* RV Travelogue 2012 *



1 JAN, MERIDIAN MS -- We had a New Year's Eve party with two of our adult children and our two grandchildren, watching movies and snacking until viewing "The Moon Pie Drop" on TV, making the coming of 2012 in Alabama. Rather than a late night drive back to the RV park, we spent the night at the house. After not nearly enough sleep, we all New RV Coverwent to church and then returned to the grandkids home where we joined with all our children and the two grandchildren for the very necessary New Year's Day lunch of ham, blackeyed peas, and greens (though some of us aren't terribly partial to the greens part of the lunch). After lunch we said our goodbyes, returned to the RV park, and headed East toward TX, making apx 170 miles to Meridian MS before stopping for the night. In Meridian we stayed at Benchmark RV Park. Benchmark is a Passport America park, and at the Passport 1/2 price rate (+$3 for 50a service), our night cost us $19.25. It is a very neatly kept park with nice concrete pads and easy access for big rigs. The free WIFI works very well, and free CATV is offered with a few channels. We stayed here overnight in early January 2004 on our return to Alabama from New Mexico ...sure doesn't seem like that was 8 years ago! After a peaceful night, we departed at 8am and arrived back at our new home in East Texas about 3:30pm, ready to meet the work crew arriving in the morning to erect the new RV cover to protect the motorhome from the annual Texas hail season in the Spring! Other than the discomfort/queasiness I felt at watching some of the hairy "safety" practices of the crew in their building process, the build went well ...completed in apx 6 hours. After I got some acrylic sealer on the slab over the following few days, the motorhome fit quite nicely in it's new "dock". We have 50a power installed, and put two runs of 4" conduit under the slab for later addition of water, sewer, etc. For now, we can reach the fresh water and sewer clean-out at the rear of the house with a 50' fresh water hose extension, and a sewer macerator pump with 80 ft of 1" flexible line. Since water or sewer usage will be a rare event from the parking site, that works very well for now, and could even be the "permanent" solution.

1-2 MAR, GILMER TX -- In looking for a local RV group to rally with (the motorhome needs "exercise" you know), we went online and found the Ramblin' Rose WITs ...the local chapter of the Winnebago Itasca Travelers. After a couple of months of emails back and forth, we found ourselves able to attend their March muster at Watts RV Park Daffodil Gardensjust south of Gilmer TX. The RV park is just under 45 miles from our home in Whitehouse, just right for a local outing and a great chance to discover our neighborhood! We left Whitehouse just after 12 noon, and arrived at Watts RV park apx 12 miles North of Big Sandy just after 1pm. Watts RV Park is a well-developed RV park about 1 mile off SR 155. Most sites have nice concrete slabs with patio and picnic tables. And the free WIFI actually WORKS -- all right!!!! This was a great chance to test our connectivity with the new Toshiba Tablet ...we actually took an RV trip without a computer on board! :) We had a great time with the Ramblin' Rose WIT group (Jean got away with more nickels than she lost in the ladies' Joker Board game sessions each afternoon), and we plan to muster with them again when we are not on the road. Friday afternoon the group drove a few miles SE to tour Mrs Lee's Daffodil Garden south of Gladewater. Recent heat had done much damage to the Daffodils, but those remaining were still a beautiful sight across the rolling hills. In the pic on the left, you see Jean in front of a small patch of Daffodils near the log cabin on the property. Saturday morning, after pulling out of our site we stopped at the store/grill at the RV park and took the time to enjoy a couple of great Western Omelots before returning to our new home in Whitehouse. It was a pleasant couple of days, and helped us get back in the RVing groove after a couple of months of "stick-house living." Our nightly cost at Watts RV park was $25 at the "small rally" rate.

13-15 MAR, GLADEWATER TX -- Looking for fellow retired military RVers ChaiseLoungein East Texas, we decided to host a muster of the SMART Texans Chapter ...we coordinated with the chapter president, emailed all chapter members, and also got a list of SMART members in East Texas and emailed every other elegible prospective member we could find in the area. The location was Antique Capital RV Park on the South side of Gladewate TX ..."the antique capital of East Texas". We arrived on Tuesday just after noon, a short 32 mile drive from our home in Whitehouse. Gladewater claims to have over 200 antique and craft dealers in over 30 antique malls & shops ...we didn't count, but that is probably pretty accurate! They range from the very low end flea market type to the high end exotic antiques. We spent two afternoons browsing the shops, and spent more than we really intended too, but got some great deals along the way. We had to take the rear seats out of the Honda and stow them in the storage bays under the MH (fortunately the storage bays are nearly empty since we are no longer fulltiming) to get the 7ft long chaise lounge into the Honda (pictured at right). We had a great time with the SMART Texans, and the chapter picked up three new members (including us!). While in Gladewater, our Shurflo 5.7gpm water pump failed for the seventh time in 7 years ...replaced under warranty every time ...not sure if we want to continue with same model again ...nice that we carry a backup pump and have become very proficient at changing it out... We got back to our homebase in Whitehouse shortly after 11am. Our cost for three nights (rally price, which included use of the smaller rally building), was $25 per night. I have no doubt we will be returning to Gladewater for more antique & flea market browsing!

