* RV Travelogue 2014 *



1-5 JAN, WETUMPKA AL -- We once again started the new year wrapping up holiday visits with our kids and grandkids. Our RV site at historic Ft Toulouse/Ft Jackson National Historical Site just south of Wetumpka is a very peaceful locaiton, although this year was quite wet with lots of rain. We saw deer almost daily, including an 8 point buck one night on the road just outside the entrance. Due to our heat pump not working, we used an electric space heater to help minimize the use of our limited LP supply in the cold weather. The last few days before we left were near record lows with many nights in the 20's and a few in the teens!

6 JAN, SIMSBORO LA -- With temps in the 20's, we left Ft Toulouse just before 9am after quickly dumping the black and gray water tanks at the dump station. With all the hydrants wrapped against the sub-zero temps, we did not attempt to back-flush the black tank. We will just add ample water through the toilet, and plan to dump again and flush liberally at the next opportunity. Along with some sunshine, the dash heat was just enough to keep us warm as we headed Westward. We stopped for lunch at What Is It?a Subway in a filling station at Toomsuba MS just East of Meridian. While there we noticed that the front air suspension dropped completely in apx 30 minutes ...not normal! Most will stay up for several days, and our in the past couple of years has been dropping overnight but none of the techs who have looked at it could find a problem. With the engine running, it inflated to normal, so we headed on East, stopping at hour or so later at the Flying J at Pearl MS for 14.9 gallon of LP and 26 gallon of diesel at $3.89/gallon. This was not a fillup. The pumps at this Flying J more often than not have mal-functioning keypads. This prevents paying at the pump, and there was a long line inside where a barely functioning trainee was slowing waiting on customers and requesting management help with nearly every transaction. Rather than leaving a credit card at the register we chose to have them authorize $100, knowing that would be enough to get us close to home base where we could fill again before parking the motorhome. The front air suspension dropped again. Reinflated and back on the road, we made our target destination at Antique Village RV Park just North of Simsboro LA about 5pm just before dark. This was a new park for us. It appeared to be relatively new, and was sculpted out of hilly, wooded terrain. The sites were gravel/dirt, and were close to level but not quite. Most sites had a table, but that wasn't very interesting in the bitter cold weather. Most sites were vacant, though there were some very permanent looking settlements ...not sure if the "rig" across from us was an RV or not!! After parking we got a brief visit by some ducks from the nearby pond, but they didn't stay long. Our cost for the night was $25.50 for the "Good Sam" rate. We got back on the road the next morning at apx 9am. After a stop for 71 gallon of diesel at $3.79/gal, and a visit to the nearby What-a-Burger, we arrived back at home base just after 12 noon. After it warmed up some the next day, we found a leaking air valve under the front end. It needs to be replaced, but some tightening of the case screws made a considerable improvement in the length of time the suspension stays up after shutting down the engine ...another item for the next service appointment.

9-10 JAN, GILMER TX -- During our last week in Alabama we got a call from the Ramblin' Rose Travers, our Winnebago owners group chapter, that they were planning an outing at Watts RV Park South of Gilmer in conjunction with an RV group from Lake Holly TX known as the Holly Rollers. As it was only 40 miles away, we decided to join in the fun. It was pretty rainy on Thursday afternoon and Friday, but we had a good time eating too much, playing games, and getting acquainted. Watts RV Park is a couple of miles off the highway several miles South of Gilmer. The 2 mile drive from Highway 155 is a bit intimidating with the narrow asphalt road and the many run-down homes with junk-filled yards, but one you arrive the park is quite decent. They have very nice concrete slabs, and excellent club house facilities for group use. Together the two groups had around 12 rigs. Our cost for the two nights at the "rally price" was $24 per night.

