On Mar 24, 2017 wrote:
We tried to get fuel at a really tight gas pump yesterday on approach to the North Padre Island National Seashore and ended up pinching the towed Honda against a post. Two doors and structural repair are now required, upon return to home and access to Crown Coachworks :<
Corpus Christi for today and leaving for San Antonio area, after a windy night on the North Padre Island RV sites. Not really pleasant on the gulf shoreline in spring. Wind and humidity brought the refrigerator to a halt, until morning sun dried out the circuit board. 60 degrees is not cold enough to preserve food.
Were not really quite able to make the tight turn required to escape the old design ‘Stripes’ station on North Padre Island. Almost didn’t pull in because of the RV access. Should have paid attention to instinct.
Oh well , back in San Antonio for 4 nights at KOA where we base operations during exploration to favored haunts. Texas is still doing very well in comparison to other parts of the USA. Texas actually spends their road taxes on …Roads. Except for liberal Left Progressive Austin, that spends their road taxes on ‘Saving’… everything….. but roads.. Austin is solid gridlock most mornings and evenings due to old narrow highways and bridges.
One ‘Progressive’ politician actually said on TV “It is a shame to leave over $2 Billion dollars in road taxes just sitting there, when there are so many ‘Needy’ children requiring…. programs..
My barn find $35 metal detector is still busy finding ..pennies. Lots of old pennies. People drop lots of pennies, according to the metal detector anyway..
Beautiful weather [Climate] today. Blue skies, light breeze and 80 degrees. Far nicer than Corpus Christi weather. The highway system is in constant upgrades so the GPS is lost when it comes to taking exits and entrance ramps. Traffic flows fast. Driving 80 on the freeways is common place. Any speed slower is impeding traffic.
We made a couple of wrong turns and it takes miles to reverse the errors. Nice soup/salad bars make up for the wrong turns. Tomorrow we do it again, hopefully better oriented as to the highways.
Consignment stores in San Antonio are stocked with furniture and decorative items fit for luxury living. We would require a trailer to return with some of the really nice items at very good prices. What people discard is indicative how the well to do live in Texas.
Charity shops like Assistance League are a little lower in quality and the Goodwill stores are lower than that in most cases.
Time of day to take the metal detector and let it ‘sniff’ the dirt. Surprising what it finds. Lots of metal ‘stuff’ in the dirt. Few items of it actually treasure-able.
We packed up and drove out of San Antonio towards Lockhart on Tuesday morning with no events to hinder our progress. The outlet malls attract us to find navigator’s clothing finds. Talbot’s always has great clothing of stylish nature for great prices.
While navigator was in trying on outfits, I dragged out the metal detector and swept the area like a true ‘Detectorist’, as the British program on Netflix series portrays. They are searching for Celtic and Roman treasures every Monday night. Using their metal detectors, they weave personal stories into the show.
nuggettnoggin is another You Tube metal detecting series. He is a fine young man with enthusiasm to go along with the detecting. The Hoover Boys are yet another to watch. They find some fairly fine treasures in Civil War battlefields.
I only found bits of wire, paper clips and parts from their mall landscaping equipment. Texas dirt between rainfall, is hard as rock below the first inch of topsoil. Instead of digging, I must only scratch a little patch, to find ‘whatevers’. Amazing that they can maintain grass in one inch of topsoil.
We left the highway outlet malls and headed for nearby San Marcos and a quick bite at Fazouli’s to hold until evening meeting with friends at Salt Grass Steakhouse…. after we set up camp at Lockhart State Park. We arrived in time to acquire the last full hookup on the RV ‘circle’, edging the 9 hole golf course. Our Texas state park pass is working it’s magic, with discounted entry, plus coupons applying to RV sites.
Driving back into San Marcos past their evening baseball game, was a bit time consuming, but we arrived within estimate. Nice evening meal with old friends that moved to Texas. They were our neighbors in Alb NM when we first moved into our home with kids of short stature.
They had left ALB NM some years back, to live in Palatine Illinois for several years on job assignment, returning to ALB NM for a time before moving to San Marcos Texas. They told of saving a Deer that had caught it’s back leg in their fence. Hanging with it’s head on the ground, she calmed it, while he cut the fence. It escaped with cuts and scratches. The last Deer had not been so fortunate. It had died many months before being discovered on the fence line.
