Day 5 – Sumter National Forest, SC -> Fort George Inlet, FL

We thought we found a paradise where we could stay for couple of days but at 9:00 pm last night, we were harassed by a very large local man with a trailer and his tiny, wordless, smoking wife. They had apparently reserved the spot by putting a broken chair and a broken cooler on a picnic table. We thought this garbage was left there by previous campers, and we were not going to move at this hour. They naturally called the police…

We thought ‘Oh no, as long as I manage not to curse at the sheriff, we are probably going to be ok.’ (Four years ago I got a ticket while camping at Harriman State Park in NJ, for saying ‘fucking fire’ and had to go to court to fight it…) And then we met the nicest sheriff ever – and he told us it’s ok to stay. And so the large man and his tiny wife with their big trailer moved on to a different area of the campground.

It was a beautiful spot. The kids took a swim in the lake earlier in the day. And you did not hear anything but birds chirping and kids laughing. We had a gourmet dinner of vegetable soup, grilled steak and asparagus and green salad with a bottle of red wine (which the sheriff luckily did not see). Then, after that minor war with the locals, we enjoyed the camp fire and a most beautiful full moon that was casting shadows of giant pines and was lighting the shimmering low fog above the perfectly still lake.

We were finally not cold at night, and I did not need a down jacket in the morning either. Now that we have warm breakfast I realized that Yelisei likes granola and we did not have it. It was very tragic. But he got over it. The morning was so beautiful that I was loving the packing as well as driving. I almost felt like apologizing to the large man, but I stopped myself.

Today we were going to go to the Okefenokee swamp in Georgia, but there was no campground around that looked promising. So we changed our plans and we are going to Jacksonville. FL instead. I don’t have high hopes for a tranquil campsite, but at least the boys will swim play in the sand.

Day 4 – Uwharrie National Forest, NC -> Sumter National Forest, SC

Someone was asking if we should make reservations at the campgrounds and I said NOOO!! Why would we?? Who goes camping in the sticks where we are going? We found out today that everybody goes! Especially on Easter weekend. Luckily, sometimes people don’t show up… Tonight we are going to South Carolina to a campground with only nine spots, hoping for an Easter miracle.

Last night was not too bad. Hot shower, and drinking water out of a faucet right next to our site in the Uwharrie National Forest, North Carolina. The unfortunate thing was that there seemed to be a monster truck convention nearby. As our site was by the entrance, we watched every model of off-road vehicle parade. Otherwise, it was better than yesterday, but still cold at night. We are just realizing that our expectations were way too optimistic. It did not click in my brain that if at night it is near 40 F, then winter sleeping bags are necessary. I guess it was wishful thinking. And I expected full on summer right outside of NJ.

But for now every 4hr drive south seems to gain us only 1C degree at night. The boys are troopers though! On Friday morning they spend 45 mins in the car warming up and Yelisei kept saying ‘Mama, aw!’ and showing me his red fingers. So I would warm them up with my breath. Only then we figured to turn on the car and blast the heat. Soon we realized that we also forgot to put gas into the tank, so we only have 1/4 left. But that was on Friday. Today everything was much better. Full tank of gas, only 10 mins car warm up. And for tomorrow we got oatmeal and milk, so we will have something warm for breakfast instead of cereal that we have ben having. At night we will put on our long johns and zip our bags together with Renzo. It has been only twice that we put up the tent but we are already talking how nice it would be to have an RV. No packing – just take off the breaks and go.

Also, we took our double stroller, which was unnecessary. The boys nap in the car and we just keep unpacking it and packing it back in. Generally the process of waking up, having breakfast, and packing is three to four hours. The same goes for unpacking. So the way we are set up now, we don’t have much time for anything else. But I was obsessed with the idea of camping along the way and with going south. But so far it has not been warm enough and almost all of our time is consumed by packing and unpacking and driving in between. Timofei has been asking to go to a zoo and I said that if we pass one then we will go. We passed five already and did not stop, because if we did, we would not make it to our next unpacking destination.

That said, it is now 75F and it is totally green and the sky is blue, the air is fresh and my family and I are happy!