Rainy Travel Day

Monday May 21st 2018

Today was a rainy travel day. It was raining when I got up this morning. Preparing to leave the park was a messy wet task. I got on the road at ten fifteen a little later than I’d planned.

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One of many pretty flowers at my destination RV park.

It rained most of the way south through Michigan and Indiana. Most of the time is was just heavy enough to require the windshield wipers, but there were a couple of heavy storms with lightening visible. It was still raining when I arrived at my destination in Crawfordsville IN shortly after two. This area is in the eastern time zone, but I passed through an area of Indiana that is in the central time zone. It made it rather confusing keep track of my progress and I wasn’t sure what time zone I was in until I checked in. Tomorrow I will move into the central time zone for the next month and a half.

I hate my GPS, or I don’t know how to trust it. I have an RV GPS which is supposed to route you on RV appropriate roads. Its idea of appropriate and mine don’t really align. Today’s journey was routed on a combination of Interstate highways, US routes, numbered state routes and for some reason non numbered local roads. The GPS routed me through downtown Lafayette Indiana when there were ways around the city streets. This is when my trust issues came into play.

The GPS called for a left turn in 400 feet. It didn’t say the road name. There were two possible left turns ahead. I pulled up to the first one just as the GPS said turn left in 200 feet, so I went on to the next intersection. As I passed it became obvious that I’d missed the correct turn. I turned around in a pizza place’s parking lot and got back on track. Now I’m thinking I can’t trust the distance instructions. I’m now directed down one way streets in the middle of the downtown area. The GPS starts calling for another left turn. This time I turned one block too early. I navigated around a large city block to get back on track. I finally made it across the city to US 231 south. It was easy travel from there.

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Setup on site 34 at the Crawfordsville KOA after the rain stopped.

Tomorrow I’m traveling west about two hundred and seventy five miles to Hannibal Missouri. It is almost all Interstate Highway travel. The GPS can stay in view mode. I’ll be in the town of Mark Twain’s birth for two nights, before moving deeper into the state.

More Travel Planning

Sunday May 20th 2018

To borrow from the TV announcer, “Now we resume our regularly schedule blogging.” I spent a couple of nights in a hotel about thirty miles from here while I attended a family wedding. It was a fun gathering and a beautiful wedding. I enjoyed catching up with family and eating too much.

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Campground pond during this weekend’s murky weather.

When I returned to the RV park Saturday afternoon, the place was near full and very active. Kids were riding bicycles on all of the roads, adults were gathering around campfires and music was blaring from several sites. It was so different from the nearly empty quiet campground I left on Thursday morning. I was nearly oblivious to it all. I needed sleep. While I got back to my hotel at a reasonable time each night, I didn’t sleep well. I went to bed early and got up late this morning.

Today started off cool, cloudy and damp. Around noon the rain showers that have been in the area all weekend returned. This evening the storms have passed through the area, but are forecast to be around again tomorrow. I’m traveling south tomorrow toward the Indianapolis area. I hope I can avoid the storms.

I spent the day laying out my travel plans for the month of June in detail. With a lot of research, I have booked a little over a week in the Branson Missouri area and two weeks on the Arkansas river near Little Rock Arkansas. From there I’ll move on to the Memphis area for another week or two if I can find a reservation for the Fourth of July holiday week. My fall back position will be south of Memphis in Mississippi, but the further south I go the heat and humidity will increase.

During July I will check out the Nashville area then move east into North Carolina for the end of July into the beginning of August. From there I’ll continue north into Pennsylvania, New York and New England for the fall months. When the open campgrounds in New England dry up at the end of October, I’ll head back south toward Florida. I’ve set a reminder on my cell phone so I won’t forget to make reservations in Memphis, Nashville and North Carolina. I need to lock in the holiday periods.

 

Back in Spring Time

Wednesday May 16th 2018

I finally got a good nights sleep. It didn’t rain last night, so I wasn’t dragged out of sleep by the sound of rain on the roof. Constant rain isn’t as big a problem, but rain starting and stopping wakes me up every time it returns. Today was a nice sunny day with a high temperature in the low seventies.

