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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. 😉
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? 😉
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. 😉
Despite that ice-age loving Groundhog’s predictions, the weather had been pretty nice here. But wait! Another night of cold temperatures made its way to Florida. Thankfully it was no where near the freezing temperatures we had just a few short weeks ago. Imagine our surprise yesterday when we were traveling on eastbound I-10 only to be diverted off the interstate near Milton because of ice. Fortunately Highway 90 parallels the interstate, but traffic was still very slow and it took us an additional hour and half travel-time.
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/
Gulf State Park is a series of parks located in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach (AL). If the two miles of snowy white beaches along the Gulf of Mexico isn’t enough water for you, the park area also includes access to a 900 acre lake. From picnic areas to fishing piers and cottages to tennis courts, Gulf State Park is a great place to visit if you find yourself along the coast.
The park is located between Hwy. 180 and Hwy. 182, depending on which entrance/facility you are visiting. Entrances fees also vary per location. The beach access points in Orange Beach are free, yet the ones in Gulf Shores are currently $5 per vehicle.
For more information on Gulf State Park, please visit their website at: http://alapark.com/GulfState/
Trading the bumpy highways for some sun, sand and seafood for a couple months…
Left the Ozarks… went South for a bit… then West… and Southwest… a little North and then… oh, not there yet! But hey, it’s about the journey, not the destination. 😉
When the temperature got well below 32 degrees (F) we decided to flee! Although never being fair-weather Campers, we decided we were overdue for some warmer weather. We had to chuckle when we saw this ICEE truck on I-30 westbound, since it was only 27 degrees at the campground we just left and there was ice on our slide-outs!
Don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour this weekend… if you are in an area that observes Daylight Savings Time, that is! 🙂
If you’ve ever been on a road trip, you’ve probably seen over-sized statues, a themed or odd-shaped building, bizarre monuments or just plain wacky stuff! These roadside attractions are a great way to add to your trip and travel memories. So next time you see something, slow down, turn around and take a look. You never know what roadside wonder you may discover.
NOTE: A site worth visiting for roadside attractions: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/
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?
If you find yourself near Brundidge (AL), you may want to stop and see the Johnston Peanut Butter Mill and visit some of the antique shops in this small town.
In the late 1920s, J.D. Johnston (a native of Brundidge) create a machine to make peanut butter and started one of the first commercial peanut butter mills in the U.S. At one point, the mill was shipping out over two million jars of peanut butter a week. The original mill (above) is a museum, open during the annual Peanut Butter Festival (October) and select Saturdays.
The area also has a number of antique shops and “malls” to visit. But be forewarned, this is a small town and not big rig friendly. So if you are just passing through, you may want to find a campground to unhook and take the tow.
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.
Although it’s hard to escape flu-season, there are some things you can do to protect your family from disease while you are on the road…
Have hand sanitizer in your vehicle. Make sure you have a small bottle for each person (put it in each person’s door or the center council and mark their name on it). Each time a person gets into the vehicle, they should clean their hands. If the person handled other public items prior to getting in (such as touching a door or shopping cart), make sure he or she wipes off their door handle, door lock or window area (anywhere that is touched) with a handy-wipe. Also make sure to have a liter bag in your vehicle to dispose of dirty handy-wipes and facial tissue. We dispose of our liter bag every stop.
Have individual handy-wipes in your purse, pocket or backpack and use them! Do not rely on public restrooms to have filled soap containers or even hot water. I am surprised when I do come across a fully-stocked public restroom. If you are an RVer currently on the road, it’s best that you don’t rely on public restrooms. Use your own RV if you can get access to the bathroom with the slides in. Some RVers don’t like using their own bathroom during transit because they don’t like carrying extra water or don’t want to have anything in their holding tanks. You don’t have to have your water tank filled to use your toilet. You can use purchase hand sanitizer that requires no water to wash your hands and place a gallon (or two) jug of water in your bathroom sink to use to flush.
Another thing to avoid is eating out while you are on the road. We’re RVers – we’re self-contained! We shouldn’t rely on McDs or Flying J to feed us every hundred miles. Make some sandwiches or an easy-fix meal before you leave. Pull over at a rest area or find a parking spot wherever you fuel up and grab a bite.
One thing that bothers us is the lack of sanitation in restaurants. Ever have a sickly cashier walk over to get your fries? Ever see the cook come out of the restroom wearing his or her apron? And people licking their fingers and picking up utensils at buffets… Ekk! Keep your eyes posted for potential problems. And if you can, call them out on it. Let the manager know what you saw so they can take action – it could save someone’s life!
