How’s your imagination?

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What’s the Story?
Indeed, that is actually what it’s all about. Time to get off the couch, leave the smart phone, video games and ear buds behind and explore the big story that Nature is telling all around us. Do you remember when you were young and a day you just stopped to look up at the clouds to see what shapes they were taking? How many kids do that anymore?

Now what if trees could talk, flowers could bicker and the birds and animals you see could tell you a story? What a place it would be!

In my World they do – you just have to observe closely and listen with your imagination. I’ll try my best to catch them in the act and then it’s up to you to tell their story. It’s quite easy when you try. For instance….

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Who is “he”? Is it something good or is it something bad? There is no wrong story it’s just that story from your heart and it’s right on.

Photographs that tell a story!
Each has a title to prompt your thinking and we challenge everyone to tell the story behind the picture. It is the real World yet also a place of Fairy Tales where trees do talk, flowers do argue and the birds and animals are quick to comment on all manner of topics.

There are more examples on our website at “Nature’s Children”

 It’s
“NATURE’S CHILDREN”

Nature’s Fairy Tales in Photos
by Jack Armstrong

 

Color it Autumn in New York and the Northeast

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Friday was a beautiful Fall day and we took full advantage with a trip to a huge book sale in Shelburne, Vermont,
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a stop at the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in,
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lunch at the famous Bridge Restaurant in West Addison, Vermont,
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an Autumn photo-stop at Historic Ironville, NY – Birthplace of the Electrical Age in mining and
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a final stop to see the good folks (and the bison) at the Buffalo Farm in North Hudson, NY.
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The Buffalo Farm is the place we stock up on their mighty fine Vermont-made corn relish and Amish-made preserves for our upcoming Snowbird trip back South.

An excellent day shared with Niki and regretfully our last weekend outing with our Summer sidekick Brother Ken.

Hop Aboard and follow our Blog as we visit new places, find friendly faces and enjoy life along the Snowbird RV Trails at snowbirdrvtrails.com.

Adirondack Mountain Fall Foliage Loop among the High Peaks

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Our stay in the Adirondacks is getting short so Niki, Brother Ken and I paid homage to the foliage Gods today by taking our yearly 130 mile Autumn loop through the heart of the High Peaks of these Adirondack Mountains.

There were splashes of beautiful color here and there but most of the route had only 25% to 50% peak color. So there is still time if you want to try the loop for yourself.

Starting in North Hudson this route takes us through Keene and Keene Valley (Artists & Craftspeople), Lake Placid (Winter Olympics venues), Saranac Lake (thriving lakeside town), Tupper Lake (The Wild Center), Long Lake (seaplanes, water taxis & Hoss’s Country Corner) – then finally down the Blue Ridge Road (past The Buffalo Farm) and back  to our starting point at North Hudson (former Frontier Town theme park location).

So much to see and do along this route that anyone could easily spend an entire day completing it.

We stopped for lunch on Main Street in Saranac Lake to try The Downhill Grill for the first time. The sandwiches and soups were excellent and cheerful Susie who waited on us made the whole experience most enjoyable.

Day 16 and 17 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada

Day 16 and 17 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada
Mt Airy, NC to Mt. Jackson, VA 231 miles
5/16-5/17 Friday-Saturday

Shenandoah Valley Campground - Mount Jackson, Virginia
Shenandoah Valley Campground – Mount Jackson, Virginia

Shenandoah Family Campground is located just off I-81, VA Exit 269. This campground is only a year old and already popular with RVers looking for an overnight spot on their way North or South. The young couple running the place are very personable and ready to answer any questions.

This stopover deserves a little more attention than just a quick night off the road. To begin with the Town of New Market is the next Exit South and an easy drive to visit the well known site of the Battle of New Market during the War between the States. In fact on this particular weekend they are having a reenactment of the battle. There are hundreds of the small white tents set up in various areas of the Park and blue and gray uniforms are everywhere.

North Entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway
North Entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway

Since we had only the one full day we opted for one of the other big area attractions and that is the Shenandoah National Park and a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This most Northern section runs for 30 miles along the crest from the Thornton Gap Entrance near our campground to the Northern Entrance at Front Royal, Virginia.

Admission is free with an America the Beautiful or Senior National Park Pass.

Blue Ridge Parkway -Jeremys Run Overlook
Blue Ridge Parkway – Pass Mountain Overlook

We were fortunate in that it was one of those beautiful sunny days when you can see forever. There are wide, paved “pull-offs” at regular intervals with names like Jeremys Run Overlook at 2,410 ft that we stopped at along the way.

