Arizona, Home Away From Home

Standin’ on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona


Going from EST to Central to Mountain surely has thrown my sleeping patterns off. For the last two mornings I have awakened at 5:15 which is 7:15 at home, pretty late for me but wow, am I tired! Jerry got up around 6:15 so I knew we’d be early leaving today for our last leg of travel before our Arizona touring began. Had I not gotten a phone call from family who didn’t know we were in a different time zone we would have been on the road even earlier. A phone call from home before 7:00 in the morning is scary so of course I sat right down to chat for a few minutes. Everything was OK, just catching up. As it was we were on the road by 7:40 and despite the hour heavy traffic moved along nicely, certainly not the gridlock we were in yesterday! It was 34 degrees, real feel 29 with a light drizzle

Today was not a day for reading or working on the computer while traveling. It was a day to gaze at the beautiful and changing vistas before us. Although I took several pictures using my phone there was no way that the beauty and depth could be captured. Dorothy, we are not in Kansas anymore and we’re not in North Carolina anymore, 2000 plus miles from home. From New Mexico into Arizona the vistas were constantly changing. From snow-capped mountains, mile after mile of open road, horses running across the open land, a couple of cows here and there, mesquite covered hills, signs of previous snowfalls in the medians and in the distance, and what appeared to be stacked red rock turning into gray. Even the cloud colors vary from white to gray to almost red and the sky, oh the sky is indescribably beautiful with a blue that we don’t see in North Carolina. When we crossed the Continental Divide at an elevation of 7275 I was amazed at all of the surrounding beauty. Again and again I tried to capture the views with my phone but it just was not possible. Jerry remarked that if we stopped and took a picture of all of the remarkable scenery we would never reach our destination.

We began to see very different view as we neared the Arizona state line. There was little evidence of snow and the terrain began to change, more desert like, flatter, hilly instead of mountainous. We saw a couple of signs stating “Winter Weather Conditions Drive with Care” although I saw no sign of winter weather other than the cold temperature and 21 mph winds – temp was around 45 but the wind chill must have been much lower. The pale blue sky is different from the Carolina blue skies but interestingly beautiful and arresting. Looking out at the skies, the clouds overhead are heavy but breaking in the distance and then continuing into what appears to be barren land and mountains. As we drove along I was thunderstruck by the glorious sky. In fact it became difficult to view the landscape as my eyes were continually drawn upward. It was difficult to distinguish between the clouds or snow-capped mountains and again the colors were magnificent. Again, no reading today!

We arrived in Holbrook about 12:30 and quickly checked in at OK RV Park. It obviously is not tourist season as there are very few people around. In fact we were put in the middle of the campground and there was no one anywhere near us. We immediately started washing clothes and deciding what to do for the afternoon. After a quick lunch we headed out to Winslow.

Standing on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona – loved seeing the places sung about like Luckenbach in Texas. I told Jerry that I had never heard the song “Take It Easy” and he replied “oh, yes you have – you’ll recognize it” and he was right. I even knew some of the words.

Who is that fellow?
Winslow is about a 30 minute drive from Holbrook and off we went again marveling at the beautiful scenery as we drove. Our GPS took us directly to the corner and we found parking right there on the street. It was cold and extremely windy but we still ventured out. Of course our first stop was the corner where we tried to take some pictures with the selfie stick. We got one picture but it is for our eyes only! We walked across the street in to the gift store where they have anything one might want. To my amazement Jerry asked if there was anywhere he could get a haircut and they told him where the barbershop was. They added that John, the barber might or might not be there and that he was a hoot. Off we went in search of Antler Barbershop and yes, John was there busily clipping a guy’s hair. Since Jerry had to wait I decided to roam around a bit. I went back out and took pictures of the statues, the Ford pickup and the mural. I even took a picture of a couple trying to get a picture of each other. I always like it when someone offers to take a picture of the two of us (from most of our pics you’d think we were traveling alone) so I offered to take their picture. Of course they agreed and ask me how many times I did that in a day. Realizing they thought I was a local I corrected them quickly. They were from Iowa on their way to warmer weather in California. They returned the favor with a picture of me with a statue of Glen Frey, at least I guess that’s who is was.

A little windy!
I went back in the store and found a magnet and a cap but decided to wait until Jerry was there to make a purchase. I went back outside taking pictures of the street and stores but it was too cold and windy to remain outside so back to the barbershop I went. John indeed is a hoot and apparently a very conservative hoot at that. The barbershop wall is filled with antlers (mostly from Wyoming), deer heads and various other animals. He began to talk about folks wanting to end elk hunting in Arizona and the effects that would have on the other wildlife and then he continued to other pretty controversial topics. Since he had a poster up about guns Jerry asked him about the gun laws in Arizona at which time he pulled back his white jacket and showed him the gun on his hip! Guess they have open carry in Arizona. He told us some things about the area. As always it’s good to talk with a local and get the real scoop on the area.

After the haircut we went back to the corner, took some pictures and then returned to the gift shop. I got my cap and magnet and Jerry got a long sleeve shirt.

