Travel Log for June, 2004
Month 4 of the Magical Book Tour

Updated June, 2004

Log Date: +2251: 040601: 41N32.97': 87W48.62': 763': Windy City Campground, Tinley Park, IL 60477

We began the month of June in Tinley Park. I was up early to prepare for my phone interview with WEKZ of Monroe, Wisconson. It went well and Scott Thompson, the radio host, was a good interviewer. He gave me several good plugs for the book. What was supposed to be a five minute discussion lasted over ten. He said afterwards he would like to have me back.

Alice and I had breakfast and took our time getting things together to head into Chicago for the first day of the PMA (Publisher's Marketing Association) "University" meeting. We drove the truck the two miles over to the Metra station where we parked within a hundred yards of the station ($1 for the day). We had a nice talk with the ticket lady and she explained the various options we faced. Since we were both into Medicare we qualified for the 50% senior discount. Roundtrip tickets to LaSalle station in Chicago for the two of us cost only $7.40. She also told us of what lines to take to reach the Downtown Mariott, and I decided we should trust our luck to a cab.

The trains ran every hour on weekday mornings, and we had arrived ten minutes late for the 10:45 train, so we had plenty of time to wander around the station. When the train arrived at 11:45 we found ourselves boarding a two-level car much different from what we had experienced with BART in northern California. We found a double seat facing forward on the lower level so we could watch the scenary go by. It was a very pleasant and interesting ride, starting with the somewhat open spaces of suburbian Tinley Park and going through older sections of the towns and then cities along the tracks into Chicago.

The ride lasted almost an hour, meaning it was past lunch time when we found our way out of LaSalle station. I asked a policeman where best to catch a cab and he suggested we go up to Van Buren. Along the way we discovered the Alanti Deli that looked good, so we dropped in for lunch. They served an excellent Cobb salad that we enjoyed before continuing our journey.

The El (elevated trains) run along Van Buren, making for an interesting set of noises. To catch a cab it was a matter of standing on the side of the street and waving at a passing cab and hoping it would stop. Jumping inside I told the driver we wanted to go to the Downtown Marriot. He was a non-communicating immigrant with race car experience from the middle east. We made it to the hotel in remarkable time, but it still cost $8 with the tip.

We located the PMA registration on the fifth floor, got our badges, and went looking for the seminars. Having arrived so late, we were able to listen to only one and a half of the four sessions offered free to first timers. I am sure the first two must have been good, but the best was John Kremer's talk, the last session. Alice and I came away with some great ideas and the growing realization that we knew a lot less about the publishing business than we had thought.

The exhibitors were setting up and there was an open bar reception going on, so we visited a few of the booths and talked with various book manufacturers and design people. Jeff DiPiola at Guide Service Press bought a copy of Memphis 7.9 and I believe he will be sending a quote for printing.

We each had a very expensive glass of California Merlot and decided we should head back to Tinley Park.

. . . Almost two weeks passed before I got back to working on the travelogue. The following is a test of my memory . . .

Wednesday morning we were up early so Alice could wash clothes while I printed bookmarks and business cards. Then it was back to Metra for the ride into the Mariott. We purchased a pass so Alice could attend a session on book distribution while I attended a session on book design. We both came away with more good ideas. One near decision is that I should get some help in both cover design and book layout for my next publishing efforts.

We visited with other attendees and toured the exhibitor booths while waiting for the 6pm reception.

We attended the "dinner" and Ben Franklin Award ceremonies. Penwheelers Alice Zyetz and Jaimie Hall were in the top three finals for the Travel Essays Awards category. Sorry, but they did not win, but to get there was a real achievement. We were also sad they missed the ceremonies -- and the food. Any good SKP might well have gone into ecstasy just looking at the offerings, but a true SKP probably would have been right there with me elbowing my way to the front of the line and pigging out. I must say, PMA does a bang-up job of putting on a feast. There was one whole table devoted to goose livers!! Not only that, but the folks in Chicago have a great appreciation for California wine. A glass of Mondavi merlot (it was substantial by central US standards) cost $7.25.

Thursday we were to attend a group meeting with Barnes & Noble buyers, but we had already absorbed enough to know my book is not ready for their procedures. So we took the day off and rested in the rig.

Mid-morning I received a call from WNWS-FM in Jackson, TN. They wanted to schedule a radio interview with callins for the following Wednesday. I contacted Davis-Kidd in Jackson and made arrangements to send them ten books on consignment. We went out to mail a book to WNWS in Jackson and check for mail from Livingston (not there).Then we went shopping for supplies. At Best Buy I bought a copy of Adobe Acrobat and Alice bought new cookbook software.

Friday morning we were up at 5:30 so I could catch the train into Chicago for the opening of Book Expo America at McCormick Place. Alice stayed at home. I was carrying fourteen books for the Booksurge booth. I took the cab to the center and decided I really needed to figure out the transportation system in the city. I got my exhibitors badge and finally located the Booksurge booth in the small press section. No one was there so I rearranged some of the table to put my books out in front then wandered around to see the other booths.

