Find us on Google+ Rick and JoAnne's RV Travels: February 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Friends and Family

Rick Morgan
One of the main reasons we came to Florida was to visit my parents in Naples, my sister in Ft. Meyers, and my Uncle Mike and his wife Adele who live in LaBelle. We also wanted to visit friends Hal and Lois who are spending a couple of months in Key West, JoAnne’s friend Fern Nelson in Sarasota, and special friends Ellen and Franny who live in Avon Park. Finally, I had an insurance industry event to attend in Tampa.

Mission almost accomplished.

We arrived in Florida on February 9 and celebrated our 21st Anniversary. At this time of year most Florida campgrounds are fully booked and we had a lot of traveling back and forth to do we decided to store our RV and found a great spot in Big Toy Storage. So, on February 10th we parked Tiger II (our RV) and headed to Naples visit Mary and Dick (my parents).

Flying down to Join us in Naples was our daughter Andrea and grandson Caleb. On Saturday, JoAnne, Andrea, Caleb and I headed out for a day of exploring the blustery beach on Marco Island, Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, and the Historic Smallwood Store. According to Caleb the highlight of the trip was seeing lots of alligators while driving along Alligator Alley.

Our trip was timed to coincide with my parent’s 68th wedding anniversary and on February 12th. Mom’s brother Mike and his wife Adele, daughter Tracey and her husband Eric, granddaughter Andrea and great grandson Caleb, JoAnne and I celebrated Mom and Dad’s anniversary at Erin’s Isle. 68 years…Wow!

I was able to spend Monday February 13th at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary with my sister Tracey photographing birds. I don’t get to spend much time with her. So, this was special. Thanks Tracey for letting me use your 600mm lens.

On the 14th we headed back to Tampa and an insurance conference. In my current stage of “phased” retirement I am still very involved on a national level with the Agents Council For Technology and serve as Chair of the Social Media Workgroup.

The Tampa event concluded on the 16th and on the 17th we headed to Key West. We got a late start and planned on stopping overnight at a motel along the way. What were we thinking? We were headed into one of the most popular areas of Florida on a Friday night of the long President’s Day holiday weekend. Needless to say all of South Florida was booked – except for one room at the Florida City Travel Lodge. Check out our $192.00 luxury suite.

On the 18th we traveled the 105 miles on the spectacular Florida Keys Scenic Highway from Key Largo to Key West. By the time we reached Sigsbee Naval Air Station Campground we had successfully made the transition from business casual to tee shirts and flip-flops.

As expected Hal and Lois were great hosts and tourist guides. Our trip was filled with “happy hours”, plenty of great meals, Mallory Square sunsets, and even a trip to the historic Key West Cemetery. Yet, the highlight had to be our side trip to Dry Tortuga National Park. It was a perfect day for the boat ride to the park. I say perfect, but the seas were a bit choppy and probably over half the passengers ended up seasick. Once at the park we had plenty of time to explore. Hal and I also got in some great snorkeling. JoAnne and I also added the Snooty Tern to our life bird list.

On the 21st it was back to Tampa to pick up our RV. But first, on the way we made a quick stop at Biscayne National Park. Once in Tampa we decided to stay at LazyDays RV Campground and attend a Winnebago Rally. There is more to this story, which will be the topic of another blog. For now, I can say that an RVer going to LazyDays is like a Chocoholic being set loose In a Godiva factory. Our time in Tampa also gave us time to visit JoAnne’s friend Fern. She is 92, lives alone, still drives (ok that is a bit scary) and is as sharp as a tack. 

Tomorrow we are headed to Anastasia State Park just 5 miles outside of St. Augustine.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Battlefield, 10,000 Years of History and A Prisoner of War Camp

Rick Morgan
Our first stop today was Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. The park was only about 20 miles from our overnight stay at Red Top Mountain State Park and was part of the Atlanta Campaign. Gen. William T. Sherman with an army of 100,000 men began his march toward Atlanta in the spring of 1864. On September 2 after a long deadly summer of hotly contested battles, Sherman entered Atlanta. In early November Sherman left Atlanta in ruins and began his now famous “March to the Sea”.

Have you heard about Ocmulgee (National Monument)? We hadn’t. It is an area just southeast of Macon, GA While people have lived on this plateau for 10,000 years the time between 900 -1100 BC (BCE) the area was inhabited by the Mississippians and later Lamar and Creek cultures. OK, you get the idea – lots of old pots, arrowheads, and a series of earthen mounds. No, actually, this was a very interesting/fascinating visit.

