Earlier this year, Deke and I decided that we were going to see as many concerts as possible this summer (because last year I think we saw one) so when we learned about FloydFest we knew we had to check it out. It seemed smaller, almost all locally sponsored and more laid back than a lot of festivals out there, plus it was 3 hours away! (For a good, really short summary of the festival, I suggest reading This Must Be The Place from the Smokey Mountain News.) The bonus was we could make another trip to Virginia Highland Haven to stay! We love the place, and the town of Floyd, and music, so it was a no-brainer.
That’s us on the left. I think.
Again, we had great weather, met some new folks, reconnected with some we’ve known only online and got to explore the area again, which didn’t disappoint. We wrote a review the last time we were here and mentioned the drive — I forgot to take a video, but here’s what our map looked like driving away from Floyd.
Many, many sharp turns.
I think I’d like to live here……
View from the end of the park.
FloydFest was really fun, and we’re glad we did it, although staying up to see bands going on at midnight didn’t really work for us too much. It’s a really well organized event (free mountain spring water, 24 hour fantastic coffee station and beer is only sold in a cup you buy at the venue with tickets you also buy, so its an easy process, parking is in lots with a shuttle and the food options were numerous). If you go prepared, you’ll be ok (prepared=sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen). Also note: FloydFest really isn’t in Floyd proper, it’s several miles outside of town on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and about 25min drive from Highland Haven – without traffic.
There are big stages….
The Main Stage.
And really small ones…
You can stand way up front…
Trampled By Turtles.
Or sit in the back and just listen (and people watch, which was often better than the bands).
It doesn’t look like Deke has enough sunscreen on.
There were also some great, local vendors there as well — we each picked up a pair of shoes from Astral, a shoe company out of Asheville that makes really stylish shoes for kayaking! They gave you 20% off any pair of shoes if you swapped them out for a pair of your own. So far, I’m loving them. Also, they make incredibly cool lifevests as well — for humans and dogs!
Yes, those are the socks I’m wearing today.
We cut short concert going one day and hit Floyd and the surrounding area. We needed some food, so the Farmer’s Market was a success.
Veggies, kombucha stand, fruit, crepes and coffee.
We had breakfast at the Blue Ridge Restaurant, had a Japanese style pour-over coffee at the Black Water Loft and walked to the biggest fabric store I’ve ever seen: Schoolhouse Fabrics.
Old school = mega fabric store.
Riverstone Farm Store.
The kicker was finding Riverstone Farm Store. On the Floyd Highway into town we saw this handwritten yellow sign stuck in the ground that said “Farm Store” with an arrow. We followed it for MILES on a very narrow dirt road then almost missed it. The Riverstone Farm is a certified organic farm (however their meat is not certified organic) with a self-serve store carrying chickens, lamb, mutton, veggies from the farm, and cheese, sauerkraut and some other things from local places. Definitely worth the stop. They also have a building across the road with bulk meats, so if you want a whole lamb, its butchered and you can just take it out of the cooler and leave the money. They also do tours on Saturdays at 2pm!
We hated to leave —
Blue Ridge Parkway.
We’d rather stay in State Parks on the road, but when a last minute opportunity presented itself to attend my neice’s 3rd Bday party (pirate/fairy themed!) of course we’re going to do it! The only place available close to Charlottesville was the area KOA (9 miles from my sister’s house north of the city). It was one of the better KOA’s we’ve stayed in, but I think your individual experience here would vary greatly depending on which spot you get.
This park is located in a beautiful wooded area, but some of the spots have no shade, and last weekend it was in the 90s. We felt very fortunate to have gotten spot #11 — spaced well from the neighbors and very shaded, with a nice view of the woods.
The first row of spots seemed like winners overall, but I don’t know if they could fit larger motorhomes or 5th wheels, except in spot #12 where they crammed in a Prevost next to a little pop-up camper. I still don’t know how that thing fit.
Spots #12 and #13 would be great for two people camping together!
The second row is all huge pull-through sites, but not a lot of privacy.
