Join us as we explore America…

 

WELCOME ABOARD!

This is the story of our “Great American Adventure.” It’s a record of our years-long motor home journey across America. It’s my online scrapbook. My collection of trinkets. My recording of nature’s soundtrack. I want to capture here the sights and sounds of our country, the breeze across the water and the smell of salt sea air. I want to hear the noisy bustle of city streets and the peace and quiet in the redwood forest. I want to milk a cow and drive a tractor, ride in a freight train’s locomotive and learn about hobos during the Depression. I’ll play checkers with one of the fellas in front of the General Store, visit the Grand Ole Opry, Woodstock and Radio City Music Hall.  I’ll go to a rodeo and watch the cowboys compete.  I’m going to sit a while with the old man on a bench and listen…really listen, to what he has to say. I’ll meet a  fisherman in New England and chat with him about the day’s catch. And I’m going to help anyone I can, in any way I can, along the way. I want to make a difference. I want to see our country and meet the people who live here.

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Here comes Cindy!

10 PM, JUNE 20, 2017

FIRST AN UPDATE: For those of you who follow my blog, I’m happy to report that my surgery is complete as is the biopsy. No malignancy! My doctor wants to monitor me for a couple more weeks and then we’ll be on the road again. Thank goodness! We’ll head to Georgia, then to South Carolina to visit my friend Jackie in Greenville. After that stop we will explore North Carolina, with a stop to spend some time with our dear friend Julie who lives in Charlotte. We’ll also take another look at Tennessee, Arkansas and Virginia. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

HURRICANE SEASON HAS ARRIVED.  The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season began June 1st and will last until the end of November. And the season is off to a quick start with tropical storm Cindy now threatening the Gulf coast. A tornado watch has just been issued for Pensacola and the National Weather Service is warning of imminent torrential rain, flash flooding, rip currents, high surf advisory and beach closures. Cindy will likely become a hurricane shortly. Great! Despite having been in the path of some very threatening weather in the past and being spared a direct hit, we’re concerned. These kinds of weather events are still pretty new to us and we’ll be glad when they’re just a distant memory.

This is the way things look right now! Pensacola is in the center of the screen. 

HERE COMES CINDY. At this moment, tropical storm Cindy is a huge and very messy weather system approaching the Gulf Coast and the Florida Panhandle, where we’re staying. Short of leaving the area, we’ve taken all the precautions we can at the moment. The awnings are retracted, the patio umbrella is secured as is the American flag, and the satellite dish has been closed down to present as little wind resistance as possible. We’ve emptied our tanks and taken on a supply of fresh water. Now we wait, but it looks like this storm is going to be a bad mamba jamba which will threaten us for at least the next five days. And we may have to evacuate sooner! Stay tuned.

UPDATE: JUNE 21, 2017: Tornado watches and warnings all day long. Severe flooding on roadways. Heavy rain, but we are safe. Storm continues.

UPDATE: JUNE 22, 2017: The rain is so heavy that it sounds like we’re inside a snare drum! Tornado watch in effect today until 3 PM, Central Time. Wind is picking up speed.

JUNE 24, 2017: The storm has passed, skies are sunny and but for the humidity all is well.

I’ll continue my story next time.

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Christ on a bicycle!

IT’S HARD TO WRITE A TRAVEL BLOG. Christ on a bicycle! When you’re not traveling, it’s darn-near impossible to write a travel blog. That’s been my frustration for more than a year while we remained in Pensacola on my doctors’ orders after the “brush with death” I had in November of 2015. Even though I’ll be forever grateful for the miraculous recovery I enjoyed and all your prayers and support, our Great American Adventure has not for quite a while been what we’d anticipated. And now, of all places, we’re  back in Pensacola!

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Categories: Brush With Death, Florida, People | 10 Comments

North America’s Oldest City, Part 2…

PLAN FOR THE DAY. It was bright and beautiful this morning, but there was also a brisk, chilly wind. We decided to visit a national monument in the colonial district and then take a look at Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth Park. I was pretty sure that if I could consume a pint of that Fountain of Youth elixir I’d be good to go for another fifty years. That didn’t really work out, but at least I tried. And after that we hoped the weather would be a little warmer so we could introduce Molly to the ocean.

CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS NATIONAL MONUMENT. The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. It’s located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay in St. Augustine. Construction began in 1672, 107 years after the city’s founding by Spanish Admiral and conquistador Pedro Menendez de Aviles when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire. This Spanish fort stood firm against English attacks and helped Spain to hold Florida for many years. During the American Revolution it was a British stronghold. Later it became a battery in the U.S. coastal defense system.

