Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Day 31, Wednesday, November 30, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 11

Matagorda Madness Beer Exchange
Wednesday, November 30, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 11, 0 Miles, 2,105.1 Miles For the Trip

It never really cooled off last night, only down to 65°F by morning. Still, 65°F feels lots cooler than 75°F, particularly with the increased wind (which in no longer coming off the Gulf, which means sitting on the picnic table and door side of my trailer was in the middle of it).

I finished Vodka , by Boris Starling, an interesting novel about Moscow during the downfall of communism. I also read a short novel by Joe R. Lansdale Freezer Burn by an author I haven't read before. A Texas author writing in the style of some of the Florida novelists I like.

I made a quick walk around the campground to photograph some of the new arrivals, then headed to the beer exchange. For those that haven't been to one, the idea is to bring six pack of a local craft beer, and exchange bottles or cans with each other to collect a variety of brews. I brought a split six pack, three bottles of Bear Naked Amber from the Adirondack Brewery, and three of Allagash White, my favorite white beer form Portland, Maine. I got a collection of different beers that I'll spend the next couple of days trying. I spent the rest of the evening talking with some of the people I've never actually met, but feel like I know because of contacts through the Escape Forum.

Since the Matagorda madness Rally doesn't "officially" start until tomorrow, I'll wait until then to start a rally web page, but I'll include some photos of the beer exchange. You can see more of them & the campground photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

While there were plenty of snacks at the beer exchange, I did make a quick dinner when I got back to the trailer - a chicken patty sandwich & a salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Day 30, Tuesday, November 29, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 10

A Scamp 19 & Friends
Tuesday, November 29, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 10, 0 Miles, 2,105.1 Miles For the Trip

Another warm night; it only got down to 72°F, and hit 85°F this afternoon. According to my weather app, it is going to go down to the low 50's tonight. my refrigerator will appreciate that. The door seal has a 4" tear in it & is old & stiff enough that it doesn't make a good seal anywhere. I hope to be able to get a replacement at Quartzsite - we shall see...

It is hard to believe I've been on the road for a month. Probably about time to thing about getting a haircut!

I made a run to Bay City this morning to get the supplies to make a pie for the pot luck, and some other stuff. One thing I was looking for was a replacement tip for my Waterpik. The one that came with it broke & I didn't bring the spare with me. Unfortunately, it seems you can't buy replacement tips in the various drug stores, Walmart or HEB's that I looked in. I eventually purchased a replacement Waterpik. I guess I now have a spare! I replaced my battery operated, hand held vacuum cleaner since the battery died in the old one. I also picked up a bottle of Boggle Essential Red 2014 wine. I like the 2013 version, so I decided I have to try the new year.

On the way back I waited for the longest & slowest train I've seen. After it went by I rushed down TX 60, hoping to beat it to the next crossing. I did.

Back at the campground I walked around photographing some of the new arrivals. There are a couple of Casitas having a "protest" against the $5.00 per person park fee & are camped out at the parking lot (Where I spent the weekend). In a way I don't blame them - you don't get a lot for the daily fee since you are already paying for the campsite on top of it. Of course I can't complain too loudly since New York does the same thing (although the daily fee is for the vehicle, not per person). More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Burrito & salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, November 28, 2016

Day 29, Monday, November 28, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 9

The Gulf & Wind
Monday, November 28, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 9, 0 Miles, 2,105.1 Miles For the Trip

Up to now I've only thought it was windy. last night the wind picked up, and never quit all day. I've sat through worse in the trailer, but up until dinner time it was constant. Still very warm - 80°F even with the wind. According to the weather reports, is is going to get cooler, both during the day & particularly at night - down into the 40's.

I spent most of the day sitting outside in the wind shadow of the trailer reading. I did take a break to go to the office & pay for yesterday's washer loads, and a little later walked out to end of the fishing to take some photos. Hard to believe, but there were people fishing, although they didn't seem to be catching much.

In some ways it is nice to hear the waves; reminds me of home. While most people think of lakes as calm, placid bodies of water, Lake Ontario is one of the "Great Lakes", and can kick up waves with the best of them.

There is one difference - because Lake Ontario, at least in the area near my house, has a rock/gravel shoreline, along with the roar of the waves you also listen to the grinding of the rocks. In any case, it sounds familiar.  There are more photos of the Gulf as well as a couple of storms on Lake Ontario at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After taking the pictures, I headed back to the trailer to do so more reading, than stopped to make dinner & post this page. Dinner was a Cajun Sausage sandwich & peaches, with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Day 28, Sunday, November 27, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 8

The Star Party
Sunday, November 27, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 8, 0 Miles, 2,105.1 Miles For the Trip

I'm back in the park in site 26, and will be here for the week. For those interested, by the time I made a pot of coffee, I was down 35 amp hours this morning. I made part of it up with solar by 10:00 when I moved to my site in the park. By mid afternoon, the combination of the converter plugged into shore power & the solar panels had the batteries back to full.

I took a couple of photos of last night's Star Party. The bright star is actually a planet - Venus. Even though I had the D700's ISO set at 3000, I had to wait until a passing vehicle spilled some light into the area. I tried a few hand held, but the exposures were over one second, so I finally got out a tripod. Another photo of the star party & my site for the week is at today's LakeshoreImages page.

The campground really emptied out today. While one more fiberglass trailer arrived (an Escape 21) most of the rest of the sites emptied. I decided it would be a good time to do a load of laundry. They have home type Kenmore front loading machines - you pay on the honor system at the office (just as you do for ice). I'm not sure if I overloaded the machine or what, but it decided to do the rinse cycle for over an hour. It would stop with an 1E error, which is restricted water input? In any case, after trying to restart the machine with no success, I split the load in the two other machines and finished the wash. No problems with the dryers. I'm glad the place is empty. There were lines at the laundry room for the last 3 days.

