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About two hours outside of New York City in the southeastern part of the state lies the Catskill Mountains.  The Catskills region of New York has long been a destination for travelers with its rolling hills, lush valleys, pleasant streams, and tumbling waterfalls.  From its first hotel built in the 1820’s to the free spirited 1960’s, folks eager to escape bustling dirty cities flocked here in search of fresh clean air and to commune with nature and appreciate the natural beauty.

A large portion of the Catskill Region is protected lands meaning there is plenty of rustic beauty and room for hiking, fishing (fun fact: the region is where fly fishing first began), biking, and more.  The area was coined "a land of streams" because of the plentiful and magnificent waterfalls, nearly 150 in all.  One of the most popular is the Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskill Forest Preserve.  A short hike takes you to the top of falls which is the tallest two-tiered waterfall in New York State rolling in at 260 feet.  We visited in spring so the falls were at their tumbling splendor.  The most impressive view is just a mile or so away at the bottom where cascading cold water dazzles you with a thundering roar and refreshing spray before it continues on through a shady ravine.  

We thoroughly enjoyed the hiking in the Catskill Forest Preserve and loved the wide range of trails with varying lengths and degrees of difficulty.  One morning we made the pleasant walk to the site of the Catskill Mountain House.  This splendid old hotel was built in 1824 and became America’s first grand resort hotel and was visited by three U.S. Presidents and the elite wealthy of the day.  


Nothing remains of the old hotel but from where it stood you get an amazing view of the expansive Hudson Valley and River.  When here, you can easily imagine how guests must have loved this lap of luxury as they lounged around soaking up the sun and fabulous views.


Interestingly, the many hotels and vacation resorts located in the Catskills today are notable in American cultural history for their role in the development of modern stand-up comedy.  Comedians such as Rodney Dangerfield, Jackie Mason, and Don Rickles all got their start performing in Catskill hotels.

Another man’s name that has ties to the Catskills is Rip Van Winkle.  Rip Van Winkle is a short story about a Dutch-American villager in colonial America who left home to go hunting and ended up falling asleep in the Catskill Mountains and wakes up 20 years later, having missed the American Revolution.  Ironically, the author Washington Irving (who also wrote the Legend of Sleepy Hollow) had never been to the Catskills before.  You will find Rip celebrated everywhere and in every fashion as in needlepoint belts, pillows, cookies, and a brewery named after him. 

The hiking and scenery in the Hudson Valley were great but we actually came here for another reason.  To Eat!  We have been making it a point to eat at 2019 James Beard Award nominated restaurants on our way from Florida to Maine and an artsy funky restaurant caught our eyes and was the real reason we were in the area.  Lil’ Debs Oasis is a colorful establishment, to say the least, that pumps out some fun cocktails and delicious food by two amazing chefs that have a loyal following.  


The menu is small but constantly changing and appealing.  Betsy settled on the traditional dish gambas al ajillo (shrimp) with garlic, chili, lime and rice and I ordered the mojo chicken with creamy and refreshing green and yellow salsas complimented with hearty rice and beans.  The diners next to us ordered the yucca “fries” with salsa verde appetizer and we must have been starring at them a little too long because they asked us if we wanted some and passed the plate our way.  Thanks nice people.  When the kitchen closes at 10 pm this place becomes lively as the drag show (also known as Queer Performance Night) starts and the tiny restaurant becomes even smaller as the crowds flood in.



One thing we love about the Hudson Valley are all the little towns that have their own charm and allure.  Lil Deb’s Oasis is located in the town of Hudson so we decided to go early and walk around the town which is quite pretty.  Oddly, we were there on a Wednesday around 5 pm and most of the businesses were closed.  Seems Wednesday is when town merchants decide to take the day off. 


Another day we ventured down to the little town of Saugerties where a lighthouse was calling us.  Plan on visiting this lighthouse around low tide as the path is along the riverbank otherwise you will be borrowing a pair of boots to get there (which you can do).  

The lighthouse was built in 1869 and still stands proudly as a living part of the Hudson Valley’s maritime history and in its more recent role as a bed and breakfast.  Yep, for $250/night you can sleep and roam where lighthouse keepers resided for years.  If you are interested in staying overnight book early as this place is popular and the next available opening wasn’t for six months.  Another option is to pack a picnic and enjoy the outside seating area behind the lighthouse where you can watch boats and birds come and go in a pleasant setting.


There certainly is a lot to explore in the Hudson Valley and we have really liked our stay each time we’ve been there.  Years back we stayed farther south and found it rich in history, beautiful in scenery, and a great food and drink destination.  So if you are looking for a nice quiet mountain getaway give the Catskills a try. 




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The really great aspect of Delaware Seashore State Park is your close proximity to the water.  The park is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian River, and Indian River Bay.  The park has two separate campgrounds divided by the Indian River Inlet.  We stayed at the southern campground but both are similar with regards to the hook-ups, sites, and proximity to the water.  Both campgrounds are wide open with no shade.  Pads are paved but patios and area between sites is sandy with a little bit of grass.  If you don’t like sand, this is not the place for you.  We were there in April so it wasn’t very crowded and temperatures were cool so we didn’t mind the lack of shade. 


