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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Warrior Path State Park, Panther Creek State Park, Fall Creek Falls State Park, and Natchez Trace State Park, Tennessee; Tom Sawyer's RV Park, Merrisach Corps of Engineer Park, Arkansas

Okay.  Don't be too,too surprised, but this installment of the blog will take us up to today.  We left Claytor Lake in Virginia and headed south on Route 81.  You might remember last time that we stopped at a comfortable park in Bristol Tennessee-just over the line--next to the Nascar racetrack.  This time we headed for Warrior Path State Park named for the Great Cherokee War and Trading Path.   Knowing it was Halloween weekend--from past experience--we actually made a reservation.  Not all parks offer this, but Warrior had a picture of each site online which helped us reserve a level good sized site. 
Good thing too, because come Friday night (Saturday was a rain forecast) the park was filled with camping Halloweeners and seemingly visiting Trick or Treaters from the local area(way too many for just campers).  The park set it up quite well with large signs to put on your site marker if you were a "candy stop".
We enjoyed seeing some of the costumes and decorations.
The next stop was further south on Route 81 to Route 160 towards Morristown and Panther Creek State Park.
We really enjoyed this park.  The spacing between sites was great.  And there were a number of choices for hiking trails such as the above picture of the Old Wagon Road Trail that we hiked.
The park has 17 hiking trails for more than 30 miles and 15 miles of mountain biking trails.Don't forget fishing for bass, crappie, bluegill,catfish, rockfish, and bream.
The Wagon Trail follows the stream.
This lake was created by a dam built by the TVA Tennessee Valley Authority on the Holston River in 1940.  The huge lake covers 59 miles in length, and 463 miles of shoreline.  It also provides hydroelectric and flood control. This view is seen along a short scenic loop out of the park.
This unique fireplace is located inside a large group shelter within the campground.
From Panther Creek we head down Route 11 and onto Route 40(Interstate 81 becomes Interstate 40 around Dandridge) .  Traveling past Knoxville we head south on Route 101 in Crossville to Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, Tennessee. This park was voted the best state park in Southeastern United States by Southern Living readers.  Even with a cloudy day, the colors in this camping loop were wonderful.
The park covers 26,000 acres across the rugged Cumberland Plateau.More than 56 miles of trails are offered from easy to difficult.  We tried the Campground trail to the Woodland trail which allowed us to see most of the falls and the Nature Center.
This is Fall Creek Falls from above. One of the highest waterfalls in the Eastern United States at 256 feet.
We took a picture of a young couple at the Cane Creek Falls and they returned the favor.  We are smiling because they were impressed that we were hiking this distance with some steeper sections.  We smiled!!
Note to hikers. 
Go down that steep trail to the overlooks because sometimes those views are superb.
Our new hiking poles came in quite handy.
We wish all trails could be as rewarding.
An unexpected surprise. A swinging suspension bridge.
I think Jan would agree.
An adventure all by itself.
HOLD ON!!
Look at Jan---all smiles!!
By the way, you have to return over the same bridge.
We enjoyed our site--all sites well separated. Even picked up some heat treated firewood to enjoy.  By the way, most state parks and some others are now supplying heat treated firewood to keep the infestations down. Most mentioned is the ash beetle.
There is this wonderful scenic drive in the park.  The park also has a campstore, clothing store(called outfitters), swimming pool, snack bar, laundromat, Arbortrek Treetop Obstacle Course, 18 hole golf course, tennis courts, lodge and restaurant.
We could easily have added more nights here.
One stop along the drive
This part is a single lane road through colorful woods.
As nice as some of the New England colors we had seen.
More yellows.
This is the website for Fall Creek Falls.
Note that there are at least 30 modern fully equipped cabins for rent, some of which are seen on this website page


At a private campground stop in Lebanon.(Cedars of Lebanon State Park was full) This is a 1950's Chevrolet pickup truck. Not sure of the date, but early 50's had a split windshield. This link will show you some in great shape( $14,000 to $40,000)


A little closer to show you that those trees are growing right up through the bed(what used to be the bed) of the truck. The inside of the cab is not much better.
From Fall Creek Falls we continued to the south entrance to Route 111 north to U.S. 70 west. That took us to Route 231 to the private campground and then Route 40 .
Instead of following Route 40 through Nashville, we took Route 840 around.  A little west we head off to Natchez Trace State Park.
We had been here before and we still find this a very relaxing, enjoyable park.  When you come at the right time, you have a good chance of a watersite like ours above.
In the park was this old refurbished trailer.
While we could not say exactly the year or model for this one, these two websites may help a bit.  If you scroll through the second one, you will find a link to the famous"Long,Long Trailer" clip with Lucy and Rick and their 1953 Mercury plus trailer.
Note --no vents or AC units on the roof, no storage bins underneath, no sign of hot water vent, refrigerator vent, etc.  We will bet that the interior is wood and quite beautiful.
First website for old travel trailers 
Second link to old trailers 
A warm afternoon. Perfect for outside gawking and reading.
From Natchez Trace we continue south and west to Lexington and then north on Route 20 and 412 to Route 40 and west to West Memphis, Arkansas.  Right before crossing the Mississippi River is this iconic Bass Pro Shop . Also a big thank you to the staff at St. Jude Hospital , very visible from Route 40.  Have to certainly appreciate the work they do.
A cloudy day on the Mississippi
Back to another one of our favorite stops--Tom Sawyer's RV Park on the west shore of the Mississippi River in Arkansas. 
From Lady Blue we can sit and watch the barges go north and south.
At the inland side of the park is the laundromat. Way up high.
Why? Note how high the river got in 2011. This park is geared for floods.  There is plenty of notice when the great river is going to flood, so they calmly remove all important infrastructure , ask all campers to leave, and button up until the river recedes.
Jan and I then head back to Route 40 west for a short ways and take Route 79 south to Route 1, Route 49, and then Tichnor for Merrisach Lake Corps of Engineer Park.  The route takes us through mile after mile of cotton fields and other agriculture.
The park is on a lake that is also part of the Arkansas River travelway with locks for barges to travel towards the Mississippi or north towards Little Rock.  We found a great walk-in site on the shoreline and were soon surrounded by many hunters in the other sites. A note though, to be clear, all those hunters were here when this picture was taken. Good separation between sites. Modern Weapon Deer Hunting Season started on Saturday, November 11th.  By noontime, we noted three sites had caught their deer--two doe and one good sized buck.
From Lady Blue--a great view of an Arkansas sunset.
Another favorite COE park to add to the list, even though a bit off the beaten path.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Ives Run COE , Pennsylvania; Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive,Virginia;Claytor Lake State Park, Virginia

Part Four of our catch up October pictures.
We left The Old Mill in Westminster, Mass. and headed west to a very comfortable Travelers Wood of New England Campground  in Bernardston, Mass. off Route 10 and 5. From there we headed south on Route 91 to the Mass Pike and west into New York.  We prefer heading over the Hudson River to Route 87 to keep south of Albany.  Then we pick up Route 88 south  towards Binghamton where we meet Route 86 and 17 west to Route 15 south just past Corning, New York. Then we jump off at Route 287 in Tioga, Pennsylvania and head towards one of our absolute favorite campgrounds, Ives Run Corps of Engineer Park . The picture above is on the road (one mile) between the hookup sites and Pine Camp (dry camping) where we like to stay-$10 per night for seniors with the Senior Pass.
On the same road-we like to walk-looking towards the dam on Hammond  Lake. This website connects to a 20 minute youtube review by a popular RVing couple Wheelingit.  Ives Run Video   This is their website which has a number of videos from a recent visit to Acadia National Park in Maine .  Wheelingit
We saw a lot of Woolly Bear caterpillars.  From what we saw, we are guessing a mild winter.  Check this website for the legend of the weather predicting caterpillar. The Old Farmers Almanac on Woolly Bear Caterpillars
From Tioga, we head down Route 15 to Williamsport, Route 220 west and south past Penn State University in State College. Then to Route 22 south to Route 26 and Seven Points COE in Saxton ,Pennsylvania.  The picture above is proof that Jan has been taking turns driving-this time on some mountainous roads.  Not only that, but she has been enjoying it!
From Sevent Points we continue south on Route 26 towards Bedford, Pa and pick up Route 30 to Route 70 in Breezewood. That connects us to Route 522  and eventually Route 81 into Virginia.  This section takes us on a quick trip through a short section of Maryland, and a little longer in West Virginia.
For this trip Jan and I decided to follow Route 81 to Route 211 in New Market and east through Luray to the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. 
That route turned out to be longer both in mileage and time than jumping onto the Drive in Front Royal.  But once on the Skyline Drive, we relax and take in views.  Traffic is light. Yea!
The campground gets busy on the weekend and we are lucky to get one of the last sites.  With our Senior Pass the entrance to the National Park is free and our campsite(dry camping) was $10 per night.
Big Meadows, like other stops along the Skyline Drive , intersects the Appalachian Trail.  There are a number of hikes you can take from this stop.  A great abundance of milkweed( think food for Monarch butterflies among other uses). Shenandoah website
We enjoyed our hike to the visitors center( in the trees) and around the big meadow.  How big?  Note that below the blue V  in the lower right are two people hiking a path much closer to the road.
What you see in the foreground are many opening pods of milkweed.
A little hazy, but still great views.
Jan and Bruce --still working on the selfie thing.
One of the things we enjoy so much on the Skyline Drive is the many opportunities to stop and enjoy a view like this.  We are again quite happy to have little traffic.
Foliage is not the same as up north.  But , now and then a quite colorful tree.
Eustis is enjoying his commanding view.
From a turnout.
Occasionally , a flamboyant red.
A little clearer.  The stone walls add to the views.
In all , we traveled about 75 miles on the Skyline Drive with a first overnight at Big Meadows and the second at Loft Mountain.  In case you are wondering, the speed limits are mostly 35 miles per hour. But there are many stops for views.  The entire Skyline Drive is 105 miles. It then connects to the Blue Ridge parkway which stretches for 469 miles to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This is an unusual home made truck camper. This was at Loft Mountain Campground.  This is a popup camper and the ring of lighter color fabric disappears when it is closed. 
We hiked down to the store and laundromat (accessible to campers and all on the Appalachian Trail).  Just happened to walk into the Amphitheater.  What a view!!.  Also --after heavy rains--this day is clearer.
Well Bailey---- I don't think we have ever seen a Westphalia this color.  Not sure what year.
More color at higher elevations. We notice some brighter yellows which we think are poplars.
At Waynesboro-the end of the Skyline Drive and beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway--we head west on Route 64 to Route 81 south to Dublin, Virginia and Claytor Lake State Park.  This is another one of our favorite parks.  This view is from the Lake Shore Trail.
Of course, we get to the park and have only one choice of sites in the electric area(a cold night).  And the next night all sites in that area are taken. Why? Halloween weekend.  But we found this dry camping site that was perfect.