Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sedalia, MO Part I

Sedalia is an old historic town in the middle of Missouri.  My drive from Big Springs NP was uneventful and the Garmin did not lead me astray this time.  I'm here to attend the Escapee Escapade. The Escapade is a national gathering of all the members of the Escapee RV club.  Its quite the deal for some RVers.  There are activities planned everyday from seminars on such mundane things as how to clean your rig to talks on what routes to travel in the North West or Alaska.  

I came here specifically to attend Boot Camp.  Yes, Boot Camp.  Boot Camp is a 2 1/2 day overview of everything you would ever want to know about RVing put on by the Escapees.  Its like a primer to beginning RVing with and emphasis on safety, proper tire inflation, proper weight distribution, proper towing of your vehicle ,proper.... Yawn.  Actually parts were quite informative but the majority was old stuff.  I had signed up thinking that I had a lot more to learn about the plumbing system, electrical system, sewer systems etc and realized I know a lot more than I thought.  In reality you learn more by just talking with other RVers.  

The Escapade this time is held at the Missouri State Fairgrounds.  This place is huge, I mean huge.  There is a sea of rigs as far as the eye can see parked on a huge massive grassy field.   Not my kind of camping but its a necessity for this kind of thing.  Some folks are dry camping and some have full hook ups (i.e. electrical, water, and sewer hooks ups).  I chose to dry camp, after all I have Solar and really don't need electricity except for the Air Conditioner, hair dryer, and microwave.  I have a generator for the aforementioned appliances.  At the last minute I realized that with 85 degree temperatures and humidity about the same there might be a slight problem leaving Sadie in the rig all day. I asked if I couldn't be put somewhere where I could run the generator if necessary so as not to fry Sadie.  I was promptly escorted to the very back of the facility and assigned a space between two very large big rigs.  The big rigs provided a real advantage for me...shade.  I also figured out that since they guys might be using their generators more space was allowed between rigs.  A real plus.  The other guys with the full hook ups were so close to each other they couldn't put their awnings out!

We have had a few days of very warm hot muggy nasty weather.  I'm really a woose when it come to the humidity and was really grumbling, but the air conditioned class rooms helped me keep my "cool" sort to speak.  After the heat then came the rain, and more rain, and did I say rain? So guess what came next.  You have a sea of big rigs parked all on a huge grassy field with tow cars going back and forth to the main areas creating mud and ruts.  So now there is mud, ruts and big 40,ooo pounds rigs that  need to leave the grass on departure day.  Hmmmm.  Sounds like a windfall for AAA and the big rig tow trucks. .  I needed to take my rig over to the main area and have it weighed  (part of the safety thing) It was a little sloppy getting out and I felt pretty confident.  After all, I'm a little guy I only weigh 14,000 pounds  and I have mud and snow tires on the rig.  When I returned I wasn't as confident about getting back into my spot.  Things were pretty sloppy, but I managed and then took off to attend another seminar.  When I returned my rig had sunk down to the hub caps and my heart sunk as well.  I had planned to leave in the morning and there was no way the field was going to get dried out...more rain was predicted for the day and night. 

Well, I handed over  my $100.00 to the tow truck who had to pull me out of the mud . (I was told my AAA Plus didn't have the proper RV endorsement for towing an RVand my RV insurance does have towing but I have to pay first).   It was quite a show with the tow truck and my rig attached to 100 feet or so of cable and the tow truck slowly winching me towards solid ground. The guys with the big rigs all stood around shaking their heads commenting that they hoped things dried out soon because there may not be enough tow trucks to pull everyone out by Friday.  One gentlemen took it upon him self  to shout out steering commands while I was being pulled in reverse to dry land.  I'm glad I'm not his wife.  The guy really didn't know what he was doing but he meant well. The parking detail promptly escorted me to higher ground parking and it promptly started to rain again.  I saw at least three other big rig tow trucks working the area.  Glad I'm not sticking around. 

