Sunday, August 27, 2023

Last Illinois CG, Old Home Town Next

 Location: South Marcum Campground (COE) on Rend Lake; Benton, Illinois

I've passed by this lake several times over the years while traveling through Illinois but never stopped. It is located very near I-57 which runs the entire length of Illinois. I had always looked a Gun Creek Campground in the middle portion of the lake but was scared off by bad reviews talking about unlevel campsites. Finally, this time around, I checked out the campground near the dam and the campsite pictures showed relatively level sites. So, I decided to give it a shot. My campsite pad is unlevel in both directions but well within my range to level "Libby" (notice I changed the name of my RV from Liberty2 to Libby). It's a nice campground but the 100* heat when I arrived was unbearable. Today is day 3 of 3 and much more tolerable. 

The welcoming committee to the campground. I'm assuming that is twin fawns but I guess it's possible the doe took in an orphan.

This is the leading edge of the cool front that should knock these 100* days down.

Looking out over the lake

The view while driving over the dam. It was a pretty sky for a while.

My campsite on Owl Roost Loop.

The view out my back window when I'm working on my laptop.

It is a really pretty lake, especially since it was created by damning up a river named "Big Muddy River". This is the first "notched spillway" I've seen in all of my travels. There is an underwater gate system just to west of the spillway that would be used to pass the required amount of water and to drain the lake if necessary. The notched spillway is way to pool stage (lake elevation). I was surprised there wasn't a water gauge mounted to the notch or simply some painted numbers to indicate the depth of water passing through the notch. With that depth information, it would be easy calculations to figure how much water is passing through the notch. With that information you would know how much to open the gate to meet the required discharge amount. Well, it was at least interesting to me and it is another type of spillway I can check off my list. (I really don't have a list, I just said that).

Another really nice Visitor's Center

They have a working honey bee hive inside the visitor's center. They come and go through a pipe that looked to be about 3/4 inch in diameter. Very interesting.

I also found a nice bench in the center. You can sit and watch the humming birds. There must have been at least a dozen. I figure they will be migrating south soon.

The "notched spillway". 

Although I explored the dam and ate out a couple of times, I've mostly been hunkering down these three days while waiting for cooler weather which arrived today. I'm hoping the cooler weather will get me to walking like I was doing at the rally. This town has a Dollar Tree so I bought some small bottles of fabric softener to put in my tanks after emptying them tomorrow while hitching up. I was surprised to find out this campsite is full hook up. I don't have any proof or data but it is my belief that some fabric softener in the empty tanks coats the sides and bottom which makes them slippery and helps prevents solids from sticking. If I'm right, it is a "good deal Lucille" and if I'm wrong, I'm just out $1.25.

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be entering Missouri after about a 100 mile tow. I'll be moving to a State Park just north of Cape Girardeau, Missouri which is a place I lived when I was a mid teenager and my high school alma mater. The last time I explored the town a couple of years ago, I was surprised about the very little emotional draw the town provoked. I'm curious to see if that emotional-less feeling is permanent or just that the last time was a one-time deal.

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

Thursday, August 24, 2023

A Good Museum, 100' Heat & a Huge Glacier

 Location: Forest "Bo" Wood (COE) Campground; Sullivan, Illinois

My plan to do some exploring before leaving the last campground worked out well. Since my check-in time at my current campground wasn't until 5:00 I got everything ready to travel on the inside of Liberty2 except for tying down the recliner. I then headed off to Danville, Illinois which is about 20 minutes away to explore a war museum. On my way, I saw a sign for a National Cemetery so I detoured to it before the museum. I can't believe I had to accidentally find the cemetery since that is one of the things I specifically look for in an area to pay my respects to veterans who has passed on. The only reason I can think of is I didn't except one in such a small town like Danville that only has a population of 30,000. To get to the cemetery, I drove through an extremely large VA complex. It is as large and has as many buildings as a medium sized college campus. It was a nice surprise. I later found out they service vets from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri. A big wow.

Honor and respect to those who have led the way to the other side.

