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If you haven’t visited your local U.S. National Park recently, don’t forget that September 24, 2016 is a fee-free day. In celebration of National Public Lands Day, most parks will be free. To find a park near you, visit their website and click on “Find Your Park” in the top left corner.

A New Year reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV! 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 2016 brings you safe travels! 🙂

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.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Gulf Islands National Seashore - Fort Pickens (FL)

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Gulf Islands National Seashore – Fort Pickens (FL)

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.

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! 🙂

We were on I-85 when we heard an odd noise. Looked in the mirrors and saw our fender torn and hanging off, while chucks of tire were flapping about. Something on the road must have hit the tire. Got the rest of the fender off without damaging the rig more… but boy, oh boy, do we have a mess to buff out from that rubber! Anyway… traffic was going over 80 mph and it was unsafe to be in the rig. So we waited alongside the highway in 96 degree temps until the road service could come out.

Even though states have laws regarding getting over for disabled vehicles, not one vehicle did for us! I can’t believe how thoughtless people are on the roadways these days. Kudos to Eddie the repair guy for braving that speeding traffic while working under our rig. He even guided us in to the local Goodyear dealer so we could replace the spare with a new tire. Fortunately we are safe… buffing and ordering a new fender is not a problem. Easy fixes compared to our safety. 

For those who follow TMN, you probably recall our May Day blow-outs on I-35 and I-30 several years ago and know we are experienced at replacing tires and fenders. We just wished Cedar Creek would discount the fenders since we buy them annually. HAHA 😉

Photo by H.S. Cooper © PVC Flag Pole

Photo by H.S. Cooper © PVC Flag Pole

If you have been in a campground, especially during a flag-holiday, you have probably seen those rotating PVC-pipe flag poles. We have seen some really creative ones. People have taken the basic pattern and added a section for a name plaque or solar lights (great in parks with no street lights so your flag is lit in the evening) or have painted the pipe either black or silver.

Usually you can find at least one person in a campground who makes them. If you want to make one yourself, there are free instructions online.

You can find everything you need to complete one at a Lowe’s or Home Depot. A good quality U.S. flag will cost you $20 – $30. Less expensive ones may fade or fray, so keep that in mind when you purchase one.

When placing your flag pole at your site, be mindful of your neighbors and the landscapers. We have seen folks place their flag pole a little too close to their neighbor’s site and when their neighbors opened their car-door they emerge into a tangled flag! Also try not to place the flag in a lawn mowers path. In addition, remember to remove your flag pole during rain and wind storms.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © I-95 North

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

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Oh Pedro!

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

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Picnic Stop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Hope 2014 brings you Safe Travels! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Rose O’Neill home and statue

So you planned to take that dream trip across the country to a national park or visit that must-see museum only to find out it’s closed… What’s a family to do about vacation plans now?

There are many wonderful hidden treasures across the USA and if you take a closer look, a few are probably right in your own backyard!

The first thing to do is visit an area’s local tourist or visitor center website. Often they will list attractions, recreation and events and have links to other websites that contain more details. Don’t forget to look for small museums, historical sites and botanical gardens! And there are still places that offer free admission, but appreciate donations. Your support of these smaller attractions and non-profit organizations helps keep them open. You may find yourself enjoying the less popular attractions as they are not as crowded and their volunteers are eager to share information about the site with visitors.

So before you begin to panic about your upcoming travel plans, browse the web! Like TV shows? Find out about your favorite and visit places from the show, like the Walton’s Mountain Museum (Shuyler, VA). Enjoy history and art? Check out Rose O’Neill’s home “Bonniebrook” (Walnut Shade, MO). Love sci-fi? Drop by the International UFO Museum & Research Center (Roswell, NM). The possibilities are endless!

