Sunday, March 31, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 168

Sunday, March 31, 2024 - Cherry Hill RV Park, College Park, MD, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 6,736.6 Miles for the trip

I listened to the Weekend Edition Sunday morning puzzle before climbing out of bed. I hope Will Shortz comes back soon. While the stand in puzzle master is OK, somehow it isn't the same without Will.

After breakfast I headed over to Brian & Karin's. The girls showed me the stuffed animals in their Easter baskets, then we hid candy filled Easter eggs for the girls (a tradition that has been going on for years).

Easter Basket Stuffed Animals

Hunting Easter Eggs

Hunting Easter Eggs

After some relaxing around the house we had a barbecue salmon lunch, hid eggs stuffed with money, another long time tradition. Even though the girls will both be teenagers starting when Nova turns 13 next week, they still enjoy the search for eggs.

We went for a walk along Sligo Creek, then back to the house.

Sligo Creek Walk

I headed out around 4:00 so I could start the process of packing up the trailer. It is suppose to be raining in the morning, so I did as much outside stuff as possible.

Me & Karin

After packing up the trailer I headed for a shower (much warmer at 64°F today) then snacked on cheese & crackers - still full from lunch.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 30, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 167

Saturday, March 30, 2024 - Cherry Hill RV Park, College Park, MD, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 6,736.6 Miles for the trip

The traffic on I 495 was much quieter this (Saturday) morning; yesterday is was a roar starting at 5:00AM. Still a bit cool during my morning walk at 40°F, but it is warming up quickly with lots of sunshine. 

I checked the speed of AT&T - 65.2Mbps down & 17.1Mbps up. Since I have unlimited AT&T I am using it and didn't check Verizon. 

I also have a shower report - Bathroom #1 is not too far from my site. 5 showers, one of which is handicapped. Separate drying area with a bench & lots of hooks, a shower curtain between the shower & drying area, soap dish in the shower & medium volume standard shower head. Plenty of adjustable hot water. One suggestion - when it is cool, don't choose the shower that is under the ceiling fan. Not sure why it is running when it is 50°F out, but it sure cools you off once you get out of the shower. I'll give it an A.

I spent the morning reading - current book is Murder At The Breakers by Alyssa Maxwell. The first in the Newport Mystery series. Mysteries taking place around the Vanderbilt family in Newport around 1900. 12 books in the series. I have already read book #4 and this is another series that probably should be read in order.

We went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. I had a huge chicken burrito that half of which came home and became dinner. Nova was the only one to order dessert - deep fried ice cream.

Nova's Deep Fried Ice Cream

After lunch we headed to the park & played a round of miniature golf. Since we didn't keep score, no one won. A couple of close ones, but no holes in one.

Miniature Golf

Stopped at the cafe & arcade for coffee and a game or two of Skeet Ball.

After that I headed for the trailer & dinner while Karin & family headed home.

Dinner was left over Burrito.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 29, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 166

Friday, March 29, 2024 - Cherry Hill RV Park, College Park, MD, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 6,736.6 Miles for the trip

While a cool morning at 37°F, there was lots of sunshine. A little windy, but overall a nice day. I took a photo of some of the cherry blossoms (it is called Cherry Hill RV Park); not the Tidal Basin, but pretty enough:

Cherry Blossoms

I had breakfast at the cafe during my morning walk. Back at the trailer i read for awhile, then Karin called and she came to the park. Ken Stone, one of the technical directors at SUNY Oswego during the early years (and my replacement when I was drafted) is living in the DC area and he also stopped by. We went to the cafe for lunch, and sat around and chatted for a couple of hours. Since the place wasn't all that busy, they staff didn't seem to mind.

After that we headed back to the trailer, Ken took off, but Karin took a photo before he left.

Jon & Ken

After that I headed to Brian & Karin's, hung around for a bit, watched them do some spring planting, then headed back to the trailer. Very heavy traffic on Piney Branch Road between Karin's & I 495, but I 495 wasn't bad at all. 

Dinner was a El Monterey Chicken Quesadilla.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, March 28, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 165

Thursday, March 28, 2024 - Cherry Hill RV Park, College Park, MD - 103.9 Miles, 6,736.6 Miles for the trip

The rain finally stopped around midnight. While there were heavy clouds this morning, no rain while I hooked up. Still cool at 47°F. 

Most of the drive was stop & go on I 95 once you got near DC. I'm in site 317, a "deluxe" full hookup site with a fire pit, picnic table & patio table with 4 chairs on gravel that needed 1" side to side, nothing on the tongue. It should be deluxe - $101.00 per night for 4 nights. Lots of traffic noise from 495 two rows of sites away. Since I expect to drive to Karin's house, I unhooked the truck. 

Site 317

After setting up I headed to Brian & Karin's. Not a bad drive - about 9 miles, 3 on I 495. Their neighbor is away for the week (they share a driveway) so I could even park in the driveway without trying to make room for 2 cars. I backed in which made it far easier to get out. We hung out until Ash's haircut appointment, then back to the RV park. Still no sun, and only 50°F. I was hoping for better weather for sitting around outside, but it is what it is. 

Dinner was an El Monterey Chicken Enchilada bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 164

Wednesday, March 27, 2024 - Lake Anne State Park, Spotsylvania, VA - 273.2 Miles, 6,632.7 Miles for the trip

A long drive in light to heavy rain for most of the trip. I made a quick stop at a Food Lion about 10 miles from the park, found my card still worked even though I haven't used it in years, then finished the drive. Lots of 2 lane roads on the last 40 miles into the park. I arrived at the park around 2:15, stopped at the office & found that normal arrival time is 4:00. They checked that the site was ready & let me in. I'm in site 39, a large and long water & electric site on gravel that is very wet with shallow ruts caused by the truck & trailer tires. Level enough that I didn't unhook or use the side to side levelers (although I am off side to side by a 3/4".) $53.44 for the night. The site has a picnic table & fire pit. The Virginia ban on fires has been partially lifted - you can have a fire between 4:00 & 10:00. 

The rain actually stopped as I started setting up the trailer, although it is predicted to continue off & on all night & tomorrow, so I only hooked up the electric and will use the fresh water tank & pump. The 30 amp connector was questionable (the plug wouldn't stay in the connector) so I used my 50 amp to 30 amp adapter to make the connection to the 50 amp connector.

Site 39

I checked out the showers, and passed. I remember them from the last time I was here - barely lukewarm water & a soaked drying room floor. Four individual showers although 2 have out of order signs (they were also out of order 4 years ago). No comment on the lack of room heat from last time so it must have been warm weather; there doesn't appear to be any heat in the bathroom or showers. Today it is 47°F so a lukewarm shower in a cold room doesn't sound like much fun.

