Monday, April 16, 2012

What a Busy Time!!!

After arriving home on Good Friday of Easter weekend we found ourselves to be in a whirlwind. The yard had to be mowed, the house needed a little tiding up and we were expecting Todd, Beth, Parker and Gabby for dinner on Sunday. As with plans sometimes there needs to be an adjustment. Todd and Beth had had Beth's parents and brother at their house for a couple of days and found that they were behind in somethings that they had to get done so they did not come up on Sunday as planned. So after attending church services Sunday morning we went out to dinner at the Dobbin House in Gettysburg.
Monday Todd called and arranged for us to go down to their house on Tuesday to pick up Maddy (12 years old) and then over to the babysitter's to get Parker(2 years old). Maddy (on Spring break from school) and Parker were going to spend a couple of days with us. Parker had never spent a night away from home before so we didn't know what we were headed for. But other than being busy entertaining and going for doctor's appointments (Tom had an eye appointment with a procedure done to his eye and I had a regular appointment with the family doc) for the next couple of days all went well. Maddy was a big help with Parker and we had an enjoyable time. On Thursday, Todd came to the house with Gabby (5months old) and Anthony (12 years old) to visit and pick up Maddy and Parker. Anthony had been in New York with Beth's parents and Todd had just met them in Pa. to get Anthony before stopping at our house. Little Gabby had really grown since we last saw her at Christmas time so we had to fuss over her like grandparents do.
Friday morning we packed up the motorhome and took off once again but just for the weekend. This was our first campout with the Traveling Americans for this year. We camped at Old Mill Stream campground in Lancaster, Pa. Seven units were in attendence. Barb and Ed Perry and Tom and I hosted. It was a nice weekend- cool on Friday and then a little rain Saturday morning and then warmer temperatures. The only downside was that I apparently caught a bug somewhere and was not feeling very well and today Monday am still not feeling well.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Arriving Home

Friday morning we awoke to bright sunshine and chilly temperatures. We continued our travels north on I-81 through the mountains of Virginia. This is a wonderful drive for the scenery although it is also a heavy truck route. Usually we see the redbud and dogwood most of the way home but with the warmer temperatures this winter in the east these flowering trees were further advanced this year. On Thursday when we got to Knoxville, Tn. we saw the first of the redbud and then a little further north we began seeing the dogwood also. Flowering trees continued all the way home. Our flowering crabapple trees and Japanese cherry tree were a real welcoming sight when we pulled into our driveway.
After being gone for sometime we worry a little about what we may find at home. Usually everything is in order but this time we found that our heat pumps and furnace was not working. So we had to call our service provider to deal with that problem. The house was a cool 55 degrees but that is the temperature we set it on in the winter. After the service call we had warmth once again. The other issue we had to deal with was the lawn needing to be mowed which will be done Saturday. The warmer weather has been effective in getting the vegetation awoken up and greening up and growing.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

A Visit in Cookeville, Tn.

Wednesday morning, April 4th, we left the banks of the Mississippi and continued heading east on I-40. Lois Howard, one of our RVing friends from our Newmar days, had tried to meet up with us this winter in Az. but we just couldn't seem to get together out there. When we knew that we would traveling through Tennessee Tom had contacted Lois and we made plans to drive to her house in Cookeville. Lois had built a beautiful home in this area designing it to accommodate her motorhome and adding electric and water hook-ups for when friends stop by. After getting the motorhome set up, we all sat out on the porch with a view of the mountains sharing a bottle of wine and conversation. Buddy and Baby, Lois' cute little Yorkies and long ago playmates of Travis', also joined us. We had planned to take Lois out for dinner but she had already started preparing a nice dinner for us which we enjoyed. It was a very nice relaxing evening catching up with one another.
This morning, Thursday, we said good by to Lois and Buddy (Baby was sleeping in)and continued traveling on I-40 until the Knoxville area where we then picked up I-81 which would take us north. The day started out with some sun but the clouds thickened as the day went on and eventually we were hitting showers of rain and the temperature dropped. We are camped at the Dixie Caverns and Campground in Salem, Va. (south of Roanoke). This is not the best maintained campground but it is convenient to I-81 and does have full hook-ups. At 7pm it is cloudy and 51 degrees and the heat is on. Tomorrow we plan to travel the last 275 miles to get us home.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Eastward to the Land of Tom Sawyer

