Monday, June 11, 2018

Next Stop: Rocky Point COE Campground, Queen City, Texas

Our next reservation was for four nights at Rocky Point Corps of Engineer Park near Queen City, Texas. The park is southwest to Texarkana, Texas. Our drive was not too bad and we arrived at the campground and were set up in no time.
 Bob made an excellent choice for our campsite: water front and large! Thank heavens it had water and 50 amp electric. We were more thankful for the 50 amp than anything since it was hot! That meant we could run both air conditioners and keep nice and cool!
The next day we drove in to Texarkana. I had no idea that it was the birthplace of Scott Joplin--the composer who wrote 'The Entertainer.' The main street is Scott Joplin Way. There are murals on the buildings downtown.
When we returned to the campground we took a bike ride around all the campsites. Most of the tags were Texas, with two Louisiana and one Arkansas. But wait, there were two Florida tags and they were side by side! Another couple pulled in with Florida plates and we found out they were from Boca Raton! They were also on their way northwest with the Calgary Stamped as their destination.

That night we had a fantastic sunset.
Our next trip was hiking the trails in the park. The first one was only 500 feet long, but the second one went from our campground to Piney Cove, the next campground to the northwest. The trail was the scene of some bad weather and flooding sometime in the last year. We had to follow orange flags that were placed to mark the trail.
 Saturday we made a trip back to Camping World in Bossier City, Louisiana to get a replacement set of breakaway tow cables---we realized that we had traveled all the way from home without ours! Once we got back to the campground, we just relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. Did I mention it was hot? Well, it was too hot for hiking or bike riding.

Sunday was another travel day, next stop Waurika Lake in Oklahoma. Yes, we are not traveling at our usual leisurely pace--we have grandchildren to see in Oklahoma! We haven't seen them in almost 4 years!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Meridian and I-20---We Remember It Well!

So, we woke up Tuesday morning itching like crazy! Turns out we forgot to put on our DEET when we went geocaching in the woods and we got CHIGGERS! As always, we travel with a special spray to ease the itching and we both bathed in it before we got on the road.

Now Meridian stands out in my mind from previous trips as a town with inconvenient exits and entrances to the interstate. This time was no different! After looking a the map and checking our GPS's, we headed south on highway 19, going to old US80. Unfortunately, about a mile from the entrance to I-20, there was a warning about bridge clearance, we checked and we would fit so we continued on for about another 1/2 mile. Bob suddenly pulled over into a gravel lot--he spotted the sign before I did: WEIGHT LIMIT 6 TONS! We were able to unhook the car (did I mention it was raining?) and I drove across the street to the Moose Lodge. Then I went back to direct Bob so he could back and then turn into the lot. As we were waiting for traffic to clear we were astounded to see a flat bed semi coming across the bridge! Now, it wouldn't have been so bad if the truck had been empty, but it had a FULL load of liquid. Now water weighs about 8 pounds a gallon and this truck had at least 20 five hundred gallon tanks fully loaded. The driver must have been concerned, he slowly crept across the bridge.

Well, after that detour, we went back to highway 19 and found the long way onto I-20. From there it was a bumpy, bouncy ride across Mississippi. Interstate 20 from Jackson to the Louisiana border has improved since we first started RVing in the late 90s, but more improvement is needed. This section of I-20 is still one of the worst sections we have ever traveled.

Since we had no idea as to our destination that night, we stopped at the Louisiana Welcome Center. We found a brochure on a park we were considering and decided to give it a try. We were less than a 100 miles from the park, so after lunch we were on the road again.

At the rest area just before Ruston, Louisiana, we stopped to call the park to make sure there were spaces available.  Luckily for us, there were, so we drove to Lincoln Parish Park just north of Ruston. It turned out to be an excellent choice for the night. In fact, it is a park where we would like to spend more time. It is known for its mountain bike trails. There is a small lake with a paved walking path. And to top it all off, the sites had 50 amp electric, water, sewer, AND free wi-fi! All for $25 a night.
This was the view behind our site.
After we got set up and rested for a bit, we took a walk around the lake.
 The park was well maintained and had many amenities.
 Fishing, boating (no gas motors), swimming, hiking, and mountain biking are just a few.
We had an enjoyable evening in Sol, but Wednesday would be another travel day. I know, I know, this is not our usual travel style. For the first part of this trip we are on a schedule. That will change in early August.

