Saturday, November 30, 2019

Day 41, Picacho Peak State Park, AZ

Site B24

While it rained off & on overnight, by morning there were clear blue skies. I hung around the campground until 10:30 since I only had to drive 55 miles or so. I'm in site B24, an electric only (as are all the sites at Picacho Peak) for two nights at $32.50 per night ($30.00 for the site & a $5.00 reservation fee. I appears to be a handicap site, although that wasn't indicated on the on line reservation form. The campground office doesn't seem to have a problem, although I feel a bit guilty using it.

After setting up I took a shower, then headed 14 miles west on I10 to Eloy to do laundry. Two loads at $4.50 per load for a double sized front loader, and $2.00 each for two dryers at he Family Maytag Laundromat. Clean, but the bathroom was sealed closed.

Back at the trailer I did a bit of reading, then paid some bills. That was about it for the day.

Dinner was a Chicken Pot Pie Hot Pocket.

Until Next Time -

Friday, November 29, 2019

Day 40, Gilbert Ray County Park, Tucson, AZ, Day 5

It is Raining!

A good day to sit inside the trailer. It rained much of the night & early morning hours, and at 11:00AM is still drizzling. We did have some nice color to last night's sunset. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I spent the morning, like most mornings, reading. I skipped a walk around the campground for the first time on the trip; I don't like walking in a cold rain. It is 46°F outside. Warm & toasty in the trailer with the cube heater blasting away.

I'm cutting it close on the fresh water tank. While the readout shows empty, looking at the tank shows about an inch of water in the bottom. I hope that is enough to get me through until tomorrow morning when I head to the dump & water fill stations, then on to Picacho Peak State Park. Picacho Peak has a notice on their web page that they are experiencing a water shortage & no filling of water tanks allowed. I'll put in at least 1/2 a tank when I leave Gilbert Ray.

Around 2:00PM it cleared up enough for a walk. Still cool at 50°F, but the sky is clearing, at least on the horizon to the west. Still lots of cloud cover. The folks in the other Escape 21 left around 1:00. My guess is the campground is about 1/4 full. Much better than trying to visit in February. They required check ins and waiting until a site emptied before you are allowed to drive past the registration building. I talked with one of the hosts and they confirmed that at least part of the campground will be moving to reservations starting in January.

Dinner was a microwaved Innovasian General Tso's Chicken Dinner.

Until Next Time -

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Day 39, Gilbert Ray County Park, Tucson, AZ, Day 4

Happy Thanksgiving!

So far, not much of a storm. A bit of rain overnight & in the morning, heavy clouds with little sun. While it hit 70°F during the afternoon, with the wind it didn't feel like it. I did a couple of walks around the campground, read some blogs, forums & journals, and finished Joe Hill's Full Throttle. Again, I don't often read short stories, but some of them were quite interesting. I started Bloody Genius, a Virgil Flowers novel by John Sandford, another library book on the Kindle.

I talked with my brother on Nantucket Island, my son in Oswego, and tried to reach Don & Anne, but no luck, at least with FaceTime. I'll try a straight phone call after dinner.

After my afternoon eye drops I started my Thanksgiving dinner. It is the last of my frozen "Thanksgiving in July" leftover turkey dinners. Kind of difficult to cook a full sized turkey in the trailer oven, although Safeway did have turkey thighs, my favorite part of a turkey. In any case, it will be turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, creamed onions, squash & cranberry sauce. Not as good as fresh, but OK. I could have waited until the usual evening meal time, but the tradition at the Vermilye's has always been an afternoon Thanksgiving dinner, so that is what I did.

I'll snack later.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Day 38, Gilbert Ray County Park, Tucson, AZ, Day 3

Gilbert Ray Cactus
A bit cooler than last night - I ran the electric heater turned down low to keep the trailer at around 62°F with an outside morning temperature of 48°F. I didn't do much (just like the last couple of days) other than sit around reading both the computer for forums & journals, and my Kindle. I took a couple of walks around the campground. While there are still RVs & tenters arriving, it doesn't appear that there are a huge number people staying for Thanksgiving. Lots of empty sites.

I hauled my D800 with a macro lens on one of the walks to photograph some of the cactus in the park. It is hard to believe that they grew naturally this varied in types & as close together, but they are beautiful. I won't try naming them, but here are some examples, all of which are growing within 50' of my trailer.  Check today's LakeshoreImages page for more.

As you can see, it is a heavily overcast day, with a high of 67°F. My weather app says we are going to get rain for the next two days with a flash flood watch. I tried sitting outside to read, but unless doing some activity such as walking, etc, it is a little cool for just sitting, particularly when the wind kicks up. I pulled & folder up my large 9' X 12' ground cloth and replaced it with a small 3' square rug.

Dinner was left over pizza & a fruit cup.

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Day 37, Gilbert Ray County Park, Tucson, AZ, Day 2

A fairly warm night. I didn't plug in the electric heater, and the furnace came on for the first time around 6:30AM. 48°F for the lowest overnight temperature. It was partially cloudy and took a bit to warm up; a high for the day of 70°F, although that was under the propane cover in the sun.