Before leaving North Carolina we had ordered a bike cover from Walmart as we really hate to cart our bikes 5,000 miles exposed to all kinds of weather. Well, it lasted maybe 92 miles before it began to tear and by the time we got half away on our trip it was worthless. Fortunately we had the box in the car (good thinking Jerry) and since I had ordered it it was on my credit card and I had the verification emails. We had no idea what Walmart would do but we went in anyway. Kudos to Walmart. They were shocked at the condition of the cover and since we had all of the necessary information they immediately credited my card.

On the ride back to the campground I continued to be amazed at the skies and because of the open lands I had an almost 180 degree clear view. There were very dark clouds off to the left where it looked like someone was getting bad weather, sunshine on my right with the beautiful blue sky interspersed with white, off white and pink clouds intertwined in the lovely blue skies. I didn’t even attempt to take pictures as I knew they couldn’t begin to show the beauty. Suffice it say everyone should see this spectre once.

We returned to the coach and quickly got a load of clothes going. Because of the cold the camp office was going to turn off the water between 6:30 and 7:00 so we wanted to get the washing done before then. Jerry got to work on a batch of sausage balls and I began to update the blog.

Off to bed a little after 9:30 and hoping for a good night’s sleep tonight!

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Home Away From Home, New Mexico

Making Miles

Wow, I thought it was going to be warmer when we woke up in Elk City, Oklahoma this morning and it was warmer but that’s relative! It was 33 degrees with a real feel of 26 and 15 mph wind. I hustled out to get the car set for towing without a coat so really felt the chill. 8:30 seems to be our usual time of departure no matter how we prepare the night before. This morning Jerry tried to replace a fuse and that took a bit of time making us run a little later.

I spent the morning ride taking care of some business for both Mom and us and then trying to determine where we could spend the night. Harvest Host has several places in New Mexico but they were either not opened during January or they didn’t meet Jerry’s mile requirements. Rest areas in Texas are also difficult to find! Although listed on the GPS some are non-existent. We finally stopped at the Welcome to New Mexico Center just to go in and ask about staying at rest stops along the way. We specifically asked about the rest stop in Moriarty and she checked to make sure it was opened. I asked about the safety and she said to lock up everything we had and not trust anyone. What an endorsement. I knew Jerry was getting tired so we headed to Rattlesnake Draw Rest Stop – yes Rattlesnake Draw – that creates a warm and fuzzy moment doesn’t it? As we traveled along I was still searching for an alternate overnight and located a casino on our route that had full hookup and was only $11. That sounded good to me but it was too far to drive. We finally pulled in Rattlesnake Draw and oh, my gosh. There was no center, just some picnic areas and several truckers. The entire place looked a bit sketchy. Jerry looked at me and I told him I trusted his judgement. He pulled out!

The search renewed I went to RV Park Reviews website and found a Passport campground in Bernalillo which was not too far away. It wasn’t on our route but seemed to be the best alternative. They had a pull through site, full hookup and honored Passport at $15 a night! Traffic was heavy in Albuquerque but moving until we got to Bernalillo and what a traffic jam. Traffic congestion was quite heavy with some road construction so it probably took us 40 minutes to go 1 ½ miles. We missed the entrance so had to go up, turn around and get back into the traffic. Fortunately that was accomplished fairly easily.

Check in at Coronado RV Park, a city owned park was quickly accomplished and set up was done. As always the jacks showed an excess slope so I had to manually adjust the jacks with Jerry telling me which one to lower or raise. That is always a bit challenging but we got it done. Each site had a picnic shelter and indoor outdoor carpet which would make a great place for grilling.

I wish I could say that after setup we walked around and enjoyed the beautiful vista but we both collapsed. Jerry had a snack and I had a cup of hot tea. For the first time since we left home we had fairly decent WiFi so we both checked e-mail and caught up on the news.

Probably one of the best things I did before leaving home was get the ingredients for stew beef in the crockpot. We had it last night for the third time and finally finished it off. It was really good and a great idea for traveling but I don’t think I want any more anytime soon.

Because we had to unhook the water last night due to freezing temps we both took showers and then after watching NCIS I hit the bed and was asleep quickly. Unfortunately I didn’t stay that way. It was a long night!

We forgot to lessen the air on our sleep number bed so when we stopped for the night the bed was 100% on both sides at 5000 plus feet in altitude. Our home town is at 43 feet above sea level so quite a difference. Jerry got it down to 85 on both sides which is where we like it and we’ll lower it still in the morning.

The highlight of the day was seeing all of the beautiful landscapes as we traveled I40. Traveling through Texas we saw many wind mills. Boy, they are huge and you don’t realize it until you get up close to them. I took some pictures but the majesty and immensity, the enormity just can’t be captured. We also got to see the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque which are so very different than our North Carolina mountains. Even in the winter the Smokey Mountains are still vibrant with life while the Sandia Mountains appear to be just brown. The sky here is a different color of blue though, indescribable but just different from NC. With the pale blue sky the Sandia Mountains were a beautiful sight. Wish we had had more time to explore but I guess there’s always next year.

