We spent the night in Desoto State Park. This is a large park near the falls. It has it’s own multiple waterfalls. We went to see all the close by waterfalls. After a day of walking the Cathedral Cavern we weren’t going to try walking miles and miles to see all the falls. In Desoto State Park we visited the Azalea falls, the Indian Falls and Lodge Falls. Lodge falls was just a trifle.
The State Park is up high on the Tennessee Hills plateau. The ride was up long and slow to spare our transmission. At the top the foliage was in full fall glory and a pleasure to see.
Indian Falls from the top.
Indian falls from below. All the waterfalls here have this characteristic cave underneath.
Lodge falls was dry.
Serendipity strikes on the road. It was after dark and we were looking for an open campsite and we landed here. Imagine our delight to discover just where we were! I knew the name of the town was bugging me for some reason. We stopped for an extra day and visited this wonderful museum. It was full of fun things to do. I got to try rock climbing and it was great fun. We saw a lot of fascinating rockets and memorabilia from the the Apollo missions I watched as a child. There was also a lot of stuff from the shuttle program.
This was one of those “ah hah” moments. I had read a book about the great New Madrid Earthquake and a survivalist screed about what would happen to the USA if another quake like that happened today. We did not plan to go to New Madrid and visit the great earthquake’s site but we passed it by and so took a brief stop. We also saw that iconic crop of the south, cotton. We stopped and had a close up look at the cotton which was being harvested as we passed. Fall flocks of birds were busy all along the way. I got to use one of my new vocabulary words, murmuration, a flock of moving birds making patterns, a lot.
We left Champaign Illinois and traveled south to Memphis. It was seven hours of driving so we decided to break it up with a stop in the Horseshoe Lake Conservation area.
This is our lovely stop in the Western Campground of the Conservation area. Hunting season is in full swing and we have groups of hunters with us in the campground.
We have caught up to fall again. The trees looked lovely.
Normally we would really hesitate about taking our canoe into a cypress swamp due to alligators and snakes but this far north we weren’t concerned so we took a little canoe ride to see the swamp up close.
Cypress knees are fascinating. These are used to get oxygen to the roots.
Packing up to continue our journey.
Construction on the road beside the levee. This area floods due to the mighty Mississippi
Over the levee. One of the hunters in the campground was playing the very appropriate Led Zeplin song “When the levee breaks” so the song was in my head as we crossed.
Over the Mississippi river and into Missouri.
Oh wow! First there was the Colorado low, then the Alberta clipper and now…wait for it….The Manitoba Mauler.
Short Range Forecast Discussion
NWS Weather Prediction Center College Park MD
316 AM EDT Fri Oct 31 2014
Valid 12Z Fri Oct 31 2014 – 12Z Sun Nov 2 2014
***Major trough setting up over the Eastern U.S.***
***Arctic surface high settles southward into U.S.***
The weather pattern will get interesting as we head into the weekend as a
Manitoba mauler (a low pressure system coming from the Canadian province
of Manitoba) dives southward towards the southern Appalachians by Saturday
morning. This will result in the development of a highly amplified trough
over the East Coast and a strong surface low developing offshore. In
terms of sensible weather impacts, expect much colder weather by Saturday
with numerous showers, and accumulating snow in the higher elevations of
the Appalachians. Rain and windy conditions are likely for eastern New
England by Sunday as the offshore low intensifies.
Manitoba Mauler – how appropriate! Since Manitoba is flat and opens right up to the Arctic, a Manitoba Mauler is a cold front that quickly brings arctic air south and east pulverizing the eastern midwest of the USA. Today we have very high winds, freeze warnings, a high barely above freezing and a low predicted for about -3C, below freezing. It will take two days to pass and will officially end the growing season down here in southern Illinois. We caught up with fall on the trip here and saw many trees in brightly coloured autumn dressing.
We are safely tucked in at a full service campsite just north of Champaign called D&W Campground and RV park and it’s really a nice little place to sit out horrible weather. Super wide sites, friendly people, all the amenities. I plan on doing some vegging out, some writing and today make stew and bread. We’ll wait out the Manitoba mauler in Champaign, Illinois.
We awoke in Bertha, dressed got on our way and started the truck only to discover the gas tank was empty. We had somehow been relieved of a half a tank of gas overnight. No leaked gas on the ground and so we reported it to the local police. The very nice officer said Bertha has been having issues with attempted break-ins over the last few days and this fits a pattern. He was very upset and apologized profusely.
