Over the years we’ve had our own unexplained ghostly adventures… like our time spent at Bodie State Historic Park (CA). Bodie is a modern-day ghost town. When the California State Park system took over Bodie, it left all the buildings as they stood. This is one of the most unforgettable places we have ever been. There is so much history there it consumes you. You can almost feel towns folk walking along the street beside you. Peering through windows you feel invisible eyes staring back. It is a must-see for anyone visiting the Eastern Sierras.

Another place to note is Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield (MO). This was the first major Civil War battle west of the Mississippi. The park is a five-mile driving tour and you are literally driving back through time. In fact, at one point I think I really did! I had gotten out of the truck at one stop to take a photo of two cannons in a field and when I walked past the first cannon I was overcome with chills. I assumed it was from stepping out of the air-conditioning into the ninety-plus degree heat. But after I took a photo of the farthest cannon, I walked back to the first and I got chills and goosebumps again. I stepped toward the cannon to take a photo and swear I heard someone shout “NO” in my ear. Boy, did I hustle myself back to the safety of the Silverado!

Although we have visited Pensacola Lighthouse (FL) several times, we returned to visit last year to see the lighthouse decorated for Christmas. Even though the lighthouse is haunted, I didn’t see the Ghost of Christmas Past – but I did feel a section of cool air as I entered the Keeper’s room. The last time I visited there had a similar experience in that area. And on the previous visit I had also felt someone watching me in the basement. So even after telling myself I wasn’t going in the basement this last visit, I did. However, they had a clothed dummy sitting at the desk at the base of the stairs and it startled me so much I jumped backwards onto the steps again!

Then there was the time we planned a trip to see Appomattox Court House National Historic Park (VA). Those a little dusty with their history may recall the name but not the significance of the location. This was the surrender grounds, where Generals Lee and Grant put an end to the Civil War. The building where this historic moment occurred, the McLean House, still stands. After touring the house we went outside to one of the other buildings. No sooner had we stepped through the doorway when we found ourselves quickly stepping back outside. Hard to explain why we all got goosebumps, but it just felt very wrong in there. We resumed our tour of the park and enjoyed the other buildings without problem. At least for a little while…I have a tendency to lag behind as I read every plaque and take a number of photos. We were visiting the new jail and the other two were already heading outside while I was alone upstairs. I was snapping a few photos of the window when I felt a chill. Looking down I saw I had goosebumps again. I shrugged it off until I heard a cough come from the cell. Then I headed down the stairs as quickly as I could!

But the eeriest thing happened just a few weeks ago while touring the USS Alabama (AL). The battleship is about seven hundred feet long from stem to stern and if you take the self-guided tours it will take about two hours. Parts of the ship were rather warm and stuffy and I quickly found myself finishing the tour alone. Although there were other people touring the ship, I managed to always stay a room or two apart. I was getting a little dehydrated and just poked my head in a few rooms to quickly finish that section of the tour. As I looked in one room, an officer’s quarters I believe, I noted the typewriter on the desk and was about to head to the next room when I heard the sound of an old typewriter. It was just two keystrokes. My first thought was that another room nearby had some sort of voiced display and a visitor had activated it. So I quickly continued with the tour. But after I finished that section of the tour, I saw there was nothing like that. Where did that distinctive sound come from?

Sometimes when you visit historic sites you get more awareness of history than you paid admission for… ;)

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Northstar Mine Museum

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Northstar Mine Museum

Looking back…

In the Fall of 2008 we were fortunate to be exploring California’s Gold Country. One day trip had us visiting the Northstar Mine Powerhouse Museum in Grass Valley (CA). The museum had hundreds of exhibits, including a stamp mill and the largest Pelton Wheel ever constructed.

Along the self-guided tour, I remember thinking how difficult it must have been to work with the huge and often dangerous equipment during the mining process. A hazardous profession dedicated to finding a little lump of glittery color.

After an hour in the museum I was glad to be outside again and cross the bridge to the little picnic area. It was a pleasant day to just sit there and soak up the golden sun.

Today I turn on the television and see others using similar method, once again in search of a little speck of gold. Funny how we have a way of falling back into history.

If you don’t have any plans for today, don’t forget that entrance fees to U.S. National Park are waived on September 27, 2014 in honor of Public Lands Days. Or mark your calendar for the last fee-free date of the year – November 11, 2014 (Veterans Day). During these times, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Gulf Island National Seashore

No, it’s not snow! Just sugary white sand along the Gulf Coast. :)

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Flag at Cape San Blas

Can you believe that the last of the Big Three (July Fourth, Memorial Day, Labor Day) summer holidays is already here?! For most folks, this is the last time they will head to that favorite camping spot until next summer. Whatever your plans are this Labor Day weekend… safe travels!


