Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sparkling clean

I had a very productive day today. I started out spending the morning washing the rig. It fairly gleams now! I had to at least wash the front windows so I could put up the sun shields. There was so much mud, dust, and bugs on the whole rig that I decided to wash the whole thing. Not a minor undertaking, I can assure you. Between that and putting up the sun visors, I'm sure I'll feel it tomorrow morning. When I went to put the short hose back so I'd have water to the RV, it didn't turn out like I had planned. The attachment to the rig blew off and the hose went wild spraying in circles at full force until I could turn off the water source. After the initial shock of the situation, about all I could do was laugh. I sure did get a shower out of that. I went back to my old setup for the connection, and all was well. I had purchased some easy connect things for attaching the water hoses at the Escapade. Guess they didn't work as good as advertised. Oh well, live and learn!

This afternoon, I opened the visitor's center for the Sunday afternoon movie, but only had three people show up. I'm not surprised. It was a marvelous day outside with sunny skies in the low eighties. I'd rather be outside than sitting inside watching a movie, and I guess other people felt the same way.

This evening I exercised the generator and cleaned the air conditioner filter. I think I'm going to need a lot of AC this summer. About all I have left to do is set up the BBQ grill and change the filter on the water purifier. I do need to head to Chilicothe for a grocery run tomorrow and check out the world's largest Canada goose on the way.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chores & learning the ropes

Today was laundry day. There is a washer and a drier in the basement of the house that is called the bunk house. It was built in the 1930's, so maybe you can imagine what the basement looks like. It is gross! There is standing water on the floor from last night's rain and it is just plain old filthy. It took me several hours to get finished. The lighting is poor and the steps are steep with only a partial railing. I think I may find a laundromat in one of the towns next week. :0 There are plans to erect a laundry room near the RV sites, and the cement floor/foundation has been poured, but I'm not sure it will be finished during my tour of duty.
In between loads, I stored the Blue Ox tow hitch, got the bicycle down off of the rack, hooked up the new sewer hose, and rearranged the bird feeders. The ruby-throated hummingbirds have already found the feeder. A brilliant colored male is especially fond of it. No birds have visited the thistle feeder or the seed feeder yet, but that usually takes a while. All of the birds are in full breeding ardor and their voices ring out all day long. Just within earshot are Indigo buntings, American goldfinches, common yellowthroats, Baltimore orioles, red-winged blackbirds, great crested flycatchers, song sparrows, chimney swifts, wood peewees, robins, cedar waxwings, and the ever present soaring turkey vultures. Sorry to say, a female indigo bunting was being chased by a male this afternoon and she crashed into Morry and Margaret's rig with fatal results.

Here's my site. Morry and Margaret will be pulling out early tomorrow, so I'll be on my own.
In the afternoon, I went over to the visitor's center to learn the ropes from Morry and Margaret. I'll be running the center tomorrow afternoon for the Sunday surround sound movie afternoon. I will have to climb a ladder to turn the projector on. Could be an interesting afternoon. ;)
Just before sunset, Emma and I took another walk down the 1/2 mile foot trail.

You can just barely get a glimpse of Swan Lake in the background. Emma finds this trail especially worthy of the full involvement of her nose! We set frogs to hopping into the pond and the woods always produce a deer siting....very exciting stuff for her.

I'll end with the sunset over Swan Lake.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Friday, May 29, 2009

Swan Lake Nat'l Wildlife Refuge

The biggest challenge for today was getting out of the campground at the Missouri State Fair Grounds. After four straight days of rain, the grounds were a muddy mess. At 7:00 a.m. I watched the motorhome on my right try to leave, and just get bogged down. The tires ended up ten inches into the mud and the hitch on the back of the rig was on the ground. At 8:00, the motorhome on my left ended up in the same situation. I decided to drive the car to the hitch-up breakfast at the other end of the fairgrounds. I got an outstanding homemade biscuits with gravy and juice for only two bucks. After I got back to the rig, I finished my pack-up routine and shortly after ten, I decided to give it a try to pull out. The waiting list for the tow truck already had 15 rigs on the list, so I figured what the heck.... might as well give it a try. Sometimes there's a real advantage to not having a 40' rig and this was one of them. I put it in low gear and drove right out of the site to the cheers of the not so fortunate onlookers. :) I was on cloud nine and moved the rig to a big paved parking lot on the fair grounds about a half mile away. Then I walked back to my site to get the car and drove that over to hook it up. By 10:30, I was on the road and headed north. What a relief!!!

