Tag Archives: Leisure

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Birding and RVing in the East

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Birding and RVing are an incredible match of activities. RVing allows you to stay in parks during the right times of the year to see birds in their summer or winter habitats or along the way as the birds are migrating. Plus, camping at a park gives you the ability to step outside your RV early in the morning to watch birds during peak observation times.

With binoculars and a guide or app for bird identification, anyone can enjoy the hobby and stop at whatever level you want.

I know that many serious birders have a life list of all the species they have seen and identified. But casual birders can just try to identify a few birds.

A few of birders’ favorite guides are Sibley Guides, the National Geographic Guide, and Peterson Field Guides. There are quite a few apps available to smartphone owners, including BirdsEye, iBird Pro, and the Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds.

Birds can be seen at almost all state and national parks, but some are better than others. Of course, you should attend bird walks to learn what species are at the park or what areas of the park have more sightings.

Here are some great parks to visit in the Southeast while you are hiding out from the northern snow. The parks in italics have camping for RVs.

Purple Gallinule hiding in Shark Valley.

Florida

RV snowbirds visit Florida during the winter while birds are wintering there too. However, many birds stay the whole year, so birding is a year-round hobby. Some places to visit are listed here.

Everglades National Park — This park is on every birder’s wish list. Summertime can be too hot and muggy, but the park is wonderful to visit in the winter (November to March). More than 400 species have been recorded at the park.

Audubon lists this as the most significant breeding ground for wading birds and as a stopover for birds migrating on the Atlantic Flyway. The Anhinga Trail and Shark Valley are popular areas to see birds. Campsites are available both with and without electricity.

While the Everglades are the gold standard, many species of birds can be seen throughout Florida’s parks.

Savannas Recreation Area— This is a great park to see birds while on a walk. Alternatively, you can rent a canoe to explore the area and get up close and personal.

Sandhill Crane at our campsite at Moss Park.

Moss Park — This is a county park with great camping. The highlight is the Sandhill Cranes that walk through the campground. Be prepared to hear their loud calls, which can sound like an elephant bellowing.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park — Be sure to canoe the Loxahatchee River when you visit this park. You can see alligators, air plants, and lots of birds along the river.

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge — The refuge is listed as one of the top birding spots in the United States. There is no camping at the refuge but there are several RV parks in the area. While you are there, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is nearby and well worth a visit.

View from a campsite at St. Andrews State Park.

Gulf Coast

The top of the Gulf of Mexico coast and its curve include many state parks where birding can be enjoyed.

St. Andrews State Park — This park has campsites on the water so you can watch birds feeding just a few feet from your campsite.

Other great parks for birding within Florida include Henderson Beach State Park, Grayton Beach State Park, and Big Lagoon State Park.

Gulf Islands National Seashore is a terrific place to observe shorebirds any time of the year. Camping is at Fort Pickens Campground (Florida) and Davis Bayou Campground (Mississippi). Both campgrounds are excellent.

Dauphin Island — There is no camping at the state park but there are a couple of RV parks here. The island is home to Audubon Bird Sanctuary. The best time to visit is during spring migrations in April and May when warblers and tanager visit but many species of birds make this island home.

Grand Isle State Park in Louisiana is best known as a place for thousands of warblers to rest during their migration in the spring. Another 100 species of birds also visit this park.

You can enjoy your winter while you observe the birds that are also enjoying the weather.

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Underrated gear to buy for your next hunt

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When most people think about hunting gear, certain items probably immediately jump to mind: a rifle, bow, binoculars, ammo, arrows, knife, backpack, boots, etc. Those things are certainly important, but there are a couple of other items you should probably consider taking afield that don’t get quite as much attention.

However, don’t discount their value. They can help you stack the odds of success in your favor as much as possible by enabling you to take better care of yourself and your equipment while you’re out hunting.

Gun Cleaning Supplies

Over the years I’ve had a couple of hunts interrupted by some sort of issue with my rifle or shotgun. Some of these incidents have involved extreme weather. Others have resulted from user error.

Yes, I’ve accidently dropped my rifle and plugged the barrel with dirt. No matter how great your hunting rifle is, and no matter how careful you are, accidents happen every now and then and sometimes it doesn’t take much to knock a firearm out of commission.

Fortunately, you can minimize the impact an event like that will have on your hunt if you have some gun cleaning supplies on hand. Depending on the exact circumstances of your hunt, it might be fine to leave your supplies in the truck. At other times, you may need to carry a basic gun cleaning kit on you.

