Saturday, April 27, 2013

Changes Are Coming

Hi Everyone. Sorry I haven't posted lately, but there hasn't been too much going on since we got home from our last camping trip. Gary continues to watch TV and sleep in me every night, and since he put the air conditioner in me, I hope he will do so even after the temperatures warm up. Usually when it gets too hot and muggy, he sleeps in the house. It's lonely without him, so I'm really hoping to have my camping buddy with me for awhile yet. He had some projects he was working on in the garage today, and when he finished, he started looking me over for some improvements he's been wanting to make. He removed the facing off my kitchen base cabinet, and then the pictures off my wall. There is definitely some wasted space in the kitchen cabinet that he plans to take advantage of. I'm not sure what he has planned for the pictures, but I guess I'll find out soon. Another area of wasted space is the cubby holes under my lower bunk bed. That space is never used, and I know he's planning on building drawers there for added storage. As far as the outside of me goes, Gary ordered a set of leveling jacks from an eBay vendor for all four of my corners. They will bolt to my frame, and will crank down with the handle that came with the jacks. One thing Gary isn't thrilled with when we camp, is dealing with my existing jacks. He has to crawl around on the ground to get them under me and adjusted. They also take up valuable space in the van. Those problems will be gone with the new jacks. I know that Gary is eager to get started on me, so I'm sure I'll have much more to show you and tell you about soon. Gary is in the house taking a shower right now, and we're gonna watch the NASCAR race together tonight. This is gonna be FUN!!! Bye for now.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Heading Home To St. Augustine

Man, I hated leaving Paynes Prairie today. It's so sad to know that our camping season has come to an end. I know that Gary will be "gamping" (garage camping) in me here at home until the heat keeps him inside the house, but not being out enjoying new places and revisiting our favorite parks for six whole months is going to be difficult. We pulled out of our campsite around 10AM. It looks pretty lonely without me in it, doesn't it? When Gary stopped at the ranger station to check out, he finally got the story behind the name "Puc Puggy" for which the campground is named. It's an indian name that was given to William Bartram the naturalist, and the man that first documented the prairie. The name means "flower gatherer". All the times we've been to Paynes Prairie, and we finally found out where that funny sounding name came from. After leaving the park, we headed south to McIntosh to check out some antique stores that were closed earlier in the week when Gary first saw them. We went to three places, and then headed towards home. We stopped at four other antique stores in Palatka along the way. None of the stores we went to were very large, so there wasn't a lot of time spent in any of them. From Palatka, it's about 30 miles to our home in St. Augustine. Our last photo opportunity was at the State Road 16 sign on Interstate 95, just one mile from home. And that pretty much concludes a camping season that started in mid-October. We had a wonderful time, with a total of 62 nights of camping in 20 different parks in 3 different states. Not bad! Gary has many improvements he wants to make to me over the summer, so I'll be posting from time to time with updates. Thank you all SO much for checking out my blog. Until next time....goodbye and goodnight from the Green Acres Garage in beautiful St. Augustine, FL.

Our Last Day Of The Camping Season

Well, I was totally wrong about Gary not doing much and just relaxing while we've been here at Paynes Prairie. Even with his bum knee, he has been VERY busy. Today, he headed up to Gainesville for some supplies at Wal-Mart. Just a few miles north of the park entrance on US441, he came across two things he didn't know were there. First, there is a small parking lot, and an entrance to the 2-1/2 mile Bolen's Bluff Trail. More on that later. Just a little bit north of the trail entrance, is an observation deck that stretches out into the prairie itself. He stopped for pictures while he was there, and walked out onto the relatively short deck. This park is BIG, and reaches out far beyond the confines of the main portion of the park. After getting what he needed at Wal-Mart, and finding an antique store with the aid of his handy-dandy smart phone navigator, he returned back to the campsite for lunch. His knee wasn't hurting, so after a couple of sandwiches, he returned to the Bolen's Bluff Trail to see what it was all about. He didn't walk the entire 2-1/2 mile distance, but he did go far enough to get to the prairie observation area just off the trail. Still not totally tired, he came back to the main part of the park, and headed down to the 50ft. observation tower near the visitor's center. The wind was blowing pretty well, and he relaxed for awhile and enjoyed the prairie view from the glider on the top level of the tower. After that, he came back to our campsite, recharged the camera battery, and headed out once again. This time, he walked over to the picnic area by the edge of Lake Wauberg. He had hoped to catch the many colors of the sunset over the lake, but the clouds got in the way. As for me, I like to relax when I camp. Gary can run around all he wants, but I enjoy just taking it easy. I really appreciate all the pics he takes so I'll have something to show you on my blog, but I wish he would slow it down a little a spend some time with me, his favorite camping buddy. It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks though. I'll post again when we get home.

