Saturday, April 30, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Page 192

 Saturday, April 30, Jonestown KOA, Jonestown, PA - 124.2 Miles, 7,677.2 Miles for the Trip

Site 55

Site 54

A late start since we only had to do 124 miles. We did non interstates for most of the drive & arrived at the Jonestown KOA around 2:00. As usual, they had our reservations screwed up. This time they had mine, but no record of the Guido's. That is after I called them yesterday to confirm that we had sites next to each other since the last time we were here they put us on opposite sides of the campground. Eventually they found the Guido reservation and put them next door. We are in sites 55 (me) and 54 (the Guidos). Full hook up sites on gravel with a concrete pad for the picnic table for $67.00 per night. Very narrow sites - my sewer connection is under the neighbor's picnic table! The Guido's site is a bit wider.

After setting up we sat out and read for the rest of the afternoon. Temperature reached 72°F but even with lots of sun, with enough the breeze it feel a bit cooler. I headed to the showers before dinner, the Guidos after. The shower report? At best, a B. Small shower stall with two small built in shelves for your stuff & a low volume showerhead that pulsed to make it feel stronger. Fair size drying room with bench, dry deck (the small hole version that is easier on the feet) & 3 hooks. A shower curtain between the drying area and the shower. Biggest problem is the temperature adjustment. Around 1 degree of turn between full hot and ice cold. Tough to get a good setting.

Dinner was left over chicken, asparagus & salt potatoes.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, April 29, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 191

 Friday, April 29, Patapsco Valley State Park, Ellicott City, MD, Day 3

The Brighton Azalea Garden

Deidre, Bill, Ash, Guido, Karin, Zoe, Anne

The Dragonfly

Another cool night, 36°F at 7:00AM. Clear skies & after my walk & breakfast at 10:45 it was up to 52°F. I did some speed tests on the cell service here at Patapsco: Verizon 18.7Mbps down & 5.7Mbps up, while AT&T was 48.7Mbps down & 15.2Mbps up. Both services slow down quite a bit around dinner time.

We went to the Giant grocery store after lunch to pick up some supplies. Back at the trailer we took down the Clam & put away the ground mats in preparation to leaving tomorrow. After that we sat around and read until around 4:15. We then headed to Bill & Deidre's, then on to the Brighton Azalea Garden to meet Karin, Ash & Zoe and to check out the flowers. Many beautiful varieties of Azaleas. There were many prom goers in the park getting photos with the flowers.  Many more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After the park we headed to Anthony's NY Pizza & Pasta House for dinner. Anne, Guido & I shared a white pizza, while the others had chicken or pasta.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, April 28, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 190

 Thursday, April 28, Patapsco Valley State Park, Ellicott City, MD, Day 2

The Benjamin Banneker Farmstead

We were up and at them a bit early. I did my usual 8:30 walk (.71 miles) then got a text that Ken & Lorna would be here to pick us up in 1/2 an hour. A quick breakfast & coffee, then off to Ellicott City. We went to the Railroad Station Museum, then on to the Benjamin Banneker Farmstead.  More photos of both at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After the visit to Endicott City with Ken & Lorna, and lunch at the Mission BBQ, we headed back to the trailer. Bill & Deidre (Anne's cousins) stopped over. We sat around and talked for a bit, then headed to Panera Bread for dinner. I had soup & a salad, both far too large, but very good.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

2021-2022 trip To The Southwest, Day 189

 Wednesday, April 27, Patapsco Valley State Park, Ellicott City, MD - 155.1 Miles, 7,553 Miles for the Trip

Ash, Brian, Zoe, Don & Karin

We got an early start since we planned to avoid the interstates and still arrive at Patapsco Valley State Park by 1:00. We took US 522, US 15/19, and I 70 to the park, and arrived at 1:05. Other than a stop & go for a garbage truck, the traffic was good. 

We are in sites 416 & 417 (me in 417). Sites are on hard packed fine gravel with electric only, a picnic table & fire pit for $26.50 per night plus a $6.25 reservation fee. 

Ken & Lorna stopped by shortly after we arrived. We sat around and talked in the Clam. The skies were partly cloudy and cold - I don't think it made it much above the 50's, and is is suppose to go down to 34°F tonight. We even added the sides to half the Clam to cut down on the wind & keep a bit of the heat from a small electric heater inside. Anne took a photo of me & Ken.   It and many more are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Later in the day Karin, Brian, Ash & Zoe showed up for making so-mores and dinner (in that order; hey we are camping!) 

It was close to 8:00 by the time we finished cleaning up after dinner which was Caesar Chicken & orzo pasta, tomatoes & mozzarella cheese, and beans.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 188

 Tuesday, April 26, Lake Anna State Park, VA - 275.7 Miles -  7,397.9 Miles for the Trip

One of the longer legs of the trip, almost all of it on interstates. We are in sites 39 & 40 at Lake Anne State Park, water & electric sites on pea gravel that required a bit of leveling but I did manage to keep the truck hooked up. $53.44 per night.

Lots of stop & go on the interstates. We did hop off I 81 and drive through Wytheville on US 11 to get around a 5 mile back up, but the rest were just short stops for heavy traffic. We hit rain for the last quarter of the drive. Temperatures along the way were interesting, varying from 82°F to 53°F along the drive, back & forth with swings within a few miles. At one point we hit accumulated snow on the road. Not enough to be a problem, but a couple of inches on the sides & the center of the lanes. 

It held off long enough to set up the trailer, then has been light rain off & on from around 3:30. I did take a quick photo of the sites. The first photo is of an interesting pet in the site behind mine back at Hungry Mother - a Macaw. They also have 2 large dogs - a full house!

