Posted in: Animal Sightings, Hiking, Museums & Tours, School, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Colonial Williamsburg (Virginia)

Hey guys, this is another blog post by Will! Today I am here to talk about the amazing world of Historic Williamsburg! We visited Williamsburg with our friends the Piatts and had a great time. To start out with you will want to park your car, and then walk to the left of the building towards the side. You might see a shuttle there and if so you can get on that to get over to Historic Williamsburg. If not, you can take the path up ahead which is the cooler option in my opinion. You can see the plantation they recreated which includes a windmill that not only has rotating blades but the body also rotates as well to get more wind flow. The body part had to be manual though.

Once you get to Williamsburg you can explore whatever you want. A lot of the stores and shops are open and it is free to walk around if you haven’t decided on buying a ticket yet. We had prepaid for tickets however so we were good to go. We skipped the governor’s house right off because of the huge line and instead went to a historic house which had been left standing for all those years. It had a parlor, a guest bedroom, an office, and a socializing room on the first floor. In the back they had sheep and the kitchen. This was also where we saw our first tradesman a cooper. Williamsburg has many occupations in the town which make all of the different things that they sell and even construct some of the buildings. The coopers for those who didn’t know, were people who made buckets and barrels by putting iron rings around individual pieces of wood.

After we left the house we started wandering towards the armory, looking at all of the different things around the town. Once we got there we first saw the shoemakers. They, as you can probably tell, make shoes and told us all about it. The lady in the front was very helpful and told us that a skilled shoemaker could make 1 shoe in a 12-hour day. She also told us master shoemakers were expected to make 7 shoes in 6 days. She said that most men wore black shoes because they were the fashion of the day and that they were also easier to keep clean and fix. There was more variety in women’s shoes with some being made of different material and colors, but for men it was mostly black leather shoes.

Next, we went to the blacksmith which was right next to the shoemakers. There was another woman standing there with two men in the shop, one pumping the bellows and the other using a file on some tool. She told us that the most common item they made was farm equipment, but during the Revolutionary War they also made many weapons for the war cause. She said that to make the metal soft enough to mold you needed it at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and to get it really hot enough you needed it at 2,000 to 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit. During her talk the two guys in the back pulled out a red-hot piece of iron and started pounding at it with their hammers which was pretty cool. She said that the metal they usually used was iron and steel which was pretty common in the United States so they didn’t require it to be imported during the war. I also found out later in the tour that the blacksmith also makes nails which are used in the construction of some of the buildings at Williamsburg.

Top Row: Capitol Building. Middle: 1771 building, shoemakers, Nick getting pressed penny. Bottom: blacksmith’s

After that we went to explore and came across some bathrooms and a shop. We all took turns going to the bathroom and also went inside to look around the shop. Nick got a pressed penny with the Capitol building on it. We also went to a nearby restaurant where we bought root beer, diet coke, and bread and ate it at the nearby benches. Then we went to the Capitol Building which was the seat of government in Virginia. It was hit by lighting, burned by people, and destroyed 3 times. On the last time they moved the capitol away where it promptly burned down again. The court ruled on large cases like murder, counterfeit, and robbery. You could choose to have a case by either peers or the magistrate which was a group of judges.

After the Capitol building we visited the jails where prisoners could be kept for 3 months (or more) before they were tried before the court, as the court only met during certain times. They also kept sheep and horses in the back which we later learned were used by weavers at Williamsburg to make clothing and yarn which you can buy at the gift shops.

We then visited the carpenters where we learned they made their own tools and build many of the buildings made of wood that are around Williamsburg. They told us that it took thousands of shingles to make the building they were currently under. They used nails from the blacksmith shop, which I thought was very cool. They even had a storage area in the attic of the building above them. They said they were going to soon construct a group of buildings and he pointed to a pile of wood which at the time I thought was a trash pile and said those were 8,000 shingles and that they needed 20,000 shingles for the whole project. At that I was impressed.

We then visited the shop that sells all of the homemade goods for Williamsburg where I learned what all the trades were at Williamsburg. They have weavers, coopers, silversmiths, blacksmiths, and carpenters for both buildings and furniture. We took a look around and saw an old toaster (which was pretty cool) that had been made by the blacksmiths.

We then visited the grandest building in all of Williamsburg, the Governors Palace. And it was a palace indeed! In the entrance were hundreds of swords and guns for both infantry and cavalry. It had a huge courtyard and two other buildings for the kitchen and one for the slaughtering of animals. It had a ballroom and a reception area, and enough guns to supply a regiment of soldiers. It even had different musical instruments in the back and a huge emblem on the back door. It had a grand back area for a garden. We did the maze with various finishing times for the group.We walked around a little longer and then went home.

