Sunday, July 31, 2016

On My Way To Everywhere, Again

Location: Maumelle Park (Corp of Engineers Campground); Little Rock, Arkansas

Yep, I'm on my way to everywhere again. It's been 105 days since Brandon's stroke and he has recovered enough to where he takes himself to Physical/Occupational Therapy which will continue for a while. Although I love him and the rest of my family very much, it was decided that things had settled down to the point where I should hit the road again instead of hovering around waiting for a need to arise. So, that is what I did last Friday. But it wasn't without incident.

I have a set of Temperature/Pressure reading devices mounted on the valve stems of each tire on Liberty. It allows me to monitor the temperature and pressure as we travel down the road. It will also warn me of a sudden loss in pressure so as to give me time to slow down, if possible. I also use them to check the tire pressure simply by reading the portable monitoring screen. I usually do this on the morning of my traveling days while I get things travel ready inside Liberty. Since I had been stationary for over 3 months, I figured I better check them a couple days earlier. It's a good thing I did since one of the tires was down to 10 pounds. Wow. Not good.

Luckily, there is a place in Mansfield (Auto World) that works on vehicles and tires. It is the place Brandon used to work before his stroke. They also have a very large parking lot which would work with Freedom and Liberty hitched. Since the tire had a slow leak, the plan was to air it up and stop by Auto World on my way out of town. I was hoping it was just a bad valve stem, which it was, but the tire also had a nail stuck along the sidewall of the tire. A new trailer tire was going to be needed which Auto World doesn't sale. I called Brandon who brought me his truck so I could use it to get a new tire from another store in town. To make a long story, short, I was back on the road after about 2 hours at Auto World. 

After leaving Mansfield and looking at a 5 hour tow, I started thinking about the tire incident. I'm one of those people that believe everything happens for a reason. Sometimes that reason is easily figured out and other times it stays a mystery. So, I started putting the pieces together to see if I could figure out what had happened. The nail had not punctured the tire, but it was stuck along the sidewall about 1 inch deep. The bad valve stem is what caused the loss in pressure. Had I not have been stationary long enough for the tire to lose so much pressure, I would have never noticed the nail. Eventually that nail would have moved enough to rip the sidewall and cause a blow out, which on trailers can be dangerous and do a lot of damage. As it is, instead, I have a new tire and lost 2 hours of travel time. I am way, way ahead of the game. Thank you, thank you.

Although it was only about 7:00 am when I hitched up, it was already hot and very humid. My shirt was soaking wet with sweat by the time I finished. I'm pretty sure the sweating had everything to do with the weather and nothing to do with my healthy weight. The trip was about 250 miles of mostly interstate highways. I had reservations at a Corp of Engineers campground just to the west of Little Rock, Arkansas. The campground has lots of shade trees and lucky me, there was a vacancy right on the banks of the Arkansas river, which is an easy stones throw behind Liberty. 
Nice Campsite on the Arkansas River
I was racing against approaching storms again. I was checking Accuweather on my cell phone about every 30 minutes as I was watched the thunder storms enter Arkansas from the northwest while I entered from the southwest. Comparing the speed and direction of the storms with my intended route, it appeared we were going to meet at Little Rock, my destination. Knowing every minute would count in either setting up camp in the dry or having to wait out a storm, I kicked Freedom and we sped up a little bit. About 30 minutes from the campground, I could see the skies turning dark with lightening flashing in the distance. When I pulled into the campground, I rushed through the check-in process and the camp hosts knew why. I found my site, which was a passenger side back-in, but stuck the landing in one shot (not as rusty as I thought I would be). I quickly set up camp to the sounds of thunder. As I finished and took a quick picture of the campsite, a few raindrops began to fall. About 30 minutes later, a severe storm hit the campground, but we rode it out just fine, no problems.The storms came back last night and are suppose to come back again tonight. I will be pulling out of here Monday and the weather forecast looks like it will follow me on into Missouri. We will see how that goes.

Geese on Parade. There must have been several dozen that walked from the edge of the river to a vacant campsite in front of Liberty. 
My plan was not to explore a lot of this area and mostly just kick back, relax and try to get back into traveling mode. But there was one place I wanted to see which was "The Old Mill". Yeah, yeah, I know it was in the opening credits of some fly-by-night small movie made over 75 years ago. And I know the movie won a few Academy Awards. I think the name was "Gone Somewhere", no that's not right, it was "Gone With The Wind". But frankly, my dear, I don't give a ,,,,,,. Ok, enough of that. The reason I wanted to see The Old Mill was its Concrete Artistry. Uh? Concrete Artistry? 

It was never a working mill and was built in 1933 to resemble an old abandoned grist mill. A land developer was creating housing developments (subdivisions) in North Little Rock and had a piece of property that wouldn't work for houses. Instead he contracted with a Mexican Artist/Architect to develop the few acres into a park as memorial to his deceased business partner. The specialty of the artist was making reinforced concrete look like ordinary things such as trees, shrubs and even water wheels. Just about everything you see at The Old Mill is concrete. Now I've seen a lot of concrete poured and cured over my working career but I was super impressed with this guys artistic use of concrete. Keep in mind this was done 83 years ago. It was definitely worth the 15 mile trip to see it. As an added bonus, the admission is free.

As you look at the pictures, remember almost everything is made of concrete.

This is as close as I could get to the view in the opening credits of the movie

Spooky looking bridge. 

Side view of the bridge

Top walkway of the bridge. Remember, all concrete

Looking up at the mill building from the bridge.

Even the water wheel is made out of concrete and still works.

This is a combination foot bridge and roots from the fallen tree on the left. (all concrete)

The foot bridge to the mill

Looking out of one of the windows of the mill house

My favorite. A bench!!! Made out of concrete to resemble logs

Parting look at The Old Mill

I found this historic picture online. It didn't say who took the picture, so I can't give credit to the photographer. The time is the mid 1930's. Of all of the trees along the side of the water downstream of the mill have been removed and is now a nice neighborhood. 
When I got back to the campground, the power was off in the entire campground. Checking the internet, it was off in a large portion of western Little Rock. I figured I would wait it out so I got a chair and kicked back.

After about 45 minutes of that, I decided I would rather wander around the area in Freedom (hint, hint, air conditioning in Freedom). Off we went with the intent to get lost for a little while. I drove around downtown Little Rock with no idea of where we were, but we weren't lost, since we were still in Little Rock. It wasn't as if we didn't know what city we were driving in. Eventually, I turned west and headed back to the campground. I figured I would intersect I-430 which runs north and south on the western side of the city. Sure enough, I found I-430 and wouldn't you know it, I also found a familiar restaurant. Since the power "might" still be off at the campground, I decided to get a bite to eat at his fancy restaurant.


Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.       

Monday, July 25, 2016

More "Wow's" (part 8 of ?) (2/1/2016 to 4/18/2016)

Location: Rockdale RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

This is part 8 of a series of posts where I post a picture or two from a location that I really liked. I call them "wow" spots because usually when I saw them, I said, wow. Since I travel alone, it doesn't matter if I say it out loud or just to myself. Although if people are around, I try to be quiet about it or else they look at me funny as though I'm talking to myself. Now I'm not saying I don't talk to myself when I'm traveling, but so far (knock on wood), I haven't answered myself on a regular basis. So far, so good. 

This post gets me caught up to where I am currently, however, I'll be pulling out of here this Friday, 7/29/2016. 

Old style Mardi Gras in Iota, Louisiana

Learning about Cajuns, Creoles and Acadiens at Vermillionville, Louisiana

The Gulf of Mexico at Grand Isle State Park, Grand Isle, Louisiana. It is a long ways from nowhere, but a great place to relax.

Coffee and Beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans.

You can see a lot of the town by riding the New Orleans Streetcars. Cheap site-seeing

The Battle of New Orleans Battlefield. Chalmette, Louisiana

Rebuilt beach houses at Waveland, Mississippi. Everything was wiped out during Hurricane Katrina.

Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico near Waveland, Mississippi

A monument to the "Dogs of War". It is the first and only one I have found that pays tribute to the canine corps of the armed forces. It is at the U.S.S. Alabama Military Park.

Sunset over Lake Seminole, Chattahoochee, Georgia.

Lake Seminole and Liberty

The moss draped trees of south east Georgia.

The Atlantic Ocean from the coast of Georgia

Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina

The Georgia Guidestones, Middle of Nowhere, outside of Atlanta, Georgia

My lucky day. A tornado or straight line winds flipped the neighboring RV. It sucked the wheel chocks out from under Liberty wheels. This is at Old Federal Campground.

Side road while driving the Cherohala Highway in the southern Smoky Mountains.

A waterfall along the Cherohala Highway

One of the many great view from the Cherohala Highway

The Hermitage. Andrew Jackson's home outside of Nashville, Tennessee

Watching the tow boats on the Mississippi River in rural Mississippi about 45 minutes south of Memphis, TN

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

More Wow's (part 7 of ?) (10/4/2015 to 11/3/2015)

Location: New Rockdale RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

This is the seventh part of a multi-part posting of some of the "wow" moments from my travels. I started putting these together while I was stationary during Brandon's recovery from his second stroke. Today is day 98 since his second stroke and he continues to improve, little by little, each day. 

I will be hitting the road on the 29th of this month so I am trying to get up to date on these Wow posts. Remember, if you want to see more about a place, use the archive on the right side of the blog post. For my southern friends,,,,, Over yonder >>>>>>>>

This trip was a circle through Texas with many of the campgrounds in the great State Parks of Texas.

Some of the CCC work from the 1930's at Tyler State Park, Tyler, Texas

Great walking trails at Tyler State park for "non-flat belly" men like me.

A children's pool/wading pool built by the CCC nearly 80 years ago at Tyler State Park.

I camped in a Prairie Dog town at Lake Arrowhead State Park outside of Wichita Falls, Texas.

The "Falls" part of Wichita Falls, Texas

The upper reaches of the Red River near Wichita Falls, Texas

The Texas Longhorns at Copper Breaks State Park, near nothing, Texas

Little girl meets Longhorn

The rugged beauty of Caprock Canyon State Park

More Caprock Canyon State Park

Buffalo on parade at Caprock Canyon State Park. 

Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, Texas.

Palo Duro Canyon.
A major Wow.

Palo Duro Canyon, second largest in the USA

From inside Palo Duro Canyon

West Texas Sunset at Amarillo

Another west Texas sunset. This one at San Angelo State Park, San Angelo, Texas

Aw,,,, the Gulf of Mexico at the Bolivar Peninsula

Ferry crossing into Galveston, Texas

The Pleasure Pier in Galveston

Sunset over Galveston and the Houston Shipping Lane

It's always a sad "wow" to see this location. The turn ahead is leaving the Bolivar Peninsula and heading to High Island and eventually home to Louisiana. It was a stormy day and the Gulf was angry, but it made it all the more "wow-full". 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.