Friday, November 17, 2017

Indiana Visit and Time to Smell the Roses

In case you were wondering why there was a lapse in my posts this summer, I flew back to Indiana. My sister and I spent quality time together, for which I am very thankful.

In doing so, rather than take our daily driver out into this traffic here, I located a shuttle that would drop me off at the airport right in front of the airlines on which I flew. They also picked me up at their pick-up point when I returned. Read on to learn the rest of the story.

Sister Time

We were busy every minute and accomplished many, many tasks. In between tasks, we did as many fun things as we could squeeze in, including sharing an hour of our day joining her church group twice a month to sing hymns with the residents at the nursing home.

Early in my visit, the Active Adults from church had their annual picnic with Viv hosting. It was a beautiful day. There were about twenty-five of us. Everyone took a dish and all had a very good time. We took a crockpot of Hebrew National hot dogs, cut up, with G.Hughes sugar-free hickory-flavored BBQ sauce because both were low in carbs and we are into watching carbohydrates. Both were purchased at Walmart. While at the picnic, Phyllis approached us to ask when she and Bob could take us to the Whistle Stop for lunch.

Whistle Stop

The Whistle Stop, as it turned out, had a one-stop visit to their salad bar on the menu. It was fresh, and with a helping of lettuce and spinach, had just enough items to fill the plate, and provide a very tasty lunch.

Among other things, the Whistle Stop had a museum with interesting pieces inside and out. It took eleven years to collect all of this and it came from collectors who had spent years putting it together. This was a fun place to visit.

You can click on any of the photos to see an enlargement and "x" out of it to return to my blog.

Whistle Stop is open every day except Monday.
Outside Displays included, but were not limited to the following:

Gift Shop


Rail car, etc.
Click on the above Youtube video filmed at the Whistle Stop

Inside were G-scale model trains running overhead. The grid system that supports the track is over 3/4 of a mile of 1/4 inch steel rod. Each piece was cut and welded by their staff in the Restoration Shop located one mile north of the museum. Over 1200 feet of stainless steel rail make up the four tracks that carry the trains in and around the rooms. One of the tracks carried a circus train.

G-scale model trains inside running overhead
Click on the above Youtube video to see G-scale model trains riding the rails at the Whistle Stop near Monon, Indiana.

An exquisite collection of dining car china that was the pride of the railroad lines is also displayed.

Dining car china from various railroad lines.

Close-up of china pattern from one of the railroad lines

Focusing on Family, History...

Another highlight was having lunch at the Bravo Cafe in Osceola, Indiana. My sis got a text one day from a cousin telling us that another cousin (whom I had not seen in years) was in town from the east coast; and we were invited to join cousins on our dad's side of the family who could make it. And it had been twenty-five years for yet another. We had a good visit!

When we discovered how close we were to a location where John and I used to live, Sis and I drove by, and I snapped this photo.

House where John and I lived in Indiana from 1984 to 1991
Another highlight of our spending time together was taking a side trip to Elkhart County and our old stomping ground. The photo below is where my sister and I grew up. The Sycamore tree next to the road and other trees surrounding the house are still there. There used to be a shed and corn crib attached to this end of the barn, but they were destroyed in a tornado after we moved away. As for fruit trees, the peach, cherry, apricot, mulberry, and all but two of the apple trees are no longer there.

Home where my sis and I grew up
The old building in the photo below used to be located where the greenish garage building is in the photo above. It was relocated over fifty years ago to a neighbor's yard near the corner of the mile.

This old building was moved years ago from between our house and
barn to this location at a neighbor's home on the corner of the mile.
The old school building on this corner, prior to be remodeled into a home, was the old Good School, where I started first grade. It was one of many one-room schools in Union Township that closed when grades 1 through 8 were bussed to Union Center, the new township school. I never thought too much about the name until now, but with the Township being Union and the new school being located near the center, Union Center School was a very appropriate name.

Historical Bull Cemetery

Also in this mile is the historical Bull Cemetery, which is now listed in Indiana's Cemetery and Burial Grounds Registry of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. It was established circa 1848.

It is less than a half mile from where we grew up, and every time we went anywhere, we drove past it. I remember when the head stone markers in the photo used to mark the graves in this cemetery until the farmer who lived here at that time removed the fence and took them off of the graves so he could farm the land. At some point, he was required to put the markers back. In my memory, there were more graves with markers. Markers were not piled on top of each other as shown in the photo.

