Saturday, June 15, 2019

It's Done!

My converting to lithium project is finished (well, I still have to add a plate over the hole where the old GoPower solar controller was located; it is on order, but hasn't yet arrived).  While I haven't done any actual camping with the new batteries & components, I did do some testing.

The other day I used the microwave to pull down the batteries by 6 amp hours (a couple of minutes heating a cup of water at a 12V draw of 154 amps).  The solar was shut off, and the new converter pumped 34.7 amps into the batteries until almost full, at which point it tapered to float & almost no current.

Today I took the trailer to Seven 0's to have the refrigerator serviced, the bearings repacked, and the brakes checked & adjusted.  While there I sat in one of the most comfortable folding chairs I've ever been in, so they suckered me into buying one.

On the way home I switched the refrigerator to 12V to see how the truck & solar panels would do.  The refrigerator draws 24.5 amps on 12V.  It was mostly cloudy for the trip home, and using the Victron battery monitor remote on my iPhone, I watched it go from as little as -6 amps to as high as 18 amps.  It was a 50 mile drive on back roads to home, and by the time I was back in the driveway I had lost 12 amp hours.

The verdict?  I will still keep using propane while driving.  Maybe on a cloudless day I could break even or even do a little charging while driving down the road, but overall the refrigerator simply draws too much to guarantee arriving with charged batteries.

On an entirely different front, since I was moving the trailer, I would have access to my flower window box, so I picked up some flowers to plant.  It is about 12' long, and I cleared out the left over growth from last year as I planted the new flowers.  As I hit the last section, the old growth was actually an active bird's nest!  A pair of what I think are robins were in a nest almost even with the dirt in the box.  I left that section unplanted, and hope they will fledge before I have to water the stuff I already planted.

Not much else is happening.  I passed my annual physical with flying colors, I'm still adjusting to living in a house rather than a trailer, and already have the urge for a camping trip.  Right now there are far too many projects that built up over the 8 months I was away for me to get away, but if the weather cooperates, I'll get them cleaned up.

Until Next Time -

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Converting to Lithium

Battleborn Lithium Batteries
For a number of reasons, I decided to replace the 6V lead acid batteries in my trailer with a pair of 100 amp hour lithium batteries. Rather than stick the pages of text & many photos here, I'll provide a link to the page I started at LakeshoreImages.  I'll be updating the page ad the project progresses.

Changing from Lead Acid to Lithium Batteries.

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Home From the Spring Fling

The Fruit Trees Are In Bloom
Day 8, Oswego, NY - 219.7 miles, 819.2 for the trip.

I didn't get out of the campground until around 9:30, hanging around in the trailer hoping the rain would stop. Light rain, but I had to dump the trailer tanks, so that meant standing out in it for a bit. No problems dumping, although the water was shut off at the dump station. I used my outside shower to rinse the dump hose.

I drove the same route as last year, through the Adirondacks, picking up NY 3 and following it through Watertown & to 104B, 104, and home. The rain cleared up as I traveled west.

The daffodils have passed their prime, the tulips have just about had it, but the cherry & crab apple trees are in full bloom.

Dinner was the microwave Healthy Choice Honey Balsamic Chicken steamer I was going to have the other night when the microwave fuse broke.

Until the Lithium project starts -

Monday, May 20, 2019

Spring Fling Trip, Day 7

Lincoln Pond
Day 7, Lincoln Pond DEC Campground, Adirondacks State Park, NY, Day 2

As previously mentioned, Lincoln pond is a "rustic" campground, with most of the sites un level & "interesting" to back into. The sites along the pond are the nicest, but even some of them have difficult entries for a 21' trailer. I took a few photos of the pond in between thunderstorms yesterday, more at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I was down 24 amp hours by noon with little sun in site (and lots of shade it there was some), so as an experiment, I dug out my 900/700 watt propane generator, hooked it up to my 1 gallon propane tank & fired it up. I had to shut off the 120V side of the water heater, and put the refrigerator on propane rather than automatic, but the little generator brought the batteries back around 6 amps per hour using the WFCO converter.

I built a fire during the afternoon to use some of the free firewood, but it was only fair - everything is wet. That was about it for the day. Heavy clouds, but no rain with temperatures in the low 70's during the afternoon.

Dinner was just a sandwich.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Spring Fling, Day 6

Site 17

Day 6, Lincoln Pond DEC Campground, Adirondacks State Park, NY

I probably should change the title of the posts to "Trip From New Hampshire to Oswego", but I won't. I left the campground around 9:30, along with many others. We made next year's reservations yesterday. The rules are you get to stay in your current site next year if you want. Jeff of the Trillium next to Don & Anne walked up to the registration building & set up trading sites with me so Don & Anne & I will be next door to each other. While the site I was in was nice, it made for a long walk carrying meals & stuff for making dinners, etc. So, next year Don & Anne will still be in site 48, & I will move to site 46.

Lots of twisty narrow roads for the trip to Lincoln Pond, but that's New Hampshire, Vermont & the Adirondacks in New York. I arrived at the campground around 2:45, and drove around to pick out a site. All the pond front sites were either too small or already taken, but I found a nice location overlooking the pond & fairly close to the bathrooms. I'm in site 17, a dry site on dirt that required a bit of maneuvering to get into & a bunch of leveling to set up. Another minor problem is it is under a bunch of pine trees that are dripping sap. $18.00 per night plus a service charge of $2.75 for tonight. No service charge for tomorrow because NY lets senior residents into the parks for free during the week. A total of $38.75 for two nights.

After getting back to the site after paying at the registration booth, a light rain started while I set the stabilizers. As soon as I went into the trailer, it stopped and the sun is back out. It started out at 52°F this morning at Chocorua, and has been at 80°F most of the afternoon. Some black flies, but I've had much worse in the park.

The plan for dinner was to microwave a frozen dinner, however the rough roads bounced the batteries around enough to break the 200 amp fuse again. I have a spare, but decided to use the oven to bake a Barber Cordon Bleu Chicken Breast. Part of the coming conversion to lithium batteries will be to move the fuse out of the battery box into its own holder, which will solve the problem.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Spring Fling, Day 5

Trailer & Travel Discussions
Day 5, Chocorua KOA, Chocorua, NH

A beautiful sunny day, although still a bit on the cool side. We went to a pancake breakfast, then opened the trailers for tours. During the afternoon I wandered around taking more photos, then relaxed & read for a bit. At 6:00 there was an ice cream social put on by the campground, and at 6:30 a discussion group about trailers & traveling. As usual for rallies, many more photos have been added at the Spring Fling Rally Page.

Dinner was scrimp Alfredo & Brussels sprouts put together by Don & Anne.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, May 17, 2019

Spring Fling, Day 4

Cooking Chicken
Day 4, Chocorua KOA, Chocorua, NH

Quite a bit of light rain overnight and during the morning, but it cleared up around noon. I made a round of the campground trying to photograph the new arrivals. I'm sure I missed a few. I went to the campground cooking demo and enjoyed some Chinese quick dishes.

During the break between the cooking demo & the pot luck dinner I took a shower. The bathrooms are unheated, and it is in the 50's, so I decided it made sense to shower in the trailer. I turned up the heat to around 68°F, and did the usual Navy shower since I don't have a sewer drain connected. My gray tank still shows 1/3 full, so I could have showered longer, but didn't.

The pot luck was great, as usual.

After that it was back to the trailer to finish up the dishes. Sure glad there was a sink at the pavilion. Without it my gray tank would have turned blue. Lots more photos added today at the Spring Fling Page.

Dinner was, of course, the pot luck.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Spring Fling, Day 3

Don, Anne, Lea & Roy
Day 3, Chocorua KOA, Chocorua, NH

It started out as a cloudless blue sky, but light rain clouds came & went throughout the day. Mostly dry. We watched a number of trailers pull in & register at the rally host site.