17-21 APR, ALEDO TX -- After 3 1/2 months of dealing the "stick" house, it was time for some RVing, so we headed Leroy for Aledo TX and the SMART SMW (South Mid-West) Regional Muster. The gathering was at Cowtown RV Park just west of Ft Worth, and consisted of chapters from Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. We had a good turn-out, and a great time with other chapter members from the region. There was lots of food each evening along with some good musical entertainment. During soem free time we worked in a drive West a few miles to do some window shopping in Weatherford. After admiring the historic courthouse building on the square in the center of town, and browsing some antique shops both on and off the square, we found a couple of western style furniture shops and ended up taking a free-standing hatrack (now we can move the hats from the motorhome to the "stick" house! ...or at least part of them ...) and a "time-out" cowboy doll home with us. Here's "Leroy the Tongue-Tied Cowboy" hanging out in the motorhome. While enroute to Aledo from East Texas, we learned Jean's mother was in the hospital in Ft Worth, so we also worked in some visits with her and stayed around a couple of extra days for more hospital visits. Our cost per night during the rally was $25. For the two extra nights we used our Passport America membership for $16.25 per night.

22-26 APR, GUTHRIE OK -- While Jean awaited the final report from her mother's doctors in Ft Worth, Paul & Maggie made the 240 mile drive north to Guthrie OK, our next scheduled stop. It was a pleasant drive up I-35 with stops at Cabela's north of Ft Worth, a rest area south of OK City, and the Flying J in Edmond where we took on 56 gallon of diesel at $4.86 per gallon ... a great price nowadays! About 20 miles later, we arrived at Cedar Valley RV Park & Golf Resort just west of Guthrie. Guthrie has become an almost yearly stop to visit family members, and to enjoy the historic town. While awaiting our forwarded mail, Paul visited with family members and did a few small maintenance tasks on the motorhome. One accomplishment was the amazing improvement the $10 Walmart kit made to the badly weathered headlights on the Honda ...no sanding required, just a few minutes of elbow grease with the provided applicator and rubbing compound, then a quick polish!! Our cost per night at Cedar Valley came out to $23, using Passport America for the first night and the normal nightly rate of $25 for the four remaining nights.

27 APR-23 MAY, SAGINAW TX -- The doctor's report for Jean's mother was not good, so Paul returned to the Ft Worth area where Jean could spend more time with her mother and sister. We parked the motorhome at Fowler's RV Park North of Saginaw where our nightly rate for 3 nights short of a month was $11.50. Fowler's isn't anything fancy, but it is convenient and it works. We celebrated Jean's birthday at Joe's Crab Shack, and made a visit to the Ft Worth Stockyard district where we always figure out a way to spend some money. About three weeks through the month, our daughter flew in from Atlanta to spend a few days with the family before heading to Albuquerque for a reunion with the other side of the family.

24 MAY, TUCUMCARI NM -- It was a pleasant day's drive Westward, and after stopping at Flying J in Amarillo for 50 gallon of diesel at $3.89/gallon, we pulled over in late afternoon (earlier than we thought due to the time zone change) at the Cactus RV Park in Tucumcari NM. We could easily have driven further, but we did not want to go all the way to Albuquerque that day, so this was a good place to stop. Cactus is on the grounds of one of the old US 66 hotels that where thriving businesses at one time. It is a Passport America park that provides 50% off normal rates, so our overnight cost for a full-hookup shaded site was $18.50. There were few other overnight RVers, and very little traffic on Old US 66, so it was a very peaceful night. For supper we walked next door to Del's Restaurant ...a famous and well-rated eating location that promised "Del-ishious" fare! It was indeed, pretty good.

