Monday, March 30, 2020

Day 162, Monday, March 30, 2020 - Oswego, NY (Home)

A damp, off & on rain, sometimes heavy on I 81 to home. I 81 was almost empty, other than trucks. The traffic warning signs all read "Stay Home" "Don't Travel", etc. Makes you feel a bit guilty to be on the road, although with the parks closing down, heading home is about all I can do.

I arrived at the door around 2:00, without making any stops. While having a full 36 gallon tanks let you do that, I really should have taken a break or two. In any case I'm home. Overall, one of the shorter winter trips due to the Covid-19 shutdowns of the TN & VA state & national parks as well as deciding to pass on the Townsend Gathering. It is good to be home - I went through 2' of mail & only found a few bills, as well as a couple of checks which I'll need to photo deposit since my bank lobby is closed.

I unloaded the refrigerator, all the dry & canned food, a few pieces of clothes, etc, but will put off the rest of the unpacking until tomorrow. It is still raining, and a cool 44°F.

So, until the next trip, my journal will go on hold (like me, since they just announced extending the April 6 end of "No Social Gathering" to April 30th). Much easier for a retired person like me than those that want (and need) to be back at work.

Some statistics on the trip:

Total campground Cost - $2,277.90
Average campground cost - $14.06, Most expensive $57.81 at Shenandoah Valley in PA, Least expensive $0.00 at a couple of places, including Dome Rock in Quartzsite.

Total Fuel Cost - $1,687.57
Average cost of gas - $2.25, Most Expensive $3.00 in Anthem, AZ, Least Expensive - $1.50 in Rock Island, TN
Average towing MPG 12.49
Average overall MPG 12.66

Towing mileage - 7290.6
Total Overall Mileage - 9062.7

Total Propane Cost $110.16 for 41.44 Gallons

Until The Next Trip -

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Day 161, Sunday, March 29, 2020 -Jonestown KOA, PA

Site 54
A couple of additions to yesterday. First, the Shenandoah Valley Campground is not a great believer is keeping social distance. Bathrooms & showers open, lines at the take out food window, etc. The folks working for the campground were observing good practices. While my solution to keeping up social distance was to not shower, since I had full hookups, I showered in the trailer. I'm getting better at squeezing down the walls, although I did have a wet toilet seat the next time I sat on it (I know, too much information!) Lastly, I got a notice from Verizon that they are giving me 15GB of data for use between now & April 30th for free. I appreciate the gift, although as of tomorrow night I hope to be back on a Spectrum cable modem & won't need Verizon until another trip.

As to today, a fairly uneventful trip on I 81 to the Jonestown KOA. This is a frequent stop since it is about 275 miles from home & there are few other campgrounds in the area, at least with as easy access off the interstate or US 11. I'm in site 54, a level, gravel full hookup site with picnic table & concrete pad for $49.05. I won't be able to use the picnic table - light rain, and 50°F.

I did some reading inside during the afternoon, then made my usual Sunday phone calls. Nantucket is up to 5 cases of Covid-19. There has been a number of TV clips about the throngs of New Yorkers heading to their summer homes on the island. With their 19 bed hospital, lots of nervous islanders about the influx.

Thought about ordering dinner from the KOA, but decided to bake a chicken pot pie instead.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Day 160, Saturday, March 28, 2020 -Shenandoah Valley Campground, Verona, VA

Another 250 miles towards Oswego, NY. All of today was on I 81. I'm in site 15, a level gravelly grass site with full hookups, but no picnic table for $57.81. And I complained about KOA prices! A fairly crowded destination campground with a large fishing pond, pool, hot tubs, etc. The pool & hot tubs are closed, but the bathrooms are open.

After setting up, I sat out in the warm, but not overly hot sunshine and read. Current book is James Rollin's The Last Odyssey.

Dinner was a FitKitchen Chicken With Cashews Bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 27, 2020

Day 159, Thursday, March 26, 2020 - Bristol KOA, Blountville, TN

Site 28

On to the first day of the rush home. I eventually reached I 40, then my hometown interstate, I 81. The Bristol KOA is a short, 2 mile hop off the interstate, but well sheltered so there is no road noise. I did hear a distant train whistle. I'm in site 28, a 100' long grass pull through unless someone is parked in site 30 which is behind the trailer. Not quite level, but a 1 1/2" side to side fix with the Anderson levelers, and a slight lift on the tongue jack let me settle in without unhooking.

The site is a full hookup, although I didn't bother with the sewer. $48.29 for the night (the usual KOA inflation). One point not made when I reserved - the bathrooms are closed, so unless I decide to hook up the sewer, no shower even in the trailer. The last time I showered in the trailer without a sewer connection, the gray tank oder quickly filled the entire trailer. One of the early projects when I get home is to find the break in the gray tank vent in the closet under the microwave. I also plan to add a tank washer. I'll just stink until tomorrow!

I lost another hour, at least until heading west next year, by passing into the eastern time zone. Both phones switched, but my GPS didn't so it must be close. In any case, I spent the remainder of the afternoon sitting outside in my chair reading.

It was hot enough that I thought I'd run the AC for a bit. Went to the thermostat, and no display. Looked at the converter fuse panel & a red LED indicated a blown fuse. I tried replacing it & the replacement blew. I though about it and remembered that the electronics closet was on the same fuse. I unplugged everything, and the replacement fuse worked. Another thing to fix when I get home. I think I'll move the furnace to its own circuit since it powers the thermostat for both the furnace & the AC.

While I have enough frozen meals in the refrigerator to make it home, the menu for take out meals looked like a better idea. I had their Beer Battered Fish Platter. 2 good size pieces of fish, potato salad, French fries, hush puppies, They didn't have any tartar sauce, so I mixed a bit of pickle relish with mayo & made my own. Overall, a good & filling meal for $8.99.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Day 158, Thursday, March 26, 2020 - Rock Island State Park, Rock Island, TN, Day 2

Caney Fork River Gorge
After breakfast & a short walk around the campground, I started making calls for reservations for the trip home. One of my usual stops, and, although a bit long from here, is Hungry Mother State Park in VA. Usually empty this time of year, but it will be a lot emptier starting tomorrow - Virginia is also closing their campgrounds on Friday. I have given up on any chance of the Townsend gathering, and canceled my reservation at their KOA.

I found a couple of KOAs that will still be open, as well as a campground near Bristol, VA so if things go as planned, I'll have places to stop around 250 miles apart all the way home. Should hit Oswego on Monday. Of course, that depends on the campgrounds staying open, but with private campgrounds, the likelihood is better than with the state parks I usually stay in.

I drove to a view of the river and took a few photos. I also took some photos at the same locations on a stay at Rock Island in 2016. There is a lot more water this time - More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Back at the trailer I sat outside and read. Current book is American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings. Lots of controversy over the book because it was written by a white woman about Mexicans.

While sitting outside the trailer with the solid part of the door open & the screen door closed, I noticed a hornet crawling into the hollow door gasket. I didn't think all that much about it until just after the first came out a second one went in. A few minutes later a 3rd (or the first; they didn't have name tags) went in. I found a new use for a Kindle - I used it to squeeze the gasket from top to bottom. The problem is I didn't see any come out. I finally stuck a stick in the end of the gasket to seal it, and will remove it before shutting the door tonight.

Dinner was a General Tso's Tofu by Sweet Earth. Very good!

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Day 157, Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - Rock Island State Park, Rock Island, TN

Site 29
A relatively short drive to Rock Island, TN. Most of the drive was on 4 lane roads, either interstates or US 70S. Just outside Lawrenceburg is a large Amish community. I saw over 6 carriages on the side of the road. I got a photo of one of them - lousy, but driving & photographing doesn't make for great photos. Photo of the carriage & truck are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I made a short stop at a Krogers and managed to get most of what I wanted. No gallon bottles of water, no sanitizing wipes or bottles, but I have a few more meals. Everyone stayed as far apart as possible, many with masks & gloves. I did head into the trailer & washed my hands on the way out.

I arrived at Rock Island State Park around 1:30. The office, like most, was closed, but there was a card on my site with my reservation information. The site is paved, mostly level (1/2" side to side & flat front to back) with water & electric for $27.59 per night. I booked 4 nights. My neighbor has a interesting tow vehicle. He felt the Ford E series chassis was more comfortable than F series, so he took an old RV, removed most of it, added his own rear seating & pick up bed. The first time I've seen something like this, but he said many individuals are buying old ambulances & doing the same.

