Jersey Shore

IMG_3023Most of our stops we neighbor alongside a host family, experiencing their local view of their town and area. That is our preferred way of travel.

However, once in a while we either can’t find a host in a specific area or need some family  time alone. And so, we will search out a state park or RV park to rest in for a bit. State Parks would be our first choice as they tend to offer large sites with loads of outdoor opportunities including hiking, biking, swimming, etc. And, they are usually in our budget of $18-$25 a night. But occasionally the State parks are booked and we have to find an RV Park.

RV Parks can get expensive, up to $80 a night. Although most of them include a coin laundromat, pool/spa and workout facility, they tend to have small sites with only limited outdoor space. Most RV Parks have week and monthly rates, which cuts down on the cost but our typical stay of 2-5 nights usually doesn’t offer any discount. That is until we found ReadyCampGo.com through fellow travelers the Turtletells. We purchased the smallest membership for $50 that includes 15 nights camping at any Thousand Trails/Encore RV parks for $25 a night.  We originally purchased the membership for our recent jaunt down to Key West, where we stayed a week for $168 and have used it on a few stops along the east coast, including two nights at Lake and Shore Outdoor World in Ocean View, NJ.

IMG_3030After a month in the hills of Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania we were needing a little beach break and thought we’d explore the Jersey Shore. We arrived at the campground, took a look around and jumped in our van, driving down to Cape May with the anticipation of a wonderful day at the beach. What we found however, was a beach attendant guarding the shore, selling beach tags that cost $6 a person (that would have been $30 for our crew) to sit on the beach between 9-5pm. So, with pretty smiles and puppy dog eyes we convinced the beach attendant to at least allow us to have a quick gander at the beach and dip our feet in the water. He said OK, but only for a moment. We stayed long enough to take a selfie before heading back to the campground, baffled and a bit miffed by the protocol of the Jersey beaches. Once back at the campground we began to strategize for our next and final beach day, deciding that we would enjoy the amenities at the campground, which included a lovely lake beach, pool, water slide and spa, and then head down to the beach at 6pm for an evening swim, picnic and sunset.

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We couldn’t have planned it any better! We enjoyed sleeping in, breakfast and lunch at our campsite and relaxing day poolside. I packed a light supper of veggies/hummus, fruit, bread, tuna, and chips and we meandered our way down to Cape May. Parking was a breeze and the beach was empty, giving us multiple choices for seating.

Sunsets have been a commodity on the east coast and we’ve only been able to catch them if we are inland. At the beach, the sun sets behind the buildings, so as you look out over the water, you don’t see the sunset, only the glow of the sun hitting the clouds on the horizon and painting a picture in the water. Sort of like a Monet. So, we’ve learned to enjoy the subtle colors of what we call the “backwards sunset” for what they are, beautiful pieces of art and a new perspective on life. Of course, sunrises are in abundance on the east coast, but we’re not really morning people. 🙂

IMG_3123At one point in the evening a large tractor began weaving up and down the beach interrupting our solace but we had fun with him and would dance and wave every time he passed our little area. Our hunch was that the six dollars/per person for a beach tag maybe went to pay the beach combing Zamboni guy, but we weren’t sure.

Then later in the evening we took a drive up to Ocean City and strolled with hundreds of others up and down the boardwalk, then drove a bit further north to Atlantic City to see the wonders of the Taj MaHal. All of which was a bit overwhelming but an insightful cultural experience none the less.

If we had to do it again, we would probably do it exactly the same way, as the memories we take with us from this little part of the world are priceless.

 

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Humidity and Humanities

Elk City State Park KansasOh good grief, August sure was hot! Three years on the road and no A/C has been tolling but we just keep trucking, finding relief where we can. Kansas proved to be one of our hottest stops in 2014 but Elk City State Park offered the respite we needed from the heat.

We went down to Coffeyville, KS to share an Australian Bush Song Workshop through Coffeyville Community College’s Humanities program. We performed our workshop over 16 times, in the local high school, community college and nursing homes over the course of our five days.

This is our third time in six years, participating in this lecture series and every time our program gets more and more refined. This time around our program began by paying respects to the original people group (Aboriginals) of Australia and the telling of a dream time story. Then we touched on the origins of Australia as a penal colony and stories of seafaring and songs that came with that time. Then went into the politics of the early settlement and the divide between the Aristocrats, Squatters and Drifters, finally sharing songs and stories of Australia’s Bush Rangers (outlaws). It was fitting to share the stories of the Wild Colonial Boy, Waltzing Matilda and Ned Kelly as Kansas is one of the states that many of the US outlaws roamed. We were able to make well rounded comparisons with Billy the Kid, Jesse James and the Dalton Gang.

Coffeyville Humanities programCraig was the main speaker in our series. He guided us through the stories, fun little antidotes about growing up in Australia, and he even shared about his experience in the shearing shed as a youth. He followed up by singing a hardy rendition of the classic, “Click Go The Shears.”

The rest of us each played our parts, including our son on rythmn, Graciana on vocals and I joined on vocals and the Mandolin. Having the extra support of our fellow bus riders on board was a nice welcome as well. Sylvia added charisma and fantastic harmonies and Rhys joined in on the bass, vocals and even shared the story of his hometown, Glenrowan and Australia’s most famous Bush Ranger, Ned Kelly.

