Saturday, October 31, 2015

Valley of Fires, Day 3 & Bosque del Apache, NM

Sandhill Cranes in Flight
Saturday, October 31, 2015, Valley of Fires BLM Campground, NM, Day 3, 0 Miles, 2,696.6 Miles for the Trip

Happy Halloween. No Trick or Treaters at the trailer yet. I did buy some candy, but I have to admit that I haven't seen any kids in the place. At least I picked out candy that I like (with the exception of Snickers).

Since it was a nice but cool (37°F at 7:00AM) morning, I went for a walk through the lava field in the valley below the trailer. Some interesting formations, but if you are into exploring lava, I suggest a stop at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. More variety, including lava tubes you can walk through, although the campground is dry camping. Anyhow there are a few photos as well as one from a short hike to the highest point in the park & a view of the section of the campground with hookups.

After that I drove 65 miles to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Good roads, although don't follow a GPS to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife area. It takes you on a "interesting" ride through narrow hard packed (thank goodness) sand roads to the middle of nowhere. I did get a fall photo & an interesting building on the way.

After exploring 8 miles of sand roads, I got back on US 380 & NM 1 to the visitor center of the refuge. My Senior Passport got me into the loop drive for free & I took a bunch of photos of waterfowl, including a small flock of Sandhill Cranes. I love seeing them in flight - probably posted too many flying images, but you can find them and more at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that it was back to the campground, about an hour of reading, then cooking a frozen Orange Chicken dinner. I had to modify the instructions since I don't have a microwave to do the rice package (I steamed it) and I didn't thaw the sauce under running water (that would fill my holding tank) but it all worked. Not my usual brand, but pretty good. Of course I tossed the bag before eating, so I have no idea what brand it was.

Until Next Time -

Friday, October 30, 2015

Valley of Fires BLM Campground, NM, Day 2

The Start of a Sunset
Friday, October 30, 2015, Valley of Fires BLM Campground, NM, Day 2, 0 Miles, 2,696.6 Miles for the Trip

The first day in awhile I didn't have to hit the road. Around 10:30 I did anyway. The weather looked nasty, so I decided it would be a good day to do laundry. I also discovered that a couple of hinges on my bathroom door were broken, so I wanted to find some replacements. So, 0 miles on the trailer, but around 70 on the RAV4.

The nearest town, Carrizozo doesn't have a laundromat or a hardware store, so it was off to Ruidoso about 35 miles to the south. A few hills on the way; I got up to 7500' on the way, but not a bad drive. I found an almost empty laundromat, and the local Ace Hardware had hinges that looked to be an exact replacement (a different color, but I wanted to replace all of them anyway). Of course I needed 3, and they came in packages of 2. I also stopped at one of the local grocery stores to pick up a few things. Still have not been able to find Turkey Bubba burgers. I know they make them since I can find them on their website, but no luck so far on the trip. Ruidoso is fairly quiet, but looks like a ski town that is probably busier in the winter.

Not much to add in the way of photos, but I took a couple back at the campground. It looked like there was going to be an interesting sunset, but the heavy clouds pretty much killed it. Do note that some of the white color on the mountains in the first photo is not clouds, but that dirty word - snow! Glad it is up there, and not here on the roads. It is suppose to get down into the mid 30's tonight but warm up tomorrow. Check today's LakeshoreImages page for the "Snow" photo. By the way, this seems to be an attractive campground for fiberglass trailers. While the Casita on top of the hill left this morning, another one arrived around dinner time.

Dinner was a couple of chicken burritos & a cucumber & tomato salad.

Until Next Time -

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Valley of Fires BLM Campground, NM

Valley of Fires Recreation Area, NM
Thursday, October 29, 2015, Valley of Fires BLM Campground, NM, 157.5 Miles, 2,696.6 Miles for the Trip

Very light rain on the drive today. Most spent on US 380, a mix of four lane & two lane road, much with fresh, smooth pavement. I stopped for the afternoon at the Valley of Fires BLM campground. I'm glad I got here around 12:00. While early, there was only 2 electric sites left. Even most of the non electric sites are filled. I grabbed Site 6, a pull through (well, pull along side) & filled out the paperwork. Not all that level - I used the full height of the Anderson leveler & had to use the full height of the electric tongue jack (including my usual 2"X6" slab). I'll be here for the weekend, leaving Sunday. Three days at $9.00 per day with the Senior Pass discount for a water & electric site. There is a bathroom nearby with hot showers.