Monday, April 2nd, we continued our eastward trip on I-30 from Caddo Mills, Texas into the state of Arkansas. Interstate driving is supposedly faster but at the same time has more traffic and not as scenic as other roads. We noticed in Texas that whenever we crossed into another county the road surface changed. Is it that counties are responsible for the maintaining of all roads? When we entered into Arkansas the road became almost like the roads in Alaska with frost heaves making the motorhome bounce up and down. When we reached Little Rock I-30 ended and we connected with I-40. East of Little Rock we were in very slow stop and go traffic due to a 10 mile stretch of road construction. Initially we had planned to stop for the night about 30 miles east of Little Rock but we then decided to continue to Memphis, about 80 miles further. We had plans to stop at Cookville, Tn. our next night to visit a friend and thought this would put us in a better position for that trip, even though it made for a longer trip on this day- 400 plus miles. Our preference is to do about 300 miles a day. We stopped for the night at Tom Sawyer's Mississippi River Park in West Memphis, Arkansas. We had been told about this park by some friends that had stayed here. What a wonderful location right along the Mississippi River where we are able to watch the river traffic.

Barges (we saw as many as 35 barges being pushed by a tug boat) pushed by towboats travel up and down this river day and night. We were told that last year this park was flooded most of the summer. Enjoying this campground and the river we decided to stay a second night here.
Today, Tuesday, we went on a shopping trip. Since we would not be getting home until Friday, hopefully, and we were planning on Todd, Beth and the 2 little kids being at our house on Sunday for Easter we needed to get to a store and do some shopping for Easter. Following the GPS we went to the closest mall in Memphis but then thought for what we wanted we would be better off going to a WalMart. So again the GPS guided us to the closest WalMart. Waiting in line to get checked out, the man ahead of us had placed bags of chicken on the conyeyor belt, some juices from the chicken leaked out onto the belt and the cashier did not bother to clean the belt. So we moved to another line. As we were waiting a man was restocking a Hershey candy display and Tom thinking he was a WalMart employee mentioned that the conveyor belt on the previous check-out line was in need of being cleaned. The man said that he was an employee of Hershey not Walmart and then asked us if we were from out of town. He told us that we were in a very bad neighborhood of high crime and that we should be careful. (GPS does not give this type of information). Tom then asked about places for good barbeque and he gave a couple recommendations. After returning our purchases to the motorhome we went out in search of barbeque. We located Rendevous in Memphis but that restaurant opens at 4:30pm for meals although we could have gotten ribs at this time so we passed. The Cozy Corner restaurant was another recommendation so following the GPS we found that restaurant. As the man at Walmart had said it was somewhat shabby looking but the food was really good. We had smoked sausage, baked beans and cole slaw. My only complaint was with the cutlery- cheap plasticware that made it very difficult to cut through the sausage. We also shared a banana pudding that this restaurant is known for and we agreed it was also very good.
The hot, dry weather has continued with our travels into Texas. In eastern Texas we began to feel the increased humidity. It was in the upper 80's yesterday when we got to this Memphis area and the humidity was felt. Today it is cloudy, had a few brief showers and the temperature is a cool 70 degrees.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Traveling Through Texas

Today, Sunday (Palm Sunday), we traveled 356 miles eastward in Texas from Lamesa to Caddo Mills just east of Dallas. We traveled on state route 180 from Lamesa to just west of Fort Worth,then after a short stint on I-20 continued to Caddo Mills on I-30. The 180 route parallels I-20 but has less traffic and more scenery. Towns along the route are 30 miles or more apart and small with few, if any, traffic lights. Several of the towns we passed through were county seats and had stately old county government buildings.

Not long after starting out we began seeing greener vegetation. We were in the hill country of Texas with mesquite trees in abundance and some areas had charred remains of forest fires. Flowers along the roadsides were just beautiful. The Texas Blue Bonnets, which I believe are the Texas state flower, were in bloom and large areas appeared as blue carpeting.

