Tuesday, April 22, 2014

RV New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia

Changed oil in the tow Honda-Jeep. Coach, did that along with all lubes last fall. Finishing the packing for a spring coach tour of the south. Leave at High Noon, drive to Roswell for 1st night camp at Sam's Walmart. 
Texas route, until we see what the weather is doing to the east. We avoid snow, ice and tornadoes.

As we travel, the weather forecast is our guide. Sometimes we are hunkered down in our bed, as we watch on the late night news, storms close by or around us.


 So far we have always taken successful evasive measures, with navigator on the computer and I driving one way or another, 100-200 miles or more, to get away from the advancing storm tracks, if they appear menacing.

Although periodically close, the storms have missed us by enough distance to be comfortable. One time, navigator wife overruled my 1st choice (I was tired) to park (camp:>) overnight in the Walmart lot, due to late arrival, instead of down in the nearby valley, where fun Tannehill Iron Works State Park is located in Alabama.


We hooked up to the power and sat in our coach after arrival. The ranger had told us to hurry, settle in and head for the shelter, while "Sireens" (sirens) were wailing loudly. We stayed in the coach and watched, as the RV'ers all congregated in the nearby park laundry building. It was 100 feet away, a crowded metal shed. It looked as vulnerable in the big trees as our coach and not nearly as comfy.

They watched us, we watched them... While we watched on the computer, as the swirling storm passed overhead and wiped the Tuscaloosa Walmart away. Good thing I didn't argue with her about the camping choice.

another note: this original blog, referring to the old northern Midwest term for going to the movies, 'Going to see DA Flikkers', began in 2006 while working on set of 'Comanche Moon', 'Lonesome Dove' prequel It has just passed the 70,000 'Hits', viewers mark http://daflikkers.blogspot.com/2014/02/knives-and-kids-back-in-day.html   Actually it is far more, due to a reset in the main counter about a year later.
One of the others, Blogengeezer. wordpress.com started much later and has military stories, is about 1/4th that, at over 18,000 in visitors. The other four are negligible in thousands, as I do not post much of change on them. They are primarily for storage of information I have researched, or family stories.

BTW 'Flikkers' are 'girls' in parts of the Netherlands, so that may explain the popularity of 'Da Flikkers'... until they see no girls :>)


After driving from Albuquerque to Roswell for one night 'camp', we stayed at Sam's Club 'camp' Roswell first night. Wind came up fast and grocery baskets rolling about 20 mph, hit the side of Honda-Jeep. big damage for Crown Coachworks to repair when we get home.

 San Angelo Spring Creek City Park, near pleasant Lake Nasworthy for the next quiet night, is one of our favorite overnight dry camps. Periodically feral animals of many types and many birds visit the area in early morning and late dusk. Morning we topped with fuel at Sam's Club.

Leaving San Angelo after a brief check of local charity thrift stores for 'treasures', for uneventful, easy day's drive, we are
now parked in Alamo KOA San Antonio on the third night of this extended trip. 

A pair of exotic 'Egyptian Geese' (along with many other animal exotics) escaped
from a nearby mansion across the creek. A big estate filed with rare critters. A valuable estate that the owner recently turned over in a deal with the city. Texans are great that way. When they can and are prosperous they share agreeably with everyone.

The tall lean brownish Geese with colorful wings, have had three babies near the KOA pond/swamp/river, where wild ducks have always lived.  They wander the RV camp on their daily excursions, babies following closely. Navigator wife took their picture.

44 deg this morning in San Antonio, sure beats the 29 deg yesterday morn in San Angelo.

Sunshiny days, mild to enjoy while rolling in our own private tour bus navigated and driven by professionals :>)

 
We are scheduled for four nights at Alamo KOA before moving .....to wherever.

 
Rode my bike on a trail before dusk. Slept like an Egyptian mummy last night. Today is 'out and about', checking a few charity thrift stores for treasures :>)

Tomorrow is scheduled for checking out the model train show in nearby New Braunfels.
We like model trains. Train shows are mostly for Duffers.
Kids are rare in train shows, except for our grand kids, who like trains.
Most kids today have no desire for anything they cannot
carry in their hand and talk to their friends 24-7 :>)

Will discuss progress again, as we find connections along the way :>)


Awoke to about 60 degrees and breezy this Sunday morn in San Antonio. Brkfst and head back to the train show to see if any last day deals. They had over 1,800 visitors at $7 a person and it wasn't over yet.

Found the last couple of small HO bargain engines and some random pieces of wooden Brio track that the young grandkids enjoy on the carpet at our home when they visit.

 Lunch, shared a plate at a small local New Braunfels Bar B Q joint, then drove around, looking for an elusive charity thrift store, before heading home to our KOA.

We boogy out tomorrow
after dumping 7 days of full holding tanks, including showers, two 30 gal holding tanks. A dubious record. I sure hope that the untested dump valves work, after the long winter storage with glycol anti freeze to prevent sticking and freeze.

 Heading south towards Corpus Christi. There are a couple of reservoir lakes north of Corpus. Last time we stayed at Choke Canyon South state RV park, White Tail Deer came around and hung out near our dinette window. They had babies with them. Awwww. :>)

The always busy, many thousands of Texas oil patch workers periodically take up a lot of the state park spaces. They must move every so often, due to time limits on camping, so they don't like state park camping, as much as long term local RV parks... fortunate for seasonal campers like ourselves.

North Padre Island National Seashore is nice to look at in spring, but not very pleasant to stay, in comparison to the wonderfully mild fall. Spring wind blows sand in your face, and into every nook and cranny. If in the mood for shore camp, we only stay one night on the outer barrier islands for the ocean shore ambiance in spring, then move back into the mild inner mainland for camping.

 The millions of fascinating little Sand crabs running sideways during the day and large Ghost Crabs after dark, running along the shoreline in the fall, are not as obvious in the cooler spring.
Navigator wife likes to shop in a few large stores in Corpus. They seem to always have great seasonal sales on nice lines of clothing in nav's size. Again, we forgot to bring our warmer coats we may need. Had them laying out, forgot them. Maybe it will not get cold?

Noticed a black couple, in a big diesel motorcoach next to ours last night. A large organization plaque on the back, 'African American RV Association'. Can you imagine the media perpetrated outrage, if we had one, 'Anglo-Saxon RV Association'?..
 

Awoke to about 60 degrees and breezy this Sunday morn. Breakfast and head back to the train show, to see if any last day deals. They had over 1,800 visitors at $7 a person and it wasn't over yet. Pass was for two days.

Found the last couple of small HO bargain engines and some random pieces of wooden Brio track that the young grandkids enjoy on the carpet at our home when they visit.

 Lunch, shared a plate at a small local New Braunfels Bar B Q joint, then drove around, looking for an elusive charity thrift store before heading home to our KOA. 


Leaving San Antonio KOA:

Left San Antonio, drove south. Stayed in Corpus Christi Lake State Park for two nights 50 miles north of CC. A wild pig, Javelina leisurely walked in front of our coach as we settled in for the night. Kind of shiny, clean and pretty, with big ruffled collar and coarse hair down his spine. Navigator's camera was not handy. Quickly searching, she became ruffled herself.

Drove Honda into C.C. for one day of shopping and seeing the goings on at the Gulf ocean at North Padre Island. Wind blowing and making pretty good sized waves around Bob Hall Pier. Their cameras sometimes function for on-line views.  Wind Chute para-sailing on surf boards is popular in the Inter Coastal Waterway. They really get 'air'...... 20 vertical feet of it. 

After leaving Corpus Christi, Walmart was our camp night at Rockport, along the coastal bend north of Corpus Christi. Noisy and lighted in the section I chose. Bad choice my fault.

Stayed for one night in Brazo Bend State Park near Houston. That is one great RV camp with large sites, hiking and biking trails, an observatory, even though nearly impossible to find highway signage directing campers. Alligators that have populated the area for millions of years, take away fish from the anglers (free fishing at Texas State Parks).

