Friday, September 12, 2008

Our 2008 Southwest Trip, Sep.-Dec.

This will be about our trip to the Southwest from September 3rd until about December 15th, 2008.

September 3, 2008. Wednesday.

Hurricane Gustav finally passed into the Louisiana/Mississippi area. Now we have Tropical Storms Hanna, Ivy & Josephine heading towards Florida. First we were waiting for Gustav to decide where to go. Now Hanna is heading in our general direction. Carol had a doctors appointment at 10:15. She’s so proud of herself. She weighed 126# fully dressed and after breakfast!! I had a lunch appointment with Chuck & Carl; friends from my Harbor Federal days. I got home about 1:00. Since Hanna had stalled near Cuba, we decided to get started before she got much closer to us. Left Fort Pierce at 1:55pm. We got to Georgia about 7:30 and decided to stop at the Georgia Welcome Center to get some sleep. On the road about 7:00am the next morning. While passing through the Atlanta area we stopped at an Atlanta Bread Store. Carol wanted some of their great cookies to celebrate her weight loss.  The next day, Thursday the 4th, we spent the night at the John Tanner State Park near Carrollton, GA. There is a large, clear water lake right near the campground that has a paved path all around it. We all enjoyed two nice walks. Gopher enjoyed swimming as usual. Must feel good on a warm day and after a long drive.

September 5, 2008

Left about 8:00am. Drove to the Whitten Campground; a Corps of Engineers Facility on the Tennessee-Tombigbee(Tenn-Tom) Waterway near Fulton/Tupelo, MS. The drive over was enjoyable. Off the interstates for a change on Highway 78 going through Birmingham to Memphis, TN. The campground is very nice. Paved roads, water/electric and a small swimming beach. We have a site right on the water. Enjoyed a mostly suny day walking and looking at the river. The people across from us are from Mississippi. On the way here from where they live to the south, the southbound side of the highway was very heavy with people heading back to Louisiana from the Hurricane Gustav evacuation. They said the news reported I-10 west to also be very busy with traffic. Glad we decided to come this way instead of the usual I-10 route. The weather report indicates Hurricane Ike will likely head into the Gulf of Mexico. A relief for us.

September 6, 2008

Left the campground about 8:00am heading for North Little Rock, AR. Drove through Memphis, TN, the location of the Elvis Presley house Graceland. Stayed the night at a city park, Burns Park, in North Little Rock . A nice place. There is a golf course, soccer fields, tennis courts, etc. When we went into the park the office was closed. A sign said to pick a spot and someone would be around to collect the $16 fee. No one ever showed up and when we left in the morning the office was still closed.

September 7 & 8

Continued west. Stopped at Lake Dardanelle State Park near Russellville, AR. On the Arkansas River. Stayed two nights. The campground has a visitor center with an aquarium with fish from the river. Lots of nice paved paths for Carols scooter. Our campsite is right on the lake. Pretty view. The people camping next to us are from the New Orleans area. They came up here escaping Hurricane Gustav. Now they’re staying here while they see where Hurricane Ike is going. Right now, it looks like it’s heading to the Louisiana coast. According to the local paper, thousands of the evacuees stayed at a military base in Fort Smith, AR, about an hour west of where we are now. They finally left on Saturday. Depending on Ike, they may be coming back. Hope not.

September 9
Drove to Fort Smith, AR, the only town of any size around here, to go grocery shopping. Plus stop at Panera Bread. Carol really likes their cookies. Last night Carol went through the different cookbooks we brought with us looking for different dinner ideas. Got the ingredients for veggie pizza & a Mexican dish. We had the pizza for dinner tonight and it was just wonderful. Stopped at the OK welcome center and got lots of useful information about OK.
Our destination for the day was the Corps of Engineers campground, Applegate Cove, on the Robert S. Kerr Reservoir on the Arkansas River south of Sallisaw, OK. The directions said to go south on Hwy 59 and follow the signs. We saw no signs. After going further than I knew was necessary, we turned around. Finally saw a C.O.E. sign pointing to the engineering office. Went in and asked for directions saying I saw no signs. The lady agreed there were no signs and directed me to the campground which was only two miles away. She said this happens all the time and just shrugged her shoulders. Oh well. The campground was OK. Right on the reservoir. Nice for the fisherman.

September 10,11

The plan was to spend the night at the city campground in El Reno, OK. The weather turned very wet. Rained most of these three days. Instead of stopping to visit towns here & there along the route, we mostly just drove west. We saw the cheapest gas on our trip so far. $3.41 in Shawnee, OK. We had just filled up Wal-Mart for $3.45. When we got to El Reno, the city campground was closed because the road was being repaired. Stopped at a very nice park to let Gopher run around for a while. It was raining but she needs to get out all the same. We went to the Lucky Star Casino and spent the night in the parking lot. Water, electric & sewer hookup. All for free, Can’t beat that. We had dinner in the casino. Carol had chicken fried steak; I had an Indian taco. Both very good meals. After I walked Gopher in the morning, when we got back into the camper, Carol was fully dressed and drinking her morning juice. She was so proud of having done that all by herself. Getting better day by day. I think one of the reasons we both enjoy traveling so much is Carols ability to do so much for herself in the confines of the small camper. Seems much easier than at home.
We continued West driving in moderate to heavy rain. Spend the night on the 11th at the Ute Lake State Park near Logan, NM. New Mexico sells an annual camping pass for $225. The pass entitles you to “free” camping at any of the State Parks. The typical rate is $10/night. Since we’ll be here for a few months, it should pay off. We need to stay 23 nights for it to pay off. We’ll see. Our campsite at Ute Lake is right on the water. It’s only us and four others in the entire park. Still raining. Rained all day and the rain is supposed to continue through the weekend courtesy of Hurricane Ike.

September 12

Left the campground and took a drive through Santa Rosa along a part of the old Route 66. Route 66, aka The Mother Road, runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. It was the first cross country highway. Built in the early to mid-30’s. Saw some of the original motels & one restaurant. Did laundry. While in Santa Rosa, we saw two men selling roasted chilies. They had several large bags of green chilies and a large rotating drum over a fire. The chilies went in green and came out red. Wish I knew what to do with them. I would have bought some. Spent the night in the Santa Rosa Lake SP north of Santa Rosa. Parked on a dirt road leading to the water for most of the day, then went to the campground in the early evening. Another time change. We’re now two hours earlier then at home.