Sunday, June 19, 2011

And the journey begins!


Friday April 15th  2011

After a hectic week of helping Sharon to move Tallahassee, finding new cash buyers for our home in Eastpoint, we finally headed out on our journey west.
We had intended to leave tomorrow, Saturday, but we decided to give the new buyers space to move in.  We knew from weather reports that bad weather was headed in, so we did a short first drive. I was glad for that, as it gave me a chance to get a feel for pulling the 12’utility trailer packed with all our worldly possessions! The Chevy TrailBlazer pulled the trailer easily! I was relieved. So ended our first, short day in Fountain FL at the Pine Lake RV Park.

Saturday April 16th 2011

All the bad weather passed north of us overnight, but left us with a cloudy day.
We followed Highway 231 North to I-10 West and Highway 331 North. Yes, I drove Interstate! But this area of Interstate highway is pretty easy and low traffic! We got off on exit 85 in DeFuniak Springs. FL.  There is an amazing old home up on a hill on the left by the railroad tracks there! We followed Highway 331 North into Alabama and turned west on Highway 84 near Opp AL.

When we got to Andalusia AL, we made a WalMart stop to stock up on lunchmeats, ice cream bars, beer and other goodies! It turned into a dog walk, a bathroom run for us too and a gas station stop. We left about an hour after we pulled in, restocked, refueled and refreshed! We continued on Highway 84 West and pulled into the Park Service Campground, a Corps of Engineers campground just a bit west of Coffeeville AL.  This was a great campground, right on the Tombigbee River! We had a great site right next to the river and we were lucky enough to watch tugboats pushing barges loaded with coal down river and later see the tugs pushing the empty barges back upriver!

(above photo Chuck and the Hound Herd, Scotty, DoogieBowser and Radar!)
The overnight cost was only $9.00 for water and electric sites and a dump station available on the way out. We will come back here for sure! ! 
One thing I have really enjoyed this trip was the pair of walking talkies we purchased. It meant that even though Chuck and I were driving two different vehicles, we could talk and share points of information and travel information. Our radios had a range of two miles, this provided me with a sense of security.

Sunday, April 16th 2011

We left the C.O.E. campground wishing we had more time to spend there! But we had friends waiting for us in Arkansas so we pressed onward! We pulled out on Highway 84 West and entered Mississippi.

After entering the highway became four lanes and remained so through most of the state. A lot of roadwork going on, but it was all off the roadway where we were driving. Shortly after noon, we crossed the Mississippi River…. Very long bridge and quite high but despite all my inhibitions I drove across with success. 
We crossed at Natchez MS into Vidalia LA, still on Highway 84 West. We traveled about 6 miles west and then turned north on Highway 425.  We followed 425 North almost to the Arkansas state line.  We pulled into the Chemin-A-Haut State Park near Bastrop. We were more than ready to pull over and camp! We had long ago exceeded our usual 4-4-2 travel rule. To keep us happy campers the 4-4-2 rule is simple 4 hours, 4 PM or 200 miles we pull in whichever comes first. This keeps us from becoming overtired and grouchy. We were well past the 4hour rule as well as all the others when we hit Bastrop LA.  We were confronted with road construction that had us balancing on extremely narrow roads with nothing on the passenger side but steep 2-3 foot sheer drop offs! Construction continued all through town, which we happened to hit at evening rush hour and well past town.  When we arrived at the campground we were gratified to see huge tall trees and an almost empty campground. We shared the area with only one other RV and it belonged to the camp host! What was amazing is the fact that this campground had 3 WiFi antennae placed around the campsites! We had a full 4 bars of reception there! The camp cost was a bit high at $24 for Water and Electric but the bathrooms and showers were a hit with me, very roomy showers and bathroom stalls and extremely clean. Wonderful water pressure too, I hate a wimpy shower! Our three fur-kids, Scotty, DoogieBowser and Radar loved all the squirrel smells and even a cat to bark at! Sorry I didn't take pictures!

Sunday April 17th 2011

We woke up well rested from the previous long day’s drive and ready to head to Arkansas and Lake Greeson to meet with our friends.   We followed 425 North to 82 West.  We stayed on this road, enjoying the way Arkansas towns listed their populations on the city limit signs.  On these roads less traveled, most populations were only several hundred per town.  Arkansas takes good care of it’s back roads and they are a joy to explore!
When we arrive at Magnolia, we changed from highway 84 West to highway 278 North. This was a very slow road! Twisty, turny, up and down type highway but incredibly scenic! We enjoyed each and every turn of the road while at the same time, eager to be at Lake Greeson.
Finally in Nashville Arkansas, Highway 27 took us north to Kirby where we turned west on highway 70.  Soon we were turning left to Lake Greeson and meeting our friends Larry and Betty Harmon and their furkid Poco!  About an hour later, Pete Marks and his smiley dog Oscar, returned from doing laundry! 

(in this photo- Pete Marks, Chuck Hajek, Larry Harmon-“The 3 Amigos”)                          

This was our third year of meeting at the infamous JugFest at Lake Greeson. JugFest is fishing for catfish using empty antifreeze jugs tied up with fishing lines, hooks and live bait. They place the bait on the hooks and throw them in the lake near sunset. Sunrise finds Larry in his boat with volunteers looking for his bright yellow jug floats and hopefully finding catfish attached!
Fishing was good when weather allowed! The whole time we were there, it rained and at night we had great displays of lightning followed by thunder rumbles and tornadoes dancing all around.  The weather may explain the small turn out of friends this year. Usually there are 6 – 10 campers coming and going with friends having a good time eating catfish and re-uniting with everyone. Gas prices are almost $1.00 per gallon higher this year than last year and I am sure that also kept a lot of folks away. But the five of us had a great time eating at the local restaurants and enjoying swapping favorite campgrounds and stories of our travels. 

April 19th 2011

Betty got only one chance to fry a wonderful catfish dinner for the five of us.  This was Pete’s last night, he leaves for Texas in the morning. The rain stayed away several hours so Betty set up her outdoor kitchen and cooked like crazy to feed all of us before the sky opened up dumping more rain on us! She cooks the best catfish dinners ever!

April 20th 2011

All too soon, it was time for Pete and Oscar to leave. He wanted to spend Easter with family and who could blame him?

Larry and Betty taught Chuck and I a new game called “Sequence”. We love it and played it often. Because of the weather, Chuck and Larry only got one chance to toss jugs. They yielded 3 big catfish!  Finally, it was time for the four of us to leave also!  We played one final game of Sequence which Betty and I won, becoming the “Champions”!

April 24th 2011

We left on Easter Sunday, April 24th.   Betty and Larry headed north to their docking station a few miles away and Chuck and I headed west, all of us heading into terrible weather. It rained off and on all day, we met head on strong winds but we made it to Texoma State Park. We had followed Highway 70 all day from Lake Greeson near Daisy Arkansas to Lake Texoma in Oklahoma on the Texas/Oklahoma border. Highway 70 is very good 2-lane roads with very little traffic. Texoma State Park was just about empty! Nobody camps in nasty weather. We heard about tornadoes in Arkansas and Alabama and we hoped all was well with Larry and Betty. We hunkered down to a night full of bright lightning flashes, loud thunder boomers and rain pounding the roof of the MotherShip!
We walked the dogs the next morning between the raindrops and puddles!  The world was gray and gloomy. We had been in rain or cloudy threatening clouds ever since we left Florida. The gloom is getting old!

To be continued....................
Happy Trails 

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