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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sitting out the wind......

7:07 am - Sunday - January 20th - Vernon, TX - 26º F, 84% humidity, wind 2 mph out of the south by southwest....mostly cloudy today with a forecast high of 55º F, but we will not be here for that......we roll our wheels in 2 hours!  In fact, our destination for today will have a high in the 60's......much more preferable!

Saturday was just a layover day, plain and simple.  When the wind is blowing 25-35 mph all day out of the exact direction you must travel it is time to sit still and wait it out.  We always allow enough time to get to destinations so that we can take a day, or two off to let weather conditions improve.  This layover is precisely why we rarely ever make reservations.  Once you make reservations you are kind of locked into a schedule which must be adhered to, or many phone calls will result in cancelling, and/or changing reservations.   And that brings me to the present.  

I'm sure some of you have wondered why we left I-10 back in Baton Rouge, and are gradually moving north and west to I-40 where it is windier and colder than the much preferred southern route along I-10.  Well, our current destination is Flagstaff, AZ at 7,000 very cold feet in elevation.  A year ago just after I had my stroke I sought a consultation with a local surgeon to have a cyst in my right cheek saliva gland removed.  As far as we know it is benign, but it is getting bigger as cysts are wont to do.  At the time the surgery was scheduled for early March, right after we finished our tour of duty at the Desert View (Grand Canyon) General Store.  At the last minute my cardiologist (who treated me after my stroke) advised I should have no surgeries of any kind for a minimum of 9 months after my stroke.  That resulted in the surgery being cancelled and put off until after October 1st, 2018.  Well, we were on the east coast in October, and would not be back in the western U.S. until January, so I made a new appointment with my doctor which will be on January 29th.  Once I am reexamined a new surgical date will be set, and I will have my surgery some time in early February.  So, that is the reason for working our way up to I-40.  The cyst causes me no discomfort of any kind, but I'm getting tired of seeing this large bulge in my cheek when I look in the mirro, and would like to get my face back to normal....whatever that is.....:-)

The local windchill factor here in Vernon on Saturday was 21º F, and it felt every bit of that.  The wind and the cold kept us indoors most of Saturday until around 2 pm when we took a 2.1 mile walk around the campground and the Walmart Supercenter next door making two complete loops until we had surpassed 2 miles.  That makes our 7th consecutive day of walking one, or more miles each day.

Around noon time I headed outside by myself to dump our black tank, and then put away our fresh water hose, and sewer hose.  Since the overnight lows were predicted to be in the 20's (and they were/are) I would have had to disconnect the hose from the city water supply anyway, so I just put both of them away so I would not have to deal with them on Sunday when we hit the Interstate once again.  I guess I could have pulled out my heated water hose, but that would be more effort than I was willing to expend Saturday.  While I was at it I topped off our fresh water tank at 140 gallons once again.  

Many people with RV's do not like to travel with a full water tank, because of the added weight, and no doubt that is a consideration, but I have not noticed any discernible difference in my MPG carrying a full water tank (140 gallons of water @ 8.34 lbs. per gallon weighs 1,168 lbs.).  But that is not my reason for traveling with a full tank.  My reason is I am always thinking about the 'what if'.......what if we break down somewhere and need to stay in the Newell while it is being fixed?  Where will we get fresh water, and how difficult will it be?  That is also why I always dump our gray and black water tanks whenever we have the chance......I want empty tanks if we are stranded somewhere.   When it is cold like it is right now I always make sure we have enough propane on board to sustain us for a couple of weeks, or more of heating, and hot water if the need arises.

Each time I ventured outside Saturday I was happy with our decision to sit still Saturday....sometimes it was difficult to open our door the wind was blowing with such ferocity.......thanks for stopping by!

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Big, long views once again.....

7:45 am - Saturday - January 19th - Vernon, TX - 32º F (feels like 21º F), 68% humidity, wind 17 mph out of the north by northwest......partly cloudy today with a forecast high of 45º F.  Wind blew like crazy last night, and there was rain and hail at times......not big hail, but big enough to wake up one.

