Monday, September 30, 2013

Short Travel Day to Dam Neck

Judy and I left Cheatham Annex late Sunday morning to travel to our next destination- the small naval base at Dam Neck just six miles south of Virginia Beach. A little known fact about the base is it is home to an elite Naval Fighting Force rumored to have taken out UBL. My history here dates back to early 1972 when I was a young sailor attending courses at the Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Training Center Atlantic as it was called then. My last three years in the Navy I was the Command Master Chief of Naval Ocean Processing Facility (NOPF) Dam Neck. If you would like to know more about what NOPF does Click.

We took an interesting route via the James Town Ferry to Dam Neck so we could stop by one of our favorite eateries, Cowlings Barbeque. Judy and I ate there many times as we transitioned from the military to our Bedford period.  The drive was only 115 miles even though we took the long way around. We will be staying here for 2 weeks.

Crossing the James River
217 Ferry
Cowlings Barbeque217 Cowlings BBQ Sign
217 Cowlings bbq
Sea Mist Oceanside RV Park
217 site 25    217 ocean
That is all for now.  Thanks for Stopping by.
Next Blog: Wed

Saturday, September 28, 2013

CAX Fall Bash 2013

Wednesday when we "checked-in at the Cheatham Annex  (CAX) RV Park at the Morale and Welfare  (MWR) office, Bill invited Judy and I to the "CAX Fall Bash" scheduled for Friday evening. Judy and I always like to partake in a "Good Tme" so we told Bill he would see us there.

We have enjoyed all the improvements of the new RV Park . I could get spoiled on cable, wifi, full hook-ups and a modern  laundromat .  As Judy and I toured the base including a look at the OLD RV area, Judy reminded me of our first visit here, twenty three years ago!  At the time we did not have a camper.  MWR had a couple of  "pop-ups" set up for week-end rental by sailors. When I made the reservation,s I was informed that I could  rent a  "cabin" there for just a few dollars more. As it turned out, Judy and I were the first campers to rent the new cabin - a small single wide mobile home. Yep, it is still there, not looking as new. As soon as we saw it Judy explained all the details down to the smell of the new carpet. How do women remember such insignificant details?

The Cabin

We had a fun time at the CAX Fall Bash last evening. The food was worth standing in line for. There were lots of things for kids to do and a chance to meet new friends, like Barbara and Butch. The DJ played good tunes and the fire was awesome on this cool evening. I was informed that MWR puts on this type of event for the RV Park three times each year (Spring, Summer, and Fall). For the readers not familiar with area, CAX is located in the historical triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Busch Gardens, and Water Country USA are also located within a few miles.

CAX FALL Bash 2013

Judy always finds the food line

Activities to keep the kids busy

Judy with Barbara and Butch (retired Air Force)

Around the Bon Fire

Welcome to new followers, Jean and Pete. That is all for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Monday

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Travel Day - King's Creek Fam-Campground

Wed Judy and I got a late morning start on our travel day to the Williamsburg area of Virginia.  I finished my last task at the SML SP dump station at 9:30.

Most of the 214 mile drive was so relaxing through the Virginia countryside.  If you have ever driven in the VA. countryside you know what I mean.  It was so nice not having tire problems. The "Pressure Pro" TPMS was silent the entire trip, silence truly is golden.

Judy and I arrived at the "King's Creek" CG at 4:00 PM and had the fiver set up on the nice concrete pad in no time.  Judy was so excited that she could use the SAT for Direct TV, although the sites have cable. The CG is located on Cheatham Annex,  part of the Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown, VA.  I have been here at the weapons station many times on various "Ships of the Line" to get our combat load out before forward deployment.  In the evening I heard the crack of small arms fire from the nearby small arms training range. It was a comforting sound. 

