Thursday, June 27, 2019

#LeapFrogs: Cape Cod and Boston

Before we left Hershey, we decided that we'd save New York City for a later visit. (Interestingly, I learned there is an affordable campground in Brooklyn that we'll eventually explore!) So we worked a route around the city, and headed for Plymouth and Cape Cod.

When I was in fourth grade, we had a social studies textbook that caused me to fall in love with the world and with the idea of exploring the whole world. In that book, I learned about Plymouth and Cape Cod and had longed to visit there ever since.

On the way, we stopped in the town of Mystic.



 And then the Cape Cod seashore!



I loved discovering these mats that make the beach much more accessible for those with limited mobility or in wheelchairs. 


The town of Plymouth was a delight. I've vowed to return one day to just hang out for a few days. 




And yes, the rain moved in on us again.

When we started this east coast journey, our plan was to get to Boston by July 4, so we could picnic on the lawn and listen to the Boston Pops. My mom had always tuned into their celebration each year, and the idea of enjoying the music and fireworks up close and personal had always been a desire. But reality finally sunk in - to get a seat on the lawn, we would have to arrive early in the morning and stay until after midnight, then fight traffic back to wherever we planned to stay. After checking campgrounds and hotels online, and admitting that I don't enjoy driving at night anymore - in traffic - in an unfamiliar town - well, that just changed all our plans and we decided to visit before the crowds arrived. 

And I'm so glad we did. As we were circling round and round in town, I kept thinking I'd never complain about Atlanta traffic again. At least most of our roads and signs seem to make sense - Boston's didn't seem to make any at all. Ha! 

We were excited to discover we could visit and explore the USS Constitution. Parking was easy (in the garage across the street) and the site wasn't terribly crowded. 









Affordable camping options weren't available in the area, so we sped through and didn't give the area the time it so richly deserves. But we will be back. We're already planning return visits to several locations.

For now, we continue our trek north.

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Monday, June 24, 2019

#LeapFrogs: Zigzagging into the Northeast

When we left Prince William National Forest, we knew we'd have a few days of car camping ahead of us, because free or cheap camping options in the northeast are limited. So we zigzagged our way around to the places we most wanted to visit, rather than searching for a campground first.

Many years ago, I watched a travel program where the host visited Annapolis and always wanted to visit. We discovered that Annapolis makes a good destination town - to arrive, plant yourself in a hotel in the midst of everything, and then walk everywhere. But for a drive through visit, it was a little tense. Streets are narrow but not all one directional, so we found ourselves on two-way streets, with parking on both sides of the street. Pretty much a nightmare for trying to explore by car. I wasn't able to immerse myself in the history and architecture while driving, but I grabbed a quick parking spot to snap a few water photos - and met a very nice fisherman who'd already caught a few!



Then onto Baltimore. I'd visited the harbor many years ago, and loved it, but Tim had never been. We arrived in town when traffic was minimal and were able to find a parking spot at the visitor's center so we took a stroll.







From Baltimore, we moved into Pennsylvania where we made several fun stops along the way. Before we found a car camp spot for the night, we discovered a family dairy with some incredible ice cream, which made both of us pretty happy campers.





Tim got a luscious black cherry, and I got Bobby's Black Mud - a mixture of dark chocolate and coffee. It's a wonder either one of us left there - they also sold fresh meat and bacon. Great area for families to come and play, too.



The next day, we visited Hanover, Pennsylvania and took a tour at Utz Chips factory where we learned that Golden Flake was purchased by Utz in 2016. Surprised us Bama tourists who grew up on Golden Flake!



And then, another tour!




No, we didn't buy the chocolate syrup - or the bank! But it was great fun exploring all the fun souvenirs and taking the free tour.

The next day, we zigged and zagged again, to weigh in on one of the biggest debates on the east coast.


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#LeapFrogs: A New Town and a New Ministry Idea
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#LeapFrogs: Exploring Carlsbad's Treasures
#LeapFrogs: Settling into New Mexico
#LeapFrogs: Change of Terrain and a Midnight Visitor
#LeapFrogs: Covering a Lot of Miles
#LeapFrogs: Holy Ground in Kerrville



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Thursday, June 13, 2019

#LeapFrogs: One National Forest

We sure didn't want to leave Ocracoke or any of the Outer Banks, but our journey continues.

We spent a couple of days driving in Virginia. Tim's dad was born and raised in northwest Virginia, so they visited that area often, and we visited Virginia Beach in 2014 when I earned my bachelor's degree, but the middle of the state was new to both of us.








We finally settled for a few days in the Oak Ridge Campground just outside Washington, DC. We were able to use Tim's lifetime pass so we received 50% off camping fees. This national campground was almost deserted during the week, but filled up with families and groups on the weekends. Each camping loop had a bathhouse with toilets, and the middle loop also had showers - the best showers of any of the campgrounds we've stayed in yet because they offered a bit more privacy than any of the others.



But the ticks were awful. We killed dozens. A few dug into to us, but we extracted them safely. 

We don't hike much, but Oak Ridge had an easy trail that led to what they called a waterfall. Not sure I'd go along with that definition, but I was happy to be hiking. 



Yes, there's a waterfall in there somewhere. 

As we finished the hike and got back to the car, we were greeted by something very special.

Do you remember when we were in McClellanville (outside Charleston), and had the thousands of caterpillars that we treated gently, and tried not to kill?

Well, apparently word got out, and we now have new friends! Five of these beautiful butterflies greeted us when we left the trail, and danced around us happily for several minutes, like they knew us. They even seemed to pose for me as I took photos. 



After a little rest, a little hiking, and too many ticks, we were soon on the road again.



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Friday, June 7, 2019

#LeapFrogs: From Ocracoke to Kitty Hawk

As sad as we were to leave Ocracoke, we had to keep moving onward. I was determined to catch a sunrise, so we packed up most of our gear the night before, checked the weather app for the official sunrise time, and set my alarm.



Times like these, I really need a better camera! 

The ferry on the north end of the island, to Cape Hatteras, runs often and is free. The boats are a bit smaller than the south end, and the trip is much quicker (70 minutes, compared to two hours). 

I don't know if I missed a turn when we first exited the ferry or what, but the Cape Hatteras lighthouse proved challenging to find. But what a beauty she is!


Since we'd left camp so early, we found a bakery in Cape Hatteras for a special treat - an Apple Ugly. It was delicious, but not friendly for the waistline or the budget - glad we shared one, but probably could have saved half of it for the next morning. Our willpower wasn't that strong though.


And then, we experienced an extra special treat and I found a new sport I'd love to learn! (If I were 20 years younger!)


Kite Surfing!



Yes, he's in the air and does a somersault before landing on the water again. Exciting!


And the Bodie Island lighthouse. 

When I was young, a very special young man wrote a beautiful love poem for me about the lighthouse keeper, so I have a special fondness for them.

We continued our drive through the Outer Banks. Nags Head didn't hold much charm for me - seemed like most regular beach towns and very commercialized compared to the southern areas.

Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills were extra special for me because of the Wright Brothers National Memorial. I get emotional with any memorabilia concerning flight or the space program, because my dad was an aeronautical engineer. The Wright Brothers have always inspired me, and seeing their work in person was a wonderful experience.




And then we moved inland. But the Outer Banks now has a piece of my heart, and I will one day return.  

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