17-20 FEB, FT WORTH TX -- Enroute to Alabama in late November we discovered our ac was not cooling well. A brief investigation revealed the outside blower motor was not running. Since the weather turned cold the next day, we decided to heat with the LP furnaces and electric space heaters, and to live without the TX Trash Canac/heat pump until we returned home. We used an authorized service location for the RVP unit apx 40 miles North of us about 18 months ago to have a compressor replaced. He seemed to do a good job, but the unit has not cooled up to snuff since and although we returned it to them to have it checked out they didn't get to in the promised time frame so we picked it up and never went back. This time we found an authorized location in Ft Worth where we have had other service done. We made an appointment several weeks ahead, then dropped the coach off on Monday. They kept us posted on the progress during the week, and called about 3:30pm on Friday to tell us it was ready. Meanwhile, we were visiting family in the area. Although we planned to stay with the family members through the weekend, we decided to go ahead and pick up the coach so it would not be left sitting on their back lot over the weekend where it would be vulnerable to possible theft ...our family members lost some items from their trailer while it was parked there last year. It was a pricey repair, with the outside blower motor, unit computer board, and a start capacitor replaced, but it works. They were unable to confirm whether or not the unit was properly charged (actually they said it is based on amp draw, but I did not buy their explanation since it is freezing up far too often, which never happened until after the compressor was replaced). Whatever, I departed the dealership just SE of downtown Ft Worth as rush hour was hitting full swing. I avoided the normal I-35 North mess by taking surface streets North to 820, then hit the Westbound access road, staying on it as it curved North alongside I-35. With traffic on I-35 at a standstill I went North on the access road for a few miles until it died out, then merged onto I-35 for maybe 1/4 mile to the US 287 N exit. It was a pretty easy drive to Fowler RV Park North of Saginaw, and I was parked and hooked up to power and water before dark.

21-28 FEB, SAGINAW TX -- We have stayed at Fowler's RV Park several times over the past few years. It is nothing fancy, and has some "interesting" electric and sewer connections, but the location works for us and the price isn't bad. We called ahead and found they had two spaces large enough. When I pulled in, I found one site available where I had been told to look. It was a long pull-through, apx 75 feet ...very easily the best site we have ever had in this park! There have been some improvements in the park over the years, mostly to the entry road and in the recent addition of a new laundry/bath house. Most sites have 50a electric available, but no accessible breakers or approved electrical boxes at most sites. We found the power to be marginal, sagging badly under load, preventing running a coffee maker and toaster at the same time w/o risk of tripping our protective Surge Guard. Our line meter showed a drop from 114v to 109v when StockyardLightsthe coffee maker of heat pump kicked in, and adding a second load like the toaster would pull the voltage down to a very marginal 103-104v. This is an old park, no doubt designed and wired for 30a service. Today's 50a RVs are simply an overload to the obsolete wiring. But at least we had electric service!! Sewer is a bigger challenge, with the dump connection in most sites located at the extreme front of the site. An effort to make it more accessible Cowtown Cowboy Churchhas been made by connecting 4" pvc pipe to the connection and running to back to where the RV can hook up, but there is no realistic way to make a standard RV connection to the bare 4" pipe, not to mention the challenge of making sewage run uphill! In the past when we stayed for a couple of weeks or a month we have managed to rig a connection with altered sewer hoses, duct tape, and other "innovations." As we were here this time for only a week, and were at our family members' home most of the time, we did not try to make a connection to the sewer dump. We spent most of each day at their home where I spent my time replacing interior doors throughout the house while they were at work, and doing some shopping in the local area. On Sunday we enjoyed worship at the Cowtown Cowboy Church that meets in the Livery Stable in the Stockyards area of Ft Worth. That is an interesting place to worship, with sand floor, horses stabled right across the asile (view from the "pew" on the left), and an occasional horse or cow led past. We had a great visit with family, and ate some good meals at local restaurants (Los Molcajetes, Joe's Crab Shack, China Flag Buffet, Circle S Catfish Grill, Spring Creek BBQ) before driving the 150 miles home on Friday, cutting 15-20 minutes off our travel time by taking the new Toll Road 49 around the South side of Tyler ...I hate paying for toll roads, but it did make the trip faster and easier, probably paying for itself in less fuel burned. Our cost for one week at Fowler's RV Park was $125 or just under $18/night.

6-7 MAR, GILMER TX -- Late morning we headed North toward Gilmer and a gathering of the Ramlin's Rose chapter of WIT ...Winnebago Itasca Travelers. We stopped for RR WIT Gilmer fuel on our way through Tyler, taking on 75.8 gallon of diesel at $3.549 a gallon at the Cefco on the South side of town. We normally refuel prior to parking the motorhome for an extended period, but didn't get the chance on our way in from Ft Worth last week. We can't get into/out of just any filling station, and will have to plan for that next time we return via Toll 49. We had a good time with the group, including an outing to the David Beard Catfish Village location near Ore City where you can get all you can eat grown-in-the-USA-catfish for $12.95. The catfish and hush puppies were great ...the french fries were a bit tired, but we didn't go there for the fries so that worked out! We checked on making a trip to the daffodil farm nearby, but recent freezing weather had taken it's toll ...then we checked on visiting "the largest rock shop in East Texas" but they were not open ...guess we'll leave those things for another visit. As we were preparing to leave on Saturday morning we called the RV park office to see where to meet them to fill our LP tank as advertised on their signs, but were advised that they no longer sell LP. With a total of 6 rigs (4 Class C and 2 Class A) our cost per night for the small rally rate at Watts RV Park in the piney wood of East Texas a few miles South of Gilmer was $25.

