Slush, Mush and Sunshine

We set off with the Fred and Karen for a day sightseeing in the Gunnison and Blue Mesa Lakes area.  Friday had turned off rainy and much cooler, so we had postponed the trip until Saturday.  Saturday started off bright, but as we climbed into the Mean Green (our F250 pickup), a rainbow hung over the campground to the west.  Hopefully a good sign for the day, so all aboard and off we go.

Our plan: go over Cottonwood Pass, down to Turner Reservoir, on through the canyon to Almont and down into Gunnison.  A beautiful drive. As we headed up toward Cottonwood Pass, the clouds hung low over the tops of Mt. Yale and Harvard. Hummm, what was the drive going to be like?

As we got above the tree line we were definitely in the clouds and everything around us was obscured into a soupy grey mist.  Just over the pass, the paved road becomes packed dirt, except now as the rain began to fall, it was a yellowish brown slippery loblolly.  Hang on by the seat of your pants around the hair pin turns! Don’t get to close to the edge to give the big trailer room to get around the curve! Down again into the tree line, where the rain stopped and the clouds are back in the sky, where they belong, but the road is still a sloppy mess.  Along the road cattle are free ranging and we saw a few deer.  Tall pines close in tight to the road on this side, but you get a glimpse of a stream meandering down the way and beaver ponds every little while.  Once down to Taylor Reservoir the road is once again paved, but now the Mean Green is Yucky Tan.  Taylor is another one of those beautiful Colorado lakes dropped into a valley between high mountains.  It rushes out into a short canyon and continues down through a narrow valley to meet the Gunnison River.  This was our first time through the area between Taylor and Gunnison.  Awesome!

We spent some time looking around Gunnison, got some burgers and lunched at a local park.  The dogs were happy to have some time to stretch their legs, as were we.  Heidi had invited Fred and Karen’s Yorkie, Bella, to go with us.  From Gunnison we headed further west along the river to the Blue Mesa Lake.  Blue Mesa is Colorado’s largest lake twenty miles long with 96 miles of shoreline. U.S. 50 travels along the north banks of the lake, and crosses it at Middle Bridge to complete the journey on the south side. The area is filled with beautiful mesas, and deep narrow canyons. The Dillon Palisades stand out as a timeless landmark along one section of the lake.

According to the internet the lake is home to fresh water salmon and provides excellent fishing.  At the western terminus of the lake, the weather was once again closing in and threatening, so we turned around and headed back.  This time we took US 50 over Monarch Pass passing the Monarch Ski area, down into Salida and back to the Rolling Eagle.  It was good to settle back and relax after a long day of exploring.

 

 

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From the Front Range to the 14ers

And the Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.
You can talk to God and listen to His reply”.

Leaving Trinidad and the Front Range in the rear view mirror, we crossed through Wet Valley, where many memories of trips to Horn Creek Christian Camp (http://www.horncreek.org/)are always brought to mind.  Good times with good friends are always sweet to recall.  Out of Wet Valley through the Arkansas River Canyon on US 50 and on up to Buena Vista.

Leaving the Front Range

We have put our jacks down to stay awhile in one of our favorite places, the Upper Arkansas River Valley.  We are right in the heart of the highest concentration of 14ers in Colorado (mountains over 14,000 ft high for you low landers). I wrote about the valley in 2012 (http://www.pamplin.com/Blog/?p=903).  We have once again settled at Arkansas River Rim Campground.  Friends that we met on our last visit, Fred and Karen Peterman, are here as well and we are making some new friends as we gather around a picnic table in the evening for chats.

Trip to Turquoise Lake

A few days ago we and the Petermans drove up Leadville for a Pizza Hut buffet lunch.  Would you believe that as we were winding up, the manager taped a sign to the door that they were out of supplies and closing for the day!  She then came by the table and said help yourself to anything on the buffet, you are our last customers.  Well neither of us was the least bit shy.  We both took a large box and filed it with fresh pepperoni and meat lover’s pizza.

Pizza Hut in Leadville

From there Fred and Karen showed us a drive that circled the beautiful Turquoise Lake. At around 10,000 ft. this reservoir is flanked by Mt. Elbert and Mt Massive, two peaks that compete for the honor of being the highest in the Colorado Rocky range.  Surrounded by pines and sunk into a deep valley, the setting could hardly be more dramatic.

