Travel Log for May, 2004
Month 3 of the Magical Book Tour

Updated June, 2004

Log Date: +2220: 040501: 35N57.98': 86W32.88': 603': I-24 Campground & RV Park, Smyrna, TN 37167

We began the month of May in Smyrna, Tennessee, only a few miles south of Nashville near I-24. The weather was overcast when we got up and walked around the park. We met some people who were in costume getting ready to go to a Renaissance Fair. They gave us a brochure and we considered going, but then we looked at the clouds and decided it was going to rain. So we just went back to the rig. I worked on PR and News items and then uploaded them to the website.

The weather held off, so we decided to go to the local Catfish House on Sam Ridgely Parkway for an early supper. I recommend the place highly, but you might want to avoid Saturday night. Everyone in the area goes there to eat. We did not have to wait too long, and when we got in we had a great meal of catfish, hush puppies, and cole slaw. We should not have, but we did -- we ate it all.

By the time we had finished it was raining catfish and dogfish outside, so I ran for the truck (where we had left the umbrellas) and opened it up so Alice could climb in without waiting. It continued to rain into the evening, so back at the rig we just took life easy and listened to music.

Sunday the clouds were spitting rain and it was a stormy day. We had planned to at least go to Murfreesboro for the outdoor jazz festival, but we decided against that. It finally cleared a bit in the afternoon and we talked with our neighbors, Mike and Irene Hograth. Mike is a former law enforcement officer from the San Diego area and we discussed the problems with controlling people in disaster situations. He gave me some pointers on meth addicts I could use in Broken River. He bought a copy of my book and started reading it.

We shopped at the Kroeger's on Sam Ridley Parkway and stocked up on our staples. I sent email to Booksurge increasing my initial order for the second printing of Memphis 7.9 to 250. I also escalated the issue of the credit card charge for the cancelled PO.

Sunday night the first part of the much-acclaimed mini-series "10.5" aired on NBC. I recorded it and worked on a comment sheet as it went along. By the end of the first ten minutes of what turned out to be two hours I was pretty disgusted with the way it misrepresented much of the science of seismology and geology. I started working on a review article.

Log Date: +2222: 040503: 35N25.62': 87W27.79': 851': Natchez Trace TTN Park, Hohenwald, TN 38483

During the night it rained but by morning that had turned to cloudy drizzle. I dumped the tanks as we prepared to move to the Thousand Trails Natchez Trace Wilderness Preserve. The 98 mile trip was fairly easy. We headed south on TN-102 to TN-840, a wide thoroughfare to the east. We connected with I-65 and headed south.

We were driving along through wooded hills with a few outcroppings of limestone. I am not sure just what we began to talk about, but Alice suddenly said we had missed our exit onto TN-412. So we continued eight miles further, crossing the Duck River until we came to TN-50 where we could turn back to the northwest to Columbia where we rejoined TN-412 and headed west.

The road became more and more narrow and winding until we reached the Natchez Trace. We turned south. It was nice to once again be on the smooth path of the early pioneers. Actually, the buffalo and deer were the first to use the trace. For over 9,000 years it was an animal trail going from the Mississippi River to the Cumberland near Nashville.

It was about 9 miles down the trace to Napier Road. I saw a wild turkey along the way. We turned off and drove to the side of the road under the bridge to be sure there was clearance (TTNers know what I mean) and entered the TTN Natchez Trace Park just up the road. After registering we journeyed to our usual spot at the end of the road. I picked a spot with a good look to the south so I could set up the satellites. DISH did fine, but I had trouble with DirecWay for a time, but then it suddenly came up on its own.

When I collected emails I found one from Deb that was very insistent that we upgrade our systems because of the new Sasser virus. I did that. I also recorded the last portion of "10.5" from the west coast feed since I did not want to mess up the evening.

On Tuesday I watched "10.5" finale. It did nothing to change my review, only to reinforce my conclusions that it rated an F. Afterwards, we drove into Hohenwald to pick up mail. StephanieB's edits of Broken River arrived along with the author copy of the second printing of Memphis 7.9. I checked it over and immediately called Booksurge to approve the printing. Returning to the park Alice and I drove over to wash our clothes and we took the opportunity to walk the legs off the dog.

Wednesday was a day for catching up on things. I scheduled the shipment of the 250 second printing books to arrive in Hutchinson, Kansas, at the same time we were to be there. I purchased a table top display at the World Future Society meeting in Memphis, and Alice completed the application for a block of ISBN numbers for TwoPenny Publications. I finished the review of "10.5" and sent it to nine radio and TV stations, including some national feeds. Then I started on the edits of Broken River using the inputs from StephanieB.