A Busy Day At The Prairie

Gary woke up early, ate breakfast, fed the squirrels that were hanging out at our campsite, and hit the road. While I relaxed and was constantly entertained by the antics of my furry-tailed little friends, Gary was making the rounds to antique stores in the nearby towns of Micanopy, Williston, Reddick, and McIntosh. On the way back, a sign for an old trailer park caught his eye. He loves stuff like that. On occasion while towing me, he will spot something he wants to photograph, and we pull off the road so abrubtly, that it scares me to death. I think he forgets I'm right behind him sometimes. It was mid afternoon by the time Gary made it back to the campground. His right knee has been bothering him lately, and with all the walking he did at the antique stores, I figured he would be ready to rest after eating his late lunch. I was right. He played on the computer for awhile, watched TV, and took a short stroll through the park to take a few pics. Two spots down from us was a shiny new Airstream. Gary struck up a conversation with Sam, the Airstream's owner, and got to look at the inside of it. After talking about trailers for awhile, and sharing information about various state parks, Sam came down to visit with me. Nice guy, and he was very complimentary. That's Sam posing for a pic with me. I've never seen an Airstream as short as Sam's is. It is barely bigger than me. In looking around the campground, I was still the smallest and the oldest trailer in the place, but what else is new? One more day to go at Paynes Prairie before it's time to go. Oh NO!!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Getting Squirrely

I totally lost count of all the squrrels here. There are just WAY too many, and lets face it, they all look pretty much alike. I asked Gary if he would mind taking a few pics of some of my furry little buddies today, and he was more than happy to oblige. I've posted a few of my favorites. Aren't they cute? There were a bunch of them in the trees above me this morning, and they were dropping little twigs and leaves on me as they were chasing each other. At one point, Gary thought it was raining because there were so many things falling on my roof. No harm done, and it was pretty darn funny watching their acrobatics. Lots of other stuff happened today, but seeing all my squirrel buddies is what makes me the happiest. More soon from beautiful Paynes Prairie.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Paynes Prairie: As Comfortable As Home

I didn't think it would take much persuasion on my part to get Gary to take me camping again. He wanted to end our camping season in a fun place, and since Hunting Island in South Carolina was such a bummer, we obviously needed to go out one more time. So, we have returned to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. The park is only about 75 miles from home, and is absolutely our favorite inland Florida State Park. There are only two parks that we've ever been to, where we feel as comfortable in them as we do at home. General Coffee in Georgia is one, and Paynes Prairie is the other. Gary and I get a warm and fuzzy feeling every time we are here. Eager to get here early and begin our three day stay, we checked in at 8:30 this morning. Luckily, whoever was in our campsite last night, packed up and left before we arrived. We made our way to campsite #17. We have never stayed in this campsite before, but it is a GREAT one. I'm under a canopy of trees, and had very little sun to contend with. As a bonus for Gary's aging bladder (poor guy), the restroom is directly across the street. You know how much I love squirrels, and there's more here than I've been able to count. That kept me busy while Gary bopped over to Smiley's Antique Mall to do some browsing. When he returned, both of us took a nap for awhile. We didn't get much sleep last night, as is typical before we go camping. We're just too excited to sleep. When we were here last time, it was cold enough to run the heater. This time, Gary brought along the air conditioner. Even though there is always plenty of foliage here, there is even more now that spring has arrived. We haven't seen it this "green" before. Gary isn't planning to do much while we're here. He has fully explored the park during our past visits, so I'm pretty sure there will be much more relaxation in store this time. Fine with me. Maybe I can get him to hang out here with me and count squirrels. That would be fun! Whatever we do, we know we will enjoy our time here at Paynes Prairie. It's AWESOME!!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Welcome To Florida

