Thursday, March 22, 2018

A little fresh this morning

Temperature this morning was 31 degrees, however very little wind so not to bad getting ready to travel.  With the sun shining it didn't take long to rise into the 40s.

Made it back to the Martin Manor a little past 1:00 and now all necessities are unloaded from the camper but we will leave the power hooked up so some things in the fridge can stay until our next venture

That trip is planned to begin on April 9 heading down to Lake Sam Rayburn in eastern Texas.  Check back then for more adventures of fredandjo.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Gun Creek campground

Our final night on this trip on the banks of Rend Lake at the Gun Creek COE campground near Whittington, IL.

Out the windshield of our truck as we parked
 Same view outside the truck
 From across the street

Our reserved campsite is across the street and we would have had a great view out the back window of out camper but the driveway slopped so much we would have needed an elevator to get into our door.  The site we are now in is level enough that we don't need adjustments but now our only view of the lake is out our dining room window.

Current temperature is a chilly 47 with a northerly wind and low tonight predicted to be 29.  I ask again why did we move from the pleasant climate of the Gulf?  Because Jo has a doctors appointment Friday that's why.

Happy Vernal Equinox

Quite chilly this morning but supposed to warm up into the upper 40s on today's drive.  The sun is shining but not too far east of here it is snowing.  Why did we come back north when it was so nice and warm on the Gulf?

Vernal Equinox is where the days have lengthened to the point where there is equal hours of daylight and night.  Now between here and June 21 days will continue to become longer, Yea!  At least with full tanks of LP our furnace kept us nice and comfortable last night.  One more night and we will be back in the Martin Manor RV park.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Big time oops!!!!

Still a nice drive up the Trace to the Meriwether Lewis Memorial campground.  Took this picture of the memorial on our way into the campground.
In the background you can see a replica of the Log Inn (or Station as they were called in 1809).

The campground was very nice, primitive with no hookups. We sat up in a quiet level site and settled in for the evening.  We arrived shortly after noon so enjoyed lunch after setting up.  Temperatures had been dropping all day as we moved north and at noon it was around 35 degrees.  Without electricity we will just use our furnace and keep nice and warm all evening.

Mid afternoon I decided that since we have a generator to use for the microwave at supper time why not just run it a bit this afternoon to get our e-books and game computers charged up.  All worked great for awhile with the furnace keeping us nice and warm ---- that is up until the furnace quit working while it was 62 degrees inside and then the generator shut down.  Now what is going on???  A quick check out side let me know that we were out of propane.  We have two 30 lb tanks and I had thought, as we left home, that would be fine for the whole trip, not knowing just how much the generator would use plus the furnace.  Sure didn't expect such low temperatures this late in the month.

With no way to heat the camper and keep warm we had to do something fast.  I searched for the nearest full hookup campground and found a KOA within 30 miles (as the crow flies) so I called them to see if they could fill our LP tanks and provide a site for the night.  They were about to close their office but told us to come ahead and just call when we arrive as they live on the property.  It took us an hour of driving but still arrived before sundown and they were gracious to accommodate our needs after hours.

We are now in a comfortable camper with two full tanks of propane, the furnace set on 69 degrees, a good internet connection, and good cell phone service.  Tomorrow we will continue our travels toward the Manor without driving the last 60 miles of the Trace.

Meriwether Lewis

Tonight's campground is on the grounds of the Meriwether Lewis National Monument.  After he and his pal Clark made their trek up the Missouri River, across the mountains to the Pacific coast, and back President Jefferson then appointed him Governor of the Louisiana Territory where he made his home in the St. Louis area.  Facing near bankruptcy he headed to Washington DC to claim reimbursement of monies that were owed to him for expenses he paid out of pocket. He started down the Mississippi on a steam boat and planned to sail from New Orleans to Washington but instead he got off at Natchez and began to take the overland route up the Natchez Trace to Nashville and then East.  While stopped at an Inn along the way he was robbed and killed near this monument in October of 1809.  You can read more at this Wikipedia page. wiki/Meriwether_Lewis

Not sure we will be able to post tonight because of the remote location.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Day two along the Trace

We entered the South end of the Natchez Trace near Natchez, MS around 2:00 pm yesterday.  Then it was up the trace for about an hour to our first campground on the Trace, Rocky Springs Campground.  It is a part of the National Park and is a free, first come first served, no hookups campsite.  There was a restroom near the entrance from the Trace for use by both the campground and travelers along the Trace.

