RV Adventures with Bug Smacker

Renfro Valley RV Park

Renfro Valley RV ParkFollowing a long days drive and a really great meal from Tony Gore’s BBQ in Tennessee, we were getting pretty tired and needed to find a place to setup camp for the night. Since we were northbound on I-75 in Kentucky at this point, we first thought of the Kentucky Horse Park. I got on the phone and called to see if they had a spot for us. They informed me that they happened to be full, so we now needed to think of a new plan.

I saw another place on the map called Renfro Valley RV Park. We had heard of this place but had never stayed there before. We thought this would be a good time to check it out.

Check-in was a bit challenging. We drove right past the office then took a chance turning on a road where we didn’t know if we could turn around or not. We got lucky. Upon our arrival at the office, we found the quarters to be a bit tight there as well for getting back out.

We chose to spend the night in the 50 amp section. The park offers Cable TV hookups, 30 & 50 Amp electric service, Water & Sewer, Convenient coin laundry, Bath House, some shaded creekside sites, pull-thru sites available up to 46′, a dumping station and 24-Hour Security.

The park was pretty nice. The sites are gravel. They were level, quite large and each was a pull-through.

The location was close to the expressway and we found it a good place to spend the night while traveling. I wish it wasn’t so far from home. Renfro Valley is host to several events, shows, and concerts throughout the summer. It would be a lot of fun to come back for some of them.

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Ocean Lakes Family Campground

We originally were headed to Pigeon Forge. We had reservations and everything. Then at the last minute, after several previous attempts a spot opened up at Ocean Lakes Family Campground for the dates we were to be on vacation. Better yet, it wasn’t just any old spot it happened to be our very favorite spot in the whole park. So we booked it and headed to the BEACH!

Ocean Lakes Family CampgroundThe plan was to take a couple of days to get there but with all the excitement we arrived a day early. We knew our site was not available so we checked into another one. Our site had an empty trailer sitting on it. The owners must have gone home already. Their RV was stored at the park between visits so we just needed to wait until the park trailer towing guys showed up to move it out of our way.

We kept a close watch and bright & early the next morning we noticed the trailer getting towed away. So we gathered up our stuff and jumped onto our new site. We just totally love the beach here with the gentle breeze and sounds of the waves coming in from the ocean.

During any one of our several walks down the beach, we would encounter seashells, jellyfish, pelicans, kids building sand castles, people sunbathing, kite flying, football tossing and picnics. On one occasion we discovered baby turtles fleeing from the sea (I believe that the rain the previous night caused the inland ponds to overfill and the storm drains washed the turtles out to sea). They were now just trying to get home.

Ocean Lakes Family Campground Ocean Lakes Family Campground Ocean Lakes Family Campground Ocean Lakes Family Campground

Ocean Lakes is adding a new two-acre water park to its Sandy Harbor Family Fun Center this year. It will open sometime this spring. The new water park will feature a 705 foot long “Adventure River at Sandy Harbor.” The hybrid lazy river features a speed lane called “The Rapids” and a slide known as “The Tube” which lands in the Adventure River. The 28,110 square feet of water surface in the park will also include a new kid-themed “Splash Zone,” a semi-covered kiddie pool called the “Tad Pool,” and a four-lane “Drop Zone Mat Racer” that will begin 35 feet up in the air. The lounge area will also be expanded to 61,232 square feet of pool deck, complete with cabanas.

Ocean Lakes Family Campground Ocean Lakes Family Campground Ocean Lakes Family Campground Ocean Lakes Family Campground

This trip we decided to rent a golf cart. This proved to be a great way to get out and meet new friends. We met a guy who had worked for Kodak that was stopping here on his way home to New York. The day that we had to return our golf cart we ran into another couple from New York and started chatting. We had a lot in common with them. The next day they rented a golf cart and ran into us at our site. The day we left we ran into them again on the drive home.

Ocean Lakes Family CampgroundWe had a very nice chat with a guy from Ohio that owned a Jayco just like ours. He shared with us all the modifications he had done to his rig. We even had a woman down the street offer us brownies that she had just made in the oven in the kitchen of her brand new RV (Terri said afterwards “I didn’t know RV’s even had ovens, isn’t that the place where we keep our bread?.. LOL)

We enjoyed several great meals during our stay in Myrtle Beach. We ate at Angelo’s, Dagwood’s, Eggs Up Grill, Bullys Pub, Nacho Hippo, Creek Rats, Carolina Roadhouse, Meet N Eat Cafe and The Original Benjamin’s.

