April 21

The Love Tunnel

Appalachia

That title is a mash-up of the Natural Tunnels State Park in Virginia. It’s a nice little state park with numerous trails, with most interconnected. From the campground you can take Lovers Leap Trail down to an overlook (Lovers Leap) into the canyon. Unfortunately you can’t see the tunnels from there, you must head down the trail to the chair lift area and then go down that trail. The chair lift wasn’t in service when I was there but the trail down was a well needed stretch of the legs. The return trip was a good thigh building exercise.

Easter Flowers

I really liked the campground. There were two loops and the newer was Lovers Leap. It had a nice bath house and it also had a laundry area with two washers and dryers. Having the laundry was very helpful, as the town of Duffield didn’t look very tourist oriented.

From Natural Tunnels SP I drove over to Claytor Lake State Park. It also had an extensive trail system. While it rained most days, Geordie and I had no trouble adding steps to my Fitbit in-between showers.

Water carved wall
The railroad took advantage of the natural tunnel

Today I’m at the KOA in Charlottesville, Va. More rain is due this weekend, and I thought there would be a break on Monday when I have my ticket in will-call for Monticello. That’s also the day Geordie goes into doggie daycare. It turns out that it’s supposed to be a 100% day of rain.

I’ve always wanted to visit Thomas Jefferson’s home. He was an experimentalist in many areas. Mostly my interests are in his gardens. Jefferson brought back many fruit trees and other specimens from his travels to Europe to test on his property. Some made it some didn’t.

Geordie looks have changed as he is now wearing Rex Specs goggles. The vet in Springfield, Mo. suggested Rex Specs to me. I tried the other goggles on Geordie way back when he was first diagnosed with Pannus in Calif. He hated them and at every opportunity tried to paw or rub them off. These goggles are so much better with a larger viewing area for him. Still, on day one he tried rubbing them off on my leg, but by day three he was fine with them and even while sitting outside without my supervision. Still, every once in a while he tries to rub them off on my leg.

Hollywood Geordie

Had a rough morning getting ready to leave Claytor Lake SP. I found a screw in one of my trailer tires. Luckily I found a repair shop on the road out, before the interstate, and he swapped tires and fixed the flat one. I guess it’s not allowed to plug a trailer tire, but he did for safety.

I’ve been thinking of swapping out these tires anyway. The standard tire used on many RVs are Goodyear Marathons. These tires have a well know track record of blow-outs and tread delamination. My tires are two years old this May. Most trailer tires should be changed every three to four years. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Big-O Tire in Charlottesville, so I’ll have to pray I can get to one soon. I obviously want a national company for warrantee repairs if something goes wrong. The other reason for getting new tires now is, I’d rather have them in Canada this summer than buying them up there.

That’s about it this week. Sometimes repairs are just a bump in the road to ones plans.

Thanks for following.

Rob

April 14

Round up

This is the update of the last two weeks.

First, my stay at the Columbus-Belmont State Park. I mentioned this was a Confederate fort but it was actually three different forts. All three had trenches dug by the soldiers and is an impressive relic. Some of the earthworks are over 12 feet high. That’s a lot of manual labor by the men with shovels. For more on the battle  http://columbusky.com/battle-of-belmont.php

The mighty Mississippi

On the road to Louisville to visit my cousin, I once again found myself passing through towns of famous musicians. On an overnight visit in Center City, Ky, I drove to the Walmart and my GPS told me to turn on Everly Brothers Way. On an internet search, Don Everly was born not far away in a now long forgotten town of Brownie. The drive to Louisville on I-69 I saw a road sign stating the town of Rosine, Ky, was where the famous Bluegrass guitar and mandolin player and father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, was born.

The visit with my cousin and her husband and two of her four daughters was great. (I’ll use their initials) L. is the oldest cousin in the family on my father’s side and she told me a few new things about the family and my father. One thing my sister and brother always wondered was where my father’s middle name came from. Well, L. knew and told me it was name of the Mayor of London, Eng. the year my Dad was born. Why and for what reason, no one knows.