I came upon the booth of Marjorie and Greg Ross. They sell Book Jewelry, very nice bookmarks made with ribbon, beads, and charms. I went back to collect a book and give to them for display in their booth. I also found the booth of Kirt and Ruth Poovey. Ruth is Alice's niece. Kirt has written a couple of books looking into the future and warning about trends of our government that he finds disturbing.

When I got back to the Booksurge booth, I finally had the chance to meet Stephanie, my designated contact at Booksurge. We had a good talk about how things had been going and my concerns with publishing my next book through Booksurge. I think we worked most of the problems out, but the decision is not yet final.

I spent the rest of the morning wandering around looking at the different booths. I had lunch at the exhibition cafe and sat with another author who was pitching her book on personal interactions. Next I visited the RTIR booth and talked with Nicole who is my contact there. She provided me a copy of their early June issue with my ad, and I told her of the successes I was having on getting radio interviews. I will restart the ads in September. I also talked with Philip Donlay about his new book "Category Five." We traded review copies.

Back at the Booksurge booth I talked with some of the other authors and presented a couple of books to people Stephanie had picked out. It was sort of fun to spend time amongst people who write.

Mid-afternoon I was getting tired so I headed back to Tinley Park. When I got there I found an email query for an interview from WMOT in Murfreesboro.

Saturday Alice and I drove over to catch Metra into Chicago. The schedules had changed, so we had almost an hour to wait. We decided to take the train west to Joliet which would then turn around and head back to Chicago. The fare was $5 each for a weekend pass, so it cost nothing extra. We rode on the upper level and had a much better view of everything. Once we reached LaSalle station, we walked to Michigan where we caught the Electra to McCormick Place. The weekend ticket covered that as well.

After I dropped the books off at the booth, Alice and I had lunch at the Food Court in McCormick Place. It was fairly good, and we had the chance to talk with other folks from the show about marketing books. Then we found a place for Alice to stay at a Starbucks in the center and I went back for my "signing" time. I signed a number of books and talked with lots of people.

At five o'clock the crowds started thinning. My signing time was over so I asked for a signed copy of Stephanie's book, said my goodbyes and headed out. Alice and I retraced our steps on Electra, Van Buren, and Metra and finally arrived back in Tinley Park. We stopped at an Italian place for supper on the way back to the trailer. We were both tired out.

Sunday things started to return to normal. I dumped the tanks and installed the new DISH receiver. It took a while to get it commissioned, but finally it was up. Alice could not find PBS which she thought she had purchased so we called DISH back. It was not on our listing, so we ordered it. Then we found we had Sirius radio, now a standard fare for our plan with DISH. That evening we visited with our neighbors and met Ed and Rachel Barnhart. They bought a book and told us about a place to stay near Boston. We may see them there.

On Monday we shipped the old DISH receiver back and picked up our mail and bought some groceries. We also went to see "Day After Tomorrow." I should write a review of the movie - it was a good action/thriller and the science was not too far out.

Back at the campground I recaulked the roof of the trailer. Then we started sorting through the stuff we collected from the book shows and rigging for travel on Tuesday. That night I started reworking the book marketing plan.

On a practical note for those who travel in their homes like we do, I recommend the Windy City RV and Beach Resort in Tinley Park as a great place to stay in the Chicago area. It is very near a Metra station so you have easy access into the city center. I don't recommend the beach on the three acre lake, but the locals think it is great. I have refrained from telling them about the Pacific Ocean.

Log Date: +2258: 040608: 40N11.91': 88W22.47': 702': Champaign Sportsmen RV Park, Mahomet, IL 61853

Tuesday morning we hooked up and headed off on our 118 miles trip to Champaign-Urbana. There was a bit of confusion getting over to I-57 because the road I expected to use had been closed for repair, but we finally found the way. Thereafter it was all freeway. The weather was drizzle but not too bad.

We parked by a lake and I futzed with the TV trying to find a path through the trees. I finally put the antenna down beside the lake about 100 feet away. Then I had trouble getting satellite Internet to work. Again it was a tree problem, but I finally found a place.

We drove into Urbana to check out where the Civil Engineering Building was and where we could park. It was hard to orient myself; what I remembered from when I was a graduate student 45 years ago did me no good. But I did locate Dr. Amr Elnashia's office and confirmed our appointment for the next morning. We also determined that I should park at the Perkins Restaurant and walk over.

Afterwards we drove around the University looking for buildings I could remember. We also went out Lincoln Avenue looking for where we had lived. The old barracks are no more. In their place there were either some nine-story dorms or an atheletic field. We could not remember on which side of Florida we had lived. It surely looked different.

Back at the trailer I received a call from Dr. Wood's office back in Temecula. His nurse told me he had the results of the VAP test I had done and wanted me to double my niacin dosage and take another cholestral test in six to eight weeks.