Anne & Guido in Site 40

Me in Site 39

The Macaw
I checked both AT&T & Verizon - AT&T showed 7.5Mbps down and 0Mbps up, while Verizon was 16Mbps down & 5Mbps up. By the way, I did check both at Camp Burson at Hungry Mother State Park yesterday, and AT&T showed no data connection (one bar on the phone) and Verizon 24Mbps down & 5.5Mbps up.

We didn't do much after setting up since it was raining and while our sites are next to each other, going between them is a bit of a walk in the rain. Because of the distance & weather, we decided to eat in our own trailers.

Dinner was a microwaved evol Portabella & Goat Cheese Ravioli Bowl.

Until Tomorrow - 

Monday, April 25, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 187

 Monday, April 25, Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA - 188 Miles, 7,122.2 Miles for the Trip

Me in Site 16

Anne & Guido in Site 17

Taking US 321 to US 411 near Maryville, then TN 338 & TN 66 to I 40 does let us bypass Knoxville, Pigeon Forge & Sevierville, but it adds almost an hour to the calculated trip. That said (well typed), calculations don't mean much through any of the fore mentioned places - all can have minutes, even hours of stop & go traffic. Very light traffic until the end of TN 66 & on I 40 / I 81.

We stopped in the Marion Walmart. I forgot that it is a like a "Neighborhood" Walmart in that the grocery section is very limited (no bakery, deli, or fresh meat) but there is an Ingles next door. 

We arrived at Hungry Mother, Camp Burson around 3:00. We are set up in sites 16 & 17 for one night, full hookups level sites on gravel for $52.39. They even have a separate paved parking area for a second vehicle (or your tow if you have a long trailer or tow behind a Class A or C.) A Dogwood tree is in bloom next to my site.

I got a chance to look at a Blackstone 17" griddle with a side burner. While I like the idea, it is huge. I'd have to get rid of far too much stuff to fit it in the truck.

Dinner was cheese brats & Bush beans with applesauce or peaches for dessert.

Until Tomorrow - 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 186

 Sunday, April 24,Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 4

We are going to start north tomorrow, and according to my weather app, wetter & colder weather. I guess it is not a good idea to get used to 85°F days. 

Some folks are pulling out today, while others will be leaving tomorrow. The campground is still crowded, although the site next to mine remained empty. I don't miss the folks that were there that left yesterday. Their dog barked all the time they were gone, and they left a bunch of outside lights that aimed at my windows on all night.

We did lots of reading & chatting, and planned our route out of Townsend to Hungry Mother to attempt to avoid Knoxville, Pigeon Forge & Sevierville. I finished Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea, and while I liked the book, there were two interesting mistakes. He determined that a sailer type must have been guilty because he/she used a bowline to tie the victim's hands behind their back (While sailors and many others, even theatre folks use bowlines, it is the wrong kind of knot to tie someone up with) and he seems to think that the Adirondacks in NY is a National Park.

I talked with my brother on Nantucket Island, and he has found a buyer for his house. He would like to retire to the Catskills in NY, and if the sale goes through, it will be the end of an era. I will miss the summer visits to the island, but it would be near impossible for him to live there on the amount of retirement income he will have available.

Dinner was a Butterball Turkey Burger & asparagus.

Until Tomorrow - 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 185

 Saturday, April 23,Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 3

Another quiet day at Townsend. We didn't do much of anything other than sit around and read & talk. Very warm at 85°F and partially cloudy skies. When the sun was out we hid under the awnings.

Tom, another Escape 21 owner stopped by to photograph the mounts I fabricated to tilt the solar panels, and a few other folks stopped by to chat. Other than that it was sweltering in the heat.

Dinner was easy Italian Chicken Skillet Dinner, from a recipe of Anne's and cooked by Don. All I did was eat.

Until Tomorrow - 

Friday, April 22, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 184

 Friday, April 22,Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 2

The Dancing Robin

A warm night, and an even warmer day. While the furnace did come on once for a short run around 7:00AM, that was it. By 9:00 it was in the 70's, and the day topped off over 85°F. 

We spent much of the morning sitting around. I did go for a walk around the campground, and making as many of the loops as possible, managed to do 3/4 of a mile. I took a photo of the stream going by the campground on my walk.

After lunch we headed to the local IGA for taco supplies, and stopped at a coffee house for a couple of bags of Sumatra coffee. I remember it being very good the last time I was here, hole it is as good as then. I am currently in the middle of a bag of ground Starbucks Sumatra, and ;like most of their coffees, they roast the beans too long. It is hard to turn Sumatra bitter, but Starbucks can do it.

Back at the trailers we did more reading, made tacos for dinner & talked with a Scamp couple. We had a robin keeping us company while sitting around.

Until Tomorrow - 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 183

 Thursday, April 21,Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN - 9.4 Miles, 6,934.28 Miles for the Trip

Last night was warm at 52°F; the furnace never ran. As usual, I did my eye drops at 7:00AM, went back to sleep, and woke up to what sounded like thousands of generators at 8:00. Actually, only around 10 of them, but still annoying. I stopped at the store for coffee during my morning walk. I spent most of the morning after breakfast reading. I finished Aaron Elkin's Dead Men's Hearts and a short story by Dean Koontz - Light Has Weight But Darkness Does Not. Started 16 Souls by John J. Nance.

A short move today. I arrived at the Townsend KOA around noon, and backed into site 87, a full hookup site on gravel that has different weekday / weekend prices. I got a discount for being with the Egg camping group. They took $48.57 off the $291.20 total for the 4 nights for an average price of $60.66 per night. No one ever accused KOAs of being inexpensive! 

Site 87

I got a rash of phone voice mails, text messages, and 250 emails, all for being away from the internet for just 4 days.

After wandering around the campground stopping to say hello to those already here, I headed back to the trailer to deal with the email & text & phone messages. I put out the hummingbird feeder - it might be too early for any takers, but the days are going to be in the 80's with 50°+ nighttime temperatures, so maybe there will be a bird or two.

