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 -

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Day 229, Thursday, March 21, 2019 - Toad Suck Corps of Engineers Campground, Conway, AR, Day 4

Thursday, March 21, 2019 - Toad Suck Corps of Engineers Campground, Conway, AR, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 10,090.9 Miles for the Trip

The noisy dog next door got in a fight with an unleashed dog, and I believe someone got bit pulling them apart. Next thing you know, two ranger trucks and the sheriff arrived, with the loose dog tied in the back of one of the ranger's trucks. The owner was found, and after a half hour of discussion, the owner of the loose dog snapped a leash on it & headed home.

That was the excitement for the day. It started out cold at 39°F, but warmed up into the high 60's by the end of the afternoon. I spent most of the day reading. I did hook up the truck to make it a little easier heading out tomorrow morning.

Dinner was an Amy's Cheese & Bean Burrito, along with a salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Day 228, Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - Toad Suck Corps of Engineers Campground, Conway, AR, Day 3

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - Toad Suck Corps of Engineers Campground, Conway, AR, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 10,090.9 Miles for the Trip

I really feel bad picking on pop up tent camper owners, but along with the barking dog next door, when they got home they played loud music until 10:30, and ran a string of Christmas lights along side my trailer (at the edge of their site). Nothing wrong with some evening lighting, but they left them on all night. Sure lit up my bedroom window! Not the best neighbors I've had on the trip.

Today was laundry day. Rather than ask my Garmin for a laundry, which always results in a dry cleaners, I went to Google & asked for a "Coin Laundromat". It sent me to a place called the Coin Laundromat! Nice machines, inexpensive & clean, with plenty of tables to fold your clothes. The usual uncomfortable chairs. I don't know why, but it seems all laundromats have the most uncomfortable chairs possible. They want you to hang around to take your clothes out of the machines as soon as possible, but make it uncomfortable to sit.

It started to rain while I was in the laundromat. Light rain off & on all afternoon.

I have to admit I goofed when I bought the new coffee pot. The old one was working fine, but was white, and stained beyond cleaning. In the past I looked at a Mr Coffee 5 cup coffee maker & didn't like it. My old white one was a Black & Decker, and when I saw a black Black & Decker 5 cup coffee maker on the shelf at Walmart for $15.00, I went for it. Lots of changes that I didn't see before hand since there wasn't a demo version out. The carafe on the new one doesn't have a flip top like the old one, but one you have to take out to fill, then replace to make coffee. There is no warming plate. While I don't use the warming plate when making coffee with the inverter, I do like to use it when I have hookups. There are loose supports that hold the carafe, the idea being a cup or travel mug can be placed in the space to catch the drip. Handy if that is the way you want to go, but my 24 ounce travel mug is too tall to fit. Lastly, the opening you pour the water in is not as easy to see as it is with the old coffee pot. That can be messy on a dim morning.

Hard to believe there can be that much to complain about with a coffee pot, but I'm going back to the old one.

Other than that, the day was pretty boring. I made the bed, put away the clothes and packed up the new coffee pot. I'll wait until morning to put it out next to the dumpsters so the box doesn't get wet. Maybe someone else can use it.

The campground is near full. Like yesterday, there is only one empty site here in the "D" first come section. While a couple of RVs left, new ones arrived. I don't know how long Spring Break lasts, but I saw a sign announcing a Spring Break special on the 28th. Glad I made reservations for the next two weeks. I am pretty sure I won't need them for Cades Cove. When I was there last year there were 5 RVs in the campground (with 159 sites). Since it is dry camping, I do want to find a site with sun.

