Thursday, March 26, 2020

Greenville, SC

After Three Days of Rain

We knew we were going to settle in for a month to sit out the "crazy" and needed a place that we could hike and bike ride to keep our sanity and stay healthy. We also wanted to be close to grocery stores and a good climate. Greenville fit the bill. 
The owner of the campground is keeping our site open for us in case we want to stay more than a month.

Most RV Parks seem to have train tracks nearby. This time the tracks run through the campground dividing it into two sections. We thought that we could deal with after spending three months in Oceanside, California next to the Coaster train tracks in the past. The first night I was surprised to hear a short distant whistle and then the train creeping quietly by. If I hadn't been awake, I wouldn't have heard it.
 Greenville has such a cool downtown with the falls as the center. There is a stage for concerts when distancing isn't required.
Local businesses are adapting to the new "normal" of distancing. Discount Tires has a routine to protect their employees. Mike made his appointment and paid for his tires online, pulled up to the check in sign, texted that he was there, drove into the bay, got out of the truck
until they were done. They waved him over when they were done and off he went.
 All of this rain and warm weather has flowers popping up everywhere. I wakeup every morning wondering if "it" has gotten me until I take a Benadryl and takes care of the sneezing and itchy eyes.

The Swamp Rabbit Trail, a rails to trail that runs 22 miles through Greenville along the Reedy River to Travelers Rest.
We got a late start on our bike ride since it was still cloudy after the rain and the roads were still wet. This had us at mile 16 at 1pm on the Swamp Rabbit Trail when I started getting hungry. A Cliff Bar wasn't going to make it any better. We had ridden by the Swamp Rabbit Cafe. Carryout
is still allowed in South Carolina. We sat under a tree and figured out how to order online and paid for our sandwich. We had rode the 4 miles back and our turkey pesto sandwich was ready for a picnic by the river. That was such a great sandwich with crunchy bread that you could
taste the salt and olive oil crust.
 The falls after the rain.

We were scheduled to camp host at Paris Mountain State Park this summer for a month but canceled. Our first hike in Paris Mountain was on the Sulfur Springs Trail with a nice gradual 3 miles uphill and a steep 1 mile down.  The trail meanders alongside a mountain stream with the gurgling sounds of the water washing over the rocky bottom and an occasional footbridge.
The park itself was built in 1936 by the CCC, a public work relief program initiated after the Great Depression that put Americans back to work. The land where the park sits is filled with folklore carried forward from the days when the Cherokee Indians lived here.
 Many state and federal parks are closing because people weren't social distancing which is unfortunate. People need to be able to get outside for their mental and physical health but also need to use their heads.
Between hiking and cycling, we have been making plenty of good food. This morning, Mike is making orange ricotta pancakes and freezes half of them for another day. Better take another walk after that or a little Yoga with Adrienne online.

There are times when I get anxious over everything going on. I try to step back and appreciate the day we have together. We are fortunate. Stay well both physically and mentally and turn off the TV news. It can make us crazy. Let us know what you are doing to shake off the "crazy".

Friday, March 20, 2020

Charleston, SC

A day at the beach

It's a good thing we changed our plans to visit New Orleans. We had reservations at Bayou Segnette State Park, just a ferry ride across the Mississippi River to NOLA. The state of Louisiana closed the park, canceling reservations making it available to isolate Corona virus patients if needed.

We pulled into Oak Plantation RV Park in Charleston, SC. When we called 10 days ago, they only had a couple of open sites. As we were checking in, the desk clerks kept answering the phones for cancellations.  On Monday, the park was half full but by Friday only 10% had RVs.  Walking around the RV park to get in our 10,000 steps, we would pass other people but everyone is keeping their distance but still friendly with a wave. We are fortunate to be in a place that we can get outside and not feel cooped up while keeping our distance. 