Around 10:00 I started a couple of blueberry pies. I forgot to bring the brown sugar - don't tell anyone! Around 11:00 some former students, Roy & Lea stopped by and we spent much of the day sitting around chatting. After they left, I took a walk around the campground & took some photos. I'll put a few here, but most of them will be at the The 2019 3rd Annual Spring Fling page.

Dinner was spaghetti squash, sausage & meatballs. After dinner we headed to the pavilion for a cheese & crackers get together.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Spring Fling, Day 2

Site 40
Day 2, Chocorua KOA, Chocorua, NH

The owners of the Broken Wheel Campground had a family emergency, and were never at the campground, but we found a note on our trailer doors asking if we could leave either cash or a check on the porch. If not, no problem, don't worry about it and we will see you next year. I checked on line, and the price went up $.50, so it was $33.00 for the night. A very family oriented campground. I met a couple from Florida that is a 4th generation camper at the campground.

We headed out around 10:00, and followed Anne's directions with just a bit of assistance from Matilda, the GPS. I don't know if Anne renamed the GPS I gave her or not, but mine didn't complain too much when we ignored her suggested turns. As usual, I left the navigation up to Anne since it is far easier for her to check maps, etc while Don is driving.  We did have the longest construction stop I've ever had on US 2; about 45 minutes.

We made a stop at our usual Hannaford grocery store for supplies. As I was trying to fit the truck & trailer into a double parking spot a lady pulled in next to me wedging me in place with the back of the trailer still hanging into the handicapped spot. I did some quick shopping, then headed out to try to move the truck & trailer without ripping off her mirrors (although it was tempting). Having lived with my wife Carol for 4 years of needing handicapped parking, I hate to block any part of one of the spaces.

We arrived at the campground around 3:45, and set up in our "Deluxe Pond Sites". It is a nice site, with a wood deck, glass table with 4 comfortable chairs, a propane grill & a zero gravity chair, but I had to use some boards (provided by the campground) to level the trailer, and use my extra hose & 30 amp cord to do the hookups. While the site has a sewer connection, I can't reach it with my 20' hose. $50.00 per night for a site that usually sells for around $75.00 - we get a discount based on the number of fiberglass trailers attending the rally. A minor problem is I'm in site 40 while Don & Anne are in 48. A bit of a haul to bring dinner stuff between the sites. They give first preference to those individuals that had the site the previous year, and the sites on either side of Don & Anne's both came back this year. We will try for adjacent sites next year.





Site 40

Sit 48

Again, both sites are very nice, however we would prefer to be a bit closer.

Dinner was Bubba Burgers cooked on my new grill, a salad (that had a new meaning to iceberg lettuce (stored a bit too close to the freezer in Don & Anne's refrigerator) and fruit cocktail.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Spring Fling, Day 1

Site 25
I returned from a 265 day trip to Canada, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, and winter in the Arizona desert 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 a couple of days ago, so here I am. I'm is site 25 (I think - the signs are a bit confusing), level 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- when we arrived in 2018, it was 72°F. This year is more like 2 years ago, rain & in the low 40's.

Don & Anne, my traveling companions are on the road on the way from Binghamton, and plan to arrive around 5:00.

I had an interesting event this morning. I made my usual 4 cups of coffee, poured about 2 1/2 cups into my mug, and settled down to look at the morning's email  & check a couple of forums. Because the coffee was very hot, just small sips for the first couple of hits. It cooled enough that I could actually drink a mouthful, and just before swallowing, noticed something besides coffee in my mouth. I dug it out & it was a 1" diameter spider!

Now there are a couple of things in nature that I don't really like, and spiders are one of them. I'm not quite an arachnophobe, in fact I enjoy photographing them & their webs, but still, it didn't make my morning. I've read that no matter where you are, there is one within 8' of you, but eating one is not at all acceptable. What is worse, there were only 5-6 legs left on it - I wonder where the other 2-3 went. The only good thing is it was dead. I suspect it was in my mug when I filled it, & the hot coffee cooked it.

Back to the trip. I left Oswego around 9:30AM, made at a near by CAT scale to weigh the trailer, and a stop for gas & coffee in Clifton Park, NY (no spiders this time), and arrived at the campground around 2:45. No one home at the office, so I pulled into my usual section of the campground.

For those interested, the truck & trailer together weigh in at 10,640 pounds, the trailer 4700 pounds, and the tongue weight at 500 pounds.

I purchased a stinger with an extended shank, hoping it would let me lower the truck tailgate with the trailer connected. While it worked great when I tried it the other day, when I tried to attach the safety chains, they were too short. Back to the shorter shank stinger, at least for this trip.

Don & Anne arrived right on time.

We haven't thought much about dinner. I have some asparagus, maybe if the rain stays to the gentle mist we are currently seeing, we will have it along with Bubba Burgers. Well, the rain picked up, so it is cold cut sandwiches, soup & asparagus.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Trip Wrap Up

The View From Our Balloon Ride at Albuquerque
Well, I'm adjusting to being back in a 1200 sq ft house rather than a 140 sq ft box. I did wake up at 4:00AM wondering why a night light was glowing at the foot of the bed since I didn't plug the trailer in. Then I realized I was in the house, not the trailer!

Some statistics from the trip:

Total mileage - 15,393.7, 11,761.5 towing. Total gallons of fuel (I may have missed one or two fill ups) 1211.4 Gallons @ an average of $2.71 per gallon. Most Expensive gas - $3.35 at Marathon, TX, least expensive - $2.04 at Tucson, AZ. Average mpg for the entire trip - 12.71MPG. Again, I sure hope I missed a couple of fill ups since I thought the truck was doing better than that, at least by the built in MPG indicator. Still better than the Tacoma.

265 nights - Campground costs - Average $21.19, higher than most of my most recent trips. Less time at Quartzsite, more at commercial campgrounds. Propane - 51.86 gallons for a total of $147.52 (average $2.84 per gallon).

More photos during the trip are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

The next trip will be in a couple of weeks, heading to New Hampshire for the Spring Fling fiberglass rally at the Chocorua KOA.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Day 265, Friday, April 26, 2019 - Home, Oswego, NY

Home!
Friday, April 26, 2019 - Home, Oswego, NY - 196.7 Miles, 11,761.5 Miles for the Trip

Home at last, after 265 days. A bit of rain for the first part of the trip, all on secondary roads. After parking the trailer in the driveway, I spent an hour or so unpacking the refrigerator & the stuff that I expected to use today or tomorrow. I'll do the rest of the trailer & truck over the weekend. I don't plan to completely empty either since I'll be heading to the "Spring Fling" rally in 2 weeks.

It has been interesting during the trip back to Oswego. It has been Spring for most of the trip. While it has been nice to see the trees & flowers in bloom, it has also been peak pollen season for most of the trip. While I'm not bothered as much as many, itchy eyes are a pain.

I dug into about 4' of mail, most of which was junk. I did find a check from XM Radio for $.87. I had asked them to apply it to my next bill; I guess they couldn't.

I also had about 10 packages of stuff I ordered while on the road, including a new grill and a Ryobi 900 watt propane generator. While I have survived many years without a generator, there have been a few times where I had to revert back to tent camping breakfasts, and no drip coffee. I decided to get the small generator as a way to top off the batteries after a string of cloudy days.

I'll do a post tomorrow with the trip statistics.

Dinner was a microwaved orange chicken meal.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Day 264, Thursday, April 25, 2019 - Ricketts Glen State Park, PA, Day 2

Harrison Wright Falls
Thursday, April 25, 2019 - Ricketts Glen State Park, PA, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 11,564.8 Miles for the Trip

It was a cool night, with lots of furnace time. The outside temperature at 6:00AM was 37°F. By the time I ate breakfast and puttered around getting ready to do some waterfall photos, it was 10:30, and only up to 50°F. I decided to change into my flannel lined pants for the hike.

