Travato Van In A Tent Site? | Skinny Site, Skinny Legs and Surprises In New Bern | OBX – Ep9

So what does a van sleeping in a tent site, a singer with skinny legs and a million dollar view for only $25 per night have in common?  We learned they are all related to each other as we visited New Bern, NC as we wrapped up our really fun Outer Banks adventure.  We originally planned to stay at the national park campground near New Bern but found out just days before we were to arrive that the damage from Hurricane Florence had not been repaired and the campground was closed.  So we took to RV Parky to find a replacement place to stay last minute.  Up popped the New Bern KOA. A KOA?  No way… we have stayed at our share of KOA’s in the past but these days we prefer parking our Travato van somewhere near no one in a national or state park as far out in nature as we can get.  We don’t like paying a lot of money per night to park our van either.  None of that usually screams out KOA but we had little choices and we gave it a try.  

Wow! What a surprise when we pulled in and spoke with the manager.  We quickly learned that the New Bern KOA was named the 2019 KOA Campground of the year!  A pleasant conversation with the manager ended up with her offering a beautiful tent site with the best view of the campground for only $25 per night!  Score!  So we watched the most majestic sunset from the swings at the waters edge that night and went to sleep to the singing of the spring peepers just outside our windows.

With just one day to explore New Bern we headed into town the next day in search of breakfast, fun and shopping.  Breakfast was at a place we have long loved, The Bakers Kitchen.  French Toast with “Butter Syrup” put a smile on our faces and off we went to explore and shop.  There’s a lot of that to do in the historic town of New Bern and that was no surprise.  But what was a surprise was when we got to spend so time with a street performer.  His music and his heart were both wise, pure and good and his toothless smile and humor warmed our hearts.  His words about his skinny legs “we are what we were” talking about inheriting his “skinny genes” from his grandmother was one of the funniest yet wisest things we had ever heard.  

So what was supposed to be a quick stop at a KOA on the way to something important and fun after this stop turned out to be one of the biggest gems of this journey to NC’s Outer Banks. New Bern is worth a right or left turn off the bridge and some time to leisurely stroll around a NC city that is more than 300 years old and still getting more and more interesting.

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We Discuss The Travato MODS We Made For Our Outer Banks Trip | Liked vs. Not Liked | OBX EP.8

As we were traveling around Florida in our Winnebago Travato 59K we made a list of MODs or modifications we wanted to make before we left for another trip.  We showed most of those mods in this video, https://youtu.be/Aj9zeaU_3xs, watch it if you have not done so already.  In this video we share with you our thoughts about how these modifications have really worked out for us… did we love, like or hate them.  

Freezer Pool Noodle: So did you know you can keep your 59K refrigerator from freezing the things in the bottom section by just adding a pool noodle?  We didn’t either until we found this mod and this one was a LOVE IT mod.  It really worked.  Not one frozen egg or water bottle in the bottom section and the freezer did not build up ice around the sides.  A great mod for sure and simple.  We just bought a grey piece of pipe insulation from Lowe’s and cut it to size and that was it. 

Microwave Removal Storage Area: Do you keep stuff in your microwave and use it more as a storage area than you do a microwave.  Well, we did and we decided we could use the extra storage more than the microwave so took it out and replaced it with a cabinet we built and in doing so doubled the storage in that area.  Did we like it? YES!

Over The Door Closet Shelf For Shoes and Stuff: We first saw the over the door shelf in Gary Varner’s van and loved it.  After some searching for the parts and a little bit of work with a hacksaw we made this simple mod. Verdict? We LOVE it!

Bungee Pocket Storage:  Many of you may already have this mod in place and you may like it, but the version of these bungee storage containers that we bought just will not stick to the walls under the bed.  And, it’s a pain in the butt, more like pain in the back and knees, to get things in and out of these so… we HATE this mod and would not recommend it.

Shower in our 59K First Time:  Have you taken your first shower in your 59K yet?  Until this trip we had not and geez do we feel stupid for waiting so long.  It is a piece of cake to put the curtain up and the convenience gained from showering in your own van is immeasurable.  We LOVE it!

Extra Sewer Hose Storage On Black Tank:  We bought an adjustable 4” sewer hose storage tube from Amazon and thought it would add a great space in between the bikes on the bike rack to store the two rugs.  Well, the big rug would not roll up tight enough to store in there and if it did it would be such a pain to roll that thing that tight every time we packed up that we would not use it.  The door entry rug does fit and that’s pretty nice.  But having it on the bike rack makes putting the bikes on a lot harder for the amount of extra storage it gives so the verdict?  We Kinda-Like it… but won’t be leaving this one on as we head to Alaska or in future trips.

Thule Storage On Top: You’ve seen it up there… that big brown or black bag or now the Thule. Many of you ask if it helps and if it hurts our driving and MPG.  Well, of all the mods we have done to our Travato this has to be our favorite. We keep a ton of stuff up there and it stays safe and dry and it does not seem to impact the MPG or the driving experience much at all.

During the last part of this episode we discuss with you how we did planning this 3-week trip to the OBX.  What we liked and what we wish we’d done differently.  And we celebrate our 4-legged fur baby Maggie’s 6th Birthday!  Happy Birthday Maggie!