If you had planned to stay in a park lodge or campground, don’t fret! Most private campgrounds offer cabins with basic bunks and beds to deluxe cabins completely furnished.  Ask if they have discounts, as most campgrounds will offer a free night if you stay longer than a week. Although private campgrounds are a bit higher priced than national and state parks, consider ones with additional amenities like playground, scheduled activities/events, ice cream socials, free breakfast, Cable TV and WiFi to get the most for your money.

This is a beautiful country and there are plenty of ways to experience and explore the USA outside of it’s national parks and museums.

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Walton's Mountain Museum

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Walton’s Mountain Museum

  

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Gulf Islands National Seashore (FL)

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper © Gulf Islands National Seashore (FL)

If you haven’t visited your local U.S. National Park recently, don’t forget that September 28, 2013 is a fee-free day. In celebration of National Public Lands Day, most parks will be free. To find a park near you visit: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm and click on “Find a Park” in the top left corner.

PLANES…

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © LBJ’s Air Force One-Half

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©  Naval Aviation Museum

TRAINS…

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Train Caboose and Silverado

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Chevy and Train

and ‘MOBILES…

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Big Rig vs Little Rig

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Our Rig with the Big Rigs

THE PROPANE GAME by H.S. Cooper

THE PROPANE GAME by H.S. Cooper

The second book in my Campground Mystery series is now available in hardcover, softcover and PDF version! Find out what trouble Full-Time RVer Molly Miller gets into in THE PROPANE GAME.

FROM THE BACK COVER:

Molly Miller, sole winner of a $500 million lottery jackpot, has begun to settle into her new full-time RVing lifestyle in Emerald Bay, Florida. Surviving both gun-toting jewel thieves and a visit from her parents, she hopes to establish a quiet routine at Emerald Bay Campground.

When a famous mystery writer leaves her pug in Molly’s care, she quickly discovers that her RVing lifestyle will be anything but quiet. Between her mysterious Canadian neighbor’s obsession with propane and the arrival of a pair of rabble-rousing square dancers, Molly has her hands full at the campground.

With the help of her new four-legged companion and the local sheriff, Molly begins to unravel the mystery surrounding her Canadian neighbor. But will it be in time to save those she cares about from danger?

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Rainy Wednesday

I knew I shouldn’t have put my raincoat away…

A 'CLASS A' STASH by H.S. Cooper

A ‘CLASS A’ STASH by H.S. Cooper

The first book in my Campground Mystery series, A ‘CLASS A’ STASH is now available in an instant PDF version. Make sure you read the first book in the series before the second book, THE PROPANE GAME, comes out this Fall!

FROM THE BACK COVER:

Regardless of her being the sole winner of a $500 million lottery jackpot, Molly Miller is your average twenty-nine year old woman.  She just wants to take care of her family and friends and pursue her own goals.

After giving away most of her first installment check, Molly takes off in a new pickup truck and fifth-wheel to roam the United States and follow her dreams of being a writer.

Her first stop is Emerald Bay, Florida.  Although she had no intention of staying long, she decides to call Emerald Bay home for several months after befriending the handsome local sheriff.

Molly quickly becomes friends with the seasonal residents at Emerald Bay Campground and begins to enjoy her new RVing lifestyle.

When one of her fellow campers suffers a stroke, Molly begins to have doubts. Her suspicions of the honeymooners a few campsites away from her grow.  The pieces quickly begin to add up, but will it be in time to save Molly from dangerous criminals?

Photo by H.S. Cooper © GNS - Fort Pickens

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Gulf National Seashore – Fort Pickens

Looking ahead… there are a few more fee-free days at U.S. National Parks. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for at least one of these dates. During these times, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

August 25, 2013
(National Park Service Birthday)

September 28, 2013
(Public Lands Day)

November 9-11, 2013
(Veterans Day weekend)

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

NOTE: And don’t forget to support some of your local and non-profit attractions this year!