I decided to do the lower section of the falls run, starting at the PA 118 parking lot. The nice part about doing this section is it is from the bottom, so when you are tired of climbing the 1000's of feet, going back to the truck is downhill. I don't know if it was warmer at the bottom, or because of the hiking, but I discovered that I really didn't need the flannel lined pants - lots of sweating! I took lots of photos on the way up to "Where the Waters Meet", including a few waterfalls beyond on the Glen Leigh section. About 2 miles each way that is listed as a moderate hike. I found I can still do it at 74...


A warning - if you don't like long exposure, dreamy water photos, it is time to move to a short shutter speed site. While it wasn't the ideal time of year (my favorite is the fall) the absence of direct sunlight made for excellent moving water photos. Many more at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Back at the trailer I did my afternoon eye drops, then headed for the showers. I can't give them more than a C+. The shower sprays on both the shower curtain, and under it onto the dressing area floor. After a few minutes, water is running under the dressing area door into the hallway. The water is hot enough, although very high pressure spray. Nothing to hold your stuff in the shower, and a bench in the drying room that gets soaked. Dry deck on the shower floor. One of the showers was not working, so I moved the dry deck from it to the drying area of my shower. I suspect that it is far more useful in the drying area than the shower anyway - your feet are going to get wet in the shower!

I discovered that there is at least an 3 bar AT&T LTE signal at the bottom of the hill, so I'm, going to grab my Mobley (and the Jetpack if there is a Verizon signal) and head down to try to post yesterday & today's pages.

I had an early dinner (Do I call it a Dunch or a Linner?) of a turkey sandwich & salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 263, Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - Ricketts Glen State Park, PA

Site 104, Small Loop
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - Ricketts Glen State Park, PA - 183.3 Miles, 11,564.8 Miles for the Trip

For some reason, Matilda, the ever "accurate" GPS insisted that it was 485 miles to Ricketts Glen State Park if I checked "No Highways". If I unchecked it, 245 miles, a bit on I 70 and a longer stretch on I 81. I did the I 70 & I 81 interstate sections, and after getting off I 81, re entered the route with "No Highways" it still insisted there was over 400 miles to go. I unchecked "No Highways", and it showed 120 miles to the park, and never took me on a highway (unless you consider US 11 a highway). She must have an "interesting" way of getting to Ricketts Glen. Speaking of ways to get to Ricketts Glen State Park, the recommended entry on PA 487 is from the North. The southern part of PA 487 between Red Rock (why does every state have at least one Red Rock - I haven't seen a red rock anywhere near this one) and the park goes up a 2 mile 18% grade. While I have driven it both ways with the RAV4 & the Tacoma towing the 17, this was a first for the F 150. No problem, it did the posted 45MPH in 3 & 4th gear. I was in 1st or 2nd with both the RAV4 & Tacoma going up (or down, for that matter).

In any case, after 183.3 miles, I was in campsite 104, a dry site for $24.75 per night. I prefer site 103 or 104 because both have less shade than the rest of the small loop sites, keeping the solar panels happy. 104 is the most open when the trees have leaves, although they are just starting to bud today. There are two loops in the campground; I prefer the small loop, although the large loop has some sites on the lake.

The bathrooms are a medium walk, are heated, and have showers.

While there is no AT&T coverage at my site, Verizon alternates between one bar of 3G or 1X service, but no internet. Neither my AT&T or Verizon iPhones show any service, with or without the amplifier. So, it will be a couple of days before I can post anything.

Dinner was a Digiorno Spinach & Garlic pizza.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Day 262, Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - Greenbriar State Park, MD, Day 2

Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - Greenbriar State Park, MD, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 11,381.5 Miles for the Trip

Not much happening today. I did lots of reading, and headed for the showers after my 3:00 eye drops. 2 showers, each with a low volume showerhead at 7'. The water was hot enough that it didn't cool off completely by the time it got down to you. A small shelf & soap dish in the shower, shower curtains on both the shower & drying room. One hook in the small drying room & a bench, with a large bench outside the drying room.

A very nice day with temperatures in the high 70's, and plenty of sun.

Dinner was a Beyond Burger & applesauce.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, April 22, 2019

Day 261, Monday, April 22, 2019 - Greenbriar State Park, MD

Site C24
Monday, April 22, 2019 - Greenbriar State Park, MD - 64.8 Miles, 11,381.5 Miles for the Trip

I gave away the remaining firewood as I was leaving the campground. A short drive, although some stop & go on I 495, to I 70 & Greenbriar State Park. I'm in an electric only site (#C24), a fairly level (at least at the top) that did not require unhooking the truck, but did need side to side leveling. The site is fine gravel with a picnic table, fire ring, & fairly close to the bathrooms. I'm here for two nights at $31.62 per night.

I spent most of the day reading, both my current book (Perfidia, by James Ellroy on my Kindle), and my usual blogs & forums on the computer. I did check the cell service here at Greenbriar - AT&T is at -90dBm, 34.2down & 30.9 up, while Verizon is at -76dBm, 49.7 down & 11.9 up. Both without an amplifier. For those interested, I added the cell statistics for Greenbelt Park to yesterday's post.

Dinner was a microwaved Tai Pei Sweet & Sour Chicken meal.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Day 260, Sunday, April 21, 2019 - Greenbelt Park, MD, Day 4

Easter Dinner
Sunday, April 21, 2019 - Greenbelt Park, MD, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 11,316.7 Miles for the Trip

After a walk around the campground & breakfast (an English muffin since the milk finally went bad, so no cereal), I sat outside and read for most of the morning. After lunch I headed to Karin's for an Easter egg hunt. We had a reservation for dinner ( a treat from Brian's aunt & uncle) in Silver Springs at 5:00. While early for most, I prefer eating between 5:00 & 6:00, so it worked out well.

I added some photos I got from Karin, so the days are a bit mixed up.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was Chicken Parmesan at the Copper Canyon Grill and dessert at Ben & Jerry's in Silver Springs.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Day 259, Saturday, April 20, 2019 - Greenbelt Park, MD, Day 3

Eating S'Mores
Saturday, April 20, 2019 - Greenbelt Park, MD, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 11,316.7 Miles for the Trip

A bit of rain overnight, but not the thunderstorms that were predicted. By 10:00, the sun started peaking around the clouds. Lots of wind, but a nice day in the mid 70's.

After lunch I drove to Karin's & we went to an Earth day gathering in Takoma Park. A bunch of booths with many give aways that the girls liked; I think we came home with far more plastic than we saved...

I headed back to the trailer to do my afternoon eye drops, and a bit later everyone came over to the campground to make some S'Mores.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Cheddar Mushroom Turnover from the Spring Mill Bread Bakery next to the park that held the Earth Day booths. Excellent!

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, April 19, 2019

Day 258, Friday, April 19, 2019 - Greenbelt Park, MD, Day 2

Valerie & Zoe Doing Easter Eggs (And Smiling For the Camera)
Friday, April 19, 2019 - Greenbelt Park, MD, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 11,316.7 Miles for the Trip

After a walk around D loop, I spent the morning reading, sitting outside under the clouds. At least the rain held off until well after I got to Karin's.

At Karin's, we colored Easter eggs, I showed the girls how to tell a hard boiled egg from a raw egg by spinning it, then watched Zoe & Karin built a candy store out of Tinkertoys.

We went bowling later in the day at the White Oak Lanes. The first time I tried Duck Pin bowling; very different, in fact on the first try I fell down.

