Travel Log for April, 2004
Month 2 of the Magical Book Tour

Updated April, 2004


Log Date: +2190: 040401: 35N2.88': 90W1.74': 256': Graceland RV Park, Memphis, TN 38116

On Thursday the weather finally turned nice. After our walk we headed out to visit the Memphis Library. My first stop was to see Johanna Edwards of WYPL, the library radio station. I gave her a book with a packet of information and we agreed to plan for an interview the middle of May. I decided on the spot we would change our schedule to come back for the interview. I also gave 10 copies of Memphis 7.9 to the Library and got partial approval for the press release I had written.

Our next stop was CERI (Center for Earthquake Research and Information) at the University of Memphis. There I talked with Gary Patterson, a geologist who also serves as their Information Services Director, and presented him with a couple of copies of my book. We talked about other authors who had visited CERI for information and how their approach compared to mine. Gary showed me some of the computer tools they have for mapping the New Madrid Fault Zone, including subterranean views of where the more recent small temblors have occurred. It was a fascinating display, and you could see how the pattern of small events mapped out the structures below the surface.

Next we visited the Tiger Bookstore and I talked with Jamie. He asked for five more books on consignment. I talked with the manager at Davis-Kidd Booksellers and they are reviewing their plans for May. Burke's Bookstore is carrying my book but only one at a time.

When we returned to the rig I found email from John Lovett at the Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs with a copy of his review of the book. Things were looking up.

Friday we did some housekeeping then headed out again for book tour business. I took the books by the Tiger Bookstore next to the University and went to Davis-Kidd. Rachel said they did not have an opening for a booksigning, but she did want to purchase five books for their shelves. Back home I finished my new PDF files and tried to upload them to Booksurge, but their website was having problems, so I aborted that attempt.

That evening Alice and I went to the Rock and Roll Cafe, about 100 yards away, to hear Joe Kent perform. It was a fun evening, though Joe rode the political horse a bit too much. We did hear a lot of Elvis impersonations.

Saturday morning we tried once again to get our mail, but this time found the Post Office was closed on Saturday. We located a Brookstone Store and bought a new alarm clock. I also bought printer ink -- an item we are using much more of than in the past. Later in the day I was able to set up a new book job at Booksurge and uploaded the files. I also sent Stephanie an email about all the partial job orders in my account. She called later in the week and we got them resolved.

I also decided to join www.authorsden.com. It costs me some money but does offer a platform for telling people about me and my works. I just need to put all the material together for that website. You can go there and find me if you wish.

Sunday was a day to relax and do more catch up. I mapped out a plan to take books to the Beale Street bookstores. I also decided to try my hand at selling on eBay and put up signed copies of Memphis 7.9 First Edition on a Buy Now plan. It cost about $10 total, but I figured it might move some books.

The next morning I finally got all the pieces put together and we went to execute my plan. We also went by the Post Office and finally got our mail. Naturally, it did not have what we were looking for.

I walked Beale Street and spoke to several gift shops about carrying my book. Most said the owner/manager wasn't there and to come back tomorrow. I did sell one book to Elliot Schwab, the owner of Schwabs on Beale Street. If you go by Memphis, that is one of the real sights to see. He has almsot everything for sale you could even imagine, except my book. He suggested I visit the Center for Southern Culture on Main Street, and there I met Lizi Beard, artist and manager. She took a book to show to her "committee" and said she would get back to me.

Next we headed for the City Offices to see the Mayors, but they were closed for a Martin Luther King memorial. We walked next door to see the Army Corps of Engineers, and after going through security (and leaving my pocket knife in protective custody) we made it to the office of Bob Anderson, Public Affairs Officer. I presented him with a couple of books and he returned the favor with a couple of books giving the history of the Memphis COE Office.

Returning to the rig there was another urgent email waiting for me: the Radio/TV Interview Report people needed to have my materials for preparing my June 1 ad in their publication. I spent the evening finalizing the questionnaire they had sent and printing out copies of my other collateral.

Tuesday morning I mailed the materials to RTIR and we distributed the Press Releases and books to the Commercial Appeal Newspaper and the Memphis Business Journal. A young man from Rochester, NY, guided us to the Rendevouz Restaurant just off Monroe for some BBQ ribs. We would never have found the place without his help. Going by the Mayor's office(s) we left books and press releases, and I had a chance to shake the hand of Mayor Herenton of Memphis. The other mayor, Mayor Wharton of Shelby County, was in a meeting. I had one book left and when we walked by the Chamber of Commerce Offices, I said why not. We went inside and gave a book to Greg Krosnos in Economic Development. He said he knew just the person to see it first.