3 APR, POST TX -- We got the motorhome loaded the day before, and hit the road by 8:30am headed Westward for the SMART SMW Regional Muster in Alamogordo NM. We stopped McDonalds in Canton for a late breakfast/early lunch, and for fuel at the Flying J in Tye just West of Abilene where we took on almost 76 gallon of diesel at $3.58 per gallon. About mid-afternoon after turning NW of I-20 we began to have fairly heavy crosswinds. We had planned to stop at an RV Park just North of Snyder but could not get them to answer the phone. We were also reading some bad reviews online, and their location was a mile or so off the highway, so we decided to pass them by. By the time we reached Post, we were down to 50mph fighting the winds, and one of our window awnings was often "floating" about a foot out from the side of the motorhome. On the South side of Post we turned to the right just past the city park and went two blocks to 3G RV Park ...a 434 mile travel day. 3G is a very small park, with "pull through" sites stacked end to end ...hardly a real pull through. We found one empty site, and called the number taped to the electric box. The owner was there in just a few minutes to take our check, and he told us we could simply pull around the guy in front of us, driving on the grass if necessary, to get out in the morning. So it WAS a real pull Giant Pistachiothrough!! We went to a local Mexican restaurant for supper, and slept well as the cold front blew through and the temps dropped to the 40's overnight. Our cost for one night in Post was $20.

4-8 APR, ALAMOGORDO NM -- The next morning the wind had died down, and we circled the block in downtown Post and stopped at McDonalds for breakfast muffins. We don't like McDonalds burgers, but do like their breakfast choices. Then we headed West for a bit over 300 miles, including the 6% descent from Cloudcroft to Alamogordo, dropping 5,000 ft in 15 miles. At the bottom of the descent we pulled into a Chevron for fuel, but were able to get only 33.7 gallon at $3.69/gal before their computer system went down ...we needed more to fill up, Sunsetbut passed on their offer to pay cash as we don't normally carry that much cash. We had a good time at the SMART SMW Regional Muster. We passed on the day-long tour to Trinity Site where the first atomic bomb was exploded, and also on the tour of Holloman AFB on another day. We enjoyed visiting the local pistachio nut grower outlets, and the Toy Train Depot/Museum where we saw some very extensive model train layouts and rode the small train through the park. The sunsets in New Mexico are often spectacular, and we saw several good ones in the time we were there. And later in the year this picture taken in New Mexico won first place in the Nature Category in the annual WIT photo contest!! The weather was great during our time in Alamorgordo (actually about half way between Alamorgordo and Tularosa) with nights in the high 40's and days in the high 70's until the last day when it got into the high 80's.

9-10 APR, CARLSBAD NM -- Straggling behind many who had much further to travel, we left Alamorgordo a bit after 9am. We stopped at the Chevron again and completed our fillup with 33 gallon at $3.69/gallon. Then we headed up the mountain, running in 3rd gear at 40-45 mph to keep the engine RPM above 2,000 to avoid overheating. Twice we had to stop for one-way traffic where work crews were removing rocks from alongside the highway. We finally reached the top of the mountain, shifted into normal running gear, and headed East to Artesia and then South to Carlsbad where we spent two nights visiting family. We stopped at Windmill RV park but found no office, so continued on South to Carlsbad RV Park where we found they run both rv parks, and use Windmill for monthly only. Since our last visit to Carlsbad seven years ago, the oil boom has increased resulting in some serious price gouging. Our cost for two nights was nearly $42/night. The free CATV worked, and the free WIFI did not work. We had a good visit with family, but were ready to leave the dust behind.

