Life on the Open Road

Life on the Open Road

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Clarksville, Tennessee

Clarksville, TN has the coolest parking meters I’ve seen yet. They appeared to be solar powered, have a motion sensor to tell when a vehicle has pulled up, and they give you the first hour of parking free. This was so neat, I took pictures.
In the downtown:
I drove down to see the water and found McGregor Park.
I really don’t understand how profanity can be disallowed in a park. I am not sure how that works since it is a public park and there is freedom of speech. As my friend commented in discussing this, “What the duck?”
I drove through TN fairly quickly so this sums up the state during this trek for now.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Columbia, Franklin, and Nashville, Tennessee

I left Alabama and entered Tennessee, stopping in Columbia for a night. On my way out, I saw a sign for a riverwalk and excitedly pulled over. Duck River!
Riverwalks have made their way to my list of favorite places to check out. It’s so refreshing to be near a body of water.

Next I was headed to Franklin. While I have been to Nashville before, I wanted to go to Franklin since so many of my favorite artists/musicians live there and I’d learned it is a happening suburb of Nashville. I drove around and it was quite full of people and quite hot. I stayed for a few hours in the downtown area.
Next, I returned to Nashville. Why is the speed limit 24?
I went to the Cooters Museum. Now I haven’t actually seen the TV or movies of The Dukes of Hazard. So I checked it out and enjoyed the collectibles and tributes and such here, without being familiar with any of it. I don’t really watch TV or even films much these days or for a long while now and don’t have any desire to see the show. Still, cool to check out.
I went to the Willie Nelson and Friends Museum Showcase next door. There, you can find a fortune teller Willie when you open the door. That was a fun looking robotic machine! I decided to keep my dollar and create my own fate.
That included visiting the Opry again. It was amazing how similar it was in the gift shop to when I was last there, several years ago at this point. I think it’s been ten years… They are celebrating 90 years and were decorated outside for it.
I walked the big mall there for some exercise and air conditioning and spotted these animal rides. Kids -even very young kids- were riding, some alone and some with someone else. This was the first time I’d seen such a thing. It had been a long time since I’d been in a mall like this.
I also stopped at the Camping World there for some propane. If you’re a Good Sam’s Club member, you get a discount on propane on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at most locations(if not all) so I took advantage of it.
Definitely a more touristy area. I went to check out some parks, too. I think this covers things enough though.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Huntsville, Alabama 

In Montgomery, I saw the room where Alabama left the Union. In Huntsville, I saw the spot where Alabama entered the Union.
Unlike some other parks, this did not state a rule about profanity so I made a point to curse because I could freely. :p No Diapers. OK.
I again was here at a time when a lot was closed and it would have been cool to see some of the places that looked neat. Maybe another time. I did walk the downtown and also around Big Spring Park, which is quite big and lovely. I'm hardly giving a glance here with these pictures. There are fountains and pathways and monuments and fishes and birds and more.
I liked this: Kindle the Spark Within-Destiny is a Matter of Choice
This was another enjoyable place to stop and check out. It had some nice diversity of folks out and about, too, which I appreciated. Felt like the good stuff of a town and a city mixed together.

Five Suggestions for Preparing to Full-time RV When Primarily Boondocking or in a CamperVan

I just love the open road!
Everyone has a different starting place and different desires for the RV lifestyle. These are some of my suggestions for those who want to live full-time in an RV or camper van and primarily boondock.
1. Begin to live a bit differently in whatever dwelling you’re currently in, to help ease the adjustments and form new habits. For example, if you are going to boondock a lot, shower for shorter amounts of time, less often. If you want “regular” showers- whatever that means to you- there are ways to have that happen. For many- probably most, showers happen less frequently and easing into that can make it smoother. It’s amazing how little water it takes to bathe! The same goes for clothes- if you plan to have fewer items, begin only wearing fewer. See how often you want to do laundry and what items you wear and like the most. You may also want to see if and how you can reduce the trash you accumulate.
2. Approximate new expenses. You will likely find yourself with propane, dump/fill, occasional campground, excursions/outings, laundry, RV insurance and roadside assistance expenses you may not have had before. Also, you may find you eat out more as you try new foods or that you buy different foods to fit your space and kitchen better. While some of this may be additional, there’s a good chance other costs will no longer concern you and so they swap out. Things like oil changes and tire rotations may be something to consider as well since you might want them more often if you’re driving a lot. My RV is a van and can be done at regular price at many regular shops(I go to dealerships and love the Express Lanes.) The rates I’ve noticed at RV shops and for bigger RVs are much higher.
3. If there is something you never or rarely use, don’t take it. Unless it’s something you really WANT anyway, it isn’t likely worth the space and weight. If you prefer to keep and not carry it, maybe you have a friend or relative who will store it for you or can rent a storage space. Check out my suggestions for clearing out here. On that note, if you’re ready to go soon and there are things you want to buy online, order them while you still have an address they can be shipped directly to. It’s just easier than general delivery or finding a pick up location. Some stores do let you order online at pick up at a store, which is cool.
4. Tools are heavy. Carry the ones you need. Figure out what tools fit your screws and bolts, etc. and take them. You do not likely need an entire set of every size or kind.
5. Live in the RV, if you can, while you clear out and prepare to move out. My biggest suggestion is actually the following: go on a 7-10 day trip, preferably to someplace you’ve not yet been, starting with a full fresh tank and empty grey and black tanks, trying various options like a parking lot, the woods, a campground - whatever you want to, to see how things go. Make note of what you want/need/use and what you took you didn’t need at all. What did you like and what would you prefer? This is not camping like a vacation where you might think and act differently. I’m talking about going out and living like it’s your home and you have everything you need; living in your RV the way you imagine it will be when you are fully full-timing. You’ll quickly see some things that you can change, get or get rid of, how long your tanks lasted you, and so on. Then adjust as needed.
Choosing this lifestyle is so incredibly fun when it’s what you really want to do. I think there are always ways to improve the experience and playing with it as you go is fantastic. What works now may not work later. That’s fine. For anything you may be “giving up”, just think of all that you will be experiencing that you haven’t yet. The personal growth and expansion that comes from doing what you love is amazing. I love living in my RV. It’s awesome!

