Our camp near Winston-Salem, Tanglewood Park, has proven to be a great choice for this week. This is a former Reynolds estate (we’re in tobacco country now, hence the familiar names Reynolds, Winston, Salem) turned into a large county park. Tanglewood includes a golf course, inn, stables, gardens, tennis courts, and two lakes — and recently, an RV campground. Since we’re here during the week and off-season, the park is nearly empty. Other than the three camp hosts, I see only four other rigs camped here in the 44 available sites.
Over the years I’ve often posted praise about various places we’ve camped, but it feels to me that I should probably share the information a little more broadly. RVParkReviews.com has been a useful tool to us when trying to find a place to stay, so I’m starting to post reviews there of places we’ve visited. I wouldn’t have found Tanglewood without that handy website. So instead of discussing campgrounds in detail here, in the future I’ll post a link to my review.
Since this is a working stop, our explorations have been limited. I’ve been locked up in the Airstream all day, every day, working at the computer and making phone calls. I’ve been starting before dawn just because there’s so much to do that I can’t sleep in. When we make a “working stop” like this I am usually rushing to do two weeks’ worth of work in 3-4 days, which is stressful but it’s what makes the extended “fun stops” possible. Eleanor and Emma typically find something to do to get out of the trailer for at least part of the time, even if it’s just some homeschooling while the clothes spin at a nearby laundromat.
But we did find some time late yesterday afternoon to break out. Not having researched the area at all, we asked the GPS to suggest an Attraction and it said “Old Salem.” That turned out to be an awesome find: a five-by-two block collection of fantastic old houses and buildings, plus a good visitors center and museum. It’s a cross between a living history museum and an old city quarter — some houses are private residences and others are open to the public with live demonstrations. We arrived too late for anything to be open but that turned out to be a fine thing: we were alone on the street as we walked the brick sidewalks in the perfectly clear and crisp fall weather.
Our mail drop included a replacement Kindle for Emma, courtesy of our friend Joe, who was kind enough to offer Emma his at a reduced price. She’s happily back to reading on it. The nice thing about the Kindle is that all of the books on the lost device are easily retrieved.
One of the tricky tasks this week has been re-scheduling. As long-time blog readers know, I hate making reservations. Having reservations means we have no flexibility, and flexibility is one of the key freedoms that traveling this way is supposed to allow. But sometimes there is no choice. State parks have become much more popular since the recession hit, so we have to look ahead to weekends and make sure that we aren’t going to get shut out for the places we want to visit. We’re heading into peak season in Florida, so the great state parks with camping — like Anastasia, Blue Spring, any of the parks on the Keys, Oscar Scherer, Jonathan Dickinson, etc, etc. (there are LOT of great parks in Florida) — will require reservations on weekends in October.
The other complicating factor is that we are cheapskates, and so we do a lot of courtesy parking with friends. It’s not fair to our friends to say “we’re coming, but we won’t tell you when until just a couple of days before,” so we try to set dates and stick to them. But sometimes things change. In this case, I realized that I need to go to the Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival in Lakeland FL, October 15-17, and that has drastically altered our original plan for Florida. We were going to slide down the Atlantic Coast to the Keys, then return up the Gulf Coast, but now we are going to do something more like a figure-8.
That change has forced a flurry of calls and emails to people we were going to see. The logistics involved took hours of research, emails, and fiddling with the calendar. Our strategy is to reserve only on weekends, and leave the weekdays roughly planned but open to possible changes. I think we have it hammered out now, and the end result is really a better plan than we had originally, so we should have a good time. We are going to be in Florida for nearly a month and see a lot of Florida friends: Dave & Becky, Bill & Wendimere, Brett & Lisa, Pierre, Alice & Tim, plus a nephew in Miami, a niece in Gainesville, and Mickey Mouse.