Rotating PVC-Pipe Flag Poles

Smaller Flags for RV Parks

Photography book of our journeys 2007-2012

A THOUSAND WORDS: Photos from life on-the-road by HS Cooper is now available in ebook format for only 99 cents! The softcover version is now available at Amazon.com.


Saw this while sightseeing in Gulf Shores (AL) today. I think the poor octopus was so worried about Shark Week that it broke out in spots! The store really knows how to grab your attention though! ;)

Today’s view…

Although there was plenty to see today, I found myself gazing at the clouds.

Looking back…

In the Fall of 2009 we found ourselves in the Blue Ridge Mountains (Virginia). There are several recreational areas tucked away in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. One hidden gem is Cave Mountain Lake Recreation Area.

We were exploring the back-roads and looking for some autumn foliage when we discovered this scenic lake. The weather was cool and there was very little Fall color in the area. The park was weeks away from closing for the season and had only a few day visitors during our stay. We opted to take a brief hike and found that the park was abundant with wildlife.

Places like this gets lost on us at times and it makes one wonder how many hidden gems have been passed by…


The third book in my Campground Mystery series, DYING TO WORK CAMP, is now available online! The first two books in the series, A ‘CLASS A’ STASH and THE PROPANE GAME are also available in softcover, hardcover and PDF format. And don’t forget my book A THOUSAND WORDS: Photos from life on-the-road is now available in softcover from Amazon.com!

Summer pass you by? There are a two upcoming holidays to take advantage of our U.S. National Parks “fee-free” – one in August and one in September. During these times, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply. For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website. The next “fee-free” holiday will be in November.

August 25, 2014
(National Park Service Birthday)

September 27, 2014
(Public Lands Day)

While driving along Hwy. 98 the other day, we discovered the Baldwin Country Heritage Museum in Elberta (AL). If you find yourself in the region you will definitely want to find time to stop in.

The museum offers a variety of indoor exhibits as well as outbuildings and farming equipment. Outbuildings include a general store, old schoolhouse, church, blacksmith shop, potato shed and pole barn. The goal of the museum is to share and preserve the cultural heritage of the community. They do a wonderful job of showcasing the variety of crops and specialties of region – from potatoes and oysters to turpentine and honey.

 The museum is currently open Wednesday – Saturday and has free admission (although donations are appreciated to keep things running). Parking is adequate for a tow vehicle; however, if the museum is busy, you may find trouble parking the Big Rig.

For more information you can visit their page at FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/BCHeritageM

If you have ever been traveling on I-10 through Alabama, then you have probably seen the USS Alabama as you crossed Mobile Bay. Next time you are in the area, make sure you have time to stop and visit this amazing ship and all the exhibits at Battleship Memorial Park.

The battleship is huge! It is just under 700 feet long from stem to stern and if you take all three self-guided tours (red, green and yellow) it will take you two hours. And believe me, after you tour the USS Alabama, you can skip the gym for a week… or two! It requires a great deal of climbing to tour the entire ship. There are some great exhibits on board and one item to note is a piece of the USS Arizona.

After you tour the battleship there is a path that leads to the aircraft pavilion. Inside are several exhibits, including a piece of brick from the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Also on the property is the USS Drum, which is the oldest American submarine on display in the world. This submarine is actually on land and you have to go up several flights of stairs to tour it. Make sure you save some energy to tour the USS Drum because it well worth it!

The property also includes a gift shop and small restaurant. Outside exhibits vary – from aircraft to tanks. There is a nice picnic area along the bay, as well as a pier.

The cost of admission to tour the USS Alabama, USS Drum and aircraft pavilion  is $15 for adults and $13 for seniors. Parking is $2 to enter Battleship Memorial Park. There is adequate RV parking. If you don’t have the time to tour the vessels or can’t walk/climb, you can pay the nominal parking fee and still see them from the park.

For more additional information and hours, you can visit their website at: http://www.ussalabama.com/visitor_info.php

Traveling through Alabama today and found ourselves along a rainy stretch of highway.

If you find yourself near Milton (FL), not far from I-10 is the West Florida Railroad Museum. This is a great little stop if you have the time. The museum area occupies an old freight and passenger depot that was built in the early 1900s at the site of the original 1882 depot. They have several cars in their collection, including dining cars, flat car, box cars, former Pullman sleeper and two cabooses. They also have a model railroad building, an outdoor scale railroad and gift shop.

The museum is free to the public, but does rely on donations to stay open. It is operated by volunteers so the museum is only open on Fridays and Saturdays. Parking is limited and there is no room to park a RV – so if you go, take the tow!

