Lake Gypsy - Camping Trips for 2017

February 18, 2017 - Point South / Yemassee KOA (339 miles)

Stopped here on our way to Orlando.  With stops and all it was about a 7 hour drive.  Good place to spend the night.  The site was level enough that I did not even disconnect the trailer from the tow vehicle.  We hooked up (dry) to electric and put the slide out.  Just spent the night.  It was a nice KOA.

Notes: 
Bathrooms were nice and clean.  They also have heat and air conditioning.
There is a nice dog run.
They have a nice coffee shop.
Easy off and on from I-95 
 
We stayed at site #2.


February 19, 2017 - Orlando SE / Lake Whippoorwill KOA (994 miles)


This KOA in Orlando was very nice.  The spaces were tight, but they had nice plantings so it still felt somewhat private.  It was on a beautiful lake and we saw beautiful sunrises over the lake.  One of the most awesome features of this campground was the dog park.  The girls loved the dogpark.  It was big and they had fun running off leash there.

We stayed here while Luis and I attended the National USPS meeting.  It worked out great and I would definitely stay at this KOA again.  Walmart was across the street and up one block and many restaurants were nearby.

The campground store had some great jewelry in it from fair trade sources.  The workers at the KOA all belong to a program where they exchange different amounts of hours on a contract for camping and electric privileges.  They were all very nice people and the campground was very clean and managed well.  The bathrooms were great with lots of clean shower rooms.

Our first full day there (Sunday) we drove to the "farm" to see Javi, Tania and the boys.  This was my first time there and we enjoyed checking it out with them and visiting.  We ate together at Sonny's BBQ.
  
One of the fun things we did in Orlando was tour the Chocolate Kingdom and learn about chocolate.  Also, Monica and I did the Orlando Crayola factory and it was fun also.  We ate several times in a chicken salad restaurant (the Chicken Salad Chick) that was very good.  I hope the idea takes off.  I'd love to have one here.  

It was a fun and relaxing week in Florida. 

Notes: 
  1. This is a great location when visiting Orlando.
  2. There were stores gas stations, and restaurants nearby.
  3. The bathrooms were nice.
  4. The dog park was very nice!
  5. There was a store onsite which carried anything you might need in an emergency including change for the laundry machines.
  6. The campsites are very close to each other so getting in and out might be a problem with a larger rig.
  7. The lake was very nice and you could see the sunrise over it.
 
We stayed at Site D17.


April 7, 2017 - Falls Lake, NC (62 miles)

Spent 2 nights at Falls Lake Holly Point campground.  This was our first trip of the season with the PALS.  It was nice to be able to go nearby and enjoy our local Falls Lake campground.  We were still dry camping.  Luis let us use the toilet we just didn't run water through the lines.  The first night we were in the camper enjoying the heater when everything shut off.  It turns out the surge protector protected us from their uneven electrical service.  Luis was able to get us battery for lights but we didn't have the heaters and it got pretty cold.  Then in the middle of the night everything cut back on.  It was nice to have the heat back.  Richard and Teresa also had the same problem with their site.

Saturday we had a community meal of mountain pies.  Ed and Jean joined us with Zeus.  He had already grown so much.  We all convened at Richard and Teresa's campground for the mountain pie feast.  We made pies with pretzel rolls, philly cheesesteaks and provolone.  They were pretty good.  Also we did an apple cinnamon dessert pie with a sweet cinnamon break.  Also very good.  We had a good mountain pie feast.

The girls enjoyed many hikes around the park. 

Notes: 
We had problems with AC power.  At night the voltage jumped as high as 134 which would cause the surge protector to kick in.
 
We stayed at site #102.



April 28, 2017 - Croatan National Forest - Cedar Point Recreation Area (355 miles)


We were so lucky to have a perfect "freakishly warm" weekend for April.  Friday we gathered at the Cedar Point campground with the "Pals." Teresa and Richard, Sally and David and my sister Debbie joined us with her tent.  We ate on the way and Richard and T and Sally and David shared a meal together at the campground.  We learned that Richard and Teresa were having their swan song with their 2nd camper.  It seems their new truck precipitated the purchase of their new fifth wheel camper.  They did not have it yet as it was being fitted with the washer and dryer so they were enjoying their last trip with their 2nd camper.