Thursday morning we walked around the camping area before breakfast, and afterwards I received an email reponse that my paper for the World Future Society meeting had not been accepted. I had expected that, but I was still disappointed.

Alice wanted to see Lawrenceburg, so we took off on a trip to the south. Coming into town we were looking for the health food store and saw a bookstore right next to it. I went in and met Gladys of the Sister's Bookstore. She was very interested in my book and took five copies on consignment. I agreed to deliver them and the paperwork on Saturday. Then we went to Wal-Mart and purchased a barbeque, vacuum, and groceries. We had lunch at the Dairy Queen, and I left a review copy of my book at the Lawrence County Advocate. On the way back to the TTN park I missed my turn so we got to see even more of the back country of Tennessee. Having the GPS along to tell you where you are makes it much less stressful. I knew how to find a road back to the park.

On Friday Cliff Dulcich came over to visit. He owns an Automate and was parked across the way. We had a great chat about TTN and Automates and full-timing. Later he came by to say he wanted to purchase a copy of my book, and he had convinced his next door neighbor, Art Zumwalt, to purchase one as well.

Saturday we walked our section of the park and then packed to go to the Pulaski Pig Squeal and Blue Grass and Barbeque Contest. We stopped by on the way through Lawrenceburg to drop off the consignment form and books. We also went by Wal-Mart to purchase a new iron so we could do some transfers onto tee-shirts. Then it was on to Pulaski.

This was a very small festival/contest. There were seven BBQ entries, and three to five entries for the different bluegrass competitions, but it was a lot of fun. We sat in the shade (had to follow it around from time to time) on the grass and listened to the music. A former national banjo picker champion was one of the performers, and he was awesome. I cannot find the brochure and don't remember his name, but his group did much of the entertaining. The competitions were interesting, especially when they involved some of the younger folks from the area competing in banjo, mandolin, and buck dancing. One of the most limber seven-year-olds I have ever seen won the buck-dancing competition. It is a mix of free-style clogging and tap-dancing. There was some limber-body soul moves put in by this young lady that were something only a child can do.

Sunday was Mother's Day, so I asked Alice what she wanted to do. She had no great desires, so we just stayed home. I worked on Broken River and finally organized the last chapters of the book. I did fix supper.

On Monday it rained some more. We drove back into Hohenwald and picked up our mail from Livingston. There was also a second author copy of Memphis 7.9 as well as my new Amex card. I received my new Elk's membership card and the review from Writer's Digest. They said Memphis 7.9 had too many characters, making it difficult to figure out who to care for.

I received the official letter notice of the rejection of my paper at the World Future Society meeting because it did not really fit into any of their categories for the conference, but there was an offer to submit the paper to the Futures Research Journal. So it was a minus and a plus.

On Tuesday Alice vacuumed the rig. I called The Bookshelf in McPherson to arrange a book signing. We agree on May 27th at 3pm. I am to write the PR for the newspaper. I sold 2 books to the Puldas, our new camping neighbors, and that evening I updated my AuthorsDen page and made more edits on Broken River.

Log Date: +2231: 040512: 35N2.91': 90W1.73': 248': Graceland RV Park, Memphis, TN 38117

Wednesday morning we awoke to broken clouds, but in general the weather looked good. The prediction was for possible thunderstorms to the north. We rigged for travel and pulled out before 10am.

I had changed our route to follow TN-412 over to I-40 rather than dropping south along the Mississippi border. That way we could stop by Costco on the way into town. I was very pleased to find TN-412 such a smooth and pleasant path. I-40 was also a good road in that section with few potholes and no construction (lack of construction on an Interstate during the summer makes one wonder what is wrong). We drove through one very heavy cloudburst and I slowed to near 30mph part of the time, but after five miles of rain it turned into sprinkles and traffic resumed its normal speed. At the Germantown exit we pulled off and drove across the freeway to Costco. It was good that I had driven that area before and knew where I was going.

We parked the truck and trailer out of the way in a remote parking lot and walked into the store. Our first thought was lunch, so we each had one of the (in)famous Costco Polish Dogs and Sodas, all for $1.50 per plus tax. Then we grabbed a basket and toured the warehouse. It had been quite some time since we had been in a Costco, so our larder was bare. We filled it, for a total of $250. I payed for most of it with the last of the cash card we had gotten for the broken laptop, and Alice made up the difference. We also went by the liquor store attached to the building and found the wine and scotch we needed amongst the alchoholic beverages.

By this time the rains had caught up with us. I ran out to the rig and drove it by the patio in front of the store so we could load up and then we headed back onto I-40 on our way to Graceland.

Departing I-40 just before the construction started we caught I-240 and drove south and west to our exit. From there we found our way back to Graceland RV Park. We had reservations for the next week, but the prices had risen markedly now that the "season" had started. Still it was a good deal and we were happy to settle in. I had driven 183 miles.

