Tuesday, November 30, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 41

 Tuesday, November 30, 2021 - Whitewater Draw, McNeal, AZ, Day 2

Sandhill Crane

I'm not a morning person, at least since retiring. Never the less, I climbed out of bed after my 7:00 AM eye drops and headed to the pond, hoping to catch the mass exodus of cranes heading for the fields to eat. Evidently the Sandhill Cranes deal with mornings earlier than I do. They were already gone, with a few left on the far end of the pond. I did see a few ducks. Last night the arrival of the huge flocks didn't happen until the light was gone. I guess if I want the photo, I'm going to have to get up & out before dawn - don't think that is going to happen. By the way, still cold at night - 31°F early this morning, another reason for staying in bed!

After returning to the trailer and breakfast, I read for a bit then headed out for a walk around the pond around 11:00. A number of cranes are back so I took a few images.

Another clear, hot day. I sat in the shade reading, and eventually headed back down to the pond when the light started to look interesting.

I didn't stay too long; the mosquitoes were even worse than yesterday.   More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was an evol Butternut Squash & Sage Ravioli microwave dinner.

Until Tomorrow - 

Monday, November 29, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 40

 Monday, November 29, 2021 - Whitewater Draw, McNeal, AZ, 88.7Miles, 3,319.3 Miles for the Trip

Sandhill Cranes

A short drive to Whitewater Draw down AZ 80 / US Historic 80. I filled up in Douglas, AZ at the same price as gas in Deming (and Columbus). I arrived at Whitewater Draw around 11:30 AM. Two RVs & a tent camper parked in the circle. Both moved to positions where they would be able to leave in the morning (if the circle gets too full, you can't get out until the people in front of you move, and sometimes the people in front of you pull in well after you are set up & think you are in the clear). I moved from the dusty side of the circle to the area better suited for RVs. Since I am not leaving until Wednesday, and even then have a short drive to Tucson (109 miles to the Gilbert Ray Campground), I can live with a late start.

I had Lightroom crash my computer completely dead twice. Not sure why, but it sure made me nervous. The Applecare runs out December 8th, so it will probably wait until then to give up the ghost. 

Whitewater Draw is dry camping with a vault toilet in the middle of the circle. If this section (closest to the Sandhill Crane pond) is full, there is an overfill section about a quarter mile up the road.

After setting up I walked down to the pond to take a couple of photos. Noon is not the best time - the birds leave a little after sunrise & return jut before sunset. There are a couple of hundred that hang around all day so I took a few photos.

You might as well get used to lots of bird photos over the next two days - there isn't much else here...

While it was cool last night (31°F), I'm almost 1000' lower, and it is warm this afternoon - 73°F at 3:00, so hopefully tonight won't be as cold. My weather app says 41°F. 

I sat outside and read for the rest of the afternoon. 

As the sun was setting, I walked down to the pond for more photos. The mosquitos were ferocious, but I got a few with sunset colors. There are some blackbirds that fly as a flock. There are so many that their wing noise sounds like an explosion. Many more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

By the way, here in the middle of nowhere, AT&T has the fastest internet of the trip - 147.4Mbps down and 34.5Mbps up. Fast, but erratic (or maybe Dreamweaver)  - it didn't load the first set of photos until I reloaded them a few at a time.

Dinner was a Saffron Road Chicken Biryani.

Until Tomorrow - 

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 39

 Sunday, November 28, 2021 - Sunny Flats Forest service Campground, Portal, AZ 102.3 Miles, 3,230.6 Miles for the Trip

Milky Way & Meteor

As you can see, well, actually, you won't see until at least tomorrow since there is no cell service here, I'm in Sunny Flats rather than making the full drive to Whitewater draw. I still plan to go to Whitewater Draw tomorrow, although the short time their site camera was working there were no birds in the pond. 

Anyhow, I pulled in one trailer too late. My preferred site is either 11 or 13. Both are deep enough and level enough that I don't need to unhook the trailer. Unfortunately, the trailer ahead of me took site 11, and a trailer is already in 13. For the guy pulling into Site 11 it was only fair since he had a larger trailer and would not have fit in any of the sites left. I'm in site 12, a fairly steep site (I had to lift the trailer tongue 8" to level the trailer). It is also shallow enough that I had to park the truck next to the trailer. I could also fit in sites 5, and 7 - but they are all shaded. Site 8 is the host site - no one there right now, but there is a 100 pound propane tank on the site. Most of the rest of the sites are too short & shaded. I gained 1000' between Pancho Villa & here - the campground is at about 5100'. It might get cold tonight! All sites are dry, $10.00 with an agency pass, $20.00 without a pass.

After leveling the trailer I paid for the site, then took a couple of photos. As I've mentioned earlier, a beautiful location. It is popular with birders with some viewing areas nearby. There is a ranger station just before you hit the campgrounds. There are 4 campgrounds in the area, however only 2 are open, and Sunny Flats is by far the better of the two.

I sat outside in the sun. I actually had to duck into partial shade - the sun is strong at 5000'. They have an interesting "warning" at the campground information board. If more than 1 1/2" of rain is predicted, the campground will be evacuated. While the campground doesn't flood, at least the high side, the entrance road, the only way back to civilization other than going over a mountain on a dirt road, floods during heavy rain. It might take a lot of rain to flood the road - the stream is completely dry but you can see the parts along side the road that have been torn up by previous floods. While sitting behind the trailer a couple of deer wandered by.

Dinner was the last of the Jennie O chicken breast. Actually, there is more left, but I'm done with it. Hate to throw away food, but I ate all I could stand.

Sunny Flats is a good place for nighttime photographs. The only light (after the day glow dies away) is from other campers, and there are not many of them. Since the camping is dry, they usually don't leave outside lights one. There was a bit of spill from a propane fire pit, but other than that it was dark. Around 6:45 it was dark enough to try for some star photos. The milky way isn't as interesting in the winter as in summer, but I included it in one image. Also caught a meteor in the 3rd image in the top row. At 8:00 I did a one hour photo to make a star trail. The exposure was a bit too much for the amount of overall light, so the background is blue instead of black, but you get the idea.

More star photos, and some images of Sunny Flats at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Until Tomorrow - 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 38

 Saturday, November 27, 2021 - Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM, Day 7

When I fired up the coffee maker this morning, it didn't. Checked the outlet under the front of the sink (where the coffee maker plugs in) using the coffee bean grinder and it didn't work either. Escape, in their wisdom changed between my 2011 17 and my 2017 21 to daisy chaining the sink receptacles from the outside receptacle, which is a GFCI type, rather than the other way around. Going outside in the rain is not my idea of a good plan - I'd wire it the other way. The problem is the space between the sink tabletop & the cabinet framing is too narrow for a standard box & receptacle, so they use a "self Contained" receptacle, one that does not require a box. If someone makes a self contained GFCI receptacle I haven't seen it. 

We had light but steady rain overnight, so I went outside & attempted to reset the GFCI. No luck - it wouldn't reset. I shut off the circuit & pulled the receptacle - an ounce or two of water ran out as I broke the seal between the cover & the box. No idea how it got in, but I dried the receptacle & box, tested the GFCI & it worked, then proceeded to reinstall & reseal it. Hope I fixed the leak. My guess, since the seal on the receptacle & box was in good condition, is that wind blown rain ran in through the outside access door to the passenger side under dinette seat. I had only latched one side of the door, and it might have let water in, which ran down the wire leading to the receptacle next to the door. Water is sneaky!