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Make The Most Of Your Dash!

Just a thought to share as we prepare for our biggest trip yet. Life is full of bucket lists… some big… some small… Those bucket list items or dreams drive us to make decisions about how we spend our time. When we’re young we spend it working and dreaming about a bigger house, bigger vacations, better cars, promotions and well, stuff. When the time comes for you to put all that structure aside and retire to a life of well, non-structure it can be difficult. Many lose their purpose. Many are lost. Many actually lose their health and rapidly stop living.

Lynn and I vowed to make the most of our “golden years”… you know those years after you’ve given up the structure of a daily job and routine and opted for the freedom of choosing what you see and what you do with all that time on your hands. How you spend it makes a big difference. We have retired friends who are much, much more active than we are and they continue to amaze us. We also have friends who seem to lose focus in these golden years and just exist, not really knowing what is next. That’s where the wisdom of the “dash” comes in. I’ve heard it said that we all have a dash in our lives whether we want it or not. It’s the dash between two numbers… two numbers that we cannot choose… the date we came into this world and the date we left it… and that dash… that dash. That dash and more importantly, what we do with it is the ultimate bucket list. At a time when many have time on their hands to make the most of that dash, many choose to slow down and in doing so get weaker and weaker, both mentally and physically. You see, growing old sucks! There’s no two ways about it… it sucks. But what’s the alternative? For us that sucks worse… right?

So how do you make the most of your “dash”? I’m betting it’s different for each of us. And what do you do if you want different things out of your dash than your spouse does? I don’t pretend to have the answers but I know I am so fortunate to be married to my best friend who loves to dream as big as I do, who sees the good in people and finds fun in everything we do and is always ready to face the next big adventure hand in hand and has the same desire to make the most of our “dashes”… together.

So with our “dashes” in mind tomorrow Lynn, Maggie and I begin a journey to check off another major bucket list item as we head out on a 3-4 month trip to Alaska in our van. I’m not sure we are doing the right thing but I do think that if my 90-year-old self could come back and tell the 61-year-old self what really matters, that 90-year-old self would not say stay home in your golden years and watch more TV. I think he’d say get off your butt, dream big until you can’t dream any more and get out there! Hike, bike and explore and see… see as much as you can while you have 4 good knees and the desire to take chances. So with that we’ll set out the biggest trip we’ve been on to date, likely more than 15,000 miles. We’ll fatten up our dashes with epic memories or as my grandmother used to say “movies in our minds” and we’ll check off one of our biggest bucket list items. Is that what’s important? Heck no! Not even close! What’s important is that we will talk non-stop, plan non-stop and experience the wonder that is known as the last frontier together.

What Can You Do In One Day In Outer Banks? Let’s Find Out! | Travato Trip to NC OBX – Ep7

We wrap up our adventure to NC’s Outer Banks by trying to stuff as much site seeing as humanly possible, at least humanly possible by us at our age, into one last day before we head back inland. It turns out as much as we had explored during our 5 nights on the island we still had a pretty long list of things we wanted to see. That included Bodie Lighthouse, Jockey’s Ridge, Pea Island for shelling and Nags Head Woods Preserve for a hike.

So off we drove from our great little campsite in the Oregon Inlet National Park campground to see as much as we could. First stop… well, we could see it from our campsite so that one was easy… Bodie Lighthouse. Man, we enjoyed this old lighthouse that was full of history. In fact it is the only lighthouse we’ve ever visited that limits how many can be on one flight at a time, one person and how many can visit the lighthouse in one day. Why? Because it still has the original staircase. Most other lighthouses have had improved/safer staircases installed after they became more of a tourist destination but Bodie, pronounced BODY like your BODY, still has the original spiral staircase that keepers climbed many times per day since it was erected. Those stairs are not attached to the wall of the lighthouse and you can actually feel the whole staircase moving a little as you climb, a very unnerving kind of feeling at first. The view at the top is well worth the climb though… we could see home for these 5 nights from the top of the lighthouse… stunning!

There must be a rule or something but if you come to NC’s OBX you must visit Jockey’s Ridge, the largest moving/shifting non-beach-bound sand dunes in the US. We found it to be not as hot as others had suggested it would be but it was a workout to climb to the very top of the highest dune where we could watch a hang gliding class learning to fly and land.

Not far from the saltwater of the coast is a nature preserve that resembles more of a jungle than a coastal hike, known as Nags Head Woods Preserve. The main trail was flooded and we could not hike it so we chose instead to hike the Roanoke trail which took us out and back 1.5 miles to a white sand view of the sound through the actual sound of spring peepers, birds and insects. Something for all your senses to marvel at.

Then we decided we had had enough… we were out of daylight and energy and we skipped Pea Island and headed back to our campsite to batten down the hatches and prepare to leave the following morning for places further inland as we neared to end of yet another awesome adventure trip in our Winnebago Travato van.

