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Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Land Between the Lakes

On my phone, I can only post one-picture blog entries.  Now that I'm where I can use my computer to do it, I can put the pictures with this one and post it.

My friend Norajean told me I should go to Land Between The Lakes on the KY/TN border, and since it was about 200 miles from Memphis, I did.
I stopped at the South Welcome Center on June 12th, and bought a basis/dispersed camping permit good for 3 days for $7.  There was no cell signal, so I went back to town for ice and enough internet to let my kids know where I was. It was a hot sunny day so when I got to the area I would camp in I was glad to find a shady spot by the lake shore. It was beautiful.

I set up my privacy tent and hung my hammock and sorted out some things that needed sorting out, and read some more of the series I've been reading.and started to hear thunder.

It was very distant and not in the direction the wind was coming from, so I didn't really think it would come to where I was. Just in case, I fixed dinner and that was done just in time.

It rained. Off and on all night and into Wednesday morning.

I was reminded of things I already knew but had failed to practice. Assume it WILL rain. Don't put the totes on the ground; they'll get muddy. Don't let stuff block the sliding side door of the van. Don't park on a place where all the water goes. Especially, check the weather report before you go to a campsite with no internet access.

I spent a lot of Wednesday drying stuff that shouldn't have gotten wet.

My original plan had been to camp at that southern camp one night, then explore and camp at one in the central part of LBL on Wednesday night, then explore again and camp at one of the northernmost camps Thursday night. I felt torn, because that first site was so beautiful and I wanted to stay. As it turned out, I couldn't actually drive out of there until Thursday anyway due to the rain and mud, so I spent 2 nights there.

On my way up the trace, I stopped to say hello to the bison herd at the southern bison range.

They had calves, and obligingly came to me so I could take pictures. Then they ran off, only to all come back and watch me do a K-turn with my trailer.

I checked out the exhibit and film and gift shop at the Golden Pond Visitor's Center, and filled up my water containers. Three was 4G Verizon signal there so I caught up with some internet stuff and a raccoon investigated my trailer hoping for goodies.

Then I moseyed down the road, got a shower (available at the campgrounds with more amenities and nightly fees, for $2), found the Twin Lakes campground and took a nice but unspectacular site on solid ground. With 4G Verizon signal. That last enabled me to connect with who I needed to to plan my next stop.

Besides lots of camping, hiking, boating, etc., there is a planetarium, a living history farm, a nature center, the bison and elk prairie... I'll leave those things for another time when I can get the annual pass and spend more time here.

Did you notice, in one of those last pictures, that the hood was up?

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Today's Yard, 7/3/18

Enjoying the cool of the morning on my friends' porch in Ohio. Coffee, internet, BuJo, until the sun clears the tree and chases me into the shade or into productivity. Birds are singing, solar panel's charging my house battery, flowers are in bloom, life is good.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Today's Yard, end of FONW

There goes the neighborhood.

It's a sad scene. This rendezvous is over til next year. Some return to the modern world quickly, dressing in modern clothes, packing up, and leaving early in the day. Some of us return reluctantly, slowly, sipping our coffee, and are still dressed in 18th century clothing even as we load the last items into our vehicles.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Today's Yard, Friends of Old Northwest rendezvous

Soon I'll be doing several posts, but computers haven't been invented yet. I'm in the 18th century at the Friends of Old Northwest rendezvous, at Grand Rapids, Ohio. We've had excellent weather, food, friends, music. I'm told the competitive events were good too.
And in Grand Rapids, I found the Natural Fiber and Yarn Company. They have yarn, roving, and an amazing variety of Alpaca socks. Hmmmm, comfy!

Friday, June 08, 2018

Repair of the Month Club Membership

I've been traveling with Maxine the Minivan for several years now. She's been a wonderfully reliable vehicle. She is, however, a 19-year old and has covered a lot of miles. And someone seems to have signed me up for the Repair of the Month club. I'd like to cancel my membership, thank you.

It started in March when a brake line blew out in Florida on my way to the Osceola NF. Of course, I was attempting to stop for a red light when that happened, and I'm truly grateful that the traffic going the other way hadn't started moving yet. I got stopped on the shoulder and a mobile mechanic came out and fixed the problem.

Then I heard power steering noises on my way into Lake City. Yes, the fluid was low. Added fluid and that took care of it. For then.