Not much else going on. I finished my survey of the sites for my campground sites list, and added a photo of the campground map. Much warmer than yesterday - sunshine & already 65°F at 11:30AM. Light wind. I got to try my new bag chair. My favorite bit the dust two days ago. I've had it since a 1996 trip across the country, so I guess I got my money's worth. The problem with most of the new bag chairs are they are either made for kids or 300 pound adults. This one is great. An Ozark Trails brand made for Walmart. Surprised it isn't huge, but it is normal sized. Two drink holders, both deep enough that a bottle doesn't fall out, straps that keep the back of the canvas arms from sliding down the frame, and the front frame bars are low enough that they don't hit your legs. Padded seat. So far, nothing I can complain about. 

Since I'm heading for 3 days of dry camping, I decided to hit the shower again. This time I used the smaller stall. Not as nice - too much water got under the shower curtain & wet at least 2/3rds of the drying floor. The hot water was interesting. Same building as last time with showers next to each other. This time just as I was thoroughly soaped, the water turned cold. It stayed cold for a minute or two, then slowly warmed up again. By the time I was rinsed, it started to cool off again. I'm not sure why it happened this time but the last time it never cooled off.

I hooked up the trailer and, as expected, can only open the tailgate enough to reach the latches for the tonneau cover. At least the tailgate doesn't hit the switches on the new tongue jack - they are on top.

If I decide to stop at Sunny Flats, you won't hear from me tomorrow - no cell coverage. While I didn't take notes on the cell coverage at Whitewater Draw, I posted a bunch of photos back in 2020, so there should be a connection.

Dinner was a turkey sandwich. Good or bad, I feel like I need to use it up...

Until Tomorrow - 

Friday, November 26, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 37

 Friday, November 26, 2021 - Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM, Day 6

A cold night - 36°F at 6:00AM. I went for a walk around the campground, adding to my site recommendations on my Campground Sites list. Again, all the sites would fit my trailer, but many have poorly positioned utilities, at least for a trailer.

After breakfast I read forums & blogs on the computer, then headed to Deming for my gasket material at NAPA, and hit both a grocery store & Walmart. I found Alaskan Amber at Pepper's grocery store, and the usual "stuff" at Walmart. Very busy, but, it is Black Friday. I tried to get replacement pads for the toilet "wand" I use, and, of course, Walmart no longer carries that model. They have a new & improved model that, I admit is better in that it has a holder for the wand & pads (my old one rattled around in the bathroom, getting under foot in the middle of the night). So, I tossed the old handle and have 9 pads to go through before I discover that the replacements are no longer available.

I now have a full freezer & am ready to head out Sunday without a long side trip to Deming. I haven't decided if I'm going to go straight to Whitewater Draw, or stop for one night at Sunny Flats. Sunny Flats is somewhat on the way, so I might check to see if one of the 11 sites is open. It is a beautiful forest service campground near Portal, AZ. 

I spent the rest of the day reading. Not much outside - it never got above 50°F. I did take another short walk around the lower end of the campground.

Lunch was a turkey sandwich. Usually I enjoy turkey, mayo & cranberry sauce sandwiches for days after the turkey dinner for both lunch & dinner, but I'm not impressed with the Jennie O turkey breast. Tough and not much flavor. I'll try it tonight, but I'm not sure it is a keeper. Anyhow, dinner was a turkey sandwich & a salad.

Until Tomorrow - 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 36

 Thursday, November 25, 2021 - Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM, Day 5 

Thanksgiving Dinner

Happy Thanksgiving!

A cool, rainy night. Still overcast this morning with light to medium steady rain. Not enough to puddle on the ground, but enough to discourage a walk around the park.

I should mention the showers - I visited them yesterday afternoon. The bathrooms are heated, although barely, and there are two shower stalls in the men's central bathroom. Both have fine spray water saver showerheads, although the kind that shoot out many fine streams rather than one central stream (the spray doesn't cool as fast). It took 5 minutes for the water to get hot, but once it was hot it was fine. Very soft water - you spend more time rinsing than washing. As to the physical space, I ended up in the handicap shower & it was quite large, had a shelf for your stuff, a large drying room with a bench and one dual hook. A shower curtain that was long enough so little water leaked under it. Rubber mat on the drying room floor. The other shower has the same size stall & a smaller drying area. Both have upper & lower shower heads. I'd give them a solid B, A B+ if the water wasn't quite so soft & they had standard shower heads.

After breakfast I sat in the trailer reading. Still cold & rainy out at 43°F at 10:30AM. 

While I can't roast my usual 20+ pound Plainville Turkey & all the fixings here in the trailer, I did buy a turkey breast that will fit in the tiny oven, some stove top stuffing, gravy mix in case there isn't enough grease from the breast to make some, cranberry sauce, etc. I do wounder why you can buy a turkey breast, and often turkey legs, but not a turkey thigh. Seems like they would have twice as many of legs & thighs unless they are raising very strange turkeys. Actually, I did see turkey thighs in a store a couple of years ago, but none since. I prefer dark meat so would prefer the thigh. In any case, the turkey breast is in the oven. Dinner is planned for around 3:00 since that is the traditional time at home.

I've noticed a marked increase on internet ads during this pre "Black Friday, Internet Monday" period. I am hearing from companies that I haven't received email from in over a year. Many have changed their source address so they bypass my junk/spam mailboxes.

I don't usually do food photos, but since I don't have one for today's post, and I went to the trouble of making a Thanksgiving dinner, I'm sticking one here.

Everything cooked as expected, however the Jennie O turkey breast is one of the toughest I've had. Guess I'm used to Plainville turkeys. The other "problem" is there is no one here to do the dishes. When I do either an actual Thanksgiving turkey or my "Thanksgiving in July" dinner, there is a crowd, some of which insist that since I made the dinner, they would do the dishes (Thanks Anne, Anne & Kitty and others). Of course there is a negative - it takes me a month to find where they decided things should go. No one here but me and my 13" X 10" sink. Only took half an hour so now I can relax. I'll have a turkey sandwich for a late dinner. (or should I call it supper?) In any case, I have enough turkey for days.

Until Tomorrow - 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 35

 Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 3,128.3 Miles for the Trip

The Pancho Villa Museum

Another small project this morning. I have a fan in the refrigerator powered by the 12V connection for the refrigerator itself. The fan was not running this morning; the refrigerator was on. There is a separate 1 amp fuse for the refrigerator fan. Checked it & it looked good, but when I put an ohm meter on it, it showed open. Naturally, I didn't have a replacement 1 amp buss fuse (the only glass fuse in the trailer) so I changed the fuse holder to a ATC holder, more compatible with the rest of the fuses in the trailer, and I had a 1 amp ATC fuse. All back together & the fan is back in action.

After that I did a walk around the campground, came back to the trailer and finished At First Light by Barbara Nickless. While far from a favorite, not completely terrible. Started the second in the Pine Deep trilogy by Jonathan Maberry - Dead Man's Song. Around 11:00 I headed for the museum. An interesting history for the town of Columbus and Camp Furlong. As the sign in the last photo notes, Camp Furlong was home of the first army air base in the US. Many more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

They have a movie, but there wasn't enough time before the lunch break to see it. 

Back at the trailer I was going to head to Deming for a bit of shopping, but decided to see if I could order some high temperature gasket material from NAPA to repair my Pelonis heater. Sure enough, it was possible, and will be in Deming on Friday. So, I'll put off my trip until then.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the trailer reading. I started outside when the sun was shining, but it went away, and cooled off quickly. I took another walk taking notes on the campsites - very strange utility layout - many are on the wrong end if you want your door towards the picnic table, and some of the pull through loops are difficult to tell from the road, but if you use them, your water & electric line go across what others might think is the "road". A very light rain started as I started the walk. 

In the past I had some delicious "Decadent" cookies from Walmart. I know they were not the oatmeal, although those are pretty good, and now I know they are not the Cowboy cookies - too sweet. I guess I'll have to keep trying...