 I'll be heading to Alley Springs, Mo tomorrow morning to catch up with the WIN group for some more Kayaking...I hope.  With all of the rain, the river may close.  I'll be back to Sedalia in a week to attend the Scott Joplin festival.  However, I'm going to try and avoid the big grassy field.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

Big Springs NP

Sadie is enjoying the grass, although a little miffed because she didn't get to go Kayaking. 

Jam session at Big Springs NP. Lots of talent among the WINs
Turtle convention on the Current
New Fawn 

Big Springs NP is part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways located near Van Buren, Mo.  My drive from Branson, Mo to the area was uneventful.  However, Miss Carmen (my Garmin GPS) really led me astray in leading me to the campground.  Upon my arrival she hollered at me to turn on MO Z which I dutifully obeyed.  I hadn't seen any other signs to the campground so I blindly proceeded following the directions on the screen.  Well, 8 extremely steep, windy, narrow miles later I still wasn't at the campground and the GPS indicated the road was going to turn into dirt.  The whole time I was driving I kept thinking to myself the rest of the WINs are not going to make this road with these grades in their big rigs (32-40 ft).  Even more disconcerting was that I could not find a place to turn around.  To make a long story short I ended up unhooking the Jeep and inching the MH back and forth until I could get it turned around and the hooked up the Jeep and headed back down the mountain to where I began.  I eventually found the camp ground and what a beautiful place it is.  Moral of the story...don't believe the Garmin..

The park was built by the CCC and there are many old beautiful building.  Big Spring is named after the springs that gush out of the stone walls at millions of gph and eventually fan out to different rivers with the Current River flowing by our campsite. 

We took a beautiful hike that meandered around the park and up and over the mountain.  On the way we encountered a new born fawn.  Obviously mama had left instructions to stay put while she was foraging in the lush grass.  The little guy was just gorgeous. 

We took the Kayaks for a nice gentle 11 mile float down the river.  The Current is unusually high due to all of the rain this year.  It was flowing pretty fast and our trip only took 2 hours and 45 minutes.  There wasn't much action on river, i.e no rapids and no one "dumped".  

WIN folks never cease to amaze me.  After all day kayaking we had a nice cookout and Judy entertained us with playing the guitar and singing folk songs.  Life just doesn't get much better.  

I have signed up for the Escapee Escapade in Sedalia so my time in Big Springs was short. Two days in this area is not enough.  I've decided to attend part of the Escapade and return to the area and rejoin the WINs next week.  It is simply too much the weather has turned pretty nice.  

Let's see, can we get anymore Kayaks in Mark's truck?

Pete is enjoying river life

Kirt, Joanne, and Cory enjoy lunch on the beach on the Current River. No, we didn't carry the lounge chairs in the Kayak.  Some kind soul left them on the beach for us. 

All lined up and ready to go down the river.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Treasure Island RV Park and Branson

I'll be leaving Treasure Island RV Park this morning (May 19) and will head for Big Springs State Park near Van Buren, MO.  I've talked with several folks who have been there and it is suppose to be really nice.  Some of the other WINs will be following tomorrow.  I understand there may not be cell coverage or internet coverage in the area.  We shall see.  Speaking of internet coverage, the program I subscribed to using my cell phone as a modem for internet has worked beautifully so far.  I think it is a good compromise to the data card and less expensive ($30.00 pm) and no other equipment to buy. I've had coverage with Verizon everywhere except for a short time in Mountain View, Arkansas and I think that was a tower issue that was fixed. 

The weather in Branson has turned spectacular.  The past two days have been sunny with little humidity.  Some have even complained its been a little two cold.  The lows have been in the 4o's but the early morning has been perfect for hiking.  There is a very nice 4 mile loop just across from my rig which I have walked the past two mornings with Sadie.  Unfortunately,  I have forgotten my camera and have missed some great shots on my walks.  Oh well, I'm sure I'll be back this way next year. 