Dinner was a Tai Pei Sweet & Sour Chicken dinner. While I prefer their Orange Chicken, I haven't been able to find one is the last couple of stores. The Sweet & Sour was editable, but just.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Day227, Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - Toad Suck Corps of Engineers Campground, Conway, AR, Day 2

Toad Suck Dam
Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - Toad Suck Corps of Engineers Campground, Conway, AR, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 10,090.9 Miles for the Trip

Alright, I know you have all been waiting for it - the name Toad Suck has, like many, a couple of different origins. The most often quoted is "when idle rivermen would congregate at the local tavern where they would 'suck on the bottle 'til they swell up like toads'". It has been voted the worst named town in America by The Wikipedia entry for the community. So, now we know!

I walked around the campground this morning, and checked out the dam on the Arkansas River. Lots of water running through it - many of the area rivers & creeks are overflowing with the Spring runoff & recent rains. Many bird's nests on the bridge that is part of the dam. I put out the hummingbird feeder, but so far, no takers.

A large family in a pop up camper moved into the site next to me. They promptly tied up their dog & left - it has been barking since...

I saw a post that parts of I 40 are closed in the eastern Tennessee / Georgia area, as are many county roads due to flooding or landslides. Because I'm traveling during Spring Break, I made reservations for the next two weeks at a couple of state parks. I hope the entry roads are open and my unseen sites are above water!

Dinner was a chicken thigh & salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, March 18, 2019

Day 226, Monday, March 18, 2019 - Toad Suck Corps of Engineers Campground, Conway, AR

Afternoon Light & Moon
Monday, March 18, 2019 - Toad Suck Corps of Engineers Campground, Conway, AR - 99.7 Miles, 10,090.9 Miles for the Trip

I took a couple of photos of the hill across the river from the campground. Great light and I even managed to include the 3/4 moon in one. I do wish the water was a bit smoother to do a better reflection...

I didn't rush the morning since I was only driving 100 miles or so. Almost all of it was on US 64, which, in this area is parallel to and at time next door to I 40. Every once in awhile I was tempted to hop on the interstate, particularly when I was stuck behind a slow driver, but as I've mentioned, I prefer the secondary roads and am willing to take a few extra minutes to get where I'm going.

The campground office suggested that I take a look at the sites in the "A" section before making a reservation. They are labeled as "slight" slope at, but she chuckled about that. I checked them out, and while I might have been able to lower the tongue enough to level the trailer, I had to agree with her assessment. I drove over to the half full first come section and chose D8. $9.00  water & electric per night with the Senior Card. I did have to do a bit of side to side leveling, but the rest of the site was level. Since I'm here for 4 days, I unhooked the truck for the first time in over a week.

I forgot to ask at the office where the name came from, but it isn't just the campground. The name is on one of the side roads, a couple of stores, etc.

I drove to the Conway Kroger's for some supplies, and the local Walmart for a new coffee pot. Although it was only 7 miles, they were long miles with lots of traffic lights, traffic circles, and 35MPH speed limits.

Back at the campground I headed to the "A" section for a shower (no bathrooms here in the first come loop). Typical COE bathroom - everything in one room with a high pressure showerhead. No hooks, and only the handicap fold down tables to put things on. Also unusual for the COE, no toilet paper. The bathroom was nice & clean; maybe it was a busy weekend.

Dinner was a Private Selection Thin Crust Grilled Mushroom & Truffle Oil Pizza. A long name for a Kroger brand pizza described as a product of Germany. I find it hard to believe they shipped it over on a boat, but that is what it says! In any case, it was good.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Day 225, Sunday, March 17, 2019 - Aux Arc Park, Ozark, AR, Day 4

Sunday, March 17, 2019 - Aux Arc Park, Ozark, AR, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 9,991.2 Miles for the Trip

Warmer today - I even got to sit outside & read. The campground is still near full. As people pull out, new RVs move in. I met a couple of neighbors, waved hello to around 100 passing by, but didn't do much else.