Sarah Note: Bottom Right: Steps. We saw these stairs everywhere with metal bars in them. I asked the tour guide what they were. Back in the day, there were not always slabs under the steps, which could make for some wonky stairs. After the stone was placed, a spot was carved out, molten metal poured in, and a metal pin placed in to help hold the stairs together.
The maze at the Governor’s Palace Gardens

And that’s the end of the blog with Will. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to the blog, and to follow our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. See you soon, Will!

SARAH NOTES: Williamsburg was open to Visitors, although it was recommended that you buy your passes online. You have to choose your date of attendance when you book your tickets. Parts of Williamsburg is free; you can walk through the town and shops without paying the admission fee. However, if you want to go into certain areas or houses, then you do have to have an admission ticket. (For example, Governor’s Palace, carpenter’s yard, Wythe House.) Due to COVID, they are limiting the amount of people inside the buildings, so you may be waiting in line for awhile. I think our longest time was about 45 minutes. They call themselves a living history museum, so Will was a little disappointed in the amount of historical plaques to read. He made up for it by asking the blacksmith and shoe shop several questions though. We saw the Wythe house, the blacksmith and shoe shop, the carpentry yard, and the Governor’s Palace.

If you missed the Instagram video, here is a link to our video at the Blacksmith’s and seeing some adorable baby sheep.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Several options available. Single Day $35.99/adults, $19.99/child (6-12) . COVID Restrictions: masks required, book online for a set date, Visitor Center Closed, social distancing at some locations so you may wait in line.
  • HOURS: Hours vary. Most of the shops are open 9:00am to 5:00pm, but there are some evening programs based on the day.
  • PARKING: Yes, Visitor Center (with shuttle or a 1/4 mile walk) or at art museums
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 2-4 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Animal Sightings, Campground Review, Hiking, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Myrtle Beach State Park Campground: Campground Review

For our final stop in South Carolina, we went to Myrtle Beach and stayed at the Myrtle Beach State Park.

The state park does have some nice amenities to it: walking trails, touristy type of shops (1 in the campground, 1 at beach), walking distance to beach. If you are staying in the park, you do not have to buy the daily park pass (as long as you have your window tag displayed).

It was very dark at night, as there were not any street lights throughout the campground. Bring a flashlight if you are taking a walk or going to the bathroom! There are signs about copperheads throughout the park. There was air noise from the airport and helicopter tours. There were a couple of airplanes that flew so low that the RV rattled.

The sites are nicely shaded, although they are long and narrow. The sites had a picnic table and fire pit (with flip down grill). The gates closed and locked at 10:00 pm, although they do give you the code. It was a very weird experience, as you have to get out of your car in the dark near the woods to unlock and open the gate, drive through, get out again to shut it. Having a keypad code for the gate would be a huge improvement. The park also states that there is no alcohol permitted in the campground or park.

The camp store had some souvenir type of items, firewood ($7.49/bundle), ice, and some drinks and ice cream.

There were several bathrooms/showers around the campground. The laundry facility wasn’t too far from our site (in loop 5). Washers and dryers were $2/load.

Bottom image: entrance to the campground (campground to the left, beach to the right)

The beach did not close at night, so we did get a couple of nice nighttime walks in.

There was a patch program for the kids through the state park (a little like the Junior Ranger Program at the National Parks). The Nature Center was at the edge of the campground and was a nice spot to sit and watch the birds at the feeders. It was also a great spot for the kids to find lots of information for the scavenger hunts.

We did not see many animals, other than birds and squirrels in the campground. We did see some crabs, starfish, and a jellyfish at the beach. Nick and I also found shark teeth, which was lots of fun and a new experience for both of us. There were also shells to find, which is always a plus for us at a beach.

CONCLUSION:

CONS: Air noise, the gate, tightness of the campground

PROS: Walkable to beach, campfire ability, shade trees, amenities of park and campground, patch program for kids

If we were in Myrtle Beach, we would stay here again.

VIDEO: Walking Tour Myrtle Beach State Park

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3.5 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Back-in (dirt/sand)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: Yes

Amenities: picnic table, fire pit, playground, community grills in state park, second playground in the state park, close to beach, walking trails in state park, patch program for kids in park

Cabins: Yes (6)

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 20/30/50

Pool: No, but ocean is close

Food On-Site: No

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Yes

Fishing: Yes (no license, but daily fee: $8/day ages 16+, $3 ages 3-15)

Posted in: Food, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Gretel’s Candy House

Hi guys, it’s Nick and this is my blog about this candy place in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina so here is the story. My Dad and I were driving home when we saw this candy store. We had seen it before and thought it would be fun to go to, so we drove on over and got some pictures of it from the outside. Then we went in, well let’s just say the outside is the cool thing about this place.

