Tag Archives: Mississippi

West Through Arkansas to Maumelle (Little Rock)

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 8.56.31 AM

We drove from Granada Lake only 40 miles (with a detour due to a bridge being out) in order to reach the George Wallace Campground on Enid Lake. Watching the weather, we decided to stay put for three more nights in Mississippi to give the north time to drain a bit. We spent those three days much as we had at Grenada Lake. We biked, we walked, we enjoyed the sunshine. Meanwhile north of us floods were happening all over Nebraska and the entire state was green with flood warnings on the NOAA site. By our third day the flood waters were starting to arrive in the Memphis area so it was time to leave.

IMG_1669

Our campsite in George Wallace Campground on Lake Enid

We decided to avoid the misery of the nightmare of crossing the Mississippi at Memphis. We planned our escape by going over Old Man River at Helena West and then traveling north west and meeting up with the I-40 as it follows the Arkansas River in the valley. I was expecting a few of Arkansas’ famous steep hills and a workout for my transmission. I was pleasantly surprised to find the road was not only lacking steep hills but it was in good repair. After crossing east through the two major Louisiana east west interstates it was a real pleasure. From now on, I cross that stretch through Arkansas.

We arrived at the Maumelle, Arkansas and pulled into our reserved campsite. We normally hate making reservations because it robs us of flexibility but Maumelle is a very busy place. Part of the reason for that is many of the campsites are reserved for people staying in Little Rock for medical treatment. They are long term sites. We met one little girl whose family had been living there for two years of schooling for her. We saw a lot of people with no hair and that thin ghastly look that so often comes with chemotherapy. It is a good thing they have a nice place to stay that must feel supportive of them as they get treatment for their disease.

IMG_1670

Our Maumelle Campground site near Little Rock, Arkansas

The weather report promised one day of rain with thunderstorms. We were under a severe thunderstorm watch overnight our first night. None actually came close to us but one storm did decide to drop a big chunk of hail. It hit smack on one of our vent covers. The vent cover was already sun crazed so the result was exploded plastic all over the roof. We discovered we had rain coming in just as we got into bed. A quick check of the radar showed that thunderstorm had passed but another was coming. So we quickly dressed and my husband spotted me as I got up on the roof. He passed me a cover from a big storage box that fit over the vent and then one of our 2″X10″X6′ levelling boards and I laid that on top to keep the cover in place. Just as we got back inside, the rain started pouring again but our quick temporary fix worked.

The next morning we made a fast trip to a nearby RV place to get a replacement and then I installed it. We had a lot to be grateful. The wrecked vent was right next to the bathroom sunroof which would have been a lot more expensive and a lot more difficult to replace. The break happened when we were parked so we knew right away instead of driving all day and arriving to a soaked interior. Last, the break happened near a big city with a well stocked RV store. On the same trip we made a short stop at a laundromat since our portable machine had died.

We enjoyed three lovely days of relaxing walks, extended periods writing, napping, and appreciating warm T shirt weather. It was then time to continue our journey home by leaving for the Springhill Campground, Barling, near Fort Smith Arkansas.

 

Advertisements

Grenda Lake Mississippi

We ended up spending a week in the Army Corp of Engineer’s North Abutment (Grenada Lake) Campground. We initially pulled in for three nights but we were concerned about the news coming out of Nebraska. As we watched one heartbreaking report after of Nebraska flooding another the thing that really stood out was that I-29, the main highway we take to go home, was closed. Between us and our location in central/west Mississippi was the Missouri. The flooding Missouri was blocking our trip home. We discussed it at length and spoke to our dear friend who minds our house and we decided to play it safe extend our trip. By staying south a few days more we could avoid the mess up north and avoid becoming part of their problems.

After our first three nights we moved to a full hookup site for four more nights giving us a full week on Grenada Lake. The weather was sunny and cool. We had several days of brisk winds that stirred up the lake turning the water to brown. Even so we were able to go for nice long walks in the sunshine, ride our bikes around the campground and relax. Once nice thing was the cooler weather meant an end to the horrid biting bugs that had left me covered with welts in Alabama. It was blessedly stable uneventful weather after dodging tornados in Alabama. We made one trip into Grenada to see the historic mainstreet (which was not work the trip except for a neat local grocery store full of all kinds of fascinating stuff like pickled whole pig’s feet). Again, we were delighted by wildflowers, migrating songbirds, egrets and herons and for some reason more turtles than I have ever seen in one place. Somehow we never did get a picture of the turtles but we saw them sunning everywhere. I wish I could adequately describe how soul refreshing it is to stay in such a lovely location and enjoy such absolutely perfect weather with no pressure to be anywhere or do anything. I even baked bagels and pumpernickel bread one day it was so relaxed.

On our second night we were alarmed to note that the road on top of the dam was closed because of how high the water in Grenada Lake was. The local authorities were running golf carts up and down around the clock watching for leaks in case the levee broke. The locals did not seem concerned and our campsite was above the levee so we decided to stop worrying too and that was when I baked. On our last day, the wind finally calmed and we went for a long overdue canoe ride. The lake was twenty feet above flood stage. There was a small creek and the forest around it totally inundated. We were actually able to canoe into the forest and see tree tops of shorter trees and get far up the trunks of mighty evergreens. That was a really interesting perspective.

Our reservations were up and it was a really busy looking for the weekend at this campground. We had already decided to alter our trip home by going through the Arkansas’s I-40 interstate following the non flooding Arkansas river. That about the flattest road in mountainous Arkansas. We planned on exploring some of the many Federal campgrounds along that route. We could then avoid the lower Missouri flooding which was now moving out of Nebraska and towards Mississippi right through our original planned route home. We were pleased to read that the I-29 was now mostly openly and if we took our time, it would hopefully be clear for us to drive home.  Those Arkansas campgrounds were really busy because they were all booked up for the weekend. We made reservations for the trip through Arkansas but we were still left with three nights in Mississippi before we could take advantage of the reservations. We decided to move north again and stop for three nights near Memphis Tennessee at the Army Corp of Engineer’s Enid Lake campground. And so we said goodbye to Grenada Lake and headed north.

IMG_6892

Misty had great fun with a friend she made at our second campsite. This little guy was actually faster than her. We don’t meet a lot of dogs who can outrun her but this boy sure could.

Migration South Day 20-22 – Twiltley Branch Campground, Collinsville, MS

IMG_4631

Our camper in the distance. We had the whole place to ourselves.

On our way out from Minden to Collinsville we saw a gas station selling propane tank refills. I don’t mean the exchanges, I mean refilling your tank for you. $12 for our tank. We got an empty tank refilled and we topped up the gas tank. About 300 kilometres later, we pulled into a store to stock up on a few things. Just as we turned into the parking lot there was a terrific clunk and a funny noise and we stopped in a safe place and got out. One of our sway bars had come loose and was dragging on the ground. We had not put the pin that holds the lifter part of the sway bar set up back in properly so it fell out. To get to our propane tank you have to lift the tank away from the pin. We had not even lost the pin. It was still hanging there. Some angel was watching over us that day. If that had gone on the main highway in interstate traffic with big rigs all around at 55mph who knows what might have happened. As it was we were going about 10mph and just slowing to park. Lesson learned. An inspection showed us no real damage. Thank you to that guardian angel.

IMG_1454

View outside the other window.

Twiltley Branch Campground was yet another exceptionally lovely Army Corp of Engineer’s campground. Because my husband is an American citizen, he has a senior Passport America and so the fee for us was a mere $9.50(US) a night. This was a much larger facility that Caney Lake. It had three different campground sections in it, each one holding three times more camp sites than Caney. We got a site in “loblolly” section and we had the whole place to ourselves for three days we stayed. We arrived to lovely warm sunny weather and went for a nice long walk.

