Monday, December 19, 2011



I recently found out two tidbits of news.  the first being,  Camping Club USA has merged with Passport America. Affinity Group which owned Camping Club USA was not making a profit off of the club and sold it to Passport America.  No official word from Passport America as to how the merge will be accomplished or whether they will add the Camping Club campgrounds with Passports clubs.  Except to note that Camping Club USA members are being sent Passport America membership cards.

The second bit of news is that Woodalls will be merging with Trailer-life Directory with a new mega directory to come out in 2013.  Again, Affinity Group owned both directories and has decided to merge them, I'm sure as a cost saving effort.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011-38 Travel Expenses for 2011

The following chart shows my expenses for Camping, Fuel (diesel) and Misc.  Food has not been included.  This should give the future traveler some idea of the costs involved with full-time camping.  Under misc one would find truck maintenance, a new tire, insurance on the camper/truck etc.

My camping cost was reduced in October after I began to take advantage of my newly acquired Gov. Senior Pass which provides half off National Parks, BLM, Forest campgrounds.  Along with my continued use of Passport America my favorite half price campground club.

Click on chart to show larger version

Saturday, November 26, 2011

2011-37 Wintering In Florida

2011-37  Winter Campsite

Inverness Florida

campsite on the pond

Campground:  1,000 Palms Rv Resort.  A mix of full hookups and water/electric sites.  Half in shade trees, half in sunny locations.  I’m on the pond…. Water/electric $384 monthly.  5 over the air HD-TV stations. Free wi-fi. (Passport America park, 7 night max)

On my way here from St Augustine, I stopped at the Rv dealer in Ocala and had them install the new faucet in the shower area.  The work done was the last under my one year warranty as the camper will be one year old as of today.  It was done in speedy order and I headed on down the road to my winter campsite.

last repair under warranty

I’ve completed my travels for the year and have landed at my snowbird winter site here at 1,000 Palms Rv Resort.  It’s about 10 miles from Inverness Florida.  I’ve reported on this area in the past as this is one of my favorite areas in Florida.  Surrounded by Lakes, rivers, ranches and small towns with that old Florida feeling.  It’s far enough away from the beaches, resorts and Disney Worlds which Florida is noted for and the crowds that they attract.

The campground I’m at is much smaller that Desert Trails where I’ve wintered for the past couple of years in Arizona.  1,000 Palms has 95 Rv sites along with about a dozen park models.  A heated swimming pool (80 degrees), Laundromat, clubhouse, shuffleboard court and group campfire.

Enjoyed a “two day” Thanksgiving feast.  There were so many leftovers, that we all got together for dinner the following night.  What a great deal.  One gal had made over 20 pies for the feast.  Of course I met a number of the winter residences during the dinners.  The park is a bit over half full as many of the snowbirds arrive on December 1st.


Because a few of my Desert Trails friends want to know what the campground is like, here in Florida, I’ve taken a few pictures of the campground to share with you’all.  Now that I’m back in the south I have to get my southern-eze back on.  I can do a fairly good southern accent without too much of the sugar….

I’ve learned that there are a few locations to enjoy some good country/folk music throughout the week.  One is at  Catfish Johnny’s, where about 20 musicians get together to jam.  Our park will also have a jam session every other week starting in January.

Talking with a few folks up at the swimming pool with their granddaughter in the pool (water temp. 78), the granddaughter asked me why I was taking so many pictures.  I told her about my Blog and she wanted to know if I’d take a picture of her for the Blog.  So of course I did and here it is.

Now I should mention something about the camper.  As you know, I had my last appt. (under warranty) to have the faucet fixed in the shower this past week.  Well, after setting up at 1,000 Palms and checking through the camper, wouldn’t you know it, I discovered a mess.  I tugged and pulled on the large pull out drawer under the sofa which is great for storing all the extra stuff one collects.  After finally opening the drawer I discovered that a casserole dish and three pottery bowls were broken into a million pieces.  Along with some damage to the drawer.   Needless to say, I cleaned up the mess, reinforced the drawer and had to purchase a new slider for one side of the drawer.  Repairs are on me from here on out.

