Borrego Springs, CA

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I just wasn’t in the mood

My plans for today included driving into Little Rock, AR, to visit the President Clinton Library and Museum, and the State Capitol Building.  When I got up in the morning, I just wasn’t in the mood for that.  It’s kind of like shopping for me.  I have to be in the mood for it.  The thought of driving around a state capitol and finding a parking place just wasn’t my cup of tea this morning.  I’m glad I didn’t go because it would have been a feeling of dread rather than excitement.


Instead, I just enjoyed Maumelle COE Park for most of the day.  I did head out for a while to visit Pickle Gap and Toad Suck, AR, but even those two places left me flat.  It just wasn’t one of those days when I could get into touring.


Since I have a more secluded site in the woods, Emma and I did take a walk down to the banks of the Arkansas River.  It was a beautiful day with temps in the low 80’s, and a nice gentle breeze blowing.


I guess it was a good day to catch some rays!  I’m supposed to increase the length of my walks each day, and most recently my back hasn’t been protesting too much.  That’s a good thing.  The hip is working just fine, so Emma and I pressed on.


We hiked the nicely paved Nuttall Trail that weaves its way through the forest above the campground.  It’s a nice trail with benches as rest stops along the way to enjoy the sounds of all the birds.  If you’re a dog, there are plenty of smells, too, to keep things interesting.

My other chore today was to find a grocery store, and a place to fuel up the rig when I leave here on Thursday.  While I was out on the bust trip to Pickle Gap and Toad Suck, I came across a Walmart.  I would rather not shop there, but I didn’t find any other grocery store along the way.  As some of you may remember, finding a gas station that I can into and out of without any trauma is the thing that gives me the most heartburn of this life on the road.  I was able to find an acceptable Valero station not too far away.  The tank is now below 1/2, so that will be my first stop when I pull out.


Things are peaceful here tonight.  Several folks left during the day, so I have the entire C loop to myself.  Emma and I finished our hike on the trail, and I was happy to see our home in the distance…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Arkansas, the Natural State

275 miles might not seem much of a drive to some folks, but it wore me out.  I left Ajax, LA, a little before 9:00 this morning and headed for Arkansas.  It was good on I-49 to Shreveport, and then things got a little interesting as I got off of the interstate to take US 71 North.  After weaving around in Shreveport, 71 becomes a two lane highway that could use some repaving for a good portion of it.  I must say, it was a good test to see if the MCD shades were going to stay put or fall down.  Thankfully, they stayed put.

Once I got into Arkansas, the roads became smooth four lanes with only one detour that had ‘Jack-in-the-Box’ rather frustrated.  He almost set a record for ‘recalculating’!  Once I reached I-30 East, both he and I heaved a sigh of relief.  I would have hit my ‘Easy Button’ had it been within reach.

We sailed along for several more hours, and as I passed the exit for Hot Springs National Park, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the time I stopped there for a full body work over at one of the historic spas.  If you are ever near there, do stop in and get an appointment.  It’s an experience you’ll never forget.  If I had the knowledge or the energy, I’d include a link to my post a few years ago about my day at the Hot Springs spa.


Anyway, along about 3:00, I finally found my way to the Maumelle Park COE campground a little ways northwest of Little Rock, AR.  Good old ‘Jack-in-the-Box’ took me on the scenic nerve wracking way to get there.  I ended up on a very skinny two lane road with no shoulders, and low hanging tree branches that whacked the top of the rig. 


There were also three bicyclists in front of me on that road, so the five miles or so seemed to take forever.  With all of the curves in the road, I couldn’t chance trying to pass them.  I was also becoming a little panicked about ever finding the place.  My mind conjured up a dead end with no room to turn around.  I was trying to figure out how I was ever going to get out of this predicament, when the entrance to the park suddenly appeared on the left.  This was after good old ‘Jack’ had said I’d passed it up about a mile back.Surprised smile


I was a wreck when I stopped to check in.  I got directions to the site I had reserved via the internet.  It’s hard to choose a site just looking at a map, but I really like my choice.  It’s not a waterfront site along the Arkansas River, but a rather secluded woodland site with no other campsites very close by.  It fits me to a T.

I crate Emma when we travel, and she remains vigilant the whole trip, and doesn’t sleep the time away.  So, by the time we were set up, we both were worn out from the day.  We’ll be here for three nights, so we’re just going to relax tomorrow and investigate this campground.  Maybe I’ll get some pictures of the campground sites along the river.  They’re more tightly packed together than the one I chose.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Touring and an inverter question

I truly decided to relax this morning.  After making my bed, I stayed in my PJ’s until 11:00 in the morning.  It’s been decades since I’ve done that.  By noon, though, I’d had enough of that so I showered and headed out to do a little exploring.


