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April 2011:


 

April 1, 2011:              [Odometer 245000]    We celebrated Kenny's birthday by taking a swamp tour. The day was perfect, the gnat's stayed away, and most of the wildlife cooperated. Check out the photos on the separate page labeled "Cajun Encounters Swamp Tour 2011."

 

April 3, 2011:              We are now down to just ourselves and one other camper representing the snow birds who spent the winter here and Joe is a worker in the camp. The only other trailers belong to one person spending a week here, one spending a month, one who has been here a month and is leaving Tuesday, and a few local workers. The campground is downright empty.


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Panoramic view of empty campground. If you look carefully, you can see our Suburban and camper just right of center.

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During the day, we have been enjoying the sunshine. Taz's favorite position is rolling on her back taking a grass bath.

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The evenings have been very mild and we have enjoyed several camp fires, using up all the wood we were given by fellow campers when they moved on.

 

April 10, 2011             [Odometer 245089-245386]   On the road again heading North. We will take three weeks to get home and intend to travel the Natchez Trace again, the Woodlands Trace, the Ohio River Scenic Byway, and part of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

 

We took I-10 to I-12 to 61 and then picked up the Natchez Trace in Natchez, Mississippi. We planned to stay at Rocky Springs campground on the Trace, but we did not get there until 3:00 PM and it was full. We headed north again and Julie did some quick navigating. I missed the exit for I-27 and, by the time we found a point where we could double back, we were so far north she decided we should just go on th Rte 467. She found a campground just outside Edwards, Mississippi with decent rates so we figured we would stay there two nights (they were prdicting possible severe weather for Monday). We set the GPS and continued on our way. Route 467 is a back country road, but it really was not too bad to travel. However, we have learned to expect surprises and we got a big one when we reached Edwards.


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This was the view that was suddenly ahead of us on the road. (All photos were taken the next day with no trailer attached.) The hump looked deadly, especially considering we are towing a trailer with only ten inches of ground clearance whose wheels are 25 feet behind the wheels of the suburban. My instantaneous mental mathematics said this was not a good direction to travel.

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The road signs only emphasized the problem my mind had already focused on. The traffic behind me would just have to get upset at me as we decided what to do.

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Fortunately, I noticed this little side road behind the buildings to my left (right in the photo) that led to a grade-level crossing. On Monday when the picture was taken, there were cars parked there in front of the town hall, but Sunday the roadway was empty making it easy to haul the trailer through there.

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Close-up side view of the railroad overpass.

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View from far side.


 

Total driving distance for Sunday was 297 miles, way too much hauling the trailer.

 

April 11, 2011             We are now camped at Askew's Landing Camp Ground. This was the site of part of a famous Civil War battle known as the Battle of Big Black River. After seeing the campground and considering our inability to camp on the Natchez Trace, we decided to stay here a week. I am including some photos because it is a beautiful campground with a large pond, geese and ducks, and beautiful scenery.


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Our camp site.

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Mural commemorating the Battle of Big Black River.

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It's hard to see in the photo, but there is a Canada Goose on the island and a lady fishing on the far bank using an old style very long fishing pole with a fixed line and no reel. There was another woman further to the right that was not captured in the picture. Based on the behavior I saw at Hover-Davis, I am sure the goose is setting on a nest. Her mate is keeping station on the mainland.

April 12, 2011             We took a short ride down to the field at the end of the entry field. We had noted a herd of cows there Sunday night with some small calves, but they were not in that field Monday. Note the horns on the one bull. Mama cow had huge horns also, but she did not cooperate for a photo. How did we know who the mama was? Guess which cow the calf ran across the field to when it realized all the cows were moving to a cooler corner.


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April 15, 2011:            We spent the morning huddled in the trailer listening to the thunder and watching all the Tornado warnings and sightings on the television. In 63 years living in New York, I never heard a Tornado Watch or Tornado Warning. In the last few weeks in Mississippi, I have gone through five days of Tornado Warnings and almost every one of them resulted in some actual tornados somewhere around us. I think yesterdays were the closest, hitting 13 and 20 miles away.

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We watched the storms develop. This cell spawned the tornado that hit Jackson.


