Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Day 8, Home, Oswego, NY

Day 8, Home, Oswego, NY - 133.2 miles, 795.9 for the trip.

The predicted rain didn't start until after breakfast, just in time to get me as I packed up the trailer. Actually, there wasn't much to packing up; just putting away the Anderson Levelers. I didn't even run down the stabilizers so it was only a 30 second job to get ready to go.

I pretty much followed NY 3 through the Adirondacks, argued with Matilda, my GPS as to whether staying on 3 or hopping on I 81 for 40 miles was the best route. I picked NY Rt 3. Lots of small towns, in including one larger one (Watertown, NY) but a pleasant drive even in the rain.

I arrived in Oswego around 1:00, parked the trailer for a couple of months, but am putting off unloading until tomorrow.

I decided I didn't want to cook, so since Rudy's is closed (only open Wednesday through Sunday until Memorial Day), I headed to Price Chopper for their popcorn shrimp dinner.

Until Next Time -

Monday, May 21, 2018

Day 7, Cranberry Lake State Park, NY

Site 50
Day 7, Cranberry Lake State Park, NY - 91.3 miles, 752.7 for the trip.

While I could have made it home in one shot, I decided that since I'm in the Adirondack park with my trailer, why not stay another night? It is funny, I have tent camped in the Adirondacks a bunch of times, many with my parents when I was living in Croton-on-Hudson, NY down in Westchester county. Since moving to upstate NY less than a couple of hours drive from the Adirondacks, I've made a number of Fall trips to photograph the colors, but since most of the campgrounds are closed, never taken the trailer, and, since the Fall nights generally get into the low 20's, stay in motels. Even many of the motels are closed for the season. One would thing they could make enough with the Leaf Peepers to stay open, but few do.

So, here I am in the Cranberry Lake State Park. This is the furthest west campground on NY 3, and is huge. 171 sites, all dry, and many only suitable for tents or a small Class C or B RV. They let you cruise the campground with a list of open sites, pick one out, then go back & pay. I'm in a pull through about 1/2 way to the end of the campground and not too far from the bathroom. Unfortunately, the showers are much further away. Good AT&T coverage, fair Verizon with an amp, but fading between no service & one bar on my phone without an amp. Neither are very fast, particularly uploading. The site price is $2.00 more than the DEC campground last night at $22.75.

The infamous Adirondack Black Flies are out, but not too bad, particularly after I fired up my Thermacell. It worked well combined with a light breeze. When the wind was blowing the bugs went away, and when it stopped, they moved on. I spent most of the day outside reading and enjoying the sun.

Dinner was a Quorn "Chicken" patty (tastes like chicken, but is a vegetarian product) my daughter recommended, along with fresh asparagus.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Day 6, Lincoln Pond DEC Campground, NY

The View From Site 8, Lincoln Pond DEC Campground
Day 6, Lincoln Pond DEC Campground, NY - 254.5 miles, 661.4 for the trip.

The rain eased off during our late dinner, although it never completely stopped until midnight or so (hard to tell with the trees dripping). We headed to the pavilion for another pancake breakfast, but I guess the campground decided there weren't enough of us left to make it worth it to do breakfast. There was a coffee pot, so all was not lost. Yesterday we walked to the office to make reservations for next year. They have a policy that if the people on a site want it for next year & reserve before the end of the rally, they have first dibs on the site. We wanted to switch to a couple of the lakeside sites & reserved 48 & 50, but discovered this morning that the couple on site 48 are coming back. Not sure of those on 50. So, we may be back on the same sites for next year.

I packed up the trailer and was on the road by 9:00. Lots of secondary roads with a few short drives on interstates to get to the Warrensburg Travel Park. A unique way to check in - there is a walkie talkie in a basket with instructions on how to use it to call the office staff. When they finally arrived, I discovered that a campground that was labeled mid priced by AllStays was $60.00 per night. Feeling cheap, I headed to the Lake George Battleground State Park. A great location, but the campground was closed.

During my search for campgrounds yesterday, I found a DEC campground that opened the day before near Elizabethtown, NY. A bit further north than I was planning to stop, but it gives me an excuse to drive through the Adirondack Park to get home tomorrow. Much more interesting than NY 5 or NY 20. I'm in site 8, a dry, almost level pull through site with a great view of the pond at $20.75 per night. I didn't need to unhook from the truck, although the tongue is about a 1/4 bubble high. There are hot showers, but they are at the swimming bath house a fair distance away. The nearby bathroom does not have showers. A site photo is on today's LakeshoreImages page.

Connectivity is good on both AT&T & Verizon, although the upload speed for AT&T choked when I accidentally attempted to upload full sized (12.5MB) versions of today's photos. I forgot to switch from the full sized jpg setting I used for the group photo yesterday. By the way, Verizon had no problem with the large files, but I reloaded my normal sized images. I spent what was left of the afternoon reading, then fired up the oven for a Boston Market Chicken Pot pie, my first.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Day 5, Chocorua KOA , Chocorua, NH

Day 5, Chocorua KOA , Chocorua, NH - 0 miles, 406.9 for the trip.

We spent the morning doing trailer tours. I didn't get to see too many since there was lots of interest in the Lagun table mount I added to the Escape & spent most of the time giving tours. After the tours we sat outside Anne & Guido's trailer until the rain started. Fairly light rain, but it started around 3:00 and continued well into the evening.

Around 6:30 there was a talk & listen session at the rec room. We talked about solar, trailers, and travel.

Dinner was Anne's Chicken Artichoke over pasta.

Until Tomorrow

Friday, May 18, 2018

Day 4, Chocorua KOA , Chocorua, NH & the Spring Fling

Jerry, The Rally Host Grilling Chicken
Day 4, Chocorua KOA , Chocorua, NH - 0 miles, 406.9 for the trip.

I slept in this morning, mostly because I didn't turn on the electric heater last night and it was down to 58°F in the trailer at 7:00AM. It was cool most of the day, although lots of sun. I did some reading, both on the computer & a book on the Kindle. I finished the current one (Red Hope by John Dreese) and started a real hardcover book (Bermuda Schwartz by Bob Morris). I've read a couple of Morris' books and enjoy them; found it at the campground library.

We all headed to the pavilion around 2:00 for the campground one pot cooking demonstration and recipe trading. A little later it was time for the pot luck dinner. Jerry (the rally host) grilled a pile of chicken thighs, and, with the usual sides to pass, there was plenty of great food for all. After the dinner there was a raffle. While I didn't win anything, Guido won a radio I tried to give him earlier. The donations from Escape Trailer Industries were appreciated by many.

Dinner was the pot luck. More photos at the update to the Spring Fling page.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Day 3, Chocorua KOA , Chocorua, NH

A Spiffed up U Haul towed by a Woodie
Day 3, Chocorua KOA , Chocorua, NH - 0 miles, 406.9 for the trip.

Since the pot luck is Friday, rather than Saturday, I decided to make the blueberry pies this morning. It was still cool (in the upper 50's), so I decided to bake them in the trailer oven. I used a new silicon pie edge protector and drip collector recommended by a fellow pie maker (thanks, Earline!) and both worked well. The pies were made with my own blueberries, but frozen, so the pies may be a bit juicy, but they taste better than the generic store bought frozen berries.

After the pies were out of the oven I made a round of the campground for some photos, then we made a run to the closest grocery store (about 7 miles away) for some celery & other supplies to make my Anasazi Beans, Rice & Chicken for dinner. It, like all the times I make it, was an experiment, but we all liked it. No matter how much I make, I always seem to have 2 one person batches left over. I froze them for next time.

At 6:00 there was a cheese social at the pavilion. Met some old friends and new ones, then headed back to the trailer for my 7:00 eye drops and to post today's pages. No pictures specific to this page, but a bunch at the Spring Fling page.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Day 2, Chocorua KOA , Chocorua, NH

Anne Using the Harbor Freight Bug Zapper

Day 2, Chocorua KOA , Chocorua, NH - 200.6 miles, 406.9 for the trip.

A pleasant drive along NY, VT & NH secondary roads to the Chocorua KOA. Like last year, we stopped at a  Hannaford grocery store along the way for some supplies. We are in sites 45 & 47, full hookup, pull through sites that are at a reduced price of $38.00 or so per night. I say "or so" because they gave Guido a different price even though I made the reservation. We set up, then sat around enjoying the nice weather. Site photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

While they are not as bad as Adirondack black flies, there are some annoying ones here at the campground (along with the usual mosquito or two). I dug out the Harbor Freight bug swatter, an electronic bug zapper built into a tennis racket. Anne had a great time zapping the flies buzzing around Guido. It works surprising well, with the satisfaction of a loud "ZAP" as it fries a bug. A little later we got out my Thermacell, which, while not as satisfying, is a lot easier to use.

