Thursday, May 31, 2012

House on Fire, UT

House on Fire, Mule Canyon, UT
Today I paid my $2.00 for a permit to hike Mule Canyon.  It is an easy hike of about 1 1/4 miles to the first ruin which is called House on Fire.  As you can see in the above photo, the name fits!  You do have to catch it under the correct lighting conditions.  Since I didn't know how difficult a hike it would be I left early and reached the site at around 9:00AM.  At that time the colors were not impressive:
House on Fire at 9:00AM
I took a few photos then continued up the canyon to the next ruin.  There are a number of them over the 6 mile length of Mule Canyon, but I stopped after the second at about 2.4 miles in.  I returned to House on Fire at a good time.  The sun reflects of the nearby canyon walls & lights the rocks above the ruin.  Later in the day the sun hits the cliff directly, and washes out the effect.  10:30AM is a pretty good time to shoot.

I also shot some photos along the canyon as well as the second ruin.  I'll post them to LakeshoreImages once 1&1 gets my website fixed.  I called them again today & the answer is "We have our highest level working on the problem." With the site down for 5 days, I am beginning to wonder how high that level actually is.

After the canyon I was wiped - not that much of a climb, but it is in full sun, in the high 80's, and very dry.  I drank a liter of water on the hike & was still thirsty when I got back to the car.  Came back to the campground, did laundry, and did nothing for the rest of the day.  

Tomorrow I'm heading to Moab for a couple of days.

Till then - 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blanding, UT

Monument Valley Under the Stars
Wednesday, May 30 - Blanding, UT- 128 Miles Today, 4682.5 For the Trip

Still no LakeshoreImages website so I may start adding more photos here.  I did get up to the Monument Valley Overlook/Parking Lot a little after dusk.  I took a series of photos, most at ISO 1600, f:2.8 & 8 to 15 seconds.  There was enough moonlight to show the formations, yet allowed enough of the stars to show to make it interesting.  It would have been better if there was a power blackout - the parking lot has lots of lights.  There are a few images with lights from returning cars, and airplanes, but overall it worked OK.

I washed the trailer & RAV4 on the way out of Gouldings Camp Park.  The water spray didn't remove everything; the bugs need an actual scrubbing, but at least the first layer of red dust is gone.

It was a short drive to Blanding, UT & the Blue Mountain RV Park.  I'm in site 8, a shaded back in that just fits the trailer & RAV4. After setting up I plan to drive out to the location for the trail to House on Fire.  It is too late in the day to properly photograph it - I'll do that tomorrow.

I did drive out to the trail head, and also stopped at the "Official" Mule Canyon Ruin Exhibit, about 1/2 mile west of Arch Canyon road, the entrance to the trail head. Laurent Martres, who's 3 books "Photographing the Southwest" have been my guide to many locations feels that the exhibit was built to keep down traffic in the canyon.  I'll have to agree with him - it is far to new looking to be realistic.

Mule Canyon Ruin Exhibit

Mule Canyon Ruin Exhibit
After that it was back to the campground by way of the local grocery store & some barbecued chicken for dinner.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Valley of the Gods and More



Mexican Hat, UT



Tuesday, May 29 - Monument Valley, AZ, Day 2 - 172.5 Miles Today, 4554.5 For the Trip

Alright, I'm now getting annoyed with 1&1, my web site host. They still don't have a fix for why my pages don't work. Even links on oother sites to photographs on my site are getting the "not authorized" or must log on message. Seems like they should be able do something in 2 days.

As to today, I drove down to Kayenta so I could take a few photos of Agathla Peak along US 163, and pick up a few supplies. After that it was north to Gooseneck State Park on UT 316, then to the Valley of the Gods, a 16 mile gravel road that goes between UT 261 & US 163. It is a pretty drive with many formations. Not as striking or familiar as Monument Valley, but a much better road & no where near as crowded.

Alas, it was another boring sky day with the sun often in the wrong position so I'm not all that impressed with most of the images, but that doesn't matter, because you can't see them at LakeshoreImages!


Back at the trailer I made a pizza for dinner - chicken, onions, mushrooms & peppers! I've got the toaster oven down pat now - the pizza came out perfect. I'm going to relax until dark, then drive up to the valley to see if there is the right combination of starlight & moonlight to take some photos.

Until tomorrow (or when ever 1&1 gets things working again, at least for lakeshoreImages)...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monument Valley, AZ

Monument Valley, AZ
I started out the day talking with 1&1 about why no one, including me can access my web pages.  They told me the same thing they did last night - they are working on it. Oh well, at least the Blogger page works!

I drove US 160 to CO 41 which turns into UT 162 into Bluff, UT, then south on US 163 to Monument Valley.  I'm staying two days at Gouldings, Site 26 to explore the area, then plan to move north to Blanding, UT for a couple of days. After setting up I tried the web page again, same result.  This time I tried sending an email trouble request.  I'm not sure why it is taking so long to fix it since the last time this happened about two weeks ago they fixed it in an hour.  Maybe it wasn't really fixed?  Anyhow, this is all you get.  I'll write the LakeshoreImages pages, but won't try to post them until I find out what the problem is.

I drove the Monument Valley road for about 5 miles - is is in even worse shape than last year.  I think they avoid doing much maintenance on the road so people will take the tours rather than drive their cars, although I saw lots of low clearance, standard cars on the road.   Probably rentals! In any case, the RAV4 did fine, although it is now caked with red dust.  I'm not at all happy with the photographs - nice color with the setting sun, but I'd really like to have a storm, or at least a cloud or two - the plain blue sky isn't all that attractive, and it is what I had last year.  Oh well...

I'm again having problems with the refrigerator.  Boy, I wish I had stuck with the smaller refrigerator - maybe it wouldn't have given me as much grief.  This time the electric heater stopped working.  I haven't checked to see if it is burned out or the electronics are messed up.  I did make sure the breaker was on & it was plugged in, but I have to take the top grill off to actually check that there is AC at the plug. It runs fine on gas, but most of the frozen stuff got warmer than I'd like before I discovered the problem.

So, until next time!

Mesa Verde National Park, Day 2

Shiprock, NM

Sunday, May 27 - Day 2 at Mesa Verde National Park, CO - Miles Today, 4085.5 For the Trip

Well, for those concerned, I did manage to grill a hamburger & steam some green beans for dinner. It was still windy, but not enough to blow the grill off the table. I also found I can get both a Verizon & an AT&T signal here at the campsite, although both are fairly weak & slow, even with the exterior antenna & amplifier. The campground WiFi is satellite, which doesn't work all that well with Dreamweaver. In any case, I got the pages uploaded & went back to the trailer to make dinner. Met a couple & their cute baby in a truck camper in the next site that had also driven up from Arizona - they really didn't like the wind & dust!

As I expected, there was no need for the air conditioner yesterday or today. In fact, last night I dug out the electric blanket & electric space heater. That was after it hit 37°F at 9:00PM. At 4:00AM it was 27°F. I may be a wimp, but that heat felt wonderful!