Some campsites are open year-round and can accommodate various camping units from tents to 45’ RVs offering back-ins and pull thrus.  Roads are fairly narrow and paved campsites barely fit big rigs as we had just a few feet to spare but were able to park the car in the sand/grass so it was not a problem.  Most campsites have 30- and 50-amp electric, and water and sewer hook-ups.  There are also no hook-up and tent sites. 


There are bathhouses with free showers scattered throughout the park and laundry facilities.  Since we were there in the off-season only one bathhouse was open.  There are no fire pits at your site but two community fire pits are located on the outskirts of the campground.  Our over the air antenna picked up a dozen or so television channels and we had no problem getting cell or internet service with our Verizon phone.  Full hook-up sites range from $30 - $55/night depending on if you are a resident and what day of the week you are there.  No hook-up sites are available from $25 - $50/night and tent sites range from $20 - $35/night.  We inquired about a senior discount and received it after a phone call to them.  


The south campground is about a half mile from the ocean access where there are two full-service restaurants (which were both closed when we were there).  The beach is wide and great for walking on and dogs are permitted during certain times of the year. 

If you like to fish this is a great place for surf fishing in the Atlantic and bank fishing in the Inlet River.  If you have personal watercraft, there is access to the marsh and bay directly from the park.  Near the north campground is a full-service marina with a bait and tackle shop, fish and seafood sales, and a short hiking trail. 

Just up the road is the Indian River Life Saving Station with a visitor center, museum and gift shop.  Continue on up to the road and you will pass through the small town of Dewey Beach.  Keep going another mile or so and you enter Rehoboth Beach where you will find everything you need (and don’t need).  Rehoboth Beach is a typical beach town with everything from t-shirts to taffy and a mile-long boardwalk.  If you are a beer lover there are plenty of breweries to choose from ranging from the smaller craft breweries like the Dewey Beer Company to the larger producer Dogfish Head. 

Another camping option nearby is Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes.  Click here for our review of that campground.  




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This is a great state park with nice campground and lots to do within the parks' 7,000-acre boundary.  And, we do mean LOTS!  Yes, there are the standard 13 miles of hiking and biking trails but there are also basketball courts, disc golf, boat launch with kayak rental, ranger-led programs, a nature center, food concessions, camp store, playgrounds, fishing pier (with a bait and tackle shop), and miles of Atlantic Ocean beachfront to enjoy.  The property was historically a military instillation (the largest one on the east coast during WWII) so there are many bunkers, observation towers, and other structures some of which are museums open to the public.


The newly renovated campground has 162 RV/tent campsites with 50/30/20 amp electric, fire rings and picnic tables.  There are also rental cabins for those who do not have camping gear.  Sites range in length from a 15’ back-in to a 105’ pull thru and are paved as are the roads.  Not all sites are level so this may be a problem for some and the availability of big-rig friendly sites is limited.  Roads are fairly tight and there is a one-way traffic flow to alleviate congestion so you’ll have to be patient if you are behind someone who is backing into their site.  We were able to get plenty of antenna over the air television stations but those with satellite may have trouble with the shade trees.  Our Verizon phone and internet service worked great.  The showers and bathhouses were clean but were heavily used since no campsites have sewer and there are a number of tenters.



Reservations can be made online and you can book a site for up to 14 days.  For the dates we were interested in there was only one site available and it was an ADA site.  I called the park and asked if being disabled was a requirement for occupying an ADA identified site and they said no so we were able to book it.   We really could not figure out why it was classified as ADA in the first place but were glad to get the reservation since only 13 of the 162 campsites can accommodate an RV 40' and over.  



Camping in state parks does not mean they are at the bargain basement price and this was no exception.  Depending on season, residency, and site the nightly costs range from $20 (for a tent in off-season) to $59 (for a water/electric site in peak season). 


There is plenty to do in the area.  Lewes is a charming town with a few museums and historic buildings and a great restaurant Heirloom.  The nearby town of Rehoboth is a beachy town that is fun to stroll the streets and mile long boardwalk.  Rehoboth is quite a bit larger than Lewes with more shopping, restaurants, and activities and numerous breweries. 


We really liked this campground for a number of reasons – our site was nice, there are plenty of hiking trails, you can walk to the beach, and it is close to downtown Lewes and things to do.  The only downsides would be the cost which was $47/night and that there was no sewer but we would definitely stay here again.     


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It had been just a few weeks since we left the Florida Panhandle and we were having coastal withdrawal.  It was time to get back to the ocean where salty air filled our souls and sand crunched under our feet.  Can you believe it, just a few weeks inland was our threshold? 

It was not just the saltwater and sand that lured us to the Delaware shore but there was a James Beard nominated restaurant (Heirloom) on our radar that fit perfectly into our foodie trail plans up the east coast.  And Delaware was a state we have never been to before so we really wanted to check it out.  