Saturday we headed over to Hammocks Beach to launch the kayaks and journey to Bear Island.  We picked up Subway for our picnic.  We were joined by Greg, Jim, Lisa and Bill, and David from the Power Squadron at the kayak launch.  The ferry was closed since they were doing dock repairs.  That was unfortunate as Sally was hoping to ride the ferry over.  It was a beautiful day on the water.  Teresa and Richard headed out quickly in a tandem and Deb and Zoe and I headed out in our tandem.  Luis and Kaylee were in the single.  We all made it safely to the island and walked down the island seeing two big gelatinous jellyfish on the way. We had a nice lunch in the gazebo and then went out to relax on the beach.  The ocean water was still very cold.  The water in the sound was a good deal warmer, especially in the shallow parts.

After our kayak trip we returned to the campground to shower and headed over to Swansboro Food and Beverage Company for an excellent dinner.  The coconut shrimp with lime sauce did not disappoint us.  

We returned to the campground and joined the Pals at their campsite for a campfire.  It was a great fire and we enjoyed visiting.  Luis and I had our campground reserved Sunday night also so we could stay most of the day Sunday until we wanted to leave.  It was a good plan.  We all ate breakfast together at Carteret Cafe.  Banana fritters for us and Sally and David had apple.  We also all had eggs and coffee.  We returned to the campground and Debbie departed.  The Pals were breaking down and we headed with the girls to Beaufort.  It was about a 1/2 hour drive.  We walked around and found a "water taxi" they said the girls could come and they were getting ready to push off.  It was a nice little boat with a cover.  They took us on a tour around the waterway and talked about the wild horses.  We only saw two up close.  There was a herd in the distance but we could not get too close as the tide was out and it was too shallow to get closer.  It was the perfect temperature again and the girls loved the boat ride also.  The guide was very informative.

We headed back to the campground to do breakdown.  We left the campground around 4:00 and it was nice that we were the only ones at the dump station.  We had a great weekend. 

Notes:
All the campsites are nice with 30 and 50 amp service.
There is water at the dump station and between a few sites, but not at each campsite.
Campsites 1, 2, and 4 are very nice and private with shade.
Campsites 5, and 8 are very nice but have little or no shade.
Campsites 6, and 7 are very nice and private with shade.  These are also next to water spigots.
Campsites 9A, 9B, and 10 are very nice and private with shade.  These would also be good for group camping.
Campsite 11 is very nice and private with shade.  It is also next to a water spigot.
Campsite 12 is very nice and private with shade.  It is also next to the bathrooms so it would be good for dry camping.
Campsite 14 is very nice and private with shade.  It is also next to a water spigot.
Campsites 15 through 23 are nice but far from the bathrooms.
Campsite 24 is very nice and private with shade.
Campsites 26A, 26B, and 27 are very nice and private with shade.  These would also be good for group camping.  Site 27 is also next to a water spigot.
Campsite 29 is very nice and private with shade.  It is also next to a water spigot.

 We stayed in campsite 8 in loop A.

July 1, 2017 - Mayberry Campground in Mount Airy, NC (349 miles)

We spent 3 nights at the Mayberry Campground in Mount Airy, NC. We stayed in campsite # 61.  We spent most of our time in Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain.

We left home early Saturday morning (around 9) and got there and set up after lunch of pizza on the way.  We took the dogs for a walk around the campground which was full of class A's.  It started pouring rain and thankfully they have metal shelters.  It was very noisy, but at least we stayed dry until it let up. We loaded the dogs in the car and went for a walk downtown.  Only a few stores were open but mostly they had shut down.  However, we had fun walking and then it started raining again.  Thankfully, they had a lot of storefront awnings and Luis ran to get the car so we didn't have to get too wet.  We came back and reheated more pizza for dinner.  

Sunday, we got up early and got the girls harnessed up and drove to Pilot Mountain State Park.  It was still a bit cool (or at least not hot yet) and shady as we drove to the summit and hiked around the Pinnacle.  It was a beautiful and fun hike.  Just a bit less than a mile.  There was lots of shade and scenic overlooks and even a breeze on the one side.  The dogs loved it.

We went back to the campsite and showered.  Put the girls in their pen inside the camper and went to 13 Bones for lunch.  Luis said it was the best ribs.  I personally thought they were okay, but the meat seemed a bit dry to me.  They did have a brand of wine that was interesting called Slightly Askew Wines.  They were very interesting like boutique wine coolers.  I had a glass of that and it was great.  We went back to downtown and walked around Mt. Airy.  We enjoyed seeing the "squad car" and antique and souvenir shops.  We bought candy in Opie's candy store and coffee in a coffee shop. Then back to the campground to walk the girls around when it got cooler.  We took them to the Blue Ridge Parkway and found a trailhead to hike on.  We hiked for about a mile.  The Blue Ridge isn't very scenic in this area of Virginia.  Much more to see around Asheville.  There was some sort of Music Center but it was closed. We went back to the campsite.  During our last walk of the evening we saw some nearby fireworks from the campground. 

Monday we went back to the pinnacle trail at Pilot Mountain.  It was enjoyable again although there was no breeze today.  After our walk we went back to shower and went downtown to find food.  Many of the places were closed.  We ended up going to Little Richard's BBQ.  They had great brisket and their sauce was very good.

We went back to the trailer to stay in the AC and rest while Luis worked.  In the evening we took a drive to The Depot in Dobson which was very nearby to the campground just in the opposite direction from Mt. Airy.  It is a beautiful complex with a covered bridge, chapel over the river, fountains, a restaurant, a wedding complex with fountains and outdoor fire pits, an old fashioned gas station on the edge of their country store, etc.  There was a peacock roaming around.  It was closed (it is closed Monday and Tuesday's) but we walked around and enjoyed the beauty of their complex.  Next time we are in the area we plan to eat there as locals told us they have the best ribs!

Tuesday we woke up and walked the girls briefly then broke up camp to head home.  We checked out by 10:30 and arrived home shortly after lunch to start the unpacking/laundry process.  Both girls got bathed. 


Notes: 
  1. Bathrooms were nice and clean.  They also have heat and air conditioning.
  2. There is only one bathhouse.  There are 2 toilets and 1 shower in the men's room and the same in the women's.  This is an RV park so this was not a problem.
  3. There are several common shelters with tables and fire rings.
  4. Campsites do not have tables or fire rings.  You can have them delivered to you campsite.   
We stayed at site #61.

July 28, 2017 - Campfire Lodgings, Asheville, NC (584 miles)

We left Fri afternoon headed to Campfire in Asheville.  We encountered some traffic and rain and arrived around 10:30 p.m.  Luis set up in the dark and some rain.  Saturday we walked the girls around the campground.  Then we went to WalMart to obtain a dehumidifier for the basement at Carina and Ezra's house.  We ate lunch at Moes (the Weaverville BBQ place).  Pattie met Debbie and Amy at Green Cove River to go tubing.  The rapids are very nice but their tubes have no backs or bottoms.  Your behind gets hit by rocks if you stick it in the hole of the tube.  Next time I'd bring a better tube.  They have a 4-mile hairpin road to get there.  We went to dinner with Carina and Ezra and Debbie and Amy at Sunnypoint Cafe.  Yummy!

Sunday we walked the girls again and departed in the car for the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in the Westernmost part of the state.  It is an old growth forest and some of the trees are 480 years old.  We stopped for lunch in Bryson City and it is a quaint little town with a lot to do.  There is a steam train and it is close to Cherokee where the Unto These Hills show is.  We need to camp in the area to do these things.  It is a two-hour drive from Asheville.  It was amazing we were at the Forest on the day of the celebration of 80 years since the forest was dedicated.  The girls enjoyed hiking around the beautiful trails with us.  We drove back to Asheville and let Carina's and Ezra's dogs out as they had gone to a colorguard competition.  Monday we pretty much walked the dogs and packed up to go home.  The weather was beautiful and site D-9 is the bomb! 

Notes: 
  • Sites P1 through P8 have incredible views (specially during sunset).  They are on the edge of the cliff which does leave you exposed to the winds.  There are also no trees so n very hot days you would have no cover.
  • Sites D9 through D15 have trees behind them so the views are limited.  They do have a lot of tree cover which is nice during the day if spending the day outside.
  • Sites D16 through D19 are not the best but are still nice.
  • The WiFi coverage seems to stop around D13.  So if Wifi is important, do not stay in D14 or D15.
  • The road up to the campground is long and narrow.  Rigs going in the opposite direction would be a challenge (but doable).  To avoid problems, they discourage late departures.

We stayed at Campfire Lodgings Site D9.


September 1, 2017 - KOA Asheville West (588 miles)


We left Friday about 4:30 heading for Asheville.  We arrived late in the evening to the KOA West.  Campfire Lodgings was already booked.   For a KOA it was okay.  It was nicely wooded, but the spaces were not spacious which is customary for a KOA.  Also, for using your camper as your hotel it was fine, but not a place you would want to hang around outside as it was very close quarters and lots of highway noise.  They were in the process of building a nice big dog run, but it was not completed.  It did have very nice bathhouses and full hookups.  Friday night was pretty much set up and then to bed.