Wife got a good set of pics and video of one close alligator, as he tried to swallow his pilfered Catfish whole. Another Alligator chased him, to grab away his fish. All on her vid.
The next morning several Gators near the fishing pier, were all growling, bellowing to one another. Probably talking about 'the one that got away' :>)

Last time we were in the park, a really big Alligator was devouring a somewhat smaller Gator, as wildlife photographers from as far away as France, had flown in to document the many days long event. They eat each other, all of the time, so the population number never gets really large. Some aggressive gators get 'Really' large. Maybe humans should use that approach? If it ever starts, do not appear too Luscious:>)

They had no open sites for the busy reserved weekend, so we pulled out. Texas RV campers are avid and fill all of the State Park sites every weekend. The water and electric RV sites, everything, even primitive, are filled with tents and families camping.

Then after being turned away from Ft Sam Houston State Park in Lake Charles Louisiana, and no sign of existence of Jelly Stone RV Park listed on GPS, we just parked in an old outlet mall for the night. Tonight we finally found a real commercial RV park for couple of nights.

People next site (sites are close in real RV parks) are chain smokers, so we can't open our windows on their side. Their entire rig Stinks. It is permeated from the inside out with Cancer rot. That perpetually smoking rig will require demolition after they are finished saturating every nook and cranny of it.  It oozes the stale tobacco essence into a blurry haze of hazmat zone surrounding their site and periodically engulfing ours...........

We really love State Parks.
State Parks are our first choice, but this will have to do, as the S.P.s are all filled for the weekend.

Stuck in a traffic jam yesterday. Fifty miles and half a tank of fuel later, trying to find an alternate route, we progressed only about 25 miles, before pulling into that old nearly abandoned Vanity Fair outlet mall west of LaFayette Louisiana for that night. Fueled at a nearby casino truck stop for $3.16 today.

Traffic jam was caused by a truck loaded with orange juice, that had overturned and burned on the only I-10 bridge over Lake Charles Louisiana. The hazmats and EPA shut down the entire eastbound highway for the rest of the day, just to be sure that it was 'safe'? Louisiana has some of the worst highways. Especially the concrete squares that bounce the whole rig repeatedly for endless miles of 'Ballup-ballup-ballup'

Remember that senator (another 'for the people' Democrat) that had portions of about a million or so in govt corruption stashed in his mansion? He made the Louisiana National Guard drive him through the flood waters, in order for him to retrieve his secret suitcases of cash.

 Too bad some of his govt-personal fortunes never make it to the highway construction. Same 'mystery engineering' events over the years, happened to the levees around 'Nawlins'.

After driving about 500 miles from San Antonio across the Texas state line, another couple hundred to Slidell Louisiana, tomorrow we drive the toad into 'Nawlins' for the day. Maybe lunch at Mulates? :>)

New Orleans:
Quiet night and late breakfast after a bit of difficult computer time on park wifi. This place is thick with popups and spam that invest every aspect of time on Nav's laptop. We never saw so much evil ad-ware that attempts to block, take over and infest each episode of internet time. It even tries to block access to Norton for cleansing. What causes so much nastiness in secular humanity?

Nav spends much time de-spamming the system. Ripping out piece by piece, blocking their viral infestations with every tool she can find. Trust absolutely nothing. It all is fake and designed to look like the real websites. Even a fake Norton that flashed wildly while resisting all attempts to remove it.

We left RV park at ten AM in toad. Drove over Lake Pontchartrain I-10 bridge causeway for about ten miles, until the other side of more miles, 30 minutes to New Orleans from our old ex KOA, (now named something else). An RV campground where office is always closed. Hurricane Katrina destroyed a lot of infrastructure. Lots of things changed, not all for the better.


Everything about New Orleans is costly in comparison to other places we visit. This little RV site next to the 'smoking hulk' neighbor, was $44 each night. Lunch shared at Mulates (Moo-lots) was $42 for the 'One' shared entree and one shared bread pudding desert.

Traffic through French Quarter one way alleys, is a bumper crawl, with thousands of people walking every where, on every street/alley of the French Quarter. Our goal was the French 'Market', with it's 1/4th mile of little booths set up under a series of roofed enclosures near the railroad and trolley line terminal.

 A snack in the food section of the French Market, was $13 for a shared basket of plump (Bubba Gump:>) shrimp and crawfish, delicious Cajun style. Great taste, difficult to eat the meat, seperate from the little legs and heads, crispy exoskeletons and long antennae. Fingers end up with an orange stain that smells very tasty.

Lots of Mardi Gras paraphernalia. VooDoo stuff is popular. Lots of baby Gator heads of various sizes. Not sure they would sell, back in ABQ? Mardi Gras masks of every description. Peg bought 3 ornately feathered style, to sell in her mall space back in ABQ.

Noted the ornate porcelain styled masks she had bought at Goodwill in San Antonio for $4, were over $20 in the booths of Nawlins French Market. Bought a few unique gifts for grand kid's Christmas. Probably something they will not like, but WTH, we are always thinking of them, hoping they will one day see the real USA we are experiencing, as we travel.

One attractive young girl walked in front of us, decorated in body paint and little else. Tits were painted flowers and not sure she wore very tight hot pants.... or paint. Nav said she had on tight short shorts, I'm not so sure. Nav didn't have her camera.

We saw painted Mimes and other costumed folks wandering the streets. Normal attire for 'special' folks, or something else special? Crawfish Festival is in process, maybe the entertainers?
Bad horn players endlessly repeat, 'It Aint necessarily so'.... from Porgy and Bess. Street entertainers are common (Buskers).
The Fleur De Lei symbol is everywhere New Orleans Saints is depicted. Reminds me of Boy Scouts of America :>)

If a wrong turn is made in the French Quarter, it takes about 15 minutes to correct the error. Most times we end up back where we started, due to one way streets that are designed to endlessly circle the French Quarter through it's tight one way alleys. No Parking spaces empty, other than several blocks from where we want to visit.

 Finally found a convenient $10 lot, elevated near the trolley tracks, for two hours.... or more. Near the French Market where we want to visit. Nav's walking distance is limited, but she managed to accomplish the exploration and return to the Honda Jeep.

Canal Street and the main downtown of 'Nawlins' is radically different from the historic old French Quarter, with it's narrow one way alleys. Modern highrises of downtown, that could survive any storm, are organized in wide city street patterns and tree covered boulevards that are easy to navigate... on a Sunday.

 Mulates is near the Convention Center, not far from Harrah's Casino Hotel. Close to the big attraction of port facilities and shops near the Caribbean tour ship docks (also on the trolley line). Facility river walk shops are being rebuilt and due to open in 2014. Damaged by Katrina?

note: French Quarter is relative high ground and did not flood during the hurricane. Massive Seawalls are surrounding the vast area of little old homes (painted in wild color combinations) below sea level, near the high walled shipping canal, a short distance from the French Quarter. Several are now boutique restaurants.

French architects/engineers knew about the historic sea levels and their drastically varying nature?


After our 3:30 PM Mulates Cajun sampler experience of Gator (tastes like chicken), Shrimp, Crayfish, Tillapia, Calamari, meat rolls, stuffed toad stools (Mushrooms) and Frog legs (Cajun Music starts at 7 PM), we consult GPS wisdom for route home across Lake Pontchartrain. That is one large lake. Width is horizon to horizon. Temp tonight is 60 degrees, falling with cool breeze from the north.

Plan is for Eastward morning through Biloxi Miss, along Gulf Coast, where I spent time in USAF at Keesler AFB. We heard that the hurricane wiped the numerous old southern mansions off the seashore, leaving only the old concrete steps.

Toodles until we find another hot spot, hopefully not so internet infectious evil as 'Nawlins' :>)


Louisiana Mississippi Alabama Florida:

Leaving Louisiana's New Orleans ambiance, we motored east along the Mississippi coast, until we located the beach road near Biloxi where I spent some time as a young SSgt at Keesler AFB. 