Rehoboth, Bethany, Dewey, Lewes – these are all Delaware beach towns that attract city dwellers from Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Baltimore who want to chill out by the beach and stroll a boardwalk eating taffy.  We camped at Delaware Seashore State Park (SP) for the first part of our stay and then moved 15 miles north to Cape Henlopen SP for the last few days.  Both parks are very different. Delaware Seashore is completely open and treeless and situated very close to the ocean along the Inlet River.  If you like to fish, hangout at the beach, or paddle this is a great place to stay.  The campground offers full hook-up sites and was not very crowded when we were there; but, it is probably packed in the summer.  Had the weather been warmer and less windy we would have paddled in the marsh and back bay to explore the natural side of the area.  The beach was wide and a beautiful place to walk Spirit (dogs are allowed on the beach during certain times of the year).  Across the Inlet River is a hiking trail that winds through the marsh and a wooded peninsula which was great for a short walk and there is a restored Life Saving Station nearby.



Cape Henlopen SP is set under tall pine trees with plenty of shade and lots to do.  Cape Henlopen has a lot of activities to offer as it is an old WWII fortification with museums, nature center, ranger-led programs, events, disc golf, hiking and biking trails, playgrounds, and much more.  The park has a super cool free bike program where you can borrow one for up to two hours to explore the park.  The newly renovated campground has 160 RV/tents sites (with 50/30 amp and water but no sewer) and rental cabins.  Big-rig owners will need to plan ahead as there are not many sites that fit longer RVs.  The only available site I found for the weekend was an ADA site which I was able to book as the office said you do not have to be disabled to book an ADA site. 

We liked both campgrounds but Henlopen was our favorite and wished we had more time to explore the park.  Even if you don’t stay here, it is worth a visit – especially with kids – but be aware there is a $10/day admission fee for non-residents which we didn't have to pay because it is included in the camping fee.    

The town of Rehoboth is a beachy town with an active downtown and inviting one mile-long boardwalk where your senses are awakened by the sounds of amusements, the smell of Threshers French fries, and plenty of souvenir shops to commemorate your visit.  What would a beach boardwalk be without saltwater taffy, buttery caramel corn, and creamy fudge?   Dolle’s Candyland has been making sweet confections since 1910 and it is hard to pass this place up.  The subtle smell of sweet sugar makes this place a “must visit” attraction along the boardwalk.  If you like breweries, there are quite a few to choose from some being small batch operations up to the large-scale brewery Dogfish Head.


Some American history trivia we learned on this trip was that Delaware is our nations’ “first state” and Lewes is the nations’ “first town” settled by the Dutch in 1631.  The town of Lewes is a totally different vibe than the southern towns of Rehoboth, Dewey, and Bethany.  Lewes has a more, let’s just say … sophisticated feel with its beautifully preserved historic buildings, green spaces, and museums.  We were there during the towns' annual Tulip Celebration where they honor their towns' Dutch heritage by painting the town with over 20,000 tulips representing 100 different varieties.  For history buffs, there are plenty of historic buildings to view, the Zwaanendael Museum which houses changing and permanent exhibits about the area, and the Lightship Overfalls – one of the last lightships that functioned on the East Coast.



Now let’s address the predominant reason we came to Lewes and this area and that was to eat at Heirloom.  The Executive Chef – Matthew Kern was nominated as a James Beard 2019 Semi-Finalist for Best Chef – Mid-Atlantic and he works magic at the restaurant.  The restaurant is set in a beautifully refurbished late 1800s Victorian mansion that gives a warm and homey feel.  When we first walked in we were struck by the attention to detail with the fresh flowers and country-style plates on beautifully set wooden tables in an open and airy setting.  



The menu is seasonally-driven and offers wonderful choices that caused us grief as decision making did not come easy.  We needed wine and a cocktail to help get through this conundrum we were in.  As I sipped the most amazing combination of smoky mescal, tequila, luxardo maraschino, fresh lime juice, torn basil & a black pepper syrup I knew we were in the right place.  The freshly made bread and flavored whipped butter served in adorable little glass jars was a wonderful touch and helped curb our hunger pangs.  The spring onion soup was the most magical silky rich combination when the soft egg spilled into the soup flavored with hen of the woods mushrooms, crispy leeks and ramp powder.



For my entrée, I comfortably settled on the housemade chittara pasta enoki mushrooms, shaved leeks, crisp sunchokes, shaved Doe Run Farm St. Malachi cheese, and Baywater Farm pea shoot pesto.   Betsy succumbed to the delicious grilled double cut Berkshire pork chop, herb roasted fingerling potatoes, Fifer Orchard asparagus, charred Vidalia onions, rhubarb butter, and mustard jus.  Both were amazing and beautifully presented.


Just when the words “I am too full for desert” make their way through my lips, we learn there is a desert of warm ricotta doughnuts, lemon curd, sabayon custard, lemon zest, powdered sugar and fresh mint.  This is why you get invited to the James Beard House.  The doughnuts were fluffy and light on the inside with a crunchy exterior that came alive with the tangy lemon curd and airy sabayon.


The creative and seasonally-based food was beautifully presented, creatively paired, and perfectly executed.  If you are in the area, you must go to Heirloom.  At least check out their Instagram page for some of the prettiest food around that definitely brings inspiration to my kitchen.  Heirloom gives us reason to go back to the Delaware Shore. 