I eventually developed a technique for the smaller & lighter ball, and still did my usual lousy score, but it was fun.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was half a really lousy cheese pizza the the bowling lane.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Day 257, Thursday, April 18, 2019 - Greenbelt Park, MD

Site D140
Thursday, April 18, 2019 - Greenbelt Park, MD - 99.1 Miles, 11,316.7 Miles for the Trip

I got a late start since I only had to go 100 miles. Of course I forgot that is is far better to stay on I95 to the north side of Washington rather than take I 395 through the center of it, but that is the way Matilda, my GPS wants me to go. Since I don't do the drive that often, I never remember to ignore Matilda. So, a long stop & go drive through the heart of the capital. At least I got a close up view of the Washington Monument!

I'm in site 140 in the "D" section of Greenbelt Campground. I did discover that this is not a National Park, so I have to stop complaining about it being one of the worst kept up NPs, and I have to say that the D section I'm in is better than the B section I was in last year. A large enough site for both the trailer & truck with a picnic table & fire ring. Not too far from the clean bathrooms (that has a shower). Dry camping at $10.00 per night with the senior pass.

After setting up I sat out & read for a bit. My daughter & grandkids won't be home until 3:30 or so.

I made the 9 mile drive to Karin's without too much trouble. We sat around until dinner which was a grilled chicken sandwich, CryFry, and a chocolate shake at BurgerFi in Silver Springs. CryFry is a bowl of onion rings & french fries. The chicken was OK, but nothing special.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Day 256, Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - Lake Anne State Park, VA, Day 2

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - Lake Anne State Park, VA, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 11,217.6 Miles for the Trip

A warm day, with the temperature hitting the mid 80's. After my morning walk around the campground, I spent most of the rest of the day reading, sitting under the awning. A light breeze was nice. After my afternoon eye drops I headed for the showers. As I mentioned yesterday, only 2 of the 4 are operational, and those barely. The hot water wasn't. Barely lukewarm, with bursts of cold. Made for a quick shower. Because of the absence of a shower curtain, a wet floor in the drying area.

Dinner was the other NY strip steak & mashed potatoes, and like the one a couple of weeks ago, tough. I do miss the great meat from the Roadrunner Market in Quartzsite.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Day 255, Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - Lake Anne State Park, VA

Site 42
Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - Lake Anne State Park, VA - 256.8 Miles, 11,217.6 Miles for the Trip

I don't know if I can blame the altitude (2000') or the weather, but it was a cold night. I ran the electric disk furnace, and it was going pretty good at 6:00AM, with an outside temperature of 31°F. It was above freezing when I packed up the trailer, but it was still a very stiff water hose & electric cord going back in the storage compartment. There was still ice on the windshield as I left.

Lots of narrow, two lane roads between I81 & Lake Anne State Park. It looks like I won't have to retrace the route heading to Greenbelt park; VA 208 looks to be more of a main drive.

The reservation for Lake Anne just promises a site; you get to pick one out. A confusing mix of reserved sites by site number, and first come reserved sites (which I have). I'm in site 42, a water & electric site that is almost level (I didn't have to unhook) on pea gravel with a large gravel tent pad. Price is even more than Hunger Mother at $50.94 per night with tax & transaction fee. I'm here for two nights.

The bathrooms are the same configuration as the new building at Hungry Mother - separate restrooms & individual shower rooms, although no shower curtains here, and two of the four are out of service. They do have a laundromat with 2 washers & two dryers for $1.00 each.

Dinner was a Bubba Burger & salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, April 15, 2019

Day 254, Monday, April 15, 2019 - Hungry Mother State Park, VA

Hungry Mother SP, Site 38
Monday, April 15, 2019 - Hungry Mother State Park, VA - 170.2 Miles, 10,951.8 Miles for the Trip

The warmth of the last couple days is gone. in the mid 40's overnight, with the furnace coming on a few times during the early morning. It never got much above 50 during most of the drive, and it is 55°F here at Hungry Mother State Park at 4:00PM.

I'm is site 38, a water & electric site with some pretty trees, and almost level ( I didn't need to unhook) at $47.12 with the taxes and Transaction fee, what ever that is. Not the least expensive, but Virginia state parks are not cheap.

It is cold enough (although if it was mid winter in Quartzsite, I might consider it a nice day) outside that I stayed in the trailer. Even though the sun is out, it is quite windy.

A chicken pot pie is in the oven.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Day 253, Sunday, April 14, 2019 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 4

Sunday, April 14, 2019 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 10,781.6 Miles for the Trip

While we had a minor sprinkle or two, the major storm that made the national news passed north of the campground. After breakfast I talked with my son & brother, then headed to the laundromat downtown. I checked the one here in the campground, but it was pretty busy. The downtown laundromat (in the Ace Hardware & Artistic Bean plaza (the coffee house was closed on Sunday) looked large with lots of commercial machines, but only a few are available. There are signs on all the commercial washers & dryers that they are for commercial users only. Seems it is used by most of the hotels & Glamping campgrounds. There was a crew of about 4 running all of them continuously. I used the standard machines, and since there were only a couple of us "common" people, there was no waiting for washers or dryers.

After returning to the campground, I read for a bit, trimmed my beard, then headed for the showers. The report? A. 8 individual shower rooms plus a handicapped one. Large drying area with drydeck to keep your feet dry, a bench & 3 large hooks. A full length shower curtain that is perpendicular to the showerhead so it doesn't get sprayed, and shelves that hang off the shower pipe for your stuff. The only minus would be a 5 minute wait for the water to get hot enough to use, and while hot enough, if you like it hotter than me, you are out of luck - I ran it all the way to hot.

Back at the trailer I went outside to read, and it immediately started to rain - I'm back inside.

Dinner was at the Glamping tent - leftovers, jambalaya, and brats.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Day 252, Saturday, April 13, 2019 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 3

Group Picture -  12th Annual Southeastern Spring Eggscursion
Saturday, April 13, 2019 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 10,781.6 Miles for the Trip

We made a morning trip into Cades Cove for a stop at ch store for Anne to add to her collection of National Parks pins, then on to the Cades Cove Loop. No bears this trip, but horses, turkeys, & deer.

Pictures at today's LakeshoreImages page. 

After that it was back to the campground to show the trailer to a future Escape 21 purchaser, then some afternoon reading. At 5:00 I grabbed the pies & headed to the pot luck. No one there, discovered that it started at 6:00, so back to the trailer (with the pies). The pot luck had wonderful food as usual, and lots of companionship while eating.

Dinner was the Eggscursion pot luck - photos and information here.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, April 12, 2019

Day 251, Friday, April 12, 2019 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 2

Hanging Around at the Rally

Friday, April 12, 2019 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 2 - Miles, 10,781.6 Miles for the Trip

Another warm night; windows open & the MaxFan running, although not bad enough to run the AC. I made 2 blueberry pies after breakfast. This time 2 1/2 pounds of blueberries was not quite enough to completely fill the pies, but it will have to do. With frozen blueberries I've found that a pie ends up being anywhere from 2 1/4 pounds to as much as 3.

After the pies, I did some sitting outside with Don & Anne, and a trip to the KOA office to sign up for next years rally, I made a couple of rounds of the campground taking photos of those here for this year's Fiberglass Rally.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Around 4:30 we headed next door to the Little Arrow Resort, where Anne's daughter & family are Glamping. They are in a tent, but "Our roomy glamping tents deliver one of the Smokies’ most unique camping experiences. At 539 sq. ft. each luxury tent marries a magical wilderness atmosphere with the comforts of home. Accommodations are furnished with generous amenities including, plush bedding, a bathroom, and heat and air conditioning. The Luxury Glamping Tent features an extra level of luxury with wooden walls separating living spaces, as well as a small kitchen." Quite the tent!