A few of the old stone mansions are still standing, after Hurricane Ivan randomly swept away whatever it had a taste for. The state condemned the rest. As young airmen many years ago, we rode the coast highway bus off duty.... for ten cents a day, as we periodically paused, to swim in the gulf.

 Enterprising folks and corporations with a penchant for rewarding financial risk with cheaper land values, have now rebuilt massive structures on most of the vacant lots. Modern high rise condos, apts, new Mc Mansions, multi story, as well as low profile business buildings now replace the old vulnerable structures. Obviously they don't believe the false hype,'No End in Sight', that mega hurricanes are the forever danger? 

National Geographic headlines front page after Katrina, declared with Al Gore's intuitive intelligence for taxing for personal financial gain and Hollywood's movie graphics, they would always be an ever more devastating way of life now... and forever. 

Silly geese, they have been totally wrong (contrived) and now are always busily seeking new politically remedied ''tax will fix it', dangers to mankind.

We crossed from Louisiana, to Mississippi, through Alabama into Florida. Four states, all within six hours. Neither of us had ever been to Fla, so it was very interesting. Snow white beaches, aqua water shallows, close above the white sand shoreline and deeper blue further out. 

We headed for Pensacola and the barrier island of Santa Rosa. It is all  part  of the Gulf Islands National Seashore along the coast, extending from Brownsville Texas. Our Golden Age Nat Park Pass got us in and gave us 50% off camping. All after crossing the causeway and high bridge for $1 toll, past navy ships and museum naval displays. WWII aircraft carrier. Aircraft of many models, including the venerable SR-71 Blackbird sitting out in the weather sadly :.. >(.

The white glistening beaches began millions of years ago, high in the Appalachian Mountains, as Granite rock. As the millions of years and erosion by rivers distance, wore and flushed it's impurities away, only the intensely hard, pure Quartz crystals remained on the migration. Viola... white Florida Gulf Sand beaches.

Our overnight site was in 'A loop' of this National Park. We could only stay one night for $13. The loops really have a lot of sites, but all were taken, due to the spring break and seasonal snowbirds on winter months escape from the cold northern states.

 Interesting that hurricanes and floods have periodically built and cyclically worn down, these barrier islands from 90' foot sand dunes documented in the 1500's, to 30' dunes today. For some reason, tough small but sturdy trees, have clung tenaciously, in spite of the harsh conditions that have left them looking prehistoric. Periodic flooding can leave a couple of feet of water covering the campgrounds, especially lower B loop during storms.

We parked in among one little grove of trees among birds that have figured out the cycles of horrific, periodic gulf storms. Ospreys had a nest high in dead standing trees near our site. They enjoy the fishing. We saw one large fish laying on the road, where an Osprey had lost it's grip. 

The habitat on the gulf barrier islands is various, bio-diversified from gulf ocean beaches to inner waterway harbor lagoons, dunes, fresh water lagoons and ponds, small dense forests of hardy  trees and salt marshes. All attract their individual forms of life. Lots of critters. 

American Indians of the previous 5,000 years, fared on the barrier islands with limited sporadic success... between cyclic storms, leaving only traces of their settlements. National Geographic's prophecies periodically got them?

Nearby Ft Pickens was a very fascinating morning's tour, that we really enjoyed. Never knew the significance of these other coastal port guarding forts, built after the war of 1812, only of which Ft Mchenry is recalled by most of the historically astute.... of our generation.

The damage from the 8,000# of powder that exploded accidentally is still visible, obliterating a segment of the five pointed star shape, common to these historic castle designed forts.

 The original brick structures were eventually rendered obsolete, with ever heavier, up to 20 mile range rifled cannons, beginning at the end of the US Civil War, modern cannons that shook the massive brick mounts to pieces. The later cannon revetments, countless structures are  poured concrete that are still in place today. A few artillery pieces are displayed in their original mounts. Reminiscent of the coasts of Normandy.

Interesting facts about the forts construction, consuming over 20 million bricks and five years of slave labor. Civil War, WWI and WWII. The only 2 people documented ever killed, were in accidents. One in the  big explosion and another when an artillery piece broke loose upon firing, flew down the steps and killed the gun commander.

 The only time they were used in warfare, was against the US Confederates that attempted to force them into surrender during the Civil War. The forts were controlled by Federal Union forces, although Florida was a Confederate State.
Ukraine could learn from USA history.

Leave Pensacola, along the barrier Island to the east. After driving past miles, miles and miles of white sand beaches with numerous visitor parking facilities, crossing another high bridge to the mainland, we eventually approached Tallahassee Fla.

 One long circumference detour looped us right back to the starting point, a joke or lack of detour planning  skills? 

One education degree is evident for a lifetime of success and prosperity, Highway Engineering is ongoing all across the USA. We have never been on a trip where highways were not being rebuilt to ever greater magnificence.

Tallahassee has a Sam's Club with quiet overnight camping and $3.16 gas. We took the Honda Jeep, explored Tallahassee and it's Goodwill charity stores for the afternoon. Florida charity stores have really great stuff.

 Amazing sets of high dollar Noritake dishes for cheap. Computers, Nav bought one for RV campground use. A Dell laptop. Windows 7 features newer and more upgraded than her own, for $170... I'm on it now.Many old folks die in Fl and leave all to Goodwill? We are spoiled now. No Goodwills will ever compare to Florida's.

Left Fla and began more casual trekking north toward Chattanooga Tenn. Staying in Walmarts RV camps along the way :>) Cheap and quiet was the common experience :>) Fuel was no more than $3.27 per gal so far. 

Nice highways through some really classic US countrysides of pristine farms and settlements
Cows were separated from their new spring calves, that were sequestered in their individual small 'doggie' houses. Georgia is Cow friendly. Logging is ongoing across these treesy states, with the tall, fast growing Lob lolly Pines, cut and loaded onto trucks traveling along the endlessly reforested area's highways.

Arriving at our Holiday RV Park outside Chattanooga Tenn after 5pm, we are now leisurely set for the next four nights, as we explore our environment. Georgia is one day's plan, to acquire some imported antique 'look alikes', for Nav's mall space. Many people do not care, they want the 'old' look for ambiance...... at cheap prices. Navigator wife happily obliges :>)

Chattanooga Tennessee:
Our realm for today is our coach. Laundry and a thorough cleaning, took up a major portion as we are experiencing periodic rainfall and overcast. One brief 'sun glow' today. The new little Dell laptop from Goodwill, is working it's Windows 7 magic and keeping Nav's primary older laptop safe from predatory on-line attacks. 

No spam attacks have appeared in this mild Holiday RV park near Chattanooga Tenn. Found a really sturdy and compact small set of cooling fans in an adjustable frame, for $7 at Big Lots. It holds the laptop at a comfortable angle and runs quietly off of the USB.

Her old Gateway Windows XP laptop contains her business information, and is unrealistic to replace. XP is in it's final support days and increasingly vulnerable to data attacks and infestations. Reason she bought the little used Dell, is for safety for her irreplaceable laptop.

Far from the drastic, incessant spam/viral attacks that were relevant to our temporary New Orleans residency. Extremely busy interstate truck stops are noted as dangerous to on-line events, as well as periodic suspicious behaviors.  We learned quickly to avoid any long term visits to interstate truck stops. Overnight trucking 'camp' is noisy, brightly illuminated and results in a fitful night's attempt at sleep. Feel  sorry for professional truck drivers. 

Sunday will be another day of  nothing eventful for us. Monday will be our first 'out and about' day. Should have gone early today, but judged poorly, indecisively and unproductively on time allotments. Will most likely now spend more nights here than planned.

Nav wife recalled a narrow, winding car road entry through the back country into this RV park, saving us a long trafficky, complicated route through the city. When I walked to desk upon arrival, the attendants were surprised we arrived from that direction, remarking that No big rigs take that twisty, narrow car route.

 We had to drive precisely, as the power poles and signs were next to the pavement, attempting to remove our expensive right mirror. The narrow pavement ended at the dropoff edge into the ditches, no shoulders. Happily we met no other trucks, but surprised a few car's drivers on the curves.