Our site was fairly level with just a minimum of blocking necessary.  I was surprised at how full the campground was by evening time.  Because it is time for the snowbird migration from the southern clime back north toward home, this Natchez Trace is a preferred avenue for that migration.  We stopped at a picnic area today for lunch and another camper pulled in behind us.  They were from Ontario Canada and have used the Trace for several years.  They had been in the same campground last night as us and are now in the same campground we are for tonight plus they plan to be in the same campground that we will use tomorrow night.

Here are a few pics from last nights campsite.

first picture of some dogwood before I wiped the mist from the lens
 after clearing the lens but sky is cloudy so still not very bright
Our site
 Another shot of dogwood near our site
This is tonight's front yard, Davis Lake
Our site for tonight was up hill then leveled off just right for our setup to be good

Last night was without any cell signal for either phone or internet, also no television.  So it was a quiet night of reading and puzzle games with an early bedtime.  Without any electric connection we had to rely on our battery system in the camper and was so glad that we had that taken care of a few days ago.  With that system working correctly we had those few days to get our batteries fully charged and now they functioned properly.  We did fire up the generator to run our microwave at supper time.

Tonight we have both electric and water hookups and can relax while the electric hookup puts our batteries back to full charge.  Tomorrow night we have another no hookup campground and know we will be able to manage.

Driving the Trace is a pleasure.  It is a 50 mph speed limit with no commercial vehicles, no billboards, no stop lights, no Walmart stores, no gas stations, nothing but mother nature's beauty.  With the cruise control set on 50, the truck in 6th gear mostly just idling along, it is relaxing and should produce much better fuel economy.  Tonight we are a little past half way of the 444 mile length of the Trace.  The first half was full of lots of dogwood blooms along the right-of-way plus back in the undergrowth, beautiful.  About the halfway mark we began to see some red buds starting to bloom and as we progressed further north they became more plentiful while the dogwood began to not be quite as open.  We also began seeing wisteria climbing the trees and in some areas a mass of lavender to the tops.  Tomorrow's trip will continue up the Trace and our campground tomorrow will be close to the north end.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

beautiful sounds

Sitting here with the windows open and listening to a mocking bird really singing away, beautiful sounds.  We also have had a whip-poor-will  most evenings with a very raspy voice.

This has been a very quiet campground with very little human noises.  We have truly enjoyed our time here on the Gulf but tomorrow we pack up and head North.  From here we plan to head to Natchez, Mississippi where we will get on the southern end of the Natchez Trace Parkway to follow the full 444 miles toward Nashville, TN.  We have three campgrounds along the Trace and will be moving each day.  The Trace is a 50 MPH speed limit and there are sights to see along the way so it will be slower going than if we were on the freeways.  Camping along the trace may be in some areas without cellular service and if so there will not be any postings to this blog.  I will post whenever possible.

From our final campground on the Trace we will be heading back to the Manor around Nashville and then through KY and IL.

Saint Patrick's Day

Hope all are wearing the green and enjoying St Patty's day.

It's nice and warm with overcast skies here in Ocean Springs, MS.  Rain had been forecast but today they say just mostly cloudy.  I had planned to take a hike around this park yesterday but because of the rain I didn't want to slip and fall in to become an alligator's meal.  This morning without the rain I did take a nice long hike from our campsite.

They call this salt marsh "the pond"

 This is looking back toward where picture #2 was taken from along the loop trail
 The loop trail was just a damp walk through some woods, but good exercise
 One very large Magnolia Tree
 First alligator and the biggest seen
 Saw a smaller one but wasn't able to get a picture then saw this one

After my walk I needed to relax and enjoy one of my Irish, St. Patrick's day pleasures.

Friday, March 16, 2018

In between day

Today is in between "the Ides of March" yesterday and "Erin Go Bragh" tomorrow.  Hope all survived the Ides yesterday and are looking forward to St Patty's day tomorrow, I'm ready with a bit of Guinness on hand but will have to enjoy the corned beef and cabbage when we get home.  We do that quite often in the crock pot any time of the year.  It will still be good even though not on the day of the wearing of the green.