Inside it had two things that looked cool: one was called a Goo Goo Cluster and the other was Devil’s Toe. There is a big fake tree in the middle but that is it. It was just about all the normal candy you get at a basic candy or grocery store. I would not most likely go back to this place, but it is good for pictures and there is an ice cream place across the street. People were using this places parking for it though. So that is our candy store adventure.

Video: Walking in Gretel’s Candy House

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Campground Review, Hiking, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

KOA Mount Pleasant/Charleston: Campground Review

For our stay in Charleston, South Carolina, we stayed at the Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA. The campground is located in Mount Pleasant, about a 15-20 minute drive from Charleston.

The campground had some nice features, including a camp store. The campground is located near a plantation, and offers wagon rides when the plantation is open. Unfortunately, the plantation house was under construction when we were there and the wagon rides were not going on.

The campground had corn hole, a nice walking trail, a community fire pit, hanging swings by the lake, fishing (catch and release, no license needed), pool (not heated), rec room with camp kitchen (2 stations) and little library, dog park, and bike/canoe/paddle boat rental. The office sold firewood bundles. There was a propane station and an ice machine near the office as well.

The laundry room was on the side of the office building and had 4 washers and dryers. Although there was not a coin machine in the laundry room, you could get quarters at the office. Washers were $2/load and dryers $1.50/load.

The bathrooms and showers were located on the backside of the officel. They are separate though: women’s bathroom on one side, individual shower rooms in the middle, and men’s bathrooms on the other side.

We enjoyed the walking trails. The trails go by a little creek and we saw some small crabs and turtles.

There was WiFi available. The signal was pretty spotty where we were. However, they do offer routers to borrow. These are on a first come basis. We were finally able to get one with only 2 days left in the trip, but it made a big difference! The speeds were a lot faster plugged in.

The campground was close to grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and several parks. Charleston was about 15-20 minutes away. The Costco and Walmart were within 2 miles. It was in a pretty convenient location.

VIDEO LINK: Campground Tour

The night before we left, we found a postcard on the door reminding us of check-out time.

COVID Review: Masks were required in the office. The office staff was friendly and always had them on. However, employees working outside (including those that show you to your site) and other campers really didn’t wear masks.

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile (slow)

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull Through, Back-in (mostly gravel, saw a few concrete pads)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: No stakes allowed in the ground due to underground wires

Amenities: picnic table and fire pit at sites, some upgraded sites had a grill, cable, two playgrounds, pool, rec room/camp kitchen, little library, corn hole, dog park, bikes for rent, paddle boats and kayaks for rent, ice machine $2/bag, firewood $7/bundle (although after taxes/fees it came to $8).

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps:

Pool: Yes, not heated

Food On-Site: No, but camp store has a few items

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Yes. Routers provided at office, first come first serve, to help boost signal

Accepts Mail: Yes

Fishing: Yes, no license needed, catch and release

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Isle of Palms Beach, South Carolina

The boys were on spring break, so we tried to do some fun things during the day. One afternoon we went to Isle of Palms beach. We got there around 10:00 am and we found a great parking spot near a beach entrance and restrooms and outdoor showers. The beach was pretty empty.

As we were setting up our spot, we saw some military helicopters flying overhead. Video link: Helicopters Over Isle of Palms

The boys swam for a little bit, but the water was chilly so they didn’t stay in too long. We looked for shells and they built sand forts. Because we had just been to all of the forts, they named them Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and Fort Moultrie. Once we were done with swimming, we browsed some shops and the boys got ice cream. As we left, all the parking spots on the street were taken and the beach had started getting a little more crowded.

Parking was available at the county park ($5-$15 depending on time of year) and in lots and at meters ($2.50/hour) on the main street with shops and restaurants.

We drove around the area later in the day with Ben and did see some free parking on the side of the road near the residential areas. If you are just going for the beach and not souvenir stores or food, those spots seemed like a good option. Nick found a couple of Little Libraries along the way as well. It was a cute area and we had a nice time exploring.

Posted in: Newbie Mistakes, Newbie Tips, YouTube Video Link

You a big fine travel trailer, Now Back That Thing Up! (Tips for backing up a RV.)

When we first started out, backing up was my biggest fear. I really was looking forward to finding all the pull-through spots that we could find. However, that’s not how life works.