For the first time in weeks, there are patches of blue sky, and an unusual yellow orb in the sky. I sat outside and read most of the afternoon. Current book is Long Range by C. J. Box. I took a walk around a couple of the campground loops, and almost every site is booked for the weekend.

Unfortunately, at 4:45 a couple of rangers stopped by letting me know that Tennessee is shutting down camping as of Friday at 12:00. So, both the end of my stay here and all of my one week stay planned for Cumberland Mountain have gone up in smoke. I was even thinking of extending the Cumberland Mountain stay to two weeks since New York is having major problems. So far, my small community in upstate NY looks far better than downstate, but I have to get there.

So, time to find some open campgrounds.

Dinner was a homemade pizza.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Day 156, Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - David Crockett State Park, Lawrenceburg, TN, Day 3

A fair amount of rain overnight and throughout the morning. While the rain stopped around 3:00, we are on a tornado watch until 10:00PM. At 4:00AM last night my smoke alarm went off. No smoke or fire, but it did go off one time when I left the fan off in the bathroom while taking a shower, so it may be the humidity. In and case, I tore it off the wall, wandered around the trailer looking & sniffing, stuffed it in my computer bag and went back to sleep. I wish it was a little later - I got an email from Walmart that they were starting Senior Shopping today with the store only open to seniors between 6:00 - 7:00 AM. Unfortunately, I slept through it. Not really a problem - I don't need anything, although I'm starting to build a list.

A couple more trailers left the campground this afternoon. One came back - I assume that he just went to dump. There are three of us in this loop, including an Oliver behind me, with about the same numbers in the other three loops.

Around 2:30 I decided to head to the showers. They have new bathrooms with individual showers. During my 2016 -17 trip I talked with the architects about the problems with shower designs in campgrounds, and made some suggestions. They mentioned that Tennessee had a stock design, and they would probably stick with it. I remember how much I complained about the stock design at a couple of the other new bathrooms in the state's campgrounds. In any case, the good is they are individual rooms with temperature control. While I didn't notice it because it was 65°F outside, there was a split AC in the room that might have also been a heat pump. The outside section was running when I left. The bad - high pressure spray aimed at a narrow wall "protecting - (it doesn't) the small seat in the drying area. The entire drying area is large enough, but the shower spray covers most of it. In fact, the only floor drain is in the middle if the drying area. Two hooks for your stuff, no shelve in the shower area. Overall, better than some, but at best a C.

The rest of the day was spent reading. One of my neighbors was worried that they didn't see signs of activity in my trailer. I have tinted windows that block everything is daylight, and only show a little glow from the LED lights at night. Plus, I only turn on lights as I need them - dry camping habits. Plus I didn't sit outside since most of the time it was raining or misting. I did go for a number of walks around the campground, but they must have missed them. They called the rangers to do a check on me. Evidently, when they saw me outside this afternoon, they called back since no ranger stopped by.

Dinner was a Kahiki Chicken Fried Rice Bowl with Egg Roll.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, March 23, 2020

Day 155, Monday, March 23, 2020 - David Crockett State Park, Lawrenceburg, TN, Day 2

Lots of rain overnight, heavy at times & ever a couple rumbles of thunder.

I did very little today other than sit in the trailer & read. Current book is #2 in a series by A. G. Riddle - The Atlantis Plague. A little too close to current times. I did take a break a couple of times during the day to walk around the campground. No new arrivals, and the trailer behind me left.

I'm recovering from chigger bites that I got in Louisiana. I don't know how people living here stand them since they itch like crazy. Maybe living with them develops an immunity, but the couple of times I've "discovered" them while traveling in the south has not been fun.

Dinner was a Marie Callender's Sesame Chicken Bowl. Very good for a microwaved meal.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Day 154, Sunday, March 22, 2020 - David Crockett State Park, Lawrenceburg, TN

Site 94
Not quite as cold as predicted - overnight low was 50°F. I got a late start since I didn't have to go too far. A nice part of the drive was along the Natchez Trace parkway. Even nicer - gas along the way was $1.69 per gallon. I arrived at the David Crockett State Park around 2:00. No one at the office & a sign telling me to go directly to the site. I'm in site 94 in Campground 2, a level side to side & sloped enough front to back to require unhitching & lowering the tongue. Paved site with a picnic table. Electric & water for $29.21 with a senior discount.

I checked my email and discovered that my reservation at Cades Cove campground in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has been canceled since the campground is shutting down until April 30th. I talked with Don & Anne, and they are not sure they will be able to go to the Townsend gathering here in Tennessee, so I decided that I'd finish my Tennessee State Park reservations, then head home on April 5th. I canceled a week's stay at Lotterdale Cove Campground (the week before Cades Cove), and they were nice enough to waive the cancellation fee. Seems like they are getting lots of them.

If things appear to have calmed down, I'll drive back to Townsend with the Guidos on April 14th. As things stand right now, it doesn't look like a good time for a gathering.

I talked with my brother David in Nantucket & all construction on the island has been shut down for at least two weeks, with fines for anyone found building. They are getting the usual passenger traffic on the ferries of individuals working at the construction sites, and since the don't have any Covid 19 cases on the island, they would rather not have packed ferries.

They are also having a problem with the hundreds (probably thousands) of New York owners of summer homes coming to the island to escape NY. Their 14 bed hospital is going to be overwhelmed it they have the usual summer population & an outbreak. The island web page is pleading with people to stay in NY!

So, things are still up in the air just about everywhere. The bathrooms here at the campground are open, and being cleaned twice per day, and sprayed with sanitizer every two hours. Here is hoping Tennessee keeps their campgrounds open, and I can find the stops in VA & PA I need for the trip home.

Dinner was a barely edible Barber Chicken with Broccoli, and the last spinach cake. Yes, I again accidentally bought the pre cooked version of the chicken. Even baked, it isn't very good, and microwaving turns it to mush.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Day 153, Saturday, March 21, 2020 - George P. Cossar State Park, MS, Day 4

While I haven't seen anything restricting driving through NY, the state is described as "locked down". I still have over a month until I have to be back, and that is for a dental checkup which might not be happening. My biggest concern is that I'll get chased out of where ever I am & find no where to go.

The plan, as much as planning is possible, is to stay in the Tennessee parks I've already reserved, see what the conditions are at the end of the three weeks, then decide if the rally at the KOA is viable. I would rather stay here in the south as long as possible - it is in the 20's at home. The good thing is my at home county as of today has no one with Covid 19, at least on the state wide county check list.

My son, a janitor at the SUNY college is now on temporary duty, ie called in when needed. A tough job for someone wanting to avoid the virus. In campgrounds it is fairly easy to maintain "social distance". I haven't been within 20' of anyone for the last 4 days. I even did a load of laundry since this campground is about as uncrowded as you can get. I will have to do some shopping within the next week or so - should be interesting.

So, other than doing laundry, I spent the day reading. I did walk around two loops of the campground just to get out of the trailer. It is too cool to comfortably sit outside at 55°F, although temperature is relative. During the middle of December, I probably would have been outside sitting in a chair in a "T" shirt. I'm running the electric heater in the trailer keeping it at around 65°F, although I cranked it up to 70°F for a shower this afternoon. It will probably run on low overnight - predicted temperature for the park is 47°F.

Dinner was the last of the frozen chicken thighs from the Coyote Market in Quartzsite. A real butcher makes a big difference in taste. I've had the best NY Strip Steaks & Chicken from them, at least compared to the big chain grocery stores. Sorry to polish off the last one. Along with the chicken thigh I had some grilled new potatoes & beets.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 20, 2020

Day 152, Friday, March 20, 2020 - George P. Cossar State Park, MS, Day 3

It's Raining!
A very wet Friday. The rain started around 6:00AM, and is still going at 3:00. Here is a weather radar image showing the narrow band of rain. Unfortunately, the narrow band is moving lengthwise over the park, and the bottom is still in Texas.