The Bull Cemetery was established in 1848.
Artley Homestead and Centennial Farm

We also drove past the farm, also in Elkhart County, where our Grandfather and Grandmother Artley lived when we were kids. We knew that the farm where our Great, Great Grandfather George Washington Artley lived is a Centennial Farm, but did not have specific directions on how to find it.

Our dad and mother used to take Sunday afternoon drives to the area when we were kids, but we were too young to be familiar with all of those county roads. So with a little recollection, we decided to drive around a little to see if we could remember enough to find it. We were ecstatic when we found it!

It is, in fact, not only a Hoosier Homestead Farm, but also an Elkhart County Centennial Farm. Now we know where it is located and how to find it!

Owned by our Great, Great Grandfather George Washington Artley, this farm is
not only a Hoosier Homestead Farm, but also an Elkhart County Centennial Farm
For the record, our Great Grandfather's Sister, Julia, married a Mauck, whose family owned Bonneyville Mill in Bristol, Indiana.

The barn still standing in the photo below is where the first Artley Reunion was held in 1902, started by our Great, Great Grandfather George Washington Artley and our Great, Great Grandmother Susan Dimm Beeber Artley. This reunion I understand holds the record in Elkhart County for being the longest consecutively held annual reunion in Elkhart County, in Indiana. The location, obviously, has changed. However, next year, 2018, when it is held in August in Elkhart County, it will be the 116th consecutive annual Artley reunion.

Barn at Artley Homestead where the first Artley Reunion was held in 1902
Lake Michigan

Driving up to the National Lakeshore and enjoying views of Lake Michigan was a great way to relax  and kick back after a hard day's work.

Lake Michigan
My visit was two days short of six weeks. I had missed the hottest and most humid days of summer that Florida had to offer.

Thanks Be to God

As I write this post, Thanksgiving Day, 2017 will soon be upon us. This is a special time to remember everything, all of the people and things in our lives, for which we have to be thankful, as we take time out to Give Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Friday, November 10, 2017

RV Park and Time to Reflect

We are now taking some time to reflect on our past two years of full-time living and traveling. As we read blogs of other travelers, we are finding that taking time to sit still for a while is not uncommon. Everyone seems to do it somewhere and their reasons are quite varied.

 April 1st

Good time for an April Fool's joke, but it isn't. As of April 1st, 2017 we rented a site at an RV park, which will remain anonymous. This is in keeping with our policy of not divulging our location on this blog until after we move on. Many bloggers when writing about a particular location do so after they have moved on to a new location. 

The RV Park

This park, in addition to the office and nice maintenance building has everything that we need. Everyone is friendly. Activities are available from November through March, for those who wish to participate. Please read captions under the photos to learn more.

The Office

Maintenance building
The clubhouse has two rooms, with room for bingo, other games, movies, TV, potlucks, puzzles, etc.

First room of clubhouse

Second room of clubhouse

Shaded front porch of clubhouse with picnic tables

Horseshoes to left at back of clubhouse

Shuffleboard directly behind clubhouse

Two separate laundry areas with dryers and clothesline

Two swings near washer/dryer areas, or rest during your walk around the park.

One of two shower/restroom buildings with laundry facilities at right front.

Fire ring for Saturday night campfires. Wood in background.

Sandhill Cranes can be seen and heard about the park.

Friendly ducks mostly hang around the pond area.

Road between campsites is great for walking Angel. 

Angel is ready to walk the "shady lane" drive

RV and trailer backed in at our site.

Our screen room large enough for picnic table and 4 chairs
Daily Driver

Yes, as of June, we have a Chrysler mini-van with the seats that fold down into the floor, It is wonderful and makes our life much easier. Now we do not have to drive this RV to the store to grocery shop. We have not actually checked the mileage yet, but it has got to be better than the maximum 7.6 miles per gallon we ever got going down hill with the Sun Sport RV.

Our long-awaited daily driver -- Chrysler mini-van


For now, we are reflecting and tossing pros and cons back and forth, as we reflect on the past and plan for the future.

Where do we go from here? East, West, North or South? Should we have a home base? If so, how will it fit into our love of traveling? There are so many places we have not seen. Will we get back into square dancing? I love to square dance.