I had some really detailed directions from the volunteer coordinator at Swan Lake. All travel today involved country roads, but after two hours and 82 miles, I arrived at my destination. I had heard that the secondary roads in Missouri are not very nice, but I must say that the seven roads I traversed were all smooth and well taken care of. There were two construction stops along the way, but overall a very nice journey.

I took my time setting up camp at one of the two RV volunteer sites. The couple, Morry and Margaret, in the other site are pulling out on Sunday morning. They have been here three months, and their assignment is about over. Since Kirk and Pam are unable to come, I can move to the other site on Sunday if I want. After spending the evening here, I think I'll stay where I'm at. The other site has full sun all afternoon, and I do like to sit outside in the late afternoon and evening. I'm facing the opposite way, so I'll have shade to enjoy my time outside.

The sites are brand new cement pads with full hookups. The water pressure is phenomenal, and the view is very nice. I'm not looking at the maintenance buildings! Emma and I tried to walk the half mile wildlife trail this evening, but only made it about three quarters of the way when the trail seemed to end and we ran into a sign saying the area was closed. I don't know if I took a wrong turn somewhere or what. I'll have to ask about that. Anyway, we back tracked our way back to home. I put up my bird feeders and hummingbird feeder, set up the DISH in record time, set the tomato plants out, put out the awning, set up my rocker, and just kicked back. So far, I really like this refuge.

Tomorrow, I'll get the bicycle down, do laundry, and learn the ropes of the visitor's center before Morry and Margaret leave. That's the plan anyway. I have my trucker's antenna up and barely have a connection so I'll see if I can post any pictures tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I didn't win!

I thought sure I was going to win the final prize of a 35 day trip to the Canadian Maritimes, but alas, it was not to be so. :( The closing ceremonies took place this afternoon at the 49th Escapade. It was the first day since Sunday that I was able to ride my bicycle to the activities today. That's not to say that it was sunny, but at least it wasn't pouring down rain.

Yesterday morning, I hopped on a shuttle to the vendors' area. I had a few items in mind that I was interested in. Upon approaching the first booth, the vendor asked me where my ID tag was. Sure enough, I had left it on the counter in the rig. That meant I had to find another shuttle back to the campground and then finally hitch another ride back. That accomplished, I proceeded to find those items that I felt would enhance my existence. One item I was interested in was a cap for my holding tank vent on the roof. Whenever I turn on the fan in the bathroom while showering to suck out the moisture, it seems that sewer gas fumes somehow get sucked into the rig. I thought this new vent cover might help eliminate that, but wasn't sure I wanted to install it. The saleslady said not to worry, she knew someone that was doing installations. I bought the vent and signed up to have it installed. It only took the guy ten minutes, but he had all the proper tools and knew what he was doing. It was worth the price to me.

I also purchased a new sewer hose to replace the one that was shredded in the hail storm and found a few other goodies that should make my life a little easier. I'll try a few of these items out when I arrive at Swan Lake and let you know how they work out.

By that time, I got a call from Steve at Workamper News and he had the camera set up and was ready to interview me out at the gazebo. We squeezed the interview in between showers and I think it went well. I mostly talked about the volunteer positions I've been in since I've been on the road. At some point it will appear on a new site at the Workamper News Website.

In the afternoon, I went to the Craft Show and Sell and found two beaded bracelets that will now enhance my wardrobe. ;) In the evening, I hiked over to the Ham-O-Rama which is entertainment provided by Escapees members. It was a great night with a wide variety of talent showcased. There were some great singers, some not so great singers, story tellers, and comedians. All in all, a very enjoyable time.

This morning, I went to two seminars. One was for women only and the other was geared for solo travelers. The second one was really about loneliness on the road. I can honestly say that though I travel alone, I've really not felt lonely. This afternoon was the closing ceremonies and the awarding of the grand prize.

I've started to pack things up and managed, with another solo lady's help, to get the bicycle back on the rack. I dumped the tanks, packed up the outside rocker, and began the inside ritual. I also called my Emergency Road Service to be sure I'll be able to get a tow truck to pull me out of the mud tomorrow if needed. So far, everyone who has left has had to be pulled out. The clouds have finally broken this evening, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to just drive out carefully without becoming mired in the muck. That may be wishful thinking.

There have been three big tow trucks circling the campground like vultures for the last few days. I'm sure this Escapade mud mess will make their income soar for the year. Can you imagine what pulling out 750 rigs from the mud will do for them??? Talk about economic stimulous!

My plan is to attend the hitch-up breakfast tomorrow morning and take my time getting ready to head out. Maybe some of the moisture will evaporate by then. If not, I'll wait for a tow. I only have about 70 miles to drive to Swan Lake, so I'm not in a big rush. I've heard internet reception with an air card is almost nonexistant there, so I'm not sure when I'll post again. Maybe Sprint will come through for me once more....