Either way, a few items should be enough to take care of most issues you’re likely to encounter afield: a sectioned cleaning rod, a couple of patches, some CLP or gun oil, and a rag. That should be plenty to safely clear a barrel obstruction or get a finicky semi-auto shotgun back in running order for the rest of the hunt before a more thorough cleaning when you get back home.

Basic First-Aid Kit

While a gun cleaning kit will help keep your firearms in running order, it’s also important to take care of yourself. Hunting is a physical activity and bumps, bruises, cuts, and scrapes are part of the price you pay for enjoying the outdoors sometimes. However, especially on a really long or physically demanding hunt, those little things can add up to sap your focus and willpower.

Don’t be that guy who needs to quit early for a slight injury.

Once again, the circumstances of your hunt dictate what you should have on hand, but at a minimum, bring a couple of Band-Aids, some pain medication (Advil, Tylenol, etc.), some tweezers, and some moleskin with you so you can deal with minor medical issues while you’re out in the woods.

Bug Repellent

Hunts at certain times of year can mean encounters with large numbers of biting insects. This is especially true for spring turkey season, an early teal hunt, or archery deer season in many areas.

I don’t know about you, but having mosquitoes constantly buzzing around my head and biting exposed skin can be really annoying and distracting.

You want your attention to be focused on your hunt, not by the bugs that are harassing you. Indeed, a coyote I encountered in Georgia many years ago got a new lease on life because I was paying too much attention to the bugs that were trying to bite me instead of watching the woods for predators responding to my call.

That hunt sticks in my memory to reinforce the importance of taking measures to repel biting insects on a warm weather hunt. So, either wear a DEET-based repellent or use a Thermacell to keep the bugs away so you won’t be distracted from your actual hunt.

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Video: How to manage .45 recoil with only 2 fingers

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Sometimes, the firearms training industry gets in a rut…and people get very emotional about techniques that they read about or see on videos without ever testing them.

One of the sacred cows of gun training is that you should squeeze the life out of your pistol, get as much meat on metal as possible, and push in from the sides to manage recoil effectively.

I heard, believed, and taught that for years.

I’ve never been married to a specific technique…only to the most effective and efficient technique, so when Larry Yatch and Beau Doboszenski showed me the “Vice Grip,” I tested and adopted it.

The Vice Grip applies force in the same plane as the recoil forces of the gun (forward and backwards) to give you the most mechanical advantage.

You get better recoil management with less effort than if you squeeze in from the side. But people dismiss it without actually trying it.

So, I took things to the extreme…and I’m going to show you how you can effectively manage recoil…even from a .45…with only to fingers touching the grip and nothing touching the sides of the gun. Keep in mind, the video at the top is NOT a how-to video. It’s a demonstration.

This is a prime example of how high leverage training can get you better results with less effort. And why we’re consistently able to help shooters shoot two times faster, with two times tighter groups in only 21 days for less than the cost of a single trip to the range with this training.

When you squeeze 100% with your shooting hand, one of the things that happens is that your trigger finger doesn’t move freely…when you try to press the trigger, your other fingers and sometimes your wrist will flex with it, throwing your shot off.

But if you could squeeze with less force, applied more intelligently, you can have better recoil management and faster, more accurate follow-up shots.

And, if you’re a serious shooter, you owe it to yourself to check out 21 Day Alpha Shooter…it’ll give you the biggest bang for the buck of any firearms training on the market. It’s used by members of elite military units from around the world, top tactical law enforcement from coast to coast, and thousands of responsibly armed Americans.

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Travel2020: Flight delays now measured in thousands — of years

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That innocuous two-hour aircraft maintenance interruption may seem like a minor inconvenience, but if added together with all the other interruptions per passenger at an airport in a given year, the delays can add up to thousands of years.

A new study by FinanceBuzz examined the top 25 airports in the U.S. where passengers are most delayed. Not surprisingly, Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), hometown hub of United Airlines and where the legacy carrier runs more flights than any competitor, the topped the list.

The report analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, including total passengers departing from each airport, percentage of flights delayed, and the average length of each delay. The accumulated hours added up to more than time lost.

Rather, the findings were best interpreted in measures of years. Thus, in 2018 alone, delays at Chicago O’Hare International Airport amounted to 1,133 years lost — in time travel, that would take a passenger back to the sailings of pilgrims across the ocean to settle the east coast swamps of the New World.

