Westmoreland State Park VA

Just this morning I received a call from the VA State Volunteer coordinator and she was trying to find a campground host for Westmoreland State Park.   The beauty of an RV lifestyle is being able to change plans on short notice.  Thankfully, I had not yet paid my FL space for June, so I gave notice and started packing up.  I will be hosting just down the road from Washington, D.C. my old stomping grounds.  I am very excited about this opportunity.  Especially, since there is no bathroom cleaning involved.

On the Potomac River’s Northern Neck, Westmoreland is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has an Olympic-sized swimming pool and an adjacent bathhouse, meeting area, snack bar, camp store and power-boat ramp. You’ll also find a visitor center, campgrounds, camping cabins, cabins, a playground, a fishing pier, boat rentals and 6 miles of trails. Fossil collectors enjoy hunting for ancient shark teeth along the Potomac. Offshore breakwaters are great for fishing. Birding enthusiasts find the park an excellent site for spotting American bald eagles, ospreys, kingfishers, great blue herons, common terns, green herons and gulls, as well as wintering waterfowl. Its waterfront location provides docking space at a boathouse. Murphy Hall, atop Horse Head Cliffs, offers a superb view of the Potomac River. 

I suspect the swimming pool may not be open due to COVID-19, but here’s hoping.  Come visit.

https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/westmoreland?fbclid=IwAR1RNQx4CIFiyR8VDNkNML6kylQibRM-3-OlP2AZZ20HcLOAGz55-cf3Xqk

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Tropical Storms

Wake me up from this bad dream!  I am experiencing wild and crazy dreams, more than usual.  But nothing in my dreams ever envisioned a worldwide pandemic.  

I am still enjoying my extended stay at Jensen Beach, FL, and will be here until the end of June.  Two months longer than originally planned.  If you must be socially distance and quarantined Hutchinson Island ain’t to bad.  Ocean access even when public beaches are closed, and Michelle and Duane’s pool for afternoon swims.

Recently the Wall Street Journal reported that RV rentals and sales are through the roof.  In the days of the virus, who wants to fly commercial or stay in hotels?  Check out Outdoorsy, an Air B&B for campers near you!

As I wrote earlier my summer travel plans collapsed due to the virus. I was so looking forward to seeing OH, MI, WI, and ME friends and family.   After canceling best-laid plans and numerous campground reservations, I embarked on becoming a campground host.

Campground Hosts volunteer to augment the park staff, helping clean up campsites, greeting campers, selling firewood, and monitoring campers’ compliance with rules.  Keeping dogs on their leash (did you watch the YouTube video of Central Park, yikes), no loud parties during quiet hours, and in some assignments cleaning the bathhouses. You might recall my earlier career as a fleet service worker for Alaska Airlines, cleaning the biffy!  I always felt great comradery with the janitors I served while working for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  So cleaning toilets and showers for free camping seems like a fair exchange.  I have had 28 different jobs in my lifetime, and in my experience, you can do just about anything for a short time.  Although I have always had someone else clean my homes, since the day I was able to afford it.

But I digress.  I will be spending summer and fall in North Carolina working as a campground host at three different state parks.  I hope to be able to regale you, readers with some funny stories.  I hope they will all be funny.  All within driving distance of Chapel Hill and Cary where family lives.

Beginning July 1, I will be at the Cliffs of the Neuse State ParkNamed for the impressive cliffs overlooking the Neuse River, has been a landmark for centuries. Five hiking trails explore the riverside habitats and their mature forests and lead to some quiet fishing spots along the waterway. A favorite facility for the local communities is an 11-acre swimming lake with a bathhouse, grass-covered lawn, sandy beach and diving platform with rental boats available. Expansive picnic grounds are nearby. The park has group campsites, a 32-site family campground, and 3 reservable cabins. A visitor center offers museum-quality exhibits that explore the natural and cultural history of the region, complementing regular interpretive programs.

August 1, I will move to Kerr Lake, pronounced ‘CAR’.  A collective of seven access areas scattered around the shoreline of this 50,000-acre reservoir that reaches into Virginia. Hundreds of campsites among five of the access areas offer a range of outdoor experience from RV hookups to group camps. Swimming, boating ramps and two private marinas serve boaters and the lake is renowned for excellent fishing.