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Categories: Animals, Florida, History, National Parks | 2 Comments

North America’s Oldest City, Part 1…

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA. As we prepare to leave Florida after so much time in the state, our last stop is St. Augustine, located on the Atlantic coast of eastern Florida. It’s the oldest city in North America. In fact it predates Jamestown and Plymouth by decades. It was founded in 1565 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro Mendez de Aviles. And nowhere else in the world can you taste the waters of the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park where Ponce de Leon may have landed. Who knows, if I can drink enough of that water, this may turn out to be the best stop of our entire Great American Adventure! Read more »

Categories: Florida, History, People | 2 Comments

Kennedy Space Center…

WE TOOK A TOUR BUS. From Orlando, it’s just over an hour’s drive to the Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s east coast, adjacent to Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Ocean. We left “home” early with our friends Ben and Suzanne and arrived at KSC on schedule in about an hour. The Space Center is huge, with lots of buildings and exhibits spread over a very large area, far too large to explore on foot. But we took a NASA bus took on a narrated tour to even the most remote facilities and it was a pretty special trip. It’s awe-inspiring to get an up close view of the facilities that have actually constructed the launch vehicles, pads and even NASA’s Atlantis, one of the actual space shuttles. It’s on display in the Visitor Complex, suspended with its payload bay doors opened such that it appears to be back in orbit around the Earth. A multi-story digital projection of Earth rotates behind the orbiter. Atlantis returned to Earth for the last time on July 21, 2011. By the end of its final mission, Atlantis had orbited the Earth a total of 4,848 times, traveling nearly 126,000,000 miles.

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Categories: Florida, History, Museums | 4 Comments

Disney Springs…

A MALL, NOT A THEME PARK. More theme parks are located in Orlando than in any other city in the world. Disney World, Epcot Center, Sea World, Legoland to name just a few. But we’ve already been to these parks years ago and frankly didn’t have any interest in fighting the crowds to spend lots of money to see them for a second or third time. So today, we went to Disney Springs…a huge outdoor mall, not a theme park. Read more »

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Bok Tower Gardens and Pinewood Estate…


A GOOD DAY FOR A PICNIC. 
Yesterday would have been a good day for a picnic in central Florida. The skies were clear and a gentle breeze softened the upper 70’s temperature in the afternoon. The problem is that we hadn’t thought about a picnic when we began a drive down Highway 27…we were just “looking around.” But next time we’ll know to pack a lunch and stop for the afternoon at Bok Tower Gardens where after lunch we can get a second look at the Pinewood Estate and listen to the carillon concert at the Singing Tower.

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Categories: Florida, History, Museums | 2 Comments

Tiffany Art in Orlando…

A RAINY DAY. Today was overcast and drizzly, so it seemed like a good day for an outing we could enjoy indoors. We had read about a large collection of Tiffany art on display in the nearby suburb of of Winter Park, so we decided to pack up for the day and take a look. We’re glad we did.

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Categories: Florida, History | 2 Comments

Orlando, Florida…

WE’VE ARRIVED IN ORLANDO. We’ll be in Orlando for the next few months, enjoying the sun and beach weather as we wait for the rest of the country to get warmer. We’ve learned that motorhome travel is severely limited during the winter months as it’s just too cold to do much or go many places. Having lived in Southern California all our lives, and being spoiled by the year-round temperate weather, it’s taken some time for us to accept this reality. On those occasions in the last few years when we’ve decided to brave the weather so we could continue our Adventure, we’ve been reined in by freezing temperatures, violent thunderstorms, tornado threats, black ice and close-calls! So, we’re no longer trying to “keep things going” at this time of year. As soon as it warms up enough to travel again, we’ll head north in search of destinations we’ve yet to explore.

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Fairhope, Alabama…

GREETED BY A STORM. We arrived in Fairhope, Alabama on Monday afternoon and were met a few hours later by a potent thunderstorm, high winds and tornado warnings. That’s “warnings,” not “watches.” There’s a difference! Severe weather caused widespread damage to lower Alabama and by Tuesday morning the National Weather Service reported that 12 tornadoes had occurred in the area. Even though I’ve become more accustomed to severe weather conditions than we ever encountered back home in San Diego, this storm caused me to become alarmed. The lightening was so bright that the entire area looked like an overexposed black and white photo all night long. Our friend Dylan, who lives in Mobile, was concerned enough that she offered us shelter in her home, but we decided to  ride out the storm in our motorhome. As it turned out, that was a sound decision. By morning, the sky was clear and although the temperature was only in the thirties the sun was shining brightly.

On Monday we drove from Pensacola to Fairhope, located on Mobile Bay in Alabama.

WE’LL BE HERE JUST A WEEK. We’ll be in Fairhope for just a week. The locals say the village is located in LA, meaning “lower Alabama.” It appears that cold weather will prevent us from exploring as much as we’d like. It’s chilly, overcast and breezy, hardly weather for a couple of tourists to stroll around town taking in the sights.