I had a really nice time talking with L.’s husband G. We haven’t seen each other, possibly since their wedding. I was only about seven or eight. So, we’ve never sat down and had a good talk. We found we have a lot in common, especially our love of history and Winston Churchill. We also talked on many  other topics. I had a great time talking with G.

Their youngest daughter, J., was there and I learned she wants to learn more about wine. Being a former “wine guy” in another life, I suggested reading a few books from the library and tasting more wines. One other area is the memorization of aromas. Many of the smells in wine you can find in your spice cabinet and jars of jams. Of course there are many more aromas, but it’s an easy way to start right in your cupboards and fridge.

L. and G.’s second oldest lives a town away and got back on Sunday from their spring break, and invited us over for dinner. P. is all grown up with two daughters. It was really a fun evening and meeting her husband and talking with P.

While in Louisville L., G., and J. took me on the tour of Churchill Downs. I got to see the layout of the paddock and track and I put it together what I’ve seen on TV. There was a really good museum and movie to watch before the tour. Not really being a horse betting man, I almost wanted to place a bet then and there. Alas, no races until the Derby. Lots of workers were sprucing up the buildings readying for the first Saturday in May.

Anyone who’s watched the Derby knows these spires
The riders mount in the stalls and then they circle the paddock before heading to the track.

Another trip to town was over to the Louisville Slugger Museum. It’s an impressive tour. All the bats are made right there in downtown Louisville, and it’s not a giant building. Would you believe the automated lathe can carve a bat in 30 seconds? That’s how all those bats can be made in one small building. On the tour the host hands out bats to look at and I almost stole two. One was a signature bat, the type with burned in signature. They had an Ernie Banks bat there. Ernie Banks passed away in 2015 and was known as “Mr. Cub.”  I grew up watching Ernie and remember his 500th home run. The other bat was a commemorative bat from the Cubs World Series win last year. I wanted those bats so bad. I asked the host about whether they still make the bats made for players once they retire or pass away? He said they will only make them for a family member. Now I really regret not stealing that Ernie Banks bat!

After my visit in Louisville, I drove south and past (get your coon skin caps on) the old Fort Boonesborough State Park. I went further to the Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park.

Walking with Dan’el and Mingo

I walked part of the Boone Trace trail. I walked in old Dan’el Boone’s footsteps.

After a few days, I drove under Daniel Boone’s footsteps in the tunnel of Cumberland Gap. The Cumberland Gap mountain route was the way west into Kentucky, Tennessee, and beyond.

Part of the park has the old mill building
Old mill
Like a rolling stone
Can you catch the spelling error?

I arrived yesterday at Natural Tunnels State Park. Let me tell you the drive up was beautiful with the large mountains and even larger valleys.

It feels like spring is here in the East. I learned a new tree back in Levi Jackson SP. The palest yellow blossoms on a small tree is the Dogwood tree. To see a photo check my Instagram page. “KnomadTracks.”

Well, this is pretty close to double “issue” of my weekly blog post, so I’ll sign off.

Thanks for reading.

Rob

March 31

Rain, Rain, and the Wish for Sun

Geordie’s vet appointment in Springfield went really well. She said that Geordie’s eyes look great, and I can ease off on the steroid medication over the next two weeks. Hoorah! I know Geordie will be happy to only one med twice a day.

Spring Flowers. Anyone know the name?

Unfortunately, I never got to the Civil War Battle site, Wilson Creek, south of Springfield with all the rain. From what I read it was the first civil war battle west of the Mississippi River, and where the first Union General died in the Civil War, but the Confederates won this battle.