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New bright pink blossoms are a sure sign of spring.

My journey north from Florida over the last few weeks has been a journey back in time, if you judge time by the progress of spring. I first saw signs of spring in Tennessee. The trees all had a full set of new leaves. The leaf color was still a light green, not the full dark green of summer. There was no sign of buds or flowers in the trees. One hundred and fifty or so miles north in the middle of Kentucky it was earlier spring. The leaves on the trees were a little younger and there were fallen buds and flowers under some trees. Maybe a weeks difference in time by driving north.

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Trees with a fresh crop of new leaves.

At my stops in Indiana, another hundred and fifty miles north, the flowering trees were still in full bloom. I would guess that represents another week of time travel to earlier spring, but I traveled the distance in a single day. My current stop in Michigan is less than one hundred miles further north, but a noticeable difference can still be observed. Not all the trees have all their new leaves and the flowering trees seem to be early in their brilliance. Overall, I’ve spent close to three weeks traveling north, but I’m now experiencing spring more than three weeks earlier than when I started. A little math says I’ve gone back in time six weeks. I don’t think it is quite as pronounced in the fall.

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Early Spring or late, there is always a Robin.

These are really just observations. I’m not complaining. It is much better than not having seasons to experience. In Florida the change is much less pronounced and out in the southwest it is even more subtle. Seasons, climate and weather are the big three in variables as you travel around the USA.

Travel Day into Michigan

Tuesday May 15th 2018

The rain and thunderstorms were pretty much over by midnight. This morning it was humid and cloudy, but trying to dry out. This afternoon fifty or so miles north the sun was out and the temperature topped out around 70 degrees. There isn’t a lot of rain in the revised forecast until the weekend.

I woke up later than normal and got a slow start this morning. I had plenty of time since checkout wasn’t until noon and I only had about seventy total miles to travel. For some reason I had completed a different set of tasks ahead of time than the tasks I normally complete. This morning I had to wash a sink full of dishes before I could clear the counters. It had me out of sync for my whole travel preparation. I finally left the campground a little after 11am.

The people setting up for the rally were probably glad to see me go. The actual start of the rally is Thursday, but today the rally staff were issued golf carts from a huge flat bed truck that arrived at the campground. All of the guys were driving around checking out their new toys. Several of them gave my rig a good stare. Finally, one guy decided to ask if I was with the rally. When I told him I was getting ready to leave, I got a sales pitch for the rally even though he admitted they were going to need all of the campground sites.

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Site 84 at the Coloma/St. Joseph KOA near Benton Harbor MI.

The drive north was uneventful passing through farm lands on US routes most of the way. The last few miles were on Interstate routes. I stopped for gas at the station I had checked out using Google Maps satellite view. It turned out OK, but had less space than I prefer. The gas fill location on my motorhome is on the rear of the coach. That’s good for the few times you have to fill from the opposite side, but it means the motorhome sticks out 35 feet beyond the pump. In the other direction the towed car with the tow bar extends twenty feet. I have to be conscience of what I’m blocking.

This area still has flood warnings in place. On the drive today it was easy to see why. The streams and rivers were out of their banks. In some areas the water was very close to the road. It won’t take much more rain or consolidation down stream to have real problems. The amount of lakes and rivers in this area is one of the things I didn’t expect. I was expecting rolling farm land. Water didn’t factor into my preconceived notions.

I arrived at the Coloma/St. Joseph KOA just before 1pm. Many of the sites were underwater, but I was assigned to a site that was dry as long as you stayed on the gravel. Water was running down all of the roads in the park from the hill area above. The staff reports that it hasn’t been this bad before.

Rain Bookends a Sunny Day

Monday May 14th 2018

To borrow a phrase with a little adaptation from Charles Dickens, it was the best of days. It was the worst of days. Today’s rain storms were the worst of the last few days, but the middle of the day was the sunniest and warmest. Heavy thunderstorms started around 5AM and continued with very little letup until after almost eleven. The afternoon was sunny and humid with a high temperature in the low eighties. This evening a sever thunderstorm warning was out until 10pm. Most of the storm passed to the south of here, but more storms are stacked up to the west.

