15/1/17. This is another little gem. We have been really impressed with the state parks across the country at which we have stayed so far. They are in beautiful locations and the campsites have all been in places where trees provide shelter from the sun and wind. It has to be said that they are primarily aimed at RVs and caravans so they can be a little pricey because they offer facilities for which we have no need (for example sewage hook up). However, some of them do offer so called “primitive camping” for tents that offer no hook ups at all at individual sites for a lower price.
Most parks have wifi but the strength of the signal and speed tend to be somewhat variable. Here in Village Creek, for example, the connection drops off after a minute or so at our site although outside the amenities block (200 yards away) it is much stronger but even there downloading podcasts is painfully slow. The parks generally have marked trails and information leaflets to encourage people to walk more than 50 yards from their vehicles.
On Friday we split up to do our own “thing’ with Christine walking into town (Lumberton) to do a little bit of food shopping and get a better wifi connection at Mcdonald’s while supping a peppermint hot chocolate.
Stephen went for his obligatory bike ride, of course. He returned from it rather shaken – not by traffic but by the fact that he was chased by dogs on no less than 5 occasions in one small area on the northern edge of Lumberton! He is a doglover, unlike Christine, but these attacks left him disconcerted to say the least. He used the anti-dog spray (we each carry one since Christine’s incident back in Florida) twice and towards the end of the ride resorted to carrying his penknife, blade out (which is a less than sensible option when on a bike of course but is a measure of his concern).
Saturday saw us both walking into town with Stephen taking the opportunity for a haircut for the first time since we left his sister’s “salon” in late October. The big topic of conversation was the American football playoffs in the run up to the Superbowl with both Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans taking part although this did change when people twigged his accent and asked what he was doing in Lumberton. His explanation prompted the usual gasps of incredulity and wishes for “safe travels”.
While in Mcdonald’s, updating podcasts etc, we spoke with our oldest, Alaric, about his job hunting which has taken a definite turn for the better. Subsequently he heard he had been offered a training contract with PWC and also has been approached about a permanent position with a company where he worked on a temporary contract a couple of years ago before commodity prices plummeted. If only one of these opportunities had been available 12 months ago, but better late than never. It’s always the way of course!
We have received news that Eleri, our daughter, is making excellent progress on her walk of the length of New Zealand. She has walked ⅔ of the way (2,000 km) since the middle of October and she is having a ball! We are just so proud of her!
Conal, our other son, is doing splendidly working as a teacher in Bahrain and has extended his contract for a 3rd year. He and Tamsin are loving the expat lifestyle.
We feel so lucky to have three such well-adjusted offspring making the most of their lives.
In the afternoon we went for a walk along one of the trails and lovely it was indeed although the alternative route back tested Christine’s sense of balance when we had to use a fallen tree to cross a gloopy bit.
We had signed up for a night (=6.30 to 8.30!) walk to view nocturnal creatures. When we saw the number of children coming we knew that it was not going to be cutting edge naturalist stuff but it was entertaining nonetheless. The kids had a ball walking through the woods at night with torches and the adults had to try to ignore the chatter to listen to the guide while recovering from seared eyeballs whenever a child’s torch was inadvertently shone in their direction!
With the noise and the lights pretty much all we saw was some luminous lichen, fungi and millipedes but it was fun.
Sunday was another quiet day when we went our separate ways for the morning. Christine went to Mcdonald’s to sit quietly while she ingested her pill before heading off to church. This was a much more friendly and relaxed affair than she had experienced elsewhere. Meanwhile Stephen headed off for a short ride before returning to give the stove a good cleaning and maintenance. In the afternoon we generally loafed around apart from a shortish walk along trails in the park.