Categories
Texas

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

I said a sad farewell to Big Bend this morning, with a hug from neighbor Neal and exchange of email & Facebook Friendships. I believe we’ll run into each other again somewhere in Arizona this winter. I think this time in early December is a really good time to visit Big Bend….not many people, good weather, and plenty of campsites to choose from. I hardly ever saw another car on the road!  As I was going out our bad dirt road this morning I saw the remains of someone’s bike rack or something in the road….three separate piles of “stuff”. I hope they were able to pick it up and put it back together on their way out.

I drove all day on little 2 lane roads (speed limits usually 70-75, but I only go 60). I was getting tired when I got to Van Horn, TX but I went another hour and made it to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The Pine Springs CG here is just a big paved lot with no shade but the price is right; $4 with the Geezer Pass! There’s a really cool Aussie-style camper across the road from me. I wish I had the guts to ask if I could see the inside….but I don’t.

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Here’s our campsite; barely got set up before dark! Pretty nice view.

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It’s pretty windy here; hope it calms down soon. It seems impossible to keep the wind from blowing straight through the camper, even with all 4 corners stuffed with foam.

(Next morning) The winds remained really gusty all night long…we were really rockin’ and rollin’! I was again giving thanks for my good friend Jenni’s help in installing the handy wind straps that keep the roof closed tight.  I was grumpy this morning because Roxie made me get up at 6:45 but what an amazing sunrise I got to see! And the mountains are bathed in beautiful golden light….compare this sight to the photo at the top that I took yesterday.

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I guess I may as well get an early start on today’s drive….if I do really well, we could get to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Management Area today! It’s 325 miles though, that’s quite a long driving day for me. So we’ll see.

Categories
Texas

Big Bend Day 5

Today we went to Castellon and Santa Elena, where the whitewater trips through the Santa Elena Canyon take out. Without hiking over a mile, I couldn’t get any photos of the canyon. This is the closest I could get, and the river runs through that big vertical crack in the middle of the photo.

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For some reason most of the photos I took today turned out a little bit out of focus, not sure what that’s about! But there was a magnificent sunset and I’m posting one of the blurry photos of that anyway.

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These are from our first day here; I love this purple prickly pear! (Try saying that three times real fast!)

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And these are some kind of quail or ?; can you find them?

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Finally, Neal’s 1969 Playmor camper. Isn’t it cute!

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Big Bend

I made it to Big Bend National Park! Finally. And just in time for the Arctic Blast….today’s high is 35 with a brisk wind, and the clouds are so low, I can hardly see the mountains. Drat! I may have to extend my visit.  As soon as I entered the park I saw my first wild critter…a big fat tarantula crossing the road; how exciting! I did not stop to take a photo of him. Then I noticed another, and another…..a really disturbing number of tarantulas!! Eww. Once I got off the paved road I didn’t see any more, but I bet they’re out there, just waiting to jump on me! Also waiting to leap on any unsuspecting person or dog are cougars and bears.Spiders, cougars and bears, oh my!

I am camped in a Backcountry site in Grapevine Hills. I was hoping there’d be a cell signal here but no, at least not on my phone. I really wanted to get the Government Springs sits as it’s quite close to the paved road, but it was taken. So my site is down 4 miles of very bad dirt road, but it’s nice once you get back there. It’s a sort of double site, and my neighbor is a young guy with kayak and bike and he’s camping in an old vintage Playmore camper! It’s cute as a button. (and so is he, if you care about that sort of thing) Oh no, I just tried to enter some photos and again my USB converter doesn’t work!  I really hate when that happens.

In the middle of last night I had to go outside and gather up my canopy, as it was too windy and the poles were banging on the camper. Oh the stars!! That song is right, “The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the Heart of Texas”!

It was so nice to not have to get up early and drive today. I made a big breakfast of “everything eggs” (sausage, ham, green pepper, onion, potatoes, eggs and cheese) and dawdled around all morning. I came out to empty the porta-potty and use the free wifi at the Panther Creek Visitor Center, which is only about 7 miles from me. On the way out the dirt road, I saw a coyote, a bunch of some kind of quail, and a roadrunner! I did take photos though they were kinda far off, so I don’t know how they turned out yet.

At the visitor center the ranger identified the thorn that went through my shoe as  mesquite, and he said the same thing happened to him the other day. I’m now very careful what i step on, but it’s already feeling better.

I’ll keep playing with the camera disc converter and hope to post photos the next time.

 

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Uncategorized

Ft. Stockton, TX

I drove nearly 400 miles today and made it to Ft. Stockton, TX. I went cross-country on more 2-lane roads and also Hwy. 45, a toll road with speed limits of 80 mph!  No way!!  I’m pretty sure that’s faster than my guardian angels can fly, so I just padoodle along at my usual 60 mph. while towing.  The toll booths didn’t have any place to pay; apparently you either us a pass or else you get the bill in the mail! I guess that’s convenient, though the mail rate was quite a bit higher than the pass rate.

