RV Life vs Camping Life

We’ve settled into a Green Valley slump. Living the easy life – not moving too much or  too quickly, with a couple of notable exceptions.

As we anticipated, life in the RV park is much different than camping in the wild. Our usual ways just don’t quite fit.20160209_105812-001 Lack of a picnic table inhibits our dining routines, and the campfire prohibition leaves us without a reason to hang around outside once the cold desert air comes in for the night. So, we had mixed feelings about the battle with the RV park over whether we had to move out for five days to accommodate a large caravan of  RVs who wanted to camp all together (we lost). A second battle was waged over refunding us a portion of the fees we paid for a full month of camping (lost that one, too!)

So, away from the hot sunshine and close quarters of a busy RV park in a retirement community, we find ourselves perched in Bog Springs Campground in Madera Canyon, about 10 miles away. Our campsite is about 5100′ in altitude, below the snowline of 6000′.20160212_101910 With the very notable exception of our neighbor with an ancient Winnebago with a generator that sounds like a cement mixer, it’s cool, shady, and peaceful.20160212_095753_120160210_182116 We’re happy that they seem to turn on the generator only when they want to watch tv, and they have limited that to a couple hours each evening. Unfortunately, that coincides with our dinner/campfire time, but it’s still a very good tradeoff for us.

The best part about February so far as been reconnecting with old hiking and cycling friends. Second best part is camping with my sistahs. It’s unbelievably sweet to be able to see them every day for a month. No photos exist of the three of us together, but we might be able to accomplish that before month’s end.

So far, we’ve had just one notable hike – an arduous climb up Picacho Peak. The relatively short distance of the hike (two miles each way), is more than compensated for by the difficulty of the climb.20160210_102627 Thin steel cables were often the only thing between us and the abyss.20160210_111109 One mercifully short section required us to basically haul ourselves up with cables on each side, and a dropoff of about 1500′ below.20160210_111633 20160210_122337Our reward was lunch with a spectacular view at the top.20160210_115824We were accompanied by our old hiking buddies David G and Tony, as well as our new endurance hiking hero Ed. In 2015, Ed hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail from southern California to Canada – the trail recently made famous by the book/movie Wild (if you haven’t read it – do so. Highly entertaining). We were nervous about looking like geezer sissy hikers to him, but I believe the hike was difficult enough for us to uphold our reputation as respectable hikers.

Our axle situation (see last post) is going to be resolved with the purchase of a new axle and two tires. The manufacturer (Alko) of the existing axle has refused to offer any warranty relief for our defective axle (installed in May 2015), despite the repair shop’s intervention on our behalf. We don’t want this safety or maintenance issue hanging over our heads, so we’re going to cough up the $700+ to get the situation fixed before we hit the road again on March 1. It’s all about peace of mind.

So, that’s the early Green Valley report. A slow start, but we’re gearing up to a strong finish to the month.

Fixin’ the Fireball

Is it the Curse of the Campshaws, or does everyone with a camper/trailer/RV have the same crappy luck we seem to have? In the (less than) three years we’ve owned our T@DA, we’ve replaced the batteries (twice), the converter which converts 110V to 12V, tires, refrigerator, and the arms which hold the windows open. We also managed to blow up our microwave (the Texas Enchilada Incident). Our license plate broke off, twice(!) on the road somewhere. Oh, and let’s not forget the brake/bearing fiasco which dogged us in Louisiana two years in a row. I dunno – seems like a lot to me. Maybe every camper has this stuff.

But, we love the Fireball. It becomes a bit of a hobby to check out other campers. Truthfully, we haven’t found anything that we would rather own, including the Airstreams that everyone covets. So, when we noticed that we have some spongy spots in the floor, we knew that we’d have to figure out a way to get things repaired. And, since I’ve lusted for a marmoleum floor since seeing on in a restored Spartanette a couple of years ago, it seemed like a good time to replace our dingy whitish floor as well.

How lucky is it that my brother-in law’s brother in law (are you following?) works part time for a gentleman who collects vintage Airstreams. And, he lives right here in Grand Rapids! Ken (the Collector) owns a huge service garage where he stores his collection of amazing trailers. He employs a couple of guys full time who do nothing but work on restorating these classic beauties. With a proper introduction, the guys investigated, and decided to take on the Fireball as a ‘side’ project.

