Quick update, Chris had his green card interview last week and was approved !!!
Looking for him to be in TN on a one way ticket between Christmas and new Year !
Cannot wait for him and Daisy to be here for real !!
To keep the blog rolling we are going to try to post about once a month (don’t hold us to it) we thought we would try and share some of our experiences , preferences and general info that others might find useful..
This month is Campgrounds.
Why we prefer State and City Parks over private campgrounds.
There are lots of and lots of campgrounds out there ranging from free to over $100 a night . We started off with private campgrounds at the start of our trip, as we really didn’t know any better. Don’t get us wrong, some of them are very good and some are just appalling, so how do you know. Research ! There are a number of apps out there that are very useful. In particular we used Allstays, Campendium, and Park Advisor. They all post prices, facilities but more importantly reviews by other campers . We have to say they were pretty accurate too.
We also joined Good Sam and KOA, but we have not renewed our membership to either of them. KOA just reminded us of Butlins (if you are a brit you understand, if not Google.). Great for families, but not us. They have lots of facilities, swimming pools, stores, BBQ pits and recreation rooms, all of which you pay for in the cost per night. They also tend to be in built up areas , we prefer more rural locations.
National Parks , not all of them have camping with full hook up , but in general are good campgrounds, well maintained and good prices. Do not be put off by hearsay that they are booked months in advance and you have no chance of getting a spot. Just be persistent, phone ahead and keep trying because there are always cancellations or no shows. We did Yellowstone in July with no prior bookings and stayed in 3 different sites over a 7 day period. Yes, we had to get up early and be waiting at the next campground by 7am in order to secure a walkup spot or befriended rangers or were very persistent on the phone. The upside of moving very early in the morning is the parks are quiet and the wild life abundant, you really get to see the very best sights, especially at Yellowstone.
Just an FYI, often private campgrounds near major attractions are over priced and poorly maintained. Anyone that has ever stayed at Carlsbad Caverns will know this !
State Parks range in price from $10 – $25/night. Most have electric and water hook up with a dump site. But always research ahead of time, so you know what to expect. They are generally very quiet sites and the best views/surroundings. All of them have something worth going to see.
City Parks, we had never heard of these until probably about 1⁄2 way though our trip, boy that was a mistake. These can range from full hook up to nothing. Again, full hook up generally cost around $25 (compared to KOA etc which charge upwards of $50) but there are some free ones too. Research is the key word. As the name suggests they are always in towns and cities, rarely anything spectacular but generally in a nice area in a park or by a river.
Free Camping, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Cracker Barrel and Casino’s (most) allow free overnight parking in their carparks, just check with the store as it changes from State to State. We stayed in a few of these, but always asked permission, purchased goods from the stores and one night only. Just don’t abuse it. You can also stay in some rest areas but again check.
Harvest Hosts. This is a membership group for $40 /yr. But worth every penny of it. Hosts of Vineyards, Farms, Museums etc allow you to camp on their property. Most of the time you will be the only one there and they are generally very pretty. But normally no hook ups. Again don’t abuse the privilege and always talk to the owners and if possible purchase some produce. We stayed on Vineyards, an Alpaca Farm and a Cider Brewery.
Another good source of info is Facebook. There are several RV/Camping pages on there with a fountain of knowledge.
Love,Peace and Equality
So here we are in June 2018 , Chris has been here since May 4 and will stay until the end of July . First the good news. Green card application has been approved. That means someone has actually looked at and we can proceed forward with interviews and medical etc !!
So what have we been up to ? I am working still and Chris has been helping out a friend with some remodeling. Winnie has had 2 trips out so far. Nashville to see the Foo Fighters and to Cumberland Mountain State Park for a long weekend. Hoping to get some trips in but life seems to be taking over !
Chris is currently at home replacing our back deck
And we are in the process of repainting the house. Why oh why did we start this. This is Tennessee in June !! 90 degrees and 90% humidity!!! But it will look fab when done !! So I keep telling ourselves.
We have had a few nights out downtown Knoxville , Bearden Beer Market and went to Knoxville Pride last weekend. Absolutely Fabulous!
So that is our summer so far. We will keep you updated on the Green Card process and anything else that may happen !!
Love Peace and Equality
Sam and Chris xxxx
So, we have been back for 4 months now, figured it was time for an update on where we are and what’s going on.
Chris is back in UK, he went back at the beginning of November. He moved into a tiny house (as I call it, he says it’s a shed !!!) in Hastings. After lounging around for a few weeks, he got himself a job as Groundsman for a Country Estate, Leyswood House in East Sussex. He is slowly restoring the grounds to their former glory. Chris actually grew up here, so is familiar with the property and the gardens.
I am still in TN USA and also had a few weeks of lounging around (not really, but the job I was promised did not come to fruition). But I now work for CBWW as office manager for a brand-new office located at Northshore and Pellissippi. It has been fun building up an office from the ground, doing everything from ordering paperclips to recruiting agents. In 2 weeks we have our official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony! Adam is the broker of the new office, he was back-up broker at the Bearden office, we get on very well, which is fortunate as most of the time, right now, it is just the two of us in the office. This office is a new concept for CBWW, it will have agents assigned to this office, but no individual office space. There are 10 offices/conference rooms that any CBWW agent can come in use for meetings, work, printing etc. It is designed for the mobile agent.