Dinner was a Healthy Choice Grilled Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Day 224, Saturday, March 16, 2019 - Aux Arc Park, Ozark, AR, Day 3

Site D4
Saturday, March 16, 2019 - Aux Arc Park, Ozark, AR, Day 3 - .1 Miles, 9,991.2 Miles for the Trip

A very short, but complicated move today. My current site (B6) was reserved, so I hooked up the trailer and headed to the office. As I was pulling out (at 9:00AM) the next person was moving in. The office had a couple of people waiting to get in - the staff didn't show up until 9:30. He couldn't find me in the computer. Since I am somehow listed under 2 different accounts at, I wasn't sure why until he printed out my new reservation under Must be he has a problem with my northern accent on "D's", but I have the same problem.

He told me I was being moved to B4 & I commented that it was next door to my old site when he asked if I could find it. When I got there, there was someone still in the site that was planning to leave around 12:00. As I was driving to the large parking area to wait, I looked at the paperwork and found I was actually in D4. Eventually, I arrived at my new home for 2 days. Same price of $9.00 per day with the senior discount for water & electric on the opposite side of the road & quite a bit closer to the campground entrance. Still a long walk to the showers & bathroom. I'm lucky I got the site - the campground is near full.

It was a cool day, so other than a long walk, I spent most of it in the trailer. This is one of the few times I wish I had a load of firewood to build a fire to huddle around. Lots of reading, both my current book & on the internet. By the way, there is good AT&T as well as Verizon service: AT&T signal strength is -83dBm with 29.4 Mbps down & 14.3 Mbps up, Verizon at -94dBm with 84.1 Mbps down & 33.9 Mbps up.

Dinner was a chicken patty & the remainder of the asparagus.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 15, 2019

Day 223, Friday, March 15, 2019 - Aux Arc Park, Ozark, AR, Day 2

Barges on the River
Friday, March 15, 2019 - Aux Arc Park, Ozark, AR, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 9,991.1 Miles for the Trip

A somewhat cool night, going down to the low 40's, however tonight is predicted to go down to 28°F! I looked at my journal for the last time I was here (2 years ago) and while it was 2 weeks later, it was in the 80's during the day & 60's at night. In any case, it only got up to 60°F today.

I did a walk along part of the campground (it is over a mile long) then spent the day inside reading. While there was lots of sun, it is still very windy, and the cold wind coming over the river/lake makes outside uncomfortable, at least for sitting.

I did take a photo of a string of barges being pushed up river. The lock on the other side of the river must be huge unless they broke up the string of barges. Lots of stuff moving both on the river and on the railroad tracks on the other side.

That was about it for the day. I did remember to listen to Science Friday, something I've been missing because of the time zone differences.

Dinner was Signature Select Sesame Chicken & Rice. Not bad, although I prefer the Orange Chicken.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Day 222, Thursday, March 14, 2019 - Aux Arc Park, Ozark, AR

Site B6
Thursday, March 14, 2019 - Aux Arc Park, Ozark, AR - 288.9 Miles, 9,991.1 Miles for the Trip

I updated the maps on my GPS last night, and it removed the "no tolls" avoidance. By the time I realized that it wanted me to take the Oklahoma Turnpike, I was well past the diagonal secondary roads that would take me to Ozark, Arkansas. It added 40 miles to the trip & put me on I 40 for more than I would have liked. In any case, I'm here.

The campground is an Army Corps of Engineers park with about 1/2 the sites on the lake/river. With the Senior Pass knocking off half the price, it is $9.00 per night for a water & electric site. B6 is a level, paved, river side site with a large gravel tent pad but a long walk to the showers, A bit of train noise from the other side of the river, but nothing that would bother sleeping.

After setting up I read for a bit, then made dinner - a Bubba Turkey burger & asparagus.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Day 221, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - Lake Murray State Park, Ardmore, OK

Site 18
Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - Lake Murray State Park, Ardmore, OK - 183 Miles, 9,702.2 Miles for the Trip

A pretty serious cold front went through overnight. Lots of severe thunderstorm & tornado warnings, and the park supervisor driving up to each RV and letting them know what was coming. It got me nervous enough that I stayed up reading until the front went by around 2:00AM. While there was lots of rain, thunder & lightning, and wind, it was no worse that others I've sat through, although it did look nasty on my weather radar app.