Home Away From Home, Oklahoma

Elk City, Oklahoma

I had hoped to leave by 8:00 but it was almost 8:30 before we pulled out. It was a gray overcast day perfect for traveling if the forecasted fog didn’t roll in. I was almost afraid to get out of bed because I knew it was going to be painful but surprisingly I was not that sore. Now, yes I could feel some sore muscles but all in all it wasn’t that bad. Jerry says we are getting in shape for Utah hikes!

There is so much to see at Petit Jean State Park and I was sorry that we didn’t get a chance to see it all. It is Arkansas’s first state park and includes 2, 658 acres of natural beauty. It was named after a young French girl who concealed her identity in order to travel to America to follow her fiancée. Just as they were preparing for the journey to return to France she got very ill and died before they could leave. Only then did they discover that she was a girl and then she revealed herself to her fiancée. Years later what they thought was her grave was discovered and it is now marked at Stout’s Point.

Although the day started off cloudy the sun soon came out and it was a nice straight drive. Even Oklahoma City wasn’t that busy although part of the highway was a little rough. Suddenly my GPS showed a warning of an 8 foot clearance ahead. Oh my, that gave me a fright. Neither Jerry nor I could figure out how there would be an 8 foot clearance on Interstate 40. There were big semis in front so we continued on. Don’t know where the GPS was planning on us going but we never had a problem.

At 2:00 we stopped at a Flying J to get some gas, some propane and to eat lunch. Unfortunately they were out of propane and the gas pump would not take Jerry’s card. He had to go inside, put $100 on his card, go out and pump the gas, go back in and put $50 on his card and then get a refund of $22. What a pain. Afterward we pulled over to the side and had sandwiches for lunch.

As soon as we were on the road I began to look for someplace that had bulk propane. Using my Allstays app I found a dealer in Weatherford, Oklahoma that was just off of I40. In fact we passed by it on the way to the exit. It only took a few minutes and $43 to get a full tank. Relief! We won’t be using it for the next few nights but will have it when we need it.

Back on the road and headed to Elk City Lake Park Campground where they offer free RV sites with electricity. They also offered water hookup but the water is turned off for the winter. It’s a first come, first serve park but when I called I was told that there was only one other site in use at that time. When we finally found the park – if I had read the directions on the website instead of trying to use the GPS we would have gotten to the park a lot sooner – we were quickly set up by 5:30 just in time for a quick walk around the lake before dark. It is a lovely place with a 9 hole golf course and an amphitheater. The Route 66 Museum is located in Elk City but we arrived too late to visit there.

Our view for the evening
It was nice to be in a park with electricity and being able to use the heat pump. Heat pumps only work if the temperature is above approximately 42 degrees and we haven’t had a night – or a day for that matter – when the temperature was above that until today. I feel like we’ve had a heat wave.

I input the information for Holbrook, Arizona in the GPS and found that we’re a little over 650 miles away. Too much for one day so we’ll see where we’ll spend tomorrow night. That may be difficult as the good stopping place would probably be Albuquerque and I don’t think the Walmarts there are RV friendly. Jerry and I discussed where we would stay in Holbrook and settled on OK RV Park. I’ll call tomorrow to see if they have any available sites.

Arkansas, Home Away From Home

Seven Hollows Trail

Knowing that the hike on Seven Hollows Trail was 4 ½ miles and took approximately 4 hours to complete and aware that the forecast called for afternoon rain we were at the trailhead by 9:20. We decided against our heavy coats and layered up – that was a wise decision. Seven Hollows is a loop trail, a long, long loop trail. I am not sure what we were expecting but there were really no spectacular sights and although the trail is marked moderate there were some places that were pretty strenuous. The description we read included unique features such as natural stone arch, rock shelters, a boy canyon and signs of prehistoric bluff-dwellings leading us to expect more than a walk in the woods.

While hiking Cedar Falls yesterday I developed the beginnings of a blister on my heel so rather than wear my hiking boots I wore my Uggs today. They are so warm and look pretty cute with my fleece lined leggings but they are a little wide for hiking in narrow places plus because mine are several years old the bottoms may be a little slick although they don’t appear to be. About 15 minutes after we got started I stepped on a slick rock on a slightly descending slant. I now know what a face plant is and yes, gravity sends one forward. Ouch! A little stunned I took a quick inventory making sure that nothing was broken and no teeth were knocked out. Fortunately I didn’t hit my head, just my right cheek bone but it didn’t even bruise and I was never sore from the fall. What a blessing!

For the first two miles we walked along at a slow but careful speed. Some of the trail was a dirt path, some a rocky path (and when those little rocks roll they can send you flying) and some were big climbing rocks. Due to the time of year they were a lot of leaves on the walk and they too could be quite slick. For the first couple of miles we met several people but on the last half there was only the sound of one bird and one owl. Otherwise it was almost deathly quiet.