We picked up a tiny window alarm at Walmart that sets off a 120db siren if the wind is opened and we are going to rig it so it goes off if someone opens our little gas door. That should fix the parasite issue. We also stopped at a wonderful Amish/Old Order Mennonite country store and walked out with $50 full of old style pickles and preserves. Yum!
We then rolled by a nice little country town Goodyear and got the tire that was so bald it had gotten dangerous replaced. Somehow that didn’t get done before we left. With exchange it ended up being the same price as back in Canada. Then we drive north around Mineapolis through some very pretty country and got safely into Wisconsin. We are currently nestled into an empty spot in a Flying J between two other RVers as we plan on being on our way early in the morning. We have only done this once before but it was another 24 miles to the State Park and it was dark and I was beat. Lots of RVers stay at Flying J truck stops for quick overnights. I’ll write about the experience tomorrow. Next stop Milwaukee to visit my SL job boss and friend. This should be our last day of driving until 8:00pm. The rest of the trip is slower and has open campgrounds all the way along.
Update: The overnight at the Flying J was just fine. We took the advice we had heard from other bloggers and parked our RV next to other RVs and away from the big trucks. We also put our rig off the main entrance and exit. The result was not too bad for noise. We actually slept well. Mostly it felt very safe. It was weird because so many people were coming and going and yet I think that was why I felt safe. We had RVers on both sides. The truck drivers were all polite and the staff at the Flying J were friendly and professional. With so many people coming and going I think something like someone trying to siphon off our gas tank would be noticed by someone. The other bonus over a state park was we had really great internet. We saved the $22 fee for the electric only site at the State Park we had planned on staying at. We did pay the $10 dump fee Flying J charges and we filled up with gas before we left. That’s how they make their money I guess. So on the one hand a state park and more cost poor or no internet and frankly, this time of year, possibly the only ones around and an unsafe feeling with a pretty view and then Flying J with no view, lots of truck noises and safety. Savings $12 net. After getting to Madison WI we paused our trip to stop at camping world. I positively drooled over a camper that is the same size as ours but had a four foot slider and the size difference was amazing. The layout was also wonderful. The bedroom had a real door! We also renewed our Good Sam membership card because this gives us the dump fee at Flying J for $3 and saves us $7. We would only need to stay overnight at a Flying J and dump four times over the course of a year for it to pay for the membership plus we do occasionally shop at Camping World and that means a 10% discount. We will be doing the Flying J boon docking again. Who needs a fancy view when you arrive after dark and leave as fast as you can in the morning?
Someone forgot to turn off September. I sure hope they don’t notice and turn it back on. The weather for October continues to be far warmer than October is supposed to be. I have some hopes that the third brutal winter in a row everyone has been forecasting might not happen after all. We have been spending the days writing up a storm with Chapter 3 of our joint book closing fast on a final form. Dick is working on my first draft of Chapter 4 now. Chapter 5 & 6 are in first draft and also await his touch. We have had to do a fair bit of review and consultation on the function of the protein septin and its role in the cytoskeleton and other fascinating stuff. I always find it amusing when Dick’s lack of basic biological training shows because it is the one area I can occasionally outshine him. Like all self taught experts he occasionally displays little holes in his background which I appreciate finding. I am almost always the student and he the senior mentor otherwise.
I have also gotten a lot more writing done on my very loosely biographical novel. (I say that because it started out as biographical but the characters are taking off in their own directions as characters so often do.) We had hoped to get the canoe in the water today, but those strong south winds bringing us such lovely warmth mean canoeing is not possible. Maybe tomorrow. Instead, for our exercise today we walked the local town trail to lookout hill. This is a typical small prairie town complete with typical prairie whimsy in the form of cowboy boots and skates pinned to a power pole on a village street with nothing there but an open field. This is a really pretty place and very nice to stay in. I saw a river otter from my window last night! At $90/week, it’s also $150/week less than the one Winnipeg campground that is still open and here there is not a whiff of the ubiquitous pig farm stench. Well worth it even if this campground doesn’t have cable.
The view from Lookout Hill Down to Rapid City Manitoba
The town has several very old historical buildings such as this one.
View looking up the valley with a large marsh on the left and the local golf course on the right. Rapid City has a fabulous golf course. I hate golf but the greenery is nice. The Canada Geese like the golf course too.