I took a long walk around the campground before breakfast, then read some forums & journals. I have to admit I'm hooked on having the internet available. While I enjoy reading, when I'm in a place like Sunny Flats, where there is no internet or live radio other than XM Radio I feel like I'm missing out. I don't know why, but all of XM Radio feels "canned", maybe because they don't include Morning Edition or All Things Considered, two of my contacts with the outside world. In any case, I now have live radio & full internet availability.

I finished Christopher Stasheff's The Outbound Wizard, and have to say Anne McCaffrey & George A. A. Martin have nothing to worry about. I probably won't pick up any more of his books. I started Joe Hill's (Stephen King's son) Full Throttle, a collection of short stories. While I generally avoid short stories (I'm not sure why), this was a library book on the Kindle, so I'm giving it a try.

I met a couple from New York City that are traveling full time in a Class B van during one of my walks around the campground, and later, during the afternoon, another couple traveling in an Escape 21.  We chatted about the trailers for a bit. I noticed some hummingbirds while chatting with the NY couple, and set up my feeder when I got back to the trailer. It took about 5 minutes for one to find the feeder.

That was about it for the day.

Dinner was a couple of chicken tacos & steamed potatoes, made from a Instant Pot cooked chicken breast.

Until Next Time -

Monday, November 25, 2019

Day 36, Gilbert Ray County Park, Tucson, AZ

Site A56
Well, never suggest that I should predict the weather. Yes, it was a clear sky last night, and usually that makes for a cooler night, but it only went down to 38°F by morning. I packed up the trailer & was on the road by 8:30. One stop for gas, hitting Gilbert Ray around 12:15. I worried ( I do that a lot) that the campground would be full & I'd have to find a commercial campground in Tucson (not a difficult thing to do), but there were more empty sites than occupied. I drove around the A loop & settled on A56, an electric only (as are all the other sites other than tent sites, which are dry) for $20.00 per night. I'll be here through Thanksgiving, with a reservation for Picacho Peak State Park on the 30th.

A pretty site like most of them in the park. Closer to your neighbors than in some of the state parks, but not too bad. A bathroom (no showers) is a short walk from the site.

After setting up I headed to the local Safeway about 9 miles away. I drove over Gates Pass to get there - a narrow, steep section that isn't too bad - I towed the 21 through it last year. I bought far too many goodies, and filled the freezer as well as the refrigerator.

After putting the stuff away I had my first shower of the trip in the trailer. A "Navy" shower to conserve water. They do have water stations around the campground, but I'd have to hook up the truck to haul the trailer to a spigot.

After that it was a bit of reading outside in the 77°F sun. As soon as the sun ducked behind the skyline, the light breeze cooled things down enough that I went in to put on a flannel shirt.

Dinner was a Signature Select (Safeway brand) Garlic Chicken Alfredo Pizza.

Until Next Time -

Day 35, Sunny Flats Forest Service Campground, Portal, AZ, Day 4

The Milky Way & Trailer
A bit warmer overnight at 32°F, but it took awhile to warm up due to morning cloud cover. By 1:00, clear blue skies & 70°F, at least under my sun drenched propane cover - I really need to find a better permanent location for the outside temperature sender. Don sets his up in the shade each stop. If I tried that I'd leave it behind within a week!. With the clear sky, I suspect it will be a cold night.

I took a few night photos with my latest lens, a Nikkor 6 - 15mm zoom fisheye. An unusual lens. At 6mm, it is a true full frame 180° fisheye. As you zoom it towards 15mm, it becomes a wide angle lens. I wanted it to be able to take full sky photos, as well as to have a fisheye. More distortion than a standard wide angle lens, but a useful addition to my collection. There were at least two campsites with campfires, so you can see them in the images.

During the afternoon, I wandered around the campground taking some photos with the lens at different focal lengths. All of the above images were taken with the fisheye.  See the additional images at today's LakeshoreImages page.

The campground emptied out to just me & my neighbor by 12:00. One Class A arrived during the afternoon. Unfortunately, the Class A is parked in a site that directly faces the direction in which I want to take photos. If he keeps his lights off, it may work, but I was hoping for empty sites.

I spent the afternoon reading, Finishing John Grisham's The Brethren, and starting Christopher Stasheff's The Outbound Wizard, a SiFi by an author I haven't read.

A few tent campers came in during the day, along with a couple in a clamshell trailer.

Dinner was a Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu & snap peas.

I went out after dinner for a few more star photos. Much clearer. The first image is shooting straight up with the fisheye at 6mm & 180°; the rest are at longer focal lengths.

Until Later -

Just a quick update - I arrived at Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson, and posted the last couple of day's journals. I'll post today's a little later.

Until Next Time -

Day 34, Sunny Flats Forest Service Campground, Portal, AZ, Day 3

Cave Creek Road at 7500'
An even colder night, 29°F at 6:30AM. While the sun warmed things up, since Sunny Flats is in a valley surrounded by steep mountains, the amount of direct sunlight is limited. The sun doesn't directly hit my solar panels until around 10:00AM. Still, enough to fill the batteries from last night's 37 amp hour decline to full by 1:30. I love the charge rate of lithium batteries!

Around noon I got bored sitting around & drove to Rustler's Park. Quite a drive on a one lane dirt road (although one that was in very good shape - passenger vehicles had no problems with it). I did hit snow at 7500'. It wasn't deep where I stopped for the photo, but in the shade it was 4"-6" deep. I did manage to cover the newly washed truck with lots of very sticky mud.  More photos along Cave Creek Road at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After I returned to the campground, I sat outside in the 59°F sun and read. I finished Martin L. Shoemaker's The Last Dance, a readable SiFi; much better than most of the "junk" I've downloaded for free from Kindle & Amazon.

