Lake Wappapello State Park

Good morning. What a quiet night. Not even an owl hooting. The only sound we heard was the furnace turning on and off. It looks like we have only a slight chance of rain this morning and then cloudy sky’s with a high of only 49. Tomorrow sunny and a high of 53 if we decide to stay one more day.

Day 121. We had decided before we left the Walmart in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas that we would like to find a campground not too far into Missouri, which would be around lunchtime. We were hoping to get into the Corps of Engineering Campground in Greenville, but we could not get anyone to answer the phone so we did not know if they were open or if they had any available sites. We knew there were State Parks in the area also, but again we didn’t know if they were open. We decided to do what we do best and just wing it.

I was having a hard time finding the exact location for the Corps of Engineering Campground. Our Corps book gave vague directions and google maps was not cooperating either. Usually I have no problem getting directions. As we drove we saw a sign for a State Park and decided to go for it. We had no idea what we were in for. The road to the park was “white knuckle” the entire way. We went up very steep inclines, down the same “hills”, no shoulders, straight down drop offs, and the road wound in and out and all around. We were going deeper and deeper into the woods. It seemed like it took forever to find the park. Our favorite type of driving-not.

When we finally arrived and saw cars and people we took a sigh of relief. We just sat there for a few minutes to let our stomachs settle before going in to see if we could get a site. I know I teased Clyde for not wanting to go into the mountains, but if we were both this nervous driving in the hills of Missouri, I don’t think I’m cut out for going through the mountains in our motorhome either.

The park ranger was very nice. She told us yes they were open and to just go find a site and set up. They use the honor system to pay. After you set up you fill out an envelope, add your cash or check and drop it in the box. We were happily surprised to find out it was only $8 a night with 30 amp electric for us, as senior citizens. They have a dump station and a place to fill up with potable water if we need it.

We got back in our motorhome and took another deep breath. We had to go up another very steep hill to get to the campsite. I think we were holding our breath, hoping we would make it all the way up. Like The Little Engine that Could, “I think I can, I think I can”.

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Road to Campsites

There was only one other camper and they were leaving as we were coming in. We had our choice of any site. The problem was all the sites seemed to be next to a cliff, not easy to get into or very level. A couple of sites were pull-through. We decided one of those would work best for us, as we knew they were long enough for us to fit into. We had just gotten set up and leveled out when it started to rain. Boy did we time that good. We only drove about a hundred miles, but some of them were very stressful. We were glad to be set up and have a place to relax for a couple of days.DSC_0022DSC_0025DSC_0026

The park itself is deep in the forest on Lake Wappapello. So far we haven’t seen much wildlife. It is so tranquil here. A perfect place to be one with nature. And, Patty Pepper won’t have anyone to bark at. Loving our lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

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Texarkana

Good morning. We had thought we would be staying put for today, but our plans changed like the weather. Today we will be heading east into Arkansas. My thoughts are instead of going further north, if we go east we can stay with the nicer weather a little longer. Again, we don’t have definitive plans, we are just winging it.

Day 119. Yesterday we left the Walmart in Wharton, Texas and drove next door to the Bucee’s for coffee and a bite to eat. That place was almost as busy in the morning as it was the night before at dinner time. We were on the road and headed north before 8:30 am. The weather wasn’t bad for traveling, just not as nice as the day before. It was overcast and gloomy, which is better than thunderstorms, high winds or snow storms.

We drove through Houston without any problems. We hit some traffic, but not anywhere near as bad as it would have been on a week day during rush hour. We also encountered road construction and those wonderful concrete barriers along the sides of the road that Clyde just loves-not. I think the last time we had to drive through that type of construction for as long as we did was in Ohio. Not fun. Clyde calls it his white knuckle driving.

Just before 11 am we came across our first rest area. Patty Pepper was not settling down and was trying to tell us she needed to be let out.  We also needed to stretch our legs. We aren’t as young as we used to be you know.

The route we were on took us through long spells of nothing but farmland and grazing cattle. When you are driving a motorhome that is pulling a car, finding a gas station that you can get into and out of without problems is not always easy. We still had a half of a tank of gas, but with the lack of gas stations or anything else around, we decided to keep our eyes open for the next station with decent prices and where we would be able to pull in and out of easily. We found a Texaco in Marshall, Texas at $2.29 a gallon.