In a deeper drill down, there were 33,152,904 passengers who departed from ORD last year. Some 25% of flights from the airport were delayed or cancelled so 25% of those 33 million passengers — or 8,288,226 million people — were affected by delays at just this one airport last year.

The average delay at ORD was 71.85 minutes, making the collective time passengers were delayed 595,509,038 minutes or 1,133 years. Atlanta came next on the list with a collective delay time of 991 years.

Work Woes, Not Weather

Further findings revealed these delays were not about weather, which might be assumed. However, weather delays accounted for just 4% of delays. Infrastructure and operations were more often noted as the dominating cause of flight delays.

Carrier delays, where “the cause of the cancellation or delay was due to circumstances within the airline’s control (e.g. maintenance or crew problems, aircraft cleaning, baggage loading, fueling, etc.),” also account for a high percentage of delays across airports.

  1. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD): 1,133 years
  2. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL): 991 years
  3. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW): 872 years
  4. Denver International Airport (DEN): 792 years
  5. San Francisco International Airport (SFO): 654 years
  6. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX): 651 years
  7. Orlando International Airport (MCO): 617 years
  8. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR): 601 years
  9. Boston Logan International Airport (BOS): 551 years
  10. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT): 542 years

According to the latest “value of travel time savings” published by the Department of Transportation, the monetary value of this time lost while traveling adds up significantly as the report deems the per-person cost of an hour of personal travel by air is $33.20.

FAA Fixes

In a separate note, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao recently announced a $478 million infusion in airport infrastructure grants to 232 airports in 43 states. This is the fourth allotment of the total of $3.18 billion in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for airports across the United States.

Selected projects include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation; construction of firefighting facilities; and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons, and terminals. The construction and equipment supported by this funding increase the airports’ safety, emergency response capabilities, and capacity; and could support further economic growth and development within each airport’s region.

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Economics key in new Endangered Species Act rules

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In the grand scheme of federal vs. state-level environmental battles, we have nearly seen it all lately. With the Department of Interior steering the helm of the most controversial environmental issues of the day, we witness a shifty and complex federal culture when it comes to environmental rules.

It’s on-again and off-again, with federal departments mainly deregulating and the federal judiciary emerging with some surprising decisions. The Trump administration appears to want to lift any restriction blocking land development; some federal judges have protected precarious rules or have challenged executive actions.

Now, nothing short of the polar bear hangs in the balance as key elements of the Endangered Species Act are up next on Trump’s chopping block.

Trump administration officials are restructuring environmental agencies and rules. For example, there’s the fight over protected land jurisdiction, which recently saw a big change as the U.S. Supreme Court’s Sturgeon v. Frost case sided with state regulations over federal protection of National Park Service land.

This case cautions those who assume that federal protections will endure state-level tests. In this case, it was the issue of state-approved hovercrafting vs. federal subsistence fishing rights.

But then states fight back in the deregulation climate, and they sometimes win. An Alaska federal judge ruled against offshore drilling in some Arctic areas. This is an ongoing dispute. Pipeline building in the New York City area was blocked by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Just as Alaska’s Gwich’in launch a legal fight against the Department of Interior’s effort to lease 1002 Area, where polar bear denning and porcupine caribou calving grounds are threatened, we hear news of the next level of attack against the Endangered Species Act.

An Aug. 12 New York Times headline reads, “U.S. Significantly Weakens Endangered Species Act.” We have already been warned that Trump administration was headed down this path and now new rules will go into effect within a month.

This kind of move will create a domino effect on existing protections in other arenas, where development could be halted because of endangered species habitats. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service are streamlining their guidelines, addressing implementation issues that will supposedly “modernize” the ESA.

As innocuous as the “rule modernization” language seems, these changes will have serious impacts. Most shocking is that economic impacts for listing a species endangered or threatened can now be considered.

That said, climate change impacts cannot be factored into this equation: the rules will include the dubious standard “foreseeable future” when implementing protections. There are also the rule changes’ effects of making it more difficult to limit critical habitat protections and list endangered species.

If you follow Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) drilling debates, you know that caribou and polar bears face serious problems under 1002 Area drilling lease plans. The Arctic polar bear, for example, is listed as a threatened population already.