The kids and I did go back to the UK for Christmas and New Year. We had a great time catching up with Family. I think it was the first time since 2008 that my mum had all the grandchildren, children and spouses together ! Naturally she got very emotional !
Living 4000 miles apart is hard, especially after travelling together for 6 months and getting married. But the Green card application is in, still awaiting assignment to an officer ???(Immigration received it in November) So we just have to be patient and hope it takes months rather than years!
And for those that know me, hate politics, but events over the past year have propelled me forward to act and RESIST !!!!
In family news, I have had both of my kids move back home, new jobs etc. So it was a bit of a squash at one point. Rebecca and Jewelia were in the basement and Steve upstairs . But now they are all moving out, having found apartments of their own. Just need to clear my garage of all their “stuff” now! Rebecca has found a job she adores, teaching assistant for special needs children. We never thought she would go into teaching, but the world works in mysterious ways. Stephen is working for a logistics company in Knoxville and loves it. It is so satisfying when your children are happy in their work.
Chris’ two are both still in Crowborough. Although Steph will be off to France in May once again. She goes over every summer to work for Euro camp. Matt is still climbing and travelling. Chris is planning on coming over for the summer starting in May, so if anyone knows of a cheap way to ship belongings and a dog over, please let us know !
Love and Peace
Sam and Chris xxxxx
October 17th we headed across Florida to Shell Mound, Ceder Key. This state park contains a shell mound that was built up over a 1000 year period. between 1,800 and 400 years ago, native people created the mound by discarding the shells of oysters and clams. Here we stayed at the state park and had the whole campground to ourselves.
October 19th found us at the beach for 6 days , Gulf Shores Alabama. Beautiful beaches but not a lot else. But I love the beach so I was happy !
Huge campground at Gulf State Park , lots of good walks though with some wildlife.
Voodoo Festival and New Orleans marked the last weekend of our trip 😦 But what a way to end , brilliant music from some much loved bands, Foo Fighters, The Killers, The Head and the Heart . But discovered some great new music, in particular Black Pistol Fire from Austin TX. Who I would call old school guitarist, totally immersed in his music. Loved it !
So there ends our amazing trip, 20304 miles, 177 Days, 48 states and $1000 under budget
I have been asked so many times “What was your favorite thing?” I have thought and thought about this and cannot come up with one single place or event. There were so many great moments, beautiful places and amazing sights. Chris and I both fell in love with the Oregon Coast, YellowStone NP was incredible, the festivals were so much fun and all without a single argument .
So begins our new journey together even though we are 5000 miles apart again. Chris had to return to England as his visa ran out. But the Green Card process has been started and hopefully it won’t be too long before we can be together again .
If anyone has any thoughts on doing a trip like this, we would thoroughly recommend it. Don’t put it off , you never know what is around the corner! This is truly an amazing country with so much to offer, go grab it whilst you can .
So today is our last night on the road. Just had a great last weekend in New Orleans at Voodoo Festival. Saw some great bands. News and photos of the last couple of weeks to follow in a few days when we are back and sorted. It’s been a blast !!!!
So a few things have happened since my last blog, the biggest one being WE GOT MARRIED ! What a great day, but more about that later.
Sept 30. We headed into Homestead just south of Miami, with easy access into the Everglades, Biscayne Bay and The Keys. On the way we stopped in at Loggerhead Marine Rescue Center, Chris finally saw some live turtles, I think he was beginning to think I was pulling his leg about seeing turtles.
In Homestead we set up camp for the next 4 nights in an expensive, lets nickel and dime the campers, RV park. But after Irma there is not a lot of choice. Miami does not look too badly affected, lots of vegetation blow down etc , but not much structural damage. The place that did look bad were the middle Keys. Anyway next day we visited Everglades NP #56, but guess what no wildlife, no gators , nothing ! Apparently most of the wildlife has headed further inland as the salt water level in the glades got too high. So sadly no photos to show but grass and water .
Monday Oct 2 , hired a car and took off with Cole to The Keys. Driving though all the keys it was evident which one got hit the worst, boats, RV’s, vegetation and household appliances just piled up everywhere. We have never been in a disaster zone before, it was quite eye opening.
Fortunately Key West had very little damage and we had a wonderful 24 hrs there, in a great Inn. Douglas House Inn, where we had a whole suite to ourselves completely separate from the rest of the Inn and right off Duvall Street.
Monday Oct 5th, We rented a house in Miami in Hollywood, all the kids are coming in along with very good friends of ours for 5 days. Steph and Matt flew in from England , Bex, Jewelia, Deb and Lissa drove down from TN and Steve flew in on Tuesday. We had a great house with a pool , lovely to see everyone and catch up. So next few days were spent at the beach, in the pool and generally enjoying each others company. All in preparation for a wedding on Wednesday !
We had originally thought we would get married on the beach, but it was so windy we stayed at the house and had a great time with family and friends finishing off with a pool party ! Thank you to all those who helped make our day very special.
Next couple of days were spent mooching around Miami and generally having a good time . Had fun on a Duck Tour and got soaked out in the bay when it decided to bucket down with rain. On Friday 13th we went deep sea fishing.
Chris was the only one who caught anything, King Mackerel , it was delicious !
So now all the family and friends have left , Chris and I have one more night in the house until we return to our mobile home. Tomorrow we start the final leg of our trip and the first part of our new journey together, heading up to the Florida Pan Handle, Alabama , Louisiana and Mississippi .
Lots of Love
Mr and Mrs Tullis xx