The final week before one of our grand tours is always a bit intense. Lori is doing the deep clean of the house that we always say we’ll do for ourselves but only actually ever do for renters. I’m trying to finalize a thousand trip details and reservations, finish work projects, and find homes on board for our small mountain of gear. There are lists. There are piles everywhere. There are even, occasionally, terse words shared.
Some things are inevitably, inadvertently left behind. This year it was a bag of Costco nuts and my pants. Hence, we're lean on vegetarian protein sources and trousers. The latter could be an issue at my nephew’s wedding this summer, but we’ll cross that sartorial bridge when we come to it. Hopefully, I’m not a ring bearer or anything like that.
By leaving day (Saturday, April 1st), having no other recourse, we are shot like musket grapeshot, willy nilly, down the American highway. We kind of just throw everything in thinking, "we’ll sort it out down the road when we get time." The only issue is that the first three days are pure travel days and then we arrive in Savannah for three days with a full social calendar. So the badly needed tidy up of the trailer had to wait, the mission being too important.
This was what things looked like week 1 in the trailer. The table broke again. It seems to do this every year on our way south. Some freeways are as smooth as a potato field and Stanley hits those bumps and launches everything inside toward the ceiling, lacking shocks as he does. I couldn’t even reach the tools in my truck to fix the table, buried as they were, so it got wait-listed like everything else. But we were on the road. We tried to focus on the positives, like our first stops.
First night: the Cracker Barrel in Wilkes-Barre PA.
Second night: the Cracker Barrel in Roanoke VA.
Two of our favorites (but how do you choose, honestly?). Sticking to tradition, I tucked into the legendary Bacon ‘n Egg Hash Brown Casserole each morning.
I particularly appreciated it the second morning as we were seated next to a roaring fire with actual logs. Who does that anymore? Well, Cracker Barrel does.
People ask us, is it safe to spend the night someplace just off the freeway like that? I don't know, but there is always plenty of company with us, so it would seem so. But frankly, I would camp in a war zone for those hash browns.
Our third night was a Harvest Host blueberry & honey bee farm in Branchville, SC. Branchville, pop. 1024 was home to the world's first railroad junction in 1828. Not bad Branchville. Now it is also home to Black Pearl Farms where farmers Mike and Meg are home schooling three kids under age 5 while, and this is the part that I don't get, running a farm. We haven’t even cleaned up our trailer yet, and here they are raisin', schoolin', and farmin'. We bought a little honey from them and heard about all the excruciating small-farm government nonsense they have to deal with to better stack the deck for Big Ag. This is on top of running a farm. Hat's off Mike and Meg.
Whilst camped on the farm, we tried out the Starlink for the first true road test and, miraculously, it worked. It sent its digital laser beam to the orbiting Dr. Evil space station and then beamed back the NCAA finals to the comfort of my trailer, on a blueberry farm in Bumf*ck (I mean Branchville), SC where my mobile phone refused to even send a simple text. Hat's off to you too Elon.
If you haven’t seen my Ramble On Starlink Shakedown video you can find it here. I recommend it for those who are deeply curious about a mobile internet solution and for those with nearly incurable insomnia.
Savannah, GA was our first real destination if you don’t count Cracker Barrel, which I do. And the food is even better in Savannah. Like mad good (the chicken wings at Cotton & Rye should have their own religion). We, along with Ramble On family and friends the Mogas and the Barrons, ate and drank our way right through town like a gastronomic Sherman’s March making for the coast (too soon?). We love Savannah and try to stop each time we travel this way. There is always something new to see and experience. This year we did an architecture tour that brought the 300 years of city history to life through its sumptuous residences. Here's a fun fact: bricks were thought to be a bit common as a building exterior, until Thomas Jefferson made them cool up in Virginia.
After saying our Savannah goodbyes, we headed south again to Crooked River State Park near Cumberland Island National Seashore to finally see to the trailer.
And a damn fine job Lori did too.
I would have helped, honestly, but I had to fix the table (a perplexing puzzle), and the cheese compartment thingy in the frig (duct tape), and create a slick system for running my Starlink cables in and out of the trailer (lots of drilling). And not a moment too soon as it was Sunday at the Masters, which I planned to watch from the comfort of camp. In past years, we had to make a pilgrimage to a distant sports bar. No more. We have our own sports, and bar. For it was also time to christen our new Stanley Travel Bar. Drinks all around!
The Masters was terrific. I don't recall who won. Perhaps because the bar worked so well.
And I forgot all about not having any pants, or nuts.