After folding & putting the laundry away, making the bed, and cooking & eating dinner (a Bubba Burger & Bush Beans), I headed to the showers. It is now time to relax and read the Syracuse Sunday paper on line!

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Day 27, Saturday, November 26, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 7

The First Arrival for the Rally
Saturday, November 26, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 7, 0 Miles, 2,105.1 Miles For the Trip

The wind died down enough that I could cook outside, so it was a chicken thigh for last night's dinner.

It is still pretty windy today. I've been told that wind is normal for just about anywhere on the Gulf, and Matagorda is no exception.

The end of the road dry camping area is not as quiet as the campground. One reason is I'm at the entrance to the beach access road, but things do calm down around 11:00.

By the time I finished toasting an English muffin & made a pot of coffee, the battery monitor showed I was down 15 amp hours. No problem making them up during the day with just the roof top solar panels.

I walked around the campground loop this morning and a few RVs pulled out, but otherwise the place is full. A woman stopped by the trailer & let me know they had arrived in an Escape 5.0TA. We talked a bit, then she headed back. On my second walk I met her husband and another couple that arrived in an Escape 21. When I went back to take some photos, a Casita arrived. Here I thought I'd be the first one here when I move in tomorrow (although I could count my earlier arrival since I've already been here 7 days). Even though we are in Texas where the Casitas are made , so far the Escapes are outnumbering them! They are doing a "Star Party" tonight & have couple of 10" telescopes they are setting up. A few more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I'm going to try the microwave on the inverter. I tested it at home with a glass of water & it did fine for 3 minutes, although the inverter did give a low voltage alarm. We will see how it does with the left over rice & pasta & cooking a frozen burrito. It is only a 600 watt microwave, so I have to extend cooking times when compared to the standard 1000 - 1200 watt ovens.

Well, it worked for cooking the rice & pasta and burrito, although not both at the same time. The alarm on the inverter buzzed the entire cooking time with the voltage at 11.2V and the inverter drawing 96 amps. Total amp hours - 16.2. After shutting down the inverter, the battery voltage jumped back up to 12.6. It is too late in the day for much solar charging, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to see any improvement.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, November 25, 2016

Day 26, Friday, November 25, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 6

Hanging Out on the Colorado River
Friday, November 25, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 6, 0 Miles, 2,105.1 Miles For the Trip

Another short move, although a but further than the last one. I'm dry camping at the end of the loop just past the Nature Center building. I have a picnic table next door, and the parking area is level enough that I don't need to unhook. I'm hoping the people in site 26 will leave early on Sunday so I can move back into the South Campground Loop.

After parking the trailer (I really didn't set much up since there are no hookups) I went for a walk on the beach. I thought about driving, but I'd have to unhook the trailer & I'm parked close enough to a curb that I'd have to move the trailer to do it. Plus, I'm not familiar with the sand conditions to know if it is soft enough to need to air down the tires, and there is no nearby air compressor to air them back up. I do have a 12V compressor, but it would take forever to refill the truck tires.

After the walk I found most of the sand well packed, so I probably would have had no problems driving the beach. There are soft spots, but they can be avoided. Some more photos and today's site photo at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I read for the rest of the afternoon, finishing a really bad adventure book - The House of Wolves, by Matt Bronleewe. While reading many adventure novelists after a well written book like Blackberry Wine usually makes the writing of the adventure novel look worse than it really is, I have to say this one is pretty bad. I feel that if I start a book, I owe it to the author to finish, but I just made it through this one. The warning I ignored was all the praise for the book was by other authors. With the exception of first novels, if there isn't a couple of real review quotes, it is usually a bad sign.

It is early for dinner, but I wanted to post this while there was still sun on the solar panels. If the wind dies down it will be a grilled chicken thigh & a Knoor's Rice & Pasta Blend with Cheese & Broccoli. If it doesn't, it will be soup on the inside stove.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Day 25, Thursday, November 24, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 5

Thursday, November 24, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 5, 0 Miles, 2,105.1 Miles For the Trip

Happy Thanksgiving, at least to fellow Americans (the Canadians had theirs on October 10th). Since our Thanksgiving pot luck was yesterday, today doesn't quite feel like Thanksgiving. When I'm home, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  I usually cook a 18 - 25 pound Plainville (an "open range", non injected, used to be locally raised) turkey with all the fixings.  We usually had relatives plus a student or two that couldn't get home for the holiday over for the day.  I did get a Skype call from my daughter & the grandkids, which was nice.

I checked with the office to see if there were any cancellations for the weekend, but no such luck, at least for Friday. Since I have to move out of site 47 by 1:00, I'll probably move to the dry camping area until Sunday, when I move into site 26. It has been interesting playing Musical Campsites! If something opens up tomorrow, the office staff said they would stop by.

About all I did today was take a shower, and finished Joanna Harris's Blackberry Wine an excellent book. She is the author of the more popular Chocolat, which was made into a popular 2001 movie.

It was warm enough to sit outside and read, but windy enough that I finally gave up and moved inside the trailer.

Dinner was HEB's Chicken Tortilla soup, something I could cook inside out of the wind. A bit spicier than I expected, but OK. No photos today.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Day 24, Wednesday, November 23, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 4

A "Tree"
Wednesday, November 23, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 4, 0 Miles, 2105.1 Miles For the Trip

A quiet morning. I took my pie over to the pot luck dinner around 11:30, figuring I could help set up, but everything was already done. The park staff put the dinner together as well as supplying the turkey & ham, and did a great job. The rest of us brought sides and desserts. Like most pot lucks, there was plenty for all. An additional perk - one of the staff offered to clean my pie pan & pie server. If you have ever seen a pie pan after a blueberry pie you will understand how much I appreciate the effort. While I could have done it in the trailer, carrying a messy pie pan back would have been a pain, and it turns my gray tank purple!

