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Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life-and travel-leaves marks on you.
----Anthony Bourdain

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Quick Overnight Boondocking

Maybe it's boondocking, maybe it's "Moochdocking". Technically we were boondocking but since it was on a friend's land, maybe it is moochdocking. But, when a friend with land says, "Come and stay any time", you do. We're still getting used to Maeve Anne and all of the nuts and bolts of her. And since we plan on doing some boondocking in the future, we need to make sure we have a good idea of how much battery and water we'll be able to use. 
We enjoyed sitting right on the lake and admiring the reflection of the trees in the water:


We only stayed 1 night but we were able to gauge how much electricity and water we would use per day. We made full use of the bathroom for the first time and used the inverter so we could cook supper and then breakfast. Maeve Anne did a great job although the water situation is a little questionable. When we left the house we had 67% of the tank but it quickly fell to 33%. We've read that the water gauge isn't real reliable so we'll have to continue to figure that one out. 
It was pretty warm during the day so we thought we would leave the back doors open and use the screen. When I got in bed that night we decided to close the doors. With the window over the bed open, the front windows of the cabin open and the fan on, it was pretty chilly. So we have yet to sleep with the doors open. 

We went to bed and woke up to the sounds of bullfrogs and birds. Since the friend's land is popular with motorcyclists, there was a class going on that morning. It was a little loud but not too badly and they were very respectful. 
One thing I am really enjoying is the short amount of time it takes to pack up. With the Cargolite Xtreme and the tent, we would be so sweaty by the time we were ready to get on the road.  (Robert more so than I.) With Maeve Anne, I make sure everything is ready in the cabin and Robert checks outside and makes sure everything is ready to go. Right now we have a large tote in the garage that we are tying down to keep it from moving around. We think we have an idea for what we want to do. It's different than what we've seen anyone else do but it's what we think will work for us and will give us some additional storage. So stay tuned!
Robert also had the chance to try out the 4-wheel drive:  He drove through the creek to get to our site, and then got to drive back through it on the way out. She did great!







Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Hornsby Hollow, TN

 

Hornsby Hollow is a favorite campground of ours. We first visited back in 2016 when we had our Cargolite Xtreme.
Cargolite Xtreme Toy Hauler by Watts Bar Lake
This time we were on the opposite side of the campground and I have to say that I prefer the side we were on before. It just seemed a little more crowded than the last time we were there. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Where is Hornsby Hollow? It is in Ten Mile, TN between Chattanooga and Knoxville. It's right on Watts Bar Lake (one of the largest lakes in the south) which makes it a favorite for fishermen and water enthusiasts. TVA created the lake when it built the dam. 
Hornsby Hollow is easily accessible from I75 or I40
The sites are spacious and absolutely gorgeous. I would argue that every site has a view of the lake. We were lucky enough to snag a site right on the water.
View from Campsite
The sites will cost you, though. It's definitely not the least expensive place we've camped, but it's not the most expensive either. Their website indicates that the average site will cost $40-$43/night. We were told that the reservation system is going to change, but for now, you have to call the morning of and reserve a spot then. 

Cell service is okay but not great. Wifi is available but only at the entrance. Water and electricity are available at the sites; the dump station for gray and black water tanks is located at the entrance. Each site has a picnic table, lantern post, and a firepit/grill.
All of the sites are equipped with a grill/fire pit
A very small store is at the entrance with a book-lending library and a residential washer/dryer. When we arrived, we were able to go directly to our site since Robert paid online. I was surprised at the great site he was able to get, but even more surprised that there were so many sites available on the weekend. The bathhouses are plentiful and the shower pressure is good. 
The bathhouses are energy efficient

Spacious shower with good pressure and warm water
Nice big bench in the shower far enough from the water to keep your things from getting wet
2 sinks with paper towels!
More pictures of the campground:
Boat ramp with more sites
The sidewalk leading to swimming section
Stairs to the swimming section
Playground
Like I said at the beginning of the post, I prefer the other side. I'm sure it's not, but it feels like there's more room over there. Luckily, we didn't have anyone in the site next to us so it felt like we had more room than we actually did. 
Would we stay here again? Absolutely. It's not far from home so it's good for a quick getaway. It's peaceful hearing the water lap against the shore and watching the fishermen out on boats. Not to mention watching the water birds.  We aren't water people but we do enjoy being close to it and watching others enjoy it. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Maiden Voyage with our Entegra Launch

First night in Maeve Anne

For Maeve Anne’s maiden voyage (which we have dubbed “Maeveanne voyage”) we drove about an hour from home to a campground where we have stayed a couple of times. This is a campground that you have to call the day of to see if there are open sites, then you can reserve a site. Not only did we reserve a spot, but there were several that were open. This is definitely a hidden gem…right on Watts Bar Lake with every site having a view of the lake.