For directions and hours, please visit their website at: http://wfrm.org/index.html

Severe weather shouldn’t be taken lightly in a recreational vehicle. If placed in a situation to evacuate your RV – either from a weather alert warning or a mandatory evacuation order – there are a few basic things to keep in a central location where they can be accessed quickly.

  • Personal identification
  • Emergency and contact information
  • All monies
  • Medicines needed
  • Eyeglasses or hearing aids
  • Insurance papers
  • Camera
  • Cell phone, charger and spare batteries
  • Flash/thumb drives with important files or photos
  • Computer with wireless access (notebook, tablet)
  • Two days clothing
  • First aid and toiletry kits
  • Flashlights
  • Battery operated radio
  • Spare batteries
  • Bottled water
  • Energy bars or snacks
  • Canned meat/fruit
  • Pet food
  • Pet medication

If you know you are going into an area that has a history of hurricanes, tornadoes or other severe weather, you should consider putting some emergency items in a plastic tote ahead of time – like flashlights and batteries. Make up a list (laminate and tape inside one of your RV cabinets) of items to grab in the event of an emergency evacuation. Have some canvas bags or backpacks handy for each family member to quickly place additional or last moment evacuation items in.

If you are asked by authorities to evacuate – do it! They know more about the current situation or conditions than you do.


Wind storms are not to be taken lightly in a RV. The damage from a storm can leave your area isolated for long periods, especially since most campground locations are outside main power grids. Preparation should be taken as soon as weather advisories go into effect.

  • Monitor weather alerts
  • Contact campground personal and other Campers so that everyone is advised
  • Discuss emergency shelter locations
  • Speak to other Campers about leaving as a group for the shelter if the storm worsens before hitting your area
  • Tie down any furniture or obstacles that could damage other campers
  • Put your awning up and secure it with cable snap ties, do not rely on standard awning latches
  • Consider putting your slides in, especially if you have double slides in the back
  • Fill all your propane and extra fuel tanks
  • Test your generator for several minutes
  • Purchase extra batteries for all your equipment
  • Check the condition of your camper battery, obtain a backup if needed
  • Empty your holding tanks
  • Gather appropriate items and a shelter bag if you do need to evacuate
  • Prepare non-perishable foods that can be fixed quickly and not waste propane when the power goes out
  • Contact family outside the area and let them know you may be without communication for a few days

If you decide to ride out the storm, keep your battery-operated radio handy. After the storm has passed and it is clear to go outside, check on your fellow Campers.  Remember only to call 911 if there is a life threatening emergency, as local lines will be busy.


If your area is under a severe thunderstorm warning then conditions are favorable for tornadoes and you should prepare to seek shelter. If your area is under any tornado alert, then you must seek shelter quickly. In the unfortunate circumstance that your area is under a hurricane watch or warning, then you need to prepare to evacuate. Areas under hurricane watch still receive storm bands possible of generating tornadoes. Hurricanes alerts give you several days warning. As soon as the advisories go into effect, start preparing!

  • Monitor weather alerts
  • Contact campground personal and other Campers
  • Discuss emergency shelter locations and evacuation routes
  • Speak to other Campers about leaving as a group for the local shelter
  • Obtain cash from the local ATM or bank as they will be shut down well before the hurricane hits
  • Purchase non-perishable foods that can be eaten from a can or pouch
  • Put your awning up and secure it with cable snap ties, do not rely on standard awning latches
  • Put your slides in
  • Anchor down any obstacles that could damage other campers
  • Cover up anything outside that may get damaged from the rain and winds with new tarps (not used ones, they will shred quickly)
  • Tape a “X” with masking tape on all your windows as debris from the hurricane-force winds can shatter windows
  • Fill all your propane and extra fuel tanks (do not forget to label them with your name or campsite number)
  • Test your generator for several minutes
  • Check the condition of your camper battery, obtain a backup if needed
  • Empty your holding tanks and fill your water tank
  • Contact family outside the area and let them know you will be evacuating and the name of the local shelter(s)
  • Gather appropriate items for your shelter stay

When the time comes, seek shelter! Material items can be replaced, lives cannot. After the storm is over and officials allow you to return, then begin to survey your damage. Many people do not realize that when there is a major power outage, gas and propane stations cannot pump without electricity. Cash is also a necessity as many stores will be cash-only until power is restored. Living in storm aftermath can be a very stressful time. Just be thankful for what you have and try to move forward.


If conditions in your area are favorable for flooding or wild fires, then you will possibly have to seek shelter quickly.  Make sure you take the appropriate precautions and locate the nearest evacuation route if you are able to leave with your RV. If officials ask you to gather a few items and leave your RV, then do it. Grab your evacuation kit and follow their instructions. Do not risk your life over your RV or vehicle. Sadly, we know of Campers who have tried and lost.


