Friday, April 29, 2011

New Mexico-Texas-Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama-Georgia-Tennessee-Arkansas by RV

Blogger suffered an attack and this post is a bit shaky. Pictures from trip are slowly being restored.

Loaded up the basic essentials into fully prepped Thunder Pig for a month long voyage. With Violent Career Repeat Offenders encouraged and funded by the US legal system to roam among law abing citizens, Weaponry and our 2nd amendment right, is a comfortable necessity (you sleep well), when traveling alone. Unless of course you and your loved ones enjoy being 'morally superior' unarmed Martyrs (Victims). Always remember:... "When seconds count, the Police are only minutes away"..

Fact: Gary and Linda Hass were slaughtered in their RV in August 2010
  • The July Arizona prison escapees got 'em. Gary and Linda stopped at an I-40 rest area in NM, where McCluskey and his friends got 'the drop' on them. Their charred remains were found in the ashes of their burned to the ground RV, just off I-40 near Santa Rosa NM. The 61 yr old childhood sweethearts were on their annual trip from Oklahoma to Colorado.

    Remembering Gary and Linda, keeping 'Situational Awareness' in mind, we left ABQ NM on Friday afternoon at 2pm, later than planned... as usual. This trip through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and return to New Mexico, started by Taking the route east through the canyon on I-40, to Cline's Corners then turned off I-40 to the south and down toward Roswell NM.

    No wind, fuel consumption low which is very good, not tired yet, so passed our sometimes campsite at Walmart..Sam's Club, and continued on through Roswell onto truck route, turning East toward Texas State line. Plains Texas
  • Population 1,500, looked inviting at dusk for a night parked in the High School parking lot. After a healthy :>) Dairy Queen (every small town of significance in Texas has a DQ) meal of chicken and steak fingers dipped in gravy, we settled in for the Friday (Saturday, no school) night. There is a city park located a few blocks south.

    Morning after breakfast, rolling on to Brownfield and La Mesa, turn south through Big Spring Texas
  • (countless wind turbines for miles on end, solar farm to follow), where we usually spend a little time, sometimes the night camped at Walmart. :>)

    Arrived at San Angelo Texas
  • late afternoon, fueled at Walmart north end of town for $3.61 per gal. Drove to Knickerbocker dr and turned onto Fisherman's rd (across from Mathis Field (San Angelo Regional air terminal... radar ball) following Fisherman's road into Spring Creek City Park. Registered for $12 at marina store, drove to camping spot in the Spring Creek city park at Lake Nasworthy, San Angelo Texas
  • In spite of the weekend with families camping, nice quiet evening in our regular spot on the southwest end near the channel.

    Ducks and Turkey Vultures along with a few Squirrels to check out the shoreline, made it a pleasant stay. Have not seen the prowling Wild Hogs or turkeys of years past. The Alpacas are still on the opposite shore (some sheared), as well as the Donkeys that accompany them. No white peacocks for over three years.

    After breakfast, rolling along the next morning toward our old favorite 'Ink's Lake', in the Texas State Parks system
  • Hopefully no problem getting a night during the Sunday to Thursday window. The Texas State Park reservation system has all sites taken during weekends, and after school is out for the summer. Even school 'breaks' fill this beautiful park with families.

    Ink's Lake Texas State Park:

  • in the Texas Hill Country is no question one of our favorite places. Weekends, no reservation?..good luck. Try Buchanon Lake, Black Rock park
  • or Canyon of the Eagles
  • For a back-up, we frequently must revert to Walmart camping :>)

    After seeing the large amount of usefull information available on a Texas State Park website, now check out a popular New Mexico State Park website
  • Notice anything? Did you see any easily accessed, worthwhile information you could use for directions? Fees? (NM defiantly just says YES) Facilities? Number and type of sites? Setting details? If you desire info on a NM State Park, Google search a blogger that has camped there. You will learn far more, especially if they post pictures. even You Tube?

  • New Mexico is a bottom feeder of states with intelligent bureaucrats (as well as voters). They obviously do not have internet site programing skills. They are more interested in touting 'diversity', and 'spirit of the anasazi', than serving (attracting) visitors. That is one major reason we RV camp and tour Texas in spite of NM's abundant 'Natural' beauty as noted in our previous NM camping travels

  • The excellent Texas State Park system works at every level to ensure the visitors a pleasant stay so they will return. NM just offers a few rough, primitive parks (by other state's standards), not well maintained or staffed. The people of NM know not of what is offered just across the state lines, so flock into the crowded sites available as happenstance.

    Fortunately we aquired a site on this weekday, bought another Annual Texas State Park Pass, which waves entrance fees, plus includes big discounts on overnights which are approx $20. Colorado RV parks are in $40 to $50 range.. each night. Overhang trees caused a decision on a U turn and forced us to back the rig. No No with tow, but worked ...this time.. Co-pilot maneuvered into #48 with my hand signals. Motorhome nose about 30 feet overlooking the water (sporadic tpwd wifi :>).. Our fav is treesy site #43 (no wifi:<( where we can fish from the doorway, but alas it was occupied.

