Updated April, 2004
Log Date: +2159: 040301: 33N27.13': 116W52.12': 2,191': Jojoba Hills SKP Resort, Aguanga, CA
Monday morning Alice and I headed into Temecula for my wound check on my angiogram and our final shopping spree. We had a lengthy list of things we had thought of that might be needed on our trip to the east coast. The wound check went fine and we did our shopping. Upon returning Alice went to do the final clothes washing and I worked on the flower garden. We didn't even bother to go to the general meeting. We had already said our goodbyes.
As we went to bed that night we both felt a growing sense of excitement. We were finally going to head out on our long jouney.
However . . .
Log Date: +2160: 040302: 32N41.11': 114W38.18': 202': Yuma Elks Lodge, Yuma, AZ
Tuesday morning I planted the last of the green stuff in the flower garden. We drove down to the office to check out and put our lot into the rental pool. Coming back I picked up the propane bottle that had just been filled and brought it back to the trailer. We finished preparing the trailer for travel. The weather was a bit drippy and cool, but it looked to be a great day.
I started the truck and turned it around to back in under the trailer. As I carefully prepared to hookup, I made sure that the hitch was latched. But I found that when I tried to attach the umbilical cord from the trailer to the truck there was no place to attach it. Faith Auto Body shop had forgotten to install the receptical for the trailer connection!!!!
I did not panic. All I did was say a few words that were not so nice. I called and told them I was headed in to get the problem fixed, NOW! Alice and I headed for Temecula. I was ready to have someone's scalp, but when I got there they were quick and efficient and had arranged for an immediate fix. I took the truck over to the electrical place and within an hour the receptical was in place. During the delay Alice and I had a chance to have lunch at the Saigon Noodle Shop a couple of blocks away. It was a different and enjoyable experience. Sipping Vietnamese noodles will calm anyone down.
Considering it was only 2:00 in the afternoon, I decided we could still make it to Yuma, though there would not be time to visit with the Showers as planned. Rushing back to Jojoba Hills ahead of the rain, we hooked up and by 2:55pm pulled out on our way to Yuma. Our trip was underway.
Occasional rain spit on us all the way down S2, and there was snow on all the peaks around us. But the road was clear and we had very little ponding on the pavement until we reached the Anza Borrego Desert area. By then there was some lightning to the south of us and signs of heavy downpours. We had to drive through a couple of washes, but nothing more than six inches deep. In the late afternoon light the damp hills, rocks, ocotilla, and cholla made for some great scenes.
It was still sprinkling when we turned east on I-8. That continued (including a brief hailstorm) until we had almost reached El Centro, then the rain stopped. The outside temperature hovered in the 40s even though we were below sea level. It was not your typical SoCal weather.
We arrived in Yuma about 6:30pm California, 7:30 Arizona time. We found the Elks Lodge and backed into a handy space. The trip had been 170 miles. After getting mostly set up we went inside the lodge to pay for a couple of nights of boondocking and have supper. Then it was back to the trailer to finish setting up. I put out the Satellite TV and quickly found the bird. We rested a while and then went to bed.
Wednesday morning I set up the DirecWay Satellite Internet without trouble and we enjoyed our TV and email news. Just before noon we headed over to Algodonas to purchase medications. I found that my new prescription for Crestor was cheaper in the US than in Mexico. It is a matter of the drug being so new they just don't have it in the pipeline yet. We did stock up on the other meds we needed for the coming year.
We had lunch at the Red Lobster in Yuma and
then went back to the trailer. About 4pm we headed over for our
visit with Janice and David Showers in Cocopah. We had a most
pleasant evening, though I imbibed a bit too much. Alice drove
us home and we slept like grumpy logs. The next morning we planned
to head out on our longest leg of the trip.
Log Date: +2162: 040304: 31N56.63': 110W17.52': 3,667': Saguaro SKP Park, Benson, AZ
Thursday morning we woke fairly early and started to pack. I checked our energy meter and found that we had used 168 amp-hours during our two day stay. I hoped the drive to Benson would recharge the batteries.
The weather was still cloudy and cool with showers in the distance. Alice did the dishes and I packed the outside. We were on I-8 by about 9:15am. The further east we drove the sloppier the weather became as we caught up with the storm that had gone through the day before. By the time we reached I-10 we were driving in a steady rainfall.
We stopped at the Dairy Queen at Picacho Peak like we have done several times in the past. It just seems to be in the right place for lunch.
Once we were past Tucson the weather improved a little, but it got colder. By the time we pulled into the Saguaro SKP Park in Benson, 290 miles down the road, there was a wind and the temperature was in the high 30s. We were assigned a boondock site and quickly settled in. The battery was fully recharged, so I agreed with Alice that we should use the furnace to take the chill off the trailer. Once it was warm, the catalytic heater kept it in good shape.
I put out the Satellite TV and we had entertainment.
A supper of chicken/broccoli/muchroom soup warmed our insides
and we enjoyed an evening of peace and quiet.
Log Date: +2163: 040305: 32N20.73': 106W46.63': 4,028': Las Cruces Elks Lodge, Las Cruces, NM
Friday morning both Alice and I felt much better. We had had a good night's sleep and the weather was moderating. We had breakfast and hooked up. I stopped by the dump to unload our wastes and refill the fresh water tank. Benson has good water, so they say.
We headed out about 9:30am, stopping for diesel at a Bell Station. It was $1.819 per gallon. Then we were back on I-10 on our way to Las Cruces.