Robert had no trouble backing her into the spot. Once there, I put some groceries away and Robert got out our chairs. Then we started figuring things out. We got out the covers for the windshield and the cab windows. That’s where we encountered a problem. The shades are supposed to have magnets in them, and I think they do but they are so weak that they won’t hold up the shades. Fortunately, we didn’t have anyone right beside us so it wasn’t a huge concern this trip. Buying magnetic shades quickly went to the top of the list of things we need to purchase...or heavier magnets and some glue.

I managed to get the side cover up but it didn't last long!

Now for the bed. I’m 5’9” and Robert is 6’3” so we aren’t small people. We weren’t completely sure how comfortable we would both be since the bed is a little on the small side. Size-wise, it turned out to be fine. As with most RV mattresses, the comfort level left something to be desired. We watched videos of people recommending different toppers or mattresses. I ordered the one recommended by a guy who is about our age and at the time of this writing, it's on the bed, all made up, ready to go.

Pre-topper

We used the portable induction cooktop for the first time to make breakfast. It worked great but getting the sticker off it was fairly time-consuming. It’s going to take some time to get used to the controls and how the heat works, but it’ll come. I like that it is stored under the pantry instead of taking up a whole drawer. It has its only little place so it will be protected.

First meal! Another thing on the list...outdoor rugs!
Coffee...a must-have

We hooked up the water without incident. Robert checked everything inside to make sure there were no leaks and that everything was working as it should. No problems there. When I washed the dishes I put a collapsible bin in the sink, filled up one with soapy water and one with just water for rinsing, and washed outside. Thankfully, we have a lot of camping supplies from our years of camping so the only things we’ll need to buy are things specifically for the van (like the window coverings). 

Now...why "Maeve Anne"? As mentioned in the previous post, our Ireland trip inspired this purchase. While we were in Killarney, we walked into a crowded pub and asked a young couple if we could join them because there were absolutely NO seats available. They said yes and we ended up talking and laughing with them for a few hours. (Okay, truth be told, since we were in a pub, of course, drinks were involved!) Her name is Maeve...she was absolutely beautiful and extremely nice. And to top it off, she is a special education teacher of high school students with autism. That's why we named her "Maeve". Robert said that since she's southern (the van, not the Irish lady) she needs a second name, and "Anne" just popped out. I didn't think about how it sounded when both names are put together but we think it works.

We can't wait to see where Maeve Anne takes us!


Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Journey to Find Maeve Anne


Roche's Caravan and Campsite, County Wexford
A year ago, Robert & I rented a campervan and toured around the Republic of Ireland for 10 days. We appreciated the ease of pulling into a parking space and staying the night. No setup, no teardown, just unplug, turn things off, and go. The few times we have gone camping since then made us appreciate the van life even more. We aren’t getting any younger, and Robert likes to have things packed and set up just so. It’s too much for me to handle, getting the tent and gazebo along with other camping items on the top of the Delica Van, which is why that's Robert's job. And then once we get to the site, staking out the tent and gazebo. Our Gazelle tent & gazebo makes things pretty easy, but having to stake them down was a pain in the least and a chore at the most.
FDR State Park, Pine Mountain, GA

After our last camping trip, we decided that if we want to travel like we do we need to make a change. We need something that 1) will allow us to travel on the interstate, 2) be easy setup/tear down, and 3) that I can drive if I need to. We kept talking about our Ireland Adventure and the camper we rented. It was just about perfect; we really liked the layout and the space. An added plus was the convenience of a bathroom if it was needed. So, we began our search.

Inside the Irish Campervan

We started looking at different vans with different layouts but kept coming back to the one in Ireland. That narrowed things down somewhat. Robert started looking at different types of chassis and we narrowed things down further. We finally had it narrowed down to 2 different vans: the Airstream Rangeline and the Winnebago Revel. A local dealership had both of them so we could compare literally side-by-side. Robert discovered that a lift kit could be put on the Rangeline so it was very desirable. I liked all of the storage space it has; every inch has a purpose. The last question we had to ask ourselves was, “Where do we want to go in it?” That was the clincher: we want to be able to camp on the beach and off the beaten trail and you can’t do that in a front-wheel drive van.