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Neuseway Nature Park and Campground is a county-run park in Kinston, North Carolina.  We came to the area to eat at the well known Chef and the Farmer Restaurant and the campground turned out to be a great find as it was very close to the restaurant, had full hook-ups, and was only $20/night.  The park is 55 acres and sits along the Neuse River just across from downtown Kinston.  In addition to the campground, the park has a nature center, fishing piers, health and science museum, planetarium, playground, picnic pavilion, and mock mining train.  The park and campground are open year-round.  All sites are first-come, first-served and you can stay up to 30 days consecutively.




The campground has 32 sites all of which have full hook-ups (50, 30, and 20-amp service) for $20/night.  There are also primitive tent sites for $10/night that are in an open grassy area along the river.  RV sites have a picnic table and fire pit while tent sites have a few picnic tables scattered about, a community fire pit, and water spigot.  There are restrooms with showers located about 75 yards away.  Access requires a key which you can get when you check-in for 24-hour access with a $5 refundable deposit.




We were able to get about two dozen over-the-air television channels.   All our hook-ups were well placed and worked well.  There are trees in the park so most campsites have shade.  We chose a pull-thru which accommodated our RV and car and was fairly level.  The roads, sites, and patios consist of very small crushed gravel which easily sticks to your shoes and gets tracked everywhere.  But, for a full hook-up site at $20/night we weren’t complaining.




You can walk to the downtown of Kinston (about 1/2 mile away) where you will find a few places to eat, farmers market, a fun general store to explore, brewery, good coffee shop, great pizza and a distillery.  Many people were fishing along the river bank and the weekends were busy with day-use visitors utilizing the many amenities of this park.  Just down the road a mile or so is a great off-leash dog park with three fenced in yards and a trail around a series of ponds.  If you like to fish, there are plenty of ponds within walking distance where you can bank fish in the Neuse River.



We would definitely come back to this park and for the price and location to stuff we wanted to do it was great.  Check out our blog post about Kinston for all there is to do in the area and great places to eat.




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There is only one reason we set course for the little-known North Carolina town of Kinston and that was to eat at Chef and the Farmer.  If you have ever watched the PBS show A Chef’s Life then you too have fallen in love with Chef Vivian Howard and the local farmers and personalities that entertainingly fill her show.  Chef Vivian Howard and her husband Ben Knight left their restaurant jobs in New York City and moved back to Howard’s home town of Kinston to open a restaurant.  Her parents offered to help financially but there was a catch – the restaurant had to be opened in her home town – a place she vowed she would never live in again.  Kinston is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and economically depressed with a 22% unemployment rate.  

Howard and Knight opened Chef and the Farmer in 2006 and with the help of her PBS show A Chef’s Lifeit has generated a great fanfare and garnered lots of accolades including two Emmys, a Peabody, and two highly prestigious James Beard Awards.  To top that off Howard was nominated as a James Beard Semi-finalist Best Chef Southeast four times (including three of those years in a row).  We decided our spring travel plans were going to follow a foodie theme and decided this was a pretty good place to start.

People have come from all over the United States to eat at the Chef and the Farmer so we were not an anomaly.  The food was southern creative and absolutely delicious accompanied by impeccable service.  We started with craft cocktails accompanied by flash fried collard greens with sea salt which were insanely good.  Then we moved onto small plates because we wanted to try lots of dishes.  There was fried softshell crab; grits with sweet potato fondue, pecan pesto, and country ham chips; oysters with spicy tomato puree and bacon jam; beef tartare with 64° egg, collard togarashi, gochujang aioli, cashew and sweet potato chips; and a few glasses of wine.  Lastly what landed in front of us was a dish of Pepsi ice cream with bourbon caramel sauce, peanuts and vanilla Chantilly.  What a way to end a most memorable meal!  Success of Chef and the Farmer has done wonders for the tiny, dried up town of Kinston with lots of vacant storefronts making the downtown a ghost town.

  
As good as Chef and the Farmer was, it was not the only place in town we found to eat.  Howard and her husband opened another restaurant The Boiler Roomwhich is a light-hearted casual eatery where oysters and burgers are the stars of the menu.  We started with a fried oyster appetizer and then went the burger route.  The tasty creation I selected has a distinctive southern flare with pimento cheese, pepper jelly, bacon, greens and spicy mayo.  Betsy chose a burger with mushrooms, gruyere, aioli, and crispy onions.  Both were delicious and it is clear to us why both restaurants are so successful.  Two other places worth noting are Sugarhill Pizzeriawhich makes a great pizza pie (and sells by the slice) and the fresh fried pork rinds and skins they make at the Farmers’s Market (Tues. and Sat.).  Downtown has also attracted some diverse places to wet your whistle.  There is a Middle Grounds Coffee Shop when in need of a java jolt.  Mother Earth Brewingand Spirits serves up a wide selection of craft beers and Social House Vodka that is there for those who want something a little stronger. 

