Past Houses Farms & Fields

Pahrump was fun! Julie & I had a blast hanging with Pam & Billy, enjoying the company of their family and each other. Can’t say we really did a helluva lot but they were good times! A few days were stupidly hot but the week ended in beautiful weather. All-in-all, we had a great time!

Julie and I headed out from Lakeside Casino RV Park Monday late morning and an hourish later I dropped her off at McCarran airport to catch her flight back to DFW. I kept rolling, planning to spend the night in Flagstaff. Anxious Arizona changed that plan, as they had enacted a statewide nighttime curfew. With no place to hang for a brew or dinner I just kept heading east until I reached curfew time near Petrified Forest National Park.

The Great State of New Mexico’s Roads
The Great State of New Mexico’s Roads

That couple-hour mileage gain put me ahead of schedule for the next day and my original plan to reach Las Vegas, NM was completed by about 1pm so I just kept going eastbound and down, bouncing across northeast New Mexico, a corner of Oklahoma and into Kansas.

 

The unremarkable stretch of southwest Kansas into Dodge City rolled slowly by. I noticed all the grain silos were on the west side of the highway. When I mentioned this Shelley suggested it was because railway tracks were on the west side; finally made more sense than mere coincidence. After a long drive of 12.5 hours I backed into a mediocre site at the Dodge City KOA. It was good enuf for a quick overnight.

Wednesday was truly a day spent “rolling past houses, farms and fields” as I crossed Kansas on US400. Good road overall and got pretty nice winding through a few hills as I neared Missouri. With rain clouds in my mirror I pulled into the heavily wooded Springfield KOA and let them deliver a pretty decent pizza to my site. Early morning storms threatened to throw tree branches onto my rig but the ones that did fall thankfully missed me.

My eastward trek contributed through the Ozarks into western Kentucky and the pretty Kentucky and Bartley Lakes region. I overnighted at at campground I had stayed at before on the east shore of Lake Bartley. Synko got a bath but my clothes did not, as Kentucky apparently is one of the states that overreacted to corona; the campground laundry facility was closed. In the end that gained me about $25 as I griped that they had not informed me of the loss of that amenity. (I also griped about the narrow site they gave me and the flaky power that they had to fix. Management was good to honor my request and I’ll return to that nice campground,)

After a short 90 minute drive Saturday into Nashville I settled into the KOA resort near Opryland where Shelley & Brett joined me in the site next to mine. And that’s where the trip currently finds me this beautiful Sunday morning. Church online is on in 30 so I’ll sign off here and pick up in a week or so after we’ve searched out a distillery or two! Cheers!

Gettin’ Tight

Whiling away a few not-much-to-do-or-see kinda days during this holiday week when all the locals have the good campsites near good attractions hoarded for themselves. So I’ve been at Waterloo, west of Ann Arbor, and now am at Fort Custer, near Battle Creek. Headed to Ionia, a bit north of here, Tuesday for a few days before getting back to the shoreline areas Friday. So far these inland campgrounds have been nice enough; props to Michigan for its state parks—they’re very nice & are well maintained. There’s just not much to do around here.

Valence screw
No wonder the valences worked loose

So I dug out the screwdrivers, wrenches, drill & hardware and got to work tightening all the stuff Indiana and Michigan roads worked loose. I get it: winters are hard on roads but good grief people. It’s no wonder cabinet doors and valences and braces and shower door glides have come undone on your wretched roads; I’ve got a few fillings now rattling around in my mouth too!

Oh yeah, by the way, this insidious heat wave can bust outta here any time! I didn’t come here to enjoy the stupid 90s! 😜

Wretched Road

I decided to get off the Interstate and see some Louisiana countryside. So in LaFayette I turned south on US90 to drive through the penisula-ish land southwest of New Orleans. The highway from LaFayette to Franklin was wretched. I’ve driven better dirt roads in our national forests. The speed limit was generally 65-70 MPH but I had to keep it at about 50 to keep from bouncing off the truck’s roof. Louisiana outta be ashamed.

Fortunately the road smoothed out after Franklin and was actually a pretty drive through the swamp forests of south Louisiana. After an even six hours of driving I was safe & sound and backed into a good site at the KOA in West New Orleans enjoying a cold brew.

Southern BRP & a #~!%^ Detour

I was looking at about 325 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway until I’d leave it and turn toward Greenville to visit a good friend I haven’t seen for maybe ten years. Was gonna be a nice day!

And it was—for the most part. The BRP really is a national treasure. It’s an absolutely beautiful drive as it winds & weaves it way across ridges & valleys, snaking its way beside streams & ponds, through trees & meadows, and across gaps & passes with spectacular vistas. It never got boring. The drive was really nice.

And then, it wasn’t so nice. The drive became a bitch just south of the Boone, NC exit for a 12 mile-ish detour around a closed section of the BRP. This shitty detour wasted me. The detour was onto a road clearly not made for a truck & trailer rig of 57 feet long, 11 feet high. To worsen things, road crews were repaving it so half the road surface was off limits. After dodging the second overhanging rock I decided, F-it. I straddled the centerline, until I got pushed by an ongoing truck to the inside, mountainside lane and its lack of shoulder. I figured the trailer tires and axel took a hit thanks to North Carolina’s piss-poor road maintenance, but kept rolling because traffic was moderate and stopping to investigate would be another problem. As soon as the detour dumped us back onto the blessed Parkway I pulled into the first turnout I could to check things out. Other than some stuff rattling around inside the trailer all seemed well. Nevertheless, I’m still annoyed by the lousy road. I suppose I’ll get over it.

A couple hours later I was tucked into the Travelers Rest KOA, looking forward to hanging with my friend Melba soon. I found a local brewery—Swamp Rabbit—and ordered a pale ale and then an IPA. I barely finished, as exhaustion hit me. I headed back to the campsite and was lights out about 8pm. Not sure I even rolled over until the sun came up.

Overall, the Parkway will remain one of my trip’s highlights. I can’t emphasize enough that if you have the opportunity to experience it, just do it. If you’re going in the fall, gimme a call! It’s beautiful in spring; can’t imagine the fall colors.

I’d traveled all but about 60 miles of the Blue Ridge. Since I’ve already seen the southwestern section of it near Great Smoky Mountains National Park a couple years ago, I’m gonna take a more direct route to Nashville, where I’ll then take on the Natches Trace as I head south & west. Stay tuned.