It was a beautiful day at the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival (Foley, AL).
We ran into some rain this morning on the roadways. Glad to be “home” inside the rig now and not have to worry about traveling during a storm. We’d watch the Weather Channel, but this park doesn’t have cable TV… thankfully we can rely on the NOAA weather radio for severe weather alerts.
All RVers should invest in a NOAA weather alert radio. A nice handheld radio with wall adapter and back-up batteries can be purchased for around $20-30 and in case a storm Watch or Warning is issued, you will have the latest information.
With storm season upon us, it is a good reminder to be prepared!
Been too busy to participate in National Park week? Don’t worry, there is still plenty going on at your local National Park Service this weekend! In addition to waiving park entrance fees, the park service has some other events going on. Click on the links below to find out more information on how you can participate.
April 22nd Earth Day
April 23rd National Park Instameet
April 24th Park Rx Day
The third book in my Campground Mystery series, Dying to Work Camp, is now available in larger print at Amazon. The story takes place in the State of Washington during the apple harvest where a handful of “working campers” help an orchard owner pick apples.
Although I don’t get into as much trouble as my main character, I must confess that being a Full-Time RVer is just as exciting. The idea behind this mystery came to me while touring an apple processing plant during the harvest season. The tour guide was discussing the latest imaging technology, while I was thinking, “What a great place for a murder!”
We were fortunate to explore the area and visit an apple orchard during the harvest. The photo above was taken at the edge of the orchard – where the property dropped into a steep bank and below was a deep lake. Until we heard the train, we hadn’t even noticed the tracks below!
It was certainly a memorable visit – from the farming community of Quincy to the surreal drive to the city of Wenatchee – the “Apple Capital of the World”. Beyond Wenatchee are peaks and mountains that lead to the “Bavarian Village” of Leavenworth.
Fortunately, we didn’t end-up battered, bruised and bin-deep in murder as my main character did!
After ten years of Full-Time RVing, we have encountered our share of bad parks. Every unpleasant experience puts a giant X on their park listing in our campground directory and earns the offending park an unfavorable online review.
Sometimes the problem is simply the park’s location. Like the one in Texas that bragged on being the place to get plenty of rest, only it didn’t indicate in the ad that you had to sleep during the day because the campground was located beside railroad tracks that were active at night. We were also lured in to one park in Mississippi that promised Southern charm, only the appeal wore off as soon as we realized we were at the end of an airport runway. Although one of the worst locations we’ve stumbled upon was in Florida. A small, seemingly quiet park appeared to be a good place for a few nights’ rest. The first night was so peaceful we actually considered extending our stay a few more days. Luckily we didn’t because that evening we were awakened to some bone-shaking music until the wee hours of the morning. We were unaware that the backside of the park bordered a nightclub that had been closed the previous evening!
Even if the location is ideal, sometimes it is the condition of the park that affects your stay. Usually the offender is meager Wi-Fi or poor cable TV. We’ve certainly had our share of that and while it is no problem for a night or two, issues with this during an extended stay reflect poorly in our online reviews. These are generally simple fixes and if nothing is done to correct the problem it indicates poor management. A few years ago we overnighted at a park in Florida that offered a Wi-Fi “hotspot”. When asked at check-in, we were told that it was under a tree in the middle of the RV park! Another problem we occasionally encounter is water pressure, albeit that it is normally too high. Imagine our surprise when we stayed at a park in Pennsylvania that had the water pressure at twenty. However, the management insisted that such a low number was safe!
Though sometimes it is the staff members who make you feel unwelcomed. Like the time we pulled into a park in Maryland and found the office closed and no after-hours check-in board. As we started to leave a staff member appeared on a golf-cart and started screaming at us that we were going to jackknife as we swung the rig around to exit. She literally kept screaming “jackknife” over and over. In reflection, I wish I would have taken a video of the maniac screaming at us – that would have gone viral! And the time we stopped at a campground in Virginia and politely asked the clerk for a Big Rig pull-thru for the night. She said people like us needed to “just go to a truck stop” – so we did! And lest we forget the park we overnighted at in Arkansas. The cable TV didn’t work and we immediately reported it to the office since we were being charged additional for it. A work-camper came over to our site, never even looked at the frayed cable at the pedestal. He just said, “I don’t think you need it tonight” and left!