Evening will be TV and more computer time, to hold gray day boredom at bay.  A brief hike between rainfall for a bit of exercise is in order, as I do not desire to muddy the tires on my bike.

Chattanooga days: 

50 degree night with 80 sunny degree day. After breakfast, our trip plan was to head for the downtown Whole Food store.

An antique mall of several shops, sharing an old shopping center with no other stores, popped up near our RV park. Nav recalled it being past the intersection and voila, there it was, sitting exactly where she recalled.

They had much nicer stuff than the thrift stores, lots of various items from the past and present and the prices were not much more, even cheaper.

 I found several new imported pocket knives for great prices, enough to last Nav a couple of years in her mall space. I suppose that having the Smoky Mountain Knife Works less than a 100 miles away, north of Pigeon Forge (Dollywood) is the reason?

I had wanted to stop in at SMKW Seveirville on a slightly detoured way home. No reason now. We are knifed up. Lunch at a Bojangles was 'different'. 

No need to try it again, the Colonel does a better job.

 Navigator took us across one of the bridges over the river, to the Whole Foods listed on her Garmin. We drove right past it on Sunday without realizing. My Brown Cow Cream Top Plain yogurt was in stock. We now have a couple of qts, enough to last me a few days breakfast. I don't use milk on my 'dog food' bowl of raw rolled oats, rye, triticale, spelt, apple and walnuts.

Sam's Choice coffee or Four Sisters Cinnamon from Big Lots, rounds out these mornings for me. Nav has her Sam's Club Jimmy Dean pre-cooked sausage patty, on her Costco whole grain bread toast with an apple slice and tea. Same breakfast every morning :>)

Extremely pleasant day, no wind, sunny with great afternoon and evening for my walk. Have you ever wandered into a Dollar General store? Amazing little stores, they are everywhere we travel, like mini Walmarts. One across this street, as everywhere, is always busy.

When I walked out the front door, a small Bat was flitting in lazy figure 8's snatching bugs. The precision little flying machine was performing for me for several minutes, as if I was holding a remote control and having it grab bugs. Fun to observe God's nature at work, doing it's miracles as a performance.

Now the new Goodwill computer is functioning it's miracles, as I tend to a few details. Checking prices on a few things we are interested in. I found a Harmonica to sell in Nav's mall space. She liked an old Yashica camera, but the price was more than on-line, no profit margin in the Yashika.

An old Daisy model Winchester 94 BB gun from the 'old' 1960's to check 'before' investing, and it will be time for bed. We sleep like babies in these cool weather evenings. Have to turn on the electric heaters before dawn. Takes the chill off while having breakfast :>)


Still more Chattanooga:
After Nav's study of the surrounding area, she noted a vast expanse of hilly real estate that we had not yet explored. After our power breakfast, we motored on over uncharted territory in the Honda Jeep. Nav's GPS sort of tells us which direction to go.

The maps are not expandable to the point of a good Google map, so we make errors of miles in maneuvering around the big ridges like 'Lookout Mountain' and 'Missionary Ridge', names of famous battles during the Civil War. The Tenneessee River causes a lot of long circutious excursions to circumvent the natural barrier.

The newer area of Chattanooga extends northeast and has many new shopping malls and housing areas. This place is far bigger than anyone could guess while just driving along the interstates. Trees hide the developments from view. Churches are numerous and many appear to be quite wealthy, in comparison to the churches in New Mexico.

We see one obvious reason why Wayne Barber, our former pastor, returned back to Chattanooga from his relatively brief time at our church in New Mexico.

Found several  charity thrift stores not noticed during other trips. Discovered a few more treasures, unique in NM. In that respect, Nav can sell them for a profit. She is so evil to earn a profit from her little business...... At least using socialized business logic, according to what is taught in govt unionized US schools of today.

Hardee's Restaurant was our shared burger lunch (pretty tasty), as we were away from our RV. We put well over 150 miles on our Honda Jeep so far this week alone, just while exploring all around our camp site. This RV park has a battleground site near the back row of the park. While hiking out the perimeter, one Civil War campground is marked by a monument.

Tennessee as a state, supplied more troops to Both sides of the armies, than any other states volunteers. Tennessee apparently had a large population of young men and strong feelings for both sides. The battlegrounds were huge in area and difficult in terrain. Apparently anywhere a metal detector is waved, Civil War items are found.

One disconcerting fact (unsustainable) we are noting of this economy, openly visible across the south we travel, is the vast numbers of young blacks, young women with children and young men by the countless thousands, all just hanging out on street corners and lounging in front yards... every day of the week.

One other opposite note, not regularly seen in NM, is the numerous young black men riding very expensive, fully dressed out Harley Davidsons and many on fast new 'crotch rockets'.... on weekends. They obviously have well paying jobs and thoroughly enjoy prosperity.

We had to dump the holding tanks after setting another record of over 9 days. Nav noticed the grey water rising from the drain (lowest point) in the shower stall pan {:>)
Fortunately black water was staying in it's separate tank where it belongs..... below visibility. One more holding tank dump on Friday morning, before we leave this area we enjoy, heading back towards ABQ NM...



Chattanooga snowbirds:
As we look around during the  heavy evening traffic incoming for each night at our RV park, we notice a disproportionate number of Michigan license plates. We assume they are satisfied with the freezing temps and snow still lingering near the Canadian border :>)

We also assume that they spent the winter in Florida. That has got to be a shock, facing the harsh reality of Michigan, after wintering along the gulf coast and Florida in general?


 Nav is intently monitoring the broad swath of storms presently at an angle extending several hundreds of miles, forming a barrier to our westward migration. Last year was interesting, as we drove a hundred miles or more in various directions, avoiding tornadoes. Apparently this season will be similar in evasive tactics.

Fuel was $3.24 at nearby Georgia Costco yesterday. With luck it will be so, as we top off fill Friday morning. 500 miles range should get us to our next fueling at good prices :>) Turned out it was even cheaper at $3.22.

We cleaned up the coach interior, vacuumed flooring and stowed treasures, showered and then dumped the holding tanks one last time late Thursday afternoon, so that we can get away early and not get me soaking wet from predicted rain oncoming Friday morning.

Only the connecting of the Honda Jeep may be a bit wetting... for me. Not quite sure yet, whether to retreat back down towards Florida, then west, or dam the torpedoes and full speed through the storm front. 


In a car, no problem, just drive on through. This 55' rig is not quite as forgiving of errors. Dawn will bring the decision, after looking at the latest weather images.)

Thunder Lightening Leave Chattanooga:

 Redbuds and Dogwoods, Wisteria in bloom on an overcast drive southwest from Chattanooga Tennessee and through Alabama, roll towards us in waves of color. Colorful trees resembling Wisteria (also prolific as you approach Birmingham) are lining the highways and thriving, beautifully peeking out from between the forests of pines and other trees.

The roadsides of most highways we travel across the USA, are lush with thriving vegetation, contrary to what you are led to believe by special interests. The vehicle emissions, 'pollutants,' are obviously not as 'polluting' as they would have you believe. Fact is the growth is enhanced by moisture and CO2.

Redbuds change, sometimes on the same tree, to regular green leafed trees as we get further south toward Birmingham Alabama.

 Our stay for the next 3 nights is Tannehill Iron Works State Park. TIWSP is a reconstructed critical historic village that supplied the south with iron for cannons, as well as other needs.

This unique in the world, geography that has every ingredient necessary to manufacture iron, including it's extensive traditional family based society infrastructure, was viciously attacked by a Union mounted cavalry division and destroyed as a vital industrial area during the Civil War. 


It's loss along with the Selma Armory, ended the war within days. Tannehill lay totally in ruin, abandoned and forgotten for almost a hundred years. Visited only by the curious individuals that explored it's ruins.

Today it is a restoration in progress. A technically working museum, complete with steam generating, manufacturing factory, producing electricity, forging iron periodically in it's several sites.