Dinner was a mix of left overs from Don & Anne, and applesauce & wine from me.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Day 250, Thursday, April 11, 2019 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN

Site 55
Thursday, April 11, 2019 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN - 9.1 Miles, 10,781.6 Miles for the Trip

No furnace overnight; it only got down to the mid 60's. I slept late, probable because of the great food for dinner. These southerners sure know how to cook & eat! I pulled out of Cades Cove around 11:00, dropped the trailer off at the Townsend KOA in site 55, a close to level gravel site with a concrete patio, table & 4 chairs. Full hookups, including cable for $48.77 per night with the fiberglass group discount. I added a photo of Don & Anne's Scamp in site 56 at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After hooking up the utilities, I headed to Maryville for frozen blueberries. While there is a fairly well stocked IGA here in Townsend, no frozen blueberries, and it is a bit early for decent prices on fresh. On the way to the wrong Food City (there are a couple of them in the Townsend area, and I went to the one 4 miles from Walmart rather than next door), I passed Garner's Barber Shop, and stopped for a haircut. About a 45 minute wait, but it was a real barber shop rather than a chain.

On the way to Maryville, there was a long wait for a single lane on US 321 controlled by a stop light. I lucked out on the way back and caught the green light.

About 5 minutes after I got back, Don & Anne pulled in. They are next door in site 56.

Dinner was my annual visit to the restaurant next door to the campground for greens, French fries and chicken fried steak (with the wrong gravy - brown) Still, pretty good.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 249, Wednesday, April 10,, 2019 - Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain NP, TN, Day 3

Bumblebee
Wednesday, April 10,, 2019 - Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain NP, TN, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 10,772.5 Miles for the Trip

A beautiful night, although around 6:00AM the furnace came on for one cycle with the outside temperature at 49°F. It warmed up quickly, and after a walk & breakfast I joined some of the other Escape owners for coffee & talk. There are still 4 of us here in the campground, although a different 4 from when I arrived.

I spent most of the day sitting outside under the awning (the sun was warm & the outside temperature in the low 80's) reading. I did take a break or two to try to photograph the bumblebees that are flying around the campsite. They are tough. Too small for the auto focus to work, and as they dart back & forth, focusing manually is "interesting". They are small enough that even though a few images look sharp in the full size image, cropping shows they are not. I also took a couple of photos of the violets along the campground road.  More bumblebees, the violets & a photo of a Pappier Camper are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that it was more sitting in the shade. We have attracted another fiberglass trailer, a Happier Camper. This is the first I've seen in the flesh; a lightweight (even for fiberglass) trailer that has a full width rear door.

So, we have a Casita, a Happier Camper, and 2 Escape 19's, a 15, and a 21; enough for a rally!

Dinner was chicken & asparagus at one of the neighboring Escape 19's.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 248, Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain NP, TN, Day 2

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain NP, TN, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 10,772.5 Miles for the Trip

A second day without the internet - no reading forums, blogs, etc, and, of course, no posting of my own journal. Unless I find some reason to drive to Townsend, I'll probably wait to post the next couple of days until Thursday.

An evening & night of heavy rain. Many of the drains clogged with leaves, the roads were rivers, but we were dry in the trailers. By 9:00AM or so, the rain stopped, and even some sun peeked through the clouds during the afternoon. My neighbor with the contractor generator ran it much of the afternoon, and also letting his dog run around without a leash. I know, I'm whining!

I tried to make coffee this morning & the inverter shut down due to low voltage. Since I didn't run the furnace at all over night, that didn't make sense. In addition, my battery monitor was giving weird voltage readings - 12.7V (expected) then dropping to 10V (very unexpected) and back within seconds, and with only a 1.5 amp load. So,I started tracing things & finally found that the connection of the inverter & battery monitor to the + post of the batteries was loose. Things seem to be back to normal.

Dinner was a Caulipower Three Cheese Pizza. This is the first time I've had one and decided I had to try a pizza that has a crust made with "Real Cauliflower." While the pizza was OK, and is a possible solution for those that can't deal with gluten, it isn't going to replace Paul Newman's thin crust ant time soon.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 247, Monday, April 8, 2019 - Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain NP, TN

Site 33, Cades Cove

Monday, April 8, 2019 - Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain NP, TN - 136 Miles, 10,772.5 Miles for the Trip

It poured much of the night, as well as the morning. I thought about waiting it out before closing up the trailer for travel, but it never got lighter, so on went the rain jacket & out went Jon in the rain. I kept telling myself "At least is isn't a tent!".

After my third "This road may flood during heavy rain" sign, I decided to head for I 40 rather than stay on the back roads. Lots of water on the roads, but none so deep that it was a problem. We did have one section of stop & go on I 40 just before the Townsend exit. Rain most of the drive until the last 20 miles. I stopped at the Townsend IGA for a bottle of juice & some muffins.

I drove into the park, hoping there would be a first come site available. All the reservable sites that would work for a trailer were already taken 2 weeks ago. I pulled into Cades Cove campground around 1:00 after adding an hour because of the time zone change. Finally back on the same time as my kids.

I'm in site 33, a paved (mostly) back in site with a picnic table, a tent pad, a firepit/grill and two trees that require careful backing.  I'm next door to the site I had last year (35). Across the road are the bathrooms (heated, but no showers). Cost for the dry site is $12.50 per night with the senior card discount. The site is just deep enough for the 21 & truck, and while not level enough to leave the truck connected, close enough.

There are still a few first come sites, but there are far more people here than last year (including 5 Escapes. After I set up a small trailer with a yappy dog and a construction generator pulled in across from me. He fired it up to use a 120V electric drill to lower his stabilizers.

I need to shout out to Nancy & Gary - Have a great trip to pick up your new Escape!

Dinner was a group effort (sorta a mini pot luck) of chicken & potatoes put together by the Escape owners.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Day 246, Sunday, April 7, 2019 - Fall Creek Falls State Park, Day 3

Sunday, April 7, 2019 - Fall Creek Falls State Park, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 10,636.5 Miles for the Trip

A bit of rain overnight, and more off & on throughout the morning. I didn't do much during the day, other than reading (Run Away by Harlan Coben), and some blogs & forums. I did get to take a walk during the afternoon, a shower, and some time sitting outside. The shower report: B+. A large shower room with a soap shelf & the same showerhead I carry in my shaving bag. Plenty of hot water and warm enough, although probably because of the 75°F day rather than heating. A 1' wall between the shower & the drying room, which was a good size, 4 hooks & a bench. The only - was no shower curtain, so even with the large shower, some spray ended up on the drying room floor. It would also only get a C for cleanliness; the floor of the drying room could stand a bit of mopping.

Most of the campground emptied out during the day with a few new arrivals, one of which was a Scamp 13.

Dinner was a microwaved InnovAsian Sesame Chicken Noodle Bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Day 245, Saturday, April 6, 2019 - Fall Creek Falls State Park, Day 2

Lower Falls
Saturday, April 6, 2019 - Fall Creek Falls State Park, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 10,636.5 Miles for the Trip

A pretty good day for photographing waterfalls. No rain, but enough clouds to keep the contrast between the water highlights & surrounding rocks within bounds.

I've been to Fall Creek Falls State Park before during a 2016 trip, so other than hoping I would catch Fall Creek Falls with more water going over it than the last time, I skipped the other falls in the park. Unfortunately, the amount of water over the falls the park is named for was the same or less than last time. I stopped at George Hole & took a photo of a cascade below the swimming hole, and discovered that my lightweight travel tripod ball head wouldn't tighten. During long exposures to blur the water is slowly panned down no matter how hard I tightened it. So, I switched to my heavier "auto" tripod, the one I use when I can park the truck near the waterfall. Both are carbon fiber, which makes them lighter than aluminum or other materials, but while the larger one is much sturdier, it weighs twice what the travel one weighs.

I headed to Burgess Falls where there are three waterfalls. Actually, there is no Burgess Falls, that is just the name of the park. There is a Cascade named Cascade, and three waterfalls that, according to the ranger in the parking lot, are named Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Falls, with the lower the largest. As he stated, they didn't get too creative on the names... More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Parking was tight, with a second ranger at the entrance holding traffic until a parking spot opened. The trail from the Cascades to the Lower Falls is 3/4 of a mile, and listed as moderate. The only difficult part for me (other than having to haul my heavier tripod) was the long staircase near the Lower Falls, although a few sections were single file only & the trail was crowded.