I set up the trailer in the drizzle. It was not too bad, but the moisture did get more and more insistent. Luckily the satellite systems came up quickly and we settled down to rest after the long drive. That evening there was a steady rain, though not too hard.

It rained and drizzled intermittently during the night. The next morning, Alice sorted the dirty clothes and I carried them over for washing. It rained harder during the day, but there were enough breaks that we could get the clothes back and forth without problem. I talked with Patty Penrod, a friend we had made in the Park that last time here, and made arrangements to use their phone line for the scheduled interview with Jana Oliver. I also emailed WYPL about the interview Johanna Edwards had said would be coming along, but never got a response.

Friday continued with rain, so we hung around the campground. I worked on Internet business, fixing up the accounts with the new credit card. We did go grocery shopping at Schnuck's and I started preparing and coordinating for the interview.

Friday at 7pm, the time for the phone interview, it was still rainy, so I drove the truck up beside the Penrod's pedestal to reach their phone jack. I contacted Jana by cellphone and then she called back on the Penrod's line. We had a good clear signal.

The interview lasted for an hour and a half. I was not expecting it to take that long, and my bodily functions were filled to capacity by the time we finished. Apart from that problem, it was an excellent time for me and I hope the interview comes across well on the air. Jana will be airing it over the Internet on her new Internet radio show, the Curious Mind. I will let people know when it is supposed to air when I know.

I was exhausted Friday night, so we just stayed in camp. Saturday morning I felt more rested. I sent off an email to Dr. Elnashai, Director of the Mid America Earthquake Center at the University of Illinois asking to meet with him in June, and then Alice and I headed off to the Memphis in May BBQ Festival down in Tom Lee Park.

Our first attempt to catch the Sun City shuttle failed when we were two minutes late . We waited an hour and tried again, this time being there on time. It took a while to get down to Beale Street, but we had a good time talking with others on the shuttle and watching the scenes of Memphis. You see a lot more when you are not the driver.

When we left the shuttle, our first stop was the A. Schwab store on Beale Street. I found Elliot Schwab and introduced him to Alice. We had a long talk. He had made some progress through my book, but still had more to read. He is almost worthy of a book by himself. His store is a classic in itself. There appears to be no way it could stand in even a mild shaker.

We walked west on Beale Street to Riverside. I bought a couple of $7 tickets and we entered Tom Lee Park, covered by canvas covered tents of the BBQ contestants. There were concrete walkways and a few very muddy grass and dirt paths along the fronts of the tents. We were looking for the Smokin' Spiders, the group that Sammy Crews of the Memphis EMA was working with. We walked almost the entire park and failed to find him. Then someone told us there was a spur section where the patio barbeque booths could be found. We found our way there (through some muddy paths and such) and finally found the group.

Once we were there it was a great time. The weather was cloudy so it was not hot. Sammy fed us some great ribs and I had a lot of fun talking with him. He had not made much progress reading my book, but said he would. I made an appointment to call him on Monday.

You really need to know someone who is in the BBQ competition to enjoy that festival. For one thing, you get free food and drink that way. For another, the real reason for the festival is for all the different groups to compete, and the competition is sometimes fierce, though always in good humor. The Spiders did not win, but we stood on the grass with them at the grandstand cheering them on.

After the presentations we walked back to Beale Street and located the shuttle to the Heart Break Hotel. We returned home tired and had no supper, just some snacks.

Sunday morning I found an email from Amr Elnashai, Director of MAE. He wanted to arrange a meeting for when I go through Urbana. After breakfast I planned a trip to Helena, coming back by Tunica to check out the casinos. I wanted to see the lay of the land on the west side of the river and take a look at the Helena bridge over the Mississippi.

We left at 9am and headed west on I-55 to I-40 then turned south on AR-147. I followed that to AR-50 to connect to US-79. We saw a multitude of rice paddies and catfish ponds along the way. It is very flat lands with occasional places where you can see traces of the old river channels. We crossed the multiple channels of the St. Francis River just before we reached Marianna, AR. We followed AR-1 south out of town to reach AR-44, soon running out of pavement and entering the St. Francis National Forest on the Crowley Ridge Parkway. I didn't realize we had just traveled back in time.

We followed the winding gravel road through the hills that we eventually found was the southern portion of the Crowley Ridge. Later I learned that this is the remains of some of the ancient alluvium from the Mississippi River. The ridge runs from the northern boundary of Arkansas south under Jonesboro and on down to near Helena. It separates the St. Francis River basin from the White River basin. In some locations the ridge is several hundred feet above the surrounding flood plains, with precipices and landslides where it is sloughing off to the flatlands on either side. In other places it only amounts to a ten or twenty foot elevation increase over the surrounding fields, but that is enough to keep it above any major floods.