I love pull-through spots since they are so much easier to maneuver. However, not every campground offers pull-throughs or they could all be booked and only the back-ins are left. We had never owned a RV, a trailer, or even anything that had to be towed before. I had certainly never had to back up a large truck and a 37′ travel trailer. It is a scary position to be in, knowing that if you mess up too badly you can damage your property, as well as someone else’s; especially when you have already sold your sticks-and-bricks (home) and this RV is now your moving home for a year.

We had watched so many videos before embarking on this adventure. In my head, I knew you had to turn the wheel the opposite of what you would expect when backing up a trailer. However, in the moment, that advice just added to my stress and confusion. It’s very different watching a video and then trying to do it in real life. My mother-in-law found a video and sent us a link. It was made with a piece of paper and a Lego truck and trailer. Honestly, I don’t know that I would have clicked on the video if I was scrolling through YouTube. It ended up being the best video for me! This YouTuber said something that helps me every time I have to back up. Starting with the wheels in the straight position, “Turn the bottom of the steering wheel towards the direction you want the trailer to go”. It is something I can see, something tangible I can focus on, and that made a huge difference. If you are just starting out and want advice on how to back into a site, please check out his video. He has some other useful tips on getting into a site.

I know of several people who bought RV’s for the first time this year. It can be daunting. We have had neighbors stare at us when trying to pull into/back into a site. At the worst, they’ve said that looked hard and that we needed a beer now that it was done. At best, some of them will try to help you. Don’t let it discourage you; everyone was a newbie once. If you can find a large empty parking lot to practice in, that can help. Find the one thing that will stick in your brain that will help you. I stressed out and struggled every time we had to back up, but it does get easier and the “Turn the bottom of the steering wheel towards the direction you want the trailer to go” method really helped me.

Also, don’t let back-in sites discourage you from a campground! Some of our favorite campgrounds have been back-in sites.

Posted in: Museums & Tours, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Kazoobie Kazoos Factory Tour

While looking for things to do around our campground, I found Kazoobie Kazoos in Beaufort, South Carolina. They offer, as you may guess by the name, kazoo factory tours. We had so much fun on this adventure (even Ben and he was skeptical when I told him about it).

Our kazoos, Nick’s pressed penny (double sided!)

The tour consisted of two videos, an impressive kazoo demonstration, and a peek at how the kazoos are put together and embossed. Did you know that there are only 3 kazoo factories in the world! Or that the kazoo was originally called the Down South Submarine (probably for its shape)? There are two in the US (South Carolina and New York) and one in the UK. At the end of the tour, we got to pick out our kazoo body and resonator cap colors and then put together our own! There was a small museum, which had some really neat information. The gift shop was also fun with different kazoos and kazoo type items for sale.

Making our kazoos
Museum items

We bought a couple of things from the shop. Nick also made a pressed penny, which was double sided! We had so much fun, I would definitely recommend going there and taking the tour!

Awesome finds at the gift shop

YouTube Video: Kazoobie Kazoos Factory Tour

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $9/adults, $7/child (ages 4-11) COVID Restrictions: masks required.
  • TOUR HOURS: Monday-Friday at 10:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, 2:00pm
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Unknown
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-1.5 hours (45-60 minutes for the tour, then browsing the museum and shop)
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Moving On To Savannah, Georgia!

After Florida, we continued moving up the coast. Ben and I had been to Savannah many years ago for our honeymoon and loved it; the gorgeous architecture, the Spanish Moss, watching the ships go by. We wanted the boys to experience this awesome city.

Moving day was pretty uneventful. It was a rainy, grey type of day. We got to our campsite and it was pretty muddy along the hook-up side of the RV. I am glad we had our rain boots!

We got set up and decided to drive through Savannah. The River Street area has certainly grown in seventeen years!

Parking looked pretty full, plus we still had to pick up groceries, so we just drove through the River Street area to get a new mental layout of the city. We also drove down Jones Street, which was labeled the prettiest street in Savannah. The houses were very pretty with iron railings and fences, with really neat staircases, and Spanish Moss draping over the street.

We drove over the Talmadge Memorial Bridge. It is a very pretty bridge that spans the Savannah River. It has quite the incline to get to the peak, as cargo ships travel underneath.

VIDEO: Traveling from Savannah, Georgia to South Carolina on Talmadge Memorial Bridge

Posted in: Campground Review, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

KOA Orlando Southwest: Campground Review

After our stay at Miami and the trip to Key West, we went back to Orlando. We had family staying in the area and wanted to spend as much time as we could with them. We hadn’t seen them since July 2020! We stayed at the Orlando Southwest KOA.

