Memorial Day Weekend is… HERE! That means it is officially camping season. So if you haven’t already dusted off the camping gear, packed the RV or made cabin reservations at your favorite park… you are a little late.

But don’t fret! Some parks still have openings for the holiday – just call ahead and check on their availability. And don’t forget to take along and proudly display The Flag!

No matter where you are spending this holiday, please have a safe one and remember those who have fought (and still are!) for our freedom.

The Chevy Silverado on our recent visit to King Ranch.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © The USS LEXINGTON

If you are in Corpus Christi (Texas), plan on visiting the USS Lexington. The Lexington, an Essex Class aircraft carrier, was commissioned in 1943. She was nicknamed the “Blue Ghost” by Tokyo Rose because of several reports of being sunk. At the time of her decommission in 1991, she was the oldest working carrier in the U.S. Navy.

There are five self-guided tours, each beginning and ending on the hangar deck. From aircraft, exhibits, movie theater, cafe and gift shop, be prepared to spend a day on board. One of the hidden gems we found was a ball cap (of the Lexington) worn by Commander Jerry Linenger on board the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1994.

Admission is $14 for adults and $12 for seniors. Gated parking across the street is $3.50 and requires a token at exit (which you pay for at Admissions). There is no RV parking, so only take your tow vehicle. There is free shuttle service from the pier to the hangar deck.   The tour consists of a great deal of walking and climbing – sturdy shoes are recommended. And don’t forget your camera!

 

Who knew shopping for souvenirs could be so dangerous? ;)

If you find yourself near Corpus Christi (TX), plan to visit Padre Island National Seashore. The park consists of 70 miles of coastline, sand dunes and tidal flats. In addition to being the nesting grounds for the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, the park also boasts over 300 species of birds.

At the park you’ll find the Malaquite Visitor Center (consisting of small museum, gift shop, camp store, restrooms and pavilion), campgrounds, boat ramp, picnic shelters, nature trails and windsurfing/kayaking rentals. There is plenty to do – from beach-combing and birdwatching to bicycling and fishing.

It can be windy along the beach and can be buggy at times near the marshes. And don’t forget to watch out for Portuguese Man-O-War and jellyfish!

Admission to the park is $10 per vehicle (7 day pass) and an additional $5 if you want to use the Bird Island Basin area. Be forewarned, the park is not all paved. A short drive after the visitor center you will find yourself driving on the beach! And four-wheel drive is recommended for travel beyond the first couple of miles. However, we did see a handful of folks with their RVs along the first section. You might ask at the entrance gate about current road conditions before taking your own Big Rig beach driving though!

Finding new roads in Texas… although this one leads straight into the Gulf of Mexico!

If you find yourself traveling I-10 near the Louisiana/Texas State Line, make sure to stop at the Texas Travel Information Center in Orange (TX) to see Blue Elbow Swamp. The Center has a boardwalk that extends into Blue Elbow Swamp and you can view a variety of plants, trees and wildlife.

Blue Elbow Swamp is part of Tony Housman State Park and Wildlife Management Area. The area has a fascinating history that even includes cannibals. Yep! So take some time to forget about highway traffic and take a relaxing walk in the swamp. ;)

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 free-weekend.

April 18-19, 2015 (opening weekend of National Park Week)

For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website.

After enjoying some quiet time in Louisiana, we are ready to roll westward again.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Well, the Big Bear has found its way to that bumpty-bump-da-bump highway again (otherwise known as I-10 westbound). I think it’s time for the Chevy Silverado to find us some new roads! ;)

If you are in an area that observes Daylight Savings Time, don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour on Sunday, March 8th at 2 AM. Let’s just hope Mother Nature springs forward too! :)

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Marine One

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Marine One @ the National Museum of Naval Aviation

Need something to do this holiday weekend? U.S. National Parks will waive entrance fees February 14th – 16th in honor of Presidents’ Day. From Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace to LBJ National Historical Park, there are some great presidential parks and historic sites to visit.

If you want to spend a little more money on your Valentine, consider visiting a site like George Washington’s Mount Vernon or Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. And don’t forget to look in your own backyard. Many museums offer presidential “surprises” like the photo above of Marine One at the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

And don’t forget to mark the opening of National Park Week (April 18th-19th, 2015) on your calendar as the next fee-free days for U.S. National Parks.

If you enjoy state parks and find yourself traveling in the Florida Panhandle, don’t forget to check out Big Lagoon State Park. The park consists of over 600 acres of land located near beautiful Perdido Key and the Gulf of Mexico. There are five miles of nature trails to enjoy the birds and other wildlife. And if hiking isn’t your thing, they have a wooden boardwalk and observation deck a short distance from a parking area. In addition to hiking and birding, the park is a great place for photography, bicycling, fishing or beach-combing.

