Sunday, September 1, 2019

Trip Re-cap

Location: New Rockdale RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana (elev 300+/-)
All pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone

The complete circle
I arrived at New Rockdale RV Park early Wednesday afternoon. For the last few years, it has been serving as my home base campground. It is good to be back and stationary for a little while so I don't have to be thinking about places to go or reservations to make at some campground. Maybe while I'm here I'll look for a piece of property and set up my own site to serve as my home base. Oh well, we will see.

A quick look at the numbers on this latest trip:
14 states
47 days
4,800 miles of towing Liberty
19 campgrounds (12 public, 5 private, 2 Walmarts)

My memory pictures are at the bottom of this post with captions. There are a lot more pictures than I planned, but oh well. 

The beautiful things about trips are that no matter how well you plan them, something always comes up to change the plan. Sometimes those things aren't nice, like Liberty's water pump going out on this trip. Most of the time though it seems the unexpected becomes some of the highlights of the trip. 

On this trip some of the unexpected/unplanned things were:
** the bird attack while I was walking on the trail at Copper Breaks State Park near Quanah, Texas
** the Raton Museum in Raton, New Mexico
** the road trip over and past Blue Mesa Reservoir Dam, west of Gunnison, Colorado
** Skyline Drive in Canon City, Colorado
** Box Canyon Falls Park in Ouray, Colorado
** the campsite at Massacre Rocks State Park in American Falls, Idaho
** the two Walmarts I over-nighted at in Laurel, Montana and Sidney, Nebraska
** Petit Jean State Park near Russellville, Arkansas

All of these unexpected gems are covered in the posts from the trip.

A few quick observations from the trip. 
1) There is not a bridge in Wyoming that doesn't have a dip before and after it. It is the worst state in terms of bad bridge ends. 
2) Although Wyoming has problems with all of their bridges, Louisiana has the two worst bridge ends on this trip and any other trip I've taken recently. They are located on I-49 southbound, between Louisiana highways 1 and 2 in Caddo Parish. About a dozen or so miles south of the Arkansas/Louisiana state line. If you hit these dips at highway speed, it can cause serious damage to your trailer. If you pass through this area, try to situate yourself where you have another vehicle ahead of you by about a half mile. This will give you enough time to slow down to about 40 mph before hitting the dips. I reported these dips to the authorities about a year or so ago, but they have yet to repair them. Be careful, very careful.
3) There seemed to be a lot more homeless people in the larger cities than I've noticed in the past. It is still hard to tell if they are con-people or truly people in need of help.
4) Love's Truck Stops have moved up my list of places to look for when towing. Most of them are newer than other truck stops and they are designed to handle large RV's. They also have a variety of pre-packaged, easy to eat while driving, great burritos, 2 for $4.00. Too many "truck stops" are not designed so RV's can maneuver around the gas pumps. I will continue to look for Flying J's/Pilot because most of them are RV friendly as well as most will give Good Sam members a $0.05 discount on fuel. 
5) Freedom did a fantastic job towing Liberty and me over the high Rocky Mountain passes. Never had a problem either going up or down. I do wish the states would post more signs. They need more signs showing how far ahead the downgrades begin as well as signs saying how far it is until you reach the crest or when you will finish the steep parts of the downground. Something like "Greater than 5% downground next XX miles". There are some states that do an excellent job with signing, but there were a few places that caught me by surprise due to the lack of proper signing. 
6) Walmart camping is OK for me under certain conditions. Two of those conditions are having night-time temperatures between about 55 and 65 and not having anything to explore in the area. The temperature is important because I don't want to sleep in a hot trailer. Also, since I'm not going to drop my RV in a Walmart parking lot, I won't be able to explore anything in the area. Thinking back over my years of traveling and 250+ campgrounds, I can think of maybe a dozen one night stands where I could have used a Walmart and saved time and money. Oh well, live and learn.
7)  The trip was nice, but I wish it had been a little cooler. I did use my ceramic heaters a time or two to warm Liberty up a little bit. Mostly though, the heat wave seemed to have followed me everywhere I went as if I were a "weather Jonah". I did bring a little cooler weather to Louisiana but it seems to have been short lived as the mid 90's have returned. 

Here are the pictures. I've chosen the ones that will spark my memories when I look back on them in the years to come. I have several pictures that do just that from all of the places that I've visited over the last 5+ years of RV'ing. 

This was my first view of the "open road". This picture is taken somewhere just west of Fort Worth. Prior to this, all of the views between Mansfield and Fort Worth are essentially the same. 

I've seen these abandoned homesteads all over the country. I'm glad they have not been torn down so they can remain as a reminder of the life and times of generations past. I try to take pictures of them to document the lives spent at these locations. It is easy to visualize children running and playing around the house,,, a clothesline full of clothes flapping in the West Texas breeze. Oh well, lest we forget. 

The view from the campground at the top of Raton Pass in Raton, New Mexico. It was a great view of the storm approaching from the south. 

Not counting the mountains around Raton, New Mexico, these are the first sightings of the Rocky Mountains. It is from west of Pueblo, Colorado near Haggard's RV Park.

This is before the big storm hit Haggard's RV park. A micro-burst or straight line wind rocked Liberty like she has only been rocked a couple times before. It was worrisome and exhilarating at the same time because you could see the heavy wind and rain coming at you. 

Skyline Drive in Canon City, Colorado. This narrow one lane road running along the top of this "hogsback" ridge will get your blood a pumping. I was lucky in that I was mostly alone and could stop to take in the view. This was a surprise because I didn't find out about it until a day or so before riding it. 

Sitting in the parking lot at the top of Monarch Pass, Colorado. It is the location of the Continental Divide and a lot to take in before going down the other side.

Snow capped Rocky Mountains in the distance. I never got a real close up view of them on this trip, maybe the next time.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison. That is the Gunnison River in the bottom. I have had this place on my "to see" list for a few years. I was not super impressed by it, but I attribute that to my expectations being too high.

This is at the bottom of the Black Canyon. I enjoyed a picnic lunch in the cool temperature and quiet serenity of this location. It was very peaceful and whenever I think of this place it will bring me a sense of peace. 

The Rockies as seen from The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Sometimes when I look at them I think of the mountain men who explored this area. They experienced true freedom.

The waterfall at the Box Canyon Park in Ouray, Colorado. This is another one of those unplanned places that I learned about at the last minute. The water just shoots out of the side of the mountain face with a tremendous force and loud roar. I again was lucky to be the only one there for about half the time I explored it. Great stop.

In my mind, this is what Northern Utah will always look like.

How lucky was I to get such a great campsite in Massacre Rock State Park, American Falls, Idaho. I randomly chose it when I made my reservations and it blew me away with the view. Great campsite.

Shoshone Falls located near Twin Falls, Idaho. This was a planned stop. Just like the Black Canyon, this place has been on my "to see" list for a few years ever since it was posted on the Gypsy and the Navigator blog. Thanks again Barb. It would be worth a return trip during the spring time/early summer when the falls are really flowing full. 

Another old homestead. This must have been a very fancy house at some point in time since it is a two story home. If the house could speak, what kind of stories would it tell???

I hope the memory of this place will always stay with me. It is the Columbia River just downstream of where the Snake River joins the Columbia. It is a special place because it is from this location that I did a video call with my granddaughter, Olivia. I wanted her to see the Columbia and some of the surrounding mountains. 

This picture will remind me of the long boat cruise on Lake Coeur d'Alene. I couldn't choose a picture from the tour so I opted for this one. It is taken as I'm about to get into Freedom at the end of the tour. The tour boat, parking lot and nasty weather will all be a nice memory. 

I overnighted in two Walmart parking lots on the way back to Louisiana. This picture will represent both stops. This is the first stop at Laurel, Montana. I arrived later than I planned due to heavy traffic on the way. The time was maybe an hour or two after sundown and the temperature was in the mid-60's with a nice cool breeze blowing. It is a good memory. 

Looking down on the Arkansas River from Petit Jean Mountain near Russellville, Arkansas. The view was great and the legend believable. It was a nice day.

Murray Lock and Dam on the Arkansas River with The Big Dam Bridge on top of the lock and dam. It was a nice walk on a semi-warm morning. As usual, I was mostly alone with my thoughts. 

That's the Arkansas River on the left and part of Maumelle Corp of Engineers Campground on the right. The RV with the sun shining on its side is Liberty. This was taken from a nice bench located in the shade of a tree. 

New Rockdale RV park. Not a glamorous campground but the location in relation to my family is good. Those tall pine trees to the right provide shade from the setting sun starting around 3:00 in the afternoon. The site has some sewer problems that the owners have not dealt with yet. I may move to another campground or campsite in the days to come.
Well, that completes the re-cap of this trip. Overall it was a good trip and I'm satisfied with how it turned out. I've had some great visits with my family in the short time I've been back. Olivia and Nathan have grown a lot in the six weeks I've been away. My next trip is already circulating in my mind. When will I ever grow roots and settle down??
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.