Back in Familiar Territory

DSC_9912We can’t seem to get very far from Cincinnati. We are back at the FMCA Campground for a couple weeks (if they don’t kick us out). Have big plans for doctor and dentist visits, getting the dog to the vet and groomed, new tires on the car, you know all the fun stuff! Actually there should be a bunch of fun stuff involved too – seeing friends and a wedding!

Also on the agenda is eating at some of our favorite Cincinnati restaurants – Frischs, Skyline, Graeters, and Blue Ash Chili.

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RViewToday – a big pile of chili spaghetti beans cheese onions and crackers

We would also like to go to Union Terminal and see the Imax movie on the National Parks.

And, this place is crowded! Every full hook up spot is taken and at times there are several sites in overflow taken. The WiFi went down over the weekend. The electric service is overwhelmed on the hot days and we have low voltage which causes our Progressive Surge Protector to shut off the electric resulting in shutting off the air conditioning. We resort to running the generator at times.

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It’s fun to see the other motorhomes pull in and out and meet new and old friends. We like that there are several options for biking and walking trails and one of our favorite breweries – 50 West – is nearby.

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Oak Hill Campground Lake Vesuvius

Oak Hill Campground – Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area – Wayne National Forest – Pedro, Ohio

We found this to be an oddity. Wayne National Forest is comprised of three blocks of land over 12 Ohio counties and is the only national park in the state of Ohio. The three areas are located by Marietta, Athens and Ironton. Although primitive camping is allowed anywhere in the forest, 3 developed campgrounds are available. There is a very small campground Burr Oak Cove, for tents only in the Athens section and two campgrounds at Ironton. The campgrounds at Ironton – Oak Hill and Iron Ridge, were renovated in 2012 and have nice toilet and shower facilities. They also were outfitted with water and 50 amp electricity. There is a wide dump station at each campground.

We made a reservation online through Reserve America and randomly picked Pine Knob Loop site 25 at Oak Hill near Ironton in then Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area. With the geezer pass (Senior Access Passport) the site was half price, which should have been $12.50, but somehow totaled $45 for the three nights. We missed the turn off to Oak Hill and wound up at Iron Ridge campground by mistake. Big mistake. This road inside the campground is very narrow and becomes very steep it is rated for 45 ft vehicles, but we would have been unable to make the loop at the end. Instead we unhitched the car and drove across the dump area to turn around. thankfully the ground was hard. Eventually we found the Oak Hill campground and the correct loop and site. Without knowing it, we picked the best site sight unseen for our rig. Any site in the Pine Knob loop would work, but site 25 was the only pull through, long and flat at the top. Unfortunately, this loop has only pit toilets, but the other loops have very nice bath houses with individual unisex rooms that include the toilet, sink and shower all stainless fixtures. They have no ventilation however and can get very hot (or cold I suppose).

There is no check-in process, only a pay pedestal and envelopes. You are allowed 2 nights stay without reservations on a first come first served basis, but must make reservations through Reserve America for a stay any longer than 2 days. Reserved sites are designated by white boards with your name and dates on them. There is no Ranger station in the park. Volunteers do all the work including cutting grass and cleaning restrooms. We did see a couple Rangers the first day there, but not after that.

There’s a boat dock with a boardwalk at the far south end of the lake. Electric motors only.

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The boardwalk

There are several hiking trails, one of which is a 18 mile backpacking trail. We didn’t take any trails but walked on the road one day to the beach about 2 miles away (kinda sad looking) and one day to the Vesuvius Iron Furnace (about 2 miles in the other direction.

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The old Iron Furnace

The campground is located at a much higher elevation than the beach or furnace making walking down easy, but very challenging coming back. Early in the morning, we could only hear the songs of birds and enjoyed the trees and scenery.

You feel isolated here, and except for the people in the camp sites, we saw very few other people. When we left, only 4 of the sites in our loop were occupied, but we were told by regulars that it is quite crowded on weekends in season.

 

 

Mayberry Campground

Mayberry Campground – 114 Bunker Road – Mt. Airy, North Carolina

We stayed at this campground back in 2010. At the time it was fairly new and we liked it. Well, they haven’t done much to it since then, and we were less impressed this visit. All sites are full hook ups, with gravel roads and pads. There’s fairly easy access off I74. They accept Passport America but only on Monday – Thursday. They give a 10% Good Sam discount and we got our site for $30/night. We were assigned site 69 a pull through. It appears that there are long term residents since a couple of the trailers couldn’t move if they wanted, but most of the place looks OK. Perhaps the better sites are 2 – 5 up on the hill with a view of the mountains and the campground ponds and I74.

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View from site 5

The office is just an old trailer and doesn’t present a good first impression. The comfort stations are part of the trailer and are just ok, but clean. There’s a separate laundry building that I didn’t check out since it looked worse than the office.

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The Office

Also on the grounds is the home of Eng Bunker’s son, William. Eng and Chang Bunker were the famous conjoined twins – known as Siamese twins since they were born in Siam (now Thailand). They were born in 1811. The site of the campground was part of a 2,000 acre farm owned by Eng and Chang. They toured with shows and then retired and married sisters and between them fathered 21 children. Their descendants own the campground and many of the areas farms and houses.

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The Bunker House

While we were here we took the short drive to Mt. Airy, NC famous as the home of Andy Griffith and the inspiration for the town of Mayberry in the TV series of the 50’s and 60’s. The entire town caters to fans of the show with Barney’s café, Snappy Lunch, Floyd’s barber shop and numerous souvenir stores selling I love Mayberry T-shirts. There was a classic car cruise in on Saturday that we enjoyed.

Sunday we visited Pilot Mountain State Park and enjoyed walking the Jomeokee trail that circles around the distinctive granite cap on the mountain. The day was absolutely beautiful and you could see all the way to Winston-Salem 30 miles away.

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View from Pilot Mountain

We had a nice stay here despite the fact that our only view was the side of the ‘vintage’ airstream parked 10 feet from us. Next time we’ll request a different site. And we can’t complain too much because just a short drive from here the view improves immensely.

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RViewToday – the dome of Pilot Mountain from the trail.

Three Months on the Road

threeWell, here we are in Mt Airy North Carolina the home of Andy Griffith celebrating the quarter year anniversary of full timing. It already seems like a long strange road. One month was spent in the two North Carolina State Parks by Durham as we awaited and then welcomed Anna Claire into our family.

One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned is that the maintenance and upkeep on the motorhome is expensive. There always seems to be something that needs to be checked or fixed or fiddled with. These things are complicated machines and as such, any work performed on them is costly.

Another aspect we need to address is the distance from friends and family. On the plus side, we had the opportunity to spend a month with our younger daughter and her family and welcome a new grandchild into our family, on the negative side we miss our friends in Cincinnati and our older daughter’s family in Indianapolis. We should be back in Cincy next week and in Indy shortly after that.

So, we are still optimistic about this new lifestyle and look forward to more adventures.