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's a rally without rain?

While it was hot and sunny on Sunday, the rains began overnight and didn't let up until mid afternoon today. I'm thinking there is still more rain in the forecast for tomorrow, which could make things very interesting when all these heavy rigs try to pull out on Friday. We are all parked on the grass and already ruts are developing from where people drive their cars and trucks in and out of their sites. I made sure I wore my crocs with no socks last night when I took Emma out, and I'm sure glad I did. The deep puddles were unavoidable on the way to the road and the cold water on the feet certainly woke me up!

I attended several seminars yesterday; one on fishing and one on touring maritime Canada. Joe and Kay Peterson, the founders of Escapees, gave a humorous one hour talk that just about everyone attended. The entertainment for last night was the Brett Family. There are five of them and they gave a song and dance presentation. I didn't stay for the whole performance because the sound was just too loud and hurt my ears, and I was no way near the stage.

I didn't really have any interest in the seminars for today, so I did some grocery shopping in town instead. Then Emma and I just vegged out for the day. A little while ago, I finally got to take her for a decent walk as the rain seems to have quit for the day and the sun is beginning to peak out a little.

Tomorrow I plan to be pretty active at the seminars and am scheduled to be interviewed by Workamper News around 10:30. It should be an interesting day.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Escapade 2009

After a realitivly short drive of 92 miles yesterday, I arrived in Sedalia, MO, at the state fairgrounds for the 2009 Escapade. I am a member of the Escapees RV Club and they have a yearly rally. Over 700 rigs are at the fairgrounds this week to enjoy five days of socializing, seminars, entertainment, and just a good time. We are pretty much packed in like sardines, but everyone who wants one has a full hookup site. Of course, there are eight hoses plugged into each water outlet, but it hasn't seemed to effect the water pressure too much. :)

In no time at all I was sweating bullets in the heat while setting up, but when I went to the registration booth, I ran into Fay, of Fay and Jay Carter, fellow volunteers from Laguna Atascosa NWR. Shortly afterwards, I met up with Kirk and Pam Wood. They're the couple that had to cancel out of volunteering at Swan Lake with me this summer. At a gathering that is this large, it's great to meet up with friends.

Later in the afternoon, I walked over to some of the venues that were open early. The gathering didn't officially start until today. I got my sea-legs as to where things were located for the week. That invigorating hike in the heat let me know that I should take down my bike and use that for transportation this week.

After a liesurely morning spent visiting with my close by neighbors, I biked over to the opening ceremonies in the afternoon. I planned to attend the entertainment this evening, but friends, Vern and Sue, stopped by the rig and we spent a few enjoyable hours catching up on each other's recent travels. I missed the vocal group this evening, but don't regret it.

Tomorrow the seminars start and I think I'll begin by attending one on fishing without a boat. I've been dragging along poles and tackle for three years now, and only used them once. This summer should afford me some opportunities at Swan Lake, so I want to be prepared.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Friday, May 22, 2009

America loves camping

It is hard to believe how many rigs have moved into this state park starting yesterday afternoon. The check-in station is within view of my site, and let me tell you that there has been a steady stream of campers coming into the park. I can't believe there are any sites left. I'm happy to see so many young families enjoying the outdoors and taking advantage of this beautiful park. All manner of rigs have pulled in...pop-ups, a lot of trailers, a few motorhomes, many fifth wheels, and plenty of tenters. I don't quite understand tenters in the full hook-up campground, but I guess it's because this campground is within walking distance of the trout fishing.
Fairly early this morning Emma and I headed out for St. Robert, MO, to meet with one of the winners of the contest I ran a couple of months ago.

Deanna is a vet in St. Robert, and I wanted to deliver the diamond willow walking stick prize to her since I was in the area.

I gave Deanna a choice of several sticks to choose from, and she chose one with character. Emma is not the most cooperative dog when it comes to pictures, but we gave it a try. She usually just barks at me when I get the camera out.

Deanna and I are hoping that we will get to meet again this summer while I'm at Swan Lake. We didn't get much time to talk since she was on duty at work. She is a fellow Escapee. It was great to meet her, and I look forward to seeing her again.

This evening, I hooked up the car and brought the awning in in preparation for leaving tomorrow. About all I have left to do in the morning is pack up the DISH and unplug the water and electric. I'm sure some one will snatch up my site moments after I leave. The next six nights will be spent at the Escapade in Sedalia, MO. Fun times ahead!

