Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Rayburn COE Park, Texas and Recall of White Mountain National Forest

Entering Texas we look for Route 59 at Texarkana. Since we were headed for Lake O' The Pines and Johnson Creek COE, we headed off on a side road, Route 155 to 49 and then 729.
From there we head back to Route 59 south to Route 96, towards Jasper, Route 83 west towards Broaddus and Rayburn Park COE on Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Jan relaxes at our site right on the water. Sam Rayburn is the largest man made lake in Texas at 114,500 acres.The largest lake is Toledo Bend which is shared between Texas and Louisiana. It has 1,200 miles of shoreline!!! This link may be interesting for some 
Lake Lubbers-Lakes by volume in Texas
The lake is so large that we watch boat after boat leave from our boat ramps or pass by from other directions and then disappear until the end of the day. Oh, by the way, the insect above is one huge stink bug.  About 4 or 5 times as large as the ones we usually see.
We love sunsets.  These are often as brilliant as the Arizona sunsets.
All kinds of reds.
A number of you might have also had eyes on the huge storm that made its way across the country after Thanksgiving. We had our eyes and ears on a Tornado watch for Monday.  Luckily nothing came of that, but we did have some strong winds and multiple downpours that created pictures like the above.
A look back at some travels from the summer. We had so many pictures, we never added them to the blog. We were in the White Mountain National Forest in late August, before any foliage colors.
Thanks to Bailey, we headed for Passaconaway National Forest Campground  on the Kancamagus Highway. The Kancamagus, also known as Route 112, runs from Route 16 in Conway for 34 miles west to Route 93 in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Follow this link for more Kancamagus Highway
 Right across from our campground are the Mt. Potash trails.
Plenty of trails for all levels of hikers.  Bailey does a great job with her crews to be sure they are all kept in excellent shape.!
 Great views from along the trail
 Always good to be on the alert for snakes.  Not as extreme as Arizona, where you are looking for rattlers and scorpions. We are good with that.
 Great views from everywhere in the National Forest.
 This is from the open section of highway west of North Conway on Route 302.
It also is a rest stop and information center.
 We try to add a panorama picture, but it is never the same as being there.
 Jan and I note that there is another trail from the Covered Bridge.  Not only that , but plenty of parking for Lady Blue!
 We always love New England covered bridges.
Also surprised to note how many covered bridges in other states.
How about that for a retired list of must sees?
All the covered bridges in the U.S.?
Check out this link for some of the most beautiful.
Architectural Digest covered bridges.
Also, check out this link to see covered bridges in other states. Just click on the state and it should give you a list and a map.
Covered Bridges in the U.S. and beyond 
 Jan and I head up the Boulder Trail.
They weren't kidding.
Big Boulders!!
 By the way, when they say easy to moderate trail, don't be surprised if that does not match your definition of "easy".
It's always a great feeling of accomplishment to reach the top. Even nicer to find a great view--or, in this case, views.
A big help to have other hikers at the top to point out where other great views can be seen.

 From Passaconaway Jan and I head west to Hancock National Forest Campground. It's a great resource in New England to have these campgrounds-in one of the busiest tourist areas-- for $12 a night , senior rate. In addition, these National Forest Campgrounds now offer kiln dried wood for sale in the campgrounds. This is a result of a ban on transporting firewood and spreading disastrous beetled and worms. But the result is great wood for campfires.
In our travels-especially this year--we find that most state parks have been turning to the same resource of kiln dried wood.
A short walk across the highway brings us to Lincoln Woods a center for many more possible hikes.
 We head out on a dirt road trail that is very well maintained. There is a jog that takes us along the riverbank for a bit.  Along the way are great examples of shelf mushrooms.
 Growing on a dead birch, but not sure what kind of mushroom.
 Another kind of shelf mushroom we had not seen before.
 And Robert Frost comes to mind.  Claimed by New Englanders, Frost spent a bit of time in England where he was first recognized.
But, there is the Frost farm in Derry , New Hampshire, another farm , later, in Franconia, New Hampshire. His poem that we most remember is The Road Not Taken  , which begins Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.  So glad we took this road.
Check this link for the poem.
The Road Not Taken 
This link offers a little biography for those who might be interested
Robert Frost biography 
For those who remember, this is a link to a Boise chorale version of Randall Thompson's Road Not Taken from his set Frostiana
Boise State-Road Not Taken 

 At the visitors center at the west end of the Kancamagus.
Bruce has made friends with Marty the Moose.
We think he likes you, Bruce. Just don't turn your back on him.
 The famous tourist stop of Indian Head Rock Profile in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
 It overlooks Shadow Lake in Franconia Notch at the Indian Head Resort.
 Heading through Franconia Notch.
This is about 8 miles of Interstate 93 which includes Cannon Mountain Ski Area. Not too far away are Loon Mountain Ski Area, Waterville Ski Area, Bretton Woods Ski Area, and Bear Notch Ski Touring Center.
For perspective, note Interstate 93 in the lower right of the picture.
 From Route 93 , we head northeast on Route 3, to Route 115, to Route 2 east, and then Route 16 out of Gorham to Dolly Copp Campground. Still the White Mountain National Forest.
 We are quite lucky. Dolly Copp was supposed to be renovating during the summer, but the contracts were postponed to the fall. However, because of the plan, the reservation system was suspended meaning all sites were walk-in, first come , first served.
We found a beautiful one with a view of Mt. Imp.
Campers should note that Dolly Copp will be undergoing extensive renovations in 2017 and beyond. New showers, bath houses, and paving among other upgrades.  Be prepared if you head this way.
 Some of the hikes take you past crystal clear water. This is a popular swimming spot where the water is over six feet deep in many places.