I spent part of the afternoon talking with a couple that are here in an Airstream from Tuscon, AZ, then went back to the trailer, read a few blogs & forums, and a little of my book. No photos today, so I used one of the tree from yesterday.

Dinner was an Amy Burrito.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Day 23, Tuesday, November 22, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 3

Cattle Crossing the Colorado
Tuesday, November 22, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 3, 100 Feet, 2105.1 Miles For the Trip

Today will have to be the record for the shortest move - about 100'. I'm now in site 47, another full hookup site that, because it is preferred, is up to $34.50 per night with the reservation fee & park entry fee. I'm here until Friday, at which time I have to leave for 2 days. There is an unofficial dry camping area near the loop at the end of the road; I'll probably stay there.

The big excitement for the day was a Texas cattle drive. According to the attendant at the Nature Center, they won't allow the cattle on the bridge that crosses to a rancher's winter grazing area, so he swims them across the Colorado River twice a year. Today is the day! They truck the cattle to a holding pen & drive them across at low tide. They had a bunch of cowboys (and girls) on horses guiding them, a couple of boats in the river (one of which had to lasso a cow that kept wanting to come back to this side of the river). I wandered around & took a bunch of photos, including one of my "interesting" tree images, and a flock of pelicans, all of which can be found on today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that it was time to make the pie for tomorrow's pot luck. I definitely need to learn to check supplies before I make a run to the store, particularly when it is 30 miles away. My recipe calls for one cup of sugar - I discovered only have a half a cup. Luckily, there is a small store in Matagorda, a town at the foot of the bridge that is at the beginning of the road to the park, and only 6 miles away.

I keep trying to make the pie less soupy. It tastes fine, but there is always too much juice, particularly if I use frozen berries. They were fresh today, and I added a bit more Instant Clear Jel than I've been using. The toaster oven is part of the problem - there isn't enough air circulation, at least not as much as in a 30" household oven. I added 10 minutes to the cooking time at a bit higher temperature, producing a nicely browned crust. We will find out tomorrow about the juice!

Dinner was the left over spaghetti.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, November 21, 2016

Day 22, Monday, November 21, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 2

Sunset on the Colorado River
Monday, November 21, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 2, 0 Miles, 2105.1 Miles For the Trip

An interesting day. I started out with my normal walk around the campground, made breakfast (well, made isn't all that accurate - I opened a tub of yogurt), then headed to the office to see if I could extend my stay. I like the park, and while there is time to head to the Rio Grande Valley for a week, it doesn't make sense to go & come back for the rally.

Unfortunately, my site is booked starting tomorrow, but site 47, a semi premium site that cost a couple dollars more is available tomorrow to Thursday. Nothing is available for the weekend. As far as I can see, the only thing that makes site 47 better than the site I'm in is that it is one row further from the road. Since the road dead ends at the Gulf of Mexico 1000' past the campground, the traffic isn't a problem, but since it is the only site available through Thursday, I took it.

When Reserve America sent me my confirmation I discovered that although I my Mastercard was charged for the entire three days, the receipt for the site showed I only made the minimum payment for one night, and I still owed $64.00. I went back to the office, and after a 1/2 hour of poking at the computer, the host couldn't fix it. He said he would call for help during the afternoon.

I also extended site 26, the one I'm in for the Matagorda Madness rally for an earlier arrival date. Because the additional days brought the stay to a week, it only cost $34.00 to add 3 days.

So, assuming the glitch gets solved, I'm here between now & December 4th, with the exception of November 25 & 26 when both sites were booked. I'll find a nearby campground for the weekend.

There is a Thanksgiving pot luck dinner at noon on Wednesday, so I drove into Bay City for some blueberries & pie supplies. Since I had an empty propane tank I took it along to get it filled. Unfortunately, they only fill propane tanks 8:00AM to 2:00PM & I got there at 3:00. Texas requires a license or certification to fill propane tanks, so not anyone can do it.

Other than that the shopping was successful, and when I got back to the campground I read for a bit, then made dinner, which was spaghetti, meatballs & sausage. I tried the "quick, one pot" spaghetti - you dump the box in a frying pan filled with 3 cups of cold water and boil it until the water is gone. I prefer the old fashion method, but I had to try it. Actually, for camping the old way is better unless you have very limited water. It is difficult to keep the spaghetti from sticking to the frying pan as the water boils away, and you use just about as much cleaning the pan as you would boiling traditional spaghetti in a pot. Plus the water used to boil the spaghetti works well for a pre rinse of the sauce pot. You do learn to waste little water when dry camping!

After dinner took a few sunset photos then headed to the bathrooms for a shower. They are clean, have a bench & shower curtains. Reduced water spray, but hot enough so it works. The biggest gripe is there is nowhere in the shower to put soap, shampoo, or anything. I did discover that the mosquitoes are here. I never noticed them yesterday, but I wasn't outside after dusk. The walk to the showers was spent slapping. The wind was against me on the way back & they weren't too bad. There is a sunset over the campground photo at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Day 21, Sunday, November 20, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX

Site 24
Sunday, November 20, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, 39.8 Miles, 2105.1 Miles For the Trip

Well, here I am doing tonight's post for a second time. Dreamweaver crashed as I was saving it. Oh well, I hope it is better the second time (and I should learn to save as I go along!)