Alice and I took the opportunity to sit outside by the lake and give Wolf a full haircut. The weather was hot and humid and he seemed to enjoy not having a full coat of hair to contend with.

In the middle of the afternoon I received a phone call from Michael Dresser asking if I could do an interview that evening. I agreed to call back in at 8:03 local time. Michael is syndicated from Alaska. When I called in we had a pretty lively discussion that was heard throughout the United States. Afterwards I worked on the PR pages of website and uploaded the changes.

Wednesday morning Alice and I drove in to Urbana. She went into Perkins and I hurried over to meet with Dr. Elnashai, Director of the Mid-America Earthquake Center. We talked for forty-five mintues about what MAE is doing and the kind of response he was seeing from the populace. He was despondent because his proposal to assess the transportation system had just been turned down by NSF.

We had a good discussion, and I came away with a growing concern about the unwillingness of our society to be concerned with the potential for a great earthquake in the central US. Amr said that concern is fourth or fifth on the list, and there is not enough money for the first two, so earthquakes get very little attention. He also pointed out that non-government funding is miniscule in the central US, totaling only $80,000 this past year. On the west cost it amounts to $6,000,000 this year. Somehow the light must be shined on the danger.

We drove back to the rig and I did my interview with Harrell Carter of WNWS of Jackson at 11:30. It included callins with questions about areas I could not answer on the phone. I did not consider it a really good interview.

I had emailed Michael Dresser asking how my interview with him had gone. He emailed back that I should call him, so I did. He offers training on how to do effective radio interviewing, interviews that sell books rather than just pass on some information. He rated my interview as a 2 out of 10 - I agree with him. I believe I should do his training, but I need a time when I can concentrate on it.

Wednesday evening I sent queries to the Southern Festival of Books in Memphis and the St. Louis Earthquake Conference about booth space. Then we prepacked for travel the next day. The rain came during the night.

Log Date: +2260: 040610: 40N11.91': 88W22.47': 847': Interstate Towing Yard, Indianapolis, IN

Thursday morning we headed off on our trip to Indian Lakes TTN/Naco. The weather was drizzley.

Along the way I received a call from MaryJane Popp of KAHI in Sacramento. We agreed on June 21st at 2pm California time for an interviedw. She asked that I send a book and materials.

We continued on I-74 east until just past Crawfordville where we transfered to IN-32 towards Lebanon. There we caught I-65. Ten miles further we switched to I-465 to go around the north side of Indianapolis.

We had intended to stop at Costco at US-31 in Indianapolis to return a couple of packages of almonds they had recalled, but we missed our exit. I was pretty upset by that when I noticed that the truck was faltering, the speed was dropping and the tachometer was climbing. I thought at first that I had knocked it out of gear, and made adjustments. But I found that I was having trouble in all gears and was slowing down. I edged over into an entrance lane to get as far away from the freeway as possible and brought the rig to a stop. The truck transmission had failed.

Alice had been adament about switching to Good Sam Road Service a few months back, so she gave me the card and I called the emergency number. Sandra was very helpful. She found a towing service and had us lined up to go to an AAMCO place within fifteen minutes. In the meantime I had called around and been told by a racing shop that he took his pickup to AAMCO.

When Eddie of Interstate Towing arrived about forty-five mintues later with his really "big" rig, he hooked onto my truck and pulled the combined rig to his yard. Alice road in our pickup with Wolf (illegal but Eddie thought it was necessary). He explained that the AAMCO Sandra had picked out was halfway around the city and could not really handle our trailer. He offered to leave the trailer in the towing yard and take the truck to a local AAMCO. I agreed.

After dropping the trailer off in the midst of a bunch of tow trucks, we went over to the AAMCO on Shadeland. Mark put together an estimate, said they would try to finish it by the next day, and called Enterprise Auto Rentals. They would not have a car for another couple of hours. Alice and I walked up Shadeland to the Red Lobster for lunch.

We finally got our rental car and returned to the trailer. I set up the TV and we watched the weather coming into Indianapolis. Alice was worried (and I agreed) so we drove south on I-65 to Franklin for supper. We watched the storm pass over and then returned. It poured during the night. There was a lake around us the next morning.

I spent my time reading Category Five by Philip Donlay and then put together a package for MaryJane. I had not realized the post office was closed for Reagan's funeral. We went to the UPS store and paid $15 to mail the book to MaryJane.

We ate lunch at Wendy's next to AAMCO. Mark said they would finish it late afternoon around 3pm. So we went back to the rig to prepare for travel and watch part of Reagan's funeral. Next we returned to Enterprise to drop off car ($40 w/taxes). They took us and Wolf to AAMCO, and we waited for the next two hours. The truck was finished about 5pm but the auto dealer next door was unloading cars in the alley and had us blocked in. We finally got loose and rushed down to hook to the trailer.