There is an Escape 19 parked next to my site. After they returned from a day of exploring, I discovered it was owned by a couple I met at other rallies. Small world! There is also another fiberglass trailer (a Casita) further up the hill from our sites.

I had to stop at this campground. I've had more than one conversation with fellow campers, both of us talking about Valley of Fire campground and discovering that we are each talking about a different place. In my case it was the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, but this is the one others have often described. I wish it was a better weekend to visit - it is raining right now and a bit cool at 56°F. Unfortunately, the predictions are not for much on an improvement while I'm here. Still, the views from my site are great. Mountains out my driver's side window & the valley full of lava on the right. If the weather settles it looks like there are some nice hikes among the lava flows. I'd add a photo of the mountains, but they have disappeared in the fog/cloud cover. Maybe tomorrow.

It is now 4:45PM, and down to 52°F. I'm not sure what dinner will be, but it will be something cooked in the toaster oven indoors. The trailer could use the heat, and it is still pouring outside.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Brantley Lake State Park, NM

Brantley Lake, NM
Wednesday, October 28, 2015, Brantley Lake State Park, NM, 156.9 Miles, 2,539.1 Miles for the Trip

I took a photo of the moon rise over the campground last night. That & today's site photo are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Spent most of the day driving west on US 180. At the New Mexico border I hit Mountain Time so I feel like it is an hour later than what is on the clock.

I had an interesting oops - My windshield wipers were streaking & getting old, so I picked up a new set at the Hobbs, NM Walmart. I've had good & bad luck with wiper blades, but can never remember which were the best, so I picked out a set in the middle price range. I put them on the RAV4 & headed out. About 50 miles outside of town I tried the wipers, and they left huge streaks in the window. So bad you couldn't drive. There was another Walmart in Carlsbad, near the park, but I had already thrown out the packaging. I did have the sales slip, so I decided to try and trade them in for another brand. When I went to take them off the wiper arms I noticed that there was a hard plastic cover on the blades. Duh! I slipped the covers off & they worked wonderfully. At least I didn't take them into the store with the covers on...

I stopped for the afternoon at Brantley State Park. There is no one in the office or at the gate, in fact the visitor center is closed. They have self registering at the campground. A surprising number of RVs in the place for the middle of the week. I found a water & electric site (Site 32) for $14.00. Level enough that I don't have to unhook or use any wheel leveling.They have some full hook up sites in the reservable section, however currently sites 1-15 do not have electricity.  Overall, a nice park for a great price.

I took a walk around the campground, checked out the showers (clean & they even have shower curtains) and sat & read for much of the afternoon. There are many birds running through the campground. Quail, Mourning Doves, even a Roadrunner. I didn't get any photos since I didn't have the camera with me while reading, but they were fun to watch. It was warm enough in the sun, but as the clouds came in & the wind picked up I finally gave up sitting outside.

After a nice, warm shower, I grilled my last Bubba Burger, steamed some broccoli, and added a few potato chips for dinner.

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

La Vedera RV Park, Lamesa, TX

Site 105, La Vedera RV Park, Lamesa, TX
Tuesday, October 27, 2015, La Vedera RV Park, Lamesa, TX , 245.3 Miles, 2382.2 Miles for the Trip

A much longer drive today. I decided not to wait until the barber shop in Wichata Falls opened, but try for one in Lamesa, my planned stop for the night. Lamesa is spelled as one word on the maps & signs around town - all the others I've seen around the US are La Mesa or LaMesa.

I am in site 105 at the La Vedera RV Park, my first commercial RV park of the trip. Mostly long term RVs, but there are a few open sites close to the office. While it is nice to have full hookups for only $25.00 (with a $5.00 Good Sam discount) there are no bathrooms or showers, a minus since I did find a barber (another Viet Nam vet from my era) so I have lots of fine hairs itching my neck. I'll shower in the trailer after dinner.