Mike, the Head Repair Guy, crawled around beneath the Fireball, and felt that we had ‘floor fatigue’, as opposed to rot, causing the sag and squishy spots. The cure? Brace the floor from underneath in two spots. 20151209_141104Photo shows new brace. On additional brace is barely visible.

About four hours after dropping the Fireball off, we got a call saying “you better come see this”. (Campshaw Curse running at full speed now). Removal of the old vinyl floor revealed a sodden plywood base. Not rotted, but thoroughly soaked. Scary, isn’t it?IMG_1717Mike and Jim removed all the interior fixtures – and found that the damage seemed to originate under the KoolCat, which is the electric heater/air conditioner. How often do we use the a/c? Oddly, that was a very easy question for us to answer…(one day two years ago in Death Valley, and two or three days on our most recent trip.) We discovered that the construction of the T@DA didn’t allow the water collected by the air conditioner to drain out. Instead, it ran from the drain hoses, back under the a/c unit, and directly into the floor. “It’s a good thing I’m seeing this trailer now, instead of a year from now,” was Mike’s comment. An additional area where water must have collected was under our side storage panel.

Now the plan is to dry out the interior with large blowers and heaters, of the type you might use if your basement is flooded. Everything gets dried out, but unfortunately, the soaking has caused the plywood to heave and splinter.IMG_1724The solution to this problem is to force glue into the plywood, reforming the bond. A new layer of underlayment was put over the top. With the bottom braced and the top smoothed out, we had a good surface for the new floor

Mike built a metal pan with about two inch sides to surround the KoolCat. It’s screwed and glued in place. The drain tubes now poke through the protective screen, and will drain out to the ground. We also have a shield over the screen to keep water and road dirt out of this area when we tow. See the drain tubes poking out on the lower left and lower right corners of the grille?20151209_141302Repairs are now complete, and the floor is installed. Looks great, doesn’t it?IMG_2051

20151209_141612Furniture is reinstalled, and it’s done. Finished!!

We’re fortunate to have found folks who had the technical expertise and the willingness to tackle this project for us, as it certainly was beyond our own do it yourself capabilities. The original $600 estimate ballooned to $1600, but we know that we’re roadworthy. Hoping that this is the end of the Curse….

One last modification that John accomplished was to install a new battery box with two 6V golf cart batteries to replace our two marine deep cycle Group 24 batteries. This should give us much more boondocking time off the grid. We’re excited about this.

We are ready to hit the road. Whew!

 

 

 

 

T@B-O-Rama!

Are we having fun yet?  You betcha (how Midwestern is that?) Each stop in the past few weeks has been different, interesting, and exciting. We hope our string of successes doesn’t let up.

Having the good sense to get out before we were thrown out of Sandi and John’s welcoming arms, we headed into the Berkshire Mountains (NW Massachusetts) for a rally with other like-minded campers in T@Bs and T@DAs. There’s a great affinity among those of us with these unique campers – whether we share like political views, or have similar family situations – it doesn’t matter. There’s a kinship there that’s wonderful. Hard to explain because it sounds silly. It’s not. We had about 18 campsites occupied, with singles, couples, old and young, plus bunches of dogs. All good.

Our rally HQ for a long weekend was Historic Valley Campground in North Adams, MA. 20150926_181840Driving there on Thursday was uneventful, until we hit some steep hills. Not long, but steep, and we knew we were close to our destination. The autumn color we had expected was non-existent. Apparently, this area has experienced very dry conditions for the last many weeks.  Trees were greenish/gray and tired-looking. More ready to drop their leaves from exhaustion than from having spent their energy with color. The only fallen leaves we see are dead ones – no paths strewn with color.

Friday seems like a beautiful day to stretch our legs with a hike. Yay! The Appalachian Trail runs very close to camp, including a stretch up and over Mt. Greylock, the highest spot in Massachusetts. How could we not hike this stretch? Even better, there’s no dog restriction as long as they are leashed (Jezzy NEVER is allowed off her leash. Ever.) We make a pack lunch, grab a couple liters of water, and jump into the truck to find the Trailhead. Yikes! These roads are not for cowards. We pass a few signs that say 17% grade, and suddenly the nose of the Firetruck is pointed into the sky, or down below our windshield view. So glad I’m not driving – I can put my head down and mutter little grunts of fear or relief. 17% might not sound like much, but that is Steep!

