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.
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!
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! :)
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? ;)
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
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! ;)
Having traveled the country coast-to-coast several times in a recreational vehicle, there are some things I have learned that are important to remember. The first is to remember which truck stops offer the best pizza. This is extremely important to know, especially when you are traveling down some rough roads and need an excuse to pull-off for an hour or so.
The second most important thing would be which campgrounds to avoid – period. Of course, there are several reasons to remember these especially if they are located beside active railways, at the end of airport runways, in flood zones or are just plain horrible. And, believe me, there are some pretty horrible campgrounds out there!
The third thing to remember is how much you have paid for fuel. Now this may not be a concern for most, but when you are a Full-Time RVer and you pull-up to a pump to see over $5 a gallon for diesel and you are towing a forty-foot fifth-wheel with a one-ton dually, well, you have a tendency to clutch your heart before handing over the entire contents of your wallet to the station attendant.
Thankfully fuel prices have been dropping and that makes us Happy Travelers! :)
The last of the U.S. National Park’s fee-free dates for 2014 is here! During these times, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. So grab a picnic basket, field guide, some hiking poles and head to your nearest national park this Veterans Day.
November 11, 2014
For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website.
If you are or planning to be in Florida in a few days, make sure to visit one of the many beautiful state parks the Sunshine State has to offer. November 11, 2014 is Veterans Day and admission is free at all the Florida State 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 the free admission.
Over the years we’ve had our own unexplained ghostly adventures… like our time spent at Bodie State Historic Park (CA). Bodie is a modern-day ghost town. When the California State Park system took over Bodie, it left all the buildings as they stood. This is one of the most unforgettable places we have ever been. There is so much history there it consumes you. You can almost feel towns folk walking along the street beside you. Peering through windows you feel invisible eyes staring back. It is a must-see for anyone visiting the Eastern Sierras.
Another place to note is Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield (MO). This was the first major Civil War battle west of the Mississippi. The park is a five-mile driving tour and you are literally driving back through time. In fact, at one point I think I really did! I had gotten out of the truck at one stop to take a photo of two cannons in a field and when I walked past the first cannon I was overcome with chills. I assumed it was from stepping out of the air-conditioning into the ninety-plus degree heat. But after I took a photo of the farthest cannon, I walked back to the first and I got chills and goosebumps again. I stepped toward the cannon to take a photo and swear I heard someone shout “NO” in my ear. Boy, did I hustle myself back to the safety of the Silverado!
Although we have visited Pensacola Lighthouse (FL) several times, we returned to visit last year to see the lighthouse decorated for Christmas. Even though the lighthouse is haunted, I didn’t see the Ghost of Christmas Past – but I did feel a section of cool air as I entered the Keeper’s room. The last time I visited there had a similar experience in that area. And on the previous visit I had also felt someone watching me in the basement. So even after telling myself I wasn’t going in the basement this last visit, I did. However, they had a clothed dummy sitting at the desk at the base of the stairs and it startled me so much I jumped backwards onto the steps again!
Then there was the time we planned a trip to see Appomattox Court House National Historic Park (VA). Those a little dusty with their history may recall the name but not the significance of the location. This was the surrender grounds, where Generals Lee and Grant put an end to the Civil War. The building where this historic moment occurred, the McLean House, still stands. After touring the house we went outside to one of the other buildings. No sooner had we stepped through the doorway when we found ourselves quickly stepping back outside. Hard to explain why we all got goosebumps, but it just felt very wrong in there. We resumed our tour of the park and enjoyed the other buildings without problem. At least for a little while…I have a tendency to lag behind as I read every plaque and take a number of photos. We were visiting the new jail and the other two were already heading outside while I was alone upstairs. I was snapping a few photos of the window when I felt a chill. Looking down I saw I had goosebumps again. I shrugged it off until I heard a cough come from the cell. Then I headed down the stairs as quickly as I could!
But the eeriest thing happened just a few weeks ago while touring the USS Alabama (AL). The battleship is about seven hundred feet long from stem to stern and if you take the self-guided tours it will take about two hours. Parts of the ship were rather warm and stuffy and I quickly found myself finishing the tour alone. Although there were other people touring the ship, I managed to always stay a room or two apart. I was getting a little dehydrated and just poked my head in a few rooms to quickly finish that section of the tour. As I looked in one room, an officer’s quarters I believe, I noted the typewriter on the desk and was about to head to the next room when I heard the sound of an old typewriter. It was just two keystrokes. My first thought was that another room nearby had some sort of voiced display and a visitor had activated it. So I quickly continued with the tour. But after I finished that section of the tour, I saw there was nothing like that. Where did that distinctive sound come from?
Sometimes when you visit historic sites you get more awareness of history than you paid admission for… ;)
In the Fall of 2008 we were fortunate to be exploring California’s Gold Country. One day trip had us visiting the Northstar Mine Powerhouse Museum in Grass Valley (CA). The museum had hundreds of exhibits, including a stamp mill and the largest Pelton Wheel ever constructed.
Along the self-guided tour, I remember thinking how difficult it must have been to work with the huge and often dangerous equipment during the mining process. A hazardous profession dedicated to finding a little lump of glittery color.
After an hour in the museum I was glad to be outside again and cross the bridge to the little picnic area. It was a pleasant day to just sit there and soak up the golden sun.
Today I turn on the television and see others using similar method, once again in search of a little speck of gold. Funny how we have a way of falling back into history.
If you don’t have any plans for today, don’t forget that entrance fees to U.S. National Park are waived on September 27, 2014 in honor of Public Lands Days. Or mark your calendar for the last fee-free date of the year – November 11, 2014 (Veterans Day). During these times, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.
For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm
No, it’s not snow! Just sugary white sand along the Gulf Coast. :)
Can you believe that the last of the Big Three (July Fourth, Memorial Day, Labor Day) summer holidays is already here?! For most folks, this is the last time they will head to that favorite camping spot until next summer. Whatever your plans are this Labor Day weekend… safe travels!