Destin, Florida: A Vacation from our Vacation

We are reaching the home stretch, the end of our epic road trip. In this last installment, the idea is to take a vacation from our vacation and do something totally different. We are just going to relax in the white sand and warm waters of the Emerald Coast in Destin, Florida. This is located in the Florida panhandle, on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Click image below for video

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We are splurging in one of the most expensive and coveted RV Parks in the United States, Camp Gulf, in Destin, Florida. Our two nights here will be a grand total of $445 for a beachfront site. Is it worth it? You can be the judge of that but I thoroughly enjoyed waking up a stone throw away from the water. Our time here is spent as follows: beach, beer, seafood, repeat.

Well there’s a little more than that, and we did certain things line eating a freshly made Krispy Kreme, which didn’t make it to the video. Why it didn’t? Well I had my hands full of Krispy Kreme glaze goodness and didn’t want to touch my phone.

As we begin our return trip to South Florida, we cruise along, hugging the coast all the way to Panama City. I the video you get treated to a mesmerizing time lapse as we pass by all the Gulf Coast communities. Eventually we get on the interstate and after a long, long drive we make it to the 305, the local pseudonym for Miami.

Winnebago Micro Minnie 1706FB After Two Years

It is once again that time of the year in which we celebrate our second RVing anniversary, and Minitini the Trailer’s second birthday, belated this time. We signed on the dotted line on August 30th, 2014 and barely a week later in September 5th 2014 we took delivery. Owning this small travel trailer has literally changed our lives. We have discovered so many new places around South Florida and the rest of the State, and the rest of the USA. It has also brought us a step closer to the nomadic lifestyle we want to have in the not so distant future.

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I order to accommodate our needs I have made several upgrades over the past two years. I am going to enumerate the most important ones.

 Although we don’t really watch TV all that much, it is good to have ir just in case. We have found decent TV reception virtually everywhere, except for, oddly enough, Marathon, Florida.

  • Oxygenic shower and dispenser

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F5MU5YY/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FGCW0K/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

OK, these are two in one but they serve the same purpose: having a nicer shower. If only the water heater would cooperate. The Oxygenic shower provides great water pressure, and the dispenser makes our shower gel, conditioner, and shampoo readily available

  • Power inverters

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004MDXS0U/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ATXEPQI/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ATXERNO/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I know I should have spent the money and bought a good pure sine wave inverter and hardwire it to the electrical system. Instead I have bought a couple of smaller inverters and wired them across the camper and they are great to charge our phone, computer, and camera batteries when off the grid

  • Fantastic Vent

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HQZASRW/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This one has been a life changer. Before having this the RV was way too hot even for a pit stop along the road. We have used it while boondocking and it keeps the camper fresh and cool at night.

  • Solar Panels

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BFCNFRM/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It is great to have peace of mind knowing your battery will remain charged using the power of the sun. It has proven indispensable for boondocking more than one night.

  • Knife rack

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EDUUFS/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This one isn’t earth shattering, but it frees up space in the drawers for other stuff

There are many other little things we have done to make our lives easier, such as a mirror on the bathroom door, and a small rack and hooks to hang clothes.

We have many upgrades planned for the future, and this year I intend to make a few of them.

  • Hardwired 3000W pure sine wave inverter
  • 5 gallon or more water heater to replace the on demand one we have now
  • Battery upgrade when our current one dies
  • Dinette replacement for an office style desk

Do you have any upgrade suggestions? We look forward to your comments.

Memphis, Tennessee: Elvis is Alive!

It is running of fumes that we arrive at Memphis, Tennessee; and I’m not talking about old Kia. It is us. It has been an intense whirlwind road trip for almost two weeks now, and we are really ready for a break that won’t come for another two days. I, however, am ecstatic to be staying here right next to the west bank of the Mississippi. I have always been fascinated by this river mainly because of Mark Twain’s stories. I can almost imagine Jim and Huck’s raft coming downstream.

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We ignore our fatigue and decide to explore downtown a little bit. We walk along the bank of the river enjoying a spectacular sunset. Then we walk towards historic Beale Street, which is lined up with bars, most of them featuring live music. It is a real shame we are not really in the mood for partying.