It warmed up to the low 60's fairly quickly. I headed out for my 10:30 tour of the Long House, and stopped for a bit at Park Point Overlook, the highest part of the park (8572') . Took a panorama, but didn't include it. I did include one image of part of the view & one of the fire lookout tower as well as many other photos of many stops throughout Mesa Verde in  today's LakeshoreImages Page. Unfortunately, until I can get 1&1 to fix my pages, you probably won't be able to look at them.  For some reason, all the pages are requiring a password.

After that I finished the drive to the tour. We had the greatest tour guide I've ever had on a National Park tour - Ranger Paula Wolfe should get some kind of award for her tours. After touring the Long House I made short stops at a couple of other sites Wetherill Mesa area, then shot the Kodak House from the overlook.

I wanted to revisit the Spruce Tree House, the self guided tour that we took on our last visit in 1996. Being Memorial Day weekend, it was much busier than the last time but I took a few photos. I also stopped at the overlook for Cliff Palace & the hike to the overlook for Balcony House.

After the trip to the Mesa Top Loop I stopped back at the trailer to add the photos to the computer, then headed to Shiprock to take a photo. Shiprock is a wonderful structure, however the weather did not cooperate. No dramatic clouds, no color to the sunset, and a haze probably caused by the numerous wildfires in the area. So, nothing special, but one of them is today's photo.


I stopped at the Shiprock McDonalds to upload the images, but it was so slow I gave up. I had better luck at the McDonalds in Cortez. After that it was back to the campground to put the actual pages together. The pages are being loaded here in the campground over the slow Verizon connection, but since the images are much larger than the pages I need a fast connection for them.

Till tomorrow -


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mesa Verde National Park, CO



Saturday, May 26 -Mesa Verde National Park, CO- 212 Miles Today, 4085.5 For the Trip

Well, I have still not managed to escape the wind. Today the "dust", "sand" or what ever you want to call it was extraordinary. It was thick enough that it was like a red fog (except fog isn't gritty, doesn't get in your eyes, nose & teeth.) On the way out of Chinle the dust blowing across the road was so thick you could only see two to three car lengths in front of you. While it cleared up as I headed up US 191 and east on US 160, there were pockets along the way that were almost as dense. While I don't have a weather station with a wind speed indicator, the weather app on my phone tells me the gusts are up to 65MPH.

The dust changed as I got closer to Colorado - the color shifted from red to grey. I stopped in Cortez for gas and the sky was clear (although there was still plenty of wind.) I wimped out and changed my reservation to a site with hook ups. Probably didn't really need them since it isn't all that hot (we are over 7000') but I wanted to be able to keep the trailer sealed if the dust got bad.

After setting up the trailer in site 159 in Morefield Campground (it is in the park, but run by Aramark) I headed to the Far View Visitor Center to get a ticket for the Long House tour. The tickets were far less than I expected - $3.00 for the 1 1/2 hour tour. I forgot how spread out Mesa Verde is - it is a 45 minute drive from the visitor center to the Wetherhill Mesa location where the tour starts. Today's mileage includes the trip out to the Wetherhill Mesa, the actual drive from Chinle was quite a bit less.

I got to the tour site in plenty of time and as I arrived the wind (which had been getting stronger all day) reached the point where they canceled my tour. I don't blame them - even good sized rocks were blowing off the tables under the shelter roof. While heading back to the car I met a couple from Kansas that had driven out on a Honda motorcycle & they asked if I could give the woman a ride back to the visitor center. I don't blame her for wanting a ride rather than sitting on the back of the bike - the dust in the air along with the wind is just too much. We had a nice chat on the way back. I turned in my ticket and exchanged it for the 10:30AM tour tomorrow. I sure hope the wind dies down.

I'm back at the trailer, putting today's page together & since there doesn't seem to be much of an AT&T or Verizon signal here at the campsite, after the pages are built I'll go to the campground store & use their WiFi to post.

Here is hoping the wind will die down enough to cook tonight. It is no longer steady, but the gusts are strong enough to shake the trailer.

Till tomorrow -

Friday, May 25, 2012

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, AZ

The White House, Canyon de Chelly, AZ

Friday, May 25 -Canyon de Chelly, AZ - 133.7 Miles Today, 3873.5 For the Trip

Previous Page

Another windy drive, this time on AZ 264, then US 191to the canyon. Most of the time they were crosswinds, bouncing the trailer a little, but nothing too difficult to control. I did slow down a bit - from my usual 57 MPH to 50 - 55 MPH.

I have decided I'm a wind generator. Everywhere I stop they tell me the wind wasn't as bad yesterday & should be better tomorrow. Today the wind was strong enough that I couldn't hold the camera still for photographs on the north side of the canyon, and I've shot in 60 mph winds. I don't know how strong these are today, but they are full of sand/dust, which is covering everything. I'm not even sure I can safely clean my camera sensor - there is fine sand covering everything in the trailer.

I'm in site 55 in the Cottonwood campground. $10.00 for a nice level, paved but dry site. There are bathrooms with flush toilets about 50' away, but no showers, and with the dust I could sure use one!

I started out by driving the south rim drive & stopped at every pull off. After that I came back to the trailer, took a break, then headed for the north side. As mentioned earlier, it was a waste of time. I'll try again in the morning on my way to Mesa Verde.

More photos of the valley, at least from the south rim at today's LakeshoreImages Page.

So I'm back at the trailer typing on a gritty keyboard getting ready to post this. While I do have a Verizon signal, it is very slow (31.82kb) so I'm going to head to the local Burger King to post this (and maybe dinner since it is again too windy to cook.)

So, I just finished a Chicken Caesar Salad at Burger King & thank them for the use of their WiFi.

Until next time!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

The Painted Desert, AZ



Thursday, May 43 -Petrified Forest National Park, AZ - 193.3 Miles Today, 3739.8 For the Trip

Let me tell you the difference a couple of thousand feet can make. At the City of Rocks campground it got down to around 68°F at 4:00AM; last night at Luna Lake at 4:00AM it was 49°F. One thing was the same - the wind. Even though I was "sheltered" by large pine trees, the wind was shaking the trailer. I had to unhook to level the trailer so even with all 4 stabilizers down the wind was doing its thing. I didn't grill outside since I don't think I could have kept the grill lit. It did finally calm down around 9:00PM & was pretty quiet all night.

I reached the highest altitude of the trip (so far) on the pass north of Alpine on US 180 - 8580'. I continued on US 180 to the Petrified Forest National Park loop that goes between US 180 & I 40. Took a bunch of photos, including a couple of panoramas. I included one of the Painted Desert (part of the park) here.

If you have the bandwidth, here is a 4Kbit wide, large (540KB) version of Panorama.

After the park it was on to I 40 heading east. I'm in site 90 in the USA RV Park in Gallup, NM. Not too expensive for a commercial park (Last night's stay at the Luna Lake Forest Service park was $6.00 with my National Parks card) at $29.45. It is essentially a gravel parking lot with water & electric, but the bathrooms are clean and include a shower. Last night was vault toilets, although the cleanest ones I've ever seen. Anyway, I'm glad they have WiFi at the park since my Verizon connection is at 14K, slower than dial up.

