East Loop – Fall 2020 – Part 1

It’s been a while since we last went on an extended RV trip! We are setting out for 41 days on the road, covering a large part of the eastern United States. We will first head northeast to St. Louis, then to Columbus, OH, and then through Cincinnati to Pigeon Forge, TN. We will then drive through the Smoky Mountains to the Atlantic coast of South Carolina. Next, we will head south to Saint Augustine, followed by Orlando for a few weeks. Then we will make our way home by mid December. Sadly, we will miss Thanksgiving with our families for the first time.

This RV trip will include some tent camping in our new Roofnest rooftop tent! Dad and I installed it as soon as it arrived. This thing is amazing and I can’t wait for us to try it out!

Another addition to the Jeep is a ARB fridge/freezer and larger solar panel.
Loading up!

Day 1

Today was my birthday! What a strange one! We drove to St. Louis, and were totally exhausted from all of the prep work to leave home for this long trip followed by 6 hours of driving. We decided to just take it easy and order IMO’s Pizza, along with some awesome root beer I got for my birthday…yumm!!!!

Day 2

Last night I got to talk to the guy who owns this cool Mitsubishi Fuso 4×4 RV. He has taken it clear down to the tip of South America! That would be awesome to do someday.
Here’s a photo of the 370 Lakeside RV Park we stayed at in St. Peter’s, which has become the standard place we stay when we visit St. Louis.

Today we hit a couple of places for the kids. Tripp had saved his money up for a new skateboard. Notice Avin’s cool 3D glasses – they came with a Toy Story Mania Wii game he bought at a game store.

Awesome board! Love those colors!

We ate at the Old Spaghetti Factory, of course!! 🙂

Fighting over the pistachio ice cream in our Spumoni! Never enough pistachio!

Tripp tried out his new skateboard as soon as he could!

Avin has been loving playing an old Wii console! I bought the balance board like we used to have. Fun stuff!

Day 3

Today started off with a sewer pipe disaster, almost like the one in the Robin Williams movie “RV”. We’ll just leave it at that… We then drove to Columbus, OH (technically, Powell) to see our friends, the Smiths! We stayed at the Cross Creek Camping Resort. Nice little place. As soon as we got the RV parked and hooked up to shore power, we headed to the Smiths! It was late when we got there, but fun to hang out for a while. The kids spent the night there, which they loved!

Day 4

Carla and I went to Duck’s Donuts this morning and WOW! Amazing donuts!! They are made to order however you like them. They are hot and fresh and covered in the glaze and topping of your choice. Unbelievable!

We then hung out with the Smiths for the day. The kids have been having a blast getting to spend the whole weekend with their friends (and us too!). We went by a skatepark in Powell for a while.

Trying to perfect a trick he made up! pretty cool!
The kids are like….wait, what’s Kevin doing in a board?! He impressed us all by cruising down a hill around the whole skatepark!
Hanging out!

We headed to downtown Columbus to see the German village. It wasn’t what we expected, but still neat to see Columbus. Also fun to have Kevin drive us the wrong way (AKA the more exciting way) down a one way street! Ha! That was a fun U-turn!

Buildings were boarded up to prepare for riots from the election. We could hear some horns honking a lot a few blocks away, which we think were people cheering for Biden (Booo!!).

We ended the day with dinner at Local Roots, an awesome restaurant in Powell. Incredible burger!!! By the way, Powell is a really neat town!

Really good bruschetta!

Day 5

I started off the morning by unloading lots of heavy items from the Jeep, which I recently realized is 1,000 lbs over its legal weight! It drives like it, too! A more stout vehicle my be in my future, as this beast is a little dangerous to drive when fully loaded. It sways like crazy and is hard to stop quickly (and slow to accelerate).

We then headed to the Smiths for an awesome breakfast! After that, Kevin and I took the boys hiking at Highbanks Metro Park. while the women went shopping.

Rock skipping time!
Recreating a photo from my childhood…throwing rocks behind them into the River.

We played pool and video games at the Smith’s and ordered dinner from BJ’s. What a fun day!

It was sad to say goodbye, but we’ll be back again one day (like Frosty!).

Day 6

We drove to Cincinnati today, and stayed at the Indian Springs Camping Resort in North Bend. Nice RV park. We immediately headed to the Creation Museum!

Tripp ended the day practicing skateboard tricks while I cleaned out the Jeep (I spilled a large cup of Sweet tea all over….makes the second time that’s happened in the past month or so!)

Day 7

“On the seventh day,” we did not rest. Instead, we drove south about 40 minutes to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky! Our GPS took us to the service entrance, where we had to disconnect the jeep and do a U-turn so we could drive to the visitor entrance. Oh well, no big deal.

Nice huge parking lot to park the RV in once we got there.

Really amazing! So huge!! It was quite something to just stand there in awe of the ark, thinking one just like it held the only eight people on earth God saved from the flood, and that every human on the earth after the flood came from this family. Our great great great great (insert lots more greats) grandparents built a pretty amazing ship!

Look how small the kids look!
We had an incredible funnel cake to celebrate the flood being over! 🙂

We then drove a couple hours south to Renfro Valley KOA. On our way, one of the overhead fans decided to completely come detached from the ceiling! How could three screws possibly all fall out around the same time? It was really quite bizarre. We pulled over and reattached it to the ceiling.

Within a couple of minutes of taking that video, it broke loose!
We had to drive up an insanely steep o e way road to get to the campground. What’s worse is that the exit road that leads to the highway is also very steep and we are worried we are going to drag bottom tomorrow on our way out. We are going to leave the jeep disconnected and try to approach the highway at an angle. I really hope we don’t damage anything !

We made a trip to the local IGA grocery store to pick up some groceries. It was nice to have an early evening with not much to do. Tomorrow we head to Pigeon Forge.

Day 8

We woke up to dreary rain…

We made it out of the RV campground without dragging bottom, which was very surprising! We connected the jeep to the RV when we got to a gas station a few miles down the highway. Carla then drove us in really soggy weather for 2 1/2 hours to Jellystone RV Park Pigeon Forge, TN.

Maybe that’s why they call them the Smoky Mountains, but we are still 1-2 hours from Smoky Mountain National Park. Lots of fog and rain! On our way, a window started leaking water by the passenger seat. Paper towels to the rescue!

When we got to Pigeon Forge, we noticed that it is REALLY similar to Branson! Some of the exact same attractions are here along a busy strip of road.

The rain let up a little bit right when we needed to park the RV at the campground, which was nice. It immediately started raining again when I was just about finished connecting the power supply. The word of the day is WET! The rain should be out of here by tomorrow morning, so that will be nice!

Day 9

We spent my lunch break riding a mountain coaster!

That evening we went to Pigeon Forge Snow, where you ride an inner tube down an icy slope! Holy cow – really intense!!

We then went to Christmas Place, which was neat, but Avin wasn’t feeling well so we headed back to the RV.

Day 10

We headed through the Smoky Mountains to Camp Lake Jasper in Hardeeville, SC. The mountains were pretty!

So this is funny. I didn’t realize it until the next morning that we had stayed at Camp Lake Jasper last year on our trip to the northeast! We have stayed at a lot of RV parks over the years, but we’ve never forgotten that we stayed at one!

We got setup and headed to Walmart to get food for our tent camping part of the trip that starts tomorrow! We went for our house to our RV, and about to stay in a tent. It’s like a Russian doll set of shelters. where each one gets smaller than the last!

Getting camping containers ready to go.

Day 11

About to head to Hunting Island, and leaving the RV here for a couple of nights.
Poor Jeep is screaming for mercy!
These are the front springs…which look normal.
These are the rear springs, almost completely compressed! 1000 lbs over the payload, and it drives terribly (not safe either)! Definitely going to have to change vehicles at some point if we plan to keep camping.
Lily loves to look out the window!
One last grocery pit stop! We did make one more stop at a Dollar General, where we are pretty sure we saw a pirate. Ask us about that…
The entrance to the campground is so lush! It’s like driving through a jungle!
We stayed in site #21, which is a great spot! Right next to the walkway to the beach!
First time to use the new tent!
I love the Apple measure app that has a level feature, so I can make sure the Jeep (and tent) are level before setting up camp.
Everyone loves the new tent!
Got the solar panel charging the battery that runs the fridge. Works great!
I love that we can keep an eye on the fridge temperature via Bluetooth!
Tripp hurt his foot jumping off a stump, so got the hammock setup for him to hang out in.
Got him a cool hiking stick at the park store since stupid me left our hiking sticks at the RV, thinking we wouldn’t need them.
The walk through the campground is pretty! Love the palm trees!
Ahhh, this is nice!!
To the beach! You can see our Jeep in the background – so close!
So pretty, and hardly anyone around!
Been writing this in the sand at every beach I’ve been to for the past 18 years!

As it got dark, misquotes came in hoards and bit us like crazy!! We had sprayed on some bug spray that is supposed to be better for your skin, with no deet. The misquotes just laughed at it. We walked down to the park store and got the real Deep Woods Off that has deet in it, and that stuffs worked great!

The kids couldn’t wait to cook hotdogs over a fire!
The tent annex room is really cool!

The sky was SO dark, and we could see so many stars! We saw four meteors! Carla and I setup our camp chairs out near the sand dune and just stared at the night sky. Later, Orion (my favorite constellation) came up right over the ocean – so pretty! I could see the glow of the Orion Nebula with my naked eye. I brought my binoculars and it looked awesome!

Happy kiddo loves camping! He even told us that he hasn’t even wanted to play screens since we got here. Music to our ears!
Love this setup! There’s a Jeep in there somewhere!
We played Catan in the tent! We somehow left the numbered circle pieces at the RV, so Carla cut out little pieces of paper and wrote the numbers and dots on each one. Love it!

Sooo….it was warm tonight in the tent. It was 69 outside when we went to bed, but no wind and the annex prevents us from opening up the ceiling vent. The fan Mom and Dad got me for my birthday is AWESOME, and I want another one so we don’t all have to take turns aiming it at us. 🙂 Tomorrow night it will be 10 degrees cooler so probably not as bad.

It’s 1:48am as I write this (shouldn’t have had that Pepsi before bed…), and there were some animals roaming around earlier. Some screeching noises too. It’s sooo nice to be up off the ground in a level tent! Time to try to get to sleep!

Day 12

We slept ok last night, but I think tonight will be easier since it will be cooler and we’ll know how to arrange our sleeping bags.

We woke up before sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. Neat view from the tent (bad photo).

We made breakfast in the Coleman stove, which is one of the best parts of camping!

Played the game of moving the solar panel around to stay in the sunshine. It really did great!
Around 100W of free energy! The battery did great keeping the fridge running and charging phones. It would have kept up indefinitely!
Kiddos waking up!
Yummy pancakes!
Hot cocoa to warm up!
Time for some nerf gun action!
Love this camp site! So neat to be out here!
Off to the beach! We hiked to a lighthouse not too far away.
Lots of cool seashells on this beach!
Neat how blue this crab is!
We made it! We couldn’t go inside since all the available spots were reserved, but still cool to see it up close!
We saw massive horseshoe crabs all over the beach, most of them still intact. Odd there were absolutely no seagulls or other birds anywhere in sight, which would normally eat any and everything that washes up on the shore.
Crazy how much this one looked like an actual mask from Star Wars or something!
Winding down with a fire for the evening.
We went down to the beach to return a shell Tripp had collected earlier that we found still had a hermit crab inside of it.
Beautiful night! We had more mosquitos again tonight, but thankfully they weren’t as bad as last night.
We tried jiffy pop over the fire, but I did something wrong and ended up burning some of the popcorn. It was entertaining, though!
We made massive s’mores!
We ended the night with a game of Phase 10!

We got to sleep a lot better with the cooler temperature.

Day 13

We slept better last night, but it got pretty cool outside (mid 40s) and stupid me didn’t think we would need our propane heater to be setup when we went to bed. I didn’t want to mess with setting it up at 4am, possibly waking up other campers. Next time I will be sure to just set it up in case we need it.

What a view to wake up to! Palm trees and the sound of the ocean!

We packed up and headed back to the RV in Hardeeville. We hooked up the Jeep and headed to Compass RV Resort in St. Augustine, FL.

Yep, we’re in Florida!
We ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Cantina Louie.

One thought on “East Loop – Fall 2020 – Part 1

  1. Great new blog going! Looks like a perfect start to another fun trip. Can’t wait to see the next leg of your journey. Have fun……be safe……..and hurry home. Love you guys!
    Mom and Dad

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