Snowbirds from Canada are returning early. Most of them carry additional medical coverage while they are out of Canada and most insurance companies have given them until March 23 to be back in Canada due to the Corona virus, at which time the coverage will expire. There is some leeway if they have a valid reason for not making it back. But let’s face it, who would want to battle an insurance after the fact?
We were scheduled to camp host at Table Rock State Park in northwest South Carolina starting April 1 but have decided to cancel and to avoid interacting closely with people. We found a campground near Greenville to use as a base to hike and cycle in the state parks nearby for the next month.
Foley Beach was a treat on the edge of Charleston. The town had a big St Patrick's Day street party over the weekend before the bars and restaurants closed.

The beaches weren't very busy but the bars had lots of young people enjoying spring break. The drive up windows at chain restaurants have long lines. 

It was good to spend time with Mike's daughter and her family in Lexington, South Carolina. She has been going through treatments for metastatic breast cancer which has been tough on all of them. She looks great even though she just went through a rough patch.

It was fun seeing his grandchildren. We watched Mia play soccer, Peyton play his cello, TJ was sworn into the Navy and Bryceson as he is buying his first home. Where did they time go?
We found many tourist sites we had planned to visit closed. Many guided bike tours go through this area. We saddled up and loved the ride from Sullivan Island to Isle of Palms and Fort Moultrie 19 miles from our campground on Johns Island near Charleston. 
A barrier island and closest beach to Charleston with a kick your shoes off feel with golf carts to get to and from the beach.

Our 20 mile ride under the trees and along the Atlantic Beaches.

The British Royal Navy attacked Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island it on June 28, 1776 during the Revolution. Standing on the Fort overlooking Charleston, we can imagine the battle.
Cannon Row at Fort Moultrie is home to eight pieces of heavy artillery original to Charleston Harbor. Each piece has a story to tell.

So many colonial type of homes to ride by.
The bridge from Charleston to Sullivan Island has a bike/walking lane overlooking the bay that the  cycle tours ride across.  
Carnival's Sunshine is in dock for 14 days with the crew that will be quarantined for 14 days. The passengers were all released.
An old oak with Spanish Moss blowing in the breeze.

We should have plenty of hiking and cycling while in Greenville, South Carolina while we figure out what is next. Everyone stay healthy out there and 6 feet away.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Northern Alabama

Trails and waterfalls

After driving 700 miles from Louisiana, we needed a break before getting to South Carolina. We had heard about this area when Dana and Debbie Kirk visited last year and put it on our list. Fort Payne was 200 miles from our last stop and had a state park and  waterfalls to hike in the southernmost section of the Appalachian Mountains. 

Desoto State Park

Desoto State Park is nestled on Lookout Mountain in Northeast Alabama with many waterfalls.

It rains a lot in Alabama in the winter. We were fortunate to have very little rain as we slogged through the mud.

Desoto Falls in Mentone, Alabama

DeSoto Falls is a 100-foot waterfall on the outskirts of the charming town of Mentone, Alabama. Formed where the West Fork of the Little River plunges off a Lookout Mountain cliff.
 We had hoped to have tomato pie at Wildflower Cafe in the cool town of Mentone. But it was not to be. Our first attempt on the weekend met us with a very long wait . When we tried on Tuesday, we found a note on the door saying they had to close for the day. Our search for tomato pie continues.
 We headed to the Mentone Market and passed on the daily special or grilled pimento cheese sandwich, opting for the stew, salad and cornbread for $11 for both of us. Lee Allison from North Carolina mentioned that he would eat pineapple sandwiches as a kid. I googled it and found that it is pineapple and mayo on white bread. I am not sure how anyone would come up with such a sandwich.
When was your last fried bologna sandwich?

Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet Trails

The 34-mile long Chief Ladiga Trail is Alabama's premier rail-trail. The smooth asphalt surface travels through the Tallegeda National Forest, and connects to Georgia's Silver Comet Trail to the east. The Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet travel over 95 miles when combined,
and form the longest paved trail in America.