It was an easy drive to grocery stores, Disney (approximately 15-30 minutes, depending on traffic) and Universal (20-30 minutes), Costco (30-45 minutes).

The pool looked nice, but was always a little crowded, so we didn’t go in. The office store had a nice selection of RV items, grocery type items, and even a little library! It had a cool spiral staircase in the middle, which I found out leads just to an office.

Pool, bikes for rent, playground, bathrooms, dog area and wash, camp kitchen

There were trees around the campground, which gave some nice shade. Sites were decently spaced out. It was nice to walk around, although there was not a walking trail. This was one of the first KOA’s that we have been to that did not have a front gate. We also had water problems several times while we were here. The park did send out a text to us when they shut the water off for repairs, but it happened a couple of times times. The water pressure was low for most of our stay.

The boys loved the little library. We didn’t use the laundry room. Staff members were always nice when we interacted with them.

We would probably stay here again, although I would choose the Orlando Thousand Trails over this one. We had better water pressure and internet/cell service at the TT campground.

VIDEO TOUR: KOA Orlando Southwest

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 2.5/3 out of 5 hitches (it was nice, but had several water problems)

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, although Verizon got a bit laggy sometimes

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull Through, Back-in (grass and gravel sites)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site:

Amenities: picnic table, fire pit/grill, cable, pool, playground, 2 dog parks and a dog wash, community camp kitchen, little library in office, pickleball, basketball, horseshoes, bike rental

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 50/30

Pool: Yes

Food On-Site: No, although some snacks and general supplies in camp store

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Yes (basic)

Accepts Mail: Yes, no charge

Fishing: No

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Campground Review, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Thousand Trails Orlando RV Resort: Campground Review

General: The Thousand Trails RV Resort in Orlando is a huge campground (I believe they told us it has 1000 sites). There are several ponds on the campus (map had alligator warnings). It is located off of a busy road, but close to grocery stores. The campground interior roads were nicely paved. The newer section had paved sites, but WiFi was listed as not available there. Most sites were grass/sand. We had a 50 amp site, although our bonus 20 amp plug at the electric box did not work.

COVID: Mask wearing was a problem. Our escort to our site wore a mask, but the gate staff did not (had it on, but wore as a chin strap/neck warmer). Very few people wore masks unless it was inside.

Check-in: Check-in is at 12:00, preferably at 12:01 (per the front gate). We were there at 11:50 and told we had to turn around and come back. We got there at 12:04 and had a line of at least 18 in front of us. The check in lines were huge and took up the entire 1/2 mile driveway. To check in, you enter the campgrounds driveway, give your name to the front gate, proceed to the Recreation Building’s parking lot, check in and get the campground map/book, wait your turn and are escorted to a site. Our site was a corner lot, which gave us a little extra room, which was nice.

Noon time check-in line, daily occurrence. Waiting in parking lot for escort to site.

Review: This Thousand Trails location was much better than the other ones we have stayed at. They offered a few planned activities (Saturday donuts, Candy Bar Bingo on Wednesdays, walking group, knitting on Tuesdays, Poker, paid painting class, Food Truck Thursdays). There was no cable, but we were able to stream Netflix through our hotspot.

All in all, we enjoyed the amenities this park had to offer. Most of the sites in the park looked nice, although there were a few in the back that were really tight.

Amenities
Food trucks. We did not get any even though it smelled delicious. The food truck employees and campground guests were not wearing masks nor social distancing.
Recreational Building: library, mail room, store

They offered propane refill for $3.25/gallon (our standard 20lb. tank, like on a grill, is about 4.6 gallons).

There were also several birds, including sandhill cranes around the campground. They walked everywhere, but were not aggressive at all. We also saw a couple of gopher tortoises, which Nick loved.

Conclusion: We would stay here again.

VIDEO: Campground Tour

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile (Internet on all networks worked, but did get spotty at times.)

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Back-in

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: Yes

Amenities: picnic table at site, playground, dog park, pool, shuffleboard, pickleball, basketball, horseshoes, checkers/chess, mini golf, Saturday Donuts, some planned activities. Community fire pit (although not allowed while we were there for fire danger?), library/book exchange

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 30 or 50

Pool: Yes

Food On-Site: No, not all the time. (They had food trucks come in on Thursdays. There are some food items in the camp store. There was also a restaurant on the map near the office; there were cafeteria style closed windows that may be a restaurant but it was closed while we were there.)

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Paid, free in common areas (per office staff)

Accepts Mail: Yes, but no 1st Class mail (no mail fee)

Fishing: Yes