Turquoise Lake

We have had a couple of outings to nearby streams for lunch and exploring.  The lyrical sounds of water rushing and tumbling over rocks and boulders beckon us to settle down with a good book and just enjoy the fresh air and nature.  One such adventure brought kayakers and whitewater rafters going past us braving the rapids, while we waved and watched some of them get hung up on a particularly large boulder right where the river took a sharp turn.

We have been blessed with wonderful weather.  Every day a brief rain comes through, but never last for long.  The morning temps are in the middle 50s soaring up to perhaps 78 or so during the day.  Mostly the sky is clear and vibrantly blue. Last night we watched the sun paint the sky with rusty reds and oranges as it set through blue grey clouds hovering over Mt. Yale (across the road from camp)

The shadows from the starlight are softer than a lullaby.
Rocky Mountain high, Colorado. Rocky Mountain high.”

 

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Ham’n It Up with New Friends and Old

Drive from Quanah, Texas to Trinidad, Co.

Out where the deer and the antelope play and the sky is not cloudy all day – well almost.

Llano Estacado

Over the muddy Red and on across the Llano Estacado, staked plains, where mesas begin to dot the skyline, mesquite and sage stretch mile after mile with little towns like Hereford, Texline, Clayton, and Capulin interrupting the rolling plains.  The temperature soared over 100 up to 106. At stops it was hot enough to singe the hair off a brass monkey. We knew it was definitely time to leave for cooler climes.

We did get a bit of cooling off between Dumas and Dalhart when we drove through a rain squall. After a comfortable night at Corral RV Park in Dalhart we moved on into New Mexico.  It’s always fun to look for the lava mounds all through the large volcanic field along US 287.  Mt Capulin thrusting up over 7000 feet signals that mountains are just a few miles ahead. But alas, where have all the antelope gone?  We saw a few of those now elusive animals but not many.

Mt Capulin Volcano

We pulled Raton, our first pass of the year and descended into Trinidad where we took two nights at Lake Trinidad State Park.  Good thing we arrived early, the park quickly filled up for the weekend.  We had the “good fortune” to have several teenage boys obsessed with skateboards camping next to us.  As we arrived they were setting up ramps – what a racket!  Gratefully, they were gone most of the time we were in camp, so it worked out. (We heard that there was a skateboard competition in town.) The campground is set on a high bluff overlooking the lake and the views are fantastic.  Friday afternoon we watched a fast moving thunder storm roll in over the mountains, soon the camp was pelted with a driving rain and pea sized hail.

Storm coming over the mountains

Ham radio friends Bob and Mary Ann Coellin are building a beautiful home on a mountain ridge just south of Trinidad.  They invited us up to see the home and the magnificent views.  WOW.  Brady and I both would trade in the RV life style for a place like that. Beautiful trees and lots of wild life – a deer trail passes through their front yard.  Recently Bob heard a scratching outside their RV and to his surprise when he looked out there was a mountain lion practically staring him in the face.  Heidi was beside herself running back and forth, she had sensory overload.  We all went down into Trinidad and enjoyed delicious wood fired oven pizza and each other’s company.  The next night we met another fellow ham couple, RC and Mary Ghormley– and became immediate friends.  The 6 of us drove to Raton for supper.

Bob and Mary Ann's soon to be new summer home

On our way home we stopped for diesel, there was another storm moving through.  Kaboom!  I nearly got the wits scared out of me. A big streak of lightning struck just beyond and the thunder shook the station, we were grateful to get back to the camp and settle down.

Drive to Cuchara and Bob and Mary Ann's place

Stonewall on Co 12

 

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Deja Vu for a 5th-wheel Brother

Stage 1: Lavonia to Quanah, Texas

Finally we have the Rolling Eagle, our new Jayco Eagle 5th wheel, back from the shop with a smooth running slide. After a couple of days at Lake Lavon to test and load, it is off to Colorado for a shortened by much anticipated trip.  While at the lake we enjoyed a great time with friends, Sue and Mark Larson.  Thanks again for the delicious meal at Rosa’s’

Rolling Eagle

Bright and early Tuesday morning we were off, well early for a retired couple.  We arranged to meet Doug and Elizabeth Kilgore to travel together.  They were leaving from a relative’s wedding in Fort Worth, so we met in Wichita Falls.  Unfortunately they began to experience issues, first with an overheating wheel on the trailer, fortunately that was just a brake that had been adjusted incorrectly.  Then their truck started acting up, it would not exceed 30 miles an hour down the highway.

We limped into Quanah where he had the fuel filter replaced.

In the shop

Off again– no improvement – this time we did not even make it out of town before the problem was back.  After creeping down the looong 8 or so miles to Ole Towne Cotton Gin RV Campground, we pulled in and gratefully called it a day.  They called Good Sam Roadside Assistance had their truck towed back into Vernon for repair the next morning.

Good Sam to the Rescue

We were so reminded of our experience in June that caused us to turn back, we had our fingers crossed that the same will not be their fate.  We stayed at the Quanah Park on Wednesday to hear the verdict. Part ordered, hopefully ready on Thursday.  Thursday, – NO Part –the ordered part was not sent.  Brady took them to Wichita Falls to rent a car and that afternoon we went jacks up to head west.  Doug and Elizabeth spent a couple more days at Quanah.  The truck was repaired on Saturday and they returned to Dallas on Sunday.  We will miss their company along the road, but it was a good decision for them. We hope to catch them on the road again sometime soon.

We don’t have the dangers and problems of the early pioneers, but as we have learned this year, there are still problems to be overcome in modern day travel.

 

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Woops – Back up and Turn Around

The sun June has riz, the sun June has set, and here we is in Texas yet!

Overview – Stuck, stuck in Amarillo, no joy, not moving on, stuck! Arriving in the campground – what is that smell?  Burnt rubber?!  Uh Oh very hot wheel – RV repair not Colorado. Yuck. Pilgrim limped, groaned, and rattled into the thankfully nearby RV repair center. Confirmation, it is a wheel bearing.  Two days later, Pilgrim is finally freed from the shop, but with recognition of other possible problems looming, the wise decision was to return home, to find a new/newer 5th-wheel.

June 6 – We got off to a great start, jacks up and out of the campground early to beat the rain that was threatening.  It wasn’t long before we passed Decatur then up 287 for that looonng stretch north and west to Amarillo.  Traversing endless miles of red clay, peppered with the grey of twisted mesquite trees, and the grey green of sage.  Flung around are rugged mesas and weathered buttes. Imagination had me travelling back in time as we pass through towns like Quanah, Chillicothe, and Goodnight.  Images of cowboys ridding the open range, lonely cabins with pioneers eking out a living, Indian chasing buffalo, cattle drives and huge ranches flash into mind as the miles roll by. Most unusual, there has been lots of rain over the whole West Texas area.  Water is standing in the fields and more is predicted.  There was even water flowing in the Prairie Dog Branch of the Red River! But our great start came to a sizzling end when we arrived at our campground in Amarillo.

First Brady discovered a wheel was extremely hot, after several minutes of spraying water on the wheel, it finally stopped steaming and smoking.  Praise the Lord that we arrived here without incident.  If Brady hadn’t checked, Pilgrim could have become a crispy critter.  After two days of wait and worry, Pilgrim was finally out of the repair garage, but with the recognition that our problems were greater than the wheel bearing. The water damage that we had considered slight and something that we could repair, was much more extensive.  During our wait we did squeeze in a side trip to Palo Dura Canyon, but could not spend much time exploring, since we needed to stay in cell phone contact with the repair garage and the canyon does not have cell coverage.

June 9 – Back at home, we began the search for a new/new to us home for the road.  So many, yet so few that we would consider.  My requirements:  big tinted windows, rear living area with comfortable seating including a recliner (hopefully two), sufficient cabinetry in the kitchen to hold the supplies we take on the road, a wardrobe with a dresser in the bedroom, hopefully two ACs for those hot Texas summers, and a freestanding table –not a booth. Brady’s: not longer than 31 feet, preferable under 30, good underneath storage, no water damage.  After looking at a few pre-owned 5th Wheels, and discovering some potential water damage in at least one, we decided on a new RV.  It seems that 5th wheel manufacturers think we all want really long ones, so the shorter length definitely put some challenges in our search. Jayco seemed to be coming out the leader.  They have a few shorter versions with nice amenities and good price. Everyone we spoke with had good things to say about their quality.  Our search was finally taking a direction.  We found a couple of very nice Jayco dealers in our area.  At first we were dealing with Gwen at Nichols RV.  She is super nice, honest and helpful, unfortunately that deal did not work out for us.  We then drove to Ft. Worth to Vogt RV.  Here Anthony showed us a couple of Jaycos.  I fell in love with the Eagle 315RLTS.  It has all the features that I wanted and was close enough for Brady’s wants. So it is good bye to our good friend Pilgrim, we had lots of good memories traveling with you.