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Houseboat

Could it be better than RVing? I guess you wouldn’t have to worry about your slides being in the way of a tree or electric box! 🙂

A 'CLASS A' STASH by H.S. Cooper

A ‘CLASS A’ STASH by H.S. Cooper

Catch the first book in my new Campground Mystery series, A ‘Class A’ Stash, before the second book in the series, The Propane Game comes out later this summer! Get $10 off one copy of A ‘Class A’ Stash by using the coupon code SHARING10 at checkout! But hurry, this offer ends May 2, 2013*. Softcover edition of this new campground mystery is only $11.59… so $10 off is a steal of a deal!

*$10 off code and deadline according to information provided by publishing company

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Gulf National Seashore

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Gulf National Seashore

Celebrate Spring! This year National Park Week is celebrated April 20th-28th. Park entrance fees will be waived from April 22nd to April 26th.  From National Junior Ranger Day (April 20th) to Volunteer Day (April 27th) there will be something to do at your local park.

So dust off the old back pack and hiking boots and take advantage of National Park Week this April!

For more information and trip planning visit these sites:

http://www.nps.gov/npweek/

http://www.nationalparks.org/national-park-week

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

And this has been the lowest we’ve seen lately… actually saw $3.95 for gas and $4.33 for diesel North of I-10 in Florida a few days ago… Eek!

On the Road to Disaster by H.S. Cooper

If you haven’t thought about what to do in an emergency situation while on the road, consider some pre-planning with your family before making those travel plans. For more information on preparing for natural disasters, check out my book On the Road to Disaster.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © CHRISTMAS TORNADO

On Christmas afternoon we found ourselves in the midst of severe weather and potential tornadoes. Instead of watching holiday movies, all 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 Chevy 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.

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.

Sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation. Keeping alert of the weather and having a type of RV emergency plan can keep you and your family safe.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

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 check-ups that usually get overlooked while you are on-the-road.

 Hope 2013 brings you safe travels! 🙂

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper © RAINY FLORIDA DAY

Just a rainy Florida day… watching the Weather Channel and trying to figure out what Tropical Storm Isaac is going to do! If you RVing in an area that may be affected by this storm, please don’t take it lightly. Although RVs can withstand moderate winds, they are not intended to be used for shelter in any type of severe storm. Monitor your weather alert radio for changing conditions and follow evacuation orders. Safe travels!

Weather, Weather Everywhere

Evacuation with the RV

Weathering the Storm

Preparing for Disaster

The first book inA 'Class A' Stash by H.S. Cooper my new Campground Mystery series, A ‘Class A’ Stash,  is now available in paperback or hardback (with dust jacket). Readers can also read a sneak peak of the second book in the series, The Propane Game – available in 2013. Books can be purchased online.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Gulf Islands National Seashore (FL)

If you haven’t visited your local U.S. National Park recently, don’t forget that September 29, 2012 is a fee-free day. In celebration of National Public Lands Day, most parks will be free. To find a park near you visit: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm 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: http://www.publiclandsday.org/highlights/fee-free-day-and-coupons

On the Road to Disaster by H.S. Cooper

From fires in the west to tropical storms in the east… this summer is providing extreme weather for those travelling and camping.

If you haven’t thought about what to do in an emergency situation, consider some pre-planning with your family before you head out on the road this season.

Although RVs can withstand moderate winds, they are not intended to be used for shelter in any type of severe storm. All Campers should invest in a NOAA weather radio or weather alert radio. A good one can be purchased for around $30 and in the event a storm Watch or Warning is issued, you will have the latest information.

For more information on preparing for natural disasters, check out my book On the Road to Disaster by H.S. Cooper.

Rocky Mountain National Park

National Park Week (April 21-29, 2012) is around the corner and that means entrance fees to U.S. National Parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

If you haven’t visited one of the many beautiful U.S. National Park, why not dust off the old back pack and hiking boots and take advantage of National Park Week?

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

At the "top" of Great Sand Dunes National Park 🙂

We were traveling I-30 when severe storms hit (AK). Fortunately we found a campground to overnight.

As we make our final preparations for our long haul back to the East coast we are wondering what kind of weather we are going to encounter. It appears storm season is already upon us with the recent outbreaks of tornadoes. Although RVs are self-contained, they were not designed to be used for shelter in any type of severe storm.

We rely on our weather alert radio to keep us posted of any storm watches and warnings in or near our current area. All Campers – even if you are just a Weekender  –  should have  a weather alert radio on-board.  A good one can be purchased for around thirty dollars.

If we are on the road at the time, we find a safe place to pull over. Welcome centers and rest areas are great places because most have concrete structures to take shelter in, as well as having security personnel on duty.

We have been in campgrounds during severe storms. Some campgrounds have restrooms or recreation buildings that can be used for shelter. Many have concrete buildings that would be a solid structure to go as in the case of a tornado. But if you have time and know that severe weather will effect your area, make sure you seek an official shelter.

This is especially true of areas effected by hurricanes and flooding. You should find where to seek shelter and what evacuation route  is the closest. We have been through several hurricanes and the scariest part has to be the severe storms and tornadoes generated by feeder bands.

If you have not given any thought  about what to do on-the-road or in a campground during a severe storm, take a few minutes to discuss it with your family. A brief discussion on emergency plans could end up saving your lives.

If the situation is severe and you are told to evacuate the area – you must go. If it is a volunteer evacuation or if you want to leave on your own accord with your RV, make sure you have adequate fuel and cash and that you these items handy:

  • Canned Foods (and can opener, if needed)
  • Potable Water
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Weather Alert Radio
  • Personal Information (i.e. insurance papers)
  • Cell Phone (and extra batteries and the charger)
  • Camera
  • Medicines Needed
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Laptop Computer
  • Overnight Bag (with clothing and toiletries)

The overnight bag may be needed if you find yourself stranded and are suddenly forced to leave your RV. If you have pets, keep a bag for them with food, treats, a favorite toy and any medicines they need.

If you are planning to return to the area after the storm has passed, remember to listen to updates regarding possible road closures. If a mandatory evacuation was issued, make sure it has been lifted and that you are allowed to return before you head back. Be mindful of authorities and do what they say! They know things about current conditions and the local area emergencies that you do not.

As you head out on the road this travel season, keep your eyes and ears on the weather conditions. Make sure you have a stocked storm kit and take a few moments to discuss emergency plans with your family. A little preparation can help you weather stormy travels.

The truck (yes, it's dirty!) after a winter storm (WA).

Since Hollywood still hasn’t picked up on the idea of using a campground as the basis for a reality TV show and I still get a few emails each month asking about a third installment… Well, here are a few more unusual events we’ve experienced Full-Timing.

This is one we have only shared a few times because it is rather odd to bring up in a conversation. We were staying at a campground in Washington. Little did we know at the time of our arrival that the campground was located beside a cemetery and that we would be camped next to it. (You can read more about this at Campground Living: Better than Reality TV .) It was at the tail end of October, so the campground was dead (okay, pun intended) and it was just us and the current hosts camped in the park. On the third night, we were asleep when we heard activity outside. Peering out the windows revealed a woman with a flashlight and shovel roaming the cemetery across the chain-link fence. Now our first thoughts were some crazy Halloween prank, but after opening a window and hearing the woman talking to herself about getting back “the ring”… well, we grew a bit concerned. Our cell phone didn’t work well in the area, so we weren’t sure what to do until there was a knock at the door!  Normally we don’t open the door at night, but a peak out the window revealed the duty host. She heard the woman’s vehicle and saw some sort of activity and wanted to know if we had any idea what was going on. Of course, we had no clue – why would someone be at a cemetery in the middle of an October night with a flashlight and shovel? Hmm… Anyway, it was decided to contact the park owner and ask her how to proceed.  Eventually the owners arrived with the local law. The short of the story is the woman wanted her mother’s ring – she had died several years earlier. The woman was roaming the cemetery looking for the plot to dig up the ring. So forget the walking dead, it’s the roaming heirs you need to watch out for!

Your neighbors are dead-quite when you camp by a cemetery!

This reminds me of the Full-Timers we met at a RV resort in Florida who can’t part with their dearly departed pets. They have their pet ashes in little urns under their bed. Having lost a pet, I understand, but that’s a little too creepy for me. And it also serves as a reminder that if you buy a used RV to check under the bed storage area!

A question I got emailed after posting the second “Campground Living” asked if we have seen other “trophies” at campgrounds. No we haven’t – thank goodness! But there was a funny episode involving a bear.

Bear or Big Foot fur? Next time I see a bear, I hope to have the camera handy!

We were staying in California at the time and a bear made its way across the road near the campground entrance. You would think most people would go running for cover… well, this poor bear had a parade of people following it!  No, I wasn’t one of them! I ran to get the camera. Meanwhile, the bear headed down the hill, toward the lake and then high-tailed it into the woods again. Unfortunately by the time I grabbed my camera, it was long gone. But I did get a photo of some fur left behind. Although, it could be from Big Foot for all I know! And no I didn’t keep it for a souvenir! 😉

That brings me to hairy men! We stayed a RV park in Texas and were getting settled in when our new “neighbors” moved in a site from us. They erected a garage-sized tent with sides! We were in a RV-only (no tents allowed) section of the park. We assumed they were having some sort of weekend outing and had permission…but imagine our surprise when a  flat-bed trailer arrived and unloaded a custom golf cart (with speakers), large-screen TV, stereo, sat dish, tables, chairs and a Tiki bar! All these items (except the golf cart) made their way into the tent. Then came a mini van which unloaded several boxes of bottles to stock the bar. And as the day went on, the lonely tree on the camp site became a sign post, which they decorated with beer signs and tacky outdoor lights. Oh, and who can forget the flags? Not one, not two, but five full-size flags were flying by the end of the day.  Of course they put a cheap metal spotlight on the flags so they could be seen a mile away at night.  After a night of loud music and unregistered cars pulling in all the vacant sites around us… we learned this was no weekend outing. These folks were calling the RV park “home” for a few months and that a handful of the “neighbors” were welcomed at the bar – at all hours. Now we have seen a great deal while living the RV lifestyle, but this was a little more than we could tolerate and we quickly moved on. I guess camping beside grave diggers and black bear routes have spoiled  us a bit! 🙂

So Hollywood is really missing out not using a campground as the basis for a reality TV show. But I guess if they did make one, no one would believe it was reality anyway! 😉

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©LBJ ENTRANCE
A driving permit is required, but free at the Vistor Center.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©LBJ birthplace

If you find yourself along Highway 290 between Fredericksburg and Johnson City (TX), make sure to stop at the LBJ National Historical Park’s LBJ Ranch.

Entrance to the park is free and just requires a stop at the State Park Visitor Center to obtain a driving permit and audio CD for the driving tour. Some sites to see include the old schoolhouse, LBJ’s birthplace (turned guest house), LBJ and Lady Bird’s burial site, the working cattle ranch, the hangar and the “Texas White House”. Oh… did I mention all the pecan trees, Texas Longhorns, bison and white-tailed deer?

A 25-30 minute tour of the Texas White House is only $2. If you have the time, I highly recommend the tour. You will be surprised to see how things were left exactly the way they were. From embroidery pillows to clothing in the closet to family photos on the dresser. No photos are allowed inside the house.

Before leaving the area, make sure to stop at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farmstead, just east of the visitor center. A tour of the early 1918 farmstead is free and you will 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).

There are actually two parks, the national and the state historic park. Part of the state park is located in Johnson City, so if you may want to venture the 14 or so miles to see that after touring the LBJ Ranch.

