Much has happened since we left 5KNOTS in Saint Marys. Our original thinking is that we would not need our own vehicle while living on Land. However, the cost of having to rent a car or book a flight would become to expensive in a hurry. So we decided to look for an inexpensive, reliable vehicle that would take us where we wanted to go and also double as a portable storage locker.

We did the normal stuff like checking Craig’s List and hitting all the used car lots that we could find. Not having a mini-van in mind for our retirement vehicle (what happened to the sports car), we looked at other options. But after looking at the mini-vans, we knew this is what we needed. So now we have a mini-van and are in the process of locating Soccer Mom, I Love my  Schnauzer, and my kid can Beat Up Your Honor Roll Student stickers to decorate it.

So with our new ride, we set off for Maryland to spend some time visiting our son Nick and daughter Melissa and her family, Charles and Wesley. As always it was wonderful visiting everybody and spending time with our Grandson. While in Annapolis we made the usual rounds and gobbled up a few crab cakes in the process.

After returning from Annapolis. we decided to spend the next couple of weeks camping. Gary, our old sailing instructor had been camping in North Carolina at the Pisgah National Forest. We decided to meet halfway and spent the night camping in Hot Springs, NC. Forgetting that we had sold all of our camping tents, we borrowed one from our brother in law. I had suggested several times that maybe we should set it up before heading off but Renee just knew that all the poles would be in the bag. Well guess what, the poles and fly were missing. Thankfully, Gary had this extra tent that just straps on the back of the car/van that we used. This along with our Queen size blowup mattress, we slept great. Having liked the tent and figuring that we could benefit by having one, we decided to get one to keep in the van (you never know when you might need it).

We had previously made arrangements to meet up with Renee’s Uncle Ronnie at Mammoth Cave National Park, KY for a few nights of more camping. For this trip we decided to borrow a different tent, this time from Renee’s sister and pre-staged it before making our way out. This insured two things, all the pieces were there and we would know how to set it up in the event we would arrive at camp after dark.

After a few days at Mammoth Cave, we took off for Big South Fork, TN for a few more days of camping (https://www.nps.gov/biso/index.htm). While at Big South Fork, we went on several hikes and listened to a Ranger lead program on Black Bears. Interestingly, the Black Bears had previously been hunted into extinction in this area. It wasn’t until about 20 years ago that the Black Bear was reintroduced into the park.

The park service relocated 23 bears from the Great Smoky Mountains into Mammoth Cave NP and records show that they are thriving. To date, the total bear population in the park is around 300 and all animals are healthy.

We are now back in Tennessee planning our next adventure!