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Don’t forget to visit your local U.S. National Park August 25-28 2016 in honor of the National Park Service’s Birthday. The National Park Service was established in 1916, making this their 100th anniversary. To celebrate entrance fees to all the parks will be waived. So make sure you mark you calendar!

August 25-28 2016
National Park Service Birthday

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
Veterans Day

For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Warning in LA

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!

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Aggressive Driver signs in PA

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

If you have been putting off a trip to your local U.S. National Park, mark your calendar for with the 2015 fee-free days. On these dates, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

January 19, 2015
Martin Luther King Jr. Day

February 14-16, 2015
Presidents Day weekend

April 18-19, 2015
opening weekend of National Park Week

August 25, 2015
National Park Service Birthday

September 26, 2015
National Public Lands Day

November 11, 2015
Veterans Day

For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website.

If you don’t have any plans for today, don’t forget that entrance fees to U.S. National Park are waived on September 27, 2014 in honor of Public Lands Days. Or mark your calendar for the last fee-free date of the year – November 11, 2014 (Veterans Day). During these times, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

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

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.

 

Summer pass you by? There are a two upcoming holidays to take advantage of our U.S. National Parks “fee-free” – one in August and one in September. During these times, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply. For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website. The next “fee-free” holiday will be in November.

August 25, 2014
(National Park Service Birthday)

September 27, 2014
(Public Lands Day)

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

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Rain on I-85

We found ourselves in a severe thunderstorm this afternoon. That will save a trip to the truck wash! 😉

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 😉

Have a Happy Easter!

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Fort McHenry NM – Star-Spangled Banner

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 weekend.

April 19-20, 2014
(U.S. National Park Week Begins)

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

As Full-Time RVers, we are always concerned about severe weather. Although RVs can withstand moderate winds, they are not intended to be used for shelter in any type of severe storm.

And early this morning we had a wake-up call from our NOAA weather radio indicating we were in a Tornado Watch. We were sound asleep and had no clue what the weather was doing outside. Thankfully the radio’s high shrill alerted us to severe weather conditions.

All Campers should invest in a NOAA weather radio or weather alert radio. A nice handheld radio with wall adapter and back-up batteries can be purchased for around $20 and in case a storm Watch or Warning is issued, you will have the latest information. Don’t solely rely on a phone app for weather alerts.

If you are staying in an area prone to severe weather or possible flooding then you should find out where it is best to seek shelter or what evacuation route is closest. Make sure you know where to go and have a little family meeting. Even if you are just on a week vacation, discussing a plan with your family for just five minutes could end up saving your lives.

Ask the campground staff if they notify their campers about severe weather alerts and what they advise campers to do in stormy situations. Some campgrounds may recommend their restroom or recreation buildings for shelter. Many have concrete buildings that would be a solid structure to go to if there isn’t time, such as in the case of a tornado. But if you have time and know that severe weather will affect your area, make sure you seek an official shelter.

If you don’t have a yearly pass to your local U.S. National Park, then mark your calendar for at least one of these fee-free dates. During these times, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

January 20, 2014
(Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)

February 15-17, 2014
(Presidents Day Weekend)

April 19-20, 2014
(U.S. National Park Week Begins)

August 25, 2014
(National Park Service Birthday)

September 27, 2014
(Public Lands Day)

November 11, 2014
(Veterans Day)

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

 And please don’t forget to support some of your local and non-profit attractions in 2014! 🙂

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © On I-30 W

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!

 

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © By Outlaw Run SDC

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © SDC view by train

If you like rolling hills and coaster thrills, consider planning a trip to Silver Dollar City just west of Branson (MO). Silver Dollar City is an 1800s theme park with a handful of roller coasters, water-themed rides and toe-tapping shows. There are a number of craftspeople and specialty shoppes, in addition to some older attractions to see. And don’t forget the train ride! 🙂

With the numerous shows schedules and rides there is just no way to enjoy the whole park in just a few hours. So if you are one of those folks who want to see and do it all, plan on a second-day visit.

Like other theme parks, admission and food costs are high. But free parking is available and they have tram service from each parking lot so you can save your feet for the hilly park. If you are just passing through the area and want to visit, they  have designated RV parking.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Geyser Gulch at SDC

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Fire-in-the-Hole at SDC

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Titanic Museum

The one thing I would not have expected to see in the Ozarks! And don’t even get me started about King Kong across the street! 😉

Photo by H.S. Cooper © RFM Steam Engine

Photo by H.S. Cooper © RFM Steam Engine

If you find yourself along highway 65 in the southern part of Missouri, make sure to plan a day at the Ralph Foster Museum near Hollister (MO). The Ralph Foster Museum is located inside the College of the Ozarks and offers visitors three floors of items related to the Ozark region.

