Feb 082014

There is a saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That applies to the RV lifestyle as much as anything else. Way back in September, 2009 I wrote a blog titled A Few Of My Favorite Things in the RV lifestyle, from my favorite truck stop to my favorite campground, to name just a few, and why they rate so high with me. I came across that old blog and decided to dust it off and see how many have changed in the last four plus years.

Favorite Truck Stop – Back in 2009 I said that I love the Iowa 80 Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa. Billed as the “World’s Largest Truck Stop,” this place is so big that they have two or three semi tractors on display inside the showroom, along with every kind of gadget and goodie a trucker (or an RV driver) could ever want or need. Not to mention a 300 seat restaurant with a 50 foot salad bar, a movie theater, game room, barbershop, dentist office, garage, big rig wash, CAT scales, a Wendy’s and a Dairy Queen! What’s not to love? That still applies today. We’ve spent the night at Iowa 80 a couple of times and we stop there for fuel and food whenever we’re passing through the Hawkeye State.

Favorite Campground – Elkhart Campground in Elkhart, Indiana has always been our favorite campground. Located in the RV Capital of the World, you can find anything and everything related to RVing in the surrounding area. Over the years owners Bob and Gita Patel and their two sons have become part of our extended family and we have watched them grow up into fine young men as their parents have continued to expand the campground and make improvements.

Favorite Escapees Park – No changed here either, it’s Raccoon Valley in Heiskell, Tennessee. We love the surrounding area, the friendly people, and the twice weekly jam sessions by local bluegrass musicians. The campground is the perfect base from which to attend the annual Fall Homecoming at the nearby Museum of Appalachia.

Favorite Corps of Engineers Campground – As I said back in 2009, we have never stayed at a COE campground that we didn’t like, but my very favorite has to be Toad Suck Park, near Conway, Arkansas. The name alone makes it a winner, but our huge RV site with 50 amp electric and water, located right on the bank of the Arkansas River, was wonderful. We loved sitting and watching the riverboats pushing barges through the locks at the dam adjacent to the campground.

Favorite Snowbird Roost – This one has changed for us. In 2009 it was the area around Rockport and Aransas Pass, Texas, on the Gulf Coast. It’s affordable, slow paced, the people are friendly, the seafood is plentiful and cheap, and if you enjoy fishing and kayaking, you’ll be in heaven. All that is still true, however since then we have become enamored with Titusville, Florida, near Cape Canaveral. The old downtown area is charming, plus we enjoy exploring the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and watching the surf roll in on Playalinda Beach, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.

Favorite Route – There are many that we have loved traveling, from historic Route 66 across the country, to U.S. Highway 2 across Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, but the very best has been U.S. Highway 101 along the Oregon coast. There are breathtaking vistas around almost every bend in the road. We traveled part of U.S. 101 again last summer, and in spite of bad weather that forced us to cut our trip short, it is still our favorite route.

Favorite Big City – Back in 2009 I said I was torn between Boston and Washington, D.C., but if I had to choose, it would be Washington for all of the museums, monuments, and famous buildings. That was before I discovered Savannah, Georgia. I’m not a city person, but I could happily live in Savannah. You can just feel the history all around you as you walk under the magnificent live oak trees that shade Savannah’s beautiful squares, admire the stunning architecture of the old homes, or explore the historic waterfront.

Favorite Museum – We’ve been to many wonderful museums in our time on the road, and even more since I originally posted this list, but my favorite of them all still remains the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., where so many of our nation’s historic documents and artifacts on display.

Favorite Free Overnight Parking Spot – This one hasn’t changed either. We never miss the chance to stop at the Cabela’s Outfitters store just off Interstate 90 in Mitchell, South Dakota. They have a dedicated parking lot for RVs, complete with a dump station, and it is within walking distance to a restaurant, Super Wal-Mart, and a Menard’s Home Improvement store.