25 MAY-5 JUN, ALBUQUERQUE NM -- It was an easy drive from Tucumcari to Albuquerque. After a stop at Albuquerque Flying J for 40 gallon of diesel at $3.79/gallon, we arrived at High Desert RV Park just West of Albuquerque just after 1pm. Our sons, daughter in law and grandchildren flew in that night, and we had a great time over the weekend swimming, cooking out, exploring, and hanging out with a crowd of folks ranging in age T-Bird from 1 yr old to the mid-60's. One outing was visiting a gathering of the Tumbleweed Flatheads Club where we got to see a bunch of beautifully restored Ford's ranging from the 30's to the 50's. Paul also managed to get in two short bicycle rides on the fantastic Bosque Trail along the Rio Grande, once with our daughter, and once with our grandson, his brother, and a friend. While in Albuquerque our daughter departed, and we were joined by our two grandkids who will be with us for the next 6 weeks. We worked in our normal visit to Palms Trading Company to check out their supply of Native American jewelry, and as normal, left a bit poorer $$-wise. During the last couple of days in town we made a service visit to Chisolm Trail RV Sales to have the annual roof sealant check performed ...no repair necessary!! ...the beautiful T-Bird here was in the lobby, but they didn't seem interested in letting it leave with me. ): High Desert RV Park is on top of Nine-Mile Hill west of Albuquerque, and is a very nice park with spacious pull-through sites and good utilities. Our only complaint was that their WIFI was via TengoNet at $4.95 a day/$14.95 a week ...we learned several years ago NOT to use Tengo as it is overpriced and too often does not work. Our cost at High Desert was $220/week+ meteredelectric, which came out to $18.33/night since we left two days early and they declined to charge us for the electric since we left early.

6-10 JUN, BOILING SPRINGS SP, OK -- We left High Desert at 8am, hit a brief traffic jam going through Albuquerque, and then the rest of the 523 mile drive to Boiling Springs State Park just North of Woodward OK was very pleasant. We stopped at a truck stop/Subway in the middle of nowhere in Eastern NM for lunch, stopped at Flying J in Amarillo for 54 gallon of diesel at $3.76/gallon, and arrived at BSSP at apx 5pm. Boiling Springs has two campgrounds, but only 10 sites with 50a electric and sewer connections, located in the upper campground. We got the only empty full-hookup site ...very unusual to see the campground so full. A welcome improvement this year was much improved cell-phone service ...in previous years our phones sometimes worked and sometimes not ...there must be a new tower in the neighborhood! Using a WIFI hotspot off one of our cell phones, we no longer have to park outside the local libary to get on the internet!! The grandkids enjoyed the swimming pool at Boiling Springs ...they wanted to get to the "Gage Artesian Beach", the largest cold-water artesian-fed swimming pool in the United States, that they have enjoyed in the past, but it was closed when we went by. We had a good visit with family members, and scavanged some rusty barbed wire from the family farm to use in making some barbed wire crosses for family members around the country. Our cost at Boiling Springs for the "modern" site with 50a and full-hookups was $23 per night.

11 JUN, ENID, OK -- After a last visit with family members on the way out of town, we drove 100 miles East to Enid. The drive wasn't bad, but we did have a strong crosswind pushing us around most of the way. We stopped apx half way at the picnic area in the "Glass Mountains" area for lunch, and arrived in Enid about 1:30pm. Our prefered RV park was full so we went next door to High Point where we have stayed in the past. Although they supposedly put us in a site where satellite access was possible, it was not due to tall trees immediately to the South. We also found that although we were only 50 yards from the office, we were out of range of their free WIFI. We had a short visit with family members in Enid before getting a call the next morning that Jean's mother in Ft Worth was doing very poorly, so we cut short our visit in Enid and headed south in late morning. High Point RV Park graciously refunded the already paid nights, and our cost for one night was $27.

12-27 JUN, SAGINAW, TX -- It Fishin' was an uneventful drive down I-35 to Ft Worth. We filled up with 73 gallon of diesel at $3.56 a gallon at the Flying J in Ardmore OK, and arrived in Saginaw on the NW side of Ft Worth at 4pm, returning to the same site we had last month at Fowler's RV Park. Jean went to visit her mother, and was there with her sister when "Mama" passed away later in the evening. She was diagnosed with liver cancer in mid-April with a life expectancy of "6 months, probably less." She was 79. Following the funeral, we stayed in the area to visit family. The grandkids enjoyed a weekend at a family cabin at Lake Bridgeport where they got in some fishing and swimming (there IS a small fish in the photo on the left!). As we started our last week in the area, we came home from an afternoon at the movies to find the ac system in the motorhome had died ...and triple-digit temps had arrived! After checking for an easy fix and finding it was not to happen, we started calling certified repair places ...one was booked for the next four weeks, and a couple said they did not work on our type basement unit in spite of their being listed on the mfg'er website! One guy was no longer in business but refered us to a tech friend ...he was a nice guy but had no clue. Four days later the next "certified" guy showed up, but was also clue-less, admitting he had never actually seen one of these units before (how did he get certified??). Finally we decided to just tough it out for the 150 mile drive back home to East Texas where we would have a couple of months down-time to get it repaired. Althought the motorhome does have dash ac, it simply cannot handle the 40' "box" in triple-digit temps. It was a warm drive, but tolerable, and made more so by a stop about half-way to look at puppies at Texas Teacups near Forney. We filled up with 35 gallon of diesel at $35.9/gallon at a new station on the North side of Tyler, and arrived back at the home base shortly after 2pm. The nightly rate of $30 at Fowler's is rather pricey for what you get, but the weekly rate of $125 and monthly rate of $300 are very good. We stayed just over two weeks, but paid the monthly rate when we calculated that would be cheaper. Our nightly cost at the monthly rate for two weeks plus two nights was $18.75.