We chose to leave the Dallas Elks Lodge about 9 am to miss the morning rush hour traffic, plus we needed to take advantage of a good diesel price down the street at the Kroger fuel station ($2.39/gallon).  We arrived at the fuel station at the perfect time, so it was easy to pull up to one of the diesel pumps.  We had 10¢/gallon fuel credit with Krogers (earned through grocery purchases at affiliated stores) so that made the first 35 gallons $2.29/gallon.  I figured we would take on a total of 70-80 gallons, and I was close...we took on 79 gallons......35 at the discounted price and the balance at $2.39. 

By the time we finished that task it was about 9:40 am, and time to head northwest towards Amarillo, TX.  It took us 45-50 miles to extricate ourselves from the Dallas traffic vortex......

.....traffic, as you can see, was relatively light, but there were 6 lanes of it going each way for quite a distance, and at one time there were 9 lanes going north.......that's a little more congested that I prefer, to say the least......

......at last we began to be able to see a big horizon, and the freeway narrowed to only 3 lanes.......

....eventually it was down to two lanes each direction and very little traffic....now that is more like it!

It is pretty much always windy in the Texas Panhandle, and eventually we came to a large windmill farm......TLE caught a picture of one, but there were literally hundreds all the way to the big horizon.

Initially we had planned to drive only as far at Wichita Falls, but when we were about 25 miles south of our destination we decided to press on another 50+ miles to Vernon, TX where we would be just 176 miles from Amarillo.  Our decision was influenced by the fact that it would be quite windy Friday afternoon, and terribly windy on Saturday.  We do not like to drive in 25-35 mph winds, so we decided to drive the extra distance and sit still through Sunday morning when the winds will abate, and then continue on to Amarillo.

We arrived in Vernon, TX around 2 pm at a nice RV park situated directly next door to the local Walmart Supercenter where there is a gate allowing one to take a short cut to the store directly from the RV park.....perfect!  After hooking up to the utilities TLE started a load of wash after which we took a 1.4 mile walk, which included a stop at Walmart on the way back.  That's six straight days we have walked at least one mile, or more.

As we returned to the Newell the winds became more intense as the wind speed rose above 20 mph where it stayed the rest of the evening.  TLE prepared some Progresso Clam Chowder and a nice salad for dinner and that was our day.

We are now back in the land of big, long views, and how I have missed them!  We are also back above 1,000' elevation for the first time in a long time....by the time we reach Flagstaff we will be over 7,000' elevation!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Friday, January 18, 2019

"It's a small world after all...."

7:13 am - Friday - January 18th - Dallas, TX - 46º F, 94% humidity, wind 5 mph out of the southeast....cloudy today with a chance of rain this afternoon, however, we roll our wheels in a little over 2 hours!

On January 17th, 4 years ago, my beautiful daughter Sharon was married To Rod....she was such a beautiful bride!

My daughter Sharon's wedding day 4 years ago......left to right: Meredith, Katharine, Sharon, Chris and Tim

Thursday dawned clear and cool, but the operative word is 'clear'....no heavy cloud cover for a change!  In fact, it was quite sunny for most of the day!  I had several maintenance projects on which to focus my attention Thursday: 1) Clean the solar panels, 2) Apply 'Rain-X' to the windshield, and to both of the side windows in the 'cockpit', and 3) Fill up our 5 gallon gas can for our Predator generator.  'Rain-X' helps rain run off your windshield more quickly, and also prevents fogging.  I haven't applied it for some time, but with all the rain we have had lately it was time.

In between chores TLE and I walked for a mile along Northwest HWY, which borders the Elks Lodge here in Dallas.  On our walk we checked out the local Kroger Fuel Station for easy ingress and egress (their diesel price is $2.39/gallon).  Even though we have over half a tank of diesel, we cannot pass up this great price.  Diesel only seems to be more costly the further west we progress.

Upon our return to the Elks Lodge we retrieved the VW and drove over to the Kroger supermarket to do some shopping....the pantry shelves are getting a little empty.  After shopping we headed over to the Kroger station to fill up my 5 gallon gas can for the generator (Regular unleaded $1.79!).