This is where I ended up.  I decided to visit the Oakland Plantation outside of Natchitoches.  Lots of plantations were located along the Cane River back in the day.


It turned out that this was National Junior Ranger Day at this National Park.  There were quite a few youngsters moving around from exhibit to exhibit, but the crowds weren’t stifling. 


I was there for the 1:00 tour of the Main House.  It was built in 1821.  It still retains most of its original heavy cypress timber construction and bousillage-filled walls.  Bousillage was a new word for me today.  It’s kind of like adobe, but uses Spanish moss in the mixture instead of straw.  It was used to insulate the walls.

_MG_2027 _MG_2028

We had a good park ranger for the tour group.  The area leading to the front of the house is lined with giant live oak trees.  Just what you would expect in a southern plantation.  The canopy of trees provided a tunnel for the breezes off of the Cane River to flow down into the open windows of the house.


I also learned that these first Creole plantation owners drank a lot of French wine.  They used the empty bottles to line their flower gardens.  Many of these bottles are from the early 1800’s.  So I guess recycling isn’t really a new thing.  Winking smile


I walked some of the grounds, but although my hip doesn’t hurt one bit, my stamina isn’t what it was before the surgery yet.  I need to figure out some lower back exercises.  Any ideas out there?

I also stopped at the Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery on the way back to the rig, but the only part open was a small aquarium featuring local river, lake, and pond species.  I had forgotten that most FWS staff don’t work on the weekends, so the ponds with the fish they were growing were closed to entry.

I have a long, for me, drive coming up tomorrow to get to the Maumelle COE campground outside of Little Rock, Arkansas.  In all my years of traveling with a trailer or motorhome, I’ve always turned off the fridge while driving.  As Emma and I were sitting outside this evening, I got to wondering about my small converter.  Since I have a residential fridge now that only operates on electric, could I use the converter to keep it running while I drive down the road?  This is the first rig I’ve had with an inverter, and I do next to no boondocking, so I really haven’t used it.  With the small solar panel on the roof that charges the batteries, and running the engine, won’t that be enough charge to keep it running for six hours or so?  The temps are likely to be in the 80’s for my travel day.  Don’t know why I haven’t thought about this before.  I would appreciate any input from those of you that know about inverters.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, April 26, 2013

I picked a gem to stay at my first night out

I was up at the crack of dawn ready to head on my way from Premiere RV.  There were supposed to be just a few minor details to be taken care of before I left.  My plan was to head out a little before 9:00.  Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans.

It turns out that there were real issues with finding new windshield wipers for the rig.  Who would have guessed that?  Then there was the vacuuming out of the air from the reluctant to work dash air conditioner.  It had been worked on yesterday, but there was another process to do that took a while, and then there was a test drive to make sure everything was working.  I’m not complaining about the attention to detail at Billy Thibodeaux’s, but I was just anxious to be out of there. 

It was noon before I could finally pull out.  I generally leave a place soon after rush hour because I tend to get drowsy driving in the afternoon.  Thank goodness, for some reason, I’d chosen a campground only about 170 miles away for the day’s travel.  After all the packing up and delays of the morning, I was more than ready to pull off of the road shortly after 3:00.

I had made a reservation last night at a place that was mostly well reviewed on the internet.  What a beauty of a spot it is!

72 On the way to Tamarac NWR, MN 20132If you ever find yourself about 17 miles north of Natchitoches, LA, on I-49, I’d recommend a stay at this Passport America park.  It’s only .3 miles off of the interstate, but it’s a really relaxing small RV park.  There are plenty of long pull-throughs and it was $18.42/night.  There are only 27 sites, but tonight there are only five rigs here.


After setting up, I took Emma for a walk, and this padded bench swing was calling my name.  It overlooks the private pond where you can fish (catch and release) without a license.  The lady in the motorhome next to me spent the late afternoon catching and releasing quite a few fish.  If I had a pole, I would have given it a go.

72 On the way to Tamarac NWR, MN 20131

While I was swinging away, Emma enjoyed a good roll in the grass.  I guess she’s as glad to be out of the gravel repair shop parking lot as I am.  Winking smile  I paid for two nights here, so I’ll be doing some local visiting tomorrow.  Since I’ve never done it, I suppose I should tour a plantation.  It’s not something I’ve been dying to do, but I’ll probably sneak in a visit to a National Fish Hatchery along with it.  I’ll be taking my time heading to Tamarac NWR as I believe they still have a couple of feet of snow on the ground there.  I think I’m allergic to snow.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Finally got the Flat Joey letter done.

Just as I awoke this morning, the skies opened up, and it rained cats and dogs for what seemed forever.  Because of the weather, no work on my rig was done today.  Lots of other rigs were taken in and out of the shop, but I was happy to not be one of them.  When the rig goes in, Emma and I are stuck with finding something else to do for hours.  You can’t do much enjoying of the outdoors when it’s pouring buckets outside!

