Birthday Time

Dates: Aug. 28 to 29, 2018

Location: Wytheville KOA, Wytheville, Virginia

After we left Kentucky, we traveled through West Virginia and into Virginia for a stop at Wytheville. On the way, we stopped at Tamarack which is a big building with a lot of crafts and other things made in West Virginia. We also ate lunch in their cafe.

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We arrived mid-afternoon at the Wytheville KOA and set up our trailer. They put us in a new area with a lot of nice, new pull-throughs.

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We decided to cheat for dinner and ordered a couple Hunts Brothers pizzas from the campground’s pizza counter. They offered to deliver it, but Malcolm walked up to pick it up.

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The next morning we hitched up and headed on to North Carolina.

Dates: Aug. 29 to 31, 2018

Location: Falls Lake SRA – Rolling View Campground, Durham, North Carolina

We arrived at the campground in North Carolina mid-afternoon and set up the trailer. It was a 30 amp site, so we ran one air conditioner to cool off the rig the best we could in the 90+ degree weather. Fortunately, our site had a pretty good tree cover.

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After we got the rig set up and relaxed for a bit, we headed over to the Raleigh-Durham airport to pick up our daughter, Elizabeth, and our granddaughters Violet and Scarlet. They flew in to help us celebrate Malcolm’s cousin Theresa’s 50th birthday. We stopped at Cracker Barrel after the airport so that Elizabeth could get her southern cooking fix (they don’t have Cracker Barrel restaurants near Seattle).

The next day, we contacted Malcolm’s cousin for ideas of things we could do in the area and she suggested the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh. The girls had a great time. There were tons of interactive learning things to do. Even the adults found some fun stuff.

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Elizabeth Surfing

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Valerie Surfing

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Malcolm playing a tune on the musical stairs

After the museum visit, we headed to Theresa’s house for dinner and to map out our route there from the campground as well as find out where we were going to park the trailer over the Labor Day weekend at her place.

The next day we loaded everyone and hooked up the trailer to take it to Theresa’s place. We filled up the water tank on the trailer so we could reduce the need for water since Theresa was having problems with her water well.

Dates: Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, 2018

Location: Malcolm’s cousin Theresa’s House, Creedmoor, North Carolina

After we pulled in at Theresa’s house, Elizabeth and the girls got a surprise. Our son David had flown in for the weekend, as well, and had driven on over to Theresa’s house before we got there.

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Set up next to the barn at Theresa’s

We didn’t have enough power to run any air conditioners in the trailer at Theresa’s, so we opened windows and turned on the vent fans. We headed on into Durham for another fun field trip – The Lemur Center at Duke University. The girls had recently been reading about lemurs and the Lemur Center was mentioned in their books.

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Since Elizabeth had pre-arranged for five people for the tour, not knowing David was going to be there, Val decided to stay back in the gift shop while the rest of us went on the tour since they were otherwise booked full.

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The girls both picked out a couple of ringtail lemurs at the gift shop to take with them.

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After our Lemur Center visit, we decided to stop by Target and pick up a couple box fans to help keep the trailer comfortable.

On Saturday, Malcolm’s aunts had suggested we bring the girls over to the hotel where they were staying and go swimming in the pool. We had to stop by Target to go swimwear shopping then headed on to the hotel pool. We all had a good swim before heading back to the trailer, then out to a steakhouse for dinner with the whole family.

Violet wasn’t feeling good on Sunday morning, so we relaxed around the trailer. Malcolm helped Theresa and some of his family decorate up for the birthday dinner later in the day. Theresa’s birthday was on Sunday. One of Theresa’s friends brought some really good pulled pork and we had barbecue sandwiches with birthday cake for dessert.

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We visited with family late into the evening at Theresa’s house (in the air conditioning).

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Dates: Sept. 3 to 4, 2018

Location: Falls Lake SRA – Rolling View Campground, Durham, North Carolina

On Monday, which was Malcolm’s birthday, we pulled the trailer back over to Falls Lake so we could all have one evening of air conditioning and the ability to take showers, if desired, before Elizabeth and the girls flew back on Tuesday. David was going to ride back to Florida with us in the trailer.

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We met the family at Cracker Barrel for Malcolm’s birthday dinner and to say goodbye to the rest of the family members that were still in town.