Site #10 "Kings Cross" CG

I pulled the following CG description from, US Military Campgrounds and Rv Parks

Cheatham Annex offers one of the best outdoor recreation sites in the Navy. It exemplifies the coexistence between the Navy mission and the environment. Our 2,300 acres of woodlands and lakes are home to white-tailed deer, raccoon, squirrel, cotton tail, beaver and otter. More than 150 species of birds live in our woodlands year-round. Do not be surprised if you spot wild turkeys, osprey, great blue herons, great-horned owls, swans, quail or pheasants as you vacation. Our three freshwater lakes abound with large mouth bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish, to excite even the veteran fisherman.

The CG, like all famCamps on military bases is only available to active military or military retirees.

That is all for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Sat.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Smith Mountain Lake State Park

Judy and I have only one more night here at Smith MTN Lake SP so I wanted to devote a little blog space to it. The park is situated a little south of and between Roanoke and Lynchburg, VA. I used to fish its crystal clear waters during my summers off from teaching when Judy and I lived in Bedford, VA. I did feel a small amount of guilt during those summers when I was out on my bass boat and Judy was stuck at work dealing with high finances of the banking world.

Here are a few pics

The park is a great place to relax and enjoy beautiful scenery and tranquility.  Like all the Virginia State Parks I have been to it is well maintained and highly rated.  In the fall it is surrounded by gorgeous foliage. Judy and I are here about three weeks early for that show.  The RV sites are spacious and level.  The camp host here, Tommy and Barbara have been excellent host. They have been fulltimers since 2003.  They will be leaving for St. Cloud, FL. in Nov. 

Smith Mountain Lake SP "Host" Tommy and Barbara

That is all for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Sat

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Seeing Old Friends and Going a Retro

We have been here almost a week but it sure doesn't seem like it.  Judy and I have been so busy going to see old friends and just enjoying being in the Bedford, VA. area.

We had a scheduled lunch date Sat. afternoon with Winston  and Delores at the Lynchburg, VA. Shaker's Restaurant. Winston and Delores were Judy's colleagues when we lived here from 1995- 2003 and Judy and Delores have stayed in close contact. It was great seeing them and catching up.

Before Judy and I met them we stopped at the Lynchburg Best Buy to kill some time looking at new electronics.  While there a young man about twenty five came up to me and said "Hi, Mr. Maddox you were my Civics teacher at Bedford Middle School. If Peter had not spoken to me I most likely would not have known him, but as soon as he mentioned his name I knew exactly who he was. He told he had graduated from JMU and would soon be going to school in Seattle for his Masters. It really surprised me that he would remember me some 12-13 years, not mention recognizing me without one of my "signature" ties on.

As we were heading to the CG Judy said she wanted a sweet treat. I told her I would stop at the Mayberry Diner and Drive-In. Yes, a working drive-in. It is located three miles from the CG. It was not here when we lived in the area. It was in Portsmouth, VA. until about five years ago when the new owner bought it. He took it apart and had it shipped here and he reassembled it. We ate breakfast there a couple of days ago when it was pouring down rain. When we arrived last night the CG host, Tommy and Barbara were there so Judy and I joined them. Judy was treated to a delicious hot fudge sundae.
Judy going for the retro "Hot Fudge Sundae

The Mayberry Diner

That is all for now.  Thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Thurs

Friday, September 20, 2013

Overcast, Rain the Order of the next Two Days

The weather has kept Judy and I close to the RV today and it is looking like it will be a repeat Sat.  We are using the day to sit around the RV and read or otherwise just take it easy. Rainy days have the same effects on ones activities much like it did when we lived in stix and brix.

One good thing to report is that the four replacement tires arrived at Arrington's Tire Service today but it will be Monday before we take the Fiver over. I had planned to wait until Wed the day we leave to have the change out but have changed my mind. because I would rather not have to do it on a travel day.

That is all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day Trip- Booker T. Washington National Monument

Smith Mountain Lake SP, Bedford, VA.

Judy and I have been here for two great days.  The weather is perfect, 72'ish during the day and upper 40's at night. Tue I took Judy around to see many of her former banker friends in and around Lynchburg. They all seemed very happy to see her and I know she enjoyed seeing them.  I did drop by Bedford Middle School to see some of my teacher friends. I got to talk with Walter,  a social studies colleague of mine quite awhile. I will drop back by one day to see a couple of folks  that I missed.  I was surprised to find that only about four of the teachers from my time at BMS were still there. I guess a lot changes in 10yrs.