Because I was up so late, I got a late start in the morning, leaving the campground around 10:00. Most of the drive was on Texas farm roads, a couple of US highways, and about 30 miles on I 35. Lots of wind on the drive, but sunny skies.

I'm in site 18 in the Buzzard's Roost campground (there are 9 campgrounds in the park). Site 18 is a pull through, full hookup level site for $27.00 per night. It is still windy, but warm at 76°F at 5:00.

Because I got a late start this morning, I didn't get quite as far as I expected, so tomorrow's drive is going to be longer than normal. I have reservations for 2 nights at the Aux Arc on Ozark Lake (which is actually the Arkansas River) in Ozark, AR. While I hate to make reservations, there was only 2 sites left in the park, so I did.

Dinner was a turkey sandwich & the last of the salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Day 220, Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - Fort Griffin Campground, Albany, TX

Site 9
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - Fort Griffin Campground, Albany, TX - 254.7 Miles, 9,519.2 Miles for the Trip

While I didn't have too many problems with the road conditions on I 20, it was hard to tell if the minor swaying was due to groves in the road or the wind. Very foggy, a bit of mist, but no actual rain. I do see what people mean about the oil business taking over the area. While I didn't try for any of the local campgrounds, all the ones I could see from I 20 looked filled.

I stopped in Odessa for propane. The first location that AllStays sent me to looks to be turned into Odessa College. I couldn't find any propane supplier at the provided coordinates. On the way to the next propane location, I passed U Haul, and filled the empty 20 pound tank as well as topped off the 5 pound grill tank. By then I was too far from Walmart to bother going back, so refilling the freezer will have to wait.

I'm in the Fort Griffin Campground in site 9, a water & electric site for $15.00. The site is on gravel, and level enough that I didn't need to unhook. I didn't put down the stabilizers since I'm only here for one night, but maybe I should have - it is quite windy, and the trailer is rocking.

A weak -122 dBm AT&T signal, but 18.4Mbps down & 6.4Mbps up. Verizon shows a 3G -101dBm signal, but no data connection.

Only a couple of other RVs in the campground, but there is an Escape 19 in the full hookup section. No one was home, so I don't know if it is someone I know.

After setting up I headed for the bathroom & shower. There are a couple of bathrooms scattered around the campground, some with family unisex rooms, and some the traditional men's / women's sections in one building. The closest one to site 9 is a traditional bathroom with one shower in the men's section. I rate the shower an "A". 2 hooks well out of the shower spray, a bench, standard showerhead with plenty of hot water, shower curtain & a good sized dressing area. All I could ask for is to have the showerhead 6" higher, and a larger shelf in the shower itself.

Dinner was a couple of microwaved Tina's Monterey Jack & Chicken Quesadillas, and a salad. Not all that impressed with the Quesadillas, but OK for a quick meal.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, March 11, 2019

Day 219, Monday, March 11, 2019 - Monahans Sandhill State Park, TX

Picnic Site #2
Monday, March 11, 2019 - Monahans Sandhill State Park, TX - 134.2 Miles, 9,264.5 Miles for the Trip

A short drive on I 10 & I 20. A couple of travelers mentioned that I 20 was pretty beat up by the oil rigs in the area, but I didn't find it much worse than I 10. In any case, While US 180 doesn't come near I 20 until Sweetwater, TX, if I 20 gets too bad I'll cut north to switch roads. My next campground is on US 180, but after that I have to find away to avoid Dallas/Ft Worth. I need to eventually get further north, so I may head for US 82. I plan to stop in Odessa for propane & maybe the nearby Walmart to restock the freezer.

Monahans Sandhill State Park is what the name describes; a bunch of hills made of sand! The campground was full, so I'm in one of the picnic sites (#2) for $10.00 + $4.00 park entry fee for a dry campsite. Level enough that I don't have to unhook or even use the side to side levelers, but a good half mile walk to the bathrooms.

After setting up I walked over to the campground to see what it looked like. Most sites are pull through with water & electric. The bathroom is heated & has a couple of showers with standard showerheads and a combined dressing area for both showers. No seats, shelves or hangers. As you can see from the photos, a cloudy day. Only 51°F at 2:30, so I would have appreciated an electric site, but I do have the furnace. I don't expect to do much sitting outside.  Pictures at today's LakeshoreImages page.

There is acceptable AT&T signal & speed (-112dBm of 4G LTE) without an amplifier, and -114dBm of 4G LTE Verizon, again, without the amplifier or outside antenna.

Dinner will be a chicken pot pie.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Day 218, Sunday, March 10, 2019 - Oasis RV Park, Van Horn, TX

Site 18
Sunday, March 10, 2019 - Oasis RV Park, Van Horn, TX - 247.9 Miles, 9,130.3 Miles for the Trip

I left City of Rocks around 8:30 after resetting all the clocks, watches, even my cooking timer for the daylight savings time change. I got to do it all over again just outside Van Horn, TX where I crossed into Central Time, even the phones. I got tired of them switching between California & Arizona towers (and Pacific & Mountain time) while in Lake Havasu City, so I set the time zone manually. Hopefully, everything is now on the same clock, although I'll lose another hour of sleep.

A uneventful drive on I 10 to Van Horn Texas. I've stopped at the Oasis RV Park a couple of times on previous trips. Nothing special, but it is level, full hookups, which helps after a week of dry camping at City of Rocks, and relatively inexpensive at $27.00. I'm in site 18. They finally replaced the shower head in the men's shower! Two years ago it fell off when I tried to aim it, last year it was gone, but this year there is a new one. I almost want to take a shower just to use it.

As I did on previous years, rather than cook (although I do have a picnic table this time) I walked across I 10 Business to Chuy's Mexican Restaurant. I had their #1 combination, which was a good mix of Mexican dishes. A group of Class A travelers that are parked next to me at the Oasis were already at Chuy's. We chatted a bit about our travels while waiting for our meals.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Day 217, Saturday, March 9, 2019 - City of Rocks State Park, Deming, NM, Day 5

Saturday, March 9, 2019 - City of Rocks State Park, Deming, NM, Day 5 - 0 Miles,8,882.4 Miles for the Trip

It did get down to 30°F last night, but warmed quickly to 59°F in the bright sunshine. I would have liked it a bit warmer, but compared to yesterday, it was perfect!

I did some reading, hit the showers, then around 3:30 went to visit with some Escape folks with a 19 at another site in the campground. We chatted about traveling, trailers, etc until dinner time.

Dinner was an Eating Well Creamy Chicken Pesto with Kale & 9 grain orzo. I didn't like it s much as their Creamy Pesto Chicken with Brussels Sprouts, but it was OK.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 8, 2019

Day 216, Friday, March 8, 2019 - City of Rocks State Park, Deming, NM, Day 4

Not New Mexico - Leadville, CO
Friday, March 8, 2019 - City of Rocks State Park, Deming, NM, Day 4 - 0 Miles,8,882.4 Miles for the Trip

I'm glad I did my loop around the campground loop a little after 8:30 this morning. Only 5-6 MPH winds. By 11:00 they picked up. I can now prove that an Escape 21 can survive a day with average wind speed of 34 MPH, and peaks of 38 MPH. The trailer does a lot of rocking, and if it doesn't quit by 8:0PM as scheduled, I'll probably get seasick trying to sleep.

Needless to say, I didn't do much outside. Last night was another warmer than usual night at 44°F, and it made it up to 65°F this afternoon. The prediction is 30°F tonight!

