Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Getting to Key West

We figured we could squeeze in a short trip to Key West during this year's visit to Florida.  We left Virginia Beach the first week of November and are scheduled to return the middle of December.

We made it to the Sun City area for a one night stay at Manatee River State Park.  We called ahead and asked if they had any "Walk Up" sites and they said a couple were available so we took our chances and snagged a good one.

We like to try out as many Florida State Parks as we can since they are the best we've seen in our travels.  Like others, it had a laundry and full hook ups.  So we were able to get a lot done even for an overnite stay.
Despite a very busy schedule cousin Kevin and I were able to get together for a bit later that evening.  That was fun!
The next day we made our way south past Miccosukee Casino and on toward Homestead and the Keys.  We stopped for diesel and almost had an "oops!".
 Instead we took it slowly and agreed -- this is a No Go.  We had to unhook, back up the Roadrunner and pull into the other pump.  The fueling truck directly in front was finished by the time we unhooked and we were able to fuel up, hook up and continue on our way.  Disaster avoided.
 Next we were onto Highway 1 and headed on to Key Largo for the night and a stay at John Pennekamp State Park.  Another gem for an overnight stay.

The highlight of our time in Key Largo was meeting up with Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanner friends Tim and Cindy.
Last time we saw them was in August in Sheridan, Wyoming where they were participating in a build.  It was fun seeing them.  Their 'kids' - grown children were due to arrive the next day for the long weekend.

Wednesday we moved on down the road to Key West.
One of the great drives in America in my book is the 45 MPH drive over the 42 bridges from Florida City/ Homestead to Key West.  I love that drive!
 Eventually we come alongside of the famous Flager Overseas Railroad remains.  Henry Flagler financed the building of the railroad starting in 1905 and completed in 1912.  It was the first railroad to Key West and operated for 23 years until the hurricane of 1935.  Most was destroyed and never rebuilt.  Instead, the overland highway 'replaced' it in 1938.
 It was 100 miles and about two hours from Key Largo to Key West.  Our campground at Sigsbee Navy Station was just of Mile Marker 3.
 The campground caters to hundreds of campers with 90 full hook up sites and 310 'overflow' dry camping sites.  We spent two nights at this spot in dry camping.  Pretty great views and a lovely way to enjoy Thanksgiving Day.
We were going to got out for a Thanksgiving Day dinner at the local VFW, but I caught a bug of some sort and was out of commission most of the day.  We had a back up and enjoyed our turkey TV dinners and a quiet day of football.

Two days later we moved to a full hook up site.
It was a great start to a few days in Key West!

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving! 2016!

Hope everyone is doing well and able to have an enjoyable Thanksgiving today!  Pam and I have much to be thankful for today and we are grateful to you that you take the time to check in and see what we are doing.

This is our 7th Thanksgiving on the road and we enjoy the freedom this lifestyle gives us.  We love being able to see friends and family along the way and see some amazing places in this great country of ours.

Like I said - Thanks from the Roadrunner Chronicles~

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hiking the Georgia Trails

We actually went  hiking on two trails and they were both not far from our campsite at Red Top State Park about 40 minutes north of Atlanta.  After a pretty busy day of trying to see the sites in the hustle and bustle of Atlanta the previous day, we decided to back off and take a hike.  It turned out to be an excellent choice.

Our campground may be typical for Georgia and if so, we are impressed.  We had quite a few trails to choose from and we picked the one nearest our campsite and joined up with another one.
We started on the Campground Trail taking us over to the Visitor Center and then joined up with the Sweet Gum Trail.
 The trails had enough ups and downs to get our heart rate up at times.
 But mostly it was a chance to get out there and enjoy the woods and take in the fresh air.  It was great day.  We love to do it and wonder why we don't get out there more often...

Here's a look at the 3.22 mile route we walked on my MapMyRide app:

I'm sure we'll be doing more hikes as we enjoy the weather down South here for the next few weeks!

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Monday, November 14, 2016

More on our Day in Atlanta

Seeing the Georgia State Capitol, we found the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.  We were glad it was open.  The ground and parking lot gave the notion of it being an important place.  It was well groomed and flags were flying.
 It reminded me a little bit of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum we visited in 2014.
We were greeted at the door with the news that entry for veterans on Veterans Day was free!
 That was a nice gesture!

We saw the orientation film that was excellent.  One thing it described was how he was affected by corruption in a state election.  He lost and the next time he ran one of his by lines was, "I will never lie to you."
I would say among his most significant accomplishments during his presidency was winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his tenacious and wise work with Egypt and Israel and reaching the Camp David Peace Accords.
 Then the tour of the museum took us through a number of hallways and displays.  A lot of it was about his early life from Plains to his time at the U.S. Naval Academy.
 The Iranian hostage crisis happened during his tenure and they were released after 444 days.  The Iranians finally let them go about the same time as Jimmy Carter was leaving office when President Reagan was being swore in.

The museum housed the presidential library and archives.  We could see rows and rows of filing boxes.  It contains 27 million pages of documents, 500,000 photos and another 40,000 objects (videos, audiotapes and films.)

We liked our tour and thought it was very well done.  It is worth the visit.

Next, we found the Atlanta Underground.  We weren't really sure what that was about but wanted to stop and see it.  The parking was free and we wandered around a little while.  It was a lot of shops and not much was going on.  We might not have been in the right entry way?  Or there might be a better vantage to see it.  We did not stay long and headed over the downtown area in search of the Coca-Cola Museum.