The day was not over. I had learned that the Emergency Management Agency had moved to somewhere on Flicker Street, and working with our mapping software I found what might be the place. We headed across town and after asking enough questions I found the EMA offices in the basement of one of the buildings behind a locked door with a peephole. There was a button to push and when the speaker asked why I was there, I said I wanted to visit with Joe Lowry, the person in EMA who had purchased a copy of my book last fall. After a time the door buzzed and I went inside.

It reminded me a little bit of a bomb-shelter with no one there. A young lady in fatigues finally came out and said I should go into one of the unmarked doors. I opened it and went inside to meet Joe Lowry, who turned out to be the Planning Officer for the Memphis-Shelby County Emergency Management Agency. He called in Sammy Crews, Exercise Officer, and we had a great discussion for the next two hours. Joe liked my book and talked of his frustrations in trying to get the message across in Memphis of the potential danger. Of course, he is also planning for every other kind of emergency that could arise. It was obvious he is pretty stressed out by all the pushing on a rope that he must do. I signed the book I had sent to him and presented another signed copy to Sammy. I believe this was a most important contact for me to make, and I hope we will be able to share information and ideas in the future. In particuler, we talked about the www.the79survivor.com website, and how they may have some materials I can at least link to.

We made it back to the rig about 5:30, and I was exhausted. I napped until 8:30 when we had a late supper and watched TV, then I went to bed.

Log Date: +2196: 040407: 36N35.50': 89W32.60': 302': Relax Inn, New Madrid, MO 63869

Wednesday morning the weather was overcast with occasional sprinkles. We were up early to shower. Alice took a load of clothes over to the washing machines while I started breakfast. After our walk around the Graceland parking lots and breakfast, we rigged for travel. We made it out at 10:00 on our way to New Madrid.

Rather than follow the Interstate, I chose a route through the middle of Memphis (north on I-240) and caught US-51 just the other side of Wolf River. It was a smooth divided highway that took us through the hills and flatlands between Memphis and Dyersburg. In addition to the Wolf, we crossed the Loosahatchie, the Hatchie, and the Forked Deer. We also had a chance to closely inspect the buildings in that area and estimate what the impact of the shaking would be to what all we saw. We concluded the fields would mostly survive, but over half the bridges (especially those over the bigger rivers) and half the houses and most of the business structures would fall. The fear I keep hearing from the locals about liquefaction did not seem to be a real problem. However, the US-51 would probably be impassable except for separated segments of it.

One problem we discussed was that the people in that region would receive little help because everything would be focused on the major urban areas. Also, there would be a hoard of "locusts" pouring by foot out of Memphis in all directions, and all of the small businesses would have an extreme problem with looting and pilfering. We did not see anything that would supply food for the locals, let alone the refugees, for longer than a week. There was very little warehousing or edible farm production along the way.

As we approached Dyersburg we took the US-51 Bypass route that brought us around the west side of town to connect to Interstate-155. It was interesting to see how the bluffs rise abruptly out of the very flat farm land. I know from my studies that they are made of loess, a form of uncompacted sanddunes left over from the glacial period, 15,000 years ago. The bluffs were at the edge of the river channel a few centuries ago.

Turning west on I-155 we headed the four miles to the bridge across some very flat lands. The road rose a bit when we came to the Obion River, yet another bridge to fall. In general, the only high spots in that area are the freeway exchanges that have been built up so the local roads can cross the freeway.

As we approached the intersection with SR-181 the road climbed to the top of the levees and embankments that protected the farmlands to the east from the floods of the Mississippi to the west. We finally came to the bridge itself and I noted the various places that things happened in my book. I had created a fictictous bridge for other plot reasons, but the story is based on that bridge. Oh well, the one that is there is just another old bridge.

We continued on past Caruthersville and caught I-55 to head north. The land became even flatter up towards Portageville, and the road became somewhat rough from the breaks in the concrete slabs sitting on the soft soil. We were in Pemiscot County, and Pemiscot is an Indian word for "liquid mud."

We took the exit to New Madrid and followed US-61 northeast for a couple of miles to the Relax Inn. When we saw it, we almost left. It is in a sad state of disrepair, and there was a single car outside the long row of small rooms of the motel. I rang the doorbell and was admitted to meet an immigrant who could not speak English very well. He said the camping sites were in back and were $16 per night. We drove back and I checked out the electrical to be sure we wouldn't fry our equipment. That looked okay, but we decided to forego using anything else.

I set up the TV and DirecWay very quickly and we went back to pay for two nights. Afterwards we drove to the museum by the river and I made an appointment to see the director of the museum on Thursday. After driving all over the town sightseeing, we headed back to the rig where I could work on the website. There had been a suggestion of a place to eat but we decided to cook our own.