I decided to make lunch dinner, and grilled a chicken thigh. I really like the new Weber Q1000 grill. While it would have been nice to spend the $40.00 more or so for the Q2000 which has tables & a thermometer, I didn't want the tables, and have been able to do without the thermometer.

So, lunch was a chicken thigh & snap peas. I would have added the last of the salad, but unfortunately, it was too wilted to be consumable.

Dinner will be cheese & crackers.

Until Next Time - 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Day 33, Sunny Flats Forest Service Campground, Portal, AZ, Day 2

The Stream Next to the Campground
A cool night at 39°F, although warmer than the predictions for Deming at 29°F. We are at 5200', so I expected cool nights. In fact, as I w3andered the campground, I took a photo of a nearby mountain not that much higher than here that is covered with snow.

The furnace worked like a champ. I set it a t 63°F while I was awake, and down to 61°F when I went to bed. Lots of fog in the valley during the morning, but lots of sun. I was down to 80% on the batteries after breakfast, with a prediction by the Victron Controller that I'd be back to full by around 3:00, assuming that the fog doesn't get heavier.

I took a couple of walks around the campground, met a few of the others staying here, most for only one night. Took a few more photos, then headed back to the trailer for some reading.

After lunch I made another loop around the campground. Found an interesting image and to avoid a overhead branch, took one step off the road, into a lightly covered pile of dog poop. Spent the next hour scraping, scrubbing, washing, and brushing the soles of my shoes - incidentally, the soles with the most complex pattern of any I own. At least it had warmed up enough (67°F) that sitting outside was comfortable. After cleaning up my shoes, I sat out & read for most of the afternoon. The batteries were back to full by 1:00.

I drove about 10 miles out of the campground until I found an AT&T signal & posted today & yesterday's pages.  Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Lean Pockets Chicken & Broccoli sandwich.

Until Next Time -

Day 32, Sunny Flats Forest Service Campground, Portal, AZ

Site 13

I packed up and left Sunset RV Park around 9:00, stopping at Walmart for some supplies, and filled the gas tank wit 85 octane gas. That may be responsible for the poor mileage on the drive, although gaining 1000' could also have something to do with it. In any case, about 10.8 MPG for the trip.

It rained all of the drive, from just a drizzle to heavy pour-downs. I used my iPhone to take a hurried photo of a rainbow as I was leaving Deming. The rain mostly stopped as I reached Portal, the nearest "town" to the campground - it consists of one store/restaurant. It is 43°F at 12:00 & the furnace is working fine. Sure hope it warms up. I'm in site 13, with a clear view of the sky, which should help the solar if the sun comes out. a dry site for $5.00 per night with the senior pass discount. As you can see from the photos, a very pretty campground. We had our own campground rainbow. Not as impressive as the one outside Deming, but a much nicer location. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to keep warm, sitting in the trailer. While the heavy rain has stopped, there is lots of mist & it is too cold to sit around outside. Actually, at times the mist changes to steady rain. A good day to sit inside.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Day 31, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM, Day 5

Rain off & on all night, but sun with clouds in the morning. I made my usual 8:00 call to Jim's RV, and he is still booked up for the rest of the week. We discussed the actions of the furnace, and pretty much agree that the problem is the control board. I was hoping just cleaning the sail switch would fix it, but the fact that the gas is lighting and running for a short time pretty much rules out a sail switch problem. I asked if he would have a better chance of working on the furnace if I pulled it and brought it in. He thought that was a great idea, so I had a morning project.

Escape provides a series of videos that include pulling a furnace, replacing the sail switch & circuit board, etc. The newer 21's have an outside furnace access door that makes repairs easy. Unfortunately, my 2017 requires pulling the furnace from the inside to get to the guts. In the video, Reace mentions that is some installations the back of the furnace catches on the edge of the plywood floor, making it impossible to remove the furnace without removing the outside exhaust. Another unfortunate - mine is one of the installations with the problem. I followed the instructions for removing the outside hardware, but is is a bear. Getting the exhaust pipe out of the furnace was "interesting".

In any case, it is out, and at Jim's, so I'm an "all electric" trailer for at least the next couple of days. I'm hoping he can get a Dinosaur board rather than the Dometic if the board is the problem since, although more expensive, it is more reliable.

Back at the trailer, I finished breakfast, changed the sheets & packed up the laundry.

The laundry is done, and so is the furnace. They called Dometic to find the availability of a replacement board, as well as checking with Dinosaur, but as they unbolted the board from the furnace, a 1 1/2" screw fell out from behind the board. How is didn't short the board & do damage is amazing, but after it was removed & the board put back in place, the furnace worked fine. Jim's only charged me 1/2 an hour labor ($52.50) for more than an hour on the phone with me, the suppliers, and the work on the furnace. While they are a busy RV repair shop, I recommend them if you are in the Deming area.

I didn't have any problems reinstalling the furnace, and it appears to be working fine. I'll run it tonight rather than the electric heater to be sure.

I checked with the owner of Sunset RV Park, letting him know I was leaving tomorrow, and rather than the 5 days I was here, he only charged for 4. That lowers the cost of the site to $14.40.