Elk City State Park KansasWe camped all week at Elk City State Park. Our site included water and 50 amp service. We paid $25 a night for a spot directly across from the lake. At 102 degrees all week-long, we were so thankful to come back to Elk City Lake and jump into the bath water every single night. Our little haven in the middle of the plains was the perfect backdrop to share some of our local camping traditions with Rhys. Being from Australia he was unfamiliar with our version of smores and carmellos. We also made brats, boiled in beer, my grandmothers famous potato salad and watermelon. To top it all off, we went into town for a few meals and found the Chicken fried Steak a hit.

I wouldn’t say that Kansas is at the top of our list for places to stay for a week, however Elk City State Park proved to be a nice change of pace and offered us just what we needed to get through the week. If we make it back for another humanities series, we’ll know exactly where to stay!

 

When in Roswell

20140520-144206.jpgWe stopped for a night in Roswell, NM to see what all of the alien hoop-la was about. We visited the International UFO Museum and Research Center, which is a museum that provides information about the 1947 Roswell Incident, as well as other phenomenon’s relating to UFO’s.  Other than a few faux reenactment exhibits, the museum was mostly papers and photos on story board. Sort of reminded us of a middle school science fair from the 1970’s.

My favorite exhibit was reproduced from TOP SECRET/MAJIC by permission of Mr. Stanton Friedman, titled “Why cover-up the Mountain of UFO data?” The answers varied from rule number one for security, ‘that you can’t tell your friends anything without also telling your enemies. Opening files would give competitors access to the new technology.’ To theories that suggest that the acceptance of aliens would ultimately push for a new view of ourselves. Instead of thinking… American, Canadian, Chinese, French etc… we would start to think of ourselves as earthlings and no government wants it citizens to owe their allegiance to the planet instead of a nation.’ Fascinating to think about but a little steep at $5 a person. However, when in Roswell…

Bottomless Lake State Park SunsetAfter an hour in the museum, we were looking for more to do. It was about 98 degrees so finding water was pretty high on the list. We looked up watering holes and found the Bottomless Lakes State Park just 10 miles down the road. The unique lakes at this park are sinkholes, ranging from 17 to 90 feet deep. The water was salty and reminiscent of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. There were fun hiking trails everywhere and the sunset was spectacular off the bathhouse.

We’ll remember this stop for next time around, as the rate for full hook ups was only $18 a night as opposed to our $50 a night at the local RV park.  

Bottomless Lake State Park

Starfish and Green Frogs

20130922-133053.jpgHanging in the Northwest Corner of the lower 48. We camped at Larrabee State Park just 20 minutes south of Bellingham, WA. We had a show up here at The Green Frog but most of our time we explored the amazing coastline.

Nestled deep in the pine forest, Larrabee State Park sits on Wildcat cove. Sept 15-May is the off-season, so our full hook up site was only $29.00 a night.  Wildcat cove was pristine, with dramatic cliffs, still waters, beautiful sunsets and starfish!

 

The city of Bellingham is a fishing hub and a college town with awesome coffee, thrifting, friendly folks and a great live music scene. We performed at The Green Frog, a local 21+ establishment. However, we did an earlier show and caught the all ages crowd.

The door man, Michael, welcomed with a warm smile and a few fans began to make their way in. We met Brent, who grew up on the set of Hee Haw. A father and his two children, and Amy, a fellow bus conversionist.

20130922-133151.jpgOur set was classic Hollands! with harmonies dazzling but it was Banjo Holland who stole the show. We don’t often get to play in a room that can handle his funky and confident beats, but the sound system at The Green Frog was perfect and Duke our sound guy was fantastic! Our show was followed by The Pine Hearts, a five piece rollicking Americana band out of Olympia, WA. They were gracious and wonderful musicians. We later realized that we actually had met Joe, one of the leads, at Folk Alliance in Memphis a few years back when he was touring with The Blackberry Bushes.

It’s a small world and it’s great to know that there are kinfolk all over this great big world. And, this is a part of the world we would like to get back to! Thanks for all the love Washington!

 

Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls, ID

Idaho blew our minds!

Shoshone Falls sits on the Snake River just outside of Twin Falls, ID. It costs $3 a car to enter the park.

We normally like to find a state park or county park to camp at if we can but there wasn’t much near this area so we camped at the KOA. It was $50.18 a night, included 30 amp, water, sewer and electric. We had an easy in and out with a pull through site. The staff was friendly, and the campground was clean.

Summer Beach Days

IMG_2025Every year we make our annual pilgrimage to one of the most beautiful bodies of water on the planet, Lake Michigan. Between our summer touring, we took 5 days and rested along the shore in Muskegon, MI at Pioneer Park.

Pioneer Park is a safe, family friendly county park with over 2,000 feet of white sandy beach frontage. They also have tennis courts, volleyball, fire pits, and bathrooms with showers. It costs $25 a night, plus $5 parking (or $20 annual pass). It’s close enough to local shops and restaurants. The only draw back is no wi-fi but who needs wi-fi when you’re at the beach!

While there we found solace, respite, refreshment, joy, reconnection, laughter, and time to reflect on our past adventures as well as what may lay ahead.