PLEASE NOTE: The following travel “diary” was written in start-and-stop fashion, so you will noticed at times I stop and then continue on days or perhaps weeks later. I wrote it as I would a letter to a friend… no edits… no worries about grammar…
SUMMER May 2007 to October 2007
Well, it is has been a very busy summer as we prepare to actually take the “home” on the road. Our plans are quite simple… head westward! Considering we are in South Florida, along the Atlantic Ocean, I imagine that direction will be more northwest for at least the first part of the journey.
The extra household or “stick house” items we had in storage have been donated or sold. It was a major undertaking. We first started “letting go” of the material clutter about nine months ago. You would think it would be easy to give items away, but it really isn’t. Yet that’s a chapter itself… perhaps I should save it for the autobiography.
It’s official. At least, now it feels that way as the extra vehicle has been sold. Only a couple more days and we will be heading out…
Our first few days on the road were very interesting! We have previously had motor homes and travel trailers, so this was our first real experience (other than driving it from the dealer) with the fifth-wheel. We did fine; it’s just everyone else we had to watch out for! Although we are quickly learning what “Big Rig” means!
We ended up having to boondock in Alabama. It was quite an experience, especially with this heat wave the Southern U.S. has had. And for us Floridians, 90°F+ temps had never been a problem… until you drive away from that lovely Atlantic breeze… our stay in Arkansas was short because of 100°F+ temps. We figure we wouldn’t worry about it – we are bound to come back this way again and hopefully under cooler conditions.
There were a few places we enjoyed (on previous travels) visiting in Oklahoma and decided to revisit. Not much changed… except the condition of the bridges and highways. We had such a rough time on I-40 that several cupboard doors opened and we had to tape them shut! So we scooted through the rest of Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle.
I had always wanted to visit Roswell, New Mexico. So we made sure to spend some time there. Of course, we visited the International UFO Museum, as well as the Roswell Museum and Art Center, the Goddard Planetarium and a few other places. We also experienced our first laser car wash with the big dually truck and saw piranhas for the first time (Funny what you see at a campground!). Overall had a great time, and naturally bought way too many alien and UFO tee shirts!
Made a few other stops in New Mexico and Arizona and marked a few places to return to next time we head this way. On previous trips we had toured most of Arizona, so we didn’t spend as much time in that region this trip.
Another thing we had to do was visit Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Well, we had no idea what it would be like driving to Hoover Dam. For some reason, I always pictured it as a long, straight drive. Nope! Not even close to it! Imagine our surprise when five miles from the dam we get stopped by Homeland Security to inspect our rig. They opened our compartments and went inside. We did have to explain why we carried so much propane (we have a propane generator and keep two extra tanks just for it) and asked about our generator. After a few minutes, we were allowed to continue. (UPDATE: As we understand, you can no longer do this. So I guess it will make our experience even more memorable.)
Let’s see… oh, Lake Mead – just beautiful! Definitely a must see if you find yourself in that region. And Las Vegas, of course, had to go there! Now the amazing thing about Vegas, they have plenty of campgrounds for RVers. We enjoyed Sam’s Town because they have a regular shuttle schedule that takes you to various hotels and casinos along the Strip. It’s a great way to see the city without even having to unhook your tow vehicle. Sam’s Town also has their own casino and hotel in the middle of their two campgrounds. So you can walk over to the casino, catch a movie, pig out at the buffet or shop in one of their many stores on the property.
Naturally, after having visited Roswell… we had to travel northward to the infamous Extraterrestrial Highway. Yes, there really is such a road and believe me, after 50 miles of it, you wish you were abducted! The area is so barren and lonely; no wonder people welcome the aliens!
We stopped in Rachel at the AL’E’INN, a little cafe-slash-gift shop. Souvenirs are rather pricey, but how many places have you been that sell Area 51 stuff? A funny story about the stop – when we walked in, a man at the counter (in the cafe) was asking the waitress if she heard the funny noises and saw the “lights” the previous night. We didn’t know if they were putting on a show for the tourists with the over-sized RV or not. We were disappointed not to see any “Men in Black” vehicles; however, we did see some interesting “signs” (ie. rock piles) by the road where vehicles had drove into the desert. Could those be the roads to Area 51? Hmm…
Made a few stops along the way in Idaho and Oregon. One especially worth mentioning is the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center outside Baker City (OR). We continued northward and found ourselves crossing the Hood River into Washington. We had visited Washington before, but it was a day trip from Oregon, so we were eager to see what Washington had to offer!
We took time to explore Moses Lake and the surrounding cities. Then we spent some time between Quincy and Wenatchee. The apple harvesting was going on during this time (as well as a few other crops) and it was interesting to tour facilities that processed the apples.
Let’s see… oh, we saw the big dam…cowboys… antique malls… Gingko Petrified Forest…Applets and Cotlets (you can visit the factory in Cashmere) and even visited Leavenworth a few times! We especially enjoyed Leavenworth – it’s a Bavarian-themed town and they have various festivals throughout the years. Although be hungry when you go… especially if you like fudge!
Once again we headed west and decided to spend the winter (yes, you read that correctly) in the North Olympic Peninsula (or “NOP” as the locals say). On the way we saw Mt. Rainier and it is magnificent, even from a distance.
Since it is October we never would have thought of snow, but we encountered snow flurries at Snoqualmie Pass and learned they closed it behind us as conditions were getting worse.
We honestly had no idea what we would be getting into around Seattle and the surrounding region with our big rig. So after I-5 we just took 101 and crossed our fingers! That will probably be one of the longest, yet scenic routes we will have on our grand journey. Some places we held up traffic because of our size and the curves, but we pulled over as often as we could to let local traffic get around. I think we may have actually got up to 40 mph at one point!
But, such a beautiful trip! We found ourselves “at home” in Port Angeles for a few months and look forward to exploring as much of the NOP as we can.
WINTER October 2007 to April 2008
We find ourselves camped along the Straits of Juan de Fuca and looking out; we can see the mountains of British Columbia in the distance. Behind us is Olympic National Park. It’s absolutely gorgeous! We can’t wait to see the surrounding area.
It’s been awhile since I wrote, but we’ve been so busy! From hiking the rainforest (in 30°F temps, nevertheless!) in search of waterfalls to visiting antique shops, we are enjoying our stay on the NOP.
We have been very fortunate with snow. Just a few times and not too heavy, although the cold winds remind you that winter can be unforgiving. I love seeing the snow fall on the beach. Close to shore it stops – about two feet above the sand/water.
During the day the beach is active with surfers. Yes, surfers! They surf the Straits in the winter and aren’t afraid to don their wet suits and brave the cold for a few seconds on their boards. The beach is noisy in the evening, as logs get pounded against each other turning the tides.
It is amazing what you see at the beach here. The other day we saw an octopus washed up and 3 bald eagles tearing into it! If only I had my camera – what a sight! And in addition to periodic whale sightings, we’ve also seen many submarines. They are heading out to the Pacific or heading back to the base.
We purchased a year pass for Olympic National Park, so we have visited most areas – such as Sol Duc Falls, Marymere Falls, Hurricane Ridge (Mt. Olympus), Hoh Rainforest… It’s absolutely a must-see park!