Kinston is located in eastern North Carolina which is proud of their barbeque heritage flaunting the fact that they are the number two producer of pigs in the U.S. so BBQ in North Carolina means pork is on the plate.  We headed fifteen miles up the road to an old establishment called the Skylight Inn which has been making BBQ since 1947 and won a James Beard “America’s Classic” Award.  Their whole hog is wood grilled instead of smoked so you taste the delicious sweet rich meat instead of smoke.  Crispy skin is mixed in with the tender meat making for an amazing crunchy rich bite.  Skylight Inn offers two kinds of meat on their menu – pork and chicken – and four sides – corn bread, baked beans, coleslaw and potato salad.  There are not a lot of choices but that’s because they do a few things and do them well.  We gave eastern North Carolina BBQ two thumbs up. 


We came to Kinston for food but found out there was more – as is always the case.  One of the most popular attractions in the town is the CSS Neuse Civil War Museum ($5 admission charge) which houses a Confederate ironclad gunboat.  The Neuse was built in 1864 to transport Confederate troops and goods down the Neuse River to the town of New Bern to help stop advancing Union forces and reopen the crucial trade route.  The boat didn’t see much combat action and spent a bit of time aground as the heavy ironclad boat had a hard time navigating the narrow and shallow Neuse River.  After her last battle, she was set ablaze to prevent the enemy from capturing her.  In the 1960’s a group of local men decided to resurrect the ship but ran into issues regarding ownership.  The state bought the boat and continued the resurrection.  In 2009 she got a proper home in her current facility where the boat is flanked with interpretive exhibits and films about her history and Kinston. 


Kinston is the hub for the African American Music Trail in eastern North Carolina and is celebrated in the Kinston Music Park.  Here NC musicians who played jazz, rhythm and blues, funk, gospel, and rap are celebrated.  Kinston’s music scene included some of the greats like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.



In 2017, the Down East Wood Ducks (a Texas Ranger’s minor league baseball team) came to town and boy does Kinston love their Woodies.  On game days, local businesses have their Wood Duck signs out advertising that today is game day and everybody is sporting a Woodies t-shirt or hat.  We are particularly fond of minor league games where the atmosphere is light-hearted and fun.  You don’t have to park a mile away and spend a Benjamin for a fun afternoon at the ball park.  The best part … every seat in the house is a good one.



Kinston was quite the pleasant surprise for us and we ended up staying for a week.  We camped at the Neuseway Nature Park which has a small campground right on the Neuse River and within walking distance of Chef and the Farmer and other downtown eating and drinking establishments.  All sites are 50 amp full hook-up for $20/night.  The park is a gem for this small town as it also has a nature center, planetarium and Health and Science Center, large playground, picnic pavilion, fishing piers, and a train for kids.

Kinston was a great example of how you come to a city or town for a specific reason but find there is so much more to explore the longer you stay.  If you are traveling through eastern North Carolina and looking for some good places to eat and drink, you might want to stop in Kinston.




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RV-A-GOGO by Rvagogo - 1M ago

Looks like it has been a little while since the last blog post.  O.K., a loooong while.  Last winter (December – March) was spent at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in the Florida Panhandle where we volunteered for the fifth year in a row.  Obviously, we really like our jobs and love the area since we keep going back.  The reasons we keep going back there are plenty but sometimes you only need to look at the area to know why we love it so much.


Beauty aside, we have great friends that live there, a wonderful camaraderie with fellow work campers who have volunteered with us for the last five years, beautiful beaches and emerald clear water, miles and miles of hiking trails through mature pine forests, and also great restaurants.  The park is 1,600 acres and has nearly 25 miles of hiking and biking trails.  And if that isn’t enough there are four other state parks within 20 miles and thousands of acres to roam in Point Washington State Forest.

Betsy fulfilled most of our volunteer commitment (24 hours/week) as a tram driver in the park.  The job is great especially if you like talking to visitors who are usually in very happy moods as they are either going to or coming from the beach.  Betsy driving the tram and talking with guests most of the time left me time to make a little money.  A friend was in the throes of opening a new restaurant (Blue Mabel Smokehouse and Provisions) so I put on my apron and sharpened my knives.  The restaurant is a smokehouse with an Asian flare tossed in.  The food was fun and creative and expanded my culinary horizons.  I love food and being in a professional kitchen and exposed to new dishes and ingredients really inspires me. 


We joined other Topsail volunteers for a tour of a local brewery (Grayton Beer Company) after which some of us inquired about volunteering.  The taproom manager told us they could do better and actually hire part-time help year-round so myself and two other volunteers signed up right away.  Not only are you paid for the hours you work but you get to take home a case (or sometimes two) of beer after bottling, are allowed to drink while working, and beers in the taproom are free.  Where else is it acceptable to crack open a beer at 10 am. while on the job working?


Being in one place for four months allows us time to make friendships with other volunteers and catch up with old friends traveling through the area.  Topsail is a beautiful state park that is highly attractive with its full hook-up/cable sites set in a pretty setting with a gorgeous 3-mile long stretch of beach.  It was a private park before the state park bought it so there are amenities like shuffleboard, a swimming pool, amphitheater, club house, tram service to the beach, and more.   Since so many people love this park in the winter and come back year after year, we have gotten to know lots of people and look forward to their visits.  We have also made friends with people that live in the area and treasure our time with them in the short four months we are in the Florida panhandle.