So, I haven't done much other than sit at the table and read. I got a Skype call from Karin. We decided that it probably would be a good idea for me to skip stopping to see them in Maryland on the way home. With the combination of concerns for my age & keeping 6' away from each other, it wouldn't make for much of a visit. I still plan to hit Tennessee on Sunday, but while I planned (and, of course, reserved sites) to spend 2 weeks traveling across the state prior to my arrival date at Cades Cove in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, I'll have to keep an eye on things. They keep shutting down campgrounds, at least the state parks (so far Tennessee parks are open), closing stores, etc, and I'd hate to get stuck in the area for a long time, although sitting in a campsite is probably a good way for keeping social distance. In any case, unless they start closing down state borders, I'll wait a bit before deciding to head home early, although I did cancel all my reservations after the Townsend KOA, including 2 nights at $82.00 per night at the Cherry Hill campground in Maryland near Karin's. At least next year Greenbelt at $14.00 per night should be open.

There was a guy in a silver Dodge truck that must have been bored - he drove around the campground all morning, making more than 20 loops, stopping every 50' or so for a break.

So far today 2 5th wheels and a couple of travel trailers have arrived, but the campground is still pretty empty. I took a short walk around 2 of the campground loops during a lull in the rain, and didn't see the silver Dodge. I do wonder who he was & why he spent the morning cruising.

Dinner was a FitKitchen Teriyaki Chicken Bowl. Like the last FitKitchen bowl I had, this one was very good for a microwaved meal. I defrosted & marinated a chicken thigh to grill, but with the rain it is going to have to wait until tomorrow.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Day 151, Thursday, March 19, 2020 - George P. Cossar State Park, MS, Day 2

A warm (80°F) humid day. My weather app kept telling me it was going to rain, but other than a few drops, nothing by 5:00. I had a brief chat with the owners of a 2011 Escape 5.0 parked down by reservoir. The family across from me packed up their 5th wheel, boat & SUV and headed out during the afternoon.

I sat outside & read, Gregg Olsen's The Last Thing She Ever Did. He writes novels that put people in impossible & complex situations. Interesting to read, but you do tend to squirm for the characters.

Dinner was a couple of grilled hotdogs and finally, the rest of the mac & cheese.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Day 150, Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - George P. Cossar State Park, MS

Site 35
A little bit of rain overnight, but not enough to wash the pollen off the truck or trailer. It was enough that a small waterfall came off the front of the roof when I lowered the tongue jack onto the truck.

Almost all of today's drive was on interstates - I 20 & I 55. A bit longer drive than usual, but I wanted to hit parks where I don't always stop, and George P. Cossar is a new one for me. I'm in a full hook up site (# 35) for a posted price of #16.00 per night, but with fees & taxes, it works out to $17.12 per night. I do hate to make on line reservations when I have no idea what the site actually looks like. Reserve America often includes a photo of the site in the reservation form, and there are websites such as Campsite Photos that show images of most of the sites in many campgrounds, but you are still often surprised with access, slopes, etc. Site 35 required about 1/2" of side to side leveling, and none front to back. I leveled anyway since I'm here for 4 nights and might need to make a run to a store. There is a Krogers about 20 minutes away. Of course who knows if they will have anything on the shelves.

It is good that it is full hookup - with the Covid 19 problem, Mississippi's solution is to padlock the bathrooms until the end of the month. For some reason, they left the laundry open. The park is less than half filled, compared to a full house at Jimmie Davis in Louisiana.

After setting up I took a short walk around the campground. There is a lake with some sites sitting on the edge. I'm about 100' from it.

I did a quick check of internet speeds - AT&T shows 8.9MB down & 10.5MB up, while Verizon, even with an amplifier is only showing 2.3MB down, but 18.1MB up. No campground WiFi. There was a strong WiFi service at Jimmie Dean, but very slow internet.

Dinner was a microwaved P.F. Chang's Sichuan style Orange Chicken. A bit different from any orange chicken I've had before, and a bit too spicy for me, but editable.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Day 149, Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - Jimmie Davis State Park, Chatham, LA, Day 2

One big difference between the desert & here in Louisiana is pollen. For most of my life I had no allergies, but when I hit my 60's, Spring became a difficult time with itchy eyes, etc. There is enough pollen (probably pine) here that any flat surface is covered with a dusting in minutes.

I took a short walk around the campground - my Plantier Facisias, which developed in the summer last year went away with ice packs & exercises, stayed away all winter, but has returned on the trip home. Mornings are the most painful, so I have to move my walks to late in the day.

I finished the Dean Koontz "Nameless" series - found a 6th after finishing #5, which I thought was the last. Glad for the 6th since it tied the series together. I'm not sure why he didn't release it as a full length novel, although it would have been a long one. In any case, I enjoyed it. Currently reading a library book on the Kindle - The Sundown Motel by Simone St. James.

I spent much of the day sitting outside even with the pollen, slapping sneaky tiny mosquitoes. They are small enough that you don't feel or hear them until they are half full. Messy!

Dinner was the other half of a short rack of baby back ribs & left over Kraft Mac & Cheese.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, March 16, 2020

Day 148, Monday, March 16, 2020 - Jimmie Davis State Park, Chatham, LA

Burrowing Crayfish Home
Boy is a diesel bus loud! I know the older diesels require a bit of run time before pulling out, but this one, with the exhaust 5' from the back of my trailer, ran at a fast idle for 14 minutes before they left. At least it was around 8:00, so I decided to start my day.

I ate breakfast, read some forums, then packed up the trailer, and hit the road around 9:30. Most of the drive on US 165 & US 167 to Jonesboro where I stopped at the Walmart. No luck finding the thick cut turkey deli I like, but I did pick up a package of baby back ribs.

I pulled into Jimmie Davis State Park around 2:00, and was assigned site #12. Again, 1/2 off the normal fee for being over 62, $13.85 per night with fees & taxes. Since I didn't make a reservation, the same fee was called a transaction fee. I still can't complain - $13.85 is even less than New Mexico's $14.00 for a water & electric site, which I had often pointed out as the least expensive state park system in the country. Site photo is at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I sat outside reading, a series of novelettes on the Kindle written for Amazon by Dean Koontz - current is The Praying Mantis Bride in the Nameless series,. Each only takes an hour or so to read, and while I usually pass on short stories, by the time I realized that they were not full length novels, I had already downloaded all 5, and got hooked. I finished 2 & have 3 to go.

I finally found both a classical NPR radio station & an NPR news station on FM radio. Only problem is the news station was in the middle of a fund raiser.

It looks like it rained recently & there is a strange mud tower in the grass in front of my site. I did a Google search for "small mud tower in lawn" and am pretty sure it is home to a burrowing crayfish.

Dinner was a short rack of baby back ribs & Kraft Mac & Cheese.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Day 147, Sunday, March 15, 2020 - Sam Houston Jones State Park, LA, Day 3

A Long Trailer & A Long Dump
Yesterday, I mentioned to a neighbor that I was hoping the Louisiana laundromats would be open on a Sunday since I had a pretty good load to wash. He said check the building a couple of sites over from ours - it is a free laundromat. It was too late to do laundry then, but I took a full basket over this morning. 2 washing machines & 3 dryers, as as described, free. I did my two loads, and was glad I started early - they were in use all day long. While sitting in front of the laundry, I watched the longest trailer make the longest stop at a dump station ever. He was there for almost 35 minutes. No one else was waiting, so he might have been faster is someone was, but he sure moved in slow motion. Of course with the size of the 5th wheel, he probably had 100 gallon tanks!

During & after I read my latest book on the Kindle - Robert R. McCammon's Mystery Walk. He is one of my favorite horror authors & this one is another winner. He writes at the Stephen King level. Of course, for those that don't enjoy reading horror novels, that isn't saying much, but for those that do, I feel it is a good recommendation. Almost finished by dinner.

Even though the next campground I plan to visit has showers listed, I decided that I'd try the last one here (#4). An 8 second run, with all the same other problems mentioned yesterday with shower #1.

Back at the trailer I read until dinner & watched the new arrivals. There is a large bus behind me, and a 5th wheel 2 sites down that spent half an hour getting into position. Since he only moved about 4" by the end of all that maneuvering, I'm not sure it was worth it, but they argued back & forth until he got it right.

Dinner was a Beyond Burger and the rest of the applesauce. I hope I have enough in the refrigerator for at least a weeks worth of meals - the stores are zoos, with many empty shelves.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Day 146, Saturday, March 14, 2020 - Sam Houston Jones State Park, LA, Day 2

Along the Orange Trail
I was awakened around 8:00AM (I know, late, but I'm retired) by the sound of hard wheeled scooters on gravely asphalt. Now I know that is to be expected in state parks with paved roads on a weekend, but usually the kids make a couple of runs, then get tired & quit. Nope. The new fangled scooters (I'm old, I can use that term) have motors & batteries, and can run for 2-3 hours before needing a recharge. I was thinking they were almost as bad as a construction generator, but just to prove me wrong, an Allegro Class A pulled in that had a construction generator on a platform in the trailer hitch that was running, probably to keep the ACs going while driving. Very loud!