Dick & Anne, friends that live in Golden & Leadville, Colorado sent me a couple of photos from outside their house in Leadville. Looks like it will be awhile before Spring!  One more photo at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Barber Stuffed Chicken Breast & applesauce.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Day 215, Thursday, March 7, 2019 - City of Rocks State Park, Deming, NM, Day 3

Star Circle
Thursday, March 7, 2019 - City of Rocks State Park, Deming, NM, Day 3 - 0 Miles,8,882.4 Miles for the Trip

A warm night, only going down to 48°. I went out a little after 9:00, and the clouds mostly cleared, so I tried for a star circle photo. It would have been better if I aimed the camera a bit lower, but there were still trailers with outside lights on, and they would have burned out the image. So, a bit crooked but here it is.

For those that want to try taking one, first find the North Star (use the front of the big dipper to find it). aim the camera at it, use your lowest ISO & around f: 3.5 or so &, with the shutter on bulb, expose for at least 1/2 hour.  This one was a 78.5 minute exposure.  The darker the skies, the longer you can do the exposure, and the longer the streaks. I think they are more effective if you can include some of the landscape below the sky in the image, but if there is much in the way of visible light, it may not work.  If it is pitch black, you may be able to use a flashlight to "paint" light on the landscape.  It takes a bit of practice to get the right amount, which is a bit of a pain since each exposure is hours long!  There is also the technique of taking a large number of short exposures and stacking them with Photoshop or Lightroom, but being an old film guy, I prefer long exposures.

It does take a very dark night.  It looked completely dark when I took this (other than the lights on trailers I mentioned) but you can see the afterglow of the sunset hours before the photo was taken.

Today was laundry day. I stripped the bed, filled up the laundry basket & headed to Deming. Somewhere along the line, I lost one of the pillow cases. Of course it wasn't an easily replaced white, but part of a red set. I took an extra look through both the washers & dryers, but no luck. I suspect if fell out of the laundry basket going into the truck at the campground, or going out of the truck at the laundromat. In both cases there were 28 - 30 MPH winds, so it would have quickly blown away. Well, I found it. It was behind the vertical cushion at the back of the trailer where I keep my laundry bag, so while it didn't get washed, at least I still have it.

While the clothes were in the dryer, I picked up my back up 200 amp fuse at NAPA, then folded the clothes & headed back to the campground.

The plan for dinner was to make a burger out of the left over turkey I used to make the tacos the other day, but the wind is still shaking the trailer so grilling outside probably is out. The average wind speed is down to 19 MPH, but there are still higher gusts. So, since the wind is still blowing, I made tacos inside.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Day 214, Wednesday, March 6, 2019 - City of Rocks State Park, Deming, NM, Day 2

Last Night's Sunset
Wednesday, March 6, 2019 - City of Rocks State Park, Deming, NM, Day 2 - 0 Miles,8,882.4 Miles for the Trip

Unlike yesterday, I got a very late start to the day. Went to bed with a headache, and got up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. Did some reading, took a couple of Tylenol, and eventually fell back to sleep. Didn't wake up until close to 9:00, but the headache was gone.

I did take a sunset photo last night. The sunsets here at the City of Rocks are often spectacular; last night's was just OK, but better than many over the last couple of weeks.

Back to today, I did quite a bit of reading, both on line & my latest book - Home Body by Gerry Boyle, a new author for me. As to on line, there is no AT&T service here at the campground (it is available in Deming), but Verizon has either 4G LTE or 3G service, depending on what mood it is in. In any case, the 3G is usually usable, although, as expected, the 4G is faster. I am using the outside antenna & the Wilson Sleek amplifier with either Verizon service. Only about 1-2 bars of 3G without it.

After my 3:00 eye drops, I headed to the showers. As usual, very soft water that took far longer to rinse than to wash, with the added excitement that the water stopped in the middle of rinsing. I stood there repeatedly pushing the button (predetermined water temperature & about 15 seconds per push) but for 5 minutes or so, nothing. I was about ready to give up, half rinsed, when I heard the pump come back on. Don't know if it was a power problem, water problem or what, but I did get to finish.