Dinner was Birdseye Sweet & Sour Chicken & rice.

Until Tomorrow - 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 34

 Tuesday, November 23, 2021 - Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 3,128.3 Miles for the Trip

Headquarters Building

I did my usual morning walk - did a mile going up & down the campground roads. I found a Casita 17 in a site on the west side of the campground. Pancho Villa is built on an old army base, Camp Furlong. There are many old buildings fenced in around the campground. I'll take more photos of some of the buildings and signs on further walks. They have a museum here at the campground that I was going to visit today, but didn't get to it. Hopefully, tomorrow.

It has been in the low 40's most mornings, with very low humidity - this morning it was 40% out & 20% in the trailer. With my perpetual stuffy nose, and some of the meds I take, that makes for a very dry mouth! I use a dry mouth lozenges most nights, but here I wake up in the middle of the night needing another one.

After breakfast I decided to clean the screens on the trailer windows. Now that doesn't sound like that much work, but anyone who has removed a screen from an Escape Hehr brand frameless window knows how "interesting" it is to get it back in. They use a spring like clip that snaps into the metal window frame. The problem is the plastic surround the screen is framed with is so lightweight that as you pop in one snap, another pops out. The valances and the knob used to open the window also get in the way.

Since the insides of the windows have not been washed since 2017, I guess it was time. Lots of spider webs on between the window & the screen on the windows that I usually open. I used a vacuum, brush & paper towel to clean the screens, and Windex on the windows. Looks much better from the inside, although a bit of Windex on the outsides, particularly the back windows would make things much clearer.

After lunch I did laundry. No laundry at the campground, or as a business in Columbus, but the Columbus RV Park has one open to the public. Sort of a last resort laundromat - no folding tables, and at least one of the dryers doesn't heat & makes a noise like it is dying, not drying. Of course I put a dollar in it before discovering the problem. The other dryers worked, although took more than 45 minutes to completely dry my clothes, So, the laundry is done. Back at the trailer I changed the sheets; always a project with three sides of the bed against walls. 

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading. Current book is At First Light by Barbara Nickless, which I can't wait to finish and get on to something else. I've spent too much time listening to recorded books, putting off reading this one. I haven't been listing the "books on tape" actually downloaded from either the North Country Library System or the New York City Library for most of them, but I listen to 3-4 of them per week, mostly while driving, doing eye drops, walks & exercises. As long as the subject matter is different enough, I don't get confused between the two formats.

There is more fiberglass in the campground - a Scamp 13 just drove by.

Dinner was a chicken thigh, pinto beans & new potatoes pressure cooked in the Instant Pot.

Until Tomorrow - 

Monday, November 22, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 33

 Monday, November 22, 2021 - Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 3,128.3 Miles for the Trip

The New Tongue Jack

The new tongue jack is installed, not without a few problems. Two of the three bolts holding the old tongue jack to the trailer yoke came out with no problem. The front one took lots of torque, enough that I was worried about snapping it. Finally got it out. Now I have been accused of carrying far to much stuff - the trailer is usually within 200 pounds of its gross weight, although I still have over 600 pounds on the truck (but only 380 pounds before exceeding the rear axle rating). In short, I have lots of stuff, including tools that I rarely use. One of those rare tools was a tap & die set. I was able to re-thread the front hole in the trailer yoke. It looked like it was mis-threaded by someone with an impact driver when the original tongue jack was installed. 

While the lift/drop speed of the new tongue jack is slower than the old Atwood, it has three or four more inches of travel. That lets me put the foot directly on the ground, leaving more "leggo" blocks for the stabilizers. I never did like the tongue on a stack of Leggo blocks - they are more slippery than the ground, and by the time the trailer was leveled, the foot of the jack sometimes moved off center. Too close to the edge & I'd have to reconnect to the truck to lift the foot enough to recenter them.

The new tongue jack head is larger than the old Atwood one. Much tighter on the propane tank cover, although it can still be removed, and much closer to the front of the hitch. I have been using an extended stinger ball mount to get the tailgate to clear the tongue jack. That is what got me in trouble in the first place. It only cleared the tailgate when the truck was level or lower than the trailer. At Big Bend, the trailer was uphill a few degrees, just enough that when the tailgate slammed down it stripped the switches & light from the head of the tongue jack. Since even the extended stinger doesn't give enough clearance for the tailgate, I went back to the shorter one. Actually, I feel better about the change; the extension puts more torque on the stinger mount on the truck & I'm close to the limit when using a non weight distribution hitch. So, no more grabbing stuff from the truck bed without lifting the tonneau cover. I can live with that.

Made a trip to the San Jose grocery store. A reasonably amount of stuff for a small town. Heavily weighted towards Mexican food. Most of the residents of Columbus appear to be Spanish speaking.

Around 3:30 I took another walk around the campground. You can do over a mile without repeating yourself by walking up & down the access roads. The layout is a bit confusing - the exit is on the western side of the campground, but the paved road is on the east side. Some of the cross streets go to the other side, while others just go to campsites. I need to add a note to my Campground Site notes to choose a site on the west side - here on the east side of the park the traffic noise from NM 11 is a bit loud. Lots of trucks heading north with sod & hay.

I snacked while sitting around reading during the afternoon, so dinner was just a salad.

Until Tomorrow - 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 32

 Sunday, November 21, 2021 - Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM - 338.5 Miles, 3,128.3 Miles for the Trip

Site SL-28

The longest drive of the trip. I don't know why pulling the trailer wears me out more than just driving the truck since I do close to the same speed (at least in the east) and about the same number of stops, but it does. Doing 400 miles to Hyannis, MA to take the ferry to visit my brother on Nantucket Island or driving to Takoma Park, MD to visit with my daughter seems fine. In any case, I arrived at the campground worn out. I remembered the section of US90 between Marfa & Van Horn as one of the straightest roads I've driven. Miles without a twitch of the steering wheel - you could tie it down and tale a nap! I did photograph one of the radar balloons on the ground.

A Radar Balloon

I stopped at Camping World in Anthony, TX to pick up the tongue jack. Like all my interactions with Camping World, this one left me less than pleased. When I called, I gave the service rep the stock number of the jack I wanted. It was listed on the website at $219.99. He said they had plenty of them on the shelf. Well, they had plenty of tongue jacks on the shelf, but none of the model I wanted. They did have a "Smart" version of the same brand I wanted for only $87.00 more with both my Good Sam & veteran's discounts. Since I didn't like any of the others and all but one of them was rated for a heavier tongue weight and more expensive, I bought it anyway. So, I'm a proud owner of a Lippert Smart Tongue Jack. As far as I can tell, for my extra $87.00, I can program the unit so that it will automatically level my tongue. I will install it tomorrow.

So, I'm in site SL-28, a water & electric site with a covered picnic table on a concrete slab for $15.00 per night + a $12.00 reservation fee. New Mexico has some of the least expensive campground prices in the country. I'm here for a week since I wanted to make sure I had a reserved site for the Thanksgiving weekend. It shouldn't be a problem here - I doubt there are more than 5 RVs or tents in the place other than the hosts. 

After hooking up the trailer, I took a short walk around the campground. Pancho Villa is in the middle of nowhere, a few miles from the Mexican border crossing on NM11. Columbus does have a grocery store & a couple of restaurants; it is about the same size as Quartzsite before the winter visitors.

I discovered something new about Dreamweaver, the Adobe software I use to make this page. I make the next day's page by saving a copy of the previous day, then erasing everything that isn't repeated and type the update. After spending 20 minutes typing today's page I realized that the clock on my MacBookPro was off by an hour because of the time zone change to Mountain Time. I reset the Mac, and Dreamweaver told me that I needed to reload the page. I did and it reverted to the original copy (ie I now had two copies of page 31 & my work on page 32 disappeared into the ether) This is strange since I had saved page 32 multiple times. So, this is the second edition.