 

After the rain quit for awhile late in the morning, I decided to get gas and mail a package. When I got to the Post Office, it was 12:15. The Post Office was closed from 11:30 until 1:00 for lunch. In the lobby, there was a scale that allowed me to weigh the package and determine the postage but no stamp machine from which to buy stamps. Ah the joys of the rural South. As I filled the tank prior to heading back to damp, the tornado warning siren sounded again.


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The nice news of the day is that the goose on the island is now on the far side of the pond with five shiny yellow goslings. (They look gray in the photo, but really are yellow.) Spring has arrived, even though it feels like summer.

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Other local residents who were walking near by. They looked like they wanted to come right up to the truck.

 

April16, 2011:             [Odometer: 245493-245811] Another long day on the road. This time we exceeded the 300 mile mark. We took I20 over to the Natchez Trace to I55 then up to Southhaven, Mississippi, which is just below Memphis, Tennessee. We got off to go to Sam's Club for some doggie and people treats and we actually found it, despite the GPS. When we got out of the car, we realized we had traveled back to spring; it was 58 outside. After getting gas, we left the parking lot turning onto "Elmore Street."

 

Julie had routed us around Memphis using the handy dandy AAA maps. In so doing, we found another of "Julie's Jewels." This one was Tennessee 205. The road was decently paved, but narrow with lots of turns and S curves. At least it was not also an up and down roller coaster ride. The first indicator we might be in trouble was when the road, which did appear on the map, did not appear on the GPS. The second indicator was when the line of traffic that had built up behind us all turned left after we had gone straight ahead trhough one particular intersection. We wound up in the crossroads of Eades where we saw a sign for I40. As we cut around the block to get to where the sign indicated, we actually found a post office and mailed the package I had tried to mail yesterday. Then we picked up I40 and continued Northeast. We are spending the night in a rest area; Indiana allows overnight parking in their rest areas. The only negative is the hiss of air brakes as the trucks come in and go out, but then, you get that at a truck stop also.

 

April 17, 2011:            [Odometer: 245811-246075] Woke up to 45 degree weather, but at least the sun is shining, which keeps the batteries charged. What a difference 300 miles makes. We went to breakfast at Cracker Barrel and then traveled to the start of the Woodland Trace. While the road was okay, it does qualify as another of Julie's Jewels. The real disappointment, however, was the attractions that we wanted to see along the way. We decided to skip the Farm Re-enactment as I did not think it was necessary for us to spend $8 to see some farm animals and how things were done in the 1800's, which we both are fairly knowledgeable about. We did pay $5 to drive through the Bison and Elk range. The only buffalo we saw were far away through a bunch of trees and the elk did not put in an appearance. Herd wise, the Bison herd in Lyons is much larger than the one they have here.


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Tennessee River

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Stopped along the Woodland Trace while the dogs make a pit stop.

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Do you see the bison through the trees? They are really there.

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On the return side of the loop in the compound, we had to cross through a small stream that runs over the road. Note the height gauge on the right of the crossing letting you know if it really is possible to cross.

 


 

So, instead of spending one or two days on this trace, we spent about half a day and moved on to the Ohio River Scenic Byway. I guess we were truly spoiled by the Natchez Trace. This byway turned out to be just "normal," typically back country, roads that sort of parallel the Ohio river. We had planned to travel to Fort Defiance, which is at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and hopefully spend the night there, but the road going that way was closed due to severe flooding of the Ohio River. Therefore, we stopped for the night at the Fort Massac State Park in Illinois, just past the city of "Metropolis." There are no utilities here at the park, so it is just like the rest area from last night minus all the truck noises. We have seen a bunny and a bluebird though. Evidence of the flooding was very evident here also. We were told that the water had started to recede and then had come back up again suddenly. I'm sure the newest surge was due to runoff from that huge line of storms that went through on Friday. We will see more of the byway tomorrow and will try to find a campground with utilities to spend a couple of days at. We really do not want to get back to New York too early.


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We passed this former trailer and got a photo for posterity. Earlier, we passed a junkyard for old campers. It was kind of a sad sight.

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What more can I say?

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The Ohio River was definitely over its banks although there were also many indicators that it had been much higher than when we saw it.

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Debris and excess mud left from the river in the park.

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April 18, 2011:            [Odometer: 246075-246395]             Today we continued along the Ohio River Scenic Byway spending part of the day in Illinois, part back in Kentucky and ending up in Indiana. We stopped for the night at a very nice rest area about five miles south of Austin, Indiana.