On the way back I traded some books at the book exchange (saw a few I left there in October) then went back to sitting in the trailer. While it is warm enough to sit outside (75°F around 3:00) it is very windy - 28 MPH on my wind gauge that is tucked behind a big rock. A bit too much wind, and lots of dust convinced me to do my reading in the trailer.

Since the batteries were fully charged, I made an early microwaved dinner - an InnovAsian Orange Chicken rice bowl. Not bad for a quick meal. although it used 6 amp hours just to cook it.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Day 213, Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - City of Rocks State Park, Deming, NM

Site 1, City of Rocks SP, NM
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - City of Rocks State Park, Deming, NM - 169.1 Miles,8,882.4 Miles for the Trip

I got an early start, leaving the campground at 8:00AM. I was hoping to get a first come site at Rockhound State Park in New Mexico, but when I pulled in there were already 3 RVs waiting for a spot, and only the possibility that site 14 would leave. They offered to let me camp along the entrance road for $8.00 per night with access to the facilities, but I decided to try for my favorite New Mexico campground, the City of Rocks, about 30 miles away. The only reason I didn't go there first was I stayed there on the way to Texas just a few months ago, and hadn't been to Rockhound in a couple of years.

I did stop to post the pages for the last two days. If you don't go back to them, I have to say that Sunny Flat campground is one of the prettiest of the trip. While they don't take reservations, if you go try to get one of the sites at the top of the loop at the end of the campground, particularly if you are using solar. I was down 45 amp hours by the time I left, only getting a couple of amps throughout the day because of the heavy shade at site 3 (although the babbling brook behind my site was nice).

Anyway, I pulled into City of Rocks, and my favorite site was available. I'm in site 1 until Sunday. Dry camping, with nearby restrooms with very soft water showers for $10.00 per night. The showers are a pain, but since I'd have to fill my tank with their soft water to use the shower in the trailer, I'll probably live with 2 minutes of washing & 7 minutes of rinsing!

After dropping of the trailer I headed to Deming 24 miles to the south to get a couple of 200 amp fuses from NAPA, along with the shorter bolt, then to Walmart for some supplies. NAPA only had one of the fuses, so they ordered another that I'll pick up when I go to town to do laundry.

Back at the trailer I finished setting up, finished Laurence Sanders' The Fourth Deadly Sin, then made dinner.

Dinner was turkey tacos.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 212, Monday, March 4, 2019 - Sunny Flat Campground, Coronado National Forest, AZ, Day 2

Along Paradise Road
Monday, March 4, 2019 - Sunny Flat Campground, Coronado National Forest, AZ, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 8,713.3 Miles for the Trip

A cold night, going down to 35°F by morning. I was down 24 amp hours by late morning, and with all the shade on the campsite, don't expect to make much of it up. I planned to use the stove to heat water for coffee, but since all I had was whole beans, needed to fire up the inverter to run the coffee grinder. No luck. The inverter was dead. I made breakfast, then dug in to find out what was wrong. Seems the 200 amp fuse did the same thing it did last time - broke mechanically, not because of over current. I think I know why it is happening. The output side of the fuse is connected with a 3/4" Stainless 5/16" bolt. I think it is hitting the battery cover on rough roads. The "dips" on the road out of Gilbert Ray might have floated the batteries a bit, bending the fuse. I replaced it, and ground my coffee. I'll look for a shorter bolt at the next hardware store.

After breakfast I took another walk around the campground. 3 empty sites, one that would give me more sun, but I'm too lazy to pack up & move.

There is a sign at the bathroom that says there is Verizon cell coverage at the ranger station & the town of Portal. I packed up the computer & headed out. No luck at the ranger station; their system was down. I did pick up a map of the forest service roads in the area. I drove to Portal, and while they had a good strong Verizon connection, no data. So, the pages will have to wait to be posted. I did try to call Ann e and wish her a happy birthday, but could only leave a message.