Two really big stone forges were rebuilt from the Civil War rubble and re-fired during the year 1976 commemoration. The big (by history standards of the time) Bessemer (state of the art at the time) designed, stone furnaces were used in the nations birthday celebration, to forge iron memorabilia sold to offset the costs of historic Tannehill's reconstruction.

Some nights as scheduled, the smaller forges are set to smelt scrap iron. They spew flames and sparks into the night skies, as men in heavy leather clothing, big gloves, wearing face screens, work with the molten iron.

Visitors that pay $20, are shown how to engrave their own sand mold and the red hot molten iron is repeatedly poured, rewarding them all with personalized souvenirs. 


Nav and I made a novice mess of our own mold last trip, forgetting that everything is reversed after it is solidified. We hid our ruined black sand mold under a pile to be recycled, payed the $20 and instead took home a nice little anvil that had been poured previously with the logo of Tannehill Ironworks cast onto the iron.

For the logo to protrude from the anvil, it must be etched 'into' the mold... in reverse.

 Another artistic trick employed by the art majors common among these evening presentations, is to engrave, etch scratch away (more difficult than it seems) the surrounding mold image (Dremel Tools are used) and thus leaving the image you desire to be 'engraved into' the iron.... in reverse. Did I mention tricky?


 There were many art students in our 'Forgery' group that evening. We understand why... after our mess. The full process lasts until the wee hours of the morning. We wimped out early, returning to our bed.

Tannehill State Park is a kids paradise. Bicycles are endlessly being ridden around the large expanse of valleys, hills and streams that is controlled entry and patrolled. Kids can go exploring all day, returning whenever they are hungry. It takes a week to lightly explore this park, if you have fast kids.
An entire season is best.


Tannehill Days:
45 degree night...... sunshine changed the day into a pleasant 75 degrees. Found a 'Trade Days' charity church sale, several  miles of circuitous driving through a very nice scenic neighborhood nearby. Complete with beautiful homes, lakes and streams through hills.

Bought a like new 20" Tony Hawk trick bike for $20. Took it apart to stow away in the Honda Jeep. Just when there is no more room, we find a cranny.

Drove 30 miles northeast, to other side of Birmingham Alabama.
Noticed a large thrift store on way in Friday. Returned to check it out. No treasures to be had, basically a curbside day within a store. What they lack in quality, they make up for in quantity. Nothing good, but lots of it?

Returned home to our RV, where I took my real bike for a couple of hours tour of the area. Iron working blacksmiths were busy pounding out items for Tannehill Trade Days. Craftsmen were carving and pounding nails into knives. Everyone seems to have a craft around here. I enjoyed the conversations.

As usual, today was busy, with the park teeming with day visitors. A run was scheduled to raise charity funds.  Friday had two buses parked in the entrance lot, with dozens of kids on a day trip. Roaming the restored village and restored forges at a fast pace only kids can accomplish. The small train, powered by a car engine, was busy hauling passengers to the farther end of the Iron working park. A real train passes nearby periodically.

I found one fairly easy trail along side of a substantial little river and rode it for a mile or so. Tram Trail is 8 miles in canyon along side the river, so I turned back as dusk set in. 


Did you know that log or 'plank' rods were often across the rough old terrain for a toll? One major local 'plank road' was 84 miles. Nicer travel for carriages on planks, than mud and rocks.

Many of  these cabins restored and open for visitors or nightly rentals, are original and documented. They are re-set in Tannehill village, as were the original countless cabins around these hills. Many of the larger cabins hold entire extended families.... for nightly fees. An old church in the hills holds service on Sundays. Large groups of every type, have picnics and meetings at Tannehill State Park.

I talked with the Ranger about this fascinating area he patrols. He said he can not believe they actually pay him to work here :>)
 


Tannehill Rain:
Sporadic rain, after a cool evening of 52, is keeping me from riding the bike today. Now we are visited by 6 colorful, wild Ducks that stare at our door from a tiny stream close by. I had tossed out some peanuts. Obvious that they understand RV campers.

The Ducks eat the entire peanut in the shell, without taking time to even taste the things. They are quite busy bathing in the tiny stream that is flowing past the door and enjoying the rain, while preening their pretty iridescent feathers.

Two Crows stopped in and grabbed a few peanuts. They can hold a couple in their beak at one time. Rain is not a frog drowning event, but intermediate enough that Squirrels still visit the free chow that I sometimes toss out the window.

Ducks found the birdseed I had tossed out a few days earlier. One determined Duck is nibbling up each individual seed. This process is taking some time and effort. After the large peanuts in the shells, this has got to be very unrewarding. The Duck has finally moved on, searching for greener pastures.

Craftsman making birdhouses to sell from the cabin venues, told me of the diminutive Flying Squirrels that inhabit the birdhouses. They are no larger than Chipmunks, can easily fit into most birdhouses for nesting. His birdhouses are like old mountain cabins, with various items surrounding the doors. He also uses a lathe to 'turn' layered laminated wooden bowls for serving, as he hammers out knives from large nails.

Possum recipes are numerous for these Appalachian Mountain areas. Blacksmith was making 'Possum cookers' (long iron rod with a hook to hold the skinned and cleaned Possum in place) while I watched him forging iron bars into tools at the 'coke' fire. Coke is made from burning coal in a confined enclosure and limiting the amount of O2 available, as the lower temperature impurities are 'cooked' off.

 The 'coked' coal then burns far hotter when used in the blower fanned fire, to melt iron ore or melt scrap into useable pieces. It develops so much excess heat, it can easily melt any iron you are attempting to forge into a useful tool. Takes great attention to regulate the heat, by amount of fanned air and adding coal to lower the temperature.

 Old car springs are a favorite source of tool grade steel. Old style coiled springs (their favorite) once numerous, are becoming very had to find, now that lighter cars use lighter smaller McPhearson struts.

Supposed to be heavier storms tonight through dawn. We showered in preparation for tomorrow's departure. At rain let up, I should attend to holding tank chores, so I will have less to do in morning?

Still various forms of entertaining wildlife are visiting, the kind that keeps me from being bored today.
Rain on roof tonight will put me to sleep.


TANNEHILL FLOOD:

That serene  little creek, the one that the pretty, wild ducks were bathing in outside our door? Well... at 4:15 AM came a fierce pounding on our door. We got up to see what it was about. The little stream was a raging torrent. I dressed and ran outside, yelled to Nav to bring in the slides, we are getting out of here.

 I ran to the back and disconnected the 50 amp power (while standing in rapidly rising water) and hose connection. Other swamped power boxes were flashing red beacons in warning. 


I drove the car to high ground a distance away and ran back downhill to get the coach. Trailers and fifth wheels were scrambling to get hooked up and out of the rapidly rising torrent.

Nav was frantically stashing gear in it's crannies as she brought in the 'slides'. We drove up the hill to the entrance lot crowded willy nilly with several other rigs. 


People were milling around in shock, as our formerly peaceful RV sites were flooded with a raging torrent 80 yards wide. One park maintenance man was coming here as a child and never saw this before. 

I  read the history and this is really nothing new, one big flood washed away a nearby stone furnace and it's little village 100 yrs ago. Three creeks converge in this valley. 24 hours of rain flushes them out.

A couple of motorhomes, a trailer or two that had no occupants last night, were flooded and stuck until the water recedes. A car and trailer were totally swamped. A trailer was sinking into the muck and turning kitty wampus. 


One big new beautiful 5th wheel stood tall, out in the rising river, like an aircraft carrier on a stormy sea. A big tent was down in the water. 

Bridges were washed out, making escape tricky. We finally got out 4 hrs later by driving through another stream of water rushing over the road and into the swollen river. 

200 miles later, we are now north of Jackson Mississippi, at the Timberlake reservoir RV camp at Barnet. A nearby McDonald's wifi will suffice. The entire day, from 4:15 Am was kind a dream, as far as Nav remembers it :>).

