Thursday, March 10, 2011

Williamsburg, Va.

We arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia yesterday after a three and half hour drive from Medoc Mountain State Park. We are staying in Anvil Campground near Colonial Williamsburg.

This is entering the campground.

Office and store looking back.

The family home is across from the office.

The founder was a blacksmith and made the original wrought iron work for Colonial Williamsburg from 1929 to 1935. This part of the office complex was his blacksmith shop.

He also owned a motel on the main highway thru town (directly behind the campground just across the railroad track).

People were constantly asking at the motel, "where can we put up a tent for the night?"

So he let them camp beside his blacksmith shop. These tent sights today are the same place they were back then.

Our campsite is across from the tent sites.

We chose Anvil Campground because the city bus stops at the campground and we can even transfer to another bus that will take us to Jamestown and Yorktown. We rode the bus around to get a feel of the three different routes and were planning to start seeing the sites today.

Mother nature had other plans as it rained off and on all day so we just shifted gears and did the mondane chores of everyday life like shopping, banking, and doing laundry.

Since we have no schedule we can just wait out the rain and not worry about it. Fulltiming is great because we can stay as long as we need to explore and then we can hit the road for more adventure.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A bateau ( also spelled batteau and batteaux for plural ) was a flat bottomed shallow draft boat pointed at both ends used to transport goods along the rivers in the late 1700's and into the 1800's. They were propelled by using long poles
over the side reaching the bottom.

This system worked great and these batteaux could carry 5 to 8 tons. They came in all sizes but generally about 8 feet wide and 60 feet long for the larger ones and a cross between a canoe (easily navigational) and a raft (great carry capacity).

Being pointed at both ends, they didn't have to be turned around exposing the long sides to the rivers current. They could "poled" up river by keeping to the side of the river with less current.

Rapids posed two problems, going down stream the boats could become uncontrollable and damage the cargo, and going upstream over the rapids was sometimes impossible.

The Roanoke river had such rapids located in city of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina (go figure) and to alleviate the problem the Roanoke Canal was began in 1819 and built using mostly slave labor. The canal diverted water thru locks ( same as today but on a much smaller scale) to raise and lower the boats over the rapids.

The canal was 8.5 miles long and was in operation until 1875.

One of the locks survived and now has a museum to preserve its history. As you can see in the photo (click it to enlarge), the lock could be filled or emptied in less than 5 minutes and operated by one man when the water levels stabilized.

They have a bateau in the bottom of the lock. There was two locks at this location that raised or lower a boat a total of 38 feet.

A power plant was later constructed to make use of this abandoned lock.

I find this stuff very fascinating as I can relate to the technology used.

Medoc Mountain State Park

We spent a couple quite nights in this state park just south of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Electricity only, and we needed it to run our electric heaters (rv furnaces run on propane and 12 volt but they are very noisy) as we had a frost last night.
We are heading north a little sooner and faster than I would like but we have sights to see and miles to travel before we have to be back in Arkansas for a few weeks in April or May.
I have filed an extension on my taxes and we have to be back in May for a graduation. I would prefer to be back in time to file by April 15th as filing later is just another excuse for an audit.

Monday, March 07, 2011


"Boondocking", does not always mean you are out in the boonies. The rv term generally means you are camping without hookups, etc., electric, water, and sewer.

You may recall I added 4 six volt golf cart batteries, an inverter, battery monitor, battery charger, and generator to our standard rv equipment so we could "boondock" when we want to.

The last two nights we have stayed on two different Wal-Mart parking lots. Don't laugh, when it gets dark and you close the shades you really don't know you are in a parking lot, except for the traffic and night lights.

We pay nothing in parking fees but it is not totally free. Our little upright freezer runs off the inverter when we are traveling (or any time we are not hooked to 115 volts power). The inverter pulls power from the 4 six volt golf cart batteries.

When we stop with no hookups, we can watch satellite tv with the inverter also. Depleting the batteries means they have to be recharged. We can get by about one day and one night before the batteries need charging.

If we stayed in a campground with electricity every other night we would be just fine. When staying two nights without electricity we just run the generator.

Our inverter is not large enough to run our coffee pot, so I crank the generator in the morning to make coffee and at the same time it powers the battery charger to recharge the amps we have pulled out of our batteries.

Sounds simple enough but we are power hogs with our 32inch LCD tv, satellite, freezer and lights in the camper. Then we are using everything at night we are pulling about 25 amps out of the batteries.

I have 450 amps in the batteries but only have 225 usable amps because one should not regularly use more than 50% of the battery capacity if one wants the batteries to last. I prefer to use even less when possible.

After running the freezer all day the batteries have about 85% remaining and if we watch tv for three hours, the batteries are about 71% by next morning (remember the freezer is running 24 hours a day).

I found it best to run the generator at least an hour of our tv watching (remember with the generator running everything is on 115 volt power and the batteries are also being charged as opposed to being discharged). Running the generator for one hour while watching tv will have the batteries at the same state of charge (charging batteries as opposed to discharging the batteries) as watching tv and then running the generator for two hours.

Again if only off grid for one night before hooking to electricity, no use of the generator is needed as the battery charger is working when we are hooked to electricity.

When we swing back thu Arkansas in May, I plan to add solar panels to cut the use of the generator to a bare minimal.

There is no "free lunch" because our rv refriguator uses propane when we are not hooked to electricity or running the generator.

We used Wal-Mart parking to lower our over all monthly camping expenses, to test our equipment, and to save time.

Campgrounds are seldom close to the road and just driving 10 miles out of the way to camp overnight adds 2 hours when you consider the driving time and hooking and unhooking. Add in the added fuel costs and camping fees and it can amount to $20 to $50 dollars plus 2 lost hours. All for just a few hours sleep.

We can boondock about 4 days using our normal amount of water ( we carry 41 gallons of fresh water) and about a week if we really conserve. Should we need the air-conditioning, then we whould have to run the generator. At that point we might as well stay in a campground if one is nearby, if not, at least we still have the option of supplying our own electricity via our generator.

We are leaving Wilson, North Carolina heading north and plan to stay at Medoc Mountain State Park for 2 days. Most state parks are out in the boonies so we may not have internet via our our card or cell phone service. Out in the woods away from most everyone ( at least this time of year) and DARK at night. Hey, someone has to do it.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Charlestown, SC

I took my camera when we went to Charleston but then I put it my coat and then left the coat in the truck as we took the city trolley around the Market Street District as there was no way I would try to get our 3/4 ton Dodge in the little pay parking lots.

Several blocks around and including Market Street was crawling with people and just one large tourist attraction. Guess it's just a younger persons thing.

Had we done a little research we could have used the bus and trolley service more to our advantage.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Walterboro, SC

We moved north to Walterboro, South Carolina for a couple of days and plan to head over to see Charleston, SC tomorrow.

Walterboro's main claim to fame in the 20th century was that it supplied advanced flight training to about 500 Tuskegee Airmen and housed over 250 German POW's.

Tensions flared because the POW's had more privileges than the black pilots. Nice county museum with a whole floor dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen.

Small town America holds its share of stories and Walterboro is no exception. Glad we stopped here for a couple of days.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Jekyll Island, Ga.

We have moved to Kingsland, Ga. for a few days and today we went to Jekyll Island. The island is about seven miles long and a mile and a half wide. It is now a state park and accessed by a causeway and bridge.

William Horton arrived on Jekyll Island in 1736 and started a farm.

This is the remains of his house,

the house used tabby construction.

The state of George has made a wonderful state park of the island,

we walked the boardwalk out to the beach,

the wind was strong causing the Atlantic to white cap.

Jekyll Island Club

The Jekyll Island Club was formed in December of 1885 by selling 100 shares to 50 individuals for $600 a share to start an exclusive hunting club for the very wealthy.

The large club house opened in 1888 and soon the wealthy elite starting building winter homes on the island.

The Morgans, Pulitzers, and Vanderbuilts all has winter homes on the island,

This is the winter home built in 1891 for Gordon McKay and sold in 1905 to William Rockefeller the younger brother and partner in Standard Oil.

The rear view shows its three stories and twenty five rooms. His wife's bathtub had four faucets, hot and cold regular water and hot and cold salt water from the Atlantic to help with her arthritis.

When the club members all invade the island during the winter season one fourth of the worlds wealth was on the little island.

The first transcontinental phone call by Theodore N. Vail, president of AT&T, to Alexander Bell was made from the Jekyll Island Club.

In November 1910 on Jekyll Island the draft for what is now The Federal Reserve was written.

The rich loved the privacy they enjoyed on the island as the only way to reach it was by boat and they had armed guards on horseback patrolling the beach.

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