I did take a wander around the Bass Pro Shop in town. It’s a Big store. I picked up some fly tying material I’ve been needing for a while. Almost bought a motor boat to tow in back of the Nash. No, not really. I like the fact that having a canoe eliminates the cost of licensing a trailer and the gas for the outboard. Luckily I came out without damaging the credit card. I think Cabela’s, Bass Pro, and REI are stores are where I could really wear out a credit card fast, if not for some good will power!

That tug boat at the locks at Toad Suck

I almost stayed an extra day or two in Springfield because of more rain and possible tornados forming. But each day I looked at the weather, it was backing off on the rain until later in the day. So I made a break and took a two hour drive east.

I spent two nights in Van Buren, Mo. The weather backed off again into light rain with no severe  warnings.

Totem at the Big Spring RV camp in Van Buren, Mo

Now you find me in Kentucky and right on the Mississippi at Columbus-Belmont State Park. It too is a Civil War battle site. There was a Confederate fort here on the bluff on the Mississippi. A perfect vantage point to view any Union troops coming down river. The first battle ever fought for Ulysses S. Grant was right here.

I’ve passed a couple of canoeing rivers in Arkansas and Missouri. The Buffalo National River in Arkansas is just south of the Ozarks. I saw a few canoe outfitters on the road north. In Van Buren Missouri I was camped next to the Current River, the main river of the Ozark National  Scenic Riverways. Might be fun to come back and paddle down one sometime.

Current River looks like a nice place to launch a canoe

It’s been fun seeing new territory this winter and spring. I know I’m leaving the “south,” as I’m not hearing the southern “twang” anymore. But maybe more ahead, as I’m heading further into Kentucky.

I’ll be making my way to Louisville next week and visiting with a cousin of mine. The plan is to visit and take in the Louisville Slugger factory tour, and take the tour of Churchill Downs. I’m looking forward to both and seeing two of my cousin’s daughters, one I haven’t seen in decades.

I’ll take next week off. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.

Thanks, as always, for following my tracks across the country.

Rob

March 24

Seriously

I’m so glad I made it up to Springfield, Mo ahead of this storm. I even left a day early from Toad Suck Campground wanting to get settled beforehand.

I arrived here on Thursday with sunny skies. I took a drive, after setting up, and went to the Camping World to buy some MaxxAir roof vent covers. This will allow me to keep the roof vents open even in rain or while driving. With summer coming this will be welcome.

The vent covers also protect the vent lids. I only wished I had them last fall when the hail broke that bathroom vent lid back at Leesburg Dam SP in New Mexico.

I’m camped at a KOA campground just west of the vet I need to take Geordie to next Tuesday.

I’m able to receive some TV stations and this rain is serious rain. Its due to leave up to two and a half inches of rain. It started about three this afternoon and hasn’t let up. It’s moving slow and should clear about 2 AM tomorrow, but there could be a rebuilding of rain tomorrow.

Glad I have a canoe…just in case!

When I came into the campground I saw a Casita. I remembered the summer storms two years ago and getting stuck inside with the Illinois River at flood stage for two days.

Once again I’m glad that the Nash has a bit more room and I realized it was a year ago last April when I picked it up.

I made an overnight stop in Harrison, Ar Wednesday and the campground host asked about the Nash. He’s seen a few trailers owning a campground, but never a Nash. He and his wife are thinking of something smaller for them and he liked the size.

I was glad to move on from Toad Suck CG. It turns out that the local schools were on spring break. One family set up two tents next to me. There were a few small kids and when I went out with Geordie before bed there was only one tent. Later I heard the siren on the lock and later a couple of car doors shut. In the morning I found no tents. It’s scary camping out the first few times as a kid. Worse for dad when you have sirens and horns keeping the kids up.

That’s about all I have today.

Thanks for following my travels.

Rob

March 17

Quiet

One thing I can’t say for this campground is its quiet.

Not that there are throngs of people with radios blaring, but because of two things.

One, it’s on the flight path to the airport. The first few times I only saw small planes fly out. Later this week there sounded like military planes coming in about nine at night right over head.