The Saltgrass Steakhouse [a Landry affiliate] is positioned with a deck over the river. We look forward to dining there with them every time we are in the San Marcos area. Happy Hour steaks are great, as well as local craft Beers. Friend had a Silver Star and I had a ‘Hoppy’ Red.
Driving ‘home’ back south 17 miles to our State park camp originally built by CCC Boys during the 1930’s, is pleasant across country fields with cows and horses. As fast as Texas develops, the cows and horses will soon be replaced by corridors of business.
Next day, a couple of finds at a local junk shop and then drive on into Austin for dinner with our grand daughter that is attending UT [Longhorns]. Evening meal at Applebee’s, following a few charity thrift store visits with remarkable finds, is the routine.
UT student grand daughter is getting good grades, enjoying her second year and looking forward to more, as her life evolves. Traffic in Austin while visiting, did not disappoint, as gridlock is ever present on the Austin freeways. That Austin ‘thing’ of spending road taxes on caring for the world’s needy, with expanding govt programs, is always looming. Next trip we stay off the overloaded freeways.
Left Lockhart State Park after two nights in the area and drove further east/north staying at College Station Sam’s Club parking lot overnight. Refuel and a few necessities sufficed. Quiet night in comparison to the rain storm and heavy lightening at Lockhart.. We were tilted to the left and water seeped in under the slide, wetting our bedroom carpet, causing a musty order for the last couple of days.
Seems that water problems are this trip’s events. Even the shower turned on while driving, when a squeegee fell precisely onto the faucet handle.
Tonight is still spent in East Texas [it is 1,000 miles across Texas] on border. Shreveport Louisiana, then Mississippi is next, with Natchez Mississippi, followed by Pearl, then Jackson Miss, as goal for two nights on the ‘Rez’.. reservoir on the Pearl River along the Natchez Trace. We enjoy the consignment shop nearby to the state park RV sites. Lots of ducks and geese with babies, roam the RV sites.
That is the plan and excitement always presents itself, as we make fast decisions involving turns and detours as we drive along. GPS plays some really confusing tricks. Today was about 240 miles travel, following Sam’s Club camp, which is a long day on these highways with small towns intermittent.
After an extended drive, arrived and set up in Timberlake RV campground for three nights for $69 total. A flood control dam with reservoir, this state Pearl River Mississippi campground is larger each year. At 300 sites in tall trees, it now has Wifi but very restrictive and sporadic. Could not get on every night.
Last night began raining and lightening. Continued all night with 10 inches falling in some areas that flooded. Our area got 3″ alone. We only had a small damp area from all of that water falling, with some leaking under the bedroom slide out. Holiday Rambler designed the slide out flawed, with a box-like lower section that lets water migrate along the lower edge into the inside unless we tip the coach, using the hydraulic levelers, to the right side slightly.
The bigger living area slide out is designed better, with side walls that extend below the bottom floor. No problems there. Both awnings have now pulled the roof sections loose and will require repairs when we return home. This area gets really wet storms with constant tornado warnings on the phone all night long.
Nothing we can do about it, so told navigator to just turn off the phone and sleep. If it gets us, it gets us. My metal detector is apparently a dangerous weapon. Park ranger informed me after seeing me in office carrying it, that a permit is required by the state. Obvious that it is an AK-47, fully automatic style, that can instantly render mass destruction? Went back to coach to drink beer. Govt prefers that recreation, to metal detecting?
We did find some old treasures today in consignment malls. A small organ from the 1800’s, designed for travel. An old copper watering can, a small desk chair to go with the little desk we found days ago. I wrap each item in cardboard and stow in the basements as best can.
Tomorrow we head on out for eastern states and more adventures. Fuel is below $2 on most occasions. Adding a bit of Marvel Mystery Oil to fuel keeps all running smooth in the fuel and injector system. Tightened the exhaust manifold donuts twice so far, making sure no repeat of the last fall trip.
After leaving Timberlake Campground 2pm on Tuesday, we drove the Natchez Trace for couple of hundred miles and pulled off the Trace, into a Sam’s Club at Tupelo Mississippi. Quiet night after fill up with $2.04 gallon.
Natchez Trace is 50 mph, no stops, for 444 miles. Several times we saw local police patrolling, attempting to snag scofflaws.
No Deer seen. Several Crows, one Goat and Squirrels, along with several Black Vultures.We have seen more animals on previous trips. Left Tupelo, Elvis lived in Tupelo. Sign saying…. “Just give me half of what killed Elvis, and I will be satisfied”..
Re-entered the Trace and drove couple hundred miles further to Chattanooga Tennessee.
Traffic usually heavy on approach to Chattanooga, not bad this time, as we exited into nearby Georgia and Holliday RV Park for the next 7 nights [one free]. Our base of Ops as we rummage this area for antiquey looking ‘stuff’.
The common area in front of the motor coach is now a lake from the overnight storm. I had left exposed, the piece of iron detected yesterday afternoon. It is now submerged from view. I attempted to locate the area again, without success.This campground is a flood plain with a river not far from the campground. They are always adding gravel to keep the pads and roadways above the water.
The ground, as is much of the USA with geologic attributes dating from the Mid-Cretaceous period of inland sea lasting millions of years, is a 300′ thick hard pan of CO2 sequestering limestone, covered by only inches of soil. Little to no drainage exists. Trees find a way to penetrate, survive and grow tall.Squirrels like the environment of nuts that are prolific.
One time we were told of a storm that flooded the nearby RV dealership Camping World, a mile from here. The water rose about fifty feet overnight. Hard to imagine the immense Chickamauga battleground during the civil war being bearable under these ‘climate’ conditions.
The museum on the Chickamauga National Battlefield has a brief documentary of the battle tactics by the various forces. A very large display of the countless types of weaponry used, was interesting as the variety of calibers, types and models, homemade as well as manufactured, used by forces on both sides. It was if the entire country’s humanity grabbed whatever gun, sword, knife was handy and shot and stabbed whatever they had… at each other.
Tornado watch lets schools out early along our route. We avoid tornadoes. They are way too drafty for us. We don’t even like carnival rides, let alone flying around above the ground, scanning for an acceptable, non hostile ‘LZ’ for our motor coach.
Every time we turn on this computer, the Exfinity site attempts to block the local wifi, and force us to pay for ‘their’ services at $3 for 2 hours. They are beginning to annoy us, as they forcefully phish for gullible customers..
This area is ripe for Civil War relics, original items are expensive, ‘Fake’, like today’s ‘News’, are much cheaper. I will cautiously use my ‘Weapon of Mass Detection’ as I, the Detectorist, attempt to locate something worth more than a penny hidden in the soil beneath the wet grass.. Did I mention this area gets wet?
Rain is now moved on and sunshine brightens the days. Colder at night with 35 degrees this morning. Made a run over the state line in to Georgia on Friday for a few items purchased in a large import facility near Ringold. Antiquey looking stuff to sell in Navigator’s mall space.
The big long buildings were originally built for their new chicken raising business. Their chickens all died unexpectedly and they were forced to seek a use for their buildings. The family settled on imports from China, to earn a living and pay off their debts.
Been many years since we first visited in the 1970’s and a massive new building today, from which to sell their new shipments. They deal on-line, as well as folks like us, that drop in occasionally or on a schedule. They remember us whenever we mention New Mexico.
Stopped in at Spencer’s Bar B Q shack for a boxed lap lunch, while sitting in the Honda-Jeep. No place to sit inside, , just a little shed with walk-up porch and a drive around. Big smoking device is out back behind the fence. So lean and tender, that no problem eating it off the plate with fork. Navigator saves half for her dinner. Hog or Beef with Chicken if desired. Several sides of country style choices.
Returned to camp ground near Chattanooga and worked for an hour stuffing the antique look alikes in the various basement nooks and crannies of the coach for the ride home.
Metal detected a few items before dark. Nothing of value is near the surface. The re-graveling and filling, to raise sites of the campground above water, buries all goodies at least 4″ below the surface. Digging is messy business in this area, I avoid items indicated by meter as deeper than one or two inches. I am fairly positive that every inch of ground across this Civil War battle campground has been ‘detected’ and dug for treasures..
