Author Archives: John

Apr.8 , Moncton, NB – Welcome back to Canada Eh !


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Mar.29 – Apr.1, Charleston, SC

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We are heading home now and Charleston is always a good stop for a few days as a respite from the boredom of driving the I-95. During our stay we managed a walking tour of the city, a harbor cruise, a visit to the Aquarium, a visit to the Magnolia Plantation, and an afternoon at the Cajun Festival.

We stayed at Oak Plantation Campground just outside of the city on the Savannah Highway.

 


 

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Mar.14 – 28, St.George Island State Park, FL

 

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Back again for two weeks at one of our favorite parks in Florida. This park is located on a barrier island situated between the Gulf of Mexico and Apalachicola Bay. This time the weather has been absolutely gorgeous for our whole stay here. Janet has been enjoying the local Apalachicola oysters at only $6.99 a dozen on the half-shell ( try that on PEI ! ). The island has miles and miles of natural unspoilt beach with sand almost as white as those further west along the panhandle. Unfortunately we have neither cell phone or internet access here and have to drive 10 miles to the nearest library to get it.


 

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Mar.7 – 13, Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, FL

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Our first stay at this park. Henderson Beach state park has a mile-long gorgeous beach of powder like white sand we have come to love on the panhandle, however the park is bounded on three sides with concentrated development. Driving into the park a few hundred yards you would not know this as you are in pristine wilderness and are unaware of the Walmart and Home Depot across the the street! On the beach though looking left or right will remind you with all the condos and hotels. Flights from the nearby Eglin Air Force base is also a constant reminder that you are in a very built up area. Still the park itself is very nice.


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Feb.29 – Mar.6, Grayton Beach State Park, FL

 

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We have moved west a few hours (and a time zone ) along the Panhandle to Grayton Beach State Park and that puts us on the “Emerald Coast” with its white-sand powder beaches and emerald waters (St. George was on the “Forgotten Coast” ). The sand here is as white as snow and even on a dull day can blind you. Our campsite has all the modern conveniences, including a sewer connection. Grayton Beach State park is mile or so from the planned community of Seaside, the criticism of which I’ll keep to myself for now. It did however give a second life to some old Airstream trailers as food vending establishments which is a nice touch.

We are moving on now to Henderson Beach State Park in Destin, another new destination for us.


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Feb.15 – 28, St.George Island State Park, FL

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One of our favorite parks, we spent just a few days here in 2010 but now we are here for two 14-day stays. It is a barrier island off the coast of Apalachicola with beautiful white-sand beaches typical of this coast on the Gulf of Mexico. The weather however was terrible for our entire stay here – very foggy and cloudy. We will be back here Mar.14 for another two weeks and hopefully we’ll get some nice weather then. Next we are heading west along the panhandle to Grayton Beach and Henderson Beach.


 

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Feb.10 – 14, Suwannee River State Park, FL

 

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We spent only a few days here to check it out. A small campground with only 30 sites, but a beautiful location next to the Suwannee River. Nice opportunities for kayaking here. Also visited the Stephen Foster Cultural Center and Museum where there are displays on the life of Stephen Foster ( the composer of “Suwannee River”, “Oh Suzanna” etc.) We spent a few cold nights here with the temperature dipping to -5 C one night!


 

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Jan.18 – Feb.9, St.Augustine, FL

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Almost a month spent in this area, mostly at Anastasia State Park, and some at the local KOA. Anastasia is a very popular park and while quite a few sites are occupied by snowbirds, during the weekends the park fills to capacity with locals. It has miles of natural beach, bike paths, and kayaking. John met up with some dolphins while kayaking in the “Salt Run” but not close enough for a good picture. Like many popular state parks in Florida you must reserve early (11 months in our case) in order to secure a spot. Near the entrance to the park is a preserved Coquina quarry, a material used in the construction of the Castillo de SanMarcos and many other buildings in the historic Spanish Quarter. Just outside the park is the St.Augustine Alligator Farm with over 300 alligators, crocodiles, and caymans from all over the world. Next stop..Suwannee River State Park.

 

 

 

 

 

While we were at the Alligator Farm we were lucky enough to catch the daily alligator feeding time, check out the video below.


 

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Jan.2 – 14, Cape Canaveral, FL

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We are staying at Jetty Park, a campground operated by the Port of Canaveral. The main attraction here are the cruise ships. Cruise ships from Disney, Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International sail from here. We saw on average 3 cruise ships a day leaving port, and they were easily seen as the campground is adjacent to the canal leading to the ocean. Also the campground has a very nice beach on the ocean and for the fisherman there is a fishing pier which was very popular. We took a day trip north from here to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) where there is a wildlife drive through the refuge. This is within sight of the NASA launch facilities. The weather has been great and we are having no problems adjusting to life in the “Sunshine State”, life is good !