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Surprisingly, the white blossoms in the flowering tree behind my RV survived the heavy rain.

This morning’s storms were very loud. Thunder could be heard all around and the rain fall rate produced a continuous roar as it hit the roof of my RV. There was some hail reported in the area, so it may have also added to the noise on the roof. More than two inches of rain fell during the morning storms. Some of the roads in the area flooded and the National Weather Service has issued additional flash flood warnings.

During the good weather part of the day I scouted out my departure route for tomorrow. I drove a few miles into Michigan to see what the roads were like and see if there was a suitable gas station on the way. I found good roads and lots of farms, but no gas stations. Checking the other direction for nearby gas stations also didn’t produce great results. The stations in the congested Elkhart area would be difficult to get in and out of. I found one that I’d use, but checking further north on my route with Google maps identified a better gas station. Gas prices also seem to have gone up since I arrived. Unleaded regular gas is almost three dollars a gallon at some stations. While I was out I stocked up on groceries for the next few days.

Back at the RV park this afternoon I started to pack up for tomorrows move. The outdoor stuff was dry enough to put away before it got wet again during the next round of storms. I also loaded my bicycle onto the back of the SUV. I really don’t have to hurry in the morning. My travel day should be short. I’m traveling less than one hundred miles. This campground is filling up with early arrivals to the rally that starts Thursday. They have also put up a party tent and vendors have started to setup in one of the halls. If the rally wasn’t consuming all of the available sites, I would have stayed here longer.

Another Good Do Nothing Day

Sunday May 13th 2018

It rained hard overnight. Several lines of thunderstorms passed through the area. The noise of the rain on the roof heralded each storm. By the time I got up this morning it was calm and quiet. The sun fought the clouds until late in the day when it broke through for a little while. The temperature peaked in the high sixties. More rain is predicted overnight.

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Cooking a steak just right on my 0-Grill.

The cloudy damp days continue to influence my activity level. For the fourth day in a row I pretty much stayed at home, watched TV and read. I made a brief trip out on Friday, but other than that I’ve been enjoying my time at home. The only down side has been the shift in my sleep schedule it has introduced. I’m going to bed late and getting up late. I need to correct that before Tuesday when I move.

For dinner today I grilled a steak. The O-Grill I bought in Las Vegas is really working out well. Its cast iron grill heats up well and provides a good seer on the meat. The grill’s small size also fits in my basement storage area well. My old grill didn’t get a lot of use, but this grill comes out every time I’m stopped for more than a couple of nights. To go with the steak I baked a potato in the microwave oven. I had planned to fry some onions too, but somehow it was still on the counter beside the sink when I put the dirty plate in after finishing my steak. The steak and potato were good even without the onions.

 

Another Enjoyable Do Nothing Day

Saturday May 12th 2018

It rained off and on all day. Occasionally it was heavy rain, but so far it hasn’t lived up to the forecast. The temperature has stayed in the mid fifties all day.

I haven’t experienced an extended period of cool wet weather like this one since the beginning of February in San Antonio TX. Most of the week I spent in the outskirts of the city were foggy, wet and cool. Prior to that the only period of more than a day and a half of rain that I can remember experiencing is in June of last year in Montana. That’s one of the good things about this lifestyle. Trying to stay in the areas of moderate temperature also means your less likely to be in the areas of extended bad weather. In line with that, I’ve also been wearing more short sleeve shirts and short pants than I have in my entire life. Not today. I’m not enjoying this cool spring weather.

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Golf on the TV was one of the distractions to the rain outside.

I stayed home today and watched TV. Between home improvement shows on HGTV, NCIS repeats on USA and Golf on NBC, I was thoroughly entertained. I managed to get out for a walk around the RV park during one of the periods of no rain. There wasn’t much activity in the park today. It looked like everybody was staying in their RVs, probably watching television like I was. I considered going out, but the only destinations I could think of were random stores and I don’t have anything particular on my shopping list.