I went for a walk on the Orange Trail at the recommendation of a neighbor. About a mile, very flat, and along the river & swamps surrounding the park. Some nice houses on stilts across the river. I didn't see any alligators.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Back at the campground I decided to head to the showers. There are 5 of them in the men's side with a large benched area in front of all of them. Each shower has a small changing area with 1 hook & a small bench. The shower head aims at the drying area, but there is a shower curtain. Unfortunately, is is hung in the drying area, not the shower, so any water that hits it runs on to the drying area floor.

My shower (the first in the row) is the first push button shower I've used that has 0 seconds on time. Yes, you have to hold in the button to get water. The next shower in the row has a hose bib with valve in place of the shower head. The third stall is locked & the shower head is capped. I didn't check the 4th & the 5th was the handicapped shower. While the water was hot enough (non adjustable), holding the button was a PIA, as was the 1/2" of water on the drying room floor. Overall, a D -, not the worst shower I've used, but close.

Back at the trailer I sat outside and finished Steve Berry's The Warsaw Protocol. As usual, he seems to believe that every chapter must end with a cliff hanger, no matter how poorly related to the flow of the story. It would also displease any president Trump fans. I did finish it.

Dinner was a grilled chicken leg quarter & applesauce.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 13, 2020

Day 145, Friday, March 13, 2020 - Sam Houston Jones State Park, LA

Site 32
Another drive on combined US90/I10. Lots of construction in both TX & LA, with concrete barricades making for tight lanes. At least it was a short drive. I'm in site 32 at the Sam Houston Jones State Park in Lake Charles, LA. A water & electric site with somewhat confusing pricing. The on line registration billed me $89.75 for three days, including reservation fee, and taxes. At the entrance station the volunteer told me to come back after setting up. They have an over 62 special that cuts the price in half. So, the actual cost is now $15.96 per night. My site was still occupied when I arrived. Had a short chat with the individual, who had just spent his first night in his brand new Class A RV, and his first time camping.

The bathrooms are a short hike near the entrance to the camping area. Showers, but no laundry.

After setting up & adjusting my bill, I got back to the trailer and met a couple that are looking for an Escape 21. They currently have a Class C that they are unhappy with & wanted to see an Escape. I gave the usual tour and answered the usual questions.

After that I headed to a grocery store. A very bad move. Everyone in Lake Charles is at the grocery stores buying water and toilet paper. Very long lines, and harried clerks. I was lucky - I checked out in the under 10 items line.

The virus is causing very different reactions in different states. New Mexico shut down camping in all their state parks today, while AZ, PA & MI sent me emails saying they concluded that camping in the open air with lots of space between neighbors was far safer than staying in your apartment or house. In any case, I don't have much of a choice - home is still 1500 miles away.

Dinner was a Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo dinner.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Day 144, Thursday, March 12, 2020 - Trinity Bay RV & Lodging, Anahuac, TX

Site 22
A couple of things from yesterday. First, the FitKitchen Chicken with Cashews bowl was excellent. First time I've had one; I will try some of their other microwave meals. Second, I used the showers. 2 showers with a common drying room. 2 hooks & a folding chair for a bench. The shower head in shower #1 was a low volume version, and the shower head in #2 was a standard flow, but clogged. It was loose enough that I temporary replaced it with my own shower head. A small shelf in the shower for your stuff, but pretty small stalls. They did have a mat outside the shower and the floor of the drying area stayed mostly dry, so overall, I'd rate it at least a B.

Now to today. Most of the drive was on I10. I tried using US 90, which parallels I10 for much of the drive, however it kept combining with I10. Eventually, I just stayed on I10. Driving through Houston was a PIA. 6 lanes each way, with a big stop & go section to get around a wreck that blocked all but 2 lanes. I hoped that by 11:00 I'd miss the rush hour traffic, but, at least before the wreck, all 5 lanes (not the HO lane) were packed.

I was hoping to stay in the Fort Anahuac Park, which listed 2 RV sites on both of my most used RV site apps, but if they are there, I didn't find them. Next door to the fort is the Trinity Bay RV & Lodging, a somewhat fancy (concrete pads) RV park. I'm in site 22, a full hookup site for $35.00. Dead level side to side & front to back. I had to call the park phone # since no one was in the office. A young lady (at my age, they are all young ladies!) came over & logged me in. A bit cooler than yesterday, with an afternoon high of 84°F vs 92°F at Pollard RV Park. It still feels very warm since there is quite a bit of sun.

I spent the afternoon starting a library book on the Kindle, The Warsaw Protocol by Steve Barry. Barry is one of the authors with which I have a like/dislike relationship. I keep reading his novels, and always, about half way through, decide it will be the last. By the end, I am always willing to try for the next one. At least I'm not paying for the library book (well, since my school taxes lists the library as a separate item, I guess I am paying for it).

While I could do laundry, the laundromat is to far down the row of sites to walk carrying my laundry basket, so I'll save it for one of the next parks. Although the bathrooms are rated as clean & nice on Campground Reviews, I never found them, even after walking a complete loop around the campground. Lots of permanent buildings & campsites along the outer edges of the campground, while the concrete pads in the center seem to be set up for short time stays.

Dinner was an Amy's Cheese Burrito & a salad.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Day 143, Wednesday, March 11, 2020 - Pollard RV Park, Gonzales, TX

Probably Site 5
A warm night - I ended up tossing all the blankets & quilt since the low was 69°F. This morning I decided it was a good time to change the sheets & dump the blankets. That means it will be freezing tonight, although I doubt that - right now at 4:30 it is 87°F. I reluctantly fired up the AC for the first time since the Fall. Much too noisy for me, but I do admit the cool feels nice.

The plan was to stay at Palmetto State Park, but they are booked solid until Monday. I'm in the nearby Pollard RV Park, an Elks Club park that unlike most, is open to the public. $25.00 for a full hookup, back in site with a concrete pad that is almost level. The sewer is at the rear of the site, requiring more hose than I carry, so I won't be using it, not that I need to. The numbers have worn off the electrical boxes, but I guess I'm in site 5. A nasty looking wasp lives in the electrical hookup. Eventually, he or she went away long enough for me to plug in. Good AT&T speed at 33.9MB down & 5.1MB up. Like yesterday, I didn't bother checking Verizon, but the signal was good enough to stream KJZZ in Phoenix, one of the NPR stations for which I'm a sustaining member.

I'm about 3/4 through Jeff Wheeler's The Killing Fog that I started yesterday. I'm not sure why his books are free for Kindle Unlimited since they are better written than many of the books you need to pay for, but I'm not complaining. I read more of the book, and will probably finish it tonight.

Dinner was a FitKitchen Chicken with Cashews bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Day 142, Tuesday, March 10, 2020 - Governors Landing, Amistad National Rec Area, Del Rio, TX

Site 7
While it didn't actually rain, there was heavy mist that needed the wipers the entire trip. In some areas I had to slow down because of fog. I arrived at Governors Landing in the Amistad National Recreation Area around 11:30AM. I'm in site 7;  $5.00 with the Senior Pass for a dry site. With a bit of careful placement, I only needed to lift one side about 1/2" and a couple of inches on the tongue jack, staying tied to the tow. Most of the sites are fairly heavily sloped, including a couple of nice pull throughs that were too steep for me. A nice view of the reservoir.

Still lots of heavy clouds, although the solar panels are producing enough to break even while operating the laptop. There is an NPR station in Del Rio that the truck radio has no problem picking up, but the trailer radio can't get it. I really need to improve the trailer's radio or reception!

I spent the afternoon reading - still on White's The Heat Islands. In my opinion, it is a better book than some of his later novels. The second in the Doc Ford series. Maybe the fact that the last one I read was the 24th in the series, it was getting a bit stale. After finishing, I started a new series on the Kindle, The Killing Fog, the first in The Grave Kingdom series by Jeff Wheeler. Only problem with that is it is a new series, with #2 & #3 not arriving until later in the summer.