9-10 AUG, GLADEWATER, TX -- The motorhome spent a bit over two weeks at a service shop since the last trip. MollyMirror They found one of the two compressors in the dual-compressor ac/heatpump was "burned up." It took most of the two weeks for them to get a new compressor, and the house ac is again working. A week or so after getting the motorhome back, we got an email indicating the Ramblin' Rose WIT group in Tyler was planning a short muster in conjunction with the Good Sam Chapter from Longview in Gladewater, apx 40 miles NE. We decided that would be a good outing, give us a chance to check out the repaired ac, and give us a chance to do some more browsing in the antique shops in Gladewater. We drove up on Thursday morning and had a great time with the WIT and Good Sam folks. And we found a very large anitique shop/mall that we did not visit last time ...it cost us little under $100 to get out the door, so we decided we were through for the day and went back to the RV park! We made home-made chocolate chip mint ice cream for the potluck, experimenting with an almost sugar-free version of our normal recipe. It was a hit, and we even had a little to take home with us for another dessert later! It was very warm at Gladewater, and we felt the repaired ac is not quite working up to normal. We'll do some check on on air duct connections and other possible problems before we hit the road again. Since our last RV outing, we have adopted a new puppy ...a little Morkie. Molly is almost 3 months old, and just learning to tolerate a harness and leash. She quickly learned to go up the steps into the motorhome, but is much slower learning to go down steps ...one step is ok, but more than one just seems to much to deal with as yet! Her biggest problem was trying to figure out why that other puppy in the full length closet mirror would not come out and play with her ...she tried and tried, and she sat and whined and cried at the puppy, but it just would not come out!! It was a pleasant, though brief, muster for us as we had to return home first thing Saturday morning as we had company coming to our home for lunch! Our nightly rate at Antique Capital RV Park under the "large group" rate was $22.50.

27 AUG-2 SEP ENID, OK -- On the road again, we headed North to visit family in Oklahoma where we had to cut our early MollyMessJune visit short. After a stop at Flying J in Edmond OK for some $3.96/gallon diesel, we were once again at Hight Point RV Park in Enid. This time we got a site where we could get our satellite TV, and the free WIFI worked occasionally. We had a good week in Enid, including a visit to "the rock museum" ...a rock house containing a family's collections from years of traveling and hunting ...and also a visit to Ramsey's Everything Store. That's one you don't want to miss when you are in Enid, especially if you need a hard-to-find item! Over the weekend, we drove an hour south to visit with more family members including our oldest son and our two grandkids. And one evening we got to clean the motorhome floor when we came home to find that puppy Molly had discovered the paper in the computer printer, and pulled it out for a bit of shredding fun!! At the weekly rate at High Point, our nightly cost was $19.29.

3 SEP, LEBANON, MO -- It is a bit over 900 miles from Enid to the Elkhart Country Fairgrounds in Goshen, Indiana where we would participate in the the 2012 SMART National Muster. We learned long ago that RV travel is much more enjoyable if we don't do several long driving days back-to-back, so we planned to break this one into three pleasant days. Picking out a couple of possible RV parks on our MS Streets and Trips software and our Passport American book, we plotted a route using US and state highways through Northeast Oklahoma and Southeast Kansas designed to avoid the I-44 toll road. After linking up to I-44 in SW Missouri, we ended a pleasant day's drive of 386 miles in Lebanon MO. In spite of two GPS units on the dash, and directions in the Passport American book, it took two phone calls for us to find Forest Manor Motel & RV Park. It was located on "Old 66" which apparently does not compute in the GPS world... The RV park was located behind a small motel, arranged around a clearing in the woods. It was crude, but the utilities were good and the cost of $16.40 for the night was great.