Underneath the natural bridge
We made it to one of the outstanding features, the natural bridge and while it was quite interesting I’m sure we would have been more impressed if we had not seen the natural bridge in Natural Bridge, Virginia.

At one point we discovered a cave big enough to walk into the entrance. Jerry walked as far as he could go and then using a flashlight looked down into it. He said it seemed to go pretty far back although the ceiling was low. He didn’t venture much further as it would have necessitated crawling and was quite possibly a bit dangerous – and who knows what was in there!

The Cave

We took a detour and went to see the Grotto which was pretty impressive. Jerry walked into it and tried out the echo but I collapsed on a rock just enjoying the view. I had put an Adkins bar in my hydration pack so we split one and had some water. That seemed to boost us for a short while. After we clambered back over the heavy big rock trail we continued on. As we began to descend Jerry said he thought the rest of the trail would be downhill – Wrong! It was a lot of up and down. The trail was not a fast heartbeat, gasping for breath trail like Cedar Falls and for the most part not strenuous but it was long. I don’t think we have ever gone on a hike that long before and we will be very cognizant of lengths in the future always measuring the length against Seven Hollows.

A pretty big icicle
They were a few icy patches along the way and some streams that we had to rock step across. We also saw lovely icicles hanging from the walls of the mountain. We had seen some evidence of icicles breaking and lying on the ground so we both tried to walk as far as possible from the walls.

I can honestly say the last two miles were an endurance test. At one point we passed the beginning of the Boy Scout trail – it was 12 miles long! I am definitely not a Boy Scout! Jerry commented that the prettiest sight he would see would be my red jeep in the parking lot and when we finally made it there he took a picture. Kudos to us for finishing the trail – well, we really didn’t have a lot of choice once we got started did we – and we did it under 4 hours, 3 hours, 45 minutes. Not bad if I do say so!

Exhausted we were heading back to the coach and dicussing going to Walmart after lunch. Instead of stopping at the RV we went straight to the store so we wouldn’t have to go out later. When we arrived in the parking lot we looked at each other with fatigue written all over our faces. We lumbered out of the car and if there was a muscle in my lower body that did not hurt I don’t know where it was. Both of us had gotten stiff in just that short ride. We did a little grocery shopping and then returned to the coach.

It had just started sprinkling when we got back so we hastened to attach the jeep to the RV and take care of the other necessary outside things for tomorrow’s early departure. Jerry filled up the fresh water tank and disconnected everything except the power. That will make leaving in the morning much easier and quicker.

We hobbled inside and collapsed on the sofa for a little while. We both took warm showers and got into comfortable clothes. In fact, I am surprised the hot water didn’t run out on me but it felt so good. I even took an aleve anticipating a lot of aches and pains. We warmed up the stew beef and butter beans plus I fixed some delicious yeast rolls. Afterward it was another quiet night and an early to bed night. I don’t think there is another camper anywhere in Loop A but I bet that’s not the case in spring and fall. What a lovely place this must be and what a lovely time we have had.

Arkansas, Home Away From Home

Cedar Falls Hike

Do we dare?
A good night’s sleep in possibly the quietest place we’ve ever stayed. I’m sure that the park is bustling in the summer but at this time of year it’s so quiet and peaceful. Wish we could stay longer but rain may be coming in tomorrow and we’ve got miles to go.

Our adventure continued this morning with no water when I woke up this morning. Surely hope this isn’t becoming routine but when the morning temp is 25 degrees it’s not surprising. 25 degrees however is a higher morning temp that we’ve had the last several days. We have a heated hose and hopefully the water is frozen at the faucet and a hair dryer will solve the problem. It is suppose to get up to 40 today, a real heat wave. As I said earlier RVing in the winter brings a new set of problems even when you’ve got electricity. As it turns out it was either the faucet or the brass fitting on the heated hose because a hair dryer solved the problem quickly. We don’t have much water pressure though but could be because all of the faucets in the campground are turned on to drip to hopefully prevent freezing.

It felt good not to have to rush, rush, rush to get on the road today and I know Jerry was happy about it. Three days of hard driving is bound to be exhausting so we took it slow this morning. Jerry had researched the hikes so he decided that Cedar Falls was the morning hike with Seven Hollows in the afternoon. Boy were we ambitious!

We drove to the Mather Lodge where the trail began and headed off for our 2 mile morning hike. At the onset there was a sign indicating that the trail was moderate to strenuous and winds down into Cedar Creek Canyon. Massive stone boulders adorn the sides and at times it was like we were in a slot canyon. Park of the trail was rock, part dirt path and part rock steps. The entire trail to the falls is downhill and I kept thinking about the return trip! Although it was a bit treacherous at times it was a fairly easy hike down but we had to watch our steps. Sometimes we get so focused on where we are stepping that we forget to look at the splendor around. Today I made a conscious effort to stop and look around. There were several places that were icy but we were able to step around them with no problem. About half way to the falls was a bridge going over a delightful stream where the edges were covered in snow and ice. The looked like a picture one would see in a magazine.

