10/28/18 Ville Platte, LA.

DAY #10

Woke up today and prepared to do what every real man (no?) does on Sunday,  watch football!  I was able to get over the air reception and while it was only NBC, CBS, and sometimes Fox (its reception kept going in and out), channels that I normally seldom if ever watch.  The gods were with me this day because those otherwise (in my opinion) quality devoid stations which were the only ones I could get were the only ones that had football.  So I made myself comfy and vegged through the games.  I know sitting in a tiny trailer (on the bed) in the woods of Louisiana watching TV on a little screen may not sound cool and adventurous (oh god, you’re right it’s not),  but the weather was nice and the environment was tranquil and  just kicking back in Louisiana was OK.  I then prepared for the big game of the week; Vikings vs Saints on Sunday night football.  Sitting in Louisiana while a resident of Minnesota and therefore someone identified as a Viking fan, seemed almost magical (OK, I’ll go with that), I thought yes, I am the good luck charm this teams going to take to victory.  Hey we lost and I guess I wasn’t the good luck charm after all, I was just another disappointed fan.

By early afternoon about 98% of the park was empty again.  The weekend campers had packed up and headed home, and once again the park was mine.

It is bothering me a little bit that I’m not getting out and about as much as I think I should.  I haven’t been getting photos or doing a lot of meandering.  I think I’ve gotten into such a rut that in many ways I’m almost stuck. I don’t want this tiny trailer to become my hideout from the world like home in Osakis has so often been. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to have a place where we can feel safe & secure, but not as a place to hide, rather, as a place to live.  I know the things I need to do and how to do them, it’s just getting off my ass and getting it in gear…argh!!!

Just thinking while in my introspective mood, when Marcia died, I remember feeling like a little boy in a huge crowd suddenly lost from his loved one, sometimes I still feel that way.

10/27/18 Ville Platte, LA.

DAY #9

When the sun set the night before it was quiet in the campsite, I was one of only a few there.  Waking up Saturday morning though brought a different scene.  The park (at least around me) had almost filled up with trailers and pickups.  It was OK to have some human noise, at least for a little while.  So far at the parks I’ve stayed, it’s been really quiet.

I still haven’t hooked up my water, I deep pushing it to the next site.  I guess there’s that fear that when I hook it up it wont work or worse yet, blow a line somewhere and water, water everywhere.  It does help when the bathrooms at the parks are in decent condition and the one’s at this park were no exception.  I was able to shower and other stuff without that never fails someone wanting to use the toilet or shower when you’re using it.  LEAVE ME ALONE, DAMMIT.  You should be able to tell, I don’t like when that happens.

Went into Ville Platte and while it’s rundown and well past its prime, it still retains some interesting architecture, mainly in the homes.  You get outside the city (pop. 7500) and the homes are really, really nice.  Most are set back from the road with a large well-groomed lawn around them devoid of any trees.  Almost all are made of brick, long and low to the ground with large sweeping roofs. In Ville Platte itself, the homes were for the most part old, small, and in need of a sprucing up.  the side streets were narrow and dark with trees and poverty.  The area is approx. 60% black and 40% white and you can tell pretty easily where the white folks live and where the black folks live.  Having said that, what I did see were people (black & white) interacting with and seemingly getting along with one another.  It seemed more normal to me here than it does back in Minnesota.  I liked the people around here, seemed friendly in a genuine way.

Coming back to the campsite was a bit interesting.  It was getting dark and talk about a long four miles.  Wasn’t sure where I was going (I didn’t know where I was going under  ideal conditions), and the trees were so thick that they created an almost fence like effect, and add to that the fast fading light.  About this time a thought came to me; man, you are a city boy aren’t you?  OK, I manned up and put my fears aside (at least for the next mile) and finally (Whoop Whoop!!) there was the campsite.  Nice way to end the day.

What, no photos again?

10/26/18 Ashdown AR.-Ville Platte, LA


After two days of rainy, misty weather, the sky’s cleared and this vagabond was once again on the road.  Today’s destination; Chicot State Park, outside Ville Platte, LA.

