Freedom and Liberty

Freedom and Liberty
I travel in Freedom but sleep in the security of Liberty (not only on the road, but in this amazing country of ours)

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

More Sunsets and Trip Wrap-up

 Location: Rocky Point Campground (COE); near Texarkana, Texas

My three day extension at this campground worked out well and was the right decision. At least so far. I won't know for sure until I pull into my home base campground in Mansfield, Louisiana tomorrow around noon or so. The predicted high temperature for Mansfield tomorrow is 77 degrees while today's is near 90. The six days here has been a great transition from constant traveling and moving campground every day to staying put for a little while. It takes a different mindset to be moving frequently. So this campground helped me get my "mind right". Wait a minute, that doesn't sound just right. I may have to re-word that so it doesn't sound like I'm completely partially crazy.

The sunsets keep coming at this campground and my new campsite is better than the first one. This site has trees on the west side of Liberty which provides really good shade from the afternoon sun. The first site was wide open and the sun hit her broadside. The first site would be nice for fall or spring when the temperatures are a little cooler but the second site is perfect for now. Both campsites are great for viewing sunsets. This stop was to de-compress from traveling and it has done a good job of that. I will definitely put this campground on my list of places to stay again.

View out Liberty's door on the last night at campsite #1

Campsite #2.
The trees help shade against the afternoon sun.

The beginning of the first sunset at the second campsite

Still the first sunset, second campsite. Those are three kayak'ers racing the sun to shore.

Final sunset of the first sunset at the second campsite.
(wow, this is getting confusing now.)

 

TRIP WRAP-UP

First the numbers:

Liberty has been towed a little over 3,600 miles. The trip lasted 66 nights and we have camped in 21 campgrounds. That works out to an average of about 3 nights per campground. 

The breakdown of campgrounds is:

11 - Corps of Engineers (COE)

 4 - State Parks

 2 - Fairgrounds

 1 - Bureau of Reclamation (BoR)

 1 - Private

 1 - Indian Casino

 1 - City Owned

The average price per night at all of the campgrounds was $16.68/night. But, the number I really like is the average price for the COE and BoR campgrounds was $10.83. In a remarkable coincidence, the $10.83 is exactly, to the penny, the amount I pay at my home base campground ($325/month = $10.83/day). I think that is an amazing coincidence but I'm not sure about it significance yet. Still thinking about it. 

Memorable/noteworthy things from the trip:

North and South Dakota had great scenery along with mostly good roads. The Missouri River Campgrounds were among the best. 

The place I wished I stayed longer and also had the most things to explore was the Davenport, Iowa area. This surprised me. 

The place I wished I had stayed less or even not stopped at all was in Bismark, North Dakota. The town and campground just had a bad vibe. 

The best little town with the best vibe was Ottawa, Illinois.

I visited my old hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri again on this trip. It was nice seeing the places along the Mississippi River where I sat as a teenager and planned out a few steps of my life. It was at those locations where I decided to enlist in the Navy and also to eventually become a Civil Engineer. As expected and as usual, the river talked to me about my life and future. The rest of the town, and even the Church I attended as a teenager, didn't have the same "draw on my emotions" as they have in past trips. I'm still digesting what that all means.

Sunset #3 at this campground

Sunset #3.
I have a feeling this will be the last good sunset since the clouds are all suppose to move east. A clear sky won't be as nice. 

Tomorrow is moving day and after about 125 miles, I'll pull into my home base campground. I'll try not to think about traveling until at least after Thanksgiving. After that, we will see. As I asked in the last post, maybe 50,000 miles is enough?

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

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Mostly Sunsets plus a Covid Test

 Location: Rocky Point Campground (Corps of Engineers); near Texarkana, Texas

This is the last campground before getting back to my home base in Louisiana. I am camped on the banks of Lake Wright Patman about 20 miles south of Texarkana. I think this campsite is one of the best that I've stayed in when it comes to watching sunsets.

Freedom, Liberty and a Sunset.

 

Typical East Texas 

I saw two long convoys.
 God Bless our Troops

Pretty good campsite, uh? Water/Electric for $13.00. Oh, the view is included in the price.

The tree doesn't provide much shade, but it looks nice.

View out Liberty's door.

The setting sun reflecting off of Liberty

Sunset on the first night

The lake was calm as the sun was setting.

A pretty blue-ish color with a reddish glow. 