Dinner was a Lean Cuisine Orange Chicken Dinner.

Tomorrow the plan is to head to Sunny Flats, a Forest Service campground in the Coronado National Forest.  It is on the edge of a flood watch on Thursday, and the campground is evacuated it the prediction is for more than 1 1/2" of rain.  So, I may or may not get there.  In any case, if I do, there is no internet at the campground, so you may not hear from me for a couple of days.

Until Next Time -

Day 30, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM, Day 4

Another day without a fixed furnace. I didn't do much other than the usual reading, and some shopping. Rain started around dinner time & has been going off & on the rest of the day.

Dinner was an Amy's Burrito & a salad.

Until Next Time -

Monday, November 18, 2019

Day 29, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM, Day 3

Well I was hoping to announce that the furnace is fixed, but the trailer didn't even make it to Jim's RV Repair. They are short one worker, and today they were fully booked. Hopefully, it can go in tomorrow.

I did get the truck washed, at least managed remove one layer of dirt at a self wash carwash. The detailing car wash didn't work out. One was closed, and the other backed up all day.

A nice warm day with few clouds. I got out my hooded chair and sat out reading, eventually moving to the shade of the trailer.

Dinner was an Amy's Mushroom Risotto.

Until Next Time -

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Day 28, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM, Day 2

A quiet Sunday. I spent the morning & much of the afternoon reading, current book The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coats. A very good, well written read. I checked on car washes for the truck, but both of the ones the Google found were closed Sundays. I did talk with my son in Oswego - the snow blower works (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), and with Don & Anne in Binghamton where they are in the middle of a home project & snow blower repair. Maybe just not having a working furnace isn't so bad!

I headed for the showers a little after 3:00. I was hoping the room would warm up, but being concrete block construction, it held last night's 38°F well into the day. Showers rate between a B+ & an A-. They are a bit dark, and as mentioned, cool, but do have shower curtains, hooks, a bench that is shared between 3 showers, and a small drying area that is between the showers. Plenty of hot water and a basket for your stuff inside the shower.

I used the Instant Pot to pressure cook a couple of chicken thighs, & potatoes, and steamed broccoli on my butane stove (separately since the 22 minute pressure cooking time would destroy broccoli). I left out the beans this time since I had plenty of them with the Chili Relleno the other night.

Until Next Time -

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Day 27, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM

Site 44, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM
While I loved the chili relleno at Chuy's, they did require a midnight gulp of Mylanta. Still worth it!

On the way to Deming, I stopped at a Camping World just north of El Paso. I checked with their service center & they didn't have anyone on for Saturday, and no open slots on Monday. Since I've had some pretty bad luck with repairs at Camping World, maybe that was good. In any case, they did have a Weber Q1000 grill which I bought. The rest of the drive west on I 10 was boring, but with the extra hour gained by moving into Mountain Time, a quick tri[p to Deming. I'd like to stay at my favorite New Mexico campground, but there were no open electric sites at City of Rocks, and without the furnace & being at 4500', it will be cold, at least at night. Right now it is in the low 70's, but once the sun goes down it cools quickly.

I stopped at the Sunset RV Park in Deming. I'm in site 44, a full hook up site for $19.00 per night. The owner sent me to the site & since I don't know how long I'll be here, just said go, and we will settle when I leave.

Jim's RV Service & Garage will open on Monday, and I'll check to see if they can service the furnace. I got good recommendations for them, both on line & from the campground owner.

After setting up I unpacked the grill and ran it to burn off any manufacturing oil, etc. I took the box & my old grill to the dumpster, and an hour later met the new owner of the old grill. I warned him about the things I didn't like about it, but he liked the price!

I made a quick trip to Walmart for some vegetables, including an ear of corn for dinner.

Dinner was a grilled Quorn vegetable chicken patty, and corn on the cob.

Until Next Time -

Friday, November 15, 2019

Day 26, Oasis RV Park, Van Horn, TX

View Along the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail
Well, as you can see, I'm no longer in Big Bend. The furnace has died. It will still sometimes run for part of a cycle, but always times out well before reaching the temperature set at the thermostat. I believe that the sail switch has either failed, or there is lint caught in it. While this may not be the problem, pulling the furnace in a 2017 Escape 21 requires shutting down the propane since the furnace feed must be disconnected to get to the guts of the furnace. I definitely don't want to do this without hookups since it would also shut down the refrigerator.

So, reluctantly, I packed up the trailer and headed out. I hope to find either a mobile RV repair of a shop willing to take a drop in repair (usually difficult to find). Worst case, I'll pick a campground with full hookups & plan for a couple of days, long enough to pull the furnace. I'd prefer a repair person since it may require parts. All I could do myself is clean a dirty sail switch.

I'm at the Oasis RV Park in Van Horn, TX. It is on I 10 business, a level full hookup site for $27.00 with tax & Good Sam discount and lots of traffic & train noise. I wanted at least electric hook ups so I can run the electric heater since the prediction is for an overnight temperature of 34°F. It was down to 54°F when I got up this morning, and while I've done far worst when tent camping, I have eye drops that shouldn't get much below that temperature. The campground owner does RV repairs, but while he agrees that it is probably the sail switch, he doesn't have the replacement and is reluctant to pull the furnace without one. Ordering one would be a 4 - 5 day wait. There is an RV repair place just past El Paso that I may try, although Saturday might be a problem. In any case, I'm stuck with campgrounds that have at least electric hookups until the furnace is fixed.

