Monday, April 28, 2014

4/23 Big Bone Lick State Park, KY

I chose this place to stay a couple of days because it was not too far off I-75 and had electric service and open space for my satellite.  It also sounded a bit interesting, and I like anything with a museum. The history of this place is that there was a creek flowing through a broad valley where salt from an ancient ocean was seeping to the surface, creating a "lick" for animals.  Over thousands of years, animals came and sometimes got trapped in the soggy ground and died. 

In the 1800s, as the area was settled, people noticed the large bones appearing out of the soil as it eroded after rains.  It also had some important visitors:

 
The museum is very small, but it did have a few nice specimens.  Almost all of the many bones removed from this site over the decades are in other museums.

There also was a display outside.  I did not take the hiking trail because it was a mile long, and I had other things to do.


Nice part was seeing that the violets were in bloom! 

 
Back at the campground, I stopped at the old root cellar near the entrance station.  Very interesting place and an efficient way to keep food cold in the days before refrigeration.



 I was reminded that the modern home I stayed in when I was an exchange student to the Netherlands long ago also had a root cellar, although they had a refrigerator  in the kitchen, too.  The cellar there had sand/earthen walls, and the Dutch family kept canned fruits and cheese down there.  I was always amazed at how clean it was without insects or cobwebs.  Like this old one, the temperature was always about 55 degrees.

Monday, April 21, 2014

4/17 Lake Lanier, GA

Another Corps of Engineering campground on a lake--well, nearly all COE campgrounds are on lakes because lakes, canals, and dams are what this organization does.  What is nice is that almost all of these federal projects result in recreation areas and campgrounds.  And RVers like me like the campgrounds because they are nearly all very well maintained and half-price for us old folks!

I had reserved an excellent open site where I could see the lake and also get satellite TV service, one of my personal requirements so I don't miss my favorite shows while "roughing it."  My site is shown here.  What was really nice was that it was high and faced both sides of the long peninsula on which it was situation, so I had excellent views.

The first three photos show the right side of my view. 

 

This shows the left side of my view and the road going out to several more campsites.

 
This cute little guy is the first Eastern bluebird I have ever seen!  He sat on the numbered campsite post for a while.  Then he sat on my left mirror and finally on my windshield wiper and looked in, but was too fast for me to get a photo.  Isn't he gorgeous?  I could not believe how blue he was.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

4/12 West Point Lake, GA

This is a Corps of Engineering dammed up lake, right on the border of Alabama and Georgia.  It was warm and sunny today, so after I got here, I went for a long bike ride around the campground and over to the dam.
 
This is only a one-day campsite because my reservations do not start until tomorrow.  Thus it is very shaded, which means so satellite TV.  Poor cell data service, also, but I am managing.  Just very slow.  I will move tomorrow to a site that is more open and on the lake directly. I can see the lake from here, but just through the trees. 
 
There are Corps of Engineering campgrounds almost everywhere, except in Michigan, of course.  Seniors like them because there is no entrance fee with a Federal Senior National Parks pass, and campsites nearly always have electric and water, and most importantly, are half-price for us!  I like them because they are very well maintained, compared to the state parks in some places. 
 
The dogwood are out in bloom so the woods smells incredibly nice!  I think the honeysuckle is coming out also, but you can barely see the flowers.  Will have to get photos another day.  


This is a very big lake.  I was happy I could ride my bike over the dam.  You can take cars over, but is it very narrow in places.  


On the other side of the dam, you can drive right up to the powerhouse to take photos. 

I also discovered a very nice picnic area down from the dam.  This is a duck pond, but there were a lot of shady picnic areas, and being Saturday, there were a lot of families.

And back home I go. 

 
More photos in a couple of days.

4/11 Why It Takes Me So Long to Get Somewhere

Some of my friends wonder why I try to drive no more than 225 miles per day.  The biggest reason is that it is tiring to drive a large motorhome because you have to keep both hands on the wheel and continually adjust for things like wind and passing trucks that cause you to sway and move. 

The other is that I do a LOT of stopping.  I’ll use today’s drive as an example:

-         9:00 a.m.   Unhooked and left camp site after being swarmed by hundreds of tiny insects.  Some people around here call them gnats and others call them no-see-ums.  Don’t know what they really are, but they are tiny and they bite!  Need to drive 228 miles today to arrive at Lake Sherling Campground, just southwest of Montgomery, AL. 

-       9:20 a.m.   Left campground after dumping both tanks, while swatting.  Should have worn long sleeves but bugs were not bad yesterday.  Walked over to ask for directions to get propane refill. (15 minute stop)

-        9:35 a.m.   Made it a mile down the road to a nearby gas station to get my propane tank filled.  It is under the side of the rig, just behind the passenger door.  Attendant had trouble getting the hose screwed onto the fitting, so he had to get help.  Took the third guy to correctly screw it on and fill tank. Luckily bugs were not too bad here. Did not buy gas here because their prices were too high.  (15 minute stop)

-         10:30 a.m.   Made it 40 miles to a Home Depot parking lot where I could use my bathroom.  Also, turned on generator and heated up a breakfast sandwich in the microwave and got a Dr. Pepper for the road.  (7 minute stop)

-       11:30 p.m.   Had to pull off again to use the bathroom.  (I know, I know.)  Have driven 105 miles so far.  (4 minute stop)

-       Noon   Stopped at an Alabama Welcome Center because I did not have an Alabama map.  Picked up a new one and had a long chat with the lady at the desk about Dauphin Island, along the coast, and the Audubon Society Sanctuary there.  She had noticed my t-shirt from the Corkscrew Sanctuary in Florida so she thought I might be interested in the hummingbird banding that was going on that day.  She gave me several brochures on that part of Alabama because I told her I would be driving through again in early November and that looked like an interesting place.  Got a bottle of water from my refrigerator and headed back onto the freeway.  (25 minute stop)

-         2:05 p.m.   So far have driven 180 miles.  Pulled into a rest area to use my bathroom, grab some leftover chicken and another bottle of water for a late lunch.  Got my laptop out to decide if I should stay one night or two at the next stop.  Decided that since there were a lot of walk-in sites at West Point Lake, which is where I have reservations for Sunday and Monday, I would stay only one night at Lake Sherling.  (Eating lunch and going online took 50 minutes)

-        3:10 p.m.  Low on gas, so I got off the expressway again and put in as much gas as my debit card would allow, which was $97.  Visa and debit cards all have limits on a single gas transaction, so I can never quite fill up my 55 gallon tank.  It is irritating because it means I have to stop more often.  Have 40 miles to go.  (10 minute stop)

-       4:00 p.m.  Made it to Lake Sherling Campground.  Whew! 
Another point is that even on expressways, I only drive 60-65 MPH, sometimes less if heavy winds.  In addition, I often stop for groceries between campgrounds, because it is too much trouble to run out for something once I am there.  It IS nice, however, to pull over to use the bathroom, get something to drink and eat without having to find a restaurant.  I could even take a nap in a rest area if I wanted to.  Most people who are retired like me are really not in a hurry to get somewhere and a lot of people have pets to walk and feed on the road. 

Also, both today and yesterday, I drove through a lot of swamps on I-10 and then today on I-65.  Here is what they do to raise the expressway. Looks like you could fish off the highway. 

One section in Louisiana was 15 miles long!  I think there was one exit, but you can see how narrow the shoulders are.  Don't know what they do in case of an accident.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

4/10 Buccaneer State Park, Waveland, MS

This state park is right along the Gulf of Mexico and directly across the road from the gulf.  Being only maybe 50 miles east of New Orleans, it was pretty beat up by Hurricane Katrina, as you can see from the few trees left standing.


They have just finished the last rebuilding of the park this past fall.  All the important stuff, like offices, rest rooms, and electrical transformers are up on cement posts to keep them away from water in the next hurricane.  This is the office and entrance building. 


This is the gulf, directly across the street from the state park.  You can sit on the breakwall here and fish!  In fact, yesterday, when I went out driving in my motorhome, I had to be careful to avoid fishing poles laying across the top of the breakwall. 



Heading toward town, this is a rebuilt fishing pier. This one was private.

Here you can see some of the destroyed piers that were not rebuilt.
 
This is the town of Bay St. Louie, which is right next to and indistinguishable from Waveland.  Both are small towns and not very busy this time of year.
 
 

Almost all of the homes along the gulf are new and are on cement piers.  It makes them look bigger than they really are.  At least being up so high gives them fantastic views!  

This church was also facing the gulf and up on piers.  Never have seen a walk-under church before, but there were a couple more along the road.  

A couple of other nice homes along the gulf.
 
 

When I got closer to town, there was a nice, new bike path/sidewalk which made it safer and more pleasant to ride.
 
Cute little town with some old buildings that obviously survived the hurricane.  A lot of them were antique or gift shops.


After I rode around the main street part of town, I rode around a lot of the little residential back roads.  There were some cute houses back there.



This is a bout a half-mile from town, and very pleasant place to ride. 

 
I'm glad we have had a couple of warm and sunny days after several days in a row that were cloudy and rainy.  Tomorrow morning I head for a campground in Greenville, Alabama, and then onward to Georgia.  It is nice to be able to go slow and spend a day or so along the way so you really get to discover some of the more out-of-the-way places.  
 

Friday, April 4, 2014

4/4 Matagorda Nature Park, TX

It has been a very foggy and windy last couple of days and I was getting bored, so I was glad to start out this morning for my next stop.  First, however, I had found a car wash and was very anxious to get my motorhome washed.  It is really hard to find a car wash big enough to fit my rig inside without wiping anything off the roof.  This one had both front and back controls, wands, and brushes, which is nice, but a very few also have steps along the side so you can more easily get up high.  I am very short and too nervous to climb up the back ladder, so my roof never does get washed.

Takes a LOT of quarters, so I was happy that this one took Visa.  Usually it costs me about $20.


 
Today was not a good day for driving because the winds were 25-30 mph and I knew I would have a few bridges to cross.  It is really hard to keep control when the wind is hitting you on the side.  Here are some photos of the scariest bridges I crossed today.
 





It was a very stressful 181 miles, but at least the fog was gone and it was a beautiful sunny day when I arrived at Matagorda Nature Park.  I really had only accidently found this place when I made reservations a couple of months ago.  It is part of the Lower Colorado River Authority, which is a regional electric and water supply organization that serves central Texas, and no, it is not THAT Colorado River!  In any case, it is a very nice park, right on the river as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.  Very nice, paved, full hookups within a short walk to the gulf. 
 
 
 
 
I decided to take a short walk to see what was around, and it turned out to be a very long walk, but well worth it.  Once I got to the fishing pier, I could not resist walking out on it.  Did not have my beach shoes, so the beach walk will have to wait until tomorrow. 

This is a really nice beach--much wider and smoother than either Galveston or Mustang Island.




 
This area is surrounded by literally miles of coastal wetlands and marshes, so it is a prime bird area.  Will need to do more exploring tomorrow.