Speaking of dinner, I stopped at Claiborne's Bakery-Deli for some supplies. The fried chicken looked edible, so I ordered two legs & two thighs. I guess the deli operator couldn't tell the difference between thighs & breasts - I got two breasts, a good deal at thigh prices, but since I prefer dark meat, not so good for me. Of course I didn't discover the mistake until I was back at the trailer.

It is quite warm - 85°F around 2:30. I suspect it will cool off tonight since I spent the day gaining altitude (now at almost 3000'). Also drove into a 25 MPH headwind; the combination dropped my MPG average .2. I'm now down to 13.5. I miss my previous 15MPG average!

Sorry to be back to campsite only photos, but not much interesting went by today.  Hope things improve in the future.

Until Next Time -

Monday, October 26, 2015

Lake Arrowhead State Park, TX

A Prairie Dog
Monday, October 26, 2015, Lake Arrowhead State Park, TX , 119.8 Miles, 2,136.9 Miles for the Trip

A short drive today, but I had read good reviews about Lake Arrowhead State Park, so I decided to stop. I first drove to Wichata Falls to get a haircut, but evidently, Mondays are the weekday the barber shops are closed. I'll try again on the way out of the park tomorrow.

I'm in site 41, a water & electric site for $23.00. It is $10.00 less expensive than last night; not sure why. It is a bit older, but still a nice park. One reason may be the oil well in the next loop (sites 19 - 24) pays part of the bills. I included a link to a YouTube video I made of the pump running. It is powered by a 1 cylinder gas or natural gas engine that reminds me of an old John Deere tractor. About the only complaint I read about the park must have been from someone staying in that loop that didn't like the sound of the engine. Have to admit it could get annoying parked too close to it.

There are Prairie Dogs here in the park, with a number of them in the center of my loop. Fun to watch, but I sure wouldn't want them digging up my lawn. I have enough problems at home with Chipmunks. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Nice an warm today. The shower vent dried out enough that I could run a serious bead of caulking around it. Hope that will solve the leak problem. I spent the rest of the day sitting in my chair reading and enjoying the sunshine.

Dinner will be a bit late since I had a late lunch. It will be a grilled chicken sandwich & the rest of the Grandma Brown's Sauce Pan beans, with an ice cream cone for dessert.

Until Next Time -

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ray Roberts Lake State Park, TX

Site 41, Walnut Loop, Ray Roberts Lake State Park, TX

Sunday, October 25, 2015, Ray Roberts Lake State Park, TX, 193.5 Miles, 2017.1 Miles for the Trip

I'm glad the rain has finally stopped. It rained all night, continuing into the morning while I was packing up. I don't mind a day or two of rain, but when it goes on for 3 days it gets a bit much in a 17' box. While the rain was very light for most of the time, all the sites I've been in during it have been covered with trees. That breaks up the soft, soothing patter of steady light rain, and creates "splocks" (is that a word; if not, it should be since that is what they sound like, but my spell checker can't find it) of big drops that crash down on the trailer when ever the wind shakes the leaves. Easier to sleep when the trailer is out in the open and the rain is steady.

In any case, the rain stopped around 11:00 AM while on the road. I spent most of the drive on US 82 heading west, and stopped for the night at a Texas State Park; Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Johnson Branch Unit. I'm in site 41 in the Walnut loop. Texas parks are expensive unless you have a park pass, not worth it unless you are going to do more than 2 weeks in Texas parks. $33.00 for a water & electric site. Fairly level, close to very clean bathrooms, in short, a very nice site, but the most expensive I've paid so far on the trip.

I spent the afternoon sitting outside in my camp chair enjoying the dry weather. Still lots of clouds, but I can see pieces of blue sky. Unfortunately, around 5:00 the wind picked up a bit & with the clouds hiding the sun, it is a bit cool to sit out. I gave up & grilled a couple of kielbasas along with part of the last can of Grandma Browns Saucepan beans for dinner.