I'm now waiting for the wind to die down so I can grill some dinner. While I do have a stove in the trailer, I prefer to cook greasy food outside & most of my dinners are greasy!

Till Next Time -

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Luna Lake Campground, AZ

Stars at City of Rocks Campground, NM



Wednesday, May 23 - Luna Lake Campground, Alpine, AZ - 149.5 Miles Today, 3546.5 For the Trip

A couple of additions from last night - the stars did immerge from the Pyrocumulus Clouds caused by a couple of wildfires to the west of the campground, so I got a few star photos. Not quite dark or clear enough for a good milky way image, but I stuck one at the top of today's post.

On the way west towards Silver City along US 180 is the largest man made pile of dirt I've ever seen. I looked it up & found it was the tailings of the El Chino copper mine. I did stop to do laundry in Silver City. The large machines made it easier & faster than it would have taken in a campground facility, plus I'm not sure how many of the campgrounds I plan to hit over the next couple of days will have laundromats.

After leaving Silver City I drove past two wildfires that produced the strange clouds over the campground last night.

At the general store in Glenwood (where I purchased the most expensive gas of the trip $4.09) they gave me the names of the two fires & introduced me to the term Pyrocumulus cloud. Four miles down the road gas was $3.89...

I stopped at Luna Lake Campground, a public, dry campground about 4 miles east of Alpine. None of my guides list campgrounds with hook ups in the area, and at 7960' elevation, it is cool enough that I don't need the air conditioner. While far from level, the site has shade and a view of the lake. It is very windy - hope it dies down enough that I can grill dinner. While the campground is pretty near empty, most of the sites have reservation stickers on them although most start tomorrow or later.

While the campground appears to be in the middle of nowhere, I have a good Verizon signal. No AT&T...

The plan is to drive through the Petrified Forest National Park, then on to either Gallup or Chinle for the night. I want to see the Canyon de Chelly National Monument & Mesa Verde National Park before heading west.

As usual, more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

City of Rocks State Park, NM

Sunset - City of Rocks State Park, NM

Monday, May 22 - City of Rocks State Park, NM- 44.1 Miles Today, 3397 For the Trip

Another short drive today. City of Rocks State Park is a little northwest of Rockhound. This time I didn't make a reservation. I did check & Reserve America said there were no electric sites available. A sign at the park entrance said the same, but I decided to drive in anyway. I figured I could try to deal with the heat. The electric section was almost empty. Checked with the Campground Hosts & they said take any empty one, so here I am in Site E6. Actually, some of the non-electric sites might be cooler - the electric sites are in full sun while many of the non-electric have either trees or rocks shading them. Many would be tough to get the trailer into, but a few would work.

It is a neat park. Reminds me of and "aged" version of Goblin Valley in Utah, however at Goblin Valley you camp about 1/2 mile from the formations; here you are in them. I drove into Silver City to do laundry & pick up some food. Forgot the change & supplies for doing laundry so I just did the food. I'll hit the laundromat tomorrow.

Very windy this afternoon. My weather alert iPhone app kept buzzing with high wind & high fire conditions all afternoon. I actually used the front stabilizer jacks for the first time on the trip. I don't usually bother with them unless I'm going to be in the same place for awhile, but the wind was rocking the trailer.

While tonight's sunset was not up to yesterday's standards, it was still a keeper. Strange looking clouds that blocked & uncovered the sun. The sunset photos at today's LakeshoreImages page are in order - it got warmer & colder...

That is probably going to prevent any good star photographs. The place is dark enough, but the clouds that produced the interesting sunset are still here. At least the wind has died down, although it did that last night, then picked up around 2:00AM. It was strong enough that it shook the camera on the tripod, wreaking long exposures.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rockhound State Park, NM

Sunset At Rockhound State Park, NM

Monday, May 21 -Rockhound State Park, NM- 57.4 Miles Today, 3352.9 For the Trip

OK, time for my first "gripe" with Reserve America. I looked up Rockhound State Park and Reserve America told me there were no electric sites available for 2 nights, and only one for today (Monday). So, I reserved it & paid a $10.60 reservation fee on a $14.00 site (a bit much). Anyhow, when I got here there were empty electric sites all over the place. Seems only some of the sites can be reserved, and Reserve America doesn't tell you that there are first come electric sites their map indicates that the other sites are not available - they are, but not through Reserve America. So, while I'm in site 18 tonight, I will have to move to another site for tomorrow.

The park is beautiful. Hot (102°F this afternoon) but beautiful. The desert sun is a physical thing that hits you over the head. You can get used to the heat, but I'm not sure that is possible with the direct sunlight. It is also very dry. I took out a couple of slices of bread when making lunch, and by the time I got out some mayonnaise to spread on it they were crusty!

Since it was a short drive, I arrived a little after 11:00 so it was still cool enough for a walk. Took the "Thunder Egg Trail" that goes up the side of a hill & back down into the campground. If I do it again tomorrow I'll take the camera - a neat view of the place. I did find a couple of interesting rocks - not gemstones, but worth adding to the empty slots on the printer's type case on my living room wall (I'm dating myself by admitting that I have set type using one of these cases - I doubt there are very many people who know what they were originally used for.)

Dinner was simple tonight - a couple of Nathan's Hot Dogs & Grand Ma Brown's Sauce Pan Beans. Let me tell you - Nathan's hot dogs do not compare favorably with Syracuse's Hoffman's hot dogs. After that I sat around and read until the sunset, which was worth photographing. I don't shoot many sunsets, not sure why since many are pretty, but tonight's was an exception.

As usual, more photos at today's LakeshoreImages post.

It got very windy after dark - it it clears up (both the wind and the clouds) I'll try for some star photos - it is pretty dark here in the campground with interesting lights in the flats below.

Till next time -

Sunday, May 20, 2012

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

Sunday, May 20 - White Sands National Monument - 213.4 Miles Today, 3295.5 For the Trip

Today is another two for one deals, sort of. I changed from US 285 to US 82 at Artesia, NM and headed west. Lots of signs warning of long 6% grades, no long or heavy trucks, etc. While I wasn't too worried about the grade, there sure were a lot of signs. One interesting thing happened - I filled up the tank at Cloudcraft, which is at the top of the downgrade. I have a ScanGuage that gets reset at each tank filling. After resetting it & starting down a 16 mile downgrade it told me near the bottom that I could expect to get 4582 miles out of that tank of gas! Boy would that be nice. Unfortunately, by the time I reached Las Cruces it was back to normal readings.

I made two stops along the way to Las Cruces - the first to drive out into the White Sands National Monument. Sure is white. Tough to take photos - I had to overexpose by 2 stops to get anything useful. I did take a couple of the car & trailer to show I was there. I didn't drive to the end, but turned around where the pavement ends.

After that I continued down US 70, a 70 MPH four lane road. Saw a sign for the White Sands Missile Range Museum, and decided to stop. After being grilled by the gate guard I did get into the outside exhibit - the museum was closed. They are very careful about photographs - I was told what direction I could point my camera, otherwise they would erase my memory card. They don't want any photographs of the missile range or the gate. I took a few of some of the missiles in the exhibit, they let me through the gate to get out without re-grilling me, then headed on to Las Cruces.