Saturday we went to the NC Arboretum.  It was $14 a carload to get in.  It was great place to walk around with the dogs.  They had a lot of nice trails and some beautiful gardens along with a bonsai tree garden and a butterfly garden. We ate lunch at their cafe that had an outdoor seating area.  It was very good.  We met Carina and Ezra at Mod Pizza for dinner.  We all enjoyed making our own pizzas.  Then we headed over to Asheville Community Theatre.  Carina costumed "The Producers".  It was the grand reopening show after the renovation.  It was awesome, especially the costumes!  Sunday we headed to Hendersonville for the Apple Festival.  It was very crowded and even though we had the dogs, they were not allowed.  Luckily we were not told to leave with them until we were leaving anyway.  So we headed back to the campground to leave the dogs and meet Carina and Ezra at Rocky's Chicken Shack for dinner.  Monday we packed up and were ready to head out and the car would not start.  The KOA people came and jumpstarted the car and we drove to Auto Zone for a new battery.  It was not the best thing, but we were happy it was only the battery.  After that we met Carina and Ezra in Black Mountain at the Ingles.  We all piled into Ezra's Prius with the dogs to eat at a Farmer's Market restaurant called Roots and Fruits.  It was delicious.  Then we drove to the downtown area and walked around the shops for a while.  Then we headed back to Raleigh.  It was on the journey back that we started thinking about a bigger RV and googled light weight RVs and Pattie discovered Livin Lite RVs.  We would like a bed for Monica, and more room with a dry bathroom but still able to be pulled by our Explorer.

Notes: 
  • Staff very friendly.
  • Narrow roads.
  • Small campsites.
  • Bathrooms clean.
  • Dog run is not complete but looks like it will be nice when done.
  • Good location for Asheville and points west.

We stayed at Campfire Lodgings Site B5.


September 21, 2017 - Carolina Coach and Marine (169 miles)

Last trip with the R-Pod.  We drove our beautiful R-Pod to the dealer to turn her in as a trade-in towards our new camper.  She was a terrific camper for the three years we had her and never gave us any trouble.  We slept in her but did not use the facilities as she was already cleaned.  We were sorry we didn't try to sell her on our own first because we certainly didn't get our worth from the dealer and of course someone will pay more to them to get her.  Next time (if there is one) that is what we will do first before shopping for another.

September 22, 2017 - Country Boys RV Park Madison, GA (633 miles)

Friday after receiving our new 2017 Livin Lite camper and waiting for drawer fasteners and the weight distribution and anti-sway bars to be installed. We finally were on our way to Madison for the Southern Cross  Ranch in Georgia for our first "camp" in the new trailer (sans Monica and dogs).  We ate at Box Car Grille just outside of the Carolina Coach and Marine Dealer lot. 

We arrived at the very convenient "Country Boys RV" pretty late around 9:00 in the dark. We love this place as it is only $40/night with full hookups and very close to the ranch.   Luckily Luis knew most of what he was doing.  Of course Pattie spent the first night on the stock mattress ordering the new one from Amazon.  We do love the space and cannot wait to get her set up and go on our first trip with Monica and the dogs.  Unfortunately, we found out the shower pan has a crack and will need to be replaced.  A large waterproof bandaid sealed it for the remaining showers.  Also when hooking up for the black flush there is obviously a leak of sorts (which is ironically in the area under the shower) so they can fix that at the same time.

The weekend was amazing with two horseback rides and two buffet meals for Pattie and Luis on Saturday.  Pattie rode Salt and Luis had Shantee.  Salt was a bit salty at first but was a great ride.  He just challenged me to be the boss.  I do like a horse with attitude and he was extremely responsive.  Also, Salt had a terrific gait for me and trotting and running were very nice.  Shantee was a good ride, but not anything special, Luis said.  She was a good follower, but did not like to lead.  That worked since Salt was fine being the leader.  When we walked in the pasture Salt headed straight for another horse and it headed for us.  I yanked her around and she kicked at the other horse.  Apparently Salt only likes one other horse (Cowboy).

Sunday we woke up and got ready and did the break down.  That is when we discovered the loose fitting with the black flush.  Also, a lady came wandering to our open door when we were doing breakdown.  She asked for a ride because she had "partied too much last night."  We told her we were sorry we couldn't help her and thankfully she wandered off. 

