Monday, March 18, 2013

In Search of Warmer Temperatures!

Saturday, March 9, was our grandson Christopher's 8th birthday!
Monday, March 11,was my brother Walter's 72nd birthday and Aunt Julia's 90th birthday.
Friday, March 15, our son-in-law Andy celebrated  his 41st birthday.
Monday, March 25, Bob's sister Andrea celebrates her birthday--I won't publish her age:)

We decided it was time to leave  Siloam Springs in search of warmer weather. Of course, we headed south in our quest for warmth. Our first stop was an Army Corps of Engineer Campground near North Little Rock, Arkansas. We made Willow Beach our home base for two nights.

The last time we stayed in this area, we camped at Little Rock AFB in Jacksonville, AR. During that trip we picked up quite a few geocaches. This time we found some of the caches in the Americana Series we missed the last trip and a few others.

Since we were in bayou country--that's right, Arkansas, not Louisiana, we found some caches near bayous with many tupelo trees in them.
 We also saw this private plantation, Marlsgate. It looked like an interesting place to live.

The campground had 20 sites and all were nice. Our site was waterfront and we had a view of the water behind the sites across from us, also.
 Of course we were treated to a magnificent sunset across the Arkansas River.
When we left Willow Beach, our route took us through Stuttgart which claims to be "Rice and Duck Capital of the World." As we neared Stuttgart we could see many rice storage silos. The most prominent was one marked 'Riceland.'

After a drive of about 250 miles we stopped at Rocky Springs Campground on Natchez Trace. In the past we had stayed at the other two free campgrounds on The Trace, so it was time for us to try  the third campground. This one was just as nice as the other two and was not yet crowded with 'snowbirds' heading north.
 The campground is about 25 miles south of Vicksburg and the closest town is Port Gibson. Port Gibson was not burned during the Civil War because the antebellum houses were considered too beautiful. 

Bob and I drove through Port Gibson and saw a few antebellum houses, but the Chamber of Commerce was closed. They had maps of the homes for self-guided tours. When we returned to the campground, we drove to the site of the former community, Rocky Springs.

Some signs marked where buildings stood when the town was prospering, but not much else remains....

...except the Methodist church.

 It is still in use today.
 Since we had no Internet and no cell phone coverage at Rocky Springs, we decided to leave after one night. We drove through Mississippi to a national forest campground in DeSoto National Forest--Turkey Fork Recreation Area. Believe me, you will never find this campground if you are on the main highways of Mississippi-it is OFF the beaten track! It is east of Richton and south of Waynesboro. It was a great place for us to stop!  There are 20 sites with hook-ups and also a tent area near the swimming beach.
 One good thing about Turkey Fork, there was a trail that lead from the campground to the boat ramp. Bob and I walked this every day!
 We also did some caching! The caches were few and far between. One cache was located at an old CCC camp.
 Not only did this monument recognize the CCC,
  but it also memorialized DeSoto's  travels through the area in the 1500s.
 The memorial was located on a very narrow county road in the back woods of southern Mississippi.

 Our site at Turkey Fork overlooked the lake.
 It was a very peaceful campground and believe it or not, we got good television, Internet and cell phone coverage--even though we were in the middle of no where!
 We spent two days geocaching. One geocache was near this abandoned bridge near Richton, Mississippi.
 We enjoyed our stay at Turkey Fork and I am happy to say that we finally found warm weather! I have put away our heavy jackets and stowed the electric and propane heaters. I don't think we are going to need them any more! The night time temperatures are in the high 50s and the daytime temperatures are in the upper 70s! I think we are going to roast!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Trying to Stay Warm--Texas to Arkansas

Our original plan was to stay in Crosbyton for one night. Well, when we awoke the next morning it was snowing a nice slushy snow so we decided to stay put for one more night. Since it was a slushy snow, there was no need to go sightseeing or even leave the RV so we hunkered down and stayed warm.

The next morning we set out bright and early with a destination near Whitesboro, TX. Bob had done research on the area and found many Army Corp of Engineer campgrounds around Lake Tahoma. We decided on West Juniper Campground as it was the one of the ones open at this time of year. The water was off, but the electricity was good. Unfortunately, I think our days of boondocking might be over for this trip as we are headed east where there are fewer boondocking sites.

We got a great site overlooking Lake Tahoma. It didn't take long to get used to the rhythm of traffic crossing the bridge  on US 377 about a half mile from our site. While at West Juniper we did as much geocaching as we could  (weather permitting) and we also visited the Air Force Recreation Area to do some laundry. Yes, it was still cold. Average temperatures for the area were about 20 degrees below normal so everywhere we went we had to bundle up to stay warm.

One day we were able to walk across the highway to check out East Juniper Campground. It had some nice sites, too. Most of the east sites were gravel, not concrete pads like on the west.

At West Juniper Campground is the beginning of Cross Timbers Trail. The only day it was warm enough for us to consider hiking was Saturday and unfortunately for us, there was a race scheduled for the trail. The mileage for the race ranged from a 5K to 50 miles! It was not a day for us to do recreational hiking!

We did find a geocache near the dam during one of our caching days.

When we left West Juniper, we only went about 50 miles to another Army Corp of Engineer Park north of Denison, TX. Bob's parents were joining us at West Burns Campground. Again, it was one of the campgrounds open during the winter.

Bob's parents drove down from Siloam Springs to spend 2 nights with us. Bob's dad attended Cadet Training at Perrin Air Force Base in 1949. All that remains of the base is a museum--the base closed in 1971. We spent the morning looking through the museum and talking with the volunteers--all who had been stationed at Perrin at some time in their military career.

After touring the museum we drove to the birthplace of Dwight  D. Eisenhower. We drove around the house, but did not go inside. Have I mentioned that it was cold? Well, it still hasn't warmed up to the average temperatures for the region.

Bob's dad has a friend still living in Denison so we met him for coffee and dinner one afternoon. It was fun listening to Bob and Leo talk about old times. On a shelf in the coffee shop where we met there was a picture of  Leo with John Wayne in front of  John Wayne's airplane. It seems Leo flew 'The Duke' to Mexico a few times.

After Bob's parents returned to Arkansas, Bob and I were going to stay in the area a few more days, but after looking at the weather forecasts for the next week, we high tailed it to Siloam Springs the day after they left! This cold weather is getting old, I thought that Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring!

While in Arkansas we visited Crystal Bridges.The museum is sponsored by Wal-Mart and is located in Bentonville, Arkansas. The permanent collection may be viewed at no charge, but special exhibits may have a fee. It was well worth the visit.

The museum is built around a lagoon, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking it along the hallways.
 There are places to sit and rest or view the artwork.
 This was one of the most popular artworks that Sunday afternoon. The museum had a special program for children--Fairy Tale Ball. Most of the children attending were dressed as their favorite fairytale characters and they had to find artworks based on clues they were given when they entered the museum. Later in the afternoon, Michael Buckley, author of The Fairy Tale Detectives, would be available for autographs and questions.
 Bob and I decided to stay in Siloam Springs for two weeks. We enjoyed visiting with his parents and keeping warm.  Did I mention that it is cold--it snowed not long after we arrived in Siloam!

We are still trying to decide which route we want to travel to get home--I am sure weather will be the deciding factor!