Meridian Mississippi has fuel at $3.16. Obama must have put in a word for them :>)
 


Mississippi:
From flooded Tannehill Alabama, we had progressed on through Meridian Mississippi, to Jackson Mississippi, where we spent two nights at Timberlake RV park, a state park on the edge of the Barnet Reservoir. Currently filled to capacity by rainfall runoff. The floodgates were open and downstream was flooded to Pearl Mississippi, where we stayed one night last spring trip 2013.
 

 LeFleur Bluff State Park downstream also floods often. The RV campground floods whenever the Barnet dam releases flow. That RV park even has the main electrical control panels mounted very high on a platform that has a float similar to a sump pump. It cuts off the main switch as the water rises. Apparently it happens very often. Hopefully they warn the campers?

Our Timberlake RV park on the reservoir is much better. The dam releases the Pearl River to regulate the flooding. Summers get hot and humid. We enjoy this cool weather for the present. Left Timberlake, to travel the scenic historic Natchez Trace again this trip. 100 miles from Jackson Mississippi to Natchez, the southwest end of the 400 mile new Trace.

Tonight we are parked in Natchez Trace State Park, tomorrow we leave for Alexexandria for fuel (cheaper in Louisiana) then on to Nacogdoches Louisiana (Nacadoches Texas is a bit further west:>)
 


Natchez Trace to Galveston Texas to San Antonio:

 Leaving Timberlake RV Park, 2 nights, Jackson Mississippi (the State capital) visiting a few areas and explore beautiful upscale neighborhoods for one day. Many are gated communities.Thrift charity stores around Miss are not especially lucrative, nothing like Florida's :>) A new 'up scale' consignment store, not far from the reservoir dam, has lots of interesting collectible 'stuff'.

 We had previously camped on this Pearl River Reservoir (Barnett) outside Jackson Mississippi, watching birds building nests, catching insects. Turtles are Nav's idea of fun entertainment to photograph. These large turtles lounging on the shore, are water turtles, snappers, and very fast.

 We also drove to observe the spillway flooding the low lying areas below the dam. Fishing is excellent, judging by the shear numbers of boats along the dam. Our last spring's 'LaFleure Park state campground' in lower level of nearby Pearl, was flooded on return.

 It was on the news, as they had to let the water from the Barnet Dam, flow down into the low parts of Pearl Mississippi gradually. Water is periodically released to prevent breaching this long earthen and concrete dam upstream at Brandon.

This idealistic, cheap monthly rates, dreamland RV park, Timberlake, on the shore just above the Barnet dam, has a long waiting list. People die and others grab (legally) their prime RV sites, along with whatever RV (some relics) they were living in. Several are for sale at any given time.

An older fifth wheel brings 40K..... on site. Temporary overnights get a different area near the entrance, still very nice, cheap RV camping in a pleasant area that we enjoy when passing this way.

Leaving Jackson Miss, we drove onto 'The Natchez Trace' hwy for a peaceful drive at 50 mph, no stops. 100 miles later we arrived at the Natchez Mississippi end.

The Natchez Trace is over 400 miles long and extends northeast from Natchez Miss. to Nashville Tennessee.... no stop signs nor lights, just cruisin' along an extremely scenic, limited access highway with no commercial trucks or vehicles allowed.

 Get off the Trace whenever you desire, for visiting the towns and historic sites, then returning for more 'Trace' travel. That scenic route, restored today, is very relevant, as it was a major route of return for travelers (including migratory animals), before the steam powered river boats could travel back up the Mississippi River. There are many points of interest along the Trace, with descriptions of their historic importance.

Natchez State Park, our night's destination, has a twisty entrance road, details recalled from our stay last year. Our recollections got us into the campground.

The headquarters building was open, but the ranger in the office near the big earthen dam that creates the reservoir, said to "come back in the morning, as the computer was down and nothing is done by hand any more".

 After a quiet night with a hike around the little RV camp until dark, I awoke in the morning, drove the tow Honda to the headquarters to pay before leaving in the morning. "Closed and back at noon" was the sign on the door.

After clearing the holding tanks, we guiltily left the park early without paying, as there were no honor boxes nor envelopes... nor rangers.

Natchez Mississippi, situated high on a bluff near the big bridge, is on the Mississippi river state line. We had toured by horse drawn carriage last spring, a trip during which we visited one of the several old mansions being restored.

 'The Barber of Natchez' is excellent reading for history buffs. Natchez was the indisputable center of wealth (exported cotton) in the US, back before the Civil War. For various reasons and international ownership interests, it was not forced into total destruction, as were many of the south's prominent cities. That is why more Antebellum (pre Civil War) architecture is to be seen nearby, than anywhere else across the south.

Crossing the big classic girder beam bridge over the Mississippi River, driving on through Louisiana (highways across Lou. are lacking... bumpy wavy, (due to corruption), with only a fuel stop at Sam's Club in Alexandria Louisiana ($3.22), we eventually traversed on into Texas.

 Traveling along the intensely industrious, fuel refining, shipping and storage gulf, gives anyone a feeling of the major importance of this area. 


Nav noted it is understandable that Putin took the Crimea, it is a major port system similar to Galveston, an asset that periodically ice bound Russia can not do without. Notice that in spite of Obama's typical rhetoric and politically 'staged' outrage bluster, how quiet the 'news' has gotten?

After driving high up and across the bridges, including the really high, inland waterway bridge, we continued across the salt marshes, over the channels and farmland.


 Eventually we drove aboard the 'free' Texas state ferry, loaded with many cars and trucks, for the 15 minute ride across the inland waterway bay and then driving the industrious Bolivar Peninsula. Always fun to drive aboard a ferry.... for a successful ride across the water.

Love the view, as they have always put us near the front for exit first. Seagulls float above us on the breeze, US flag waves as the ferry cruises the waves effortlessly. A huge China registered freighter crossed our bow and blew it's horn. Several big international ships were at anchor, awaiting loading and unloading.
Nav got several videos and pics for her Facebook page.

Long day of driving hundreds of miles, but Galveston State Park seemed the best for the night. Galveston Texas was devastated in 2008. You would never believe much of it was wiped away during the last hurricane, after seeing it today.

Galveston's destruction is totally rebuilt, stronger and larger than ever. Tall highrise dwellings and hotels replace the smaller buildings that were swept away or destroyed. The city is almost extending to Houston, as new homes are filling the former farmland. Texas is growing, like an industrial area of intense, freedom loving prosperity always does.

I would guess the investors, holding companies figure it will be another 100 years before a record hurricane and by then, they will have made a profitable fortune off the property rentals.

Crowded and busy, tourists enjoy the countless amenities along this somewhat primitive seashore, more akin to a natural ambiance. Nothing at all in comparison to Florida's pristine and orderly white sands. Galveston is still very interesting, exciting in it's own unique way.

Absolutely beautiful buildings by the thousands, now fill the 2008 hurricane's swept clean areas along the gulf shore. Those previously devastated areas we drove through after the history setting storm have risen like a Phoenix.

Colorful and sitting proudly, architectural wonders, higher and larger than ever on their new stronger, taller pilings, the new condos, with lower level parking structures, are growing in every direction. An amusement park with tall loop and swirl rides, stretches out over the water on high pilings above the ocean and extending out from the seawall, a structure where a hotel 'was' before the 2008 storm.

Arriving at Galveston Island State Park after hours, we found 'No Vacancy' signs. After checking out the pitifully small tent areas left as indicated, we returned to the office parking lot. I was tired from the long drive and figured that we would just camp right there.

Slides out and camp we did. About 10:20 pm while we were watching the news, a panicked girl knocked on our door and asked if we were the 'camp host'? They had been in town naively enjoying themselves and were now locked out of their gated campground.

Early morning, after a very quiet night with the slight roar of the gulf waves to lull us to sleep, indicated a couple more cars hunkered around the office. Others apparently 'camped' there overnight? We arose early, fixed quick breakfast and fled the scene. No fees payed... again. We do have a Texas State Park pass we purchase each year, so not exactly free.