Say concerned polar bear lovers want to consider the melting sea ice as a reason to move the species to “endangered status.” New rules would have to consider the economic impact of this classification, as well as the fact that critical habitat impacts from sea ice losses cannot be considered since they are climate change-based impacts and need to employ the vague notion of a “foreseeable future.”

Meanwhile, states show strong initiative in challenging deregulation, one case at a time. State attorneys general step up to the animal protections plate against these changes, planning: “… to argue that the changes were arbitrary and ignored scientific evidence; that they failed to review environmental impacts and didn’t account for the public comments, as required by the law; and that they violated the text and purposes of the Endangered Species Act,” per Inside Climate News.

The complex, multilayered bureaucracies of state versus federal, and inter-federal agency and branch disputes over deregulation matters promise to get more complicated in the “foreseeable future.”

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New Hampshire’s North Woods provide rare relaxation

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The North Woods area of New Hampshire is such a distinctively relaxing American region. It reminded us of our travels through British Columbia.

At the Moose River RV Park in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont, locals told us to be extra careful driving on New Hampshire Highway 3. “Be very watchful of moose on the highway,” they said.

It’s starting to sound more and more like British Columbia! The countryside with the meadows and wetlands is ideal for moose yet the only animal we saw was a squirrel crossing the road. Hardly a cause for an accident!

We traveled NH 3 on a winding narrow road, climbing to the highland summit, then descending into stunning valleys among unspoiled foothill ranges within a wilderness setting of pale blue skies. We listened to the sound of flowing mountain streams, while viewing green fields and meadows with multi-colored wildflowers.

There is something unique and soothing about wetlands and mountain meadows; besides being an ideal home for moose with the rich eerie song of the loon echoing across a clear lake, there is the sound of mountain relaxation.

In and around villages and hamlets many summer homes were for sale, mostly lovely lakefront cottages. There are not many large towns in the North Woods, and a person must travel over an hour to reach a grocery outlet the likes of Walmart or Safeway. However, the many quaint shops, country stores and roadside farm markets provide all the necessities of living.

In Pittsburg. N.H., we found an old general store — Diane loves old country stores with squeaky doors, wooden floors and open beams. The building was showing its age from the many years of neglect from the weather. What we thought was notable was the “Ice Cream Shoppe” concealed in the back of the building. My goodness, we almost missed it, just a small rusty sign hanging from an open beam showed us the way.

A very polite young lady described the various flavors and there were many. It’s a warm August afternoon and we’re retired, so why not indulge with a double scoop? I just could not believe the size of the individual scoops — they were enormous. This must be the best ice cream shop in the North Woods.

For a couple bucks we enjoyed some of New Hampshire’s finest ice cream, not soft serve, but the real creamy, chocolatey kind. You’d be hard-pressed to find a similar buy in our coastal states. We love making these simple but rewarding discoveries.

We planned our regional stay at Lake Francis State Park, a large, open grass area with sizable camping sites, a modern playground, a small beach, plenty of room to fish and numerous hiking trails. It’s an ideal place to take children camping.

It was a beautifully clear day; the sky was blue and the sun bright, so we did what was natural and took a hike. After some discussion we decided on the river trail. The trail head was well marked and being a great trailblazer, I knew exactly which way to go!

It was a forest trail that worked out our old joints and muscles. We were made to climb hills, cross over logs, traverse rocks and duck under tree branches. It seemed like all our body parts were given a great cardiovascular exercise with all the bending, scrambling, balancing and climbing we encountered beside the river.

Along the way we met an anxious father looking for his young son, who took the family canoe and headed upriver to fish. He had been gone much too long and his parents were worried. Later he was found a little further up river testing his canoe skills against some whitewater rapids. In his paddling escapade and enjoyment of the challenge he had simply “just lost track of time.”

Further upstream we came across a woman painting the river scene on canvas. Around a bend we came across several trout fishermen.

Have you ever watched a skilled fly fisherman? The way they handle the rod and reel with such artistic and instinctive precision is captivation. With several beautiful rainbows in their basket these guys knew exactly what they were doing.

We continued our hike over a mile upstream and came upon two major whitewater areas where canoeing and kayaking would be exhilarating. Shortly thereafter the trail ran thin.

Do we cross the river and make our way to the River Road? Or do we cut across the swampy meadow and hit the snowmobile trail?

“No,” Diane says, “we go back the way we came, a safe and known trail!”