The rest of the afternoon was spent sitting outside reading & waiting for the Guidos to arrive.

The Guidos got stuck in traffic for the last 24 miles or so, but pulled in around 4:00. We chatted for a bit, then headed to Riverstone restaurant next door to the campground for dinner.

I had their country fried steak smothered in brown gravy and onions. I know brown gravy is totally wrong for country fried steak, but somehow it works, at least here. Don had a open roast beef sandwich and Anne had a fried shrimp basket. Huge servings & my steak was tender enough to be editable, something that about half the ones I ordered out west were not.

Until Tomorrow - 

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 182

 Wednesday, April 20, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 4

Not quite as cold as last night, only down to 36°F by 7:00AM. I did my usual 8:30 walk around the campground wearing a ski hat & a filled jacket.

Clear skies, and it warmed up quickly, reaching the mid 70's by late afternoon. I spent lots of time sitting outside enjoying the good weather, reading and talking with neighbors. Two different Escape owners that are already at the Townsend KOA stopped by to say hello. 

Not much else going on. I suspect a number of folks are wondering where I am since I haven't updated my web page or blog since Saturday. I'm sure there will be a couple of hundred pieces of email waiting for me. Most are mailing lists for different companies that I should drop, but have not got around to it. I'll post this and the previous 4 pages when I get to the KOA.

There was enough sun to bring the batteries up to 95%. I collected 1.06kWh over the day, not quite enough to put the solar controller into the absorption mode & top off the batteries.

Dinner was the other half of the Mushroom & Truffle Oil pizza.

Until the Next Internet Connection -

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 181

 Tuesday, April 19, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 3 

While the rain is gone, it was a cold night (34°F at 7:00AM) made even colder by my Micro Air thermostat failing again. Like last time, around 3:00AM it froze (no pun intended) calling for heat, but not firing the furnace. At least this time I know how to do a temporary fix - I pulled the fuse for the thermostat, waited 10 seconds, put it back and the thermostat reset. Of course I then stayed awake most of the rest of the night watching it. The temperature setting number turns red when it calls for heat, then back to blue once the set temperature is reached. I watched it turn red every 10 - 15 minutes, and the furnace came on each time. I did fall asleep a couple of times, and finally got up around 8:45. The "permanent" fix last time was to update the firmware in the thermostat. Of course I can't check to see if I'm up to date here at the campground without an internet connection. By the way, I also discovered that I can't listen to the audio books I bought on Chirp. When I finished my current library audio book, Raymond E. Feist's At the Gates of Darkness, I tried to start one of my purchases on Chirp. I got a message that it could not connect to the App Store so the application would not run. I guess those audio books will be the last I buy at Chirp! An update - I tried some other apps, and all of them insist that I connect to the App Store before I can use them. It seems that my phone did an update last Saturday night & the apps all think it is a new phone & want to confirm that the apps on it are mine.

I went for a walk around the campground loops doing around nine tenths of a mile. Came back & the furnace was running. Since I was down to 70% on the batteries, I decided to go to the campground store for coffee. They filled my 24 oz mug for $3.29. 

After breakfast I dug out the portable solar panel. I'm parked under an evergreen tree that shades the trailer's solar panels for most of the day. I was collecting around 60 watts of solar from the 320 watts of rooftop panels. Adding the 300 watt portable brought me up to 180 watts during the rest of the morning, and as high as 304 watts during the afternoon, a long way from the 550+ watts I usually connected in the Arizona Desert. Even the bare branches of trees shade the panels enough to drastically cut the output. The batteries were back to 89% by 4:00.

I decided to put the old Dometic thermostat back in so I could get a decent night's sleep. Some minor problems changing back to the old thermostat. Dometic uses a very cheap terminal strip on the circuit board that fell apart in the storage box. I found the pieces & reassembled it & it is working. I'll miss the easy to change touch pads & bright display of the Micro Air thermostat, but I'm not convinced it is reliable enough to keep using. It has to be installed to do a firmware update, so I'm probably going to wait until I start my summer projects before trying to fix it.

I tried sitting outside for a bit, but it was 49°F, and even in the sun the light wind made it uncomfortable. The high for the day was at 52°F at 4:00.

Dinner was a Mushroom & Truffle Oil pizza from Krogers. Probably my last one since I'll be leaving the land of Krogers.

Until the Next Internet Connection -

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 180

 Monday, April 18, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN, Day 2

Abrams Creek

Lots of rain starting around midnight, and continuing off & on the rest of the night as well as all day today. The solar system provided less than 2 amp hours today. I did manage to walk around the campground loop during one of the breaks from rain, and even stopped by Abrams Creek for a couple of photos with the iPhone.

Not much else happening today. I went down to the park store to see if it was possible to log on to the park WiFi, and while the National Park Visitor WiFi shows up on my laptop here at the trailer, it isn't strong enough to log on to. At the park store I couldn't see it on the phone. If it stops raining tomorrow I might wander down to the store with the laptop.

Without the internet to read forums & journals, I'm reading more books. I finished the last book in Robert Westbrook's Howard Moon Deer Mystery Series - Walking Rain, and also started & finished Preston & Child's Diablo Mesa. While I usually enjoy the books they combine their talents on, this was not one of their best. The characters were just not all that believable.

The furnace has been making short runs during the day. It never got above 51°F and is at 46°F at 5:30.

Dinner was a Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu meal with a salad.

Until the Next Internet Connection -

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 179

 Sunday, April 17, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN - 143.4 Miles, 6,924.8 Miles for the Trip

Site B28

I drove the rest of TN 30; not much different than the eastern side of Falls Creek Falls, lots of switchbacks & hills. Eventually reached US 127 to I 40 for about 40 miles, then on to US 321 that goes to Townsend & the park. I made a stop at the Maryville Krogers, and their Walgreens to pick up a bunch of prescriptions. I arrived at Cades Cove Campground around 3:00, having gained an hour crossing into the eastern time zone.