Since I'm tired, dinner is going to be just a sandwich.

Until Tomorrow - 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 31

 Saturday, November 20, 2021 - Tumble Inn RV Park, Marfa, TX, Day 2

The Office

A cool night, getting down to 37°F. The Walmart electric heater couldn't make up its mind - either staying off down to 52°F or staying on up to 68°F. I sure need to get the Pelonis fixed!

I walked around the RV park this morning - an interesting place. About 1/2 the RVs look fairly permanent, some that haven't moved in years. There is a Casita in the campground, but I haven't seen the tow vehicle or owner. I added a photo of the "Office" and one of a pair of EV charging ports. The green building behind the charging ports might be the owner's home, or at least where he hangs out when at the park. No door, but a refrigerator, kitchen table, washer & dryer, etc. As I said, a strange but OK RV Park.

The Charging station & "Hangout"

I made a run to Porters & bought water & another chili relleno. Found on the back of a shelf an Alaskan mixed package, but none of the cans were amber so I passed it up. At least Alaskan products have made it here. 

After that I sat outside in the shade reading. Current book is At First Light by Barbara Nickless. Outside didn't last long - the wind kicked up & the only shelter the trailer offered was in the sun. So, back in the trailer. 

I tested the speed of both Verizon & AT&T. Verizon wins at 51.1Mbps down & 10.3Mbps up, while AT&T was at 34.1Mbps down & 6.9Mbps up. Either is definitely usable, however I stuck with AT&T. An interesting thing from Verizon. While I was doing the test I checked my data usage. It shows .17Gb on the Jetpack which makes sense, but 71Gb on the phone. The phone is suppose to be truly unlimited (unless I use it as a hotspot in which case it has the same 15Gb limit of the Jetpack), and appears to be, but the only thing I have used it for this month is to listen to internet radio, which doesn't use all that much data. Plus, I had the phone shut off for the 5 days at Big Bend. No idea how I used that much data...

I checked with the Gilbert Ray Campground (in Tucson) for their reservation policy - it is confusing. They don't have anyone in the office until January, and in the past it was first come until then, but Pima County has a reservation page and it let me (in fact seemed to require that I) make reservations. So, I will be in Tucson December 1-4. I hope to find a spot at White Water Draw for November 28, leaving December 1st. Hope the sandhill cranes are there for the winter.

As long as I was making reservations, I booked the rest of my trip to Quartzsite. For those interested, White Water Draw 11/28 -12/1, Gilbert Ray 12/1 - 12/4, Picacho Peak 12/4 - 12/6, Lost Dutchman 12/6 - 12/9 and on to Quartzsite on 12/9. While this is the first trip I have reserved virtually every night, the tail end through Arizona has always been reserved since their parks seems to never have first come sites available. Interesting - I will arrive in Quartzsite on the same day I did in 2019.

Dinner was a evol Portabella & Goat Cheese Ravioli bowl.

Until Tomorrow - 

Friday, November 19, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 30

 Friday, November 19, 2021 - Tumble Inn RV Park, Marfa, TX - 148.5 Miles,2,789.8 Miles for the Trip

Site 6, Tumble Inn, Marfa TX

Even though today is a "move" day, I did my walk around the campground. I only have to go 150 miles to get to Marfa, so I had plenty of time. Lots of folks heading out this morning. All of the drive once I was out of Big Bend was 75MPH 2 lane roads. I did 60MPH. It didn't improve my fuel mileage compared to 65MPH - today was 11.9MPG. I pulled into the Tumble Inn RV Park around 1:30. A fairly primitive campground with no host. You go in a small trailer & find your reservation & site listed on a white board, fill out the paperwork & head for your site. Unlisted sites are available as first come. I'm in a pull through on dirt that is full hook up for $30.00 per night. The campground is between an active railroad & US 90, both providing background noise.

After setting up the trailer I headed to the Porter Market for a few supplies. Still looking for Alaskan Amber beer but no luck so far. I did pick up a microwavable Chili Relleno dinner, which I'll try tonight. Back at the trailer I headed for the showers. Many would give it a poor rating because it is somewhat dark and unfinished (no tile, etc). I give it an A because it has everything I want. A large shower & drying room with a strong spray shower head, shower curtain & a lip on the floor that keeps the shower water from running under the shower curtain. Shelves in the shower for your stuff, a large bench in the drying room as well as hooks for your clothes & towel. Clean except for a collection of half filled shampoo bottles, even a bathmat. The bathroom appears to be heated, although it isn't cold enough at 4:00 to tell.

After that I caught up on some of the RV forums I read as well as 300 email messages that stacked up while I was away from the internet. 

I called Camping World of El Paso (which is actually in Anthony) and they have the power tongue jack I want, so I'll stop by on my way to Pancho Villa State Park on Sunday. That makes it a long day at over 325 miles, but during the long stay at Pancho Villa I should be able to install it.

Dinner was the Chili Relleno - it was better than I expected, although not anywhere as nice as that at Chopes in La Mesa, NM, a restaurant I will not be able to stop at since it is closed Sunday & Monday & I'll be going by it on Sunday. They make the best Chili Relleno I've ever had.

Until Tomorrow - 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 29

Thursday, November 18, 2021 - Rio Grande Village Campground, Big Bend National Park, Big Bend, TX, Day 5

The Canoe

An interesting night! Around 10:00 my new neighbor set their tent up in the dark. While it has been calm for the last 4 days, not last night. The wind got stronger and stronger throughout the night, and is still blowing strong this morning. My trailer was shaking, however many of the tent campers didn't fair well. My neighbor did OK, but during my morning walk I saw a number of tents collapsed, some shredded. There are others that are standing around planning to leave this morning, but don't want to try to take down their tent in the wind. While it is slowing down, there are still 30 - 40MPH gusts. Photos of the tents are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

It reminds me of a trip in 2011 when friends Anne & Guido flew out to the southwest to join me traveling with my first trailer. They brought their tent, set it up at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada (If you haven't been, go!). The ground was too hard for their tent pegs, so they tied one side to my trailer and the other to the weight distribution tongue (weighs 40 - 50 pounds) from my RAV4. All was well until around 2:00AM when the wind got really bad. Guido got out to see if he could tie the tent to something else, and Anne told him he had to get back in - after he got off the mattress, she, the air mattress & the tent were floating off the ground. They (and the tent) survived the night. 

All that happened to me here at Big Bend is one of the corners of my entry mat came loose. It is still too windy to fold it up, so I left it with a chair holding it down. I also took down my site sign & hummingbird mobile since both don't do well in the wind. Since I usually fold up my large mat the day before leaving &, if necessary, put down a small one, I hope the wind dies down enough for that to happen (it did). If I tried it right now, I might be sailing over the Rio Grande!

They do flood irrigation at the campground, putting up signs and labels on the site number posts indicating what areas they are going to flood. Some enterprising camper floated his canoe on the "flood".

I don't know if it is going to get into the 90's today since the front that went through causing the wind might have been a warm or cold one. It caused warmer overnight temperatures (my furnace never came on and I never saw it go below 54°F outside), but right now at 11:00 it is still only 55°F outside so it may be cooler. There are some clouds that may tone down the sun (but also slow down my battery charging from the panels). I'm not all that worried ( I am still at 85% after using the microwave for both dinner & breakfast, along with my pot of coffee). 

On my second walk, I went through the no generator section back in the bushes, and found a Casita 17. Nobody home so I didn't say hi...

The afternoon has been a mix of sun & clouds. Still very gusty winds, although a bit more time between gusts. 59°F and very low humidity - 24% in the trailer. Sparks every time I touch anything. It looks like rain, but with the low humidity, I doubt it. 