When we returned to the ranch Pattie had Salt again, but Shantee had a runny eye and they decided not to send her out.  Luis was assigned to ______,  After the ride we had another delicious Sunday buffet of prime rib and went back to Country Boys to hook up and head out.  We had an uneventful ride home towing our new trailer with the Explorer.  It was a great trip.  Love that horse ranch and our new Livin Lite trailer.  Black Beauty? The trip was a bit slow as we did have to stop every two hours to fill the Explorer gas tank.  Hmmm.

Notes:
 
  • Restrooms were nice and clean.
  • Full hookups.
  • Great WiFi signal even out on the edge of the campground.
  • Sites are close together and have no privacy.
  • There are not picnic tables.
  • The cable TV pedestals are only in every other site.  So a longer coax cable (35 feet) might be needed depending on which site you are in.
 
We stayed in campsite 58.


October 14, 2017 - Hibernia Kerr Lake NC (10 miles)



Notes:
  1. Sites 94 to 97 have nice grills, new decks,  and access to the water.
  2. Site 93 has no driveway.  Sort of a drive through.  Park parallel to the road and get good view of the water.
  3. Sites 83 to 92 re not good for RVs.
  4. Site 82 is a double.  Very nice and good view of the sunrise.  Not too protected during storm season.
  5. Sites 80 and 81 is very private and level.  Very nice.  Not too protected during storm season.
  6. Site 79 very nice.  Level with a long driveway.  Very private.
  7. Sites 101 and 102 are nice.  Good water view and have a good boat beach.  Protected during storm season.
  8. Sites 107 and 108 are good for boating.   Protected during storm season.  Near boat ramp.
  9. Sites 109 and 110 are not good for boating.   Protected during storm season.  Near boat ramp. 
We stayed in campsite 97.


October 21, 2017 - Home (107 miles)

Brought the camper home to get it winterized
October 27, 2017 - Carolina Coach and Marine (440 miles)

Took the camper back to the dealer to get some warranty work done.
December 29, 2017 - KOA Myrtle Beach, SC (502 miles)

As it has become our tradition, we went camping for New Year's Day.  We decided to head south trying to find warmer weather.  As it turns out, the cold weather beat us to South Carolina and it snowed the day before we arrived.  We spend most of the weekend in temperatures bellow freezing.  

We were a bit disappointed that circumstances beyond their control prevented Javi, Tania, and the boys from joining us in Myrtle Beach. 

We dry camped except for the necessary toilet.  :)  We were warm and toasty in our camper.  Heater worked very well and we didn't even need our supplemental electric heater.  Although we did go through a lot of propane.   We did also spend some time organizing our new camper and putting up command hooks etc.  Deciding how to best utililize our space and bins, things, from the RPod.

The first two days we were in Myrtle Beach were the warmest in the next few days according to the weather.  So we took the dogs out and did some walking.  We explored the campground and considered walking on the beach.  However, it was in the low 40's and with the wind chill that was not going to happen.  So we utilized the dog park at the campground several times.  The dogs had the opportunity to play with many other dogs and sometimes just each other, but they had fun.

We did make a big Walmart trip to finish the organization of the new camper.  We now have hooks for towels, trash cans in the right places, hooks for pictures, coats, etc. 

Monica's big Christmas present was a tv for her bunk/dining area personal for her use.  She enjoyed trying it out and we enjoyed her being able to watch what she wanted and us having the other tv for our use.

The day before new years we ate /lunch/dinner at Captain George's all you can eat seafood buffet.  It was a Sunday and the price was lower, but bring your appetite because if you don't overeat you can't possibly get your monies worth. We managed to meet up with some Power Squadron friends.  We went to see Barry's boat and ate lunch at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club with Barry and Greg Shay.  Barbara Wilder wasn't up to coming and Connie stayed with her.  Sadly, this would be Barbara's last trip to Myrtle Beach and in two weeks we were at her service.  She was a beautiful lady and we are very sad for her family at their loss.

We also went to the Myrtle Beach Aquarium on New Year's day which was a great indoor activity.  Very nicely laid out and fun.

There were other things to do such as the Believe it or Not Museum, shopping, movies, other attractions one could do and probably a museum or two. 

We would definitely like to come back to this KOA and Myrtle Beach again.  If the weather wasn't unseasonably cold we could do more hiking and exploring the parks also. 

Notes:
  • We stayed in campsite 121.
  • Bathrooms were clean.
  • The location of the campground was good.
  • Great dog park with playground equipment.
  • cabins and lodges of different sizes.