Elk Wallow Visitors Area Blue Ridge Parkway
Elk Wallow Visitors Area

We stopped at “Elk Wallow” where they have a large picnic area, gift shop, and snack bar. We had lunch there and we have to say that the hot dog and grilled chicken sandwich were prepared fresh and were quite good. I might mention that if you are on a tight budget you may want to bring your own picnic lunch. Same goes for the souvenirs and camping supplies. They are the only source for miles around and the prices reflect this.

We did enjoy sitting and watching the crowd. This is a junction in the Appalachian Trail as well and there were hikers and bikers and tourists from all over the World. The bikers were talking about a wildcat and a bear cub they had seen on their journey.

Hogback Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Hogback Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

“Hogback Overlook” was our next stop and it is the highest on this part of the Parkway at 3,385ft.

Blue Ridge Parkway Overlook
Blue Ridge Parkway Overlook

 

There are views from other overlooks with names like Gimlet Ridge (2,655ft), Hogwallow Flats (2,665ft), Jenkins Gap (2,355ft), and Gooney Run Overlook (2,085ft).

Dickey Ridge Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Dickey Ridge Visitor Center

On our way down toward the Front Royal Northern exit/entrance we stopped at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (1,940ft) where Rangers are on hand to answer questions and, of course, there’s another gift/souvenir shop. This was perhaps the most relaxing place to view the Shenandoah Valley.

Shenandoah Valley Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Shenandoah Valley Overlook

The last was the Shenandoah Valley Overlook (1,390ft). This stop had signs explaining what we were viewing as did many of the other Overlooks.

We had dinner in New Market our first evening here, at the suggestion of our campground host. The restaurant is called the Southern Kitchen and is located on South Congress Street. It has a 50’s/60’s style with a soda fountain and the jukebox selection boxes at the tables along the walls. We didn’t really enjoy the food that much and it is rather pricey. Again, we don’t complain about price if the food quality and service merit it. This place is not a good value. However we do recommend a frozen custard stand also in New Market on US-211 just as you start out of town toward the Blue Ridge Parkway. They have a hot fudge brownie creation that you won’t soon forget!

Home of Route 11 Potato Chips
Home of Route 11 Potato Chips

Other reasons to make this campground a stopover? On the same street as the campground is the Route 11 Potato Chip Factory. They do give tours during the week with samples and they do have a retail outlet.

This is also a great starting point for a visit to either the Luray or Shenandoah Caverns nearby.

Gas at this Exit is $3.359.

Our next stop will be Dover, Pennsylvania.

More information about:
Shenandoah Family Campground
168 Industrial Park Road, Mt. Jackson (Quicksburg), Virginia 22842
(540) 477-3080 PA/$23.50
PT, 20/30/50Amp, FHU, Free WiFi & Cable. Passport America/1 night – Sunday through Thursday only.
43 total RV sites, can accommodate RV’s up to 70ft, 30/50 amp, dump station, back-ins, pull-thrus, full hookups, tent sites, Cable TV, Wi-Fi, restrooms, showers, laundry, handicap accessible, swimming pool, playground, BBQ, fire rings, picnic tables, horseshoes, recycling, security, restaurant, store, propane and ice.

Shenandoah Campground website:
http://www.shenandoahfamilycampground.com/Campground_Map.html

Passport America information:
http://www.passportamerica.com/campgrounds/va/shenandoahvalleycampground3546

Route 11 Potato Chip Factory
http://www.rt11.com/cfmodules/ObjMgr.cfm?Obj=home

Day 7 thru 11 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada

Day 7 thru 11 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada
St. George, SC to Murrells Inlet, SC 171 miles
5/7-5/11 Wednesday-Sunday

Entering Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet,
Entering Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet, SC

Huntington Beach State Park is located on the Atlantic Ocean in Murrells Inlet, SC, just South of Myrtle Beach and just across from Brookgreen Gardens. The Park covers 2,500 acres and includes a camping area, day use picnic area, a large sandy beach with relatively few beachgoers, hiking/biking trails, and many places to enjoy birding and gator watching.

Huntington Beach State Park Ranger Station & Gift Shop
Huntington Beach State Park Ranger Station & Gift Shop

You’ll find a limited camp store/gift shop at the Ranger Station/check-in location near the day use area.

Campsites in the Huntington Beach State Park camping area
Campsites in the Huntington Beach State Park camping area

The camping area consists of 131 campsites nicely spaced for the most part. Maximum trailer lengths vary from 30’ to 40’. They are arranged in loops around a green space usually with a combined restroom/shower building in the center. There are access trails to the beach from the camping area as well as the picnic area.

The beautiful beach at Huntington Beach State Park
The beautiful beach at Huntington Beach State Park

The beach seems to extend forever and is unmarred by the proximity to the hotels and high-rises found along most sections of the Grand Strand. If nothing else it is well worth the $5 day use fee to make a visit just to enjoy the uncrowded beach in this part of the area.

