Sunday, November 13, 2016

What do you want to do today Honey?

Traveling is a joy to us. We love exploring cities and whole regions of a state that is not familiar to us. It is exciting to enter a new place and to get ready to explore.
Destinations are the easy part. The United States and Canada are so vast that we will never run out of ideas. The trick, we have found, is to slow down and make the journey as much fun as the accomplishment of reaching the end goal.
We have gotten pretty good at mapping our routes and picking out stopping points. Those decisions are guided by our desire to drive only 200-250 miles in a day and to be off the road and set up in a site before dark.
We use paper maps, an Atlas, the Motor Carriers Truck Atlas, Google Maps, a web based program called RV Trip Wizard and the Allstays app to help us with the route planning and to find RV parks to camp in.
Recently we have started a practice of staying a minimum of 3 nights once we do make a stop. This routine allows us to explore towns and cities that we might otherwise have just driven past or ignored.
Once established we pretty much stick to the route. We do sometimes make minor adjustments in timing due to weather, illness or just because there is a great concert coming to town the next day.

Route planning done we board the Behemoth and drive to the first stop on our current journey.

While drinking our coffee the next morning, Fred will inevitably turn to me and say "What do you want to do today Honey?"

That's where my love of collecting interesting bits of information becomes an asset to our travels. Tourism takes a bit of planning and it is helpful to have some regular sources to refer to. Let me share with you some of the ways we find interesting places to visit and explore.

It's fun to have our Passport stamped at each lighthouse we visit.

Fred and I enjoy climbing lighthouses and learning the history of their intrepid keepers. Whenever we are planning to be near the ocean, a major river or enormous lake I check our lighthouse maps or the Lighthouse Friends website to find out if there are any lighthouses nearby. They are always an interesting stop and we have found that the docents on duty often give us ideas of their favorite local places. The US Lighthouse Society offers a passport book that allows you to collect rubber stampings that represent the lighthouses you visit. We enjoy collecting those tiny souvenirs of our visits.

The National Parks Passport book is a great resource and if you are and old enough to qualify for the park systems Senior Pass it will allow you access to all of our National Parks without paying an entrance fee. The Passport Book and a related i-phone app called Passport to your National Parks tell us if there are any National Parks, Monuments or Historic Sites nearby. The book is organized by region. The app is searchable by park, state or "nearby". National Parks all have stamps that you can use to mark in your Passport Book when you have visited. It makes me happy to find those stamps and to fill in another page of the book. The Passport book has become a sort of scrapbook of our National Park adventures.

Our NationalParks Passport book with recent 2016 additions.
Follow the railroad tracks. Railroad history tells the story of our country and how it was built. Railroad museums all over the US and Canada have given us insight into the past and a glimpse of the courage and back breaking effort it took to build our nations.

Blogs are like diaries. They chronicle personal journeys as well as physical ones. I read a lot of blogs, most of them travel blogs, many by fellow RV travelers. When we following the travels of other adventurers i make note of places that they mention that we might like to visit. If you are reading this post on a computer you can see a list of the blogs we follow on the lower right of this page.

We receive a weekly newsletter from Do It Yourself RV that shares a variety of blog posts and news articles written by RVers for RVers. Many of them share travel information about interesting and out of the way places. As an example a recent article was titled Camp at these 5 Bigfoot, UFO and Mothman Hotspots.
I made a note of them.

The i-phone app Roadside America catalogs thousands of attractions, many of them odd and wonderful to look at. This app has led us to find the hauntingly beautiful 9-11 Memorial in Atlantic Highlands New Jersey and the weirdly wonderful UFO house in Pensacola Florida. The searchable app has a nearby feature that makes it easy to use while driving.

I just found a great cache of old magazines in the RV parks laundry. Escapees, Motorhome, Midwest Living, and Family Motor Coaching.  We let all of our subscriptions go since they cost so much to forward and I have a hard time reading the digitized versions. These gems are full of great places to travel and even feature some Park Reviews. I am making notes while reading so that we will be able to find these wonderful places at a future date.

State and County parks are a great source of local history. We have found that many states have apps that direct you to their State Parks. The Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger has lead us to a number of great finds in the Sunshine State. The nice thing about the Florida State Parks app is that you can search by activity. Want to swimming look for parks with beaches, ready to peddle, click on the bike.

We also carry several books with us that guide us to interesting places.
1000 Places to See Before You Die.
The Most Scenic Drives in America.
Off the Beaten Path

Good food and restaurants can also lead you to some interesting parts of a town. We use the book Road Food as well as the Flavortown USA website that lists restaurants featured on Food Networks Diners Drive-ins and Dives.

The information and travel tips are all great information but they do us no good unless we can access them in a timely manner. A notebook full of places to visit quickly becomes difficult to use.

Pinterest tRaVel boards
Pinterest has proven to be a great storage option for this kind of information. The program is basically a giant bulletin board where you can drop information and return to it later. Called "pins" these bits of information are photo based so they are easy to recognize when you go back to them. Each pin has room for a text description defining it for future reference. I have made it a practice to find and add the address of the particular attraction into that text box.
The beauty of the program is that you can sort your pins into boards like chapters of a book. My personal Pinterest account has over 3500 pins so organization is important.
When you "pin" a website or photograph you are given the option of putting it on a specific board.
Our travel boards are organized by state and sometimes broken down into regions of a state. We are currently adding to 57 uniquely defined travel boards.
For example we are currently in Bradenton Florida. The pins we are referring to are in a board titled  tRaVel: Florida: Gulf Coast South.

Now when Fred turns to over morning coffee and says "What do you want to do today, Honey?" I turn on the computer, open Pinterest and we discuss a list of possibilities.


  1. Picked up some great hints from this article! Thanks

    1. You're welcome. Travel is always an adventure. We love to share our ideas as well as learn from others.