11-13 APR, SEMINOLE TX -- We left Carlsbad about 10am, a pretty late departure for us, but we had only about 100 miles to travel to Seminole TX. Were were married in Seminole several years ago, and planned to spend a few days visiting the local area. We checked out the free RV parking, with full hookups, at the city park, but found our 40' motorhome was too large to fit in the small back-in sites. So we went back to the West side of town to Toon's RV Park almost behind the small local WalMart. Toon's has free catv and free WIFI that actually works! Other than that, it is nothing fancy, but does have full hookup Seminole TX pull-through sites with reliable electric. This is dry West Texas, and when the wind blows hard (as it does quite often), the air is somewhat brown with the blowing dirt. That was the case Saturday, and again on Sunday. Braving the wind and dirt, we visited family graves in the local cemetery, had a brief visit with a nephew and two of his children, and attended worship at First UMC followed by lunch with the pastor, a college classmate. Our cost for 3 nights at Toon's RV Park was $30 per night. On Sunday the high temp was 87. After midnight the wind picked up quite a bit as a cold front blew through, bringing an 8am temp of 32. In anticipation of the change in weather I disconnected the water and sewer, and hooked up the car on Sunday afternoon. That made my outside prep in the cold, cold wind before our Monday morning departure as brief as possible, disconnecting the catv and electric cables and stowing the dog pen. We departed Seminole about 8:30am, stopping at the local McDonalds for breakfast sandwiches on the way out of town. It was a tiring drive Eastward, fighting a strong wind out of the NW and then the North for the full 498 miles. At the Flying J in Tye, we took on 19.7 gallon of LP at $3.599 a gallon, and 62.8 gallon of diesel at $3.669 a gallon. After passing Abilene there was a noticeable decrease in the dirt in the air as we began to see shades of green in the fields alongside the road. After passing Ft Worth and Dallas, it became even greener. We made a brief stop in Canton where we took on 37.8 gallon of diesel at $3.689 per gallon. After a long day fighting the wind, we arrived back at home base shortly after 5pm. Now to clean out all the dust ...when we open any door on the outside of the motorhome there is a noticeable sound of grit in the hinges, and many of the sliding window grooves are covered in brown dust. Time for an extensive vacuum cleaning!!

1-3 MAY, GARRISON TX -- After physical therapy and singing with the Four or More Men's Ensemble at a funeral, We left home base a little after 3:30pm, headed for Camp Tonkawa Springs near Garrison, TX. It was about a one hour drive, cross country on TX state highways and Farm-to-Market Roads. We were the last of the Ramblin' Rose WIT group to arrive for the bi-monthly gathering. Camp Tonkawa Springs is in CampTonkawaSprings the woods about 15 miles Nacogoches, a few miles West of Garrison. A herd of deer are quite at home in the RV park, strolling through the area with little concern for the people (we counted as many as 27 in the group) in their midst. The deer varied from almost black to almost white, with some spotted ones between the two extremes. In addition to the deer is a small flock of Guinea Hens. This facility has a long history, most centering around the clear spring-fed swimming hole on site. The RV sites are dirt/gravel, with very few being very level. On our second attempt, we were able to get "almost level" after our front jacks sank several inches into the dirt on our first attempt. Putting out our jack pads helped to avoid that problem on our second leveling attempt. There is zero Verizon cell phone service at the RV park, and the free WIFI was very weak and slow when it worked. We had a good time with the Ramblin' Rose WIT group, heading back toward home on Saturday morning. On that way home we stopped at a Valero in Troup a few miles South of our homebase where we took on just over 29 gallon of diesel at $3.86 a gallon. Our cost for two nights at Camp Tonkawa Springs at the rally rate was $25 per night.

4-6 JUN, TEXARKANA TX -- In the midst of working on replacing the motorhome refrigerator, we temporarily installed a small half-height refrigerator in the gaping hole left by the 4-door Norcold we had removed, and headed for a two night meeting with the Ramblin' Rose WITs at Shady Pines RV Park near Texarkana TX. It was a pleasant and fairly direct drive 120 miles NE. Shady Pines RV Park is a few miles SW of Texarkana, just to the South of Red River Army Depot, and is connected with Shady Pines RV Center, a small dealership featuring Winnebago motorhomes and a variety of travel trailer brands. We had a good visit with the Ramblin' Rose folks, and had a hit with our homemade Strawberry Sherbet. Paul learned to use a cane to get around as he had a knee giving him a lot of grief, a result of falling while chasing little Molly the previous weekend. The knee wasn't sore at the time, but sure got painful a couple of days later. On Saturday morning we headed SW about 9:30, stopping for fuel on the South side of Tyler for for apx 31 gallon of diesel at $3.54 a gallon ...pretty good price! As we came into Whitehouse we diverted into the Brookshires parking lot where we had lunch of burgers and links with our church youth group fund raiser. Then it was back home and getting the motorhome ready to receive the new refrigerator on Monday. Click Shady Pines is a very nice RV park with spacious concrete sites and beautiful green grass. Their electric boxes are showing some wear, but everything worked well for us. Our cost for the two nights at Shady Pines RV Park was $27 per night.

See our refrigerator replacement adventure HERE

SOME REUPHOLSTERY -- While we had the co-pilot seat out of the motorhome for the refrigerator replacement process, we decided to see if we could get it repaired. Although it had not been used much (DW prefers to ride on the couch with the two dogs) the seat cushion had deteriorated badly along the front edge over the years. Our only guess as to why it deteriorated so badly is that is where everyone who enters puts a hand to steady themselves as they climb the steps. Perhaps body oils, etc from all RecoveredSeatthose hand touched did the damage? Anyway, when DW rode up front last year on the Alaska caravan the leather began to split. By the end of the trip we had two small gaps about two inches or more in length where the leater had completely separated. I had attempted to contact the seat mfg'er via email a few times over the years with no response. We were thinking of checking a large RV salvage yard in Missouri on our way to Iowa this summer to see if we could find a complete seat to match. But with the seat out, now was a better time. I called a local place we had seen advertising furniture restoration. He said he did only rebuilding furniture, and refered me to another guy, and said if he couldn't do it a guy named Fernando probably could. That guy said he did not do automotive type upholstery, and refered me to Fernando. Fernando has limited English skills, but with the help of someone else on the other end of the phone conversation I was able to give my address and directions. A few hours later Fernando arrived, looked the chair over, and gave me a price of $430 to recover just the seat. He told me "one week," and I helped him load the chair into his pickup. I had not seen a sample of his work, but trusted the recommendations I had been given, and was hoping he could match the material and style. Eight days later he called and agreed that he would deliver the completed chair sometime after 2pm, and that payment could be by personal check. He called back in early afternoon and asked if 6:30pm would be ok. I told him that was fine, and at 6:25pm he pulled into the drive. As you can see, the chair looks fantastic! I was concerned that even if he matched the material perfectly, it would not look right with a new seat cushion mated to the old back, but it looks so good that I believe no one but us (and you, if you read this!!) will ever know the seat has been recovered. In the pic, it is sitting in the aisle between the pilot chair and it's own pedestal awaiting re-installation. I gladly wrote Fernando a check for $430, shook his hand, and told him it was very good.

17-18 JUN, CORSICANA TX -- We will be hosting a muster/gathering of one of the RV group chapters we are member of at Corsicana in October, so figured we needed to check the location our ahead of time. Corsicana is apx 90 miles East of us, so we decided to spend two nights there before we hit the road for an extended period in early July. It was an easy drive, taking the Loop 49 Toll Road and then TX 31. The road was very good until we passed Athens, and then deteriorated more and more until we enountered some badly needed re-surfacing/re-construction in progress. The road construction continued off and on into and including much of Corsicana itself. American RV Park is on the West side of town. The RV park has around 160 sites, many back-in sites that are occupied by somewhat permament residents, and a good number of pull-through sites up front that are used primarily for shorter-term travelers. One row of about 10 pull-throughs has nice concrete slabs with very nice grass. These are likely where our rally group would be parked as it is right behind the office/store and near the meeting hall. The free WIFI worked very well. Our co-hosts visited us in the afternoon, and after some planning for the meeting we went out for an early supper at Sam's Southern Eatery, and then for a drive around town, stopping at the Russel Stover Factory Store where we got some great prices on chocolate candy!! Yum! The next day we talked wtih the folks at the Visitor Center, took in a movie, and then made shopping stops at Gander Mountain and Russel Stover again. We had a good visit in Corsicana. After a successful trial of our new "breakfast sandwich machine," we headed back Eastward, arriving at home base just before lunch. Our cost for two nights with Escapees discount was $27.50 per night.