September, October and November I will be at James Lake, a great time place to enjoy fall colors.  According to the NC State Park website, James Lake is best for my hiking friends, Jamie?  I will be the host at Catawba River Area that has 20 walk-in campsites, but I will have full hook-ups!

Lake James State Park offers boating, swimming and fishing in the beautiful, clear waters of the 6,812-acre lake, there are 25 miles of trails, 15 of which are open to mountain biking. Trails vary from the short, educational Holly Discovery Trail with child-friendly activities, to the more adventurous, historic section of the Overmountain Victory Trail. There are three campgrounds. The Catawba River Area has 20 walk-in campsites, many of which offer lake views. The Paddy’s Creek Area has 33 drive-to, family-friendly campsites. The remote boat-in campground on the Long Arm Peninsula offers a true outdoor adventure for those willing to paddle or steer their canoes, kayaks or powerboats to their own slice of heaven. Boat ramps at Hidden Cove and Canal Bridge on NC 126 are located between the park’s two day-use areas. And, canoe, kayak and paddleboard rentals are available at the Paddy’s Creek Area from May through September.

So to my camping, hiking and RV friends – you know who you are!  I hope to see you this summer or fall in North Carolina!  To make reservations for your visit log onto ReserveAmerica.com.

AND Yes, there are golf courses nearby.

Please subscribe to my blog at Road2Reinvention.net on the right side under Maggie’s picture, add your email address.

TWO TIRES vs. FOUR WALLS

I am not ready to live within four walls, and trade in my two tires.

After consideration of sister Becky’s generous offer of an empty 3 bedroom 2 bath house in Raleigh, I have decided to stay in my 20′ of living space and the outdoors.  Living in an unfurnished house, after just getting rid of the last of my housewares and 5×5 storage space — I just couldn’t do it, virus or no virus.

Fortunately, Becky was able to quickly rent the property and I have started to explore becoming a campground host.  In August I will be at Kerr Lake (pronounced ‘car’).  Kerr Lake State Recreation Area is a North Carolina state park on Virginia’s southern border. Located near Henderson, NC, the park includes 3,376 acres of woodlands along the shores of the 50,000-acre man-made Kerr Lake reservoir.  Hundreds of campsites among five of the access areas offer a range of outdoor experiences from RV hookups to group camps, and several swim beaches, according to the webpage.

Public campgrounds often have campground host positions.  Hosts serve as off-duty hour monitor when park staff isn’t working, greeting campers, some light maintenance such as trash collection, raking campsites for arriving campers and this summer monitoring social distancing.  For the month of service, I will have a full hook-up campsite (water, electric, and sewer) FREE.  At $30 per night, and a limit of 14 nights, for campers, a campground host can stay the full month at a savings of $930.

I am looking for other host positions in NC, South Carolina and Virginia for July, September, October and November.   It isn’t the trip I had planned for the 2020 summer, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, but it will allow me to continue my Road2Reinvention lifestyle and not have to worry about park closures.  That is of course if parks stay open and campers are responsible for social distancing and wearing masks.  Who knows what the future will be, but for now this is my plan for our new normal.

For those of you who enjoy camping, I hope you will consider coming to a campground where I am hosting this summer.  I’ll keep you posted on other assignments.  But for now, I am in Florida through June and will head north in July.

Please subscribe to this blog by adding your email address on the right side of the page below Maggie’s picture. Stay tuned.

A DRIFT IN FLORIDA

I am not ready to leave the beach, and my friend Michelle and Duane’s pool.  So I have extended my stay until June 1, before heading north.  If I needed a sign I made the correct decision, yesterday as Maggie and I walked onto the beach for our evening walk, what did I find?

A sea bean! 

To be exact: Thick-Banded Hamburger Bean.  Yes, they look like little hamburgers, but they are seeds!  They have traveled long distances from  Jamaica, or even as far away as the Amazon River.  Falling into a freshwater river traveling downstream into the ocean, only to land thousands of miles away on a south Florida beach.  The bean is a bit larger than a quarter.

