Thursday, October 31, 2019

Day 11, Montgomery Bell State Park, White Bluff, TN, Day 2

Stream Along Side the Campsites
Well, no frost overnight, but it kept getting colder starting at midnight. Now, at 12:30PM, it is 38°F and still dropping.

When I checked my email this morning I found a $5.00 refund from Montgomery Bell - seems they overcharged my card. That brings the price down to $21.42 per night.

After breakfast I headed to a coin laundromat in Dickson to do the first load of laundry for the trip. I made an interesting discovery. As I tossed a Tide pod into the washer, I noticed that it wasn't a Tide pod, but instead a TST Drop In Max black tank treatment. The bags look the same, but luckily, the individual pods look & feel different. I wonder what would have been the result of doing a washer load with the tank treatment - probably not good. Maybe it would be a good idea to keep the two bags in different storage compartments (or look more carefully when throwing the bag into the laundry basket). I ended up buying a one load box of Tide from a machine at $1.25. Much cheaper to bring your own!

After putting the laundry away & making the bed, I did some reading. Most of the rain has stopped, although a light drizzle starts & stops.

While goofing off for the afternoon, I did an internet check. Verizon shows 2 bars of 4G LTE service, 46.9Mbps down & 1.6Mbps up. AT&T shows -97dBm, 38Mbps down & 31.8Mbps up. The park uses Tengonet WiFi which shows .8Mbps down & .3Mbps up. While I was able to check the speed, I couldn't connect to use my usual speed test, because, as usual, Tengonet has forgotten my password, however the Tengonet log on shows speed (or the lack of it).

Since the bathroom is well heated, I decided to try for a shower. The good? - heated bathroom, lots of hot water & a great high volume showerhead, and 2 hooks in the drying area. The bad? - the shower & drying room are combined with a shower curtain on the opening to the bathroom, not between the shower & drying area. A very small drying area with lots of water on the floor, no bench or shelves for your stuff, either in the shower or drying area. Another campground shower that was designed by someone who never used one.

I took a short walk around the campground to dump my trash & recyclables. Everything from large class A's to tents. There is a small one man tent that arrived in a compact car across from me that has three pit bulls tied to the picnic table. It is going to be a tight fit if he takes the dogs in at night (although he might appreciate the additional heat)!

There is a small stream along many of the sites, as well as a section with full hookups (that is near full). I did check out one of the other bathrooms while on my walk to the dumpsters, and it was much nicer, including fold down seats/benches in dryer rooms separated from the shower by a shower curtain. Interesting that the bathroom was in the full hook up area, the least likely to be used by campers...

Since it is expected to be well below freezing by morning, and the site is level, I hooked up the trailer & will disconnect the water after dinner. I'll save the electric connection until the morning since I'll be using the electric heater.

Dinner was chicken & rice soup & a salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Day 10, Montgomery Bell State Park, White Bluff, TN

Site 68

Lots of rain during the night & morning. I really appreciate my weather radar app. It showed a break in the rain arriving in 20 minutes, so I could plan a dry spell to pack up the trailer's outside stuff. Other than that short break, it rained all the way to Montgomery Bell Campground. I gained an hour, switching to central time.

I entered the park through the back entrance, and didn't drive by the office. There is a small campground office with a phone number to call to register. I'm in site 68, a water & electric site for $24.02 per night with a 25% in season senior discount. Lots of sites available, although many are small & sloped. The site I picked is a gravel back in that would be too tight for a trailer or motorhome with front slides, in fact a little tighter between trees than I like. It is close to the heated bathroom building that has showers. I'll report on them tomorrow.

After setting up, I headed to Krogers in Dickson for water & a few supplies, and topped off the truck at $2.09 per gallon, the least expensive gas so far. Of course I had just filled the tank a few miles back along I 40 at $2.17, so I could only add 7 gallons. By the way, the average using the truck's Tow/Haul setting over the last 1110.4 miles is 12.4 MPG. The truck gets close to 21 MPG highway without the trailer, so it does take a hit.

