We had a wonderful visit with Peter and Mary Lee in Virginia Beach. Pete and Lonnie served in Viet Nam together 50 years ago. They were stationed on the USS Corpus Christi Bay repairing the avionics on damaged helicopters coming in from the battle field. They enjoyed catching up on each other’s life and it was nice for me to meet the guy Lonnie so often talked about from this time in his life. Pete and Mary Lee are a lovely couple, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay and we hope to meet up with them again in the future.
CHATTAHOOCHEE – OCONEE NATIONAL FOREST
The drive from Arkansas to Cherokee/North Carolina through the National Forest was absolutely beautiful. The forest was dense with the road weaving its way between a high cliff covered with ferns with occasional small waterfalls and Oconee River rapidly running on the other side. This area must be very popular in the summer as there were numerous white water rafting adventure businesses all along the way. We stopped over in Cherokee for a couple of days waiting out the rain to stop before we continued on to Virginia.
We began this new adventure by meeting up with 36 other Leisure Travel Van (LTV) owners at DeGray Lake Resort State Park in Arkansas just outside of Hot Springs for a 3 day TEXOMA club rally of which we are a member. There were LTV’s of various models and years from mostly Texas and Oklahoma but a few came from Tennessee and one couple from Mississippi. We had a wonderful time meeting other LTV owners, seeing the new 2018 models, sharing travel adventures and learning about various modifications or enhancements one can make to their coach. The second night we all meet up for a large pot luck supper and fellowship. The third day we all drove into Hot Springs for a day of exploring the city. We walked the promenade along Bathhouse Row and strolled up and down Central Avenue. It was a lovely cool day perfect for sightseeing.
We begin our travels to Virginia to visit with an army buddy of Lonnie’s from Viet Nam and visit with friends that one time lived in Austin. The rain started and has not stopped so far — we had planned to stop at an interesting state park in Tennessee on our way to North Carolina but in was raining so hard we decided to keep going as the park would be muddy. We stopped for the night in Murphy N.C. after a long days drive.
We went to Louisiana to see Gabriel Iglesias. I love this guy. He is funny!!!
There was wind warnings for north and central New Mexico yesterday and we were unfortunately right in the mist of it all. We drove mostly with a modest tail wind but as we near our campsite the wind significantly increased causing a warning message to come on the dash indicating a tire or tires were not getting sufficient traction – now that’s some cross wind. I am not sure exactly the speeds but the news had published sustained winds of 36 to 40 and gust 50 to 60. This horrific wind blew from 11am Sunday to sometime after 1am Monday morning. I found the shaking RV and the loud wind noise to be alarmingly unpleasant throughout the night. Thanks to be God we made it through with no damage to the RV or ourselves. We gratefully departed for Texas this morning.
Tonight we are staying at Hord’s Creek Lake a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campground at the Lakeside Park area. This is a beautiful park with a tranquil lake, large oak trees and extensive openness. We are enjoying the relaxing atmosphere and grilling a steak for dinner.
We will be home tomorrow and this trip from Austin, Texas to Palm Springs, California and back has been very memorable. We have experienced majestic landscapes through New Mexico, Arizona and California and various temperatures from hot to frigid, we have rode horses, boated, rode the tram, hiked and have camped in the mountains to the valleys. We also had some other experiences as my car was stolen from the dealership where it was in for repairs. The dealership was most helpful in dealing with the police and keeping us informed of the on-going situation while we were traveling. Luckily the car was found with no damage and the person arrested. The dealership retrieved the car in our absence from the impound lot, detailed it and are storing it for me until our return. Also, on the way to Phoenix a truck through a rock, like a bullet it hit the driver’s side causing enough damage we will need to replace the windshield. Fortunately we have insurance to cover the windshield. Whew, a nice nights rest tonight in this lovely campsite, hopefully uneventful, and up early heading for Austin.