Until Next Time -

Clear Springs Campground, Wright Patman Lake, TX

Site E10, Clear Spring Campground
Saturday, October 24, 2015, Clear Springs Campground, Wright Patman Lake, TX, 175.8 Miles, 1823.6 Miles for the Trip

Another wet day. It rained all night, all morning, and all the way to the campground. While a shorter drive than yesterday, it felt longer since all of it was in the rain. I'm in another Army Corps of Engineer's campground, Site E10, a full hookup site for $13.00 with the Senior Passport card. As you can see from the site photo, there are puddles around the site, however, the pad is dry (well, maybe not dry, but not under water like yesterday's pad). The bathrooms are fairly close, and the showers are nice & hot. While clean, the water runs out into the dressing area making getting dressed an interesting dance. The closest town is Texarkana, TX.

Sorry there haven't been anything in the way of interesting photos over the last couple of days, but all I've seen are wet campgrounds so scenic photos are going to have to wait. They may be waiting awhile. While the area really needs the rain, they will be getting it. No sign of clearing until at least Monday, by which time the leftovers of Hurricane Patricia will probably reach me.

Again, this will probably be a "tomorrow" post - while I can read my mail and look at a few RV forums, the connection is too slow to upload pages.

Dinner will be soup cooked inside.

Until Next Time -

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tar Camp, Corps of Engineers, Pine Bluff, AR

Site D1, Tar Camp, Pine Bluffs, AR
Friday, October 23, 2015, Tar Camp, Corps of Engineers, Pine Bluff, AR, 202.8 Miles, 1647.8 Miles for the Trip

I got an early start, heading down US 61 to US 49 to cross the Mississippi, then on to US 79 south to Pine Bluffs, Arkansas.  I always enjoy crossing the Mississippi.  While it isn't always 1/2 way to my destination, it feels like it.

The Tar Camp is a bit north of Pine Bluffs. Like most Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, it is along a river or lake (in this case the Arkansas River). I'm in site D1, a pull through with water & electric for $9.50 using the Senior Pass. I'm doing pretty well so far on this trip - average camping cost is $16.36 per night. I suspect that will go up when I hit areas where I'll be using commercial campgrounds, but I prefer the more rustic state, national & COE parks.

It rained most of the drive, including while I was setting up the campsite. I just stopped for a bit so I'll go out and take the campsite photo. Since it still lightly raining, I didn't wait for the camera GPS to find the satellites, so unlike most of my campsite photos, the large photo EXIF data doesn't show the location. For those interested, my Ultimate Campground app shows the campground at 34.450065, -92.111506.

I have a minor leak in the bathroom vent. I tried re caulking the hairline cracks around the vent; hope that fixes the problem. It isn't a real problem since it drips into the shower floor, but on the way it falls on the toilet, which will be annoying in the middle of the night (the weather prediction is for rain tonight & all day tomorrow)!

Because of the rain, dinner is going to be something cooked inside. Either soup if I'm lazy, or something in the toaster oven if I want to dig it out and decide it is cool enough. Right now it is 73°F in the trailer...

Until Tomorrow -

Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, TN

Site 21, Meeman-Shelby State Forest, TN
Thursday, October 22, 2015, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, TN, 246.1 Miles, 1445 Miles for the Trip

Boy, Tennessee is a long state, at least east to west. This is the first time I've driven the length of it; I usually cross in a north to south direction. I'm neat Memphis, and just about done with I40. The plan is to set the GPS for no highways & take my time along US 79 to US 82 into Texas. I'm not sure how far I'll get, but I'm far enough south that I hope the freezing nights are over for awhile.

I'm in the Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park northeast of Memphis, site 21. The sites are paved, all have picnic tables, grills (no fires - a fire ban is current) and lots of leaves on the ground. A very quiet park (although there a bit of air traffic, probably because of the nearby navy support base). An Electric & water site for $16.39, again with Tennessee's 25% senior discount. By the way, after November 1st, the senior discount becomes 50%. Quite a deal, particularly since it applies to out-of-state travelers. The restrooms & showers are better than those at Cedars of Lebanon, but not as nice as the individual bathrooms at Panther Creek. Still, a nice, clean hot shower. By the way, if you are heading for this park, don't rely on your Garmin GPS. It takes you on the long, curvy way into the park. Call for better directions.

