NC to VA to DE (June 2nd to June 18th, 2021)
June 2nd, after about an hour pumping diesel and two hours on the road, we rolled into Fayetteville RV Resort & Cottages in Fayetteville, NC. This is the nicest RV park we have been to yet! The sites had plenty of space, the place was clean, they offer 2 pools, a mini golf course, activities for kids and adults, a spectacular gym, a nature walk and much more. That afternoon, I walked Apollo. Y'all this dog is nuts! I took him for 1.84 miles and he was still riled up so I went back out and walked another 1.42. Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a LOT of energy, way more than we thought dogs could have!
The next morning I chose to go to a Body Pump class at The Spa Fitness & Wellness Center at 5:15am for my workout. It was a great class and it definitely gave me a good idea of what I could do with the bar. I borrowed a bar and plates from ZT's Fitness Studio when I left Palm City so I could push for heavy lifting (and have no excuse since I was lugging around all the weights) while traveling around. After class I went right back to bed and Azlan and I got some good cuddle time before we headed out for the afternoon. We visited the U. S. Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum first, walking through the creation of the Airborne and Special Ops all the way to present times. It was a pretty neat museum, not sure the simulator was worth it, but the displays and information were legit and worth a visit if you are in the area. It was raining a lot that day so we didn't get a chance to walk around outside to see the monuments but planned on returning another day. We stopped off and visited a friend before making a pit stop at the neighborhood Walmart and going to Camping World. Our grill was on it's last leg (and really nasty too) so we opted to get a new one before our get together on the upcoming Saturday. While at our friend's house, he set up a video game for Azlan so us adults could catch up. Well, I went to check on little man a while later and he had switched the games and was now engaged in GTA...Grand Theft Auto. GTA is an extremely violent game with tons of cuss words, murder, robbery, prostitution....basically everything you don't want your 7 year old to see. I quickly changed it and silently prayed that he would not remember what he saw in the game or ask to play it again. Ted and I are not big fans of video games so we don't own any at home and don't plan on getting Azlan any either. Time will tell though.
Friday, June 4th, I joined the ZT's Fit Fam virtually for Tabata and Stretch & Roll classes before Ted took off to do laundry at our GTA (haha) friend's house. Azlan and I spent some time together and I put together a liability waiver for fitness classes that I would like to instruct while on the road. Once I had something I was comfortable with, I gathered my courage and went to ask the front desk of the RV Park if I could teach a Zumba class during our stay. I was stoked to find that the Park manager is a big Zumba fan and so we set it up for me to teach on Monday morning at 8am at the Events Center! YAY!!! I quickly made a flyer so they could put it on their information board. Back in 2018 when we started this journey I thought 'How cool would it be to teach Zumba classes at RV Parks while traveling around?'...now I know!!!
Saturday morning, June 5th, Ted walked Apollo at the Smith Lake Recreation Area before we party prepped. This time I made chili in the Instapot and we grilled chicken and pork instead of the standard hamburger and hotdogs. One small problem though - the brand new grill didn't work!!! WTF!?! Fortunately Ted still had our old nasty grill and it still worked so we ended up ok (but also as a back up, we have a 3 burner gas stove we can set up and cook things in pans instead of on a grill). It all turned out pretty good but I need to tweak the chili recipe a bit...it needs more flavor and I need more practice using the Instapot. Our friends started arriving just before 2pm, we hugged, we cracked open the drinks and we laughed our butts off! Azlan and the kids had a blast playing on the playground, shooting water cannons at each other, chasing the dog, and jumping on my bed. Now, if you know me well, you know I like cleanliness....like a lot....My roommates in college would quickly get annoyed with me as I would walk behind them cleaning and putting things away. I swipe my finger on things to check for dust on a regular basis...well, I used to anyway. Glamping has taught me to chill out a bit with some of my more extreme expectations. For example, when we started the trip, I expected us to remove shoes before entering the Glamper. I laugh at that now, I was naive to think that would happen with a 5 year old and us going in and out of the motor home onto sand, mud, grass, pebbles etc...Tack on Apollo to this leg of the trip and I'm learning to live with a hot mess and dirty feet (thank you therapy and meditation). All in all it was a great party and we really enjoyed the trip down memory lane with friends. Ted imbibed all the things, let's just say he was having a hard time standing up on his own by the end of the night and I took care of clean up.
