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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.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © US Flag

Can you believe that the last of the Big Three summer holidays is almost here?! For most folks, this is the last time they will head to that favorite camping spot until next summer. Whatever your plans, have a safe weekend!

NOTE: Make a flag for your campsite this holiday:

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/rotating-pvc-pipe-flag-poles/

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/smaller-flags-for-rv-parks/

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Memorial Day Weekend is… HERE! And 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 weekend – just call ahead and check on their availability.

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

NOTE: Make a flag for your campsite this holiday:

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/rotating-pvc-pipe-flag-poles/

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/smaller-flags-for-rv-parks/

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

 

Looking back…

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.

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.

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. 😉

Looks like Santa will be saving on fuel this Christmas! 😉

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! 😉

Happy Thanksgiving from the Three Modern Nomads!

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.

This campground seems to be operating with a skeleton-crew…

After a harrowing trip across country, we finally arrived back in sunny Florida. Only our first trip to the beach was a bit of a surprise. Where are all the snowbirds? Not that I’m complaining! 😉

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.

The last of the summer holiday weekends is just a few weeks away. For most folks, this is the last time they will head to that favorite camping spot until next summer. Except us Full-Timers – everyday is a camping holiday! 🙂

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

If you are camping this holiday, please be mindful of the campground rules. Many campgrounds have zero tolerance regarding fireworks on their property. And with dry conditions in many parts of the country right now, there is a high fire risk. Consider visiting the local community fireworks show(s) and have a “fire-free” Fourth with your family.

If you find yourself in Rockport (TX) make time to visit the Texas Maritime Museum. The museum’s permanent exhibits focus on maritime history, boat and ship building, commercial and sports fishing, as well as modern-day oil and gas exploration. The second floor also has an incredible display of artwork devoted to Texas lighthouses. And the third floor is actually an observation tower with a great view of historic Rockport and Rockport Beach. There are a few larger exhibits outside. The museum also has a small library and gift shop.

Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for seniors. Parking is limited, so take your tow vehicle. And while you are there, don’t forget to visit the Rockport Aquarium (free) and Bay Education Center (free) – all within walking distance.

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.

Who knew shopping for souvenirs could be so dangerous? 😉

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

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.

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!

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

 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! 🙂

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © St. Andrews State Park

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.

In you are in an area that observes Daylight Savings Time, don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour on November 2, 2014 at 2 AM! 🙂

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… 😉

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Northstar Mine Museum

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Northstar Mine Museum

Looking back…

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.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Gulf Island National Seashore

No, it’s not snow! Just sugary white sand along the Gulf Coast. 🙂

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Flag at Cape San Blas

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!

 

Rotating PVC-Pipe Flag Poles

Smaller Flags for RV Parks

Photography book of our journeys 2007-2012

A THOUSAND WORDS: Photos from life on-the-road by HS Cooper is now available in ebook format for only 99 cents! The softcover version is now available at Amazon.com.

 

Saw this while sightseeing in Gulf Shores (AL) today. I think the poor octopus was so worried about Shark Week that it broke out in spots! The store really knows how to grab your attention though! 😉

While driving along Hwy. 98 the other day, we discovered the Baldwin Country Heritage Museum in Elberta (AL). If you find yourself in the region you will definitely want to find time to stop in.

The museum offers a variety of indoor exhibits as well as outbuildings and farming equipment. Outbuildings include a general store, old schoolhouse, church, blacksmith shop, potato shed and pole barn. The goal of the museum is to share and preserve the cultural heritage of the community. They do a wonderful job of showcasing the variety of crops and specialties of region – from potatoes and oysters to turpentine and honey.

 The museum is currently open Wednesday – Saturday and has free admission (although donations are appreciated to keep things running). Parking is adequate for a tow vehicle; however, if the museum is busy, you may find trouble parking the Big Rig.

For more information you can visit their page at FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/BCHeritageM

If you have ever been traveling on I-10 through Alabama, then you have probably seen the USS Alabama as you crossed Mobile Bay. Next time you are in the area, make sure you have time to stop and visit this amazing ship and all the exhibits at Battleship Memorial Park.

The battleship is huge! It is just under 700 feet long from stem to stern and if you take all three self-guided tours (red, green and yellow) it will take you two hours. And believe me, after you tour the USS Alabama, you can skip the gym for a week… or two! It requires a great deal of climbing to tour the entire ship. There are some great exhibits on board and one item to note is a piece of the USS Arizona.

After you tour the battleship there is a path that leads to the aircraft pavilion. Inside are several exhibits, including a piece of brick from the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Also on the property is the USS Drum, which is the oldest American submarine on display in the world. This submarine is actually on land and you have to go up several flights of stairs to tour it. Make sure you save some energy to tour the USS Drum because it well worth it!

The property also includes a gift shop and small restaurant. Outside exhibits vary – from aircraft to tanks. There is a nice picnic area along the bay, as well as a pier.

The cost of admission to tour the USS Alabama, USS Drum and aircraft pavilion  is $15 for adults and $13 for seniors. Parking is $2 to enter Battleship Memorial Park. There is adequate RV parking. If you don’t have the time to tour the vessels or can’t walk/climb, you can pay the nominal parking fee and still see them from the park.

For more additional information and hours, you can visit their website at: http://www.ussalabama.com/visitor_info.php

If you find yourself near Milton (FL), not far from I-10 is the West Florida Railroad Museum. This is a great little stop if you have the time. The museum area occupies an old freight and passenger depot that was built in the early 1900s at the site of the original 1882 depot. They have several cars in their collection, including dining cars, flat car, box cars, former Pullman sleeper and two cabooses. They also have a model railroad building, an outdoor scale railroad and gift shop.

The museum is free to the public, but does rely on donations to stay open. It is operated by volunteers so the museum is only open on Fridays and Saturdays. Parking is limited and there is no room to park a RV – so if you go, take the tow!

For directions and hours, please visit their website at: http://wfrm.org/index.html

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Hard to believe the Fourth of July is just around the corner! Some of my favorite Fourth’s have been while RVing. One year we toured Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. It was a beautiful summer day until it began rain. It was muddy and slippery, yet we reminded ourselves that conditions weren’t always “ideal” for those who died and fought for the freedoms that make America great.

And most recently we had a wonderful visit to Fort McHenry National Monument. The fort and grounds have a fascinating history… and the Battle of Baltimore in 1814 was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner!

So no matter what type of memories you are making this holiday, please have a safe Fourth of July and remember those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedoms!

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

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