I'm in site B28, a dry site with a mix of paved & gravel, a fire pit & picnic table for $12.50 per night with the 1/2 off senior discount. The site also has a large tent pad. I'll have to get used to living on the batteries & solar for the next 4 days, although the predictions were for cold, cloudy weather. I can't update them - no AT&T or Verizon coverage here at Cades Cove. There is a public WiFi, but unless I dig out my Ubiquiti WiFi Amplifying system, it is too far away to be usable, and, judging by the number of folks sitting around the parking area for the store staring at their phones, probably overloaded to the point of not being usable. There are a couple of weak FM stations - WUOT, 91.9 with a mixed format between news & music, and a classical station, WSMC at 90.5, so I can get my NPR fix. Still, no blogs, journals, or posting of my web pages until I drive 7 miles of twisty, narrow road to Townsend. Of course I do have the option of XM Radio, and, while I don't appreciate the amount of compression they use to squeeze more stations on their limited bandwidth, I have been listening to their classical channel quite a bit on this trip.

There is a bathroom with cold water (and no showers) one loop below mine - a short walk. Unfortunately, B28 is in the generator section of the campground. All the sites large enough for the 21 & truck in the no generators sections were already booked when I went looking for a site in December. A double unfortunate - I walked around the loops in the B section, and the only ones running generators are my neighbors, at least one of which is an open frame construction type. Cheap, but loud! Oh well, at least they can't run all night, only 8:00AM to 8:00PM. There is an Oliver Elite (the single axle version of their trailer) across from me and a Casita a few sites down the row. 

After almost setting up in site B29 I squeezed into B28. I walked to the ranger station to register - they didn't have a ticket for me, but eventually found the reservation.

Dinner was a Boston Market Chicken Parmesan cooked in the oven.

Until the Next Internet Connection -

Saturday, April 16, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 178

 Saturday, April 16, Falls Creek Falls State Park, TN, Day 3

A fair amount of rain overnight, stopping well before my 8:30 walk around the campground. While a few RVs left, most have stayed. I see lots of site tickets with a Sunday departure date. I may back the trailer enough to use my site sewer connection to dump rather than head for the dump station.

After my walk I say outside for a bit, then made breakfast. A reasonably warm morning at 61°F, but little sun. 

Around 2:00 I headed over to the Campground D bathroom for a shower. It is closer to my trailer than the one for our loop (A). A combined shower and drying room with no curtain between the areas. 3 hooks and a bench in the drying area, no shelf of any kind in the shower. A high volume showerhead & plenty of hot water. Biggest problem is typical - either runoff or spray soaks 95% of the drying are floor. Your pant legs are going to get wet when getting dressed. Overall, a C+.

Had a good time watching a guy with a triple axle 44' 5th wheel try to back into one of the sites. The combination of angles & trees made it impossible. Lots of tries. He even pulled into the site somewhat across from his & it didn't work. Finally backed down a pull through site to a lower section next to the baseball field, backed the trailer the entire length of the gravel road, and got back on the campground road. He left.

More sitting outside reading. Started the last book in Robert Westbrook's Howard Moon Deer Mystery Series - Walking Rain. Since I'm heading to Cades Cove tomorrow, I made sure all the books I ordered for the Kindle were actually downloaded to it. There is no internet connection (or FM radio) at Cades Cove so it will be XM Radio & downloaded Kindle books.

I moved inside around 4:00 when it got a bit cool without the sun to be sitting outside.

Dinner was an Amy's Chili Relleno Bowl.

Until the Next Internet Connection -

Friday, April 15, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 177

 Friday, April 15, Falls Creek Falls State Park, TN,Day 2 - 0 Miles, 6,781.4 Miles for the Trip

Falls Creek Falls

A cool night, 36°F at 7:00AM. Lots of sun & by my 9:00 walk it was OK with just a sweatshirt. A walk around loop A is .7 miles. The campground is fairly crowded, although there are a few empty sites. Most are fairly sloped, either up or down. I discovered that my site is full hook up, but the sewer connection is too far to the back of the site to be useful unless I parked on the back edge of the pavement.

After breakfast I read on line stuff for a bit, then sat outside reading #6 in Robert Westbrook's Howard Moon Deer Mystery Series.

I decided to head to the lodge to see if I could get the 25% senior discount. Not at the lodge - all the other Tennessee State Parks I visited do the refunds at the lodge. Here at Falls Creek Falls, you need to go to the Visitor Center. There I discovered that I made a big mistake making the reservation. Seems site A20 is a Premium site either because if has a sewer connection, or is closer to level than the rest of the park. In any case, it is $10.00 more per night than the site next door. On top of that, it is not eligible for discounts. So, it looks like I'm paying an average of $47.59 per night rather than $32 or so if I was next door. The fact that the sewer connection is too far from the trailer to be useful just rubs it in.

I did stop at two waterfalls on the way back from the lodge, Falls Creek Falls, the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies, and Piney Falls. I also forgot to do a site photo yesterday, so I included one today. Additional photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Back at the trailer I watched a new neighbor set up a travel trailer in a site so steep I wouldn't have tried to put my little trailer there, but so far it is still in place. He had to put the tongue jack all the way to the pavement to get near level.

I sat outside and read for the rest of the afternoon, starting #7 in the Howard Moon Deer series, Hungry Ghost.

Dinner was a Butterball Turkey Burger & a Salad.