Our final stop of the day was Andersonville National Historic Site. When I hear someone mention prisoner of war I think of Germany, Japan or Vietnam. A remote town in Georgia does not come to mind – or didn’t until now. Andersonville was a Confederate military prison. More than 45,000 Union solders were confined here. However, the real story is the fact that 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, and overcrowding. Today, this park is also a memorial to all prisoners of war.


Tomorrow we need to get serious about getting to Ft. Meyers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Growing Pains

Rick Morgan
Reflecting on the sites of the last two days and I think of a young nation trying to find its identity. On Sunday we spent most of the day soaking up the history associated with the Cumberland Gap and the push for Westward expansion. It is estimated that today over 48 million Americans can trace their ancestry back to one of the roughly 300,000 who followed such legends as Daniel Boone through the Gap in the Cumberland Mountains. It is a beautiful place and we enjoyed hiking some the same trails used by those early frontiersman.

On Sunday night we drive toward Knoxville, TN and camped at Cove Lake State Park. Again, we had the place to ourselves and on Monday we woke up to a mystical morning – drenched in shades of grey.

Lookout Mountain and the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was our first stop on Monday. We have visited many of the Civil war battlefields, cemeteries, and memorials. Yet, we continue to be humbled by the great sacrifice made be the young men on both sides of the battlefield. It is impossible for our generation to even imagine the horror associated with this war. Yet, in the end the nation remained united and… well you know the rest.

Monday night we camped at Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, GA. As the name implies, the park is in the Mountains and has some spectacular views.

SEE MORE Pictures Here:

On Tuesday, we spent the morning at several Cherokee Nation sites. This is the area where the Trail of Tears began. We visited the Chief Vann House, the Moravian Mission Cemetery, and New Echota. The history is fascinating but clearly not one of our proudest moments as a nation. Growing Pains?

On a lighter note, JoAnne got a chance to see her Brick in the Centennial Olympic Park. It has only taken 16 years to get there.

Tonight we are camping at Red Top Mountain State Park just north of Atlanta.

SEE MORE Pictures Here: 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Timing is Everything – or getting out of Colorado ahead of the big snow!

Rick Morgan
When we left home and headed for St. Louis the temps were in the 60’s. We had great weather and an easy trip across Eastern Colorado, Kansas and Missouri – warm weather, no wind. The last time we made this trip we had sub-zero temperatures, snow and lots of wind. So, this was a very welcome change.

We had a great time with our St. Louis Grandkids. Since our son and daughter-and-law were off to Reno for most of the week we had the kids all to ourselves. What fun – no really – what fun!

On Wednesday (Feb 1) we headed south – sort of. We were not sure if we should head to Memphis or Nashville. As it turned out we didn’t go to either. We headed toward Memphis but stopped at Trail of Tears State Park. This park marks the spot and is a tribute to the13 groups of Cherokee Indians that crossed the Mississippi River in the harsh winter of 1838-1839. While we knew the story of the Trail of Tears we did not realize that many of the Cherokee Indians had been relocated from northern Georgia where for the most part they had integrated themselves into the American culture and were living and farming in frontier Georgia.

Next, we headed to Bollinger Mill State Historic Site. The mill turned out to be closed but the covered bridge was worth the trip.

We spent the night on the shores of the Mississippi at Columbus-Belmont State Park in KY. This was the site of a Confederate fortification built during the Civil War. In fact, they stretched a chain across the River to block Northern ships – part of the chain is on display.

On Thursday we headed East toward the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park and stopped for the night at Rough River Dam State Resort Park – Laurel Branch.

We spent Friday morning visiting Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park. You know most of the history but it was interesting to learn that while Lincoln was born in a Log Cabin his family was considered middle class, as they were landowners.

We then headed further south and camped at Levi Jackson State Park near London, KY. This park contains some of the historic trails used by more that 200,000 settlers who came through the Cumberland Gap between 1774 and 1796.

Saturday was our “catch-up” day. We paid bills, processed pictures, wrote this blog, answered email, etc. Again, timing is everything – I rained all day making it a perfect day to stay put.

Tomorrow, on Super Bowl Sunday we will drive to Cumberland GAP National Historic Park.

Before we sign off… We have really enjoyed our time with our grandkids and traveling through Kentucky at this time of the year. We know we have been lucky to have the warm weather we have experienced and while it is less green than most of the rest of the year it has been fun having the back roads and state parks to ourselves – literally. Last night was the first time we shared a campground with another camper.