Wednesday morning, before traveling, we took the time to walk around the lake once more. Of all the ducks in or near the lake, this one stood out from the others with her stylish bouffant. We saw one other duck that's head feathers looked more like a mohawk, but she wanted no part of our photo session.
Time to pack up and hit the stop Rocky Point COE near Texarkana, Texas.

Twitley Branch COE Campground, Collinsville, Mississippi

Bob and I took our time driving to Twitley Branch Campground. Sol needed fuel and we didn't want to purchase it in Florida. We finally found a station in Atmore, Alabama that had diesel for $2.99. It was the best price we available AND the station had separate pumps for diesel! After fueling Sol, we were on our way to Collinsville which is about 10 miles northwest of Meridian, Mississippi. Our reservations were for 2 nights at Twitley Branch Corps of Engineer Campground on Lake Okatibbe.

After a leisurely drive, we settled in at our campsite for Happy Hour as it was too late for lunch, too early for dinner. Our site backed on the lake so we had a good view.

The following day we walked the campground areas and did some geocaching in the park.

After lunch we drove to Meridian to visit Dentzel Carousel. It is housed in a special building at Highland Park. Unfortunately, the carousel was closed. We were able to look in the windows to see the double row carousel built around 1890.

The Jimmie Rodgers museum, also located at the park, was closed. Jimmie Rodgers is known as the singing brakeman and the father of country music.
I guess Monday is not a good day to visit small town museums.

From Highland Park it was on to Wal-Mart to purchase a few items, then back to the campsite.

Since it was such a nice afternoon, we decided to ride our bicycles around the park. It was the first time in a very long time that we had ridden our bikes. After our bike ride, we sat outside and just enjoyed relaxing. We finally got out our maps and gazetteers to plan our drive the following day.
So far this trip, we have had reservations, but for our next stop, we didn't have any. We weren't sure how far we wanted to go, but we knew we didn't want to drive all the way to Texarkana, Texas, from Collinsville. We finally decided on a couple of places we might stop, but we kept our options reservations! Our stop would depend on our drive and the weather.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

On Our Way West!

Cue Willie Nelson: On the road again......

Yes, we are back on the road.This time we are headed west, first to get our older two grandchildren and their dad in Oklahoma. Then we will continue west to Washington.

Our first stop was in Crawfordville, ,Florida. We spent the night in the driveway of our friends house even though they are already in Colorado to spend the summer at their cabin.
 Not long after we arrived, Bill called and asked us to check on the plants that Boni planted before they left. We did...they were growing and getting ready to climb the trellises Bill made.
 After dinner we walked around the neighborhood and had to run from yellow flies in one section. The next morning we were on  the road again. The next stop was Bear Lake Campground in Blackwater River State Forest. This was a new to us campground. The weather was hot and sticky and rains were in the forecast. When we got up on Saturday morning, we immediately got ready to hike Bear Lake Loop Trail. We wanted to get started before it got HOT and before the rains arrived.
 The trail was a four mile loop around the lake. There were boardwalks and observation decks along the trail. The first observation deck overlooked a small field of white pitcher plants.
 Of course, there were other flowers blooming along the trail, but the white pitcher plants intrigued us. There were more than we had ever seen in one place on any of our hikes. The dark stick in this picture is Bob's walking stick. I hope it gives you an idea of the height of the pitcher plants.
I really enjoyed seeing all the native plants along the trail. These pink ones as well as the following white one were the most prevalent.
Bob and I both agreed that this was one of our favorite Florida trails....and we have hiked a lot of them!
One boardwalk zig-zagged through the trees.
We completed the hike just before the rains! After eating a late breakfast we decided to drive into Milton, the closest town of any size. One of our stops was Blackwater Heritage Trail, a seven mile paved multi-use trail. We had our bicycles, but the weather didn't look promising, so we headed back to the campground.

Sunday was going to be a travel day, but we decided to hike Sweetwater Trail before we packed Sol for our trip. I have to say, Sweetwater Trail was also a pleasant surprise. The trail started as a piney woods trail and then turned into a boardwalk that went over Sweetwater Swamp all the way to Krul Lake. Krul Lake is the site of another campground that has swimming only in the lake, no boats, no fishing, no pets.

About halfway to Krul Lake, we crossed a suspension bridge over Sweetwater Creek. 
We enjoyed our stay at Bear Lake Campground even though we had no cell service or Internet. It was a nice getaway for a few days. It was time to get on the road---next stop Collinsville, Mississippi.