Thanks to Topsail staff for recognizing our volunteer activities.  They provided us with the Florida State Park's "Exceptional Service and Dedication Award" which we are very proud of.  It is great to be part of a wonderful team of volunteers and staff that get to work in such a pretty place. 


Summer 2019 will have us back in Maine where I will work at Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery again and Betsy will enjoy some well-deserved time off (as well as time to eat more lobster!). We’ll be staying in the Camden/Rockland area which we found to be a great location and in a very tranquil RV park.  Since we have spent many years going to northern Maine we are now getting to explore mid-coast Maine as well as inland.  On our way we'll spend time in Portland eating at some of their fabulous new restaurants.  Stay tuned for the food photos!  


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RV-A-GOGO by Rvagogo - 3M ago
If you ask anyone about Camden who has visited there they will give you a delightful sigh followed by a heartfelt response declaring “Oh, I love Camden!” Coastal Route 1 cuts right thru downtown Camden so as you drive through you can’t help but be invited in for a closer look. As seasoned Maine travelers, we beg you not to skip Camden on your race up to Bar Harbor and quest to explore Acadia National Park. Instead, stop and enjoy this seafaring town and the neighboring and equally as charming town of Rockport.



Downtown Camden is jammed packed with shops, galleries, and restaurants. Venture just off Route 1 and head down to the water where the harbor view is delightful and the flourish of boat traffic makes things lively. One of our favorite watering holes in Camden is Seadog Brewing Company where you can enjoy their delicious blueberry beer outside on the patio overlooking the harbor. Another favorite place to stop in Camden is Lily, Lupine, and Fern a fabulous flower and wine shop that has a diverse wine selection offering wines from all over the globe. To boot, they have an awesome cheese selection which means this is your one stop for all your wine and cheese picnic needs. Camden has a super cute dog store, appropriately called “The Maine Dog” for those of you looking to spoil your favorite pup with a souvenir. Stop in the Swans Island Company store and check out their beautiful hand-woven blankets. French and Brawn Market Place is where you can pick up deli sandwiches, gourmet goods, meat cut to order, and other grocery and provisioning items. Sherman’s Bookstore is a treat with not only a great selection of books but other fun stuff you would find in an old 5&10. Long Grain is an eclectic Asian restaurant with great food and hard to find Asian culinary items. Stonewall Kitchen offers an extensive selection of products, including jams, chutneys, sauces, baking mixes, an assortment of kitchen accessories, fun gift ideas. And don’t forget about the Farmers Market which is so popular that it happens twice a week.

Camden Hills State Park offers a great place to camp; as well as, some amazing views. If you like to hike, this 5,710 acre park will satisfy you as there are over 30 miles of trails that wind through the park, many of which have stunning overlooks. But, for you non-hikers who still want that great view don’t worry you have the option to take the auto tour road up to the top of Mt. Battie. Mt. Battie overlooks Penobscot Bay, an archipelago of outlying islands, interior lakes, and Camden Harbor. If you love sunrises, the top of Mt. Battie is the place to be for marvelous views. The park dates back to the 1930’s and was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) under the direction of the National Park Service. Still standing today are many of those iconic CCC buildings that give the park added charm.


Camden Harbor is also referred to as the Windjammer Capital of the World and really comes alive during their annual Windjammer Days celebration. Nearly a dozen schooners (some dating back to 1918) grace the harbor and Penobscot Bay with their billowing sails and classic good looks. During the nineteenth century, Camden’s harbor was full of schooners, sloops, and scows year-round. These sailing vessels were major modes of transportation at that time and today take tourists on hourly, daily, and even weekly excursions.



Windjammer Days is a weekend-long celebration jam packed with events. Our friends Pat and Debbie were in town so we decided to partake in the fun. We started off with a chowder tasting which filled our bellies with rich tasty classic New England cuisine. After lunch we launched our paddle boards and kayak and paddled around the harbor so we could get an up-close view of the boats and events activities. Our timing was perfect and we made it over to watch kids participate in the lobster crate races. The object is simple – run across the string of crates as many times as you can within a certain time limit without falling in the water. Sounds easy, but a number of kids wound up in the drink soaking wet.

Just south of Camden is the less busy and equally cute and tranquil town of Rockport. On the harbor in the Rockport Marine Park is where you will find two noticeable historic landmarks in the park – the lime kilns and a statue of André the seal. This area is part of the region's nationally significant lime processing history including seven historic early 19th-century lime kilns. The area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. The elevated railroad line allows lime to be dumped into the top of the kiln. Three of these kilns still exist and may be visited. Fun fact: Rockport supplied most of the stone used in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC after it was damaged during the War of 1812.