Spending several days in a shelter is not easy and the conditions are not always favorable. As a visitor to the area you should be respectful. It is a horrifying experience for the locals – they are worried about losing their houses and livelihoods. When the storm is over, you can move on. Please do not rely on charitable organizations for food or other items. These organizations need to focus on those who have lost everything or those who have no means to obtain food or clothing. Take responsibility for your own family and allow the organizations to help those truly in need. Most shelters do not provide you with cots, blankets or food. Be respectful and do not drag in all your camping toys. Just take basic items you need, such as a modest camping chair, sleeping bag, non-perishable food and your evacuation kit. If you go with other Campers, make arrangements to share some items to ease the burden.

My family and I have weathered hurricanes, wind storms, tornado alerts, a winter storm and the threat of wild fires in our RV. We have spent days at a shelter and lived weeks in storm aftermath. It is not always easy, yet with the proper preparation you can live to tell your own storm tales!

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Garden Fountain

Looking back…

During the start of Summer 2010, we found ourselves on-the-road. In need of a break we decided to stop at a few of our favorite places in Louisiana. Unfortunately, while we were there, the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico occurred. This changed some of our plans, as coastal communities were busy with rescue, cleanup and media crews.

There was still plenty to see and do, from gardens and casinos to exploring the back roads. We even managed to partake in our first crawdad “buffet”. Which is was quite an event in itself. I never imagined seeing adults wearing bibs and gloves, eating buckets of crawdads! But that is one of the cool things about being a Full-Time RVer… detours are no obstacle and new experiences are always welcomed. :)

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Hard to believe the Fourth of July is just around the corner! Some of my favorite Fourth’s have been while RVing. One year we toured Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. It was a beautiful summer day until it began rain. It was muddy and slippery, yet we reminded ourselves that conditions weren’t always “ideal” for those who died and fought for the freedoms that make America great.

And most recently we had a wonderful visit to Fort McHenry National Monument. The fort and grounds have a fascinating history… and the Battle of Baltimore in 1814 was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner!

So no matter what type of memories you are making this holiday, please have a safe Fourth of July and remember those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedoms!

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Backed-in

Backed-in and ready to get some rest and relaxation for awhile…

hmm… now where did we pack that grill? ;)

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Rain on I-85

We found ourselves in a severe thunderstorm this afternoon. That will save a trip to the truck wash! ;)

We were on I-85 when we heard an odd noise. Looked in the mirrors and saw our fender torn and hanging off, while chucks of tire were flapping about. Something on the road must have hit the tire. Got the rest of the fender off without damaging the rig more… but boy, oh boy, do we have a mess to buff out from that rubber! Anyway… traffic was going over 80 mph and it was unsafe to be in the rig. So we waited alongside the highway in 96 degree temps until the road service could come out.

Even though states have laws regarding getting over for disabled vehicles, not one vehicle did for us! I can’t believe how thoughtless people are on the roadways these days. Kudos to Eddie the repair guy for braving that speeding traffic while working under our rig. He even guided us in to the local Goodyear dealer so we could replace the spare with a new tire. Fortunately we are safe… buffing and ordering a new fender is not a problem. Easy fixes compared to our safety. 

For those who follow TMN, you probably recall our May Day blow-outs on I-35 and I-30 several years ago and know we are experienced at replacing tires and fenders. We just wished Cedar Creek would discount the fenders since we buy them annually. HAHA ;)

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © B&O Civil War display

If you find yourself in Baltimore, make sure you plan a visit to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum. This is the birthplace of American railroading! They have some of the oldest railroad equipment on display that truly transport you back to early days of railroading.

During the time of our visit, they were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a special exhibit “The War Came By Train”. A very interesting series of displays from different views.

Although we have been to bigger train and transportation museums, this one stands-out with the incredible roundhouse. A must-see for train enthusiasts.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©Roundhouse

In addition to the numerous trains and rolling stock on display, there is also a model train gallery, working model train exhibits, dining ware exhibit, clock and code exhibit, snack bar and gift shop. In addition, you can ride the train for one mile.

Admission to the museum is rather high and unfortunately we went during an event and it was even higher. So call ahead to make sure it’s standard admission. The train ride is an additional charge, although I honestly wouldn’t recommend this because the view is very disappointing.

Parking is free. They advertise RV and Bus Parking, but the museum is located in a section of town filled with one-way and tight-cornered streets. We found ample parking for our dually in Lot B. So make sure you have a map in the event your GPS fails to keep up with the web of streets.

For more information: www.borail.org

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©B&O Exhibit

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HS Cooper

HS Cooper

Full-Time RVer - Writer - Blogger

A THOUSAND WORDS: Photos from life on-the-road

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