Anyhow, another short drive. I'm killing time before the Matagorda Madness Rally here at the park at the end of the month. I decided to stop as I went by the park to see what it is like. It is a beautiful, well kept park. There are two loops, all with full hookups. I am in site 24 in the South Loop for two nights at $29.00 per night, which includes an over 62 reduction of the daily park fee from $4.00 to $2.00. Site 24 is a non premium site (the premium sites are on the Colorado River). Bathrooms & Laundry are behind coded doors at the office building. The campground provides fairly slow WiFi (down to unusable in late afternoon). There is a weak, 1 bar AT&T signal that fluctuates up to 3 bars as you walk around the campground, and a 2-3 bar Verizon 4G LTE signal (with the outside antenna & amplifier), however it is also pretty slow, at least this afternoon.  It got better after dinner.

By the way, I was confused with the Colorado River since I camped on it in Arizona & California & know it is on the other side of the Continental Divide. I looked it up in Google, and found that the two Colorado Rivers are unrelated & the Texas version is the longest river that starts & ends in Texas.

After setting up the trailer I walked around the campground, traded some books at the office, and enjoyed the sun doing a bit of reading. I finished Tricky Twenty-Two last night (Evanovich's books are a quick read). I enjoy the Stephanie Plum novels & usually end up laughing aloud at least once while reading, but I'm glad she only does one a year. More could easily be too much...

It is a bit windy; not enough to make you end up going inside, but enough that even in 68°F sunny skies, you want long sleeves. I've been told that you want the wind, without it the mosquitoes come out. In any case, I read for a couple of hours, then went for a walk on the fishing pier that goes into the Gulf of Mexico. I took a few photos of the fishing & some birds, then headed back to the campsite. You can drive along the shore, although there are spots where the sand is soft enough that you better have aired down your tires & know what you are doing. I saw one truck that didn't. More of today's photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I finally emptied on of my propane tanks. I knew I was low & stopped at a propane supplier on the way down TX 35, but they were closed on Sundays. Unfortunately, they are the nearest propane supplier & are 25 miles away in Bay City (where the nearest grocery store is located - the HEB that I shopped at the other day)

Dinner was a Bubba Burger & Bush's Bourbon & Brown Sugar Beans.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Day 20, Saturday, November 19, 2016, Stonebridge RV Park, Sweeny, TX, Day 2

Saturday, November 19, 2016, Stonebridge RV Park, Sweeny, TX, Day 2, 0 Miles, 2065.3 Miles For the Trip

Today was domestic day. Cleaned the trailer, changed the sheets on the bed, did a load of laundry, and took a shower. The showers are individual bathrooms, but poor lighting, at least in the shower. A little cool, but we are having a cool day - it only hit 64°F, was 50°F last night, and is expected to get into the low 40's tonight. There was lots of air conditioning in the bathrooms & even the laundry, but no heat.

I finished Run, and recommend it to all. I'm now starting Janet Evanovich's Tricky Twenty-Two. At least Evanovich started out with numbers. I wonder what Sue Grafton is going to do with her Kinsey Millhone books - she is now up to "X", with only 2 letters left.

No photos today. Dinner is a Marie Callender Creamy Mushroom Chicken Pot Pie.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, November 18, 2016

Day 19, Friday, November 18, 2016, Stonebridge RV Park, Sweeny, TX

An Egret
Friday, November 18, 2016, Stonebridge RV Park, Sweeny, TX, 35.3 Miles, 2065.3 Miles For the Trip

Well, as you can see, there were no cancellations at Brazos Bend State Park even though thunderstorms were predicted for at least today. I thought about the overflow area, but decided to head out. Since I had a bit of time to kill before hitting the next campground, I drove to one of the lakes in the park & took a few photos of a posing egret. I watched him catch & eat a couple of small fish, but he (or she) was too fast for me; all the "catching" photos were too blurred to be useful. The first photo shows what happens when you haul out a camera from an insulated bag that sat in the truck overnight into warm, very humid surroundings.  There is one more egret image, the fuzzy image and today's site photo at today's LakeshoreImages page.

A short uneventful drive south on TX 35, although I did run into one of my pet peeves - Someone before me topped off their tank & spilled gas in front of the pump. I didn't notice it until I got back in the truck, then the smell hit me (at least it wasn't diesel). It also made my shoes slippery when I walked into Walmart. Yes, I know I was at one yesterday, but then I didn't know I was out of books. I started my last one last night (Ann Patchett's Run). I did find two books that I haven't read, and, of course, after paying full price for them I discovered a large trading library at the campground. At least I will be able to get rid of a couple pounds of already read books from the back of the truck.

After that it was another 10 miles to the campground, right on TX 35. I'm in site 17, a full hook up site for #35.00 per night for two nights. The campground labels itself as a "Resort", so no picnic table and a long run to the sewer connection, but a concrete pad that is level front to back, and only off a little left to right. There is a pool & hot tub...

There is a strong, 4G LTE Verizon signal, a weak 1 bar AT&T signal, and a fast, free campground WiFi that became too slow to be usable after I (and the rest of the park) got back from dinner.

Right now it is pouring. It has rained off & on all day, although only heavy for a short part of the drive & now.

I'm not sure what dinner will be, but it won't be something cooked outside. No table and pouring rain. Bay City is ten miles down the road, and I haven't eaten in a restaurant in awhile, so that may be the choice. If not, there is always the microwave or toaster oven.

Well, it is now 6:00 and I'm fed. Dinner was a flounder & shrimp dinner at he Baytown Seafood Restaurant. Much better than a chain and you couldn't beat the price.