Good AT&T connection - 30.5MB down & 14.6MB up. I didn't check Verizon, although they showed a far weaker signal.

Dinner was a Bubba Burger & applesauce.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, March 9, 2020

Day 141, Monday, March 9, 2020 - Canyons RV Park, Sanderson, TX

An Interesting Shower
One of the problems with all the RV parks in Van Horn is they are right off I10, and next to the railroad tracks. I don't remember the Oasis being as loud for both as the Wild West RV Park, but maybe it was. In any case, lots of trains all night, each blowing the horn.

While both I10 & US 90 split at Van Horn & come back together near San Antonio, I prefer US 90. A few small towns, but a not-very-busy two lane road with a 75MPH speed limit, so I end up doing my usual 63MPH on either road, with lots less traffic on US 90.

I stopped for the day at the Canyons RV Park in Sanderson, TX. It was a tough decision not to scoot down to Big Bend as I went through both Alpine & Marathon, but there are no reservable sites, and since it is in the middle of spring break, likely no first come sites available. It is a 60 mile drive just to check at the visitor center, then another 20 miles to the Rio Grande Village campground if there is any sites available, many that would not fit my trailer. If it is full, another 80 - 100 miles to find a place for the night.

I'm in site 6, a full hookup site for $30.00 per night. No one runs the campground - there is a slot for your money. The bathrooms are interesting - a very small building with a tiny lobby, and a men's & woman's side. One toilet & one shower. The mixing valve for the men's shower appears to have broken, so the solution was to plumb a shut off valve in each of the hot & cold water lines that goes to the showerhead. Tough to use as a kid since the valves are above the shower enclosure. It does work, and the drying area does stay dry. The hooks are useless - anything you put on them falls off. All in all, no better than a C.

As to the traffic noise - US 90 is not quite as busy as I10, but lots of trucks that all hit a bump next to the campground, and the train tracks are right on the back side of the campground with a crossing next door (lots of toots!)

The site is level - I didn't need to unhook or even use the tongue jack to level front to back. After a shower, I sat outside and read -current book is Randy Wayne White's The Heat Islands, a Doc Ford novel. While the Tampa Tribune-Times calls White "The rightful heir to John D. MacDonald" and others, I wouldn't rate him much more than a 1st cousin, but I do enjoy his books.

I called Seminole State Park to see if they had any first come sites since the Texas on-line reservation system showed them full. Glad I called since they let me know the campground was closed. I guess that, at least to a reservation system, that means it is full!

I has a turkey sandwich on sourdough bread & chips for a late lunch around 3:30, so dinner was just some cheese & crackers.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Day 140, Sunday, March 8, 2020 - Wild West RV Park, Van Horn, TX

Site 4
It rained all night and into the morning. Wore my rain jacket for the first time on the trip while packing up the trailer. While Pancho Villa is a nice park in the sun, in the rain things get muddy. I had to wash off the water hose, power cords & the Anderson chocks since all were caked with red dirt/mud. No problem pulling out of the place in 2 wheel drive, but the front of the trailer was caked. Most of it washed off driving in the rain along NM 9.

I saw my first in-person view of the border wall while driving on NM 9. I'm not sure why they built it the way they did, but it is in short sections with open sections between them. For miles, there were as many openings as there was wall. They did have construction sites along the road, so maybe they are planning to fill in the gaps.

I crossed into Texas heading north just before El Paso, then drove I 10 to Van Horn. I felt a bit guilty not stopping at my usual; the Oasis RV Park, but decided to try something different - Site 4 at the Wild West RV Park just down the street. About the same price at $26.24 for full hookups as the Oasis, but a bit nicer looking. Level enough that I didn't have to unhook, although I did need to use the tongue jack to level front to back.

I did a load of laundry, made the usual Sunday calls, and relaxed for the afternoon, although with the change to daylight savings time & crossing into the central time zone, it was after 3:00 by the time I got settled.

Unfortunately, I was too far away from my usual Mexican restaurant, Chuy's and didn't want to unhook the truck, and the ones nearby are not open, so it was a InnovAsian's General Tso's Chicken Rice Bowl for dinner.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Day 139, Saturday, March 7, 2020 - Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM, Day 4

Not much happening today. Today's high was 76°F, with an overnight low of 50°F.

I did check the signal quality of both Verizon & AT&T here at the campground. Verizon shows 6.2MB down & 3.5MB up, while AT&T is 8.3MB down & 2.9MB up. I took a couple of walks around the campground, then settled in outside to do some reading. I finished Anne Hillerman's The Tale Teller, and started a real paper book - Jeffrey Deaver's The Coffin Dancer, an early Lincoln Rhyme book that I somehow haven't read. It is interesting to read a book in a series that is 10 - 12 releases old.

I'm glad I have a cover on the picnic table. I set up the Instant Pot on the picnic table, started dinner & it started raining. According to my weather app the rain isn't suppose to arrive until tomorrow, but while light, it has pretty much been raining for the last 3 hours.

During a brief null, I cranked up the stabilizers & hooked up the trailer to the truck, just in case it is pouring in the morning.

Dinner was a chicken thigh, new potatoes & pinto beans cooked in the Instant Pot. 18 minutes for a frozen thigh, overnight soaked beans, and the potatoes worked well with the chicken thigh at 190°F, and the potatoes & beans done. I might try 16 minutes next time.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 6, 2020

Day 138, Friday, March 6, 2020 - Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM, Day 3

The Restored GMC Motorhome & VW Bug

I'm not sure how low the temperature got last night - my outdoor thermometer has a habit of showing 35°F for the overnight low and I know it wasn't that cold. In any case, I ran the electric cube heater & the trailer stayed at 65°F inside. A little too warm for me, but I didn't use any propane.

Speaking of propane, I drove to the Columbus LP Gas building to get my empty 20 pound tank & mostly empty 5 pound tank filled. They are one of the few locations that fill by weight, then convert to gallons. 5 gallons of propane for $13.49 with tax. The small tank only took .4 gallons. I need to get better at estimating how close to empty by weight or shaking with the little tank. In any case, all are filled.

Back at the trailer, while there is plenty of sunshine & it is 66°F outside, it is very windy (shaking the trailer windy) so I'm sitting inside. I spent some time on the computer, then read my Kindle. I noticed that there are a number of car campers in the park. No tent, just sleeping in the car. Those in a van might be comfortable, but there is a young lady next to me that is in an older Honda CR-V, which must be pretty tight for sleeping. She sure packs a lot of stuff in the Honda - she completely filled the picnic table and surrounding area with stuff out of the car.

I went for a walk around the campground with the camera.  The rest of the photos are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

The rest of the afternoon was spent sitting outside, moving into the shade or out of the wind and reading.  Current book is Anne Hillerman's The Tale Teller. While it hit 70°F during the afternoon, unfortunately it was too windy for the shade, and too hot in the sun.

Dinner was a couple of turkey hot dogs & applesauce.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Day 137, Thursday, March 5, 2020 - Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM, Day 2

A relaxing day. High, thin clouds & a high of 68°F, combined with a breeze made it vary from OK to uncomfortable sitting outside, so I kept moving back & forth. While outside I heard Sandhill Cranes, but they were either out of sight somewhere to the east, or flying in a "V" formation way overhead. They were gone by noon, so I suspect they were feeding, particularly since I didn't see any ponds.

Around 3:00 I got a text message from Walgreen's letting me klnow that my prescription refill was in. I looked up propane suppliers, found one in Deming, and put the address in the Garmin. When I got there it was an archery store. So, back to the center of town & Walgreens. No wait, but the co pay for non generic drops has gone up from $50.00 to $60.00. I really can't complain - the retail $ for the 90 day supply is $764.00.

By the time I got back to Pancho Villa, it was dinner time, which was the rest of yesterday's homemade pizza.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Day 136, Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM

Site 28
I did have to take a photo of the morning blue sky at Sunny Flats. Of course it decided to do this as I was leaving. It was down to 33°F at 6:30AM. My neighbor came over & put a new site sticker for two days and added a bunch of chairs for a friend that is arriving later today. That annoyed the neighbor on the other side since he was planning to move into my site when I left. Glad I'm gone, although I'd love to have seen the results. Photo at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Since all the reservable sites were booked until April, I called Pancho Villa State Park from the Chiricahua Museum to see if they had any openings (Yes, it is spelled Pancho, not Poncho as my spell checker insists). Unfortunately, all I got was an answering machine. They called back less than 15 minutes later, but by then I was out of cell coverage & it went to voice mail. I decided to skip going directly to Pancho Villa on NM 9, which was a good shortcut, and stop at the Deming Walmart for some water since I was down to less than a gallon, and the makings for a homemade pizza.