But, but what about my trailblazing skills?!

A few mornings later, we got an early start towards the Fortress of Quebec and the great walled city of Canada. But first, we drove into Pittsburg and filled the tank with gas. With a full tank, we could drive Beast into and out without a costly Canadian fill.

Leaving Lake Francis, NH 3 north passes at least three mountain lakes ending at the U.S.-Canada border. For some reason they named them Connecticut Lake No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. Personally, I believe they deserve better names, like High Meadow, Wilderness or some native name significant with the area. Someone lacked imagination.

The crest of the mountain is the U.S.-Canada border. The Canadian border officer was delighted to meet us. Passports are so vital today crossing the border whether it is with Canada or with Mexico. As we left the station and proceeded, a magnificent view unfolded as we began to descent into a splendid glade.

The valley was wide, open and gorgeous. Colorful wildflowers were everywhere. The farm lands extended beyond the horizon, and rows of green corn tassels, cut grass with fields of bailed hay, and livestock dotted the land. It was like driving into the Shire, the land of the Hobbits.

At the bottom of the clearing was a small quaint village with an open café on the corner. As we turned north the locals greeted us like we were somebody special. I was especially awestruck with the French ladies cheering, holding wine glasses high in the air and shouting “Bonjour.” It was Canada saying, “Welcome to Quebec.”

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Interesting notes from recent TPWD law enforcement reports

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The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department publishes some of its more interesting events compiled from TPWD law enforcement reports each month or so. These reports are usually good for a laugh and sometimes even provide a good lesson or two. As I noted in a previous article, usually those lessons contain good advice on what not to do, though.

I’ve summarized a couple of other particularly noteworthy events from notes released in the June and July 2019 field notes below. Interestingly enough, neither episode involves any social media mishaps or alcohol use, which makes them somewhat unique among noteworthy game warden encounters.

Nothing To Be Afraid Of

A Government Canyon State Park police officer responded to a 911 call from a person who was hiking in the park and had a frightening encounter with an animal. According the woman, an unknown animal had been following and growling at her, so she climbed a tree and called 911.

The police officer was able to get in touch with the woman on her cellphone and let her know that he was on his way. She responded that she thought that there was a wild hog nearby and she could hear it “growling” at her. The woman sent the officer her exact location with her phone and he found her a few minutes later in the tree that she and a male companion had taken refuge in.

After arriving on the scene and determining the two people were safe, the officer determined that the “growling” the man and woman heard was actually not a wild animal that was about to attack them at all. Instead, it turned out to be vehicles crossing rumble strips on a nearby road.

Wild hogs do indeed cause all sorts of problems and, while they’re not normally dangerous to humans, they do cause a few injuries to humans and their pets each year. So, it’s certainly plausible that a couple of hikers could have a frightening encounter with one in the woods.

However, it’s probably best to confirm that there is actually a hog threatening you before calling 911 and asking for help.

Peeling Back The Onion

A game warden in Nacogdoches County received a perplexing call from a local car dealership regarding some things they’d found in one of their loaner vehicles in early May. Apparently, the man who had been using the car had been arrested by local police for shoplifting.

The police impounded the vehicle and found a rifle, some deer hair, and the packaging for a spotlight in the trunk. There was also a bullet hole in the driver side mirror of the car.

The game warden interviewed the subject in an effort to learn more about what happened. When pressed, the man eventually admitted to poaching a deer. He also shed some light on what happened to the mirror of the car.

Apparently, the man was holding the spotlight while his girlfriend did the actual shooting from the driver’s seat of the car with a .22 caliber rifle. She inadvertently hit the side mirror with her first shot before correcting her aim and killing the deer with a subsequent shot.

As you can imagine, the legal situation went from bad to worse for those two individuals as law enforcement officers continued to investigate the situation more thoroughly after the initial arrest for shoplifting. That had to be an especially interesting turn of events for the people at the car dealership!

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4 unique American cities to explore for your next vacation

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Are you tired of the same old vacation plans to sit on the beach all day? Sometimes it’s more exciting to explore a new place and experience the local food and fun. But narrowing down which city to choose can be difficult.

With a country as expansive and culturally diverse as America, there are lots of intriguing cities to explore. Here are four cities full of unique landmarks and attractions for you to add to your travel bucket list.

San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the most popular vacation cities in America, and for good reason. It’s right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, and it is full of new sights to see.