We are now in a mild rain shower and the forecast is that may be our weather until Sunday when we depart the Gulf and head toward the Natchez Trace.

If there is a break in the showers I have plans to take a hike on a trail around the Davis Bayou for hopefully some nice nature pictures.  The ranger in the park says there are alligators that like to lay in the sun this time of year so will just have to see if they are around.

On our drives in and out of the campground we have seen this splash of bright white along the roadside and have tried to figure out what is was.  This morning I went to the grocery store for a few items and stopped to get a couple of pictures.  From these we have determined that it is a wild rose, very pretty and showy.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Shed

After talking about The Shed in this mornings post I got curious and did some searching and the more I found the more I had a taste for BBQ.  I found the location was only 7.5 miles from our campsite and told Jo we were going for lunch.

The building or buildings are a cobbled up mass of salvaged material and the floor is gravel but the Q was GOOD.  I had some pulled pork and Jo had chicken and both along with the sides were very good.  Now back to Gulf seafood.

Yum and Yum again

Our dinner last evening was great.  The restaurant was super popular as we had about a 25 minute wait for a table.  It was worth it for sure.  Here is a picture of my appetizer.

Jo stole one of them just to say she tried it.  She does this each time I have the opportunity to have oysters on the half shell.  Then the Chef must have misunderstood my order for a rack of ribs slathered in BBQ sauce and this is what was sent to the table.

Actually that is precisely what I ordered, lightly blackened grouper on a bed of slaw with steamed broccoli.  Jo ordered the same and we both enjoyed tremendously, de-lish.  We came south for some FRESH seafood.  The restaurant was "The Reef"   Actually there is a well known and popular BBQ & Blues place in this area called The Shed that is nationally known.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Happy Pi day to all

The mathematical value of Pi is 3.14............. and many decimal places.  Which is, the ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference.  So today's date of 3-14 is known as Pi day.

Now that our science lesson is over so is our electrical problem.  What we needed was some water in our batteries.  Well it was not quite that simple but it didn't cost us $300 dollars for a new converter.  The mobile tech was very good and checked out our system.  It seems that when I tried to replace the fuses in the converter I didn't unplug the converter first so when one fuse was inserted the converter would start up and try to push 45 amps through that 30 amp fuse, pop goes the weasel. If I had unplugged before inserting the fuse and then added the second fuse the converter would then have had 60 amps of fuse to push its 45 amp charge and all would have been well.  While the tech was here he ask to check our batteries as that might have caused our problem in the first place instead of the converter.  All cells of both batteries were low so we topped them all and put the system back together.  Our cost was his service charge.

Now after all that this morning, I have ask Jo to take me out to dinner tonight to see if we can find a good BBQ joint.  Ill post some pictures of that big ol' slab of ribs tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Always something, long story

This morning we were watching television and having breakfast when our CO alarm started it's beep warning that tells us the house batteries are low or down to about 50%.  This happened last year and we found that our 112 to 12 volt converter was on a GFI outlet that had sprung so it wasn't charging the batteries as it should.  Our television is on an inverter getting its power from the batteries so definitely a drain.

My first thought was to check the fuses on the converter which requires the basement storage to be emptied so I can crawl in.  There are two 30 amp fuses so I pulled both and couldn't see a break in the connector but they still could have been bad.  I went to town to find an auto parts store for some new fuses to insert and while there also stopped at a nice super market for a few grocery items.

On my return I found all windows and door of the camper open and Jo inside trying to cook up a batch of soup for lunch.  The smoke alarm had gone off while the stove was lit so she had opened the door and windows and turned on both ceiling fans.

I had already turned off the TV so that wasn't a drain but the ceiling fans are on the battery so now the CO alarm was going off again causing a lot of frustration in the house.  I pulled the battery from the smoke alarm and turned off the fans and eventually the alarms were silent and Jo was able to finish her soup.

I put the new fuses in the converter and they blew immediately both of them.  This isn't good, I thought.  My internet hotspot was also plugged into the TV outlet so I had no internet to do any googling for any information.  Then it was take out the ol' smart phone and use browser app to search for an RV repair shop nearby.  Rather than call them I decided to go and talk in person.  Ms Navi in the truck didn't know where this business was so I used Google Navigation App on the cell and it guided me right to the front door.