 We will leave this posting with a picture from the remains of the post Thanksgiving storm clouds.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

From Central Arkansas to Texas

From Maumelle COE , we head north on Route 40 to
Conway, Arkansas and then north on Route 65 to Greers Ferry Lake 
and COE park, Choctaw.
We are now in Sweet Gum tree territory. The fruit looks like little bombs. Inside are little capsules holding seeds. Loved by birds. The trees drop a very sticky sap which can be a pain to wash from your RV.
Jan and I stayed here last year and traveled into Heber Springs. There are 13 different COE campgrounds on this lake.
We head south on Route 9 to Route 40 again. Then north on Route 7, which is one of Arkansas's most scenic highways.West on route 164 brings us to Longpool Campground, an Ozark National Forest Campground.
The sites are comfortable and there are a number of campers here. They are here for the opening of hunting season . Normally they also might want to kayak down Big Piney Creek , some 60 miles long, but the water is low right now.
Back to Route 164, west this time, to Clarksville and Route 40 again, west to Ozark. This time it will be Aux Arc COE Campground.  Jan and I found the pronunciation is "Ox Ark".  Jan prefers the French Ozark.
A beautiful site right on the Arkansas River. This campground is right at the dam that separates Ozark Lake to the west and Dardanelle Lake to the east.  There are locks at the dam, but we only saw pleasure boats using the locks or the river.
We had crossed this bridge to get to the park. A nice view from the campground.
That night was the night of the hunter moon which was also the closest the moon was to the earth since 1948.  Unfortunately, there were numerous clouds . But, the moon poked through for a short visit and we snapped a shot through the tree branches.
From Ozark, we follow Route 309 south to Mt. Magazine State Park.  Jan and I have really been enjoying these back roads of Arkansas.  The roads are in good shape. Some are narrow, but the traffic has been very light. We go by a lot of beef cattle farms, chicken farms(Tyson), and just beautiful rural roads.
Mt. Magazine State Park includes the highest point in Arkansas. This is our campground, Cameron Bluff
The sites are large and wooded. We are surprised to see a 45 foot Class A motorhome come in towing a trailer.  They found a large site also.
A one mile hike takes us to the Signal Hill, the highest point in Arkansas.  There are no views from here, but---------
another mile takes us to the Lodge and some really great views.
The lodge has a large capacity for guests and is rather busy.  The original lodge burned in 1971 and this new multimillion dollar unit plus 13 cabins was opened in 2006. You can check this link to get more on the lodge and the history Mt. Magazine Lodge
Jan and I cannot resist.  We head into the restaurant and find a nice table with a great view. That lake is Blue Mountain Lake where our next campground will be.  We decide to have  a Quesadilla and a Spinach Dip while we gazed below.  This is one of Arkansas's dry counties, so no alcohol. Supposedly the bar serves drinks to members--not sure how that works legally. We are okay with that , however, because we have a two mile mike back to Lady Blue

The views include some comfortable looking farms, Blue Mountain Lake, and the Petit Jean River Valley.
From Cameron Bluff Campground, we drove around the Overlook Drive.  If we had more time, we could have biked the route, it is fairly level and little traffic.
Jan enjoys the nicely engineered overlook.
From the overlooks you can also have good views of the shale and limestone cliffs.
Memo to selves.  Taking selfies into the sun results in big time squinting.
King of the mountain. Master of all he surveys. Nice try , Bruce. In your imagination.
As we point out in the picture from Mt. Magazine Lodge, our next stop is Waveland COE Campground at Blue Mountain Lake.
You will have to enlarge this picture, but above on that ledge you will see Mt. Magazine Lodge.
From Waveland COE, we head west on Route 10 to Booneville for a little grocery shopping and a nice laundromat. From there we head south on Route 23 to Route 71 and Mena where we can pick up our mail.  Another large, quiet, and very pleasant post office. Since it is getting a little later than planned, we note that Queen Wilhelmena State Park is very close.  What we didn't know is that it was pretty much straight uphill for 13 miles and 2,000 plus feet of elevation
Glad we went up, though.  The views were wonderful on the way up.  They even have an old steam engine.
They also have a small track train that offers rides around the plateau in the summer.  The elevation is 2,681 feet on Rich Mountain, the second highest spot in Arkansas.
This was a warm , more humid day. But the views were still quite impressive.

This is another recently renovated State Park Lodge.Follow this link to see more about Queen Wilhelmina Queen Wilhelmina State Park .You will note that the name is a result of Netherlands investors who wanted to name the park after their young queen. We came up here in shorts , but awoke to temperatures in the forties and quite windy.
Route 88 back to Route 71 still offers great views.  Just don't take your eyes off the road.
We were only about 5 or 6 miles from the Oklahoma border at Queen Wilhelmina. Back on Route 71 we head south  to a group of three Corps lakes.  De Queen Lake, Gillham Lake, and Dierks Lake.  We take time to look at campgrounds on De Queen , but are not happy with the sites and the campgrounds.  So off we go to Dierks Lake.  Much happier at Jefferson Ridge.
Our site has plenty of privacy and a great lake view.
We follow Route 71 to Route 371 to Route 355 and Millwood Lake and Cottonshed COE Park. We were a bit skeptical on the road here--a little desolate and very remote.
Nice, level, large sites.  Everyone here is either hunting or fishing.
We can tell we are south when we start seeing these signs.

The trees are the Bald Cypress that have knobby knees around the base of the trunk and are quite happy to grow in the water.
It must be close to Thanksgiving if Jan is preparing Lanttulaatikko, a Finnish turnip casserole.  By the way, you might have noticed that we changed the font type size to large.  Hope this is better. Let us know.