Instead, I decided it was time I finally got the letter and pictures ready to send to my grandson Joey’s first grade teacher.  I’ve got a deadline to meet on that, and it’s soon approaching.  I hope you’ll remember that flat Joey was sent to me at the beginning of the month to take on some adventures.  Tonight, I’m including the letter that I sent to his first grade class.  Not having a printer, I was finally able to figure out how to put it on a CD, and that’s what I’ll be sending out from the Scott, LA, post office tomorrow.  I hope Joey and his class will enjoy it.  What do you think?               

                  The Adventures of Flat Joey in the Okefenokee Swamp.

Hi everybody! This is Flat Joey, and I want to tell you about the good time I had visiting my not-so-flat Grandma down in Georgia.


My Grandma lives full time in her motorhome, and drives around the country volunteering at some of our country's National Wildlife Refuges. Some people think she is homeless, but that's not true. Her house just has wheels on it.


She has a dog named Emma that travels with her. I like Emma, but she sure can get excited some times.


When I first arrived, my Grandma took me for a ride around the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. She told me that a Wildlife Refuge is a place where all plants and animals are safe. (Except she told me that it was all right to swat the mosquitoes if they were biting me.)


Oh boy, was I ever excited when we saw our first alligator. There are a lot of alligators in the Okefenokee Swamp.


I wanted to have my picture taken with one of the alligators, but Grandma said we had to stay at least twenty-five feet away from them. They can run very fast, and just might want to snack on a little guy like me. I did get to pose next to a stuffed one that wasn't going to hurt anyone.


While I was visiting, I had to help my Grandma do her volunteer duties. This day, we worked on the porch of the old Chesser Homestead. We told everyone that came to visit all about the first people to homestead the swamp. This cabin was build by hand in 1927; almost 90 years ago!


On the weekend, we had more visitors come to stay that were relatives of ours. It was my Great Aunt and Uncle from Chicago. All of the volunteers got together to have a wiener roast. I got to help my Uncle (not-so-flat Stanley) cook the hot dogs over an open fire. Of course, I cooked my hot dogs perfectly just like not-so-flat Joey would do.


The next day was the most exciting time of all. I went with Grandma, Aunt Pam, and Uncle Stanley for a boat ride out in the swamp to fix the signs along the canoe trails. That's my Aunt Pam holding me so Grandma could get a picture.


I hope everyone can see that I was being safe by wearing a life jacket while we were out on the water in the boat. My Grandma made one for me to wear that was just the right size! I liked it so much that I kept it on for the rest of my visit.


We worked hard fixing the signs, so we stopped at one of the shelters out in the wilderness to have our lunch.


Grandma had packed a lunch for us, and I even had some of Aunt Pam's peanuts. With all of the fun we were having, I forgot how hungry I was.

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Soon it was time to get back in the boat and find our way home. Luckily Jackie, the volunteer driving the boat, knew where to go. It would be easy to get lost out here in the swamp.

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Grandma drove us all home in a big truck that pulled the boat behind us, but along the way we stopped at volunteer Jackie's house. He likes to hunt in the swamp where he has lived his whole life. He has a big stuffed black bear in his front room, and I got to sit on it!


By the time we got back to the motorhome, the sun was setting on the swamp and I was tired from our big adventure.


A few days later, I had to say goodbye to my not-so-flat Grandma and to the Okefenokee Swamp. I had a good time. I'm still excited though, because Grandma told me that this summer she will be volunteering at the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge that is close to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Do you know what that means? I just may be able to go visit her along with not-so-flat Joey Bell this summer to have more adventures! Whoopee!


                                                                              THE END!!

                                   Couldn’t pass up the chance for a ‘THE  END’, don’t cha know!  Winking smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Which one doesn’t belong?

Today was a day that was almost all about my rig.  After all, that’s why I’m in Scott, Louisiana.  Shortly after 8:00, the tap on the door let me know that it was time to pack up and move the rig to Southern Tire Mart to get six new tires for the motorhome.  Billy, the owner of Thibodeaux’s Premiere RV, had said he would drive the rig there as I followed in the car.  He wanted to take a test drive to check out the fixing he had done yesterday to the MCD shades.  I was all for that as driving the rig isn’t my favorite thing to do; especially in city traffic.

We dropped the rig off, and I drove Billy back to the repair shop.  What to do then?  Emma and I were homeless for a while, so I found a place to get the oil changed on the car.  I drove right in, and exited less than ten minutes later.  Easy peasy! 


Since I knew it would take several hours before the rig would be ready to pick up, Emma and I headed for Lake Martin, south of Breaux Bridge.  We had been there about two years ago, but it was in January that year.