4 SEP, CLOVERDALE, IN -- No need for an alarm clock with a new puppy on board!! ...she has learned to wake us at 7am (and often a "bit" earlier!) to let us know her tiny kidneysArch need some relief. That helps us get a reasonably early start on driving days. Back on I-44, it was another pleasant day. After a visit to the Love's in Rolla MO for 78 gallon of $4.01/gallon diesel, we were surprised at the ease with which we passed through St Louis ...traffic was extremely light. And of course we saw the Arch from a few angles, and the driver even managed to snap a few photos, one of which you see here. Several years ago when passing through in a car, we attempted a close-up visit but happened to be there when it was not open so didn't see much ...maybe we'll try that again on another pass-by in the future. After crossing Illinois, 380 miles up the road we stopped for the night near Cloverdale, Indiana at the Cloverdale RV Park. This park is located down a narrow but paved country road, and secluded in the trees. Strangely, the water and electric connections are located on the wrong side of the sites, but close enough that extensions would not normally be needed. The tree cover was too heavy for satellite TV, but the young lady who checked me in seemed to think if I parked close enough to the building where their satellite dish was mounted, that would give me satellite too ...nope, it doesn't work that way. Our cost for the night was $28.89 ...quite a difference when we are not able to use our Passport America for overnights!!

5-14 SEP, GOSHEN, IN -- As we were a bit under 200 miles from our destination in Goshen, we had planned to sleep in a bit and get a leisurely start ...but the puppy didn't go for the sleep in part! She insisted on her slightly-before-7am walk, and I have learned not to argue long with a puppy with full kidneys!! :) After leaving Indianapolis on a two-lane county highway, we ran into a very heavy rain. Fortunately, it did notArch last long and caused no driving problems. With 55 and 60mph speed limits, many small towns, and some road construction, progress was a bit slower than the two previous days. Then one of the windshield shades installed a couple of years ago in Oregon came loose on one end, threatening to block the view forward from the driver's seat. After several nervous miles we finally found a place to pull off the narrow road for a few minutes so we could totally remove the shade for repair later. Just south of Goshen we filled up with 63 gallon of diesel at the outrageous price of $4.21/gallon ...we sure were glad this wasn't a near empty fillup!! We had a great time at the SMART Muster, with many old friends present along with some new ones! As usual, the vendors had lots of gadgets we had not realized we needed so badly, but we got away without going too terribly in debt. One neat item we had looked at in the past and finally bought is a motion-sensitive "porch" light for the motorhome. It can be set to turn off to save battery power, but to come on when anyone (or anything!) is moving near the motorhome. The weather cooled off a bit while we were in Indiana, and the jackets and long pants came out for the first time since last spring! The Elkhart County Fairgrounds is a great location for an RV rally, with nice facilities no too spread out, and good 50a electric along with water and sewer for the RVs. The new pup Molly made lots of new friends as it seems she never meets anyone ...human or 4-legged ...that she doesn't absolutely love! And her open and eager enthusiasm is hard for others to resist. We had just over 200 rigs present, and good weather for the week.

15 SEP, BOONVILLE, MO -- Our At-Large Region is responsible for planning and execution of next year's SMART Muster, so we joined about 20 others who were making the trip to our selected location in WagonSedalia MO to observe the facilities while in use by another RV group, the Escapees. It is a little under 600 miles from Goshen to Sedalia, and we planned to travel individually Wagon and rally together at the Sedalia WalMart before going into the fairgrounds as a group. As we headed south of our Goshen, we saw a very early model recreational vehicl making it's way down the road before us ...I'm sure many people back in it's time didn't consider such transportation all that "recreational" in nature! We had a pleasant day driving across the Indiana and Illinois countryside, mostly over a series of US and state highways. In late afternoon we checked out a couple of RV parks in the Columbia MO area, but after several efforts found there was no room for travelers. One RV park told us we would not likely find anything in the Columbia area as hundreds of fans were in town for the Missouri vs Arizona game, so we went a few miles further west on I-70 and found the RV Express just off the road in Boonville. RV Express is hardly more than a parking lot, and the "pull-through" sites may not be pull-through capable for many rigs (likely NONE if the park were full). They offer 24-hour self-check-in and a bath and shower room. A short walk up the hill got us a Taco Bell supper, and a McDonald's breakfast. Our cost for one night was $25.

