Thursday, August 18, 2022

In Florida, Not Home Yet

 

Yes, we are in Florida...but we have another 285 miles to go to get home.  Sitting in the Stay N Go RV Park in Marianna...a Passport America Park, but PA prices are not good for pull-through sites.  With the car acting up, I needed a pull-through, so we paid the $45 price for a pull-through.  Good thing is that there is a restaurant right next door, so we had a good dinner to-go, which we ate in the motorhome....just a short walk which I made without any problems.

Once we left the park in Tupelo around 7:15, it did not take long to get into Alabama.  Of the 371 miles we drove today, 310 of them were in Alabama, about half on Interstate, and half on US Highways.  The thing about the US Highways is that it includes stop lights, entrances and exits to stores and gas stations, etc.  Overall, we actually like this new to us route to Arkansas compared to the I-10 to Mobile, US Highways from Mobile to Jackson Mississippi, then I-20 into Louisiana, then another US Highway up to Pine Bluff.  The biggest factor is that this route has MUCH BETTER roadway conditions than our normal route.  Distance is about the same, the new route is faster, but it can have issues with getting through Memphis.

The other thing about this route is that it is prettier...lot less cotton and bean fields, more trees and green grass.  Will we use this route again?  I am sure we will.  In times of severe weather threats, which we get in Spring when we travel, having two options will be better in our effort to keep away from the hail and tornadic conditions.  Sure glad we finally went this way.

When we arrived at the RV Park around 3:30, we did not need to check in, and just drove right up to our assigned site since I called and reserved it yesterday evening.  It is a typical park with concrete slabs, grass on each side, and not much room between you and your neighbor.  If you want to use Passport America, you have to use a back-in site, which has no concrete.

Although the skies looked a bit threatening at times, we did not have rain from when we parked until late into the night...we hope all night.  All three of us are tired of traveling right now, and look forward to getting home again.  Lots to do once we get there, and we sure hope to get the car fixed.


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Rainy Day, COOL Weather, Wreck after Wreck

 

I had set my alarm for 6:45 to wake up and start the coffee maker...but at 5:45 it was still raining, having rained much of the night.  Radar said it would be over around 7:30, so I set the alarm for 7:30.  We got up at 7:20, hit the road by 8:00.  I was so soaked (no, the rain did not stop) that I put on a dry shirt as we left the park.  I was able to back up to the car, and then move the car about 2 feet and connect to the motorhome.  It won't be disconnected until we get home.

There is maintenance being done on the lock and dam.  We knew this because Marcia's youngest brother, Skevos, use to work on lock and dams, even in Arkansas (despite living in Florida about an hour north of us).  This group of workers is the same he use to work with, he was a safety monitor.  Skevos retired from the business a couple of years ago.

From Fort Smith to Conway we saw very little rain.  The weather front was flowing from the Northwest towards the Southeast, and for the most part the roadway was nearly dry as the storm had already gone by.

Arkansas' answer to the Groom Cross...I guess they really do make things bigger in Texas.

As we get close to Russellville the Ozarks come to an end east of the mountains in this picture. 

As we got closer to Conway, the rain started to come down, fairly good rate at times.  The rain, for the most part, lasted all the way to near Memphis.  After passing Little Rock, we saw our first of many wrecks.

THANK GOODNESS Marcia missed the wreck shot.  A pickup truck slammed into the rear of an 18-Wheeler, lodged under it, and caught on fire.  I have no idea if the person or people in the pickup truck got out, but the fire department was there along with many different police departments...the back-up went on for miles.

We saw a number of trucks which went off the road.  One was buried into the trees to the right of the eastbound lanes prior to this picture above, no police at either site. 

After filling up at a Love's Country Store and Truck Stop ($3.19 per gallon), we continued another 50 miles toward Memphis and crossed over the Mississippi River along I-55.  You have to be very diligent when you take this route through Memphis, there is a very sharp right hand turn as the Interstate heads south into Mississippi.  I was happy that there was no rain, but I am more familiar with the I-40 route through Memphis than the I-55 route which goes south of Memphis.

We then went east on I-269, and the traffic was light.


Then we headed southeast on I-22 to Tupelo.  Traffic was busier than I-22, but at times it seemed empty.  We are staying at the Campground at Barnes Crossing.  Thank goodness I looked on Google Maps and saw that the campground was north of Tupelo...