The AT at this point is pretty interesting. We’ve got a 3.6 mile uphill to the summit at Mt. Greylock and a return down the same path.20150925_142848 Climb up, scamper down. The Trail surface is uneven rock – not difficult to maneuver, but tiring, because footfalls are never level – we were constantly teetering off pointy little rocks. But, this was oh so worthwhile……when we finally crested Mt. Greylock, there was a contingent of hang-gliders leaping off the peak into the breezy void. What a treat to watch. A big crowd had gathered – thru-hikers who were taking a breather, a few day hikers like us, and many who had driven to the peak to see the view. It was hot and still – perhaps not an ideal day for the kites, but pleasant nonetheless.20150925_14072920150925_141028 We ate our sandwiches, and gave our leftover snacks to a hungry-looking thru hiker. Many of these guys are living on ramen noodles and raisins, so he was surprised and happy to receive crackers/cheese and chocolate.20150925_14164120150925_14214820150925_142439Our legs took a pounding that day, and we were happy when we arrived back at the Firetruck. Jezzy was a trouper to hang in there, but we could tell that she was exhausted as well.

The next day, John hung around camp and washed the Fireball. Three weeks on the road take a toll, and she was looking pretty shabby. The Firetruck was taken into town and treated to a real car wash.  We feel better when are gear isn’t looking quite so sad. I decided to cycle into North Adams to find the farmers’ market. I got to ride down one of those 17% grades. Yikes!  Thanks again, John, for putting new hydraulic brakes on my mountain bike.  That was a nail-biter of a descent to a stop sign at the bottom of a very steep road.

Loved the small, but colorful farmers’ market. This duo performing Sylvia, won me over. Found all the stuff I needed for a great grilled vegetable dish for the rally potluck Saturday night. I wandered around a bit, taking a few photos of the extravagant New England views. The small towns here are all so picturesque – it’s what you imagine New England to look like in your dreams.20150926_12235420150926_122450Can you believe that this building is the town library?20150926_12262920150926_122934We spent the rest of the day chatting with our fellow campers, checking out their trailers, having our checked out as well, and exchanging tips on campsites, storage, maintenance, and camping philosophies. We’ve learned lots from our fellow campers at these rallies.

T@B trailers were first produced in 2004, discontinued by the original manufacturer in 2009. T@DAs followed in 2008, discontinued in 2010. About 1500 T@DAs were produced in all, the majority titled as 2008. Ours is a 2009. We suspect they were all manufactured at the same time, and simply titled out as the manufacturer sold them thru their dealer network. Little Guy Trailers has been making the T@Bs since 2010, keeping the original shape and feel, but improving many features and construction issues. Our rally was a great combo of new/old T@Bs, plus one other T@DA.

One T@B really caught my eye. A Steampunk-style T@B owned by Bridget and Ed. They’ve gone to great lengths to customize their amazing trailer. My photos don’t do it justice, but all the small details are incredible. Bridget found a custom trunk from an old 30s Hudson, which has replaced their standard propane tank holder.20150927_101508 All the trim on the T@B has been removed and painted to match, complete with brass accents and decals. It’s amazing.

20150927_10155120150927_10251720150927_102921 We find that folks with these small campers go to amazing lengths to customize their rigs to match their style and comfort levels. One couple, Bob and Carol were spending just the fourth night in their brand new 2016 clamshell T@B. Although I love the comfort of being able to get out of bed and make morning coffee inside, I love the true camping feel that a clamshell offers.20150926_160023 Maybe I’m just not tough enough. We cook everything (but coffee) outside, but love the flexibility of having a fridge inside. Maybe I’m just a big sissy, but I’m NOT going out in the rain to make morning coffee!

Sunday morning, we said our goodbyes and headed off to Newport, RI. Each of our stops in New England (so far) has been so different from the last. We’re expecting that trend to continue with millionaires and jazz in Newport.

Cruising Cape Cod

20150922_092106The Fireball looks pretty sweet tucked in alongside Santa Baby, the Airstream owned by friends Sandi and John, doesn’t she? In fact, we liked it so much that we stayed for three days in their driveway, while we explored Cape Cod.

After being Boston city kids for five days, Cape Cod was a breath of wild fresh air. 20150922_14434820150922_111941Stretching for forty miles along the bay, the Cape Cod National Seashore is a collection of sandy beaches, marshes, and salt ponds. Oaks and pines, seemingly stunted by the ever-present ocean breeze have a squat, weathered appearance. It’s all very rustic and wild on the National Seashore side, while the other side of the bay is an assortment of small towns and villages – each doing their best to collect their share of the tourist dollars  that flow through the area.