After setting up in site GG of the Sunny Acres RV Park (with a Good Sam discount it was $34.69 for a full hookup pull through) I dropped the trailer and drove to 16 miles to La Mesa and Chope's Bar & Grill. Although it is Sunday & I expected they would be closed, I had to try. As many of you know, I'm a "T" Shirt addict. One of my favorites is my "Stuff It" shirt from Chope's, a present from a former student. The problem is that was in the 80's, and it is pretty worn out. I tried to stop by on a trip in 1996, but they were closed. Well, I found out that not only are they closed on Sundays as expected, but also on Monday so I can't even try on the way out of town. Looks like I'm never going to get a replacement!

After that it was a drive back up NM 28 to the campground. I passed over the Rio Grande, and had to take pictures; for a river named Grande, it has been sucked dry, not a trickle, but dry!

As usual, check today's LakeshoreImages 2012 Trip Page for the rest of the photos.

I'm now waiting for it to cool off enough for me to get interested in cooking a steak for dinner.

Tomorrow will be a short drive to Rockhound State Park near Deming, NM. I did pass a Toyota dealer on the drive along NM 28; I may try for an oil change in the morning.

Till Next Time!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Guadalupe & Carlsbad National Parks

Carlsbad Cavern

Saturday, May 19 - Carlsbad KOA, Carlsbad, NM - 219.2 Miles Today, 3,082.1 For the Trip

Today is a two for one day - two National Parks. After leaving Balmorhea State Park I eventually got back on I 10 after passing a interesting church on TX 3078, exiting on a pretty but empty road, TX 54 which parallels the Black Mountains, and runs into US 62 which runs past the Guadalupe National Park & into Carlsbad National Park. So, I visited with both. I didn't spend a long time at Guadalupe National Park - it was 95°F and the short hike I took on the Pinery Trail was in full sun. I did get a few photos, including one of an interesting bus conversion that I also saw at Carlsbad. SufariParty.com's web page says they are doing Spring Weekend in April - must be a very long break! The church & bus photos are on today's LakeshoreImages 2012 Trip Page.

More photos of the Pinery Trail hike on my Guadalupe National Park page.

After leaving Guadalupe National Park I stopped to photograph the only rest stop I've see that includes Wind Power. A short time later I was in New Mexico & headed to Carlsbad.

Because I had been in Mammoth Cave & was wearing the same boots, I had to have them cleaned to prevent the spread of White Nosed Disease among the bats. They must do a better job here than at Mammoth - at Mammoth we walked through a Lysol foot wash - here they took my boots away & spent 15 minutes cleaning them! I have the brightest soles since they were new.

The cave is interesting, and even larger than I remembered. It is a bit of a letdown after seeing the Caverns of Sonora. Carlsbad is about 95% "dead" that is not actively building surfaces. There is a big difference between it and a live cave like Sonora. The structures are the same, but the live cave looks like crystal while the dead cave looks like rock. Still wonderful formations throughout the cave, and the size of the rooms is amazing. I did notice one interesting bit of political correctness change from the last trip. In 1996 there was a sign identifying the "Breast of Venus," a breast shaped formation. The formation is still there, but the sign is gone.

I took the unguided tour starting at the natural entrance, around the Big Room, Top of the Cross, Mirror Lake, The Crystal Spring Dome, and back to the elevator to get out. A good 2-3 mile workout, although mostly downhill. While there is quite a bit of color in the photographs, it is from the lighting:

Again, there are more photos on my Carlsbad Caverns National Park Page.

After that I stopped & picked up some groceries at the Carlsbad Albertsons, and headed to the Carlsbad KOA, about 15 miles north of the city. I'm is site C4, a nice level pull through with full hookups.

Till Tomorrow -

Friday, May 18, 2012

Balmorhea State Park, TX

Site 20, Balmorhea State Park, TX

Friday, May 18 - Balmorhea State Park, TX -195.8 Miles Today, 2,862.9 For the Trip


More driving along I 10 in Texas. Lots of wind today.  Wish it was behind me since that would improve the gas mileage, but then it could have been a headwind.  It was cross winds, and I could definitely feel them as I hit the road cuts through the hills.  Nothing to hairy, but you could tell when it stopped & started.


I stopped for the night (well actually, early afternoon) at Balmorhea State Park, Site 20. It has water & electric & boy, do I need the electric. While the weather report says it is going to hit 95°F, my outdoor thermometer says 108°F. I thought it might be lying since it is inside the LP tank cover, but I opened the cover to let more air through & it went up to 116°F. No matter how you look at it, it's hot! Maybe not to a Texan, but I live on a lake where we rarely break 90F. Of course this is "dry heat" what ever that is! I wish the photo could show the heat, but you will just have to imagine it. 


The park is OK, but other than a roof over the picnic tables, there is no shade. I did wander around the park & found the swimming pool fed by the San Solomon Spring & the Cienega (a kind of swamp) that they rebuilt after the pool installation destroyed the original. Filled with turtles, catfish & minnows. There are more photos at the LakeshoreImages page for today.


The AC is going & even in this heat the temperature in the trailer is fine. I'm going to wait a bit before I go outside to sit & read. Not sure what will be for dinner - I know there will be left over rice from yesterday, but I haven't decided what will go with it. It is probably a good day for something other than milk to drink since I dumped what was left of the last half gallon. It wasn't bad, but milk tends to pick up local flavors, depending on what the cows eat, and I really didn't like it.


Well, dinner was canned soup. I didn't want to fire up the grill so I knocked off one of my "emergency" meals. By the way, it is now 11:08 & it is still 83°F outside (and, of course the thermometer is not in the sun!) I may restart the AC - I tried it with it off to cut down the noise but it is pretty warm inside.


That's about it for the day - hope to have some photos of the Guadalupe Mountains tomorrow.


Till then -



Caverns of Sonora, Sonora, TX

Caverns of Sonora, Sonora, TX

Thursday, May 17 - Caverns of Sonora, Sonora, TX - 162.5 Miles Today, 2,667.1 For the Trip

You can tell by the title of the page that I decided to go to Sonora and see the cave rather than drive to San Angelo. Even though I don't enjoy driving on interstates, I have to admit that I 10, at least in this part of Texas isn't anywhere near as bad as it is in Louisiana. The last time I drove it in LA it rattled everything loose in the car, let alone the trailer. Even though the speed limit is 80 MPH & I was only doing 57 MPH, the traffic passing me wasn't that bad.

Anyway, I arrived at the Caverns of Sonora campground around 12:30, got set up (pick your site, no site numbers, and $20.00 for water & electric) and got a tour for another $20.00. I have to give Horst a big THANK YOU for suggesting I stop at the caverns. I would have passed this by on my way to Carlsbad, and as far as I'm concerned, this has been the most beautiful caves I visited. It was also a great tour. All in all, I have way to many photos - I am posting a separate set of pages with over 70 and only posted one of them here.

