Monday, June 08, 2015

Holiday Rambler RV USA trip 2015

Holiday Rambler RV USA trip 2015

  • After leaving ABQ NM in the spring of 2015, following the usual preparations including oil change and lubrication of the rig, (still crawling around underneath, this time with a new, black, Harbor Freight pneumatic grease gun:>), 
  • we are presently, substantially over one thousand miles from home, camped in the outlying suburbs of Chattanooga Tennessee. Holiday Traveler RV park near the Georgia state line.

  • The last week was spent traveling along amongst the thousands of other interstate trucks. Even taking a few Old RT 66 highways off the beaten path and staying at Walmarts overnight ‘camps’ for the most part. We basically ‘kept them doggies rollin’, only pausing to sleep or check out a fast food stop.

  •  Branson Missouri was a great stopover, camped at Table Rock State Reservoir RV Park along the river. A complete Branson visit with two fantastic shows on afternoons enticed us to stay two nights in this tourist mecca that really takes much longer to see in it’s entirety.

  • Visiting copilot’s long lost cuzzin in Missouri and her Blue Grass violin playin’ husband, was a fine way to restore memories. 
  • Watched a crime program that featured her kin from San Saba Texas. The extended family youngsters (nephew and grandson) snuffed out 84 year old Bonnie Harkey in 2012, to get her money.

  • All that they got was life in prison. Bonnie Harkey’s once prosperous ranch land and almond orchards adjacent to Tommy Lee Jones ranch, is now in the hands of real estate agents ……and lawyers..

  • While in this area of Georgia, not far from fun to explore Chattanooga, a brief trip to Copilot’s favorite chicken farm, a business that desperately became an importer of antique reproductions after their chickens all died, always results in a few treasures for her little mall space.

  • We now have to figure out how to duct tape two large tin chickens to the top of the car…. or coach…. for the trip home….. They are about five feet by five feet dissembled. Nothing to do with the chicken farm, just very big, beautifully colorful tin chickens. :>)
  • Lots of other small stuff, much of it cast iron that costs way too much to ship across country… or from China. We often tend to overload the coach on these trips.

  •  This is a section of tornado alley, where the tornadoes skipped over us as we hunkered down in valleys on previous trips. Maybe the iron stuff will hold us down?. Of course there are those problematic big tin chickens on the roof….

  •  Leaving Chattanooga on Sunday morning for other adventures along the return route, most likely fascinating Tannehill Iron Works State Park near Birmingham Alabama. After spending a few nights and days exploring that part of the country near Talladega Raceway, we mosy along a section of the Natchez Parkway Trail back toward Texas on our way back to New Mexico. Not sure about internet connectivity as we roam.

  •  Cooler than in past years, we need heat every morning. A problem with the hot water heater being clogged ….by something…, was resolved by a quick reverse blast directly into the tank, from the air compressor we carry for various incidents along the byways. We can once again take showers… yea!

  • Toodles ….until the next opportunity… Those big chickens !!….. Two of them…. One ended up under the bed, the other, Gorilla Taped to the top of the towed car.

  • While near Jackson Miss in the Barnett Reservoir RV park where we enjoy camping, we noted the big outdoor grills next to the RVs. Apparently the weekend Bar BQs are attended by lots of family and friends. Casual weekenders that use the RVs as lake houses, occupy much of the very popular large park.

    Lots of boats to take advantage of the large lake formed behind the dam holding back the Pearl River from flooding Pearl Miss. Fishing and recreation are very popular there. Checking out the nearby charity thrift stores and consignment shops for resalable items did not prove quite as lucrative as previous years when prosperity was flourishing.

  • Further along the way, we did pick up a number of the biggest pine cones we have ever seen, at a small National Park in Louisiana where we parked overnight. LobLolly Pines drop lots of big cones here. 
  • Interesting is the large number of very big, rust colored daddy long legs spiders hiding in them. Copilot described the little camping park near Pollock Louisiana, as ‘Pine cones and Spiders’ in her log book. We were the only overnight guests in the little Stuart Lake’s National park.

    The office rangers were excited to see that we were staying overnight. They seem bored this time of year before the busy summer crowds enjoy the little lake and it’s attractions. The little lake is periodically restocked with fish before fishing derbys and group festivities.

  • Quiet night in camp, even a distant rail way train occasionally passing in the night.
    We drove on in the morning, often paused, visited a few little places we like along this highway route, before turning for Houston and San Antonio.
Steadily returning back toward ABQ NM, while watching weather patterns that suggest storms in the future is our mission.
Note: The future that eventually brought record flooding to Texas and taking the lives of acquaintances in Wimberly Texas. 

We often stay in a big Texas State Park named Brazos Bend, near Houston. Arriving late on Friday evening with no reservations, we took the only remaining facility spot… in ‘overflow’ lot, #18 with water… and electric to run the AC.

The attractions include Alligators… among many other interesting things to explore. Families were biking and hiking this park to the max on this weekend. Bikes in limited numbers are free to use for the day. ‘Giant’ brands, with large tires are really good bikes. To be free for the use of park visitors, is very nice indeed. Texas likes it’s tourists and park aficionados.

 After taking advantage of the wheelchair compatible paved walkways, we were watching a small Coot (duck) from the dock, when a gator slid out from under the water Hyacinth mass floating on top of the water near the fishing dock. The small coot voiced it’s alarm to it’s partner and scrambled further back up onto the flowering plants covering a large part of the lake, as the always hungry gator turned closer.

Bigger Gators eat other smaller gators, thus keeping the numbers constant in this park. The big gator often shown on the internet and described from many places, is actually from this Texas State park. One park employee described smaller gators that try to leave the park. They apparently understand the rules and try to escape….. to extend their lives.

One trip previously, a very large gator was eating a smaller gator. The process takes several days.
A man among the several professional photographers gathered on the shore during that previous trip, was from Paris France and had flown in only for the event using his sophisticated live streaming ‘on line’ action.

 His telescopic camera was huge, white and looked like a National Geographic piece of equipment. We got to look through the lens… up close and personal as the big gator gradually swallowed his slightly smaller… meal.

Watching the gator under our dock on this day in the park, was a family with a little girl. She was really fascinated by the gator that kept swimming under our dock, as her father and mother held her hand… tightly.  

Copilot got several pics as the gator posed within feet close by.
This was the same lake where the gator grabbed the big fish from the man’s line last trip. Copilot got several pics of that event, as another gator chased the one with the fish.

Always something happening at the large Brazos Bend State Park near Houston. Problem was we took the wrong route, made for trucks and passed fitfully through Houston’s business industrial port area during rush hour. 

Bridges over the river, barges and ships were loading below. Not especially carefree fun with the rig towing the Honda and following GPS instructions from copilot with lane changes among drivers racing to get home fast, mixed with countless big trucks anxious to get on to their destinations.

We learn by these mistakes. When we finally no longer drive this route due to age of our bodies, we will know the best way to do it :>)

Austin Texas on route was very rainy after bit of camping at Lockhart near San Marcos, company of friends at the Saltgrass in San Marcos. Austin is always great to explore for a couple of days in spite of the horrendous traffic on narrower than they should be, highways.

We enjoy checking out the Austin City warehouse for a few items they sell from TSA confiscations. Feasting at one of Tino’s Greek cafes. Prowling the charity thrift stores for ‘antiques’ and salable discards. :>)

After driving in heavy rain, we eventually made it to the KOA  of S.A. Very marginal wifi and crowded spaces due to a filled RV park. So far we have been fortunate in finding a space for the night at state parks along this route of I-10 that we periodically take. 

Good thing as the northern route across Texas has storms this time.
A small, well made spinning wheel caught our eye in a San Antonio Goodwill on our day browsing the city. Not especially old, being in excellent working condition it was still quite an unusual find and copilot will sell it in her small space at the Antique mall.

Rain is not yet falling in the amounts anticipated over the next weeks, allowing a bit of hiking to end the day before nightfall on this Mother’s Day. All three sons called their Mom today, giving her a great smile during and after each call. :>)

The lack of internet access is a good reason to not give boring details of each part of our travels. Seems that the parks and other points that once had wifi are letting them degrade away, as most folks have smart phones. Wifi is becoming obsolete already as the times change.

This section of KOA where camped on this trip, is near the older area where the trailer park types stay year around. We have a big truck parked in front of our site and several older trailers with permanent looking sites, as for monthly rentals.

The charity thrift stores are slim pickens these days. When an economy is weak, people do not donate at the level they did when prosperity allowed them to discard high quality items and buy new on a whim. Everything, like bicycles, are rusty or very heavily used. A stark contrast to the previous trips where we often found desirable, lightly used discarded items to purchase…. and resell.

I liked the sign on the back of a high end motor coach. “Homeless and Unemployed” :>)

Fuel is rising in price and seems to be at $2.49 a gallon except for a few Pilot stations lower in price at $2.35.We stay for two more days before rolling westward after a few more stops visiting along the Texas trail.

We renewed the Texas State Park pass, so we will be returning this coming year. Temps are in the high 80s and high humidity is normal. Stops later included the small but interesting Tallavera Pottery vendors along the route between San Antonio and New Mexico.

One rooftop AC unit on the RV coach is problematic and needs adjustment of the fan squirrel cage to get it away from the housing. Always some little thing to keep me occupied while rolling along the traveling routes. Mother’s Day will be celebrated at Sea Island seafood restaurant not far away. Rain is most definitely on it’s way, according to weather reports.

Note: Fortunately we escaped the area just in time. Rain was a real threat to Texas and Oklahoma as record amounts of it fell, flooding many areas after years of drought. Alb NM, our home port is around 37 degrees these days, so we actually left warmer climate in Texas.

After topping off the fuel tank at ABQ NM Costco, adding a quart of Marvel Mystery Oil to the fuel, as have since early days of motoring, we returned the last leg to home port. After unloading the rig, the following day was spent greasing all of the 13 fittings under the chassis, replacing the oil filter and changing the oil… 7 quarts. 

At over 85,000 miles (3,800 this trip) the old rig is long in the tooth, but with steady preventative maintenance, still running like a thoroughbred. The new 100  watt solar panel and MPPT regulator performed like a silent mini generator when we were camped, boondocking away from shore power.

Enjoy traveling, touring, camping, hiking a marvelously blessed nation, ‘The United States of America, One Nation Under God’..


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