Journal - March 8 - 31, 2007


Thursday, March 8 - I got myself ready to leave with no trouble. The RV started right up and the Jeep was hooked up without a problem. I will be forever thankful to Chip Baker for getting my RV back in shape. I had several things worked on while in Elephant Butte, NM. The ride felt very different than on my trip to the Southwest. Maybe part of that was because I was a little more relaxed. But mostly it was the result of the work done on the RV, I'm sure!

I left Elephant Butte mid-morning and arrived in Van Horn, TX later in the day. I was probably more anxious about leaving than I thought and I was exhausted at the end of the day. It was hard to leave. I made many wonderful people in New Mexico and I look forward to going back.

Getting fuel was a nightmare. Just as I finished fueling up my RV, the whole computer system went down in the truck stop. I spent more than an hour with no resolution to the problem. I finally told them I would be staying the night at a nearby RV park and would be back in the morning.

First day out and I broke two of my "rules". I was NOT going to stay in a campground - only truck stops. AND I wasn't ever going to stay at a KOA!!! Seeing the sign and realizing they were only .2 mile from the truck stop dissolved my plans to conserve funds. The KOA was actually a welcome relief at the end of the day.

Friday, March 9 - The truck stop problem solved nicely, I hit the road mid-morning. I totally changed my plans to drive a southern route and ended up taking RT 20 off of RT 10. I was looking at the sites for truck stops and found that there was the largest Rattlesnake Roundup in the country being held in Sweetwater, TX. So I had a plan! I arrived at the TA Travel Center late afternoon. It is a very busy place. Busier than other truck stops I have stayed at. But I was glad to arrive and settled in.

Saturday, March 10 - I was up early today and moved my RV from the TA Travel Center to a KMart just a few miles down the road. The manager there was very happy to accommodate me. I left the RV and went to the Rattlesnake Roundup. It was a fascinating event! Rattlesnakes everywhere. They don't count the number of snakes, but add up the pounds of snakes that are brought in. I watched a snake handler, people milking the snakes. Also they gutted and skinned them.

So as I write this I am back at the Travel Center and will hopefully shove off early tomorrow.

Sunday, March 11 - Got a late start this morning. Left after 10. It was raining, but I could see blue skies ahead. The ride was uneventful. Not too much to see. I had to unhook my car at a truck stop because I headed around a building and the way was blocked by a truck that shouldn't have been there. Good practice!

I am very glad to have gotten around Dallas/Ft. Worth. Parts of RT 20 there are 6 lanes wide. I can't imagine what Monday morning commuter traffic is like! Stopped in Terrell, TX at a TA Travel Center. Will stay the night. I used the trucker's lounge to charge my phone and do email. It is so smoky I know I'll pay for it in the morning.

Monday, March 12 - It started raining sometime during the night. As I write this it is nearly noon. I'm back in the Travel Center at a restaurant booth this time, with a plug so I can charge my phone and use the computer. [My phone battery needs replacing. Suddenly it isn't holding a charge.] The weather is nasty. High winds and rain. The threat of a tornado has passed. There are lots of RVs in the lot. I'm not going anywhere right now. There is no sense in putting myself in danger. I'm not in any hurry. I've caught up on a few emails and online bill paying.

Later in the day

Well, the skies cleared enough so I thought I'd hit the road. Put the storm behind me. It wasn't raining when I left but I did run into rain along the way. No wind though, which is a good thing. I got as far as Greenwood, LA and will be staying at a Flying J Truck Stop. Plenty of room for RVs. I've stayed in at Flying J's before.

The ride through Texas was not very exciting. I did notice how it changed as I drove east. The first part of my ride on RT 10 in West Texas I saw a lot of cattle and big stock yards. Then when I got onto RT 20 it changed to desert. As I got closer to Sweetwater I noticed fields that were being prepared for cotton, which will get planted soon. And there were a few big wind farms off in the distance. On the east side of Dallas/Ft. Worth the scenery changed dramatically. It looked more like CT parkways. Lots of trees, grass and the daffodils and other flowers were up already.

I reached Greenwood, LA, just west of Shreveport, late in the afternoon. The Flying J Truck Stop was busy as usual. I found a good spot to park and took a deep breath. I've stayed at Flying J's before and they are a good and safe place to park.

Tuesday, March 13 - I was awake at 4:45am. It is amazing how early some people feel they need to get on the road. The parking lot at the Flying J was nearly empty. There were only 2 other RVs still there. And I was hearing truck after truck and RV after RV leave. I took my time getting ready for the day and then started the RV and went to the RV fuel line to fuel up. It was a good time to do it since there was no one there. Then I parked again and went into the building and checked email and charged my cell phone.

I was on the road just after the sun came up at about 7:45 or so. I was held up for quite some time on I20 because of road construction. I lost at least an hour. I20 in Louisiana is a poor road for much of the drive.

I arrived at the Natchez State Park and made arrangements to stay a week. Before going to my spot I drove out of the park and to a place to fuel up my RV. Wanted to be ready to roll when I pull out next week. I got myself into my spot with a little help from a fellow traveler. Always nice to have someone wave you in, although I am getting pretty good a backing up the RV. It took me a very short time to park the rig and get hooked up.

I chased around Natchez to find a battery for my phone. This is not Verizon territory. Neither Walmart, nor Radio Shack had the battery I needed.

The evening was spent settling in a bit. I'll watch a little TV and get to sleep early.