June 21 – TADA!! We will pick up our new Jayco Eagle later this week! Once we take delivery and get better acquainted with it, I’ll post pictures.

 

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Jacks Up, Head em Up and Move em West

Speaking of commencement, (see A New Phase of Life) we too are on to a new adventure.  Its jacks up and go west, young man – well not so young, but west anyway.  It’s been a week of goodbye, so long for now, take care of yourself and The LIST.  Checking what to bring, what to leave, what do we already have at the RV – it’s getting easier, more organized, but it still takes way, way too much time.  We really had almost everything that we needed on our first trip out to pick up the RV at the RV storage place, but to give ourselves some shake out and checkup time, we took a week at Lavonia Park, our favorite local camping location.  I will post a review of Lavonia Park at a later time.

Brady is setting up his Amateur Radio equipment mobile for the trip. We have added his HF radio to the VHF we already had in the truck.  This involves a new array of antennas that will bristle from the top of the truck as we move down the road.  A big thanks to a longtime friend, Darwin Geiselbrecht, who helped set up Brady with the antennas.  Actually, as I understand, he is going with one HF and the VHF antenna, The HF one may be changed from time to time, depending on the conditions.  So if you see us going down the road, give us a shout, our call signs are W5LH and K5ETA.

It’s been a fun week at Lavonia, Sharon, Jared and Nicholas came out to visit and grill burgers, fly kites and play Frisbee.  They brought corn which was grilled in the husk (YUMM) and watermelon.  Even Heidi got a corn cob and a watermelon rind.  She had loads of fun with the cob and tasted the melon – guess she’s not a melon eater.  On another day Anita visited to get some sun and relaxation before we left.  She brought Mexican food from a favorite local restaurant, and a rawhide bone for Heidi. Which Heidi self-importantly carried around for a while then buried in the fire ring, carefully nosing the ashes over it, so it would be hidden for enjoyment at a later date.  Jokes on her, since we wont be here.

This week has given us time to begin to return to the quiet of nature.  At home there is always the TV going or music playing, and the computers humming, here we still have all of those things, but TV is rarely setup, and we limit the computers more. Its outdoors with the breeze and green grass instead, time to shake off the casing of indoor/city life. Here usually even in the heat of the day, the breeze still keeps it comfortable, at least in the shade. In the evening we spend lots of time staring upward, first at the sunset then star gazing.  We have enjoyed several beautiful sunsets.  There is still town glow from here, but more stars than in the city.  We really enjoy the iPad app, Star Walk, for helping us understand the sky above us – what constellations, planets, satellites and other celestial bodies we are staring at as we gaze heavenward.  It is really fun to use and easy. Find a good review at Bomb Apps, get it at the apple app store or a similar version at your favorite android app store.

Tomorrow its jacks up and head em up and move em west.  With the weather beginning to regularly hit the upper 90s inching to triple digits, mountains, pines and maybe the ocean are calling us.

 

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A New Phase of Life

Have you given any thought to the term Commencement? One of those words that mean both an ending, a completion of a task, a final ceremony and on the other hand the act of beginning, starting out on a new venture, a new path. Life frequently seems to hand us that situation – moves, retirement and graduation. The season of graduations has come.  It seems that almost everyone we know is either graduating or going to a graduation.  Our neighbors went out of state to relative’s graduation. Friends graduated from seminary. One of our grandsons graduated from kindergarten and our eldest daughter graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).

On My Way

Graduation ceremonies have changed since the time I graduated in some ways and in others they are much the same.  Pomp and circumstance, formal speeches, handshakes as the graduate walks across the stage, yet her ceremony was one of eight that UTD held.  People were shuffled in and out ike at a football game.

Nicholas’, the grandson’s, was a small affair.  The teacher called each one up and gave a brief insight into each K5’er character in her class and their development during the time she had them as a student.  It was sweet and cute and held in the classroom.