I did take a walk on the Nature Trail next to the campground during the late afternoon. On the way out of the park on Rio Grande Village Drive I stopped to take a photo of the moon over a mountain.
That, more photos on the nature trail, and today's site photo at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I've stayed at the Oasis RV Park a number of times, and usually eat at Chuy's Mexican restaurant across the street, and will do that tonight.

Dinner was Chili Relleno with red sauce on the side. Excellent!

Until Next Time -

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Day 25, Rio Grande Campground, Big Bend NP, TX, Day 2

Not as cold as previous nights - it hit 47°F at 7:00AM. The furnace came on (set at 61°F) for the first time at 6:30. It is sounding a bit strange - it appears to be restarting 2 or 3 times during the normal run. I hope there is nothing wrong since there isn't much (call that none) in the way of RV repair here at Big Bend.

At breakfast I was down to 92% on the batteries, and 90% after toasting a muffin & making a pot of coffee. I spent the morning reading - current book is Pines by Blake Crouch, an interesting trilogy about the end of mankind. Around 12:30 the batteries were back at 100% & I finished Pines, and started the second - Wayward.

I went for a walk around the campground. Many of the sites are empty. It is still cool at 61°F, but after a cloudy morning, mostly sunny. I sat outside in the sun & read for much of the afternoon. Since the batteries were full & it was sunny, I decided to make lunch dinner, and just have a salad tonight. I fired up the microwave & cooked a Lean Cuisine Chicken Club Panini for a late lunch.  It is interesting to watch the battery monitor show 125 amps going into the microwave.  Only for 3 minutes, but that ate 6 amp hours.  The batteries were back to full in another hour.

I checked the propane & one tank was empty.  I took it to the campground store & had it filled for $21.50 when I headed over to post this page.  I was lucky - the only licensed propane filler was already at the store.  They have a sign that propane is by appointment only.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Day 24, Rio Grande Campground, Big Bend NP, TX

Mountain & Clouds
A very quiet drive down US 385 to Big Bend. The clouds surrounding one of the mountains on the way into the park were interesting so I stopped for a photo.

There were 19 open sites at the Rio Grande Campground. I picked 72, an open site across from the bathroom. A dry pull through for $7.00 per night using the Senior Pass. A fairly level site that only required lowering the hitch. The only problem is the picnic table is a long way from the trailer. It is a first come site, so I won't be chased out on the 15th when reservations start. Many of the reservable sites have "Reserved" cards on them.

After setting up I read for the afternoon. I tried setting up the NanoStation to pick up the campground store WiFi, but no luck from inside the trailer at the site. I'll try later using the outside pole.  No luck outside either.  I picked up lots of personal sites here at the campground, but it looks like the campground store is too far away.

I tried reading outside, but while it was OK when the sun was shining, most of the time it was buried in the clouds, and felt cold a 61°F. I gave up and moved inside.

Posts may be intermittent over the next week since I have to drive to the campground store to post.  I'll keep doing a daily journal, but it may be a couple of days between posting.

Dinner was a Bubba Burger, salad & applesauce.

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Day 23, Fort Stockton RV Park, Fort Stockton, TX, Day 2

While it didn't get to the predicted low of 24°F last night, 28°F is still pretty cold. The electric heater kept the trailer at 65°F, but ran at full blast most of the night. No frozen waterlines.

A quiet day. I ate breakfast at the Roadrunner Restaurant here at the campground. I ordered over easy eggs, and got the runniest eggs I've ever had. Next time I'll ask for over medium!

After breakfast I read some on line forums. The AT&T speed is 25.4 Mbps down and 1.1Mbps up. There is a usable Verizon signal but I didn't check the speed since Verizon informed me that I'm within 10% of my 15GB limit on my unlimited service (in less than a week). When I hit 15GB, they slow me down to 600K for the rest of the month. I can always get another 15GB on both my iPad & phone using them as hotspots, but as long as AT&T has service, I use them.

I did laundry at the campground - $1.50 to wash & $2.00 to dry. After that I read - current book is a real book - Imperium by Robert Harris.

I also planned the next month of my trip. I decided to go to the Scamp Camp Southwest at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ December 5-9, and figured it made sense to plan how I'd spend the nights between Big Bend & the rally. I booked reservations at some of the AZ state parks, and will try for a couple of first come locations. The only one I'm a bit concerned about is getting into Gilbert Ray campground in Tucson Thanksgiving week. We will see...

Dinner was fried catfish at the restaurant. OK, but I have to admit I've only had one catfish meal that I thought was excellent, and that was in a Louisiana gas station.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, November 11, 2019

Day 22, Fort Stockton RV Park, Fort Stockton, TX

Site 10, Fort Stockton RV Park
A warm night - I didn't fire up the electric heater & it was only down to 62°F outside & 68°F inside. After breakfast & coffee, I packed up the trailer and headed west. All of the drive except the first couple of miles was on I 10. While it started out around 62°F, it kept getting cooler as I drove west. Lots of side winds, enough to "twitch" the trailer a bit. Nothing the F 150 couldn't handle, but I'm glad I don't have a lighter truck.