By the way, this is not the cave to go to if you want to cool off on a hot day. While it is 71°F in the cave, the humidity is 98%; the 90° weather outside feels cooler! Lots of steps to climb, but we had plenty of time (there were 3 of us on the tour.) Hard to believe, but the woman on the tour was from Mexico, NY, born in Oswego, and worked on one of the summer productions at the college while I was teaching. A very small world!

Actually, the photos (and this page) won't be there until I get an internet connection - No WiFi, AT&T or Verizon here at the campground. I'll probably stop at a rest stop to post all of these pages.

It is now 6:22, and the outside thermometer is down to 91°F (While it is inside the LP tank cover it still has the sun hitting it) so I'll finish up the pages & make some dinner.

And now it is 9:06 on Friday morning & I have to thank the Super 8 Motel for their WiFi, letting me post yesterday's update.

Till Later!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Roadrunner RV Park, Johnson City, TX

Texas Mourning Doves

Monday, May 14 - Rayford Crossing RV Resort, Spring, TX - 200.0 Miles Today, 2,504.6 For the Trip

I made it 200 miles before I decided it was time to stop for the day. I got a bit of a late start - around 9:30 because Jean suggested I wait until after 9:00 for the morning traffic to ease. I guess it had eased, however it reminded me of driving around Boston, DC, Atlanta, etc - not my kind of driving!

I'm at the Roadrunner RV Park, site 0, in Johnson City - $25.00 for full hookups (with $3.00 off for Good Sams.) There are a couple of RV Parks along US 281 / 290, but the others said ...Resort & you know what I think of resorts. This place is just my style for a commercial campground. Everyone talks to each other, the facilities are clean, and while I'm not parked on a concrete slab, I do have clean gravel & shade.

There are mourning doves in the trees, ad they speak with a Texas accent (or mine speak with a NY accent, I don't know which). Anyway, I didn't recognize them by sound until I saw a couple in the tree next to my site. The trees are wonderfully shaped, and what the park owner calls "Ball Moss"(although she says it probably has an "official" name) hangs (and drops) from the branches. They have very solid, free WiFi - too bad I couldn't catch Karin in Botswana on Skype. Our time zones are too out of sync for afternoon chats.

There is a grocery store next to the campground as well as a Subway. I picked up some supplies for the next couple of days including some nice looking plums. There is also a good (according to the campground owner) Mexican restaurant across the street, but I think I'll do Subway - last night's meal was richer than my usual fare so I'm going to take it easy tonight.

I'm not sure how I'm going to continue across Texas - the campgrounds in the central & western parts of the state are few & far between, at least those on my AAA map. I can look up any towns I pass through in the AAA's new camping books - they are sub sets of the Woodall's Directories which I really don't like (I think I have already complained about them, but here I go again!) The problem is the Woodall books aim more for commercial campgrounds & are filled with ads for them. Quite difficult to find what you are looking for, at least compared to the old AAA books. On top of that over the last few days I've discovered another fault - they give directions to the campground (usually from an interstate) but no address. Makes it hard to punch the location into your GPS and near impossible to find if you are approaching on secondary roads.

So, the plan is to head west, starting on US 290 to US 87 and decide at San Angelo, TX whether I want to go on to the next town with a campground.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Woodlands, TX

Site 75, Rayford Crossing RV Resort



Monday, May 14 - Rayford Crossing RV Resort, Spring, TX - 195.5 Miles Today, 2,304.6 For the Trip

Well here I am in Texas. The plan was to stop in Jaspar & get a haircut, however I never found a barber shop there. I did finally stop & Google barber shops in Livingston, and got my hair cut at the Sports Clips. I guess it is a chain - they gave me a coupon for a 1/2 price cut at the next one.

I spent the rest of the day crawling along at 57 MPH on 70 MPH roads. I did remember to pull over to let people behind me pass. It seems to be a Texas thing - there is enough paving on the sides of the lanes to pull over & keep going while the driver behind you passes, even in a no passing section. You do have to keep your eyes on the road - the sides are where the "gators" collect & every once in awhile, the paved area disappears...

While the RV park I'm in is in Spring, I'm here to visit with Bob & Jean, my late wife Carol's sister & husband in The Woodlands, TX. I had a nice visit with them and a wonderful dinner - Thanks again for the steak & scallops, Bob!

After dinner it was back to the trailer & a late photo of site 75, a $45.00 full service pull through where my little trailer looks way out of place! I did get a Good Sam discount, although I paid $20.00 for the new Good Sam Membership. I'm not sure I will actually save the $20.00 in discounts at 10% off, but so far I'm $4.50 on the way.

Tomorrow I start the long haul across the rest of Texas, heading to Carlsbad, NM.

Till tomorrow.

Monday, May 14, 2012

South Toledo Bend State Park, LA

Site 16, South Toledo Bend State Park, LA

Monday, May 14 - South Toledo Bend State Park, LA - 207.1 Miles Today, 2,109.1 For the Trip

Another day spent traveling. You are even treated to another campground photo - the only one I took all day. Natchez was interesting, with some beautiful old buildings, but not the place to park with a trailer to take photographs. After crossing the Mississippi, I felt I was back in "old" territory. In 2005 I spent two weeks with the Red Cross based in Alexandria helping with the recovery after Hurricanes Katrina & Rita. In fact, as I crossed the bridge into Vidalia, LA I could see one of the buildings we worked in called Vidalia Landing. Looks like it is now a resort. I drove through many of the towns & parishes where we worked, including Leesville & Fort Polk, where I have different memories - I did my Advanced Infantry Training there prior to going to Viet Nam.

I eventually ended up for the night in site 16 in a LA park on the border with Texas. A nice looking, pull through site (although I didn't know they charged extra for a pull through) with water & electric. I'm glad for the electric - for the first time this trip I ran the AC. The outdoor thermometer says 96°F although I think that is because it was in the sun (but then, so was I.) In any case, it has now cooled off enough to go back to the fan.

I ate the rest of the salad & my last "Bubba" burger - I don't know if they sell them around here, but there are about the best frozen hamburgers I've eaten. Thanks to Bert for introducing them to me!

That's about it for the day. I hope to visit with my sister & brother in law tomorrow, depending on how far I get. I also need a haircut. I tried today, but for what ever reason, barber shops don't seem to be open on Mondays.

Actually, I do have an update. I just returned from an evening run (well, walk) to the bathroom. Now, having lived most of my life on Snake Swamp Road (Well, since the doctors, lawyers, etc have moved in the name has been changed to Lakeshore Road - no class at all!) I thought I knew what the night creatures sounded like next to water. I have to say the chorus here at the campground is wonderful! More variety than I've heard anywhere else. Great to fall to sleep to!

Till Tomorrow -

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Along the Natchez Trace, Day 2

The Old Natchez Trace

Sunday, May 13 -Natchez State Park, Natchez, MS - 280.3 Miles Today, 1902 For the Trip

I spent most of the day driving south on the Natchez Trace. A very pretty road, although is some ways it is like driving on the interstates, but slower. Actually, not that much slower - I usually drive at 58 MPH in the interstates, and on the Trace the speed limit is 50 MPH. I set the cruise control for 53 MPH and most people passed me. I say like the interstates in some ways because there isn't much variation while driving. Lots of pull offs - I took a couple of photographs of the old trace road, but most of the stops are just a sign at the location where something was - all you see is a wall of trees. They do have lots of bathroom stops as well, so it is a pleasant drive. Part of the Trace was closed, so I had a short hop on I 220 around Jackson, MS.

