Day 4 – Florida Roadtrip – Cordele, GA

Something magical happens with kids when you keep them outside. They eat everything on their plate no matter what it is. And they go to sleep on their own at a reasonable time. Must be the fresh air.
We arrived to Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park near Cordele, GA last night at 7 pm and the gate to the campground was closed and the office was also locked. Renzo was very sad and disappointed. I took Yelisei on my hip and went over the fence to look for people to open the gate for us. I think cute children are the ice breakers for a conversation with strangers. Soon we found the campground host who told us the gate code and we were off picking a campground spot in no time. This park has a fishing lake, swimming beach, golf course and lots of camping sites with hookups and some of them on the waterfront. We picked one under pine trees that had the least amount of neighbors. Then we cooked, pitched our tent, had a fight about this or that (mostly about packing and the order of doing things), ate, put the children to bed, washed the dishes and finally sat by the fire and looked at the bright moon and fast moving clouds with a bottle of red wine. It is not easy to relax and enjoy yourself! By the time I was relaxed it was 11:30 pm so it was time to go to bed.

The next morning was cold in the low 40s F. Renzo was freezing again and the children were dressed in long johns and ski hats with gloves. You could not believe that just last night it was in the upper 60s F. Luckily, the children know now that they can hide in the car if they are very cold.

Since our next destination is only three hours away, Renzo took this opportunity to organize our crap. He is cursing me for taking so much stuff with us. So by noon our car was packed to perfection. Renzo is the king of organization! I bow my head to the king!

The park that we stayed in had an open museum of death machines. WW2 tanks, planes, Vietnam war helicopters, and large guns. I went with our boys to look at them up close. Yelisei wanted to touch the helicopter that was behind the fence and Timofei was picking up flowers for me and did not want to see anything. I was the one who was the most excited about the military might.


Day 12 – Wilson, NC -> Nags Head, NC -> Kiptopeke State Park, VA

When I said it was last day of camping I guess I meant last in Georgia. Seven hours on 95 and a crappy hotel was too depressing, so since the weather was warm, we found a nice camping site in Kiptopeke State Park in Virginia. It was a bit crowded with prepubescent, boys but the noise was reasonable and not too late. In fact, we were the ones who stayed up the latest. Unfortunately, we arrived late and had to leave early so we could not enjoy everything that this park has to offer: beach, fishing and trails. This was a very nice spot – I hope to come back.

Yesterday we did not find anything but beautiful paved hiking trails in Alligator River NWR. It was time to have lunch for us, so we moved on to the beach town of Nags Head, NC. We picked a place with a Mexican name that promised tacos from Yelp. It was the most popular place around. It was an imposter though. It was a little spiced up American kitch bar with tacos on the menu. We had a beer and our food was not as greasy as it could have been on 95. Then we went to the beach and the boys must have run two miles in circles. To the water and back to the dry sand. There were little birds that were doing the same thing right behind them. When the waves go back, the birds run forward and poke in to the wet sand as fast as they can until the next wave comes and they run away from water really fast.

After that we decided to camp, so we needed to get some supplies from supermarket. I made rice with fish and asparagus. Yelisei ate all the tops of my asparagus. I think we’ve never had so many meals together with the children at the same time. This morning Yelisei was even waiting for oatmeal without screaming. Before I had to give him cheerios just to put something in his mouth to prevent him from screaming. I am not sure this trend will continue at home though.

Day 3 – George Washington National Forest, VA -> Uwharrie National Forest, VA

Had a fantastic Peruvian chicken in a strip mall in Harrisonburg, VA, a town that otherwise shines thanks to James Madison University, not to mention Eastern Mennonite University. After getting a bit lost in strip mall parking lots, we arrived in the more friendly and accommodating habitats of George Washington National Forest.

Our target campground by Todd Lake was closed, but next one over was a winner. Five bucks, nobody else there, exactly what the doctor ordered. The kids paid attention to George Carlin and played with sticks and stones in the mud.

Gourmet dinner made by Ksenia and a professional campfire keep us reasonably warm. By and by, three pick-up trucks with massive campers in tow and a couple with a tent and mountain bikes get set up as well. The campers come with three other kids, one of them in sort of hunting camouflage, and the kid tells us they go hunting all the time – deer, bears, anything really. I don’t like the sound of “anything” too much, but he’s saying they aren’t hunting today. Good, let’s keep it that way.

Off to bed at 8. Red wine helps. Full moon makes it very bright and beautiful. I wake up freezing at 2am – ah well, but everyone else seems to sleep like babies all the way until 6:30.

Heroically minimal complaints from Timofei when he gets pulled out of his warm and cosy sleeping bag into the cold and dressed up for a breakfast in the cold sun. And Yelisei is just hungry. Food and a newly stoked campfire to the rescue!

9:30 and off we are – destination: Uwharrie National Forest, North Carolina.