Croatan National Forest – Our North American RV Tour

The latest Smithsonian, the Museum of African American History
The latest Smithsonian, the Museum of African American History
Thursday, October 26 – Day 58
We woke to a cool cloudy morning; the guys were out early readying the rigs for another travel day. Our departure time from Mary Hill RV Park, Maryland, is 9 am.
Our time in Washington DC was great, an amazing place with so much history.
Our destination today is Neuse River Campground in the Croatan National Forest.

 

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The group is excited about our next stop and a planned week off from traveling and sightseeing. I know,……. poor babies, touring North America with great friends, enjoying world-famous sights and delicious foods…………. and we need a break.
Believe it or not, touring, walking for miles sightseeing is tiring especially if you belong to ‘the over the hill gang’.
The only problem facing us this morning is negotiating the heavy Washington DC and Virginia traffic. As Henry said over the radio later in the morning, “it’s taken us an hour and a half to travel 20 miles”.
The traffic on the interstate was not fun, stop and go for the first couple of hours, I guess it could be worse we could be on our way to work.
The good part, the traffic eased as the morning wore on and the sun burnt off the morning fog for a warm afternoon.
Our route took us south on highway 95, the busiest interstate in North America. I read about this highway before we began the trip, I was not looking forward to traveling this route.
We follow highway 95 through Richmond, Virginia, past Rocky Mount, North Carolina and east to Croatan National Forest.
Surprisingly I-95 traffic was not as bad as I expected. I guess leaving at 9 am helps, much of the morning rush has dissipated or maybe we were just lucky.
As we exited I-95 the worst of our travels through heavy traffic on our tour should be behind us and hopefully along with less traffic less driving stress.
Ralph & Lois's trailer, Neuse River State Park North Carolina
Ralph & Lois’s trailer, Neuse River State Park North Carolina
The Croatan National Forest in North Carolina is the only National Forest on the Atlantic Ocean. When I planned the trip, I thought a campground with hiking/biking trails on a river would be a nice interlude after traveling and sightseeing for several months.
Lynda & my campsite, Neuse River State Park North Carolina
Lynda & my campsite, Neuse River State Park North Carolina
We arrived at Croatan National Forest Neuse River Campground late afternoon after a pleasant couple of hours of light traffic.
Our research of the campground indicated no reservations were required. However, the opposite situation greeted us when we arrived, most of the campsites were reserved, but few were occupied. Most of the reservations were for the coming weekend.
Henry & Allyson's campsite, Neuse River State Park North Carolina
Henry & Allyson’s campsite, Neuse River State Park North Carolina
A bit of a shocker for the group. We circled the campground looking for sites with no reserved signs and luckily we found three.
Before we settled in, the camp host happened by and pointed out only two spots in the campground were not reservable.
Coincidently the spots Henry and I had pulled into were not reservable. Unfortunately, the one Ralph and Lois occupied may have been reserved but not marked, according to the host.
The situation was confusing, the website said reservations were not necessary, I guess because 2 sites were not reservable……misleading.
Another strange rule, reservations are only accepted up to 4 days before arrival, no idea why?
After a discussion with Ralph and Lois’s about their predicament, we decided to try to reserve their spot for Monday coming.
Allyson logged onto the campground’s website and reserved their spot, by Monday all should be good.
Hopefully, the camp host was wrong, and their site was not reserved for the next few days or they will need to move.
Our campsites are in a good location about 100 yards from the shore with a pleasant view of the river, a cost of $12 per night was a deal. Most sites don’t have hookups, although some have electricity for an extra $5 per night and there are water faucets throughout the park.
Camping on the shore of Neuse River State Park North Carolina
Camping on the shore of Neuse River State Park North Carolina
Ralph and I have solar panels and inverters, so we can run most electrical appliances except for ones requiring a large draw, such as toasters, irons, and A/C.
Toast is not a problem, it is easily made over a propane burner, although I have no direct experience using this method, my chef says it’s easy.
A formal outing is not in the plans so the iron is not necessary, and A/C is not needed yet, the weather report indicates hot temperatures are not likely.
Fortunately, Ralph brought along a spare portable 200-watt solar panel for Henry. Although it’s debatable who benefits the most, Henry and Allyson or the rest of the group?