 

 

 

 

 

Here comes the “Carnival Dream” cruise ship:


 

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Dec.30-Jan.1, Fort Clinch State Park, FL

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This was our first time at this park and unfortunately we were only able to get 3 days here, but we will definitely return here for a longer stay. There are two campgrounds in this park, one near the ocean with palm trees separating sites and one (where we stayed) with access to the Amelia river with a dense growth of live oaks . Many recreational opportunities here including cycling (paved and cross-country), swimming, beach combing, kayaking, and fishing. The Fort itself is open to visitors.


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Dec.23-29, Savannah, GA

We had great weather for travelling south, arrived Savannah South KOA campground for our 7-day stay here. This campground is very convenient to downtown Savannah. Swans at KOA campgroundIt is a very well kept campground with escort to your site. A very nice pond with a wide variety of waterfowl is on the premises, including at least 18 white swans. The swans do not have their wings clipped as do those in Ottawa’s Rideau river and thus are free to come and go but I guess the steady supply of easy food keeps them here. We could see the swans from our trailer – a nicer view than you get in most campgrounds.

Savannah is beautiful city to visit and bypassing it on the way south is an opportunity missed. Downtown near the river is River street where the warehouses that were used for shipping cotton and other goods out of the South are now converted to shops and restaurants catering to the tourism trade. The cobblestone streets were constructed from the stones that ships used for ballast and unloaded in Savannah before taking on their cargo. The real gems however are to be found in the city’s famous Squares scattered throughout town. Tourists are to be found all over this city using many methods of transport to see these parks and the many impressive houses along the route. We took the self-guided walking tour while others took organized tours on trams, buses, bikes, horse-drawn carriages, and even Segways. We spent many hours going from park to park enjoying the Spanish moss-draped live oaks. Just a short drive east from Savannah is the resort community of Tybee Island. we spent an afternoon there walking the magnificent beach on the Atlantic ocean – it is a beautiful spot. There is only one campground on the island and unfortunately they seem to be packed in like sardines with some trailers almost sticking out onto the street. We are not likely to settle in there, as we prefer more natural surroundings.

 

 

 


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So how does the Hensley-Arrow hitch work?

The Hensley hitch does not pivot on the hitch ball as in the usual setup, but through a trapezoidal link system. There are many explanations of the principle on the web such as this one for example. Apparently it is derived from a system used on old tractors and other farm implements.

Below is a video demonstrating the principle of the hitch. It refers to a ProPride hitch which is a Hensley competitor, but the principle is the same.


   
And then there is this one:

 


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And finally this…

 

 

In 2006 we bought this brand-new Airstream Safari Special edition 28′ trailer. Now we are up to 6800 lb. and teamed it with a very capable Silverado diesel truck. This is a great trailer to tow as it has a low center of gravity, rubber torsion axles and of course a very streamlined shape. Towing is further improved by a Hensley Arrow hitch . This is an amazing piece of engineering since it eliminates any external forces such as winds etc on the trailer from affecting the tow vehicle, thus completely eliminating any possibility of sway. Crosswinds or passing 18-wheelers do not affect it so that you can control the tow vehicle with one finger! No white-knuckle driving here. Pictures of our Airstream can be seen here in the picture galleries. A full Airstream data sheet can be found here (requires PDF reader).

As of Apr. 2018 we have logged 86,000 kilometers on the Airstream.

 


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Which led to this

A 21′ Thor “Aero” trailer weighing in at 2100 lb. being towed by a Nissan Pathfinder. We enjoyed this this one for a number of years but eventually got tired of having to break up the dinette every night to turn it into a bed.
 


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This is where it all started …

 

 

Here we are picking up our first trailer from the dealership in 1986. A Coleman pop-up trailer weighing a mere 950 lb, which is why we were able to tow it with a VW GTI. We camped in this for about 10 years. We modified it internally so that we had a queen-sized bed. A great and efficient design overall, but not the best in extreme weather.

A stay on North Carolina’s Outer Banks convinced us to go for a hard-sided trailer as this trailer flapped and rattled and squeaked the whole time we were there – the wind just never let up. We didn’t realize how windy it normally gets on the Outer Banks till we walked around the campground and noticed that all their rental units were shackled to the ground.

Here it is all set up and ready to enjoy.

 

 


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And then this…

A 27 ‘ Award trailer at 3500 lb. This one had a permanent bedroom, but poor weight distribution made this one not a good towing experience – the axles were too far forward and most of the weight was in the back. This trailer was made in Canada based on a British design. It had rubber torsion axles instead of springs, something that most trailers would benefit from as it gives a lower center of gravity. Compared to our previous trailer it was also more aerodynamic resulting in about 15 % better gas milage even though it was 1000 lb.heavier.

 


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