Dinner was a microwaved Healthy Choice Sweet & Sour Chicken dinner.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, April 5, 2019

Day 244, Friday, April 5, 2019 - Fall Creek Falls State Park

Site B94
Friday, April 5, 2019 - Fall Creek Falls State Park - 113.7 Miles, 10,636.5 Miles for the Trip

Since I knew it would be a short haul to the next campground, I was in no rush to pack up & leave. I headed out of Henry Horton around 10:00, heading north & east on US 231, US 70S, and TN 30. I stopped along the way at a Walmart for some bottled water.

I'm in site B94, a full hookup site for $39.03 per night. Another "slight" slope, although not as bad as Henry Horton. A very crowded campground with other RVs in front, back and one each side.  A medium hike to the bathrooms.

After setting up I headed to the laundry. One of the few laundromats that doesn't have near by parking. Not a bad walk from the truck, but if I was smaller, I'd be struggling with a full laundry basket. Top loading commercial washers for $1.50, and new dryers for $1.00. No baskets to move your stuff from the washers to the dryers, and only one small folding table. No inside seating, but there are tables outside. They also have a "outfitters" store - "T" shirts +, and a small camp store selling more stuff than most campground stores. Next to the pool is a snack bar. All are a mile or two from the campsite.

Back at the trailer I ran my usual cell tests - AT&T is at -95dBm with & without the amplifier, 30.3Mbps down & 16.7Mbps up. Verizon is at -103 without the amp & 98 with, 52.1Mnps down & 6.6Mbps up. The campground has WiFi provided by Tengonet, a WiFi provider that covers many campgrounds across the US. No charge for the 4 days I'm here, although to log on I had to change my Tengonet password that I've been using for years. Another interesting problem. I went to my bill paying service at my bank and it kept giving me error messages. Tried a different browser since Apple updated Safari the other day, but the same problem. Called the help desk at the bank & they discovered that my IP (the assigned internet address that Tengonet gives users when they log on) kept changing, which upset the bank's secure connection. I switched back to AT&T and the problem went away. Anyway, the speed for Tengonet's WiFi was 4.8Mbps down & 1.1Mbps up. I think I'll stick with my cell services!

I showed the trailer to a couple that are thinking of purchasing an Escape 21, then put away my clothes, and made dinner. I microwaved a couple of El Monterey Quesadillas. No where near as good as the Chicken, Cheddar and Mozzarella Cheese Empanadas, but I've given up on them. El Monterey still lists them on their website, as does Walmart, but I haven't seen them in any Walmart in over a year. I was going to have a salad with the Quesadillas, but it was bad. Should have checked before stopping at Walmart since there isn't any nearby grocery stores.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Day 243, Thursday, April 4, 2019 - Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN, Day 4

A Bowlus Trailer
Thursday, April 4, 2019 - Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 10,522.8 Miles for the Trip

Before breakfast I did my usual walk around the campground, including dropping off a bag of garbage at the only dumpsters, which are located near the entrance. They have recycle stations (plastic & aluminum) at all the bathrooms.

A warm, but cloudy day. Rain is predicted for the next 48 hours, starting this afternoon. I pulled the water line to the trailer, so I would have one less thing to pack up in the morning.

For those interested, I did some checking of the cell & WiFi coverage here at the park. AT&T was at -107dBm, 15.3Mbps down & 9.8Mbps up. Verizon clocked in at -108dBm, and 9.8Mbps down, 4.8Mbps up, both with the outside antenna & Sleek amplifier. The campground has WiFi, with the nearest node about 75' from my location. While I have no way to see how many users are on their network, at 6:30PM, it was running at 4.8Mbps down and 1.5Mbps up.

I also have a shower report. A very high (8') low volume, low pressure showerhead that can't be putting out more than a half gallon per minute, but plenty of hot water. No shelf in the shower, 1 hook in the drying area along with a bench. Clean, but the usual problem of water running under the shower curtain into the drying area, making for a very wet floor. There is heat in the bathrooms, with the thermostat set at 65°F, but since the concrete block construction of the showers & bathroom holds the overnight cold temperatures, it feels colder than 65°F.

I spent the rest of the afternoon inside the trailer reading, paying some bills, and some on line research on the process of switching from my lead acid batteries to lithium. Current book is John Sandford's Twisted Prey, one of his Lucas Davenport series.

Just before the rain started, I saw an unusual trailer a few sites down from me. John & his wife are in a Bowlus, a lightweight aluminum trailer, the first registered in Tennessee. The only front entrance trailer I've ever seen. For an interior photo, check today's LakeshoreImages page.

The rain held off until dinner time, which was a Healthy Choice Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Day 242, Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN, Day 3

Pileated Woodpecker
Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 10,522.8 Miles for the Trip

At the suggestion of Greg or Teresa at the Fiberglass forum, I went to Marcy Jo's Mealhouse and Bakery, about 9 miles from the campground, for breakfast. I had one of their specials, stuffed French toast. Excellent!

While sitting outside reading, a pileated woodpecker (the Woody Woodpecker of woodpeckers) stopped by a rotten tree a few sites away. I managed to get a few photos before he left.  More at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Healthy Choice Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Day 241, Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN, Day 2

Trillium?
Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 10,522.8 Miles for the Trip

After a walk around the campground & breakfast, I drove to the park office & asked for the senior discount. It was available - 25% off, so I saved $32.00 and the new price per night is $29.15. When I got back to the trailer I discovered a wet spot on the trailer rug. Seems the latest 1 gallon water bottle has a slow leak. It is now living in the sink until I make enough coffee to use it up.

Once it warmed up enough, I spent the afternoon sitting outside in the sun reading. I took a break from sitting to take a couple photos of the emerging wildflowers. There is an interesting picnic table next to my site. Actually, the table isn't all that interesting, but its location is. No site near it, and sitting in the middle of the woods. It doesn't look all that old, and is on a concrete pad. There is a big hole behind it; maybe there was a cabin there? What I think is trillium looks a bit different from the plant I see in Oswego, but I believe that is what is in the pictures. The drooping bunch of plants is the Mayapple. So, Spring has sprung, at least here at Henry Horton. I can also tell by the start of the itchy eye season! More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that is was back to more reading.

Dinner was a microwaved Amy's Brown Rice Bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, April 1, 2019

Day 240, Monday, April 1, 2019 - Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN

Site 16
Monday, April 1, 2019 - Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN - 128.7 Miles, 10,522.8 Miles for the Trip

Another cool night & morning - down to 32°F by early morning, and only into the low 50's during the day. I packed up the trailer and headed east. Getting to US 412 included 20 miles of very narrow, but paved road, although it was in excellent condition. I didn't meet anyone coming the other way, but there were parts of it that had no shoulders which would have made that difficult. US 412 is a mixed 2/4 lane road in good condition. The usual small towns that slow you down to 45 or 30 MPH, but far more interesting than I 40.

Just after passing through the larger town of Hohenwald, TN, I saw a bunch of Olivers on the other side of the road. I found their showroom - the factory is about a mile away. Olivers are a 4 season fiberglass trailer. While much more expensive than Escapes, there are many nice features to them. Personally, one of their selling points mentioned by the salesman who took me through a Legacy Elite II when he described the "no wood interior",  is one of the things I don't like about them. They are bright inside, feel larger than the Escape 21 (they are 23' long), and have a pair of fair sized single beds, but the all fiberglass interior reminds me of the inside of a refrigerator. Still, they are a popular trailer. A photo outside the office is at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I arrived at Henry Horton around 1:30 and found my site - #16. It is listed on the Tennessee State Parks reservations page as a back in, slight incline site. I'd hate to park in one of their "moderate" incline sites - their idea of slight required 8 Lego blocks & the full extension of the tongue jack to get close to level. Even more interesting, a review of the campground included someone that stayed in the same site last year , and described it as a level pull through. I suspect they actually stayed in site 14, which is closer to what they described, although the travel trailer parked in #14 still had to do a bit of leveling. I do have to watch my step getting out of the trailer. The front is so high that there is more than the usual distance between the bottom step & the ground.