By the time I stopped at Fort Stockton, it was down to 38°F, it is 37°F now at 4:00, with a predicted low tonight of 24°F. I found the furnace running when I opened the trailer door at the campground. I didn't bother to hook up the water - I'll run off the tank for the night to save freezing the water hose.

I'm in site 10, a pull through full hookup site for $36.00 per night with a GoodSam discount. The bathrooms are just a few steps away, and have very nice individual shower rooms with sink & toilet. It is heated! The first commercial campground since the Jonestown KOA the second day of the trip. Since the prediction for tomorrow is ice on the roads south of I 10 and that is the direction I'm heading to get to Big Bend, I decided to stay for two nights. With the easy access from I10, there is a steady string of RVs coming into the park.

After setting up I headed to Walmart for supplies for the next week - there isn't much shopping between here and the Rio Grande Village campground in Big Bend. I got way too much freezer stuff, and, naturally, after filling my cart with what I felt I could squeeze in the freezer, I discovered they had one of my favorites that I haven't found in over 6 months  - Amy's Mushroom Risotto Bowl - I added 2 boxes. The freezer is crammed. I even wrote down the cooking instructions & took stuff out of the boxes to make more room.

I've been looking for a Weber Q1000 grill to replace the one I currently have, but no luck. While they don't stock them in their stores, I can order one from Ace Hardware, but would have to find one to ship it to. Unfortunately, Herb's Hardware in Quartzsite is a True Value Hardware store. The nearest Ace in in Blythe, CA. I was hoping I'd go by a Camping World on the road since they usually stock them & I get a member discount, but haven't seen one so far.

There is a restaurant in the campground with what has been described as a limited menu, but it looks like it is limited to just the stuff I like, so even though a nasty, cold rain is falling, I'll probably head over there for dinner.

Dinner was at the campground restaurant - I had the chicken fried steak. A bit tougher than I like, but filling. A free cup of Blue Bell ice cream for dessert.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Day 21, South Llano River State Park, Junction, TX

Site 42
I woke up to screaming kids at 7:00AM, not that it made much of a difference since that is the time I do my first morning eye drops. After breakfast I did some forum reading while enjoying my morning coffee, then packed up the trailer. On the way out of the park I dumped the trailer tanks. I could have gone longer since they were only 1/2 full, but the dump station was on the way out & empty.

Close to 300 miles today, however 50 of that was a mistake. I put the wrong campground into the GPS, and didn't realize I was going the wrong way until I passed part of the Texas A &M campus tthat I passed on the way to Lake Somerville campground. Other than that, an uneventful drive on various Texas secondary 2 lane roads (with 70 MPH speed limits). The last ten miles heading west was on I 10.

I'm in site 42, a back in electric & water site that is level enough that I didn't need to unhook. The picnic table has a roof & is behind the site, and the restrooms are next door. $25.00 for the night. While there is free admission to Texas parks today, it doesn't count if you are staying overnight.

I chatted with a couple that are towing a 17' Casita with a Toyota FJ Cruiser & showed them the Escape. While they liked the size, they are not interested in giving up the FJ Cruiser; I don't blame them.

By the time I finished setting up the trailer it was dinner time.

Dinner was a couple of Hot Pockets Garlic Chicken White Pizzas.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Day 20, Lake Somerville State Park, Birch Creek Unit, TX, Day 3

A Tree By The Lake
A beautiful day. It only got into the mid 60's, but clear skies so the sun felt wonderful. I walked around the loop and discovered it was 3/4 filled, mostly with tent campers. Two families moved in next to me last night. Very loud kids, but they were having a good time. They spilled into my site, but is it so large that it wasn't a problem. I do believe they have the record for the smokiest campfire, although the new couple on the other side of me is trying hard for #2.

On the walk around I took a couple of photos of some interesting trees down by the lake. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that it was back to the trailer to do some reading. Once the outside temperature broke 60°F, I got out my chair & sat outside. Around 2:30 I braved the shower. The best I can rate it for is a C. Separate drying room, but the only hooks are 3 nails in the wall. No bench or shelf in either the drying room or shower. No shower curtain. The shower is aimed at the drying room, but a narrowed entrance to the shower keeps most of the spray off the floor. Only lukewarm water, which is a problem because the room is cold. While it may be 65°F outside, the building retains the cold from last night. In any case, I managed.

After the shower it was more reading - current book is Recursion, by Blake Crouch. An interesting SiFi on my Kindle, borrowed from the New York City Library.

Dinner was a grilled chicken thigh (actually 2 since they were small), mashed potatoes, and applesauce.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, November 8, 2019

Day 19, Lake Somerville State Park, Birch Creek Unit, TX, Day 2

Light rain & cold! The high today was 50°F. While the rain stopped around 2:00PM, it is still kinda raw out. Also lonely. I knew that there would be plenty of sites available when I checked the Texas Reserve America site, but other than the host, I'm not sure there is anyone in the Post Oak loop. Of course I do have my deer herd. A 6 point buck joined the group this afternoon.

I spent the day reading. I was going to head for the showers, but while the bathroom MAY be heated, it can't be set for more than 50°F or so. Tomorrow is suppose to be 10 degrees warmer than today, so I'll wait until then.

