Remember that when you leave this Earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given, a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage. -St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Familiar Camping Spot

First stop Wednesday morning was a city park overlooking the Mississippi River. I was sitting on a small stone fence looking out over the river and a small critter at the edge of the forest was looking at me. I was hoping it would come a little bit closer, for a better picture, but it ran away into the woods.

While I am not looking forward to the work that is ahead of me, work at the house and tax and accounting work, it was comforting to be driving in my home state. I don't need the GPS, I am familiar with the highway numbers and I pretty much know where I am and how to get where I want to be. I have traveled quite a bit in Illinois to many small towns, staying at camping cabins or other small resorts and traveling to antique stores and flea markets. 

I decided to take my time Wednesday. I stopped at several places, primitive stores, quilt shops, antique shoppes and thrift stores. I was enjoying my drive down the back roads, mostly just window shopping, not too much that I need to buy.

The campground I stayed at Tuesday night reminded me of the campground in Marseilles, IL. I changed my plans, again, and decided to camp in Marseilles on Wednesday before heading for home.

In 1990, this was the view we had from our 32' Travel Trailer at Whispering Pines Campground (new owners-new name: Four Star Campground).
We paid an annual fee to have the trailer parked here. The sites were metered and we had to pay for electric, also. The water was shut off  to the site in the winter, the camp store bathroom was open all year. We never went to the campground in the winter. It was a nice weekend getaway. We owned it for about 5 years, 1990 to 1995, I think.
This is the RV that is parked at the spot now. The new owners have opened up the space behind this spot and added more seasonal and daily sites. 

I will be back here camping this summer, it is about 1 1/2 hours from my house and I have friends that still rent a site here. I may be back to this campground next week - after the 4th of July holiday.

I'm back at my house now - opening mail, doing laundry and making lists of what needs to be done. And planning my next trip........... 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blogger and GPS issues and Decor for the Coach

I finally downloaded Google Chrome and it seems to have fixed my Blogger problems, as long as I set Google Chrome as my default browser. I can now comment on blogs and adding pictures to my blog is a lot faster. Next .........picture editing,

When I left Eureka Springs on Monday morning, I headed East on Hwy 62, then my GPS sent me north on some country roads and I finally hooked up with Hwy 65 North and stopped in Ozark, MO for gas, ate lunch in the coach then walked around a few shops.  I picked up some fabrics to make pillow covers for the coach. One print has cowboy boots and the other has cowboy hats, very cute. I've been searching thrift stores and flea markets for small items to decorate the coach.

When I was in another small town recently, I stopped in a store called Cowboys & Indians and remembered that I had some Cowboy(Girl) items at home already. I also have a collection of Native American things that I can use in the coach. I already have one of my dream catchers hanging in the coach.

So, I guess the coach will have a Cowgirl, Native American type of decor. The upholstery in the coach is a neutral color and will be easy to work with.  I don't want to have a lot of stuff in here, but it needs a little bit of decor to make it feel like home.

I may decorate the bathroom in a beach theme. The new shower has a door called a SHUB, it retracts into the frame, but I do not like it. I hung up a temporary plastic shower curtain. I will make a shower curtain to fit, using a clear liner and fabric. I have a small beach scene oil painting that I bought at an art show years ago - it will fit perfectly in the bathroom.  For the bathroom window I want to put some of that insulating material on the window to keep the sun out and then hang up a curtain instead of the mini blind it has now.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Monday night I stayed at the Bennett Springs State Park near Lebanon, Missouri. My GPS sent me to the park down a backroad, instead of the instructions that I had written down.

This park is all about trout, they have a hatchery and you have to buy special permits if you are fishing. Everyone was walking around with a permit/tag hanging off their hat. They have cabins and motel rooms, a swimming pool and a dining lodge. 

This is a state park that I would camp at again. I did not make reservations, the reserved sites cost more plus they charge a fee to make a reservation. The sites available without reservation are further back, up a hill. I liked this location better, it was more wooded. The reserved sites are closer to the trout stream and had concrete pads and full hookups, but they did not have as many trees and were closer together. I only had electric at my site, but that was fine.

I woke up to a beautiful 68* on Tuesday morning. I usually just eat cereal for breakfast but decided to walk to the dining lodge, it was down two steep hills plus a walk of about 1/2 mile, and then I would, of course, have to make my way back up. I think in my mind I made it seem a lot more difficult and longer than it was. 

When I was half way down the first hill, I thought about going back and just driving to the restaurant after I unplugged the coach. But, I kept going - it only took 15 minutes to walk down both hills, not bad. I was thinking it would take 2-3 times that to go back up. After breakfast, I walked around the park for awhile, didn't want to start up the hills right after I ate. I can't believe that I made it back up both hills in 20 minutes, only 5 minutes longer than the time to get down. Of course, I would not have done this in the 100* temps of last week, but the cooler weather made it possible.