Until tomorrow -

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Day 18, Thursday, November 17, 2016, Brazos Bend State Park, Needville, TX

Site 227
Thursday, November 17, 2016, Brazos Bend State Park, Needville, TX, 109.9 Miles, 2030 Miles For the Trip

On the way out of Double Lake park I stopped at a Walmart for some supplies & a replacement hose to go between my 1 gallon propane tank & the stove. While cooking dinner last night I kept smelling propane & eventually found one of the crimped fittings leaking. They did have a replacement hose as well as everything on my list, although a very limited selection of my favorite yogurt (Chobani coffee, blood orange, & pumpkin were not to be found).

It was 87°F at 2:00 today. I forgot to switch the refrigerator to propane (mine is manual) until I was half way to the campground. It is still trying to recover. Even now at 5:00, it is till 82°F outside & the refrigerator is at 43°F. I just checked and it is 47F in my home town of Oswego, NY. I'm glad to be in Texas!

Driving through Houston wasn't much fun. I forgot what joy 4-5 lanes each way driving was like. At least I was late enough to miss the morning rush hours.

While the park is booked solid for the weekend, I did get a standard site for tonight, and will have to check back with the office at 10:15 tomorrow to see if there have been any cancellations. If not, I have a choice of another campground, or moving to the overflow area. I'm in site 227, a water & electric site for $20.00 plus $7.00 per day park entry fee.

I spent the entire day sitting outside reading. A slight breeze and shade made it comfortable even with the heat. I have a good Verizon 4G LTE signal (although a bit slow) and a 1 bar to none AT&T. I did manage to make a phone call to a KOA in Chocorua NH to make reservations for a fiberglass rally scheduled for next May. Only got the answering machine & they haven't called back...

Dinner was a microwaved chicken burrito.

Until tomorrow -

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Day 17, Wednesday, November 16, 2016, Double Lake Forest Service Campground, TX, Day 2

Wednesday, November 16, 2016, Double Lake Forest Service Campground, TX, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 1920.1 Miles For the Trip

A fairly warm night, only getting down to 53°F; not so warm that my neighbor still wished he had heat in his pop up. Today was suppose to hit 85°F in Houston, however here it only reached 80°F.

I walked around the campground loop, then sat out & read. Lots of flies. They didn't bite or even land on me much, but if you left any food down, there were 10 - 15 of them on it. I got out the fly swatter, thinking I could get them all, but after about 20 minutes & close to 100 flies, I gave up.

The picnic table is something else. 6"X6" legs & crosspieces, 3"X12" seats & table top, 4"X4" bracing with 2"X2"X1/4" angle iron tying it all together. Built long enough ago (maybe by the CCC?)  that the dimensions were full size. No one is going to move these around the site - they probably weigh 500 lbs each!

I called Brazos Bend State Park, my planned next stop. According to the Texas park Reservation System, they are fully booked for the weekend, but the park told me there is room in the overflow area. I hope to find a normal site, but if not, the overflow will do.

I did get one project out of the way - I defrosted the refrigerator - quite a build up over the last 2 weeks, but I've been in humid areas for part of it. No photos today.

Around 4:30 I defrosted my last bowl of homemade ham & bean soup, which was dinner.

After dinner I took a bag of garbage to the dumpster, which is a little ways past the further bathroom. On the way back I checked out the shower, and it had a much heavier stream & was quite warm. I went back to the trailer, got my towel & headed for a shower. The stall was large, had a bench, and lots of hooks, and the run time around 5 minutes per push of the button, which was the good. The bad - no lights and it was getting dark, and that 3/4" stream of water was just a little too hot. You couldn't stand in it, but had to duck low enough that the stream cooled a bit. I know, the Goldilocks syndrome, too cold or too hot, except I never found just right! Still, it is nice to shower in something bigger than the trailer.

Until tomorrow -

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Day 16, Tuesday, November 15, 2016, Double Lake Forest Service Campground, TX

Site 56
Tuesday, November 15, 2016, Double Lake Forest Service Campground, TX - 166.5 Miles, 1920.1 Miles For the Trip

Well, I made it through the night with no pain. I used Matilda, my GPS to plot the route to Double Lake Forest Service Campground in Texas, but there was a bridge out on the route. I ended up driving to Jasper, TX, then north, listening to the GPS telling me to "Make a U Turn" every mile or two. I finally shut off the voice.

I stopped at a Walmart along the way to pick up some Tylenol (actually the equate version) since I didn't need the prescription pain killer the dentist subscribed, and I was out of Acetaminophen.

Not a bad drive on mixed 2 & 4 lane roads. I arrived at the campground around 2:00, and one of the hosts followed me around while I chose a site so I wouldn't have to go back to the campground office to hand in the pay envelope. The basic charge is $20.00 + $10.00 for water & electric. The base charge (not the utility charge) is cut in half with the Senior Pass, so it is $20.00 per night. I'm in site 56 for two nights.

After setting up I walked around the campground loop. I discovered I was set up about 1/2 way between two bathrooms, both a fairly long walk away. Since the only part I'm interested in is the shower, it doesn't matter all that much - no temperature adjustment on a lukewarm 1/4" thick stream of water.

It is warm enough that I ran the Maxx fan for the first time of the trip, around 84°F at 3:30. I sat out and read most of the afternoon.

Dinner is another "soft" meal - Chicken & Rice Soup & a roll.

Until tomorrow -

Monday, November 14, 2016

Day 15, Monday, November 14, 2016, South Toledo Bend State Park, LA, Day 2

Interesting Streak / Lakebed
Monday, November 14, 2016, South Toledo Bend State Park, LA, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 1753.6 Miles For the Trip

After breakfast I tried to call the Leesville dentist I found on Google, but my phone showed no service. It had been going between "Off Network" and no service all evening, and, of course, when I needed it, it wasn't there. I decided to drive to Leesville (about 30 miles from the campground) and just walk in, but after about 10 miles on the way, I checked the phone & found I had an "Extended" signal. Called, and they had a 12:30 appointment. I drove back to the campground & read for a couple of hours.