Since the rain stopped, I did a walk around the loop. I dropped off a bag of trash at the dumpsters, and on the way around the loop noticed that most of the sites have a red "R" indicating that they are reserved. I suspect it only means that they are reservable, since they are all empty. In any case, I'm it for the loop. Since it is a long weekend, maybe they will all show up tonight!

Dinner was a Banquet Chicken Fajita Mega Bowl. I used my electric corkscrew to open a bottle of Silk & Spice wine. I laughed at a friend for using one, but I have to admit that it is much easier than the old fashion corkscrews, and I'm hooked. As to the Fajita Bowl, it won't go high on my "to buy" list, but it was editable.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Day 18, Lake Somerville State Park, Birch Creek Unit, TX

Site 38
How do you know you're in Texas? The speed limit on the 2 lane road without shoulders changes from 55 MPH to 75 MPH! Most of today's 234 miles was on 2 lane roads, with a few sections that were 4 lane. A bit longer than my usual 150 - 200 mile drive, but I wanted to try a new campground.

I'm in site 38, an electric & water site for $24.00 per night ($20.00 for the site & a $4.00 park entry fee). A very large site with some pretty colored berries on a nearby bush and its own herd of deer. Berry & deer photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I definitely drove through the cold front that was approaching Louisiana. My first stop for gas was comfortable in a tee shirt, while my second stop in College Station, TX was windy & cold even with a flannel shirt. Rain most of the trip. Right now, at 4:30, it is 57°F with a light wind, but no rain.

I relaxed after the drive for a bit, then started today's journal & dinner.

Dinner was Barber Chicken & Broccoli & mashed potatoes.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Day 17, South Toledo Bend State Park, Anacoco, LA

Crossing the Mississippi
Another warm night. The radio station I've been listening to covers most of Mississippi, and is predicting Thursday's high to be 40°F cooler than Wednesday's at 72°F. I hope I will be far enough southwest to avoid the drop, but I can't complain about the weather. On the drive to South Toledo Bend it reached 78°F.

Since I don't have a dash camera, it was a quick shot with my iPhone 7 of the bridge crossing the Mississippi River between Natchez, MS & Vidalia, LA. I now feel like I'm really on the way to Arizona. The radio stations changing from W--- to K--- is another sign that I'm on the way.

Not a bad drive on US 84 & LA 28. My blog from the last trip between the Natchez State Park & South Toledo Bend described the road as terrible. They must have repaved it. A few rough sections, but for the most part a smooth 2 & 4 lane roads with speed limits between 55 & 65MPH.

I arrived at South Toledo Bend State Park around 1:00. I checked on line this morning, and there were many open sites, so I didn't make reservations. I stopped at the office & booked a site using the map. They suggested a pull through so that I wouldn't need to unhook. While the pull throughs are a bit more expensive, they have a "62Plus discount" bringing the price for an electric & water site to $20.01 with tax, reservation fee & discount. Not bad, although when I got to the site I had to unhook anyway since the slope was bad enough that I had to lower the tongue well below the truck's trailer mount. I checked the other pull through & back in sites, and most of them had the same problem, so it only cost me $2.50 extra. A short walk to the bathroom, which has $1.00 washer & dryers. Too bad I don't have enough in the laundry bag to do a load. The site photo is at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Since it is a nice day, I will get out the grill & cook up a Bubba Burger. As to the grill, I purchased a "Giantex Propane Tabletop Gas Grill Stainless Steel Two-Burner BBQ, with Foldable Legs" last March & have only used it a couple of times. While it has done two things I really wanted that the Coleman Grill/Stove didn't do (2 burners so you can shut one off to "bake", and a high domed cover that lets you melt the cheese on a cheeseburger, bake a roast, etc) it is impossible to clean. The design lets grease drip all over the underside beneath the burners, and the flame shields don't drain off the grease so they often flair up. They also shake loose while driving, requiring getting greasy trying to put them back in their slots. Lots of sharp edges that slice up your hands when trying to scrape off the congealed grease with a scraper or paper towel. It is also huge. All in all, I'm starting to look for a replacement. I like my Weber grill at home, and they make some small travel grills. Only one burner, but lots of RV folks use them.

So, dinner was a Bubba Burger, Chancy's Baked Potato Chips & Tabatchnick Creamed Spinach.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Day 16, Natchez State Park, MS, Day 2

A Building Along State Park Road
A warm night, with the temperature never getting below 56F. While I had the electric cube heater plugged in & on, it never went above idle.

After reading some forums & breakfast, I headed into Natchez and a barber shop. I went to Laird's Barber Shop & Style Center, and after a 15 minute wait, had my hair cut by a former Elvis impersonator. A bit more expensive than most of my hair cutting stops at $20.00 plus tip, but a fun conversation & decent cut. After that is was a quick stop at Walmart & a Murphy's Gas Station for a fill up at $2.16 per gallon. On the way back I photographed an interesting building along the State Park Road.

After getting back to the campground, I had a quick shower to get rid of left over pieces of hair, then checked the internet. Verizon showed 6.5Mbps down & 1.6 up, while AT&T was slower at 2.5Mbps down & 1.3Mbps up. While it took all afternoon, I updated all my Adobe software. I'm holding off on the 2GB security update Apple would like me to do to make until I find a faster internet connection.

