Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Satisfiying Summer Sitting and Winter Wandering Wishes

Our first summer spent working at the Barrie KOA has come to an end and it has been a successful first year!  Detra and I both enjoyed our summer working with a great group of people here, it is a fun place and the owners and managers treat us very well.  I've spent the time outside working on any and everything that comes up, while Detra worked in the office/ store.  No complaints with our schedule either, we worked the same hours except for a few days here and there.  Two or three days a week is just the right amount of work to keep it fun and make a little money too.

On the living here side of things, it is just as good.  The park has two sections, in the front is the regular nice KOA campground with all the family and child activities you would expect from a nice place.  What sets Barrie KOA apart from most parks in Ontario is the section we are in, "Cedarwood" which is an adult only area with very nice sites (concrete pads, lighting, gardens).  While you can find this type of park in the warmer areas of the States that are used year round, it is not common in Canada where the season is only 6 or 7 months.  The people are a mix of retired and working weekenders and some are fulltimers like us and the whole feel is one of quiet and friendly relaxation.  We are very comfortable here and it already has us feeling like we are home.

The City of Barrie area has been a happening place with a different event/festival seemingly every weekend to keep us entertained.  We keep our boat handy and can be on the water in twenty minutes whether on Kempenfelt Bay and cruising into town for lunch or out on Lake Couchiching to catch a three foot long Northern Pike.

That's a fish!

Pulling into the free docks in downtown Barrie.

We've spent time with family and friends, but as usual not enough of it.  The drive to Oshawa and the old stomping grounds is just a little too long to make it convenient. 

I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

These two quotes pretty much some up our plans and philosophy this year, we know we are heading south and have a couple of stops planned, Washington DC, Myrtle Beach, Florida at some point and then maybe over to New Orleans before heading back home through Chicago again.

I really enjoy the idea of not knowing where we could end up or what we will see along the way.  The unexpected sights and experiences along the way are the best memories we carry with us.  Having the ability to go anywhere at any time is a feeling of freedom that opens your mind to the here and now and the possibilities that tomorrow can bring.

We kicked off leaving from my mother's and headed towards Washington DC.  We stopped for our first night in PA. at the Cozy Creek Family Campground one of the few places that are open year round in northern Pennsylvania.  The owner and his son opened the office to check us in and they could not have been friendlier or more accommodating.  It was about twenty miles off I-81 through dense forest and that is how we encountered our first scare on this trip.  We came around a corner in the dark to see a huge buck strolling across the road in front of us.  It wasn't real close but it was enough to get the heart rate up and my mind thinking about what if we were 2 seconds earlier. 

Washington was our first sightseeing stop for this year, staying at Cherry Hill Park that bills itself the closest park to the sights in DC.  The park is huge and is a nice enough place to spend time but that's not what you come here for.  The public transit picks you up inside the park and drops you at the subway for an easy commute into the middle of the city.  We found it easy to drive to the subway, about ten minutes away, and you don't spend as much time waiting for the bus to show up.  The park is busy even this time of year and I imagine you would need a reservation in the summer. 

Being a Canadian, living and growing up next to the U.S., watching American TV networks and movies, we absorb the historic moments that make America what it is, almost as much as we know our own Canadian history.  Washington is full of history and museums that tell the stories of how the 'States became what it is. 

We had decided on a four night stay to see the area this time around and that is not remotely enough time to see it all or even scratch the surface.  We will be through here again at some point to see more but we did hit what, for us, was the must see spots for this trip.  Most things are centered around the National Mall, a huge park in the center of DC.  If you come here be prepared to walk, the buildings are huge, the space between them and the monuments along the mall is even bigger.

The Smithsonian Institute has always been on my list of things to see at some point in our travels and it does not disappoint.  Made up of 19 museums and another 30 research centers or programs across the world, it is the largest of it's kind.  Most of the buildings are free to visit and are full of interest for just about anyone's tastes.

We visited the Air and Space and American History Museums, both with famous exhibits and many other interesting things to see and learn about. 

American History Museum;

The first car to drive across the states.  We followed the wheel tracks last year.
Lincoln's top hat he wore to the Ford's Theatre.
The very first video game console.
Edith and Archie Bunker's chairs.

Air and Space Museum;
 The original Wright Flyer, amazing to stand beside this piece of history! 

Plenty to see and all have a part of history to tell.
1930's Hughes H-1, it just screams SPEED! Beautiful.
Wright Flyer to this in thirty years is incredible.
We took a stroll over to the White House to visit the President, but it turns out you need an appointment to see him.  We walked around outside the grounds with the other tourists and the ever present protests going on.  The land of free speech is on display with four different protests happening while we were here, all under the watchful eyes of the Secret Service.  It was strange I had never thought about this aspect before we walked into it, but it struck me as a very American scene. 
The White House.
Washington is a very impressive place and you could spend weeks here and not run out of things to see or do but it was getting cold and wet so time for us to move south!
Carolina Crossroads in Roanoke Rapids, NC is an easy drive from DC and an good place to spend a night or longer if you want spend some time in the area.  We were just passing through.
Rolling into Myrtle Beach for the first time you are struck by the shear number of restaurants and shops that line NC 17 highway, it goes on forever!  This is the down season here and some are closed for the winter but there is still plenty to see and do.  The weather swings between beautiful warm, sunny days and cold grey ones but most of the time it is good.
Myrtle Beach State Park is right on the water and our first stop while we look for a place to spend a month here.  Plenty of trees in this small park and there are limited sites that we could fit in but we did have a choice of 4 or 5 on a busy weekend.  They offer a great deal for snowbirds of half price for a thirty day stay DEC-FEB, you could do worse.
Socializing is high on the agenda while we are here.  My Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Fred are long time owners of a vacation home here and we had never been there in the 20yrs they've owned the place.  We had a nice visit and a walk along Murrell's Inlet boardwalk lined with restaurants and bars. 
Cheryl and Fred's for a yummy meal and the first dinner on their new stove!
We also met up with Frank and Joyce, long time friends of ours who spend time golfing here every fall.  We always have fun together and this was no exception.
Good food and Good times.
We are now in Willow Tree RV Resort for the next month.  This is a very nice park with huge sites, a lake you can fish and is well kept.  This park is about a half hour from the center of Myrtle Beach but it is worth the drive if you want to be out of the hustle and bustle and tiny sites offered in MB.
So that's the start of a new season of travel,
Let the wagon roll!
On a special note;
We have a dear friend, Amanda, who is battling cancer and we want her to know she is always on our minds and in our prayers.  Get Well, see you when we get back!