    Water, fishing, squirrels, deer and Ducks are the attractions, as well as lots of Coots (sort of ducks). Geese, ducks and lots of basking turtles on the rocks and logs around Devil's Waterhole (pictured in link, accessible by hike or rental canoe). A large lighted fishing pier is handy. This is a Corps of Engineers manmade reservoir, as All lakes in Texas,. except for Caddo near the Louisiana State line (planned destination) which was naturally formed by an over 100 mile long flood log jam in the 1700's, and enhanced by the New Madrid Fault uplift in the 1800's.

    The wind blew, raising whitecaps on Ink's Lake, so rental canoe was not an option this stay. Buchanon Lake is the upper in a chain of once flood prone rivers, now reservoirs protecting Downstream towns and cities. Inks Lake is the second below Buchanon's hydro-electric power plant. LBJ Lake feeds off of Ink's dam and spillway.

    In past years timing, the birds were more plentiful, including the migratory 'Scizzortails' doing their aerobatic dance with each other. Fishing is always a free sport welcome to those holding a Texas State Park day pass.

    We did a side trip with the Jeep into nearby Burnett checking out the antique'y malls and having a Chicken Express snack before leaving the area. There is a very nice H.E.B store
  • (One of 'the' greatest store chains in the USA) where provisions are reasonable. H.E.B's Cafe Ole
  • is one of the best tasting coffee blends...ever. I bought about 8 bags of 'Texas Pecan'. they often give away their Teas, or International Delight creamers with each 12 oz bag. Online orders available. After leaving Ink's, we motor homed along toward the east. A rust colored Cardinal flew into our nose near Palestine Texas. The MH won... :<(

    Palestine Railroad Park:
    No longer a Texas State Park, but nice as the Palistine Texas end of Texas State Railroad Park
  • . The restored railroad runs from Rusk to Palestine. The beautifully restored station with five steam locomotives, is located at this park. Special events feature smaller 5" ? scale 'Live Steam' locomotives in the grassy area near the 'water only' camping sites. These small handbuilt mechanical marvels are weighng at almost a thousand pounds, so a sloped loading ramp at truck bed level is mandatory to access the big looped track through the field.

    Other end of the Texas State Railroad 25 miles away, Rusk
  • is the prison town named after our friend's historic family. Rusk took charge of the Mexican General Santa Ana, after the historic battle of 'San Jacinto', which followed the battle of the Alamo. The words 'Remember The Alamo' were notoriously yelled out as a much outnumbered army of Texans defeated the far more powerful Mexican army. Texas became a Republic after that battle. Thomas Jefferson Rusk signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. I venture to assume they are in no mood to return it.... no matter what Mexico says today.

    We were the only occupants of this railroad themed RV park on Wednesday night. At $13 dropped in the honor box, it was a quiet evening. I hiked the trails around the pond and prowled the train station and facilities until after dark. Reminded me of my night prowling of the railroads as a little kid.

    One steam engine is a real whopper over twice as large as the others, that weigh only 82 tons. A 2-10-4 LIMA at 224 tons, lords over the others though not used. Thomas the Train or Polar Express is the theme at times, for this system of meticulously restored railroad memorabilia. This is a 'must see' tourist destination for Steam Train fans
  • as the large parking facility clues. The pull-through sites are handy and water was nearby with a dump site at station end of loop.
    Possible next trip, the companion Railroad park at Rusk
  • (other end of the Texas State Railroad line) looks good for overnight, has a small fishing lake and more amenities than Palestine park.

    Next stop is Texas state park's
    Martin Creek Lake State Park:

  • Thursday night stay on the lakeshore of a locally pit mined, soft coal power plant cooling reservoir. It is warmer in winter, so fish and wildlife really like it. BTW the power plant emits No visible emmissions. News media will never picture that one, unless of course it is putting off condensation steam in cold weather. In that case they will happily (and ignorantly as usual) portray it as bad stuff for the gullible masses.

    This park features several cabins and lots of campsites including a somewhat primitive camping island with footbridge access. Fishing pier allows the Texas state park fee visitors to fish free along the shoreline (not from boats). I walked the interesting shoreline until after dusk. Low water levels exposed a floor of small mussels. Guess the warm water appeals to them also. Found a long lost pocket knife in the shallow water shoreline below the island walkway. Returned it to workable condition as is my nature. The long submerged cellphone accompanying it, was a waterlogged piece of technology not worth saving.