On the next day we go to the main tourist attraction in this town: Graceland. This was Elvis Presley’s home all the way from the 1950’s until the time of his death in 1977. Some of the rooms were redecorated for the tour, reflecting different eras in the life of the King of Rock and Roll. There’s also a whole building dedicated to the many awards he received as well as costumes and memorabilia. There is a meditation garden where Elvis, and well as other family members are laid to rest. Across the street there are two main attractions. One of them is the two jet planes Elvis Presley acquired in 1975. The other is the automobile museum, showcasing his extensive car collection.

After the museum we go to one of the most famous barbecue restaurants in Memphis: Central BBQ. While it is a tough comparison, I do believe the one in St. Louis was a little more tasty, but I could have taste bud fatigue at this point so don’t quote me on that.

Our last point of interest in the city is the Memphis Pyramid. It was originally conceived as an sports facility, but something about the dimensions prevented it from becoming an NBA arena. After much financial distress, the property was leased by Bass Pro Shops, where they have built the largest over the top store. The highest freestanding elevator in the United States takes you to the top of the pyramid, where they have a restaurant and an observation deck.

We depart at sunset and spend the night in Tupelo, Mississippi, very close to Elvis Presley’s birthplace. In the morning, we briefly visit the site, and then spend most of the day driving south towards the Florida panhandle.

St. Louis, Missouri: Gateway to the West

In this week’s video we are visiting St. Louis, Missouri: The Gateway to the West.

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As it is our tradition lately we are going to do the most important or touristy thing first, and then work our way down in order of priority. The undisputed winner in this city is the Gateway Arch, an engineering and architectural marvel. It is the tallest arch in the world and the tallest monument in the western hemisphere. Its catenary shape makes it perfectly balanced on the ground. It has a unique elevator system that is actually a closer cousin to a Ferris wheel. Due to the nature of the arch a traditional vertical elevator was impractical so they designed this unique contraption for such purpose.

After aimlessly wandering a nearly deserted downtown we decided to visit what is arguably the next best known landmark here: The Anheuser-Busch brewery. They have an excellent complimentary tour in which you visit the Clydesdales and their historic stable, the aging cellar, the also historic brew house and then you get free beer.

After our beer drinking extravaganza we felt it was only appropriate to sample some authentic St. Louis Barbecue, so we went to Pappy’s Smokehouse, which didn’t disappoint. For desert we decided to try another St. Louis staple, frozen custard. For that we went to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, in the Dutchtown neighborhood. The area doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to crime rate, but we had no problems.

We stayed two nights at the Casino Queen RV Park, just across the river in East St. Louis, Illinois. From here we continued towards our next destination: Memphis, Tennessee. On the way there we had lunch at another unique and iconic restaurant called Lambert’s Cafe, Home of the Throwed Rolls. Eventually we made it our destination, the Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas.

I hope you enjoy this week’s video. See you on the next destination.

Chicago: Road Trip to the “Windy City”

What can I say! This is the pinnacle of our road trip, 1500 miles in the making: Chicago, Illinois. In my latest video we finally make it to the “Windy City”.

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Unlike other large metropolis, this one has a relatively inexpensive place to “camp” right off downtown. The McCormick Center Truck Marshaling lot charges $35 for overnight parking (as of spring of 2016). I sarcastically refereed to it throughout the video as our luxury accommodations, just because it is a luxury in itself to be so close to downtown.  We spent two nights there and did as much as we could with the allotted time. We learned our lesson in Paris last year, and decided never again to leave the best for last. For that reason we pretty much knocked down the bucket list items first. Right after we arrived, we went to downtown and saw the Millennium Park and the Cloud Gate (The Bean). We also had a deep dish pizza at Giordano’s. That same evening we took the Architectural Foundation River Cruise.

The next day in the morning we went to the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower. This is perhaps the most important landmark in Chicago, since it was the world’s tallest building for almost 25 years. With the most important stuff checked off the list, we leisurely walk around the city and the lakefront. We pass by the famous Navy Pier, but early on realize it is not for us. There is a Chicago Cubs home game happening so we decide to go to Wrigley Field and mingle with the locals at the stadium’s spot’s bar. Finally we go to the other great observation deck in the city at the Hancock Building. We have dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant called Rosebud on Rush.

On the following day we just take a leisurely stroll on the Riverfront Trail, eat at a local fast food place called Portillo’s, and get on our way south towards St. Louis.