When I got to my SC daughter's, the high pressure steering hose blew and spewed fluid all over her father-in-law's driveway. Got that fixed.

In April, I was driving, on a Sunday, from Stevenson AL to Memphis TN. I had just got on the interstate, in pouring rain, when I heard an ugly crunchy noise and my wipers quit working. I couldn't see squat! I managed to get off at the next exit and parked at the conveniently located convenience store and drank coffee 'til the rain stopped. Then I went to my Memphis destination and Maxine got to visit another repair shop for a new wiper motor.

At the end of April (sometimes the ROTM Club shipments come early), on another rainy day, I suddenly had no defroster and yet another visibility problem. Cue installation of new blower motor. I had for about a year only had on and off for the blower, not the full range of speeds that I was supposed to have, so I was even kind of glad about this one. Have all the speeds now, and it's quieter too.

During May, it became apparent that coolant was getting out somehow. A new thermostat and new radiator cap did not fix the problem, so Maxine went into the shop yet again, for a radiator replacement.

And then the wipers suddenly have only high and low speeds, don't have intermittent, and don't park themselves. After investigating all the possibilities, the mechanics who installed my radiator determined that the wiper motor was at fault. So I'm headed back to Memphis to get that taken care of.

And at the first rest area in Arkansas, the transmission started slipping. I put 3 quarts of fluid in and went to a repair shop. It's always an adventure when you have to pick a shop in a place where you don't know anyone and you're on the road with your rolling home, but I checked Google Maps, and the reviews, and went to Jody's in Van Buren AR. Drop the trailer, put the van on the lift... Well, the bottom of Maxine is thoroughly lubricated by tranny fluid now. The radiator includes a transmission cooler (who knew?) and the hose connecting them was old and set in its ways and decided to blow tranny fluid Everywhere instead of where it belonged. Fixed now. I recommend this shop: they passed up a golden opportunity to fleece a lone woman traveler.

The offending hose is found.

So I think maybe Mercury went retrograde or something, as some of this stuff came with do-overs. (I also had to get my new glasses done over!) I'm hoping that once I've gotten the wiper motor thing straightened out in Memphis, that we can stop this series of repairs and go back to buying gasoline and doing regular maintenance.

Til next post, May there be a Road!

The Old Mill at Little Rock AR

You didn't really want to read about me sorting through storage or getting bit up by chiggers, right? This is more interesting.

I would never have found this on my own, because I avoid cities. But since my good friends NoNose and Miss Hattie live in Little Rock, Arkansas, I find myself in Little Rock to visit them. Nothing like having a local tour guide.

The Old Mill was in Gone With The Wind.

What looks like wood, in bridges and archways and what-not, is actually concrete.

The millstone inside, however, is real and authentic, brought here from an actual old mill.

Lots of wedding and graduation pictures happen here, because it's so pretty.

Find out more here.

Until next post, May there be a Road!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Spring OVPR

Update time.  Many years I'm still down south and miss the Spring OVPR, but this year it worked out. I left St. Augustine, stopped at SC daughter's, where I got a receiver welded onto the trailer for the bike rack, and the tongue reinforced. Then I dropped off a lot of Stuff at storage and went to OVPR in time for early setup. Good thing. It rained like heck there right after I set my camp up, but it snowed further west and north and some of my friends weren't able to attend due to not being able to get out of where they lived. Those of us who did go had a great time.

Friday, March 16, 2018

DuPuis Management Area

In January, before I went to the Alafia, I camped at DuPuis Management Area's family campground.  I posted when I got camp set up and promised more later.  Later has arrived.

The campground loop goes around a good-sized pond, and is quite pretty.  I met up with several friends from one of my Facebook groups there.  If I were camping alone, there's a neat campsite on a spit of land that juts into the pond that I would want to grab!  I understand there's also an alligator - well, of course there is, it's Florida - but I did not see one.
This was the first time I used my new Connect-tent with my 10 x 10 canopy.  It made a nice stand-up-in-it space.

ISO Bicycle

I've been wishing for a bicycle for a while, but the ones I liked tended to be in the way-out-of-budget category.  So about halfway through my time at the Osceola last month, on a Walmart run, I was interested to find a bike I liked at a price I could consider.  (comfort bike, low center stuff so I can actually get on and off, luggage rack, fenders, touring handlebars...)  However, I was driving Maxine the Minivan without the trailer, so buying it was out of the question.  I had no way to carry it.

