Monday, November 04, 2013


Over the weekend Jo and I cleared out all items that could freeze and stored them in our basement for use next summer.  Today I picked up four gallons of pink stuff (RV non-toxic antifreeze) and just now finished pumping that through all the plumbing to protect the trailer from the expected freezing temperatures that we can expect this winter.  It only takes 2-1/2 gallons but I always want to have more just in case.

Now we just look out our back windows and think about how much fun we can have next summer.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The summer of 2013 at a glance

In the following, miles listed are those that our trailer moved and do not include our use of the truck while driving around an area where parked.

March (18 days - 2559 miles - 10.36 avg mpg - 3.903 avg $/gal)

We have some friends from mid Missouri, that we used to square dance with, who go down to the Rio Grande valley every winter and become winter Texans.  They have asked us several times to come for a visit so that was our goal for this trip.  Since Missouri weather is hard to plan for in early March when we left on March 11 we took the most direct route to get south to warmer temperatures.  That is through Memphis and straight south from there to Louisiana.  From there we turned west toward Texas and then south to the southern tip, or Rio Grande valley.  This is a popular snowbird area for RVers with many big RV resort parks.  While we enjoyed our visit with friends this isn't a place that we see ourselves spending any time in the future.

April (16 days - 1735 miles - 10.76 avg mpg - 3.779 avg $/gal)

This was another trip to go south for warmer temperatures.  We headed toward the Gulf Shores of Alabama to spend a week enjoying the sun and fresh Gulf seafood.  On the return trip northward we stopped for a few days in Montgomery, Alabama and visited the Hank Williams museum.

May (18 days - 1989 miles - 10.89 avg mpg - 3.705 avg $/gal)

This trip was to tour and visit northern New Mexico.  We had visited southern NM around Carlsbad and on several trips westward have passed through northern NM but this time we wanted to spend some time around Santa Fe.  Before we left home a friend told us about the hot air balloon rides that are available in the Taos, NM area so we changed our destination to Taos.  We did enjoy the balloon ride very much and also the area around Taos is just beautiful in a rustic southwestern kind of way.  On our way homeward we did encounter the Moore, OK tornado which was heading directly toward our campground for that night.  We left the trailer and drove out of the path while listening to the radio coverage of the damage.  The tornado lifted only a few miles before hitting our campsite and we fortunately had no damage but that was a close call.

June (20 days - 3250 miles - 12.41avg mpg - 3.833 avg $/gal)

When we first started our retirement travels Jo began collecting coffee mugs for each state and along the way she did get a few state t-shirts.  After completing her 50 coffee mug collection she then decided to complete the 50 state t-shirt collection and make them into a quilt.  There were five states in the northeast that she needed so that was the goal for this trip.  We picked up Phyllis along the way and spent most of our time in the northeast New England states to accomplish the t-shirt hunt.  We got to spend some good time with Phyllis and see some areas that we had only passed through on previous trips.

July (14 days - 1666 miles - 11.97 avg mpg - 3.729 avg $/gal)

After the June t-shirt hunt Jo only needed two more state t-shirts to complete her collection of 50.  Those needed states were North Dakota and Minnesota so that is the direction we headed.  But first we couldn't be sure that we could make any plans for this month as Jo was placed on jury duty for this the third quarter of the year, 3 months of being available for two weeks of being on call.  We contacted the court secretary and arranged for Jo's two week period to occur in the middle of August so this June trip was then back on schedule.  We enjoyed our time in the land of 10,000 lakes and did accomplish the goal of the two t-shirts.  Now this winter she has her quilt project all ready for her to begin.