In Deming, I checked the voice mail & discovered that they had 2 first come sites open as well as many dry sites. Since I've never been to Pancho Villa, I headed south on NM 11 after Walmart rather than north to my usual City of Rocks stop.

The 2 sites were still open, so I'm currently in site 28 for 4 nights. Water & electric for $14.00 per night. A nice site with a covered picnic table. After setting up I walked around the campground, and met a couple that have retired from teaching geology traveling in a restored GMC motorhome towing a restored Volkswagen bug.

After setting up and my walk, I headed to the showers. Like City of Rocks, the softest water I've ever showered in. You spend far more time rinsing than washing. A permanent showerhead with a weak flow, shower curtain, a small but dry drying area (including the floor) that had a bench & a pair of hooks. A push button with a 10 second run with fairly hot water. Except for the super soft water, I'd rate the shower at a B.

Back at the trailer I sat in the sun until dinner, which was a homemade pizza using Pillsbury pizza dough. First time for the Pillsbury dough - easier to use than the typical store refrigerated dough, and almost as good.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 135, Tuesday, March 3, 2020 - Sunny Flats Forest Service Campground, Portal, AZ, Day 3

Chiricahua Museum
A bit of rain overnight, and cool. At noon it was 47°F, and pouring rain. Any colder & it would be snow! I decided it would be a good day to explore the Chiricahua Museum & the adjoining Apache Museum. Seven dollar entry fee for seniors, $10.00 for others. They have a large gift shop where I bought a "T" shirt.

I put together a separate page of photos of the museum. By the way, a great place to see live (but behind glass) rattlesnakes that live in the southwest.
I did text Don & Anne since there is an AT&T (as well as Verizon) signal at the museum. They are doing well, and on their way back from Don's 6 month NYC cancer checkup & a great scan for Don.

I doubt much else will go on today - a great one for sitting inside and reading. I do have to remember to take my grill out of the bear box & store it in the truck before leaving tomorrow, and I have to decide if I want to dig out the spare 20 pound propane tank out of the back of the truck (it is very buried) since one of the trailer tanks is empty. I should be able to go at least a week on the remaining tank, so I probably won't, particularly in the rain, but I do remember running out of both tanks in the Desert View campground at the Grand Canyon in 2" of snow with the nearest fill up 30 miles away...

I spoke (well, typed) a bit too soon; at 1:00 it is sleeting and down to 44°F. During a break in the rain/sleet around 3:00, I decided it would be better to move the grill into the truck rather than in the morning. Since I had most of the stuff out of the way, I also traded propane tanks so I have 2 full tanks on the trailer. It is now down to 43°F. Any guesses what the morning will bring? Oh yea, it is raining again,

Dinner will be a couple of Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu dinners. Not a nice day to grill outside.

Overnight low was 34°F, but the rain stopped during the early evening, and lots of sun by morning. I'm back to a cell connection, so I'll post this & the museum page, and do today's journal later.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, March 2, 2020

Day 134, Monday, March 2, 2020 - Sunny Flats Forest Service Campground, Portal, AZ, Day 2

My Site Looking Southwest
A quiet night - not a sound but the wind from outside, and, with no internet service for the phone, none of my favorite on line radio stations. I did listen to a bit of XM Radio but the weekend schedule available on their NPR channel is very repetitive, so that didn't last long. During the night it actually warmed up a bit, then around 6:30AM, it was back down to 50°F.

After breakfast I took a walk around the campground, took a couple of photos, then did some reading in the trailer. While yesterday's heavy clouds have been replaced with a lightly scattered overcast, at 55°F and a fair amount of wind, sitting outside, even in the sun was uncomfortable. Lots of change over in the campground. The folks in the van from Alaska left and were soon replaced by a 5th wheel. A camper van from Michigan moved in next door in site 12. There are still a few empty sites, but most of them are shallow.

I'm now reading book 8 of the Manny series by Rich Curtin. I still don't quite know what to make of the collection. I love reading about the area where the stories take place, but wish the writing was better. Too much repetition - much of each book is repeating information from the previous volumes. While it is difficult for an author to choose how much should be carried over in a series, I believe that they should be read in order, which lets the author cut down on introducing the same material in each book. In any case, I'm starting the 8th book Coyote's Regret, and have enjoyed the series. I just discovered that Anne Hillerman launched The Tale Teller: A Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Novel, the 23rd book in the series created by her father Tony, so I am looking forward to reading it.

I have discovered that both Lightroom & Dreamweaver do not like having a WiFi connection that is not connected to the internet. Both were very slow, taking minutes to respond to keystrokes until I shut off the computer's WiFi. Something new in later releases of the software - I didn't have the problem in the past, but with an internet connection available through my cell modems almost everywhere on the trip, this is one of the first times since I was here in the fall that I haven't had an internet connection.

I'm going to post this & yesterday's page before dinner by driving a couple of miles north to find a cell signal. It is interesting - Verizon stated they would be shutting down their 3G service as of last January. A little ways outside the campground I pick up a Verizon LTE signal, but no data service. Further down the road the LTE signal disappears, 3G appears, and there is data.

Dinner will be a grilled chicken leg quarter & a salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 133, Sunday, March 1, 2020 - Sunny Flats Forest Service Campground, Portal, AZ

Site 13
As predicted, I'm out of cell service, and won't be updating until I drive 5 miles to a Verizon cell signal or Wednesday when I head east. Not a bad drive on AZ 80. When I arrived at Sunny Flats, there were 3 sites available. I chose #13, one I've been in before. Deep enough that I don't need to unhook the truck, and fairly level, although I did use a pair of Anderson levelers to level side to side. A bit of a slope front & back to the site, in fact rather exciting when setting up.

I used my "One Step" between wheel step on chocks, which have worked well everywhere else, but when I lifted the tongue off the ball, the chock slid on the asphalt surface, the trailer twisted to one side and slid off the pair of Lego blocks I had under the tongue jack. When I went to lift the tongue jack enough to put the ball back under the tongue, it wouldn't go high enough for the ball to clear the tongue. I backed the truck so the edge of the stinger was under the front of the tongue. Careful jacking let me slide 3 loge blocks under the foot, and all was fixed. It would have been interesting if I couldn't catch the lip of the tongue with the stinger - finding another way to lift 500 pounds of tongue weight doesn't sound like fun.

Other than that, set up was simple. Site 13 is a dry site for $10.00 per night with the Senior Pass. A beautiful location and the site is one of the few that both fits the 21 & has a clear view of the sky for the solar panels. I'm glad I came in with a full charge - heavy clouds, windy, and cool at 58°F at 10:00.

I took a walk around the campground & took a few photos, including some of the sites too shallow for an Escape 21. The folks in Site 12, another of my favorites, just left, but I will stay here in #13. Site #12 has a covered picnic table, nice in the heat of the summer or bad weather, but not necessary now.

There is a host this time (None in the Fall stop) that I chatted with for a bit. The trailer next door to him has an open frame construction generator I can hear from my site...

A van from Alaska just pulled in. Small world; they were parked behind me at Whitewater Wash.

It never did warm up much during the day - a high of 60°F for the day. Still lots of wind, a few more RVs into the campground, but as of 2:13PM, site 12 is still empty. I like to take night photos here since it is so far from any bright lights, but with the heavy cloud cover I doubt there will be much chance for good photos tonight.

Dinner was a microwaved Healthy Choice General Tso's Spicy Chicken dinner.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Day 132, Saturday, February 29, 2020 - City Golf Course Campground, Douglas, AZ, Day 2

A very boring day sitting around the campground. I spent most of it in the trailer. Warm enough outside at 78°F, but very windy. The campground is full, with someone moving into site 15 next door last night. I updated my retirement portfolio at TIAA - Gulp! Let's hope the Covid 19 panic calms down. If it keeps going the way it has been this last week, I doubt anyone will be attending any of the rallies for which I already have reservations.

If I'm lucky, you may not hear from me for a couple of days. I'm heading to Sunny Flats tomorrow where there is no cell service, but with only 14 first come sites, and only about 5 that the 21 will fit, I may not get a site. If not, I will head on to I 10 & Lordsburg, NM.