This KOA had all the regular things you’d expect in a KOA — a pool, playground and covered picnic areas, but most of these were on the other side of a little creek that separated the two, so you didn’t get any of the noise (genius!).
I worked in an RV park that was a little wonky with its rules, so I understand the quirks of privately owned parks. First of all, Moravian Falls doesn’t take credit cards for reservations. When you call, they’ll give you a total amount owed and you have to mail them a check within a few days (I think it’s 4 days max) to secure the reservation. If you don’t send the money, they don’t hold the reservation. After they receive the check, they mail you receipt that you must bring with you to check in.
The upper tier of very tighly packed spots.
The park is tiny, old and the spaces are crowded together — this is bare bones, but we were going to Wilkesboro for Merlefest and the state parks were booked. This was our only option within town that had hook ups (we needed hook ups because of the dogs and needing AC — it was in the high 70s!).
We were so close to our neighbors that we didn’t feel comfortable putting the awning down, and the people across from us rented two spots so they could have a picnic table to use (they’ve been here before).
A group of tent sites in the woods. The others are one the grounds of the closed swimming pool.
This used to be a great park — Deke visited often as a kid to swim in the pool and play in the waterfall. Unfortunately, the pool area is closed now and the waterslide is overgrown and filled with leaves.
Out of commission 1980s waterslide.
If you’re in the area, I’d recommend staying in one of the state parks. If you need to stay here, I’d say 28″ is the max length!
We spent about 4 days in St. Augustine so we wanted to share a bit of what we did.
All in one stop.
Neither of us had ever been to this part of Florida, but we were a bit intrigued by some things we found online about food/booze/historical sites (all things we love).
Man. Weapon. Fun!
As far as food goes, our favorite place, hands down, was Yardbird for breakfast (For some reason, you can find it on Yelp as The Blue Hen and they have no website). It’s a little hard to find (small corner storefront on a side street with no sign) but just look for the address. Oh, and get there early. We arrived at 8:10am and by the time we left at 9:15am there was a very, very long line to get in, but then again it only has about 15 tables and a counter. We were so into our food, we forgot to take any photos but I had the Blue Crab Quiche and Deke had the Chicken and Biscuits. Just go there. Do it.
The traditional birthday colada!
Deke celebrated his birthday while we were in St. Augustine, so we wanted to go have a celebratory drink at a fun place. Enter The Conch House. You can sit outside under a tiki canopy and watch the boats go by. They have great mixed drinks and a fantastic calamari with banana peppers.
For dinner, we wanted to go to The Floridian, but they don’t take reservations and there was a massive line, so we chose Cap’s instead. Even though we were in a seafood mecca, my steak-and-potatoes man got just that. We sat outside on the water — it’s a great place!
Steak and an old fashioned.
My fun thing was visiting the Castillo de San Marcos — I’m a sucker for military and historical ruins! The structure (I’m just being lazy and copying what’s on the National Park System website) is “the only extant 17th century military construction in the country and the oldest masonry fortress in the United States it is a prime example of the “bastion system” of fortification, the culmination of hundreds of years of military defense engineering. It is also unique for the material used in its construction. The Castillo is one of only two fortifications in the world built out of a semi-rare form of limestone called coquina (The other is Fort Matanzas National Monument 14 miles south).”
View from the tower.
Im in love with these doors.
We plugged the meter for an hour and could’ve easily spent another hour roaming around and looking at the rooms and weapons. For $7 it was totally worth it!
Cannons are cool.
On our way back from Florida, we saw that the temperatures in Raleigh were supposed to be extremely cold in the next few weeks, so we decided it would be best to blow out the lines before putting it back in storage. We thought we’d give try the Fayetteville RV Resort a try since it’s about an hour from our storage garage.
This was previously a KOA, so it’s got all the things you’d come to expect from a KOA (pool, little cabins to rent, a store, full hook ups, level spots, propane) but I feel the new owners are really working to make it better. All the restrooms are being updated, they’ve obviously done a lot of work on the landscaping and overall, it’s a really nice park for a day or two.