16-21 SEP, SEDALIA, MO -- It was less than an hour from Boonville to Sedalia, where we joined others of our group in the WalMart parking lot after tanking up on 73 gallon of diesel at $3.90 per. After most had arrived at WalMart, we strung out a Watching19-rig caravan for the short drive to the Missouri State Fairgrounds where we had arranged to enter as a group for the Escapees RV Club Escapade. We quickly learned that the parking crew had not been advised of our planned group arrival, but after some scurrying around they managed to park us somewhat close together in a far corner of the RV parking area. The sites are very widely spaced, with no-hookup sites between those with full utilities, so we were somewhat widely scattered. We spent the next several days participating in Escapade activities as well as scouting out the facilities we will be using in our Muster next year. The facilities cover a pretty large area, and walking everywhere was pretty much out of the question. There were dozens of seminars, vendors, and great evening entertainment, including one evening with Yakov Smirnov! After several days of meetings in addition the the Escapade activities, we were worn out ...and then we both got a bit of a cold and congestion to take away with us. At around 500 rv's present, the Escapade had over twice as many rigs as we likely will so our activities won't be quite as scattered next year. Maggie and Molly love to travel, and love to meet and greet new people. Here you see them in their favorite seats, watching the world go by.

21-27 SEP, VAN BUREN, AR -- WatchingReady for a few days of rest, we departed Sedalia about 9am and headed south to Van Buren AR where we visited family members for a week. We had a good 300 mile LogTownHilldrive, arriving in mid-afternoon at Parkridge RV Park. We have stayed here before, just off I-40 on the banks of Lee Creek West of Van Buren at the OK/AR state line. The park has good utilities, good free CATV, and marginal free WIFI. Tree cover is too heavy for most rigs to receive satellite TV. In addition to good times visiting with family, we did some exploring in old downtown Van Buren.Sign There are many well-preserved and beautiful old buildings, and some interesting shops. We found one building with a vast collection of old metal toys, and the largest collection of vintage pedal cars we have ever seen. The door was locked, but a great deal of the collection was visible through the large windows. Enroute to old downtown from I-40, you must go down Log Town Hill. Trucks and/or vehicles towing are prohibited on this stretch, and the restriction is strictly enforced, so don't try to take the RV sightseeing! On the right is a view of Van Buren and the valley from the top of Log Town Hill. Another interesting sight was the sign for the United Pentecostal Church ...a three dimensional Victorian-style house! Our cost at Parkridge at the weekly rate was $30 per night.

28 SEP, ...RETURN TO TEXAS -- After several weeks on the road, we were in the home stretch as we headed South toward Texas. We decided to take the most direct route, SE out of Ft Smith to Arkola OK, and then follow the state line to Texas. This is a very scenic drive through some mountains most people would not believe could exist SE_OKin Oklahoma. Along the way, we made a fairly short climb from apx 500 feet to the pass at 2,000 feet, with plenty of winding road along the way. If you have a little time for SE_OKsight seeing in very unique park of Oklanoma, the 50 mile journey along Talimena Scenic Drive from near Talahina OK to Mena AR would be a real treat. South of Broken Bow and Idabel we crossed the Red River and were back in Texas. We stopped for 36 gallon of diesel at $4.09 a gallon in Omaha, TX, stopping at two swipes of the credit card as each time it stopped us at $100. That was enough to get us close to home where we can fillup again so the fuel tank is nearly full when we park the motorhome for awhile ...that reduces the amount of condensation/water that accumulates in the fuel tank. Heading south out of Tyler, we again filled up with 43 gallon at $3.96 a gallon. Before the next trip we'll need to find a new set of safety cables as they got shredded under the tow hitch when it drug the pavement pulling into the fuel station in Omaha. In the meantime, there is a yard to mow, and a motorhome to cleanup...

1-2 NOV, ALBA TX -- In mid-October, the motorhome went back to the service place North of Alba that replaced the ac compressor in July as the ac simply is not cooling as well as it originally did. We "borrowed" the motorhome on 1 BellRanchNovember for a two-night outing with the Ramblin' Rose WITs (local Winnebago owner chapter). We joined the group last summer after a couple of outings with them. This was the Thanksgiving dinner party, and is traditionally held at The Bell Ranch south of Alba. The ranch is the home of a chapter member who over the years has put in RV water/electric/sewer connections around the house ...according to him, "at one time I had 35 full hookups." We could account for perhaps 20 now, but the others could have been out of sight of where we were! In the pic here, there was a row of 10 or so sites to the left of the house, a few (unused in the pic) right beside the house to the left, and perhaps four directly behind the house. It was a very pleasant weekend in a private setting, and little Molly made friends with Susie the large Bulldog. Susie was not sure what to think of the wild little hair-ball that kept jumping on her, but they did very well together. Molly was spayed on Tuesday and the vet said "don't let her jump or run" ...yeah, right ...I guess he forgot to tell Molly that! The surgery only slowed her down for a day and a half, and then she was back to her normal full speed. The last line of the printed instructions said, "Let her set her own pace." ...yep, we definitely can do that one! We had a great time with the WIT group, ate too much turkey & trimmings, and returned the motorhome to the service place on Saturday AM on our way back to the house.