Occasionally it is the park guests who bring about an unfavorable stay. Clearly it is hard to be quiet when your slides are on-top of each other in some of the older parks. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be a good neighbor. Like the time we were staying in Washington and the woman camped beside us wanted to know what antenna TV channels we got. Instead of coming over to our site and knocking on our door, she opened her slide-window, took a cane and pounded on our door. Imagine our surprise when we answered the door to see a cane poking out a window at us! Or the folks in Virginia who parked their golf cart under our master bedroom slide because they were, well, frankly, morons. And don’t get me started on the park in Texas where the neighbors built a Tiki bar on their site. By the third day the “bar” included a large flat screen TV, karaoke machine and additional seating. They expanded beyond their tow vehicle space and then started parking on our campsite. It was senseless to complain as we saw the park manager had become a patron of the bar! We found another park for the remainder of our stay in the area.
From dry camps to high-end RV resorts – we certainly have had some memorable reviews! After all these years, we have learned to take the bad with the good. Thankfully with so many online review sites, we have a way of warning other travelers. So don’t be shy about taking recourse by writing reviews. And, remember, if you visit a RV park in Maryland and a maniac starts screaming at you – get it on video!
In the Spring of 2014 we found ourselves making the pilgrimage to George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon (Virginia). It is hard to describe how you feel viewing Washington’s deathbed, approaching his tomb in silence or seeing his ghastly false teeth! And then after touring their home, you sit on the porch overlooking the Potomac River realizing that you have traveled back to America’s early history. It was an awe-inspiring experience – one we certainly won’t forget.
After a harrowing work camp experience, Full-Time RVer Molly Miller is anxious to get back on the road again. Molly, her handsome husband-to-be and their precocious pug travel to the North Olympic Peninsula for a well-earned respite.
They quickly find that Moon Beach RV Resort is anything but relaxing. Soon after their arrival the trio witness a grave robbery. Unfortunately, there are more than just restless spirits along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
When Molly and Jove are asked to be fill-in camp hosts, they find themselves dealing with Boo, Bigfoot and the border patrol. But it’s a pair of rude bird-watchers and the reclusive Mr. Smith that Molly sets her sights on.
Once again the trio is camped on the front-lines of criminal activity. Only this time Molly’s sleuthing could literally blow the case wide open.
What a night along the Gulf Coast! Severe storms and a tornado warning had us scrambling to the Chevy. Although the storms moved on earlier this morning, the coast remained in a wind advisory for most of the day. We made a trip to the beach to see the waves. Surprisingly, the beach was deserted except for a few birds and this crazy photographer!
Visiting the local flea market was as far as we got this weekend! We’ll just have to find some new roads another day…
An excerpt from Our Travels…
… I had not read any of the “Twilight Saga” while we were in Washington, so I had no idea that when we visited the town of Forks that we should be looking for vampires and werewolves instead of Bigfoot. Although, looking back at my photos of the Forks Timber Museum, it is possible I saw a werewolf. Or could it have been a hairy lumberjack?
The Hoh Rainforest is one of my favorite parks. The area receives over one hundred inches of rainfall each year. An interesting thing about this region is the Bigfoot sightings. We joked about stepping in Bigfoot poo along the trail (although it was more likely from some elk we spotted) and I purchased some Bigfoot souvenirs from a shop located just outside the park.
Our next adventure took us to Cape Flattery in the northwestern most point of the Continental U.S. – located on the edge of Neah Bay. It is a beautiful day-trip through the Makah Indian Reservation. The hike along the Cape Flattery Trail can be slippery if it is raining, but well worth the effort. Tatoosh Island Lighthouse is three miles from shore and can be seen quite clearly from the end of the trail. 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…
It was a lovely day to get in the Chevy and find some new roads…
The first of several fee-free days scheduled for 2016 is just around the corner. So consider visiting your local U.S. National Park on Monday, January 18th. Entrance fees to the parks will be waived that day. In addition, some other special offers may apply.
For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website.
During the summer we were visited by the Grinch, not once, but twice. This Grinch had attempted to take items we had stored under our rear slide. Fortunately each attempt resulted in us waking from the clatter of the cable-lock being pulled. The Grinch didn’t realize our stuff was securely locked to the underside of the fifth-wheel. And it wasn’t just us; other Campers had a late-night visit from the Grinch. Lucky for the Grinch other Campers were more trusting and woke to find their Yeti coolers and other items missing.