We met a couple across from us in a Trillium, and there is a Casita & Scamp 13 elsewhere in the campground. That was about it for the day.

Dinner was Shrimp Alfredo put together by Anne. I'm getting spoiled not making my own meals, even if most of mine come out of the freezer in a box.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Day 1, Broken Wheel Campground, Petersburg, NY

Site 28
Day 1, Broken Wheel Campground, Petersburg, NY - 206.3 miles, 206.3 for the trip.

I returned from a 270 day trip to pick up a new Escape 21 & spend the winter in Quartzsite, AZ about 2 weeks ago. While I enjoyed staying in a full sized house, it is time to hit the road again. This is a much shorter trip (about a week) to the Chocorua KOA in Chocorua, NH. Around 30 or so fiberglass RVs will rally the 17th - 19th at the campground.

Since I prefer to limit my traveling to around 200 miles per day (actually, I prefer 150), I looked for an open campground half way to Chocorua. Most are still closed - here in the northeast Memorial day is the usual opening day. The Broken Wheel Campground opened last week, so here I am. I'm is site 28 (I think - the signs are a bit confusing), a water & electric site on grass for $32.50 per night. Very clean bathrooms a bit of a walk from the trailer. They also have a large rec room, complete with a book trading library. A big difference from last year- today is is 72°F, last year it was in the low 50's.

I had washed & waxed the trailer yesterday (it needed it after the long trip ), so, of course, it rained much of the way here. Both the truck & trailer are covered with road mud. I can barely see out of the back windows (it doesn't help the back up camera on the trailer either!

The rain stopped as I arrived at the campground, so I got a photo without getting wet. Anne & Guido are on their way from Albany, and expect to arrive around 5:00, providing the rain doesn't get in the way. It is lightly raining here, but there are serious thunderstorms with tornado warnings to the south. They worst area is south of I 90, so I hope it won't be a problem for them. Still, looking at my weather radar app, it looks like it is going to rain for awhile, so we may be eating dinner in the 21. Good time to try out the new table, and Lagun support. Right now I have it folded to the 14" wide set up (still the full 39" width), and lowered to good typing height. I have discovered that with the laptop on the extreme end of the long direction, there is a little shaking when typing. Not as solid as the Springfield pedestal, but much more flexible.

I'll add more after Anne & Guido get here.

Later - They arrived in the rain and are in site 27.

Dinner was chili & applesauce (supplied from Anne & Guido's freezer).

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Adding a Lagun Table Mount

The Lagun Table Mount & Sliding Teak Table
Not a travel journal, but I've been working on some additions & modifications to the trailer.  Most of today's is changing the Springfield table pedestal to a Lagun mount.  While I liked the Springfield better than the two post system Escape provides, the Lagun arm lets you move the table through a range of positions.  The teak table slides so that the two outside sections fold over the center section, making a 14" wide table, great for lounging around when you don't need a large taKD-AR959BSble.

Lots more photos of the table in different positions, open & closed, and the construction of the support for the Lagun arm at an update on my "Trailer Modifications, Escape 21" page (scroll down).

I have a bunch of additions, modifications, and minor repairs that I'll do over the next couple of days. I did install my 4th radio!  I found an Amazon Associate that still had the JVC KD-AR959BS receiver.  It is discontinued by JVC, but worked great in my Escape 17B.  I'm getting tired of changing over the 16 or so splices to install a new radio (even JVC uses a different connector on their different radios), but I hope I'm done.  While I haven't tested it at Quartzsite, it works great picking up a NPR station 70 miles from home, something the other radios would not have done.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Day 270, Tuesday, May 1, 2018, Oswego, NY

Home At Last!
Tuesday, May 1, 2018, Oswego, NY - 111.6 Miles, 7,974.3 Towing Miles For the Trip

All good things must sometimes end, and 270 days on the road is one of them. I had a great trip, but am also glad to be home. I didn't have a 3' high pile of mail; my son made 4 1' piles! Hard to believe how many letters from Good Sam, Companion Life Insurance, and from my medical plans. I spent most of the afternoon reducing it to a 3" thick stack.

The daffodils are out, and the tree that blew over a few weeks ago didn't right itself. Glad it landed in the neighbor's yard, her son the tree specialist can take care of it. Pictures at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Since I'm heading out to the Spring Fling Rally in New Hampshire, I didn't empty the trailer. It still took a couple of hours to get the things I need for daily life over the next two weeks, and to clean out the refrigerator. The tire monitor system I ordered from Amazon is a bust - it won't change from bars to PSI, or from °C to °F. Otherwise, it looks like a nice unit. I started the process of returning to Amazon, but when I tried to print the mailing label, my printer seems to have died. The LCD panel lights up, but no data, no noise, no nothing! I can't really complain - it is a Brother all in one laser printer that is over 17 years old. We will see if Amazon Prime gets me the replacement by Thursday.

I ordered a Lagun Table Mount & folding Teak table yesterday from Everythingboat LTD in England, and the 13KG package will be here tomorrow! Only $38.00 shipping; less expensive than it would be from almost anywhere in the US to Oswego. I don't know what kind of deal they have with FedEx, but 2 day shipping from Great Britain seems like a deal!

Some statistics for the trip:

Total Towing Miles: 7974.3
Towing MPG Average: 11.5

Total Driving miles: 17,403
Total MPG Average: 15.45

Total Gallons of Fuel: 1126.22
Total Cost of Fuel: $2934.66
Average Fuel cost: $2.63

Total Amount of Propane: 46.22 Gallons
Total Propane Cost: $119.47

Total Campground Cost: $4241.66
Average Campground Cost: $16.50
Total Number of Campgrounds: 52 (and one house)

The motels on the way to Chilliwack : 12 nights @ a total of $1162.86, for an average of $96.91 per night. (Note - I fixed a mistake on the total motel cost on 5/5/18.)

In a couple of days, I'll add some of my favorite photos from the trip.

Dinner was a frozen chicken patty & coleslaw.

Until the Next Trip, Leaving around the 15th!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Day 269, Monday, April 30, 2018 - The Guido's, Binghamton, NY

Jon & Karin
Monday, April 30, 2018 - The Guido's, Binghamton, NY - 161.3 Miles, 7862.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

I unhooked the trailer & headed out of the KOA around 10:00. Like last year, I used their free air to check the tires. I was down 3 pounds in two of the tires. I did a little extra rinsing since I'm going to let the trailer sit for 2 weeks before heading to the Spring Fling Rally in New Hampshire.

There was a 45 minute stop & go at a section of I 81 that was down to one lane, otherwise, an uneventful trip to Binghamton. Notice the Scamp in the background of the site photo. Anne & Guido dug it out of storage yesterday. I'm also including a pie photo just because I haven't done one in awhile, and one of me & Karin taken by Zoe. It took a couple of tries - she kept cutting our heads off, but not too bad for an 7 year old! Other photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner will be chili & the snacks from Anne's "whine/wine" group that happen to be meeting tonight.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Day 268, Sunday, April 29, 2018 - Jonestown KOA, Jonestown, PA

Site 67
Sunday, April 29, 2018 - Jonestown KOA, Jonestown, PA - 139.4 Miles, 7,701.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

While it was nice & warm (still in the 70's) at 10:30PM, by morning it was down to 47°F. I wasn't in a hurry to get out of Washington since the morning traffic is worst than the rest of the day (at least until the commute home) and the non commuting traffic is still nasty. I left the campground around 10:30, and for the most part, good driving. I arrived at the Jonestown KOA around 2:00. This is my usual stop on the way home. About half way between Greenbelt National Park & Anne & Don's, easy on & off the interstate, and full hookups so I can empty my tanks before getting home. The bad part - expensive. Even with the KOA discount, it was $49.50 for a full hookup site (including cable, which I don't need.) I'm in site 67, at the far end of the campground. Glad I don't need the showers; quite a hike away, at least in shower shoes.

The day is still cool, hitting a high of 51°F. So far, no rain. I did some reading, then made a blueberry pie. Anne likes my blueberry pies, so I thought I'd use the leftovers from the last rally to make one last pie. Other than that, I didn't do anything constructive for the day.