A few months ago I was contacted on Facebook by a cousin I did not know I had.  Her mother was a Hockwald.  The father of her mother was Lewis Hockwald who was a brother to Lionel and Sigmund who founded Hockwald Chemical Company.  Both brothers were chemical engineers, and graduated from Stanford.  Together they developed formulas for household products still in wide use today such as 'Tide', Borax Soap, Lava Soap, Palmolive, and many others which do not come immediately to mind as I write.  I had seen the name 'Hockwald Chemical Company' in the L.A. phone book for years, but had no idea we were related.  At one time they were one of the largest landholders in the San Francisco area....amazing!

We knew we were coming through Dallas on our way west, and so I arranged with Cathy to meet for dinner Thursday night, which was our primary reason for stopping in Dallas for two days......

 Cousins Harry and Cathy to my right

....we met at 6 pm at Mi Cocina, a TexMex restaurant, for dinner and were joined by Cathy, her husband Wayne, and Cathy's brother, Harry.  We talked non-stop for over 2 hours about family history.  It was an amazing evening!  And the world gets smaller......by the by, the food was amazing....I had their brisket tacos.....yum!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Play it again, Sam.....

8:16 am - Thursday - January 17th - Dallas, TX - 53º F, 86% humidity, wind 9 mph out of the west.......partly cloudy today with a forecast high of 58º F.

We awoke once again to leaden skies, and cold temperatures....a very familiar theme.  Our modest goal for the day was to make it to an Elks Lodge near Dallas, TX where we will drop our anchor for a couple of days before continuing our ever westward trek.  Our travel distance this day was just 147 miles.  Once again the Interstate was flat and straight most of our drive.  About 80 miles into our day we took advantage of a Rest Area for an extended break.......

Our Rest Area was the one circled in RED

.....typically Rest Areas are oval in layout, but this one was a very long rectangle.....how long?  Well I know because we walked up and then back down the 1/2 mile long sidewalk for a total of 1 mile of walking during our break (per TLE's GPS program on her phone).

  We arrived at the Elks Lodge about 1:45 pm after an uneventful drive.  There was one site left (50 amp no less) and we were able to back our 62' into that spot without blocking any parking traffic.  I plugged into the 50 amp receptacle and then went inside to dial in our DirecTV when we got a call from our daughter Meredith.  She calls us often when she is driving somewhere, and that was the case this day.  While we were talking to her I saw a truck and 5th wheel pull into the Lodge parking lot.  I'm thinking "Boy, I glad we got here when we did!" as I watch the gentleman park his rig and walk over to the Newell.  At first I'm thinking he thinks we are the camp host, but when I open the door he advises me he reserved the site I am in the day prior by calling the office.....DOH!  There is no indication on the website for this lodge that reservations are necessary, or allowed.  There are a number of Elks Lodges that allow, and in some cases, require a reservation due to their popularity, but they state so on their website.  Nonetheless, he had reserved and paid for our site, the last site, the day before.

So, what do we do?  It's still early in the afternoon (about 2 pm), so I ask him for some time for us to come up with a 'Plan B'.  First, I check the weather forecast....the low for night is forecast to be 52º F.....not too bad....so we decide to just move over to a far corner in the parking lot to dry camp for the night.  In the end I think we ended up with the best spot, because there is no one parked on either side of us.....total privacy.....

 I think plan 'B' worked out pretty well!

All of the others are crammed into the corner in the left background
.....by the time we disconnected, and repositioned the Newell it was after  3 pm, and time for a nap....at least for moi.  About 5 pm TLE began preparing our dinner, which consisted of baked talapia (fish), and roasted vegetables (sweet potatoes, onions, zucchini, potatoes, and garlic).  With all the cooking shows we watch I have become interested in TLE's cooking style, and how she prepares these amazing dishes from scratch day after day, so I am now taking time to watch her preparation, and asking a lot of questions.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll cook her a dinner some day.

After dinner we watched some TV, and then read before heading off to slumberland once again.....thank for stopping by!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

West of the Mississippi!

8:16 am - Wednesday - January 16th - Marshall, TX - 48º F, 82% humidity, wind 1 mph out of the north by northeast.......cloudy today with a forecast high of 54º F.

