A fulltimers journal - April 2008
APRIL 2008

NATCHEZ TRACE, MS

 `Camelot Sunrise

 

HAPPY TRAILS TO ALL and if you're out there on the roads BE SAFE.

4/1/08 - Joplin, Mo Joplin, Mo

Nothing fancy, but the Joplin, KOA was not bad. There was room to run at least so I got a couple runs in while we were there.

Spent the week working with a customer so was real busy this week. We called the service center that Spartan had given us, but turns out they don't actually do the work and they referred us to another service place that was about 45 miles away. We were too busy to try and make a 45 mile trip and still work during the day, so we put off the service call till the next destination. Interestingly enough, the problem has not recurred so far.

We'll be leaving for Vegas on Saturday morning and we're planning on running hard. Sheila wants to be there by Tuesday at the latest so I'm going to try and run 500 to 600 mile days and see if we can get there Monday. We're going to run up over the dam - we've been doing that the past couple of years and it's interesting (as in alarming) to see the water level in the lake steadily drop.

4/5/08 Tucumcari, Nm

Tucumcari, Nm

This shot was early in the morning as the sun was coming up. We made good time and discovered that we never want to take the I40 through Oklahoma City again. We'll look for a small road around Okie City next time. Extrememly bad road. We came down the I44, bit spendy, there were 2 $14.50 tolls, but when you're in a hurry you need to go the most direct route. Other than Okie City the rest of the drive wasn't too bad. Off and on good roads and bad.

A new problem has cropped up to replace the ABS/Jake problem which hasn't returned. The ammeter has dropped all the way to 0 and the red light for it kicks on for a second and then it goes back to working. Obviously a circuit breaker is kicking on/off but I'm not sure what it controls. Maybe the fan? I'll have to check and see if it's an electric fan.

Goal is to do another big day tomorrow and then have an easy drive into Las Vegas on Monday.

4/6/08 Selignam, Az

Selignam, Az

Another good day for miles, 575 again put us in Selignam, Az with about 175 miles to go tomorrow. It'll be a slower drive tomorrow. Been running 75 and have been surprised to see that the MPG has been staying in the 6.5 to 7.5 range, when we're not climbing. Today was a log of up and down. Not any real major climbs or desents but a lot of little hills.

Another sunrise shot this morning. The clouds over the top of the coach were really pretty. We stayed at the Selignam KOA and it's right near the train tracks. Didn't really hear them during the night, but then we're both pretty sound sleepers. Before we turned in and in the morning we could sure hear them going by. I wouldn't recommend this as a stop if you're a light sleeper.

It'll be an easy day tomorrow and we're anxious to see if the lake has gone down further. The drive over the dam will be a little more challenging this year withthe bigger coach but I doubt we'll have any trouble.

4/7/08 Las Vegas, Nv.

Las Vegas, Nv

 

 

As expected the lake is down a little more than it was last year. We're planning to go for a ride over there on Saturday to see it up close. It's been awhile since we've had the time and weather for a ride - we're both getting a little ancy to get a little wind in our faces. Unfortunately it's a helmet state, but we'll wear our light (bicycle) helmets. They're a lot more comfortable than the big ones.

The inspection was no big deal as usual. Opened up a couple of the basement compartments and he took a walk up and down the aisle. The run over the dam is fun, it's a real tight windy road, but there's room and you just have to take it slow. It's a 15mph speed limit anyway. There's one turn where the road turns to go over the dam that's a 90 degree sharp corner but a big truck (dirt hauler from the construction) was coming the other way and she stopped back a bit to give me room to swing out wide around the corner.  We'll be here a week and then head to Red Bay for service.

                                                                                                                             4/12/08 - Red Rock Canyon - Las Vegas, Nv

4/14/08, Holbrook, Az

Holbrook, Az

The Holbrook Petrified Forest KOA, took this shot as the sun  was coming up in the morning. It's a nice campground, but the spaces are a little short so we ended sticking out into the aisle. They put us on the end though so it didn't really matter too much :))

The drive from Vegas as unentful. We took the alternate route this time instead of going over the dam and it's very hilly. Some very big climbs and decents and it's about 25 miles further. From there it was just back across I40 again.

Tomorrow we get back off the big road and we're looking forward to running the back roads and seeing some more of the sights. We are really enjoying the roads less traveled and seeing more of rural America.

4/15/08, Roswell, Nm

Lunch Break, Nm

This is a shot along the way. We stopped for lunch in one of the many pull outs that New Mexico has along the US60 and this is a shot with the mountains off in the distance.

We spent the night in Roswell - we looked around a little but didn't see any aliens or strange lights in the night :)) Debated on staying over, but decided that we should keep going for now. The Town & Country RV Park was a nice one, so it's on our list for places we want to spend a few days at.

I've decided to start rating the roads as we go along - so this drive, Holbrook to Roswell, US 60 & US 380 road gets a 6, scenic gets a 7. The standard is I40 through Oklahoma City, Ok. That's a 1, a 0 is impassable. A 10 would be smooth as glass with little traffic.