Once again we caught up with the weather, and the dusting of snow came down the mountains even closer to the road. But it never snowed on us, though some of the rain was a bit heavy at times. By the time we reached Demming the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to shine through in places. We had lunch at the Denny's and continued on our way. There was a strong northwest wind, so we had some help on our mileage.
We arrived at the US70 exit into Las Cruces about 2:15pm. After a long drive through town we found Elks Lane, two blocks from I-25. We would have been faster going around town on the freeway, but at the cost of maybe a couple more miles.
We pulled into the lodge parking lot and found where other RVs were parked. The trip was 233 miles. I went in to the bar and found it was first come, first served, so I went back out to pick a place. We were able to back into a nice spot with access to electrical and water. I paid for four nights at $7 per night. What a deal.
Setup went pretty well except I had trouble with "ranging" on DirecWay, even with a great signal and cross pol. I called Ray Short for help and when he returned the call later that evening I brought the system up very quickly. There has been a slight change in setup procedures that I needed to do.
Friday evening we took it easy and I worked on this website to get things in order. Now it is a matter of keeping it up to date.
Saturday morning we located the post office and drove over for our general delivery mail that had been waiting for a us for a week. We received the Best Buy cash cards for our purchases made in December. Now we have to figure out what else we want to purchase at Best Buy.
That afternoon we placed an order with RxUSA.com for my Crestor and I sent my WFS paper off to Deb for final editing. Then we visited the bar at the Elk's Lodge, made some quick friends, and drank too much wine -- but it was fun to relax. I did some more work on the webpage and then retired for a long night's sleep.
Sunday morning I entered Deb's edits on the paper and then we headed northeast on US70 to visit the Space Museum in Alamagordo and the White Sands National Monument. We had lunch at an Applebee's which was packed. It took a while to realize no one was drinking booze, so there were lots of families eating good food.
The Space Museum provided a great review of the history of space exploration. The White Sands missile range was very active in the development of many of the systems used in the past and even now. There were many momentos to see, such as the jet powered sled used to test the effects of deceleration on the human body.
I was also interested in seeing something about the Trinity test site where the first atomic bomb was tested in 1945. I finally found one small exhibit showing some of the "trinitite" taken from around the blast site (the sand melted into glass from the fireball) and a replica of the monument. The site is west of Carrizozo which was another 70 miles to the north. I found out later that there is no access to the site except at special times.
We stopped at the White Sands National Monument on the way back to Las Cruces and enjoyed a couple of hours wandering over the dunes of gypsum sand and driving along the loop to the heart of the dunes. I had a chance to take a number of pictures with the new camera Deb had given me and they came out well. Here is a selection.
On the left is a soap tree yucca growing at the edge of the dunes. The wind is blowing the dune closer and closer, and it will be a fight over the next couple of years to see if it can survive. The yucca on the right set root atop one of the dunes and will hang on as long as it can.
Below you see what it looks like in the middle of the 325 square mile of dunes. There is virtually no life, just piles of white sand. You can also see the mountains in the distance and a Colorado Cottonwood tree that somehow took root atop one of the dunes. It does offer haven for some of the wildlife that lives in the area.
We returned to our traveling home as the sun was setting in the west. We went into the bar to check on our friends and found Joe there. I showed him my book and left a card. He has a sister living near Tupelo, Mississippi, and she may be in some trouble if a big earthquake hits.
Returning for the evening I spent some time setting up the beginnings of the www.survivorpool.org website. It is still in its infancy, but I hope it will grow into something useful. Since I reference it in my paper I decided I should get busy on it.
Monday morning I worked on this webpage and then we had some errands to run: purchase propane, wash clothes, mail a package to Deb. While Alice was watching the washer work I called the bookstores in Memphis to announce I would be available for book signings. We will have to see what develops there. When we returned I got the pictures ready to upload to go with this webpage. Then we started prepping for pulling out the next morning.
Our neighbor Allen told us of a nice city park
in Junction, Texas. They planned to go there the next day. It
would take us two.
Log Date: +2167: 040309: 30N54.31': 102W54.23': 2,600': Commanche RV Park, Ft. Stockton, TX
Tuesday was a travel day. I had a trip planned to get to somewhere around Pecos, Texas, but no firm commitment to stay anywhere. As I had explained to our friends on email, we were faced with crossing west Texas and there were a lot of miles to go.
The weather was mostly clear with some high clouds. I went down and topped off on fuel before we left. We also filled the fresh water tank with water, not knowing just where we would be staying. We made it out of the Elks parking lot about 9:10 and pulled onto I-25 heading south. The traffic was moderate and the road was smooth. The only real problem was there was a steady wind from the southeast.
Shortly after we hit the road we received a phone call from RxUSA.com. They were trying to process my prescription but could not locate the fax we had sent. They had had a problem with one of their computer systems over the weekend. We agreed to resend the fax the first chance we got.
The drive through El Paso was not too bad though the traffic was a bit thicker. As we finally left the more urban area I spied a Petro truck stop ahead and we pulled off to send the fax. It cost another $3 and when Alice called to tell them the fax was on the way, the gal at RxUSA told her they had just found the fax we sent on Saturday. The price of meds keeps going up, mostly from all the ancillary charges!
There is not much to say about driving east from El Paso. It is a drive through a high desert, very reminiscent of the drive on S2 from Jojoba to Ocotillo. It did give Alice and me a chance to talk about a variety of things and to listen to various pieces of recorded music.