Gaze out at the Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point. Snack on seafood and snap some photos of the cute sea lions at Fisherman’s Warf. Wind your way down Lombard Street and experience how crooked the San Francisco roads can be. And of course, take a ride in a cable car.

Eat your heart out at The Ferry Building. This iconic building is an architectural wonder, and it doubles as a market full of some of the best cuisine in San Francisco. Historically it was the primary port into the city, but in 2003 it reopened as a public food market.

If you’re feeling adventurous, take a boat ride out to Alcatraz. This historic island-bound prison is now a mesmerizing museum. San Fran has so many fascinating attractions and landmarks, you’ll never run out of things to do.

Chicago

If you’re used to spending your vacations on the coast, consider going up north for a change. Chicago is home to some pretty unique museums and experiences.

Snap a photo with the giant silver bean, Cloud Gate. Talk a walk along the beaches of Lake Michigan. Reach for the stars at the Adler Planetarium. Go on an architecture river cruise and learn about the cityscape from a Chicago Architecture Center guide.

Make sure you don’t step back on a plane before you’ve tried some Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Local favorites are Pizzeria Uno (the birthplace of original deep dish), Tano’s Pizzeria, and Pequod’s Pizza.

Take in some culture at the Chicago Art Institute, turn over a new page at the American Writer’s Museum, or take a walk through history at The Field Museum. If you’re looking for something a little bit quirkier, try the International Museum of Surgical Science or the Video Game Art Gallery. There’s always something new to learn in Chicago.

Austin, Texas

How can anyone resist visiting a city with a motto like “Keep Austin Weird?” Austin, Texas, is known for its thriving live music scene, but there are so many more things to discover there.

Get in touch with nature by kayaking on Lady Bird Lake or visiting the Zilker Botanical Garden. Set off on a creepy ghost tour in an actual hearse. If you like history, check out the Texas State Capitol or the beautiful Driskill Hotel from the 1880s.

You won’t want to miss out on authentic Tex-Mex food while you’re in town. Satisfy your cravings at Torchy’s Tacos, Juan in a Million, or La Condensa.

Find a perfect souvenir at one of the many eclectic shops on South Congress Avenue. When you’ve finished shopping around, head to Congress Bridge at sunset to watch a huge colony of bats take flight every evening.

For more details on how to spend a perfect weekend in Austin, check out this article.

Philadelphia

If you’ve never experienced the City of Brotherly “ove, add it to your list! Philadelphia is the birthplace of America, drenched in history. And it also has some pretty delicious cheesesteaks. Here are some of the spots you won’t want to miss in Philly.

For a peek into America’s past, stop by Independence Hall. The Declaration of Independence was signed there, the Constitution was created there, and it is home to the Liberty Bell.

Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and pose for a photo running on the “Rocky Stairs”). Check out the iconic LOVE statue. Stroll along the piers of the Delaware River. Marvel at the mosaics in Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

For the best possible Philly cheesesteak experience, try Pat’s King of Steaks, Geno’s Steaks, or John’s Roast Pork.

Ready, Set, Explore

Now that you have plenty of vacation inspiration from coast to coast, you can get started on planning your next trip. The only question is, where will your adventures take you?

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The 127 Yard Sale: 690 miles of roadside shopping

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The 127 Yard Sale is commonly known as “The World’s Longest Yard Sale.” It is a serial shopper’s dream come true, snaking each August for 690 miles through six states: Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.

The majority of the route follows U.S. Highway 127 from Addison, Michigan, south to Chattanooga, Tennessee, switching there to trace a route along the scenic Lookout Mountain Parkway to Gadsden, Alabama.

The big sale officially begins on the first Thursday in August and continues through the following Sunday, attracting hundreds of thousands of vendors and shoppers from around the country — and the world.

“It is a mutual exchange of cultures with a common goal: to look, buy and sell,” says Alabama photographer Dennis Keim, who’s documented the event for years. “As you drive the country roads, you’ll hear a collection of dialects and incredible stories related to the individuals and the items they sell,” adds Keim, “and you’ll see a plethora of items that only your grandmother could love. It is Americana at its best.”

The event has become a magnet for antique and collectibles vendors and buyers who gather from all over the nation for this once a year marketing extravaganza.

Image: 127YardSale.com

It all began in 1987, when Mike Walker, a former executive with Fentress County Chamber of Commerce in Jamestown, Tennessee, planned the event to encourage travelers to bypass interstate highways in favor of scenic routes through rural communities, allowing them to discover the life of small-town America. The annual event soon spread to Kentucky and then Ohio, eventually extending to its present route bisecting almost the entirety of mid-America.

“For the most part, the route still goes through rural areas,” says Josh Randall, spokesman for the 127 Yard Sale. “There are a few cities like Cincinnati and Chattanooga, but the vast majority of the route is what you’d consider countryside. It’s enormous. It’s a little weird. It’s the Great Wall of Made in China, and it’s OBO Americana on full display.”

www.127yardsale.com, 931-879-9948

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Internet options for full-time RVers

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In today’s world, having internet access is an absolute must for most people. This is even the case for many of us on the road. A couple of the biggest fears in today’s world of technology are having the internet go out or it not being available.

There isn’t a perfect solution for everyone who’s on the road full-time and needs internet access, but there are multiple options for everyone. In this article, we will look at what those options are.

Why do you need internet?

Work: When it comes to making money, having access to fast and reliable internet is important.

Entertainment: While you don’t necessarily need internet for entertainment on the road, it ranks high on the scale of needs for teens’ and parents’ sanity.

Social networking: Many nomads have family back home and having access to social media is very important.

Information: Browsing the internet to gain knowledge, research destinations, campgrounds, and read RV reviews are all good reasons to want internet access. What if you are on the road, a storm hits and your windshield wiper breaks? You will be happy to have access to the internet to find the closest auto parts store.

School: Many families homeschool their children and some adults choose to continue their education online. Many colleges now offer strictly online education, so you will need internet to accomplish this goal if you’re a full-timer.

Banking: Almost all banking can be done online now. With one app, you have banking at your fingertips. I was recently in Michigan visiting friends and I got a call that I had two checks arrive in the mail.

I had the checks forwarded to my friend’s address. Upon arrival, I was able to sign the checks, scan them with my phone and within 24 hours the money was in my bank account.

Marketing: Marketing falls under work to a degree because it is about making money. One needs internet to market themselves or their product.

Internet options

Cellphones: Cellphones are great for checking email, social media, banking, information, marketing and entertainment. Schooling would be difficult to do using only your cellphone, though.

Today, many companies offer family plans and unlimited data. Some companies offer Wi-Fi hot spots, also known as tethering. While this is included in some plans it can drain your battery quickly.

To learn more about using your cellphone as a mobile hotspot, click here. My company does offer tethering but at an additional cost. So, make sure you check with your provider before going down this path.

Campground Wi-Fi: Occasionally this is free, and occasionally you have to pay. But it’s mostly shoddy at best.

It is usually only accessible in certain areas like the lodge or recreation area. Strength, cost and reliability varies per campground. While it is doable, it is not the smart choice.

GM/OnStar: GM, in conjunction with OnStar, offers an unlimited data plan using a three-watt antenna on your vehicle. Ford is now following GM’s lead in 2017 and started offering Sync Connect on eight different models. Other vehicle manufacturers are likely to follow this new trend.

Verizon Jetpack: The Verizon jetpack offers a variety of internet devices to choose from. Click here to see what is available.

Library: Most towns have libraries while you may need to go inside you can sometimes use the Wi-Fi from the parking lot. Accessing Wi-Fi from the parking lot is handy when it is after hours, but make sure there are no loitering signs. The good thing about libraries is if you do not have your own laptop, you can get a guess pass and use their computers.

McDonald’s/Starbucks: Nowadays, many restaurants and fast food joints offer free Wi-Fi. The downside to that is everyone uses it and it is slow. I frequently grab a drink and lunch and access the internet at my local mall while my grandson plays in the playground at a McDonald’s.

While I am killing two birds with one stone, he gets to play, and I get to work. The downside is the connection is slow and there are a lot of distractions. Nonetheless, it is free.

Cable companies/satellite: Many companies offer their home-based customers access to Wi-Fi hotspots, free of charge, across the country.

Net Buddy: Net Buddy is a smart choice for those who travel. William Prowse has detailed information about what Net Buddy is, how to install it and where to buy it.

Conclusion

If upgrading to a new connected car is in your budget, then it is worth considering. Most cellular companies offer tethering at a cost and some even have it included in their plans already.

As time advances so does technology; prices will decrease, and speed will increase. The smartest thing to do is do your research and find what fits your needs.

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