Monday, March 31, 2014

UP in the Clouds

Decided to go to a Georgia State Park that had been recommended to me by a fellow camper It is called Cloudland Canyon Park. It was about a four hour drive up to the northwest part of Georgia in the mountains. Did a little bit of grocery shopping before I got there because there is no “civilization” around this park.
 First I had to drive through downtown Atlanta – five lanes each way – I would put it right up with Chicago type driving. I realized that where I am sitting with this huge window that if I flip somebody off, they can really see that I'm flipping them off. I have to remember that I can no longer be an incognito flipper. Driving through Atlanta was extremely hard.
The park is about an hour off of the freeway and this hour's drive was also quite the challenge. Let's just say that now I've got mountain driving under my belt. Up, down – around and around corners. Speed limit is 55, I was driving about 40. I felt bad for the local drivers behind me, but again – oh well. The last part of the drive seemed like it was straight up. I hate to think what going back down is going to be like. The park is around the edge of a big gorge and it is beautiful. Lots of space between the sites, level, nice water and...and...I've got tv so I can watch some of the shows I've left behind. Best of all worlds, nature and the creature comforts. I plan to stay here for two days. I need to decompress.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Andersonville and Ocmulgee - Georgia

Got up early cause it was church day. Then there is a knock on my door and it is the owner of the park, Mr. Bob Moss. He said that the secret service usually shows up around 8:00 to get the church ready and they hadn't shown up yet, which meant that President Carter was going to be a no-show today. Oh well....

I packed up and took off for Andersonville National Historical Site. Andersonville was a confederate civil war prison that had atrocious conditions. When I was in sixth grade, I read a book about Andersonville and I think that was the first time in my life that I really realized that there are horrible things in the world that happen to people. It was important to me to visit this place. Besides commemorating the civil war pow camp, it was the National POW museum. Very interesting although I had to leave during one of the movies. It was just too graphic for a gentle soul like myself. Miko and I walked around the actual prison grounds. The sun was out, it was a beautiful day and that all helped me to recover.

Onward to our fifth National Site in two days. Ocmulgee. This place is by Macon Georgia and it is the largest archeological site in the nation. This particular site has been occupied for 17,000 years. The first people came across the Bering Strait with dogs that look exactly like my dog Miko. The third group of people were called the Mississippians and they were mound builders like the mounds in southeastern Minnesota. We explored the mounds, climbed to the top of the biggest one and it was big.

I decided to stay at a county park. I was planning on staying for two nights because we had been going going going for the last couple of days. We needed to have some down time. I figured the Arrowhead County Park would be perfect for that – there are hiking trails and a lake. Then I got there to my site. I couldn't find the water to hook up so a ranger came to help out. He couldn't find it either so he called another ranger. Turns out there was a hole in the ground that was filled with scuzzy muddy water. Ranger #1 bailed the water out and there at the bottom of the pit, nestled in the mud was the faucet. Yuck. Needless to say, I am moving on and only spending one night.

Climbing to the top:

Looking down:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tuskegee and President Jimmy Carter

Today was an educational day. First up was the Tuskegee Airman Museum. Two big hangars of exhibits about the contributions of not only the Airmen but of all of the support staff. Again, it was These people, even though they were told that the Negro was not intelligent enough or had enough common sense to fly an airplane, had the gall to outperform almost every other single squadron in WWII. Yet, when they came back to the U.S. After all this service had to deal with the Jim Crow laws. I know it was a different time, but it was offensive how people treat other people.

On to the Tuskegee Institute which is located on the Tuskegee University grounds. It happened to be open house for incoming students so it was a busy place. There was the George Washington Carver Museum, the peanut guy. There were also tours to the Booker T Washington house which I didn't time quite right and missed. Probably a good thing because I keep adding “and the Mgs” everytime I hear his name.

I then traveled a couple of hours over to Plains Georgia, the home of President Jimmy Carter. There is a Jimmy Carter museum in his old high school – the Plains High School. There was a really interesting movie that touched a little bit on his political life, but it was mostly about his life in Plains and his basic philosophy on life. The one thing about Jimmy Carter that I have always found so moving is that he has always lived his life according to his beliefs. He is a man of Faith, and I don't mean religious faith, but faith in what is right and what is good.