Until Next Time -

Thursday, April 14, 2022

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 176

 Thursday, April 14,Falls Creek Falls State Park, TN, - 121.4 Miles, 6,781.4 Miles for the Trip

Henry Horton State Park was not going to let me go without getting in the last word. While last night started out warm & pleasant; I even sat outside for awhile after dinner, around 9:00 a cold front went through. One of the rangers went through letting us know bad weather was on the way. I checked my weather radar and a red band extended over a hundred miles north to south, and was heading our way out of the west at 60MPH. Definitely the worst weather image I've ever seen on the app. Tornado watches for the area & a tornado warning about 20 miles north of the park. My Verizon phone went off with a NOA alert, the second I've heard on my travels.

As the wind picked up (predictions for 70MPH - 80MPH) a bunch of us headed for the bathrooms. About 15 people in the woman's room. We could hear limbs cracking & falling, but nothing big hit any of the RVs and no trees went over. It was all over in 45 minutes, with medium to heavy rain for another 3-4 hours. By morning, the sun was out.

I packed up the trailer and headed out. I decided to take the southern route since I did the northern one last time. Most of it was 4 lane until I got to TN 30, a road not recommended for RVs. Of course my small trailer doesn't count! Not as twisty as US 64 in West Virginia, but I sure would not want to be pulling a large trailer or driving a big Class A. Many 15MPH switchbacks. There is an alternate to the park on TN 111.

I'm in site A20, a level side to side site that requires a 5" rise on the tongue jack. Just long enough to fit the trailer & truck. Water & electric for $47.59 per night (base price is $38.00 for Thursday, and $40.00 for Friday & Saturday with $19.77 tax & $5.00 reservation fee.) If I can get to the office I should be able to get the senior 25% reduction.

After setting up I headed to the Nature Center for a map and to walk the suspension bridge across Cane Creek to photograph Cane Creek Cascade. A lousy day for it; too much sun. The suspension bridge was closed the last time I was here. Quite the "thrill" walking across it - it sways with every step. If you look closely at the folks on the bridge you can see they are holding on to the mesh to keep from falling over. 

The Swaying Suspension Bridge

More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that I tried for some photos of some of the rapids in Cane Creek across from the George Hole Swimming area, but again with the direct sun they were useless.

Back at the trailer I added the photos to today's web page and started dinner.

Dinner was almost a repeat of last night - a grilled chicken thigh and baked potato. No beets.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 175

 Wednesday, April 13, Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN, Day 4 

Marcy Jo's

Another warm night with open windows and no need for heat. I went to Marcy Jo's Mealhouse & Bakery for breakfast. Not the most beautiful restaurant in Tennessee, but a great breakfast. I had my usual - Stuffed French Toast with scrambled eggs & sausage. Fast service & excellent food. One more picture at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Back at the trailer I read forums & journals on the laptop, listened to some light rain on the roof, then, after it cleared up, sat outside reading. A very warm afternoon with the outside temperature hitting 83°F. I ran the fan, but didn't fire up the AC since I spent the afternoon outside.

Dinner was a grilled chicken thigh a baked potato and the last of the beets.

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 174

 Tuesday, April 12, Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN, Day 3

Fairly heavy rain started at 7:00AM, and fell off & on most of the morning, stopping around 11:30. 

I got a call from my son saying the hot water was off in the house. The last time that happened, they had to replace the hot water tank (it is a system that uses the boiler to heat the water in the tank). Hopefully, it is something simple. 

Around 2:00 I headed for the showers. A high mounted (8') low volume, high pressure shower head. With the handle cranked as hot as possible, the water, by the time it got down to you, was still hot enough. A small soap dish in the shower, and a shower curtain. The drying room had 1 hook on the door and a single weird hook on the wall. A small bench. Even with the shower curtain most of the drying room floor got wet. I'd score it at a B-.

I decided to do add Henry Horton to my campground list. While all the sites are large enough for the truck & trailer, some are very sloped. The Reserve America site does note "slight slope" for some of the sites, but some listed as level aren't. 

After the walk around the campground I sat outside. No sun, but 71°F. I read for awhile, but a very light, almost mist rain started to fall. Not enough to show up on my radar app, but annoying. I headed back in the trailer, then tried outside again. This time I even saw a few bursts of sun, but it started cooling off to the point where I headed back inside.

I did wander around the campsite to take a few wildflower photos. 


More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Still reading Westbrook's #4 in the Howard Moon Deer Mystery Series, Ancient Enemy. His books in the series get better with each one. There are 8, so I'm about half way through. I'll probable stick with them rather than continuing to alternate with the 15 books in Westlake's Dortmunder series.

Dinner was the other half of the mushroom & truffle oil pizza. I still cannot get over the fact that on the box it says that this frozen pizza is made in Germany. Hard to believe that you can import them and still make a profit selling them. One suspicion that it might be true is the odd cooking temperature, 420°F. I converted that to Celsius expecting it to come out to a nice even number, but 420°F = 215.56°C. Who knows - all I know is I like the pizza, and won't be able to get it in upstate NY. Krogers is the largest grocery chain in the US, and includes Krogers, Bakers, City Market, Dillon's, Food 4 Less, Foods Co, Fred Meyers, Fry's, Gerbes, Ralph's, Smiths, King Soopers, QFC, Owen's, Jay C, Pay Less, Harris Teeter, Pick and Save, and a few more. So far, no upstate NY Krogers or affiliate that sells their Private Selection brand.

Until Next Time -

Monday, April 11, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 173

Monday, April 11, Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN, Day 2

Happy Birthday to granddaughter Zoe!

A warm night with the outside temperature never dropping below 62°F. A light rain started around 7:00AM, and it has been raining off & on since. It has been cooling as the day goes on. At 11:30AM it was down to 57°F. It did get up into the mid 60's during the afternoon.