There are a number of theories about the formation of the ridge, ranging from it being the remains of the alluvium that has not yet washed away, to being a pressure ridge from the New Madrid Fault, to being loess deposits from the glacial sand dunes. I am not sure myself what to believe, but we did see some very interesting landscape.

We were traveling through one of the higher portions of Crowley Ridge, averaging over 400 feet in elevation. AR-44 ended at Bear Creek Lake dam, and we turned left onto graveled "one and a half lane" county roads, following CR-239 for 7.32 miles, CR-221 for 0.79 miles, CR-217 for 3.57 miles, CR-215 for 7.02 miles, and CR-239 (aka Big Spring Rd) for 0.44 miles. We finally reached Sterling Road which took us into Helena. Along the way we saw fox, deer, turkeys, cane, and lots of trees and vines. It was a marvelous trip and we enjoyed being away from today's world.

We toured downtown Helena, driving amonst the old brick buildings, some of which still remain standing. Some are already fallen, and every one of them will fall if there is any kind of mild earthquake. Only the new jail might remain standing in a major earthquake. The rusty grain elevators may still be in use -- I could not tell -- but most of them looked ready to fall as well.

We found the road back out to US-79 to cross the Mississippi River. I took a sideroad to drive down by the base of the bridge on the Arkansas side to check out its structure from the underside. I had the answer to my question about traffic after an earthquake. The major trusses and supports of the bridge looked good over the river and should remain standing, but the connectors would have more of a problem. In fact, some of the old bridges where US-79 crosses the remains of the bayous to the east in Mississippi looked ready to come down on their own.

On the east side of the river we drove to the Isle of Capri Casino for buffet. It was good, $10.75 each w/tip&tax. We played the slots then headed out.

Our next stop was supposed to be the Tunica casinos, just south of Memphis. I guessed on the Streets map where they would be and plugged in a stop. It plotted a route for me up the east side of the river. After leaving the Isle of Capri, we almost missed our first turn onto Jeffries Road over to Old Highway 61. I did a U-turn and then followed the prescribed route north until we almost entered the town of Tunica. At that point the route turned west on Josephine Road, then north on Forestdale road and west on Bailey road. We suddenly found ourselves atop the Mississippi River levee. and shortly found I had picked out Uncle Charlie Wilderness Park, or something with a name like that. Not a casino was in sight.

I realized I hadn't a clue as to where the casinos were, except they were not where I expected. Not wanting to continue on the levee, we headed back to the new US-61, a four lane road that went north to Memphis. Ten miles up the road at Robinsonville we saw the signs to the casinos. I don't understand why they are called the Tunica casinos.

We turned west onto Casino Resort Strip Blvd and drove the several miles west to Harrah's. We decided to go to Sam's Town Casino next door because it had covered parking and Wolf would be better protected from the heat. We lost enough money to satisfy our masochistic tendencies and headed back towards Memphis, driving by Fitzgerald's and the Gold Strike casinos to just take a look. I was amazed to see a 30-story hotel tower on the river side of the levee. Any kind of liquefaction will topple it across the parking lot or the casino, all 300 plus feet of it. After that view we headed back into Memphis and to our rig parked at Graceland.

Late in our drive we had noticed some pop-up thunderstorms forming to the east, but it was sunny when we got home. Within thirty minutes the thunderstorms blew in from the southeast and it rained for an hour before clearing. We had made it back just in time.

The next day, Monday, I received a response from MAE and arranged our meeting on June 9. I drove to the Memphis post office and picked up mail and mailed the press packages to McPherson. I called to make an appointment to meet with Sammy and Joe at EMA at 3pm. I also talked with Fredric Koeppel, book editor of the Commercial Appeal. He had my book and expressed an interest in talking more in October. I said I would drop off some news material for him.

Later in the afternoon I drove to the EMA offices on Flicker for discussions with Joe Lowry and Sammy Crews about recovery plans for a great earthquake. Joe was also meeting with some seismology students from England. I gave each of them books. We agreed that I will work with Joe and Sammy on a recovery scenario that might have applicability in my third book.

Returning to the rig I met with John Penrod and his friend, Michael Huggins, to talk about earthquake planning in Memphis. Michael had worked in the city government and knew Buchanan, the former EMA director. It was good to talk with someone who had experience with what is happening in the city.

On Tuesday we cut hair, took the truck to WalMart in Southhaven, MS, for a lube and oil change, had lunch at O'Charlies, and then drove to the Pink Palace Museum. They have a great natural history section as well as many other exhibits about the history of Memphis. We spent two hours touring the place, enough to wear out our feet.

