Road Trip to North Carolina, Virginia & Maryland

Introducing "Harvey - The RV"

25th October - 10th November 2007

For some time, Team Anju had talked of spending some time ashore, seeing the American Continent by road.   We had dreamed of buying ourselves a small motor home and heading inland.    In September of 2007, our dream-roving-home became a reality.    
In July we had discovered a small, Toyota-based, 22 foot motor home for sale in nearby Saint Augustine.  The vehicle was in excellent condition and seemed well cared for.   At the time, as our road trip wasn't planned until the following year, it had seemed a little premature to buy the vehicle so soon, so we had decided to mull it over during our time in the UK.   If, by any chance, the vehicle was still for sale on our return to the States, we would view it again and make a decision.   We adopted our usual attitude of "if it is meant to be, it will happen".   Obviously it was meant to be and by the end of September we were the proud owners of a small but beautiful motor home, quickly christened "Harvey - The RV".

Getting the keys to Harvey

The interior of our dream holiday-home, fore and aft.

We'd taken the advice of fellow aliens who'd bought vehicles in the USA to cruise ashore and taken our Florida driving test, in the hopes that possession of local driving licenses would reduce the cost of insurance.    However, despite reducing the cost, this didn't seem to make the task of actually finding insurance coverage any easier.   Each time went on-line or on the telephone to obtain quotations, the computer systems seemed flummoxed by our lack of a U.S. Social Security Number, even though this hadn't prevented us getting our licenses.    Apparently many insurers would prefer that US aliens owning vehicles drove around uninsured.   Christine was also delighted to discover that she was categorised as a "young driver" at the tender age of 41!  Finally by personally visiting the offices of an accommodating insurance agent, we were fully covered and could finally collect Harvey.  

Next we had to take Harvey to the "Tag Office".   In the US, we discovered, the number plate, or tag as it was known locally, did not remain with the vehicle on transfer, as was the case back in the UK.    We had to take ourselves, our vehicle and our insurance documents to the local Tag Office to register our new vehicle.   Another major difference in legislation was that, despite having purchased our vehicle used and from a private individual, we still had to stump up 7% sales tax before we could register the vehicle.    We enquired at the office about the possibility of personalised tags, hoping to get plates with the Welsh word for hello but were told the plate "Shwmae" was already taken.    Perhaps "TT Anju" (meaning tender to Anju) might be available, we enquired, but this too was taken, which was very strange.   Finally we settled for the next random plate to be generated, wrote our big cheque for tax and fees and hit the road.

The acquisition of the camper meant that we had our own means of transport, whilst finishing the major overhaul of Anju.   The relative small size of our vehicle meant we could use it like a regular car, for nipping to the hardware store and on arrival, although it would overhang slightly, it would more or less fit in a normal parking space.    Of course, if we needed to stop for refreshments or a bathroom break on during our errand-running, we were all set up!   

We'd had Harvey for a month but had yet to try living aboard when it was time for us to hit the road northwards via North Carolina, to an important party date in Maryland.    

We set off, via the usual 550 mile, interstate route, up to our friends Chris and Vivian's place in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.    We were delighted to find that driving Harvey, even in the heavy interstate traffic, was relatively stress-free.    Harvey would happily, if thirstily, cruise at Interstate speeds but we had no worries about speed traps or overtaking, both of which were rarely a concern.   We found we often would be travelling at the same speed as the heavy trucks, yet in the long run seemed to arrive at our destination almost as quickly as we would in a car.  

As we hit the last leg of our long-day's trip, up the mountain to Little Switzerland, our progress was slowed somewhat as we hit thick fog and crept slowly and carefully along the winding, tree-lined mountain road, almost missing our turning in the gloom.   

It was great to see our chums Chris and Vivian again and we quickly set up a makeshift campground on their driveway, complete with electricity supply for our much-needed electric heater.    We were, of course, offered the hospitality of their home but opted to sleep and breakfast aboard Harvey, as this would give us the chance to work out how all the on-board systems, such as heating, water heaters and water systems worked, whilst having all the comforts of a house right next door.     That house now almost had a kitchen too!   After all our hard work in the spring, in preparation for installation of their new kitchen, we were delighted to see the cabinets in place.   Now we were put to work assisting with the plumbing!   

Harvey proved to be a very comfortable home, despite the unaccustomed sounds of tree branches tapping on the roof in high winds and fog condensation dripping down above our heads.    

The timing of our visit also gave us the opportunity to watch Vivian's daughter-in-law, Cristy complete her first marathon, accompanied by Vivian's son Derek!   We were exhausted just driving there whilst trying to keep up with Chris and Vivian racing in their Mustang convertible to reach the finish line in time for a photo opportunity!

Our visit also coincided with Harry and Jane's holiday in North Carolina.   We spent relaxing day with them in tranquil and beautiful surroundings of their cabin in the mountains, about 30 minutes from Little Switzerland

Derek and Christy finish the marathon and we made it just in time!

Dinner in the mountains with Jane and Harry

After a couple of days, it was time to hit the road again, if we were to make it to Maryland in time for our important date.   Now we would really be camping!   We decided to take a scenic route up the Blue Ridge Parkway for the first day, to enjoy the autumn colours and spectacular views.    