The falls were incredible, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Due to the winter conditions the water cascaded over continually growing mounds of ice. It was like a window framed with ice on each side cascading down into an ever growing mound of ice. We scampered over the rocks trying to get good pictures and then just sat on the cold rocks mesmerized by the beauty before us. As I sat there I just was amazed at the splendor of God’s creation.

Going back to the lodge didn’t seem to take as long but boy, was it strenuous. I had to stop several times to rest before trudging on to the top. When we returned to the lodge we decided to have lunch there as we had heard it was very good and it was indeed. We both had burgers and they were delicious. As we were waiting for our meal we discussed the afternoon and plans for Sunday. We looked at the Seven Hollows trail information and it indicated that the loop trail took about four hours so we realized that we didn’t have time for it today. That being decided we discussed staying an extra day and decided that it was a shame to be in such a lovely park for just one day so we extended our stay. I had been watching the weather pretty closely and kept seeing rain in the forecast for Sunday but then it changed to late afternoon rain leaving us the morning for the long hike. ]

After a delicious lunch we returned to the coach for a short rest that turned into a longer rest. Jerry took a long nap and I read and dozed. About 4:30 we decided to go in search of Petit Jean’s grave. We had looked for it earlier but apparently didn’t go far enough down to see it. This time we made it.

Stout’s Point on the Arkansas River
Boy was it cold. I had left my coat in the car but it did not take me long to return to the car to get it. The grave site was located at Stout’s Point overlooking the Arkansas River. The wind was blowing pretty hard making it impossible to stay on the overlook very long but the view was lovely. As we were hiking earlier today we met a young man who described the weather as “crisp”. I’d say so!
Petit Jean’s Grave Site

Located near the overlook are the remains of College Lodge which served as the administration facility and conference to the YMCA until it burned in the 1940’s. Above the fireplace the inverted triangle, the symbol of YMCA, still stands in the rock work.

It was too cold and windy to stay very long plus it was getting dark. We had missed the beautiful sunset by about 15 minutes. ☹ Back to the coach for dinner and another quiet night.

Arkansas, Home Away From Home

Arriving at Petit Jean State Park

Wow, what a difference electricity makes and water helps too! It felt good to wake up this morning feeling pretty sure that everything would be in good working order and it was. Last night we had heard the surge protector clicking a number of times so we turned off the hot water heater and some other unnecessary appliances and that seemed to make a difference. Jerry said that it was probably because of the heavy draw on the electricity in the park due to the extreme cold. There were probably about 20 filled sites in the park and from what I could tell we were the only travelers. Apparently the others are temporary workers at various businesses in the area. I didn’t see much of the park last night and not much more this morning but from what I could see I bet it’s very beautiful in the spring and summer. Now everything is brown and barren as is much of Tennessee.

We have seen some pretty scenes though as we’ve traveled this 800 miles. Frozen lakes, rivers and creeks, some dotted with ice, some completely covered. The flowing ice on the mountain side rocks were beautiful and reminded both of us of the stalactites we saw in Carlsbad Caverns. Of course the snow in western North Carolina was beautiful as well but also a bit frightening. Thank goodness it didn’t present a problem. Marooned for a night in a rest stop was not in our plans!

I got early this morning before the coffee pot even came on so quickly got it going and with my cup of coffee I curled up on the sofa with a nice warm blanket while the coach warmed up. Since we had taken showers last night we were able to get on the road by 7:30. Although we could have left earlier we wisely decided that traveling on the entrance road in the dark would have been pretty scary and maybe a little dangerous. The road into the campground is only 1.4 miles but I could have sworn yesterday that it was much longer. In fact I jokingly asked Jerry if we were leaving on the same road we came in on because it certainly felt shorter this morning. The exit off of Piney River Road on to Hwy 48 was a sharp turn to the right with cars coming over the hill, cars we couldn’t see until they were right there. 4 ½ miles and 17 minutes later we finally hit good old 40W. Whew. Nothing like a good straight road plus it was an almost cloudless sunny day. The cold 8 degrees had risen to 18, a heat wave!

Arkansas Welcome Center
The rest of the trip to Petit Jean State Park was blessedly uneventful, something we sorely needed after two eventful days. We stopped a couple of times for gas and also stopped at the Welcome to Arkansas Welcome Center. We got some good information and suggestions of things to see in Arkansas. Unfortunately we don’t have enough time to even scratch the surface of the beauty in that state.

As we had ridden along this morning I had noticed the flat lands, not a hill or mountain in sight and then suddenly as we neared the park I saw a steep mountain in the distance. I jokingly told Jerry that we might climb up there tomorrow and then suddenly we began the ascent to the park. The first sign we saw said “Crooked and Steep”! Wow, they were right. It was crooked and steep as well but it soon leveled off and we entered the beautiful park. The Visitor’s Center is further into the park so we got to see some of it as we rode in. Check in was quick and easy. When I called to make the reservation yesterday I learned that we were in Loop A, Site 4. Her description was full hookup, pull through and level. Can’t beat that and she was right.