While all of the Tennessee State Parks I've visited are very nice, quiet, rural locations, the last two didn't have usable Verizon cell coverage. While I see a 3G signal here a bit stronger than yesterday's, there is no data connection. There is also no AT&T coverage without an amplifier here at Meeman-Shelby. I guess that is what you get for a nice, quiet country location. I'll stop somewhere tomorrow to post this page.

I had another big lunch - I discovered Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwiches at McDonalds, although the first one a couple of days ago was wonderful, today's was only fair. In any case, I'm still full from lunch, so it will be cheese & crackers a bit later.

Until next time -

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cedars of Lebanon State Park, TN

Site 34, Cedars of Lebanon State Park, TN
Wednesday, October 21, 2015, Cedars of Lebanon State Park, TN, 221.1 Miles, 1198.9 Miles for the Trip

Another fairly boring drive along I 40. Some areas have pretty nice Fall color, but it was the interstate. The excitement for the day was a short backup at a single lane work zone on I40, and setting my clock back one hour. It is always nice to hop a time zone on the way west. Gives you the feeling that you are "getting there". I could have taken US 70 for some of the drive; in fact, I did for the end of the drive, but my GPS showed it taking far too long a drive to arrive during the afternoon. The original plan was to stay at Cedar Creek, an Army Corps of Engineers campground. It looked very nice, but unfortunately, it was closed for the season.

So I drove on to my second choice, Cedars of Lebanon State Park. While no problem for me with my tiny trailer, the trees make getting in & out of many of the sites difficult, or, in some cases, impossible. I feel a little guilty - the site they assigned to me would be easy for a large RV towing a vehicle. That is exactly was assigned to a site two down from me with a tree blocking both the entrance & exit. They were able to change to the one next to me that has a little more room, but my site didn't have a tree at the entrance of exit.

I doubt I'll be able to post this. Although the AT&T signal is fairly good, Verizon shows a -109db 4G/LTE signal, pretty much unusable, at least for posting photos or pages.

Dinner will be a couple of chicken thighs and snap peas.

Until Later -

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Panther Creek State Park, TN

Site 9, Panther Creek State Park, TN
Tuesday, October 19, 2015, Panther Creek State Park, TN, 256.3 Miles, 977.8 Miles for the Trip

Much warmer this morning - 29°F and no frost to scrape off the RAV4. I left Babcock State Park around 9:00 AM & spent most of the day on interstates. I stopped for the afternoon around 2:00 at Panther Creek State Park in Tennessee. A very nice park, although fairly crowded for the beginning of the week. I'm in site 9, a water & electric site for $17.21, including a 25% senior discount.

The bathrooms are very nice, clean individual rooms, each with a handicapped shower. I've complained about cold bathrooms on the earlier part of the trip. Here, I can almost complain about how overheated they are. There is a non thermostat electric heater in each bathroom, and it sure keeps the room warm! Have to admit it felt good getting out of the shower, and the fan on the heater was powerful enough to work as a hair dryer (not that I have all that much to dry).

They have a 1 washer/1 dryer laundry room that is $.75 per machine so I did a load. I should say I started one - one of the individuals using it keeps running the dryer over and over again while the rest of us pile up our wet laundry. I hope my turn in the dryer comes up before dark!

I had a big lunch today, so I don't think I'll be making anything big for dinner. Maybe some cheese & crackers or such.

Until tomorrow.

Babcock State Park, WV

The Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park, WV
Monday, October 18, 2015,Babcock State Park, WV, 168.9 Miles, 721.5 Miles for the Trip

Last night was COLD. The outside temperature was 23°F when I woke up at 6:00AM. Even with the electric heater going full blast it was down to 60°F in the trailer. I was warm enough under the blanket, but sure wanted to stay in bed. I turned on NPR, listened to Morning Edition, and eventually I got up around 8:00, made breakfast & spent 10 minutes scraping frost off the windows and mirrors on the RAV4. Most of the drive today was on I 81, I 64, and a very curvy & hilly 9 mile section of US 60 just west of Rainelle. Every time I pass through Rainelle, I remember my GPS directed "adventure" on my first trip to Babcock State Park. Sure glad I wasn't pulling the trailer!

