum and will make it a point to go back.  We intend to immerse ourselves in the local atmosphere, a combination of beach, fishing and history.  We are here and ready for summer.  Yeah, we miss our Minnesota friends a lot; the decision to come to Hatteras was difficult.  Our goal, however, is to travel more and get to the corners of this country we haven’t seen yet, while we still can.

Your homework is to watch (or rewatch) the movie “Nights in Rodanthe”.  FYI – pronounced RO-DAN-THE.