Happily, we got the heck out of South Carolina early this morning, and made our way quickly into Georgia. Our first stop was for gas in the Savannah area. It was .23 per gallon cheaper in Georgia than it was in South Carolina. Crazy! The plan was to hit an antique store or two if we could find any that were close to the interstate. In Darien, Georgia, we stopped at Southern Pickers Antiques. Gary didn't find anything he had to have, but it was a good place to stretch his legs, and for me to cool my wheels from the miles on the highway. Gary had lunch with me in the parking lot before hitting the road again. Our next stop was at the Florida welcome center. I hung out with some of my RV pals in the parking lot while our owners were taking a break elsewhere. The RV to my left in the picture was German. I couldn't understand a thing he was saying. We left there, and headed a short distance down the road to exit 373, and into a town called Yulee. Gary spent a good amount of time checking out the A1A Antiques Mall. Again, he didn't find anything he had to have, but it's a store he will definitely go back to. It had lots of small items, and that's the type of things that Gary likes best. From there, we headed through Jacksonville, and on into our home base of St. Augustine. I guess that Gary was in a hurry all of a sudden to get home, since he was driving faster than he normally does. We were flying out there on I-95, and I was getting a little scared. Usually, everybody passes us, but we were actually passing other cars and even a couple of 18-wheelers. Yikes! Anyway, we made it safely home, and I am once again in my happy home at the Green Acres Garage. I'm not at all sure what's in store for me next. Our camping season is over, and it ended on a bad note with our stay at Hunting Island in South Carolina. I'm going to try to talk Gary into one more trip to a place fairly close to home. He's putty in my hands, you know. Stay tuned to see what happens next.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Our Last Day At Hunting Island State Park....YAY!!!

Normally, I'm kind of sad when we have to leave a park to head home. But in the case of Hunting Island, I honestly can't wait. Gary was on the phone today for over an hour with both Reserve America and the South Carolina Parks Department, and he cut no corners in telling them how pathetic this park is. All I know is that our campsite is kind of shabby, and that the roads throughout the park put my new suspension to the ultimate test. Gary has seen much more of the run-down condition of this place than I have. He spent a couple of hours late this afternoon walking the beach. There are sections of it that look pretty, and there are sections of it with downed trees and debris that you don't dare walk on without wearing shoes. There are many undermined tall trees that are just waiting to fall. I guess it will take one of them to kill somebody before they do anything about the potential hazard. The park service claimed that the problems that Gary told them about are not typical of what South Carolina Parks have to offer. But, this park has high ratings and is really bad, so can you believe anything they have to say? I've posted pictures that make this place look pretty good, which just goes to prove you can put makeup on a pig. I figured I've said enough bad things about it, that I didn't need to post depressing pictures as well. And Gary took MANY pictures of the ugliness here. Well, enough about that. I am hitched up to the van, and with just a few last minute things to do in the morning, Gary and I will be ready to go home. It's a shame we had to end our camping season on a bad note, but that's the luck of the draw I guess. I'll let you know if anything exciting happens on the way home.