Since it appears that the wind is not going to stop, I put the grill away & plan to make a sandwich and cook some soup on the stove inside.

Until The Next Internet Connection - 

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 28

Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - Rio Grande Village Campground, Big Bend National Park, Big Bend, TX, Day 4

Santa Elena Canyon

First off - dinner last night was spaghetti, meatballs & sausage. Unfortunately, no garlic bread or homemade sauce.

I met & talked with one of the hosts, and she has been keeping track of how many don't show up for their reservations. My suspicions were wrong - less than 10% don't show. They also have a good plan for dealing with no shows. Officially, they are suppose to put the site back on Recreation.gov at noon the day after a no show, but have found that it works better for all involved to wait until the second day. Once the site is listed as available, it can be reserved that day. They often have people drive through the campground & find a site without a reserved tag, zip over to the campground store & make a reservation on the website. 

While the only wildlife photo I have taken so far is a turtle, they are out there. Every night I hear coyotes, and either donkeys or burros. I think donkeys - they don't sound like the burros I've heard in California (although I suppose there can be a regional accent).

This morning my next door neighbors packed up their Casita 17 and headed out. They have an Escape 21C (same as mine) on order, so we talked about the various options.

While I put 0 miles on the trailer today, I put over 100 on the truck. I picked up 16.5 gallons of gas at $3.60 per gallon then drove to the Santa Elena Canyon on the Ross Maxwell Drive. I know I did most of the drive before since it goes to the Cottonwood Campground where I stayed back when I had my Escape 17. I didn't remember if I went further to the canyon, but after going today, I remembered it. On the way back I stopped for a couple of photos at Chisos Basin. Many more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I got back to the trailer around 3:00. 89°F inside & outside. I sat in the shade and read for a bit, dropped off the garbage & recyclables, then microwaved dinner.

Dinner was a happi foodi Chicken Alfredo Bowl.

Until The Next Internet Connection - 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 27

Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - Rio Grande Village Campground, Big Bend National Park, Big Bend, TX, Day 3

The Rio Grande Village Nature Trail

While there are still many empty sites in the campground, two of the ones across from me did fill last night. I took a photo of the taped together switch, and the moon rising over the ridge next to the campground.

I walked around the campground, then had breakfast. A cool morning at 44°F, but it is still warm in the sun and the overall temperature climbs fast. By 10:00 it was time to go back to shorts, at least outside the trailer. 

A little after 10:00 I went for a hike on one of the easiest & shortest trails in the park - the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail. It starts from the campground at site 18, has a side trail that runs down to the river, then circles around a small rise with a view of both the campground and Boquillas, Mexico. As usual, there are a number of collections of wire & bead artwork along with other items for sale. It is against park rules to purchase them here on the US side of the border, but if you cross the border to Boquillas, the same items are for sale legally. Lots of photos on today's LakeshoreImages page.

I checked the propane tanks & one was empty. Took it to the store - they fill by the bottle, not gallon - $21.50 per tank. Not the least expensive I've purchased, but also not the most. 

I finished Harlan Coben's Win and started The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Very hot today; 92°F at 3:00. Even now at 4:00 is is still 90°F both inside & outside the trailer. I decided it would be a good time for the campground showers. Although the park email confirmation of my reservation stated they were closed due to Covid, they are open. $2.00 for 5 minutes. I used my electric beard shaver before heading out. I try to keep it under 1/4" and it was getting a bit long.

As to the showers - although $2.00 for 5 minutes is a bit steep, ignoring that there is plenty of hot water, although a low mounted fine spray unadjustable shower head, shower aims at the drying ares but there is a shower curtain. but water gets under it so the drying area has a wet floor. A bench & three hooks. Overall, a B-.

Since I was heading to the campground office for the showers, I dragged the computer along so I could post today's journal.

Until The Next Internet Connection - 

Monday, November 15, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 26

 Monday, November 15, 2021 - Rio Grande Village Campground, Big Bend National Park, Big Bend, TX, Day 2 

Welcome to Big Bend

I slept in until almost 9:00. The furnace thermostat was set for 59°F and it came on around 5:00AM. It didn't run all that much - my batteries were still at 94% before breakfast. It did get down to 45°F outside by 6:30AM.

I went for my usual walk before breakfast, taking my notebook and recording information for about 1/3 the sites. I'm sure many are grateful for the many shaded sites, particularly in the summer (although the sun is pretty powerful even now in November) but with the solar panels on the roof, I prefer unshaded sites. I could dig out the portable solar panel, but is is buried deep in the truck bed & the rooftop panels are, of course, there.

I used up 6 amp hours making coffee & microwaving a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich. Lots of sun, so there should be no problem making up what I used.

For a "Full" campground, there are a large number of empty sites. I suspect they label it full because there are no first come sites - all sites are reserved only through Recreation.gov. Since there is no phone service one can't call from the campground to make a reservation. I'm not sure if there is a 2 day forward limit on reservations at the web site like many federal campgrounds, but the place is pretty empty. Another reason might be because the sites are so inexpensive ($16.00, $8.00 with a pass) that people make reservations, change their plans, and don't bother to cancel the site. There are stickers on most of the site posts that have the reservation info so that is the case for many sites.

I reassembled the power tongue jack switch with the parts I found in the back of the truck & on the ground in front of the trailer, reconnected the wires, and it works! There is no plastic left to house the switch, so it is gaffer's taped to the remains. Hope it will do until I can find a replacement. I'd like a different power jack - the switches are proprietary, and obviously, in a vulnerable location.

I spent the rest of the day sitting outside reading. I didn't feel like a hike - maybe tomorrow.

Since I'm going to try to post this & yesterday's pages this afternoon, I have to announce what will be for dinner - a turkey sandwich and a salad.

Until The Next Internet Connection - 

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 25

 Sunday, November 14, 2021 - Rio Grande Village Campground, Big Bend National Park, Big Bend, TX - 150.7 Miles, 2,641.3 Miles for the Trip

The Damage

I stopped by the restaurant for another biscuits & gravy breakfast. I've enjoyed not having to cook for myself for the last two days (well, maybe not the chicken fried steak) but the rest was good.

I headed down US 385 doing 65MPH (the speed limit on the 2 lane road is 75MPH) and 45MPH once I hit the park border. I arrived in the campground around 12:30. I passed a Bigfoot trailer leaving Big Bend on the way.

I'm beginning to think Big Bend doesn't like me. During my 2019 trip my furnace died, cutting the stay short. This time the trailer hitch & I fought & it won. A number of folks have complained about the hitch on Escape trailers jamming. I've never had it happen until today. No matter how much jacking to take the weight off, wiggling the truck & trailer back & forth, etc it wouldn't unlatch. I eventually got frustrated enough to open the tailgate & get out my water pump pliers to try to pry it open. Unfortunately, I didn't quite latch the tailgate, it fell open, and destroyed the switches on the power tongue jack. In destroying them, it turned it on in the lift position. I got it stopped, but then had no easy way to adjust it up or down. There is a emergency direct drive adapter that fits a 3/8" drill. Unfortunately, my torque wrench / hammer drill that would have no problem turning it only takes 1/4" hex bits. I have a 3/8" drill, but it barely turns it. I finally used a couple of toothpicks to engage the contacts to use the tongue jack's motor. I did get the hitch unlatched, and the trailer is almost level. Tomorrow's project will be to try to reassemble the switch. I found the contacts & springs, so it might be possible. In any case, the plastic housing is totaled, so it looks like a new tongue jack is in my immediate future (well, here at Big Bend, not all that immediate).