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Thursday, May 21, 2009

From famine to feast...

I was wishing in the last post that I could some how get a taste of the abundant rainbow trout at this park. I was hoping to maybe get one fish. Well, let me tell you that I ended up with three beautiful fish. I spoke to the fisherman next door and asked if it might be possible for me to buy a fish from someone. He said that fishermen weren't allowed to do that. Okay, so a rig pulled in across the road from me and appeared to be struggling with putting out their awning. I walked over to offer my assistance and they immediately asked when I was leaving. Turns out that I am in the only row that doesn't require a reservation and they were hoping I would leave by Friday morning so they could get my site. Otherwise, they would have to leave. I told them sorry, I wasn't leaving until Saturday. The guy then offered me $20 if I could find them a site. I told them I didn't want any money, but would like to try a rainbow trout to eat. It turns out I knew the folks next door were leaving today. So, I told them to pack up this morning and wait behind the site next door to me and drive into it when they left. Needless to say, the first fish they caught was delivered to me. ;)

Then, last night the folks next door wanted me to be happy with my visit to Missouri and dropped off two very nice trout for me to try. I was happily surprised. I gave them one of my diamond willow walking sticks in thanks. So now I had three trout to try three different ways. Tonight, I tried filleting one of them (I'm definitely out of practice), dredged it in some fish breading I had and panned fried it. It was delicious, despite the bones I had to pluck out.

I popped the other two fish into the freezer for now. I'll enjoy them later.

I made a trip into town today to get a hair cut and do a little grocery shopping. The weather continues to be outstanding and Emma and I enjoyed watching everyone fishing in the stream this evening. The first night I was here, I took Emma out for a walk around 8:15 in the evening and was shocked to hear the air-raid sirens go off. I immediately looked up in the sky to see if a possible tornado was coming. The next day, I was again walking Emma at 6:30 in the morning and the sirens went off again. I finally figured it out. The sirens go off twice a day to signal the beginning and end of trout fishing for the day. I never heard of that before....

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Trout Bonanza

Now I know why so many people come here to fish for rainbow trout. There is a state fish hatchery located at Bennett Spring State Park.

And they release rainbow trout into the stream every night from April - October. Rainbow trout are not native to Missouri, but the state works to keep fishermen happy. The fees charged for trout permits pay for the raising and release of them.

It takes a lot of equipment and preparation to enjoy this sport. I have noticed waders hanging from the lantern poles at sites in the campground. Emma and I went for a long walk this morning and observed lots of people fishing along the stream. I went back this evening to get a closer look without her.

Earlier I wondered how so many fishermen could be successful without depleting the number of fish, but now I understand.

Different locations along the stream determine what kind of bait/lures can be used. It is quite regulated. I spoke with a couple of fishermen/women and learned a lot today. Most folks here are from Missouri, but I did see a license plate from Illinois and one from Kansas, and one lady comes here every year from Indiana. I also scoped out the state park store and the lodge restaurant. I think maybe I'll go to the lodge for lunch or dinner tomorrow.

Since the forecast calls for sunny days while I am here, I decided to start coating nine of the walking sticks I've been working on with polyurethane. It's been so rainy the last two weeks, I haven't been able to do that. One of the winners of the skull contest that I posted back a while ago lives near here and I'd like to get the sticks finished so she can make here choice of which one she'd like.

Hmm, I wonder if I could barter a walking stick for some fresh rainbow trout??? I do like fresh water fish and I've never tasted rainbow trout. I'll have to talk to some fisherpersons tomorrow.

In parting, here's a pic of the tee shirt I purchased in Arkansas showing that I've been to Pickles Gap, Skunk Hollow, and Toad Suck..........

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Monday, May 18, 2009

The "Force" was with me

After almost six hours on the road and 233 miles, I made it to Bennett Springs State Park outside of Lebanon, MO. The drive was a beautiful one through the Ozarks of north central Arkansas, albeit slow because of the grades and the two lane highway. I waved as I bypassed Branson, MO, and headed northeast to Bennett Springs.

Once at the park, it was quite a twisting road journey to find the check-in place for the campgrounds. I had checked their website out last week and knew that none of the reservable sites were available for the five nights I have scheduled for here. That's because I need to stay through Friday night, which is the first night of the Memorial Day Weekend. I'm due to arrive at the Escapade in Sedalia on Saturday. So, I figured I'd find a first come first served site in the #5 campground that only has electricity. When I arrived at the check station, the volunteer informed me that they had one site available on a first come first served basis in the full hookup campground. She didn't have to bend my arm too much for me to change plans and take advantage of this situation. After setting up, I headed back to pay up and she told me that three rigs came in just minutes after me looking for a similar site. The Force was with me! And besides that, I was able to get full bars with roaming for the internet and phone and I found both satellites with the DISH. Yahoo!