I’ve been having a problem with my clothing bin falling off the bench and ending up in a big jumble by the time I get where I’m going, so I stopped at a gas station halfway here, put up the camper and shoved the bin back where it belonged. It worked good; everything was in good order when I got here except….sob! I left my $75 aluminum folding step back at that gas station! I guess I just drove off without it. What an expensive pee break! I can’t believe I did that!  And I can’t blame it on bad luck this time; this was sheer stupidity.  I need that step too; Roxie doesn’t “see” the little built-in step so she leaps over it and usually ends up doing a face-plant. So I had to order another one today and have it sent to the post office in Bisbee; I’ll pick it up next week when I get there. Sigh.

We are parked overnight at a defunct RV park. I pulled up and put up the camper and then noticed a lot of really tiny but lethal-looking thorny things on the ground that are so sharp, they stuck into my rubber clogs! So I decided to move, as that would NOT be good for Roxie’s little feet! I accidentally stepped on an old dried-up twig that had 1″ thorns, and one went all the way through my clog and into my foot! OW! I don’t know what it was but I hope it wasn’t one of those cactus things that cause infections.  I moved over to where there aren’t any of those nasty things plus I carry Roxie over to the pavement to do her business.  Luckily she will go anywhere; in fact I think she prefers pavement to grass!

Here’s the big thorny thing that went through my shoe:  dscn6579

I finally got my photo adapter to work, so now I can post pictures again! Here’s my campsite at Tinkle Park in Gary, TX:

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And I bought a Christmas tree, isn’t it cute?! It’s about 6″ tall.    dscn6578

So tomorrow, only 100 miles to Big Bend National Park! I’m excited to be able to stop driving every day and sit still for 3 days! Well I’ll still be driving around the park, but somehow that doesn’t seem as hard as dragging that camper around all day. We’re supposed to be getting an arctic blast and maybe even some snow/sleet! Oh joy.

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Texas!

I made it to Texas yesterday! It feels like I’m finally in the West, and almost there….ha ha! I always forget that Texas just goes on and on and on. I think it’ll take me 2 more days to get to Big Bend!  Last night I parked overnight (free) at Tinkle Park near Carthage, TX. You’d think a place with a name like Tinkle Park would at least have a vault toilet! But no, just picnic tables and trash bins. It was right on a nice lake though, and very quiet. I was the only one there.

Today was the third day of driving in rain. What happened to the nice drought??! I hate driving in the rain! I can’t use my cruise control so it’s much more tiring, not to mention that bit about not being able to see worth a darn. I’m not making very good time; I’m only doing a couple hundred miles a day. I got off I-20 just inside the Texas line and am cutting cross-county down to hit I-10 a little west of San Antonio. This route skips ALL the big cities, and I like traveling the 2-and 4-lane highways. I was on a 2 lane highway today that had a speed limit of an astounding 75 mph!!  Are you KIDDING??!  I still went my usual 60 mph.  Then I ran up on a huge oversized THING that was being moved with a police escort. They were going 2-3 mph and every time they came to an overhead line, a bucket truck had to go ahead of them and lift it up so the THING could get through! I don’t know why they didn’t move over and let some of the traffic pass at some point.

I stopped at Woody’s Smokehouse in Centerville, TX….interesting place that sells all kinds of store-made sausage, jerky, baked goods, candies, jellies and some TX souvenirs. I liked looking at all the “stuff” and I bought a small jar of their cherry preserves.  I like to put preserves on my sourdough pancakes.

And tonight I’ve made my very first Wal-Mart overnight stop. I’m in Rockville? Rockwood? Rock something. There are a couple 18-wheelers plus 3 or 4 other RV’s here and it seems OK if al little noisy. I assume it’ll quiet down later.  I hope tomorrow’s drive will be rain-free!

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Uncategorized

A Slight Delay

Yesterday I set out on my big trip to AZ and failed at finding a free campsite! I was in Tuscaloosa, AL and the Wal-Mart didn’t allow overnight parking and neither did the Cracker Barrel or even the Flying J Truck Stop! (Flying J didn’t allow RV’s) So I ended up at Sunset RV Park in Cottondale; full hookups including cable TV and good wifi signal and nice spacious sites for $29. Gosh that’s more than I planned to spend on the next 6 months of camping total!!!

As soon as I exited I-20 I heard my brakes making a terrible grinding noise….oh no! So early this morning I took the car to the Firestone dealer. I dropped the camper and took the car in, told the guy the brakes were making terrible noises. When they checked them out, they said the front brakes were in great shape but the rear brakes really needed replacing, they were almost down to the rotors. They also said my brake fluid was really dirty and needed changing (to the tune of an extra $60) When they add stuff like that I always wonder if it really needs it, or are they looking to make a little extra. There’s no way for me to know but now I have nice clean brake fluid. Oh and they didn’t hear any noises!!  Hmmm, how strange!