Lunch break with a view

The Spectacular Blue Ridge Scenery

As the day drew on, we began to get nervous about our first night of real RVing.    Would we find a campsite with space available and mostly importantly would our propane cabin heater work, as a freeze was forecast?   Finally we arrived at Roanoke and pulled into the Parkway campground we'd selected.    As newbies to camping we were sure to read the check-in instructions.    First drive around the ground until you find an available space in the appropriate section (campers who would run generators and generally disturb the peace or campers who were not equipped with such devices and would be quiet).  Then you should mark your space as occupied by leaving something there and drive all the way back to the office to register and pay.    We needn't have worried about finding a space as, apart from one very hardy tent camper, we were completely alone in the campsite apart from the warden.    We decided to make the most of the privacy to make our first attempt at emptying out both of the onboard waste water tanks, fearing some kind of smelly comic disaster if we were to get things wrong!   However, it all proved simple and we spent our lonesome and chilly night smelling sweet.

Next morning we made an early start for the Interstate, which was still very scenic but a quicker route with less twists and turns and steep inclines.   By mid-afternoon we had safely negotiated the Washington Beltway and arrived back in our old stomping ground of Herald Harbor, Maryland.    Since our last visit our friends Woody and Janine had built a house next-door and on selling their original house, moved in there.   Their new house was equally as beautiful and comfortable as the old one and as luck would have it, their parking area was large enough to easily accommodate Harvey.   It took a little while to get used to seeing the same things in the same street but in a different house but we were soon comfortable in our new guest room.

We arrived just in time to head over to their daughter's house and see the grandchildren dressed for Halloween.   Sam made a beautiful Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz but Jack understandably, proved very reluctant to parade the streets dressed as a chicken!

You have to be kidding!   I don't want to be no schtinkin' chicken!

Welcome dinner with Janine and Woody.

The main reason for our visit was the impending 50th birthday party for our decorating partner Stephanie.  However, there was more partying to attend to first.   During an earlier visit, we'd discovered that Phil shared his birthday on 2nd November not only with Stephanie's friend of Welsh-descent, Glennis, but also with Stephanie's sister Valeri.    In addition Janine and Stephanie had a common birthday, so we had a weekend of heavy partying ahead of us!  Surely it couldn't be safe to have so many Scorpios in one place at the same time!

Phil struggles with his candles!

Valeri, Phil and Glennis celebrating while Janine attends to serious present opening duties!

Stephanie finally gets the chance to tell us all what she thinks of us!

And we get to scare her too!

The girls partying like they mean it!

Before leaving Annapolis we investigated the local dealer for Spectra Watermakers and on agreeing a good price for the model we wanted for our boat, we went ahead and bought one.   Now Harvey was the only RV on the road equipped with a water-maker!

All partied-out, it was time to start heading south again and back to the warmth of Florida.   We opted to cross over the Chesapeake and take the scenic Eastern Shore route down as far as Norfolk.  


The roads of eastern Maryland were not only in good condition but offered beautiful rural scenery on the way.    We made a point of entering Delaware, a state in which we had not previously set foot and were we took on supplies, delighted to find there was no Sales Tax in the state!   Later, however, we were less delighted to find we'd left the fuel cap and driver's sunglasses on a petrol pump in the state.

We stuck to the rural back roads as far as Virginia, where we rejoined the main southbound highway after spending an unpleasant half hour on a road which we described as "sea state - moderate chop".   Life aboard Harvey certainly became bumpy for a while.    


Next stop was Cape Charles, to catch up with old friends Ralph and Jeanette.   They managed to find time to entertain us, despite being busy with preparations for the opening of the new VFW hall in the town and an impending meal to be prepared by their family for around 100 people that weekend.   We took a chilly walk on the beach before heading for the warmth of the local pub where, after a delicious dinner, we were able to introduce Jeanette to the British pub tradition of darts!

On the beach and down the pub in Cape Charles.

After our hosts had fed us a hearty breakfast in preparation for our long journey, we said goodbye and began our trip southwards back to Florida.    

Another reason we'd wanted to take the Eastern Shore route was to take a look at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, spanning the 19 miles at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.   It was certainly quicker crossing the Chesapeake in Harvey than by boat!

By nightfall we'd passed out of Virginia, through North and South Carolinas and arrived in Georgia.   Now we were tired and decided to find a place to stop for the night.   

We'd been told that the interstate truck stops offered free and relatively secure overnight parking for RVs, so we chose one and selected a parking place as far as possible from the noisy trucks before eating dinner and heading to bed.    About ten minutes later a large truck parked right next to us, and settled in for the night, his generator running continuously.    A while later we realised there would be no sleep to be had in that spot.  We were glad that we'd opted for the type of motor home where you can walk through from the bed to the cab without having to go outside, as we hit the road again in search of a quieter spot, dressed in our pyjamas!

The next truck stop proved quieter, if not entirely peaceful and by lunchtime the next day we were back in Green Cove Springs and back to work! 

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