Back at the trailer, I put stuff away, then did some reading & started today's journal page. It looks like tonight will be another in-trailer dinner - it is still raining, so I probably won't dig out the grill. I have a bunch of frozen meals that either microwave or bake in the oven. I will dig out the electric heater - a frost warning & 47°F tonight, with a high tomorrow of 52°F and a low of 27°F! While I didn't need reservations for Montgomery Bell, I checked on the availability of sites at my next planned stop - Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi, and while there were a number of sites available for Friday & Saturday, quite a few less than when I checked yesterday, so I made reservations. Let's hope the description of a "slight slope" to site 10 is really slight!

Dinner was a Boston Market Sweet & Sour Chicken dinner.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Day 9, Melton Hill Dam TVA Campground, Lenoir City, TN, Day 2

I was planning to take a nice morning sun photo of the reservoir, but when I looked out the window I couldn't even see it. Lots of fog that didn't burn off until late morning. I spent most of the day reading - current book is Michael Connelly's Dark Sacred Night. I did take an afternoon break to trim my beard & hit the campground shower. Only one, and I can't give it any more than a C. The shower points at the drying area & floods the drying area floor (no shower curtain). Two small hooks, a very small seat, and a medium volume shower head. No place for your soap or shampoo, and barely warm enough water, no heat in the bathroom. On the plus side, both the shower room & drying area (really the same area) are large.

Back at the trailer I made dinner, a Lean Cuisine Chicken Ranch Club Flatbread Melt, which goes on my not-so-bad repeatable list.

After dinner I had a nice chat with Cathy, a fellow traveler who is heading in the same general direction.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, October 28, 2019

Day 8, Melton Hill Dam TVA Campground, Lenoir City, TN

Melton Hill Reservoir
Last night was a bit cooler than the last couple of nights, dropping into the low 40's by morning. Since I had hooked up the truck yesterday, all I needed to do this morning was unhook the water & electric & put away the Anderson leveler.

Lots of traffic along I81 & I40. I arrived at the Melton Hill Dam TVA campground around 1:10, checked in and, with a little help from my neighbor, backed into site 10. Site 10 is a water & electric site (both 50 & 30 amp) for $29.50 per night with the Senior Card. It is a level concrete pad directly across from the park office. There are three tiered sections (I'm in the middle tier) that overlook the Milton Hill Reservoir.

I spent the afternoon reading - current book is Janet Evanovich's Look Alive Twenty-Five, then took the photos of the reservoir as the sun set. The site photo and a large panorama (2.7MB) is at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a chicken breast, potatoes & Anasazi beans cooked in my Instant Pot. Twenty minutes works well on a frozen chicken breast & potatoes, but not quite enough time for the dried beans. I'm learning - the Instant Pot is new.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Day 7, Hungry Mother State Park Marion, VA - Day 4

No photo today.  For those that saw the barn photo at the head of yesterday's post, is changed this morning.  Much better lighting & a better composition, so I replaced it.

Lots or rain overnight, but by 10:00AM the sun was out. Partly cloudy & warm for the rest of the day. Many, many RVs, both fiberglass & stick built headed out this morning. There are 3 fiberglass trailers that stayed today. I have a new neighbor in a very large 5th wheel. I called & chatted with my son & Don & Anne, my usual Sunday phone calls. I also drove into Marion and the Ingles Market for a few supplies.

Back at the trailer I headed to the showers. There are two bathroom buildings. The old one is attached to the office, and at best, can be described as "rustic". The new building has 4 individual shower rooms; one handicapped. Good showerheads, a separate drying area that only gets a little wet from the shower, plenty of hot water, but no heat. Only one hook, but there is a bench. I guess I'd give it a B.

I did quire a bit of reading the rest of the afternoon sitting out in the sun.