IMG_1456

By evening it had clouded over and overnight it rained and rained. To the south were some violent thunderstorms that reached severe level but not where we were. We awoke to soggy ground and wet everything but by midafternoon the sun was out and we took another nice long walk. The following morning yet another storm system was coming through (actually the back end of the one that had just passed us over to the south) so we walked down to the campground office and paid for another night. The rain started up again about half way back so we got back to our trailer feeling wet and cold. A change of clothes, a cup of hot tea and we were ready to face the world again.

IMG_1450

View outside my window.

We had one amusing little incident with Misty. Misty is only nineteen months old and so we are still doing a lot of obedience training with her. One of our first professional dog trainers we worked with told us if you have the dog with you all the time and they see all kinds of people doing all kinds of things and if you take every opportunity to socialize them, you get a smart dog who knows what’s normal. They won’t react to normal things, only to people acting weird, in trouble or up to no good. That advice has certainly fit our experience. So we had Misty with us and while my husband was inside paying I put Misty through her sit, stay, lie down, stay, and stand stay paces. She mostly has it though stand is one she’s still working on. She does need a fair bit of reminders and she can be distracted. Anyway, she was standing beside me when the fellow in front of us came out and she looked at him. I gave her a verbal reminder to “stay” as she was shifting her body weight to go say hi. She froze. She did a perfect stand stay. She smiled her big toothy grin at him. The man stopped in his tracks. He gave me a sick smile, and then instead of passing on front of us, he went back around the office and went to his truck the long way. He was afraid of our sweet Misty even though Misty was perfectly behaved and had done nothing but look at him and give him a doggy smile. Some people find a well trained dog far scarier than an untrained one. My husband says it’s because you just never know what else a well trained dog might be trained to do. Misty is trained to alert bark at anything she thinks is weird or out of the ordinary, not attack. We have trained all our dogs that way and it has served us well. We have never had one of our dogs bite anyone.

IMG_1464

While we had no human neighbours the lovely bays on two sides of our site had plenty of interesting feathered neighbours. We had some snowy white egrets, two great blue herons, yellow warblers, and innumerable ducks of assorted types and some western grebes in view all the time. We also had a huge osprey catch fish right outside our campsite. The Osprey carried the fish up to a tree in our campground and proceeded to gut it and fillet it right there. Of course the Osprey didn’t discard the gutted part. That was a wonderful pleasure, seeing such a magnificent bird of prey so close.

IMG_4653

Misty seemed to think the great blue herons were some sort of vicious enemy that must be driven away. She barked and barked but they just ignored her. We kept telling her “off bird”. We expect Misty to bark a warning at strange things but we also expect her to shut up when we have investigated the cause of her alarm back and told her to ignore it. For some reason she just wouldn’t quit about the herons. We’d tell her “off bird” and she’d look at us like we were stupid. Perhaps the way they ignored her bugged her. If she barks at the other birds they would move away. The herons would just give her a dirty look and carry on. Random barking for no good reason is not something we tolerate. It meant she could not spend her usual long stretches sitting outside watching the world go by. Eventually my husband figured out that to Misty “bird” means one of those little tweeters. When he started telling her “off heron” and pointing at the heron she finally got it. We were telling her “off bird” but that great blue heron was no bird in her books. We were telling her not to worry about birds while she was telling us about the pterodactyl fishing outside the door. No wonder she thought we were being stupid!

IMG_1462

We had another of those little RVing mishaps at Twitchley that make life interesting. After my husband showered the morning we were set to leave I smelled that ominous order that says electric short. After tracking down I discovered one of the connections to the hot water heater was hot to touch and the plastic was partially melted. Diagnosis was a loose connection. Bumping up and down in an RV going down the highway, if it can come loose, it will come loose. We needed to stop at a hardware store and to get more connectors of a larger type and better quality. Meantime the hot water heater had to stay off. That could have been very bad if it had progressed to the point of causing a fire. Life in an RV means always being aware of and following up on any little thing that seem out of order. You just never know when paying attention to a funny noise, or a weird smell, or a clunk means you prevent a disaster. He was with us again.IMG_4628