As has been mostly the case for the past 5 days we awoke to steely gray skies and temps in the 30's in Vidalia, LA.  It was the first time I had awakened west of the Mississippi since April 29, 2018.  I had one big task to accomplish before the 11 am checkout time (besides stowing the city water hose, and electrical cord), and that was to check out our non-functioning city water pump.  This water pump is quite important while we are underway, and while we are dry camping/boondocking.  It quit working sometime Monday afternoon on our way into Vidalia.  Since our Jello plan called for us to be dry camping Tuesday evening near Tyler, TX I needed to either get this one working, or remove it and install the backup water pump we have been carrying around for 10 years for just such a situation.

The last time I had to deal with a non-functioning city water pump was almost 11 years ago, before we retired.  We were going away for a long weekend in the Newell and I discovered the water pump was not working.  We were going to dry camp along the Pacific Ocean north of Ventura, CA and needed it to be working.  I was still learning about our new to us 1982 Newell and just assumed the pump was broken and needed to be replaced, so I ran out and bought a brand new one at a local RV store.  Without checking the electrical connections to the current pump I just removed it and installed the new one.  It also did not work.....hmmm.  Must be the electrical connections, right?  I checked both the supply wire and the ground wire and found the ground wire was bad, so I replaced it and the new pump began working.  Since, apparently, the old pump was, indeed, working I decided to save it and keep it for an emergency.  Well, 10+ years later that emergency had reared its ugly head.

This time I checked the ground and the supply wires first, and found them to be fine, so I just removed the old 'new' pump and reinstalled the original pump.....

 The now non-functioning Shurflo water pump removed, and back in its original box from 10 years ago

The original Shurflo water pump reinstalled after a 10 year hiatus.......it still works!

.....in all it took me about hour to reinstall the original Shurflo pump, and we were good to go.  It was now after 10 am and time to get rolling!

We still had some 50+ miles left to travel on US-425 north to I-20, and then another 170+ to our destination for the day.....Marshall, TX.  The last time we were in Texas was back in late April when we passed through Amarillo, TX......

 The birthplace of my brother-in-law, Glenn Parker

......when we had covered about half the distance TLE received a call from her sister, Laureen, advising we would be passing through the birthplace of her husband, Glenn....Mangham, LA.....TLE made sure to snap a picture of the town welcoming sign for posterity's sake.

US-425 is a divided highway all the way to I-20.....very nice highway!

Just before 12 pm we merged on to I-20 westbound, and within 30 miles came to a very nice Rest Area where we decided to take an extended break, including a 1 mile walk around the Rest Area.  We needed to take on some propane as our 60 gallon propane tank was down to 1/4 full.  That's probably good for another few weeks, but I am all about taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, and there was a Flying 'J' truck stop about 20 miles before Marshall, TX that had a propane station, so we exited the Interstate around 3:15 pm to do just that.  We received good service and were quickly back on the road after taking on 33.2 gallons of propane......hmmm....we had way more left than I thought....those rascally analog gauges can be so inaccurate!  

By 4 pm we had exited the Interstate just east of Marshall, TX to avail ourselves of another Passport America park.  We had planned to dry camp at a Cracker Barrel, but the temps were going to be very cold Tuesday night, so we opted to 'plug in' for $20.  In all we covered just over 235 miles and had a very good driving day.....flat and straight!  We finally got sun late in the day, but by the time the sun set it was to a steely gray sky once again.  

Thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

'Paying the rent'......

7:31 am - Tuesday - January 15th - Vidalia, LA - 39º F, 85% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the north by northeast.......mostly cloudy right now, but forecast calls for mostly sunny later today with a forecast high here in Vidalia of 51º F.

We awoke to bitter cold, slate gray skies at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center,  and nothing changed all day long.  We had first to disconnect from our full hookup site, then drive about 7 miles over to a fuel station to 'pay the rent'.  It had been almost 900 miles since we took on diesel just north of Crystal Springs, FL and we were down to just under a quarter tank.  Using Gas Buddy I found a station selling #2 diesel at $2.39/gallon.....that is a full .40 cents less per gallon than the last fill-up, so diesel is finally beginning to drop.  We took on 125 gallons and change for $300.  When we are moving every few days we 'pay the rent' more often.  Prior to taking on fuel in Crystal Springs we hadn't had to 'pay the rent' since we topped off our diesel tank in Lebanon, KY back on in late October.  We determined we had average 6.9 mpg on this last tank of diesel.....slightly higher than the 6.7 mpg we averaged on the previous tank.