One of my favorites is the Hoh Rainforest. The Hoh Rainforest is located just a few miles from Forks (which if you are a “Twilight” fan is the home of the Cullen clan). An interesting thing about this region is the Bigfoot sightings along the Hoh River. We joked about stepping in Bigfoot poo along the trail (although it was more likely from some elk we spotted) and purchased some Bigfoot souvenirs from a local backpacker shop located just outside the park.
If you go to Hoh, remember they get well over 100 inches of rainfall each year (hmm… so that’s where the “rain” forest part comes in!) and that you should be prepared. There is a paved trail for those less adventurous, yet it can be very slippery without the proper footwear. So don’t forget that rain gear, hiking boots and extra socks!
Another place to take extra socks is along the Cape Flattery Trail. Cape Flattery is the northwestern most point of the Continental U.S. – located on the edge of Neah Bay, Washington. It is a beautiful day-trip through the Makah Indian Reservation. The hike is easy, yet can be challenging during the rainy season – with most of the path underwater. I highly recommend hiking poles as there is a grade. I do not recommend people with RVs (unhook!) to park in the lot designated for the Cape Flattery Trail. There is a RV turnaround, but it is very narrow and you would still have difficulty parking. If you visit this area, you will want to unhook in a campground. Also make sure you visit the general store or Makah Museum before heading to the Cape to obtain a permit to park at the trail. Permits are only $10 for any day use areas inside Makah lands and good for the entire year.
Tatoosh Island Lighthouse can be seen from Cape Flattery, outside of Neah Bay, WA. The lighthouse is three miles from shore and can be seen quite clearly from the end of the Cape Flattery Trail. You may want to take binoculars to get a better view of the lighthouse. The hardest thing is taking photos from the observation platform at the Cape. There are sea tunnels eroding away underneath you and giant waves shake the tunnels and, of course, you! An informational sign read that the area you are standing will be gone in 100 years from the constant erosion. Definitely one of the most memorable stops we had in Washington.
And when you are there, be sure to visit the Makah Museum – but take plenty of money for the gift shop. They have amazing artwork and jewelry for sale.
Hmm… can’t forget Port Angeles itself! A lovely town to just walk and shop… or view the boats on the Straits. Oh, and you can catch a ferry to Victoria, BC if you have the time. They have passenger and vehicle ferries.
Port Townsend and Sequim are great places to visit as well. We made several trips to that area to see the lighthouse, casino (buffet!), antique shops and historic homes. Although we didn’t trek to the lighthouse, we still had an amazing view from the main road. Oh, and we found John Wayne Marina!
We are getting ready to journey southward and although we’ll miss this beautiful region, we look forward to our next adventure!
SUMMER April 2008 to October 2008
Today is April Fool’s Day and the irony is the sun is shining in the NOP for the first time since our arrival! As we said good-bye to the friends we made, a bald eagle flew three feet above our fifth-wheel. We figured that was a send-off gift for us.
During our stay, I was hoping to see Roosevelt Elk… and each time we hiked or went in an area they might be I had the camera ready. Well, we never saw them until today as we were leaving – a group of twenty crossed the highway!
Well, a couple weeks have gone by and we’ve cruised by Mt. Hood, Mount St. Helens, Portland and made it down to Grant’s Pass. Although we missed the route and ending up going down some narrow streets!
We took the Redwood Highway (199) down to California. We decided to spend a few days exploring Crescent City and, of course, Redwood National and State Parks. And I can’t forget Battery Point Lighthouse. It’s on an island near the shore and is only accessible during low tide. Our first there resulted in poor timing – but the second one we managed to spend some time on the island.
The coast along that region is amazing and the redwoods are magnificent. The only problem was a few areas we couldn’t go (with the dually truck) because the road was too narrow or no parking for an over-sized vehicle. So if you travel this area, ask the park visitor center downtown about parking access at some of the trail-heads.
After exploring the area we headed along the Bigfoot Scenic Biway (yes, it’s real!) for a bit before crossing California on 299 – through the Trinity National Forest and Whiskeytown National Rec Area over to Redding.
We spent a week at Oroville, exploring that region – from the murals to the big dam. And then we made our way to Grass Valley and Nevada City.
It’s a beautiful, historic region and we look forward to staying the summer here.
Again, time has gotten the best of me! So much to see and do in this area! If it wasn’t for taking photos, I probably wouldn’t be able to remember what all we have seen and done.
One of the favorites is just panning for gold in the rivers. So far we’ve panned the South Yuba River, American River and Humbug Creek. We’ve also been exploring mining towns and historic sites. I think Empire Mine SP, Gold Discovery Site SP and GoldBug Mine (Placerville) have been my personal favorites so far. Malakoff Diggins is memorable, but rather sad to see the “other” side of mining.
Bridgeport covered bridge across the South Yuba River, just outside Penn Valley 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.
We’ve made a couple trips to Lake Tahoe and Donner Pass. It’s an incredible drive and if you get that way, you should stop at the Donner Memorial in Truckee. It’s part of the state park, so you only have to pay the vehicle fee. And there is a trail there you can take to get a feel for the area. Oh, and did I mention the lakes? Beautiful!
Another trip to Lake Tahoe and this time we trekked down to Vikingsholm Castle inside Emerald Bay SP. If you go, wear good shoes and take some water and hiking snacks! Downhill isn’t bad, but it’s a long way up again.
We also made a day trip to Downieville and got lost in the mountains… but luckily we found a place that sold ice cream sandwiches, so not all was lost! Downieville is a quaint little town and very beautiful drive. A few smaller towns along the route are rather interesting… one of which I regret not getting a photo of the “Dogs Playing in Street” sign!
Shopping-wise, we find ourselves driving to the outskirts of Sacramento. But it’s always a great drive and gives us an excuse to site-see. The last time we went in we visited Old Sac (the old downtown) and the CA State Railroad Museum. The museum is incredible and if you like trains and history – a definite must-see! And if you have never visited “Old Sac”, you really should. Nestled among highways and skyscrapers are historic buildings and wooden boardwalks. It really is hard to imagine you are in a major city!
The heat wave has really hit our area and it was near 100°F and that has added to the summer fires. We actually had to wear a mask the last few days as smoke is so bad – even this far up the mountain. Even our last trip to Lake Tahoe was smoky.
There was a fire on the other side of the lake last week and we saw the helicopter drop down in the water to fill bags from the river. Scary thing to see as the campground only had one way out… and that was several miles down the mountain!
It has been an amazing summer and I know I went a while without mentioning things… but I won’t forget to mention Timbuctoo! Although we had to drive back to find it, as only a roadside marker remains.
We are getting ready to move on again… where? Hmm… let’s dig out a map and see…
WINTER October 2008 to March 2009
Our current trip had us leaving the Sierra Nevada region (California) and heading to parts unknown on October 3, 2008. Weather forecasts were predicting heavy rain and snow showers at higher elevations. Since our route took us over Donner Pass (Truckee, CA) we left quickly and tried to beat the storms. With our long-bed pickup truck, our rig is about 53′ long and over 13′ high. You cannot tow a fifth-wheel in the mountains during snow, nor can you safely drive through rain and high-winds. So the weather was a major concern for us.