Since the oven was already hot, dinner was a chicken pot pie.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Day 267, Saturday, April 28, 2018 - Greenbelt National Park, College Park, MD, Day 3

Making S'Mores
Saturday, April 28, 2018 - Greenbelt National Park, College Park, MD, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 7,562 Towing Miles For the Trip

A quiet night, with temperatures down to around 50°F by morning. The furnace barely ran. That was good, because by morning, the batteries were down by 35 amp hours. A warm day with a fair amount of sunshine brought them back up to -9 amp hours be 6:00PM.

After Zoe's soccer game, they all came over to see the trailer and make some S'Mores. We built a nice fire, and did a bunch of toasted marshmallow. The only problem is it was hot enough that the chocolate melted in the wrapper long before it ever saw a toasted marshmallow. Good thing we had lots of handy wipes!

A little after the S'Mores, the girls met a couple of kids their ages that are from Australia on a one year tour of the US. They spent the afternoon playing games. I did take a couple more photos of the Azaleas under better lighting.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

While I can hardly call S'Mores a meal, I ate enough that I don't really feel like a large dinner. It will be some cheese & peanut butter with crackers just to say it is dinner.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, April 27, 2018

Day 266, Friday, April 27, 2018 - Greenbelt National Park, College Park, MD, Day 2

Friday, April 27, 2018 - Greenbelt National Park, College Park, MD, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 7,562 Towing Miles For the Trip

Not a lot to report today. Heavy rain overnight that became mist in the morning, and turned to clouds during the afternoon. At 7:00PM, I was down 16 amp hours on the batteries, having gained only 8 during the entire day.

I spent the day at Karin's with her and, after school, the granddaughters.

Dinner was some excellent black bean burritos.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Day 265, Thursday, April 26, 2018 - Greenbelt National Park, College Park, MD

Zoe & Valerie
Thursday, April 26, 2018 - Greenbelt National Park, College Park, MD - 82.7 Miles, 7,562 Towing Miles For the Trip

The drive north on I 95 was uneventful until I hit 30 miles south of the campground. At that point, lots of stop & go traffic. For some reason, Matilda, my GPS decided that taking I 495, I 695, and DC 295 was the best way to get to Greenbelt Park. I doubt it was because most of the stop & go part of the trip was on those sections. At least I got to drive across the Potomac River and see the downtown Capital District. There is an exit off I 495 to the Baltimore Washington Parkway that might have been faster if I had stayed on I 495, but since I don't really know the Washington DC roads, I followed the GPS. The Baltimore Washington Parkway had the least traffic of the drive. Anyhow, I'm here.

I didn't write down my site number this morning while I had the computer running during breakfast, but since they put signs on the sites, I was pretty sure I'd find my name. I knew I was in B section, but after making a full loop around the campground, no sign for Vermilye. I parked & dug out the laptop, and found I'm in Site 64. I checked with the host, and while there should have been a sign put up by the other host, it didn't happen. The reservation does exist, so no one else should book it. While not perfect, I was able to level the trailer with one Anderson Leveler. I did have to disconnect to get the front to back level, but I planned to disconnect anyway for visits to my daughter's home. $10.00 per night with the Senior Pass for a dry campsite. 3 sites away from a bathroom with a shower. Some shade, but more open for the solar panels than most of the other sites in the loop. I had made notes last year, identifying the clearest sites. Of course that was when I had an Escape 17, and the 21 just fits in the site.

For those interested in the cell coverage for this section of the park, AT&T has a LTE signal of -101dBm, with an download speed of 6.1Mbps, up @ 13.3Mbps, and Verizon has a 4G, LTE signal of -116 dBm, with an download speed of 5.0Mbps, and up @ .6Mbps. No Wifi...

After setting up I called Karin & headed to her house to pick up Zoe at the bus stop. Valerie did the "Take your child to work" day with Karin since Brian is currently in Germany, a bit of a long trip for a one day visit!

After getting back to the trailer, I met a couple from Maryland that was photographing a flowering tree. It was a wild azalea, evidently somewhat rare for the area. A pretty flower, so I had to take a couple myself, even though it was late enough that there wasn't much light left. If the predicted rain tomorrow isn't too bad, I'll try for a couple more photos with more light. More family photos and the azaleas at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Day 264, Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - Fredericksburg KOA, VA

Site 3
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - Fredericksburg KOA, VA - 318.8 Miles, 7,479.3 Towing Miles For the Trip

We still had some rain overnight, but not much while unhooking the trailer utilities in the morning. It rained off & on during the drive. I usually make my second stop at Natural Chimneys County Park in Mt Solon, but decided to try for something new. Lake Anne State Park, VA looked interesting and Reserve America showed lots of open sites for tonight when I looked last night. So many, that I didn't bother to make a reservation. Big mistake. It seems the park is a "Reserve Only" park, one of the few I've run into. No one in the office, no campground host, and no envelopes or slots to do an overnight. So many empty sites, but no way to book one. Surprising for a state park.

I eventually left & headed to the nearest commercial campground that my AllStays app found, the Christopher Run Campground. Again, no one in the office, but there was a list of empty sites on the door. They had a range of prices for the water & electric sites that went from $38 - $44.00 per night, but no way to tell which was which. On top of that, all the available sites were very unlevel, dirt back ins. I don't mind backing in, but these were so unlevel that I'm not sure I could level the trailer, even unhooked.

So, I headed out again. I was putting on the miles. The Lake Anne State Park was a little over my usual drive at 268 miles, but by the time I got to a place to stay, I had towed 318.8 miles, the longest towing day of the trip. The good news is it is only 75 miles or so to Greenbelt National Park, where I'm heading tomorrow. I'm in the Fredericksburg, VA KOA. I don't usually stay at KOAs unless it is for a rally, but I was tired of finding bad campgrounds. I'm in site 3, a water & electric site with 68 TV channels (of course I don't have a TV) and fast, free WiFi, which is good because the AT&T is very slow, and Verizon just passable. $43.67 for the night for a site level enough that I didn't need to unhook.

By the way, I lied about the KOA WiFi. While it started out OK, it is now stalling on every upload. I switched to an amplified Verizon which shows -102dBm of 4G LTE.

By the time I got settled, it was 4:30. I headed for a shower, then microwaved a Boston Market Orange Chicken dinner.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Day 263, Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA, Day 2

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 7,160.5 Towing Miles For the Trip

Another wet & dreary night & day. While it never rained hard, it never cleared, with a light drizzle almost constantly. After doing some forum & journal reading, I decided to put together a Death Valley page. I usually do individual pages for state & national parks, museums, etc that I visit that I've taken enough photos to make it worth it, but for some reason I didn't have one for Death Valley National Park. It might be because the WiFi/Cell coverage is poor at the park, so while I did post the daily journal when there, I didn't take the time to do a separate page. In any case, there is one now. I probably should take a look through my daily journals to see what else I've missed!

I went for a short walk, then drove to the near by Walmart for a couple of gallons of water & new laundry baskets. While the main part of the baskets last forever, the handles don't. Once they break the clips that hold them on, they keep falling off. The plastic under them is not tough enough to deal with the weight of a full basket, so eventually, they need to be replaced. I figure I can deal with it once a year. There are other baskets, but I also use these to store supplies in the back seat of the truck, and they fit perfectly. I use a laundry bag in the trailer, then dump it into a basket when I'm heading to a laundromat.

On the way back to the campground I passed a Chinese restaurant, and decided a late buffet lunch would do the trick. Most of the food was pretty good - I went through two plates full. I do love the Cream Cheese Wontons!

So, dinner will likely be cheese & crackers or something light.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, April 23, 2018

Day 262, Monday, April 23, 2018 - Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA

Site 38
Monday, April 23, 2018 - Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA - 168.8 Miles, 7,160.5 Towing Miles For the Trip

A wet night, although the rain stopped long enough for me to pack up the trailer. Rain off & on, a bit heavy at times on the drive up I 81 to Marion, VA. The only annoying part of the drive was a small SUV that kept passing me, then slowing down well below my speed, then passing again, then slowing down. I don't understand why, but I've run into that more than once! At least it is better than the guy that passes me, then cuts me off to pull into an exit...

I'm in the Burson Campground, Site 38 for 2 nights, water & electric for $43.57 per night which includes out of state pricing & a $5.00 reservation fee (even though I didn't make a reservation). There is also Campground "C",which is now called Royal Oak Campground and the Creekside Campground, which I've stayed at in the past. Prettier, but the Burson makes more sense if you are just staying for a night or two.

I thought about looking for a campground that I haven't visited before, but with the rain I don't expect to do much exploring, and I know what I'm getting here at Hungry Mother since I've been here a number of times before.