Have to remember "I CAN" instead of "I Can't"

By the way, breakfast was great, they offer fresh fruit on the menu, along with all of the usual breakfast foods.  I had fruit, scrambled eggs and sausage. I have asked for fruit at restaurants and received canned fruit, But at this place they had strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon and grapes. Since I don't eat all of the things offered with a "combo" breakfast such as the hash brown potatoes, biscuits and gravy, or toast or pancakes and the fruit plate "combo" comes with a muffin and yogurt, which I didn't want - all of the items I ordered were priced ala carte, so breakfast out is expensive for me - this is the only time I had breakfast in a restaurant on the entire trip.

I was so concerned about walking uphill that I forgot to take pictures around the dam and stream. I did get some wildflowers pics.

I have noticed, at several state parks, that the walking trails do not originate anywhere near the campground. You have to walk or drive to the trail head. I don't have a tow vehicle or a bike with me, so I have to add the extra miles to what is shown on the park maps.
Most state parks have maps online

The GPS was being a pain on Tuesday morning, also.
Hwy 5 North in Missouri has been recently repaved and the GPS showed me driving in a blank space and kept saying "recalculating", I finally turned it off. I always write out instructions to check while driving. This also happened on Hwy 50 East in Missouri, which I could tell had been recently repaved. Did they move the highway???
           Is that why the GPS didn't know it was there?

The GPS had me get off at an exit that was not what I had written down, but I went with it. Big mistake, I went out of my way because there were detours and road closings. I don't think my GPS likes Missouri, I haven't had this many problems in other states.

I may go back to using the GPS only when I get close to my destination, for the final turns, after getting off the highway. 

Do I need a new GPS? Do they wear out? It's about 4 years old.

Along the way, I did stop in a small town, Tipton. There were a few thrift store/flea market type stores. I found a few things that were on my list of things I'm looking for - so it turned out ok after all. 

After another detour, I arrived at the road for a state park I was going to stay at, and the sign said I would have to drive south for several more miles, I need to be heading north east to go home. I changed my mind about going to that park.

I saw a sign that said Quincy, IL - 57 miles and decided I may try to get into Illinois on Tuesday. I didn't make it over the Mississippi on Tuesday night, I was done driving for the day.  I stayed Tuesday night in a campground near Hannibal, MO. The campground reminds me of the place we kept our travel trailer parked, very similar setup, it felt like a nice family park, someplace I would spend more time at. I will cross over the river into IL Wednesday morning.

One more night on the road.....and then home.....but where is home......
I feel more comfortable in the coach than I do in my house.  

And I used to love my house and yard and gardens.
I haven't done any gardening in 2 years, I let the lawn guys pull the weeds and prune the perennials, I haven't added any annual plants or vegetables. I didn't fill any pots or hanging baskets.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

June 23 to 26, 2011        

Wanderlust RV Park offers an "Escapees" discount and was on the trolley/bus route for the city of Eureka Springs. I had a reservation for 3 nights, $25.00 day, back-in full hookups. The pull-thru sites were near the road.  My site was in a back row with a wooded area behind my coach.

On Thursday morning, I rode the bus to the downtown depot, I walked up North Main Street (the town is very hilly and you walk up and down all day), stopping at the different stores and galleries and went to Basin Spring Park, the site of one of the "springs". I also went to the 6th floor of the Basin Hotel to look out over the city.

On Friday, I rode the "blue" bus to the downtown depot and then got on the "purple" bus to go west of town to the Thorncrown    Chapel. A timber framed chapel that has walls of glass.

The buses comes around every 30 minutes, it was just enough time to sit in the chapel for awhile, then I rode back downtown and had the bus drop me off on Magnetic Street and walked to the "Magnetic Spring" and to the Train Depot.
 Magnetic Spring

I rode the "purple" bus again and transferred to the "red" bus - this red route goes around the historic district and several of the springs. I rode the bus to the top of the hill, and then walked along the streets, stopping at the different springs. There were many older, Victorian style homes, some large and some small cottages. I walked up another long incline until I reached the Crescent Hotel and  waited for the bus to take me around the rest of the Historic Loop.

Grotto Spring

I had a late lunch at a downtown cafe and then went to the Historical Museum. I asked the volunteers at the Museum about another route on the map that the buses did not go to. There were several springs in this area, they said the route was not difficult to walk. I'm glad I decided to do this extra walk. I came upon a large pond, with a sign that said "Keep off Dam" - not sure what the source of water was. There were hundreds of blue dragonflies all around the edge of the water. I tried to take pictures, but they did not come out very well. 