We found ourselves several hours ahead of the storms and on the other side of the Sierras, we hunkered down outside Reno, NV. We had light rain and some wind gusts, but found it more appealing than the snow and high winds among the higher elevations.
After spending some time in Reno and sneaking in a few buffets, we found that the weather we had run from was planning on heading our way after all. We left early and made a quick trip through Carson City before the winds picked up. They had actually warned folks traveling the area that there were high winds and that RVs may not be allowed on the roadways. Fortunately we stayed ahead of the weather until we got back into California on historic Hwy 395.
Hwy 395 goes along the backside of the Sierras. This route is definitely one of the most scenic drives you can experience in the mountains. Yet it is very long and you pay a great deal for fuel and supplies along the way. We spent some time in Bridgeport, CA, which is just down the road from Bodie SHP and Yosemite NP.
For those unfamiliar with Bodie SHP – it 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 I have ever been. There is so much history there, it consumes you. You can almost feel towns folk walking along the streets right beside you. It is a must-see for anyone visiting that region of California!
The drive to Bodie is a rather long 18 miles off of the main highway. There are warnings against taking larger and recreational vehicles as there is limited parking and the road is very rough. The last three miles of the road is nothing but dirt and stone. This is extremely rough. In fact, the toolbox in the bed of our pickup truck (which has been with us for at least 30,000 miles, unfastened) moved from its spot almost 6 inches. This is a heavy-duty toolbox! So if you are traveling in a RV, you should park it at a local campground and make the trip in your tow vehicle.
Unfortunately the weather caught-up with us and we awoke to snowy mountains! Tioga Pass (the road to Yosemite NP) was closed. We had heard that the recovery team for Steve Fossett’s plane (down in Mammoth Lakes) was scrambling to cover the crash-site and realized every place we planned to tour in the days ahead was either getting snow or going to get snow. So we decided that since we were quite happy touring California, that we would come back to visit Yosemite NP another time.
The remainder of our trip along scenic Hwy 395 was amazing. We did manage to see some of the other noteworthy stops along the way, such as Mono Lake, June Lake, Manzanar Camp and Mount Whitney. We then decided to head to Death Valley NP to see Stovepipe Wells, Furnace Creek and Scotty’s Castle.
The trip through Death Valley NP was not what we thought. I must confess that this wasteland is not as beautiful or poetic as some make it out to be. It is a long and wheel-gripping drive that made us question the sanity of all who journey there (even our own!). And for those with long rigs or who can barely drive theirs on the highway – do not drive Death Valley NP! The curves and grades are significant and of course, other tourists will not give you any room for tight curves meaning you may literally scrape the side of your RV against rock. We were quite relieved when we got through the park and were headed toward straighter driving conditions.
Honestly, I do have an interest in the oddest things and I wanted to see the area where the infamous nuclear waste burial site is – Yucca Mountains. It is actually not far from Death Valley, so we headed that way to see what the region was like. Pretty much typical Nevada desert, yet with an impressive sand dunes. The area is still close to several smaller towns, but I can see why they chose that somewhat remote region.
We then decided to try our luck in Las Vegas. As crazy as this sounds, Las Vegas is a great stop for RVers! There are many campgrounds in the area and even one along the LV Strip. One of the most popular – Sam’s Town – has two RV parks and a giant casino (with all the amenities) in between. They even shuttle you to various casino/hotels along the LV Strip. There are, of course, other sites to see that make Las Vegas a great place to unhook (RVers term for “unhooking” the tow vehicle) for a few days, such as Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and many parks (including the Grand Canyon and Death Valley). And if you are so inclined, you can do what my family and I did on our last trip through the region (August 2007) and go North from Las Vegas to the Extraterrestrial Highway to Rachel, Nevada. Hey, I told you I have an interest in the odd things!
After seeing our favorite sites (oh, come on, I wasn’t going to tell you everything!) and hitting a couple buffets, we headed toward Arizona. Now we did think about considering Arizona as our “home” for a couple of months, but when your home is on wheels, things can change!
We toured some areas we hadn’t been to in years, like Lake Havasu. For some reason, London Bridge appeared much smaller to me this time. I guess I was shorter or perhaps it was because we had a small motorhome back then. The area wasn’t as crowded as I remembered, but the season is just starting to pick up in that region of the US.
There is a place in Arizona that all the snowbirds (Seasonal and Full-Timers) go to escape the winter temperatures and live cheaply and that’s at Quartzsite. The BLM has land there and for (I believe) around $5 a month, you can boondock anywhere on this land. Now “boondocking” means living in the boonies and pretty much dry camping. You have to be prepared with batteries, generator, water and rely on the honey wagon (that’s the sewer truck that pumps out your holding tanks for you) to make a regular visit. There are people who live this way for months (and some say years). It can be done if you have the know-how and can manage the isolation (many boondock areas are not near cities).
We got there before the season started and wanted to see what all went on in this area. Let me tell you, it is sparse. It is desert and the nearest Walmart is over 90 miles (one way) away – so that shows you how remote you are. There are campgrounds in this area where you can get full-hookups, Cable TV and other amenities for around $300 a month, plus electricity costs. Unfortunately, it is still quite a drive to the nearest cities for supplies.
We have boondocked before, but never at a region so remote and prone to the extreme (heat, especially). We all agreed that this is something we just couldn’t adjust to, no matter how “cheap” of living this was.
Our next major stop in Arizona was Yuma which is the mecca for snowbirds in the Southwest. I can honestly only recommend this for people who are happy to be in 55+ RV parks. I’m not 55, nor would I be happy in one even if I was. Yuma has all the modern amenities one could want and the weather is sunny (200% sunny – so wear your shades unless you want cataracts), warm and dry. There is a lot of wind though. And another thing that many Yumans (yep, that’s what they call themselves) will neglect to mention. There is a big military presence in this region and whatever park you stay at – you will hear military jets, planes and helicopters at all hours. Since you are also living on the Mexico-Arizona-California border, there are also Border Patrol road blocks asking either your purpose in the area or if everyone in your vehicle is a US citizen.
We toured Yuma a few days and the only real highlight worth mentioning is the Yuma Territorial Prison. No doubt you heard it in the recent movie 3:10 TO YUMA or read about it in history books or western novels. It really is a great stop, although if you don’t want to pay admission – the prison cemetery is just as interesting and has a beautiful cactus walk along the side.
From Yuma it was decided that we would get on the highway and head eastward, touring more of Arizona and New Mexico. We did that for several days and somehow, we ended up in El Paso, TX. Funny thing about being a Full-Time RVer – never know where you are going to end up!
So since we were here, we thought we might as well tour Texas. We have been here several weeks now. We have found a wonderful campground located outside San Antonio, that is the gateway to some fascinating countryside.
The Guadalupe and Comal Rivers weave through this area and make it quite the tourist attraction in the summer. Toob (the local’s spelling, not mine!) and kayak rentals are everywhere! Although there are scenic drives you can take to experience these rivers without getting your feet wet!
Some sites we have enjoyed are in the towns of Gruene and New Braunfels. Both towns were settled by German immigrants. Gruene has preserved their downtown with antique and specialty shoppes. It is also the site of one of the last standing dance halls in Texas (it was featured in the movie MICHAEL with John Travolta).
New Braunfels is a larger community outside of San Antonio. They have tried to balance nature with the city and have a beautiful series of parks and outdoor places. One of highlights of the holidays as been their Hill Country Christmas.
We have enjoyed touring Texas, especially along the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers… We have been very busy trying to get things ready for our drive eastward in the weeks ahead. The tires have been checked (and one fifth-wheel tire was replaced) and giving everything that extra check before we put on another two thousand miles or so. Also trying to repack a few things and, of course, doing a little spring cleaning! Have to make room for all those Texas souvenirs we have picked up.
Meanwhile, to all those getting ready to head for your northern “homes” and those “couch travelers” – safe travels!
Updated: March 8, 2009
SUMMER April 2009 to November 2009
Our departure from Texas was delayed because of weather and health issues. The area where we were staying had an outbreak of the Swine flu (or whatever they are calling it these days) and schools, churches and day cares were closing because of possible exposure. Activities were cancelled and even several local parks were closing because of it. Between trying to get our supplies restocked and deal with the sudden severe weather, we found ourselves finally eager to leave Texas.
Unfortunately, Texas was not eager for us to leave! On May 1st we were traveling I-35 when some motorists got our attention, saying we blew a tire! Our fifth-wheel is 8 tons and the pickup is a 1-ton Duramax diesel and it weighs a couple of tons… and we never felt a thing!
We got over as quickly as we could only to discover our tire wasn’t blown – it was shredded. In fact, it looked like an industrial-size rubber mop! A quick assessment revealed damage to the trim, undercarriage and back slide (where apparently tire chunks hit). We got the spare on and made our way to the nearest tire center about six miles away.
They had one tire for us and it was at another store. So while we waited we had our undercarriage repaired. When the tire arrived from the other store, we had it put on and all the other tires checked. The techs said they were fine and asked if we wanted help putting the spare back underneath. We decided to leave the spare in the back of the pickup truck bed…
And once we were on the road again… Imagine our surprise when on I-30 in Arkansas when a tire on the other side went (luckily no damage). We decided to ease up on our Travel Angel and dry camped at a Flying J until we could get our rig to a tire dealership the next day.
After learning more than we ever wanted to know about tires, tire dealers and just how bad “free” coffee can be… we were on are way again.
We spent some time in Arkansas touring the back roads, but our main goal was to visit Crater of Diamonds State Park. Of course, while we were there the entire state was under severe storm warnings, flood warnings and tornado watches! But if you’ve been diamond hunting before, you know the best time to find them on top of the furrows is after a good rain.
So we were a sad, muddy mess, but had a great time! There had been several good diamonds found during our stay. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any diamonds ourselves, but found some great pieces of mica, quartz, jasper and other “treasures”, including a split geode.
If you haven’t heard about this park, you should visit their website and plan a trip. A large number of families were there and having a blast! Even the young children who don’t really understand what’s going on had fun playing in the mud. The park also has a Discovery Museum and water park. There are limited campsites at the park and in the area, yet it’s only an hour from Hot Springs, where there are several larger campgrounds. It’s a beautiful drive.
Some other sites we wanted to see were a “wash” because of the weather. In fact, we found ourselves having to pull-over several times because of high-winds and downpours.
We spent some time in Tennessee visiting some old haunts and friends. We have come to the conclusion that we have visited every pizza place in the Lower 48!
It didn’t feel like we did much, yet with the tire problems, poor weather and visiting friends, it rather left us eager to get to Virginia so we could rest! We had been in Virginia before but just briefly.
We took I-81 North and headed for Blue Ridge and Shen Valley country. The nice thing about this region is that it is so close (mostly day-trips) to the rest of Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.
The first few weeks flew by rather quickly and we managed to see some wonderful sites – including Appomattox Court House.
One thing we have really enjoyed in Virginia is all the antique shops and “malls” and the general stores.
If you stop at one, make sure you ask for a “Sunday Drive” brochure for the section of Virginia you are driving through. There are hundreds of stops in each sectional map of the state. Most of the antique malls have parking for RVs and they make great stops to soak in the local color.
Virginia does have a problem with rest areas. Many will be closing because of budget cuts. So keep that in mind if you make a trip through the state in the near future.
Another interesting stop we found was in Mount Jackson – the Route 11 Potato Chip Company. You can stop in during business hours and watch how their kettle chips are made. Free samples of each variety are available and you can purchase small bags of chips for your trip. Although, if it says “HOT” on the label – believe me – it’s hot!
While touring Roanoke, we really enjoyed visiting the Virginia Transportation Museum. From wagons to hearses and fire trucks to trains, it’s nice museum to spend a few hours. They have working toy trains on display and even a room devoted to circus trains (which is a must-see).
There is just so much to do in Virginia – Goodness, I just can’t get it all on this page! So I will just fast-forward to October.
As the temperatures began to drop and cold, drizzly days of rain descended on us, we started to plan our trip South. Our main priority was to get all new tires on our fifth-wheel (Remember our trip here?). The “plan” was to get them put on at Camping World of Roanoke, however, that didn’t work out. Although Camping World told us that they had the tires and it would be no problem to get it done, we decided to make another visit and make an appointment. That trip revealed that no one at Camping World in Roanoke wanted to wait on us… and then when someone finally did… they said they didn’t have those tires, couldn’t get them, there was a flood, locusts… oh, who knows… it was a pile of excuses. Anyway, we found a Goodyear dealer with the appropriate tires and loaded them up in our truck. Of course, the next step was who was going to put them on! Fortunately, we found a small garage that would put them on for us the day we left.
So our tire worries were over and we found ourselves looking forward to moving on. And that we did… from Virginia to… hmm… not sure where just yet!
Updated: November 17, 2009
WINTER November 2009 to March 2010
It was a busy summer season for us, so we looked forward to leaving Virginia in November. But after our “May Day Blow-outs” (see my Archived post by the same title), we decided it to get all our RV tires replaced before starting our fall journey. Of course, that turned out to be an additional hassle (see my Archived post “Tire, Tires Everywhere – NOT!”).
Once the new tires were on, we found ourselves on the Open Road once again.
One of our favorite past-times has become treasure hunting. So our first major stop was Hiddenite, North Carolina. This area is known for its emerald and gem mining. There are three ways to find emeralds – sluicing (with buckets of pay dirt), digging or creek’n (which is like panning for gold). If you find yourself in this area, it is well worth the price to get a permit for all three methods. You may find you prefer one over the others.
After a few days of emerald hunting, we moved on to South Carolina and Georgia to do a little site-seeing. At this time the weather was starting to drop in the 30s and with talk of “precipitation” (the “white stuff”), we decided to keep the wheels moving toward a warmer climate.
We found our way to I-10 and headed to Biloxi for a week of fun and games only to have storm Ida head our way. The campground we had planned on staying at was under a flood warning and they were keeping one eye on the Weather Channel. At this point we were wondering if we should head to Florida or keep heading westward.
The Weather Channel made up our minds when Tropical Storm Ida brought heavy rains to Florida. So we moved on and found ourselves in New Orleans and Baton Rouge for a week or so.
We had a great time exploring Louisiana and even found a great new hideaway… nope, not going to tell you! But we will be returning there in the new future.