Thursday morning the weather was a little better. We took a long walk back into the residential section behind the motel. There were a number of small flowering trees. Some looked like dogwood, and others looked like pink colored dogwood. We were told later they were crabapple. Wolf enjoyed the walk and smells.

After breakfast I drove back to the museum and met with Ella Valle. She purchased six copies of Memphis 7.9 for sale in the museum, so I had achieved another of my goals. As I announced in my Press Release of 4/9/04, my book was now available at the namesake for the fault.

That evening another couple arrived pulling a 32 foot fifth-wheel. They were from Indiana and had stayed at the Relax Inn several years ago. They confirmed the place had run down. We tried to find a pedastal with safe power for them to plug into, but there was nothing other than ours. I removed our plug and we reverted to inverter power so they would have power for the night.

Log Date: +2198: 040409: 36N52.76': 89W333.93': 310': Elks Lodge #2319, Sikeston, MO

It took little time to rig for travel since the electric was already put away. So we took a walk around the New Madrid city streets before heading out. The weather was pleasant.

The drive was only 21 miles up US-61 through the flat, flat farms north of New Madrid. At one point it was apparent our elevation had dropped ten or so feet because water appeared in the ditch alongside the road. We came into Sikeston and took the US-60 cutoff over to US-62, passing by a number of larger businesses. Sikeston was a much bigger town than I had expected.

We turned right on US-62 and found Dona Street half a mile east. The Elks Lodge was visible four blocks south sitting in an open field area next to a small body of water. We parked in front of the building and looked around for someone in attendance, and then for a place to park. Ted came out the back door and pointed out the electrical connections on the light pole. We filled with water and moved over to set up camp. I quickly had the TV and Internet in operation.

It was only 11am and Ted said the bar would open at 4pm. It was early in the day so we visited bookstores in Sikeston and left a review copy at the Book Bug and Lambert's. The wind was blowing so we returned to the rig and took life easy. I tried to rework the new cover for Memphis 7.9 to embed the fonts then decided to take the offer from Booksurge of $50 to do it for me. I sold a couple of books at the Elks that evening where we went for drinks and dinner.

Saturday morning I returned to the Book Bug and got a verbal okay they would take the book. I also gave Merlin Hagy a copy to take to the Standard-Democrat since he worked there. We had an early lunch at Lambert's, the Home Of The Throwed Rolls. It was quite an experience, and one I highly recommend. The food was very good and more than adequate, and they come around with rolls, beans, fried okra, and other things and fill your plates with whatever you want. Their comment is that you will not go away hungry. Alice and I can both attest to that.

Over the weekend I did a couple of news articles to propose to the paper. I also updated the reviews page and press releases for the79scenario.com. The weather had turned cold, windy, and mostly miserable, so sitting in the rig and working on the computer was a pleasant experience compared to the alternatives.

The eBay auction ended Sunday night and it was not a success. Selling books is difficult, except I did sell three more books at the Elks Lodge just talking to people around the bar. At least in that town they are concerned.

Monday morning I took the books by the Book Bug and then went downtown to present a book to the Library. We then went to the Standard-Democrat where I met Scott Whelton, the County News Editor. He wanted to do an interview with me but after he had a chance to read my book and materials. We agreed on Friday morning by phone.

Afterwards we drove up to Cape Girardeau to provide PR to the paper and TV station. We had lunch at Broussard's, a cajun restaurant, on Main Street. The food was definitely cajun. We stopped by the Cape Girardeau Library and presented a book to Paula Ann Gresham, the Adult Services Coordinator. She said she would supply me with information for a press release. Then we located the Elks Lodge out next to I-55 and made arrangements to boondock next to their lake. Finally, we returned to Sikeston to prepare to travel.

Log Date: +2202: 040413: 37N21.44': 89W35.65': 492': Elks Lodge #639, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

The sun was shining through partial clouds the next morning. It looked like it would be a pleasant day. After putting the rig back together and driving around to dump our tanks and refill with water, we headed a mile east on US-62. I stopped at Lambert's but there was no word yet of their decision about stocking my book. Turning north on the Interstate we retraced the 35 miles to US-61 at exit 99. Turning right and the bottom we took the next left across the four lane to the county road that lead to the Cape Girardeau Elks Lodge.

Since we had made the deposit for the gate key the day before, we drove directly to the gate and entered the lake area. Our camping site was on the north side of the lake across the dam. It was boondocking, but it was a very pleasant and safe site. I had driven a total of 37 miles, just the kind of trip I like. Set up went smoothly, and I soon collected email, including an email from Paula Ann from the Library. She provided the information I needed for the press release along with information on how to contact Dr. David Stewart. He was the Professor at SouthEastern Missouri University who was responsible for the FEMA report I used as the basis for Memphis 7.9.

