Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cracker Trail Museum

   This small museum is along the trail of the early cattle drives in Florida. The term “cracker” comes from the crack of the whips that the cowboys use to keep that cattle moving. The museum is filled with articles donated by local families so there’s a little of everything including an eleven foot alligator skin and mastodon teeth.

  The museum is accessible but the entrance door is a little heavy.

  The parking area is large enough for RVs.  Museum
27.50089, -81.79954

Friday, January 27, 2012

Paynes Creek Historic State Park

   Paynes Creek is the site of a trading post established in the 1800s for the Seminole Indians. In 1849, after the trading post was attacked and destroyed, Fort Chokonikla was built to settle tensions in the area. No trace of the buildings still exist but hiking trails lead to both sites and along Paynes Creek. A very small museum houses displays and artifacts.

  This type of site is one of the reasons that I decided to start a blog about accessibility. The only information about accessibility on the park’s web page concerns the restrooms which are accessible. Only by actually visiting could we determine the degree of accessibility for the rest of the park. The museum is completely accessible as are the picnic grounds, however, all of the trails are composed of soft sand and are completely inaccessible. For people who use wheelchairs this is an okay stop if you’re in the area but it’s not worth going out of your way to see.

There are some parking spaces long enough to accommodate RVs and it’s possible to park lengthwise across several spaces. Park
27.6254, -81.80883

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pioneer Park Campground

   This is a county park, popular with snowbirds because of the very reasonable monthly rates. The drawbacks are no sewer hookups and the location – pretty much in the middle-of-nowhere central Florida. The city of Wauchula, just a few miles north, has all the major services.

   Camping choices are varied – electric sites in a large field with  RVs in rows, electric sites located haphazardly under the trees or where we camped, in the no hookup sites facing a little pond. We have a nice view of the pond which attracts many different birds.

  None of the sites are accessible. The tables are concrete, set above ground level on concrete pads with no overhang on the ends. The ground is uneven which makes pushing around somewhat difficult. The restrooms are few and inconveniently located.  Campground
27.50353, -81.80401

Monday, January 23, 2012

Florida Botanical Gardens and Heritage Village

   These two are connected by a shared parking lot (RVs may have to park lengthwise) and trail system. The main paths in the garden and the village are wide, paved and very easy to roll along.
     The village consists of a couple dozen relocated buildings in a pine forest setting. The visitor center ,gift shop, school, church and general store are accessible. Some of the other buildings have displays but don’t have ramps. Some buildings are not opened to the public and some are only opened for timed tours. The informative signs along the paths are all easy to view. Both sites are  meticulously maintained and free for everyone.   Garden    Village
27.88399, -82.81039

St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market

    Crafts, homemade goodies to eat there or take home, organic produce, fresh seafood, grass fed beef and even live music -  a really nice market!

    The market is held in a parking lot so rolling is easy.

    Parking is available at the lot next to the market – $4.00 a day or at the pier lot, four blocks north,which is large enough for RVs.  Market
27.76974, -82.63345

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Museum of Fine Arts

   This museum has many small galleries with a wide range of artwork from Roman pottery and 17th century paintings to modern glass sculptures.

   Most of the museum is accessible. The exhibits in the gallery displaying 19th century photographs are too high to easily view.

  Parking at the museum is limited. A  parking area, large enough for cars or vans only, is located beside the museum. RVs can park at metered spaces along the street but the street is a little narrow. A self pay parking lot, located on the pier, is the best choice. Follow the signs for bus parking if your RV is large. Smaller RVs can fit in one space, backed in to overhang onto the grass – $3.00 all day  Museum
27.77465, -82.63186

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Pier and Bay Shore Walkway

   The pier and the inverted pyramid at the end are slated for demolition in 2013 or 2014 but until then it’s a great place for a short walk and an elevator ride to the top for a view of the city. Follow the wide sidewalk north or south along the bay for a longer walk.  Demings Landing Park to the south has a paved trail which is a little rough in spots.  Albert Whitted Park also has a short trail and is a good place to watch small planes taking off and landing.

   A parking lot large enough for RVs is located on the pier. Follow the signs for bus parking. $3.00 for all day.  Pier
27.7746, -82.63113

Friday, January 20, 2012

Reciprocal Passes

   Anyone who has been reading our blog for awhile has probably realized that we like to wander and see new things along the way ,anything from a bizarre roadside attraction to the most popular national parks.Our discovery of reciprocal passes has given us a  slew of new places to go. We started with a science museum pass and added others through the years.The latest one is a art museum and garden pass. We hadn’t realized how much we would enjoy visiting these places and the fact that they are free makes it that much better.  Not quite free though because the pass has to be bought but it doesn’t take long to recover the initial money. The art museum and garden pass is the most expensive pass that we’ve bought but considering the admission prices to both of these types of attractions , it’s a real bargain.  Most individual admissions are about $20.00 so we would not be visiting very many of them without the pass.