Camping on the shore of Neuse River State Park North Carolina
Camping on the shore of Neuse River State Park North Carolina
If his battery voltage gets too low, he will need to run the noisy, irritating, obnoxious, smelly generator to recharge his batteries. The process takes many hours…
We shouldn’t need water; our tanks were filled at the last stop, but if we do there are water taps situated throughout the park. I have a bladder to transport water………. I simply drink a lot of water and pee into the holding tank………don’t tell Lynda!
The park doesn’t allow firewood from other areas unless commercially produced. Fortunately gathering wood in the park is allowed.
We’ve been missing our evening campfires and camping in the forest is not the same without a campfire. I smell a wiener roast…… yum!
It took us longer to settle in, we are here for a week and no sightseeing so many other items will find their way out of our rigs.
Tables, BBQs; lounge chairs etc. need to be brought out and set up. By the time our camps were set it was too late to gather wood, lucky Ralph brought his propane fire pit.
October 27 – Nov. 2 – Day 59 – 64
The week passed quickly, the group enjoyed reading, relaxing, hiking, biking, and kayaking. The biking and hiking trails were fun winding through the forest up and down ravines and along the river, I expected to see a bear, hopefully not too close.
A warm and sunny week except for one day of torrential rain, apparently the remnants of a tropical storm from the south. It dosed us with serval inches of rain overnight and through the next day.
Camping on the shore of Neuse River State Park North Carolina
Camping on the shore of Neuse River State Park North Carolina
A good day for shopping and indoor games, although a limited number of games can be played in a trailer…… several were canceled before they got started. The other team was not interested.
At one point during the rain I thought we may need to move to higher ground, the heavy rain created small lakes and islands throughout the campground.
The Neuse River is more like an ocean bay than a river the width is more than 6 miles and length of more than 50 miles. It’s quite shallow, only a couple of feet deep for 100s of yards from the shore.
We gathered wood a couple of times during our stay enjoying great campfires every night even after the torrential rains.
Starting a fire with wet wood is challenging. Fortunately, Henry showed us a little-known trick he uses on hunting trips.
I would never have believed it had I not seen it for myself.
Henry used an aluminum can, apparently a beer can is the best, you must empty the can first, according to Henry drinking the beer is the only acceptable way to empty it.
Also, emptying a single beer can alone is frowned on, this ritual must be performed by several close or not so close friends and the ritual may need to be performed several times. Even after the fire is burning.
Once the beer is gone cut the top off the can then fill the can half full with gasoline, yes gas. BEFORE THE FIRE IS LIT place the can containing the gas upright in the fire pit, be careful not to spill any gas it’s almost as valuable as beer.
Build the campfire over the aluminum can leaving space so a thin stick can be placed into the gas. Once the kindling/wood is ready dip a long stick into the gas inside the can, remove the stick and light the end, place the stick back into the gas, it should ignite but not explode.
The gas burns for many minutes lighting the surrounding material…………voila….. a campfire is born.  Amazing but true, I saw with my own eyes.
Henry started almost all our campfires on the trip with this method.
Sawdust soaked with diesel oil is our usual fire starter, unfortunately, everyone forgot to bring the concoction.
The Snake
One day as I walked the lakeshore trail with my camera a chocolate brown and yellowish spotted long thin figure in the grass caught my eye.
I almost stepped on it, it was so still it didn’t appear real, I thought one of the gang pulled a prank and planted a rubber snake.
Lucky, I didn’t try to pick it up the poisonous Copper Head I yelled for the others to come, Henry says I screamed like a little girl.
My encounter with a Copperhead Snake, Neuse River State Park, North Carolina
My encounter with a Copperhead Snake, Neuse River State Park, North Carolina
Henry picked it up with a stick, so Allyson could photograph the colorful creature. The snake seemed lethargic, we surmised it had recently ingested a small animal indicated by the bulge in the middle of his body.
We didn’t realize until after much research the brightly colored snake was poisonous.

Our week-long interlude passed quickly a very enjoyable rest.

 

free overnight RV parking

 

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Gord B.

Our next destination is Nashville, Tennessee, the country music center of the universe.

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