A good day for sitting in the trailer reading. I finished Westlake's Jimmy The Kid & started Westbrook's #4 in the Howard Moon Deer Mystery Series, Ancient Enemy. I probably should stick with one or the other author, but they are different enough that switching back & forth works. The Howard Moon Deer series has an interesting concept - Howard is a highly educated Lakota that assists a blind detective. 

I took a break from reading and headed to the lodge to apply for the senior discount for my site. The discount was $41.93 for the 4 nights, so the per night cost is now $31.46.

I decided to do laundry since it was time to change the sheets on the bed, and wasn't a nice day to hang around outside. The Chapel Hill Laundry is about 3 miles from the campground after you drive the mile of campground road. A good mix on machines - $4.50 for a 3X sized commercial front loader and $.25 per 6 minutes to dry. 

I stopped at the Brooks Grocery in Chapel Hill on the way back to the campground and picked up some chicken thighs (boy has the price of chicken gone up because of the bird flu) and some salad stuff. The rain has stopped, at least for awhile. Even had some bursts of sun and blue sky during the afternoon. I looked up at the XM Radio antenna and it was bent at a strange angle. I know I didn't hit anything with it, so I dragged out my folding ladder and climbed up to see what was going on. It is mounted on a boating antenna mount that can swivel in 2 directions, and one of the bolts that let's it swivel side to side was missing the nut. Luckily, I found a matching nut in my bolts & screws bin, and was able to fix it.

Around 4:30 I "Skyped" with my granddaughter & her family to wish her a happy birthday & watch her open presents. I wouldn't have been able to do that at the last two campgrounds; the internet connections were too slow, but here it worked well.

Dinner was half a Private Selection Thin Crust Grilled Mushroom & Truffle Oil Pizza. Just as good as I remember it, although I'm hoping the truffle oil doesn't upset my stomach. I keep finding more and more things that I like to eat causing waking up in the middle of the night looking for an antacid.

Around quarter to five it started to rain again. 

Until Next Time -  

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 172

 Sunday, April 10, Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, TN - 129.5 Miles, 6,660 Miles for the Trip

A good drive on US 412 for most of the way to Henry Horton State Park. Mostly 4 lane with a few 2 lane sections. I stopped in the Columbia Krogers for some shopping, and while it looked like the best route would be to stay on US 412 to Chapel Hill, then south on Alt 31, Matilda, my GPS had me take TN 50 to Lewisburg, then north on Alt 31. I guess she wanted me to see the big city stores! The good news about the Columbia Krogers is they had a Private Selection Thin Crust Grilled Mushroom & Truffle Oil Pizza, my favorite frozen pizza, and one that I have not been able to find at the other Krogers I've visited.

Along US 412 I watched for a bunch of Oliver trailers on the east side of Hohenwald, TN where they are made. The last time I went through in 2019 I stopped and got a tour of an Elite II. This time I didn't see any trailers. I did drive 1 mile up the Natchez Trace to take a couple of photos of the Fall Hollow Falls. Very little water, but there are some spring wildflowers along the path to the viewpoint. More photos and the campsite photo at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Fall Hollow Falls

I got to the campground at 1:30, and the previous folks were still in my site. I don't quite understand their logic - they said check out time is 12:00, and check in is 4:00, which is true, but somehow they seem to believe that they can stay until 4:00. They said that people keep doing this to them. In any case, I'm in a nearby empty (so far) site waiting for them to pack up. They were out by a little after 2:00. Evidently, their attitude is not normal; they moved so far into their next door neighbor's site that they had to call the rangers to get them back on their site.

So, I'm now set up in site 31. Level side to side, but I had to drop the tongue 3 1/2" to level. I'll wait until tomorrow to drive over to the campground lodge to see if I can get my 25% discount on the site. So far I paid $167.76 for 4 nights, which includes $22.76 state & local taxes & a $5.00 reservation fee. That works out to $41.94 per night before any discount. The site is water & electric, with a short walk to the bathrooms & showers. 

I hope the weather holds- right now at 3:00 it is 76°F and sunny, but the predictions are for rain over the next 3 days. 

It is nice to be back to internet connections at a decent speed. AT&T shows 32.5Mbps down and 15.3Mbps up. 

After a 15 minute walk around part of the campground, I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting outside reading.

Dinner was a couple of Johnsonville Bedder Cheddar sausages & more of the beets. Looks like one meal left in the jar...

Until Next Time - 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 171

 Saturday, April 9, Pin Oaks Campground, Natchez Trace State Park, TN, Day 6

Another cold night, 38°F at 7:00AM, although it has warmed up earlier than yesterday, 50°F at 11:00AM. This morning I walked every loop in the campground. It ends up being 1.36 miles according to my watch. Fairly well filled with around 6 empty sites in the campground.

I finished Westlake's Bank Shot last night, but when I tried to download #3, the New York City Public Library Overdrive site wouldn't let me. What's more, it wouldn't let me log on to my account. Eventually I discovered that their system was down for the day. So, I ordered the Kindle version of Jimmy The Kid from Amazon. The Amazon Kindle version didn't download right away - both Verizon & AT&T have been terrible last evening so since I couldn't continue the series, I started another book already on the Kindle in a series I've been reading - The Howard Moon Deer Mystery Series, Book 3 - Red Moon by Robert Westbrook. I discovered in the morning that If I was willing to wait 4 weeks, I could have reserved a copy of Jimmy The Kid at the NYPL Overdrive site, but since they don't have all of the series, I'll have to purchase a few of them anyway. 

Because tomorrow morning is still predicted as cold (although at 38°F, far warmer than earlier predictions of 32°F) I hooked up to the truck, cranked up the stabilizers & disconnected the water hose. That will make it easier to head out in the morning.

Dinner was a chicken thigh & new potatoes cooked in the Instant Pot.