Since Sandi and John are both still working folk, we decided to head out on bikes (surprise, surprise) to explore on our first day. Naturally, the Visitor Center was our first stop. We viewed two films – one was an introduction to the area, and the second explored the formation of the Seashore, and the challenges of erosion. The damage done each year by storms alters the shoreline just a bit. Rising ocean levels pose significant challenges for the decades ahead.

At the Visitor Center, there’s a large skiff, which was used by early settlers to harvest sea hay, which was collected at low tide, brought to shore, dried, and fed to livestock. A side note indicated that many old timers in the area recall milk having a salty taste.  Well, yes – I imagine that it would!

Clutching our map with a bike route plotted out for us by a friendly Ranger, we headed off. Our intended destination was Provincetown (or P-town, as it’s known around here). The route comprised the Cape Cod Rail Trail, short stretches of US and State Highways, and beautiful narrow roads, winding along the shoreline.20150922_113106 20150922_143944We fell well short of our destination goal, stopping to gawk at the spectacular views, and sometimes to gasp for breath after short steep climbs. At Wellfleet, we threw in the towel, grabbed lunch, and turned back. We pedaled past Marconi Beach, the site where Marconi built his transmission towers that sent the first wireless message across the ocean.

Along the way though, we wandered along a salt marsh teeming with tiny little crabs and other wildlife.20150922_123737 There’s a peculiar earthy, rather rank, odor to a salt marsh from sea life left behind by the tide and decomposing plant matter. We watched a Great Blue Heron tiptoe across a slender rivulet of water to quickly snag an unsuspecting fish. It’s an interesting spot to lurk and observe.20150922_12483320150922_130252During our three days on the Cape, we feasted on clams. Fried clam strips and whole belly clams, fried scallops, clams on the halfshell, and (of course) clam chowder.20150922_195729 In our time in Massachusetts, I think John has probably devoured eight cups of clam chowder. Pretty sure he’s not done sampling yet.

Sandi had the day off on Wednesday, so she offered to be our guide to P-town. 20150923_13034920150923_14281720150923_15270120150923_144355Originally a Portuguese fishing village, P-town is now a cramped artsy town, loaded with restaurants, shops and galleries, and a wharf with whale watching tours, moonlight cruises, charter fishing boats and plenty of colorful characters. Fun to visit, but too crowded for my taste.20150923_14525120150923_143348While we probably missed plenty of historic sights, we also missed getting a view of the seals which rest on the beach at low tide. Our timing was off, and by the time we got to a spot where we figured to find them, they were already back out in the waves, diving for dinner. 20150922_145224(That dark spot in the middle is a seal head.) Seals consume hundreds of pounds of fish each day. In turn, Great White Sharks hunt the seals. It’s a timeless battle.

After three nights parked in Sandi and John’s driveway, it was time to move on.  John renewed his Airstream lust. We replaced one of the Fireball’s tires, discovering that we had cord peeking through the side. This was the side that was damaged by our bearing incident, and we hope that this is the last vestige of that mishap. Sandi and John (he’s a contractor) have the most remarkable shower I’ve ever experienced – three showerheads and a pebbled floor make it a shower you never want to end.  Wow. And, I wouldn’t be being honest if I didn’t say that I was floored to find that John collects Currier & Ives dinnerware – he has place settings for 90! wpid-20150924_091704.jpgLet’s just say that you could throw a hell of a party with all this!

Time to roll. It’s always good to leave before you get thrown out. ;-)

Fun and Not-So-Fun Times

It’s been a week of crazy ups and downs, primarily caused by weather, which restricted our camping choices in very unfavorable ways.