The next morning, June 6th, Ted was in rough shape but he got up and made us bacon and eggs! My friend from Korea came to visit for a part of the day and we did some Zumba, walked the dog, played in the pool, and had some lunch. We talked like we used to talk on our morning coffee breaks or our afternoon wine sessions. It was a lovely reunion and after she headed out, Ted, Azlan, Apollo and I did a walk-a-bout playing Duck Duck Jeep followed by a Glamper Cubby Cleaning Session. I took pictures so Azlan can remember how to put things away...we are getting there!
Monday morning started off with a fabulous Zumba class at the Events Center! I had so much fun and burned over 500 calories!!! Thank you so much to Fayetteville RV Resort & Cottages for the opportunity to share the love! Shortly after my smiling sweat sesh, Ted dropped Azlan and I off to get hair cuts while he went to exchange the grill. Turns out that this was the 4th grill of 17 sold at this store that didn't work. Ted took the manager's recommendation and selected a different grill. When we all reconnected after fresh do's and a new grill, we were introduced to Biscuitville Fresh Southern. We watched biscuits being made and counted 27 from a ball of dough. These things were delicious!!! If we ever see one again, we will certainly stop for some delicious fresh made biscuits with butter and honey. Once we had our fill, we returned to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum to explore the exterior monuments, finding all the units Ted served with. Across the way we found the North Carolina Veterans Park - Wow! This is "America’s First Sanctuary Community for the Military. Fayetteville is proud to be the home of the North Carolina Veterans Park. The first state park dedicated to military veterans – young and old...living or deceased…from all branches of the Armed Services: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard." Their One Hundred Hands installation features 100 bronze and/or cast hands, each coming from a different county in NC - each hand is one of a veteran that has pledged the oath of service. Hands are at shoulder height, caught in the moment of swearing the oath, all right hands but one (as the right hand had been left behind in war). It was a very powerful experience walking around both the Airborne & Special Operations Museum and the North Carolina Veterans Park. Memories from deployments and reintegrations came back, bringing with them a big box of feelings with the tape ripped off. Some tears were shed but we choose to hold onto the good memories and positive outcomes of our years dedicated to the military.
That afternoon Azlan and I attended a Dental Hygene class given by one of the teachers at the RV Park. I followed up the class with a few Zumba songs for the kids to show them a fun way to stay active. It was a lot of fun and the kids seemed to have a blast! Dinner that night was at a friend's house, a friend that I met back when Ted and I first met - circa 2002. We were welcomed with open arms into their beautiful home, complete with a shiny pole that I got slide down...hahaha! The Pork Wellington, Rice and Homemade & Dressed Salad all prepared by a professional chef (our friend) were phenomenal and the company even better. We will be visiting them again for sure and next time I will do one of his CrossFit classes too (and drink a bit less wine)!
Tuesday morning Ted and a buddy hiked Carver Creek State Park with Apollo while Azlan and I slept in. This is his experience:
I arrive at Carver Creek park which is closed and my friend is not yet there, so I parked on the side of the road...despite the signs that specifically forbid this...and let Apollo out to poop. My friend arrives...and parks on the side of the road...I guess its cool...off we go. Immediately the bugs swarm...holy shit do they swarm...we continue on and loop back around to the cars but continue on for another mile or so the other direction. This trail dips down toward the Creek and the swarm increases...we turn back, it was nuts. Back to the cars with a few more bites than anticipated and off to downtown Fayetteville. I was down here twice today, once for breakfast and once for dinner which comes later. I have to tell you that this Fayetteville is significantly different than the one I remember from 20 years ago when I was here last. Its actually quite nice and I am impressed with the charm that it exudes. Try to remember that when I was here last I wasn't dining with friends in a sit down...daylight...atmosphere, I was drinking my face off at night, so memories could be skewed. I arrive first and go sit down with Apollo, as I approach I wish a good morning to the two people sitting at another table, "Good morning Fellas". This enrages one of them who is offended that I called them "Fellas", apparently she is Trans and I have committed a sin which she feels compelled to confront me about. "Excuse me, can’t you see I'm a woman?" To which I respond, "No. But now that you bring attention to it, I can see that." She cuts me off and starts to get mean, which isn't helping her situation with me any, I cut her off and say "Stop! At a distance you look like a man, I said Fellas. I don't care, you live your life, I’ll live mine. I'm sorry I said Fellas." She turned and sat down and so did I, my friend arrived and we took turns going inside to order food and staying outside with Apollo. Food came, we ate and talked and enjoyed each others company, but the whole time I'm keeping my eye on her. She gets up while we are finishing coffee and chatting and comes over to throw her trash away right next to me...and then pets Apollo...like nothing ever happened. My friend and I say our goodbyes and I go home to tell Daisa about my adventure! WOOHOO!!!
