Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Pensive or Melancholy

 Location: Gulpha Gorge Campground; Hot Springs, Arkansas

Today is day 4 of 4 here in Hot Springs. The campground is a National Park Service campground so I'm getting the 50% discount for using my Senior Pass. That works out to $17.00 per night which isn't as cheap as some COE's but definitely cheaper than private parks. I don't even want to get started talking about the rising price of campgrounds. So I won't. 

I've been slacking lately about posting travel pictures. I've been told over the years that some people enjoy them because it shows them what places look like. Yep, they can see pictures online about these places but seeing them "through my eyes", makes it a little different, a little more personal. I'll try to do better.

It's a decent campground and the campsites are laid out well so you don't feel cramped although the campers are near to each other. It is an older campground but is being maintained well. It is like a lot of federal campgrounds now a days in that all campsites are reserved online only with no walk up services. You essentially just drive to your campsite and set up without checking in with anyone. As I've walked around the campground, I've seen two camp-host campsites but haven't seen any hosts walking around. It would be nice if they would casually check in with new campers. I guess it is comforting knowing that if something major happened, they would be around as the local contact person.

It's a nice campsite with a stream running behind it. The weather has been pretty good with a couple of hours where I needed to run the A/C to cool down before bedtime.

The view out my back window


This is the amphitheater in the campground where ranger put on programs for the campers. I didn't see a list of events and didn't hear any going on. Nice location though.

I had reservations for four days which is a little longer than my usual three day stays. I had plans to do some exploring in this town that I've always heard about but never visited. Of my list of four items that sounded worthy of exploring, I only did one. That was to take some scenic drives on a couple local mountaintops. Other than that, I've ate out a couple of times and explored Walmart. Whoop-ti-do!! LOL

The road to the top of one of the mountain scenic drives. The burn scar on the right was from a prescribed burn by the Forest Service. They are doing proper forest management, unlike some of the states on the western coast that will not allow it and yet complains about wildfires. 

Another mountain top. 

A view overlooking Hot Springs. The large brown building in the lower center is the Arlington Hotel Resort and Spa. Many presidents have stayed there and is somewhat of a landmark in town. 

I'm not sure exactly what is going on with my mood lately. The town is giving off a combination of good and bad vibes, so I don't think it's the town. The campground is OK and I get good vibes from it. I'm not physically sick and although I'm getting a little less than my normal amount of sleep, I don't feel tired. I check my blood pressure and blood sugar daily and they are both normal. I'm not depressed. I've visited that dark area before and I know I'm not there.

The best I can come up with is I'm either pensive or in a state of melancholy. I'm leaning more toward the pensive side because I think melancholy has a tinge of depression associated with it. To be honest, although I've used both words over the years, I had to look them up to get a good idea of their definition. Then, of course, my engineer training kicked in and I had to try to figure out why I was being pensive. How can someone be pensive and not be curious as to why? I came up with several reasons for my pensive-ness (?). Most had to do with time, changes and loss. Several people that I know are dealing with terminal illnesses and their time is short. I've known others throughout my life that faced that situation so it's nothing new. It changes them. They begin to live more for today instead of tomorrow, and that is understandable. No longer are they thinking in terms of seasons, such as "next Fall" or "when Winter gets here,,,,". They are taking joy in a good meal that they can keep down, or a few hours of no pain, or being able to do something by themselves instead of needing help from someone else. It's the simple things that really count at that point in a persons life. Although we all plan for our futures, none of us are promised more than our present. I've been doing a lot of looking over my back trail, reviewing my past. Dealing with regrets and what-ifs as well as rejoicing in some of my happiest memories of life events. I just got the feeling that some reader is going to think I'm terminally ill. Nope, I'm not. I'm just being "pensive" :). I'm starting to like that word more and more. 

Anyway, in some ways Hot Springs has been a bust and in other ways, it has been restive and regenerative. Wow, in my previous life (career), I would be accusing me of using too many "weasel words". I take back all those times I said that to people. Most were lawyers. I think that is a required course in law school, ie, Weasel Words 101. Well crap, now I have to apologize to lawyers? I've known one or two that were stand up people.   

Oh well, tomorrow is moving day and my next campground is less than 100 miles away along the Arkansas River a little south-east of Little Rock. I have no exploration planned, so maybe it will be another "pensive campground". Yeah, I'm OK, or I will be after a nice cup of coffee and banana nut bread muffin.  

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

Saturday, February 24, 2024

A Great $7.50 COE Campground

 Location: Beard's Bluff COE Campground on Millwood Lake; Ashdown, Arkansas

Today is day 3 of 3 here at Beard's Bluff. I knew there would be very little to explore in this area but I was excited about the campsite I had chosen. It didn't disappoint me. It took about 3 inches of blocks to level Liberty side to side but it was worth the headache. I was able to witness something that, to me, is rare. I was able to take a picture, through Liberty's door, of a sunset one evening followed by a near full moon sunset the following morning. That's pretty good to sit inside your RV and take those pictures out the door. Yep, it doesn't take much to make me happy. Just admiring God's handiwork. Mostly pictures to follow:

Not bad for $7.50 per night, uh? 

The view out my back window while sitting at my computer desk/dining table.

This is the most blocks I've ever had to use to level up. It was worth the headache.
I've visited many, many dams around the country but this is the first one that had train tracks going across the top. The tracks look to have not been used in a while, but it is still surprising.

All of the gates were open and flowing freely. I liked the "swinging bench" in the lower right.

Sunset thru Liberty's door

Followed by a moonset the following morning.

A nice sunset reflection on the door of Liberty

It's a pretty good campsite, but 3 days is just about right. I'm ready to move on down the road.



The only exploring was to visit a small museum named Two Rivers Museum in Ashdown. It was the typical small town museum. I really appreciate historical societies that keep history alive in small towns. Usually, one of the best parts of a small town museum are the curators/volunteers. This museum had a very nice older couple but they were brand new and only been at the museum for a week. I was the only patron there so I wandered around by myself which is the way I like it. The one thing that made me laugh was the following picture.

Notice the caption on the picture of the house,,,, "First nice home in Ashdown". It made me smile.

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be moving on down the road about 100 miles to Hot Springs, Arkansas. I have what seems like a nice campsite in the National Park Campground with full hook-ups and a stream about 20 feet behind the campsite. 

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

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Another Great COE

 Location: Johnson Creek COE Campground on Lake O' the Pines; near Jefferson, Texas

I left Mansfield a little before noon, two days ago. It was only a 2 hour tow and with a check-in time of 3:00 pm, I knew I would be early. It was not a problem and I was able to enter the campground when I arrived. I really don't like these late check-in times but thinking back, I've only been turned away once for arriving early. I asked a Ranger once why the check-in times had gotten later and his answer was because a lot of the local weekenders want to stay later on Sunday. I asked him why they didn't just make Sunday a late check-in time instead of all of the day and he honestly said, they didn't think of that. Oh well, we all play by with the rules.

One of the wonderful things about this lifestyle is seeing new things. By new things, I don't mean brand new things that I've never seen before like a three-headed frog. I mean normal things that are just new to me. It is really good for all of the senses because it makes them work overtime to pick up all of the sensations around me. If I've been in a place for awhile, I've seen everything before and I can sleep walk my way around town. I know I'm not explaining that good enough and will try again, maybe in a future post. I bet there are some readers that understand and some readers that know what I'm talking about but just haven't experienced it yet. If I can dodge a pothole because I remember it being there, I've been in that place too long.

This is a great COE campground. I have a site with a great view and cannot see another RV when looking out my door or back window. The morning sun rises through my door and Liberty provides shade from the sun beginning around 1:00 in the afternoon. Yesterday's sunrise was blocked by overcast skies but I'm hopeful this morning will be different. I'll know in about an hour or so when it comes up. The campsite is level concrete which makes sliding under your RV easy. I didn't need to do it this time but hopefully I'll remember for the future. The campground is great for walking with some gentle, but a little huffing/puffing, hills. The middle of the week and time of year contribute to an occupancy of about 25%. I will remember this place as one of my top 10 COE's but I'm sure it would be different if it was a weekend during the middle of summer. 

My stay here is only two days and I needed these two days to get back in the swing of traveling. I know that sounds strange since I just got back from my last trip a month ago. But after hitching up and setting up a couple days ago, I know I need to stay in "grandpa gear" for another couple of moves to get comfortable again or something not nice will happen. I also needed these two days to push back the time of arrival at two future stops. Those campgrounds don't open up until March 1st. This two day stay is the shortest of any of the campgrounds on this trip.  

I didn't do any exploring since I've been here and never even left the campground. It surprised me, but I liked that. I have explored Jefferson, Texas before and if you're interested here is the link>>>>

The rest of the post is pictures which will help me remember this place fondly.

That's going to be my campsite straight ahead. Yeah, I'm happy.

After getting set up before neighbors show up.

My view out my back window while sitting at my computer desk.

The view out my door, also from my computer desk.

There goes the neighborhood. Great neighbors. The one on the left set up their RV then left. I have a feeling they have a big weekend planned and I may be glad I will be gone. The ones on the right are an older couple that have been traveling since 2011. A very nice and quiet campground loop.

A nice bowl of chicken/sausage gumbo with a great view. Nice.

Nice walking area and one that I'll remember for a while.

That's Liberty between the trees and a tent site on the lower right. It was a gorgeous day.

This is the swimming beach inside the campground. A huge flock of pelicans seemed to have claimed it for their own. 

This is a road for vehicles but works for walking too. 

This campground has more tent sites than any other COE I've been in recently. They are very nice.

The last view of the lake from a little hill on a peninsula. I sent a memorable text from this location so you see, technology and nature can easily co-exist. 

Today is moving day but the check-in time at the next campground is 4:00. The next campground is Beard's Bluff. I hope it is as peaceful as this one.

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

Monday, February 19, 2024

Trip Begins Tomorrow

 Location: Heart of Haynesville RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

I've been back from my last trip for a month and I begin my next trip tomorrow. 

When I hit the road back in 2014, I planned to travel full-time with stops here in Mansfield for about 2 months per year, mainly November and December, to see family, doctors and do RV maintenance work. The plan worked for a while until life got in the way which affected my travel times. I continued to travel but at a reduced amount while I continued to live full-time in my RV. As the title of this post says, my next trip begins tomorrow. This morning I started thinking about how my travel style has changed over the years. I was reminded of something another full-time RV'er, Malia Lane (RIP), had said to me many years ago. We were talking about all of the different styles of RV travel and how much hers had changed over the years. She said, just as life changes, so does an RV'ers travel style. I knew that what she was saying was true and agreed with her. My style had already evolved at that time.

So, this morning I wondered, what was my current travel style? I definitely hadn't been traveling the 10 months per year as I did at the beginning. I was kind of surprised when I checked to see how much traveling I did last year. I was on the road with 3 separate trips that lasted a total of about 6 1/2 months in 2023. Even though the length of time surprised me, the other surprise was it just felt right. I guess my new travel style will be several small trips through-out the year with a longer one during the summer (hot) months. I have a feeling the shorter trips will be like this one coming up, about 40 days in length. I don't have a name for that style yet since I don't like the name "part-timer". If ya'll have a suggestion, put it in the comments please. 

My campground tomorrow will be at a COE just west of Jefferson, Texas. It's only about a 2 hour tow and with check-in time being 3:00 pm, I won't have to pull out of here until around noon. I'll probably get there an hour or so early and if I have to wait, it won't be a problem. I'm still getting used to this new fad of late afternoon check-in times, but I really like the short hauls between campgrounds that I've been doing in my trips lately. Maybe the name of my travel style is "multi-trip, short tow RV traveler". Hmmmm, although descriptive, that is kind of long. Abbreviated, MTSTRVT. I don't think that is going to catch on. Oh well, at least I know what I mean, until I change my mind. 

All trip preparations are completed except laundry, emptying my tanks and stowing away most of the outside gear. 

In case you were wondering if it is still exciting on the eve of a trip. The answer is Yes. When that answer is No, then I know it is time to quit traveling. I'm not there yet.

All posts need a picture, so here is one of my granddaughter at an archery contest.

Olivia waiting to shoot. This is her first year of archery at her school and has continually improved at each event.

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

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Let's Go Exploring; 13 Reservations Made

Location: Heart of Haynesville RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

I've been back at my home base for about 2 1/2 weeks. During that time, I've visited with family, had doctor check-ups, went on a couple of semi-dates with my X-wife and did a little work on Liberty. But, this time of year is the best traveling/exploring time for me because school is still in session and very few families are taking vacations right now. The weather suits me just right with highs in 50's/60's and low's in the 30's/40's. So, all I needed to do was pick a place to explore. 

I'm not looking for a long haul trip right now. That may happen in late spring so I can escape the heat of the summer. I decided to explore the Arkansas River from where it empties into the Mississippi River up to Fort Smith, Arkansas where it leaves Arkansas and enters Oklahoma. I've camped along the river at Little Rock and Russellville, but I never really explored it. 

With that in mind, I set to work planning my trip. It took about a week to finalize everything including reservations at all of the campgrounds on this large circular trip. I used my usual programs of RVParky for trip planning/organization, Allstays for potential campground locations, and Google Earth for campground and campsite final selection. I think I have chosen some great campgrounds and campsites with wonderful views and close-by exploration locations. Of the 13 campgrounds, 11 are Corps of Engineers, 1 is a National Park Service campground and 1 is an Arkansas State Park. The trip will last 40 days and Liberty will be towed about 1,100 miles. The average daily cost for a campsite will be about $13.75 which is only about $0.50 per day more than my monthly rate at my current base camp RV park. The average distance been campgrounds is about 80 miles which suits me fine. The check-in times are mostly in the middle of the afternoon and with such a short tow, I'll have to make adjustments about hitching up and leaving a campground. After thinking about, it generally makes the travel day an exploration day. No more long hauls for me (he said, with fingers crossed). I'm completely satisfied with the cost, time and location of the trip.

This is the screen shot of RV Parky showing my route and campground locations. 

The trip begins on February 20th which is the end the ending date of my current monthly rent. Even after sitting for a month, it will only take me a leisurely day to get ready to hitch up and move so I'll use the rest of the time before the trip begins to do some research about places to see and things to do. If ya'll know of anything special to see in that area, just let me know. Research is one of the overlooked things in trip planning. 

Oh well, maybe this will be the pattern of my new travel style. Travel for a month or two then return to base camp for a month or two and repeat. I can live with that.

A nice sunrise from a couple of days ago.

A so-so sunset while looking out Liberty's door. 

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