Tuesday, April 18, 2017

From newyorker.com: #Vanlife

This is a long, but entertaining article about #Vanlife and a couple's connection to work, life and social media on the road. Great piece.

h/t Nancy

Friday, April 14, 2017

Back to the Journey of Everyday Life

While driving home on the final leg of this road trip, I came across a good read about happiness. The ages 23 and 69 were cited as the happiest. Both the blogson and husband are presently those ages. I fully subscribe to the 10 points illustrated in this piece:

Revealed: The two surprising ages when we're at our HAPPIEST (and why it's bad news if you're in your middle years)

Researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences have identified 23 and 69 as the happiest ages in adult life, but discovered satisfaction dips in middle age.

Read full story

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Paynes Prairie State Park

Ah yes! Back to nature. Nature really does have a way of soothing the soul. What better way to spend Holy Thursday than surrounded by the beautiful blessings found only in nature? The Florida state parks continue to impress us.

My sister, Mary Ann, would fondly refer to her new home in low country SC as Jurassic Park. The lush overgrown flora; the abundant, scary and diverse creatures; crocs and gators that look like dinosaurs; camouflaged snakes galore are all reminders for me of Jurassic Park in FL.

But I love it all! It's a thrill and adventure to explore this amazing sunshine state. Here are some final shots of this trip and scenes from hiking and biking in Paynes Prairie State Park on Thursday. Bringing it home tomorrow.

Thanks for following along. Happy Easter!🐣

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Campsite Food Delivery

After our bike ride and hike around lower Sherando Lake, I enjoyed the picture-perfect Tuesday from my screened-in bed. Stomach pains and headaches had me in and out of slumber most of the afternoon and through the night.

We hit the road early Wednesday and had an uneventful journey to SC. We were hoping to meet big sis, Mar, for dinner but had trouble getting a mutually convenient campsite.

The KOAs are a last resort for me. They always seem like parking lots...campers right on top of each other. I particularly dislike campgrounds that allow long-term tenants, too. Kinda creeps me out. We had to settle for South Point KOA in Yemassee SC. The good news is that they have pizza and chicken wings and will deliver to your campsite!

A new road trip adventure and test for my queasy belly.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

NJ to VA

Monday morning is a bear when school and work are on the agenda. Luckily, we don't really have that angst anymore. Mondays just remind us of how much we ate and drank all weekend long.

We said our good-byes during the hustle of the morning. With a freezer full of NJ bagels, we started our journey south. The traffic was much lighter than a week ago heading north. We were in VA in no time at all.

We plotted Sherando Lakes Campground on the GPS and made our way through the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests outside of Charlottesville. It is the most beautiful campground we have visited in our camper van. National parks really are the best.

There is limited internet, but I did take advantage of this 4G moment after our hike and bike ride Tuesday morning.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sunday in the Park

The fun continues in Bergen County with a visit to the Saddle River wild duck park. The boys had their scooters and we had Solo. Everyone enjoyed the spring colors and scents around the lake.

An afternoon nap refreshed the young ones and we made our way to Ally's friends' Shaina and Eric's house for a backyard visit. The kids ran around while we sipped wine and watched the Masters golf.

It was Chinese carry-out and a backyard fire back at Ally's for the last hoorah. The kids were exhausted and so were we!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Family Egg Hunt and Filet with Friends

We rolled into the Crestwood Lake parking lot moments before the scream of the starting whistle. Every kid in the north Jersey suburb was eagerly awaiting the shrill approval for a chaotic dash into a field of Easter candy.

Our little guys were happy to see GramKat, Papa and Solo. They collected some candy and we were happy to get out of the brisk morning air and into the warmth of their sweet home.

Ally and I made a tenderloin filet dinner feast for long-time friends Patty and Mike. A good day of fun and, of course, food, family and friends.

Gyros and Sake

After the teens went to school, the grown ups went out for breakfast at Edie's diner before starting the days' errands. Greek Eats was a inspiration at lunch. Fresh, fast, healthy Greek food could be a great business model for a Florida venture.

We reconvened for Friday dinner at the fabulous, family fave, Yumi Japanese restaurant in Sea Bright on the shore. Chris treated us to a memorable Sake to compliment the terrific food.

Back at home, Alexis got us into West Side Story on the TV before bed.

Bill made the traditional NJ bagel run on Saturday morning before our departure up the Garden State Parkway to Ally's.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Selfie with Teens

Our last night of camping on the way up to NJ was in Pine Grove PA. After bison burgers on the grill, our campsite neighbors joined us for a fireside chat. Gui and Maggie were heading home to Canada in an enormous RV and trailer. We had a lively conversation and shared a love for SWFL. Their seasonal home is right over the bridge from ours. Small world.