New Cabela’s is near the Costco, a few miles away. New Bass Pro Shop is now open nearby our campground. Love all of the beautiful animal mounts displayed high above the main entrance. Skillfully positioned on rocky outcroppings and forests affixed to the beams and walls, it causes you to stop and just observe in wonder for long minutes. Camera images are nice but can not do justice to the artistic, live action manner in which these hundreds of beautifully mounted animals are displayed. Every direction you look, there is another surprise. One big bear is set for ‘petting’ and photo ops.
Wed, Apr 12,
Subject: Leaving Chattanooga
Left Chattanooga, after 230 miles we stopped in at Walmart camp for the night. Slide out was not moving easily as it hit the chair that I failed to slide forward before performing the task that navigator accomplishes most of the time with few errors. A loud crack and the 10′ slide out room went suddenly at an angle and jammed.
I had forced the motor driven pinion gear shaft to shear off a 1/4″ machine bolt. Crawled under, checked out the problem and went into Walmart for another bolt. Installed the standard bolt and on first test it sheared off.
Walked a few blocks to Lowe’s and a helpful employee suggested a ‘grade eight’ machine bolt for the moving parts. So far so good. Navigator played with the motor control switch while I observed from underneath, got the slide to even out, installed new bolt and in morning, it came back in. After a night among a dozen idling diesel trucks parked on all sides, morning finding treasures nearby in Goodwill, we left westward on trek toward NM home.
Morning dove on another 250 miles to Little Rock Arkansas Sam’s Club, for fuel fill and camp. Nice quiet parking lot as Sam’s closes at 8 ish. WiFi seems to work… so far. Fully armed and uniformed police guards, huge police officers, at both Sam’s and Walmart here in Mississippi.
Left Little Rock and drove close to 300 miles into Tyler and a ‘camp’ in Walmart for hopefully a quiet evening. Restocked a few items in Walmart. Sam’s Club ‘camp’ was very quiet last night. This eastern part of Texas, we passed through today, is very green and also prosperous. Lot of new highway construction, two lanes becoming divided four lanes and new bridges, which results in more business corridors.
Dallas is a little too big for us, as we skirt around the city density on our way toward NM. The Oklahoma highway sector to the north, a route we drove a couple of years ago, was not smooth, so we are trying another route further south. There is a visiting cat outside on the grassy hillside near our Walmart parking camp site. Almost like home, with a visiting cat…. like our neighbor’s.
Tyler Texas Walmart camp, a great store, well managed, I left compliments with management, was abandoned this morning a bit later than we intended. Miles today are less than 300 as we traversed the state, bypassing Dallas. The new, amazingly complex highway widening project between Dallas and Austin is underway for approximately 30 miles with major changes, large overpasses and multiple entrance-exit ramps.
Traffic is heavy on the temporary, lane changing, unlevel frontage roads, converted to main highways at speeds of 70 mph in congestion. Not good conditions for the rig, mixed in with impatient drivers taking my braking distance from me endlessly.
A JR Hunt truck finally provided us with a rolling barrier of sorts, that kept all but the most foolish drivers out of my braking space. Texas is fast growing and thinking ahead of the growth. The land, that of which was grazing cattle on previous trips, is now developing home sites with exotic names and big gated entrance ways. Something about Texans and their big gates
Plan was to overnight at Buchanon RV campground as Ink’s Lake is always filled on weekends. Drove on to Buchanon to find out they are filled as well as Ink’s Lake. The water is to the top of the spillway this year following many years of drought, which is the common cycle. Add Easter to the equation and it was not a good plan.
As such the campgrounds are very busy and reservations required. We back tracked as navigator searched for a Walmart to camp. Marble Falls was backtracking a lot. Lampassas was far better and along our route toward NM. Nice Walmart camp it is, complete with WIFI as a perk. Good movies are westerns on local TV in Texas. A fuel station is handy on our exit in morning. What more is there to ask? Happy Easter..