I finished Trails of Deception, the third in a series of 8 books by Rich Curtin, all featuring Manny Rivera, a deputy sheriff in the Moab, UT area. His writing style is similar to the late Tony Hillerman & his daughter Anne, but not as well done. I love reading about many of the areas I've visited & hiked, but I can't quite grasp what is missing. In any case, I'm enjoying the series & will probably continue through all 8.

Dinner was a couple of Bueno Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, February 28, 2020

Day 131, Friday, February 28, 2020 - City Golf Course Campground, Douglas, AZ

Site 16

While I heard the Sandhill cranes leaving around 7:00AM, I used being in the middle of a series of eye drops as an excuse for not getting dressed & walking down to the pond. By the time I finished breakfast at 8:45, they were all gone.

I left the campground around 10:00, and headed to the Douglas Golf Campground. I stayed there for a week during my 2014 cross country trip, and while it is just a parking lot with hookups, it is cheap. $20.00 per night for a full hookup site. I'm in site 16.

After setting up I headed to Brite Wash Laundromat. Very crowded, but no waiting for washers or dryers. A medium size front loader was $2.00 (half the $ at the Quartzsite Laundromat) to wash, and $.25 per 8 minutes to dry. After that I headed to the Cantu Barbershop for a haircut. A real barber that even shaves your neck with a straight razor. I should point out that Douglas is a definite border town. Almost everyone is bilingual, in fact I overheard a conversation at the laundromat where one was speaking English and the other Spanish. At the barbershop the music was a Mexican radio station until I sat down in the chair, at which point Mr. Cantu, the barber switched to a country western station. As I headed out the door it was back to a Mexican station. A great haircut for $12.00.

Next was Walmart (a couple hundred feet from the border crossing) for a sewing set. I lost a button on the sleeve of one of my flannel shirts, and when I finally found my emergency sewing kit, the only needle left in it had an eye so small I couldn't thread it even with a needle threader (the tiny wire would not fit through the eye). So, I now have a deluxe sewing kit. Of course, being Walmart, I also picked up a bunch of other stuff, including dinner.

Back at the campground I headed to the showers. There are two in a bathroom that also has a small sink & one toilet. Lots of pressure, adjustable temperatures, 2 very small shelves in the shower stall, a bench & plenty of hooks in the drying area (which is not separated from the rest of the bathroom. I'm not sure why there are two showers in a bathroom with a lock on the door (that was locked most of the morning) but I'd give it an overall C+.

Dinner was 5 chicken wings, 5 potato slices & three stuffed jalapeƱo peppers, a quick meal from Walmart.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Day 130, Thursday, February 27, 2020 - Whitewater Draw Arizona Game & Fish Wildlife Refuge, Day 2

Kissing Cranes

Yesterday, I went back late in the day to catch some photos under better lighting.

This morning I looked at the thermometer at dawn and it was 27°F, so even though there was a mass exodus of Sandhill cranes, I didn't see it.

The car that blocked me in left early, so I did get up at 7:30 and backed the trailer up enough so that I could get out even if the 5th wheel in front of me stayed. I believe we are both leaving tomorrow, and they will probably get out before me, but I'm covered.

I wandered down to the pond wearing a coat, wool hat & gloves around 10:00 and took photos until 12:00. By 11:30, I was even able to take off my gloves. I included a photo of the Refuge's Sandhill Crane Web Camera that lets you go on line to see if anyone is home. They also have an Owl camera, but I couldn't get close enough for a photo.

Back at the trailer I relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. After dinner I made another trip to the pond. I met one of the volunteers and was informed that this is not a BLM campground (as my campground app describes it) but an Arizona Game & Fish Wildlife Refuge, so I renamed the title. I was hoping for more sunset light, but the heavy clouds prevented that, and made for very dim lighting. I did get a bunch of "Crane Dances", but by the time the major portion of the flock came back it was too dark for photos, with the exception of a duck in the sunlight on the water. Some of today's photos are on today's LakeshoreImages page, but many more are at the link below.

I put together the promised Lightroom pages with many more photos.

Dinner was an Amy's Cheddar Cheese Burrito, peaches & a hard boiled egg.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Day 129, Wednesday, February 26, 2020 - Whitewater Draw Arizona Game & Fish Wildlife Refuge

Sandhill Crane
I took a couple of moon & cactus photos last night that have an Arizona feel that are on the LakeshoreImages page.

A windy night, with lots of trailer shaking. Lots of sound effects from the bush rubbing against the back window. After breakfast & a bit of forum reading, I headed out. Lots of traffic on I 10, but once I exited to AZ 80, the traffic went away. I only stopped in Tombstone for gas & a coffee refill; I've been to the tourist part of the town twice, and with the exception of the courthouse museum, twice too many.

I pulled into the Whitewater Draw BLM area around 11:30, and the space for RV's was close to full. I wormed my way into a space that I may not be able to get out of, but I'm here. I wandered over to the pond & took a few photos of the Sandhill Cranes and other birds, looked back and saw that one of the RVs left. Rushed back to move into a better space, but by the time I reached the truck a large Class A pulled into the space. So, I'm here, hoping the 5th wheel ahead of me leaves before I want to. I've been to a couple of Sandhill Crane wintering locations, and enjoy taking photos. The last time was at Bosque del Apache, and I have to say there are many more here. I made multiple loops around the ponds, and added some photos throughout the day.  The result is at today's LakeshoreImages page.

It has cooled off even more than it was in Tucson (I gained another couple thousand feet) so even in the sun a jacket is necessary. Lots of the people viewing the cranes are wearing winter coats & gloves.

After the short walk to the pond, I sat in the trailer and read. I finished Nathan Van Coops's The Chronothon (Not too bad, I downloaded the next in the series & will read it next) and started Artifacts of Death, by Rich Curtin, another new author (at least for me) that has a series about the Southwest.

Dinner was a Barber Cordon Bleu & the rest of the can of Bush beans. It is cool enough (55°F at 2:00PM) that using the oven is a pleasure!

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Day 128, Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - Gilbert Ray County Park, AZ, Day 2

Site A74
After breakfast and some forum reading, I packed up the trailer & headed to the office to get assigned my new site. There was still a 5th wheel in the new site, so I went and dumped & filled the fresh water tank. About a 15 minute wait after that. I'm now in A74, a wide, but shallow site. With the back of the trailer against the rocks at the rear of the site, the truck front bumper is about 2" from the road. The site is level side to side, but while I didn't need to unhook, I did crank up the front of the trailer a couple of inches.

After that it was another goofing off day. I walked around the campground loop a couple of times, and sat outside reading. Current book is Nathan Van Coops's The Chronothon. This is the second "Time Traveler Adventure" book in a 4 book series, and one that I was hesitant to start since the first book dragged. This one is much better, so I may even look at the rest of the series.

I added some photo taken during the late afternoon up to sunset. I love the evening light in the desert. They are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a grilled chicken leg quarter & Bush beans.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, February 24, 2020

Day 127, Monday, February 24, 2020 - Gilbert Ray County Park, AZ

Gilbert Ray County Park, Site A12
I got an early start, leaving Vekol Valley BLM by 8:30 (well, early for me)! The traffic got much busier once I hit I 10, plus the exit Matilda the GPS picked for me was closed. At least they had a sign, so I could use the previous exit only a mile away. As usual, there was a line of people waiting to get a site. I asked for 2 nights since I had a busy day planed running around Tucson (little did I know how much running), and while I got sites, I have to move tomorrow morning.

I'm set up in site A12, a close to level back in site (it needed side to side leveling, although since I needed to unhook to roam Tucson, it didn't matter. $20.00 for an electric only site. I walked around the loop and found 2 Escape 21's and 2 19's, and a 17 along with a Casita. Fiberglass trailers are well represented here at Gilbert Ray.

After setting up I did a search for Allstate offices. Since I didn't know Tucson all that well, trying to find an Allstate office, post office, haircut & gas all near each other was difficult. I headed to the closest Allstate, paid my bill & picked up the proof of insurance paperwork, then did a search for a post office. Only 5 miles away, but getting into it was "interesting". I eventually went around the block a couple of times and found the customer entrance. From there the nearest barber shop was 7 miles away. Got there and it was gone. I looked for one using my phone that was near the campground and found Brotherz. The exit off I 19 (yes, Matilda wanted me to use the interstate) was, of course, closed. I eventually got there around 1:30, and discovered that they went to lunch between 1:00 - 3:00. By the way, there was an Allstate office next to the barber shop. So, back to the campground without a haircut. Total mileage for the day - 47. The only good was I found a Quicktrip station where gas was $2.27, the cheapest I've seen in the area.