20 JUN, DIY AC/HEAT PUMP REPAIR -- After returning from Corsicana and before the next trip, I pulled the Coleman ac/heatpump unit from it's basement bay for cleaning, to check the rear duct integrity and to have a retired ac tech friend help check the charge level to ensure cooling is at maximum capacity during our July travels. We had one of the two compressors replaced about 18 months ago and the unit simply has not worked as well since ...AND it has BasementACfrozen up a few times, an good indication of insufficient freon. I took it back to the place that installed the compressor a couple of months later, but after a month of waiting for them to get around to it I picked up the motorhome and wrote them off. I asked another service facility to check it out when I had it in for other repairs and they said they checked and it was cooling fine ...which I already knew was not the case. On questioning they said they "checked the freon charge" by measuring amps pulled under load ...not at all what I asked them to do. When I got the unit out and opened it up I found that the charging port that was added with the new compressor had no cap on it ...not a good sign. When checked, we found the compressor that should hold around 2.5lb of freon took a full 1lb before showing it was properly charged. That should help! I also found the rear cold air supply duct needing some re-tapeing where the elbow turns upward. I recall re-taping it with duct tape several years ago from under the rear of the coach while at an RV park in Oklahoma. This time, with the unit removed, I had much better access, and after removing the old tape and getting the two sides properly together, I used the proper foil tape. I'm sure the unit will do a much better job now! One tool that made the job of pulling the unit relatively easy was the hydraulic table cart (you can see part of it in the picture to the right) that I bought recently at our new local Harbor Freight store.

4 JUL, MERIDIAN MS -- After getting news on July 3rd of a fatal accident involving our youngest son, we departed on the morning of July 4 for Alabama. After refueling at the Flying J in Pearl MS (82.8 gallon of diesel at $3.72/gallon) we began to hear an occasional vibration. By the time we arrived in Meridian the vibration was more frequent, primarily only when coasting down slight inclines. But when we exited I-20 in Meridian it was obvious we had a problem as at slow speed the vibration was constant. We went to Bonita Lakes RV Park, and found that the rear air bags were totally deflated. After getting registered and pulling into a site we called our road service, CoachNet. They were unable to find assistance on the evening of July 4, but promised to try again in the morning. By 10am the next morning they had B&C Truck Service from Collinsville on the scene. The tech quickly found the problem ...a broken bracket supporting the rear ride height linkage. He removed the bracket, took it to his shop to weld it, and brought it back. CoachNet paid for the service call, we paid for the labor and extra mileage, and we were back on the road by 12 noon. Our cost for one night at Bonita Lakes was $25.50 with the Escapees 15% discount.

5 JUL-20, AUG WETUMPKA AL -- Just North of Montgomery we refueled at the Entec, taking on 37 gallon of diesel at $3.69/gallon. On arrival at Ft Toulouse we learned that they not longer allow long-term visitors. The maximum stay is now two weeks out of any four week period. That became a problem as we had to stay longer than two weeks for our son's funeral and working through his final affairs. After discussion with our older son's HOA, they allowed us to park in his driveway for 2 weeks at a time during the periods we had to be gone from the RV park. We will have to find a new long-term location when we return for our normal winter holidays visit. Two weeks after our son's funeral, we had another family death in Oklahoma and several of us did a quick car trip up and back. Support from the local community, and especially from our son's friends and co-workers, was almost overwhealming during the funeral and the weeks following. His death obviously left a big hole in lots of lives beyond our family. There was a fair amount of rain in Alabama while we were there, and we noticed lots of blooming Crepe Myrtle and other flowers that we aren't used to seeing here as we normally visit during the winter months. Our cost for two weeks at Ft Toulouse was just over $14/night with the Senior discount.

21 AUG, FORREST CITY AR -- We left Wetumpka on a Thursday morning in record heat, and headed across country on state highways, catching I65 near Clanton. The new I-22 corridor NW out of Birmingham is a great route, but has rough transitions on both ends ...in both Birmingham and Memphis. Once on the highway ...sometimes marked as "US 78," sometimes marked as "I-22, and sometimes marked as "The Future I-22 Corridor," there are very few towns visible from the highway. Most are bypassed just enough that you never know they are there. There are a few filling stations along the highway, but very few. It is a beautiful drive, and very good road. We refueled at a Flying J in Olive Branch just south of Memphis, taking on just over 54 gallon at $3.66 a gallon. We hit Memphis just after 4pm, dumping onto US highways through town. We spent almost an hour on about 5 miles of the highway that runs across the south side of the airport due to two stalled vehicles in the righ lane about 1/4 mile apart. After getting past that mess, we stopped for the night at Delta Ridge RV Park in Forrest City AR 30 miles or so East of Memphis. It is a decent little RV park just off I-40 and near a restaurant and motel. They have 5 or 6 long pull through sites for the short-term travelers. One night there cost us $25.