The Babcock State Park campground is first come this time of year, and there is no problem finding a site - there are 4-5 trailers in the park. I'm a bit distant from the bathrooms, but I don't mind since they are unheated, and still are holding the chill from last night. I was planning a shower, but it is going to be in the trailer.

After setting up I drove to the Glade Creek Grist Mill, one of the major attractions in the park. It is a reconstructed grist mill in a beautiful location. While there is a touch of color, unfortunately, when I got there the sun was pretty much full into the camera lens. Any distance shots had quite a bit of flare. There is also very little water going through Glade Creek. I will go back after dinner when the sun has set, and hope for better lighting; can't do much about the low water level.

I had to include a couple of photos of an interesting awning light at my neighbor's trailer. Made from a white 5 gallon with a 40 watt compact fluorescent lamp. Simple, but very effective. Those & more photos of the grist mill at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I'm afraid that you won't get to see this post until tomorrow. While there is a 1X Verizon connection in the campground, and it let me check my mail, even read a couple of RV forums, it won't upload photos or even post a reply to a forum article. There is also a "Babcock Guest" WiFi, however the password the campground office gave me doesn't work. So, posting will have to wait until I find a connection! (I found one at the New River Gorge Visitor Center.  I missed Bridge Day last Saturday)

Dinner will be a chicken pot pie.

Until tomorrow.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Natural Chimneys County Park, VA

Natural Chimneys County Park, VA
Sunday, October 17, 2015, Natural Chimneys County Park, VA, 162.9 Miles, 552.6 Miles for the Trip

I got a fairly early start (for me) & left Greenbelt around 8:30. While far busier than I'd like, the interstate traffic around DC on a Sunday morning wasn't too bad. Things eventually thinned out on I66, and got to normal when I hit I81.

I almost drove all the way to Babcock State Park in West Virginia, but it was over 300 miles, and I decided that was a bit more than I wanted to do. I stopped at a park I've been to before - Natural Chimneys County Park near Solon, VA. The park has many tent sites, many 30 amp trailer sites, and a few 50 amp sites with full hookups. I'm in B8, although I'm registered in A13, the site number on the electrical hookup. On the way back from the office I discovered that the other side of the power pedestal is labeled B8, the side I'm actually on. I don't think it will matter since there are over 100 sites and only about 10 RVs in the place, and no open reservations.

The name of the park comes from some rock formations that look like natural chimneys. While I've posted a few photos of them before, I needed the walking exercise (they are at the other end of the campground) and did them again on this trip. On the way I passed the host site. They had just purchased the retro trailer parked behind the Mustang the last time I was here, and it looks like they have done a great job of fixing it up. The Mustang doesn't look too bad either. They are definitely ready for Halloween, complete with a haunted house, sound effects, moving ghouls, etc. Quite the project! More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I do remember the park's Verizon coverage. While it shows as 4G LTE on the MiFi, it is quite slow. Still, it works, and having electricity for the first time is great. It is going down to 28°F tonight, so the electric heat will be appreciated, And I will be able to bake a burrito for dinner in the toaster oven.

Until tomorrow.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Picnic & The Goddard Space Flight Center

Picnic at the Campsite
Friday, October 16, 2015, Greenbelt National Park, MD, Day 2, 0 Miles, 389.7 Miles for the Trip

Brian, Karin & the grandkids came out to the campsite for a picnic lunch. We built a fire, but didn't have any S'Mores makings. Still, the kids had fun & it was nice for keeping warm. It was pretty cold when the sun wasn't out, which was most of the day.