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Another nice "little" bridge over the Ohio river. This one we did not need to cross.

 

We see many interesting things when we travel, but unfortunately many do not get captured on film. For example, today we saw what I am sure the farmer refers to as a "free range" chicken farm. There were many multi-colored chickens (I'm not farmer enough to know the breed) in a fenced enclosure about 40 yards long by 20 yards wide. Rows of 55 gallon blue plastic drums were lined up about every two yards in each direction. They each had a cutout in the side near the top that was obviously the entrance to this nesting area. Many of the chickens were setting on top of the drums. We also saw a pig outfitted with a harness and tied to a porch, someone's pet. Then there was the small herd of zebras. Yes, zebras! We have also seen numerous large factories, power plants, and farms.

 

I am also stopping designating roads as "Julie's Jewels" because it seems like all the roads we take that are not interstates or multi-lane roads would classify. The signs we se most often are shown below, but there are also plenty of hills.


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However, this is the way we have chosen to travel, off the interstates for the most part. I often have mentioned some of the problems, and it is no easy trick hauling a 27 foot trailer through some of these areas, but we are getting to see America. There are still many small cities with buildings dating back to the early 1900s or earlier and we have driven through several of them. There is spectacular scenery everywhere and right now we are enjoying many trees that are in bloom including the tail end of the dogwood season. The dogwood is the state flower of New York, but you hardly ever see them there, sort of like the state bird, the bluebird.

 

Of course, not everyone (anyone?) is all that happy when they get stuck behind this slow moving combo and some of them are moron enough to express themselves by way of not so nice gestures or incredibly stupid reckless driving to get around us, but I try not to get too upset by them. I just call them names within the confines of my car (windows are always up) and keep moving. I am learning also to accept the fact that everyone who can will try to pull out in front of us instead of waiting for us to pass. I think the hardest thing to do is to change lanes in these cities (small or large) because no one wants to let you move over and it is very hard to judge exactly where the back of the trailer is.

 

One other thing I need to mention was a memory find for me. We stopped at lunch at Cracker Barrel. We us them a lot whn we are on the road because we can get a decent meal for somewhere between $20 and $30 and they make it easy to park with a trailer. Today we spent a little time looking around their antique candies and I found "Skybar." I haven't seen these in years, probably since Dad's Store. The one thing I know for sure, the last time I had one, I did not pay $1.49 for it!


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April 19, 2011:            [Odometer: 245395-246647]  We got up this morning and started driving trying to get out ahead of the thunderstorms that started last night. We forgot about following the scenic byway, although we were on it part of the time, and just drove. To say we were unsuccessful at beating the storms would be an understatement, but at least it did finally stop in the afternoon and we escaped all tornado watches and warnings. If possible, I will never travel in rain again. We skidded twice while stopping, once halfway through the intersection. I also worry about driving through standing water, which we saw plenty of, and down steep wet hills. Julie was terrified and, since she was not driving, had no control over the situation.


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During part of the drive, the rain was so heavy we had to pull off into a Lowe's parking lot. The picture to the right was taken from that vantage point after the rain had let up quite a bit.

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The water closest to the camera is a drainage ditch. The water between the top strip of grass and the truck used to be another lane for traffic, but it is totally flooded.

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During the afternoon, the bad weather started closing in around us again. We hoped the cemetary was not an omen. The skies went from bad,...

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to worse, (the circular shape is a reflection in the windshield)...

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to really scary. Fortunately, while we did catch some more rain, it was not severe weather.

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After the rain stopped, as we were heading for the campground, we came across this little farm where all the animals share a common pasture. The little calf in the center was really frisky and was running right at us.

 

 

 

Tonight we are staying in an RV park in Lancaster, Ohio. Since the weather for tomorrow is really nasty again, we will probably stay for one more day so we can travel in fair weather on Thursday.

 

April 20, 2011:            So much for jinxing myself. I awoke a little before 3 am to the sound of a long wailing siren. Shortly after that we lost power to the campground. The trailer shook and rattled and there was lightning all around, but the storm finally passed over us and we went back to bed about 5 am. Today it is still very windy so we will wait it out here and hope for nice traveling weather tomorrow. We have also changed our mind about getting back to New York and should be back into the State sometime tomorrow afternoon, although I doubt we will make it all the way to Rochester.