Wednesday, March 14 - I slept until 8:00am. Felt GOOD!!! The weather today was supposed to be rainy with thunder storms, but they keep changing the forecast. I guess the storm is moving past this area. I had already decided to stay home today and catch up on things. Needed to keep the journal going and do some bookkeeping. I also want to plan the rest of my week. Someone online had told me that this was "Spring Pilgrimage" time in Natchez, with lots going on. I've searched the internet and found the things I want to do. There are is entertainment and house tours. Tomorrow I'll go into town and get the tickets I need. Looking at the map, Natchez doesn't seem to be very hard to get around.

Natchez is a city in Adams County. It is the county seat. The community was named for Indian tribe, or for Indian term for "woods" or "timber".

Thursday, March 15 - I did a little exploring in Natchez. The downtown area is small. The outer roads are two-way and the inner roads are all one-way. A little confusing until you figure it out. I made a stop at a yarn shop [of course!] and had a great chat with the manager and also the owner. Couldn't resist a few balls of sock yarn.

From the yarn shop I went to the Natchez Visitor Center. There I purchased a ticket for the play "Southern Exposure" which is Natchez' own hilarious spoof on the homes, homeowners and tourists of Pilgrimage. It was a delightful play.

Friday, March 16 - It was looking like a gloomy day and the wind was beginning to pickup. The manager of the yarn shop had suggested that I take a ride back across the Mississippi River and go to the Frogmore Plantation. It is a working cotton plantation that is also a living museum. The tour was wonderful. The tour guide was very knowledgeable.

From there I went to the Delta Music Museum. I almost didn't stop. But was I ever glad I did. The museum is housed in the old post office on Louisiana Avenue in Ferriday, Louisiana, the birthplace of cousins Micky Gilley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Rev. Jimmy Swaggart. I had a wonderful tour by the gracious lady who was working that day.

Saturday/Sunday March 17/18 - I spent a good part of the weekend just relaxing. I went out and about for awhile to see more of the area and did some laundry.

Monday, March 19 - Visited Longwood, an old mansion in Natchez. And I did a little more exploring in parts of the area I hadn't been.

Tuesday, March 20 - Arrived in Jackson, MS. I was hoping to have my rig looked at here but I'm not going to do that. Too congested. No one has correct information for me in regard to driving directions. The city is very fast paced and difficult to get around. I'll do without the generator until I get to Nashville. Hopefully get it fixed at the Camping World there. In the meantime I am picking my way north, hoping I don't run out of fuel on a 444 mile long road that has no commercial business. Have to look carefully for stops.

Wednesday, March 21 - It was a better day today. I'm still in Jackson. I finally got a new battery for my cell phone. And I stopped by a local yarn shop and had a nice chat with the owner. Again I couldn't resist a little bit of yarn.

Thursday, March 22 - I hit the road again this morning and got through the south end of Jackson fairly easily. The Natchez Trace is a beautiful ride. Slow and easy. There is one gas station on the Trace at mile 193. After fueling my RV I checked the tires. They all needed a little air. I took the cap off the first tire and the air came rushing out! Not good. I went back into the camp store and asked for help. "Chris", another traveler, said he would be glad to take a look. He wasn't happy with what he saw. The gal in the camp store called a friend to get the best reference for my problem. We called that garage and the mechanic gave us instruction on how to stop the leak. That worked well, but I couldn't get air into my tires because the compressor there wasn't powerful enough. I ended up driving about 13 miles off the Trace to the garage to have all the tires checked and air put in. The garage was difficult to get into and going out there was a huge dip in the pavement for drainage. Things went flying around the rig and locker doors opened. I got myself down the road to a turnout and put things back in place.

On the road again, I made it to the Tombigbee State Park in Tupelo, MS late in the afternoon.

Friday, March 23 - The State Park is beautiful. Way off any roads, tucked in the woods with a small lake in the middle of the property.

I got a late start this morning. One cannot stop in Tupelo without visiting the Elvis Presley birthplace. The small house has been restored and the surrounding property has been turned into a memorial to Elvis. There is a chapel, museum and of course a gift shop.

Sunday, March 25 - I got on the road for the last leg of the Natchez Trace Parkway ride. It was an incredible drive. The scenery was beautiful and the slow pace is a nice break from Interstate driving. I arrived in Nashville without incident. The directions I was given to the RV park were perfect and I didn't have to struggle with unmarked roads. Got settled in for the evening and relaxed for the balance of the day.

Monday, March 26 - I had to unhook the RV again today to take it to the Camping World which was just next door to the RV park. The generator had not worked since the first day out on my trip from NM. First it wouldn't power the house electric, then it wouldn't stay going at all.

The mechanic at Camping World diagnosed the problem but because they didn't deal with Generac, he didn't have parts on hand to move further ahead.

Tuesday, March 27 - No trip to Nashville would be complete without a night at the Grand Ole Opry. The performances there are always broadcast on the radio, live. The show was wonderful.

Wednesday, March 28 - Raining today. Getting out of Nashville from the Two Rivers RV Park was easy. Most of the traffic was coming into the city, so I didn't have to fight the commuters. Most of the ride was in the rain, but it cleared as I got nearer to Berea, Kentucky.

Thursday, March 29 - Today I drove to Stanford, Kentucky to visit with Audrey and Ken. They are old friends from Maine who have begun their retirement adventure by purchasing a house in Kentucky and for now will spend winters there.

Friday, March 30 - Went into Berea and walked around a bit. Visited with some of the shop owners and met a young man from Wakefield,NH who is in Berea College here. He was as surprised as I was to meet someone from home.

Saturday, March 31 - The drive from Berea was very easy. All highway. I was a day ahead of schedule and called ahead to the campground to see if they were able to take me early. The closer I got to Columbus the more I felt like I was reaching home. I had spent 2 months in this area last summer and got to know it and some of the people pretty well.