Hello everyone and welcome back to a new season of TheVanStopsHere blog . For anyone new, we post the blog every 2 weeks and post the spending calendar once a month.
We are officially back on the road again. We enjoyed the beautiful fall colors in Raquette Lake and then it started getting a little too cold for us so we headed out.
Our first stop was to Barbara and Franks cabin in Blossvale for some Moochdocking in their driveway. It’s one of our favorite places to stay. The food is top notch.
From there we came to our cabin to check on the ATV and to spend a few days enjoying the fall colors here in Western NY.
We took a drive to Oleander to have lunch at one of our favorite places. The Beef n Barrel Restaurant. We always get the same thing every time we go. The Beef on Weck for Greg and the Beefeaters Julienne Salad for me. It’s so good every time!!
We had one yucky rainy day here where we stayed indoors. Our plan was to watch a few movies that we downloaded on Netflix but it seems the day got away from us and we never watched them. That seems to happen a lot with us.
Our neighbor at the cabin, Joe, came up for a visit while we were here. He invited us over to his cabin for a nice Italian dinner of pasta and sauce with meatballs and pork. It was delicious. After dinner he helped us to get the ATV out of our shed and into his shed which meant Greg and Joe had to push it through the woods while I steered. Once out of the woods, he was able to tow it with his Side by Side back to his place where he will tinker around with it and hopefully get it running for us.
We headed out of the woods and back into civilization which meant we definitely needed to take showers. We stopped at a Loves Truck Stop about an hour from our cabin. They charge $15 a person for showers there which to me seems a bit pricey but when it’s necessary, you just gotta pay. Plus the shower rooms are super nice and towels are included.
Once we got ourselves all cleaned up, we headed to Tioga Downs Casino. We just made it in time for the 12 dollar lunch buffet. The peanut butter pie was amazing!!
We both won and then lost and then won again and then lost again. Breaking even is like winning for us. At 6 pm we scored twenty dollar tickets to go see a Neil Diamond impersonator. The show was in the event center and was actually pretty good. We knew all the songs and had a good time.
We had an uneventful night in the van in the parking lot there. The next morning we went in for coffee and hung out a bit in the lobby.
Hit the road again and headed toward Pennsylvania to visit with Greg’s brother’s family. Pennsylvania Diesel prices are $6.59 a gallon. That’s really TERRIBLE!! It’s a full 2 dollars more than regular gasoline. Not good for vanlifers like us, but we will manage and the show must go on. we had a great time visiting them.
Next day headed back in the road for another hour and a half drive. For those following the blog for the first time, we rarely drive more that 90 minutes each day. It’s a great way to travel. So 90 minutes from Dave and Sherrys house is town called Bethlehem. We have been there in the past and likes it a lot so we decided to head back. The casino there is HUGE!! It’s almost too big to enjoy, especially coming from Tioga Downs Casino which is more our style. We gambled a little and then had steak and cheese whiz sandwiches for lunch. Currently we are sitting in the lobby of the hotel watching a little Sunday Football.
We took a walk into the town of Bethlehem to have some ice cream for desert. It’s a really cute college town. Lots of choices and fun things to do. Plus the giant steel mill is just magnificent to explore. They have a raised boardwalk that describes the steel mill and everything about it.
We had a pleasant night in the Casino Parking Lot. The entire hotel is under construction, tripling in size. The construction workers started pouring in at 6:50 to work. It was great people watching for me, I’m an early riser. I headed back into the casino in the morning. It was pretty empty which is exactly how I like. I also find the slot machines to be a bit more loose in the mornings so I did pretty well for myself.
Next day we headed south to visit with my Dad and Rosemarie. We had a nice lunch with them. Rosemarie made Italian Wedding Soup which is my favorite. After lunch they took us to this place called Bell Works. It’s a huge, huge building that used to be a laboratory and now it’s office space and shops and restaurants.
From there we continued on south, in search of warmer weather. Unfortunately a cold front is taking over the entire east coast so we won’t be finding any warmer weather anytime soon. We did however find a beautiful State Park in Delaware called Trap Pond State Park. For some reason this state park was a part of Passport America which we are members if so we got the campsite for 50 percent off. It’s a beautiful park on a lake with great hiking and biking trails. The cold weather did not stop us From exploring.
Next day we bought a couple of discs. That’s what they called frisbees these days. Greg and I then headed over to the 18 hole disc golf course. It’s basically hiking through the woods and you see how many throws it will take to get your disc into the metal chained structure. Greg wound up beating me by 6 throws. He scored 74 and I scored 80. Par for the course was 54 to put it into perspective how bad we are at this sport. But it’s better than sitting around freezing our butts off in this cold weather.
We gathered up some fire wood and had a nice fire after dinner.
We headed south toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel and stayed overnight at the visitor center there. They had a nice hiking trail that we took to overlook the marsh.
Woke up in the morning to a truck parked way too close to us.
Next day we headed over the very long 17 mile bridge that goes into the water in two different spots. They built the tunnels between the bridges so that big ships could pass by and as we were driving and about to enter one of the tunnels, a huge ship passed by.
We got to Colonial Williamsburg nice and early and had the whole day to explore. We parked the van in the visitor center and walked over to the Historic Town. It was a ton of walking but a very enjoyable time. We are both lunch and dinner in the historic taverns. The servers and everyone in town dresses in the colonial time period and they pretty much stay in character the whole time. At night they fill these hanging baskets with wood and light them up. I’ve never seen that before. We loved the way it looked.