The museum was the Vermilion County War Museum and it ranks in my top 10 for museums. They have sections on every war or conflict the U.S. has been involved. Since I was the only visitor, I got a personal tour by a Navy Veteran who was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia during the 1970's. My ship was based out of Little Creek, Virginia so we were within about 20 miles of each other and didn't know it. He was a Gunner's Mate on an aircraft carrier while I was an Operations Specialist on an LST, so at that time we wouldn't have had much in common other than the Navy. We swapped sea stories as he showed me around the museum. I guess I need to give the definition of a "sea story" for my non-Navy readers. The definition goes like this,,,,, "What is the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story?" A fairy tale begins with "once upon a time,,,,," and a sea story begins with "and this is no sh$t,,,,,,". It's been a decade or more since I thought of that, but it magically came back once the stories started. Any way, it is a very good museum and worth a stop if you're in the area.

There is so much stuff in the museum, it is hard to get a picture to represent it. This is picture 1 of 2

Picture 2 of 2

Remember about a month or so ago when I was trying to decide on my route back to Louisiana? Well, I may have made a poor decision based on today's and tomorrow's temperature being 100 degrees. I can't complain too much because my home base in Louisiana has had 100+ days for a couple of weeks or more with the next predicted day below 100 being September 1st. But had I have headed north from the Rally into Michigan and hung a left around Lake Michigan after crossing the Might Mac Bridge, I would currently be in daily highs of mid 70's. Oh well, the temperature forecast was wrong when I decided on the route so I made the best decision based on the best information at the time. We will see how long I'm in this hot weather, maybe just a couple of days. As most RV'ers know, we are lucky if our A/C keeps the temperature inside the RV within 15 to 20 degrees of the outside temperature. Liberty2 is currently keeping it about 15 degrees from the outside temp. I'm lucky my campsite gets shade starting about 3:00 which is usually the hottest part of the day. Tomorrow is moving day and I hope the next campsite is shaded too.

My current campsite, but since I'm tardy on posting, tomorrow is already moving day.

This is the Hippie Memorial in the small town of Arcola, Illinois. I passed within two city blocks of it and they have a long parking area so I stopped. The metal structure represents the times of the Hippie movement. There is also a nice love-seat bench. The hippies definitely had it right on a few things, but wrong on the others. So, in memory of them, "peace out" and "make love, not war".

My current campground is located about midway between Indianapolis and St. Louis. It is a very nice and large Corps of Engineers campground built on the shores of Lake Shelbyville. The non-hydro dam was built in the late 1960' and is on the Kaskaskia River which empties into the Mississippi River about 50 miles south of St. Louis. The interesting thing about the location of the dam is it is the point where the Wisconsin Glacier quit moving south before retreating north. Since this location would have been the leading edge of the glacier, it would have only been about 700 feet thick right where I'm camped now.  Farther north it got up to 5,000 feet thick. The glacier started retreating about 20,000 years ago after having been around for 75,000 years. It is also the glacier that carved out the Great Lakes. You can still see the material that was pushed in front of the glacier as it moved south. That material plus lots of granite rocks and boulders were left behind when the glacier moved back north. 

One of the boat ramps and island in Lake Shelbyville.

The dam. They have an above average visitor center with a well designed section of displays.

This is on the back porch of the visitor's center overlooking the lake. The average depth of the lake is only about 20 feet.

Also on the back porch of the visitors center. Surprise, surprise, a "double barrel rocking bench". I looked around in hopes of finding a nice looking woman to try it out. Sadly, none was around.

Shelbyville is a "good vibe town". I don't know if it is good enough to make my good vibe list, but it might.

I haven't seen a fancy courthouse since the last time I was in Texas. It was a nice surprise.

These county roads are everywhere here in Illinois as well as Indiana and Ohio. Most are straight as an arrow with row crops growing on each side. A person could easily get lost while driving around just to "see what I can see". 

As I mentioned earlier, tomorrow is moving day and I'll be moving to another COE campground about 120 miles south. It also has a 5:00 check-in time, so I'll pull out around 2:30. I hope the cool front that is coming from the north speeds up and gets here before I have to start hitching up. Fingers crossed.     

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Not Much In a 3 Day Stay

 Location:Kickapoo State Recreation Area; Danville, Illinois

It seems a long time ago, but it has only been three days since I left the rally. The check-in/check-out time at this campground is 3:00 and with a 4 hour tow, I figured to leave Goshen around 11:00. Nope, I hadn't thought about changing time zones back to central time. But it all worked out well with a stop at Walmart to get a few grocery items. Even on the weekend this campground is only about half filled. It's a comfortable campground but without a lake or pool within the campground, I guess it isn't very popular with families. The one item I planned to explore while staying here was the County War Museum in Danville. The reviews sounded good, so I thought I would give it a shot. Good for me that while looking for directions to the place I noticed it was closed on Monday and wouldn't be open until noon on Tuesday, which is today. Since my stay here was Saturday, Sunday and Monday it meant I would miss visiting the museum.