Imagine our surprise when the other night we had yet another visit from the Grinch! Thankfully our items were secure and the Grinch ran off when the scare lights were turned on.
What can you do to deter the Grinch? First of all, lock all your outside compartments when you leave your site or go inside for the night. And if you aren’t near your RV, don’t leave your compartments wide-open. Don’t consider it a hassle to lock everything; consider it assurance that your stay won’t be ruined by a Grinch!
Another thing to do is secure your items when you go away for the day or plan to be gone longer. If you have bicycles, lawn chairs and other items scattered all over your site, who is going to notice if one just disappears? Take time to gather your items and put them in a secure spot – such as under your fifth-wheel hitch or by a picnic table. If you have bicycles, coolers or other loose items, consider locking them to your RV hitch, bumper or a picnic table. And if you know you are going to be gone a while, ask your neighbor to keep an eye on your site.
With camping toys being so expensive these days, don’t reward the Grinch! Take a few minutes to secure your stuff.
Not in the holiday spirit yet? It’s not too late to visit your local museum or historic site. Many locations decorate for Christmas and some even host special holiday tours. When we are in Florida, we love to visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation during the holidays. They have an area called Homefront, USA (it depicts a hometown during WWII) which they decorate for Christmas. So if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed this holiday season load your kin into the old Family Truckster and plan on visiting a local museum. It’s what Clark would do.😉
If you have been putting off a trip to your local U.S. National Park, mark your calendar for with the 2016 fee-free days. On these dates, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply. So what are you waiting for? Unwrap that new 2016 calendar and start planning!
January 18, 2016
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
April 16-24, 2016
National Park Week
August 25-28 2016
National Park Service Birthday
September 24, 2016
National Public Lands Day
November 11, 2016
For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website.
We had a chance to see the El Galeón today. The ship is an authentic replica of a 16th century galleon that was part of Spain’s West Indies fleet. At 170-foot and 495 ton – it is pretty impressive!
In honor of Veterans Day the entrance fees to Florida State Parks (except the Skyway Fishing Pier SP) will be free on November 11, 2015.
The last of the U.S. National Park’s fee-free dates for 2015 is almost here! On November 11, 2015 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.
On this date seven years ago…
We were exploring scenic Highway 391 in the Eastern Sierras (California). Our first stop had us camping just outside Bridgeport, where we were fortunate to visit Bodie State Historical Park. That morning we woke up to a rather chilly 19 degrees. In fact, in all our travels it was the first time our water hose had ever frozen!
Later that day we were on the road again, traveling from the chilly ghost town to the hellish landscape of Death Valley National Park, where the temperature was near 100 degrees. It was certainly one of the most memorable trips we have had to date.
A few days ago, while driving along the back-roads of Louisiana we came across several of these “Warning: Speed Trap Area” signs. Not sure if someone just wanted to slow down traffic for a few miles or if they were warning drivers of a potential speed trap. Whatever the case, it certainly kept traffic under the speed limit!
It also reminded us of the signs we saw while traveling through Pennsylvania a few years ago. They warned that you were traveling through an “Aggressive Driver High Crash Area”. In addition to the warning signs, some areas had dots painted on the road so that drivers would stay the proper distance from other vehicles.
Regardless of where you’re traveling, remember to slow down – you never know what you’re going to miss driving in the fast lane!
We had an interesting “visit” to the USS Orleck in Lake Charles (LA). You can read more about it in the Our Travels section.
If you haven’t visited your local U.S. National Park recently, don’t forget that September 26, 2015 is a fee-free day! In celebration of National Public Lands Day, most parks will be free. To find a park near you, visit NPS’s website and click on “Find a Park” in the top left corner.
National Public Lands Day is the largest volunteer event to help clean up public lands. Want to lend a hand on that day and earn another free day (coupon)? More information about NPLD can be found at the Public Lands Day website.
Don’t forget to visit your local U.S. National Park on August 25th in honor of Founders’ Day (the National Park Service Birthday). To celebrate entrance fees to all the parks will be waived. Already have plans? Well, stop by the National Park Foundation’s website and sign the birthday card.
August 25, 2015
National Park Service Birthday