Drove on through several smaller towns on the way to La Mesa Texas, where we years ago discovered a free city park camp with hookups and a dump site. Arrived after a full day of over 300 miles with no hindrance in our progress. Lots of Longhorn cattle across Texas. Seems to be more than ever, of the interesting cattle than years past.
Raising them would be daunting, as they have the tendency to use those huge weapons by just tossing their head. In spite of the developing areas of Texas closer to the major cities, there is the small town syndrome of abandonment, for the remote little towns and villages of the past.
With little reason for their existence in this day of fast, reliable cars available to the majority of people, the farms that are mechanized and requiring little in laborers, the larger super markets in cities and everyone having freezers to store food, the little towns that at one time were spaced along rail lines and stations, are gradually melting back into the ground from which they arose.
The concept for their first existence was the rail way and steam engines requiring coal and water every 40 miles. Servicing the needs of the ranchers and laborers kept them in business from their beginnings long ago. Diesel engines and far fewer crew required, ended, drastically reduced the crew change necessity for the railroads.
Vaughn NM, up until the later 1960’s still had several motels and train crew servicing. I had Vaughn on my service circuit for cash registers. Lots of machines and businesses back then. Almost all gone today. Not even a local police officer today. Last one was only allowed to carry a pellet pistol, as he was a young felon.
Vaughn was the last place two couples traveling together, were ever seen on their adventure from Illinois, on to see the new dam across the Colorado River back in the 1930’s.
After dining in a cafe, they were never seen again. Their car, a Nash sedan, was discovered in El Paso Texas, and the prime suspect, who had just been released from a Texas prison before the suspected abduction, was killed later in a shootout with a Sheriff in Oklahoma. His dying words were suspiciously relevant to a grave site.
Strange dream of the sister of one of the women, was that she had been killed and buried under a concrete slab in a new home, where no one would ever find her. The dream was reported ‘before’ the couple was reported missing.
Some of these little old towns far from major cities, seem able to remain alive somewhat, with a Dollar General and a Dairy Queen as their anchors, they seem to hang on with a barely funded urgency visible. A syndrome repeatedly noted across the USA as we travel.
We have noticed a drastic failing in these past eight years, from a noticeably better time when we began touring following full retirement. Expendable income is far less and the effect hits tourist minded drivers and their families quicker, than in cities and suburbs that support each other in spending frenzy.
Easter Sunday in the La Mesa city park was exciting for countless children and their families, as they held Easter egg hunts and all sorts of games, including Pinata whacking. We watched the large families from our excellent observation site ….with AC operating in the warm sun.
As the families packed up and left their picnic areas for the day, I passed over a few areas with the metal detector and found one shallow buried penny… and lots of other metal ‘stuff’.
Monday morning was another beautiful day. A man arrived with a metal detector and found a coin under the kids monkey bars. He delivers tractor-truck parts and stops along the highways to search a bit in active areas. I was not so fortunate and only found one crushed can under 1″ of soil, before leaving the other buried items to some other ‘detectorist’ :>)
We packed up for a long run of almost 400 miles to Alb NM home. Fuel at Roswell Sam’s Club was needed, as we only had 10 gallons remaining. We drove through some long highway stretches from Texas into NM. Roswell to Alb, is no mecca of mass humanity itself.
Over one hundred miles of nothing, commonly greats you for long periods, as we cross range land supporting Antelope, Cows and Hawks. Roswell is 3,500′ in altitude. We noted Texas western border was over 4,000′ altitude on the high plains.
The rim-rock drop-off into Roswell lets us down rapidly to the 3,500′ altitude of the NM Pecos River. Driving north out of Roswell, toward the I-40, climbs to over 7,000′, with lots of lower gears and low fuel economy. Slower going than driving from Alb to Roswell….downhill.
Arrived in Alb about 3 hours after leaving Roswell. Plan to unload the coach tomorrow. Too fatigued for all of the carrying of ‘stuff’, after a 400 mile day on the highway. All in all, a very fine trip indeed.
Plan is to take shorter trips in future as this Holiday Rambler has in excess of 100,000 miles and after 13 years, a bit long in the tooth. It still runs fine and is reliable beyond expectations, but risk at our age is not taken lightly. Still plan on shorter trips of course. We are not quite dead yet 🙂