That must have been one huge bump I went over to cause all that damage.  Guess I need to use more packing material between breakables before heading out next spring.

my winter campsite

Anyone from the Orlando area who would like to come visit for the day, I'd love to see you‘all, I’m only a little over an hours drive up the Florida Turnpike.  And I’m sure I’ll be in Orlando for a visit myself one of these days as well.

club house

laundry room

group campfire

and more photos on Picasa.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

2011-36 St Augustine Florida

St Augustine

Campground:  St Johns RV park.  $12.50 Passport America Rate.  Water/Electric.  They also have full hookup sites w/cable tv.  ($15 PA rate)  Flea market next door but nicely separated by buffer of trees.  All sites are pull-thru’s.

Shout-Out:  Thanks to all the readers on for reading my Blog.  I’m so glad to have you along on my travels.  Hitchitch is a great resource to connect with other Rv’ers Blogs and learn about this most wonderful lifestyle.  Keep on traveling down those back roads to the next adventure.

An hour and a half on down the road and I was in St Augustine.  My campground is right off of hwy 95, but I was able to take some great back roads the entire way here.  Passing through places like Elkton, Spuds, Hastings and Palatka.  If I didn’t get off the main highways imagine what I would have missed.

Here’s a quick rundown on the history of St Augustine, one of my favorite places in Florida to visit.
  • Ponce de Leon claimed Florida for Spain, 1513.
  • 1565 Pedro Menendez with 700 soldiers and colonists founded St Augustine
  • Menendez kicked out the French who recently established a garrison and were trying to worm their way into Florida
  • Life was treacherous with pirates roaming the coast, Indians and the isolation of the area.
  • Englishman Francis Drake burned down the town and fort in 1586
  • The town was sacked again in 1668
  • Spain realized they needed fortification to defend Florida so they built the Casillo de San Marcos in 1672 (yup, it’s still standing, guarding the city)
  • The darn English came back in 1702 and 1740 to take St Augustine but failed
  • But alas in 1763 England defeated Spain in the 7 years war and Florida was transferred to the English
  • Florida was returned to Spain as part of the American Revolution in 1783
  • 1821 the Americans took over Florida from Spain (Spain really wasn’t doing much with it)
  • 1883, Henry Flagler co-founder of Standard Oil Co visited the city, eventually building The Hotel Ponce de Leon and Hotel Alcazar along with bringing the railroad to Florida so all the wealthy folks along the east coast could come to Florida for winter vacations…. And that’s how Florida became a winter vacation paradise. The end.  

Making St Augustine the OLDEST city in the United States… so there… all you Pilgrims from Massachusetts and the New England States.  

Had a great day with the guys as we toured the area.  Lighthouses, a quick visit to Anastasia State Park, a tour of the historic downtown of St Augustine via carriage ride and lunch at the Columbia Restaurant.  A Cuban restaurant with a 100 year history in Florida.  The food was mixed in that some of the dishes were great and others were just so-so.  They served plantain chips instead of fresh plantains.  The chips were tasteless and shouldn’t have been served.  Drinks and deserts were top notch.

I took a tour of the Lightner Museum on my own as the guys were a bit slow in getting around this morning.  It’s in the original Alcazar Hotel.  Part of which housed the largest indoor swimming pool of it’s day, exercise and health spa for the wealthy of the late 1890’s and early 1900’s.  They’ve opened the top floor ballroom and the main hotel entrance has been restored to perfection since I was last here.  Near the end of my wonderings, they had a demonstration of vintage music players.  Some really unusual ones including one that played a piano and violin and another that contained pretty much a full band.  All the art objects would have been found during the height of the Golden age of travel.