Our RV park site in Vicksburg was not fun.  Located ten feet off US 61, it was loud!  The soggy conditions created by the previous week’s 5″ of rain sure didn’t help matters.  We could feel the Fireball sinking into the mud, although it had been level when we set up.  We wandered around town for one day on our bikes, touring the Coca Cola Museum (Coke was first bottled there).  It was pretty lame.  No ice cream.  No floats.20150324_130934 There are many pleasant sights in town, but it sure didn’t have a prosperous feel.20150324_124845At night, we were kept awake all night long by roaring traffic.  We were grouchy and unsettled, so we decided to cut our visit short by a day.  (Part of our unhappiness was the premature announcement that we have trailer brakes.  Turns out we have trailer BRAKE.  The brakes on the side where the new bearing and shoes were installed don’t work.)  Don’t even get me started on this topic….Vicksburg National Military Park was a must to see before leaving the area, so we decided to pack up, tour the Park, then leave from there. 20150325_110152I had really mixed feelings about my Vicksburg experience.  First of all, the Visitor Center was wonderful.  The video presentation at any National Park or Monument is always our first stop – we love the big overview that we get from watching the film. The personal element of the Civil War battlefield films is exceptionally good.  Excerpts from actual letters are read while re-enactments are shown on the screen.  The eloquence of the letters is always moving.  Vicksburg was very different than other Civil War Parks we have visited.  This was more than a battle between soldiers – the siege lasted more than six weeks, causing townfolk to retreat to caves for safety.  Confederate troops were near starving as supply lines on the Mississippi were cut off.    20150325_120053Armed with a brochure and our 20 minutes worth of video input, John and I set off on our bicycles to tour the 20 mile scenic drive through the Battlefield.  Cycling along any National Park scenic drive is an excellent way to see the area, and absorb the site. 20150325_120537 Perhaps it’s not for everybody, but we sure can appreciate the physical nuances of the geography better on a bike than we could in a car.  While we are wandering around, examining artifacts and looking for the trenches dug by the Union Army, we are passed by many cars.  Most people don’t get out to read the plaques or look around.  Vicksburg, check!  What’s next on the Bucket List?20150325_112156No blow by blow description here, but I do have to describe the sad feelings that overcame us here.  The grandiose monuments are from the Union states, Illinois and Wisconsin in particular.20150325_11302320150325_11351820150325_115139 Michigan’s monument features a woman with a large gear in her hand to symbolize industrial strength.  There is signage to the effect that some of the Confederate states took longer to return to prosperity than their Union counterparts, thus, their battlefield monuments are smaller, and less grand.  No kidding.  General Grant’s headquarters area features a huge statue of Grant on a horse.  The Sherman Circle is devoid of statuary.  It seems very lopsided.  Fair?  Correct?  To the victors go the spoils of war?

One area that we did enjoy exploring was the USS Cairo (Care-o) Museum.  The Cairo was one of seven ironclads built for the Union by one shipbuilder during a 100 day period, at a cost of about $100,000 each.20150324_144454 All we lost in battle.  The Cairo is the only one which has been recovered.  It was not discovered until 1960, then raised, and installed here a few years later.

At Vicksburg Battlefield Cemetery, the remains of 17,000 Union soldiers (of which 13,000 are unnamed), are buried, as well as soldiers from the Spanish-American War, and World Wars I and II. 20150324_15134120150324_151526 Most Confederate soldiers killed in the Siege of Vicksburg are buried in another Vicksburg cemetery.

Several hours after beginning our tour of Vicksburg, we hit the road, intending to camp at Warfield County Park, about 100 miles away.  Too bad for us – this park was closed.  Underwater!  We were directed by a couple of helpful gentlemen to check out nearby Lake Chicot State Park, about 20 miles away.  Sure, why not?  We plugged the info into Google Maps (our go-to source for directions), and headed out.  We shortly thereafter found ourselves driving along a rutted road on top of a levee, surrounded by cattle, who didn’t seem to understand why we were driving thru their territory.  It was awful, and yet a bit funny. We knew it was going to have a bad ending…..when we finally got to an area where the Google voice told us to ‘turn left to our destination’, it was a downhill trek into a gigantic swamp.  Perhaps there really was a State Park and a campground there, but there is NO WAY that we could have plowed our way down there, and forded all that water to find it.  John verrrrry carefully turned the Fireball around on the narrow levee “road”.  When we got back to the Highway, we pulled out all maps, phones, and camping resources to find a home for the night.  Everything is full (Spring Break), or closed (flood).  The only spot we can find is the Pecan Grove RV Park.

Another spot on a very busy major US Highway.  We are directed to pick any spot we want – “the driest ones are over there….”  As we’re setting up, there’s an old Dodge Caravan driving through the park with the horn blaring.  One of the doors has a sign on it like you’d see from a pizza delivery joint.  Here’s how this conversation went…

Me:  Are you trying to find a particular campsite for a delivery?

Cranky 90-year old African American (woman) driver:  What?  I’m just trying to sell YOU some tamales and pies!

Me:  Tamales?  I love tamales.  How much are they?

C90YOAAWD: $12 a dozen

Me:  Can’t use a dozen, but I’d take four.