By the time we finished 'paying the rent' it was after 10:30 am, and time to get moving!  We had a very modest goal for the day.....just 117 miles north to Vidalia, LA (just across the river from Natchez, MS).  Based on recommendations from our hosts Forest and Cindy we left I-10 in Baton Rouge to merge with I-110 which eventually took us to SR-61 north to Natchez, MS.....

SR-61 northbound....a nice divided highway all the way to Natchez

......the traffic was quite lite on SR-61, and the super cold weather clung to us like white on rice for the entire drive.  We had all our chassis heater blowers on high for the entire drive north.  

By the time we hit Natchez and turned left on US-425 to cross the Mississippi it was about 12:45 pm.  In another 15 minutes we were entering the gates of River View RV Park and Resort right on the Mississippi River in Vidalia, LA.

River View is a Passport America park enabling us to stay in a $50/night pull through site for just $25 and change for one night.  We have never camped on the banks of the Mississippi River so this was a perfect opportunity to cross that item off our proverbial bucket list.

Once I had connected us to the pedestal supplying water and power we took a walk along the River covering about 2 miles round trip......

Big barge headed north on the mighty Mississippi

We just came across that bridge a few minutes ago....Natchez is on the right, and we are on the Vidalia side.....walking into the wind and all bundled up

Backs to the wind now.....

........River View is a very, very nice park sporting a large pool, and Jacuzzi.  The interior roads are gravel, but there are many long concrete pads in the pull through sites, which are very level, thank you very much!

Tuesday we will finish our trek northward to I-20 which we will take westward to Dallas where we will begin to angle north and west eventually hitting I-40 in Amarillo, TX.  That will take us almost all the way home.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Sunday, Sunday.......

6:46 am - Monday - January 14th - Gonzales, LA - 41º F, 78% humidity, wind 6 mph out of the the north......partly cloudy today with a forecast high of 54º F.  We roll our wheels in 3 hours!

Sunday was to be our last full day in Gonzales, and it was bitter cold most of the day.  The original forecast called for partly cloudy skies, but that did not materialize until late afternoon when it finally did warm up a little.  

About noon time I went out to dump our black tank, and found it still quite cold.....had to wear pants, a watch cap and hooded jacket.  Even here in the deep south it is quite cold this winter....at least colder than I was expecting.  On the other hand, our time in Florida was quite warm and humid....again, not what I was expecting based on previous visits this time of year.

We spent a goodly portion of Sunday morning, and early afternoon watching English Premier Soccer, and staying inside due to the cold....at least the humidity has been in the 70's, so we've got that going for us!  With the soccer matches playing in the background I spend time researching our route, and overnight options for the Canadian portion of our journey to Alaska, and making notes.

Around 4 pm we drove over to Forest and Cindy's home to have some additional discussions about our upcoming Alaska adventure, and take a look at our proposed route on a large map which comes with the publication called Milepost (Forest has the 2017 edition, and we have pre-ordered the 2019 edition to be received sometime in March) on which we traced our proposed route with a pink highlighter.  Being able to see it all on one page gives a lot of perspective.  The distance we will travel from SoCal to Alaska and back is just slightly further than we will have covered when we arrive back home from our 9 month trip to Maine (plus all over New England, down to Florida and home).

About 5:30 we headed out for dinner at a regional chain called 'Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers'.....they have only one item on their menu......Chicken Fingers....that's it!  They may only serve one thing, but they do it very well.  TLE and I shared the 'Caniac Combo Box' which includes 6 large chicken fingers, fries, and coleslaw......just the perfect proportions for us.

By 6:30 we were finished with dinner, and this final, in person round of Alaska planning, so we said our 'until next times', and headed home.  I caught the last 2 minutes of the Saints vs. Eagles NFL game, won by the Saints 20-14.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Local cuisine......

7:28 am - Sunday - January 13th - Gonzales, LA - 43º F, 84% humidity, wind 6 mph out of the northwest......partly cloudy today with a forecast high of 54º F.

As I wrote yesterday morning the rain began shortly after I woke up, and continued until late afternoon.  Just because it's raining doesn't mean we can go out and do stuff, so around 9 am Forest and Cindy picked us up to go to breakfast at one of their favorite beignet (pronounced binyay) places which is simply called 'Coffee House' in nearby Sorrento, LA.  Beignets are typically come in servings of three and that is how they are served at the Coffee House.  You can order a regular breakfast here, but we were there specifically for beignets.....