“Mucuna fawcettii, was named by Ignatius Urban in 1908, from specimens found in Jamaica. Presently, it is a bit of a dilemma to those interested in drift seeds. The problem: This species has been described as being endemic to Jamaica… i.e., it grows ONLY in Jamaica. Additionally, there are statements that it is probably extinct from Jamaica (see: Perry & Dennis, 2003:179)… i.e., it probably doesn’t grow there…IF it no longer exists at the ONLY place that it grew, then why do we keep finding these seeds washed ashore?”

I will never know where my little sea bean came from, but I was so very excited to find it, these are very rare.  Could it be a sign?  Also, I shot an 89 golf score on Sunday.  A good sign of things to come?

Regardless, I am staying put on the Treasure Coast of Florida until June 1, enjoying Michelle and Duane’s pool, daily beach walks, finding shells and seeds, and improving my golf score.

Stay healthy everyone!

WHAT TO DO IN THE DAYS OF COVID-19?

If you have never seen the 1959 movie On the Beach, this is probably not the time to watch it.  After a global nuclear war, an American submarine surfaces and heads to Australia where the cloud of radiation circling the globe has not yet arrived.  Australians must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months.  Based on the book by Neville Shute, an English novelist and aeronautical engineer he also wrote A Town Like Alice.  I have always loved the movie because it starred Gregory Peck as the submarine captain, with Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire (plays a serious scientist, not a dancer), and Tony Perkins (without the knife).

An unforgettable scene shows the streets of San Francisco deserted.  Last night the PBS News Hour showed deserted streets in Paris, Rome, Venice, and Time Square reminding me of One the Beach.  Peck and Gardner have great on-screen chemistry because they had a true-life steamy affair while filming the movie in Australia.    

I have grown up in the era of fearing nuclear war practicing “duck and cover” under my elementary school desk.  Since 9/11 we are bombarded by news reports on terrorism and possible dirty bombs – “If you see something say something”.  But, I have refused to live in fear.  I continued riding the Metro daily or city buses to get to my job in downtown Washington, D.C.  Remember the news article that a 40 something single woman was more likely to be killed by terrorists than get married?  I do.

Sure there are movies about plages and pandemics, but we didn’t really pay attention.  Did we?  Radiation and viruses don’t explode or make for great special effects of visual mayhem and destruction.  The vacant streets of our cities today prove it is the things we can’t see we should fear.  Billions of dollars spent on the military-industrial complex, and it is a natural unseen virus that has brought us to a stand-still.  Don’t mess with Mother Nature.

How can I put into words my feelings, what we all are experiencing, and dreading?  It was just a few months ago I was hanging with Michelle and Duane; and, sister Kerry and I were enjoying the beach together and planning trips.  We were all living our lives looking forward to summer plans, travel, graduations, vacations, weddings, public parks, and swimming pools.  Now we are anticipating funerals we may not be able to attend.

Yes, I am depressed!  Aren’t we all? 

Mom and Erv are locked down at Carolina Meadows retirement community.  So far so good, except we cannot visit.  My summer plans to travel to Ohio, Michigan, and Maine, gone.   I spent a week making reservations and now I am spending time canceling and in some cases losing $10-$20 cancellation fees.   Thankfully many campgrounds are giving full refunds because they too are closed.   I hoped for at least another five years on the road, maybe more.  Now, who Knows?  I really am NOT YET ready to give up my traveling lifestyle.  But what am I to do?

The Martin County Commission closed golf courses to non-residents last week.  I am not a resident, but I am a snowbird and have a lease for the Venture III community where I have been since December.  My favorite course has accepted my seasonal residence and allows me to play golf.  Otherwise, I would go nuts.  Golf courses are taking virus precautions, removing rakes from bunkers, singles in all carts, and turning the cup upside down so there is no need to pull the pin or touch surfaces.   Golf is a game of social distancing, I prefer not to talk when I play, and I am always single.

Becky to the rescue!  My eldest sister Becky has offered me one of her many rental properties, a house in Raleigh with a big lot where I can park Scout.  Seems like the practical thing to do is go there and camp-out until the quarantine is lifted and a vaccine is available.  It is ironic that I just got rid of the last of my housewares and now I might be living in an unfurnished house. 

I wish all of us good health.