I finished listening to The Hill House by Blair Howard as I pulled into the park so I'll need to find a new audio  book. By the way, this book is, at least for me, an example of the wrong narrator. The "kindly" voice just doesn't fit the style of the book. I also finished reading Donald Westlake's The Spy In The Ointment, and started Murder at Rough Point by Alyssa Maxwell.

I did an internet speed check - AT&T shows 13.1Mbps down & 0Mbps up, while Verizon shows 7.8Mbps down & .7Mbps up. Right now I'm on AT&T and this page had no problem uploading even at 0Mbps. It did take over a minute to upload the site pictures.  I had to switch to Verizon to post the Blogger page (this page).

Even though the rain has stopped, I didn't sit outside - at 47°F I'll stay in the trailer.

Dinner was a Saffron Road Chicken Tikka Masala bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 163

Tuesday, March 26, 2024 - Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA - 169.8 Miles, 6,359.5 Miles for the trip

We had a high wind warning, 30 - 40 MPH with up to 80MPH gusts for the area. Even got a text from the campground suggesting putting outside stuff away. There were some blasts of wind throughout the night, although not steady. A few small branches down including a few that landed on the trailer, but nothing broken. Rain started around 6:00 AM, and hasn't stopped all the way to Hungry Mother. A cold day, while it was 55°F when I left Townsend, it is now 42°F here at Hungry Mother at 2:30. 

When leaving Townsend, if I'm heading south, I always go through Maryville to get to I 40. Going north it is a bit out of the way, but the alternative is going through Pigeon Forge. TN 321 is a twisty, hilly, narrow road between Townsend & Pigeon Forge, and Pigeon Forge is a traffic nightmare any time of day. I took it anyway, and can't believe how busy TN 321 going towards Townsend was; not ban in my direction. Pigeon Forge was a zoo as usual. Still, I made it through and arrived at Hungry Mother around 2:00. 

I was originally scheduled for site 1 at the Creekside campground, but with the cold & lousy weather I called the park and got it changed to site 13 at Burson campground, a little easier to get to. It is a level site (I didn't need to unhook) on gravel with a picnic table & fire pit (although even with the rain there is a fire ban for the park). Water & electric for $40.00. Even though it was only 2 hours since I made the change, there was the usual information packet in the outdoor rack at the closed office. For a one night stop they sure give you lots of information. A business sized envelope packed 3/4" thick with all kinds of stuff about the area & park (as well as a mirror tag).

Site 13

With the cold & rain (yes, it is still raining, even a bit of thunder) I spent the afternoon in the trailer reading. I finished The Exchange of Princesses by Chantal Thomas, and started Donald Westlake's The Spy In The Ointment. On the drive I finished listening to Don Winslow's Satori & started The Hill House by Blair Howard.

Dinner was A Boston Market Chicken Pot Pie.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, March 25, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 162

Monday, March 25, 2024 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 6,189.7 Miles for the trip

Warmer last night at 45°F. Not as much coming & going in the campground this morning as yesterday. I met a fellow camper that has spent time in upstate NY salmon fishing on Lake Ontario & the Salmon River. 

Not a lot going on today. It is still cool at 54°F at 11:30 so I'm reading in the trailer. I did do my usual morning walk.

It warmed up enough to sit outside for a bit, but then the cloud cover got heavier & the wind was enough to chase me back inside. I spent the afternoon moving back & forth between the outside & the inside. 

Around 3:00 I picked up 2 pounds of Sumatra coffee at the Artistic Bean. While I'm not a coffee snob, I do like Sumatra & grind it fresh each morning. My favorite supplier is Syracuse Restaurant Supply in Syracuse, NY, but the roasting at the Artistic Bean is pretty good & I'm long out of the Syracuse beans. After running out of the Syracuse Restaurant Supply beans I've been using Albertson's Signature Select Whole Bean Dark Roast Sumatra. It is OK, but not as good as either Syracuse or the Artistic Bean, and the last of the last bag made this morning's coffee.

I hooked up the trailer.  The tongue is about 1/2" high, but since it is suppose to be raining when I leave tomorrow, I'd rather do as much as possible today.  I even unhooked the water line - much easier to roll up the hose when it is warm.

I don't know what they did to fix TengoNet, but tonight the ping & jitter are excellent at 23ms & 6ms respectively, and the speed is 24Mbps down & 5Mbps up.

Dinner was a salad with grilled chicken.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, March 24, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 161

Sunday, March 24, 2024 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 6,189.7 Miles for the trip

While it didn't freeze overnight, at 7:00AM it was colder outside than it was in my refrigerator at 34°F. I was late getting out of bed since I like to listen to the puzzle on Weekend Edition on NPR, and now that I'm back in the eastern time zone it doesn't happen until after 8:30AM. 

Lots of sun, but still cool during my morning walk. I saw another Oliver in a row over from my trailer; they left this morning. 

I put the new battery in the AT&T Netgear cell modem, not that it did much good. While the back now fits & it is charging, AT&T is pretty near useless here in Townsend, and Verizon isn't all that much better. I did stop at the office for the password for TengoNet - it is free to campers, and is the most usable internet connection here - 17.3Mbps down & 3.3Mbps up. It still has a terrible ping & jitter, but not as bad as AT&T or Verizon.

I spent most of the day in the trailer. A bit cool to sit outside at 55°F at 2:00, although there are folks doing it. 

Around 3:00 I headed for the showers. Six unisex showers + a handicapped one. The standard showers are large, have a drying room with a bench & 3 hooks. A shower curtain between the shower & drying area. Plenty of adjustable hot water with a large standard shower head & a 3 shelf unit hanging from the shower head. Overall one of the best of the trip. An A.

I did move outside after my shower; back to reading The Exchange of Princesses by Chantal Thomas. On the edge of comfortable at 61°F. In the sun it was fine, but if a cloud moved in and the wind picked up not so much.

Dinner was a Butterball turkey burger & a salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 23, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 160

Saturday, March 23, 2024 - Townsend KOA, Townsend, TN - 156.7 Miles, 6,189.7 Miles for the trip

Not as warm as last night, and it rained off & on throughout the remainder of the day & all night. It did stop in time for me to pack up the trailer, and although it was cloudy the entire trip to Townsend, no rain so far. Cold at 51°F at 4:30. I also went through a time zone change, now on eastern time.

I'm in site 75, a gravel water & electric site with a picnic table & fire ring. Needed 2" left to right & a drop of 1" to level the trailer. After hooking up & settling the bill, I headed to the IGA for some supplies. $63.00 with the KOA discount per night for 3 nights. I used up a bunch of KOA points to drop the actual bill to a total of $94.58.

