Day 14 – Florida Roadtrip – Sho Nuff, Savannah, GA

Life without camping is easy and boring. We stopped at our favorite fish/shrimp BBQ place near Savannah GA. Sho Nuff seafood & BBQ 5850 Ogeechee Rd, Savannah, GA 31419.
If you are driving on I-95 it is well worth the detour. Last year we got boiled shrimp in some red sauce. It was the most delicious shrimp we ever had. This time I wanted to order the same but by mistake they fried it. At first I was disappointed but in the end it was the most delicious fried shrimp I have ever eaten.

We then continued on I-95. At around 8 pm we stopped at some highway hotel. I still can not tell what I prefer from all the variety. Howard Johnson in this case had a decent breakfast and clean bed sheets. In all our travels we stayed in Budget Inn, Motel 6, Motel 8 , Econolodge, Quality Inn, La Quinta, Sleep Inn and probably more. All of them are a different level of shittyness but all around $60 and mostly clean.

I also want to sing an ode to Indian people. Not American Indian in this case but Indians from India. Why may you ask? For working and running countless God forsaken hotels and gas stations. I always wonder how they must feel in the backwaters of Florida or Georgia? In those places they probably have no friends at all.

I asked one guy in a Georgia gas station if he likes it here? He was shaking his head violently: NO! He can not wait to go back to Mumbai. Thank you anyway. I appreciate your service.

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 3 – Florida Roadtrip – Hot Springs, NC

We had to be at the hot tub at 10 am all packed and ready and since you had to look for everything ten times and not doing the dishes is not an option, it creates some tension. I guess it takes time to get used to a new lifestyle. In the end the kids had their smorphs (graham cracker, chocolate and roasted marshmallow sandwich) and they did have their oatmeal in the morning and the parents had their wine in the evening and coffee in the morning. Life is good.

The town of Hot Springs was a backpacker paradise. The local grocery store has the widest selection of backpacking food I have ever seen. Powdered mixes in plastic bags. Look almost the same but with different labels: cream of broccoli soup, hot chili stew, camomille tea… I wonder how they made camomille tea into white powder?

It was raining as we went to the tubs. It was in the mid 40s F and I was hoping that the hot springs were indeed hot. The tubs were on stilts again on a walled off platform on the river bank with no wall casing the river. So you could see forest, the river and nothing else. I thought that our children would refuse to take off their clothes but I was wrong. Timofei was the fist in the tub followed by Yelisei. Go figure. The cruel thing is that when they come back to tell you that your time is up they also pull the plug!!!!! And the water starts to drain very very fast! Not only do we have to dress ourselves, but we have to dress our children as well. That was the fastest we dressed in history…

Now we had to change our plans because of the heavy rain in South Carolina. So we are going to Georgia and the kids are starting to ask every ten minutes are we there yet?

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 6 – Fort George Inlet, FL -> Jacksonville Zoo, FL -> Ocala National Forest, FL

Camping on the beach in Florida sounded like such a good idea. I was worried that there would not be any spots left. But there were, and in fact a lot of spots, so we had a place to ourselves, with some people in campers here and there, but not too close. I thought that was great!

But then I learned that there might be a flip side to an empty field near the beach. Wind! Cold wind! Though it was warm and we were nice and toasty inside our tent, when you try to cook or eat outside, it is not so much fun with such a wind. But we managed to make some spaghetti with clams and pesto. I wanted to go out to have dinner, but the boys were having so much fun playing on the beach with sand that it would have been useless to drag them out. Also, it was Easter Sunday and most of the good places were closed. While we were driving through Georgia, it was impossible to find a BBQ place in that was open.

Next morning we woke up in the middle of the movie “Birds”. Seagulls were everywhere screaming from all directions. Also, we were across the river from a Navy port where the cranes were working all night. That sounded not very unlike Myrtle Ave traffic, so it did not bother me very much. Besides, the birds in the morning were actually nice. Even the wind stopped for a second. We had our breakfast of oatmeal and coffee and packed as usual for three hours, but this time I was actually enjoying it and so was Renzo.

I thought that we really want to be hiking and backpacking. It is only because of the children that we are doing it by car. Renzo had another theory – that we are looking for a perfect spot and we might find it at the very next national park, so we have to keep driving.

But either way we both agree that our boys are happier than usual and they don’t have tantrums at all, or even minor melt downs. They eat everything in front of them, go sit in the car when they know it’s time to get moving, and are generally quite easy – unlike some days at home in Brooklyn…

Next destination: Ocala National Park, Florida. But first we finally made it to the zoo. Jacksonville, FL has one – it was a very nice and well done zoo! The boys loved the train, they fed giraffes, and they were running all over the place. Another nice day yet again!