Until Next Time - 

Friday, April 8, 2022

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 170

 Friday, April 8, Pin Oaks Campground, Natchez Trace State Park, TN, Day 5

Definitely cooling down. 42°F during my morning walk, and a bit windy as well. Almost lost my hat. Not much warming during the day - it is only 44°F at 2:00. I spent most of the day reading in the trailer. Current book was the late Donald E. Westlake's The Hot Rock, the first of his books in the Dortmunder series. After finishing it I started book #2, Bank Shot. Thirteen to go in the series. I've read many of Westlake's books, but none of this series. 

Around 2:30 I walked over to the bathrooms & turned on the heater for the showers. There is a 30 minute timer for a gas fired strip heater aimed at the drying area & showers. At 3:00 I headed back for a shower. About typical for Tennessee State Park showers - at best, a C+. A small shower & drying area. High pressure, normal volume showerhead mounted high on the wall aimed away from the entrance & plenty of hot water. Three hooks in the drying area & a shelf - no shelf in the shower. The water runs out of the shower into the drying room floor soaking most of it. No bench in the drying area, although there is one outside in the hallway for the 4 shower stalls. Even with the 1/2 hour preheating, both the shower and drying room were cool, although the hallway with the bench where the heater was located was warm.

Dinner was a trip to the Natchez Trace Lodge. They had a seafood buffet, most of which was very good. I even had frog legs for the first time in years. I have to admit I don't make out as well as when I was younger at buffets; I used to go through the line a number of times, sampling everything. Now I'm lucky if I can do more than one plateful. A bit expensive at 18.96 with a sweet tea compared to my Quartzsite restaurants unless you eat more than I do!

Until Next Time - 

Thursday, April 7, 2022

2021-2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 169

 Thursday, April 7, Pin Oaks Campground, Natchez Trace State Park, TN, Day 4

A cold morning at 46°F during my morning walk, but at least the sun was out. The prediction is cool days and cold nights, getting colder as the week progresses. Sunday morning when I leave, the app tells me it will be 32°F and warming up into the 70's, but of course that is after I'm gone. Might be a good idea to unhook the water hose the night before. Hope Henry Horton State Park is a bit warmer. 

I rechecked my weather app this afternoon and the good news is that Sunday morning is now up to 34°F. The bad news is Chapel Hill, TN (the location of Henry Horton State Park) starts out at 30°F on Sunday morning, then warming up into the low 70's every day, but shows rain for the entire time I'm there.

I tried sitting outside. It worked for awhile, but when the wind came up & the sun hid behind clouds, at 58°F it was too cool to be comfortable. Instead, I made another loop around the campground, then headed inside. During the second walk I stopped in the laundry at the other bathroom building; the washing machine in that laundry now has an out of order sign on it just like the one in our bathroom laundry. So, no problem drying things here at the campground, but you can't wash in either building.

The campground is starting to fill for the weekend. While there are still a number of empty sites, there is a steady stream of RVs arriving. 

Dinner was a peanut butter & grape jelly sandwich & more of the pickled beets.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 168

 Wednesday, April 6, Pin Oaks Campground, Natchez Trace State Park, TN, Day 3

Another dreary day. I managed to just finish my walk as the rain started. It has been off & on all morning. I spent most of the morning reading forums or my current book - Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic. I also downloaded a bunch of books to the Kindle - I was down to one besides the one I am reading.

So far, the last couple of campgrounds have had plenty of empty space. Maybe I'll be able to travel next year without reservations, at least for weekdays. 

These are the kind of days where even the Escape 21 feels small. While I'd hate to be driving around a 40' Class A or towing a 5 slide 5th wheel, stuck inside because of the weather does make one wish for a bit more walk around room. 

One solution to boredom - a trip to the grocery store. Before I left I checked the propane cylinders, and baking yesterday's pot pie finally emptied the working tank. I put the empty in the back of the truck and headed to Tractor Supply & Food Giant. Propane was $3.65 (actually almost $4.00 with the 9.75% sales tax) a gallon for 4.5 gallons. I picked up some snacks at Food Giant as well as some turkey sandwich meat.

Back at the trailer, more reading until dinner time.

Dinner was a Barber Cheese & Broccoli meal, pickled beets & a baked potato.

Until Next Time - 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 167

Tuesday, April 5, Pin Oaks Campground, Natchez Trace State Park, TN, Day 2

Oliver Legacy Elite II

Another warm night, but this time with rain. We have had light rain off & on most of the night & morning. I did get time for a close to a mile of walking around some of the campground loops during a break in the rain this morning. 

I tried to pay my Verizon bill. I don't know if it was Verizon's website or the slow internet here at the campground, but it didn't happen. What's more, I ended being locked out of my account. To get back in it required my email address & zip code, which it insisted didn't match. I gave up. They sure make it hard to give them money! I eventually managed to pay my bill using the #768 number on my phone. About 20 steps pushing 1, but it is done. Now I need to find a way to get my account back on line. Later - I finally gave in and called the Verizon 800 number and ended up talking with someone that understood my problem & sent me a text with a temporary password so I could log onto the account. So, until the next time I try to pay my Verizon bill, everything is OK!

A very ugly day - still only 50°F at 3:00, and while the actual rain has stopped, it is very damp outside with heavy clouds. I spent the afternoon reading. Current book is Lions by Bonnie Nadzam. Her writing style takes a bit to get used to - it is filled with scattered threads & dialogue, but I like it so far. I thought it was about my sister's town of Lions, CO, and it might be, but quite different from the actual town that I visited.

Around 4:00 an Oliver Legacy Elite II fiberglass trailer pulled into a site across from me next to the restrooms. 

Dinner was a Marie Callender's Creamy Mushroom Chicken Pot Pie.