Site 75

The internet here is very slow - Verizon is 6Mbps down & .1Mbps up. I'm using it now. I couldn't do a speed test on AT&T. If things get desperate, I can go on TengoNet. Since the site photos posted, I guess it may work.

Dinner was a grilled chicken thigh & corn on the cob.

After dinner I did a couple of loads of laundry. $2.00 wash & $1.75 to dry. They require pods rather than liquid or powdered detergent.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 22, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 159

Friday, March 22, 2024 - Falls Creek Falls State Park, TN, Day 3 - 0 Miles, 6,033 Miles for the trip

A warm night at 53°F. While there was a bit of sun for my morning walk, by noon the clouds settled in and the wind picked up. I spent the day reading, some outside, the rest in the trailer. I finished John Verdon's On Harrow Hill, the Dave Gurney #7 book, and started #8, The Viper. He is another author like Dave Berry - too many implausible solutions to plot problems, but since the series takes place in the Catskills of NY in areas I'm familiar with, I still enjoy reading them.

I did discover another fiberglass trailer on my walk this morning - an Oliver. Appropriate since they are made here in Tennessee. A four season trailer that is well made, but with limitations that keep me from being interested - a small refrigerator, and a white fiberglass interior that makes me feel like I'm sitting inside a refrigerator. Still, if you want fiberglass and winter camping, the choices are pretty much limited to the Oliver or a Bigfoot.

An Oliver

Still many empty sites even though it is the start of a weekend. There are a couple of new arrivals, but there were more leaving. The folks across from me in a large 5th wheel also arrived in a SUV which they left running for the 2 hours. Just a couple with a baby, but they got 3 kids bikes from a rack on the SUV, and finally headed out. I suspect his wife went to pick up the kids after school.

That was about it for the day. While it made it up to 65°F, it is looking more & more like the predicted rain is on the way, so I hooked up the trailer. I will still have a bunch of stuff to do to get out of here in the morning, but when it is raining, every bit of advanced packing helps.

Light rain started around 4:30.

Dinner was a Guy Fieri Chicken Enchilada Bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, March 21, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 158

Thursday, March 21, 2024 - Falls Creek Falls State Park, TN, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 6,033 Miles for the trip

I was up a little early to make reservations for Bolerama in July at the Long Beach Conservation Area in Ontario, Canada. I managed to get 2 15 amp electric sites next to each other (the Guidos are traveling with me). They did have 2 30 amp sites, but if it is wet they are likely to be under water so I stuck with the lower powered sites. The last time we were at the park we managed to run the air conditioners on 15 amp sites, so we should be OK.

Around 11:00 I made a round of some of the waterfalls in the park. I started at the Nature Center where Cane Creel Falls and the Cascades are located. As far as I'm concerned, the Cascade is a waterfall, but that is what they call it.

Cade Creek Falls

The Cascade

I prefer shooting waterfalls in cloudy or overcast weather since bright sun tends to create highlights that burn out. Even with the wide dynamic range of the Nikon Z8, anything in direct sun is a bit burned out. Unfortunately, clear skies today. One very nice thing with the Z8 - the electronic viewfinder has enough gain the even shooting through a 6 stop ND filter a usable image is in the viewfinder or rear monitor. Much nicer than having to remove the filter to compose when shooting with the D850. On the other hand, I find the end result is a bit harsher with the Z8 compared to the D850. In any case a couple more - Falls Creek Falls, which is described as the highest single drop east of the Mississippi, And Piney Creek Falls:

Falls Creek Falls

Piney Creek Falls

You can compare the images from a 2020-22 trip. (2 journal entries)

It went down to 38°F last night but the morning is sunny & by 10:00 it was already up to 48°F. By 1:00 it was up to 63°F. The high for the day was 65°F.

Dinner was at the park restaurant - Fish & Chips.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 157

Wednesday, March 20, 2024 - Falls Creek Falls State Park, TN - 128.5 Miles, 6,033Miles for the trip

Near the Henry Horton park store there are two birds of prey cages - a Red Tailed Hawk & A Barred Owl. Sorry for the chicken wire, but it is what it is:

Red Tailed Hawk

Barred Owl

I followed the GPS although I passed a small sign for Falls Creek Falls State Park about 40 miles before I got here. I don't know if it would have been a better route, but the one I took was 4 lane most of the way from McMinnville to the park on US 70S & TN 111 with one exception - a 9 mile very curvy, hilly, switchbacked narrow 2 lane section just before the park. Not sure if taking the other route would have missed the bad section. No problem with my little trailer, but someone with a 40' trailer would not have been happy & I met a 18 wheeler that had a tough time with the switchbacks.

I'm in site 73, a bit difficult to find, but a back in on asphalt that is level front to back but needed 3" correction side to side. Water & electric for an average of $27.64 per night with a 25% senior discount, taxes & reservation fee - I'm here for 3 nights. No water at the site. I met a park employee that said it would be back on in about 4 hours.

Site 73

I did a speed test for AT&T, Verizon & the park WiFi. While I have a strong park WiFi signal (you can see an antenna next to the trailer) there is no internet connection. I remember this problem from a couple of years ago - a park employee told me that they got the money to put WiFi in all the parks, but didn't get the money to connect the system to the internet. Not sure why they keep it running unless it is being used by the park employees. AT&T shows 43.8Mbps down & 2.6Mbps up; Verizon shows 22.7Mbps down & 13Mbps up.

Dinner was a Chef Ramsey Lemon Chicken Bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 156

Tuesday, March 19, 2024 - Henry Horton State Park, Lewisburg, TN, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 5,904.5 Miles for the trip

Well, my AT&T Netgear cell modem seems to have revived. The battery is still swollen to the point where the back cover is popping off so I'll need to replace it. Hopefully, the Townsend KOA will let me have one shipped to them; I got in touch with them & they OKed the shipment so it is on its way.

The AT&T data speeds, while not as fast as Verizon, are good at 41.8Mbps down & 15.87Mbps up. No idea why it wouldn't work yesterday. I moved the battery out & in a number of times, that may have done something. By the way, there is also free campground WiFi supplied by TengoNet - 4.77Mbps down & 3.7Mbps up. Slower than the AT&T but I'm using it now. Usually when I make a TengoNet connection it insists I use my TengoNet password. Since it never works & I have to generate a new one, I'm thankful that the version running here at the park doesn't ask for anything.

Not as cold as predicted last night - at 7:00AM it was 31°F. Now at noon it is 48°F. Still cold enough to run the electric heater off & on all day with the thermostat set at 69°F. Around 38°F for my morning walk during which I took a bag of garbage to the dumpsters at the entrance to the campground, about a 1/3rd mile walk from the trailer.

I caught up on my on line reading, found a replacement battery for the modem at Amazon with a 1 day delivery, then read my current book sitting inside; a bit too cool for sitting outside. 