Cave Spring

There are 62 springs within the city limits, and 13 on the map of the downtown area. I only missed one of the 13 springs, the description for the Soldier Spring at East Mountain Overlook said it was a difficult walk and I had already been walking all day, so I decided to just finish walking the loop I was on and to head back downtown to catch the bus back to the RV Park.

I went to the RV office to ask about a late checkout on Saturday morning, I saw a sign for a craft and quilt show and wanted to take the bus there in the morning and didn't know if I would be back in time for an 11am checkout.

I never made it to the craft show. I woke up around 5am Saturday feeling very sick, either a 24 hour bug or some mild food poisoning. I called the RV office and told them I needed to stay another day, that I was not well enough to drive, and would stop at the office on Sunday morning.

5 am Sunday morning, I felt 90% better and decided to stay at the campground another night. Whoever came up with "24 hour bug" was very accurate. I don't ever remember being sick like this before. 

Eureka Springs is a town I would visit again, I like the idea of the bus system. They have four different routes. The buses stop at motels, campgrounds, restaurants, the grocery store and many other places. I enjoy walking and I was able to spend many hours walking each day, even though it was very hilly - it was a good workout. 

The RV Park had a sign about WorKamping, I may have to check it out in the fall or spring, it was too hot in June and I'm sure July and August are even hotter and they do get snow and ice in Jan. & Feb.

If not this year, maybe another year - there are so many places I want to visit. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

NW Arkansas Day 2

Wednesday June 22, 2011

I continued driving North on Hwy 71. I stopped at the Visitors Center in downtown Fayetteville and walked around the area. This is a college town and there were a lot of restaurants and some shops, the items in the shops were very expensive.

I then stopped at Petco on the northern end of Fayetteville. I love it when I can go to a companies website and find out where the nearest store is located. I needed some cat food, and knew that Petco carried the brand "BLUE" that I wanted.

Continuing on Hwy 71 it becomes a scenic byway. It's a very hilly and curvy road but the speed limits are lower so it is a pleasure to drive without anyone speeding around. On some of the curves and when going downhill the speed limit is 25mph or less.

This area reminded me of the Smoky Mountains with a blue gray misty look to the mountains.

There is a turnout at "Artists Point" and an Art Center/gift shop. I didn't stop to take pictures because it was not well marked and I did not see a place that I could safely pull over. There was a gravel parking space in front of the building, but it didn't seem very large. Once you drive past the building, there really isn't any place to turn around on this narrow curvy road. The way it was mentioned in all of the travel books, I was expecting a larger pullout area.

I turned off Hwy 71 onto Hwy 62 East and stopped at the Pea Ridge National Military Park. There is a museum, theater, bookstore and a 10 mile driving tour around the grounds.

As I was going around the driving route, I thought - this would be a great place to camp (but wondered - would it be haunted). When you reach the top of the hill there is a nice breeze that would be perfect for sleeping with all the windows to the coach open.

My next stop before getting to Eureka Springs was the Blue Spring Heritage Center. This is a private business, they charge a $5.00 fee(less discount coupons) to walk around the gardens and spring. 
Brochure description "Visit this oasis in the Ozarks that nurtured the Cherokee people on the Trail of Tears. Walk under the historic bluff shelter. Allow yourself to connect with the natural beauty that surrounds Blue Spring."
It was a beautiful area and its a shame of the damage caused by a flood of  the White River, some of the walking paths were closed because of damage to the small bridges that would take you to those paths. The owners said many of their plantings were also washed away.  I noticed a greenhouse on the property, near the parking area. They grow many of their own flowers and plants to display around the spring so hopefully they will be able to replant some things this summer.

Next stop - Eureka Springs

Friday, June 24, 2011

Northwest Arkansas

After leaving Crater of Diamonds State Park, I headed north along the western edge of Arkansas. I made a stop at Fort Smith National Historic Site and walked around the trails and checked out the main building which is now a museum. The museum had displays about the Civil War and the "Trail of Tears".

painting by Cherokee artist, Dorothy Sullivan

Tuesday night I stayed at the KOA in Alma, Arkansas.  The entrance was right on Hwy 71. The sites were quiet, near the rear of the property. This campground had a few walking paths and a large pond with some unusual ducks. There were horses across the road.

I walked around the pond and sat at a picnic table on the shady side for a few hours, watching the ducks and chicks and just enjoying the quiet atmosphere of the park. This campground is owned by a retired couple from Illinois.

This is the type of park that I had considered buying when I sold my tax practice. I had done a lot of research about RV Parks and Campgrounds and read several books about Campground Management. I had a notebook full of information about different campgrounds for sale and had obtained the financial information for several parks. 

I thought that we could buy a seasonal park, work only 6 months of the year and then travel south for the winter. The campground would fulfill my wish for a place in the country and we would have a source of income at home. 

