Daytona Speedweeks and the Great American Race

Henry and I have only been following NASCAR for two years. Ever since the first time we watched the Daytona 500 on TV in 2016 I knew I wanted to go. So this year we went. And it was even more fun than I thought it would be.

NASCAR stands for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. The biggest race of the year is at the beginning of the NASCAR season. Every February, the Daytona Speedweeks is held at the Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona 500 – the Great American Race- ends a fun filled week of entertainment on the midway and qualifying races for the Daytona 500 as well as two other NASCAR races.

We arrived in Daytona on Thursday afternoon. During the next few days we went to three races, drove along A1A on the way to lunch at Racing’s North Turn restaurant in Ponce Inlet, had lunch at Caribbean Jack’s on the Intercoastal waterway, watched the Thunderbirds practice, and didn’t have time to catch our breath until Monday morning.

Our first NASCAR race was the Can-Am Duel on Thursday night. Here’s a short video to give you an idea of how fast these cars are going and how loud they are.

Our second race was Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night. We arrived at the track early so we could wander around the midway to see some of the exhibits and do a little shopping. We entered the grandstands with plenty of time to walk around for different views of the track.

The trucks were fast and loud and the race was exciting. A great way to spend a Friday night!

Panoramic view of Daytona Speedway from near start-finish line
Daytona Speedway
Trucks lined up before the race

After two night races in a row, we decided to take it easy and skip the Saturday Xfinity series race. Instead, we watched the United States Air Force Thunderbirds practice in the morning before enjoying lunch at Caribbean Jack’s on the Intercoastal Waterway.

Sunday was the day of the 60th Daytona 500 and a long day at the track for us. We had tickets for the Fanzone so we arrived in the morning to have plenty of time to go out in the middle of the track and get up close to the pit area, see the cars, and enjoy some of  the pre-race festivities.

A look at the stands from track level
Cars lined up before the race

We had a great view of the whole track from our seats in the upper section. After a concert by Rascal Flatts and the driver introductions, each driver rode around the track in a pickup truck.

The stages are set for the pre-race entertainment and driver introductions
The cars lined up before the race

After the national anthem, the USAF Thunderbirds performed a flyover.

U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds flyover before the race

Drivers, start your engines!

Start/Finish line at Daytona 500
Daytona 500
Pit stop for Kyle Bush #18 and Joey Lagano #22
RV’s filled the infield

The race was exciting with the lead changing several times. A huge wreck near the end of the race knocked out all of the leaders and #3 Austin Dillon was the winner.

Watching a race on tv is fun, but nothing compares to seeing it in person. I was fascinated seeing all the things that go on before the race, at how well organized and perfectly timed everything was. The sight and sound of the cars going by at almost 200 miles per hour is mind boggling. Most fans have a favorite driver and it was fun seeing them all decked out in their favorite driver’s gear.

In case you are wondering, our favorite driver is #78 Martin Truex, Jr. He was in second place until the last wreck but he did finish the race.

I’ve already made reservations at the RV park for next year!

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Nevada

State 26:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state is


Nevada became the 36th state on October 31, 1864. The capital is Carson City.

For our one and only trip to Nevada we stayed in, where else, Las Vegas. The Oasis RV Park, a short drive from the Vegas Strip, was our home during our stay. I enjoyed relaxing in the pool when we weren’t wandering around the Vegas Strip, driving to Hoover Dam or walking next door to the huge Bass Pro Shop and it’s casino.

For our first excursion to Sin City we decided to try the free trolley shuttle. Big mistake. Even though it was only May it was hot riding around in the open air trolley. We also discovered the stops were behind all the major casinos so we didn’t get to see much of the Vegas strip. Once we departed the trolley at the Stratosphere we enjoyed wandering around and stopping in a few of the casinos to play a few slots.  Our pockets were a little emptier and the casinos had a few more dollars in their coffers when we left.

Vegas Strip at Night

When in Vegas seeing a show is a must. We called at the last minute and snagged two tickets to Cirque de Soleil’s Mystere at Treasure Island. It was Memorial Day weekend and there were throngs of people everywhere. I loved seeing the city at night and the show was spectacular.