Late in the afternoon I called Dr. Stewart to arrange a meeting for Wednesday, but he invited us out to his place the other side of Marble Hill that evening. It was a little over thirty miles, the last two of which were on a primitive dirt road with a couple of low water bridges. Thank goodness for the GPS.

David Stewart is a very interesting man. He runs a publishing company now with his son and focuses on Aroma Therapy, giving lectures around the country on a weekly basis. Before he became a seismologist at SEMU, he was active in natural child birth.

He had not read the book I had sent him, but he had scanned my website and was familiar with what I was doing. We had a very good talk about the work he and Dr. Knox had done regarding earthquakes on the New Madrid. One thing he told me that I find disturbing is that SEMU had shut down their earth sciences department entirely. It seems everyone wants to study places far away, not the most dangerous fault in the US right next door.

I purchased one of his first books on earthquakes and he signed it for me. After a two hour discussion Alice and I returned home to our trailer, picking up a KFC dinner on the way.

Wednesday I delivered the new press release to the newspaper and TV stations, once again being unable to talk with anyone directly. I did get some names and phone numbers. We also located a service station with a reasonable price for deisel. Then back at the trailer I did some catchup paper work and we enjoyed the fine, warm weather.

Log Date: +2204: 040415: 38N18.87': 90W24.49': 472': South St. Louis KOA, Pevely, MO 63012

Thursday morning we rigged for travel and continued on up I-55. The road ran through limestone based hills a few miles east of the Mississippi. It was an easy drive and 85 miles further we pulled off at the Pevely exit and drove to the South St. Louis KOA on Metropolitan Road. There was no one in the office, so we followed the night registration procedures and selected a site with good southern exposure (for the antennas) and set up. We paid for one night.

Alice went to wash the clothes and I worked on my computer. I noticed that it kept saying that the battery was low even when it was plugged in to AC. After a bit of pushing around I determined that there was an intermittant break in the wire from the AC Adapter to the PC.

I got directions for the nearest Best Buy (where we had purchased the laptop, a Compaq 900 series Presario) and we drove on up into St. Louis looking for it. The young man there was very helpful and we finally determined that there were no replacement AC Adapters in the Best Buy Catalog. The 900 series was a flash in the pan and no longer supported. He sent us over to a CompUSA store to check, and it was the same there. The alternative was to purchase something over the Internet.

Returning to the KOA I started my search and finally determined that the best bet was to do a Buy Now through eBay. It took me two hours to finally get that to happen, but it appeared everything was going smoothly to receive a new Adapter the next week.

In the meantime, I tore apart the cable on the old Adapter and did an emergency solder job. Amazingly, it worked and I was able to get my laptop back on the air. I just had to be very careful how I handled the power cord.

Log Date: +2205: 040416: 38N49.32': 90W49.22': 505': O'Fallon Elks Lodge #2587, O'Fallon, MO 63366

Friday morning I dumped the tanks, purchased some propane, and we rigged for travel, then waited for the 10:30 scheduled phone interview with Scott Whelton of the Sikeston Standard-Democrat. He was busy the first time I called, but when I got back in touch we ended up talking for almost an hour. It was a very interesting interview and he probbed into areas I did not expect. It was not so much a talk about my book as a talk about me and what I was trying to say to the public.

When the interview was complete, we piled into the truck and headed on up the road. Our search for Best Buy had been useful because we followed much the same route: north on I-55 then west on I-270. Alice is getting better at navigation and warned me as we were approaching changes in the road route and informing me on which way the exits would go. Even though we were traveling mid-day, the four-lane freeway was very busy.

I-270 turned to the north and we transitioned to I-70 west in St. Charles. A little later we crossed the Missouri River and continued on to O-Fallon. We exited onto Main Street, though the road signs said it was M Street. The GPS showed we were on the correct route.

We did not have an exact address for the Elk's Lodge, only a general location: north on Main Street. We drove north and came to the general area where we expected the Elk's to be. There was nothing that looked like a BPOE. Finally, I found a convenience store where I could pull in with the trailer and I asked. Naturally, the woman was a clerk who had just moved to the area, but one of the other customers explained that they had moved out east on Tom Ginniver. Of course, what with the way he said the name of the street, or maybe it is that my hearing is going bad, I was just as lost as before. Then the clerk said, "On yes, just go on up Main to the WalGreen and turn right." WalGreen is a hard word to lose in an accent.

We found the WalGreen and Tom Ginniver and turned right, onto a small narrow street of broken concrete. But after half a mile it became a four-lane new road. We continued, and continued. I was about to turn back when we saw the BPOE sign next to a small road leading to a large building back away from the road. Sure enough, that was it.

Pulling in, we drove around through the empty parking lot, finally stopping at the back of the building. It had been an 85 mile trip.

