We have been hitting the road for about a week and a half and so far, it has been pretty intense - the bad and the good. Before anything else, I must admit we got hit back by the road in the mere beginning. Even our very first day in the vehicle was framed by sitcomlike series of our miscalculations.
We drove too long after we'd eventually picked up the car in the port of Baltimore as we felt overmotivated to drive to the beach…and therefore we arrived to our first chosen campsite late at night….and so when there WAS THIS TREE OVER THE RANGEROAD few hundred meters in front the actual campsite, we gave it up and spent the night there…however, the moment we tried to make a U-turn in the morning, we got stuck in the mud and could not move an inch. Well…first morning, first towing – doesn’t that sound almost like a proverb? We called the auto salvage service to get us from there. “Seventy five big ones,”said the cheerful driver of a towing vehicle. He added it was all hurricane Michael's work.
This one night reminded us we should plan the route more precisely, we cannot exhaust ourselves by too long distances and we definitely have to be on whichever spot before dusk.
Next days we took refuge in the Myrtle Beach State Park (South Carolina) – a beautiful spot by the sea where we met the very charming Kimball clan. They left behind all properties in L.A. and bought a huge RV almost a year ago. Now they are seasoned and superefficient travellers who consider downsizing to an old-school bus conversion. Antonina's first experiments with speaking English to peers was amusing to watch thanks to their thoughtful kids.
After some time in Myrtle Beach, we agreed upon the fact that paid campgrounds (approx. 30 USD per night) are far from affordable for us on daily basis, despite of all its convenient luxuries like coin-operated laundromat and spacious showers. Besides, most of the people there were nice and rich eldery people - “snow birds” who wander to southern states for whole winter. So next time, we'd camp in such a place maybe once a week to recultivate ourselves or the car.
Worst-case scenario and absolute certainity at the same time is sleeping in the parking-lot of Walmart where you can spend a night for free. If there is something superb to see nearby, then it is an option, too.
As of 23rd March we somehow know what we might be bound for and what not. Girls prove themselves as fantastic wanderers, I observe incredulously how they cope with constantly changing environment, without grannies or friends from kindergarten. Most importantly, the notorious phrase “I am going out with kids” is gradually vanishing from our register for which I am very grateful. We just need to find more of a life-work balance on the way. Now, we are mostly preoccupied by daily tasks – but it is slowly getting better. We are settling down anew.
Now I am sitting here under the pine trees, sunlight is playing games on my notebook as the branches above me are set in motion by a light breeze and tens of squirrels who chase themselves ferociously. Ten meters behind me I can hear the Blackwater Bay softly rippling. This shoal is home to pelicans, dolphins and temporarily to our girls who are pickled there all day long. Suprisingly, this little paradise with intimate atmosphere is our very first free campground. FREE and so far most beautiful one. This is something I must elaborate on even though my writing is going to get too long.
Judging by the experience here and some testimonies of fellow travelers, free campgrounds are gravitational poles for free-spirited wanderers and adventurers. According to our experience it seems to be true.
The born and bred Floridian plumber with whom we spent a very pleasant evening (and unfortunately forgot his name) told us many interesting things and funny facts. Apart from shedding some light on differences between North and South Forida, he taught us local way how to make fire! I guess we'll remember this forever:)
Next morning we were visited by super likeable couple in the age of our parents - Tanya and Mike who decided to live in a van in the end of last year. They advised us on using the website boondockerswelcome.com where you can apply for staying on someone's private property for free (just 30 USD registration fee) - usually driveways or parts of land which are accessible to public. For us another way how to see great spots without paying for luxurious campgrounds.