C90YOAAWD:  I can sell you six or nine.

Me:  I’ll take six.

C90YOAAWD:  How about nine?

Me:  Can’t use them.  Sorry.  Forget it.

C90YOAAWD:  Why are you giving me such a hard time?

She hauls herself out of the minivan, and opens up the back, where she has a huge stockpot full of tamales (in bundles of 3!  I could have had just 3!!!).  Wraps up six in foil.  I give her $7.  We’re done.  For the record, they were awful.  We ate a couple of them, and threw the rest away.  Bummer.  We love tamales.

Next morning, we decide to bust for Little Rock, AR.  We hadn’t planned to arrive there until Friday, but we call an are able to get our campsite at Maumelle Campground (a Corps of Engineers Park) a day early.  Pulling in, it’s Ahhhh…….a real campground.20150327_091520 Trees.  Picnic Tables.  Fire rings.  A river.  Kids on bikes.  We’re going to be here for five days.  Already, the pressure of the last hideous week begins to dissolve.

Downside?  It’s freezing here (40s), and STILL RAINING!  Our arrival day is Thursday – it doesn’t stop raining until noonish on Saturday.  Long story short – this post is putting even me to sleep.

Clinton Presidential Library.  Beautiful, and interesting, but not as inspirational as the LBJ Library. To me, it just seemed to lack the charm of the LBJ.  20150328_11431020150328_121618 Clinton did sign the Family Leave Act into law, and also signed the law that made COBRA health benefits available to workers changing jobs.  NAFTA came into being during the Clinton Administration, as well as major strides in the Middle East peace process.  Most of everything was lost by the scandal which ensued from the Starr investigations into Whitewater and everything else Clinton.  The enormous Library is well worth a visit – it’s the largest, and most well-attended of all Presidential Libraries.20150328_12552720150328_12565020150328_122504We wandered over to the State Capitol.20150328_14330020150328_143440And the old State Capitol.20150328_134734Around downtown.20150328_13405720150328_13285220150328_135727The above quote was in a special bicycling exhibit in the old State Capitol.

The Central High School National Historic Site was a must-see.  Central High was where school desegregation came to a head in 1957.  Nine African American students were denied entrance to the school in defiance of federal law.  Federal Marshals were called in to escort the kids to school, along streets lined with opposing State National Guards troops and townspeople.20150328_160338 The photos in the museum are chilling, and the audio is shameful.  It’s chilling to think that this disgraceful episode happened so (relatively) recently.  We met a fellow camper here (with a T@B, no less!) who graduated from Central High.  Her father was actually a Senior there in 1957.  Every day is a history lesson of some kind or another.

Everything we have seen here revolves around the Arkansas River.  Perhaps it’s not as wide or dramatic as the Mississippi, but it’s certainly impressive.  Our campground is along its banks, it rolls right thru the center of downtown Little Rock, and there’s a bike trail that covers the 15 mile distance from end to end.  One of the most impressive features is the Big Dam Bridge, which spans the river.20150329_13175220150329_131822 This is the longest, largest bridge ever built solely for pedestrian/bicycle traffic.  Wow!  We pedaled into downtown on a sunny Sunday – one of the first nice days in the area.  We saw hundreds of cyclists and walkers along the way.  The biggest Community Garden I’ve ever seen was also along the path – there must have been 200 plots.  Some were as large as 30 x 30.  Lots of people out digging and planning.  I did stop several times to try to photograph this amazing area, but was unable to get a photo of anything that didn’t just look like dirt and fences. But, it was a fantastic area.

We cycled today (Monday) up to Pinnacle Mountain State Park.  What a gorgeous spot to hike and bike.  The historic focus of the Park is on the Trail of Tears, the paths taken through Arkansas by the Native Americans who were relocated under federal order in the 1830s from their homelands in the Southwest to areas in the Southeast.  All these routes passed through Arkansas, either along the river or land.  There are amazing scenic views,IMG_1321-001IMG_1318 trails, and a quarry open for swimming in the summer. IMG_1316-001 It was worth all the huffing and puffing we had to do on our bikes to get up there.

We head out Tuesday for TN.  That will be our last camp before Evansville, where we’ll hang out with John’s brother for a few days before finally going back to Grand Rapids.  Until Little Rock, we were more than ready to go home.  Now, we’ve had a couple days of great weather, a sterling campground, and a bit of cycling and sightseeing to buoy our spirits.  Home doesn’t sound quite so sweet anymore.