Dinner was a microwaved frozen turkey dinner I made up with the leftovers from my Thanksgiving in July get together. I like cooking a big turkey dinner, and invite a bunch of friends & students (back when I was working) during Thanksgiving, but since I've been away keeping out of the snow for the last 5 Thanksgivings, I now do it in July. A bit hot baking a 20 pound turkey in July, and it really hard to find frozen creamed onions, but it worked.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Day 6, Hungry Mother State Park Marion, VA - Day 3

A Barn Next Door

A bit of rain overnight and very light rain this evening. We missed most of the storm that headed northwest of us, although it looks like we will get some of it later & tomorrow.

I made a trip or two around the campground. Some trees are in brilliant color, while others haven't started. A very fall look to the campground. I did some reading, tightened up the connections on Walt's battery so his inverter would run more than 2-3 seconds, but didn't do much else for the day.

A little before 5:00 we formed a train heading for the Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview, about 20 miles south on I81. A small, 5 item menu, but everything was excellent. I had Chicken Alfredo. Holly, my table mate had Pork Belly Rice Bowl. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page & the Hungry Mother Rally Page.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, October 25, 2019

Day 5, Hungry Mother State Park Marion, VA - Day 2

Back From the Bike Ride
A bit warmer overnight. At 8:30 I headed over to the campground office to see the bike riders off on their 19 mile ride. They are taking a van to the start; we've been told it is all downhill. Even so, I skipped it. My excuse was the van was filled by the time I thought about it! I did start a rally page & will add to it as the weekend progresses.

A couple of sites opened up closer to the center of things, but since I'm set up & have a couple of fiberglass neighbors, I don't feel as left out here at the far end of the campground. It isn't that large that walking around is a problem.

As to the campground, the showers are separate individual rooms, there is a laundry room with two washers & two dryers at $1.50 wash & dry), and for the first time in many yearly visits, the auxiliary office here at the campground is open. I'm really trying to avoid buying more teeshirts on this trip (I have 4 dresser drawers full of them at home), but I really liked one of the Hungry Mother shirts. Lucky for me they didn't have any in large!

Both Verizon & AT&T provide coverage here at the campground. AT&T shows -115dB signal strength, but is usable for posting photos, etc with 4.1Mbps down & .6Mbps up. Verizon shows 46.6Mbps down & 10Mbps up, but doesn't feel much faster than AT&T, except when uploading. The park has free WiFi that shows 3.3Mbps down & 3.1Mbps up.

I wandered the campground, talking with some of the bike riders, who enjoyed the ride. After that it was back to the trailer. When I was trying to show some photos of Letchworth State Park, I realized that I never made up a Letchworth page, only photos on the various trips through the park. I spend a bit of time putting together a page of collected images from 20 years of visits to my favorite NY State Park.

Dinner was a Lean Cuisine Sesame Chicken microwave meal. Not high on my favorites list!

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Day 4, Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA

Site 48
While it didn't get below freezing, it was down to 35°F at 6:30AM, and there was frost on the ground & truck windows. Nice and toasty in the trailer at 65°F with the electric heater running about 1/2 speed. I took my time with breakfast & coffee, hoping it would warm up before I had to pack up the water hose & electric cord. While it did warm up a bit, it was still cool when I headed out at 10:00.

Lots of truck traffic on I 81. I should have hopped off onto US 11, but didn't. I did have one idiot that insisted he had the right of way at an on ramp, but other than that a fairly uneventful drive.

When I stopped at the Hungry Mother Office, they had one open non specific site, so I'm in site 48, all the way at the end of the campground. I do have a Casita neighbor, but most of the fiberglass trailers are towards the center of the campground near the bathrooms. A water & electric site for $43.47 per night, including as $5.00 reservation fee. The campground is full with about 1/2 the sites taken by non fiberglass trailers. There are about 20 fiberglass trailers, mostly Casitas, a couple of Olivers, Scamps, and Escapes.