We walked back to the visitor center before dinner and got the van. We found a paid overnight parking lot at the Williamsburg Inn. So for 15 dollars we got to stay in the lot pretty close by to the historical area. We were able to enjoy the night time activities and not have to worry about driving at night. We knew we were safe here as the rooms in this Inn are $979.00 a night. We went inside and checked it out. The lobby was absolutely beautiful.
Next morning we headed to the market square in Williamsburg which was a quick walk over. We had some Arabian pasties for breakfast. They were sooo good. Then we drove to Jamestown. We went to the historic area. This was the first settlement here in America. I think the year was 1607. We spent most of the day over there looking at all the stuff that they dug up at this huge archeological site.
From there we headed south again. It’s starting to warm up a bit but still not shorts weather. We decided to take the ferry over to the main land of Virginia and take some back roads to our next spot for the night which is a Harvest Host location.
When we arrived at the Harvest Host spot, they were having a private event so we had to change our plans. We decided to have some Mexican food for dinner and then head to the Loves Travel Stop for the night.
Next day, headed a little further south to Cashie River Treehouse Village in Windsor NC. They have these cool treehouses that you can rent for $70. they are raised up and overlook the river.
We stayed in a regular tent site which was fine. The bathhouse was brand new and the laundry room was free. We’ve been traveling for many years and have never seen a free laundry room at a campground. What a bonus find!! plus they had a 9 hole disc golf course.
From there we headed another big two hour drive to cedar Point Campground. Sites here with electric were $27. They had an awesome boardwalk hike over the marsh. We also were able to ride the bikes into town and do a little food shopping. The sites were large and very private. A great campground.
Next day we decided to drive a little longer than usual and put in a full 3 hours to get to Myrtle Beach. We love the State Park there.the tent sites are $40 which includes electric and water. Plus it’s a very easy walk to the beach. We were able to catch a beautiful sunrise this morning.
There’s a disc golf course across the street that we tried. Another 18 holes under our belt. Greg is definitely getting better and consistently beats me at every hole but according to the pars in each hole we pretty much suck at this sport. But it is more fun than simply walking through the woods.
The beach is is great and pretty quiet as far as beaches go. Thankful that we brought our little backpack chairs with us. They are so light and handy to bring to the beach.
Checkout at the State Park was noon but at 11:20 we had a worker sort of harassing us to leave the site. So we quickly finished packing up the van and left at 11:30. Never really understood the whole rush us to get off the site cause check in is not till 2 and it’s not like we made a mess of the campsite. Basically we drive off and the next person drives on.
We decided to go back to the Santee Coastal Reserve. We’ve been there a bunch of times. It’s free and the campsites are spread out and very private plus they have good trails and last year it was the one and only place we ever saw a snake. We got there and there were plenty of spots open. Greg got out of the car to get a pay envelope. He made the mistake of leaving his car door open and a SWARM of mosquitoes got in the van. We spent the next 10 minutes killing mosquitoes!! You could see hundreds of them outside by the windows trying to get in. After we filled out the envelope, Greg very bravely stepped outside to walk over to deposit the envelope in the slot. I watched him swatting and then start RUNNING!! He ran the whole way there and back and there were mosquitoes ALL OVER HIM!! He got back in the van and we spent another 25 minutes killing mosquitoes. Needless to say, we did not leave the van that night or the next morning. It really was the worst we have ever seen and we’ve been to a lot of places.
So we hit the road and headed to Charleston. We just walked a bit, stopped and used the rest rooms in the visitor center and decided since last year we walked and walked this town that this year, we’ll skip it and head to a new town that we haven’t seen before. So we headed to Beaufort, South Carolina. It’s a cute little town on the water with lots of shops and restaurants. On the way there we stopped at a cute spot that sold all kinds of cider. We picked up a bottle of peach cider. It was delicious.
The restaurants in Beaufort were pretty crowded but we found one with outside seating that was pretty good and we had a nice lunch.
We left there and drove to the Cracker Barrel nearby where we were planning on staying but it was just to early to call it a night so we went to a nearby park instead. It was a beautiful, newly built park and there was a Friday Night under the lights high school football game about to start. We got some food from the concession and watched the game. Brought back great memories of when Kenny used to play. From there we drove to the Pilot truck stop for a good nights sleep.
On our way to Georgia today. We decided to bypass Savannah this year. We headed to Richmond Hill to visit Tia. Greg and Tia worked together many years on the Carnival Cruises. We had some lunch and a nice visit in Richmond Hill area.
Tia recommended Jekyl island and Brunswick Georgia. we drove to the gates of Jekyl Island, but before paying the 12 dollars to enter we went inside the gift shop there to do some research. We decided to bypass the island and head to Brunswick instead so that I could go to Mass and then out to dinner. They had lots of places to choose from there. We decided on a Thai place and it was great. We had a nice meal and then drove to the Loves Truck stop for some sleep. It’s pretty much impossible to get a spot in a campground on a Saturday night especially the weekend of Halloween, hence the reason why the last 2 nights have been spent at truck stops.
Our last two nights of October were spent in campgrounds. The first one we had been to a couple of times before but we like it a lot. It’s right on a pond . (Ocean Pond Campground) The tent sites are only 12 bucks and they have nice hot showers. Plus the sunsets are pretty spectacular.
We headed out towards Gainesville, Florida. It’s a big college town. We found an awesome park with another 18 hole disc golf course. We played and Greg beat me again by 9 throws. We are both getting better at it for sure.
From there we headed a short drive to Paynes Prairie Park. We took a nice bike ride and then settled in for the night. The mosquitoes are eating me alive and the van is way too hot to go inside just yet. But it’s better than working. I just loaded myself up with someMore deet and will stay Outdoors till bedtime.
That’s it for October. Enjoy the journey.
Lorraine and Greg.