I drove further down Central to the CERI location. I checked out the Public Earthquake Research Center (PERC) which is a new facility sponsored by MAE. It provides some interesting exhibits to help the public understand how earthquakes happen and will affect them. I had a chance to check things with Gary Patterson. He gave me the name of John Pasmore in Jonesboro as a contact. Then we headed back home, stopping by Wild Oats to purchase some nuts and groceries.

Log Date: +2238: 040519: 35N48.31': 90W41.02': 326': Perkins RV Park, Jonesboro, AR 72404

Wednesday was a travel day, but it was a short trip. Alice washed clothes while I caulked the trailer roof. I picked up the five remaining books in the office. There had been one sale.

The drive to Jonesboro was easy and uneventful. I traveled north on I-55 to US-63. After crossing the St. Francis River flood channel just after Marked Tree the road turned northward. Much of it was easy four lane road. We took the Caraway Road exit and crossed the freeway to Philips Road. Just down the way was the sign to the Perkins RV Park. We pulled in and there was a private residence on the left and a sign pointing somewhere to the office. I drove on through the park looking for the office. I finally completed the loop and came back out to re-enter. An elderly gentleman named Wayman Perkins was sitting under the tree and he said the private residence was the office. But he was the owner so he wrote my name down in his little notebook, took my $40 for two nights, and took me in his golf cart to look for a spot to park. We agreed on a nice shaded spot in the back with a southern exposure.

Alice and I set up the rig pretty quickly and rested. The temperature had climbed into the 90s and the humidity was pretty bad. I sent email to John Pasmore suggesting a meeting and we had a small lunch. Then we drove to the Books-a-Million store to ask about consignments. Will presented me with some forms to submit my book to their distributer. That evening we watched TV as the Sacramento Kings lost the final game of their series with Minnesota.

Thursday morning I had an email response from John Pasmore; he suggested meeting at the BAM coffee shop. We had a very good talk about our respective attempts at educating the public on the dangers of the New Madrid. He gave me a copy of his documentary "Ticking Timebomb" on VHS and I gave him a copy of Memphis 7.9. He is a free-lance TV producer.

After leaving John I dropped by the Hastings Bookstore and talked to Heather Honnoll, the book manager. She said she wanted ten copies on consignment and provided me with their consignment form. She also said they would like to do a signing when I came back through in October. I went home to write a press release and prepare the books. I came back with Alice. We had lunch at the El Acalpuco recommended by Heather. It was pretty good, but the relleno made my scalp crawl.

After dropping off the books I took a copy of the book and the PR to the offices of the Jonesboro Sun and talked with Kellie Bardis. She said she would be interested in doing a story and interview centered around the book signing in October. So I guess I am committed to being in Jonesboro next October.

From there we drove to Paragould and found the Dairy Queen for a couple of Blizzards. By that time there was not enough time for a trip to Blytheville, so I drove south towards Lake and then back to the rig.

That evening I worked over our route for the next day and decided to go only as far as Piney Bay where we had stayed before. While checking the status of things on the Internet I found that Booksurge had shipped the books by FedEx to the UPS offices in Hutchinson. I sent email expressing my concern and asking for assurances I would get all my books next week as requested. I then started on a list of problems I have had with Booksurge. Sometimes I wondered if I should just cut and run to find some other printer.

Log Date: +2240: 040521: 35N23.85': 93W18.00': 402': Piney Bay COE Campground, London, AR 72847

Friday morning we packed up and headed for Piney Bay. We headed out of town on US-49 where we got caught in a construction zone behind a truck hauling an uncovered load of cement, the powdered kind. After five miles at 25mph he turned onto a side road and we continued. At Waldenburg we turned right onto AR-14, a somewhat narrower but good road. We finally reached US-67, a road of almost Interstate quality. We drove alongside the White River flood plain, partially flooded, through Searcy and beyond.

At Beebe US-64 split off and turned west. We followed that road. It wound a bit more than the previous roads, sometimes for no apparent reason. Maybe it is just an older road. We finally came into Conway where we caught I-40 in the middle of a construction zone. Once we had cleared the construction things moved along smoothly.

Along the way the cellphone rang; it was shipping at Booksurge. They assured us that the shipment by FedEx to the UPS office was okay and that there were four boxes of books in the shipment.

At Russellville we crossed an arm of Lake Dardanelle on the Arkansas River and three miles further turned off of I-40 onto old US-64 to get to the intersection called Piney. There we turned north on AR-359 to drive the four miles to the Piney Bay COE campground. Veryl checked us in, giving us a choice of four spots. She said there were lots of people coming who had reservations. We found a great spot where I could spot the satellites through the trees and we set up. The trip had been 191 miles.

The temperature was in the 90s. The humidity was in the 70s. It was hot, so we turned on the air conditioner and rested. Later in the day the results for the IPPY awards were posted on the Internet. I did not place. Later in the evening I started bringing the website up to date.

Saturday morning the humidity had dropped and it was fairly reasonable. Of course, the temperature would rise during the day, but we still have the air conditioner to bring into play. I finished bringing the website up to date and after checking posted it.

I took the opportunity to read the history of the Memphis Army Corps of Engineers from the book given to me by Bob Andersen at the COE offices in Memphis. It told a lot more about the continuing fight between the Corps and the river over the years, and the push and pull about where the responsibility lay in the creation and maintenance of the levee system. There are some very good pictures of the early days of the river in the book. I decided I needed to do a better job of synching my work on Broken River with the history of the COE, even if it means a delay in getting the next book out.

Saturday night our DISH PVR 501 had a problem and an error screen appeared. Actually it had happened earlier in the day but I had jumped over it before I realized. It said our disk was having serious problems. I called DISH and got hold of a tech who said for the error we were seeing it was a matter of returning the receiver and getting a new one. Since we had purchased our receiver almost three years ago and were out of warranty, she offered us a chance to purchase a warranty for $5.95 per month and then they would trade out our receiver for free. Apparently there would be no requirement to continue the warranty plan for any longer than required. She said I could also find a Radio Shack or other dealer and handle it through them. I was tired and sleepy at the time so said I would think about it and call back.

Log Date: +2242: 040523: 35N24.22': 97W15.80': 1,269': KOA Campground, Choctaw, OK 73020

Sunday morning we were up fairly early to prepare for the day's trip to Oklahoma City. The weather was partly cloudy and reasonable. We climbed the long hill out of the Piney Bay campground before 9am, pretty good for us. Once we reached the top of the grade the truck could shift into second gear and we really got started on the trip. We rejoined US-64 at Piney and then ran parallel to I-40 for about seven miles before there was an entrance onto the Interstate.

The drive west was relatively smooth. There were not too many construction zones, and they went well. We made it into Oklahoma in good time. Sure enough, my strategy of not purchasing any more deisel in Arkansas was correct. The prices dropped about 15 cents after we crossed the border. I saw a sign of $1.619 at an independent and pulled in to fill up.

Since we were stopped and had a good phone signal I decided to call DISH back up and accept their offer. But the tech I got this time said they had to run some tests and I had to have the DISH connected to do that, so that project was deferred for a later time.

We continued straight west. Alice was getting hungry so when we saw a sign for a Red Lobster in Shawnee we decided to stop. It was a nice restaurant but the fish and chips did not measure up to my standard. Afterwards we continued the few miles remaining and pulled into the KOA on Choctoaw Road about 2:30pm. The drive had been 244 miles.

Setup was a challenge because of the placement of the trees and the heat, but I took off my shirt and persisted, finally getting good signals on both satellites.

We had a message from my cousin Roseann when we arrived, and I had called to leave her a message that we were in. Shortly after I had the electronics working she drove up.

We had a long talk the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. Her house had been destroyed during the tornado a year ago, and it was apparent she was still in something of a state of shock from the event. She has found a place for herself and her cats not too far away and has another place where she can keep her mare. The place she has moved into is much smaller than the house she had. She says she has still not gone through all she rescued from the old house and much of it is still in her yard under tarps. She has lost her latest job and is looking for another one.

Roseann says she did rescue most of her writing files, but she has not yet tried to read them. When I asked if she had tried to do any more writing, she said she was too busy taking care of day to day problems.

I was somewhat at a loss of what to tell her. She is struggling with what the hand of fate had handed her. I could sense a will to survive underneath it all, but she is having problems keeping her life together and organized. I offered to help her publish her works through TwoPenny Publications if she will send them to me, but she first has to "finish" them. It is a matter of her letting go and making a decision.

We took her to supper at what used to be Crockett's, a place where she worked in the past. They still proudly display a metal statue of a horse she made in years past. After returning to our rig, we said our good-nights and she left. I felt so depressed, but I cannot live her life. Somehow she has to find her way out. Maybe she will send me her material and I can help. I hope so.

Sunday morning our cupboard was bare. We were out of the staples with which to make breakfast (coffee), so we went driving, finally finding the country-club restaurant advertised in the KOA brochure. We had a very good breakfast, but the ambiance was "pro-shop" with cleats and utilitarian furniture. Now I remember why I don't like to go to a healthy-activity place for food.

Returning to the rig we picked up the dog and headed for Chickasha to visit with Aunt Lottie. When we pulled up she was waiting for us outside on her driveway. Apart from being an inch shorter and having more trouble walking than last time, she is as feisty and bright as ever. Wolf came in with us and he and Penny, Lottie's dog, renewed their acquaintenances from a year ago. We had a lively discussion and I gave her a copy of Memphis 7.9.