Set up was fairly easy and after a few minutes rest we took a little walk around the Loop. We ventured down to the river and amazingly it was frozen. Jerry threw rocks as far as he could and they made the most distinct sound as they rolled across the ice never dropping into any water.

We came back to the coach and decided to take a short ride in the car. After we detached it from the coach we took it to another site and rinsed off some of the accumulated snow. My little car had never looked so pitiful. In fact you could hardly tell what color it was. Unfortunately the front of the coach looks the same way and we had no way to rinse it off.

We rode up to the entrance sign, took a couple of pictures and returned. After three hard days of driving Jerry was kind of tired. Bet he’ll be glad to take it easy in the morning. We read for a while, ate a dinner of vegetable soup that I had prepared at home and frozen in preparation for the trip. They is no cable or WiFi here and because of the tree coverage the Dish would not work so it was a quiet and peaceful night. Ah….

Home Away From Home, Tennessee

Ah, A Full Hookup Campground

Wow, what a way to start a cold day. Because of our early morning yesterday and our fatigue we crashed early last night and I slept quite well in the Hickory Walmart parking lot. We both woke up early and decided to quickly get on the road. I had planned to put stew beef in the crock pot to cook while we were traveling so Jerry was pealing the potatoes while I was getting all the ingredients together and suddenly – it appeared we had flipped a breaker. Nope, the house battery was down meaning we had no power. Because we were parked on the hill beside grass we were able to put the two passenger slides out last night but because we had no power we were unable to pull them in this morning. So, we started the motor home and waited while the house battery charged enough to close the slides – and waited – and waited. Knowing the heating system was drawing amps we turned that off and so there we sat in the dark, in the cold hoping that nothing underneath froze before we could get the slides in and get on the road. Wow – bad starts for two mornings. I’ve always heard that things happen in threes. Certainly hope that is not our case.

Jerry finally decided that perhaps the fuses had blown although he doubted two of them would blow at the same time. He walked over to Walmart to see if they had any and of course they did not. He called to tell me and I started searching the Internet for a nearby AutoZone. As Jerry opened the door his words were “Stupid, stupid, stupid”. Because we were trying to recharge the house battery we had the motor home started and guess what? The slides will not operate when the RV is running. That was a NEWBIE mistake but in defense I can say that we were dealing with things we had never encountered before. Temperatures in the teens with winds of 18 miles an hour, a dead house battery, little water in the holding tank – the bitter temperatures and no house battery were the icing on the cake. We immediately turned off the RV, pulled in the slides, raised the jacks (yes, we had put them down lightly to stop the sway on the hill. We were still very slanted front to back) and finally pulled out a bit after 8:30. Not the start we had planned but all was finally good. Suffice it to say that RVing in the bitter cold creates problems that we don’t usually run into the warmer months.

We decided to take advantage of our Harvest Hosts membership and stop in Portland, Tennessee at the local winery so off to Portland we headed. As we neared Asheville we began to see light snow flurries but I kept checking the weather and there was no indication of snow ahead plus there were blue skies and sun ahead. By the time we had passed Maggie Valley and headed into Hayward County the light snow flurries had turned into heavy snow flurries and the roads were becoming treacherous. In fact, only one lane, the right one was open and the left was covered in snow. As we crossed into Haywood County we stopped at the Rest Station. We talked to the attendant and he said that we could stay as long as we wanted so we just sat for a few minutes. When it appeared that the snow was letting up and the roads appeared clear we headed about again.

We stopped around 12:45 in Farragut, Tennessee just west of Knoxville at a Flying J for gas. We like the Flying J’s because they have two dedicated RV lanes for gas coaches. Wouldn’t you know they were both out of order but it was easy to pull into a regular lane. They also had propane so Jerry wanted to fill up the tank not knowing what was ahead for the evening but we couldn’t get water to add to the fresh tank because all of theirs was frozen. While having lunch we discussed where we would spend the night. Should we try a Walmart again or Harvest Hosts? We decided to try the Harvest Hosts winery since they offered electricity. I called and unfortunately someone had called yesterday and reserved the one electric site but we were welcome to come and dry camp. We decided against going there since it was a bit out of the way plus we’d be using the generator so why not Walmart. As we rode along though we realized that we really wanted a hot shower and we wanted to extend our slides so I began looking for a campground that we could get to within a reasonable amount of time. By searching the Good Sam site and confirming with RVPark Reviews I discovered Piney River Estates in Bon Aqua not far off of our route. When I called, the gentleman said they had a site and to come on. He gave me very explicit directions insisting I not follow the GPS and also instructed me to call him when we got nearby. After we arrived I knew why!