We had not bothered to fill the water tank at the KOA and would need it if we were going to boondock. Then Jeff, a past ER showed up and told us where we should park and where we could find a power connection. We had to string an extension cord across the driveway, but at least we had a place to stay.

We went into the Elks Bar when it opened at 4pm and met some of the crowd, including Tom the Bartender. We also met Angel, a lady Elk who had moved several miles away. We got to talking about my book and she said she wanted to purchase a copy. We also found out they were having a crawfish feed the next day.

I had been working on Broken River along the way and finally decided I should start the editing process. Stephanie Bernhagen had agreed to edit it, and we made contact by email. I agreed to send her what I had by Priority Mail on Monday. That meant we had to find a supply of paper and print out the first fifteen chapters in manuscript format. It was 247 pages.

Saturday morning we picked up our mail from Livingston. There were orders for two books as a result of the review in Hot Springs. After shopping for groceries we joined the Elks crowd for the crawfish feed, their 18th annual, but did not partake of the delicacies. After our cajun experience in Cape Girardeau, neither Alice nor I were ready for more spice. But we did enjoy the comradery of the Elks.

The weather during the weekend turned hot and humid. There was a bit of a wind that helped, but it was still too hot.

I started reworking my Casualty database for the earthquake. I had built the spreadsheets in the late 90s and needed to use the more recent census. Also, I wanted to validate the formulae I had used. I did find several places where I made substantial improvements in the model.

Monday morning we headed for the post office to mail the manuscript to Stephanie and the books to the customers. I also went by Rosa's Booksellers and left one book on consignment. Wendy, the owner, was not sure but finally relented. She is an aspiring author as well so we spent some time talking. Afterwards, we had lunch and found a Costco where we restocked on our bulk supplies. That evening I zipped up the first part of Broken River and sent the files to Deb and Alice for more editing. Now I have to finish the rest of the book.

Tuesday we watched the weather go from hot to rain. I picked up the new AC Adapter at the Post Office and dropped a book off at the O'Fallon Library, a branch of the St. Charles Library. The lady there could not make a decision but said she would send the book and my request to do a press release along to the main library. That evening at the Elks I gave another copy to Dave, an O'Fallon police officer who is also on their EMA team. He was fairly knowledgable about the potential problems from a big earthquake and it sounded like the information in my book would be useful to him.

Log Date: +2210: 040421: 37N44.34': 89W7.15': 418': Crab Orchard Lake Campground, Carbondale, IL 62918

Wednesday morning the weather was cloudy and then cleared. We packed up the trailer and headed out for Carbondale. Our route retraced our steps on I-70 to I-270 where we turned south, then continued on I-270 until it became I-255 and crossed the Mississippi River. Immediately after crossing we turned south on IL-3, a good road that follows the Mississippi River to the south towards Cairo. The first part of the trip was through small towns, with stop signs and traffic lights, but finally we found ourselves in more farmland away from the urban sprawl.

Along the way Alice and I listened to one of the cassette tapes on radio marketing that had been sent as part of the RTIR deal. It had some good ideas.

When we reached IL-149 we turned east towards Murphysboro and Carbondale. At that point we climbed out of the flood plains of the river into the limestone hills. The two towns were easy drives with enough lanes to make travel easy. The highway is split onto two one-way streets in Carbondale which helps. On the east side of town it came back together and we continued east for another six miles or so. After crossing a couple of arms of Crab Orchard Lake we came to the turnoff to the campground.

We stopped at the office and talked with Wanda. She said pick out a spot that was not taken and come back and tell her where we were. We found a nice spot and set up (including the antenna farm) and went back. My mistake, we should have gone back before setting up. We had picked one of the unmarked reserved spots, so we had to move. We signed up for two nights and went back to move one spot to the right. Grrr.

Actually, the spot where we ended up was even better than the first. We were thirty feet from the lake and about three feet above the water level. Our view to the south is of a mile-wide lake with forest on the far shore. Wolf loved going out and walking around the edge and smelling the fresh clover and grass growing all around. Alice loved watching the turtles climb up on the logs and sun themselves. She was not quite so happy when a water snake decided to do the same. There were also a number of different birds, including a very large heron that walked the shore fishing.

At 6pm I phoned in for the phone training provided by RTIR. It reinforced much of what had been on the tape. I made copious notes for future reference.

Wednesday night the rain came in, but by the next morning it had stopped, leaving us with cloudy weather but with temperatures in the high sixties. Alice and I did some planning for the next leg of our trip and settled on the Land Between the Lakes for a few days then south to Nashville. We decided we would see the east side of Tennessee after Chicago because there were too many interesting things to plan around Nashville. We will see how well we do at getting to these different venues.

With our itinerary in place we placed orders for mail delivery and for some needed medical supplements to be delivered to Hardin, KY. We also watched the weather channel and could see that some thunderstorms were moving in. After talking about it, we decided we should stay with what we knew to be a good, safe place in the stormy weather rather than moving on as originally planned. We extended our stay by three more days.

We went into Carbondale for breakfast at the Denny's on the east side of town. Their new menu included some low-carb choices, and the ultra-omelette was excellent. It definitely fit our definition for low-carb.

I received copy for the RTIR ad from Holly and made a few minor corrections. It will be interesting to see what kind of draw it has. It is not what I would have written, but I am not an ad copy-writer.

Friday we went into Carbondale so Alice could wash clothes. The laundromat in the center of town is excellent. I was able to listen to the second RTIR tape while Alice was doing the washing, and then we went to the Global Gourmet Deli, a new place that had just opened in one of the older buildings next to the railroad tracks. We had an excellent lunch and I had a chance to carefully inspect a two-story URM (UnReinforced Masonry) building. It will come down with a crash if an earthquake hits. There is not much they can do about it, except pray.

Saturday started nice and then it started raining off and on. The forecast was for severe thunderstorms later that evening. I finished up the Casualty database and did other housekeeping. We did get a chance to take a nice long walk. That evening as the thunderstorms got closer and closer, Alice got more and more nervous, and we eventually moved over to the men's bathhouse when we could hear the sirens in Carbondale. After about a hour and a half of rain, it stopped and we went back to the trailer. By midnight it had quit raining and we had a pleasant night.

Sunday was mostly clear, at least as clear is defined in the spring in this part of the country. It was hazy with broken clouds. Alice and I spent the day taking life easy and doing some cleanup in the trailer. We do need to get our paper under control. I also need to be more consistent about keeping this website up to date.

Log Date: +2215: 040426: 36N46.50': 88W13.35': 380': Pirate Cove RV Park, Hardin, KY 42048

The next morning there were shadows all around, meaning the sun was shining. The temperature was reasonable, in the low 60s. We started putting things in place for travel as we prepared breakfast. I stepped outside to take some pictures with Alice's camera before we left. It had been a nice visit.

We dumped the tanks and took on water as we left camp, then headed east on IL-13 to IL-57 south. It was a pleasant drive through the Illinois countryside. We connected with I-57 just as it connected with I-24 and continued on the latter towards Paduceh. Along the way we listened to a tape from RTIR on "How To Sell Books On Radio." There were some interesting ideas.

We crossed the Ohio River and I noticed the river was running high and cloudy. I didn't think about it until later in the day.

Our DeLorme Streets 2004 program routing parameters were set to shortest route, so the directions were to turn off of I-24 onto Husband Road. We were on our way to Hardin, KY. As we turned south I remembered our past experience driving the backroads of Kentucky. First, they are not built with much in the way of shoulders, as in none. Second, since there are no shoulders for the rural postmen to park on, the mailboxes all extend out to the side of the road. That is not a problem until someone leaves the door to their mailbox open. Then the metal extends six inches over the roadbed. That may not seem like much, except the roadway is two feet narrower than in most other states. It is an exciting way to drive. Luckily, most people had stayed off the roads, obviously knowing some fool from California was rocketing down the roads with a fifth-wheel trailer in tow.

About eleven miles further, Husband Road teed onto KY-348. We turned left and followed that road for the next nine miles through the town of Symsonia and beyond where we transferred to KY-1949. All along the way we traveled through the beautiful backcountry of Kentucky. The flowers were in bloom, especially the patches of white narcissus.

Fifteen miles later, after passing through the town of Oak Level and under the busy traffic of the Purchase Parkway, we turned left onto KY-80, but the road signs called it KY-402. We did see a roadsign that informed us that the name had been changed when we passed through Hardin. At least the green arrow marking our GPS position said we were on our chosen route.

We passed through Hardin and about five miles later came to Pirates Cove Road where we turned north. Half a mile up the road we found the office for the RV Resort. It was a Passport America park where we paid $12 per night for three nights, half the regular rate. After registering we drove down to the marina area, but there were a number of very large trees hanging over the camping spot. We drove back to the office and asked about parking elsewhere. They sent us down to the area next to the airstrip. There we found a good area with clear access to the south, just what I needed to set up our two satellite antennas.

After setting up I took a nap and then we walked along the lakeshore for about half a mile. The lake is very high and murky at this point, but they say it has been higher. The office said the lake rose four feet in the last day or so from the local heavy rains. That explained the high water I had seen in the Ohio; the water must be running over the floodgates at Kentucky Dam as fast as it could. Since no more rain is expected for the three days we will be here, I assumed we would be safe from a flood.

During the preparation of supper we spotted several families of geese at the lake's edge. I took some pictures and hoped I could get some better ones the next night. It was a very pleasant camping spot.

Tuesday morning we had breakfast and drove back into Hardin to pick up mail. Our SKP mail was there but not the package of meds. I talked with Booksurge about the accounting issues and the problems presented by the compromised credit card. She assured me everything would be okay.

We drove south on US-641 to Murray, the county seat of Calloway County and home of 20,000 resident plus Murray State University. After picking up a few things at Wal-Mart we had lunch at Tom's Grill (B-). Then we drove to Curris Center on campus and found the bookstore in the student union. I left a book for review with Jack Vaughn with a promise to return Thursday right after lunch and we went looking for the other general-type bookstore in Murray, somewhere around Court Center. Alice was doing the navigating and having a good time sending me on a guided tour through the town. It is a nice town with good homes built in the 50s. We found the BookMark and left a copy there for review. As we headed back around the loop Alice had constructed, I suddenly thought that maybe I should leave a book at the local newspaper. I pulled off at the nearest pawn shop (happened to be the next business) and asked where to find the newspaper. As luck would have it, it was just on the other side of the road down the alley.

We drove to the newspaper and I left a book with Brandi and said I would be back Thursday. Stopping at the Kroegers on the way back to the rig, we found ourselves in a good grocery store once again: well stocked, fresh vegies, etc. We spent almost an hour touring the grocery store to load up on all the things we had been getting low on.

Back at the rig I found an email from Alice Zyetz announcing that the book she and Jaimie Hall had put together, RV Traveling Tales: Women's Stories of Life on the Road, was a finallist at the PMA awards in Chicago come June. She offered Alice and me tickets to the awards ceremonies. I started reviewing our schedule to see if we could be there in time. It worked and I emailed AliceZ that we wanted the tickets and joined PMA so Alice and I could make use of the rest of the seminars and whatever.

In the meantime the second edition of Memphis 7.9 had gone print ready. I emailed Stephanie at Booksurge with the addresses for shipping the second edition of Memphis 7.9 along with the schedule for when other shipments had to be accomplished. It had been a really busy day, and one where I seemed to have accomplished a lot.

I told Alice that Wednesday was her day. She was to plan a tour of the Land Between the Lakes. In the meantime, I worked on a news article about the effects of a giant earthquake on Murray. Shortly before noon we loaded computers and dog into the truck and headed east across the Tennessee River and then north up the trace. It was a peaceful drive, but after a while we agreed we were driving in the bottom of a green canyon: towering green trees on either side, well-mowed grass on the highway shoulder, and smooth asphalt on the road. The road was mostly straight but there were a few curves that required you keep your eyes open.

For a while the most interesting sight were the small signs to the family cemeteries on either side of the road. Once we saw one of the graveyards, and there were many, many markers. I guess some of the families had been there an awful long time.

At the north end of LBL is the commercial settlement of Grand River. We pulled into town and found Pattie's Iron Skillet, a home-town buffet of the early type. It was late for lunch and we were hungry, probably a mistake. We were seated and ordered our drinks then headed to look over the serving tables. I spied a serving tray with the remains of a cherry cobbler. I asked the server if there was another tray of the same and she said the next one would be apple. After I commented that I better start with desert first, she grabbed a plate and scooped all the remains of the cherry cobbler onto it and handed it to me. I was dumb-founded, over-joyed, and greedy. I took it all, a heaping plate full of cobbler.

After placing that plate on our table I went back and had a plate of salad and a plate of entree stuff. Then I started in on the cobbler. It was terrible -- that is the fact that I ate the whole thing, plus some icecream. I am ashamed, but boy, was it good.

Leaving the Iron Skillet we drove around to find our way to Barkley Dam. I mistakenloy got onto I-24 and had to drive 10 miles east before there was an exit. At least it was onto the road we needed to be to reach the Dam. And as we pulled off, I found a truck stop with the cheapest diesel I had seen in Kentucky. I filled the tank and we drove back to the road to Barkley Locks.

As we approached the dam and locks we found the way barred by chain-link fences and locked gates. We wandered up to the visitor's center, an office for the Nashville District of the Army Corps of Engineers. After looking over the good exhibit upstairs of river life on the Cumberland River prior to the building of the Barkley Dam, I talked with the receptionist about my book. In the course of the conversation I found that things had changed dramatically in the area. It was no longer possible to visit the Kentucky Dam or locks. This was the result of the terrorist threat. I suppose I will have to handle that somehow in Broken River.

We drove over to Kentucky Dam and found it to be as she said: No Access, Area Closed. So we headed back down the trace, stopping at the Nature Center. Alice bought a great book on birds and I talked with some of the staff about earthquakes in the area. Finally we drove on down the road back to the rig.

I finished the article on Murray and sent it off for comments from Deb. She responded with a great set of edits and I incorporated all her ideas.

Thursday morning we made sure everything needed was printed and collected and then headed off. After paying for an extra day at Pirate Cove we headed for the post office to mail a book order and pick up our meds. I talked to Stephanie at Booksurge and she is checking into the shipping schedules for the author copy of the second edition.

Next we drove to Murray to check the books I had left for review on Tuesday. BookMark did not want the book, but we stopped by the library and I met Ben Graves, Director of the Calloway County Public Library. We had a great conversation and I left a book for the library. We stopped at the Chinese/Mexican Buffet (what a mix) for lunch and then went by the MSU bookstore. They took six books on consignment. From there we went to the newspaper, and I ended up having an hour long interview with Brandi Williams. She will do a feature article sometime in the next few days and send a copy to me.

We picked up some items from the grocery store and headed back to the rig. The weather was nice so I sat outside and finished up the press release for the Library. Then I worked on this webpage. Finally at 9pm most of it was finished; leaving only the process of editing then uploading.

Log Date: +2219: 040430: 35N57.98': 86W32.88': 603': I-24 Campground & RV Park, Smyrna, TN 37167

During the night it rained pretty hard, but there was little lightening and thunder. I had put those things that could soak up water away so when we got up the next morning it was not much trouble packing up for travel. We showered and had breakfast while arranging things. Alice did the dishes while I prepared the outside. There was a short spit of rain and then the clouds mostly broke apart with bits of blue scattered around. The birds were singing to high heaven, like we were in the middle of an aviary.

I am now running the electronics through the invertor all of the time, so it was a simple matter of switching it off to turn off all the equipment. Murray has a great NPR station at the university, so we listened to classical music on the radio as we finished packing everything for travel.

We pulled out about 10:10 heading for south of Nashville. We joined IL-13 and headed east to US-68. Crossing Kentucky Lake (Tennessee River) and then Barkley Lake (Cumberland River) we turned off on KY-272, the Old Canton Pike, to wend our way to I-24. Again we were on the backroads of Kentucky, but this time the road was a bit wider, or maybe I am just getting more accustomed to dodging the mailboxes. In any case, we found ourselves amongst more farmland on rolling hills. Some of the fields were plowed, some were already planted in winter wheat. Then, shortly after passing over the Interstate, we turned south to an entrance onto the four-lane concrete road and settled down to driving the Interstate.

I set the cruise control to 57mph and relaxed. At least I relaxed until we approached Nashville. Alice was watching the map trace across the laptop screen as the GPS marked our position. Our object was to follow I-24 through the middle of the city, coming out the other side as if we were heading for Chattanooga.

The first concern was when a big sign said there were delays on I-24 and we should consider an alternate using I-65. I said, "NO. We follow I-24." Then there was a sign that said I-40 was going some other way, and I told Alice, "Stay with I-24." All sorts of temptations presented themselves, and out of the corner of my eyes I could see that there were buildings in the distance. But I remained focused and resolute. I-24 was my path, and I intended to stick with it.

Guess what. I-24 went through Nashville like a breeze. The lanes for changing to other paths were always there and open, and the traffic got out of my way. I have no idea what Nashville looks like, but the concrete road was gray, smooth, and easy to follow. I can still see the white dashed lines separating the lanes whipping by my eyes.

Then it all quieted down, and I looked around. We were in forested limestone hills within four miles of our planned exit, US-266, to Smyrna. The map said we had a mile and a half to go to the Old Nashville Highway, but then the Streets Navigator said in two-tenths of a mile to turn right. There was a traffic light at that point so I pulled over and turned. Wrong! Finally the Streets Navigator updated and said we were still a mile from where we should turn. Do not trust the program whenever you are still within a quarter mile of a transition.

Back on 266 we did the mile and turned right on Old Nashville Highway. There were now small road-signs telling us we were approaching the I-24 RV Park. Following those we turned right on Rocky Fork Road and within a quarter mile pulled into the RV Park, a nice looking but fairly tight RV park. It had actually been a pleasant 129 mile drive.

We checked in and luckily for us, there was a site available. The lady in the office said the park was almost full because of all the reservations for the festivals popping up all over the place, and it was only 1pm. We followed the guide to the site and pulled in. I looked at the trees surrounding us and tried to figure out if the satellite antennas would work. As it turned out, I found openings through the trees and got good signals on both.

When we got everything together we sat back and rested. It was good to be at rest again. We decided to just hang out and have supper at home. At least that would give me time to bring the website up to date.


[Book Tour] or [Mar 2004] or [May 2004]