There is plenty of parking for Big Rigs at the visitor center, however, you probably wouldn’t want to drive around the whole loop of LBJ Ranch. When you obtain your driving permit, ask what they recommend. There is parking at the Sauer-Beckmann farm, yet is is reserved for smaller vehicles. Yet the farmstead is only a brief walk from the visitor center.

For additional information on these, please visit their websites:

http://www.nps.gov/lyjo/index.htm

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/lyndon_b_johnson/

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Lady Bird and LBJ’s resting place

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©LBJ Plane
Air Force “One and Half” as called by LBJ

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©TEXAS WHITE HOUSE
The “Texas White House” – well worth a tour!

Those who have been following along in our travels recall last year we upgraded from a 3 ft. Christmas tree to a 6 ft. one in order to hold all our travel ornaments. Well… that was our excuse anyway. And no, we didn’t upgrade to a 7 ft. one this year! 😉

However… the overflow of ornaments did require a bigger tree… and well… I’ll let the photo say a thousand words! 😉

Yes - it's a two-tree Camper Christmas. 😉

Clear skies in the forecast for tomorrow's long haul...

A few days ago we got up in the dark AM hours to hit the road… 8 hours later… we found ourselves setting up at another RV park.

Unfortunately, a thunderstorm was rumbling in the distance and we had to set up as quickly as we could before the rain came pouring down.

Imagine our surprise on the following day when we realized our 50 amp electrical cord was damaged… but closer inspection revealed this wasn’t our electric cord! This cord appears to have been clamped at one time as well as being extremely faded on the RV plug (female) end.

Now at the previous campground we took the truck and did some all-day sight-seeing one day. The day before (at this same campground), a man came around to our site to install an electric meter at the pole. Our first thought was perhaps the maintenance man removed our cord and somehow damaged it. But again, at closer inspection we realized it wasn’t ours at all.

Even if the maintenance man somehow damaged the cord and tried to fix it with a clamp, then removed the clamp… the impression dug so deep into the cord and the fading of the plug at the RV (female) end could not have happened overnight.

Although at this point it didn’t matter, we needed to have a safe electrical cord. Of course, when you need a RV part, there are no dealers around! Fortunately we found a mobile home repair supplier with a selection of RV parts about 50 minutes away. They did not have a replacement cord, but had a new 50 amp (male) plug for us to fix this one. It will have to make do until we can get to a RV dealer or supplier and replace the entire cord.

We have heard crazy stories and experienced equally crazy things during our RVing years, but this… well, we are still amp’d up over this.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Fortunately the forecast is for clear skies… 😉

Death Valley National Park

If you haven’t visited your local U.S. National Park recently, don’t forget that September 24, 2011 is the next fee-free day. To find a park near you visit: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm and click on “Find a Park” in the top left corner.

Why this particular day in September? Well, it is in celebration of National Public Lands Day – the largest volunteer event to help clean up public lands. Want to lend a hand? More information about NPLD can be found at: http://www.publiclandsday.org/

On the road again!

Oh, what a hot summer… funny how most of it I’ve spent thinking about some of the “cool” places we’ve visited – quite literally! 😉

One of my most memorable would be our winter visit of Arches National Park. If you think the sandstone arches and unusual rock formations are amazing in the summer, you will definitely need to visit the park in winter.

If you visit the park in the winter and plan to walk the trails, make sure you are prepared for changing weather conditions.

For additional information: http://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/index.htm

We have recently been onI-10 and I-75 (Florida) and have seen diesel prices from $4.01 to $4.27. It didn’t bother us as much this time… we didn’t take the rig! Yep! These Full-Timers decided to do the “hotel thing” for a change. I guess you could say we took a vacation from the campground-life for a few days. 😉

IN MY SITES: A Campground Mystery (Book #4)

In My Sites
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DYING TO WORK CAMP (Book #3)

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THE PROPANE GAME (Book #2)

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