Since we were already heading West, we decided not to winter in Florida as originally planned. Instead we continued along I-10 and its long stretch of bump-da-bump highway!
In Texas we visited Houston and Galveston and then made a bee-line for San Antonio and Hill Country. We had enjoyed wintering in that region the year before.
Of course, the U.S. has had crazy weather conditions this winter and we were victims of the sunny 80s turns to sleet and 30s forecasts as well!
But again, we have managed to keep busy this season – as you can see from the photos added to the TEXAS photo section! From heritage museums and train museums to flea markets and outlet shopping (yes, we went to San Marcos!)…. it’s been a busy few months and I didn’t spend much time writing!
Although spring has started to make an appearance in Texas, we find ourselves packing to move on again… and so the next journey begins!
Oh… and the wildflowers are just popping up like crazy! I guess we’ll have quite a send-off this time. Thank you, Mother Nature!
Updated: March 17, 2010
SUMMER March 2010 to September 2010
Summer…WOW! It seems like it was a whole year ago now! I normally try to update this as we go, but a rather hectic summer and surgery left me behind.
Let’s see… we headed out of Texas at the end of March and headed eastward. Texas had a crazy winter and we were delight to spring showing signs before we left. I was especially happy to see blooming bluebonnets and migrating birds, such as the waxwings.
Of course, we took the rather bump-bumpty I-10! If you have never driven this stretch of interstate, then picture driving over speed bumps on the worst road you every traveled… every ten feet!
We had spent some time in Louisiana the year before and wanted to return to the one resort and spend more time exploring the region. 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 media and crews.
There was still plenty to see and do, from gardens and casinos to exploring plantations and 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. Although it didn’t stop us from attending not once, but three times!
We enjoyed our time in Louisiana and look forward to returning someday.
Our next stop was Mississippi and again, we faced the oil-spill crews and media. We had been eager to visit a few of our favorite spots, but the nice thing about being a Full-Timer… it leaves us an excuse to return!
We did have a problem with our ladder rack along the way. Ours is under the front of the camper and a little too much of the bumpty-bump and scraping along backroad dips left it barely hanging on. Luckily we caught it in time and a potential crisis was adverted.
Alabama was a very quick stop as we have visited it several times before and the last trip was rather in hurry (hurricane) so we decided to “keep on trucking” through.
We are from the Atlantic coast of Florida and honestly haven’t spent much time in the Panhandle region. So we toured around a bit and found that we just love the Emerald Coast. Fortunately this area was not affected by the oil spill and remains unsoiled.
Since we have been along the Florida Gulf coast, we have visited 5 lighthouses (including the haunted lighthouse in Pensacola), the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Man in the Sea Museum, a dozen state parks, the Possum Monument (we are odd, I admit!) and several other things. I think I have taken well over 6,000 photos this summer!
I had found out that I needed surgery in September, so we remained here for my recovery. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be on the mend! As we plan our winter activities and next year’s adventures, I will admit I will have fond memories of our travels this summer.
Updated: December 6, 2010
WINTER October 2010 to April 2011
I had found myself having surgery in late-September and for most of October and early November I had to take it easy so I’m behind in my writing. We did sneak in a few day trips though – shh! Don’t tell on me!
One of day trips involved visiting Camp Helen State Park. It was so peaceful there that we almost fell asleep in the rocking chairs in front of the lodge!
There was a day trip to a zoo and petting zoo. I found a friend… although I think he was only after my big bag of food! Hmm… sounds like someone else I know! And when it comes to animals, we were fortunate to see several alligators. Okay, well, maybe that sounds weird… but it has been a treat for us.
We have been enjoying the coast and views. And birds – gotta love the birds! If only I was a pelican – drift’n, eat’n and sleep’n – talk about the life!
We saw the 4-headed palm in St. Andrews (not the state park, the community of St. Andrews). I had seen a 3-headed, but was amazed to see this rare one.
We saw the Tall Ship Peacemaker when it was docked at Panama City Marina. We picked a nice day to visit as the weather had been windy and rainy a few days prior.
We also visited several museums, including the Air Force Armament Museum and ventured to a few more state parks, such as Florida Caverns State Park.
An interesting thing for us Full-Timers to do was actually take a few longer trips without home being towed behind. Yep! It was a fun experience and certainly makes parking easier! Although next time we get the urge to stay in a hotel, I’m taking my own pillow!
We enjoyed a lovely day at Eden Gardens State Park. I am a lover of the old moss-draped oaks… so this was certainly Eden for me. And the historic mansion and gardens transported you back in time.
Hmm… so much we’ve seen… oh, the South Walton Beaches! This is really an interesting drive along 30A. What really had me laughing was the row of lunch “wagons” made from Airstreams! Of course, we didn’t eat at them… it would be like eating at home! There was also Grayton State Park which is right along this stretch of 30A near Seaside and Watercolor. Yes, the names alone evoke some beautiful imagery, don’t they?
We did have a couple days of high winds and choppy waters and we were anticipating some severe storms. Our area was spared everything but a little rain and some distance thunder. Unfortunately a handful of Campers from Alabama had to leave because of the terrible tornado damage to friends or family.
We were fortunate enough to be along the Gulf during the ThunderBeach Spring Biker Rally. Talk about seeing some great-looking motorcycles! One of the Class A’s that pulled into the campground had a long cargo trailer in tow and unloaded 8 Harleys!
We had been trying to get in several attractions and parks before we moved on and the Spring Breakers took over… Our summer plans were to head westward once again and spend some time in the Pacific Northwest and then heading to Canada and Alaska.
But with economic conditions, rising fuel costs and an increase in severe weather, we decided to remain on the East coast just a little while longer. That has left us with time to see some other areas. Either way, it’s another adventure on the horizon!
Updated: May 2, 2011
SUMMER May 2011 to September 2011
Wow… May 1st came and went and we didn’t have to put tires on the RV! How did we get away with that this year?
Well, do I even need to mention the f-word? Fuel, that is!!! And the crazy prices they are throwing at us this summer? We decided to do something we’ve never done and that’s let the rig sit in a campground and take-off with bags packed for a hotel.
It was quite a difference at the pump with the 10 mpg going up to 18 mpg without the rig in tow. And we found that staying in a hotel (with high-speed WiFi that really works, free hot breakfast bar and housekeeping service) is actually cheaper than staying at your average campground! Although, I wouldn’t trade the home-on-wheels for the hotel-life just yet. I missed my pillows too much!
We did enjoy our time visiting Orlando and Kissimmee and various sites in Central Florida. It was time for us to do the theme-park “thing” you just have to do every year or so! Although we really surprised that the parks weren’t as crowded as they have in the past. We weren’t sure if it was our timing (earlier than usual for us) or if it was the economic situation, fuel prices and ticket prices that kept crowds to a minimum… well, except at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure. Too many of us Harry Potter fans walking around in awe!
We also enjoyed visiting the minor attractions and of course, you have to visit a flea market or two. Always have to look at things you normally wouldn’t buy, but you are in Orlando and, of course, you must now buy it because it comes from Orlando! And no, I only bought 4 tee shirts! Well, maybe 5… who’s counting anyway? ;)
Overall we did have a great time and had lovely weather for our trip. Although the truck is now dirty with big bug guts… hmm… who gets to scrub those off?