Since I'm heading to Falls Creek Falls State Park & my journal from the last time I was there rated the showers at a C-, even though it is a cool day I decided to shower here. The bathrooms are heated, although a better description would be warmed. 3 showers, one of which is handicapped. The standard shower has a drying area with 2 hooks, one so small that only very thin stuff can hang on it, and a bench. There is a shower curtain between the shower & the drying area, but it is a foot off the floor, so water goes under it and soaks 90% of the drying area floor. There is a soap dish in the shower. The shower head is about 7 1/2' above the floor. It is a low volume adjustable spread that is no longer adjustable & provides a far too wide spray that, by the time it reaches you a quarter of the water misses you. Plenty of adjustable hot water & clean. Overall, at best a C, maybe a C+.

Back at the trailer at 3:30, it made it up to 54°F outside. There are even a few folks sitting outside, however I'll stick to my 69°F trailer.

Dinner was a Barber Foods Broccoli & Cheese Chicken Breast.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, March 18, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 155

 Monday, March 18, 2024 - Henry Horton State Park, Lewisburg, TN - 128.9 Miles, 5,904.5 Miles for the trip

I forgot to post a photo of my mouse eaten chair yesterday so here it is:

The Mouse Eaten Chair

Not a bad drive on I 40 to Henry Horton other than the potholes. They don't fix them, they just put up signs letting you know they are in the road. It isn't a recent problem; I noted the same signs in my journal 2 years ago. In any case, they are correct - there are lots of them. I arrived at Henry Horton around 12:30.

They are doing work on the main campground road & have a gravel detour to get into the camping area. I'm in site 31 (where I've been before), a water & electric site on asphalt. Has a picnic table & fire ring, needed a 2" drop on the tongue, level side to side, slight railroad noise, and close to the bathrooms. $33.89 per night. I didn't hook up the water line - it is suppose to go down to 25°F by morning; at 5:00 it is 47°F. 

Site 31

It is nice to have internet connections at the trailer. Verizon is fast at 69.26Mbps down & 15.05Mbps up. Unfortunately, I can't give you the data rates for AT&T. My phone shows 3 bars, but my Netgear AT&T cell modem died. It won't turn on. The battery is swollen, and it won't run with it in or out. It is probably more than the battery since the NetGear website says that it should run without one if it is connected to a stable USB supply. I have to be careful if I have to replace the entire modem - it is running a long retired real unlimited (at least I have hit 80GB in a billing period without a slowdown) plan that is only $23.49 per month.

I finished Highfire on the drive to the campground, and am about 1/3 through my first real book in years - Steve Berry's The Omega Factor.

Dinner was an Evol Chicken Enchilada Bake.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, March 17, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 154

Sunday, March 17, 2024 -Pin Oaks Campground, Natchez Trace State Park, TN, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 5,775.6 Miles for the trip

My stomach survived the BBQ. By 12:00 we went from a full campground to 3 trailers left in this section, and a couple in the section next door. 

I decided to do a load of laundry since the machines were $2.00 each, but discovered that I was out of Tide pods. The dryer takes 2 $2.00 runs on high heat to dry a normal washer load of clothes.

I packed up the laptop & both modems and headed to Walmart 10 miles away. Of course I bought more than the pods, but then sat in the parking lot, fired up the modems & had a usable signal on the AT&T. It wouldn't do FaceTime with either my daughter Karin in Takoma Park, MD or the Guidos somewhere in Florida, but voice worked OK.

Back at the campground I started the 30 minute timers for the heaters in the bathroom (there are 2 gas fired heaters, one for the main area & another for the showers). Started a load of laundry next door, then headed for a shower. Not bad for a state park. No bench in the drying area, but a high shelf that is reachable from the shower, particularly because there is no shower curtain. About 1/2 the drying area floor gets wet. 3 Hooks, no shelf in the shower. Good low volume shower head, and plenty of adjustable hot water. While there is no bench in the drying area, there are 4 showers, and a bench outside the shower drying areas that runs the length of the showers and gets most of the heat from the gas fired heater. Overall a B.

Since I washed the pants I was wearing, a deciding factor on the replacement pair was tomorrow's weather report. Morning temperatures at Henry Horton State Park (tomorrow's stop) will be 23°F. While I won't be getting there until at least noon so it is likely that it will be warmer, the high is only going to be 47°F, and the next couple of days have highs in the 50's, so my flannel lined cargo pants seemed to make the most sense.

Not all that warm here at 58°F at 2:00, but no wind, so I sat outside reading. I finished Screwed, the second (and last) in the series by Eoin Colfer. I'm also listening to one of his audio books - Highfire. I usually try to avoid the same author on both, but they are different enough that there is no confusion between the two. I started The Exchange of Princesses by Chantal Thomas. It was a slow start, and I found a copy of Steve Berry's The Omega Factor in the laundry room & decided to read an actual book. The princesses will have to wait. An interesting observation - my Kindle is set up so that the time is at the top of the page. I have become so used to looking at the top of the page for the time that I keep doing it reading the paper book. Somehow that doesn't work!

Anyhow, I opened the truck tailgate to pull out my second favorite chair (my favorite is a rocker, but a pain to open & close. As a slid out the chair a mouse jumped out of it. The chair is an air cushioned version that has an air bladder behind the 2 layers of the back cover. The mouse chewed through the back, filled it full of stuffing, and moved in. He couldn't have been there long - I used the chair at Village Creek. In any case, he jumped out and ran into the truck bed. I opened the folding bed cover & pulled out everything without finding the mouse. Finally, I thought like a mouse & looked in the hollow handle of my jack. The mouse was looking back at me. He wouldn't shake out, but a baseball like swing sent him flying into a tree. Unfortunately for him, he didn't recover. So, I tossed the chair & put everything back in the truck. I didn't get in as much reading as I expected.

Still no internet connection at the campsite, so I'll make a trip to the lodge to post this & check my mail after dinner. 

Dinner was a Butterball turkey burger and the rest of a batch of fresh asparagus.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 16, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 153

Saturday, March 16, 2024 -Pin Oaks Campground, Natchez Trace State Park, TN - 176.9 Miles, 5,775.6 Miles for the trip

Part of the drive was on US 64, the rest on a very heavily trafficked I 40, even a couple of stop & go sections. My GPS got lost near the campground - it looks like the road is new. In any case, I eventually found a road that led to Pin Oaks Lodge Road, which also goes to the campground.

I'm in site 43, a full hook up site on gravel with a fire pit, charcoal grill & picnic table. It needed 2 1/2" side to side & a 4" drop of the tongue to level. Different rates for Saturday & Sunday, and a 25% in season senior discount plus taxes & reservation fee averages out to $34.35 per night. The campground is crowded - only one or two empty sites & they have reserved tickets on them.