In the evening, Walt, Ben, Scott and I went into St Augustine for dinner and music.  Tim is still going through recovery from a stoke and thought he might get too tired to really enjoy the adventure.  It was hard to leave him behind, but we went into the night for a bit of fun.  After crossing the Bridge of Lions, we drove along the harbor and found a parking spot.  Without any planning we walked along the narrow back streets in the heart of Old Town where there are dozens and dozens of restaurants and bars.  We found an outdoor dining patio, surrounded by palm trees and yucca’s.  Later we would find out it was attached to an English Pub for a completely different atmosphere inside.   The outdoor dining was perfect for a long leisurely dinner along with wine and good conversations.

Then it was into the night, walking along narrow brick lined  roads to the Stogie.  A Cigar smoking coffee house with live Jazz music every night.  A small intimate coffee house in one of those old houses that was probably from the early 1800’s.  Classy burgundy drapes on the narrow windows, a small bar serving coffee drinks, beer and wine.  A few small cushy couches, stuffed chairs and tall ladder back chairs against the wall between diminutive tables with small lamps on each one.

Two guitar players came in and set up in a corner.  The first singing and playing in a soulful silky smooth voice, later accompanied by another player with equal playing and singing creds.  Not quite Jazz, but more Joan Baize type music.  Next we wandered down more side alleys and found ourselves drawn to a small outdoor patio attached to Marie’s Crepe Restaurant.  A pair of gals were playing classical Russian, Greek and Spanish music on various guitars and violins.  Pure magic and so accomplished one got the feeling they were at a classy recital instead of sitting above the crowd on an outdoor tile lined patio.

More excitement came as three, more than inebriated, women came tumbling onto the patio.  Minutes later a police man came scurrying through looking for them.  They’d skipped out on paying their tab at the last place they were at.  After “escorting” them back to the previous establishment to make good on their tab, they returned to pay their bill at Marie’s.    Finally it was time for our group to head on back.  White rope lights and twinkling lights illuminating the dark night as we retreated from a night out on the town.

More photos on Picasa.

This is my last major posting of the 2011 season as I will be heading to Inverness and 1,000 Palms Rv Park for my winter stay.  Thanks for being a part of the journey.

Friday, November 11, 2011

2011-35 Ocala Florida

Ocala Florida

M.K. Rowlings House State Park

Micanopy Florida

Campground:  Ocala North Rv Park.  $16 Passport America rate.  Full hookup/cable tv.  Country setting.  Each campsite has concrete pad and patio w picnic table, large old stand of trees dripping with Spanish moss.  Swimming pool/rec hall.

Ocala was the closest place for my next stop, about an hour from Inglis.  Which was determined by the fact that they have an RV dealer for, yes, once again, repairs on the Montana camper.  I have 20 days remaining on the warranty and I needed the shower faucet replaced and a sliding closet door latched fixed.  They sure don’t build things the way they used too.

Ocala is of course the center for all the wonderful large horse ranches.  My campsite at Ocala North backs up to one of these ranches.  A straight row of black 4 board fencing lines the side of the campground.  Creating a genteel country atmosphere with the green pastures beyond.

The campground is filled with horse trailers with “bunkhouse” compartments for living quarters up front.  I gather many of the horse trainers and workers live in them during the winter season here in Florida, then move north following their horses and owners.

A note about the equipment installed (at Best Buy) on the truck for a direct connection to my MP3 player and smart phone (cell phone) to the stereo unit has worked out exceedingly well.  I can now play my MP3 music and Pandora, Slacker radio and all the other internet radio stations through my trucks stereo.  The sound is awesome and I don’t have to listen to 15 commercials before the radio station plays the next song.

Yikees!  I had a a sidewall blowout on one of my truck tires.  Fortunately it occurred while touring the area and not while towing the camper.  I had purchased the tire while in Canada and have no way of seeing about getting reimbursed as the tire companies don’t recognize the manufacturer.  Darn.