For the time being, we are taking a break. For a change of pace, we might take a day now and then to do some local sightseeing. For all practical purposes, RV full time living and traveling has not changed. We are still doing it and will continue to post when we have things to write about.

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Visiting an RV Park and Catching up with my Sister in Florida

You have already read in a few posts back how we shortened our stay in Louisiana. I was glad we arrived in Florida when we did. It gave me an opportunity to spend some quality time with my sister, who was also visiting the Sunshine State.

During the time my sister and I caught up, we also relocated from Fore Lake Recreation Area in Ocala National Forest. Before doing so, we took a little side trip to visit an RV park in the area. We wanted to have a look at it before our planned arrival there on the first of April.

We then headed in a southward direction from Ocala and west to Invernness on the western side of the state. A blogger friend invited us to spend a few days. After we got parked at their place, John and Angel stayed behind with the RV, while my sister and I took the opportunity to spend some quality time together.

The Pool, Then a Movie

It was warm enough to do exercises in the swimming pool and lay in the sun, yet it was cool enough that the pool was not crowded, so we had the pool to ourselves.

One afternoon, we saw the movie, "Hidden Figures". It was a great movie about three African-American black women pioneers who helped send America to space. These brilliant women were Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. "Hidden Figures" is the true story behind these black women of NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history -- the launch of John Glenn into orbit. It is far from being a dry, historical movie. It has warmth, is lively, and sometimes funny, as it tells the story of women whose brains and work ethic were indefatigable. This was a good movie and I would watch it again.

The Orlando Eye

The Orlando Eye is a giant 400 feet tall ferris wheel near Orlando, Florida. Since July 28, 2016, it has been known as the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye. It is the tallest observational wheel on the east coast of North America.  We saw it as the lights were coming on in the late afternoon, early evening.

The Eye

It was huge, interesting to look at, but neither of us had any desire to ride it. It is said to be the fifth tallest ferris wheel in the world, just 13 meters shy of the London Eye. It was definitely a beautiful site to see!

Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf

 I was able to snap this photo of Pirate's Cove, the original Adventure Golf, when we made a left turn off of International Drive after we had seen the Eye.

Pirates Cove, the original Adventure Golf
It was great catching up with my sister and spending time together. We also had fun taking some selfies! Before we knew it, she was scheduled to leave for home, and we were due to leave Invernness and head back toward Ocala.

Back to Fore Lake

We headed back to Fore Lake to use their dump station. They were not filled up, so it was convenient for us to spend a few more days at Fore Lake before relocating to the RV park. The pull-thru site on the right of the main drive was a welcome site.

Pull-thru RV site at Fore Lake Recreation Area
We enjoyed a nice open area right outside our door. In the picture below, you can see the shadow of our RV and further to the right the picnic table and a fire pit. There was a nice sunny area by the picnic table where we enjoyed the sun in our big wide recliners.

Picnic Area at our site
One afternoon a bunch of historic airplanes did a fly-over. With all of the trees, it was hard to get a good photo because by the time you heard them in the air and determined which direction they were coming from, it was hard to find the open sky between the tree limbs and get them in focus. The clouds in the sky made a nice background, though, as I tried to get a plane flying over.

Beautiful sky where planes flew over
One morning we heard some unusual sounds. It was the sandhill cranes making the sounds.  On one of our walks, we saw them near the water.

The Sandhill Cranes are beautiful birds.
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Friday, October 20, 2017

Boondocking at Fore Lake in the Ocala National Forest

Fore Lake Recreation Area and Campground in the Ocala National Forest in Florida was fairly full when we arrived. The sites we would fit in were all occupied. Motor homes up to 35 feet were the largest they could accommodate. We were told to park in the overflow area, and they would let us know when a site in which we would fit became available. 

We pulled in to the overflow parking area, but did not unhook.
The campground host came knocking on our door as soon as a site opened up. It was only a short distance to walk over to look at it. From our rig in the overflow parking area, we walked to the next street, and turned left. The site was almost to the end of that street across from the restroom/shower building. New bathrooms with warm showers were built in 2004. After getting moved and settled in, we went to explore further.

Ocala National Forest Recreation Area at Fore Lake
Campsites at Fore Lake Recreation Area & Campground had their own parking spot, along with a grill, table, lantern post, and fire ring. All were surrounded with lush vegetation and graced with stately oaks and tall pines. Sites did not have electric. Water spigots were strategically placed throughout the campground, so it was convenient to refill water jugs. There was one dump station where people could refresh their holding tanks as needed.