After lunch, we went to the Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor Center. About 5 miles from the campground, although the GPS directions takes you to the main gate of the center, not the visitor center. Anyhow, we got there, and found it interesting. Lots of information about the space program, including lots about the Hubble Space Telescope. My favorite part was the "Science on a Sphere" exhibit. Both interesting for the presentations, but, of course, for a retired theatre technician, even more interesting in the physical device. Great use of synchronized projectors and an effective device! Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that we went back to the house, made a short stop at the Tacoma DC Library book sale (I was good and only bought 4) then sat around & read, played with the kids, and finally finished up with Mahi Mahi sandwiches for dinner.

Until tomorrow.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Greenbelt National Park, MD

Site D130, Greenbelt National Park, MD
Friday, October 16, 2015, Greenbelt National Park, MD, 223.4 Miles, 389.7 Miles for the Trip

Well, not as nice a drive as Wednesday's through the changing clolr on secondary roads since much was on interstates, and the tail end in DC traffic on I 95 & the Loop, but I'm here. I even made it down the 18%, 2 mile grade with the trailer. I included a photo of the sign at the top of the hill which you can see at today's LakeshoreImages post.

Every time I drive in the DC area it reminds me how much I like the quiet roads in upstate NY (and much of the West as well). Five lanes of stop & go traffic and a 2 mile back up behind an accident (thankfully in the other direction) in the middle of the afternoon...

I'm in site D130, a roadside site that just fits the trailer & the RAV4. It gets some sun for the solar panels, and isn't too far from the bathroom (with hot showers, unusual for National Parks). Of course, it is also unusual to find a wooded campground in the middle of the DC area; it is a pretty location.  Mostly empty, in fact they have the "C" loop closed.

After setting up the trailer I drove to Karin's new house in Tacoma Park. 9.5 miles away, and about a 20 minute drive at 2:30. I played with the grandkids, talked and did a bunch of catching up. Since I wanted to get back before dark, I left at 6:00. It took 50 minutes to get back to the campground! Since I didn't take a site photo before I left, I did it in the almost dark with an ISO of 2500. Almost looks like daylight unless you notice the light in the trailer window.

Since I had lots of cheese & crackers at Karin's, dinner was simple - a turkey sandwich & chips.

Until tomorrow.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ricketts Glen State Park, Day 2

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA
Thursday, October 15, 2015, Ricketts Glen State Park, PA, Day 2, 0 Miles, 166.3 Miles for the Trip

As I mentioned in an update to yesterday's post, I found a location at the bottom of the 18%, 2 mile hill between the park & Red Rock where there is good cell service, so I should be able to post this page tonight.

Very cold last night; it was 32°F at 7:00AM. I set the thermostat in the trailer for 55°F to take the chill off, but conserve the batteries. As of 11:30, I'm down 18 amp hours, but the sun has come over the trees & the solar panels are putting out around 8 amps. As long as the clouds hold off, I should be recharged by the end of the day.

The bad part about the clear skies is they make photographing the falls & streams difficult. The contrast between the sunlit and shadows is too wide for good images. I'll still try to make a run down the east side of the waterfall area this afternoon.

Before adding the photos for today, I am making a shoe report. For those that like to walk along or even in streams and waterfalls, shoes or boots with non-slippery soles are pretty important. While my first hiking boots (a pair of Timberlines) were comfortable & wore well, they made walking on wet rocks like ice skating. My next set of boots was a pair of Hi Tek, inexpensive, and pretty good on wet surfaces. Of course you had to watch for wet roots & algae, but they did pretty well. I eventually wore them out & replaced them with a pair of Vasque boots. While better than the Timberline, not as good as the Hi Tek. Today I wore a pair of Merrell Continuum hiking sneakers. While they have higher sides than many sneakers, they don't provide the support that a leather boot does. Another problem is the padding is separating between the outer shell & the inside lining, making for uncomfortable lumps in the sides. However, they are the best "wet rock" shoes I've worn. Much better than any of the boots. The interesting thing about all this is all 4 pairs have Vibram soles!

Back to today's hike. I drove to the Shore parking lot, and hiked to the bottom of Glen Leigh. I shot the photos hiking back up the trail, much more comfortable than yesterday's shooting going the other way. The light wasn't as good - bright sun producing glare on the water and cooler temperatures, but you deal with what you get.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Now I'm off to the showers - while it is only 52°F out and there is very little heat in the bathrooms, it is only going to get colder as the day wears on!