Yesterday, a few of us ventured towards the outlet malls.  Branson's draw is not only the myriad of live shows but an abundance of shopping malls and outlets.  The area around Branson is rural so many come here to satisfy their shopping fix.  Those of us traveling in motor homes have to be careful because we generally don't have room for compulsive purchases...meaning new item in - old item must go.  I'm happy to say I really didn't contribute much to the economy with my purchase of a pair of Crocs at the outlet and a cookie sheet that actually fits in my microwave oven combination.  

Last night was the big get together with the SI and Escapee Solos along with a few WINs.  It was nice to see some familiar faces, some of whom will be continuing on to the Escapee Escapade in Sedalia later in the week. 


Friday, May 15, 2009

Hello Branson and more on Tyler Bend and the Buffalo River

Breakfast with the SI's at Treasure Island

Joel has got everyone's attention on Table Rock Lake

Buffalo River overlook
WINs at Collier Homestead at Tyler Bend
Buffalo River..the Happy Kayaker

Turtles all in a row on the Buffalo

Buffalo River Canyon

Blue Heron

After a great float on the Buffalo River on Monday a few of us ventured towards Branson, Mo.  The weather just hasn't been cooperating and the next campground for the WINs at Buffalo Point near Yellville has been under construction and reservations are full, so Branson it is.We said our goodbyes with the thought of catching up with the rest of the group later in Sedalia for the Scott Joplin festival.   Branson is only about 80 miles up the road from Yellville so I can always return to Yellville  or the following stop at Van Buren next week or stay at Branson until the Escapee Escapade Rally in Sedalia, Mo on the 22nd. Gosh its nice to be retired and not have a real tight  schedule. 

Getting back to Tyler Bend.  Our 14 mile plus trip down the Buffalo River from Wommer to Tyler Bend was spectacular.  The weather wasn't perfect, but it wasn't raining and the sun poked through occasionally teasing us and the turtles which were in abundance on the shores of the river trying to sun themselves. The river had gone down some and wasn't flowing as fast as it was earlier in the week, but the water level was high enough we didn't encounter too many rapids. The rapids we did encounter were fun and my kayak just glided over them. No dumping here.  My highest speed was 10.5 mph and average was about 3.5 mph (mostly floating). 

The day before our "epic" trip down the river a few of us took a hike up to the Buffalo river overlook and to the old Collier homestead.  The trails in this area are very old but will maintained.  Due to all of the rain, one would have thought that we were in a rain forest.  Everything is so lush and green and wet.  Part of the trail followed an old rock wall which appeared to be a property boarder from olden times.  We hiked up to the overlook of the Buffalo River and "ooo'd and aah'd". I imagined the Indians and homesteaders exploring and floating down the river in canoes and soaking in the  beautiful canyon walls.   

We have hooked up with the SI group (Singles International which is a sub group of FMCA)at Treasure Island RV park in Branson. Bob Hill and Bobbie Shifflet are members of the Treasure Island RV park and have sponsored the SI gathering. As guests of the SIs we are able to stay here at a discounted rate. Bob negotiated a great rate of $10.00.  We have full hook ups, laundry, club house, movie theater..the whole nine yards an RV "resort" should have.  The park is huge with an ambiance suggesting its been established for a a very long time.  Its well maintained with lots of trails and other amenities.  The park has lots of empty spaces reminding us of the economic crunch and probably why Bob was able to get such a good rate. 

The minute we arrived, which was just a few minutes after 12:00, several of the SIs came over and informed us they were going to go to lunch at Lamberts and would we like to join them. The draw to the place is they throw rolls at you and give you all you can eat side dishes.  It sounded interesting so we stopped what we were doing, put Sadie away, and jumped in the car. We forgot to ask how far the drive was.  It took about 45 minutes, I think we were almost to Springfield before we got to the restaurant.  The place is huge and full of grey haired customers. ( an indication of either good food or cheap food). The waiters do throw hot rolls (ymmm) at you ( an excerise in agility for us) and there is an abundance of side dishes to go with your entree.  Our party tried to share an order because there is so much food, but our waitress declined our request because we had already accepted several of the rolls thrown to us.  Oh, well it was fun and we brought home extra rolls for the next day's dinner.   

