Chief Long Trailer and a New Start

We left Florida and headed North for two reasons. One we wanted to get Makai’s feet checked out again after surgery. Two, our beloved camper and home for the past three months was having a few problems. One of them was that the electric hot water heater was burned up. Two, the awning was starting to crack  in various places. Three, the cruise control went out when the ABS brake system went out.

At Gee Gee’s faving fun with forts: IMG_3960

Once we arrived back at our home base in Cumming, GA we got Makai checked out and decided that a new home would be needed. After about 15 minutes of looking (we knew we had very little time) it was decided to trade in the Winnebago Vista and go for a regular style travel trailer. Luckily, my wonderful parents said we could borrow my Dad’s new Ram Truck to pull the camper for a few weeks until our boat was
finally ready. Here is the new trailer.

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We picked up the Forest River 29BH on Tuesday April 2nd . After 48 hours of moving items from one camper to another we spent the first night in my parent’s driveway. It all seemed to work out so we got back into the road on Friday the 7th . Since it was a new camper and I was not used to driving a 36 foot trailer we made the short trip up to Hiawassee, Ga. We ended up spending an entire week at Bald Mountain Campground there.

On Saturday my sister’s family, the Wolfe pack, joined us. (Their last name is Wolfe, hence the nickname). Since she has three kids, Nolan, Heidi and Cora about the same age as our three they had a great weekend playing. Nothing too exciting just good old fashioned family fun; putt-putt, handmade boat races on the creek and fishing were all on the menu.

On Sunday our other friends, the Deraney’s arrived and the Wolfe pack had to go home. Tammy and Joseph Deraney lived in our cul-de- sac when we owned a house in Gainesville. We all hiked Brasstown Bald and had a great time until they left on
Tuesday. It was bittersweet knowing we would not see family or friends for a while.

The next few days we did lots of school and squeezed in a great hike at Shoal Creek Falls. The kids thought the best past was the drive there when we had to cross a small river. We left Hiawassee on Friday and headed north to Asheville.


We did not have a reservation but ended up getting lucky with one of the only walk in full hookup sites at Powhaten Lake Campground in Pisgah National Forest. Day one consisted of some great mountain biking. The trails were pretty technical but the kids did great. They also had a great time playing on the river that ran through the park.

On day two we drove out to Chimney Rocks State park. Since the elevator was broken we all got to hike the 500 or so stairs to the top. We made it and were treated to
some great views. Since Makai finally got to use his new camera on the hike we even got a few extra pictures. He did a great job for a six year old with his first camera.

After the hike we saw a few signs for a local farm and thought it may be interesting to stop. As we pulled in we saw about 200 cars in the lot which was surprising. Hickory Nut Family Farm ended up being a great stop as it was a tour stop for a new indie movie about local farmers across the country. The couple speaking had driven to all fifty states in their converted bus RV and interviewed family owned farm owners. In addition we got some great local eggs and some of the best bread we have eaten outside of
Europe. They even had a small course for kids to ride tricycles and some culvert slides built into the hill.

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The next day brought a 24 hour rain storm so we caught up with school and watched ET for the first time as a family.

On Monday the 16 th we did a tour of the Biltmore Estate. We all had a great time and the kids seemed to really absorb much of it. Makai took tons of pictures with his new camera. The flowers below are one of the few in focus:)

The next day we were able to meet up with an old kayaking buddy of mine Nick Litsas. HIs wife and three kids joined us for the day. We visited the Carl Sandberg house, a great playground and had dinner. The kids had a great time. Thanks Nick and Heather!

 

We then left the Asheville area and headed north into Virginia. We made it as far at Ft. Chiswell. It was a very basic campground but it did have a sorely needed laundry room.  While there we dropped into the local county rec center and had a great time at the pool and the climbing wall. Everyone liked the climbing, even Eva.

We are headed further North to the DC and Philadelphia area. Give us a shout out if anyone is in the area.

Swamps, Keys, Family and Friends

 

On March 10 we headed back south to Florida but we were not alone this time. My parents joined us in their camper. The first night was spent in Valdosta, GA at Lake Park Campground. The evening would have been perfect except my parents did not have hot water. Pops got so ticked off since it was a new camper he wanted to return it, his boat, his house and just about anything else he could think of. We tried everything but they resigned to just take showers in the bathhouse. Well Mom saved the day again when she noticed the handles in the camper were plumbed backwards from normal. Turn on the cold water and the hot water just kept coming. Disaster averted once again and everyone had hot showers.