Hunting Island State Park, Day #1

You know me, I don't care where I am. As long as I'm camping with my buddy Gary, then life is good. On the other hand, if Gary isn't happy with whatever place we are at, then I know it will be our first and final visit. This is one of those places where Gary is not happy at all. When we arrived, we were told that someone was still occupying our campsite, and that we would have to come back later to register. We were given a pass to get us into the beach and lighthouse area which was a couple of miles down the road. So, we went there to kill some time. From what I could see of the lighthouse from the parking lot, and from the pictures that Gary took while around it and in it, I would say that part of the park is very nice. Then we returned to the campground. This is where the troubles began. First, there was a reservation problem. Gary had booked two nights for us, and had talked with the park personnel about extending our stay for a third night. We couldn't book the third night when we first arrived, because we couldn't officially check in with someone still occupying our campsite. Gary was told that booking the third night would not be a problem when we came back to get checked in. But, as he was walking into the office, the third night at our campsite was being reserved by someone else. Gary was REALLY ticked off about that. He had tried to reserve online before we left our last stop in Georgia, but South Carolina (unlike anywhere else we have camped) has a two night minimum stay. Even though Gary had already booked two nights online previously, he wasn't allowed to add the third night. That would have to be done in person at the park, but even then, it still didn't work out. When Gary came out of the park office, I could tell how mad he was. We headed to our campsite with Gary's blood pressure pushing extreme levels. I am usually carefree when it comes to campgrounds, but even I have to admit that Hunting Island is not very nice. The campsites are close together with no privacy buffers, and the roads in the campgrounds are full of potholes. Our particular campsite is just a few feet away from beach access, but other than that, it is tiny and cramped. I can't imagine an RV bigger than me fitting into this campsite at all, and you know how small I am. Upon further inspection, Gary found the ancient bathrooms to be disgustingly dirty, and there are no paper towels or hand dryers. Parts of the beach are lined with fallen trees, and there are pieces of tree limbs sticking up out of the sand to trip over. It is VERY busy here, and they obviously make a LOT of money. But, it is perfectly clear that none of that money goes into park maintenance. Gary said that the lighthouse area is fairly well kept, but I can personally say that the campground is not that great. If we hadn't come all this way to be here, we would have left during the fiasco at check-in. But, we will muddle through our two nights, and will leave at daybreak on our final morning. Hunting Island is supposedly one of South Carolina's best parks, but if this is their best, we don't care to see their worst. Because of the minimum stay requirements, check in malfunctions, and overall poor quality of the park facilities, Gary has vowed to NEVER stay at another South Carolina State Park. I was looking forward to going to Myrtle Beach in the fall, but I know that's not going to happen now. I hope we will have better luck with North Carolina or Virginia State Parks. Some of the State Parks in Florida and Georgia are better than others, but none of them are as bad as Hunting Island. Come and see the lighthouse if you'd like, but definitely don't camp here. I know we never will again.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

George L. Smith State Park, Days 2 & 3

Gary has looked this park over pretty well, but he hasn't come back to the campsite with a zillion pictures like he usually does. Truthfully, there doesn't seem to be a lot here that has excited him enough to photograph. The coolest thing here is the old covered bridge. It's a nice enough park, but it's one that I know we won't return to. Unless you like to kayak, canoe, or boat, there isn't a lot to do or see. Something that has excited Gary, is going antique shopping in some of the small towns near the park. He's been gone for most of our time here. Did he find some treasures? Oh yeah! He usually only buys small things, but he came back yesterday with a vintage aluminum card table and chairs. It's in really good shape, and I can see why he liked it enough to buy it. At the same store (Swainsboro Antiques) where he got the table and chairs, he also bought an awesome picnic jug that coincidentally is shiney aluminum trimmed in red like I am. I REALLY like that! What a cool thing. Today, Gary headed off to some towns in the opposite direction from where he went yesterday. Once again, he came back with something unusual. At Metter Antiques in Metter, GA., he found a set of multi-colored aluminum tumblers. They are in EXCELLENT condition. He has found aluminum tumblers before, but never ones with plastic liners and detachable coasters. And the ones he normally finds are pretty beat up. These are impressive. One thing that has kept me busy while I'm by myself is counting squirrels. There are plenty of them here. You know how much I love squirrels! With all of the antique store finds packed securely away, we will head towards our final camping destination of the season in the morning, and I am excited about it. We're heading over to the South Carolina coast to a place called Hunting Island. From what Gary has told me about it, I think we're going to have a GREAT time there. More soon. Bye for now.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Little Rain Won't Dampen Our Spirits