What a beautiful little campground in the middle of absolutely nowhere! We took the directed exit and drove 4 ½ miles down a two lane, curvy, hilly, sometimes narrow loopy loop road. With laughter especially after Jerry commented that we might have to drive to Florida if we needed to turn around we continued on knowing that it was not the first road we’d been on like that and most likely would not be the last. When we got to the turn off for the address I became a bit skeptical hoping that we were going the right way because the road was even more narrow and although there were scattered houses there was absolutely nowhere to turn around. I called the campground manager and he said we were about a ¼ mile away. Well, that must have been as the crow flies because trust me, it was a lot further. We continued down the narrow path hoping desperately that we weren’t on a wild goose chase and then voila – we saw campers and the gentleman was waiting for us.

In the cold – about 21 degrees, the host and Jerry got the water hooked up and we had power and water! Yea! Before he came in Jerry put more water in the fresh water tank so I think (and hope) we are good to go now.

As we were riding along the road at a little after 5:00 I commented to Jerry that it certainly was lighter here at 5 than at home. His reply was that we were further west. Well, we are further west but we realized a little later that we crossed over from EST to Central meaning it was an hour earlier. No wonder it was lighter. Then the question arose as to which time zone we wanted to keep our clocks in. Since we’ll be in central time while we are in Morrilton for the week-end I suggested we change the clocks. There’s no telling what time we’ll wake up in the morning!

After we got settled I put some butter beans on to have with our deliciously smelling stew beef. It was a new recipe so I was banking on it being as good as it smelled and it was. What a treat to have dinner already prepared after a long day of travel.

Home Away From Home, North Carolina

Our January Trip Begins

When we woke up this morning it was 9 degrees with a real feel of 4 degrees. Folks, that just does not routinely happen in Eastern North Carolina. We quickly got the last things done before leaving and went out to start the RV. Nope, it didn’t start again so Jerry put a battery charger on it for just a few moments and we were on our way to Howard’s RV in Wilmington. I was wondering if we would have to end up buying a new battery but that was a question for the techs at Howard’s.

As soon as we got to Howard’s they went right to work trying to diagnose the problem. Jerry stayed outside with them and I went inside to the warm lounge. Jerry kept popping in to give me updates. First they realized that a fuse had blown and we thought it might be a really quick and easy fix. Well, that was quickly remedied but we still had the problem of the water pump. They didn’t know if it had frozen or if it was just a valve. Dealing with a time crunch as they were closing at 12:00 due to the big snow on the way Jerry recommended putting one of our little heaters in the bin to see if the valve would thaw out or if it was really a frozen pump. Praise God, it thawed the valve and we were good to go. As the techs said, we dodged a big expensive bullet! We found out that putting the two heaters in the coach while we were plugged in at home we had actually caused the problem. Because the inside temperature was so warm the heat did not come on. Besides heating the inside when the furnace is on it is also heating the bins and the tanks preventing any freezing so in trying to be proactive we caused what could have been a rather expensive problem.

I cannot say enough nice things about the people at Howard’s. Everyone that we ran into was so gracious and willing to do whatever was necessary to get us on the road. I have always said if we bought another coach I would want a Newmar but would be hesitant to buy one due to lack of service availability in our area. How surprised were we when we found out that Howard’s was an authorized Newmar repair center and it’s only a couple of hours or less from our home. Add to that their willingness to help when there’s an immediate problem plus as we have found out in earlier encounters with them they call with updates and cost estimates. We are very fortunate to have a dealer of that caliber in our area.

About 10:45 we headed out for Morrilton, Arkansas and Petit Jean State Park with two overnight stops along the way. Travel was non eventful and as we continued along I began to look for somewhere to overnight. Unfortunately there were no Harvest Hosts sites on our route so I began to look for a Walmart. I called the Walmart in Hickory and received permission to stay there for the night. We arrived a bit before 4:00, early for us to be getting off the road but we didn’t know where the next overnight Walmart was plus we had been up and going since 5:00 am. We walked over to the store and again asked permission to stay, then did a bit of shopping. Since I had been unable to get the stew beef going in the crockpot we had no plans for dinner. There were no appetizing restaurants nearby so Jerry suggested taking out some of our chicken and making chicken salad. Sounded like a plan to me!

I had a delightful dinner of chicken salad, carrots and chips (yeah, I know I should have left off the chips) and Jerry had a couple of sandwiches with chips. After dinner we closed up everything and turned in early. We both heard some noisy cars early on but if there were any during the night I never heard them! As the saying goes, I slept like a baby!

Home, North Carolina

The Same Question Arises

As usual the question arises – are we going or not? To preface this entry let me say that the weather in eastern North Carolina has been unusually cold. In fact when I get up this morning and it is below 10 degrees it is definitely not typical weather for us. I don’t ever remember it being that cold before. In fact, the entire week since we had brought the RV home to prepare for the trip had been frigid. I was uneasy about bringing it home because of the forecasted cold temperatures but Jerry wanted to bring it so last Wednesday, December 27, we went to the warehouse and brought it home. Since we have a 50 amp hookup at our house we could plug it in and have the heat and heat pad running and not have any difficulties – or so we thought.