 

April 21, 2011:            [Odometer: 246647-247086]:             439 miles today. That is a record with the trailer on board, but we made it to LeRoy, NY by 8:30 PM. We started out on route 22 until we found the interstate and then stayed on interstates all day long except for a stop for gas and lunch. We had planned to stay at a rest area just south of Buffalo, in Angola, but after an hour's nap, we decided to keep going, which is what we did. We parked temporarily for the night at one of the weekend camp sites and will find out what is going on in the morning.

 

April 22, 2011:            I woke up at 7:30 am and it was 36 degrees and snowing. SNOWING!!!! It was only flurries and had stopped by 8:00 am, but it still ruined my perfect winter with no snow or ice. We will know by the end of the day if the electrician is able to finish wiring our site for the summer. if he finishes, we will move there this evening or tomorrow. If not, we will have to move to some other site temporarily.

 

April 25, 2011:            Some photos in the area.


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Oatka Creek is the third longest tributary of the Genesee River, located entirely in the Western New York region of the U.S. state. From southern Wyoming County, it flows 58 miles to the Genesee near Scottsville, draining an area of 215 square miles that includes all or part of 23 towns and villages in Wyoming, Genesee, Livingston and Monroe counties as well. Its name means "leaving the highlands" or "approaching an opening" in Seneca. Like so many other areas right now, it is totally over its banks.

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The entire western side of the campground has been reworked over the fall, winter, and spring. It has all new sewer and water and new electrical supplies, run underground instead of overhead. It is due to open May 1, 2011 for campers. With all the rain, there is no way it will happen, especially since the ground is too soft to allow campers to be pulled up on the sites. Nor has the rain allowed the owners to get the work done. On top of that, the tractor is not working.

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The area in the center of this photo will be our future site. The two trailers in the picture at the bottom of the hill were the only two trailers left on this side of the campground over the winter.


 

April 27, 2011:            [6:10 PM EDT] Absolutely Incredible! If you’ve been following our blog, you know that we came back to New York a week early to get away from the Tornado Watches and Tornado Warnings. Surprise! Someone upstairs has different plans for us. We are currently under a Tornado Watch and there is a Tornado Warning just South and West of us. Since the line of storms is moving to the Northeast at 60 mph (yes, 60 – that’s super fast and super high winds), well you can see where I am going with this. In fact, I just heard the first rumblings of thunder and the temperature is taking a nose dive.


 

April 30, 2011:            I was mistaken about which was our intended camp site. Ours was a bit higher up the hill – the hill that used to be a ski slope. It was actually the site I was standing on when I took the previous picture.


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The site we were supposed to have.

 The site was created by building up the ground and putting gravel on it. On the back end and the down hill side of the site, there is a four foot drop. The only way to get onto the site was to come up the far side of the hill, turn and travel across the slope above the site, and then back into it. I was not willing to risk the trailer. Besides, if the person on the site just barely visible at the bottom of the picture were to build any kind of deck, which many of the seasonal campers do, there would be absolutely no way to move the trailer off the site at the end of the season unless the person tore down the deck. After much consideration, Julie and I decided we needed to look for another campground. Even another site in the same campground would mean some kind of side hill lie, and we all know, that makes the golf ball go in funny directions.

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The site at Timberline

We checked out the other campground in LeRoy called Timberline Lake Park Campground and immediately decided this was the place for us. The site is relatively flat and level, and we are nestled among trees, which will provide shade this summer. In addition, we saved $344 over the seasonal cost at Frost Ridge and we are not going to have to put up with the concerts and other weekend activities that Frost Ridge will be having all season. This will be a much quieter location. We are now all set up.


By the way, we did leave Frost Ridge on friendly terms. They applied my $100 deposit to the week we stayed there and did not charge any extra, even though their normal weekly rate would have exceeded that.

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Behind our camp site is a large swamp area with mature trees. It houses chipmunks, rabbits, geese, Pilated woodpeckers and many more. It will also serve as a shield from North winds. The only negative is that it is also probably a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. However, you can at least see the mosquitoes, unlike the little gnats in Mississippi., and there are lots of effective ways to keep them away.



 

Our updates will diminish from now until the end of the summer. Our primary goal this summer is to sort out our storage unit and we will not be moving the trailer at all. We do intend to take a few day trips and I will document those or anything else special which happens. Stop in and check it out now and then. I will try to indicate whenever I update the files, but do not expect our normal ongoing chronicles.