In any case, the site is paved, with water & electric for $38.45 per night with all the taxes & reservation fee. The office isn't open, so I don't know if it is possible to get my site fee reduced because of my senior status. There is a note to go to the lodge if you need to pay for a site, so I will give that a try tomorrow.

Dinner was a grilled chicken thigh and Margaret Holmes Buttered Double Succotash. I'm still trying for the old fashion succotash of creamed corn & lima beans - While the corn is whole kernel, the sauce makes it very close to the old fashion version. I hope I can find it again!

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Day 239, Sunday, March 31, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 7

Sunday, March 31, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 7 - 0 Miles, 10,394.1 Miles for the Trip

Well, all good temperatures must come to an end. 37°F overnight, and only 47°F at noon.

Lots of RVs packing up & leaving this morning. We are back to a 3/4 empty campground.

I called my son in Oswego, and while they are having lots of rain, at least no snow.

Around 1:00 I headed to the lodge to see what was on the menu for lunch. The place was crowded. Fired chicken & catfish with lots of sides & strawberry shortcake for dessert. While the chicken & catfish looked great, they were only just OK. Both were kinda dry & without much flavor. On the other hand, the strawberry shortcake was great. $2.00 more because it was the weekend. After lunch I headed back to the trailer & spent the afternoon reading. I packed up the hummingbird feeder (no takers) and pulled up the ground mat to let it dry. After my afternoon eye drops, I'll unhook the sewer connection & water to make it easier to head out in the morning. I'll probably also head for the showers.

Even with the shower area heater on, it was still cool in the drying area. Still, it was much better than any of the unheated showers I've been in on a cold day.

Since I had a big, but uninspiring lunch, dinner was just cheese & crackers.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Day 238, Saturday, March 30, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 6

Saturday, March 30, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 6 - 0 Miles, 10,394.1 Miles for the Trip

A warm night & morning. Every time I try sitting outside, it starts to sprinkle, so I'm sitting in the trailer. Lots of reading, both on line and the Kindle. I took a couple of walks around the campground, and spent a bit talking with a truck camper owner about Quartzsite, and some of the places we've both stayed in Arizona & Utah. The campground is near full.

Other than that, it was a quiet day. Little sun, and predicted thunderstorms. My weather radar app shows them going by to the north; I hope they stay that way.

I made one last walk around a new section of the campground & it started to rain just as I got back to the trailer. Sat inside reading, trying to decide whether to eat here or try the restaurant at the lodge. Since the rain stopped, I decided to cook a Hillshire Cheddarwurst for dinner. Of course a light rain started as soon as I put it on the grill. Luckily, it stayed light until the brat was done. While eating it with a salad, the heaviest rain of the trip started! It only lasted for about 30 minutes before it dropped back to a drizzle.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 29, 2019

Day 237, Friday, March 29, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 5

Friday, March 29, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 5 - 0 Miles, 10,394.1 Miles for the Trip

Warm overnight, with light rain off & on. The morning was a bit cloudy, but it warmed into the mid 70's during the afternoon. I walked around the campground after the rain stopped; it is now about 1/2 full, with tags on most of the empty sites with reservations starting today.

By the way, I forgot to mention that I did a load of laundry yesterday. There is one washer & one dryer ($2.00 each) in the bathroom building.

Both AT&T & Verizon have weak signals here at the campground. With the amplifier, I see -117dBm on AT&T, with 3.1Mbps down & .4Mbps up. Verizon shows a -110dBm signal, with 2.9Mbps down & .1Mbps up when the Speedtest software can measure it - about half the time it times out.

It is still usable for posting the blog, reading forums, email, etc. I was even able to use my phone for internet radio last night (on the AT&T Mobley).

It was a quiet day. I did some reading outside, talked with some neighbors, but didn't do anything productive. I put out the hummingbird feeder, but no takers - I suspect it is still a bit early.

Dinner was a production - Fajitas made from left over steak cooked outside on the grill. I also finished off the rest of the Mexicali Freeze Dried Refried Beans. While I tried to divide the package in half and use half the water to make each batch, the first one came out too watery, and today's too thick. Still, in both cases, much better than canned refried beans.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Day 236, Thursday, March 28, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 4

Thursday, March 28, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 10,394.1 Miles for the Trip

A beautiful day, hitting 76°F by late afternoon. I finished waxing the trailer, trimmed my beard, took a shower, then headed to Walmart for a steak & a couple of gallons of water. $70.00 later, I headed back to the campground!

Lots or time sitting & reading - current book is James Lee Burke's New Iberian Blues, one of my favorite authors.

Dinner was a New York Strip Steak & mashed potatoes. The potatoes were good, but the steak tough. I don't think I'm ever going to beat the NY Strips I bought in Quartzsite...

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Day 235, Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 3

Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 10,394.1 Miles for the Trip

Much cooler overnight at 34°F, but it quickly warmed up to 69°F by late afternoon.

I did the 4"X4" block mounting project; took about 30 minutes, then spent the rest of the day sitting out reading. I had to keep switching between the sun & shade, something I love to have to do.

Dinner was grilled Halibut, snap peas & Mexicali Freeze Dried Refried Beans.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Day 234, Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 2

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 10,394.1 Miles for the Trip

While it didn't get down to the predicted 31°F last night, it did hit 46°F, not bad for March! It slowly warmed up to 67° by late afternoon. I drove into Lexington and a Walmart & Food Giant for some shopping, and stopped at the local Ace Hardware for 4 5" pieces of 4"X4". While they had 8' 4"X4"s, they couldn't cut it, and sent me to The Building Center, a large lumber yard. A young man (at my age, most of them are) didn't have any short cuts, but grabbed an 8 footer, hauled it to the compound miter saw and made me 4 blocks. While I offered to pay for the 8' footer, he wouldn't take any money for it or the cuts.

Now, why I needed the blocks is a bit embarrassing. I added the originals because with the high lift axle option I have on the trailer, it takes a pile of Lego blocks to let the stabilizers reach the ground. I added blocks to the sand pads to save cranking, and still have plenty of clearance.

Anyhow, I pulled out of Fort Griffin Campground a week ago with the stabilizer jacks down. My excuse was I didn't crank them down when I set up, and only lowered them when the campground manager came around telling us that a major storm with 60MPH winds was on the way. So, in the morning, I forgot, and drove away with them down. I tore the old blocks off the sand pads as I drove out of the park (what was that strange scraping noise?) . I'm surprised that I was able to lower the tongue onto the hitch, but level was close enough that it worked. I managed to get far enough away before I realized the problem that it wasn't worth going back for them. The front stabilizers were a bit bent out of vertical, and the rear even more, but no where near as bad as they would have been if I didn't have the added blocks.

I finally got around to bending the stabilizers back to where they belong, and will add the new blocks later this week.

That was about it for the day. I spend most of the afternoon outside reading. My current book is The Women, by T. C. Boyle. It is an interesting novelization of Frank Lloyd Wright's life with his three wives.

I do have a shower report. C+. The good - heat in the bathrooms, with additional heat over the showers, three hooks, and a large high pressure showerhead with plenty of hot water. The bad - no bench except in the hall outside the showers, a small drying area that gets wet, and while there is a shelf in the drying area, none in the shower.