I stopped for the night at Natchez State Park, Site 46 in Campground B. Concrete pads, water & 20/30/50 amp electric. No sewer, but there is a dump station just up the road & the bathhouse is across the street. I'm doing laundry since there is a set of machines & they are only $1.00 each. I was planning to do laundry every two weeks, so I'm a bit early but why not.

I'm going to finish off the pork tenderloin & asparagus for dinner tonight. While it isn't raining (yet) it sure looks like it is about to start. I'm sure one way to force a downpour is for me to get out & fire up the grill! Besides, I'd say the pork is at the eat it or throw it stage...

Till Tomorrow -

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Along the Natchez Trace, MS

Cave Spring - Along the Natchez Trace, MS

Saturday, May 12 -Trace State Park, Tupelo MS - 180.2 Miles Today, 1621.7 For the Trip

I've missed gardening - I have a large vegetable garden in Oswego that I grow lots of squash, tomatoes, peppers, and about every other vegetable I can do in the climate, but because of traveling, haven't been able to do for the last two years. I got a chance to "dig in" yesterday - Cathy bought some tomato & pepper plants so we planted them. Have to say I like Oswego's soil better. Her garden is in the typical red clay soil in the area. Although she has worked stuff into it, I now really appreciate the rocky loam of my garden.

Another "new" thing - I met my first fire ant. Now I had always thought that they were big ants like our local carpenter ants. Well, they are only big by reputation. This little red ant crawled across my fingers & when it got squeezed between them I learned why they are called fire ants. Wow, I can't imagine what running into a nest of them must be like - it hurt!

I survived, the plants are in & for dinner I was treated to pizza at the Mellow Mushroom restaurant in Huntsville, an interesting place that serves hundreds of micro brews. Both the beer & the pizza were great.

This morning I headed for the Natchez Trace. I have always wanted to drive it, but wasn't planning to on this trip because I was heading to Florida after Cathy's. Since I'm running late, I decided to skip Cedar Key and head more directly to The Woodlands, TX to see my sister in law.

My GPS decided to take me off US 72 for a tour through many of Huntsville's housing developments, then back on US 72 after getting the other side of the city. I have a feeling the aviod highways setting is causing the problem, but only the GPS (and Garmin) knows.

I only made one stop on the upper part of the Trace to photograph Cave Spring, and reached Trace State Park around 12:45. I called Don, the person that wanted to look at the Escape, and he and Cheryl met me at the campsite in the park. It started to rain while they were there & we all reminisced about the joys of tenting in the rain. After they left the rain got heavier, but now (about 5:30) it has stopped. It did drive away the tenters in the site next to mine, but they left a smoky fire...

There are some more photos of the Cave Spring & the campsite at today's LakeshoreImages page. (By the way, the reservation through Reserve America worked fine, although the organization at the park is pretty basic. As I entered they gave me a sticker for the window and waved me on - no map, directions, instructions, etc.)

Time for thinking about dinner.  Till tomorrow -

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gurley, Alabama

The Cris Craft Restoration Project
I didn't have the heart to subject you to another campground photo, so here is one of Cathy's projects.


Friday, May 11 -Cathy's - Gurley, AL - 43.5 Miles Today, 1441.5 For the Trip

Another short drive. The morning shower at the Fairview Campground was interesting - 49°F and an unheated bathroom. At least there was hot water, once I figured out that turning the faucet all the way to hot produced cold water - nudging it back a little made hot. It is amazing how fast one can dry oneself in 49°F weather!

I'm overnighting at a friend's house in Gurley, AL. Cathy was one of my students back when I was teaching theatre, although she was a music major. She was also one of our baby sitters, and spent a vacation with us in Nantucket. After graduation, she went to New Mexico for a graduate degree in engineering, of course! Anyhow, she has worked for Boeing for the last 15 years, some of which was on the Dreamliner project. She moves back & forth between here & Washington state.

While in Washington, she lived in a floating boat house & on her restored Chris Craft boat. The boat is now in the back yard here in Gurley waiting for a second restoration after a crane dropped it in the process of unloading it after hauling it across the country. Cathy does always have a project!

The plan is to leave tomorrow for Tupelo & a campsite at the Trace Campground. I made a reservation using Reserve America. I know many hate the site, but so far (knock on wood) I've only had good luck with them, although I have to admit I don't make reservations all that often. One thing I like about the site is that they have a campground map of every place they do reservations. I often use it to preview a campground before pulling in (without reservations) to choose where I'd like to be. Anyway, I'll let you know tomorrow how well it worked out.

Til tomorrow -

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fairview Campground, Winchester, TN

Yes, We're Back to Campground Photos!

Thursday, May 10 - Fairview Campground, Winchester, TN - 191.5 Miles Today, 1398 For the Trip

For the start of my second week I spent most of the day driving down US 231. I took a short jog east on US 64 to get to the Fairview Campground in Winchester, TN. I'm in site 78, Water & Electric for $20.00. You have your choice of sun or shade - because it is fairly late in the day I chose sun - somewhat more level sites & less sap dripping on the trailer & car.

I did hear on the news that the man on our tour didn't make it. I feel for his wife & family, although it is the way I would prefer to go - traveling rather than days or months in a hospital bed.

Fairview Campground is part of the TN State Park system. The sites are nice, with about 1/2 of them on the lake. The campground host said the lake is lower than normal which is why there are so few campers. It looks like a great place to spend some time. While the campsites are nice (although 30 amps, so the big guys might complain) the bathrooms are a little rough. Clean, but old. You know, there are lots of sites that have reviews of campgrounds that include photographs of the sites; I think I should start one that has photographs of the bathrooms! There sure is a wide range, and the quality, shower stall size, cleanliness, etc doesn't always follow the cost of the campsite. Then again, I know many RVers don't ever use the bathrooms anyway so it would probably make more sense for a tenting web page. Sounds like too much work anyway! There are more photos of the campground (but not the bathrooms!) on today's LakeshoreImages page.

I'm going to grill a pork tenderloin for dinner. Far too much meat for one, but I'll be able to make sandwiches for a day or two so it will work. It may be a bit difficult - the Coleman grill is not the greatest at producing a low temperature setting; I'll have to keep a closer eye on it than on my home grill.

Well, the pork tenderloin was a success, along with fresh asparagus. Not bad for a camping meal.

Till Tomorrow -

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mammoth Cave National Park, KY

Mammoth Cave, KY

Wednesday, May 9 - Mammoth Cave National Park, KY - 9.2 Miles Today, 1206.5 For the Trip

Definitely the lowest daily mileage of the trip. I'm in site 13 at Mammoth Cave National Park campground - $8.50 with the old geezer pass (to be more exact, the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass). Beats last night a $36.00, although here there are no hookups. I don't really miss the hookups as long as I have meal plans that don't need the toaster oven, but there is also no Verizon data or WiFi available, at least at the campground. There is a pretty good AT&T signal so the iPhone is working. I did see a sticker stating WiFi was available at the visitor's center, so I'll try to post this after I process the cave photos after my tour.