They will order a new converter for us and bring it out in the morning to install.  They  said it was an easy install that anyone could do, but I decided to pay them for the house call so they can check out the remainder of that system to perhaps find out why the converter went bad.

Long story but it has seemed like a long day.  And it's only 3:00 pm.

PS: Oh, Jo's soup was very good for lunch.  And I was able by using an extension cord to plug the TV into a different circuit along with my internet hotspot so we are back in business a little inconvenienced.


We got out yesterday into Biloxi for lunch.  We had two reasons for coming down to this part of the Gulf and they were warmer temperatures and fresh seafood.  The warmer temperatures we have already established that those were found and now I can tell you that we have a start on reason number two.  I say a start because I'm sure there will be other meals out.  This area is loaded with seafood restaurants and several we have already tried in previous visits.  Shaggy's has two locations along this beach and we have previously been to both so that is where we headed yesterday based on our previous experiences.

We both had fried oyster po-boys and then I had half of Jo's for supper last night, Yum.

One attraction in this area that we have already visited might be a little bit non-politically correct in today's climate of unrest over civil war monuments.  That is Beauvoir House which was the home of Jefferson Davis after the Civil War.  In our travels throughout the south we have toured several plantation homes and they are all interesting.  This was another interesting plantation style home tour and history lesson.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Davis Bayou

Here are a few pictures of our campsite.  This is a national park campground in the Gulf Islands National Seashore

We can see water between the trees behind us
Davis Bayou
The Gulf is abut a half mile south of here
 Palmetto bush near the bayou

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Eureka we have found it

In our search for SPRING we have been successful.  Got word today that it was snowing back home, so glad we moved out.  Our trip today was in the 60s and shirt sleeve weather.

Thursday as we entered into Arkansas we began to see daffodils, an early sign of spring.  As we passed through Memphis there were ornamental pear trees blooming and south of Memphis we saw red bud trees beginning to bloom.  Now today as we got further south in Mississippi the red buds were in full bloom along with beautiful wisteria hanging in some trees.  Then a few azaleas in bloom and occasionally a dog wood.  Now here in Ocean Springs, MS right on the Gulf, the azaleas are in full bloom and plentiful.

We have found SPRING! 😎

We are going to enjoy this for the next week and then take 5 days to return home so hopefully Mother Nature will have caused spring to happen back at the Manor by then.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

day of rest

Because of this being a popular State Park and usually busy on weekends they require any stay that includes either Friday or Saturday must reserve for two nights.  Since we arrived on Friday, I paid for the two nights, so we have had a nice day of rest today.  We will resume out trek to the Gulf tomorrow morning.

We have had a few brief light showers today with thunderstorms predicted for tonight.  According to the forecast they are supposed to end before we depart in the morning so I hope that is correct and I don't have to use my rain attire to get things all put away for traveling.  That rain suit is in the truck so I probably should bring it into the camper just in case their timing is off.  And, also hope that they are forecasting for the worst but the storms end earlier.  😕

Our pet pelican as we departed

Friday, March 09, 2018

Day 2, bad news --- good news

Twas a nice drive today except for traffic into and through Memphis.  After we cleared the metro area things smoothed out and it was a nice drive.  Yesterday in Arkansas we began to see daffodils, a sure sign of spring.  Today through and south of Memphis we saw lots of decorative pear trees in full bloom and as we got a bit further into Mississippi we began to see red bud trees staring to bloom, Jo is happy to see these signs of spring weather.

Now the bad news before we get to the good news.  I use google earth to search campgrounds for specific sites to reserve.  Sometimes the tree cover is so dense that I can't see any specific sight.  For tonight's site it was totally in the open and looked good.  There wasn't an attendant at the gate house so we just drove to our site and began to set up.  The site had more of a slope than was good for us and made it hard to get into and out of our entrance door but we were going to make it work.  Then I began to connect our power cord only to find the provided power box was a distance away between our site and close to the next site over.  I do carry a 30' extension cord along with our 30'  camper cord.  They wouldn't reach by 5' - 10'.  We paid for a water and electric site so didn't want to go the next two days here without.

We drove to the closest visitors center and ask about moving our reservation to another site that would work.  We were given permission to move to any site that didn't have a reservation marked on the site post.  We find out later that he was talking about a different campground than the one we were in.  Based on his recommendation we returned to our campground and moved to a good sight that we could fit in and our power cord would reach.

Now the good news.  As I was completing our setup connections a campground representative was driving by and stopped to check on who was occupying an unreserved site.  I walked out and visited with her and told our story.  She told me that the ranger at the visitors center where I had previously contacted was not connected with this campground in any way and had no authority to reassign any campsite.  She was nice enough to call her office and verify that this campsite was in fact available and authorized us to make the move so that was good news.  We are settled for the next two nights in a nice campsite, legally.

Here are a couple of campsite pictures.

 Our back yard, with our pet pelican

Last night's campsite

A couple of pictures of our setup.  We did have a couple of other campers in this loop last night but some distance from us.  They have already pulled out but we aren't leaving until about 10:00.  Since we aren't in any hurry, we plan 4 - 5 hour drives between campsites.

With the lake behind us

The overnight low this morning was right at 32 degrees, right now at 42.  Tomorrow night's low near Grenada, MS is forecast to be in the 50s.  Yea! no more below freezing temperatures for us on this trip and hopefully in two weeks when we get back home there will be no more there also.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

On the road again

It feels good to be on the move again.  After what seems like a long winter of thumb twiddling now we are active.  We are tonight in Lake Charles State Park near Powhatan, AR.  This is a fairly large campground and from where we are located we can't see any other campers.  At least we won't have noisy neighbors.

Enjoyed greatly a nice long lunch with sister Neva in West Plains.  It was good to get a couple of hugs from her and to get caught up on her kids and grands.

Tomorrow's trip will take us through Memphis into Mississippi and a MS State Park.

Monday, March 05, 2018

about ready

We now have the camper almost stocked except for last minute food items.  We need to do some grocery shopping for fresh veggies, fruit, and lunch time snacks.

We will need to turn the furnace on tomorrow night and Wednesday night to keep the pipes that are now full of fresh water from freezing.  Those two nights are predicted to be in the mid 20s.  I will set the thermostat to a low temp just to keep things above 32 degrees.  After that we should be well above freezing for the rest of the trip and our small electric heater should keep us comfortable.

Today I refreshed the guide marks on our truck bed.  I put white duct tape on this location last year to help guide my backing under the camper.  This is the exact location for the base of the camper to align correctly but last years tape had become soiled and shifted therefore the need to refresh.

These marks along with the backup camera that is located just above the center of the back cab window helps align the camper when loading.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Running in circles

Started getting ready for a Thursday departure on our (seems to be annual first) outing southward to the Gulf.of Mexico.  First thing is to flush out the pink antifreeze in the plumbing so we can load the fresh water tank.  I usually put all our hoses together connected to our water filter that I remove the filter and fill the canister with bleach.  That way I fill the fresh water tank with high chlorine concentration in order to sanitize the tank while the chlorine solution also sanitizes the hoses.  Then came the oops!

Seems the only item I failed to winterize was the filter which always stays with some water from last usage.  Yes it froze and burst some time during the winter so I was off to town for a replacement.  First stop Lowe's, sure to find it there, but while they had some similar filters they were more designed for whole house plumbing and I didn't think I could make them work.  Passed right on by Walmart, keeping that as a last resort, my next stop was Ace Hardware.  Took one home that I thought would work but found that the pipe size for the connection was too small for my fittings.  That caused another trip to town for a reducer fitting to make it work and that wasn't available so okay off to Walmart.

Found one that I thought would work but when I tried to match it with my connections that one needed a larger connection than I had.  In all my confusion I had forgotten what I had found at Lowe's so went back there to look and realized that they didn't have anything I could use.  Returned to Walmart to return that unit and went back to Ace Hardware and bought a different one from before.  That one still didn't work so I give up for this trip.

Most of our campgrounds for this next trip are electric only connections so we will be using our own water which is a tank full of Holts Summit, Callaway County water district number 1, water that we are used to so this trip will just not be using filtered water.

Now to get the freezable items back in and normal closet and pantry items loaded.

Still excited to get back on the road again.