10 NOV, BACK FROM SERVICE PLACE -- We needed to prep the motorhome for travel by the end of the week, and since the service place had not got around to it yet, we called and told them we would be picking the motorhome up. Maybe next time we take it in for repairs, they will realize we expect service rather than storage. At the cost of fuel, the round trip diesel cost is apx $50 ...not something I will do very many times unless they can get around to doing the work we need ...but they are the nearest trained/certified place for service on the basement ac/heatpump so I may not have many options... Fortunately, it does work, and during the winter months the reduced cooling capacity should not be any problem at all. Jean's sister was visiting and made the drive with us. On the way south from Alba, we stopped in Mineola, arriving just in time for their annual Veteran's Day Parade and festivities. Mineola is a nice little town with a number of antique shops, and a killer burger place on the corner of US80 and US69!

16 NOV, CLINTON MS -- We took several days to get the motorhome loaded for travel ...tools, equipment, clothes, food, etc. Since this is a regular ordeal now before and after RV trips, I went to Northern Tool wagonand got a "landscaper wagon" to help with the hauling. With the fat, soft tires, it works great for moving heavy items between the RV, shop, and house. The flat bed is strong, and the very low sides make lifting heaving items in and out relatively easy. Springridge is above average. Access to the RV sites was decent even though they are more unlevel (front low) than they should be. On a Friday morning we headed East to Alabama and holidays with the kids and grandkids. We drove a little over 300 miles, stopping for the night at Springridge RV Park in Clinton MS. We stayed here last year for the first time. Their "big rig" sites are considerably low to one end, and barely workable for long motorhomes. Our front wheel were several inches off the ground with the front leveling jacks at maximum height. The utilities are good, and the free wifi works great. We recently re-joined the new Good Sam/Camping World partnership, and with the club discount our cost for the night was $27.

*** NOTE ABOUT CAPITAL CITY RV PARK MONTGOMERY AL ***
-- For the past 6 years, we have stayed at Capital City RV Park in Montgomery AL a total of apx 2-3 months each year whenever visiting family in the Montgomery area. This year, several days after making reservations by telephone in early November, we received a call from park management telling us they had cancelled our reservation, and that we were not welcome there. When we asked what the problem was, the answer was, "You criticized our WIFI in your last couple of reviews online." After some thought I realized that the only place I have posted RV park reviews is an anonymous site, so apparently they are guessing which reviews were mine based on dates they know we have stayed there. I went to the site and read all of my reviews, and indeed found I normally mentioned the fact that the free WIFI is unreliable ...just as many other reviewers noted. I also cautioned others to be aware of the high water pressure (use a good pressure regulator), sometimes high voltage (use a good surge guard system), and very strictly enforced park rules on one-way streets and (in more recent years) not walking pets through the park. On one occasion I scored the park a 7 out of possible 10, and in all other reviews scored it an 8 out of 10. But apparently receiving good overall scores isn't good enough at Capital City RV Park. Any reviews I post, anonymous or not, WILL BE HONEST regarding both the good points and possible problems of any place we stay. IF BEING LESS THAN TRUTHFUL in site reviews is a requirement to remain in their favor, they don't need our business ...we will spend our $500-$1,000 in camping fees each November-January (and refer our RVing friends and family members visiting the Montgomery area) elsewhere!