After filling out many pages of "new patient" info, got X rays, then saw the dentist. The bad news, the tooth couldn't just be filled; it was too far gone. He suggested rebuilding the base & getting a crown when I'm in some place long enough. More bad news - after removing the old filling & decay, there wasn't enough tooth left for the doctor to be comfortable rebuilding it. His suggestion was to pull it. Cheaper than getting it built, and he really felt the build up would fail.

So, I no longer have tooth #3! No pain since it was one that already had a root canal. I'm from pre fluoride days, and have fillings in just about every tooth, with a bunch of root canals & crowns, and now a big hole. How it will be replaced won't happen until May when I get back to Oswego & my regular dentist.

While I'm in no pain, the dentist insisted on a prescription for some pain killers in case things start acting up this evening. I also picked up some tomato soup for dinner - soft stuff for a day or two.

On the way back to the campground I stopped to take a couple of photos of an interesting dried up section of a lake & stream.  A wider version is at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was tomato soup & a sweet roll. All in all, not my favorite day of the trip!

Until tomorrow -

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Day 14, Sunday, November 13, 2016, South Toledo Bend State Park, LA


Sunday, November 13, 2016, South Toledo Bend State Park, LA - 174.6 Miles, 1753.6 Miles For the Trip

A bit cooler than the last couple of mornings at 46°F outside (but a nice 70°F inside due to the Pelonis Disk Furnace, my 1986 electric cube heater). Lots more folks packing up & leaving this morning. I did the same after breakfast.

Most of the day was spent driving on US 84 & LA 28, a mix of 2 & 4 lanes, better than I 10, but still with some rough spots. Mississippi & Louisiana doesn't spend a lot on their roads!

Gas prices are pretty good in Louisiana - $1.86 per gallon for regular, although it varied as high as $2.16 along the route. I drove through Alexandria, LA, Fort Polk & Leesville on the way to South Toledo Bend State Park. I was in the same area in 2005 with the Red Cross for the Katrina  hurricane & less memorable, at Fort Polk for Advanced Infantry Training in 1968 prior to being sent to Vietnam, and finally, in 2012 when I stayed in both Natchez State Park & South Toledo Bend State Park on a long cross country trip.

I'm in site 55, a back in site with a deck outside the trailer & the picnic table below. $21.00 per night for water & electric. I'm here for two nights - I hope to visit a dentist in Leesville tomorrow since I broke a filling yesterday.

For what ever reason, Google is not letting me upload the site photo for today so if you want to see it, you will have to go to today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a chicken paddy & the rest of the sweet & sour beets & some Blue Bell "Homemade" vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Until tomorrow -

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Day 13, Saturday, November 12, 2016, Natchez State Park, Natchez, MS, Day 3

Saturday, November 12, 2016, Natchez State Park, Natchez, MS, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 1579 Miles For the Trip

Another "do nothing" day. I did go for a walk around the campground, met a couple traveling in a new Oliver, and watched the Lil Snoozy pull out. Lots of people left today, a bit unusual since most stay until Sunday. In any case, the campground is about 1/2 empty.

I did lots of sitting in the sun reading, and worked on my build list for my new Escape 21 I will be picking up in October, 2017.

No photos for the day.

Dinner was another grilled chicken thigh, mashed potatoes, and the rest of the salad (and, of course, a bit more of yesterday's wine).

After posting this page I'm heading for the shower. They have an electric heater in the shower section of the bathroom & I fired it up an hour ago. I hope it will take the chill off the room; it seems to hold on with the night's temperature for the entire afternoon.

I hope the posting goes OK. While I have a 4 bar 4G LTE Verizon signal (and an off & on 1 bar of AT&T), the Jetpack bogs down to very slow after dinner.

Until tomorrow -

Friday, November 11, 2016

Day 12, Friday, November 11, 2016, Natchez State Park, Natchez, MS, Day 2

A Natchez Church
Friday, November 11, 2016, Natchez State Park, Natchez, MS, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 1579 Miles For the Trip

A "Thanks You" to all Veterans on their day.

A nice lazy day with no driving between sites. I did drive into Natchez to see some sights, and made a stop at Walmart, but spent most of the day sitting at my site & reading. There are some interesting birds in a dead tree next to my site. They don't look big enough to be Turkey Vultures, but they do have vulture like beaks. In any case, they posed for a photo.

A couple in a Lil Snoozy pulled in across from me. They actually know where Oswego, NY is. I can never get over how small a world it is - yesterday, one of the people waiting for the office to open was the uncle of one of my students!

Dinner was a grilled chicken thigh, sweet & sour beets, a salad & a glass of Gew├╝rztraminer wine, one that I like, but could never order - I can't pronounce it!

Until tomorrow -

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Day 11, Thursday, November 10, 2016, Natchez State Park, Natchez, MS

Site 27
Thursday, November 10, 2016, Natchez State Park, Natchez, MS - 209.6 Miles, 1579 Miles For the Trip

I got an early start and was on the road by 8:00. Not sure why, but I was up & ready to go. Most of the day was heading southwest on I 59 & US 84. I stopped for the afternoon at Natchez State Park. An interesting drive on State Park road. If you arrive from the east on US 84, don't take the turn for State Park Road; keep going until you hit US 61 and take the State Park Road from US 61. Much better section of the road & much shorter.

It was also interesting getting a site. At 12:00 there was a sign in the park office window stating they would be back at 2:00. Someone did show up at 1:30, but he didn't have access to the computer, so he couldn't assign any sites. By 2:20, there were 4 of us waiting. I'm in Campground B, site 27. The last time I was here in 2014, I was just down the road in site 46. I'd prefer 46 since there is a puddle between the concrete slab & the picnic table, but it is small enough to hop over. The site is a water & electric near the bathrooms for $13.41 per night (with a senior discount). Since a warm, rain free weekend is approaching, I decided to stay 3 nights.