Plans are progressing to make the Amtrak station bike friendly, allowing for a return train route to Atlanta, and other cities along the Amtrak line.
I really enjoyed our 30 mile ride but have to say that riding that many flat miles can give a person a tired butt. We are used to pedaling up a hill and enjoying the ride down carrying us part of the way up the next hill. Throw a little wind in and you end up pedaling the entire 30 miles. I wouldn't mind doing another section someday if we ever pass this way again.

Little River Canyon National Preserve

Little River Falls with a rainbow

Seasonal Graces High Falls
We made it through Atlanta before stopping for a deep breath in a KOA on Lake Oconee in Georgia.

Our week in Alabama flew by. We are now in South Carolina with family.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Dauphin Island, Alabama

It's good to be flexible

It was a fun learning Cajun vs Creole people and food, but the road noise in front of Betty's RV Park was pretty wearing. Road construction going to Lafayette taking 30 minutes to travel 5 miles, limiting sightseeing the Atchafalaya Basin. Besides, all of the alligators were starting to look alike.  After four days, it was time for a change of plans. We were taking too long time going east to visit family which was the point of this eastward trek in the first place.
Mike declined being the Y in Lafayette.

 A change in weather was also on the way.
We took Avery Island's Tabasco Plant self guided tour and visited Jungle Island while the sun was shining.

 Jungle Island's 170-acre garden stretches along Bayou Petite  on Avery Island which has azaleas, camellias and colorful bamboo - as well as alligators, deer and the thousands of snowy egrets that nest in Bird City. The air boats were trolling up and down the bayou.

 During the late 1800’s, the Great and Snowy Egrets were hunted to the brink of extinction. During courtship, these birds grow additional feathers nuptial plumes that looked really good on women's’ hats. Plume hunters shot the birds en masse during mating season for these. Now their habitats are  endangered. I am glad they have a place to nest on this island.
We packed up and headed to Alabama. No, we didn't get a refund from Betty's. Yes, we were ok with that.
 Mike has shared many stories of being stationed on Dauphin Island as a skinny kid in the Air Force. I needed to see it and he needed to revisit it. I watched him reminisce about his time here as we walked along the path around the island. Driving past the Springhill Road sign in Mobile, Mike smiled remembering that was where the all girl's college was. I think they made frequent stops on Springhill Road.
Boy, did we sleep once we got on Dauphin Island. No more boom boom of trucks hitting the bumps in front of Betty's or bang bang of the drums from the music inside. Ahhhhh
 Not a bad place to be stationed in 1969 and 1970. I am glad we made it to the 5 mile long island in the Gulf of Mexico.

 We will be getting the fine white sand out of our trailer for a while.
We toured Fort Gaines from the 1800s.

 Dauphin Island Audubon Sanctuary has been named one of the top four locations in North America for viewing spring migrations! The Sanctuary consists of 137 acres of maritime forest, marshes, and dunes, including a lake, a swamp, and a beach. Our morning walk was a real treat as we watch a heron building his nest. Boy did we see and hear a lot of birds.

 Doing a little nest rearranging.
 The Sanctuary is of vital importance because it is the largest segment of protected forest on the Island and the first landfall for migrant birds after their long flight across the Gulf from Central and South America each spring. Here these birds, often exhausted and weakened from severe weather
during the long flight, find their first food and shelter.
The barracks weren't this blue color but a tan color.  Mike's room was the second lower window. He was here during Hurricane Camille. Many of the buildings built in the 1960s have survived. 

 Maybe a tern?
Across the street from the RV park is an Estuary with many more birds as we watched the ferry sail across Mobile Bay. The pelicans are a favorite as they hop across the water as they take off and soar across the bay.
It was pretty foggy when I took most of these pictures.

The stormy weather stayed north of us so we could enjoy our few days on the coast before heading north. Or will we have another change of plans?

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