Thursday, January 30, 2020

Tampa with Friends


Our friends, Keith and Susan from Buffalo, New York came to Tampa, Florida for a visit and stayed with us.  We went to Fort Desoto and walked the beach and fishing pier. There were several pelicans and wild dolphins that were trying to steal the fish the people were catching.  Then drove up to Indian Rock beach and took another walk on the beach.  We went to the 2020 Tampa RV Super Show, John Pass Boardwalk and the Wagon Wheel Flea Market.





Love that friends come to visit us where we are and get to explore an area together.  Too bad the visit was only for a few days.




Saturday, January 25, 2020

Kennedy Space Center




We took Mom and Dad to Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral).  We paid $10 for parking, $57 per adult and $53.50 per senior.  We arrived a little after 9:00 am and decided to head right to the bus tour.  The bus dropped us off at the Apollo/Saturn V Center were we learned about the Apollo program and America’s first orbit around the earth (Apollo 7) and the moon (Apollo 8), landing on the moon (Apollo 11) and various visits to the moon and the last Apollo mission (17), plus Apollo 1 and the fire that cost the lives of Grissom, White and Chaffee.





The bus returned us to the main campus and we ventured to learn about the shuttle program at the Atlantis building.  I have to say this was my favorite entrance experience and to see the full Atlantis suspended for viewing.   Be sure to check out the Shuttle Launch Experience, were you will experience take off and weightlessness in space.   There are some simulation stations to try as well. 





After lunch, we viewed the 3D movie “Journey to Space” at the IMAX 1 Theater; then went to listen to Astronaut Tom Jones do a presentation on his life and experiences. Mom, Mike and I helped a family step power a rocket launch near the NASA Central complex (there are blocks in the sidewalk area that light up when you step on them, after a lot of steps are recorded on a screen nearby they do a simulated rocket launch on the screen with smoke and everything). Then we all went on a 15 minute walking tour of the Rocket Garden and finally we attended the Eyes on the Universe 3D Presentation.






The complex hours are from 9 AM – 6 pm, but I recommend a two day pass as we didn’t get to experience everything they have to offer.  Everything is family friendly and very interactive.  I suggest bringing a lunch and drinks to save some money.  There are also various other bus tours and experiences offered that are additional cost to the park access.






Other tips…
  • Be sure to get a visitor guide and daily schedule when you arrive to plan your visit.  You can also download an app on your phone.
  • Wear good walking shoes because you will be doing some walking.
  • You won’t be able to see everything in one visit, but you can see quite a bit.  Recommend a two day pass.
  • Try to plan a visit during a launch.  There is an additional cost to view the launch but for most of us it could be a once in a life time event.
  • Dress for the weather (suggest layers) and be sure to have sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • Pack drinks and a lunch to save on expenses.
  • Get there early so you can see the most, the park hours are 9 am – 6 pm daily.
  • They have a dog kennel on site, so you might want to look into that before going.
  • Finally, they do offer different experiences at an additional charge so you might be interested into them.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Urban Boondocking


This post is about the stores we stayed at overnight.

Walmart

Mike and I stayed at a Walmart twice and it wasn’t as bad as I originally thought it would be.  We stayed at the Walmart in Sheridan, Wyoming and at a Walmart in Chubbuck, Idaho.  I found them on RVParky.com a FREE app we use to find campgrounds, stores, reviews, etc. (check out last week’s post for more information on apps we use), then when we arrive at the store I go into the store and confirm we can stay overnight and as where we can park for the night.  At both sites we were able to open slides and felt secure.

Cabela’s

We stayed at a Cabela’s in Mitchell, South Dakota.  Again when we arrived, I went into the store to confirm we could stay the night and where to park for the night.  We were also able to open the slides to feel comfortable and secure.

Crackle Barrel

In Albuquerque, New Mexico we stayed the night at a Crackle Barrel.  It was nice to have dinner and stay the night.  Again we got permission to stay the night.  The only issue is the parking lot is tight so we were only able to open one of our three slides.