I spent quite a bit of time talking to the museum staff and one of the volunteers told me about where she was staying in her RV, a small unadvertised local park. I had reservations at some high falutin' RV park for $40 that included as much golf as I wanted to play. That golf was such a draw for me (not). This new place was only $20 and it was in the middle of a field and it was only for one night and it was perfect.

Why? Because it was a half block away from the church where Jimmy Carter was scheduled to teach Sunday school the next day. I decided I would go and get myself some religion. If you stay for both the sunday school and church, you can have your picture taken and your hand shaken by President Carter. How often do you get to meet a President of the United States?

The entrance to my RV park

Friday, March 28, 2014

Chewacla State Park - Alabama

It started raining about 3 a.m. Thunder/Lightning – rain on the roof. It was great sleeping. Woke up to a dark day – pouring rain. I did laundry with my washing machine which consists of a bucket and a plunger along with a spin machine. I felt almost pioneer like. I got this setup because I hate public laundromats so much. They are generally dirty and creepy. I had planned to get my life in order but I started watching a Bewitched extravaganza on tv. Then it was nap time. So much for chores.

Update on the football thing: Wind Creek State Park on the west side of Alabama had tons of red – go Crimson Tide go. This park on the east side of Alabama is all blue and orange. Auburn – evidently this is a huge rivalry between the two schools. I am now in Auburn territory.

I have new next door neighbors. Travel trailer and a van and EIGHT kids ranging in age from probably around 10 to baby size. Actually, they are fairly quiet which is a change.

Around 3:30 it stopped raining and Miko and I headed out to do the trails. They have a CCC built waterfall here. It talked to one fellow camper here who said that yesterday it was a mere trickle. Today it was downright violent because of all of the rain. Trails were a little muddy not too bad.

I'm all packed up and ready to hit the road tomorrow. I will be a little sorry to leave Chewacla – it is a lovely state park. I'll have to put it on the list of places to return to.



Miko blending In

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Muscogee Creek and Chewacla State Park

This lake (Lake Martin) is a fishing lake – so there were lots of the campers' boats parked right behind my rig. All the fisher people decided to go fishing at 5 in the morning. I decided that it was time to move on. Luckily the office said that they would refund my money for the second night.

Today was a special day. I went to the Horseshoe Bend National Historic Site. This is a place where Andrew Jackson had a battle with the Creek Nation. It was the most Indians ever killed in a single battle – over 800. Because of this battle, the Creek Nation gave the United States 23 million acres of land which became Alabama and Georgia. The date of this battle was March 27, 1814, exactly 200 years ago today.

Several busloads of Muscogee Creek Indians came from Oklahoma and there was a huge ceremony and speeches. I listened to the Creek speeches and singing. They were there to pay homage to their ancestors. It was not a celebration. They talked about how they have survived and it was very moving.

After an hour or two of these speeches, then it was time for the Congress people to talk – the senators and representatives. I left, grabbed Miko out of the bus and did the three mile nature walk to all the major sites of the battle. It was a beautiful day out – seventies, light breeze and sunny. Perfect day to walk and a perfect day to reflect on one nation invading another nation's land.

Drove for an hour to the Chewacla State Park. This state park is much more to my liking. Trees, quiet – campers aren't on top of one another.

Started chatting with Paul and Ruth who are camped next door to me. Found out we have mutual acquaintances. Small world. They are from Texas and are starting their meander back.

I think I will stay here another day – there are a few trails to hike that might be fun to check out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Boring Travel Day

March 26
Travel day. I am leaving Mississippi and heading into Alabama. I decided I was going to stay at Wind Creek State Park. This park is supposed to be Alabama's biggest state park - they said tons of camping spots, no need to make a reservation. I go to the ranger station and pay for two nights.  I paid extra to be on the lake. Let's just say the park was a zoo. Sites were close together, there were fifty zillion kids, most of them of the screaming type. I suppose it is because it is spring break time. Tents were mixed in with the RVs which I like. It doesn't seem like such a sea of fiberglass. If I looked out my front door it was beautiful. If I turned my head ten degrees in any other direction and it was like Metropolis.  I only took a picture of the pretty side.