We made another trip to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in St. Marks. Our last visit to the refuge was during our “4 lighthouses in 1 day” trip, so we were rather tired by the time we arrived at this beautiful refuge. This time we took time to enjoy the surroundings a little more. And it was nice to see more people there this time – walking trails, having a picnic, fishing…
We had a couple weeks of very high temps with the heat index near or even at 100 degrees. It was nice to have an excuse to stay cool and take it easy! At least until we got itchy feet and needed to head out again!
Our trip around Tampa was rather interesting. It had been several years since we were that way and were eager to see how much more the surrounding area had grown.
After seeing the sites, such as the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, we headed northbound on Hwy. 19 to stop at a few of the state parks and preserves along the way.
Imagine our surprise when you have to pay $13 each to visit the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park! Then we continued on in hopes of seeing a “real” state park, only to be disappointed that signage appears to be an issue along this route. One park had a brown state park sign that read “next left”…. well, the next left was a river and the left after that someone’s driveway! And the other parks? Who knows where they were!
Summer in Florida… heat wave… storm front… heat wave… storm front… storm front… So we have spent some time catching up on “chores”. One of which for me is getting caught up on the scrapbook! We did take some time to visit the local butterfly pavilion. Over 300 butterflies… thank goodness for digital cameras! Don’t ask me how many photos I took!!! Yes… I took way too many photos… always do, don’t I?
What? It’s mid-August already? Summer has just breezed right by! So that means we are getting ready to roll… in the weeks ahead!
Let’s see… made several day trips and considering I was awakened early to the sound of chain-saws and wood-chippers this morning ( see Archived post “Campgrounds, Trees and Wood-Chippers”), my brain is a bit foggy. Oh, there was a trip to that place… yeah, it was really memorable… Okay, maybe I’ll fill this section in a bit later. Maybe after my ears stop ringing!
September already?! I must say the month started out rather eventful. With Tropical Storm Lee showing up for Labor Day weekend, it was bit gloomy. Not to mention the weather alert radio going off with marine warnings, tornado watches and severe storm warnings. Another reason that you should purchase a weather alert radio for your RV and have emergency supplies no matter where you on going.
We just have a few last minute things to do before hitting the road next week. And then, another grand adventure begins!
Updated: September 8, 2011
WINTER October 2011 to March 2012
Okay, so it’s not technically October… but hey, if they can start selling candy corn and pumpkins in the stores… well, it’s close enough to count as October.
So…once again the wheels started turning and the big old Bear is following behind…Who knows where we will end up in the weeks ahead… (although I hope it’s somewhere they have plenty more candy corn!)
Our first thought was to visit a few places in the Florida panhandle that we hadn’t really explored. Plus, we wanted to see the new hangar at the National Museum of Naval Aviation. So we spent some time in Pensacola and discovered some great attractions along with a few little “sites” tucked away.
Another place we “discovered” and will no doubt be returning to is Fort Pickens. Located on Santa Rosa Island (turn west at Pensacola Beach and you can’t miss!) you’ll think you are in the Arctic, as the snow white sand blends in with the deep blue Gulf of Mexico.
Hmm… let’s see… nope… don’t want to tell you about that… Can’t let you know everything! Oh, we did have some problems, but I’ve already posted them, so see the Archived posts for more details – I won’t rehash all that!
Okay, okay… we crossed into Alabama one day to look around. Then found ourselves back in Florida to see a few more things before deciding to head West.
Now, we honestly had no clue we’d head westward for winter. It is just one of those things where you throw around the “journey vs. destination” debate. And being the type of folks we are… well, life’s about the journey… so whichever entrance ramp you’re near… that’s where you’re going to head!
Which reminds me…I am delighted to report we saw 3 alligators in Alabama! Don’t ask…
Mississippi remains much the same as it was the last time we were there; however, the roads are much worse. You watch “IRT: Deadliest Roads” and you wonder how folks can drive in such conditions… until you get on I-10 and wonder how much easier it would be to drive in a foreign country…down a one-lane mountain pass with no brakes …
We spent a week in Louisiana which is always a nice time. You have to love Louisiana – nice folks, great food and cool history.
As we headed westward we were amazed at yet another highway fire (first a semi trailer in MS, then a hay trailer on fire in TX). Usually we come across accident scenes, but never fires. A bit scary with such dry conditions in the South.
We woke up one morning (TX) surprised to find ourselves experiencing an earthquake. Although we later learned this may not have been natural, but because of fracking.
After a few weeks on the road, we decided to put the tire covers on and rest a bit in Texas.
Our first un-hooked adventure was to visit the historic town of Gruene during the Texas Clay Festival. Now I know what you’re thinking… no, it’s not just piles of mud… it’s a festival with a large number of talented folks showing off and selling their pottery.
Well, several weeks have been marked off the calendar since I last posted here… where to I begin? We enjoyed several day trips and had a lovely Thanksgiving.
Then we found that the RV park we were staying at no longer enforced rules. A travel trailer pulled up beside us and erected a garage-sized tent… then a large-screen TV, stereo, sat dish, tables, chairs and a tiki bar found their way inside the tent… along with several boxes of bottles to stock the tiki bar! Now we have seen a great deal while living on-the-road, but this was a little more than we could tolerate. Especially when it was apparent that the no-tent rule, no loud music, no-noise after-hours, etc… rules were not going to be enforced.
Having settled ourselves (the intention of staying a few months) we found ourselves scrambling to find another RV park or campground that could accommodate us for an extended stay. Since we are in the middle of the Winter Texan “season”, that was a bit of chore! Fortunately we did manage to find one and once again, found ourselves heading out on the highway.
Now we are re-settled here (although that itself is a story worthy of a major post…) and have the Christmas decorations up and are ready to celebrate the season.
Welcome 2012! Although it has been a crazy couple of weeks… including a hungry squirrel chomping on our truck wires (see Archived post noted below)…. We are looking forward to what adventures the New Year will bring.
It’s been a couple weeks since I updated this and to get you all caught up, read my Archived post “New Year, new stuff”… you’ll see why I’ve been a bit too busy to write.
The weather in Texas has been crazy this season. Some days are beautiful and others are a bit gloomy. Although I won’t complain too much… no snow to shovel! But at least the air-condition days are back! Woohoo! Note to self: Never complain about the summer heat again!
Okay, enough about weather… let’s see, what we have been up to… oh, definitely one of the neatest places we have visited is the LBJ National Historical Park – LBJ Ranch in Stonewall. Well worth a trip if you find yourself in the region!
And while we were there we visited the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm. A tour of the early 1918 farmstead you literally step into living history – just watch out for cow and sheep patties! The folks dressed up as settlers actually grow and can the foods you see on display. Around lunchtime they actually prepare foods as they would during the period. And all the food comes from the farmstead (including the meat). So don’t pet the critters…
Hmm… what else have we been up to? Oh, visited historic Fredericksburg… lots of antique shops and galleries. Also several museums to visit there, including the National Museum of the Pacific War…
Right now the site-seeing is winding down as we begin to prepare for our trek across country to… well, I think I will keep you in suspense for a while longer!
Updated: March 22, 2012
SUMMER April 2012 to September 2012
Well, our journey eastward started out with a crawl… we found ourselves traveling a whopping 15 mph in Austin. Little did we know that there were X-Factor auditions going on and there would be an increase in traffic.
Prior to our leaving Texas, we had severe storms and tornadoes (three touched down outside of San Antonio) and we had hoped to avoid any major storms on the road.
Although it appeared stormy, we managed to make it to Louisiana with only a few drops on the windshield.
We spent some time outside Shreveport and then continue to make our way along yet another bumpy highway in Mississippi…sigh… This stretch of road also had some of the highest diesel prices we have seen so far this season at $4.29 a gallon.
The next part our journey went smoothly and we even found a nice little place to stay (no, not going to tell you – have to keep a few spots secret!) for some R&R.
Skipping ahead a few hundred miles… diesel prices were a little lower in South Carolina. I think we fueled up for $3.94, which was just about the lowest we saw it until we found it for $3.91 in Virginia.
We were in South Carolina when we noticed it was getting rather dark ahead…The weather turned bad quickly and we found ourselves driving into a literally wall of rain and hail. Fortunately we got off the road and found a place to spend the night.
When we decided to continue our journey, we found another dark sky ahead and spent a day driving in rain. At least it wasn’t as bad as driving through the hail storm. We had learned later that there had been a multiple car pile-up. So we were very lucky.
As far as campgrounds go… well, we had a great deal of trouble finding places to stay. Either they just couldn’t cater to Big Rigs or their staff was rude. We drove out of two parks in one area because the people had attitudes. It is a shame these people are in the hospitality business and they can’t be nice to travelers – especially tired ones! Hmm… maybe Gordon Ramsey can do a show on nightmare campgrounds!
Anyway… we eventually made it to our destination of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Maryland . We look forward to exploring the region and surrounding states.
One of the things we enjoy is visiting historic sites and buildings. So there will be plenty of covered bridges for us to see.
We did have an “interesting” experience visiting one covered bridge so far… we had pulled the truck off the road, because obviously, some of these bridges aren’t really up to a 1 ton dually! And while I was out snapping photos, a man in a truck pulled up and asked if we were part of the bridge crew! Apparently one of the beams underneath the bridge had fallen and a crew was sent to repair it. After we assured him that we were just crazy Floridians looking at bridges, he started to tell us about the forts in the area. So you never know what you’ll come across when you head down those country roads!
It is rather sad though; most just don’t care about the covered bridges and history. Many bridges we encounter were in poor shape, had graffiti inside or were hang-outs for… “people who were not bridge enthusiasts” (you know what I mean!).
And, of course, you find a lot by talking to folks and reading local literature. We were de-”lighted” to come across The Hotel Edison in Sunbury. This is the first building in the world to have electricity! And the story regarding this is rather humorous, as the hotel staff during Edison’s stay, didn’t really want it!
Our exploring took a turn for a while as one recovered from food poisoning (hmm… good thing I don’t add food reviews here!) and another took a tumble that left a few ribs badly bruised… and the weather… well, it’s been rather crazy for us!
Well, what can I say? After one too many crazy drivers and some rather unfriendly folks, we decided to head South again. The nice thing about being a Full-timer, you can either move or your neighbors can! As we headed southbound, we found the weather much better than before and so was traffic. Probably a sign we were headed in the right direction!
Although we still had our share of so-called Big Rig Friendly campgrounds. I think this trip we experienced the most “You’ve got to be kidding me” camp site locations than we have ever had. One campground left us looking for hook-ups. We found the water spigot two inches off the ground hidden in a bush brushed against one of our slides, the sewer was covered by a soda bottle (acting as the cap) and the Cable TV hookup was actually on another site and was shared by a few Campers! Oh, who says the life of a Full-Time RVers is boring???
We continued making our way south again and, naturally, in the middle of a tropical storm. Our area was in tornado watches and flood warnings for a couple days. At one point, I think we had a duck on our roof! Fortunately we didn’t experience the extreme flooding and sinkholes like many areas of Florida did.
Our next task was to get new tires for our truck. If you have followed along our journey, you know tires are an annual event – either flats or nails/screws. We put on a great deal of mileage the last couple years and replaced all the tires with new Good-years.
We decided to settle down for a couple weeks and explore some more of Central and Southern Florida. Some highlights so far have been discovering “old Florida”. We also visited some attractions, such as Silver Springs (although it is in a rather sad state of “disrepair”), and of course, have been visiting state parks and national forests, such Silver River State Park and the Ocala National Forest area.
And what is Florida without visiting a lighthouse? What seemed to be a lifetime ago, we had visited Ponce de Leon Lighthouse at Ponce Inlet (South of Daytona Beach). It was fun to revisit and climb to the top again. Of all the lighthouses we have visited, this remains one of the nicest. It is well worth a visit if you find yourself along the Atlantic coast.
Oh, and in-between our adventures, the air-conditioning went out. Apparently it was jealous of the new truck tires. So after a few days of melting… we had a new air-condition put on. Who says an RV isn’t just like a house?
Hmm…. oh, spent some time in the Tampa area to see the sites…. been keeping busy despite the weather! And speaking of weather… I haven’t been online much (esp. with the debut of my new Campground Mystery series) and wouldn’t you know it… a tropical storm is getting ready to make an appearance in Florida. Okay, maybe not… who knows! I believe the Weather Channel is saying “Eyes on Isaac”. Although it is a big storm and I’m sure we will get some stormy weather from it no matter which direction it takes.
Our back bike rack got attacked by a crazed lawnmower… the bike rack won, but came out damaged. Fortunately the RV park paid for the repairs.
Well, Tropical Storm… later Hurricane Isaac has come and went. We did receive quite a bit of rain and wind, but the only real “damage” was a lot of Spanish moss on the ground. The weather has cleared up and it has been nice for cleaning the RV and… you know what that means! Heading out on that Big Highway soon. Where did the summer go? And just where will fall take us?
Updated: October 4, 2012
WINTER October 2012 to April 2013
Once again we found ourselves on the road and heading north… then west… then slightly northwest! And, I can say, I-10 didn’t get the best of my back curtains this time. I took them down ahead of time!
Fortunately the weather has been pretty good (although one day of severe storms and a couple days of rain). We found ourselves switching from air-conditioning during the day to throwing on an extra blanket in the evening. So the summer clothes have been replaced with warmer warms in anticipation of it getting “cooler” quickly.
Okay, okay… I finally have a few moments to update this! We’ve been busy sight-seeing and have managed to see a great deal in the last couple weeks. We’ve seen some odd things and some really neat things!
One of the “neat” things was the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, right off Highway 231 (AL). The museum has over 18,000 artifacts and 20+ buildings to see. Check out my slideshow of the museum under the ALABAMA PHOTOS section. I put over 100 photos on it – a great day-trip!
For the odd… well, we made the trip to Enterprise where they had the Boll Weevil Festival downtown, right around the Boll Weevil Monument. Oh… LOL! And that wasn’t the weirdest thing… but I have to save a few things for the autobiography!
The weather has actually been pretty nice. We had a few days of rain and a couple dips down into the low 50s… fingers-crossed it will stay warm for a little longer.