The second reason is the dam. I put some photos up last week, but I didn’t notice that there was a lock. Every time a barge comes up or down the river a siren or air horn sounds. I haven’t figured out when one or the other sounds what the meaning pertains to. “Here I am”, “The lock doors closed” or some such thing.

I wanted to take a photo of barges in the lock, but the walls are too high.

I have noticed while on the bridge over the lock, that two barges fit side by side and also two in length inside the lock.

Again, since I can only see from the bridge, I think there is only one lock.

Ear plugs are a necessity at night. Barges come up or down at any time so that means the sirens or horns sound even in the night.

Conway is a pretty big town of about 60 thousand, and I took a drive into the old town center. There is a lot of activity downtown. Restaurants, banks, shops, etc. The one big problem I see is the traffic. Traffic pours through downtown as a way to get from one side of town to the other. There is a big shopping area to the east of town and two colleges on the west side. The other problem is parking. Roads are narrow and I saw one guy back in and out of a spot four times to get in.

I wish I had more to write and photographs. It’s hard to get excited to shoot pictures with the grey cloud cover. When is spring coming with its bright sunny days?

Thank you for reading.

Rob

March 10

Funny Things

I spent an extra two nights in Atlanta State Park so I could avoid the big storm last Monday.

Then as I was looking at my route ahead I discovered, after I decided to stay in the town of Hope, Ar., I remembered it was the home of President Clinton.

Funny how things pop up.

Back a few weeks ago, I was at Tyler State Park. I went to pick up my mail in the next town west. As I was driving into town I saw a sign stating that Lindale, Tx is where Miranda Lambert, the Country Music singer grew up.

Atlanta State Park
Seems even in Texas the pines have beetle problems. Best to cut the dead wood.

I stayed in the Hope, Ar fair grounds named Fair Park. Scattered around the ball fields and beef cow barns and swine barn are the pedestals with electric and water hook ups. I found an out-of-the-way spot, but found it was by the animal shelter. The outdoor yards faced me and everytime we came out or I let Geordie out the barking began. I didn’t really mind.

For $15.00 a night I didn’t mind that there was no water available yet. Luckily I had just enough water in my fresh tank for the night.

A grounds worker came by and asked about the Nash. I showed him inside. He really liked the size of the 17K. He mentioned there was a big RV show at the park a week back. All the salesmen wanted to sell him something larger, telling him he won’t be happy in something small. Anyway, he thought the Nash was just right.

Today you find me at a Corps. of Engineers park. I forget now and again about these parks. Every Corps. park I’ve been in has been really nice. I think every park charges $20.00 a night for water and electric hook ups. Not bad considering most are on a lake or river.

Dam on Arkansas River.

I’m at the funny name of Toad Suck Park. How on earth did they decide on that name?

The park is at a dam on the Arkansas River.

Big bluffs

Funny thing number three is, I’ve fished this river before. If you remember my days camped near Leadville, Colorado, that is were the headwaters are for the Arkansas River. I’ve fished this river and even rafted it with my niece and sister in Colorado. Now here I am two states away and camped next to it once again. It’s a bit bigger than in Colorado but in Colorado it’s more scenic.

Nice campsite with a river view!

I’m here for a week and a half. I’ll get the chores done in the nearby town of Conway. Laundry is far over due and I need a propane tank filled. One thing I learned about Texas is, when filling a propane tank they don’t charge you by the actual gallons filled. They just see the tank size and automatically charge the tank size. Thankfully, I don’t think in the three months in Texas I filled a tank three times.

From Arkansas, I thank you for reading and following my journey.

Rob

March 3

Spring in the South

I’m back. But to be honest, I almost skipped this week’s post too.

Sometimes I find it tough to put words together. I even attempted to comment on another blog, but deleted it because it sounded forced.

I’ve been attempting to write a blog in my head in recent days and I only had a few words strung together.