The weather up to this point has been (overall) solid.  Yea it was a little cool in Iowa and Northwestern Arkansas (NWA), but warmed up nicely (low 70s) on the drive into Louisiana.  The drive itself was pretty uneventful, the land becoming very flat but with lots and lots of trees.  I again mixed my road selection with some state highways, along with some interstate.  The interstate was actually OK, this part of Louisiana is so heavily forested and so quiet (traffic wise) that the freeway had almost the same intimacy that I get taking the other roads.  I did observe (I like that word) that unlike truck stops/gas stations along other interstates around the country where you’ll see the station with all its lights and signs right at the top of the exits, in Louisiana, you don’t see that.  You go up on the ramp and then turn left or right and they’ll be just down the road 1000.’  It kind of makes it feel like there are no stations along the interstate and with the truck getting blah mileage, I did have a few moments of anxiety, but I was able to adapt and survived.

I arrive at what I thought was the park around 3:30 in the afternoon. I had dutifully listened to my copilot (google) as she ended up bringing me to the edge of the park but miles away from the entrance.  It seems google hasn’t gotten to this place yet.  OK now what, I started on back to the main road (a two-mile narrow two lane road) while deciding on how to get to the park entrance.  I really don’t like it when you get on a bumpy, bouncy road with the trailer.  It feels like its going to come loose from the hitch.  Thankfully, I had remembered seeing a sign for the park not far from where goggle had instructed me to turn, so I went back, found it and followed it and subsequent other signs directing me to the park.  After about another 20 minutes,   I made it to the main entrance and checked in.  YEA, Happy Ending.

The campsite was four miles from the entrance and wow, talk about being in the sticks, but it was nice.  Found my site, backed in, unhooked, set up and kicked back. I was ready to hang out in Chioct State Park and the surrounding area for the next four days.DSC_0083 (2).JPGDSC_0084 (2).JPG

Did you know that Chicot State Park is the largest State Park in Louisiana.

10/24-25/18 Ashdown, AR.

DAY #6

DSC_0070 (2).JPGHere I am in Southern Arkansas.  the park is just off the road so getting in was quick and easy, which was nice.  Really quiet in the park, just a handful of other campers.  It does make it convenient with so few people especially when you want to use the bathroom or take a shower (no, no water in the trailer yet, I don’t know why I’m dragging my feet).  Had not slept very well up to this point and with the misty, overcast, and cool weather, I finally was able to get some sleep. Some sleep, geez, it was most of the day.  Did go into Ashdown later in the afternoon to visit the local Wal-Mart and checked the town out a little bit.  Sadly, another small town where time has moved on. (no pictures? ugh!).

DAY #7

The next day started out chilly and rainy and continued that way throughout the day, it was pretty much a washout.  I just hung around the trailer and putted around on the internet.  I have a hot spot on my phone so I can use my laptop, but man, it can be brutally slow.  Also didn’t get any TV reception (dear god NO…) and I’ve got to say, I’ve really been conditioned to have TV on even if its background noise.  I really noticed it sitting around today.  Another thing noticed were the trucks loaded with lumber rumbling along the road day and night. The park is located below an elevated roadway which runs across a dam about a quarter-mile down the road.  I’ve noticed a lot of lumber activity around these parts.  They bring the trees into Ashdown where a huge plant is located.

All in all, a couple of uneventful (but relaxing) days in which I didn’t do much.  I did happen to see in meandering around what little I did, an interesting and unique way of apartment rentals. Yes, there old rail box cars converted to apartments and located out in the middle of nowhere.DSC_0077 (2).JPGDSC_0075 (2).JPG

Arkansas is as I said earlier a very pretty state.  I’ve enjoyed my time here and would come back any day.  Now it’s time to get ready to hit the road again for new sites.  Onward to Louisiana.

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10/23/18. Rogers-Ashdown AR.

DAY #5

DSC_0065 (1).JPGToday didn’t start out that great.  Another cool but clear morning.  It was neat (am I dating myself?) to see the  stream coming off the water.  After putting everything in its place and getting the trailer hooked up, I took one last look around my lake front camp site and off I went.  It was a really tight turn out of the campsite and also uphill.  I turned it as sharp as I could (I did not want to have to back the trailer going down hill in a really tight space) and in the process scraped something on the passenger side of the truck.  I thought man, that’s not good.  I got out and checked and saw the damage was limited to the hook being scratched, not that big of a deal.  Still it kind of freaks me when my stuff isn’t all shiny and new.  Maybe one thing I can learn from this journey is to not sweat the small stuff and if you don’t, it’s OK.

So, after about fifteen minutes I picked myself up from the ground where I had been laying in the fetal position and went on my way.  ALERT:  That last sentence was supposed to be humorous.  The humor is in the absurdity of the situation.  I guess maybe if I have to describe it, it ain’t that funny.

Took no freeways today and man, it was a long day on the road.  Twisty, curving, up and down from start to finish.  The one good thing I didn’t have to deal with was that omnipresent slow car ahead of you on two lane roads, today I was that person!

Arkansas is a very pretty state.  Thick with trees nestled within soft topped mountains. It does throw off a laid back vibe, I’m liking it here.DSC_0068 (2).JPGDSC_0067 (2).JPGAround four in the afternoon reached the next destination, Millwood State Park, which is approx. nine miles outside of Ashdown, Arkansas.

10/22/18. NW Arkansas.

DAY #4

The day started off well, not too cold (low 50’s again) and the sky’s were clear and blue. I haven’t hooked up the water yet in the trailer (fingers crossed when I do) so it was nice to have the bathroom just a short walk away.  After preparing for the day (shall we say), I locked the trailer door (Sadly even out here) and headed off to Lowell, AR.DSC_0042 (1).JPGDSC_0046 (1).JPG

As I was driving out of the park and looking around I thought yeah, this is really a nice place, in spite of the not so trailer friendly getting into campsites.  Did a little reading beforehand and found out this lake is the creation of damming up the beaver river and creating this huge reservoir.  What I saw from my campsite was just within one of the many bays that make up the lake. It also supplies a large percentage of drinking water for folks in NW Arkansas.DSC_0044 (1).JPGDSC_0045 (1).JPG

Made it into Lowell and stopped at the local Camping World to buy a sink cover so that I would have more counter space.  The only ones they had were white or butcher block and I choose the white.  It said universal fit so I thought hey, what could go wrong?  I also bought an additional 25′ of hose for water and while I looked at a power cord extension, I decided to forgo it at this time (hope it doesn’t come back to bite me in the behind, uff da.).  From there it was off to meander around what’s today called NW Arkansas. After driving around for a while I found myself a bit disappointed in what I saw.  Mind you, the area is prosperous and shiny and new but it lacks character (good or bad), it’s anywhere USA.  Character, it’s one of the things we’ve lost.  We’ve become one homogeneous nation.  Doesn’t matter where you go, the stores all look the same and sell the same products. the foods taste the same and are sold by the same companies.  The news the same because it comes from the same people and the same place.  Consistency is the mantra of the marketing world and by the looks of it, they’ve done a damn good job, but at what cost?    There was a time when we were a nation of regions each with its own distinct culture, and it made it fun to explore around America. (Hey, I’m feeling like that easy rider guy, went looking for america and couldn’t find it).  I knew coming on this trip that for the most part things have changed, but there are still remnants (I’m hanging on to that) even in NW Arkansas of the past, of what it used to be like (good and bad).

NW Arkansas today comes from the merging of many small towns in the area through the spread (blight) of urban sprawl.  It used to be the towns of Bentonville, Rogers, Springfield, and other smaller hamlets each separated by fields and woods.  With the growth of Wal-Mart over the years, the area has outgrown its roots.

I had to stop in Bentonville and see the original Wal-Mart.  I have to admit it was kind of cool to see.  Like it or not, the guy started from nothing and build the biggest retailer in the world, that’s an accomplishment.DSC_0049 (1).JPGDSC_0059 (1).JPGIt’s located in the town square and it’s still open for business.

DSC_0057 (1).JPGAfter walking around the square and taking photos of the store, it was time to head back to the campsite.  I was about to open my truck door I glance down and there was a small wad of money.  I picked it up and counted it ($35.00), looked around and saw no one.  I stayed in the truck for about ten minutes to see if anyone came back and no one did so thanks Arkansas, I do appreciate it.  I guess this is my version of winning the lottery since I am not lucky.

Made it back to the campsite and tried my new sink cover and surprise…it didn’t fit.  After playing around with the feet of it for awhile I was able to make it usable but not the way it should look.

All in all a pretty good day in NW Arkansas.

10/21/18 Winterset IA,-Rogers AR.

DAY #3

Up early (hadn’t been sleeping very well) and after hooking up the trailer and squaring everything away, it’s off to another long day on the road.  I decided after conferring with my co-pilot (goggle maps) to do what I had just said I wanted to do little of, and that’s take the freeway.  I was looking at an eight-hour drive, and towing the trailer is still new to me (trailer anxiety) so I decided to take the safe, expedient, and yes, boring way to the next stop.

Leaving Iowa and travelling through Missouri was uneventful.  It’s a nice enough looking place but nothing to really WOW you, of course being on the interstate tends to dull ones senses to the surroundings.  A couple of things though did catch my attention. One was an old semi-trailer sitting in a field along the interstate.  On the side was spray painted, “Are you a producer or a parasite?  Then below that was added, “Republicans are producers, Democrats are parasites”.  One thing I’m sensing so far is that (for good or for bad), I think Donald Trump is more popular than most who oppose him may think. I did get a laugh out of the message. Another interesting tidbit (at least to me) is they grow pecans in the southern part of the state.  It wasn’t until getting into far southwest Missouri that the landscape began to change and get more interesting.  That change continued as I entered Arkansas where I was immediately welcomed by forests and hills.  Not long after entering Arkansas I came into Rogers and then onto the campsite that was another 10 miles of twisting, curvy, uphill road.  The truck got quite a workout with all the shifting and accelerating going up grade.  I got to the campsite and checked in, then drove to the site and thought, NO WAY!  To park the trailer you would have to back down a hill then make a 90 degree turn to back into the site.  as a novice (hell I’m a newbie), no way did I want to try this especially after what I had just done.  I took a wrong turn into the campgrounds after checking in and came to a closed road.  As I backed up and the trailer turned to about a 90 degree angle, it made some grinding metallic sounds (not good).  In my defense, there wasn’t very much space but gee, I really didn’t do a very good job.  Oh well, lesson learned.  I stop to look at the damage expecting the worst and thankfully, I didn’t see any (thank you, thank you, thank you). Fueled by that good fortune I go back to the office and explain my situation (limitations) and long story short, I get a new site.  It’s nice, it faces the water.  Hooked everything up and settled in at Rocky Branch Campground.DSC_0039 (1).JPGDSC_0064.JPG


10/20/18 Winterset, Iowa.

DAY #2

Coming into Pammel State Park was in many ways a sharp departure of the Iowa I had just driven across.  Gone were the miles of flat fertile farm land where stands of trees stood in fertile fields,  a remembrance to the homesteads of old, and replaced with hilly country roads and trees, lots of trees along with an out cropping of shale hills.DSC_0006 (2).JPGDSC_0025.JPG

The day started chilly (had the heater on in the trailer overnite) but with the clear sky’s and bright sun, it warmed up to be a nice (if somewhat cool-low 50’s) day.  Left the park and headed into the town of Winterset, It’s a small town with a lot of late 19th and early 20th century brick buildings standing and still in use.  To me it had the feel of a small college town but without the college. The town and Iowa for that matter felt alive and relatively prosperous.  The town is known as the birthplace of John Wayne and there’s a museum there.  I didn’t go in (didn’t even take a picture, what kind of American am I?), but if you’re a fan, this should be on your bucket list pilgrim.DSC_0021.JPG

Winterset is also noted as the locale for the Book ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ and the movie was in part filmed here.  I really liked the film, I found it to be a moving love story, underrated in my mind.  Central to the movie and the area are the covered bridges.  While not ‘blow your mind’ cool, they are interesting in that they do take us back to a different time.  A couple of the bridges are within towns (One in Winterset, and the other in St. Charles) and are more like displays to me.  Because of that, I didn’t take pictures of them.  I wanted the ones that were still true to their location. To find those bridges required going a down a number of dirt roads with my somewhat trusted google co-pilot guiding me along.  The Bridges are isolated in their location and really, that only makes it cooler when you come upon them.DSC_0009 (2).JPGDSC_0008 (2).JPGDSC_0032 (2).JPGDSC_0029.JPGDSC_0033 (2).JPG

The most famous of the bridges is the Cedar Bridge which was filmed for the movie.DSC_0037.JPGUnfortunately, it was burned (for the second time) in early 2017 by a jilted lover.  I believe it’s beginning to be rebuilt.  In checking it looks like I forgot one of the bridges.  Oops, I’ll have to get it next time.

All in all just a very scenic and tranquil day in this sliver of America.DSC_0013.JPGDSC_0018.JPGDSC_0024.JPGDSC_0016.JPG


10/19/18 Osakis-Winterset IA.


DAY #1.

DSC_0004 (1).JPGAfter a lovely sunset over Lake Osakis the night before, the morning began warm (for this fall) and clear, a perfect send off to start the trip.  I locked up the house, hooked up the trailer to the truck and at 8:20, hit the road, beginning the long trip.

I don’t like freeways, I find them boring, and because of that I try to use them as little as possible, and I don’t see this trip as being any different. It’s not that I’m averse to using them,  they’re great for making time and far less fatiguing, it’s just that you don’t ‘see’ and ‘feel the countryside your travelling through and on this trip, that’s what it’s all about.

As the miles added up, cruising down the state highways and county roads of Minnesota and then into Iowa I could see the small towns, and farms with their combines in the fields getting in the fall harvest.  The sky remained clear and the weather warm and the truck was running just fine towing the trailer, even with a really strong wind out of the NW.  Google maps (my co-pilot) gave me accurate (if sometimes slow) instructions and down the road we went.  The only down side was the truck reading 8.9 mpg. I knew mileage was going to be bad but I was still hoping for a little better. After my second stop to fill up, I found myself thinking, I’m going to be seeing a lot of gas stations on the trip, kind of a bummer.

Eight hours after leaving Osakis, arrived at Pammel State Park just outside Winterset, IA,  and pulled into the site to hook up. Nice place and I was kind of surprised that there were quite a few trailers there camping.  Set up went as planned until I went to plug-in for electric.  It seems the box was farther away than 25′ from the trailer and my power cord wasn’t long enough (it’s 25′).  I thought no problem, I have an extension power cord.  I got it and went to plug it in and guess what?  It didn’t work.  The end that plugs into the site box fit but the other end that plugs into the trailer was a  different configuration than what I needed.  Thankfully I had a plan B.  I took my outdoor extension cord and plugged that in and yeah, had power in the trailer.  I wouldn’t suggest doing this on a RV that uses a lot of power but for my little trailer, it worked fine.DSC_0038.JPG

Day one started well and finished well.  It was a long day on the road.



20181013_114445 (2)The count downs begun and with this rainy, cold and winter’s coming (too fast) weather,  I’m ready to hit the road.  Friday morning the trip begins and while I’m excited, I’ve got to admit, I’ve still got butterflies.

Got a phone call today from Florida State Parks informing me that the camp ground at Three Rivers State Park located in Sinead, FL, has closed because of Hurricane Michael and they’re not sure when it will reopen. scheduled to be there from November 27, thru December 6, and right now, not sure how to work it out.

That’s one thing about travelling and it goes true in life as well, expect the unexpected and just roll with the flow.  I know it may sound trite but if you stop and think about it, it works (at least it does for me).

The count downs begun.