After setting up, I headed into Natchez and the Natchez Market for some supplies. Not the least expensive grocery store I've been in, but a decent selection (although no Turkey Bubba Burgers!)

By the way, I just finished The Travels of Jamie McPheeters, by Robert Lewis Taylor. It is a Pulitzer prize winning novel about a young man & his father heading to California during the gold rush. A wonderful story!

Since it around 5:00 after shopping, I stopped on the way back to the campground at a Churches Chicken for take out. Better than some, but even though I asked for 2 legs & a thigh, I got three legs. Oh, well...

Until tomorrow -

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Day 10, Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - Twiltley Branch COE Campground, Collinsville, MS

The View From My Back Window
Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - Twiltley Branch COE Campground, Collinsville, MS - 263.1 Miles, 1369.4 Miles For the Trip

More interstate driving, mostly on I 65 & I 20. A bit further than my usual daily driving, but I'm at the Twiltley Branch Core Of Engineers Campground, site 14, a water & electric site for $10.00 with the Senior pass. A nice site backed by Lake Okatibbee.

There is an interesting (actually, a couple of them) sign at the entrance to the camping area. It shows the high water mark in 1978. The lake is used to control flooding downstream. I'd just as soon it doesn't get used that way while I'm here - even if the base of the tree the sign sits on is the "high water mark", my trailer would be floating. If it is the level of the sign, the entire trailer would be under water! While the site is great, the bathrooms & showers are a long walk away. I'm glad I have a bathroom in the trailer.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

The other interesting sign warns not to swim in the lake - seems there are alligators. Another sign I'm getting far enough south besides the 73°F afternoon temperature, is the first appearance of egrets. The fishing looks good - one guy on one side of me caught a 5 lb bass yesterday, and the guy on the other side spent the better part of an hour cleaning a bunch of perch.

Dinner was a Bubba Burger & beans.

Until tomorrow -

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Day 9, Monte Sano State Park, AL, Day 2

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - Monte Sano State Park, AL, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 1106.3 Miles For the Trip

Not much going on here at the park. They have a washer & dryer in the bath house, so I did a load of laundry. While the dryer was only $1.00 ($1.50 for the washer) it took two cycles to dry my clothes.

After that is was a walk around the campground loop, some reading, and a shower. While the water is nice & hot, there is no heat in the bathroom; 65°F doesn't sound all that cold, but too cool for a comfortable shower for me!

No photos today. Dinner was the rest of the salad and a chicken patty sandwich.

Until tomorrow -

Monday, November 7, 2016

Day 8,Monday, November 7, 2016 - Monte Sano State Park, AL

Site 50
Monday, November 7, 2016 - Monte Sano State Park, AL - 235.3 Miles, 1106.3 Miles For the Trip

Back on the road after four days in one place, and a one night stop over in Townsend. Most of today's drive was on the interstates, although some on 4 lane state roads. I'm at Monte Sano State Park in Alabama for two days. $27.50 for water & electric, next to the bathrooms. A very rustic campground with lots of trees, most of which are just starting to turn, although there are plenty on the ground. Enough that there is a burn ban on - no fires or even charcoal grills allowed. The campground overlooks Huntsville - the lights of the city look out of place when viewed from your campsite.

After setting up I walked around the campground, then sat and read. Last night I lost some evening daylight with the end of daylight savings time, tonight I crossed into central time. It is too dark to read outside at 5:00.

I decided to try my new microwave for dinner (well, I'm not eating the microwave, just using it to cook a couple of El Monterey Chimichangas). Those plus a salad made up dinner. The microwave is only 600 watts & draws around 900 watts when operating on full power. I tried it using my 1000 watt inverter, and while the inverter alarms low voltage, it kept running. I hope I'll be able to use it while dry camping. Cooking a burrito in 2 minutes sure beats the hour it takes to set up my dutch oven & bake one!

Until next time -

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Day 7, Townsend/Great Smokies KOA, Townsend, TN

Mist at Hungry Mother Lake
Sunday, November 6, 2016 - Townsend/Great Smokies KOA, Townsend, TN - 164.8 Miles, 871 Miles For the Trip

I got up at 9:00, although it was really 8:00 since I forgot daylight savings time ended overnight. Still, what was important to me was the morning light & mist on the lake above the campground, so the time, at least on a clock, didn't matter. I loved the look of the mist on the lake when I hiked to it yesterday, but didn't have my camera. It only lasts until the temperature warms up close to the lake temperature, so I made another visit.

I'm usually disappointed with images of fog & mist because they don't photograph all that well, but in this case the back lighting helped. I'm pleased with the image I used at the top of today's post.  More images & today's site photo are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that it was breakfast (with the left over blueberries on cereal), packing up the trailer & saying goodbyes to those still here. I'll probably see many of them again at Quartzsite & the Townsend Rally in the Spring. Speaking (well, typing) of Townsend, that is where I stopped for the day. Closer to my preferred 150 - 175 miles per day, I knew the campground from previous fiberglass rallies, and I wanted to make reservations for the rally in the Spring. I'm in site 70, a water & electric site (where I'll be in the April rally) for $34.58 for tonight.

After setting up I headed to the showers (at 31F it was just a bit too cold this morning) then read for a bit.

Dinner was a chicken fried steak, greens & fries at the Riverstone Restaurant next door to the campground. I love their fries, and the steak isn't bad either. I always eat there at least one evening while at the Townsend KOA, and I'm only here one night.