    Countless dozens of circling vultures over the water, indicates thermals to carry the large birds high overhead. They love to fly like all birds. Soaring is their preferred sport. Feasting on a bloody road kill is second best.
    Morning starts us moving ever Eastward, closer towards the Louisiana state line and Caddo Lake State Park

  • Living on the Bayou @ Backwater Jacks's RV Park :>)

  • We are now parked with the nose of the MH pointing at the fishing boat channel, Cypress River Bayou about 30ft away. Between us and a few other lonesome wanderers, we had the park to ourselves. One more just pulled in at dusk. I am on BACKWATER JACK'S sufficient wifi, having a cold Negra Modelo for relaxation and inspiration. The owner's daughter just brought our folded clothes from the dryer. What a nice place. They even have a rec room for rainy days.

    Our planned Caddo Lake State Park in Texas
  • reported weekend RV sites filled and reserved a few months earlier, so they helpfully suggested we try nearby BACKWATER JACK'S
  • Good choice, no amenities like canoes, costs a little more at $25, but Level 'pull throughs', and has 30/50 amp, full hookups and wifi. A nice family owned RV park.

    I hiked out the swampy acreage surrounding the park, also the dirt track along the side of the bayou one night. Spooky houses, some on tall pilings. Many abandoned, some occupied, but looked like they don't care for visitors. Interesting folks live around here. say the least.

    Many movies are made in the area, some dating back years. Wife said it looks just like the movie portrayals. Lots of cypress trees with their multi trunks standing like big feet in the water. This whole establishment was under four feet of water two years ago. It floods for about 8 months at a time every so often for various reasons, such as hurricanes and heavy rains. We are on the Texas Louisiana state line. Big hawks and their nemesis crows keep things interesting.

    Hard for this family to run an RV park under water. Took them a long time to restore it. Fast boats of every description run the tea stained Cypress River in front of us. Fishing must be good, Backwater Jack's even has a launch ramp. Supposed to be gators in the water. Rare Spoonbill Paddlefish (cats) are seen here. Alligator Gar is fairly common, as well as Bass and everything else one can imagine. A day trip to nearby Jefferson was fun, even though it was Sunday and not fully open for business.

    Historic Jefferson Texas
  • is famous as a port and rail terminal. Jay Gould, one of the famous developers of the USA (one of the Liberal news reported Robber Barons) proclaimed Jefferson would never grow without 'his' railroad meeting 'his' demands. In spite of his dire prediction, they did grow. So much growth that they now exhibit his fully restored personal rail car (It's really big) in front of the restored Historic Excelsior House Hotel
  • where he made his dire prediction..

    Historic Jefferson which grew after The Louisiana Purchase
  • did suffer some setbacks, such as the destruction downstream of the 200 mile log jam dam on the Red River, begun by Steamboat Captain Henry Miller-Shreve (Shreveport). His goal was to open the Red River while shortening the 40 mile Oxbow of the Mississippi for steamboat navigation. Today Jefferson, with it's pleasant weather, is an Antique shopper's mecca during tourist season. Co-pilot bought an egg plate for Easter :>) Shreveport La. is our tomorrow destination.

    Shreveport Louisiana
  • is actually quite nice if you enjoy cities.
    As we approached the newly developed outskirts, stopped in at the 'Firehouse Sub's for a good sandwich created by nice young folks. They have been open for about seven years. Louisiana's highways are not all pleasant and smooth, as we discovered along the 100 mile causeway approaching Port Arthur Texas some years ago. This trip, we did not stop to visit/tour in Louisiana. It was only a quick stop along the way to Mississippi toward Alabama.

    Passed a monster Mercedes Benz factory yesterday along side I-20 not far from Tuscaloosa. It is very modern, the size of a very large busy town, with it's main buildings spreading for over a mile in each direction. Partially hidden by the trees, it was only noted by the big circle with the distinctive Y in the middle. The southern states have taken over most all industry from the tax, restriction and regulation obsessed rust belt. Three car factories are located in Alabama including KIA, The southern states have not ever embraced 'closed shop' forced unionism like has killed, and is still strangling and stagnating, 'the rust belt' northern states.

    Last trip we passed Toyota and Honda southern style factories in similar tree enveloped settings. Each surrounding area was extremely prosperous with shopping malls and beautiful homes. Shreveport Louisiana is sprawling. The newest area already has malls and restaurants.

    Stark contrast to old Vicksburg Mississippi

  • The sadly deteriorating aspect of a historically significant city is noted in Vicksburg. The old mansions and victorian downtown are weathering away under the seemingly endless 'Reconstruction' punctuated by conflicts following the civil war. Note that the Union North held up Vicksburg as it's 'model' of reconstruction.

    The union north 'gave' defeated, once prosperous Vicksburg to the repatriated and newly freed southern blacks after the battle. The entire city management was taken away from the business owners and residents. It was then turned over to the 20 thousand blacks including police officers and administrators.

    With the heavily vacant downtown and surrounding hilly streets, now almost reminiscent of Detroit in smaller scale, I note a definite 'freeze' in history. In fairness, many downtowns are dead or dying in the USA for various reasons, political, taxation and economics related. Dependency acclimated Vicksburg is promoting itself as a 'Progressive' city, dsperately starved for 'development' (someone else's funding...lots of it).

    The only real draw for us to Vicksburg is the outstanding Vicksburg National Military Park
  • and the partially restored Ironclad Cairo
  • That alone is well worth the visit. The drive through this beautiful park is over 16 miles. The number of states involved in the battles, individual encampments and eventual seige along the eight mile frontlines, is marked by hundreds of monuments along the entire drive. This intensely ravined and hilly surrounding battlefield, commanded by northern union General U.S. Grant is probably the most complex and technological of the war.

    Tunneling, log and earthen ramparts and construction to hold seige by the union held 'low ground', is evident everywhere. Grant's troops even tried unsuccessfully to divert the Mississippi through a bypass channel. A museum is on site with narrated film describing the four month event resulting in the eventual starvation and surrender of Vicksburg on July 4th 1863 by Lt Col John C Pemberton. The total combined cost of 20,000 soldiers (significantly many officers) killed and wounded during the conflict.

    The notorious union Ironclad 'Cairo' is on an impressive display with it's full complement of artifacts in it's own museum, attributed to it's fast sinking and 100 yr preservation under mud. Cairo is considered the very best preserved of the few Ironclads patterned after the infamous Merrimac (battled the union Monitor) remaining.

  • After our one night's stay on a hillside at the former old KOA, now called Battlefield Campground, we headed out toward Alabama on a non-stop drive across Louisiana on the beautifully tree lined highways. Wind was our companion as a storm front approached from the south. Mileage was low due to the hills demanding frequent downshifts and winds. Fuel stops are not more than 500 miles.

    Tannehill Historical Iron Works State Park:

  • Arrived at dusk. Alabama park Ranger guided us into a large site under the trees as he described the storm warning. "Sireeens" he said, so expect rainfall and wind. He was right, we hunkered down for the night to the pleasant sound of the rain.
    Late morning, we registered. Slept until almost 9am. After senior discount of 15%, it is only $20 per night.

    Found out that 'Trade Days' (big flea mkt of over 300 participants), are scheduled for this weekend, so now we are registered to stay through Sat night. Tannehill is 'the' park for families. Kids are riding bicycles all over during weekends and when school is out. This RV park is big, beautiful and treesy with a nice stream running through.

    All kinds of birds are plentiful. Bluebirds, tiny Finches, Red Headed Wodpeckers, Cardinals, even Red Winged Blackbirds with their unique call, was my morning greeting. Squirrels and Crows are everywhere. Ducks slept under our rig during last night's rain. They waddled out to greet me, as I spread a little birdseed under our dinette window. A small baby Squirrel is sampling the birdseed. Will have to buy some peanuts in the shell for later.

    After a couple of days driving around Birmingham and checking out the stuff we are intersted in, we found out that besides the Talladega raceway event this weekend, There is the big Alabama 'A' games. The trade Days here at the RV park, with it's thousands of participants, is adding another traffic mess to contend with on Sunday.... when they all culminate.

    There is only one major highway leading out from here, and it merges with the second major hwy to form a giant traffic jam as it nears Birmingham. Add the threat of tornados in this area on Saturday, and we decided to hunker down in this low spot among the southern Appalacians.

    We chose to not be involved in a stop and go traffic jam with this coach. Sunday night and leave on Monday, is our additional choice. We are here for a week on Sunday. What a beautiful pleasant place to be stuck. I hiked around a little today in the great weather, and tomorrow will include more. The museum here is too large and technical (see pics) to see in one bite
  • The attractive lady at the door said she will let me back in tomorrow. It's only a dollar for seniors, worth lots more.

    Tannehill started the Birmingham steel industry (Pittsburg of the south) with it's charcoal fired Pig Iron ovens in 1830. In 1865 the Federal forces deemed it necessary to destroy the entire industry, if uncompromisingly winning the civil war was to happen. A force of over 13,000 Federal Cavalry, including the attack on the Tannehill Ironworks led by Wilson, speedily overwhelmed all of the the Alabama iron works, traveling over 300 miles in less than 30 days, they destroyed all of the factories and iron facilities.

    The civil war was a major turning point in technology and industrialization, leading to the United States soon dominating the entire world. The civil war was begun, using horsedrawn smoothbore Napoleon canons, barely effective in short distances for hundreds of years, and ended four years later with the automaticaly swiveled guns with rifled barrels of all future weaponry, accurate for miles.

    Telegraphy and electricity became common. Major medical advancements such as 'embalming', modern machining methods and advances in everything too numerous to list. Wooden ships were at the time, the basic form of naval navigation. The iron age leading to the age of steel (alloy) and the resultant steam engine changed all of that.

    The submarine (the Confederate Hunley, currently being preserved) instantly made surface ships vulnerable like never before. The greatest navy in the world, the British, witnessed the Merrimac (previously the Federal Virginia re-built by the Confederate south), battle the Monitor of the federal union, and declared that all of it's ships were no longer of military effectiveness. Photography did not exist before the civil war.
    War is the indisputable innovator in history.
    Utopian dreaming 'peaceniks' are loathe to admit it.....

    Tannehill storms:
    SIREEEENS (Alabama talk) are a blowin' and some folks are headin' into the laundry building here at the RV park. Wife is watchin' the tornado's on the TEEE VEEE. Not any of them real close...yet. We stayed here in the coach watchin' the other folks as they slowly dribbled back to their RV's after the SIREEEENS stopped.

    The thunder sounds further away now. Guess the real storm just missed us. Dead quiet ...for now. Tuscaloosa got hit and then 'Really Hit' after we left this area. Talladega Raceway folks are campin' all around the track and infield. Saturday and Sunday are their exciting times.

    Whoops one more thunder boomer. I had to patch up the awning, sewing it with doubled monofilament fishing line, then duct taping it to the roof. It is the roller awning that covers the bedroom slide out. Dam thing flaps in the wind as we drive, and tears. Sun rots the thing between coach and roller where it is exposed to the UV. Awning company sewed it last time, after I removed it myself and took it to them. PIA..

    The design is poor and leaves the exposed fabric vulnerable. Better engineering would have linked armor covering the last exposed foot of the rolled up 'Sunbrella' instead of the semi-shroud now in place. That's the way the window awnings are, no reason Holiday Rambler didn't carry through on the slide out awnings. Good thing I always carry an aluminum extension ladder in the basement compartment. Got it done just in time for the quasi-faux-storm.
    I only hear the Red Winged Blackbirds just before the storms...interesting.
    Whopsie another thunder roll...close.

    Sat morn, sunshine and 'Trade Days' at Tannehill. Found a few treasures. This is a big deal around these parts. 300 spaces to browse and bargain.
    Walked back over to the informative Tannehill Museum today
  • At $2.00 it is a great deal. :>) I found out more about this iron district. In 1840 there were only about 5,000 inhabitants....of Chicago. The pipes for their water system were either hand hollowed logs, or 'staved' pipes. The iron pipes and iron cover plates from Alabama started making those old wooden ones obsolete. Many of the old iron pipes are still in use today. Waaay over 100 years and still in perfectly useable condition?

    The Rio Rancho district in NM near ABQ is not even 40 years old and has had to replace many of it's plastic pipes at least twice already. Now they, along with ABQ are having to replace a major part of it's plastic water infrastructure ....again.

    Wow we are sure in 'Progress' are we not?

    The huge for it's time Birmingham
  • Alabama Ensley blast furnaces
  • eventually leading to prosperous Steel and Iron manufacturing
  • US Steel was the USA's major 'rail' supplier until the shutdown in the 80's when they started Going Green and hoping for miracles
  • Countless thousands of workers were left without jobs, forcing a fleeing north of the workforce in the 1960 to 1980 period. BTW I still notice while traveling across the USA, iron manhole covers cast in 'Neenah Wisconsin' back when Wisconsin was 'industrial'..... before it was 'Green'....

    Tannehill was a major iron supplier to the Confederacy (cannons and armor) until Wilson's Raiders (Cavalry Union Federals) burned and destroyed it in 1865. Not much left to rebuild after that. It (one 'blast' furnace)was restored to demonstration level for the Bi-centenial USA in 1976. Ran some Bicentinial iron pieces (cannons:>) then shutdown as a National Monument to iron engineering in the USA.

    A dam held water upstream to run through a sluice to a water wheel to drive a big fan. The fan provided the forced air to 'Blast' the furnace and drastically raise the temperature. All of that in the mid 1800's. It was the 'Bessemer' process used in Pennsylvania just a couple of years before. A large Dotterer steam engine was also used in the 1800's. (Beautifully Rebuilt model on display in museum).

    The original 1830 Iron ore melting furnace was a 'Bloomery', where no air pressure was used. That iron had many impurities (slag) which was 'forged' out of the iron as it was being 'forged' (pounded) into tools and other useful items. The presence of iron ore,, quarry stone (to build the furnaces), trees providing Wood for charcoal (fire), limestone, (flux to remove slag), Water to power the wheels and cams, to repeatedly raise the hammer mill pounding on the anvil, 'forging' the iron. Water powered a 'grist', milling grain, a cotton gin and spinning wheels to make cotton thread. All of this in one handy location in the hills. Voila...Historic Tannehill. :>)

    We have been here 7 days and still finding surprises. Weekends are the ultimate kids days. Everywhere there are kids. A really well equipped playground is filled with laughing children. The trails are used by bicycle riders as well as hikers. The many historic cabins are reconstructed as rentals for campers and groups.

    The little store is friendly, usually open. Trade Days (flea market)cater to the weekenders once a month. Restrooms and showers are scattered in various parts of the park. A small train circles the large park connecting the far end Boyscout Camp (flea mkt site) to the center. Streams are flowing and fishing is good (free for kids) due to the Game and Fish dept stocking it. Kids are playing ball wherever they find an open space, even on hillsides.. :>)

    I can not imagine those Engineers back in the 1800's. They were amazing, to develope this entire project with the financial assistance of their many 'Greedy' (today's liberal's term) supporters and gambling dreamers of their time.

    Just as today, many of the financial developers lost all, risking on the gamble, never to regain their fortunes. So much for the reputed 'Greed' of their dreams,....... without which we would still be in caves. Hopefully the liberal hated 'Greed', despite being under liberal leftist (new name, 'Progressive') brain washing attack, is still in play for the world and the USA

    Chattanooga Tennessee:

  • Our Holiday Travel Park
  • RV campground is home for a few nights. Several interesting stops around the area including the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, with it's train cars to rent for the night and also diner cars for snacks or full meals. The streets around Chattanooga are following history's twisty trails with little recourse for poor planning in our own exploration. The state line with Georgia is blurry in this area.
    The Chickamauga Chattanooga Battlefield National Park and monument
  • on the Georgia side, take up more time due to the extensive displays and museum theater describing the battles. The massive donated gun collection is a wonderful piece of history, impressing even Co-pilot. Rosecrans and Bragg do not come across as especially brilliant in spite of shared West Point credentials. Good fortune, bravery and circumstance were the most influential aspects for victory day by day, in the many separate stages of warfare on this deadly site.

    This is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. This entire southern states area will have commemoration marking each battle and countless noteworthy events for the next four years. "The South will rise Again".

    Ringold Georgia:

  • A side trip or two to nearby Ringold was in our plans, so using Chattanooga as our base, we did our business ride there in the Jeep. Found some treasures at a source that co-pilot uses for odds and ends to sell in her antiquey space of 'The Antique Connection' on east central back in ABQ. We decided to return to Ringold and pick up one more treasure before leaving the area.

    A small 'drive up' bar B Q joint near the Sonic on the western edge of town, proved so wonderful that we bought another pound for travel meals. Got word by business email today that little Ringold really got hit by the Tornado cluster that wreaked havoc on it's trek through the southern states on way toward Virginia. We dodged those storms for all of the trip. Hope that the little BBQ joint survived.

    Tennessee, Arkansas dash to Texas:
    Leaving our Holliday trav-L-park in the early morning, we have Been driving about 400 miles per day during the evasive run to outflank the many storms across the far, so good. We zigzagged Tennesee up and down for about 300 miles at 45 mph on it's back country highways. Saw the rural hilly Tennesee in the process. Used too much fuel by never getting up to cruise speed and staying in lower gears. Disturbing scenery of scattered poverty between islands of prosperity afforded by manufacturing. This scene was repeated during the many days through sections of the south. Makes us wish to win a billion dollar lottery and start worthwhile businesses across the entire area.

    Only a few areas are prosperous in stark contrast. The GM (union) plant town of Spring Hill Tennessee
  • is way out of the normal for this area. No way the rest of the rural areas with their accustomed 'dependency' lifestyle on subsistance welfare can anywhere near compare. Maybe if everyone was union it would make things equal? At least that is the dream of 'Progressives's that only think equal is everyone wealthy and not stuck sinking into unemployed poverty.

    One of many noticeable examples, Politically influential Little Rock Arkansas
  • is prosperous in healthcare and educational facilities, public sector jobs primarily including the big federally funded highway interchanges. Several noteworthy private sector businesses contribute to the economy. The majority of jobs apparent are federally funded along large areeas of the southern states with voting blocks being catered to by their politicians. The car manufacturers bring wealth into the islands of plenty, sparsely situated along the corridors.

    Texas is a another contrast. It's juggernaught construction and manufacturing power is illustrated by the endless count of trucks headed for Texas. We observed them on the highways carrying steel in plates, rolls, pipes, iron support beams and cables to be used in making the nations industrial power run. Their production of food to satisfy our hungry nation and for export, is legendary.

    Forest products are a source of income through the wet southeastern areas. Lots of log trucks hauling the rapidly growing 'piney woods' to the mills, are common. Fiber Optic communication is being buried all along the nation's highways. Foreign owned Toll Roads demanding massive amounts of condemend 'Right of Way' are another little known but noticeable addition to our dependency addicted nation's infrastructure.

    Noticed a rapidly degrading contrast to the subsidized rural as well. Put anything that was once new and shiny, out in back of the shed, and the earth rapidly takes it back into it's base molecular structure. East Texas as well as Louisiana has countless cars, trucks, boats, campers and once proudly aquired whatevers, being rapidly devoured by the undergrowth (including Kudzu vine). This includes homes not maintained due to shortage of funds. They fast become unrecognizeable derelicts within a surprisingly short period.

    David Crockett State Park Tennessee:

  • Was an interesting park to locate. The sign and entrance was within a major highway bridge re-construction. After passing, turning around (no easy task) and nearly re-passing the entrance, we finally got into the park. Hilly and treesy, it reminds us of what the frontier looked like in American legend Davy Crockett's time.