Dinner will probably be another grilled chicken patty. Boring, but easy on the stomach. I'll haul this down the hill between the shower & dinner to post the pages.

Until tomorrow.

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA
Wednesday, October 14, 2015, Ricketts Glen State Park, PA, 166.3 Miles, 166.3 Miles for the Trip

I left Oswego around 9:00AM & had a pleasant, non interstate drive to Ricketts Glen State Park. The Fall colors went from barely to peak along the way. I took a couple of photos along the road.

Some starting statistics - The RAV4 has 122,266 miles on the clock at the start of the trip. the trailer has been towed 69,001.5 miles, and I've slept in it for 701 days (well, actually nights) over the last 4 1/2 years.

I reached Ricketts Glen around 1:30, and settled into site 104. I chose it because it is one of the few in the park that has good sun. It is larger than I need, but since the park is empty except for 4 of us, I'm not keeping any larger RVs out.

After setting up I drove to the Rose parking lot & hiked down the waterfall trail. I usually hike to the bottom, then take photographs on the way back because stopping to shoot gives you a break from hiking up the stairs & hills. Because the weather was threatening rain, I decided to take my pictures on the way down. You get a better selection going up, and the straight haul back is a bit tough, but I got a few. I believe I'm a bit late for the best color. While there is a fair amount of green leaves still on some trees, many are bare & the ground is covered with dead ones. In any case, there are more images at today's LakeshoreImages page.

If the weather holds, I'll hike the other side of the falls trail tomorrow. I won't be able to post these until Friday unless I drive out of the park to find a cell signal. While I do have one bar of AT&T in one part of the park, I can't use my phone to post.

Added Thursday AM - I drove down the hill to Red Rock where there is a very good 4G signal. Only a couple of miles from the campground, and in a valley, but good AT&T & fast Verizon4G LTE coverage.

Dinner was a grilled chicken patty & snap peas. I managed to just finish cooking the chicken before it started to rain...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Getting Ready to Head to the Southwest

Tuesday, October 13, 2015, Oswego, NY, 0 Miles, 0 Miles for the Trip

This would have been part of the 2015 trip to Alaska, but that got broken in two due to some stomach problems. After an early return to Oswego, my doctor changed my stomach medicine. I have no idea why since it is just a different brand of the same type of medicine, but I feel well enough to continue (or resume) the trip.

So, I've spent the last couple of days repacking the trailer, and getting ready to head out. The plan is to spend a couple of days at one of my favorite state parks, Ricketts Glen in PA, then head to DC to visit with my daughter & her family, then head west. I don't want to get there too early; I checked the temperatures in Parker, AZ, one of the areas I like to visit, and is still in the hundreds!

Until tomorrow -

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Adirondacks Trip, 2015

Piercefield Flow, The Adirondacks State Park, NY Rt 3

I managed to fit in a trip to the Adirondacks before leaving for the winter next week.  While a bit early for good color, I did get a few photos.  The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, NY.  Many buildings filled with exhibits.  More on the museum here & more trip photos here.

It is going to be a busy weekend, getting ready to leave for the winter, my son's birthday, and an all day photo shoot of the Migrant program - "A Day at College" that I'll be doing Monday.  I still plan on leaving Wednesday if everything gets done!

Until next time -

Sunday, October 4, 2015

2015 CNY Great Pumpkin Festival

Steve & Jeanne Marley's Winning 1543.5 Pound Pumpkin
I spent yesterday photographing the weigh-in for the Central New York Giant Pumpkin Festival.  While it got a late start due to scale problems, there were many entries, with the winning pumpkin a bit smaller than last years, but still over 3/4 of a ton.

I have many more photos & information about the festival as well as links to past festivals at my LakeshoreImages page.

Not much new with traveling.  I did have a recall repair done on the trailer frame, and am currently planning to head south in a couple of weeks.  I haven't made up my mind whether to just head to Florida, or make the 1000 miles longer journey to the Southwest.  I guess I should decide soon!

Until next time -