Big Lagoon State Park also offers a boat ramp, canoe launch, picnic pavilions, amphitheater and campground. The campground will accommodate rigs up to 4o'; however, be wary if you have a Big Rig as some sites may require some effort to back-in.

Entrance to the park is $6 per vehicle (up to 8 people) and use of the boat launch is $12 (up to 8 people). The park is open every day from 8AM to sunset.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Lately, I have been busy uploading more photos to TMN and came across this photo taken at the one campground that really surprised us.

We were southbound on I-77 and decided to call it a night in Fancy Gap (VA). Daylight was fading and when we pulled into the campground we immediately thought this was not the place for a Big Rig. All I can remember from the entrance is trees – lots and lots of trees – and no RVs in sight. The friendly gal at check-in assured us they were Big Rig friendly and we found ourselves being escorted around a curve to a row of pull-thru sites in the woods. The sites in the row were tiered to conform to the mountain, yet they were spacious, level and private. We were actually camping in the woods without the hassles that comes from having a Big Rig! Considering all the ill-designed and obstacle-cluttered campgrounds we have visited over the years, this was a genuine surprise.

Now as we are prepping the rig for the next long haul, I wonder what summer adventures we will get ourselves into. After all, you never know what surprise is waiting for you just around the corner. ;)

We haven’t seen a UFO since our stay in Roswell (NM)… so imagine our delight to see this cool UFO house in Gulf Breeze (FL). And if you look closely you can see the current occupants are peering out a window!

Looking back…

In the first months of 2008, we found ourselves camping in Port Angeles (WA) between Olympic National Park and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We could see the mountains of British Columbia (Canada) in the distance. Behind us was Olympic National Park. It was an amazing location with gorgeous views.

During the day the beach was active with surfers, paddle boarders and kayakers. Yes, surfers in Washington! They surf the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the colder months and aren’t afraid to don their wet suits and brave the cold for a few seconds on their boards.

As winter progressed we were very fortunate with snowfall. Just a few times and not too heavy, although the cold winds remind you that winter can be unforgiving. I did love seeing the snow fall on the beach. Close to shore it stops  – about two feet above the sand/water.

It was amazing what we saw at the beach in winter. One day we saw a small octopus had washed up and three bald eagles were tearing into it! If only I had my camera at the time – what a sight! And in addition to periodic whale sightings, we also saw submarines heading out to the Pacific Ocean.

So where ever we end up each winter, I try not to complain too much about the cold weather – knowing that somewhere along the Strait there are surfers eagerly awaiting to head out into the icy water. ;)

A friendly reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV at the first of the New Year! And if you are a Full-Timer, don’t forgot to schedule those yearly rig check-ups that usually get overlooked while you are on-the-road.

 Hope 2015 brings you safe travels! :)

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Santa even visits Leprechauns! ;)

Merry Christmas and Safe Travels from the Three Modern Nomads

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

 

If you find yourself in Pensacola during the holidays, you have to stop by the Pensacola Lighthouse located on the Naval Air Station and right across from the Naval Aviation Museum. The lighthouse and buildings are decorated for Christmas. Just about every room has a decorated tree!

The admission fee ($6 for adults, $4 for seniors) includes the lighthouse and museum exhibits. And, did I mention the lighthouse is haunted?  ;)

For more information, visit their website or see more at TMN.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Two trees in our fifth-wheel

It’s that time of year again! And up go our two Christmas trees… yep, 2 trees in 1 RV!

If you have been putting off a trip to your local U.S. National Park, mark your calendar for with the 2015 fee-free days. On these dates, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

January 19, 2015
Martin Luther King Jr. Day

February 14-16, 2015
Presidents Day weekend

April 18-19, 2015
opening weekend of National Park Week

August 25, 2015
National Park Service Birthday

September 26, 2015
National Public Lands Day

November 11, 2015
Veterans Day

For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website.

On this date three years ago…

We were in Texas, enjoying the beautiful Hill Country. We made a trip to Austin to visit the Texas Forces Military Museum. This museum is located inside Camp Mabry and has a variety of exhibits – from the history of the Alamo to a piece of the Berlin Wall to modern weaponry.

The fun thing about traveling the country is that you are bound to met people from an area you’ve visited. When we come across some Austinites we always joke about meeting Audie Murphy there. Usually confused by our encounter with this famous hero, we have to elaborate about posing with the Audie Murphy statue (across from the military museum).  Unfortunately we have yet to met one that has visited the museum!

Most military bases have some sort of museum and they are often free (but rely on donations) to the public. There is a great deal of history at these museums – and you will be surprised what you see! If there is a base in or near your area, look online to see if they have a museum. Because you just never know when you’ll run into the Three Modern Nomads – chances are we’ve already been there! ;)

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