Today Judy and I took a trip to the Booker T. Washington National Monument located nearby in Hardy, VA.  We could not have had nicer weather for the self guided tour along the plantation trail which leads through the historic section of the park.  It included a replica of the slave cabin Washington lived in during his nine years as a slave until freed in 1865 when the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 was read by a Union Officer at the plantation after the conclusion of the Civil War'

Entrance to the Booker T. Washington National Monument

Replica of  Washington's one room  dirt floor cabin he shared with his family for nine years
Judy Reading one of the information stations along the self guided tour

That's all for now.  Thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Friday

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Care Free Travel Day, Not

Bedford VA. High 73, Low 47

Downhill From Here!

Judy and I were up early Monday so we could be packed-up/hitched-up and rolling by 9:00AM.  After a short stop at the dump station we departed "Twin Lakes" ACOE CG at 9:04.  I said to myself, "this is going to be a great travel day."

We were driving to Smith Mountain Lake SP in Bedford, County, VA.  Judy and I lived in Bedford after I retired from the USN in 1995 until 2003. I GCed our retirement home on 10 acres of beautiful land in the shadows of the "Peaks of Otter. More on this in a future post. Obviously, the retirement home thing didn't workout.

The trip was going great until the Pressure Pro TPMS begin to flash and give out a loud audible tone. It is never good when this happens. A quick glance at the display and I could see there was a problem with the roadside forward tire on the Cardinal. The display also indicated that the tire pressure was decreasing at moderate rate. I pulled over onto the safety shoulder and went and did a visual check. The tire was very "hot"to the touch compared to the adjacent tire.  I determined that I could make it to the next exit about a mile away.  Once there, I saw a Citgo station that had a large paved lot and in the rear three diesel fuel islands. That was good!! I pulled in and went into the store and talked with the attendant and explained my plan. I wanted to pull along side one of the fuel islands, run an extension cord to an electrical outlet and use my air compressor to inflate the tire to determine if it would hold air long enough to drive to a tire repair facility.  Judy and I work as a team, she got the extension cord out and plugged into the compressor and I got the air hose plugged into the compressor and inflated the tire. After inflating it to 80psi I could hear it leaking air. The store clerk gave me a recommendation for a tire service about four miles away. I got on the phone to Snider Tire service. The rep was great. He waited on the phone while I rechecked the tire pressure so I could determine the air loss rate. The tire was down to about 45PSI. It had been about 15 min so the tire rep and I thought I could make to the facility ok. He gave me the address, which I put in the GPS. Another good reason to have a GPS.

inflated the tire to 80PSI, quickly put the extension cord and air hose away and went in and thanked the store attendant. We arrived at the tire facility about 15 min. later. I was expecting a small tire store but it was a huge "BIG Truck " repair facility.  The company was Snider Transportation Solutions. I met with the service rep, Scott, who I had spoken with on the phone. He directed me into a large service bay. He showed Judy and I to a very nice customer lounge.  We felt a little out of place as we were the only non-18 wheeler drivers there!  Scott returned 15 min. later and told me the tire was leaking from the sidewall. That is not repairable. He asked if I had a spare and I told him I did and would get it out. In a short while he came and let Judy and I know the fiver was ready to go. He also told us there was no charge since the tire was not repairable!  I asked if I could "tip" the tech and Scott said that would be ok.  We had been off the road for an hour and a half but it could have been a whole lot worse!  Needless to say the fiver will have all new tires before we leave Bedford. This is the second time my "Pressure System" has alerted me to tire problems on the road. I am also glad I had an air compressor. I had purposely stowed it in an accessible spot just inside the basement in case I needed  it on the road.

I recommend a TPMS for all traveling Full-Timers
Glad I had my air compressor just inside the basement
After leaving Greensboro, NC we arrived at Smith Mountain Lake CG at 6:45PM. Later than I had planned but still happy it wasn't any later given the days events. I will be posting more info and pics of the area soon.