I had stopped at Walmart and got a long handled squeegee to try to clean my enourous bug caked windshield. I'm not getting the hang of it - it's like the squeegee part doesn't slide down and have a good seal on the windshield. I suppose I will return it and try to think of other options.

I am In college football land. Almost every trailer has a football saying painted on it - Go Bama or Crimson Tide or something red.  I'm getting the idea that football is huge here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Temporarily Out of Order

I'm in an electronic dead zone. No wifi.  I will resume the blog in a few days and catch up.

Currently I am in the Tombigbee National Forest in Mississippi. Tomorrow I'm moving to Alabama
And I don't think I will have wifi for a few more days.

I miss y'all too

Laying Low (and High)

Tombigbee National Forest. Mississippi

Today was going to be chore day. Make business calls, do laundry, rinse off the RV - all those kind of tasks. Beautiful day today so instead Miko and I decided to explore the trails. None of the trees have really blossomed yet so you can see quite a distance through the woods. Well, except for the hills - lots and lots of rolling hills. We walked trails for about an hour in the morning and then for a couple of hours in the afternoon. On our afternoon walk we flushed out three deer. Miko went nuts. She would have been in the next county following them if she hadn't been on a leash. She is very definitely a rodent dog, never taking her nose out of the leaves, but these deer - she was definitely up for the chase. Found a deer tick on her when we got back. How appropriate.  For our evening walk, we climbed a hill that had an old CCC building on the top of it. It is a big building, it could have been a retreat center or something like that. I've always thought CCC builders did amazing work. This building is no exception. It is made of cypress logs and everything is cut to the most precise nth. Quality.

Side note:  I did do some chores, but it seems like chores can always be put off for another day

We are pulling up stakes tomorrow, heading out. I'd like to spend more time here, but my time commitments make it impossible. I really loved this place - it was so quiet and absolutely beautiful. We are very fortunate to have a government that preserves places like this for its citizens to enjoy and treasure.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Back To Nature

Ok ok ok.  I am typing this on my phone cause evidently people are beginning to wonder where I am.  Please forgive typos. I will add pictures when and if I ever get wifi.

Walked the dog around the tiny RV park, packed up and headed to Prime Urgent Care in Southaven Mississippi   After three hours I got to see the medical staff. I don't understand why they felt they had to do a complete medical history of me. I kept saying I was just there to get the staple out of my head but they were insistent that they needed to know all these other medical facts. It took a doctor and a nurse and several shots of Lidacaine to get that thing out of my head, but finally I was free.

We headed south to Tombigbee National Forest, about a four hour drive south of Memphis. Lovely day for a drive, I enjoy sitting up so high as I drive down the road. I could actually see into the truckers' cabs as they passed me. Let's just say, not a lot of neat and tidy truckers on the road.  I suppose if you live in your truck, it is hard to keep on top of it. I hold my own car up as an example of what can happen.

Educational part of the post. Tombigbee means "River of Coffins" or "Coffin Maker". During DeSoto's sojourn into the area, the resident Native Americans came in contact with the explorers. Many contracted diseases which produced high fever. To these people, the cool river was the "cure" for fever. By the time DeSoto left the area, the river was reported to be "full of the dead" from the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations.

On a better note:  this is a beautiful campground and forest. Lots of tall pines.  The only other people in this entire campground are the camp host and his wife, Richard and Ruth. Let me just say, Richard could talk the bark off of a tree. Vietnam Nam vet, retired Memphis fire fighter. Ruth kept telling Richard - let the poor girl go referring to me once Richard started talking. I picked a campsite at the other end of the campground from the hosts. I am about twenty feet from the lake, nestled In The Pines (Louvin Brothers song title). When I went outside at night, the stars were so bright - I can't remember when I've seen them so bright. It was really easy to pick out the various constellations.

Heads of State and MetalHeads

Packed up and started the day.  Today we started off by going to the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.  This is the house where he courted his wife Julia Dent and where he tried to make a living farming.  There was a lot of info on how Grant who was a anti slavery guy tried to reconcile living on the farm with his slave owning father in law.  All of these presidential places all try to put the best face on their particular president and this place was no different.  I'm a little disappointed in this picture of White Haven - the colors did not come out quite right.  The Grants painted their house a color called Paris Green which was a bright lime color very popular in Victorian times. 