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Stop in a Park and Decatur, Alabama

I walked around at a park on my way to Decatur - one of those see the sign on the side of the road, decide to visit it, follow the signs here and there, and see the supposed second oldest Poplar tree in Alabama, kinds of thing. It was a nice walk. :)
IMG_2634IMG_2644I spent a couple of days in Decatur. First, I visited the Tennessee River and the historic districts, mostly driving around to see some of the buildings and stopping at this riverside park area.
I watched a train stop right in front of this overlook for a while and then saw that some people had been waiting there because they couldn't get back over until it left. :)
I visited Cook’s Natural Science Museum and really enjoyed it. This is where I saw the bear display and recognized I had seen a cub like I thought at the driving preserve in Eufaula the other day. This museum is run by an exterminating company. It is full of good stuff from insects, animals, rocks, a few live creatures, and more. It isn’t a huge space, though there was a notice they will be moving it to a new location soon, still it has a lot to see and I liked how it was set up. I would visit again. It took about half an hour to go through, however, I was skimming and looking and touching the things to be touched, not thoroughly reading or progressing through as I often do. NOTE: I just looked them up and they are currently closed, moving, and will have a slightly different name, becoming The Cook Museum of Natural Science. It looks fancy, and much bigger so I'm even more excited to visit again at some point!
Next I stopped at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge for a walk in the woods. Lots of corn. An observation room (I used some of the video I shot there for the “I Was Told There Would Be Gators” video) where you can see to different areas on two floors and different sides of the building, and another area with trails by the swamp. I’m not sure how big the refuge is as there were different parts to it and I drove across the way from one to the next.
As often is the case, there is more to see and do here. I was headed to the Midwest so continued North.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Montgomery, Alabama

I loved Montgomery and it is one of my favorite places I’ve visited. It worked out beautifully that I can fit on the street right by the riverfront and put in change just for a bit to check out the downtown.
I went to the visitor’s center and asked what I could see in one day (I ended up spending the night, however, kept heading North the next morning, after simply driving by some of the historic places I wanted to see) and also picked up a postcard at the shop. There are so many things to do here! I opted to do self guided locations and the visitor’s center offers free parking permits to guests to park right in front of the capital in reserved spots for the day. This allows easy access to many places of interest. Perfect!
First, I walked through the Capital building. I saw the room where Alabama seceded from the Union, the ceiling murals, and a great view to outside.
I walked down the road to the church where Martin Luther King Jr. was Pastor at one time. This was a very powerful experience for me. I didn’t go inside, just took it in from the outside. His light and vision holds a particularly strong beauty to it for me and this was a meaningful visit.
Next I walked to the First White House of the Confederacy. I hardly recall ever learning much about this. Anyhow the house was lovely.
Next, I walked over to the Museum of Alabama and the Department of Archives and History. Folks, I highly recommend this museum! I didn’t even get to thoroughly go through it because I got there later in the day. It is filled with history and I feel it was so well done! Diverse, respectful, unbiased, including lots of quotes and even audio from people. I wish more museums were done as tastefully as this was! And was very impressed with the display and approach overall. HIGHLY RECOMMEND a visit. I thought I took some pictures of the outside and am not seeing any. Oh well.
I drove by the Historic Greyhound Bus Station where the Freedom Rides Museum is on my way out the next day. I would love to visit again, preferably at a cooler season as it was pretty hot. :)