There were other flowers in purple and orange along the way. As we got further east we saw streams and rivers with water flowing not the dried beds that are in Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas. Herds of cattle were in the pastures and often cows would be standing in the small ponds or streams. One pasture had a herd of little horses. We stopped in Mineral Wells and had lunch at a Chili's before entering the metropoltan area of Fort Worth/Dallas. We wanted to be east of Dallas tonight to avoid Monday morning traffic through that 70 plus miles of Fort Worth/Dallas tomorrow. Todays traffic through that area was moderately heavy but moved well. On the eastern end we did get slowed up due to an accident. We are camped tonight at a KOA- Dallas NE/Caddo Mills KOA- quiet campground and for KOA not too costly- $33.74.

Las Cruces, N. M. and Lamesa, Tx.

Friday morning we went to the patio area of  the Lazydays campground for the breakfast buffet which was also part of our free night’s stay.  Nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage, oatmeal, fresh fruit and pastries along with juices and coffee.  We then left Tucson and headed homeward.  Our 274 mile trip took us from Tucson to Las Cruces, New Mexico on I-10.   Crossing into New Mexico we lost an hour of time as we crossed from Arizona time ( Arizona does not change to daylight savings time so even though it is a mountain time state at this time it’s time corresponds to Pacific daylight savings time) to Mountain daylight savings.  We stopped in Las Cruces because Tom was interested in the town of Hatch, N.M. which is about 40 miles north of Las Cruces.  After getting situated in Coachlight RV and Motel park we hopped into the Jeep and drove to Hatch.  Hatch is well known for chiles.  We saw several little stores that appeared to be an extension of a home that had red chilis hanging outside.  We did stop at one store and purchased some red and green chili powder.   The town was small and had little else- Tom was hoping to find a nice restaurant that had dishes with red and green chili but that wasn’t to be.  So we returned to Las Cruces where we found a Mexican restaurant and had dinner- again we were a little disappointed that it was not the New Mexican style of food that we had become familiar and really liked in the Albuquerque/ Santa Fe area.  Returning to the campground we talked with our camping neighbors about their 1977 Barth motorhome and 1970 Volkswagon beetle that they were traveling in.  It is nice to see vintage campers still being used.

Today, Saturday,  we continued on our journey homeward as we traveled from Las Cruces to Lamesa, Texas.   From Las Cruces we took state route 70 to Alamogordo then route 82 to Artesia and the a jog down to route 180 at Hobbs into Texas stopping at Lamesa.  This 338 mile journey took us through many changes of environment.  The desert at Las Cruces, the white sand at Alamogordo, then up through mountains to a peak of over 9000 feet at Cloudcroft.  In the ski resort of Cloudcroft patches of snow were still on the pine treed mountainsides and streams were flowing with bank high water.  After descending down the mountain the land leveled out.  We had a bit of excitement when a deer from out of nowhere, it seemed, darted across the road directly in front of us.  Tom’s quick reflexes saved the deer and our motorhome  As we drove on toward Artesia fields were being prepared for planting, cotton is one of the main crops in this area.  Just east of Artesia for about 30 miles, we saw more oil wells than any other place that we have encountered- on both sides of the road wells were about 100 yards apart and were seen as far as you could see.  After passing through Hobbs, N.M. we were soon in Texas and Central daylight savings time, another hour lost and we began looking for someplace to get off the road for the night.  We passed through the little town of Seminole and then on to Lamesa where we spied a campground as we entered town.  La Verda R.V. Park (translation is an RV park off the beaten path)  has full hookups, looks well cared for, and is reasonably priced at $25.00 per night.  Since we had not eaten any lunch as we had hoped to find something in our travels and weren’t successful,  Tom plug the electric in so we could get the A.C. running  (it was 95 degrees outside) and we took the Jeep to a local restaurant for dinner.  After dinner we finished the setting up for the night and relaxed.   Lamesa (not LaMesa) is known as the “home of the Chicken Fried Steak”, most every restaurant in town has chicken fried steak on their menu  and the last weekend of April there is a chicken fried steak festival.