Although the museum covers everything from handmade dolls and antiques to weapons and natural history, one of the most popular attractions is the original truck used in “The Beverly Hillbillies”. The museum is air-conditioned and has an elevator for those who are limited on stairs.

While you are there, don’t forget to visit the Edwards Mill and other attractions located on the campus grounds.

Admission to the Ralph Foster Museum is $6 for adults and $5 for seniors. Since the museum is located on a college campus, parking is only for smaller vehicles. So leave the rig and take the tow.

For more information and museum hours, visit their website at: http://www.rfostermuseum.com/

Photo by H.S. Cooper © RFM Doll Room
Photo by H.S. Cooper © RFM Doll Room

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 taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper © DEATH VALLEY NP

It’s time to dig out that new 2013 calendar! The first of the entrance “fee-free” days of the year is scheduled for January 21st in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. On this day entrance fees to U.S. National Parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

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

Photo by H.S. Cooper

Photo by H.S. Cooper © McLean House at Appomattox Court House NHP

I know, I know! I keep posting these dates… but do you go? Don’t delay another trip to your local U.S. National Park. Mark your calendar for at least one of these dates and GO! During these times, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

January 21, 2013
(Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)

April 22-26, 2013
(U.S. National Park Week)

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 in 2013! 🙂

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © US FLAG

It’s not too late to visit your local U.S. National Park for this year’s remaining fee-free day! Entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply. So grab some grub (and your favorite Veteran) and hit the trails. 🙂

November 10-12, 2012
(Veterans Day weekend)

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

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Okay, okay… maybe not on your “Bucket List”, but if you find yourself near Enterprise (AL) you may want to see the Boll Weevil Monument. This tiny pest received a statue because its destruction of the cotton crop turned farmers to other crops and caused an agricultural “rebirth” in the South. The monument is located right in the middle of Main Street!

NOTE:  This attraction is located in an older area of town and the route is not recommended for big rigs, so take the tow.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © PMA Herb House

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.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © PMA “The Crossing”

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).

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © PMA General Store

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

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©SRSP VILLAGE
One of several buildings at the Florida pioneer village inside SRSP.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©MASTODON
Mastodon remains were found below the Silver River.

If you find yourself near Ocala, Florida, you should make a visit to the Silver River State Park. The park is just a mile south of Silver Springs and has a variety to offer – from hiking trails leading to the river, camping and picnic areas, to the Silver River Museum and Florida pioneer village. Entrance fee for vehicles is $6 (max of 8 people) and museum admission is $2 (the museum is only open weekends and holidays).

For more information, please visit these websites:

Silver River State Park

Silver River Museum

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©SEMINOLE DOLLS
Saw palmetto dolls made by Seminoles are on display in the Silver River Museum at SRSP.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©SINK HOLE TRAIL
Be mindful of wildlife and gigantic mosquitoes when you walk the trails.

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.

If you have been putting off a trip to your local U.S. National Park, don’t pass by this year’s Get Outdoors Day (June 9, 2012). On this day, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©HOME IN DEATH VALLEY
Death Valley National Park

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

 NOTE: Don’t forget some of your local state and county parks this summer!


Thank goodness for rest areas and picnic stops... is it just me or are U.S. highways getting a little rough?

We are on the road again and I must say, it has been quite an adventure already! From the 15 mph traffic in Austin (which may have had something to do with X-Factor auditions that day) to the super-speeders (80+ mph) east of Shreveport. Let’s see what tomorrow brings on the road, well traveled! 😉

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).

If you find yourself along scenic Highway 127 between Kentucky and Tennessee, you will want to be sure to stop at the Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park in Pall Mall (TN).

The park is a tribute to York, who was one of the most decorated soldiers of World War I.  Sites to see include the family farm, grist mill, burial site and other attractions, such as the post office and welcome center.

For additional information visit: http://tn.gov/environment/parks/SgtYork/

 

 

Yellowstone National Park

If you have been putting off a trip to your local U.S. National Park, clear your calendar for this year’s remaining fee-free days. On these dates, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

April 12-29, 2012
(U.S. National Park Week)

June 9, 2012
(Get Outdoors Day)

September 24, 2012
(Public Lands Day)

November 10-12, 2012
(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: Don’t forget some of your local state and county parks this summer!

Grand Canyon National Park


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!

If you find yourself in Austin (TX) don’t forget to take a trip to the Texas Forces Military Museum. This museum is located inside Camp Mabry and has a variety of exhibits – from the history of the Alamo to a piece of the Berlin Wall to modern weaponry.

The museum is open Wednesday – Sunday and is free. Since it is located inside Camp Mabry, all visiting adults must show a photo ID at the main gate. Ask for directions to the museum after entering.