I'm in site 82, a dry site on dirt that is sloped more than I'd like, and short enough that I had to park the truck next to the trailer. It has a tree that will provide morning shade, but nothing on the afternoon side. While that is good for the solar panels, it sure heats up the trailer. it is 87°F on my outside thermometer. While it is in the shade inside the ladder storage box, that end of the box is in full sun. I suspect is is closer to 80°F at 3:00.

I have a neighbor across the street that runs a construction generator much of the afternoon. I was under the impression that they were too loud for National Parks, but the good thing is he just shut it off. I feel sorry for the guy that is pulling into the site next to him - his front door is about 15' from the generator. It is at least 40' from me & is still loud. The good news is the folks that reserved his site showed up around 3:30 and he packed up & left.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I definitely need to do a walk around of the campground & add site information to my Campground Sites notes. I will be a good project for the cooler evenings since there are over 100 sites.

After setting up what was left of the trailer I put a chair in the shade and read for much of the rest of the afternoon. Flies are a pain, but with a light breeze, it is almost comfortable in the shade.

Dinner was a turkey Bubba Burger & salad.

Again, this won't be posted today. I'll probably stop over at the store tomorrow and post 2 days worth.

Until Then - 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 24

 Saturday, November 13, 2021 - Fort Stockton RV Park, Fort Stockton, TX, Day 2

The Diesel Pushers

I went to breakfast at the restaurant & had biscuits & gravy. After that I went for a walk around the park. The place is large, with many sites set up with electric meters for long stays. The area I'm in emptied out over the morning. I read - current book is the last of The Way series by Greg Bear - Legacy. I checked my email and got an update from National Grid; good news? - instead of my bill going up $50.00 per month over the winter, it will be only $36.00 per month. 

I checked data speeds for both Verizon & AT&T - Verizon 48.3Mbps down & 26.6Mbps up, while AT&T is showing 25Mbps down & 5.9Mbps up.

I headed to the showers around 3:00. 82°F outside, but I didn't fire up the AC - sticking with the fan since I won't have AC for the next week so I don't want to get used to it. Back to the showers - they have two sets, a couple in the bathroom at the office building, and at the other end of the park, a building with 6 individual rooms, each complete with toilet, sink & shower. Large rooms with large showers. A bench in the room and shelves in the shower. All in all, the best showers of the trip. The only thing missing is a floor mat in front of the shower. Rated A.  The ones at the office are smaller & not as nice, but have large shower heads.

Texas, at least Fort Stockton, favors large class A's, each towing a Jeep. While there is are a few smaller RVs, including even one smaller than mine (a Little Guy Max), most of the overnight sites are filled with huge diesel pushers.

Dinner was another trip to the restaurant, this time to try the country fried steak again. When I had it in 2019 it was tough, but it is one of my favorites, so I tried it again. Unfortunately, it was just as tough as the last time. I've had country fried steak all over the southwest (and southeast), and about half the time they are just short of inedibly tough. I know that the cube steak cut of meat they use can be tough, but I've also had it that was not. Oh well, I'll keep trying. 

Since I'm heading to Big Bend National Park in the morning, my "sign off" won't be "Until Tomorrow", but:

Until The Next Time I have A Data Connection - 

Friday, November 12, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 23

 Friday, November 12, 2021 -Fort Stockton RV Park, Fort Stockton, TX - 199.7 Miles, 2,490.6 Miles for the Trip

Site 21

I didn't mention it yesterday, but the altitude gain of close to 2000' did improve, ie cool off night temperatures. In the high 30's both nights. I got a fairly (for me) early start, leaving Pecan Valley around 9:15. I do recommend the park for a night or two. Not a lot to do in Junction, TX, but a relaxing location with shade at most sites. No laundry & the bathrooms could use an update, but they were clean & somewhat heated.

The entire trip today was on I 10. Rolling hills with many multi mile straight sections. 

I arrived at the Fort Stockton Walmart to pick up some supplies - while I'm here for 2 days, the stop after that is close to a week at the Rio Grande Village Campground at Big Bend National Park, and there isn't anything in the way of shopping (or cell service, FM radio, etc) within 60 miles of the campground. They do have WiFi available at the campground store which has a small selection of food, as well as showers, fuel & propane. The campground does not have hookups, although there is a parking lot at the store that does (and is usually fully booked). 

Here at Fort Stockton, I'm in site 21, a full hookup, somewhat close to level site (I had to make both a 1 1/2" inch adjustment both side to side & front to back) on gravel & very dried up grass. The site has a picnic table. I had the trailer leveled, and everything but the electric hooked up. Shouldn't have saved the electric for last - I flipped on the breaker & the handle moved, but the guts didn't. Went back to the office & they sent a staff member over who changed out the 30 amp breaker. Glad I didn't have to move to another site.

Dinner was at the Roadrunner Cafe - a restaurant here at the park. A somewhat limited menu mostly deep fried or grilled, and a fairly long (45 minute) wait. I had the popcorn shrimp & catfish, served with French fries & hush puppies. OK ,but nothing special. They also do breakfast, so I may wander over in the morning.

Until Tomorrow - 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 22

 Thursday, November 11, 2021 - Pecan Valley RV Park & Farm, Junction, TX, Day 2

Some of the Chickens

Happy Veteran's Day!

Another do nothing day. I checked my email and got a pleasant one from National Grid, my hometown utility provider. They announced that I can expect my bill to go up by $50.00 per month over the winter, and I won't even be home to enjoy the more expensive heat!

I took a couple of walks around the park and took a photo of a guy loosing his pants. The park is popular - only one or two empty sites by the end of the day, with a fair amount of turnover. There are a few long term residents. Photos of the Mooning Man & more of the chickens are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Back at the trailer I sat outside in the 72°F sunshine and watched the chickens gather around me. And I do mean around - that green thing in one of the photos is my chair arm.Around 4:00 a school bus pulled into the farm unleashing a hoard of kids. They had a great time checking out the chickens & goats.

Dinner was, as announced yesterday, the remains of the chicken & potato salad. Not the best potato salad (that was my mom's, of course) but edible.

Until Tomorrow - 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 21

 Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - Pecan Valley RV Park & Farm, Junction, TX - 234.1 Miles, 2,290.9 Miles for the Trip

Some of the Decorations

Two of the four RVs in the park left this morning, leaving 2 besides the host. A warm night - it didn't go below 62°F. 

Most of today's drive was on TX 21, TX 71 & US 290 with a short run at the end on I 10. I arrived at the Pecan Valley RV Park & Farm around 2:30. It is a pecan farm with goats and chickens. The chickens are good at getting out of the way as you pull in; the goats are in a pen. They also have a vegetable garden with the bushiest tomato plants I've ever seen.

I'm in site 2, a full hookup site that required leveling front & to the sides. There are a bunch of wood leveling blocks at the site. The owner meets you at the entrance & guides you to your site. $42.00 per night - I'm here for two nights. A pretty RV park with decorations all over the place. This is a replacement for the South Llano River State Park I had planned to stay in, but sent me an email canceling the reservation because of a hunt. Windy & hot - 82°F at 3:00. Since I gained almost 2000', I hope it will cool off tonight.

I didn't have to unhook, but because I am staying two days, and want to hit a store, I did. Otherwise, the front of the trailer was close enough that I could have leveled it while still connected to the truck.

After setting up, I checked to see if there was an internet connection - Good AT&T at 21.2Mbps down & 10.8Mbps up. I then went for a walk around the campground, checking out the garden, goats & the North Llano river that borders the campground. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After my walk I headed to Lowes, the grocery store, not the hardware store. A mid sized market with just about everything one needs (except I couldn't find vitamin E). I picked up some egg potato salad & a broasted chicken for dinner (and tomorrow's dinner as well).