 Left to right: Moi, TLE, Cindy and Forest

 They disappeared quickly

.....and were they ever yummy!  By the time I finished my three beignets there was powdered sugar everywhere!  The 'Coffee House' complex is composed of 7-8 buildings housing the restaurant, several gift shops, a barn full of antique farm equipment, and a fenced enclosure containing numerous alligators.....

  A very old and cool fire engine

 An old Allis-Chalmers tractor slowly melting into the soil

 A very old steam tractor

 Interesting steering gear composed of chains and worm gears
 There were just two alligators visible on this rainy day

.....in spite of the rainy day the restaurant was packed full of people, with a long line awaiting a table.  We got there just before the big rush.

We headed back to Forest and Cindy's home around 11 am and hung out there talking about Alaska until close to 1 pm when we headed out for lunch at a local seafood place Forest likes where they serve boiled shrimp by the pound.  You can buy them unpeeled with their heads still attached, or without heads, but still unpeeled, or headless, and already peeled.  I failed to take any pictures, however, I had their BLT with grilled shrimp added, TLE had shrimp and okra....forest ordered a pound of their boiled shrimp (headless and unpeeled).  I learned how to peel a boiled, headless shrimp, and actually loved them.  By the time we were finished with lunch we were quite full, and did not anticipate eating anymore food Saturday!

We were delivered back to our coach about 2:30 pm with full tummies, and big smiles on our faces having sampled a goodly portion of the local cuisine options.  We spent the rest of the afternoon watching recorded English Premier soccer matches and I watched most of the Rams vs. Cowboys NFC playoff game, which was won by the Rams 30-22.

We'll get together with Forest and Cindy again on Sunday to discuss our Alaska trip more, and do some route planning.....it's getting exciting!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

The last 87.......

6:48 am - Saturday - January 12th - Gonzales, LA - 55º F, 90% humidity, wind 6 mph out of the east by southeast.....cloudy today with a forecast of rain today, and a high of 71º F.....as I write I am beginning to hear the gentle 'pitter pat' of the rain on our aluminum roof.

We only had 87 miles to cover to our destination for the next days, but we are both glad we saved that last 87 miles for Friday, because as you leave Slidell you are pretty much on elevated road surfaces over water 75% of the time until you get close to Baton Rouge.  I cannot imagine how much fun that section would have been at the end of a 220 mile day in the late afternoon!  In many cases you are below sea level.  These elevated road surfaces appear to be quite old and they are not smooth......think 'bebump, bebump, bebump, bebump' for about 100 minutes as you are simultaneously snaking your way through post 9 am NOLA traffic in lanes that are considerably narrower than the typical Interstate lanes.  Add all that together and you feel your blood pressure rising as the tension, predictably, rises.

But, alas, we finally exited Interstate 10 in Gonzales, LA and found our way to the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center where we will spend the next three days visiting with our friends Forest and Cindy talking about, and planning our trip to Alaska this summer.  The site we had been initially assigned (50-B) was full of water and mud so TLE and I walked over to the office to explain our problem and see if there were any alternate sites in which we could stay.  When I gave my last name so they could look up my reservation the nice lady said "Oh, you're Clarke Hockwald.....we have a package for you...".  I'm thinking how would someone know to mail me a package here?  Well, it turned out the address I had given our son to use to forward our mail was the Expo center, and not the address of our friends.....doh!  Thankfully they held on to the package for a few days!  At any rate, she also gave us 6 alternate sites to check, which we did.  We settled on a site a few down from 50-B which was a pull through site, and quickly moved into it.  

Since the utilities for our site are at the very rear of the site I had to deploy about 45' of sewer hose, my 50' water hose and a 25' extension for our 50 amp cord, and that is why we carry so much extra stuff for just this situation.  It comes up very infrequently, but are we ever happy we have the extra when we need it!  We only have 30 amp service in our site, but it's all good.  By the time we were set up it was about 12:30 pm and time for some showers now that we are connected to a sewer once again.  When we arrived our friends were up in Baton Rouge at an appointment, so by the time we finished with our showers Forest and Cindy had arrived to welcome us.  We talked for about an hour before they headed home. We made arrangements to drive over to their home for dinner at 4:30 pm.

