32 Tips for an Amazing National Park Experience!

When’s the last time you visited a National Park?

Did you know there’s 60 of National Parks; at least one in every state? That’s ‘just’ the National Parks since 1916! There’s also countless National Monuments, Historic Landmarks, Battlefields, Military Parks, Seashores, Lakes and Rivers. They’ve grown to epic numbers of visitors. It’s fairly inexpensive, fun and a great way to get in touch with nature and the wild. At the same time, it’s a great way to learn about our Country’s history, geography and geology. Are you ready for your amazing experience?

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The Part of RV Life No One Talks About

We had no idea when we set out on our course to live in an RV that our  marriage was bound to change. The whole dynamics thing…the closeness (as in space around us), intimacy and dealing with unspoken emotion. What ‘used to be’ is now ‘no longer’. We have become….oh, dare I say….’different’, more pliable and resilient. Even to go as far as saying more than when we were as an Active Duty Military Family for the few decades past.

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RV Maintenance Tip #2 – Air Conditioning Vents and Filters

If you think you can just buy an RV or camper and just go on your way, we hate to tell you that you’re wrong.  These manufactured boxes on wheels need continuous maintenance to last you a long time.  We have this arrangement that Dan would take care of all exterior maintenance and I would take care of interior the best we could.

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My Old Kentucky Home – Liberty Crew Revisits Their Homeport




Most who have been following our journey know our story from the beginning; where our road to freedom started…the Bluegrass State; Kentucky.  We truly loved our home and our hometown.  It was our Mayberry.  We forged amazing friendships and community presence that was really difficult to watch get smaller in our rear view mirrors back in 2014 when we pulled out.  However, we made a promise to our friends that we’d come back to visit.


After a tumultuous March and April this year (2017) of losing Dan’s Dad enroute to San Antonio and dealing with medical care at U.S. Army Fort Sam Houston, we were eager to get back on the road to recovery by going back to our old Kentucky home to see some familiar faces.  

Once we hauled out of Texas, we stopped for a few days near Little Rock, Arkansas for a little rejuvenating reprieve to gather our thoughts and get some much needed rest.  We then excitedly high-tailed it to Taylorsville, Kentucky or known-to-us as ‘Tatersville’, a term of endearment, when we lived there.  


When we arrived in our former hometown, we could literally feel everything negative leave our souls; familiar faces, American flags and banners lining the streets, smelling Dave’s coffee and warm fresh made pastries outside the Tea Cup on Main and driving by Spencer County High School at graduation time.  You see, Taylorsville is the epitome of ‘small town America’; which is why we bought into this little piece of rural hometown-heaven back in 2007 when we PCS’d from Maine to Kentucky for Dan’s last Coast Guard tour of duty.  Taylorsville is like that warm flannel shirt that we felt so comfortable in.  


By the way, just a little notoriety of our little hometown is it’s also country music singer, JD Shelburne‘s hometown as well.  Here in this video (I surely hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it!) is his rendition and love for the same town we endeared…called Hometown’ which was filmed in tiny Taylorsville.



Upon arriving, we made contact with our friends to reconnect. Our calendar filled up quickly with Kentucky Derby parties with Suzanne and Van, Kim and Jim, Roger and Debby, pool time with Cindy and Don, lunches and dinners with friends, taking Krissie and Kandi to see Dr. Shelley at Elk Creek Animal Hospital for their immunizations and well-kitty checkups, catching up on some maintenance and small repairs on Liberty, and Dan driving home to see his Mom in Pennsylvania for a few days to help her ready her home for Spring.  It was just what the doctor ordered.

Suzanne and I grabbing in a selfie at her and Van’s Kentucky Derby Party
Watching the Kentucky Derby winners at Derby Party

One of my best friends, Kim and I took in a few lunches

Between getting together with friends and other commitments, we still made time to go exploring and visit places we’ve somehow missed during our seven years of living there.  