The Cirque de Soleil show at Treasure Island was fantastic

One day we took a drive to Hoover Dam. On the way to the dam we had spectacular views of Lake Mead. Traffic was bumper to bumper as we crossed the dam.

Hoover Dam
Lake Mead as seen from the top of Hoover Dam
Colorado River
Lake Mead

Our next destination was Zion National Park in Utah. As we drove east to the park we traveled on some mountainous roads.

The road between Las Vegas and Utah

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska

Look! Up in the Air! Navy Style

Earlier this spring, we took our RV to Montgomery, Alabama to see an air show at Maxwell Air Force Base which featured the USAF Thunderbirds.   Three weeks later we made a day trip to the  Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina for their air show featuring the United States Navy’s flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels.

This was my first time on a Marine Corps station and my first time seeing the Blue Angels perform. It was a thrilling day from beginning to end.

Before the performances began we wandered around the static displays featuring historic and modern aircraft from the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

USMC Osprey
Spirit of America used in Berlin Airlift
Historic USAF Plane
USMC Helicopter
We were able to get up close to this USAF Thunderbird on display

We were able to snag front row seats beside the runway. That meant some of the planes went right in front of us as they taxied to their position for takeoff. The USMC AV-88 Harrier II and the F-16 Viper were just two of the military aircraft that performed impressive demonstrations.

The pilot waves to the crowd as he taxis down the runway before take off
The Wild Weasel
Hovering in front of the crowd
Refueling Demonstration
US Marine Corps Helicopter Demonstration

The Geico Skytypers and other performers kept us entertained for several hours.

Geico Skytypers at MACS Beaufort Air Show
Geico Skytypers at MACS Beaufort Air Show
Love when the planes fly upside down
These historic military planes put on a great show

The US Navy Blue Angels put on a fantastic show that wowed the crowd with each new formation. They flew by so fast it wasn’t until I got home and looked closely at my photos that I realized how really close together they fly. Their precision is just amazing.



U. S. Navy Blue Angels



I am so grateful we had the opportunity to see both the US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels this year. Both teams will be performing at more air shows around the United States this year. If you have a chance to see a show near you, it will be a day you always remember.

Look! Up in the Air!

“Heritage to Horizons: A Century of Airpower since WWI.”  – Maxwell Air Force Base Air Show April 8-9, 2017

From the moment we decided to travel somewhere to see an air show I was like a little kid waiting for Christmas. We studied the schedules of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and the United States Navy Blue Angels to determine when and where would be the best place to see them. Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama was an easy choice. We could get there easily from Georgia, there was a great campground close to the base, and it would be nostalgic for me to return to a base where I lived for a year when my father was stationed there.

We arrived at Gunter Hill Campground two days before the air show. Both days we heard the planes as they were practicing and I kept looking in the sky to see what kind of planes they were. Both days I was rewarded when I searched the skies and saw four of the Thunderbirds pass right by the campground.

On the day of the show we arrived early so we could find a good spot to set up our folding chairs to catch all the action. We parked ourselves right in front of where the Thunderbirds were lined up. We could also see the French planes of the Patrouille de France.

United States Air Force Thunderbird
United States Air Force Thunderbird
Patrouille de France at Maxwell A.F.B. Air Show
Patrouille de France at Maxwell A.F.B. Air Show

The air show was celebrating the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the United States involvement in World War I. There were also historic planes on display.

After the opening ceremonies the show began with the Wings of Blue Parachute Team. Once the performers began it was non stop action all afternoon. From bi-planes performing stunts to the fabulous French team Patrouille de France to a reenactment of the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Tora Tora Tora group there was never a dull moment.