For those interested, I checked for cell service - AT&T provides 4.1Mbps down & no upload available (although it did let me post this page), while Verizon clocks in at 57.7Mbps down & 10.7Mbps up, both without the amplifier. The Verizon speed is a huge improvement over what was available the last time I was here. They also provide a park based WiFi which shows 5.1Mbps down & 3.8Mbps up.

I spent the afternoon in the trailer watching the rain, checking some blogs & forums, and reading James Patterson's Merry Christmas, Alex Cross, a real book, not the Kindle. I thought I had read all the Alex Cross books, but this is one I missed.

There are a surprising number of RVs here in the campground. Most of the times I've been here in the Spring, there has only been one or two sites occupied (other than the host, who seems to be the same person every year). There are 10 other RVs in this campground.  I didn't check the Royal Oak or Creekside Campgrounds.

Dinner was a Digiorno Frozen Pizza (well, it wasn't frozen when I ate it!)

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Day 261, Sunday, April 22, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 6

Sunday, April 22, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 6 - 0 Miles, 6,991.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

Not a bad night, although the electric cube heater did come on around 6:00AM. While the day started out nice, around mid afternoon a light rain started. Most of the Eggscursion crowd left, although there are still a few of us holdouts waiting until tomorrow.

I hooked up the trailer and disconnected the sewer hose during a dry spell; I'll leave the rest until tomorrow. I spent most of the day in the trailer reading or on the computer.

Dinner was one of the frozen batches of chicken stew.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Day 260, Saturday, April 21, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 5

The Group Photo, 2018 11th Annual Southeast Spring Eggscursion
Saturday, April 21, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 5 - 0 Miles, 6,991.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

I drove to the Ace Hardware laundromat to do a very large load of laundry. I could have waited, but had a big oops late yesterday. As mentioned, I baked the blueberry pies in the toaster oven on the outside table. It worked well, however the second pie left about a quarter of a cup of blueberry juice in the bottom of the oven. That has happened before, but I forgot to check, and brought the toaster oven into the trailer, set it on the bed getting ready to store it underneath. Then I noticed a trail of very purple sticky stuff across the floor, bedspread & cabinets. I immediately cleaned everything with cold water and half a roll of paper towels, but the bedspread looked pretty bad. I decided I had to try washing it today. It does look much better, but you can still see shadows of purple. Of course I checked with Walmart (where I bought it) and they no longer have the full size available. It is a Kokopelli spread that matched (other than color) my outdoor mat, and so far, I can't find a replacement that I like. I guess I'll live with the minor stain.

After putting the laundry away, I headed for a shower, than sat outside in the beautiful weather reading. Around 4:45 I headed over to the pavilion with my pot luck plate & pies. Lots of good food for all, and they ate both pies so I don't have to figure out what to do with the leftovers. Many more photos of the rally & the pot luck at the 2018 11th Annual Southeast Spring Eggscursion page. If interested, there is a full size JPG of the group photo linked at the Eggscursion page.

Dinner was the pot luck.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, April 20, 2018

Day 259, Friday, April 20, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 4

Friday, April 20, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 6,991.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

Pie day! After breakfast, I drove to the Maryville Krogers. I called them yesterday to check that they had 3 pound bags of frozen Wyman's Maine Wild Blueberries, my favorites for pies. The guy from the grocery department insisted that they had them, and since I'd much rather drive to Maryville than Pigeon Forge, even though it is a few miles further to Maryville, I went. Well, no 3 pound bags of any blueberries, let alone Wyman's. They did have 2 1 pound bags of store brand. So, I headed to the Food City next door. Again, no Wyman's, but I did find 2.5 pound generic blueberries. Like everyone else's blueberries, they were huge, and almost flavorless ones; they work OK for pies, but no where near as good as the smaller wild ones. I'm not sure why the large frozen berries don't have much taste - at home, the best berries of the 6 varieties I grow are around 1/2" diameter. In any case, I picked up 2 bags. They were even on sale!

Back at the campground, I decided to bake the pies outside in the toaster oven. While not 80°F out, it is in the 70's, and I decided that as long as I had electric hookups, why not keep the heat outdoors. Of course digging out the toaster oven was a drag. I keep it under the bed, and it doesn't fit through the doors. You need to lift the entire full size, innerspring mattress to access the larger door under it to get at the oven, which usually means remaking the bed.

I made two pies. Not sure if this is really a two pie crowd, but having a couple of left over slices it better than someone not getting any.

Dinner was an Amy's Thai Pad Thai dinner.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Day 258, Thursday, April 19, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 3

Me & Some S'Mores
Thursday, April 19, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 6,991.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

Back to cool, in the 50's today. I drove to the Smokemont Visitor Center in the park to pick up a US National Parks map for Anne. While they might have them at Greenbelt National Park, I've never been to their visitor center, so I have no idea what they have. It was 10°F cooler at the visitor center than here in Townsend. On the way back I watched a rescue drill at the Sinks waterfall. If it was me, I'd rather have done it yesterday when it was 85°F! Photos of the end of the rescue drill at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I guess I asked too often whether we were having a pot luck (this is not an organized rally), so they left the decision up to me. I'm now going around the campground letting people know there will be one at 5:00 Saturday. How did I end up in charge?

After the trip to Smokemont, I decided to edit the PDF version of the NP US map to add links to the parks that have pages on my website. I may have to also add links to the trip journals that include some of the parks that I didn't put together a separate page. In any case, when it gets finished, I'll add it to the site.

Dinner was the annual visit to the Riverstone Restaurant next door to the campground. I love their chicken fried steak even though they use brown rather than white gravy. The smother it with onions, along with a baked potato & greens, an excellent dinner.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Day 257, Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 2

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 6,991.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

From cold to warm! Mid 80's today with lots of sunshine. I didn't do much other than sit outside & read, and greet & meet other rally attendees. I'm currently reading Larry McMurtry's Folly & Glory. The last couple of books before this were by Elizabeth Peters, and both her turn of the century (1800 - 1900) and McMurtry have writing styles that take a bit to get into. This is the only McMurtry book I've read, and, after an initial "huh", I'm enjoying it.

Again, that was about it for the day. Dinner was a Turkey Bubba Burger, and the rest of the Bush beans.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Day 256, Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN

Site 55

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN - 9.1 Miles, 6,991.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

This morning was one of the coldest of the trip; 32°F at midnight, and down to 28°F at 6:30. While the Escape 21 has a short run of plumbing (both hot & cold water) exposed to the cold running under the trailer to the kitchen sink, they are close to the floor, and had no problem freezing. While it started off last night with only one other trailer in the "C" section of the campground, a couple more moved in, including an Escape 19 from Vermont. Still pretty empty!

I took my time packing up since I was only moving to Townsend, around 9 miles away. I left Cades Cove around 12:15 and pulled into site 55 at the Townsend KOA around 1:15 (There was a long wait at the construction site on the road).

Site 55 is a full hookup, including cable "Deluxe Patio Site" for $44.67 per night including multiple taxes (the listed price was $39.00 per night). The patio is nice, and includes a table with 4 chairs & a fire pit.

After setting up I headed to the local Ace hardware for propane ($2.49 per gallon) and the IGA for milk & dinner supplies. I'm not sure if it is part of the Ace Hardware store, or just next door, but there is an RV sized car wash and laundry next to the hardware store.  One of the bays has 17' clearance, and a ladder/stairway on the side of the bay that can be used to reach the roof, while the rest have 12' to the swivel brush.  I wish I had discovered it on the way into the campground - other than some hand scrubbing, the trailer has not been washed since I picked it up.

Speaking of dinner, it was a steak, corn on the cob, and Bush Beans.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 255, Monday, April 16, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 9

A Yurt, Complete With Wood Stove

Monday, April 16, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 9 - 0 Miles, 6,982.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

The good news - the rain has finally ended. The bad news? It is snowing! I manages to make it through December, January & February without snow, now here in the "South" it is snowing in mid April. Not unusual for my home town of Oswego, but I'm a thousand miles south of upstate NY.

Of course, it could be far worse. I'm in a trailer with a furnace; there are a couple of tenters that arrived late last night that I suspect are not appreciating the morning cold & snow (it was 37°F at 7:00AM, and is only going to get into the low 40's today). Two days ago it was 83°F. I'm glad I planned this trip for all 4 seasons - I'm currently wearing long johns & a sweatshirt, even sitting in the trailer. I suppose I could crank up the thermostat, but for some reason, 60°F seems right.

I spent the morning sitting in the trailer. I had my last packet of oatmeal for breakfast. It will be nice to move to a site with hookups tomorrow. While I have no problem using as much electricity as I want out in the treeless desert, even on a clear day the shadows of the branches over the trailer cut the output of the solar panels by 2/3s their normal. I've been making hot water for coffee on the stove & using the drip coffee maker as if it was a Melita coffee maker. While it works, I prefer just plugging it in!