Favorite Fast Food Restaurant – How could I not end this blog with at least one place to eat? We think the Cheddar Butterburger at Culver’s Restaurants can’t be beat. Whenever we have been in an area where there is no Culver’s, we stop at the first one we see when we enter their market area. We loved it back in 2009 and we still do.

So that’s my list, and as I said, a lot of things have stayed the same. I’m curious, how does my list compare with yours?

We’re up to over 160 entries in this week’s Free Drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake, my first novel and the first book in my Big Lake mystery series, which made the New York Times Kindle Bestseller list in December, 2011. All you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Big Lake audio book cover

Thought For The Day – I will never be over the hill. I’m too darned tired to climb it.

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Nick Russell

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  13 Responses to “A Few Of My Favorite Things Revisited”

  1. You know Nick there are a couple of Culvers in AZ. One is located at the exit for the Race Track off of I-10 in Phoenix. Very easy access and owner is one of the most real pepole you will ever meet.

  2. John,
    We have not been there, but we’ve been to the one in Tucson and one in Casa Grande.

  3. I grew up in the shadow of New York City, so Savannah never seems to me to be a “big city” but it is a favorite. The history and architecture is interesting, great restaurants, and only 7 miles off I-95. We stop there often on our East Coast treks. Another favorite “little city” is Nashville. While it has its reputation as the country music capital, because so many people pass through there, it is quite cosmopolitan.

    Nick, I’d like to hear more about your favorite drives. Anything that keeps us off the interstate and shows us more of the country is good. We once met a London cabbie in Tombstone, Arizona that vacationed in the United States each year. He and is wife drove all over the country and never used the interstates. He said it was more interesting that way.

    Regards, Mike

  4. Nick, there is a brand new Culvers in Prescott Valley, AZ. Located on SR 69, southeast of the Home Depot.

  5. Our favorite boondock spot – the Summit BLM land between Cheyenne and Laramie, WY – you can watch the elk amble by and there is not another person for miles.

    Our favorite Escapee’s Park – Hondo, TX where we have a lot, though we enjoy Summerdale, AL and Raccoon Valley too!

    Winter Spot – this year we spent Dec in Yuma, and boy, it is hard to beat that weather…

    Favorite Route: Natchez Trace hands down. We absolutely love that 455 miles of pure scenery!

    Favorite COE: John Kerr on the border of VA and NC…huge sites, beautiful lake, quiet and peaceful!

    Favorite campground – Artillery Ridge in Gettysburg – clean, spacious, close to all the historic sites.

    Favorite fast food – Taco Johns but we can only find them in certain states – their corporate headquarters is in Cheyenne, WY.

  6. Don’t forget the frozen custard at Culvers………..welcome to delicious…..as their motto says!!

  7. Favorite SKP park, Park of the Sierras in Coarsegold, CA

  8. We spent a few months in easily 2002 working at the KOA in Titusville. We only had to work two shifts a week each, on the same days, so we plenty of time off to amble around there. We learned how to catch shrimp off the bridge. So fun! Tasty too. If you get a chance to go to Fernandina Beach, the campground at Fort Clinch looked nice.

  9. If someone were to ask,my favorite site to visit every day would be yours Nick.

  10. Favorite COE – Ives Run in Tioga, PA. HUGE sites with FHU’s. Almost impossible to get in there during weekends, booked far ahead.

    A thing not mentioned – favorite convenience store. WAWA, hands down. They are found in VA, DE, MD, PA, NJ. A few in Florida. First thing we do when back in the northeast, is find a WAWA.

  11. Any suggestions on where to stay with 2 dogs and a 30 foot class A with slides to see Kennedy Space Center? Thanks!

  12. Lucy,
    Try Manatee Hammock, it’s a Brevard County Park right on the water on U.S. Highway 1 on the south side of Titusville.

  13. I noticed Marvin Tye has posted here. Can you contact him for me and give him my email address? Thank you.

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