We were approaching the junction with I-20 about noon and I suggested that we not branch off to Pecos but to just continue east on I-10 and see how far we could go before becoming too tired to drive. Alice looked ahead for Exit Services and found there were several campground possibilities around Fort Stockton. That became our new destination.
I was pretty tired by the time we reached our
destination, 280 miles from Las Cruces. Alice chose a campground
on the north side of the freeway, away from the town and railroad.
It was the Comanche Land RV Park, $10 for full hookups. It is
easy to see because of all the arrows sticking into the ground
throughout the grounds. There was not much else to offer, but
for what we wanted it was fine.
Log Date: +2168: 040310: 30N29.39': 99W45.90': 1,700': Schrier City Park, Junction, TX
We were up and about after a good night's rest. It had been quiet and noticably warmer. After breakfast Alice cleaned the inside and I prepped the outside for travel. I had the chance to dump the tanks and prepare two new CDs with collections of our more listenable mp3s. We were both getting tired of the same old songs.
It seems almost everyone in the park took off at the same time, about 9:30. But the others headed west or north. Our destination was east to Junction, TX, 203 miles ahead on I-10. At least it would not be such a long day.
Again the weather was clear with high clouds. We started seeing more and more of the limestone hills and there were several half-mile downslopes and upslopes. The cuts for the road clearly showed how the entire area was one large limestone basin. Occasionally you could see in the cuts where there must have been some kind of cave formed, now filled with dirt and debris. There were more and more trees and brush, mostly juniper and scrub oak.
Allen in Las Cruces had recommended we try the city park in Junction. We found Schrier Park shown on the map, so that became our target. When we arrived at the exit, I figured it would be right there, but we had to wind our way through town to get to the final destination. I am glad we did. We parked next to the Llano River. It was so level I did not even bother unhooking the trailer from the truck.
A small dam on the river created an expanse of calm water. There were several bands of ducks and geese swimming around. These with the tufts on their heads were the most striking. Wolf had no interest in any of them; he just wanted to smell everything. We had a nice walk around the park.
We were boondocking but I did set up the TV satellite. We did not bother being really conservative and used about 160 Amphours overnight. I took the opportunity to mostly finish work on the new book cover for Memphis 7.9. The back of the cover says the book was nominated for the Darrell Award. I will update it before going to print when I know the final status.
I also worked on collecting the biblography
for the World Future Society paper. I needed to get some final
information from the Internet to finish that project.
Log Date: +2169: 040311: 29N43.84': 96W36.54': 225': Colorado River TTN Park, Columbus, TX
Thursday morning we heard a bit of sprinkling on the top of the trailer. We looked outside to see partly cloudy skies. There was a little breeze and the temperature was in the 60s. We had not used the catalytic heater or the furnace all night. After breakfast we pulled out onto 418 loop then headed east across the river to connect to I-10.
The weather was cloudy with a hint of sprinkles, but as we traveled east it mostly cleared. Alice and I talked over just how we were going to get past San Antonio. When I had worked on a route through the city on I-10, our DeLorme Streets 2004 mapping program had been very insistent that I did not want to go that way. Maybe Fate was trying to tell me something. So we agreed to follow the instructions from the program.
The traffic was becoming more and more congested as we approached our turnoff onto Bypass 1604. It was a great relief when we did the transition and found ourselves on a nice four lane freeway with little traffic. I relaxed. Then shortly after crossing I-35 the freeway ended and we were traveling on a four-lane highway divided by a double yellow line. The program said to turn east on F-M 78, a two lane local road, instead of continuing on down to I-10. It was about 6 miles shorter, but I wondered at the advisability of taking the narrower road.
The traffic on the four-lane increased and I decided the sooner we got away from urban areas the better, so I turned east. It was slow for a mile as we went past Randolph AFB, then the drive became another pleasant trip through country land. You can surely see a lot more when you are not pressured on a freeway.
We returned to I-10 at Seguin and continued east. The land had become much flatter, and there were more trees and fields. I noticed that the price of deisel seemed to be climbing from what I had seen around San Antonio, so when we saw a Pilot Truck Stop ahead, I pulled off and filled the tank. As it turned out, I should have waited until we reached our destination. The price was 15 cents cheaper there.
We continued on down I-10 towards Columbus. But the mapping software said to turn off the freeway about three miles before we reached the town. That seemed strange until we later found that there was no east bound exit from I-10 onto Highway 71, our next leg. After getting onto 71 we crossed the Colorado River and almost missed the turnoff to F-M 1890, probably because I was surprised at seeing a little service station with deisel at $1.519 per gallon.
A mile down 1890 we found the turnoff to the Colorado River TTN and proceeded to the gate for checkin. Wolf recognized the guard shack and almost crawled out the window trying to get to the ranger for his dog treat. She obliged by giving him a biscuit and checked us in for four nights. We quickly found a nice spot in A section and I backed in. The trip had been 243 miles.
Everything went smoothly except I had trouble getting DirecWay to establish a conneciton. I took Ray Short's advice and decided to let it sit for a while and try later. We finished setting the rest of the trailer up for camping and unfolded the chairs to relax outside. The slight breeze in the late afternoon under the nearby oak tree created a beautiful environment and we just sat there to enjoy it. A little later I tried DirecWay again and completed the connection. I returned outside to collect my email.