 

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Categories: Alabama | 2 Comments

Another change of plans…

leaving

We’ll depart Pensacola on January 2nd.

WE’VE DONE IT AGAIN. We’ll remain in Pensacola through January 2nd, and then we’ll take off and put Pensacola RV Park in our rear view mirror. We’ve loved staying here and feel a real attachment to our park hosts and others we’ve met here, but it’s time to go. You may recall that last October I announced our plans, but they’ve changed. One of the nice things about RV travel is that we’re not tied to an itinerary and are free to change plans whenever we wish. So, we’ve decided that until Spring it will just be too cold to go where we’d planned. Being life-long southern Californians, we’re not used to cold weather and don’t really want to learn to live with it. So here goes with our revised plan…in a nutshell, we’re headed south. Read more »

Categories: Alabama, Alligators, Animals, Florida | 4 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving…

THANKSGIVING, 2016. This Thanksgiving Day I am grateful more than ever before during my lifetime! I am thankful for my wife, my health and forgivethanks friends at my side and many others who prayed for me and offered their support last year at this time. Because last year at Thanksgiving, I lay in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Foley, Alabama, unconscious, 2,500 miles from home, on what appeared to be my deathbed. Today, I am healthy and able to enjoy the day. I have learned that every day of life truly is a gift from God.

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Categories: Armed Forces, Florida, Miracles Happen, People, Special occasions | 8 Comments

Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow…

NOVEMBER 11, 2016

VETERANS DAY WEEKEND. What better way to celebrate Veterans Day Weekend than to attend the Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The show celebrates not only the holiday weekend, but the 70th Anniversary of the Blue Angels team as well.

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Veterans, I salute you!

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Categories: Armed Forces, Florida, History, Holidays, People, Special occasions, World War II | 2 Comments

Cub’s Crawfish…

NOVEMBER 6, 2016

FOLKS IN THE SOUTH ARE DIFFERENT! People who live in the southern United States are different. As a group, they are the mosthospitality gracious, welcoming and thoughtful folks we’ve ever encountered. “Southern hospitality” is a real deal. And the fried chicken here is absolutely the best! But some of the other food these guys consume in quantities is interesting, to say the least. This was evident today when we had a late lunch at Cub’s Crawfish after competing in the Turkey Shoot at the local VFW hall. Nope, to my friends in San Diego I will tell you this, “You won’t find the kind of seafood consumed down here at Point Loma Seafoods. But don’t fret about being able to get crawish. From what I’ve seen, you’re not missing much. The things are scary looking!”

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Categories: Alabama, Animals, Eateries, Florida | 8 Comments

Turkey Shoot in Elberta, Alabama…

NOVEMBER 6, 2016

REALLY? If someone had told me even as recently as a year ago that Florence and I would one day go to a Turkey Shoot in Elberta, Alabama I’d have said, “You’re out of your mind! I mean, why in the world would anyone want to go to a Turkey Shoot, whatever that is? And where in the world is Elberta, Alabama?” But today we went and it’s not as bad as it sounds. There were no turkeys, only paper targets. The event we attended was held at the VFW Hall in the little town of Elberta, about 30 miles distant from where we’re staying in Pensacola. Our friend Wayne put the bug in our ears about this outing and as it turns out, and as stupid as it sounds, we had a lot of fun.

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It’s easy to find the VFW lodge in the little town of Elberta, Alabama.

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Categories: Alabama, Florida, People, Special occasions | 4 Comments

Hot Spot Barbecue, Pensacola…

November 5, 2016

HOT SPOT BARBECUE. Hot Spot is a small family owned BBQ restaurant in the old section of Pensacola, near Seville Park where we attended the Arts Festival yesterday. I spotted it as I waited at a traffic light and instantly knew it was a joint I’d want to visit.

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You can’t tell a book by its cover, but I can tell quite a bit about a restaurant even from outside. 

 

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Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival…

NOVEMBER 6, 2016

PENSACOLA’S GREAT GULFCOAST ARTS FESTIVAL. This is a popular arts festival held eachartfest2
year in Pensacola. More than 200 painters, potters, sculptors, jewelers and others display their works. Craft artists demonstrate traditional arts, crafts and trades, including blacksmithing, engraving, spinning and weaving. Live musicians entertain with music ranging from bluegrass to Cajun to blues to jazz and classical. Dance troupes, community groups and local folk groups perform.  And a festival wouldn’t be complete without food. Treats from traditional to local favorites and regional festival fare are available throughout the festival grounds. There are choices for every taste.

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Categories: Florida, History, People, Special occasions | 8 Comments