What other stores did you stay overnight and how did find them?  Let us know, put them in the comments below.


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Watching a Rocket Launch


Last night, Mike and I went to a beach in Cocoa Beach Florida to watch the SpaceX Falcon 9 Starlink 1.0 rocket launch.  Below is some video.  



As I was recording and watching, Mike had YouTube playing on his cell of the launch live.






Tips and Lessons Learned

  • Free was good but maybe next time we would pay the fee to be closer, there were two options to pay and see the launch…

1.       Space Center = General Admission + Launch Viewing about $120 per adult
https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/info/tickets
2.       Exploration Tower = about $50 per person, not as close as the Space Center
  • If you choose to pay, get your tickets early as they sell out quick.
  • Get to your FREE site early.  We got to our viewing spot (below is the Google Map location) about 2 hours prior to get a legal and prime parking spot.

  • While waiting be sure to have snacks.  We stopped at Dairy Queen, before getting to our spot.  Maybe a movie for the kids in the car while waiting.
  • Be sure to dress for the weather.  Long pants, sweatshirts, light jacket, etc.
  • Take a flashlight that works.  We had a flashlight in the truck and realized the batteries were dead.  So unlike Mike to not be prepared.
  • Take a chair or a blanket to sit on.
  •  I noticed some kids had glow sticks, so that might be something fun to have.
  • Tide was coming in, so be aware as you are on the beach at night.
  • After the launch, there will be traffic so be aware of this as well as people crossing busy roads and traffic.
  • You can watch the launch from NASA on YouTube during and after.

For more information on future launches visit https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/launches-and-events/ web site.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Apps we use

This post is about apps we use for making reservations and checking the weather.

RVParky.com

RVParky.com is one of my favorites and most used. I use this to find camp grounds, overnight stays, check reviews, double check for low bridges and find a gas station near our route. Enter your location and use the filter as needed (for us we select pets allowed, no military or 55 over)…



You can also use this for trip planning. This app is FREE. Also NOTE: I post reviews after we stay.

Google Maps

I use Google maps (another FREE app) to help pick the location of our next stay. We have found that we only like to drive for about 4 hours, up to 5 hours max.

Passport America

Mike and I are members of Passport America; this membership cost about $40 per year, but offers a 50% discount at participating campgrounds. This app or website lists all the campgrounds, discounted rate, reviews and the stipulations for the discount for each campground. This membership paid for itself after a couple stays.

If interested in joining, click on the logo below and we will get the referral.


Thousand Trails

We are also members of Thousand Trails, https://thousandtrails.com/. We have two zones (Midwest and Southeast) and cost us about $539 for the year (we purchased in October and got $100 discount), but we get FREE camping for 14 day at a time stays. There are stipulations with this membership, but has been worth it for us to keep our cost of living expense low. Before we purchased the membership I was skeptical and thought all Thousand Trail parks packed you in like sardines but the several we stayed at in Texas and Florida were not that bad. I actually enjoy them. Our membership has paid for itself. Plus we get 20% off Encore park stays (we did not purchase the Trails Collection yet).

For more information on a membership please comment below with your email address and I will send you the information.

AllStays

Mike and I use AllStays (https://www.allstays.com/) website (FREE version) to check out area campgrounds and reviews. Go to camping, select the state, nearest city and map view. Click on the icon and it will give you the contact info and reviews.

Now for weather, because it is important to know what you might be driving into or what living conditions you might be getting into.

Weather Bug

We use this to check out the weather for the day, especially “Moving” day. It has hour by hour and maps for you current locations and your favorites. FREE at Google Play Store.

Windfinder

It is important to know the speed of wind when traveling or living, because you might think you rig is heavy but wind can be damaging and dangerous, so we use Windfinder. This is also a FREE app at Google Play Store.

We are not affiliated with any of these organizations or apps, these are just our favorites that we use. This is just our opinion. Passport America and Thousand Trails does offer a referral program, it is no additional cost to you but helps us out.

What apps or website for camping or weather do you use and why? Let us know in the comments.