A travel picture somewhere in either western Indiana or eastern Illinois

Once you get on the secondary roads, there is corn everywhere with some soy beans every now and then.

Out Freedom's side window. Pretty clouds and lots of corn.

Campsite here at Kickapoo. It is nice to be able to raise the blinds on my back window. It was too crowded to do so at the rally. And of course, I forgot to take a picture of it. 

This recreation area used to be a very large coal strip mining operations before it closed and sold the land to the state which opened it as a recreation area. This is one of the roads I I wandered down.

After wandering around a little bit, you're rewarded with a nice lake view. Apparently, this is one of the former mining pits. Given a chance, ole Mother Nature can reclaim just about anything. 

I don't like these late check-in times at some of the COE campgrounds. For example, my next two campgrounds have 5:00 pm check-in times. The logic behind the late check-in time is so people can enjoy time on the lake during their last day of camping and still check-out before 4:00. That may be good for them, but for travelers, it isn't. But, as with most things in life, we "adapt and overcome". So, today is moving day and my plan to overcome is to 1) pack up the inside of Liberty2, except for the recliner, in preparation of moving, 2) Be at the museum when they open at noon, 3) Spend a maximum of 1 1/2 hours in the museum, 4) gas up Freedom, 5) Be back to the campground by 2:30 to finish getting Liberty2 ready to leave at 3:00, 6) with possible stops at Walmart, a Rest Area and a Hippie Memorial, arrive at my next campground around 5:00. 

Like I used to tell someone special at work before I retired, "you gotta have a plan". 

If the museum isn't another disappointment, I'll post about it in the next post. 

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


Friday, August 18, 2023

Catching Up at the Big RV Rally

This post will cover two campgrounds since I a little tardy with posting due to laziness unknown reasons.

Old Location: Harrison Lake State Park; Fayette, Ohio

Current Location: Elkhart County Fairgrounds, Goshen, Indiana

I've been here at the fairgrounds since last Saturday (8-12-23) which was the day before the Rally officially began. The four day stay at Harrison Lake was a rest-up before the rally. It is a great campground in the middle of farm country but not a lot to explore in the area. I've stayed there before back in 2014 before that years rally. It is a good resting spot.

This is the campsite at Harrison Lake. I purposely reserved the same site I stayed at back in 2014. It is definitely still a "good vibe" campground. 

If you want to have a stable RV, park it so your two rear stabilizing jacks are on the concrete bumper. I wish I could say I planned it, but I didn't. It was just dumb luck but the really surprising thing is this has happened to me at least two other times over the years. What I believe is happening is someone is guiding me. I wish I knew who. 

Remember, Harrison Lake CG is in the middle of farm country. This old house is about a quarter mile from the campground entrance. It has been abandoned at least 9 years, because I remember it from when I was here last time. I asked several people about the history and finally got an answer. Apparently, the mother and father passed away and none of the children wanted to live in it, so they tried to sell it. When it didn't sell, they essentially abandoned it. A house that size and made of brick would have been an expensive house back in the 30's or 40's when it was built. It's just another story that may never be told.

I don't remember for sure which day this was, but I thought the sky with puffy clouds looked nice so I snapped a picture. As my mother told me many times, it was a "pretty day for little boys to play".

This rally was my long range destination point for this trip. It is my fourth time to attend this "International FROG Rally". I'm glad the attendance is down and they are limiting the number of attendees. One of the past rally's I attended had between 800 and 900 RV's which was way too many. I said back then that I wouldn't be back if the size continued to be that large. This year, there are between 300 and 400 RV's which seems to be about right. 

Forest River will do free repairs on your RV if it meets the age requirements. Since mine is relatively new, I got a couple of things taken care of. The cost and time savings was worth the cost of attending the rally. Also, they provide breakfast every morning for the 6 days of the rally and 4 dinners. All of the meals, especially the dinners, have been first rate and I've been super impressed since I don't remember them being that great in the past. In additional to doing a lot of walking and attending some seminars, there is lots of visiting with folks of similar interest, ie, RV'ing. We all exchange thoughts, ideas and pointers whenever we start chatting. I've been completely satisfied with the Rally and may return next year if I'm still RV'ing. Oh, they also give you free soft serve ice cream between 11 and 4 o'clock and there are 2 live concerts. Yeah, it's worth the cost. 

My campsite at the Rally. I arrived on Saturday and there was a junior rodeo going on near my site. I spent a couple hours watching it after I got camp set up.

This is a small portion of the people waiting for our table number to be called so we can go to the buffet line. Dinners have been great, and I'm planning to head that way after making this post.

This is just some of the RV's at the rally. 

You know you're in Amish country when you get behind one of the horse and buggies.

An Amish horse and buggy in line at the red light waiting to come out of the shopping center.

This is the barn at the edge of the Walmart parking lot. There are six other stalls on the other side. 

Free Ice Cream anyone?

I've planned my return trip by way of Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. I have reservations for September 17th at Fort Pickens Campground which is on a Gulf of Mexico barrier island near Pensacola, Florida and is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Between there and here, I have reservations at 9 campgrounds, with most being COE's. It will be good to get back on the road after being here 7 days.

This my route back south. I haven't decided where to enter Louisiana since I think I'll be avoiding the Baton Rouge/Slidell area due to heavy traffic and construction. Perhaps I'll cross at Natchez. I don't know but I have plenty of time to decide. 

Tomorrow is moving day and I've purposely made it a long drive of 218 miles. I'm hoping the drive will clear my head some. We will see. Oh, by the way, still a little bit of coughing, but probably 90% healed. 

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

Monday, August 7, 2023

Getting Well and Ohio Canals

Location: Grand Lake St. Mary's State Park; St. Mary, Ohio 

Well, I made it to Ohio. I continue to improve from what I've decided was a mild case of bronchitis. If it follows suit like other ones in my past, I'll be coughing on and off for about a week then it will be all gone. I've also used another cayenne/castor oil poultice on my left foot. This is the second time and the results have been very surprising. Swelling and tingling has stopped. And this is only after two treatments. Wow. Also, another curious thing to go with all the others, my blood pressure has dropped by 10 to 15 points over the last 8 days. I check it every morning, so I have a pretty good record of the results. We will see how things go from here on out but right now, I'm really happy with the results from the cayenne/castor oil poultice.

A couple travel pictures. This is typical farmland in central Indiana and Ohio.

Large churches like this is not uncommon along lightly traveled stare highways.

Back to RV traveling and exploring. The reason I stopped here was to learn about and explore one of the main man-made canals in Ohio. It is the Miami-Erie Canal which connected the Great Lakes at Toledo, Ohio to the Ohio River at Cincinnati, Ohio. It took twenty years to build and was completed in 1845 which coincidentally was the same year the Erie Canal was completed in upstate New York. There is a large portion of the Erie Canal still in existence and you can buy a ticket to ride on it as it goes through some existing locks. I did that back in 2014 and is still one of my "wow" moments. The difference between the Erie Canal and the Miami-Erie Canal is the Erie Canal made tons of money for its owners. The Miami-Erie just barely broke even. The reason being, the Railroads in Ohio started coming online shortly after the Miami-Erie Canal opened. Even through heavy competition, the canal continued in operation until 1913 when heavy floods in the area destroyed much of the canal. 

This is a portion of the Miami-Ohio canal and lock. The large two-story building on the left is the lock-keepers house. They were on 24 hour call to lock boats through the lock.

The gates in the lock were hand operated using these timbers. 

The concrete sidewalk is where the mule path for the canal was located. I also found a nice bench.

This statue is a memorial to the young farm boys and the mules from their farms around the area. They would typically tow the boats about 10 miles before turning it over to another boy/mule team. No labor laws back then.

The campground I'm currently at is on the banks of Grand Lake. It was built as a water reservoir for the canal. It would provide water during dry times to keep the boats moving. It was completed the same year as the canal, 1845. It was hand-dug and is 9 miles long by 3 miles wide. It is an impressive project. At the time it was completed, it was THE largest man-made lake in the world and is still the worlds largest hand-dug lake. It also hold another "first" in that it is the location of the fist "submerged" oil well head in 1891. By 1915, there were over 150 wells on the lake. The lake is the predominate feature within a 30 miles radius. It is a recreational hotspot for people from tens of miles around. But even as crowded as it was on Friday and Saturday, I still got a nice, peaceful, good vibe from the lake and surrounding towns. It will definitely go on my "good vibe" list. If I return to this campground, I'll be sure to stay only during Sunday thru Thursday. 

The campground was super crowded on Friday and Saturday. By Sunday afternoon, it was 75% empty. Good vibes though.

Grand Lake as a cold front was blowing through. It is a large lake.

Credit goes to the local authorities for developing and maintaining recreational items around the lake. Well done. 

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be heading north to a campground in the middle of farmland. I stayed there for a few days many years ago and I remember it being a very good place. It is described as a "farmland oasis". I'm looking forward to see if it has changed or not. 

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


Thursday, August 3, 2023

Sick Day(s) & Experimental Herbs

Location: Mounds State Park; Anderson, Indian (about 40 minutes east of Indianapolis)

I received the results of my Lifeline Screening tests that I had run while I was camped near Bowling Green, Kentucky a couple of weeks ago. The results say my carotid arteries are clear and I don't have an Aortic Aneurysm or Afib. However, I do have a mild case of Peripheral Arterial Disease in my left foot. I have been noticing, what I was calling, and it may still be, a touch of nephropathy. Again, this is just a mild case and it can wait until I get back to my regular GP in Louisiana sometime in the fall of the year. But, I figure between now and then, I can take advantage of the situation. I started taking some cayenne pepper capsules a couple of months ago to help my blood pressure, blood sugars and blood circulation. It seemed to have a positive effect, so doing a little more research, I found that it may also help with nephropathy. Since I have a baseline test value with Lifeline and I'll probably get my GP to run the same test when I get back to Louisiana that allows me the opportunity to doctor myself, herbally, to see if I can improve the test numbers. I will be a test case and control subject all in one. Yeah, yeah, it sounds a little like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or even Frankenstein, but a herb ain't going to kill me, is it?

The medical engineering plan was to apply a poultice to the bottom of my left foot and go to bed. I hadn't got the castor oil yet so I used some olive oil. I put some on a few sheets of super strong, but absorbent paper towels then sprinkled some cayenne pepper on the oil. Put that scientifically controlled concoction on the bottom of my foot, wrapped it in plastic cling wrap and put a sock over it. I woke up the next morning, which was moving day, with a tingle in my throat. I figured that was from the cayenne pepper, since it was similar to what I felt when I drank some cayenne mixed with water. I thought, wow, that is powerful to go from my foot to my throat. Thinking my throat would clear up in a few hours, I started the hitching process and moved about 100 mile to the campground I'm at now. I woke up the next morning with my throat hurting even more and now I had a very mild fever. This was feeling like my normal case of bronchitis that I get about every 18 months. My energy level bottomed out and I slept most of the day and through the second night. By day 3, I was feeling much better and by today, I was all good except for feeling a little puny from not eating anything and zero exercise for 2 days. I unintentionally lost 6 pounds. I had to go into town to pick up some real medication prescriptions I had dropped off at Walmart on my way to the campground on moving day. I walked around some and felt much better. By tomorrow, moving day again, I should be all well.

Now, the question is, was I really sick, probably due to picking up a germ or two at the Creation Museum due to the large number of people in a confined space OR was it due to the cayenne/olive oil poultice? Hmmmm, inquiring minds want to know. Could it have been a strange coincidence or maybe even a sign telling me not to doctor myself. I don't believe the second part since I've always doctored myself by adjust medicines and adding other things. I'm thinking I was really sick and will continue doing the poultice on my foot, but I'm not 100% sure yet. I'll think on it some more while driving to the new campground tomorrow. If I redo the poultice, I'll make sure I have at least 3 days of recovery in case it hits me again. 

The sickness ended any exploration that I had planned for this stop. There are several old Indian mounds here in the park that I was looking forward to see and pondering on. Oh well, everything happens for a reason, so I guess that means I'll be coming back sometime in the future. I do have some pictures from Day 1 and today.

This is the sky at my last campground while I was hitching up to leave. I thought it was neat.

My campsite here at Mounds State Park. Plenty of shade and space.

The view out my back window.

I found an unusual and uncomfortable bench in front of the Visitors Center.

Access to the White River from inside the State Park

This is looking downstream and it appears to be running a little low.

And a few upstream. 

Like I said, tomorrow is moving day and I'll be crossing into Ohio for stops at two Ohio State Parks before arriving at the big rally on the 12th. 

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