It was a tedious three hour hour ride in pouring rain. Finally in NJ, Kristy and Chris and the kids welcomed us with a fabulous dinner feast and wine pairing. We love seeing everyone and the kids are as sweet as can be.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

FL Sunshine Every Damn Day is Boring

It takes a road trip to fully appreciate diversity in weather and road conditions. It's 42 degrees, raining and chock full of potholes on our morning drive through PA.

Looking to the bright side, these April showers are going to make for a beautiful return trip. Spring flora! 🌸

The Modern Jiffy Pop

Remember the old tin foil pans filled with corn and oil for popping around the campfire? Jiffy Pop is probably pretty unhealthy by today's standards. Bill found this silicone popper on Amazon. It's perfect for the camper van but not nearly as much fun to watch. Nothing like the anticipation of that foil bubble growing and the explosion of kernels to follow.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

All We Have Is Time

When we took off for this trip to NJ, we had two weeks to invest in travel. Considerations for sightseeing and extended stays included Smokey Mountain National Park, Asheville NC, Helen GA and SC coastal areas. Instead, we opted to drive our usual route up north but for only 4-5 hours a day; allowing us to enjoy an afternoon of camp wherever the road takes us in route.

Getting there IS half the fun!

The picture is my view out the camper van window from bed Wednesday morning at National Bridge VA.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Marshmallows and Bailey's

We woke to clear, dry skies in Columbia on Tuesday morning. The beautiful morning at camp revealed all the spring buds and cherry blossoms of the forest. After another leisurely start to the travel day, we were back on the highway at 9:30am.

Getting through D.C. is always first and foremost in the route decision and, again, we went with avoidance. With that, we meandered westerly through the hillsides of NC and Virginia before settling into camp at Natural Bridge, VA.

It's fun to get on the dinner prep early and enjoy the late afternoon with snacks with a beer. Our feast included lemon marinated grilled chicken, puréed cauliflower, steamed green beans and dilly coleslaw.

With the drought concerns in the southern states, it's nice to have a campfire again. We celebrated with toasted marshmallows and Bailey's on the rocks for dessert!

Such a lovely season to take a road trip.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Sesquicentennial State Park, Columbia SC

It was a big day driving on I-95N out of Jacksonville. All the snowbirds seem to be heading up and a band of weather followed us through several states. Rather than press on in heavy traffic and heavy rain, we pulled off the road short of our intended destination. 

There were plenty of options for hunkering down in the Columbia, SC area. We chose Sesquicentennial State Park; a 1,400 acre nature preserve and pine forest, which offers camping, hiking, biking trails and water activities around a 30 acre lake. 

While keeping a close eye on the thunderstorms in the area, we plugged into our cozy little world of the Airstream. 

Eat Play Love

The Ponte Vedra gateway to love and fun is always a favorite stop on our adventures. The family visits fill our hearts with joy.

Steph and Dewayne were welcoming hosts and nourished us in plenty of ways. Between a group bike trip to town center, a mini-binge on "Big Little Lies," steak tacos, cold brew, cold brews, Armada soccer games, a rousing game of Clue and shrimp on the barbie, we were indeed nourished.

The little snippets of life with kids and grandkids make for the best adventures on life's little road trip.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Weird Ass Wildlife in Florida

There are some seriously disturbing creatures in Florida. While camping at Lake Kissimmee State Park, I totally shrugged off the wanted-dead-or-alive-like posters alerting campers with a larger-than-life picture of a poisonous caterpillar lurking in the grounds. Meh. Me no worry.

Hours after my departure from the wilderness, while parked in the suburbs of Jacksonville, puttering around in the Airstream, I was startled to spot a slithering caterpillar in my galley. EW! Bill rescued me from death and removed the creature from my counter. Then, while getting ready for bed...ANOTHER CATERPILLAR SIGHTING on the wall in the camper! OH NO!

Thoughts of being eaten alive by poisonous caterpillars in my sleep kept me wide-eyed for a good part of the night.

UGH. I miss the younger, fearless adventurer I used to be.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Lake Kissimmee State Park

The last day of March was a perfect time to hit the road again in our camper van. After a slow start in the morning, recuperating from the ICC Wine Club dinner extravaganza, we pulled out at 2:30pm.

Deciding to go off the Interstate, we took took an adventurous route and ended up at out-of-the-way, but absolutely beautiful, Lake Kissimmee State Park. Luckily, they had the best camp site in the park available for us. It was private and lush. One could only imagine the wildlife lurking in the heavy growth.

After spaghetti dinner at camp, we tried to find the lake, but we were too tired for an extended hike. Reading in bed was more like it.

Lake Kissimmee is now one of our favorite FL parks and definitely worth the extra mile detour.