2014  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
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   BOOKENDS FROM KINGS BAY, GA   
+ A YEAR-END REVIEW & STATS

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31

 
"The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps more dependent on the mindset   
with which we travel than on the destination we travel to."
 
~ Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel
 
 
We started 2014 camped at Eagle Hammock RV Park at Kings Bay Submarine Base in coastal Georgia and we're ending it there, too.

You can't get much closer to the Florida border than Kings Bay. It served as "bookends" for this year's travels up and down the east coast, reaching as far north as Nova Scotia, Canada and back down again. 


Entrance to Strategic Weapons Facility buildings; Kings Bay has several
Trident nuclear subs but we aren't allowed on that part of the base.  (12-10-14)

This is our fourth time in the last three winters to hang out at Kings Bay. I've written about it previously and showed photos of the campground, numerous ponds and lakes, and wildlife (alligators, shore birds, geese, bald eagles, turtles, armadillos, etc.).

Here are some more wildlife photos I took with the super-zoom Sony "bridge" camera I got before Thanksgiving:

 

 


I've recently spotted a bunch of large turtles on the banks of Lake D, near the campground. I can't believe
how close this turtle is to the alligator! There were several other turtles and alligators nearby.  (12-28-14)

There are a lot of miles of sandy trails, paved bike paths, and roads where we can ride our bikes and hike both on and off the base:

 

We don't fish but that's a popular pastime at the Lake D Recreation Area adjacent to our campground. This fishing pier is visible from our site:

One of my favorite places to go when we're in the area is Cumberland Island National Seashore. Jim and I took the ferry over to the island on a warm, sunny day earlier this month and hiked about five miles through the maritime forest, over the marshes, and along the beach:

 


Over 140 wild horses roam the island.

 

We'll be at Kings Bay until sometime in February or March. We're parked in the lakeside section again:


Eagle Hammock RV Park, Kings Bay, GA  (11-26-14)

This is the first time since retiring almost eleven years ago and traveling in our RV three-fourths to full time that we haven't been somewhere out West at any time between one January 1st to December 31st.

By the time we get west of the Mississippi River in the spring, it will have been about 18 months since we've had our Rocky Mountain fix.

When we had our house in Virginia we routinely spent the summer in the cool Rocky Mountains somewhere between New Mexico and Alaska, and the winter in warm Southwest desert locations or southern Texas.


Timberline Lake, high in the Collegiate Range near Leadville, CO   (7-7-13)

We'd go back to the house to check on it for a few weeks in the spring and fall, then leave again for four to five months.

That got pretty old -- lots of driving -- so we spent the last three winters in coastal southern Georgia and northern Florida and only drove out West for our summer trips in 2012 and 2013.

Now that we no longer own a house in Virginia, we are free to stay out West all year if we want. But this summer we decided to mix it up a bit and travel through the northeastern U.S. and Canada for a change.

LIKE A ROLLING STONE

The first six months of the year were focused on selling our house. You can read all about it in the first two 2014 entries dated February 18 and June 26.

In summary, we've wanted to be house-free since about the time the housing market crashed in 2008. That timing was lousy for home sellers. We waited all this time to sell our property until the market recovered sufficiently in our rural area near Roanoke, VA so we could retain as much of our equity as possible.


Big house, little house   (5-5-13)

We got an acceptable offer rather quickly after making some improvements on our house, staging it nicely, and marketing it with an agent who understands the value of having professional photos taken of the houses she has listed. The visual home tour on the internet literally sold our house.

We closed the deal on June 26 and took off, free to travel wherever we want to go in North America.

For the last six or seven years I've been saying, "Home is where our camper is." Now when folks joke and say we're homeless, we smile and say, "No, we're just house-free" -- for a while, at least.

I think some of them envy our freedom to roam around in our rolling residence!

TREKKING TO NEW ENGLAND

Before the ink was dry on the closing papers we were already in metro Washington, DC, where we stayed at the FamCamp on Andrews Air Force Base for a couple of weeks:

We never saw the president playing golf on the course that surrounded our campground but heard he was there at least once during our stay. We could always tell when he was flying into or out of DC on Air Force One because of the large contingent of helicopters escorting his plane.

Andrews AFB was a good home base while we were in DC. We could easily access the Metra subway system to go downtown to The Mall to see the Capitol Building, various national monuments, and Smithsonian museums.


U.S. Capitol Building on 7-5-14; when we returned for a second tour in October,
 the dome was being repaired and had scaffolding all over it.

We've both been to DC previously but this time we did a few things that were new to us. One day we got a personal tour of the Capitol with a staff member from our House of Representative's office.

We also visited Mt. Vernon for the first time, once by car and once by cycling there on a nice bike path along the Potomac River.


Interesting rooflines, arches, and other architectural details
of George Washington's Mt. Vernon home   (7-7-14)

We aren't fond of large metro areas, however, so we soon escaped for quieter and more scenic areas to the north.

We made several short stops on our way to northern New England, staying at Promised Land State Park in the Pocono Mountains of PA and stopping long enough in CT, MA, and VT to revisit some sections of the Appalachian Trail in the Berkshire and Green mountains.

One of my favorite sections of the AT was Sages Ravine near the CT-MA state line, so I took
Jim and Casey with me on a 6-mile hike to see part of the ravine (above, left). The Trail from the
north to the summit of Bear Mountain (below) was more gnarly than I remembered.   (7-17-14)

 


Jim much prefers cycling to hiking on rough trails; here we're riding on the paved
Ashuwillticook Rail Trail along a large lake in northern Massachusetts.  (7-20-14)

We spent more time in the northern White Mountains in NH and ME. That's where we found the solitude and beauty we were seeking.

Twin Mountain RV Park was our base for two weeks in late July and early August. We took several very scenic road trips through the Whites.


View of The Twins from Twin Mountain RV Park; each site is
situated so occupants of the RVs can see the mountains.  (7-24-14)

I hiked some familiar sections of the Appalachian Trail that I loved when we did the AT Adventure Run in 2005, including an ascent of Mt. Washington (elev.6,288 feet), and hiked some other gnarly but gorgeous trails that were new to me.


Lake of the Clouds Hut (foreground) and Mt. Washington summit (right background)  (7-25-14)


Very cool (literally and figuratively) Flume Trail at Franconia Notch  (7-26-14)


On August 1 we celebrated Jim's birthday by hiking, kayaking, and picnicking on the Maine side
of the White Mountains with friends. Here Cody goes out to meet Jim as he returns to shore.  (8-1-14)

Jim also enjoyed riding the bike paths and country roads he found in the area.

Continued on the next page:  a month in the Canadian Maritime provinces and the colorful autumn journey all the way back south to Kings Bay

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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