When I went for my walk around the campground, it was 4:00, and down to 35°F. There are only two other occupied sites - a teardrop from NY, and a yurt, complete with a wood stove & chimney through the roof. I'll bet they are warmer than I am! While there is no snow on the ground here in the campground, it is still falling off & on, and the hill tops next to the campground are covered with a thin layer.
Dinner was a bowl of Campbells' Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 254, Sunday, April 15, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 8

Sunday, April 15, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 8 - 0 Miles, 6,982.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

We never had the predicted thunderstorms, but it did rain throughout the morning. Still lots of wind. I watched the tent campers across the way from me packing up in the rain. While it reminded me of my tent camping days, I have to admit that although I remember packing up many wet tents, we rarely had to pack up in the rain.

I spent the entire day in the trailer other than taking a walk around the campground during a break in the rain. It is quite a bit cooler. Although it hit 80°F towards the end of the day yesterday, and only down to 70°F by morning, the temperature has slowly dropped over the day. Now, at 1:30, it is 65°F.

Very few left in the campground. I can see one tent and two trailers from my site. While the rain has stopped, it is still very cloudy, with the solar panels only producing an amp or two. Not a real problem - I'm only down 8 amp hours since I didn't use the inverter this morning.

Later:

During the afternoon, the tenter left. A van pulled in a few sites down from me, but since it is pouring, no one got out. No idea if they are just going to stay in the van or set up camp.

Even Later:

I had a large mushroom omelet for breakfast, and will put off dinner until later. Well, it is now later, and I just put a couple of Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu in the oven. Usually I just have one, but they have gotten smaller than the last time I had them, so it will be two. By the way, the van gave up & left. As far as I can see, there are only 2 other trailers in the campground, at least the part I can see from my trailer.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 253, Saturday, April 14, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 7

Saturday, April 14, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 7 - 0 Miles, 6,982.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

A little cooler today - good sleeping weather overnight. There was lots of wind this morning. I have neighbors that look to be a biking club or group, some of which are sleeping in hammocks. They put a fly over the hammock, and it is flapping in the breeze.

At 7:00 sharp the garbage truck came & emptied the dumpster one site down from mine. An interesting truck. Unlike most I've seen that drive forward into the dumpster, grab it & dump it over the cab into the back of the truck, this one does it from the side. It has to since there is no room on the narrow roads to approach the dumpsters from the front.

I do wonder how it is possible that every garbage truck at every campground (and I'm speaking from the experience of over 300 campgrounds in the last few years) arrives at the dumpsters between 6:00AM & 8:00AM. What do they do for the rest of the day? I've never seen one at 4:00... Anyway, this one wasn't as loud as most, and I was doing my morning eye drops, so it wasn't a problem. It might have been an unpleasant surprise for the guy in the hammock in the next site.

After breakfast and a walk around the campground loop, I did some reading, and watched people pack up. Storms are predicted for tonight, and some people are leaving today, even though they have reservations through the weekend. At $10.50 with a discount pass, or even the full $21.00, it is an inexpensive campground, so leaving early isn't as bad as it would be at some of the private campgrounds in the area. It may be because it is early in the season, and the lack of a heavy ranger presence, but the usual rules for Nation Park campgrounds don't seem to apply here. A few sites have their dogs running loose (with the owners yelling at them to come back to the site when ever they wander away), kids riding on skateboards (no allowed according to the campground rules), and trash deposited in the bathroom trash baskets rather than in the dumpsters just a few sites away. There is also someone running a (quiet) generator here in the no generator section, and another running their tow vehicle to recharge the trailer batteries. Enough complaining!

The wind continued throughout the day. While there were quite a few clouds, there was also lots of sunshine between them. I even got a bit of sunburn sitting outside. The wind was strong enough that the clouds didn't hang around long. So far (at 3:30) no rain, but it is still predicted for tonight.

Dinner was a pork chop and the rest of the succotash.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 252, Friday, April 13, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 6

Friday, April 13, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 6 - 0 Miles, 6,982.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

Well into the 80's today. I didn't do much other than sit around and read, and make a couple laps around the campground. I did stop at the campground store for an ice cream cone.

Quite a few tent & car campers have moved in for the weekend. Those that arrived yesterday had an experience - strong overnight winds blew down some tents & easy ups. My next door neighbor lost the canvas to his easy up, but it was found by some of the grounds people & returned. The car (or truck) campers are interesting. No tent or trailer - they just park the car, then climb in at night. There was an interesting fellow next to me the other night. He pulled into a site, got out a gravity chair and sat for an hour or so, then tossed the chair back in the car & left.

We are still having lots of wind. So far most of the tents that didn't blow down last night are still up.

Dinner was a Bubba burger & a piece of corn on the cob. Corn on the cob is another food that is difficult to eat with a missing front tooth (I mentioned asparagus a number of posts back). As you nibble the cob, you leave a trail of unmunched kernels that you have to attack sideways to finish. Can't wait to get back to the dentist & my new front tooth (isn't there a song about that?)

Until Tomorrow -

Day 251, Thursday, April 12, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 5

Thursday, April 12, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 5 - 0 Miles, 6,982.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

Another beautiful day with temperatures in the 70's. It was cool enough overnight that the furnace ran a couple of times, but rarely enough that I was only down 18 amp hours by morning.

After breakfast I headed to Townsend to do laundry. I was hoping to put it off until I moved to the KOA for the rally, but I was a couple days short on underwear. I stopped at the Lazy Daze Laundromat and did two loads. I did someone a favor by giving them 40 minutes of dryer time. They had upper & lower dryers, and I started the first load in the upper dryer, then tried to do the second in the lower. I put the $ in the slot & pushed the button for the lower dryer, but instead it just extended the time on the upper dryer. I had to move the clothes to the one next to it. While the dryers ran I posted the last couple of day's journals.

I also stopped at the Townsend IGA for some pork chops & to check out the blueberry situation. Since I need close to 6 pounds to make two pies, and all they had was a single 1 pound bag of frozen, and no fresh, I suspect I'll be heading to Maryville or Sevierville for berries next Thursday.

They are doing roadwork on Laurel Creek Road (the one between Townsend & Cades Cove) so I had to wait both times. While they posted the possibility of a 20 minute wait, it was only about 5 minutes on the way & about the same on the way back. They closed the Cades Cove Loop at 5:00 until tomorrow. I suspect they are going to do quite a bit of paving - there are all kinds of machines in many of the road cutouts.

Back at the trailer I spent the afternoon sitting in the sun reading The Thief's Daughter, the second in a series by Jeff Wheeler. I took a break from reading to take a shower in the trailer. I still have 1/3 a tank of fresh water left.

Dinner was a grilled pork chop & strange succotash. I should have been warned by the label - Whole Kernel Succotash, but all the succotash I've ever had was made with creamed corn, so I was just pleased to see the can. I love succotash, and hardly ever find it. I'm not so sure of the whole kernel version, but better than none.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Day 250, Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 4

A Black Bear in the Woods
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 6,982.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

While it was a cold morning at 32°F at 7:00AM, it turned out to be a beautiful day with afternoon temperatures in the 60's. I got a late start on the Cades Cove loop road,but did get to see a few animals, including turkeys, a bear, and some deer.

I drove Forge Creek Road near the Cades Cove Visitor Center for the first time. A pretty drive along the creek; I stopped for a few photos of the cascades. I also took some photos of a couple of the homesteads along the loop. I've probably photographed them before on previous visits to the park, but why not? Today's photos at LakeshoreImages.

I stopped at the campground store for a hot dog & firewood, then headed back to the trailer to process the photos & put together today's journal. While a nice warm, mostly sunny day, not as much charging as I'd like - I'm still down by 13.5 amp hours at 3:30.

Dinner will be the rest of the chicken, along with more coleslaw.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 249, Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 3

Flowers
Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 6,982.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

Each night is getting a bit warmer. Still cold mornings - it was 39°F this morning, but the furnace didn't come on until 10:30 last night. Around 10:00 I headed for Porter's Flat to check out the wildflowers a neighbor suggested I see. Of course, that meant driving through Gatlinburg again, something I wanted to avoid, but the traffic was fine - I only had to make a few stops at crosswalks. Better than in the park. They are doing roadwork on Little River Road, making it only one lane. A very long wait for our turn through the construction.