Lousiana, Mississippi, Alabama

We spent four days going from Texas to Florida. We were now in travel mode and out of tourist mode, since we had done this route before. Our preferred travel mode is to drive no more than 600 km (372miles) and often less for a day, stop for a meal at a restaurant with internet where we get caught up with the world, park at a nice campground for two nights, spend the day in between nights hiking, canoeing if suitable water is available, relaxing, walking the dogs, and writing. The break from the internet is so refreshing. We both get a lot of writing done on stop days. We restrict shopping to travel days combining shopping with washroom breaks. The two biggest expenses of travel are gas fill ups and the fee for campgrounds. This mode also drops our fill ups to every other day and since national forests cost us about $10 a stop with Dick’s senior Passport America so it is a cheap way to travel.  This relaxing mode of travel means we don’t get anywhere fast but we enjoy ourselves as we go.

Our first night was the picturesque small city of Alexandria. We camped in the Kincaid Lake Recreation area in the Kisatchie National Forest. The spot is an exceptionally nice transition zone between deciduous forests of oak, maple, sycamore and cypress swamp pine and slash pine forests. We took a long long walk along the beach area which was technically closed but no one chased us away.

From there, we headed to Mississippi. We soon found ourselves dealing with the reason I absolutely HATE Louisiana travel. I don’t know what they spend their money on down there but it is not their interstate. The I10 interstate was in horrible shape, just as I recalled it from last year, and that part of the trip consisted of bone rattling whomp-whomp-whomp-whomp for miles and miles punctuated by many bridges where the road did not match the bridges, leading to massive bangs, clangs and jerks. Add to that more truck traffic than I have ever seen on one place, including Boston, and it sure was a relief to get into Mississippi and hit smooth pavement. The only good thing about that trip was that by cutting across to Alexandria we avoided 75% of the nightmare drive we endured last trip.

We stopped at another National Forest campground, this one called Big Buloxi in the Desoto National Forest. Wow has the Gulfport area ever exploded with life. We saw new businesses popping up everywhere and not a single foreclosure sign. We had a very relaxing stay before heading on to Alabama.IMG_0934

Two years ago Dick and I had the pleasure of traveling Alabama from north to south and we have crossed it at three points. We love Alabama. Highways are great and there are many wonderful campgrounds and lovely sights to see. However we were not doing Alabama this trip. We drove the interstate towards Florida, took that big tunnel through Mobile for the third time and after a brief stop for lunch in Daphne Alabama (which is as pretty as it sounds) we left the interstate and started traveling Rt 98 along the coast. Rt 98 is one of the loveliest, most picturesque routes in the USA with long stretches following the coastline and gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico. It also passes through every little fishing village, town, and shopping centre in the coast so stretches are packed full of busy people going about their lives. This means lots and lots of miles with traffic and noise and 35mph zones and red lights. You also have to really watch those speed limits signs because speeding tickets are a major source of income. (We haven’t had one yet but I am extra careful.) Still, we felt very much at home. We crossed into Florida absorbing the sights of the panhandle with relish and relief. We had finally reached our southern winter home.

IMG_0931

Migration Home – Second Stop Petrified Forest Mississippi

Our second stop was at the Mississippi Petrified Forest Campground. Being scientists, we tend to get excited about stuff like fossils and other unusual places which appeal to Geeks and Nerds. This place is a National Landmark but it is not a National Park so no discount but we stopped in anyway. It was an impulse thing. Dick saw this place on the map and said he wanted to see it. The times Google gives for driving have no connection to reality when you are pulling a trailer and have a husband, two elderly dogs and a cat to worry about. It was getting late. I was tired of driving. We decided to check it out. Sometimes an impulse stop like this is a disaster but sometimes great stuff happens and this was a good impulse detour.

Trip -2

On arrival we decided to stay for two nights. We had two reasons. One was due a pet accident, we had some more laundry to do that really couldn’t wait. [*big sigh*] Since this was a full service campground with the sewer hook up, we could do it ourselves in our portable washer. Second the weather was for rain and cold and the possibility of storms further west. It seemed like a good idea to let that happen without us being nearby. The next morning the weather was indeed drizzle and rain. The TV antenna picked up a local station with radar so we watched for a rain free spot and then took the petrified forest walk mid afternoon while north and west folks were dashing for their storm shelters.