Site 43

A sunny 67°F outside, I sat & read. You won't know any of this until I find a internet connection. While my AT&T cell phone shows 1 bar, no data, and the Verizon phone shows SOS only. No park WiFi. So, for the first time on the trip, no connection to the outside world  (although I can still listen to XM Radio). 

I don't remember having this problem the last time I was here, but can't look up my old pages in line. I looked at the Dreamweaver page I posted from on my 2022 trip & it showed AT&T at 7Mbps & Verizon at 2Mbps. I was in site 23 which is visible from my current site.

I may take a drive with the modems to the lodge to see if there is coverage there. Otherwise, it won't be until Monday to post the next 2 day's journals.

I checked at the restaurant at the park lodge & they are having a BBQ Buffet. That may be a bit hard on my recovering stomach, but they also have their normal menu so I might try them for dinner. 

I checked with the front desk & they gave me the password for the lodge WiFi. I also looked over the Buffet, and there was plenty that I was comfortable eating, including one rib. Good but somewhat expensive compared to my usual meals.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 15, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 152

Friday, March 15, 2024 - Village Creek State Park, Wynne, AR, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 5,598.7 Miles for the trip

A stormy night! We were on the edge of a bunch of strong thunderstorms overnight. Light to heavy rain, lots of lightning, even a bit of small hail. It stopped around 8:00AM. We are down to 4 trailers in the B section of Village Creek. The trailer with 3 kids left this morning. I will never complain about one night stops - they pulled in around dinner time, got 3 bikes out of the trailer, did the usual set up while the kids cruised the park, made dinner just before the rain started, then packed it all back up and headed out around 9:00AM. Makes my overnight stops look simple.

While the rain has stopped, it is a dreary day. 60°F, gray skies & soggy. I did my usual forum & journal reading on the laptop, then spend the morning reading on my Kindle. I started Plugged by Eoin Colfer, a new author for me. So far an enjoyable novel.

Very light rain started around 11:00AM. Since I'm out of milk, I decided to make a run to Walmart. While only 9 miles from the park, it is a 25 minute drive - lots of curves. An even longer drive back - The speed limit in the park is 30MPH for most of it, at least until you get among the campsites, and 4 miles of the drive is in the park. All double lines, and a truck in front of me decided that a safe speed was between 10 & 15MPH. Took a long time to get back.

Back at the trailer I decided to head for a shower. 2 showers in the Men's bathroom, one handicapped. The smaller one has a bench in the drying room & 1 hook on the wall. No door or shower curtain. The large, fine spray shower head aims at the drying area, and soaks almost all of it. Plenty of hot water with an adjustable temperature control. While there is a ceiling heater in the bathroom over the showers, it never ran & it is 55°F outside; a bit warmer in the bathroom, but cool for a shower. Overall, a C.

As of 3:00 we are back to 5 trailers in the 30 site campground - a small single axle trailer just arrived. Around 5:00 a large crowd of RVs arrived - we are now up to 16.

Dinner was a Lean Cuisine Chicken Fried Rice bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, March 14, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 151

Thursday, March 14, 2024 - Village Creek State Park, Wynne, AR - 159.8 Miles, 5,598.7 Miles for the trip 

Not a bad trip to Village Creek. I started out with $3.09 per gallon non ethanol gas at the Toad Suck store. I only needed 10 gallons; best price for straight gas I've seen, in fact it is the same $ as the 10% gas at Loves on the way. Although I planned to take the back roads between Conway & Wynne, my GPS detoured me saying that part of the road on my route was closed. Since parts of the 2 lane roads didn't have a nearby alternative, I decided to go with the route the GPS picked which was almost completely on I 40. Very heavy traffic, but while cloudy, no rain.

I arrived at Village Creek State Park around 12:30, signed in at the visitor center & got 25% off for today as a senior discount. No discount for weekends (tomorrow). I'm in site B49, which is on top of the hill. First time I've stayed in the "B" campground - nicer than the one below, and there is cell coverage on both AT&T & Verizon - AT&T at 3.06Mbps down & .6Mbps up; Verizon at 14.9Mbps down & 1.0Mbps up. My notes on previous visit at the lower campground show no cell coverage.

The site is full hookup on a concrete pad that is only 1/2" off level, a charcoal grill & fire pit, and close to the bathrooms. Some of the sites have steep entrances, but most have level pads. With fees, discounts, and taxes, $39.03 per night for two nights. A near empty campground.

Site B49

After setting up I sat outside and read for most of the afternoon. Talked with a couple originally from NY now living in Vermont. They were interested in information about Quartzsite. 

Dinner was a Guy Fieri's Sweet & Sour Pork bowl. I picked it up by mistake - thought it was chicken, but it was pretty good.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 150

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 - Toad Suck COE Campground, Conway, AR, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 5,438.9 Miles for the trip 

A rough night. I don't know if it was something I ate or some nasty germs I managed to catch, but I was up most of the night with a stomach bug. By lunch time everything was back to normal, but I'll need to empty my black tank sooner than usual! I know, too much information.

A mostly cloud covered day, although short periods of very warm sunshine broke through every once in awhile. A warm night, the morning low was 58°F, although most of the night was over 60°F.

I spent the day sitting outside, although I moved in a couple of times when the wind got too strong. I'm currently listening to a Walt Longmire novel by Craig Johnson, The Western Star. It is read by George Guidall, who reads most of the Longmire series & is an excellent narrator. My current Kindle book is The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell.

There is a wide variety of RVs in the park. A few spaces down from my site is a 45' 5th Wheel with 5 slides pulled by a semi truck with a Smart Car on the back of the truck between the cab & the 5th wheel. A few spaces down from that is a Scamp 13.

Dinner was a Lean Cuisine Herb Roasted Chicken bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 149

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 - Toad Suck COE Campground, Conway, AR - 94.9 Miles, 5,438.9 Miles for the trip 

Another day, another COE (Army Corps of Engineers) campground. I discovered Toad Suck because of the name; I had to find out why. The name Toad Suck has, like many, a couple of different origins. The most often quoted is "when idle rivermen would congregate at the local tavern where they would 'suck on the bottle 'til they swell up like toads'". It has been voted the worst named town in America by More information about Toad Suck at The Wikipedia entry for the community

I'm in site C7, a mostly level site on a concrete pad on the opposite side of the road along the river sites. Yes, the campground is on the Arkansas River, same as the Aux Arc campground. There is a dam on the river at the campground. The site is water & electric for $13.00 per night with the Senior National Parks card. There is a picnic table & fire pit at the site. One of the bathrooms is nearby. 