After getting the tire replaced with the spare, I continued my journey to Marjorie Kinan Rowlings Cross Creek home.  I’ve been here before but it is just such an awesome home in a true cracker style.  The historical site is managed by the State Park system, but the house itself is only open 4 days a week Thur. - Sunday.  Rowlings was a Pulitzer prize winner for The Yearling.  She often entertained famous authors, poets and actors like Gregory Peck. If you’ve ever wondered what life was like in the 30’s and 40’s in Florida, this is the ideal place to experience it.

“I do not know how any one can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to” Cross Creek 1942.

“enchantment lies in different things for each of us, for me it is this: to step out of the bright sunlight into the shade of the orange trees; to walk under the arched canopy of their jade like leaves;  to see the long aisles of lichened trunks stretch ahead in a geometric rhythm; to feel the mystery of the seclusion that yet has shafts of light striking through it.  This is the essence of an ancient and secret magic.” MK Rawling.

Those words help to describe my feelings about Florida and what keeps bringing me back to this land of enchantment.  It’s found along the country lanes with the dripping moss hanging from the majestic oak trees.  The hundreds of natural springs with their blue green waters bubbling up from the aquifer.  Seeing gators and deer and red fox or a dragon fly flying from the tip of one tall grass to the next.  

In Ocala, while getting the tire replaced, I was talking to the front desk manager who was working by himself.  He mentioned that they used to have 4 people working the front desk and even though he had a stack of applications, he couldn’t hire any of them.  Many came in dirty, not even dressing for an interview or preparing in any way.  So there’s work out there, the applicants apparently don’t know how to prepare even when going in to apply for a job.  1st impressions really do make a difference.

My next stop was to the small town of Micanopy.  It’s between Gainesville and Ocala.  This small town has tons of history, having had a village on the site as early as 1539 when explorer Hernando De Soto came on through the area.  Observing the Timucuan Indians living in the area. But it’s current configuration started around 1821.  What’s fascinating is that the town has remained in this historically preserved state.  No gas stations, fast food shops or convenience stores.  It’s as if the 21 century bypassed the area.  With it’s oak tree lined streets dripping with Spanish moss and stately palm trees, it’s like stepping back in time.  The shops containing bits of history in their antiques and collectibles as well.  A few restaurants to nourish the tummy while drinking in all the cool atmosphere.  An art co-op in a small log cabin tucked under an old corrugated metal building.  Specialty shops with vintage and rare books, thousands of old postcards from all over the States and world.  A large collection of iron skillets that have been seasoned with age and use.  Just a great place to wander around and of course take a ton of pictures as well.

One of my last tours was to the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala.  An impressive newer museum with a good collections of Asian art, Iranian and Eastern pottery, European paintings and exhibits from local landscape artists.  No pictures were permitted inside, but I’ll include a link to their website for you.  Nice to have the time to explore art through a true collectors eye, Mr. Appleton.  He owned a large electrical supply business in Chicago, came to Ocala and bought the Bridlewood farm  in 1977 (960 acres) and produced a number of the best horse breeds in the country.  His collection of over 6,000 pieces of art are the center piece of this 10 million dollar museum which of course he and his sister donated the money for.

Ocala has become quite cosmopolitan and even has a BMW (top end, $109,000) and Porsche (high end $99,990) dealer in town.  But I’ve also found homeless along the highways with signs saying “please help, Hungry”  and even have had the poor walk up to my open truck window and ask for a handout.

I'll be heading to St Augustine for a week before settling down for the winter at 1,000 Palms in Inverness Fla.  