Until next time -

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Day 6, Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA, Day 4

Saturday, November 5, 2016 - Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 706.2 Miles For the Trip

Another cool night - there was frost on the grass & steam/fog coming off the lake when I went for my walk this morning at 9:00.

After breakfast I talked with some of the fellow fiberglass trailer owners, then headed to Food City to buy the supplies for making a blueberry pie. Since they had blueberries on sale, I was able to make the pie with fresh rather than frozen berries. The pie was done around 3:00; I spend most of the day sitting in the sun (it warmed up to a comfortable 70°F) reading & watching the pie cook.

While it wasn't there for the pot luck, many of those still here managed to stop by for a piece of pie - it was all gone by 8:00.  No photos today.

Since I had the toaster oven set up on the picnic table, I cooked a pot pie for dinner.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Day 5, Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA, Day 3

The Pot Luck Dinner
Friday November 4, 2016 - Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 706.2 Miles For the Trip

It cooled off quite a bit, waking up to 49°F outside, and, since I didn't bother firing up the heater last night, 53°F in the trailer. OK for sleeping, but a bit cold to crawl out of bed. I stayed in until 9:00, then decided it was time. I walked to the dam above the campground where the sun was shining; it was nice & warm, then back around the campground loops where it was still in the shade & cool. After breakfast, it was a quick shower. I'm glad they are heated!

A little after that a neighbor suggested a trip to see the Museum of the Middle Appalachians in Saltville, VA about a half hour south of the campground. While small, the museum was well worth a visit. A very knowledgeable individual running the place who gave us lots of information about the area & the salt business during the civil war. There was an interesting tie in between Saltville & Syracuse (near my home town) since both were major producers of salt. Some photos of the museum at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After we returned to the campground I discovered that the pot luck was tonight, not tomorrow. So, no blueberry pie! I'll make one for the hanger's on that will still be here tomorrow. The pot luck was great, with plenty of food & lots of desserts even without my pie.

We hung around the campfire (a neat idea source of heat made with screen boxes filled with wood pellets instead of logs) until it got too cold for us.

Until tomorrow -

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Day 4, Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA, Day 2

Planing the Next Leg of the Trip
Thursday November 3, 2016 - Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 706.2 Miles For the Trip

Another beautiful day here in Virginia. A little cooler than yesterday, but still "T" shirt weather, at least when the sun is out. It is a bit more windy than yesterday, and the clouds are building - the reports are for a little rain tonight, than clearing for the rest of the weekend.

More trailers arrived today for the 4th Fall Mini Rally - there are a total of 8 of us so far, with three more expected. Lots of dogs, in fact, more than trailers and almost more than people! They come in all sizes - check the photos.

Most of today was spent saying hello, and finishing my current book The Walking by Bentley Little.

Dinner was the rest of the Caesar Salad & a steak & pepper sandwich made with leftover steak from yesterday.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Day 3, Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA

The Other Early Arrivals
Wednesday November 2, 2016 - Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA, 173.3 Miles, 706.2 Miles For the Trip

Much nicer this morning, the low for last night was 55°F. While I did set up the electric heater, I really didn't need it. 

Since I knew today's trip would be shorter than the last couple of days, I was in no rush to get started. I took a shower, relaxed over breakfast, read a few blogs & forums, then headed out around 9:30. Almost all of today's drive was on I 81. Again, lots of trucks, but the traffic wasn't too bad.

I arrived at Hungry Mother State Park around 12:30, stopped by the main office & paid for 4 days of camping. There is a mini rally Thursday - Sunday, and since I'm going by I decided to attend. There are 3 other early arrivals, all Casitas. I'm in site 35, a full hookup site for the non resident price of $42.31 per night.

I walked around the campground, checked out the bathrooms (there is an old & new building - the new building has individual showers & is definitely nicer.) I also wandered over to the other fiberglass trailers and said hello.

Other than that I made a short run to Food Lion for some fruit & vegetables, and, of course, picked up much more. I got a "T" bone steak that was on sale (at least was after I signed up for a discount card).

The rest of the afternoon was spent sitting outside & reading. Dinner was the steak, a salad, and a glass of Bogle Essential Red 2013 wine. The rules say you have to drink inside your "camping Unit" but I cheated and ate at the picnic table.

Until next time -

Day 2 - Walnut Hills KOA, Staunton, VA

Site 50
Tuesday November 1, 2016 - Walnut Hills KOA, Staunton, VA, 260.9 Miles, 532.9 Miles For the Trip

It was a cold morning - 33°F (that is a dash, not a minus sign) when I woke up at 7:00AM. After breakfast I unhooked the water & power cord - a bit more difficult to roll them up, but at least they weren't frozen! I'm also glad I don't have the weight distribution hitch - those bars would have been cold on the hands hooking up.

As with all trips, things didn't go quite as planned. I arrived at Natural Chimney Community Park & found it closed for the season. I guess leaving a week later than last year is long enough to hit more closed parks - the closest one I found using AllStay's Camp & RV was also closed. So, I'm in another KOA. The Walnut Hills KOA in Staunton, VA is open. I'm in site 50, a strange back in/pull in site just across the road from the office. Water & Electric for $35.80. Unlike the Jonestown KOA, the WiFi is free, and as fast as my Jetpack.

I added a WiFi Ranger Mini, a high powered WiFi transceiver that is mounted on the roof of the trailer & it finds far more hotspots than the laptop alone. I'm using it for this post.

Lots of truck traffic on I 81, but the weather kept getting better the further south I drove. Here at the campground it is 70°F and sunshine! After setting up the trailer (it was level enough that I didn't have to unhook or even use any leveling) I got out a chair and sat in the sun reading. It went behind the clouds around 4:30 so I started dinner.

It is on the stove as I type - a Bubba burger & Bush's Bourbon & Brown Sugar beans.

Until next time -