Dinner was the rest of yesterday's pizza. It was nice to be able to warm it up without running the inverter & drawing down the batteries.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Day 126, Sunday, February 23, 2020 - Vekol Valley BLM, AZ

Vekol Valley, AZ Dispersed Camping
Lots of overnight wind, but the rain stopped and the sky cleared. I packed up & left Imperial Dam around 9:30AM. I stopped in a Yuma Walmart and spent way too much on restocking the refrigerator,  food & snack cabinets. Not too much traffic on I 8, and I arrived at the Vekol Valley BLM dispersed area around 2:00.  No bathrooms, tables, fire pits, or cost, just a piece of the desert.  I thought about going to Organ Pipe as I passed AZ 85, but it wasn't all that long ago that I visited, so I'll skip it this trip.

Lots of distant mountains, but flat enough that I didn't need to unhook. Lots of pretty clouds, a bit of wind, and cooler (68°F this afternoon with a predicted 48°F tonight) than Imperial Dam ( I gained around 1500' of altitude). There are 4 other RVs in sight, although Vekol Valley is large enough that there could be more here. Tom, the local BLM ranger stopped by for a chat, and I made my usual Sunday phone & Facetime calls with those shivering back East.

No real setting up, so I relaxed & read most of the afternoon. Current book is A Maiden's Grave by Jeffery Deaver.

Dinner was a thin crust Digiorno Supreme pizza.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Day 125, Saturday, February 22, 2020 - Imperial Dam LTVA, CA, Day 5

 Some rain overnight, enough that I woke up at 3:00AM and remembered that I had left the truck windows open an inch or so. I put on some pants, went out & closed them. Of course the rain stopped after I got back in the trailer. It started up around 7:00AM, and rained off and on throughout the day. It is raining now, although the sun is shining.

Around noon I headed out for propane. The Christian Service Center sells propane. I know they don't sell it on Sundays, but discovered that they also don't sell it on Saturdays. No problem, I went to the Yuma Proving Grounds where there is a gas station that sells propane. A bit of a PIA to get into - they need to see your auto insurance, registration, and check with Homeland Security with either a passport or driver's license to issue a day pass, about a 10 minute process. I pulled up to the gas station, and guess what? They don't sell propane on Saturdays.

Off to Hidden Shores Resort. I forgot what a PIA it is to drive into & around the place - speed bumps every couple of hundred feet. They have a gate guard that issued a pass after recording the truck license plate, and directed me to the store. Propane at $3.47 (including tax) was a dollar more per gallon than at Quartzsite, and the most expensive of the trip.

Bach at the trailer I did some reading, and started putting the trailer stuff away in anticipation of heading out in the morning. I got most of it done in between rain bursts. Folding up the 9'X12' plastic ground mat in 25 MPH winds was interesting. I was lucky - the wind direction actually helped fold it. By the way, with the rain the humidity reached 95%, a big improvement over yesterday's low of 14%.

No photos today - I did add a couple of crops of the satellite photos on day 123 since I had a number of inquiries about the photo from one of the forums I post to. There is a full sized jpg of the image added as well as the crops.

I also made another trip to the Squaw Lake Campground for a shower. I only have 2 tokens left; guess I'll have to come back next year!

Dinner was a Healthy Choice Creamy Chicken & Mushroom Cafe Steamer.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, February 21, 2020

Day 124, Friday, February 21, 2020 - Imperial Dam LTVA, CA, Day 4

The Trailer & the Sunset
Another warm night, only getting down to 60°F, and hitting 88°F this afternoon. A very nice sunset last night, so I took a few photos, the rest at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Another lazy day. I started a walk this morning, but my plantar fasciitis, which had all but disappeared during the early part of the trip seems to have come back with a bang (or ouch). While walking does relieve some of the heal pain, it was bad enough this morning that I quit and came back after less than a quarter mile.

I did some reading, current book is Larry Niven's Ringworld Throne. There are a series of Ringworld SiFi novels built around a world that is a 997,000 mile wide strip that circles a sun at radius of .95 times 10 to the 8th miles, resulting in a surface area of 6 times 10 to the 14th square miles, giving the author lots to play with! Interesting concept.

Dinner was the last of the Halibut.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Day 123, Thursday, February 20, 2020 - Imperial Dam LTVA, CA, Day 3

Stars & Starlink Satellites
It was a warm night so I sat outside and did a couple of star photos. While in the middle of nowhere, Imperial Dam is a bit too bright for good images. Too bad, because the moon is very late rising so all the extra light is from the ground. You need to look at the large versions to see much of anything. The circle was a one hour exposure. In the above image I may have caught a few of Elon Musk's Starlink satellites. There are a bunch of short streaks in the 31 second exposure. I can't think of any other space objects that would have that group signature.  If the detail is not visible in the above photo, you can see them in the large version of the last image on today's LakeshoreImages page.

Tonight won't be a good time for photos of the stars, light clouds are moving in. Still enough sun to fill the batteries, but cloudy. Lots of wind with 18 MPH peaks and 11 MPH average. It is very drying - the humidity is 15%. I usually don't ever get chapped lips, but I dug out a Big Tent freebie - a chapstick from Pahrump, NV this afternoon.

I had a short visit with an Escape 17 owner that follows my journal on his way to Organ Pipe National Monument. A great place, and good for night photos where there usually isn't much spill light. He was here at Imperial Dam for the last couple of months.

More sitting outside ducking the wind. Current book is Contract Null & Void, by Joe Gores. He has an unusual writing style that I thought I recognized - looked in my "read books" database, and discovered that I read his Gone, No Forwarding in 1999.

Dinner was a grilled chicken thigh & spinach cakes.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Day 122, Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - Imperial Dam LTVA, CA

The Liberry
I was a bit nervous since my nearest neighbor dragged out a open frame (ie, construction) generator, but he never fired it up. So far there has been enough sun that I haven't needed mine, and as a quiet inverter type generator, I hope it won't annoy folks if I have to use it.

A relaxing night - the furnace never started for the first time in months. I discovered an interesting fact - my AT&T iPhone 10, even though is shows no bars, switched to California time. My Verizon iPhone 7+ stayed on Arizona time.

A bit cloudy this morning, but it cleared up by 11:00AM. I drove to the Liberry (that is the way they spell it), an old Airstream that is gutted & filled with shelves. There are liberrians that shelve the books by genre, and author. If you drop off books, they prefer that you don't shelve them, but like a real library, have a drop off shelf. You can borrow or trade up to 6 books at a time.

I took a couple more photos, including the reservoir, the bathroom (with outdoor showers) the "office" and part of the upper campground. Even though the place is called the Imperial Dam LTVA, it is really on the Senator Wash Dam & Reservoir. Imperial Dam is southeast of the LTVA and has a fancy camping resort (Hidden Shores) that is on the Imperial Dam Reservoir. There is suppose to be a nice restaurant there, but I've never been.  Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Around 2:00 I headed over to the Squaw Lake BLM Campground on the other side of the Senator Wash Reservoir Dam for a shower. Squaw Lake Campground is a paid BLM campground that has paved sites that are essentially a parking lot, some with grills. The big advantage is bathrooms with showers. They use tokens, of which I have 4, since I only had a $5.00 bill when I went for showers 2 years ago. Glad they still use the same ones! 5 minutes for $1.00. They do run for at least 5 minutes with a nice showerhead, and you better plan for lots of rinse time since the water is very soft. Small rooms with a fold down seat in a separate drying area that will have a wet floor after you shower. 2 hooks for clothes & towel. Overall, a C+ rating, however since there is no alternative but the trailer, well worth the $1.00.

Back at the trailer I sat outside in a light breeze (it is almost always windy at Imperial Dam) and 85°F in the shade. Current book is In Times Like These by Nathan Van Coops, a very slow moving SiFi time travel book. I'm a bit addicted to time travel books, so I'll probably finish this, but unless it gets moving, I'm going to skip the next 3 in the series.

Dinner was a steak, mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables.

Until Tomorrow -