Site C7

After setting up, I headed into Conway for a haircut. There are a bunch of barber shops in Conway; I picked the wrong one. A nice enough haircut, but at $50.00 it was the most expensive haircut I've ever had. I should have asked how much before I sat down. I didn't give my usual $10.00 tip, So, try someone other than Mac10 Cuts.

Both on the way & way back there was construction and a single lane section on E. Dave Ward Drive, one of the main roads between the campground & Conway. A very long wait on the way, not as bad going back. 

After my haircut I headed to the shower to get rid of the leftover itchy hairs. There are 4 individual bathrooms in the building, 2 men, 2 women. They are all handicapped accessible, large rooms with the shower at one end a half width wall between the shower & the rest of the bathroom. A fold down seat next to the door for your stuff; another fold down seat in the shower. High pressure, medium volume showerhead with adjustable temperature. While there is no shower curtain, the room is large enough that most of the floor outside the shower stays dry. Overall, while I don't like the non aim-able high pressure shower heads, I rate it a B.

Dinner was fried chicken & fresh asparagus.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, March 11, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 148

Monday, March 11, 2024 - Aux Arc COE Campground, Ozark, AR, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 5,344 Miles for the trip 

Another cool night at 36°F, 38°F when I went for my morning walk. There was a heavy mist on the river until the sun burned it off. I didn't hear any train horns overnight; the first of the day was at 7:30AM.

The last time I was here the black vultures hung out in the trees. This time they are on the shore line behind my trailer. Beautiful birds when they are soaring overhead, but they sure are ugly up close.

Black Vultures

I called and got a 2:00 appointment for an oil change at Whitson-Morgan, the Ozark Ford dealer. I stopped at the Walmart on the way back from the Ford dealer, but it was a "neighborhood" version with little food. Not any better luck with the grocery store in town; a reasonable amount of stuff, but not what I was looking for. 

Back at the trailer I headed for the showers. 2 showers in the men's section, one handicapped. The standard shower has a standard shower head and a non adjustable temperature  push button with a 9 second run. Plenty of hot water (almost too hot) but no shower curtain & the shower aims at the drying area. A bench & 1 hook in the drying area; the floor gets 3/4 covered with water from the shower. Overall, a C-.

Dinner was a Butterball Turkey Burger & a salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, March 10, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 147

Sunday, March 10, 2024 - Aux Arc COE Campground, Ozark, AR - 131.5 Miles, 5,344 Miles for the trip 

While it was a cool 35°F overnight and only 36°F when I packed up the trailer, but the time I got to Ozark, AR it was a comfortable 65°F.

Today's drive was north on US 69 to I 40, and east to Ozark, AR. A fairly short drive. No one at the entrance station at the Aux Arc campground so I headed to my site. I'm in B27, next door to the host site at the front of the B section of the campground. The site is on the Arkansas River, which, because of the Corps of Engineer's dam is actually more like a lake. There is a lock on the other side of the river for barges & boats to get around the dam. Active railroad tracks on the other side of the river that include loud horn tooting. 

My site is a water & electric on unlevel asphalt - Needed 3" of lift on the tongue & 3/4" side to side. For some reason my receipt shows I paid the full price for the site, ie $26.00 per night even though I put in the information for my Senior National Park card which cuts the price in half. I checked the Toad Suck receipt (my next COE stop) and it showed the price cut. It isn't worth trying to straighten it out so I'll live with paying full price. The bathrooms are a short distance away. There are 2 in the park, one at each end of the .75 mile row of sites. I've stayed in the middle; a long walk to the bathrooms!

Site B27

I checked the internet - AT&T is 48.8Mbps down & 16.3Mbps up, while Verizon is 76.9Mbps down & 9.5Mbps up, both checked with a MIMO connection to a pair of outside antennas.

After setting up I headed to the Maytag Laundromat to do a large load of clothes. Somehow I lost a sock, the first time on many trips. I even got to recheck both the washer & dryer I used, and no luck. It is possible that the sock is in the fitted sheet, although I did my usual check of the corners. 

Back at the trailer I did my afternoon back exercises, then sat outside until dinner.

Dinner was a Saffron Road Chicken Biryani bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 9, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 146

Saturday, March 9, 2024 - Arrowhead State Park, OK - 190 Miles, 5,212.5 Miles for the trip 

Don't forget to set your clocks ahead tonight (unless you live in Arizona off the Navajo reservations).

An interesting drive. My GPS said 153 miles & 3 hours. That didn't happen. I was on US 70 a little past Kingston about to cross Lake Texoma on the Lake Texoma Bridge. About 100 yards onto the bridge were two pick up trucks at right angles to the road, one on top of the other, completely blocking both lanes of the bridge. It must have just happened since no one was in front of me. I stopped, backed up 400 yards or so to get to where there was room on the side of the road. About 10 emergency vehicles showed up; the projected time for opening the road was 1 1/2 - 2 hours. There was just enough width to the road for me to turn around, and at the suggestion of one of the volunteers I back tracked to Madill & took US 377. Just outside of Madill, a freight train stopped across the road & didn't move out of the way until 45 minutes later. So, today's drive was 190 miles & 5 hours.

I'm in site 18 in the Turkey Flats campground in Arrowhead State Park. Full hookups on a concrete slab that is off level by 1 1/2" side to side and 1/2" front to back. While there was no indication when I made the on line reservation, it is an ADA site. I hope that won't be a problem; the park has more ADA sites & is mostly empty. 

Site 18

While clear skies with lots of sun, it is only 58°F at 3:30. After setting up I headed for a shower. There are 4 individual shower rooms, 2 of which were locked. They have a sign that says they are all locked from 9:00PM to 7:00AM. The one I used had a high pressure, non adjustable shower head with adjustable temperature handle, and a wall between the shower & the drying area. It needed to be full to hot for reasonable hot water. The stream is strong enough to almost hurt. While there is a drain in the shower section and the wall between it & the drying area, the water sprays past the drain & within seconds floods the entire drying area floor to at least 1/4" deep water. There is a fold down seat that serves as a bench, and 3 hooks, although they are low enough that if you hang long pants on any of them the bottoms of the pants will get soaked. Overall, a D.

Back at the trailer I read for a bit, typed this post, and caught up on my email. AT&T is 54.9Mbps down & 7.4Mbps up. I didn't check Verizon. 

Dinner was an El Monterey Cheese Enchiladas.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 8, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 145

Friday, March 8, 2024 -Lake Murray State Park, OK, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 5,022.5 Miles for the trip 

While the rain held off until after last night's dinner, there were mild thunderstorms throughout the night. This morning started out cool at 55°F, damp, but no rain. Unfortunately, it never got much warmer throughout the cloudy day. At noon it was all the way up to 56°F.