After I took the official house tour and visited the museum, I got Miko out of the RV and we walked around the grounds.  It was pretty brisk for being down south - I think only about 35 degrees but much better than it was in Minnesota.

Took off for the four hour drive to Memphis.  We travelled through FOUR states in an hour - Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi.  We are staying on the south side of Memphis, actually in Mississippi at the Southaven RV Park.  I am definitely not an RV park type of person.

The neighbors are just too close and it certainly isn't all that scenic.  BUT....the highlight of my day happened here.  I met my Facebook friend Val for the first time.  Val came over to visit and she was just as interesting and funny as she seemed to be as I got to know her on Facebook.  Not only did she bring tons of food - barbecue, cole slaw, twice baked potato salad, rolls, two types of dessert and sodas, she attempted to do something that only a true friend would do.  Remember that staple that was in my head?  The one the doctor said - oh, just have anyone take it out, it is easy.  Well, not so much.  The staple has gotten all twisted up in my head.  Good sport that she is, Val tried to take it out.  It was not to be.  Then she called some friends of hers that happen to be RNs, Mary Jo and Stephanie.  She drives me over to their house - half hour each way, sunday night at 9:00 so that they can operate on me.  No luck getting it out.  I think Val went way beyond the call of duty and  I am very grateful and happy that I got to meet her in person.  Tomorrow I will have to go to Urgent Care and see if I can get it out there. 

When we got back to the RV, I heard Miko howling in the RV.  I hope that is not something she does all the time - it will make it difficult if I have to leave her.  Of course, it will only be difficult if I am in RV parks where we are right on top of our neighbors.  If I am in a state park where there is room and privacy, not so much a problem except perhaps for her psyche 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

When Is It Going To Get Warm

It was a blustery night last night in Pleasant Creek.  The wind was howling, the RV was getting buffeted and making some weird clunks.  Made it through the night just fine.

After taking the dog for a little walk and packing up, we hit the road around 9:30.  Overcast, wintery - just an all out yucky day.  Although the drive out of the park was sort of pretty in an eerie sort of way.

I'm thinking to myself that I this is not fun - I'm tired of driving all ready and it is only Day Two. I cross the Missouri border, the sun comes out, the wind dies down - I actually see a few blades of green grass.  Whoa - there is life after winter in Minnesota. 

Today is just a travel day - heading to St. Louis.  I pick an actual RV park this time.  I want to have water and electricity so I can de-winterize the rig.  I pick a place on the south east side of St. Louis called the Covered Bridge RV Park.  Sounds lovely, doesn't it.  Well, when Miko and I take our afternoon constitutional, I find that we are right next to the St. Louis waste management facility.  A very aromatic place.  We are down in a little valley, so the highway is about thirty feet above us.  It is a park with a lot of long term residents.  When I pulled it, the place next to me had three little girls, two yappy Yorkies and a guy in camouflage sitting out with his radio blaring.  Oh and it was expensive - $35 a night.  But, I decided to stay so that I could use the water and figure out if the plumbing system is all working.  Hopefully a hot shower is in story for me tonight.

As I write this, all is quiet in Covered Bridge RV Park.

My view tonight:

Tomorrow: Ulysses S. Grant Historical Site and Memphis Barbecue!!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Day 1 Wisconsin to Iowa

All systems go. Left River Falls at 10:40 and headed out. It had just started to sleet so I felt particularly fortunate that I was leavin' town. Headed south through Zumbrota and Red Wing – travel on little country roads. I rather liked it, I could go slow, I could figure out how to keep this huge rig in one lane without any semi distractions. It was a good primer on driving.

By 1:00, I entered my third state (Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa) Stopped at my favorite gas station right across the Iowa border in Lime Springs. As I'm filling up with gas ($150 – ouch), I notice one of my dually tires is really low. I tried to put air in it, but the air putter inner wouldn't fit on my valve. They sent me to see Brian in downtown Lime Springs (population 501). It took him about a half hour to figure out how to jury rig something that would work. When I asked him what I owed him, he said nada. I happened to have some absolutely incredible chocolate covered fruit – strawberries, pineapple and apple ( thanks Lou and Davey) and I gave him one. He was happy and I was happy watching him eat it.