Eek! Well, the whole weather thing changed thanks to Hurricane Sandy “slash” Post-Tropical Storm Sandy. We experienced a few days of wind here and even had warning issued for high-profile vehicles. But I certainly won’t complain – no rain or storms, just winds. Being Floridians, we certainly feel for those folks affected by Sandy.
We recently attended one of the handfuls of Peanut Butter festivals around this part of the state. Another interesting experience to add to the list! Also saw the Johnston Peanut Butter Mill, which was one of the first around to sell peanut butter. Thank goodness for that! Reese’s wouldn’t be the same without it!
Traveled home (Florida) for awhile and came back to explore a few other sites in this region of Alabama. One was to see Fort Toulouse – Fort Jackson State Historic Park in Wetumpka (got to love the name!). Our timing was great – the start of the annual five day Frontier Days event! It was exciting to see period costume and hear musicians and cannon-fire throughout the day. The park is lovely and if you find yourself near there, make sure to plan a visit. They have a campground and it was just beautiful this time of year with the Spanish moss, changing leaves…
Well, it’s been some weeks since I updated this… a lot going on… including digging out the Christmas decorations! Hard to believe that is almost 2013. Where has the year gone?
And now the apocalypse is upon us… luckily we have a Chevy Silverado (although no box of Twinkies… I wonder if Moon Pies will do?) to escape to…
We survived the apocalypse (all of them, apparently there were some delays?), but found ourselves escaping in the Silverado after all on Christmas night.
On Christmas afternoon we found ourselves in the midst of severe weather and potential tornadoes. Instead of watching holiday movies, our eyes were on the local weather! The RV resort lacked adequate shelter facilities, so when the tornado warning went into effect, we grabbed our hardhats (I knew that souvenir hardhat from Hoover Dam would come in handy), a couple stiff pillows and flashlights, and then made a mad dash to the Silverado. We buckled ourselves in and drove to a low ditch-area near the park entrance. Moments later we saw that other Campers had the same idea as us. Fortunately the storm passed quickly over the resort; however, a park less than two miles away had a tornado touch-down. Thankfully no one was injured but several homes were destroyed. So definitely an unforgettable Christmas!
And the weather certainly has not gotten any better (sorry Mr. Groundhog, you need to watch the Weather Channel!) for the U.S. this winter. We have been staying in the Southeastern states and find there is just no escaping the crazy weather – from severe storms and flooding to gusty winds and cold temps… but alas, we never were “fair-weather” Campers anyway.
Although it has been harder to plan outdoor advantages, such as the gold panning and ghost hunting we have on our list of things to do in the next few weeks.
Well, in the midst of the cold weather dipping into the Southern US, the RV furnace has went out. After making some adjustments it worked for a few days and then went out again. And since it is winter, it seems furnace parts are in demand! So we patiently wait on back-order parts to replace the sail and limit switch.
Fortunately the latest winter storm (I refuse to call them by name – it just makes winter drag on, don’t you think?) has just left us holding our hats with 30-40 mph wind gusts.
The other day I managed to get a Southern delight – a deep-fried banana-flavored Moon Pie! I wish I would have taken a photo of the beautiful deep-fried creation. The top was dusted with powered (confectioner’s) sugar and since the Moon Pie was hot, the sugar formed a sweet glaze on top. Never been one to go crazy over fried foods, but, my oh my, was that a delightful surprise on the palette! Before heading out of the region I will be sure to get another… I need to try a chocolate-flavored so I can compare them! Or at least that’s my excuse!!!
I feel badly about not keeping this up-to-date lately. I think this is the longest I have went without posting an update in several years. Shame on me! There are been a lot going on… and just when the weather started getting nicer again and we were exploring new territory, the temperature reached record lows for the season! Brrr! Where is Spring? Makes me glad to plan the summer travels!
There is just so much of this beautiful country to see and many things we would like to see again. Plus I find a few of my favorite souvenir tee-shirts wearing… I need to go back and get some more!
At the moment when find ourselves repacking the winter clothes (please, please don’t make us dig them out again, Mother Nature!) and plan the summer route… heading westward! I hope to update this more before the rig crosses the mighty Mississippi River… meanwhile, Safe Travels!
Updated: March 28, 2013
SUMMER April 2013 to October 2013
I feel badly about not updating this sooner. Just got busy with repacking clothes around (and, yes, Mother Nature made us dig out the winter clothes once again!) and then washing, waxing and buffing the home for the road…only for the weather to get cold again and rainy… and suddenly into the 90s.
As we headed west, north and then northwest… the temps dropped to near freezing! But I’m getting ahead of myself… did I mention the dark looming skies and the blinding rains? The flooded highways and tornado stricken areas? No? Well, throw a few days of that in the mix! What a crazy spring this has been.
And don’t even get me started on the whole GPS-thing. Give me a free State Welcome Center map and a 99 cent highlighter any day of the week! The little man in the tiny “global positioning” box is oblivious to driving a 53′ rig through narrow city streets, low-lying bridges and up-and-down 2 – 7 % grades!
Speaking of grades… you know, we’ve never really explored the Ozarks. Normally anytime we’ve visited Arkansas it has rained and, honestly, we have just breezed through Missouri (except one occasion we made a brief trip to St. Louis and one of the local caverns). So we never really “experienced” the Ozarks. So those rolling hills we encountered on the main highways were a bit misleading… once you get off those and turn onto the back roads, you realize that the Ozarks are mountains. Duh!
The wheels have stopped rolling for a bit to explore the Ozarks. I’m looking forward to visiting caverns, hiking trails along the many lakes and taking a train ride (or two!) in the weeks ahead…
Well, it certainly hasn’t taken long to start visiting the local attractions! One of the first stops we made was at the Ralph Foster Museum located on the campus of the College of the Ozarks. This was a great museum to visit (even former PM Margaret Thatcher had made a visit here) and one of the star attractions is the original truck from “The Beverly Hillbillies” TV show. Another point of interest was the Edwards Mill, which is just minutes from the Ralph Foster museum.
We toured the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery and Table Rock Dam. Plus several other things so far… it appears it is going to be a very busy season for us! And, good golly, looking at this local tour guide… I’m seeing a lot of buffets in my future!
What?! Snow in May? YES!!! I am not kidding – it snowed! Snowed in May!!! Yes! Yes! I can’t believe it! Can you tell I’m a bit surprised? I had to dig out my winter gloves and jacket (which had just been packed!) because we were on the edge of getting either sleet or snow. Well, let me tell you, not only did we get a few hours of sleet, but we also got snow!
And then the weather warmed up again and we are now running the air-conditioning non-stop. What a crazy spring (or winter-spring, seeing how Mother Nature hates us!) this has been already.
Okay… let’s see where I left off… hmm… we’ve taken in a few other attractions and shows. One was a dinner murder mystery show. All I will say is that they definitely murdered my chicken dinner. It was a crime most fowl! Ha! Oh, definitely worth mentioning is Silver Dollar City. We enjoyed that – especially the train ride (we learned what a “stick up” was!) and the Silver Dollar Saloon show.
Saw a few haunted places to visit and look forward to checking those out… who knows what else we will get ourselves into…
I’ll try to keep this updated a little better… but if you have been following TMN all these years, you know I get busy!
Updated: May 14, 2013