SAM_9125

The gift shop has pamphlets you get to do a self guiding tour which begins with a neat historical context display. Each spot is clearly numbers and you read the booklet and learn new things. It wasn’t pouring rain during our walk but the trees were dripping so our decision to wear rain gear was correct.

SAM_9133

I liked how you can get right up close and touch the petrified logs, some of them were really huge.

SAM_9136

There were many examples of petrified wood, large, small, complex, simple, colourful and beautiful. The booklet gave us detailed background on the history of the discovery of the forest and explanations like why certain colours appear on some  logs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Not only was the petrified forest a treat to see, the living forest around and above us was also lovely. Since we are both amateur botanists we enjoyed that almost as much. We also saw a lot of birds and a deer.SAM_9208

We spent a good two hours on the guided tour walk and then it started to rain again. I was not too bothered though because with the rain, we found we were alone on the walk. (Note that about 1/3 of the walk (with the best parts) was wheelchair/stroller accessible.) The walk ends by going through the indoor displays and then the gift shop. The indoor displays were wonderful. Short of the Smithsonian, I have never seen such a varied display of minerals from around the world in one spot. We really enjoyed that. They even had amethyst and fossils from back home!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last stop was the gift shop. When you have as many grandchildren to buy for as we do, a place with neat stuff that kids like is always appreciated. No doubt the owners also appreciated our devotion to the grandkids. We picked out a really nice very small sample of the petrified wood for ourselves. We left with our treasures and the owners positively beaming at us.

That was the second stop on our slow migration home. We took five days to go across three states and travel about 500 miles or 805 km. Next stop, Louisiana!

Distance

Here is my review of the campground:

We pulled in on a whim because we are fossil fans. The Petrified Forest is privately owned and has an attached campsite with room for eleven rigs. They charge a modest $22/night. The full service campsites are neat, clean, well maintained. A maintenance worker came by for morning clean up and check on things. An employee came by in the afternoon to make sure that all was well. The road are narrow and the turns on the one big loop are a little on the tighter side but not impossible for our rig. There were no trees and hazards near the road. The roads themselves were surface washed out in a few spots but there was also a lot of fresh gravel as if being on a hillside it is a constant struggle to keep the roads from washing out. The setting is overall beautiful trees and shady. Some campsites are close together, most are widely spaced. There are both pull throughs and back ins. There are some longer term residents but the owners limit those to 6 months and I presume they are employees because their rigs were all neat and newer. There was a long list of rules but none onerous for a short term stay. We were originally sent to #7 but the very nice lady checking us in said we could change to #8 if we wanted to. This was a good thing because #8 was not long enough for our rig to find a level spot without unhitching. There was no wifi available. The trail through the petrified forest is well laid out and a pleasant walk of 45 minutes with a written guide to the sights. It is available for a discounted fee of $5 if you are camping there. If you like fossils and minerals, they have one of the best selections that I have seen in one place in their museum and gift shop. Overall a very good value and we were pleased with our stay. I wouldn’t go out of my way to stay here again, but it was well worth stopping and seeing once.

Arkabutla Lake Army Corp of Engineer Campsite

SAM_5344

These pink flowers were in bloom everywhere. They were also full of happy bees. It was the spring migration eruption and the campground was full of chickadees, blue birds, red headed woodpeckers, cardinals, Carolina chickadees, warblers and so many other birds I couldn’t keep track.

SAM_5358 SAM_5359

The Lake is nice and big, bigger than Forklund but it was too far to haul the canoe without unhitching so we just took a long walk to the boat ramp and looked out.SAM_5360 SAM_5361 SAM_5362

We saw a lot of wildlife (including a black widow spider and a rattlesnake) but only this poor deceased shell of an armadillo was still long enough to photograph.

SAM_5363