Spring is showing itself around these parts. In Tyler State Park I kept seeing a small tree with beautiful buds like a cherry tree. I asked a park worker and she said it is a Red Bud tree. It flowered while I was in the park. The trees aren’t clumped together but scattered about. Just gazing out a spray of reddish-pink in the under growth in the pines sticks out.

Red Bud tree

On my drive here at Atlanta State Park south of Texarkana, Tx. I saw a few Magnolia trees in full bloom. Then on Tuesday, I drove to town, Atlanta, Tx. I saw white flowering trees. Those could have been apple trees, but don’t hold me to that.

Violet

On a hike here in Atlanta SP, I saw some violets in bloom and other flowers I don’t know the names of.

I’ve been fully aware of the wild weather throughout the country. I’m heading to one area that was in a tornado watch area. Part of me wants to stay south and try a stay clear of the rough weather, but often the hard storms are in the south. Another part of me wants to head north and slide over the top of these crazy storms.

I’m in my last few days of “living” in Texas, and I’m ready to leave Texas behind. I’m glad I finally saw Texas close-up and now I can move on.

Everywhere in Texas you see stars including benches

I think I prefer Arizona and California for a winter layover. There is a lot more sun further west in winter. It’s also cheaper to campout on BLM lands!!

Red Bud blossoms. Smaller than Cherry trees

I have a couple of projects coming up for the Nash in April. I want to switch out my two 12 volt batteries for two 6 volt batteries. The amp hours on 12v batteries stay the same when doubled up. My batteries now have about 105 amp hours. I can only use about 25 amp hours a day to keep the batteries in good condition. Switching to two 6v, doubles the amp hours. Most 6v batteries hold about 110 amp hours each which doubles to 220 amp hours. Since its best to use only 25% of the amp hours, I now have 55 amp hours to use, so I double my available usage.

With the humidity and rain comes moss.

With the switch of batteries I also want to add another 100 watt solar panel. All together I’ll have 220 watts of solar which should be plenty to charge the batteries up each day, which is especially important in winter when the sun is low.

I appreciate your following along on this adventure with me.

Rob

February 10

98%

Not what I’m used to having lived in the West. 98% humidity was a bit too much for me last Tuesday morning, and it wasn’t even raining. Sleeping with damp bedding is the worst, even with the A/C on the humidity was in the 60s.

Mission Tejas SP visual humidity

I’m out of the “Pineywoods” now and at Fairfield Lake State Park. This park is doing some renovation and only one of three loops is open and this one has had a makeover. The large pads are as level as you can get. By the level on the Nash, it’s only a fraction of an inch off. When I drove in, the ranger saw my canoe and told me that he’d give me site #67 which has a small area where I can launch the canoe. It is a great spot with a little walk to the water’s edge and I plan on setting up a chair and reading there in the sun.

I have reasonable cell connection of two bars of 4G and 3G at my site. I’m glad I don’t have to sit in my truck uploading the blog.

I arrived on Wednesday and it was a warm 76º so I took Geordie down to the water and let him swim. He’s always happiest when he’s swimming or playing with the other dogs in the family.

I have a decent view of the lake so I got out the Windex and grabbed some paper towels and cleaned the back window. I don’t think I’ve cleaned it in the last three weeks. I think I may have said this before, I clean more windows on the road than I did in a sticks and bricks.

Before I left Mission Tejas SP, I saw on the TV the tornados in Louisiana and beyond. I’ve been concerned about bad weather. It’s one of the reasons I’m heading north beginning next month. I’d rather be cold and above the line of active weather, than the worries of tornados.

I’ve been looking ahead and I was looking at maps the other night. I’ll be in the Washington DC area visiting my niece and I was trying to figure out the best way to drive out of the area with the least amount of traffic. I notice that on my way north will be Gettysburg, Pa. I put a mental note in my brain to head over there. I’ve only been there once, way back on an eighth grade school trip. I don’t remember much of the battlefield. The reason may have been that there was a girl on the trip that I liked.