August - no trip due to jury duty, and fortunately she didn't have to serve

September (17 days - 1150 miles - 12.60 avg mpg - 3.882 avg $/gal)

With our satellite television connection we have enjoyed the RFD-TV channel with several country music shows.  One of those shows is the Midwest Country show that originates from Sandstone, MN and while we were there in July we were able to visit and enjoy that show in person.  Some of the other shows that we enjoy come from or talk about the Renfro Valley music complex in eastern KY so that was the first destination for this September trip.  While in Renfro Valley we did see two country music shows and the Kentucky music hall of fame.  We also toured and tasted several bourbon distilleries that are spread around this part of KY.  On the way homeward we stopped in Nashville and enjoyed the Grand Ole Opry along with some other country music attractions.

October (16 days - 1134 miles - 10.47 avg mpg - 3.642 avg $/gal)

The goal for this trip was just to spend some leisure time around three different lakes in Arkansas with a side trip to Chanute, KS for some factory service to our traveling home.  In addition we did make another side trip up to Branson, MO for a country music show and a visit with some very good friends.  The average mpg and $/gal above will change slightly after I do a final fill of our tank in the next few days.  Today (11/5/13) I filled the truck tank as I don't like to leave it sit for any time not full to prevent condensation in the tank.  The above averages have been corrected to reflect to final numbers for this trip.

Friday, November 01, 2013

a BEAUTIFUL day for a drive through the Ozarks

This morning the sun came up and the clouds stayed away for our drive letting the bright sunlight show off all the beautiful tree color.  We had a group wish us a safe trip on our way out of the campground, 6 deer in one group and a single across the road from them.  When we got to West Plains we had a welcome to Missouri committee of one.  Our sister Neva took a little time off from the library to meet us and have a nice long coffee break with some family gossip.  The rest of the drive, there were a lot of areas of just oaks with dark brown or rusty colors and then every so often a splash of more vibrant color made this a very good fall color drive for us.

We stopped in Rolla for lunch and made it back to the ol' Martin Manor a little before 2:00 pm.  Jo  has four months to get this laundry done before we head out again. ;-)

In the next few days I plan to put together a summary of our trips for 2013 and post it here on this blog.  Then it's back to planning mode for 2014, which isn't that far away.  Time flies when you're having fun, or as the frog says "times fun when you're having flys."

check back in a few days for the summary.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

some of the tree color

I just now took a walk around this campground with my camera.

a funny thing happened on the way to our campsite

When we arrived at the campground and stopped at the check in station there wasn't anyone there.  We have seen that before at COE campgrounds but usually they have a sign posting the time that someone will be there and we go ahead to our site and return later to register.  I had made a reservation, which I usually do, but hadn't written down the site number and needed the host to tell me what site we had.  I usually have a printout of our reservations and don't know why I hadn't done that for this trip, note to self be sure to have a print of reservation locations.

There wasn't any time posted or listing of reserved sites so I walked over to the host RV site and knocked on the door but no one was home.  I knew that I had our reservations saved in our email on the computer but without an internet connection that wasn't available.  Lucky for us another camper was driving out of the park and stopped to ask if they could help.  They told me that the host always took Tuesdays and Wednesdays off so was not available.  I told them our plight and they said that they thought they probably knew where there was a reserved site like I told them we were supposed to be in.  They took us into the park and we found our site that was reserved with an orange traffic cone.  After getting set up and able to get our computer connected I confirmed that we were in the correct site and all is well.  As it turns out, that very helpful couple were the only other campers in the campground.  Later as we drove out of the park to find a few groceries we saw that the host RV was GONE so not only did they take the two days off they got an early departure because the campground shuts down after Thursday.  Later I realized that I could have read our saved emails on my smart-phone but didn't think of that when I needed it.

As we drove out to the grocery store we saw a small herd of deer, 4 or 5, just grazing beside the road.
  After the grocery store, we stopped at Fred's Fish House (they didn't honor my owners discount) for a very nice catfish dinner.  We were seated by a window at the back of the restaurant and looking out at the field we saw 3-4 deer also grazing near the edge of the woods.  This has been a great wildlife viewing trip.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

almost a very beautiful drive

I say almost because it would have been wonderful if the sun had been out to show the full value of the tree colors that were plentiful.  The first half of this mornings drive was through dense fog and the only scenery that we could see were the painted lines on the highway a few yards in front of us.  Then the fog cleared and the rain started.  We could still see the color in the trees but not as bright as if it were in bright daylight.  We had a few miles with sunlight but the majority of the drive was overcast with clouds.  Our GWF was with us at arrival in the campground and held the rain at bay during setup.

