Well, I figure it is about time to post something about the start of our third western trip. But the “getting there” part of any road trip is usually not that exciting – lots of driving, interstate highways and gas stations. However, we planned this trip to travel more on 2 and 4 lane roads and avoid the interstates as much as we could.
After leaving Georgia on I-20, skipping through bands of rain and down to Alabama’s university town of Tuscaloosa, we pulled into Lake Lurleen State Park just outside of town. A very nice campground where we had a lakefront spot, but no cell service unless we walked toward the gatehouse and pointed our phones just right. Ah well, didn’t need the phones.
Intermittent rain and thunderstorms overnight were the remains of tropical storm Nicholas – and we are pretty familiar with hurricanes and tropical storms while camping, so it was fine. Dinner these first few nights was easy, since Jackie does a great job of preparing pasta salads, frozen ravioli lasagna, stroganoff and fresh salad makings. Don’t have to mess around with the grill when you are only one night in camp.
Back on the road early and we were headed across Mississippi on Hwy 82, the road that would take us all the way just past Amarillo, Texas. No complaints, since we had almost nobody on the road with us and it was mostly a straight run. The pines of Georgia turned into rolling hills and then flat farmland as we drove past fields of soybeans and cotton in the Mississippi delta.
Our second stop was just over the Mississippi River along the largest oxbow lake in the US: Chicot Lake. The campground was a county park along the shoreline of what was once the main channel of the river and we had a nice site that overlooked the lake. It was a back-in, so we had to disconnect the Jeep and hook up the electric. But one look at the electric post told me I was glad I had our surge suppressor attached to the shore line. Actually, as I flipped the breaker, expecting anything from sparks to bugs flying out, the power came on and we had no problems. I chose not to connect to the water supply, however, as the general disrepair and horrendous condition of the bath house shouted “danger Will Robinson.” I think the county needs to increase their park budget. And of course more rain and thunderstorms overnight. But, we catch an osprey on a shoreline perch near us, so that was nice.
On the road again early and Hwy 82 was still a quiet, straight road west. If we passed or were passed by a handful of trucks all day it was a lot. Rain on and off, which has left a nasty grime over the front of the Jeep, but it has kept the temperature in the upper 70’s. Our destination is Texarkana, but we had a lunch stop planned mid-way. As we drove through more farm fields in the flat Mississippi River floodplain we were surprised to learn that Arkansas is the birthplace of and second largest warm water aquaculture, growing baitfish, striped and largemouth bass and catfish. They started with goldfish years ago. Well, the egrets and herons were certainly happy, from what we saw.
Our lunch stop was in the town of El Dorado at Three Birds Brewing. It was adjacent to a strip mall, which made parking the rig easy, and we were some of the only folks inside for lunch. Well, the folks back home know we always manage to find a brewery along the way, so of course we had to have a flight of their beer with lunch. Pulled pork nachos and poutine with cheese curds and pulled pork were a pretty hearty fare – but the blonde, Octoberfest, pilsner, Mexican lager and Imperial stout helped wash it down. Kodi was disappointed we couldn’t include him in the visit, but was happy to be on the road again.
Texarkana wasn’t much farther and again our spot was on a nice lake managed by the Texas Corps of Engineers: Clear Creek Campground. The rain had finally quit around lunchtime, so the sky cleared off for a nice sunset. This was one of the best sunsets, just watching the cloud colors changed and reflected in the water, with egrets and herons flying off to roost for the night. Magical.
We loved our spot along the lake, but we had one strange event. When we got to the site there was no water from the spigot. We kind of needed to add water to the tanks, since we had been using only what we had from home, and that was maybe a third of a tank to start with. This was the point where we would fill with fresh water and finally take a nice shower.
Folks in a nearby site said they didn’t know about it, but … oh, wait, did this help? They turned on some valve and suddenly we had water. Lousy pressure, but ok, I can fill it later. While doing a walkabout with the dog we noticed water leaking out of another nearby site – figured that was why the water was shut off. Hmm, maybe I better fill before they shut it all down. Yep, they decided they couldn’t make a repair and would have to shut off our water and move us to another spot. “Wait! Just let me try to get more in the tank! We want to stay where we are.” So we added a bit more to the tanks and stayed to enjoy the sunset and went ahead and had our showers in the morning. (They were down to only one operating shower anyway, so the motorhome worked just fine).
The next leg of the trip was a bit shorter, so Jackie and I had time to drive into Texarkana and play tourists for an hour. But it was dead. Other than folks at church (this is Sunday), the wide streets of the town that straddles the Texas and Arkansas border were empty. Not that it looked like there was much that would have been open anyway. Sad to see these cool brick buildings fall into such disrepair and downtowns just become ghost towns.
Connected the Jeep and headed out once again on Hwy 82 for another straight run through towns like Blossom, Stamp, Paris and Bonham. We are staying at Bonham State Park with another nice view of a lake. This time we were hot enough to go for a swim. Mid 90’s and it felt good to cool off in the lake, even though the fish kept poking Jackie. This was a pull-thru spot, so tomorrow we can hit the road for the run just beyond Wichita Falls. For the most part we are driving 4 hours a day with one stop for gas and/or a Walmart (oh, we forgot …) stop. We could have pushed it farther each day, but what’s the rush?
I am going to try and post this with pictures, since I think we can get wifi at the HQ building next to the swimming area. Watch for another update soon. Thanks for coming along on the journey with us.