I did some reading sitting out in the pleasant 70°F day. Hazy; it didn't clear up until after 4:00 when it cooled off.

Dinner was a chicken thigh, potatoes & Anasazi beans cooked for 20 minutes in the Instant Pot. I soaked the beans for a couple of hours & they most were done, with a few still crunchy.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, November 4, 2019

Day 15 - Natchez State Park, MS

Site 45

Another pleasant day driving down the Trace. I had to leave the Trace around Jackson since the road was closed. The rest of the trip to the campground was on MS 18 & US 61. I arrived at Natchez State Park around 2:00. I'm in site 45, one site away from where I was the last time I was here. A close to level, back in concrete pad with the picnic table & grill behind the trailer. Water & Electric for $16.05 per night with the senior discount. A very nicely heated bathroom is one site away.

After setting up I did some reading, then headed for the shower. At least a B, the good - a warm room, medium flow showerhead (the same one I carry in my shaving kit to use to replace unusable ones), plenty of hot water, although a long wait for it, a separate drying area with a bench & shelf & 3 hooks (2 broken but usable). The bad - no shower curtain so some spray gets on the drying room floor, which is on the small side, & no shelf in the shower.

After my shower I decided to do an early dinner. I used the left over steak along with peppers & onions to make a couple of tacos (or maybe they should be called fajitas).

I met and chatted with Sara, a full timer that is heading to New Mexico. By the time we finished, it was dark enough that I had to push the ISO to 3200 in the camera to get a site photo.

Got a call from my brother, then started posting today's page.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Day 14, Jeff Busby Campground, Ackerman, MS

Site 6, Jeff Busby Campground
While I should have ended up with an extra hour of sleep, I was wide awake after my morning eye drops (I usually get an hour's snooze after them) so I was out of the campground by 8:00AM. A bit warmer last night at 35°F, but rolling up the power cord still took a bit of effort. I do wish the RV cord manufacturers used SuperVutron or one of the other rubber, cold flexible cords, but they do cost more, so they don't. Since I prefer the molded plug on the pedestal end of the cord, I haven't made the change to the better cord.

I stopped for gas & a Walmart to resupply at Tupelo, then continued down the Natchez Trace. Jeff Busby campground is a free, dry campground with a heated bathroom with flush toilets, but no showers. The sites don't seem to be numbered, but I'm in a pull through (most are pull throughs) next to what would be the host site if there was one. A much better site across the road from me with the grill & picnic table next to the site (mine is down a hill) but it was the handicapped site. While sitting out in the sun I watched a Vixen drive by, an unusual fiberglass Class B rear engine RV. While I've seen a bunch of them in Quartzsite, this is the first I've seen in the East. They didn't stay...

After setting up I took a site photo, then got out the grill. I'm going to grill the steak I bought the other day for a late lunch/early dinner. While grilling my steak, I found a post next to the picnic table labeled 6, so I assume that is my site number.

Good Verizon coverage with 10.4 Mbps down & 6.3Mbps up. There is AT&T service, but I didn't check the strength or speed.

Dinner was the steak & a salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Day 13, Tishomingo State Park, Tishomingo, MS, Day 2

Morning at Haynes Lake 

Another cool night, but only down to 32°F. I called my son in Oswego, NY & it was 42°F! They had quite a storm over the last couple of days. Steady 40MPH winds with gusts to 60MPH. I get email notices when the power goes out at the house, and I got 3 of them over the last 2 days. Looks like power was out all night & most of the morning. I have a 15K stand by generator, so the house did fine, although I'll have a larger gas bill for the month.

I took a couple of morning photos over the lake this morning, and after breakfast, walked the garbage to the dumpster at the entrance to the campground. I did some reading, both on line & on my Kindle. Thought about a shower, but the unheated bathroom just didn't do it for me. Getting soft in my old age. I did take another walk to the end of the campground.

Don't forget to set your clocks back tonight - Daylight Savings Time ends for most of us...

Dinner was a Lean Cuisine Chicken Club Panini & rice pudding for dessert.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, November 1, 2019

Day 12, Tishomingo State Park, Tishomingo, MS

Jackson Falls along the Natchez Trace

I'm glad I pulled my water hookup early - 28°F this morning, and only up to 35°F at 10:30 when I left.

Most of the drive was on the Natchez Trace Parkway. A relaxing 50MPH with very little traffic. I stopped at Jackson Falls for a few photos, then continued south to the Tishomingo State Park. I'm in site 10, a water & electric site for $16.05 per night with sales tax & senior discount. While the price is great, the site is a bit tight, and the grill & picnic table are a long way downhill from the trailer. Another problem is the 30 amp receptacle was replaced upside down, and the "electrician" reversed the polarity. I used my 50 to 30 amp adapter & plugged into the 50 amp side. Other than that, a pretty site. Not too far from the bathrooms with well designed showers, but no heat. Since the high today was 55°F and it (at 3:30PM) is already down to 51°F, I won't even try them this afternoon.

After setting up I walked around the campground. I didn't make it to the end of the campground, but did pass another bathroom about 20 sites down from mine that feels like there is a bit of heat inside. There are also many campsites that have their grills & picnic tables closer to the site. There is an advantage of knowing the campground when you reserve a site. There are many more RVs set up in the higher number sites.  More falls & site photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Quorn veggie chicken patty & a salad.

Until Tomorrow -