For those of you who have asked or are just wondering how expensive it is to drive a motorhome, I have figured it out to be anywhere from $3.17-$3.70 a mile depending on the cost of the gas. I guess we’d better like where we are going and enjoy the scenery.

Our plans were to stay at a Corps of Engineering campground near Texarkana, Texas for the night and possible the next, but that was not to be. There were four campgrounds in the area and they were all closed due to flooding. That meant we needed to find another place to stay for the night. The Walmart in this area was one that does not allow for overnight parking, so that was out. Besides, we wanted and needed a shower.

As it was getting late (almost 5 pm) we decided to pull into a campground we saw along the side of the road with a big sign that says Texarkana RV Park. It’s a clean park with gravel parking sites. Some of the sites are pull-through, which we are using one of so we don’t have to unhook the toad. We also have full hook-ups, 50 amps and free Wi-Fi if you wanted it. The park also has a pool. Clyde said the showers were really nice; big and clean. There are also washers and dryers if you needed them and a game room with tables to play at and a TV. We were able to use our Good-Sam’s discount which was nice, but it was still more than we like paying for a one night stay. But, again we do what we have to in a pinch. We are just south of Texarkana, Texas. We would stay here again if we needed to.

I’d better get a move on. We’ve got to figure out where we are going today. For sure it will be in Arkansas. Loving our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Leg South

Good morning.  We went to sleep last night with the bedroom window open listening to the waves hitting the shore.  How cool is that.  It is 61 already this morning, but it’s not supposed to get as warm today as it was yesterday.  The high is forecast to be only 64 with possible showers and high winds.  It doesn’t look like a beach day to me.  That’s ok, there is a lot to see here on the island.

Day 75.  We were up and ready to get on the road for our final leg of the journey to South Padre Island by 8:30 am.  A Murphy’s gas station was just across the Walmart parking lot, where we went to fill Winnie up.  Gas was $2.34 a gallon, which we thought was high until we went further south and found that the price had jumped to $2.49 a gallon.  It’s a good thing we won’t be needing to fill her up again for another month.

The drive was uneventful with moderate traffic and some construction along US 77.  We saw palm trees, cactus, cattle, a few wind turbines and even the boarder patrol along the long stretches of open land.  We stopped at the Harlingen Travel Information Center to stretch our legs and walk Patty Pepper.  This was an easy on and off the highway stop, with plenty of space for us to park.  While we were there we decided we should have lunch (pb&j sandwiches) so we weren’t starving when we got to the campground.

We passed through Port Isabel, crossed the 2-mile-long causeway which was named Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge and arrived on South Padre Island.  A total of 162 miles.

After checking into Isla Blanca Park and setting up we were ready to take a short walk down to the beach and check it out.  The temperature was perfect in the 70’s, but a bit windy.  The red flag warning was out.  We are hoping for some nice weather beach days while we are here this month.  I didn’t see any shells.  Perhaps this won’t be the beach for collecting any. I did read that if you wanted any shells you needed to walk the beach early in the morning.  We will see.

This park is the complete opposite from the Corp of Engineering campground in Waco, Texas we just left.  The sites here are so close together – “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand . . .” . Just sayin’.  This is a first for us.  We’ve stayed in campgrounds that we thought were a bit too close together, but none compared to this campground.  I’ll let you know how I feel after a few days.

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Our site #C443

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Our site #C443

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View from our couch window

What enticed us here to this area was the warmer weather, close to the ocean with sights to see and things to do. I’m looking forward to exploring the area.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

How Many Steps?

Good morning.  Wow, it got cold last night.  It’s only 27 right now.  Thankfully the temperature is supposed to go up into the mid 60’s today with sunshine.

This is going to be a busy day.  We have a lot to get done, as we will be leaving here tomorrow morning bright and early to spend the month of February down at South Padre Island. It will be a new adventure for us, which we are both looking forward to.  We have really enjoyed this park and highly recommend it to others, but we have seen what there is to see in this area and we have so many other places we are looking forward to exploring.

