Thursday, August 13, 2020

RVing (or NOT) in the age of Coronavirus

I had planned on taking my RV up the Pacific coast this year, but Covid-19 has squashed all desire to get out and deal with unfamiliar places. With so much of the country shut down, including many state and national parks and campgrounds as well as private RV parks, it just seemed like too much effort to try to find a safe and enjoyable way to travel and sight see this year. 

So Minnie has been sitting in my side yard since last October, and there she will stay until this pandemic subsides. I even let the license expire and reduced the insurance coverage to bare minimum, just to cover anything that my homeowners policy would not.

Every month on the first day, I get an iPhone reminder to check my generator and battery. I go out and start up the gennie and the engine. While those run, I check the batteries and add water if necessary. Then I roll Minnie forward or backward a few feet to change the position of the tires. They only have a couple thousand miles on them and I don't want them getting flat spots. Luckily, my side yard is well shaded throughout the day, so they don't get much direct sun, which could dry them out and damage them. The last thing I do is run some water into the black tank. All my tanks are nearly empty, but adding a couple gallons of water to the black tank each month keeps it from smelling. After tending to Minnie, I take my Fit out for a 4-5 mile drive around the block and put it back in the garage. I keep battery tenders on Minnie's batteries so they don't go dead. Last year Dale installed a battery disconnect switch on my Fit, so I just turn that one off. These steps keep my whole RV rig in shape while in storage.

I'm hoping that I can get back to my plan of making a trip up the coast early next year. I've been reading some blogs of other RVers and mentally bookmarking several campgrounds and places of interest that I want to visit.

I had to put that sign on it to stop people from interrupting my nap 
by ringing my doorbell and asking about it. :)

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Paducah to Mesa

I won't say I made a beeline home from Paducah, but I did drive west with purpose. Once I make up my mind I'm ready to head home, I'm typically pretty anxious to get there. So I drove 200-300 miles a day, stopping before dinner time for overnight camps.

My first stop was Maumelle Park, an Army Corps of Engineering campground just outside Little Rock, AR. While there, I spotted this beautiful rig in the campground and my siblings and I had quite a discussion on What's App trying to determine its value. We decided it was between $2-3 million, and who knows what they were hauling in that trailer.

My rig is worth less than $2 million! ;-)
My next night was spent in a free and friendly spot in Whitewright, TX. Yep, I driveway surfed at Chris and Dayna's. I could not get level nor reach the 30A plug from Richard's usual spot, but my smaller rig fit great right next to the shed in front of their house. They provided a delicious dinner of ribs, beans and potato salad, and we enjoyed getting caught up on family gossip.
Night three was spent in Lake Colorado City State Park near Colorado City, TX. It was a nice, nearly empty park, and a very warm evening, so I was glad to have AC.
Lake Colorado
My fourth night found me in Van Horn, TX in funky little Oasis RV park adjacent to Main Street and an active railroad. I counted five trains that went by (blowing their horns) during the next sixteen hours, included one at 10:15 pm and finally 2:20 am before peace settled in.

My final stop before home was back at Rockhound State Park south of Deming, NM. This is where I had stayed my first two nights out and I liked the campground a lot. However, mid-October proved to be a much busier season than mid-September, and the campground was full when I arrived. I sat along the camp road trying to decide what to do for the night when a ranger drove by, stopped and told me I could take the last hookup spot in the group site, as long as I didn't mind close proximity to some neighbors. I was very happy not to have to drive on that afternoon, and my neighbors turned out to include a couple of cute kids who fell in love with Hanna.

I got an early start the next morning, and drove the final 330 miles. As we came into Mesa/Tempe, Hanna stirred from her napping place on the floor, and at Elliot and Dobson, she stood up. At Alma School, she jumped up on the passenger seat. When we turned into our neighborhood, she began to wiggle. And when we stopped in front of our house, she ran to the door begging to get out. She was a happy pup to be home, and so was I.

I kept all my gas receipts this time, and when I get around to it, I'll tally up my miles and costs to see if I'm still getting 7.75 mpg. For now, we are enjoying our lazy days and the beautiful Arizona fall weather.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Nashville - Northern Terminus of the NTP

After leaving the mechanic shop on Wednesday morning, I drove the final fifty miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway. There were a few historical spots in those last miles that were interesting and worthwhile.

I found a site at Montgomery Ball State Park campground west of Nashville.

I drove into the city on Thursday to see some sights in the Country Music capital of the world. First stop, Country Music Hall of Fame. The senior price for admission to the museum was $23.95. You are allowed to take no-flash pictures of anything inside the museum, but unfortunately, almost everything is displayed behind glass with low lighting, which makes it very difficult to get any good shots without glare. Some of the best pieces are positioned in such a way that you cannot frame them nicely in a photo. Johnny Cash’s Black suit that he wore when performing at Folsom Prison was in a corner, and glare from other exhibits covered part of the shot.

From there, I walked over to the Ryman Auditorium. They also wanted $25 for admission. Since I only had 30 minutes left on my parking pass, I decided not to go inside, but instead walked back to my car. There was too much construction going on downtown and I figured it would be another $25 admission to the Grand Ole Opry, so instead of driving to it, I just headed back to camp. I’ll visit Nashville another time, maybe with Alice and Glenda, and we will take in more sights then.

Friday morning, I packed up camp and moved up to Kentucky Dam State Park where I got a space for two nights. On Saturday, I drove to Paducah to visit with my childhood friend. Denice has a progressive disease and is quite ill, but she invited me to come by. I visited with her by her bedside for about two hours. Her sister Sharion, who helps her husband care for her at home, was also there, and we all got caught up on family news.

Back at camp that evening, I made my plans to turn west and head home.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Battery Woes

Before getting on the road Tuesday morning, I decided to check my generator. The weather had turned cool enough that I planned to dry camp in Meriwether Lewis Campground, so I wanted to make sure everything was good. Imagine my chagrin when the gennie would not start! After texting with my brothers we determined I likely had battery problems. As I was checking the connectors and water levels, one of the cables actually came loose, revealing a very corroded break. That definitely seemed to be the culprit.

I decided not to deal with it today, but to keep moving north.

I stopped at a small rustic RV Park just off the Trace near Hohenwald. The surrounding woods provided a nice place for Hanna and me to walk.

The next morning I drove straight to a mechanic shop where they fixed the broken battery cable. That seemed to resolve the issues with providing battery power to Minnie, but my generator still would not start. I didn’t want to waste more time and spend any more money on it while out of town, so just decided to camp with hookups the rest of the way home. Then I can take the RV in to a specialized shop in Mesa and have them deal with it and a few other issues at once over the winter.

I will complete the Parkway today and start making my way home.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center

My brother Dale hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2012, and hooked up with Woody and Cynthia Harrell (trail names X and N Trovert) about halfway through their trek north. As we followed their trail blogs, our family at home felt like we came to know the Harrells well. My brother Daryl also got to do some backpacking with them that year and the next. I finally got a chance to meet them in person when Cynthia ran the Phoenix marathon a few years later.

I knew the NTP passes close to the Harrells home in Corinth, MS, so we got in touch to make plans for lunch or dinner. While we were texting, I asked about the Civil War Center in Corinth, and if it would be a worthwhile trip from my campground about 40 miles away. Cynthia exclaimed that Woody had designed it and everything in it! She asked if I'd like a personal grand tour. Would I!!

The Center is in a beautiful setting, which sadly is the site of the Corinth Battle in October 1862. The museum building sits on a hill, and there are Civil War artifacts and memorials all over the grounds. It happened to be the 175th anniversary of the battle, so there were additional events going on. We had just enough time to explore a couple of rooms inside before making our way out to the edge of the hill to watch a re-enactment of the cannon firing.

Can you make out Woody's thumbprint and WH initials
 in the bottom corner of the bronze memorial?

Following, Woody explained the history of some of the grave markers, and then described his crown jewel - the Stream of American History. He spent weeks designing the water feature in the courtyard, which provides a detailed representation of the birth and growth of our nation, then the rise of sectionalism and other momentous events, and finally the continuing legacy of the American Civil War.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Interpretive Center and the tour by Woody. After we had seen all the highlights, we left and went to the Harrell's favorite Mexican restaurant, where we caught up on family news. Shortly thereafter, it was time to make my way back to my lonely puppy waiting for me in Minnie.