We discovered a NEW favorite this year, Simply Southern Smokehouse. Simply Southern offers: Barbecue, Fried Chicken,  Ribs, Barbecue Chicken, Chicken and Dumplings, Sweet Potatoes, Rice/Gravy, Macaroni and cheese, Collards, Biscuits/Cornbread, Peach Cobbler, Banana Pudding and Ice cream just to name a few. It is the best deal on home cooked southern favorites you can find anywhere. I like to tell people that this place fills me with “Smoky Goodness”.

Simply Southern Smokehouse Simply Southern Smokehouse

The one thing we could have done without during our stay at Ocean Lakes was the Ducks. We were told that the people who occupied our site before us fed them cracked corn. Now that we moved in we could not get rid of them. They are messy little creatures and boy are they noisy. We had the pleasure of getting to hear them quack all day and all night. The only thing louder than the ducks were the drunk karaoke singers from the Quarterdeck Beach Bar next door to us. On one occasion while the ducks were on our lawn sunbathing we had a couple on a golf cart stop to ask if I had painted them myself. I just replied ” yes and you are welcome to take as many as you would like, they’re free”.

 

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Vermilion Valley Service Plaza

Vermilion Valley is one of several Service Plazas along the Ohio Turnpike that offers an RV parking area. The RV Overnight Parking Area has electrical hookups, a dump station, and potable water. We have been to one of these before and found them a great place to pull over for the night while traveling.

We knew we were going to be driving by two of these Plazas that offered RV parking along pour route. The first one had absolutely no one there. We found that quite reassuring. We drove on to put a few more miles behind us before retiring for the night.vermilion valley service plaza

By the time we reached the second Service Plaza, we found it blocked by 3 transport drivers who pulled into the RV section sideways and took up several spots each. I am pretty sure they had no intention of paying for each of the sites. I approached one of the drivers who happened to be sitting in the front seat of his pickup and explained that it would be much cheaper for them to move over into the semi-truck parking area which was free. This was after I mentioned how expensive it was going to be for them to stay here taking up as many spots as they were. Following my conservation at least one of them relocated allowing us to obtain a spot for ourselves.

After we dropped the jacks we headed into the plaza to grab a bite to eat. Inside we found a Popeyes Chicken and it look really good. I walked up to the counter and saw a couple of women with tongs grabbing pieces of chicken out of a bin that was packed over the top with what looked to me to be some really good dinner.

I asked if I could get some of that chicken. To my dismay, I was informed that they were now closing. There were some small children standing in line behind me, I could hear them sigh as they heard this. I felt as bad for them as I did for me.

Disappointed we headed over to the vending machine to get a Candybar.

On our way back out of the Vermilion Valley Service Plaza, I happened to notice one of the Popeyes Chicken Employees standing there with a huge bag of fried chicken that could have been our dinner. So Sad!

Popeyes Chicken Employees

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Smart Phone Map App VS Dedicated GPS Device

I have recently spent a lot of time trying to decide if I want to replace my trusty Garmin nuvi GPS with a newer model or simply join the rest of the world and usemap an app on my smartphone to get me to where I need to go. We are getting ready for our first RV road trip of the season and I have decided that it may be time to upgrade my GPS to something newer. Following hours of research and personal testing here are a few of the deciding factors that helped me make my decision.

Stand Alone GPS Device-

  • Price approx. $100-and up
  • Dedicated device
  • Features are easy to use
  • Maps must be updated
  • Roadside locations are easy to find

Smart Phone App-

  • App is $FREE-and up
  • Map app is shared with other apps running on your phone
  • Features can be a bit confusing
  • Map data is updated on the fly (so long as you have a cell signal)
  • Directions can reroute you around traffic problems as they occur
  • Routes and Places can be shared

After weighing all these things, I decided to save my money and go with a Smart Phone App. I really like how some of the apps will direct you around traffic problems in your path. I know that a GPS with traffic updates will do the same thing but not as quickly and only in areas where it is available. Some apps even give you real-time updates on traffic events as they occur.

Another feature that I like is you can save your routes and places and make them available to you on your other devices. You can also share this information with others if you like.

Honestly, I was leaning towards just replacing my Garmin GPS Device. I have really enjoyed having my nuvi help me get down the road all these years; it has been a very trusty friend. However, I felt like the cost of a few hundred bucks would have been more wisely spent on something else (like in my fuel tank).

Article Courtesy of : www.BugSmacker.com : Copyright © 2016

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RV Travel Apps

google-apple-appsThere is no better use of a smart phone’s wealth of information than when you are traveling. You can locate anything and learn everything if you just have the right apps loaded. Here is a list of the apps we find most useful when we travel. Most are completely free and a some cost a few bucks but in our opinion are worth every penny.