17 NOV-31 DEC, WETUMPKA AL -- After a drive of apx 250 miles from Clinton MS, we arrived at Ft Toulouse/Jackson Campground about 3:30 pm. Ft Toulouse/Ft Jackson National Historical Site is located just Ft Toulousesouth of Wetumpka where the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers merge in the headwaters of the Alabama River. The nearby river brought a few beautiful foggy early mornings during out two-month stay. From the Mississipian Indian Mound site, to the early 1700's French Fort Toulouse (aka Franca choka chula, Fort des Alibamons and Fort Toulouse des Alibamons), to the early 1800's American Fort Jackson, there is over 6,000 years of history to examine in one location. One of the area's best tourist attractions, the park is open year round for visitors to explore 165 acres of living history and natural beauty. In addition to the fort sites, there is also the William Bartram Arboretum trail. The campground has 39 sites in a very nicely wooded area. We had talked with the office earlier by phone, so checked with the campground host on arrival. 17 sites are reserved for "long term" use. After a look around,Coosa we selected a site that looked like we could receive satellite TV via our rooftop dish, carefully parking where it appeared the angle was right to hit a hole through the trees, and it worked on the first try! The asphalt parking pad was difficult to see at first due to heavy cover of leaves ...a leaf blower would be a great item to have on board if you visit here in the Fall. We borrowed one from one of our sons, and used it 2-3 times a week to hold the leaves at bay. The campground is very popular among local residents on weekends, and during the annual historic re-enactments in early November each year. We also saw RVs from many other states, from Canada, and even a unique hand-built RV from Germany! In spite of the relatively heavy use, it is a very peaceful and beautiful campground with widely spaced sites and a large "parade ground" in the center of the campground area. We often saw deer in the area immediately outside the campground, and at late night and early morning sometimes inside the campground. There is also a pretty decent bathhouse. Sites on one side of the campground overlook the Coosa River just before it merges with the Talapoosa, and there is a boat ramp off one end of the park area. The only real drawback for long term use is that there are no sewer hookups at the sites. They have sewer pipe on-site but the project has been on hold over two years due to legal action by a neighboring landowner who apparently has some objection to the campground installing sewer connections. There is a dump site, so with some Frnt TVconservation efforts plus showering and doing laundry at our son's home when we visited them in the evenings, we were able to stretch the need to drive to the dump site to up to three weeks. Electric and water hookups are in good shape, and are reliable although the water tends to be a bit rust colored. Our sediment filter totally removed any trace of rust inside. During the week after we arrived, we put the finishing touches on the new LED/LCD TV installation up front. The TVs were swapped out just before the motorhome went to the service facility in October, but we had not been able to get the trim completed ...partly because we had not yet figured out exactly what to do with it, and partly because of not having the time and availability of the RV. You can see the final result here, and you can see a more detailed description by clicking on the picture of the TV. While in Alabama we enjoyed time with our kids and grandkids, watched our grandson and his team compete in the SE Region Robotics Competition at Auburn Univ, visited our daughter in Atlanta (even joined her church choir in singing for their Christmas Eve-Eve service), and explored a few area attractions we had not got around to in the past. As normal, we took the motorhome to our older son's home on Christmas Eve for two nights, parking in the driveway and using a homemade adapter to plug into the 240v/30a clothes dryer outlet in the house. We had a good 4g connection with our Verizon cell phones at Ft Toulouse, so used the Verizon Mobile Hotspot from one of our cell phones for internet connection for our tablet and laptop. With the monthly rate and Senior/Military discount, our nightly cost at Ft Toulouse was $10.33.

SOME NOTES ON OUR 2012 RVING COSTS ...

Our total RV mileage for 2012 was 6,707 miles.
- CAMPGROUND COSTS totaled $2,824.33 (avg per night $18.22) for the 155 nights we were on the road. We did not stay at any military campgrounds this year, nor did we overnight at any Walmart, truck stop, etc.
- COST FOR DIESEL FUEL was $3,721.56 with avg cost per gallon of $3.86, and avg 6.96 mpg (includes apx 77 hrs of generator use at up to .5 gallon/hr). Our per mile fuel cost this year was 55.5 cents per mile.
- COST FOR LP GAS was $42.36 (total of 13.63 gallon @ $2.99/gal in one fill of our apx 37 gallon tank). We use LP gas for stovetop cooking, occasional water heater or refrigerator power when electric is not available, to power two LP furnaces (one 35,000 BTU and one 25,000 BTU) when temps are below the point where the heat pumps will work (apx 35 degrees), or if it is cold and we do not have electric "shore power" available. The stove top, refrigerator, and water heater use very little LP, but the two furnaces are LP hogs.
- MAINTENANCE COSTS for the year totaled $2,728.98. That includes routine chassis service plus almost $2,000 for a new compressor in the house ac/heat pump system. We budget about $300 per month for maintenance, intended to cover the cost of routine maintenance each year and tire replacement every 7 years.
- MOTORHOME INSURANCE coverage runs us apx $1,550/year. We dropped our fulltimer coverage this year, moving to "less than 5 mo use" coverage. That includes full replacement cost in case of accident or fire that "totals" the motorhome. The cost of RV insurance varies widely depending on RV type, driving record, credit scores, and state of residency.
- TOAD COSTS included work on the rear brakes just over $300, a new windshield just over $250, and fuel at $1,345 for 8,264 miles ...apx 16.3 cents per mile and avg cost $3.42/gallon. Avg mpg was apx 21.04. Although the 13 year old Honda Odyssey has a bit over 190k on the odometer plus apx 53k towed miles, it is still quite dependable.
- RV UPGRADES ...our primary upgrade this year was a new 32" flat screen digital TV in the living area, self-installed, replacing the old 26" tube type analog TV. The TV cost was $246.81, special mount from Morryde $180, trim finishing $70.86, and with HDMI and USB cables & extensions came to a total of $554.74






RV TRAVELS SUMMARY TO DATE...
Visited States map

AL, AR, AZ, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MN, MO, MS,
MT, NC, NB, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WY = 37

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