Wings of Blue at Maxwell A.F.B. Air Show
Wings of Blue at Maxwell A.F.B. Air Show
Red Tails at Maxwell A.F.B. Air Show
Red Tails at Maxwell A.F.B. Air Show
Maxwell Air Show
Maxwell Air Show
Re-enactment of bombing of Pearl Harbor at Maxwell Air Show
Re-enactment of bombing of Pearl Harbor at Maxwell Air Show
Wing Walker at Maxwell Air Show
Wing Walker waving at the crowd at Maxwell Air Show

The French team Patrouille de France (The Patrol of France) were performing to honor the special relationship between the air forces of U. S. and France since World War I.

Patrouille de France at Maxwell Air Show
Patrouille de France at Maxwell Air Show
Patrouille de France2
Patrouille de France
Patrouille de France
Patrouille de France
Patrouille de France
Patrouille de France
Patrouille de France
Patrouille de France
Patrouille de France Pilots
Patrouille de France Pilots on their way to sign autographs and pose for pictures

The final act was the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds. Before they began, a group of Air Force recruits were sworn in with their families watching them take their oath in front of the Thunderbird planes.

U.S. Air Force recruits being sworn in
U.S. Air Force recruits being sworn in

Before the pilots climbed into the cockpits their crews performed their pre-flight inspections as the pilots faced the crowd.

U.S.A.F. Thunderbird Pilots
U.S.A.F. Thunderbird Pilots
Thunderbird Pilot waves an American Flag as he taxies down the runway
Thunderbird Pilot waved an American Flag as he taxied down the runway
Maxwell Air Show U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds

Just in case you didn’t get enough of the Thunderbirds, here’s a video of one of their signature formations.

Spending the day enjoying this amazing air show was one of the coolest things we’ve done in a long, long time. If the Thunderbirds or Blue Angels are performing any where near you get out there and go to an air show!

Day 33: Another fun day in Skagway

Day 33: Monday, June 18, 2013

While we slept, four cruise ships arrived in the harbor. Skagway was bustling with activity early in the morning as the trains, sightseeing buses, and stores prepared for the onslaught of cruise ship passengers.

The streets were still fairly quiet as I took my early morning stroll through town. I passed by two trains filled with passengers waiting to depart. Later in the day the streets were filled with people strolling along, taking pictures, and hitting the shops.

After another delicious breakfast at the Sweet Tooth we joined the throngs of shoppers browsing the shops. You can find anything from the typical made in China souvenirs to beautiful handcrafted, made in Alaska items. After drooling over all the beautifully crafted items I finally decided on a pair of jade whale tail earrings.

At 10:30 we went to the Days of ’98 Show at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. The musical play tells the tale of Soapy Smith, Alaska’s most notorious outlaw. The show was entertaining and so much fun. The piano player, dance hall girls, ragtime music, and Soapy himself were all great. I highly recommend attending the show if you ever go to Skagway.

Here is a video of the girls performing the can-can. If you are reading an email update and can’t watch the video, click Wandering Dawgs to go to the web page and scroll to the video to watch.

When we came out of the show the streets were filled with people. A drive along the Taiya Inlet to the former town of Dyea sounded perfect. Thousands of prospectors hoping to strike it rich during the Klondike Gold rush followed the Chilkoot trail which began in Dyea. The narrow, winding gravel road to the site of the once booming town of Dyea was beautiful. The trail to the town site takes you through woods and neither of us was prepared for the hike so we didn’t actually see where the town once was. At the end of the road were the Dyea Flats with wild iris and other wildflowers adding splashes of purple to the green.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of the Klondike Gold Rush, visit The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Site to find out more.

Henry spent the rest of the afternoon washing the truck while I did some cleaning inside. Watching the cruise ship passengers pass by on their way back to their ship was a great way to relax after a hard day of being a tourist.

Dinner at the Red Onion Saloon was really fun. As I was enjoying my pizza and Henry his Reuben, we were pleasantly surprised to see a band setting up to play. With two fiddles, a bass, a mandolin, a guitar, and English Concertina we knew the Windy Valley Boys would be fun to listen to. Their first song was a foot tapping, buck dancing kind of song that reminded me of the jam session at the Floyd Country Store in Virginia. We ordered another beer and stayed for the entire first set. What a great ending to our day!

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