  There are a couple of things to consider before buying a pass. First check your home state or the states that you’ll be visiting to make sure that you’ll actually be using them enough to make them economical. For instance Washington state is a good place for the Time Travelers Pass or an Art Museum Pass but not very good for a Garden Pass. Florida is great for both art museums and gardens but the only people who might want to buy a Science Museum Pass would be families with very young children. Another thing to check is reciprocally within the state or region. Sometimes the passes are limited to areas outside of a certain radius of the home museum membership. The St. Petersburgs area of Florida recently included this restriction so if you’re planning on visiting Florida ,get a pass from another state.

  One pass that we have is from Winterthur Museum in Delaware. It’s a combination pass good at 270 gardens and 400 museums. A yearly pass, which will admit two people ,is $150.00 but the price is quickly made up with a few museum visits. For instance just in the St. Petersburg/Sarasota area one visit per couple to each of these museums adds up to  $159.00.

Ringling Museum– $50.00
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens– $34.00
Museum of Fine Arts – $34.00
Salvador Dali Museum -  $41.00

  The links to the passes that we like best are listed here - Passes

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dali Museum

  Neither of us knew much about Salvador Dali before visiting this museum – just the melting clock pictures. Dali was very prolific, creating over 1,500 paintings plus illustrations, sculptures and other projects. The museum has a wide range of his work including some landscapes that he painted as a young teenager. Stop and pick up a headphone and player for a audio tour  - free with admission.The paintings are so strange but  the tour really helps by pointing out tiny details and explaining the reasons behind the images that he painted.

   The museum is very accessible but in one section (not a major gallery) the artwork is a little too high to view without getting neck strain.

   The parking lot is large enough for RVs.  Museum
27.76546, -82.63234

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

St. Petersburg Museum of History

     St. Petersburg is a relatively new city,experiencing it’s first big growth spurt during the Florida real estate boom of the 1920s. Included in the displays are artifacts used by the early Native American inhabitants, tourist trinkets, and turn of the century swim wear.

   Everything is accessible.

   A  parking area, large enough for cars or vans only, is located behind the museum. RVs can be parked at metered spaces along the street but the street is a little narrow. A self pay parking lot, located on the pier, is the best choice. Follow the signs for bus parking if your RV is large. Smaller RVs can fit in one space, backed in to overhang onto the grass – $3.00 all day.  The museum has a  driveway to drop off passengers at the door.  Museum
27.77391, -82.63042

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sunken Gardens

   This is a fairly small garden packed with a large assortment of tropical plants. It was the hobby garden of George Turner who opened it to visitors in 1924. It’s now owned by the city of St. Petersburg and has been preserved as a historic landmark.

   The garden map has a very small section marked as accessible, however all of the paths are paved so it is possible to see the entire garden. There are two arched bridges that are too steep so backtracking is required. The garden elevation drops about 15 feet from the entrance and a few sections have a bit of a slope.

   The parking lot has enough room for RVs although larger ones may have to park across the spaces. Gardens
27.78979, -82.6381

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Florida RV Super Show

   We’re not planning on buying another motorhome but we decided to go to the RV show just to see what the hype was all about. This is the place to be if you’re thinking about buying a RV! There are hundreds of RVs to walk through from popups to Prevosts.  Popups, truck campers and hybrid trailers are not well represented but there are As, Bs, Cs, trailers and fifth wheels from many different manufacturers with a wide range of pricing.In addition to the RVs there are two vendor buildings where you can browse through all the offers from resorts and pick up needed or frivolous RV supplies.

   Handicapped parking for cars and RVs is fairly close to the entrance.  Wheelchair and scooter rentals are located just inside the entrance. The show grounds and the buildings are all accessible. The two RV manufacturers that will customize RVs to make them accessible, Winnebago and Born Free, do not have any accessible models to show but there is a new accessible model from Newmar.  Unfortunately we found it just as the show was closing for the day and didn’t get to tour it.

  I find it irritating that shows like this have a entrance fee but the convenience of having all the RVs in one place is helpful if you’re researching a purchase. The fee is $10.00 per person which is good for two days plus a fairgrounds parking fee of $5.00 for a car or $10.00 for a RV. If you decide to stay overnight an additional $15.00 is collected after the show closes but you don’t have to pay the $10.00 parking fee for the next day. The woman at the parking booth gave us this information. We didn’t stay overnight so I can’t verify the accuracy of it.  RV Show
27.99059, -82.36096

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fort De Soto Park Campground

    Make reservations early if you want a campsite in this park, especially a waterfront one. This is the only public park close to the water in the Clearwater area of Florida so it’s very popular and also very expensive.  If you’re not the reservation type check online to see if there have been any cancellations. We managed to find a waterfront site with four open days in the middle of the week. Weekends are completely booked. If you tent camp you’re in luck – plenty of sites for tents.