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The two birthday cousins

On Tuesday, we took our time getting ready and about 2:00, Elizabeth and the girls headed to the airport in the rental car while we hitched up the trailer for the trip back to Florida. We had one minor glitch before we left and had to fix a slide out seal that had come loose. Malcolm and David took care of that and we were on our way.

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Across the Appalachians

Current Location: Ashland / Huntington West KOA, Argillite, Kentucky

We rolled out from the Newton’s early this morning. We said our goodbyes the night before so we could be on our way without waking everyone. After looking over maps and consulting with our guests, we found the best way out of the area. We didn’t even try using the GPS today. Once we were on the interstate, the remainder of the route was easy.

Today’s route took us down I-81 through Virginia and picking up I-64 west. We took I-64 west across the Appalachians into West Virginia. The West Virginia welcome center was our lunch stop. What we hadn’t noticed while climbing the mountains into West Virginia was that the temperature had dropped fairly dramatically. What started out as a planned lunch at a rest area picnic table became a lunch inside the truck. The temperature was in the low 60’s and the breeze was pretty stiff.

Welcome to West Virginia

Welcome to West Virginia

The drive through the mountains was fairly uneventful. There were a few long, steep climbs but no issues. On one climb, even though we were down to about 42 MPH, we were passing several semi trucks. The engine brake came in handy on several downhill stretches, as well. Today was a long travel day, distance-wise. About 415 miles. We think we’ve found our limit. Both of us were pretty antsy to get out of the truck by the time we arrived at our campground.

Appalachian Mountains

Appalachian Mountains

More mountains

More mountains

Once we got set up at our campsite, Malcolm called his aunt and uncle and they said to come on over. They grilled chicken, fish and vegetables for us. We had a great meal on their outside screen porch, then sat around and talked until late in the evening. On the way back to the campground, we found the Kentucky State Troopers out doing random drunk driving checks. They looked at Malcolm’s license and waved us on through.

Northern Virginia

Current Location: Newton’s House, Philomont, Virginia

This is a two day blog entry again. On Saturday morning, we packed up and headed out from the Holiday Trav-L-Park in Virginia Beach, Virginia and headed up the road to northern Virginia and the home of some of our long-time friends, the Newtons. We parked in their front yard and hooked up to their electric. We had put about 2/3 tank of water in the trailer before we unhooked in Virginia Beach.

On the way to the Newtons, our GPS took us through a very narrow, very twisty and windy road near our destination. I had previewed the trip and knew pretty much the route to take at that point, but for some reason trusted that the GPS might have known about a turn I missed during my manual review.

As a result, we ended up on a road that wasn’t much wider than our rig and with no good place to turn around. We ended up with some healthy scratches down the door side of the trailer from trees and limbs overhanging the roadway. Other than that, there were no incidents and we finally made it here safely. The area is beautiful, including the small farm that the Newtons live on. Here are a few pictures.

Front yard with our trailer parked.

Front yard with our trailer parked.

Back yard.

Back yard.

The cows.

The cows.

The ducks.

The ducks.

There are a lot of animals around, including Chumba, the pug. Malcolm and Chumba made friends really quick. Chumba liked helping Malcolm in the trailer.

Chumba

Chumba

We had a spaghetti dinner with the Newtons and visited with them for a while before we all got tired and headed to bed (we stayed in our trailer).

This morning (Sunday), we got up and dressed and drove one of the Newtons’ cars to church to meet up with them in Purcellville at the Purcellville Baptist Church. It was a very nice Memorial Day service.

After church, we all headed back to the house, fixed sandwiches and grabbed some other snacks and loaded everyone up in the Newtons’ Suburban and headed up to historic Harpers Valley, West Virginia. It is a very beautiful and historic area and was fun to visit. We could see three states from where we were (Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia).

View over the valley. Hill in the background is Maryland. Standing in West Virginia. Virginia is off to the right.

View over the valley. Hill in the background is Maryland. Standing in West Virginia. Virginia is off to the right.

 

Rows of old buildings housing shops and restaurants now.

Rows of old buildings housing shops and restaurants now.

While we were in Harpers Ferry, we got another stamp for our National Park Service Passport book. On the way out, we decided to go ahead and get the deluxe version of the passport book. We’ll have to transfer stuff over to it from our little book.

Tomorrow morning, we’re heading out to travel to Ashland, KY. We have reservations at the KOA. We’ll be visiting family and will probably visit Malcolm’s parents’ grave (Malcolm grew up in the area).