Bugs, Beaches, Bears, and Bikes
Oyster Point, Richmond, Lake Anna, and Buchanan State Forest have all served as our home these past 2 weeks. All were uniquely interesting and have led us to further embrace our lifestyle. They have also helped us learn how we can better adapt to our vagabond lifestyle.
We spent July 1st to 6th at Oyster Point in North Carolina. “Buzzzzzz” was an awfully familiar sound day and night, in the Croatan National Forest. Oyster Point was beautiful and had access to hiking/biking, but we didn’t dare to venture far from our camp, as every time we did, we are swarmed by biting flies, mosquitos, and other bugs. Oyster Point was thick with vegetation, and full of more insect and arachnid life than any other location, we had previously spent time at. The girls, Chico, and I walked down to the water the first day we got there, but turned around quickly, despite being coated with insect repellant. We walked on the road instead of the trails, where the insect life was minimal in comparison to the forest, on our later walks. Repel and Deep insect repellants didn’t seem to help ward off insects, with temps in the 90s almost daily. Oyster Point will be a fabulous location to return to in the fall, once the bug life quiets down, but during our visit it had us feeling like we are on Survivor: Insect Island.
One thing that made our stay at Oyster Point more enjoyable was going to the beach. Atlantic Beach and Fort Macon State Park are 17 miles away. The roads to get there from Oyster Point were not safe to bike, so we loaded up the bus and went to the beach two days. The parking area at Atlantic Beach was not sufficient for parking our bus, so we ventured down to Fort Macon. The fishing and visitor center parking lot had two spots suitable for our bus and we were fortunate to get in one of those spots, each time we went to the beach.
Fort Macon is along a channel, so swimming isn’t allowed. The first time we visited it was busy and plenty of people were still wading in the water and sitting in the sand. We loved
hanging out at the water’s edge with the tide washing up over our bodies. Daphney gnawed at shells, while April buried them in the sand. Fort Macon was once a Civil War Fort. A Coast Guard base is next to the fort, these days. Most of the visitor information related to the fort’s history inside was closed due to COVID-19. They do have a great nature trail that is still open, for those interested in learning about local plants and animals, to walk on. On our way back to camp, one of the days we went to the beach, we stopped at a local farm stand and bought juicy peaches and eggplant to put in our pasta for dinner.
After 5 nights of battling the bugs, at Oyster Point we headed north to Richmond, VA. We went to the Gillies Park bike park and BMX track. April had a blast riding on the small bumps while Bryon took on more advanced obstacles. Bryon also got the downlow on riding in the area, and future riding in Pennsylvania from a guy at the park. We made dinner at the park, before heading to Cracker Barrel to sleep in their parking lot.
The next day, we started the morning out by heading to the James River trails. Bryon told me I could ride, while he watched the girls, as he had ridden at the BMX trails. I got ready to ride, but only made it a quarter mile or so when my shifter broke. I got back to the bus, we did a few things around the bus, and then went to a bike shop to get a new shifter.
After departing Richmond, we headed to Lake Anna State Park, about an hour and a half away, in the foothills of the Appalachians. There are several trails for hiking, riding horses, and biking there. We got to the park in the afternoon. Bryon unpacked the bus, fixed my shifter, and I got out on ride, since my morning ride had been foiled by the broken shifter. Biking is one thing that helps me mellow out. After being wound up from not riding for several days at Oyster Point, it felt great to get out and ride. The trails were fairy easy, with occasional roots. I took Big Timber Trail to the lake and then wound back through the forest on Sawtooth Trail. The next two days were spent riding, visiting the lake to swim, and working at Lake Anna. We have fallen into a routine with working most days. Bryon sews and works on product, while I hang out with the kids and take care of emails, order materials, or secure camping for the upcoming weeks. April, Daphney, and Chico like daily walks. April is so observant. She finds the smallest insects on our explorations.
I was able to secure us a week-long camping permit for the Buchanan State Forest in Pennsylvania, while we were at Lake Anna. Pennsylvania and some of the state forests in New York, issue permits to camp in designated spots. The permits are free to obtain and simple to secure. We are currently using one here in the Buchanan State Forest this week, next week we are in the Delaware State Forest, and following that we are headed to Hunts Pond in New York. These permit systems have greatly reduced our rent cost for July!
We have been in the Sideling Hill area of Buchanan State Forest since last Friday. Before coming out here we did a quick drive through Washington DC. We had to make a stop at Walmart, but it turned out Walmart in Washington DC is not very practical for skoolies. We did not fit the clearance for the parking garage and Bryon had to put money in three meters when we stopped. It was crazy to drive past national cemeteries and see the Washington Monument from our skoolie. The roads in DC and erratic driving of locals were a bit much for Lucky 13, but Bryon did a great job maneuvering our rig, through the nation’s capital.
We are grateful for this mystical mountain top campsite here in Pennsylvania. The gravel road our camp is off of is pristine. We have noticed that there are few cars that travel this rode. The game warden said that this area is pretty quiet, until hunting season, as you can’t ATV in this area.
Bryon and I each took solo rides this week and we did one family ride. Yesterday, I was going to ride to the turn around at the end of Summit Rd and thought I heard a large animal going through the forest. It may have been a woodchuck, but in the dense forest I could not be sure. I turned back to our camp. Bryon rode shortly after me. He saw a doe and fawn, then came across a black bear in the road.
The kids and I have found fresh coyote scat on our walks and the tail feathers of a hawk. We are among the wild things here. It is wonderful! As chaos continues in the world around us, peace and tranquility is found in our lifestyle, where our home can be here on a forested mountain and one is more likely to come across a bear than another human. Ticks and spider bites are more concerning than COVID-19, with our lifestyle.
After living and working in a very structured fashion, it can be difficult to step back and adapt and be flexible, in our current living and work situation. We all have jobs to do around camp, but now that we work for ourselves our work schedules can vary day to day or week to week. Bryon is better with making sure our bus and the systems in it that make it a home are maintained. The other day he realized our bike rack had a structural issue, and since we are here all week, he was able to contact Alta Racks and they have the replacement part headed to a nearby post office. I am ever thankful for the time he takes to make sure the electrical, propane, and water systems run correctly, and our bus is maintained.
Spending time walking and playing with the kids, building castles out of sticks and stones with April, and riding bike alone or as a family, help all of us slow down and immerse ourselves in the natural world, as we move through our daily tasks. April is extremely interested in the daily tasks we do to keep our home functioning. She likes to watch us split wood. She assisted me in digging our toilet pit, this week. I think this lifestyle is greatly beneficial to our children, especially April, as she sees Bryon and I work hard to make skoolie life go as smoothly as it can for our family.
The life we live may not be ideal for everyone, but it is a great life for us. We will be in this beautiful location until Friday. We can’t wait to see what’s next for us, in this pursuit of wanderlust.