  None of the sites are specifically marked as accessible but all of them are good – large, level sites with hard sandy ground, picnic tables with overhangs and easily reached water and electric hookups. The restrooms and showers are accessible but they should be roomier. People in wheelchairs may have some difficulty transferring.  Campground Reservations
27.63483, -82.71829

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fort De Soto Multipurpose Trail

   This seven mile paved trail follows the main roads in the park and provides access to all of the features of the park – the campground, fishing piers, nature trail, gift shop, museum, fort, picnic areas, and beaches. Everything except for the beaches is wheelchair accessible.  Park

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fort De Soto - Quartermaster Museum and Battery Laidley

   Fort De Soto was built for the Spanish-American War. The war was over in months and the fort never saw any action. After ten years it was decommissioned, then officially abandoned and later used as a training ground during WWII before becoming county property in 1948 and a park in 1962.  Not much is left of the fort except for the concrete structure of Battery Laidley.. All of the rooms in the battery, where the ammunition for the big mortars was stored, are opened to the public but most are empty. There’s a very long ADA compliant ramp to the top of the battery with a good view of the Gulf of Mexico and a set of stairs down to the beach. A walking tour with signs and a printed guide follows a trail through the fort grounds.  Part of the trail is loose sand and not accessible.

   The museum is a replica of the original quartermaster storehouse. It contains artifacts from different periods of the fort’s history, wall panels with the complete history of the islands, and a touch screen computer with short film clips. A ramp leads to the entrance and the inside is all accessible.

  The parking lot is large enough for all RVs.  Museum
27.61379, -82.735

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ybor City Museum State Park

   The museum is housed in a historic bakery and tells the story of the Ybor City section of Tampa. Ybor City had it’s start with a colorful mix of immigrants from Cuba, Spain and Italy, all involved in producing hand rolled cigars. Eventually there were 100s of cigar factories producing millions of cigars a year but the Depression, along with cigar making machines, doomed the industry and Ybor City. Recent renovations along the main business street,7th Ave, have brought a lot of life back to the city. The state park also includes a beautiful little plaza with a fountain and a guided tour of a typical cigar worker’s house.

  Everything is accessible. There’s a handicapped parking space right in front of the museum with enough room for a small RV or van. No step or ramp needed at the museum entrance. An ADA compliant ramp leads into the worker’s house.

  RVs can park on the street in front of the museum complex.  Museum
27.96198, -82.4386

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Osceola Flea and Farmers Market

   This flea market is barely surviving. Their website touts 900 booths but most of them are empty –maybe 100 have merchandise and only one has fruits and vegetables. We did get some very good oranges.  All of the roads and walkways are paved. Plentiful parking is located behind the buildings in the grassy areas.  Flea Market
28.26464, -81.33121

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Osceola County Historical Society Pioneer Village

   The village consists of six relocated buildings and depicts life in rural Florida in the late 1880s. The largest building is a “cracker house” with a center breezeway. Also included are a one room schoolhouse, orange packing house, general store, blacksmith shop and a small museum.  It doesn’t take long to see everything so if you have some extra time cross the street and take a short walk in Shingle Creek Regional Park.

  The village is partially accessible. The ground is hard so rolling along is fairly easy. The general store, cracker house and museum all have ramps. The schoolhouse and orange packing house have steps only. The interiors of the small outbuildings can be seen easily from the doorways.

  The parking area is large enough for all RVs.  Village
28.29854, -81.45815

Shingle Creek Regional Park Trail

   The trail winds through pine and palmetto forest and across swampy areas. It’s very accessible with hard surfaced trail and solidly constructed boardwalk. The route from the parking lot at Shingle Creek Regional Park to Osceola County Historical Society Pioneer Village and back is a little over a mile.

  The parking lot has spaces for RVs.  Trail
28.30289, -81.45287

Monday, January 2, 2012

Making California Maps

View California(Southern) attractions in a larger map

We're at our favorite Florida campground, Moss Park ,working on some yearly maintenance chores( thorough cleaning, waxing, caulking and general sprucing up) plus some additional small repairs. Since I can only reach a limited area Tony gets the larger share of chores and I have time to work on maps.

With some states I have to search for interesting things to see but that's not a problem with California!I had to split it into two sections because there are so many attractions and each map page will accept just 200 placemarks. I know that I skipped a lot of things but I tried to get the most popular ones.If you have any favorites that I missed let me know.

I found some surprising attractions - a fabulous collection of cars and antiques that is completely free , a museum in a cemetery , and a Japanese garden at a sewer treatment plant!