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 -