I have to be honest: the first time I looked at the Revel I wasn’t sure about it. I thought it was overpriced for the space. But it grew on me the more I looked at it and the more YouTube videos I watched. As I said, there was a dealership in town that had a Revel for sale. Robert began negotiations which ended up being pretty short. He knew we could get one for a lot less than their final offer. He sent me a link for an Entegra Launch and asked what I thought. I knew when I saw it that that was it. It is basically the Revel but with upgrades. The inside is more aesthetically pleasing and the kitchen drawers are more functional.

Once we decided on exactly the van we wanted, Robert took to the internet to find one. It didn’t take him long to find a dealership with few in stock. A couple of weeks later, we had perfect timing to fly down to pick it up. Our plan was to fly in on Wed. night, inspect and pick it up on Thursday, and drive 2 days home. Only that didn’t happen. The van we wanted had battery issues in the cabin that the dealership couldn’t resolve. They had another one with a working battery, but it turned out the chassis had issues that couldn’t be fixed. So we called it a day (or rather, a weekend) and flew home. We were really disappointed but realized that it was for the best.

I did a search for the van in our home state, and one popped up that was a couple of hours from us. The dealership is a national chain that just opened up a branch in Nashville. Robert immediately called and spoke with someone. He assured us that everything was working as it should. He sent Robert pictures of questions he had and even sent him a video to answer one of the questions. Again, the timing was right so Robert ubered over and came home with her that night. He said the dealership was professional and knew everything about the van that he expected them to.

Maeve Anne is home!
Owning a camper van was such a dream of ours since Ireland. We thought about buying a van and having it customized. In fact, Robert spoke with some guys a few months ago and was getting ready to look for a van when I got cold feet. We have the Delica and I thought that was pretty much all we needed...until we camped again with it a couple of months ago. In the cold. Without a bathroom. We expect to have some stellar times with Maeve Anne and can't wait to get started!

Find out why we named her Maeve Anne in the next blog post!

Monday, April 10, 2023

F. D. Roosevelt State Park, GA

Robert spent a night at FDR State Park on his way to camp in Florida. He said it was a place we needed to return to, so when we were looking at someplace to camp in mid-March, I suggested FDR. It was further south which was important for warmer weather... or so we thought. Since we were in the Delica, we took the back roads instead of driving on the interstate. The drive wasn't bad at all, although there was one section that was a bit boring. We arrived after 5:00 so we checked in online. We found out the day before we left that we still needed to check in with the office so we could put a tag on our post. (Oops...totally my fault. I thought since I had checked us in online it would be taken care of.) What's a trip to a state park without us getting in trouble for some minor infraction! 

We chose a site on the outside of the campground since the lakeside sites were taken. We weren't sure how close together the inside sites were; we like our privacy. There is plenty of space; however, so we would have been fine with an inside site. Our site backed up to the woods, perfect for our next-door neighbor's golden retrievers. They had plenty of space to run and do their business.

Campsite on the inner side
The lakeside sites are absolutely beautiful. Robert was lucky enough to snag one of these sites when he stayed there. 

All of the sites are level and have electricity and water. Gray water dump stations were numerous. If I had to say anything negative, it's that the only place to throw your trash was in the dumpsters which were quite a walk away. In fact, there are only 2 of them for the entire campground.
In addition, the sites also have a table, a fire ring, and a lantern stand. We opted to set up the tent on the drive instead of on the tent pad; we put the gazebo on the tent pad. 
This campground had the nicest playground I think I've ever seen. 
The bathrooms are very clean. In addition to a regular shower, there is a handicap-accessible shower. We were in area #3; the restrooms in area #1 were updated but they did not have paper towels...they only had hand dryers. When I'm camping when it's cold, I like to be able to make sure my hands are dry before I go outside. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the hand dryers at all. 




I was pleasantly surprised to see these messages in the bathroom. Even if 1 person is helped, it's worth it.

FDR is Georgia's largest state park. It is located right next to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA.  If you haven't heard of Pine Mountain, you've probably heard of Warm Springs, where FDR went for polio treatments. Visiting the Little White House, walking the trails in the park, and visiting Pine Mountain are some of the activities available. We really enjoyed the Little White House, the pools at Warm Springs, and having a picnic lunch on Dowdle's Knob. This is definitely a place we would revisit.
Brick oven where FDR would grill while on Dowdell's Knob
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