One of the first emails I spied was from the editor of Future Surveys Magazine, part of the World Future Society. He had received my book and said he would review it along with notes from my WFS paper. Wow, another small step in the right direction. Then I opened the Jojobians digest and read about happenings back home. In the midst of one email, there was a short comment about attending the funeral of Lee Smith. Alice and I were very saddened to learn that one of the people who had been so instrumental in convincing us to join Jojoba Hills had passed away. We had known she was ill, but it was still a shock.
That evening I finished validating the bibliography for the WFS paper and prepared it for transmittal.
I also tried to reach my contact at Booksurge.com about an offer they had emailed me about. Unfortunately, neither the email offer or their webpage provided any information on how to get involved. As it turned out, my contact still has not bothered to call or email back.
Friday morning we walked over to the Family Lodge for breakfast. We had a nice chat with a couple, Bob and June, and heard about where to park near Miami and Chicago. Returning to our rig we found a herd of about 20 deer grazing around the area. The young ones were kicking up their heels and having lots of fun.
Back inside I did one final check on my WFS paper entitled "A 7.9 Magnitude Earthquake in the Central USA: A Truly Catastrophic Disaster" and emailed it off to the conference. Shortly afterward I received a response that it had been received. One more step along the way was accomplished. You can read excerpts from the paper at my new website www.the79survivor.com.
The next morning we cut hair and took showers and then went to town for lunch at Schoelers and shopped for groceries. It was raining from time to time but not a problem. That evening I installed TurboTax and computed our taxes. Once again we owed nothing. Such is the advantage of being able to live a simple life. We only had to take a small amount out of our IRA to make ends meet.
On Sunday we exercised with the rubber bands and did some more work on the publicity of Memphis 7.9. I talked with the people next door, Inez and Leon Horn, about my book and they purchased a copy. Later in the day we walked around the park and I worked on the RV Travels webpage.
Log Date: +2173: 040315: 30N23.75': 95W32.05': 333': Lake Conroe TTN Park, Willis, TX
On Monday we woke up to drizzle and slowly got things together for our 107 mile journey to Lake Conroe. It was nice that we did not have far to travel.
After dumping our tanks we made it out on the road by 10am. We drove east on I-10 to FM 949 and headed northeast. The next 90 miles were through the part of Texas not under the control of a freeway. There were farms and ranchettes with lots of cattle and goats. There were fields of grass and trees. It was very pleasant. There were only a few bluebonnets in bloom, but there was lots of indication of color to come.
Along the way, Alice and I were talking and not watching the road. Our prescribed route turned left and we continued straight. We immediately recognized the problem, but then we had to figure out how to turn around. The roads were all two lane paved, but there were no solid shoulders next to the road beds on which to make a U-turn. I finally found a paved side road into which I could back the trailer and make the turn-around. It pointed out one problem with traveling the back roads: DO NOT MAKE A WRONG TURN.
As we approached I-45 the population density increased and our average speed went down. We finally made it onto the freeway, but then it was white knuckle time. At last we turned off onto the road to the TTN park and continued to the front gate. After Wolf received his standard TTN treat from the ranger (and we registered for four days) we headed into the park to find a place to park. It was very nearly full so there were not so many choices, but we did find a good spot up on the hill and settled in. Setup of the antenna farm went very smoothly.
We made reservations in Memphis and handled other matters over the Internet. I sent queries to four Little Rock radio stations. We took a walk and then settled down after supper. It had been a busy day.
Tuesday was a day for washing and then driving over to Livingston to pick up mail and schmooze. We had a nice visit with Cathy Carr. We also set up TwoPenny Publications and registered a DBA with Polk County and the mail service.
Wednesday we drove down to Houston to find a Costco. We had lunch at a Sonic Drive-in and found out where the Costco was located. Our CD map was not up to date. The traffic was bad on I-45 going down so we took the back roads coming back. We stopped in Tomball at a Walmart and had the truck lubbed. Travel time was as good on the back roads as on the freeway. When we got back to camp I trimmed Wolf for the summer heat and then checked out our travel plans for the next few days. We decided to spend a night at the Elks Lodge in Shreveport. Before we left I wanted to get a picture of the beautiful red bud tree in front of the Family Lodge. Spring was definitely in the air.
Thursday was my birthday. After working on
the webpage we went out for lunch at the Steak and Ale. The BBQ
ribs were so-so. After returning to the rig I worked on the bookmarks
and business cards. I decided to use someone's advice and put
a synopsis of the story on the backside of both the bookmark and
the business card.
Log Date: +2177: 040317: 32N28.41': 93W42.18': 200': Elks Lodge, Shreveport, LA
Friday we were up early for showers and getting ready to travel. The weather was overcast. We made it out of the TTN park at 9am and headed up to I-45 on Old Montgomery Road. Alice was becoming more adept at navigating with the Streets 2004 display. I had set up the trip to take the shortest route with my assumptions of how fast I could drive on different roads. It made for an interesting day.
Shortly after seeing the gigantic statue of Sam Houston on I-45 approaching Huntsville we exited on State Route 75 then connected with SR-19, heading north. We cut across on SR-30 to save a few miles but added to the confusion of where we were. After a mile and a half we were back on SR-19 headed north-northeast.
At Riverside we crossed the Trinity River near the top of Lake Livingston. It was hard to tell what was lake and what was swamp. In the middle of the town of Trinity we turned right onto SR-94, heading east then northeast. We crossed another arm of Lake Livingston and veered toward the north. Shortly after going through Glendale we swung around to the east again and then northeast. The land was rolling hills and the road was smooth. There was a bit of drizzle but not enough to cause a problem. Both Alice and I were rapidly losing our sense of direction.