My college roommate came to visit for a few hours while Ted and Azlan poked around Fort Bragg and had ice cream for lunch. Yes, Ted fed Azlan ice cream for lunch! I was proud of myself when I was able to let it go instead of nagging them about eating vegetables and drinking water and avoiding sweets. I’m getting better at this. My friend and I caught up and shared some stories, it was really great to see her, even if for just a few hours. Ted and Azlan also dropped off our laundry to get done since we ended up fitting in additional visits. That afternoon I made good use of the spiffy gym at the RV park, then gave the Glamper a good cleaning while Ted gave Apollo a bath. That night we dined at Huske Hardware, a previous strip club in Fayetteville, with some friends. We met their beautiful baby girl and enjoyed a great meal. Hopefully we will get to see them all again in the future!
On June 9th I got to teach Zumba again! We had a blast and I definitely saw sweaty smiles all around! Two more people joined us! I took a quick shower and we rolled out in the Glamper, heading north to Newport News, VA. Apollo got quite antsy so we pulled over thinking he might need to pee. Well 3 little droplets of pee later, we decided not to stop again for a while. But, since we were already stopped and Azlan was watching TV and Apollo was calm again....we may or may not have rocked the Glamper before getting back on the road (wink wink).
The RV site at Bethel FAM Camp was a back-in. This usually means we have to drop the Jeep, then the trailer, connect the trailer to the Jeep and move it to another spot in the overflow lot because most back in sites are not made for 60' long rigs. The site was 19 of 25 tucked away into some tall trees and a nicely wooded area. We opened up all the windows in the Glamper and shut off the AC. It was soothing to feel a light breeze, hear the birds chirping at random and look at the lush greenery just outside. Aside from the sandy mud, it was a great site!
Thursday morning we went to Waller Mill Park in Williamsburg, VA to hike the Lookout Tower Trail Loop and Shelter Trail Loop. Normally, if there isn't a lot of foot traffic on the trail, we let Apollo off the leash so he can move about freely and be a dog. He stays within about 20-30 feet of us as we move forward at a decent walking pace. Sometimes, though, he gets enamored with runners and loses his freedom privileges. We didn't encounter any runners this time...however we did have a run in with some ticks! As we were driving back to the Glamper recounting our favorite parts of this great hike we just completed, Azlan starts screaming "There are bugs on the dog mom! There are bugs on the dog!", so I reach back in that awkward front seat twist position and grab a paw. I see a bug moving and grabbed it then seeing it was a tick against my own skin - I immediately put my hand out the window and brushed it off onto the highway while asking Ted to stop the Jeep - we had ticks!!!! We all jump out of the Jeep, Ted takes Apollo far down the shoulder to pry the ticks off one by one while I inspect Azlan. Poor kid getting naked on the side of the road, a big dude tackling a dog and all doors open on a bright yellow Jeep. We must have been a site on the side of the road! So much so, the VDOT Service Truck pulled up and sent us packing. When we got back to the Glamper we did another inspection on Azlan and myself while Ted went over Apollo with a fine toothed comb. With tweezers and lighter in hand, we pulled another 6 ticks. Yikes! We then made an appointment with the first Vet that had availability to get some good tick meds and make sure Apollo was going to be ok. The rest of the day we just chilled and ended up ordering Pizza and stuffing our faces.
The next morning, we visited the Hilton Animal Hospital in Newport News, VA. They were great with Apollo - very friendly staff. Our boy is good to go and now we know to check ourselves and the dog for ticks regularly. We crated up Apollo in the motorhome so he could rest while the three of us went out for a late breakfast at Indulge Bakery & Bistro (delicious by the way!) and explored Fort Fun, the Virginia War Museum and the Huntington Park Rose Garden. Azlan and I swung really high, Ted walked the plank and Azlan played hide and seek during our hour at Fort Fun. We then parked at the museum and walked about the grounds and to the rose garden. They had some beautiful roses and we are thankful we made time to stop and smell them. We raced back to the museum...Azlan likes to race and it keeps us young so sometimes we comply. He's getting faster and faster though! We get tickets and start moving through the war museum. The first thing I read is about a mother loosing her son and I started tearing up. Ted took Azlan so I could read the plaques taking us from the revolutionary war forward. This museum was great! I loved how it was laid out and the information they provided was well written and it was easy to understand event sequences. After a while, Ted and I switched and Azlan and I explored while Ted read up on history. After the Virginia War museum, we went back to walk Apollo. Our route led us through the very first battle of the Civil War - The Battle of Big Bethel, where the very first Confederate death occurred. Pretty cool that the campground is a battle field. We finished out our walk in the kids park where Ted and I climbed a rock wall. I got up a harder side and it made me feel really good! So good in fact that the next day I pulled out the bar and plates for a well weighted leg session before our friends came over for the afternoon. We were stationed with these friends in our pre-kid stage in Hawaii. It was odd to see us all grown and with kids...almost like we knew what we were doing! We had a blast catching up, their kids played with Azlan and we got several dog walks out of them too!
The next morning, June 13th, I took Apollo for a walk in the New Quarter Park on Loops 1-9 for a 3.84 mile walk. We were the only ones on the trails so he got to roam free most of the time. I didn't put in headphones and opted to listed to nature...so glad I did. Now a days we are constantly connected to electronics and stimulation, we hardly spend time just being, just listening to the natural sounds around us like the birds chirping, the leaves rustling in the wind, or the sound of your feet making contact with the ground. It was a peaceful hike, one that I would love to repeat again one day...not necessarily these specific trails in this specific park...but a nature hike in silence. Later that day my friend and I got some girl time while getting mani-pedis and some shopping in while the guys and kids went to a jump park. Our steak and sweet potato dinner was on point, we had more laughs and I had too much wine again! Ugh! I'm not doing nearly as well with nutrition as I could be but I'm also trying not to beat myself up about it either. The trip will end and I will go back to a solid routine soon enough.
Monday, June 14th, we opted for a family hike on The Noland Trail at the Mariner's Museum and Park. It's a 5 mile trail but we shortened it to 4 by taking a different route - Azlan was reaching his walking limit. One of the park crew gave Azlan folding binoculers so he could check out the birds, we will be holding onto those for a while (or until Apollo eats it). I tried some trail running with Apollo. I normally hate running, but on the trail, in the woods - I think I could do that and enjoy it. My biggest concern would be twisting my bad ankle so I would probably run in boots...we shall see. I also used the restroom in the museum and it looked really nice. I saw a lot of boat mock ups and then it clicked....Ted is a Captain, duh! He needs to check this museum out! After we dropped Apollo off at the Glamper, we ventured off to Smith's Fort Plantation. In 1609 Captain John Smith built a fort on the south side of the James River. The fort, abandoned in 1610, was intended to serve as a retreat position should Jamestown come under attack. In 1614, Chief Powhatan (Pocahontas' father), gave Pocahontas and her husband, John Rolfe, the land as a wedding gift although they never lived there. Wait, what? Pocahontas didn't marry John Smith?!?!? Mind Blown! Geez, thanks, Disney! That's right, we learned that Pocahontas was in regular contact with the English and the English ended up kidnapping her for ransom in order to force Chief Powhatan to cooperate with their demands. The Chief told the English to keep his daughter...and so she became acclimated to the English way of life and one day met a man named John Rolfe. He married her after requesting permission from the powers that be as marrying a "savage" was unheard of at the time…and she also had to get baptized. In 1616 they traveled to England where Pocahontas, or Rebecca (her English name), was presented to the king and queen as an example of a civilized savage. Unfortunately, she never made it out of Europe alive, she passed away after being really sick from all the European diseases. The gentleman giving us a tour of the plantation did a great job of providing us with 17th-20th century history about the area and the brick house we were in. Next we took the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry over to Colonial Williamsburg for a little visit to the past. They had these metal plaques on the paved walkway leading into the town marking impactful points in history. As you approached the town you moved back in time and as you moved away from the town you came back to the future (haha). It was very clever. Walking around the town was nice, we only had an hour so we didn't stop and talk to any of the guides. All in all it was a great day!