I stopped at the Sugarland Visitor Center to pick up an official park map, and found an internet connection through my Verizon Jetpack. Since I had the laptop with me, I posted the last couple of day's pages, a Happy Birthday to my granddaughter Zoe, whose birthday is tomorrow, and checked for new bills. Only 75 emails waiting, most ads.

I tried to find the Roaring Forks Motor Trail, and while I thing I found the start, I never got to the one way part of the drive. Instead, I got a tour of the hillside overlooking Gatlinburg. Very narrow, steep, windy roads that are hard to believe are 2 way. Lots of new construction on the hill.

After I found my way back to US 321, I continued east to Greenbriar Road. Another narrow, 2 way road that turned to gravel after a couple miles. It follows a pretty stream, and eventually ends up at a parking area for the Porter Creek Trail. I'm not sure I actually found the Porter's Flat, but the trail had a pretty stream with lots of cascades. I stopped to photograph a bunch of them, and eventually reached a field of white wildflowers. Along the way I also photographed Trillium, mostly white, but a new version I've never seen - a yellow trillium, at least that is what a hiker called them. A couple other purple flowers, and some interesting bridges. The longest single log bridge was solid, but at least one group of hikers turned back rather than crossing it. It was a bit of a drop to the water below, at least compared to an earlier one, and fairly long, but it didn't bother me at all. Now if there weren't handrails, it would be a different story!  Many more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

On the way back I stopped at the Gatlinburg Post Office to mail the grandkid's cards, and filled the truck tank across the street. Since it was a gas station attached to a Food City, I picked up a couple of things, including some fried chicken for dinner.

I got back to the trailer around 6:00, found the batteries fully charged (recharging the laptop & doing today's photos & page had dragged them down by 8 amp hours).

Dinner was a fried chicken leg & thigh, along with more coleslaw.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Day 248, Monday, April 9, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 2

Monday, April 9, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 6,982.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

Another cool night, getting down to 39°F, and only warming into the mid 40's during the day. The furnace is running off & on while set at 59F. A couple short bursts of very light rain overnight, and during the morning, and heavy clouds all day. I didn't do much of anything today other than a couple of walks around some of the campground loops. Not enough sun to put back what I used overnight - the solar panels are only producing a couple of amps. As of 1:00 I'm still down 15 amp hours. I checked the propane, and I'm still on the first tank, so I don't need to head to town for a refill.

Because of the cloudy day, I made my morning coffee on the stove, and had oatmeal with hot water rather than in the microwave. I do wish it was at least 10 degrees warmer. Of course I'm better off than the tent campers that are in some of the nearby sites. They are huddled around a campfire!

Dinner was a chicken pot pie.

Around noon on 2/10/18 I found a cell signal at the Sugarland visitor center, so I posted the last 2 day's pages.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 247, Sunday, April 8, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN

Site 35
Sunday, April 8, 2018 - Cades Cove Campground, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN - 70.2 Miles, 6,982.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

It didn't get into the 20's last night - the low was 34°F, still cold enough for the electric cube heater to be running at full blast most of the time. Since it was only 50 miles to Elkmont Campground, I was in no rush to get out of the Triple Creek Campground. I eventually left around 11:00, followed the GPS, watching many of the cars coming towards me covered with a couple of inches of snow. Matilda routed me through the middle of Gatlinburg, something I will try to avoid doing again, then into the campground, which had snow melting off the trees, but none on the ground or roads. While a beautiful campground with a stream running behind many of the sites, it wasn't the campground I wanted. I realized that Cades Cove had its own campground, which was where I wanted to be. Another 22 miles on some narrow, windy roads, many sections with no guard rails that are paved right to the drop to the stream. I've driven them in both the RAV4 & Tacoma, but not towing the trailer. Glad the speed limit was 35MPH, and much of the time there were cars in front of me doing 30MPH or less. I did pull over a couple of times to let those behind me go by, although it didn't do them much good with the slow drivers in front, and double lines on the road.

Both campgrounds are pretty much empty, with an entire section of Elkmont closed. Cades Cove looks to have all the sections open. I drove through most of the loops, looking for sites that had as little shade as possible so I wouldn't have to dig out the portable solar panel. I'm in site C35, a back in, fairly level site within sight of the Cades Cove Camp Store, and a few sites away from a heated, but showerless bathroom. The camp store was open, so I bought a "T" shirt & a couple of postcards for the granddaughters. If I get hungry & lazy, they have hot dogs & burgers along with snacks.

Site C35 is, like all the sites in the park, dry camping. It is also in the "No Generator" section, not that that is a problem for me. I will have to readjust back to the dry camping mode & try to keep my electric usage down. I won't be wasting any electricity on the internet - as expected, there is no coverage with either Verizon or AT&T, even with the amplifier. I was hoping the camp store provided WiFi, but no such luck. There is one NPR station, and even with the trees, my XM Radio is picking up the satellite, so all is not lost! To post pages, it will be at least a 6 mile drive to the closest place I can expect to find anything. I'll still do a page update every day and post them when I can.

I just got my first "Wildlife" photo in the campground - a hen turkey wandering by a few sites away.



After setting up, even though there was no internet signal, I started today's page while there was still enough sunlight to run the computer without draining the batteries. I'm only getting enough to barely break even - heavy clouds, and while there are no leaves, there are many fine branches shadowing the panels. We will see how it goes if the sun comes out. Unfortunately, I can't look up the weather on the computer. I sure am dependent on the internet!

The rest of the afternoon was spent reading. I wish I had downloaded a couple more books to the Kindle. I just started a series (The Queen's Poisoner, by Jeff Wheeler) and I won't be able to continue to the next book until I can download it.

It is still pretty cold at 47°F at 3:00, so I'll probably do something in the oven for dinner. That way I don't use the heat just for cooking! I do have to run the range hood fan, otherwise the CO detector goes off.

Dinner was a couple of El Monterey Chicken, Cheddar and Mozzarella Cheese Empanadas, and coleslaw.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Day 246, Saturday, April 7, 2018 - Triple Creek Campground, Newport, TN, Day 4

Saturday, April 7, 2018 - Triple Creek Campground, Newport, TN, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 6,912.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

I suspect we will be heading for the predicted low in the 20's tonight - it is getting cooler as the day goes on. Rather than rolling up the water hose in the cold morning, I unhooked the water line this afternoon at 45°F. I then headed to for a shower in the restroom. Good size, both the shower & drying area, plenty of hot water, hooks, a bench, and dry deck on the drying area floor. The only minus is not much in the way of heat in the bathroom. I could hear a blower pushing air through some ceiling vents, but the air coming out sure didn't feel warm. While the shower was nice & warm, it was rapid toweling to dry off!

The creek behind my trailer is now definitely a stream, maybe even a river. there was light to medium rain all night, and a "heavier than a mist, but not rain" all day so the creek is going strong. No where near the top of the banks, but you can't see any of the rocks it was tumbling around the other day.

I spent the entire day reading in the trailer.  I'm currently on the 2000th book in my reading database (I have to keep a list of what I read on my phone so I don't end up buying or trading for the same book a few years after I read it). I hate getting a couple of chapters in a book suddenly realizing that I know what will happen next. Sometimes it is the writing, but usually I find I read the book a few years back. There is the advantage that if it is more than a few years, I can read a book as if it was new! The joys of aging... While I started the database in 2006, I have read thousands of books before previous to starting the database!

I'm listening to KJZZ in Phoenix on my iPhone, and while I'm complaining about the cool weather here, it is 95°F there. Hard to decide which I'd rather have, but if I can't have the mid 70's, I think I'd prefer the cold.

Since the site is fairly level, if the drizzle stops, I may go out & hook up the trailer this afternoon rather in the morning. Those weight distribution bars are COLD on cold mornings. It did stop around 3:30, so I'm all hooked up. All I need to do in the morning is crank up the stabilizers, pull the chocks & Anderson Leveler, and the electric hookup. It is now down to 43°F. I'm glad I hooked up when I did; the "falling stuff from the sky" has become rain rather than mist or drizzle.

I called my son in Oswego, and we have a tree down in the back yard. It was planted many years ago by my neighbor directly on the property line, and her son runs a tree service, so I hope they will take care of it. Since it is a pine tree, the wood isn't useful for the wood stove...

If I remember correctly, I won't have cell service at the Elkmont campground (where I hope to find a home tomorrow), so I may not be updating the web pages for a week or so. Hopefully, either Verizon or AT&T has expanded their coverage, but if not I'll update the blog & website when I can.