More photos on Picasa 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

2011-34 Crystal River Florida


Sopchoppy, Fl

Inglis, Fl

Crystal River

Kings Bay

Campground:  Ochlockonee River State Park.  $18+ tax.  Elect/water.  Pine and Oak forest.  Sites are around a sandy loop road with a couple tight turns.  About a dozen over-air TV channels available. And special note:  if they recommend you go look at the sites with your rig and then come back to the office to sign in, there’s no place to turn around up at the office.  You big rigs know what I’m saying.  Might want to suggest that you drop your rig off at a site and then go pay for it….
Campground:  Aurora Acres MH and RV park (originally Northwoods) .  $13 Full hookups (Passport rate).  RV park separate from MH section.  Ask about cable tv, as it’s only available on some Rv sites.

Crystal River

For the observant traveler there are things the average traveler might not see.  Having been aware that the Monarch butterfly migrates along two major routes, one being along the Eastern U.S. south to Florida and then along the Gulf of Mexico until they land in central Mexico., I’ve been able to observe that migration.  I first became aware of it while camping on Santa Rosa Island off of Pensacola.  The Monarch butterflies were flitting around in their crazy hectic pattern.  And I had to questioned their resolve to get to Mexico.  Then again as I began my drive along hwy 98 along the Gulf of Mexico route, I not only saw them all along the route, but they had a major impact on me as well.  Well, ok, my truck.  With a splat and a flip, some ended their journey much too soon.  Sorry.

Back in Pensacola, my trucks engine light came on and I was able to get the truck serviced at a Chevy dealer 1st thing Monday morning.  Seems there was a recall on the EGR valve again and computer settings.  I wonder how one is supposed to hear about these recalls.  I never received any mail regarding it.  After owning the vehicle for over 4 years, the service man told me it was still under warranty.  So what cost $390 you ask.  Just a basic oil and filter change, replace the fuel filter, air filter and transmission filter.  Boy do they sock it to you on pricing of oil and all those filters.  Geez Louise.  Well, the truck must be maintained, so I guess I can’t complain too much.

Update:  A week later the engine light came on again.  Not unexpected.  The EGR valve cleaning didn’t do the trick and it was replaced along with a half dozen gaskets, all under warranty.  Free, yippee!

A note to travelers.  I usually get my oil/filter changed at Wal-Mart’s and save a considerable amount of money  (between $50-$75) doing so.  But they don’t change fuel filters etc, so occasionally I need to take it elsewhere for maintenance.

While awaiting for the maintenance crew to replace the EGR valve, I met an older women.  She was having basic service done on her Escalade (A real sharp pearl color).  Told me how they have lived around Florida most of their lives.  Were in a gated community with tons of regulations.  Finally moved to a community south of Crystal River.  Husband died.  They had lots of friends especially through his gulfing buddies.  After talking about health insurance which she pays $195 for Medicare part B which doesn't include prescriptions (I really don’t understand all that yet) and the state of the economy, she described her community.  A house next to her doesn’t cut their grass, making the whole neighborhood look a shambles.  Absentee homeowners and the homeowners assoc. has done nothing to rectify the situation.  Bottom line, she’s living here, no husband and as she held up her hand and formed a circle with her thumb and finger, said, “that’s how many friends I have”.  Zero.

A walk around the campground at Ochlockonee River SP and to my surprise, I saw a white squirrel.  The eyes were normal color, so not sure if it was an albino or not.  Besides, it had a black stripe down it’s back.   Just too cool.  This is the best shot I could get before it scurried away.

About another two hundred miles down the road and I’m in a small town along hwy 98/19 called Inglis.  1,600 people and about 98% white.  And most of them living in single wide trailers or campers.  It’s in-between everything else but close enough to get there from here.  A grocery store, gas stations, Napa Auto, and Dollar General.

Rainbow River

I met up with friends from the Great Outdoors who were kayaking the Rainbow River.  I had planned to join them, but chickened out when it dropped to 48 last night and became a breezy day on the river today.  But I did go into Dunnellon and explored a town wide yard sale and even had a pancake breakfast put on by the Lions club.  Then, hopped over to Rainbow Springs and joined the GO group for a walk around the park.