True to the nature of the SI and WINs there is a myriad of activities to choose from,  from a beading class in old Branson to a show a night.  Some of us opted for the Chinese Acrobats on Wednesday night.  It was a great show which lasted past 10:00, way past some bedtimes.  The theater was not even half full reminding me of the tough economic times we are in.  There were some families but most of the audience was grey haired.   Although the show was great, little did we know the best was yet to come.  

About 11:00 the sky lit up with continuous lightening and rolling thunder and big wind. Poor Sadie hates the wind and the lightening and thunder makes things worse for her.  She was trying to find a small space to hide in...if she could have figured out how to get in the compartment under the bed she would have been there.  After about 1/2 hour the tornado warning sirens went off and the park personal drove around with their sirens to alert folks of the potental tornados.  Apparently we were suppose to head for the nearest bathrooms for safety which was down the street, at least that's what we were told.  After having checked out the bathroom earlier in the day, I opted to stick it out in the rig for a little while, thinking that if the sirens continued I would then dig out the rain coat and head for the bathrooms.  The idea of staying in the warm rig over ruled my thoughts of survival in a  of a mass of humanity and dogs in a small bathroom along with getting totally drenched on route.    The sirens stopped shortly and so did the wind, rain, thunder, and lightening. It took a long time for Sadie to settle down.  She is truely a western dog and fairs much better through earthquakes and snow storms than thunder storms.  Yes indeed, the lightening was quite a show. One I won't forget for a while. 

Friday brought a partially sunny day and 9 of use ventured out to kayak.  We were told that the river was running fast...10mph and that the 9 mile paddle wouldn't take but two hours or so.  The river was flowing fast, but not that fast and it took just a little over 2 hours.  It was obvious we were close to civilization as there were many speed boats and fishing boats on the river.  Quite a contrast compared to what we had encountered on the Buffalo.  I will say that the motor boats we did encounter were vary courteous and either slowed down or came to a dead stop when they came upon us so as not to create too much of a wake and tip us over. 
I' ll be here  at the Treasure Island Park until at least Tuesday.  We are having a cook out with the Escapee Solo's on Monday and I'm looking forward to meeting up with some old friends.  

Friday, May 8, 2009

Moving on

This WIN group is REALLY friendly

 Old Home stead in Lost Valley
Eden falls

Tyler Bend on a foggy morning. 

Buffalo River

Buffalo River finally subsiding.  High water makr was at the middle of the sign. 

On Tuesday we packed up and mosied on down the road about 50 miles to the Buffalo River at the Tyler Bend Park, which is near Saint Joe and about an hour from Harrison, Arkansas.  The roads here rival the mountain curves in the Sierras but even narrower. Plan on an hour to drive 25 miles.  The last county was dry, so it was imperative that we stop at the first liquor store on the way to stock up on wine and whatever, because the next county was also dry.  The liquor store was just that a liquor store.  Not much else was available and it reminded me of a bunker.  There were few windows and one door. We contributed cold hard cash to the economy because they didn't take plastic.  The premium wine was from California, and I ended up purchasing Franzia box wine for $14.00 which is about the same price as in Nevada or California.  Maybe they don't tax as heavily here.  

Tyler Bend is a bend in the river.  The park is really nice.  There are no hook ups so we are dry camping, which is fine with me.  What is really nice about this park is that the spaces are very far a part so that if your neighbor just can't stand the muggy humidity and heat and turns on the generator to use the AC, no worries.. you can barely hear the generator.  There is lots of grass for Sadie which is great.  I'm still cleaning out mud from the last place.  I'm told the showers are nice but I haven't used them.  Hey, for $6.00 a night with water and a dump near by who needs to use the public showers when the showers in the  rig will do just fine. 

The river has risen about 18 ft due to all of the rain and the ranger advised that the river is "closed". I'm not sure how you close a river, but that's what they said.  Apparently, if you decided to kayak and get into trouble they won't rescue you if the river is closed. The weather has been nice the last few days but no Kayaking due to all of the debris and very fast moving water. I think some one said they thought  the river was flowing at  5-6 knots at least. Also, since we are down river a little, we have to be aware of what is about to come down this way. 

