New Bern, North Carolina:
We left Mount Pleasant SC on June 10th and had a beautiful ride to New Bern NC – a historic colonial city founded by an immigrant from Bern, Switzerland. With many of her historical buildings preserved, New Bern provides us a glimpse to its past. The city was built along the Neuse and Trent Rivers that flow out beyond Pamlico Sound & the Intracoastal Waterway into the Atlantic. Trade & commerce along these rivers was very important to her history but the beauty of the rivers is what remains the most attractive draw. A great place for boating and enjoying the water – new developments have capitalized on the water’s appeal. We visited here in 1995 and there have been many changes. A celebration of the city’s name in numerous bear statues – all painted in various themes was a welcome surprise. There are gardens galore at homes and businesses to help soften more harsh urban elements. Beautiful old homes remain along the rivers edge – they speak to the past’s glory. Its proximity to beaches and barriers islands add to its family vacation appeal – combining history with water sports & recreation. The New Bern KOA campground is located across the river from New Bern- in Bridgeton – it was small but well maintained with a moderate size pool we enjoyed several times. We enjoyed a terrific riverfront restaurant ” Persimmon” and sampled local delicacies like blue crab. This quaint RV stop is just off Highway 17 – the main road north & south along the Carolina coast into Virginia. One day we ventured down to Oriental – sailing capital of NC – to see if anything changed since a ’95 visit here. Not much I am afraid – its still tiny and in need of some investment but it’s a beautiful spot on the Intracoastal Waterway.
I took some lovely photos of the area & riverfront – they will be in the next positing. All in all we would definitely visit New Bern area and stay at this KOA campground again.
Virginia Beach VA:
From diminutive to densely populated – we traveled from New Bern to Virginia Beach. This KOA was the largest KOAs of the 20 or so that we have stayed in – over 200 sites – with all types of RVs -and sites. Our pull through site was large and at the end of row so we had plenty of room to set up camp as well as privacy. The facilities here were outstanding – two large and deep pools that were close to Olympic sized and plenty of chairs to enjoy a dip for hot weather relief. Plenty of kid things to do – large sand piles for castle building, swings, games, climbing, jumping, waterslides including one gigantic one that even adults dared to use. We bought a new piece of art there – Mike, the wood carver sold us “Penny, short for Penelope the Pelican – a beautiful chainsaw carved pelican who will travel with us now along with Harvey, our coconut fish sculpture from the Keys.
With a large laundry and a moderate sized camp stop and endless outdoor entertainment- you could stay here for a week and not be bored – great family atmosphere! The Virginia Beach area has everything, including a naval air station close by – we had lots of jets flying overhead most of the day. The area is more developed that our last visit – more housing, commercial development and packed highways, but the attraction of Virginia Beach remains – a very long gorgeous beach! We enjoyed walking through the annual MOCA boardwalk art show with its huge diversity of artistic expressions. Several of Rick’s former shipmates live here so we got to show off “The Taj” and spend some quality time with all of them. Meeting up with old friends and making new ones is the best part of RV travel. We celebrated these reunions with a barbecue, an Italian restaurant dinner and a dinner at a local hot spot with something for everyone! Lots of wine was consumed and a few stories exchanged over the six days. It was hot, humid and rained one or two days causing large puddles that interfered with outdoor enjoyment but RV folks learn to deal with weather – pour more wine! Include this place on an itinerary if you are traveling along the East Coast. It’s a fun stop with something for everyone. Photos may give you some hints in next post.
Timberland Lake Campground, Cream Ridge/Jackson NJ:
After a gorgeous drive here through North Carolina and Virginia farmlands, we arrived here because we needed a place in New Jersey after a 330 miles drive from Virginia Beach. It was south of Trenton, north of Cherry Hill just off the NJ Turnpike – in the middle of no where!. What was reported as right off the highway was actually over 30 miles away over several narrow country roads. Large motorhomes like ours do not love narrow country roads. We located the campground, pulled to the entrance and had to fuss with a gate that was operated via intercom with poor instructions – first strike against them! They gave us a map to find our site but no escort to the site – after driving around for a while we found it by process of elimination – second strike!! It was pretty level and water, sewer & electricity was convenient. We set up camp and ate a late dinner of leftovers somewhat exhausted after an 18 hour day. While pursuing the Rules we saw that dog walking was prohibited – very unusual for campgrounds and there was no enclosed dog walk area. Third strike!!! But we saw folks walking their dogs and even reported a loose dog who was harassing our dogs while they were in their fenced yard. The rules were merely advisory perhaps?? We used the pool two days during our visit – in between thunderstorms. It was the ONLY good element about this campground! This place was more appropriate for 5th wheel owners and smaller campers who come on weekends during the summer. Some had been there many seasons! There were very few transient motor coaches like us. It was not decorated or landscaped or designed well – its sites seemed to be located rather willy nilly. It was clearly not for big rigs like ours although Good Sam’s said otherwise.
The best part of our stay was a surprise visit from one of Rick’s cousin’s who lives 3 miles away in Cream Ridge. Cousin Jean knocked on the door Day 2 after seeing on FB that we were in the area. We did not know she lived in this part of NJ. We gave her a tour of The Taj, caught up on her family, visited her home, and toured a local winery – Laurita Winery & Vineyards – where we did some wine tasting & buying. That evening we enjoyed a terrific Italian dinner with she and her son, Eric in cute little Allentown NJ. We had not seen her in years so it was a lovely unplanned occurrence. However we would not stop here or recommend that you do. Just not much good to say – no laundry, a store with limited provisions, no restaurants nearby and continuous construction work going on around most of the sites. Also Maguire AFB is located nearby offering an overhead view of those gigantic airborne tankers that refuel other planes.
Booking campgrounds online is a crap shoot – you really never know until you get there. We do rely on KOA, Good Sam’s and the Big Rig Book to give us reliable advance information but you just never know. We do stay in KOA campgrounds because of the standards all their places must meet and the owners are usually directly involved – we often get to met them as we did in the two previous campgrounds. Next time we are up this way – not till 2018, we will stay at a place closer to the Jersey shore and beaches I promise! Just a few photos of the Winery from this stop…
Tomorrow we depart for Northampton/Springfield KOA located in Westhampton, MA – very near one of my sister Margot’s’ home in Easthampton. Confusing, I know…but we are looking forward to seeing her and Iris, her wife, and catching up on their busy lives.