We’re headed out to the Stone Crab Jam in Crystal River this evening.

Margie and John

Nice event.  Best vendor food I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.  Butterfly shrimp so fresh I think it was plucked right off the boats minutes before frying up.  Butterfly fries, have you ever had them.  So thin you can almost see through them.  And key lime cake, yummy.  A clam chowder cook off well worth doing the tasting for.  4 stages of blues/rock music.  Fun and energetic.  Oh and lots of beer and wine vendors.  And what interesting timing.  4pm to about 11pm.

Great Outdoors

Extra photos on Picasa

Saturday, October 29, 2011

2011-33 Mississippi to Florida

Biloxi Mississippi

Pensacola Florida

Campground:  Lakeview RV Resort, Biloxi.  Passport America ), $16 per night (2 night max, but I asked for 3 and was granted it.  Full hookups.  Concrete streets and pads.  Very neat and clean, though sites are relatively close.  All pull-thru’s.

Campground:  Gulf Islands, Davis Bayou Camping  National Park campground (east of Biloxi).  I didn’t stay here, but would def. consider on my next stay in the area.  1st come 1st served.  $16 reg. $8 senior rate.  Water and elect.

Campground:  Fort Pickens, National Park.  $20 reg. $10 Senior rate.  Water and Elect.  Reservations recommended.  Barrier Island camping at it’s best.  Scruffy oak hammock setting.  The trees look pretty weathered after all the hurricanes in recent years, but within walking distance of gorgeous sugar white sand beaches for miles and miles.

Biloxi Miss.

The casinos and hotels have rebuilt.  The wreckage of Katrina has finally all been removed.  Vacant lots and empty pristine beaches await the traveler.  Biloxi has built a huge visitor center across from the lighthouse.  An impressive building with huge (9 foot) doors even to the restrooms.  Static displays of life in the area fill the exhibit rooms.  A large theatre room on the second floor shows a 10 minute film on Biloxi.  The film is visually first rate but only has three words spoken throughout the presentation… “Welcome to Biloxi”.  Apparently there isn’t that much to share or talk about except pretty scenes of the Gulf of Mexico, sailing and smiling people.

I’m staying at Lakeview Rv about 15 minutes north of town, though I discovered Davis Bayou campground (see listing above) and would more than likely stay there next time around.  Though from Lakeview I’m only about 5 minutes away from a shopping area with the Super Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and good chain eateries right off of hwy 10.

Of course Biloxi is noted for all their casinos and I did stop in two of them.  However, I was intrigued to find out that a new Art Museum had open (partially anyway) called the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art.  It was designed by famed Architect, Frank Gehry.  A mix of 4 different styled buildings done in his most unique design.  It’s only been open for one year, with two more in the building phase.  The 4 pod building is not opened yet, so I look forward to coming back and seeing this structure completed.

It houses a local potters art, George Ohr.  Much of his work was shunned by the critics of his day.  His work was packed away and only recently has come to light.  Amid much praise for his work of course.  A special exhibit by Herman Leonard, a photographer covering the Jazz era was on display.  What an exciting  exhibit of black and white photography covering the like of Luis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra.  All with moody back lighting with wisps of smoke curling up around the artists.  Jazz music playing perfectly in the background.

There’s even a re-creation of the House built by Pleasant Reed.  The original was destroyed in 2006 by Katrina.  One of the first blacks to own property and build a house after the Civil War.  Helping to capture the history and life in Biloxi during the late 1880’s.

Nice to see ultra modern architecture next to an historically recreated building.  Reed even paid a $2 a year poll tax to enable him to vote in local elections and often did manual labor for the city to pay his property taxes.  Never giving in or giving up.

Florida, Pensacola

Santa Rosa Island

Lucky, lucky, lucky.  135 miles on down the road and I’ve arrived on Florida’s Gold coast.  Pensacola Florida.  Santa Rosa Island.  Glistening blue water over the Pensacola Bay Bridge.  Sugar white beaches that go on for miles.

