May 5

Oh Baby

Met up with my niece and met my first great niece. This is one cute baby!

Caedyn

I got to spend some time with her and play musical toys. One of her toys plays classical music, so we banged on cups, shook a rattle, and made the popcorn machine pop.

Interested in Geordie at dinner time
Oh those eyes!

Of course she’s in a “clingy mama” stage, but she was fine with just me for about 45 mins.

My niece told me that when I visit Mount Vernon, Geordie could go. On Wednesday I took him over and wandered the grounds. With his new Rex Specs goggles we were mobbed by a lot of high school girls wanting to pet him, and also lots of questions about the goggles. While it was fun, it did get old fast. Geordie was on his best behavior.

Geordie at George’s place

On the plus side, one woman asked about them and told me her dog has Pannus. I told her and her friend that Geordie has it and that was the reason for the goggles. Her friend looked up Rex Specs on her phone, and the woman thanked me for the information. In the end, the distraction with all the girls was worth it to help another dog with Pannus.

Wednesday night Caedyn stayed home with dad, while my niece and I went off to the ballgame. I’ve now seen a new baseball park. It was a good game too, close score, Nationals 2, Diamondbacks 1.

Tonight I’m taking them out to dinner and I have more time with Caedyn today.

It rained like nobody’s business last night and this morning. I saw flood warnings online.

I’m here through the weekend then off to the North.

That’s about all I’ve got this week.

Until next week,

Rob

April 29

History

Around here in Virginia, you can throw a feather and it lands on history.

Last week, back in Charlottesville, I took the trip to Monticello. Beforehand, I took Geordie to a dog daycare kennel then off to Jefferson’s house. It was a day filled with rain. I drove to the visitor center a bit early and bump my tour time up. I got to watch the end of the movie in the theater and the beginning.

The shuttle dropped us off and we waited outside. Once inside we were in Jefferson’s two story entryway. The walls were filled with replicas of the treasures brought back from Lewis and Clark’s exploration across the country. A bison hide draped over a balcony and was painted by the Native Americans they met. Peace pipes and spears, and metals given to the chiefs of the tribes.

It’s hard to describe the parts of the house we toured, but it had many elements of a new house. Jefferson built dumbwaiters into the sides of his fireplace for wine to be brought up from the cellar. Pocket doors in one area he learned from the french. He designed french doors where, if you close one door the other side closes behind it.

No pictures are allowed inside the house, but I managed to take a couple outside in the pouring rain.

Spring at Monticello

There are many additional tours you can take after the house tour. You can be guided to the slave quarters and learn of their lives. Also a tour of the gardens with tastings is available. The garden tasting tour would be my choice!

Vineyards and fruit trees below the vegetable plots

I wandered the garden and was able to name more than a few of the plantings with my knowledge from my own gardening days. Lots of peas were growing tall.

If you find yourself close to the area, touring the house is well worth it.

Now you find me south of Fredericksburg. Yesterday I took a tour of the Civil War battles of Fredericksburg and the Chancellorsville. The tour of Fredericksburg is right in town and has a walking tour of the Confederate frontline. Also in the tour is a drive to the other lines of the battle. One was General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters. I didn’t know this, but some cannons could fire with a range of up to three miles away. Lee watched the battle from that vantage point and could direct cannons to fire on the Union troops.

At the gift shop you can buy CD audio tours of the Chancellorsville and Wilderness battles. It was well worth the nearly three hours for the Chancellorsville tour. It takes you down gravel roads where the Confederate Army marched, lead by Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

This is the house of the Chancellors they named it Chancellorsville. The battle raged all around the house. They finally left.
Confederate canon behind the Chancellors house, aimed at the blue line of the Union lines

Just to the southeast of the KOA campground is the place a wounded Stonewall Jackson died of complications from his wounds suffered from his own troops, in the Chancellorsville Battle. A shrine sits at the spot.

I think you could spend a month in Virginia just touring Civil War battle sites. Then another week visiting Jefferson’s, Madison’s, and Washington’s, houses and Williamsburg, which I’ll have to leave for a later visit.

I didn’t take many photos of the battlegrounds as it was really many battle fronts and a bit confusing to try and tell the story in the blog. It is better to look up the battles and find the maps of troop movements and stations.

That’s about it this week, thanks for joining my exploration of this amazing country.

Rob

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