Huntington Beach State Park's Nature Center
Huntington Beach State Park’s Nature Center

Nature lovers will enjoy the park’s Nature Center and wide variety of programming, including the chance to see alligators, loggerhead turtles and other endangered plant and animal species up close.

Huntington Beach State Park Boardwalks
Huntington Beach State Park Boardwalks

There are several boardwalks extending out into the lake and marsh area with interpretive signs to explain certain historical and ecological facts.

Huntington Beach State Park Causeway
Huntington Beach State Park Causeway

The causeway between the park’s freshwater lake (Mullet Pond) and Oaks Creek saltwater marsh area is a sure-fire place to see alligators, egrets, and birds of many kinds.

Atalaya Castle in Huntington Beach State Park Murrells Inlet, SC
Atalaya Castle in Huntington Beach State Park Murrells Inlet, SC

Atalaya Castle, also in the Park, is the picturesque, Moorish-style winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, philanthropist and sculptor, respectively, who left the park and adjacent Brookgreen Gardens as their legacy. Constructed to withstand hurricanes, it was built during the Depression giving much needed employment to dozens of local people.

The first evening of our stopover we had dinner at an old favorite, the 120 item China Buffet in Surfside Beach. The food was just fair this time. Perhaps it has changed hands but it used to be exceptional. The tab with tip was $27.17 for the 2 of us.

A picnic with old friends at Huntington Beach State Park
A picnic with old friends at Huntington Beach State Park

Our second afternoon we were very pleased to have two old Myrtle Beach friends, Patrish Blackstock and Wally Snider, join us for a picnic at our campsite. Many know the couple through Patrish’s exceptional website, funbeaches.com, an all inclusive guide to the Myrtle Beach Area. It was great fun catching up with what all of us had been doing.

Maggi D's Fine Italian Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC
Maggi D’s Fine Italian Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC

Our third afternoon we took Patrish’s and Wally’s suggestion and had dinner at Maggi D’s Italian Restaurant near the Coastal Grand Mall in Myrtle Beach. Exceptional service cheerfully prodded on by the jovial owner. We enjoyed the Chicken French and the Spaghetti & Meatballs. A piece of lemon cake for dessert topped off the meal nicely. The 2 dinners came to $43.96 with tip.

Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach, SC
Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach, SC

The 4th day ‘twas the night before Mother’s Day so we splurged and took Niki out to the Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach. Neither of us is a big meat eater so we had just the salad bar which offers some 35 items that you don’t normally find on an average salad bar. The atmosphere is noisy and chaotic but we both enjoyed our meal. “The Kids” treat came to $66.14 for the both of us.

Barefoot Landing Boardwalk & Shops in Myrtle Beach, SC
Barefoot Landing Boardwalk & Shops in Myrtle Beach, SC

Before the Rioz we spent some time wandering around Barefoot Landing near the Intracoastal Waterway in North Myrtle Beach. Barefoot consists of over 100 specialty shops and restaurants around a 27 acre lake. Our stroll ended up with only the purchase of a $4 decadent cookie we bought to share from the River Street Sweets shop.

Sunday, our last full day, we spend repacking everything for our departure on Monday since rain showers are predicted for the next leg of our trip. It’s always better to pack on a dry day!
Our last dinner in Myrtle Beach is at Angelo’s, another favorite of ours. It’s a favorite for golfers as well; after a day of chasing the little white ball nothing beats a really good steak and Angelo’s serves close to 100,000 of them each year!

There are many who prefer to camp in the huge, reach-out-and-touch-your-neighbor, golf cart infested, mega campgrounds along the beach but we have found 2 with a slower pace and closer to Nature and the peace and quiet we like. One is this Huntington Beach State Park, which is about 16 miles South of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade. The other is Carrollwoods RV Park at Grapeful Sisters Vineyard in Tabor City, NC – 20 miles North of the City of North Myrtle Beach.

The best price we found for gasoline was $3.399 at the Circle K on the corner of Hwy 17 and 544 in Surfside Beach.

Our next stop will be Asheboro, NC.

More info about:
Huntington Beach State Park
16148 Ocean HWY, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
843-237-4440 huntingtonbeach@scprt.com

107 sites with Elec. & Water at $21-41/site/night.
24 FHU (Full Hookup Sites with Elec, Water, Sewer) at $24-47/site/night.
Call 1-866-345-7275 for reservations.

Huntington Beach State Park website:
http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/huntingtonbeach/introduction.aspx

Things to do & see on the Grand Strand:
http://www.myrtlebeachsnowbird.com
http://www.funbeaches.com