Yesterday, the forecast for tomorrow and Monday was for better weather. Tonight’s evening news seems to have changed the forecast for tomorrow to another day like today. The weather steering currents aren’t strong enough to push the cold front and low pressure system away. More TV and reading may be in my future.

 

A Rainy Do Nothing Kind of Day

Friday May 11th 2018

It was a raw, cold and windy day. The rain started during the night and continued into the morning. Most of the remainder of the day has been miserable, but mostly dry. The rain is forecast to return overnight. Today’s high temperature was in the fifties. In the southern part of Indiana, a little more than one hundred miles south, it is in the eighties.

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The warmth of the fireplace came in handy today.

I’ve spent most of the day in front of my electric fireplace soaking up the warmth while watching TV and reading. I took one walk around the campground this afternoon. Most of the current park residents are short term. A major RV rally is scheduled to start the middle of next week. That’s the reason I have to move on next Tuesday. I think there will be very few non rally attendees in the park by this time next week. The Elkhart Campground is a good park and is very popular with RVers heading west on Interstate 80 & 90 or visiting the Elkhart area for service on their RVs.

I didn’t accomplish much today, but for a miserable day, I enjoyed it. Tomorrow is forecast to be a little cooler and a little wetter than today. Late in the day sever storms are forecast. I’ll probably need to find something to do other than watch TV. If it isn’t raining heavily I’ll do some driving around the area. Heavy rain will keep me near my RV home, maybe a visit to a store or two.

 

Cloudy Day and Nearby Politicians

Thursday May 10th 2018

It was cool and cloudy most of the day. The sun came out for a couple of hours late in the day to bring the temperature up to around 70 degrees. Tomorrow and Saturday are forecast to be cool with occasional showers. Long sleeves and sweat shirts are the clothing choices for the next few days.

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During the first half of the day it looked like it would rain at any moment. This area of dark clouds was behind my RV home to the north.

I hung around the RV most of the day working on odds and ends with some recreational reading thrown in. I also had to fight a battle with one of natures creatures today. A pair of robins have decided that the area behind the front wheel of my RV would be a good place to build a nest. I spotted one of the birds flying in with a beak full of straw. After I removed their construction twice, they seem to get the idea that it wasn’t a good place to build a nest. I’ll keep watching to make sure they don’t return and I’ll crawl under the front end and check before moving on next week. I don’t want their nesting materials to start a fire when I get the motor running.

The TV news people have been really excited about a visit to Elkhart by the President and Vice President. Mr. Trump won Indiana in 2016 by a sizable margin. He was here to help motivate that electorate to return republicans to the House and defeat the Democrat Senate incumbent in the fall. Tuesday was the primary election for those races in the fall. Mr. Pence, the former Governor of Indiana, was also here to visit family and deliver a commencement address in Michigan on Saturday.

For security and safety the President and Vice President traveled separately. Mr. Pence landed in South Bend first followed by the President close to an hour later. The TV stations had people at the airport to cover the landings of the planes live. The reporters I heard were gushing over the thrill of having the holders of such high office landing in their community. After watching Air Force 2 land with the VP, one reporter said it was one of the most thrilling experiences of her life. She then proceeded to describe the color scheme of the plane, as if no one had ever seen it before. I don’t know what she said after the President landed. The coverage was just so over the top.

The location for the speech and rally was not far from the campground I’m staying at. Streets in the area were closed and traffic was re-routed to accommodate the presidential motorcade during rush hour. I don’t know if anyone in the campground tried to attend the rally, but it was televised on all of the local TV stations. I had to switch to the satellite stations to avoid listening to the campaign speeches. They even preempted the prime time network shows. Starting the campaign rhetoric for congress before August is just too early.

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Blossom on a tree behind my RV home.  I thought I was trying to take a picture of a bee, but it darted away before the shot.

Hopefully, the politicians will be gone tomorrow and I can travel the area without worrying about traffic, protests and road closures.