The next day we drove further south to Long Pointe Park in Melbourne, Florida. The weather was perfect and the kids had a great time in the large field behind the camper. That evening we had a great hike to a Scout Island that was connected by a foot bridge to the campsite. Some great little trails and the views were great.

The next day we stopped at MacArthur State Park near West Palm Beach. This was a neat little park with beautiful beaches. They even picked you up in a golf cart to bring you from the visitor center to the beach area. A couple hours later we were back at Markham Park in Ft Lauderdale. We ate at a local Italian Eatery that started great but they only had one waiter and the cook was out sick. We finally got our food about an hour later. Well, everyone except for Eva. They forgot her all together. After some apologies they said they would rush her food. Twenty minutes later they brought out her food. She grabbed her fork, moved the cheese around and started to eat when she asked “where is the grouper?”   The meal given to her was for the lady at the table next to us. The waiter had messed up again. Funny thing was the waiter still gave the plate to the lady next to us that Eva has stuck her fork into. At least we ate cheap!

The reason for my parents joining us in Florida was to see our new to be floating home. We visited our boat the following day and were not happy when we found out that no work had been done again. I had to look on the positive side and still be happy that our boat was floating while others hit by Irma were sitting at the bottom of the ocean. We headed back to Markham Park and had a great evening bike ride around the park. My son, Marco, complained that he wanted to ride the mountain bike trails. I could not take everyone on them so I made a promise to get up early and ride.

Early the next morning Marco, Mei, Eva and I headed out while Makai went to my parents camper to watch Looney Tunes. We had a great ride and Marco and Mei amazed me with their trail skills.

Our next stop was Everglades National Park. After a stop at the visitor center for maps and guides we headed into the swamp. The first stop was a great boardwalk hike where we saw some beautiful bromeliads. We then drove further into the swamp to our campground at Flamingo. If you look on a map you will see how Flamingo is really in the absolute middle of nowhere. Everglades Park Map

The sunrises were amazing so it was worth a morning run to the beach to see one.

At the park you could take a short bike ride from the campground to the rest of the park. We saw some nesting Ospreys and a number of Crocodiles when we went canoeing there. There is a huge croc in the picture below but they were so well camouflaged it is tough to see.

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My parents headed home on the 16th and we headed up to John Prince Park north of Vero Beach. The park was huge and we had a nice site right on the water. There were multiple lakes, tons of playgrounds and a five mile paved bike trail. We took the trail all of the way to a splashpad the last day we were there so the kids could play.

Next up were the keys. We were all excited beacuse our friends, the Haramija’s, were joining us. We spent the first four nights at the Key Largo Kampground and Marina. It as all “old Florida” and real kitchy. There was a pool that the kids loved and a small beach to watch the sunrise. The best part was it was Spring Break so NO HOME SCHOOL! We swam, drank a few beers, and just hung out. It was great to see April, Darren and Dylan.

We did take a day trip out to Grecian Reef off of Key Largo to go snorkeling. With winds in the 20-25 mph range and some swells I was worried about the kids. When we got out there we all jumped in and saw some beautiful fish; Barracuda, Parrotfish, Spotted Grouper and much more. After about 30 minutes the kids got cold so I brought them back. Eva and I each jumped in for a few more minutes and got our money’s worth. I was so proud of the kids. The waves made snorkeling tough and we had kids that were 6, 7 and 9 in the water. The next youngest person was probably 18 or so.

On Friday the 23rd we headed to Boyd’s Key West Camprground. We spent all day Saturday in Key West. Duval Street, the southernmost point in the continental U.S., Sloppy Joe’s, Mallory Square; we did all of the touristy stuff. Everyone was exhausted when we caught an Uber ride back to the campsite. We said “bye” to our friends on Sunday and drove back to Markham Park again. Two days and three mountain bike rides later we headed back to Georgia. We had another appointment for Makai’s feet. Crossing our fingers this will be the last one for a while.