André the Seal is a true story about a harbor seal pup who was raised by Harry Goodridge, a tree surgeon and the local harbormaster. Goodridge was looking for a seal pup as a companion to take with him when he dove. He had seen a newborn pup on the rocks who appeared to have been orphaned. A couple days later when Goodridge returned to the area, the pup swam over to his boat. André and Harry became companions who stuck together for 25 years, swimming together, sledding together, and even hanging out in the family bathtub and watching TV. André was more like a dog than a seal and learned all kinds of tricks. Word spread about André and people from all over the country came to Rockport Harbor to see him. André went blind in 1985 and when he swam away in 1986 he never returned. Searchers found his body washed up on a remote part of Rockport beach. At the time, he was thought to be the oldest living harbor seal. André was famous and his story was told in a movie, PBS documentary and a book. Many joked he was Maine’s longest running free attraction. A statue memorializing the seal sits proudly in the Rockland Marine Park.

Debbie and I decided to paddle board around the harbor and out to the Rockland Lighthouse. The paddle was beautiful and the water was extremely clear to which we were treated to magnificent views of starfish, clams, and other aquatic life and found some seaglass. Sometimes the best way to see a harbor is from the water and the paddle was definitely worth it.

Rockport is home to Aldermere Farm which is known for their Belted Galloway cows. “Belties” as locals call them are unmistakable because of their black hair interrupted with a white band. Yep, just like an Oreo cookie – their other nickname. The 136-acre scenic farm is owned and operated by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and stretches across some of the most beautiful lands of green pastures, undeveloped shoreline, woodlots, and wetlands. Aldermere works towards educating visitors on the importance of land conservation and sustainable agriculture and runs numerous programs for adults and children including a 4-H club, art shows, farm tours, summer programs and more!

There was one place in Rockport where we spent a lot of time - Erickson Fields.  Erickson Fields is a former dairy farm that is now a working farm where young people grow food for the community.  We spent so much time there because there are off-leash hiking trails through the wooded section of the property.  After our walks we would stop in at The Market Basket which is a European style gourmet market and that means it is a go-to for handmade pastries, baguettes, croissants, and more.

So if you think Camden sounds like a fun little Maine town with lots of charm then plan to stop here ... at least for a few days.  We just touched on a little bit of what Camden and the neighboring town of Rockport have to offer.  







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Have you ever considered becoming a full-time RVer but are afraid to jump in?  Or, are you a “newbee” and find you still have tons of questions?  We’ve been in both those scenarios and after eight years on the road, believe it or not, we are still learning.  But here is a way to bridge the learning gap and hit the road with confidence. Our friends, Brandon and Kerensa, launched a Facebook group called RV to Freedom – Roadmap to Full-time RVing which helps guide you through the complex and unknown world of full-time RVing. The group quickly swelled in membership indicating that there is a lot of information people crave about full-time RVing.


Kerensa and Brandon realized there was a need for more knowledge and insights to successfully transition into a full-time RV life and decided to launch a formal on-line course to delve into this subject. Roadmap to Full-Time RVing is a comprehensive 8-module series that will cover everything you need to know from how to find a suitable RV that meets your needs, how will you get mail, what opportunities for work are available, understanding the financial side of full-time RVing, and so much more.  Plus you will get access to live video Q and A sessions which means all the questions you have will be addressed and answered by experts who have lots of knowledge to share.  Sometimes you don’t even know what questions to ask, but they have that part covered in this comprehensive course.  Betsy and I know Kerensa and Brandon personally and consider them friends and are confident that they will do an amazing job navigating you through this process.

Below is a short introductory video which provides more details and to see if this course is right for you. 


Roadmap to Full-Time RVing Course Overview - YouTube

About ten years ago (when we were “wannabees”), we attended a week-long course called “Life on Wheels” and it was the best thing we did preparing for RV living.  We didn’t even have an RV yet but learned so much and felt the course was so valuable to our planning process!  We believe this course will be super beneficial for new full-timers or those considering full-time RVing.  So we loudly applaud our friends for enthusiastically wanting to help others and launching this course.

Join RV to Freedom on February 13th 8 pm (Eastern) for a free informative webinar and get all your questions answered.  Registration closes February 20th at midnight so don't delay.  Here’s a great way to achieve your goal of full-timing with confidence from experienced people we know and trust.






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RV-A-GOGO by Rvagogo - 3M ago
If you ask anyone about Camden who has visited there they will give you a delightful sigh followed by a heartfelt response declaring “Oh, I love Camden!” Coastal Route 1 cuts right thru downtown Camden so as you drive through you can’t help but be invited in for a closer look. As seasoned Maine travelers, we beg you not to skip Camden on your race up to Bar Harbor and quest to explore Acadia National Park. Instead, stop and enjoy this seafaring town and the neighboring and equally as charming town of Rockport.