That is all for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Thur.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Blanton Creek Campground Workamper Summary

I thought it would be helpful to write a few lines about our workamper experience at Blanton Creek for any workampers who read our blog.  Judy and I first heard of this opportunity from one of our retired neighbors who worked at one of the GA Power Parks located nearby on Lake Oconee.  GA Power operates CGs in three areas of the state. (Click here for GA Power Lakes)  Blanton Creek is located near Columbus, GA on Lake Harding. The season runs from Mar. - Labor Day.  During the two seasons we worked there we worked every other week. Our work week was pretty much 24/7 since you are on-call from closing until opening. On the off-week there is ample time to explore the area. Atlanta is only an hour or so away. Each couple works as an independent contractor, not as an employee of GA Power. On the down side there are some start-up costs that " contractors" are responsible for; (a.) Liability Ins. policy ($ 600-700 annually), (b). Drug screening ($100.00 X2 initially), background check ($150- 200 X2 initially). The hosts have a full-hook up site as well as earning a salary.

Judy and I both agree that Blanton Creek was a great workamper experience.  Usually only Friday and Sat we were extremely busy. Mon-Thurs' slow pace gave us time to enjoy the park and to take care of any errands we had. We got to know many of the campers on a personal level since most lived local and came to the park often.  The main reason our experience was so enjoyable was  the friendship we had with our Ga. Power boss Mike, Richard- the park maintenance rep, and our co-host Ed and Char. All of them contributed in making this a memorable workamper experience more than they know.  If you would like additional details just send me a email.

Mike took the time to takes us to lunch and express his thanks for our time at Blanton Creek
Richard, "Always on the job"

Ed and Char

Welcome to new follower Debbie. That is all for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Next blog: Wed

Friday, September 13, 2013

On the Road Again

Judy and I were up early Thur. morning so we could get on the road by 9ish.  Judy finished the final touches on the inside and I disconnected all the outside connections. We  took one last ride in the golf cart into the campground. We fed Bridgett for Keith and Merle. They went to FL for a few days. If all goes well they will be taking Bridgett out of the park on Mon.
I pulled the fiver out of the “host” site around 9:00 Am closing the Blanton Creek workcamper chapter. I will post a short summary of our two seasons here in a couple of days
Pulling Out.
208 pulling out 
Judy locking gate as leave
  208 Judy locking gate
The 200 mile trip to Twin Lakes CG went very smoothly.  Driving through Atlanta on I85 would have been more challenging if Judy had not been following behind me in the CRV. She would “block” for me during lane changes. We got to the CG around 3:00 PM. We stopped twice, once for breakfast and one rest break.

Once getting set-up we went into Clemson, SC for dinner and to get a 25’ fresh water hose. My 25’ hose was about five feet too short.  Once back to the CG we cleaned up and did nothing but relax for the rest of the evening. We will be here until Monday AM.
That is all for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Sun.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ready to Roll

Judy and I are spending our last night at Blanton Creek. We have been busy making preps to "get underway" Thurs. morning for Twin Lakes CG located on Lake Hartwell just inside SC. It takes a lot of work getting ready to leave after six months of sitting in one place. It took us almost two days.

We hope to hit the road by 9:00 AM for the 190 mile drive. I'll let you know how the drive goes.

Judy's leaving haircut by Brenda, one of our campers.

Everything is back in the basement.

The roof was swept off and the Cardinal washed.

That's all for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Next blog: Friday

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Reflective Mood

Today for some reason I woke up in a reflective mood.  On rare occasions I will save items or articles I come across to reread from time to time. One of the blogs I read is RV-Dreams, written by Howard and Linda and I saved their post of December 04, 2011. It contained an article written by Bronnie Ware titled " Regrets of the Dying".  Below, I have reposted the article.