The site is quiet, not too far from the bathrooms, and gets some sun for the solar panels. All in all, very nice.


I definitely need to stop wanting "interesting" tours. I had signed up for the 11:00 History Tour of the cave. I arrived at about 10:40 & there was a bus load of junior high school kids (maybe two bus loads - there were a lot of them!) Anyway, I thought about trying to trade in my ticket for the next tour, but a ranger came out and announced that they would break us into two groups, with the school group going first.

We started the tour about 15 minutes later with a great ranger. He had all kinds of stories about the cave, and the area, and told them well. Then the interesting part (and not "good" interesting). At the half way point there is a large amphitheater where everyone sits down for a break before the steep stair climbing to get out of the cave. Someone in the back row had what looked like a heart attack. The ranger called over the phone system for help, and for what seemed like the longest time we waited for help. There was a line of people doing CPR until the first ranger rescue team arrived. After that our guide stayed with the patient while a new ranger came to lead the rest of the group out of the cave. I hope he pulls through.

The cave is a "dry" cave, carved by water, however because the water is now running below the main cave level (most of the time) there are no stalactites or stalagmites in the sections we saw. You can certainly tell why it is called Mammoth - some of the rooms are bigger than many other caves.  More photos on today's post at LakeshoreImages.com.

After processing the photos I'm here at the visitor's center to post the pages.  Their network is a bit slow, but it gave me a way to post since there isn't any Verizon data coverage at the campsite. After that it is back to the campsite to make another "Bubba" burger for dinner.

Till next time -


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cave Country RV Campground, Site 16, Cave City, KY
I promise to have something more interesting that campground photos, at least for tomorrow!

Not too much in the way of mileage today - yesterday's stop wasn't all that far from the Mammoth Cave National Park. I'm in a commercial campground tonight since I want to try cooking my first "Personal Pan Pizza" and I need electricity for the toaster oven. Even the 1000 watt inverter can't deal with the 15 amps the Crusinart draws.

Yesterday ended with a mad dash to pack away the chair & fold the awning as a thunderstorm rolled in. It rained heavily for awhile, then off & on all night. Fog & drizzle on the drive to Cave City, but it cleared up nicely by 12:00 (which is now central time).

After setting up the trailer, I drove into the park. I was hoping to get a tour today, but all of the Historic tours, the one I wanted to take, were filled for the day. I made a reservation for tomorrow at 11:00. In a way that's good, because I wanted to stay in the National Park campground. Very pretty, shaded sites. I drove through on my way back from making the reservation for the tour & picked out a site that has a bit of sun (to keep the solar panels happy). The campground is almost empty - a few tents & RVs, but lots of open sites. I guess it is still early...

Anyway, the plan is to head over to the park in the morning (it is about 5 miles to the campground), set up the trailer & head to the tour. After that I'll explore some of the rest of the park.

I did dig out my camera GPS - when attached, it adds the location of the camera to the EXIF data attached to each image. If you have an EXIF viewer, you can see where I stood to photograph today's campground photo (only works with the large version of the image), at least if you look at the image at the LakeshoreImages.com page - Google strips out the EXIF info when images are transferred. Unfortunately, the signal from the satellites doesn't make it underground - no locations for tomorrow's cave photos ! I do have an extra photo for today - there is another fiberglass "egg" in the campground, a Casita a couple of sites down from me.

So, for the rest of the afternoon I'm waiting for the pizza dough to rise, and relaxing with a book. I'll let you know how it worked out.


Well I/m back. I have to say the pizza was OK, but not quite ready for prime time. First off, the dashboard of a warm car makes a great rising oven. In fact, almost too good - the dough was ready before I was. The toaster oven was set at 500°F, the same temperature I use at home in the standard oven. First problem - I use Crisco to keep the pizza from sticking to the pan. Since I didn't have any, I used olive oil. First, it made it very difficult to spread the dough, and second, it stuck!

As to cooking, it is usually done in 10 minutes in the full sized oven - in the toaster oven the top was done, but the dough could have used another 2-3 minutes. Not sure if changing the temperature will improve things; not even sure which way to go - up or down. I guess I'll still have to keep experimenting. By the way, for those interested, it is a vegtarian pizza - onions, mushrooms & peppers with my homemade sweet & sour tomato sauce that I developed for veal cutlet - works well on pizza.

Till Tomorrow!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kentucky Horse Farm Campground, Lexington, KY

Kentucky Horse Farm Campground, Site 245, Lexington, KY

Monday, May 7 - Lexington, KY - Kentucky Horse Farm Campground - 274.2 Miles Today, 1064.2 For the Trip

I can now add Kentucky to my list of visited states. The last time I was in the state was on out 1996 trip. The Kentucky Horse Farm is a huge complex, with the campground only a part. Even so, the campground is huge, as well - 260 developed sites plus a primitive area. My site is # 245, a nice location with some shade (which is good since it is hot today (I know, I complain about the cold or the heat - I just want it to be 75°F everywhere!

I have been sticking to the interstates, something I don't usually do, but the choices coming across West Virginia other than I 64 were limited. I hope to use US 68 to get to Mammoth Cave tomorrow. Other than that, not all that much going on today. I'm sitting in the shade of a Hickory tree & my awning waiting for things to cool off before making dinner.

Till Next Time!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stonewall Resort State Park, Roanoke, WV

Stonewall Resort State Park, Site 7

Sunday, May 6 -Roanoke, WV, Stonewall Resort State Park - 263.1 Miles, 790.0 For the Trip.

Another day, another couple of states. Nothing to add to my 2nd go round on my "States Visited Map" since I have allready hit all of today's on my fall trip last year. I have driven enough miles to be pretty sure I can determine how many MPG the addition of the tire on the roof & the Vero Mirrors have added - about .5. I do like having the mirrors. While the standard mirrors, combined with a large "blind spot" mirror on the driver's side & the back up camera on the trailer covered all that was behind or besides me, the Vero mirrors provide a better sized image a couple of 100' behind the trailer. At that distance the image in the back up camera is too small.

Anyway, I decided to stay in a state park to save a little over the cost of private campgrounds. It didn't work. AAA lists the Briar Point Campground as a state park, however it is part of Stonewall Resort State Park, and you know what "Resort" means - more money! I did get a senior discount so it was only $38.16 for the night. So much for saving money! It is a very pretty site - right on the lake, near by clean bathrooms, and unlike other resorts I've camped in, the utilities are in the right place & it has a picnic table:


The View From My Back Window

The Utilities Are In the Right Place!
I did get a chance to stop at a grocery store & pick up some of the stuff I hadn't brought with me because of the refrigerator problems (which don't seem to be a problem), although I still have not been able to regulate the temperature - either too warm or now, too cold. I'm ignoring it! Anyhow, dinner tonight will be left over rice, a "Bubba" Burger & salad. Right now (at 3:00) I'm sitting out under the awning in 75°F sunshine on the edge of a lake. Almost like home, but the lake is a bit smaller!