...because the GPS was going to take us a good 20 miles to the west of the campground.  I called the campground and the nice lady told me that the Google Maps was the correct location.  As I was talking to her, we hit a huge traffic jam.  Having just looked at Google Maps, I saw a detour which I followed a few trucks on.  Sure enough, we got around the huge wreck on I-22 and made it to the campground just before 5 pm.  A 400 mile, all Interstate drive took 9 hours!  Wow, that took a lot out of me.  Thank goodness the weather was in the 70's the entire trip.

The park is a lovely park.  The office is surrounded by wonderful mature plant life including flowers, bushes and trees.  Sites are spaced just enough to give you some privacy, and there are many trees providing a lot of shade...which, with the cool weather, we did not need today.

Tomorrow, we will be in Florida.


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Arkansas and Decision Time

 

We left Delhart Texas and headed South to I-40 at Amarillo, and then east on I-40.  Marcia caught this wonderful picture of the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ Ministries in Groom Texas with the rays of the sun shinning down on the cross.

With so much of the World in turmoil, everything seemingly falling down, we were certainly glad to see the cross before seeing the Leaning Tower of Texas also in Groom.

After seeing so much green, so much beauty over the past week, it is hard to find the enthusiasm to take pictures of dull Texas and Oklahoma...so we drove on and on, about 400 miles, till we got near Seminole Oklahoma where we stopped at the Catfish Round-Up RV Park, hooked into electricity, water and sewer, and stayed inside the motorhome trying to keep cool in the 100 degree, 55% humidity weather.   YUCK double YUCK!!


With just over 150 miles to go on Tuesday, we passed by pretty Eufaula Lake.

And eventually the Arkansas River.

Into Arkansas itself.

And finally parked at the Springhill Campground in Barling, just on the outskirts of Fort Smith.  I drove over to Walmart to drop off the batteries, and almost did not make it back with the car.  After all that work I did on it, it acted up today even worse than when we left Florida.  It was decision time...time to cut our losses and head straight home.  It was a sad call to my good friend and loyal employee for so long whose house we were going to driveway camp on for two nights and visit all the Libraries and my former Rotary Club...our visit in Pine Bluff is not going to happen.  I am afraid that if I unhook the HHR, I might not get it started again to hook it back up.  (It died 7 times just driving it to the dumpster here in the park after I got back from Walmart, where I almost did not get it going at Walmart after I turned the batteries in.) Here at the Springhill Campground I positioned the HHR so that I can back the motorhome up to the HHR to hook up, so we will be good to go in the morning.  From there, we are headed across I-40, then across I-22 to Tupelo where we have reservation with a pull through.  The next day we will make it to northwest Florida for the night, and then home on Friday...IF we don't encounter other problems.  We are not crossing our fingers, but we are holding onto the Giant Cross we passed by in Texas on Monday morning.

Thankfully, Marcia's cousin Jim picked us up in his huge older SUV, we managed to get Marcia up and out of it without any damage, and he took us to a BBQ restaurant nearby.  It was great to visit with him for nearly 3 hours, and Indy did not destroy the place while we were gone, but all the window covers were certainly amiss that she could get her little paws on.  Happy happy happy girl when we got back...now she is on the floor within eye-sight of us both...between us and the door! 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

From 75 Degrees to 95 Degrees -- WOW!

 

What a change 300 miles makes.  Here we are at Corral RV Park in Dalhart Texas.  Elevation is over 4,000 feet less than South Fork.  Temperature is 20 degrees more.  Trees and grass are still green, but the abundance of which is minimal.  Oh ya, we are also in a different time zone...might as well be in the Twilight Zone!

We left the campground before 8 am.  Passing by fields which could sustain many more cattle than currently being raised there.

Highway 160 was lined with small yellow sunflowers, or whatever type of flower.  The hills are green...is this really August?  I am use to golden grass in August.

We cross over the Rio Grande River one last time as it heads south, we continue east.

Somewhere over there to our north is the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

And our last mountain pass on Highway 160, La Veta Pass...just a mere 9,400 feet, a climb of only 1,500 feet from the 7,900 feet we were at when Marcia took this picture.

Up over the pass and twenty miles later we are getting ready to enter I-25 south, and we look back to the west from where we came.  We traveled just under 300 miles of Highway 160, taking seven days, enjoying the cool weather, and very nice folks whom we met.

The last miles in Colorado are on I-25.  On the other side of that distance mountain is New Mexico.

One last look at Colorado.  Now we have been across I-70 (me many times), across US-40, US-50, and have visited many parks, many mountain towns and passes, and we have seen many different wildlife...about the only thing missing this trip outside of a few deer.  What a pretty state.