After my morning walk I cranked the thermostat on the electric heater to 68°F and spent the rest of the day sitting in the trailer reading. Around 3:30 a light rain started, just enough to hear the patter on the roof. I must still be used to the low humidity of the desert; at 56°F outside, 68°F & 61% humidity in the trailer I'm freezing.

Feeling lazy (although it isn't much work to throw something into the microwave) and knowing that I wouldn't hit another campground with a restaurant until I reached Tennessee, I headed to the Lookout Kitchen for dinner.

Dinner was fried fish with French fries & steamed vegetables. 

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, March 7, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 144

Thursday, March 7, 2024 -Lake Murray State Park, OK- 184.1 Miles, 5,022.5 Miles for the trip 

While yesterday was a quiet day, not so much for the late night & early morning. Thunderstorms with medium rain. The leaves on the tree I was parked under were ready to fall off; the rain put about half the leaves on my truck & trailer. Most blew away on the drive, but there are still a few stuck in corners.

Most of the drive was on TX secondary 2 lane roads, again with the usual 75MPH speed limit. Since my top is 65MPH when towing, I got passed a lot. A short stint on I 35 just before the campground. I had an interesting minor scare on the way. I drove by a sign (in Texas) for Arrowhead State Park. I originally had 3 days scheduled for Lake Murray State Park in OK, but decided to cut the road time down by dropping a day & adding an Oklahoma state park half way between Lake Murray and my original next stop. Seems there is an Arrowhead State Park in TX as well as in OK. Glad I don't need to backtrack 100 miles to get to my next stop! I stopped at the Wichita Falls Walmart for a some supplies, and the attached Murphy gas station for the cheapest gas of the trip - $2.759 per gallon.

I'm in site 31 in the Elephant Rock campground. I've stayed at Lake Murray before, but at the Buzzard's Roost campground. This one is right on the lake. A full hookup site with a level concrete slab, picnic table & charcoal grill next to a family bathroom with showers. $31.00 tonight, and $32.00 for tomorrow (they add a dollar for the weekends). While I didn't have to unhook to level the trailer, I did because I plan to eat at the restaurant here in the park.

Site 31

Last night I finished Ross Pennie's Zol Szabo series, #3, Up In Smoke, and started #4, Beneath the Wake. On the drive here I finished listening to Frederick Forsyth's The Avenger, and will need to find a new audio book for tomorrow morning's walk. I probably should have downloaded a new book yesterday; the internet, at least AT&T is pretty slow here at 6.33Mbps down & 2.49Mbps up. I have heard of his Day of the Jackal, but never read it so that will be the next audio book. While it took 10 minutes, it did download from the New York Public Library.

Dinner was at the Lookout Kitchen Restaurant - a chicken fried steak, baked potato & mixed vegetables.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 143

Wednesday, March 6, 2024 - Fort Griffin State Historic Site, Albany, TX, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 4,838.4 Miles for the trip 

Another quiet day on the trip home. I do mean quiet. This is the quietest campground I've ever stayed at. About once an hour you can hear a truck going by on US 283, and that is it. There are 35 sites in the campground, a mix of full hookup, water & electric, and tent sites with water only. At this time there are 5 RVs in the campground, and at least two are either hosts or workers - they have 100 gallon propane tanks next to their trailers.

I got voice mail that I didn't see, and called Long Beach, talked with Mike & he explained that the dates for the Bolerama are set aside for the entire park. Their system should not have let me make a reservation on line, but it did. Reservations for that weekend can only be made by voice, starting on March 21. So, I'll try again. At least I'll be in the same time zone by then.

I read most of the morning and afternoon. Around 2:30 I headed for the showers. There are a couple of bathrooms in the campground. The closest one to my site has high pressure/low volume shower heads in family bathrooms. I prefer the older building a bit further away, but with a standard shower. I rate it an A - large drying area with bench & 2 good hooks, a shower curtain, shelf in the shower, and plenty of hot water. The only fault I can find is the shower head is about 1' too low.

Bach at the trailer I made a batch of chili for dinner (and, 3 more that will go in the freezer). Not as good as the last batch. I used the tube type of turkey and I think the fresh ground is a better choice. It was also a bit dry - I cooked it outside on the Coleman grill/stove and it is almost impossible to turn it down low enough to simmer. In any case, I now have 3 more meals.

That was about it for the day. I'm reading Ross Pennie's Zol Szabo series, #3, Up In Smoke.

Dinner was Chili.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 142

Tuesday, March 5, 2024 - Fort Griffin State Historic Site, Albany, TX - 232.5 Miles, 4,838.4 Miles for the trip 

I was on the internet at 8:00AM sharp to make reservations at Long Beach Conservation Area in Ontario, Canada for the Bolarama Rally & our trip to the Algonac Rally in September. The reservations went through OK, they charged my credit card, and I thought I was set. About 2 hours later Anne got a call from the Conservation Area that our reservations were canceled; we had to redo them later in the month. I did get email canceling both mine & hers, but have no idea if the September reservations are still on, or why they canceled the July reservations - the reservation system for the season started at 9:00 EST today. You can't talk to anyone there - all you get is an answering machine with an announcement about the reservation dates & times. I left a message; hope they will call back.

About 3/4 of today's drive was on I 20, the remainder on 2 lane 75MPH roads. 

At Fort Griffin the campground is first come, but I forgot that you need to go to the visitor center a few miles away to register, give them a site number, and get a window tag. I'm in site 5 (at the suggestion of the person running the visitor center rather than going to the campground, picking one, then coming back), a water & electric site on gravel for $12.00 per night that is level enough that I don't need to unhook. Since I'm a long way from anywhere, I probably won't unhook over the two days I'm here. A nice shady site a reasonable walking distance to the bathrooms, with a picnic table, fire pit & charcoal grill. 

Site 5

I did my usual speed tests, first with Verizon. Both my phone & Jet Pack show a "5G" Verizon connection, but neither will make a data connection. AT&T shows 4.9Mbps down & 1.8Mbps up on a "5G" Extended connection. The data is fast enough for internet radio & posting today's photos & pages.

At the visitor center there is a small herd of longhorn cattle so I stopped for a couple of photos:

Texas Longhorns

I spent the remainder of the afternoon reading. I'm on book #2 & the 3rd that I've read of Ross Pennie's Zol Szabo series, Tampered. Unfortunately, I've already read #5 and know too much about what is happening in the doctor's life. This is a series that should be read in published order.