This park seems to be very popular. I'd bet about 75% of all the sites are taken on a weekday, and it's only the middle of May. I guess this is one of the best trout fishing sites in the state. I know I was surprised to see so many people out fishing on a Monday afternoon as I drove in. Wading boots at the camping sites are also a common sight.

I took a drive this evening around the four other campgrounds, and am satisfied with my decision to take the site I did. Tomorrow I'll further explore the park and see how the fishing is going.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A beautiful day in Pickles Gap

After breakfast and doing some computer stuff, I loaded up the car with two week's worth of dirty laundry and headed out to find a laundromat. I had gotten directions from the staff in the park office, so I drove right to it. This is the first laundromat that I've encountered in my travels that didn't provide those wheeled carts to move your laundry from the washers to the driers. Since I had multiple washers and driers to use, this chore only took about 90 minutes.

After finishing, I headed down the road to visit Pickles Gap. Pickles Gap got its name from the legend that back in the day a German immagrant was crossing the stream here and his entire wagon load of pickles fell off into the creek. Now days, it's really just a stop in the road for tourists. I did feel compelled, however, to buy a tee shirt and some fresh fudge. ;) I passed on buying a pickle for a dollar and the other tasty Arkansas jams and preserves.

Sunday afternoons in a state park are usually very enjoyable, as most of the weekend campers take flight and things really calm down. Such was the case today. It was a beautiful sunny day with the high around 70*. I spent the late afternoon and early evening outside in my rocker reading and watching the fishermen ply the lake out in front of my site. What a life this is!

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why, why, why???

I had an interesting conversation with a five year old in the campground this afternoon. Five year olds have a propensity for asking the age old question...why? Here's how it went:
"Why do you have a motorhome?".....So I can go where I want to.
"Why do you have a car too?"....Because the motorhome won't fit in the grocery store parking lot.
"Why don't you have a boat?"....Because it won't fit behind the motorhome & car.
"Why does your dog lick so much?"....Because she's excited.
"Why are you going to Missouri?"....Because I can. Then he got down to the nitty-gritty.
"Why do you have grey hair?"....Because I'm old.
"If you're old, why aren't you in a nursing home?"....They've got to catch me first!

What fun! I haven't been grilled so much in a long time. He soon moved on with his companions to the two dogs next door. His older brother came back to report that the puppy had chewed up the tablecloth. I told him that's what puppies do when they're left alone. The older brother then wanted to know how I could afford to buy groceries if I just drove around the country. A brief discussion ensued and the young man had an "aha" moment as he told me that he figured out that I get money from being a principal and they put the money in the bank (since they wouldn't give me cash) and I have to go to the bank to get the money. Good figuring for an eight year old. It was an enjoyable encounter with some of Arkansas' youngsters.

This morning I, with Emma in tow, went to meet the park naturalist for a scheduled nature hike. We got there about fifteen minutes early, so I took Emma down the trail I thought we'd be taking to expel some of her energy rather than just standing around waiting. A few yards into the trail was a sign pointing to a 1/5 mile loop. I was sure we could accomplish that little hike in time to return for the guided walk. How wrong I was! With cloudy skies and rain coming down, my sense of direction was not the best and the short loop turned into a rather lengthy hike. There were lots of trail intersections and I hadn't brought a map with me. Needless to say, we missed the guided hike and I almost began to wonder if we'd ever get out of the woods. We ended up no where near where we started, and fairly soaked. It was a good hike and I'm happy to report that I cleared out all the cobwebs for later hikers. ;) There's nothing like a few hundred wet cobwebs in the face to invigorate your day.

I've decided to stay an extra night at this park. I'll be going to town to find a laundromat tomorrow and I want to stop and see Pickles Gap and Toad Suck....

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Friday, May 15, 2009

Re-connected with the world

I'm finally at a location where I now have an internet signal and phone service (if I stay close to my trucker's antenna and amplifier). I'll try to catch everyone up on the last five days without being too wordy.

On last Monday, I left Atlanta State Park near Texarkana, TX, under very cloudy skies. I no sooner got on the road when the skies opened and the rain began. I don't think I've ever driven the rig in such torrential downfalls! After 167 tense miles, I arrived at Ouachita State Park outside of Hot Springs, AR (pronounced wash-it-taw). It turned out to be a great site (so I thought), and soon the feathered ambassadors came to greet me.
This is the view of the site from the lake.

Here's mom with a couple of goslings....

And her whole brood....

Tuesday turned out to be a day of heavy rain all day. I generally only ventured out of the rig to take Emma on a few constitutionals. On Monday evening, the two sites to my right became filled with "the neighbors from he...." There were eight kids and four adults. It has been a long time since I have camped next to such loud and obnoxious folks. The kids weren't really that bad, but the adults used inappropriate language at the top of their lungs and the father was constantly threatening the kids with the belt, in between a barrage of four letter words. By Tuesday night, I was seriously considering changing my site. However, I decided that perhaps I needed a lesson in tolerance and decided to continue in the same site for two more nights.

On Wednesday, I drove the car into Hot Springs and toured the Hot Springs National Park. It was very interesting and I learned a lot about the bath houses that used the 47 hot springs that come out of the nearby mountain. I also went up to the top of the tower on Hot Springs Mountain. It was still pretty hazy, so the pictures didn't turn out well. Upon my return to camp, I had a few hours of peace before the tribe next door arrived back from their day on the lake. They were still going strong when I took Emma for her last outs around 11:00. As I took her out, I literally ran into a ranger walking the campground. He asked if I was bothered by my neighbors, and I replied that I had been bothered for three days! He spoke to them about the excessive noise, and they eventually settled down.

I awoke to more pounding rain on Thursday, but by about nine it had stopped. I hopped in the car and headed for Hot Springs. I went to the Buckstaff Bath House to sign up for a bath and massage. I haven't had a "bath" in over three years, so I was looking forward to the experience, but was a little apprehensive. What an experience this was! The Buckstaff has been in existence since the 20's and is the only continuously operating bath house in Hot Springs. After paying my $59.40 fee, I got on the elevator and went to the second floor which is the women's floor. I was told to undress and put everything in a locker. After I did that, an attendant draped me in a sheet in such a way that I looked like I was stepping out as a Roman goddess. (not easy to do) I was then lead into the bath area where I was instructed to take off the sheet and get into the tub. The attendant then proceeded to wash me with a luffa sponge. The tub was filled with the water from the mineral springs and was at a temperature of 100*. Let me tell you that I haven't been washed by anyone since I was a young child, so it was a little unnerving. The biggest problem, besides having to be naked in front of someone, was that the bottom of my feet are very ticklish! After the luffa scrub, I was told to relax and just enjoy as the whirlpool was started. I floated in the warm aerated tub for about 15 minutes. It was very relaxing.

Next came the sitz bath...good for hemorrhoids and back problems. I think these miniature bath tubs were made for people with longer legs. Picture sitting in a deep bucket of hot water with your legs hanging out. It may be great for hemorrhoids, but it didn't do a whole lot for my leg circulation. Then it was on to the steam cabinet, which I declined. The attendant agreed with me that I appeared to be hot enough. Getting out of that sitz bath was a challenge! But I succeeded and moved on to the hot wrap station. You pick what ever parts of your body ail you and they wrap them in very hot towels. I chose my wrists and ankles. The deep heat was very comforting. After about 15 minutes, I was unwrapped and headed for the needle point shower. There are about 100 spray points that shoot at you in a circular shower. The idea, of course, is to rinse you off after all the hot perspiation producing proceedures. Interesting...

Then it was on to the twenty minute therapuetic massage. A black woman named Robbin took me into her room and began the message. I asked her how she got into this line of work and she said..."devine intervention." I'm not sure what that meant, but she hummed and softly sang "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" throughout the whole twenty minutes. I mentioned that I've never had a massage before and I must say that I thouroughly enjoyed the experience. I felt like a greased pig when I was done, but I was certainly relaxed. Robbin assured me that my tension over my camping neighbors would dissapate and I would just smile at them when I returned to camp.

That didn't quite happen, but events transpired that lead to their early departure. They had been gone all day visiting the science center and the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, but upon their return the explosive father was stricken with what all thought was a heart attack. Several of the adults rushed off with him in their van to find a hospital, and the children were left to pack things up to leave. I offered them my help, but all they asked for was an aspirin for their dad before he left. I don't know how they got eight kids and two adults and all their camping gear into a truck that didn't have an extended cab, but they pulled out just before midnight. Phew...they got on my nerves, but what a horrible end to their vacation.