Log Date: +2261: 040611: 39N16.25': 85W7.81': 998': Indian Lakes TTN Park, Batesville, IN, 47041

We left the towing yard at 6pm and made it down I-74 to Batesville, Indiana in a little over an hour. I had to stop at the first service station I found and paid $1.599 for fuel. I probably got a deal since I mistakenly pulled to the truck pump and the clerk did not question what we were driving. Signs for personal auto deisel said $1.659.

We checked in to the Indian Lakes TTN park and went to Phase IV. There we found a nice spot but a little close to trees. It took several moves to finally get the TV to work. I gave up on Internet for the evening.

Next morning it was cloudy, then it rained. I finished Category Five. We had watermelon for lunch then slept. After the rain stopped I got Internet to go by moving away from trees. I had messages on booths at the October shows - both said it was okay to sell books.

We drove into Batesville and found a grocery store, not much else. We then drove to Sunman, not much better.

Sunday morning we woke to sunshine. We walked around the park, very pleasant. There were black and orange cicadeas all over the place and the trees were buzzing. Alice washed clothes and I watched the NASCAR race. I worked on these webpages. About sunset a popup storm formed to our west. Then it rained like mad for a couple of hours before stopping. At least it dropped the temperature.

Monday morning we again woke to sunshine. But the dewpoint was near 70 so we knew what to expect in the afternoon. We took a longer walk around the park and then had breakfast. Afterwards I called Ricki O'brien at WMOT. We did a good taped interview that will air in the next few weeks in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Then I returned to working on the website. Finally, I was up to date. Alice did her (now required) proof reading and editing, I uploaded it to the website. (She only found three pages worth!)

Log Date: +2265: 040615: 36N5.81': 84W2.00': 925': Racoon Valley SKP Park, Heiskell, TN 37754

We were up early Tuesday morning. Once again there was a good cover of clouds to blot out the sun. Our cupboard was becoming rather bare, so we had another egg and sausage breakfast with berries. Then we began to pack for travel. I had dumped the tanks the previous day so most of the work involved taking down the antenna farm.

The weather was a cool 73 degrees, and the humidity was near 100% judging from the semi-fog scattered around. By the time I had everything put away I was drenched in sweat. One of the different situations from years past was that I wore no glasses. This meant I could continue to work even when dripping. It is nice to do that, but I don't have an excuse to pause now.

We checked lights and locks, TV antenna and steps, and pulled out of our spot before 8am. This was sort of a record for us. It wasn't until a couple of hours later that we realized we were almost in the eastern time zone, so we only made it out in our regular time.

I drove seven miles on I-74 then took the IN-1 exit to go south. As we came to the state route a large orange caution sign across the road announced that trucks were not recommended on this highway because of grades, turns, and school buses. I had a hard time reading the sign because of the number of trucks coming from the south.

The speed limit on this cutoff to Kentucky was 45 miles per hour all the way. I suppose I made a few truckers mad by driving that speed. We found the grades and curves, but no school buses. It was in fact a very nice drive through some of the original farms in Indiana and down a creek that eventually ran into the Ohio.

At Homestead we encountered another navigation problem. There was a zig-zag in the road, and we almost went the wrong way. Alice may beat me on the head for this, but I want to talk about a problem we are having. We are using the DeLorme Streets 2004 program to find our way across country in unexplored areas.

I have a high degree of what I call "map sense," the ability to look at a map and "see" the route I will be following, whatever the orientation. Right and left on the map make perfect sense to me. Alice apparently does not "see" the route, so she does not look at the map and instead relies on the written instructions. I have become rather upset in the past about what to me have been incomplete or even incorrect instructions.

In this case the written instructions were that Highway 1 turned hard left. In fact it zigged to the right to cross the creek on our right and came to a stop sign, then we turned hard left to continue. Alice did not zoom in on the map to "see" what was coming up, but rather gave me the written instructions she read from below the map, "Turn hard left."

As I approached the first zig in the road with those instructions, I kept looking for where to turn left, so departed the zig and took the left branch of the Y. Luckily it immediately came to a stop sign. I borrowed the computer (more like snatched it away) and zoomed in so I could see the road and it immediately became clear to me what to do. It just took a while before I could make the now hard right turn from the stop sign because of oncoming traffic turning left in front of me.

I keep telling her to zoom in so she can see what the road is really doing, but she is reluctant. All that said, she is doing a great job as a trip planner and navigator; we just have a communications problem. And it is fun to take the back roads on the shortest route to our next destination.

Our trip continued. We reached the banks of the Ohio River as we joined I-275. The river itself was muddy and looked very full, not surprising given the recent rains. After crossing the river we turned to the east to catch I-75 and I was looking into the sun. Now I remember why I don't like to get out early in the morning, especially when heading east.

Once we turned right on I-75 and headed mostly south the ride was smooth with only the concern to make sure I was in the correct lane (one that did not end soon).

There were scattered clouds with lots of haze to mark the humidity outside. We had the air conditioner running all the time inside the truck so were very comfortable. Wolf would sleep in his bed for a while and then take his lookout position on the center console until he could convince Alice to let him sleep in her lap. In time it became more cloudy and we eventually got a few sprinkles of rain.

I had filled with fuel just out of Indianapolis, so there were only the rest stops for relief from the long drive. We did stop at a Cracker Barrel for lunch. They now have a low-carb page on their menu so the fare was something other than meat, bread and potatoes.

I-75 in Kentucky goes through moderate wooded hills. Rarely we saw some open pasture. It was very hard to see the creeks because of the green growth along their shores. The road was very good except for one huge pothole I found south of Lexington. I was not watching closely enough and was into it before I could dodge it. Apparently it did not damage the truck or trailer.

As we drove south the hills became bigger, so the grades were more of a factor. A couple of times I dropped out of over-drive and floor-boarded the truck to maintain 45 mph. The transmission seemed to be fine, but I sure wished I had a reliable tranny temp gauge.

We had to cross one range of mountains (larger hills) that took us up to about 2,200 feet. Then we dropped back down to near 1,000 feet elevation as we came into the exit at Racoon Valley Drive. We drove a couple of miles off the freeway and found the Racoon Valley Escapees Park. It was good to meet some SKPs again. We were assigned a nice spot and pulled in. The intermittent rain became more persistent as I set up, but it was like taking a warm shower, so I just continued setting things up. The drive had been 272 miles.

We were very surprised when a white truck stopped next to our site and Bud and Dorothy McCree from Jojoba Hills yelled hello. After finishing the setup and changing shirts, we walked down to their rig and visited for an hour and a half and caught up on everything that was happening in Jojoba land. They gave us a suggestion for where to camp around Chattanooga, and we expect to see them there. They pulled out the next morning.

We went into Knoxville for supper and grocery shopping in the rain. We finally had a full cupboard. That evening we watched the Lakers fall apart and the Pistons rise to the occasion for the NBA finals. The rain had mostly stopped by the time we went to bed.

Wednesday the 16th we awoke to overcast skies, and shortly it started to rain again. I worked some more on the travelogue and business plan. I sent an email to David Stewart asking for an endorsement and email to Michael Dresser accepting his offer for radio interview training. Mostly we just hung out and took it easy. We talked with Edmund and Margie Strickler who are "hosts" at Racoon Valley. We had met them at the 1999 Escapade in Chico and had sort of kept in touch ever since through Boomers.

We walked around the park and met George and Ruth Board (they call themselves twolooseboards) and had a good conversation about SKPs and where to stay in Atlanta. They suggested the Jones RV Park.

Thursday the weather calmed, so we headed off to Oak Ridge, taking the back route through Heiskell. There is one 10 mile-an-hour S-curve under a very narrow overpass along the way. BE CAREFUL if you take that route. Trailers not advised. In Oak Ridge we found a Ruby Tuesday and had lunch (I was suddenly having a spacey problem that cleared after lunch) and then went to the American Museum for Science and Engineering. We spent the entire afternoon touring that facility. It told of the history of Oak Ridge and the Manhattan Project. I saw a dollar bill with Luis Alvarez's signature on it. He was one of the scientists who flew alongside to monitor the Hiroshima blast. I had not realized until then how involved he had been in the development of the atomic bomb. He was one of my mentors at UC Lawrence Radiation Laboratory back in the early 1960s. The rest of the exhibits were very good, many oriented to catch the attention of today's youth. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

When it came time to leave, we found it was raining, but by the time we made it to the truck the rain had eased a bit. We found our way back to camp and were greeted by a frantic dog. Wolf was very happy to see us and made good use of the grass just outside the door.

I spent the evening reading David Stewart's book, The Earthquake America Forgot, which gave a very good detailed account of the people who lived in the New Madrid area prior to the 1811 earthquake and of the earthquakes themselves. I also read the monographs Jim Wilkinson had given me at CUSEC. I had time to do this because with the amount of rain we were having there were often interruptions in the TV and Internet reception.

Friday morning we decided to go to Gatlinburg. We followed the I-640 bypass around to catch I-40 and then took off at the Gatlinburg exit near Kodak. We made it about two miles before the traffic came to mostly a stop, somewhere before Sevierville. We did the next five miles in about 45 minutes and finally decided to see Dollywood first rather than trying for Gatlinburg. We turned left and wound up the road to come to the entrance to the parking lot, and then drove another couple of miles out to Lot G to find a place to park. That was not too bad since they have an excellent tram service to bring people from the parking lots back to the entrance to the theme park.

As seniors we got in for the day for $78. We could have purchased a season pass for about twice that much, but I did not want to try to drive to Dollywood again, so I declined. Inside we found a very nice theme park with lots of trees and winding paths. It was family and food oriented, and one of our first stops was one of the restaurants where we both had reuben sandwiches. Not the best thing for our diets, but we were there to have fun. Right?

We did have a lot of fun and enjoyed a good virtual ride and a couple of musical events. We had home-made peach ice cream and saw the eagles. Finally about 4pm we even saw Dolly Parton riding by in her carriage. After that we decided to head home and made our way back to the truck in Lot G and out to the road. I took the back way, but the roads were still packed through Sevierville. At one point I found myself stranded in the middle of an intersection with nowhere to go because the traffic where I needed to go was stopped. It took four cycles of the traffic light to drive two blocks.

Back at Racoon Valley we located a nearby place to restock our wine cellar (boxes that is) and had Dairy Queen blizzards. I made arrangements with MaryJane Popp for an interview on KAHI radio in Sacramento on Monday and we relaxed.

I received in interesting enquiry from Dale Caruso about consulting on an article about the dangers of the New Madrid Fault. He is doing a series for a website on catastrophic events, especially as related to asteroid impacts. The website where his work appears is I started communicating different ideas with him and we agreed that at some point we would have a phone conversation.

Over the weekend the weather eased a bit and the rain stopped. We dried things out and cut hair and worked on planning and reading. I searched for someplace to do the KAHI interview over a land-line, and finally concluded the only facility was the payphone in the laundry room. People and businesses are not sharing with their phone lines.

I prepared the registrations for the National Earthquake Conference in St. Louis the end of September and for the Southern Festival of Books in Memphis the first part of October. Now I had to get ready for two more shows.

The rain came back in spurts. On Monday we went to the post office to mail books, registration, and packages and pick up our Escapees mail. I got my VAP cholesterol test results which showed I produce the bee-bee bullet kind of LDL and the wrong kind of HDL. Damn! I was hoping it was all fluff and I could drop my medication dosage. Instead, Dr. Wood wants me to double my Niacin intake.

Alice did the washing and at 5pm I did the interview with MaryJane. Then we packed for travel the next day. Ed Strickler came by and bought a copy of Memphis 7.9.

Log Date: +2272: 040622: 35N10.6': 85W9.3': 691': Chester Frost CP, Hixson, TN

It rained during the night but had backed off by morning. However, the map showed a line of showers moving east towards Chattanooga and Knoxville. There did not seem to be any way of missing them, so we packed up, Alice went over to pay the bill, and we headed back onto I-75. We followed the bypass around Knoxville and were soon headed southeast over the rolling hills of trees. You don't see much landscape in eastern Tennessee.

The rain I expected began to spot the windshield and then it got harder and harder. Finally, it was reaching the point where I could not see well enough to drive. I pulled off to the side of the road to wait it out. It took about 30 minutes before the it eased enough to travel again. Alice was relieved that I had stopped, but not as much as I was. The only thing that bothered me was when in the midst of the downpour some truck drivers still went by at near 70 miles per hour. I only saw their blur and felt their wash, but they apparently had a greater faith in luck than I did. As it turned out, their luck held, and we did not see any remains along the road as we continued our trip southeast on I-75 after the rain stopped.

We left I-75 and took TN-317 to the west to TN-153. I found the driving to be hard because of the signage; there were few heads-up types of signs, and the highway markers were not obvious. But we made it. Turning north on 153 we crossed the Tennessee River at the dam for Chickamauga Lake, and a couple of miles beyond we turned right on TN-317 (Hixson Pike). We wound through a mix of urban development and trees until I spotted the one sign that said Chester Frost County Park. Without that sign and help from the GPS we would have missed our turn onto Gold Circle Drive (no street sign). They must assume you know where you are going.

We followed the two-lane road past the construction at the intersection and soon found ourselves next to a broad lake. It was not clear just where we should go until we found a sign for registration. That took us out on a land bridge to an island where the ranger station was located. We stopped to register and told them we were looking for the McCrees. The ranger located them on the computer and assigned us a nearby spot. The fee was $15 per night for water and electricity, and it was the most beautiful setting we have been in. We were on the shores of Chickamauga Lake looking out to the east. There was enough shade and yet enough open sky to set up the satellites. The grass was all freshly cut and there was pea gravel surrounding the sturdy picnic tables at each site. The roads were all asphalt. As we found out later there were wild birds all over the place.

When we set up camp I had some trouble with the DirecWay installation. I got an excellent signal and cross-pol reading, but when the program went to registration it said I was not allowed there. I futzed with it for some time, even calling Ray Short, our installer. Finally, I just repowered the modem, and it came up. I did not find out what the problem was, but it continued to act that way on future setups.

We found that there had been some more leaking in the front cupboards of the trailer, and I climbed up to take a look at the roof. I had patched it a few weeks back, and I should have redone the whole thing. That is what I did on Wednesday after the rain stopped for a while. The leak was gone after that.

I did some work on so that all emails would come to me, even if they had an unknown address. This would make it easier in the future to tell my listening audience to use an email address composed of the radio call letters and still have it reach me. Later I realized this was a great way to collect associated emails together.

Wednesday morning we went to breakfast at Southern Restaurant which was excellent homecooking. Then we drove down Hixson Pike to WinDixie for groceries. Alice did not like that grocery store.

Back at the rig I checked email and found I had received an endorsement from David Stewart. It reads:

Memphis 7.9 is a gripping novel you can’t put down. The characters, whom seem real, are fiction, but the account, which may seem like fiction, is real. Based on solid science and the projections of many seismologists, Sam Penny has created the scenario of a major earthquake on the New Madrid Fault and its impact on the Midwest and its people. Sam’s earthquake will happen some day and it could be in your lifetime. I can’t think of a better way to prepare for it than to read and experience Sam’s excellent, well-written account. It could save your life. I understand this is part one of a series. I look forward to Sam’s next book and intend to read it with interest.

David Stewart, Ph.D.
Former Director, Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium
And the Center for Eartquake Studies
Author of The Earthquake America Forgot,
Damages and Losses from Future New Madrid Earthquakes,
and several other books on the New Madrid Fault.

I was very pleased. I started working in earnest on my S100+ list as suggested at PMA so I could send PR on the endorsement. Alice did some work on her laptop and we took life easy for the rest of the day. I also downloaded the eBook reader and free books offered at BEA to check out that media.

Thursday morning we walked the park. There was a large "gaggle" of geese with young teenagers in tow. There must have been fifty in the flock. Alice had taken pictures the day before but I had not gotten a good look at them. Just before lunch we drove into Chattanooga to go to Lookout Mountain. We bought round-trip tickets for the tram to the top ($8 each for seniors - worth it). It is quite a ride. You begin by sitting way back looing backwards from the direction of travel. As the tram moves up the track (over a mile) it gets steeper and steeper, reaching a 72% slope. At that time you are about to fall out the front of your seat. We had to climb up the floor to get off the tram. The elevation was 2,120 feet.

We bought lunch at the "deli." Though it was a minimal kind of operation, the food was quite ample and good. We sat on the deck to each lunch. The sight was foggily spectacular, meaning I could see there was something there but the low hanging clouds hid much of it. Then it started to sprinkle. We walked down the road to Point Park, but it cost more to walk around the area. By that time it was raining, so we returned to the tram building.

We caught the next tram down the mountain, this time looking forward and eventually almost laying on our backs. It was still raining when we made it back to the truck, but not bad. We got back on the road and after a while found our way back to our rig. It had been a good day.

That afternoon I sent out a couple of other requests for endorsements and continued working on the S100+ list. It was more work getting organized than I thought it would be.

I received a call from the Sister's Studio Bookstore in Lawrenceburg, TN. They are going out of business. I told them to give the remaining books to the library. I need to do PR on that.

Thursday night we went back to the Southern Restaurant with the McCrees. I had a couple of pieces of catfish with okra, hushpuppies, and flat green beans. The food was good but far too much. Everyone ate it all, but at least we all skipped the fresh strawberry pie.

Friday after breakfast and walking we shopped for groceries and vitamins. We went to Food Lion and signed up for a grocery card to get the discounts, but they did not have much. Eckerd's did not have good selection of vitamins. We are learning the good and not-so-good businesses in the east. Mid-morning the rains really got heavy, and we just hung around the rig, doing a few preparations for traveling the next day. I did download the eBook writer from I also called Michael Dresser to schedule the radio interview training: Monday at 2pm.

Log Date: +2277: 040626: 33N55.38': 84W10.66': 969': Jones RV Park, Nocross, GA

Saturday morning the relative clearing that had started the night before continued, so preparing to travel was not the chore I expected. Once we were hooked up we drove around to dump the tanks and then retraced our route to catch I-75. Alice had a real problem because Streets wanted to say we were heading for Chester Frost Park when we were leaving, and the directions were all screwed up. Once we reached I-75 and started into new territory the directions cleared up and she knew where we were going.

We drove through Chattanooga and continued on I-75. The McCrees had told us of the Costco in Kennesaw, so that was a scheduled stop. However, the directions provided by the McCrees and by Streets put Costco on different sides of the street. The McCrees were right, and we had to drive around pulling the trailer to find a way to get over to the other side of an eight-lane road to shop at Costco. Once there we had the reknowned Costco Polish hotdogs for lunch then loaded up on staples.

It was raining when we got back on the freeway, but soon cleared. We continued down I-75 to turn east on I-285 and then to the north on I-85. I didn't get any feeling for what Atlanta might look like; I was totally focused on my driving. The traffic was thick as molasses, and I really had to concentrate to know which lane to keep to. Finally, six miles up I-85 we came to exit 101 and departed the Interstate.

Getting to Jones RV Park involved turning right on Indian Trails and then turning right again at the next stop light within a hundred yards. We drove the block down and up the hill to the entrance. I was beginning to feel disappointed. We were within 100 yards of the freeway, and the road noise was powerful.

The office was closed and the sign said choose your site and pay on the honor system at $23 per day. It was full hookups for RVs but looked like a permanent trailer park. We drove over the hill to the south and got away from noise. The looks did not improve that much, but we did find a nice level site and pulled in and set up. The trip had been 140 miles.

It took a while to get both satellites working, but soon we were settled in. The RV park had good roads so we walked the park. It took about 20 minutes to do the full circuit.

Sunday morning we drove next door (could have walked) to have breakfast at Shoney's then returned to the trailer and called Dale Caruso at 10am. He and I talked for more than two hours about various aspects of a giant earthquake on the New Madrid. I think I wore him out, but it was a lot of fun having a kindred spirit to talk with.

That afternoon we began to look for a phone I could use for the call to Dresser. Streets said there was a truck stop up I-85 at exit 111, a Phillips 66. We had traveled about a mile when it started raining. Soon we were in the hardest rain I have driven in; traffic slowed to a crawl for three miles. Once we reached exit 111 the rain stopped. There was no Phillips station; the whole area had been rebuilt. But I did find a Wal-Mart and had the truck lubed. The rain continued off and on, and it rained very hard at times the rest of day.

The next morning the weather had cleared and we walked twice around the park. Alice went to do the wash while I worked on the computer. She returned to the rig mid-morning; she had received a phone call from WEKZ in Monroe, WI about me doing another interview the next morning. I called and made the appointment for 8:35am.

I continued to look for a phone we could use for the call to Dresser. I checked next door at Shoney's, the two motels, and the bank in area. Nothing. I finally decided we had to go to the Petro truck stop across town. We drove there for lunch at the Iron Skillet, then tried to use the phone. Too much noise so Michael rescheduled for next Friday. Unfortunately, I left my umbrella in the booth.

Tuesday morning we walked again and then I did the interview with WEKZ. This time I was a bit more organized and established an email address where people could ask questions. The interview went well, but I think Scott Thompson, the host, must have been disappointed I would not take credit for predicting the 4.5 earthquake they had had the night before near Ottowa, IL, 83 miles away.

Once the commitments were out of the way, we drove to Doraville and caught MARTA for downtown Atlanta. It is a good transit system, much like BART in the Bay Area. At the Atlanta Underground area we both bought reading glasses in the Dollar Store and walked up Marietta Street to the CNN building for the studio tour. The tour was good but I am not sure it is worth the $8 each we paid. I had thought about doing a taping of me doing the news, but only their script was allowed, not allowing me to do any ad-libbing about the earthquake. Afterwards we wandered around Coca-Cola headquarters store and the Atlanta Underground and had lunch at Le Petit Bistro. My spicy chicken on spicy rice was really spicy.

Retracing our route on MARTA back to Doraville and Norcross we went to a Publix food market. It was a fine grocery store with good selections. I bought a watermelon for supper.

That evening I received an email to regarding the need to worry about earthquakes in Monroe, Wisconson and answered it. It felt good to get some response; at least one person was listening to WEKZ. I took care of Internet housekeeping, checked for web references, found JC's photo gallery, and started my blog on Author's Den. After the game shows I headed for bed to be ready to travel the next day.

Log Date: +2280: 040630: 34N29.8': 82W58.8': 768': Carolina Landing TTN, Fairplay, SC 29643

I had put away the awning, chairs, and rug the night before so the slight drizzle the next morning was not getting everything wet. I spent some time bringing this travelogue up to date while Alice did the dishes, then we finished packing to head out. We had 84 miles to go to Carolina Landing TTN Park.

I dumped the tanks before leaving and as we headed out it was spitting rain. That continued all the way along I-85 as we headed to the northeast. Once again we drove through the tree canyons of the eastern United States, wondering what lay on the other side. In the distance it looked like everything was covered in trees in that part of Georgia. Alice became especially concerned with the ivy covered trees, fence posts, and signs. She was afraid we would have to camp in the ivy.

There were a few more open fields with no ivy as we entered South Carolina, and we continued all the way to exit 4 on the Interstate. I did not realize that I had to do a U-turn to head back to our destination (even though Alice kept telling me to turn right - into the abandoned service station, I thought), so I missed the turn and did a U-turn at the next road intersection. We drove the mile and a half to the TTN park and checked in. The trip was 84 miles.

The campground roads were somewhat narrow and in need of resurfacing. It would almost be better if they went to gravel. Much of the camping area is on the side of a hill. All that said, it is a nice campground with enough trees to provide shade but enough open spaces to get a sight on the satellites.

Checking in right behind us was another fifth-wheel with California plates. I said hello and before long we were busy talking with Jim and Sandy Lucchesi from Kyburz on US-50 in the Sierras. Talk drifted to satellite Internet so I invited them over to watch the setup of my DirecWay system. Everything went well until I tried to go to, and then I got a DNS error. Then it didn't work. I futzed with my computer trying to force it, and in the process broke some software link because I suddenly could not even get email.

Shortly thereafter Alice was able to get email and surf the web. I sent a frantic email call for help to daughter Deb. In the meantime, I went back to editing the travelogue. Later, when Deb called she helped me through the repair process and I finally got back online. So the month of June ended on a bright note.

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