Until Next Time!

Stonewall Resort, Roanoke, WV, Site 7
Utilities in the Right Place!
The View From the Back Window


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bellefonte / State College PA KOA

Bellefonte / State College KOA, Site 34

Saturday, May 5 - Bellefonte, PA KOA - 291.6 Miles, 526.9 For the Trip.

I've finally managed to get out of NY. One difference - the price of gas. Although I never thought I'd be glad to pay $3.99 for a gallon of gas, that is what it is down to at my usual station in Oswego. Here in PA, the price was $3.83 just across the border, and as low as $3.64 along the way.The route today was I81 to NY17 to US220. Matilda (the lady of the GPS) decided I should take US6 for a number of miles before getting back on US220; not sure why, but I'm here so it worked.

Sure am glad to actually be "on the trip." While I'm counting the miles to Don & Anne's (and back), a visit with them is normal, not a trip. In any case I'm starting out at one of the campgrounds I like to call the McDonalds of camping. KOAs are more expensive than many others, but you almost always know exactly what you are going to get. I guess I could have looked for something less expensive, but after driving almost 300 miles I'm tired of the road.

They do have a fast WiFi internet connection, which is good because my cell phone connection is crawling.

Tonight is $33.30 (with the membership I purchased on the last trip). Nothing special, but a site with hookups which is nice if it gets cold tonight. Right now it is quite pleasant - 69°F, cloudy & looking a little like rain. 

Of course I do have a campground photo - I always start out saying I'm going to take one at every stop, but rarely make it through a trip without missing one or more. We'll see. Nothing much in the way of "Scenic" photos. While it is spring, I haven't seen much in the way of flowers or other springtime pictures. A couple of interesting barns, but no where to stop to take a photo. I'm sure more opportunities will come along.

I didn't bother to unhook the trailer so dinner will be something from the freezer. Probably a good idea - it is overstuffed since I didn't want to leave stuff at home that Kyle probably wouldn't eat. I do miss a larger freezer. I would have brought some of last season's blueberries for a pie (I did make a "secret ingredient" dry mix to make one on the road from fresh berries) but they are going to have to wait until I get back in the fall.

I did discover one "disaster" - I left my current book at home, so I'm not going to find out what happened to Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford & Crew in their latest adventure for 5 months unless I buy another copy on the trip. I'm glad I just started it - if I was at critical point I'd be going nuts! I've got plenty of replacement books, at least for awhile.

Until Next Time - 


Friday, May 4, 2012

Huh?

Tonight's Campground?

Well, this is certainly not where I expected to be tonight! I mentioned in the previous post the refrigerator was doing great in the freezer, but the main section wasn't cooling. I hoped it would settle down overnight, however by morning it was only down to 45°F. So, rather than fight with it for the entire trip I went back to Camping World in Syracuse. Got there around 9:30 - they felt sorry for me and put the trailer in the shop immediately. At least I didn't have to wait for half a week like last time.

They ran it on AC & gas & it worked. Opened the door until it hit 50°F, closed the door and 2 hours later (on AC or gas) it was down to 40°F. I was on a slight slant in Binghamton (half a bubble which has not caused problems in the past) and at Camping World it was a greater slant. About the only difference was they measured the temperature with a thermometer stuck in a glass of water. I can't do that with my digital thermometer (tried that last summer when it slid into the drip pan under the fins & it went "pouf".) According to Camping World, measuring in water is the Dometic approved method. Sure wish they had found something wrong, but it looks like I'm going to do my best to live with it.

So, since by the time we finished it was 3:00, rather than heading out I drove back to Oswego. My son is sure going to be surprised to see the trailer in the driveway when he gets home from work!

I don't quite trust the thing, particularly since the flame still blows out when driving over 50MPH,so I'm doing what I did last summer - keeping a piece of block ice in a tray on one of the upper shelves. That helped quite a bit on hot days and it is almost 80°F here.

By the way I left out something from yesterday's posting - I dropped off one of my Mom's paintings for Anne. She loves my mom's work (which sold quite well in the India Street Gallery on Nantucket) and I have another version of the same painting of the Brant Point Lighthouse (except mine has a couple of people in it & is covered with a "patine" of 20 years of my parent's cigarette smoke - I don't know if that is good or bad since they both died from smoking related causes, but I don't have the heart to get it cleaned). Anyway, this is the view you see leaving Nantucket on the ferry, and we have been visiting my family there for years, so I thought she would appreciate it - she did!

Some day I plan to photograph & build a web page of as many of Jocelyn's paintings as I can still locate.  She worked for many years before raising our family, and went back to painting between 1960 when she passed away in 1996.

Brant Point Lighthouse - Oil by Jocelyn Vermilye


Back to the trip - I really do plan to get going in the morning.

Till Tomorrow -

Thursday, May 3, 2012

1st Night - Don & Anne's

Thursday, May 3 - Binghamton, NY - 114 Miles, 114 For the Trip.

Well, I'm off on another trip. Unfortunately, I'm getting started a few weeks later than planned. My refrigerator died - see the "Waiting for Parts" links at my Lakeshoreimages.com page. That's now water under the bridge & I'm actually underway.

This time I get to start out with the trailer rather than make a 3000 mile trip just to get to it. I've finished a bunch of trailer modifications, finished all my doctor, dentist, etc appointments, have the trailer & RAV4 packed, and am finally ready to go. Like all my trips the route, schedule, and just about everything is pretty flexible. I'm starting out heading south this time rather than directly across the country.

I want to see a couple of places in Florida, have a stop scheduled in Texas, and want to see some of New Mexico before I head back to Arizona & Utah. Eventually I do have to get to Oregon for a Fiberglass trailer meet in mid July, but that is the only firm date so far.

I made it to Binghamton; so far I don't think I forgot anything - in fact, I'm sure. I have probably overpacked, as usual. As to the refrigerator, the freezer is working fine - down to -7°F but the main section seems to have the same problem it had all last summer - it is too warm. 42°F at the moment. I'll have to keep an eye on it - it is possible it is still blowing out the flame while driving since is was down to 36°F when I left this morning.

Anyhow, I'm at Don & Anne's for the night . It will be a bit strange sleeping in a bed the first night out, but why not?

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Refrigerator is Getting Cold!

Spring Crocus
I arrived at Camping World at 7:50 this morning, and was the first one in the shop.  It took a bit longer than they thought but at 1:00 I was on my way home with a refrigerator that was cooling.  The main section is just starting to cool, but the freezer is down to 12°F and falling.  I know the main section doesn't start to cool until the freezer settles, so things are looking good.

I finished packing food, cameras, and everything but the stuff for the fridge (you know, I think I said that a couple of days ago, but there always seems to be last minute stuff). Time to cancel the newspaper, and make final decisions on where I'm going.  My first stop will be in Binghamton to visit with my often times traveling companions, Don & Anne.  After that I'm heading towards Mammoth Cave National Park, but will need to find a couple of stops along the way.

So, it looks like I'll start daily postings.  I don't expect too much in the way of daily photos for awhile, at least until I get to Mammoth Cave, but you never know!

Till next time -