Lush vegetation and turnouts for campsites
Palm tree in Ocala National Forest

Restroom and Changing Area for beach occupants

The foreground of the next photo as well as immediately across the street shows parking places for beach goers, boaters, and people picnicing. The building to the right has a restroom and changing area that can be entered from the sandy beach side. Through the tall trees, at ground level, you can see the lake. To see greater detail, click on the photo to enlarge it and hit escape to return to the blog.

Parking Area with facilities for people picnicking, boating, or swimming.
Swimming Beach

Facilities included a beautiful beach for swimming and picnic tables for picnics. Canoeing and kayaking seemed to be popular sports with many of the people who were camped here. Kayaks were plentiful throughout the campsites.

Swimming Beach
Alligators are present here. Bears have also been seen in this park. The trash receptacles are all bear proof. Pamphlets received at check in provided information campers must follow for their own safety.

Alligators are present.
Other Scenes on our Walk with Angel

Angel loved walking. We took at least three walks a day around the campground...morning, noon, and evening before the bugs came out.

Walking with Angel
On one of our walks, and this is in February, I spotted a robin and was able to use the zoom on my camera to get this photo. Remember you can click on any photo to enlarge it. You can view the robin at the far side of the white sandy area. Then hit escape to return to my blog.

Robin at far edge of white sandy area
A picnic pavillion was located just to the left of the swimming beach for groups to hold picnics in the National Forest.

Picnic Pavillion
Appearing in the shade of the picnic pavillion roof, I spied this work of art ... a spider's web.

A spider's web in the shade of the roof of the picnic pavillion 

Camping in National Forests .... 

While traveling full time, we have stayed in only a handful of National Forests across the USA. Besides our own experiences, we have gained information from blogs written by others, as well as online research.  Research is essential. People, we have found, are always willing to share information, but depending on their knowledge and experience may still lack pertinent information to paint a clear picture of what to expect.

Speaking from our own experiences boondocking in the National Forests, here are some things we have learned.

.....Free or Not Free? 

Some National Forests have no organized campsites. Those we simply entered by finding the turnoff for the forest road. Following the forest roads then led to finding places where people could pull off to clearings where they could boondock. Our experience has been that these boondocking sites are free.

We had to pay for camping in a National Forest with organized campsites for boondocking (with no hookups). It was a recreation site with other amenities and a camp host on site. The fees were half price with our senior pass.

.....Stay Limit ?

The stay limit was fourteen days, but was handled differently, depending on where we were.

In some instances, rangers came around, sometimes at night, and recorded our license plate number. They enforced the fourteen-day stay, including making sure people did not return for fourteen days.  If found in violation, we heard that tickets were issued with hefty fines.

In another instance, we boondocked in a National Forest where signs were posted saying the limit was fourteen days. Rangers would wave at us and we at them every time they passed on the forest road. There was evidence of rangers having to clean up trash left at campsites by people who came for long weekends. We were told by other campers who talked with the rangers that as long as the forest did not get busy, they would not bother us as long as we took care of our site.

In another instance, our stay was limited to fourteen days out of thirty.

It is best to do your research to get or verify answers to your questions, so you know what to expect when you arrive. Ignorance of the rules is no excuse.

Next Post

In my next post, my sister and I get to spend some time together, while we are both in Florida. Also, come back to read about our next boondocking spot. Please put your email in the box at the top right of this blog, if you would like to be notified when it posts. You will need to go to your email and click on a link to confirm that you want to be notified.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Reeves, Louisiana, thru Mississippi and Alabama into Florida

After leaving our friends' place near Reeves, Louisiana, we headed northeast on Highway 165 to Alexandria. We stopped at the south edge of Alexandria to refresh our tanks at the Alexander Forest WMA. They had a very nice camping area there, but since we were not camping, they let us refresh our holding tanks at no charge. Then we continued northeast on Highway 28, which connected with Highway 84 just before we got to Jonesville.

Eastward to Natchez, Mississippi

The bridge in the photos below is where we crossed the Mississippi River to enter Natchez.