22-24 AUG, VAN BUREN AR -- About 240 miles West of Forrest City, we arrived at Park Ridge RV Park near Van Buren in mid-afternoon. Although they restrict or prohibit satellite TV reception, the heavy trees at Park Ridge were welcome a shelter from the very hot weather. On Sunday, we went to an interesting church in Van Buren, Momentum Church. They meet in a theater at the local high school. The service consisted of a little praise music led by a praise band of three or four, and a pretty long sermon by the main pastor, who was a very good speaker. Their web site actually tells very little about the church, ie WHO and WHY they are. We had a good visit with nearby family members, and spent three nights at Park Ridge at $33 per night with Good Sam discount.

25-28 AUG, ENID OK -- From Van Buren, we headed West into Oklahoma to find the Muskogee Turnpike toward Tulsa and points west. Just before entering the turnpike we stopped at Loves for almost 61 gallon of diesel at $3.69 a gallon, taking advantage of the co-located Subway to buy lunch too. We normally avoid toll roads, but this one was not heavily traveled and was saving us many miles in our journey to Enid. The transition to 412 West in Tulsa was a bit rough as we suddenly encounted "road closed" signs and found ourselves dumped onto the downtown city streets in our 40' motorhome towing the car! The only "detour" sign we saw was too late and too many lanes away to take advantage of. With the help of the GPS, we managed to pick out a decent route back to a freeway headed West, and before long we were cruising toward Enid. As we left Tulsa the dash thermometer was saying 103 degrees. By the time we arrived in Enid at 3pm, it was saying 106 degrees!! We have stayed at High Point RV Park before. This time they had only 30a sites available. We can make do on 30a if we are careful with electric usage, so took the site. While in Enid our Honda ac quit. It acted up a bit in Alabama, but we thought it was fixed. This time the diagnosis was the compressor clutch, so we made a healthy contribution to the local economy so we could be cool! Four nights at High Point was just over $26/night ...a real bargain compared to the cost of fixing the Honda!!

29 AUG-1 SEP, WOODWARD OK -- While visiting in Enid we learned of the death of another family member in Woodward. We were planning to visit there next where reports were indicating the individual was doing pretty well, but then he was gone. Enroute to Woodward we stopped at the "Country Store" Cenex in Lahoma for 32.5 gallon of diesel at $3.45 a gallon ...this location is normally the lowest Homestead 1984fuel prices we see in NW Oklahoma. Woodward has a few new RV parks almost every time we have been there the past few years, and each one fills with construction or oil field workers as soon as it is completed! We normally stay at Boiling Springs State Park North of town where the two week stay limit keeps the long term folks from filling it up, but while here for the funeral we wanted to be closer to town. In calling to find a place to park for four nights, one of the full parks referred us to another new one, Lincoln RV Park, on the North side of town. The owner had a spot that was reserved for an incoming long-term customer, but when he learned that we were coming in for a funeral and that we would be gone before the reserved-for rig arrived, he said we could have the site for four night. And he said he would meet us on the main drag (Oklahoma Ave) and LEAD us to the RV park, as there were some streets that we would not want to attempt with our 40' motorhome ...and that is exactly what he did. He told us the park is about one year old. There are apx full-hookup 18 sites, with all but 4 or so having nice wide & long concrete pads, including a concrete parking pad for toads or tows! It was clear that the target customer is long-term workers, but we were quite comfortable for our stay. We had a good visit with local family and with family members who came from out of town for the funeral. It was a sad occasion as we said farewell to the husband of the Aunt we said farewell to just a month earlier, but we had a great celebration of life for a wonderful Uncle. We also got in a quick visit to the "home" church a few miles away, and the family homestead SW of Woodward. The picture here was taken 30 years ago. Most of the outbuildings are no longer there now, but the property is still family-owned after 114 years. Our cost for four nights at Lincoln RV Park was $20 per night.

2-4 SEP, TEXARKANA TX -- On the way back home from Oklahoma we took a slight detour to meet our Ramblin' Rose WIT chapter friends at Shady Pines RV Park just west of Texarkana. When we were last here in early June, Paul's knee was very painful, making the walks to the meeting building very slow. The knee is doing much better now, so things went a little smoother. We had a good visit with the Winnebago/Itasca group, enjoying meals together, puzzles, and table games. Our cost at Shady Pines at the rally rate was $25.50 per night.

21-24 OCT, CORSICANA TX -- On Oct 21 we headed toward Corsicana, about a 1 1/2 hour drive. We were serving as co-hosts with another couple for a SMART Texans muster at the Amerian RV Park just West of town. We had a total of 10 rigs present and had a great time with the group, eating too much, playing games, and exploring the local area ...or at least some of the group explored the area. We were busy with the meals, and Jean wasn't feeling well, so we passed on the visits to Collins Street Bakery, the Russel Stover Candy factory outlet, and the Western Art Museum at Navarro College. Our cost for four nights at the rally rate was $25 per night.