Currently I have no desire to own any property of any type. I don't want to be tied down to one location until I figure out what I'm going to do with myself.  I will try Workamping either this winter or next spring.

Workamping will allow me to stay in one area for three to six months and explore an area in depth. There are usually many things I would like to see in an area that I stop at, but staying for only one or two nights, I miss a lot. I like the idea of having a semi-permanent campsite for a few months at a time.

I'll be staying in Northwest Arkansas until Saturday morning and then moving into Missouri.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Digging for Diamonds

     Sunday and Monday
     June 19 & 20, 2011

Crater of Diamonds State Park
Murfreesboro, Arkansas

As long as I was in the area, I decided to try and find some diamonds.  The campground is very nice and I had a really good site and the end of a cul-de-sac. A crazy male cardinal was attacking my windows shortly after I parked and it tried to hang onto the screens on the side window and it came back when I was leaving.

Monday evening

It was hot when I arrived Sunday afternoon, so I did not go out into the Diamond Fields right away. On Sunday evening I walked over to the visitor center. I wanted to go in the Diamond Discovery Center to watch the video and find out what this was all about. I found out that I needed a ticket to the fields in order to go to the center. I paid $7.00 and the ticket was good for Monday, also. After going to the Discovery Center, I decided to walk out to the fields. I didn't have any equipment with me. I just walked around picking up some small colored stones (Jasper). They say that some of the large diamonds were found by people just walking around looking at the ground. The best time to find diamonds if after it rains. The diamonds have an oily exterior and dirt and mud will not stick to diamonds. No rain here, it was very dry.

The park employees will identify everything that you pick up and you can keep anything that you find.

Monday morning I went to the fields at 8am when they opened, I didn't want to be out there in the heat of the midday sun. The day was overcast with a constant breeze, so it didn't feel as hot as previous days. I stayed in the fields for around 4 hours - part of the time under the shade of a tree. I took a camp stool with me and my folding camping shovel and I rented a screen from the park. You can also use a process of washing the dirt using 3 screens but I did not feel like playing in the mud. Equal amounts of diamonds are found using the dry method or the wet method.

2 nights in the campground               =  56.00
2 days in the field                              =    7.00
A pocket full of colored stones         =    0.00

A  quiet and scenic campsite        PRICELESS!

It was very meditative sitting outside and playing with the gravel, moving it around over and over to see if there is something hidden in the pile of dirt and gravel and rocks.

No diamonds for me, just a few crystals, a piece of Hematite and a lot of Jasper and some other stones and volcanic rock.

Sitting in the field - searching for a diamond - made me think of gambling. You pay a fee and hope to come out with a jackpot. Sitting outside and enjoying the scenery is much better that sitting in a casino anyday and the odds are probably the same.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Texas State Parks

From the beach to the forest.................

After the ferry crossing, I headed east on the Bolivar Peninsula along the Gulf, lots and lots of uncrowded beaches. Then I turned North along the eastern edge of Texas.

Thursday and Friday nights I stayed at the William Dies, Jr. Texas State Park. On Thursday, I walked the 1.2 mile Nature Trail

and on Friday morning I walked the 2.2 mile Slough Trail.

It's been very hot - at or near 100* everyday. In the evening I walked to the boat ramp and fishing pier to take sunset pictures.

During the hot afternoons, I have been working on my scrapbook/collage pages of pictures, words and phrases cut out of all of the brochures and maps I have been picking up along the way. I was able to get rid of a large pile of these brochures and filled a few pages in my scrapbook. Diane and Karl gave me a really nice journal to keep notes about this journey, but since I am blogging, I am using this journal as a scrapbook, instead.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The distance between the State Parks I was staying at was less than 200 miles. Saturday morning was a good driving day, I didn't have to rush and I made several stops along the way. The first stop was a Farmers Market where I bought some tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, yellow squash and blueberry jam.

Then I stopped in the town of San Augustine - went to the Mission Dolores Museum (free admission) and the El Camino Visitors Center.
St. Augustine Church
I also walked around the town center, stopping at a few stores and buying some homemade tamales (13 for $12.00).
A few miles later, I stopped for gas at a truck stop and pulled over to a vacant spot and had some tamales for lunch.

When I arrived at Atlanta State Park on Lake Wright Patman it was 102*.  There are several trails here but it was too hot for a long walk. I took a short walk around to see where everything was and then at sunset I took another short walk to the lake and the overlook.

On Sunday I head into Arkansas, I'll be traveling along the western edge of Arkansas, very close to Oklahoma.

Drake Tax Software

Overnight stays in these states:

Overnight stays in these states:
It is the sandstorm that shape the stone statues of the Desert. It is the struggles of Life that form a person's character ~ Native American Proverb