Dinner was a microwaved Boston Market Orange Chicken dinner. I'm saving the baked stuff for Elkmont, where I'll be camping without hookups. While my solar would usually provide the ability to use the microwave & other high power appliances, much of the campground is in heavy shade. There aren't leaves on the trees yet, but most of the sites are still tree covered.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, April 6, 2018

Day 245, Friday, April 6, 2018 - Triple Creek Campground, Newport, TN, Day 3

Friday, April 6, 2018 - Triple Creek Campground, Newport, TN, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 6,912.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

Not quite as cold overnight, although it didn't warm up much during the day. Little sun, and as I'm typing this, a bit of rain. I did make the trip to the local Walmart, about 5 miles from the campground. While my GPS didn't label it as a Super Walmart, it is, in fact, one of the larger ones I've visited. I bought a few more things than just the water I went for, including some excellent oatmeal cookies. While I suspect that all Walmarts use the same recipe for their store baked products, they sure can be different between stores. This one has very good baked products, although I didn't find any bagels.

Back at the trailer I did some reading, both on the computer & the Kindle. While the weather report calls for overnight temperatures in the 40's, tomorrow's high is predicted to be in the low 40's, and overnight temperatures in the mid 20's. If so, that would be the coldest of the trip. Maybe I should roll up my water hose before tomorrow night!

Dinner was a Chicken patty sandwich along with a spinach salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Day 244, Thursday, April 5, 2018 - Triple Creek Campground, Newport, TN, Day 2

Thursday, April 5, 2018 - Triple Creek Campground, Newport, TN, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 6,912.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

Well, it wasn't warm last night. 32°F by morning, and the electric heater was going full blast around 6:00AM. It never warmed up all that much until late in the day, and even then it only got to 64°F. I'm not doing well at chasing the 70's!

Since it was in the 40's most of the day, I spent most of it in the trailer. I did some of my usual reading, started a library copy of J. A. Jance's Dual to the Death. While I prefer some of her other series, this one is doing OK so far. I finished Walter Mosley's Down the River Unto the Sea last night & found it enjoyable. I also did my usual blog & forum reading, and started working on a workshop I'm giving at the Boler 50th Reunion in August.

The description of the workshop: "This workshop is designed for those with adjustable cameras (advanced Point & Shoot or DSLRs) that are interesting in gaining more control over your camera than the program or automatic modes provide.

We will discuss the effect of choosing the Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO on the resulting image, and how you can alter these settings to produce images that are not possible on the program/automatic setting."

If you are interested, come to the reunion. There is room for 1000 trailers, and there are already hundreds registered.

That was about it for the day. Tomorrow I have to make a run to a grocery store for water. I still use bottled water for cooking & coffee, and am just about out.

Since it did warm up to 64°F around dinner time, I grilled a chicken thigh, and made Vigo Yellow Rice & fresh broccoli for dinner. The small 5 ounce bags of Vigo Rice were a find at the Ingles Grocery Store - the larger ones just make too much for one person. As it is, I have leftovers for tomorrow.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Day 243, Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - Triple Creek Campground, Newport, TN

Site 48
Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - Triple Creek Campground, Newport, TN - 80.8 Miles, 6,912.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

A warm night - 70°F when I went to bed, and 60°F when I woke up. We did have some overnight rain, even a bit of thunder, but all that was left by 10:00 when I broke camp was a few drips off the trees.

The drive on I 26 was interesting. They are doing tree clearing just after the left lane ends, and the trucks are in the right lane, leaving only one lane for traffic. When I was on my way home from the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday I noticed that the north bound side of the interstate was at a dead stop for over 5 miles, now I know why. Less traffic today, so we never actually stopped, but a few miles of 5MPH driving.

I 26 turned onto I 40, which wound its way through the Smokey Mountains at 55MPH. All in all, it took me 2 1/2 hours to do the 80 miles to the Triple Creek Campground. While the campground didn't have great reviews, it closed since the last review, and has been reopened with new owners. While not a resort, it is more like a state park than Apple Valley or many of the other commercial campgrounds I've stayed at. I'm in site 48, a water & electric site for $40.59 with taxes & a Good Sam discount. I'll have to get used to spending more than usual for sites, at least here in the east. Not much in the way of free or inexpensive campsites! I'm still under $15.50 per night for the trip average.

The site is backed by a small, gurgling stream. A combination of gravel & grass (and dirt) but fairly level. I could have stayed hooked up, but since I'm here for 4 days, I decided to unhook and level the trailer. I would have been a bit more on the gravel if I had a longer trailer or pulled more towards the front of the site, but the utilities were on the wrong side for a trailer, and I wanted to hear the sound of the stream, so I parked towards the back of the site.

Very clean bathrooms with showers, and heat, which is appreciated since the outside temperature has dropped 20°F since yesterday. A -103dBm AT&T LTE signal, 20.1Mbps down & 19.2Mbps up without an amplifier. Not quite as fast as it was at Apple Valley, but acceptable. The Verizon 4 bar 4G LTE signal, again without an amplifier is at -105dBm, 16.7Mbps down & 11Mbps up. The park has WiFi.

After setting up I goofed off for the rest of the afternoon.

I decided I didn't want to cook for dinner (if you could call what I've been doing cooking) so I headed next door to Janice's Diner. I ordered popcorn shrimp, a corm muffin, fries & greens, and while it was OK, the shrimp were the strangest I've ever had. The actually looked like popcorn - no tails, and round, breaded lumps. Inexpensive - with sweet tea, the entire dinner was under $10.00.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Day 242, Tuesday, April 3, 2018 - Apple Valley Travel Park, Hendersonville, NC, Day 3

Pounding Mill Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway
Tuesday, April 3, 2018 - Apple Valley Travel Park, Hendersonville, NC, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 6,831.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

A quiet night. For an older, city campground, Apple Valley is OK. Nothing fancy, but at $29.00 per night, less expensive than most of the area commercial campgrounds. Even the official price of the Forest Service campgrounds is pretty steep at $44.00 per night. Of course I would get 1/2 off with my Senior Pass, but only if I could get into one. They are all filled with Spring Breakers.

I have a Sensor Push remote thermometer in both my freezer & refrigerator. The battery in the refrigerator one died last week (while it is suppose to last one year, it is going on two). An unusual battery - a CR2477 3 volt lithium. There is a Battery Plus Bulbs (didn't they used to be called just Batteries Plus?) in Asheville, about 15 miles away, I called & they had the battery so that was the morning project. There was a Shear Shack next door. I try to avoid chain barber shops (although I'm not sure this is a chain) and stick with the old guy with the spinning barber pole, but it was there, open, and I needed a cut. They did a fine job, although since all I get is a #3 buzz of the head & a #4 buzz of the beard, there isn't all that much skill involved. She did trim my eyebrows, something regular barbers frown on. At $30.00 including a $5.00 tip, one of the more expensive haircuts I've had on the trip, or, for that matter, my life!

Of course I had to go back to the RV Park for a shower - spending the day in an itchy shirt doesn't cut it. After that it was off to Looking Glass Falls. I had GPS coordinates for Skinny Dip Falls, and had to take a photo just for the name, but Matilda, my GPS lead me to a gated road that was still over a mile from the coordinates. I headed to Looking Glass Falls, took a bunch of photos, as well as some of the cascades beyond the falls. My iPhone & Google told me that Skinny Dip Falls was actually on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and that was only a couple miles beyond Looking Glass Falls (a very windy, hilly couple of miles). While I found a number of interesting overlooks, there was no sign for Skinny Dip Falls. I didn't try too hard to find it, but did stop at the Pisgah Camp Store (the campground is not yet opened), and bought a "T" shirt. I got back to the trailer around 5:30, disconnected the sewer hose & water line, then made dinner. Stream, Waterfall & more panoramas at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Greek Salad & a Cracker Barrel microwaved Macaroni & Cheese Bowl. OK, but nothing special...

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, April 2, 2018

Day 241, Monday, April 2, 2018 - Apple Valley Travel Park, Hendersonville, N, Day 2

High Falls, Dupont State Forest
Monday, April 2, 2018 - Apple Valley Travel Park, Hendersonville, N, Day 2 - Miles, 6,831.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

I'm not used to staying in a commercial RV park. Next door neighbor too close, lots of lights at night, including a street light just outside my bedside window, etc. I did take a shower late yesterday. Small showers, plenty of hot water & a standard shower head, a box on the wall that takes dimes, but not needed, 1 hook, and a fold down seat that you can let down after the outside door closes. Very cold - the building, both exterior & interior walls are cement block & retain the night time cold. There is a heat light on a timer in each drying area. Much appreciated & needed, at least this time of year. All in all, a bit worn looking, but usable.