Maps by Google (Google Play) (iTunes) – The Google Maps app for phones and tablets makes navigating your world faster and easier. Find the best spots in town and the information you need to get there.

Waze by Waze (Google Play) (iTunes) – Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join drivers in your area who share real-time traffic & road info to save time, gas money, and improve daily commuting for all.

Gas Buddy by GasBuddy.com (Google Play) (iTunes) – Find Cheap Gas Prices. Join the more than 53 million drivers that are saving money every time they fill up by using GasBuddy.

Big Truck Stops by Allstays (Google Play) (iTunes) – Just like to go big? This fast and simple free app only has the big branded truck stops & nothing else to get in your way. Flying J, Pilot, Loves, Petro and TA Travel Centers truck stops all over the USA and all with their own clear icon on the map.

USA Rest Stop Locator by Innovative Software Technology  (Google Play) (iTunes) – This app will help you easily find the nearest rest stop on the US, including Interstates, US highways, and state highways!

iExit Interstate Exit Guide by Metrocket Software (Google Play) (iTunes) – iExit tells you what’s at upcoming exits when you’re on the highway. It uses your device’s location to determine where you are on the highway, and then displays upcoming exits in real time.

Camp and RV – Campgrounds Plus by Allstays (Google Play) (iTunes) – It’s time you enjoy the journey. The most complete and popular camping app of all time helps you do that as you find and filter places and services with or without internet.

Roadtrippers – Trip Planner by Roadtrippers (Google Play) (iTunes) –  Roadtrippers is the ultimate road trip planner. Discover the best diners, scenic spots, attractions hotels, and more with our database of over a million amazing places.

Stay.com City Travel Guides by Stay.com (Google Play) (iTunes) – For the curious urban traveler—one who values charm over fame, and originality over formula. Enjoy adventurous food, pulsating nightlife, independent shopping, and cozy cafés, all curated by local experts whose travel guides bring a city’s true character to life.

State Lines by Two Steps Beyond (Google Play) (iTunes) – Because some things change when you cross the line…Compiled after over 9+ years of full-time RV road-tripping across the USA, State Lines is an indispensable traveler’s guide to highly variable state laws and regulations.

US Public Lands by Two Steps Beyond (Google Play) (iTunes) –  The US Federal Governments owns nearly 650 million acres of land – almost 30 percent of the land area of the United States. These are lands that are held for all Americans.

RV Parks & Campgrounds by ParkAdvisor (Google Play) – This app was developed to help people find great RV Parks in North America (USA, Canada, Mexico). Completely FREE with NO ADS.

RV Parky by RV Parky (Google Play) (iTunes) – Find over 25,000 listings of RV parks, campgrounds, rest areas, Walmarts, Camping Worlds, Cabella’s, Cracker Barrels, and Truck Stops in USA, Canada, and Mexico.

Foursquare by Foursquare (Google Play) (iTunes) – Foursquare is your ultimate city guide, in your pocket. Find the best places to eat, drink, shop, or visit — in any city in the world.

Zagat by Google (Google Play) (iTunes) – Zagat helps you discover the hottest and best restaurants, bars, shops and hotels in dozens of top locations around the world.

Zomato by Zomato (Google Play) (iTunes) – Zomato is the best way to search for and discover great places to eat at or order in from. It’s a beautifully designed, easy-to-use social restaurant finder app that lets you explore all the dining options in your city.

Restaurant Finder by Restaurant Finder (Google Play) – Restaurant Finder offers a convenient way to find restaurants around you. You can search for restaurants nearby or type in an address or by zipcode.

TV FoodMaps by TVFoodMaps (Google Play) – Find the restaurants featured on over 40 Food and Travel shows like Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, Man vs. Food and more!

Food Near Me by Free Offline Maps & Guides (Google Play) – Are you hungry? Go to restaurant! Best worldwide restaurant locator! Our app shows information about each fast food (like Taco Bell or Dunkin Donuts) and local restaurants.

Checklist by Adventure Treks (Google Play) (iTunes) – RV Check List is a tool that provides various checklists for the RV owner. These task lists cover various phases of the RV adventure.

WiFi Finder by JiWire (Google Play) – Never worry again about not finding a Wi-Fi internet connection. Wi-Fi Finder is simply the best app for finding free or paid public Wi-Fi hotspots online or offline—perfect for Skype users on the go!

Article Courtesy of : www.BugSmacker.com : Copyright © 2016

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