Day 72. I’ve been trying to get out and walk more.  I need more exercise.  When we owned a house I got some steps in each day even if I never left the house; by going up and down the stairs numerous times and walking throughout the house.  Living in the small area of a motorhome makes any indoor steps minimal.  Besides you feel so refreshed after a good brisk walk in the fresh air and sunshine. Yesterday and the day before we got out and walked the park two different times both days.  It sure felt good.

How many steps do you need each day to be healthy and not live a sedentary lifestyle?  My phone keeps track of the steps I take.  I thought I was doing really good getting around 5,000 steps in a day; which is two laps around this park. That is about 2 to 2 1/2 miles. Wrong. According to health experts the average person gets between 5,000 and 7,000 steps per day.  They also say in order to reduce health risks and manage your weight you need to take 10,000 steps or more per day.

I am happy with my 5,000 steps a day for now.  That is more than I was able to walk this past year.  I just need to work on increasing my steps back up to a 10,000 per day average.  I am really hoping the weather down in South Padre will be perfect for getting out and walking.  Loving this lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’

Good morning.  It looks like we are going to have another bright sunny day.  It won’t be as warm as yesterday.  I’m not sure we will even reach 60 today, but at least the sun will be out and hopefully the wind will stay at bay.

Day 71.  Remember the lyrics of the song in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Oklahoma, “Oh, what a beautiful mornin’, Oh, what a beautiful day, I’ve got a beautiful feelin’, Everything’s goin’ my way”.  Well, that was yesterday for sure.  What a gorgeous day we had. The sun was out, the wind was light and the temperature was around 70.  What more could we ask for.

The beautiful weather brought everyone and their brother out and about too, which made walking with our unfriendly pug, Patty Pepper, difficult.  She is a barker.  Funny thing is we got her because we thought this breed of dogs were not barkers.  She never socialized with other dogs, except those in our family, when she was younger (our fault).  So now when we have her out all she wants to do is bark at other dogs and everything else around her.  She is getting worse with old age.  We have tried just about everything; bark collars, squirt guns, a stern voice, etc. Nothing seems to work.  I’m thinking she needs blinders like you put on a horse. Maybe if she couldn’t see anything she wouldn’t bark. How they would stay attached to her tiny head would be interesting though.  Just a thought.  We really would like to be able to stop and talk to the other campers, but she is making that impossible.

Our walk in the morning was uneventful.  With so many people out walking around the wildlife stayed away.  We did see a couple of turtles on the log, but that’s about it.

Nice weather and weekends make the perfect time for families to go camping with their children. We enjoyed watching the children play.  We have some great climbing trees here in this park which the kids took full advantage of.

And, as it was Sunday, those same families had to return home for school and work.  The park emptied out quickly by lunch.  It was the perfect time to take another walk.  The wildlife was back.

As we walked by the area where we had seen the turtles a number of times before, I was surprised to see so many all at once.  On one log was a loner who looked like he was hugging the log.  On another log, we observed 4 at one time.  The 4th looked like he was barely holding on.  He finely gave up and went for a swim.  That’s when I noticed the other turtles swimming too. Look closely at the picture and you will see not only the turtles on the log, but 3 in the water.  We decided to name this area of the lake “Turtle Cove”.

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Painted Turtle – Tree Hugger

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4 Painted Turtles

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6 Painted Turtles – (3 in the water)

We also came across an armadillo carcass. We wondered what animal would be its enemy.  So I looked it up.  I found out that automobiles are their biggest threat.  Next are hunters, dogs and coyotes. I can’t imagine what a hunter would want with one. By process of elimination we must have coyotes in the area, although we haven’t heard any.

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Armadillo Carcass

We weren’t ready to head back home just yet.  It was too nice of a day.  So we found a picnic table by the water to sit and relax and just enjoy the sun and sights.  We watched the boaters, ducks, birds and a Great Blue Heron. We also watched the planes go overhead.

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England is not the only place you can see the prehistoric monument Stonehenge. We spotted a miniature version of one in our park.

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We are loving this lifestyle.  Enjoy your day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

Between the Showers

Good morning everyone.  It’s going to be a beautiful day; sunny with a high near 70.  A perfect day to be outside enjoying nature.  Hopefully we will see our wildlife friends out too enjoying the nice weather.