They have a section for fulltimers in the back that doesn’t have as many trees as the front of the park, but the spots are still nice (definitely nicer and bigger than several spots we lived in while fulltiming).
Since moving here, we’ve definitely noticed a shortage of nice RV parks in the area (and by nice I mean clean and safe), so I’d definitely recommend this park if you’re traveling through the area and need to make a pit stop.
We wanted to check out at least one campground in South Carolina before heading home and Huntington Beach State Park looked perfect.
The park has 133 spots and direct beach access via several wooden paths throughout the park.
There are two beach paths leading from each end of the park.
There are some pretty private spots like ours, or some not-so-private spots around the inside of the loops. There’s also a loop in the back with heavy tree cover (but further from the beach), and some tent sites.
Second loop of the campground.
On the grounds of the state park is also Atalaya, a Moorish-style house that was once the winter home of sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. You can tour the house for $2.
The beach here is also really beautiful — white sand, dolphins, pelicans and some great shells.
New Year’s morning.
Jekyll Island is fantastic.
Bike path all the way around Jekyll Island.
The campground is the least private we’ve stayed in on this trip, but with an island this great, we didn’t spend a lot of time in the campground anyway.
No privacy in spot #27, but that didn’t stop us from having a fire. Sorry neighbors.
There are 206 camp spots (back in, pull through, full hook ups, primitive tent….) and a general store with the basics, including firewood. There’s also a little area designated for bird watching with swings for guests to sit on.
Looking for some quiet or just some birds?
In some spots, maneuvering around the trees in a big rig might be tricky.
At least there’s shade!
A short drive or bike ride directly across from the campground leads to Driftwood Beach with a fishing pier, and a nice sandy beach that leads to some beautiful scenery.
Pier off of Driftwood Beach.
It seems like this boat was way too close to shore….
For all the people in the campground, it was extremely quiet — plus there were a lot of fellow Airstreamers there! (Hi Bob and Lisa!)
Dee Zee Truck Tailgate Assist
After years of trying to catch our a heavy falling tailgate, we decided to do something about it with the Dee Zee Truck Tailgate Assist.
Trying to catch a falling 70+ lb tailgate with arms full of groceries is not my idea of fun. To avoid this dilemma, we purchased and installed the Dee Zee Truck Tailgate Assist. It’s a simple after market shock absorber that you can easily install yourself without doing permanent damage to your truck. I can’t recommend this thing enough, and I’m pissed we didn’t buy one sooner!
Installation was super easy. I followed their written instructions – the only stumbling point was setting the initial screw post – but I could have easily avoided confusion if i had simply viewed their step by step videos (here). That said, it was easily resolved an not even enough of a stumble to describe here. In other words – if you can turn a screw, you can install this thing!
If you own a truck, you need this product! No more banging your hip or the trailer jack with the tailgate! Just open and watch it subtly glide down like magic.
Dee Zee Tailgate Assist – Weaselmouth
Dee Zee Tailgate Assist – Weaselmouth
Dee Zee Tailgate Assist – Weaselmouth
Heading back north, we couldn’t get in to Anastasia State Park, so we made a reservation for North Beach RV Resort in the little oceanside area of St. Augustine called Vilano Beach.
This park is huge — there are 160 or so spots, a heated pool, many restrooms and washer/dryer areas and it’s right across the street from the ocean (we’re on the ocean side). You can also stay on the river side with some spots right on the water. NOTE #1: You can have a fire, but you need to bring your own fire pit!
The river is right behind me, along with the boat dock.
Beach across from the campground.
Vilano Beach is a bit secluded, but it has a new grocery store and a handful of restaurants. You can bike to Cap’s (great seafood, a bar and views of the water) or walk to The Reef (on the ocean) and Aunt Kate’s (we didn’t eat here– it’s at the back of the campground, on the river).
Note #2: We had full hook-ups, but the water smelled and tasted like saltwater, so I’d recommend bringing some bottled water.
This is the only photo of our spot we got!
Tomoka State Park landed us about as far south in Florida as we had time for before having to head back north to Raleigh. It’s between Jacksonville and Dayton Beach (I can’t even say it without a Spring-Break-WOOOO) and looked beautiful, and we got one of the last spots available for 3 days over Christmas (a good and bad thing as we later found out).
Entrance to the park.
The entrance to the park is beautiful, but has giant potholes… like 6 ft wide, so drive slowly!
The park has about 100 sites in every possible size and configuration you can imagine — short, long, really long, pull-through, private, not private — so really check them out when you go. We’d stay here again, but definitely try for a spot on the second row away from the bathrooms with no one across from us. Also, site 100 is hard to find — its kind of inbetween the two rows, like it was a total afterthought when building. It might be a winner. This place was packed (well, it was a holiday) with the most wide ranging group of people we’d ever seen in a campground. Next to us was a family that played the best mariachi music and had their site decorated with so many lights we didn’t need our flashlight at night. On the other side there were three spots filled with Hasidic teenagers, taking over the road several times a day dressed in their prayer shaws and tzitzit. The noise from both of them was a crazy mash-up.
The park also has a store (about a mile or so away from the campsite) that sells soda, beer, firewood and has boat rentals if you want to paddle around the inlet. We chose not to get in the water for one reason:
The camping area is part of a much larger state park with many designated fishing areas — like miles of them. We rode our bikes around the park a lot and just enjoyed the views.
All roads are sand…..
View from one of the many fishing areas.
To check out the area, we went on The Loop drive which takes you around Ormond Beach — its a narrow two lane road with really low hanging trees at certain points, we definitely wouldn’t recommend doing this in an RV. You can stop at the ruins of a plantation, one of the oldest trees around and wind through a few older-towns-with-much-newer-houses. And you can see the ocean.
View at Ormond-by-the-Sea.
With a full two weeks off for the holidays, we wanted to make a good sweep of some southern spots as an introduction to our new coast. Plotting out a plan from Raleigh to Somewhere-in-Florida started with a stop in Savannah — a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time after hearing about it from Deke, who’d been there several times. We remembered Laura and Kevin going to Skidaway Island State Park a while back and liking it, and luckily they had a few spots left.
Even in December, it’s a beautiful park.
The park is 15 miles or so from Savannah, but worth it — we were in spot #51 which was a corner, really private and within short walking distance to the Big Ferry Trail.
The trail is about 2 miles and has some really beautiful scenery and historical sights — like a still from the 1930s (Skidaway Island was very popular with bootleggers to make and hide moonshine because it was only accessible by boat).
Deke was obviously very interested in finding this….
Pier out to the overlook tower.
Beginning of the trail.
As you can probably tell, it rained a bit while we were there, so we didn’t try out any of the other trails, but we’ll definitely be back in the future!
For the first time almost 4 years (I think — time goes so fast) we found ourselves needing to winterize the Airstream, so we took one last trip to a full hook-up park to empty/blow out the tanks. Finding a good, safe, nice looking park is a little harder in the Raleigh area than we thought, but we came across Jones Station which has been under new ownership since January and looked good (note: they told us they were having internet problems, and their website seems to be up and down lately).
The park is located in Mebane, NC, an easy 46 miles drive from Raleigh, with a quaint downtown. When you first see the park, it looks a little parking-lot-like, but only the first row is tree-less. We were in the third row, and you can see the nice trees and little lawn area. The owners are super nice and have had the park since January. They’re planning a second building phase even further into the woods.
Entrance to the park.
The park is typically packed all the time — good for them, not great for campers looking for a full hook-up spot in the area, especially with really good internet!
Another shot from our spot.
Definitely take a trip to downtown Mebane too. There’s coffee (Reed’s), dinner (The Mebane Downtown Table), shopping Solgarden, Fifth Street Books, and a few bars.
Deke and Lu walking down the street in Mebane.
Outside Dick and Jane’s.
We had a great time here and will go back soon!