Please note there is no parking for big rigs, so only take your tow vehicle. If you are riding a motorcycle, you will want to read the proper riding attire required to enter Camp Mabry.

More information and directions can be found at their website: http://texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org/

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Gruene Hall


If you find yourself between Austin and San Antonio (Texas), consider taking a day trip to the historic town of Gruene (pronounced “Green”). Gruene has an interesting history and offers visitors a glimpse of the past.

Gruene Hall (photo above) may look familiar to you from the movie Michael (John Travolta). It is considered “the oldest continually run dance hall” in the state of Texas.

The town has several antique, craft and nostalgic shoppes to visit. And while you’re there, don’t forget to grab a bite at the Gristmill.

There are a few larger parking areas which could accommodate bigger rigs, although if you are staying close by, you would probably be better off taking your tow vehicle – especially if it is the weekend or the day of a special event. Everything is within walking distance.

Special events and festivals are held throughout the year – including the Tour de Gruene Bicycle Classic.

For more info and event schedule, visit: http://gruenetexas.com/

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Gruene General Store

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper © Gruene Antique Company

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… 😉

No, not snow - it's white sand!

It was very windy today and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the sand… it looked like drifting snow! 🙂

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Entrance to Fort Pickens

If you have the time and find yourself in the Florida Panhandle… make sure you head to Santa Rosa island to visit Gulf Islands National Seashore to see Fort Pickens.

This picturesque fort was built in the 1830s and named after a Revolutionary War general – Andrew Pickens. Fort Pickens has an interesting military and human history.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Outside Fort Pickens

As times changed, so did the military uses for the fort. Concrete gun batteries and other structures in the park reflect different periods of military history. Apache prisoners, including Geronimo, were held prisoner here in the late 1880s.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©INSIDE THE FORT
Concrete shelf supports to hold mine equipment or extra ammunition

Vehicle entrance to the park is only $8 and your entrance receipt is valid for 7 days.

Gulf Island NS at Fort Pickens does have camping and can accommodate Big Rigs; however, you may have trouble parking at the fort itself. Although there are 3 or 4 spots labeled for RVs, you may find cars blocking your way. There is additional parallel parking near the fishing pier with an amazing view of the lighthouse.

For more info: http://www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/fort-pickens.htm

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©FORT ARCHES
Arches help distribute the weight of the fort on the sand

Okay, so maybe not the best time to go for a swim!

Normally, when it appears a thunderstorm is headed your way… you wouldn’t think of trekking to the beach… but then again, we’re tourists and…it’s the beach!

Our trip to Perdido Key State Park was rather short (and wet!), but it is a beautiful park with plenty of white sand, dunes and sea oats to make even the grumpiest Snowbird grin. 😉

If you find yourself on a beautiful sunny (or even not-so-sunny) day in this region of Florida, don’t hesitate to drive out to Perdido Key. Entrance to the park is only $3 per vehicle and the park is open 8 AM until sunset.

For more information:  http://floridastateparks.org/perdidokey

Shelter from the storm... well, until the wind started up!

When in Pensacola, don’t forget to take time to visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation and the Pensacola lighthouse. Both are located on the Pensacola Naval Air Station and are FREE! Citizens just need to show proper photo ID at the entrance gate. You will be given a dash pass to display while you are visiting.

Even if you have been there before, the museum has a new addition you should see – Hangar Bay One.

Be prepared to spend several hours at the museum complex. There are two floors of exhibits, Hangar Bay One, as well as other attractions (IMAX theater and FREE trolley tour). The museum also has a restaurant, gift shop and library/gallery to enjoy.


 

National Museum of Naval Aviation

Free Parking and Admission (see website for additional IMAX prices)

Museum Open Daily (except holidays) 9 am – 5 pm

www.navalaviationmuseum.org

And again, don’t forget to visit the haunted lighthouse while you’re there! ;)

Pensacola Lighthouse

Located across from the National Museum of Aviation

Free Parking / Free Admission to Museum

$5 for Lighthouse Climb (see website for additional prices and special events)

Open Monday – Saturday 10:30 am – 5:30 pm

http://www.pensacolalighthouse.org/

Check their websites for special Blue Angels dates, especially if you want to view them from the top of the lighthouse. Additional cost for lighthouse climb during Blue Angels schedule.

MORE PHOTOS: https://hscooper.wordpress.com/photos/florida/national-museum-of-naval-aviation/

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/photos/florida/national-museum-of-naval-aviation/hangar-bay-one/

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/photos/florida/national-museum-of-naval-aviation/trolley-tour/

https://hscooper.wordpress.com/photos/florida/pensacola_lighthous/

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

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