This tire thing took a big chunk out of my day so I didn't get as far down the road as I was hoping. I ended up at Pleasant Creek State Park, just a little bit north of Cedar Rapids. Just electrical hookups but a great deal at $11 for the night. There are only two other campers here, it is pretty isolated but pretty. And most importantly – there is NO SNOW!!!! Took the dog for a long walk. The wind is blowing about thirty miles an hour – you have to lean into it to stay in place. I'm glad I'm not driving in it.

My daughter in law gave me Mace for Xmas, a very thoughtful present actually. I think I will read up on how to use it tonight. Just in case, ya know.

Tomorrow – St. Louis
View out my front window

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Poor Little Head

Today was a scurrying around day.  First up was a trip to the doctor's office to get the staple removed from my head.  I don't know why having a staple in my head amuses me so much - I guess red neck office supplies come to mind.  Originally I was supposed to keep the staple there until next Monday, but with my new travel plans, I thought I could get it removed and not have to worry about it during the trip.  The doctor said it was too soon to remove the staple.  I asked if I could keep it in for the three and a half weeks I was gone.  He said no way - it was a simple task to remove the staple, here let me give you a staple remover (red neck office supplies) and just ask anyone in the campground to remove it.  Not too sure what I am going to do - walk around asking if anybody wants to operate on my head?  I guess I'll figure it out as I go along.

Brought another load of highly prized personal belongings out to the RV.  Nobody could ever possibly say this girl travels light. I haven't tried out any of the mechanical functions of the RV yet so I turned on the propane and started up the stovetop and the furnace.  Both worked so at least I can cook and I won't freeze. 

I have a TPMS - a tire pressure monitoring system.  Basically you put these knobby things on the end of the tire valves and they are supposed to tell you if your tire is going to blow before it does.  Don't want to have a major blowout traveling down the road.  I was able to get three out of six programmed and installed.  Getting the other three installed will be something I can do in my spare time on the road.

I might have shared with some a picture of me after I ran into an RV mirror several weeks ago.

Well, the good news is that I no longer have raccoon eyes.  The bad news is that I ran into one of the slide outs on the RV today with my forehead and now have a big goose egg on my forehead.  I'm beginning to really feel sorry for my poor little head.

Tomorrow is launch day - icy roads are predicted for the morning.  I don't trust weather people, they always seem to blow minor little weather bits into major life threatening events.  I will see what it looks like tomorrow morning and hopefully I can start down the road. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Sun is Going to Shine Again

I ran into the insurance adjustor at the impound lot where they had towed my car.  The impound lot was a very cheery place (not).  I almost felt like I was visiting somebody in a maximum security prison with all the forms to sign, the fences with barb wire on top and the huge gates that are electronically controlled from a window high up off the ground.  It was a sad place, all these broken cars.  The adjustor seems to think that my car is not totaled and looking at it I guess it is not as bad as I thought when the accident first happened.  I have mixed feelings about him not totaling the car - yay - I don't have to hassle with trying to find a new car and all that goes with that and bummer - will they be able to fix everything on the car so it is like brand new.  What if they miss something major when they fix it?

Yesterday was farrier day at the barn.  Andri, my horse, was getting his nails done.  Horses need to have their hooves trimmed every six to eight weeks or so.  A couple of my friends who I consider my chief advisors were there also.  Jackie says to me - well, why don't you go on your trip anyway?  I said - I can't - I don't have a car.  I have a staple in my head.  It just wouldn't work.  Jackie says - this will be good - you can practice driving that new motorhome without hauling a car behind you.  If you need a car, you can rent one along the way.  Any nurse will take that staple out of your head.    After pondering it for a moment or two, I thought that this is an absolutely brilliant idea.  Why not?