Regrets of the Dying
For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
That is all for now.  Thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Friday

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Great Conversation and Excellent Dinner

Merle and Keith, our friends who are by far the most regular visitors to the park invited Judy and I to dinner at their home Friday evening.  We had been over for drinks and out to dinner previously but Merle wanted us to come over for a sit-down dinner before Judy and I got on the road.

Merle and Keith invited neighborhood friends Mike and Bobbie over also. Like Merle and Keith, they were wonderful conversationalist. Bobbie and I had something in common- we both were middle school teachers. She is still at it though. Mike found that Judy can hold her own in any sports discussion particularly baseball.

We knew Merle and Keith were wonderful host and when dinner was served we discovered their awesome culinary talent. Merle had chosen to serve roasted potatoes w/rosemary, baked salmon in soy sauce & maple syrup, baked Cauliflower and panna cotta topped with blue berries (from her garden).

Judy and I had a great time visiting with everyone. Here are a few pics of the evening;

Dinner is served!      (Click pics to enlarge)

Time to Eat!

Bobbie and Mike

That is all for now.  Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for your comments.
Next Blog: Monday

Friday, September 6, 2013

A New Home for Bridgett

About a month and a half ago I noticed a small white stray dog had decided to take up residence here at the park. Luckily, she was a mild meek non-aggressive dog. I thought she would be here a few days and then move on--- well that didn't happen. She soon determined she liked site 29 and settled in. 

I need a friend!

Judy and I aren't in a position to take in a pet but we did hope a camper would take her in.  It had happened in the past. It would be harder with this dog because it would not let anyone get within about 8ft. The weekend campers would place food all around the camping area for her. They were worried about what would happen to her after we closed the park.

I have mentioned two of the park's regulars, Keith and Merle in other posts. They come into the park almost everyday for their morning walk about with Suzie their Yorkie.  They immediately formed an attachment to our canine resident and she was soon following them around on their morning walks but being careful not to get too close. Keith and Merle informed us that they had decided that they would take the stray, who they had taken to calling Bridgett, in if they could ever get close to her. Well, their slow determined approach has paid off. I drove down into the park yesterday AM and I witnessed Bridgett letting them pat her and staying close to them. They are going to wait a week or so before they try to get her into their truck. They plan to take Bridgett straight to the vet for a complete check-up before taking her home. Bridgett couldn't find a better home!!

Merle, Suzie and Keith

New friends, Keith and Bridgett

That's all for now.  Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your comments.
Next Blog: Sat

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Game Day

Judy and I headed up to Atlanta Wed to catch the Braves and Mets game.  It was the first game that Judy and I went to together this season. Earlier in the season Jim (Tumbleweed) and I made it up for a game during the time he and Dee were staying at the park.  The game results were the same, the Braves lost! Oh well, at least we got to enjoy the overpriced hot dogs and "ball park atmosphere". Too bad we will be out of the area when the post season games begin. On second thought maybe we should stay away since the Braves seem to falter each time we attend in person. The Braves kept a lot of the first string players out of the game to rest them for the upcoming post season play.

Judy with "Hammering Hank"

Action on the field - Turner Field

The gold dome of the capital

That's is all for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Sat

Monday, September 2, 2013

Blanton Creek RV Park, CLOSED until next Season

Labor Day, marked the end of the 2013 camping season and our last working day. All sites were occupied making for a busy three days for Judy and I.  We got to see a lot of our "regulars" and let them know we would not be returning next year because of our travel goals. Many advised us to follow our dreams while we don't have any major health issues. All said some very nice things about the way Judy and I performed our host duties and said they would miss us. We know we will miss them and our co-hosts, Ed & Char.

The earliest we plan to leave here will be 8 Sept and the latest will be around 12 Sept. It was very nice of Mike to let us hang around the park until we decide what day we will leave. I am sure we will be seeing him and Richard during this time. As I have said before, this has been a great gig.

Here are a few pics from this weekend. Note: click pic to enlarge

A new toy for Brad!

Richard, #6 pedestal is down for the count.

The last Blanton Creek visitors for the 2013 season loading up to leave

Closing the Gate to officially end the 2013 Camping season!

That is it for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Friday