I set up the trailer, then headed to Walgreens for my prescriptions, and Walmart for a Waterpik. Yes, I forgot mine. I suspect is it sitting on the living room coffee table since I had it checked off as packed, and that is where I was gathering stuff. So, now I own 3 of them! This one is never leaving the trailer.

Back at the campground, I wandered around meeting people, taking a few photos, then heading back to the trailer to cook dinner. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Turkey Bubba Burger, chips, and a glass of Silk & Spice wine.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Day 3, Natural Chimneys County Park, Mt. Solon, VA

Natural Chimneys
A beautiful sunny & warm day - almost 72°F by mid afternoon. I pulled into Natural Chimneys County Park around 1:20, and settled into Site B1, a water & electric site. Not sure what the cost is - the Campground Host will be around later to collect. The campground is usually empty this time of year, but I arrived during the week they have a Halloween party on Friday, and many sites are occupied. The sites are on grass, with the only definition of which is which is the power & water posts. Some set up East/West, others North & South. Some sites have trees, mine is open. The local weather is predicting a freeze overnight, so although it is warm now, I'll still plug in the electric heater.

The campground host stopped by - $28.44, including an extra $4.00 because I'm on a 50 amp site. Since the power pedestal has a shared 30 & a 50 amp receptacle, I don't know how you are suppose to tell the difference. In any case, I guess I'm lucky to get the site - it is reserved for tomorrow. A lot has changed since the last time I was here 3 years ago - they didn't do reservations & now they do. I've never seen anyone at the office, so I don't know how you are suppose to determine if a site is available or not, but I'm OK for the night.

I talked with my neighbor for a bit, then sat out in the sun & read. Around 4:45 I headed to the formations that park is named for. Took a few photos, then headed back to the trailer to start dinner. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a couple of Barber Foods Chicken Broccoli & Cheese frozen dinners & Tabatchnick Creamed Spinach.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Day 2, Jonestown KOA, Jonestown, PA

Site 59, Jonestown, PA KOA

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - Jonestown KOA, Jonestown, PA - 162.6 Miles, 286 Miles for the Trip

So far, so good on not catching Don's cold. A very foggy drive down I 81 to Jonestown. The traffic was down to 50 MPH in the foggiest areas. I still arrived early (12:10) at the Jonestown KOA, in fact, early enough that they added $4.00 ($2.00 per hour) for an early arrival. Total for a full hookup site was $51.70 with my KOA member discount. If it wasn't such an easy stop at the right distance from home or Don & Anne's, I'd probably go somewhere else. I don't need the sewer connection since I'm starting out with empty tanks, and like all KOA's more expensive than most. It is also one of the few campgrounds in the northern part of I 81 that is open year around. In any case, I am here.

There was light rain falling off & on during the afternoon, but now it is steady. Between the early bursts, I headed for the shower. I'll continue my "Shower Ratings" on this trip - at least a B+ like most KOA's. 4 hooks, a dry drying room with dry deck on the floor & a bench, and a reasonable shower head. On the minus side, the showers are small & the water temperature adjustment is difficult to adjust to a comfortable temperature.

After the shower I spent the rest of the afternoon reading. Current book is Anne Tyler's Clock Dance. From the looks of my weather radar app, it is likely to rain for the rest of the day (and maybe night!) I'm glad I got here when I did even if it cost me $4.00 in early arrival fees. I watched the guy next to me set up in a downpour. Didn't look like fun. I've only had to do that once or twice in the 9 years I've had a trailer. We did it a couple of times in tents way back when (before we developed the good sense to head for a motel when it was raining).

Dinner was 1/4 of a broasted chicken with macaroni salad & French fries delivered to my site. Much easier to order from the KOA Store than grilling in the rain!

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, October 21, 2019

Day 1, Don & Anne's, Binghamton, NY

The CAT Scale
Monday, October 21, 2019 - Binghamton, NY - 123.4 Miles, 123.4 Miles for the Trip

A slow start, and on the road at 10:15. I made a stop at the CAT scale on the corner of NY 104 & I 81 to weigh the trailer. Using their scales, the trailer came in at 4860 pounds, ands a tongue weight of 540 pounds. I'm not sure where the 69 pound difference from yesterday's weighing on my home scale & the CAT calculation came from - I didn't think I added that much stuff this morning, but that is what it came in at.

