Have a Happy Easter!

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Fort McHenry NM – Star-Spangled Banner

To kick off U.S. National Park week, the National Park Service is waving entrance fees. In addition, some other special offers may apply this weekend.

April 19-20, 2014
(U.S. National Park Week Begins)

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 © I-95 North

For some reason… everyone wants to got northbound this time of year! Although they shouldn’t be in a hurry. I think we didn’t get past 5 mph in a few sections of it. ;)

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Oh Pedro!

Yes, we got lured in by the tacky statues and cheap souvenirs… ;)

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Picnic Stop

Taking a break from busy I-10 to grab some lunch… as you can see from the reflection in our rig, we weren’t the only Campers chowing down. :)

 

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Rain Delay

We were planning on putting some major mileage in today, but Mother Nature had other plans. Flooding and severe storms in the region have us staying inside and watching the Travel Channel instead. The summer adventure will just have to wait a day… or two. :)

 

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Fort Barrancas drawbridge

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Fort Barrancas drawbridge

If you find yourself near Pensacola (FL) make sure you plan a day for Fort Barrancas. The fort is actually part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, however, it is located on the Pensacola Naval Air Station. Admission to the fort is free, although citizens need to show proper photo ID at the entrance gate.

Fort Barrancas has a fascinating history. A shot fired by a guard at the fort on January 8, 1861 is sometimes considered the very first shot of the American Civil War! The fort and other structures there were built by different groups over time. There is a great deal of history to step into… or see-through… did I mention the Confederate ghost? ;)

The area also consists of the Spanish Water Battery (Bateria de San Antonio) which has an underground passage from the fort. The tunnel section from the fort to the water battery is very dark and steep, so make sure you are wearing sturdy shoes. The fort itself is very dark in sections and you may want to carry a flashlight with you while exploring. The Spanish Water Battery has several steps going up (although you don’t need to climb them to appreciate the view).

There are also trails and a picnic area near the visitor center. And an additional treat is the view at the Overlook of Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island across Pensacola Bay!

A short distance down the road is the Advanced Redoubt. The Redoubt is unique for the time period because it was designed solely for resisting a land-based assault.

Parking at the fort is limited; however, there is a small area dedicated for RV/bus parking. The fort and visitor center is only open on Saturdays. The Advanced Redoubt has more parking and is open daily. Tours of Fort Barrancas and the Advanced Redoubt are scheduled on Saturdays.

For more information visit: http://www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/fort-barrancas.htm and http://hscooper.wordpress.com/photos/florida/national-museum-of-naval-aviation/

 

As Full-Time RVers, we are always concerned about severe weather. Although RVs can withstand moderate winds, they are not intended to be used for shelter in any type of severe storm.

And early this morning we had a wake-up call from our NOAA weather radio indicating we were in a Tornado Watch. We were sound asleep and had no clue what the weather was doing outside. Thankfully the radio’s high shrill alerted us to severe weather conditions.

All Campers should invest in a NOAA weather radio or weather alert radio. A nice handheld radio with wall adapter and back-up batteries can be purchased for around $20 and in case a storm Watch or Warning is issued, you will have the latest information. Don’t solely rely on a phone app for weather alerts.

If you are staying in an area prone to severe weather or possible flooding then you should find out where it is best to seek shelter or what evacuation route is closest. Make sure you know where to go and have a little family meeting. Even if you are just on a week vacation, discussing a plan with your family for just five minutes could end up saving your lives.

Ask the campground staff if they notify their campers about severe weather alerts and what they advise campers to do in stormy situations. Some campgrounds may recommend their restroom or recreation buildings for shelter. Many have concrete buildings that would be a solid structure to go to if there isn’t time, such as in the case of a tornado. But if you have time and know that severe weather will affect your area, make sure you seek an official shelter.

If you are in an area that observes Daylight Savings Time, don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour tonight before you go to sleep. Let’s just hope Mother Nature springs forward too! :)

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © BRIDGEPORT

Looking back…

Doing a little Spring cleaning (okay, someone is really optimist for Spring around here!) and came across a collection of glittery vials from the summer we panned for gold along the South Yuba River.

Bridgeport covered bridge across the South Yuba River, just outside Penn Valley (CA), is definitely a must see when visiting Gold Country. Gold panning (“pans and hands”) is allowed along this stretch of the river. A wonderful place for a relaxing day trip, the South Yuba River State Park offers visitors hiking trails, visitor’s center, picnic area and restrooms. A short walk from the main parking area you will find an old cemetery and barn exhibit (with old wagons).

While you are there, stop in to the visitor’s center and pick up a gold pan kit and try it yourself! The volunteers and park officials will be happy to provide you with information on the technique. You will be amazed to see that the water under the bridge is literally glittering with gold flakes! Of course, it’s not enough to buy a new RV, but you’ll find your day at the Yuba priceless. :)

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © SOUTH YUBA RIVER

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © The Niña and the Pinta

Earlier today we made a trip to see the Niña and the Pinta docked in Perdido Key (FL). Unfortunately between the heavy rain and limited over-sized parking, we weren’t able to visit the ships. I did manage to get a photo of them as we crossed the bridge off the island. We saw the Niña several years ago along the Atlantic coast, yet we thought it would be fun to see it again.

The Niña is a replica of the ship Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492. The Pinta, a newer ship, is actually larger than the original design.