Most RVers do have their own cell phones and computers; however, if you don’t and have to rely on a pay phone or visit a local library to log-on, remember to use handy-wipes over the phone and number pad and the computer keyboard and mouse.
These are just a few ways to protect your family while travelling. With the spread of disease and a major flu epidemic today, this is a concern you shouldn’t take lightly.
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.
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! 🙂
We had the opportunity to visit Fort Toulouse – Fort Jackson State Historic Site at the start of their annual five day Frontier Days event. The event is held every year in November. In 1717, this region of Alabama was actually part of French Louisiana and a French fort was build along the junction of the two rivers. But there is more to it… let’s just say a lot of history from the Creek Indians, French, British and Americans… And it was definitely a great time to visit with period costumes and folks living “the life” for a few days!
The park does have a campground although it was closed during the Frontier Days event. The sites were very picturesque – under trees covered in Spanish moss and some sites were along the beautiful Coosa River.
To see over forty photos of the 2012 Frontier Days, please visit: https://hscooper.wordpress.com/photos/alabama/fort-toulouse-fort-jackson-shs-slideshow/
Additional information can be found at their website: http://preserveala.org/forttoulousejackson.aspx?sm=g_h
Don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour tonight before you go to sleep (if you are in an area that observes Daylight Savings Time)! 🙂
If you find yourself in Southern Alabama… maybe heading to Florida… along Highway 231 between Montgomery and Dothan, you definitely need to stop at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.
This museum has over 18,000 artifacts and over twenty buildings on display – including a covered bridge! The museum covers Alabama history – from the Southeastern Native Americans to early pioneers to the Victorian era to WWI. The main gallery area is themed and everything is labeled. The museum also has several wonderful murals, including “The Crossing”, that is a must see! A wonderful museum for learning about the past.
And an additional treat is the Moon Tree. The seeds of this Loblolly pine tree actually traveled to the Moon and back on Apollo 14 in 1971! How cool is that?
The museum is only $6 for adults and $5 for seniors. They are open five days a week and have adequate parking. For more information, visit their website at: http://www.pioneer-museum.org/
For a slideshow of over 100 photos, please visit my other page at TMN titled Pioneer Museum of Alabama (Slideshow).
Digging out the Halloween decorations, I have to chuckle… a few are from Washington, some Virginia, some Florida, some Texas and, quite honestly, some I can’t recall what state they came from!
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Especially since there are bowls of chocolate everywhere you go and it gives me an excuse to watch Harry Potter movies all month! But for those who have never camped in October, you might be surprised how popular of holiday it is in campgrounds.
Many campgrounds have Halloween activities from carving pumpkins to haunted hayrides. Some have designated site trick-or-treating for the children and most parks encourage families to decorate their campsites. A few places we have been have even held decorating contests.
One year we were in Virginia and the campground celebrated Halloween every weekend in October. Folks were encouraged to decorate. Normally we keep our outside items at a minimum, but that year we decided to go “all-out” and we based our theme on a children’s Halloween party. We decorated our picnic table with costumed “children” having a Halloween party. The table included plates, cups, candy (emptied and resealed wrappers, of course!), plastic toys (spiders, bats, pumpkins) and orange Halloween lights. And the table was even webbed-over by a few rather ambitious spiders adding to the design. The “children” were dressed up, such as a skeleton, scarecrow and, of course, Frankenstein. Our little creations were easy to make – we created their bodies out of recycled water bottles, two-liter soda bottles and one-gallon tea containers. All their costumes were purchased from the local thrift store for less than ten dollars. When the party was over – the “children” went into recycle bin and their clothes get washed and donated back to the local thrift store.
One year we spent Halloween in Washington and that year it was a little too wet to put out decorations. Although that was an unforgettable Halloween for us – we hiked to Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park. It was 31 degrees! Oh, and did I mention that we were camped beside a cemetery and the week before they had an attempted grave robbery? No? Well, I’ll have to save that for another time! 😉
Another year we were on the road, exploring scenic Highway 391 in the Eastern Sierras. That was another October of extreme temperature changes for us. We went from 19 degrees (our hose froze) outside Bridgeport (we were visiting Bodie SHP) to over 100 degrees at Death Valley NP. Traveling from the “cool” ghost town to the hellish landscape of Death Valley was certainly an experience!
And then there was there year that we were in Florida and the monkeys…oh goodness, I could go on-and-on! I wonder what memories we’ll make this year? Although I do know it will involve at least one bag of KitKat’s! 😉
Autumn is upon us! Why not plan a day trip to view the colorful foliage? Old cemeteries, covered bridges and country barns make great photo stops this time of year. And don’t forget to revisit some of your favorite summer spots now that the leaves are changing. Who knows what you’ll uncover!
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!
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.