Bridge over Mississippi River to Natchez, Mississippi

Crossing the Mississippi River at Natchez, MS

Welcome to Mississippi
Our overnight stop was at the Brookhaven, Mississippi, Walmart. As usual, this gave us an opportunity to get a few needed supplies while we were there.

Sunset photo from Walmart parking lot at Brookhaven, Mississippi
Our drive through Mississippi was mostly on good divided highway through areas with trees on both sides. It was a pleasant drive with minimal traffic.
Typical scene on our drive through Mississippi

Alabama State Line
Within 25 miles after crossing the Alabama State Line, traveling east on Highway 84, near Coffeeville, we came upon a big bridge. Turns out, it was the Jim Folsom Bridge which was named for a man who was twice Governor of the State of Alabama. This big bridge is over the Tombigbee River on the Choctaw-Clark County Line near Coffeeville. It was built in 1958 as a part of the Alabama Bureau of Bridges Big Bridge Building Program, and is steel Warren thru-Truss.

Map view of Hwy 84 and Tombigbee River near Coffeeville, AL

Approach to the Jim Folsom Bridge

View exiting Jim Folsom Bridge
The Walmart in Andalusia, Alabama, was our overnight stop. The next day, we continued on to the east side of the loop around Opp, AL, and took Highway 52 to Samson, AL. We then headed south on Highway 87 into Florida.

Florida at last!

The last time we were in Florida was November of 1993! Soon after entering Florida, we headed east on Highway 2 over to Highway 231 to the Florida Welcome Center.

Our RV and trailer in the parking lot behind the Florida Welcome Center.

Florida Highway 231 Welcome Center
The Florida Welcome Center offered a fresh glass of orange or grapefruit juice, which was very refreshing. We then looked around and gathered a limited amount of brochures of things to see and do while in Florida. From there we continued south on Highway 231 to the east side of Panama City, where we  stayed overnight in the Walmart parking lot.


Our priority the next morning was to do some sightseeing before we got to our eastern destination in the Ocala area. We got on Highway 98 and followed the coast past Port St. Joe. This was also the first time in many years that we had seen the Gulf of Mexico.

Before getting to Appalachiacola, we turned off on State Road 30A. We just wanted to see where it went! It took us to Cape San Blas and the end of the road, past St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge. The area was mostly residential set among beautiful Southern Pine forest and beaches with many expensive homes and resorts.

A St. Vincent Island NWR map at Cape San Blas, FL.

Just a reminder that you can click on any photo to enlarge it, and escape to return to the blog.

Signs at end of road, Cape San Blas, FL.

Boat landing and ferry dock to St. Vincent NWR
Causeway approach, highway 98, Eastpoint, FL

Crossing the causeway toward Eastpoint, FL
Highway 98 along the shoreline afforded a beautiful view of the Gulf. Highway 98 parallels the Gulf and makes a beautiful drive from Panama City to the little town of Medart at the eastern edge of the Appalachiacola National Forest.

Highway 98 and a beautiful view of the Gulf
This took us to Carabelle, Florida, with great views of the beach. 

The above photos are looking left, straight ahead, and right at the Gulf. It felt really nice after 24 years to set foot on the soft, warm sand of a gulf beach. Below, I panned around to the right along the street to the picnic areas with overhead shade.

Still panning to the right, this is the picnic area along the street
Still panning, a little further to the right, I found Angel sitting in the driver's seat of our RV looking out the front window. On the other side of the street is a view of an RV Park at Carabelle. 

Angel in the driver's seat of the RV
 After Carabelle, we took a little detour through Appalachiacola National Forest on Highway 319 and then back to Highway 98 again.  The Perry, Florida, Walmart was the site of our overnight stop. We continued south on Alternate 27 the next day to Ocala.

We were going to stay overnight at either a Walmart or a Sam's Club. As we got closer, traffic was horrible. When we got there, we discovered they had changed their rules and did not allow overnight parking. Designated spaces for RVs to park while shopping were at the far end of their parking lot, which had a lot of curbs and made the spaces way too tight for comfort. I did make us a quick sandwich while John checked parking information on his Smartphone. Our best option was to head for Ocala National Forest and hope they had a camping spot available. 

Thank you for following this RV Full-Time Living and Traveling adventure. Feel free to make comments in the section below. 

In the next post I will show you our next camping spot and talk about differences we experienced in National Forests as we traveled across the land.

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