After breakfast I headed to the waterfalls I found in the Dupont State Forest. I had driven through the forest on my way here yesterday, however all the parking lots, including the visitor center, were full. I did find one space, but it wouldn't take both the truck & trailer. Probably just as well since it was crowded enough that waterfall photos without people would have been difficult. They were difficult enough today. The visitor center parking lot was still full today, but the lot for Hooker Falls had space. That is the parking area for hikes to Hooker Falls, Triple Falls & High Falls. I did all of them, including the overlooks & base of the falls trails. Probably a total of 3 miles or so, but only a couple of steep climbs. All the trails were crushed gravel, although climbing around the falls to line up interesting images called for hopping from rock to rock, climbing over fallen trees, etc. Lots of people out enjoying the warm 70°+ day.

Some of the images look like duplicates, however they are different time exposures, changing the look of the water a bit. Again, you can find the details using a EXIF reader on the large version of the image to see location & exposure.  Lots more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I'm having a problem with the ball head on my lightweight travel tripod.  It tends to creep, even with the D850 & my lightest zoom lens, a Nikkor 17 - 35mm f:2.8.  Not as light as some primary lenses, but well within the specifications for the head.  No matter how tight I crank it, it slowly floats down.  Makes for lots of lost long exposures!  I could haul along my "Car Tripod), but while also a carbon fiber tripod, to weighs twice as much (and, I have to admit, twice as stable).

On the way home I passed an Ingles Grocery store. Never having been to one, I stopped in. I have to say it is the largest grocery store I've ever been in; larger than most Super Walmarts. They had just about everything I ever buy except El Monterey Chicken, Cheddar and Mozzarella Cheese Empanadas, which I believe are a Walmart exclusive.

They had great looking Chinese specials on display, so I bought some fried rice & orange chicken for a late lunch/early dinner. A big mistake! The worst fried rice I've ever tried to eat. Either the rice was undercooked, or dried out - it was crunchy. The chicken looked great, but not much flavor to it. I ate some, but gave up, something I rarely do with food! So, while the store has everything, I'm not sure I'd trust their hot meals. We will see how the Sesame bagels are tomorrow morning.

I'll probably have some kind of snack later.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Day 240, Sunday, April 1, 2018 - Apple Valley Travel Park, Hendersonville, NC

Site 6
Sunday, April 1, 2018 - Apple Valley Travel Park, Hendersonville, NC - 204.2 Miles, 6,831.6 Towing Miles For the Trip

It was quite a drive to Davidson River Campground. I don't think I have seen so many curves & hills in years! Unfortunately, the Davidson Forest Service campground was full. I drove up & down more hills & curves, and after finding a couple more filled campgrounds, ended up at the Apple Valley Travel Park. Mostly permanent or long term campers, but they do have a few sites for travelers. I'm in site 6, a full hook up site with cable TV & free WiFi (I didn't try it) for $29.00 per night. I'm here for 3 days. There is reasonably fast -94dBm AT&T service (no amplifier) as well as a very strong & fast -74dBm 4 bar 4G LTE Verizon signal.

Since I spent a couple of hours going from campground to campground (remind me to make reservations for Easter Weekend and Spring Break) I didn't get set up until well after 3:00, late for me. I did a little reading, than made dinner, a chicken sandwich & coleslaw.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Day 239, Saturday, March 31, 2018 - Bolding Mill COE Campground, Gainesville, GA, Day 10

Saturday, March 31, 2018 - Bolding Mill COE Campground, Gainesville, GA, Day 10 - 0 Miles, 6,627.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

Another beautiful day. It did cool off last night, going down to 42°F. I had left the electric cube heater off, and around 4:00AM the furnace came on (set at 59F). I got up and switched on the electric heater to save propane & get a bit warmer (the electric heater is set for 68°F).

There was an Easter egg hunt for the kids, and a few other goings on here at the campground. With Easter & Spring Break, it is a popular time for camping - the campground is very near full, and all the empty sites have reservation slips for people that didn't show up. I walked to the other end of the campground & back for my daily exercise. Met my new neighbors; they like the Escape!

I sat outside and did some reading, and relaxed for the day. I did hook up the truck to save some time in the morning, and after posting this, I'm going to unhook the water connection. I could wait until morning, but rolling up a 42°F water hose is a pain, as is getting soaked in the process, which, somehow I always manage to do. I'll live with the on board water tank for the night.

Dinner was an Amy's Bean & Cheese Burrito, my last, along with the last of the coleslaw.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Day 238, Friday, March 30, 2018 - Bolding Mill COE Campground, Gainesville, GA, Day 9

Friday, March 30, 2018 - Bolding Mill COE Campground, Gainesville, GA, Day 9 - 0 Miles, 6,627.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

Not much happening today. I changed the sheets on the bed, which gave me enough laundry for a trip to the other end of the campground. No one was using the machine when I got there, but they lined up after I started. While it is nice to have an inexpensive laundry in the campground, one machine for 97 campsites keeps it busy. I did two loads, combining them with two sets of quarters in the dryer, so I left 20 minutes of dryer time for the person after me.

I have to admit that after dinner last night, I started a walk, but the rain poured down, so I watched a movie on my iPad. Mostly to see if it could be done using the AT&T Mobley unlimited cell modem, but also to spend a few minutes in the "real" world. As I mentioned, the last movie I watched in a theatre was the second Lord of the Rings.

So, Jack Reacher - Never Go Back was a free movie with my Amazon Prime membership. Now I have read every one of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels, starting with the first (Killing Floor), in 1997. There is absolutely no way that Tom Cruise could ever fit my imagination (and Lee Child's description, for that matter) of Jack Reacher, even with short actresses & well planned camera angles. Tom Cruise is not 6'5" tall! Still, I have to admit I enjoyed the movie. All I had to do is tell myself that it was an adventure movie with a different lead character.

Back to today. A beautiful day, although very windy. Around 4:00 I made a run to town for gas & Publix for another Boston Market Orange Chicken, and a Newman's Own 4 Cheese Pizza for dinner. I did some searching for the next stop (leaving Sunday) and I think I'll try for a first come site at Davidson River Forest Service Campground in North Carolina. It is in the Pisgah National Forest & there seems to be lots of waterfalls in the area.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Day 237, Thursday, March 29, 2018 - Bolding Mill COE Campground, Gainesville, GA, Day 8

Helton Creek Falls, GA
Thursday, March 29, 2018 - Bolding Mill COE Campground, Gainesville, GA, Day 8 - 0 Miles, 6,627.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

I got an email from Amazon that my package ( a pie plate) had arrived at the Amazon Locker at the Quik Mart in Gainesville. They send you a bar code that you photograph with your phone. then show it to the camera at the locker. They also include a number in case the photo doesn't work. Of course I had to try the photo! Worked perfectly! The lockers are actually lockers outside the Quik Mart, so I guess you can pick up your package any time. When you scan the photo, a door pops open with your package behind it. Pretty nifty, and it will make it much easier for me to order from Amazon while on the road. Not sure that is a good thing since I tend to save money while traveling because of the difficulty getting packages.

I started today's photos with one I took last night. The lake looked interesting with the full moon. Lots more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

From the Quik Mart I put some more waterfalls in the GPS and headed north. I never found the first one - Dicks Creek Falls. The GPS put me in front of someone's house. The next stop was a couple of cascades on Bogg's Creek along side US 129. If you want the exact location, the full size linked image for each thumbnail has the GPS data attached.

Helton Creek Falls has multiple sections, as does the lower Desoto Creek Falls (which is not on Desoto Creek). The Upper & Lower Desoto Falls are a bit misleading. it is only 1/4 mile to the Lower Falls, however it is almost all uphill. While the Upper Desoto Falls is 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead, it is mostly level, and a far easier haul. Again, the upper Desoto Creek Falls is not on Desoto Creek; it is on Frogtown creek. Both pretty waterfalls, and both have lots of cascades along the streams below them. There is a campground at the Desoto Recreation area - the Chestatee Knoll Campground. Dry camping with vault toilets & fresh water. I talked with the host, and he has been hosting for the last 8 years. I can see why. A pretty location along a babbling stream.

There are signs all over the place letting you know that you are in Bear Country. I included a photo of a bear clawed tree. I was told they are looking for insects since the berries are not out yet. Almost every group of hikers I met asked if I had seen a bear. The funny thing is the answers when I said no. Half were glad, and the other half annoyed - they wanted to see one.

I got back to the trailer around 6:00, and tired enough that it was a quick microwaved dinner, a Boston Market Orange Chicken dinner. Even after the second one I decided I like them. I'll throw another in the freezer when I find one.