Several new and restored McDonald's are now situated around the Galveston city proper. We did check a few emails while I had my McMuffin breakfast and coffee. A Thrift charity store or two in Galveston was unrewarding. Checking out the fantastic nautical store along 'The Strand' downtown, without actually 'parking' (parking $1.25 per hr per space, we take 3), a shop that sends Nav 'on line' information, was left behind. We fled on to Brazos Bend State Park near Houston. The Alligator RV park that Nav enjoys :>)

'No Vacancy' is our destiny on this trip. $12 a night in the Brazos Bend parking lot was undesirable. Turning back onto the highway I-10, by way of a complex route 'Garmin'ed by Navigator, we fled on to San Antonio for two nights. Another day with intensely long hours, hundreds of driving miles, killed the Honda's battery, as I left the fuse in place with key in 'on' position, as it requires for steering while in 'tow' . I carry a strong 'starter charger' for just such occasions :>)

Two nights camped quietly among the Egyptian Geese (with babies) and squirrels. KOA internet is fine, as this note indicates. Long day, fast miles of trafficky  I-10 at 70mph is weary driving. Satisfied now.... for a couple of nights :>)
 


KOA Alamo San Antonio to Lockhart State Park Austin Texas:

We head on out of the San Antonio Alamo KOA this morning. Yesterday was a nice fish lunch at Sea Island in 'The Forum' outlet mall, followed by a quick tour of a couple of local thrift charity stores where we sometimes find unique 'stuff' for Nav to sell... hopefully.

 San Antonio is growing into a metropolis of unimaginable size. Big sweeping modern overpasses several levels high, where only a few streets formerly existed.

Shopping malls abound in all directions radiating from the city center. We first saw 'The Quarry' as it was, a stone quarry. Now it is the center of a large condo living, golf course, restaurants, snack shops, bakeries, boutique clothing and shopping complex, with everything within walking distance.

 All of this within the last few years. Dynamic Texas Freedom with common sense taxation, few restrictions, is on track for prosperity.

Austin Texas is next after a stop
at the Prime Tanger Mall, where wife found great deals at Talbots.  Goal one night at nearby Lockhart State Park, a small RV park on a 9 hole golf course, with a little river through it. I know what you are thinking :>).

We will drive the toad (towed), stop in at the Austin city warehouse on Monday, to see if they are selling
the TSA confiscated articles by the pound.

 Pocket knives, nail clippers 'Weapons of mass destruction' and other 'contraband' (toy plastic soldiers with 1/4"... Guns) are piled into big bins by the hundreds. Peg bought 10 pounds of pocket knives for $12 on one trip :>)

They sell the other stuff based on ebay pricing, which is not all that cheap. Sculptures, models of anything, snow globes, toys. Interesting what all the enthusiastic government bureaucracy now confiscates and considers dangerous to 'their' seething masses of public transportation.

Shirts, blouses (even T's), purses, hats, belts, buckles, rings, bracelets, earrings, hair decorations, jewelry of any type or size, Pictures of guns, knives any size, boots, wallets, money clips and jackets etc etc etc.

ANYTHING and Everything decorated with, or depicting cowboy 'Gun' motifs (common across Texas). All deemed Politically dangerous to the Nanny state, are considered extremely dangerous by this current TSA 'protection'.


Lockhart State Park Texas: 

After we left San Antonio KOA, the destination was one of the small State parks near Austin. Lockhart S.P. was built in the 1930's by the CCC and is a golf course state park, with one hole of the 9, being the highest 'hole' in Texas.

Weather was cloudy on arrival, we drove to San Marcos to meet friends for a meal at 'Saltgrass', (connection with Landry's). Great evening meal with friends that have recently moved to San Marcos. Shared a small steak with wife, as we sometimes do, especially late in the day. 


The headwaters springs of the San Marcos River begin there. The river has never gone dry, no matter what year's drought has hit the area. Drought still has this area of Texas in it's cyclic grip.

After driving Honda Jeep back to Lockhart, the night in the coach was quiet. Another 'Blood Moon' (rare to have more than two a year... historic events for Israel).  The morning brought clouds, rain and we even experienced brief hail while on our way to Austin in the Honda.

We stop in at the TSA 'treasure chest' (my term), where we pick up confiscated items, things like pocket tools that hapless airline passengers have left, their treasures, while being frisked by TSA.

We found enough to last until next trip. After browsing a few other places in Austin, having a delicious flat bread chicken sandwich at Tito's Greek Cafe, we headed back through intense, jammed traffic of Austin downtown (8 lanes neck down to 2, through an old girder bridge), towards San Marcos to meet our friends for evening hamburgers at RR Station restaurant.

 Their daughter moved here looking for a job. Found her a dream job in education quickly in prosperous, thriving Texas.

 Cloudy, cool days, cooler nights with rains across the east of Texas. Western Texas, not so much. They need more rain to return.

Break camp, leaving Lockhart S.P. in morning for San Angelo, where we often stay overnight in the 'Spring Creek City Park' off Knickerbockerboker Dr.

Pleasant afternoon and evening. I hiked a bit around the park. Lake Nasworthy was low due to drought. Critters were few, in comparison to previous cycle years of rainfall, where hogs, turkeys, vultures, deer and lots of squirrels were present. Only one resident Alpaca. No white Peacock, no horses, nor donkeys wandering the private reserve across the channel. Nature in it's cycles again.

No one to collect a fee, so we stayed free. After a few thrift store browses and fill the fuel tank at Sam's ($3.45), we drove to Big Spring Texas on the way northwest. Used up the Walmart gift card on their 'Murphy' fuel (saves .03). Tatum NM, west of the Texas state line, is known for the iron silhouettes seen around ranches. Wife likes the cowboy leaning on the fence.

Dry cotton fields across the western side of Texas in this area do not bode well for this year's crops. Only the irrigated fields are doing well... at a price. The countless oil jacks are still 'jacking' the oil out of the ground, so 'Oil is well :>)' 


New Federal Government regulations are forcing increasing expenditure to make 'safer' oil jacks and sites. Of course the new expenses will be passed on to consumers.... you. Remember Obama's energy appointee saying that $10 a gallon fuel is the goal..... so that solar and wind energy will look cheap?

After crossing the 100 plus miles of desolate high desert terrain from Brownfield Texas, to the rim rock overlooking the Roswell valley, the Roswell valley is an oasis. Irrigation works wonders. 280 mile day.... wind was not friendly.

 Race horses ('Mine my Bird' famous) and the hay to feed them, are popular around Roswell NM. Aliens are popular in the media pertaining to Roswell. The military academy keeps their students 'squared away'. The extension university of Eastern NM fills the gaps to keep everyone well educated.

Sam's Club RV camping is free and the new ATTWIFI they now provide makes it even better. No wind tonight, so less likely the Honda will be further damaged from errant shopping baskets (our first night out on this trip). We shared a couple of Sam's hotdogs for late afternoon meal. Did a bit of walking to shake the kinks out of the legs, before sitting at the laptop for a few words to all friends and family.

To home from Roswell, our last 'camp', after having breakfast in the coach, filling the tank and driving north from Roswell. Wind for the first 100 miles. Strong enough to slow down a motorcycle rider and force him into a lean to the right. 

 The long straight from Roswell to Vaughn, was the windiest. Could not get the coach over 64 mph due to the headwind. Of course fuel economy was non existent. Fortunately we fed 'the kitty' with $100 worth of fuel at Roswell Sam's, before we left.

A clue was the night in the Sam's Club RV camp. Wind enough to rock me to sleep and keep Nav awake. We parked away from the grocery carts this time, so the Honda didn't get whacked again by more of the errant little vehicles. 


Nav had visions of the RV campers in Gauthier Florida flipping over in a wind gust during the night. What a wake up for those sleeping campers. We had passed through there on our trip.