We went to lunch at the Western Sizzler, her favorite place, and she enjoyed herself. She paid for the meal and then we drove downtown to find the library and newspaper. The Chickasha Public Library is at the same location as the old Carnegie Library, but it surely looks different. I remember a solid old building with trees surrounding it. Now it is a flat utiliarian building with no trees on the entire block. But the people inside were nice, and I left a book at the desk.

Next we drove to the office of the Chickasha Express-Star. When I was a kid it was the Chickasha Daily Express and the Chickasha Star, so they must have merged. I left a book for the managing editor and told the lady that I used to be a local. We talked about some of the changes in the area. I don't know if there will be any publicity, but I should send something in to try to get it published and announce the book in the library.

We returned Lottie to her home on 11th, the same one she and Uncle Howard moved into over sixty years ago. She lives alone, but David, her son-in-law, lives next door and helps her. Lottie worries some about having to go into a rest home, but she is doing wonders as a 95 year old lady taking care of herself. She is still my favorite aunt.

We said our goodbyes and headed back towards Oklahoma City. There were a few puffy clouds in the sky and the drive went smoothly.

Back at the rig I sat down and checked for email and made a few notes while Alice started washing the clothes. Then I looked out the window, and the western sky had turned dark gray in the west. I checked the weather maps and where we had been had suddenly blossomed with some awesome thunderheads.

We spent the next few hours watching the storms grow out west of OKC. Local TV showed some great shots of tornados forming and disappearing, nothing big, but it was live. I remembered how fifty-two years ago while dad was driving like hell through eastern Colorado I took black and white film pictures of tornados doing the same thing. When the family returned from our vacation I had the film developed and sent a set of pictures to the (then) newly formed Weather Department Tornado Center in Kansas City. A man drove all the way down to talk with us.

Those pictures were the very first photographs of the formation of a tornado the weather department had. At age sixteen I was called a scientific hero. Today, the whole world can watch it live on TV.

The storms had started to split apart and die by the time I went to bed. Alice was worried and stayed up to watch TV. Maybe being able to see things live has its downfalls.

Log Date: +2244: 040525: 38N22.47': 97W38.24': 1,511': Mustang RV Park, McPherson, KS 67460

It was cloudy when we woke the next morning, maybe a little cooler because the storms had moved on. Before we left I check the Internet and found that my books had arrived in Hutchinson. I just hoped they did not throw them away before we got there.

I dumped the tanks on the way out of the KOA and then we were back on I-40. We transitioned to I-35 and continued north. For some reason Alice and I got off to a bad start for the day and the trip was mostly made in silence. I guess I was up-tight and said a few things I should not have. Even after 47 years things can still go awry.

Near Wichita we switched to I-135. There was construction around Newton but it cleared up just as we reached McPherson. Driving from memory I came into the Mustang RV Park from the back side and was pointed the wrong direction when we stopped to register. We signed up for four days and then I tried to back up to our camping spot. I got so frustrated I finally went out to the street and turned around to approach it normally. After a few tense moments I backed in and we were settled.

Alice called her sister Margaret and found she was already at home. She explained we were heading for Hutchinson to pick up the books before the place closed, and off we went. I was a bit confused on where to go and that added to the tension, but I finally found the UPS depot. When I went inside and asked the manager about my shipment, he initially was mystified. When I described it, he said "Yes" FedEx had delivered some packages and they were out back in the garage. I backed up to the door and we loaded them. When I asked where I should sign for them, he said nowhere since UPS was not delivering them. I was really glad I had gotten there in time. I gave him a book for helping the way he did.

I opened the small box of books, and the first five I pulled out had smudges from the printing. I was furious, but calmed down after I checked the other books. It was not as bad as it had appeared in the beginning. Returning to the rig I set up the TV and Internet and then we went to supper at Margaret and Ralph's.

On Wednesday I went to the local hospital to get the VAP test (measures cholestral fractions) prescribed by Dr. Wood. Then we went to shop for groceries. That evening we went to the Chuckwagon Show with Margaret and Ralph. We watched an old Roy Rogers movie, had popcorn, and then had a chuckwagon dinner of barbeque beef and beans and listened to live western music.

Back to the problems with our DISH PVR. It appeared the disk had crashed, but to finally check it out required being attached while talking with someone from DISH who could authorize ordering another. I opted for the warranty program at $5.99 per month so it cost nothing to get the replacement. I ordered that it be delivered to Tinley Park.

We picked up our mail from Escapees. In the package was a check from California for some unclaimed dividends from Baker Hughes I had owned back in 1990. Son David had found a reference on the Internet about them, and we had filed a claim almost a year ago. It was like manna from heaven.

I inventoried the old and new copies of Memphis 7.9. I had received 256 second edition copies from Booksurge and had 52 first editions left. I packaged those up for storage in Ralph's garage. Maybe some day they will be worth something.

My book signing at the Bookshelf was scheduled for 3 p.m. on Thursday. We arrived a little early and helped set things up. Margaret had cut out the news item from the local paper, so we did have some coverage, but that did not help. Only one person stopped to ask a question about earthquakes. I left five copies on consignment with Linda.

That evening I recieved an email from WBZ in Boston asking for information, most probably as a result of my ad in RTIR.

Friday morning I did an interview at KBBE-FM, the local McPherson station. It was taped and was my first real experience at a short interview. It was fun. I dropped by the post office to mail copies of my book to Dr. Elnashai, WBZ, and Michael Kingsley (I added him to the acknowledgements). That afternoon I received a call from WEKZ in Monroe, Wisconson for interview. It was scheduled for 7:35 Tuesday morning.

Friday afternoon I put together a PR package and put it on the website. I also emailed the PR to most of my friends and some of the yahoo groups. Then we went to Margaret and Ralph's for supper and our goodbyes.

Log Date: +2248: 040529: 39N39.24': 94W12.74': 1,024': Wallace State Park, Cameron, MO 64429

As we prepared to leave for Saturdays's trip the weather channel said things might get nasty later in the day. It was partly cloudy to begin with. We headed straight east from McPherson and everything went well until we reached the west edge of Emporia. I needed fuel so I went past the sign telling us how to get to I-35 and not get onto the toll-road to Kansas City. After filling the tank I turned back, but now the signs said something different. The net result was I drove up to the toll booth and told the lady I was going the wrong way. She smiled (it must happen fairly often) and gave me a ticket that allowed me to do a U-turn and immediately exit at no charge. Finally we were on our way.

We had thought of staying near Kansas City then stopping in Hannibal the next night, but Alice found a nice-sounding campground just off I-35 near Cameron. So we continued for a total of 240 miles to reach the Wallace State Park. It was Saturday before Memorial Day and I just hoped we could find some place to boondock. We lucked out and the camp host directed us to a spot reserved for Monday where we could stay.

The clouds had been building as we set up camp, but it still looked okay. When I got the weather channel up it showed there were some popcorn storms to our west out in Kansas, but it did not look too bad. We had a light supper and the clouds got darker and we started hearing the rumble of thunder. We got on the Internet and watched closely. There was a huge supercell growing in the next county with a hook echo and it was not clear where it was going to go. Alice really wanted to go to the bathhouse, so finally I agreed. It had started to sprinkle.

We sat around outside and I watched the clouds swirl above us. It was quite a sight. We were in a tornado warning area and we could hear the sirens in Cameron. I went back to check the TV once in a while and could see the radar map of the storm. It covered the entirity of Clinton County.

It did rain fairly hard for a while in our area, but the real action was to our west. The reports were that the tornado was a mile wide and it closed US-36 for some time. Fifteen miles north three people were killed by the twister.

Finally everyone decided the worst was over and everyone returned to their rigs. During the night it rained very hard but the weather was not tornadic.

Sunday turned out to be a nice day. After watching the weather channel who said the storms we had just had would move only 200 miles to the east (about where we expected to spend the night), we decided to stay where we were. Later we went into town to find a WalMart and Dairy Queen.

Sunday evening we listened to the Curious Mind interview on Internet radio. It was a fairly good interview, but I was really tight at the beginning. I just hope my daughter got a recording of it. Then it was to bed to rest up for the long trip the next day.

Log Date: +2244: 040531: 41N33.51': 87W48.72': ???': Windy City Campground, Tinley Park, IL 60477

Monday's trip was 445 miles. We were up early and rigged for travel. We continued six miles north on I-35 to catch US-36 east. That highway turned out to mostly be a four lane divided highway all the way into Hannibal. On the other side of the Mississippi we caught I-72 and continued east to Springfield, Illinois. Once we transferred to I-55 we stopped for lunch.

Though it was Memorial Day the traffic was not at all bad. Maybe everyone was busy at the races and such.

The weather was partly cloudy, and there were some occasional showers but nothing serious. After what was beginning to seem like ages we turned east on I-80. We were in more and more suburban zones mingled with fields of newly sprouted wheat and corn. Finally we came to our exit off I-80. We went half a mile south and then turned east again to 80th Avenue. Just before the I-80 overpass we came to the entrance to the Windy City Campground.

We checked in for a week and were assigned our spot. It was an easy backin with lots of grass all around. I set up as it sprinkled more and more and then we settled down. It rained during the rest of the night.

[Book Tour] or [April 2004] or [June 2004]