We spent the afternoon relaxing and settling into our digs for the next three days, and were in the VW headed for Forest and Cindy's home by 4:30.  We had a lovely evening talking, and a lovely dinner before heading home around 8:30 pm.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Friday, January 11, 2019

The Jello has the last laugh......

6:37 am - Friday - January 11th - Slidell, LA - 36º F, 77% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the northeast....clear skies again today with a forecast high of 60º F.

It was very, very cold overnight in Quincy, FL, and I was up by 6 am to turn on our three Suburban gas heaters to take the chill off the coach.  It was 39º F outside, and 55º F inside....a nice differential considering we didn't turn the heaters on at all the night before.  Although we had no plans to drive more than 200 miles Thursday we were on the road before 8 am.....wait, what?  We never get on the road that early!  

The day began with kind of wispy clouds and finished with clear blue skies, and virtually no wind.  The road was flat, and straight as we cruised at 60 mph westward on I-10 at 100-200' above sea level, then as we approached the Alabama border just feet above sea level......

 A lot of trees blown down by the hurricane back in October....the cleanup continues

 Leaving Florida.....very few states thank you for visiting

 Almost at sea level!

.....our Jello plan had us ending our driving day in Daphne, AL, just before Mobile Bay, but as we approached Daphne I just could not see myself stopping so early (11 am, because we gained an hour back when we reentered the Central Time Zone), and so we set a new goal......Moss Point, AL....another 40 miles.  But, as we approached Moss Point I still could not see myself stopping for the day so early on a day when the driving was just magical.  At this point we had driven some 230 miles, a typical driving day for us, but I asked TLE to see how far Slidell, LA was. She quickly reported it was another 100 miles.....that sounded about right, so I reset the Garmin Truck GPS to Slidell, LA and we continued on our way westward.....

 Entering the Mobile Tunnel

......soon we were entering Mississippi.........

.....and just a few miles later we entered the state of Louisiana......wow four states in one day......Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana! 

Our original plan at the beginning of the day was to drive another 200+ miles to Daphne, AL which would give us just 200+ more into Gonzales, LA.  When the driving is as good as it was on Thursday and there are a plethora of Rest Areas to choose from (we stopped at three this day including a 1 mile walk in the 3rd one of the day....it was finally warm enough!) why not drive 333 miles, right?  By the time we pulled into the Walmart Supercenter Parking lot in Slidell, LA it was just coming up on 3 pm......perfect!

We spent some time relaxing before walking into the Walmart to do some shopping.  About 5 pm we walked over to the Cracker Barrel to have 'breakfast for dinner'.  The parking lot in which we are parked has a Walmart, Lowe's, Murphy Gas USA, and a Cracker Barrel.....how much better does it get?  Almost 7 years ago when we had just begun our full time journey we overnighted in this same parking lot on our way to Florida for the first time.  I have to be honest.....it does not seem like 7 years.

So, as I write this morning we find ourselves just 88 miles from our destination today where we will spend 2, or 3 days planning our trip to Alaska with our good friends Forest and Cindy.  The weather today, Friday, is the same as Thursday.....clear with blue skies.  We are now less than 5 months from the date we will enter British Columbia and begin our journey to our 49th State (49th in our Newell, as well).

Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Westward Ho!

6:38 am - Thursday - January 10th - Quincy, FL -  39º F (feels 33º F), 52% humidity, wind 9 mph out of the north by northwest.......cloudy today with a forecast high of 54º F.

What a wonderful travel day Wednesday was!  The skies were clear, and blue, the temperature was in the low 60's, and the roads were straight and flat as we cruised westward across the Florida 'panhandle', but I get a wee bit ahead of myself.

We were up a little after 7 am Wednesday thinking about our departure preparation.  Our goal was to be on the road by 10 am, but sometimes life intervenes, and it takes a little bit longer.  TLE ran to the store about 9 am to pick up a few things whilst I finished putting away the very few things we deployed during our two day stay in St. Mary's, GA.  Around 9:30 am Roscoe and Geni dropped by while on their rounds of the State Park to say their 'until next times', and we ended up talking for about an hour.  They are thinking about upgrading from their travel trailer to a class A motorhome, and wanted to take a tour of ours.  We talked for over an hour, but, alas, it was approaching 11 am and we really needed to get moving. 

We hugged, and promised each other to reunite over New Years day at the end of this year in the SoCal desert.  Once we were rolling we had one more task......empty our black and gray tanks as we will be dry camping for the next few days.  By the time we finished with that it was almost 11:30 am.

We initially cruised south on I-95, then I-295 and finally merged on to I-10 west bound.  In all we covered over 230 miles Wednesday before landing in Quincy, FL at the local Walmart.  We'll be on I-10 until just after Baton Rouge, LA where we will begin angling up to I-20 via secondary roads, which will take us to Ft. Worth, TX where we will again angle northward up to I-40 for the balance of our journey westward.

We stopped at a couple of Rest Areas along the I-10 corridor during our drive, and at one we got out of the coach and walked for about .75 miles before continuing westward to our day's destination.  Typically most Interstates have Rest Areas every 60-80 miles, but along this stretch of I-10 (Jacksonville to Quincy) they are spaced about 30-35 miles apart so you have plenty of options for taking a break.

We arrived at the Walmart around 4 pm, found a spot to park, and by 7 pm we had been joined by several other RV's for the night.  We'll be under way in about 2 hours, or less, so time to sign off for today.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Nomadic friendships.......

7:19 am - Wednesday - January 9th - St. Mary's, GA - 56º F, 90% humidity, wind 9 mph out of the west......sunny today with a forecast high of 61º F, but we will not be here for that high.  Today is moving day, and we will end our day about 200 miles west of our current location as we begin to work our way back to the western half of our great country.

We began Tuesday with a nature walk along one of the nature trails in Crooked River State Park.  Neither of us is really into identifying trees, or birds, but we just needed to get out and take a walk.......

 The Crooked River in the background

 The nature trail.....nice a shady

.....we were back at the Newell by 11:30 am after a 2.4 mile meandering walk, and waiting for Rosco and Geni to finish their volunteer shift.....I don't know if I mentioned it, but they are camp hosts here at the State Park, and work about 4 hours per day cleaning vacated sites, and cleaning restrooms.  We planned to drive south to Amelia Island, FL to visit Fort Clinch State Park and explore this old Civil War fort.  It was originally being constructed by the Union soldiers until they abandoned it still under construction, then was taken over by the Confederate troops, and then when they abandoned it to send the soldiers north to fight the Union, the Union troops returned and continued construction......

Aerial view courtesy the internet

 That horsehair mattress looks so uncomfortable!

 Rosco standing next to one of the 8" cannon of which there were about 40 when the fort was first constructed.

 Each cannon was on steel track and could be rotated 80º in either direction

....the entire fort was constructed of red brick, and the attention to detail in the construction is quite evident.......

....we wandered around the fort learning about life as a Union soldier in the 1860's, and stood talking for quite a while on one of the parapets all the while thoroughly enjoying the sunny skies and balmy breezes blowing in off the the ocean.  It was just a delightful afternoon!

By 4 pm it was time to head back to St. Mary's and happy hour at the Wee Pub which offers 2 for 1 beers and 2 for 1 appetizers from 3 pm to 6 pm Monday through Friday.   The never ending conversation continued unabated through 8 brews (2 per person) and probably about 8 appetizers consisting of seared tuna, pigs in a blanket, sliders, etc.......

.....by 6 pm we were on our way 'home' where we spent the rest of the evening sitting by a campfire talking, enjoying the star lit sky, and more talking......about 9:30 we bid our adieus, and each headed to our respective homes for the night.  Our visit with Roscoe and Geni was all too short, but there will be a next time.  It is these nomadic friendships that add spice to the vagabonding life we live and we would be the poorer for it if we had never met Roscoe and Geni at Yellowstone.  Thank you guys for a wonderful two days!

Thanks for stopping by!

When you shop Amazon, please use our link (below) to access their website.......we will appreciate every purchase you make using our Amazon Affiliate link, and  remember, using our link will not add one penny to your purchase, plus we will receive a small commission which helps defray our travel expenses to a small degree.