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Find A Great Home Base and Exlpore | RVing In Our Van – Travato Trip to NC OBX – Ep6

In our last post and video we left you with us having so much fun in Oregon Inlet we had chosen to stay an additional 2 nights there. Why? Well, we loved the Oregon Inlet National Park campground so much we decided to make it our base camp for exploring everything from Oregon Inlet all the way up to Corolla on the northern tip of NC’s Outer Banks. That turned out to be a great, great decision. From the OI campground you can get to Corolla in a little over an hour and everything is so close it was easy to schedule the two days of site seeing so we felt like we got to see almost everything we wanted to see.

So what was there to see? The sweetest stop was Duck Donuts in Duck, NC. There you can watch them cook and create your just made donuts right in front of you and then take that box of goodness out to the boardwalk and eat them with fresh coffee and the view of a male and female osprey tending to their nest of eggs out in the bay. Sweet donuts with a sweet view!!!! Just our kind of activity.

That boardwalk turned out to be the Duck boardwalk that was already on Lynn’s list of things to do so we took a leisurely stroll to the end of the boardwalk and back, stopping in great little shops for us and Maggie and visiting the beautiful Duck Boardwalk Chapel.

Then it was just a short drive to the end of the island and Corolla where we climbed to the top of our favorite lighthouse at the Outer Banks, the Currituck Lighthouse. Old and so well kept with a 360-degree view of the ocean and the sound. Wow! We love lighthouses. You will probably find things like lighthouses that you love when you travel but for us, lighthouses seem to draw us in like we’re a lost vessel coming in from sea.

After all those steps to the top of the lighthouse we found ourselves hungry and almost “hangry”. So lots of discussion about what kind of food and how much we wanted to spend we landed on trying out what we thought would be the “fancy-smancy” restaurant, The Black Pelican. It was not fancy-smancy at all but man was it good. Lots of great food and conversation and tons of laughs at each other made for a perfect meal for a crazy old married couple exploring NC’s OBX.

Then with our bellies and tanks full we stopped at the dump station that serves the Oregon Inlet campground at the Oregon Inlet marina for what has got to the the best dump station sunset view of all time for us.

So what did we think of Oregon Inlet so far? Well, it’s windy but when you’re staying right on the beach on an island you expect it to be windy. The staff was the nicest we’ve ever encountered and our site was impeccably clean and perfect. Everyone around us was quiet and courteous and the hikes to the beach and around the campground were perfect for us and Maggie, making us super glad we’d decided to make this our home base for this part of our trip to the Outer Banks. It’s the perfect place to stay and head south or north on the OBX to explore. It’s close to food, gas, fun activities, museums and shows and lots and lots of restaurants. It was the best choice we had made… so far.

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Cooking In The Van, Beached Whale, Nags Head = Travato Trip to NC Outer Banks – Ep5 Oregon Inlet

Our NC OBX trip continues as we head across the new big bridge to Oregon Inlet.  Being nimble in the Travato van means we can change our minds and change our plans and that’s just what we did.  We left Rodanthe a few days early since we thought we’d seen everything that interested us and the fun that was in and around Oregon Inlet was calling us big time.  

So we checked in to the Oregon Inlet National Park campground and were surprised to find that they had done a lot of renovations since being hit by hurricane Florence in 2018 and had added new water and electric pedestals to almost all their sites… so we lucked into a water and electric site and could not have been happier.  

Out time for this portion of the OI visit included walking on the beach, finding a beached whale, visiting the infamous Wright Brothers Monument and Jeanette’s Pier which included getting to watch the surfing competition that was going on while we were there. Oh yeah, we also cooked a few awesome meals in the van while we were there since this portion of the Outer Banks is actually a little more populated and had several grocery stores to allow us to stock up on supplies and food.

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Kite Surfing Paradise! A Dead Shark and A Graveyard = Travato Trip to NC Outer Banks – Ep4: Rodanthe

As you meander up the coast of NC’s Outer Banks you’ll find many quaint little villages that have popped up over the years. One such village is the one known for it’s kite surfing in the sound, Rodanthe.

We had a site right on the bay, literally right on the water, where we could watch the sunset each night spend a large part of each day mesmerized by those out on the water kite surfing. If you’re not familiar with kite surfing it is a sport that is exactly what it sounds like would be, a person is pulled across the water while steer a huge sail kite and combines lots of skills most of us only dream of having. It was fun to watch the beginners who were content to just get up on the water and move a few feet before being dosed again only to get up and try it again hoping to one day be like the experts. The experts came in a few levels. One level is content to just buzz back and forth as fast as they can letting the 20-25mph wind carry them a mile or two and then they do a 180 and head back the other way. There’s also the expert group who don’t travel distances but you’ll see them imitating birds and dolphins as they take to the air with any little wave that comes up.

So mostly in Rodanthe that’s what we did. We sat there at our waterfront camping spot and watched in awe as all three levels of kite surfers took advantage of the protected waters of the bay that was free of boats because the water never got above waist deep at any point and it was free of kayaks and canoes because of the constant wind they’d be fighting.

Throw in a visit to a civil war graveyard where slaves who fled slavery and ended up working at the island’s life saving station were buried, a visit to the beach where we saw a huge shark that had just washed in and was beached and lots of quaint, fun shops to visit… and well you’ll see what it was a laid back, just our kind of place to visit place.

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