After that I drove to Onion Saddle, taking a few photos along the way. When I got back I drove to the "ghost town" of Paradise. While it is listed as a ghost town, it isn't. Some old houses, but many newer ones. They even have mail delivery along a 29 mile dirt road, although they are only about 6 miles from the post office at Portal. I also took some photos along the way.

Back at the trailer I did some reading, then made dinner.

Dinner was a Boston Market Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo dinner cooked in the oven.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 211, Sunday, March 3, 2019 - Sunny Flat Campground, Coronado National Forest, AZ

Stream Behind My Site
Sunday, March 3, 2019 - Sunny Flat Campground, Coronado National Forest, AZ, - 189.9 Miles, 8,713.3 Miles for the Trip

I got an early (for me) start out of Gilbert Ray, heading to the Sunny Flat Forest Service Campground in the Coronado National Forest. The campground was recommended to me by an Escape 17 owner I met at Gilbert Ray. Since it is a popular and small campground, I hoped to get there close to the exit times for the sites.

When I arrived, there were 3 sites available, 2 that were fairly shallow & sloped, and one that I fit fine, but heavily shaded. Shouldn't be a problem for 2 nights. So, I'm in site 3 for $5.00 per night with the senior discount. Dry camping with a vault toilet near the middle of the campground. Very pretty mountains surround the campground, and a small stream running behind my site. A very pleasant place to stay! The campground quickly filled just after I arrived, so my timing was OK.

I walked around the campground loop, taking a few afternoon photos under very harsh light.

Later, after the sun shifted behind the mountains, I made another round with much more pleasant lighting.  Both sets of photos are at today's LakeshoreImages Page.

There is no cell coverage here at the campground on either Verizon or AT&T, so it will be a couple of days before any of this gets posted. No FM radio other than one Mexican station, but even though I discontinued my trailer's portable XM subscription 3 days ago, it is still working. We will see for how long since it is the only reception I get from the outside world.

Dinner was a turkey sandwich & a salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Day 210, Saturday, March 2, 2019 - Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, AZ, Day 7

Saturday, March 2, 2019 - Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, AZ, Day 7 - 0 Miles, 8,523.4 Miles for the Trip

A warm, but cloudy and windy day. I did sit out for a bit, but even though it was up to 76°F, the wind, without sun, made it too cool to be comfortable, at least in a "T" shirt & shorts.

I took a long walk to the campground entrance to drop off a bag of recyclables (the only bin is at the entrance). Only problem? The bin was gone. It was still a nice walk.

The rest of the day was spent reading, both forums, blogs, and finishing my current book Gary Jennings' Aztec. I thought I'd already read it, but looking at my books read database, I read both sequels, but never the original.

I packed up my ground cloth, the hummingbird feeder (much to the disgust of the hummingbirds) and took down the weather station since I'm leaving in the morning.

Dinner was a chicken patty and the rest of the asparagus.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 1, 2019

Day 209, Friday, March 1, 2019 - Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, AZ, Day 6

Friday, March 1, 2019 - Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, AZ, Day 6 - 0 Miles, 8,523.4 Miles for the Trip

A beautiful day in Tucson! It made it to 78°F during the afternoon with some thin clouds. Last night I tried to take some star photos since the campground is very open, and there are few nearby lights. Few nearby, but lots over the horizon in just about every direction. I'm going to have to wait for a location a bit further from civilization. After breakfast I did some bills & updated my expenses database.

I did move the hummingbird feeder, and got a few useful images, the rest can be seen at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I drove into town to pick up my prescriptions. There is some kind of bicycle thing going on at the entrance to the campground. No left turn on McCain Loop road, and a gate across the campground entrance that they open to let you in & out. There was a Safeway next to the Walgreens, so I picked up some fruit, asparagus, and snacks.

Dinner was the last of the frozen Quartzsite New York Strip steaks. Again, the package of 4 was not as good as the individual steaks I first purchased, and this was the toughest of them. I also had some steamed asparagus.

Until Tomorrow -