I haven’t taken any photos of this state park yet. I drove in on Wednesday and yesterday I drove into town for groceries. This morning I woke to a grey sky which isn’t generally good for photos. I’m actually getting tired of grey skies and I’m missing the Arizona and California winter sun.

The grey skies may also block the partial lunar eclipse tonight and the comet 45P. Take a peek for me.

Until next week, thanks for following and using my Amazon link.

Rob

February 3

What does Spain, Mayo, and Football have in common?

Nothing!

Alingment of Moon, Venus, and Mars. Mars very faint at top.

I’m in new grounds. I’m in Mission Tejas State Park for a week. Boy, is this one in the sticks…woods. If all you’ve ever done is drive on Interstate 40 or 20, you’d think Texas is a flat, dry, and sandy land. Get further south and east and you find lots of oak and pines. Fort Parker was filled with oak and cedar. In Mission Tejas is covered by tall pines and small oak. Sunshine is filtered at best.

The CCC boys rebuilt the mission.

The history of this park is one of Spain attempting to grab land before the French by building the first east Texas mission. The Spanish met a native tribe in this area and they heard a word that sounded like ‘tejas’ which meant friends or allies in the tribes language. The Spanish thought is was a name for the area which changed to the english spelling of Texas. The Spanish also created an El Camino Real and Davy Crockett traveled right here on the Real. Just to the Southwest is a town of Crockett and Davy Crockett National Forest surrounds the park.

Let’s all sing…”Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier…”

Also in the park is the home of the Rice family. The home was move to the park from property closer to Crockett. Looking at the notch corners it reminded me of an old book I had. If you’re as old as I am, you may remember the Foxfire books in the early 70’s. They were the results a  North Carolina high school project to record the country lore and oral Appalachian living history by students. I remember the log house building section had the same notched corners on squared off logs. I think you may be able to find the Foxfire books in libraries and on Amazon. There were about 8-10 books put out.

Corner joinery. For some reason I didn’t take a full shot of the house. ??

I’ve got a TV signal down in this ravine, which amazed me. I’ve seen an advert that I haven’t seen since childhood. Living in the West we had “Best Foods Mayonnaise.” Growing up in the Midwest we had “Helmans Mayonnaise” but I think they are the same company. When I moved west the same commercial song was used for the Best Foods mayonnaise.

“When you bring out the Helmans, you bring out the best.” Substitute Best Foods for the West.

Old Fire Tower Footing, 1 of 4.

I found there is cell coverage here but if you remember dial-up internet, it’s just as slow. I think it’s 1x or 2x at best. There is Wi-fi at the entry gate if you want a faster load.

It’s warming up down here, I even saw an 78º day coming. With being in the woods in warm weather, expect ticks! I’ve found two on me and one on Geordie. I don’t worry about Geordie with the flea and tick meds he gets. For me, every little tingle or tickle, I search for the little buggers. I hate ticks. Thankfully, I’ve never found one attached to me. Knock on wood, spit to the ground, and turn around three times.

Geordie in the tall pines

I took a drive yesterday down to Crockett for mail and dog food for Geordie. I really liked the feel of the town. The houses looked like areas where I grew up. For a change from the West, the streets were narrow, with just two lanes. In the West the streets in the new neighborhoods must be about five lanes wide.

I learned another interesting fact about state parks last week. If there is a lake and it’s encompassed by state park lands you don’t need a state fishing license to fish, it’s free. Fort Parker even had a fishing tackle loan program. Good to know if you’re a bass or catfish angler.

While I’ve given up following football, this will be the closest I’ll ever be to the Super Bowl. I didn’t even know it was in Houston until this week, and I’m about 90 miles north.

With football over that means more hockey on TV. Yeah!

Thanks for stopping by.

Rob