We are now in a COE campground on the banks of Norfork Lake near Henderson, AR.  I remember years ago when driving across this lake you had to use a ferry but now there are bridges.  We are here until Friday when we will head toward the ol' Martin Manor RV park for the winter. ;-(  On the happy side of things here is a picture of our current site and the view from our dining room window.

Monday, October 28, 2013

a quiet restful day

We have enjoyed a nice quiet day watching the geese in the lake and the squirrels around our trailer.

Tomorrow we move  over to Lake Norfork (I just found out that I have  been misspelling this lake name) for three nights before heading back to the Martin Manor.  The weather forecast the rest of this week is for a good chance of rain but that will not be a problem once we get set up.

Then it will be winterize the trailer and put it to rest for the winter. ;-(

This has been a good year of traveling so next month I will start planning for 2014, stay tuned.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

nice visit

We had a very nice visit with Matt and Sara last evening.  They now live in Little Rock but we met them in Conway (in between our campground and LR) where they used to live.  It was a nice local restaurant apparently very popular as the tables were full with folks waiting the whole time we were there.

We made it back to the trailer around the middle of the third quarter of the MU Tigers football game against South Carolina.  At that time it was looking good with MU up by 14-0 which soon became 17-0.  Then the fourth quarter happened and we lost in the second overtime by a missed field goal.  The good news is that the Cardinals won in the ninth with an unusual refs call of obstruction.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

a weekend at a popular campground

Here are a couple of pictures of our campsite.  One is the view from our front door and the other is a look back at our site.

We are not as isolated as we were in the last weeks campground but still this park is well maintained and clean.  That is the way we have found all the COE campgrounds that we have stayed in so far.  This Lake Dardanelle is on the Arkansas River and apparently a good fishing lake as we have watched several boats launch just across the road from our site.

We have plans this evening to meet Matt and Sara for dinner in Conway and are looking forward to that visit.

Friday, October 25, 2013

beautiful drive

Today's trip through the Boston Mountains in North West Arkansas was very nice with many splashes of color in the timber.  This mornings temperatures were only in the upper 30s and not the deep freeze that was predicted.  There was a lot of frost on the meadows along the way.

We are now settled in our campsite at Lake Dardanelle and it is another beautiful area.  We are not quite as isolated from others as we were at Beaver Lake but still the COE campgrounds are some of the best for relaxed camping.  I'll have a few pictures before we leave this site.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

on our way back toward Arkansas

The trip from Chanute to Lake Dardanelle, a bit west of Little Rock, is more of a drive than we usually like to make so since our service was finished at 10:00 this morning we then headed to Joplin where we will be a couple of hours closer to our destination for tomorrow.

Our GWF (Good Weather Fairy) is a little afraid to show her face this evening as the low temperature for tomorrow morning is supposed to be around 30° so I made sure that our LP tanks were full.  Our heat pump works great down to around 40° but below that we have to use the propane furnace.  I didn't connect the water hose for tonight and we will use from our on board fresh water tank and not have to worry about a frozen hose in the morning.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Out of the woods for a couple of days

Our original plans for this trip were to spend a few days at three lakes in Arkansas and then take the trailer to Chanute, KS for some factory maintenance before heading home for the winter.  Because of doctor appointments and the government shutdown we had to delay the start of this trip so moved two of the lake area campgrounds to after Chanute and before our trip back to Martin Manor.  We moved today from Beaver Lake in Arkansas to the free (for two nights) Chanute city campground near the NuWa factory.  Tomorrow we have an appointment for our annual maintenance and then will head back to Arkansas for the two other lake areas arriving home on November 1.

On our way out of the campground early this morning our deer herd was out to see us off.  We saw 2 or 3 singles and a group of at least 4 in another sighting.  We also got away from out campsite before the blue birds came back to redecorate our mirrors.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

like clockwork

Each evening we have seen our deer herd and each morning our flock of  blue birds are fluttering around our campsite.  Last evening with the cloud cover at sunset we only saw a silhouette of one deer moving through the campground but we're sure the others were close by.  The blue birds like our truck and seem to want to perch on our mirrors and leave their marks, dirty birds but we love them.

We had hoped that on this trip we would be able to see at least some fall tree color.  Throughout our days of driving so far we have seen some very pretty color in a few areas.  Here is a picture that I just now took out our front door and it shows a bit of color starting to show in the bluff across the lake.

Monday, October 21, 2013

rain showers

Most of the day has been showers but no strong storm or winds, just gentle rain.  The fishermen have been active outside our front door so I guess the fish have been biting.  I told Jo to go down to the bank and wave at them so they might give us some of their catch.

We have just been enjoying the semi-isolation and quiet camping site.  We did see our dear herd (misspelling intended) again last evening at dusk and our blue birds were around our site this morning again.  There are some geese in the area as we can hear their honking occasionally.

I did run into Rogers to a Wall-Mart for a few items this morning.  Ms Navi said that it was 6.0 miles away but I soon found out that was as the crow flies and not as the snake crawls which is how roads in these hills have been built.  I kind of like these roads as I know that I am an official hillbilly.  The low temperatures are forecast to be in the mid 30s tonight and tomorrow night with highs only in the lower 60s, nice.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Horseshoe Bend COE campground

We really like our campsite with no other campers anywhere near us.  We are out in the open, not in the trees, but with the current temperatures that is okay.  Just before dark yesterday we saw a herd of deer running through the park, must have been 10-12.  This morning as I was heading to Rogers, AR I saw one on the side of the road and then as I came back to the trailer I saw another one just grazing in the campground.  We also had a flock of blue birds around our picnic table a little after sunrise this morning.

I found a Firestone tire store in Rogers that was open on Sunday and had them check the tire that went low pressure on yesterday's trip.  All they found was a leek through the bead seal to the rim and was able to reseal and remount that wheel for the continuation of this trip.  The tread on our truck tires are getting close to replacement time but we will check on that when we get back home.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


We only had a 90 mile drive today but it was good to have time for a flat tire.  It was a truck tire and the dash indicated "low air" but we were on Rte 76 between Branson and Cassville so some of you know this is a narrow two lane with twisty curves and no shoulders.  When we got to an intersection of MO-76 and MO-39 there was enough of a shoulder for us to stop.  When I stopped the tire was still up but didn't read on my gauge.  I called our Emergency Road Service provider and they tried to find a service to help us.  After quite some time they were not able to find anyone to help us so I jacked up the front legs of the trailer to take that load off of the truck and then used my bottle jack to lift the tire in question.  After reading the owners manual for how to remove the spare tire I was able to make the trade with lots of huffing and puffing.  The spare tire had not been checked since new so it needed some air to put it at the 80 psi that I needed.  I connected my 12V compressor to our trailer batteries and brought it up to its required 80 psi so we could continue.

While we were sitting waiting for our emergency road service to assist us we at least were able to find a radio station with the Mizzou Tigers football game and listened to most of the first half, Yea MIZZOU.

The spare was mounted and now I will find a tire service in Rogers, Arkansas on Monday to check it out and then we will be okay for the rest of the trip.

We are so happy that the federal parks are back open and this site is beautiful these pictures are of our site and our view from our back living room window, very nice!

Friday, October 18, 2013

a nice day in Branson

We've had a very good day in Branson so far and expect the rest of the day to be great also.  We joined Larche and Marianne this morning and found the "Quilts and Quilts" store.  Marianne likes to sew as well as JoAnn and she was the one that wanted to find this store.  She had shopped at this store several times in the past but last spring a tornado ripped through its original location.  We found  that they had opened in a new location with a bigger and better store.  Aside from all the fabric and notions available to buy they had many beautiful art work quilts on display in the rafters.  Jo was the only one to find something to purchase, a book about t-shirt quilts.

After the quilt store we then drove to the Landing shops because Larche wanted to look for some new walking shoes.  After a nice lunch in the Landing it was then time for an afternoon nap.  Jo and I will go to their motel later this afternoon and we will find some dinner on our way to the theater for the Marty Stuart show.

We all can't believe the traffic along route 76.  I know it was terrible a few years ago with the music show boom but now a lot of the theaters have closed and many of the big name headliners are no longer here but still the traffic jams make it hard to get around unless you know the bypass routes.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The government is back to open, yea

Since our so called representatives in DC chose to delay the confrontation until Jan. and Feb. our Corps of Engineers parks will now be open and our trip can follow plan "A".

We had a nice short drive this morning to Branson and are resting now at our KOA campground.  Our very good friends Larche and Marianne are joining us for a country music show tomorrow evening and they have just now checked into their motel nearby.  We will join them for a nice dinner this evening and see what kind of mischief we can get into tomorrow before the show.

On Saturday Jo and I will head toward Rogers, AR and a COE campground near Beaver Lake.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Back at the Manor

Back in home port for a couple of weeks.  We both really enjoyed this trip very much.  On our recent trips and what we plan for the future is to spend more time a our destinations and enjoy what that particular area has to offer.

Now its "get the laundry done" and load back up because our next outing begins two weeks from yesterday.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On our way home

We left Nashville this morning on our way back toward Missouri and tonight's stop is in Benton, IL.  This is near Rend Lake recreation area and some time we might come back to this area and spend a few days.  We have been to this KOA three other times, twice in 2010 and once last year.  It is a convenient four hour drive home from here.

Our GWF is still hanging around for us.  We had rain showers most of the night last night and this morning early.  It quit about an hour before we had to pack up for travel.  We also had a few drops around noon while on the road but mostly just stayed cloudy which is always nice for driving.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

a better day

I'm doing much better today, its marvelous what just three little pills can do.  The instructions are to take the whole ten day prescription so that is what I will do and drink lots of water.

This has been a super trip and we have enjoyed both eastern Kentucky and north central Tennessee.  Tomorrow we start the trip back towards the Martin Manor with just a one night stopover in Benton, Illinois.  If all goes as planned we will head out again on Oct. 9 for some quiet time around three lakes in Arkansas.

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 23, 2013

interesting morning

I understood that the Gibson mandolin factory was inside the Opryland Mall and even the Google Earth pictures show its location.  This morning we drove there and didn't find a store front where it should have been.  I went inside the mall and ask at an information kiosk where they told me that Gibson didn't rebuild or return after the 2010 flood that wiped out this whole valley.  At that flood there was four feet of flood water over the Grand Ole Opry stage and through all the Mall stores.

With no mandolin factory to tour we then spent the rest of the morning at a hospital emergency room.  I have had symptoms the past couple of days and Dr JoAnn confirmed my diagnosis so off to a hospital we went.  The examining Doctor, after the results of my UA, agreed with our assumptions and gave me an antibiotic prescription for my UTI.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saturday night at the Grand Ole Opry

We both really enjoyed our night at the Opry.  I would have enjoyed it more if they were still like their much earlier shows, all acoustic without the high volume amplified electric instruments.  A few acts performed with only their own guitars and without the backup band and they were much easier to listen to even tho their guitars were plugged in.  There were several new acts that we had never heard of along with a few oldies but goodies.  We were in the upper tiers of the balcony so center stage was quite far away.  They did have big screens at the sides showing the performances up close.  The good part about being in the balcony is that the risers between seat rows are high enough that a tall person in front of anyone doesn't bother the view of the stage.

The list of performers in order of appearance with my opinions

Jeannie Seely - good
Morgan Frazier - not so much
The Whites - great
Jim Ed Brown - good
Jean Shepard - great
American Young - okay
John Conlee - good
Jan Howard - good
Jonathan Jackson - not so much (cast member of TV show Nashville)
Opry Square Dancers - fun to watch, been there done that
Bill Anderson - good
Sons of Fathers - okay
Charles Esten - good (cast member of TV show Nashville)

With the 4,000+ seats, that looked to be mostly full, you can imagine the parking lot that is shared with the Opryland mall.  We needed a GPS device to help find our truck after it was over.  Many other folks were pushing the panic button on their key fobs to get an audible location on theirs.  We wandered around for a little bit but the lock/unlock button on our key fob finally showed us some flashing lights to be a good beacon to our ride home.

We have nothing planned for today (yet) but still have Monday and Tuesday here in Nashville to check out anything else that we find interesting.  I do want to visit the Gibson mandolin factory one of those days.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day three

Tonight it's Opry time but today we are just resting.  We did make a short trip out to a Kroger for a few groceries.  I had to grin when the clerk ask for my ID to buy some beer.

Now we are just resting and listening to some CDs.  The current one playing is an Everly Brothers that Jo picked up this morning.  This CD includes some of our favorites from the past such as "All I have to do is dream," "Devoted to you," "Let it be me," and "True Love."  They sure had the best family harmony.  When we are just resting around the trailer we usually have the tv on and when there isn't any program that we want to watch we tune to a music channel and let it be playing in the background.  As now, we can also play our own CDs.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Nashville day two

This morning we had tickets for a tour back stage at the Opry house.  It was very interesting to see the star dressing rooms and studio A where many TV shows are taped including Hee Haw and the new show titled Nashville.  We then went on stage and had our photo taken on the 6 foot round piece of the Ryman flooring that was brought over for nostalgia and continuation of traditions.  This was not removed from center stage at the Ryman but from the stage entrance so that every performer at the Ryman had walked across this piece of flooring.  We will be back here Saturday night for the Opry and are looking forward to that experience, our seats are up in the balcony.

 props and costumes from the show "Nashville"
 Mail boxes for all members of the Grand Ole Opry

 the 6 foot section of flooring from the Ryman
 again the dynamic duo

After the tour of the Opry house we boarded the General Jackson paddle wheel river boat for a lunch tour on the Cumberland River.  It was a three hour trip that included a very good buffet with a stage show of the Shotgun Red band.  It was a very good performance of a great variety of country music and the individual musicians were excellent.  The crowd that boarded the boat was divided into two buffet sessions and shows and we were in the first group.  When we left the dining hall the second group came in for their lunch buffet and show.  After our lunch we walked around the decks and ended up on the top deck where a couple of guys were playing country music to requests and it was great fun.

 The guitar and base players were the act on this top deck but this man was from the crowd that came up and sang a Merl Haggard song very well.
 Looking forward to the skyline of Nashville just before we turned around and headed back up river.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nashville day one

We purchased a package of tickets for our tour of this country music capitol of the world.  Our first stop this morning was the Ryman Auditorium with the following pictures:

The mother church of Country Music

 The dynamic duo center stage at the Opry.  They wouldn't give me time to put it in tune.

Then we drove a few blocks to the Country Music Hall of Fame.  There were lots of exhibits  but we got a few pictures of some of the displays as follows.

 A very early model of Martin guitar
 Connie Smith's guitar
 Buck Owen's red, white, and blue guitar
 Bill Monroe's early mandolin
 Earl Scruggs banjo
 Lester Flatt's Martin guitar
 Hank's Martin guitar
 the car from Smokey and the Bandit
 costume sewing machine

 Patsy Cline
 Loretta Lynn

Ricky Skaggs early mandolin played on stage at the Opry at age 7
Kellie Pickler's dress and mirror ball trophy from Dancing with the Stars
Taylor Swift