Dinner was a Bubba Burger, asparagus & Cape Cod potato chips.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, March 25, 2019

Day 233, Monday, March 25, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN

Site 44
Monday, March 25, 2019 - Pin Oak Campground, Natchez Trace SP, TN - 176.3 Miles, 10,394.1 Miles for the Trip

Another night worrying about thunderstorms. While my weather app showed a severe storm warning heading towards the campground, by the time it got here it was just a mild storm with little wind & a bit of small hail. While I enjoy thunderstorms at home in upstate NY, it may be because I'm in a house rather than a room sized trailer, and they rarely are rated severe.

Most of the drive was on I 40. In Tennessee, their electronic signs say something like "Buckle your seatbelt today so you will see tomorrow". I believe, at least for the first couple of miles of I 40 into the state, they should say "Buckle your seatbelt to keep you in the driver's seat". Very nasty potholes, concrete slab joints, etc. In fact, they even put up signs saying "potholes", rather than fix them.

Other than the roads, a quiet drive to the Natchez Trace State Park. I'm in the Pin Oak Campground for a week, one of four in the park. I'm in site 44, a near level full hook up site on gravel that is $28.25 per night, including three different taxes. The price is with a 25% senior discount that I couldn't get on line, but was refunded the difference at the park lodge. Lots of space left in this campground, not sure about the others.

When I went to the lodge to get my refund, they were serving lunch. They usually only do lunches on weekends this time of year, but there was a Spring Break kid's thing going on so the dining room was open. I had the buffet, which was all you can eat,including dessert for $8.09, again with a senior discount. A good salad, meatloaf, hamburgers, some other kind of meat, and all the sides you can think of, including fried okra, something I haven't had before. With sweet tea at $2.25 & tax, a total of $11.35. I ate enough that there won't be any need for dinner!

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Day 232, Sunday, March 24, 2019 - Village Creek State Park, Wynne, AR, Day 3

Sunday, March 24, 2019 - Village Creek State Park, Wynne, AR, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 10,217.8 Miles for the Trip

A warm night, only down to 53°F, but rain off and on until late morning. Most of the campground emptied out over the morning, with long lines at the dump station; there were a few new arrivals. I did some reading after breakfast, then stopped a ranger driving by to ask about washing trailers. Most parks & RV campgrounds frown on washing trailers, but since there was nothing forbidding it in the campground regulations, I thought I'd ask. He say it would be fine, so I dug out the washing supplies and gave the trailer it's first bath since early August. Lots of grime & bugs; now it shines. While I should have put a coat of wax on the entire trailer, I just did the front to make it easier to remove the bug hits. Washing the whole thing was enough work for the day! I did find a few very small gel coat nicks that I'll have to fill when I get home.

It was a cloudy, but warm day with lunch time temperatures hitting 66°F. I sat outside admiring a shiny trailer & reading. Every time I started to wax more of the trailer, it started to sprinkle. I finally gave up & headed into the trailer. After my 3:00 eye drops, I headed for the showers.

Dinner was an InnovAsian Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Day 231, Saturday, March 23, 2019 - Village Creek State Park, Wynne, AR, Day 2

Saturday, March 23, 2019 - Village Creek State Park, Wynne, AR, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 10,217.8 Miles for the Trip

Well, I was hoping that the cell service would improve late at night, but it never got better. While a web page would eventually load, it took between one & five minutes to load a page. None of my internet radio apps were able to find an internet connection. Mail slowly gets through.

While listening to a Memphis FM station reading the local newspaper, I gave up on the local radio stations, put my Verizon phone in the amplifier, and called XM Radio. I restarted the portable radio service for $36.35 for the next 6 months. I dropped it because I rarely used the portable radio in the trailer, but I have to admit that I "rushed to judgment". Six dollars per month is worth paying even if I only use it a couple of times, and I already know that during the time I'm in Cades Cove, it will again be my only connection to the outside world. So, I'm back to complaining about the limited NPR service provided by XM Radio, but I am connected to the outside world (well, at least listening).

A pleasant day, although rain is predicted in the near future. A bit cool this morning at 47°F, but lots of sunshine. By 3:00, it was up to 70°F. The campground is full, with everything from a 40' Class A with 4 slides to tents. While I have neighbors with dogs, they don't bark!

I spent most of the day sitting outside reading; current book is The Escape by David Baldacci. A minor problem with the book is I've read later books about the character (John Puller, Baldacci's equivalent of Lee Child's Reacher), so I know too much about what is going to happen. Still, it is interesting seeing how the results came about, and it is an OK read.

Dinner was a Turkey Bubba Burger & the rest of the salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 22, 2019

Day 230, Friday, March 22, 2019 - Village Creek State Park, Wynne, AR

Site 4

Friday, March 22, 2019 - Village Creek State Park, Wynne, AR - 126.9 Miles, 10,217.8 Miles for the Trip

Not a bad evening - the dog stopped barking around 10:30, and the neighbor's music was quiet enough that I could hear my own. Since the park was full, I stopped by the office to let them know I was leaving, and a first come site was opening up.

I headed east on US 64, a mixed 2 / 4 lane road that, for a section, is part of I 40. While I did see lots of high water, the only flooded out building was a picnic shelter along the river. I stopped at a Walmart on US 64 in Wynne, about 10 miles from the campground. Since I did so poorly on the purchase of a replacement coffee pot, I tried again. This time it was a Walmart brand at half the price of the Black & Decker. At $8.00, even if I don't like it I don't mind.

I reserved site 4 at Village Creek, mostly because I stayed in it before and my notes said it was a level site. Some of them here have driveways so steep that the trailer couldn't be leveled. The interesting thing is when I pulled in, site 4 wasn't where I expected to be. No, they didn't renumber the sites; I must have stayed here more than once, and was remembering the location of site 4 as the location I stayed in when I camped in site 38. A foggy old brain! In any case, site 4 was as my notes suggested - level, but on the other side of the bathrooms & "A" loop. I didn't unhook, but if I get the urge to head into Wynne, I can. The site is a mix of gravel & mud with water & electric, and a picnic table & fire ring well behind the trailer, and a small creek behind it. The price is listed as $22.00 per night, but with the county, state, and tourism taxes, it comes out to $24.31 per night for 3 nights.

I also remember from looking up the campground from my previous trips that the cell coverage was iffy. While I just uploaded today's photos without too much trouble, I have not been able to look at my site (or any forums, for that matter). Internet radio is non existent, which means I'll miss my connection to WXXI and the Echo program tonight & tomorrow, as well as Hearts of Space on Sunday. Since I dropped the XM Radio for the trailer because I only used it once over the previous 6 months, and there are only religious & conservative talk FM stations, I'm no longer connected to the outside world! At least I have over 500 songs on my iPhone...

There is no AT&T coverage, with or without an amplifier. Verizon flips back & forth between a 4GLTE signal & 1X. Signal strength is -129dBm without the amplifier, and -108dBm with. Speedtest doesn't. Mail seems to slip through occasionally, but, as mentioned, trying for web pages are a waste of time. It appears that uploads are faster than downloads, a bit unusual...

By the way, I did check the cell coverage at Toad Suck, but forgot to post it. AT&T was -100dBm with 9.7Mbps down & 1.5Mbps up. Verizon was -95dBm with 39.4Mbps down & 10.2Mbps up.

The campground here is full, with a couple of reserved sites waiting on RVs. I walked around the loop (well, it is a figure 8), then headed for the showers. The bathrooms are standard in the other part of the figure eight, while in our section they are individual rooms. Large rooms with a bench & 2 hooks on the wall. While there is a shower curtain, the showerhead is aimed at it & water runs under it to cover the entire floor of the bathroom. A high pressure showerhead, but the permanent one that gives a pretty good spray. Plenty of hot water.

After that I sat & read in the sun - current book is The Leavers, a National Book Finalist by Lisa Ko. While a change of pace for me from my mysteries & SiFi, an excellent read.

Dinner was a Healthy Choice Shiitake Chicken Power Bowl. Lots of chicken, not much shiitake, but very good.

Until Tomorrow -