Downtown Camden is jammed packed with shops, galleries, and restaurants. Venture just off Route 1 and head down to the water where the harbor view is delightful and the flourish of boat traffic makes things lively. One of our favorite watering holes in Camden is Seadog Brewing Company where you can enjoy their delicious blueberry beer outside on the patio overlooking the harbor. Another favorite place to stop in Camden is Lily, Lupine, and Fern a fabulous flower and wine shop that has a diverse wine selection offering wines from all over the globe. To boot, they have an awesome cheese selection which means this is your one stop for all your wine and cheese picnic needs. Camden has a super cute dog store, appropriately called “The Maine Dog” for those of you looking to spoil your favorite pup with a souvenir. Stop in the Swans Island Company store and check out their beautiful hand-woven blankets. French and Brawn Market Place is where you can pick up deli sandwiches, gourmet goods, meat cut to order, and other grocery and provisioning items. Sherman’s Bookstore is a treat with not only a great selection of books but other fun stuff you would find in an old 5&10. Long Grain is an eclectic Asian restaurant with great food and hard to find Asian culinary items. Stonewall Kitchen offers an extensive selection of products, including jams, chutneys, sauces, baking mixes, an assortment of kitchen accessories, fun gift ideas. And don’t forget about the Farmers Market which is so popular that it happens twice a week.

Camden Hills State Park offers a great place to camp; as well as, some amazing views. If you like to hike, this 5,710 acre park will satisfy you as there are over 30 miles of trails that wind through the park, many of which have stunning overlooks. But, for you non-hikers who still want that great view don’t worry you have the option to take the auto tour road up to the top of Mt. Battie. Mt. Battie overlooks Penobscot Bay, an archipelago of outlying islands, interior lakes, and Camden Harbor. If you love sunrises, the top of Mt. Battie is the place to be for marvelous views. The park dates back to the 1930’s and was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) under the direction of the National Park Service. Still standing today are many of those iconic CCC buildings that give the park added charm.


Camden Harbor is also referred to as the Windjammer Capital of the World and really comes alive during their annual Windjammer Days celebration. Nearly a dozen schooners (some dating back to 1918) grace the harbor and Penobscot Bay with their billowing sails and classic good looks. During the nineteenth century, Camden’s harbor was full of schooners, sloops, and scows year-round. These sailing vessels were major modes of transportation at that time and today take tourists on hourly, daily, and even weekly excursions.


Windjammer Days is a weekend-long celebration jam packed with events. Our friends Pat and Debbie were in town so we decided to partake in the fun. We started off with a chowder tasting which filled our bellies with rich tasty classic New England cuisine. After lunch we launched our paddle boards and kayak and paddled around the harbor so we could get an up-close view of the boats and events activities. Our timing was perfect and we made it over to watch kids participate in the lobster crate races. The object is simple – run across the string of crates as many times as you can within a certain time limit without falling in the water. Sounds easy, but a number of kids wound up in the drink soaking wet.

Just south of Camden is the less busy and equally cute and tranquil town of Rockport. On the harbor in the Rockport Marine Park is where you will find two noticeable historic landmarks in the park – the lime kilns and a statue of André the seal. This area is part of the region's nationally significant lime processing history including seven historic early 19th-century lime kilns. The area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. The elevated railroad line allows lime to be dumped into the top of the kiln. Three of these kilns still exist and may be visited. Fun fact: Rockport supplied most of the stone used in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC after it was damaged during the War of 1812.

André the Seal is a true story about a harbor seal pup who was raised by Harry Goodridge, a tree surgeon and the local harbormaster. Goodridge was looking for a seal pup as a companion to take with him when he dove. He had seen a newborn pup on the rocks who appeared to have been orphaned. A couple days later when Goodridge returned to the area, the pup swam over to his boat. André and Harry became companions who stuck together for 25 years, swimming together, sledding together, and even hanging out in the family bathtub and watching TV. André was more like a dog than a seal and learned all kinds of tricks. Word spread about André and people from all over the country came to Rockport Harbor to see him. André went blind in 1985 and when he swam away in 1986 he never returned. Searchers found his body washed up on a remote part of Rockport beach. At the time, he was thought to be the oldest living harbor seal. André was famous and his story was told in a movie, PBS documentary and a book. Many joked he was Maine’s longest running free attraction. A statue memorializing the seal sits proudly in the Rockland Marine Park.

Debbie and I decided to paddle board around the harbor and out to the Rockland Lighthouse. The paddle was beautiful and the water was extremely clear to which we were treated to magnificent views of starfish, clams, and other aquatic life and found some seaglass. Sometimes the best way to see a harbor is from the water and the paddle was definitely worth it.

Rockport is home to Aldermere Farm which is known for their Belted Galloway cows. “Belties” as locals call them are unmistakable because of their black hair interrupted with a white band. Yep, just like an Oreo cookie – their other nickname. The 136-acre scenic farm is owned and operated by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and stretches across some of the most beautiful lands of green pastures, undeveloped shoreline, woodlots, and wetlands. Aldermere works towards educating visitors on the importance of land conservation and sustainable agriculture and runs numerous programs for adults and children including a 4-H club, art shows, farm tours, summer programs and more!

There was one place in Rockport where we spent a lot of time - Erickson Fields.  Erickson Fields is a former dairy farm that is now a working farm where young people grow food for the community.  We spent so much time there because there are off-leash hiking trails through the wooded section of the property.  After our walks we would stop in at The Market Basket which is a European style gourmet market and that means it is a go-to for handmade pastries, baguettes, croissants, and more.

So if you think Camden sounds like a fun little Maine town with lots of charm then plan to stop here ... at least for a few days.  We just touched on a little bit of what Camden and the neighboring town of Rockport have to offer.  







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