Rolling Again

After a week on the road, we’ve gotten back into our camping groove. The first few days are always weird, as we can’t remember where things have been stashed, and there’s always a (hopefully short) list of stuff that we know we’ve forgotten. Nothing major – just some  annoying stuff.

Our first stop, Christmas Day, was in Evansville IN at the gracious home of John’s brother Don. We laughingly refer to this stop as The Spa – the thickest, cushiest towels and the shoftest sheets that have ever caressed a road-weary body. Plus, we even have our own little parking pad for the Fireball.It’s always fun to visit. Evansville was ridiculously warm – about 70 on the day after Christmas. They are still mowing their lawn here – in December! It was a far cry from snowy Grand Rapids.The next few days were a blur of long days in gray, nasty weather. Post-Evansville, our first stop was at Dub Patton Campground, a COE (Corps of Engineers) campground in Lake Arkabutla, MS. The COE parks are great. Well-maintained sites with water/electric service at bargain prices with our America the Beautiful Senior Access Pass. This pass is the best (actually, the only) good part about being old. The COE parks are built around public waterways, mostly dams, in many states. They are one of our first choices of campsites, especially off-season. Lake Arkabutla is a huge recreation area, with several campgrounds. We stayed on the east side of the lake in 2013 , so we chose an unfamiliar campground on the lake’s west side this year. We pulled in late afternoon, and had enough time for a stroll across the nearly two-mile long dam before darkness settled in.As was the case for the next several nights, we had the campground nearly to ourselves. We had a quiet night, and left this quiet site the next morning.Scooting across the border into Arkansas, we settled into Cane Creek State Park for two nights, again finding a nearly deserted, immaculate campground.This park is a gem – the small campground had huge, well-spaced campsites and a great bathroom/shower. We went on an 8 mile hike the following day – nothing special, but it was great to spend time outside and stretch our legs a bit.

Continuing on what seems to be a lakefront camping theme, we wandered into another COE campground at Millwood Lake, Arkansas for two nights, including New Year’s Eve. If I live to be a hundred, I’ll probably never experience a New Year as quiet as this one. Only one other campsite was occupied in this small campground (of course, by a couple from Michigan). A few vehicles crossed the dam near the campground, and we heard gunshots from nearby duckhunters in the early morning and evening, but other than that, it was deathly quiet. Kind of odd, actually.

But, if you want to have a big barbecue, this would be the place to come! Check out the grill in the day use area here – these folks don’t mess around. John was dying to go get a big pork butt and smoke it.Millwood Lake is about 20 miles from Hope AR, which is the boyhood home of Bill Clinton. So, we wandered into town to see what that’s all about. There’s a Visitor Center there, and the restored home where Clinton lived for the first four years of his life. He graduated from Hope High School, but moved to another home across town after that. There wasn’t much to see, but we are always eager for a history lesson….So, we’re now near Dallas for a few days. For the first time in a week, we’ve got blue skies and sunshine!

Happy New Year!

23 thoughts on “Rolling Again

  1. Loved your post. We have yet to stay at any COE parks and I need to keep those in mind for our next adventure. We just rolled in last evening from our longest camping trip to date–doesn’t even compare with you guys but a good learning experience for us. Stayed in a bunch of FL state parks and one commercial place, plus our first-ever Walmart overnight.

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    • Hope you enjoyed camping long-term. Pretty easy, once you get into a routine, isn’t it?

      The COE parks are the bomb. We don’t have any in MI though. We have yet to stay at one that wasn’t nice.

      I told John to just shoot me if we were ever going to stay at a Walmart. Or, maybe I’ll shoot hm. Not gonna happen, ever, I hope. ;-)

      Isn’t it always a bit of a letdown to come home after extended camping? I find myself befuddled by all the space in our small house.

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  2. Wow, if that table full of snow is your place in Michigan, I see why you head south this time of year. We too are headed south, but to Florida instead. We intend on putting the walking stick to good use in the Sunshine State and promise to go easy on the electric motors in such a flat state. We should be in Manatee Springs SP tomorrow afternoon. Keep the interesting and informative stories coming!

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    • Yep, that was snow on the table. Pretty to look at, but we were running out of space to pile the stuff.

      Glad you and Sheila are hitting the road, and getting a taste of long-run camping. Don’t forget to take your fire pokey stick – an important piece for a complete camping experience. Hope you find some great camping spots we can use for reference – sooner or later, we will get to Florida, I’m sure.

      Happy New Year.

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  3. America the Beautiful Campground Pass…..is that a COE pass or is it the same as the National Parks pass? I’m obviously new to this whole geezer pass thing! Again always fun to follow your travels and hear your reviews of the areas we someday hope to visit! Safe travels from John and Sandi~

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    • The National Park pass for seniors is the America the Beautiful pass (commonly known as the Geezer pass.) This pass also works to get you a 50% discount at the COE parks, or any National Forest or Recreation Area camping. You just have to be 62 to get one. You can do that in person at any National Park (perhaps at National Monuments, too but I’m not sure). You pay $10 once, and it’s good forever. You can order by mail for $20. https://store.usgs.gov/pass/index.html

      Hope this means that you are finally getting old, Sandi. But who would believe it?