Until Tomorrow - 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 20

 Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - Lake Somerville State Park, Somerville, TX, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 2,056.8 Miles for the Trip

The Vulture

I fired up my Verizon hotspot since it showed a bit faster than the AT&T for upload.  sure enough, it let me add the photo of the vulture so here it is a day late.

Another warm almost 80°F day. I looked at my journal for the same time in 2019, and it was in the low 50's for my stay here. I much prefer this!

A Class A pulled in this afternoon, bring us to 5 RVs in the 60 site park. There are a couple of other campgrounds at Lake Somerville; no idea how filled they are. I do remember that it was even emptier (for one day just me & the host) during my last visit.

I took a walk around both loops taking my notebook, but to be honest, any of the sites would be fine for my trailer. There are a few that I would need to unhook to level the trailer front to back, but I'd fit in any of them & the all have picnic tables & a firepit. My favorites are 38 & 57.

I spent the entire day reading - finished Jonathan Maberry's Ghost Road Blues. It is the first book of a trilogy that I liked well enough that i plan to read the next two books after I finish Eon by Greg Bear. That is the first book in another trilogy however I've already read the third book. 

Dinner was a grilled chicken thigh, more Brussels sprouts, and roasted potatoes.

Until Tomorrow - 

Monday, November 8, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 19

 Monday, November 8, 2021 - Lake Somerville State Park, Somerville, TX - 287.1 Miles, 2,056.8 Miles for the Trip

I tried to upload today's photo of the vulture, but after 5 attempts, I gave up.  It did make it, along with the site photo to toady's LakeshoreImages page, so you can see it there.

I don't often find campgrounds that are too "sketchy" for me, although I have passed up a few. Anacoco Lake Spillway RV Park, Leesville, LA is one I won't be back to. It isn't that the folks there are not friendly, but it is really a full time living trailer park that has seen better days. Much better advertised than the reality.

In any case, I headed out around 9:30 without a morning walk. The last time I went from the Leesville area to Lake Somerville, I went through College Station. I decided to take one of the more southern routes that took me through the town of Somerville where I had to pick up some prescriptions. The town is only 20 miles from the campground, but stopping on the way would save me unhooking. Big mistake - a much longer drive although it was listed as shorter time. It would be if I run on the interstates at 75MPH.  In any case, I did pick up my scripts.

Speaking of 75MPH, that is how you tell you are in Texas. The two lane LA 8 has a 55MPH speed limit. As you cross the border into Texas, it jumps to 75MPH.Same road although it is called TX 6.

All the sites in the campground are marked as reserved. According to a sign at the entrance, you must reserve your site on line. You still have to stop at the office and pick up a tag for your windshield. They have a night deposit, but if they allow someone to come in after the office closes there is no way to tell what sites are open. I'm here in site 36 for two nights - a paved site with a picnic table on a concrete pad & a fire ring. There is a tent pad. Water & electric for $20.00 per night plus a per person park use fee of $4.00 per night. Not too many campgrounds charge per person per night, but Texas does at all their state parks. The park is mostly empty, although there is no way to tell if there will be arrivals this evening. My spot from 2019 (site 38) was not available when I made the reservation in January - there is a class C in it. 

After hooking up the trailer I took a load of trash to the dumpsters (I couldn't find them at Anacoco Lake). There is a platform on the light pole at the dumpsters / dump station for a bird & a vulture of some kind posed for a photo.

A very warm day. it hit 78°F on the drive here, and it is still 70°F at 6:00. Feels great to be walking around in a "T" shirt!

Very slow internet on both AT&T & Verizon. AT&T 2.6Mbps down & .8Mbps up, while Verizon was 1.8Mbps down & 1.5Mbps up. Both were using outside MIMO antennas. There are 2 FM radio stations, the requisite country & western, and a public station that is neither news or classical. When I first found it they were playing oldies. I'm now listening to KBAQ on the internet (using Verizon on my iPhone, which is really unlimited, at least they have never slowed it down enough that internet radio didn't work). 

They call themselves KBACH, which, of course is 5 letters & as far as I know the FCC only allows 4, but it is Arizona. In any case, it is a 24 hour classical station that is the sister station of KJZZ, Phoenix's news & jazz NPR station. I'm a sustaining member of them since I listen to one or the other quite a bit. I also contribute to WXXI in Rochester, and my home town NPR station - WRVO. My philosophy is if you listen to a public radio station a lot, you should contribute.

After my walk I headed for the showers. I do remember that I rated them at a C last time I was here, and there has been no improvement. The "hooks" in the drying room are 3 10 penny nails pounded into a board, a low volume, fine spray shower head that cools the lukewarm water to cold by the time it hits your lower body. I suspect that if I put my medium volume shower head in place of the one they have the water would be warm enough, but they have a set screw locking the threads of the head. I suppose I could carry the proper sized allen wrench, but my self imposed rule is to only replace showerheads if they are hand tightened (and, of course, don't work). Still, all in all, it was far better than yesterday's option.

Dinner was a Saffron Road Chicken Biryani microwave meal. Very good, although I may be up at midnight downing a shot of Mylanta.

Until Tomorrow - 

Sunday, November 7, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 18

 Sunday, November 7, 2021 - Anacoco Lake Spillway RV Park, Leesville, LA - 161.1 Miles, 1769.4 Miles for the Trip

Crossing The Mississippi

A quiet, and fairly warm night. It didn't go below 45°F. I was up early due to the change back to standard time. By 8:00 I was up taking a walk around the campground. After breakfast I packed up the trailer, and headed out. The road looked better on the way out. That might be because the only part that was really bad was the 1/2 mile closest to Rt 61. Still, other vehicles stopped and pulled over to let me by in the narrow sections.

Most of the drive to Leesville was on good 2 & 4 lane roads, with a 65MPH speed limit on much of it. I took a photo as I crossed the Mississippi. That is one of my "tells" that I'm really on the way. The radio stations change to start with "K's" rather than "W's", and Alaskan Amber beer is available (although I didn't find it at my Walmart stop)! 

On the Louisiana side of the Mississippi, I grabbed a windshield shot of what was an abandoned casino that I ran a Red Cross recovery program during the aftermath of Katrina. We drove to many small towns that were evacuation areas for those hit by the hurricane handing out debit cards. It now appears to be a conference center. On the way to Leesville, I drove through 3 of the towns where we set up our program. A little scary driving a van carrying over $1,000,000.00 worth of debit cards, although we were told they were not activated until we turned in the day's results back at the Alexandria office. 

As mentioned, I stopped at Walmart in Alexandria, LA and filled the freezer plus a bunch of other stuff. I replaced the non functioning clock. I also topped off the gas tank at $2.99 per gallon, the cheapest gas of the trip. 

I arrived at the Anacoco Lake Spillway RV Park around 2:00. Not the fanciest place I've stayed. The person in the store couldn't find my reservation, but decided that if I found the place, I must have had one. $30.00 for water & electric. There is a sewer, but I didn't use it. I included a photo of the men's/woman's bathroom, outside & inside. There is a shower, but even I don't think I'll use it.

As to the lake, most of it is dried up, although the park's web page shows someone holding a catfish about half as tall as he is. According to one of the guys sitting in the store, the lake is drained every 7 years or so, but the part that is left is still full of fish. One of them caught a 10 pound bass yesterday.

There is another fiberglass trailer in the campground. It is a Boler, the granddaddy of all fiberglass trailers. In 2018 I attended the 50th Anniversary Boler Rally in Winnipeg, CA.

The rest of today's photos can be seen at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I walked around the campground then read for the rest of the afternoon.

Dinner was an Amy's Veggie Loaf, a vegetable based meatloaf (without the meat). Not bad for a frozen meal.