For more information on the ships and their port schedule, visit their website: http://www.thenina.com/

Maybe we will cross paths with them again as we travel the U.S. :)

Despite that ice-age loving Groundhog’s predictions, the weather had been pretty nice here. But wait! Another night of cold temperatures made its way to Florida. Thankfully it was no where near the freezing temperatures we had just a few short weeks ago. Imagine our surprise yesterday when we were traveling on eastbound I-10 only to be diverted off the interstate near Milton because of ice. Fortunately Highway 90 parallels the interstate, but traffic was still very slow and it took us an additional hour and half travel-time.

When they started forecasting snow on the local weather, I turned the TV off. We are in Florida, it doesn’t snow in Florida. It’s the Sunshine State, after all! And millions of Snowbirds flock here every winter to get away from the snowy North. So I thought those weather folks were just a little nuts.

Then the temperature dropped… and the rain came… the ice cold rain… and then it turned to sleet… and while we were sleeping, it turned to snow. Yes, snow in Florida. And it’s not melting… it’s staying around for a while according to our frozen thermometer. And everything is shut down for a couple of days because of icy conditions.

I sure hope that Groundhog comes popping out wearing a Speedo on February 2nd (Groundhog’s Day)! ;)

 

If you plan on visiting one of the many beautiful Florida State Parks* the Sunshine State has to offer this year, there are a couple of dates to keep in mind.

September 8, 2014 is International Literacy Day. On this day, admission is free to anyone who shows their library card or donates a new/gently-used family-appropriate book at the park.

November 11, 2014 is Veterans Day and admission is free at all the parks.

For more information or to locate a park near you, visit the Florida State Park website .

*Skyway Fishing Pier State Park does not participate in either of these dates.

If you don’t have a yearly pass to your local U.S. National Park, then mark your calendar for at least one of these fee-free dates. During these times, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

January 20, 2014
(Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)

February 15-17, 2014
(Presidents Day Weekend)

April 19-20, 2014
(U.S. National Park Week Begins)

August 25, 2014
(National Park Service Birthday)

September 27, 2014
(Public Lands Day)

November 11, 2014
(Veterans Day)

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

 And please don’t forget to support some of your local and non-profit attractions in 2014! :)

Fort Morgan State Historic Park is just west of Gulf Shores (AL) and overlooks Mobile Bay. The fort was completed in 1834 and was occupied during several wars including the Civil War.

Although most folks might not be familiar with the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, they have probably heard Admiral Farragut’s famous quote, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” From Battery Thomas (near the fort) you can see where the U.S.S. Techumseh sank after it struck a torpedo (mine). A buoy marks its resting place.

This state park is definitely a must-see for history and military buffs. It offers views of the bay and Gulf of Mexico, in addition to a handful of natural gas rigs and Sand Island Lighthouse.

Admission to the park includes the fort, museum-gift shop, outside structures and beach. Current price is $7 for adults and $5 for seniors. There is adequate parking; however to view some of the other structures you need to drive down a gravel road. So it would be better to take your tow vehicle. There is a ferry that can take you from Dauphin Island to/from Fort Morgan; however, weather and tide can effect whether or not they will allow RVs to board.

For directions and visiting hours, visit: http://fortmorgan.org/ 

1) Do you live in a RV for 12 months out of the year?

If you answered YES, continue below. If you answered NO… you must live in a house, apartment or condo for a portion of the year. Sorry, but you aren’t a Full-Time RVer. You are just a Seasonal RVer. But don’t worry, there is hope for you yet! :)

2) Do you have a rental storage facility or a place where you keep items too large or numerous to store in your RV?

If you answered NO, continue below. If you answered YES… then you are not yet ready to be a Full-Time RVer. You may think you are a Full-Timer and can tell people you are but deep down, you really aren’t ready to part with the holiday decorations, extra clothes, “cool” 70s furniture or stuff you bought from yard sales the last 30 years…If you sit down and calculate the current resale value of the items you have in storage and your monthly/annual storage bill, you may find yourself making a trip to the local flea market to sell those “costly” treasures. With the storage gone, you’ll have the money to get those wheels moving and be one step closer to being a real Full-Timer.

3) If you made it this far, CONGRATS! You are a Full-Timer! But let’s see how devoted you are to the lifestyle… Do you periodically find yourself wondering which state you are in?

If you answered YES, continue below. If you answered NO, it sounds like you may be a Full-Timer who is stuck in the same area. Don’t forget that RVs come with wheels!

4) Can you remember the last time you visited an airport, bus or train station and/or the last time you slept in a hotel?

If you answered NO, you are a real Full-Time RVer! CONGRATS! If you answered YES… don’t let any other die-hard Full-Timers know or they’ll tease you! ;)

Had to dig out the heavy-duty winter clothes the last few days thanks to the latest crazy weather system. We even saw freezing temperatures in Florida. The lowest our thermometer read was 24 degrees (F).  Even the Snowbirds were cold! ;)

Just a quick reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV!

And if you are a Full-Time RVer, don’t forgot those yearly check-ups that usually get overlooked like cleaning propane regulators and draining the hot water tank.

Hope 2014 brings you Safe Travels! :)

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Boy, is the white stuff really drifting here… oh wait, that’s sand! ;)

Once again we put up two trees in our fifth-wheel. I blame it on all the souvenir ornaments we buy. Well, that’s my excuse anyway! ;)

Watching the Weather Channel and seeing the States getting snow… oh, I remember what it’s like to winter camp as I sit here with my iced tea watching the pelicans drift by… ;)

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HS Cooper

HS Cooper

Full-Time RVer - Writer - Blogger

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