I’m spending 5 days on this barrier island.  Touring Ft Pickens, walking along the beach.  Last night I walked out to the waters edge and watched an awesome sunset along with just 3 others.  A huge red ball of fire slowly sinking into the Gulf of Mexico.  I could almost hear it sizzle as it sank into the water and then with one final blurb, it was gone.  Just the sound of the surf as we all headed back to our campsites as darkness quickly envelope the night.

The next day I drove back onto the mainland to go pick up my mail from my mail forwarding service, American Home base (Good-Sam’s).  My replacement for my remote control unit came in and I couldn’t wait to program it for the camper.  My Montana has a remote control for the slide outs, stabilizers, awning and security light.

Oh and I stopped in the local Escambia County Library to get a library card.  I wanted to make sure I had it before my Kindle arrives later in Nov.  I’m looking forward to downloading E-books to the future Kindle.  And they told me I could download Audio books as well and put them on my Droid smart phone for playing while I’m in the truck driving down the highway.  How cool is that?  The gal that signed me up for the library card had also lived in Orlando.  She recalled the fun times she’d had there.  Telling me in a whisper the time she was kicked out of the Parliament House (a gay bar) for swimming nude at midnight in their swimming pool.  We laughed about the good times before Orlando became too big and outgrew itself.

More Repairs:  Then I went to take a shower the other day and darn it if the shower faucet won’t redirect the water to the shower head.  And I’m down to my last month of a one year warranty on the camper.  I’ll have to schedule repairs for later next week when I get further into Fla.  Sure hope this is the last repair for a long time.  I must admit, I’ve been a bit disappointed with the number of times I’ve had to bring the U.S. made camper in for repairs.  Guess I was spoiled by my Canadian built Titanium’s that I’ve previously owned.  Fortunately after finally getting the bad tire replaced, all the vibration issues have ceased and the camper in traveling beautifully without everything coming loose.  

 And of course now that I’m back in Florida, I have to start having more seafood.  In Pensacola, there’s an old restaurant called Halls Seafood.  It has that old 50’s look to the round booths, fish tanks and captains chairs with heavy lacquered tables.  The waitress told me to order off of the dinner menu because any dish that had an * next to it was only $8.95 for seniors.  I ordered a $16 dinner for the $8.95 price and got lots of shrimp, bay scallops, baked potato, really great hushpuppies and a salad.  What a deal.

And speaking of deals, as you may have noticed, I’ve taken advantage of staying at a number of Gov. campsites, like Army Corp reservoir campgrounds and National Parks for half price.  That senior discount card is really coming in handy.  I was able to keep my monthly camping fees down to an average of $13.73 a night.  My best month ever.  And of course I also used my Passport America half price club membership quite a bit this month as well.  My good friend Al told me he and his wife Maria spent a high of $68 one night on a recent camping trip.  Yikes, I think I would have had a cow if I’d paid that much.

I’m already missing all my Desert Trails Friends in Arizona, but Florida has called me once again to spend my winter here.  With the warmest regards, wishing you many happy travels.

and you know, more photo's on my PICASA site.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

2011-32 Missouri to Mississippi


Arkabutla Lake Resevoir
Union city



Mount Olive

Campground:  Union City Rv Park.  Passport America Rate: $15, Regularly $20 so they are not giving the expected half/off rate.  It is a simple new campground, clean white gravel sites  with  darker gravel to indicated each site clearly.  It sits behind a small shop off the main road leading into town.  Full Hookups and good free wi-fi.

Campground:  Arkabutla Lake Reservoir (Army Corp Campground).  $10, senior rate. Reg. $18-$20.  Elect/Water, paved pads, large picnic tables and grills.  Lots of shade trees.  20 over air TV stations, minimal cell phone coverage.