Like all good WINs we have entertained ourselves with scenic drives (at least gas is reasonable...$2.19 or less) exploring the area and hiking.  Arkansas, is full of back roads, scenic waterfalls, creeks, rivers, farms, and old buildings.  We took a drive to Lost Valley.  Lost Valley is not too lost because  the Garmin knew where it was and would "recalculate" every time we made a wrong turn or a turn to explore.  We caravaned with several  of the WINs.  Some of the cars were loaded with Kayaks on top  in the hopes that we may find a put-in place, but in reality we were  just to lazy to take them off the car. Also it's a good way to spot each other.  We discovered Arkansas has a Grand Canyon.  Its not quite the same as the GC on Arizona, but pretty impressive and the locals are pretty proud of it.  We had lunch at the Cliff House.. not the one in San Francisco but the one near Lost Valley hanging over the cliff of the Grand Canyon.  The food was good and the price much better than San Francisco. The photos of the Arkansas Grand Canyon  don't do the area justice.  Everything is very green and lush..and of course wet and the bugs are starting to come out.  

The Lost Valley is a campground with an abundance of hiking trails, water falls, creeks and caverns.  I almost felt like I was in Hanna, HI but with different flora fauna.  The water falls are flowing abundantly and the wildflowers are still out .  Everything is steamy and humid.  The hikes to the waterfalls are short and the trails nice and mossy and slippery.. but beautiful.

Eden falls and Silver Creek

Tyler Bend is right on the Buffalo River and our campsite is only about 100 yards from the river but the brush and trees are so thick that you have to take a special trail to get to the river. There are no social trails from the campsites down to the river because the brush is so thick with poison ivy, ticks, and chiggers.   Sadie has enjoyed her morning walks, but she has to stay on the leash while we are near the river because the ranger has advised the water moccasins are little unhappy about the river rising and have headed for higher ground.  The ranger didn't mix words about the dangers of the fast river and the nasty creatures ready to jump in your kayak. I wouldn't want to mix words with the ranger either.  She was a pistol packen momma with 4 clips and at least one taser and she was suppose to be the nicer Ranger.  The other female ranger didn't "carry" but was suppose to be meaner.  She was the collector of fees so we all ponyied up pretty quickly. Actually, they were pretty nice...but I imagine could  be intimidating. 

Some of the WINs have had enough foresight to bring some wood so we have had a nice campfires and there hasn't been rain to dampen them in the least so far.  The moon and stars were very clear the other night and the sound of the tree frogs and night birds made for a really pleasant late spring evening.  

We are scheduled to stay here for a few more days.  The forecast isn't very promising, but its a great group and we can always find something to do.  A few of us may take "WIN" break and head up to Branson, MO to find some city action....dancing, singing, and shows, in a few days. In fact a few left today to find greener pastures, but I think all they will find is wet pastures. 

The Cliff House, a great place to eat

The Arkansas Grand Canyon

A lesson in recognizing poison ivy

Check back in a few days for more up dates.  You might check my previous two blogs as I finally found the video of kayaking the "great rapids " and have added more photos. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Finally some kayaking

Waterfall on the White River

Head 'em up. Move 'em out

Ok, can we get another one on the truck?
Yeah!!!! Today, the weather did cooperate some.  It wasn't perfect but, I'll take it, a little overcast but NO rain.  A great day for kayaking on the White River.  The river was flowing really fast and the 9 plus miles seems to fly by.  Actually, we could have floated in a raft with no problems.   It was a great relaxing morning with no mishaps.  We saw lots of herons, a few waterfalls, along with a very picturesque river.  I'd come back here in a heart beat.  
Afterwards, we contributed to the local economy and purchased a nice meal at Jo Jo's.  The only thing that would have made the meal better was a nice beer to wash the fish and chips down.  Dry counties seem to rule around here. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sylamore Campground


Claudia Kayaking
Sadie on the Sylamore Creek

This has a busy week.  There is so much to do and see around Mountain View, Arkansas.  It been rainy all week, and that has put a slight damper on things but I have managed to have fun.  Sadie has been able to swim almost every morning at the Sylamore Creek which runs through the campground. I usually get up and knock on  John's door to see if he wants to walk with me down to the creek and we have coffee together and let Sadie swim for a long while before the WIN hugs and mugs meeting at 9:00.

Thursday we all went to Blanchard Caverns, which are by far the best caverns I have seen.  They are rated as one of the top caverns in the world and I would agree. The lightyng and presentation were spectacular. I hear  some of our  group liked them so much they took the tour a second time.  Millions of dollars have been spent preserving the caverns and providing  walkways and special lighting  so the public can enjoy them. My photos do not do them justice. 

Friday morning brought some drizzle, but that did not deter me from taking a maiden voyage in my new Kayak.  We kayaked up the creek for a while through some short rapids and continued until we came to a bridge that had rapids we couldn't paddle up.  Here we put out and portaged the kayaks a short distance then headed back down the creek through the rapids under the bridge.  I made it through the rapids without dumping.  Not bad for an old lady.  There is a video floating around somewhere of me shooting the rapids and I'm going to try and get a copy of it.  True to the continuing weather pattern it rained most of the day again.  You asked why we paddles UP the creek vs down the creek.  The creek runs into the White River and the nearest put out is about 14 miles down river.  Since the weather has been extremely uncooperative, rainy with sever thunder showers in the afternoon, we opted not to take a chance, thus a paddle up the river was the "special" of the day.  Tomorrow the weather is suppose to be sunny and we will had down river this time, that if the weather cooperates.

As a mentioned earlier, the area is known for its Folk Art.  Yesterday it poured rain all day. Not just a shower here and there but poured, cats and dogs.  So we decided to go the Ozark Folk Art Center.  This is a very interesting place.  Beware, the volunteers love their job and will talk to you at length for hours about their particular craft they are exhibiting.  One craftman makes small wooden tops and I learned all you would ever need or want to know about how to make tops and where to get the wood and spinners.  We spent the morning and a good part of the afternoon there.  I suspect if it hadn't raining so hard we would spent more  time, however, we were getting cold and were very wet even though most of the exhibits were indoors.  We also sat and listened to a folksy quartet for a long while which was much fun. All that was missing was a nice warm fire. 

Oh, I almost forgot about the night life around here.  To begin with, this is a dry county. There are no liquor stores...even Walmart doesn't sell wine.  You have to drive 18 miles to the next county to get booze, according to some of the WIN members who took the trip and forgot to invite me.  There are no alcoholic drinks sold any where.You're wondering how can there be night life without alcohol and beverages?  Its appears this county knows how. Anyway to get back to the night life.  Every night, except Sunday, there is some kind of folk dance, or folk music going on. We all  joined in the various impromptu jams and concerts and everyone one seems to enjoy the country dancing..including me believe it or not.  I've actually learned to do the two step and the country waltz.  The other night we all went to Taylor & Sons, which is a dance hall of sorts.  It has theater type seats as well as a dance floor.  This costs a grand total of $5.00 to get in.  No alcohol is served but you can get sodas and ice cream for $1.00.  Yes $1.00. The other night we went to the town square and it was raining so the events moved over to the porch of the B&B and we listened to a wonderful quartet for several hours.. free.  The muscians didn't even put out a cup for tips.  Everything is pretty reasonably priced here and I imagine it is a popular weekend spot for the folks living in Little Rock.  

Monday the weather is suppose to be partly cloudy and we are planning our "epic" trip down the White River.  More to follow along with some pictures. 

Kirt shooting the rapids through the bridge.  Claudia  and Claudia 2 look on.  Yes folks there is another Claudia here.  We call her Claudia 2 but we may end going with Claudia Sue( her name) and me as CJ or Claudia Lee. 

Claudia shooting the rapids.