In the navy we tended to classify port visits to places other than our home station into two categories: liberty ports or working ports. Pretty self explanatory, but that never stopped me from doing so: Liberty ports involved maximum time off the ship for the crew, working ports meant you might get off the ship for a few hours late in the day. Most of our stops in Serenity have been liberty ports this year; aside from basic must do tasks that take up a portion of each day, we have had the luxury of being able to just explore or just lounge for a good portion of each stop. Not so Charleston.
As we have written, The Big Kahuna remains in North Charleston awaiting the rebuilt transmission. When we switched to Serenity, we transferred most but not all of our stuff from the old bus to the new rig. So our four day stop here was intended to check on the bus, do some cleaning, transfer all of the remaining items to Serenity, and then have a bit of time left over to explore Charleston. Turns out there was a lot more work to do than we anticipated.
After research on AllStays.com we secured a spot at Joint Base Charleston, an Air Force dominated facility co-located with the Charleston International Airport. Aside from the great price for a full hook up site, it is located only a few miles from The Big Kahuna’s current repair shop. Less than half of the 45 or so RV sites are available for short term use; all of the nice back in spots in the heavily treed loop are set aside for monthly rentals, and they were all full with a waiting list. In the short term loop there were a still a handful of sites open.
Having arrived on a Sunday after the recreation office closed, it took some exploring and the assistance of an off duty employee who happened by before we could figure out the after hours procedure and find the on duty camp host, but before long we were manuevering toward one the long pull through spots. As we pulled up to a pair of sites we were surprised to see a distinctive big turtle decal on the back of a motorhome right next to one of our options. What are the odds that the motorhome we parked next to in the Savannah visitor center would be at our very next campground? It was a pleasant surprise and we enjoyed chatting with our temporary neighbors about their RV experiences.
The next morning we headed to General Diesel to check on The Big Kahuna, and were pleased to see he was as beautiful as we remembered, far cleaner than we hoped, and though obviously broken down, look to have suffered nothing from the months sitting in the yard. That was the good news. The bad was that we had a lot more stuff still in his storage bins than we remembered, which meant that getting it all into Serenity would be a challenge. At least we found a good number of forgotten supplies stashed in the various cubby holes, so our shopping bill for the next few months would be a tiny bit smaller.
The next few days saw us doing a complete empty, sort, and re-stowage of every single one of Serenity’s compartments, inside and out. The significant number of tools, car/truck care items, fishing poles, and biggest of all, our inflatable boat took up a lot of extra space. On the inside Rosemarie was dealing with the addition of a lot of arts and crafts supplies as well as more than a few glass and kitchenware items. A kind description of our site during his process would be that it looked like a poorly organized yard sale, and I made apologies and promises to the neighbors and camp host that it would be all back to normal in a day or two.
It was a productive and necessary process, forcing us both to reassess how much stuff we had and needed, reorganize it for accessibility, and set aside a group of items to sell or donate. By the time we left Charleston we had already sold $75 of stuff and activated half a dozen Craigslist ads at our next stop in Wilmington. It took pretty much our entire stay there to get organized; we only managed one outing down town to a disappointing bar restaurant at fleet landing. Perhaps next time we are in Charleston we will be able to make it a liberty port.
As for The Big Kahuna, our latest update from the transmission repair facility was no update at all, essentially the same status as a few weeks ago, i.e., they are only a few weeks from completion…