We departed Mount San Jacinto early morning with light rain, spotting a beautiful rainbow on our way down the mountain toward Yuma, Arizona. Spent the night in Yuma where the wind was strong and dusty, creating a thin layer of dust throughout the RV. I wanted to drive through the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, outside of Phoenix, so off we went stopping at the Wild Horses Casino in Chandler to spend the night were we enjoyed an exceptional steak dinner at Shula’s steakhouse. The Apache Trail through the Superstition Mountains is 40 miles long beginning at Apache Junction and ending at Roosevelt Dam. The Apache Trail was a stagecoach trial and named after the Apache Indians who originally used this trail to move through the mountains. The road, no, the trail winds steeply through rugged desert mountains with two lakes, Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. The pavement ended after 18 miles leaving the rest of the trail mostly one lane dirt road, rough as an old wash board, and with hair pin turns. It took us 4 hours from start to finish. The scenery was remarkable but not sure it was worth the long and tedious drive. We found a lovely park about two hours away called Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area near Show Low, AZ. The drive on HYW. 60 to reach the lake was even more scenic than the Apache Trail and it was paved, the highway passed through a beautiful mountain range with deep gorges. We spent a wonderful day at Fool Hollow, located in the mountains with tall pines, cool temperatures, fresh air and good hiking trails. We are now beginning our return route homebound and took off for Albuquerque where we spent the night at the Route 66 Casino RV park, which was one of the nicest private RV parks we have stayed and would recommend it to anyone passing through this area. Today, New Mexico has issued high West winds alert, 25 to 35 winds with gust as high as 70 miles an hour. The drive west from Albuquerque heading to Texas has been windy and after about 250 miles we stopped at the Oasis State Park where the wind is alarmingly high. The RV is rocking, the wind whistling around the windows, the air vents rattling, with a dust storm blowing outside and is forecasted to last until around 1 am tomorrow morning. It should be an interesting night.
We made it into Palm Springs late afternoon after a long drive through the Mojave Desert. Palm Springs is a pretty city with business and home entrances filled with an abundant display of colorful flowers. It seemed like there was a lush golf course every few blocks and streets are named after movie stars and presidents. Unfortunately there must be smog or some other air pollution because we both had sinus problems so bad that we were ready to depart after one day.
Up to Mount San Jacinto State Park to experience the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The Tram departs about every 10 minutes up the mountain from zone 1 of 3,500 feet to zone 5 of 10,834 feet, straight up the mountain with absolutely gorgeous views. Once on top the mountain there are several trails to hike, we took the desert view trail. The temperature was cold enough for a coat but not too cold, the air was fresh with the scent of pine. Immediately we both felt better and our sinus problems were no longer. We enjoyed the mountain so much we decided to find someplace in the mountains to spend the next couple to days. Off we went to find one of the Mount San Jacinto State Parks that allowed RVs. The only ones we found were located on the other side of mountain from Palm Springs. We drove from Palm Springs up the steepest, narrowest mountain road toward Idyllwild I believe I have ever experienced and we have been on some thrilling mountain roads in Colorado, but this one beat them all in terms of scary – I was too scared to close my eyes and too scared to keep them open. We finally made it to Thousand Trails RV Park about 8,000 feet elevation. The park is very large with numerous trails, giant pines, the freshest air and perfectly cool temperatures. We hiked 5 miles today and feel pleasantly exhausted. It is so quiet here, only the whispering of the wind blowing through the trees and so scenic one cannot help but feel peacefully one with nature.
Our second day at Dead Horse we went for a ride on a couple of live horse through the 400 acre park. Bill, a 77 year old cowboy that has been riding horses most of his life was our trail guide. He worked the Dead Horse ranch in his younger days when it was privately owned. He was very entertaining sharing numerous stories of his years riding horses, driving wagons, ranching, and dealing with mules (he doesn’t much like mules). The trail ride was especially exciting when crossing the fast running creeks and for a moment I thought me and my horse were going to end up floating downstream, but we made it safely to the other side. Whew!
We drove highway 40 West from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Sedona, Arizona stopping at the Petrified Forest National Park that is located just off HWY 40 about a 2 hours from Flagstaff, Arizona. We drove the 28 mile road that runs through the entire park. The main sights are the painted desert, the blue mesa, the jasper forest and the giant logs. The painted desert is characterized by colorful bands of sedimentary rock called the Chinle Formation. This formation was deposited between 227 and 205 million years ago by northwest flowing river system. The petrified wood are colorful specimens of massive tree trunks strewn across the landscape. The trees were knocked down by wind or water and carried downstream being buried by layers of sediment over 218 million years ago. The logs soaked up groundwater and silica from volcanic ash and over time crystallized into quartz. Truly breathtaking sights of beauty and wonder.