    We stopped at the office and paid our $20. Drove into the RV section of the park per map, picked a site to back into, checked on another, then picked yet another. Level is not always easy to do in a long rig. Water and electric were common, with a dump site at the entrance. The fee to this busy state park includes a paper tag to place on the post of the site we occupied.

    After a complex process of undocking the Jeep and getting the rig into campsite position, we noticed a young boy and his brother were watching our maneuvers from the trees. He wore a coonskin cap and carried a good quality green and black, wood and metal, toy Musket rifle that he got while visiting Disneyland. He had seen the movie and knew the songs.

    I told him that his rifle was great in detail (had seen them online), mentioning to him that it could fire caps. In these politically (in-)correct times, to see a kid play with a gun as my childhood encouraged, gives me hope. The hard won Free spirit of our American heritage is not dead.

    At a nearby tent encampment, of which there were many at this park and others, I found and complimented his mother and father for encouraging their sons to understand American History...all of it. She told me 'The Alamo' is on their future trip plans. I left her my copy of American Rifleman, while mentioning the Youth projects of the NRA.

    A very nice evening spent in Crockett's hills, where I got in a fair amount of hiking before dark. Fair TV reception showed the path of the constantly moving storms, for our next days evasive action. Quiet campground, slept soundly. Awoke, prepared breakfast. Drove the Jeep into nearby Laurenceburg. David Crockett Museum was closed for remodel. Returned after checking out the town. Docked the Jeep prepped for departure, upon which we dumped the holding tanks and hit the highway leaving Tennessee for the Texas State line.

    The storms are staying to the east of I-35 for now. That was our dash line, as we constantly battled the wind. It was off our port bow at approximately 37 mph for most of the days now, resulting in the worst fuel economy of 5 to 6 mpg at 50 mph max in 3rd and fourth gear. Fuel saving Overdrive was out of the equation. Steering was an endless battle with the wheel cranked several degrees to the left just to stay on the highway. Our new tires lost some rubber during these last few hundred miles.

    The Corps of Engineers Atlanta Texas State park
  • just inside the Texas state line from Arkansas, was nice and treesy with the 20,300 acre, 170 miles of shoreline, Wright Patman manmade lake (that's what the Corps of Engineers does very well), as all but one of the lakes in Texas (Caddo Lake, the exception). The camp sites among the big trees were excellent, fishing looked good but the mosquitos were getting after me. Hiked the area for a couple of hours or more and talked to a few folks trying their fishing luck, then returned to the coach after dark. Looking for a quiet night before heading deeper into Texas in the morning.

    Texas is now our relative haven as we had previously battled our way out of storm targeted Alabama (really devastated Tuscaloosa) just after we left that area, weaving up then down through Tennessee, across Arkansas), then heading ever southwestward back into and across familiar Texas.

    Ink's Lake state park:
    Once again is our favored home for these two nights of rest among the ducks, geese, and deer. Fishing may be in the cards today. Rental canoes look inviting but co-pilot is having knee problems. Temps are supposed to aproach high 90's now with seasonal and varied annual drought apparent. Funny leaving Tennesee with rivers at flood stage, fighting our weaving path between tornados, and into 'drought' within 800 highway miles and two days.

    After leaving Ink's Lake, Texas State Park once more,
    Late afternoon, driving lots of miles, we arrived at
    San Angelo again and our fav City park at Lake Nasworthy:
    No internet, so just hiked around a bit and watched the Alpacas, horses, sheep, tree climbing goats and turkey vultures. At one time in past visits, a white peacock would spread his tail for us.. The little black rock squirrels were not visible but their holes are still there.

    Last trip, this park had a bad infestation of fire ants
  • In a swarm, they sting and kill anything they find helpless on the ground. They are miniscule in size around this area. Their little mounds are like finely ground turkish coffee. They leave long recurring pustules after administering their circular sting cluster. We found that After Bite, Clorox, Ammonia or anti-bacterial hand cleaner quiets the sting.... if repeated applications are used immediately. I carry pocket pen applicators I have filled with each, just in case.

    No wild hogs or turkeys to be seen this evening at Lake Nasworthy. Turkeys also lay eggs on the ground, so are vulnerable to fire ants. They blind a newborn calf if they drop anywhere near the fire ants bed. Not good critters, but the cotton growers like 'em. They seriously destroy the Boll Weavil, so less insecticide is required. No sign of the fire ants this trip, but that doesn't mean they are gone. The larger native ants were plentiful which is a good sign that the fire ants may be on the decline here. We imagine that the camping tenters told the city to get some Amdro or Extinguish on 'em.

    We browsed the thrift stores for treasures to recycle, then left after a fill up of fuel at Sam's Club for $3.61. Ate a Chick Fillet lunch near the Sam's. The wind was fighting us most of the way through Texas, so 5 to 6 mpg was the best.. Big Spring was passed by for La Mesa. Lost our planned RV park at La Mesa. Turned around the blocks looking, but no luck, so continued on to Plains Texas where we snacked at the DQ (every Texas town has a DQ... if it is a thriving metropolis) before driving on to...