Jerry got a new tool for Christmas, a skill saw and was anxious to get to the river for a couple of days to try it out but wanted everything in the RV and ready before we left we spent a few days at the river. Thursday and Friday were spent going from the house to the RV taking things in. I don’t like to do it that way because by the second day I’ve forgotten what I’ve put in so this time I listed each item before I took it out. Hopefully that way I’ll have what I need. (Quite frankly, I am not sure I left anything home). By Saturday morning we felt that we were mostly prepared to leave on Wednesday, January 3 for our first extended stop, Morrilton, Arkansas. With two auxiliary heaters running in the RV Jerry felt comfortable enough to leave so off to the river we went for a couple of days. The weather continued to be bitter cold with temperatures in the teens and brisk winds. Our return home was hastened Monday morning when we woke up to frozen water pipes – no water so we dressed, closed up the house, turned off the water at the street and headed home.

On Tuesday when Jerry went to fill the fresh water tank he couldn’t get a reading on the level plus he couldn’t get the water pump to come on. Uh oh – He also realized that it appeared that the heat pad was not working. He called Howard RV in Wilmington and they thought that the water pump was frozen. They told us to have the motor home in Wilmington at 8:30 on Wednesday morning and they would see if they would resolve the problem so we could continue with our planned trip.

Well, that precipitated a new problem. Jerry had a scheduled doctor’s appointment at 9:40 on Wednesday morning. As he was calling to reschedule I said to ask if they had anything that afternoon and amazingly, they did, 3:40. That presented another problem though. Jerry had a 5:00 appointment for a badly needed haircut. Unfortunately he was unable to reschedule that so he may be taking a trip to Great Clips! If so that will be the first time in over 30 years that someone besides his regular guy has cut his hair. He is threatening to wear it in a pony tail – Not!

In the meantime while Jerry was at his doctor’s appointment I went on out to program the GPS for Wilmington only to discover that the radio/GPS would not come on. Oh yeah, the battery was DEAD. To make a long, cold story short suffice it to say we eventually got the battery charged enough to start the RV. We left it running for a while so hopefully it would start on Wednesday morning. The monitor for the holding tank was still not working though and with the fresh water tank problem we still needed to go to Wilmington Wednesday.

We finished the day by getting everything else in the RV. We both admitted we brought too much and we were not even sure we were going!

Home, North Carolina

Is Our Arizona Trip Going to Happen?

As usual the question remains – are we going or not? To preface this entry let me say that the weather in eastern North Carolina has been unusually cold. In fact when I got up this morning it was a real feel of 10 degrees. I don’t ever remember it being that cold before. In fact, the entire week since we brought the RV home to prepare for the trip has been frigid. I was uneasy about bringing it home because of the forecasted cold temperatures but Jerry wanted to bring it so last Wednesday, December 27, we went to the warehouse and brought it home. Since we have a 50 amp hookup at our house we could plug it in and have the heat and heat pad running and nothing would freeze – or so we thought.

Jerry got a new tool for Christmas, a skill saw and was anxious to get to the river for a couple of days to try it out but wanted everything in the RV ready before we left. Thursday and Friday were spent going from the house to the RV taking things in. I don’t like to do it that way because by the second day I’ve forgotten what I’ve put in so this time I listed each item before I took it out even down to the freezer food. Hopefully that way I’ll have what I need. (Quite frankly, I am not sure I left anything home). By Saturday morning we felt that we were mostly prepared to leave on Wednesday, January 3 for our first extended stop, Morrilton, Arkansas. With two auxiliary heaters running in the RV Jerry felt comfortable enough to leave so on Saturday, December 30 off to the river we went for a couple of days. The weather continued to be bitter cold with temperatures in the teens and brisk winds. Our return home was hastened Monday morning when we woke up to frozen water pipes – no water so we dressed, closed up the house, turned off the water at the street and headed home.

On Tuesday when Jerry went to fill the water he couldn’t get a reading on the level plus he couldn’t get the water pump to come on. Uh oh – He also realized that it appeared that the heat pad was not working. He called Howard RV in Wilmington and they thought that the water pump was frozen. They told us to have the motor home in Wilmington (two hours away) at 8:30 on Wednesday morning so that was the plan.

Well, that precipitated a new problem. Jerry had a scheduled doctor’s appointment at 9:40 on Wednesday morning. As he was calling to reschedule I said to ask if they had anything that afternoon and amazingly, they did, 3:40. That presented another problem though. Jerry had a 5:00 appointment for a badly needed haircut. Unfortunately he was unable to reschedule that so he may be taking a trip to Great Clips!

In the meantime while Jerry was at his doctor’s appointment I went on out to program the GPS for Wilmington only to discover that the radio/GPS would not come on. Oh yeah, the battery was DEAD. To make a long, cold story short suffice it to say we eventually got the battery charged enough to start the RV. We left it running for a while so hopefully it would start on Wednesday morning. The monitor for the holding tank was still not working though and there was the fresh water tank problem so we still needed to go to Wilmington Wednesday.

We finished the day by getting everything in the RV and we both admitted we had way too much! Ironically we didn’t even know if we’d be leaving on our trip or returning home tomorrow only to unpack!