Until Tomorrow - 

Saturday, November 6, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 17

 Saturday, November 6, 2021 -Natchez State Park, Natchez, MS - 196.8 Miles, 1608.3 Miles for the Trip

Site 45

It stayed above the 30's overnight (just) but I had to get used to the difference between the electric heater and the trailer furnace. The furnace holds the temperature much closer (within a half a degree) but cycles far more often. I eventually reached the point where I could sleep through the start up. I had problems on the last trip with the furnace that has been solved, but I kept waiting for it to fail to ignite or short cycle. In any case, it worked well. I didn't do anything to reduce my electrical usage (well, I didn't run the electric heater) and by leaving time in the morning, I used 74 amp hours - the batteries were at 74%. With the 9 amp charge from the truck through the DC to DC converter, and a somewhat cloud covered solar panels, I was back to 94% by the time I arrived at the park. It only took three quarters of an hour to bring them up to full after I plugged in.

I spent almost all of the trip to Natchez State Park on the Natchez Trace. I got off at Port Gibson & switched to US 61 for the last 40 miles. Have to say that the 50MPH speed limit (I'll admit to setting the cruise control at 55MPH) on the Trace does wonders for gas mileage. 13.2MPG yesterday & 13.6MPG today. 

One problem with the directions from the park - Tate Road is not marked coming from the north, although there is a sign for John something State Park, which I have discovered is also the name of Natchez State Park.  I found the usual entrance blocked & headed a couple of miles back north on US 61 from the blocked entrance. Tate road gets my vote as one of the worst paved roads I've found. Very narrow, lots of potholes, etc. Glad there was only 2.2 miles to Wickcliff road, marginally better for 2.5 miles, and into the park. I'm in site 45, a long back in level concrete pad with water & electric for $16.05. Next door to the bath house where I'm doing a load of laundry - $1.00 wash & dry).

Since the bathroom is heated, I thought about heading for the showers while my clothes dried, but since I only have one towel & it is in the wash, that wouldn't work. Instead, I walked around the campground loop. While you can see Natchez Lake from many of the sites, none of them are on the shore. A fair number of empty sites, although many of them are reserved. Still, probably 4-5 open ones.

My clothes are in the dryer, thanks to the woman that removed her stuff. I had my laundry basket sitting on top of the dryer with a dollar's worth of quarters in it, and she put the money & clothes in the dryer when hers were done. According to her it takes two runs to dry, so I still have awhile to wait for my shower. I may skip it and do it tomorrow.

Dinner was a Turkey Bubba Burger & Tabatchnick Creamed Spinach.

Until Tomorrow - 

Friday, November 5, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 16

Friday, November 5, 2021 -Jeff Busby Campground, Natchez Trace Parkway, MS - 116.7 Miles, 1411.5 Miles for the Trip

Not quite as cold, but still in the 30's overnight. I went for a walk before breakfast & saw an interesting home built trailer. 

Home Built Trailer

I'm convinced that someone doesn't want me on the Natchez Trace. After spending a bunch of time getting my GPS to use the Trace to get to Jeff Busby Campground, I pulled out of Tishomingo State Park, turned left on route 25 and expected to get on the parkway less than a mile down the road. Not to be - there was a detour sign at the next 4 entrances to the parkway. At least the detour directions & signs were well done. I finally managed to hit the parkway, although there was another detour before I reached the campground. 

I pulled into Jeff Busby around 12:30. There were only 2 sites left; I grabbed site #1, although there is no site number visible from the road. I found the number on a post down near the picnic table. It is the first site in the loop, and all sites are free. Technically, I'm in the site backwards - I drove through the entire loop and pulled into the pull through site from the exit. That means I'll have to cheat and go down a short stretch of one way road the wrong way when I leave, but others have done the same and are further down the loop. There is a Casita in one of the other sites as well as a couple of R-Pods. The sites are interesting - the pull through sections are very long, sometimes with two sites in the same pull through. If the person ahead of you doesn't leave before you it is a long backing up job to get out. Others sites have nowhere to park your vehicle. Still, the price is right!

Site 1

There are bathrooms with flush toilets & heat in the center of the loop - no showers.

Not much to setting up - I turned on my LevelMate Pro, a device that lets me use my phone to see how far the trailer is from level front to back & side to side. By moving around the site I found a position that is level in all directions so I don't need to unhook. Since I'm only here for one night, and I'm by myself, I didn't even bother putting down the stabilizers. Since there are no hookups, all I need to do in the morning is lock the trailer door and put in the step. While it isn't all that cold at 50°F at 2:00, with no sun if feels chilly. 

There have been cars, vans & RVs hitting the campground but most of them have not been able to find a suitable site. A few squeezed into the longer pull throughs & will be backing out unless the people ahead of them leave first. Mine only has the one site, so it should not be a problem unless someone pulls into the other end - I'm near one end rather than in the middle.

While on the road I got a call from Natchez State Park saying they will be emailing directions to get into the park - the entrance road is under construction. From the instructions, I should be able to make most of the trip on the Trace, even though Matilda, my GPS sure wants to keep me off it. 

AT&T is showing 53.2Mbps down & 4.5Mbps up, so I didn't check Verizon, although in 2019 it showed usable data bandwidths.

I had a late lunch, so dinner was just a salad.

Until Tomorrow - 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 15

 Thursday, November 4, 2021 -Tishomingo State Park, MS - 170.7 Miles, 1294.8 Miles for the Trip

Site 10

The first frost of the trip - If I didn't need to run the truck while hooking up, I would have needed to scrape the windshield (I did throw an ice scraper in the truck when I left Oswego, although I hoped I'd never need to use it). 

I programed Tishomingo State Park in the GPS, and no matter how hard I tried, it insisted that the Natchez Trace Parkway did not exist. I ended up on part of I 40 and many secondary roads until I found the Trace on the GPS map. Added a way point, and it still skipped it. I did make it to the park, but not on the Trace.

I spent far more time than I should have needed, but did get the GPS to accept driving on the Trace to Jeff Bushy campground, tomorrow's stop.

I'm in site 10, a short, narrow site with drop offs on all three sides. Exciting to back into. It does have a stop at the back, and with the wheels within 6" of the stop the truck is off the road & I didn't need to unhook. That said, I almost needed to get out the ladder to plug the trailer power cord. The site is on a concrete pad with water & electric (although I didn't bother hooking up the water). $16.05 for the night. While technically, I have a picnic table & fire pit, both are well down the hill from the site. It would be nice in the warmer weather to set one's chairs up looking at the lake, but this time of year I'm going to stay in the trailer. I did add details to my Campground Sites page - the sites further into the park are easier to get into, and most of those on the left (going in) have picnic tables that are more usable.

My Picnic Table

After setting up I went for a walk to the end of the campground loop making notes on the sites. There are three bathrooms, however both times I've been here the one closest to the end of the campground loop was "Closed for the Season".

The bathrooms are heated, and the showers in the one across from my site looked OK so I went for one. Not bad for an older park. Large 5'-6" X 3' and clean shower and a changing area with a dry floor just about as large with a bench. Shower curtains on the entrance & between the shower and dressing area. Medium volume showerhead, plenty of hot water, and again, the bathroom was heated. The only bad - no hooks (although it looks like there once was one) and no shelf in the shower for your stuff. Overall an A-.

I am using AT&T on the modem - 33.2Mbps down & 4Mbps up. There is a Verizon signal showing 2 bars on my iPhone 7+ but as long I'll save Verizon for when there is no decent AT&T. The AT&T data modem is unlimited and they have never slowed me down, while the "Unlimited" Verizon slows down to 600Kbs once you hit 15GB. Don't you just love the term "Unlimited"!

That was about it for the afternoon. Much warmer here at 54°F, and a predicted 39°F overnight.

Dinner was a salad & evol Butternut Squash & Sage Ravioli.

Until Tomorrow -