3 NOV, MERIDIAN MS -- November 3rd saw us on the road again, headed toward Alabama. It was beautiful weather for driving and we made about 340 miles before stopping for the night at Bonita Lakes RV Park in Meridian MS. Fuel cost at Flying J in Pearl MS was $3.47 a gallon. Our cost for one night with the 15% Escapees discount was $25.50.

4 NOV-31 DEC, WETUMPKA AL - Because our normal location at Ft Toulouse has instituted a 2 week stay limit AND they were temporatily closed during their annual Frontier Days celebration, after filling the diesel tank at $3.24 a gallon (what a great price!!), this time we went to a new location we had checked out last summer, Lulu'sSwayback Campground, a few miles north of Wetumpka. Swayback opened in September this year with 5 full hookup sites. It is in the country just off Old US 231 near the Lake Jordan CottonBayouDam, and just across the road from the trailhead for the Swyaback Trail. The location is quite peaceful. They have plans for more sites and a bathhouse in the future. While at Wetumpka we made a visit to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama on the Gulf Coast, and spent time with our kids and grandkids. Lulu's is a great place to eat seafood, and to watch boat traffic on the canal (in this case a load of crushed cars!). Lulu is Jimmy Buffet's sister, and some like her place better than his ...it definately is a hoppin' place in season, and does pretty well in the off-season too! We spent some good family time walking the beach on the Gulf of Mexico at the Cotton Bayou Access area. In mid-December, we closed on a piece of property near Wetumpka where we plan to put in an RV site so we will always have a ready place to park when we come here to visit. The rest of December was spent with visiting family and friends, skirting the edges of the local "Christmas on the Coosa" parade and festivities, and a bit of shopping. Along the way, we put a contract in on 3.24 acres of land East of Wetumpka where we plan to put in an RV site with full utility hookups. Looks like we will need another mower as the property is heavily grassed. Over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we moved the motorhome to our older son's driveway ...HOA be damned ...to better enjoy Christmas with kids and grandkids. It was a great time, but did get complicated when the leveling jacks became flakey and refused to retract. We had to get a mobile mechanic out who was able to retract them by the last ditch method of loosening hydraulic lines and letting hydraulic fluid spurt out until the motorhome was back in driving condition. After reaching the campground we had to let some more fluid spurt out as one jack had re-extenced a bit. For now, we will try to park on relatively level campsites and/or level with planks under the tires. And the motorhome will be headed into service after we get back to Texas.



SOME NOTES ON OUR 2014 RVING COSTS ...

Our total RV mileage for 2014 was 6,358 miles ...around half of the previous year.
- CAMPGROUND COSTS totaled $2,324 for 155 nights ...average of $15 per night including about 20 nights in family driveways.
- COST FOR DIESEL FUEL was $3,532 with avg cost per gallon of $3.64, and avg 6.55 mpg (includes apx 110 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 $123.45 (total of apx 34 gallon in 2 fills of our apx 37 gallon tank). We use LP gas for stovetop cooking, occasional water heater use when electric is not available, and 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, and water heater use very little LP, but the two furnaces are LP hogs. During the year we replaced the RV refrigerator with a residential model so no longer have the propane option there.
- MAINTENANCE COSTS for the year were $5,756. That included routine chassis service and all repairs, and the new regrigerator purchase & installation cost of apx $800 that we did ourselves. Two significant repairs were to the basement ac/heatpump unit and engine alternator replacement.
- MOTORHOME INSURANCE runs us apx $1,200/year. It went down a bit this year after a hard look at why the cost was projected to jump astronomicly. The culprit was the "full replacement" coverage on a motorhome that is now over 10 years old. We went to an agreed value coverage that brought the cost back within reason.
- TOAD COSTS for the 2005 Honda Odyssey included $818 in repairs (of which $740 was AC repair at two service locations), and $1886.12 for 636.4 gallon of gasoline to cover 12,259 miles at apx 15 cents per mile and avg cost $2.96/gallon. Avg mpg for the 2005 Odyssey was apx 19.3. The 2005 Odyssey has apx 125k on the odometer at the end of the year. We towed it apx 6,057 miles this past year, for a total of apx 18k miles towed.

RV TRAVELS SUMMARY TO DATE...
Visited States map

AK, 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 = 38
Visited Provinces map

PLUS Canadian Provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and Yukon Territory

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