Day 70.  As predicted, yesterday was a cold, dreary, rainy day.  We never did see the sun.  In the afternoon we chose what we thought would be the warmest part of the day to take our walk.  It had just stopped raining.  I’m glad I wore my coat, because I was cold even with it on.  The wind is wicked.  I took my camera along, but I wasn’t expecting to see anything out and about in this weather.

Those of you who know my husband know how much he is into recycling, keeping our environment clean and doing what he can to be ecologically responsible.  You may wonder what he is doing while I am taking pictures of nature and wildlife.  He is doing what he does best, keeping the park clean by picking up the trash others leave lying around.

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Clyde and Patty Pepper

I did see a duck in the water bobbing for fish.  I watched him as the current took him down the lake.  I was amazed at how long he stayed under water each time he plunged down for his catch.  The current was strong and fast.  I had a hard time keeping up with him.  When I got too close, he flew off.  He appeared much bigger in the air than when he was in the water.  I have no idea what kind of duck he is.

While I was busy watching the duck I totally missed seeing the Great Blue Heron below me.  He saw me though and took off.  I love watching them fly.  I wonder if man studied them when inventing the airplane.  I also think of the Olympic divers and the precision of their form when I watch the birds too.  The birds are so perfectly aligned.  Aren’t they fascinating creatures to watch and observe.

As we walked by where we saw the turtles the other day, we were surprised to see a couple relaxing on the log.  We can’t say they were sunning themselves.  There was no sun out and it was cold and windy.

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When we got back from our walk, into our nice warm motorhome, we could smell our dinner cooking in the crockpot.  I’ve been trying new recipes I find on Pinterest.  We get tired of the same dishes all the time.  I love being able to put something together in the morning and having it ready in the afternoon, like today.

As we were getting settled back inside it started to rain once again.  We had timed our walk perfectly.

One funny I’d like to share.  While we were watching TV in the evening, every time a plane would fly over us our TV would lose its signal for just a minute.  It had never happened before, not sure why it happened last night.  We just thought it was weird and laughed.  Loving this lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

You Just Never Know

Good morning family and friends.  The temperature never did go down last night.  It is 61 now, foggy and sprinkling.  It looks like rain on and off all morning and then another overcast day with no sun and a high in the mid 60’s.  This area is desperate for some rain.  Everything is so dry.

Day 69.  You just never know when a photo opportunity will come your way.  That’s why I’ve gotten in the habit of taking my camera with me wherever I go.  Yesterday I shared pictures of my findings while walking around our park that I was happy to see.  When walking in the park I look for wildlife, nature and interesting things to capture on film (memory card now).  It is their natural habitat and therefore not unusual to see things.  I forgot to post one of my favorite pictures yesterday of the turtles and the American Coots together.  So here it is.

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Painted Turtles and American Coots – Lake Waco, Airport Park, Texas

Yesterday afternoon we decided to take a drive and see the suspension bridge in Waco which crosses the Brazos River.  The bridge was completed in 1870 and contains nearly 3 million bricks.  For years it served as a Chisholm Trail crossing.  It is a single-span suspension bridge with a main span of 475 feet.

Before we got to the bridge, on our way out of the park we weren’t expecting to see anything out of the ordinary.  We’ve been in and out of the park a number of times before and hadn’t seen anything.  But this turned out to be a great day to add to my wildlife photo collection.  I was ready with camera in hand, lens cap off and camera on,(lesson learned previously).

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Female Turkey

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Female Turkey #2

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White-Tailed Deer

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Red-Tailed Hawk

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Red-Tailed Hawk #2

On our way back into the park, after our sightseeing and grocery shopping, Clyde spotted an armadillo.  He pulled over and suggested I get out of the car to get pictures.  We were hoping it wouldn’t scurry off before I could get to it.  He didn’t seem to be phased in the least by my watching him.  He was too busy scrounging for bugs or whatever he eats.  At one point he looked up and appeared to be saying “yes, can I help you?”, then went back to foraging for his bugs.

Who would have thought on an overcast sunless dreary day that we would have seen so many great wildlife sightings.  You just never know.  Loving this lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn