There are so many great places to see, it's hard to plan where to stop next, and where to stop after that, and so on and so on. One big deciding factor for us is temperature. We've spent most of our lives in hot climates, and have no desire to be anywhere that is over 85 degrees, ever again! I know that's not realistic, and we will experience over 85 here and there, but if we can avoid it, we will. Also, in trying to plan ahead, we have to think about holiday camping crowds. We've learned from summer trips in the past; going from campground to campground, trying to find an available spot.
I kind of thought we would travel the whole eastern seaboard this spring. Not being familiar with the geography of the East Coast, I thought we wouldn't have to go through large cities. Who the heck put Washington DC, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and Boston in the way of my peaceful drive up the coast from Florida to Maine? That's how we decided that Virginia Beach, Virginia would be our last stop on the coast, before cutting across and up, towards Lake Michigan.
Our original plan was to stay on Cape Charles, but after finding out that we would have to take the $20 toll, 20 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to get there, and the fact that the State Park there wasn't really "beachy," we decided to stay at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. We got a great site, right up against the dunes, on Chesapeake Bay.
Another plus was the park had laundry facilities, you don't see that in most state parks. We had been on The Outer Banks for 10 days with no laundry facilities available, so we were pretty much out of clean clothes. After riding our bikes, carrying the bags of laundry a mile to the laundry room, we found that it was closed. Okay, it probably wasn't a mile, but it felt like it! On to plan B. I found a laundromat in town and we took the camper off the truck. It was probably better, that way I could wash everything. With two sets of sheets, Fiona's blanket, all of our clothes, and the truck/camper cleaning towels, I had six loads! Also, it gave me a chance to go have sushi for lunch. Paul doesn't eat sushi, so I haven't had any since we left California. Since this was our last coastal stop for a while, might as well get it while I can. We ended up leaving the coast a day early, because the forecast called for high winds, and driving an RV in wind is no fun!
It was time to start heading northwest. We use an app called Allstays to find places to stay. Even though you can see the parks websites and photos, you really don't know how the park will be until you get there. We chose to stay at Pocahontas State park, just south of Richmond, Virginia. It is the largest state park we've seen. It had lots of mountain biking/hiking trails, an amphitheater, lakes, and even a water park.
I've been doing genealogy research and found that three lines of ancestors on my Mom's side came to Virginia from England in the 1600s'. It just so happened that The Virginia State Library is in Richmond. I spent two days going through records stored there. I found that handwriting from 400 years ago is really hard to read!
Richmond is full of history. We went to the American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar, and there weren't even restaurants or bars close by! We'e like grown-ups!
From Richmond, we drove west toward the Appalachian Mountains. Sherando Lake Recreation area in the George Washington National Forest was our next stop. There was a couple of lakes and a lovely creek running along the edge of the campground. There had been a bear in the park the night before we got there. Luckily, we didn't run in to it while we were there.
We had to drive through the hollows (hollers) of Virginia and West Virginia, which is in The Appalachians, to get far enough west, before we could cut north to Michigan. We set the GPS to the shortest route, instead of the fastest route, so it would take us along the back roads. It delivered! We drove through some really beautiful places. There were large new homes, right across from old log houses. We saw a ton of old barns, some falling down and some still in use. It's hard to get photos on the road, when there aren't places to pull over. Speaking of pulling over…I've noticed that when we were in the Western US, when we pulled out to let cars pass, we'd get a wave, maybe even a little toot-toot of a horn, not so much on this side of the country. Maybe they are just traveling in a less hurried pace, and didn't mind being stuck behind a slow camper?
Our last stop in "The South" was at Babcock State Park, West Virginia, just west of the mountains. Hopefully it's the end of the stupid alcohol laws.
Now that we are out of the mountains the temperature is rising. We still don't want to drive more than three or four hours at a time, but are trying to skip through Ohio and Indiana as quick as we can. That means, we plan on driving every day. Our first campground in Ohio was along the borders of West Virginia and Kentucky. I don't know why I expected the landscape to suddenly change from hills with trees to flat farmland at the border, but I kind of did. We stayed in the Wayne National Forest, on Lake Vesuvius. It was in the high 80s' and super humid, so we found a campground that had electrical hook-ups, so we could run the air conditioner. The next morning was cool enough to have the windows open while we got ready to move on. The smell of flowers was so strong, that's when it hit me, the forests we've been in lately aren't full of pine trees. I always associate camping with the smell of pine trees. It's funny the things you learn when you get out of your little corner of the world!
As we headed deeper into Ohio, I got the view I was expecting. Flat farmland, as far as you can see! It felt like being back home in the Imperial Valley. Although, you don't see old log cabins in the Valley.Since we left Texas, we have been in areas with so many trees, that you can only see a short distance.
After driving down county roads through farmland, yesterday we arrived at Deer Creek State Park. I didn't expect the park to be so big, being out in the middle of nowhere. After checking the weather, we decided to stay here another night. There was a tornado watch yesterday, and high winds expected today. The temperature has dropped 20 degrees since yesterday, so we will go from running the A/C yesterday, to the heater tonight. What can I say, it's the Goldielocks syndrome!