I haven't done much of anything since getting here. Mostly, I'm just hanging out and enjoying the view. What little exploring I've done has been around the dam. I won't post any pictures of it since it is the typical earthen dam that we've seen so many times on this trip. It is not a hydro-dam which is a little disappointing. 


I was able to find a nice bench overlooking the lake.

I'm on day 12 of my self-diagnosed Bronchitis and each day is a day of improvement. As it's been through most of the sickness, my main symptom has been coughing up phlegm. The phlegm is not coming from my lungs because they are clear with no rattling. I have no problems taking deep breaths without coughing. I am pretty sure it is just bronchitis and the coughing will last another week or two. But, since I'll be home in a couple of days, I figured it would be nice to rule out Covid before seeing the family. It would not be nice to bring Covid back with me. So, I went online and found a CVS pharmacy that does drive-thru Covid testing. It was real easy. I answered some questions online and picked an appointment time. I was about 30 minutes away, so off I went. When I got there, the testing was at their drive-thru window. After proving who I was by answering some of their questions, they gave me the test kit. I used the swab, put it back in a test tube, dropped the kit in a box and drove off. Two days later I got the results texted to my cell phone. As I expected, the test was Negative. But now, I have a nationwide pharmacy agreeing with me. :)

I was originally schedule to leave this campground today and head home. But after looking at the weather forecast I decided to extend my stay here another three days. I guess I can suffer through three more sunsets. The only kicker is I need to change campsites since someone reserved mine before I decided to stay. It's not a problem. I'm used to moving after a few days so this will feel normal. My next campsite is only 4 campsites away. I'll probably move sometime before noon. I'll get home on Wednesday afternoon. The forecast shows a high temperature on Wednesday of 77 degrees, with mid-range humidity compared to 87 degree and high humidity on Tuesday. Yep, ladies and gentlemen, I'll be bringing a real, live cold front with me.

50,000 miles on Liberty and 146,643 on Freedom

When I first hit the road back in April of 2014, I expected my towing and exploring mileage to be about equal. They were for the first two to three years, but due to crazy 2020 and other things, my exploring mileage is now about 3 times my towing mileage. I wonder if 50,000 miles is enough??????
    

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

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Crossed the Red River to Texas

 Location: Sanders Cove COE Campground; Powderly, Texas about an hour or so northeast of Dallas

To Texans, crossing the Red River used to be a very big deal back in the old west. It meant you were safely home in Texas after being in the lawless states north of Texas. I was born a Texan but became a Louisianniean Lousianian person from Louisiana back in 1979. The Red looked a little dry when I crossed it the other day. I've been seeing a lot of rain happening downstream towards Louisiana so hopefully it won't be a dry fall. 

As I predicted in my last post, it was a little tight getting out of my last campsite. I was concerned about Liberty's roof and side kissing trees and limbs. We had about a foot clearance and Freedom was in "super slow grandma gear" as we went by the troublesome tree. But all's well that ends well. We got out, threw our trash in the dumpster, pulled out on the highway and nearly got hit by an eighteen wheeler. It may not have been as close as it felt, but I guess I could have waited for the rig to pass before pulling out, but didn't. As I was taught in the Navy and have continued since then, there are no excuses, only reasons. The reason I almost got hit was I decided to take the chance and pull out on the highway instead of waiting because of the uphill grade of the campground driveway. I figured from that uphill-ness, it would be better to hit the highway while rolling instead of from a dead stop. Luckily, there was a really wide shoulder across the highway which allowed me to go almost straight across before turning into my lane. The 18 wheeler didn't blow his horn, slam on his brakes or swerve onto his shoulder, so like I said, all's well that ends well. Of course, I fretted over it for an hour or so just to make sure I don't do that again. Or if I do, do it the same way since it all worked out. Does that make sense???

Plenty of room so far, but the road curves to the left.


It's just a matter of how much side-tracking we do while still passing under the limbs to want to be introduced to Liberty A/C units. Notice the short campsite to the left. It would be interesting to know how many times it's been used this year.


Have to look at it from all angles


From Navy days, this is the CPA (closest point of approach). To tight for comfort, but it worked out ok.


This horse fly was one of dozens who would swarm in the afternoon but be gone by evening. I wasn't bitten by any so I called them peaceful.

Anyway, I made it to this campground on Lake Mayse which is about 10 miles north of Paris, Texas. It's another older Corps of Engineers campground from the 60's. Some of the sites have concrete slabs while others have gravel. The first impression of the campsites are they looked jumbled up in the trees. How in the world can someone back into a site with so many trees. Then as you focus on an individual site, you can see that someone thought about the layout necessary for an RV to back into it and created a pathway. Each site is actually a pretty easy back-in. I was very impressed. It was like an optical illusion.

The roads got smoother as I was leaving Oklahoma

It was a nice weather-day to be traveling

It looks like Liberty is trapped in the trees again, uh?

But nope. Each campsite has their little path to get in and out. I was really impressed. Water/Electric for $11.00 a night.

The lake is another typical Corp Lake. The main difference is there aren't any gates to control the water level like most of the other lakes we've camped at. This lake is controlled by a water inlet/control structure nicknamed a "glory hole". Just a big pipe, standing on end going straight down then turns under the dam to empty into a stream/river. They aren't commonly used and work really good on lakes that maintain a somewhat constant water level. That is done by reaching a balance between evaporation/use and water intake (rain, river, etc). I'm not sure if that is the case on this lake or not. It may be the designer just liked glory hole water structures. The best example of a lake reaching a balance is Crater Lake in Oregon. The only water entering the lake is from rain and snow. The only water leaving the lake is through evaporation. However, the water level is almost constant.

The official overlook. It seems every lake has one.

A pretty lake on a pretty day

The Glory Hole.
Looks like the lake is about a foot low.

This was another two day stay at this campground. Two days is enough since I don't feel like doing any long distance exploring and there isn't much to see close by. However, I did explore the local Dairy Queen. It is the cleanest one I've ever been in and the banana split was great. My type II diabetes said the treat was probably OK, so I felt absolutely no, zero, none, nada only slightly guilty.

Today is moving day and I'm headed to the last Corps of Engineer campground on this trip. It will be on Lake Wright-Patman near Texarkana. I feel very lucky in that I think I reserved the very best campsite in the campground and possibly the best one on this entire trip. After seeing the picture of the site, I reserved three days and will use them to enjoy the view and hopefully get another great sunset. This time, I'll be able to see it from Liberty's door, maybe. I'll also use the time to decompress from travel mode, think about things from the last two months, maybe do a trip recap and just chill out.


The souvenir from the only exploration at this stop.
I'm sure I'll carry it with me for many, many years. I miss the boat shaped dishes from my childhood.

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

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Maybe Trapped?? No Tires! but a Nice Sunset

Location: Highway 9 Landing Campground (COE), near Eufaula, Oklahoma

This campground is on Lake Eufaula which was created back in the 1960's by placing a hydro-electric dam on the Canadian River. It is a beautiful and large lake. The overall campground is split in two by Highway 9. They should either close the side I'm in or do some serious upgrading. It doesn't appear to have been upgraded since the 60's. Several campsites are almost impossible to use except by tent campers. Once I drove to my campsite and saw it, I should have said, "Nope, ain't even gonna try to get in there". But I guess I had a fleeting moment of hardheadedness (sure glad it isn't permanent) or maybe I can blame it on the remnants of my sickness. Either one, may have caused me to regret staying in this great campsite. I was able to get in without causing any damage to either Freedom or Liberty but I'm not really sure I can get back out. You would think, if you can get in then you can get out. But that isn't always true when towing a trailer. In this case it depends on the angle between the road and a certain tree, as well as how far to the side I can go without hitting some overhanging limbs. The overhanging limbs barely cleared Liberty on the way in but if there is any more sagging, she may get a back rub on the way out. We will see how it turns out but I've been very anxious ever since I set up camp in this great campsite overlooking the lake.

The cattle here in Oklahoma look skinnier and less healthy than the ones in the Dakotas and Iowa.


Great campsite uh? Top of the hill, shade tree and overlooking the lake. But Liberty couldn't pass under the limb on the left side of the tree we're parked under. So I had to pull into the empty campsite on the right and back her toward the lake then head back out far enough to back her into her final spot. Whew.
  

This is the entrance to the campsite. You can see the tree we're camped under in the middle of the picture in the distance. I walked this part, all the way back to the campsite, before putting Liberty in any danger. This is where I should have said, Nope. See the tree to the right side of the path before it turns to the right? That is the problem tree on the way out.


This is from the campsite looking at the path going out. The worrisome tree is now on the left and is the first one. Not too bad if I can get lined up in time to reduce the amount of sidetracking.


This one is taking from where we're camped. It shows the curve in the path while approaching the worrisome tree. Even knowing the risk of damage to Liberty, it will be a little exciting.

I've been looking for new tires since Iowa. They are for Liberty. Her current tires are about 3 years old. They have enough tread remaining but at least one has signs of small cracking between the treads. I've been looking for a place to pull in while hitched up and get new ones. I thought I had a place in South Dakota but got a bad vibe and didn't do it. I got a recommendation about a place in Sioux City, Iowa but that didn't work out either. Neither did the one near Topeka. I finally thought about getting her new tires at the same place I got the last ones. It was in McAlester, Oklahoma. It was the day I had the blowout on the Indian Nation Turnpike while on my way to Duluth and Lake Superior. They did a great job in a short amount of time. So it only made sense to schedule an appointment when I got closer and get it done. I made reservations at this campground and the next one so I could be at the tire place early one morning, get the tires on and still be at the next campground by the afternoon. That is one of the reasons why I've been only staying 2 days in the campgrounds lately. 

Well, things were going pretty good until I called the tire shop to schedule the appointment. I was calling 10 days before I would be there so as to give them plenty of time. But, instead of getting a scheduled time, I was told they only had one Goodyear Endurance tire and it was a year old. I asked if they could get 4 new ones before I got there and they said probably not. They hadn't received any Goodyear ST tires in months and months. All the Goodyear dealers around them were in the same boat. Apparently it will be late fall or early spring before Goodyear will make some more. I'm not sure if it is worker or material shortage. I'm not even sure yet if they were telling me the truth, but since they lost a sale of 4 tires, I can only assume they were truthful. Luckily, I started looking early enough so I have good enough tires to make it back to Louisiana. But,,,,, there's always a but isn't there. But, today is moving day and I'll be traveling over the Indian Nation Turnpike. The same turnpike that blew out one of Liberty's tires last time (notice how I blamed the turnpike). I hope by going south instead of north I will break the bad JuJu of the turnpike. I'll be looking for the spot where it happened.

Today is day 7 of my sickness and I am feeling much better. My fever topped out at 99.9 on day 3 and been below 99 for the last 2 days. According to Google, I shouldn't even consider it being a fever until it get over 100.4. I stopped for gas the other day and there was a very nice looking Redheaded woman getting gas at the next pump. I foolishly thought, I'll just ask her to feel my head and see if she thinks I'll be OK. After taking the first step towards her, I noticed her face looked like she was either mad at something or basically mean. So, I stopped and thought, "She may feel my head and lie to me about being OK since she is looking meaner by the minute". Whew, I dodged a bullet there. Anyway, I really didn't need her advice because I'm feeling much better. The coughing has decreased tremendously since yesterday. A few more days of healing and I'll be right as rain.   

"But, at the end of the day, there is always a sunset. You can't always see it, but it is always there." 

I liked the "sunset path" on the water. 

Another campsite situated just right for a sunset

No words

To me, sunsets are special


'Night, ya'll

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

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Coffeyville, Kansas and Still Sick

 Location: Walter Johnson Park CG; Coffeyville, Kansas

This campground is a city park loosely tied to a fairgrounds. There are two separate campgrounds. One is full hook-ups for $15.00 per night, which is a pretty good deal. The other, is the one I'm staying in and it is water/electric for $8.00 per night. Since I'm only here for two nights, I didn't need full hook-ups. They have a decent dump station and I may use it on the way out this morning. I'll make that decision after I hitch up and see how I'm feeling. When traveling quickly like I am, you take advantage of good dump stations because you never know what condition the one at the next campground may be. There are only three other sites occupied in my campground. One is an old bus that may actually be broke down. I haven't seen anyone around it since I got here. The other is a small bumper pull and the third is a "walker" in a small tent. I seen these people before and you probably have too. Most are not the beggars or "hey, Joe's" you see at intersection in the larger cities. The closest description would be like the old hobos/tramps from the 50's. They were the original freedom seekers who just wandered around the country, usually on freight cars. If you think about it, the only difference between the old hobos and current RV travelers, is the RV. I haven't talked to this guy so I don't know any of this for sure and freely admit making some wild assumptions based just on him sitting in front of his tent. He does have an extension cord going inside the tent. Possibly for a fan or to charge his devices. Oh well, to each their own. 

This should be the last road picture of Kansas since I'll be crossing into Oklahoma today.


Campsite with the small bumper pull in the background

The "walker" sitting in front of his tent. He did that for most of the day. Just sat there. 

I planned to come to this town and campground to explore the ending of the old Dalton Gang. I had heard of them since my childhood. They were an outlaw gang that robbed trains in Oklahoma. They got "too big for their britches" though and decided to rob two banks at the same time in their old hometown of Coffeyville. Well, that was a mistake. As the gang members were making their way to the banks, one of them was recognized by a towns-person. Word spread quickly that the banks were being robbed. This was in 1892 and most people were familiar with guns since the Civil War was still fresh in their minds. The banks were surrounded and when the Dalton Gang came out, they were shot down by the towns-people. When the shooting was over, four towns-people and all but one of the Dalton Gang had been killed. The surviving gang member was convicted and sent to jail for 14 years before getting paroled. After parole he went to Hollywood where he became a screenwriter. He died in 1937 at the age of 66. 

Most of these things I already knew but was interested in finding a museum or historical society to find out more. But since my sickness made me feel like crap and I'm trying to avoid people, I stayed close to Liberty for the two days I was here. 

The other thing I hoped to find out was if this park was named after the old baseball player, Walter Johnson. His birthplace is about 30 miles north of here, but I don't know if he had a direct connection with Coffeyville or not. He played ball back in 1907 to 1927. Many believe his fastball was the faster there ever was. An umpire from back then was asked if his fastball was fast, his replied was "I don't know, I close my eyes just like batter." Again, I was hoping to find out more about him on this trip, but I guess I'll just have to come back here some day.

Today is moving day and I'll be heading to a Corp of Engineers Campground near Eufaula, Oklahoma. 

It is also day 5 of my sickness. I still think it is Bronchitis. I seem to be getting better a little bit each day. My main symptom is still coughing up phlegm with a low grade fever (average 99.0) that comes and goes. Some secondary problems are associated with and caused by the coughing. Aches and pains from coughing hard. Since the coughing is getting less and less, I figure the secondary problems will be going away soon. Thanks to the women who virtually felt my head and said things will be OK. It helped.  

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

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Sunset over Pomona Lake and I'm Sick

Location: Michigan Valley Recreation Area (COE); near Lyndon, Kansas. (about 20 south of Topeka, Kansas)

This is a nice campground but due to me not feeling very well, I've only walked around it one time and have not explored anything beyond the boundaries of the lake (Pomona Lake). It is a good shady, pull-thru campsite although I had to back into it because of low hanging limbs. Not a problem though. I was lucky and got a nice sunset over the lake on the first night.

Pomona Lake. It looks like dozens and dozens of other lakes I've been camped at.

Nice shady site.

The lake is straight down that road.

How is that for luck. The setting sun shining right through that opening in the trees.

You can tell how empty the campground is, mainly because it is mid-week and the kids are back in school.

I walked down the bank of the lake and was surprised there weren't other people down there. I've stayed in several parks on lake where just about everyone in the campground comes down to see the sun go down.

The lake level is full and they have their gates wide open.
 
I haven't seen many sunsets on this trip. I have hopes for a good one at the last campground before getting home.

Yep, I'm sick. It came on during the night before leaving the last campground at The Lancaster Event Center. Just out of the blue and in the middle of the night I awoke to a metallic taste in the back of my throat. It was 3:30 a.m. and I thought I could hear a faint 4-wheeler moving somewhere in the campground. I thought maybe the event center was spraying a herbicide or insecticide after the horse show. I went back to sleep for an hour before starting to cough. It was a dry cough and was hacking up phlegm. Ut-oh,,,,,, I knew then it wasn't some spraying. It was probably "bronchitis". I've had it before and it comes on suddenly. The symptoms are coughing up phlegm with a very mild runny nose. Zero fever, zero breathing problems, except when coughing, and zero headaches. With those symptoms I'm pretty sure it is bronchitis and not Covid. I've also learned there isn't any really effective medicine so it is a waste of time to see a doctor. The only thing to do is treat the symptoms and wait for it to go away in about a week or so. My treatment is Robitussin Cough syrup with a cough suppressant and expectorant. A cough drop occasionally and about half a shot of Fireball Whiskey in the evening. I'll also take a Coracidin pill before bedtime. 

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be moving about 130 miles south to a City Campground in the town of Coffeyville, Kansas. I'll be there two days.

I believe my sickness would end quicker if only a pretty woman would place her hand on my forehead and whisper softly in my ear,,,, "It'll be OK". Oh well, I know how to suffer in silence and it isn't the first or last time I'll be sick, alone. 

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