Until Next Time - 

Monday, April 4, 2022

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 166

 Monday, April 4, Pin Oaks Campground, Natchez Trace State Park, TN - 182.4 Miles, 6,530.5 Miles for the Trip

Site 23, Pin Oaks Campground

A quiet & warm night - the trailer stayed around 62°F without added heat until sunrise, and then only a couple of short runs. After breakfast I packed up the trailer & headed for the dump station. They have a tower type washing hose, but is it not connected to anything. The is a standard faucet about 2" off the ground. I did managed to rinse my sewer hose after dumping, but it wasn't easy.

I started the trip on I40, including crossing the Mississippi, then hopped on US 64 at the first opportunity. Gas is a bit more in Tennessee with lots of $4.09 signs, but I found a station near Lexington, TN that had it for $3.79 so I filled up. After that I drove by one selling for $3.74, but that would have only saved me a dollar filling a half tank, and I know if I skipped the $3.79 station I wouldn't find one near that!

I'm in site 23 at the Pin Oaks campground. Tennessee gives seniors a 25% discount, but I have yet to find away to get the discount on line. I stopped at the lodge & restaurant and they gave me the discount as well as a site tag. Full hookups on gravel with a fire pit and charcoal grill. I needed to raise the passenger side 2 1/2 inches, and while the tongue would have been level, I unhooked because I'll be here for a week. 

The campground is divided into 3-4 loops, as well as 4-5 cabins. Some of the sites are on the lake. While there is a laundry in the bathroom across from my site, the washer is out of order. 

While there is both AT&T & Verizon coverage here, both are fairly slow. AT&T is the fastest download at 6.9Mbps down & .1Mbps up, Verizon is faster at uploading at 2.6Mbps down & .3Mbps up. I tried Verizon on internet radio (the only FM stations I found are either religious or very local) and as usual, Verizon drops the connection constantly. AT&T has had no problem over the afternoon connecting to KBAC, a classical station in Phoenix, AZ. 

I sat outside listening to an audio book - The Trade of Queens by Charles Stross. It is part of a series (book 6 of the Merchant Princes) I've been listening to over the last year or so. I'm a bit behind on it because about the only time I usually listen to audio books is while driving or on my morning walk. The walks at Village Creek have been shorter than usual, and since it is a library loan, I only have 2 weeks left to listen to it. Listening to an audio book takes me far longer than reading one.

Dinner was leftover chili that has been in the freezer since January.

Until Next Time - 

Sunday, April 3, 2022

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 165

 Sunday, April 3, Village Creek State Park, Wynne, AR, Day 8

I got chased by a dog on my morning walk. I'm not sure why, but for some reason dogs don't like me, the bigger the dog the more dislike. All I did was walk down the road and out he came from behind a trailer. The only "owner" was a kid not much bigger than the dog, so he had a problem hauling it home. Somehow, the leash law doesn't apply? In any case, lots of growling, barking , but this time no bite.

I stopped by the bathrooms, and the poor design sure shows up today. All the floors are mud covered. Since shower water runs out of the showers & covers the entire bathroom floor, anyone walking into the bathrooms brings enough dirt on their shoes to turn the wet floor to mud.

I sat outside reading for the late morning & most of the afternoon. Lots of folks packing up & leaving throughout the day - check out is 3:00. 

Around 3:30 I decided to head for another shower. I used a different stall from the first time hoping it would be better. Nope - no toilet paper, both the shower & drying area (the rest of the bathroom) drains were clogged, so there was 1/2" of water on the floor by the time my shower was done. Definitely poorly designed & maintained.

Dinner was Saffron Road Chicken Biryani with Basmati Rice.

Until Next Time - 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 164

 Saturday, April 2, Village Creek State Park, Wynne, AR, Day 7

A little warmer overnight - around 44°F at 7:00AM. A Casita (a fiberglass trailer made in Texas) pulled in late last night. I didn't get to say hello - they pulled out while I was getting dressed around 8:30AM. I did my morning walk between light rain falls. I met a couple with little kids coming out of the upper loop bathroom. They asked about the bathrooms across from my site - the upper one doesn't have any hot water. Quite a few of the RVs & tents in the park are staying through the weekend. 

After breakfast I did a bit of on line reading. Verizon is very slow this morning. Usable, but a 10 second wait between each page load when reading forums. I finished C. J. Box's Shadows Reel. Not quite as good as most of the previous books in the series, but still a good read. I also read a free short story Amazon provided by Margaret Atwood - My Evil Mother. I don't usually read short stories, but this was OK. Started and finished Caper by Lawrence Sanders. I've read and enjoyed many of his books, but this is one I missed.  It has a 1987 copyright, and it is interesting to see the effect of lack of computers, cell phones, etc has on the plot.

After 3:00 it was warm enough to site out in the sun. A light breeze, which was useful for keeping the black flies at bay.

Dinner was a Butterball Turkey burger & pickled beets.

Until Next Time - 

Friday, April 1, 2022

2021 - 2022 Trip To The Southwest, Day 163

 Friday, April 1, Village Creek State Park, Wynne, AR, Day 6

Hope you made it through April 1st without someone pulling a "April Fool's" on you!

A cold night, down to 35°F at 7:00AM. I even wore a coat on my morning walk. Most of the overnight folks left before or during my walk. There are three of us in the park, me, my neighbor in a Lance, and a camping van in the upper loop.

A couple of tent campers came in during the early afternoon. I finished listening to Charles Stross's Quantum Of Nightmares, and started listening to John Le Carre's Silverview. As to reading, the current book is the latest C. J. Box Joe Pickett series, Shadows Reel.

The campground is as crowded as I've seen it this trip. 10 RVs or tents other than me. Still way less than half full. There are 41 sites in Camp Area A.

Dinner was a microwaved evol Portabella & Goat Cheese Ravioli meal.

Until Next Time -