    Roswell New Mexico:
    Continuing wind on highway leading from San Angelo, No quiet air until nearing Roswell as the sun set (Alien Capital of the USA). Ended the day at well over 300 miles.

    Watching TV before in bed, we saw news about Tuscaloosa Alabama being destroyed. We had been camped close by Tuscaloosa for a week, and had stopped in there for provisions. We had almost parked in the Walmart in Tuscaloosa one evening near other RVs, but it was too warm and humid as the tornado fueled storms approached. Fortunately we had chosen to go on to Tannehill State Park down in the valley, for our quieter retreat.

    Nice quiet night at the Roswell Sam's Club:
    Got in one evening 'nighthawk' prowl around, before bed. Very quiet night sleep, awoke early, sausage McBiscuits from Walmart for breakfast before another wind racing dash toward home terminal. Put in 8 gallons of fuel before leaving Roswell, so to be insured of enough to make ABQ. The wind blew and we needed it.

    This trip we changed our usual route and headed through Willard and Estancia into Moriarty, hugging the eastern lee of the Manzano mountains where it was less windy. Still hit some fierce wind getting there from Roswell. Saw a lot of hawks along the highway. The tall power lines with cross arms are attractive to them, but often deadly. Crows are numerous and 'debating' the hawks for air space. Cattle with antelope are eagerly following the 'hay drop' trucks.

    Always enjoyable to retrace old routes. Numerous Freight trains on tracks alongside the highway, some loaded with coal, many 'piggybacks', but most loaded with shipping containers double stacked in 'well cars', were plentiful during this trip. Business (imports) must be good. Finally got through the canyon in light traffic, into ABQ and Costco for fill up. $3.61 just like at San Angelo Sam's Club. Fuel avg increased in price about 15 cents per gal over the start of the one month trip. Stopped in at Carl's Jr for our turkey burger with 1 chocolate malt, then home.

    Unload chores:
    take in the traveling provisions and then dump the holding tanks. I had previously rigged a dump line to the clean-out at the house, so I could do the job right. I had poured in a bottle of dish washing detergent after last dump, to clean out the gray water holding tank while doing the rock and roll on the highway. It came out as a sudsy blue rinse (I had previously rigged a clear tube section of 3" Valtera with their redundant knife valve, to watch the interesting? process as I dump :>). Numerous small chunks swirled out, so must have gotten rid of any build-up in the lines and valves. Always leave a little soapy water to keep the valves wet during storage. Don't want them stuck shut causing a problem on next trip.

    Coach battery bank of four 6vdc golf cart batteries was topped off with distilled water, 1/2 gallon of it. Wife's hand mirror lets the water level be easily seen while my squeeze bottle transferred the water through a 1/4" plastic tube. Turned on the maintenance smart charger to bring the mix to saturation. The original 650 CCA chassis battery lasted to bring us home. Two days later it was dead, after 7 years and over 58,000 miles. New Interstate class 78 battery with 85 month pro-rate and 800 CCA from Sam's Club took it's place.

    Covered the front cabin windows with snap on Sunscreen covers for storage. Saves the cab from UV attack in the NM sun. The ADCO covers do not last long enough to make tham usefull. UV attacks everything in NM sun. A good wax job seems to work as well as anything. Eagle One is a fast spray on 'Nano Wax' easy to apply. Good products and reasonable prices.

    Found out on this trip that the small blue 'in-line' hose filter that Walmart sells for $16 in the camper supply dept, is excellent. Rigged it into drinking water tap line under the sink, with fittings from Lowe's. Better taste... if we drink from, or make coffee from the fresh water holding tank or park water. . Far better than the expensive specialized filters sold at the RV stores.

    Looked up at slide-out awning and noticed a missing left housing cover. Website for Carefreee of Colorado showed the parts. Called for number and was referred to ('Rocky Mountain RV') local dealer. Ordered hand sized plastic cover for $26. Carefree said that this awning was not a factory installed unit? Like they ship out finished RV's without slide-out covers? I seriously doubt her ...guess.?

    Finally on this home computer with a real mouse, instead of 'mouse pad'. Home Internet is like lightning, in comparison to the slow, meagerly powered wifi's we dealt with along the voyage. Really appreciate our modern amenities when they are restricted for awhile.

    Fetched a beer from the fridge (Wasatch Polygamy Porter... "Why have just one"?:>). Now for some recapping of the trip and posting this whole mess to the blog for posterity. No one reads them because they are lengthy, but so what. Keeps my brain active, alziemers at bay, and that's a good thing right...right? :>)...

    This USA is the greatest nation on earth. The freedom to travel for almost 4000 miles with no war lords setting up road blocks every few miles, is appreciated by this Freedom loving family. 'CHANGE' is not always a good thing, especially in 'One Nation Under God'.

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