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      • Thanks for the clarification, we just haven’t had that much time yet to camp at all the wonderful camping available! I’ve had the senior pass for a whole year now! Got it last year at our local National Seashore Park! But thanks for the compliment Judy!

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      • Yep, I’m on it! Also organizing a rally for our Airstream group, so it’s been busy, but now that the Holidays are a near-distant memory, I’ll have time to get it going! We’re going to have an amazing group, there has been lots of interest!

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  4. Love your blogs! They will keep me happy entrenched in this cold Wyoming winter, but I have March on my mind to escape to the SW. See you then?

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    • We will be wandering S. CA for at least the first couple of weeks in March. Not sure of direction after that. If you have plans, let us know – we would love to connect. On the road somewhere until late May.

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  5. Good to see that you are on the move again! I’m interested in the COE campgrounds. Are they under the blanket of “National Parks?” I see that you mentioned the senior passes work there. We’re actually not very far apart at this point. We are in Bennington, Ok. at some friends property. I did a 100 mile loop from here last year that included skirting around the Dallas area. I had to cross the Red River twice, once was a one way bridge. I got about 1/2 way across when a truck started from the other end. I had to dismount the bide and stand tight against the rail to let him pass. We’ll be going to Huntsville, Tx on Thursday for a music festival and then start our SW touring.

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    • Hi Gary. Happy New Year.

      Try this link to get started with the Corps campgrounds. They are not part of the National Parks system, but reservations are made through recreation.gov. We are camped waterside at yet another one here, just north of Dallas.

      https://www.recreation.gov/campgroundDirectoryListByAgencyID.do?contractCode=NRSO&agencyID=70902

      We haven’t even unloaded our bikes yet once. Too much moving ahead. Going to take public transit around Dallas and explore a bit today. Had a huge thunderstorm last night, but it’s all cleared off. Think it will be a great day to wander. We are looking forward to the next couple of weeks when we won’t be spending so much time in the truck. That sure isn’t my favorite part of traveling.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I saw a Facebook post about a dog who was afraid of fireworks. I thought about your pooch. They put earphones on the dog and played doggie videos. They said it helped.

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    • Thunderstorms, gunshots, fireworks….It’s a terror-filled world for Jezzy. It’s especially difficult camping because she has nowhere to hide. Anyone, we put on her Thundershirts, and she crawls under the bed until it’s safe to come out. Here, she just has to gut it out.

      Happy New Year to you, Scott, and Broad.

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  7. Pork butt? Are you sure you heard John right and it wasn’t one of those ducks they were hunting? Sorry folks – inside joke. As usual, great photos Judy. Happy New Year!

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    • Haha. How quickly I had almost forgotten that!

      Happy New Year to you, too. I became a great-great aunt on New Year’s Day. A pretty good way to start a new year. Brings me hope for all kinds of good things.

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  8. Love reading about your travels! We are in Oregon! Sidney Jane was born 12.22–about 10 days early and she’s amazing! So proud of Will and Betsy and delighted to be a grandma! Happy travels!!!!!

    Gail

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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    • So, are you hanging around there for awhile? I’ll bet it would be hard for you to tear yourself away.

      We became great-great aunts and uncles yesterday at 5am. I’m not sure the parents are so happy with a week’s delay, but sometimes you don’t get to pick.

      Hope you get home in time for the BRR. It would be great to see you again. There’s a little Casita rally going on in this Dallas campground right now. Happy New Year.

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  9. I’ve stayed at a few COE campgrounds down south on fishing trips, and you’re right, they’re great. I’m jealous of any one who is able to escape the cold and snow of Michigan, but I’m happy for them as well, wish that I could.

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    • Hi Jerry. Happy New Year.

      Even though I’m not a big water person, I sure do like camping near it. There’s something so peaceful about it.

      When your retirement turn comes, I’m sure you’ll take full advantage of all the free time for photography – I’m looking forward to that for you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I was just wondering today if you’d be blogging of this winter’s adventures, so what delight on this sleeplessness night before returning to work to read your post. That’s an extreme change in temperature from Michigan to Indiana! We just sent in the application for Ray’s senior pass. WooHoo! Funny, I never thought of Arkansas as having many lakes—-I’m geographically challenged. :) Thanks for the read and I’ll be following your journeys. Safe travels on the road.

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    • Thanks, Ellalou. Happy New Year.

      It’s always hard to get the blog rolling again, especially when we really haven’t seen much except miles of roadway and gray skies.

      Welcome to the geezer club (to Ray anyway). It’s the best ten bucks he’ll ever spend!

      See you in spring.

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