We head down I-25 and find it to be a very bumpy, hard drive.  At the Colorado - New Mexico border we go over our last mountain pass...the Raton Pass at just 7,800 feet.  A few miles down the road in New Mexico and we turn southeast onto Highway 87, and another 125 miles we come to the Corral RV Park in Dalhart.  The car will remain connected to the motorhome, I only hooked up to the electric, and other than a 15 minute sit outside with Indy, we stay in the confines of the cool motorhome with the A/C cranking away.  Tomorrow our goal is to get on the west side of Oklahoma City, after we visit the Walmart in Elk City to return the old batteries.


Saturday, August 13, 2022

To South Fork Campground, South Fork, Co

 

As we left Target Tree we came upon a Doe and two fawns...one fawn is in this picture just to the left, behind a green bush, of its mother...the third went somewhere nearby, but out of camera range.  We got a picture of all three that I took, but it was blurry.

Got on highway 160 and fairly quickly we came to Durango.  This is the Animas River as you come into Durango.  At Durango we stopped at a Walmart for new house batteries.  Our last day at Target Tree we struggled holding a charge with our 5 year old house batteries.  Walmart had a special on their EverStart Marine & RV 27DC 750 MCA for $94 each.  Paid a core charge of $12  each for the two I bought, and off we were to get gas.  

 

Just outside of Durango there is a brand new Maverik Gas Station and gas was $3.85 per gallon!  Back on highway 160 and follow the river for a short distance, and then we head a more easterly direction towards Pagosa Springs while the river heads south into New Mexico.



There is a lot of high country ranch land between Durango and Bayfield, in the 6,500 to 7,000 foot elevation level.

Halfway between Bayfield and Pagosa Springs we drive near Chimney Rock National Monument.  This would be an interesting place to return to some day if we were able to do the strenuous hike to visit the Ancient Ancestral Puebloan Indian Village Ruins just to the right of the smaller, thicker Chimney. 

Pagosa Springs looked like an interesting mountain town, sitting at 7,100 ft level.  Sure has some pretty scenery surrounding the town, as attested by those mountains in the far distance.  Perhaps I should have had an 'errie feeling', but I did not.

So far it is just looking pretty...did not know that it would turn into "pretty high up" experience.





It was a very pretty, yet hard drive from Pagosa Springs to Wolf Creek Pass, Elevation 10,850 feet.  For miles and miles I was in second and even first gear...climbing and climbing at a rate of 20 MPH at times.  Cars passed easily, only a couple of trucks came up on me...thank goodness that they had a truck lane for nearly all of the climb, most of which seemed to happen within a 10 mile distance.  Traffic was very light, thank goodness.

With the tunnel it became down hill from there.  South Fork is at the 8,200 ft level, so the drop was easier and shorter than the climb.  By the time we got to the campground, I was EXHAUSTED! 

Don't know why but it seems that we have run into more parks which are or have just 'changed ownership' than ever before.  Unlike our experience at the boarder town between Nevada and Utah, these folks here are real professionals.  There was a computer glitch with my reservation which I made the day before we arrived (new computer system as of August).  I wanted a pull-through, but they were all taken even though the computer allowed me to register.  They did have a back-in site, and that would be fine.  But the new computer system was not allowing them to proceed, and the manager had to come up to the office to register me.  It even took her a bit of time.  All in all, it took about 20 minutes to register and pay for the three days. 

Lucky for us, it was a back-in site, with lots of shade...so when I changed out the batteries, I was in the shade the entire time.

A few of the sites sit along the South Fork of the Rio Grande River.  Below are some of the RVs sitting along the river getting this and other views of the river.  I think it cost an extra $10 per day for the view...


Here are the pull-through sites, which would have required us to unhook the car anyway.  I just like having the car all hooked up on the morning we leave...but the shade was sure nice, even though the day-time temps were only around 78 degrees.

NOTE:  I did not take pictures of the battery install, got too involved with it.  And YES, we were essentially running off of one battery.  Apparently the negative connection between the two batteries had come loose on the back battery.  This could have happened anytime on the trip from Sandy and Arny's to Target Tree Campground.  So I could have gotten another year or two out of the Interstate Batteries, HAD this connection not come loose.  One battery read at 12.4, but the one which lost its connection had dropped down to 12.0.  Still at a recovery stage, but who knows how long it would last.  All in all it took about 90 minutes to set up, do the exchange, and put everything away again.  Next Walmart we come to, we will get our $24 back on our charge card when I turn the Interstates in.