Look Out First Grade, Here We Come!

Anita, our daughter, went back to school after about 20 years of working in the business world, but her dream of teaching elementary school children had reasserted itself, and she followed it back to the university to complete an unfinished degree.  The first step in accomplishing her dream was accomplished not only a degree but earned with Cum Laude honors.

We all have our dreams, but many of us fall victim to the lies such as “wait, right now you need to buckle down and be responsible” and “be safe by staying at your day job”, or the classic “That’s impossible! You might fail.”   If the other excuses don’t get you then there is the clincher “That sounds like too much hard work.  Of course all of them have some element of truth.  Keeping that old job could be safer, and easier to not step out into the unknown to accomplish that dream, and most likely any dream worth accomplishing will be hard work.  In tough economic times, it may seem impossible. For many of us, our dreams seem far too lofty and maybe even dangerously naive when just finding a job can be a challenge. However, the other old saying can be applied – “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”. The time to acknowledge and act on your dreams – is when you feel them strongly calling. We strive to live by faith and follow the dream that we feel is from on high.  With perseverance and determination the dream can be accomplished.

We are proud of Nicholas and the stalwart young man he is becoming.

We are so proud of Anita in obtaining this huge leap toward her dream.

Congratulations to all the Graduates at whatever level.  May you find joy in fulfilling your goals in life.

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Spring – Joy

Yea!  Spring at last!  Birds and bees are returning, trees are leafing out, what a joyful time.

We have spent a few days camping at Lake Lavon this winter, but it’s been mostly brick and mortar for us the past few months. While central Texas weather can’t be called severe, we have had our share of freezing temps and power outages causing us to huddle around the fire and gladly welcome warm sunshine (at least until we begin to hit temps in the 100s – LOL)

The open road is really pulling, and the tangy air of pine and ocean breezes are tingling our sense of adventure.  Our plans are to head west, spending a good amount of time in Colorado, but Oregon is still a strong lure, we will see where the road takes us.  Anita receives her degree in May, so we will be local until then, but with plans to paint the exterior of the house and make some repairs on Pilgrim, we will be more than busy for the next few weeks.

A few weeks ago we enjoyed a sunny few days at Lavon.  While there Sue and Mark Larson joined us for dinner and visiting.  Sue is a coworker; it was fun getting better acquainted and meeting her delightful other half, Mark.  We hope to do it again soon.  An activity that Brady thought up for a dark night was light painting.  We were not very good, but it was fun and we had a good laugh at the results.


Anita and I enjoyed last weekend at Community Bible Chapel’s Women’s Retreat at the Lavon Baptist Retreat Center.  We had a couple of days filled with good fellowship, renewed friendships and excellent teaching.  Our topic was Joy.  Katie Hoffman taught from I Peter 1 that we as believers always are grounded in JOY, even though at the time we may be full of despair or experiencing trials and sadness, we will always have the joy of knowing that we are heirs of God’s kingdom.  It was a true blessing. Katie’s information can be found at her website:  http://www.katiehoffman.org.

Now that the weather is improving, we will be on the road more, and I will be on line more often.

 

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Reminiscences of a Trip East

Corn, Corn, Soybeans, More Corn, and Wilderness . . . Mosquitoes and Rain

Our Trip to the East

Over the last couple of months we have enjoyed touring the east both Southeast and Northeast.  Our first trip in that direction in the RV.  There have been so many experiences, beautiful sights, bits of history and some surprises.  Now that we are back home, I wanted to share a few reminiscences.

 

We have seen at least a small part of most of the major ranges in the Appalachian Mountains.

 

    • The Cumberland Mts. in Tennessee
    • The Blue Ridge Mts. in Virginia
    • The Alleghenies in Maryland & West Virginia
    • The Catskills Mts. in New York
    • The Pocono Mts. in Pennsylvania
    • The White Mts. of New Hampshire

 

The Appalachians chain as a whole are scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and seemingly culturally booming lands.  They are a barrier to east-west travel as they form a series of irregular ridge lines and valleys extending from central Alabama all the way into southeastern Canada.  Scenic Overlook - near Cumberland, MarylandI would tend to categorize them as rolling hills, what with being a Rocky Mountain High kind of girl, it’s hard to really think of the Appalachians as mountains.  The highest peak is just over 6,000 feet.  We don’t really consider that we have reached the mountains in the Rockies until we have ascended over 8,000 feet.  But for all of that they are imposing in their own way.  The ups and downs can be steeper, and more compact.  Everything is a lush green, the fields and open valleys are covered in either a verdant green or planted in corn or some other crop (looked like soybeans mostly).  Then the heavily wooded wilderness with hemlocks, maples, and a variety of hard wood trees.