Sadly, our stay at General Coffee State Park had come to an end. We pulled out of our campsite around 10AM, and headed towards our next destination at George L. Smith State Park. It had rained lightly for most of our last night at General Coffee, and continued into the new day. Gary had already packed up most of our outdoor camping supplies, so he didn't get too wet in prepping me for our trip. That's good, because a dry Gary is a happy Gary. Since rain was in the forecast for the entire day over the area we were traveling to, we were in no hurry to get there. Our first stop was in Alma, Georgia, at an antique store called "Diamonds And Dirt". Gary enjoyed looking at the wide variety of antiques and collectibles they had, and bought a couple of things he "couldn't live without". It's funny how often he uses that phrase. The owner of the shop is a very nice lady named Elaine, and as it turned out, she and I have something in common. Both of us were born in Ashburn, Georgia. She was familiar with the old Serro Scotty factory where I came from. How cool is that? I've never met a human that was born in the same town as me. A few trailers, yes, but never a human. Elaine took a few minutes away from her shop, and came across the street to check me out. She's a Sweetheart! Gary looked through a couple of other antique stores in Alma, and then we headed north. In Baxley, Georgia, we stopped at another antique store. Gary was disappointed he didn't find anything good there, but I guess a person can't find something he "can't live without" at every stop. We passed through several little towns along the way, including the tiny town of Santa Claus, Georgia. Even though it was drizzling rain, Gary felt the need to stop and take a picture of the welcome sign. I'll bet that's a popular town during Christmas. We finally arrived at George L. Smith State Park around 4PM, and yes, it was still raining. After checking in, we picked out campsite #8 for our three-night stay. Most all of the campsites here are right along the edge of the 412 acre lake, and ours is no exception. I don't think I've ever seen trees growing out of a lake, but there is LOTS of that here. Other than being a bit muddy when we arrived, our campsite is a nice one. It's different than any that I've ever been in before, that's for sure. Gary got a little more wet than he wanted to while setting me up, but he didn't complain too much. I think he was just happy to have gotten here safe and sound. There were definitely some wacko drivers on the road. I'll post some pics of the place soon, but for now, I just want the rain to stop. This is getting old!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Return To General Coffee State Park, Our Final Day

Our picture perfect weather over the past couple of days, took a turn for the worse today. It didn't rain until 5PM, but it was overcast all day. Thankfully, Gary took lots of pictures while the sky was blue. There weren't many taken today at all. The ones I've included were taken yesterday. Since all I posted last time were pictures of the animals, I let Gary pick out a few random photos of the park to post. I hope you can tell how pretty this place is. Gary headed out early to see an RV surplus place he read about online, then went to a couple of thrift stores in town. He came back empty handed and disappointed. It was obvious the weather was going to get worse as the day progressed, so he went to feed the donkeys twice during the afternoon. They ate eight pounds of carrots today. That's a LOT of carrots! The predicted weather for tomorrow is not good, so most of the outdoor camping gear was packed up before the rain arrived today. I'm already hitched up to the van for the ride to our next stop. There's only a few last minute things to do, and we'll be ready to go. But, we love it here so much, I don't think we will be in any hurry to leave. I can't believe it's our final night here already. It seems like we just arrived at our campsite a few hours ago. Time really does fly when you're having fun. We will head to George L. Smith State Park next. We haven't been there before, so we don't know what to expect, but that's part of the fun of going to new places. I'll post from there if we have an internet connection. Farewell from General Coffee State Park.