Campground:  Dry Creek Water Park (Mt Olive).  $9.10 Passport America rate.  Full hookups.  Beautiful open forested setting, very quiet.  25 HD over-air TV stations.  3G service available, no cell signal.  Good lake fishing.

I’ve left St Louis.  They were expecting a couple of days of lousy weather and even though I didn’t really feel all that up to moving on, I knew I’d feel better on the road.  With a slightly queasy stomach I headed out around 9:30.

The further I got from the epicenter of the dreaded “bug” the better I felt.

The flat cotton fields on the eastern boarder of Missouri were waiting to be picked, leaving the fields looking like snow covered fields on an overcast day.

Since I wasn’t in much of an exploring mood, I missed stopping in New Madrid and a visit to the earthquake museum.  It’s the epicenter of the New Madrid Fault Line.  The Mid-West has a fault line that apparently has a major earthquake about every 200-300 years.  The last ones  being in 1699 and 1811-12. The largest being in the 8.0 range.  My niece Kim said they have felt small earthquakes in St Louis, but they are not worried about it at all.

While traveling through the Madrid area I noticed that a number of the highway overpasses have been retrofitted with heavy cables connecting the horizontal concrete structures to the side walls.  Otherwise, many of the overpasses will most likely slide off their bases, blocking all traffic during the next big one.  A Missouri PBS station  had quite an interesting piece on the Madrid Fault and the locals in that area are very much aware and preparing for what a large earthquake in the area would mean.  200 “events” occur each year in this area.  Averaging 20 a month.  Imagine.  That’s a lot of earth rumblings.

Food Note:  After feeling much better this morning, I went out looking for a quick breakfast.  Found Hardees.  They have a great breakfast special, biscuits & sausage gravy, tater tots, egg and bacon for $2.99.  Wow.  And some really great coffee.  Just what I needed to get back to normal.

Tunica's Museum

I’m in Tunica which is a small rural town in Mississippi.  It’s about 30 minutes south of Memphis Tn.  Around 1990 Tunica was the first county to approve gambling along the Mississippi river.  The area went from about 26% unemployment and being a cotton growing community, to having 4% unemployment after $4 billion dollars of casino investments in the area.

As I drive into town from the my campsite at the reservoir, I pass huge combine type farm machinery on the rural roads.  Huge tires easily 10ft high and each as wide as a car.  I have to straddle the edge of the road as the machines pass, half on, half off the roadway.

The flat rich delta soil is still farmed in cotton and soybeans and the casinos huddle next to the Mississippi.   like giant colorful painted cardboard boxes made to look like castles and fanciful imaginary cities.  Most of the fields have been plowed under for the next seasons crops and butt up against the new highways and casinos.  There hasn’t been enough time to build subdivisions and huge malls or strip shopping centers as of yet.  Not sure they ever will be built.

I had planned on traveling along the river highway, which isn’t exactly along the river but close enough I guess, since the Mississippi is known to flood quite often.  But, as a good Rv-er, I changed my mind and drove down hwy 55 through the heart of Mississippi, through the state capital Jackson and even saw a big new Nissan plant on the outskirts.  Lots of thick forests along hwy 55, but almost no services off of any of the turn-offs.  It was a pretty boring drive all in all especially since I rarely drive on major highways.

I arrived at my next destination of Mount Olive, mainly to stay at a Passport America park as it is on my way as I head back to Florida.  What a fun find.  This is after a windy drive along a road just about as wide as the truck and camper.  Had to pass one truck but all went smoothly as I crept along.  I planned on staying just two days but will extend an extra day because it’s such a nice place.  Dry Creek Water Park is a pretty State owned campground with a lake for fishing and picnicking.  It’s referred to as a “water park” because it is a watershed area with a small earthen dam.  The park itself could be flooded if need be to protect land downstream.

Picked a large bag full of pinecones for a craft project later on and enjoying this simple super quiet park, the big pine trees, small lake and perfect 77 degree sunny weather.