Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Driving’ category

Drive to Twin Falls, Idaho

Sunday, July 12, 2020

60 degrees in the morning, got up to 99 on the drive

I was able to schedule an oil change at Rob Green Buick GMC in Twin Falls on Monday, which is a 7-hour drive. I woke up ready to go and quickly packed up. As it goes in campgrounds, I got to talking to my neighbors as I was getting prepared.

On one side was a gentleman hooking up to go home. He was putting his ATV in the back of his camper. I always wondered what was in the back of that type of camper and commented. “Yeah, it’s better than pulling two trailers.” He is from Utah and had something about being a grandfather on his t-shirt. The grandkids like to rodeo and compete for their high schools, so he loves to go and watch and help out. They will be in college soon and will compete there. He had to get back to water his fields, saying it is tough moving those big watering pipes on wheels.

As I preparing the other side of the trailer, I noticed a 9 year old boy watching. He looked a lot like my buddy Josh. His mother and father are Dutch, but living and working in California right now. They were hooking up and going to Arches today, doing the canyons tour. A nice family, we had a good chat. As I returned to checking air pressure on the tires, the boy continued watching. I almost let him help before having a vision of an exploding tire.

I went up to say goodbye to Harry, owner of the campground. We hadn’t talked much, but he had been helpful on several counts. I don’t know how it works, but sometimes you just like someone. He practices perfect social distancing, and no doubt, running a campground can be risky in this environment. I shouted to the upper balcony, “Harry?” A head peaked above the railing. I thanked him for the nice campground, the great WIFI, the great TV and power for air conditioning.

Mostly, I said I loved watching Grit TV. He laughed and said he loves to watch it too. He said the reason they get 21 stations is there is a big digital TV tower just up the road. He asked where I was headed, and I said I was going to Stanley, Idaho to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. “I used to guide there. Did it for 20 years. Who are you going with?” I told him Steve Zettel and the Idaho Wilderness Company. “Steve Zettel saved me one time”, he said. He was in the big, heavy provision raft and got stuck in the middle of the river. He said he would still be there if Steve hadn’t come along and helped. They both had a “come along”, a unique ratchet-operated wench, and they were finally able to get the raft out. He said he is very grateful to Steve, but Steve probably wouldn’t remember him, as there are so many companies and guides.

Harry said it was tough work, and he was one of those guys who had to do everything himself, not depending on others to help as much as he should have. His body finally just couldn’t take it any more. Mostly, his back gave him trouble. He said running a campground is different, but has its own challenges. I knew I liked this guy for some reason. Now I knew. I thanked him very much, and hope to camp there again.

I finally got on the road at 9:00 heading west then north on 24, a beautiful drive. In this area, you could just drive Rt. 12 and 24, and I didn’t drive 12. So many things I have missed! Then up interstate 15, which is also beautiful across a very high plateau/mountain area with beautiful farms and long views. A sign warned of deer herd migrations. What!


The speed limit is 80 on this road. A red Corvette with the top down passed me doing more 😊. Another sign warned of dangerous dust storms. “Do not stop in the road during a dust storm”. Down the mountain and into the valley, there is a long approach to Provo and Salt Lake City. Traffic got heavier and more crazy even though it was Sunday. A hot Sunday at 98 degrees, there was still snow on one of the mountains to my east. Dan wanted to tell me the way around all this, but it didn’t seem urgent at the time. My strategy is to get behind a good driver of a tractor-trailer, and that’s what I did. Still, you have to leave stopping distance, which just gives the crazies room to switch lanes. I’d hate to be here Monday morning.

Finally getting north of all that, I got on I84 west. It was much prettier here. I passed Snowville, elevation 4,547, population 172. Descending the mountain, I entered Idaho, soon crossing the Snake River, one of the great American rivers. There is tremendous irrigation leading into Twin Falls, and the river splits into many parts, leading to very green, productive fields.

By 4:30 I entered Twin Falls, population @ 50,000. I had looked at three highly-rated campgrounds, but they were booked on a Sunday night, so I had called Rock Creek RV Park yesterday. Campground host, Ron, said it is first come, first serve, but he thought there would be room. It wasn’t full on Saturday night, so that’s a good sign. Still, I was tired and not sure what I would do if they were full. There’s always Walmart, but it was 94 degrees. I didn’t even know if they had hookups, but I didn’t care right now.

The park sits in a little bottom area in the middle of town in an oasis along Rock Creek. Creeping down the winding road into the park, I saw a couple of empty spaces. there was no office, so I drove slowly in. The campground host’s huge, beautiful motor home sat in the middle. There was an instruction board with envelopes: select a site, fill out the form, put your money in and insert it in the post slot.

I pulled forward, opening the window, and Ron approached the truck. He, his wife and another couple sat in the grassy shade next to their trailer. there are no showers, but vault toilets and full hookups for $20/night 😊. Driving down the road, I saw an empty spot next to two other Airstreams, so I pulled in, set up, fixed dinner, a bourbon, put up the tv antenna and found Grit TV. My new neighbors were out, but I was content.

Rock Creek RV Park

I walked the envelope back up to the post and talked with Ron and his friends. They were quite nice, telling me all about Twin Falls and what to do. It’s a beautiful, swift creek running through the park. Some say there are sturgeon in it, like the Snake River. Ron’s friend told me to go back behind the Costco, and there is a kayak rental company for the Snake River. They also suggested Shoshone Falls, which I had already intended to see. They pronounced it “show shown”. I signed up for two nights, since I didn’t know what might happen with the truck tomorrow, and there were things I wanted to see. I also needed three days worth of food before the Middle Fork trip. I need a fishing license, and I need to go through the recommended packing list for the trip. It’s $2350 for the trip plus tips for the guides, but I am going to be very happy to have them do all the work while I just go along for the ride. I’m getting excited!

The Loneliest Road from Mt. Vernon, Kansas to Gunnison, Colorado

July 1, 2020

It was going to be a long day. I was supposed to make Dodge City yesterday, but I didn’t. Love my Mt Vernon Corps of Engineering campground though. With all the hookups, nice staff, lots of distance between sites, nice facilities it goes on my favorite campgrounds list. I got off a little later than planned at 6:30. Technology can drive you crazy! I had chosen the route on Google Maps and sent it to my phone as a message so I could easily find it. I pushed the link and off I went, but I soon realized it was not taking me on Rt. 50. Losing 10 minutes may not be a big deal, but it was irritating. 

Back on 50, I found Kansas to be beautiful, with lush, black dirt farmland. As Carla told me, Kansas isn’t flat. She is my shuttle driver for the Middle Fork trip, who once rode a bicycle from Idaho to Virginia Beach. She said Kansas was rolling hills, but she made 150 miles a day in Kansas!

Early on, there was a strange, gray, low-hanging cloud. I asked Siri if there was Saharan dust in Kansas, and I was surprised to hear there was. It’s a weird world these days. I stopped to see one of many markers about the Santa Fe Trail. At this spot, it was crossed by the Chisholm Trail used to drive cattle from Texas to Wyoming. Haven’t you seen Lonesome Dove?

I stopped again to find Pawnee Rock, a rocky outcrop rising above the plains with great views. There were very few fights with the Pawnee, but all were within 25 miles of this spot. 

I knew I was in trouble when I didn’t get to Dodge City until noon. From here I had another 7 1/2 hours to go. Most of the time traveling Rt. 50, you just drive through small towns. I made the mistake of driving through Dodge City (pop. 27,000). I was hesitant to use GPS because it wanted to take me on a different route, mostly putting me on I70, which isn’t far to the north. I70 is not doubt a nice interstate, but 50 is a more pleasant drive…..if you have the time. There is lots of history and interesting little towns of mid-America. But now I needed to just go. 4th of July is coming, when there is madness.

As the day wore on, I passed some big oil fields with rail cars ready for transport. I had seen small pumping wells in the middle of crop fields, but this was serious. The further west I went, the drier it got. There was more irrigation, and the land was not so lush. Houses became more modest, progressing to really poor shacks on terrible land with no water. 

The route follows the Arkansas River, but it doesn’t look like much for most of the drive. I crossed into Colorado about 4:15. Now it was dry sagebrush with mesas and dry washes, more like the west we are used to seeing on TV. Dodge City seems to mark the start of the west as I think of it. 

You know you are in big farm land when you get truck window wash poles – nice!

I stopped for gas in Lamar, and talked to a nice man filling his dump truck with diesel. Was he Native American? He said it was very dry, with no snows in the winter and very little rain this year. It was hot, very hot, and very humid. I was sweating just from standing out there for 10 minutes.

I made Pueblo (pop 112,000) at rush hour. After driving through sparsely populated areas for many miles, I was surprised to find a big city with clogged traffic. Finally getting through, it was a straight shot to the big mountains ahead. After Canyon City, the road follows the Arkansas River. This is one of the prettiest stretches of highway I have ever driven. It is a beautiful river, perfect for fishing, rafting, kayaking, tubing or just looking. I wanted to stop at every bend to take pictures, but there was no time. The sun was getting low now, making perfect light for photography. Being so easily accessible, there are plenty of homes, cabins, campgrounds, rafting companies, restaurants and bars, but I did not see one person on the river. I’m sure it was different earlier in the day and surely will be over the coming, long weekend. 

I wanted to stay here a week or two, or maybe a month, fishing and kayaking. I could have found a spot for the night, but I decided to press on. As Rt. 50 turns away from the Arkansas at Salinas, it climbs a winding route over a big mountain, Monarch Pass at 11,310′. Then a steep, winding route down the other side. This is why I bought a GMC 3500 diesel. It just makes this difficult job look easy. I patted the dashboard in gratitude and appreciation.

I had read about a small stream that follows 50 west of Monarch Pass, so I kept my eye on it. It is one of those streams people ignore, but I’d like to give it a try. I followed a tractor-trailer down. The sun would sink below a mountain, but on the next turn it was right in your face, making it hard to see. This guy has driven this road a lot. He knew where every curve was, and he was a very good driver. It is a beautiful valley, and much greener on this side. 

Driving through Salida, it was an hour more to Gunnison. I was going to get groceries in Salida, but there was no way I was stopping now. Then along Blue Mesa Reservoir, I looked for Elk Creek Campground. The signs are brown, not a great color to read in the almost dark conditions. I put the GPS back on, hoping it would take me to the right spot. At 8:30, I pulled into the campground. Trying to find Loop A, I couldn’t see the signs and went past it. Backing up to turn around when you are really tired isn’t a good thing, but I made it, then found my spot, slowly, carefully, backing into the site. A few wiggles and I quit. It was 8:45 and fairly dark, but there was a big moon. A guy across from me played his guitar and sang in a low voice. Campfires and conversations were to the right of me. I could see the reservoir surrounded by mountains, but I just wanted a drink and to go to sleep. In three days I had driven 1875 miles, 700 today.

Prince Edward Island

Monday, September 9, 2019

Sitting in Peaceful River Campground in Nova Scotia, we tried to evaluate our options to visit Prince Edward Island. Hurricane Dorian has knocked out power for 80% of Nova Scotia and probably PEI. We knew the provincial and national parks were closed until further notice, but we are here and didn’t know when we might be back this way.

We called the ferry for an 11:15 ferry, but the only ones that take trailers are the 8:00 and 5:00. After some debate about whether to go or not, we decided to drive. It was a calm, beautiful day, so hopefully the 12 km bridge would be open.

We packed up and walked over to say goodbye to Ralph and Mary, but they weren’t there. No one was at the office either. Someone said they went to pick up Don’s wife at the hospital. We left a note thanking them for their great hospitality in the middle of a hurricane.

It was about a 2-hr drive to the bridge, but longer because the GMC GPS took us down some crazy roads ……AGAIN! Trees were still down and crews were working hard to clear them. We stopped at a gas station to refill and eat lunch, but it was without power. We had a half tank, so we were OK, but a couple with a European license tag came up to ask if the pumps were working. They had an eighth of a tank left. Lots of cars, RV’s and tractor-trailers came in and left. Back on the road, I searched diesel gas stations on the truck GPS, one thing it does well. There were 3 stations in 15 km in Amherst. Fortunately they had both power and fuel.

Finally at the bridge, all the traffic was coming off the island and not much going on. We guessed they had been unable to leave until today, since the bridge had been closed due to high winds. I’m not crazy about driving across bridges, especially high ones, but this one is OK. It is nicely paved and the lanes are generous with paved shoulders. With no one behind me, I could take my time, going the speed limit of 80 km/hr. The water of Northumberland Straight was a beautiful blue with Prince Edward Island in the distance.

On the other side, we stopped at the visitor’s center. People were lined up at the desk with very patient attendants rebooking or trying to find places for people to stay. Once we got to the young attendant, she showed us a website by the power company. Little green triangles covered the island, indicating power outages. I think the visitor’s center might have been working off a generator as only some of the lights weren’t on. 


The National Park campground was closed for the season, and all the provincial parks were closed until further notice. Stores and restaurants all around the visitor’s center were closed. She suggested a couple of private campgrounds that were open. When we thought we were taking the ferry across, I had contacted a campground on the east end, Points East Campground. Tanya said they had power, water and vacancies. I messaged her we were on our way, maybe arriving about 5:00, and she said “Great”. We might as well start east and work our way off the island, but that meant another two hours of driving.

We set the Garmin GPS for the campground and headed out. Traveling the TCH at 90 km/hr was easy going until it told us to turn left. As we turned, the road was blocked by a downed tree and crews cleaning it up. A big SUV pulled up next to me with his window down, so I rolled mine down. He was a policeman. “Welcome to PEI”, he said with a big smile on his face. “Following your GPS was ya?” I nodded with a grin. “Well turn around and get back on the TCH.” That brought me laughs several times during the rest of the drive – “Following your GPS was ya?” Damned things drive me crazy, yet couldn’t manage without them.

It’s a beautiful drive across the middle of PEI. Albemarle County, where we live,  was once pretty with beautiful farms, but PEI is much prettier. Beautiful farms with green grass, grain fields, corn, gorgeous hay and straw fields border the road as far as you can see on rolling hillsides. You could spend your day just taking pictures.

When we came to the turn to the campground, the road was blocked with a sign saying “Bridge Out”. We were sitting there in the middle of the road pondering the options when a lady in a pickup said we could get to the campground. “It’s just a short bridge.” Now what that meant, I have no idea, but we turned, and sure enough came to the campground. Tanya met us and checked us in, giving us lots of options for campsites and local information. She told us about the docks down the road, where a tuna fisherman has a small, very good restaurant. There is a man up the road who sells farm eggs. There is a view of North Lake at the bottom of the hill. The trans-Canada trail runs the length of the island, which is a rails-to-trails here.


We settled in, built a fire to grill scallops and corn. I said hi to our neighbor, a young man in his late 20’s I guessed. Chris came over to chat. He is a plumber from Ontario on holiday, telling us his adventures of finding this place. He, his father and brothers are going tuna fishing tomorrow. A bit later we went over to say hi to his wife, Debbie. She was cooking mussels on a Coleman gas stove, while Chris was boiling water on another gas stove. Music was playing from a boom box in an entertainment center on the side of the trailer. They bought three cooked lobsters at the docks. They were in holding tanks, but when the docks lost power, they had to cook them. What a feast!


Move to Battery Provincial Park

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Poor Martha was tired from the long trip yesterday, but we have a 3.5 hour drive to get closer to the Ferry to the 11:45 Newfoundland tomorrow. Still groggy with Jet-lag, Martha went for a walk around the park. After I straightened up and got ready to travel, I walked down to the point. 

Grand Lake is quite pretty. A person on a paddle board was getting their exercise this morning. It is so quiet and peaceful in Laurie Provincial Park, and they keep it very nice. Still, I marvel at humans who will throw their trash over the fence in a place so pretty. 


l hooked up while Martha took a shower. Seeing the campground host doing his morning surveillance walk, I went over to thank him for the great care they take of this park. He said they are all volunteers, and they love it. “You must be from the States”, he said. Asking why, he said, “Because you have an Airstream”.


Stopping along the Trans-Canada Highway for a break, where you can gas up, visit the information centre (a cubbyhole), get lunch and an ice cream.

It’s a pretty drive to Battery Provincial Park, but we had both had enough by the time we got there. Driving in, there were picnic tables near the water and up the hill in the shade, all perfectly-kept. this is a lock system where boats can enter the huge lake, Bras d’Or. 

You always wonder about the next campground, especially when the last one was so nice. We entered the little office and checked in with Jerry. With a cheery face, he excused himself and went out on the back porch. He returned to finish checking us in. I had chosen site #4 from the internet, but you never know what it is really like. Jerry suggested driving around the loop, pointing out site 34, saying it was higher with a better view. Then he said he would be right back. 

Martha asked what he was doing, and he said, “Cooking trout”. He came back into the tiny office with a plateful of grilled trout. then he said, “Take one” , offering us a plate. are you kidding me?!! A friend of his stepped out of a room in the back and said he would bring more. 


A couple walked in to register and looked at us devouring this delicious trout. Perhaps our luck has turned. Never, never, never have I walked into a campground office and met anyone like Jerry – soft-spoken, understated and with a face like Santa. He changed our mood instantly. 

Jerry was busy registering the new guests, giving them similar options. Martha walked behind the desk to return the plate when Jerry said, “Can you turn them?” She went out the screen door and I quickly followed. There was a gas grill on a small deck. He had a cast iron skillet with butter with two trout cooking. Martha flipped them. As we walked back through, with a smile Jerry said, “Thanks”.


He was still talking to the new guests when we waved and said thanks. As I got outside I knew that just wasn’t enough, so I turned around and loudly said, “I love you Jerry!” A voice returns from behind the screen door, “You’re not too bad yourself”.

We passed site $4, which was OK, but a bit crowded. All the sites have a view of the water as you climb the hill, but as he said, site #34 was better, so that’s where we went, calling the office after we got set up. A lady answered and was a bit confused. I could hear Jerry in the background telling her it was OK. 

It started to rain as we set up, but we got some lunch and settled in. We drove into the little town and picked up a few things including a cooked lobster. Sadly, lobster season is now over, so we wanted one while we could get it. It was $21. A man in line behind us said you can get them off the boat for $7. We felt like stupid touristas, but then he said, “It will be good though”.

We had a nice dinner of lobster, baked potatoes and peas and reviewed the route for tomorrow. We did NOT want to miss that ferry, as we were booked in campgrounds for the next month. It rained hard all night with no leaks 😊


On to Canada

Saturday, July 13, 2019

It cooled off in the night, so I got a good night’s sleep. Anxious to get on the road, I made coffee, ate some cereal, hooked up and set the GPS for Laurie Provincial Park near Halifax, a nine-hour drive. Well, it couldn’t find Laurie, so I set it for Halifax. I have three GPS units, the GMC one in the truck that is sometimes possessed, a Garmin I recently added and my phone and it’s Google Maps. 

I wasn’t going to use the possessed GMC, and I didn’t want to burn phone data for nine hours, so I set the Garmin. It said 11 hours, but it had me starting in the right direction. I could check it later. Two hours later I pulled over to find out why I wasn’t getting on I95N. Google Maps gave me a different route, and it was still nine hours to get there. #@*&#!

I traveled some back roads to get back on course. It was pretty, but I was in no mood to enjoy it. Finally I got back on I95 and relaxed a bit. When it said to turn in 100 miles, I turned it off, and then back on when I got close to that mark.

I was still four hours away when I exited onto 1A in a long line of traffic. Was I close to the border?? I got out of line and went the other direction to a Lowe’s parking lot, getting rid of fruits, vegetables and lunch meats. I neatly stacked firewood in the grass. Someone would surely pick it up. 

Getting back on course in the long line of traffic, Google tells me to turn left on some small road. Do I trust it? Shall I ignore it? I have found it best to make my travel plan on the computer, then send it to the phone. Then you are sure, and this is what I did. Was it changing because of all the traffic? A few turns later I got onto Rt. 9 that crosses Maine. It’s a beautiful road with little traffic. Several times I wanted to stop and take some pictures, especially when I got to Moosehorn National Wildlife Preserve, but there were miles to go and lots of work to do.

On my two dashboard GPS’s I saw I was paralleling the Canadian border. I prepared myself for the now-familiar questions: “Where are you going? How long are you staying? Where are you staying? Do you have any alcohol, fruits or vegetables? Any firearms, firewood? I think I’m ready, but it makes me nervous. 

I came to the border at Calais, Maine. This state likes to name places after other famous world places. It wasn’t busy at all. As I waited for one car ahead of me, two agents walked down the side of the truck and trailer, eyeing my toolbox. I had unlocked it and meant to open everything, but never had an opportunity. The officer in the booth motioned me forward and started all the questions. 

He asked, “Where are you from?” I said Keswick, Virginia. “But your license tag says Texas.” I smiled, saying I have been getting that question everywhere. The Virginia tag has a big TX on it, which I think means truck, xtra large. He sang, “That’s right I’m not from Texas.” Immediately I recognized the take-off from one of my favorite artists, Lyle Lovett. I smiled as he resumed the questions. “Any mace or spray?” “Shoot” I said, “I had some bear spray, but I’m pretty sure I took it out.” He motioned me on. At first I thought it might be to the search party ahead, but there was none. I crept forward until I was clear. Then I remembered the last time I came across. I had thrown out a bear spray, and the nice lady said, “Oh you can bring it as long as it is clearly labeled.”

Rt 1A, the Trans-Canada Highway, is a beautiful road here. There was so little traffic, I began wondering what the reasons might be. Was it the economy, the price of gas or that it was Saturday? I passed the turn to St. Andrews, where we had stayed at beautiful Kiwanis Oceanfront Camping, but it was too far out of the way.

I was running out of energy later and knew I would not make it to the Park. I found a reasonable place on the Garmin, but it was 10km away and would take an hour and 15 minutes to get there! I called the campground, but my phone didn’t work. I had been texting Martha. Why wasn’t the phone working?  It wasn’t until later I realized Canada does not have daylight savings time, so it was really an hour later, and I had to turn roaming on.

I finally found a KOA and pulled in. I got the special “walk up” fee, but didn’t complain. It was Saturday and the place was hopping. They had a drive-in movie theater feature that night and a dance. “Will you be joining us for the dance?” “No, I think I will be asleep then. I have been driving all day.”

I pulled up to my spot and backed in. It was just one of those days that it happened to work. A gentleman next door watched, then turned to his friend and said, “Now that’s the way it’s done.” I smiled and said, “SOMETIMES it works out.”

A giant bouncy thing was across the driveway. Kids of all ages were bouncing and yelling. Others were riding bikes around the campground roads. Stuff was going on everywhere. It’s hard to get upset about kids having fun. 


The Covered Bridge

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Driving north for 4.5 hours put us in Pittsburg, New Hampshire. We drove through gorgeous country all day, but the more north we drove, the more remote it became. It started to look like Canada, and in fact, we ended up right on the border. 

We drove some back roads looking for the only fly shop in the area. It was a shack in the front of a house. No one was there. Now entering our destination, Lake Francis State Park, took us up rough, gravel roads. The GPS didn’t know we were pulling a trailer. We came to a covered bridge with a 3-ton limit. I stupidly drove across. The bridge took out my air conditioner and damaged the roof.

After checking into the campground, it took us two hours of cutting wires and sawing screws to get the busted unit off the Airstream. I was sick at my stomach for what I had done. Then we cleaned up the mess, cut out a piece of plastic from the top of the air conditioner and attached it over the hole with duct tape. The plastic skylight was also badly damaged, so we pushed it out the best we could and taped it.


I called National General Insurance, talking to a very nice lady in North Carolina, who took all the information. She told me Jaime would be calling me to get the details. My head was spinning, readjusting to the conditions. Curtis Jansen had a quote on his mirror at his house in California. It was from a book by Spencer Johnson about adapting to changing events in life. “You have to move with the cheese. The cheese moves.” It helped me in this terrible time. If I let myself focus on my stupidity and what happened to my beautiful Airstream, I just wanted to scream and throw up. I had to move with the cheese.

The closest Airstream dealer was in Lebanon, Maine, about four hours away. Kelly called Paul at Profile State Line Superstore. He was helpful and very nice, but said it would be three weeks before they could get to it. Head still spinning, I thought of Martha coming in less than a week for two months in Newfoundland. I just couldn’t compute. One step at a time. Fix the Airstream takes first priority. 

I called Martha and told her the story. She took it pretty well, but I knew she was sick too. We finally fixed a drink and tried to sort out what to do next. Move with the cheese.

Grueling Moving Day

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

With rain last night, stream conditions weren’t going to get any better, so we decided to move on a day early. Once we got on a main road, we would call Sleep Hollow Campground and see if we could get an extra day. We packed up, hooked up and headed out. With no cell service, we used the truck GPS to set the course for Phoenicia, New York. As we headed up the gravel road, I took a left turn. Kelly said we had come in from straight ahead, so I pulled over. It’s hard to turn a trailer around on a gravel, mountain road, but we probably could have done it in this spot. I was on the GPS route, and after some discussion, we opted to stay on it. Wrong decision! It was a long, curvy route up and over a mountain for 45 minutes until we finally found a narrow paved road. It was a pretty drive, but not what we were looking for, and we were low on fuel. Surely there would be a gas station somewhere. Wrong again.

By the time we got to the pretty town of Mifflinburg, the route took us right through downtown on a narrow, busy street. I wasn’t sure I could get the trailer through, but there were tractor trailers coming the other way – right through downtown! there were no gas stations still! We were headed toward I80, so there had to be something ahead, but there wasn’t. We got on the interstate figuring we would find a station at the next stop, but the interstate was blocked! It was shut down with two trucks with flashing lights blocking both lanes. We had to get off and go right back through town.

In a circuitous route, we finally found a crowded Sheetz station. There were only two diesel pumps and at one of them, a big truck was camped out with no nozzle in its tank. A passenger was walking his pit bull. Kelly went up and asked him to move, which he reluctantly did. I circled around the busy lot to get a straight shot to the tank while Kelly stood in the lane. 

Finally, we found our way back to I80 and it was open. Later we heard on the news there was a bomb threat. Could that have been the reason it was closed? We traveled east on 80 to I84 and then I87 past New York. These roads are in terrible condition! Ruts and jarring holes bounced the trailer around. Hitting a big bump and hole on a bridge, there was a loud bang. I thought we had broken a stabilizing bar, but we never found a problem. With heavy traffic and jarring bumps, it was a long, all-day drive to get about 300 miles. Geez! Kelly called Sleepy Hollow campground, but no one answered, so he left a message. A few hours later a man called back, saying he had a place. 

It was 6:00 when we finally checked into the 100-site campground beside Esopus Creek. Wyatt checked us in. We had requested a stream-side site, and he had on for us 😊. Then he guided us into the site. At the end of a hard day, I was very happy for the help. Wyatt was a UPS driver, and he runs a great campground. For such a big campground, it is very pretty and well-maintained. The year-round campers maintain their trailers and sites nicely. 

All the days tensions subsided as we sat beside beautiful Esopus Creek outside Phoenicia, NY. This supplies Ashokan Reservoir, which is the water supply for New York.


Natchez Trace From Meriwether Lewis Campground

Seven Points Campground was added to my list of favorite campgrounds

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Leaving Charlottesville, I drove i64 to i81 to i40 and some back roads to Seven Points Campground on Percy Priest Dam and Lake southeast of Nashville. This is a great campground with lots of room, great staff and site-preparation, on a beautiful lake. I had two goals: visit my cousin and his wife in Somerville, Alabama and to explore the Natchez Trace

Driving from Seven Points to Meriwether Lewis Campground took longer than I thought it would. Traffic was heavy around Nashville, so I didn’t want to go into the city to get to the end of the Trace. It runs from Natchez to Nashville, so I was going to drive it “backwards”. I got on at Pasquo, south of I40. I was sorry to have missed the Loveless Cafe, just north of this, but it was mid-morning by then.

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile recreational road and scenic drive through three states. It roughly follows the “Old Natchez Trace” a historic travel corridor used by American Indians, “Kaintucks,” European settlers, slave traders, soldiers, and future presidents. Today, people can enjoy not only a scenic drive but also hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping along the parkway.

That’s the extent of what I knew about the Trace, but there is a lot more. It is a 444 mile National Park that you can drive, hike, bike or ride a horse. It is beautiful, changing subtly through different landscapes, soils, hills and bayous. The trees are magnificent, huge and seemingly untouched for generations. There is a lot of history. The trail was originally made by migrating game (buffalo and others) along the west side of the Appalachian Mountains. Native Americans followed these trails for thousands of years before the arrival of the Kaintucks. By the 1600’s, three tribes inhabited these regions – the Chickasaw in the north, Choctaw in the middle and Natchez in the south. 2,000 years ago, they were the Missippians, skillful farmers and great mound-builders, similar to the natives of Mexico. Approximately 10 million natives inhabited North American before Columbus.

For travelers throughout time, it was difficult. With frequent storms, trees fell, streams changed course and there was flooding, so the trail was seldom in one place. Rather there might be many trails. Yet, there are many beautiful campsites alongside creeks, streams and rivers. Today you can drive the Trace, walk it, ride a bike or ride a horse. A casual drive through the park might seem boring to some, but the more you explore, the more complex it gets. There is no charge to travel this national park, and there are three free campgrounds along the way. The Trace itself has many forms. Sometimes it is a dirt road, at times a narrow trail, sometimes deep or sunken.

Heading Home

October 10, 2018

With heavy rains predicted for the next three days, we decided to head back home, cutting the trip just a day short. There has been a lot of rain on this trip, and it has been difficult to keep humidity to a reasonable level inside the trailer. We bought a small dehumidifier and several dehumidifier tubs. Using propane heat generates water: Combustion.jpgThe heat pump does a better job of drying the inside, but not great. Some come with a dehumidify mode, but ours doesn’t. We had similar problems when we were in Olympic National Park, which is a rain forest. It is not good when mold begins to grow. With temperatures hovering around 48 degrees, the Yoopers (also known as Fudgies) said this was unusual weather.


Site 163 in Taqwuamenon Falls State Park

With all the rain, we have actually been very lucky to be able to see and do things. Most of the rains, especially the heavy rains) have come at night. Though the days have been cloudy, we could hike or get out and explore. Now with six inches of rain predicted over the next three days, there is little chance of that. 

We headed south on 123, across the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge and south on I75, which is very pretty and pleasant in the northern section. Then on to 23 south to Ann Arbor, Toledo and Columbus, where we stayed at Alum Creek State Park. It was still cloudy and rained during the night. Waking up early, we opted to go tough it out and go through Columbus in rush hour. Ohio is famous for its orange barrels and road construction. There was plenty in Delaware, now a bedroom community of Columbus, and plenty on the south end of 71. By the time we got back on 23, things calmed down. 23 and 35 are very pretty roads without a lot of traffic, and you can go 65mph. Martha offered to drive for an hour for the first time pulling the Airstream!! We picked up I64 north of Charleston, WV along with now tropical storm Michael, following both all the way home. I’m always amazed how people continue to drive top speeds in pouring rain, and we saw several accidents. 


To entertain ourselves on the drive, we talked about what our favorite things were for this trip.

Favorite campground: There was no real standout, but we liked every state park we stayed in. Michigan and Ohio have excellent state parks with modern, clean facilities.

Favorite lunch: Colin’s Cafe in Harbor Springs and Brown’s Fish House in Paradise.

Favorite things about the trip: The towns – Petoskey and Harbor Springs; fall colors.

People: The “mayor” of Petoskey, Gary at Whitefish Point, the couple on Mackinac Island who told us all the places to go

Favorite place: Mackinac Island

When we got to Charlottesville, it was pouring down rain and traffic was heavy. Our tire monitor sounded an alert that the front left tire was losing air, so I got off at the next exit looking for a place to change a tire in this weather. At a stoplight, the monitor reset to everything being OK, so we continued slowly toward home, thankful it was a false alarm. I should change a truck tire just so I know where everything is. I keep the jack in the far back of the truck box, so I would have gotten everything soaking wet getting to it. By the time we got home, we were spent, but we were safe, and thank God for that!

Rawlins, Wy to Kearney RV Park, Nebraska

Thursday, November 2, 2017

People ask why I post several days at a time. Most of the time it is due to inadequate WIFI, so when I get to a good one, I can catch up. That might be a campground, a coffee shop or library.

We were happy to wake up to winds that weren’t so strong. I started to fix breakfast, but Martha Jean said, “Let’s go!” For the first time we were on the road before sunrise. From Rawlins, we drove to Laramie and Cheyenne, crossing the Continental Divide at 7,000′. The wind was still blowing hard at a rest stop. Reading the signs was pretty interesting. This area always has strong winds, and it blows the snow off these high ridges, allowing elk, deer and antelope a place to graze.

As we dropped down toward Cheyenne, the entire valley was wrapped in fog. OK, good. A different challenge today! I put my flashers on and slowed down as we headed down into it. Then finally up the other side and out of it, I was relieved. Changing time zones to Central Time, we arrived in Kearney, Nebraska at about 4:30 and 470 miles for the day. As we checked into Kearney RV Park, we asked about this being the Sandhill Crane capital of the world. She said March is the peak month when they are all over the place, as she described it. I’d love to see it. With a good laundry and showers, we had some catching up to do.