The World of Coca-Cola multi-media center outgrew its first location near Atlanta Underground and we went over to the larger site near the Olympic Park.

We actually walked through the Olympic Park to get to the World of Coca-Cola.
This was an interesting display commemorating the athletes.
They had a number of weekend events ongoing.  It is a place where events are staged and locals have a chance to bring a group for some kickball.  We saw a game in progress.
The World of Coca-Cola was across the street.
We were met with a statue of John Pemberton who was the inventor of Coca-Cola.  He had a saber wound from hostilities during the Civil War and began a life-long addiction to morphine.  He died of cancer in 1888.
As a trained pharmacist, he began experimenting with ingredients until he stumbled upon a concoction that he accidentally mixed with carbonation to get the "secret mix".
The lines were long because they had a power outage and weren't selling any new tickets.  Oops.
We looked around and went to the gift store instead.  More long lines.  But that was OK.  We didn't see anything we couldn't do without...
We saw this display of the polar bear which I remember from a couple of Christmases ago.  I thought this is a new twist and why did Coca-Cola decide to make and advertising campaign around a polar bear.
As the sign says, it was started in the 1920's and then re-introduced in 1993.  So it has been around a long time.
And there are all kinds of gifts to grab to fit any budget...
Outside and across the street, we made our way back through the Olympic Park grounds
Some very well done tributes to people who train for years and years in order to make it to the Olympics and some are lucky enough to get a medal.  And have their name engraved on these monuments.
It turned out to be a real busy day for us in Atlanta but we got to see a lot of different things.  And determine which other things we want to see next time.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Atlanta in a Day

We have not spent a lot of time in Atlanta over the years.  In fact the more we talked about going there, we were cautioned about how tough the traffic is going through the area.  Nevertheless, we wanted to see the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library/Museum and the Georgia State Capitol.

When we began planning our five week fall trip to Florida we had to consider a few things in order to make the most of our time there:  We wanted to
  • Go to a few places we hadn't seen rather than concentrate on old favorites,
  • See as many friends as possible depending on how our schedules lined up,
  • Visit as many historical sites and capitols as we could squeeze in, 
  • Get more repairs done in Red Bay,
  • Stay at modestly priced locations,
  • Relax a bit instead of being on the go every other day
With some of those thoughts in mind, we considered Atlanta and all it has to offer.  We weren't kidding ourselves though, and knew that you can't see Atlanta in a day.  Maybe a week if you hit the high points.  But still it has a lot going on and we actually thought we'd devote a couple of days to seeing what we could.

Our first challenge was finding a decent location to see the city.  We were hoping for some RV campgrounds to choose from on the southern side of Atlanta.  There were precious few choices.

We tried to find a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer park that had been recommended but that didn't work out either.  We located and called Red Top State Park which is about 40 minutes north of the city.  Not ideal, but still doable.

Next, we had to pick two or three things to do each day.  We have found if we cram in more than three or four things it becomes 'overload' and we can't learn all we want and digest it all.  We drove from Columbia S.C. through Atlanta (taking the northern I-285 beltway around the city) to Red Top State Park.

Yikes!  Everyone was right - the traffic is tough !!  Lots of crazy semi-aggressive drivers and not a lot of fun at 1:30 PM in the afternoon.  
Still we made it to our very nice site without incident.

Then for Friday we picked out seeing the State Capitol and the Carter Presidential Library.  Depending on how that went maybe we'd see something else downtown.  The next day we planned on seeing Olympic Park, Turner Stadium, the Underground and the Coca-Cola Museum.

But-- we ran into some issues and didn't get to see all of the capitol.  We forgot Veteran's Day was on Friday so none of the government or state offices were open.  But we went ahead anyway and went downtown.  Holidays are the perfect time to find a parking place and walk around the outside of the capitol!

Georgia State Capitol
We saw a few things and were struck at the size of the building.  It is quite a bit bigger than the last capital we saw.
 We peeked in the doors and sure enough - no one there.
We walked around the northwest corner of building and found a statue of Confederate General John B. Gordon.  He was one of Robert E. Lee's most trusted generals.  
After the war served as governor and later as U.S. Senator from Georgia.  Fort Gordon, outside of Augusta, is named after him.

 Outside there are a number of displays describing Georgia historical events surrounding Atlanta.
 These were erected in 1920 by the Daughters of the Confederacy.

 Near those is a statue of our 39th president, Jimmy Carter.
 As we made our way around the building we noticed some maintenance going on in the back.
Three vehicles were parked on the extra wide sidewalk and they had one of the back doors open and were carrying items back and forth.  While that was going on Pam looked across the street and said, "There's the Liberty Bell!"
Sure enough, on the southeast corner of the capitol is the Liberty Plaza.  It is in a place of honor and a great location for public rallies and other outdoor events.
The names of the three signers of the Declaration of Independence were on the back side of the Liberty Wall.
The Liberty Bell replica was on full display and in a prominent place.
It is probably the best display we have seen of the Liberty Bell replica in our travels to date.  The whole area was very well done.

This photo I grabbed off the internet gives a better perspective of Liberty Plaza and its proximity to the capitol building.

From there, we went over the the Jimmy Carter Museum and Presidential Library.  I will save that and some other things we saw in Atlanta for (an)other post(s).

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!