Roswell NM is in a drought like west Texas. The only green growing stuff is irrigated and that costs money. Vaughn NM, now a relative ghost town, formerly a busy railroad and pre-interstate highway town. A town where the Illinois couples were last seen in 1935 was not so bad driving, even a little wind push, to help us along the way to ABQ. 



ABQ home:
ABQ Costco fillup was $3.26 for 57 gallons, a surprise...cheaper than Texas? That is very rare. Home was in good shape, as neighbor who watches the house, called the yard guy whenever it looked a bit shaggy. Rain is sparse in ABQ, so the same green is only at expense of water. Our system is automatic, but timed sparsely to save on water bill.

Call from Norcold the refrigerator manufacturer. They did safety fix last season? It has always worked well for us. I had added a powerful fan, to keep the heat transfer system from cooking itself. Only has problems when driving rain or mist from the ocean confuses the circuit board mounted in
the outer compartment. Wife's hair dryer fixes it... for a while.... as we flee to less wetness.

Unloading is a long process. Takes longer to find everything, than it took to stow the 'stuff'. Only food was cleaned out today, more 'stuff' tomorrow. I worked on the coach first...... to prepare it for the next trip.... whenever that is. 


Changed the oil (really dirty) and greased the numerous 'zerks (15). on the drive shaft and front suspension. Crawling around under that thing is getting harder each year. Must be the coach, can't be me:>) Drained and flushed the holding tanks, prep wash wax for back yard storage.

4,400 memorable miles in all:

Lot of different places to see on this trip. Neither of us has ever been to Florida before. Those white sand beaches are fascinating. Maybe next time we will find warmer weather to check them out thoroughly as we go from west to east side. Lots of beach open to the public on the Bolivar Peninsula. Cold breezes kept us in the coach most of this trip.

Want to find some more Craw-fish and large shrimp with heads and antennae. Those we had in 'Nawlin's, were wonderful. They were cookin' them up in a big kettle loaded with interesting Cajun spices.

The other memorable lunch on the trip was the 'Tino's Greek flat bread bread chicken wrap in north Austin Texas. We got to tell (pointed at it) what all we wanted in the sandwich, rolled loosely. Had to eat  it with a fork and knife. Loved their Tabbouleh, making it must be an art.
Next trip is anticipated. After a recharge of our physical batteries.... and bank account.
 

 





       

Saturday, February 15, 2014

KNIVES and Kids, 'Back in the day'

Having carried countless knives of many types and sizes for all of my life, I discovered that in today’s protective nanny society, kids can no longer do such socially abhorrent activity, fraught with great risk of Danger.

I had one time asked the boys why they didn’t carry knives while in school? They looked at me like I had suggested something evil, and said No Way, they would have been ‘cuffed and stuffed’ for carrying a deadly weapon in school.

Times sure have changed. Every boy I ever knew, along with a few girls, carried a knife to school and ‘Nothing’ ever happened… in ‘Our’ Culture. No one ever thought about stabbing anyone with them. 

We played games like ‘mumbly peg’ at recess.  Which included tipping the open knife off various things, knees, elbows, chins, foreheads etc, trying to ‘stick it’ :>) No one was ever critically injured. If so for Any reason, we were given a band aid and Iodine. Iodine was the punishment for being careless.

We threw our knives at trees, dirt, logs to ‘stick’ em and see who could do it best, earning our respect. We whittled animals out of pieces of wood that we carried in our pockets, while waiting for class to start, or just while sitting around with each other or alone.

We compared any ‘new’ knife with pride, as ‘new’ anything, was rare in those days before 'The Great Society'. 'Hand me downs' were far more common. Larry got new boots for Christmas. A knife pocket was sewn on the outer side. Larry was so proud of those New boots.

They were the new boots he was wearing while riding his bicycle, as he kicked the cats (Larry hated cats) in the dark…..Skunks! Those boots stunk for the rest of their life. He had to ‘wear them out’ because no new boots until the next year. Larry didn’t smell like Larry…. until his boots wore out.

My own personal Boy Scout knife, one that mom ordered for Christmas, was very special. I carried that Camp Knife for years, until I broke it, doing something not realistic for any knife. Every time I see a Boy Scout knife, I remember mom getting that special knife for me. :>) 

I had a Boy scout Axe with a sheath from one other Christmas. In excellent condition today, those are worth a few dollars. Mine was battered and used, after many camping and hiking trips. I was ‘rough on stuff’ :<(

Today the knife is wrongly considered a very irresponsible item for a 'sheltered governmental society boy' to own. Back then a personal knife was as common, as a dollar in your pocket is today. 

Totalitarian Controlled ‘progressive’ Society by Design, authoritarian mandated Safety across the USA of today, has changed this once adventuresome nation into some dis-utopian, feel good imaginary dream state, that has far more cumulative flaws than ever existed in Mark Twain’s time. Heaven, filled with adventure and knowledge, seems ever more attractive in comparison.

Enjoy life in the United States of America. ‘One Nation Under God’
and ‘Pack a Knife', a Good One, A unique, well made Knife that is of value.
 One that has character that fits your personal image.  

One added note: Leave your sharp tools home, as you prepare to board an airplane. TSA will confiscate Anything sharp, or even looks like a picture of a weapon, ever since the Muslim extremists did their little funzi on the stews and flight crews on 9-11. Now, belt buckles, belts, purses, wallets, shirts, Anything depicting any instrument or weaponry are confiscated. Nail clippers, sharp credit cards, even ties with pictures of weapons and toys with 1/4" guns in the hands of tiny soldiers are deemed a deadly threat. Sadly this is today's society... Utopia is here, Brave New World style.


 Around the home, in the garden or yard, a Sheath Knife, with fast easy access, no digging in pockets, is handier in the smaller sizes for a quick bag opening or branch clipping. 

Larger sheath knives, up to legendary 'Bowies', that by 'Batoning' can split logs, have their place in the real world. 

Everyone remembers Paul Hogan's Knife, the knife was the co-star of Crocodile Dundee.

 'The TURTLE MAN' line of Knives.  Besides Turtle Man 'Ernie Brown Jr' being a Hoot, the products are designed in USA, well made in China and very reasonably priced. Jay Leno even likes Turtle Man.

This is the Turtle Man song with dance :>)

Bowies, like Ernie's 'Thunder' or 'Lightnin' are also great for whacking a clump of grass from around a bush, or even prying out a dandelion. Handles range from exotic beauty to basic utility. Cordura nylon sheaths are utilitarian and have long life. Turtle Man's nylon sheath, is actually quite innovative as well as utilitarian. Turtle man's 'Call of the Wild Man' 3 minutes.

I personally enjoy owning several well made classical leather sheaths and knives for various purposes. Discarded, high quality, heavy 'full shank' (my preference) Butcher/Carving knives, found in charity thrift stores for a dollar or more, are fairly easily ground down, carefully profiled into serviceable Bowies. Sheaths can be fabricated as simple as home sewn Cordura (thrift store belts, luggage), or old leather belts, reworked into personal creations. Tandy Leather is great source of materials and tools. Hobby Lobby is getting well equipped with leather project paraphernalia. Print the on-line 40% discount coupon or use your smart phone when you get to the check out line.

Most good quality, full shank handles (scales) are riveted. With your personal creative imagination, being the key to creating Your Own 'Custom' made tool.... Enjoy your next project (knife 'blanks' are sold on ebay). Get skilled enough and the next step could be marketing your individualistic and extremely useful 'creations;>)

Camping trips, practicing 'Survival' prove Knives absolutely indispensable.... for Everything, even cooking and serving keeps the proper personal knife busy. Lewis & Clark's entire party would have failed without their critical knives. While camping, I sleep well every night.... with my knife under my pillow :>)

Pack a knife, you will feel better about yourself. Practice deploying (many are one handed, some are spring assisted) your knife rapidly, for even more satisfaction in case of an unpleasant, unplanned 'incident'. Check local laws. Many are 'against' You and favor the Career Repeat Offenders. After all he/she are professionals.

From years of experience, I guarantee a carry knife's personally positive, satisfying effect :>)