I took a photo looking down my driveway at the sugar maples along the road - still lots of leaves on them, but some nice color. As usual, more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I stopped for the night at Don & Anne's in Binghamton. Probably my last time in a real bedroom until April.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Day 0, Getting Ready to Leave

Rice Creek at County Route 89
Sunday, October 20, 2019 - Oswego, NY - 0 Miles, 0 Miles for the Trip

The starting page for this trip covers the 2 weeks before I leave on Monday, October 21st.

Another year, another trip to the southwest. For the first time in 3 years, I'm starting in October, rather than August. Here is a link to the starting page at my website - LakeshoreImages.

In 2017 I left in August to pick up my new Escape 21 trailer. A great 270 day trip covering the central & eastern parts of the west coast states, Quartzsite, AZ for the winter, A week of fireworks in Lake Havasu City, AZ, then back to Townsend, TN for an April fiberglass trailer rally.

Last year I left in August to attend the Boler 50th Reunion with friends in a Scamp. After the reunion we continued west, touring Colorado, New Mexico, Utah & Arizona, and the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. After the fiesta Guido & Anne headed back east, and I made my way to the Matagorda Madness Rally in Texas, and on to Big Bend National Park. After that it was off to Quartzsite again for the winter, another visit to the SARA Rodeo Grounds for fireworks, and back across the south to the Townsend Rally, a visit with my daughter's family in the DC area, and home. Only 265 days!

So, it is now time to start packing for another trip. I did some major modifications to the trailer's electrical system by exchanging the stock lead acid batteries for a pair of lithium batteries. I hope this will provide a bit more comfort when dry camping.

I printed out a 4 page copy of my packing list - I guess I'm getting old enough that I deal with a list rather than discover 1000 miles away that I left something important home. Actually, the list helps since stuff is listed by location, and I take the checked off copy with me so I can find where I put rarely used items. Even with the list, I usually have to buy some forgotten or lost item along the road, but it sure helps.

I am enjoying a bit of Fall this time. We do have some beautiful color changes most years, although this year is a bit duller than normal. I stopped at Fallbrook & Rice Creek for a photo, and while the small falls behind the Fallbrook barn is pretty, no color in the trees.

With a relatively clear western horizon over Lake Ontario, Oswego has some beautiful sunsets. Just an average one tonight (10/9).

Fall is just starting here along the lake. It is always a bit later than at the higher altitude, cooler Adirondacks, and usually doesn't have as dramatic color, but here is a couple of images (Yes, we do have an algae problem!)

The truck & trailer are about 3/4 packed; most of the remaining packing is stuff that has to be at the last minute - food, meds, etc. It is definitely cooling off. Today's high is around 52°F, and it has been in the 40's at night. Almost feels like January in Quartzsite!

Sunday, October 20th:

Just a few things left to pack. I weighed the trailer tongue using my 0 - 500 pound bathroom scale & it is currently 471 pounds. I'll add a few more pounds in the morning, and plan to stop at a CAT Scale on the way to Binghamton & the Guidos. Speaking of the Guidos, the original plan was for them to accompany me as far as Hungry Mother State Park in VA for a fiberglass trailer rally, however Anne's sister passed away after a long illness, and they won't be able to attend the rally.

The truck has 21,709.4 miles on the clock as of this afternoon. On the way to filling it up, I stopped at Snake Swamp (just down the road from my house) for a couple of photos. Some color, but not as bright as some years. Note the 5' pole on the side of the road. I see lots of these out west, but here in the east they are only in the snowbelt areas. It would be a bad thing if the snowplow tried to plow the swamp!  Again, most of these photos are on Day 0 at LakeshoreImages.

Until Tomorrow -