Then 2 days later, on one of my walkabouts, I found a hitch-mount bike rack, discarded at the trash.  OK, then!  Mine!  I guess I'm supposed to get a bike.

Well, usually I'm towing the trailer.  Maxine, being a Dodge Grand Caravan, is rather low to the ground and has the kind of hitch that raises the ball up to where the tongue of the trailer ought to be - so putting the bike on one of those over under hitches is not an option.

Not a problem, though.  SC Daughter's father-in-law was reinforcing the tongue of the trailer this week and while he was at it, he welded a receiver onto the tongue so the bike rack can be mounted there or removed and carried behind Maxine when the trailer is parked.

Now, I need to decide exactly which bike to get...

St. Augustine for the Weekend

When I left the Osceola NF, I went to St. Augustine, where I'd never been, to visit with some friends I hadn't seen in a couple of years. They were great tour guides.

First thing on Saturday, we went to Flagler College, because the architecture is well worth seeing. This was originally the Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Henry Flagler in 1888.

Then we went to the fort, The Castillo de San Marcos, which is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay in St. Augustine. My Senior Pass got us inside the fort.

Sunday, after a walk in the woods (step goals exceeded), we went to the beach, out on the pier, and then to the Lighthouse. We didn't take the tour - have to save something for another visit.

Osceola National Forest

Since I usually try to post about where I've just left, rather than where I am, I kind of didn't post for a month because I stayed put for two weeks and it's a newly resurrected habit so I forgot.

Anyway - On my way to the Osceola National Forest, I had a bit of excitement. A light turned red, I hit the brake, and nothing happened. I leaned on my horn and hoped no one was going through the green light! One "house-call" by the mobile mechanic later, the offending brake line is repaired and once again Maxine stops when I tell her to.

On my way south, I stopped at Cobb Camp in the Osceola National Forest overnight, but this time I stayed two weeks, camped with old friends, met some new ones. I got to sleep in the hammock and enjoy the 10x10 canopy with the connect-tent. It was a lovely, relaxing time and furthermore the weather was great. OK, it did get cold toward the end, but that's ok. Didn't have to shovel it.

Trish and I walked every day and I usually hit my step goals.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Homosassa Springs

Thursday (February 15) Norajean and I decided to go to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. ( 

We parked her truck and rode the boat to the springs. (There is also a tram, but the boat tour is more fun to our way of thinking.) What they have here is a rehab facility for rescued wildlife and a home for wildlife that can't be released, such as eagles who have lost part of their wings.
I got to see my first MANATEES, and a couple of big cats, an otter, a (hopefully) breeding pair of red wolves, lots of alligators, snakes, lots and lots of birds.
Another neat thing was the underwater observatory, where you can watch through the windows as fish swim free in the waters of the spring.

Today's Yard, February 16, 2018 - Dade Battlefield SP

Dade Battlefield State Park. This tree is the oldest live oak in the park, and was here 200 years ago for the first battle of the 2nd Seminole War. 

I spent a few days here visiting an RVing friend who's a volunteer working at the park. In between a wonderful potluck dinner and yesterday's trip to Homosassa Springs, I did a major van rearrange and found a number of items that had slipped into the black hole that seems to be standard equipment in residential vans.
Of course, I also watched the film at the visitor's center and checked out the museum. This is a cool place - there's lots going on, from reenactments to craft classes. I wish it had worked out schedule-wise for me to take the pine needle basket weaving class, but they give it monthly and I'll probably be back.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


So my friends took me to Circle B Bar Reserve / Polk Nature Discovery Center. We walked the loop out to Lake Hancock and the observation deck, and saw lots of beautiful live oaks, birds, and alligators. Most of the alligators were lurking or swimming in the lake, looking amazingly like logs. This guy was up on a mound on the other side of the path though, posing for our camera phones.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Today's Yard, February 10, 2018

This week I'm staying with friends who live on the shore of a lake near Winter Haven in Florida. So it's the same yard each day - but different, too. From the dock, we can watch quite a variety of birds, and there are alligators around. I haven't seen one yet, but of course my friends have, and even named them. The other day we did get to watch the Space Shuttle launch.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Project: knock down stand

UPDATE:  The blue looks great on it.

Inspired by the knock-down flat-packing camp furniture my Alafia neighbors had, I designed a stand for my own camp kitchen. I love the fact that this stuff packs so compactly and goes together so easily.
I used to do some woodworking, in my pre-nomadic life, but tools are bulky, heavy, and don't travel well. But I have friends, and I'm visiting - and they have a wood shop.
Fortuitously, I had with me a couple of pieces of plywood, which had been the bed platform in my now-deceased E350 van.  That plywood was just the right size for the the shelves and two uprights. My friend Doc contributed woodworking tools, labor, and another piece of plywood for the back of the piece.
Doc has a random orbital sander, too. I'd never used one before, and it is so much nicer to use than the belt sanders and pad sanders I'm used to.
By afternoon we were done!
I'm going to paint it blue and enjoy it thoroughly.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Today's Yard, Jan. 12th, 2018

Last year I was in Oklahoma at Woolaroc, camping with buffalo. I'm camping with buffalo again, at Auburndale Florida! Powwow and flea market and buffalo for neighbors.

Today's Yard Jan. 11, 2018

Stopped overnight at Cobb camp in the Osceola National Forest, where I've camped with friends the last three years. Timing was wrong this year, so those folks were elsewhere this week. I miss them.

Today's Yard Jan. 11, 2018

I spent the night at Stagger Lee Music Park, where I used to be camp host. Got to visit with Lori and Sue and the adorable current camp cats. They've put in another row of hookups, built a bunk house and a laundromat and put a roof over the audience area at the stage since I was last there.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Today's Yard January 19, 1818

Got into my Tardis Wednesday and went back a couple of centuries and put up my camp in the cold wind. It has warmed up and the weather is predicted to be mostly excellent for rendezvous.
This is my new to me light camp, for when I'm toting too much other stuff to have room for my 10x12 wall tent. (The tipi has a new home while I want blogging, and my Travois van has died.) It's a 7x7 hunter tent.  Talk about down-sizing. I've only got the ukulele in camp with me, as the guitar literally won't fit! But it is bunking in with a friend across camp so I can still play it.
Chores are done, water and wood. Dinner is on the fire. I'm home.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Today's Yard 1/13/18

It was an adventure but camp is set up. I'll post more later. Lakefront campsite. New gear in use.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Today's Yard, 1/10/18

Heading South for the winter... Flying J, Columbia SC.  Somehow everything did not fit back in the van right. That's one of GYPSY' S RULES. Stuff removed from a rolling home gets harder to fit back in, proportionally to how long it's out. I had been at my daughter's since Thanksgiving. Hypothesis proven. Again.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

How will you remember 2017?

A friend asked "how will you remember 2017?" This was my answer: "By the love shared, friends made, folks visited, adventures had, serendipities enjoyed, stuff learned." 

I could remember it as the year I had shingles, or the year circumstances screwed me over in one way or another, but why? That's not what I want to keep, what I want to pay attention to, what sparks joy. What sparked joy in 2017? This is NOT a complete list.
In the winter, I camped with van friends and Rendezvous friends and visited housey friends, avoided the snows, learned what spray Floridians use to repel gnats.(NoNatz, if you care.)

As the world turned toward spring, I drifted northwest, visiting friends along the way, some I hadn't seen in 20 years. (Yes, I'm grateful for Facebook.) I went to two Renaissance fairs, 3 or 4 Rendezvous, visited friends, visited some Very cool museums, and added 4 states to my map. Serendipitously, had a visit to a friend whom I didn't know had moved near one of those museums.  

Summer came and my focus was on getting rid of Stuff, which included my big motorhome. It had been a wonderful home when I was working, but as I retired and it got older, it had become more of a stationary house and that wasn't working for me. I did flea markets and cleaning of storage and was Productive. I spent time at my VA daughters', and picked up yet another craft (kumihimo). I went to Ohio for a visit, visited Grandfather Mountain with my family, and was able to help my SC young'uns by kid and dog sitting while they traveled.  

Fall came, and in between some more camping in both centuries, I unloaded more items (big van, tipi) which no longer "grew corn", then migrated south to spend the holidays at my SC daughter's. Finally recovered from the enervation of shingles, I brought my jewelry making supplies and made stuff, and also made some travelers notebooks. And so, that was the year that was. 

2018, the year that will be - keep in mind, as I will: What you pay attention to, you get more of. Fill your days with love , help where you can, appreciate the good stuff. Happy New Year!