 

The historian in me revels in experiencing places of legend.  In these mountains major events in the early formation of the United States played out.  Here much of the French and Indian Wars took place as the colonist and British fought the French allied with the Indians for control of the land.

Louis & Clark Memorial

Then it was the colonist with the cry of Manifest Destiny who moved out into the mountain regions against the laws of the British, eventually becoming a contributing factor in the Revolutionary War.  Again the British invaded this area in their attempt to retake their former colonies in the War of 1812.  And yet again battle rang out as brother fought brother in the Civil War.  Indians clashed, pioneers struggled, towns grew and a nation was forged.  All said to state that there is a lot of history and adventure in these hills. A fun part of this walk through the past was visiting a piece of our family history in Pamplin City and Pamplin Civil War Historic Park in Virginia.

 

We first entered the Appalachians in the Smokes in Tennessee, they were beautiful with smoke like clouds rising up from the upper levels.  There were hundreds of rafters enjoying the white water river that we passed along.  It was cool and rainy

so I considered them both brave and fool hardy rafting a cold river in the rain.

 

Then we drove through the Blue Ridge area, seemingly steeper than the Smokey,

After our foray to Atlantic beach areas (very unwelcoming to RVing tourist with pet) it was on into the White range of New Hampshire and the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont, which we truly enjoyed.  The terrain was rugged with rocky streams gurgling long the roads and places to pull off and enjoy the scenery.but since it poured rain, it’s hard to describe them.  They do contain the highest peak of the range at 6,684 feet.

We drove through the southern edge of the Adirondacks in New York on our way to Niagara Falls.  What an experience!  The Great Lakes are amazing!  Niagara Falls – the power, the overwhelming majesty of the Falls – no picture can do justice. Then as we made our way back to Connecticut we crossed through the Catskills.  The Catskills are beautiful rolling hills with the same wilderness but more agricultural and ranch land than in the other areas. The Poconos of Pennsylvania with quaint villages along the road came next.  Then the wild Alleghany’s of Maryland and West Virginia steeper and more challenging than any other than perhaps the Green Mountains. Out of the Appalachians across foothills and into the Ozarks, more beautiful green lush mountains, yet different. Then back to the plains of Central US and Texas.

 

The rivers were another marvel.  The Hudson, Connecticut, Delaware, Tennessee, Cumberland, Susquehanna, Potomac, Ohio, and of course the granddaddy of them all the Mississippi.

Lake Onterio

So wide, so deep, with hills and trees rolling down to the water’s edge, just beckoning you out to glide across the water in a fast moving boat.  Needless to say, we took the high trestled bridges, imposing in their own right.  Just for good measure, the east is laced with canals.  We followed the Erie and crossed several canals of the feeding off the Tennessee.

 

An observation, we never expected to see so much wilderness, so much undeveloped land in the crowed, heavily populated Northeast.  The cities are crowed with narrow, winding streets, but just a stone’s throw away is lots of undeveloped land.  Guess we grew up with songs like Schoolhouse Rock’s ‘Elbow Room’.  Just like some Easterners expect us to all wear cowboy boots and ride horses, I did not expect so much wilderness.  No horizon to be seen.

 

It’s nice when you’re kinda cozy, but
Not when you’re tangled nose to nosey, oh
Everybody needs some elbow, needs a little elbow room

That’s how it was in the early days of the U.S.A.
The people kept coming to settle though
The east was the only place there was to go

Oh, elbow room, elbow room

Got to, got to get us some elbow room
It’s the west or bust
In God we trust
The way was opened up for folks with bravery

There were plenty of fights
To win land rights
But the West was meant to be
It was our Manifest Destiny!

Second observation, the New England area does not seem to be oriented toward camping, particularly RV camping.  Even with the internet, Woodall’s and other resources, we did not always find suitable campgrounds.