Suddenly SR-94 joined US-287. Since my mental compass was completely shot, it was not clear which way I should go, but Alice yelled go right. I did and we headed southeast! That was not the direction to Shreveport I complained, but she informed me that was the right route. Then as we came into Groveton the speed limit slowed us and Alice told me I should follow SR-94 through town. As we approached the county courthouse with a stop light three blocks in the distance, the SR-94 sign pointing left suddenly appeared on the right side of the road. I barely slowed in time to make the turn onto what looked like an alley. One block later we turned right behind the jail. Alice said she needed to give the dog a chance to potty, so I pulled over for a break. I needed some relief myself.
There was a slight drizzle as we walked around through the clover behind the jail and courthouse. The sign for B-Fast Bail Bonds was across the street and the gal with the K-9 unit was filling her SUV with fuel next to the jail. I felt conspicuous in my SoCal shorts walking a Pomeranian, but what the hell. I had California plates on both vehicles, so my cover was complete.
After a short rest we continued on our trip and immediately turned left onto another alley-like street. It was SR-94 headed north out of town. We were driving through the Dave Crockett National Forest and there were stands of tall, spindelly pines mixed in the tangles of brush and swamp. We went through the town of Apple Springs and continued on into Lufkin.
We left SR-94 in Lufkin and turned northeast on SR-266 Loop to connect to US-59G. On the map it looked simple, but it was a matter of driving on faith. As we moved out of town US-59 became a better and better road and we made good time heading towards the north. At Nacogdoches we had a choice of driving around the outside of the town on the 224 Loop or driving through town. Since they were advertising that it was the oldest town in Texas, we said lets just drive on through the middle. It was somewhat slow but interesting. We passed within a few blocks of the old section on a street too narrow to drive a fifth wheel.
There was an abrupt intersection where US-259 continued north and US-59 turned northeast. We took the latter and were back on a smooth straight road. This continued to Timpson, then our route took a turn! If we stayed on US-59 we would go east then head north. The route proposed by Streets was to "take the hypotenuse" from Timpson to Carthage. It appeared we would save about five miles. So we took it.
We turned left on US-84 and then turned right on F-M 1970. This was a somewhat narrow two-lane road with a decided ripple. But it was through some very interesting country. We headed north through the heartland of East Texas farm country. Alice announced that there was a section of no-name road coming up, and suddenly it was beyond us. The switch from 1970 to 999 was a confused array of roads with construction in the middle of it. From there we continued to Gary where we switched to F-M 10, but the road signs were confusing and only appeared at the last minute.
F-M 10 abruptly turned hard left to the north for nor apparent reason as we were heading into Pleasant Ridge. We came to a stop and turned right onto SR-149. Shortly afterward we came to an intersection with US-59 going our way, so we rejoined our route to the northeast. Now, I am not sure if we saved any distance, and I am sure we did not save any time, but we did have a very interesting drive through some country very few tourists have seen.
We continued on the US-59 loop around Carthage to US-79 and turned right heading northeast. Shortly we crossed into Louisiana and soon found ourselves ready to merge onto I-20. But there was a Love's Truck Stop to the left of the road, and I sort of forced my way into the left lane to go there. The fuel cost $1.509 per gallon after the Good Sam discount. The lube job must have really helped because our mileage on the last tank of gas was over 14 mpg.
We pulled out of the truck stop and made it on to I-20 heading east. In a short time I took the Hearne exit, went the wrong way and had to turn around, and then hooked up with King's Highway, a somewhat narrow fourlane street that went on and on to the east. If I had continued up I-20 and turned south on I-49 I could have saved about five minutes. But it was interesting driving through some of the older sections of Shreveport.
Kings Road turned around to the south and when we reached Preston Avenue we turned left across the bayou and almost missed the left turn into the Elks property. I backed up a short distance and made it and we drove down onto the grounds of the Elks Lodge. There was plenty of room for us to park so we backed in and unhooked the trailer.
I went inside to make a donation of $20 for two nights stay and then Alice and I went off to Olive Garden for lunch. When we returned we did all the leveling and rigging the satellites. Afterward we set up the satellite farm, went into the lodge for drinks, and had a nice visit with Tony the bartender and others.
Saturday morning we talked about driving around to visit Shreveport, but I got busy editing Broken River and we never made it out. I did make good progress on the book, and then spent the afternoon scanning the Internet for review opportunities. I found some good places and sent off some emails. I also sent an email to booksurge telling them of my plans to reprint. I need to move 190 books in the next couple of months.
We had a nice visit with the Lynch's who were parked next to us. They are from Iowa. Marilyn ended up purchasing #93 of the Memphis 7.9 limited edition. I am now down to eight left. After that I will sell signed copies but not numbered copies.
We checked the weather. There is a cold front
moving in and tomorrow we are supposed to move up to Hot Springs.
The storms are expected to reach us during the night, so maybe
we will drive in clear weather. Tomorrow night the predicted temp
is 33 degrees in Hot Springs. This has been a good stay at the
Shreveport Elks Lodge, and we will miss it when we leave. Alice
suggested we might want to stay in Shreveport. We will check it
Log Date: +2179: 040321: 34N32.52': 92W52.74': 802': Cloud Nine RV Park, Hot Springs, AR
Sunday morning about 1am the storms came in from the north. We had seen them passing through Little Rock the evening before on the Internet radar display and the Weather Channel said they were dying off. We had about an hour of hard rain with intermingled lightning and thunder. Wolf climbed in bed with Alice and snuggled under her covers.
I had reacted when the first wave of light rain came through and I heard thunder in the distance. I went outside and removed the DirecWay antenna from the stand and disconnected the coax cables. I just set the dish on the ground next to the trailer. I am glad I did. The wind was not too bad, but I felt better knowing it would not act as a lightning rod.
When the heavy rain hit, Alice jumped up and closed all the vents and windows. Good thing she did, because there was a period when it sounded like someone was pouring water from a thousand buckets on top of the rig.
What with counting the seconds from flash to sound (5 per mile) I soon dropped off to sleep. When I woke again about 4:30 and looked out, the rain had stopped and the storms had moved on. I lay in bed and thought about things to do and finally got up at 5am and went to sit in my chair and write. I made some progress on chapter 12 of Broken River. I don't really have writer's block but I am having trouble getting that chapter to flow the way I want.
I went back to bed for a nap about 6:30 and then we got up and took showers. After fixing our standard breakfast I started rigging up for travel while Alice washed the dishes. The Lynches came over and watched as we prepared. When we finally pulled out at 9:30 I stopped by and dumped the tanks and refilled the fresh water before hitting the highways.
We headed east on Preston from the Elks Lodge, crossed the Red River, and finally caught State Route 3 north. It was a smooth two-lane road that ran mostly straight north across the flatlands of northern Louisiana. There were occasional slowdowns for small towns, but for the most part the road was very constant and there was not much traffic.
The terrain was mostly wooded with a mix of forest land, clear cuts, and areas of brush. The deciduous trees are just starting to bud, so the basic color was gray with splotches of evergreen and some buds covering the tree tips shades of brown, pink, and yellow. Amidst those trees we occasionally saw flashes of bright pink red bud and white dog wood.
As we moved further north there were some rolling hills and more and more open pastures. At the border nothing changed except the name of the road: from SR-3 to SR-29. Oh yes, the shape of the sign changed from Louisiana to Arkansas.
When we come to the town of Hope, we found the road had changed from what Streets said and SR-29 went around the town rather than straight through. So we followed the bypass, taking maybe an extra mile but saving at least ten minutes and lots of starts and stops.
Next we were on Interstate-30 heading northeast. How would you describe an Interstate? It is like saying find that lady with the gray hair in a retirement community. They all look alike when you are driving.
Our destination was the Elks Lodge in Hot Springs, so we took the combination of SR-7, -238, -128, and -84 north at Caddo Valley. It is one of the more scenic drives in Arkansas. It is also one of the more winding, narrow drives in Arkansas. I was glad to be pulling only a 25 ft rig. But it was fun.
At last we came to Lake Hamilton. The density of tourist businesses increased markedly. When SR-7 became Central Avenue it was a matter of driving down a strip mall of malls. It reminded me of our visit to Branson, MO.
It was 12:45 when our green GPS arrow approached the yellow dot marking the Elks Lodge. We watched both sides of the street very carefully as we came to the dot and then went past. I was amazed that the Elks would have a lodge in the midst of all that commercial business.
We finally came to a small mall with an address that told us we had driven a block too far. So we pulled in and I went into one of the businesses to ask for directions. The young girl gave me explicit instructions and we headed back on the back streets. As she said, "You can't miss it. It's a really big building."
Finding no BPOE where she said, I pulled back onto Central and we went into a small mall on the other side. The young girl at the Subway said the Elks had moved to a new place on "Section Line Road." I went back to the truck and did a search in Streets for some place by that name in Hot Springs. Nothing. So I went into the next business and found a oldster who said he had been an Elk for 38 years and yes, he knew where the Elks had been and were now. They had been across the street, right where we looked at the construction job going on to build yet another small mall. They were in the process of moving to some place a mile down SR-270 but the new lodge was not finished. So there was no place to go.
Alice and I took the opportunity to have lunch at Subway and discussed what to do. There was an RV park just down Central at $15 per night, but it was in the middle of town and unappealing. We pulled out the Passport America book and found there was a park on towards Little Rock on SR-70. That became our new target, and in fact, it was right on the route planned for continuing on over to Memphis.
We headed east on SR-270 looking for the connection to SR-70. Guess what, there is no highway sign that says you should take Westinghouse Road to the north to do the connection. That required doing another turnaround a mile down the road to come back after we realized we had missed our turnoff. Then there was no highway sign showing where to turn off SR-270 to get to Westinghouse. So I just cut across the four-lane highway and headed out the exit on the south side of the highway. We made it.
I had thought I had seen the narrow roads of Arkansas coming north to Hot Springs. Westminster proved to be even more narrow. Not only that, it was one of those roads with some 15% grades, both up and down, and as you came over the crest of a hill you did not know which way the road would go. Alice compared it to a roller coaster ride.
At last we reached SR-70. It didn't look like much, but it improved as we went east. Alice said the instructions were to turn off a mile past the rest stop. Of course, that depends upon which way you are going, but this time she was right. We found the brightly lit (if it had been night) entrance to the park, and then had to climb about 300 feet to get to the park. I understood now why it was called Cloud Nine.
We checked in for one night under Passport America. We wanted to see how the park was before committing to staying longer. We were assigned a "view" site, complete with a tree right in the way of my antenna farm. But I moved TV to the right and DirecWay to the left and got excellent signals on both dishes. It was 4pm when I finally had everything set up. I had driven 174 miles, counting the loops in Hot Springs looking for the Elks.
After looking over the maps for the area and considering the park where we were staying, we decided to spend another couple of nights in the Hot Springs area.
Monday morning I received a return phone call from Nicole at Radio/TV Interview Report, and I committed to doing four ads in their distribution. The first ad will be in the June 1 issue to coincide with Book Expo America in Chicago. Maybe I will start getting some response from the radio talk shows. My queries to four Little Rock stations went unanswered, even after I bugged them and offered to bring a book by their studios.
Later that morning we visited Hot Springs to find a good place to eat and shop. Along the way I received a call from Stephanie at Booksurge about my plans for going to a second edition of my book. She convinced me to go ahead and order the extra books I would need so I would be able to do the upgrade without charge.
While in Hot Springs I dropped off a copy of Memphis 7.9 at the Garland County Library with a proposed press release. It had formerly been the Tri-Lakes Regional Library, but John Wood, the Director, explained that funding had required a cutback. He signed off on the news release I had written and suggested I also give a copy to the Coronado Center Library in Hot Springs Village.
That evening I found that www.the79survivor.com was now listed on the domain name servers. I wrote to thank Deb for her efforts. I also began answering the questionnaire from RTIR. That took the rest of the evening.
On Tuesday we drove to Little Rock. We found that I-30 was undergoing major reconstruction and it did not look like a good route to follow when pulling a trailer. I presented a couple of books and a proposed press release to the Little Rock Central Library. Alison took the PR and said she would rewrite it as needed and send it to the papers. From there we drove back down to Hot Springs Village. We took several back roads to get there, and the excursion was very pleasant.
I talked with Dick Myers at the Coronado Center Library. He was happy to receive the book and said he would present the press release to their home owners board for review. Hopefully, all this planting of seeds will bear some fruit some time in the future. At least people may begin to recognize the name of the book.
We headed back to Hot Spring and I dropped the first press release off at the Sentinel-Record Newspaper office and left a review copy with John Lovette, the Entertainment editor. We decided to have dinner at a new restaurant just down the street. It was excellent with a nice bottle of Sterling Merlot, but it was a bit pricy. I just felt like celebrating something.
When we returned to the rig I sent email to
Stephanie summarizing our conversation of the day before. I also
stressed that my order for books was not to be done until I had
upgraded the files to the second edition. It turns out it is well
that I did, for the next day I received email to say that the
100 books had already been printed. She offered them to my at
75% off, but after due consideration I told her to destroy the
books. I already have enough to try to get rid of in the next
Log Date: +2182: 040324: 35N2.88': 90W1.74': 256': Graceland RV Park, Memphis, TN
Wednesday morning we rigged for traveling. I had rerouted our trip to Memphis through Pine Bluff. It would be about thirty miles further but would allow us to see more of the countryside of Arkansas and would avoid the construction on I-30.
I drove east on US-70 to I-30 and followed it to the Benton exit. We had to drive through town but that was still not so bad as doing the construction. Then we stopped. As it turned out there was some kind of problem with crossing the railroad tracks on the east side of town and the police sent us on a detour. There we found some REALLY narrow streets, but finally made it back onto SR-35 to head in a southerly direction.
Once we were out of town the terrain was hilly and wooded, except for the clear-cuts piled high with slash and debris. There were a few open fields of grazing land, but it was obvious that the primary industry in the area was wood products.
At Sheridan we turned east on US-270 until we came to I-530 outside of Pine Bluff. Since I had selected the shortest route, Streets 2004 decided we should leave the freeway and head directly east on West Barraque Street. At least there was an exit there. Once again we were on narrow streets with mailboxes almost hanging into the driving lane. In the middle of town we did a one-block hitch to move over to US-79B and continued east. At least the streets were not very crowded with other traffic.
We met US-79 proper and turned north just as we were starting to get into Pine Bluff proper and shortly afterwards we were headed out of the urban area. We had also left the hilly country and were in more flat, flood plain type of land. The reason for that became obvious when we crossed the Arkansas River. It was a wide river fully capable of handling large barges.
East of the Arkansas it really got flat. We continued to the northeast on US-79 through Humphrey and Stuttgart. We crossed the White River then entered Clarendon. There we turned north on SR-302, connected to SR-17, and finally joined I-40. Once we were back on the Interstate there were few distractions, so Alice read over my answers to the RTIR questionnaire and made some suggestions.
As we came to West Memphis Interstate-55 joined us from the north. I then followed I-55 across the Mississippi River and headed to the south to find Elvis Pressley Boulevard, aka US-51. Our destination campground was only about a mile south. As we drove along we started to recognize the landmarks we had seen from the other time we had stayed at this campground, only then it was a KOA.
We checked into the Graceland RV Park and met Mary and Jim Park, the managers. We payed for two weeks and were assigned a nice, secluded spot in the corner. I quickly had the antennas up with good strong signals.
After a short rest we went shopping for groceries and wine and took the opportunity to find the Holiday Inn Select hotel off Airways Blvd. That evening we rested in camp and met our neighbors.
Thursday I took six books over to the RV Park office and left them on consignment. Maybe someone would be interested. I then worked on printing business cards, book marks, a transfer to put on a tee shirt, and some photos of me for RTIR. I had sent email to Michael Kingsley that I was in town, and later that afternoon received a response inviting me to a "pre-Con" party at the hotel. After supper I drove over to meet the staff and get some idea of what the plan was for the weekend.
Friday morning I printed material for the meeting and then drove to the CUSEC (Central United States Earthquake Consortium) offices south of the airport. I met Jim Wilkinson, Executive Director, and we had a good talk. He relates to the problems my book talks about. I left him a couple of copies for his staff, and he provided me with a bunch of literature for distribution at the Con as well as some reference books. He also offered to provide technical contacts if I had questions. I hope my relationship with CUSEC can grow.
The visit at CUSEC took much longer than I had planned, so we drove back towards the hotel. We stopped at Catfish Cabin for lunch. It was after 1pm, but the parking lot was full. I finally found a place to squeeze the truck in and we went inside to wait our turn to have a seat. The restaurant is obviously a favorite with almost all the locals. We finally got our table. Alice had a catfish basket and I had the shrimp basket so we could share. The food was excellent, especially the hushpuppies. Of course, all the deep-fat fried stuff probably is not so good for our health, but we can do it once in a while.
We drove on over to the hotel, just three blocks away, and got into the registration line. They were having a hell of a time with the badge printer, but as a guest my badge was already pre-printed. Alice had to wait in line for an hour. In the meantime I brought some books in for placement in the Dealer Room.
At 5pm my first session began. I was on the panel for "Cassandraism: Does Anyone Listen." Lee Martindale (moderator), CJ Cherryh, and I had a lively discussion about whether or not science fiction still serves as an indication of the future. I sold a couple of books and then rushed over to my 6pm session on self-publishing. I met Jana Oliver but we did not set up a time for the interview. I did get some suggestions for books on editing.
Wolf was very happy when we returned to the rig for supper. I did an italian sauce for our ravioli and we rested. I did some work on what to include in my reading, scheduled for 5pm on Saturday.
Saturday morning we walked around the RV park and through the Graceland parking lot. After breakfast I started to compile materials for my reading while Alice washed the dishes. I signed a book for Tom across the street that he had purchased at the office. Then John Penrod from next door appeared and asked to purchase two books. So it was the start of a good day.
We made it to the hotel about 2pm and Alice and I took pictures of the various people at the conference. I was getting antsy, so I went early to the room where the author signings were to take place and found they were already underway. I found a spot right next to CJ Cherryh and set up camp. CJ had a long line of people bringing books in for her to sign. She has over sixty publications, so there was a large backlog. I did sell a couple of books. In between CJ and I had a chance to chit-chat about a few things. I found out she was from Oklahoma and went to OU a couple of years after I left.
At 5pm I went to the room assigned for my reading. The 4pm meeting was having trouble breaking up but I finally got started about 5:10. There were only four attendees, but I did have a chance to get through my reading and talk with some people. I also sold another book. We had a lively discussion about the lack of response in the region to the danger of the New Madrid.
Alice and I went back to the rig for supper and some rest then returned about 9:30 for the last of the art auction and the start of the masquerade show. There were jedi knights, celtic princesses, storm troopers, etc. It was very entertaining, but the sound system was a mess, so I did not hear half of what was being said. When the show ended the announcer called for an intermission and half the crowd left or congregated in the back of the ballroom.
Then the announcer said he would tell about the winners of the Darrell Award. That was what I had come for. Again it was hard to hear, and most people were not aware what was going on, but in the midst of it all I learned that I had received Honorable Mention for Memphis 7.9.
By then it was 11pm and we headed back home. Alice and I sat outside with a glass of wine and relaxed and reviewed what had happened. I must admit I felt some depression about not winning the top award, but at the same time I realized my book was not the best book in the competition, and it was a bit of an odd duck with too much realism, not enough fantasy, and an incomplete ending. But at least I has something I could point to as recognition for the work. I finally got to bed about 1am.
Sunday morning we again walked through the parking lots and then had breakfast. We drove to the hotel about 11am and walked around visiting with some of the friends we had made. Alice found some fancy earrings in the dealer room and a nice tee shirt for one of our kids (they will find out next Christmas). I collected my books on consignment in the dealer room from Roger and found that three had been sold. He said there was a lot of interest, but he felt the price was too high. Good input.
We looked for Jana Oliver to arrange for her interview of me, but had no luck. Alice sold a book to one of the attendees while sitting outside the refreshment suite and I sold another to Michael Kingsley at the last author signing session. We said our goodbyes and headed back to the rig. It was a time for rest and recuperation. It was also a time to catch up on the website and emails.
During the night a cold front came through and dumped about half an inch of rain. It also dropped the temperature by 20 degrees. Monday morning there was a cool north breeze as we walked the parking lots. Back in the rig we just took it easy and I worked on the travelogue and other catchup activities. I also did a little bit of editing and we went shopping at Costco.
Tuesday morning was again showers, cloudy, and cool. We went by the Post Office to pick up mail, but it had not arrived from Livingston. We went again Thursday and again Saturday (but they were closed). Finally on Monday we got our mail. Priority Mail is not normally that slow.
Wednesday was the last day of March and it went out with a whimper, cloudy and cool. Alice and I were just enjoying resting and catching up on things that needed doing. I spent much of the day working over the Memphis 7.9 files. I am changing to a Garamonde font and improving the rest of the physical material, using the wealth of information we have gathered from the self-publishing group. I also wrote up a proposed press release for giving books to the Memphis Library and left voice mail and email messages for visiting them the next day. It was time to get busy on the book tour.