A blog reader had commented a couple of days ago reminding me that there was a rookery at Lake Martin.  Birds weren’t nesting when I lasted visited, but since this time it was April, I decided to give it another try.  I’m sure glad I did.


I was simply amazed at the thousands of birds that were nesting along the swampy lands surrounding Lake Martin.  There were roseate spoonbills, great egrets, little blue herons, cattle egrets, snowy egrets, and anhinga's that I observed.  


I just put the car in first gear and slowly crept along the gravel road as I enjoyed the sights and sounds of this huge rookery.  I’ve seen other rookeries before, but this one was simply immense.  What a sight!


Emma and I took a nice stroll around the relatively short boardwalk that can be found on the perimeter road.  The last time we did this, the cypress didn’t have their needles yet.  Lots of warblers were singing, and we flushed several wood ducks.  Emma’s nose was working overtime as we made our way.  Between the nesting wading birds, the warblers, and the frogs, we had quite the symphony as we walked along.


Then it was time to turn the car around and head back.  Of course it took me forever to get back to the highway as I slowly cruised the rookery once again.  We saw different sized great egret chicks along the way hoping their parents would have something for them to eat.


                              The adults that weren’t at the nests were out hunting for tasty morsels.

Eventually, we got a call that the rig was ready, with it’s new shoes, to be picked up.  I was happy to find out that the price was a little less than quoted.  (Of course, $8 doesn’t seem like much on a $4000 bill.)  We stopped at a gas station on the way back to Premiere RV to fill the tank on the rig.  Now I won’t have to worry about that when I head out for Minnesota.

It had been a pretty long day, and I was looking forward to getting the rig set up and turning the AC on.  Ha!  As we arrived back, Billy drove the rig right into a service bay to take care of some of the maintenance items on my list.  Up into the air the rig went, and the oil change/engine check and generator service were taken care of.  It was a little after 5:00 before I got my home back and could relax.  Most things on my list have been taken care of, and now it’s just a matter of waiting for the new MCD shades to arrive. 

So, with all of the work that was done on the rig today, and the oil change for the car, it seems the trip to Lake Martin doesn’t belong in this day.  It sure was better than sitting in a parking lot waiting all day though…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, April 22, 2013

Things are looking up

I’ve been at Premiere RV in Scott, LA, for six days, and have to admit that I was getting a little down in the dumps about how long I would be here to get everything on my list taken care of on the rig.  When I checked with the office this morning, they predicted that the new MCD shades that were ordered wouldn’t be in until sometime next week.  Ugh!  I’m not in a colossal rush to get to northwest Minnesota considering they are still buried under snow, but I was hoping to leisurely make my way up north.  Sitting in this parking lot for over another week just didn’t brighten me up much.

IMG_2402                                      (Most of tonight’s pictures are from my time at Okefenokee.)

Over the weekend, I tried to do some laundry using my Splendide washer/dryer in the rig.  Since I didn’t have hot water because of the broken check valve, I decided to just use cold water.  Nice idea, but it didn’t work.  I put in the clothes, detergent and softener, and hit the start button.  The machine worked away, but no water ever entered the wash basin.  Baring teeth smile  I had noticed in the past that no matter what water temperature I chose, the water in the washer was always hot.  Now that the check valve didn’t work, I didn’t get any water at all.  I suppose it’s best that I find these things out while I’m at a repair facility, but it just didn’t do anything for my morale. 


I reported that problem as well when I checked in at the office this morning.  I was told the owner, Billy, would be working on my rig today without moving me into a service bay, so I sat and waited.  Turns out he was out and about finding me a new check valve that is all brass inside and out, so it shouldn’t ever break down again.  The three I’ve had before had plastic parts and a spring inside that ultimately quickly broke.

By the middle of the afternoon, I finally had hot water again!  Yahoo!  Not only that, but he quickly fixed the washer/dryer.  It turned out that the water lines were switched somehow.  That meant when I chose cold water, it meant hottest water.  I’m sure glad that is fixed.

Then, Billy did some tweaking on the MCD shades I had installed here previously.  A former employee installed them, and they had become loose, and I was afraid they would fall down as I drove down the road.  Now, they’re as good as new.

IMG_0039My new set of tires for the rig have arrived at the tire place, so I’m hoping to get those taken care of tomorrow.  Then, just before closing, Billy’s wife Helen came to the rig to report that my new MCD shades had already been shipped from Texas.  So, things are looking up!  With a little luck, I may be on my way by Friday.  Sweet!  Now my mind is reeling with the possibilities of places I will have time to visit along the way north.  That sure pepped me up.

I’m running a load of wash right now, and soon will have my first hot shower in two weeks.  Life is good!


                                                                               THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy