Sunday, May 28, 2023

Plan Change #1

 Location: New Rockdale RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

As with all things in life, we must adapt and overcome. There is a reason RV'ers say they make their plans in jello, because sometimes life gets in the way.

This change is not a big one, but it will delay my departure date from June 11th to June 17th. My X-wife has a doctor's appointment on the 15th which I want to attend. Depending on what the doctor says will determine if I leave on the 17th or I have to issue plan change #2. 

To make this change, I rescheduled my first campground to the new dates. Surprisingly, the campsite I was wanting was still available on the 17th. To me, that was the "sign" to make the change and attend the doctor's appointment. I canceled the second and third campgrounds which were at Corps of Engineer campgrounds and made a new reservations at another COE campground. The length of stay in the two canceled campgrounds was 6 day with the new campground only being 2 days. The new one is on Enid Lake in Mississippi and is located alongside Interstate 55. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd trips will average about 200 miles before I intercept my original route at Pickwick Dam Campground in Tennessee.

I have also been working on points of interest along the route. When I find something interesting, I post it on Google Earth which also has the campgrounds highlighted. So far, I've found some civil war battlefields, Indian mounds, National Cemeteries, dams, waterfalls, etc.

This is from Google Earth and shows a portion of my route. The sites in purple are the campgrounds and the sites in red are items of interest in that area.

This will just be a short post to sort of "page mark" the plan change.

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

Monday, May 15, 2023

18 Campground Reservations

 Location: New Rockdale RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

This is part four of the "how I plan a trip". I'm still taking the planning slowly, since the start date of the trip is June 11th which is a little less than a month away. Talking about taking it slow, some of ya'll professional procrastinators out there will appreciate my logic about not doing some non-essential modifications to Liberty2. Of course I have to have something to do during boring periods on the road so I have "saved" those mods for those times. Pretty good, uh? I may have moved up a classification in the procrastination rankings with that one. Another reason is that it has been raining on and off for a couple of weeks and this campsite is not one of the best drained ones in this campground. When I arrived a month ago, there were only two vacant sites and beggars can't be choosy. 

I have completed the reservation phase by making reservations at 18 campgrounds, including the site of the FROG rally at Goshen, Indiana. There are 7-State Parks, 5-Corps of Engineers, 4-TVA's and 2-County parks.The total towing distance is about 1,800 miles which works out to about 100 miles between campgrounds, which is good. The average length of stay per campground is about 3 1/2 nights, which is good. The average cost per night is about $25.00, which is semi-good. This cost is higher than my normal but I expected it and accepted that fact when I decided to explore the TVA and use some of their campgrounds. Based on these reservations and using COE's as a baseline, TVA and State Park campgrounds are about twice as expensive as COE's when using my senior pass. But, I doubt that I'll be back in this area and I have high hopes of seeing some "Wows" on this trip.

This is the screen shot from RV Parky showing the reserved campgrounds. The other park of the program, not shown here, lists the campgrounds with mileage between each. There is also a place for notes about each campground, such as campsite number, cost and anything special about the area. I really like the program.

This is a screen shot of the other program I use during the campground reservation phase. The name is Allstays. It will show the campground locations broken down into categories. This picture shows "all public lands". They have a free version of the program and is worth checking out. 

The next computer phase of planning is to find interesting things to see and do along the route. I have abandoned the idea of seeing the Ark in Kentucky. Things just didn't work out and I took that as a sign, so I re-routed. I haven't gotten too deep into this phase yet and I could actually wait and do it spontaneously along the route (yeah, right). As I used to say in my career prior to becoming a traveler, "you got to have a plan". I believe having a plan makes the inevitable serendipitous events along the way even more special. Ut oh, I'm using some big, fancy words in this post, I may need to check on my medications.

Ok, time to post this so I can get ready to go see my granddaughter as she performs in a skit and talent show at her school. This is one of the things I miss when traveling.  

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

Sunday, May 7, 2023

I Have a Trip Start Date

 Location: New Rockdale RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

My start date is tentatively set for June 11, 2023. "Tentatively" is one of those weasel words I used in my previous life, before retirement. Such as, at a press interview I could say, "that project is tentatively due to be opened on (fill in the date)." But, in this case it is true. Unless something unforeseen pops up, that is my firm carved in stone definite maybe 95% sure start date.

It is firm enough for me to start making reservations. I have confirmed reservations at five campgrounds. The first one is my sentimental pick due to it being the first campground I stayed at after going fulltime back in April of 2014. I went all in on sentimental too by reserving the exact campsite. I'll be there for 3 days and maybe I'll re-check the archaeological site with older eyes and see if it is better the second go around. I tried to get reservations at Roosevelt State Park for my second campground but they were totally full. So, instead, I have reservations at two Corps of Engineers campgrounds. The first is near Meridian and the other is near Aberdeen, Mississippi. They are waypoints #3 and #4 on the RV Parky picture.

This is the screen shot from RV Parky showing the first 5 campgrounds. The program counts my current campground as #1. So, waypoint #5 is campground #4

The fourth campground and waypoint #5 on the picture will be my first ever Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) campground. It is Pickwick Dam Campground located right on the Tennessee River just downstream of Pickwick Dam. I think I have reserved the best campsite in the whole campground. 

This is a screen shot from Google Earth Street View. The campground is on the left, the Tennessee River on the right and Pickwick Dam in far background. If I did it right, my reserved campsite is the one on the left with the back of the RV showing. 

The fivth campground will be Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Alabama which is between Muscle Shoals and Huntsville. It is located between two TVA dams and is an excellent position to explore both of them. 

I don't have reservations for the sixth campground yet but am hoping it will be Jackson County Park and Marina near Scottsboro, Alabama. Since they don't have online reservations, I have to wait until they open on Monday to make reservations the old fashioned way,,,,,by phone. 

After securing the Jackson County campground I'll be able to make more online reservations since the next few proposed campgrounds are TVA's. By they way, for ya'll campers, the TVA accepts the Senior Pass but grants only 30% discount instead of the normal 50%. They are about twice the price of the average COE campground but I am willing to pay the extra premium to camp along the river and near the dams. 

I've also started checking the long range temperature forecast and it shows daytime highs in the upper 80's to low 90's all the way through Alabama. Hopefully, that forecast will hold up. I know I jinxed North Dakota on my trip up there a year or so ago by bringing 100 degree days with me. It's a good thing they never found out I was the jinx or I would still be up there, just six feet under. 

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

Monday, May 1, 2023

How I Plan a Trip (part 2)

 Location: New Rockdale RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

I still have a couple of things I need to take care of before hitting the road, but hopefully those will happen soon so I can firm up the departure date. I can't begin to make reservations until that date is established. 

Until then, I've been doing a little more planning. Part 1 ended with me having the backbone of the trip with a couple waypoints in the RVparky program. I was also waiting for the FROG rally registration to open. It opened, I am registered and now have a firm destination for late August. 

The backbone of the trip showing campgrounds at Poverty Point State Park, Roosevelt State Park, Pickwick Dam Campground, Douglas Dam Campground

I've found enough campgrounds along the basic route to get me to Goshen. There are about 17 or so campgrounds with an average distance between campgrounds of about 90 miles. I have mellowed over the last few years and am not interested in towing a lot of miles between campgrounds. In most places within this country, you can get a change in scenery by traveling 100 in any direction. Some people like to drive several hundred miles per day and stop for the night at Walmart and do the same drive the next day. I'm not in that much of a hurry now-a-days. When I first started full-timing, I was generally following a lesson taught to me by another full-timer about traveling. She (RIP) told me the "Rule of Two's", which says,,, don't drive over 200 miles in a day, arrive at the campground by 2 in the afternoon and stay at least 2 days. I guess I've evolved since then and are traveling more like the "Rule of 1-2-3". Travel less than 100 miles, arrive by 2:00 and stay at least 3 days. There have only been a few places in my travels that I wish I had stayed longer. 

The basic route has been fleshed out with some campgrounds. Some of these will change as I start making reservations, but I like the general layout so far. There is enough information for me to begin finding interesting things along the route.

Once I get a firm start date, I'll begin making reservations. I hope one month in advance will be enough lead time for vacancies. Summer is a tough time for campground vacancies because families with and without kids are reserving just about every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer months. Sadly, several make reservations that they never intend to use, but make them "just in case". They will cancel at the last minute and absorb any cancellation fees as standard operating procedure. Oh well, once I get to the reservation step, we will know if I have a problem or not. 

While I'm waiting for the reservation step, I can begin to find things to explore within about a 50 mile radius of the campgrounds I plan to use. I will be visiting several dams, but need more things to keep me busy. Golly gee, I can only sit and watch the pretty scenery for so long. 

If ya'll have any suggestions for places along the route in the above picture, put it in the comments, please.

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