This morning, I was ready to head out and did so by 9:45. The weather was cooperative, and after only 117 miles, I set up camp at Woolly Hollow State Park. Many frogs are serenading me this evening. More about that tomorrow.... I'm going to try to upload some pictures now, but I'm not sure how that will go.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ready to move on

Light showers and dark clouds plagued the entire day today. I went for a drive in the afternoon, but there really wasn't much to see. After the drive, I decided to start getting ready for my departure tomorrow. I took down the internet antenna, packed up the DISH satellite, and hooked up the toad. About all I have to do in the morning is disconnect the water and electric and pack away Emma's outdoor water dish and cable.

I'm thinking of having a full spa "treatment" in Hot Springs when I get there. I've never had a massage before. This seems to be the ideal time to check that off of my bucket list. ;)

I don't have a very strong connection tonight without the antenna, so I'll mosey on...

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The rain is back

OK, wait till you see this! I tried to upload several pictures, but no matter what picture number I chose only one shot loaded. So, this entry contains one shot four times over. What's up with that?

The rains came down again today, so we've spent most of the day inside. The upside to that is I made plans of where to stay next on my journey to Missouri. It's not that it was exactly easy. Because of all the recent rains, some of the possible places to stop have been closed due to flooding. I tried to set up four nights at Lake Catherine State Park in Arkansas, but couldn't get the reservation system to recognize my computer. I tried calling the park directly, but only got busy signals for a couple of hours. I then tried, online, to make reservations at Lake Ouachita State Park with the same results. After trying to call them directly, I actually got a live person on the other end of the phone and will spend Monday through Thursday night at that park.
My plans were to visit Hot Springs National Park and Ouachita is only fifteen miles from there. Persistance finally paid off and I reserved a site that was cheaper by ten dollars a night at Ouachita. I had a choice of several different sites (of which I knew nothing) so I took the advice of the person on the phone and will be in site #83. We'll see how that works out.

This is my site at Atlanta State Park in Texas. In case you miss it, I'll show it to you three more times. :) It's a very large site in amongst the pines and only costs $12/night for electric and water. A real bargain in my estimation! The loop I'm in only has a couple of other campers in it, so it's very private. I do like being in the woods. I could really enjoy a nice campfire here if it weren't for the rain or temps in the nineties.

Tomorrow, I'll go for a drive around the area and see if there's anything interesting.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Friday, May 8, 2009

Atlanta State Park, Texas

I pulled out of my campsite at Lavon Lake at 9:00 this morning, but had to stop at the dump station to take care of business on the way out. :( The wind was blowing pretty strong for today's trip, but I occasionally had a tail wind when the road would veer north briefly. The 154 mile drive was uneventful (the way I like it), and I made it to Atlanta State Park and to my site by 1:30.

What a pretty park this is! My site is in the piney woods and quite expansive. It's not exactly level, though. It's a good thing I have hydraulic levelers! I'll try to include a picture tomorrow. Putting up the satellite DISH was certainly a challenge, and after a couple of hours, I only have a few of the channels that I like to watch. I may try to tweak it some more tomorrow, although I don't have much of a window to the sky.

The temps today hit 90 and the humidity is about 99%. The sweat was just dripping off of me today while I was setting up camp. Guess I'll be taking a shower tonight. ;) I'll be able to "kill two birds with one stone" in the shower. I keep my tomato plants in the shower when I travel, and plenty of dirty water leaked out of the plant tubs over the rough terrain today.

These travel days fairly wear me out, so tonight I'm just enjoying the AC and watching the couple of stations I can get. Maybe I'll plug in the Waltons to end the day....

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On the road again....

Well, I finally made it out of Balcones Canyonlands NWR this morning by 9:00. It was pretty much an uneventful 222 miles to Lavon Lake and the Corps of Engineers East Fork Campground. Of course there were two minor setbacks of missed turns on my way here. And, of course, it didn't start raining until it was time for me to set up camp. ;)

Once I got the RV parked, the feathered ambassadors came to greet me. A pair of Mallard ducks waddled into my site and enjoyed one of the several puddles surrounding me.

There has been a lot of rain here in the last eight days. Emma was still inside, so they were able to stay around for a while.

As I was attaching the water hose, I leaned on the post next to the water hookup. That was a mistake! In no time at all, about 100 ants were covering my left hand. Luckily, they weren't fire ants. My whole hand was covered in mere seconds. I got them all off with only a few bites. That wooden post had a huge nest of ants in it!

This is the view out my window by the table. As you can see, it is overcast and puddles abound.

I decided to camp here to visit with Kirk and Pam Wood. They were supposed to be volunteering with me at Swan Lake NWR this summer, but Pam needs surgery on her ankle from an injury suffered at Everglades NP this winter. It turns out that her surgery is tomorrow morning. I'm hoping to get to talk with them this evening before she heads to the hospital tomorrow before the crack of dawn.