We settled in the Sedona area for a couple of days in a state park called Dead Horse, don’t like the name but the park is large with numerous hiking trails, horseback riding, three lakes and surrounded by mountains. The park received its name because the original owners of the ranch asked their children which ranch they liked best when they were searching for property and they replied the one with the dead horse and so it was
named. When the owners gifted the land to the state for a park they requested the name remain — so there you have it — dead horse ranch state park. Yesterday we hiked in Sedona at Red Rock Crossing along a clear river gently flowing along the trial to view the impressive red Cathedral Rock.
Temperatures in the low twenties made Albuquerque a very “cool” place to camp.
The first stop on our new adventure was Lake Colorado City State Park which is located about 30 miles north of San Angelo, TX and serves as a peaceful resting stop after a long days drive. We basically had the park to ourselves with only a couple of other visitors.
Our next stop over was Bottomless Lakes State Park in Roswell, New Mexico which is located half way between Lake Colorado City and Albuquerque. This state park consist of a chain of eight lakes that are actually sinkholes that range from 17 to 90 feet deep and are nestled along the red gypsum bluffs. The sun was hot and the water was cold making it the perfect place for Vegas to enjoy playing in the water and running around.
Today we are in staying Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Sandia Resort and Casino in their RV lot. The winds yesterday were blowing at 60 miles an hour which made for windy drive. Today the winds have calmed and we hope to be able to go up on the TRAM to the top of the mountain and have lunch.
The windshield of the Tiny House found a rock outside of Baton Rouge and needed to be repaired. Fortunately, we found a great shop off Interstate 12 and they had us back on the road in fifteen minutes.
Topsail is one of the best state parks in the country! Three miles of pristine beaches and enough hiking trails to keep you busy for weeks. The only negative of this park is that dogs are prohibited on the beach. Vegas really did not like the no dog rule but she found some other beaches that welcomed her.
Here at last!
We are on our way to Florida and for the last two days we have been in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi. Last night it got down to 27 and I had to winterize the tiny house. The sun is out this morning and we are heading for Orange Beach Alabama. Ah to be warm again.
We just got back from three days in Louisiana and some wonderful meals. Vegas especially enjoyed this trip because the Coushatta Casino has a dog park.
We needed a nature fix so we loaded up the tiny house and headed to Lost Maples, located along the Sabinal river west of San Antonio, Texas. This area is known for its big tooth maple trees. It offers several miles of rugged hiking trails through a quiet area of sheltered canyons, speculator views and scenic woodlands.
Off to see the “Big Tree” in Goose Island State Park, and hopefully see some whooping cranes that are in the area from late October to mid-April. The big tree is the second largest tree in the U.S., 11 feet across the trunk, 35 feet around, and 44 feet tall, 89 feet across the crown, and the most amazing fact is the tree is 1,000 years old. We did not see any whooping cranes around Goose Island so we headed for Aransas Wildlife Refuge
as National Wildlife Refuge. Aransas hosts the largest flock of wintering whooping cranes in North America with over 250 birds. By mid-April they depart for a hazardous journey of 2,500 miles to nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada.
Even with 250 birds in the area one is still lucky to see cranes feeding in the marshy salt flats in the refuge, and we were indeed fortunate. We took off on the Heron Flats trail and spotted a pair feeding. Whooping cranes being 60 inches tall and with white feathers were easy to spot against the green/brown marshes. The birds were elegant and gorgeous, a thrilling experience. Luckily Lonnie had his camera because I forgot mine and when I walked back (a very short distance) to get my camera the birds had flown away by the time I returned. And added plus on the walk down the trail we spotted a few alligators sunning themselves on the shore line. The park rangers told us to keep Vegas on a short leash because the alligators like puppy dogs for snacks. So glad the gators kept their distance.
Lonnie’s brother and sister-in-law (Dan and Barbara) who live in Arkansas would be visiting their son and daughter-in-law (Greg and Cathy) in Corpus. Great reason for a road trip, so off we went. We had dinner at Snoopy’s, a popular restaurant on intercostal canal, luckily they had a large roaring fire pit inside to warm everyone from the misty cold weather outside. The next day we were able to visit with Greg and Cathy whom we haven’t seen a several years and it was wonderful to spend time with family.
After the family visits we took off to Padre Island National Seashore, Malaquite beach. We were very fortunate to find a great camp site with an ocean view and a very short walk to the beach. Vegas truly enjoyed running in the sand and chasing the birds.