One of our favorite things to do while in Kentucky is touring the Bourbon Distilleries on the Bourbon Trail.  This time around, we’ve toured Woodford Reserve near Lexington, Kentucky.  If any of you are familiar with the locale of this particular distillery, you’d understand our quest for wanting to go there.  The drive is absolutely amazing; seeing all the beautifully manicured thoroughbred horse farms and ranches with black fences lining the roadway in the spring when everything is in bloom.


 

We also stopped in Frankfort (Kentucky State Capitol) for a bite to eat and walk old Main Street.  



We parked on the street and walked across the Kentucky River Bridge aka The Singing Bridge’.  We noticed something quite peculiar we’ve never seen before.
  



There were several padlocks on the chain link fencing.  Some had initials with dates on them and others had lovers names inscribed.  We took some photos because we found it odd.  We enjoy seeing odd things.


Oh, and about those locks, we learned that padlocks or ‘love locks’ are locked on the bridges by sweethearts symbolizing their unbreakable love for each other; throwing the keys down in the river below.  As shown above, they inscribe their initials and date for memoir.  However, this proliferation has massed across the nation and even internationally.  Some municipalities though, consider them vandalism or litter while others embrace them as a tourist attraction.  On this bridge, there weren’t very many.


It wasn’t a long walk to Main Street; we couldn’t help noticing that Frankfort has really cleaned up and revitalized this section of town.  There were cafes and small stores that lined the street in the old early 20th century buildings and newer modern structures.  



As with most any city or town, Frankfort bestowed banners of their notoriety and infamy.  Each banner on the street depicted a Frankfort, Kentucky person of notoriety.  There was Johnny Depp (Actor), General Blanton (Bourbon Distiller) and quite an array of others. 




We walked the old state house grounds which was impeccably manicured.  We read some historical markers while enjoying the warm sunshine stroll in the park.

Old former Kentucky State House

 

Looking at our watches and feeling parched and hungry, we found a ‘country-hip’ little cafe/bakery that totally took us by surprise.  We went in to just get a canoli or two but then we noticed they served lunch as well.  So, we ordered a couple Paninis and enjoyed our little window table looking out onto the street as we ate.  After we finished, we chatted with the owner and told her we adored her bakery.  You can read more about our wonderful dining experience at B’s Bakery in a prior blog.


B’s Bakery on Main Street in Frankfort, Kentucky

After our quiet lunch at B’s, we made our way back to our home on wheels that was parked in Taylorsville.

It seemed that time slipped by so fast and before we could catch our breaths, it was Mother’s Day already.  Since we weren’t around family, we decided to just enjoy the beautiful day riding the farm roads and have lunch down at Taylorsville Lake Marina.  The weather was outstanding as you can see.




Another weekend, we took part in a local fundraiser ‘A Ruff Day at the Fairgrounds’ to help finance a new Spencer County Animal Shelter.   There was an awesome K-9 display and demonstration from the local Taylorsville Police Department, Spencer County Sheriff and local neighboring towns.   


We even made a donation of a cat play tunnel for their silent auction.  Hey, we helped make them $30 as well as supported their fundraising efforts by enjoying their food vending, shopping at their yard sale and window shopping at various local craft vendor tents.  Later that day, we stood and listened to the local band which Kandi and Krissie’s Veterinarian, Doc Shelley sang and played various instruments with the local Judge Angus Band.  It truly felt like we were home again.


In our last weeks, we were reminded of that our nomadic lifestyle must resume.  We met up with other RV friends who popped into town for some much needed RV repairs, Tim and Emily from OwnLessDoMore and More Than a Wheelin’ Bryce and Camille whom we met this past January at Quartzsite, Arizona.
More than a Wheelin’ Bryce and Camille
 Finally, one last must-do before hitching up Liberty and rolling down the road was something we’ve wanted to do before leaving Kentucky in 2014.  We drove to the next town over to this big outdoor chalkboard in Bloomfield, Kentucky to write our ‘Before I die…’ wishes… 

…we wrote a few that spoke to our nomadic souls; find inner peace, RV to Alaska, hike the Grand Canyon and most importantly, see our first grandchild due in November.  It seemed so fitting to make this our final chapter before leaving Kentucky this round.  It made us feel complete after returning to our homeport.