Temps today at Balcones were near 100*, so I'm happy to be on the road. I'll leave you with one last sunset from Balcones....

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

False start

Well, I thought I'd be on my way to Dallas this morning, but it was not to be. While listening to the news this morning, the weather man warned that travel to Dallas was not recommended. So, I checked out the National Weather Service on line and the forecast was dismal and called for severe thunderstorms with possible hail and possible tornadoes. At that point, I was on the fence between staying or going. I called friends, Kirk and Pam, who are at the campground I'm going to. After talking to them, I decided to err on the side of safety and stayed put at the Flying X for one more night.

That's the beauty of this lifestyle. If I'm uncomfortable with the forecast, I can wait a day. Weather is supposed to improve for tomorrow, so I'll give it another try in the morning.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pack-up day

So, Robyn, Dennis, and Avery decided to spend last night in a motel close to the Austin airport and fly back to Chicago this morning. I agreed that doing that was a wise decision. If they had stayed here another night, they would have had to get up at 3:00 this morning in order to drive the hour and a half to get to the airport on time. Not a pretty prospect, especially with a young child. It was a great weekend with them, and I'm so happy they came. :) What a Mother's Day gift!!

That left me with the entire day to get ready to hit the road tomorrow. I needed that amount of time to prepare. For those of you that don't live full time in an RV, that means doing the following: dump the tanks and clean the sewer hose; take down and pack up the three front and side window sun shades; do the laundry including sheets and towels; gather all garbage and take it 15 miles to the dumpster; check out at headquarters and turn in refuge keys and vehicle; get a ride back to the rig (another 15 miles); disconnect, take down, and store the trucker's antennae; shake out, fold, and store the outside 15' carpet; put away the grill; wash the outside windshield; adjust the outside rear view mirrors; install the Blue Ox tow bar on the back of the motorhome; pack all outdoor chairs and tables; and last but not least, drag out the air compressor and make sure all tires are properly inflated. That's just the outside stuff and I'm sure I've left a few things out. Phew...... The air compressor and checking the tires is what I dread the most. That compressor is heavy and I always struggle with getting air into the tires without letting more out! ;)

So, tonight I will begin work on the inside of the rig. I'm planning to be on the road by about nine tomorrow and head for Levon Lake Corps of Engineer Campground near Dallas. I have a tentative, leisurely travel schedule for the next three weeks that will culminate in my arrival at the Escapade in Sedalia, MO, on May 23. Escapade is like a rally for members of the Escapees RV Club. Escapees isn't your ordinary kind of club. It is really a fantastic support network for full time and not full time RVers. There should be several thousand people at the Escapade. I'll certainly post more about this at a later time.

When I checked out at headquarters this afternoon, I turned in my hours to Rob. I received a certificate for the 283 hours I volunteered at this refuge, and received some thank you gifts for reaching 2,333 volunteer hours so far for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I really appreciated getting a camel backpack. That's a backpack with a built in water supply to keep you hydrated while hiking. Cool beans....

Stay tuned during my four week "vacation" away from volunteering....

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Grufff! What a weekend!

Tonight's post is from Emma:

We had company this weekend! I met the smallest human I've ever seen.

My human told me to be nice. Sheesh! What was she thinking? I just wanted to clean that little person's hands....
I was pretty excited meeting these new people, but I really tried to be good. Every time I tried to sniff and clean Avery's hands she thought I was tickling her. I liked her a lot.

I spent all of this morning with them. Then they went inside and I went over to sniff the pond. It sure smelled like frogs. I thought I saw Avery coming out the door, so I looked up and before you know it, I fell into the pond! I hate water and getting wet! My human thought it was very funny. Sometimes I wonder about her.
Well, our visitors have now left and I'm getting a funny feeling. My human is starting to pack things up and is a little grouchy.
If I could just figure out where we're going next.....
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Emma

Friday, May 1, 2009

Company arrives

For my last day at work at this refuge, about thirty home schooled kids and their parents came for a mixed bird/insect program at Doeskin Ranch. I did three presentations on bird migration and three presentations on beneficial insects.

During one of the insect presentations, my phone rang and my daughter said she and her husband and their daughter had just landed at the Austin airport. An hour and a half later, they arrived at Doeskin. After a brief walk around the area, we headed for the Flying X. We got them set up at the ranch house and Avery got to have a much needed nap.

It is great to have them visiting. Avery is a very happy little girl and I know I'll enjoy having them here for the next few days. They will fly back to Chicago very early on Monday morning and then I'll be hitting the road on Tuesday. Don't know that I'll post much in the next few days.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy