Sunday, July 30, 2017

Flat Tire?? and Beautiful St. Clair River

Location: Algonac State Park (el. 640 ft); Algonac, Michigan 

All pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone

Stop # 5. Algonac, MI

I took my time in preparing to leave Maumee State Park since it was only a couple of hours of towing to get to Algonac. The dump station in the park could handle two RV's at the same time and the dump hose was provided by the park. This is rare, but I have seen it a couple of times before. Just as I started to dump my tanks, a lady pulled up behind me in a motorhome. I motioned to the empty dump station next to me but she hollered out the window that it was easier for her to wait instead of turning the motorhome around. OK then. 

I pulled out of the park about 10:00 with thoughts of arriving at Algonac shortly after noon. Going through Toledo, Ohio was a snap and I was through before I knew it. Detroit was next on the list. I routed myself on the outskirts as much as I could in hopes of avoiding any bad parts of town. That is the problem with going through large cities, it is hard to tell you're in a bad part of town until you are actually in the bad part, which then could be a little late. I have been in some large cities where I accidentally ended up in places where I knew I needed to get out of quickly. These have always been while exploring and not while towing Liberty. I was in one city out east, late in the afternoon, when a police car pulled up next to me at a red light. The policeman motioned for me to roll my window down. With a serious voice, he said, "Don't be in this neighborhood after dark, or you won't get out." I was going to ask him a question as to which way was out, but he rolled his window up and the light changed to green. Anyway, I consider Detroit one of those cities that I don't want to mess around in, especially while towing Liberty.

I have a Temperature/Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
on Liberty's tires. I added it after purchasing Liberty. There are large sensors that you screw on the tire valve stems 
That round thing on the valve
stem is the sensor that
unscrewed itself.
using a special device. The device is to keep any curious kids from taking them. They continuously sense the temperature and pressure of the tires and send the information to a monitor in Freedom. If any tire goes higher or lower, in pressure or temperature, than the range you program, an alarm will sound. I've 
This is the monitor that rides
in Freedom. The number on
the left is pressure and the
one on the right is
temperature. The black dots
represent the tires, including
the spar tire.
used this system for 3 years without any problems. I will admit, I pulled my hair out trying to figure how to set up the dang thing but once it was set up it has worked fine. On moving days, I turn it on while getting things situated for travel inside of Liberty. Within a few minutes, I know the pressure of each of Liberty's four tires. I did this before leaving Maumee and all tires were within a pound or two of the required 65 psi which meant we were good to go. 

So, I was approaching Detroit when the TPMS alarm went off. Of course it shocked me,,,scared me,,,, nearly gave me a heart attack captured my complete attention. I looked at the monitor and it showed a tire at 56 psi and falling quickly. When it cycled back through the tires, it was then at 54 psi. I was in the left lane of a three lane interstate because the right two lanes were rough as a cob. I found an opening and got to the outside lane just as an exit appeared. There wasn't anything at the exit except for about a dozen "oversized" escort cars apparently waiting on loads. I found a place to pull over knowing that I must have picked up a nail and was counting my blessing that the tire didn't blow. As I stopped, the pressure was down to 51 psi. As I got out of Freedom, I was glad those escort vehicles were there because this was one of those places I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I inspected the tire and didn't find any nails. Of course I couldn't inspect all of the tire so the nail could be on the bottom. I got my old style pressure gauge and TPMS special tool from the door of Freedom to check the pressure in hopes that the monitor or sensor was malfunctioning. When I put the special tool on the sensor, the sensor was loose and I heard a puff of air come out. I could unscrew the sensor without the need of the special tool. Wow, could I be this lucky? Apparently, the sensor vibrated itself loose and unscrewed itself just enough to allow air to come out as the sensor jiggled. Double wow! The escorts vehicles were preparing to leave so I quickly got my air pump and put 61 pounds in the tire before the pump stopped and needed to cool down. I said to myself that is good enough and reinstalled the sensor. I packed everything up as the last of the escorts left and climbed back into Freedom. I turned on the monitor and it showed the 61 psi in the tire. I quickly hit the on ramp and was back on the interstate. The monitor would give a reading for that tire about every 45 seconds as the system would cycle through all of the tires. I kept an eye on the monitor and the psi did not go down. It went up a few pounds which is normal as the tires heat up. I started looking for a truck stop but didn't find one and didn't like the looks of any of the exits, so I just kept going. The pressure held all the way to the campground so I was pretty sure I didn't have a nail and it was just the sensor unscrewing itself. Using my better air pump, I put 65 psi in the tire and it has held for two days, so I am satisfied as to the reason for the problem. I sure am thankful to whoever was looking out for me. I'm also very thankful they sent those escort vehicles to sit there for a while. And since I think everything happens for a reason, I need to figure out the reason. I will air up all of the tires before pulling out of here tomorrow.

The reason I came is was to confirm my memory as to the color of Lake Huron and the St. Clair River. I've told numerous people about the brilliant blue color of the lake since I first saw it 3 years ago. I also saw this campground that sits just across the RIver Road from the St. Clair River. I've seen two beautiful rivers in my travels. One is the St. Clair and the other is the Columbia River which sits between Oregon and Washington state. The blue color wasn't as bright this time because as some of the locals told me, it is a little dirty right now due to some storms.This color is more of a greenish blue but is still very nice to see. 

Algonac State Park on the left and the St. Clair on the right.

My campsite. The St. Clair River is in the distant background.

Some docks along the river. 

This is the size of a typical Great Lakes Freighter.

The Blue Water Bridges connecting Canada to the U.S. The ship on the left is an old Light-Ship that is open to tours. I toured it and wrote about in back in 2014.

This is great park located in Port Huron. The water is rushing by at a very fast speed. 

A very uncomfortable "thinking bench" but I took a picture anyway.

Just "Two ships passing in the ,,,,,,,,"

I'm only posting this one because of the gull. "Jonathon Livingston Seagull"?

I talked to these guys that were fishing. They said they catch salmon, pike, steelhead and a few others. They were saying the dirty water was going to make the fishing great. I didn't see anything caught while I was there.

A better "thinking bench" looking over the Black River as it empties into the St. Clair on the right. That is Canada in the background. 

Just a few of "cottages" on the river. If I win the lottery, I plan to buy one of these for a summer house. LOL
Tomorrow is moving day with another short haul. Tomorrow I'll be camped within a stones throw of Lake Erie. It is a state park located between Detroit and Toledo. Yep, that means I'll be backtracking through the Detroit area. 

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


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Stormy Travels but Cooler Temps along Lake Erie

Location: Maumee Bay State Park (el. 600 ft); Oregon, Ohio (just east of Toledo, Ohio)

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone

Route thru stop #4

I planned to pull out of Carlyle early due to the long tow ahead of me. I figured to start hitching up just after daylight and be on the road by 8 o'clock. I was on the road by 8 but it was nip and tuck for a while. I had checked the weather forecast before going to bed and it showed rain coming into the area but was due to hit around noon. I was OK with that timing since I would be long gone and be able to see the weather system in my side mirror as I would be driving northeast. Around 4 a.m. I awoke to a flash of lightening coming through the window shades followed by a loud crash of thunder. Immediately things started hitting the roof of Liberty. At first I thought it was rain, but then remember those dang gum ball trees I had parked under. I was being pelted by gum balls and branches from the tree. I laid there waiting for a large limb to come crashing through the roof. I grabbed my phone and checked the weather. They said to expect "strong thunderstorms with large hail and wind" for 2 hours beginning at 4 o'clock. They issued that warning at 3:45 am. Well gee wiz guys, an earlier warning would have been nice although even if I had the warning hours earlier I couldn't have done anything about it. So, the forecast called for clearing by 6 a.m. and if they were correct, I could start hitching up shortly after that and still be on the road by 8. All I had to do was lay in bed for a couple of hours while listening to the pounding on the roof of Liberty. About dawn, it dawned on me (lol), that instead of me being ahead on the storm system while towing, I would now be behind it and chasing it. I did some rough calculations and figured I would just be catching up to it as I got closer to the campground. If needed, I could slow down to let it get farther ahead. The rain stopped about 6 as predicted and since I had already been awake, I had everything tied down inside Liberty and was ready to hitch up. I walked around Liberty and did not see any limbs large enough to cause a problem to the roof. I then walked behind her far enough to see the roof all the while hoping there were no limbs sticking out anywhere. Her roof was clear and I breathed a sign of relief as it seemed I had dodged another weather bullet. As I looked around the campground I could see several other campers were not as lucky as me. A young couple with a small child had a very large limb fall and just miss their tent. Severe injuries would have resulted had it hit the tent. After hitching up and driving to the dump station, I saw moderate size limbs across RV's and cars. At least 3 foolish campers had left their awning out and were rewarded with having their awnings either ripped off or laid across their roof. Some of these RV'ers will leave their awnings out from the time they arrive at the campground until they leave. It's just a matter of time before an unexpected wind or storm like this will cause them financial and emotional heartburn.

I stopped at the McDonalds which was conveniently located at the campground entrance. Before pulling of the parking lot, I double checked the weather and the storm system. 
Typical countryside along the way. It is hard to tell if it is Illinois, Indiana or Ohio since they all looked the same to me. I'm not sure why they put the billboards so far away from the highways.

Dark clouds, then clearing a little. They alternated the entire way but I was lucky and missed all the rain until the end.
This is the "Cross at the Crossroads" in Effingham, Illinois. It is suppose to be the larges such cross in the U.S., but I saw another one like it later on that appeared to be the same size, so who knows for sure. It sure stands out on the side of the highway. 

The storm was about 200 miles ahead of me and traveling at 30 miles per hour in the same direction I would be traveling. I would be averaging 55 to 60 miles per hour. The question was would I catch the storm before getting to the campground which was 475 miles away. Sounds like a math word problem from high school with an RV and storm system instead of trains. The best answer I could come up with was it going to be close and I would probably have to slow down or stop for a while to let the storm move on some more. For 8+ hours I followed along while seeing the sky stay dark ahead of me. Everything was working out just fine until a different storm that came in from the west decided to join us about 3 miles from the campground. I found an empty school parking lot and pulled in just as the bottom dropped out with heavy wind and rain. I figured I could just relax and wait it out. It blew through in about 30 minutes after which I continued on to the campground. After getting checked in and set up, I was tired. It was a long day.
This is the storm that surprised me just before reaching the campground. It blew through in about 30 minutes though.

The campsites are large and separated from each other. I chose poorly in the setting sun is hitting the back, right (starboard quarter) of Liberty. I had thought the tree behind me would shade me from the evening sun, but I was wrong. 
Man-made beach inside of the

The campground in on the shore of Lake Erie but the campsites are not within sight of the lake. It is a large and nicely laid out campground. I used their laundry today which is a first for me since state parks rarely have laundries and the ones that have had them, they were too nasty to use. The only thing special to see here is the lake but I drove around some just to make sure. I found the spot where a lot of train tracks end or begin. It seems Toledo is a major rail hub that services Lake Erie. I started to go to the Great Lakes Museum and tour the freighter they have on display but I just couldn't get excited enough to go. I guess I'm getting a little jaded.

I did find a nice little city park just a mile or so outside the campground. 

The lake was a little windy and there was a nip in the air. That house was in a great location.

Whoever laid out this little walkway did a great job. 

A couple of nice thinking benches. I spent a little while sitting here enjoying the cool breeze and nice view. 

I'll be pulling out of here tomorrow with a short tow of only about 140 miles to a campground on the banks of the Saint Clair River. I saw this campground from a boat tour I took a couple years ago and have been wanting to go back to camp there. I will also be able to check in on Lake Huron to see if it is as blue as I remember. The straight shot takes be through downtown Detroit but I've decided go a little out of my way to avoid it. As usual when passing close or through big cities, I'll just turn the music up to drown out the gunshots and look for bullet holes in Freedom and Liberty once I get to the campground. 

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


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Hot, Hotter, Hottest and 2 posts in 1

Current Location: Dam West COE Campground (el 675 ft); Carlyle, Illinois
Previous Location: Cape Camping and RV Park (el 390 ft); Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Pictures are a combination in this post. Some are Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone others are Nikon D5100.
Route thru current stop #3

I've sort of fallen behind with making posts to the blog. I don't have any reason other than laziness. As you can see, this is two posts. After I left Tom Sawyer's Campground, I headed north into southeastern Missouri. Specifically, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. That is the town I lived in when I was 16 and 17. I camped here a couple years ago and wrote a pretty good blog post about it which includes the time I thought I was going to die. This link will take you to that post. It will be easier reading the rest of this post if you go to the link first: 

I road around town a little bit and saw the old places but not any of the old people. Red Star Baptist Church looked as if it was deserted. I'm not sure it is even a church anymore. I sat for a while in the parking lot and just looked at. In it's heyday it drew teenagers and adults from all over. I could visualize us teenagers all over those front steps, laughing and joking and feeling good about ourselves and the church. It was a special summer, that summer of 72. We teenagers were exposed to good and evil that summer and I'm sure it tempered all of our lives.

Campsite at the COE Park. 
After leaving Cape, I drove north into Illinois and am currently camped in a nice Corps of Engineers Campground in Carlyle. My plans were to come here for 4 days while exploring the ancient Indian ruins of "Cohokia". It was the largest Indian settlement in North America. But like so many others during that time of 1000 to 1300 AD, most of the people just abandoned it and moved on. That information is what got me interested in seeing the place. However, the high temperatures kept me away. This area is in the middle of an extreme heat wave with temperatures approaching 100 degrees with heat indices in the 110 to 115 range. Too hot for me to be wandering around some old Indian Mounds. I'll keep it on my list for the next time I'm in the area. 

One great thing that I did do was have lunch with an old friend from high school. If you read the link above, you will recognize his name as being Mike Jones. The guy who went with me to Red River, New Mexico when we were 17 years of age. It was the first time we've seen each other in over 43 years. We had a nice lunch and got caught up with each others lives and relived many memories. It was a very good time.

Sorry there weren't many pictures, but most would have been repeats from the link above.

Tomorrow is moving day and it will be another long one. I planned to break it up into two days but changed my mind and will just drive. It will be a little less than 500 miles and I hope to get an early start. I've checked the weather forecast and I should get behind this stationary front that is keeping it so hot and humid around here. The prediction is to have temps about 15 degrees cooler within a couple of hours after leaving tomorrow. If all goes as planned, I'll be sleeping in an Ohio State Park on the shores of Lake Erie tomorrow evening.

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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

"Roll on Mississippi,,,,,, roll on"

Location: Tom Sawyer's RV Park (el. 100 ft); West Memphis, Arkansas

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone
(click pictures to enlarge)

Stop number 1
Well, it's been a month since I've posted anything to the blog. During that time, I've been parked in Mansfield getting some updates on my son. His condition is such that I can take a short trip and return to Mansfield by the first of September. The timing works out well since the Forest River Owner's Group RV Rally will be going on during the first week of August. That is where I got several thousand dollars of free work on Liberty. The post that describes that surprisingly beneficial experience is located here:

I decided to make the first day a long haul of 380 miles since I couldn't decide about anything to see along the way. It is getting more and more difficult for me to decide about places to go and things to see along the way. I used to be torn between directions to go since I was new on the road. I know I haven't seen nearly as much as I want to see, but I find myself second guessing places to go. I will read up on a place and find a nice campground then change my mind. So, in answer to that problem, I just decided to drive. The 380 miles got me to an old campground I stayed at a couple of years ago. It is Tom Sawyer's Campground in West Memphis, Arkansas and is located right on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi River. It is a great place to watch the tow boats working on the river pushing their barges up and down the river. It is like a parade as the boats and their tows pass by. I'm posting another link. It is to my blog post from 2 years ago when I was at this campground. 

Wow, two links in the same post. I must be getting too lazy to keep up with this blog. How about some pictures? 
There are lots of "thinking benches" along the bank. As the tows come by, people come and sit to watch them pass.

A small storm passed through during the day which left these clouds to put on a show at dusk.

One of the many tows that passed by. Pretty clouds, uh?

The tow boat,,,,, "disappearing around the bend. Roll on Mississippi, rolllll on." Some paraphrased lyrics from an old Charlie Pride song. I think of it just about every time I see the river.

Evening on the river. 
Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be heading a few hours north of here. It will be another "river town", but the campground is not on the river. It is another of my old home places and again will be the second time I've camped there. 

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