Well Princess Roxie and I sat in their waiting room from 8:20 until 1:00 and then I paid my $239 and hooked back up to the camper. As soon as I started out, there’s that screeching noise again. It was the TRAILER brakes, not the car!!  So now I need those too!! I just dialed them back on the brake controller so they’re not working now; I’m sure they can wait until I get to Yuma. Luckily my camper is light enough that it really doesn’t need brakes (until that deer steps out in front of me….) Well we’ll just hope that doesn’t happen.  I know I would not be able to find a trailer place to work on it on a Sunday, and I’m not going to waste any more time sitting around. I wanted Firestone to lube the bearings on the trailer but they said it had to be hoisted up and they didn’t have any way to do that with the trailer. (??) I guess that means I need to find a trailer repair place.

I only drove 180 miles today and it was raining the whole time. I really hate towing the camper in the rain. I found a Cracker Barrel that allows overnight parking, near Jackson, MS. I had my route all planned out but now I’ll have to do it all over again because of today’s low mileage. I think it’s also supposed to rain all day tomorrow so I’d better not plan on driving for a real long time; it really tires me out.

BUT….we’re on our way, just a little slower than I’d hoped. And a lot more expensive. Two people in the Firestone waiting room commented on how well-behaved Roxie is.  Haha, if they only knew what a demanding little brat she is at times!

 

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Squirrels…ugh!

Well I successfully made it through another birthday. I loved being with friends on my birthday but am not crazy about being 68.  I’m now camped with my 3 best camping buddies at Twin Lakes CG near Clemson, SC. It’s one of our favorite places; an Army Corps of Engineers campground with nearly all sites lakefront, with water & electric for $13 a night with the Federal geezer pass. I believe it will be one of the very few times I’ll be paying for campsites in the coming year! Due to the drought, the lake is WAY far away from the campsites now, with a huge beach.

On Tuesday, a stupid squirrel chewed through my less-than-a-month-old propane pigtail; the hose that goes from the regulator to the tank. And naturally, the one on my camper is an odd size; it’s got a 3/8″ connection. I ran all over town Tuesday afternoon searching for the right sized pigtail and/or an adapter to get it from the (apparently) standard 1/4″ to 3/8″, with no success. I even thought of replacing the regulator, but it’s a non-standard size too! The outlet on mine is 1/2″ and the standard size now is 3/8″. I guess that’s the penalty for having a 13 year old camper.

On Wednesday morning I called 13 different places in Anderson, about 1/2 hour away, and nobody had one, but finally a mobile home parts place had an adapter. We went to lunch at the Red Lobster in Anderson for my birthday (very yumm!) and got the $3 part. I got it all put back together yesterday afternoon and it works! So that squirrel’s little snack cost me around $40….$27 for a new pigtail, $3 for the adapter and around $10 worth of propane that escaped. I hope the blast of propane in his face taught him a lesson! I did read that squirrels are attracted to rubber hoses, etc. But I kept wondering, WHY ME??  Why not the people on either side of me who also have exposed propane hoses that are the standard size & easily replaceable, and who have way more money than I do???   My chronic bad luck continues to stalk me. I wrapped the new hose with aluminum foil; that’s supposed to make it unattractive to squirrels. There’s also a coil thingie that I’ll get to cover the hose, for around $11.

I got new internet-ordered glasses! I got them from a place called EyeBuyDirect.com.  They have a no-questions-asked return policy, and many of the others don’t. But thankfully, the new glasses are amazing. I put them on and said “WOW!” two or three times. So nice to be able to see again.

I leave this morning to head west to Arizona! Eventually. First I’m stopping off at Big Bend and Guadalupe National Parks in Texas. I dread that long long drive.

Sorry no photos; I’ve misplaced the little adapter that allows me to get photos off the camera disc and into the laptop! I was going to buy another one but I decided it was too expensive. I know mine is in here somewhere; it must have fallen out of the camera case.

 

 

Categories
North Carolina

Fun With Fire Extinguishers

ACK! I pulled out a plastic bin from under the bed and my fire extinguisher sent a big blast of super-fine powder into my FACE!  The extinguisher was laying down and Roxie dish was in front of it, I guess I put pressure on the trigger by pulling out the bin. I didn’t notice that the safety pin thing had fallen out! I scooped up Roxie and dashed out the door, leaving it open. Huge clouds of yellow dust kept billowing out as I was gagging and choking. (Roxie seemed unaffected though she did have some yellow hair) A bit later I went back in and turned on the roof fan to suck some of it out but there’s this fine yellow dust EVERYWHERE.  What a mess! And all that from only a 1 second blast. So today turned out to be a cleaning day.

The hair on the side of my head was all yellow too and even though I rinsed it with water a couple times, it’s still sticky. It did, however, give it a LOT Of body! I believe I could effortlessly brush my hair to stand straight up and it would stay that way. However that look doesn’t seem to be “me”.

We have moved to a nice meadow site in the Uwharrie National Forest. The camper is facing the full sun all day long on the door side and I couldn’t put up my little canopy because the poles are buried in the back of the car somewhere behind the back seat. With the sun so low in the sky, I’m not sure the canopy would help that much anyway.  We are under an oak tree that is dropping acorns on us though…sounds like hail! Luckily they are very small.

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That black “thing” is a shade cloth I’ve rigged up over Roxie’s exercise pen.

There’s a nice trail through the woods for horses so Roxie and I hiked a little bit of it. My knee is feeling MUCH better so we were able to go about 1/8 mile before it even got a twinge of pain. We turned around then and came back but I am pretty sure I could have gone farther. I’m going to try and do this every day, maybe it will strangthen my knee. Frankly I tend to not do anything because I am terrified that I’ll hurt it again.  I was thrilled to be able to do that 1/4 mile!!

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A Walk In The Woods

When I first got here, I had good Verizon cell service but only 1 bar of 4G wifi service on my ATT Unite hotspot. I need 2 bars in order to do anything. Then I remembered the little antenna I bought on ebay for $17. I was really disappointed when it arrived because it’s only about a foot tall! It has a magnetic base which is kind of a problem in an aluminum camper, but I just propped it up as high as I could and lo and behold, it boosted it just enough to be able to work!! Yippee!

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Time To Move On

We have spent a very productive two weeks here in Asheville, crossing a lot of items off my To-Do List! In fact the only things left on it are a trip to Wal-Mart for a few items, and some sewing projects which I hope my friend Jeanne will help with.

My house-sitting job ended on Wednesday. I spent a good part of that day toting stuff back to the camper that I’d taken to the house over the course of the week. Ugh! Why so much STUFF??  I bought too much food for the PJ Party and had to find places to stash that plus I bought some things on Amazon; now the camper is bulging!  But I do have a lot of free space in the car, I just haven’t gotten around to reorganizing that space yet.

Jenni finished up the propane projects today, testing all the new propane connections with soapy water and installing my new pigtail (the hose that goes from the propane tank to the regulator). Naturally the 24″ pigtail I ordered from Amazon had the wrong size connection to fit into my regulator, so Jenni made another trip all over town looking for an adapter. You wouldn’t think that would be so hard!  Well, turns out it was impossible. She ended up finding a 5′ extension hose that would fit both ends, so now I have a 7′ hose instead of the 2′ one I really needed. The excess is wrapped around the propane tanks and zip-tied so it doesn’t drag on the ground. Poor Jenni is always amazed at how complicated a perfectly simple job can become when it involves ME. The Paquette luck (or lack of it) holds true again.

Once it was all done, I said maybe I should test the new heater tonight, since it’s going to be in the 30’s. I believe she turned a bit pale, and said “while it’s under our carport?” Yeah, and right next to your Airstream, too!  Haha! Guess I’ll hold off on the testing until I get to Jeanne’s house tomorrow. Maybe I can manage to blow up their garage.

Here is my new little Olympian Wave 3 heater, isn’t it cute! And the ingenious way we invented to hang it from my cabinet without putting any screws into the door. It hangs quite securely from an over-door hook that has the triple hooks cut off, and the propane line attaches with a quick-connect fitting. I can even still open the cabinet and get stuff out of it while the heater is attached! (Though I won’t do that if the heater is running). I usually only run the heat at night. If I need to take the chill off during the day, I can just turn the stovetop on for a few minutes. (adequately ventilated, of course) With this type of mount, it’ll be easy to store the heater in the car when not needed.

Saturday….I’m now at Jeanne’s in High Point for a few nights. I’m parked in her driveway and have a very classy golf course view.

 

Yesterday we drove about an hour to check out some free campsites in the Uwharrie National Forest. I will go there until our next WACS gathering near Clemson, SC on November 27. I really am ready to be alone againl for awhile….I’ve been around people for weeks now! Nobody is bugging me or anything, but my already-limited social skills are growing thin. Funny, it doesn’t matter how much I might love my friends, I just really need lots and lots of alone-time.

Jeanne and I have really done a great job on our sewing projects! We made two slipcovers for Roxie’s little sling bed. Even though it’s just a simple sling and she can’t possibly do anything to make it “more comfortable”, she digs and digs at it until she gets it just right (in her own head). So she’s made a big hole in the middle.  This exact bed doesn’t not appear to be made any more, so I had to fix it.

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We made two very simple slipcovers from some quilted material I had on hand. They are easily removed for washing and I didn’t even have to go through the work of putting a patch on the hole.        dscn6554

I also made two different covers from oilcloth for the new heater; the catalytic pad is supposed to be covered any time it’s not in use, as dust on the pad is not good. So I needed a front coverage one for when it’s hanging on the cabinet and a full-coverage envelope-style one for when it’s stored in the car. The covers are nothing to brag about but they’ll do the job.  We made a foam pad that slips onto the armest of my car so I really CAN rest my arm on it while driving. I used a 2″ piece of foam to get it to the right height, and covered it with fleece with elastic straps.  And we almost have my jeans hemmed. We tried to do it on the sewing machine but it didn’t want to go through that heavy denim material, so I ended up hemming by hand.  What a productive visit to NC….I actually got everything done that was on my list! The only thing left to do is to reorganize the back seat area of the car, though I don’t know why I bother….as soon as I move one thing, everything else fluffs up and takes up twice the space!

Oh I just passed the milestone of living in the camper on the road for 18 months!

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North Carolina

Wandering Around Asheville

On Tuesday, Jenni helped install the propane line for my new Olympian Wave 3 heater. (As usual, that means she did all the work while I sat around being supportive) She had to crawl up inside the very small outside storage compartment!  What a good sport.

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I’ve been house-and-dog sitting since Wednesday. That first day I made too many trips from the camper to the house (it’s on a hill), and too many trips in the house so my calves were killing me for the next three days! Better now but I wasn’t sure I was going to live through it.

In the camper, the “bathroom” (porta potty) is one step from the bed and the door is 2 steps. I can take Roxie out and let her go potty in about 5 steps. In this gigantic house, it’s 40′ from the living room to the bathroom, and 60′ to where the dogs can go potty!  My knee is doing surprisingly well in spite of all the exercise.

Thurs-Sun I hosted the third annual Pajama Party with two friends. We had a great weekend of good food & good company! On Friday we drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Pisgah Inn and had lunch. I believe the fall color is at it’s peak! The sun was coming from the wrong direction to get really good photos.

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Jake really took a shine to my friend Patricia, who played with him a lot. He’s usually not that friendly. On Saturday morning he snuck into her bedroom for a cuddle, and he’s not allowed in that room. Bad Jake….bad Patricia for leaving the door open!  He was ushered back out quickly.

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Jack has some wind chimes that he pushes with his nose when he wants to go out, and a sort of doorbell that he steps on when he wants to come in.  It takes some getting used to, when the doorbell rings and it’s the DOG!

One of my friends noticed this huge snake in the strawberry patch:

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We were all agog until finally we realized it never moves……it’s an inflatable snake to keep out the strawberry-eating critters!!  I don’t know if it works for them but WE weren’t going to go anywhere near the strawberries!

Princess Roxie got a haircut today. I hated doing it; I like her to have the natural coat her breed (Havanese) is supposed to have. If I could bathe her often, she’d never get matted but I just don’t have access to that much water, and she’s horrible about being brushed or combed. So off with it! I took her to a friend who has a grooming salon and he’s really good; he gave her a very cute scissors cut. The only thing she got to keep was her long tail. The rest is about 2″ long all over. And she can SEE now, without all that hair falling into her face. I don’t hate it as much as I thought it would. Maybe in a few days I’ll even think it’s cute. (That’s Jake’s doorbell at the top right of the first photo)

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North Carolina

Asheville, NC

I left Pinckney, MI and only drove an hour, to the Cabela’s in Dundee. I knew the next day was going to be a long drive because I wanted to make it to the free parking at the KY Artisan Center in Berea. Boy am I glad I did that, because on Thursday it rained all day and there were several big slowdowns where the traffic only went 20-30 mph for long periods of time. And isn’t it weird that sometimes there never seems to be a REASON for that??  Anyway those added more than an hour to my trip. It was a miserable driving day. I didn’t make it to Berea either; I ended up staying at a Cracker Barrel in Richmond, KY. I was the only RV there but their parking area is pretty much hidden away behind the building so I didn’t feel unsafe. I much prefer overnighting at Cracker Barrels than Wal-Mart.

It rained all day Friday too but I made it to my friends’ place in Asheville by 3:00 and then it took a really long time to back the camper into it’s “hole” under the carport. There are big wooden posts on one side and their shiny Airstream camper on the other side!  Sometimes I can get it in easily but usually Jenni comes out and guide me in. No one was home so I ended up doing LOTS of to-ing and fro-ing. But now I’m all cozied in, and I have electric hookup too! Wow….microwave and toaster, woot woot! I hope I don’t get too spoiled.

I have already been chipping away at my To-Do List. I’ve got it down to 26 things, and some of them are quick 5 minute jobs. The biggest and most important job is to get Jenni’s help installing my new Olympian Wave 3 propane heater. I now carry two heaters; a 1500 btu Coleman SportCat and a 3000 btu Coleman ProCat. This new heater is tiny; 8x12x2″ thick…and it has two settings, 1600 and 3000 btu’s! Perfect. Now I won’t have to decide before it gets dark which heater I need to drag out, plus it works off the bulk propane tank so I don’t have to mess around refilling those little 1# propane bottles. The only hard part of the installation is getting the right hose connections; I want it on a quick-connect so I can take it out when winter’s over. I’m pretty sure I’m going to use over-the-door hooks to hang it from my kitchen cabinet. And I can also get rid of that nasty sharp-edged safety surround that I made; this heater will be higher so there won’t be any danger of Roxie’s tail bursting into flames if she gets near it!  It will also give me a lot more space in the car; that ProCat heater is BIG.

Starting 10/26 I’ll be house-sitting for my friends here for a week, and taking care of their dog Jake. Here’s the house……it’s got running water, flush toilets and everything!  I guess it’s oh, about 50 times the size of my camper??!!       dscn6545

I’m having our Third Annual PJ Party during that week, with some of my camping lady friends; and another camping friend from Colorado will be stopping by to visit too!

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Michigan Upper Peninsula

Heading South

As I was leaving Mackinaw City Friday I stopped off at the Big Stone Bay Fishery off Hwy. 23. Their whitefish was $2 a pound cheaper than Kreuger’s in town!  I asked for 1 1/2 lbs. and ended up with over 2 lbs. (3 big filets) but he only charged me for the 1.5 lbs! Nice guy; I’ll definitely shop there again! The whitefish and salmon was $8 a lb. and the walleye was $10. Oh and they had really fresh farm eggs for $3 a dozen!  I made a “sauce” of fresh tomato chunks, green and red bell peppers, onions and lemon juice; cooked that for a few minutes on top of the stove then sprinkled the fish with Zatarain’s Blackened Seasoning (it’s really not super hot) and poured the sauce over it, sealed the foil packets and baked it in the oven for 20 minutes. It was really good!!

I’ve spent the last few days at friends’ house in Pinckney, MI. (Thanks Jerry & Sue!) I had electricity and everything!!  I thought my battery was not holding a charge, been getting some weird readings with my little meter. So when I got there I went through all the hoop-la to get access to the battery. It’s inside the camper so I have to fold the mattress back, rearrange the plastic bins, pull out a piece of plywood and finally get to the battery. I took the cover off the battery box and just thought I’d pull the whole thing out so Jerry could put it on his charger. Wellll…..I unhooked the wires but it’s a little bit big for this battery box, and no amount of tugging and pulling would get it out of there! It’s permanently stuck. We were afraid that any further pulling would break the little plastic handle.  So Jerry put his charger on it but it read fully charged in about 10 minutes! Maybe nothing wrong with the battery. When we went to hook it back up though, it kept shorting the fuses; either the in-line battery fuse or the 30 amp fuse in the panel box. We worked on the dumb thing for 4 hours and finally had to give up….it makes NO SENSE!!  There must be a short somewhere. I wonder if mice or chipmunks have snacked on the wiring??  I have an appointment with a Certified Master RV Technician in Asheville on the 26th. In the meantime, unless I’m plugged in somewhere, I have zero power and have to rely on flashlights and my handy-dandy inflatable solar lights. http://amzn.to/2doQW7z   I love them and use them daily. Er I guess I should say nightly. But I still really miss the much brighter LED camper lights when cooking.

While I was in that area I spent the weekend with an old friend Cindy from way back when I was 4 and she was 2, and visited with Ron & Kathy (I went all the way from kindergarten through high school with Ron) and my friend Tam (a friend since 7th grade) It was great to see them all, and they all fed me too!!  NICE!

On Saturday Cindy and I went to Obstbaum Orchards in Salem, MI. It’s a small place with parking for only about 30 cars, and only open on the weekends. They had a Buy 1 Get 1 Free offer for gallons of apple cider so of course we got two, and a dozen of their sugary donuts. Unlike most of the larger cider mills, there was only a few minutes’ wait in line, and they had a bunch of picnic tables both inside and out, where you can sit and drink your cider and eat the donuts. They also sell homemade pie!  So we sat awhile and enjoyed the nice weather. There were a lot of bees trying to drink our cider right along with us though! While we had our cups right up to our faces they’d still try to sneak inside!!  A little too close for comfort. But that was some of the very best cider I’ve had in years!  The donuts were good but they would have been better if they’d been hot.  We also got a 1/2 peck of Honey  Crisp apples for $4, I think that’s a really good price.

This afternoon I hooked up and drove down to Cabela’s in Dundee, MI. It’s not far from Jerry & Sue’s but it will save me an hour’s drive tomorrow; my next free parking spot on the way to NC is at the arts center in Berea, KY. Probably a 6 hrs. drive tomorrow, and then another 6 hr. drive on Friday to get me to Asheville.

I put my 2 gallon water jug on the floor when I packed up, and the floor and Roxie’s bed was wet when I arrived here!  A mystery. I moved the water jug over to the kitchen counter and forgot about it. I kept hearing a little tapping sound and even went over and tried to figure out what it was…..later I realized it was water dripping onto the floor. I guess (duh!) that water jug has sprung a leak. My only roll of toilet paper is soaked! So I carefully unrolled some bits and pieces and have draped them around the camper so they’ll dry.      tp

The bad thing about this Cabela’s is that it’s right across the street from a Russell Stover Candy outlet. Oh dear.

 

Categories
Arizona Michigan Utah

Mackinaw City

Well here we are again at French Farm Lake, just outside of Mackinaw City. This is where we started out in June! We have a different campsite, though as I went past, all six of them were empty and available. There now is a group of tent campers next door. It’s been very quiet here except for occasional gunfire…..it’s hunting season, (Poor Roxie, she hates that). We have had some really nice weather!    dscn6537

I went to town today to run some errands….needed propane, and had a really hard time finding someplace who’d refill my tanks. All I could find were the exchange tanks which only give you 15# of propane instead of 20, and they cost $22.96 plus tax. I finally remembered the big Mill Creek Campground outside of town on Hwy. 23 and they had it! And only $18 for a 20# fill.  BTW if you don’t want to boondock in Mackinaw City, they have “Economy” water/electric campsites for $11-13! They are, of course, towards the front of the campground & nowhere near the lake. Still, it’s a great bargain.

Here’s my favorite Mackinaw City “landmark”….Weinerlicious, with their gigantic hot dog on top of the building. (No, I haven’t eaten here)dscn6531

And here’s the Mackinaw City lighthouse, with the “Mighty Mac” Mackinac Bridge in the background.

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I plan to stay here until Friday, then head to Pinckney & Novi, Michigan to visit with friends.

I hate to even mention it, but in the 18 months I’ve been free camping, I have never yet not been able to get a free site, even though some places only had one or two sites! I hope I’m not jinxing myself saying that.

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Categories
Michigan Upper Peninsula

Fall Is Here!

dscn6522Fall is here! I think we’re at peak color now, and the woods around here are just gorgeous.

Today was Unpleasant Task Day, evidently. That’s kinda how it turned out, anyway. Yesterday poor Roxie had dire-rear and got it on her pantaloons. It’s really hard to clean up a mess like that without much water. Apparently I didn’t do a good job at all because this morning when she tried to go again, it got kinda stuck in the poopy-matted hair from yesterday. (No wonder the camper smelled so bad last night) Aaarrrgh!  So I had no choice, I had to figure out how to bathe her nether regions. I dipped a bucketful of water from the lake and heated some on the stove, then dunked her back half in the bucket to get her wet. Then I stood her on a towel on the picnic table and managed to loosen all the nasty gook and wash her up a bit with my no-rinse shampoo, then another dunk to rinse everything off. It worked out better than I thought, as she didn’t fight being dunked. I thought about bathing her in the lake but that would have involved ME having to wade in, and it’s cold!

I absolutely HAD to do laundry today; I’d put it off as long as I could. So I went to town and did that and picked up a few groceries, got some cheap gas as the indian gas station (I think they don’t have to pay tax, so they don’t charge tax?) It’s always at least $.15 a gallon cheaper than anywhere else!   And the third unpleasant task was to dump the porta-potty in the vault toilet.  Phew. I feel so virtuous, for getting all that done in one day!

Here are more leaf-peeper photos. I love being up here for the color change! These were all taken from my campsite.

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Categories
Michigan Upper Peninsula

Keweenaw Peninsula

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Jacob’s Falls – Eagle River

On Wednesday we went adventuring a little bit….to The Jampot in Eagle River to get some of their really good red cherry jam. It’s run by monks from the Holy Transfiguration Skete.

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They were out of the cherry jam, wahhhh! But I did get some really good oatmeal-chocolate chip-raisin-peanut butter cookies. They’re just as good as I remembered. They have GREAT baked goods as well as the jams & jellies. Just up the road a tiny bit is Jacob’s Falls (above).

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The Canadian Geese are heading south!  The trees are changing color and the maples are really gorgeous but I just read that peak color up here is not expected for another two weeks. It’s really late this year, maybe because of the unusual heat we had?   dscn6461

Finally on Friday we got some sunshine! My camper battery power was getting seriously low since we hadn’t seen the sun for so long. And our campsite is not good for solar power; I have to keep moving the panel constantly. I don’t require much power though, so I think this will be fine for as long as we’re staying.

My only big find after the storm was a frisbee. Big whoop! Seems like there whould be dozens of agates just begging to be found, but I was not the person to find them. In order to really see them, the rocks have to be wet. The storm surge pushed up a 3’ hill of stones and it was impossible to get to the water side without actually getting my feet wet, and I’d already had enough of Lake Superior’s waters! It even changed the whole mouth of the river; closed it off so now the river runs parallel to the shore for about 50’ before spilling into the lake.

Near Calumet there’s a snowfall measure….record snowfall here was 390 inches.  Can you imagine?! “Normal” snowfall is only around 20′. TWENTY FEET of snow!     dscn6484snow

I am so mad! TWICE now the folks at Ottawa National Forest have given me wrong information! Now they say the campgrounds are free after November 1, not October 1. I guess I’ll probably end up back at Bond Falls Flowage then….I’ll have to do more research.

 

Categories
Michigan Upper Peninsula

Back to Lake Superior

On Sunday we all split up….Deb left headed for home in Gulf Shores, Donna left for downstate Michigan via Marquette, and I went to the Keweenaw Peninsula (far northwestern corner of the Upper Peninsula). I had heard of a free dispersed campground near Ahmeek. Well I found it, but talk about a bad road! It was about 5 miles after turning off the main road, and I thought my GPS was wrong when it said it was going to take 32 minutes to go the last 3 miles. Nope….it was right!  It’s a teeny one lane 5 mph sand road and since it’d been raining, it had HUGE puddles that were more like shallow ponds, and a lot of squirmy places where I just had to keep pushing through or get stuck. N0w that I’m here at Gratiot River Park, it’s pretty nice; no amenities but the sites are right on Lake Superior!  Maybe it’ll bring up some new agates…. I need more rocks. Riiiiight.  I don’t know how long I’ll stay here; it’s fine if I just want to sit and not go anywhere but the ATT signal is not strong enought to run the wifi hotspot, and very intermittent Verizon signals for the phone.

Donna Morey joined up with us for a few days last week.  She has a gigantic 18 ft. Chalet A-frame camper (it even has a bathroom with shower!)  I met her in Cottonwood, AZ at an a-frame rally she hosted last February. She’s in Michigan visiting her daughters and grandkids and she came to be with us on the way!   dscn6420

There was an old apple tree near our campsite that was loaded down with little bitty apples and they were GOOD!  Here’s a photo of some sitting next to a small store-bought apple. Those little cuties are only about 1.5” in diameter!   dscn6419

We were getting overrun with mice at Bond Falls!  Deb’s had mice in her camper since April, and I found evidence of mice in my car!!  Yikes. I think it’s that time of year where they are looking for indoor accomodations. My car is so stuffed with things, what a horror trying to find mouse nests! I took everything out of the back seat and removed all the food items, and didn’t find any nests so maybe I discovered them early on. I got some traps and caught two and now none for the past 2 nights so maybe that’s all there was??  One can only hope. I’ll continue to set the trap at night for awhile though. Deb has a much worse problem; pretty sure they’ve set up housekeeping in her camper. We think there were a lot of mice at Bond Falls who were looking for a new home. She’s got some big gaps in her camper that need a nice contortionist to fill them. (i.e. someone not as old as us)

Here are some pics from our excursion to Bond Falls, which was just a couple miles up the road from our campsite.  It’s one of the best falls in the whole state, and it’s different because there are stairs going up alongside the falls….you get the perspective from below, from next to them, and from above them!  I did not do the stairs this time….trying to save my knee.

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Wood Ducks (?) at the falls pond:   dscn6458

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Donna and I at the falls

My first full day here we had 35 mph sustained winds, with gusts up to 50! And rain that was driven straight sideways. The camper was rocking and really rather scary….I thought my weight might be the only thing keeping it from tumbling up the road! The lake was magnificently angry, with really high waves & crashing surf. It brought a giant set of tree roots in and then the next day, they were gone….pushed 100’ down the shore. The next day the winds were “only” 18 mph but it rained most of the day. Today is sunny! The lake has calmed quite a bit but still has good sized waves. I went walking along the shoreline looking for agates when a giant rogue wave came at me! I backed up as fast as I could but my crocs didn’t like that and I ended up flat on my back, with the next wave completely washing over me! Oh how fun. Lake Superior hates me! And now I have a soaking wet sweatshirt, sweat pants and socks to try and get dry. I don’t recommend trying to swim in this lake in late September.

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I guess this afternoon we’ll try to get back out of here. The road was bad coming in and now after two solid days of rain, it should be really interesting. I pray we don’t get lost in any of the huge mudpuddles……er more like mudponds!

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