Many of what we did find were older, less well kept-up, few offered Wi-Fi and or cable.  Most had only central dump stations. Even so they were more expensive than the sites we frequented in our western travels last summer.  But the people were friendly and we were frequently accosted with, “Hey, are you really from Texas?  Boy, you’re a long way from home!”, or “What are you doing up here?”  Very friendly, but surprised to see someone from outside of the general area.  It was not uncommon to be have someone walk up to us in a parking lot and start up a conversation with “ Really from Texas?”

 

Corn, Corn and more Corn

Third observation:  Corn!  I have never seen so much corn planted – Ethanol must be the answer to the universe’s problems.  If tobacco ruined the soil for southern plantations, what must corn be doing, at least without modern soil enhancements?   I know little of farming so I am no one to comment, it was just interesting to be traveling along on a state highway with corn growing so close that you could almost reach out and grab an ear as you drove by.  Everywhere we looked from Mississippi to the Great Lakes and back corn has been the major crop.  Seas of corn waving tall adding to the green with their yellow tassels atop.

 

Yet another observation:  We evidently picked an extremely wet summer to explore the eastern US.  There have been record breaking rainfall amounts.  Several of the areas have been either recently flooded or so saturated as to be considered boggy.  News relayed stories of a “constant trough of low pressure n across the eastern U.S. for several months providing the U.S. Southeast plenty of rain and unseasonably cool temperatures for the heart of the summer.  . . . As soon as these systems push into the Southeast, they have literally stalled and provided a constant source of moisture, producing unusually high amounts of precipitation totals.” Of course this brings out the mosquitoes in droves.  One place we stayed they were so bad that we could not stay outside, even with repellent on.

 

It has been a fascinating, enjoyable trip.   The highlight was definitely spending time with our family in Connecticut.

 

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A National River

Where we are and where we have been this summer

Never heard of a National Scenic River before, and even if I had, I’m not sure that I would have looked for it in northern Arkansas, but that is where we have set up camp for the last stage of our summer escapade. Established as the first National Scenic River in 1972, Buffalo National River flows freely for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states.

Undulating hills

A LONG, LONG day of travel, over 400 miles, saw us leaving the foot hills of the Allegheny Mountains behind, and crossing some beautiful farm land.

 

Gateway to the West

We blew past the arch that commemorates the gateway to the west in St Louis, (been there and done that before), and soon found ourselves once again climbing and descending hills, this time in the beginnings of the Ozarks of Missouri.  The Ozarks are a land of caves, rivers and springs hidden away in low mountains covered in green, but with many white limestone bluffs jutting out of the sea of green.

Entering the Ozarks

After a night in St Robert, Missouri, we completed the 200 miles to our destination, Buffalo Point Campground. This is an attractive campground that is right along the cliffs of the river.  With lots of activities like hiking, swimming and bird-watching, this is a place that won’t ever let you get bored.

Now where did that squirrel go?

A deer along the road

Many deer call it home and we knew we had picked a great place when we saw several even before setting up camp.

Birds abound in the trees, their various songs vying for attention.  Hawks were flying high overhead. Of course there are an abundance of large flies, gnats, and enough mosquitoes to send us running for the repellent.

Wonderful isolation.  Arriving on Tuesday evening, the week that Arkansas schools resumed for the fall, left the campground nearly deserted.  We had our loop all to ourselves until Thursday. In order to get phone service we had to make the mile or so drive up to the ranger station where there was just barely enough service to complete calls.

Looking down at Buffalo River from an observation point

No trip would have been complete without a hike down the bluff to the river.  There was a large shingle of river rock, then deep sand and beautiful blue green river.  At the point where we were the river is slow moving and languid.  Higher up, toward the beginning it is characterized by white water and water falls.  Perhaps we will return to explore that area another time.

looking down at the river from above at the boat launch parking

We waded and coached Heidi out deep enough for her to swim.  I think that it surprised her that she could.  At first she was slapping the water, but soon leveled out and did a good dog paddle.  Perhaps one day she will become a water dog after all.

Your Sure?? Am I doing it right?

Beautiful clear river

What kind of bug is this?

 

 

 

 

 

A lacy little spider web

an interesting vine

Just floating past

Buffalo Point CG Site 63

Saturday morning so jacks up – just one more night out before making it back to home.  Can’t wait to see the family.  Even with all our fun, we have missed them all.

 

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