We'll rate them all from here on out.

 

4/16/08 Fort Richardson State Historic Park, Jacksboro, Tx

Fort Richarson State Park

US380 all the way today and the road ranged from a 10 to a 6, so it was a pretty good drive. Scenic was a 7. It's a lot of high plains but it was interesting seeing the changes in the land as we moved east.

The picture is the sunset out my office window. This is a great state park, large sites, not all packed together and this time of year there were only a couple other people in the park. We really liked it when we pulled in and thought we might spend an extra day here, but the forcast is for high winds and severe thunderstorms with large hail possible this afternoon, so we're going to move on and just put it on the list for another day.

Looks like a great place to kick back for a week and get some back road riding in.

4/17/08 Crossett, Ar - boondocked at a Walmart

wINDMILLS

Today was US380 across Tx to the I30 and then up the I30 to the US82 in Texarkana, Ar and then the 82 across to Crossett. I'd rate this whole drive around a 6 or 7 - nothing spectacular but nothing particularly bad either.

Unless the WalMart turns out to offer a particularly interesting view, I'm going to skip pictures of the WalMart parking lot and just use fillers in their place. I think everyone knows what a WalMart parking lot looks like :)

This is a shot of a windmill along the way in Texas. I took a lot of shots of various windmills but only a couple of them are worth looking at. It's hard to get a good shot of a windmill as you pass by at 60mph.

 

4/18/08 Red Bay, Al

Allegro Campground

US82 across Ar and Ms to the Natchez Trace and then up the trace to US78 across to AL23 which takes us up to Red Bay. The 82 is about a 6 in Ar. and a 8 in MS where it turns into 4 lane. The Natchez Trace is a little stroll through paradise and I'd rate it a 9 with the occassional 7 where it get's a little bumpy. US78 is a nice 4 lane and for the short stretch we were on it get's a 8.

The shot at the top of the page is from this drive. Driving the trace is like a stroll in the park. It's a really peaceful drive and there are lots of pullouts and historic markers along the way. Maybe we'll stop at a few of them on the way back down to Texas.

The campground was full and we thought we were going to have to spend the night on the runway (the dry camping area behind the campground) but they found us a spot in the Water/Electric area for the night. There's usually a lot of people heading out on Saturday so hopefully we'll get a full hookup tomorrow.

4/20/08 - Red Bay Ride

4/29/08 Natchez Trace in Mississippi

Original Natchez Trace

We finally got out of Red Bay and back on the road. Down the Natchez Trace to the US82 and then back across to US165 which we took down to I20. Stopped for the night there - see next picture. The US165 runs through the middle of a couple of large towns, but otherwise was a nice drive. I'd rate the ride a 7 for the day.

This shot is of the original Natchez Trace. The sign that accompanies this short piece of the original trace reminds us "as you look down the sunken trench note the large trees growing on the edge of the 10 foot wide strip we clear today. These trees are mute testimony to the endless struggle between man to alter and change, and nature to reclaim, restore and heal."

Imagine trying to keep this 500 mile long road clear without any of the modern tools to aid you - in the early 1800's it was an axe a saw and a mule. It must have been a monumental task to say the least.

4/29/08 - Pavillion RV Park, Monroe, La

Pavillion RV Park, Monroe, La

So were we are out of Red Bay and away from the long line of Tiffin Allegros and Phaetons and we pull into Pavillion RV Park in Monroe, La for the night only to discover that 2 sites down there's a Phaeton. Oh well, just can't get away from them I guess. So I go setup, sit down for dinner and when I look out again the space between us and the Phaeton now has another Phaeton in it. Now that's a strange co-incidence :))

We've stayed here before. It's nothing to write home about and a little spendy for the amenities (just my opinion) but it's a full hook-up and not hard to get in and out of. The driveway is a little tricky - it's just past the truck stop and real easy to miss if you're not watching real hard for it.

We're on our way down to Wimberley, Tx. Going to get in some work, a couple business meetings, so programming for a customer and a little R&R. Weather sounds like it'll be pleasant down there this time of year. We've been there before, but later in the year and it's a little too warm for Sheila then.

4/30/08 Rockdale RV Park, Rockdale, Tx

Rockdale, Tx Sunset

I20 to Shreveport. La (it's better than it used to be but still has a lot of rough spots) and then US79 across Tx to Rockport. LA I'd give a 5, Tx a 7.

An uneventful day. Spent much of the later part of the day looking for a place to get fuel, but every place I came to with a decent price didn't really have the room to get us in. The few that did I couldn't tell till it was too late to turn into them that they had enough room for me to get in and out of the pumps.

Nice park in Rockdale, and a beautiful sunset out my office window. TisIt is a little dim in the picture but the sky makes up for it (and we've all seen TisIt a time or two :))

Just a short drive on to Wimberly tomorrow and then we'll stay put for a week or two. All in all April was a good month.

 

MAY 2008