I am leaving town Friday morning.  I think I am going to change the direction I travel.  Instead of going to Big Bend National Park in lower Texas, I think I will go to see the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama.  Spend a few days on the beach and then head up through Alabama to see my friend Kathy in Knoxville.  There are a few National Monuments/Historical Parks along the way that I can knock off my list.  I am stoked about the thought.  Especially since it is supposed to start getting cold again this weekend.  I am so outta here. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Gods are Watching Out For Me

I have spent a great deal of time getting everything ready for my trip south.  It doesn't matter where, I just wanted to get someplace where I don't have to wear a winter jacket.  The plan was to leave tomorrow and head south, with a possible end destination of Big Bend National Park.  I made no reservations, I was going to be free and flexible.

Tuesday was a good day to leave.  There was a snow storm moving into the area late Tuesday afternoon that was to have significant snowfall and I figured I could get up early and go, beating the snow.  I had a few final errands to do today to get ready, last minute food shopping, oil change for my car and get to the bank.  I got out the door fairly early (for me).  We were having a sleet storm at the time, but it was supposed to pass in a couple of hours. 

I get about two blocks from my house and start slowing down at a stop sign.  But...there is no slowing down, I am skidding into the intersection.  I look up and Bam - I am hit by a car going about thirty miles an hour.  There was no way that either of us could have stopped.  She hit me about the area of the driver's side front wheel and spun me around.  I hit my head on the driver's side window and had a minor cut - with lots of blood.  You know how those head wounds are - all show, no substance.  The other driver seemed to be just fine.  My car is a 2013 Ford Focus Titanium.  It is pretty fancy and within a minute of the crash, the car was calling 911.  Her car lost it's front bumper and she was eventually able to drive away.  My poor little car was not so fortunate.  The whole wheel was caved in and the left front bumper was very up close and personal with the tire.  It was not going anywhere. The tow truck came and it was so sad watching my little car ride away with it's flashers going.  I really like the car.

Tomorrow I will get a rental car and the adjustor will tell me what is going to happen with the car.  The police officer at the scene thought the car would be totaled, but tomorrow will tell.  I am worried about all my tow equipment that I had installed in the car to enable it to be towed by the RV.
I will just have to be patient and see what happens.

Needless to say - my great adventure is on hold. Overall I feel very lucky - I am so glad that the people injuries were minor.  Everything else can be fixed.

A personal note to self:  As I looked up and saw the other car come crashing into me I had time for a few thoughts.  In the accident aftermath, I'm thinking those thoughts could have been my last words.   Imagine my dismay when I realized that my possible last thoughts were not very profound.  My last words would have been "Holy Crap".  So, Cindy - work on those last words - come up with something perhaps a little bit more elegant.   

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Start of a New Phase/Life/Adventure

For a little over two years, I had a 2006 30 foot Class C Forest River Lexington 283GTS.  It was my first RV and it was a great introduction to the world of RVing.  It had 50,000 miles on it when I got it and it was starting to show it's age.  With that rig, I learned more about what I like, what I didn't like. 

This February, I made the mistake of going to the big RV show at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  I found my dream home.  Or at least close enough to what I think is my dream home.  It was a Jayco Precept - a Class A.  It is 32 feet - a little bit longer than the old one, but still manageable. Actually if truth be told, when I went yesterday to pick the Precept up at the dealer - I thought to myself - holy cow - this thing is huge.  I think it is the big front window that makes it look so intimidating.    It took care of most of my major issues with my little Lexington.  There was no carpeting (carpeting - one of the dumbest ideas ever to put in a camper - we are camping - sand, dirt etc).  It had bedside tables.  Storage, storage, storage.  And counter space.  It doesn't rattle when I go down the road. 

For years I've been telling people - you are nuts to buy a new vehicle.  You lose so much money right off the bat and then you have to work out all the kinks.   What did I do?  Buy new.  I bought it from Hilltop Trailers.  I have got to tell you - these people are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.  From the finance guys to the service guys - it was such a great experience - I highly recommend them. 

I spent today moving into the Precept.  I had no idea I had so much "stuff".  I also spent time looking at manuals.  There are so many bells, whistles, buttons - it is going to take me a long time to figure it all out.  But what fun. 

I am in a hurry to get everything set up.  After this Minnesota winter, I just want to head south - south to a place where I don't have to wear a jacket.  I'm hoping that I can get on the road by early next week.