Dinner was a grilled Butterball Turkey Burger & broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, March 4, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 141

Monday, March 4, 2024 - Whispering Pines RV Park, Odessa, TX, Day 2 - 0 Miles, 4,605.9 Miles for the trip 

An interesting evening yesterday. My neighbor tied his dogs up outside the trailers and the leash was long enough that one of them ate my sewer hose. She also tried to eat one of my trailer chocks. She is a 6 month old puppy, so I kind of understand. The owner offered to go & get me a new sewer hose, but since only a few designs fit in the housing that Escape built under the trailer, I'd rather get one myself. I went to Walmart & they only had a kit that included 2 10' rather than one 15' hoses; both won't fit in the storage, so one will go home as a spare. The owner paid for the new hose.

I did a speed test for both AT&T and Verizon. Here, Verizon wins: Verizon 52Mbps down & 20Mbps up. AT&T 2Mbps down & .1Mbps up.

I got an email reservation confirmation for a site at Lakeport State Park in Michigan for September 4 - 10 for the Algonac Rally (it is moved to Lakeport because Algonac is closed for a rebuild), so Anne & Guido's early morning reserving efforts came through. Now I need to do the same tomorrow for our Bolarama reservations in Canada for July and the one night stop on the way to the Algonac Rally.

I went to the local HEB pretty much just to see if it was a big & diverse as I remembered. I have been to one before, but it has been years. It sure is a Texas sized store. I did find a couple of things I wasn't able to find at a bunch of grocery stores & Walmarts west of the Mississippi, so I didn't go back to the trailer empty handed.

Back at the trailer I had lunch, then read for the afternoon. At this time I'm listening to Frederick Forsyth's Avenger, and reading Ross Pennie's Tainted. I have enjoyed his Zol Szabo character, and hope to read more. I feel dried out - could it be the 19% humidity in the trailer? There was more moisture in the air in the Quartzsite, AZ desert! 

Dinner was an InnovAsian Orange Chicken Bowl, one of those bowls I haven't been able to find west of the Mississippi.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, March 3, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 140

Sunday, March 3, 2024 - Whispering Pines RV Park, Odessa, TX - 163.2 Miles, 4,605.9 Miles for the trip 

Not a bad drive today, although all on interstates I 10 & I 20. I kept looking at my gas gauge since it wasn't dropping. Checked the mileage and it was 18.1MPG! Now this has never happened when towing, and when I stopped at a rest stop I discovered why - a very strong tailwind. The end of the trip was crosswise to the wind, and by the time I reached the RV park in Odessa, I was down to 16.9MPG, still great.

I'm in site 9, a full hookup, back in site on gravel for $50.00 per night. Cash only. No picnic table or grill, but like yesterday, it is windy enough that outside the trailer is pretty much out. Very tight sites and, as far as I can determine, no bathrooms even though at least one of the reviews says they have them.

Site 9

After setting up I headed to Walmart for some supplies. Lots of dollar stores, and a HEB 3.5 miles from the RV Park. Since the wind is gusting at 30MPH or so, I spent the rest of the afternoon in the trailer reading. I also made my usual Sunday phone calls. My brother is finally seeing some advancement on the construction of his new house in the Catskills (well, it is actually destruction - they are knocking down the existing house to make way for the new foundation).

Everything at home in Oswego is going well, although they had lots of wind the other day, enough that power was out at the house for 24 hours. The whole house generator ran without problems.

Dinner was a Benihana Hibachi Chicken Rice bowl.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, March 2, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 139

Saturday, March 2, 2024 - Oasis RV Park, Van Horn, TX - 250.6 Miles, 4,442.7 Miles for the trip 

Back in an old road trip stand by - the Oasis RV park in Van Horn, TX. A bit funky, although not as funky as it was with the previous owner. Still, lots of I 10 road noise as well as trains. The good? Easy off from I 10, and a useful stop after the City of Rocks when heading east. 

I got an early for me start at 9:30 and although I 10 was crowded, it wasn't too bad until I hit the single lane sections north of El Paso. Just as much work going on as there was on the way out. I arrived at Van Horn around 3:00, including the time zone change to central time adding an hour to the drive.

I'm in site 21, a full hookup, level site on gravel, no picnic table, grill or fire pit (far too windy for a fire anyway) for $27.00 for the night with a Good Sam discount. I don't know what type of discount I had on the way out in the fall, but then it was only $25.00. Like last time, no one here at the park. You call a number and the owner tells you the available sites & says he will stop by for the money. The trailer was at 82°F when I stopped. Ran the AC to get it down to 76°F, but will need the electric heater tonight; the prediction is for 46°F overnight.

Site 21

One good thing about the Oasis - great internet speeds. 27Mbps down & 2.6Mbps up for Verizon, and even better 43.3 down & 14.47 up for AT&T. Since it is the first day of a new cycle for Verizon, I'll go with AT&T for the night. On the other hand, another bad - it looks like Chuy's, the Mexican restaurant across the street is still closed. Since I'm level without unhooking, I'd rather leave the trailer connected so I can't go out looking for another restaurant. Another freezer meal - too windy to cook outside even if I had a table to set the grill on (NPR told me yesterday it is now OK to end a sentence with a preposition).

Dinner was the last of my frozen homemade (well, trailer made) chili.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, March 1, 2024

23 - 24 Trip to the Southwest, Day 138

Friday, March 1, 2024 - City of Rocks State Park, Faywood, NM, Day 4 - 0 Miles, 4,192.1 Miles for the trip 

Last night after dinner I decided to head for the showers, hoping what little sun we had today warmed up the bathroom. Warmer than the outside 51°F temperature, but still cool for showering. 2 showers, one handicapped, a low volume fine spray showerhead with a soap dish & shower curtain, drying area with 4 hooks, no bench or shelf but dry deck on the floor. This is one of the few places where I replace the showerhead with my own low volume, course spray. I suspect at least one of the hosts does the same since the showerhead is only hand tight. In any case, with the normal fine spray head the water is cool by the time it reaches you and you need to run another push button cycle to rinse since the water is the softest I've ever experienced. Very long run for the push button - at least 2 minutes. Overall, a C+.

By the way, the Verizon cell service here is fast enough at 38.8Mbps down & 2.3Mbps up. AT&T is dead in most of the park, a weak signal and no data at best.

Around 10:00 this morning I headed out to the Gila Cliff Dwellers National Monument. I visited the Monument in 2015, and wanted to see if it had changed since then. No changes, but I believe the Nikon Z8 did a better job of dealing with the wide dynamic range between the bright sun & heavy shadows.

Many more images at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I took NM 15 back, but rather than following it all the way to Silver City, switched to NM 35, and NM 61 to get back to the City of Rocks. That is a bit shorter drive than going to Silver City, and skips many of the twists in NM 15 north of Silver City, as well as having center lines (although most of them are double yellow) for the entire drive. I got back to the campground around 3:15.

Dinner was an Amy's Enchilada with Spanish Rice & Beans bowl.

Until Tomorrow -