June 15th, moving day. After Apollo's walk and my upper body workout, we checked out the Mariner's Museum. They have this fantastic display of International Boats, including one of the smallest boats to cross the Atlantic (85 days in a space smaller than 6'x6')! Azlan and I explored some on our own after a delicious snack at the cafe while Ted soaked in as much as he could as quickly as he could. We ended up leaving Bethel Fam Camp well after noon which totally made Ted grumpy. Moving days are stressful. It's not easy to drive a 60' rig when people are trying to cut you off, the wind is howling and you are in unfamiliar territory. While we are glad we went to the museum, we will not be doing any activities the morning of a moving day from here on out. With that we say 'Bye Bye Virginia!' Hats off to your spectacular parks!
Our drive to Rehoboth Beach, DE was uneventful, except for some traffic. We rolled into the Sea Air Village and drove around a bit before finding our site (adding to Ted's frustration). After we pulled in, we realized the connections were on the other side so he had to turn the whole rig around. Turns out that the sewer and electric were on one side and water on the other - one of the more odd sites we've seen. This place is mainly a mobile home community of permanent and seasonal residents with less than 10 transient sites. We were tired and still had an energetic puppy to walk so we called it an early night. On the 16th we had breakfast at IHOP and then went to the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, where Ted used to come when he was Azlan's age. We ate the delicious french fries, had ice cream, played games and walked around. When we were sufficiently over-stimulated, we headed back to the Glamper so I could walk Apollo. We did 2.67 miles and this dog was still going! Honestly though, if it weren't for the dog, I might not be as active as I am right now. Thursday I got up and joined my ZT's Fit Fam for Build & Define and Stretch & Flow. Once Apollo was walked and I was finished working out, we drove just over an hour to Assateague Island National Seashore. We opted for some beach time before driving around to explore and hopefully see some wild horses. The surf was rough and the wind was kicking. I laid out on the woobie, making a wall with the cooler backpack to shield off the wind, and promptly fell asleep feeling like I was back on Keiki Beach on the North Shore of Oahu. Azlan braved the shore break and played around under Ted's supervision. An hour passed before we drove through the rest of the park...which wasn't much since most of it required a permit to drive on the sand. It was getting late and we still had an hour to drive home so we opted to forgo the sandy drive this time and got to see horses as we passed the State Park intersection. It's fortunate that we opted to pass on the sandy drive because the rattling I had been complaining about on the Jeep finally got loud enough for Ted to hear and then it started making the Jeep shake and stutter when Ted hit the breaks....shit! We barely made it into Robert's Repair Shop in Bethany Beach (about half way back to the Glamper) just to be told that they couldn't help us. AAA finally came in handy though! Ted called for a tow and Azlan and I got an Uber back to the Glamper so we could let Apollo out. The process of getting us all home took less time than I anticipated. I tried to keep us all in good spirits despite our Jeep set back. June 18th rolls around and it's my turn for a morning walk with Apollo again. We walked about 2.5 miles through the outlet mall well before they opened up for the day. Ted and I decided that no matter what happened with the Jeep, we would press on to Washington, DC the next day, as planned. So, we had to go grocery shopping but as we looked for Ubers, we found they are not very common here. The three of us end up walking to Walmart which is about 1.3 miles away with the intention of booking an Uber home (if we could get one). Well, turns out the Walmart is not a super center and does not have groceries (we were surprised...and I felt a bit spoiled having everything you need in one spot and thinking back to times where I had to go to 4 or 5 different places to get all the items we needed when we were living abroad)! Ted and Azlan ended up Ubering home while I walked to Safeway to finish the shopping. I waited almost an hour for an Uber...luckily ice cream was not on my list this time! Ted and Azlan went back to the Boardwalk as we had promised rides at some point and I took this time to finish up the blog. Tonight, Ted and I are making a frozen dinner called Voila! We used to make these in Italy back in 2002 when we first started dating. Lately, we have been reminiscing quite a bit, remembering all the places we've been and all the people that have touched our lives. We are so grateful for the time we are spending with friends and family on this trip so far, it's such a precious gift. If nothing else, this past year has taught us that life is too short to live in fear and isolated from people. It's too short to wallow in anger and hold grudges. It's too short not to live. I know not everyone feels like we do, and that is ok. A fantastic benefit of our freedom as Americans is that we can agree to disagree - and still live in peace with respect and with kindness towards our fellow humans.
Stay tuned as we move north into DC and beyond!
Daisa, Ted and Azlan