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

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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